Tuesday, December 30, 2014


This is my Mom's picture either at high school or college graduation.  Either way she was beautiful on the outside and people that knew her then say that she was just as beautiful on the inside then as the day she died.

My Mom was a faith-filled woman whom loved Jesus with all of her heart.  She was a wonderful mother and, alongside Dad, raised us up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Though she would say that she had nothing to do with it, I know that they both prayed us into the relationships that we all have with the Lord and with each other at this time.  They have both been overjoyed to watch their children grow into faithful followers of Jesus who are living their faith out loud in their given contexts.  

You always knew, that you were loved and you always knew that she had an ear that was available to listen to your celebrations or your woes at any time.  She loved and doted on her children, children-in-laws and grandchildren every chance she got.  I was so blessed to have Cindy Newton as my mother and I know everyone else in the family feels the same, whatever the relationship.

At her funeral, there was an incredible outpouring of loving lauds and praises from friends and family alike.  She and Dad had only been attending there church for about a year and a half but the impact their lives have had simply by being a part as been significant.  So many stated that they were encouraged and blessed by simply knowing my mom simply because of the way she carried herself and the selfless, faith-filled love with which she treated everyone she met.

It does not seem real that she is not with us anymore and while I know that many times it hits home later and people have really hard times with loss, somehow I don't think it will be that traumatic for most of us.  God has blessed us with such joy in remembering her and peace as we experienced her passing.  She had no anxiety about death nor significant trauma as she passed.  It was a very peaceful process as these things go.  She anticipated being in heaven with her Savior.  We know now that this expectation has been realized.  We know that she is with our Lord, seeing Him face to face, pain free and full of joy.  I like to think that her glorified body will look something like the picture above.

Obviously these truths do not remove the pain of loss or change how much we will miss her, but they do a lot for the healing process.  She would not want us to live our lives wishing her back.  At this point, I am sure she would not want to come back, nor do I want her to leave heaven to come back and satisfy my selfish desire to have her here.  She would want anyone who loved her and whom she loved to remember what was most important to her: family and Jesus.

Her greatest desire for anyone, but most importantly for her children and their families, is that they would live healthy, disciplined, joy-filled lives in which they are able to live long, enjoy each other, and bring glory to God in all that they say and do.  I for one want to satisfy that desire and I know that my siblings agree.  She would also desire that anyone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior would come to know Him.  She would say that there is no greater joy than that.

May it be so in Jesus name.

These are pictures of a wonderful and timely family photo session that we had in May 2014 as we celebrated my parents 40th wedding anniversary.  I included captions under the first two pics for identification.  Please enjoy, remember a most wonderful woman and witness her most prized possessions.  Blessings.
Me, my sister Katie, Mom, Dad, my brother Zack, and my brother Andy

On bottom row are in-laws and grandchildren:
Tracy, Angie, Ryan, Alex, Brian(behind Katie), Melissa,  Josiah(Melissa's arms), Abby(Zack's arms)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Despair and Holiday Sadness, Christmas Hope and Christmas Gladness

Hello Everyone.

This post is not inspired merely by the recent news that this may be my mom's last Christmas with us.  Many of you have responded to that news with much encouragement and prayer for which I am very grateful.  

As many of you know, I work in a hospital emergency room.  This time of year it can be a very sad place to be.  At times, it has been very difficult for me.  Every year there are sad stories but thisyear it is really catching my attention a lot for some reason.  I have wrestled with it a bit and none of it has even directly impacted me at this point.  So I wanted to share a few brief thoughts on the matter and maybe bring a little hope as well.

Holiday Despair
This time of year it is often believed and reported that suicides go up due to holiday depression and despair.   According to the CDC and Healthline.com this is actually inaccurate.  According to these two sources, December really has one of the lower percentages of suicide however, there actually  an increase after the holiday season.

Depression comes in many degrees but once it becomes despair, a person is in real spiritual, emotional, and physical danger.  Despair robs people not only of joy and hope, but reason.  They begin struggling to think straight.  Their emotions run a muck.  If they are unbelievers, they have no source of hope outside of themselves.  If they are believers, then they tend to forget who their source of hope is.  That is why suicide happens among Christians and non-Christians.  Despair is no respecter of persons.

