Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thanking God for the Gift of Marriage & ROBIN

Thanking God for ROBIN

Way back in the beginning, when God surveyed His awesome handiwork of creation, He beamed with proper pride and said to Himself "good job!" (see Genesis 1-3). He rated His work as "very good", setting an example of a holy work ethic.

Yet, when God had Adam inventory and catalogue the animals, a hole was revealed. A divinely designed deficiency - not defect - was discovered. God allowed Adam to make an important discovery: perfect though he was (this was pre-Fall), Adam was nonetheless incomplete.

The animals not being a suitable companion for Adam, he and God agreed that it was not good (or safe!) for man to be alone. Our gracious Creator took surgical steps to fill in the hole to help make man whole - He formed Eve and brought her to Adam - the first arranged marriage.

Marriage was God's idea, plan and gift. One man, one woman, becoming one, "until death do they part." It is not a dead or deadening institution, but a life enhancing means of favor from God. As Scripture affirms, it is a sinful and deadly business to attempt to tear apart what God brings together.

Two events have me mulling over these matters. Valentine’s Day and a wedding I am honored to do soon for Ben & Alexis. I mention them as a tribute and so you can pray for them and all newlyweds.

For the record: If any man is half as blessed with and through his wife as I am, he too is blessed beyond what he deserves. I give testimony to God's word in Proverbs 18:22. "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" (NIV).

I have come to believe that as when God put Adam in a deep sleep to bring forth Eve from his side, so too God must cause women to swoon deeply to cause them to marry the likes of us. Most men marry far better than their wives. I certainly did.

Talk about the deal of the century. God must have caused a suspension of good judgment and vision for my wife to say "I do" to me. Thank you Lord for that favor. I cannot imagine life without my sweet soul mate.

As much growing up as I still have to do, it scares me and terrifies others to think of how much more immature I would be were it not for her. A guy gets past his teen years and thinks he is somewhat mature. God then allows us to marry and quickly and graciously reminds us how selfish and petty we still are.

For those blessed with children, He repeats the process through them. Though women have growing up to do as well, they usually stay a step (can you say "giant leap"?) ahead of men. Longsuffering is a trait God possesses and often develops in women through men (see James 1:1-12). No need to thank us.

God alone knows the contribution my dear wife has had to my life and ministry. While she has not been an anchor holding me back, she has kept me from drifting into dangerous waters, many shipwrecks and neglecting needed harbor time to retool and rest.

Robin, my gift from God, has willingly gone without, cheerfully made do and displayed flexibility beyond reason to her husband's - that would be me - lack of forethought or aft-thought (a new word; dedicated to her.)

Beyond laughing at my jokes, she provides my best sounding board and screening device. Many have been spared much due to her godly, timely insight. I have been protected countless times as well.

Bearing and raising five children is not conducive to the enjoyment of chocolate Bon Bons, feet up, TV remote in hand or phone under the ear. My beloved is one of the hardest workers I know.

As the old poem goes: "A man may work from dusk to dawn, but a woman's work is never done." Laundry and dishes seem to be far more fertile than we are. With four boys romping through the house- five counting me - repairs can pile up almost as fast.

The demands of ministry fall to me in the context of my family. Late night calls, emergencies that pull me away, meetings, the pressures of shepherding. Robin has and does willingly bear these with grace and maturity. She makes it possible for me to brag that we are truly a team.

I could easily go on about her tiresome efforts, incredible meals, patience, forgiveness and endurance, but I fear providing ammo for her and conviction for me if I continue.

Happy belated Valentines Day, my precious gift from God. I could never begin to repay you for who you are, what you have done, endured and overlooked. True to style, you would not demand or accept repayment anyway, for you have done these things unto the Lord.

You have lived out the verse you had inscribed inside my wedding band: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" 1 John 4:7 (NIV). Your love shows that you have indeed been born of and know God. What a gift you are! I love you.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic Lessons from God's Word

Olympic Lessons from God's Word

Sports Widows Alert: the Winter Olympics start TODAY! During the Olympics' run, we Doyals are sleep-deprived yet sudden experts in tobogganing, downhill skiing, figure skating and even curling.

To help justify all this passive television viewing - or at least quiet my conscience - I remind myself that the Bible deals with sports matters quite a bit. So, for all you sport fans, here are some Olympics inspired passages from God's word.

Some are verses that seem to have been drawn from athletic competition. Other texts have connected ideas that are fodder for meditation and prayer. Use these verses to create your own parables, analogies, and life lessons.

Does guilt creep up on you as you sit and snack, watching countless disciplined, well-conditioned creatures? Here is a further motivation to get into better shape - both physical and spiritual.

"Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next." (1 Timothy 4:7 & 8 - NLT)

As you enjoy the next medal presentation, and consider the years it took for the athlete to earn it, mull over this verse: " How much better to get wisdom than gold, and understanding than silver!" (Proverbs 16:16 - NLT). While the gold and silver refer to riches, it does still help us ask: does this sound like one of my core convictions?

The Apostle Paul must have been a sports fan. See if this sports-filled passage - I count eight plus allusions - describes your commitment to the gospel and Christ.

"I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings. Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

"So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:23-27 - NLT).

As you consider those glorious temples in Athens, built to honor their gods, check out this track / temple exhortation for purity:

"Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6 18-20 - NLT).

When you are amazed by speedy short track racers, and insane skiers, pray this for missionaries: "... pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:1 & 2 - NKJV).

Seen anyone disqualified or penalized for cheating, drugs, lane violations or low blows? It is a great reminder to "...fight the good fight for what we believe..." (1 Timothy 6:12 - NLT).

Last, but not least, as medal winners are crowned with soon-to-fade laurel wreaths, consider this text, praying it can be your testimony as well: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8 - NKJV).

Let the games begin! May we be found living medal-worthy lives of discipline and diligence.