Tag Archives: marriage

One thing remains

Marion and I were married in 1976. Our wedding – which we planned ourselves – was full of prophetic themes although I barely understood them at the time.

Like many church weddings, our wedding featured these well-known verses from 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

Love never fails …
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

As a young man, I thought I knew so much. I realize now that I understood almost nothing of the ways of God. But I did know that I wanted to follow Jesus, and I knew that his way was a way of love.

Within a few years, Marion and I were raising children while seeking to pastor a flock. Although I loved my children dearly, I was a very imperfect Dad and an equally imperfect husband. I was a broken man seeking to teach others the ways of wholeness. This paradox brought many pressures into my life. But in the midst of all these pressures, I was learning to seek the Lord.

In April 1987 I surrendered my life to Jesus and Marion and I were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Joe was five years old at the time. It was a fresh start for us. We were learning to live life with Jesus instead of following him from a distance.

One thing was established in our marriage from those early years of walking with Jesus. Marion and I always prayed for our children. We so wanted them to know that Jesus was alive and that His promises were real. We wanted them to learn and walk in the ways of God’s love.

Fast forward twenty-eight years to April 2015. Marion and I had lived in seven different houses in those twenty-eight years. We had served in a wide range of different types of churches, and had experimented with many different aspects of ministry, business and teaching. We had learned to know Jesus as our Beloved and our friend. Despite our very imperfect parenting, somehow our children had done well. Our family had grown up, our three sons were married and were making their way in life, and our baby girl – now almost 23 years old – was looking forward to her wedding day.

Then the unthinkable happened. Our daughter-in-law Carmen, who had brought so much joy into our son Joe’s life, and had blessed us with a beautiful granddaughter, visited the emergency room of a local hospital because she wasn’t feeling well. Little did she know that her small intestine had become pinched and was dying. She became the victim of a misdiagnosis that cost her her small intestine and almost cost her her life. You can read her story here. Suddenly, this young, healthy, happy couple with the three month old baby entered a nightmare scenario that threatened to consume them.

In the midst of all this, we were also trying to prepare for a wedding.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

We cried out to God; we were humbled; we were overwhelmed with gratitude as hundreds of people rallied to provide practical help and pray for Joe and Carmen; our own family was knit more closely together; we saw the best and the worst of Canada’s medical system; we saw the Body of Christ at work.

Today, ten weeks later, many prayers have been answered, though some still await their fulfillment. After two critical surgeries, Carmen has been back home for a month, and is doing well. Bethany and Dunovan are married and enjoying their honeymoon.

The wedding was wonderful. Simeon and Heather and their girls were able to join us from Kansas City. We had some great family times. I got to walk my daughter down the aisle, and speak words of blessing over her and her new husband. Joe, Carmen and Maddie were able to be with us and join the celebration.

We are very grateful, but also more aware than ever of our own weakness and our dependency on the Mighty One.

Our life in this age continues. Simeon and Heather are back home with their girls, and Reuben and Jess are in France. Joe and Carmen are at the cottage with Maddie, Bethany and Dunovan are honeymooning in Nova Scotia. I am back at work, and serving in the House of Prayer. But even as I enjoy each day, my children are never far from my thoughts, and most of my thoughts towards them are prayers. I am more deeply aware than ever before that our lives are in the hands of a merciful God. I am looking for a City that is to come, and I long for the day of the King’s appearing.

When you set out to raise a family, you truly have no idea what life will bring your way.

Many things were important to me when I was a young Dad all those years ago. There were so many things that I wanted to teach my children, so many things I wanted for them.

Of all those hopes, dreams and visions, some have changed, some never came about, but as the song says, One thing remains. This one thing will remain for all eternity. Without it, I have nothing of any lasting value. With it, I have everything I need.

Jesus loves me, this I know.



A tale of two young women

Today is my little girl’s birthday. Only, she’s not a little girl any more. She’s a young woman, a year away from university graduation. Two days ago a young man asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

Bethany’s birthday is one day before mine, and I remember thinking when she was born that by the time she was grown up I would be sixty. At the time, that seemed an impossibly long time in the future, but here we are. I turn sixty-one tomorrow, and Bethany is now twenty-two years old, and looking forward to a wedding.

The engagement was not a surprise; Marion and I have known for months that this day would be coming soon, and we are delighted. Still, Bethany’s engagement is a sign of the shifting of the seasons. She is the youngest of my children, my only daughter, the only one of our children who still lives with us, and the last to get married. Soon the transition to the next generation will be complete.

