Impulsiveness

We looked at marriage yesterday, but it doesn’t take much to realise that in this world, many haven’t chosen marriage as a way of life. They may feel they’re just as committed without a piece of paper to prove it, but marriage to the Christian is more than commitment. It’s including God in your union with your spouse.

It’s not just sex outside of marriage; it’s the general attitude of: If it feels good, do it. If everyone followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I’m sure the world would be a better place. People would exercise self-control and we wouldn’t see alcohol or drugs destroying lives.

“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

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Marriage

If you want the positive spin on marriage, “Your Marriage Masterpiece” would be a good place to turn. Bethany House sent me a free review copy. Having read books on the subject previously, I wasn’t sure whether this would be anything new to me, but it certainly was.

Al does an amazing job of taking personal anecdotes and stories from the Bible, even some you wouldn’t expect to find in a book like this, and looking at them in the context of God’s marriage to His people. I have seen Christian titles with separate study guides, but this has one included at the end (great value for money). I also loved the bibliography. It made me wonder if I should start an Amazon list just for books on marriage!

I would recommend this excellent read to anyone who appreciates writing and storytelling, whether married or single.

A Book About Men Written by a Man: “I Wish he had Come with Instructions” Book-Review

You don’t have to be married to enjoy reading books on marriage. I’ve always liked and found them helpful. Sometimes you’ll see titles on how to please your husband or how best to pray for him, but Mike Bechtle’s “I Wish he had Come with Instructions” is different. It’s a book about men written by a man, so you can be fairly sure he knows what he’s talking about. I appreciated his clarification at the beginning that it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all book. Every man is unique, and this ‘Understanding manual’ was written as a starting-point. I liked Mike’s use of storytelling to connect readers with his message.

I would recommend this whether you’re single, married or preparing for marriage. Perhaps like me, it’ll be a conversation-starter with your male friends and you can see who’s the exception to the rule!

Discovering Your Spouse and Yourself: “Romancing Your Better Half” Book-Review

“Romancing Your Better Half” is an odd title for this book; you would expect it to advocate putting your other half’s needs before your own, when in fact the recurring theme is: “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” If you’re anything like me, when you pick up this book, you might feel it starts slowly or that the author generalises too much: Men like this; women prefer that, but in some instances, this is helpful. I found it interesting to read (in chapter 7) about our different ways of dealing with conflict. Author Rick Johnson has been married for over thirty years, so at least you know he’s speaking from his experience of a lasting relationship that works.

As an unmarried woman, I wasn’t sure how much of this would apply to me. I think it could be extremely beneficial for courting or engaged couples as well as marrieds, but there’s also advice in there that could help anyone in their friendships or family-relationships with those of the opposite sex. At first, I didn’t expect to be recommending this book, but I think it is probably one I’ll go back and reread.

What I Woke up to on Christmas Eve

This morning I was listening to the breakfast show on my local radio-station. When a change to the law brought in same-sex marriage, people said it wouldn’t be long before someone decided to marry their dog … Well, in the news today, a lady has married her cat. I was so sad to hear this. It makes marriage look like nothing more than a gimmick, and yet God says: “A man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one.”
To me, it’s still holy.

There’s also a local pub, which has gone into the Guinness book of records for selling the world’s biggest Christmas dinner. They try to make it more palatable by saying that for every meal ordered, they’ll donate the equivalent in weight to their local food bank, and of course people could share it or take home the left-overs, but with a challenge like this to eat a 10,000-calory dinner, it’s no wonder that people associate Christmas with gluttony.
To me, it’s still holy.

Please enjoy this holy time. Why not celebrate how God sent His Son into the world as a baby, who would later die on a cross to take the punishment for our wrongdoing? Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Good Foundation

I listened to the radio yesterday morning while I washed the dishes, and was really struck by something a lady said.  She and the DJ were discussing couples, and how it was good for them to have time to themselves instead of being joined at the hip.  She said if you have two concrete pillars holding the roof on a structure and those pillars are too close together, that roof will fall.  Similarly, if they’re too far apart, the roof will also fall because its foundation isn’t good.  But if they’re just the right distance apart, then that roof will stay up.

 

Although they were talking about couples, I think this speaks to all of us.  If I depend on my family or friends to be happy, if I give them first place in my heart and think too highly of them, my life will fall apart.  If I distance myself from family and friends, if I have no need of them and there’s a wide chasm between us, then my life will also fall apart.  But if I give them their rightful place in my heart – Jesus at the centre (whom I depend on for my joy) and them second, then my life will remain secure because my Foundation is good.

 

What are the foundations like in your life?  Have you considered doing what the children’s song says – building your life on the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Atlas Girl” Book-Review: Travel and Family

This fast-moving book is much more than the travelogue I was expecting.  Yvonne hardly gets a mention in the synopsis, but the mother-daughter relationship is an important facet of Emily’s story.  If you struggle with flashbacks, the constant time-shifting (1998, 1981, 2002) could be a problem, but each chapter-title includes the month and year.

