Thursday, 23 February 2012

Je ne regrette rien?

For nearly all my life I’ve held pretty fast to the claim that there is little I regret because the sum of all experiences good and bad have created the person I am.  How we handle success and failure, pain and the pain we cause others, construction and destruction informs us greatly about who we are, what makes us tick and what we think about ourselves (and others!) but I’ve been rethinking this of late.

It occurs to me that:

  1. Forgiving and forgiveness cannot happen if you don’t believe that there is anything that you need to be forgiven or indeed that you may be sorry for. 
  2. Bitterness is the outcome of lack of forgiveness and that leads to stubbornness – neither seems to be in the list of fruits of the spirit
  3. There are definitely things that I regret.

Friday, 10 February 2012

What, you thought your life was going to be easy?

You wouldn't face any hurdles, obstacles, challenges or difficulty? (John 16:33)  Isn't it for this reason we are to edify ourselves and speak in tongues regularly? (1 Cor 14:4-5) singing psalms and hymns to each other (Eph 5:19) - so we understand what God's will is? (Eph 5:17) And what of the armour of God? (Eph 6:10-18) Is that only for decoration?  

The harvest field won't reap itself (Luke 10:2) but the corn is ripe in the field (John 4:35), waiting for you to harvest it!  It'll be hard work, you'll sweat, your flesh will be torn and you'll suffer (Phil 1:29), but you'll rejoice in those sufferings (Rom 5:3) because it produces fruit in you of hope, peace and joy that will quieten your feelings and purify you (1 John 3:3). So get dressed and be ready for service (Luke 12:35), be obedient and humble (Phil 2:8), be thankful and pray continually (1 Thess 5:16-18) be kind, compassionate and forgiving (Col 3:12-17) do good to all (Gal 6:10)  and if you are to go on living in your body make sure your labour is fruitful (Phil 1:21-22) while you press on towards the prize (Phil 3:14)

Surely you know these things are true? - Don't waste time listening to the whispers of fear from your feelings whilst ignoring the shouts of life and encouragement from the pages of the bible and from the Spirit. Are you being a giant (Num 13:30) or seeing giants (Num 13:33)?  For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and he chose you and predestined you according to his plan so you can live for the praise of His Glory. (Eph 1:11).



Thursday, 9 February 2012

Marriage: Mark Driscoll

I’ve been a bit disappointed with Mark Driscoll's latest series on Marriage

Really Good bits:

It would be remiss of me to not mention right at the outset that there is much to be thankful to Mark for in this series: his head on tackling of the need to be friends, the openness about his journey with Grace, the emphasis on working through issues - not working a way out of the relationship, the Q&A sessions at the end of each sermon, having the book in advance to read and work through, and a complementarian view of the husband and wife dynamic within a Calvinist perspective.. not to mention making the sessions free online.

The sessions are set up to be very helpful. The intent is that as the particular component of a marriage relationship is examined corporately, sin is repented of, commitments are made and communion is shared between couples within the corporate meeting.   I suspect that it provides an opportunity to commit semi-publically to change tack whilst still preserving intimacy within a couple. As an example of corporate couples ministry it seems helpful.

Here’s where I find the problem:

In this weeks session – The respectful wife - if I was a woman I’d struggle to have heard any message other than ‘put up and shut up’, and it sounds a lot more like a description of a dominant/submissive set up than mutually submitting to one another as to Christ – which I don’t think he really means to communicate. I’m all for strong men, leading strongly, but we also need to stress that there’s a mutual belonging to each other, not (as Mark seems to espouse) that women are (property and) merely a husband’s ‘helper’.

And why chose ‘respect’ rather than ‘follow his lead’? I can imagine he didn’t want to use submission because its an emotive word and often misunderstood, but respect?  I agree with many of his observations, but it’s not ‘disrespectful’ for a wife not to submit to her husband but sinful! (just as it is sinful for him not to be submissive to her). Mark also suggests that it’s not a wife’s job to ‘love’ her husband, but isn’t submission all about ‘following the way of love’ (Eph 5:1)??  but Mark doesn’t mention this so can’t communicate his helps to women within the context of loving and mutually submitting to each other, and barely mentions that following his lead is first modelled by him as he follows Christ.

I can imagine that as this was one of Grace’s chapters in the book, and given Mark’s character, perhaps this was a big issue for them..  and it’s not that I disagree especially with the points he raised.. but how he presented the session leaves me uncomfortable.   Mark’s usual style of ‘I shout at you cos I love you’, and his presumptions that because (as he seems to see it) the baggage in his relationship with Grace was more from her than him (and ergo his presumption that this is the same for every other marriage) make it difficult to see how his advice to women to respect their husbands can be received open handed.   Often he doesn’t sound very gracious either, and though in the previous session he spoke with Men to realise their responsibilities and deal with their sin, I find myself being more offended by the delivery than the message and having to re-tread the ground later to try to hear the principle behind the smash and grab.


I guess what I’m saying is that unlike several of his other series I will be very cautious about who I would recommend this series to, and especially cautious to recommend to anyone whose relationship is in a fragile place.  The writing in the book is a little softer though and perhaps it might be better to read his book and hear the whole discussion in context than attempt to follow in sessions.