Two Are Better Than One

The phrase that stands out for me in Chapter 4 of Ecclesiastes is “two are better than one.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9.  To get the entire idea you must read further:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Of course, this is a section of Scripture often read at marriages.  Having just celebrated my 49th anniversary, I certainly agree that life has been better with a companion to walk and stand with me, to help me up when I feel weak or discouraged.

However, I think it also appeals to me because teamwork is one of my core values (see L. A. T. C. H. On To Your Core Values). I’ve seen T-E-A-M used as an acronym to say “together everyone accomplishes more.”  I truly enjoy working with a group, and  I’ve completed projects with other people that I would never have considered doing on my own.  Genesis tells us:

“The LORD God also said, “It is not good for the man to be alone….”Genesis 2:18

We were created to be in relationship with others — and with God!  That’s the reason “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  God strengthens any relationship He joins.  In fact, without God, our ties to one another quickly fall apart.  Only with God’s help can we remain forgiving, self-sacrificing, and loving.

If you have a spouse, a dear friend, a helpful co-worker, a cherished sibling, give thanks!  Two are always better than one!

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see:

A Time to Die

Hoping for Something New?

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

 

Martin Luther on the Apocryphal Book of Tobit

We’ve been studying the Apocrypha in Sunday School, and I posted previously on what the apocrypha is What is the Apocrypha?.  I came across this quote from Martin Luther about the book of Tobit, and thought our readers might find it of interest, as I did.   Evidentally Luther found some moral value in this book, remembering, of course, that the Apocrypha is not Scripture.

Tobit shows how things may go badly with a pious peasant or townsman, and there may be suffering in married life, yet God always graciously helps and finally crowns the outcome with joy, in order that married folk should learn to have patience and, in genuine fear of God and firm faith, put up gladly with all sorts of hardships because they have hope.” (Martin Luther in his Preface to the Book of Tobit)

For more quotes from Martin Luther about marriage, see these posts:

Martin Luther on Marriage

Martin Luther on Marriage #2

Martin Luther on Marriage #3

Martin Luther on Marriage #4

 

What is Enough?

I was recently watching a television program about therapy. A therapist was counseling a married couple. He told them that he observed that their relationship had started with a great deal of passion, and that they were still passionate people. However, passion was not enough to sustain a lifelong relationship. “What is enough?” inquired the wife. The therapist’s reply– “I don’t know.”

I’m not trained in this field, but I do know the answer to the question:  God.  God is the component that makes it possible for two flawed and sinful human beings to remain faithful to one another for life.  Listen to these words from Ecclesiastes:

” Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In case you haven’t thought about it, the third strand in the cord is God.  God did not mean for us to be alone.  In Genesis we read:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Genesis 2:18

The helper God gave Adam was needed to complete him–to make him whole.  Adam acknowledges this saying,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24

When something becomes part of your very being, it is not meant to be removed.  Parting is an amputation of sorts.  This kind of relationship was possible for Adam and Eve because their relationship with one another started with and was based upon their relationship with God.  Sin changed things, but the foundation remains.  To love one another, we must love God and ground ourselves in Him.  That’s the way it can last.  That’s enough.

For more on marriage see these posts:

Thanks for Husbands!

Marriage: A School for Forgiveness

In Marriage Relationships

 

New Month/New Theme

The month of June makes me think of graduations and weddings.  At first glance, graduation seems like an ending — the end of life as a student.  Weddings on the other hand are a beginning — the beginning of a marriage.  But wait — every ending in life means a new beginning and every beginning means that something is over.  They’re tied together, birth and death, joy and sorrow;  and God is with us through all the changes.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”  Romans 8:38-39

So this month, I thought the Lutheran Ladies (and our readers) would enjoy contemplating all of those beginnings and endings.  They’re going on every day, all around us.  What has ended for you this year?  What has started?  Are you a new person in some way you never imagined?  What lies ahead?  What have you had to leave behind?  Are you grieving?  Are you excited?  Are you anxious?

Let’s explore life’s changes together, in the presence of God.  He loves you and so do I!

Of course, there may be times when we will blog “off-topic” as the Spirit leads us.

Loving Motivation

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  II Timothy 3:14-15

This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me.  It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith.  What was their motivation to do so?

For many people, learning starts at home at a young age.  Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you.  Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.”  Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,”  family love, duty, affection.  This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring.  Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  II Timothy 1:5

Growing in faith can be part of married life also.  “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union.  How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ?  This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do.  Peter says:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…”  1 Peter 3:1

Then there are our friends.  With them we share “philea” or brotherly love.  In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.”  Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them.  Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ.  We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.

Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did.  Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others.  This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.

So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching.  No wonder the Bible says “God is love.  How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it?  Think about the many people from whom you have learned.  Give thanks for their love.

 

 

Taking Care of Our Spouse

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”

In the beginning, God saw that Adam needed companionship, so He gave him a gift.  He gave him a wife, Eve, who became the mother of his children.  Sometimes we forget that our spouse is a blessing, and we’re meant to take care of that blessing wisely just as we’re called to be stewards of everything God has given us.

My husband and I have been married for almost 46 years.  After all that time, it’s easy to become complacent, to settle into familiar routines, and to take one another for granted.  It’s so much easier to complain than to appreciate. I certainly am guilty of feeling aggrieved about the few things my husband doesn’t do for me while ignoring the many things he does. When I fall into this sinful thinking I need to remember this scripture about how God expects us to relate to one another:

“Submit to one another, out of reverence for the Christ.”  Ephesians 5:21

Submitting means to yield our own rights.  In other words, put the other person first. Think about what is best for them.  I’m sure many quarrels (and even divorces) would be avoided by following this simple advice. The verse also tells us WHY we need to do this — it shows respect for the other person, but also respect and reverence for Christ.  It shows our gratitude for the great gift God has given.  Think about it.  How do you feel when you give your child a new bike, only to find he has it out in the rain to rust?  How do you feel if a week or a month after getting the bike of his dreams, he’s wishing for a different model?  That’s not the way to treat a gift.  No parent would be happy with such behavior.

If you are married, give thanks today for your spouse — a gift and a blessing from God.

 

Obey Your Husband

The other day, my mother-in-law tried to give me a new cat. After consulting with my husband, it was clear that he felt an extra animal was just too much to take on right now. When I broke the news to her, she replied that it didn’t matter if Nick said no. I should just bring it home anyway- lol. My response was that we are instructed in the bible to obey our husbands:

Ephesians 5:22-24

“Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord.The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.”

A lot of people take this quote and say that it is “backwards” or “outdated”. If I read this quote only, I might be inclined to agree. However, further in the text it states:

Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, …

So while the bible does instruct us to obey our husbands, it also states that a husband should love his wife as equally as his own body, so that any decision he makes would have her best interest at heart. Most decisions in a relationship are joint decisions, but inevitably there will be times when husband and wife cannot agree. In those times, I listen to this text and respect my husband’s decisions as much as I would my own. Interested to hear what everyone else’s thoughts/interpretations of this text are?

 

Martin Luther on Marriage #4

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Day 7 Quote. Martin Luther on Marriage: 7 quotes in 7 days. Martin lovingly called his wife “Kitty, my rib” and declared marriage “a school for character.” #write31days

In Marriage Relationships #2

“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

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!!