“It’s hard to kiss a cactus!”
That’s exactly what he said to me. I was counseling a man who had been married more years than I had been alive at that time. How was I to counsel him? I needed to learn what a long marriage was and he had it. But he was a humble man. He was struggling in his marriage. His wife had a long term illness and he wanted to know what he could do to improve a marriage that had stood the test of time.
No, there was no danger of him leaving her. But her attitude toward him was deeply hurtful. He knew that the things she said were the result of her own physical pain and suffering and likely the powerful medications she had to take. But the words and attitudes were still very painful to him.
No, there was no question about his love for her. Decades had proven his and her love. Still, he felt wounded by the one he loved the most.
We talked for awhile, I gave what little advice I could and we prayed. Sometime later, though, he came to me again. Through some personal changes in his attitude there had been a dramatic change in their relationship. It was again easy to kiss the one he loved...no longer a cactus!
Marriage relationships can be very volatile no matter how many years we are married. It is amazing how little it takes to be hurt by the one that we have committed our lives to love and cherish. If the truth were known, there might be many spouses who are thinking the very words, “It’s hard to kiss a cactus.”
Sadly, not everyone goes for marital counseling.
You should know that there is no shame in going for help whether it is your marriage, your personal life, your struggle with God or any other need. We might call it counseling today but perhaps a more Biblical terminology would be “bearing one another’s burdens.”
I think that men in particular have to be careful in how they try to help their wives. That is especially true if you are a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible, a man who likes to just “fix things” — pretty much if you are a man you have to be careful. A man’s tendency can be to give a quick answer and assume that meets her every need. And christian men know the Bible is to be their source for true answers. If you combine too many of those things together, it can be a recipe for disaster in your relationship.
I can speak from experience on this one. All of those things I just mentioned are true of me. I’m a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible and I like to fix things - especially quick solution. So you can see that I am a candidate for failure in this. And I have failed many times.
I did learn (and am still learning) one powerful lesson many years ago. My wife was struggling, she was in tears. And, of course, I “knew” how to fix her need. So I immediately counseled her accurately and Biblically from the Scriptures. I just knew it would help her! Instead, God helped me learn an invaluable lesson.
For one thing, my wife knew every Scripture I could tell her. She knew all the counseling information. But there was something else she needed from me at that moment.
She looked at me through tears and said, “Sometimes, I just need a hug.”
The Word of God did not fail but I did. I failed to know her as I should. I failed to meet her need. At that moment she needed me, she needed silence, she needed a hug.
I was rebuked and even to this day I am reminded of how easy it is to have an answer that is not the answer for that moment.
I have no doubt that had I not learned that lesson (and still learning), it would have been of me, early in my marriage, who my wife would say “it’s hard to kiss a cactus”.
Don’t forget to be like Jesus: have compassion and weep and love and care. That is all the counseling that is needed for our spouse and children in many cases. It also allows you to share the powerful truths of Scripture with greater impact at a later time.
My advice: hug your spouse (and children) a lot. You will never regret it.
And if you need help, ask for it. Most people would be glad to be involved in your life and would not look down on you at all. We have trained people here at Grace that would love to connect & talk with you.
Besides, it’s painful to kiss a cactus.
- Pastor Wynne
Some people can’t help but routinely check their social media on their phone — it’s quite literally a habit that doesn’t take much thought. They hop on the phone to jot down a note or reply to a text and before they realize it, they’ve opened and scrolled Instagram for 20 minutes. It’s an impulse for some.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a person connecting on their social media channels, and this post is not a slam on people over-using or using social media. But the picture of that person’s impulsivity greatly exemplifies what a Christian’s life used to be like before Christ set us free.
At one point, we were actually slaves to our sin. It was our habit. Our old self’s desire for it coupled with temptation was a perfect recipe for impulsive, habitual sinning. It came naturally because it was our nature. Our fallen nature bound us to that lifestyle. Of course we chose to make those poor choices, but the idea here is that we could not change our behavior by sheer will. And we didn’t want to change, either.
