My friend. My wife.

Rockies

Fifteen years ago this week I sat in a hunting camp after a long day of quail hunting talking with good friends. Our red solo cups were filled with ice and bourbon and our ears were filled with Willie Nelson and good conversation. In a few days I would be on a plane to Colorado to get married. And as we sat around the South Texas camp fire that evening I was busy asking questions about marriage and they were busy giving me advice.

Every single one of them was divorced. Once the jokes settled and the conversation turned serious a consistent theme emerged. “One day you wake up next to this person and you realize that not only are you not in love with each other anymore, but that you don’t even know one another.” I remember those words these many years later, and the lessons I learned from that discussion endures.

After being married for fifteen years my wife and I are at the stage of life where some of our friends are separating or divorcing. In talking with these friends and listening to their justification I can’t help but wish they had been with me at the hunting lease so many years ago.

On the event of my wedding anniversary I want to take some time to remind myself and impress upon us all that it is never too late to invest in your marriage. You may have heard that said so many times that the deep meaning of it no longer registers. What does it mean to “invest” in your marriage?

Let me share what it means to me at this time. It means that marriage is hard work, and I need to treat my marriage like it is the biggest project of my time on this earth because it may very well be. In my professional life I have no problem finding the motivation to work hard on a given project. Sometimes it is a supervisor or other leader with needs and a deadline. The economic consequences to that hard work are available and predictable. The amount of work is quantifiable and the outcome can be measured. Success or failure can be registered and the feedback is immediate. Finding the motivations to perform well at work is simply a matter of showing up and paying attention because the motivations are all around you.

Marriage doesn’t work that way. You can work hard and receive nothing in return. The feedback may be nonexistent. In fact the work required doesn’t even present itself very neatly, does it? “Here you go husband, I need you to review and implement this I.M.C.S. (Improved Marriage Communication Strategy) by next Friday, OK? And I won’t tell you how you’ve done until you’re 68.”

There is certainly a lot of work that I need to do on my marriage, but I can do all of that and do it well and it won’t address the issues that were raised around that South Texas campfire. The biggest effort I need to make is making sure that I know who my wife is — that I value her as a person.

Have you ever met anyone famous? Did you get their autograph? Afterwards did you feel like you knew that person? “Hey Gavin, what was Nolan Ryan like?” “I’m not sure. He’s tall I guess.” Sometimes I wonder if I know my wife any better than that. “She’s blonde. She was a cheerleader in High School. And…uh…I gotta go.” I’m afraid that one day in a conversation someone may ask my difficult questions about my wife and expose me as a fraud of a husband.

So let’s go back: it’s never too late to invest in your marriage. Do all of the necessary work, and work your butt off. But most importantly get to know your wife. Let her know that you care about not only what she does but why she does it and most importantly who she is.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Eph 5:25

How hard are you working on your marriage? How well do you know your wife? Studies show us that Christian marriages typically fare no better than non-Christian marriages, with similar rates of divorce and infidelity. It’s no wonder that our culture is looking for alternatives to traditional marriage – Christians have not upheld the sacrament with the reverence it deserves.

For the sake of your wife and to show thanks to God who gave us the gift or marriage, show some appreciation to your wife this week. Let her know how much she means to you by taking some time to get to know her.

Success to Significance

success-or-significance

How would you characterize your life? Are the majority of your efforts put into pursuing success or significance?

Sara, my wife, and I have been wrestling with a big decision in life and have asked many people for prayers and guidance during this time. As my wife was sharing our story with a man at my daughter’s church, he characterized our journey as one that has moved from success to significance. His comment really made both of us think.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that the simple definition of success is:

  • the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame

Contrast that with the definition of significance:

  • the quality of being important: the quality of having notable worth or influence

As I’ve pondered this, I have to admit that it made me really reassess my corporate climb. When it was all said and done, the wealth, respect, and fame I chased didn’t have as much significance as I hoped. Sure… I did impact people’s lives, made a difference in some cases… but for what end? If I’m really honest, it was for others to be successful… to achieve wealth, respect and fame… so I could too. When you consider all of this in relation to God’s Word… it’s pretty sobering. God’s word is pretty clear…

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So the question we all have to wrestle with is… are we pursuing success or significance… where are our treasures?

How you answer makes all the difference in the world!

It’s the difference between spending more time at work or more time with your family. It’s the difference between watching the big game on television or being fully present for your wife in a time of need. It’s the difference between agreeing to a deal that may not be totally above board vs. turning it down. It’s the difference between climbing over others by promoting yourself and denigrating a co-worker or helping others in their lives and putting them first. It’s the difference between going along with the crowd to be popular or going back to the hotel. It’s the difference between fitting God into your life when convenient or putting Him first above all things.

How you answer makes all the difference in the world!

But here’s the thing. The world’s ways fall apart, are never satisfied, and ultimately lead to destruction, pain, sorrow, and despair. But God’s economy is different.

“God’s definition of success is really one of significance-the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. The significance doesn’t show up in won-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It’s found in the hearts and lives of those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived.” Tony Dungy

It’s in Jesus we have our significance. It’s given to us. We don’t and can’t earn it. It’s by grace alone.

