Valentine’s Day is Not About You

Valentines day

How did Valentine’s day become “I-need-someone-to-make-much-of-me day”?

The popular idea of love conjures up images of being served and doted on by others. So if you don’t have someone buying you flowers, sending you notes, and telling you you’re awesome on Valentine’s day, it then becomes an excuse to be angry and depressed.

Christian, your view of love should be markedly different than this. The way of love shown to us by Christ is self-sacrifice: considering the needs of others as more important than your own. For us, Valentine’s day should prompt acts of self-sacrifice not thoughts of who might puff us up with praise and compliments.

The Chick Flick Lie
If your ideas of love and romance have been primarily shaped by movies, then you are already at a disadvantage. Almost all romantic comedies portray love as worshiping, or making much of, another person. A man finds his true love, and she becomes the center of his universe as he spends all his energy seeking to make much of her. This is NOT love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10

Love is primarily realized in relationship with God, who though He alone deserves to be made much of, laid aside that right to die in our place and give us access to the Father. This is love.

If anything, for the Christian, a chick flick should prompt you to consider how to love other people. But unfortunately, the common response to these movies is 1. assuming we deserve the right to be treated this way (which we do not), and 2. to mope and complain when we don’t have this kind of fake love.

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Marriage Gone Wrong: when codependency highjacks a beautiful union

marriage gone wrong

After the series I recently wrote dealing with codependency in friendship, a few people presented a very natural follow up question: If codependency isn’t ok in friendships, then should it be ok in marriage?

NO.

Remember, I’m defining codependency as tying your emotional sense of well-being to another person. To say it another way, it is giving more weight and importance to a person than to God. Assuming this definition, then codependency is NEVER ok. Even in marriage.

Unfortunately, codependency in marriage is an assumed reality for many. The truth is, most of us struggle to believe God is enough for us, so we are continually looking to people to make us feel ok. Because of this, a marriage can become a place where we finally feel like being codependent is acceptable. We hope, like the movies have portrayed, that we can bank on this person to fill the deepest parts of our longings and be the one on whom our general sense of wellbeing rests.

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Closet Pharisee

“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” ~Jesus, Matthew 23: 32-33

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You’d think these words were said to a murderer, or a sexually perverted or promiscuous person, or a thief.  But no, Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of the day.

Wait, did you catch that… Jesus’s harshest words of judgment are to the religious leaders of the day.  This should cause the ears of this religious church girl to perk up and listen.  Why such harsh words?  And what did these religious people do to merit such severe judgment?  And how do I make sure I am truly following Jesus and not the path of these anti-Jesus religious people?  These are questions I should have asked in my early years of following Jesus.

Even though I fell in love with Jesus early in my life, there grew an inward bent of my soul, slowly and stealthily, that was hardly noticeable.  I’m not sure exactly how it started.  Maybe it was the subconscious joy I found in the acclaim of people in being such a “good Christian.”  Maybe I couldn’t help but notice how much “better” I was than my peers.  Somewhere along the way, I began to delight in my good works more than the work of Jesus.  My heart started to reflect that of a Pharisee more than Jesus.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

No matter how it started, a root of pride began to grow in my heart and for years it was watered with the praise of others and my own comparison to my peers.  I became really good at “being a Christian.” In the morning, I trusted my ability to have a good quiet time and memorize scripture.  In the evening, I found peace in my “maturity” to worship with hands raised.  I no longer needed Jesus as my savior.  My good deeds had become my functional savior.  I knew the right words to say, the right things to do to look like the best Jesus-follower out there.

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The Myth of “The One”

the myth of the one

 

“I think he might be the one!”

Aren’t we all waiting to get to that moment in a relationship? There is this concept that has been propagated through an abundance of romantic comedies as well as our American Christian culture that we all have one perfect soul mate out there somewhere. But I want to propose that this idea of “the one” is a myth and is an idea that is actually bringing more harm than good to those who embrace it.

First, let’s talk about what I mean when I say “The One.” There is a right way and a wrong way to view this. As Christians, we know that Psalm 139 says “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Because God is aware of what will happen throughout the course of our life, he obviously knows who we will marry if we get married. This is 100% Biblical and a correct way to think. If this is how you see “the one,” then this article is not for you.

