Bedrock

 

The Flintstones 2Bedrock is more than the mythical home of Fred and Wilma Flintstone. It is a safe place, a secure place, a solid place to build your home.

 

white-picket-fence1Every engaged couple has dreams of making a home together. Granted, the dreams vary widely from couple to couple. Some dream of suburbia with a white picket fence.

Some prefer an apartment in downtown Manhattan. And others would be happy to live in a tent, as long as they can be together.

Some couples skip marriage all together and just “shack up”.Homeless Camp They say, “We don’t need a piece of paper.” They establish their relationships on the philosophy of the day. But those kinds of arrangements lack foundation, which is crucial to secure and lasting relationships. Leaning Tower of PisaSome couples marry because they want to “do the right thing”. Some are just lazy or willful, and rush into marriage without taking the time to get to know the person they are marrying. Tent SuspendedThese impulsive relationships have no foundation at all, and often lead to disappointment and struggle.

raz de marée sur la ville

The old song says “Into each life, some rain must fall. But most of us don’t expect a tsunami. We  assume that those only happen to other people. Any relationship can survive a thunderstorm or two, but crumble in the wake of a hurricane or an earthquake. The fact is, life happens.  And when it does, we discover what our relationships are made of. We find out what is real and what is merely a facade.APTOPIX New Zealand Earthquake

Warren Buffett says: You find out who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out.

 

Earthquake Proofing your HouseJesus wants us to have solid, sturdy, strong marriages. He doesn’t want us to live one disaster away from ruin. He wants our marriages to withstand the storms of life, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of our families, our community and our world. He teaches us how to be wise and to build a life together on a solid foundation. On Him. He said the wise man built his house, and dug deep and laid the foundation on the Rock. Bedrock

Statistically, couples who receive good pre-marriage counseling, who share the same faith, who have the same values are more likely to have happy marriages. Unless we take the time and devote the energy to “digging deep” into our relationship, how can we really know who our prospective mate is? See Seven Thing to Look for When Choosing a Husband,  Is She Hot? and Before You Get Married

PlumblineIt is always better to begin with a solid foundation. But what if we’re already married?  Many couples who began their marriage on shaky ground are coming to Jesus daily. They give their lives and their marriage to Jesus, and begin the journey of a “divine retrofit”.  I have to warn you, Jesus is a Master Builder and doesn’t take shortcuts. He won’t do little add-ons. He insists on doing a complete renovation. Couples who make Jesus the cornerstone of their marriage, experience a new sense of security and stability that they’d never dreamed possible. Because He is eternal and His truth is like bedrock. Jesus is the only foundation worthy to build our marriage on.

And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the Rock.The Flintstones

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Pay Up, Show Up, and Shut Up

 

Father of the BrideWe’ve all seen the movie, Father of the Bride. Both Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin, decades apart, portrayed the hapless father of the bride, whose primary function in putting on his daughter’s wedding, is to take out a second mortgage on the house, open his wallet, and close his mouth. Spencer TraceyThere is only one more powerless position on the earth today, and that is parents of the groom. After all, the bride has been planning her wedding day all her life. The groom is essentially a last minute, fill- in-the-blank; the last puzzle piece, whose face and name have only recently been added.

Deer in the Headlights ASo there we were, about thirty minutes before the wedding ceremony, and the father of the groom greeted me with the usual deer in the headlights look in his eyes. He was doing an admirable job of holding it all together. Just an observation, it’s hard to look cool as a cucumber while wearing a suit and tie in hundred degree weather. He turned to me and asked me if I ever get nervous doing weddings. This being about my 100th wedding to officiate, I answered him “I was nervous officiating my own children’s weddings.” Other than those, the only wedding I was nervous officiating was my very first wedding. Then I was almost as nervous as the groom.

As I watched the parents of the bride and groom, I wondered what medieval torture master dreamed up all the traditions, etiquette and responsibilities foisted on parents to put on weddings for their adult children. One insightful father boiled it down to these three, and it wasn’t Faith, Hope and Love. It’s Pay Up. Show Up, and Shut Up.

