Tuesday, January 30, 2007

P4E.008 Fairness Compromises Godliness

A subject is coming up a lot recently. I call it the "What about her?" syndrome. It goes like this: We are ministering to a couple who is struggling in their marriage. Because God calls the husband to spiritual leadership in the home, we begin to focus on him. In his flesh, the husband begins to defend himself by defaulting to his "Adamic" DNA and says, in effect, "the woman whom Thou gavest to be with me...." Blameshifting is deep seated in us men and we make every effort to keep the tradition alive.

There are two other concepts that are related to the "What about her?" syndrome. The first is the "50-50" concept of marriage. My longtime friend and counselor, Dave Taylor, showed me the wall full of books about marriage and family counselling in his office one time. They were by secular and Christian authors. Dave said that the problem with them for the most part is that they are all based on the 50-50 concept of marriage. "I'll move a little, if she'll move a little and if we keep it up we'll meet in the middle." The second, related, concept is held with strong conviction. It's the concept of "fairness." Secular and Christian alike, we hold fast to the concept of "fairness" and "justice."

Let's work backwards through these concepts to gain some new perspective on our relationships. As "Christians" (meaning little Christs) we are called to be like Him. If you think that Christ came to fight for "truth, justice and the American way" you are confusing Him with a fictional superhero. As Ken Nair puts it (and I love this quote) "Fairness compromises Godliness." That is to say, I deserve judgement and punishment for my actions, words and attitudes. What I get from God instead is grace and mercy and sacrifice for my salvation. If Christ got a fair trial he would not have been condemned and crucified.

The "50-50" concept of marriage is popular because it is "fair." It equally divides the responsibility for the relationship between both the husband and the wife. The problem is that statistics are bearing out that it does not work. They say that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result." We're crazy to keep trying to force the "50-50" marriage model when we know it's failing. And it's failing because it does not follow the Christlike model set before us in Scripture. I know the quote, but I have a hard time living it..."Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her..."

What I'm proposing, guys, is the unfair (but Christlike) proposition that we take 100% responsibility for the state of our marriages, expecting nothing in return. That's the "100-0" concept. It leaves no room for blameshifting (otherwise known as the "What about her?" syndrome). How does that make you feel? I'd like to hear back from you on this.

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

P4E.007 When God is in Us

In her recently released book, The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine says that her studies show that women talk almost three times as much as men. The average man says around 7,000 words in a day, while the average woman says 20,000 words. The female psychiatrist says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men. Women's brains devote more brain cells to talking than their male counterparts. Testosterone pares back the areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory in the male brain. "Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," says Dr. Brizendine. " I believe women actually perceive the world differently from men."

That said, I wonder if we men should check our attitudes right now. Did you just think something like "Only three times more?" or "No wonder they're so emotional?" or "I say quality is more important that quantity" or "This proves we'll never understand them!" Do you think like Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady: "Why can't a woman...be more like a man?" Would you characterize your own response to the information you just read as "Christlike?" Neither did I at first.

Let's go down another road. God is not a God of confusion. He would not give us a command that He believed we couldn't keep. He commands us husbands to live with our wives in an understanding way..so that our prayers won't be hindered (I Peter 3:7).

When God created man He said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make for him a help." He knew that the male nature to communicate, emote or remember would be limited so He created a being with a heightened capacity to communicate, emote and remember to "help" us. WHY? Because He values communication, emotions and a good memory!

According to Dr. Brizendine's study, we men start off at a disadvantage in these areas. Shall we point to this disadvantage and blame it as the reason that we struggle in communicating, feeling and remembering? Or shall we use it as motivation to overcome the disadvantage and better ourselves?

Let me point out one thing before you answer. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. He also said that what is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Communication, emotions and a good memory are relational, therefore spiritual, matters. The flesh may be disadvantaged, but when born again of the Spirit we overcome the disadvantages and become better. So maybe we don't better ourselves, but when we ask Him in, God in us makes us better. The corollary is that when God is in us our ability to communicate, our emotional lucidity and our memory should all be heightened. Pray for it.

Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

P4E.006 How I Failed the Sensitivity Test (Again)!

I never want to let you to think that I don't experience troubles in my marriage and life. As I've said, sometimes I write to confess my sins to you.

