My Third Guest Post

August 22, 2012

Below is my final guest post for Power of the Home. I hope you enjoy it!

For this final post, I’d like to discuss some of the ways that 365 Acts of Love has shaped my relationship with and understanding of God.

(1) First off, through 365 Acts of Love, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for me. Before 365, I could tell you all about Christ’s sacrifice—what he accomplished through it, what that meant for me, how that should affect the way I live, etc. I even had an idea of what it was like for him to go through such a sacrifice since I myself had made some (minor) self-sacrifices.

But through 365, I sacrificed more deeply for another person than I ever had before. It forced me to make huge changes to my day, and even my lifestyle, in order to love my wife. Those sacrifices gave me a deeper experiential knowledge of the nature of sacrifice, and consequently, a deeper understanding of what Christ went through in dying for myself and others.

Furthermore, the personal and tangible nature of my sacrifices made me realize how personal and tangible Christ’s sacrifice was. Christ, a real person, gave up his position in heaven to suffer and die in space and time on my behalf. He felt the pain of whips, the weight of the cross, and the sting of nails; the pain of wrath, the weight of sin, and the sting of betrayal. Compared to his sacrifice, mine are negligible. Even so, Christ’s sacrifice for me has become more real as I’ve experienced some of the pain (and joy) of serving my wife.

(2) I’ve grown deeper in my relationship with God. Because 365 is such a huge project, I’ve really had to rely on God to get through it. As part of that, I’ve been driven to prayer over and over and over this year which in turn has drawn me closer to God. I’m not saying that my relationship with him is perfect: I have such a long way to go that it’s not even funny (seriously, I’m not laughing right now). But at least I’ve made some progress.

(3) Finally, 365 Acts of Love has helped me view God less as an abstract, impersonal object and more as a person.

Before I explain this, allow me to give you a little of my backstory. I grew up in a Christian home, but it took me a while to make my faith my own. When I got to college, I realized that I didn’t have much evidence for thinking that Christianity is true. Naturally, doubts about my belief system cropped up in my mind. I eventually realized that I needed to investigate the truth claims of Christianity for myself to determine whether or not I should keep believing in it.

After much investigation, which involved some serious sacrifices of time and money for my wife and me, it seemed to me that Christianity was true. So I continued to believe in it. Even so, accepting it had more to do with accepting certain propositions as true than it did with developing a relationship with God. Furthermore, I think I (unintentionally) viewed God himself as more of a proposition or a concept than a person.

Over time, though, God became more personal to me as I attempted to grow closer to him. This relates to my blog in the following way. 365 Acts of Love expedited my transition from viewing God as a concept to viewing him as a person. It seems that a catalyst for this change stemmed from the fact that I began to view my wife more like a person, which was a result of 365 Acts of Love. Basically, 365 forced me to treat my wife with more respect and show her more love—that is, it forced me to treat her more like a person. As it did this, I began viewing her more like a person. And somehow, this affected my view of God. I really began to see him as someone with reason and emotions and desires and a will, as someone I could relate to. I don’t know why the change in perspective toward my wife changed my perspective of God, but it did.

Overall, I can’t believe how far-reaching the effects of 365 Acts of Love have been. And I’m sure it has been more effective than I realize and will continue affecting things for the better. I’m so thankful that I chose to do it.


True Men

June 13, 2012

My last two posts on being a man haven’t been very serious. I don’t actually think that manliness is defined by things like blowing stuff up, gutting fish, eating bacon, and lifting weights. Men can still be men while having a variety of interests. Men also come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and from many different backgrounds.

But there’s one thing all true men have in common: they submit to God’s authority. This submission includes living with integrity and being faithful, gracious, forgiving, and loving. It includes putting others before oneself, being willing to die for others, and even dying to oneself for others on a daily basis. Real manliness requires (among other things) service to others and submission to God.

Though I’m trying to become a true man, in this lifetime I’ll always be striving, never achieving. Though I can get closer to what God demands of me (i.e., perfection), I’ll never attain it. And I’ll never get anywhere without God’s grace.

One day, though, Christ will return to bring justice to the earth. On that day, he’ll perfect those who’ve submitted to him. On that day, Christ will transform me into the man he intended me to be.

For now, I’ll strive, by God’s grace, to become a truer and truer man until that bright and dreadful morning when Christ sets all things right.

Day 246: Piper Sermon

June 2, 2012

In my attempt to learn more about what God requires of husbands, on Thursday I listened to John Piper’s sermon called “God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace.” In it, Piper claims that I, as a husband, should show you grace since God in Christ showed me grace. In addition, he claimed that if I make gratitude for God’s grace a focal point of my life, it will be easier for me to be gracious to you.

