A New Kind of Reconciliation with a Former Spouse

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Almost every divorced Christian I know cannot imagine reconciling with their former spouse.  So much hurt, so many bitter words and fights. “Clare, why would I take that risk and jump back into that snake pit again?”

Not only are there those risks, but in most cases one or both of the spouses have remarried.  “So, Clare even if I wanted to reconcile with my ex it is impossible.”

Surprisingly, it isn’t.  At least, not the kind of reconciliation I’m encouraging.

So what follows is the advice I gave to a divorced man recently that you may want to pass on to a divorced friend, or anyone at odds with another believer.

Webster defines reconcile this way; “to cause people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.

The Bible says this, But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:27,28

 

Reconciling with your “ex”

While you may be legally divorced from your former spouse, if he/she is a believer they are still your spiritual brother and sister.  And it is the will of God that we live reconciled to one another and in peace.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” -2Corinthians 13:11

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”  -Galatians 5:22

Peace is not only one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but we’re to use all of our spiritual gifts to bring about peace.

Continuing my conversation with this man, “You’re not only expected to make an effort to live at peace with your ‘ex,’ it’s to your advantage to do so;” Why?

 

First, it’s a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit to your children.

If you have children, for the rest of your life, you and your ex will have to negotiate holidays, weddings, birthdays, graduation and special events, even those of your grandchildren.  What a wonderful testimony to them of how Christians ought to live, even with people who disagree, if both you and your ex could attend and be kind and courteous to one another, so no innocent parties are made to feel uncomfortable.
 

Second, you will have peace of mind and your prayers will not be hindered. This may be hard to hear; but unless you’ve had a biblical divorce, biblically speaking, your ex is still your spouse, in God’s eyes.  And therefore when you are bitter or angry with your spouse it’s tougher to pray with a free conscience. (1 Peter 3:7)
 

Third, Jesus commands us to attempt to make peace even if you are the innocent party!

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,” -Matthew 5:23.  Jesus isn’t saying if you have something against them.  He’s talking about them having hard feelings about you.  Perhaps your spouse still harbors hard feelings toward you.  You have an obligation to try to make peace.
 

To harbor hateful thoughts is a sin.

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” -Matthew 5:22
 

My final thought is this: you have no control over whether your ex will accept your offer of reconciliation and peace.  But you do have the responsibility as a believer to make a sincere effort.

Making the first moves

  1. Begin by praying for a receptive spirit in your former spouse, or another person whom you are at odds.
  2. Consider calling you ex and offering to meet with a godly friend you both trust, who is willing to help you navigate this reconciliation. (If you or your ex have remarried, it would be very unwise to meet without a third person present.)
  3. Attempt to move beyond open hostility and discuss continuing tensions and how to eliminate or minimize them.
  4. If you come to a mutual understanding about how you will handle certain issues, put it in writing. It will give both of you something to refer to in the future.
  5. Covenant to pray for one another. I’ve yet to meet two “enemies” who committed to pray faithfully for “the best” for the other person, who remained enemies.

Finally

If you’ve sent this blog to someone, ask to meet with them.  Most people wounded by divorce are hesitant to take these steps without a faithful, praying friend to encourage them to do so.  Be that kind of friend.

 

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He is All I Want!

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The story is told about a young girl who was attempting to quote David’s 23 Psalm for the first time in front of her classmates. She took a deep breath and nervously begins the Psalm with, “The Lord is my Shepherd. He is all I want.” Many might think that she misquoted it. I think she got it just right. Is Christ all that we want, or do we possess divided loyalties?

American Christians have become more of a subculture rather than counterculture — a called-out one. Many are stuck in the same paradigm as the world. The subculture reflects the value system or worldview of the culture. which keeps them from becoming agents of change. A subculture is defined by the culture itself. It seems over the centuries that the only time the Church is willing to rise up is when the culture threatens its very existence.

I guess the only way for the church to be revived, to rise up, is that our very existence be threatened. We are awakened by a good dose of persecution. The Church has become a well-trained institution and the reality is that we have become very provident functioning without the manifest presence of God.

