Tag Archive: Christ

Robert is a friend that tbV and i met once in Americaland at a protest of sorts and have since become strong online friends and co-appreciators of Pearls Before Swine and other shared forms of humour as well as sharing in a hunger for following Jesus – he has been married to Heather for close to 18 years and while this is more of a story than a ‘one thing to learn’ piece, there is a lot in here to help us be better at loving our spouse…

Robert and Heather [a few years ago]

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:23-33 ESV

I’ll bet that most people who read the above passage and the other various passages probably know the verse that comes before this better than this passage. While they may come from various different positions, almost everyone can rattle off “Wives submit to your husbands” and know that it comes from this letter of Paul’s (it is also in Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1 I’m not going to get into a discussion of those passages. Instead, however, I’d like to talk about the husband’s role. And, to be honest, while I could probably do a pretty decent job of discussing the biblical text and all that goes into it… I’m not. You see, probably more important than the way I interpret the words of Paul and explain them is how I live it out. So, let me tell you what I do as I try and figure out what it means to love my wife as Christ loved the church.

My wife’s body is not in the best of condition these days. Oh, don’t go there… I’m quite pleased with her appearance and such. She’s a gorgeous woman and I am constantly amazed that she married a geeky nerd like me. But folks who read my blog know that we are heading into the seventh month of a journey we never asked for, that of cancer and the treatments that go along with it. So, when I say my wife’s body is not in the best of condition, I mean that between surgeries, medicines, side-effects, etc., it’s a little bit broken right now and needs a bit of healing and fixing up. Because of that, she can’t do what she would normally be able to do as a wife, a homemaker, and a mother, three roles that she deeply loves to fulfill. As much as she wants to, she just can’t.

Now, I’m no paragon of masculinity with a well functioning body, buff and ripped with that fabulous Adonis-like form. I’ve got my issues and my problems. But, right now, I’ve got a lot more capability to do stuff than my wife so, in comparison, I’m doing pretty good. There are also things that are my roles in life that I deeply love. I love being a preacher, I love being a scholar, I love being that big strong Daddy to my little girls, I love doing the handyman thing around the house, and I love being a husband to my lady-love. These are the things I do. However, during this particular time in our “one-flesh” life, some of this I have to give up. As much as they are my strengths, as much as they are my heart passion, I can’t do the preacher thing as much any more. I can’t spend hours on end reading books and pontificating about the things I learn. There are all sorts of other little pleasures I have in life that I need to set aside. Why? Because I love my wife.

Let me give some examples.

My wife and I both love to cook. In fact, we “fight” over the kitchen sometimes because we love it so much. Usually it’s her anyways because I don’t get back from my commute until almost 6:30 at night. But these days, when she can’t cook a meal because she’s too tired or in too much pain, I put down my laptop case, throw off my coat, strap on an apron and head to the kitchen to cook.

We have two girls who cannot decide which of their two loving parents they want to have read bedtime story to them at night. So, my wife and I split the duty where we each get one kid every night and, the next night, we switch. That way, each girl gets some Mommy nights and each girl gets some Daddy nights. However, when she can’t tuck the kids in at night because it is too painful to trudge up the stairs, I scoop up both of my girls and give them their snuggles and love before bed.

We try to live a simpler life than most. Because of that, we decided a long time ago to be a one income family. My wife had no aspirations to be a career woman. Teaching piano lessons, being Mommy, and keeping house were her biggest goals. So, I do the work thing and she stays home. And since she has the time, she takes care of stuff around the house during the day so that, in the evenings and weekends, we can be a family together. But when she can’t do the laundry, sweep the floors, scrub the toilets, clean out the fuzzy-green monsters from the refrigerator, wash the dishes, etc., because she has used up all her energy from the day simply getting dressed in the morning, I stop being the husband and start being the homemaker for a time.

My wife has ceded to me the recliner in the living room because it fits my body better than hers. It is a very comfy chair and it is my default seat in the evenings. But these days, when she needs the comfy chair in the living room because she needs to prop up various body bits to alleviate the discomfort, I give up my man-chair so it can nurture her wounds.