A few weeks ago, my oldest granddaughter turned five. Although Marion and I weren’t able to make the trip to Kansas City for her birthday, we Skyped as she was opening some of her presents. She had been excited about her birthday for weeks in advance, and as young children tend to do, she was fully enjoying the moment.

A couple of days after Sophie’s birthday, I had a very significant dream. I had been reading Song of Songs every day for several weeks, seeking to appropriate the rich Biblical metaphor of the love relationship between Jesus and his bride. As a male, I used to find this image hard to relate to, but having a daughter who loves weddings has helped to change my perspective. God used a dream to open up this profound truth for me in a fresh way.

The dream featured two young women – my five year old granddaughter and my twenty-one year old daughter. I knew that God was using them to speak to me about my own life, and the life of every believer in Jesus.

In Scene One, I saw an image of Sophie on her birthday. She was fully occupied with her gifts and was delighting in the pleasures of a happy childhood. The scene then shifted to an image of Bethany. At the time that I had this dream, she was not yet engaged, but somehow I knew that she was thinking about her upcoming wedding.

As I considered the fact that Bethany would soon be married, I began thinking about my own marriage, and about Jesus’ teaching that there would be no marriage at the resurrection. This has always seemed odd to me. I have been married to the same woman for almost thirty-eight years now. What will it be like to meet her at the resurrection and no longer be married to her?

Then I woke up. When I asked the Spirit about the dream, this is what He showed me.

Sophie is going to grow up and become an adult, but at the moment she could not even begin to comprehend the various issues and realities that she will deal with as an adult. She is fully occupied with being a child. She may believe that she will become an adult, but she has almost no conception of what this will be like. Although she may imagine it at times, and imitate her Mom, her imaginary games are far from the reality.

Bethany has been coming to understand some of the realities of adulthood over the past few years. She loves little children, she enjoys playing with Sophie, and she can still enjoy the memory of being five, but she has no desire to go back. She is looking forward to a wedding and the life of a bride that will follow, and that is her focus now, not her former life as a five year old.

In the same way, it seems strange to you now to think that in the age to come, there will be no marriage as we know it now. You know you are the bride of Christ but it is hard for you to imagine what this will be like. The present reality of marriage is only an analogy for what is to come – a dim image, a shadow. It is important now, just as Sophie’s five year old life is important to her now, but in the future it will be only a memory. Right now you cannot really imagine the marriage supper of the Lamb, or life in the age to come, though you believe these things are coming. But when you get there, you will look back and remember what it was like in this age, but you will have absolutely no regrets. Press on for the hope of your calling.

This dream has had a powerful motivating impact on me over the last few weeks. It has helped me keep my focus on what God has in store, not only in this age but in the age to come. If our horizon is limited to this life, it is hard to stay motivated as we grow older because pain and death are all we have to look forward to. But God has made us for eternity. What we see now is only a shadow of what is to come. Our hope is not that we are going to heaven. Of course if we die before Jesus returns, we will be with Him while we are waiting, but our hope is far better than that. Our hope is that He will return to restore all things, and that we will live with Him on a fully renewed earth.

These things are hard for us to grasp fully. Like five-year-old Sophie pretending to be a grownup and imagining her own wedding, we have only glimpses of what it will be like. It is natural that our life in this age is important to us now, as Sophie’s five-year-old life is important to her now. God wants us to live that life to the full, but it is not all there is. He has much bigger and more glorious things in store for us in the age to come.


The Bride and the Wedding to come

I have had a series of dreams over the past several weeks about the Bride of Christ and the wedding feast that is coming. This past week I had two such dreams, on separate nights, that were very similar. As I reflect on these dreams I am convinced that they contain significant messages, not just for me but for the people of God. In this blog I want to relate the core details of the two most recent dreams. 

The main character in the dreams was a young woman who was looking forward to her wedding. She was also a student who was trying to complete her studies. Her immediate challenges were filling her sights so that she couldn’t really focus on the joy of the wedding to come.  She was discontent and in distress because her circumstances were not perfect. She had goals that she was afraid she would not be able to achieve.

I knew that this young woman represented the Bride of Christ. She had a glorious future. She was destined to wear a crown of glory. But all that seemed very far off, and at the moment, her immediate problems were dominating her life. The crown she was wearing at the moment was not a crown of glory and beauty but a crown of fear and worry.

