Sunday, June 28, 2015

Words and Actions

Scripture Texts: Acts 1; Psalms 41

It all started with less than one tenth of one percent of the world population. There were only about 120 believers gathered together to begin the journey of being the church. From that group, the entire body of Christ has grown.

Fast forward some two thousand plus years and the body of believers is far more than one tenth of one percent of the world population.Yet in many places not only is the church of Jesus Christ not growing and developing, it is in fact getting smaller and has less influence on the world around.

Once the apostles saw Jesus taken to sit with God, they got to work putting into practice what Jesus has taught them. The first order of business was to return the number in the group of apostles to 12, and Matthias was selected. Peaking ahead in the Scriptures we find the day of Pentecost upon the people and the continued work of God.

It seems all too often the body of Christ today is content to sit around and talk about doing something while taking very little action. Great speeches are given on all the important issues, each claiming their validity with the Scriptures and God. When the speech ends and everyone heads home, there is no action. It is almost as if we have disregarded the power we have been given by the Holy Spirit to be Christ's witness to the world. This is not only words, it is words and actions together in concert.

God has not given the gift of marriage for the sole purpose of enjoying marriage. When two people are joined together to form one, as with marriage, there is not a mere addition of the possibilities of God, there is multiplication. A married couple can be used by God to do even greater things together if they are willing to take action as witnesses for Christ.

This by no means excludes single people from taking action for Christ. It merely highlights the potential of what happens when a married couple uses their marriage as a tool to witness to the world about the love and power of Christ in transforming lives. In fact whether married or single the potential exists, and potential only matters if it is translated to action.

May we learn from the apostles in the Book of Acts and translate our faith and belief into action empowered by the Holy Spirit. Not so we can boast about our relationship with God. Rather so we can witness God doing amazing things in our midst.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Proof of Experience

Scripture Texts:  John 20:11-31; Proverbs 8

The best way to prove the reality of a situation is by experience. If it is January and the weather on our computer tells us it is ten below zero outside, we do not need to go outside to find proof of that being cold. If you live in the northern part of the United States, you have experience that tells you ten below is cold.

Other times we are confronted by situations that are not know to us through experience. That is what happens to Thomas in the reading from John. He has had little to no experience with people coming back to life. There were the occasions during Jesus ministry where life was returned to someone but that was done by Jesus and now he was dead. No matter what the others said, Thomas was not buying it until he experienced it.

This causes us to wonder what it would be like if we trusted God more instead of always looking for proof? There are times in our lives when we are not sure about the faithful step in our lives. Far more often the case is we know but we are not willing to step out because we lack the experience. God often calls us to new territory.

Proof of a good marriage falls under the category of needing to experience it to know it. The temptation is to come up with a list of ten proofs that you have a good marriage. Reality is, the only proof is the experience you have. When we experience our marriage as good, we want to invest more deeply in it. When it is not so good we are not sure it is worth the investment.

All of the unknown of marriage can causes us to hold back and not seek for more in our marriage. If we choose to hold back, our marriage will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, we will never experience the good we are created to experience. This is where our marriages can learn from Thomas. Sure he doubted, anyone who tells you they have never doubted is a liar. Thomas did not let his doubt stop him, he kept striving for the experience of Jesus, the proof that the promise was fulfilled. We must risk and seek to experience a good, or even great marriage if we are ever going to realize what we are seeking.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

No Big Secret

Scripture Texts: John 19:38-42; John 20:1-10

Both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were said to be secret followers of Jesus. In addition to their secrecy, the origin of their secrecy was in common. They feared the reaction of their peers. So Nicodemus visits Jesus at night, and Joseph moves quickly and quietly to care for the dead body of Jesus.

This always brings up a point of wonder, is it possible to be a secret follower of Jesus? With the evidence of Joseph and Nicodemus in hand, we can quickly say it is possible. Yet, there is something strange about being a secret follower of Jesus. It seems to go against what we have been taught. Once the Holy Spirit was given the followers of Jesus were to be witnesses to Jesus to the very ends of the earth. It is very difficult to be a witness to something we are trying to keep a secret.

