Disclaimer: There is no intentional theme to today’s links. It’s all coincidence.
From Her.meneutics – A 39 year old fiance and English Professor reflects on her engagement, the weight of marriage, and how little the “concept” of marriage does justice to the actual thing:
Yes, my relationship is full of plenty of romance and laughter and companionship, but it’s also full of difficult conversations, compromise, and sacrifice. In my pre-engagement idealistic daydreams of marriage, my fiancé was simply “husband,” a generic abstract entity that made no demands on me, who simply provided for me and met my needs. Surely I knew—somewhere and vaguely—that marriage would call on me to make sacrifices, but making sacrifices in the abstract? Piece of cake. Making actual, concrete sacrifices? Anything but. My fiancé’s very presence in my life challenges me to expand my perspective, to direct my attention outward, and to seek the good of someone else. Instead of rescuing me from my burdens, my fiancé actually rescues me from my self-centeredness.
From Boundless – Suzanne Hadley takes a look at 7 of the most deadly myths on marriage that the enemy uses to discourage women.
From TGC – Interview with Lauren Chandler (wife of The Village Pastor Matt Chandler) in which she discusses her husband’s bout with cancer, on suffering, and how she has changed through those experiences. An excerpt:
This season of suffering has become an opportunity to press more and more into the Father, and be shaped by him more and more into the likeness of Jesus. It has been an appointed time to let all other “props” go so that I may lean solely on him. By no means do I lean on him perfectly. There are plenty of false props that he brings to my attention, of which I continually have to confess and repent. But, even then, it is an opportunity to believe the gospel and trust that even as I don’t “get it right” Jesus got it right for me, and he has made a way for me to run to him, not from him when I inevitably fail.
Pastor Steve Cornell on “structured separation” as one of the last resorts to sending a wake up call and saving a marriage. Not divorce, per se, but a separation, nonetheless:
One thing I did not expect when I entered ministry (and would have perhaps opposed) was the need to advise a married couple to separate. Certainly I would have understood such a need if one was in danger. Yet I never thought much beyond this kind of scenario until I began to encounter individuals dealing with mates who persistently behaved in ways that were destroying their marriages.
In some cases, marital separation becomes a necessary step in sending the ultimate wake-up call to a complacent and selfish mate. I have observed this in the context of substance abuse, severe financial irresponsibility, unending emotional and/or verbal abuse, psychological breakdown and abrogation of marital commitments. Each case has its own set of circumstances and level of severity.
Separation should be considered a last resort and never entered hastily or without godly counsel. One of the primary risks of separation is the oppressed mate finding so much relief without the other that they refuse to return. In view of this, I have written a seven point plan for what I call a structured separation. I have witnessed this work with a good number of couples.
From Owen Strachan:
I have spoken out fairly strongly against MMA in the past, and my basic convictions about the sport haven’t changed. Christians should encourage the development of physical courage and ability in young men, yes. They should reject pacificism, and they should encourage boys to be adventurous and tough. But I don’t think that we should tie courage to unnecessary violence. Courage for a needful aim is good; courage in service to a needless fight is not good, particularly when that fight will cause great damage to the body, much more than is necessary in “manhood training” or whatever you wish to call it.
For that reason, I can’t support MMA, much as readers of this blog know that I advocate a robust brand of full-orbed, Christ-as-warrior manhood. I do think, though, that the NYT piece is right when it suggests that part of the cultural interest in MMA among men is that there are so few outlets for boys as boys in today’s society. Many young men don’t grow up hunting, fishing, farming, camping, or even just playing outdoors. In my sleepy neighborhood in Louisville, there are a number of kids who go outside with the same regularity as their elderly grandparents. They sit in basement caves, locked in to video games, denizens of the indoors. A whole world sits outside. It is not discovered.
You definitely need a major playmaker if you want to win a title. It’s no bad thing to have a leader on a team. But that leader must constantly check his ego to make sure that others are invested in the greater goal and are able to use their own strengths for the team’s betterment. Godly confidence is good and right; a crucial part of it, though, is humility. You’re confident enough in God and his work in you that you are humble. The Christian leader is perhaps most different from the worldly leader in that, as one saved by the God who became man, he is tenaciously humble, always looking to encourage others, always sacrificing so others can shine. To use sports language, he “makes everyone around him better,” not worse.
If Christian leadership succumbs to a form of so-called “hero ball,” it is no better than the world, and it seems to suggest that the gospel does not transform. It says, in other words, that God lies.