Friday, May 16, 2008

Irreconcilable Differences?

"Irreconcilable differences" is the primary reason given for divorce (with "incompatibility" perhaps a close second). Given the curse that divorce is and brings to marriages, children, families and society in general (you may dispute this if you desire), why is the church in the mess that it's in in this area? When divorce rates for "bible-believing Christians" mirror those of the culture at large, we are clearly approaching the status of salt that has lost its saltiness and which is now no longer good for anything. So two questions: what might it take to get our own house in order? (Feel free to define "house" however you'd like.) And assuming we are graced to move towards that goal (and even while we are moving towards it), how can we minister redemptively to people whose views of human relationships are increasingly divorced from God's good intentions?

52 comments:

steve H said...

We must live covenantally. What does that mean? A good starting point is that, on the basis of who we are in relationship in Christ (where we sit-Eph 1-3), we must walk out in the power of the Spirit the reality of Eph 4-6:9, standing against every opposing thought and spirit(Eph 6:10f). We should live this way with our wives and families and we should call our brothers and sisters to this walk by our example and words.

Because we love people and want them to find life, we should clearly hold up our King and his standard by living and proclaiming his word -- trusting the word to work. It will bring conviction! Those being saved will be attracted by the word. Those who will not believe may be enraged by it. But we must trust the proclaimed word to work. (The gospel is the power of God unto salvation...)

We should lovingly and gently walk with those who respond positively to the good news. We should humbly and freely confess our own shortcomings as well as testify to the mercy and grace we have received from our King. We can invite them to walk with us as we seek to grow together in this walk that is "worthy of the call."

smokin joe said...

very well said, Steve, and eloquently expressed.

I think I would add that it is important to have consistent operating principles at every level ... how we can treat the church as a CEO-led type organization or a religious association in which people come and go at will and not expect the same mentality to bleed over into marriage? Or to use another analogy, if we adopt a "seek-targeted" philosophy of ministry that tends to treat church attenders as spiritual consumers looking for the best spiritual product ... and are willing to draw them away competitively from the church up the street, how can that not result in transitory marital consumerism as well?

For me, this is a powerful argument for structuring the "local church" as an intimate, covenantal family" ...

As I share this as a critique of the large, contemporary western church, I want to hasten to add that Steve, and Brian, and others such as Kevin D. and Michael Cook are doing a very good job of keeping the church organized around the covenantal family paradigm and probably have experienced divorce rates significantly lower than the average American church.

I will add a qualifier that from the perspective of “the work” that if we are to reach people who are already damaged and often shacked up or divorced (or gay) we will need to be willing to allow intimate covenantal communities or families be as diverse as natural families tend to be. If a family of faith emerges through the work of the Spirit with the chain smoking, vampire loving, “f” word using WoW group that meets on Tuesdays, they will never look like Steve or Brian’s families of faith… but they will have the kingdom DNA if they commit to follow Jesus and commit to seriously study and implement his words.

John M. said...

Steve and Joseph: Ditto and ditto. I agree. Can't say it any better.

We have to help people go against the strong cultural current that we swim in daily.

When we do premarriage mentoring we need to bring the couple to the place of "boarding up the exits". Too many, go into marriage with a back door option.

We need to help young couples understand that this is a "'til death do us part" commitment -- that they are entering a covenant with each other and with God, that should never be broken (unless extreme unthinkable circumstances arise).

Even the adultery clause only allows for divorce, it doesn't require it. If there is repentance and the offended spouse is willing to forgive and extend another chance, then the covenant can be restored.

We all know couples who have re-spoken their vows to one another after this kind of circumstance, and who have continued in their marriage while seeking the restoration that only repentance, forgiveness and God's healing grace can give.

Are we down to "us four" again, or are some of you still reading, who want to comment?

smokin joe said...

well ... I am glad we cleared that up!

chris hyatt said...

I absolutely love the way Steve phrased the following ...

"trusting the word to work. It will bring conviction! Those being saved will be attracted by the word."

I think some fundamentalists believe its their job to "defend" God and His ways against the cultural tide. God really is big enough to take care of Himself. Of course we are called to be salt and light, but understanding what that is would prevent a lot of actions in the "name" of God. (i.e. shooting abortion drs, picketing gay pride marches, etc) All to often when the fundamentalist exhales hellfire and brimstone, he's really trying to ease his own self-condemnation, cope with his own fears, or legalize the manner in which followers of Christ are to live to make it a nice, manageable package.

