4/5/15 – Day 434: Easter Sunday!

He is risen! (He is risen indeed!)

Glad to celebrate with you and are little hunters.

Thankful that you and I have experienced the truth of the Resurrection. I pray that we live in it and grow in it. And we can lead these three young hearts and minds in it.

2015-04-05 14.17.17 2015-04-05 13.57.43

Designer Eggs

Designer Eggs

Church time!

Church time!

 

Day 87 – Trying to Explain Angry Jesus

And I’m staying true to that commitment. I need to keep a journal nearby, though, so I can actually remember something if I don’t write that day.  Luckily, something just popped to mind.

Wednesday I had a client appointment way out in a far-reaching suburb and didn’t get back home until like 6:46 and went and watched The Jesus Movie with the kids.

I came in when He was coming into Jerusalem and soon after got all WWE on the moneychangers and merchants in the temple.

The semi-frustrated Jesus didn’t compute with the Jesus my children knew from Sunday School.

After all, the biggest sign of righteousness in a kid is not making a mess, so Jesus turning over tables and setting lambs free from their pens seemed a bit unrighteous to our little ones.

I explained as best as I could. Hopefully they got it. And hopefully, if they see any tables of people selling goods at our church, they won’t come through and turn them all upside down.

 

Day 38 – Lent is Not the Stuff in Your Bellybutton

What does this topic have to do with my Falling in Love Project?

First, you and I would probably laugh during a discussion of bellybuttons and lint.

Second, Lent is something you and I have been doing for a few years now. This year, I’m focusing on making wise food and time choices. This will include no liquor and beer, although I might imbibe in a spot of wine here and there.

It will also include avoiding sweets except for our daughter’s birthday on 3/28. Cake will be eaten on that day.d

I will also be putting on hold my Netflix addictions to get some actual work done at night because, well, I’m taking on some outside consulting gigs and those happen much more efficiently when I’m not glued to Psych or Covert Affairs or some other nonsense.

Finally, given the things I’ve listed, maybe it’s a surprise that I am trying to be a man who leads the family spiritually. What choices can I make that will help me do that best in a way that honors God, you, our children, and others?

That’s my hope for Lent (or those are my hopes). It’s about clearing clutter and diving in.

It’s a spiritual act, but I know it helps in all areas.

Love is Satisfied in God – Love Dare Day 21

The devotional portion of Day 21 ends with “God is your everyday supply. Of everything you need.”

The dare: “Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible….”

I’ve been pretty decent at this – at least 3-4 days a week. Typically, 5 days a week are started with focusing on God and asking Him to align my day with His purposes (effectively making it His day, right?).  But reading the Bible and praying isn’t the same as living from a perspective that God will supply every need.

The challenge, then, is to believe and trust that God is enough. You (my sweet wife) don’t have the responsibility to fill up every area in me that is lacking. You aren’t responsible for my self-esteem, self-worth, or self-image. You aren’t responsible for giving me a purposeful life. You aren’t responsible for my happiness.

God uses you in various ways to achieve His purposes in me, but ultimately, my satisfaction and completion is only found in God.

Therefore, I should make sure you’re free from the stress of being my everything and all-in-all. (I believe I’m touching on the whole codependence thing here somehow).

But when this little blog finds its way into your life, I hope you know that you are free. Free from being everything that I think I need. You are my wife and partner and a cherished gift from God. It’s God alone who can make up for everything that I lack (and you too for that matter, so I don’t feel pressure to be YOUR all in all).

I love you and am so thankful for all the wonderful things you add to my life, but I’m also thankful that you don’t have to be everything. That would be way too much pressure. We can both be satisfied in God and enjoy each other as gifts.

Love is Jesus Christ – Love Dare Day 20

This book is an evangelistic tool.

Day 19 was intended to open the idea that loving someone else is nearly impossible (they say impossible) without Jesus Christ.

Day 20 is about making the commitment to become a Christian.

The message, though, of the Gospel, is that we are loved regardless of whether we deserve it or not. Jesus offers this.

I’d like to say to you (Tina – my wife, not you – any reader that might pop on here) is this: You’ve loved me whether I’ve deserved it or not.

You have shown me grace.

Thank you.

