When Gifts Lose Their Luster

When Gifts Lose Their Luster

By Tim Challies

Silver TarnishThere are times I grow weary of good things. Things I love. Things I would not want to live without. Things that have the ability to make my heart beat a little bit faster and keep my mind racing when I ought to be asleep. They are good things, but somehow, through time or familiarity or neglect or something else, they begin to feel not so good. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it seems to be yet another cost of being a sinful person in a sinful world. Even the best things feel like bad things at times.

The Bible is one of God’s great gifts. Without it I would be hopelessly and utterly lost. I would not know who I am, who God is, or what he desires from me. That Bible is living and active, it is the very words of God recorded and preserved for me. Reading the Bible saved my soul and transformed my life. It gave me meaning and purpose and direction. And yet even it can seem so humdrum at times. Drab. Uninteresting. A chore. A duty. Even it can seem like a not-so-good thing.

There is no one on this earth I love more than my wife. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. I am deeply dependent upon her—I’ve been married to her for almost my entire adulthood—and really wouldn’t know how to go about life without her. I love her dearly. Yet at times, too many times, I can find myself growing frustrated with her. Short-tempered. Surly. Just plain angry. In those moments, or in those extended times, it’s like I’ve grown weary of the gift. For a time that good thing becomes a not-so-good thing.

Children. Vocation. Location. Everything I love, every good gift, can fade in time.

I have come to realize something about those times when I grow weary of good gifts: This weariness makes a statement about me, not the gift. The weariness is so often a direct result of my neglect. I have neglected to cherish the gift and honor the giver.

Kevin DeYoung says “The most effective means for bolstering our confidence in the Bible is to spend time in the Bible.” And in the same way, the most effective means for increasing our love for the Bible is to spend time in the Bible. To know it is to love it. When I don’t love it, it’s inevitably because I haven’t been spending time in it. There is no gift of God that returns commitment with apathy. No, the commitment returns confidence, love, respect, enjoyment, gratitude.

The most effective means for sustaining and increasing my love for my wife is to spend time with her. If and when I find myself growing weary of such a good gift, the problem is me, not her. The problem is inevitably my neglect. I have stopped spending time with her, pursuing her, enjoying her. I have stopped seeing her as God’s good and perfectly-chosen gift.

In a world like this, and in a sinner like me, even the best gifts lose their luster. Or they seem to. The gifts lose their luster when I neglect to honor the giver and to cherish the gift.

Advertisements

7 Acts of Grace in Marriage

7 Acts of Grace in a Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

dancingAfter years of working with marriages, including my own, I’ve come to a conclusion. Marriages that struggle are often lacking one key ingredient. It’s something that, when missing from any relationship, will cause trouble in the relationship. The missing ingredient is called grace. And, when applied appropriately, it’s amazing.

If the marriage is struggling, one remedy is to apply more grace. Of course, it ultimately takes two people to make the marriage work, but one way to improve things is to interject more grace. When both parties are grace-giving to each other, the marriage can soar.

Here are 7 acts of grace in a marriage:

Recognize differences – You first have to know them, but you have to give grace for your uniqueness. No two people in the world are alike and that’s never realized as more true than in a marriage relationship. The more you understand those differences the better you’ll be able to grow the strength of the marriage. And, if you live in the grace of marriage you’ll spend a lifetime in discovery…never believing you’ve got this person completely figured out, but always dating, always exploring new dreams together, always learning about each other.

Respect differences – It is not enough just to know the differences, you have to accept them. Respect them. This doesn’t mean making excuses for them but fully embracing the other person’s uniqueness as a gift to the marriage and allowing them to work for the marriage rather than against it. I’m an introvert. My wife is an extrovert. I can’t always be introverted and respect her extroversion. And vice-versa. I need to talk and listen sometime for her. She needs to allow quiet sometimes for me, but when we blend the two differences together, we become a power couple for the ministry God has given us.

