Posts tagged marriage memo

My cure for Easter apathy



Remembering what God has done in my life helped me to recapture my awe of the meaning of Easter.

This is Easter week, a time for celebrating the glory of God and the fulfillment of His plan for salvation. The ultimate sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.

I know my heart should soar as I contemplate the death of Christ and His resurrection. But sometimes I feel strangely apathetic.

familylife stepping up dennis rainey - easter apathy

I find myself at a curious stage in life. I’ve walked with Christ for many years, and the sameness of weekly and yearly routines can lead to a creeping indifference. Sometimes every sermon, every prayer, every song seems like a rehash of what I’ve heard before. Been there, done that.

Last week I was in the midst of one of these moods when an odd thought came to me:

Where would you be today if Christ had not come into your life?

And immediately I knew the answer.

I would be lost.

Remembering who I am

For the first time in many years, I opened up the journal I kept in college. I started it during my freshman year to practice writing and to record my thoughts about my experiences as a student at the University of Missouri.  Reading the journal today is like going back in time; I see a portrait of young man who enjoyed his college years yet also struggled with choices and relationships and setbacks.

In the spring of my freshman year I wrote:

The last few days I’ve been coming to some realizations about myself, especially about myself and religion. … I’ve gained a basic belief in God, but it doesn’t mean that much to me. And I want it to. It seems like I’ve been getting farther and farther away from God.

I had grown up going to church, but little had sunk in. I didn’t doubt the existence of God, but I had no idea of how to relate to Him. To me, the Bible was merely a collection of interesting stories, and I had no idea whether Jesus really was the Son of God.

The young man I see in these journal entries had no real beliefs or convictions, no anchor, no direction or sense of purpose.  A year later I went through a brief time of depression, and my only remedy was to increase my training for an intramural half-mile race. In the middle of that period, however, I heard a speaker named Josh McDowell present a message on campus about evidence for the truth of the Scriptures. That sparked some reading of my own, and I acknowledged that the Bible was not only a trustworthy historical document but also the revealed Word of God.

I once was lost but now I’m found

Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I understood the gospel for the first time. I recognized my sin and rebellion against God, and I realized why Christ died for those sins.  In my journal I wrote:

I finally asked Jesus Christ to enter into my heart and guide my life, and I thanked Him for forgiving my sins. There was no bright light flashing, no loud voice proclaiming that I was saved, or anything like that. No great changes have been made in the last two days. But changes will be made …

It is probably the most important decision I will ever make.

At the time I thought I had found God. The truth is He found me.  I suppose that’s why my favorite line in the hymn “Amazing Grace” is, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

The cure

So where would I be without Christ in my life?  I’d be on a different road. My heart tells me that, no matter what happened in my professional life, I would have grown into a very unhappy man, drifting with the currents of our culture with no anchor for my soul.

I can’t imagine how I would have maintained a solid marriage. I’m not saying it would have been impossible; I just know my heart, and I know I would have made some destructive choices.

For me, the cure for the sickness of Easter Apathy is remembering what He has done in my life. God knew I once was lost and unable to find Him by my own effort, and He took the initiative to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin. He made me a new creature, and gave me a new life. Everything I enjoy today — my ministry, my marriage, my children — is a gift from Him.

That’s the miracle of Easter.

 

This article originally appeared in the March 29, 2010 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.  To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here.  For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.

10 keys to make your marriage work: advice from some experts



making your marriage last

There are a lot of stats //thrown around when it comes to marriage.  Quite honestly, we may have heard them so often that we’ve kind of become numb to them.  And you can be sure, as real as they are, we never think that we will be one of the casualties when we are standing in front of friends and family sharing those special vows.  We don’t say “I Do” thinking “It won’t (last).”

Being bombarded with numbers can make us numb to their meaning, but it’s important that we keep them in front of us.  It’s like telling people that smoke about the hazards that await them if they decide to continue.  At least they’ve been informed.  Here are the 2009 statistics from the Center for Disease Control, which houses the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • Number of marriages: 2,077,000
  • Marriage rate: 6.8 per 1,000 total population
  • Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 population (44 reporting states, plus Washington, D.C.)

Here’s the key: 3.4 divorces versus 6.8 marriages.  I was pretty good at math growing up, but even those who are math-challenged see that’s a pretty high divorce rate.  How are we doing?  If no one thinks they’ll be a casualty when they wed, but millions become one year after year, what happens between “I do” and “It’s over”?

What can you do to make your marriage last?  Perhaps we would be wise to do what experts at identifying counterfeit bills do — study the real bills to identify the bad.

In an article previously published in FamilyLife’s Marriage Memo newsletter, couples who had been married 50 years or longer shared their successes and how they beat the odds of becoming a casualty to divorce.  Here are the 10 things that could help you to make your marriage work and last a lifetime:

1. You need a Savior. “We didn’t realize that it was two sinners who married each other. Two very sinful people who needed a Savior.” (Mona Sproull)

2. Stay committed to one another. “Love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment … no matter what, I will stand by your mom.” (Charles Powell)

3. Pray with your spouse.  “Rather than each of us having ourselves at the center of our thinking, there enters a willingness to let God be at the center.” (Jerry Bell)

4. Forgive one another. “All I could think of was if God could forgive me of all of my sins, who am I not to forgive my husband.” (Joan Fortin)

5. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect husband or perfect wife.  “Christ has given me understanding and lets me know that everyone does something wrong sometimes.” (Mattie Foy)

6. Have faith that God knows what He is doing.“A lot of people would ask me, ‘No children yet?’ And I’d say, ‘No, but I am sure having a good time telling you how to raise yours.’” (Jodie May)

7. Trust that God gives grace and direction as we trust Him. “How can a parent trust the Lord when they lose a child? It takes a lot of faith.” (Richard Long)

8. You’ll need to make compromises.“You can’t always have your way. I think that marriage should be a give and take situation.” (Nelda Davenport)

9. Be objective and take the emotion out of problem solving. “If I say something to you that’s disrespectful to you and I don’t really know it, you need to trust my heart.” (Mona Sproull)

10. Love your spouse. “The love comes from God.” (Mattie Foy)

Any of those just hit you right between the eyes?  See any patterns?  There’s probably nothing in this list that you don’t know or haven’t heard before. But when men and women who have been married more than 50 years share very similar reasons about what makes marriage work, you tend to take notes and pay attention.  Do you want your marriage to work for the long haul?  Then sit down and determine which one of these you (not your spouse) need to consider as your next step to solidifying your marriage? Now is never too late.

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