Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Marriage Myth #2

Marriage Myth #2 is - "Conflict in Marriage is a Sign of Big Trouble"

The truth is that conflict in marriage is both normal and healthy as long as the conflict is being resolved. We discussed a three step strategy for resolving conflict.
1. Think before you speak - plan to resolve a conflictual situation rather than react to it. Most of what we say when angry or hurt is stuff we have to apologize for anyway.
2. Seek to understand the perspective of the other - recognize that both have a perspective and it is important to see the discussion from the other's perspective. Understanding it does not necessarily mean you agree with it.
3. Clear emotion from the discussion first by listening and understanding why the other might have an emotional attachment to the issue.
Unresolved conflict can be a marriage killer. It builds up over time and numbs any positive emotion in the relationship. It is important enough that those marriages who struggle with unresolved conflict should seek counseling when repeated attempts to resolve it fail.

Look back later this week for a clue to Marriage Myth #3.

Marriage Myth #1

Marriage Myth #1 is "Marriage Is Forever."
In our lesson, we established that marriage is not forever, it is for life. It is a preparation for forever.
Quote - Your number one goal in marriage is to help your spouse get to heaven.
Challenge - Make your first thought in the morning be, "What can I do today to help him/her get to heaven?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marriage Myths Busted

Sundays from September 28th through October 26th, I will be doing a sermon series on marriage. The title of the series is "Marriage Myths Busted." We will analyze several so called facts about marriage and test them against the standard of scripture to see if they stand or fall. I will attempt to update my blog every Friday during this series foreshadowing the myth we will deal with on Sunday. There will also be questions that will get you thinking about the myth of the week. So check back weekly or even several times a week for more on "Marriage Myths Busted!" The first teaser will be posted on Friday, September 26th.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stuff of the Past

Last week, churches in our area were subjected to an e-mail expressing concerns about the direction of an Area Wide Worship event planned in Greater Cincinnati every year. In the e-mail they also labeled the speaker for this years event a "false teacher."

Before I comment on that let me start by saying that the Area Wide Worship event - which I help to plan - is an event that is striving to promote unity within the churches in the Greater Cincinnati area. Representatives from any area congregation are invited to attend our planning meetings. Each year however "leaders" from some congregations would rather sit back, do nothing to promote unity and attempt to shoot down the good faith efforts made by many. In so doing they continue to damage the fragile connection that we share between congregations of the Churches of Christ in the area. I speak from experience when I say that efforts for unity are so difficult to build up and so incredibly easy to tear down.

In this individual's ill conceived communication he used phrases like "warn you" and "mark this man as a false teacher" and "contend for the faith" to simply mean, "I don't agree with some things he has said or I don't like what others have said about him". I remember a lot of this mean spirited, accusatory slander that went on when I was growing up. I also worked amidst a lot of it in the Pittsburgh area where a few ultra conservative church leaders aggressively policed the other churches in the area and were quick to use "disfellowship" and "marking as false teachers" as a weapon to assert their control and impose their views on other area congregations. Their definition of truth was "anything with which they agree," and their view of sound doctrine was "any view of scripture they hold." A false teacher was anyone who failed to pass their litmus test of doctrine (sometimes a literal 'test' in the form of a questionnaire sent out to area ministers that had questions worded to 'trip up' anyone who saw things differently than they). When they sniffed one out (and apparently, I were one) they would ring the bells of alarm far and wide sending out letters warning the 'faithful' (i.e. those who cower before their spiritual bullying) to stay far away.

I just want to say...I'm so tired of that. These tactics - largely employed for one individual or a group of individuals to gain control of people who in their opinion shouldn't be thinking for themselves - are nothing but a Pharisaical attempt on the part of those who use them to convince others of their own self importance. They are not contending for the faith, they are campaigning for a broader acceptance of their own views and bullying those who may see things differently.

I for one am so glad we don't see these tactics used much any more. That is not the way of church Christ began (see Eph. 4:1-16 -esp. v.3- , I Thess. 4:11 and Phil. 2:1-2) and not something I want to be associated with. I hope we are moving forward as a church to a time when we can disagree and still promote unity in love. I hope we can all see in our humanness the propensity to be wrong and we respect the faith of those who see things differently even if we may seek to lovingly influence change. I hope we can learn to work with each other around the periphery of points where we may disagree and celebrate our unity around the core of Jesus and his love. I hope we continue to move away from the stuff of the past to be more like Jesus in the future.

Windy Day!!

What a night! Sunday was one of those nights we will all remember for a long time. Near hurricane force winds, power outages, trees and limbs down, utility poles toppled, roofs damaged, windows broken, roads closed and general mayhem was the rule of the evening. I was at the church building with Mike Gulley (youth minister from Withamsville) preparing the presentations for the Area Wide Worship. As we worked to set up sound and slides for songs we anxiously awaited the first arrivals for the events planned that evening. I remember noticing that the wind had picked up significantly. The sound it made against the skylights in the church steeple gave the building a haunted house feel. Still, ever the optimist, I felt it would pass.
Then the electricity in part of the building went out. I investigated to find that the source was beyond the church building. A limb somewhere had taken out a power line and we were one of thousands of victims. Unfortunately, the part of the power that failed was the one that supplied power to the AV booth in which we were working. We searched and found extension cords and ran them hoping we could maintain our progress at least until the power came back on which we were assured would be soon. About the time we got things going again the electricity went out in the entire building.
People began to arrive with stories of downed trees blocking roadways and of wide spread power outages. Our speaker called to say that his plane was grounded in Nashville and there was no way he would make it here in time. Large trees threatened the very building we were in and high winds began to take their toll on exposed structures. The alarm in the air was apparent.
I was reminded of a story in the Bible of frightened sailors on a windy sea. The storm was sure to capsize their little boat and send them to their deaths. There was one man sleeping in the storm; a sleep born no doubt from exhaustion but sustained in the assurance of who controlled the storm. When he was awakened he stood facing the angry seas and said, "Peace, be still." And it was.
That same man is still present during the storms of our lives and he is still very much in control. He loves us no matter what storms may come.
And still He calms the storm.