Friday, 16 May 2014

Marriage is Like a Dance

“Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NIV

To say that I have two left feet would be giving me more credit than I would deserve.  I can clap in time to music but that hardly equates to having a sense of rhythm.  All this is to say that if marriage is really like a dance my wife and I could be in real trouble.

In general the man is responsible for leading his fair maiden around the dance floor.  The more adept he is at guiding her the easier it is for her to follow his lead and for them to appear to be graceful.  The man isn’t forceful, he doesn’t push and shove them around the floor but by merely using the slightest pressure on his partner’s back or by moving his arm in such a way that she natural goes where he is directing her they move in unison.  This is poetry in motion.

All this is to say, though seemingly not politically correct, someone has to lead and it should be the man.  I am not a chauvinist nor a domineering, control freak.  Most anyone who has taken a class from me is aware that I am quick to acknowledge how clueless most of us men tend to be.  I am just convinced that it was God’s plan that man should be the servant leader, protector and provider of his family.  I am not big on the “S” word unless it is as stated in Ephesians 5:21 which says that as brothers and sisters in Christ we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, NOT out of reverence for one another.

I do not believe that God does anything haphazardly, without a purpose.  There was a reason man was created first and Eve taken from his rib.  God could have created them simultaneously.  God could have created a creature that was fully contained in one body, needing no one else but someone else just like himself/herself.  God created them equal in every way but different in terms of their makeup.  Adam was given authority to name the animals.  That assignment was symbolic of where Adam stood positionally in the kingdom.  Eve was created to be his helper for surely Adam needed one.  The Hebrew term for helper is ezer, meaning “to make up for the deficiency of”.

There seems to be a movement on today to make women more like men and men more like women.  It is unfortunate that verse 5:21 comes before 5:25 and 5:33.  I would hope that any woman would defer to any man who was attempting to love her as much as Christ loved His bride and as much as he loves himself.  By definition he will always have her best interest at heart.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How Many Times Must I Forgive Him/Her?

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24, ESV).

I was recently reminded of what an important part forgiveness plays in our ability to relate to one another.  Obviously that includes our ability to forgive our spouse, the one we have vowed to love in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, richer or poorer, till death do us part.  Except if I become unhappy, disenchanted and/or disillusioned with said person I want to retain the right to seek happiness elsewhere. 

Equally as important is for each of us to forgive those people in our past who we have not forgiven.  What we fail to realize is that the wounds we suffered at the hands of a parent, a sibling, a teacher, etc., who we have truly not forgiven are often showing up in our current relationships.  Consider the daughter who was ignored by her father.  She is craving the affirmation, attention and love that she never received and expects her husband to fill her emotional needs basket.  The husband on the other hand never lived up to his father’s expectations as an athlete and has never felt good enough.   He is too preoccupied with his own emptiness to give thought to the emotional needs of his wife.

Some of us are angry people, much of that comes from unresolved issues as we were growing up.  Fear and the need to control are two possible underlying causes of anger.  All sorts of dysfunctional family dynamics could leave an imprint on a child that would leave him/her fearful or needing to control.

A preacher who was delivering this message about forgiveness had a very effective visual aid.  First he told his congregants to get a piece of paper.  Then they were to write down the names of everyone who came to mind who had hurt them, including what that person owed them.  Perhaps a sister stole your boyfriend and went to the prom with him.  Perhaps a co-worker presented your idea as his/hers and got a promotion that should have been yours.    What do they owe you?  Is it even conceivable that they could somehow pay back the debt?

Then the pastor folded the paper in half.  He drew the figure of a cross on the paper.  He then took a lighter and set the paper ablaze. (Make sure you have a fireproof receptacle nearby).   The hope is that such a gesture will allow us to begin to heal as we remember through the cross how Christ has forgiven us.

Monday, 12 May 2014

I’m In a Hurry Lord

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34 NIV

There are times when I think that if I looked up the definition of the word “impatient” in the dictionary my name would somehow be attached.  Booting up my computer seems to take forever; the one minute setting on the microwave seems to take three to complete; it takes too long for the weekend to come; I usually click my mouse before I’ve finished reading the small print; it seems like winter never leaves; why do I have to go through 20 automated questions before I get to talk to a real person?; and why are the speeds on the freeway reduced for construction when obviously there is no one is working?

I’m just getting warmed up but I think you get the picture.  I multi-task, thinking I get more done in a shorter period of time and get frustrated when my routine gets broken.  Too often I’m looking ahead to the next pleasant event and missing what is happening today.  I have been stupid enough to even be critical of God’s plan of “free will” because I want to be sanctified now!

My goal shouldn’t be moving through life’s events more quickly, particularly at my age.  My guess is that if the Lord had wanted to create the earth in one day He could have but He took seven (literally or figuratively).   I have asked the Lord to make me more patient, after all it is a Fruit of the Spirit.  My fear is that He is answering my prayer by making my life a learning laboratory. What better way of teaching me to be more patient than to drive me to the end of myself by frustrating me with opportunities to be more patient?   I need to slow down instead of thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them.  I need to take time to reflect on my responses and observe the consequences of my actions and choices.  I need to be able to say, “This is a day that the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.”

The Fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control.  For those who are born again believers we receive all nine characteristics at the moment we receive the Holy Spirit.  You will notice that “Fruit of the Spirit” is singular, it is not fruits.   However I do not believe we develop them in equal measure.  My guess is, that like me, you have at least one Fruit of the Spirit that needs cultivating.