The Death of The Dream

The death of the dream happens to every couple. None of us gets our dream in the way that we dreamt it, because none of us is writing our own story. God, in his love, writes a better story than we could ever write for ourselves. He has a better dream than the one we conceive. He knows much better than we do what is best for us. He will take us places that we never intended to go because, in doing so, we become more of what he re-created us in Christ to be. Could it be that as we begin to face the harsh reality of the death of our individual and shared dreams, we are not struggling to love one another but are being given the opportunity to love one another more than ever before? It is when attraction wanes, flaws show, and the dream dies that real love has its best opportunity to germinate and grow. This sad and disillusioning moment is not the end of it all, but the beginning of something wonderful. We could argue that God now has us right where He wants us. We are no longer attracted to one another out of self-centered desire. We are no longer holding onto our dream, because it has melted away before our very eyes. We are hurt and frightened because what had fueled our relationship is gone, and we don’t know what to do. But this is not a defeat; this is an opportunity to exit the small space of the kingdom of self and to begin to enjoy the beauty and benefits of the kingdom of God. What appears to be love may not be love, and when God reveals that, it is a very good thing. What happened to us did not happen because God was absent from our marriage. No, it happened precisely because God was present and was rescuing us from ourselves and giving us what we could not produce on our own. 1

February 20th begins a six week study of What Did You Expect, an amazing study of what God intended marriage for.  The above paragraph is a paraphrase of a section in chapter three.  It was hugely impactful because it was reflective of our marriage and is reflective of every marriage I have ever known.

Interested in joining us, click here.

  1. Tripp, Paul David. What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (pp. 49-50). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Guard His Reputation-A Word for Wives

Proverbs 12:4

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,

but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

What is your husband’s reputation with your friends?  When they meet him do they expect to meet Superman or Homer Simpson?  When you speak of your husband in his absence do you focus on his strengths or do you complain about his shortcomings.  No one knows him as you do and his reputation is often at your mercy.  Ephesians 4:29 commands “ Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  There is no place where this is more important than in your marriage.

Today think about how you talk about and to your husband.  Do you build him up or destroy him when you speak about him?  Today, commit to building his reputation in his absence and telling him at least one thing you admire about his character in his presence.  Is he committed to attending the kid’s school activities, tell him how much you appreciate his commitment to the children.  Does he work long hours to provide for his family, tell him how much you appreciate his sacrifice.  The ongoing habit of thanksgiving and encouragement is a significant long term investment in a marriage, especially when you are investing in your man.

Accessing The Power For Marriage

Ephesians is considered the cornerstone scripture for marriage. Ephesians 5:22 starts the instructions concerning wives and husbands specifically.  In this passage we hear the often quoted “love your wife as Christ loved the church” and the controversial quote of “wives submit to your husband in all thing.”  I have heard these scriptures often throughout my marriage but it was literally decades before I started looking not only how I should be loving, but instead, where I would get the ability to love that sacrificially.  If love and submission are the light that comes from the flashlight of marriage, what are batteries?

The answer is found a few scriptures back, in Ephesians 5:18 where we are instructed to be “filled with the spirit.” The subsequent scriptures provide guidance concerning how you will act towards your spouse, children, servants and masters but it is being “filled with the spirit” that provides the resources you need for these relationships. The spirit is the source of power for a Christian marriage.  So, what does it mean to be filled with the spirit?

John McArthur in his commentary on Ephesians says this: “To be filled with the Spirit is to live in the consciousness of the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, as if we were standing next to Him, and to let His mind dominate our life. It is to fill ourselves with God’s Word, so that His thoughts will be our thoughts, His standards our standards, His work our work, and His will our will. As we yield to the truth of Christ, the Holy Spirit will lead us to say, do, and be what God wants us to say, do, and be. “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Christ consciousness leads to Christ likeness.” 1

It is when we think with the mind of Christ and submit to the will of Christ that we can express the life of Christ to our spouse.  Our thinking influences our emotions, our emotions influence our actions.  Marital problems give us the opportunity to explore the source we are living from like no other relationship.  When Patty and I are arguing I have the opportunity to ask myself “am I expressing the desires of the Spirit, or am I expressing the desires of the flesh (what I want)?”  Some times I am living from the Spirit and what I am advocating is needed.  More often I am living from the flesh and what I am advocating is what I want or feel I need.  The good news is, now that I know I need to check the battery, I can redirect my thinking to where God is calling me faster than I used to.  During all of the trials we face in life, especially the trials we face in marriage, we need to be checking the source of our thinking and actions.

