“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross Till my trophies at last I lay down And I will cling to the old rugged cross And exchange it some day for a crown”
The Old Rugged Cross
There’s nothing that I can do to change the past. I can only hold fast to the truth. The Crucifixion was a horrible event. But, I can celebrate the empty tomb. Because Christ went to the cross and died for me, because He was raised again on the 3rd day, I will strive to honor Him. The Cross & the empty Tomb are intertwined into my life of faith. It is because of Him that I can have peace through the daily grind.
“At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus. They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.”
Luke 24:1-8 MSG
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”
We have a blended family that includes 5 adult
children that range in age from 20-30 years old. We are firmly entrenched in the marriage
stage of life. So far, we’ve had 3
weddings: Zac in 2016, Kyle in 2018 and
Reagan was married this weekend. Three
down and two to go.
As a parent, there are lots of thoughts and emotions
that arise when one of your children moves toward marriage. You want the best for your child. You pray they are making sound choices. There’s the joy (and lets be honest the stress)
of adding another person to your family as well as the new extended family. Weddings are fun, beautiful, joyful,
frustrating, tiring and hard work. And,
after the party is over, the REAL work begins in earnest.
Marriage is a constant exercise in give and
to statistics, almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. Researchers estimate that 41 percentof all
first marriages end in
divorce. Of the remaining 50 to 59 percent of
marriages, I wonder how many would rate their marriages as “successful”. I love being married. I was married for 18 years, widowed for 10
years and celebrate my fourth anniversary in a few months with my new
husband. I had a successful first
marriage and I consider my current marriage a success.
So, what makes marriage so difficult? I think the answer is pretty simple: selfishness. When I concentrate on “ME” and “MY WANTS”, I cannot put my marriage first. My selfishness takes precedence. I recently saw a sign that said: “Want a bad marriage? Put yourself first. “Want a good marriage? Put your spouse first. “Want a great marriage? Put God first.”
There is so much truth in these words. If I concentrate on what God wants, I will take care of my spouse. It doesn’t matter if my spouse reciprocates. I am still responsible for seeking a Godly marriage. And if my spouse also seeks a Godly marriage, so much the better!!
We’ve all heard and/or read 1
Corinthians 13, also known as “The Love Chapter”. I find that putting scripture into my own words, makes it a little
more real to me. This is my personal interpretation
of a few of the love verses.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 (Melissa’s
Love is valuable. It is worth everything to me.
Love keeps going even through the hard
gives to others instead of taking for itself.
is happy in its’ own yard. There are no greener pastures.
doesn’t exist only when it gets attention. Love
doesn’t allow my selfish wants to conflict with those I love.
doesn’t manipulate to get its’ way.
plays 2nd fiddle at times.
is calm in the face of conflict or disappointment.
has learned the art of forgive and forget.
doesn’t take pleasure in making others beg for attention
speaks the truth (even when it hurts.)
withstands any attack.
is from God and trusts that He is in control.
often wears “rose colored” glasses and sees the good in a difficult situation.
never asks “what if” and longs for something (or someone) else Love stands firm and stays true to its’
vows and commitments.
There are three things that will make me successful in life: Trust, Hope and Love. And Love is the one that is my focus.
We all crave love. We want to be adored and cherished. Too often, however, we confuse lust with love and settle for less than the best God has for us. We have found that we can avoid solving issues within relationships by moving on to new relationships. There is excitement in the chase. We use the excuses “I’m just not happy and I deserve happiness”, “We’ve just grown apart and have nothing in common”, or (the biggest lie from Satan) “God wouldn’t have brought him/her into my life if He didn’t want me to be with him/her.” Just as Eve allowed the Serpent to persuade her to eat the forbidden fruit, we listen to the world and throw love and commitment to the wolves in order to have a moment of excitement and fun.
