Friday, 27 August 2010

Are You an Apple Nailer?

Paul Tripp, one of my favorite lecturers and authors, relates the following story about “Apple Nailing”:

Imagine that you have an apple tree in the backyard. Now this particular tree produces horrible apples year after year. So I say to my wife, “I think I can fix our apple tree.” So I go out with a big ladder and cut off all the old apples. Then I nail delicious red apples all over the tree. I stand back, and from 50 feet it now looks like a good apple tree. But we all know what’s going to happen, don’t we?  Those apples are going to rot, too, because if the tree is consistently producing bad apples, then there’s something wrong with the system, right down to its roots. We all realize that we won’t solve the problem by nailing apples onto the tree.

It appears that in the church we have become very good at apple nailing. A place where we should be able to be genuine and transparent is often where we are most phony. If half of Christian couples are getting divorced you can rest assured that another twenty-five percent are unhappy. When you look around on a Sunday morning does three quarters of your congregation look miserable? - Probably not.

This is a sad commentary for many reasons. First of all this is not what God intended when He created marriage. Marriage is supposed to bring us joy and Him glory. This charade is also sad because by the time most couples reach out it is too late. It is not that God can’t make it better it’s just that the relationship has deteriorated to the point of no return. The couple is polarized, unwilling to do what God would have them do to restore their marriage.

As for resources, I’ve cited some exceptional books and DVDs on this blog site. But here is the kicker, for counseling or books or anything else to be helpful, the couple has to agree to the following:
• Divorce is not an option. Be determined that they will make their marriage work.
• Be willing to go to the Lord and repent, citing specifically how they have wounded their husband/wife.
• Be willing to go to their husband/wife and ask for forgiveness.
• Be willing to begin praying together.
• Agree that each partner has responsibility to change themselves, to become the husband/wife that God has called them to be.
• Begin by spending 5 minutes per day / 3 days a week in God’s Word with the intention of increasing the amount of time spent to 15 minutes per day / 5 times a week.

These are small specific steps you can take that will eventually lead to a harvest of beautiful fruit.

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