Category Archives: Journal

1 Corinthians 13: The Marriage Version (with my apologies to King James)

Though I speak to my spouse using diplomatic “I feel” messages and skillful conflict-resolution strategies, but do not love, I am become as sounding brass or as a car alarm that won’t shut off. And though I have an advanced degree in marriage counseling and understand the mysteries of why people do what they do and have all knowledge of psychology; and though I read a mountain of books on relationships, but do not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my good efforts to fulfill my duties, and though I burn up every drop of energy in being a great spouse, but do not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love is patient even when a spouse does not change; love is kind even when a spouse is thoughtless; love does not envy another marriage; love is not impressed with its own marriage skills.

Franciscan Fine ChinaLove does not save its “fine china” manners for company; love is courteous and polite. Love looks out of a spouse’s eyes to see from another’s perspective. Love is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil; instead, love assumes a spouse’s best intentions. Love does not delight in any threat to the relationship, but rejoices in healing and in strengthening. Love always protects the marriage, always believes that a spouse is priceless and made in the image of God, always trusts the promises of God, and is always confident that God’s grace is deeper than any need. Love never shuts its heart, never forsakes its covenant commitment, and never rejects a spouse.

Child rolled tongueLove never faileth: but whether there be prophecies that “you should move on with your life,” they shall fail; whether there be tongues that say that “your spouse is a jerk,” they shall cease; whether there be knowledge that “you deserve better than this,” it shall vanish away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became married, it was time to put away childish things, such as self-centeredness and quitting and valuing what feels easy.

For now we see through a glass, darkly, and there is much that we do not understand about our spouses, about ourselves, or about God’s ways; but then, face to face with God, we shall know fully what glorious things He has been doing through our marriages, just as He knows fully now how to love us well.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Responses to Nakedness (part 2 of 4)

Drunk and naked in his tent? That is how we find Noah in chapter 9 of Genesis, and it is a  startling situation to find. After all, Noah was introduced to us as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9, NIV). This unusual situation, although it may be uncomfortable for us, provides an excellent illustration of the “approaches to nakedness” principles.
1. Noah’s son Ham “saw his father’s nakedness and told” others about it.  This is the way of the serpent: when nakedness (weakness, wounding, or sin) is revealed, it is used to shame, dishonor, or accuse.
2. In contrast, when Shem and Japheth learned of their father’s nakedness, they “took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness.Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:23, NIV) This is God’s way: when nakedness is revealed, the one who loves will seek to bring healing and to restore honor.
In marriage, when we encounter the wounds and brokenness (“nakedness”) of our spouses, we can choose to respond like the serpent and Ham, or like God, Shem, and Japheth. If we choose to shame or degrade, we reduce ourselves spiritually to crawling on our bellies and eating dust, like the serpent. If we choose to dishonor, we will find ourselves cursed as “the lowest of slaves,” like Ham (Genesis 9:25, NIV).
However, instead of shaming, we can work to bring healing and honor. Like Shem and Japheth, we can walk into the darkness and make effort to restore honor. While we do not love the brokenness, we willingly enter those areas and work to love well in those areas. When we do this, we are responding as God responded to us.

Previous post

Next post

 

Two Different Responses to Nakedness (part 1 of 4)

In the first few chapters of Scripture, we learn that Satan seeks to reveal our nakedness in order to shame us and to accuse us. But God seeks to cover our nakedness in order to honor us and to heal us. He was willing to give us His clothing at Calvary; He was willing to be naked and shamed and accused in our place.

Within marriage, spouses are revealed to one another. If they follow the serpent’s lead, they will use their “knowing” of one another to shame, to accuse, and to destroy. If they choose to reflect God instead, they will use their knowing of one another to honor and to heal. They will be willing even to suffer so that the other is healed.

Next post

Want to be Great?

“[In] God’s eyes, nothing is more significant than servanthood.  . . . Grasping for power or recognition is natural. Servanthood is supernatural. So many [people] are missing out on the supernatural today because they are caught up in the ‘search for significance.’ Ironically, the more they search for it, the less satisfied they feel.  Why? Significance is found in giving your life away, not in selfishly trying to find personal happiness.”  (Gary and Betsy Ricucci, quoted by Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage, p. 182. Bolding is mine.)

Is “Submission” a Bad Word?

I have gone from cringing at the word “submission” to realizing that submission to God is one of the most powerful spiritual principles there is!
Submitting to God is like getting on my knees to crawl into a tiny box. It feels confining, but then I realize that the inside of the box is larger than the outside of the box!  After humbling myself, I find that God has brought me into “a spacious place” that wide and free. I find that I have submitted my darkness to His sunshine; I have submitted my foolishness to His wisdom. (Apparently, someone had been lying to me about submission!)
When I let my self-will stand up, I think I am protecting myself; but actually, I am walling myself in, creating a dungeon that will become my tomb. All of the awesome goodness of God is on the other side of my raised-up, unsubmitted self-will. When I lower the walls of my self-will by submitting to God, I am letting down the walls of my dungeon, like lowering a drawbridge.  And now I see that I had walled out the One I most desired, the Lover of my soul.

What motivates God?

I have sometimes said, “God would rather die than live without us.”  That is true, but I think that it is a deeper truth (more accurate) to say that God would rather die than see us live without Him. That is, God, who is completely other-focused, was primarily motivated to die for us not so that He could gain us but so that we could gain Him, the Glorious God whom we so desperately need.  It is His great delight to be Awesome God to us.