Friday, December 20, 2013

What's Christmas all about anyway?

The Question.
"What IS Christmas all about?" That is the question I never asked that God just recently truly brought to bear on my heart and mind.  It's not that I did not know the story that was revealed to me.  I simply had not thought of it from this perspective.  Others don't know the story at all or have any idea of this perspective.

My exposure.
I grew up Southern Baptist.  From there I have been associated with a non-denominational church for the last nineteen years.  In neither of these environments was Advent or Lent something that was practiced or taught as a theme throughout the holiday seasons.  At least not at the Southern Baptist churches I remember.
It is important to note that I am not saying this in order to insult or slight those ministries in any way.  I have learned from both, the first of which, my father was the pastor.  Advent seems to be one of those seasonal faith themes that is practiced more by some churches than others.  Is does not seem fair to narrow it down by denomination because I am using a wonderful Advent app in my ipod that is based on the Advent curriculum from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.  This church, led by Dr. David Platt, is part of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I say all that only to give some background as to my experience and exposure to this faith based, seasonal celebration.

The word Advent means "to arrive".  As I am learning, Advent is a time of the year, if done right, that ties the story of the birth of Christ into the entire biblical historical narrative of the bible.  Now I have learned much about this narrative and the importance of understanding that, the story of our redemption bought by Christ's perfect life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection runs from Genesis to Revelation.  However, I had never considered the ways in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus into this world as it's own little moment, without ensuring that we are remembering and sharing with others it's place in the grand scheme of redemptive history.  This was a surprise to me.  I had never really thought about it.  Partially, because it is not something I am accustomed to hearing every year at Christmas.

The Greater Question.
The fact is that Advent is the answer to the question, "What's Christmas all about?"  So if someone asks the question, can you answer it?  Greater still the question should be, will you tell them even if they don't ask?  Will you start the conversation?  What will you tell them?

The Answer.
The answer to this question, "What is Christmas all about?" should never simply be, "It's about the birth of Jesus."  Yet this is the typical understanding and response.  While it is true, it is incomplete.  The answer should be that Christmas is about the coming of a Messiah, a deliverer, a rescuer.  This then should prompt the questions, "What's a Messiah?"  "Why do I need a deliverer?"  "What do I need to be rescued from?"  Then, if they don't ask those questions, we should suggest them.  Then we answer them.

There are many verses and ideas that are involved in this answer.  If it is being taught or studied through over the month of December they should all be meditated on and this Advent App is a great way to do that.  It has an introduction that fleshes out the plot.  It then has six parts that are broken down like this:  1.) the promise of His coming, 2.) the promise of His birth, 3.) the promise of His life,  4.) the promise of His death,  5.) the promise of His resurrection, and 6.) the promise of His eternal reign.  Then an epilogue of promises kept.  All of these promises are crucial to the over all historical narrative of the story of redemption. 

Now, if we are in general conversation and this topic comes up do we need a six point response?  Of course not.  However, It is a prime opportunity for a basic gospel presentation in which the birth of Jesus is included.  For example:

"This is what Christmas is all about.  The creator of the universe created man in his own image to fellowship with him, that man might glorify the name of Almighty God.  God blessed man and gave him much authority over the earth with just a few instructions.  Man disobeyed God thus bringing the curse of sin, death, and destruction into the world to be experienced by all of creation.  But from the beginning God knew this would happen and had already put in place, a plan of redemption that would defeat the curse of sin.  God's plan was His very own Son, Jesus.  Throughout the Old Testament, God provides prophecies about the coming of His Son.  His Son would be known as the Messiah.  A righteous branch springing up from a broken or cut down tree. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  God's son, Jesus Christ, conceived of the Holy Spirit, would be born of a virgin and live a perfect life of obedience to God, being both fully man and fully God.  He would not be esteemed.  He would be despised and rejected, eventually being crucified by His very own people, the Jews.  He would die on a cross, taking the punishment for and removing the guilt, of the sins of all who would believe.  But on the third day, Jesus would be risen from the dead by the power of God's Spirit, thus defeating death and making His righteousness available also, to all who would believe.  After a little more time with man, Jesus would ascend to the right hand of the Father and there He would remain, praying for His people and directing the Holy Spirit whom He would send as our comforter and helper.  One day, He will return again.  This is the second Advent.  On that day He will complete the story, destroying evil and all of it's sources and taking all those whom have believed to reign with Him forever in glorious perfections and endless worship."

Or something like that.  It doesn't have to be quite that detailed but wouldn't it be awesome to have such a comfortable handle on the basics of the redemptive narrative, from beginning to end, that you could do that.  What I just wrote is maybe a minute or two worth of explanation.  I just wrote that off the top of my head.  I don't tell you that to brag.  It is certainly not perfect.  I tell you that to say that I am better at writing it, than saying it out loud and I could not possibly give you all the scripture references for that little quote from memory.  But, there is something exhilarating about being able to write something like that down.  Because I know it means that this story is really getting on the inside of me.  That is humbling and thrilling all at the same time.

I want to encourage you to consider this.  Consider making Christmas not only about Jesus' coming as a baby, but that you would take this season as an opportunity to consider the entire story of what the Holy Trinity has done for us in this grand narrative.  Remember, by our time table, we think of what God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did, are still doing, and are going to do.  By God's time table, it is already finished.  From beginning to end, the story has been told.

Because of this we have a great hope that carries us through every difficult time and with joy, drives us to share this awesome story with a lost and dying world that many of them may come to possess this same great hope and share this gospel with that same joy!

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear?

