Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Service Industry

Who doesn't like good service? If you take your wife out to a nice restaurant, you expect to have good service or at least service that doesn't make you stop to think, “Hey, where is my food” or “Why did I get fish when I ordered chicken?” You know what I’m talking about. Most of us have been on the receiving end of poor service at one time or another. However, we desire and expect good service from those in the “service” industry.

Stop and think for a minute. Have you ever considered yourself in the service industry?  If you are married, you have willingly placed yourself into the service industry whether you were aware of it or not. Now, many of us fail to see that we are called to serve our spouse, which often becomes a common ground for arguments, frustration, and disappointment. Nonetheless, as a husband or wife you are called to humbly serve your spouse. We have a great example of what this type of service is supposed to look like.

In Mark 10:35-45, a situation arises where James and John are promoting themselves wanting to sit at Jesus’ side when He sits on His throne in glory. Out of all twelve disciples, they were saying to Jesus, “We want to be the ones who receive special honor and recognition amongst all others.” There seemed to be a self-seeking interest taking place that failed to take into consideration the others in their midst. Understanding what was going on, Jesus pointed out to them a reality that often takes place with this type of attitude. There are some who have positions of authority and receive special honor and recognition but instead of serving others, they choose to lord it over them. However, this neglect of position should never happen. So Jesus tells the disciples that if they really want to be great and do something worthwhile, they should enter into the “service” industry. He called them to humbly serve God and one another. Is this not what Jesus showed them in His own life as well? He tells them that “He came not to be served but to serve and even give His life up as a ransom for others,” (Mark 10:45). He willingly entered the “service” industry.

So, if we are married, we are in a perfect position to practice this act of humble service. However, we often seek only to be served and are disappointed if that service doesn't reach our standard. Instead of looking out for our own interest, let’s start looking out for the interest of our spouse and realize we are called into the “service” industry. Look for ways you can serve and thereby empower your spouse to be all that God is calling him/her to be.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plugging In

When electronics are “plugged in,” they typically work because they’re connected to a power source. Or, when they’ve been plugged in and charged, you can unplug them and they usually operate at the capacity you expect them to operate. For example, when I plug in my phone to the electrical outlet that provides the power to charge it, I can expect to have about 8 hours or so hours of operation before I have to plug it in again. But, if I never plug it in, it won’t function as I would like for it to. But, not only does it need to be plugged in, it has to be plugged in to the right source. A power plug designed for 120 volts won't work for a receptacle that has been designed for 220 volts. You have to be plugged into the right source to get the outcome desired.

In much of the same way, if we expect to grow in our relationship with Jesus and our spouses, we have to plug into the right source. We can’t expect to grow if we never plug in or if we attempt plugging into the wrong source.

In Mark 1:35, we get a great picture of what it looks like to plug into the right source. Shortly after Jesus enters into His public ministry, people begin to come to Him in droves to hear His teaching and to be healed from their infirmities. One particular day, He had already spent time teaching in the Synagogue, casting out unclean spirits, and even healing Peter’s mother-in-law. When it was evening, people continued to come to Him. He was able to get no rest and time to recharge. But because Jesus has compassion for people, He took the time with them. So you can imagine the fatigue that Jesus must have felt. He would be in need of a good charging. After this event we read, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.” After being depleted by the demands and requests of a whole town, Jesus knew He needed to “unplug” from the town for a minute and get “plugged in” to the right source and be recharged. He went out, away from everything and everyone, and prayed to God. The strength that He knew He needed in His earthly body would be found and sourced in God.

Often, before we can get “plugged in” to the right source, we have to “unplug” from other things. We often hear husbands and wives frustrated that they don’t feel connected to one another anymore. They wish they could connect with one another but there just seems to be something blocking that from happening. But, then we turn and see the same couples always “plugged in” to something. They constantly have a phone in their hand, and an iPad on their lap, the television on, or are updating their status and checking everyone else’s on Facebook. They’re always plugged in to something but what they’re plugged into may be distracting them from their relationship together.