Empty Wallet DadPay Up – By the time you pay for the dress, the reception, the church and a million other accoutrements, you’d think you’d done your part. But No! It’s not enough to spend, on one day, enough to purchase a small country, or a home in the suburbs for cash.

You still have to Show Up. Yes, dressed in your finery, you’ve got to be the gracious host, exchange pleasantries, tell a few jokes, shake everyone’s hand, and give a speech worthy of an academy award. And oh yes, dance like Fred Astaire.Fred Astaire and Bride Little do they know that behind the smile, you’d give another million dollars to be on some sandy beach a thousand miles away in shorts and flip flops, sipping something cold, with an umbrella sticking out of it… but not today. You’ve got relatives and friends to visit with today and shuttle to the airport tomorrow. About this time you lament the fact that you don’t have omnipresence as your superpower.

The final instruction to the parents of the groom is to Shut Up. This is not your party; although you wouldn’t know it by your bank account.   Weddings are all about the bride. I mentioned this at a recent wedding and the mother of the bride laughingly corrected me and insisted it was all about her. I laughed and agreed with her and thought, this is truer than we’d all like to admit.Wedding Party At the same time the bride and groom just soak it in, celebrating with their friends, eating drinking and living the good life, leaving it to you to clean up and take care of the relatives and all the loose ends.

So what sage advice can I give the parents of the bride and groom? Precious little, except to quote a Keith Green song: “Just do your best, and pray that it’s blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest.” Ah yes, rest. Here’s some good advice. Plan to have at least a week off after the wedding to recuperate, get everyone where they need to go and then have several days just for you and your spouse to rest.

After all those months of preparation, stress and worry about measuring up, you did it! And yes, you did measure up, contrary to those voices in your head. Your speech was superb. Your dress looked lovely, and everyone is in awe of how well you pulled it off. Now all that is left to do is work on your new superpower: Satisfaction.Couple on Beach

Your Husband is a Tool

DavidIf you‘ve ever been to Florence Italy, you’ve no doubt seen Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of David. There he stands, the perfect man in all his naked glory…but he did not begin that way. When asked how he accomplished such a masterpiece, Michelangelo simply said “I took a block of marble, and I chipped away anything that wasn’t David.” When we are considering marriage, we are always looking for the perfect mate. We meet someone, we get a glimpse of who God is making them, and it excites us. But spouses don’t come ready-made. The bible says that God will spend a lifetime conforming us into the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29). And when we sign up for marriage, we are signing on to help our spouse become everything God wants them to be.

Look in the Right PlacesNow before we go any farther, Michelangelo did not choose just any random block of marble. He searched for the right quarry, and even built a road to bring back the exact block for David. Singles, this is no place for short cuts. We should be very careful and intentional when choosing our spouse. Choose WiselyLimestone and Pyrite will never have the qualities of marble or granite. They don’t yield to the chisel like marble does.

Tools of the MasterIt is important to make the distinction that God is the artist and we are simply the tool in His hand. It is not our place to try to make our spouse what we want them to be. At the same time, don’t blame your spouse if the chisel feels like it is getting too close to a sensitive area. If God wants to take off a few pounds of something that doesn’t look like Jesus, we will be better for it. The Master doesn’t make mistakes.

Hammer and ChiselIf we are honest with ourselves and with each other, there is a lot in our life that needs to be chipped away. Sin and selfish tendencies keep us from being the person we want to be. The bible tells us to exhort one another daily. (Heb 3:13) How valuable it is to have someone who loves us, someone we can trust to share that goal and help us stay on track.

She Yields to the Master's HandSex and romance, laughter and fun are some of the joys we share along the way as we celebrate our successes, and nurse our wounds, and endure the “growing pains” of life. Having a companion who encourages us makes the process not only bearable, but enjoyable.

