Monday, March 11, 2013

Easter reading

Easter is in 3 weeks and as it falls early this year it may have crept up on you by surprise!  For our family, that means it's time to consider how we remember Christ's death and celebrate his resurrection.

There is a lot of great reading material and resources available for adults, children and families these days. 

The following are some of my favourites:

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross has been my choice for the last 2 years.  Edited by Nancy Guthrie, this selection of 25 excerpts from known preachers and theologians on different aspects of the Easter story has something to offer and challenge in each reading.  I have really enjoyed this one.

Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die, by John Piper is also a great way to focus you on Jesus over Easter.  If you are like me you may struggle to articulate 10 reasons why Jesus died, let alone 50!  However each one made me see afresh another part of Jesus' death, why it was essential and why I can be so thankful for his sacrifice.  A more detailed review can be found here.

We will start our own family Easter readings next Monday.  It is 14-day set of readings from Matthew's gospel, each day has a bible reading, a few questions and a prayer. In addition each day matches to a colourful egg which is opened to reveal a special verse for the day and an item to remind us of the bible reading. See previous posts here and here if you would like more details.  If you would like a copy, you can download a booklet to print from here.

Your kids could also do Easter Unscrambled, a resource by the Good Book Company. It's 3 weeks of daily bible reading notes for children (XTB) and also material for families (Table Talk) to do together. We have used this material before and it's always very good. The XTB part would be good for competent (or almost competent) readers who still like activity books, and the Table Talk would be suitable for all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, Gary Chapman

One of the things my husband and I love about our ministry is helping couples to prepare for marriage. We are in an age where it’s all about the big wedding day, yet little thought goes into preparing both partners for life together (or being two sinful people living side by side).

As part of that, I like to keep up to date with books not only for those who are already married but those who are preparing for marriage.

There are many of these books around and a wander through any Christian bookstore will get you a bag of them. This offering by Gary Chapman (author of the well-known The Five Love Languages, etc) is a good addition to the collection.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married deals with all those misconceptions that we enter into at the beginning of a marriage, which if we are not prepared for or willing to talk about can quickly pop the ‘in love bubble’ and require some serious attention.

With chapters dealing with the following, I’m sure some will ring bells for the marrieds among us who have had to deal with these things:
  • That being ‘in love’ is not enough to build a marriage
  • That ‘like mother, like daughter’ and ‘like father, like son’ is not a myth
  • That toilets are not self-cleaning
  • That apologising is a sign of strength
  • The forgiveness is not a feeling
  • That finances must be discussed & managed
  • That mutual sexual fulfilment is not automatic
  • That you are marrying into a family
  • That different levels of faith /matters of belief impact you deeply
  • That personality profoundly influences behaviour.

Every chapter was short, anecdotal and dealt with a very recognisable and common issue. He presented the issues and gave couples ways to talk things through together.

Two things I got out of it from a marriage preparation perspective:

1. We have never suggested couples talk about their roles/jobs in marriage in our preparation time. We talk about Christian roles in marriage and what that might look like. But that is completely different from who will do the finances, wash the car, clean the house, do the washing, cooking, etc. A conversation about who thinks who will do what (at least at the beginning) is a practical and worthwhile conversation to have before you return from your honeymoon and both of you realise neither of you ever planned on cleaning the bathroom!

2. I did not fully agree with his chapter on how personality influences behaviour. These were often comparisons between night owl/early riser, introvert/extrovert, clean/slob, etc. All accurate and helpful points with the exception of the suggestion that you cannot change your/the other person’s personality but you both have to learn to live with it. I completely disagree. You can change these tendencies, and marriage is a continual compromise where we each learn to give a little as we live together and love and serve the other. But, all in all, a minor point.

This is a useful resource for those who are engaged or in a serious relationship and want to think through some of the issues of being together more seriously. The two people I know in these situations who recommended it to me agree!