King David's love for God's creation
King David was a great psalmist.  Many of the psalms in the bible are attributed to him.  In Psalm 19:1-2 David says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge."

Before King David was king, he was a shepherd. He had the pleasure of lying out under the night sky and observing the constellations, maybe seeing a shooting star here and there.  During the day he watched the sun move across the sky.  He probably observed those neat moments when the sun and moon both appear to be in the sky at the same time.

In this day, we are so busy that we don't even notice the sun except to be bothered by it's brightness and put on sunglasses.  At night, especially in the city, you have to work really hard to see the stars.  We still seem to be fairly enamored by the moon and it's phases.  Not to mention when it gets really big or takes on some beautiful and unusual color as it reflects the suns' light or is eclipsed.

Childlike love for creation
The greatest way to enjoy the glories of the day and night sky are through the eyes of a child.  For me those eyes first came in my oldest son Ryan.  When Ryan was a toddler and learning to speak, his first word was moon.  He loved the moon.  He would ask for it and when he saw it, his face would light up as big and bright as the moon itself.  But when it went out of sight, he would get sad.  His whole countenance would change.  To this day he still loves nature and science.

Taking creation for granted
I believe David's appreciation for the life of the sky was as vibrant as that of Ryan's with just one difference.  A young child does not realize that they are looking at the very handiwork of God.  Do you?  As adults we get so busy with day to day life that we very rarely look up and appreciate God's handiwork.  We certainly don't think of it as declaring God's glory.  Oh from time to time, on a peaceful night and somewhere that there aren't many lights, I can get a good look at the sky.  When I do, I actually remember, to some degree, the awe and wonder that is God's creation.

Do you take God's creation for granted?  I know I do.  I don't spend nearly enough time appreciating and expressing gratitude for what God has given me.  My boys Ryan and Alex know that nature is God's handiwork but at ages ten and six, I can already see them enjoying it, but not with the same awe and wonder that they did when they were smaller.

Teach your children!
What about your children?  That's where we come in.  Not only do we need to make a consistent effort at appreciating the splendor of the trees, the birds in the air, and the stars in the sky but we must remind our children.  We must help them never to forget that, not only is nature there, but it is crying out "look at the majesty of God's creation!"  "Glorify Him for He has done great things!" 

Once you hear it, teach your children to be active participants.  Ask them, "do you hear it?"  "Do you hear what I hear?"  The heavens are declaring it.  All of nature is declaring the glory and majesty of our Almighty Creator.  Now obviously this is something we learn to see with our eyes and perceive with out hearts by God's grace.  However, we must teach our children to desire to do the same.

Creations revelation, Our rejection. 
Romans 1:18-21 states, and I paraphrase, that the very condemnation that necessitates a Savior is ours, because what can be known about God is plain in the things that have been made.  It says that we are guilty and without excuse because we know and yet we reject our Creator.  This is known as general revelation.

At the fall, Adam and Eve decided that what God had provided wasn't good enough if they could not take of the one tree that they were instructed to leave alone.  God's creation has been crying out to us about himself since the beginning.  We have been rejecting God's provision and God's authority ever since.  That is why we are all guilty, condemned, and damned to hell.  That is why Jesus had to come to earth, take on flesh, live the life of perfect obedience that we could not live and die the death that we should have died.  He took our punishment by becoming sin and taking all the wrathful response to that sin that belongs to us.  He satisfied our debt.

Good news!
The good news is, HE IS RISEN!!!  He conquered death.  Now his righteousness and victory over sin are available to us so that we can have eternal life.  Isn't that amazing.  We rejected God.  Yet, He sent His Son to live righteously and die to take the punishment for our sins; then raised him from the dead so that we could have access again to the Father for all eternity.

All we have to do is repent and have faith.  By God's grace we can have that childlike faith that once again appreciates all that God has done for us and yearns to obey Him.  If you have never known this gift of faith that leads to belief, repentance, and eternal life, you can have it.  Cry out to God.  He hears our cries and He can save you and change your life right now.

May we all come with childlike faith and learn to enjoy the majestic handiwork of our Heavenly Father, from creation to the cross, once again.

In Jesus name,


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It is time for the Thanksgiving post.  People  have been posting what they are thankful for on  Facebook for weeks but I just figured I would wait for this.  It looks as though many have a lot to be thankful for on Facebook and for that I am grateful.  I do as well.

Black Friday
I want to encourage people to be careful not to forget the things that they are grateful for as Black Friday approaches.  Some do not like Black Friday because it has crept earlier and earlier into Thanksgiving Thursday.  I must agree that the greed and commercialism is getting old.  It is stealing and corrupting the original purpose of both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then of course there is the nasty, high-stress, impatient attitudes of the shoppers themselves.  That part was always there on some level but it has been amplified several times over with the hysteria that can be Black Friday.

So, I just wanted to say that while I am thankful for the ridiculous deals you can get courtesy of Black Friday, part of me wishes it did not exist because of the negatives involved.   Never the less, my wife and I try to make a point of showing love and patient understanding to those around us while striving to get the deal we hope for as well.  Gratefully, we have not felt the need to compromise time with family in order to get the deals and I hope we never do.  As Christians we are responsible to live a life worthy of the gospel, even during holiday shopping.  So I would encourage you, whether you participate in Black Friday or not to pray before going out to shop at anytime during the holiday season.  Be ready "in season and out of season" so to speak.