Perhaps it was possible to be a secret follower in the days of Joseph and Nicodemus. Shortly after the resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the days of secret followers went by the wayside. We are to proclaim our relationship with Jesus to the world around us with love, grace and confidence. Still many of us find ourselves in the role of a secret follower of Jesus all too often.

If like us you have exchanged rings at your wedding there is a very outward and visible sign of the union that is your marriage. Our wedding bands declare to those around us that we are spoken for. When wearing a wedding band it is nearly impossible to be secretly married.

A bigger question might be is Jesus the best kept secret of your marriage? You may have your wedding band on so the world knows you are married, but does the whole world know that you follow Jesus with your marriage? Over the years we have made choices that have caused others to wonder about the motivation behind our choices. This most often happens when we are choosing to follow Jesus with our marriage, which in turn gives us a chance to proclaim our relationship with Christ.

Following Jesus and marriage are never meant to be done as a secret. Both are to be proclaimed to the world so that others may know to whom we belong. Our proclamation is done with a combination of words and actions, and never is secret.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Marriage Not Manipulation

Scripture Texts: John 19:17-37; Psalms 40

The religious leaders had finally won. Jesus was convicted not only by them but by Pilate as well. Hanging on a cross outside the city right where people would see him, Jesus was placed to breath his last. Even in victory the religious leaders were concerned about themselves more than the reality in front of them. They demanded the sign above Jesus head be changed so they could dismiss Jesus with greater ease.

Once Jesus is dead they want to move quickly to take his body down so they can get on to the Sabbath without another personal dilemma. It was against Jewish law to leave the dead body on the cross, and it was considered work to take a body off the cross. A very serious dilemma for the religious leaders so they want to speed things up for their convenience.

Often we like to alter the words of other people or change the timeline of events so that we can save face. Not only to save face but to have the details of everything work in our favor. It is easy to scoff at the religious leaders. however, we easily can be accused of the same thing. We try to get God to function and behave on our terms rather than on God's terms.

In a marriage relationship this is called manipulation. When we try to get our spouse to function the way we want so that life can happen as we think it is suppose to. Rather than doing the hard work of conversation and submitting to one another, we try to get the other person to see it our way.

A marriage based on manipulation is headed in a very bad direction with increasing speed. Any relationship where manipulation is the primary mode of function is destructive, especially our relationship with God. So, we are left to do the work of talking about hopes, dreams and expectations. In our relationship with God, we have a conversation about our hopes, dreams and expectations. We must remember God always knows best how to live our lives. With our spouse there is a give and take to the conversation that allows for a mutually shared direction in marriage.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Power of Prayer

Scripture Texts: John 17; Psalm 38

It has been said that prayer is the engine that drives the life of a follower of Jesus. Several times in the Gospels we find Jesus praying. Before healing someone, after a time of ministry, before going to the cross, and here in John as Jesus prays for the disciples and all those who would believe and follow.

That means if you are a follower of Jesus you have been prayed for by Jesus himself. While here on earth Jesus took some moments before his death and resurrection to pray for each and every person who would become a part of the movement of God.

This also means that Jesus prayed for our marriages. You might think this is a stretch but it really is not. Jesus prays that the people might experience perfect unity, this is for all people including those who are married. Unity in marriage is not something that just happens, there is great intention needed to experience it.

Jesus wants people to experience unity and the first step in that has been to pray that we might experience it. This should be our first step as well. When two people pray together there is something wonderful that happens to their hearts and lives. A deeper bond is found, one with Jesus at the center as the three of you pray together.

Adding another layer to prayer together is when we pray for other people together. A unity of heart is found when we are lifting people to God together. Each night after we read the Scriptures, and write the blog, we take time to pray together. Part of that prayer is lifting before God the people we know that could use a greater portion of God's love and grace. So, if there is something we can hold in prayer for you, please let us know and we will include you in our prayers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happily Ever After

Scripture Texts: John 15:18-27; John 16:1-15; Psalms 37

It happens in every Disney movie, at some point all the people live happily ever after. Disney did not start this understanding in our lives, it seems to be something that is part of our wiring. We assume if we live a good life, do the right things, and treat others well that life will work out for the best. The tragedy comes when that is not how life happens. When it does not appear that happily ever after is part of our story.