As my children begin and continue
to grow their marriages and their own families, I pray that the words of 1
Corinthians 13 will ring true and keep them on the true path.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Easter Sunday has come and gone once again. The chocolate bunnies and candy eggs are now sitting on the clearance aisles. I have always enjoyed Easter eggs; the dying, the hiding and the hunting. Some of my fondest memories are of the egg hunts at my grandparents farm with my cousins and family members. Eggs would be found for days around the yard after Easter. I looked forward to the new dress, the shiny new shoes and maybe a new hat. Easter was the beginning of spring. A new beginning for the year. But, I’ve learned that Easter (or Resurrection Day) is so much more than frilly dresses and colorful eggs.
Easter is all about Love. True, deep and passionate love. It is a blueprint for each of us to know what it is to love sacrificially. In short, the meaning of Easter is how we, as Christians, are to love. Period.
The week before the crucifixion, Jesus is honored with a dinner and a very expensive anointing. Mary knew the meaning of sacrificing for one you love.
Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them. 7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.” Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.
John 12:1-10 MSG
Have you ever kept something precious for yourself? I have! I used to hide my Christmas candy. It was something I felt the need to share. It was MINE! Mary offered something not only special, but very expensive. A gift borne out of love and devotion.
Later in the week, Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his disciples. It was customary to wash the feet of the guests before the meal. Not one of the disciples was willing to do this. But, Jesus was willing.
Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.
John 13:3-5 MSG
Have you ever heard or uttered the phrase “It’s not my job”? My husband and I have various responsibilities around the house. On more than one occasion, I have used this phrase to get out of a less than pleasant task. Washing feet would be one of those things I would not want to do. But, Jesus took a servant’s position. It may not have been His job, but it was His pleasure.
Jesus lived love. How different would our lives be if we followed His directions to ” Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Would my marriage be better if I loved my spouse more than I love myself and put my bucket list down and honored him instead? How would my children react if they witnessed that they were more important to me than my own agenda or enjoyment?
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.
John 15: 9-17 MSG
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew the next days would be brutally painful. He knew. And, He continued to love and to sacrifice for us.
Then he told them, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death . . . stay here . . . stay awake with me.” He went forward a little, and fell face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. But I want your will, not mine.”
Matthew 26:38-39 TLB
Christ took the punishment that I deserve. He stood in the gap for me. He was beaten and murdered to give me the gift of God’s love. All that is asked in return is that I put my faith in Him and love other’s just like He loves me.
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
Isaiah 53:5-6 MSG
The next time I’m upset because I didn’t get my way, I will remember what Jesus did for me. When loving another person means walking away from my own pursuit of happiness, I will choose to walk in Love. On those days when I think I am being asked to give up too much too often, I will rethink my own comfort and walk the walk that Jesus taught.
What does Easter mean to you? Is it just a time for games and bunny rabbits? Or, is there a deeper meaning to this day of celebration? Are you willing to truly love in the sacrificial and passionate way that Jesus taught? What does it mean to Love?
Between my husband and I, we have 5 children between the ages of 20 and 30. Both of our boys are married. One of our daughters is newly engaged and planning her summer wedding. The other 2 girls are in their own relationships. We are surrounded with young love and wedding talk which can be very exciting. The talk of love and happiness is everywhere. Love is a wonderful thing. But, there are days when Love is just difficult. And it’s on those days that happiness seems to disappear. So, what makes it all worth it?
I married my first husband in my late twenties. We were young and in love and dumb. As the newness of newly wed life and the infatuation that accompanies it wore off, we found that love wasn’t always so sweet and happiness didn’t come easily. I didn’t particularly “love” that my husband artfully draped his clothing around our bedroom instead of putting it in the laundry hamper. He wasn’t very “happy” that I only washed what was actually IN the hamper and he had no clean socks. There were days and sometimes weeks when I wondered WHY I had decided to marry this man. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. He wanted to do EVERYTHING together. I craved my alone time. We struggled. I wasn’t miserable, but I wouldn’t describe our life as happy.
It was several years before I discovered the “secret” to true happiness. It wasn’t really that difficult either. I just had to decide to be happy in whatever situation we were in at that moment. I had to give up my expectations that anyone could make me happy. I learned that there were things that I had to sacrifice in order to build our marriage together. Instead of being irritated because I wanted to be alone, I was glad to have a husband who wanted to spend time with me and our children. I made it a point to seek out the reasons to be truly happy and content. When I decided to choose my marriage over my personal agenda, the change in our lives and our relationship was amazing. As much as I loved my husband, he would never be everything that I thought I needed. And, he was powerless to provide the happiness I sought.
