Extra Baggage on Your Honeymoon

Is your wife addicted to buying shoes?

At a recent Valentines Day session I presented to married couples from the Philippines, one wife admitted she has a weakness for buying shoes. I called it the “Imelda Marcos Anointing”, after the wife of Philippines President Marcos, famous for her many shoes. A huge shoe collection, however, is not the worst of what people bring into their marriage. Often far more subtle things have more profound impact.

At a recent Parenting Course a pastor confided that one of his members had recently wed and has married badly. The couple were both very talented and seemed to work well together in the area of their skills. That fact gave them confidence their marriage would work well. One of them, however, brought unexpected baggage into the marriage. Past drug taking and unwise lifestyle choices had taken a large toll, and the person was not yet properly restored in their inner life. Their ability to perform well in areas of their talent did not mean they could perform well in responsibility, commitment, and the challenges of married life.

Each person entering marriage brings their hopes, fears, expectations, pre-conceived ideas, family programming, attitudes, values, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and pain on the Honeymoon and into the marriage. Some of those things are not even understood by the people themselves, let alone by their spouse.

However, God designed marriage to be robust enough to survive these surprises. Proper respect for God, faith in God, humility before God, godly character, godly wisdom, application of God’s grace, willingness to put “self” aside, and the application of Biblical principles empower people to work through the unexpected baggage.

I encourage you to recognise the baggage which you and your spouse brought into the marriage. It’s no use ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there.

Then seek godly wisdom for dealing with each thing. Fears can be dealt with through God’s love, since “perfect love casts out fear”. Pride can be dealt with by humbling yourself. Pain can be dealt with by letting God heal the broken heart and bind up the wounds.

Understanding that baggage exists and what your baggage is does not bring fear, but gives direction to your spiritual journey as you work through the challenges, with God’s wisdom and grace.

If you are facing challenges in these areas and would like some additional input, email our team to see what we would suggest in your situation.

Address your questions to: Questions@familyhorizons.net

“Why did you choose HER to be my mother?”

A young lad once asked his father, “Why did you choose HER to be my mother?”

The father was stuck. He did not choose the boy’s mother to be a mum, but to be his sexual partner. The man was young, irresponsible and ungodly. He only thought about himself and what would make him happy. His attraction to the girl he married was sensual and shallow.

The marriage collapsed quickly, but not before the bride bore him a son. The mum abandoned the marriage and her son, in pursuit of her own foolish dreams. Once the boy was old enough to understand what had happened, and as he felt the pain of growing up with no mother, he asked his dad about the mum.

“Why did you choose HER to be my mother?” was really a cry for a responsible mother. The boy didn’t want to be motherless. He wanted a caring, compassionate mum who would nurture him and meet his needs as he grew into manhood.

The boy is now 41 years old and serving a long-term prison sentence. The father has remarried and is raising a godly family with a godly wife who is as committed as he is to raising their children.

So, as you prepare for marriage you need to see your intended or potential spouse in the broadest possible context. That impressive young man, who has everything going for him, is the one who will teach your sons and daughters about life. That pretty young girl who seems so delightful is the one who will partner with you through some pretty rough moments in the years ahead. You are not just gaining a husband or wife; you are choosing the parent to your children. You are choosing the extended family for your children too. The “in-laws” are as much a part of your child’s life as your family will ever be.

In an arranged marriage these various considerations are worked through by people who have already experienced some of these realities. They are more likely to detect shallowness, irresponsibility, selfishness and the like, than two young people allowed to feed each other’s emotional dreams. However, bringing external wisdom into the marriage choice is not done in our independent minded western culture. So, many unwise choices are made and surprises strike.

The joke goes: Love is blind and Marriage is an Eye-Opener! That’s to say that many people don’t realise what they are getting when they allow their heart to direct the process of choosing a spouse.

I can’t change the culture, but I can bring wise counsel. I challenge you to keep the bigger picture in mind. Realise that the person you marry is much more than your lover or your knight in shining armour. That fragile princess needing to be rescued also needs to make valuable contribution to life, family, home and your future.

Maybe a simple reality check is to imagine your 10 year old child coming to you in the future and asking with tears, “Why did you choose that person to be my parent?”

Your Family Score Card

Keeping out of the public eye is a major challenge for celebrities, politicians and notable people. The Paparazzi love to snoop into the private and personal lives of well known people. Many people deeply resent this intrusion and the incredible pressure it brings.

