meditations


My twin brother, Mark, has always been a huge encouragement to me in my faith.  As a missionary in Japan, Mark understands what it means to do hard things in a hard place.  We often talk about the challenges of ministry and how we want to make a difference for the kingdom.  I love his challenge here:

Will you be faithful to your call, even when it seems fruitless?  Are you committed to Jesus and His glory in your ministry, and not towards numbers?  God is in charge of the results as long as we are simply obedient.

I recall my good friend and mentor as a college student, Jim Luebe, saying, “I just want to be a faithful laborer over time.”

That is my goal as well.

  • Read his entire post here

It’s hard for leaders to rely on others.  They like being on the pedestal and feeling responsible for everyone.  It makes them feel needed and important. 

In Exodus 18 we see Moses taking on too much in his role as judge over the people of Israel.  Good ole’ Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, rebukes him saying, “What you are doing is not good.  You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.  You are not able to do it alone” (Exod. 18:18).

Leaders can’t do it alone.  That’s clear in this text.  God drove this point home to me even further in a book I’m reading called, Organic Leadership.  As a leader I’m not only going to wear myself out if I try to do it alone, I’m also enabling the irresponsible behavior of others.  Neil Cole says,

As long as leaders continue to fulfill all roles of responsibility, the others will not be able to do what God has called them to do.

Do you see what he’s saying?  The bottleneck in God’s work within a church if often it’s leaders.  We need to be reminded of this daily.  Moses did.  You see, the ironic thing about this story in Exodus 18 is that one chapter earlier God used Moses’ outstretched hands to conquer his enemies.  Whenever he held up his hands, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed (Exod. 17:11).  But Moses’ hands grew tired and weary and so he had to rely on Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side, in order to defeat Amalek.

Perhaps we can learn from Moses and visualize ourselves on a battlefield.  Just like Moses we must rely on others to hold up our hands in order to move forward and do what God has called us to do.  And just like Moses we must look for “able men who fear God” to help bear the burden of leadership.  The result?  I’ll let good ole’ Jethro tell you.

If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.  ~ Exodus 18:23

From creation to revelation we see that God is on mission.  His mission is to restore a broken humanity into a new community–a community that ultimately reflects the relationship he has with himself in the Trinity.   Tim Chester says,

In the church we are striving with the Spirit’s help to express the plurality and unity of God; to be the one and the many without comprimising either.

We are called as a community on earth to reflect the relationship God has with himself eternally.  We are a preview of heaven; and yet our community is not yet completed.  We are on a mission to bring others into this community, and the way we do that is through our common relationship and partnership in the gospel.

Relationship

When we gave our lives to Jesus we were immediately brought into the family of God.  We have one Father who unites us together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Within the framework of this family we are called to do life together.  We are called to live out the many “one anothers” of Scripture because of our common relationship in Christ.  This relationship is a picture of the relationship God has within the Trinity.

Partnership

When we gave our lives to Jesus, we were immediately joined to Jesus and to each other.  Just like a body we are connected to each other.  Romans 12::5 says, “In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  The purpose of this partnership is to first build up the body in love (Eph. 4:16) and then promote the gospel to the world (Mt. 5:16).  In so doing, we will reflect the beauty, the unity and diversity of the Trinity.

What does this look like practically?

It means that we stop thinking of our community as merely a horizantal, social activity.  Rather we should start thinking of our community as a vertical, reflection of the Trinity.  We are a living drama of the divine community!  That means that when we’re worshiping together, serving together, or even hanging out together, we are imaging forth the relational nature of God’s being.   We are giving the world a snapshot of heaven–indeed, a snapshot of our heavenly King.  What a joy it should be for us to live under the good rule and reign of King Jesus.  And this joy and love should be seen in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.  We must make the invisible Trinity visible through our community!

A Daunting Task?

Becoming a community who reflects the love of the Trinity seems like a daunting task for the church today.  It’s very similar to a husband and wife being told that their marriage is a living picture of Christ’s relationship with the church.  Daunting, indeed!  It should bring me to my knees in prayer … all the while remembering Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17:21.