When my husband died in 2005, I was confronted with such deep sadness. I didn’t think I would ever know love or happiness again in my lifetime. I was wrong. Even in the immense sadness of those years, I found moments of happiness. I became more intent on seeking out reasons to be happy and celebrate the moments. My children and I laughed at memories and tried new things. I learned that there can be great joy in the midst of deep sorrows. I once again decided that I would be happy even if I never loved another man. Some days were easier than others.
I married my second husband a little over 3 years ago. Our path to each other wasn’t easy. We both had struggles along the way. We both loved and lost. We came into this marriage with scars and (I hope) a little wiser. We know that every successful relationship requires compromises (aka personal sacrifice). He can never make me happy. He doesn’t have that power. We can offer each other experiences that bring happiness. But, ultimately, happiness is a personal decision. I love him deeply and passionately. The joy of our relationship is a blessing every day. There are still struggles. Every morning, I make the decision to choose my spouse over my self. I choose happiness whenever I see the opportunity.
My advice to the young and in love (or those wanting to be in love)? Find happiness within yourself FIRST. Then, and only then, will you be ready to tackle a lasting relationship. Infatuation will not bring lasting happiness. Identify that things that you “love” about the other person. (And don’t fall into the trap of saying he/she “Just makes me happy.”) I married my best friend. I trust him completely. We talk about everything. We have fun together. I know that he looks out for my best interests. Together, we find contentment that may not look too exciting, but it sure offers us many opportunities to decide to be happy.
“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.” Ephesians 5:22-28 msg
When Aretha Franklin recorded this Otis Redding Song, she
declared she was a strong & confidant woman who has everything a man could
want. She demands his respect. But, what is RESPECT?
I ask the question because we don’t seem to understand the term in this day and age. Respect is given to a person we admire, to a position of authority or honor, or to a boundary that denotes space or possession. Respect can be defined in several ways and the definition in which I am most interested is:
“to consider worthy of high regard” syn: admire, appreciate, consider, esteem, regard
Throughout my life, I have known people that I personally had difficulty respecting. Due to personal or work ethics, I did not respect anything about them. I could however, respect their position of authority. It was easy to complain and whine about the how unworthy these persons were. It often proved to be very difficult to give respect to the position they held. But, I knew it was necessary for me to do just that. In a business setting, I could force myself to give at least a token respect since my job quite literally could depend upon it. Unfortunately, I think it can be particularly difficult to respect a position or a stand, when the offense is from a member of our family or the Church.
Philippians 2: 1-8 (MSG) says
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
If Christ was able to put aside his own status and take on
the status of a slave, then shouldn’t I be able to offer grace to those people
that just drive me nuts? Christ knew
that Judas would betray Him. Yet, He
still included Judas within the twelve.
He still showed love and compassion to His betrayer. Is
there anything in my world that excuses me from giving that same love and
compassion and even respect to others in some form?
Respect is almost a foreign concept in our world where “self”
is the most important part of life. We
You deserve to
happy. Don’t waste your life. Chase happiness.
The harder you work, the
more you will get, and the happier you will be.
It’s a dog eat dog
world. Grab what you can before it’s
Whoever has the most “stuff”
When I, ME, and MINE are the most used
terms in my vocabulary, esteem of others is impossible. If I refuse to take responsibility when I
hurt or offend another person, I show just how much I respect them. When I gossip, complain or talk about friends
or family to others, I lose the respect and trust of the very people I am
attempting to impress.
There are lots of areas where disagreement is not only
possible but encouraged. We see that
evidenced in all areas of politics. And
I’m using the term “politics” quite broadly.
Aside from the government, politics encompasses the total complex of relations between people living in society. We see politics in our family and business relations. We have seen the politics of the Church
evidenced from the time of the Pharisees all the way through the various
denomination squabbles of today.