Holiday Sadness
The last month or so has seen so much tragedy all over this area in the form of accidents, murder, suicide, and then just plain illness that people succumb to.  If the stats are right then it must not be that it is happening so much more.  Rather it must seem more severe because all death and loss seems more tragic during the holiday season  It may not be reasonable but many feel that way and this year I have too.  

There are so many in need of hope and joy.  So many who are spending this holiday season either dealing with the loss of a loved one or praying hard that they will not loose a loved one who is ill or injured.  Could it be that this bothers me more this year because my own mother has been wrestling with so many health issues?  Perhaps, but I think it is subconscious if that is the case because I am not aware of intentionally linking the two.  

So where do we find joy?  In this world filled with tragedy and this season filled with loss, how are we to keep hope alive?  There is but one answer.

Christmas Hope
The reason for the season is the reason for our hope.  Jesus is the source of hope.  But he cannot simply be a fleeting idea or whim that people latch on to this time of year.  Nor is he a name that we call upon merely when we are in want or need.  Colossians 1:27 says that the mystery of the gospel is "Christ in you, the hope of glory".   Jesus must be on the inside, birthing hope in our hearts.  

Even then, it is not enough to simply believe.  Christianity is a relationship with a living Savior.  The only way to build that relationship and create a solid foundation that will carry you through the darkest nights is through study of the word and prayer.  Faith and hope run hand in hand and "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"(Romans 10:17).  This is not a reference to soul saving faith only, though it certainly should include that.  This is a reference to enduring faith.  Faith which, after walking with us through the valley of the shadow of death, carries us out of those shadows and valleys to soar on the wings of eagles taking us to mountaintops.  

This is why I write and preachers preach so much about application of the word in faithful living.  It is not because these are commands of some tyrant who will destroy you if you don't follow them.  It is because these are the words of a loving Savior, who was also a suffering servant "who gave His life as a ransom for many"(Matthew 20:28).  It is in these words that our understanding of who God is, is found.  It is in these words that hope is found.  And, it is in prayer and communion with this loving Father and Suffering Savior that relationship is built. 

Christmas Gladness
That relationship is where our hearts are made glad.  An intimate understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings the knowledge that, as true believers, there is coming a day when we will spend eternity with the Prince of Peace.  There is coming a day when all fear, sorrow, pain, and suffering will cease.(Revelation 21:4)

As believers we know that we have been born again to a living hope.  We know that we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.  We know that this inheritance is guaranteed, and kept in heaven for us through the power of Christ's resurrection.  Even without seeing Christ face to face, we are blessed with a faith and knowledge of Him and His Gospel which produces in us joy unspeakable and full of glory.(1 Peter 1:3-9)

This holiday season should and can produce such joy and gladness, even in spite of trials and tribulations we may be going through.  As we consider the celebration of the coming of our Savior, let us share this joy and gladness with others.  Let us spread the Good News of Christ's love.  In so doing, we not only have the opportunity to present the hope filled news of the Gospel to a lost and dying world, but we remind fellow believers of that same Good News.  

The Reason for the Season
Christ was preordained before the dawning of time to come and be born in a manger in Bethlehem.  He was predetermined to live the perfect life that we could never live in order to become the perfect, spotless lamb that could be sacrificed for our sins.  He was predestined to be crucified on our behalf, becoming the propitiation that would satisfy the wrath of Holy God toward our sinful rebellion.  

THEN HE ROSE.  By the power of the Holy Spirit He came OUT and demonstrated the conquering power that He has over death and the grave.  After a little more ministry to His disciples, He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He prays for us continually.  

This is the basis for our hope.  Our future hope is found in the knowledge that HE WILL COME AGAIN!!!!!  

If you are not a believer know this, You can have this hope.  You can have this relationship. Surrender your heart to Jesus and place your hope and trust in His work on the cross.  You can know joy that transcends any suffering.  Joy that carries you through the storm.

If you are a believer, never forget this: 
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, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
In this holiday season I rest in the joy that I do not have to succumb to despair and sadness.  Because, in Jesus, I can experience tremendous joy and gladness.

May it be so for you in Jesus Name.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

What is Christmas All About? Understanding Advent


The Question.

