Friday, 11 April 2014

Is Your Life Full of Potholes?

In the United States our road systems are reasonably good and fairly well maintained.  However this past winter in the Northeast has been brutal and it has taken its toll on our roadways.  I find myself weaving down the road trying to miss huge, cavernous openings in the road, big enough to swallow a Smart Car.

If my car were to drive over one of these potholes it can do much damage.  Certainly my car will most likely be out of alignment, but I’m liable to get a flat tire, bend a rim and/or lose a hubcap.  Potholes are to be avoided at all costs.

Then it dawned on me.  Some of us have marriages that resemble roads with potholes.  In this case the pothole is a subject or topic that we know we should steer clear of.  It could be finances, disciplining the children, in-laws, sex or any number of touchy areas that are sure to raise the ire of one or both partners.  Conflict is inevitable.

To avoid potholes in the road I will actually take a different route.  To avoid a difficult conversation I might withdraw, change the subject or go on the offensive.  Such a tactic on the road is prudent, such a tactic in marriage is fraught with problems.

Conflict is one of the things that many of us do not handle well.  Hopefully the potholes on the road will be addressed by the local municipalities and filled by early summer.  The potholes in the marriage can best be repaired by addressing them head on with humility, mercy and grace.

The conflict exists because you have opposing opinions or at the very least opposing purposes.  What if you had a common purpose which was to resolve the conflict in a way that would glorify God?    If your purpose is to glorify God you would seek a way of resolving your differences in a way that would treat your spouse with dignity.   You would be more inclined to seek a solution that incorporated both of your points of view.  Conflict presents an opportunity to learn from one another.  You each bring a different perspective comprised of gender and personality differences and life experiences.  Conflict provides you with an opportunity to value one another and most likely arrive at a solution that is preferable.

Dodging the potholes in a marriage will do far more damage in the long run than seeking God’s will and bringing honor to Him.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Love and Take God Seriously

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—     take God seriously.  Micah 6:8
The Message

Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.  You gotta love it!  If we as “aliens and strangers in this world” would just cling to that phrase we would be way ahead of the game.  We get so preoccupied with “stuff”.  Things that are important get shoved aside by the tyranny of the urgent.  This is particularly true in our instant access, instant gratification culture.  A couple who is in desperate need of quality time to build their relationship gets interrupted by the smart phone.  The desire to own something that is a non-essential, discretionary item gets purchased even though we are only able to pay the minimum against our monthly credit card bill.

There are very few situations that we face that God doesn’t address somewhere in His Word.  God’s lead foot, if you will, is love.  In God’s economy a cell phone would never trump a relationship and we would never buy something that we can’t afford to buy, particularly if it is a non-essential item.  Take God seriously.

Learning to laugh at yourself has to be one of the most cathartic things that one can do.  I had just had my first corporate transfer.  I was in a back office which adjoined that of my boss.  I came back from lunch and began to feel very drowsy and light headed and I must have put my head down on my arm which was resting on my desk.  The sound of the adjoining door opening must have startled me.  I’m sure my boss thought I was sleeping at my desk, though he never said anything.  After our conversation I went into a restroom to splash cold water on my face.  When I looked in the mirror I saw the imprint of my watch on my forehead.  I didn’t laugh just then but I have many times since.  Hardly a day goes by when something I do or say isn’t enough to have me committed to a home for the aged.

Let us not forget this phrase did not come from Micah, though he may have penned it, but from God who inspired it.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Leadership in the Home

“Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to be a servant—to offer His life as a ransom for others.” Mark 10:45

There are many ways to display leadership in a home.   However, the mere suggestion that the husband should be the leader has become counter-cultural.  Most often TV depicts husbands as clueless buffoons.  The momentum to an egalitarian society is good in some ways and not so good in others.

The Bible tells husbands to be servant leader, protector and provider for his family.  He is to be the head of the home just as Christ is the head of the church.  When culture determines that the Biblical model needs to be adjusted to suit what mankind believes is more current we are on a very slippery slope.

Obviously if the husband is a domineering jerk (a Biblical term) he is not leading as the Bible instructs.

Andy Stanley has a novel idea – why not emulate the leadership style of Jesus.  This approach could apply to men and women.  He suggests asking one simple question, “How can I help you today?”  Ask your wife, ask your kids, ask your husband, ask your co-workers – well you get the idea. 

Much of the problem gets back to our own self-centeredness.  We want control, we want what is best for us, we want to be happy, fulfilled and nourished.  Even the apostles didn’t get it as Jesus was nearing the end of His life.   In Mark chapter ten Jesus just concludes telling his apostles that the Jews will condemn Him to die.  He will be handed over to the gentiles who will mock him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.  The very next discourse in Mark is between Jesus, John and James who are basically ignoring what Jesus has just shared and what to know if they can be privileged to sit on the right and left of Jesus when He inherits His throne.  Talk about self-centered.  The other apostles were outraged, not because John and James appeared to lack compassion, they were jealous because they too wanted a position of honor in the Kingdom that was to come.

The lesson is obvious, if we want people to relate to us, to hear our testimony, to see what it truly means to have a Christian marriage we need to humble ourselves and be willing to help one another.