My wife, Gwen, had some money in a joint checking account. The other morning she came to me trembling and eventually in tears to tell me that she had overdrawn the account by a few hundred dollars. She was obviously distraught over it. Gwen knew that I was planning to, but I had not yet shared with her that in the days preceding I had gotten close to arranging a home equity line of credit with the same bank. The thought came to me and I (without thinking) spoke out loud that the overdrawn account would probably doom our chances of getting the line of credit.

Gwen let me know that I had been very insensitive when I said that. Later she said things like "When you said that you let me know that you really don't have much empathy for how other people are feeling." "I was already hurting and I felt like you poured salt in my wounds." "I felt like you kicked me when I was down." "It was something like
you used to say. It's as if you went back to being like you used to be."

It grieves me to think that with all that I'm learning, I can still cause that much hurt in the love of my life. It isn't how Jesus would have handled that situation, I'm sure. It reminds me how strong my flesh is and how I need to go to Christ for spiritual strength. I'm truly sorry for it and don't want to impact Gwen that way again. Lord, give me strength to be the spiritual leader that you want me to be to my wife and children.

Praying with you and for you, Kim

P4E.005 My Relationship to My Wife is a Mirror of My Relationship With Christ

You might be wondering why I focus on the relationship that we have
with our wife. With help, I've come to believe that this relationship
is critical to my pursuit of Christlikeness. Why? Because Christianity
is, at its root, relational. Ultimately, it's about my individual
relationship to Christ. In preparation for eternity, I need to
practice being like Him so that I'm ready to join with Him for all

Where do I go to get that practice? Scripture many times, Old
Testament and New, calls me to love my neighbor as myself (wife
included). Fair enough. But Scripture further calls me as a husband to
love my "wife like Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for
her." That is a call to Christlikeness! It tells me as a husband that
the medium through which I can pursue Christlikeness is my
relationship with my wife. The standard for evaluating the pursuit is
the manner in which Christ loved the church (He gave Himself up for

What I'm saying is that my relationship to my wife is a mirror of my
relationship with Christ. And vice versa. So, if I view my wife as
"struggle and strife" it is a mirror of my "struggle and strife" with

This gives a new perspective on what God called "help." As Believing
men, we cycle through this sequence:

1. We grow up under our parent's wings learning about God through them (if all goes well).
2. We leave our mother and father and cleave to our wife. Our wife
"helps" us by being a mirror of our relationship to God. Our marriage
becomes the medium through which we practice Christlikeness in
preparation for eternity.
3. We have children and, under our wings, they learn about God through us (if all goes well).
4. We go on to an eternity with God.
5. Our children repeat the cycle.

For most of us who are reading this, we're focusing on stages 2 and 3
of the sequence. God help us focus!

Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness! Kim

P4E.004 Cockney Rhyming

You may have heard of "cockney rhyming." It's a sort of rhyming slang/code in the UK. You replace a word with a phrase that rhymes with the word. Many times there is a relationship between the word and the phrase that further identify them with each other. Here's a couple of examples: For the word 'believe' you might say "Adam and Eve" as in "Would you Adam and Eve it?" For "money" you might say "bees and honey" as in "Can you loan me some bees and honey?"

That said, it's interesting what the cockney rhyming is for the word "wife." There are several as follows: "carving knife," "drum and fife," "Duchess of Fife," "storm and strife," "struggle and strife," "trouble and strife," "war and strife," "worry and strife." Can you relate? It seems that every culture imparts to its men similar attitudes towards wives.

The problem is this: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."(Prov. 14:12) We also have to deal with this: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord" (Isa 55:8) This means that the way we men are naturally inclined to view our wives is not the way God views them. We see "struggle and strife," but He created "help."

By the way, there is another, less used, cockney rhyme for wife. It's "love of my life." I like that one.

Peace, Kim

P4E.003 No Marriage in Heavenly Eternity

+ There will be no marriage in heavenly eternity.
+ The purposes of marriage are to be accomplished here on earth in preparation for eternity.
+ God puts physical circumstances in my life to teach me spiritual lessons.

How much these concepts have helped to change my attitude towards my marriage and towards my help (wife). (For those reading who aren't married, please keep reading, many of these ideas go towards all relationships).

I've spoken to more than one husband recently who has said something like "whenever my wife gets on the subject of (insert painful subject here), I just sort-of tune her out." As we discuss further the husband will indignantly tell me that his wife will start yelling at him and maybe use foul language at him. "That's not very Christian of her, is it?" "As her spiritual leader, I'm not going to tolerate that!" "That's not being the quiet, submissive wife that SCRIPTURE calls her to be!"