Why should we be thankful?  What makes gratitude so important?
The world has their own answers for these questions, some of which stem from scripture even though they may not be aware of it.  I simply want to let scripture speak for itself.  There are many scriptures that could be used.  I am partial to Philippians 4:4-7.  It states, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to all, the Lord is at hand.  Do not be anxious for anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Much could be said of this passage but I simply want to point out the centrality of thanksgiving in this passage.  If you develop a habit of praying, thinking, and acting from an attitude of gratitude rather than griping and complaining then you will find yourself rejoicing in supernatural peace, no matter the circumstances.  This is a stature that will bring much glory to God.

Now, besides the benefits of Black Friday, what am I grateful for?

1) Faith
I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  That may seem obvious since this is a ministry blog but that is kind of the point.  He saved me from the wretched life of dead works, hateful actions, and selfish indulgences that I was living.  He made me alive and enables me every day, by His grace, to do righteous works that are motivated by a desire for His glory to be made evident in my life.  Thanks be to God.

2.) Family
 I am thankful for my family.  First and foremost for my wife and children.  They are a blessing to me daily.  They remind me how loved I am, even when I don't deserve it.  They also keep me humble as I continually recognize areas that I can improve as both a husband and father.  I am truly blessed beyond belief to have a beautiful wife who is talented, caring, and dedicated to being the best mother and wife that she can be.  I am blessed to have two handsome boys that are also very intelligent, talented, and have their mothers big heart.

I am thankful for my extended family.  On my side I was blessed to grow up as a preachers son.  This exposed me to the good and the bad of church life and helped me to develop the tough skin I have today that guards my heart from bitterness against the ugliness that can be found in the church.  As we were never well off, it also taught me how to appreciate having my needs met and yet be ok with not getting everything I wanted.  This is a principle many need to learn in this day.  Even more importantly, as we have all grown up, myself, my two brothers and my sister and their spouses, along with Mom and Dad, are able to challenge and encourage each other in the Lord and grow in our faith walk courtesy of these experiences.  No matter how much we may disagree on a subject, at the end of the day, we are able to let love rule.  That is a blessing.  They love my kids, are as generous as they can be, and always strive to be available if I need them.  As the family expands I get to return the favor as much as I can and enjoy nieces and nephews from my side of the family.  I am very blessed.

On my wife's side, much of the same is true.  There is much love and generosity to be experienced from all of my in-laws.  This last year our family had the amazing opportunity to go on a Disney cruise.  It was a dream come true and it was courtesy of all of my in-laws generous desires to see my wife and kids, especially my youngest, Alex, experience meeting Mickey live and in living color on the boat.  That is just one example of the ways in which they are loving and giving.  I will be forever grateful, to my mother and father-in-law for birthing and raising the wonderful woman that I get to call my best friend and wife.  I am also blessed to have a very loving and thoughtful brother and sister-in-law.  They have two wonderful children whom I have been blessed to call niece and nephew for many years now.

3.) Ministry
The list could go on but you guys don't want to hear all of that and I could not possibly do justice here, to everything that I am grateful for.  I will however, say how blessed and thankful I am to be a musician, choir director and worship leader.  It is my greatest joy to have the fellowship of a wonderful worship ministry with whom I get to lead the congregation into worship.

While I am blessed with a stable secular job that provides much to our family, church related ministry is my heart.  Everyday personal ministry is the responsibility of every christian however, there is nothing else that I would rather be doing than glorifying God through vocational ministry.  I have been blessed to do it for many years on a part time basis through music.  For the last year and a half or so I have been blessed to share the gospel in written word through this blog.  Prayerfully I will have many opportunities to preach God's word not only through written word but also through the spoken word.  This is the desire God has placed in my heart.  The desire to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through the redemptive history of the whole word of God.  I look forward to following God on this journey, whatever it may look like. and wherever it may take me.

I believe that the Lord will not always keep me at my current church.  God loves to push people out of their comfort zone in order for them to grow.  I know this day is coming for me.  Until it does I will faithfully strive to glorify God in the service of the church that has been so kind to allow me to grow up spiritually, emotionally, and musically there for the last nineteen years.  I am indebted to them for the grace-filled support and opportunities that I have had there.

4.) Grateful for Common Grace
Left to our own devices we would most certainly destroy ourselves and any potential for happiness that is available.  That is obvious in the individuals from which God withholds His common grace the most.  In those individuals we can watch the corruption and destruction of sin have it's full effect as their lives disintegrate into a mass of jail time, drug ridden bodies, horrible behaviors and wasted lives. Lives that will ultimately end in an eternity of pain, suffering, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.  The hell they lived on earth will pale in comparison to the hell they will experience for eternity.

For those to whom God's common grace has allowed them a measure of happiness and self-satisfaction, there are still concerns.  Many of them will live lives that look successful and maybe even selfless in  many ways.  They may have wonderful families, fantastic careers, and great health.  I fear that for many, it will all be in vain.  Because, if they have never experienced the saving grace that only comes through the cross of Christ then everything they have done will be for nothing.  It will have been motivated by a self-exalting and self-satisfying drive.  A drive that seeks it's own glory rather than the glory of God.  Their lives will still end in eternal misery and never-ending destruction.  Everything that they earned and built in this life will whither away and burn up.  They will be no better off than the one who wasted the whole of this life.

Saving Grace and Future Glory
Why such a bleak picture of unredeemed lives at the end of a blog about Thanksgiving?  Because, at the end of the day I know that the many blessings for which I am so very grateful have nothing to do with my own worth, talent, or anything else that I have to offer.  It was the blood-bought, Christ-exalting, God-glorifying, amazing grace of the Holy Trinity that regenerated me, changing my heart and enabling me to have the faith to believe unto salvation to begin with.  It is that same grace that enables my efforts toward sanctification as I become more and more like Jesus.  Because of the price paid at Calvary I get to experience the best that God has planned for me in this life.  Not only that, but I get to look forward to that great gettin up morning when I see Jesus face to face and I will sin no more.  That future glory in which no sin, pain, sorrow, or suffering will ever exist.