All part of being a stay-at-home-mom (and because I don’t get home in the evenings until almost 6:30 at times), my wife gets to play taxi and drive the daughters around to their various thingies. But pain, fatigue, exhaustion, etc., makes it so she can’t do this. When she needs me to drive the kids to school, flute lessons, horseback riding lessons, friends’ houses, church, Sunday school, youth group… basically everything that the Mom Taxi Service does, I use my vacation time to stay home so that the family continues to run smoothly and “normal” is preserved.

Note something here: I don’t do all this stuff because I HAVE to. I do it because I WANT to.

My time is not my own. My energy is not my own. My desires are not my own. Everything that is me, I give up so that my wife has the space, time, energy, and rest she needs to heal. It is my way of nourishing her, cherishing her so that she can, someday, get back to doing what she does.

But, to be honest, I’m not going to give up giving up for her. When she finally gets back to full health (and I trust in my God enough that I KNOW that will happen), there will still be days when I tell her to sit down and prop up her feet while I get a few things done around the house. There will still be days where she gets a well deserved day off and is allowed to rest and replenish herself. And I hope, honestly, that this journey we are on right now will train me up better so that those days will be more frequent than they were before this whole thing came down.

The situation my wife and I find ourselves is a bit extreme. Not every marriage faces these challenges. But every marriage, as I see it, should have this kind of sacrifice as the absolute core of what it means to love one another. Love is not about what you can get out of the marriage. Love is about what you put into it. I’m putting my entire self into it, sacrificing everything that is me in order that my wife will know how absolutely essential she is to me. Before I was married, I thought I was a complete person. Now that I’ve been married for almost 18 years, I cannot even begin to understand how I could have ever been so mistaken. Because of that, I give myself, my life, to my wife “as Christ loved the church”.>

[to read what Sheralyn Cloete has to say about making good assumptions, click here]

my friend Rob takes the advice on how to create a strong marriage thing in a bit of a different direction with this solid advice:

Lock the escape hatch and throw away the key. With no way out we are left to work through our challenges together and become the purposed display or shadow of Christ and his bride to the world.

On a practical level:

– Give yourselves to the process of holiness more than happiness

– Dreams of a happy marriage not followed up by deliberate choices will not come true.

– Passive husbands will still be held responsible (just ask Adam). Lead.

[Rob Murray – married for 8 years]

to continue to the next part click here…

an excerpt from this week’s thort for the week that i send out with some ways you can really have a great Christmas…

The bottom line is you can get creative – i will share a few ideas here but it doesn’t take a brain scientist to work this out – look after the poor, needy, lonely, sick in some way this Christmas and share Christ’s love in action…

[1] Present-giving – as our main present-giving this year, tbV and myself will be buying something for the kids at the place of safety (uThando leNkosi) that we have been involved with over the last few years – we may still do something small for family and maybe some friends, but we want the bulk of our giving to go towards that place that is making a huge difference in the lives of children at risk. Pick a person or a family or an organisation that you know is in need and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be all the giving you do but at least let some of your giving this year be to someone needy or alone.

[2] Feasting – i learnt from my parents that Christmas can be a time of including others beyond yourselves and those close to you – every Christmas there are people who are going to be spending it alone – someone who has lost a wife or a husband this year, people in the local old age home, a single parent with her new child, someone you pass every day at the traffic light – and so why not add one person, or a few to whoever you were planning on having your Christmas eve, or Christmas lunch feast with. It might be a little more awkward or uncomfortable for you, but it could transform someone’s night and even life.

