Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Getting Into the Word? Is the Word Getting Into You?

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
John 15:1 NASB

Dennis Rainey of Family Life makes the following startling statement:

This may seem like a shocking thing to say, but I firmly believe that most Christian marriages are actually patterned after the world, with a few threads of Christianity woven in. Couples know certain Bible verses, but few really practice the Word of God and use it as the defining standard for their lives.
I’ve taken the liberty of slightly revising Dennis’ litmus test for whether or not your marriage is more Christian in name than in design. Could you and your spouse sit with a couple who is about to be married and spend several hours laying out what Scripture has to say about marriage and family issues -everything from raising children to God's blueprints and purposes for marriage? And could you tell this couple that you attempt to adhere to the principles that you so lay out?

Dennis then quoted John 15:4 as he explained:

Jesus painted the picture when He declared Himself the vine, with us as the branches. He said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me" (John 15:4). The word "abide" here is used to describe drawing the source of life from Jesus, like a branch draws its life from the vine. It means to make Jesus Christ and His Word the source of your convictions, decisions and mission in life. Just as branches draw their nutrients from the vine, so too we are only able to grow spiritually when we're firmly attached to Christ, drawing our life from the source of all truth.

The stark reality is that if every couple who professes to be Christian truly worked at applying Scriptural principles to their marriage there would be no need for counselors and almost no divorces among Christian couples.

Monday, 8 August 2011

His Needs Versus Her Needs

Everyone believes they have needs. In actuality most “needs” start out as expectations which morph into desires which evolve into needs which often become demands. Sometimes our desires conflict with one another. A wife might want her husband to be more communicative when he comes home from work because she “needs” some adult conversation and has a desire to connect emotionally with her husband. The husband on the other hand may want to withdraw to read the paper because he “needs” to decompress after a particularly hectic day. Neither person is wrong but in this example one of the partners will not get his/her perceived needs met. If this scenario plays out day after day a fair amount of tension will build.

One thing that would help is that we rename our felt needs as what they really are – desires. Second it would be very helpful for each person to be perfectly candid and forthright. The wife might say, “I really want to spend some time with you when you come home. I’ve been with young children all day and I long for adult conversation, but more importantly I want to connect with you and desire to share what’s going on in our lives.” The husband might say, “I am exhausted when I get home, it seems as though I go from one crisis to another. I really need some time to veg out and just relax.”

Using the Biblical model the husband would say to himself, “I hear my wife saying that one way that I can demonstrate my love for her is to engage her in a conversation when I get home from work.” The wife might say, “I must respect my husband by acknowledging the fact that he has worked hard and wants some down time when he gets home.” Keeping in mind that the purpose of marriage is to glorify God would encourage the couple to seek a win/win solution. One approach might be that the husband relaxes for 20 minutes and then the couple talks for 15. If there are younger children, they would be instructed that this is a sacred time and that they are to occupy themselves during the 35 minutes.

The Biblical model is simple in design but difficult to pull off. It is difficult because it requires that you put the other person first. Just as Christ put our deal ahead of his deal we are to continually ask “in what tangible ways can I make my wife feel that she is loved?” The wife is to continually ask “how can I best express to my husband how much I respect him?”