December 30, 2008
By Todd Staal
Associate Pastor Men’s Ministry, Resurrection Life Church
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?
Hopefully not too many that read this will have had this statement recited to them by a man or woman in a uniform of authority. Nevertheless men and women battle to be certain their rights are protected in homes all across this nation. Allow me to clarify.
One of the largest complaints my wife, Cheryl, and I hear in our time spent with countless troubled or broken couples, married or preparing to do so, is that they believe their rights to proper treatment by the other has been compromised. Inevitably they come to a point where this violation has led to a complete silence in communication, breaking off of physical interaction, and loss of any hope of a satisfying life together. Perhaps as you are reading this article it is describing your exact situation. Your rights have been stomped on, disrespected, and you are sick and tired of it! I encourage you, read on.
There is something intriguing about our 21st century Americanized sense of entitlement. You needn’t look far to see headlines about union strikes, constitutional boundaries, or special interest groups waving a flag regarding their outlined rights. So after hundreds of years of indoctrinations of this manner it is no surprise that it would bleed into our personal relationships. It arrives under the camouflage of lifestyle expectations, service mandates, and even prenuptial agreements. So then, how did an institution created by a loving, merciful, self sacrificing God, become occupied by such a self preserving attitude? A one word definition works…focus.
Only one time in history have I seen God show partiality in the relationship between a man and woman. It is found in Genesis 2 when He said, “It is not good that man should be alone”. Ever since then He has expressed an extreme desire for unity through preferential love and unconditional service towards one another.
Men you are admonished to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25), “dwell with them with understanding” (1 Peter 3:7), and “not be bitter toward them” (Col 3:19). Likewise women you are instructed to “be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1), and “let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). I would say these job descriptions are quite plain to understand, and if combined with proper motives and heart conditions, could make for a beautiful marriage. In my last sentence lies the key to making or breaking the deal.
If; a conditional word that leaves success or failure hanging in the balance. You have heard it before; if I invest a dollar a day, I will be…If I only had…If My people who are called by my name… The God who framed the world with words is not one that accepts “ifs” as a condition to obedience to His instructions. This is where the plan broke down. We decided somewhere that we could no longer trust God to vindicate us as David did and we would have to create an escape route to our job description. Thus enters statements like, “If she can’t respect me, then she can get out!”, “If he won’t pay attention to me, I’ll find someone who will!”, and they all arrive at one conclusion…what about my rights?
If you are still with me, here is the heart of God’s plan that He wants us to see. He loves each of so much, He desires our hearts to be knit so closely with His that we see through His eyes and trust Him completely. His original marriage agreement never included prenuptial agreements or a bill of rights, but only a hope that in giving an outline of instructions and the ultimate example through Jesus Christ, we would love Him enough to keep our end of the deal till death separates us. It’s not easy to return love for disrespect or honor for ill treatment and in 18 years I have violated those instructions plenty. But one day I came to understand that my wife’s gentle and quiet spirit is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4) and He would not tolerate me ignoring that forever and that all my prayers were silent in my disobedience. That, my friends, broke my heart when I understood that it broke God’s. Then there was no room for me any longer.
Take the “me” out of your marriage today. Allow God to see your obedience to His instruction as husbands and wives. Cry out “how long?” if you must but don’t waver. Things will change…oh yes, things will change
December 2, 2008
By Dorie Meendering
Associate Pastor, Women’s Ministry, Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
What a challenge to stay on course through all the emotion of life! It’s important to remember that we are here because God designed us and put us here. We were God’s idea in the first place and He has a special place for us!
However, I Peter 5:8 tell us we have an adversary trying to devour us. He will try to make you feel discouraged and want to give up. But you have the ability to persevere because you have a personal guide, the Holy Spirit, who leads you every step of the way. So, why would you give someone else more power over your life than the Holy Spirit? If some situation has made you want to give up, you are led by the situation and not by the Holy Spirit.
Outlasting the Devil
You can always outlast the devil’s attack by “doing” the Word. The “Word” is usually quite different than how you feel but, it works! And, if the ‘Word’ works, why not do it?
Rom. 12:21 – overcome evil with good
I Peter 3:9 – bless so you receive a blessing
Matt 6:14 & 15 – forgive so you are forgiven
Phil 4:6 & 7 – pray and be thankful with your request
Rom. 15:13 – believe in the God of all hope and receive peace and joy.
Matt. 5:44 & 45 – do good when there’s opportunity
Prov. 2:1-7 – seek God for Wisdom
You do not have to understand everything that happens. “Wondering” can keep you from believing. If you have a divided mind, the Bible says don’t plan on receiving from the Lord. (James 1:6)
There is a Way of Escape
Remember, there is a way of escape so you will be able to bear what you are going through. (I Cor. 10:13) However, several things can block your escape. Take time to examine how your life is lining up with the Word of God. One of the most common things blocking our victory is a lack of forgiveness, or holding on to offense. Since God has forgiven us we are able, and expected, to forgive others. Sometimes the hurt took only 5 minutes but we give it the right to hurt us 10 more years. Why would we be so stubborn and continue to punish ourselves by making the choice to disobey God and not forgive? You should love yourself more than that!
Attack with Tenacity and Perseverance
Recognize who is trying to pull you off course. (I Peter 5:8). If you don’t recognize your enemy, you won’t know how to fight and take your authority to use the power of Jesus’ name. God, in His wisdom, has already laid out the only battle plan that will work and it is found in Ephesians 6: 10-18. Use these tools and choose to be immovable in your faith. Stand firm and don’t let your faith become shipwrecked!
You can outlast the devil!