Tweets of the Week 4.22.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

 

Video: 10 Keys to Ensure Caring Is Helping

10 Keys to Ensure Caring is Helping from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

A PDF of the one-page notes for this presentation is available here: 10 Keys to Ensure Caring Is Helping

When we care for one another wisely three things should happen: (a) the person being cared for should be blessed, (b) the love of Christ should become more tangible, and (c) our faith should grow.

Sometimes our attempts of caring can be done unwisely, resulting in unintended consequences: (a) the person being cared for is enabled, (b) the love of Christ is misrepresented, and (c) the care-giver becomes exhausted.

On this page we want to provide principles of wise care-giving to ensure that our small groups are places of wise, Christ-honoring care that mutually bless the recipient and giver of care.

1. Avoid the rescuer mentality. When you begin to bear the weight of responsibility for someone else’s life unwise decisions always follow. Your role is to come alongside an individual or family to do what is within your power to assist them; not rescue them from things outside your control.

2. Do not replace the legal system. If something illegal happens, either to or by the person you are helping, your first responsibility is to report that to the appropriate legal authority. The church is called to submit to and assist with the implementation of the laws of the government over us (Rom. 13:1-7).

3. Know your role within the church. The call to be “all things to all people” (I Cor. 9:22) is given to the church at large and not any one individual or group within a church. Trying to “be the church” rather than effectively play your role within the church will result in personal burnout and people getting hurt.

4. Never do what someone can/should do for themselves. This is the tell-tale sign that assistance is becoming enablement. If a task is hard or confusing, then find a way that helps (i.e., explain, go with, research, encourage, remove obstacles, etc…) without replacing the effort of your friend.

5. Create “halfway” steps. When helping does require doing something for or giving money to your friend, then it is wise to create a clear halfway step to ensure your friend is willing to be a good steward of your kindness. A question to help you find a halfway step is, “What would my friend have to begin to do in order for my kindness not to evaporate in life’s stress?” This principle ensures that your kindness leads your friend to freedom instead of a new, unhealthy dependence upon you or your group.

6. Model a healthy life and relationship. Making exceptions to “healthy” is what gets most people into a crisis. Modeling how to deal with difficult situations without violating the basic principles of “healthy” is often as important as any of the logistical or financial assistance you provide.

7. Know your physical, emotional, and financial limits. Creating a second crisis does not help the first one. Scripture calls us to be generous “as we are able” (Deut. 16:17). When we go beyond this, we model a reactive approach to crises that fails to disciple those we are helping in how to make wise decisions in hard times.

8. Never allow “team splitting” to occur. Talking negatively of one person in order to affirm and get more from another should be directly and immediately confronted as wrong. It is a form of manipulation disguised as a compliment and tries to get one party to do more because another is doing less.

9. Do not allow yourself to be motivated-manipulated by guilt. Guilt is motivational junk food; it gives short boosts of energy followed by long periods of fatigue. When you feel yourself being motivated by guilt (internally or externally) talk with your ministry support person in order to prevent burnout.

10. If you’re not sure, ask your ministry support person. Helping never means having all the answers, or even always knowing the next question to ask. When you feel stuck or trapped in a helping situation, ask for help. This is allowing the church to be the Body of Christ to you as you strive to be part of the Body of Christ for someone else.

Marital Conversation Starters about Sex

Here are several quotes utilized in the lecture portion of the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy seminar. Use these and the evaluation tool that follows to cultivate healthy conversations about sex.

“The task you face is not getting rid of all of your expectations, but basing them realistically on biblical principles…. It may seem like strange advice, but the quality of your sex life may depend on turning off the television, picking a good fight, becoming independent of your parents, setting up a budget, or taking regular vacations (p. xi).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

“In the busyness of life, lovers forget to make eye contact when they’re talking—or for that matter, when they are making love. The eyes express so much: acceptance, excitement, a longing to understand, and sexual desire (p. 122)… Every mate who wants to be a passionate lover must practice the discipline of growing up and becoming a confident person (p. 180)… There is nothing sexier than men or women who are comfortable in their own skin and can confidently launch into new adventures in wild and unique ways (p. 181).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

“In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body (p. 28).” C. J. Mahaney in Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

“To be sexy is to be aware of your body as an instrument of playfulness and delight, to be able to communicate this awareness to your husband and give him the gift of your body for pleasure, delight, variety, and playfulness. We’re going to tell you a secret. It’s better to be sensuous than to have a perfect ‘10’ body. (p. 59)… One of the quickest and best ways to feel good about your body is to have a rewarding sexual relationship with your husband. Good sexual experiences breed high levels of body satisfaction (p. 64).” Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in Intimate Issues

