Sunday, February 28, 2010

Resurrection riches

We are looking through Acts in church at the moment. This morning's passage was on Acts 4:32-5:11 - how the church share their possessions, and then how Ananias and Sapphira kept back their possessions by lying.

Chris (the preacher) made a point that really struck me, as he was talking about wealth and generosity:
To be rich is to know that you are going to be resurrected.
Is that how we view true wealth? The promise of what is to come?

So, are you really rich?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Uno

This was one of our Christmas presents for the kids this year - and it has been an absolute winner.

I have very fond memories of playing this in the evenings with my family on holidays in the snowfields in the US when we were children. I was keen to create some of the same memories (perhaps without the snowfields at this stage!).

All three kids love it. Mr  6.75-years loves it and picked it up straight away.  Miss 4.75-years got the hang of it within a few days. And even Miss 2.5 can follow the colours and say 'uno' when she has one card left. It's fun for parents (unlike Snap or Go-Fish) and you can have 2 or up to many players, so its truly a fun family game!

If you have kids the same age as mine - give it a try, you just might have fun too!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shepherding a Child's Heart

Shepherding a Child's Heart, Tedd Tripp

I have heard many favourable reviews of this book over the years, so was looking forward to reading it.

Here are the things I liked:
  • The principle that you have to shepherd a child's heart. The heart is from where all things spring, where attitudes, behavour, speech, etc come from. Therefore, we must be seeking to change their hearts and help align them to God's.
  • The insistence that parents are in charge and they need to act like it. God has given parents their job on earth to raise their children and they need to do it well, pro-actively and in line with God's truths.
  • That communication is a key to this shepherding. Communication helps children to understand what they do and help us to understand our children. Communication can include encouragement, instruction, entreaty, rebuke, prayer, etc.

  • That another key is the appeal to the conscience, especially in later years.

All of these things were helpful and I think, correct.


However, my main problem with the book coloured my whole impression of it. Tripp has a very strong emphasis on the use of the 'rod' as discipline (ie. smacking). He claims that God commands the use of the rod (taking verses from Proverbs), therefore as parents we are obeying God if we are including physical punishment in our discipline and even more strongly, he claims that if we do not use the rod as parents we are actually being disobedient.

My concern with this was mainly theological. I am not at all convinced that the sayings in Proverbs are meant to be taken as commands. They are wise sayings about general truths, but they are not commands, nor are they guarantees. Also, how literally does one take this? He has interpreted using the rod as a smack (or several) on a bare bottom. However, could using the rod mean actually hitting a child with something? Why does he interpret it to be a smack? Could the rod be a term to encompass all discipline measures, not just physical ones? (my decision not to study Hebrew at college lets me down again!)

My other concern is practical. I do not think there is a 'one-size' fits all scenario in discipline. I will say that the care he went to outline the procedure one would take in using 'the rod' did have all the checks and balances in place that one would hope for if punishing children physically, ie. never do it angry, always be in control, tell your children why, ensure they understand, etc. However, I just don't think it's that necessary. I am not anti-smacking, but I am not convinced it is generally that effective.


My other two general concerns are:
  • He claims he presents the only God-inspired way to raise children. I am wary of anyone who claims that they alone have managed to interpret God's will for us and his way of doing things, and that virtually every other author on a subject is wrong. It just seems a little over-confident to me.
  • There weren't many practical examples. Yes, there were some, but I found it hard to actually see when & how I would implement a number of his suggestions. I understand you want to teach children the things of God, and show them how their hearts would look, but I still found it hard to figure out how some of those things would weave naturally into conversations. Having said that, some of his suggestions I am using already.

Anyway, if you have read it, I would love to know what you thought!

Going the Distance - Chapter 16

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 16 - Justification by faith - a truth that works!
If I had to rank any one teaching of Scripture as of primary significance for my own nourishment as a person and a pastor, I would choose 'justification by faith alone'. It was Marin Luther who suggested that justification by faith was the article of a standing or falling church. My own view is that it is also the article of a standing or falling pastor. (p244)

In what areas does the doctrine of justification by grace help us as pastors and pastors' wives?

1. Self-esteem - my worth does not come from my job, position or the esteem of others, but rather, my status as a loved child of God.

2. Failures - "my own worth and value does not depend on my performance", I do not have to do a perfect job to be acceptable to God.
We work not in order to gain salvation or acceptance from God, but because we are already accepted in Christ. (p247)
Failure which has resulted from sin must be repented of. However failure due to mistakes, inadequate support, or sinfulness of others need not be a reason for despair. Failure can be seen as forced growth.