Guy Sebastian went from relative obscurity to international fame due to winning the first Australian Idol competition. A few months later he was travelling in a car with his uncle and was spotted by people in other vehicles. The attention he drew was embarrassing and intrusive. He slumped out of sight and remained hidden for most of the journey. A man was once approached by a security officer in a store, because he appeared to be heavily disguised. The man turned out to be Michael Jackson, just wanting to go and do what normal people could do freely, but which his popularity made impossible.

While that kind of popularity really cramps a person’s lifestyle, there is another scrutiny of each person’s life that we need to be aware of. God is watching us and our family. In fact, your family is on your personal score card.

Consider these examples from the Bible. When a man was being considered for leadership in the church his wife was to be evaluated. She was to be a submissive wife who did nothing to ruin his reputation. She was to be a sober and reliable woman. The man’s children were to be obedient to him, so it could be said that the man properly ruled his whole household.

The Apostle John also pointed out that it is not what people declare to be true that should be believed, but what you see them do in their family life. If a man says “I love God” but hates his brother the man is a liar. Family life is a more true reference point than the grand statements which people make.

So, don’t think you can leave your family life behind and go off to earn your own fame and reputation independently. That doesn’t work with God. God knows if you are jealous, resentful, spiteful, intolerant, unforgiving, manipulative, contentious or the like. God sees what you do in the privacy of your own home, and He remembers how you were in your childhood family. Your family is a big part of your personal score-card.

I like to put it this way. Your family is like the early childhood lessons of your education. If you fail in these earliest of classes then you never really graduate. All the lessons that you do from then on are compromised by the failures of those early classes.

If you resent your parents, despise your sibling, won’t forgive a family member, compete and dominate in your home, then you have failed the earliest lessons in life. You will go on to do those same things in your work, marriage and future family.

You should have learned to forgive, love, care for others, be generous, suffer loss, trust God no matter what, be at peace with all people, and so on.

Did you fail the earliest grades of life? Have you come out of your childhood with bad responses? If so then you need to go back to those things and put them right. Ask God to forgive you. Put your heart right toward your parents, siblings and extended family.

While your family is on your score-card, it’s a score-card you are able to change. You can put things right and change your personal record, turning ‘F’s into High Distinctions.

How’s your Family Score-Card looking today?

Stability while ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

At the midpoint of last century George Orwell wrote “1984”, predicting a vastly different world emerging in the following three decades. Orwell’s vision for 1984 wasn’t realised, but great change did overturn much of 1950’s western culture.

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan prophesied the “Change” as an inevitable cultural phenomenon in his 1964 hit song, “The Times They Are A-Changin”.

In 1970 sociologist and futurologist Alvin Toffler wrote his classic book, “Future Shock”, in which he proposed that the rate of change would accelerate. He predicted that the phenomenon of change would even leave people in shock as they struggle to find their feet in a changing world.

In view of Toffler’s prophetic warning take a moment to re-visit the lyrics of Dylan’s 1964 protest cry against that which he and his generation desperately wanted to change. I have made my own observations as to the implications of the song and then quoted from the lyrics.

The current status will be challenged:

“you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone”

Uncertainty prevails:

“And there’s no tellin’ who That it’s namin’.”

There will be a reversal of fortunes:

“For the loser now Will be later to win”

Change must be responded to or else! Old values must be changed.

“For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled”

This is WAR!

“There’s a battle outside And it is ragin’.”

New values prevail, outside your experience:

“And don’t criticize What you can’t understand”

Rebellion is the new rule:

“Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command”

The old is passing away:

“Your old road is Rapidly agin’.”

Bitter confrontation is now in play:

“The line it is drawn The curse it is cast”

Old standards are expiring:

“As the present now Will later be past / The order is Rapidly fadin’.”

A new generation is ready to displace the old:

“The slow one now Will later be fast And the first one now Will later be last”

“For the times they are a-changin’.”

At an anecdotal level we are all aware of change. My mum would scold me at the table with the remark, “My mother would never have let you do that!” Times had changed. The “good old days” are remembered with fondness by many, who recall a safer, more secure and happier time.

So, if we are in Unstable Times is there anything we can do about it? Are we doomed to uncertainty? Or, as Toffler predicts, will we be so assaulted by change that our hearts fail us for fear?

I suggest that it is not change that we need to fear. Diversity has always existed. And much of what we see as change is simply the appearance of that diversity. I enjoy a much wider variety of foods than my parents did. Cross-cultural exposure has opened up a much wider awareness of the choices and styles that can be adopted in life and its processes. Technology advances with a panoply of new gadgets which extend our capabilities. More people are empowered to communicate, learn, be entertained and engage in enterprise than ever before, on a much grander scale.

