Written in Iron Ink: Tending Marriage

Recently I was reading a book that cited this staggering statistic:

Couples, on average, spend a total of twelve minutes a week in meaningful conversation.

12 minutes

There aren’t enough emojis with bulging surprise eyes in the world for me to put in the space after I share this stat.

12 minutes may be skewed and you may be different.

However, it’s time to care about marriage, not just our own, but one another’s.

For too long we have existed on privacy island and it’s not working. We need one another. Your marriage, your neighbor’s marriage, my marriage needs you to care. We need accountability, encouragement, reality checks, free babysitting, someone to laugh with, someone to tell you when it’s time to apologize, someone to hug you and send you back in.

We are our best married selves, when we tend in this life.

We were meant to tend our own marriages but also to tend one another’s.

Our God tends to us. He came to earth for us. His Spirit resides in us. The Word is open to us. A God who tends does not leave us to our own devices. He gives us unique community far and wide to be real with, to open our hearts to, and to cheer on. Because our God tends, we can tend.

In today’s podcast, join in a fun and feisty chat about tending, with myself and Leah Heffner from Life Around the Coffee Cup. She doesn’t have easy answers, which I think we all appreciate. She does have loads of usable ideas and resources to keep the conversation going.

This podcast is more than twelve minutes…because we can spend more than twelve minutes on marriage today. We can do it!

There isn’t a checklist to relationships.

There isn’t an instruction manual for our spouse.

There isn’t a do-it-yourself guide for helping your friend love when it’s hard and when to tighten the boundary lines.

There is Jesus. There is the Word. There is the Church, community, and connection.

Let us tend…together.

Share ideas! How do you tend in your marriage or help tend a marriage around you?

PS- the book I was reading was What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

 

Write What You Have Seen (My Redeemer Lives 8:1)

I pretty much live to hear the Word at this point.

Life has thrown enough yuck in my general direction that I just don’t know how anyone lives without it. I lap it up, sloppily, desperately, like my labradoodle trying to drink from his water bowl in the middle of July.

I’m so thirsty. It’s never enough in one sense, while it’s still completely and utterly enough in another sense. Jesus’ love and forgiveness, the removal of my shame that I find in His death and resurrection, the value He places on me in everything He does, are absolutely my fuel for this life, for this day.

And while I’m thirsty, He quenches.

While I’m imperfect, His strength burns purpose into my weaknesses.

While I and all that is around me is mortal, His immortality is the cloak that warms my soul to find hope, to share Hope each day.

Thank you, dear Job, for taking one for the team and constantly reminding us in God’s Iron Ink of Biblical Truth:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27)

If you have learned anything from this study, I pray that it is this:

We live in the Resurrection.

Resurrection overflows life into our lives in the same way that Christ’s sacrifice brings absolute forgiveness into our days. Without the resurrection, so much of life feels like heavy shame. It may be called Good Friday, but the weight we carry for putting Jesus on the tree is far too heavy to ever feel good. We weren’t meant to live there, friends.

Resurrection dawns.

Easter morning’s Resurrection sometimes feels far off, but it works in everything. It changes everything about how we live, think, and believe!

Today looks different, heart-faintingly different, because Jesus rose.

Sometimes this difference is obvious:

Forgiveness and grace spoken aloud in our homes when we really don’t feel like giving it.

Giving and stewarding a little more time and energy from what would be an empty cup without Resurrection Joy.

Breaking bread and sharing space with people we may not have otherwise because Jesus is alive among us.

Sometimes the difference is not so obvious, and so we need constant reminders. As we leave this study, let us remind one another. I’d like to do this in two ways.

First, in the comments, share with us what you will walk away with from this study.

Were there any surprises for you? Any resurrections you were unfamiliar with?

Where have you seen resurrection in your own life in the last weeks, and over the course of your walk with God?

What one lesson, one truth, one piece of hope over everything else and all my zillion words will stick with you?

Next, I want to share one last passage of resurrection with you. One not-so-final glimpse of our Resurrected Savior in Revelation 1:4-7 –

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, the Resurrected One, Savior, Restorer.

He’s also our Faithful Witness, the Faithful Witness. He witnesses to us what He’s done and Who He is in His Word. When we hear it, we are renewed because in that place our story connects with His Story, giving our story meaning, and firm footing. This place of hope and life, that’s His story working out in our story. What was John’s response to Jesus’ witness? He wrote His story down. He shared his story with Christ as the centerpiece.

So let us keep sharing the resurrection, connecting to the resurrection, and in and with that…sharing our stories alongside His story.

To make this a little more concrete for you, a little easier to share also, I created a resurrection Scripture writing plan. You can download the thirty-day plan from the link below and print it or screen shot it to use to keep His story close to you, to cement it in your heart by simply reading or reading and writing the passage, or by giving to a friend, sharing at Sunday School, or creating a challenge in your group.

Write His Story: Resurrection Reading and Writing Plan

As you read or write the story of resurrection within the Scriptures, simply ask yourselves these questions:

How can we begin to tell our story, really tell it, to God?

How can we make our homes open places to tell our stories?

How can we make our churches open places to tell our stories?

Keep it simple and just ask the questions before God, around His Word, and let Him answer. He will tell His story in you, in your home, and in your community…and what a story it is! Salvation, grace, restoration, heartache, waiting, failure, fear, death, life, darkness, light, glory, healing, and so much more yet to be told.

