Relationships

Say 'No' to Domestic Violence

As a pastor and church leader, I have a confession to make: The church has not handled the matter of domestic violence well. Let me be more specific: 1. We have not done a good job of helping to prevent domestic violence, of confronting it when it does occur nor of helping those involved - both the perpetrator and victim. 2. There has been too much ignorance about the prevalence of domestic violence. Many church leaders have failed to believe that it can happen, even in Christian homes. 3. There has been much erroneous teaching about ‘submission’, ‘authority’, and ’obedience’... Read more →


Dealing with Grief at Christmas Time

Christmas is a joyful time for most people. But for some it can be a difficult time, especially for those who have lost a loved one. Christmas reminds them of what or who is gone. The pain of that grief can be quite unbearable. I had my first major encounter with grief when I lost my mother suddenly back in 1990. I had to navigate through all the ordinary stages of grief and it wasn't easy. The first Christmas after this was a painful time. Mum wasn't there any more and she wasn't coming back. Let's be sensitive this year... Read more →


Two Simple Questions to Improve Your Marriage

In most marriages, one person is wired a little more relationally than the other. Often it is the wife ... but not always. If so, husbands, find a quiet time and place and ask your wife these two simple questions: 1. "How would you rate the current state/health of our marriage on a scale of 1-10?" 10 being you should start your own marriage seminar, 1 being you desperately need to attend a marriage seminar. No negative numbers, please. Note, that it will probably be lower than your score. Don't start an argument about that! 2. Then ask her, "What... Read more →


When Families Break Down

Divorce and Remarriage In Matthew 19:1-9, we have a record of the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus with a question about divorce, a hotly debated topic of his day. Everyone today has or knows a friend or family member who has been divorced and possibly remarried, or maybe we have even gone through that experience ourselves. Stories of family breakdown are usually filled with pain and heartache – for spouses and for children, if they are involved. Here in Australia 43% of first marriages end in divorce and the rates go up with second and subsequent marriages. One in three... Read more →


Re-Thinking Family

Let’s talk about the family. There have been many popular TV families over the years – Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Friends, The Simpsons and now Modern Family. Some people say that television shapes the culture while others say it simply reflects the culture. A few would even say it is 5 years behind the culture. What we do know is that today’s families are changing and facing tremendous pressure both from within and without. Complex questions are emerging about such matters as blended families, same-sex attraction, as well as divorce and... Read more →


Mother's Day

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. I realise that this can be a difficult day for some people. Maybe your mother passed away recently, or you don’t have a good relationship with your mum, or maybe you always wanted to become a mum and it hasn’t happened. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you. It is, however, a good time to honour all of the mums. They are amazing people. Both Nicole and I lost our mothers a few years back now (Joyce Conner and Renata or 'Oma' Meyer). That's a good reminder to all of us to love... Read more →


Weeping with those Who Weep: Learning to Grieve

Almost a year ago, Matthew Warren, the son of well-known American pastors Rick and Kay Warren commited suicide. It was a sad day for everyone and of course, the Warrens being public figures, everyone had an opinion about the situation. Today, Kay Warren made the following post on her Facebook page and I think it is well worth reading, hearing and taking to heart. Wise words ... From Kay Warren As the one-year anniversary of Matthew's death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to "move on." The soft,... Read more →


The 18th Camel

A little wisdom goes a long way. When you give you will always get it back. A father left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. The Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third). The youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the 17 camels. As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with... Read more →


Are you listening? Is it time to put the mobile phone down?

We live in an age where attention deficit affects all of us. We are bombarded with information and messages, each trying to gain our interest. In the process, we tend to skim from item to item, from matter to matter, from person to person ... never really slowing down enough to go deep ... to really listen and connect. I visited a cafe recently where there was a sign that said: "No, we do not have wi-fi. Why not just sit and talk with your friends!" Watch this video. How did it affect you? I was personally challenged. Which scene... Read more →


The Blessings of Aging

In a culture that idolises youth, it's easy to lose the value and joy of aging. Yet, wisdom says: "The glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old (Proverbs 20:29)." Having turned 50 years of age not long ago, I know what it's like to start to feel your own frailty. Those double digit birthdays can definitely take a significant mental and emotional toll on us. Thankfully, we are all aging at the same rate. The Huffington Post recently posted the following article by Sister Joan Chittister. There's some good wisdom here for us.... Read more →