It’s as if she were saying “God, how do you expect me to get ready for our wedding when I have all these problems? Can’t you just fix the problems for me now, and make everything right? Then I can get ready for the wedding.” But what she didn’t realize was that the trials and tests and hardships were not a mistake and they were not an accident. They were planned by God as part of her maturing process. They were part of the beauty preparations that the King had provided for her. How she responded to the testing would determine the level of beauty and glory that would be formed in her.

One of our elders spoke to our church last week about the process of Christ being formed in us. Christ’s beauty is formed in us is as we respond to him in love and faith in the midst of testing and hardship.

Then the scene shifted and now it was the day of her wedding. She had come through the tests as pure gold, and she was radiant. She was dressed in white and was wearing a beautiful golden crown that was studded with gems. In the dream she was approaching a throne, in her wedding dress, and Jesus was on the throne. She laid her crown at His feet and knelt before Him. He placed it back on her head and raised her up to stand at his side. Her heart towards Him was to worship and adore Him, and His heart towards her was to raise her up to stand beside Him as his partner.

One day we will stand before Him in white and we will be wearing a crown of love and devotion and glory and honour and we will lay that crown at His feet and crown Him with it. But as we lay those crowns at His feet He will give them right back to us, and take our hand and invite us to stand beside Him.

We’ll say to Him “Jesus, you are so worthy. The glory belongs to You alone”. And we’ll bow down and lay our crowns at His feet.

And He will take our hand and raise us up again, and He will say to us, “My bride, you are so beautiful to Me. I want you to share My glory”.

That’s where we are going.


The wedding feast


Last Saturday my oldest son, Joe, married the love of his life, Carmen. For me this was cause for great joy.

I was delighted for Joe. He looked so thrilled as he waited for Carmen to walk down the aisle. He has married a good woman and he will be an excellent husband and father. He has waited a long time for this day, and his patience has been rewarded.

I have enjoyed getting to know Carmen and it was most satisfying to be able to welcome her into our family. She spoke her wedding vows with thoughtfulness and conviction. It was good to meet Carmen’s parents and her brothers, who evidently care so much about her.

I was so pleased for Marion. She and Joe have always had a special bond, and it was good to see the love and pride in her eyes as she watched her son get married and as she shared a special dance with him during the party that followed.

It was lots of fun to have Simeon, Heather and their girls staying in our home for the week leading up to the wedding. I loved playing with the girls, reading them stories, going to the park with them, watching “shows” with them, and talking with Sophie about the big picture of Jesus in our living room. Bethany and her boyfriend Dunovan also spent hours playing with the girls, much to their delight. I see the makings of a favourite aunt and uncle there (though there may be some competition for the title).

On the wedding day I was thrilled to see my two beautiful little granddaughters walking down the aisle in their pretty dresses, Sophie bearing the wedding rings, and Alivia carrying rose petals. Heather, despite feeling miserable due to a nasty cold, was a great sport and made sure the girls were up for their special role.

I was blessed to see again how many truly good friends Joe and Carmen have. Joe and his team worked long and hard to pull off a wedding on a farm under less than ideal circumstances (pouring rain). After having planned and hoped for an outdoor wedding, they adjusted admirably to the wet weather, spending several hours on the wedding day itself shovelling and raking crushed rock so that the rest of us would be dry (relatively speaking) inside the wedding tent. Others spent hours preparing and serving food. Carmen’s friends added to the joy of the day with their gifts of music, service and presence. Special mention goes to Caleb and Julie; Jon; Dave; Margaret, Maggie and Katrina; Nick and Alex; Patrick and Sarah.

At the reception, Joe’s brother Simeon, the best man, spoke with affection and pride of his respect for his big brother. Their younger brother, Reuben, took extra good care of Grandma and Grandpa with the help of his ever-supportive wife Jess, making sure that they were comfortable. Marion and I were so grateful for the help and support of Earl and Debbie Davidson who so generously made their house and property available. It was wonderful to reconnect with them as well as with other good friends from our Russell and City Church days.

All in all, my cup was full. My oldest son was seeing a dream of his heart fulfilled, my wife was happy, and my children and grandchildren were laughing together, serving each other and enjoying each other’s company in the presence of much-loved friends.

