Marriage Counselling

When I give Marriage Counselling advice to couples or Marriage Counsellors there are a few basics which I always cover. Let me share them with you.

Marriage brings two different people together to establish a working relationship. When the marriage relationship breaks down, people feel hurt, betrayed, unloved, insecure, fearful, angry, bitter, or a range of other emotions. Those emotions not only challenge the marriage but they also tap issues from the background of the couple. Having a sense for this interplay empowers marriage counseling to be more effective.

The Individual

Marriage brings two individuals together for a mutually rewarding relationship. Who they each are, as individuals, affects what they can achieve as a couple. An unstable person will hardly be able to build a stable relationship. A fearful person will not be able to build a trusting relationship. An angry person will not be able to build a loving relationship.

So, before a marriage counselor becomes too distracted with the relationship issues they are wise to consider the individual qualities of the husband and wife. The weaknesses, attitudes, past experience and personal skills of each spouse will impede or assist the building of a strong relationship.

Individual Complexity

People are complex, so the range of personal issues they carry could be quite extensive. A wise counsellor seeks to uncover those things which are most relevant to the person’s ability to enter into and maintain a strong marriage relationship. Issues of trust, forgiveness, correct view of marriage and relationship, willingness to change, flexibility, selfishness and fear might be among the relevant matters to uncover.

People’s behaviour is often crafted by their reactions to past experience. For example, a person who has suffered injustice will tend to be very sensitive about justice issues. A person who has been denied loving acceptance may idolise the input of their spouse and feel let down when the spouse does not meet their idealised expectations. A person who has been spoiled may find it hard to give up their will to fit in with their spouse. I refer to this individual complexity as the “baggage” which the couple brings along on their honeymoon and into their marriage. Most often the person does not know their own baggage, since it seems normal to them. Their spouse is most likely completely oblivious to this baggage.

In time this baggage will trip up the marriage relationship. These hidden things will become obvious, over time, and they will prompt a new set of problems as each spouse reacts to the issues for better or for worse. The joke goes, “Love is blind, but Marriage is an Eye-Opener!” And that’s true. Relationship brings to light the hidden things. How skilled the couple are in dealing with those revelations will impact where their marriage goes.

Relationship Skills

Because marriage is a relationship it is vital that each person has good relationship skills. If one has good skills they can save the marriage from much trouble, but it is better if both work together than that one exploit the strengths of the other.

Relationship skills are not so much ‘skills’ as attitudes. Selfish attitudes are contrary to the spirit of relationship. Inflexibility makes demands on the other party in a relationship. Unforgiveness is a cruelty which violates relationship. Independence is contrary to relationship. Stubbornness is a road-block to relationship. Self assertiveness violates others. Pride is an offence to others. Self-determination is contrary to the spirit of cooperation.

People with the wrong attitudes have the wrong skills. Yet some people need to be trained in the practical expression of good relationship skills. Listening, caring, cooperating, sharing, committing time for each other, fitting in with the other’s plans, negotiating equitably, repenting, forgiving, adapting, standing firm on moral principles and being consistent are practices which may have to be learned and practiced by today’s dysfunctional society.

Proper Modelling

When a couple does not know what they are trying to build they will have less success than they could otherwise have. A clear understanding of the godly model for marriage, as I present in my books, Marriage Horizons and Mending Marriages, empowers a couple to build the most stable and effective kind of relationship. A good counsellor is attentive to the concept of marriage the couple are working with. If it is flawed then the couple needs to be instructed and directed toward the model of marriage that actually works and works most effectively.

God’s Grace

Humans are limited creatures and they don’t have the ability to save themselves. Even the best possible help from the most skilled Marriage Counsellor is not enough. Each person and each couple needs to have the grace of God released into their lives and relationships.

Good Marriage Counseling releases God’s grace into each individual spouse. That’s why Christian Marriage Counselling is so very important in the lives of couples who need help. Secular assistance can give good advice and sound wisdom, but it cannot release God’s divine touch into the lives of the couple.

If a couple cannot access Christian Marriage Counselling then they should find a Bible-believing church where they can get prayer and ministry to release God’s grace into their personal lives and into their marriage relationship.

Nobility by Walking in the Spirit

I have pointed out in earlier posts that Nobility is anchored in our creation. Nobility is attached to things based on their birth or some other special quality. There is no more special origin and quality than to be made in the image of Almighty God. We are Imago Dei – made in the image of God.

Thus we are spirit beings, with profound spiritual significance. Our destiny is to express all that God is by our actions and lifestyle. We are to be like God, who is holy, loving, creative, totally faithful, responsible, forgiving, just, and so on. We must also recognize that we are created by a moral God and placed in a moral universe. We are therefore moral beings, accountable to God for what we do with our lives.

At the same time we are ‘flesh’. This means we are made of natural senses that empower us to engage with the natural world in which we have been placed. Those senses can, of themselves, provide us with delight, in taste, touch, sight, sound and so on. Humans, then, can choose to pursue the delight that human senses provide. When they do that they are now living out of their natural, sensual being, rather than their spiritual qualities.

