It’s All About Relationships

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I remember when our daughters were little, my husband used to tell them, “people are more important than things.”  This lesson usually came about as a way to explain why we need to share with others, behave courteously, keep our promises, etc… Guess what, when you look at the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, our Heavenly Father teaches this, too.

For example, the Ten Commandments are all about relationships.  The first group of commandments tell us what our relationship with God should be like:

  1. Don’t put other Gods before the true God
  2. Don’t make or worship idols (in case you think this doesn’t apply in modern times think about how we can idolize our possessions, our public standing, our money or even our family).
  3. Don’t take God’s name in vain
  4. Keep the Sabbath appropriately

Basically respect God and give Him the proper place in your life.

Then we come to the question of how we must treat other people:

  1. Honor your parents
  2. Don’t commit murder
  3. Don’t commit adultery
  4. Don’t steal
  5. Don’t tell lies about your neighbor (and remember, everyone is your neighbor)
  6. Don’t envy and desire what rightfully belongs to another

In other words, we are not to harm others, even with words or thoughts.  We are to respect and honor relationships with our parents, spouse, and everyone else who comes into our life.

In the New Testament, Jesus reinforces the Commandments and takes them a step further when He says:

“You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and all the prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40

According to Jesus we are not only to respect God and people.  We are not only to do no harm.  We are to love them.  It all comes back to relationships, and it all comes back to love.

Paul, Barnabas & Timothy

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Maybe you’re wondering what these three names have in common, or how I’m going to write one post that deals with these very different men.  Well, here goes.  I once read that every Christian needs three kinds of people to help them mature in their faith.  They need a Paul,  a Barnabas and a Timothy.

Your Paul is a person who mentors you;  someone who is older, or who has been a Christian longer and can guide you in making wise decisions.  For many years my Paul was my Pastor.  We met regularly and talked about what I was studying, my prayer life and ways I could serve.  He always encouraged me to stretch a little and gave me suggestions.

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 11:1

Your Barnabas is a spiritual friend and equal;  a person who walks by your side.  I’ve blogged about my friend, Nancy.  She has filled this role for me for many years now.  My reunion group sisters fall into this category as well.  These are the people who listen to me, pray for me, and support me.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

A Timothy is somebody you can teach.  I hope that my daughters and my granddaughter feel they have learned something about being a Christian from my example, imperfect as it is.  I actually think of myself as a rather “teachy” person, and I love nothing more than passing on whatever knowledge and understanding I have to others.  I see the Lutheran Ladies Connection as just one opportunity to do this.

“Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life;  make them known to your children and your children’s children …” Deuteronomy 4:9-10

How about you?  Do you have at least one Paul, Barnabas and Timothy?

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

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Perhaps you think of this as a hymn about marriage.  In researching, however, I found that it really speaks of the love between a Pastor and his congregation.  It was written by John Fawcett, who was born in 1740 in Yorkshire, England.  As a young tailor’s apprentice he became a Christian, and was often asked to speak at the Baptist church he attended.  When he was 25 and newly wed, he was asked to pastor a small church in Wainsgate.  The parish was quite poor, and often John and his wife were paid in potatoes and other produce.  It was hard to make ends meet.  After seven years at Wainsgate, he received a call from a larger, more prestigious congregation, able to pay him a much higher salary.  The family packed up to leave, but in the end, his wife, Mary said she didn’t see how they could leave the people who had come to mean so much to them.  John wrote this hymn as an expression of that love.

Graceful Relationships

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Sarah’s post on symbiosis told us that relationships are a two way street.  If we want our relationships to survive and thrive, we have to extend a little grace — that’s a word we Lutherans like to use, which basically means getting something you didn’t earn and don’t deserve.  There are times in every relationship when we have to be willing to put aside our own needs and sacrifice for the other.  There’s a great “how to” section in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  You’ve probably heard this many times, but have you really thought about it?

“Love is patient and kind”

Am I patient with my friend, even when she forgets my birthday?  Or goes on and on about her favorite topic (which doesn’t interest me)? Am I kind and willing to listen to her problems, even on the days I’m tired and really don’t want to talk at all?

“love is not jealous or boastful.”

Am I sincerely happy for my brother when he gets a promotion while I am struggling financially?  Can I congratulate him without bringing up my latest success?

