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Imagine for a moment that you are in a room and all the lights have been put out. The doorway is sealed so that not even the faintest glimmer of light can be seen. Your eyes strain to see - to see anything.- but not even the most faint shape can be made out in the total blackness. The darkness seems almost to press in on you. Then imagine one small candle is lit. Suddenly, light fills the room and you can see your surroundings. After being in total blackness that small light seems so bright. When we receive Christ as our Savior, we become that light in a world of total darkness. A marriage that exists with Christ at the center is truly a beacon of hope to those who do not know of how HIS love can strengthen a bond between a husband and a wife.
Have you ever walked into a home and just felt the peace and love that existed in that home? Have you ever walked into a home where the tension was so thick you felt as if you could cut it with a knife? How about a church where the people are warm and friendly, peace and love are felt in every handshake and every greeting, a place where you know you will be truly cared for and loved - even the building itself seems alive with love? Have you ever entered a church and at that very moment wanted to turn around to leave because you could sense the tension (and it wasn’t even Wednesday night business meeting)?
I have noticed over the last 13 years of my marriage that most of the time I am the one who sets the tone for my house. Kind of like the old saying “If mama ain’t happy -ain’t nobody happy.” In the same way, I believe that the leadership of the church (the pastor and deacons) set the tone for the church. If there is conflict and a lack of peace and love in the home of the leadership, then there will be conflict and a lack of peace and love in the church. I believe that Paul clearly recognized this in his letter to Timothy as he sets forth the qualifications for a deacon to be a man who rules his children and his own house well. When I think of a house being well ruled, I don’t picture a man ruling with an iron fist and saying “IT’s my way or the highway”. I picture a house that is filled with peace and harmony.
If I am the one who sets the tone for my house, and my house sets the tone for the house of God, then my primary responsibility in the ministry to which my husband has been called must be to make my home a place of peace and harmony, a true reflection of the love of Christ, a light in the darkness.
Proverbs Chapter 14 begins with a verse that I have meditated upon many times. It says “A wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her own hands.” There are so many ways every day that I can either build my house or destroy it. Joshua 24:15 says “Choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house we will serve the LORD.” Every moment of every day I make a decision to either serve the LORD or not, to be a light to a dark world or yet another reason for someone to avoid God. I make that decision every time someone wrongs me and I make the choice to forgive or allow a root of bitterness to spring up within me. I make that decision when I decide how I am going to spend my time that day. I make that decision when someone cuts me off in traffic and I either pray for them or say “jerk” under my breath. I make that decision when I allow the Sunday morning rush to get to church to make me grumpy. In a thousand ways every day, I make the decision to serve God or to serve myself.
When it comes to building my house, I always think of the illustration that our Pastor uses when counseling a new Christian. He takes a quarter and places it in his hand and says “when you accepted Christ you were placed in the hand of God, and nothing can ever take you out of God’s hand.” Then he takes his thumb and pushes the quarter around with it and says that satan, can make your life miserable, but there are certain things you can do to keep satan from getting at you. Phil then begins to close his fingers one by one over the quarter as he explains how a Christian can live a victorious life by prayer, reading the Bible, worshipping with other believers, and witnessing. If my house is to function peacefully and harmoniously , the most important thing I can ever do to achieve that goal is to daily have time with God.
John 10:10 says that the thief cometh not, but for to steal, kill, and destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. Satan is the thief who would very much like to steal our joy in our families and church, and to kill the love that we have for our husbands and for one another, and destroy our marriages and the peace and harmony we have in the church. He would especially love to destroy the families in leadership. By destroying one family, the entire church is weakened. When a marriage goes bad and a family is torn apart, it is so easy to think “Wow, I thought they were a great couple, if it could happen to them it could happen to me.” Even more dangerous is it to think “That could never happen to me.” It is important that we never take it for granted that just because our home and family is strong now that it could never be any different. It is so important to keep Christ at the center of our lives so that we might have not just life but abundant life.
Our church almost always has a wonderful feel. When I go out on Evangelism Explosion (EE) visits, people often say “Your church is just the friendliest church I have ever been to.” I look at the families that are in leadership in our church and I am so thankful for the strong marriages that are an inspiration to me and that set the tone of peace, love, and harmony for our church.
I pray for each one of you that God would give you the kind of marriage and family that would be a beacon of light to a dark world. I pray that every day you would grow in your relationship with God and with your families. I pray that the strong families in our church and the ministry of our church will continue, and be able to meet the needs of those in our community who have been destroyed by the enemy and are hurting. May God bless you all!
Preparing for Marriage
How best for women to prepare for marriage?
1. Concentrate on your relationship with God and obeying HIM. He is interested in shaping a woman up to be the best, not just 'passable'. Her relationship with God will determine her relationship with her husband, his family, and their growing family.
2. Learn basic domestic skills. Whether or not they are to be used right away, knowing how to run a house and do things which save money is going to be important for 99% of young women in the future. This is a gift to the husband, to know how to do these things. This, also, is an area where mothers are often sadly lacking in training their daughters.
3. Spend time getting to know the young man and his family. You will be marrying into ALL of them.
4. Look at the young man carefully. Do you trust his relationship with God? Your well-being and future will depend on it.
As for the wedding -- when the time comes, excited friends and relatives will be more than happy to help with EVERYTHING! In the long run, the wedding often turns out to be for everyone BUT the marrying couple. They are exhausted afterwards! One way to mentally judge how much the actual marriage means to a bride or groom is whether or not they are looking at the marriage as nice, but something to be gotten through so they can be together 'at last.' If they are looking past that wedding with anticipation of a life with each other, that is a good sign.
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