Savior – You have written Your story. Continue to write Your story in each of our lives. We tear down all that is not in You, all that doesn’t point to You. We lay all those things before You…Resurrect it, Lord. Resurrect.

Thank you for studying with me. I hope you’ll join me for our Fall Study…

(drumroll!)

This study is especially meant to reach those on the fringes of a relationship with God. Those who may know about Jesus but don’t know where to put Him. Those who know there is something better, something more in this life, but don’t know what it is. For others of you, this study will open the door to defining what real relationship looks like, what our hungry hearts truly long for, and why we so often feel disappointed with our relationships one moment and ecstatic about them the next. It will introduce you to a Hope that brings better and more to our relationships with those around us and to a God who loves brave all the way – brave enough to sacrifice everything for you in Faith, Hope, and Love.

In the meantime, as always, look for more articles, podcasts, resources, and encouragement every week at ilovemyshepherd.com.

 

So Good, I Think I’ll Keep It to Myself (My Redeemer Lives 7:4)

When you live in a large family, you hide your chocolate.

You hide your Doritos, your raspberries, your Oreos, and maybe even your steak too, but you definitely hide your chocolate, because it matters most.

What do you love enough to hide…mostly from your children, maybe from your roommate, maybe from your labradoodle? What do you tuck away because it’s so good you really want to save it for yourself?

Sometimes I wonder if the Gospel is just so good, that we tend toward the same line of thinking.

It’s so good, we think we might just save it for ourselves.

I’m not saying that we are consciously thinking, “Self, don’t share the Gospel,” but I wonder how much of the devil’s tiny mind tricks play on our subconscious. There are probably many and various things keeping us from sharing Truth in Love with our neighbor, but maybe there’s even a tiny, tiny piece of us deep down that wonders if we share it, whether there will be enough. Will the grace run out? Will the specialness that God sees me with run out? And the more transparent questions —

What if I take it and do it wrong? What if I mess up the Gospel?

Will I run out of all that is good in me, if I open myself up to another person?

In Mark 16:5-8 we find out that the women who went to take spices to Jesus’ tomb might have had similar feelings

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

They were afraid. Fear does crazy things to us. We aren’t going to tackle the concept of fear today; instead, we’re going to look at how God treats fear, where He is in all our questions and our concerns of “not enough,” and try to move past holding all the good stuff close to us and instead spreading it out like wildfire.

Do you think the Gospel writer Mark put Mark 16:8 in there to shame the women, to let them know how they had failed? I don’t see that in keeping with the rest of the book and the honor brought to these women by sharing their stories of that first Easter morning at the empty tomb. Rather, the Holy Spirit decides what details are penned through the personalities and the particular witness of each Gospel writer.

What does 2 Peter 1:16-21 teach us about every word written in pages of those Gospel books and the rest of God’s Word?

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Word is God’s, first and foremost. Notice 2 Peter 1:19 above again:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

That Word is a Lamp in dark places.

Those dark places are sometimes someone else’s, but they are also our own.

Christ’s resurrection shines light into the darkness of our hearts and sees that we also have fear. I think that at least part of the reason God shares the full story with us of these women hiding the Gospel, keeping their mouths closed, trembling in shock, is because He wants us to know that He knows.

He knows our lack. He knows the Gospel can be intimidating at times—so big, so awesome that we don’t quite know what to do with it.

He knows that resurrection is intimately connected to death and that can make it uncomfortable.

He knows that we wonder about failing ourselves, our loved ones, our world.

He knows that sometimes things seem so far from restoration that we think it’s maybe not even worth trying.

He knows that sometimes the night seems longer than it should be and sometimes the plan seems confusing and not what we expected.

He knows that we are waiting and we have questions.

He knows we need to eat, sleep, and breathe Hope from sun up to sun down and we simply cannot live without it.

He knows that we are made to witness, but we need one another as witnesses, for strength, for perseverance, for insight, and for confidence.

He knows each of us. He died and rose for each of us.
That fact alone makes it uncontainable.

Just like the women at the tomb, we eventually find our fears and our concerns filled with faith. Sit quiet for just a moment and read Mark 16:6. Breathe in and breathe out the words to yourself aloud.

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

This is resurrection, my friend. This is the Word at work in you. Let it ease into your pores and bring new life to your soul.

He is risen.

That’s all you need share. Those three words. Next time your friend shares a struggle, take their hand and tell them, “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He takes dead things, decaying things, and brings life.” The next time you see something joyous, say it — “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He brings all the life, everywhere He goes.” Pray it over one another when the resurrection is hard to see and when the resurrection comes and transforms hearts and lives.

We will rise with Him, when He comes back for us.

One day, not too far and not too long away, we’ll say, “He is risen!” to His beautiful, glorious, uncontainable face. We will have hands to touch Him, heads to lean against Him, and mouths to let out peals of laughter with Him. Won’t that be the day? Oh, my.

In the meantime…He is risen is our anthem. He is risen is our banner. He is risen is our war cry. He is risen is our cheer.

Don’t stop looking for resurrection now, friends. When you see it, simply say —

He is risen, just like He said.

Get the Scripture card here:

Don’t miss a bonus final study post next Monday! There will be a special surprise and an announcement to reveal the I Love My Shepherd Fall Online Study.

 

 

Today we celebrate the Resurrection! Tomorrow we Rest in the Resurrection. What special thing can you do to remember the Resurrection today or this weekend with family and friends? I know we just had Easter, but what if we surprised the world with a little Easter everyday? 😉