Clear boundaries – Don’t hold your spouse accountable for what they don’t know. Understand the unique needs of each person to keep the marriage strong. Establish the boundaries that are reasonable and agreed upon by both spouses, then live within them. It’s not legalism, it’s giving grace to the other person. For example, I know that Cheryl needs quality time. It’s her love language. I extend grace to her when I protect my schedule to spend ample time with her during the week. She knows I am fueled on her respect of me, so she “graces” me by not speaking down to me in public.

Forgive easily – Have high standards for your marriage, but recognize two imperfect people are trying to uphold them. You’ll make mistakes. Both of you. You aren’t perfect. And, neither is the person you married. You extend grace when you practice granting forgiveness more than you practice holding a grudge.

Serve expecting nothing in return – Part of gracing one another is doing for each other with no strings attached. The goal is not a 50/50 partnership, but that each spouse extend 100% grace to one another. When a couple mutually submits to one another…even out-serving each other…the bond of the marriage is strengthened. (See Ephesians 5:21)

Extend trust – A marriage won’t grow far beyond where trust is still being earned. Many of us bring our own hurts into a marriage. It can be difficult to place full confidence in the other person, especially after mistakes are made. For a marriage flourish, you have to risk being hurt and extend the grace of trust. (There will be those reading this who have had reasons to mistrust their spouse…I get that…and it takes time to recover from severe hurt in the marriage. At some point, however, for the marriage to ever be all it should be, a risk of trust will have to be given again. That takes grace.)

Love the mundane – Let’s be honest. We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes, if things aren’t moving fast enough, we can fall into routines and life can be boring. That bothers some of us more than others. For some of us, we love the big…the grandiose. We love the mountaintop weekends and the pinnacle vacations. We want every moment of our life to be extraordinaire. And, frankly, it’s not. It can’t be. And, if we aren’t careful, we can get bored even in the marriage. In fact, I’d be bold enough to say boredom is a leading cause of marriages that fall into trouble. It often starts there at least. Grace in a marriage means that we learn to love the highs…which is easy…and the lows…which is hard…and the mundane…which is sometimes…for some people…the hardest of all.

Can I ask you a question? Will you be honest with yourself?

7 (More) Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

7 More Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

SEVEN (MORE) WAYS TO DESTROY YOUR MARRIAGE

Want to absolutely destroy your marriage? Seven ways were listed yesterday and here are seven more ways that always work.

1. ALWAYS USE WORDS LIKE “ALWAYS” AND “NEVER”

Power words that exclude any possibility of an exception are great ways to drive your point home while also belittling your spouse.  There is nothing quite like telling the other person that they are a 100% failure to wreck your relationship.

2. USE YOUR FAMILY AS A WEAPON

One-on-one conflict is not nearly as fun as a tag-team attack; especially when your partners in the assault are your spouse’s in-laws.  Not only do you dislike the person you are married to, now your family hates their guts as well.

3. UTILIZE YOUR AMAZING MIND READING ABILITIES

When something is said or done that you don’t like, immediately assume that you know the thoughts and intentions behind the action.  Essentially tell your spouse that you know how to read their mind and know the thoughts and intentions of their heart even better than they do.  Now, you are not only their spouse, but their god.

4. EXPECT YOUR SPOUSE TO BE ABLE TO READ YOUR MIND

You know how to read your spouse’s mind, so they most certainly must know how to read your mind.  Demand that you don’t have to use words because others should be able to know what you are thinking and why you do the things that you do.

5. UTILIZE EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL

There is nothing quite as loving as telling your spouse, “If you love me you would…”  Obviously your wants, expectations, and felt needs are the most important in the relationship.  Be sure to let your spouse know that whenever your emotional needs aren’t met they have not simply fallen short of your hopes, but have declared that they do not love you at all as a person.