Yet during a week filled with such great joy, there were some troubling notes. In Barrhaven, an OC Transpo bus collided with a train, and several people were killed. In Washington DC, a number of people were shot by an assailant at the Navy Yard. In Nairobi, Kenya, Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a mall, targetting non-Muslims and killing over sixty. On a more personal level, our good friend Lynne is facing chemotherapy in the wake of cancer surgery.

How can we make sense of all this? How do you enjoy a wedding and a family celebration in the face of such pain?

These are really questions of life and death. Why is there suffering? Why is there grief? Why is there death? Why is there evil? What is God’s answer?

Though these questions are not easy for our hearts, the Bible does have clear answers. I find it so helpful to be reminded that Jesus, who has suffered for us and with us, is the real Bridegroom, and the Marriage of the Lamb is the real Wedding Feast. He is alive, He lives and reigns now in the heavens, and soon he will return to claim his bride and rule openly as King. The joy of Joe and Carmen’s wedding points forward to the far greater joy of that great day when every tear will be wiped away.

During his earthly ministry He did many miracles to encourage our hearts, and similar miracles are still happening today. To cite just one example, my good friend Gola Tiruneh has seen many works of great power as he reaches out to Muslims in Indonesia with the good news that Jesus is Lord. These are signs of His Kingdom that is coming, and they are wonderful indeed. It is good to have reminders that ultimately the darkness will be defeated, and the Bridegroom will be acknowledged by all as King.

But in the meantime, even when the Holy Spirit is poured out and people are saved, healed and delivered, even when hearts are healed and relationships are restored, even when we enjoy wonderful times of celebration with family and friends, this does not mean that there will be no more trouble. Jesus told us that until His return He would always be near, but He also said that his followers should be prepared for sorrows as well as joys, and warned us not to be dismayed by the one or distracted by the other, but to stay alert and fix our hope on His coming Kingdom.

I am very happy for Joe and Carmen, and wish them many years of happiness and much growth in love. I’m similarly happy when any of my children – or anyone else that I love and care about – finds true joy in life. But my heart’s desire for my children, and for all those God has called me to serve and love and pray for, is that they would fix their eyes on Jesus, the crucified and risen One who is coming to reign. He is the one who can anchor our hearts so that we are not dismayed by the troubles that are part of living in a dying world. The good news is that He has a plan to restore the earth and bring everlasting joy to those who have put their hope in Him. Every wedding, rightly understood, points forward to that glorious day when the Messiah will claim His bride and the earth will be restored.

I want to end this post with a link to a beautiful song by Matt Gilman that expresses the cry in our hearts for that day when the Bride will marry the Lamb. Blessings.



A lifetime assignment

Goalies have different styles.

Take Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas, for example.  For those who aren’t hockey fans, Luongo and Thomas are the goalies of the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins respectively, who are currently tied at three wins apiece in the Stanley Cup finals.

Several of the goals in this series have been a direct result of shooters understanding the unique traits of the opposing goalie’s style of play.  In game two, Alex Burrows scored the winning goal by going behind the net because he knew Tim Thomas would come way out of his net to challenge the shooter.  In game six, Brad Marchand beat Luongo on the upper left side after studying his goaltending style and habits, and discovering one of his weak areas.  His goal may well have been the key to his team’s victory in that game.

Men and women also have different styles, different ways of doing things, different ways of thinking.  Anyone who has been married for any length of time has discovered this.

As in hockey, so in marriage it is possible to catalogue your partner’s unique ways of thinking and behaving, looking for weak areas so that you can score points on each other.  In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, that probably won’t lead to the most harmonious of marriage relationships.

But what if we studied our marriage partners with a different goal in mind – so that we can learn how to love them better?

I’m making a fundamental assumption here – that you and your marriage partner have both surrendered control of your lives to Jesus and invited Him to be the Lord of your individual lives and of your marriage.  If you have not done this, most of the rest of what I say here won’t make sense to you.  Our marriage changed radically when Marion and I both explicitly surrendered our wills to Jesus, and stopped trying to control each other.  We still had lots of other issues to work through, but at least we had a starting point – we were standing on the same ground and walking in the same direction.

That was about twenty-five years ago, and since then, I’ve learned a few things.  One of the things I’ve learned is that to love my wife really well, I need to understand how she thinks.  A number of years ago Marion and I watched a series of DVDs by Dr. Gary Smalley called “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships”.  For me, probably the number one insight that came from this teaching series was the transformative power of one simple decision.  I’m referring to the decision to honour, rather than bemoan, the built-in qualities that make my partner different from me.  Smalley related how in his own marriage he had to learn to see the differences between his wife and himself (differences in emotional makeup and ways of thinking) as a gift rather than a problem.

