Counsel and the Marriage Relationship

How would you define the word “counsel”?

Well here are two definitions, as a noun, “advice, esp. that given formally” and as a verb “give advice to (someone).”

What are some situations where you might want to seek counsel in your life? Why should we ask for advice?

Psalm 13:10 gives us a reason when the psalmist writes, “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”
Also Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

So this leads me to ask who should we turn to for counsel? We get a pretty clear picture in Job 28:20 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?” And again in Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”

In addition to Himself, God has given us our spouse (and other close friends) to help, support, and encourage us, but sometimes that’s the last person we want to get advice from, so we turn to everyone else first. But if God’s given us our spouse to help support and counsel us, how can we be receptive to it? How can we be better at giving it? This week when you face an issue (1) admit you need help, (2) ask God for help (3) and seek out those who God’s given you for advice.

Just one final note, there are areas of life that at first glance Scripture doesn’t seem to speak to and we can often turn to other experts for advice. Remember in those times their advice should never contradict Scripture.

Consideration, part 2

Too often I live my life focused, selfishly on myself, on my needs and desires. In Luke 15:11-32 we see two brothers exemplify how how we can do this. In our lives, we can have two postures towards God And since our relationship with God is reflected in how we related to others, we can relate this to our personal relationships with our spouse or others around us.

Brother #1 (prodigal son): life from the father
The prodigal son  wasn’t interested in a relationship with his father, just want he could get from him, and like the prodigal son did, we come back for what we want, but we still haven’t changed. The prodigal son didn’t come back asking for forgiveness, but instead realizes his life was be better with his father. So he stays in relationship with his father for what he can get from him. He’s got a consumeristic relationship. Giving up the world’s way to the good life in exchange for his father’s way to the good life.

Brother #2 (older brother):  life for the father
The older son lives a life for the father (which sounds okay at first). But really, he isn’t interested in a relationship with the father either though. He’s also interested in what the father can give him, but he’s going about it in a more socially acceptable and less obvious way. He’s concerned that his brother is back and getting something he hasn’t at the end of the story. The older son sees his value measured by what he accomplish for his father rather than his relationship with the father.

Let’s consider how this applies to a marriage relationship for a moment then. In our marriages, we can be like the prodigal son, in that we’re looking for what we can get from our spouse. Or we can be like the older brother, and pour our lives into our marriage, looking for the output at the end, only to be disappointed when it seems we are putting in more than we are getting out.

But let’s consider how Christ has modeled this for us. He has put in far more than we could ever reciprocate with for us to have a restored relationship with him. This is the model of how we should live out our marriage relationships, like  Christ loved the church, without regard for the return on our investment (Ephesians 5:25).

Consideration

In our couples group this week we talked about the idea of consideration.

How would you define consideration? What does is look like to give consideration? Think about it in the context of friendships and other relationships in your life. How do you live that out?

I know it’s not a perfect definition, but you could simply describe it as knowledge in action.

Knowledge. What are somethings you uniquely know about your spouse or another close friend in your life? I know in my wife’s case that she doesn’t like getting flowers all the time because she used to get them too often (thankfully I wasn’t the cause of that). But she really loves notes, and so over the past few years of our relationship I have slowly learned these types of things about her. This might seem to be a silly example, but he is what I want to point out. In order to give someone consideration you first need to know them.

in Action. Simple knowledge isn’t enough, but we need to use that knowledge to serve our spouse, and to serve them.

Why should we care about what someone else needs or wants?  Paul speaks to this in Philippians 2, when he tells us to follow Christ’s example of humility. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Now I don’t know about you but this is challenging!

RIP: The Forgotten Day of Creation

I recently taught through through the 10 commandments, and the Sabbath commandment really stood out to me this time around  (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). We see how Christ handles lives out this commandment when he heals in the temple of the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-5). But in order to understand that story, we should back up in the surrounding story to see where we came from. If we look as far back as Adam and Eve in the Garden before the fall, we see them walking with God, and then how sin makes them fearful of continuing in this (Genesis 3:8).

