I have taken a hiatus from blogging and writing this summer. It was good to take that time off, but now that summer is over and the fall routine has begun, it is time to start writing again. As I was thinking about what topic to kick off the fall season of blogging, I figured I would start off with the topic that I we begun preaching on this Sunday, marriage.
While I am far from an expert, I would say that as of right now, I am more of an “experienced level” marriage guy. I’m experienced in the fact that Joannie and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary this past August. In those eleven years a lot that has transpired. We have experienced the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows, and the comedy and contentions of marriage.
In those eleven years, here are some of the top lessons that I have learned:
1) Based upon my understanding of God’s word, the gospel is the only stable center and foundation for a marriage to be built on. The gospel of Jesus is the only aspect (truth) of life that is never changing and always consistent. If a marriage is built upon anything else other than the good news and centrality of Jesus, it is a marriage that is built upon unstable sand. Money comes and goes, jobs come and go, children grow and go, looks can deteriorate, and people can change; but, the glory of Jesus never fades. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Anchoring marriage to him is the surest way to navigate the storms of life and marriage.
2) I am responsible for the work of the gospel in me and responding in a manner worthy of the gospel to my spouse. While part of my role and function as a husband is to love her as Christ loved the church (see Eph 5:25-28), I cannot control her actions. I found early on that I had more reactionary responses to Joannie rather than gospel reactions. I tended to talk and treat her in a way that reflected the way she talked and treated me. Therefore, (while I have not mastered this yet) I strive to talk and treat Joannie in a way that is befitting of the gospel rather than in a way that is reactionary from the way I feel or want to respond.
3) I have learned and am learning to P.A.C.E myself. I remember as a young college student meeting with the late Adrian Rogers who was the Sr. Pastor at Bellevue Baptist in Cordova, TN. In that meeting he told a few of us college students to P.A.C.E yourself. Now I do not remember what the acronym P.A.C.E stood for (or if there was one), but I remember thinking that this was a good way to view my marriage. When it comes to pacing myself in Joannie and I’s marriage, I want to be 1–Persistent, 2–Affectionate, 3–Communicative, and 4– Exalting. Many marriages start off great. Many put their best foot forward to impress their girlfriend, fiancé, and then spouse. Over time, for many, that best foot forward tends to ease up a bit. On the other hand, I know I didn’t didn’t start off that great, that charming, or that romantic. However, I wanted to be persistent. Part of being persistent is striving to get better—and to get better in every area. Second, I want to be great at showing affection towards my wife. I always want to tell my wife that I love her—whether it is verbal or written. In addition, not only do I want to tell her, but I want to show her. I want to touch her, hug her, hold her, and kiss her (I know what some of you are thinking). Third, I want to communicate with her. I found out that I had the tendency to be like a ticking time bomb. I would let things go until they blew up. I also found out that a lot of our early arguments happened because we hadn’t, or she hadn’t, communicated. Communication is what many times can clear the fog or storm away. And lastly, I want us to worship together. You would think that being a pastor this would be our my strong suit. But this is an area that I still have a lot of growing to do. I not only want us to be committed to worshipping God corporately with the church, I want us to worship God corporately at home as a couple. This involves us talking to one another about how the Lord is working in our life, praying together, and helping sharpen one another as the Lord continues to mold and shape us into his image.
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