Christ is calling us to become a reflection of Him and to become aliens and strangers in this world. We are to be in the world but not of it. We are called to be revolutionaries, change agents. We were created in Christ to stand out, reflect him; not blend in and mirror the world. I think most convinced Christians would take a bullet for Christ but live for him in secret. He did the dying; he is asking us to do the denying, take up our cross, our revolutionary cause and completely follow him. (Matt. 16:24-26)

In Mark 10:17-22, Christ was asked by a convinced young man what he must to do to inherit eternal life. Christ simply asked him if he was attempting to keep all the commandments. He answered with the affirmative. He was very religious. In our day we might answer, “I go to church most Sundays; I read my Bible on occasion; I pray when I need to; I give if I have enough; I serve on work days.” How would you answer?

Scripture goes on to read, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. ‘There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ he told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” His riches, his possessions, were his competing loyalties! The little girl got it right; let Christ be all we want because He is all we need.

Reflect

What is God asking of you that is keeping you from completely following Christ?

 

Dr. Dan Erickson

Chief Servant Leader  |  People Matter Ministries

www.peoplematterministries.com

Five Strategies for Raising Creative Kids

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Dear Moms and Dads:

Every field of endeavor needs a creative spark. And your brilliant kids can provide it! How can you encourage that spark?  Consider . . .

  1. When your four year old proudly presents you with a drawing of what looks like a porcupine playing piano and eating pizza on the porch, invite them up on to your lap and talk about it. Don’t ask, “What is it?”  Instead, ooohand aaah.  Then ask them about the decisions they made in the creative process. “How did you choose these two colors?” “These lines are straight and these are curvy. Why did you choose that?” Partner with them in the discovery of their own creative abilities and help them see how they have control over the creative choices they make. You can even suggest that their efforts have led you to think new thoughts.

 

  1. Anytime your kid expresses an interest in a new artistic endeavor, make a financial investment. But start cheap. Buy a beginner guitar, basic set of watercolors, or single lined journal. Sign them up for an inexpensive park district ballet class or children’s theater class. Let them know that if they commit to the quest, pursue it enthusiastically, fill the journal with deep thoughts, or really use the paints, you’ll invest even more. My dad was a master at this. For Christmas, Papa bought my son, Alec, a cheap harmonica and said, “Play me a song and I’ll buy you the best one in the store.” Later that afternoon, Alec surprised us all by playing a snappy rendition of  “Jingle Bells.”  Before the New Year, Papa took his grandson out for a pretty nice Hohner Harmonica.  Alec used that same instrument on stage more than a decade later.

 

  1. Occasionally, your son or daughter may invite you to comment on something they have created. Take it in. Don’t comment too quickly. Listen to the entire song. Examine the fabric. Look at the sculpture from all sides.  Ask for time to read the entire article, script, novel or short story.  Then come back in a reasonable amount of time and use the 80/20 rule.  After delivering four encouraging comments, you have earned the right to make one gentle suggestion. Especially if you are critiquing the work of a young artist, err on the side of grace.

 

  1. Talk about art. Define art. In 1998, two human artists founded The Elephant Art & Conservation Project, which features and sells “artwork” painted by elephants. The most talented of the pachyderms will hold a brush in their trunk and create abstract works of art. The humans place the empty canvases in front of the elephants that have been trained in some cases to create colorful and eye-pleasing designs including self portraits.  Ask your child, “Is this art?”

 

  1. With your kids, open your Bible to Genesis 1:27. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” There’s much packed in to those words. The passage describes God as a Creator and describes humans made in the image of God. Which means that we must also have the gift to create. All of us. Including you and each of your children. 

 

Dads and Moms, you are in a unique position to help your kids uncover their creative gifts. And harvest those gifts to build God’s Kingdom and give glory back to Him.

Blessings,

/jay

 

As a family advocate, life pundit, and humorist, Jay Payleitner has sold some half-million books including 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, Quick Tips for Busy Families, and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List?   He speaks nationwide on parenting, marriage, creativity, and finding your life purpose.  Jay and his high school sweetheart, Rita, live in the Chicago area where they raised five great kids, loved on ten foster babies, and are cherishing grandparenthood.  You can track him down at www.jaypayleitner.com.