Apr 30, 2011

God in Difficult Marriages/Relationships

And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death (2 Samuel 6:23).

These are the words that describe the relationship between Michal and her husband, King David.

It hadn't always been like this. David loved Michal. Michal was given to David by Saul who was the king over Israel for having defeated the Philistines. But when Saul became jealous of God's blessings over David, David fled from Saul's presence. And when David fled, Michal was given to Patiel to be his wife.

When David becomes king over Israel, David has Michal returned to him as his wife.

2 Samuel 3:14-16 records the scene like this:
Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, "Give me my wife Micahl, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins."

So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him "Go back home!" So he went back.

There was good reason why Michal should be upset with David.

And there was good reason why David should be upset with Michal. You can read about it in 2 Samuel 6.

But here's the thing: David is referred to as the "man after God's own heart" in scripture. David is often times seen as the par excellence of faith.

There are many examples recorded in scripture of why David would be called that.

While David is still called a "man after God's own heart", there was such a break in David's relationship with Michal that it was never reconciled.

Anyone who's ever been married knows that marriage can sometimes be downright painful and difficult. But as difficult as marriage can sometimes be, I've always counseled couples to do everything they can to work it out. And that's the counsel I try to live by.

But here we are confronted with a sad reality - David, the man after God's own heart, has such a disagreement with Michal that their relationship remains broken till their death.

Sometimes, relationships break. Not because of a lack of effort or even want to.

Relationships just break. Relationships come to an end.

There's no rhyme or reason.

It's just a sad reality in a fallen world.

So if you've ever been in a failed relationship, take heart. God is not even close to being done with you.

  • Just as God continued to use David to establish his kingdom over Israel, God wants to use you to establish his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
  • The key is to trust in the Lord with all your heart and understanding as David did. 

For those of you in marriages that are difficult. Take heart. God is not done with your marriage.

  • God can mend and heal your marriage and accomplish great things. 
  • Don't ever give up on what God can do in your marriage. 
  • I am absolutely confident that when we trust in God and his guidance, God can renew and heal any marriage. 
  • Hang in there. Take heart. Trust in God.

I don't know I am writing this blog today. I haven't written a blog in a while. As I was doing my quiet time today, I was struck by the verse and felt the need to blog. I pray it's a blessing to someone out there.

Apr 14, 2011

The Kind of Sabbath I Need

For most part of my Christian life, I've understood Sabbath as a time of resting and ceasing for the busy-ness of life. 
No doubt, those are critical elements of Sabbath keeping but I've come to realize I've missed the most important part of Sabbath - delighting in God.
I'm coming to realize Sabbath time is much more than just the mere cessation of activity. 
Sabbath is more about setting aside time to delight in the love and the presence of God.

I could be in the same room with my wife and my children and still not be with them. I can be away from the computer, without my ipad or my smartphone, away from emails, phone calls, and texts, with the tv off, but unless I am engaged fully with them, I might not as well be in the room.
They not only want my physical presence in the room, but they want all of my attention as well. They want my engagement. They want my participation. They want my delight.
The reality is that I want and need the same thing from them as well. Because there is no genuine relationship and intimacy without it.
That's the part of Sabbath I've been missing. It's not that I haven't had set aside to rest and stop from my normal activities of the week, because I have been doing that. It's just that I've not been focused on delighting in the most awesome and incredible God in the universe. 
I get to hang out with God! I get to be in his presence. I get to delight in the love of God!!!
That's the part God desires from me and that's what I need the most in my relationship with God.
I love that. We can cease from busy-ness and the cessation of busyness doesn’t make for a Sabbath. Sabbath is not only stopping from, but allowing the Holy Spirit of God to re-create us and to refresh us. And the beauty of the Sabbath is that it is the presence of God that allows us to be re-created and and refreshed. 
It is delighting in the love and the joy of Christ that reconnects us to God in such a way where we are not merely doers, but “be"ers as God’s beloved children.
This is the kind of Sabbath I need to practice more

Apr 13, 2011

God's Favorite One

A friend jokingly asked me, "So, out of your four kids, who's your favorite? You've got to have a favorite."