We can have disagreements. We can have convictions. But, ultimately, we have to find a way to be “deep-spirited”: especially within the Church. In my younger days, I had no patience with
anyone that didn’t follow the letter of the law. I was a self appointed judge and jury who practiced
religion. And no matter how meticulous I
was, my actions were worthless because my motives and actions were not based upon
the grace that I myself had been given. There
are areas that are not up for debate, but that doesn’t mean that I have the
right to run roughshod and force-feed my convictions to others. As I matured, I realized the need for
tenderness. I found that allowing a
person grace and compassion was much more effective in guiding them to the
truth. And, along the way, I discovered
that some of my “laws” were really based on religion not faith. Respect doesn’t mean I have to agree with
you. I don’t even have to approve of you
or your actions. But, I do need to respect
the person that God has lovingly created.
That’s a hard pill for this controlling person to swallow
at times. I’m still learning. I’m still trusting. I pray that I’m T-C-B: Taking Care of Business.
I recently saw an article titled “If Your Husband Does These 13 Things, You Hit the Marriage Jackpot”. As I read through the 13 items, I was quite pleased. I DEFINITELY hit the jackpot with my husband!
He encourages and inspires you.
He can comfort and calm you.
He still flirts with you.
He works hard.
He loves spending time with you.
He loves and respects his mother.
He complements you often.
He is selfless.
He says “I love you” often.
You are his #1 priority (after his relationship with God.)
He surprises you.
You are a team.
He admits when he is wrong.
As I looked at the list, I began to wonder: Does my husband believe that he also hit the jackpot, or do I tend to be more of a pothole? A Jackpot is something we all want. We avoid potholes. They cause damage and expand with every contact. I want my husband to see how deeply I treasure him. At times, I may require more than I offer, but I will strive to be the “jackpot” wife he deserves.
In 2005, my husband died. It was unexpected and it was devastating to me. Many well-meaning people shared scripture that were meant to be comforting. But, at the time, I didn’t find much comfort or even any semblance of truth in many of the verses shared.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” Joel 2:25a
“then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.” Deuteronomy 30:3
“God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:12-13
I didn’t understand how some unknown thing in the future would ever replace what I had lost when my husband died. How could the years we lost together be restored? My husband was dead. Nothing could ever replace him in my heart. Nothing new would replace what I had lost. I couldn’t accept that any of these promises was meant for me, personally. I was in pain. I grieved the loss of my life as I knew it and as I had dreamed that it would be.
But now, I see. I have a new marriage and with it a new extended family. My new husband is not a replacement for the one I lost. I will always grieve that death in some way. One doesn’t love completely and then forget that relationship. But, this new marriage has taught me that I can love again, that my life did not end. I have been given a chance to experience a deeply passionate love, once again.
This marriage is different from the one I began in my twenties. This marriage is founded on a long-standing friendship and maturity that I lacked 30 years ago. I can love more completely because I understand the fragility of life and relationships. I have learned to give all now, because I do not know what tomorrow holds in this life. I try not to miss a chance to say “I Love you” for I have determined to never again regret words not spoken. I cherish the quiet breaks, the silly moments, the busy times and even the heated, uncomfortable times; for they represent all the things that form a lasting and loving relationship. I vow to speak positively about my husband and to honor him in my words and actions. I am aware how important it is for my all of my children (both through birth and marriage) to have a model of stability to use as a pattern in their own lives.
This marriage of almost 3 years will never replace the 18 years of my first marriage. This marriage is new. This marriage is a blessing of restoration and joy. I can truly say the God has blessed my later life even more than my earlier life. He has restored my joy.
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.
God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” A common rhyme I’ve heard many times. The rhyme was usually said as an encouragement to ignore any name calling or mean taunts that were said by others in an attempt to hurt one’s feelings. But, as we all have learned, words can be very hurtful. The sting of a careless (or premeditated) comment can stay with a person for a lifetime.