I’m not talking about fundamental differences in vision, goals and purpose for living.  A couple needs to be committed to unity in those fundamental areas for a marriage to work.  If your basic visions for life are different, you need to listen to the Lord together until you come to agreement.  But even if we agree on our fundamental visions and goals, men and women are different in the way we think, in the way we communicate, in the way we look at life.  And beyond typical male-female differences, individual men and women have their own unique traits.

It’s easy to get frustrated by the fact that your husband or wife doesn’t think the way you do.  But what if you choose to assume that God has made your marriage partner different from you for a reason?  Then the differences, instead of being a cause of frustration, become an asset.  When Marion and I are talking about a given situation, we often see things differently.  We have learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean one of us is wrong.  It could just mean that neither of us sees the whole picture.  Marion possesses wisdom in certain areas of life that can benefit me greatly if I am willing to humble myself and learn from her.  I also have strengths in other areas that she has learned to recognize.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that all of your marriage partner’s most irritating habits are God-given, built-in traits.  Some of them are just bad habits, old patterns that need to be unlearned, maybe even sins that need to be repented of.  Even so, I have learned that I can trust the Holy Spirit to show my wife the areas where she needs to change.  My main job is to pray for her and encourage her.  It’s amazing how much more responsive she is to me when I treat her with encouragement and acceptance.  Funny thing, eh?

Newsflash : no marriage on earth is perfect, and at times every couple has to have an honest talk.  But even those honest talks go a lot better if both partners start with the assumption that God gave us to each other for a reason, and that our differences are part of the package.  Marion and I both have a lot of changing still to do as the Lord transforms us into His image, but no matter how much each of us grows in Christ, we will always be two distinct personalities, even though we are one in flesh and in spirit.  If you are like most married couples, it’s probably the differences that attracted you to each other in the first place, and if your partner were just like you, you probably wouldn’t like it.  So, you might as well learn to appreciate the differences – they aren’t going to go away no matter what you do.  I am still learning to understand my wife’s ways, still learning to appreciate her fully.  I think it must be a lifetime assignment – women are complex creatures – but it’s well worth the effort.  My wife is a gift to me.  She is a true woman of God, and the better I understand her, the more I realize this.

I remember an older couple who had a huge impact on Marion and me earlier in our marriage.  Ray and Jean were in their seventies by that time, and Marion and I were in our late thirties/early forties.  We were church leaders, but we still had so much to learn about life!  They shared their hearts and their lives freely, and invested in us with all that they had learned over the years.  I will always be grateful to them.  Now it’s our turn to pass on some of what we’ve learned.  Marion and I have been transitioning into a new season in our marriage over the last decade as our own children have grown up.   We are excited about what is to come! We both sense that God is opening up some new areas of growth for us, and it’s our heartfelt desire that the lessons we have learned – and the ones we are still learning – will bless others who are seeking to honour God in their marriages.



Last week at the gym I was dressing after my shower when I overheard a young man talking to his buddy about his sex life.

Before I continue, let me say that I don’t make a habit of listening in on the details of other people’s private conversations. This dude, however, wasn’t exactly going to great lengths to keep his private life private. Eavesdropping may not really be the applicable term here. He was broadcasting his reflections quite openly, for everyone in the change room to hear.

I only heard a few sentences before the two of them were out the door, still talking about their sex lives — but to me, those few sentences spoke volumes.  At first I didn’t want to believe that what I had just heard meant what I thought it meant — but the message was unmistakable and heartbreaking. I’ve been thinking about it on and off ever since.

The guy was telling his buddy a story, not about some great sexual conquest, but about what it was like to have sex with a girlfriend whom he already knew he was going to dump because “it” was over. The girl, he said, seemed to want sex all the more — as if  she could tell something wasn’t right and she wanted to make everything good between them. As he reflected on what it was like to have to pretend for his girlfriend, he sounded genuinely surprised to discover that at such times he no longer had an interest in sex. It didn’t seem to occur to him that perhaps they could do something to improve their relationship and prevent a breakup, or maybe he just didn’t want to pay the price. What bothered him, seemingly, was not the fact that he and his girlfriend were about to break up, not even the fact that he was being deceptive towards her, but the fact that he was no longer enjoying sex.