But God's Word is big enough to change people if we are faithful to live it and love others.

chris hyatt said...

And furthermore, God's word is big enough to change people, EVEN WHEN WE DON'T live it OR love others. His Word brings life and is settled forever.

Brian Emmet said...

Hmmm...no irreconcilable differences among us on this subject?

As Ben Stein famously said in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,"

"Anyone? Anyone?"

smokin joe said...

I don't know about differences, but I was fascinated by your comment in the lead off post: we are clearly approaching the status of salt that has lost its saltiness and which is now no longer good for anything.

I might be wrong, but I have the impression that this is the kind of statement that you would take issue with if it came from me or John. So, I was kind of surprised at our "reconcilable agreement" ... because i agree with you or a number of indicators and not just because of the divorce rate.

In the past, when we have made similar assertions, you have come with something from Chesterton about how the church always bounces back....

John M. said...

Joseph, you're going to get us going again! Stirring the pot...

Brian, do you feel that your "lost savor" quote only refers to the divorce statistics in the Church or...?

In the past you have expressed concerns that the "emerging" church might be too eager to assimilate with the culture.

For me it's the opposite. I see the traditional church(especially the evangelical church) being seduced by the culture: political power, imperial philosophy of imposing their positions through legislation, materialism, espousing many politically, culturally correct positions -- with the exception of abortion and "gay marriage". Being caught up with defensiveness, shallow doctrine, one-dimensional discipleship, neglecting: justice for the poor, liberating the oppressed, the alien and stranger, being blind to preserving God's creation...

For me the "emerging" church (not a specific movement or group, but the imagining of what God might be doing and might yet do with the emerging generations and how they are church) holds forth hope that the status quo might once again be confronted and shaken by the Church.

Perhaps Jesus will once again be recognized as radical and extreme as the Kingdom he represented and proclaimed, and told us to live in and pray for. Perhaps once again his people will push out to the margins and live as the exiles that they are.

Wow Joseph. You really pushed my button. I am tempted to try to add balance, but I'm just going to let it stand, except for on thing -- I am not directing this toward any one on this blog -- especially not you Brian, since I mentioned your name at the beginning. It is directed toward mainstream evangelicalism, and I'm painting with broad brush strokes.

smokin joe said...

sorry John, I was not trying to push your buttons ... just trying to ask about an apparent incongruity ...

By-the-way, back to the divorce issues and marriage issue, no one has really responded to my point that if we want a low divorce rate should design churches around a spiritual family/covenant community paradigm with some level of intentional discipleship and mentoring for young couples ... I'm guessing that Steve is in agreement with that point, and probably Brian.

In my opinion, this is a good angle of analysis for answering the question of how we do church.

I feel that most of the covenant churches I know have done very well in this regard ... the only major criticism of covenant churches I have is that they tend not to be missionally effective.

However, in the “Nee/Scoggins” paradigm of the local church (generally ‘simple’ as in a small spiritual family where everyone participates, regardless of the building or lack of it), it is not the local church’s job to be highly missional but rather the apostolic company in the work.

The local believers in the local church are expected to love their neighbors, be salt and light through their good works, and have a ‘give an account for our faith’ to those who ask.

The exception in our circles was when a guy tried to mix and match covenantal and family values with corporate mega-church thinking, such as seeker or purpose-driven stuff in order to grow a big church … that was me in the 1990s in Miami. If you notice, most of the big covenant churches have shrunk down to ‘family’ congregational size … 60 to 80 or under, because that is consistent with our ‘relational’ values.

I’m guessing that the divorce rates among people who have stayed in covenant churches and walked the walk, have been much, much lower than the national evangelical average. Where we have failed in the missional area is NOT in not having powerful evangelistic churches but rather in not deploying evangelistic/apostolic types into the secular world as part of the ‘work’ rather than keeping them busy in church or sending them to overseas missions.

No thoughts? That is about the congruity between the church paradigm and the consequences in the family and marriage?

Brian Emmet said...

Well, hoist on my own petard, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, etc...

