Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We need to love...

I find that my kids are pretty accepting of others. I love that about them and I love how it is so innocent. It seems like no matter how I acted, what I did, or how I came across sometimes, our kids love me unconditionally. I have learned to say I am sorry, I have learned to be more understanding of them. I maintain that their reality is not always and most times not mine. I find that as my wife and I go through this journey that some challenges are arising that we didn't see coming. But working together to grow our marriage and our love for each other is the consistent base for making something amazing.

OK so here is the scripture to which I am referring above. It is long today and I couldn't find just a few verses to some up what God has given me to blog about. So I apologize, but not for God's word but for the length of today's blog. I also want you to know I am using The Message as today's translation. I think it says it best and it is easier to understand. Romans can be confusing and deep at times.

Romans 14

Cultivating Good Relationships
1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
2-4For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
6-9What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
10-12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I'm convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
15-16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!
17-18God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
19-21So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.
22-23Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

I made the mistake of trying to cultivate my marriage how I wanted it. I tried manipulation, I tried taking paths that were not good, I tried words that I thought would change the situation in my favor. I would say things and do another. When God wasn't the center, all I did was push people... mainly my wife away. I like how Paul puts it about how we eat at the table. What is good for one person may not be good for the other. In my case what I thought was good for me, or what satan thought was good for me wasn't good for me or any one else for that matter. Some like meat, some like veggies, some like dairy products, and yet others like it all. But God knows us individually, and we have to be careful how that flows over to others around us.

Look at verses 13-23. Basically Paul is saying stop worrying about what others eat because you are going to impede not only on your spiritual progress but those who are at the table with you. Instead lets get a long and love each other. That is the mistake I made. I choose to be condescending, and very critical of others. Why? Because I was sinning. But also when others were critical of me and didn't show me the love of Christ that I needed, it just pushed me away. Verses 17-18 talks about how God can take something wrong and set it right. I talked a little bit about this yesterday. Folks we when allow God to love us and we are surrendered to him completely, that is when the love of Christ shows through us to others. That is when God uses us to cultivate those relationships that need fixing or need improvement or a marriage needs to be fixed, or a family issue needs to be resolved. In my case it was all about letting God have control of my life and proving to my wife that God's love was coming out through me to rruly love her like I should have all along. Folks it is the love of Christ that binds us together. Not conflict, not critical opinions, and not hard feelings.

I leave you with verses 19-23. I know it is up there as well.... but this should be the golden rule of our marriages, family, friendships, and our relationship with God.

19-21So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.
22-23Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

What to pray for? Pray for my wife and I. We are coming up against some things that are perfectly normal but we just need some prayerful support. Pray for our upcoming court date in March that God would work and his will would be done. Continue to pray for my oldest son because little victories are happening and satan is trying to put a stop to it.

Father thank you... I just want to thank you and praise you today for making your scripture so alive to me and reminding me of how your words whether you said them or said them through someone are so powerful in my life.