To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Hey! This Does Not Matter…

It happened this morning. We were out picking blackberries near to our home. I picked one and it slipped from my grasp. Down it went and into the undergrowth. It was gone. How good it would have been to have that blackberry to add to my collection. I can see it now falling. But how much should I be frustrated? How much should I grieve over the lost blackberry?

Which raises the question what should I get frustrated about and what should grieve me? One lost blackberry does not compare with the loss of a friend through death.

One of the key ways we mess up life is by not getting things in perspective. We over-value the trivial and under-value the eternal. We fret and grieve over the inconsequential and ignore even despise that which should really matter.

One continual desire and prayer we should have is to have a right perspective on things. One discipline we need in order to achieve this is to get distance. In the heat of the moment something may matter with a vengeance. But get some time to distance yourself from the event then you start to get perspective. Although, I would have liked that blackberry to add to my collection; it would be madness for me to go into a sulk as a result.

I go back to one other thing that most certainly mattered at the time. But why Philip? It was only over some Christmas wrapping paper. Christmas Eve it was, sometime ago, and May Lin was not so keen on me using it. And I got so annoyed. Why did she need to be so restrictive over a bit of wrapping paper? A friend relating an argument with his wife in the supermarket over some purchasing of mint sauce has also come to mind as I have pondered this matter. Such trivial things, but at the time they can seem so big.

But Philip, what a fool, getting so upset over that. Just trivial really, just some wrapping paper and yet I was so agitated. Mercifully, in the Lord’s good provision I was able to withdraw and get some perspective. But it took a little while.

So where does that leave me?

  • I am a wretched man. These little occurrences remind me of Paul’s perplexity in Romans 7 which is summed up in the statement What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Rom 7:24)
  • Satan will seek any means to get in and seek to destroy marriages and in fact any relationship. We need to be always on our guard. Moreover, Satan loves us to concentrate on the things that do not matter. We need to be aware of his devices.
  • I need always to be in prayer. I should never go into any situation without consciously having committed all into His hands in prayer.
  • I am reminded of the bride in Song of Solomon 2:17 Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. It is so often the little foxes that come in to eat away at relationships so that they are spoiled. We need to be on our guard. Indeed our lives can be wrecked by a failure to properly deal with the small issues. And generally we deal with them properly by making sure they do not fester in our lives and relationships. When little foxes hang around they can do a lot of damage.


I have Been A Husband…..

……..for over 23 years and I still feel somewhat out-of-my-depth. I wrote here previously about my thoughts on marriage before I married.

The call of course is very high; we are to love our wives as this Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:25-27)

Immediately we are faced with somethings that is beyond us. The model for our ministry as a husband is Christ and His love for the Church. This is total self-sacrificing love. Yet I find within me a selfish tendency. I find myself wanting to please myself and defend myself, instead of considering my wife’s interests as paramount.

One attitude that so very often causes problems is that of presumption. What I mean is that there is a presumption that all will go well. I fail to remember that I need God all the time. It is not just in the big things of life that I need that life-transforming work of the Holy Spirit; it is in all things I life. So many times i have approached an issue without praying and it has gone bad.

Moreover I need to be continually studying my wife so as to love her better. The more i know her, the more I will be able to cherish her an appreciate her. As the Lord says in 1 Peter 3:7 husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

This points to the fact that the prospering of our marriage will happen when we are praying together and if I am not understanding my wife in all of her charachter then our relationship will be fractious. If I am spiritual I will be studying her. 

In all this we need to be aware that we have an enemy who wants to destroy marriages. Marriage is the first institution created by God. It is the primary institution for the establishing of stable communities, families and churches.

So we need God. I need God. We have no get out clause in our marriage covenant. We are in it till death us do a part or the Lord shall come. We therefore should not be complacent when all is joyous and we should not be defeated when all is hard. We need God in all things. Which reminds me of some words I included in my wedding speech, at May Lin’s prompting:


God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.