Whenever I sin–whenever I act pridefully, selfishly, in lust, with anger, or whatever–I betray God by denying him his rightful place as king over my life. I essentially tell the king of all things that he cannot be king of my heart. And the penalty for such betrayal is death. Well, Christ took my penalty upon himself and made me right with the king. Given that, I should live in gratitude to God and in recognition of his grace.

When you commit something against me or irk me in some way, how can I not show you grace when I’ve been granted grace abundance? If I’ve been forgiven such a debt, how can I not forgive you your debts?

On Thursday night, you did something to make us late to a dinner party. I was incredibly irked by that and let you know–almost the entire way to the party. Even as I did, though, Piper’s sermon was in the back of my mind. Finally, I was able to calm myself down and ask for your forgiveness for getting so upset.

It’s unbelievable how perturbed I can get by the small things you do against me when God forgave me for the cosmically wretched things I’ve done against him. May I eventually be so grateful for God’s grace that I cannot help but show you grace.

Day 219: Reflecting Christ

May 7, 2012

On Friday, I read Ephesians 5:25-33 to us:

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, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

In this passage, husbands are being called to a high (impossible?) standard: to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Although I might never have the opportunity to die for you, I’m called to sacrifice for you daily.

What are some ways I can do this? When you’re tired and would benefit from relaxing a bit, I can watch the kids. When you’re sick, I can take care of you. When we come home from grocery shopping, I can bring our food in for you. When you want to watch Pride and Prejudice but I want to watch LOTR, I can say to the former, “Yes. A thousand times yes!” When we’re both in bed and we realize that we left the back door unlocked, I can get up to lock it. When you need someone to talk to, I can put aside whatever I’m doing to listen. When I’m exhausted but haven’t done my act of love for the day, well, dagnabbit, I can stay up until I do it. I can give you a massage even when I don’t feel like it. I can remain faithful to you and pure. I can work hard, day after day, to provide for you. I can put your needs above my own. I can regard you as more important than myself. I can do all this in order to serve you, not to gain points with you or in expectation that you’ll do something for me. I can do these things and much more because I love you. And I can do them as long as we live.

And if I do these things, my love might just dimly reflect the unsurpassingly great love that Christ showed for us.

Day 81: Am I Just Whistling Dixie?

December 19, 2011

For my 82nd act of love, I humbled myself before you by giving you this apology letter:

Dear Wifey,

This weekend I didn’t love you as I should. Though you showed me grace, I often spoke carelessly and acted inconsiderately. Our weekend was great, to be sure, but it would have been better if I hadn’t acted selfishly. Will you forgive me?

I love you and wish I would continually treat you well. May I rejoice in you–a loving doe, a graceful deer. May I ever be intoxicated with your love (Prov. 5:18-20). May you be more pleasing to me than wine  (Song of Sol. 4:10). As Christ gave up himself for the church, may I give up myself for you (Eph. 5:25).


Your Husband

As the letter indicates, I had a tough time loving you this weekend (but you’re so darn lovable!). Selfishness and pride flowed out of me, though not as freely as before 365 Acts of Love. May I consistently love you, not just act lovingly once a day for 365.

Not only is it tough to consistently love you, it’s tough to consistently do 365. Every day I have to plan a new act of love, execute it, and write about it. But as Coldplay says in their whiny tone: “Nobody said it was easy.” In addition, isn’t this exactly what I wanted: to daily consider and mull over and reflect on how to love you? Still, it’s tough.

But consider what God did for us. When he said he loved us, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie–his love resulted in actions that cost him greatly. The Lord of all creation made himself a servant. The Creator became a creature. The all-powerful God became a helpless babe in order to be slain for us. Consider this passage from Philippians 2:

[Christ] . . . being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Truly, the incarnation is evidence of God’s great and sacrificial love for us (I Jn. 4:9).

What’s the evidence of my love for you? Am I moving beyond just whistling Dixie? Let’s put consistent action to these words of mine! Though it’s tough, I need to will to love you in spite of my desire to be selfish. I cannot do this without God’s grace. By the end of the year, perhaps God will so mold my thoughts and desires, that willing to love you will be second nature. Or if not, perhaps it will be easier than it is now.

PS: I must give credit to our pastor for inspiring this post with his sermon.