1 MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Set of 30 volumes (Macarthur New Testament Commentary Serie) (Kindle Locations 170024-170029). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Purpose of Marriage

“Strengthening your ministry by strengthening your marriage.”  This is the mission statement of Three Strands Ministry and is founded on Biblical principles regarding marriage.  These foundational scriptures can be discovered in Genesis, Colossians, Corinthians, Ephesians, and 1st Timothy.  I have been thinking a lot about these scriptures and recently heard a podcast from our friends at Fierce Marriage concerning scripture and marriage.   This has motivated me to think a little deeper about what scripture says about our marriage.   I personally love the science behind marriage; communication, sexuality, emotion, etc.   However, as believers, we need a strong understanding about what scripture has to say about a covenant marriage.  Over the next few weeks we will explore what scripture says about the purpose of marriage, the joy of marriage, the power for marriage, the enemy of marriage and the ultimate marriage.  Come back weekly for more.

Your Marriage is not About Your Marriage

A strong marriage is not an end to itself.  A strong marriage creates a foundation from which to minister and serve.  A strong marriage reflects the image of Christ and the Church.  A strong marriage creates a fellowship between two people which strengthens both partners and allows them to better express their giftedness and talents.  A strong marriage forms the foundation of a stable church and therefore creates a stronger foundation for cities, states and countries.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Fellowship

In Genesis we see the first purpose of marriage, fellowship.  God created the heavens and earth, placed man in the garden, gave him a job and said “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  It is the first time that God created and did not say “It is good.”  This is often referred to the “pregnant pause” in creation where God focuses on his preparation for woman.  He puts Adam to work naming animals and as Adam does so, he finds that there is a female for every male, “but no suitable helper could be found.”  (Genesis 2:20)  God made sure Adam knew what it was like to be alone so he would appreciate the fellowship of his wife.  When she was created he was so happy he actually broke out into song.

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

Genesis 2:23

Additionally, marriage is about woman being created for man as a loving partner (Genesis 2, Proverbs 5:19), a wise adviser (Proverbs 31),  and as a family manager (1 Timothy 5:14).  Husband and wife together, acting as best friends, serving one another in unique ways, makes up the fellowship of marriage.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Procreation and Sexual Purity

One of the first commands God gave man was to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28)  For this purpose God created a sexual drive, usually stronger in men than women, for the purpose of intimacy and procreation.  As with many things, the enemy uses this drive, originally meant for good and blessing, to tempt people into sin.  Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognizes this and says that the answer if for each man to have sexual relations with his own wife  (1 Corinthians 7:2) He goes so far as to tell each spouse that their body is not their own and that they cannot withhold themselves from one another unless there is mutual agreement and for a short time. (1 Corinthians 7:5)  Marriage is the place where sexual expression, child-rearing, and the nuclear family dynamic is held together for the glory of the creator of the family, God.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Sanctification

I can say it no better than Tim Keller, Author of The Meaning of Marriage, so I will not try.

“What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.”

Later her writes:

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel.“1

Marriage is about God utilizing the joy of marriage to teach you appreciations and thanksgiving, and using the struggles of marriage to teach you sacrificial love, respect and patience.  In short, he uses us as a couple, both in our obedience and in our rebellion, to grow the image of Christ in each of us.

Challenge:  This week think about the blessings of your marriage.  This may be difficult for about 25% of us as a quarter of couples are stressed and challenged at any given time.  Do it anyway.  Give thanks to God for the blessings you have (1 Thess. 5:18) and give a word of encouragement to your spouse for what they bring into your life (1 Thess. 5:11).

