Category: Spirituality

Investing your Time and Energy Properly

This is a good day for reflection. We stand on a threshold of new opportunities. Are you pleased with the way you invested your time and energies last year? Are there changes you need to make in your life as you move into 2014? Do you need to add some activities and drop others? Family, church, vocation, and neighbors are all important. The greatest satisfaction in life comes from investing your life in the lives of others, but you also need to take care of yourself. Proper diet, sleep, and recreation keep the body strong. A daily quiet time with God and weekly involvement  with other Christians energizes the spirit. Could a minor change in your life make a major change in your effectiveness?

A New Nature

Selfishness is the greatest barrier to marital unity, and we are all afflicted with the disease. “My way is the right way.” That’s the way all of us feel. I can expect myself to be selfish because that is my nature. But, as a Christian, I have a new nature – the very real presence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I have a choice. I do not have to bow to the old selfish nature, I can choose to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. The opposite of selfishness is love, and that is the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ Love is self-giving, not self- centered. Love is the greatest gift I can offer to my spouse. It’s available when I pray, “Lord, let your love flow through me today.” Selfishness falls away as we learn to love.

Why it’s Hard to Forgive

Why is it so hard for us to forgive? I think it is because we are made in God’s image and we have a deep concern for justice. Forgiveness did not come easy with God. That is what the cross of Christ is all about. Because Christ paid the penalty, then God can forgive us and still be just. How do we experience God’s forgiveness? We confess our sins and accept what Christ did for us. So, when others sin against us, forgiveness is not easy. Our sense of justice demands that they pay for their sin. We want to be reconciled, but we do not want to ignore wrongdoing. However, when they confess, we remember that God forgave us when we confessed, and we choose to forgive others. Love is always ready to forgive.

God Speaks the Love Languages

A number of years ago, when I wrote the book: The 5 Love Languages, I realized rather quickly that all of these love languages flow from God’s love. He speaks all five languages fluently. The Bible is filled with ‘Words of Affirmation’ where God verbalizes His love to us. Christmas reminds us that He gave us the greatest gift of all when He sent His son. Yes, God is a ‘Gift Giver’. What about ‘Acts of Service’? That is what the cross is all about. Christ paid our penalty. Follow the life of Jesus and you see Him speaking the love language of ‘Physical Touch’. And for all who want it, God is ready to spend ‘Quality Time’. Turn your thoughts toward him and you will find his thoughts are already on you. God is love.

Q&A: Disagreement with Church Styles

Q: “My husband is from a very traditional church background and I enjoy the more modern, contemporary style. Are there ways we could come together on this?”

Gary Chapman: If you have a room full of people, it’s likely that there will be a great diversity in their preferences for food. Some will prefer Mexican, while others might prefer a good burger. It doesn’t mean that any type of food is actually better than the other, but rather our preferences simply differ. This is common in many areas of life—including the way we prefer to worship. Therefore, it is helpful to give each other the freedom to have their own preferences. What you don’t want to do is let your preferences be divisive in the relationship. Most larger churches will host both a contemporary worship service as well as a more conservative one. One solution might be to agree to go back and forth between the two services every other week.  Other solutions are waiting to be discovered, you simply need an open heart and honest communication to find an agreeable solution when preferences collide.

Keys to Deeper Spiritual Intimacy

One of the most common complaints I hear from Christian wives is that they want to have a deeper level of ‘spiritual intimacy’ with their husbands. I believe there are two ways to build spiritual intimacy. One is by shared experience. Attending worship together and holding hands while the minister prays. Making time to pray together daily – even if it is silent prayer; or attending a couple’s bible study. Another approach is to discuss with each other some of your thoughts about spiritual realities. It may be as simple as sharing what you read in your quiet time this morning, while your spouse listens attentively and affirms your insights. Spiritual intimacy is an important part of marriage. In fact, it is the most important aspect of marriage and will greatly affect all other areas.

Q&A: God in Marriage

Q: “Neither my fiance or I are very spiritual, though my girlfriend seems to think we need to agree on at least a common idea of ‘God’ before we marry. Is this really that important?”

Gary Chapman: If two people get married with different views about who God is—or even if God is—it will touch nearly every aspect of their lives. Why? Because what you believe about God affects everything else in life—the way you think, approach situations, your attitudes, and more. If two people don’t have a common foundation to build from, the differences will erode the necessary intimacy—intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical—needed to create the kind of closeness we as humans desire. I think it is an important issue that needs to be discussed prior to marriage. Take time to dig down and see if you have a foundation you need to build a healthy marriage.

Love in Marriage?

Would you like to know what love looks like in a marriage? The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Listen to these words:  “Love is patient and kind; is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not resentful; love does not bring up past failures, but chooses to forgive.” Does this describe your attitude and treatment of your spouse? This is the kind of love that makes for happy marriages. Love focuses on meeting the needs of the spouse; helping them to succeed; listening to their thoughts and feelings. In short, it is giving your life away for your spouse. That is precisely what Christ did for us, and it is what husbands are instructed to do for their wives.  Love is sacrificial.

Q&A: Is Divorce Biblical?

Q: Gary, I’ve been separated for 11 years and I’ve always wondered, is divorce Biblical?

Gary Chapman: In the Bible, divorce is not viewed as an ideal outcome to a challenging marriage and is never encouraged. The Old Testament says God hates divorce, and yet in some cases, He allows it. So what does this mean for you today? Well, you are divorced and there is no changing that fact. More importantly, God can forgive your part in the divorce and He certainly loves you beyond it. There are thousands of Christians who today walk closely with God who have been through a divorce. So, don’t put yourself down if you have been through that. Don’t live in the past. If you have confessed your part and God has forgiven you, raise your head high, thank God that you are his child, and seek His guidance for your future. God does have a future for you.

Q&A: Different Christian Backgrounds

Q: My fiancé and I have very different ways of defining how to live as a ‘Christian’.  How can we come together on this?

Gary Chapman: When you say “different ways of defining how to live as a Christian,” it may be that one of you grew up in a home that had certain things that were considered to be Christian—if you do this and don’t do that then you were in right standing. The other may have had a different experience—raised in a different type of family or attended a fellowship that did not emphasize the dos and don’ts as much as a personally relationship with God. Therefore, I think it’s important to start by sharing your journey with each other. Marriage has to do with oneness and coming together. Talk about it. Take turns sharing your perceptions. Then, try to understand each others perspective so that you can find a meeting place.

 

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