Day 47: Breaking Bread

November 15, 2011

For yesterday’s act of love, I lead us through the Lord’s Supper. After we put the older girls to bed and our newborn was asleep, I set our table up with a candle, two glasses of Martinelli’s, and two pieces of a baguette. We quieted ourselves before God as I read Matthew 27, which concerns the Lord’s crucifixion. After reading this passage, we silently confessed our sins and expressed gratitutde for God’s grace. Next, I read I Corinthians 11:23-29 as we took the bread and the cup. Our time together was solemn and meaningful. I chose this as one of my acts of love because I wanted us to connect spiritually: I wanted us to be broken before God together, to praise God for his grace together, and to walk away from the experience united in our commitment to hate sin and pursue God.

Day 35: Once Upon a Time God’s Grace Found Me

November 3, 2011

Last night I planned on listening to a sermon with you on the Song of Solomon. I thought it would be good for us to reflect on healthy intimacy. You liked the idea, but said you were just too tired. So instead, we watched the pilot of Once Upon a Time while snuggling and holding hands. Instead of listening to a sermon on intimacy, we practiced intimacy.

For my second and third prayer sessions on my day of fast (see day 34), I confessed and repented of my marital failings. Here’s an inkling of those failings. While God never changes, I constantly flip back and forth between putting myself first and putting you first. Lord have mercy on me. While God is wise and his word is truth, I often go against sound judgment and I’ve even lied to you before. Lord have mercy on me. God is full of love, grace, and goodness; I fall prey to selfishness and lust, I keep a record of the wrongs you’ve committed against me, and I’m often just plain evil to you. Lord have mercy on me. I often think of our marriage simply as an end in itself, rather than something that God can use for his glory. What’s worse, I typically seek my own glory (I want praise for what I do!), not God’s; accordingly, I serve myself rather than you. Save me from my heart, O God! I confessed to God these and many of my other sinful acts and dispositions and asked him to pour on me his mercy and grace.

Thank you, God, for loving a wretched man like me! Once upon a time I was lost. You chased me down. You transformed my heart. Now, I am found, having being adopted into your family. In spite of this, I’m inclined to my wretched ways. May you turn my heart more and more toward you. And as a result, may I love her as you love me.

Day 31: Foot Washing

October 29, 2011

Since our Lord commanded his followers to wash each other’s feet, tonight I washed yours. While you were sitting on the couch, I knelt by your feet with a pot of warm water and a towel and washed your feet.  Afterwards, I massaged them with a lavender salt scrub. You’re becoming very suspicious of my kind acts. At the least, you think my sudden change in behavior is bizarre. I explained to you that I’m trying to show you I love you and you said you’re fine with that!

I have to say: it feels weird writing this blog without you knowing. Sometimes, you walk in the room when I’m on it. My heart races, I sweat, and I get a pit in my stomach. I just hope I can keep this blog a secret because I want to see the look on your face when I tell you about it. I hope it ends up being the blessing of all blessings for you.

Day 24: Christ’s Love

October 23, 2011

After the wedding yesterday, I wrote you this letter:

My Beloved,

As I listened to the wedding ceremony, I considered Paul’s command for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ’s love for us surpasses understanding and includes his excruciating death on our behalf. In our marriage, I have failed miserably to live up to Christ’s standard. Please forgive me. For consistently putting myself before you, forgive me. For my careless and hurtful words, forgive me. For not appreciating the sacrifices you make to let me pursue my dreams, forgive me. For not loving you as I should, forgive me. Please know that I desire to love you sacrificially and I think I’m daily becoming more like Christ (though the likeness isn’t great). Thank you for your patience as I strive to love you fully.

Your Beloved.

Day 7

October 6, 2011

For day 7, I gave you a list entitled “10 Things I Love About You.” As I wrote the list, you kept going in and out of the room. Each time, I would hide the list. You joked: “What are you writing that you need to hide it from me? A list called ’10 Things I Hate About You’?” You didn’t see my list at all. You simply guessed! When I gave you the list, you smiled and said I was sweet. Then you said “Wait, why did you cross out the one that says ‘your skinny . . .’?!” I responded “I wanted to write ‘Your skinny legs,’ but I thought you would say ‘What?! Are you saying my legs are the only skinny things on me?!'”Anyway, here’s the list:

10 Thing I Love About You

(1) Your love for Christ.

(2) Your commitment to our marriage.

(3) Your dedication to our kids.

(4) Your willingness to sacrifice so I can pursue my dreams

(5) Your great attitude toward life.

(6) Your laugh.

(7) Your beautiful brown eyes.

(8) Your long, beautiful, brown hair.

(9) Your love of good books and movies.

(10) Your wonderful smile, which you always wear.