Stretch Challenge:  Do this daily for the next week.

1  Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (p. vi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Social Media and Marriage

How does your relationship compare to other couples in your life. Consciously or unconsciously this is the question we often ask as we look at social media. Is social media really a problem for relationships?

Gender Roles

Have you ever really sat down and thought about gender roles? Or… do you just rely on the stereotypical roles set by society?  The roles set by society are fickle at best and always changing.  Should we change with them or should our roles stay the same? What does the bible say?

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:21-23 NLT

One thing for certain is the bible says the man is to be the head of the household.  The man is to be the leader of the family as Christ is the head of the church. Wives are to submit to the husband as they submit to Christ. But it also says they are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.

Ok… Hmm.  Well…

Tim and Kathy Keller in “The Meaning of Marriage” gives us a different take on this meaning of submission, leadership, and gender roles.  They tell us that marriage is all about love, respect, and service. That if we play our designated role in the marriage there is a freedom that comes with it.

THINK

Each of us have been given different gifts.  We are to operate within our gifts for the betterment of the family and church.  Having a specific gender role is different from this. If a woman has the gift of leadership, and her man doesn’t, that doesn’t mean she becomes the leader of the family.  It just means she is gifted in that area and can be a great helpmate for her husband and a great leader for the children, but the man is still the head of the household.

Tony Evans says the man and the woman are both equal in their value and worth in the sight of the Lord and this is clear in scripture.  Example: The man is the manager and the woman is the assistant manager so when an issue arises they both get to weigh in on the issue.  While the man has the ultimate responsibility concerning the family, both pay a critical role in decision making.  In those rare instances where a decision has to be made, and there is conflict concerning which option to choose, the man is burdened with the decision. This is actually quite freeing for a woman to know the man is the burden bearer in this situation.  Yet the man can take the problem to the owner who is Jesus Christ who ultimately bears all of our burdens. This is freeing for the man because Jesus is the final authority on every situation and the ultimate burden bearer.  After all he took all of our burdens to the cross and died for them so we could live forever with Christ in heaven.

So as you can see there is a freedom when you yield to the role Christ has designated for you.

Marriage is also to be a picture to the world of Christ’s relationship with the church.

Let’s take a closer look at each role.

Ephesians 5:25-33 shows us how the husband’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Jesus sacrifices his life for the church.  Husbands are commanded to sacrifice their life for the wife.  This is how much husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church.  A man goes about doing this by serving the wife. Think of Jesus washing the disciples feet.  This was an act of service and love.

Philippians 2:5-11 shows us how the wife’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is equal with God.  They are one and the same.  However, Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to God and died on the cross for you and me.  This is an example of how much Jesus respected God and his authority. Wives are equal with their husbands and both have the same value and worth. But… the wife is commanded to humble herself and become obedient to the husband by submitting to him.  This shows how much the wife respects her husband and his God given authority. Additionally, it shows how much she trusts God, the writer of this scripture.  Wives can go about doing this by serving their husbands. Think of Jesus washing his disciples feet.  He humbled himself and became as a servant when he washed their feet.

We need to pray to have God’s perspective and viewpoint on these things.  Tim and Kathy show us that both the husband and wife accomplish their role through serving each other as Christ served the church.  Both the husband and wife become like Jesus when they submit to their God given role. Which is why God starts Ephesians with submit to one another out of respect, honor, and reverence for Jesus Christ.  Meaning don’t do it for each other, do it for Jesus because you love him and he loves you. I like what Kathy says, “If Jesus can do it, then I can do it. If he wasn’t too good to serve, then I’m not too good to serve.”  

God is so funny.  He commands us love, respect and serve our spouse and then gives us cravings for them. We are called to be like Jesus and give them unconditionally whether they are deserved or not.

As you can see the ultimate goal is to be like Jesus.  God uses our spouses to make us more like Jesus. Anytime we can do what we are called to do, then all glory and honor are given to God for working in and through us to make us more like Jesus.