[3] Activity – for the last number of years we have had a tradition of making sandwiches on Christmas day or Boxing day and taking them out to homeless people in the area (the hardest part usually being finding any homeless people – when you look for them, they can be hard to find!) and so a bunch of people have donated or brought along bread and fillings and juices and so on and a bunch of people have volunteered their time to make the sandwiches and then drive around and distribute them – great group bonding activity for everyone involved but also an amazing way of keeping Christ-love in the centre of your Christmas celebrations – and it doesn’t have to be on Christmas day – pick a day in the holidays, grab some friends or family members, explain the deal and get going… another idea is taking some flowers and visiting some old people in the local seniors home or the hospital because both of those places have a lot of lonely people at Christmastime and short visit and simple gesture can make all the difference.

And so on. Get creative. And just do something. Don’t let this time be all about you and only those you love or are comfortable with. Ask God intentionally what kingdom stuff you can get up to and then involve others in it and spread the love.

And please let me hear the stories afterwards…

so last week at enGAGE (sun eve congregation gathering at stellenbosch vineyard church) we had over 40 people there including a bunch of first-timers and roymond preached up an elijah storm in his first ever preach on the firetruck in the desert and your buckets capacity… at the start of the service i challenged the congregation to be more committed in terms of choosing to hang with us more regularly (attendance can be a bit sporadic at times) not wanting to make it a heavy ‘you-must-come-to-church’ vibe but also when i preach this term a series that build on each other it really helps to have people coming more regularly to get the whole journey as opposed to one or two of the pit stops

so last nite, once the worship team took their places – and we don’t have a worship team of 25 people – there were close to ten people left – from 40 plus to under 20 – great upping of commitment there – and so i was completely bummed

before then i was only partially bummed – we have a prayer time with the leaders and whoever wants to join us before the service and everyone felt so dead and withdrawn and no one was really praying or anything so i felt like God wanted me to pray for peoples amping and filling with the Holy Spirit and so i shared a bit of that and then said whoever wants God to fill them or up their amping please stand and i will pray for you – by then i was super amped to see God just pour Himself into people and really bring His joy and life and ampdness…

til no one stood – a room of 6 or 7 people and no-one seemed ampd to be ampd – and then one of the guys tried to cover over the awkwardness perhaps by making it into something else but i really felt strongly that this is what God was wanting to do and if no one is ampd then that’s fine but i really want to pray for anyone who does – my beautiful wife Val stood and i got to pray for her which was amazing – but again, no one else – and i’m sure people have their reasons and so on and that’s fine – i’m not judging them, but i’m just saying that i was super bummed…

and so during worship singing time i really didn’t know what to do because the preach i had prepared on engaging with those outside of the church seemed a bit random when there were only about 20 people inside the church and so i decided to lus my preach and instead share the anne rice/john ellis stuff that i’ve been blogging and thinking about – i started by saying how i know the pastory type guy has to have it all together and can’t be bummed and so on, but i am and mentioned the previous week’s commitment thing…

and so i read Anne Rice’s three comments/posts and we had the raddest discussion and within about two minutes i had left super bummed behind and just embraced the potential and opportunity to discuss something that is quite real in the church and the world right now – the importance of understanding where a lot of christians are coming from at the moment – loving Christ completely but not so ampd for some of the horrible hurtful things church can get up to

this week i also read the headline of a story of a church in the US (think i know which one if their reputation is anything to go on) who are planning a koran burning on the 9th anniversary of the destruction of the twin towers – i can not begin to imagine the damage that might cause – i can imagine the ‘message of love’ it is sending out with the label ‘church’ attached and i can fully understand a lot of people wanting to have nothing to do with being associated with that particular label

another friend of mine commented on the anne rice note i had on facebook something about those clowns who love Jesus but leave the church – again words of love which are really going to help ‘those clowns’ realise how misguided they are and draw them back towards the church?

at the end of it all, and the really delightful participationary service it had become, the conclusion was this – it is our responsibility and opportunity to draw alongside the anne rice’s and the john ellis’s and so many more people out there in similiar waters, and demonstrate to them a church that IS known by the love they have for each other, that is loving the sinner (while hating the sin but making well sure the sinner realises the difference between the two), that is involved in society actively building, reaching out, loving, reconciling and being the body of Christ in a world that is desperately hungry to see a church that lives out what it says it believes

so i quoted Anne Rice the other day and this is a further explanation of where she is at which explains it a little bit more – i really like her last line… [from http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/30/anne-rice-leaves-christianity/?hpt=Sbin]

