Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tim & Aileen... a Dramatization of Christ and the Church

This week at DPC we'll focus on Colossians 3:19, which is God's gospel-filled command to husbands.

There's a deep mystery about marriage that we must begin to grasp.  And that is this -- a faithful, Christian marriage is an earthly dramatization of the relationship between Christ and his church.  This is beautifully taught in Ephesians 5, and briefly summarized in Colossians 3.

Men, in preparation for Sunday's time of renewal in the Word, please read this recent blog post by a brother named Tim Challies...

18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Wife
October 29, 2013
by Tim Challies
Last week I shared 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids, and the time I spent writing that article got me thinking about the fifteen years I’ve been married to Aileen (and the three years before that when we dated). I felt it was only right to think of another eighteen things, and this time to do so in her honor.
Here are 18 things I know I will never regret doing with my wife.
1. Praying with her. It took too long for the two of us to begin to really pray together; even now, we have a long way to go. But we have learned the importance of praying together and never regret the times we spend together before the Lord.
2. Dating her. We have all heard a thousand times how important it is to keep dating, even after getting married. This is easier said than done when the children are young and high-maintenance, but we have found it much easier now that the kids are just a little bit older. I have never regretted these times alone together.
3. Serving with her. While the majority of my relationship with Aileen is lived out face-to-face, we have always worked very well together side-by-side. We’ve planned and executed all kinds of events and programs in the past, and inevitably grow closer as we have done this. I never regret the time we spend serving together.
4. Looking back with her. Some of our sweetest times are spent looking at relics of days gone by—the silly journals we kept when dating, the photos of our wedding, the children when they were infants. Looking back is a genuine pleasure and we never regret that time together, remembering what the Lord has done and where he has brought us.
5. Leading her in love. I am convinced God has called me to lovingly lead my wife. This kind of leadership does not come easy to me, but I know there is a high cost to refusing to take it up. I never regret leading Aileen, when I lead with her good as my goal and with Christ as my model.
 6. Buying her flowers. I am fifteen years into marriage and still feel sheepish carrying a bouquet of flowers through a parking lot. But the flowers continue to be special, she continues to love them, I continue to enjoy giving the gift. I will never regret showing love that way.
7. Asking her forgiveness. It is a strange and ugly reality that the person I love most is the person I sin against most often. I have never-ending opportunities to ask her forgiveness. While it requires choking down my pride, I know I will never regret asking her to forgive me when I have sinned against her.
8. Forgiving her. Of course it works both ways, and she sins against me as well. Like me, she can struggle with asking for forgiveness, so when she does ask, I never regret immediately and sincerely forgiving her, and putting that offense out of my mind.
9. Holding her hand. It is so easy to allow what used to be special to become unremarkable and forgotten. Holding hands is one of those sweet habits that can so quickly be lost. I will never regret reaching out and walking with her, hand-in-hand.
10. Planning her hobby time. Aileen gives so much of herself to home and family, but tends to be at her best when she has a hobby to give some of her time and attention to. I never regret the time we carve out to plan how she can give time to the hobbies she loves.
11. Washing her with the Word. The book of Ephesians makes it clear that one of a husband’s joyful responsibilities is washing his wife in the water of God’s Word. As our marriage has progressed we have seen more and more clearly the value and beauty of doing this very thing. I will never regret those times we spend together, hearing from God through his Word.
12. Listening to her. I am far too quick to give my own opinion, to make excuses, to speak without really listening and hearing. But I am learning that I will never regret the times when I patiently listen and allow Aileen to speak without interruption, without interjection, without having me become all defensive.
13. Reading with her. If you want to talk about compatibility within marriage, well, Aileen and I are very incompatible when it comes to the books we love to read. But when we do find one of those books and when we commit to reading it together, I never regret the time or the effort.
14. Delighting in her. In all the sin, stress and strain life can bring, it is so easy to lose that sense of wonder and delight in the gift of a wife. I will never regret thinking about her, thanking God for her, and increasing my delight in her.
15. Enjoying shared interests. One of the first things I did when when I began dating Aileen was learn to like tennis; that was just the first of many interests we learned to enjoy together. I have never regretted learning to enjoy something she loves for her sake and for the sake of our relationship.
16. Worshipping with her. One of my great joys in life is worshipping the Lord side-by-side with the one person I love more than any other. This is a little foretaste of heaven, just a glimpse of eternity, where we will worship him perfectly forever. I never regret prioritizing church and worshipping with Aileen.
17. Getting away with her. We love our family vacations with the five of us sprawled out at the beach or huddled in a cabin. But Aileen and I also find great benefit in vacations alone, whether that is a couple of days somewhere nearby, or a week somewhere far from home. I will never regret interrupting normal life for these sweet times together.
18. Saying I love you. Yes, even the “I love you” can become an empty habit rather than a meaningful declaration. When I pause for just a moment, when I think about what I am saying, that little phrase takes on much greater depth of meaning. I never have and I never will regret looking Aileen in the eyes and saying, “I love you.”
The joy of this list is that I could so easily have come up with another eighteen items, and another eighteen beyond that. The Lord has blessed me so far beyond what I deserve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If the Bible Itself Hadn't Said It...