The many struggles that this life has to offer, that even the strongest of believers is allowed to experience by our Heavenly Father, will exist no more.  This future glory provides an eternal hope that carries us through the most difficult of times.  Those moments when we feel we can't go on we remember the whole of 2 Corinthians 4 that ends with verses 16-18 which says, "so we do not loose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

An eternal perspective brings an eternal gratitude! 

Thanks be to God and glory to His name for the many trials and blessings that He bestows on us for our eternal benefit!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Wanna Save Your Marriage (Part 9) A Summary

Alright.  There are so many other things that could be said but I think it is time to wrap this one up. This is officially the longest series that I have ever done.  It has been edifying to me.  I hope it has been edifying to you.  I would like to thank everyone who reads the blog, has followed this particular series of postings, and/or has provided feedback.  It means a lot and you are more than welcome to share and share alike if you feel it would be helpful.

I want to emphasize that while the material has been direct and revealing at times , I have made every effort to be biblical at every point.  Sometimes the bible can be offensive and difficult to swallow.  What we must always remember is that the bible is God's inspired, inerrant, holy word.  It must not be added to or be taken away from.  God does not require that His word conform to what people want it to say.  God requires that HIS people conform to HIS word(Romans 12:1-2).  With that said, let's review what the bible has taught us.

The biblical God is a fan of biblical marriage!
It was His idea!  He is a fan of man and woman joined together in an unbreakable, covenant union.  A covenant union that is designed to glorify God and help to populate the earth.  He created the idea, He blessed the idea and the subjects of the idea, and He said that it was good.
(Genesis 1:27-28, Matthew 19:3-9)

Biblical marriage is designed with a purpose!
What is that design?  First, it must be the union of a male and a female.  Second, the male and female should be believers.  Third, each member of the union must recognize their God-given role and the instructions for that role. Fourth, the Gospel is central. (Matthew 19:4-6, Ephesians 5:21-33)

The Gospel is central!
God's design for marriage is centered around the Gospel.  The sacrificial love of Christ for His church is the example of the kind of sacrificial love that we are expected to exhibit, one Christian to another and one spouse to the other. We must understand how we were designed as individuals and what the design of our roles in marriage are.  We must understand that just as we are dead in our sins and cannot come alive unless Christ makes us alive; none of what is expected of us in marriage can be done appropriately without the empowerment of God's grace through Christ's death and resurrection.(Ephesians 2:1-10, Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:10)

Sacrificial, selfless, love is required by God.
Maybe you are struggling with a spouse who is not living up to the biblical definitions of their role. Perhaps you are struggling with an unbelieving spouse or a maybe your marriage is struggling sexually.  All of these struggles, along with all of the other above points, have been addressed in greater detail in the previous posts, scripture references and all.

What is certain is that when Jesus came to earth, He gave all while being despised and rejected by the majority.  Many say that God's love and often that Christ's love is unconditional.  This is simply not true.  The condition of God's offer of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, comes in the death and resurrection of Christ's perfect life alone, for the glory of God alone.  It is not free!  If you are a believer, you are not your own, you were bought with a price.  Christ's blood shed on the cross paid the price for the sins of the world so that eternal life would be made available.

That's right!  The love of God the Father and God the Son is not unconditional, but it is sacrificial.  God is not asking anything of you, no matter how bad it may seem, that Christ did not experience.  Jesus knew temptation.  Jesus knew betrayal, rejection, emotional hurt, and physical pain.  He understands it and He will see you through it.  As a believer, He does not expect you to do it by yourself.  As a believer, God's grace is always working in and through you to accomplish His good purposes. (Philippians 2:12-13)

I don't need Jesus, my marriage is doing fine by itself!
Perhaps, during this process, you have thought, "I have a perfectly happy marriage and I don't have to think about all this stuff.  My wife and I are good people who love each other and treat each other well and we don't even consider the application of any of this spiritual, Gospel-centered marriage hype."   Maybe.  But rest assured, whether you believe it or not, that the benevolent love of God's common grace to all people is the only thing that keeps mankind from totally annihilating themselves.  It is not because you carry all the power within yourself to do good.  God restrains any evil that does not run rampant, anywhere, including your marriage.

Happy wife, happy life is not enough!
Regardless of what you think, one other thing is true.  You can live a happy, good life with a happy, good marriage and still go to hell.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the live.  No man comes to the Father but by me!(John 14:6)

I don't want that for anyone.  This series has been a bit pragmatic in the "How to have a better marriage biblically" kind of way.  I admit that.  But, the Gospel has been present throughout.  All of it has been Christ-centered.  The reason for that is because no success in this world has any meaning eternally apart from Christ.  I have not helped you at all if you apply some of the principles found in this series and never have a relationship with a living Savior, the Eternal Bridegroom himself.  You will not be a part of the bride of Christ if you are not in a saving and surrendered relationship with the Groom that makes it all possible to begin with.

Please, go back and look at the post entitled, "Wanna Save Your Marriage?, What is the Gospel?"(Part 3).  Not for me, but for you.  Make sure you understand what the Gospel is.  2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves and make sure that we are in the faith.  It is ok to assess your life in relation to biblical truth and look for areas that either point to proof of saving faith or the lack there of.  Even if you come to the conclusion that you are in fact saved, there are always areas that are not yet perfected and we should always be looking to strive for repentance in new areas of our walk in order to ensure that we are living a life worthy of the gospel(Philippians 1:27).

