Archive for April, 2013

Tweets of the Week 4.30.13

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 it’s funny…

C.S. Lewis on How to Make a Good Impression

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it (p. 226).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Self-preoccupation may be the world’s most secure prison. How much of our truncated, fearful, bitter, self-destructive, or prejudicial thinking is generated from a fixation on self?

The problem is bigger than unpleasant emotions. The more we focus on our self and what others think of us the less effective we become at whatever we are doing.

  • A comedian focused on what the crowd thinks of him is less funny.
  • An athlete worried about how the media will gauge his performance has weaker instincts.
  • A writer concerned about his critics’ reviews is less creative.
  • A politician concerned about his approval rating loses his convictions.
  • A parent worried about whether their child likes them is less consistent.
  • A counselor worried about what he will say next listens poorly and is less insightful.

The thing we want most (whatever it is) will cost us what we do most naturally (fixate on self). What does it take to obtain the life we all want?

We must find something that:

  1. Draws our attention away from our self.
  2. Can keep our attention for a lifetime.
  3. Moves us towards love rather than power.

There are many things that can accomplish “A.” Every time we are caught up in a moment of awe this objective has been accomplished.

There are very few things on the A-list that can also accomplish “B.” Especially in a day of information overload, we are quickly bored or distracted; or our pleasure fades with age.

However, only the gospel can accomplish “C.” Every other pleasure drives us to control or mastery and turns us in on ourselves or becomes increasingly less relevant as we near death. The sooner and more fully we embrace the gospel the longer and more completely we know life.

GCM & Finances & Video 1: Why Is Budgeting Hard?

This video segment is one of five presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Finances” seminar. There will be four more seminars in this series covering the subjects: foundations, communication, decision making, and intimacy. As those presentations are ready they will be posted on this blog.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Gospel Centered Finances Part 1 from Equip on Vimeo.

Financial Beliefs and Character Evaluation: Evaluation – Financial Beliefs and Character

Memorize: 1Timothy 4:7-9; 6:8 (ESV), “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance… Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment’” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Timothy” – Paul was writing to a young man he was mentoring as he started his adult life and ministry.
  • “Silly myths” – Common sense about money from a debt-sick culture likely belong in this category.
  • “Train yourself” – This training begins with thinking rightly about the subjects in which we need to live godly.
  • “Present life” – Godliness has value for our current circumstances; it is not just about heaven.
  • “Contentment” – Contentment is a core virtue of godliness that has far-reaching implications for finances.

 Teaching Notes

“The problem isn’t primarily about money and budgeting. Money and budgets are simply the topics of dispute (p. 187).” John Henderson in Catching Foxes

“Because it is built on a lie (material things can make us happy), materialism can’t and doesn’t work. It leaves us empty, in debt, and addicted, while taking our time, attention, and energy away from the most important human relationship in all of life (p. 107).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?

“We spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know/like.” American Proverb

“Are you awake and free from the false messages of American merchandising? Or has the omnipresent economic lie deceived you so that the only sin you can imagine in relation to money is stealing (p. 164)?” John Piper in Desiring God

“It is remarkable that the writer [of Hebrews 13:4-5] puts money and the marriage bed side by side… The pursuit of power and pleasure mingle in these two areas as in no others (p. 129).” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage

The Glorious Family Meal Calendar

This may not be the most flashy suggestion, but the marital and financial benefits far exceed the common expectations from planning your family dinners a month at a time and posting them in the kitchen (generic template: Blank Monthly Meal Calendar). Consider the following benefits of this exercise for your budget and marriage and consider how many areas of your marriage will be enhanced by this simple exercise.

