• What I wished I knew before I got married: We have to get into good routines early and fight to keep them

    The word routine can be a very ho-hum type word. It smacks of predictability and sameness. But all of us have routines and we can either fall into good routines that bring life or bad routines that suck our will to live and destroy us. This is the same for marriage.

    What routines do you have with your spouse?

    Kate and I have tried to put a few routines together. These routines are keeping our marriage strong now and we think we will reap huge dividends in the future. Here are a few of those routines:

    Date night: We have a weekly date night. Date night for us means no friends, no family, no one except us. It is time for us to chat and reconnect and have some time where it is just about us. As of recently we have a baby girl named Emma and so we have a few people who have offered to mind Emma. This gracious act has been an amazing way of serving us as it allows us to have a date night. With date night, it is not about the money that is spent, it is the time that is spent. We have a budget of $50 a week which we set aside because we think that fifty dollars is money very well spent because it allows us to get out of the house and spend time together on our marriage. Do you plan each week to have a date night with your spouse?

    We go to bed at the same time: this gives us time to pray and to chat at the end of the day. We share three things that we are thankful for and we commit the next day to God. This helps us connect at the end of a busy day.

    We take a day off: rest is important and so we take days off where it is just us regularly. Some of those days off we don’t go and see friends, we don’t go out to a party or a wedding, we just stay at home and rest. This also gives us more time to connect.

    We try to have one night at home together a week: Our weeks are very busy and so it is easy to put on something every night and meet up with people every night but we rail against this by scheduling in our diaries one night each week where we are just at home by ourselves. This is our time to relax and reconnect.

    Everyone has routines. Are your routines helping or hurting your marriage?

     

     

     

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  • What I wished I knew before I got married: You will find other people attractive

    Being attracted to people is part of being human. It is easy to find a beautiful person or a funny person or an intelligent person attractive. It is also quite easy to want to spend more time with that said person or desire to enter into a relationship with that person. But what if that relationship is more than friendship and what if you are married while you want a relationship with that other person?

    I never thought I would be married and find other people attractive. Thankfully there hasn’t been anyone yet who I have been tempted to run off with, but older wiser people have told me that there will be at least one person at some point that will capture my eye, mind and possibly my heart. But there will also be many people that I will find myself being attracted to even though I love my wife. What do you do when you are attracted to someone you are not married to?

    Here is what I do when I am faced with the very rare situation where I find someone other than my wife desirable.

    1. I remind myself of the gospel and my marriage vows. I remind myself that just like God has been faithful to me in the gospel, I have made a covenant to be faithful to Kate and therefore the gospel and our marriage vows remind me who I am called to be.
    2. I remind myself of all the things I love about Kate. This is a very easy thing to do as there are so many things I can think of that I love about my beautiful, intelligent, godly, fun wife. After I have recalled the many things that I love about Kate, I pray thanking God for each one of them and I also ask for divine assistance to help me constantly see the many great qualities Kate has.
    3. I tell myself that the picture I have of this other person is distorted. When we are attracted to people we are generally only thinking of their good points like the way they look, their humour, their sporting ability, etc. We never really focus on or even remember their faults. This gives a distorted picture and so I need to tell myself what I am really attracted to is not a human with good points and bad points but a fantasy, and reality will be a lot less desirable. I also pray that God would give me a real picture of the person and not a fake one.
    4. I analyse what is happening in my life. It is not surprising that when I am down or feeling sorry for myself or that I am not as content as I should be that attraction to women other than my wife is more likely to happen. With that in mind I make sure when attraction to other women does come I analyse my situation and I then make myself understand the link between my circumstance and the attraction.
    5. I then confess my sin to a brother in Christ. I am blessed with brothers in Christ who will hold me accountable and who will remind me of how great Kate is and also how this other person will be nowhere near as good of a fit for me as Kate is.

    Every time I have gone through this process, I have found myself loving and appreciating Kate more and more and I have found my attraction to the other person to go away. I never thought I would be married and be attracted to other people but this process has helped me overcome it on the very rare occasions that it happens.

    Did you ever think you would be attracted to anyone other than your spouse?

     

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  • What I wish I knew before I got married part 2: Your job is to fall in love with who they become

    People change. This is just a fact. A person enters a new job and the pressures of that job may change them; a person enters into a new relationship and that changes them. We, as people, are in a constant state of flux. This is the way God has made us.

