The goal for a believer is to become conformed to the image of Christ. In fact, He has predestined us to do so (Rom. 8.29). Though we won’t reach that perfectly in this life, God is at work in us here and now.
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1.6).
While we tend to believe it’s things outside of us (our family of origin, other people’s sins, our financial situation, other circumstances, etc.) that cause us to sin or hold us back, those are the things God wants to use to propel us forward, to grow us into the character of His Son (Jas. 1.2-5).
But this won’t happen without the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit working in our lives. Philippians 1.6 is a promise for believers. And, while God will get us there if we belong to Him, we can choose to co-operate with His work or grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder His work (Eph. 4.30; 1 Thess. 5.19). When we do, we shouldn’t be surprised if God turns up the heat (Heb. 12.6). Continue reading →
Weaving: We all want intimacy in our marriages. We want our spouses to spend time with us, to consult us about decisions, to share our hopes and dreams, and to encourage us when we’re struggling. We want openness and humility. We want to be treated kindly and to receive grace. Are there things we should be doing and not doing to achieve those things? And, if so, what are they?
We’ve been discussing the three components of marriage God laid out in Genesis 2.24 and other places in Scripture: leaving, cleaving, and what we’re calling “weaving,” growing in a one-flesh relationship. Last week we started talking about “weaving” and today we’re going to go a little deeper on the subject.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Weaving 101”
As you remember, our foundation Scripture is:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2.24).
As I’ve said, the three key components mentioned here are all critical to a God-honoring marriage. They are “leaving,” “cleaving,” and “weaving (becoming one-flesh)”
Three weeks ago I focused on leaving. Briefly, it means we no longer depend on our parents emotionally, financially, or relationally. It means what they want or expect does not take priority over our spouse’s wishes and it means not running to them with every problem.
Two weeks ago, we talked about cleaving, including the fact that marriage is a covenant relationship.
Last week we began discussing what it means to become one-flesh.
Again, this one-flesh relationship includes the sexual aspect of marriage, but it is much more. Wayne Mack in his book Strengthening Your Marriage says, “Marriage is a total commitment and a total sharing of the total person with another person until death.”
Weaving our lives together means becoming one-flesh relationally, socially, and financially, as well as, physically. It’s a sharing of everything: thoughts, ideas, dreams, abilities, problems, fears, concerns, successes, and failures.
2 Kinds of Math: “1 + 1 = 2” or “1 + 1 = 1”
Because my husband and I have done so much marriage counseling over the years, we often notice how couples interact with one another. One of the saddest things we’ve observed is how often older couples go to a restaurant for dinner and eat the entire meal with hardly a word exchanged between them.
How does a couple who were once newlyweds, excited about marriage and each other, become so distant they can spend a hour sitting across the table with nothing to say? It happens one day, one choice at a time.
When God said, “they shall become one flesh,” we could say God’s marriage math is “1 + 1 = 1. That kind of math doesn’t happen by default. It takes effort. It takes laying down pride and selfishness. It takes making the time to communicate. It takes putting the other person’s preferences ahead of your own. And it takes being vulnerable and open to change.
Sin, selfishness, and pride are the enemies of a one flesh relationship. And without God’s help to change us from the inside out (2 Cor. 5.17), we are all selfish and prideful at our core. Even as believers in Christ, we’ve got to choose to put off pride and selfishness and to do those things that contribute to a strong, thriving marriage (Lk. 9.23-24).
But with many couples, the process of weaving never really happens or it gets short-circuited along the way.
Life can get messy. If you’ve lived more than a few years, you know that’s true. Much of that messiness is the result of our own choices. Those messes, the consequences, are often what God uses to get our attention. As a result we experience sorrow and regret. But not all our responses are what God desires.
What does God desire in the midst of our messes? A feeling of sorrow or something more? And what kind of response leads to real change?
Verse 3.8 says, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
When we sin we are to repent and go to God and anyone else we have sinned against and seek forgiveness. When we do 1 John 1.9 says:
“He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
But what is repentance? Genuine biblical repentance includes sorrow over our sin and a willingness to admit and take responsibility for our actions. We don’t earn forgiveness because we do things to somehow atone for our sins, but when we have genuinely repented, there will be a change in our behavior. At times, that should include making restitution for wrongs done.
Sorry Because of Consequences
Too often we are only sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin (broken relationships, punishment, or losses of different kinds), rather than experiencing godly sorrow and genuine repentance. Godly sorrow is a brokenness over our sin. Like David, it’s a realization that we have sinned, first and foremost, against God.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight (Ps. 51.2-4a).
Sin is a failure to trust and obey God and a sign of rebellion against Him. We’re going our own way, trusting in ourselves, determined to have life on our own terms. Repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change of direction. We turn 180° from going our way to going His way. So while change does not earn us forgiveness, it is the fruit of genuine repentance.
It didn’t take long for sin to take its toll, did it? Chapter 6.5-6 says:
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
This is sometimes called “total depravity.” Even though sin doesn’t make us all as bad as we could be, it makes us all as bad as we need to be to deserve an eternity separated from Him.
God is still grieved over sin today. All too often we mistakenly believe that when we sin, Continue reading →
Hi Everyone, I apologize. Some code must be corrupted in this post. I have tried everything to eliminate it. Removing photos, redoing things. Nothing seems to help. But the linkup is working.
Last week in Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust we talked about the two major pitfalls into which parents in blended families fall: either becoming overly focused on the children’s outward behavior or turning their children into victims. Today we’re going to talk about biblical communication and God’s methodology for change.
Some children in blended families adjust quickly and easily, but others struggle with fear, worry, anger, and loyalty conflicts.
Children may be angry about losing their position in the family, losing the dream of their original family being restored, unwanted changes, jealousy toward new step-siblings or any number of other things.
One of the most important skills in overcoming anger and building good relationships is learning how to communicate in a loving, God-honoring way. Ephesians 4 contains some of the clearest passages on the subject of communication. The principles can be summed up in 4 easy to understand “rules” that you can apply and teach your children.
4 Rules of Communication
Attack the problem, not the person.
Act, don’t react.
Ephesians 4.25 says:
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
Sounds simple enough, but being honest is more that just not telling a lie. It’s, also, more than blurting out the unadulterated truth. It involves being open and transparent in a loving way.
The first part of being honest is to communicate. “Let each of you speak …”
The second part is to speak truth. It’s not enough to just “not lie.” We must also speak truth.
For example: If, after you and your husband agreed not to make any unnecessary purchases, you put those shoes you wanted on your credit card, slipped them into the house when you’re husband wasn’t home, and simply never brought it up, you may not have lied, but your weren’t being honest either.
Our children need to understand the same principle. Instead of just punishing them for not telling you about a bad grade, sit down and explain why it’s wrong from God’s Word. Let them know that you struggle with living God’s way, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach them how much we need His help to live His way. Turn it into a gospel moment.
Whether they listen attentively or roll their eyes, you’re planting seeds.
So we and our children are to speak and to speak truth, but we must also learn to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4.15 says:
[B]ut, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
For example: If your child grew up learning to make his bed and keep his room reasonably neat and now shares a room with a step-sibling who doesn’t seem to know what a clothes hanger or a hamper is, the answer isn’t to tell his sibling he’s a slob.
Instead, help him learn to pray (another gospel moment) and ask God for wisdom about talking to his brother. It could be something like, “Hey, I’m not crazy about cleaning the room either. I used to resent it when my mom made me stay home until I did. But I learned it’s easier to just get it over with. It looks better when my friends come to hang out, too. Can I give you a hand?”
So rule #1 is: “Be honest.” Speak. Speak the truth. Speak the truth in love. Continue reading →