Tag Archives: Marriage

I’m Content

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6 WEB)

No matter what people may think, I’m content with my life, my family, my work and my faith; so, stop telling me I need something more. I was thinking about this while lying awake in bed one morning. When I look at things in my life and consider what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve acquired (physical stuff, experiences, etc.), I’m content. Unfortunately, sometimes, when my frustration over things around me percolates to the top of my patience, I might present a temporary persona that doesn’t portray a contented soul. But that’s another subject.

One of the first things I thought about was my wonderful wife quietly asleep beside me. It’s the precise planning of God that brought us together at the right place and time to embark on an amazing busy, full and fantastic life. Two-thirds of our lives we’ve been together and I’m looking forward with anticipation to undertaking together the next 40 plus years of life and adventure God has planned. Like most married men I know; I often wonder how my love tolerated me all these years. But I’m content knowing God was gracious to me and gives her lots of patience.

We’ve lived through raising four children, watching them leave the nest and start a life of their own with their own families. I like my children’s spouses. I love them all and I believe they like me. Our children are doing well in a variety of jobs. We’ve got service managers, restaurant managers, teachers and soldiers carrying on the family line. I’m proud of them all. They’ve had their problems, we haven’t always seen eye to eye, but as family we work through things. Thanks to them I have a number of grandchildren that I love dearly. I think they love me as well. I know why God gives us grandchildren. It’s to insure we still have that delightful spark of innocence to encourage us in life. They have good and bad days, they’re little children and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m content with my family.

I’ve spent the majority of my life serving and working with the same organization in various places around the globe. I’d like to say everything was rosy and delightful all these years but the truth is there were hard times along with good times. Still, I’m content with what God has been able to accomplish through my work around the globe. More than once I felt ill-equipped for the job. It was then I watched as God stepped in to show His grace and let me know that I can do all things through Him. I can’t say I never had doubts about what I was doing. They would raise their ugly heads now and then until I reset my vision on the one who gives me strength. I can say I never had doubts about God’s calling me to this life. I’m content in my work and ministry.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned to God and asked, “Why?” Sometimes I found the answer. Some questions remain unanswered. I’ve railed at God in my frustration and anger and praised and worshipped Him at all times. Yes, even when I was furious I still worshipped God. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, some things I still don’t understand, but I trust in God in all things. I’m comforted understanding that I can come to God with praise, anger, questions and the small issues of daily life and He listens. He shows me grace, especially in my stupid times. He loves me always, even in my disobedient times. I’m content with my faith in God.

In all this I find myself wondering why I would consider not being content. I can stop and think and realize that this is a great life God has provided and like the verse above I have great gain. Sometimes people think I’m discontent because I’m frustrated with things or get angry over an encounter with massive stupidity. So I wonder if we’re not confusing contentment with emotionless living. Are they the same? I don’t think so. God gave us emotions to help us deal with life on this spinning rock. We can let them get out of hand but to dismiss them as ungodly just doesn’t ring true for me. There are some things, regardless of my godliness or contentment, which I suspect will always increase my blood pressure.

There are inconsistencies in the behavior and reliability of computers, an area I’ve worked with for over thirty years that make me want to test the aerodynamic characteristics of the device from any open window (which I have done). There are vehicle drivers who apparently didn’t attend driving school, forgot all they learned or had incompetent teachers. Some folks standing in line for ten minutes or more to pay for items wait until they reach the counter to fish through their fifty gallon purse looking for their credit card. Sometimes I just sigh and roll my eyes. Other times, for whatever reasons, I just get frustrated or angry.

Then there’s the modern church. As a faithful member of the congregation we’re never doing enough “for God.” We hear preaching about contentment and at the same time a message of “do more” which creates discontent because we’re not doing enough, in the eyes of the local church, to justify our claiming to be faithful believers. Rubbish! I’m concentrating on my walk in this world as a faithful follower of Christ. Just walking faithful with God through normal tivities of life is doing something “for God.” Where that intersects with a church ministry, such as being a full time missionary, I’m glad to go as God leads. I don’t doubt some future heavenly residents might need a little fire under their backside to get them moving but who lights the fire, God or man? Without getting into a pet peeve let me say I’m content with the ministries where God has place me and I’m not looking for more. If He gives more I’ll undertake it. Otherwise I’ll be content with the here and now.

That’s probably where contentment lies. It lies in knowing you are where God wants you to be. It’s understanding the abilities God has given for the particular task and being content that God knows what He’s doing. Does it remove all emotion so we can be like good southerners and just say, “Bless their heart” when they do something ridiculous. At times it might. At other times life boils to the top and we are reminded we are humans, designed with emotions, by a God with emotions, to live in an emotional world. I’m content to live here, with all my foibles, until He takes me to that perfect mansion. Are you content?

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Cultural Differences

To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. Now I do this for the sake of the Good News, that I may be a joint partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:22 23 WEB)

Every time I visit a new country I experience a new culture. Some are very similar to my American heritage. Others are so vastly different that verbal descriptions cannot convey the uniqueness which only experience could realize. Living in Europe we mixed with a plethora of cultures almost daily. Our church was a global melting pot of believers from across the globe. This unique worship environment held together in spite of the broad range of cultures because of the grace of God alone.

One culture, I found greatly different was the Middle Eastern mixture of cultures. This became evident one day when one of our Middle Eastern men asked to speak with Beth. First you must remember God has allowed us to minister to a number of young teachers from the Christian School the boys attended. As surrogate parents we were often closely tied to them in the eyes of others.

p20020309-02_04This young man had observed a lovely young teacher for a number of weeks. In full honesty he wanted Beth, as a mother figure, to arrange a marriage! There was even a discussion of gifts, perhaps camels and goats, to pay the price to acquire his bride. This wasn’t a joke. This wasn’t on hidden camera. This was a young man, enamored with a young lady, following the procedures he was taught throughout his life. This was how it was done in his culture.

Needless to say Beth turned down the offer and kindly let the young man know that this wasn’t how things were done in the young lady’s American culture. The young lady’s response, when Beth called her and told her about the proposal, was a long, loud scream searing the phone lines. In the following weeks I, along with some elders and translators from the church, met and counsel this young man, and others from his homeland, on cultural differences.

When I remembered this event I laughed and I thought of the culture which is part of me. Sometimes I’m understood and other times I must appear as unusual to others as this bartering for a bride appeared to me. In between stands the common ground of our faith in Christ. The young man, and his fellow countrymen, still attend our church and understand their cultural upbringing may not be proper in their new homeland. Still our relationship in Christ binds us together to worship and glorify God week after week.

Sometimes scripture isn’t what we interpret it to mean because of our cultural background. There are times when understanding the Biblical cultural settings helps us know God better. The same is true when working in other countries and with other nationalities. Understanding the cultural differences is critical to a clear understanding of the efficaciousness of the Gospel message.We may not comb our hair the same way, deal with family relationships the same way, or even drive on the same side of the road. In Christ we are one family. There are absolutes in Christianity and there is freedom. Paul knew this when he wrote that he became weak for the weak, and became all things that some might be saved. His Godly absolutes were not tossed aside but his culture was second hand to the importance of proclaiming the saving message of the Gospel.

We need to understand what is our culture and what is our salvation. These two should not be mixed up. One is an earthly boundary the other is a heavenly offering. May we always proclaim the heavenly that others will understand God’s salvation.

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