Friday, February 7, 2014

Challenging, Comforting, Powerful Words

Originally posted by Life Founder and Author Tim Marks.

God bless, Scott Johnson


Do you know what the word “resplendent” means?  Well, I must admit , I had to look up the word “resplendent” as I read this article below so I could fully understand what the author was describing. As I read this article it reminded me again of what God intends for us in our lives and what a true marriage is.

Some of you know that, about a month ago, I went to the Mayo Clinic to have my back basically rebuilt after years of chronic pain.  This pain has not only plagued me, but my entire family and, mostly, my wife Amy. She has put up with my short answers and lack of involvement because of this pain for years and now after the surgery she is still hanging in there and running things like a “Swiss Watch” AND taking most of my duties on AND caring for me.  What a wife I have.

Amy Marks is truly RESPLENDENT to me and I am very blessed that God made her for my wife.

Enjoy this wonderful article my pastor ( Dr Tom Ascol) sent me a few days ago.

God bless,
Tim

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Love your wife, don’t be a stupid fool!Husbands, God commands you to love your wife. He says that you are to love your wife as Christ loves the church. These are words that should bring us to our knees in holy fear. Christ’s example of love is humbling and overwhelming. His example should shake us to the very core of our being. This command, properly understood, should drive us to cry out to God for strength, courage, and his mercy.
 Why?

Because if you are to love with the love of Christ, then the actions of your wife must not determine the quality of your love for her. Men, Jesus loved you when your were unlovely. He cares for you when you turn away from him. He returns good in exchange for your cold and callous insensitivity to him. He reaches out to you when you have made a train wreck of your relationship with him. He is selfless when you are selfish. When you insult Christ by taking credit for his blessings he offers you forgiveness. Jesus responds to your disrespect by taking the punishment that you deserve. He loves you when you withhold love from him. He prays for you, even when you stupidly think you don’t have time to seek him in prayer.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Jesus loves you at great personal cost to himself. The way you act towards him does not determine the way he acts towards you. That is a very good thing for you and me. The last prayer you should want to pray is, “Dear God, please love me the way I love you.” Anyone who would pray such a prayer is what the Proverbs call a ‘stupid fool.“

But sadly, the way we love our wives is often dependent on the way they act towards us as husbands. If they are distant, we become indifferent. If they are cool, we become hurt. If they are disrespectful, we become angry. If they need help, we feel put out. This sort of behavior is not love.

Husband, God calls you to model the love to Christ to your wife. You are to love her because Christ loves you, not because of the way she acts towards you. Certainly, it is more pleasant when your wife loves you unselfishly. But, even this must not be the basis of your love for her. The love of Christ to you must be the primary motivation and example of your love for your wife.

When your wife has struggles, be compassionate and know her well enough to be able to help. She, just like you, can be unlovely. Christ’s love is still the example you must follow. Ask God for strength. Ask God to help you not act like the stupid fool, who forgets what God has done for him. Love your wife as Christ loves you.

Just in case any wives are reading this, you can show this to your husband! And remember, even if your husband is not loving you as he should, the love of Christ is also your model and strength.

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Don Henley of “Eagles” fame once sang, “I had a good life, before you came.”
And so it was with me.

I was single.

I pastored the little white Church on the corner.

I did not feel as though I was waiting for my life to start, indeed I was locked in a pattern of discerning God’s will (as much as my fallen filter would allow), and, then by His grace executing His will in my life.

I bought an old white house within walking distance of the little white Church.

I christened the white house “The Hermitage”, and went about fixing it up.

The Hermitage had a little green dining room, so I went about teaching myself how not to be a terrible cook.
On the whole I attempted to skip the entire phenomenon dubbed “Batching It Up”, even when I was as it were, a bachelor.

I did not have cable.  The Hermitage didn’t even have a television antenna.

I had my books, my dog, and my God.

I prepared my sermons and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was not wasting my life.  My life was going at full speed.  And, for whatever it was worth, I was happy.
One day, God in His providence ordained to pour blessing upon blessing.  He brought her back into my life.  I had met her in college years before.  We were at a Christian college whose ecclesiology lacked formally ordained pastors, yet there I was studying to be one and there she was the daughter of one.  She had honey colored hair, green eyes and freckles.  We had been two fish out of water, and she was… resplendent.
The years went by and she had become a teacher, and served with Africa Inland Mission.