What was perhaps most troubling to me was the inference that he had already had several such relationships, and would likely have several more. He spoke about this experience as if moving from one sexual relationship to another were an accepted way of life among him and his friends. It seemed that to these two guys, serial monogamy is a “given” — just the way things are, not only normal but inevitable. Like the fact that the sun rises every day, that’s just the way the world works. In this view of life, faithfulness no longer means a life-long covenant with one husband or wife; it means only having one sexual partner at a time. You can have as many as you want – just not all at once. Although you know that breakups are painful and somewhat messy, you deal with this unpleasant possibility by not thinking about it, hoping that it might be different this time. You enjoy the relationship while it is easy, and move on when it has turned sour or grown old – after all, “it would be dishonest to stay together when the love is gone”. When you and your latest partner have grown tired of each other, you find some other cute guy or girl who seems attracted to you, and without thinking twice you initiate another sexual relationship, hardly knowing each other except as bedroom partners. When you find out what an imperfect person you are shacked up with, you move out and chase another illusion which is really the same illusion in a different form, and jump into the sack once again as soon as you think you’ve “really found it this time” — only to be disappointed by reality once again. On and on it goes, each cycle bringing more misery, more mistrust, more shallowness and dishonesty, more broken dreams.

Judging by his recitation, the young man in the locker room had probably already been through several iterations of this cycle.  He was troubled by his own feelings and the behaviour of his girlfriend, and was coming to see that he had a problem. All was not happy in happy-free-sex-land. Perhaps it was beginning to dawn on him that sex is more than just a mechanical function that feels good. My young locker-room raconteur was perhaps beginning to sense that casual sex — which is essentially what serial monogamy becomes — does not satisfy. Tragically, though, he seemed to have no idea what the real problem was, and even less of an idea how to solve it. What he almost certainly didn’t understand is that a sexual relationship can only be truly satisfying in the context of lifelong commitment to a covenant marriage. Finding a different girlfriend would change nothing, because he himself was the one who needed to change.

Contrast this with another young man of my acquaintance, who has decided to wait until marriage before having sexual relations with his bride-to-be. This alone, of course, will not make the marriage a happy one. Like all young couples who commit to life-long faithfuless, Mick and Sue (not their real names) will have many challenges to face as they work out what it means to live in genuine emotional, physical, mental and spiritual intimacy. Living in a fallen world, and growing up with a imperfect parents and a built-in inclination towards selfishness, none of us can expect an easy road to the Kingdom of happily-ever-after. As a young couple, Marion and I found that our own marriage only began to work after we gave up trying to control each other and surrendered our wills to the only One who could repair our wounded hearts. A satisfying marriage takes life-long sacrifice, and a willingness to humble ourselves, giving and receiving forgiveness over and over again as we let our hearts be restored until we reflect the servant heart of Jesus. But as I sat with Mick recently and listened to him tell me of their decision to wait, I said to him “I’ve never heard of anyone who regretted having waited for marriage before having sex, but I’ve heard of lots of people who bitterly regretted not having waited”. Mick and Sue have chosen the hard but rewarding road of faithfulness. My prayer for them is that they will walk that road in dependence on the Faithful One – the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God, who thinks so highly of marriage that he uses it as an analogy of his own passionate, redeeming love for those who have received Jesus as Lord and surrendered their lives to Him.

My locker-room encounter has motivated me to pray for the young couples in my life. It has also rekindled my desire to do more than just pray. Marion and I want to be encouragers to young couples who are seeking to walk the path of faithfulness and intimacy in a world that does little to encourage them. Couples who have learned to walk in faithfulness not only bless each other and their children, they are a great resource to the Body of Christ by providing a safe place for those – married and single alike – who need to experience the covenant love of a faithful God.


Is your marriage fireproof?

When I came home from work on Friday I discovered that my wife had rented the movie Fireproof.   I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of quality from a movie that had been produced as a ministry tool (some are pretty good, some not so good … )  but I was very pleasantly surprised and glad we watched it.   It’s got action, romance and a powerful and significant message.  I was challenged by the reminder that loving my wife unconditionally is a daily decision, not dependent on how I feel or on how she is treating me.  Not that she makes it difficult to love her – Marion is a wonderful woman – but I needed the reminder that love is a daily decision.   I also realized again how much I need the Lord’s help if I am going to show  my wife the love she needs. 

