With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.
There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.
I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.
I was a fairly new Christian in my mid-twenties. I was running very hard fueled by zeal and far less knowledge. To my credit I was talking to a lot of people about the gospel. To my shame I was developing a bit of a self-righteousness toward those who did not. I remember judging people and whole churches’ faithfulness based upon the appearance of outward zeal or emotion. Until one day I got rebuked without a word.
We had been going to a new church for a few months. This church had good teaching but I felt the music left something to be desired. Also, there seemed to be a real lack of passion for a people who supposedly so loved the Bible. What gives?
We would sing as a congregation and I remember offering my weekly critique of the music. In my mind then it was incremental so I did not see the ugliness of it. But, it was truly ugly. One Sunday we happened to be standing behind a gentleman that was a bit quirky in his approach to conversation. He smiled and seemed sincere but, man, he always seemed to say something that was obtuse and somewhat unsettling. I don’t mean that it was inappropriate but that it unsettled my ease. It made me uncomfortable. He had a way of getting under my skin. And now he was standing in front of me singing while I was in full critique mode. I remember looking at him and wondering …
How do you know if you have a good relationship with someone? Your initial reaction may be to evaluate based on the presence or absence of conflict. “We never argue.” But, how healthy is a relationship that does not have any disagreement, misunderstanding, arguments or forgiveness?
What if a healthy relationship was not the absence of conflict but rather the way in which it arises and is handled?
Let’s face it, if you are in a relationship with someone then you can be assured that there is a selfish sinner in it. This means that you will be saying, doing, and assuming things that are not loving. There will be a need for forgiveness to be extended. The conflict in the relationship is merely an occasion for relational intimacy. Through honesty and compassion the relationship goes to deeper levels. It is a bit counterintuitive though, but conflict–when handled properly–can help serve the relationship.
What about your relationship with God? Would you say that it is healthy? Is it mature? Is it deepening?
The dynamics change a bit here, but you are still in it so there is still a sinner in the relationship. Therefore, if you are being honest, there are going to be things that you do not understand, assume, and misread. You will reflex toward yourself rather than service. You will bring questions, complaints, burdens, and confusion to God. Is your relationship with God mature? Can it handle your deepest questions? Can you bring your fears? Do you trust him with insecurity? Do …
There always seems to be some sort of news of a scandal or shameful practices concerning professing Christians. Somewhere a pastor or professing Christian’s secret life of rampant sin gets revealed. As a result, we all (rightly) lose our collective breaths and our stomaches turn.
Then questions come. Why? How did this happen?
I remember hearing John MacArthur say,
“Nobody just falls out of a tree. They climb up in it, move around a bit, and then fall out.”
His point is obvious: this doesn’t happen overnight.
Conflict seems to be as common to human life as breathing. Whether in marriages, families, friendships, the church, or social settings—we have conflict. My concern is not so much how to prevent it, but how to mitigate its storm and lessen its wounding.
The Bible asks and answers a very appropriate question:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:1-2)
What’s Who’s the Problem?
The primary source of our conflict is within us. We crave something often times from someone. When we do not get it then we get very upset. Our passions or desires are at war within us. We are not getting what we want (usually under the headings of honor, comfort, or control) so we lash out. We then try to manipulate the other person actively by doing things like yelling or even physical aggression or we do it passively by ignoring them with the silent treatment. Whatever extreme we are on we can be sure that it is our unmet cravings of our heart that are fueling this conflict.
We are accustomed to reading of politicians and diplomats laboring earnestly to resolve international conflict through peace treaties. But, what tends to happen after an agreement is signed? It seems as though before the ink is even dry, there needs to be another summit to make another treaty because the former one has already been violated. Peace seems to be as elusive as it is desired.
This is why it is particularly striking to read that God is called the God of peace (Heb. 13:20).
Fact, Feeling, or Both?
When you first read those words how do you think of the word peace? Do you think in subjective terms—I feel a peace from God, or objective terms—I have peace with God? Most people tend toward the first while assuming the second. I want to convince you that the author is referring to the second and that the subjective peace comes as a (blessed) result of it.
