Compassion Sunday (2014)

This morning I took a brief opportunity to listen to one of my favorite songs. I’m not going to say what it is, as there are – how do I put this – some non-Christian lyrics placed throughout this particular song.  Nevertheless, it has some redeeming qualities as well.  For example, the chorus of this track gets me every time. It causes me to hesitate. Think. Meditate. Remember.

What is it that’s being communicated?

“…and at once I knew I was not significant.”

Take just a second to read through that line again. Slowly.

“…and at once I knew I was not significant.”

The songwriter sings this noteworthy line perhaps a dozen times. And I love it.

It makes me remember the grandness of God’s creation. The greatness of His love. The immensity of who He is compared to me.

“…and at once I knew I was not significant.”

Strong words. Indeed.

But there’s something dangerous about this idea of insignificance as well. Sure, we can remember that we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. We can remember that our sins have wronged Him in ways that we can’t even imagine. We can remember that He is God and we are not.

But we must also remember that in His eyes, we are not insignificant. We must remember He bled…for us. We must remember He gave His everything…for us. We must remember we have been created in His image. All of us. Are these indications that God sees us as insignificant?  I don’t think so.

How does this tie in with Compassion Sunday?  Good question.

I’m wondering how many young children around the world may be feeling insignificant. They’re hungry. Thirsty. And making ends meet means they’re able to sleep on a dirt floor.  In short, they’re living in situations you and I cannot possibly fathom. Are they insignificant? Certainly not. Forgotten by much of the world, perhaps. But certainly not insignificant.

Here’s a picture of a Compassion Happiness Ngilegoi Laizerchild my family and I recently took the opportunity to sponsor. Her name is Happiness. Isn’t that wonderful?  She’s 6 years old, and according to Compassion, she sometimes works in the Marketplace or provides child care to help make ends meet. And despite her poverty, she’s anything but insignificant.

This Sunday is Compassion Sunday at SRC. In fact, for the first time ever we’re having a representative from Compassion speak on behalf of their organization. She, too was once a sponsored child and she’s looking forward to sharing her story.

And now, you have an opportunity to begin praying and thinking about the difference you can make in the life of a child. You have an opportunity to provide education, medical care, and so much more. You have an opportunity to sponsor a child.

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the hopeful marriage: the best is yet to come

There’s one question everybody knows they will be asked from time to time.  It’s thought provoking yet simple. Challenging yet straightforward. When you hear it, you know you should have an answer, but few have clarity to answer it well.

“What do you want your life to look like five years from now?”

Since we’ve been discussing marriage the past three weeks, let’s apply this question into the context of your marriage:

“What do you want your marriage to look like five years from now?”

Stop and think about that.  What would be ideal for your marriage? Let’s refrain from thinking of ‘perfection’ (such a dangerous word), and just focus on what would be ideal.  You don’t have to be too specific.  Provide just enough detail so that when you share this with your spouse he/she understands your desires.

How much time will you get to spend together every week?  What will your friendship look like? How will you be growing in holiness together?  What will you do for holidays? Vacations? Family gatherings?

Now, take an opportunity this week to write down your ideas in the form of a story.  Simply title your story, “The Best is Yet to Come…and My Ideal Marriage would be to…” and write it out.  Keep it short.  Under 1,000 words.

Take as long as you want to work on it.  Maybe a day.  Maybe a week.  The more you think through what you really desire in your marriage the more ideal it will be.

Just remember, your spouse is going to be doing this activity as well.  Chances are, they may have different ideas. Different desires. Different expectations.  So here’s what you’re going to do…

After you’ve both had plenty of time to think through things on your own, take an opportunity come together and discuss your thoughts.  Maybe you’ll discover you’re not as far off as you thought.  Maybe you’ll be way off!  Either way, focus your conversation around one simple question: “What changes can we make so that these stories are a reality for our marriage?”

As you discuss it, you’re going to write a new story.  One you both agree on.  The story of YOU gets set aside.  The story of US begins to be written.  Not only do you write it down, you begin to live it out. As you do, your experiences together become magical, not mundane. Expectations become more than normal, they’re natural.  As you live this out you’ll begin to know and be intimate with your spouse in ways deeper than you imagined.  Continue this story long enough, and you may one day help other couples re-write their story.

Don’t get me wrong…

Your story may change from time to time.

It may need to be refined.

In some seasons, rewritten.

But it’s your story, and you’re writing it together.

You’re living it together.

You’re experiencing it together.

Most of all, you’re enjoying it.

Together.

the helpful marriage: marriage as holiness

Last week, we at SRC began a new series on the subject of Marriage. It’s a subject I’m passionate about. Very passionate about. Why? Because the marriage relationship is the one relationship we have on earth that most closely resembles our relationship with Jesus. (Oh, how I wish we were taking more than three weeks on such an important subject!)

Anyway, last week’s message was on “The Helpless Marriage”, and if you haven’t listened to it yet, it’s currently available to download right here. Go on…go and have a listen.

This week, we’re moving forward to “The Helpful Marriage.”

Generally speaking, a helpful marriage seems pretty solid from the outside. It has a husband and wife who get along pretty well. They take care of the family. Pay the bills. And are overall…helpful toward one another. That’s something every marriage should have, right?

But there’s something missing within this type of relationship, too. Sure, things looks good on the outside, but the truth is that neither spouse opens up and shares their life dreams or fears with their partner. It’s even possible that secrets may be being kept. Both individuals may struggle with various weaknesses (or sins) in their lives, and they come to the mutual agreement of, “If you don’t talk about these things in my life I won’t mention these other things in your life.”  They move forward in life with the mindset of, “As long as things look good from the outside, and as long as we help one another raise the family, that’s all that really matters.”

As you know, there’s more to a healthy marriage than looking good. Much more.

One aspect of a healthy marriage is friendship. This was the focal point of the message last week.

Another aspect of a healthy marriage is that the marriage is built on holiness. I know that’s not a word most people use in everyday conversations, but if the marriage relationship truly is a reflection of one’s relationship with Christ, then holiness is the foundation upon which the marriage relationship must be constructed.  Read that one more time just to let it sink in.

If the marriage relationship truly is a reflection of one’s relationship with Christ, then holiness is the foundation upon which the marriage relationship must be constructed.

This weekend we’ll be discussing three areas of holiness within marriage, giving some specific examples as to how each one may be applied within your current marriage.  Until then, feel free to discuss the following questions with your spouse.

  1. What do you think “holiness” looks like in a marriage?
  2. Do you currently think there are any areas of our marriage where we are “helpful” but not “holy”?
  3. How can I help you better become the man/woman God has made you to be this week?

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Questions or comments?  Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.