Thursday, 1 December 2011

If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It

That expression may be sage advice when it comes to plumbing or electrical work but when it comes to the human condition and marriage in particular, we are all broken. In his newly released book Forever Paul Tripp reminds us:

Most if not all relationships will go through times of difficulty and stress. A good relationship, then, is a humble and needy relationship in which both parties admit that they haven’t arrived and are not perfect. They are approachable, willing to listen to the concerns of the other, willing to admit and face their shortcomings. They do not give way to thinking that they are mature and the other person is not. A good relationship doesn’t get stuck in a cycle of expectation, disappointment, criticism, and punishment. It doesn’t give way to the hopelessness that often grips relationships when change doesn’t seem to be happening. A good relationship is good because each person is patient and understanding. Each seeks to encourage the other to grow while resisting laying unrealistic burdens on the shoulders of the other person.
I often use the expression “God glorifying” marriage. I think the above paragraph describes many of the elements in such a marriage. It acknowledges up front that both the husband and wife are sinners. It is through grace that we grow to be more like the Son and often the Lord will use the spouse in that process. It is particularly gratifying when it is a collaborative effort with each partner accepting and soliciting the help of the other.

Paul Tripp
First Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Hence marriage is to glorify God, it is to reflect the relationship that Christ has with His bride the church.

Romans 8:29 tells us that “those that God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brothers.” This tells us that it is God’s plan that we continue to grow in our Christlikeness.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Are You Talking to Me?

Ravi Zacharias
A recent posting by Ravi Zacharias ministries was entitled “Selective Hearing”, in part it said,

“When it comes to listening, we are quick to listen to the things we want to hear. We are also quick to listen to the things we think other people need to hear. In a book study with several couples on the subject of marriage, several of us mentioned the struggle to actually read the book for ourselves and not for our spouses. I found myself carefully reading the sections I hoped my other half would most carefully notice; another admitted circling and highlighting and handing it over. I'm not sure you can call our attempts half-hearted or good-hearted; for our hearts were not the ones we were putting on the line. Undoubtedly, we missed things that would have been good for us to hear ourselves. Though reading with our own eyes, we were listening for someone else.

Expanding on G.K. Chesterton's clever aphorism that between one and two there is often a difference of millions, F.W. Boreham notes the massive difference between a congregation of one and a congregation of two: "A congregation of one takes every word in a direct and personal sense; but, in a congregation of two, each auditor takes it for granted that the preacher is referring to the other."

 If this weren’t so true it would be humorous. How often have we sat and listened to a sermon ,or read a book, and/or attended a class only to focus on the things that were said that would make our spouse better. Most of us have experienced that gentle elbow in the ribs accompanied with the words, “Did you hear that?”
“I am the biggest problem in my marriage. It is not my wife or circumstances outside of my control that are responsible for my marriage problems. Furthermore if my marriage is going to be better I need to change.” Most often when couples come for counseling they are secretly hoping the counselor will single out their partner as the problem. News flash – we can only change ourselves. Spouses and/or counselors can influence change but only if the person truly wants to change.