April 30, 2014

Commandments for a Lasting Relationship

If you search Amazon.com for advice on relationships or marriage, you will find over 279,000 books on the subject. You can read all of them OR you can open your heart to advice from Nancy and me, a couple who have been in love for sixty-six years and married for sixty-one. Based on experience, which I am told is the best teacher, here are five commandments for a lasting relationship.

Thou shall be totally committed to each other. A relationship or marriage that stands the test of time requires that you be tenacious in your love for each other. A good relationship requires that you have a “capacity for tenacity.”

Thou shall always treat your partner with courtesy and consideration. “Please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, I’m sorry and you’re forgiven” should be common language between you. Sarcastic humor, wisecracks, humiliating digs or crude language that demeans your partner are not part of a loving relationship.

Thou shall communicate with your partner with candor and frankness. A relationship built on honesty and straightforwardness is vital in a marriage that stands the test of time. Also remember communication is not limited to words. Touching, holding hands, hugging and kissing are constant reminders of your love and affection for each other.

Thou shall have a penchant for humor. A good sense of humor is the best antidote for anxiety and depression and the most direct route to serenity and contentment. Laugh often, laugh long, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Finally, thou shall commune together with your God. If you ask God to be present in your relationship, He will bless and strengthen your togetherness and heal your relationship when there are problems. That’s one reason those couples who attend church regularly have the lowest divorce rate.

Follow these commandments and you too may celebrate sixty-six years of a loving relationship with the same partner.

April 25, 2014

Was Jesus Simply a Good Man?

If the story of Jesus had ended with his resurrection, there would not be two billion Christians in the world today. If Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was going to impact the world, it had to be told by others who believed he was God Incarnate.

That responsibility fell to a rag tag band of uneducated, unrefined, sometimes crude, selfish and boastful men who lacked eloquence and leadership. 

But these were the men who, filled only with the Holy Spirit, preached from Asia Minor to Rome that Jesus was the Son of God and those who had seen him had seen the Father.

People then and people today reject the claim that Jesus was God Incarnate. They believe Jesus was simply a good man and a great moral teacher. 

That position is flawed, for you cannot believe Jesus was an honorable man and also reject his claim of equality with God. Honorable men don’t lie. And the disciples were not scorned, persecuted and executed for a liar and a fraud. 

Before the cross, Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” And Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That’s what the disciples believed. May God grant us the strength and courage to believe that today.

April 18, 2014

The Power of the Resurrection

My favorite sermon imagines a committee charged with the responsibility of selecting those men who will be Jesus’ disciples. The meditation also supposes the candidates are those men who actually walked with Jesus.

After reviewing a description of each candidate, the committee ultimately decides that none is qualified to be a disciple. They are all too impulsive, cautious, pessimistic, rough, unpredictable, quick tempered or crude.

So what changed this diverse group of unworthy individuals into a force that would change the world?  It wasn’t Jesus’ words or the miracles they observed during the three and a half years they walked with him. After his death on the cross they were ready to pack it in and go home.

It was the Power of the Resurrection, an act so momentous the disciples devoted the rest of their lives and even went to their death passionately preaching the good news that the Risen Christ calls us for repentance and brings forgiveness.  

Just as the disciples were changed by Jesus’ resurrection, we are also changed when we recognize and accept the good news of the Risen Christ

May he shape each one of us according to his will. 

April 10, 2014

Celebrate Spring

After months of snow and ice, overcast skies, and cold, bleak and chilling winds, it is time to celebrate the season of rebirth and resurrection.

From the darkness of the still frozen ground, tiny, fragile and colorful winter aconites, crocus and snow drops silently and defiantly emerge and announce to anyone who passes by that Spring is here.

In case you didn't notice the flowers, Canada geese in the skies above, loudly and boldly proclaim the seasons are changing.

Jesus said,
"Consider the lilies of the field. They neither spin nor weave; yet I tell you  even Solomon in all his splendor was not attired like one of these."
There is no time of the year when Jesus’ words are more meaningful. Spring is nature declaring the Glory of God and victory of life over death, hope over despair, light over darkness and joy over fear.

I invite you to celebrate the joys of spring.

April 4, 2014

Divorce Your Cell Phone and Be Bliss Vigilant

According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of all traffic accidents occur when people text, take a phone call or send emails while driving. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports an increase in injuries suffered by people texting or talking on their phones while walking. 

Jarrid Wilson, a pastor, author and blogger, suggests we should  make our phones an accessory rather than a priority in our lives.  He says it’s time to control your phone, not let your phone control you.

I believe people who constantly text and email are missing an important part of life, because moments of bliss often capture us unaware. For example, if we are not alert to a spectacular sunset in a pink, blue and violet sky, such moments will pass us by.

The beloved hymn, How Great Thou Art, begins with this line: 
“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made.”
I invite you to drop the phone, and take the time to consider the awesome world around you. In the process, you may find blissful moments in your life you would have missed.