Quiet: The Power of Introverts

There has been an interesting amount of discussion recently around the differences between extrovert and introvert personalities. Susan Cain's best-selling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking kick-started the topic quite considerably back in 2009. This was given further momentum in 2012 when her TED talk on "The Power of Introverts" was released. Have a listen. It is a real conversation starter. Could it be that we have replaced a character ethic for a personality ethic, especially in leadership selection? Adam McHugh explores this and more in his book Introverts in the Church: Finding... Read more →


Modern Family (Pt.3) - Singleness

Today, let’s talk about being single. Singles are people who have never married (because they chose not to marry or have not found a partner) or those who have been married but are single again because of the death of a spouse or through divorce. This includes single parents. American theologian Stanley Hauerwas argues that Christianity was the very first religion to hold up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Nearly all ancient religions and cultures made an absolute value of the family and of bearing children, which was seen as the only way to significance and leaving... Read more →


Stages of Life (Late Adulthood)

The pool of those living beyond 100 – the centenarians of society - is increasing in leaps and bounds (70,000 in USA in 2007 increasing to 834,000 in 2050; over 4,252 in Australia as of June, 2011, up from 203 just 40 years ago). Demographers are now starting to the number of ‘super-centenarians’ – people over the age of 110 (300-450 currently)! So life can be prolonged, but eventually we will all die … unless Jesus returns in our lifetime. Eventually the life clock must run down and the human body must die. People at this stage of life need... Read more →


Stages of Life (Mature Adulthood)

In medieval times the Catholic worldview of the human life span was often depicted as a circle. In the centre was the image of Christ. Around this divine hub, were illustrations of the different ages of life from infancy to the grave. Each age, like a spoke, was equidistant from the hub. This suggested that every point in human life existed in the same sacred relationship to the divine. During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, this symbolism underwent a profound and lasting change. Instead of a circle, the image of an ascending and descending staircase became prevalent. The... Read more →


Stages of Life (Midlife)

Like the sun sweeping through the sky, midlife (ages 35-50) is like noon-time, dividing the first and second halves of life. At the stroke of noon, the descent begins. Note that what we consider midlife, was for most of history in fact the end of life for most people. As recently as 1900, the life span of the average adult in the Western world was only 47. We have been blessed to have extra decades added to the average life span in our time. Midlife is a season that can be like moving through muddy waters. Some people experience what... Read more →


Stages of Life (Early Adulthood)

Early Adulthood (20-35 years of age) is a time of leaving the familiar world of family, parents, community, school and entering the big unknown world. It is a break with the past and a move into future. Of course, the very term "adult" is very hard to define. When do you become an adult? When you can drive, vote, drink or when you are married? It is a fuzzy line and for many the transition is a slow process. Some young adults are staying home longer. After all, why leave when there is free rent, cooking, TV and washing? Young... Read more →


Stages of Life (Adolescence)

Adolescence (13-19 years of age) refers to the teenage years - the hazardous passage from childhood to adulthood. One way to describe this journey is like ‘rapids’ along a river. Things may get rough for a while but if you hang on and don't panic, everything will eventually smooth out again. Physically, this is a time of huge change. Puberty brings pimples, sweat, hair in unusual places, new odors, and crazy hormones. Emotions include quickly shifting moods, trying to find an identity, and strong passionate feelings. Mentally, it's a time of growth, taking in the abstract, logic, and an ability... Read more →


Stages of Life (Childhood)

As we begin the new year, it is a good thing to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12) - to reflect on and give consideration to our life. Life is short and wise people live from God's perspective, understanding that what we do in time echoes into eternity. Students of human development would be aware of the concept of seeing life as a journey through successive stages of life, depending on our age (see The Human Odyssesy: Navigating the Twleve Stages of Life as an example). Let’s briefly overview a few of them. The first stage of life is Childhood. Childhood... Read more →


Some Final Thoughts on Relationships

Over the last week or so, we have shared some thoughts and reflections on a variety of issues, including singleness, dating, marriage, parenting, family conflict, sexuality, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Hopefully, this has been helpful, even though we haven't been able to address every possible question. I pray that these thoughts will be part of an ongoing conversation - with the Scriptures, with our world, and within our faith communities. Each one of us find ourselves in a current situation or circumstance. We can't change the past, though we can seek to repair broken relationships and find a place of... Read more →