What if couples “unplugged” from all the tech and started plugging into a real source of power for their marriage. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, knew He needed to stay plugged into God while on earth. Perhaps if we plugged into God together in our marriage, we might experience His power in our lives to rejuvenate, refresh, restore and reignite passion. Unplugging from distractions and plugging into Him and your marriage may just remove the frustration of not feeling connected and present the opportunity to have a stronger connection than ever. There is real power when connected to the right source.

What are you plugged into?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fighting Through the Rubble

In the past year, there have been several tornadoes and storms that have wreaked havoc throughout the United States. Whenever one of these deadly storms settles in, destruction follows leaving nothing but ruin and rubble. After the storm concludes its dashing of hopes, the clean-up efforts shortly follow. But what happens in between the devastation and the recovery process?

Those who have seen their homes and communities destroyed can look around and be utterly devastated and rightly so. Everything that they had of earthly value  has been destroyed.  All of their years of hard work, building, and maintaining homes ended in destruction and sits in rubble. Frustration and a lack of hope can then set in.

In Nehemiah 4:10-14, the people of Israel faced a similar situation. Their homes had not been destroyed by deadly storms. Rather, their homes and city had been destroyed by the Babylonians before being taken into captivity. After being in exile, they finally return to see all the damage that had been done to their homes and the wall to their city. Obvious frustration was there but the clean-up process began anyway. In the middle of rebuilding the city wall, they were faced with opposition and discouragement. It soon became clear that it was hard for them to see past all the rubble. The fact that there was so much work to be done and so little to work with was beginning to wear them down. But, in the face of the opposing Sanballat and Tobiah, Nehemiah encouraged the people to work through the rubble and continue the “clean-up.” He also encouraged them to shift their focus away from the rubble and upon God. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes,” (Neh. 4:14b).

Many times, we look out at our situations in our marriage and all we see is rubble. We feel like a tornado has just come in and ripped everything apart and it’s all sitting in brokenness on the ground. We are led to believe that they are damaged so badly that there is no conceivable way of restoration. We’ve both hurt each other and feel hurt by the other and we say things like “we’ve just grown apart” and just know that the end is in sight. There is rubble all around and we think there is nothing to build upon or with. But there is something there to work with. Even though it may be rubble and take a great deal of hard work, there is still something to work with. The “clean-up” process is worth it but tough.  We cannot do it alone. Just as Nehemiah refocused the people’s glance from the rubble to the greatness of God, we need to recast our vision. NO, we cannot work through the rubble on our own. We need the mighty hand of God at work. But it can be done. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Just because a storm has blown in and left things a mess in your marriage doesn’t mean that it has to stay in the rubble. By the grace of God and your disciplined work, it can be rebuilt. Let’s start the clean-up efforts!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Someone is Watching

We hear statements all the time that make us scratch our head and think, “Is that really true?” For example, we’ve heard that if you lay with dogs you’ll get flees, that the music we listen to can affect us and maybe even that the movies we watch have the potential of influencing our thoughts and actions. These statements make us step back and think, “Are they really true?” Parents, educators, and psychologists have wrestled with these and other similar questions for decades.
            A question that I often ask myself is this, “Does the way I treat my wife matter to more than just me?” Are there others who are affected? I believe the answer to this is an emphatic, yes! If you have children, there are little eyes watching what you do and what you say. The way my two children see me treat their momma will give them an impression about how they are to treat and be treated by their spouse one day. If they see me treat her with contempt, impatience, and unforgiveness they will learn to think that is normal and suffer the instability that comes along. However, if they see me treat her with love, patience, and forgiveness, they will likewise learn to see that is the norm within a stable home.
On a larger scale, the way we treat our spouses matter because it speaks directly into the heart of your children. It communicates the love that Christ has shown to His children. The apostle Paul tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave His life for her. And wives are to respect their husbands as the church shows respect and submission to Christ. (Ephesians 5:24-25). When a child sees their daddy sacrificially loving their momma in words and action they can get a real tangible glimpse at the love Jesus has for His children. Similarly, when a child sees how momma is honoring and respecting their daddy, they can get a real picture at how they will one day learn to have a wonderful respect and love for their Savior Jesus.
Someone is watching! How a husband and a wife interact within their marriage is deeply important for their children. They are watching and will grow to love their future spouse the way they see you loving yours.
So if we ever hear a statement wondering about if it matters how we treat our spouse, we know that we don’t have to stop and scratch our heads to think about it. We know that it does because there is someone watching.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Knowing and being Known