"What IS Christmas all about?" That is the question I never asked which God brought to bear on my heart and mind about a couple of years ago.  It's not that I did not know the basic Christmas story that was revealed to me.  I simply had not thought of it from a perspective that moved beyond the manger.  Others don't know the story at all or have any idea that there is a different perspective either.

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 of these ministries, the first of which, my father was the pastor.  While I believe that this perspective is important, it does not necessarily have to be spelled out at Christmas time every year.  It really needs to be taught the whole year through.  With that said, it is the seasonal practice of Advent which caused me to think more deeply.  This is why I felt it was important to flesh out thoughts about it here.

 Advent seems to be one of those seasonal faith themes that is practiced more by some churches than others.  It does not seem fair to narrow it down by denomination because I am using a wonderful Advent app on my Ipod that is based on the Advent curriculum from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.  This church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is also being promoted by The Gospel Project website which is multi-denominational organization.  I say of all that only to give some background as to my experience and exposure to this faith based, seasonal celebration.

Other protestant denominations such as Presbyterian and Methodist seem to keep Advent as part of their church calendar celebrations.  I believe Roman Catholicism does as well.  Whether they all give it the same weight or not I do not know.  What I do know is that Advent, when properly understood, should paint a much larger scale picture than just a baby in a manger.  For some, this is the sum of what they think about when it comes to Christ and Christmas.


The word Advent means "to arrive" or "coming".  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 historical narrative of redemption in the bible.  In fact, many call the return of Christ the "second advent" or "second coming" because it will be final "arrival" which consumates the story and brings all His children home.

I have learned much about this narrative and the importance of understanding it properly.  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.  So I figured, if I have been in church all of my life and had not properly thought through this truth and it's application, perhaps there are others.

The Greater Question.

The fact is that Advent is the answer to the question, "What is 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?"  If they don't ask those questions, we should suggest them.  Then we can 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.  This Advent app is a great way to do that.  

The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent - LifeWay Reader

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. 

Advent as Evangelism

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 and enjoy Him forever.  God blessed man and gave him the authority to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.  

His instructions of what not to do were minimal.  In spite of these instructions, Man was deceived by the evil one and disobeyed God.  This brought the curse of sin, death, and destruction into the world to be experienced by all of creation.  

However, 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 one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  

Throughout the Old Testament, God provides prophecies about the coming of His Son.  This is known as the first Advent.  His Son would be known as the Messiah.  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 be a righteous branch springing up from a broken or cut down tree.  He would not be esteemed.  He would be despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief 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.(Isaiah 53)  

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 to all who would believe.  After a little more time with His disciples, 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. He will destroy the evil one and every consequence of sin will be wiped away as the new heaven and the new earth are created.  He will bring all of those whom have put their faith in Christ to reign with Him forever in glorious perfection and endless worship."

Only By God's Grace

Or something like that.  It doesn't have to be quite that detailed in order to get the point across.  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, because I know it is all of grace.  God has saved me and God is helping me to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus.  It is also a thrilling adventure in which I play a part.

It is like being on a boat, on which I have to work.  Sometimes I have to row hard.  Sometimes I have to work a little to get the sails up and then I get to relax a little as the wind carries me along.  Sometimes there are sunny days, sometimes there are stormy seas.   However, all the while God is giving me strength to work and is keeping me safe for eternity.  He is ever at the helm, navigating and steering my life where He wants it to go.(Philippians 2:12-13, Psalm 37:23) 

You Can Do It Too

I want to encourage you to consider this.  1 Peter 3:15 says, "But in your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 

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.  Be ready to have genuine, knowledgeable conversation about this season which draws the Old and New Testaments together.  Be ready to make known the awesome plan of redemption that God had in place from before time began and glorify Him for it.(Ephesians 1:3-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10)

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 with joy and drives us to share this awesome story with a lost and dying world.  This in hopes that many of them may come to possess this same great hope and share this gospel with that same joy!

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Prayer for Ferguson

Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name, 

Please make your presence known in Ferguson.  In some way, reveal yourself, that they may know what true love, equality and justice is.  It it not found in color, race, crime, or any innocent or guilty verdict found in our flawed court system. It is found at the cross, through the blood of Jesus. 

Lord, we know that the events that played out to bring about this controversy and create such friction and devastation are a direct result of sin.  Regardless of what the true story is, the disunity in that community is the fault of a larger number of people than any will admit too.  The believers in this community must take a stand in prayer and peaceful actions. 