Many times we think if we are followers of Jesus then our lives are on the happily ever after track. In many ways this is true as when we have placed our lives in Jesus and work to follow Jesus, we do enter into the fullness of the Kingdom of God. However, all too often we try to get to the happily ever after without going through hard times and challenges first. Jesus makes it clear we will have hard days and not everything is going to work out just because we are followers.

In fact Jesus promises we will face struggles and others will cause us troubles because of Jesus. The exact opposite of our natural inclination and a Disney education. Life in Christ is not always easy and the challenges come because we follow Jesus. This very fact is what causes many people to walk away from following Jesus.

The same applies to married life. As two people stand before a congregation and God to make their covenant of marriage all that us in mind is happily ever after. Then reality finds its way into our lives and marriage and things get hard. We learn that living with someone 24/7 is not always as easy as we might have thought. We learn that we cannot simply live life on our own terms, that as a married person someone else gets input into our life. Those are just the challenge of relationship.

There are also the challenges from outside. Job changes, death of loved ones, financial struggle, and the list goes on. All of these things that we might have thought to avoid because we are in Christ and we are married. The promise of Jesus applies, we should not presume to have a life free of challenge. Our struggles are real, and they are not a sign that we are to give up, or that we are doing it wrong. In fact they might be a sign that we are doing things right.

Marriage is hard, and requires perseverance through tough times. God has given us the Holy Spirit for help, and for the ability to stay the course. We must remember as we persevere, the only way we get to happily ever after is to live the life Christ died to give us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Scripture Text: John 15:1-17

Human are creatures with a great capacity to love. It is not a stretch to say that we are hardwired to love. This means we will love something, and we will always find something to love. The question becomes are we making wise choices about what or who we love?

God has made a choice about who to love. All of humanity is the object of God's love. Never do we have to wonder or question whether or not God loves us. What we must regularly question is whether we are remaining or abiding in that love. Abiding is more than simply remaining, it is a matter of how we invest our lives. God invites us to abide in the love that is offered.

When we abide in God's love our lives produce fruitfulness. When we choose not to abide in God's love the result is pruning. We must be clear that pruning also happens when we abide and produce fruit. When we are not abiding, the pruning often hurts more and feels like a greater loss. To experience the fullness of life that God longs for us to experience we must abide in God's love.

As we abide in God's love, we must also abide in the love of our spouse. Remember we are going to love someone or something so we must be intentional about who and what we love. Part of abiding in the love of our spouse comes from remembering a key distinction, there are only two types of people in the world, those who are my spouse and those who are not. In order to abide we are clear about this distinction and we only seek and offer our love and affection to the person that is our spouse.

None of this is possible in its fullness unless we are first abiding in Christ. When we are making every effort to keep ourselves connected to the vine that is Christ Jesus, life simply works better. This follows through with marriage. The promise is not that it will be easy, that it will be better and more fruitful. So, we must be careful with whom we abide and who we love.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It Could Be Me.

Scripture Texts: John 13:21-38; Proverbs 7

In a house with three preteen children we often hear the cry of "It was not me!" In essence that is what is happening with Jesus and the gathered disciples. Jesus has just told them that one of them would betray him and they begin discussing who it would be and most concluded it wouldn't be them.

This is the place where Judas is identified as the one who would betray Jesus. Also identified in the passage is Peter who would deny Jesus three times before morning. It seems like a fine line between betrayal and denying, in fact there may not be a line at all. Yes Judas betrayed Jesus, and so did Peter.

All of the disciples betray Jesus in some way shape or form in the days that surround his death and resurrection. Rather than decide how each disciple betrayed, it would be better to recognize the ability we all have to betray Jesus. Rather than ask who will it be, or try to claim it is not me, we would be better served to recognize that it could be me.