“Making love needs to be based on an intimate marital partnership. Without the playful, loving companionship, sex becomes another buzz or rush that loses its perspective and has increasingly diminishing returns (p. 8)… You cannot work at creating better lovemaking; you and your mate have to play at it (p. 13)… Sexy lovers take the time to develop the sensual, romantic part of their minds and personalities (p. 18)… Sex is perhaps 80 percent fantasy (imagination in mind) and about 20 percent friction. Granted, pleasuring erogenous zones (friction) is fun, but what truly creates the excitement is your mind (p. 74).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

Find the “Sexual Intimacy in Marriage” evaluation here

These resources are excerpts from the following seminar:

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday April 26, 2014
Part Two: Saturday May 3, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm or 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Part One (April 26) // Part Two (May 3)

CGCM slide intimacy

 

The Gospel in Uncomfortable Marital Moments

During neutral or good times it should now be clear how to reinforce the gospel narrative through our words and thoughts. We give God the credit for the good things in our lives and we train ourselves to notice and give weight to His blessings even in the midst of mundane events.

What remains to be done is to demonstrate how the gospel narrative is able to allow us to be honest about each other’s disappointments and failures while not detracting from an ever increasing closeness within a marriage. Let’s examine each of the four major themes of the gospel in order to see how they can still generate an encouraging story when the topic to be addressed is unpleasant.

1. Creation

We realize we only have the standard and expectation of “good” because God is good and He made our world (including marriage and our spouse) to be good. If life were random or built purely on a “survival of the fittest” evolution, then the expectation that life would be “good” would be irrational.

Allow your points of failure or disappointment to be a reminder that it is a blessing that we have a good God who created us to be good people and live in a good world. The fact that our hearts are calibrated to want and pursue good is a blessing that is easy to take for granted. Praise God the compass of our conscience is set to desire to the true North of God’s goodness.

This is part of God’s grace which should shape the story of the disappointments and failures we face and perpetrate in our marriage. Even when we disagree on how love could/should be expressed in our marriage, we are blessed to want love more than power, unity more than dominance, and relationship more than isolation.

2. Fall

But the preceding paragraphs are not always true. They may represent what we know to be right and what we want to want, but we do not have to look outside ourselves to see that life does not match the ideals of our own conscience. This is where many of us get appalled and draw back from relationships because of the fear of being hurt or insecurity of being found out.

For Christians the presence of sin should be expected, not a surprise. We do not believe that people are good, and there must be a reason people do selfish things. It is when we are surprised at sin that increases our sense of being threatened. You can see an unknown man in a mask with a knife in a haunted house and the experience is much different than if he’s in your home. The first you expect and are merely startled. The second you don’t expect and are traumatized.

The absence of shock gives you the opportunity to respond to sin differently. Whereas the “rose colored glasses of love” would mean your ideal marriage story is crumbling; the gospel allows us to grieve the presence and be hurt by the impact of sin without feeling like the narrative has turned tragic. It also reminds us that the presence of sin is not the final scene in our story; it’s only the second of four.

3. Redemption

We see a greater goodness of God in His redemptive work than we do in any other aspect of creation or history. We can take good things and make lesser good things; turning trees into paper or used paper into recycled paper. Only God can take bad things and make them good. For this reason, Christians believe that broken things restored by God can have a greater glory than something that has never been broken.

That begs the question of Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” and is met with the answer of Romans 6:2, “By no means!” That would revel in the brokenness instead of celebrating redemption.

Relationships, especially marriage, afford us the opportunity to do more than witness God’s work of redemption; we also get to participate in it. We are not fans in the stands of God’s grace, merely cheering on what is going on “over there.” We are in the huddle participating in the play being drawn up by our great Player/Coach who graciously involves us in the restoration of those we love; and them in our restoration.

4. Glorification

If the story stopped with perpetual redemption it would eventually become dissatisfying. Being forgiven is wonderful; the thought of inevitably needing to be forgiven is discouraging. Forgiveness can be powerfully romantic (hence the adage “fight hard and make up hard”), but the expectation you’ll unescapably be hurt in a way that requires forgiveness becomes a turn-off.

The gospel does not leave us in the hamster wheel of redemption. We will enter eternal rest (Hebrews 4:3-9). God will not exhaust us with a good thing we cannot sustain; He is the Good Father who does not provoke His children until they become discouraged (Col. 3:21).