  • Food is a major line item in any family budget. Other than mortgage / rent, food is the next largest expenditure in many families. A monthly meal calendar creates many ways to cut the cost of food while elevating the priority of having meals together.
  • Grocery shopping becomes easier and more economical. The grocery list is breakfast food, lunch food, and whatever you don’t have to fix that week’s dinners. Shopping is more efficient (which protects family time) and more economical (less food goes bad as you only buy what you need).
  • Having a meal calendar promotes the importance of having a family meal time. You give value and honor to the things you plan. You build a sense of expectation that this is something “we do” and enjoy. No longer does there have to be “a reason” to sit at the table together; now there has to be a reason not to.
  • Cooking becomes less stressful. Deciding what to fix and figuring out if you have the ingredients is usually the stressful part of dinner. A few minutes at the beginning of the month means no more freezing up at the pantry door and less relying on the “quickie” fall back option (i.e., usually frozen pizza or chicken nuggets).
  • Plan “leftovers” to save money and relieve stress on busy evenings. You usually know what nights things are too hectic to cook. Without a plan there is a tendency to either eat out or eat something unhealthy. With a little planning you can warm up something healthy.
  • Become intentional about when to eat out. Eating out is a wonderful treat, but should not be a way of life. As a way of life, eating out is bad stewardship.
  • With a meal calendar you will be forced to consider how many “date nights” you are setting aside each month. This is a great marital practice.
  • You will eat healthier. A lifestyle of preparing last minute meals doesn’t tend to be a healthy life. Eating more fruits and vegetables can create a significant savings in medical cost and time away from work.
  • You will eat a greater variety of foods and, therefore, enjoy time at home more. Part of the reason the culture neglects home is because we’ve allowed it to become mundane and repetitive. When we put a little planning into our home life we can be intentional about bringing variety into it. You can plan when you’re going to try that new recipe you’ve wanted to cook.
  • You will begin to view month as a whole. There are huge advantages to viewing this larger unit of time (month vs. week). By looking at the evenings you’re already scheduled to be out at the beginning of the month, you know the critical times to protect in order to ensure you don’t go large stretches without time together as a couple.
  • Reveals the opportunity for community. Meals are a natural time to get to know neighbors and people from small group. When meals are planned at the last minute it often feels like a “big deal” to have people over (if we think of fit at all). As you plan your meal calendar, you can look at when you would have people over and plan a meal that accommodates more people.
  • This is a quick and easy exercise after you do it the first month. After the first month you just update the evenings you have plans, add any new recipes you want to try, and juggle your favorites to fill in the rest. The few minutes it takes will be more than replaced with the time/money you save and the marital benefits.

This tool and explanation are an excerpt from:

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Finances
Part One: April 20, 2013
Part Two: April 27, 2013
Times: 4:00 to 5:30 pm and 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Tweets of the Week 4.23.13

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.

https://twitter.com/RickWarren/status/324457675125567488

And one because it’s funny…

https://twitter.com/prodigalsam/status/325806010155536388

VLOG: How Should I Think About Lust After the Death of My Spouse?

Question: I was married for 30+ years before losing my wife a couple of years ago. As a young person and throughout our marriage I struggled with masturbation. Frankly, I can see how it prevented me from enjoying sex with my wife as God intended. I want to honor God better than I have in any other season of my life. But in my loneliness I am prone to fantasize about my wife and masturbate. I know it would be wrong to fantasize about anyone else. Should I abstain from fantasizing about my wife?

Resources: Here are several resources that can be useful in preparing for of following up with the conversation discussed in this VLOG post.

To review the other questions addressed in this VLOG series click here.

Note: The VLOG (video-blog) Q&A is a regular series on my blog. If you would like to submit a question, it can be e-mailed to Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail). Please limit your questions to 3-7 sentences. This is not a forum for to request or receive counseling. No responses will be sent to questions other than those selected for a video response.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Grief” post which address other facets of this subject.

GCM “Communication” Video 6: Forgiveness

This video segment is one of six presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar. There will be four more seminars in this series covering the subjects: foundations, finances, decision making, and intimacy. As those presentations are ready they will be posted on this blog.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

GCM Communication Part 6 from Equip on Vimeo.

Plumb Lines: These are the “sticky” statements that capture the core messages of this chapter.

  • We never forgive more than we’ve been forgiven.
  • Unforgiveness is the choice to define your spouse by his/her faults.
  • Forgiveness is not a method to be learned as much as a truth to be lived.
  • The possibility of a lasting, happy marriage can be measured by a couple’s willingness to forgive.

Memorize: Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV), “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Let” – We do have control over whether we choose to forgive; we can’t control the consequences of our choice.
  • “All” – God’s will is that we free ourselves from bitterness by Christ’s payment for our sin and the sin against us.
  • “Put away” – A difficult commitment of forgiveness is to quit entertaining ourselves with painful memories.
  • “Be kind” – We often get caught trying to force the fruit (forgiveness) instead of planting the seed (kindness).
  • “As God in Christ” – We are following in Christ’s footsteps of forgiveness not pioneering new territory.

“Counseling techniques cannot help people forgive any more than a physician can heal a person’s body. Counseling techniques, like a physician’s tool, are merely structures through which God sometimes sovereignly acts (p. 120).” Everett Worthington in “Helping People Forgive” in Caring for People God’s Way

“We need to forgive sin and forbear strangeness, and sometimes you won’t even agree on which is which (p. 53).” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage

“Their marriage rusted into brokenness by the daily rain of the little drops of unforgiveness (p. 90)….The harvest of forgiveness is the kind of marriage everyone wants (p. 97)… Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection. When we forgive one another daily, we do not look at one another through the lens of our worst failures and biggest weaknesses (p. 98).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?

