Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

When I set out to blog, I made the commitment to be transparent in my writings and never sugar-coat the stories of my faith journey.  It is easy to write about the good things that God does in our lives.  Yet when we slip or when things aren’t working out quite as nicely as we would like, we can easily gloss over or ignore a significant part of life that likely carry’s meaning to many, simply for the sake of putting up a good front.  Today I am compelled to share a recent chastisement from the Lord.  Partly this is to highlight an aspect of God’s nature that is often mis-characterized.  Also, it is because the trap I fell into is very easy to slip into even if it is hidden in plain view.

In my last post, ALL, I wrote about Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandment and what our love of God with all that we are looks like.  What you don’t know is that I wrote that a week ago under what I sensed was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  But I hadn’t quite finished it.  While we have had a lot transpire in our family over the past week, there is no reason why I didn’t finish the post sooner.  I had clear nudges to do so, but I kept busy and I kept putting it off.

For much of my life I have risen early to spend 1 – 2 hours in bible study, prayer, and occasionally blogging.  But for the last week I would wake up very early, usually before my alarm would go off, with a strong sense of needing to spend quiet time with the Lord.  But I would reason that I could pray just fine snuggled in my warm bed.  Somehow one or two sentences in prayer would occur and the next thing I knew it was an hour or more later.  By the time I would arise, it was time to start the day’s activities.  Needless to say, my attempts at a quiet time were rushed, stilted, and not really a time of connection.  It was more like a child rushing through the kitchen late for school, snatching at whatever they can for breakfast before sprinting out the door.  It might have the appearance of eating breakfast, but nutrition it was not.  My quiet times had become like that – an appearance of the right thing, but connection with God and edification, it was not.

Tuesday of this week I did respond to the nudge.  I was up early and I got into the Word.  Afterward I slipped outside where a light rain was falling.  With an awareness of my lack of direction lately I whispered a prayer, “Lord, please steer me.”  Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “The boat has to be moving for the rudder to work.”  Oh my!  I am used to God’s encouragement and gentle correction, usually when I turn in repentance after I realize I have made a mistake.  In this case, I had been a little lazy for several days, but I assumed that getting up early was a good sign on my part.  The rebuke was firm, clear, and thankfully cut through my self-satisfaction.

Since our relationship is with the omniscient God, there is no hiding our true thoughts, feelings, and motivations.  If we are not careful, we can slip into self-deception and “think” we are fine.  But, getting into the Word, spending real connected time with the Father is the antidote we all need.  When we do, He will guide us into the way of truth and life.  And if we need more than a little nudge, He can provide that too.  The important thing on our end is to embrace His loving nudges and His firmer chastisement and follow Him diligently.  It ties into the last post.  When we are giving Him only part of our attention, part of our heart or soul or mind or strength, we are falling short of His high calling upon us.  It is not God who is lessened when we are not fully devoted to Him, but us.

Friends, I pray that your walk will be marked with consistent progress and Godly joy and peace.  But, when you do begin to veer off course, I encourage you to readily accept and embrace the Lord’s loving correction, however He may give it.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  He knows you intimately and His desire is always for your good.  Jeremiah 29:11 affirms this.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Be blessed my friend.  And be God’s blessing to someone today.

Read Full Post »

Lisa and I attended a Real Marriage conference the past two days.  Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace brought the message that Real Marriage is fun.  As I have shared in earlier posts, God has done a wonderful work in our marriage over the past 2+ months and the catalyst for all of this was Lisa’s broken leg.  Our marriage has gone from OK (which means it’s a relatively successful business partnership with occasional periods of zing) to amazing in this brief a time span because we have begun practicing the majority of what Grace and Mark talked about… and we had not read the book yet.  As I listened to Mark speak I realized that for many people learning about the 4 big ideas will revolutionize their marriage.  For Lisa and I it drilled home truths that we knew as head knowledge, but we had not made heart knowledge that we acted upon consistently.  Lisa’s leg break has caused us to act from the heart much more than from the head.  I think God graciously timed this conference so we could establish these principles in our marriage from henceforth.

One more point before I dive into today’s post.  During the conference there was a brief demonstration of Logos Bible Software.  It looks like a great tool for really digging into the Word of God.  They picked out this verse from John 4.  23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Obviously the words from the original text often have other subtle shifts in meaning.  The word for truth carries with it the sense of nothing hidden or transparent.

As I awoke this morning I realized that for most of my life I have worked hard to control how I (or my family) are viewed by others.  Since becoming a Christian I have worked to be a believer who looks right, talks right, and lives right.  I believe I have missed the mark at times though because I tried to put on faith in the way of my choosing and not allow God to create that faith within me.  Ephesians makes it clear that faith is a gift from God 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Often I am more concerned with what others think that simply doing what pleases God.  The motivation was wrong.