As we maintain encouragement during times of disappointment and failure by contextualizing these experiences in the larger narrative of the gospel, we can rest knowing these are momentary struggles – the short chapters before the gloriously eternal concluding chapter (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Do these four points tell you how to respond when sin or disappointment affect your marriage? No. Not if you want a script to read to yourself or your spouse for every potential unpleasant circumstance the two of you will face. We can begin to see the question is not realistic.

Do these four points alert you to when your thought life is going off-script with the gospel narrative for your marriage? Yes. When you can discern when you are leaving the gospel narrative you can reach out for help before the new-false narrative becomes entrenched. The earlier you can root out a false-narrative the easier it is to resist.

  • Which of the four themes of the gospel tend to get distorted most when you face hard times?
  • What are the areas of your life, that when negatively impacted, most tempt you to leave the gospel narrative?

Part of what we see in the gospel narrative is that it begins and ends in paradise – the Garden of Eden and Heaven. These are two pictures we see of life and relationships as God intended. The goal of every narrative is to lead people somewhere. Let’s look at Genesis 1 to learn one more thing about where the gospel narrative intends to lead us.

Read Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 25, and 31. Notice the restraint of God’s language. He was content to say His creation was “good,” even for the pinnacle of His creation He only said “very good.” There is no use of words like better, best, or other superlatives. God was not competing with other creators. God was not even competing with Himself. We often get lost wondering, “Is our marriage better than [name]? Are we doing better than [name]? Does [name] do conflict better than we do?” We lose the basic question – is what we’re doing good? When this happens we invariably leave the gospel narrative for either pride or insecurity.

These resources are excerpts from the following seminar:

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday April 26, 2014
Part Two: Saturday May 3, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Part One (April 26) // Part Two (May 3)

CGCM slide intimacy

Tweets of the Week 4.15.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

And one because its funny…

What is “the Story” of Your Marriage?

What is the love story mold into which you want your marriage to grow? Cinderella, Pretty Woman, Snow White, Titanic, Gone with the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sleepless in Seattle, Grease, Jerry Maguire, Dirty Dancing, etc…? Whether the plot line comes from Hollywood cinema or not, we all have an ideal “narrative” we want our marriage to follow.

As one friend of my wife pointed out, “All chic-flicks are about the same thing. The guy does everything the girl wants to win the girl’s love and attention. She gets to be a god.” The same could be said of the pornographic films to which many men are becoming addicted, “The girl does everything the guy wants to win his love and attention. He gets to be a god.”

This is the really dangerous parts about our ideal love stories (even more than sexual lust); we are a god in the story–the story centers on us. Everyone else, including God, is a supporting actor in our story. This tendency doesn’t go away when we get married. In fact, for many people, it only gets worse as we try to make our “forever relationship” into the “happily ever after” we’ve been creating with each book we read and move we watch. This was the human tendency before modern media, but the multi-billion dollar, idealized story-telling industry greatly exacerbates the tendency.

In this chapter we want to combat these tendencies in two ways:

  1. Examine how and where a non-gospel narrative takes root and gains power in your marriage.
  2. Discover simple, powerful practices to keep the gospel as the grand narrative of your marital love.

In order to help you appreciate how we’ll approach these two things, consider the following question, “How does a news story catch traction and gain definition in our modern media?” The answer is “sound bites” – a clip is played over and over, and opposite sides compete so their phrase is used to describe the event.

This is more than political theatre or the product of cramming world news into a 30 minute program. It is a basic human tendency played out on a large scale. We give things meaning and reinforce that meaning through frequently repeated small messages or images. This is as true of individuals as it is of cultures.

Where does it happen for individuals? In our self-talk, the things we replay in our minds. As Paul Tripp is fond of saying, “No one is more influential in your world than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.” We spin (for better or worse) the events of our lives and quality of our marriage in our own mind constantly. The bias of our “coverage” will either be gospel-gospel-gospel or self-self-self.

Find “Living in THE Love Story” Evaluation Here

These resources are excerpts from the following seminar:

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday October 19, 2013
Part Two: Saturday October 26, 2013
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm or 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Part One (April 26) // Part Two (May 3)

CGCM slide intimacy

How Well Do You Love the Specific Spouse God Gave You?