On the most superficial level, I was meely trying to stir our pot a bit--I had anticipated a spirited discussion right out of the blocks, and when that didn't seem to be happening, I said, "Hmm, maybe we don't have all that many differences on this particular subject."

On a more substantive level, I accept John and Joseph's criticism that I don' always react consistently, i.e., I "defend" some "turf" differently than other turf.

I also agree that there is an important connection between church structure and the issues under discussion here (divorce and remarriage, sexual ethics). I certainly don't think that divorce rates are the only spot at which mainstream evangelicalism is in danger of losing its savor; that was simply the topic currently under discussion. I agree with John that there's a rather long list of areas where this may be true.

Back to the topic at hand: what can we do to strengthen and support good marriages among those who are already believers? How can we communicate (broadly defined, not limited to verbal) with our confused and hurting nieghbors (confused and hurting about what relationships are, how they work, what is necessary to sustain them, etc.)

smokin joe said...

We had several disappointing divorces back in the 1990s in our bilingual church … that was a major reason for me taking a fresh look at the content and methodology of discipleship. There were several cases where I could look back and realize by being honest with myself that I knew there was a problem coming, but I had not wanted to deal with it because it would distract me from growing a big church. People became resources for me in their giftings, and caring for their souls and their marriages became a secondary issue – a necessary evil. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed in myself for straying from my original convictions about discipleship, community and pastoral care.

When we started our young couples' house church, I set out to do something different from the get-go. We began with an almost exclusive focus on relationships in a small, family-type setting where everyone could participate and contribute. We stayed away from ‘teaching’ as monologue and focused on Socratic discussions to draw people out. We also tried to create a ‘safe’ atmosphere where everyone could be honest about their struggles and sins.

And here is the important part where we deviated from other church plantings I had done: We started out with a guided discussion that my son-in-law facilitated on the concept of covenant in the Old Testament. 2 or 3 months after that, we launched into another 3 months of discussion of the “one another” passages in scripture.

From there, rather than creating a structure where there was a ‘pastoral-leader’ overseeing the rest of the group, I gathered the young men into a ‘team’ format where they were all meeting twice a month and sharing their souls with one another. Rather than emphasize vertical accountability, we tried to instill horizontal accountability … 'one-another' style.

We have already had a couple of shaky moments where a couple was in trouble, and the other couples rallied around them to strengthen them and help hold them accountable to resolving their issues. We also try to spot problems in advance and get them early to a counselor if professional help seems to be needed (and it has been).

Of course, even with this approach, if we get enough people involved, eventually there will be a divorce. However, if we can cut way down the percentages, that will be a victory.

The group is far from perfect, and oddly enough, considering my personal passion, they are not very missional. Like any another tightly knit group with a high sense of community, they tend to turn inward. Nevertheless, it was the first time that I laid the concepts of covenant, one anothering, transparent fellowship and community into the foundation of a new group. I’ll let you know if five years if it is working.

I have not gotten that far yet with the Tuesday night WoW singles group. We are still in the gathering stage. Nevertheless, if we ever get to what Scoggin’s calls the “covenanting” stage, I will repeat the same sequences of topics and concepts.

This is why I feel so strongly about using a simple family/community model of church and why I would rather have a bunch of small churches than one big one. Because of the casualties of the 1990s for which I blamed myself -- my task-oriented, corporate, purpose-driven, church growth philosophy of ministry that priveledged growth over internal integrity. I said to myself, ‘never again.’

John M. said...

Joseph, no problem about pushing my button. I agree that the type of church structure you are describing will provide the support and accountability that will strengthen marriages and discourage divorce.

I always get a little jealous when I come to Miami and get to touch the life of the community there. It is unique in the sense that all your children are part of the community and that most of the young couples have a history together that precedes their marriages.

But that fact doesn't preclude the reality that the way the community functions and is structured provides a healthy environment for strong marriages. I think the female to female and male to male mentoring is a strong factor, as is the group gatherings of men and women and the couples' times togehter. All of that woven into the natural family of life and fun together makes a strong safety net.

I think the lack of accountability and the lack of covenant family relationships in most churches is a large factor in the break-down of marriages in the Church at large.

Families and couples in the average church have no more support and accountability than those who are outside the church.