How is God the God of Peace?
What does this mean that God is the God of peace? God is the source of peace, maker of peace, and the one who gives peace. There is no true and lasting peace outside of him.
As a Dad there are many times that I see our children provide direct insight into the heart of humanity in a refreshing way. An example that most of us have seen is a child that does not want to be left alone. They may be sitting in their room playing with a toy and then all of a sudden start crying and yelling, “Dad! Dad! Where did you go?” Our daughter was in a store with my wife and, in plain sight of her mom, but mom was not in her plain sight. Suddenly she cried with desperation, “Moooom?! Moooooom!!” My wife answered, “Right here honey.” To which she grabbed her Mom by the leg, pressed her face against her and said, “I thought you had left me here. I thought I was alone.” My wife answered, “No, sweetie, Mommy would never do that. I was right here the whole time.”
Our Self-Sufficiency has a Leak
The Book of Hebrews is a tense letter. It’s gloriously tense, but tense nonetheless. There is an issue on the ground that the writer is dealing with. Many in the congregation are feeling the pull away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ back to their familiar system of Judaism. There are social, financial, and religious pressures abounding. The pinch is pronounced.
The writer’s strategy is to lift high the banner of Christ’s unmatched sufficiency, beauty, and utter supremacy. In each case he shows Jesus to be a better priest, king, sacrifice, and mediator of a New (and better) Covenant. And with each emphatic statement he blasts holes, by way of comparison, in and through the supporting structures of what was alluring them. Wherever you turn, if you turn from Christ, you turn to something less.
I find it fascinating how he begins to land the plane in chapter 13. After providing a number of clear responsibilities for the believer in verses 1-6, he begins to talk about the family life of the congregation. What fascinates me is he tells them to look back before he tells them to look ahead.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)
These leaders here are those who spoke the word of God to them. The writer of Hebrews is reminding the congregation to not forget those who have gone before them. More than likely these leaders that …
When I first became a Christian I had a bad mouth. I am thankful that over time God worked to change my heart, and as a result, my mouth. I knew right away that talking in a particular way was offensive to God and others. It does not have a place among those professing faith in Christ because it does not give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This is pretty straightforward.
But, I’ve noticed that many Christians are still plagued by a foul mouth. They say things that are offensive to God and to others. I suspect that many don’t even realize it either. Like a new convert who remains fluent in the sailor’s tongue the Christian may not realize what they are saying or its theological impact.
So let me give you a couple of 4 letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: “luck” and “fate”. These words and their concepts are unbiblical and atheistic. Luck communicates randomness while fate describes a inevitability of something happening without a purpose. Both are blind and impersonal.
Undermining & Obscuring who God is
I say they are Christian cuss words because they undermine the key biblical doctrine of God’s providence. This word providence may be a new word for you, but it is an important word. It is a word that we as Christians need to know and delight in. We are often so quick to simplify and redefine words, but in doing so we can be losing something of our identity as …
Christians are to be content. We see this modeled in Scripture in the life of the Apostle Paul (Phil. 4:9-11). We also see it commanded in Hebrews 13:5. In previous blog posts (here, here, and here) I’ve attempted to define what contentment is and why we must pursue it. Well, what is contentment? I’ve defined it the following way: Contentment is the inward, quiet spirit that joyfully submits to God’s providence.
How do you know if you are discontent?
1. Are You Grumbling about the Present?
If we are grumbling (complaining) about something that we are going through right now then we are arguing with God. We are saying that we should not be going through what we are going through. Our present experiences serve us like a magnet to draw out either our discontentment or our contentment. If we are grumbling then we can be sure that we are not content. We are essentially saying that God is getting it wrong.
We must see that such discontentment questions God’s wisdom, goodness, and power.
2. Are You Bitter about the Past?
Everyone has endured hard days. Some have endured harder than others, but all have felt the sting of sin and pain that our fallen world provides. Many people live under the cloud of their past experiences and become increasingly bitter. Over time we revisit and analyze the situations from the perspective of a victim, only to feed our bitterness. We cannot be content in the present when we are …