Since nobility is based on our special-ness, when we live out of our spiritual value we have unparalleled nobility. When we live out of our natural senses we lower ourselves to the level of an animal in pursuit of natural experiences.

So, mankind’s nobility is tested by the fact that he is ‘also flesh’, as God described us in Genesis 6:3. Man is not to look out for opportunities to indulge the flesh but is to live by God’s spiritual destiny on his life.

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “do not use freedom as an opportunity to indulge the flesh, but serve one another out of love”, Galatians 5:13 (author’s paraphrase).

The challenge for humans, however, is that their natural senses can become quite obsessed with gratification. This is especially so if those senses have been awakened and indulged.

When the Israelites were fed supernaturally in the wilderness for 40 years they were fed a substance that sustained their bodies, but which did not indulge their appetites. The miracle ‘manna’ would form on the ground each morning and be collected for their sustenance. They made bread and other food from it. The food was physical but its essential quality was spiritual.

The Bible described the manna as “angels food” (Psalm 78:25). Angelic food would be sufficient to feed a spirit being, since angels are spirit beings. It was able to sustain natural bodies because people can be sustained and kept alive by having their spirit fed. Yet spiritual food would do nothing to pander to human appetite, even though it miraculously sustained human life.

As a consequence the people loathed the food, which they called ‘light bread’, and they lusted for meat, onions and other things their taste buds craved (Numbers 11:4-6,21:5). They said “our soul loathes this light bread”. While their body was sustained by manna, their appetites were unsatisfied with it. It did nothing to appease their natural cravings for strong flavours and tickled taste-buds.

The historical experience is metaphorical of the way humanity despises living for spiritual values. In order to walk in the Spirit and live out of our spiritual realities we have to put our flesh to death, dying to natural appetites.

The issue is not staying alive or sustenance, but the human pleasure derived from the natural senses. And therein is the nobility challenge for all humanity. When we turn our focus from the divine to the natural we are the ones who abuse our own nobility and degrade our own existence, selling out our true potential for such temporary and meaningless experiences as the gratification of our human appetites.

Let me put it another way. We are made in the image of God, imago dei. So we have divinity stamped in our being. This is the basis of our highest nobility. Yet we are made with natural senses that can feed appetites of lust and self-gratification. When we bring out body under control, and die to our fleshly appetites, living to fulfill spiritual destiny, we achieve our highest nobility. When we abandon spiritual focus and seek gratification of our appetites we degrade ourselves and can totally destroy any self-worth within us.

The Bible truth of our special creation by a loving God to whom we are accountable, is a solid basis for appreciating our nobility. The lie of evolution, baseless in science, defying proof or even a workable theoretical base, yet pushed as essential dogma for acceptance into many corners of western society, strips humanity of its nobility.

I call you to rise to your true nobility. I call you out of the trough, where the pigs wallow. You are created for much higher destiny and nobility than the pub brawl, seedy back alleys, hollow halls of human vanity, vain and baseless ambitions of self importance, and so on. You are created for the throne room, where your mentor, the Living God, waits to tutor you in eternal authority and global significance.

Fellow noblemen, please stand. Stand in the presence of God. Stand in your created destiny. Stand in your nobility. Stand against evil. Stand in freedom from human appetites. Stand in the glorious liberty of the children of God. Stand, because He has called you to stand for His glory.

7 Things Destroying Relationships

I spoke recently on the topic “How To Stay In Love”. In researching for the message I checked out what people suggest are relationship breakers. There are a number of things people suggest are lacking in relationships that go sour. As I pondered the issue I came up with my own list of Seven Things Destroying Relationships. I thought I would share them with you.

My list is based on my own personal experience as a husband and the hundreds of hours of relationship counselling I have given to men and women, young and old, over several decades. So this list does not come from guesswork or shallow assumptions.

I point out that I have had people walk out on my sessions, weep, argue, kick the furniture, go silent, sulk and give other varied reactions to my input. I have done the hard yards in getting to the insights which I now share with you. Please don’t take this list lightly.

OK, are your ready to check yourself against Pastor Chris’s hot-list? Are you ready to allow our own heart to be convicted by these Seven Deadly Sins? Are you man or woman enough to face realities which you might not like?

You still have time to click off this page and save yourself the offence of what I am about to share. I will never know that you chickened out and ran back to your delusions.

………

Still with me??

OK ‘brave-heart’, here we go…….

The Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships are…….

1. Selfishness

2. Being self-focused – Selfishness

3. self-Ishness

4. Caring for self first – ‘selfishness’

5. SELFishness

6. See item #1

7. More of the same…..

The reason I can be so confident in making up this list is that Love and Selfishness are mutually exclusive. That means they cannot exist in the same place at the same time. I know that to be a fact because of what the Bible teaches in the world’s most beautiful description of “love”, 1Corinthians chapter 13.

In 1Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul gives an extensive and awesome description of love. And in that description he says that “love does not seek its own”, 1Corinthians 13:5. That is the same as saying: “Love is not selfish”, “Love does not push its own will”, “Love does not demand its own way”, “Love has given up self-interest” and “Love is not demanding”.

