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Posted July 8th, 2016 by Seed Artistic Director
by Tim Goddard
This spring, I had the opportunity to lead a Community Group focused on marriage. Making use of both Pastor Brent’s “Discipleship Coaching” resources and the Meaning of Marriage Bible Study by Tim and Kathy Keller, we spent about 14 weeks exploring what it means to be like Christ in our marriages, and working in very specific ways to become more like Christ in that context.
What I learned through that process could fill far more than a blog post, but I wanted to share the underlying theme that I saw over the course of the group. This theme emerged from the other group members, scripture, the study resources, and my own experiences as I worked to put God’s word into practice in my relationship with my wife.
The theme I found was a relatively simple one:
Christian life in marriage is not fundamentally different from Christian life outside of marriage.
All the instructions in Scripture about how we should interact with other people are just as true within our marriages as they are anywhere else. When we look to the Bible to guide our behavior and decisions in our marriages, we can’t just go to the “marriage parts.” Rather, we have to look to the totality of scripture for guidance. The same wonderful, terrible, impossible call of Christ that holds true in all our other relationships is equally true in my marriage.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t unique aspects to marriage (Sex! Kids! Joint checking accounts!), and the Bible does tackle many of these directly. But the fundamental precept of the Christian life, loving others as Christ loves them, undergirds them all.
In some ways, this makes life easier—we don’t need to compartmentalize the different expressions of our spiritual life in the way it sometimes feels like we do. Marriage, friendship, parenthood, and every other situation answer to the same basic principle: love others as Christ loves us. The strength that Christ offers me to do His will is available just as much in my marriage as anywhere else, and those things that make me a better Christian will also make me a better husband. (And if you are not married, the principle is just as applicable to friendships family, work relationships, dating relationships, etc.)
In other ways, the idea that married love is supposed to imitate Christ’s love makes life harder—we are called to lay down our desires, preferences and comfort not just for people we interact with sporadically, but for the woman with whom we share home, family, meals, bed and life.
But that brings up more good news—presumably, we married our wives because we already loved them enough to commit to this, at least in theory. Marriage serves as an extremely concentrated form of our overall Christian lives, giving us an opportunity to “practice” sacrificial love on a daily basis, and to do so in an environment where there is, hopefully, sufficient grace and love on both sides to buffer you both from inevitable failures.
What does this look like? It looks like putting someone else first, every day, and being Christ to her, so that I can be more like Him. This makes marriage is both participation in the life and love of Christ, and preparation for it, a rigorous training ground for living as Christ did in the broader context of the rest of our lives. And the nature of marriage gives this some intensely practical implications.
The next time you are tempted (as we all are!) to treat your wife badly—whether through neglect, rudeness, impatience or simply taking her for granted—consider two things. First, in that moment, you have an opportunity to act out the incarnational living you are called to by your Savior and the Creator of the universe, and to embody that Savior and Creator within yourself. (Heavy!) Second, in doing so—by doing something as simple as treating well the woman you already cherish and adore—you are putting in place a pattern for yourself, and modeling for yourself the behavior that Christ himself modeled for all of us, the life that shines like a star and by its presence calls unbelievers to glorify God.
Posted May 13th, 2016 by Seed Artistic Director
by: Jeff Krabach
“Real men do not cry.” That is what I heard growing up. Not just from my dad but other men in my life. I grew up in a house where we initially showed a great deal of love toward one another. But as we grew up, we were encouraged as boys to keep our emotions to ourselves more and more. I watched as the emotional bond of our family was slowly diminished. Boys who once kissed their mother goodbye for the day no longer even felt comfortable uttering the words “I love you” to one another or anyone in the house. It was not manly to express such emotions was the message the world was telling me.
I read John Eldridge and his hypermasculine take on life. This only further solidified my thinking that real men do not show much emotion; otherwise they might just be the nice guy and no one respects the nice guy. The nice guy is a wimp and needs to “man up.” Being a real man meant being epic and doing something amazing. It most certainly did not mean sharing your emotional state with other men around you.
It all did not sit right with me. There was this nagging sense that I was misunderstanding God’s view of our emotions. But where could I turn to discover the truth? Certainly the Bible speaks of emotions. So, I turned to Scripture and I looked to the Book of Psalms. And what did I find? Plastered all over the Psalms were . . . emotions. I recently started to go through the Psalms and just wrote down all the emotions I could see. Here is a sample of the emotions and the author who wrote the Psalm:
As anyone can see, David wrote a large number of psalms that express various emotions ranging from abandonment to confidence, affliction to comfort, trouble to joy, strength to weakness, and so on. There are nearly no emotions which we experience as humans which David does not express in the psalms. The list I have here is only from the first 40 some psalms.
So what does David’s expression of emotions in the psalms have to do with manliness? Well David was certainly a man’s man. He is one of the manliest guys in the entire Bible. I think Samson might be the only other dude in Scripture who can compete with David’s manliness. David was a warrior. Songs were sung of how David slew tens of thousands (1 Samuel 18:7). Of course he is famously known as slayer of Goliath (1 Samuel 17). He was a leader of men who also were mighty warriors who completed epic deeds in the name of the Lord (1 Samuel 23:8-39). He was a brave man who once took his men and together with them killed 200 Philistines just to collect their foreskin so that he could marry king Saul’s daughter (1 Samuel 18:17-29). This guy was a badass.