 

Perhaps along-with others who haven’t travelled extensively, I looked forward to getting a flavour of so many different countries, but I also loved the personal aspect – how Emily wrote so honestly about her marriage, how God showed His care for her again and again.  I was sent a free copy of “Atlas Girl” by Revell for reviewing purposes, but it’s a book I might well have bought, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

Not for Just Anyone

“And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).  I see that verse 19 as a good measure to use when it comes to physical intimacy.

 

When I was at school, I’m sure teenagers knew that underage sex wasn’t the way to go, but I still remember the comments:  “He had his hand up my top” or “He asked her to go topless.”  It’s our responsibility to think what we’re asking of another person, and how much we’ll share with them.  According to this verse, your wife’s breasts should satisfy you, so it’s not just sex that should be saved until marriage.

 

What I really want you to take away from this is that you’re special, and the parts of your body aren’t for just anyone.

A-Z: Joined in Suffering

J in the A-Z challenge, and this wasn’t in the original plan either, but I went this morning to meet with some ladies from church.  Our church is having a week of prayer for some missionaries we support in Ghana, so our missions person invited us all to her house to tell us more about them.  As I listened, I was reminded of this verse:  “You know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” – 1 Peter 5:9.

Let me explain what I mean.  The pastor of a church in one village had ‘Character issues’, hadn’t grown much in these areas over the years and people were leaving the church because of him.  I could identify with this.  What happens when a new minister arrives in a church and you struggle to come under his authority – maybe because of character issues, as in this case, or maybe in his sermons he says things you really disagree with?  Well, leadership and coming under the authority of a pastor are very important; but here, there are plenty of churches we can join.  If we leave one, yes – it’s a huge step, but we can find our home in another.  If I’d had problems with a pastor in Ghana, where there wasn’t a church for miles, would I have kept meeting with other Christians, or would I have left like so many?  I’m sad to say, probably the latter.

The culture in Ghana is contrary to the Christian faith when it comes to marriage.  We would say one man, one woman; but according to them, the more wives you have, the higher your status, so Christians really have to go against the grain.  The problem is that, as Jesus pointed out in the Bible, there are some who start off well but have no root, and are in danger of falling away.  When the leader of a church takes a second wife without divorcing his first, that’s a serious situation, where someone needs to put some discipline in place, but although the problem seems huge, don’t we have a similar thing here?  If you’ve got a leader of a thriving church, he’s busy with the running of it, and what’s first to come under attack?  His family time.  We really need to pray for those in any kind of ministry and support them in their marriages.

Another example:  The people we were praying for follow a mixture of Islam and magic, so if they become Christians and some tragedy happens, they turn back to the magic powers they’ve been brought up with for protection.  Aren’t so many of us like that though?  We become Christians and later have to admit to ourselves that we’ve looked to things or people other than God for security, and I think magic is an increasing problem here too.  I was shocked when one of my friends made her weekly visit to an elderly people’s home, to find the talk scheduled for that afternoon was by a medium.  My friend’s a Catholic and felt quite uncomfortable.  It’s disturbing to think these elderly people, some possibly ill and vulnerable, are being so exposed to the occult.

So, if you’d like to pray for any nation this week, think of those 3 things:  Pray for leaders, pray for their personal lives, and pray (as one of our ladies said) that people will rely not on magic powers, but on the power of the living God.

Identity

I’ve just read the words of a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook.  She was buying a house and she wrote:  “there’s the usual question of whether it’s Miss or Mrs – it’s Dr., thank you! ;-)”  In the comments, she went on to say:  “Why is it that people need to know whether I’m married or not, that doesn’t really define me as a person (where as having a PhD does”.

 

What do you think about her statement?  I read it and thought how sad it was – sad because letters after a person’s name, or their vocation in life, do command respect.  But if you don’t have a PHD, if you’re made redundant, if you become paralysed in an accident and can’t do all that you used to, does that make you less of a person?  I don’t think so.  “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb” – Psalm 139:13 (New Living Translation).  God loves us for who we are, not for what we do, and I say this to myself as much as anyone.  It can be hard to grasp that God loved us before we could do anything.

 

I respect people with a PHD.  It’s a reward for 7 years or so of hard work, but I respect people with strong marriages too.  They have a willingness to spend a lifetime with another person whose feelings they’ve got no control over, to work through problems, to put the other’s needs before their own, and sometimes to miss out on things they could have done, had they stayed single.  I think being married does define you as a person of loyalty, perseverance and great strength.  “Marriage should be honoured by all” – Hebrews 13:4.

 

Nowadays in wedding ceremonies, the congregation promise to support the couple.  Is there a married couple you could show support to today?