On our wedding day we had no idea. We thought we were two finished statues. We stood before the minister and pledged ourselves to serve and love one another, and to help each other through whatever life would bring our way. By daily living out our pledge to one another, we will one day stand before the Lord and hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that’s a life well lived. A masterpiece!Masterpiece

Seven Things to Look for When Choosing a Husband

Couple Beginning the Long RoadHusband means to care for. It seems like this is the best place to begin whether you are a man or a woman. I may be overstating the obvious, but here goes: A woman should choose a husband who will care for her. There, I said it. I know I’m not being politically correct but this one truth can save years of heartache. Another definition of a husband is a prudent or frugal manager. I must say, that over the years I have met a few who have not managed well and their marriages were less than bliss.Less than Bliss But I’ve also met some extraordinary couples who “get it” and have exemplary marriages.
We’ll discuss Choosing a Wife in a future blog, but for now let’s see what women can learn from scripture about choosing a husband, and what men can learn about being a husband.
The apostle Paul defines the qualifications for “overseers” of the church (the bride of Christ) in 1Timothy 3:1-6. Although every husband does not aspire to be an “Elder” or “Deacon” in his local church, he must accept the role as “head” of his wife. Since God uses this analogy, it is reasonable for women to consider these attributes when choosing a husband. Every husband may not match the full biblical standard for deacon or elder, but if concessions are made, it is important that they are at least informed concessions.
Here is my paraphrase of this passage with the husband and his bride in mind:
1. If a man desires to be a Husband, he desires a good ministry. A husband must be above reproach, not living in conscious disregard for God’s Word. He must be living a standard higher than the world or society sets. When he sins, he owns his failure and repents quickly.
Flirting2. He must be a “one-woman-man”. He does not “look around” or flirt with other women. He does not have a track record of jumping from relationship to relationship. He has conducted himself honorably in past relationships and is conducting himself honorably in his relationship with you.
3. He must be self-restrained (not depending on you to be his conscience), moderate in opinions and indulgences (not an extremist). He must get along with others. He must not be addicted to alcohol or drugs, nor use them illegally or inappropriately. He knows his limits and his weaknesses regarding their use. No to Second Glass of wineHe keeps his temper under control. He deals with anger biblically. He is quick to seek the Lord, instead of reacting violently. He is gentle, considerate and sensitive to you and others. He does not deal with you harshly in word or action. He does not force you or intimidate you into doing things against your conscience or convictions. He is not greedy for money. He keeps a healthy perspective on money. He works hard to provide, but does not spend all his energy trying to become rich. He does not justify illegal or dishonest gain even if it is only a cashier giving him too much change at the grocery store. Greedy ManHe treats you like a lady. He is considerate of you “as the weaker vessel”. He treats you like a fine crystal goblet, not a 99 cent tumbler. He does not make every disagreement into an argument. He is able to disagree, and still maintain his Christian character. He does not need to “win” every argument. He does not justify himself when he fails but is able to admit when he is wrong, with grace. He is content. He is not consumed with the ungodly desire for more. He is not competing with his friends and neighbors to have the most or the best. He is not ruled by the lust of the eyes. He lives within his means. He does not live on credit. He is not deeply in debt or a slave to the lenders.
4&5. He rules his own house well. There is peace in his home. He is a godly and wise manager. He rules over his own passions. He influences others in his household to rule over their own passions. If he has children, he takes responsibility for their wellbeing. He lovingly leads and directs them. He trains them in the ways of the Lord. He lives as an example for them to follow. He does not provoke them to wrath. He does not lord it over them, but practices servant leadership. He is not so preoccupied with his job, his hobbies, or his ministry that his children are neglected.Man with Children
6. He is not a new convert. There is solid evidence that Jesus is Lord of his life. You would use many of these words to truthfully describe him: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. He loves Jesus more than anyone, and is committed to living for Jesus no matter what. He is not consumed with pride. He does not see himself above others. Humility is a distinguishing characteristic of his life. He does not act condescendingly toward other individuals, or groups of people.
7. He has a good testimony among those who know him. His boss and co-workers concur that his Christian character is genuine. He does not live a double life. He does not act differently when he is in another circle of friends. His family and relatives attest that the man you know him to be is the same man they know him to be.Stand up Man
When a wife chooses a husband, she is agreeing to come under his leadership for a lifetime. Since there is no way to know the future, the best way to anticipate the kind of husband a man will be is to evaluate what kind of man he is today. This should encourage men to be a “stand up” Christian man, and it should encourage women to never settle for anything less.