There she was, standing before me once again, and she was as she had ever been… resplendent.  Everything crystalized.

I told her I intended to pursue her.

She told me she was going to the remotest part of the Congo she could find.

I told her we’d pray about it.

God smiled down upon me, and she became my Resplendent Bride.

While we courted we read “This Momentary Marriage”.  Pastor Piper reminded us of things we already knew about the covenant of marriage from the Bible.

Marriage isn’t about you, it’s about God.

She wore a $100 white dress without guile.  I wore what she told me.

We were wed in St. Louis at a Church called Hope, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

I told her I would let her down: but grace.

We sealed it with our first kiss, and we made our home at The Hermitage, nestled in the sacred hills and hollows of Glenwood.

A year passed.  She showed me South Sudan.  I showed her how to brown hamburger meat.

The Covenant of Marriage is a gift, and I feel like I’ve always received more than I ever gave.

Two more months passed and a fox named cancer tried to raid my home.

He is a wily one, he is.  We fought him when he called himself Non-hodgkins Lymphoma.  We fought him when he called himself Hodgkins Lymphoma.  We fought him when he called himself myelodysplastic syndrome and we fought him when he called himself Acute Secondary Leukemia.  And still we fight on.
The Hermitage has sat vacant for months while we sojourned in various hospital rooms.

My Resplendent bride endures chemo cocktails and radiation.  I endure cots.

People say I need to take care of myself. Take a night off.  They mean well of course, and I don’t think less of them.

But I don’t leave.  That’s not what I do.  The two became one.  I don’t leave.

I said “I do”, and I still do.  The “I do” of marriage is always in the present tense until The Lord Jesus says otherwise.  ”I do” is never “I did at the time”.  ”I do” is always present tense. “I do” travels through space and time to whatever condition the married couple finds themself in and says, “I still do, I always do, and when the enemy burns down these battlements, I shall remain”.

The perpetual present tense “I do” is anchored in the grace of God.  It is only possible in Him.

Marriage was never about being happy.  Marriage is a covenant, and covenants are rarely pain free.
My Lord Jesus endured far more pain than I ever will to bring peace through the blood of His cross to this realm of dustlings.

What I’ve learned from my Resplendent Bride’s cancer is that The Lord Jesus shines still brighter.

Once, a nurse told me that it was good that I was there with my Resplendent Bride.

I shrugged and told her, “That’s what marriage is.”

A shadow of sadness creeped over her face and she replied, “Not always.”

She’s right, you know.

Many a caretaker have crawled into a bottle never to be heard from again.

Many a caretaker has retreated into himself so far so as to be useless.

Many a caretaker has found comfort in the arms of another.

God have mercy on us all, for the things we do and the things we have no mercy for.

I suspect though, that those whom vanish in the hour of need thought marriage to be about happiness and perpetual comfort rather than the perpetual “I Do” that comes from a Christ who is always saying “I Do” to His bride, the Church.

Recently, on the Grammys, entertainers mocked God’s Word because it is old and then stole our glass and arches and held a ceremony “celebrating the commitment to love”.
It all reminded me of something the Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy (though he is quite old by now),

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful,unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB

Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power, indeed.

Ask any Pastor of a Church residing in a beautiful historic building: people want God’s house, but only if He’s not home.

I remind many couples that the stained glass windows were not erected to honor and celebrate their commitment to love.  This house is consecrated to God, and furthermore, we are not part of the wedding industry.

We are about Jesus, and so too must be your wedding, and more importantly: your marriage.
If not, call it what it is: a celebration to your commitment to having bubbly butterflies for the flavor of the month.

God’s menu for marriage does not change.

When the squall rages against my marriage, I thank God that this marriage was not build by mine, nor my Resplendent Bride’s hands, but by His holy hands.

Many have questions about what marriage is, and whom it is for.  Many have sinned against a holy God and wonder if He forgives.  Many think that it would take a miracle to save the marriage they are in.

The village of Marriage has long been at the mercy of robbers and bandits.  And I do emphasize the word, “long”.

Perhaps you are like many who have suffered the scars of other’s sin so harshly that you think it would take a miracle for someone to love you with Christlike sacrificial love.

I know a guy.

All things are possible with God.

The Lord Jesus desires to take you by the hand and make you whole, but His hands shall always have holes in them.  You must ask yourself what you have to do with those holes.

Married or not.