6. NEVER FORGIVE

You have to hold onto grudges.  Make them beg to be forgiven, but in order to maintain control in the relationship and keep those bitter feelings and angry thoughts, ensure that you treasure unforgiveness in your heart.  If your spouse apologizes, assume that the apology was not from the heart. Besides, you certainly don’t want to extend the grace you want from your spouse back to your spouse; that would simply be unreasonable.

7. NEVER APOLOGIZE

Remember, you have no need of saying, “I’m sorry” since anything that could be perceived as being your fault was somehow ultimately your spouse’s fault.  Sure, you demand your spouse apologize, but since you are God’s gift to your spouse, you must never humble yourself with an apology of your own.  There is nothing like a double-standard to help destroy your marriage and maintain your justified sense of self-righteousness.

 

7 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

SEVEN WAYS TO DESTROY YOUR MARRIAGE

Perry Noble 

Want to absolutely destroy your marriage? Here are seven ways that always work.

1. REFUSE TO COMMUNICATE

Talk about the person and not to them because doing so will be awkward. This will ensure destruction, and the silent treatment is really an amazing weapon when it comes to refusing to communicate. (Don’t worry about the fact that five-year-olds do it… just own it!)

2. REFUSE TO LISTEN

Interrupting my spouse during conflict to immediately correct them and then trying my best to make a stronger point always helps tear a relationship to pieces.

3. ALWAYS ASSUME THE ABSOLUTE WORST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE

As soon as I hear (or even think) something negative about my spouse, it is absolutely essential to carry that thought to its fullest illogical conclusion. Don’t ever ask for an explanation or clarification as more open communication will only lead to a stronger marriage.

4. MAKE SURE THE GOAL IS TO WIN THE ARGUMENT RATHER THAN ACTUALLY SETTLE THE DISPUTE

If you realize you are wrong about something, you must allow pride to dominate your thoughts. This will unleash a barrage of accusations that actually have nothing to do with what the original argument or discussion was about in the first place. Win at all costs, even if it means saying things that hurt and wound deeply.

5. YOU MUST VIEW YOUR SPOUSE AS YOUR ENEMY, NOT YOUR FRIEND

If you want a great marriage, you cannot see your spouse and you as being on the same team. You must view everything as some sort of game and make it a goal to compete with them and not actually complete them.

6. FOCUS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ON THEIR INADEQUACIES AND SHORTCOMINGS

You’ve got to talk about how much they are “not meeting your needs” and how they need to “step up and do better” more often. By all means do not take a good look at yourself and what you could do to improve the marriage. Everything must be blamed on them and you’ve got to see yourself as flawless and perfect.

7. DO NOT HAVE FUN TOGETHER

Heck no! You need your set of friends and your spouse needs their set. Don’t have mutual friends. Don’t have date nights. Don’t do anything fun as a family. Also, make sure that when you are out on a date as a couple you spend as much time on your phone as possible because communication with your spouse will do nothing except make your marriage stronger.

The Marriage Covenant

The-Marriage-Covenant

Grandview Christian Assembly has been spending several weeks working through 1 Corinthians 7 – a chapter loaded with marriage theology.   One aspect of marriage is that it is more than simply an agreement between two people or a human legal arrangement.  Marriage is a covenant in the eyes of God.  The marriage covenant is a picture of the holy covenant of God with His people.  It is something holy and something not to be treated lightly.

A friend, who does not attend GCA, asked me today about a written resource she could use to assist some Christians who are married, are struggling in their marriage, and had not been introduced to the biblical view of marriage as a covenant.  After some digging around, I came across an article from the Resurgence in 2011 that presented the concept simply, and yet from several different angles.  I have reproduced it below:

MARRIAGE IN GOD’S STORY

Phil Smidt 

IN THE BEGINNING

The story of God is one of Good News, and it begins with a wedding ceremony.

After God created the heavens and earth and filled it, he made the man and the woman, uniting them in marriage.

God created marriage for his purposes, not ours, as marriage belongs to him. He determined marriage as a sacred union on which he would build the foundation for establishing families and, ultimately, society and culture. 

