Friday, 5 October 2012

Be Careful What You Ask For

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

I tend to be fairly judgmental, critical, and impatient just to name a few flaws.  I am a firm believer that every sermon should include an application, i.e. as a result of God’s Word what is it He would have me do? 

As a result of the message I heard yesterday, I am not quite as keen about having an application as part of the sermon.  The primary reason is that the sermon was directed at me personally.  The pastor had the audacity to suggest that I am (at least at times) a “dysfunctional Christian”. As my father used to say, “I resemble that remark.”

The man in the pulpit was a guest pastor, one I am hoping will not return, particularly if he is going to assassinate other non-Christian personality traits that I am holding on to.

His sermon was aimed at those of us who allow life’s circumstances to negatively affect the way we respond.  As my wife knows all too well I have a “thing” about people I call clueless.  When translated it means they are not living their life according to my rules.  For example the person who is so busy on their cell phone that they just walk out in front of an on-coming car, assuming that a phone to their ear gives them the right of way.  I can easily go on a tirade when attempting to use a website that is less than friendly.  I have this goofy notion that if you are trying to sell something to the general public that your website should be user friendly.  And speaking of websites reminds me that my computer and I are at war, it seems to have a mind of its own.  It only works when it chooses to.  Then there are the four television remotes that I need so that I can turn on the set, another to change channels and control the volume, still another to use the DVD player and finally a fourth if I want to access Netflix.  Isn’t this asking a bit much for someone who is mechanically challenged?

I think if God were to send me a personal e-mail covering my impatience and critical nature He might say, “Suck it up butter-cup.  I am sending you these challenges to teach you to be more patient, more tolerant and more understanding. For I have sent to you my Son who has given you every spiritual blessing.  So quit your whining and complaining.  Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit, apply it!”

 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Good Advice as Far as It Goes - Part III

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

In Part I and II of this three part series I quoted a blog posted by Mort Fertel which identified four areas of marriage that typically are the biggest stressors in marriage.  The four he identified are faith, money, parenting and in-laws.  In Parts I and II, I began to delve into the importance of faith as the foundation on which to deal with all of life’s issues including the ones cited by Fertel, i.e. money, children and in-laws.

 Children

Once again, assuming that the couples are Christians, they have a somewhat different attitude toward their children.  They accept that children are a gift from God.  Parents realize they only have a child for a relatively short season during which time they try to instill Christian values.  The parents do this in part by modeling what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, including having a God glorifying marriage.  In addition the parents treat life as a learning laboratory, i.e. explain how life’s challenges and opportunities fit into God’s plan.   These parents rely on personal experiences, other Godly couples, perhaps parents and the accessibility to Christian books on parenting to develop a plan that works for them.  Children need to know that they are loved and that there are boundaries.  These parents take responsibility for the spiritual development of their child and do not leave it up to the church.  By the way none of these approaches will ensure that a son or daughter will be a follower of Christ.   If they are believers they should be able to defend why they believe what they believe because they will be challenged when they enter the world.  

In-laws
 Scripture tells us that we are to honor our father and mother.  Scripture also tells a married couple they are to leave and cleave.  In a Christian marriage God is first, the husband /wife is next, then children, family, job, etc.  If there is an issue with in-laws the couple must present a unified front.  It is the responsibility of the child to deal with his or her own parents, standing up for their spouse as necessary.  It is destructive to take grievances about your spouse to your parents.  Some parents can be very manipulative; some can be very intrusive, etc.  Leave and cleave are two strong commandments.  As a couple you need to start your own traditions.  So while you attempt to honor your father and mother it is never at the expense of your marriage.

 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Good Advice as Far as It Goes - Part II

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’  Matthew 7:23

In Part I of this three part series I quoted a blog posted by Mort Fertel which identified four areas of marriage that typically are the biggest stressors in marriage.  The four he identified are faith, money, parenting and in-laws.  In Part I, I began to delve into the importance of sharing your faith with one another.  Do you have a Biblical worldview?  What is it you value and what is it you believe?

growth
At the risk of offending some of you please understand that the following is my opinion. I am not all that certain that because someone has said some version of the “sinner’s prayer” that they are a Christian, though they might believe they are. The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:26) and Matthew 7:23 give me the impression that there were people who claimed to know Jesus but he did not know them.  I know that only God is the final determiner but I believe that there should be some evidence that that a person is a follower of Jesus Christ.  Hopefully there is a positive, upward trajectory in the way people conduct themselves.  Perhaps the Fruit of the Spirit is more manifest; presumably they are spending more time in prayer; they are connected to the body of Christ; and there is a hunger for His Word.  For example is the person more loving than they were ten years ago?; Are they more kind than they were five years ago?;  Are they aware that they are not patient and have asked the Spirit to help them become more patient?

 If there is no evidence of growth the person should seek out the pastor of an evangelical Bible believing church and engage him in a discussion about their faith.

I have spent the better part of two blogs talking about the importance of faith because if that is in place resolving the other challenges that confront a couple become much easier.  Ideally as a couple you seek to make decisions that will glorify God.  So how does that help a couple who is trying to make things work financially.

Money

The Bible has almost more to say about money / possessions than any other subject.  A Christian couple understands that everything they have belongs to God.  They agree as a couple how much they will give to their local church, right off the top.  They know that most debt is bad.  They live within their means, i.e. they don’t spend more than they have.  They look to Christian financial planners such as Dave Ramsey and Ron Blue who offer a plethora of materials to enable them to become good stewards.  If one is a spender and the other a saver they compromise in a way the brings honor to God.