24 January 2008

Practicing the Presence of God - pt 7

Brother Lawrence said that in order to form a habit of conversing with God continually and referring all we do to Him, we must at first apply to Him with some diligence. Then, after a little care, we would find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.

In other words - at first, this 'practice of the presence of God' takes effort and constant self-reminders. After a while, though, we'll be used to talking and listening to God throughout our days, and wonder how we ever did without it.


11 January 2008

Sex and Marriage

I've been noticing that the most popular articles on this blogzine - by far! - are those about sex. And it's fair enough, too. There's often an unspoken assumption in the christian church that marriage = sex. Young couples are encouraged to stay 'pure' until they marry, to get the best out of life and sex. And while I don't disagree that marriage and sex should go together, it's a very obvious fact that sometimes they don't. So... what to do if the sex is lacking in your marriage?

Step 1: Let go of negative thoughts about your sex life (or lack thereof). In particular, watch for thoughts against your spouse - "she's doing it deliberately" or "he's just lazy". Challenge them. Try thinking, "what can we do about it?" instead. Ask God for help on this step, it can be very hard to change your thought patterns.

Step 2:
Have a look at Lori's article on reasons for loss of desire. Have a good think about possible reasons for the lack of sex in your marriage.

Step 3: Talk to your spouse. Ask for his or her opinion on your sex life, and what they think might be the cause of any problems. Ask what they think the two of you - as a team - can do about it. Allow time for thought, don't expect immediate answers. And try not to get defensive about any answers that sound like attacks.

Step 4: Think about what your spouse said. Did they highlight anything that you hadn't thought of? Are there any changes you could make - and if you could, should you? Pray before deciding this for sure.

Step 5: Together choose a solution or two to implement together. Start small, and commit to doing whatever it is longterm. It might be having a date night once a week, or trying a new position each month, or you mowing the lawn every week and her serving dinner earlier. Whatever. But make sure it's not just one person carrying the burden of change.

Step 6:
Follow through. See how it goes. If it falls down, go back to Step 1 and try again.

05 January 2008

Diary of a Broken Heart

2 days before surgery

Tomorrow - barring urgent cases taking priority over mine, or my surgeon getting sick, or something of the sort - I'm going into hospital for open heart surgery.

Am I nervous? Heck yeah! There's a weird feeling of having been there done that... but I remember nothing (I was 2, last time). I know full well that I need to expect pain, and difficulty, and while I don't feel particularly scared, I'm not particularly looking forward to it, you know? I feel fairly sure that I'll get through it OK, and I figure that if something does happen, God will be looking out for me. That doesn't mean that he'll necessarily stop something bad happening, but I know from experience that he'll be there, and he'll bring me through. Those are the important things. It probably helps that I've been getting so frustrated over my declining health that I'm eager to have the surgery just for the hope of feeling better than this!

02 January 2008

Spice Up Your Love Life (no sex toys required)

Here's an idea for celebrating the New Year.

No matter how good your marriage, it's a sure bet that it could be better. Unless, of course, you're the perfect woman married to the perfect man - in which case, I want to talk to you!

So here's the challenge. It's not a unique idea, mind you, but it's practically guaranteed to change your relationship in some way. Even if it's subtle. First, read this article on Christianity Today about love languages. Then, every day come up with one or two small things to do for your spouse to say "I love you". If you're certain of your spouse's 'love language', then primarily use that category (but use the other ones occasionally as well).

For example:

Day One: love note in his wallet, and a slice of his favourite cake in his briefcase
Day Two: give him a massage while watching CSI together
Day Three: do one of his chores for him
Day Four: play cards, a boardgame or a console game together
Day Five: leave a chocolate on his pillow
Day Six: tell him something you appreciate about his character
Day Seven: organise a romantic picnic (even if it is in the loungeroom)

I hope the above provides some ideas. The concept is really to focus on doing small, loving things regularly to bring a smile to your spouse's face. It's not guaranteed to save a struggling marriage. It may bring absolutely no return from your spouse. If you can, do it with no expectations whatsoever.

If you need more ideas, try subscribing to Lori's Generous Wife mailing list. She sends out daily emails containing ideas for being nice to your husband.


01 January 2008

Practicing the Presence of God - pt 6

Brother Lawrence said to arrive at such resignation as God requires, we should carefully watch over all the passions that mingle in spiritual as well as temporal things. God would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him.

It can be incredibly hard to sort God's will from our own desires at times. In fact, I've sometimes found that the only way I could work it out was to work out what I felt led to do but didn't really want to do - that was generally what God eanted from me! But that's not a fantastic test, especially if we're haunted by ideas of what we should be doing, or being.

Brother Lawrence's advice needs to be taken in the context of his overall theme - continuous conversation with God. Let him lead in little ways, and the big things will grow from there. Noticing the lonely-looking person over there, and feel a tug towards them? That's probably God. Remembering an acquaintance with financial issues? That might well be God pointing you toward doing something for them. Don't worry so much about achieving the big stuff... preaching up a storm, being renowned for your work amongst a minority group, whatever. That sort of thing typically happens while someone is focused on obeying God every minute. And it happens because God orchestrates it, not because his servant does.