Find joy in the Father!
Last but not least remember, in the words of John Piper, that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him".  As believers, the greatest way to be most at peace in trials and suffering is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.  The greatest way to ensure you are walking in unselfish, sacrificial love is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal. The greatest way to ensure that you are walking obediently to God in your marriage is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.  The greatest way to ensure you are living a life worthy of the gospel is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.

The greatest way to walk with the best possible satisfaction at any given moment and to experience joy unspeakable and full of glory(1 Peter 1:8) is to remember what Christ did for you on the cross and through His resurrection.  Not only that, but to remember that, while He died for all who would believe, Jesus' ultimate goal was always the glory of His Father.(John 17:5)

Jesus always found His greatest satisfaction in the glory of God through loving obedience.  That was, and is, His ultimate goal!

If this series has helped one marriage to grow or be restored, or more importantly; if this series has helped one individual to discover a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then it has been worth it.

If you have not read the whole series yet and you would like a fleshing out of these points, parts 1-8 can be found under the October and November tabs on the this blog page.   I pray it has been and will be a blessing.  Thank you for your time.

In Jesus name,




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wanna Save Your Marriage, (Part 8) Intimate Submission

SEX! (blush, blush) ;-/

A subject that is critical for your marriage and for the glory of God in your life.
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 is a passage of scripture written by the Apostle Paul specifically regarding married sex between man and woman.  He has just finished writing on sexual immorality and now he is speaking to moral sex as ordained by God.  I will not type the whole thing here but I encourage you to read it.  I was hesitant to speak to it but I am aware that, just as it was in Paul's day, there is a problem among many married couples of maintaining a healthy sex life.

Now I am not an expert i.e. a sex therapist etc. nor do I pretend to grasp every area of the bible that speaks to healthy love making between a married couple though I do know that there are some i.e. Song of Solomon..  I am well aware however, that in today's world of self-gratification and instant-gratification, there is a selfishness that can permeate even to the bedroom and that couples have experienced marital problems and even divorce because one or the other was not "taking care of the needs of their spouse".  This is a problem.

There is so much more to this topic than can be addressed here.  Please know that I am not under any delusions that this is a simple topic.  However, the overarching point is the same as the rest of these posts on marriage.  In marriage you must commit to selfless service of your spouse, always with the glory of God as the highest priority in every area of your life, while trusting Him to be all satisfying.  If God is all satisfying, then everything else will be icing on the proverbial cake verses some inalienable right that we should fight for, no matter the cost.

Authoritarian surrender of your body and loving submission to God
The gist of 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 is this:  If you can stay single, do it.  If your gifted with the ability to be celibate great.  You will be free do more for the kingdom in some ways if you do not have to worry over a spouse.  However, if you burn with passion and cannot exercise self-control, then you should marry.  Once married, you should not withhold conjugal rights (sex) from one another except for an agreed upon time, and that for prayer.

Now, this is where it get's dicey and some will be offended.  Paul states that the reasoning for not holding out on each other aside from the tendency of increased temptation is this; your body does not belong to you!  The husband has authority over the wife's body regarding this matter just as the wife has authority over the husbands body.  In other words, each spouse has the right to desire and expect that their sexual needs will be satisfied by the other and neither has the right to be unwilling to help in this matter.

Remember that this is not a power game.  This is yet another area that we are to love each other and submit those things in which we have been commanded to submit by the Lord, as unto the Lord.  Ultimately you are not giving in to your spouse.  Ultimately, it always comes down to a matter of loving obedience and submission to Christ who gave his life for you.  When you consider that He died so that you might live life to the full, isn't it silly to pridefully and selfishly fight the system that He ordained to help create this full life?

A Healthy Marriage Hangs in the Balance!
So why was this important enough to blog about?  Consider this.  If we are built to desire one another, and we are also spiritually ordained and responsible to satisfy each others desires; and one spouse refuses the other, it will not be taken as a simple no.  More often than not it will be taken as a resounding NO!  This cuts straight to the heart and self-esteem of a given spouse.  A heart and self-esteem that we as spouses are responsible for cherishing and guarding from harm.  So when we are harmed by the one who means more to us than anyone else in this world, it can create a huge wound.  This is important because if this issue does not serve as a reason for divorce, it will certainly feed other issues if not help to push the rejected spouse into the arms of another.

We are still responsible!
Let me be clear, as I hope I have been in the previous posts.  I am not advocating that this should be an issue to divorce over and I am certainly not condoning allowing yourself to succumb to adultery.  This challenge manifests itself in many forms.  Sometimes sex is used as a weapon to manipulate.  This corrupts everything about it and should never be done.  Sometimes there is emotional damage that affects someone's ability to be intimate. Often there are biological reasons that cause people's sex drives to change.  In any case, the bible makes it clear that, married or otherwise, we are responsible to God to be faithful representatives of Christ's sacrificial love, no matter what anyone else does. So if you are not being taken care of in this area, then alongside possible counseling and healthy discussion about the matter, much prayer, meditation on the word, and striving to find your satisfaction in God is a must. A lack of intimacy is not an excuse for ungodly, disobedient behavior.