3. Relationships - we can accept people for who they are, rather than having 'performance-based' criteria and expectations. When we accept people for who they are and how God has made them, both encouragement and correction can flow from that relationship.

4. Leads to real work - we stick to the real tasks, seeking only the approval of God and his standards of faithfulness, rather than success.

5. Helps me to think straight - as a human 'being' not a human 'doing'. We will be aware of our relationship with God and our value to him, not assessing ourselves in light of others or our own unrealistic expectations.

6. Helps me to love & value the flock more:
Justification by faith will keep me from either idealizing or, more likely, criticizing or resenting the congregation for its imperfections. Far from finding it surprising that churches will have problems, we should expect it as the norm. God loves sinners. (p254)

Some things to think about:
  1. Have you thought about how the doctrine of justification by faith can change your attitude to your ministry?
  2. Do you struggle to accept that faithfulness is more important than 'success'? Or, instead, is it of great comfort to you?
  3. Do you have a realistic view of the people you minister to - that they are also sinners trying to live by grace?

Next Monday: Chapter 17 - Summing up

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some fun photos

For something lighthearted, click over to the girltalkers blog to see some great photos...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 1

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves are Interconnected. How They Are Interrelated.

If you plan to read Calvin, you have to get used to long headings and titles and lots of capitalisation!* But don't let them scare you - let them tell you what he is saying.

Calvin opens his book with this statement:
Nearly all the wisdom we possess... consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. (p35)

He has divided the chapter with three observations:

1. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God;
from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and - what is more - depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. (p36)

2. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self;
it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. (p37)

We actually think we are pretty good, until we compare ourselves with the majesty and holiness of God!

Click over to see Cathy's comments on this chapter relating to self-esteem and it's implications.


3. Man
before God's majesty

Recall what the saints of the bible did when presented with God's majesty - they were awestruck, terrified and speechless (eg. Isaiah, Moses, Samson's parents - Judges 13:22).
we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty. (p39)
And perhaps if we are not aware of our 'lowly state' - we do not fully comprehend God...


Next time - Chapter 2



* Here's a good one - Book 4, chapter 7 - The Origin and Growth of the Roman Papacy Until It Raised Itself to Such a Height that the Freedom of the Church Was Oppressed, and All Restraint Overthrown !!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An encouraging Sunday

This past Sunday at our church we celebrated together some very exciting and encouraging events.

This year our church is launching another 2 church plants, one to the North Eastern suburbs and one to Mt Barker. This Sunday we 'sent' the teams off to begin those ministries.


James, the minister who is leading the North East plant, talked about their plans to share the gospel in the local area.


We commissioned all who were going (about 60 people from our service), they all stood around the church (cinema) and then we laid hands on them & prayed for them all.

It was extremely encouraging and quite moving. We are sad to see so many friends leave us, but it's for a great reason and so we also rejoice that they are going.



Then, we moved on to the Lunar New Year lunch, an event put on by our international ministry team. This was another way to care for internationals who are away from family and friends at this important time in the Asian calendar.



There was even a lion dance!


What a great Sunday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Children's Music

Over the last few months, we have acquired a number of new Christian kids CDs. All have been well-received by the kids and by us, so I share them with you!

Starting with God Unlimited, produced by Emu Music - this is a great CD, it is so much fun to listen to. Admittedly it took a few times to draw me in (it was a bit too rocky for me to start with). I know Colin tends to corner the Australian Christian music scene for children, but Emu Music have produced a real winner here.

The songs are snappy, fun, and good for kids and adults. This will appeal to slightly older children, my 6 year-old loves it, although the 4 & 2 year-olds are also pretty keen on it.

The personal highlight for me is having Rob Smith singing some of the songs, especially his Elvis impersonation on 'Three In One' about the Trinity. For others out there who knew me (& Rob) in the 7pm days at CCSI, it will remind you of the standard Saturday Night houseparty entertainment! Have a listen to the songs at the Emu music site. My kids couldn't understand why I was laughing so much the first time I heard it.