The rest of the conversation might go something like this:

K(im): In general, why do you think people yell?
H(usband): Because they're mad!

K: Sometimes, yes. Why else might someone yell or shout?
H: Because the other person can't hear them?

K: Right. Or maybe won't hear them?
H: Ohhhh, you mean like when I said I tune her out when she talks about (insert painful subject here)?

K: Yes. Sometimes people have to yell just to get the other person's attention.
H: Oh, I can hear her, believe me.

K: Okay, but are you paying attention? What do you think God is trying to teach you in this situation? His Word says "All things work together for good..." This is one of those "All things." What's He saying to you?
H: Well...that I need to be a better listener?

K: Right. We need to be open to the possibility that God is trying to speak to us through our wives. Maybe even demanding a response to a painful situation. Giving us an opportunity to respond in a Christlike way...to grow...
H: I never thought of it that way...

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." CS Lewis-The Problem of Pain

Until next time...Blessings, Kim

P4E.002 Cozying up to the World

"It was a beautiful letdown
when I crashed and burned...
I was trying so hard to fit in
until I found out
I don't belong here, I don't belong..."
Jon Foreman/Switchfoot

Despite my conversion experience and numerous Scriptural warnings, I've found myself cozying up to the World and everything in it. I'm confident in and comfortable with what I can touch, taste, smell, hear and especially see. I'm very conscious of my own physical body, its appearance, care and comfort zones.

I have been much less comfortable with or concerned about those things which are unseen. This has meant that I have been uncomfortable with and unconcerned about God, Christ and all things spiritual. Tragically, the consequences are that I have been barren of spiritual fruit and ill-prepared for heavenly eternity.

With every move and decision that I've made to bring more comfort to my physical existence, I've invested in building my "treasures on earth." I have made relatively few moves to build my "treasures in heaven," so my heart (spirit) condition has been poor.

This did not bode well for the part of me that will persist into heavenly eternity: my SPIRIT. So, I have begun to shift my emphasis from the physical world to my spirit and the spirits of others. Have I become an ascetic? No, I love my wife, Gwen's cooking too much for that, but the reality is beginning to sink in:

"I don't belong here, I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong..."

Peace, Kim

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

P4E.001 The End of the World as We Know It

"It's the end of the world as we know it..."
Michael Stipe/R.E.M.

Here's a SHOCK:Virtually nothing of our current reality will exist unchanged in heavenly eternity. The earth will be new. Our bodies will be new and different. Little of what we identify as our "selves" will persist into heaven. Galatians 3:28 makes it clear that no religious identity, no social status nor even GENDER has a place in heaven.

In Matthew 22:30, Jesus teaches that not even the institution of MARRIAGE will exist in heaven. If you're like me you might ask the question, "Why then, were these identifying characteristics and relationships created by God for this present reality?" One good man I know (his initials are K.en N.air) says that it's because their purpose is to be accomplished here on earth as (you guessed it) preparation for eternity. How can it be that these identifying characteristics and even my marriage prepare me for eternity? What purposes are to be fulfilled? If I'm to be stripped of most of what I consider to be "me" what is it that's being prepared for eternity? More to follow....

All the best, Kim

Preparation 4 Eternity.000 Christian Marriage Problems and Answers

For a over a year I have been e-mailing random thoughts to interested Christian men (and some women) that have been triggered by what I'm learning at Life Partners. Life Partners (www.lifepartners.org) is a Christian marriage ministry,based in Phoenix, Arizona and founded by Ken Nair. Its emphasis is on motivating men to become more Christlike and thereby helping them to become more effectual spiritual leaders to their wives and children and others around them.[Here I must good-naturedly acknowledge that I have become an unashamed, unabashed, (albeit unpaid), pitch man for Ken Nair and Life Partners. The first reason is that Ken, through his book, Discovering the Mind of a Woman, and his ministry has completely changed and saved my marriage and my life. The second reason is knowing that Ken would deflect any praise directed towards himself and point it all in the direction of Jesus Christ and His Word.] I write as much to encourage myself as I do to encourage you. I write to confess my own shortcomings, ask for forgiveness and share what I'm learning in the pursuit of Christlikeness. I've been encouraged to start a blog to address topics of interest. One life-changing concept that Ken Nair has impressed on me is that ALL of life is preparation for eternity. In deference to that concept, I've started the blog under the banner Preparation 4 Eternity. I would love to hear back from you. Peace, Kim