The first “big idea” Mark and Grace introduced was that spouses must be best friends.  They gave a picture of three types of relationships.  Back-to-back which represents an unhealthy, adversarial relationship.  Shoulder-to-shoulder which represents that working together to accomplish a set of goals much like a business partnership.  And the third which is Face-to-face.  Face-to-face is the pattern God has for friendship and particularly for marriage.  We have lived in the shoulder-to-shoulder marriage for most of our almost 27 years.  It is not that I didn’t love my wife and express my commitment to her often.  But I did not look her in the eye and show her the love, respect, and admiration that she needed and I, as the husband of a wonderful woman, should provide.

The second big idea was that marriages need regular trash removal and clean up to be healthy and whole.  Marriages are unions of two sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness.  We were given examples of how to “fight” in a way that ushers in healing and growth and not ever-increasing pain and isolation.  I am sure I will speak on this more in other posts.

The third bid idea was that sex is a gift God has given within the context of marriage to be enjoyed.  This contrasts against the unholy view the world has that places sex as a god and the equally invalid view of sex as gross.  The later view unfortunately is all too common within church circles.  Again this is a topic for another time.

The last topic asked the question “Are you a selfish lover or a servant lover?”  Like so many questions of this nature, I know what the answer is supposed to be.  I mean I am in church so it has to be servant lover – right?  This is another time when the word truth and the subtle meaning of nothing hidden whacks me right between the eyes… I am still a selfish person so much of the time.  While I hate to have to admit that, it is true.  Lord help me to abandon my selfish ways, thoughts, words, and actions.

When Lisa and I first married, we immediately plunged into life at a fairly breakneck pace.  Rhiannon was just a little shy of 2 years old when we got married so we were already a family.  Lisa continued working for a brief period and then she stopped working so she could go to college full-time.  Before long the next child and then the next arrived.  Soon the Momma to do list was always longer than the what-Momma-accomplished list.

We honestly did not disagree or fight much at all.  Today I recognize that this may not have been the best thing because it allowed small issues to be stuffed away rather than dealt with and resolved.  Undercurrents of dissatisfaction began growing and this began to manifest itself in less intimacy.  I can so relate to the shoulder to shoulder kind of relationship because the relatively small amount of face-to-face we had experienced was now replaced with almost exclusively shoulder to shoulder.  Things which should have been brought out into the open and discussed were left to fester.  Sadly, but in being totally honest, the back-to-back which had never been a part of our marriage, began to show up.  Mark mentioned that a sure sign of an unhealthy friendship within the marriage was going to sleep back-to-back.  Well this had become us.

My heavy travel schedule (read busy and not at home much) and Lisa’s successful (read busy and not engaged at home much) allowed only a few opportunities to really talk about and deal with the dissatisfaction and frustration we were both feeling.

Now I have to step back just a moment in time to give you a little more background in what was going on inside of me.  I recognized that the dissatisfaction was not healthy.  I had prayed for some time for God to heal our marriage.  Now while I was open to the fact that we both probably needed to change I know my hope and intent was for God to fix Lisa.  And I thank God that He is faithful and doesn’t just leave us to our own devices.  During this period He consistently spoke to me exactly what was needed.  “Dan, love Lisa like I love the church.”  I could not get anything else… because I was not doing this.  Don’t misunderstand, I resolved every time to love Lisa better.  Reading the rest of Ephesians 5 where Paul writes about this, I knew that meant I had to die for her.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t.

Rhiannon, our oldest daughter, recently shared how her Mom’s broken leg changed her life.  Well that is my story too.  My love for Lisa has come out of this as more real and tangible.  I recognize a difference and my beloved does as well.  A lot of selfishness has been blown away.  (I look forward to the day when ALL of it is gone, but until then I am walking by faith.)  It’s really funny, before Lisa broke her leg I would get frustrated that I had to come home from 3 or 4 days away and I had to do a “lot” of household chores.  Today I am doing at least 4 times that and not only am I not frustrated, I am happy to be a help to Lisa.  It is amazing.

On Lisa’s side a transformation is taking place as well.  Mark mentioned that husbands are unrealistic if they expect their wives to look at 50 what they looked like at 25.  After 4 children and a sweet tooth that she often satisfied, Lisa did not look like she had at 25 and I was unrealistic.  Since she broke her leg she has lost 40 pounds… and she still is not able to walk or put weight on her leg.  And she has done this in a healthy manner.  I know because I fix most of her meals at her direction.  I am excitedly looking forward to the day when Lisa’s leg has healed and we can hike together.  I want to hike in the mountains finding scenic waterfalls hidden among the rhododendron together.

It is my hope and prayer that someone out there can benefit from our story.  While I wish Lisa didn’t have to endure the pain of a broken leg, I am so thankful that God has moved through this difficult time to bring so much good.  And Lisa feels the same.  Our laughter and joy has simply exploded the past two months.  And we can only give God all the credit.  He has done marvelously, miraculously more than we could ever ask or imagine.  To Him be the glory, honor, praise and dominion forever and ever.  Amen!

PS. I strongly recommend Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book: Real Marriage – The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together.

Read Full Post »