When a marriage is stressed to the breaking point, the pastor and leaders of the church are usually the last to know. Many times couples feel that they have no one to go to, or they have no natural trust bridges with those who could help, so they don't ask for help.

Consequently, the pastor or leadership team is usually only able to do damage control or help pick up the pieces because the marriage is already irreparably broken when they learn of the problem.

When a couple is able to somehow make it through an affair or a severe crisis on their own, many times no one in the church ever knows about it. That would be virtually impossible if they were living in the accountability and transperancy of covenanetal family relationships.

smokin joe said...

oops, sorry Brian. I guess we are back on the topic of ecclesiology!

Brian Emmet said...

There is no other topic, eh?

smokin joe said...

well, yes, I think there are other topics, such as the 'missional' topic, apostolic companies, or different historical steams of theology, or the whole church and culture discussion. There is also the 'faith and politics' topic.

But you did specifically ask for suggestions about what might help strengthen marriage ... and on that note there is nothing more important than a social support group, community of faith or a church.

steve H said...

I've been out of town a few days, so I got behind.

Yes, Joseph, I do agree that the way we build our communities (i.e. the way we live our lives together) makes a huge difference. Although this could change, so far no one who has walked with our immediate fellowship (the "district" I cared for in Minneapolis, the flock I led in Lexington, or the community / church here in Winchester) has gotten a divorce while walking in relationship with us. (I know of one couple who got divorced after going to another church.)

This is not a statement about my leadership. It is also not a prediction that we will never face such a tragedy. I can only attribute it to God's grace and to the benefit and power of walking together in covenant. This is a statement of thanksgiving to God!!

We have had, and do have, people among us who were divorced before being joined to us. We have people walking with us who were remarried before they were joined to us as well as some whom I remarried after they came to us. In fact, one of our elders and his wife were each divorced and they had married each other before beginning to walk with us.

I believe that in the face of this culture, we can offer hope, grace, and wisdom to people because we have found these things ourselves in the Lord and in the Covenant.

Brian Emmet said...

OK, now we have folks in rightly ordered faith groups (you pick your definition for "rightly ordered faith groups," but we assume all will include mutuality, accountability, transparency and the other key relational ingredients we have noted)... is that the end of this conversation?

smokin joe said...

what about discipleship? mentoring ... or what Dallas Willard would call spiritual formation?

Although it overlaps with the church, it is really different ... and most church's are not doing it very well (Willard says in the Great Ommission that NO church or organization that he is aware of make it a primary focus).

How do we encourage young couples to start on a life-time of spiritual formation? Something beyond attending services...

John M. said...

Steve, you will know a tree by its fruit. I would say that your testimony indicates some real good fruit.

I tell couples before I marry them that I tie permanent knots. I am only aware of three over the last 38 years who have gotten divorced. Like Steve, not bragging, just grateful.

I agree with Joseph that spiritual formation is a very important topic.

Brian Emmet said...

So let's drill down into this a bit deeper: what is it that makes it hard for people to maintain and sustain healthy relationships? What do they need to be discipled "out of" and then "into"?
And let's probe below the immediate answer. For example, it's easy to say that folks have relational problems because they're selfish. That's true (always has been, always will be), but what are the expressions of selfishness unique to our time and place? Similarly for "they need to see it modeled." What is it they need to see modeled?

smokin joe said...

I'm not sure I know exactly what you are looking for Brian. However, I would say that conflict resolution is important ... it is amazing how few people understand how to actually 'resolve' problems (Richard McAfee was helpful in that area).

I would say that spiritual formation that includes learning to focus on loving God and obeying Christ (embracing the cross, self-denial) is important for overcoming narcisistic or selfish attitudes.

Obviously learning how to 'walk in the Spirit' is essential for developing self control ...

thats probably not what you are looking for is it?

Brian Emmet said...

Joseph, those are just the sorts of things I was looking for: how, where, when do people learn how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way? How do we help people recognize their narcissism and learn how to repent? This latter is actually a good example of how selfishness clothes itself in our day and age.

Here's another I'm coming across more frequently: "calling" understood in a way that draws a couple apart rather than together. This is complicated: with women's roles changing rapidly and extensively, it is no longer assumed that the husband's career takes priority over the wife's. Of course, "calling" in this usage is being reduced to "work." So if an engaged couple feels like they have "competing callings"--she feels drawn to Latin America, he to East Asia, is that an indicator that they should not get married?

smokin joe said...

