Friday, 8 April 2011

I Dare You to...

Some of you who may have been more adventurous as a kid probably played “I Dare You”. I dare you to put a rubber snake in the teacher’s desk, as we got older the requests got a little bolder, i.e. I dare you to tell Tammy that you like her. It may have even escalated into far more riskier behaviors. Now that you are more mature and married – well at least more mature, perhaps you can put that old game to a new use.

I Dare You to Dream

Plan a date night even if it means sitting alone at home with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite beverage. Each of you take a sheet of paper and take 15 minutes to write down your dreams and aspirations. The ground rule is - there are to be NO negative comments. Each of you share your list and see if there is one thing on your spouse’s list that you can help them achieve and vice versa. Perhaps one of you wants to take a photography class – how can you make that a reality? Maybe the other wants to walk along the Appalachian Trail – can you make that happen?

I Dare You to Grow
Another version of this game, and a bit riskier, would be to allow your spouse to speak into your life and vice versa if they are willing. The ground rules would be that you give one another permission to make some suggestions on ways you might grow. No getting angry, no getting upset and no retaliating. (Now we’ll see just how mature you’ve become) Each of you is to select one or two such growth areas for the other. Share them and pick one to work on over the next twelve months. It may be something like lead family devotions at least twice a week for a year or join an accountability group, etc.

Dreaming, hoping, planning and growing together are great ways to keep your marriage vibrant.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Distractions

I believe it is fair to say that most sociologists would agree that the family is the cornerstone of a strong, vibrant society. In the US and other western cultures it appears the family structure has taken a huge hit, not only due to divorce.

Anything that lends itself to the weakening of the relationship of the husband and wife is a contributor to the disintegration of the family. This can include the television, kids and kids activities, smart phones, computers, a quest for more material possessions, organizations including church, etc.

“Wait a minute”, you protest. Are you saying kids, computers and church are bad? No! To quote Paul Tripp, “the desire for a good thing can become a bad thing if it becomes a ruling thing.” If every time your smart phone goes off you need to look at it even while in the midst of a conversation with your husband/wife it has become a ruling thing. If you spend half of your time chauffeuring your kids to every activity imaginable that task becomes a ruling thing. If you can’t eat dinner together as a family and have a real conversation but must be glued to the tube, it has become a ruling thing. If your spouse goes to bed and you stay up chatting on the internet, playing video games or watching pornography it has become a ruling thing. If you spend 55 to 70 hours on the job so that you can afford the new car, bigger house or the condo at the beach your desire for things has become a ruling thing. If you spend half your waking hours working at and for the church, unless you are on staff or a missionary, you are most likely neglecting your family.

With each succeeding decade we have more toys, more wants, and more distractions that pull us away from spending quality time together, going for a walk in the neighborhood, or just sitting and talking about our innermost thoughts.

Distractions lead to drift, drift leads to marital dissatisfaction which leads to divorce or co-habitation, i.e. you become roommates. This progression reminds me of a verse in the book of James (1:13-15) which says “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full- grown, gives birth to death.

Is something dragging you away and enticing you?