MARRIAGE IS

God defined marriage from the beginning: an intimate, covenant relationship between one man and one woman lasting a lifetime (Genesis 2:24Proverbs 2:16-17Malachi 2:14).

Biblically, Moses first characterized marriage: “Therefore (because of marriage – my emphasis) a man shall leave his father and his mother, hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In the New Testament, both Jesus (Matthew 19:5Mark 10:6–7) and Paul (Ephesians 5:32) affirm Moses and agree with God’s definition of marriage:

  • It is exclusive (one man and his wife).
  • It is not defined by temporal family ties but by permanent covenantal promises (leave father and mother).
  • It is a lifetime commitment (hold fast).
  • Intimacy (oneness) ensues (they become one flesh).

However, marriage was never meant as an end to itself.

As the story of God begins to unfold, he reveals his greater intention for marriage.

A COVENANT PROMISE

God’s love for his people has always been steadfast and sure, and he holds fast to them in a permanent, exclusive, intimate, covenantal relationship.

Vows and promises are the basis for a covenant. On a wedding day, the bride and groom make vows to one another, promising to love each other solely for a lifetime, regardless of circumstances.

Throughout Scripture, there are numerous parallels drawn between the covenant promises of God and his chosen people and the covenant promises of a husband and wife in marriage. Specifically, God calls himself “husband” and his people, “bride” (Isaiah 54:562:5Jeremiah 2:2Revelation 19:721:29,22:17).

GOD IS BETTER AT PROMISES THAN WE ARE

A problem has existed since Genesis 3 regarding the difference between God’s covenants and ours: 

  • God makes promises and keeps them.
  • We make promises and break them.

When the people of God sin against him and chase after other gods, their sinful deeds are named ‘spiritual adultery’ and ‘whoredom’—strong language for sin, but an accurate description of the relationally destructive nature of our rebellion against a loving, trustworthy, and Holy God (Hosea, Jeremiah 3:6–2131:32, Ezekiel 23, Psalm 106:39).

We don’t sin in a vacuum. Someone is always, beginning with God, sinned against. But continually, a passionate, faithful God pursues and intervenes, providing payment for sin that is sufficient and everlasting for rebellious children who repent.  

JESUS AND MARRIAGE

Ephesians 5:23–32 reveals more of God’s plan for Christian marriage as it is written specifically to Spirit-filled husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:1,18): “This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). The mystery refers to God’s plan of redemption for his church (his bride), collectively all who have received salvation through Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

This powerful image of Christ, and the church in general, also permeates the marriage of one man and one woman, specifically applying itself in the daily details of their life together. Without Jesus, it is impossible for the husband and wife to muster up enough strength, loving feelings, or good intentions to fulfill their biblical role and calling in marriage. But because of him, two sinful, completely different individuals can be miraculously transformed into one.

ROLES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE DEFINED BY THE CROSS

It is clear the Biblical roles of husband and wife are less about what the couple should do and more about what Jesus has done for them. 

Christian wives can look to the cross and see Jesus who freely submitted himself to the will of the Father to die in her place (Ephesians 5:22–24). Her submissive response is not to be one of begrudging foot-dragging, competition with her husband, or a fearful power struggle, but joyful and purposeful, just like Christ’s attitude was for her (Hebrews 12:2).

Likewise, Christian husbands can look to the cross and see Jesus, who in love and humility laid his life aside to die for the man’s sin. Jesus then defeated death and rose to live for and lead the church, providing for its needs (Philippians 2:3–8). In the same way, Christ now calls husbands to die to themselves and live for and lead their wives and children in bringing attention and glory to God, not to rule as controlling tyrants or disappear as cowardly abdicators (Ephesians 5:25–30).