When we find people who are selfish, demanding, argumentative, pouting, jealous, angry, resentful, hurt, pushy or self-indulgent, we know that they do not have love. Real Love does not display any of those things.

So, if you are facing challenges in your relationships take a moment to consider how you rate on any one of the Seven Deadly Sins Destroying Relationships which I have outlined above. As you call on God’s grace to transform you from being a selfish person, to being one who can love others unconditionally, you will find your relationships with others are transformed too.

Nobility Challenge

In an earlier post (Nobility – Imago Dei) I introduced you to the notion of our true nobility being anchored in our unique created status. Since we are made in the image of God, imago dei, we have remarkable nobility built in to who and what we are.

Our nobility is challenged, however, by our tendency to live below our created status. Instead of living as God’s children, made in God’s image, we are tempted to live like animals, bent on the indulgence of animal instincts.

This post on our nobility challenge seeks to focus your attention on the choices you make the impact those choices have on your nobility.

As humans we have two dimensions. We have a spiritual dimension based on our being made in God’s image, as moral beings accountable to a moral God in a moral universe. We also have a natural dimension. Our natural dimension is based on our natural environment and the physiological make-up which enables us to engage with that world. Our five senses enable us to enjoy this life, but can be elevated to the place of our main purpose for life. When we choose to live out of our natural senses we effectively abandon our spiritual dimension, in order to indulge our natural dimension.

The measure of our nobility is the degree to which we live for spiritual realities versus our fleshly interests. This does not mean that people become dead to their five senses, but they put to death the self-serving lusts that spring from those senses. The body has bodily appetites but is not synonymous with bodily appetites. It is more than the sum of our bodily appetites. It is possible to be dead to human appetites and to simply enjoy the pleasures of taste, touch, sight, etc, without being sold out to those things. It is also possible to be highly disciplined and to deny bodily pleasure yet to be internally preoccupied and distracted with gratification. An absence of sensual engagement does not mean that a person is living out of their spiritual dimension. They may simply be highly disciplined in their flesh.

The nobility challenge is to live as the image of God, imago dei, rather than as a craven animal distracted by natural experiences. When you step away from your divine origins and calling you trash your nobility. Every addiction to your senses and sensual experience is evidence of your lost nobility. True nobility involves freedom from the demands of your natural, flesh self.

I pray that God give you the grace to walk into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, out of the quagmire of darkness, slavery and oppression that devours your nobility and mocks your existence.

Individualism as the Satanic Theme

Satanism openly admits its link to individualism. I only observed that fact recently. The connection between Satanism and individualism makes sense and is probably plain to any serious thinker, but I had not given the subject much thought. What made this observation stand out to me is my recent consideration about what a true ‘son’ is. Observations about the prodigal heart as compared with the heart of a son focus the idea of being ‘individual’.

In my book, “Family Horizons – Creating Families of Destiny”, I point out that individualism in the western culture has been promoted at the expense of family. In reality, people are not individuals in the way they like to think of themselves. They are members of a family and a society. God takes those family and broader connections very seriously, even if the person does not.

The rejection of family, such as we see in the example of the Prodigal Son, is based on the idea of being separate from the family connection. The prodigal demanded to get what was his, then he headed off to live without the constraints his father and family would have imposed on him. This is individualism.

In the context of a prodigal who pulls away from his family to live an independent life, being an individual is an act of rebellion. Such ‘individuals’ are rebelling against the place God put them in within their family. And the Bible teaches that, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1Samuel 15:23)! It is no surprise, then, that being ‘individual’ is a strong point for satanists.

A quick web search of the terms ‘satanism’ and ‘individualism’ comes up with the following quotes. “Its teachings are based on individualism”. “Polish Satanists are individualistic oriented”. “Modern Satanism preaches individualism”. “Satanists treasure individualism”.

Satanism stands counter to worship of the Judeo-Christian God and it celebrates each person’s personal pursuit of self-interest. The ‘individual’ is promoted, over family, society and community values.

Individualism prompts a person to think of self first. Instead of loving their neighbour as they love themselves, individuals are more concerned about “what’s in it for me?” Self-interest takes centre stage of the individual’s life.

The rampant individualism of western culture deserves closer scrutiny in the light of its anti-Christian values. Rather than celebrating the individual, we are wise to be suspicious of all promotion of individualistic themes.

Now, God clearly deals with individuals. His call is to “whosoever will”. God has called individuals to step out in faith and to obey Him. However, these individuals are not to despise their family connection, but even to fulfill family destiny.

God called Gideon. No one else in his family was given that call. He was the individual who God chose to deal with. Yet the first task Gideon was given was to pull down his father’s altar to the false God, Baal. The ‘individual’ was given a ‘family’ assignment.

Each of us is a uniquely created person and we each stand before God as master of our own destiny. Yet, each one of us is to live for others, within the context where God has placed us. We are to honour our parents and to love our neighbours. Our unique, personal identity includes our family heritage and a destiny connected with the community in which God has placed of called us.