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been in the position where we’ve walked into a room and didn’t know a single person there. It’s perhaps one of the most awkward positions we find ourselves in.  Something about that scene is unsettling for many of us. Going from junior high to high school, from high school to college or from college into your new work environment, you’re faced with meeting new people that have no clue who you are. This is unsettling for us because deep inside we have a desire to know and be known. We desire deep relationships that go beyond the surface. It’s part of the way that God has designed us. He’s designed us to be in relationship with not only Him but others as well. And the more intimately we know and are known the healthier the relationship is. The closest human relationship that one can enter into is the marriage relationship.

The same phenomenon is found in marriage. We want to deeply know our spouse while having them know and understand us. Many times we don’t know how to communicate that truth but the reality is there. But the difficulty in this sometimes comes when we fear being open and honest with one another. And there are several factors that can keep us from being open with each other. Maybe we fear being judged, fear being rejected, or fear not really being understood or heard. There is risk involved when we become vulnerable with one another yet it is needed for us to grow together. But, truly seeking to understand one another crosses the bridge from giving lip service to saying you know your spouse to really getting to know them. The more you seek to truly understand each other, the healthier your marriage will be. Healthy couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world (Gottman). But if you aren’t seeking to know and be known, it will be easy for your marriage to get knocked of course when different seasons arise in your lives.

Let’s keep our spouse from being in a room where they don’t know anyone. Let’s try to know and understand them while being open and vulnerable in return. Through this, let’s watch couples grow closer together while they are knowing and being known.

--Sit down with your spouse and have some Q and A with them. Have fun with it and get to know each other again or for the first time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Beautiful Design

Have you ever looked around and wondered what on earth is happening with marriage? We desperately want to think of a couple we know or have been exposed to that really has a rock star marriage. BUT, we can’t think of one or remember the last time we witnessed it. Although the culture would disagree, there is something in us that still believes that marriage is something beautiful. The idea of two people coming together and forming one is a spectacular happening that communicates so much love and oneness that is uncommon. That’s why it’s beautiful.  Unfortunately, the reality is we want to see it in this light, but we don’t see many great examples.
There is a beautiful design however. In Genesis 2:18-25 there is a phenomenal picture of what marriage was designed to be. The Creator God had formed Adam fully aware that he would be well served with someone just like him to be in relationship with. So He formed the woman to be a perfect mate for him. And then after creating her from the side of Adam, God did something that was remarkable. He took the woman, whom He had perfectly created and invested Himself into, and handed her to Adam entrusting her care and well being to him. And we read that they were both naked (physically and emotionally) before each other and there was no shame. The two became one and were perfectly united in oneness just as the Godhead was and is. It was an awesome design that demonstrated the love and oneness of God thereby glorifying His name. So the beautiful design of marriage was first to demonstrate the oneness of God.
Marriage, wasn’t a product of the culture nor a way to benefit financially when two became one. It was a union that said everything about who God was and that was its design. It showcased the God who was three in one, completely united, and in complete oneness.  
So as we look around and fail to see the beautiful marriages we hoped to see, let’s remember that there is a perfect design. Let us aim for the oneness that was demonstrated in the first marriage. Let’s make our marriage a rock star marriage and point people to the original design that seeks to honor the God who created it.