Love is Impossible: Love Dare Day 19

The chapter starts by saying there’s a ‘secret’.  The authors explain…

The secret is this: you cannot manufacture unconditional (or agape love) out of your own heart. It’s impossible. It’s beyond our capabilities. It’s beyond all our capabilities.

They go on to say that kindness and unselfishness can be easy to demonstrate, but sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is altogether different.

It’s so prevalent for people to say “I’ve fallen out of love” with my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. I get it. The feelings are no longer there. But I would venture to say that most of us don’t feel love nonstop.

This dare is basically to dare us to make a decision about Jesus. We cannot love without the Author of true love living in our hearts.

I would say that even Christians fail to really let God love through us. Many times my attitude is more about what I get out of being married or having you as my wife than it is about allowing God’s call for me to love you as Christ loves the church to guide my heart, mind, and actions.

So love is impossible without Christ. I know a lot of couples who aren’t big about faith who still love each other well, with agape love, but I know that really being connected to Jesus increases chances. Big time.

The dare today is simple: Respond to God (and the intention of this book is to lead us to Christ).

Not sure how this translates into doing something for you outside of this: To commit to living my life out of the power of the Holy Spirit and the heart of the Father through the grace of Jesus at the Cross.

 

Because Being Married and Being a Parent is Rigged

I’m not sure if this fits cleanly into the ‘Why I love you’ formula, but I thought about it this morning at my men’s Bible study.

Many people approach marriage and being a parent as the next thing that will make them happy.

How many people have thought…

If only I were married, then…

If only we had kids, then…

The ‘then’ is often something along the lines of ‘then I’ll be fulfilled’ or ‘then I’d be happy’ or ‘then I’d find my purpose.’

While those might be true to some excuse, I’ve found that being married and being a parent doesn’t lead to glorious bliss and self-actualization.

The institutions of parenting and marriage were created by God not only for our pleasure and to populate the planet and whatnot, but also to refine us.

Refiners Fire

The ‘then’ to me is ‘then God will show me what it really means to love someone and where I need to allow Him to change me.’

I say being married and being a parent is rigged in that those who think it’s all about their fulfillment forget that God set the deal up. And while He’s concerned with our joy and our ability to love and be loved and create decent human children, He also is concerned that we become the people He created us to be.

Marriage and parenting are simply two of His tools to do so (see Eph 2:10).

I love you because God knew what I needed. So He gave me you and our children, not only to love and cherish, but to do some of His refining and sanctifying work through you.

Love Intercedes – Love Dare Day 16

The long and short of Love Dare’s Day 16 message is that our efforts to change our spouses are futile.

No amount of  nagging or, as we prefer to call it, ‘helpful’ suggestions will bring change to our spouse.

Selfish Encouragement

Further, more than likely our efforts are selfish and not driven by a heart for our spouse, but a heart for our own personal comfort. I have to pay attention: If I’m trying to ‘get my wife to do something’, then I must immediately turn it around on myself.

For instance, if I wanted you to have a more consistent quiet time and was brow-beating you about it, does my consistency (a) give me the right and (b) even if I am consistent, is my encouragement more for your good or my desire to have this ‘suburban Christian perfect wife’?

Three Fingers Pointing Back

If I’m trying to force you to change, there is something going on in my heart. Even if my heart is generally in the right place regarding you, there typically is something that I need to be very aware of in me.

If a finger is pointing out, then I got three coming back at me and I need to ask God what it is in me that needs work.

The upshot is this: Learning to pray for you is the best possible way for me to encourage the right change (in either of us).

Intercession and Change

That old C.S. Lewis quote (or the quote from the movie Shadowlands) applies here: I don’t pray to change God’s mind. I pray to change me. (I know I butchered it, but I don’t have time to look it up).

If I’m truly praying for you, as I’ve finally remembered to do over the past few days, then all the sudden God starts nailing me on things.

Today, I was praying for you and your current issues with certain folks. And all the sudden God nailed me on this:

Is your heart, sir (me being the ‘sir’), truly focused on your wife here or do you want her to ‘get over it’ so you guys can go back and be all comfy cozy?

It wasn’t an audible voice, but it as a clear conviction. My prayers can be selfish–even if they sound sweet. I switched it up a little bit.

All the sudden the prayer became true prayer. I was at a loss. I just prayed, “God I don’t have the goods to lead my family. I need You. I want our home to be a place where my kids come alive, where my wife comes alive, where I come alive. But I don’t even know where to start.”