Christians Must Marry Christians

I just wanted to put finger to keyboard to re-assert this point. In case anyone is doubting that this is the requirement of God for His people, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 clearly states the principle. Here are the pertinent verses:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”


The call of God is straightforward; we are not to be unequally yoked. Now this is a principle that embraces many life situations. One of those must surely be that of marriage though. To be married to a non-believer is to be unequally yoked. The essence of the problem is that you are bound to someone who has a different value system to yourself.

Inevitably, when this is the case you are continually finding yourself pulling in different directions. Hence the analogy of the yoke. Two oxen pulling the plough behind them are going to be subject to all kinds of difficulty and struggle if they are pulling in different directions. And so it is with the unequal yoke in marriage.

The matter affects the children as well. Let us hear the teaching of Nehemiah as he rebuked the people of Jerusalem who were marrying outside the people of God:

In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them swear in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?” (Neh. 13:23-27).

Again the implications are clear here. When the children are born to a couple, one of whom is a believer and the other who is not a believer then there is a big impact on the children. They are continually hearing then language of Zion and the language of the world. Although no home is perfect and Christian couples struggle and have friction there is at least that settled mutuality of heart in Christ that the children will discern.

The argument is made that if a marry a non-believer it can be the means of them being won for Christ. The principle to justify the marriage of the non-believer is that of evangelism; that is you marry them in order to seek to win them to the Lord. This may seem reasonable, but it is not biblical. In fact being unequally married may well hinder your evangelism. Firstly, in order to please your spouse you will have to limit your commitment to the service of the Lord. Secondly, the primary place of evangelising your children will be hindered on account of the influence of the other parent not being a gospel influence because they are not gospel people.

So fellow believer if you are unmarried and considering being married settle it in your heart right now that you will only marry another Christian.

I would note that the situation of a person being converted after marriage is a very different matter. According to 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 that person should seek to stay within the marriage if at all possible and live for Christ.

Pastoring Our Wives

As a husband one of my primary responsibilities is to shepherd my wife. If we start to think of this as a patronising activity, whereby we consider them to be lesser entities to ourselves, then we have got things completely wrong. This is rather a ministry of self-sacrificing devotion to our wives so that they prosper in all their life and callings. What does this entail?

We are protect them. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:7 that husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. We are to make sure that they are not shamed, but rather honoured and respected by us. This means that we will physically protect them if necessary. But also we will shield them from happenings or information which will be harmful to them,

We provide for them. The husband has the primary responsibility to be the provider into the family unit. Although our wives may work, we must not shirk this responsibility.

We encourage them. We have a relentless ministry to encourage our wives in their ministry. Their responsibility of looking after home and family can often be a thankless task. Moreover, we live in a society that belittles these activities. We must aware of this make them know that their labour is oh so valuable.

We study them. We should truly know our wives as to who they are. We should know their interests. We should know their loves and hates. We should be able to tell what circumstances have a negative or positive impact upon them.

We bear with them. As we understand our wives we will be inclined to bear with them in all of their challenges and vulnerabilities. We will understand the impact that the monthly period has upon them and respond accordingly.

We speak well of them. In our conversation with we should be willing to speak of our wives in a wholesome way. We should not seek to belittle them in the presence of others. This does not exclude humour, but it does me that any humour is never to their harm or embarrassment.

Growth. We long and labour for their growth in the Lord. We must make sure that they are spiritually nourished and built up. This may well mean scheduling our day so that they can have time with the Lord and attend church activities.

Usefulness. We want them to be useful in serving the Lord. So we work to see them equipped for their service. We seek to make sure that their opportunities for them to serve the Lord. And when we see them being useful for the Lord we rejoice that this should be the case.

Prayer. We pray for them in everything. We pray concerning the responsibilities that they have. We pray for their prospering in all their ways. We give thanks to the Lord for them. And we make sure that we pray with them.

So dear brothers in the Lord let us hear this from the Lord: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25). Let us give ourselves unstintingly to this ministry of caring for our wives and be glad to do so.

Give Them A Guilt-Trip

It is something that I have often heard in preaching and it goes something like this: “I don’t want to make you feel guilty….” The background to the statement is that the preacher is preaching to the end that they want the people to respond to the love of Christ and not because they feel guilty about some trait or behaviour.