Anne Rice leaves Christianity

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession” in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist,” “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me,” Rice wrote. “But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

some more Erwin McManus from the book ‘an unSTOPPABLE force’ – From the chapter ‘Friction Traction’

On Multiculturalism:

‘The gospel, as presented in our time, has been crafted in such a way that would only bring Christians to Christ.’

‘Evangelism for much of the church has not been among unbelievers but focused on receivers – people who already accepted our worldview.’

‘The “great sociologist” Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all just get along?” The answer, of course, is no. We can’t all just get along. We’ve proven it time and time again in history. And it’s often not because of our extreme differences. One of the peculiar realities of crime and violence is that there is far more white on white, black on black and brown on brown crime than there is across colours and cultures. People who outsiders view as similar, whether it’s the Hutus and Tutsis, or the Bosnians versus the Serbs or the North against the South, often carry out the greatest conflicts. Civil war is as difficult to stop as international war. Multiculturalism has only accentuated the human inability to bring peace on earth.’

‘Jesus came and destroyed the dividing wall that not only separated man from God but also Jew from Gentile. God is about destroying walls that divide. The church will gain traction in the multicultural environment when she begins to dismantle the walls created not by the hands of God but by our own hands. Sometimes this will require nothing less than confession of the sin of racism and prejudice and the kind of repentance that leads to change. It isn’t enough to go to church with a diverse world, God calls us to embrace those who are different as brothers and sisters.’

i remember some kids song that went ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself, oh-oh love your neighbour, but don’t get caught’ and thinking as i write that, i may very well have added the ‘don’t get caught’ on to what was a nice kiddies song of which i still have the tune playing in my head… so maybe scrap that…

but it brings to mind the one thing that is hugely on my mind at the moment – loving your wife, and better – been blogging a series on Facebook called ‘how to love your woman better’ which is aimed at getting guys (and everyone really) thinking about how they love their wives, girlfriends etc (and the other way round of course but directing it at the guys) – the other night i was at a function with some of my people and tbV overheard the one woman speaking to her man on the phone giving him some directions or something and then getting irritated with whatever he was saying on the other end and finished the conversation by screaming “I HATE YOU!” and hanging up…

wow, that breaks me… it was not a Christ-following relationship, but i don’t doubt even in some of those people dive across the boundaries of what should never be said or done and God has put it HUGELY in my heart to see Christ-following relationships improved to the thousand percentile (no, i don’t, it just sounds like a nice word) and especially to see the bar raised…

when i got married to tbVal in my speech i spoke to married men and single guys about that and put myself totally out there in terms of how Paul does with his ministry – follow me as i imitate Christ kind of vibe – but follow me as i role model good relationship… on the one hand i guess it can appear arrogant, but it is completely not. it is the desperate plea of someone watching a lot of people in relationship (Christ-following and not) and saying “there must be more than this” [my life theme song] and stepping up to the plate and making myself hugely accountable and vulnerable and there for the shots to be fired at and committing (cos it is completely a commitment as opposed to an arrogant statement) to loving my wife better.

i do think that loving tbV is one of the things i do best in life. not saying i have it perfect or close to that and not saying i am necessarily better than anyone else, but in terms of everything i do in life, it is one of the things i work at the most and try to intentionally get a lot more right than i did yesterday. we still do have a way to go before we are any kind of perfect couple, but in terms of what is out there, we have a lot to teach and model and call people towards already… and NOT just because we have “only been married 5.5 months”

one of the things is to love my wife publically – not to a sickening “please stop” “get yourselves a room” level of grossification, but to an extent that lets people know i love this woman, i am committed to her, and i want to express it.

so love your wife… and get caught! a lot.

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