There are many other ways in which David showed he was a manly man. He was a master planner, a lover of women, a brother-in-arms, wealthy and more. But David also did things that some might not considered manly. He played the harp (1 Samuel 16:23) which is not considered the manliest of instruments. He wrote extensive amounts of poetry as witnessed in the Book of Psalms. He also vigorously danced so much so that he embarrassed his wife (1 Samuel 6:16). This manly man was a gentle shepherd boy but also a shepherd boy who slew lions and bears (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
This was the man who wrote much of the Psalms. Psalms in which we see him cry out to God in his distress and fear. Psalms where we see him overwhelmingly express his joy for the Lord. Psalms where he feels crushed, humbled, and a great heaviness has come over him. Psalms where he pleads for the vengeance of God to smite the wicked who plot against him. Nearly every emotion you can imagine shows up in the Psalms of David.
So what? David was a manly man and he expressed his emotions. He cried and he laughed. He was angry and afraid. I think we can learn from David that as men, we can have a great level of emotion. We can be greatly distressed and even express this distress to others, especially God. We can be so overwhelmed with joy over what God is doing in our lives that we can’t contain it and we dance vigorously or sing praise to God. We can cry over our sins and how they have separated us from the God above who gives us grace and mercy. We can rise up in righteous anger pleading to God to smite the wicked that have forsaken Him and cause injustice in the world.
Our emotions are part of us as men. We like to pretend that they are not. We are strong of course. We need to show the world that we are not shaken by anything that is thrown at us. But in reality, we are beings of emotion that need to express our hearts to our God and to one another. David did not back off and worry that others might think he wasn’t manly. He was man enough to be comfortable to express his pain and sorrow. We have valid emotions, we can show them and still be men.
So the next time someone in your life tells you that “real men don’t cry,” think of David—the man’s man who expressed the emotions of his heart in poetry and through his life. Men, we are allowed to cry. We are allowed to laugh. We are allowed to be angry. We just need to make sure that in the end we still serve our one lord and master, Jesus Christ. Let us express our hearts but let’s not allow the emotions to rule us either. David spoke out his heart but in the end he was always loyal to the one true king of his life, Christ.
Posted April 4th, 2016 by Seth MacGillivray
Recently, a woman wrote an article complaining that she was “sweat-shamed,” a term she made up to articulate how persecuted she apparently felt when someone noticed she’d been sweating after a run. This is not a new phenomenon: we’ve heard the “shaming” word with increasing frequency over the last couple of years. Fat-shaming, fit-shaming, trans-shaming, selfie-shaming, slut-shaming, body-shaming, period-shaming, passenger-shaming…. You name it, someone’s claiming it.
The question is: why? Why the precipitous rise in victimhood? Why do people so quickly want to take up the mantle of the shamed, of the oppressed?
At first, I thought it had to do with a lack of any real adversity. Those who use social media are, for the most part, uniquely positioned in a time and place in history of relative peace and prosperity. North Americans and Europeans (from which most of these stories come) enjoy safety and security to the point where obesity—not starving—is one of the largest health concerns of the day. Without legitimate challenges, any perceived slight can be elevated in one’s mind to the level of substantive danger, however frivolous it may actually be.
However, while this may explain the perception of persecution, it still doesn’t explain why so many are quick to trumpet said perception.
Then it struck me. It’s not the victimization that people are drawn to; it’s the triumph over the adversity. People want to be heroes, but the inertness of modern life precludes most from ever having that opportunity. Before social media, the only way to be heroic was to actually accomplish something heroic. Rescue a child from a burning building. Fight in a war. March for civil rights. Lay down your life for another. It cost you something to be a hero, and there was typically very little accolade that followed.
Today, it seems you can be a hero simply by overcoming some form of perceived discrimination. Become a victim, then show everyone how brave you are by recovering your dignity. Write a blog about how you felt shamed by a slight (real or imagined), and it may just go viral, and there will be no shortage of people telling you how brave you are for speaking out.
The problem is, in doing so, you’ve diminished the plight of actual victims, and you’ve diminished real heroism. If everyone is a victim, then no one is a victim. If everyone is a hero, then no one is a hero.
Let’s celebrate those who take up the cause of the oppressed at great risk. Let’s support those who were real victims of real crimes, and have dedicated their lives to helping those who continue to be victimized. Malala Yousafzai was shot 3 times for her fight to allow girls to get an education in a Taliban-controlled region of Pakistan. Betty Makon was raped and orphaned as a young girl, and is now leading the charge to save girls from rape and exploitation in Zimbabwe. Doctors Without Borders brings medical care to the poorest and most war-torn regions of the world, where people are victimized by war and natural disasters. The Innocence Project is a group of lawyers who use DNA evidence to free wrongfully convicted people from a life in prison and even from the death penalty. REST is a Seattle-based organization that works to rescue women in the sex-trafficking industry.
There are real victims, and there are real heroes. Being sweaty from a run—then writing a blog about it—neither makes you a victim nor a hero. You’re just a narcissist with stinky armpits and a computer.