I find that true community, lived out in a context of a group of less than 12, preferably around 8 people (4 couples) who take seriously the "one another" scriptures and began to hold one another for implementing them in their daily lives is a very good school for learning conflict resolution... also for addressing narcisism... this does not happen with 80 people on a Sunday morning sitting in rows of folding chairs. And it especially does not happen through listening to a good sermon.

John the Musician said...

Hey guys, don't have much to say at the moment on this topic but just thought I'd let you all know that I'm still keeping up with you guys occasionally. Also, a little food for thought.

I for one have trouble having trouble with others. It's probably a wrongful desire in me not to "be disturbed" but I think there are many people who live in unreality about relationships. Sometimes I find myself craving a good fight (verbal) here and there just to say I've done it but most of the time I avoid even admiting that I'm bothered. =O)

Hope that makes since. =OP

Brian Emmet said...

John the Musician! Great to hear from you--thanks for checking back in. When you said "I have trouble having trouble with others," did you mean something like you like to avoid conflict... or did I miss your point?

Joseph, I agree with you that hearing a sermon or two may not accomplish a lot... but I'm very grateful for all the great teaching I have received over the years. It has come to me in many formats, including sermons... I don't want us to lose or neglect the importance of good teaching (in a variety of modes/formats).

John M. said...

Hey John, thanks for checking in. It's great to hear from you.

John has made a good point. Most of the qualities that strengthen marriages also strengthen our relationships in all other aspects of life.

Authentic, sincere, truthful communication is vital for us, both with our spouses and all other relationships.

What advice do we have for John? I would say, don't pick a fight, or start an argument for the heck of it. But on the other hand you should be humbly honest when you disagree with someone, especially about issues that affect you personally.

Brian Emmet said...

Also: why do we tend to avoid conflict? Is it that we feel as Christians we shouldn't ever experience conflict--"if you were really walking in the Spirit, you wouldn't be upset." Conflict often evokes feelings of anger, and Christians sometimes identify all forms and expressions of anger as sin, instead of taking Paul's counsel: "Be angry, but sin not."

steve H said...

Some of you may avoid conflict because you want to be more spiritual or something good like that. However, most of the time I want to avoid it because of fear -- of being rejected? of making someone mad? because I don't love someone enough to work through things? of...?

I don't tend to avoid conflict with those with whom I am secure; sadly, however, I may even be sinfully aggressive toward those who most love and depend on me. I also don't avoid conflict if someone makes me mad.

John M. said...

Thanks Steve for your honesty and vulnerability.

Every culture has it's face-saving mechanism's and social taboos. Is there a dynamic at work in our culture that pressures us toward being "agreeable"?

And if this is true, does it get amplified even more strongly within the Christian sub-culture because of the reasons mentioned?

John the Musician said...

For the life of me I can't remember who wrote it... maybe wild at heart, but something along the lines of, "church going men mistake being men of God for being nice.

I tend to think that I've almost always been very amiable on the external and tend to let things build up inside. I remember one time where I was angry with a kid in 8th grade and he hit me in the eye with a staple and I just explode into action. I jumped up ran behind him and slammed his head into the desk. Little did I know that the principal was standing right behind me. =OP

Anywho I think I personally have come to a place where if I have a disagreement I'll bring it up and have an honest discussion with just about anyone but most of the time I'm just agreeable and don't have any differences.

Hopefully that answers your question Brian with some more specifics.

I guess with me being of a younger generation my opinion on the state of things is that the school systems have taken all risk out of young peoples lives. Everything's so controlled these days and on top of that I wonder if sometimes the punishment for things doesn't fit the crime. Most often it seems that being a child is in itself a crime.

As far as the church I can't say much as I haven't been to one in quite a while. (wink)

david said...

Brian talked about the admonition to "be angry and sin not".

i have always found that to be nearly impossible in my life.

any thoughts on how to accomplish this?

smokin joe said...

yes, I have given some thought to that in my own life. I have had some pretty huge anger problems.