The next CD, also an Emu production, is J is for Jesus. This, while liked by my 6-year old, has real appeal to my 4 & 2 year-olds, with the 2 year-old already learning some of the words and phrases. One of the real drawcards of this CD as far as the kids are concerned, is that it features Karen Pang from Playschool. The songs even have a bit of a Play School feel to them. It's got four vocalists, and there is a nice variety of songs covering the bible alphabet, animals, colours, and all facets of a child's life relating them to God and Jesus. It's been another winner in the car. Listen to samples here.



Finally, the new Colin CD - another memory verse one, called Boom Chicka Boom. As fitting with Colin's style, this is fun, has a wide range of music styles and he puts 30 bible verses to music. I could not believe how quickly the kids (esp the 4 & 6 year-olds) learnt all the songs and therefore all the verses.

Last year, I tried to teach the kids memory verses using cards stuck on the wall - we were doing one a month. This month, they have learnt (or been reminded of) 30 verses just using this CD! And, so have I!


Going the Distance - Chapter 15

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 15 - Finishing the race

In Acts 20:24, Paul stated "I consider my life nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me". Herein lies the model I choose to follow. I want neither to burn out nor rust out. I want to finish the race. (quoting Berkeley, pg 229, emphasis mine)
This quote, which was also in Chapter 1, again appears in Chapter 15 - and it still resonates just as strongly for me. We want to finish well, to be able to say, with the apostle Paul,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)

What then are some of the things that are key to finishing well?
  • we are wise to rest, both the rest of days off and holidays, but also the rest of reflection - time in God's word, prayer, reading, etc. In doing so, we are recognising our dependence on God for all things. One fruit of this is the ability to be unhurried.
  • recognising that our work is unfinished, even though we may complete tasks. Part of this is remembering that the work of ministry is like a relay, many are involved and it involves training others to take over. Ultimately, the work is never completed until the church is gathered around Christ in the new heaven and the new earth.
We are not members of some worldly club or special interest group. We are God's people, drawn by the grace of God to Christ, and sustained by the grace of God until that great Day when Christ and his people will be glorified. This hope will sustain us, and give us the nerve to stand firm. (p239)

And, so:
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)


Some things to think about:
  1. Do you take time to rest and also to reflect in God's word? If not, what is preventing you from doing so?
  2. Do you struggle that the 'work' of ministry is never done? What sustains you?


Next Monday
: Chapter 16 - Justification by faith - a truth that works!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What about Adelaide?

I found this post by a friend, Arthur, very interesting. He is from Adelaide, but currently studying at Ridley in Melbourne and so has had to opportunity to compare the Christian scene in the two cities (and with Sydney).

Being originally from Sydney, we have loved our move to Adelaide - and have found many of the same things he notes about the Adelaide Christian scene. I particularly like his conclusions:

If you don’t live in Adelaide, Adelaide needs you! Doing ministry in the eastern centres is a luxury compared with Adelaide. Adelaide churches desperately need building up. Adelaideans who have never heard about Jesus need to know him. It’s not going to be easy — but Adelaide is a great place to do ministry, filled with wonderful people and unique opportunities for Christian community. Some of our most trusted ministry friends uprooted themselves from interstate to serve Adelaide with their families. They saw the need — will you? And if you can’t make it — will you pray for our city?

If you do live in Adelaide, be excited! It’s hard knowing how to live for Jesus in Adelaide, like anywhere else, but the church in Adelaide is in a unique place! The Adelaide Christian community has a unity you may not find elsewhere in Australia, and because of that, you have something great to offer as an Australian Christian! You are the greatest resource of the church in Adelaide!


Of course, ministry everywhere is a good thing. But, why not consider Adelaide?!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Religion Saves - part 2 of 2

Well, I can't imagine anyone was waiting with bated breath for the second part of this post (first one here), but for completeness I include it!

Also, I will only include minor comments, because it was so long ago that I finished listening to them, I can't remember much!

Talk 6 - Faith & Works - a good one, helpfully explained the difference between Calvinism and Armenianism at the beginning, and then the application was great - just about the gospel.

Talk 7 - Dating - this one was excellent, similar to talk 1. He laid an appropriate framework for Christian dating, both for singles living at home, still under the care of parents (especially Christian parents) and a framework for older singles who have moved out and are more in charge of their own lives. A lot of what he said here resonated and made sense.

Talk 8 - Emerging Church & Talk 9 - Regulative Principle - both interesting, but I think had more relevance to the American Christian scene than the Australian one.