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  

  • Read Tim Chester’s great article, “The Trinity and Humanity”
  • Read Total Church, by Chester and Timmis

Ephesians 5:29 says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

  • How does Christ nourish and cherish his church?
  • How should we then nourish and cherish our wives?

I tried to answer those questions here … knowing I have a long way to go in loving my wife this way.

Have you ever marveled at the fact that your wife can do so many things at once?  Like make dinner, talk on the phone, help with homework, and feed your little one … all at the same time!  Hopefully you don’t marvel at this too long before getting in there and helping her!  But, isn’t it amazing to stop and think about how God has made our wives with brains that can deal with multiple thoughts and emotions at the same time? 

Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, in their book, For Men Only, liken this to “having multiple windows open and running on your computer desktop …with some of the open files being weeks old … and annoying little pop-ups keep coming back … and all you can do is to minimize them so you can focus in on the other half-dozen tasks you’r actively juggling.”  They compare this to a man’s brain that most often processes thoughts and emotions sequentially, focusing on one thing at a time.

Here’s one practical example of how this works itself out in real life.  I know there’s been times when Jaime and I have gotten into an argument and then we talked about it and apologized to one another and it was out of my mind.  I could go to work and put the argument out of my mind, but she couldn’t.  She needed more time to talk about it.  And in most cases, I was quick to move on to something else without really getting at the heart of the issue (my pride!).  So that “window,” if you will, couldn’t close in her mind until I took the time to really engage and listen (and confess my pride!).   

I’m not sure if any of us will ever figure out the fabulous female brain, but one thing I can do is to stop and really listen to my wife.  One thing I can do is stop and seek to understand her instead of assuming I know what she’s thinking.  And most importantly, one thing I can do is stop each day and be amazed at the woman God gave to me.

So often I come home from the office ready to relax instead of serve my wife and family.  I found C.J. Mahaney’s thoughts on “seizing your commute” to very helpful:

I saw that my commute could best be utilized as a time of transition, so that I might be prepared to finish the day by loving and serving my family well.  So I made it a practice of pulling the car over a few blocks from home so I could take a couple of minutes to make an effective transition in my soul.  There on the side of the road, I meditated on Epheisans 5 as well as some other passages.  I confessed to God my sinful tendency to be selfish and sought to prepare my heart to serve my wife and children when I arrived home.  (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, p. 49)

When was the last time you intentionally thought about how you could make your wife happy?  How you could please her… and cherish her … and make her feel like a queen?  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t think about this nearly enough.  My mind often dwells more on my ministry than my marriage.  But the Bible assumes that a married man will be concerned about pleasing his wife.  In fact, the Scriptures say that this pursuit of pleasing your wife and pleasing the Lord will divide your time.  1 Cor. 7:33-34 says,

But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.

It almost seems as if Paul is saying that pleasing your wife is a worldly thing and will cause great anxiety!  But we know from the context that Paul is affirming both singleness and marriage as a calling from God.  It’s good to be a married man!  However, there’s no escaping the fact that our time will be divided. 

So how can we intentionally please our wives, and in so doing, please the Lord?  That’s the question I would like to meditate on with you in the coming days.  Knowing that my wife will probably be reading these posts, I have a built-in accountability!  So with that in mind, I hope to take small steps here, realizing I have a ton of room to grow.  And because I’ve only been married 10 years, I’ll be quoting other men who I have learned (and still are learning) from. 

So, here we go.  Lou Priolo, in his book, The Complete Husband, gives us a good first step.  He simply tells us to take a sheet of paper and at the top of the paper write, “Things That Are Important to My Wife.”  On the sheet he recommends recording things that your wife values–specifically things she values more than you do.  Take some time to think about this and keep this list in your journal, Bible, etc., and add to it as needed.  This is the beginning step in taking action to please and cherish your wife.  So, what are you waiting for … make the list!

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