phoenix-from-the-ashesEvery now and again, I’m invited to churches, small groups, and retreats to speak on the general topic of marriage. I’m always nervous when this happens.  Not because I don’t like talking about marriage, but because I think it’s so very important that husbands and wives rightly understand marriage and relationship issues. My prep is always the same. If I’m speaking on a familiar topic, then I spend the week prior in review and prayer.  Is there something that I have in my notes and/or outlines that isn’t correct or that I have come to have a different better understanding of, or is there a new way to explain this point or that point?

Additionally, I spend quiet time every night in the week prior and the entire morning/day of the event listening to one album. An album written and recorded in 1990 and released in 1991. This album:

LoveLife

That, friends and neighbors is, arguably, my favorite album of all time. (You can buy your own copy of Love Life here.) At the very least, as I mentioned, it’s my “go to” album when I’m in a “let’s think about marriage and relationships” kind of a mood. I mean, look at the tracks:

Track 1: After Lovin’ You – A great feel good track to open this album of love songs.

Girl, we’ve been together for a long, long time,
I don’t see that changing, at least not in my mind,
So if we fuss and fight, don’t dream that love is through,
I could never love another after…after loving you.

Track 2: What’s It Like In Your World? – A good song about the need for openness and honesty.

You don’t have to ever pretend when you’re in my company,
You’ve got to know I will not turn and run from you if you practice honesty.

Track 3: Forgiveness – This is one of the tracks that still resonate with me. It’s as fresh and true today as it was the first time I heard it.

Well, I want things to be right,
Can’t stand the tension between you and me,
Every dream, every longing, takes a backseat to this,
Only one thing gonna set me free.
Oh, I believe there is one thing we need more than to be understood or be known,
It’s our need; a true, undeniable need,
For me and for you, this is our need: it’s forgiveness.

Track 4: …. We’ll get back to this one…

Track 5: Another Woman In Tears – Read the description for “Forgiveness.” Ditto.

A woman needs your time not just your touch if you want her to feel safe and sound,
Anything less and you can count on this: trouble’s gonna come around,
A woman’s more than flesh in a dress, more than a happy bride who’s been heaven sent,
One day you’ll come home to the kiss of indifference and wonder where your happy bride went.

Read that again… Best opening verse ever. EVER!

Track 6: In The Light – This is probably the song you know from this album thanks to DC Talk’s cover from their album Jesus Freak.

Oh, what’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions that I’m still a man in need of a Saviour

Track 7: There Was Love – This is just… so good.

There have been days when I thought that I was through,
And when I cried, I know love cried too,
Love as I know it has always existed, even when I foolishly resisted.

Track 8: I Would Go Crazy – This is my wife’s favorite track. Probably because it has that hot Spanish flavor.

I remain inventive with you as my incentive, in the midst of all this foolishness and craziness, and such,
I taste of the essence as I practice the presence of you in my life,
In a world known for turning glory into shame, I am so grateful love knows my name.

Track 9: Kiss Me Like A Woman – This is the track that sold me. The story goes like this: In early 1992, I developed a friendship with a girl who worked in a Christian Music store. I was just discovering the world of CCM and was kind of… what’s the word?… underwhelmed with the quality. I asked her why it all sounded the same, and “can’t any of it be… I don’t know, funky?” This is the track she played for me and… just…

Hello, baby, this is your lover speaking,
Just as I promised you I’ve been saving my affections for the beauty of one,
One more time, show me how love is done,
Before we set the house on fire let’s take the time to build desire.

Kiss me like a woman, baby, and I’ll love you, love you like a man,
Love is a language we were made to understand.

We can lie naked and unashamed, made one by divine connection,
It’s good to know there’s a sacred trust when you give away your affections.
It’s a beautiful place to be when you can trust each other completely.

Kiss me like a woman, baby, and I’ll love you, love you like a man,
Love is a language we were made to understand.

I want my children to know what is pure, what is lovely, what is right,
That the intimate moment is beautiful in God’s sight (that’s right)
Well, it’s a good and right thing for a man to say…

If I had to sum up this album in one song… yeah… that one…

Track 10: When I Stand With You – A perfect song to close this love fest, by acknowledging where love comes from and what I life blessed by God’s love will ultimately lead to.

When I stand with you, Lord, I will not be alone,
Together with the multitude, I’ll stand before your throne,
And when I stand with you, Lord, perfect I will be,
When I stand with you, Lord, in glory.

The point (for this section anyway), is this… BUY THIS ALBUM (and any other Charlie Peacock work you can get your hands on. Oh… You may have heard of a little band called The Civil Wars.  Yeah, he’s their producer.)

Track 4… also know as “The Point”

Track four of the album is a song called “Personal Revolution.”  Yes, I’ve heard it before. A few times. I like it. But today, I heard it for the first time.

Freedom from the past didn’t last through time,
Things don’t change, because I pretend they’re fine,
Do I flip a switch to give myself a happy life; to be a happy man, in a happy home with a happy wife?

Jesus, if you came to give life abundantly, then how do you respond to all the pretense that you see?
Do I break your heart by all the faking that I do?
There are so many places I haven’t let you into.

I’m so tired of all these easy solutions,
I can’t stand it; they’re nothing but denial,
I think I need a personal revolution,
How can I expect the heart to sing when I don’t let the soul ever feel anything?

I share this with you today to publicly declare that this is my plea and my pledge.

Paul wrote about this.  In Romans 12:2, Paul encouraged believers to “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  I like how the CEV puts it:

Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

We have to be transformed from our past, our old life, our corrupt way of thinking. The revolution happens when we give up control of ourselves and put ourselves in the transforming hands of our Heavenly Father. When the change begins, our old self dies and, like the phoenix of legend, we rise from the ashes of our past and live the life of the new creation.

Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

[callout]

My Prayer

God, create a revolution in me. No more pretense. No more faking. God help me take the mask off and keep it off. Make me comfortable being open, honest and as completely transparent as I can be with anyone, anywhere, anytime, not for my benefit, but for your glory.[/callout]
[reminder]Are there times you just feel fake with God, yourself, and/or others? How do you deal with it? DO you deal with it?[/reminder]

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