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Q&A: Divorce and Your Relationship with God

Q: If I get divorced, will it affect my relationship with God?

Gary: Divorce is never God’s intention. Jesus makes that very clear in the New Testament. Marriage is for a lifetime. I know that there are difficult situations. Sometimes separation can be an act of love if the person is being destructive to you or to themselves. You say, “I cannot continue to support you in this behavior.” Then, after healing has occurred, you return. Divorce, however, is a different thing. Divorce is not an act of love; it’s abandonment. I hope that you will sit down with a pastor or Christian counselor and do everything you possibly can to save your marriage. Divorce does not alleviate problems. It only creates a whole new set of problems that you must then deal with.

Greatness in Marriage

In a good marriage, there is no king or queen shouting commands, only servants looking for ways to meet the needs of others. Jesus said to His followers, “You know that those who are rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them…Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” History illustrates this truth. The truly great men and women of any age are those who serve others. Thus, the greatest husbands are the greatest servants. The wife who finds greatest fulfillment is the wife who learns to serve. Let me make it practical. Make a list of the ways you served your spouse yesterday. Based on this list, “How great are you?”

Guiding Your Children

Socrates said, “If I could get to the highest place in Athens. I would lift up my voice and say: ‘What mean ye, fellow citizens, that ye turn every stone to scrape wealth together, and take so little care of your children, to whom ye must one day relinquish all?’” In my personal study of anthropology, I have never observed a culture where parents are not expected to provide guidance to their children. Our greatest method of teaching is our model. May I ask you a sobering question? What if your children turn out to be just like you? If you would not be happy with that, then what do you need to change? Why not begin that change today? God is available to help, and so are your friends.

Both Teaching and Training Children

In the New Testament, two words describe the function of parents: teaching and training. With teaching, the focus is on words: verbal admonition. On the other hand, training has to do with actions. These two must always go together. One of the mistakes often made by contemporary parents is that we use one without the other. If our emphasis is on words, we say, “Let’s talk about this.” Our belief is that if the child understands, then he will obey. On the other hand, the action-oriented parent says, “Do what I say. We’ll talk about it later.” Often, later never comes. How much better if we learn to explain both what is expected, and the results if they don’t obey. Words and actions are a winning combination.

Encouraging Your Children

All children need to hear words of encouragement. The word ‘encourage’ means “to instill courage.” We are seeking to give children the courage to attempt more. We do a great job of this when the child is learning to walk. If the child falls, we say, “Yea, try again. Try again.” And the child tries again. Don’t forget this principle as the child gets older. The greatest enemy of encouraging our children is anger.  The more anger present in the parent, the more anger the parent will dump on the children.  The result will be children who are both anti-authority and anti-parent. If you have an anger problem, let me recommend my recent book, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. It may make the difference between encouraging or discouraging your child.

Q&A: A Common Idea of God

Q: Is it really important for you and your partner to have at least a common idea of God before getting married?

Gary: What you believe about God affects everything else in life. You see, if you believe that the biblical God exists, and that he is the creator of the universe and of life, that affects everything because the Old and New Testament scriptures tell us how to live life and what is most meaningful in life. However, if you discount that concept of God, or you’re not sure what you believe about God, that too will affect the way you live your life because you’re not inclined to take seriously the teachings of Jesus. Take time to dig deeply and find out whether you and your prospective spouse have a spiritual foundation on which to build a healthy marriage.

Making Restitution pt. 2

Have you ever apologized and felt like the other person simply was not accepting your apology? Perhaps you’re speaking the wrong apology language. Perhaps you are saying, “I’m sorry.” “I was wrong.” And what they want to hear is “What can I do to make things right?” Making Restitution is one of the five languages of apology and for some people, it is their primary language. In their mind, if you don’t offer to “make things right,” you have not apologized. In the New Testament, Zacchaeus, the tax collector seemed to understand this. When he encountered Jesus, he said: “Those from whom I have stolen, I’ll repay four times what I took.” That is restitution! It is seeking to make amends for the wrong we have done. It is strong evidence of our sincerity.

Happily Ever After

“My husband and I can’t seem to agree on anything!”
“You spent how much!?!”
“My wife’s parents are driving me crazy!”
”You never listen to me!”

Let’s face it—even the best of marriages hit an occasional bump in the road now and then. The secret to marital bliss lies in how you and your spouse handle those bumps. In Happily Ever After, Gary Chapman, the man “who wrote the book” on how to communicate with your spouse, shows couples how to successfully navigate the six most common problems that couples face: fighting fair, negotiating change, managing money, getting along with your in-laws, raising kids, and maintaining a healthy sex life. Drawing on more than 30 years of counseling experience, Dr. Chapman provides real-world examples and practical, battle-tested advice that will help you and your spouse better understand and communicate with each other as well as grow as a couple for many years to come.

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?

Last Minute Shopping

For many, today is a day dedicated to last minute shopping. I’ve often wondered what God was doing the day before Christ was born; probably guiding Mary and Joseph each step on the way to Bethlehem. The most profound event in human history was about to happen. Theologians call it the incarnation, God becoming human in the form of a baby. God had communicated for hundreds of years through the prophets, but now he sends his own son. To use the words of John, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In the midst of today’s busyness, let’s take time to reflect on God’s greatest gift.