Before You Get Married

Lifetime Commitment
Marriage was designed by God to be a relationship where we make a commitment for a lifetime. When we are making a lifetime commitment, we will invest ourselves more in each other and we will avoid saying and doing things that will cause damage to our relationship. (Read Nurture and Cherish)
Helper
God said “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable Gen 2:18. Marriage is designed to be a helping relationship where the husband helps his wife and a wife helps her husband. When we are looking for a spouse, we are attracted to a mate who has strengths where we have weaknesses, and weaknesses where we have strengths. By helping one another and by learning to depend on each other, we build a quality marriage.
Making a Life
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Gen 2:23
Choosing a marriage partner, should be done with great care because you will be merging your life with the life of your spouse.
Confluence of Stanislaus and San Joaquin RiversWe live in Modesto and there are two rivers, the Stanislaus and the Tuolumne, that flow down from the high Sierra and pass on either side of the city. But an interesting thing happens about half way through my commute every morning. After I leave Modesto I cross the San Joaquin River on my way to Livermore. At a certain point, both the Stanislaus and the Tuolumne Rivers lose their own previous identities and take on a new identity: The San Joaquin. This River has elements and attributes of the Stanislaus and the Tuolumne, but from that point on, it makes its trip to the sea with a new identity.
The day we get married we must change our pronouns.
I becomes we.
My becomes our.
Mine becomes ours.

Please don’t marry anyone with whom you are not willing and ready to merge your money, your reputation, your name and your future.
We are no longer single individuals but a married couple. As single individuals, we put ourselves first in our decision-making. As a married couple we will find the most success and the most joy in marriage when we put our spouse before ourselves.

In-laws
Speaking of leaving father and mother, all your life you have been told to obey your father and mother. When you get married, your relationship with your father and mother changes. When we leave father and mother, they no longer have authority over our life. It is important for the new married couple to understand that by getting married you are creating a new household and a new authority structure. No longer do you give your parents the place of authority over your lives. However, mother and father don’t always get the memo. They sometimes put pressure or expectations on their married adult children such as spending holidays together or expecting financial support.
Meddling Mother-in-lawA word of advice: Love and honor your parents but you should no longer feel any pressure to obey them. Your new marriage has created a new authority structure. Decide with your husband or wife what you want your life together to look like. Then be as gracious as you can, and tell your parents how you have decided to live your life together. Learn to value your extended family and be healthy, active members as you are able. But don’t allow them to manipulate or pressure you with guilt.
Communication
Healthy communication makes a healthy marriage. (See : Communication: The Lifeblood of Marriage).
Money
There are only three things you can do with money: Spend it, Save it and Give it.
Healthy people learn to do all three.
wedding-moneyIt is important that married couples be in agreement on how you will obtain money and how your collective money will be spent, saved and given. It is the responsibility of both of you to decide together on your plan and to fulfill your part in carrying out your plan. Often in marriage, one or the other of the spouses is more gifted in administration. That spouse will often write the checks and balance the check book. But both spouses must be fully engaged in making the decisions on how the money gets spent. Here is a simple way to accomplish that.
1. Whichever spouse is administratively gifted, make a list of all the things you want/need to do with your money. i.e. rent, electricity, car payment, vacations, savings, spending money, etc.…
2. Both spouses sit down and review the list and the other spouse should add any additional items. Both spouses have an equal say in what goes on the list.
3. Decide together and agree on how much to spend on each item. Give every dollar a mission, even if it is extra money that is going into savings.
4. Now each spouse does what you’ve agreed to do with your money.
5. Make sure you budget a few dollars for each of you to have some pocket money to blow, even if it is only a few dollars per week.
6. If an unexpected financial expense comes up, talk to your spouse and decide together where the money will come from to pay for it.
You now have a budget that both of you agree on, and both of you carry the financial responsibility in your marriage.
Early in your dating relationship, it is important that you discuss your financial practices and philosophy on spending, saving, investing and debt, with your prospective spouse. Later, as your relationship progresses and you are moving closer towards marriage, it is important that you both disclose your complete financial status to your prospective spouse: Income, net worth, debts, taxes, foreclosures and bankruptcies. You wouldn’t want to find out after the wedding that you are now a million dollars in debt and neither would your spouse. Wait until you are married to merge your money.
Conflict/Forgiveness
Fighting FairNobody’s perfect. That means that even if you are marrying Mr. Right or Miss Right, they will eventually do something wrong, and so will you. That is why learning to forgive is so crucial to a healthy marriage. It is also important to recognize when we are wrong and to apologize to our spouse. Don’t be too proud to admit when you are wrong. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we do something that is inconsiderate or selfish. The sooner we recognize it, and apologize, the healthier our marriage will be. (Read Taking Out the Trash)
Sex
Sex in marriage is one of the greatest benefits of a healthy marriage. Every couple enters into marriage with the expectation that their spouse will fulfill this crucial element of marriage. But many couples fail to discuss sex,  or communicate their expectations to one another before marriage. They simply assume their fiancé will share their ideals.

