Hard Word Wednesday – A Happily Ever After Reflection

Truth: If you are married, your marriage is the second most important relationship in your life. Seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, your next priority is your spouse. Not your job. Not your kids. Not your parents, though all these other things rank high on the list of priorities. You’ve pledged yourselves to one another. You’ve promised to love one another for better or worse and in sickness and in health. These are big promises. Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no be no and you’ve said “yes” to your husband or your wife. You are now in this together – to honor the Lord by honoring each other and to honor him by serving him and, if given children, training them to do the same.

Marriage is not easy though. It is a wonderful school for discipleship, a place to learn to give, love, serve, forgive, etc., while also learning we ourselves need grace, a lot of grace. And patience and kindness and gentleness and the list could go on.

I’ve mentioned before a friend of mine’s observation that romantic comedies are more dangerous than pornography because people know porn is fake. The last part might be debatable but he’s definitely on to something. (Most) romantic comedies depict a couple overcoming a major obstacle or conflict so that they can live happily ever after. The problem with this is we see only the one challenge. We don’t see the rest of the conflicts. We don’t see morning breath or morning sickness. We don’t see dirty diapers or dirty dishes. We don’t see screaming children or losing children prematurely. We don’t see unforeseen addictions or unwanted illnesses. We don’t see the bad moods or overly busy days. We don’t see vomit on the floor or financial stress. We don’t see changing bodies and changing faces. We don’t see extra work and not-yet-noticed weaknesses and annoying habits. We don’t see burdensome debt and subtle doubts.

We don’t see that happily ever after takes time, discipline, communication, and commitment. We don’t see that happily ever after might mean difficult days, weeks, or seasons.

But it’s wonderful precisely because God blesses us with all those things to make us more like Jesus. And becoming like Jesus allows us to grow in joy. Together.

Of course, it all begins with the voices we listen to on a daily basis. Whose voice has your attention? Only one matters. And when the two listen to that one,  happily ever after isn’t so far off.



Social Media – Which Voices Really Matter

Almost a week has passed since I challenged you to examine carefully your social media habits. I shared with you what I learned after two days and thought I’d update you here at the end of the week.

I’ve changed plans. Slightly.

Rather than check everyday (and possibly alter my behavior), I’ve decided I might get a more honest assessment by proceeding as normal, checking accounts as I normally would. I’ll take a look tomorrow night at where I stand. I’ve also decided to give it a full month. I’ll continue with a paid subscription for the next thirty days to get an even more comprehensive picture.

Why am I doing this? To see whose voices I’m spending my time listening to and how much time I’m giving them.

Many voices call out to us but only few really matter. And only one exceeds them all.

Listen Well… and Live!

On Mary and Martha and the burdens we (need not) bear:

If one has not listened, one’s service will be life crushing.

If one listens, one’s service will be life giving.

Remember, Jesus’ yoke is easy and burden light.

In him you can find rest for your soul.

Hard Word Wednesday

I’ve got news for you. Your children – your loves, your heartbeat, the center of your universe – they aren’t yours. They do not belong to you. Not ultimately anyway. What’s more is they aren’t even their own.
So here’s the challenge you have as a parent and/or spiritual parent.
“Your” children belong to God. They are his. His creation has been entrusted to you – to lead, care for, nurture, and shepherd – for their good and his glory. Not yours. 
This is not an easy job. It is a task we’ve perhaps taken too lightly, if we’ve even considered it at all.
And here’s the other thing. We won’t lead them well if we aren’t listening to the right voices.
Whose voice has the most influence over you? Whose voice are you teaching them to listen to?
PS Don’t let there be anything more important… Our Leadership Cohort is reading Lead Like a Shepherd. Author Larry Osborne notes how important it is to teach our children well and make and help them make wise decisions and right priorities:

On the other hand, the odds are incredibly high (nearly 100 percent) that he will learn the life lesson that his parents are unintentionally teaching him: church is important . . . unless there is something more important.

Osborne, Larry. Lead Like a Shepherd: The Secret to Leading Well (p. 68). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

What I’ve Learned about My Use of Social Media the Last Two Days

Sunday I challenged you to monitor your use of social media with In Moment or another similar app.
Here’s what I’ve learned about my use of social media the last two days:
Time (spent on my three accounts-FB, Twitter, Instagram):
  • Sunday under an hour
  • Monday just under 40 mins
I check FB. A Lot. But I don’t generally stay on very long. I check Twitter less frequently but scroll more, usually looking for posts by a select few people, organizations, etc.  Instagram-don’t even check it everyday.
Anecdotally, most of my time seems to be spent reading articles I find via social media sites–Christianity Today, the Babylon Bee, The Gospel Coalition, and various news sites. Most of these I could check without social media, going directly to their websites (assuming we don’t consider websites social media, but that’s another conversation).
I will withhold a verdict on whether My use is excessive until a few more days pass.

Are you paying attention? How are you doing?

Reverend John


Joy is not bound by happy circumstances or the pleasantness of the moment. Joy is not opposed to these things but joy abounds in trusting the promises of God, even in the midst of troubles.

The Magnificat, Mary’s beautiful song found in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, is a great reminder of the power of promise. Mary lifts her praise not after water is made wine or the lame given fresh legs or deaf ears opened. Mary lifts her praise not after resurrection or ascension. Instead, the pious maiden rejoices in a day that has yet to arrive in its fullness.

Mary sees the darkness has begun to fade and knows the sun will rise. And she rejoices in the promise of what is to come.

Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” https://www.bible.com/bible/111/LUK.1.NIV