Marriage, Mountain Climbing & The Olympic Games

August 24, 2012

The following is what I shared at the wedding reception of our eldest son, Brian, who was married to Lindsay, his best friend of eight-and-a-half years on August 11th.

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Like many, if not most of you, we watched the coverage of the 2012 Olympic games. We watched enthusiastically as athletes passionately pursued their Olympic dreams and along with them sensed both their deep joy, excitement and national pride whenever they stepped onto the podium representing their country. We also witnessed their heart-breaking pain and frustration whenever they fell short, sometimes within a mere fraction of a second, or a single point, behind their fiercest competitors.

Married on August 11, 2012 at the Winspear Centre, EdmontonBrian and Lindsay have both been involved in sports over the years, but as far as I know neither have expressed that they have Olympic goals in mind. However, they have experienced the pursuit of worthy goals and have achieved much as individuals as well as in a team environment. As Deanna aptly shared, their own relationship thus far, and their wedding today, is a testimony to their pursuit of the most worthy of goals!

When on our holidays a couple of weeks ago, some of us ventured up the 4.5 kilometer hike beneath the tram on Whistler mountain in Jasper. For a guy who spends the vast majority of my time seated in front of a computer, this proved to be quite a feat in and of itself. As most of you are aware, Brian has gone on many hikes (or more accurately referred to as “Scrambles”) up many of the tallest mountains in the Canadian Rockies. Although I’ve not gone with him on these more engaging adventures, as a family we took our kids on many hikes and camping trips, and so I believe I can take at least some credit for his passion for finding these out-of-the-way, very steep and often challenging hikes.

Today, with the support and blessing of family and friends, they are launching into a whole new adventure that is not to dissimilar to these other sports and athletic pursuits.

So, what do mountain climbing, and pursuing an Olympic medal, have in common with marriage?

Well, all three take a measure of boldness, backbone and bravery, and all three require that one is certain about taking “that first step”, to “get on the track”, or to “take their wedding vows”. All three of these noble pursuits take courage, confidence, consecration and at times focused concentration! With perhaps the exception of mountain climbing, there is always an audience looking on, supporting, applauding, empathizing and sometimes even criticizing our methods, our efforts, our successes and our failures.

A mountain climber, an Olympic athlete and a marriage partner will never succeed in their pursuit of obtaining the prize without tremendous dedication, devotion and determination, and must have a great degree of drive if they are to fulfill what becomes clearer and clearer to them with every milestone — their destiny.

They will inevitably encounter many obstacles in their path and will need to learn how to dig deep to find the energy to face and overcome these hurdles and endure the hardships. In so doing they will gain invaluable experience which will serve them well as they climb ever higher up the ladder toward success.

Like these noble athletic pursuits marriage is not for the faint-of-heart! Brian and Lindsay must face their fears head on and, together, overcome them with fealty, fortitude, faith, and faithfulness, never giving into faintheartedness, or fear, but fight to meet all obstacles with grit, guts and gratitude, knowing that they have what it takes to get the gold!

Anyone who summits a mountain, or wins an Olympic metal, runs the race with a strong sense of purpose, detailed preparation and must have patience, perseverance and persistence! They must resign themselves with unwavering resoluteness and resolve to find the Spirit, the spine and the single-mindedness to stay the course. Without tenacity and the very best tools, success will inevitably be tenuous at best. At times, when all these noble attributes seem to allude us, often all that remains is sheer willpower to simply remain loyal to our initial decision and to stand by our vows.

There are certainly many ways in which marriage can be likened to mountain climbing or pursuing an Olympic medal. But there are also a few ways that they differ as well…

Firstly, depending on the mountain, one can achieve the summit within a few years, a few months, a day or even within a few hours. The Olympics come around every four years and it is not at all uncommon for an athlete to obtain medal standing within a single four-year preparation period. Unlike these comparably short-term goals, a lasting marriage in which a husband and wife become fully and completely of ONE spirit, mind and body, is most definitely a LIFE-LONG pursuit. Brian and Lindsay, today is truly the first step on a journey that will take the rest of your lives to engage in, fully realize and thoroughly enjoy!

