Friday, 11 May 2012

Go and Be Reconciled

The "Great Commission?" appears in the book of Matthew in chapter 28, in verses 18-20.  Jesus commanded his disciples to "Go and make disciples of all nations…."

Matthew 5:23-24 might be considered by some as "The Other Great Commission"-- and it may be even more challenging for us to fulfill. Going to reconcile with someone who has a complaint about us involves humility ("Why should I go to them after all they are the one who's upset?"),it involves empathy (attempting to see the situation from someone else's perspective), and it involves obedience (we go because Jesus commands us, not because we want to or even because we feel that reconciliation is possible). Are there any people in your life to whom you need to "go" today in order to be reconciled?   Okay how about someone you may need to contact this month?  Maybe there is a long-standing feud between you and a family member or former friend that God is inviting you to begin to address today through this reminder.

This is a multi-step process, particularly if you are uncertain as to your culpability.

First: In any case go to God in prayer.  If you know what you have done ask God to forgive you; to help you to refrain from a repeat of that behavior; and to give you the courage to face the person that you have offended in an effort to ask their forgiveness.  This is called repentance.  If you are uncertain but suspect you have done something ask God to reveal it to you.  It might require that you actually go to the person that you think you may have injured and say, “I believe that I have done or said something that offended you, if I am right would you be so kind as to tell me so I can repent?”

Second: Once you are aware and have taken it to the Lord and repented you need to face the person.  You need to ask the person to forgive you.  This must be very specific.  I’d like to ask you to forgive me for saying that “you are dumber than a stump.”  “I have asked the Lord to forgive me and now I am asking you.” 

Never use “weasel words”, i.e. “if I hurt you…”.  Never use “but if” or “because you”.  There are no excuses.  The other person didn’t make you do or say anything, you chose to act inappropriately.

Up until now I have kept this rather generic.  The issue could be between you and a relative, a neighbor, or a co-worker.  IF however the person who is most likely offended is the one with whom you brush your teeth every night summon the courage and confess today!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Learn to Bend and Not Break

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. Jeremiah 17:7-8

The following is taken from Married for Life by Bill Morelan.  It is a tribute to Gerald and Evelyn Smith who were married on May 2, 1946 in Oklahoma City.

Life’s storms are capable of generating powerful winds.  Business layoffs, family illnesses or injuries, financial crises, time pressures, breakdowns in close relationships, problems at work, misunderstandings at home - all these, and some windstorms far more devastating, threaten to snap a marriage in two and bring it crashing to the ground if the couple is unable to endure the gusts.

If your marriage is to survive, you must possess a kind of supple strength.  Flexibility is an important component of this quality; however, the ability to bend under pressure does not come from abandoning principles and convictions.  Rather, it comes from trusting God and submitting to His will for your lives.  And true strength is found, not by drawing from some inner personal reserve nor by leaning too heavily on each other, but by sinking roots deeper and deeper into your trust in the promises of God, and together relying on Him to come through for you.  A marriage thus secured will never be broken apart or uprooted. 

Sometimes supple strength involves a willingness to adapt to change.  It means letting go of circumstances you’re trying to control and leaving the outcome to God.  When the storm finally clears, the landscape around you may be drastically altered, but your marriage remains intact, standing firm, and continues to thrive in its new environment.

Are there places that you need to bend in your marriage?

Monday, 7 May 2012

I Never Realized...

Even though I’m a guy, I have never been overly impressed with the observational powers of my gender.  I’m not talking about the bottle of milk that is in the front of the refrigerator, staring us in the face, which we don’t see.  I’m not even talking about the more crucial sighting like the fact that our wives may have had half their hair cut off and streaked and we don’t notice – okay that would be bad.  I am talking about the husband who thinks his marriage is better than average and his wife is all but out the door.

 Here are some possible clues that not all is well in Camelot:

·       Overeating

·       Depression

·       Drug dependencies (alcohol, prescription drugs, etc.)

·       Over spending

·       Reduction in intimacy

·       Spending considerable time on the computer

·       Overly impatient with the children

·       Unusual mood swings

·       She has put your dog and golf clubs up for sale on eBay

There are other causes for some of these manifestations, i.e. bereavement, loss of job, illness, etc.  Your wife needs you to be understanding, supportive and caring.  She needs to know that in sickness and in health you are there for her.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen, and don’t try to “solve” the problem.  She is not a problem to be solved.  Facing a difficult time together can strengthen your marriage if you are together in it.

On the other hand if these changes in behavior are associated with your marriage - wake up!  Take action and take it now.
I’m a marriage counselor and I’m not big on sending you to counseling.  The failure rate for marriage counseling is high because the couple either waits too long before they go, and/or the counselor does not specialize in marriage counseling, and/or one of you is convinced it is “primarily” the other person’s fault and if they would change things would be fine.

To combat the negative odds of counseling being of help do the following:

1.    Go immediately, the sooner the better.  When cracks began to show up in year two and you wait to year twenty-two to address them you’ll probably fail.

2.    Seek out a counselor, preferably a Biblical counselor, who specializes in marriage.

3.    You are the biggest problem in your marriage!  Until you can enter counseling with the humility to say, “I am the biggest problem in my marriage” you will most likely make the negative statistics column.  (By the way your wife must be willing to accept that she is the biggest problem in your marriage.)  When you both enter counseling with the understanding that each of you needs to change marvelous things can happen.