It could be me is a phrase that is crucial to cultivating a healthy marriage. When we see a marriage that is struggling more than our own it might be helpful to recognize that could be us if we are not careful. There is not a marriage on the planet that is not susceptible to struggle or betrayal. I wonder how things would have been different if the disciples took on a it could be me attitude.

A second place the it could be me attitude is crucial in marriage is when our spouse does something that hurts us, or that we view as wrong. When two people share life together there will come a time when one person makes a choice the other person disagrees with. There may be an inclination to get upset and even argue. Perhaps a better reaction is to remember it could be me. In all reality we can say it has been me, and probably will be me before life is over. Rather than accuse or deny, greater health might just be found in recognizing, it could be me.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Light in The Darkness

Scripture Texts: John 12:27-50; Psalm 35

There are very few places in the United States where we can experience true dark. There always seems to be light from somewhere. A few years ago while on a mission trip to Haiti a true understanding of darkness was found. Once the generator was turned off and all the candles were out it was dark. Like, oh my goodness dark.

In the midst of the complete and total darkness it took only a small light to pierce the darkness in amazing ways. The light from a watch or an iPod was enough to fill the entire room with light compared to the darkness. This is how Jesus was and is in our world. Jesus is the light of the world and he stepped out of eternity into the darkness that is our world.

Now that Jesus is seated in the heavenly throne room awaiting the time of return, you and I are to be the light of the world. The way we live our lives and the way we treat others along the way are to be like the light Jesus is to the world. It is not up to us whether people see the light, or if they appreciate the light. Our role is to simply shine.

When you think about your marriage is it a tool God can use to bring light to a dark world? The ways in which we interact with our spouse is an example to the world around us. Is our example filled with the light of Christ or are we contributing to the darkness? Our lives are meant to bear light, as are our marriages. May we be so deeply connected to Christ in our lives and marriage that we are the light piercing the darkness. No matter how dark the world can seem, a little light changes the whole thing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Love Beyond Logic

Scripture Text: John 12:1-26

It was completely illogical. Everything about the culture and situation in which she lived shouted for her to not do it. Still, Mary took the jar of perfume, broke it open and anointed Jesus with it. This jar of perfume represented her financial security in the world. No matter what happened to all her other forms of income and livelihood, she could fall back on the jar of perfume.

Judas had it right by the human economy, even if his motives were not pure. There were so many other things that could could have been done with the jar of perfume or the money from selling it. That thought never crosses Mary's mind or heart, all she can respond to is the love she has for the Messiah. Extravagant love causes us to do strange things.

It is easy in the short run to play it safe and stay in the logical. We want to express our love and devotion to Jesus and we want to make sure that we have enough life leftover afterward. When we experience someone like Mary who shows love in such an illogical way we can respond like Judas. More often the response has more adoration or outright dismissal. We are not sure how to respond to such illogical expressions of love and devotion.

Love has a way of motivating us to do the illogical. We learn this from God. It makes no sense that God would love us so much, especially in our frailty. Yet, God loves us completely, totally and without condition. God loves us enough to step out of eternity and into our reality, so that we might find the fullness of relationship God longs for with us.

In marriage it is essential to love in ways that are illogical. Couples need to express love for each other in ways and at times that defy logic. Expensive flowers just because, not on a birthday or anniversary, just because. A surprise date night, even when money is tight, it is not the cost it is the investment of time that matters. If the love we share with our spouse is limited to the logical and practical, perhaps we need to invest time in our relationship. The love of a spouse ought to move us to break open the perfume jar, and do something for the one we love that makes no sense by earthly standards.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Fear Can Do.

Scripture Texts: John 11:38-57; Psalms 34

Fear finds all of us. For some fear does not have to work hard, while for others it must make several attempts. No matter who you are there is something you fear.

The religious leaders of Jesus day show what they are most afraid of after word of Jesus raising Lazarus begins to spread. Their fear is not what God is doing and how they are trying to stop it. No, their fear is of the Roman government. To be clear, the Romans were to be feared. When it came to cruelty and inflicting pain and suffering few other groups of people in history have excelled like the Romans. However, should the people of God fear an earthly government more than the God of all creation.

