Excerpt from Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge.
When Me becomes We //
“A man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife; and the two are united into one.” - Genesis 2:24 (NLT)
Our love is a reflection of God’s love in us. Our thoughts and experiences of what love is are directly influenced by what we experience through God. You see, without God in a relationship, there is no perfect love. Sure you can give eros (physical) and phileo (companion, brotherly, sisterly, etc) love easily enough, but in the moments where you have to lay aside yourself for your spouse; that’s where you need the unconditional love of God, agape love.
You see, God created marriage as a symbol of what our relationship with Him should model; both personally and as a church. Men; God is showing you that you need to be a strong and courageous leader. Women; God is showing you that by respecting and loving your husband, you can nurture and heal any wound Satan throws at your family. But before we can even come to marriage, we must first deal with the process of two becoming one.
I was talking with one of the wise sages of our church body, and he had this to say about marriage. “I am Bruce, and my wife is Judy, but am I really still just Bruce? Sure, in a small group setting. But to the public I am part of a pair, half of a whole. I am Bruce and Judy Davis. We are equally one but also able to be independent.” Two becoming one. It’s a mystery that reflects even deeper into the nature of God. For we know and believe that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit. Each are individual people, but they are triune God. They are all God. The same way that Bruce and Judy are one.
I’ve currently been going through quite a bit of “growing pains” lately; just moments where Katie and I have started to uncover unspoken truths about one another that we’ve only scratched the surface of before. Are they bad issues? No, not usually. No, it’s more of just learning more about my partner. It’s times like these where assumptions are laid aside and you get to a truth that neither of you have put into words before. Then you adapt and accept. Is it easy? If we try to do it by ourselves, heck no it’s not. But as soon as we pray and ask God to change our hearts, to help us love each other righteously, more and more daily, God will lead us with strong hands.
There’s a line that’s been echoing in my head for the past few weeks. My pastor actually touched base on it this week. While we were going over a similar topic in 1 John 5, Pastor Kelley called out the married folk (and dating crowd). He said, “If you’re in a relationship you need to quit acting like you’re single.”
And I’ll leave you with that.
Grace, Peace, and Love,
Worship is Honest //
“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:10-12
Honesty; It’s just one of those things that we all desire and expect but easily find excuses not to give. Welcome to humanity. Paul describes it this way. “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:18-20)” You see, we are at war with ourselves. Before we took on Christ and allowed Him into our hearts we were a slave to sin. We didn’t stand a chance; sin bent us to Satan’s twisted plans. But now that we have been liberated we can refuse. Jesus tells us that if we resist Satan, he will flee. Not through our own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us.
You see, being honest and standing with integrity is incredibly important for maintaining relationships, and it is even more vital to sustain our relationship with God. You see; whenever you sin a whisper as loud as a shout tells you that you need to stop; that this is wrong. Some of you dismiss it as just your conscience. Well I hate to break it to you, but when the Spirit sets up shop inside your very soul your conscience becomes His voice. You need to be honest with God. “You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should do something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. (Romans 14:22-23)”
“He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)”
Be True to Yourself, but most importantly, Be True to Your God.
Worship is Fearless //
“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me? In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4, 10-11
There is a war raging on inside our hearts. We have desires and we have doubts. Both are equally valid as long as we realize where these whispers are coming from. You see, God places desires on our hearts, very often to fulfill them to prove just how much He cares and to prove that He keeps His promises. But on the other side, Satan will come in and be entirely convincing with lies and fears and insults. He’ll whisper, “You don’t deserve that, you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you could never do that or be that good.”
There is a place for fear; to respect and be in awe of your God, to know how righteous He is. We see it time and again in the Bible; to “fear God.” To fear means to deeply respect and be humbled by His might. But Satan does not garner that same respect from you, no. Jesus tells us and shows us that if we resist Satan and his demons, they will flee.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? - Psalms 27:1
What is Fear if not the opposite of anything good? Does happiness live with fear? Can joy be present in fear’s company? Can trust stand firm when fear strikes at its walls? Doubt, worry, anxiety: All are byproducts of The Enemy’s main weapon; Fear.
You see, Satan has no hold over us, he never created anything, and he can’t physically touch us. But he can mislead. Those whispers that say, “you aren’t good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough;” They are all lies trying to make you fear and doubt your trust in God’s plan. What if things don’t work out, what if I can’t see the way through these trials? Questions like those course through us along with the adrenaline that Fear induces.
But take heart, stand your ground, find your courage.
The Lord is my light, the Lord is my salvation… Whom shall I fear? The Lord is my fortress… Why do I tremble? God doesn’t go back on His promises. He promised to deliver us, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)”
I’ll go ahead and share some of my own experience with fear, doubt, rejection; the whole nine yards. You see, currently I’ve been dealing with relationships, and it’s actually been a really great opportunity for me to grow in maturity and faith. Basically, the lies that Satan has been whispering to me have been that I’m not good enough, or worthy. Other times when those attacks work, he moves on and taunts me by saying things like “Oh, you were so close. You’ll never have that chance again.” Or when I did finally make the right decision, he would stab me with doubt. Well guess what, Satan, I know your tricks, I know your lies. I know that God is on my side and that I made the proper decision. How? Why? Because I feel God’s peace on me, my fear has been stripped away…
Imagine your life if you chose to just walk away from fear. What if the shrapnel in your heart was removed, piece by piece; every volatile fragment of pain wiped away? What would be left? Think about it for a second; don’t just skim the rest of this. What if the things holding you back were cast aside? What if the lies of the Enemy were revealed as such? What would be left in your heart?
Imagine the life that Jesus wants us to live. In Matthew 8:26, He asks a simple question…
“Why are you afraid?”