Engaged couples need to have appropriate, meaningful conversations to make sure they are on the same page. The closer you get to your wedding date, the deeper these conversations should become. Be careful to have these discussions in places that protect you from temptation. Try to find a public place where you can have a private conversation.

When both husband and wife make their first priority to serve each other rather than serving themselves, they will do well.  When considering a prospective spouse, observe how they act in the other areas of your relationship. Are they self absorbed or are they others centered? Do they have integrity or do they fudge on boundaries?  Do they protect you from sexual temptation or do they try every ploy to get you into the sack?  Whatever you are before marriage, will typically be magnified in marriage.

In order to have a thriving sexual relationship in marriage, we need to maintain a healthy relationship in all of the other areas. They are all connected. (Read: The Chapter on Sex)

An important note: If you have any sexually transmitted diseases, it is very important that you disclose them to your fiance before you get married. That way if you spouse becomes infected with them, there will not be any question of unfaithfulness associated with them. If they are incurable, disclose them. If they are curable, get them cured completely before you get married. If there is any chance they will reoccur, disclose them.

Choose your spouse carefully. You are entrusting them to be the only person in the world who will be authorized to meet  your sexual needs.  (Read Whose Body is it Anyway?)
Children
Family of Three in BedBe fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Gen 1:28
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… you guessed it. Married couples often look forward to raising their own family. So before you marry, it is important to discuss whether or not you plan to have children, generally how many you plan to have and to have a general agreement on how they will be raised. Husbands and wives often come from families who differ in their approach to raising children. Don’t assume your spouse knows or agrees with your philosophy. Talk about it together in depth. Read books, study, take classes and learn to be an excellent parent.
Blended Families
Yours, Mine and Ours.
Almost half of the marriages today result in blended families. That means that each spouse brings children with them into the marriage. Then sometimes, to complicate matters, the couple has a child together. If you’re not careful, your natural parental instincts will lead you to show favoritism to your children that are related to you by blood. A married couple must make a herculean effort to never let this happen. It is important that couples view all of their children as OUR children and to love them and carry the responsibility of raising them together. Children will often exploit the fact of their blended family to “divide and conquer”. Husband and wife must always maintain a united front and raise all of their children equally as OUR children. The children may not acknowledge or fully understand this concept, but it is crucial to their wellbeing and the health of your marriage.
Religion
BibleThis last item really should be first. Statistically marriages have a substantially higher rate of success when a couple agrees upon these four major areas of life: Money, Children, In-laws and Religion.
The bible says: Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3 and of course the answer is No, not very far, and not for very long. Marriage is a lifetime commitment. If you marry someone with a different religion, they will have a different value system. That means with each passing day, you are bound to grow farther apart rather that growing closer together. If you marry someone with the same value system, you are much more likely to grow closer and closer together in a relationship that will last a lifetime. This is such an important subject that the bible tells Christians: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Conclusion
Choosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions you will make in your entire life. Time spent preparing for your marriage is some of the most worthwhile use of your time. Do not hurry through this important preparation. Be prayerful and careful. Is it easy to discuss each of these topics? Do you find that you and your future spouse generally agree on most all of them? If your answer is yes, then you can proceed with confidence as you prepare for your marriage and as you make a life together.