HOWEVER, the real reason I have included this post, is that my monthly email from christianaudio.com tells me that their free download of this month is the book that came from this sermon series - Religion Saves. Driscoll himself is the narrator - which I think would add to its 'ease of listening'! So, if you feel like listening to the book instead of the sermons, that's another option.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Creating an Intimate Marriage

Book Review: Creating an Intimate Marriage, Jim Burns

Subtitled: Rekindle Romance Through Affection, Warmth and Encouragement, Jim Burns has provided a helpful book for couples which is honest, open and full of examples. He deals with the ways to have a marriage of affection, warmth and encouragement, by looking at intimacy, communication, fun & friendship, forgiveness & our attitude.

Each chapter finishes with some questions to ask yourself and some to look at together. This is a helpful book to help look at the whole marriage and how it’s going, which may also help to address some intimacy issues.


Here are a selection of things that I liked or that got me thinking:

1. Marriage takes work. "We must suffer one of two pains in our marriage: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The pain of discipline takes you on the road to a healthy marriage, while the pain of regret takes you to a dead end." (p52)

2. As I mentioned in last week's post on intimacy in marriage, we have been thinking about this aspect of marriage a little recently. I liked this comment "Sex is not about an event; it is about creating a positive, romantic, healthy, sexually intimate environment" (p55) ... "My experience tells me that if a couple is not growing together physically and emotionally, then they are probably growing apart. (p56)

3. Four indicators of when a marriage is starting to die: a) you see your marital problems as severe, b) talking things over seems useless so you try to solve problems on your own, c) you start leading parallel lives and d) loneliness sets in. (quoted from Gottman, p85)

4. He had good advice for better communication - empathy, listening, expressing expectations, etc

5. The chapter of being friends and having fun have us some good ideas.

6. How our attitude is everything - we need to stop complaining (we often speak more rudely and complain more to our spouses than complete strangers), show gratitude, choose fun and optimism, etc

7. Suggestions for growing together spiritually


Another one to add to the recommended reading list for marrieds!


If you would like to read some of the beginning to the book, go here.

Going the Distance - Chapters 13 & 14

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Depending on the structure of your church and denomination, these two chapters will be applied differently. However, the principles in each are sound and worth taking note of to see how they apply in your particular circumstance.

Chapter 13: A word for local church leaders
Local church leaders can be a source of great encouragement or of despair for pastors. (p202)
Brain starts by listing the characteristics church leaders should have: they must be converted, trusting in Christ daily, have a heart to see the lost saved, be in a personal relationship with their saviour, growing in godliness, etc.

Practically, there are a number of ways that local church leaders can greatly strengthen a pastors' ministry and encourage him in the process. These include:
  • attending to the physical aspects of ministry - ministers need adequate pay, housing, study facilities & resources. If these are provided with a willing and generous spirit, the pastor can be greatly encouraged. Reviews of these things can often pick up areas where more attention or resourcing is needed.
  • giving permission to attend to self-care - encouraging the pastor to take his day-off, have family holidays, to attend conferences and training, do exercise, etc all show support for his entire person and well-being.
  • planning together and establishing priorities for both pastors and churches
  • praying for and with their pastors
  • dealing with perfectionist expectations of both the pastors and the congregation
  • participation. I think this is something that is becoming more and more valued. As 'regular' church members now often only attend 1 in 2 weeks (if that), the commitment to regular weekly attendance speaks volumes to the pastor.

Chapter 14 - A word for denominational leaders
Local church ministry is surely the most strategic and difficult ministry around. It is a noble task. But given the multiple responsibilities of a typical one-pastor church, the nobility of the task can be lost, clouded over by the multiplicity of tasks and expectations. The denominational leader is uniquely placed to affirm pastors by consistently affirming their work. (p219)

How can denominational leaders encourage and affirm their pastors?
  • recognise the primary of the local church. The local church is where people are fed, converted, and sent out to the community. Denominational structures do not do this and denomination leaders would benefit from remembering it.
  • realise that pastors can be torn between meeting demands or requirements of the denomination and those of the congregation or local church leadership
  • to affirm them - remember them, make a phone call, send a card, remember their name at denominational events, spend time with them in their church setting, give them time.
  • ensure they are adequately resourced & remunerated
  • give particular attention to pastors of small congregations (remembering that 75% of churches have less than 80 members)
  • provide opportunities for development, especially feeding them on God's word, rather than new programmes or structures
  • allow fair hearing for disputes

Again, chapters like these (and the previous one) can lead to great thanks for the situation you are in or alternatively, discouragement. As we are unlikely to be the ones who change a poor situation, I suspect we need to consider our role of encouraging our husbands both in their ministry and their own godliness, and watching our own godliness as well.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for those who have conflict with church or denominational leaders? And how as wives we can be supportive of our husbands in such situations?