If you are the one who is lacking desire, here are some thoughts.  I have no doubt that a part of you feels justified in not doing something that does not interest you.  There is probably a part of you that also recognizes the flaw in that lack of desire as a partner in a marriage covenant.  I do not want to beat you up for your lack of desire because I realize that you may not even understand it yourself.  The only exception that I can foresee there may be to what I am about to say would be if you have a verifiable medical condition that makes it difficult to perform as male or female in the marriage. I do recognize these challenges.

However, as with any other biblical command, as a believer, remember that you are still responsible to make every effort to hold up your end of the bargain regarding your spouses satisfaction, whether you feel like it or not. You must also pray, feed on the word and maintain a relationship with your redeemer that, if biblical, should correct some issues in time. Not only should it feel natural to want to satisfy your spouse, but that is part of what you committed to when you made your vow, in the marriage covenant.  A vow not only to your spouse but before God. So whether you feel like it or not, if you selfishly ignore that responsibility, you are not only harming your spouse but you are acting in direct disobedience to the word of God.

As always, I do not wish to simply come off strong, beat you up, or seem insensitive.  You may say, Josh you just don't understand.  To that I say, trust me.  Most marriages if they last long enough have moments that make this topic one with which many can identify.  That is true of myself as well.  Even if it wasn't, God's word is God's word.  We must not make excuses for disobeying it by trying to discredit the experience of the deliver of that word as it were.  If your greatest desire is God's glory then you will strive to learn to be satisfied in Him when everything else in life is letting you down.  You should learn to be satisfied in Him whether everything is hunky dory or not.

God loves you.  He knows what's best for each of us.  He created this sacred act of love so that we could  be fruitful and multiply and grow in intimacy together.  The latter cannot stop just because we are done with the former, as is often the case.  So love your spouse selflessly, just as Christ loves you and died for you selflessly.  In order for this thing to work we must press into our relationship with the one who created it and who best knows how to make it work for you.  So press into Jesus.  Rest in Jesus.  And, trust Him to work all things together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to His purpose(Romans 8:28).

In Jesus name,


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wanna Save Your Marriage (Part 7), The Unbelieving Spouse

While I have already touched on this somewhat, I want to consider what scripture says about a marriage in which one spouse is a believer and the other is not.  In 1 Corinthians 7:10-17, The Apostle Paul dovetails his teaching on a healthy sex life between a married, believing husband and wife, with the relationship of a married believer and non-believer.

Let me preface this with 2 Corinthians 6:14 which states, "do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers". Now, while the context of this statement has no direct correlation to marriage, it can certainly apply.  It is often used in relation to marriage while it's larger context regards any and all relationships.  It isn't that we should not associate with unbelievers but that strong bonds or partnerships should not be made with them to include marriage.  As we will see, however, this does not permit a believing spouse to initiate divorce with an unbelieving spouse.

Divorce Between Two Believers
He begins with this statement in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, "To the married I give this charge(not I but the Lord):  the wife should not separate from her husband(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife."  This was contrary to Roman law which would allow "no cause" divorce.  Unfortunately America has lined up with the Romans of that day by giving us "no fault" divorce.  Between believers in a marriage, biblically speaking, divorce and remarriage with someone else is not really an option, short of the case of adultery.  And I believe that forgiveness and at least one second chance should be encouraged, even in that case.  God commands us, as believers, to honor our covenant commitment and fight for our marriages.   This is not popular however, this teaching came straight from Jesus (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).

Divorce Between A Believer And Unbeliever
In 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, Paul goes on to flesh out the idea that if a husband is married to an unbeliever or a wife is married to an unbeliever that they should not divorce the unbelieving spouse.  He states that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified via the believing spouse, as are the children.

Here Paul is suggesting that the overall lifestyle of the family will likely be influenced in a more holy fashion by the presence of the believing spouse, NOT that the unbelieving spouse will be justified before God(i.e. get to go to heaven) by the believing spouse's faith.  However, if you are doing all you can and the unbelieving spouse decides to leave and divorce the believing spouse then the obligation is broken.  The believer may, but is not required to, pursue the marriage even further.  In the case that they have decided further pursuit will not be beneficial, they are released from their commitment that they may marry again to a believer.

I have spoken, I believe, at length regarding this matter as it has been tied into discussions in other posts.  I had not however, actually dealt exclusively with this text and this topic alone.  I felt it was important as I believe there are quite a few people out there that may be struggling with just such a scenario.

As always, I want to encourage you to fight the good fight of faith.  Pray hard, live out the love of Christ, know the word of God and lean on Jesus.  Learn to appreciate the grace of God in your own sinful life and then pray for that same grace to be poured out in the life of your unbelieving spouse.  God is the only one who can change their heart and He loves and responds to the prayers of the saints.  Albeit not always the way we think He should.  Continue to strive to understand satisfaction as found in Christ when it is not found anywhere else.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  Miracles can and have happened in marriages such as the one's discussed.  As I have said before, God is a fan of marriage. He wants to see you succeed.

If He releases you by way of allowing the unbelieving spouse to leave, then so be it.  Until that time comes, again, fight the good fight of faith for your unbelieving spouse.  His answer may still be yes.  That is God's will according to the scriptures.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Persecuted Church 2013

Hello Everyone.  I pray you are all well.

Christian churches around the world have set apart the month of November to remember and pray for the persecuted church through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).  Since November is upon us, I wanted to interrupt the series regarding marriage and draw attention to the persecuted church, aka. "The Beaten Bride of Christ" which is barely an afterthought for many Christians today.

I receive emails from a a number of different resources.  Among them are The Voice of the Martyers, Gospel for Asia, Open Doors Ministry, and Christian Aid.  Let me tell you, we need to pray for the persecuted church around the world.  There is coming a day when we will face persecution in this country the likes of which we have never known.