I’ve always been astounded at couples that say they are “in love”, but insist on taking unkind and often rude shots at the object of their love. If my husband or boy-friend were to call me a “lazy, fat-a$$”, I would have to reconsider EVER speaking to him again. Yet, I’ve heard this very phrase used several times in the past year between several young couples. I have come to accept that words like this are indicative of the maturity of the individuals involved. Immaturity breeds discomfort as well as a need to be “in-charge” of situations or relationships. Using negative words are just one way to exhibit strength in a relationship: they say “I am the boss of my life!” The negative comments are on the same level as an animal marking his/her territory. If one is confronted concerning the negative talk, the response is often “Oh, I was just joking” or even worse, denial.
I have been guilty of using sarcasm as a passive/aggressive way of attacking others. After all, sarcasm is just joking around, right? Sarcasm is defined as:
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt
After being confronted with the definition, I realized that I did use sarcasm to get my message across in an “innocent” manner. If we are all honest, most of the humorous moments or jokes that we share at another’s expense have a basis in truth. We usually have an agenda or a reason for poking fun at or making rude comments to our loved one. Ephesians 4:29 TLB says:
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
There is nothing better than having a kind and thoughtful partner in life. Someone who “has your back” at all times. This is the one person you can always trust to treat you with respect and consideration. We all need laughter in our lives. (FYI: Dry humor does not have to be mean or sarcastic.) By watching what we say to and about our loved ones, we prove our love. That’s not to say there will not be misunderstandings or hurt feelings along the way. But, if I know that my husband is my biggest protector, it’s easier to cut some slack and forgive the occasional miss-step.
So, here’s the challenge: watch what your say. For the next 30 days, make a concerted effort to say only kind and uplifting things to your friends and family. Be aware of what you say to everyone around you. Consider the tone of your voice as well as your words. Before any comment escapes your lips, use this filter: “Will my comment/joke hurt anyone’s feelings?” Listen when others are concerned about what you’ve said or how you’ve said it. They may have heard more truth than you intended to convey.
Our pastor and his wife, Kenny and Valerie Dean, talked yesterday about marriage. Central in there discussion was how hard marriage can be. I don’t think it matters how “in love” you are with your spouse, there are times you just want to quit and walk away. All through the Bible, marriage is used to show how much God loves us.
“God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28 MSG
“No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”
Ephesians 5:29-33 MSG
As I considered yesterday’s message, i understood that people often treat their marriage the same way they treat God. We expect our marriages (and God) to be exactly what we want: all fun and happiness with no rough spots. Life is a beautiful rose garden with a fairy-God granting our every wish. However, it doesn’t take long to learn that the roses have thorns. God loves us, but He loves us through the trials. It’s only through the struggles that we learn trust and commitment. When marriage is all about what makes ME happy, the rough spots are inevitable. By loving my spouse IN SPITE of my feelings, I learn what true love is.
In our fast food, microwave culture, we have forgotten how to wait. If things don’t turn out the way we want, we find another option. We don’t have the patience to wait on God, so we stick around just long enough to glimpse the truth and then jump to something else. When I’m not happy in my marriage, I find other ways to get pleasure. The divorce rate in our country is indicative of this. If I hear one more person say “I deserve to be happy” I will scream! That’s a lie. Happiness is a decision not a right.
Time and time again we see evidence of the messes we make trying to “help God”. The unrest in the Middle East has its origins in such a debacle. Sarah helped God by giving her servant to Abraham. Ishmael was born the result. Sarah was mad when Hagar became pregnant and abused her. Hagar ran away to die.
“The angel of GOD said, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse.” He continued, “I’m going to give you a big family, children past counting. From this pregnancy, you’ll get a son: Name him Ishmael; for GOD heard you, GOD answered you. He’ll be a bucking bronco of a man, a real fighter, fighting and being fought, Always stirring up trouble, always at odds with his family.””
Genesis 16:9-12 MSG
How many times do we cause issues because we aren’t willing to wait? We jump from one partner to another trying to find love and happiness. We cheat and take what we want and then wonder why there is suspicion and heartache in our relationships. Sexual promiscuity is acceptable and dangerous. You have no idea what you will be exposed to in a single moment of pleasure. When you have convinced yourself that variety in partners helps you to grow into a better lover, you rob yourself of a truly intimate relationship.