Then Christ set us FREE.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. - Romans 6:6-7
If we have been set free from sin, why is it that some Christians still allow sin to rule over them? Note the distinction here; it is not “why do Christians still sin” — this is about a Christian allowing a habitual sin to grip their life. Here are some thoughts on why we, as believers, might allow sin to rule over us:
There are innumerable ways we can work on preventing each of these issues from creeping into our lives, but we can begin by recognizing them. Take an assessment of your spiritual life – are you controlled by sin? Do you habitually run to your old ways? Like the illustration at the beginning of this post, do you feel like you cannot control yourself? If so, consider reaching out to a friend for help. A friend that you trust and know will give you spiritual guidance & biblical truth. If you don’t know someone like that, come and talk to us! We will work side-by-side with you – because we are all on this journey of spiritual growth together. We will meet you where you are, and we will bring both grace and truth. We would love to hear from you.
And then, since it’s likely you did come across this article while browsing social media (no problem!), consider sharing this with your friends.
Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
When I look through the glass door of the apartment that we stay in I immediately see a wooded section. At first glance, it all looks nearly dead—no leaves on the trees and seemingly no life. However, if I look another direction going up the street from where we stay I see a startling difference. I see a number of trees that are completely blooming in white. And in other areas I see trees that are pink and some with a purple color. As you can tell I have no idea what they are. But they are in bloom and beautiful. I have seen daffodils and also the sprouting of tulips. They are all signs that change is coming.
The calendar has changed to March, and about a week from now we will change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time. And then on Tuesday March, 20 Spring will officially begin. Again, these are all signs of the coming the seasonal change. Most people look forward to the next season. As with the new year it brings a difference and in some way is a ray of hope.
Change is not always welcomed by some people. They love the routines. Sometimes even the season change means adjustments that they are unwilling to adapt to. However, we have nothing to do with the changing of the seasons. In fact, there is little that we can do about most of the things that change in our lives. We grow older, our children and grandchildren grow up, friends move away, our favorite (fill in the blank) wears out and on and on it goes.
I tend to lean more to the side of not wanting things to change. I like sameness. I like consistency. If I go to Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream, I will always order the same thing. Vickie, on the other hand, will try five new flavors and then get something she has never had. I do not mind the season changes but I like most other things to just be constant.
And there are benefits to having consistency. In fact, we can be glad that some things never change. We are glad that our distance from the Sun never changes. We are glad that chemical reactions are predictable and produce the same results all the time. We are especially glad that our God never changes. (Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.) His attributes are always the same. His promises are always fulfilled. His truth never changes. (Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.) The fact that He never changes instills confidence and hope and assurance in our hearts.
But... there are also benefits to the things that change. God ordained that the seasons change and it is purposeful. Likewise, God also wants us to change — often, we don’t even get a choice! We are to grow in Christlikeness. The entire process of sanctification is one of changing. We should be maturing in Christ year after year. We call it spiritual growth and it means exactly that— we are changing!
1 Corinthians 6:11 — And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
2 Corinthians 4:16 — So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Ephesians 4:22–24 — to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Philippians 1:6 — And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
The consistency of certain things can bring us great confidence. In many other areas, though, there is a great necessity for change. Let’s not confuse the two...however, I will still get Mint Chocolate Chip at Baskin Robbins!
May we all be more and more conformed to the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That means we will change!
I look forward to all that God will do in our lives on Sunday as we worship together and as part of the change process that we are all in to be more like Jesus.
One brief reminder from the message last Sunday that you might want to reflect on and remember. It was that statement by Paul Tripp: “I am not a grace graduate.”
Note: I encourage all our men to attend the Men’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday March 10 at 8:30am at the church. There will be a sign up sheet on Sunday so that we can prepare for you.
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.