Tag Archives: relationships

You Never Marry the Right Person: How our culture misunderstands compatibility

Originally posted on RelevantMagazine.com

By Timothy Keller
January 5, 2012

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:

“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great … beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”… She had dirty elbows.”

In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.

You never marry the right person

The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “

The Christian answer to this is…

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The Not-So-Modern Yearning for Male Friendship

Originally posted at Bring the Books

“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Sam. 1:26-27).

It isn’t unusual in our own day and age to see people lamenting the loss of the masculine friendship. In a lot of ways it isn’t hard to see why: not only does our society seem to be exchanging real-world, face-to-face relationships for the online, impersonal, Facebook-style relationship, but increasingly there is pressure on men especially to become distant and independent from their peers. In more recent trends, biographers of famous figures search the journals of their subjects combing them over for homoerotic overtones or hints of impropriety in their masculine relationships. Modern men increasingly fear having their sexuality challenged in this way or being misunderstood by others. Increasingly, the path that many men (even godly upstanding men) choose is the path of least resistance: isolation, solitude, independence, and loneliness.

Yet whenever I talk with other men about this problem, I sense that they do yearn for close friendships – that they don’t want to live in isolation. I have spoken with numerous men who, upon reading David’s lament for Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1, resonate deeply with David’s loss. David has not only lost the King that he loved and respected in spite of his horrendous failings, but he lost his best friend in all the world. As someone who moved several states to attend Seminary I have discovered that even in a place where so many around me have much in common, true friendships are hard to come by, and don’t just grow on trees. To lose a true friend is no small thing.

As many of us read of David’s loss we may feel an even deeper sorrow. We have experienced a loss of our own, in our day and age: in a sense we have lost the ability to know David’s loss. What David is speaking of may be so foreign to us that we are only able to experience David’s friendship and sorrow vicariously. We perhaps think, “I may never have such a friend, and I may never know such a loss, and yet it brings me comfort to think upon David himself baring his soul for those around him to hear.” We should be encouraged by David’s example that we should not choose the easy path of isolation in our personal relationships, but to do the hard work of spending time with other men and opening ourselves to the kind of godly, masculine relationship we see modeled for us here by David and Jonathan. Those who do know what it is to have a godly and intimate friendship with another man should thank God that he experiences such a gift. Whatever our experience might be, there is a comfort in knowing that such an intimacy and closeness is possible between men who are friends and fellow sojourners in this difficult journey called life.

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Fearful of Being Single?

Fearful of Being Single from CCEF on Vimeo.

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February 9, 2015 · 5:00 pm

Are You Fighting The New Greed?

by Christine Hoover

Reposted from Together for the Gospel

Kyle and I sat down at the restaurant, away from the children, yet I still couldn’t relax and enjoy myself. I had been consistently distracted for weeks. Slumped at the table, I stared at him and tried to explain how I was feeling.

“I feel overrun with thoughts and emotions, many of them sad and discontented. My brain feels like it’s being pulled in a million different directions. What is going on with me?”

After listening to my winding trail of thoughts for many minutes, Kyle replied, “You check e-mail a lot. You’re on your phone a lot.”

My purse sat on the booth seat beside me, and inside my phone’s blinking green light beckoned even as he said those words. He’s right, I thought, immediately recalling a conversation with a group of women about our children and technology. What was it one of them had said? “When people are on their phones, they’re not present in their surroundings. They’re going someplace else.”

That description explained it all—the discontentedness, the obsessive comparison with other women, the uncertainty and its resulting pursuit of online evidence that I’m successful and loved, the desire for what I don’t have and the wondering if I ever will, the pride. I’d only been checking my phone in every down moment, but it became apparent that these seemingly inconsequential acts of swiping and scrolling weren’t so simple and inconsequential after all.

Technology Run Amok

The next morning I opened my Bible, gave this issue to the Lord, and waited. I knew he was going to talk to me about it, and he did.

“God, help me,” I prayed. “I’ve allowed technology to distract me beyond measure. I’m causing myself great pain.”

It seemed as if God were saying, “Doesn’t this remind you of something you read recently, something about piercing yourself through with many sorrows? What does it say again?”

This is what I’d read in 1 Timothy 6:9–10:

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Again, he seemed to say, “What you’re doing is being greedy. Technology and social media is birthing a new greed, and you’ve fallen into the snare. Your desire for accolades, invitations, relationships with those I haven’t given you, followers, and whatever contentment you think you’ll gain is actually covetousness and greed, and all you’re accomplishing is piercing yourself through with many sorrows. Read further.”

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Tim. 6:17–19)

Going somewhere else in your mind takes away time and energy that could be given to the good works right in front of you.

Slicing Your Mind into a Million Pieces

He helped me understand by applying the Word to me: “Your greediness means you’re trusting in uncertain riches and not in me. It also slices your mind in a million pieces, taking you out of your present life and causing stress. This stress gives the illusion that you don’t have time to give to others; that you’re busy in ways that you’re not; that you don’t have enough when you have all you need, and that you must be stingy with yourself. Going somewhere else in your mind takes away time and energy that could be given to the good works right in front of you. You are rich—in love, in time, in energy, in gifts—but you act as if you’re not. Keep reading.”

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. . . . Now godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Tim. 6:11–12, 6)

The Lord kept instructing me: “This is what matters. This is true gain, not an uptick in Twitter followers or an important e-mail coming through or seeing how you stack up against others. All of what’s important with regard to contentment happens in the present. Pursue godliness and pursue contentment in me. This is great gain.”

I knew that God was absolutely right, and I felt so silly because I step so willingly into the snare of greed. But God reminded me that it isn’t silly—it’s a fight.