That kind of change is not a problem for us. There are two experiences of change which are dangerous. One is the increase in evil. When a stable society crumbles into a violent human jungle the change has dramatic and tragic effects for all. However, this is not to say that something “new” has emerged. Rebellion, violence, destruction, theft, murder, immorality and the like have been a part of human history from early times. There is no reason to celebrate the arrival of such things, as Dylan did in the 1960’s

The most significant change, which undergirds the increase of evil in a society, is when the “foundations” are destroyed. Now THAT’S serious change. When moral restraint encouraged by the fear of God is removed from any culture or individual’s life the consequences are evil and ugly, both for the people involved and those they relate to.

King David lamented the situation where the bed-rock foundations of society are removed. In Psalm 11:3 he asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The proven foundations for stable and productive society are not the things which Dylan exalted. Dylan extolled the virtues of rebellion, change, discarding of the old, uncertainty and confrontation. The true foundations, however, are not found in uncertain exploration of the unknown, but in committed grounding upon that which is tried, true and proven.

The Bible is that sure foundation. It has been called “the rock on which our republic rests” and “the groundwork of human freedom”.

Queen Victoria admitted that the Bible was the true foundation for England’s greatness. She is quoted as saying, “That book accounts for the supremacy of England”. An 1863 oil painting by Thomas Jones Barker, of Queen Victoria presenting a Bible to an African leader, is titled, ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’.

United States President George Washington is quoted as saying, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible”. United States President U. S. Grant added, “The Bible is the sheet-anchor of our liberties.” Thomas Huxley is quoted as saying, “The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with it”.

Add to those these further statements of the Bible’s importance.

“It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” (Horace Greeley)

“That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests.” (Andrew Jackson)

(Quotes are drawn from Haley’s Bible Handbook 1965)

Stability in Unstable Times is best achieved by having that “sheet anchor” and “rock” as our foundation. While those around us dissolve into anarchy, deception, rebellion, slavery or the like, there is no reason for change to “shock” us in any way. We know that evil people will do evil things. We know that the glory of the Lord will fill the earth. We know that we will change from one degree of glory to another. We know that we can do exploits. We know that we are in a battle, but that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the victory.

If you fear the future or the shifting sand under our culture, then place your feet on the one who is called the “Rock of our Salvation”. Don’t be tossed about by every wind of doctrine but make firm your commitment to the “more sure word of prophecy” given to us in the Bible.

Change represents “change” and doesn’t have to involve “instability”. Go ahead and keep on changing, enjoy the changes happening around you. Find your sure footing in God and His Word and from that place of stability and strength step out to encounter and change the world for God’s glory.

Endnote: I was once challenged by a disgruntled church member in a suburban church where I was the minister. He accused me of changing in the years I had been there. I readily accepted his charge. I was sure that I had changed and I fully expected to keep on changing. Those changes were the sign that I am alive, but also a sign that I am a Christian being changed by God’s work in my life. The chap didn’t like the direction of my change. But I was absolutely delighted with it. I am pressing on to claim the prize.

Godly Seed – with a Heart After God

Parents have the challenge of raising “Godly Seed“. Each child is to become a Child of God, by faith in Christ and a life of godliness, worthy of God as their Father. Malachi 2:15 instructs us that “God created marriage because He wants GODLY SEED.”

“The issue of “seed” is significant, since a seed REPRODUCES itself in succeeding generations. Just as an apple tree creates new apple trees through succeeding generations, “godly seed” will produce new godly seed through succeeding generations. God is not looking for “good kids”, “nice people”, “good citizens”, “successful people” or any such thing. God is looking for “Godly Seed“!!!

So, what is a “godly seed” that will produce another “godly seed”? The answer lies in the “heart“. Godly Seed children have a “heart after God“. David the shepherd boy is said to have a “Heart after God’s own heart” Acts 13:22. Don’t mistake godliness for certain prescribed behaviours. Godliness is not a ritual, liturgy or external display of approved actions. Godliness is in the heart, or it does not exist at all.

Godliness reflects a relationship with God, based on faith in God and trust in the Salvation that is ours through Jesus Christ. It involves a “heart after God”, which longs for God’s presence and operates in the fear of God.

Parents, your challenge is to create godly seed. But before you go off putting legalistic strictures on your child, so they behave in a worthy manner, stop and recognise that your focus is not the actions, but the child’s heart. And a word of inspiration for you – Don’t expect to guide a child’s heart toward God if you have not already won the child’s heart.