However, if you start looking in the Old testament you will soon be finding that the prophets, in particular, are wanting to send the nation on a guilt trip. By way of example if you read through Hosea 4-14 you will find that the material is presented within the frame of an indictment against the nation of Israel for their turning form the Lord and His ways. So we read The Lord has an indictment against Judah and will punish Jacob according to his ways; he will repay him according to his deeds. (Hos. 12:2)

And read Micah 6:2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel.

And again in the writings of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:5-15 there is a listing of charges by the Lord against His people.

This all leads me to ponder upon the issue of the appropriateness of preaching so that the people of God are knowing and feeling their guilt. I ask, if the Lord was doing such through His servants of old why should we not be doing the same today? So go, fellow preacher, to preach to make the people of God know their guilt.

However, this determination to preach to the end of producing guilt should never be without the colourings of grace.

If we preach guilt as simply failing to meet the standards of righteousness required by God, then we preach a message that engenders lives of drudgery among the people. Such people are ever seeking to reach the standards of a divine being who is a detached king whose regulations we must adhere to as His submissive subjects. And there is not much pleasure and joy in that!

However, there is a grander biblical motif in which to preach guilt and that is of the divine marriage. Most beautifully this is expressed in how the people of God are the bride of Christ. Let’s dwell upon that. In marriage if one of the spouses fails to give due honour and attention to the other then they are guilty of relationship crimes. The one they are called to devotedly share life with is spurned for selfish purposes. For such a person we want them to feel their guilt.

And so it is when we preach the Word. We want the people of God to know that any breaking of their devotion to their beloved bridegroom in heaven is turning against the One who has devotedly loved them and committed Himself with eternal, self-sacrificial, blood shedding love. We want to make the people feel their guilt over this outrage.

When we are  aware of our guilt as His adulterous children we repent and return to our Lord. All the while through our estrangement the marriage bond stands and so our cuckolded husband does not sue for divorce,  but rather He stands ready to welcome us back into the enchantment of the harmony of sharing life with Him. This we once again enjoy through the blessings that flow from repentance.

We need to preach this kind of guilt because it is appropriate in the context of Saviour’s determination for us to be blessed in enjoying the goodness of being with Him.









India (1)

I am now in India. I arrived yesterday at about 14:30 at Chennai Airport.

The travel involved a transit stop in Muscat; beautiful airport. Journey was uneventful in many ways. Great views of Chennai coming in. I embarrassed myself a couple of times.

Firstly, by messing up my Bluetooth connection on my headphones. I had my headphones on and was happily listening to A Gospel Coalition podcast. Alas all those surrounding me were also listening given that what I was hearing was not through my headphones, but from my phone. Drrrrrrrrrrr. Happily a man on a nearby seat alerted me to my predicament.

My second happened with me wresting to open a packet of potato snacks. I only prevailed when I resorted to using the connection on my phone charger as a dagger.

Notwithstanding the superficially uneventful journey , something remarkable did happen.

I left Heathrow in a pit of despair. Through, my indiscretion and weakness, May Lin and myself had a very difficult forty minutes or so prior to her leaving me at the airport. My behaviour descended into a vortex of self-recrimination combined with harshness to May Lin. Happily we were, through repentance and forgiveness, able to bind together over the phone and “draw a line” before I left. However, to have failed so spectacularly, cast a long shadow over me.

When I got to Muscat I was particularly cast down in my mental and emotional state. Memories of my experience of depression of earlier in the year cast me in a state of uncertainty as I looked ahead to my time away.

However, the Lord gave me much restoring grace at the beginning of the flight to Chennai from Muscat. How beautiful was that time as in my brokenness I felt Him putting me back together. Chastened by the whole experience as I trust I am, I have also been made sensible of my own weakness which must be “kept on file” for permanent reference. Since then I picked up and felt a sobered optimism. Conscious of my weakness and similarly conscious of our great forgiving Lord and the blessing of a good wife to me and mother to our children.

The hotel in Chennai was decent with a great room. Had a swim this morning which was very pleasant.

I managed to keep going until 7,45 last night before collapsing into bed. I woke at about 6.15. What a kindness from the Lord to be given a great night of sleep.