“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:16-20 MSG
I serve a jealous God.
“You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”
Exodus 34:14 NLT
If my marriage is to be a picture of a my relationship with God, then I cannot venture outside of my marriage to find happiness. My joy and my happiness will be realized through serving God and loving my husband regardless of what’s going on in our lives. Through the good times and the bad, through the fun and the sadness, I will honor my marriage vows. I will honor my God.
. . . “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17 NIV
Anyone that has been around me for very long knows that I love music. There are few things as satisfying to me as singing really tight well tuned harmonies with others. That’s one of the reasons I love to sing the “old” hymns. They were written for harmony. With that type of music, you don’t need all the instrumentation: the voices are the instruments.
But, I also love the “new” music (at least some of it!) Technology has moved us past simple piano/organ accompaniments. We now have so many variations of guitars, drums, keyboards, etc. It’s fun to see all of the components fit together and the excitement often builds with the noise level.
I get amused when people start comparing music styles. The argument for singing hymns is often the history and the message in each of them. I jokingly refer to the blue Baptist Hymnal with which I grew up as “God’s Hymnal.” Between the King James Bible and the Baptist Hymnal, we had a lock on all things religiously important! I still love many of the hymns from that hymnal: #96 At Calvary, #240 Just as I Am. I knew the page numbers of the hymns we sang quite often by heart. I could also sing verses 1, 2 & 4 from memory for many of those.
But changes occur. The first ripple I remember was “The Good News for Modern Man” version of the Bible. It was easier to understand, but was still not treated as “THE Bible.” Then came the Living Bible and the New American Standard Bible. Newer translations and paraphrases were used more and more. The New International Version moved onto the scene as well as The Message and countless others. And none caused a bigger stir in the Baptist world as the introduction of the NEW Baptist Hymnal. The hymn numbers were different. They included some of the “new” songs like “Pass It On” and “He’s Everything to Me.” Some people still were lamenting the loss of the Broadman Hymnal with the shaped notes and the “real” hymns. I remember the comments at the time. But, we moved forward and the world as we know it did not end. We continued to have church, we continued to sing. We just did it differently.
Just as I use various translations and paraphrases of the Bible to study and learn, I use different styles of music to worship and enjoy. “The Old Rugged Cross” is still dear to me. “Victory in Jesus” will never go out of style. And the memories that these older songs bring up are precious indeed. My college years were filled with music by Amy Grant, Dallas Holme & Praise, the Imperials and other contemporary artists of the day. They were loud and new-fangled to my parents, but they are old-fashioned to my kids way of thinking.
I recently had a conversation with one of my daughters and she commented on the old music being played by the local Christian radio station. I couldn’t help but laugh. The “old” stuff was MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, and other artists I still consider relevant. But, the praise music we hear today is more often from Bethel, Elevation, or the newest Hillsong iteration. Within Contemporary Christian music, a new division has been emerged: Praise and Worship. The other stuff is just old and boring.
I will continue to enjoy both the old and the new. There are new versions of the old hymns introduced every year. Who hasn’t been moved by “My Chains are Gone” or “The Wonderful Cross” or “Cornerstone”. All use hymns as their basis. I can’t wait to see where music is in 10 years. Will “What a Beautiful Name” or “Oceans” join the ranks of “Because He Lives” and “Shout to the Lord” as “old” hymns? Will we continue our trek back to tighter harmonies and more unplugged sessions? Just as fashions seem to come back into style and translations change, what music will be popular again?
And in case you’re interested, there are songs that move me to tears in just a few notes: “The Strategic Air Command March”, “Under the Double Eagle” and “Stars and Stripes Forever”. All are marches (not hymns) that bring up some very bright and wonderful memories for me of my years playing trombone with my high school band. Music speaks to the soul. You may have a particular genre that you prefer and that is just fine. Please allow that others react differently. Just because it’s new (and maybe loud) don’t discard it immediately. Let God use His music of all kinds to speak to you.
19 Talk with each other much about the Lord, quoting psalms and hymns and singing sacred songs, making music in your hearts to the Lord. 20 Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.