As an American Christian culture we get concerned when a song is repeated too many times or the service runs past noon or maybe if someone sits in our seat.  And don't dare challenge our religious rituals or even the scriptural relevancy of our beliefs.  Many Christians who don't get hung up on that stuff still live in blissful ignorance of the number of people around the world that are dying for the things that we take for granted.  Many of the great men and women of the bible died defending the Christian faith.  Many unknown men and women of faith are dying every day standing on the name of Jesus.

I believe that God is calling the church to get down to the business of the Gospel here in America and stop trying to please all the people that aren't really interested in true Christianity.  Jesus said that if we are truly following his commands, obeying him, spreading the Gospel that we WILL make enemies.  Even here in America.  We WILL be hated.  We WILL be persecuted.  So if we are not experiencing this then perhaps we should re-evaluate our obedience.

I don't mean to sound like I'm fussing but this is a serious issue that I believe needs a serious tone.  There are enough voices out there babying the mediocre, self-centered, lukewarm, half-asleep Christian culture.  These voices are spoon feeding a milk-laden, man-centered Gospel that does nothing to glorify God.  Instead of challenging the church with the serious meat of the word that will cause them to have growing pains but will cause them to mature, they are singing them lullaby's of Good News, grace without law, that makes them aware of having nothing more than fire insurance.  

I am aware of many professing "Christians" who are out there sitting under sound teaching and are still choosing to ignore the teachings and warnings of their Pastors.  They are biblically ignorant and happy to remain that way.  If they read the whole bible over and over they would come to a realization that much of what they believe doesn't hold water.  If they would come to church and their bible reading earnestly seeking to know what God says and not looking for whatever will reinforce their beliefs and forgetting the rest, they might actually grow.

I believe that God is giving America a call to arms spiritually.  In a country where Pastors are being thrown in jail on shaky grounds, based on shallow complaints surrounding assembly and discipline of children, we need to get ready.  In a country where people are told that they can't stand on a street corner and proclaim the Gospel or they might be arrested, to say nothing of the persecution that already exists in some countries surrounding the subject of homosexuality, we need to get ready.  No longer can we sit idly by and keep quiet.  We will be tested.

I encourage you to check out some of these sites listed at the beginning.  It will open your eyes to a whole big world that is not friendly to Christianity.  It will make you all the more grateful for the freedom you have here in America, for now.  And, perhaps it will cause you to ask God to help you get more serious about obedience to Christ in your own life and to begin to pray for those who are suffering or dying daily for their obedience.  If you think you are not guilty of this, don't kid yourself.  This may seem harsh but the truth is, the majority of American Christianity, does not spend a lot of time thinking about the persecuted church.  I am writing this and I believe I could do better.  So don't allow your callous ignorance to continue.  Make a change today and choose to live a life worthy of the Gospel.

In Jesus name.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Wanna Save Your Marriage(Part 6) The Wife's Role

Hello From An Ally!

I realize from the beginning that some may already have their guard up.  Today's strongly feminist culture does not exactly lend a hand to the idea of biblical womanhood.  It also does not help that many, many men have no idea what it means to be the spiritual head and have biblical authority, thus it has been abused tremendously.  In many households there is a real tug of war happening that makes both people miserable and robs God of the glory He deserves.

If you have not read my post regarding the husband's role, I invite you in fact, I beg you to do so as it will clarify for you any concerns you may have regarding my conception of what the man's God-given role is as husband.  You can find it here.

You Are Incredibly Valuable!

In hopes that you have let your guard down enough to hear what I have to say, let's get started.  First I would like to challenge you and encourage you by saying that as the woman in your marriage, you can be an honorable helpmate or a horrendous hindrance.  You have the capacity to make or break your husband in many ways.  

God can and does intervene.  He certainly will not allow any more hindrance than he has already planned for.  I say this because I want you to understand the power that God has given you as an ordained helpmate for your husband.  
Proverbs 31:10-11 says, "A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."  

It goes on to describe the many endearing qualities of a wife who works hard both inside and outside of the home in many different ways to help take care of her family.  She is praised by her husband and her children call her blessed.  I don't know many woman who do not want that response from their family.

What If You Are Not Valued Appropriately?

Now those results, in my experience, presume that the husband is not only a believer, but is dedicated to being a loving, godly husband and is helping to raise children who will recognize and appreciate the value of their mother.  

What about the times when that is not the case?  What about those unfortunate times when the wife, maybe mother, has to look to God as her only source of love and adoration.  What are God's instructions to the wife of a disobedient husband; whether he is a believer or not?  What does God say about how to treat a husband who does not value his wife.  

This is a husband who is not loving his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church and is not striving toward making her holy by the washing of water with the word.  He is selfish, thoughtless, if not down right insulting, and harsh on a regular basis.

What then?

Submission Is God's Idea, Not Your Husbands

Ephesians 5:22-24 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

Colossians 3:18 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."

Now, before you bug out and begin reacting strongly to the word "submit", let me clarify a couple of things.

1.) Submission is not the same thing as obedience.  Nor does it suggest inferiority.  Submission speaks simply to levels of authority.  Jesus is submitted to the will of the Father but He is in no way inferior to the Father.  The church is to be submitted to Jesus but at no time is the church spoken of as inferior.  The church is the bride of Christ and He died for her.  The church submits to Christ because she loves him and wants to honor his love for her.

2.) Your overarching responsibility is to Christ.  Notice both of these verses state submission to your husband being "as to the Lord" or "as is fitting in the Lord".