God was in the process of drawing all people into full relationship through the life and works of Jesus. The religious leaders of the day were working hard to stop what Jesus was doing because it threatened their security and good standing with the Romans. Even if it meant being on the other side of what God was doing, the religious leaders would side with the Romans for their own prosperity.

Before we are too harsh on the religous leaders, we must recognize each one of us can find ourselves in the same dilemma. We would rather play it safe by earthly standards rather than risk following what God is up to in our midst. In other words we fear this life more than we fear God.

This can happen in a marriage as well. We can fear upsetting our spouse. We can fear what others will think about our marriage. Fear can even convince us that we will be in ruin if we whole-heartedly follow after God with our marriage. When all is said and done it really comes down to the question who do we fear more.

Unfortunately this is not a simple battle, and not one that is fought only once. Almost daily we need to be vigilant in managing our fears. In the end our hope is found in seeking God, and what God is doing in our midst, more than what we value of this world. Until this life is over, or Christ returns, we will be in this battle. May we all win more than we give in.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

When We Face Disappointment

Scripture Text: John 11:17-37

Life does not always work out the way we have planned. This is very true for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, especially for Lazarus. The three siblings envisioned a life filled with following Jesus and learning more about being part of the Kingdom of God. They were considered close personal friends of Jesus.

Can you imagine the disappointment and discouragement they felt when Jesus did not arrive until after Lazarus was dead? When Lazarus was sick and death looked near they sent for Jesus, and he did not come to them right away. In the midst of their brother dying there must have been some level of disappointment and discouragement about how life was turning out and the fact that Jesus did not get there in time.

Disappointment and discouragement often come packaged together. The times in our lives when we experience the greatest disappointments are the times when we are most likely to get discouraged. When the plans we have made and the vision we were chasing is shattered life seems to fall apart and we are looking for somewhere or someone to place blame. Mary and Martha choose Jesus.

Because marriage involves people, there will be times of disappointment and discouragement. There have been countless times when our life has not turned out the way we thought it would. These times certainly held disappointment. Yet, we have managed to never turn that toward each other. For our marriage to remain healthy and full we must never turn our disappointment toward our spouse. This will only create division and resentment.

A more productive way to cultivate a healthy marriage is to turn our disappointment to the One who can provide understanding and direction, Jesus. Often the reality of our disappointment is because we have been chasing after things that God did not have in mind for us, or that God has a plan to use our situation to show power and might among the people. Jesus is big enough to handle our disappointment and discouragement.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pudding, Proof and Sheep

Scripture Text: John 10:22-42

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. That is the actual phase that we often shorten to say, the proof is in the pudding. Jesus is offering to the people gathered around him proof that he is the Messiah, yet they do not seem to like the way he is going about it. There is interest in knowing if Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus makes clear he is the Messiah not because he said so but because of the works of his life.

Once Jesus gave the people the information and proof they have been looking for, they pick up their rocks and get ready to stone him. The issue with Jesus was not the proof he offered, the good works, rather the issue was that he had the audacity to claim to be one with God. Even though the evidence of his life affirmed the claim, it was too much for the crowd to handle.

When we decide to become followers of Jesus there is a commitment to be on a journey of transformation that forms our lives to look like the life of Jesus. To this end we must ask ourselves do our words and actions provide evidence for the hope and promise that we have? Do the people around us know that we are one of Jesus sheep by both our words and our actions?

Writing a blog about marriage is a dangerous thing. First, you the reader might make the mistake of thinking we have this marriage thing all figured out. Second, putting words into print about our relationship with God and each other leaves room for others to identify the places where we fall short. On both accounts let us reassure you, we do not have it figured out and we do not always live the fairy tale marriage.

So why keep reading? Because this we are sure of, for the rest of our lives we are on the journey of transformation to have the words and actions of our lives be formed after the life of Jesus. This means having a marriage that gives evidence of God's love and grace through our actions, and proclaims the love and grace of God with our words.

