As a pastor I watch people move from church to church for many different reasons. Some moves are worthwhile, such as relocations for career advancement. However, many moves are because of disappointment or bitterness toward the church. We all face these times of disappointment, and we do not want to instill these messages of bitterness or disillusionment into our children. Many parents would say that they want to raise children that love God and His church, but by moving from church to church they send a message to their children that church commitment really isn’t a priority. Their love becomes conditional and intolerant. They simply forget that the church is truly God’s people – His ecclesia – His called out ones who are not perfect, but human and flawed just like everyone else.
A leader is only a leader in the company of others. People all bring their strengths and weaknesses to a group. The leader, as Paul writes in Romans 15:1, needs a special kind of strength. Paul states, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.” A leader is strong so that he or she can help those who are following and are on the team.
Sometimes, a leader runs ahead of the team, so to speak. He or she is casting vision for the future and showing strength by being the first to race toward that vision. The leader runs ahead but is never out of sight. He or she leads the team into the vision by showing them the way.
Anger is often times immediately written off as a bad thing—to the point that we feel guilty over being angry over things that we have every right to be angry over. Our parents say something hurtful in jest and we get angry; our spouse is late for our date night and we get angry; our kids are misbehaving regardless of how many times we counted to three. Anger is a reaction that is connected to deeper emotions; many times, that emotion is love!
We are often angry the most with those we love. Our spouse is late; we feel underappreciated and unloved because they seemingly did not take this date night seriously. Hurtful words from family members cut deep because we love them. We love our children so much and get frustrated when our investment in them does not payout. In Mark 3:5, Jesus confronted a group of Pharisees and looked at them “with anger” for their unbelief. He loved them and was angered by their hard hearts, but He did not react out of anger when He confronted them.
Psalm 4:4 tells us not to sin in our anger. This verse shows that, while anger has a place in our lives, we need to be careful how we use it. Jesus knew how to use anger and how not to let it use Him. Anger can be a tool for change in our lives or it can damage our lives; it can create a moment of self-examination and healing or an outlet to cause pain. Ask God to help you understand the things that make you angry and why. He will bring healing where healing is needed and show you how to use this powerful emotion wisely.
It is the small adjustments that we make along the way that cause a marriage to prosper. Though this advice can be applied to all relationships, it can be applied in marriage. We can change little things to maintain a relationship.
It is similar to driving. We make small changes without really knowing it in order to drive safely. We do not want to cross the lines that separate the traffic.
Crossing the yellow line, though in the act itself is not a guarantee of a wreck, but it puts us in the dangerous position of possibly hitting another car if we do not correct ourselves. This yellow line is a boundary set in place by the authorities to keep us safe. In the same way, God has placed several boundaries for marriage in the Bible. These boundaries are meant to empower couples to keep their marriage intact.
A necessity in marriage is to constantly shift our hearts to adhere to these boundaries, to the needs of our partner and to the will of God as He directs us. These small changes will bring us closer to our partners and will also determine that the covenant of marriage will be kept.
We have shown in several parts of this book that men and women are different. Society has, as stated before, tried to make the genders equal in all the wrong ways. Paul does write in both Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:5-13 that men and women are different but equal in Christ; however, this does not negate the fact that men and woman are not the same. The variations of the genders interact in a way that brings richness to personality, a meaning to relationships, and an awareness of and appreciation for these differences.
Married couples need to be aware of the things that distinguish the genders and be willing and ready to change accordingly for the benefit of their partner. There are differences that God wrote into our creation; there are others that society has established. For instance, I grew up believing that men don’t cry, but Christ changed my thoughts. In John 11:35, Jesus wept. Another common misconception is that men are not affectionate; again, the Bible disproved this one when, in John, we read about the male disciple who rested on Jesus’ chest because he was comfortable with showing Jesus this kind of affection.