Fireproofing Your Relationships
My wife Linda and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to attend, last weekend in the Lake of the Ozarks, an uplifting marriage retreat with forty-three other couples. Mark Broyles, who preaches for the Nashua church of Christ in Kansas City, masterfully lead us through several classes focused on our marriages. Built around the themes from the movie Fireproof. we were encouraged to never leave our partner behind.
If you have the opportunity to attend one of these weekends, I highly commend it to you. I know that you will come away having been built up in the faith and drawn closer to your God and to your spouse! Mark and wife Judy have been conducting similar weekends since 2000. Linda and I have attended three of those. They now conduct these workshops under the banner of non-profit corporation, InLight, Inc. Through InLight, they have undertaken the ministry of preserving and strengthening traditional marriage as it continues to face attack from our culture and media. Their goal is to conduct two of these seminars per year in different regions of the country. Upcoming scheduled events are: Chattanooga, TN on March 12th-14th, 2010 and Howie-In-The-Hills, Florida on July 30th – August 10th, 2010. Please support this worthwhile ministry through financial support of their work and/or attendance at their marriage retreats. For more information, visit their website at www.inlightwalk.com.
If you have not seen the movie Fireproof, I would recommend it for the important message that it delivers about the importance of relationships in our lives. Though the film focuses on the marriage relationship, the principles apply to all of our relationships. May we get personal now, dear reader? Let’s consider a few of these.
Are you fireproofing your relationship with your God?
There are “forces” at work to attack your relationship with your Creator. Led by him who is identified in scripture as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), these forces (Ephesians 6:12) seek to undermine the influence that God has in your life. He will use anything in his power to draw you away. He utilizes the same avenues of presentation to you that he used with Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), “the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in posessions.” (1st John 2:16)
He uses those things that are impure within and of themselves to drain your energy, waste your time and divert your attention. Dabbling in internet pornography, gambling, “carousing,” (NKJ) and “revelings” (NASB, ESV) (2nd Peter 2:13), and a host of other things fall into this category. But when those things fail to bring you down, Satan uses activities that are pure and upright in themselves, and based in motivation to serve God, to cause you to place more emphasis on these than you should, to the neglect of service to Him. Working to support your family, pursuit of sports for yourself and your kids, vacation travel and other things can all fall into this category.
Are you fireproofing your child-parent relationship?
If you are not careful your family relationships may go up in fire as well. Fathers have you taken seriously your role as spiritual leader of your family? Have you paid as much attention to the spiritual development of your children as you have to their physical and academic development?
The “Promise Keepers” message to the men of America, who have abdicated this role, is right on! Though I would not agree with all of their methods, I wholeheartedly agree with this message, that we as men must rise up to our challenge to protect our kids from Satan and his devices and to lead them, as positive spiritual role models, to Heaven.
Young people, do you value and appreciate the sacrifices that your parents make to bring you up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”? Do you understand that they often agonize with concern for your welfare? Do you express to them your love and allow them to express their love to you?
As a side-note, you can demonstrate that you have a servant’s heart, as a young Christian, to be a help to your friends who do not have such parents. You probably have friends who have very dysfunctional families, who come from broken homes, and who may have been abused by one parent or the other. You show great love for your friends by sharing your godly parents with them.
Are you fireproofing your relationships with your spiritual family?
You neglect a powerful resource for living the purpose-driven life, when you do not cherish and tap into your relationship with your spiritual family. Local church membership was designed by God to provide the support structure that Christians need to grow and develop as they should. The Apostle Paul talks much about this in his epistles. Ephesians 4:11-16 talks about the role of evangelists and teachers and others in the spiritual family in equipping us to withstand the schemes of false teachers. 1st Corinthians 3:1-3 and Hebrews 5:11-6:6 describe the growth process that should characterize all Christians.
Why do some Christians never progress beyond spiritual infancy? There are a number of factors and many of those relate directly to their relationships in the spiritual family. Failing to assemble with Christians at every opportunity that you have is a subtle way of beginning this downward spiral. But continued assembly in only a public way does not “make the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” to which Paul refers in 1st Corinthians 4:16. We must get to know each other if we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and if we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Beloved, none of these relationships will be what they should be unless they are “cultivated” with great concern, effort and love on our part. Brother Broyles encouraged us to fireproof our marriages. He urged the husbands to not allow the “parasites” of sexual temptation, overcommitment and overconfidence to consume our marriages. Sisters Judy Broyles and Sherri Clegg urged the wives to not allow the parasites of nagging, interfering relationships and lack of sexual fulfillment to consume our marriages. Both husband and wives were encouraged to complement, commit, and show clemency to fireproof our marriages. Just like the relationship between husband and wife, that between brothers and sisters in Christ requires constant attention. We must fireproof our relationships if they are to survive.
My dad would always remind his readers, through the words that he wrote, that he was attempting to be an influence, using his “voice” as a Christian, in a secular culture. This recurring message appeared in the masthead of his electronic bulletin, A Christian’s Voice from Van Buren, “ Man uses his voice and pen to convey thoughts. Paul mentions using words that by his voice he might ‘teach others’ (1 Cor. 14:19). John says, ‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ (Rev. 22:17). My aim is to challenge, inform, and invite – us all to Listen to the VOICE of God. Editor: Bill Sexton.” I agree whole-heartedly with that aim! Thanks for reading with me dear friends. Please resolve to today be a positive influence in the life of others.