A Better Intersection…

So here it is… Monday again, and as we all know, Monday is blog day.  Well, technically, it’s the day that I’m home, the kids are at school, and there is reprieve from the “honey-do” list.

On today’s agenda is a topic that has been part of my life for a while, or at least something I have been moderately (alright at moments  this may be more like; intensely) concerned with over the years. It’s one of those things that I think a lot of people get caught up in and at times can be pretty divisive. And, though that weren’t enough, we have all been taught that it’s not something we discuss at family dinners or in polite company. So, by this point, you are wondering what it is, and I’m hoping that I’ve had you reading long enough to get you past the revealing of the topic at hand… so here we go, it’s…

politics (please move the cursor away from the close button, I promise it’s not what you think!!!)

There has been a thought rattling around my head in regard to the political realm and the Christian faith (we did, after all, just have another election year). Now usually here is where the lecture or directive on some political view would go, but that’s not what we are here for… I think there is way too much weight put on what Christians should vote on and how (again, room for debate, but that’s not the point). More important than debate is finding a better intersection for our faith and our politics than what happens in election cycles or what political cause we attach ourselves to. But I digress, our political affiliations and philosophies are not my aim, but really it’s our hearts for our leaders that I am concerned with. It would seem the better intersection can be found in the heart of prayer.

You see in two instances in scripture I see Paul dealing with this whole idea of political leaders. It’s in Romans 13 that he talks about God being over every authority, and not one of them being in power outside of His will. Then in 1 Timothy we are challenged to pray for all those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-4) and in light of these two things I started thinking…

Would God put leaders into power, that we may disagree with philosophically, politically, or even morally, in order to check the heart of His church (people) when it comes to prayer?

After all, what’s more important, the functioning of the government or our refinement as God’s people? I find that thought very challenging, but then, I find a lot of things that God does to grow me very challenging.   As Christians, if we are honest, we already know that our first allegiance shouldn’t be to country but to Christ (yes there is a point to be made about our faith informing our vote and need to be wise, but that’s not the heart of the matter here) and in that we should seek to lift every leader we have over us up to God in prayer, agree or not. In fact I wonder if we shouldn’t be praying more for those we agree with less (and not prayers that they will see it our way either). I’m not sure if this particular post counts as a rant, but I guess it could be mistaken as such, either way I just want to see our hearts change from a people of faith that are widely known for one sided politics, to a people of faith that can come together despite political difference to pray for the wisdom and guidance of our national, state, and local governments.

So.. bottom line… are we praying for our leaders at all? Are we praying for the ones we didn’t vote for? Are we praying for their wisdom (not our wisdom), clarity, safety, family? If not, are we really answering God’s charge to us, His body, to pray for those that are in authority over us? If not, let’s commit to changing that this year. Let’s start the discussion.

Be sure to check out Wednesday which is retro blog post day… I’ll pull something off my old blog that might even be related to this.

No… you can’t do better

So… here it is a hefty 5 days into the new year and I have another opportunity to write, so I will pounce on it with the ferocity of a starving man on a Christmas ham.  Opening wit aside, I come bearing a bit of a warning;

WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ (if you’re a guy) MAY BE IRRITATING, UNCOMFORTABLE, OR POSSIBLY CONVICTING…

but hey… at least I waited an entire 5 days into the new year before I posted something like that!  Truth be told, I have a laundry list of bloggable (?) topics I have been keeping in my phone, but given the sermon topic this weekend and the response to it, I thought this would be a great fit for the week. So… on to the meat of the matter:

I have heard in many conversations with men of varying demographics this particular statement, that pretty much grates my nerves (and possibly garners the occasional violent thought), when referring to their wives;

” I know I could have done better”.

Yep, true statement, heard it from the mouths of men and it is a stunner.  I, personally, do not get this! Better than what? Better looking? Wealthier? Better family pedigree? I’m not sure the answer to those questions from the minds of the men speaking, and I am not without understanding that some things are said in haste and with lack of forethought, but I would offer that no matter what, that kind of statement is over the line and has no place in the husband’s vocabulary.