But there is another, more common way that “the one” is viewed that is not Biblical. It defines “the one” as the singular other human on the planet who can complete you, satisfy all your longings, and the only one with whom you can have a successful marriage. We see this concept in movies like Jerry Maguire (the famous “You complete me” line), and Twilight (“You’re my only reason to stay alive.”). This concept of “the one” is what I am addressing in this article. The idea of hoping in one person to complete and satisfy you might not seem that bad on the surface, but underneath it results in numerous problems in marriage and singleness.

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The Influence of a Woman

Before I get into my topic for today, I wanted to give you a brief update on my blog.  Because I think it is incredibly important to be purposeful in everything you do, I recently wrote about the purpose of my writing and this blog.  You can check it out here: “No Apologies.”  In that post I had asked for any topic suggestions or questions that you had for me.  After reading through the responses I received, I’ve decided to write about some of those things in the coming weeks.  Here are some posts to be on the look out for:

  • Becoming a Jesus-Follower: My testimony
  • A Day in the Life: My life being married to a recording artist
  • The Sabbath: The forgotten command
  • Sharing Your Faith: How to live a lifestyle of evangelism
  • How to Encourage Others Effectively
  • Dating & Marriage: The purpose of romance in the believer’s life
For today however, I wanted to write about the powerful influence of a woman.  I am currently reading through 2 Chronicles and am greatly enjoying it!  I have learned so much through studying the history of the Israelite people in Kings and Chronicles and strongly encourage you to read straight through these books if you never have. (This is actually my first time to read straight through them!)

 

Chapter 21 describes the reign of King Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, grandson of Asa.  Jehoshaphat, though not perfect in his reign, was known for how he sought after the Lord.  He was humble and trusted in God in moments of adversity.  And Asa, his grandfather was also a man who sought after the Lord and trusted God in hard times.  With such a rich spiritual heritage, I expected Jehoram to follow in their footsteps.  But to my surprise, this chapter starts out with Jehoram killing all his brothers as soon as he became king.  It doesn’t even give a reason why he did this.  He also led the people of Judah astray by enticing them to worship other gods (v. 11).  So what happened to Jehoram?  How did a guy with such a great start to life turn out so bad?

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A Greater End

Twelve-twenty a.m. is probably way too late to be starting a blog, but I can’t seem to get this topic off my mind and have been aching to write about it for a couple months now. (Thank you faithful blog readers for your patience by the way.) So give me grace as I work through this topic in an exhausted yet caffeinated state of mind.

Jimmy & Lively

I love being a wife and a mother. Investing in a family is what I have always wanted to do with my life. I consider it my primary ministry to serve these two wonderful blessings pictured to the left. I am constantly researching ways I can improve in these roles, whether it be learning how to help my teething daughter or how to create a more welcoming atmosphere for my husband to come home to. This is my job and I love it! But to what end am I seeking excellence in these roles? Is it because that’s what I’m supposed to do? Or because Scripture calls me to consider others as better than myself? I know that God values my roles as wife and mother, so maybe that is why I am supposed to strive to be good at them. Maybe it’s simply because I love my husband and daughter and serving them is a natural response.


Though all those things are good reasons, there is still a greater end than this. It is simply and decidedly the GLORY OF GOD. The end goal of excellence as a wife and a mom should be THE GLORY OF GOD. I know this sounds like your classic Sunday school answer, but don’t check out. What does it really mean to do something for the glory of God? The Word glory literally means “heavy” or “weighty” in the Hebrew. To bring God glory means to give weight to Him, in a positive sense. If something is weighty, you don’t take it lightly. Rather, you have to seriously consider it and deal with it. In the same way, by bringing God glory, I give weight to Him and cause others to take Him more seriously and to have a more positive view of Him than they did before. This is bringing glory to God. And this is the reason I should seek to be excellent in my roles as a wife and a mother.