Fast forward and God gives the people of Israel a means to reconcile their relationship with him and calls them to follow many rules but the 10 Commandments in particular.

So it is no surprise that the Jewish people would have paid great attention to how to fulfill the details of the Law. Now the Israelites and their spiritual leaders had come to understand Deuteronomy 5:12 to refer to a complete cessation of all work, and in order to ensure they met this standard they established elaborate rules to apply it to their everyday (or in this case Sabbath day) life.

But in Mark 3:1-5, Jesus redirects them back to a more accurate understanding of the commandment. Again we will backup, this time to the previous chapter, Mark 2:27 where he speaks about the Sabbath stating, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

So we see in Mark 3:1-5 how Christ redirects our understanding of rest to be restoration and reconciliation to God’s original intent rather than a ceasing of all work.

So I believe the challenge for you and I is how do we rest in peace today? I don’t believe it was intended as a far off, future hope unattainable in this life. No, instead I believe our challenge is to rest in peace today, to be reconciled to our heavenly Father here and now through the work of His Son and to rest in that restored relationship with him. And then to take that restoration He’s given us and to share it, or let it influence everything around us.

What areas of our lives do we need rest or restoration in? Or where should we be living it out towards others?

Paul, A Servant of Christ Jesus

Romans starts out with, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus” (ESV) or “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (KJV).

How we describe ourselves is an important, and here we see how Paul chooses to identify himself. The word he uses (douloscan be translated also as “slave” which suggests a non-optional, total devotion, and that the individual is at the complete disposal of his or her Lord. Many would understand it more as “servant” suggesting a choice to work for, follow, and obey a master. I feel in light of the rest of Romans though that we don’t need to pick between these two English words, and instead that we see a tension through out Romans, that it is not an either/or-type but a both/and situation. We see in Romans that we are “bought with a price” so we are in a real sense slaves to Christ, but we also see a choice to follow him making ourselves servants.

What is important is the outcome of Paul’s view of himself, and for Paul this meant giving up his leadership position in the Jewish culture and enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel (see 2 Cor. 11:24-27).

So the question for us is what does it look like for you to be a servant to Jesus Christ like Paul has been?

Let’s consider first this: “If you can’t give it up, you don’t own it. It owns you!”

The problem this creates is that we all need some basic things so how can we be truly free? We can’t escape our basic needs like food and shelter. The result is that we are unwitting slaves to even our most basic needs.

(Legal disclaimer: Don’t try this at home) If you hold your breath eventually your body starts demand air. And while you can train yourself to hold out longer, you cannot prevent the final result of withholding air, death. So the question remains what will we allow ourselves to be owned by? We wont ever escape our needs or our worries about our needs, but who do we turn to for the fulfillment of these needs? Do we carry our own worries or give them to Christ?

So again, I ask what does it look like for you to be a slave, a servant to Jesus Christ? And what do you need to release to Christ in your own life to be truly free?

Lessons from Children’s Toys

Growing up I played with Lego’s all of the time. Building and creating castles, space ships, having wars between imaginary characters, racing cars, and more filled hours of my time. As I grew I started using more and more complicated toys, but as I reexamine this time in my life, and even today, I’ve found adult lessons in these childhood toys and experiences.

  • Lesson #1 – Making do.

Frequently when I’d be playing with Lego’s, I would find that I didn’t have the right parts to complete what I was trying to make. Now this forced me to rethink what I needed and caused me to think about how I could do it differently with the things I had. Sometimes in life we need to learn to make do with what we have.

  • Lesson #2 – Giving up.

When I’d run into problems like running out parts, one of the things that you’d have to do sometimes is just give up, because the resources just aren’t there. Sometimes in life that’s the best option. Sometimes we’ve head down a path, and we need to learn to give up, because it isn’t worth the trouble or there is something else more valuable to pursue.

  • Lesson #3 – Wanting More.