    So we should expect that if we get married, the person we marry will change because they are human. Your spouse will be changed by the fact that they marry you, your spouse will change if they change jobs, your spouse will change if and when you have children.

    But here is the issue. So many people tell us that the secret to a happy marriage is to keep falling in love with the person we married. But the person we married might be a very different person to the person we are married to five years after our wedding.

    So what are we to do?

    Our job is not to keep falling in love with the person we married but to keep falling in love with who they become. That is, if they put on a heap of weight and don’t look like the thin person you married, you are called to love them. If they develop a mental illness and their personality changes, you are called to love them. If they lose their job and don’t have the drive they once had, you are called to love them. If they lose their faith and walk away from Jesus, you are called to love them.

    The model for this is God and his dealings with Israel. God loved Israel no matter who she was, no matter what she did. We are called to love in the same way.

    How do you do this? Kate and I have only been married for two years but there are a few things we do to make sure we keep falling in love with the person the other becomes.

    1. We have a weekly date night. Sometimes it is just a movie or a cheap dinner but we always have a weekly date night. This helps us unwind, catch up, reconnect and keep falling more and more in love with each other.
    2. We share about our day and pray at the end of each night. Kate seems to remember all the things she wanted to tell me right when we go to bed. This can be annoying when I just want to sleep but it has actually done wonders for our marriage. At the end of every night we make time to share about what God did today in our lives and share three great things about the day. These three great things can be little things like “I had an encouraging conversation with Fred today” or big like “Jemima who is a non-Christian agreed to read through a gospel with me today”. After sharing three things that were good about today we then pray. This ends the day on a high note.
    3. We work hard at saying positive things to each other about each other. This helps us remind ourselves about what we love in the other person but it also encourages the other person.

    My prayer is that I would be more in love with Kate in five, ten, twenty years time than I am now, no matter the person she becomes.

    Because my job is to keep falling in love with who she becomes.

     

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  • What I wish I knew before I got married: You will always marry the wrong person!

    “You will always marry the wrong person” – Stanley Hauerwas

    When it comes to marriage, one of the most destructive myths that many people believe is the idea of “the one”. I have written about it before but it bears repeating that the idea of finding “the one” who is perfect for me in every way and will always make me feel special is a myth that is extremely destructive. What do we need to counter this myth with?

    We need to remember that we are sinful and so is the person we marry.

    I was asked in the first few months of marriage how married life was. I sarcastically quipped, “It is going great! Kate likes to cry and I seem to be able to make that happen!” The first few months of marriage were hard for me as I kept coming up against how sinful I was and how much my sin hurt my beautiful wife. I am sure if Kate had any notions of her marrying “the one” they were dashed in the first few weeks of marriage!

    Kate and I have a great marriage but we both do things that bug each other, we both communicate in ways where the other one doesn’t get what we mean, we have different likes and dislikes and different personalities. All these things can, and sometimes do, bring tension into the relationship and it is easy to think, ‘If I was with that other person I wouldn’t have these issues.’ That could be true but if I was with that other person we would have a bunch of other issues.

    Kate is the “wrong person” for me and I am the “wrong person” for her because neither of us are perfect for each other. But no one else is perfect for us either!  Realising that we are “wrong” for each other helps us not look to the other for contentment and identity but find our contentment and identity in Jesus. It also means that we work doubly hard on our marriage because we both realise that we need to, and that Satan wants to take our differences that are small and make them insurmountable. So we work hard. The result is that we are in love and that we talk openly about our issues and we ask for forgiveness a lot and we forgive readily. I think that because Kate and I realised very early on about our sinfulness and what that brings to our marriage it has helped us craft a stronger marriage than if we held onto the notion of the other having to be “the one”.

    The great thing about marrying the “wrong person” is that God will use that person to sanctify you and mould you so that you will be more like Jesus. It will also cause you to work on being a more loving person because sometimes you have to love when you don’t feel like it.

    I love that I have married the “wrong person”. If I knew on my wedding day what I know now, I would have still said ‘I do’ and I would have still said that I will be with Kate ‘for better, for worser!’[1]

    I love you Kate and am so thankful that you are my wife! I am the most blessed man in the world!

     


    [1] This is not a typo. We memorized our vows and I stuffed them up. I literally said “For better, For worser; For richer, for poorer!”

