Friday, 6 December 2013

Let Your Child Out

I find that the hectic pace of life seems to keep “my child” locked in his room.  Before you contact the police and report a case of child abuse let me clarify that statement.  When I speak of “my child” I’m not talking about one of my grown children, I’m talking about the little child that still resides in me.  And frankly sometimes it is a case of neglect more than abuse.

I often suspect that most of the couples I work with suffer from the same malady.  Many of them have not been on a literal date night in years.  More importantly many of them haven’t been spontaneous or silly since Ronald Reagan was President.  Humor is almost non-existent.  Not surprisingly their intimacy is more perfunctory than pleasurable, not to mention infrequent.

There are numerous studies that would indicate the importance of laughter, humor and allowing your “adult child” out to play.

There is a good chance that when you dated you had a lot more fun.  It might have been as unimaginative as getting two scoops of double chocolate chunk ice cream on a sugar cone or as silly as laying on the ground in the winter and making snow angels.  When was the last time you skipped?  Have you flown a kite lately or spontaneously packed a lunch and gone on a picnic?  Have you and your spouse gone on a scavenger hunt recently? 



When was the last time you laughed so hard that tears rolled down your face?  Can you laugh at yourself?  Do you and your spouse have some “inside” jokes that only the two of you understand, that brings a smile to your face whenever they are triggered?

The frantic pace of life combined with the natural stressors of everyday life can suck the joy out of even the most optimistic of people.  Matthew 6:34 tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
As a child of the living Savior we have much to be thankful for.  While each day has its challenges make it a point to find some joy.  Make it a point to laugh, to giggle, to do something that you haven’t done for years, that used to bring you pleasure.

A couple that plays together stays together.  I doubt that this corny saying is original with me but I’ll bet there is much wisdom and truth in it. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Time to Get Serious

I did not grow up in a Christian home.  However as I look back the environment was such that it very well could have been based on Biblical principles.  From my vantage point my father appeared to love my mother deeply and my mother seemed to respect my father greatly.  I now know that appearances aren’t always what they seem.  Fast forward.

1Corinthians 10:31
Over the past several years my appreciation for a Christian marriage, not in name, but in actuality has increased immensely.  You’re probably thinking “well of course, you’re a pastor of marriage, you work in a church.”  Let’s just say I’ve grown into the job.  I am begrudgingly willing to admit that a non-Christian couple can have a good marriage but I strongly suspect that if they do, they are applying Biblical principles without realizing it.

Actually I am getting more and more entrenched in my opinion that the purpose of marriage is to glorify God, not to make each other happy or fulfill one another’s desires, etc.  1Corinthians 10:31 tells us that whatever we do we are to do it for the glory of God.  It would only make sense that marriage would be in the category of “whatever we do.”

“Why is the divorce rate among Christians the same as for non-Christians if that is the key?”  Identifying one’s self as a Christian is not the key. The key is where is the person’s heart?  God is the sole judge of who is and who is not a Christian.  Matthew 13 and Matthew 7:23 give some indication that not everyone that thinks they know Christ as Lord actually does.  Is there evidence of the fruit of the Spirit? Does the couple spend time in the Word and in prayer, individually and together?  Would the couple’s check book and calendar suggest they were Disciples of Christ? Are they more other-centered today than they were two years ago, Etc.?

Stephen Arterburn has written a book entitled The 7 Minute Marriage Solution.  I will now commit one of the all-time unforgivable acts.  I’m going to tell you how the book ends.  In the last chapter, sixteen, Steve gives us his formula for transforming your marriage into one that honors God.  It starts with a focused seven minutes.  During a seven minute period he instructs the couple to read a devotional together, read a verse or two from Scripture, discuss it, and pray together.  He is not adverse to the couple spending more than seven minutes but that is a start.  Apparently he has co-authored a thematic Bible and may have even structured it in a way that takes you through this seven minute process.  I just ordered a copy, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday, 2 December 2013

In Spite of

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 1Corinthians 5:14-15

Andy Stanley’s series on families (futurefamilies.org) is triggering a number of thoughts for me to ponder, which is apparent from my recent postings.  One of the things that I was not prepared to deal with as a new counselor were the number of clients who were struggling in their marriage, who at the same time had some significant issues with someone in their past.  The wounds they carried may have been inflicted by one or both parents, a sibling, another relative or someone they dated.

Often the anger the person was harboring toward the person who wounded them gets expressed toward their spouse who had nothing to do with the hurt.  In previous postings I have talked about the need for us to forgive those who have left a negative, indelible mark on us.  One reason is because our lack of forgiveness creates a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) in us that often manifests itself in a relation with someone else.

The verses for today remind us and challenge us.  As a born again Christian we should feel “compelled” to love even the unlovable.  Why?  Because in spite of our continued transgressions Christ has forgiven us.  Christ died on the cross even for the one who has so grievously hurt you.


In turn verse 15 basically says, “get over yourself, if I (God) can forgive you for your sins, past, present and future; and endure the pain, and humiliation of the cross, for you and the one who sinned against you, who are you to not forgive such a one?”

We as Christians can be so glib when we acknowledge that Christ died for us on Calvary.  Jesus not only died an excruciating death for you and me, He was separated from the Father and incurred the Father’s wrath, for a brief period in history when your sins and mine were heaped on His shoulders.

In these verses God is saying, my Son died for you so that you might die to yourself.  And in dying to yourself you would be willing to at the very least reach out to the person who has sinned against you.  After all that is what my Son has done for you.

Forgiveness is a must or it will eat away at you, physically or emotionally over time (Matthew 6:14-15).  You are not expected to forget or condone in any way what was done to you.  However Christ’s death should compel you to attempt to reach out to the one who hurt you.