Out commitment in writing this blog is not to showcase a perfect marriage. Instead it is to share with you all the journey of one couple trying their best to live a life with enough proof in the pudding to show we are sheep of Jesus' fold.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Made For So Much More

Scripture Texts: John 10:1-21; Psalms 32

Human beings have a boundless capacity to settle for less than is possible. A preference is placed on the comfort and ease rather than striving and persevering. The latest and greatest has the ability to capture our attention and affections, even if it is not the best for us.

In life we chase after many things including fame, fortune and prosperity. In and of themselves, none of these things are bad. When we desire these things above all else, well that is where the problem comes in. When fame, fortune, prosperity or any other pursuit replaces our pursuit of God in Christ Jesus, those things are exposed for what they are, frauds.

Jesus is clear that all the other pursuits of life have the ability to steal, kill and destroy our lives. He, on the other hand, has come that we might have life. Not just a plain and ordinary life, life to the fullest possible. This fullness of life is found when we pursue Jesus more than anything else, and anything less would be counterfeit living.

Our capacity for settling has a way of showing up in marriage. At some point decisions get made out of ease, or comfort, or desires that might not match what God is calling you toward. In marriage chasing after things other than Jesus gives the same result as in our individual life, only it is multiplied.

When a couple pursues other things more than Jesus in their relationship, they choose to live less than the fullness Jesus came to offer. Many times when we are feeling like there is more to married life than we are experiencing it is because we have stopped pursuing Jesus above all else. We have let the thief, killer and destroyer take the lead in our lives.

We have been called to do more than settle. Our marriage is intended for so much more than we can possibly imagine. In order experience the fullness God desires for our marriage we must pursue Jesus above all else. This begins when we offer our lives to Jesus for grace, forgiveness and leadership in our lives.

If you are reading this and are not sure about your relationship with Jesus and would like to know more, or talk more about the grace and love God has for you in Christ Jesus, please send a message to

Friday, June 5, 2015

Can't Really Explain

Scripture Text: John 9:18-41

Most people have had moments in their lives when they cannot really explain what has happened to them. It could be as dramatic as a near miss with an accident, or it could be receiving a blessing beyond our imagination. Whether for better of for worse, there have been times when we simply cannot explain what has happened.

The blindman in John 9 is at one of those moments. He has never been able to see with his eyes. Over the years many have debated, including the disciples, what this man's sin was. Then one day Jesus comes along, spits on the ground, smears mud on the man's eyes, and after a dip in the pool the man can see. Everyone wants to know how this happened.

Religious leaders ask their questions. They even drag the man's parents in for questioning. Person after person and no one seems willing to give the answer. When pushed to the limit the once blindman gives a great answer, "I don't know about all these things, what I do know is that I was blind and now I can see."

There are several aspects of marriage that can be explained. The more time we invest in our marriage, the more fruitful the marriage is. When we are intentional about being a blessing to our spouse, our marriage is more fulfilling. At the same time there are some aspect of marriage that defy explanation.

We could spend hours trying to figure every aspect out so that we can create a nice neat definition of everything. Still our definition would be incomplete. At some point we have to stop and confess that all we really know is that God has moved in our marriage, and because of the touch of Jesus Christ we have a healthy and fulfilling marriage. Sometimes we can't really explain what God has done in and through a marriage, it just is.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Life is Too Short

Scripture Texts: John 9:1-17; Psalm 31

There they are, Jesus and the disciples are making their way through the streets of the city when they come across a man who is blind. They ask what seems like a strange question, "Who sinned the man or his parents?" Strange to us, yet a common and understandable question for the days of Jesus. Many thought if you had a physical ailment it was due to sin in your life.

Jesus quickly redirects the conversation. The issue is not who sinned rather this is a moment for the power of God to be seen in a tangible way. Jesus also adds, life is too short to be worrying about what caused the situation. More important to Jesus was the opportunity to show grace, love, and power in the moment.

There are times it is good to discover the root cause of something, there are also times when it is better to act and not be as concerned with the cause. If we are to come across someone who is drowning we must act to save them, not sit there and ponder what could have happened that caused them to be in the situation, and why they are not able to swim. Life is too short and too precious to spend the time at the point of greatest and obvious need.

