Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Making vs. Revealing

My wife and I recently looked at a workbook from a marriage conference. In a side note of one of the fill-in-the-blank points it said something like this: Your spouse does not make you feel a certain way, they simply reveal those feelings. I thought it was a powerful statement. And it fits with the message of this ministry, which has greatly influenced how I counsel people.

If you're like me, you've said: "You make me so mad sometimes." Its not an entirely accurate statment. While their actions may influence how you respond to them, their actions just reveal who you are and the feelings you are feeling. Saying someone "makes" you mad is giving that person a lot of power over your life. I mean, if a person can "make" you mad, imagine what else they can make you. They might have the power to make you depressed, misereable, suicidal, murderous, hateful, oppressed and a range of other negative emotions.

With that said, I don't doubt the influence my wife has in my life. She does have some power in my life. But ultimately, my thoughts, actions and feelings to her are a revelation or revealing of stuff that I already carry with me, more than it is something that is being made.

As Rage Against the Machine says "We've got to take the power back." Now, I know Rage wan't talking about ownership of our feelings, but that's what I mean by stealing their lyrics. Take the power back from allowing other people to "make" you something and have the awareness to know that their comments and your reaction is "revealing" something about you that has always been there whether you knew it or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pursuer or Pursuee

Stereotypically in the dating relationship the man likes to be the pursuer and the woman likes to be the pursuee. The man likes the challenge and excitement of trying to win a girl's heart. The woman likes to be won because she likes to feel cherished. Its fun while they are dating. If things get serious and they are married, its easy to stop pursuing and easy to stop being pursuable.

The husband believes he has won the challenge, he may think to himself "I have won her heart by claiming her as my own in marriage." He may stop pursuing. The wife thinks.....well.....I don't know what the wife thinks, but she can make herself difficult to pursue by rejecting him when he does pursue her. This creates a quandary for the husband. From the husbands perspective, if he pursues her and gets rejected he has to live with that rejection. However, if he doesn't pursue her, he has to live with a spouse who doesn't feel cherished by her husband.

From the woman's perspective, she should be worth pursuing whether the pursuit is rejected or not.

So what happens? Both individuals stop submitting to each other (See Ephesians 5:21-33 for Paul's teaching on mutual submission). When that happens the temptation is to become selfish and meet your own needs and desires regardless of how it effects your spouse.

So I have a question for you:

What kind of position have you put your spouse or significant other in?

Husbands, have you given up on pursuing your wife? Even if she rejects you, you must choose to love her whether its reciprocated or not.

Wives, have you given up on respecting your husband becuase you don't feel cherished. Even if his pursuit doesn't meet your needs, it is important to respect him by recognizing the effort and communicate clearly what makes you feel cherished. (Abuse and/or adultery is an obvious exception to submitting to your husband).

And if you are not married or in a committed relationship, you can apply this same thing to how you relate to your friends, because whoever you marry should be your best friend.

May God grant each of us the will to love our spouses well.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pet Jellyfish

In the movie Seven Pounds starring Will Smith, the main character has a pet jellyfish. Specifically, a box jellyfish. I instantly connected and wanted one. On my daughter's first trip to the aquarium she was fascinated with the different types of jellyfish. She liked them more than any of the other creatures.

So I looked into getting a pet jellyfish and I'm sad to say that its not happening. They are hard to keep, they have short lifespans and the specialty aquariums are extremely expensive.

I did find this alternative. Very cool. I might just have to get one someday...someday.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Progress and Loss

I have gotten better at tennis. I've used my recent membership to the Rock Hill tennis center to hit on the ball machine four or five times since mid January. My backhand was horrible and since hitting on the ball machine its moved to bad. Doesn't sound like progress, but it is.

However, as much progress as I feel I have made, I still lost last weekend to my neighbor. The very first time we played I won. Since then, he's beaten me everytime (probably 7 or 8 times in a row). Its the same pattern each time. I win the first set and he wins the next two. I thought for sure I would beat him last weekend since I have been hitting on the ball machine.

Practically and spiritually all this is to say that even though we may feel like we are losing a battle, it doesn't mean we aren't making progress towards ultimate victory in the war. If you are progressing in you relationship with God, don't worry so much about mistakes you may be making in your life. You see, if we focus on intimacy with Christ, much of the change that needs to happen in our lives will come from within. That's because when we submit our will to God's will the Holy Spirit works within each of us to transform us into the image of Christ (see Romans 8:28-29). Because as scripture says "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

May you live a life exemplary of the Spirit's work from the inside out. And if you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit, join us here for our current series called "Without Limit: Messages on the Holy Spirit."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Picture in Office

I have this picture hanging in my office. From the first time I saw it, I loved it (you should be able to click on it to enlarge it). It reminded me that it is the church's responsibility to bring Jesus to people who don't yet know Him. There are many people out there who aren't just going to come to church, which means the church has to go to them. So that's why its hanging in my office.

I recently found a combination of words that immediately made me think of the picture. It came from a preaching conference yesterday led by Brian McLaren. One of the things he said about preaching is that ancient-future is better than traditional or contemporary.

I think that combination of words "ancient-future" describes this picture perfectly. Bringing the unchanging ancient message of Jesus Christ to the ever changing culture of the future.

Hope you like the picture too.