     

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  • The Chronological Arrogance of our Time

    We all like things that are new, new clothes, new fashion, new gadgets and especially new ideas. No one today wants to be called regressive because one of our times greatest ambitions is to be progressive. This lust after the new idea or the wanting to be progressive leads many in our culture to disdain things and ideas that came from our forefathers.  Many of us say that “We know now…” implying that they didn’t know then what we know now. It is this chronological arrogance that C.S Lewis rails against in Surprised by Joy:

    The uncritical assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find out why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also ‘a period,’ and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them

    I think we need to hear that our culture, just like any other, has blind spots to the extent that the very things that we hold to be absolutely true just might be the things that are hindering us from becoming the people we want to be. For example, take the idea that seems common today that life is about pursuing our freedom and happiness and with it correlative idea that freedom is being able to do whatever I want and therefore if I am doing whatever I want I will be truly happy.

    But do these ideas work? Are we truly happy now that we are pursuing happiness as all costs? Are we truly free now that we are trying to break free from every hindrance? It seems that we aren’t. Oliver James in his brilliant book Affluenza shows that we have never been more depressed and unhappy in the west despite having more than we need and usually having the very things that we thought would bring us happiness.

    What CS Lewis is asking us to do is challenge our assumptions, he would have us challenge our assumption that life is about pursuing our freedom and happiness and he would ask us if there is not so much more to life than that?

    But maybe the first assumption of our time that we need to challenge is the one which says we have somehow come to a place in 2012 where we are more advanced and knowledgeable than any other civilization and our western ideals and ideas are the pinnacle of human thought.

    C.S Lewis would say it is high time to challenge this chronological arrogance.

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  • Starving pastors can’t feed their sheep

    Last year was a dark year for me. My father passed away from cancer, the culture at my church was toxic and to top it all off I was going through a very dry time spiritually. I wasn’t making an effort to read my bible and pray. I wasn’t speaking with people who encourage me.

    I was dry.

    Now dry times happen to all Christians but it seems like so many of the stats I read say that pastors feel spiritually dry more of the time than they feel spiritually vibrant. Therefore, it is no surprise that a lot of pastors don’t spend quality time caring for their own souls. This is where I was at for a significant time last year and my church took a hit. My preaching lacked power and depth and was largely ineffective. Sure God did move but I could discern that my preaching didn’t have the power it should have.

    I realised this year that I was starving. I hadn’t been feeding on God’s word and when I did read it I read it either to tick a box saying I had done it or I was reading it to prepare for something. The thing is starving pastors can’t feed their sheep. As pastors we are to be people who watch our life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:16). Carson says about this verse says that there should be a discernible growth in life and doctrine because of our feeding and meditating on the word. Whenever I think about that I am always challenged.

    I want to feed my sheep. I want to be able to preach with passion and vitality. Therefore I need to be feeding on God’s word in a way where I am satisfied in it.

    Are you a starving pastor?

    When was the last time you had a satisfying time in God’s word?

    What steps do you need to take so you are refreshed by Gods word?

     

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  • Do you want to do an internship at Resolved?

    Last year I was challenged by Mark Dever to work hard at training the next generation of leaders of the church. At Resolved we are already doing this with our Catalyst future leadership program. But we want to step it up to the next level and put on at least two Interns under the MTS program for 2013-2014. If you see yourself as a potential leader of the church (especially if you see yourself as a potential church planter) please apply.

    What we are offering:

    • Three hours of weekly training time with me
    • Many and varied opportunities to learn, grow and impact peoples lives
    • You will learn how to prepare sermons/ do pastoral care/lead people/ etc.
    • You will have consistent and detailed feedback about everything you do
    • You will get to see the inner workings of a young thriving church
    • To help you become the best leader/pastor/preacher you can be

    What you will need to be:

    • A Christian
    • Someone who takes Jesus seriously but doesn’t take themselves seriously
    • Someone who wants to be challenged to be a better leader/pastor/preacher/person
    • Someone who loves people
    • Someone who is hungry to learn
    • Someone with a sense of humour
    • Someone who is prepared to start a ministry from scratch
    • Someone who is prepared (with help from Resolved and our networks) to raise your support

    If this describes you email me at hans@resolved.org.au and I will email back your application and arrange a time to meet!

     

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  • Would you like your pastor on Facebook?

    I love the internet; it has brought us so many good things. It has brought preachers that ten years ago we have never heard of into our homes and onto our iPods. The internet has brought us much more information in blogs, YouTube videos and podcasts. But today’s media has also brought something that should be odorous to Christians. Today’s media has brought us the “Celebrity Pastor”. Now that last statement needs to be qualified. There has always been a celebrity pastors (e.g. Spurgeon, Calvin, Luther, Wesley) but we have never seen this many celebrity pastors.