Next week: Chapter 15 - Finishing the race

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Echo in the Bone

Some readers may recall my great fondness for author Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander Series, which I have written about here and here.

One of the highlights of my holiday reading was the 7th in the series, An Echo in the Bone. I saved it to the end, after reading all of the Millennium Trilogy, sort of like the special dessert that you know is coming, but you don't want to start it, because then you will finish it. Am I the only one who thinks this way about books? I was the same when the 5th of the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel (brief review here) was released in 2002, I almost stopped reading it when there were 50 pages left because I did not want it to end!

The story of the lives of Jamie and Claire continues in this book in 18th C America and Scotland. At the same time, a parallel story is occurring in modern day Scotland. I won't give too much away, because if you want to read a great series - go and get the 1st book Outlander, and start there. I have recently been re-listening to all her podcasts, found via her website. They include interesting information about the way she writes, which I find fascinating because her brain works so differently to mine. But I also really like the way she explains what she set out to do with the series. She wanted to write about an entire marriage, not just a relationship at a point. So far the series has covered close to 30 years, and that's part of what I love about it - the main characters are still in love, still married, growing older and experiencing and joys and frustrations of life together.

A warning though - this one ends at a point that is quite unfinished - and now I have to wait 2-3 years for #8 (which is likely to be the last one). So, if you are interested in starting this series, pace yourself, so you don't have as long to wait as I do!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marriage and intimacy - a question

If you are married, you may have read yesterday's post reviewing a number of books on intimacy in marriage.

I have a question - for those who are married and also for those who often talk to couples about their these things, either in marriage preparation or after marriage.

Do you think couples should be given more information about intimacy or less prior to the wedding and in the first few years?

My thoughts, random as they are, are as follows:

On the side of more information:
  • the more informed a couple are about how their and their spouse's body is likely to work, the less surprises in store
  • if couples are very inexperienced physically, the realities of sex can be a little overwhelming, and not always in a positive way
  • when problems arise, books are a great resource and detailed books which give suggestions as well as assurances that all is OK can be of great help and comfort, especially if the couple are unwilling to talk with others (which is sad but not surprising)
On the side of less information:
  • it's the surprises and the discoveries about each other that can make the first years of intimacy so much fun
  • the less information, the less you expect yourself or your spouse to fit in with an 'expected pattern'
  • it can be more fun to discover fun new things about each other on your own. For example, Sheet Music, which I reviewed yesterday, has some great suggestions for adding some fun and excitement into the bedroom when things may be a little stale. From our experience I would say we discovered almost all of these things ourselves with just a little thought, creativity and willingness over the last 10 years. It was nice to discover things ourselves, rather than rely on a book for ideas.

I ask this question because I sometimes wonder what we should do with pre-marriage couples:
  • should we give them a book with more information (eg. Sheet Music), but strongly suggest they only read certain chapters prior to marriage and save the rest for later (and would you have been able to do that?)
  • or, do we give them a book with a bit with more basic information (eg. One Flesh), saving the more detailed book recommendations for a bit later down the track, which could risk the first couple of months or year being less enjoyable than it could be.
In the end, we keep telling couples that intimacy in marriage needs attention, and when time and energy is put in (which really, can be a fun project!), it just keeps getting better.

So, what do you think?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Marriage and intimacy

Please note: this post has beeen updated and a newer version can be found here.

We are finding that because we talk to a lot of couples, we are often talking with them about the intimate parts of their marriage. We wanted to read a bit more on the topic and prepare a list to recommend. So, I was the one who stood in the 'relationships' (codeword: sex) section in Koorong browsing what was on offer, and who has since been doing some serious speed reading!

After reading a few, here are the ones we now recommend (obviously this list is only recommended reading for marrieds, or those who are engaged and close to the wedding day!):


One Flesh: a practical guide to honeymoon sex and beyond, Amelia & Greg Clarke

Actually, this one we have already been recommending for some time. This Christian book is written by a couple in Sydney, and the wife is a doctor specialising in sexual health. It’s a helpful introductory book to sex and some of the issues surrounding it. This has previously been our recommended ‘first book to read’ for couples who are marrying and thinking about their sexual relationship. It’s good to read prior to marriage (although only in the month or so before the wedding) and again a few months later.