GOD’S VISION FOR MARRIAGE

Spirit-filled married couples have the opportunity to know and accept each other deeply, as they learn that loving someone else isn’t natural, nor does it come easily. They get to love because Christ loves them (1 John 4:10–11). They don’t need to fear intimacy or confessing sin, they can walk in the freedom of faith and repentance. Since they have been graced and forgiven they can offer grace and forgiveness to each other. Because God has been kind to them, they can be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

As helpful companions who see their spouse as a precious gift from God, together they get to face the blessings, trials, and unexpected surprises of life, saturate their children with Jesus, serve brothers and sisters in the church, and share the gospel with neighbors, extended families and co-workers. Just as Jesus continues to intentionally pursue and love them, they get to creatively pursue and love each other, building a God-honoring legacy as they grow old together.

WEDDED BLISS

The Bible ends with a wedding ceremony. In Revelation 19:6–9, the story of God culminates in Jesus bringing his Bride, the church, home to live with him permanently. Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation throughout history, whether anticipating his coming or looking back to when he came, will live with him forever.

The marriage supper of the Lamb proves that the covenant-keeping God honors his promises. That is your hope, and will always be the hope of the Bride of Christ.

Duck Dynasty Stars on Abstinence Before Marriage

‘Duck Dynasty’ Stars Jase and Missy on Abstinence Before Marriage

By Anugrah Kumar, CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR

Jase and MissyJase and Missy Robertson from A&E’s popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” said in a recent interview that they chose to remain abstinent until marriage as per God’s desire, and also spoke about their family values and faith in God.

“We were both virgins when we got married until our wedding night,” Jase said in an interview, whose video recording has been posted on the website of the non-profit group Abstinence Clearinghouse. “We decided to do it God’s way and basically had a godly agreement that we would help each other get to heaven,” he said.

The “Duck Dynasty” series revolves around the Robertson family-owned duck call business in Louisiana, Duck Commander, and their strong Christian faith. The company produces duck hunting products, including a duck call.

A staggering 11.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere of the fourth season of the series earlier this month to make it the most watched reality show ever on cable television.

“What attracted us to each other was what we saw in each other in our faith,” Missy, Jase’s wife, said. “We’ve been very happy for 22 years before the money started coming in,” she added.

Missy said they can now see the same commitment in their children. “And what an influence we can have on our children with that testimony. Our oldest son has been dating a great girl for over a year and a half and they also have the same commitment,” she said. “So it’s just such a wonderful joyous time as a parent to see that and the commitment they have as children wanting to do that also.”

Jase added the world will benefit if they followed God’s desire. “A lot of people just think that that’s unreasonable or preposterous,” he said. “But you know, if everybody chose to do it God’s way, the world would be a lot better off.”

Jase also shared why he believes fame and fortune are frivolous to him. “…We were raised really poor, my brothers, we had one bed, one room. But nobody told us we were poor and I was just as happy,” he said. “The reason is because we loved who we were with, with our family. That’s really the reason why we love to hunt. It’s not so much about what we get to eat or how many ducks we shoot, it’s about who we’re with.”

Jase stated that following God brings happiness in a family. “It’s a great testimony because we’re like, ‘Look, we don’t do this because we’re representing some organization. We do it because we trust in God and we believe that His way is the better way, in all things in life,” he said. “I’m going to use whatever God blesses me with as a platform to tell the world that God is for you. He proved it through sending Jesus down here to die for us and be resurrected. And for us that gives us second chances and it gives us hope, and so we spread that message everywhere.”

All the cast members of the series often display their Christian faith in the episodes and are seen at the end of each program engaging in prayer.

The men of the family, brothers Phil and Si, and Phil’s sons Jase, Willie, and Jep, have become popular for their signature beards. Phil Robertson started the business in a family shed and spent 25 years making duck calls from Louisiana cedar trees.

Fighting Through Marriage’s “Big Five”

2013-05-20-lestug.jpg

Fighting Through “The Big Five”

By Les & Leslie Parrott

We not only share the same first name, but the same passion for helping other couples build better relationships. As a psychologist (Les) and a marriage and family therapist (Leslie), married since 1984, we don’t claim to have a perfect relationship. We fight — just like every other couple on the planet. But we’ve learned a secret: There’s a revolutionary difference between a bad fight and a good fight.