Anger itself is a warning device, somewhat like pain. It lets you know there is a problem and you better get your hand out of the fire, for example. Another example would be the oil light on your car … the oil light is not the problem, but it is an indication of the problem.

Unresolved anger is cumulative, like a snowball rolling down a hill. That’s why the scripture says “do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” The longer you let the anger go, the easier it is for you to forget the original cause of the anger and let it turn into hardness or bitterness.

The key with dealing with the original source of the anger is to trace it back to the first cause: usually hurt, frustration or disappointment. Once you discover the first cause, for example hurt, then you have to go into the memory and “feel” the hurt, and invite Jesus to come into the picture and help you release the hurt to him – reframe it.

I have done this dozens of time with numerous memories of hurt and disappointment that caused a simmering level of anger in me. I have also done this with all of my adult children who were damaged by my anger.

I hope this helps David. Blessings to you!

Brian Emmet said...

For those with some familiarity with Catholic teaching, I believe Anger is one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins... which clearly needs some nuancing, since Paul did say, "BE angry, but sin not." If all experiences of anger represent sinful responses/behaviors, we're all in deep trouble!

I agree with Joseph that anger is in the first place a warning signal; it signals me that I am feeling threatened or under attack in some way--it's what I'm feeling, not necessarily what's actually happening. But if I don't acknowledge, recognize and address the feeling, that's when my anger will lead me to sin--kind of like John Musician's example from 8th grade. So maybe a good way to begin to learn how to be angry/sin not would be to say aloud, "I am angry!" Then ask, "About what?" and then "Why am I angry about this?" Do I feel hurt? Attacked? Ignored? Belittled? Otherwise, we end up being controlled by the stuff other people do that"makes" us angry--we end up, without realizing it, giving control of ourselves over to someone else... and then blame them for our screw-ups: "I couldn't help it! He/She just made me so angry...!"

David, does any of this speak to the question you raised?

John M. said...

Having had some personal experience with my own explosive anger, I would add to what Joseph and Brian are saying, that it is usually impossible to stop and ask analytical questions when anger hits you. Or you may know why you're angry, but it still doesn't keep you from being out of control.

Afterward, when you're feeling guilty and vulnerable, perhaps then you can ask the Lord to show you root issues and how to deal with them. Or, obviously you can do that preventively, like now, before you get angry the next time.

Most of us, though, vow that we'll never do it again, without actually dealing with the root causes. Joseph's way of going back to the memories that come up and bringing Jesus into them to bring healing and release is an excellent approach.

For me it has been a synergy of several things: Being diagnosed with adult ADD and going on medication. Experiencing healing and deliverance in some specific areas along the lines of what Joseph recommends. And learning to be mindful about dialing down, relaxing and walking in the Spirit. And applying all of these with substantial doses of prayer.

Regarding the ADD, some of my symptoms were anxiety, impulsiveness, distraction, feeling torn a hundred ways at once, and angry emotional outbursts where the reaction was greater than the stimulus.

I tried for years to deal with these through fasting, prayer, deliverance and inner-healing, but they remained until I went on medication which "miraculously" gave me more relief than all the other spiritual ministry and disciplines I had tried.

The pills don't cure the problem and don't totally eliminate all the symptoms 100% of the time, but life is much better for me, my students and my loved ones because of them. I choose to see those pills as part of my "daily bread" from the Lord.

I bring up the medication topic because, with these kinds of issues, my experience is that many times there is no silver bullet, but the Lord gives us his grace, relief and healing in an "inter-disciplinary" way, rather than through just one means.

david said...

All very good thoughts - thanks for all of the comments.

I don't tend to get angered easily - it takes a long time for me to become angry. I think my fairly "easy going" attitude doesn't naturally spur me to deal with things as they come, so after time the frustration develops.

Thank God that I don't have an explosive temper and often others don't really see how angry i am - but I see it and most importantly God sees it.

Perhaps, eventhough things might not bother me at the time, i should interject God's love and forgiveness into the situations so that no frustration builds.

smokin joe said...

hi again David,

if you are an old friend and you know who we are--welcome.

If you are a new friend who just stumbled across this blog--welcome!

In either case, feel free to introduce yourself ... or not. I am a former pastor/church planter who lives in Miami. I am currently studying for a Ph.D. and sharing my faith with young singles, especially students.

