Friday, 6 July 2012

You Don't Say

A number of years ago there was a movie entitled “Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nickolson.      The basic plot was that one of the men was going to die and he had a list of things that he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket”.

Recently I was counseling a couple who was having a difficult time saying anything civil to one another.  Their concept of a conversation was “Did you get the cleaning?”  To which the response was a grunt.  So I recommended that they sit together at a time and place where there would be no disruptions and create their own Bucket Lists and then exchange them and talk about what may have surprised them, what they would like to do that was on the other person’s list, etc.  It turned out to be one of the most fun, civil conversations that the couple had had in years.

 To say conversation is a lost art wouldn’t make much sense to men since a two or three word sentence taxes our patience.  Texting, tweeting, Face Booking and other social media is filling the gap that women desperately need.  As it is, fewer women are finding it “necessary” to marry.  If a woman’s need for conversation is met by technology husbands could become extinct or at least an endangered species.

So listen up guys, come up with some topics that you and your wife could enjoy exploring together.  The first time you suggest having such a conversation you may want to take smelling salts with you.  If she has a bad heart you may want to break it to her gently. 

It is reported that most married couples talk less than 1.5 hours a week on non-household subjects.  I for one don’t want to be replaced by a smart phone which already has more functionality than I do as it is.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Living to Please God...Really?

Kevin Carson wrote an article entitled “Living to Please God…Really?” in which he recounts how we, well intentioned Christians, blow it every day.  This resonated with me all too well.   I intended to have my quiet time but my task orientation kicked in first and I neglected spending time with the Lord.  I intended to keep a positive attitude all day, but by mid-morning my critical nature had come out to play on several occasions.  During the day I thought about sending an e-card to my wife just telling her how much I loved her but before I knew it the clock struck five.  Did I mention that throughout the day I became impatient, judgmental, and frustrated?
I have been trying to encourage my clients to cast a vision for their marriage, specifically that of “glorifying God.”  One of my clients astutely asked me what did I mean, what does it look like to glorify God in my marriage?  It means that I become other-centered, that I put my wife’s desires ahead of my desires.  It means that what I say and how I say it, what I do and what I don’t do should honor God.  It means that my motivation should be pleasing to God.  It means that the Fruit of the Spirit is becoming more apparent as I relate to my wife.  Am I becoming more patient, more gentle, more kind, more loving, more persevering, more self-controlled and I display more joy?  My client was probably sorry he asked.

Now back to reality.  Carson’s article reminded me that my effort is not enough, that in my own strength I am not capable of living a life that glories God.  It is Christ living in me that enables me, with the help of the Spirit, to love my wife as He has called me to do.  Marriage, like every other situation in life, is where God has designed that I live out his good pleasure.  However, it is through the blood of Christ that I am made complete in every good work to do His will (Heb. 13:20-21).

Now before we become too quick to say, “Great that takes me off the hook”, I’d be quick to add no it doesn’t.  Because the Holy Spirit resides in us we are able to make right choices.  Without the guidance of the Spirit we would be inclined to opt for what our sin nature would prefer.   So now the question becomes what choices do I make?  God has given us free will, meaning we can still make the wrong choice even though we are inhabited by the Spirit.  That’s why we are not off the hook, we must make a conscious decision to do what God wants us to do.