“You’ll likely find practicing forgiveness in marriage difficult. This is because the more intimate you are with someone, the more power he or she has to wound you deeply (p. 182)…. Fear, anger, bitterness, hopelessness, and even numbness can impede forgiveness. Emotions that keep us tied to past wounds, they rob forgiveness of its life-giving power (p. 185).” Winston Smith in Marriage Matters

“Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery.  We ought to hate them.  Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid.  But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again (p. 106).” C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

“As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think: as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think (p. 124).” C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory

“You see, God never intended our bodies to hold up under the weight of unresolved conflict and bitterness (p. 67)…. Forgiveness is not so much about us as it is about Him. Every opportunity you encounter to practice forgiveness is an opportunity to draw attention to the God who so delights to show mercy and to pardon sinners that He gave His only Son to make it possible (p. 214).” Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Forgiveness

Tweets of the Week 4.16.13

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 it’s funny…

And another one because it’s funny in a LOTR kind of way…

But My Spouse Won’t Be Honest About His/Her Sexual Sin

Question: After I learned of my husband’s infidelity, I began your nine step study called “True Betrayal.” I found it helpful and started to get some hope back until my husband would not cooperate with the full disclosure exercise in step two. Actually, he will barely answer any of my questions now because he says, “It will only upset me.” I think he’s still lying and hiding his sin. Can your materials still help me? If so, how?

*This question is equally relevant when a wife will not be honest to husband our her sexual sin. Neither sexual sin nor the answer to this question is gender-specific.

Resources: Here are several resources that can be useful in preparing for of following up with the conversation discussed in this VLOG post.

  • True Betrayal: This is a video based nine step resource for those whose spouse is caught in sexual sin (from pornography to adultery).
  • False Love: This is a video based nine step resource for those, single or married, who are caught in sexual sin (from pornography to adultery).
  • How Specific Should a Spouse be Confessing Sexual Sin?: This is a blog that offers a 5 minute video by David Powlison and specific guidance on this question.
  • Self-Centered Spouse: This is blog series that seeks to answer the question, “What do I do when my spouse is so aggressively or passively self-centered that it is hard to have a normal relationship?”
  • To Speak or Not to Speak: This a section from chapter three of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar that looks at how Scripture calls us to respond to various levels of offenses.
  • Unfaithful: This is an excellent book by Gary and Mona Shriver which tells their story of overcoming the pain and relational damage of infidelity.

To review the other questions addressed in this VLOG series click here.

Note: The VLOG (video-blog) Q&A is a regular series on my blog. If you would like to submit a question, it can be e-mailed to Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail). Please limit your questions to 3-7 sentences. This is not a forum for to request or receive counseling. No responses will be sent to questions other than those selected for a video response.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

GCM “Communication” Video 5: Repentance

This video segment is one of six presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar. There will be four more seminars in this series covering the subjects: foundations, finances, decision making, and intimacy. As those presentations are ready they will be posted on this blog.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

GCM Communication Part 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

Plumb Lines: These are the “sticky” statements that capture the core messages of this chapter.

  • Repentance and forgiveness are the life sustaining inhale, exhale of a healthy marriage.
  • Repentance says, “I value our marriage more than my pride.”
  •  “I’m sorry,” is for mistakes. “Will you forgive me,” is for sin.
  • True repentance is followed by change or it is mere remorse.

Memorize: Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV), “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Speck” – When we’re upset we suffer from “moral vision impairment” – other’s offenses appear larger than ours.
  • “Log” – Jesus’ comparing log and speck isn’t meant to measure offenses but correct our disproportionate vision.
  • “Hypocrite” – The failure to repent results in a second sin, one of character rather than action, hypocrisy.
  • “First” – We repent by faith; our repentance is not guaranteed to be met with forgiveness or confession.
  • “Then” – In a gospel-centered marriage our faith creates an environment in which confession is safe and natural.

“Self-centeredness by its very character makes you blind to your own [sin] while being hypersensitive, offended, and angered by that of others. The result is always a downward spiral into self-pity, anger, and despair, as the relationship gets eaten away to nothing (p. 57)… Only if we are very good at forgiving and very good at repenting can truth and love be kept together (p. 163).” Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

“I have a theory: Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance (p. 96).” Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage

“Confession shouldn’t be this scary thing we do our best to avoid; and sin, weakness, and failure should not be the constant elephant in the room that husbands and wives know is there but cannot talk about. Confession should be seen as a wonderful gift that every marriage needs. It should be liberating. It should be freeing. It should not be seen as a moment of personal loss but as an opportunity for personal and relational gain (p. 79).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?

“If you aren’t really taking responsibility for what you did, then you aren’t confessing sin (p. 176)… When you are able to describe yourself that accurately then you’re going to be more successful at changing and your spouse is going to find it easier to forgive (p. 177)… Confessing sin is a proclamation of the gospel: a proclamation that there’s a way back from failure, that there’s rescue and healing from brokenness. We don’t have to hide our sin from each other. The reverse is also true. Refusal to confess and forgive is a proclamation of hopelessness and despair. It proclaims that the only hope of overcoming sin is covering it in the same pointless way that Adam and Eve tried (p. 189).” Winston Smith in Marriage Matters