Sheet Music
, Dr Kevin Leman


This very good book is now our recommended ‘first book to read’. It is Christian, honest, fun and practical. It is as good as A Celebration of Sex (see below), but the emphasis is slightly more on how sex works, especially in the beginning and some good ideas for continuing in sexual intimacy and dealing with common issues which couples face. This would be a great book to read after marriage (and parts of it prior to marriage). Especially worth reading if a couple wants a few ideas on how to improve the intimate side of things. This is a great book which will give help throughout marriage.




A Celebration of Sex, Dr Douglas E. Rosenau

Subtitled: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy, this is a detailed and helpful book written by a Christian sex therapist. He leads couples through many areas encouraging them to grow in: playfulness, love, knowledge, honesty, forgiveness, creative romance and discipline. With the basic premise that: an intimate marriage + mature lovers = a fulfilling sex life, he works through all topics with a Christian mind set.

The book covers numerous topics including the basic aspects of many parts of a sexual marriage; massage; mutual touch; common problems or struggles for men and women; sex through pregnancy, children, in the older years and with illness or disability; and the impact of medications. This book could certainly become the reference for the entirety of an intimate marriage.


The Way to Love your Wife, Clifford & Joyce Penner

Subtitled: Creating Greater Love and Passion in the Bedroom, this book written for men talks about how to make sex meaningful for their wife; how to build desire and intimacy and how to let the wife ‘lead’ in the bedroom. It has some practical chapters on what the various issues could be which create problems for intimacy, as well as suggestions for making sex more fun and enjoyable for both. There are a couple of helpful chapters which deal with the risk of affairs and how to avoid them, and also the risks posed by the internet and pornography, and sexual addiction. Again, this is written from a Christian perspective, although not as overtly as A Celebration of Sex (above).


Creating an Intimate Marriage, Jim Burns

Subtitled: Rekindle Romance Through Affection, Warmth and Encouragement, Jim Burns has provided a helpful book for couples which is honest, open and full of examples. He deals with the ways to have a marriage of affection, warmth and encouragement, by looking at intimacy, communication, fun & friendship, forgiveness & our attitude. Each chapter finishes with some questions to ask yourself and some to look at together. This is a helpful one to look at the whole marriage and how it’s going, which may also help to address some intimacy issues. I am going to review this book in a little more detail next week.


365 Nights. Charla Muller with Betsy Thorpe
This book, written as a diary, gives a different insight into the life of one married couple. It the story of how one woman offered her husband (as his 40th birthday present) sex every day for a year, and what resulted from the offer. It is a thought-provoking and insightful look at marriage, parenting, the role of women and a number of other topics. It issues a challenge (especially to women) not to settle for or allow their marriages to become 'un-intimate'. This is a funny and honest book that is enjoyable to read. I have reviewed it previously here.




So, if you are married - get reading! There will definitely be positive benefits for your marriage.


And please, come back tomorrow because I want to ask readers a question about this topic...

Going the Distance - Chapter 12


This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 12 - A word for local church members

This is a helpful chapter and I have skipped over the first part, but I will include his list of 10 tips for church members who want to help their clergy:
  1. Keep your minister focused on gospel work (rather than building projects, counselling, administration, etc)
  2. Keep your minister devoted - encourage him in his bible reading and prayer
  3. Keep your minister resourced
  4. Help your minister to stay empowered - respect his authority
  5. Help your minster to be a visionary
  6. Keep your minister from isolation - be a friend, or allow others to be
  7. Help your minister to be physically fit
  8. Keep your minister financially secure
  9. Keep your minister a happy 'family man' - respect the family, their privacy, their day off etc.
  10. Keep your minister confident
I imagine there are some of this reading this chapter wishing they could photocopy it and hand it to a few church members for their personal reading. It could be hard for ministers (& their wives) reading this, wondering if they will ever have such support. Others may realise again how grateful they are for the people of God they are surrounded by.


Some things to think about:

  1. Have you thanked those congregation members who are supportive and encouraging of your ministry?
  2. Do you feel resentment towards congregation members about the way they have treated you or your husband? Do you need to repent?
  3. How can you, as a wife, support your husband when they feel unsupported by their congregation?
  4. How can we, as ministry wives also show support/appreciation/thanks for others on the ministry team?

Next week: Chapters 13 and14