The New Greed

The new greed. That phrase kept ringing in my ears as I was seeking God about how to fight the good fight of faith. The new greed. We are after so many things, and it’s playing out on our phones and iPads and computers as much as it ever has in our other material possessions and our bank accounts.

Why are we—why am I—checking our phones so often, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? What exactly are we looking for? Why are we leaving the present that God has given us so richly to enjoy to go somewhere else in our mind, a place often called Comparison or Discontent?

God has given me the present to richly enjoy. I have enough and, with God’s help, will not be ensnared by subtle greed and covetousness.


Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on Christine Hoover’s blog Grace Covers Me.

Christine Hoover is the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart (Moody, 2013). She is a church planting wife and the mom of three boys. She also encourages ministry-minded women to live and lead from grace on her blog, Grace Covers Me.

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When to Overlook A Fault: 12 Questions

“When you have been sinned against you have two options: to either lovingly cover or lovingly confront.” (Jim Newcomer)

But how do we know the right option?

Yes, some offenses require repentance before granting forgiveness, but there are other offenses that must be overlooked if we are to survive in any relationship (1 Peter 4:8; Prov. 10:12; 12:16; 19:11). But when to do what?

Here are some questions to ask to help us decide if we are to “cover” or “overlook” an offense.

1. What is my tendency? If I tend to default to confrontation, have I pushed myself harder to cover? If my tendency is to cover, have I sufficiently considered the need to confront?

2. Am I just trying to avoid confrontation? If my motive is primarily to avoid unwanted confrontation, then covering may simply be the easy option, not the right one.

3. Am I just trying to avoid addressing problems on my side? I may be motivated to cover rather than confront, if confronting would mean addressing faults on my side too.

4. How important is this? If the offense is small enough, we may overlook?

5. How clear is this? If my grievance is more about personal preferences and cultural norms than clear moral right and wrong, then overlooking is the right choice.

6. Does the person show a pattern of this kind of behavior? If it’s just a one-off and out-of-character, then it is easier to cover than if this has become a regular habit.

7. Will overlooking the fault hurt or damage the other person? Am I doing the person more harm than good by failing to help them address moral failings.

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When to Overlook A Fault: 12 Questions

David Murray over at HeadHeartHand Blog wrote a helpful article addressing when Christians should overlook a faults and when they should confront them.

“When you have been sinned against you have two options: to either lovingly cover or lovingly confront.” (Jim Newcomer)

But how do we know the right option?

Yes, some offenses require repentance before granting forgiveness, but there are other offenses that must be overlooked if we are to survive in any relationship (1 Peter 4:8; Prov. 10:12; 12:16; 19:11). But when to do what?

Here are some questions to ask to help us decide if we are to “cover” or “overlook” an offense.

1. What is my tendency? If I tend to default to confrontation, have I pushed myself harder to cover? If my tendency is to cover, have I sufficiently considered the need to confront?

2. Am I just trying to avoid confrontation? If my motive is primarily to avoid unwanted confrontation, then covering may simply be the easy option, not the right one.

3. Am I just trying to avoid addressing problems on my side? I may be motivated to cover rather than confront, if confronting would mean addressing faults on my side too.

4. How important is this? If the offense is small enough, we may overlook?

5. How clear is this? If my grievance is more about personal preferences and cultural norms than clear moral right and wrong, then overlooking is the right choice.

6. Does the person show a pattern of this kind of behavior? If it’s just a one-off and out-of-character, then it is easier to cover than if this has become a regular habit.

7. Will overlooking the fault hurt or damage the other person? Am I doing the person more harm than good by failing to help them address moral failings.

8. Have other people been hurt or damaged? If it’s just me, then covering is more likely to be an option than if others have also been offended.

9. Does this have the potential to spread? If the offending attitude, words, or actions, might make others do similar things, then confronting rather than covering is the answer.

10. What else is going on in this person’s world? Are there stress factors which may mitigate the fault? A related question is “What’s going on in my world?” Am I under stress and overreacting to minor issues, or, alternatively, avoiding issues because I’m too stressed?

11. Are there bigger faults to confront first? Sometimes tackling a small issue can result in a person refusing to hear us on far bigger issues.

12. Was it intentional? If the person committed the offense deliberatly and with full knowledge of doing wrong, then confronting is required, not covering.

You’ll find great teaching on forgiveness in the following list of my favorite books on the subject, the first two being outstanding.

Top Books On Forgiveness

Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns

From Forgiven To Forgiving by Jay Adams

The Freedom And Power of Forgiveness by John Macarthur

Macarthur disagrees with Adams slightly in the area of conditional forgiveness.

Help, I Can’t Forgive! By Jim Newcomer

This is a brief but comprehensive booklet.

Revolutionary Forgiveness by Eric E Wright

I disagree with Wright’s view of forgiving the unrepentant, but still much helpful material in the book. Multiple anecdotes help to “earth” the problem in everyday life.

Embodying Forgiveness.

The most academic and demanding of the books in the list.

The New Freedom of Forgiveness by David Ausburger. Read through the filter of the first two books in this list.

Top Online Articles on Forgiveness

Christians Should be Forgiving People by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Defining & Forgiveness| the Cripplegate

5 Things Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean

Forgiveness | Don’t Stop Believing

Should Christians Always Forgive? Conditional Forgiveness or Unconditional? | A Brick in the Valley

Is Forgiveness Always Right and Required? – Justin Taylor

The Sorry State of the Apology | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Four Lies That Keep Us from Jesus by Joe Thorn – Spiritual Growth

5 Problems with Unconditional Forgiveness | A Brick in the Valley

Quotes On Conditional Forgiveness

Forgive me « Don’t Stop Believing

The Heart of Forgiveness | Challies Dot Com

What To Do When You Sin Against Someone – Mark D. Roberts

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