Tag Archives: marriage

Does love at first sight exist?

So posited a visitor to my Formspring wall a while back. Here’s my answer, tidied up a little:

That would depend on how you define “love”.

If you mean, in terms of physical attraction or appeal – then yes, of course. We all see and meet people all the time that we find attractive, beautiful, engaging, funny etc. Sometimes, when/if we get to know them, our feelings change though. Beware of this type of “love.”

If, however you mean, love in terms of an abiding unconditional commitment, then that is far less likely. More often than not, the person you fall in love with and marry will be someone you get to know over time and as your relationship matures and intensifies, you will realise that you love them. By that, I don’t mean, you will want to have sex with them, although, as a married couple that’s usually part of the relationship :)

I mean that you will have an undying, unconditional commitment to serve them, care for them, and give yourself to them. Kind of like Jesus had for the Church

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Posted by on 16/11/2011 in Culture, marriage


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The impact of a lifetime

Recently Sam and Karen Keller, celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary.

Sam and Karen hold a special place in our lives. Sam was my homiletics lecturer at Bible College in 1989 and my pastor during my 2nd and 3rd years of College, as well as a mentor, confidant, counsellor and friend. Karen taught Rachel in College and was to her as Sam was to me. We spent the majority of our weekends at the Keller’s. Eating, watching Star Trek re-runs, talking about Louis L’Amour and Robert Ludlum novels and of course stuff related to pastoral ministry. But the main thing that came up every weekend was marriage. They would both talk about how they met, and about their daughters and when each met their future husband. It wasn’t a counselling session, it was just… life. We got to see them laugh together, cry, even argue. To this day, when Rachel and I have a “disagreeable discussion”, at some point, some mention will be made along the lines of… “Mrs Keller said…“, or “I bet Pastor Keller never said/did that!

An incredible impact and impossible to account for the full extent that it has, even upon our own daughter’s life now.

They are not our parents, but I don’t know of any other way to describe the way we look up to them – mentors? Sure, but much, much more. Rachel doesn’t prepare or deliver a Children’s talk or speak to a Ladies Group without thinking of Karen. And I cannot escape Sam’s voice in my head every time I get up to preach. When I have to deal with something in my role as Pastor, inevitably, the thought comes to mind, “What Would Sam Do“. If only I had paid more attention all those years ago!

Tomorrow, with permission, I will post a copy of a letter Sam wrote about Karen on their 54th anniversary.

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Posted by on 22/08/2011 in Family, marriage, Testimony


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Harmony in Marriage… ENGAGE!

I am a Star Trek Fan. Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, Enterprise, the Movie franchise. In 2001, my wife bought me the entire NG series on VHS as a gift. She has also in recent years bought me the OS DVD’s.

Jean-Luc Picard is the Captain of the NCC 1701D Galaxy Class Starship Enterprise. He is renowned as an intergalactic diplomat and many of the NG episodes revolve around various diplomatic trade negotiations, interspecies warfare etc.

Political diplomats will tell you that the solution to inter-country conflict is to understand what the other party wants and find a way to give it to them.

The New Testament book of James tells us:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. ~ James 4:1-2a

Conflict is an issue in every relationship. Often it is not your ability to resolve a conflict that makes that relationship work – rather it might be understanding what has caused the conflict is mismatched expectations.

My problem, when faced with an escalating conflict is that I am focused on “my needs.”

But, what does your spouse need? Today? This weekend / week / month / year?

This is going to require your time and attention to figure out. This might mean, exploring things, like temperament differences, love language differences, life stage differences and yes, sexual differences.

How can you identify your spouse’s needs? 

How can you, with God’s help, serve your spouse?

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Posted by on 16/08/2011 in Blokes, leadership, marriage


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Great Expectations

I had a lot of expectations going into my marriage. Expectations about what it would be like, how things would work between the two of us, what she would do for/with/to me, etc. However, soon after the wedding, I was in for a surprise!. Instead of being the King of the Castle, I became the Court Jester.

This frustration of unmet expectations does not catch God by surprise. The Bible speaks to this particular desire within us and explains that unmet expectations are a warning sign that we are looking in the wrong area to have our needs met. It may not necessarily be the case that our expectations are bad or wrong (though we can be extremely self-centred), rather that our expectations need to be re-directed towards someone who can fulfill them abundantly.

How many disillusioned marriages have been destroyed looking for or expecting the “Jerry MacGuire” moment?

Jeremiah 2:13 speaks of 2 specific evils that the people of Israel had committed:

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Looking to your spouse to “complete you” is drinking from a broken cistern. They are not capable of meeting your deepest, truest needs. Some of you may be experiencing incredible disappointment in your marriage due to the expectations you have of your spouse.

We must, to experience any contentment or happiness in anything in this life, find our satisfaction in God. Anything else, sex, marriage, children, serving in Christian ministry, all will disappoint and result in us “thirsting again.

How will your marriage change, if you were to redirect your expectations away from your spouse and towards God? What differences would you see and experience in how you speak with each other? How you spend time with each other? How you make love? How you spend/save money?