I beg of you… please choose a life of significance sooner than later! You don’t have to quit your job, take a vow of poverty or become a full-time pastor. Put your trust in God alone… first. Choose His ways… first. He will strengthen you to live in His significance and show you how to lead your children, your family, and your friends to live in that same significance. A full, significant life!

Jesus said…“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 MSG  

October 2016 Newsletter

Grace Hanson FB

Hi There!

Welcome to the October edition of the newsletter. We’ve got content on the temptation of passivity, surrender, family worship, and another great podcast on taking care of your heart.

Enjoy!

 

Read

The 1 Temptation of Every ManMichael Kelley

Men, I can feel it inside me – this urge to simply let things happen. To assume a position of powerlessness. To take the easy road of being uninformed and uninvested. But this is not the road that God has charted out for us.

Click the link. Or not and take the easy road.

Exposure and SurrenderMorgan Snyder

Cherie still catches me staring at the beer in the fridge – sometimes just hoping for some osmosis or supernatural impartation.  But each day I do it more loosely…each day I feel myself surrender just a little more into the possibility that God desires to be my food and my drink, to be my comfort and the lifter of my mood.

Convicting read on how much we rely on everything else but God for our comfort, pleasure, and help.

Five Benefits of Regular Family WorshipTom Ascol

Regular family worship is valuable and brings many blessings to parents and children alike.

Winter is coming! And with it, for us at least, is sometimes snowy, slick, and dangerous roads. Our family has at times skipped church due to the weather! Until we started doing family worship at home. We pray as a family, read the bible, and sing.  Yes, sing. Youtube can be a wonderful thing. Look for worship songs with the lyrics in them, crank them up, and make a joyful noise. Here’s our Youtube worship playlist.

Listen

How to Safeguard Your Most Important AssetMichael Hyatt

It affects our perspective and purpose. It impacts how we interact with our teams, potential clients, and customers. What is this critical leadership asset? It’s our heart. Today I’m sharing four disciplines to keep it in shape.

For those of you who enjoyed last month’s podcast with Steve Smith, you love this one too. We all need to take care of our hearts. Work and life can wage a vicious war on our hearts. If we want to give the best of ourselves to those we love, we need to take care of it.

Watch

Matt Chandler Calls Out Men

There’re some great one liners in this 5-minute video.

“He’s created you to make war and you’re punting on that.”

“A bored man is a dangerous man.”

“Everything works right when men are being men instead of boys who can shave.”

That’s it for this month!

Stay Sharp!

Matt Rise

Now, But Not Yet – Living in Tension

Now but not yet_pic

I love going on retreats and mission trips.  They’re great opportunities to get away from the daily grind, be refreshed, and refueled, and to enjoy the community of fellow believers.  Most of my experiences have been with our church’s youth group as an adult leader, but I’ve also been on a few marriage retreats with my wife, and several men’s retreats.  But as much as I enjoy and benefit from these experiences, there’s one thing they all have in common.

There’s always a letdown after I get back.

Sure, I don’t miss the sleeping on floors, or the stifling odor of sweaty teenagers crammed into poorly ventilated make-shift dormitories (youth trips, obviously….).

And the letdown is not just because of the return to the day to day toils and unfinished business I left behind (although there is that….).

It’s partly because I miss the joyful camaraderie of a group with a common purpose.  The like-mindedness that helps us remember we’re all part of the body of Christ.  And how exhilarating and rewarding it can be when we work together in unity as part of that body.

“… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:2-4)

But it’s mostly because of the clarity that comes back with me when I return to normal day to day life.  What was dim and foggy and easily ignored before I left is now (at least temporarily) crystal clear as I return – things are not as they should be.  It’s a stark reminder that I’m a sinner living in a broken world.  And that reminder is uncomfortable.

So what are we to do?

Should we avoid that brokenness and isolate ourselves from the world?  Maybe become monks to try and become more obedient?

While there are times when this seems appealing to me, no, I don’t think that’s the answer.  It’s pretty clear that we’re called to be in the world but not of the world.  That we’re citizens of heaven sent into the world to be a light unto the world.  To go and make disciples of all nations.

Or maybe we should avoid retreats and mission trips altogether so we don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable letdowns?

No, that’s not the answer either.  While going on these trips certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a requirement, mountain-top experiences are good gifts that God provides to draw us closer to himself.  Powerful and valuable, but brief.  Intended to instill in us a sense of awe and wonder and encourage us in our faith.  And perhaps even provide a glimpse of things to come.

Instead, I believe we’re called to live in the tension of the “now but not yet” Kingdom of God.  We live now in the joy and assurance that we’re children of God.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8,9)

But we’re also still in this broken world and will experience pain and suffering until Jesus returns again.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And while we should enjoy and benefit from the occasional experiences of retreats and mission trips, I believe God designed the local church and the rhythm of weekly worship as the regular source of our refreshment and encouragement.  Where we gather together regularly in community to receive His gifts of grace and forgiveness, to hear God’s word preached, to share in the Lord’s supper, and to respond in joyful worship.

Again and again.  Now, but not yet.

Peace