“For centuries, thinkers have discerned forms of love. The Greeks had words to distinguish affection (storge), friendship (philos), erotic love (eros), and service (agape). There are other ways of breaking down expressions of love into categories. All forms of love are necessary, and none are to be ignored, but all of us find some forms of love to be more emotionally valuable to us. They are a currency that we find particularly precious, a language that delivers the message of love to our hearts with the most power. Some types of love are more thrilling and fulfilling to us when we receive them (p. 153)… In the incarnation, God came to us in a manner that we could grasp. So we, too, must clothe our love in the forms to which our spouse can relate (p. 154).” Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

Which system is the right system? What gauge is the right gauge? What metaphor best captures what we’re supposed to be paying attention to? If you have read many books on marriage you know how confusing these questions can be: love languages, pink hearing aids, blue sun glasses, love tanks, love banks, waffles, spaghetti, Mars, Venus, his needs, her needs, love, respect, love dare, seven key questions, seven minute solutions, new marriages by Friday, fourteen secrets, etc… (that’s from a two minute search on “marriage” on a Christian bookstore website).

Is all this language different ways of saying the same thing or do we need to know this many different systems?

You hear one couple talk about how a book / speaker completely revitalized their marriage and another couple tells you the same book / speaker didn’t do anything for them, is totally unrealistic, or created tension in their marriage.

How do we know what is “worth our time” (which is limited and we’d prefer not to waste)?

Find Love Preferences Evaluation Here

These resources are excerpts from the following seminar:

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday April 26, 2014
Part Two: Saturday May 3, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Part One (April 26) // Part Two (May 3)

CGCM slide intimacy

Overview – Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy

What are we going to talk about in this seminar? Sex… romance… affection… affirming words… weekly date nights… talking about our feelings… vulnerability… What is “intimacy”?

Chances are you won’t create something you can’t define and many couples have a hard time agreeing about what counts as intimacy. “Agreeing to disagree” is definitely not the solution to this dilemma.

For this seminar “intimacy” will be used to capture the full breadth of romantic activities shared by husband and wife; from encouragement, flirting, serving, and handholding to romantic get aways, long love letters, and gourmet sex. This seminar is about maintaining a deep sense of enjoyment for each other.

It is easy to allow the awkwardness of this subject – talking about emotions, affection, and sex – to prevent a couple from enjoying some of marriage’s sweetest fruit. It takes a mature man and woman to flirt tastefully over a lifetime, put their dreams and desires into words consistently, and talk wholesomely about what is sexually enjoyable.

Most of these are conversations you should not be having with anyone else, so it makes sense there would be some awkwardness. Don’t allow the potential clumsiness of speech or action to prevent you from pursuing and enjoying the spouse God has blessed you with.

Here is outline of the seminar:

Saturday April 26

Section 1. What Makes Intimacy Difficult? The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Things We Rarely Discuss

Section 2. Understanding Our Differences An Essential Part of Lasting Romance

Section 3. Living in THE Love Story Experiencing God’s Greatest Message In Life’s Greatest Blessing

Saturday May 3

Section 4. Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part One) Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Foreplay

Section 5. Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part Two) Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Intercourse

Registration Information

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday April 26, 2014
Part Two: Saturday May 3, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Part One (April 26) // Part Two (May 3)

 CGCM slide intimacy

Tweets of the Week 4.8.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

GCM Finances Video 5: Getting Into Saving

This video segment is one of five presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Finances” seminar. The full GCM series of seminars and pre-marital mentoring ministry they facilitate can be found at www.bradhambrick.com/gcm.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

GCM Communication Part 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

Memorize: I Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV), “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “The rich” – By a global standard, even the poor in America are rich. We should view ourselves accordingly.
  • “Set their hopes” – The big issue of greed is not hoarding or cheating, but a false foundation of our hope.
  • “Provides… to enjoy” – God truly wants us to enjoy the blessings He has brought into our life.
  • “Be generous” – One of primary the joys of the blessings God gives should be to share those blessings with others.
  • “Truly life” – When we spend money we spend our life, so we should seek to get “true life” in return.

Teaching Notes

“We will evaluate where true security and safety are found in this world, and in the end we will determine not to waste our lives on anything but uncompromising, unconditional abandonment to a gracious, loving Savior who invites us to take radical risk and promises us radical reward (p. 21).” David Platt in Radical

“Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality… I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc… is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them (p. 81-82).” C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving (p. 73).” Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle

“If your treasures are on earth, that means each day brings you closer to losing your treasures (p. 40)… He who spends his life moving away from his treasures has reason to despair. He who spends his life moving toward his treasure has reason to rejoice (p. 43).” Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle

“As base a thing as money often is, it yet can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor; it can keep a missionary actively winning lost men in the light of the gospel and thus transmuted itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality (p. 107).” A.W. Tozer in Born After Midnight

“The reason the use of your money provides a good foundation for eternal life is not that generosity earns eternal life, but that it shows where your heart is. Generosity confirms that our hope is in God and not in ourselves or our money (p. 167).” John Piper Desiring God

 

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