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On the road again…

View from the stage

It’s 7:30am on a Sunday morning and I have already left Massachusetts, driven into Connecticut, flown into Washington DC, and am now on a flight to Houston. You know you’re on the road with the band when you have already been in 3 states before 8am. Last night was the first of many concerts Jimmy will be doing with Acquire the Fire, a conference whose purpose is to ignite a movement of students who are passionate about Jesus. With multiple bands, speakers, drama teams, hundreds of staff and volunteers and thousands of students, it was quite an event! I am grateful that I was able to join the guys for this concert in Amherst, MA.


A lot of you know that I used to travel with Jimmy all the time. Our first 2 1/2 years of marriage I was Jimmy’s road manager, merchandise manager, violinist, and for a time, his general manager. I loved this time we had to travel together and will never forget the great memories we have from those early years. But when the opportunity arose for me to take a full time position in our church’s high school ministry, I couldn’t pass it up. Now, joining my husband on his worldwide travels is a much more infrequent occurrence.

Blake, Tim, Jimmy, Josh, Chasen

 

One of my favorite things about being on the road is seeing Jimmy’s ministry and calling in action. I love being able to pray for him during his set and hear the excellence of his music in action. He is passionate about the Gospel and it is evident in every song and every word. Another joy of traveling is just being around the guys again. Through years of traveling together in vans, buses, and planes, Jimmy’s band have become like brothers to me. All of them are such godly men of character and integrity and are an absolute joy to be around. Though you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you how ridiculously goofy they are when they get together. It always keeps me laughing! (By the way, you can follow Jimmy’s band on twitter by clicking on their names: Tim, Josh, Chase, Blake. I think they’ll keep you laughing too.)



As I was preparing to leave for this weekend, I began thinking about what it means to be a help to my husband on the road. In the past, running merchandise and road managing was the way that I helped. Now that I don’t have any of those same responsibilities, I tend to feel helpless and out of place when I’m on the road with him. In past shows, I have been a distracting and attention-demanding wife due to my lack of purpose. Not wanting to carry on that inappropriate habit, I began thinking through my role as Jimmy’s wife a few days before leaving with the purpose to be a bit more proactive in my approach to this weekend.

During the concert

 


When I think about what it means to be a wife, the word ezer comes to my mind. This is the Hebrew word used of Eve in Genesis 2 when she is described as Adam’s helper, or help-meet. A very dynamic and telling word, ezer is used only twice of woman and is most commonly used of describe God. “I life my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the Maker of Heaven and earth.”(Psalm 121:1-2) “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Both of these verses use ezer in the Hebrew. As I have studied every other place in the Old Testament where this word is used, amazing new meaning arises for what it means to be a helper to your husband. The use of this word in the scriptures brings to life the sense of protection, strengthening, and life-giving encouragement it was meant to convey. To be a help to your husband is so much more than simply housework. It is the vital role of strengthening and enabling him to do what God has called him to do while becoming a place of encouragement and protection for him when that calling gets rough. It is a great honor and privilege to play such a critical and indispensible role.


As I contemplated these things in preparation for this trip, I began to ask myself: how can I be this kind of help to my husband when I have no actual role to play on the road? I started by eliminating what I should not do. I am not helping when I am demanding his attention throughout the course of the day. (Yes, I tend to think Jimmy should always be paying attention to me when I’m with him. I mean, I am his wife right?) Though they might not look like anyone else’s, Jimmy’s workdays consist of sound-checks, twitter postings, band meetings, prayer time, concerts, autograph signings, and meet-and-greets. And when I become a distraction to these things, I cease being helpful. So this trip, I brought a few things to work on to alleviate my tendency to need to be the center of attention.


A second way I can practically be an ezer is by simply being a servant to Jimmy and his band. It may be getting extra waters, helping sell merchandise, filming the show, or simply holding open doors.


Lastly, being a help to my husband is sometimes simply being available to him. Whether he needs encouragement, good company to eat dinner with, someone to pray with or bounce ideas off of, or just a listening ear, I long to be for him a place of refuge and comfort.


All in all, I felt like this trip was a successful one in those respects. I effectively stayed out of the way to let the guys do their thing, while serving and providing help to them as needed. I love the privilege I have in being an ezer to my husband! I believe this is my highest calling and most important ministry, second only to growing my relationship with God. I was created to play a vital role in my husband’s ministry and calling and there is such joy in doing just that.



More thoughts on this weekend coming soon…