You may be wondering why this statement bothers me so much (or of course you might be searching your closet for a blunt object with which to bludgeon these men) and I would say that that curiosity deserves an answer. This statement merits this kind of response because of its root nature; selfishness. It screams out that “my marriage is about me and what I want and what I deserve”, and that is a horrible way to walk through life and most certainly a wretched existence in marriage. I think for men that make this kind of statement (oh, it has cousins, it’s like a whole dysfunctional statement family) there is a motivation of self serving comfort, or at least a desire for it.

Now, before we get too far into this post I have to make sure that I emphasize my own selfishness and the fact that my marriage has indeed suffered for that selfishness at times, days where the “honey do” list gets the back seat to a Clint Eastwood marathon, or days I have pretended to sleep in while listening to the chaos of the house and just not wanting to engage. These things have come with cost, and at the same time have been used to refine me a bit.

And therein lies the answer… and the root of the problem. We have a perspective issue. We believe, and for the most part are culturally reared to understand, that marriage is about the joy and pleasure of self, that it is something that exists to feed us. Then we are told that if it stops feeding us, we are then cool to get divorced and move on a try again… and again… and again (having a divorce under my belt… I have indeed lived through this great delusion). We have to grow and adopt a new perspective and then fight to keep it. Marriage is not about us, it’s about the other, and it’s about God’s refining process in our lives.

So to those men I say; NO… you can’t do better! You cannot do better than a woman who calls you out of your comfort zone and demands that you be the man, husband, father,  you are called to be. Yes, she is going to need you to step up and be a man of character. Yes, she is going to need you to stand and lead your family in a Christ-like manner. Yes, she is going to need you to grow and stretch and be uncomfortable at times. She, that wonderful bride that God gave you, is a tool of His refinement in life. What an incredible gift! What could be better than that, than a woman who would cause you to rise to be more those things than you were before? Not much in my book.

Here is the kicker… Ephesians 5 gives us a clue (as does 1 Peter 3) as to the keys to marriage that works and lasts. Two key words SUBMISSION (hers) and SACRIFICE (his)… oh look how cute, hers & his matching “S” words… that paint a picture for us of what makes it happen. We men are called to live in sacrifice, not selfishness, that we would grow marriages and families that build up, and not break down. We are to be refined by our marriages, not just take from them until they are left dry and we are to pour out into our wives, that she would be presented before Christ without stain or blemish.

Recommended bible reading for this stuff- Eph 5, 1 Peter 3, Proverbs 31 (because you help enable that)

Recommended books – The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart by Stu Weber (good character building)

Why “rubbish”?

And certainly the follow up question would have to be… and why loads of it?... and you shall cover loads of rubbish! It all started with this sign.  Months ago I performed a wedding in Forest Hill and on the ride up to the rehearsal I spotted this sign. In my quick witted, self-amusing, desiring to be dry like a Brit, humor I thought to myself “Whew… and I thought they would only be covering a little bit of rubbish today.” I know it seems a bit ridiculous, but hey, it’s honest.

So that interaction has been brewing in my head for months, and that brings us to this moment, this morning. With laptop open, coffee steaming beside it, and the rampant thoughts of a husband, father, pastor, friend, guy who feels the deep obligation to cover loads of rubbish. Which now leads me to answer the original question “why rubbish?”. OK… sign aside, the reality of a blog is to cover a lot of thoughts (a friend and avid blogger calls his “ramblings”) that are born from the heart of the writer. The reality is that they are just my thoughts, they are not bedrocks of truth and salvation. That wonderful and powerful role has already been filled by the Gospel of Jesus Christ… and now the segue…

Philippians 3:8-9 ” What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

And that truly sums it up. There are no writings here that are so great in comparison to what the Bible has to offer (although you may eventually find some commentary on the Bible in here), and none that surpass the desire to know Jesus more fully as I grow in life, in marriage, in being a dad, and certainly in being a pastor. So… welcome? I guess.  It’s not my first blog, but I see this as a new start, and though I may grab some stuff from the old blog, this fresh beginning is an intentional thing, to share, to vent, and to join us together in our growth and desire to “gain Christ and be found in Him” that we would consider all the things we lose for His sake, rubbish, and as we lose them, we take heart and share them. So as for my journey and the things being lost, or surrender, or wrestled from me, be prepared reader…

Loads of “rubbish” shall be covered!