To which I unhesitatingly replied, "Why that's easy...My favorite one of course!"

And we both laughed.

I have been thinking about what I told my friend and I am absolutely convinced I meant what I said.

Out of the four kids, the one I love the most is my favorite one.

But here's the thing: each one of them are my favorite one.

That is not a typo: each one is my favorite.

It's not that there's a certain amount of love I can give and the four of them share that love. Love doesn't work like that. When I love my children, I love them equally as if they were my absolute favorite ones. And that's the beauty of love. True love doesn't get divided into smaller parts...True love multiplies.

This is how God loves us. God loves us as if we were his favorite child in all of creation...because that's who we are to God.

So, you can go about each and every day knowing that you are the most favorite child of the Creator of the universe!!!

That's pretty darn awesome!!!

Apr 8, 2011

The One Thing...

Was reading William Barclay's Commentary to Mark when I came across this passage:

Churches will never draw together so long as they argue about the ordination of their ministers, the form of church government, the administration of the sacraments and all the rest of it. The one thing on which they can all come together is the fact that all of them are seeking to win men and women for Jesus Christ.

I couldn't believe what I was reading!

How could Barclay have written so aptly about what the PC(USA) is going through today?

Barclay first penned these words in 1955. And as true it was then, the church will only get its act together and start living as the church when the church seeks to win men and women for Jesus Christ. That's the primary purpose of the church.

There are many other good reasons for the church exist, but the primary reason why the church exists is to win men and women for Jesus Christ.

It's not that all the other reasons for the church to exist - fellowship, accountability, social justice, etc. - are not bad reasons. They all have their place. They are all good things. They are all necessary things for the church to be healthy. But they are not the primary reason for the church.

I long to be a part of a church and a denomination that is known most of all for its zeal to make Jesus Christ known to men and women who do not know him yet as Lord and Savior of the world.

As long as we forget that and continue to argue about ordination standards and the form of government, I am afraid we will continue our downward spiral into irrelevance. 

Apr 7, 2011

Inerrancy, Civil Rights, Women's Ordination, Ordination Standards - What are the Common Themes?

The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" Ecc. 1:9.

There is no doubt about it. Change is in the air. No one knows what exactly the future holds, but everything seems to be pointing to the fact that the future will look very differently than the present looks for the PC(USA).

The landscape of the denominational life as we know it is undergoing monumental shifts as we move ever closer to approving 10-A and change our denomination's stance on ordination.

Here's what I find intriguing about our current discussion. People from both sides of the debate are approaching this from a biblical and Christocentric position. It's not that the conservatives are Bible focused while the liberals are not Bible focused on this issue or vice versa. Both are where we are because we are convinced that God would have us do church in this way.

There are many controversial and important issues in the life of the church where people have agreed to live with the tension of disagreement - i.e. the war in the Middle East, Israel/Palestine, capital punishment, abortion, etc. I rarely hear people demanding that if the PC(USA) does this or that, or doesn't do this or that over these highly controversial issues that they are going to leave the church. People have come to accept the tension of disagreement in these issues.

However, when it comes to the ordination issue, we are different. Heard many people say something like, "If the denomination starts to ordain homosexuals, or if the denominations doesn't ordain homosexuals, I'm out of here!"

What is it about the ordination and sexuality issues that divides the church like this? Why not over these other issues? Why is it that we can live with the tension of disagreement in a host of those other issues while we are declaring that we cannot over this particular issue.

This isn't the first issue that has arisen out of many other important issues that have become the issue for a generation.

For instance a generation ago, the single issue amongst a host of other controversial issues that divided the church was women's ordination. A generation before that, it was the Civil Right's movement. A generation before that it was inerrancy. And the list goes on. Every generation seems to have their particular issue on which they declare they cannot live with the tension of disagreement.

Here's the question I have been trying to wrap my head around: what is it about these particular issues that makes them become the divisive issue for an entire generation over the other issues? Why can't or doesn't the church get beyond these particular issues?

Perhaps, it's when we can answer this question, we can help our church move beyond our current impass.

Would love your thoughts on that.