So I’ll leave it there. that’s my plea today. I need Jesus to lead and love you. So I’ll pray for you. But I’ll also pray for me.

Side note…

The dare was to pick three things to pray for you and our marriage in three specific areas:

  1. I pray for you to feel the full and total acceptance you have as a daughter of God through Christ.
  2. I pray that our home becomes a City on a Hill– a place of truth and peace for anybody who encounters us.
  3. I pray that you have more and more courage to step out in your gifts and your talents. You are a talented, awesome woman!

Love Dare Day 21: Love Is Satisfied in God

“Every day you place expectations on your spouse. Sometimes they meet them. Sometimes they don’t. But never will they be able to totally satisfy all the demands you ask of them—partly because your demands are unreasonable, partly because your mate is human.” —Love Dare, p. 102

I love that quote. I know for me that I’ve struggled at times with (a) wanting you to be perfection and (b) wanting myself to be perfection for you. It’s a losing battle. You will never be perfect. I for dang sure won’t be perfect.

We’ll both get better, but we won’t be perfect. And if I expect you to fill up all that is lacking in me, then I’m putting too heavy of a load on you. It is not your job to make up for my deficiencies, to prove that I’m worth something, to make me feel good all the time about everything.

I, also, will break under any pressure that I feel to try to satisfy every single thing that you might need. I’m just not equipped to do it and I’m not strong enough to bear it.

My loving you is not to be all things to you, but to serve you. My job is to be satisfied in God, myself, and help lead our home so that we ALL are satisfied in God first, then serve each other next.

I see four potential problems when we start putting ourselves or each other in front of being satisfied in God:

  1. My expectations of you: If I hold you to satisfy each and every need emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, then I’m asking way too much. This can lead to stress on you and resentment in me.
  2. Your expectation of me: See above, but reverse the mess.;
  3. My expectations of me: If I expect myself to tend to each one of your needs, then I create false expectations and I fail to allow God to do what he’s supposed to be. Stress and resentment can creep in.
  4. Your expectations of you: I can’t speak to this. I’m not sure where you feel your pressure as it relates to me, but I would imagine it’s similar.

I’ve taken to writing a short prayer in my journal after my quiet times. A short, specific prayer for you. A short specific prayer for our kids. A short specific prayer for myself. I’m trying to take my hands off the wheel and scoot into the back seat.

I’m also trying to make sure that those quiet times happen daily so that I’m feeding myself and I’m becoming more and more satisfied in God. Let’s face it—that’s not been a strength of mine in recent years.

Love Dare Day 22 Preview: ‘Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them in words similar to these, “I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.”’ I’ll do it. J

Love Dare Day 19, Love is Impossible

To love your spouse like Christ loves the church is not possible without the love of Christ flowing through.  I get that. But I better be careful here.

It could be misunderstood to mean that I find it impossible to love you. I don’t. You do inspire me to love you. You are fully lovable and worthy of my affection.

The impossibility of love has little to do with you. It’s all about how I, as a person, am not capable of sustained selflessness. I have to grow in it. I have to get better at being selfless.

I have to submit my life to Christ and live in light of the cross in all relationships, especially with you.  If I die to myself, then I can get close to it.

My prayer today was that I love you in a way that you need it from me.  Of course, this was immediately tested because you called me in the midst of a dizzy spell. I felt a little hopeless and completely unable to know how to best be there for you at the time.

Like a dude, I started spouting out ‘helpful’ suggestions. I felt like maybe I needed to listen and just be there with you on the phone for a bit, but I honestly didn’t know how.

Like I said I need to grow in this. I need to get better. I need to die daily to myself and allow the love of Christ flow through me. I need His example of how he loves the church to be my source. I need the Holy Spirit to be my Counselor and to fill me with the necessary skills.

So… Love is impossible. While we all have our moments—I know both of us can have our difficult moments at times—you’re fully worthy of and a total joy to love.

What is possible is that I can submit better. I can realize that I’m not entitled to anything, yet I’ve been giving way more than I deserve. 

I love you and hope that you are confident in that.  What I realize with this dare is that I can live a very self-centered life. I pray today for God to shed me of that so that I am truly a selfless husband.