In the midst of marriage there are times when things are not going as well as they could be. If you are married and have not experienced such times you are either extra blessed or your time has not yet come. In times of struggle it is a human tendency to begin blaming the other person, or trying to figure out what has caused the challenging situation. There are times when we need to do a little diagnosis work before acting. There are also time when we need to act and then diagnose.

Life is to short to spend all our time analyzing, especially if the remedy to the situation is obvious. It is easy to wonder if the disciples would have spent the better part of the day debating about the origin of the blindman's blindness. Jesus cuts through the debate to take action. There is a time and place for debate and investigation. There is also a time for action. All too often we get the proportion wrong and spend all our time discussing when life is to short to not act.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Because I Said So

Scripture Text: John 8:39-59

Growing up many of us heard the words, "Because I said so." When the words were shared our most common response was that we never wanted to say that to our children when we got older. That was the plan until we had children. The fateful day came when a child asked why they needed to do something and the response came out of our mouths, because I said so.

The religious leaders of Jesus day did a lot of teaching with the, because I said so, attached to it. The people would come looking for a greater explanation and all they would get was a response by the teacher that equated to because I said so. When Jesus comes on the scene everyone expects him to give the same answer but he does not. When pushed to explain himself all he responds with is "I am sent me."

For his day invoking the name of I am would have ended most of the debate, in fact is causes the religious leaders to want to stone Jesus. Rather than saying because I said so, Jesus says because God says so. This was too much for the people gathered, it would call into question the authority by which they had been teaching their, because I said so platform.

It is not limited to the children in our lives that we say because I said so. In almost any relationship that phrase comes out of our mouths, or is at least thought. When our spouse requests that we explain something, the temptation is there to say because I said so. Often we want to use the phrase when we want things our way but we are not sure why or have no grand reason other than we want our way.

As you might guess, I said so is very damaging to a marriage. If our spouse is suppose to follow our directives simply because I said so, then we have exchanged a spouse for a subordinate. Not to mention there is a good chance we have left God out of the equation. If we were to begin to use the reasoning Jesus used, "I am said so" then we had better be sure we are listening to God more than ourselves.

Jesus could use the reason, because "I am" said so because he was spending the time listening to God. If we are going to move from "I said so" to "I am said so" we will need to spend the same amount of time listening. In this we find the difference in directing our spouse and leading our spouse. Responding to the leading of God and sharing that with our spouse is a better way to navigate in a marriage, because, God said so.

Freedom in Christ

Scripture Texts: John 8:12-38; Proverbs 6

Freedom is a big deal for those who live in the United States. It is a big deal for anyone, however in the United States we seem to talk about it an awful lot. More specifically we talk about our personal freedoms and personal rights. This is in fact one of the best things about living in the United States, that we have personal freedoms and rights.

Our government can grant us levels of freedom, or restrict them, and as important as they are, there is a freedom that is not controlled or protected by the government. In Christ Jesus we find a freedom from sin and death. This freedom is not so that we can live however we want, rather it is a freedom that frees us to live as God desires. We are free from the control of sin and death in our lives so that we can live free to love as Christ loves, to offer grace and we have been offered grace.

For many marriage is not an experience of freedom. Perhaps you are in the midst of a controlling and captive marriage where one of the partners in the marriage limits the freedoms we can enjoy. For you we say reach for and cling to the freedom that no human can remove, the freedom of Jesus Christ. God does not judge the same way humans do, and God provides freedom in Jesus that humans cannot.

We have never had a relationship of restriction and control. For our journey we have found it important to walk in the freedom offered to us through Christ. This means that any measure of control is not of human origin and based on what is said must be done. Rather it is treating a spouse with freedom to live the life Christ has called each person to live. In our marriage this takes on the form of walking with and supporting one another as we live out the call of God on our lives.

In the day to day journey of marriage living in this kind of freedom means we are willing to change our personal plan and design so that the other may pursue the call of God. No doubt this can feel like the limiting of a freedom. In all reality, adjusting our day to day living so that our spouse can fulfill their calling is the ultimate form of freedom. Not only is it our spouse that experiences freedom, we too find the freedom of following Christ more than our own desires.