What Is The Purpose Of Submission When My Husband Is Not In Line With God?

1 Peter 3:1-2 says, "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of  them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."  

Why should you?  What do you care if they are won over?  They are treating you poorly. What is your motivation?


1 Peter 2:21-25, has just gotten finished describing that all of us, men and women were like sheep gone astray.  When people were hurling insults at Jesus and He was enduring the suffering of persecution and the cross, He made no threats.  He did not retaliate.  Though we rejected Him, he bore our sins.  

Vs. 21 states, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  

Though that passage is to both genders, after this passage, Peter then begins his instructions to wives to be submissive, in the same way.  Showing sacrificial love in hopes of winning your husbands over.

Once again, as husbands and wives, we submit and selflessly love out of our love for Christ and what He has done for us, regardless of the behavior of our spouse.

Humility Breeds Compassion

In Romans 12:3 Paul states, "For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

I did not use this scripture in my post to husbands, and in it's context, it is not speaking directly to marriage.  However, I did make this point to husbands as well.  Humility of heart is key in your Christian walk regarding everyone you engage.  It should be of special importance in your marriage.  

Jesus was humble of heart(Matthew 11:28-30) and He is our example.  If we remain continually aware of where we would be without God's grace it will humble us and should create an attitude of gratitude.  Gratitude for the grace that saved you from being the wretched sinner that you were and carries through the process of sanctification in which you become more and more like Christ. 

This realization should help us to have compassion for anyone that is struggling with any areas of sin.  Even if that sin is against us.  

This should be the case all the more toward our spouses.

Stick With It...SAFELY!

Perseverance is key in any good marriage.  Just like it takes a lifetime for Jesus to get us (the Church) where He wants us to be before He takes us home, it takes a lifetime of God-submitted effort to have an enduring marriage to enjoy.  

Yes, there are rough spots.  There are sad times and mad times.  However, sometimes the mad times can create dangerous times.  Most often this is a case of danger for the wife because of a mad, drunk, or high husband with a hot temper whom is inclined toward abuse.

Now, I want to make this point very carefully.  Submission does not mean that your husband can demand anything of you that is contrary to God's word.  Nor does it mean he can walk all over you. 

You are not a doormat and you can say so!
Image result for pics of you are not a doormat
At the same time, scripture also does not suggest that an abusive situation is an acceptable reason for divorce.  Many do not agree, but I promise you, it is not in scripture.

There are only two biblically acceptable reasons for divorce.  One is adultery.  The other is if one spouse is an unbeliever and they choose to leave the marriage, the believer is not commanded to follow.  These are allowable, but not mandated.  God's ideal scenario would be that we stick it out and love them and pray our spouse through it.

With that said, I do not believe that just because divorce is not condoned in the case of abuse, this means that you have to stay in an unsafe situation.  

At this point, family and your church elders need to get involved.  They need to provide you safety, and they need to challenge this disobedient, abusive husband.    

As the wife, scripture says that even in this scenario, you are to show the love of Christ at every opportunity.  If he leaves and insists on remaining unrepentant, then you are off the hook, if you want to be.  I have known several women in this kind of scenario that have testimonies of sticking it out, loving their husbands, praying for their husbands, and seeing them get saved and their marriages restored.  It can be done.  However, it requires a strong relationship with Jesus that is fed by prayer and the study of His word.


When all else has failed and you don't know what to do, pray, pray, pray!  "The effective prayer of a righteous person has much power"(James 5:16).  

When you think you can't take it anymore and you just want to give up, pray, pray, pray! "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you"(James 1:5).  

"Pray without ceasing"(1 Thessalonians 5:17).  

"Pray with thanksgiving and praise"(Psalm 95:, Philippians 4:4-7).  "Thanksgiving for what?" you might ask.  Thanksgiving that even when you feel alone, you are not alone.  Jesus is right there loving you and giving you strength.  God said he will never leave you nor forsake you and because of that we should have courage.(Deuteronomy 31:6)

And of course the most important example is Jesus who gave us the Lords prayer when asked how we should pray(Matthew 6:9-13).


I hope this has been illuminating, if not helpful.  Just as with any relationship, our marriages require commitment, work, and an intimate relationship with a Holy God and a Suffering Savior.  One who can identify with our pain and suffering; and has the ability to be strong for us in our weakness.  

That is, of course, if we want our marriages to be all that God intended them to be.  You have to want it badly.  Also, remember that you are a precious, valuable commodity.  Part of what makes that so is your God-given gift to be what your husband needs, even when he does not know he needs it.  

You are his helpmate.  God put you with your husband because he made you to compliment him and strengthen him in his weaknesses.  That makes you unbelievably special.  As you grow in grace through that experience, you will learn things about yourself that you could not have learned any other way.

It's Not Always Pretty Or What Makes Us Happy

Our success in difficulty also depends on our ability by God's grace, to find satisfaction in God's glory in every situation, even if it means that situation has to be negative for a time.  As I mentioned toward the end of the post entitled "How To Suffer Well", when we understand that our greatest satisfaction will be found when God is most glorified in our lives, then we will want to be in God's will in the most biblical way possible.  

Keeping God's glory in view helps us to have our aim on something other than our own happiness.  This will help drive biblical obedience which will then result in the best possible scenario for our lives.  It is in our best interest to honor God's zeal for His own glory because 
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"-John Piper.

I will end with Philippians 4:4-7 because it is one scripture that exemplifies the idea stated above, in some ways it defines the whole post.  It says, 
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

May it be so in your personal walk and in your marriage.

In Jesus name,