Friday, 22 October 2010

How Is Your Vertical Relationship?

When you see an athlete who excels in his/her field you can be fairly certain that they have mastered the fundamentals. While in training basketball players shoot hundreds of foul shots, focusing on their release and the rotation of the ball. Golfers hit hundreds of balls, making sure their grip and alignment are correct. Football players and coaches watch game films to see if they can detect a flaw in execution.

What would be some fundamentals that must be in place if we are to do marriage well? I think one of the most profound insights I’ve read with regard to marriage comes from Paul Tripp in his book What Did You Expect? He said, “I have become more and more persuaded that marriages are fixed vertically before they are ever fixed horizontally. We have to deal with what is driving us before we ever deal with how we are reacting to one another. Every relationship is victimized in some way when we seek to get from the surrounding creation what we were designed to get from God. When God is in his rightful place, then we are on the way to putting people in their rightful place.”

Thus a key fundamental to having a strong marriage is to have a strong relationship with God. Paul goes on to say that it is only when we look at our husband/wife and see the glory of God’s creative artistry that we will treat them with the dignity and respect that a healthy marriage requires. In addition it is crucial that we worship God as sovereign and celebrate the different way of looking at the world that our spouse has blessed us with, or we dishonor God by trying to rewrite his story. Finally it is imperative that we extend to one another the grace that has been extended to us. “It doesn’t take long to realize that you have married a sinner, and what you do when you make this discovery will determine the character and quality of your union. You will only respond in a way that is right, good , and helpful to our spouse’s sin, weakness, and struggle when you are celebrating the transforming grace of an ever-present, always-faithful Redeemer.”

So we must see and appreciate the marvelous creation that God has brought into our life and extend to them the unconditional love and grace that we receive from the One who died for us. Now you are ready to work on your marriage.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Rippling Affect of Sin

Most likely you have heard the term “victimless crime”. This is supposedly an act which is considered illegal but where no one “really” is injured physically or materially. I think many of us have the same attitude with regard to sin. I believe many of us think there are victimless sins such as laziness. At the risk of shattering the illusions that many have of my near perfection let me share a personal example.

I tend to get highly irritated at things and indirectly at clueless people. For example when I click on my internet connection icon I expect to be connected to the internet. I do not appreciate the message “no server found”. Like it is my fault the server is lost, I didn’t misplace it. And, it is best to keep your distance if I am attempting anything that requires mechanical aptitude unless of course you want to hear my diatribe regarding the moron who designed the instructions which I am unable to follow. Then there are those people who I perceive are oblivious to the fact that anyone else is taking up space on this planet. Consider the perfectly healthy woman who is pulling into a handicapped parking place while talking on her cell phone. At such times what I am muttering under my breath would not be words fit for Christian radio.

Okay already so what do my shortcomings, as few as they may be, have to do with victimless sins and marriage? First of all there are no victimless sins. I had only been married a few weeks when I had one of my mini tantrums aimed at our computer. I glanced over to see the look of horror on the face of my bride. She knew that I was not angry with her BUT she said that my anger “splattered” over on to her. What a great phrase. How often does our irritation, anger, guilt, jealousy, or pride spill over on to our loved ones? How about the wife of the husband who spends many an evening watching pornographic material on the internet, does she consider that a victimless sin? The point is we don’t sin in isolation; there is a rippling affect that manifests itself somehow, someway in our behavior that ultimately touches those around us. When as a married couple we let the sun go down on our anger as we go to bed and turn away from each other is there a victim – you bet, we both lose.

Bottom line is that all sin is first and foremost an affront to God but rest assured someone else is also affected.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Missing Ingredient

Have you ever baked something only to come to the realization that you omitted an ingredient? Some things you might leave out, like vanilla, and you may not be able to tell much difference in the end product. If you leave out baking powder you will not like the results.

So it is with some seemingly good marital advice if key elements are left out. In a recent posting Mort Fertel (Marriagemax.com) recounted a portion of a wedding service that he and his wife were privileged to overhear. On the surface it sounded like very sage advice. The pastor’s message to the couple went something like this:

You decided to spend the rest of your life
together because of your FEELINGS. But the rest
of your life together will be decided by your
ACTIONS.

"Take a good look at your hands," the pastor
requested of them. "Because it's what you DO in
the years ahead that will determine what you SEE
in each other's eyes." 

In other words, what you see is NOT what you get.
What you DO is what you will see.
We all want to gaze into our spouse's eyes and
feel the depth of their love. But in the long
term, those looks are not because we met Mr. or
Mrs. Right; it's because we did RIGHT and because
we earned the right over time to see that love in
each other's eyes.
The advice is spot on, the problem is that we are incapable of behaving in such a self-sacrificing way without submitting to God. In Mark 10:18 Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?... "No one is good—except God alone.” Yet with the help of His Spirit who dwells in us we can do good. The ingredient that is missing in this message is to encourage the couple to put God at the center of their marriage. Try as they might, regardless of their good intentions, this couple will fail if they attempt to apply this wisdom in their own strength, and with their own power.