    These men who have great God given gifts are now considered the standard of what a pastor should be.  In some eyes Pastors are meant to be as insightful as Piper, as passionate as Chandler and as funny as Driscoll.

    But isn’t this unfair? God has made Piper, Driscoll, Chandler etc to be brilliant men of God with extraordinary gifts for which we should praise God.

    But what about your pastor? Do you see him diligently slaving away preparing those sermons he preaches? Do you see him working hard at counselling those people in your church? Do you see him praying for every member of the youth group? Do you see him take funeral after funeral? No usually the person in the pew doesn’t see all this.

    Your pastor works harder than you might realise and if the stats are true he is more discouraged than you can ever imagine. How do you go at encouraging him? Do you actually listen to his sermons instead of rating them? Do you ever go to church expecting that God is going to speak through him or do you just sit back waiting for him to entertain you? Do you thank him ever for the job he is doing? Do you ever send him an email letting him know how you are positively impacted by his ministry?

    We are so quick to ‘like’ a celebrity pastor on Facebook but would you like your own pastor on Facebook?

    By the way this is not a cheap ploy for people at Resolved to give me encouraged. I am very blessed and encouraged by the people at Resolved. I wish every pastor could have the experience I do in pastoring you guys!

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  • What if I’m not excited about my church’s vision?

    My church, Resolved, unveiled its vision the weekend before last and it was received very well. Our vision for 2012 is to grow to 80 people coming every week at Resolved, to see 20 people converted and grow from 3 to 6 community groups.

    But I have had a few people say that they want to be excited about this vision and yet they can’t be for some reason. Here is some advice if you find yourself in that position:

    1. Check your heart

    One of the things that can stop us from buying into a vision is our hearts. Sometimes we have unresolved tension between us and the leader(s) of our church. Maybe there is a lack of forgiveness or something else. Maybe there is pride, maybe you think you can do it better than the guy up the front. So first thing to do is check your heart then pray that God would change your heart if needs be and then seek out resolutions for the tension you feel. That being said, I don’t think this is an issue with anyone who is finding it hard to buy into the vision of Resolved.

    2.Inquire about the vision

    Maybe you have significant unresolved questions about the vision. Maybe it is a new vision or a different direction that your church is being taken. These times can be very hard and there could be confusion. If this is you I would suggest sitting down with your pastor or an elder and asking about vision. See if you can get your questions answered and see if you can see the heart behind the vision.

    3. Realise where you are in life makes it impossible to be excited about most things

    I don’t have depression or anything like it but I do know that depression and other mental illnesses makes it hard for some of us to be excited about most things so it would be only natural for those of us who suffer under these oppressive conditions to find it very hard to be excited about a vision no matter how good it is. I am encouraged when a person with a mental illness will say “I see the vision, I see how good it is and I want to be excited” because this person has probably already bought into the vision in a significant way. Because anyone can feel hyped about a vision. It is when the hype goes and the vision remains is when we see who really bought into the vision. So if you are suffering from a mental illness and yet you want to emotionally buy into the vision of your church and yet you can’t it may be the case that you have already bought into the vision in a far deeper way that you first realise!

    What do you think?

    Am I missing something here?

     

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  • I am so excited about what God is doing at Resolved!

    I am so pumped to be the pastor of Resolved!

    I Love the people!

    I love our vibe!

    I love our vision!

    This past weekend we Unleashed our new mission and our Vision for 2012.

    Our New Mission is:

    To impact Sydney with the love of Jesus for God’s glory.

    We are not a church which will go quietly into the night, no we are a church that wants to leave a mark. We will only leave a mark if we share the love of Jesus which we do primarily by preaching the gospel! But when the history books are written we hope that Resolved is not mentioned but that Jesus is the one who we hope is written about!

    For this year we have set the following Goals. We want:

    80 People coming to Resolved every week

    20 People to come to know Jesus this year

    6 Community groups

    All these are huge targets but I have been so encouraged by what people have been saying and doing in response to these huge goals! I have already seen people bring their friends to church, I have seen other plan out when they will bring particular friends to church based on which sermon series we will be doing. I have heard people say that the vision is the kick in the pants they needed!

    I love my church!

    Please pray that many people will come to know Jesus at Resolved this year!

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