Secondly, where the first two athletic pursuits are often an individual journey, marriage absolutely takes a team of two, walking together in agreement, constantly and consistently pulling in the same direction. Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)

And lastly, for two individuals to truly become one, they need character attributes that are often sadly missing in world-class athletes and the most accomplished mountain climbers. These attributes can only be sourced in the God Who created us and Who instituted marriage in the first place. Unconditional Love, faith, trust, grace, mercy, humility, kindness, generosity, mutual surrender, obedience and self-sacrifice are absolute requirements of an intimate, deep and life-long marital union. These are essential and need to be ardently sought after, received and nurtured in both partners, not only to strengthen and ensure the success and strength of your own relationship, but to model and impart to your children when, and as, you (hopefully) raise your own family.

Herb Elliot, one of the world’s greatest middle distance runners, said the following about the Olympic games…

It’s the inspiration of the Olympic Games that drives people not only to compete, but to improve, and to bring lasting spiritual and moral benefit to the athletes, and inspiration to those lucky enough to witness their unwavering dedication.  Herb Elliott

Regarding marriage I offer the following revision to Herb’s quote…

It’s the inspiration of a solid and lasting marriage that encourages our young people to not simply “tie the knot”, but to truly become ONE, bringing lasting spiritual and moral fabric to each other, to their families and to society as a whole! A life-long union is truly an inspiration to those blessed enough to witness such unwavering dedication to God and to one another!

Brian and Lindsay, welcome to the hike, encourage each other in the pursuit, and remain forever committed to this life-long journey, knowing that we are standing with you support you, to pray with and for you, to encourage you, to mentor you and to applaud your success.

May you be forever blessed!

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Build It Right The First Time

August 24, 2012

Last January the younger of our two sons, Justin, was married to his best friend, Sarah. I was invited to share something during the wedding ceremony. The following is what I sensed Father would have me share.

The next post is what I sensed to share at our elder son’s wedding just a few weeks ago. Brian was married to his best friend of 8 and a half years, Lindsay in what was also a wonderful wedding day.

I trust you will be blessed and encouraged by both writings…

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As I pondered what I would share on Justin and Sarah’s special day, I received inspiration when I heard Mike Holmes the other day on the radio being interviewed by Charles Adler. They were talking about quick and cheap building materials and practices to get new home costs down and get them built in a hurry. Unfortunately, many home manufacturers cut corners and what the new home buyers save in cost of manufacturing, they shell out in repairs and redo’s. Justin works in construction and is training to be a journeyman carpenter, so I trust he’s gaining a solid grasp on how to BUILD IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

Proverbs 24:3 says…

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.

1 Corinthians 3 says the following…

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, OR with wood, hay, and straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Jesus said… “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  (Mat 7:21)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  However, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”  (Mat 7:24-27)

It is abundantly apparent, to all who have an ear to hear, that God places GREAT importance on proper building procedures, and our lives must be build to HIS code! It is also clear that believers are as living stones being built together by the Spirit into a holy habitation. God is building his people into a temple in which He, Himself, comes to dwell and take up His residence.

Justin and Sarah, you are about to embark on the greatest and most important building project of your entire lives!

I am confident that what I am about to share, I am speaking on behalf of Sarah’s parents, Don and Pat, as well as all of you willing to stand with them, and therefore take this opportunity to encourage you both to build your marriage relationship using only the very best materials and sound building practices according to HIS design and according to HIS code. I urge you to exercise due diligence and don’t skimp or cut corners, and be sure you have the very Best architect and builder in the entire universe.

His recommendation is that you start with a solid foundation, the only one that will stand up to any shaking that may come…  build on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ, and allow Him to be the corner stone. He is the only firm foundation upon which to build, and the only standard according to which everything else should be aligned.

