Individual Rights or Responsibility
Is anyone telling you the things you need to hear? It’s called accountability! In Russia, the best man in a wedding must sign the marriage register guaranteeing the union will last at least six months, or he’ll pay a fine. In boating, you are responsible for your own wake. Sadly, we live in a culture that focuses more on “individual rights” than “individual responsibility.” A young man was interviewed for a job as an usher in a movie theater. The manager asked him, “What would you do in case of a fire?” He replied, “Aw, don’t worry about me. I’ll get out all right!” HA! The Goal in life is NOT to take care of your self. The Golden Rule isn’t: “He who has the gold rules!” It’s: “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31, NLT)
Who’s Holding Your Rope?
There’s a true story about a boy who fell into a rushing river. A rope was brought, and the strongest swimmer in the village volunteered to rescue him. Tying one end of the rope around his waist, he threw the other end to the crowd and jumped into the river. When he grabbed the boy the crowded cheered. “Pull in the rope!” he shouted over the swirling waters. The villagers looked around. “Who’s holding the rope?” No one was holding the rope. In the excitement of watching the rescue the crowd had let the end of the rope slip into the water. Powerless to help, they watched both drown because no one had made it his business to hold the rope. Who’s holding the rope in your life, and whose life is in your hands?
Until I asked others to pray for me, I felt vulnerable . . . unsafe. I needed to be honest with those closest to me. I now believe the day I cease being willing to share my faults is the day my abundant Christian life is over. James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “Confess your sins (your faults) to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Being accountable to someone else is a matter of life and death. God knows we each have blind spots—things others see that we cannot. He knows we desperately need safe people to help us along the way. But if we refuse to let others in, one day we may fall down and be unable to get up.
What God Thinks About You
When you think about what God thinks of you, does it make you sad or glad? Your answer will define your whole life. Do you make God smile or frown? It’s not just possible to know the answer to this question, it is essential that we do. I’m convinced God makes a distinction between who I am to Him, and my sin. The sinful actions that distort my true identity do not and cannot separate me from His love. Frankly, there’s nothing I could ever do to make God love me more or less than He already does. Therefore, my feeling better about myself should never be based upon my performance. Yes, at times, I still sin! But, because Jesus died for my sins, my God-intended identity is not that of a sinner, but as a son.
When a flock of crows invades a field of corn, the birds customarily station two sentries in a nearby tree to keep watch and warn the rest of any danger. Once, there were two people who succeeded in sneaking up on a flock of crows and scaring them before the sentries had given warning. The birds burst into flight, immediately attacking and killing the two sentries who had failed to warn the flock. Only then did they fly away. Each of us is responsible for others, and to others. It is the life saving check and balance we each need. We are our brother’s keeper! So the following questions can rightly be asked, “Who is watching out for you?” and “Who has God placed in your life to watch over?”
God is Faithful
When people were asked what quality they would most desire in a spouse, and given the options of loving, affectionate, giving and faithful, more people chose faithful than all other options combined. Because faithfulness is the glue that keeps relationships together, it is likewise the first quality we want to see in others, and even God. The psalmist wrote, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations…” (Psalm 119:90, NKJV), and “Trust in the LORD…feed on His faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3, NKJV) Faithfulness literally means firmness. It speaks of security, moral fidelity, stability, steadiness and truthfulness. As trust is the attitude we most need when relating to an invisible God, knowing He is faithful will keep us secure in Him no matter what struggles we are facing. Remain confident in God’s faithfulness every day.
Miracle in a Blizzard
One of the greatest miracles I ever experienced took place as a new Christian. I was driving across the northern U.S. in the middle of December with a young couple in a tiny, compact car. The wife was eight months pregnant. One night, we found ourselves in a blinding blizzard in a remote part of Wyoming. The cold and wind was so severe it stalled our car. Thinking we’d pulled off the highway sufficiently, the husband and I got out, leaving the expectant mom in the back seat. All of a sudden, with no driver, the car rolled forward, further off the road, about ten feet. Immediately, an 18-wheeler came barreling past us, missing the car by inches. We all knew God had saved our lives. Can you remember a time He did the same for you?
Being a Christian is a marathon! Those who finish have one thing in common. They remained faithful! But, since we are all at times faithless, the one Person who can keep us faithful is the only One who truly is faithful…God Himself. The Bible says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NKJV) He cannot deny who He created us to be. Our unfaithfulness can’t dissolve God’s faithfulness. His faithfulness continually draws us back to Him. If we’ll let it, God’s faithfulness is designed to even transform us. It is one of the benefits of knowing Him. The fruit of God’s Spirit is faithfulness (Galatians 5:23). What does faithfulness to God look like? I believe it’s when we are committed to doing nothing without Him; then He can trust us to do His will.
A three-year old daughter used a whole roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and so her father got really upset with her. But the next morning, in spite of his reaction, she brought him the present she’d been wrapping. He was so embarrassed for overreacting. But his anger flared up again when he opened the box and found there was nothing inside. He scowled, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a gift, there’s supposed to be something in it?” The little girl was crushed. With tears in her eyes she said, “Oh Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you Daddy!” The father was so embarrassed. He put his arms around her and begged her forgiveness. He then kept the gold box by his bed for years.
Honoring Your Wife
When I had only been married for a few years a Christian leader challenged me for not listening to my wife. He said to her in my presence, “Your husband, because of his strength, doesn’t listen to you. But God’s going to dig in his ear, because He’s given you great wisdom.” It was a huge wake-up call! I’d been overpowering my wife with words our entire marriage. I didn’t realize that godly wives are given an intuitive sensitivity, and as husbands we need to draw from this reservoir of God-given wisdom. In Proverbs, when God speaks of wisdom, it is in a feminine context. He says, “She/wisdom calls aloud…” (Proverbs 1:20) Likewise, the Apostle Peter wrote: “Husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding.” (1Peter 3:7, NLT)
Speaking To Men
I once received a note from an anonymous man complaining about my Valentine’s weekend message. He wanted me to exhort the woman as strongly as I did the men. I didn’t follow his advice. It’s time for men to be men, and that means becoming the leaders of our families. It’s time for single men to become leaders of the women around them. Leading by example: that means laying down your life for your bride…your sister, just as Christ laid down His life for the Church. I’ve counseled enough men who refuse to lay down their lives for their brides. We live in a culture that encourages men to be predators and not protectors, to use woman and not to honor them and treat them with respect. Men, lay down your lives for the beautiful women around you!
Marriage Is An Adventure
What every wife wished her husband knew: men are pursuers. Women are responders. Men are called to be the initiator. Women are made to respond. A wife wants to be pursued as valuable, as a priority. She has no interest in being part of a boring life! She longs for an adventure to share in, to be cherished and fought for. A wife feels devalued when no one’s fighting for her heart. But she wants to be more than noticed…she wants to be wanted. She doesn’t want to be the adventure. She wants to partner in an adventure, and not one that is past tense. Men, your wife wants you to lead spiritually. She gets frustrated when she has to lead you. Its time for you to be the priest of your home!