When a couple learns to fight a good fight the conflict actually brings them closer. That’s at the center of our latest book, The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring You Closer.

All couples fight over the same five things: money, sex, work, parenting, and housework. Most argue about these five issues over and over again, mainly because they are hot buttons — stressors that speak to our sense of love and fairness.

Here are some proven tools to help you cool down “The Big Five.”

Money

Allow us to say it straight: Money fights between couples are rarely about money. So if you want to minimize a currency conflict, trace it back to the fear that’s fueling it.

Instead of fighting over the amount of money that was spent on who-knows-what, shift the focus toward what really matters: (1) your fear of not having influence in important issues impacting your life, (2) your fear of not having security in your future, (3) your fear of having no respect shown for your values, or (4) your fear of not realizing your dreams.

Sex

To keep sexual grievances down and the marital bedsprings bouncing, we recommend focusing on solving “coordination failure.” It’s a common problem in marriages. The number-one reason people report not having sex in their marriage is “too tired,” followed closely by “not in the mood.” Most of the time, that’s code, knowingly or not, for having mismatched libidos.

Next, discuss your sex drives. As we write this, we can almost feel you cringing. For most couples, talking about sex is about as comfortable as sleeping in a car. Yet it’s a conversation that’s critically important to aligning your libidos and minimizing your conflicts. When the time is right, when both of you are relaxed and not distracted, ask each other to explain when you feel most frisky? Your answers may surprise you. A friend recently discovered that his wife found him sexiest when he wore a suit. He joked that he was thinking about wearing it to bed.

Work

We’ve got two words for you: date night. We know. You’ve heard this a thousand times: Do a weekly date night or your marriage will suffer. Sounds more like a threat than friendly advice, doesn’t it? But it’s a surefire way to keep career conflict to a minimum.

In spite of this frequent advice, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through. Here’s how often married people, aged twenty-five to fifty with two or more children, have a date night:

  • Once a week: 4 percent
  • Once a month: 21 percent
  • Once every two to three months: 21 percent
  • Once every four to six months: 18 percent
  • Once every seven months or less often: 36 percent

Yikes! We can do better than that, and there’s good reason to do it. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia recently released a report titled “The Date Night Opportunity.” This study found that husbands and wives who set aside a deliberate time to connect and have fun at least once a week were approximately three and a half times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages.

Children

The solution for nearly any parenting conflict is found in getting on the same page and presenting a unified front. Otherwise, your kids play you against each other and add fuel to the parenting fire. Conflict decreases as teamwork increases. It may not be easy to agree with your spouse on the rules and standards you are willing to enforce with your kids. That’s why the first order of business is to iron out differences behind closed doors.

Don’t try to solve your parenting squabbles in the moment — while the kids enjoy the show. The time for presenting your ideas and negotiating trade-offs is when the two of you are alone. Once you reach agreement, stick together. When parents present a united front, there’s no room for recriminating I-told-you-so’s.

Chores

Let’s face it, most housework fights come about because one spouse is keeping score. That’s a bad idea. The scales of marriage are always in flux, and you’re only setting yourselves up for turmoil if you’ve installed a figurative scoreboard in your relationship. Using the division of labor approach does away with all that.

Trina, for example, is better and faster than Dan at both doing the dishes and tidying up around the house. In fact, she does it in half the time it takes him. Given this fact, does it make sense for Dan to do either of these tasks? Not really. What does make sense is for Dan to refresh the water bowl for their pet and prepare their child’s room for bedtime. He’s also quicker at organizing and tracking their finances. He does it in half the time it would take Trina. He’s also pretty good at ironing his own shirts.

You get the idea. It’s simple. Quit trying to divide the household chores down the middle. Marriage is lived best when you’re not trying to balance the scales.