Upon that sure foundation, lay your floor joists of Trust, Faith, and a solid, eternal Commitment to Him and to one another. Everything else in your relationship, in your family and in your home will securely rest on these foundational principles.

Next comes the uprights, the exterior wall studs. Go out and buy only the very best in tested, tried and true building materials of Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all three of these Godly attributes. David of old knew all about building a kingdom with these principles and gives instruction to his son, Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who ever lived.

Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.

Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. “Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. (Prov 4:7-13)

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast. The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. (Prov 3:13-23)

With the major exterior walls complete it’s time to put the siding on, which will protect your marriage from the onslaught of storms and the elements. Truth is your only real defense against the tactics of the enemy who will come to try to tear down and destroy what you have diligently constructed. And to insulate your relationship from the cold that can creep through the cracks, Honor each other daily with simple, but thoughtful Acts of Kindness, Gentleness, Respect, Giving and Forgiving, Listening, plenty of Patience, and always remember to be Thankful.

The interior walls should be well mapped out so as to provide privacy and create various environments where you can have times alone with God, with family and friends and to explore your own individual giftings, talents and interests.

Doors of opportunity to bless each other, and those around you, will continue to come your way as you exercise Self-Discipline, Sensitivity to The Spirit’s leading, and diligent Obedience to God’s Word. Confidently and boldly walk through these doors that He opens up for you, Trusting Him to establish your thoughts and guide your steps.

As you enter into and remain in fellowship with others, and receive the ministry of the Lord through them, windows will open up that will expand your vision into the ways of God and His kingdom. Place these windows carefully giving you His View of the world around you, and make sure they open easily to allow the Spirit wind to blow through your lives. Keep your windows clean and clear of obstruction allowing the Son to shine in.

Nobody likes to get cold feet, so what you choose as a floor covering is very important also so your talk and walk are always one and the same. As you know your walk is as important, or more-so, than your talk in order to have an effective Testimony to others of Who it is that is your Master designer and The One who Dwells within.

The only roof that is worth having, and is your covering, is none other than the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the Righteousness that is yours because of Faith in Him. No other covering will give you the Joy and Peace that is vital to a healthy relationship and which will provide the Rest you need to be Strengthened on this journey toward becoming just like Him.

Decorate the interior with tender-loving care and adorn your walls with those items which are not just pleasing to the senses, but which Glorify Him and testify of His Goodness and Faithfulness to you. Let every decorative choice be, not only functional and provide comfort, but will be a blessing to all those who are in proximity. These include Hospitality, Humility, Tolerance, Tenderness, Mercy and Compassion.

Above all else, the glue, screws, nails and mortar that holds it all together, for all time, is Unconditional Love. It is that Love that Submits and Surrenders your will and your way to God in each other. Let His Love be the sole motivation for everything you say and do and let His Love and His Peace arbitrate every decision you make. With God’s Love as the glue and mortar, these elements will never fail to hold it all together, but they simply get stronger with time and use.

Now any building needs upkeep and maintenance or with time mold and mildew, rust and decay set in. If you are not diligent to keep out the mice, roaches and other deadly critters and negative conditions such as selfishness, unforgiveness, bitterness, pride, etc. you end up having to rebuilt, …sometimes right to the very foundation.

Justin and Sarah, Deanna and I have been so blessed by the changes that God is performing in you both and it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we welcome Sarah into our family. We bless this union and are confident that God is the Maker and Builder of your marriage relationship! As long is HE is your Chief Architect, Materials Manufacturer and Master Builder, the most important building project of your lives is guaranteed to stand up to the test of time and the worst storms that will inevitably come your way. Your investment is sure to be sound and will only increase in value.

In conclusion I want to return to David’s wise counsel in Proverbs chapter 3…

My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life, and peace, they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the table of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD or despise His reproof, For who the LORD loves He disciplines, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling place of the righteous. (Prov 3:1-33)

At the end of the day, it’s far more costly to rebuild, than to

…BUILD IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!