The roads are something to behold. There is a continual cacophony of blowing horns. People can suddenly appear on the side of the road going the other way. Cows mingle in with the traffic. Motor-cycles are in abundance. Ladies riding side-saddle and the carriage of cargo are a couple of the interesting motor-cycling sights.

I am now in Machilipatnam having flown up today. Picked up by Pastor Sukumar Bandrapalli in Vijayawada  and very warmly welcomed into his home here with his dear family.

A 3×3 For You

Hoping for a brand new 4×4?!  Well here is something far better on offer. And if used regularly (and appropriately) this will enhance you life more than any elaborate 4×4 will.

So here is my 3×3 for you:


To have that 3×3 in our lives, marriages, families, churches, workplaces and communities will lead to all such realms being much enhanced. We are not talking about disingenuous manipulation here, whereby an apology is used for selfish purposes. Apologises are to be made out of love not self-protection or self aggrandisement.

Alas, the problem is often the other way. There are too many people who do not seem to have “sorry” in their vocabulary. Either these people are perfect, which is unlikely or self-deceived or proud. The latter two amount to the same thing. We are talking about people caught up in their own self-interests.

Rather, when love is found among us then there will be the beautiful functioning of this beautiful 3×3. What an impact that will have for you and me in all realms of our lives.

Please please accept the offer of this 3×3 today and I promise it will revolutionise your life.



Christian Young Men Considering “Dating”.

  • The biblical frame is that men and women come together for marriage. You should never “date” or “go out” with someone unless you feel there is some prospect that you might marry this person.
  • Casual dating should not be considered.
  • Clear communication must be had with the sister in Christ you are considering going out with so that there is no confusion as regards to each other’s intentions.
  • You are the man and in God’s order of things you have responsibility to lead things from the beginning. You should be the initiative taker.
  • You should only go out with another believer. It is wrong to be unequally yoked. The Lord says in 2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 
  • Start by praying and reading the Bible together. Make that a key ingredient of your relationship right from the beginning.
  • Don’t be insular. Yes “go out” together, but make sure you mix with others. You will find out a lot about the young lady’s character through this (and she about yours).
  • Encourage each other to be going to church.
  • Going back to the biblical frame, the fundamental character of a male/female relationship being established is that the woman leaves her parents home to join the man in the new marital home (see Gen. 2:24). Regard should be had so that the parents of the sister are respected and at some point the father approached as regards to taking his daughter into marriage, should the relationship develop that way.
  • Make sure that you are very careful about the physical aspects of your relationship. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. But stirring up feelings through amorous contact is wrong too. The Spirit says in Hebrews 13:4: Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • Before marriage you are exploring whether you are compatible in the Lord and in marriage. The physical aspects of the relationship are for marriage. It is good therefore outside of marriage to make sure that certain parts of your body do not come into contact.
  • Any woman should have nothing to do with a man who disrespects her so much that he would “try it on” before marriage.
  • If you are in a relationship and you realise that it is not working out, then you should be clear with the lady involved. You must not let things drift on and let feelings  become intensified.

Your Wife.

Here is a good article by Tim Challies about his own wife, but with direct implications for all of us men who are married. From this I am provoked to think about:

  • Giving thanks for May Lin. To have a sister in Christ, as my wife, who desires to be faithful to the Lord surely should lead me to thank the Lord.
  • Praying for May Lin. How I need to continually bringing her to the Lord for her growth in the Lord and usefulness in all His ways.
  • Appreciating May Lin. Now I do not want to digress into how different people respond to certain appreciation, but I do want to make sure that May Lin does feel appreciated.
  • I want to encourage May Lin. I want to encourage her to move forward for the Lord.
  • Releasing May Lin. I want her to fulfill her ministry and so I should be laboring to see her released into fruitful ministry.
  • Enjoying May Lin. I need to set time aside so that we can have opportunity to enjoy being together.

In all this we will be building up our wives and building our marriages and that must be for good.

Church Newsletter

Here is the Feltham Evangelical church newsletter for October 2018. It has an article on the relationship between children and parents.

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