Being "slow to anger" is a very good thing... however, it is also important to "resolve" your anger after the fact...especially things that are repetitive.

Sometimes 'controlled' anger can be helpful in allowing us to set proper boundaries when people try to take advantage of us or disregard our boundaries.

The main thing is that it be handled with self control, and in a constructive way...not destructive.

david said...

I was introduced to the covenant churches in the 80's by a good friend of mine. I attended one covenant church or another for a total of 15 years. After my 2nd church split at my 2nd covenant church - I found myself in the position of needing to look for another church. I continue to have many friends who either remain in covenant churches or who have spent time in them.

Joseph, I have never met you in person, but I have heard about you over the years (only good things of course). Otherwise, I don't think I know anyone else here from "covenant thinklings".

I live in Raleigh, NC and work as an ICU nurse at Duke.

I've been lurking here for a while with only minimal postings, so forgive me for taking so long to introduce myself.

smokin joe said...

cool, nice to meet you David ... glad to hear you have heard all good things about me ... you obviously have not been talking to the right people ;-)

Do you know Billy Long? he is a good friend of mine and has stayed in my home recently when he is here in South Florida on work ... also Ben Dean is another good friend from Raleigh ...

david said...

Yes, I know Billy but don't know Ben.

It's a slightly small world :)

John M. said...

Hey David, glad you went "public" with us! Did we talk by email back when the EO (Eastern Orthodoxy) issue was kind of hot on the blog? If so, we have already "met". If you're not the same guy, let me know, and I'll introduce myself.
John M.

david said...

John, that was me. Good to hear from you again.

John M. said...

Same here, David.

smokin joe said...

John: I thought you said you were going to introduce yourself? Where are your manners?

And Brian, Steve, Don, Johnthemusician and others?

Has anyone else benefited from this discussion of resolving anger and conflict?

John M. said...

Joseph, did you read the exchange David and I had? I told him that if he was somebody different than who I had talked to before that I would introduce myself. He came back and said that he was the same David that had exchanged several emails with me in the fall about EO. We had introduced ourselves then. I thought that the rest of you guys knew me already! Dave, do you want a re-intro? If so, give a holler!

steve H said...

I'm here -- from time to time these past days.

It has been a good practical discussion.

smokin joe said...

Steve: I agree.

David: I have a web site that my wife and I use to post updates and inspirational thoughts that you might find interesting ...

http://www.friends4thejourney.com/

This morning I posted some brief thoughts on theodicy from Psalm 9.

Brian, we can let this percolate a little while longer, but whenever you feel it is time to move on, I have an idea for another discussion on one of the commands of Christ.

John the Musician said...

Hmmm yes and no as far as the relavency of anger in my life. I'm Captain Joe's son David. As such I've had plenty of opportunities to deal with anger in my life and at this point I don't feel that it's a very relavent issue for me or at least that God is working in that area right now.

David, as far as more of an introduction to who I am goes, Like I said I'm Captain Joe's son, 22 years of age. I recently moved back from Ohio to Miami with my parents due to back problems and am trying to reasses the direction of my life.
I call my self "the musician" because I was classically trained on the cello. I also play guitar and have a small proficiency in piano. Primarily though I enjoy writing music working in relationships. =O)

smokin joe said...

Johnthemusician, why don't you tell them about some of the stuff you have been reading lately... particularly Mumford's book.

Brian Emmet said...

I'm Dick (Sears manager) and Nancy's (stay-at-home mom)son (middle child, two sisters), grew up on Long Island's North Shore in a town that was and is really called Centerport, went to Harvard (BA in English), married Kathy in 1977 (and still am), three grown kids all married. Worked in Christian bookselling for 12+ years, then helped start (and still head) Covenant School (K-8th grade), and serve as (a) pastor in Covenant Church of Arlington, MA (since 1996).

David, sounds like the (covenant)churches you were a part of perhaps could have used some parts of this discussion!?

Brian Emmet said...

We seem to have arrived at the end of this particular line... I won't have time to get a new post up until next week, so stay tuned. And if you have a snappy post idea, send it to me--that would get a new conversation started sooner!

smokin joe said...

hi Brian, I put up a new topic... on one of the most important commands of Christ and its apparent incongruity with some of the teachings of Paul....