Now another option when I was running out of the right Lego parts was to want more parts. Although I rarely got to get more parts (except for Christmas or my birthday :) . This desire for more is coming from something different than just a selfish desire for stuff though. It is rooted in this concept of exploration and to do new and bigger things. Yet

This is the most interesting “adult” lesson of the three that I have mentioned thus far (and I’m sure there are more that you could pull from this simple example). Because we’ve taken something that is a “good” desire, a desire to learn, to try new things, to push the limits, and come crashing full speed into the barriers of real life. Unfortunately it’s easy for this innocent desire, to become an unhealthy desire, and a never ceasing life long desire for more. What can

Are we busy ensuring a bad thing won’t happen?

One of the most amazing things about youth is the ability to whole-heartedly chase after something with reckless abandon, and without concern for the impact on status quo (actually to us young folk, we think it’s normally better if it changes status quo).One of the most challenging things about youth is this same ability because

A quote from Seth Godin that was originally about businesses and corporations that I’ve adapted a little:

As you grow and get older, are you busy ensuring that a bad thing won’t happen that might upset your day, or are you aggressively investing in having a remarkable thing happen that will delight or move?
His full article via Seth’s Blog

What is it about life that takes our excitement, energy, and passion and difuses it into so many different things, masking it beyond recognition? I’ve slowly started to see it’s affect in my life as I’ve gotten more and more responsibilities through work and church. So one of the things I’ve found helpful for maintaining my excitement and energy to try new ideas is to combine.

Life’s busy, and we don’t have time for everything, so whenever possible I combine! For example I can combine my passion for people and technology all of the time. Whether it’s setting up a new website for my wife’s school thereby combining helping the school with my desire to keep learning and implementing technology, or it’s using Google Docs to coordinate scheduling and resources for the Children’s Ministry we lead as a couple. At work I look for opportunities to learn about new technology and apply it to the needs of my job.

Don’t spend your life ensuring a bad thing won’t happen. Ensure a good thing will happen!

The Reality Around Us

Have you ever told someone or been told by someone, you can really understand it until you’ve experienced it? Until you go and do the actual thing you won’t fully understand what’s going on?

In this situation we are defining real or reality as the full experience of the emotion, time, place, and actions that occured. We hear mothers say that in order to understand and fully motherhood, you have to experience child birth (and I’m not disagreeing). But the assumption we are implying by these statements is the inseparable nature of our feelings and emotions from an experiences with a truer understanding of reality. We are unintentionally recognizing that our emotions and feelings are of relevance, and that reality is not complete without them.

But this implied belief is questioned by many when you move to the area of faith and believe. When dealing with items of faith and believer, we are quick to dismiss the feelings and and emotions of our experience, claiming what is real is only what I can logically prove or scientifically repeat. We introduce a new, different definition of reality. New rules and standards that our experience must be judged by, a double standard.

Too poor to own a donkey

312,119,301 – approximate number of people in the United States currently

255,917,664 – number of registered vehicles in the United States as of 2008

So we have approximately 8 cars for every 10 people in the United States. That’s a lot of transportation right? Now consider how Jesus entered Jerusalem. He had to borrow a donkey to ride in, and he didn’t even try to upgrade to a horse.

As a child I’ve heard this story told over and over again, pointing out God’s control over nature (Jesus being able to ride a donkey that had previously never been ridden and probably as a result trained to have a person ride on it), or his provision, by allowing his disciples to be able to get this donkey for him, but I was recently challenged to think of how it shows Christ position financially and materially in this world.

How should this make us view our luxury of having a car? As a right? I realize that the car is a tool for many, a means, of getting too and from work, providing for families, and has allowed our country to grow, so I don’t want for a second to make someone feel like they shouldn’t ever own a car. But our perspective towards cars I believe is too often skewed towards viewing it as a “must” or something we deserve.

So this is not a guilt trip for owning a car, but rather a comment on the perspective we take about our car.

The Gospel of Mark

I’m in Mark reading for our small group challenge before and after work today, and it is interesting to me how Christ spends his time in the first few chapters of Mark, as best as I can sum it up, he’s explaining how to live according to the kingdom of God. Deep theology being taught as a part of how we should live our daily lives. Not explicit theology or doctrine 101, but implicit in how we are commanded to live out our lives.

but still all right