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Posted by on 10/08/2011 in discipleship, marriage


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Is your porn addiction showing?

Porn can devastate a marriage. There is a much that has been written on that. Too much, sadly. But what about when the woman is the one addicted to fantasies that affect her relationship with her husband?

Betsy Hart calls it ‘Romantic Pornography‘.

Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women …

She makes the bold point that this is something that is not only tolerated but encouraged as a guide to normality… for men!

Mainstream culture tolerates this insidious expectation for men to act like women. Any doubts? A married couple goes to a counselor, Christian or otherwise. The husband is steeped in sexual porn and dissatisfied with his wife. Is there a chance the counselor is going to encourage the wife to act more like the women her husband finds attractive online? Of course not.

Now let’s say she’s steeped in romantic films and dissatisfied with her husband. There’s an almost 100 percent chance the counselor will encourage the fellow to be more romantic and sensitive. Which might be a fine thing, except that typically it will be “sensitive” according to his wife’s definition, even if that’s not what he is wired for.


Posted by on 23/07/2011 in Blokes, Family, marriage, Mens Stuff


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Where Sanctification Happens

Sanctification occurs in relationships; with God, each other and in our community.

In marriage, in family, in a local congregation when we rub each other the wrong way God uses THAT to show the areas of our life that are NOT yielded to him, areas that we still hold our self-righteousness and live like practical atheists or agnostics!

That doesn’t mean I have an excuse to act like an uncouth buffoon towards my wife and daughter and then tell them God is using me to help them grow in their faith. That’s not sanctification that’s sinful abuse!

What it does mean, is that instead of seeing the personality conflicts or disagreements that arise in every relationship (even a Pastor’s marriage!) as irritants, I should acknowledge that maybe when my wife is offering some “constructive feedback” about me not taking the rubbish out or not fixing the garden hose that God is trying to show me how I’m not sacrificially loving and serving my wife as Christ unconditionally loved the Church and gave himself to the point of death for her.

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Posted by on 16/05/2011 in discipleship


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Marriage, Divorce and the Gospel

Jesus is interrogated by the religious ‘mob’ concerning his views on divorce. The mob are trying to get him to make a call on the Old Testament (Deut 24:1-4) provision for divorce and remarriage. The 1st Century rabbis did not agree in their own interpretations of this, so they pestered Jesus about it.

Their big question was; “What makes divorce OK?

True to form, Jesus’ response is, “You have missed the point and are asking the wrong question.

The better question to be asking is “How can we prevent divorce?” or perhaps, “How should we understand (& enjoy!) God’s idea of marriage?

In reading the Bible, you’ll soon see that divorce is never required or encouraged – it is only ever regulated. The OT passage provided a regulatory protection for the woman to make sure that she was not unfairly discriminated against or ostracised.

The passage in Deuteronomy suggests that there was at that time (circa 1400 B.C.E.) a practice in the Middle East that involved the exchange and trade of women in the guise of marriage, divorce and remarriage – this is what Moses is discouraging. (see Laney for more detail).

Any plans that a man might have concocted to profit by divorcing his wife, then having her marry another, get an inheritance or gift from him and then return to the first husband were outlawed by this clause in Moses’ teaching. This use of women as a type of trading chattel was an abominable practice that God’s people ought to have separated themselves from, thus the command in Deuteronomy.

In both that instance, and the instance where Jesus is being challenged, they had lost sight of the original design and purpose of marriage: God created it, & it shows us his unity.

At the time there were 2 main view points. The disciples of the rabbi Shammai held to a strict interpretation (divorce only for unfaithfulness) while the disciples of Hillel held to a lenient interpretation (divorce for almost any reason).

Instead of taking sides with either Shammai or Hillel, Jesus went back to Moses and the first marriage (Gen.1:27; 2:21–25). From the beginning, marriage meant one man and one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime. Moses’ commandment in Deut. 24:1–4 was a concession to the Jews because of their hardness of heart. It does not represent God’s ideal for marriage.

The added subtly of the encounter goes beyond an interpretive debate though. The Pharisees are setting Jesus up against Herod (the Roman ruler – and the one who had John the Baptist murdered.) Herod had married his brother’s former wife. This is a high profile case of divorce and remarriage. If they can get Jesus to come out against Herod it will give them a chance to charge him with a capital offense and have him killed.

Instead, Jesus brings them back to the final authority and sufficiency of scripture – This is God’s intention for marriage: i.e. it’s a picture of the unity of God and his love for us and desire to be reconciled.

Ephesians 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

In the gospel, we are re-joined with God as our Father through Jesus. When Adam and Eve sinned they separated themselves from God and we have followed in their footsteps. The gospel brings us back together with God. The gospel is all about reconciliation and forgiveness. In any marriage there is going to be many opportunities for you to receive and to experience both. Acknowledging you both are in need of the gospel is going to go a long way towards understanding (& enjoying!) God’s best for your marriage.

Recommended Reading:

God, Marriage and Family – Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Kostenberger with David W. Jones.

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Posted by on 22/03/2011 in Culture, Family, marriage


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