The movie tells the story of a firefighter, Caleb Holt, whose marriage is in trouble.   On the job, Caleb is a hero, and lives by the firefighter’s code (Never leave your partner behind), but his marriage is another story.  Caleb’s marriage to Catherine almost goes up in flames, but just in time, he surrenders his stubborn will and begins the painful journey from selfishness to unconditional love.   It’s a simple and powerful story – powerful because it speaks to the deep longing of the human heart for a love that is true and enduring.

In Caleb’s journey from selfishness to wholeness, he reaches out to two other men – his Dad and a friend at work – who have something he needs.   The availability of mentors and role models is so crucial in learning how to live life well.  When Marion and I were younger and struggling in some areas, we were drawn to couples who have been married for some time and whose marriage reflected the Father’s heart.   Now I find – somewhat to my surprise – that there seems to be something about our marriage that is attractive to some of the young adults we know.  Could it be that as we have learned the costly lessons of surrender, God has made our marriage a resource to others?  This is yet another reminder that love is never just for us –  it is always a gift to be shared.  If more couples saw their marriage as a life-long covenant – a covenant with Jesus first of all, then with each other – what a transforming impact this could have on our world!

Fireproof has the potential to make a good marriage better and to give hope to couples who are having trouble.  It could also be a good tool to use with engaged couples.  Well worth watching !


Big plans

A few days ago, at a family Christmas Eve party, my son Reuben and his girlfriend Jess announced their engagement!  It was a wonderful moment, and we are all delighted to welcome Jess into our family.

Even though I’m now a certified old guy, I can still remember being in my twenties.  I remember when Marion and I were engaged.  It was an exciting time … life lay ahead of us, and like all young couples, we had big plans.   And we didn’t want other people telling us what to do!

My children are much wiser than I was at their age, and much better at taking advice.  Amazingly, they are usually willing to listen to their old man!  I’m humbled and gratified by this, and if given the opportunity I’ll share what little wisdom I have.  But I realize that my children aren’t so different from me, and they want the freedom to make their own choices.  I have also learned that my schemes and plans aren’t always right for them, so I am far less quick to make suggestions than I once was.   I’ve done the best I could to give them a foundation of love, a chart of truth and a compass of faith to steer by, and now I need to stand back and let them steer their own ship.

Like all parents, I care about the choices my children make.  But I’ve pretty much given up the attempt to direct my adult children’s lives.  That’s a sure recipe for strife and it won’t do anything to help them learn to trust God for themselves.  My new goal is to keep lifting them up before the Lord and encouraging them to surrender all their choices to Him.  Of course, they could mess up really badly.  They could let pride, fears and insecurities take over instead of trusting God’s wisdom.  They could make other mistakes as well … But these are tests that we all have to pass for ourselves; no-one can pass them for us.   And if they pass the tests of faith – if they learn to listen to God’s voice and yield to His ways – they’ll discover His destiny and purpose and calling for their lives, better by far than the scenarios that I or any human parent could create for them.


God still believes in you

Recently I talked with a friend who is struggling in some key areas.  He and his wife have both been down a difficult road in life, and their marriage is not in great shape.

When my friend told me what was going on,  I felt very inadequate.  I wanted to help him, but the problems seemed so huge.  So I did the only thing I know to do when I don’t have an answer – I went to the One who knows every heart.   During a time of worship, I took some time to quiet my own thoughts, laid the whole situation before God, and sought to listen to the inner voice of the Spirit.  Suddenly I realized that there was something He wanted me to say to my friend.  It was simply this : “God still believes in you”.

I don’t know if my words encouraged my friend (although I believe they did), but I know they encouraged me.  If God believes in me, then maybe I can make a difference despite my inadequacies.  If God believes in me, then I can see beyond the pressures, fears and concerns of the moment, and look for the golden thread of His purpose and calling in my life.  If God believes in me, then my effort to follow Jesus and do the right thing is worth it.

I’ve messed up more times than I can remember.  I stopped keeping track a long time ago … about the same time that I finally got hold of the truth that Jesus loves me, that I don’t need to be perfect to earn His acceptance, that His mercy is for people like me.

When I realize God still believes in me, then I can believe in myself and find the courage to try again.  I can also believe in those around me, and honour and encourage them, even though they too have their faults.  If I need mercy, so do they !

God still believes in you.  Do you believe it ?  It’s true !  And it’s the best news there is.  He doesn’t make bad investments – he only invests in pure gold.   That’s what you are destined to become as you let Him continue to work in your life – pure gold.