Friday, January 30, 2015

The Family's Real Jewelry Box

The Family’s Real Jewelry Box

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                Johnny’s mom had a jewelry box.  It sat by the sink in his parents’ bathroom, next to where   That box was filled with earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, accumulated over the years through Valentine’s Days, birthdays, and Christmas.  No doubt each one had a story behind it, some more meaningful than others.  But those same earrings that mom wore to work would occasionally get toothpaste splashed on them.  The bracelets that mom wore to church would sometimes be found under the living room couch, the result of a Saturday afternoon of the kids playing ‘grown-up.’  Why didn’t mom just hide her jewelry box?  The jewelry was valuable, but not valuable enough to protect from the everyday chaos of life.
Johnny and his sisters brushed their teeth for many years.

                Years later, Johnny found out that his mom had another jewelry box.  A secret one, hidden away in the closet above dad’s ties.  High enough that water wouldn’t splash on its contents.  Hidden enough that little hands wouldn’t have a chance to play with what was inside.   This box held more valuable things.  The special anniversary earrings that cost more than they usually would have spent.  The ring that was passed down from mom’s grandmother.  This wasn’t just a jewelry box.  It was the one dad would’ve grabbed if the house were on fire.  This was the jewelry box for the family’s real valuables.  And it was kept in a special place.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Questions and My Faith

The questions hung in the air.  Why was God allowing this?  Job’s children had died.  He had lost all his wealth.  He had sores that left him in pain every hour of every day.  He had lost the respect of those around him.  He believed God was real.  He believed he had been faithful.  Yet he was hurting beyond belief.  Job had a lot of questions.  But no answers.

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If you remember the story of Job in the Bible, then you know more than Job knew.  You know that Satan came before God accusing Job of not really loving God.  You know Satan said that Job would curse God to His face if God took away his blessings.  You know that Job would eventually be blessed again.  You know that thousands upon thousands of people in history have been able to stay strong in difficult times because of Job’s example. 

But Job never knew that. 

And that may be what amazes me most about the life of Job.  He had no answers to his questions, and – though he bordered on disrespect by implying God was not treating him fairly – he never considered turning away from God. 

God shows up and speaks to Job starting in Job chapter 38, but God never explains why everything happened as it did.  God didn’t tell Job about Satan’s challenge.  He didn’t tell Job that he would be wealthy again.  He didn’t tell Job that he would help so many people be faithful because of his example. 

God’s answer (in my paraphrase) was simply: “Trust Me, I have a perspective you don’t have.”
In his lifetime, Job never knew why those terrible things happened.  And yet he still had faith.

Our Questions

You probably have questions.  I know I do.  Why did God let that happen?  Or why doesn’t God stop more of the evil in the world?  Or why did God act in this instance but not in that instance?   Why, why, why.  Given time to sit under the stars and think out loud, our list could go on and on. 
The Bible is very up front that there will be things we don’t understand.  Deuteronomy 29:29 says “the secret things belong to the Lord our God,” and that our job is to observe the things that have been revealed to us.  Romans 11:33 says that the depth of God’s judgments and wisdom will be “unsearchable” and “unfathomable” from our limited perspective.

So questions will be part of our existence.  But hopefully we don’t stop at questions… 

Our Faith

Even though I have questions, I also have faith. 

I have faith that even though I don’t fully understand things, I serve a God who has shown Himself trustworthy.  The Bible tells us of people who had questions – just like us – but who eventually came to see that God knew what He was doing all along. 

Joseph must have asked questions at every step along an unfair prime of his life.  But by the end of his life, he is able to say that he saw how God had been working through his life, even in the bad parts (Gen. 50:20).

You have probably had some of those “Joseph Moments” already yourself.  Moments where you looked back and realized that God was doing good things all along, even though you didn’t see it at the time. 

I’ve had enough of those moments to trust that God will continue to act in the best ways at the best times.  To trust that the things I don’t understand will eventually become clear with a longer perspective.  

Our Challenge

In spite of life’s unanswerable questions, let’s strive to have Job’s steadfast faith.  To quiet our souls, and to be at peace: we are walking with God, and everything will be OK.  God has shown Himself worthy of trust, and there is enough evidence to believe He knows what He’s doing, even if we haven’t seen the ‘answers’ yet.   

Like Job, we will certainly have questions.  And like Job, I hope we also have faith.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

3 Types of Love in Marriage

                Marriage relationships don’t grow on their own.  If we’re not careful, we fall into the trap of thinking that our marriage will grow stronger by simply being in the same house year after year.  The years together will indeed deepen our relationship – but it takes some intention to make sure our years are truly “together,” rather than just “in the same house” or “with the same kids.” 

                In a section called “Your Marriage Needs Three Types of Love,” one pre-marital counseling workbook1 encourages couples to think about 3 different Greek words for love, and to make a plan for helping each type of love grow in our marriages. 

                What are the 3 types of love we need to be working on?

 1)  Friendship Love – The Greek word “philia” is often used to describe a friendship love.  This is the idea of companionship, communication, and cooperation.  We see the concept in passages like Genesis 2:18, where God creates Eve for Adam because Adam lacked a life companion/helper 
  • What will we do to keep friendship love growing in our marriages?  Some ideas from other couples: We will have a set time each day to talk about our day.  We will have a TV show we enjoy watching together.  We will find an activity to regularly do together, like reading the same book or taking walks or growing a garden.  We will show interest in what the other cares about.
2)  Romantic Love – The Greek word “eros” is often used to describe romantic, physical love.  This is the idea of physical attraction and the sexual relationship.  We see the concept in passages like 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, where Paul encourages couples to keep their sexual relationship strong 

  • What will we do to keep romantic love growing in our marriages?  Some ideas from other couples: We will hold hands.  We will hug often.  We will kiss each other good-bye when we go to work.  We will say “I love you” often, including when saying good-bye.  We will keep communication open on our physical relationship, with the goal of keeping it strong. 

3)  Sacrificial Love – The Greek word “agape” is often used to describe a self-giving, committed love.  This is the idea of putting the other person ahead of yourself, or treating them with love even when we don’t “feel it.”  We see the concept in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the famous description of how love treats others in ways that rise above our natural selfishness (“Love is patient, love is kind…”). 

  • What will we do to keep agape love growing in our marriages?  Some ideas from other couples: We will say “I’m sorry.”  We will forgive without continually bringing it up.  We will put the relationship above our own personal goals.  We will be sensitive to the other’s feelings, even when we don’t understand them.  We will strive to argue or discuss differences in a Christ-like tone.  We will endure difficult times until things get better for us. 

 Our marriage relationship will affect us more than any other earthly relationship – it is worth our effort.  Which of these do you need to get more intentional about?  Let’s make a plan to work on all 3 types of love in our marriages…


1Before You Say “I Do” by H. Norman Wright and Wes Roberts, (Harvest House Publishers, 1997), p. 22-23.