“it (love) is not arrogant or rude”

Am I respectful and courteous to the people who serve me at the restaurant, the bank, the grocery store?  Do I ask how their day is going?  Or do I ignore them in my rush to get on with my other errands?

“Love does not insist on its own way”

Do I give my husband and children a say in our family life and daily routines?  Or do I expect them to go along with my preferences?

“it (love) is not irritable or resentful”

Am I understanding when my co-worker needs extra time off?  Or do I feel put upon and angry?

“it (love) does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do I try to put the best interpretation on the behavior of others?  Am I will to forgive them when they’re wrong and keep encouraging and believing in them?  Or do I give up and walk away?

In all our relationships, the greatest asset is love.  Use it daily.

 

Improve Your Health, Make a Friend

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God did not make us to be alone.  Studies bear this out (not a surprise.)  Here are some of the ways that relationships help to make and keep us healthy.

What are the benefits of friendships?

Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

In Marriage Relationships #2

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“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely hind, a graceful doe.”  Proverbs 5:18

Beth Ann’s post got me thinking about my own marriage, also one which has also required perseverance.  We’re both strong willed, complicated people.  Over the years we’ve had financial problems, problems with teenagers, conflicts with relatives, disagreements with each other, job stress, depression, anxiety, etc.. It seems like just when one area straightens out, a new problem crops up.  That’s life, I guess. Or at least life in a sinful world.  Yet we’ve managed to stick with it for 46 years.  As older folks, we’ve reached a kind of contented plateau.  The kids are grown and on their own;  careers are over or winding down.  Finances are settled, for better or worse.  Instead of striving for the next big thing, we’re looking back at how we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished …and for the most part, we’re satisfied.

One special thing about a long marriage is knowing so many different aspects of your spouse.  Yes, I could be widowed and marry again, but nobody but Terry would remember me as a teenager, a college student, or a young mom.  No other husband would share the birth of my children, my first “adult” job, all the years of growing in Christ and so much more.  I once read a book where the main character said something like this, “in this house we are not just two old people — we are all the people we have ever been.”

Like Beth Ann, I wish I could convince people, it’s worth the hard work.  If you are married to the love of your youth, rejoice!  Let’s hear from some other lady bloggers, what do you have to tell us about the marriage relationship?

In Marriage Relationships

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Marriage is like taking that huge step off a cliff and not knowing how it’s all going to end.  But for most marriage starts with two people, deeply in love, that commit to stay with each other until death do us part.  We have stars in our eyes and we know that life is going to be so wonderful.  Then the problems start.

Most marriages today don’t have the commitment factor that they used to.  Yes, I know that people have stayed in miserable conditions just because they married the person they have come to hate.  It takes two to commit together, two to stay together.  Two hearts need to stay as one.  During the wedding God knits two totally separate people and makes them one.

Now, my marriage wasn’t the greatest.  Both my husband and I had problems.  We actually separated for awhile and then came back together.  We learned to live together and we had a good relationship.  Was it the wonderful lifetime that I imagined when we stood at the altar, no.  It was hard work, but we made it through.  My husband has been gone for over two years now and I can look back and see all the good and bad.  One of the good things is that we were committed to keeping the vows, to stay together through it all.  And we did.

This song by Andrew Peterson totally pulled at me from the first time I heard it.  It is so truthful.  We should take the words to heart.  We shouldn’t just walk (or tiptoe) through the minefields in a marriage, we should go dancing through them.  Sail through the storms.  Knowing that Jesus is the Lord of the relationship should cause us to rejoice.  So, let’s go dancing!!

The Ways We Worship

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Read this post from my husband’s blog to understand why it’s important to worship with others.

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I’m preparing a few lessons for the adult Sunday School class on Lutheran worship–why we do it the way we do.  Now I’m perfectly aware that not all Lutherans organize their worship lives in the same way, and that’s generally okay with me.  But there are some things that I think must not be left out if our worship is to accomplish its principle goals.

Before we discuss the “ingredients” of proper worship we should probably say why we gather for worship at all.  Couldn’t we just be independent Christians happily reading our Bibles and meeting occasionally with friends to pray?  Well, the writer of Hebrews seemed not to believe that to be a good idea because he tells us we are not to cease to meet together as some have done. (10:25)  So Biblically  speaking, we are to gather with other Christians for worship.

There’s a funny web site…

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