Friday, 17 January 2014

Look in the Mirror

Every once in a while The Wall Street Journal runs an article about marriage.  One recent article was entitled “Spouse, Change Thyself”.  As far as it went there was nothing wrong with their advice.  More specifically the advice was to change your reaction to the attitude or behavior that you find objectionable.

Part of that strategy calls for anticipating the reoccurrence of the attitude / behavior in question and deciding how you will respond.  For example if your typical response to the unsatisfactory behavior is to yell or nag – don’t.   If your normal reaction to the distasteful attitude is to go toe-to-toe and argue, try withdrawing.  Try to take the “higher road”, refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the other person’s habits, behaviors or attitudes.  Your response is a matter of choice.

It stands to reason that if your response is less confrontational and less unpleasant there is a chance that your partner might change.  There is however a broader concept in play.  You really can’t change your spouse, they can only change themselves.  You might influence how they act but that is the best you can hope for.

In addition to changing your negative reaction to an oft repeated transgression decide what else you need to change.  Take a good hard look in the mirror.  What are the irritating mannerisms that you bring to the marriage?   What do you do that adds frustration to your spouse’s existence?  What behaviors do you exhibit that drive your partner nuts?  These are also things you can change.

So whether you change how you react or change how you act, your change can have a profound effect on your marriage and it’s all within your control.

From a Biblical perspective what you will probably find is that what is often amiss is the love and respect that Ephesians 5:33 calls for.  There is a reasonably good chance that the wife’s annoying behavior or disagreeable attitude comes across to her husband as disrespectful.  And the husband’s infractions most likely come across to his wife as unloving.  Just a guess. Take a look at yourself!


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Personal Blogs from God?

“10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.” Romans 14:10-12 the Message

Most recently I have been receiving different blogs that seem to have been written directly to me.  Since I do not know any of the bloggers personally I’m assuming the messages may have come to me by “chance”.  Right!  See how often the word chance shows up in the Bible.  The NIV translation of the above verse, though much shorter, doesn’t provide much comfort.  Verse 12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  If that makes you feel more comfortable – go with it.

It is easy to deceive yourself as you get older, to tell yourself that your tightly held opinions about life and people are accurate and stem from vast knowledge attributed to experience.  The truth is that cynicism can become an all too comfortable companion for an older person.  “I can remember when…” is often the beginning of a diatribe of how things used to be.  How ludicrous is that?  To begin a statement with “I can remember...” from someone who spends much of their day looking for things they misplaced seems a little ironic.

I find that all these less than subtle reminders that the Lord has been sending me drives me back to the Great Commandment, i.e. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength…and your neighbor as yourself.”   It is all the more important when you are playing in life’s fourth quarter that we make absolutely certain that our husbands/wives know how much we love them; that our children, if we have been blessed with any, know how much we adore them; that the people we meet each day sense a feeling of God’s approval and love.

The nice thing about becoming “more mature” is that we no longer have to be concerned with what others think of us. And if we are fortunate enough to have any contact with today’s younger generation we have the privilege of letting them experience the love of Christ.

Monday, 13 January 2014

“I’ve Been There”

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.” The Voice

Did you ever think that Jesus would not ask us to experience something that he hasn’t experienced, not to mention that He gives us the strength to see it through?  Think about the most difficult and trying circumstances that you have ever faced. Think about your most pressing problem(s). Consider your greatest disappointment.  Can you recall someone close to you who hurt you deeply?

God has not allowed or produced a circumstance in our life which did not have his unerring stamp of approval on it, for the express purpose of drawing us closer to Him and transforming us to become more like the Son.

Your response to paragraph one might be, “Yes but He never…” or “He didn’t…” or “He was the Son of God so naturally…”  It is too easy for us to dismiss what Christ in his humanness experienced.  He was flesh and blood.  He was a Jew hated by the Jewish leaders.  He came to, among other things, bring His people counter-cultural messages and teachings which were dramatic departures from the Law.  Don’t you think he was hurt by the betrayal of Judas or the denial of Peter even though He knew those decisions were all part of the grand plan? Don’t you think He was disappointed when only one of the ten persons who had been healed from their leprous condition returned to give thanks?  Pressing problems where would you start?  Don’t you think if you were one of over 5000 people who were fed with a few loaves of bread that you would follow that person wherever they led you?

“Okay, already, I get the picture”, you say, “But give me a break, you want me to basically believe that everything that has and will happen to me is ultimately for my good?”  Yes.  I believe that is what Romans 8:28 is all about.

Let’s connect the dots.  Some of you have faced very trying circumstances with your husband / wife or because of your partner.  Your most pressing problems may be in the area(s) of finance, parenting, aging parents, health issues or the condition of your marriage.  The God who provides your next breath is well aware of your circumstances.  He wants you to deal with these issues in a way that would bring Him glory.  For born again believers He has provided us with His Holy Spirit so that we don’t have to travel life’s most difficult journeys alone.

“13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1Corinthians 10:13 The Message