Is She Hot?

A young man came to my office to ask about weddings. He was in a big hurry to get married. He began telling me about the woman of his dreams whom he had recently met, and asked if I would officiate their wedding. First I congratulated him. Then I asked him a question. In fact, I asked him the most important question when choosing a bride: Is she HOT? I know it sounds carnal. We all know that beauty is only skin deep, but I had to know, because the answer to this question would affect the rest of his life.

Adam lived in a perfect world; the environment was perfect and the climate was perfect. The food was delicious and his work was interesting and challenging. He had a perfect relationship with God. The Garden of Eden was paradise. What more could a man want? HD TV? No. Adam needed someone to share it with. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful sunset, and wished that someone was there to share it with you, then you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully God was not finished with his creation.

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Gen 2:18) Can you imagine Adam praying PLEASE God, make her pretty. Because we all know how important it is that we marry someone who is attractive to us. Our first indication that Eve was HOT was when God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good.  (Gen 1:31)

AdamWe also know that she was HOT because there is something in the way Adam uses the word “now”. It is as if there should have been and exclamation point after the word “now” – as if to say FINALLY!

Adam did his best to find vocabulary to express his feelings (typical man). He said:

This is now bone of my bones” – She’s got bones that match my bones.

And flesh of my flesh” – She has beautiful flesh. (I want to touch her.     I want to hold her. I want to love her.)   (Gen. 2:23)

She’s not like all the others. She’s a perfect match for me. We’re a matched pair. She’s my mate!  A perfect fit!Adam and Eve

Do you remember the day you first laid eyes on your mate? The first conversation you had? Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it’s a slow revelation. Your thoughts progress from “Could this be the one?” to “This could be the one!” to “I think I may be falling in love.” to “WO-MAN!  I AM in love!!!” The defining moment is exciting and scary and wonderful and perplexing all at the same time.

There is term that gold miners use: “He’s married the vein.” That’s when a prospector is no longer objectively evaluating the minerals to discover whether or not there is gold in the vein. He has crossed a threshold where now every mineral he finds, he interprets as proof of the presence of gold.

But being physically attracted is not the only important criteria for choosing a mate. You sometimes see announcements in the newspaper of couples celebrating 50 years of marriage, and they are often accompanied by a current photograph next to their wedding picture. Fifty years later, none of us will look the same. The apostle Peter emphasizes that it is the person you are inside that is important.

Wives…Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Guys, the Lord wants you to have a HOT wife. But when choosing a wife, He wants you to put a premium on finding a wife that is HOT for the things of the Lord.

Look for a wife that loves Jesus more than she loves you. One who is passionate to live for Him even if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain. Then, if and when you fail, she will look to the Lord for direction as to how to respond to you. Don’t settle for a wife that is physically hot, but lukewarm towards the things of the Lord. Ladies, the same goes for you when choosing a husband.

Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth. Rev 3:15-1

I don’t recommend that you write this verse on an anniversary card, but I do recommend writing the exhortation on the tablet of your heart to get hot and stay HOT for the things of the Lord. It will make you attractive when you’re young, and will keep you attractive until you celebrate fifty years together and beyond.