My children's birthdays are usually celebrated here at Ransom Road, but Jaden & Joseph's recent birthdays came to pass during a significant blogging break... so allow me to make up for that...

Proverbs 18.24 says this:

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

That whole "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" business... you know what?  If the Bible itself hadn't said it, I'd never believe it.

I'd throw the flag and declare it to be obvious nonsense.  Then I'd throw in a few choice synonyms for good measure:  hogwash, balderdash, baloney, rubbish, silly talk, prattle, rot, hooey, and tripe.  And maybe even poppycock, tomfoolery, malarky, and gibberish.

It's impossible to imagine a friend sticking closer to anyone than Jaden sticks to Joseph or than Joseph sticks to Jaden.  They are literally growing up with their very best buddy Right. Next. To. Them. All. The. Time.

And it's awesome.  I love these two knuckleheads more than I can describe.  Even with my obvious mastery of synonyms.

Jaden & Joseph, I pray you always know and rejoice in the steadfastness and constancy of your richly hilarious and deeply moving friendship with one another.

And I pray you always encourage one another to follow Christ intensely and intentionally -- with all heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One of My Favorite Passages on Marriage

This Sunday at DPC we'll continue considering what a Christian marriage looks like, according to the Word of God.

And that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite passages on marriage, from Mike Mason's book "The Mystery of Marriage"...

“Marriage is the closest bond that is possible between two human beings.  That, at least, was the original idea behind it.  It was to be something unique, without parallel or precedent.  In the sheer sweep and radical abandon of its commitment, it was to transcend every other form of human union on earth, every other covenant that could possibly be made between two people.  Friendship, parent-child, master-pupil -- marriage would surpass all these other bonds in a whole constellation of remarkable ways, including equality of the partners, permanent commitment, cohabitation, sexual relations, and the spontaneous creation of blood ties through simple spoken promises.  As it was originally designed, marriage was a union to end all unions, the very last word, and the first, in human intimacy.  Socially, legally, physically, emotionally, every which way, there is just no other means of getting closer to another human being, and never has been, than in marriage.
Such extraordinary closeness is bought at a cost, and the cost is nothing more nor less than one’s own self.  No one has ever been married without being shocked at the enormity of this price and at the monstrous inconvenience of this thing called intimacy which suddenly invades their life.  At the wedding the a bride and groom may have gone through the motions of the candlelighting ceremony, each blowing out their own flame and lighting one central candle in place of the two, but the touching simplicity of this ritual has little in common with the actual day-to-day pressures involved as two persons are merged into one.  It is a different matter when the flame that must be extinguished is no lambent flicker of a candle, but the blistering inferno of self-will and independence.  There is really nothing else like this lifelong cauterization of the ego that must take place in marriage.  All of life, is in one way or another, humbling.  But there is nothing like the experience of being humbled by another person, and by the same person day in and day out.  It can be exhausting, unnerving, infuriating, disintegrating.  There is no suffering like the suffering involved in being close to another person.  But neither is there any joy and the comfort that are wrung out like wine from the crush and ferment of two lives being pressed together.
What happens to a couple when they fall in love, when they pitch headlong into this winepress of intimacy, is not simply that they are swept off their feet: more than that, it is the very ground they are standing on, the whole world and ground of their separate selves, that is swept away.  A person in love cannot help becoming, in some sense, a new person.  After all, even to stand for 5 minutes beside a stranger in a supermarket line-up, without exchanging one word, is to be drawn irresistibly, uncomfortably, enigmatically into the dizzying vortex of another human life.  It is to be subtly swayed, held, hypnotized, transfixed – moved and influenced in a myriad of ways, subliminal and seldom analyzed, but nonetheless potent.  But marriage takes this same imponderable magnetism and raises it to an infinite power!  The very next step in human closeness, beyond marriage, would be just to scrap the original man and woman and create one new human being out of the two.
But this is exactly what happens (both in symbol and in actuality) in the birth of a child!  Eventually the parents die, leaving the child a living sign of the unthinkable extremity of union which took place between two distinct lives.  The two become one: “Has not the Lord made them one?  In flesh and spirit they are His.  And why one?  Because he was seeking godly offspring.” (Malachi 2:15)