Thursday, 11 July 2013

Destructive Relationships

Dr. Tim Clinton, head of the American Association of Christian Counselors, was interviewed by In touch Magazine.  The topic was “how does a Christian go about managing an unhealthy relationship?”  As you might suspect there are no easy answers.

An unhealthy relationship can take many forms.  In addition to abuse, threats, lying, and stealing, there are irresponsible behaviors, i.e. laziness, addictions, etc.  If you are in such a relationship you may feel stuck.  As a Christian you feel compelled to turn the other cheek, to love unconditionally, but that’s not working.  You are also aware that God hates divorce.

Sometimes we are in a difficult situation that we cannot get out of and in those cases we need to ask God for the strength to endure.  Such an example would be living with a partner suffering from dementia.  There are other times however when our failure to address a situation just perpetuates it and doesn’t bring honor to God. 

God has given us a good mind which He expects us to use.  The loving thing to do in some situations is to set boundaries, to stop enabling the other person’s irrational, self-centered behavior.  When we continually overlook and/or make excuses for the other person’s behavior we are enabling them to continue to abuse themselves or someone else.

Perhaps you are a parent of a grown child who has moved back home.  You hide from your spouse the fact that your son/daughter is involved in destructive behaviors because you are afraid your husband/wife will ask the child to leave.  Maybe it is your spouse who has an addiction, i.e. gambling, sex, alcohol, etc. and refuses to get help or admit there is a problem.  To allow these behaviors to go unchecked is not the Christian thing to do, nor is it the loving thing to do.  Spouting Bible verses will only turn them off and away from God.

You need to establish a boundary and when you do you must be prepared to follow through.  You lovingly tell the person that you want them to seek professional help and that their failure to do so will result in the following consequence, i.e. you will leave and not return until they’ve sought help; they must leave the home and not return until they have sought help; etc.  In some cases an intervention is necessary.  This entails a kind of “surprise party” for the errant person.  You gather the people who the errant person most cares about, who will confront the person for their own good.  Each person takes a turn pleading with the errant person to get help.

Doing nothing is not the best way to show your love.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Where’s My Hope

Some of you are in what could be referred to as a difficult marriage.  For some of you that may be a gross understatement.  I have had some firsthand experience due to the illness of my first wife and a great deal of second hand experience as a counselor.
What is missing, among other things, is joy and the hope that things will get better.   This need not be the case if you are a “born again” Christian.  I must make a brief departure at this point.  I am differentiating between someone who has a new life in Christ and what John Piper refers to as a “cultural Christian.”  It is not my place to offend or judge, just be aware that there is a difference.  For all intents and purposes the cultural Christian’s behavior might mimic some of the behaviors of a born again Christian, i.e. attend church regularly, give to the church, volunteer in the nursery, etc.  But there is little evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit; little time is spent with the Lord outside of Sunday morning; and an occasional prayer might be offered, particularly in trying circumstances.

The born again Christian has a thirst for God’s Word.  They accept that without the Holy Spirit they are powerless.  They recognize that as Scripture says Christ is the vine and we are but the branches, all power comes from our relationship with Christ.  This does not mean that the born again Christian won’t face struggles and difficult times.  However they believe that God is with them in the midst of the storm.  He wants the born again Christian to have victory because “in all things (they) are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37

The Bible tells of a woman who suffered from hemorrhaging for 12 years.  This probably means more to women than it does men but trust me guys this would be your worst nightmare.  This didn’t stop her from reaching out to the One who she believed could help her - Jesus.  There is a reason this story is in the Bible.  While it is true that we can’t touch the Lord’s garment we are indwelt by His Spirit. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

In those most difficult times we must be able to turn to the Lord and believe that “(we) can do all things through Him who strengthens “(us).  Philippians 4:13

He can and will deliver us from the challenges of life.  Hebrews 12:11 tells us that “because He himself suffered when He was being tested, He is able to help those who are being tested.”  For the born again Christian these are more than just words, they are a promise from the God of Universe, the Creator of all things, the great Healer.


Monday, 8 July 2013

When Knowledge Becomes Powerful

Sir Francis Bacon
Once again I am indebted to Dr. Bob Snyder for stimulating my thoughts with one of his “Lessons Learned on the Journey.”  He quotes Sir Francis Bacon who said, “Scienta potentia est” or “Knowledge is Power”.  The reason I’m giving Bob credit is that anyone who knows me would know that I am virtually incapable of coming up with a Latin phrase, let alone quoting Sir Bacon.

Knowledge is only power if you put it to use.  I know a number of people who have a significant amount of Biblical knowledge but their knowledge does not translate into being kinder, more loving, more gentle, or more patient.  In other words the Fruit of  the Spirit is not in evidence.  My father on the other hand had no Biblical knowledge but he lived a life that exemplified much of what is taught in Scripture.

The ironic thing is that if you just knew the Great Commandment and lived it out you would rank up with most of the saints of the 21st century.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself…”  Matthew 22:37-39

It has been said, when dealing with marital issues, that the biggest problem isn’t that we don’t love our spouse enough, it is that we don’t love God enough.  For if we had anywhere near enough appreciation for what happened on Calvary we would be among the most forgiving, loving people on this planet.

It would do me little good to memorize Ephesians 5:21-33 which describes how I should treat my wife and then treat her in a way that would be contrary to what it says.  If however, I were to merely do my best with the help of the Holy Spirit to apply the knowledge contained in those verses we would have a fantastic marriage, and a powerful testimony to an awesome God.