We who truly understand the travesty of injustice that was enacted against your Son, on our behalf, do not allow injustice of any kind to trump the love that you call us to display.  

We understand that we all deserve a guilty verdict in your eyes.  We understand that we are all condemned to a spiritual death sentence because of our rebellion against you, the Holy Creator of the universe.

We understand that unless the grace of God is poured out on us and our spiritual eyes are opened to believe in the one who brought the only true justice that can be had, we will suffer the consequences of our unbelief.  

Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we could never live and died the death that we all deserve, taking upon himself all of the wrath that the Father has toward sin, for those that will put their trust in Him.

He conquered sin and death so that we don't have to be subject to it's power and; we don't have to walk in hate and malice, acting with rage toward each other.

He died so that the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control could become obvious proof of the salvation that is ours through our belief in his life, burial, and resurrection.  

He died and rose again so that forgiveness would be made available.  Not only that it would be made available to us from the Father, but that we would be able to forgive those whom offend us....No matter the offense.

This is not always easy, but if we truly understand the great love by which God gave us His Son, we will not begrudge showing that same love to others.

Matthew 6:9-13
Father, please cause your peace to reign and your glory to be made manifestly clear in Ferguson and throughout this country.  Use this tragedy to draw that community and this country to you.  

In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Familial Idolatry and Christian Hedonism. What Are They and How Do They Relate?

Jesus's Call To Action

The world we live in today is wreaking of biblically selfish, destructive behavior that passes itself off as tolerant and loving.  Whether it be justifying separation and divorce or lobbying for toleration regarding homosexuality and gay marriage, all are being excepted as the norm.  Many in Christian circles dare not even speak to these things as it might be considered unloving.

People have struggles and are already down.  How dare we call out sin and challenge people to overcome it.  How dare we call people to biblical discipleship, if they consider themselves to be Christians.  And heaven forbid anyone should call us to account for our sin.  Oh no, "ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME", many will say.

Well I say that, even as so many are calling for love and toleration and are using Jesus's "red letter's" as their justification for it, that Jesus actually drew a harder line of expectation for sacrifice and obedience than most want to consider.  Let's see what He says.

  • Matthew 10:34-39 says:  Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  An a person's enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will loose it and whoever looses his life for my sake will find it.
  • Luke 14:26 says: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 

Now why do I bring this up?  What does this have to do with Familial Idolatry and Christian Hedonism, which is what I titled this post?  "I don't even know what those words mean", you might say.  This is important because the joy and deliverance that is needed for so many is found in dealing with these very ideas.  Idolatry is actually at the root of many of the relational failures that we see in our day.  Looking for joy and satisfaction in all the wrong places is at the root of this idolatry.  It was for me.

I would ask that you stay with me and see where I go with this.  It may shed light on your situation.

What is idolatry?

Pastor John Piper, as part of the ministry of Desiring God, contributes to an app called "Ask Pastor John".  In this ministry people write or call in with question and he tries to answer them in usually 5-8 minutes.  He answers this question pretty effectively here.  I would encourage you to check it out, but in essence he uses Colossians 3:5-6 to flesh out the idea that idolatry is bound up in our most fleshly desires which kind of culminate in covetousness.  The gist is that God hates all the things listed in this passage and will pour out His wrath on these things.  Why?  The reason is essentially because He is a lovingly and righteously jealous God according to Exodus 20.  Jealous both for His greatest glory, as well as our greatest pleasure.

Anything that is prioritized above Him or steals from our ability to be entirely satisfied by Him is idolatry.

Familial Idolatry Steals God's Glory

Now, the reason that I started the way I did is to point out Jesus' stance on putting anyone in the family in a higher status of relationship than God.  Why is this important?

Often times we hear this thought process used in the name of not allowing love of family to supplant obedience to God regarding ministry, missions, church attendance, giving, serving others, etc.   And there is certainly a place for that.  I have certainly recognized that my own disobedience to God over the years has often come from that very inappropriate prioritization.

This would be the part of God's jealousy regarding idolatry that steals glory from Him.  For certain, there is a balance.  The whole of scripture puts great emphasis on love, respect, and selflessness within the family unit.  We are to minister to each other's needs and serve within the appropriate roles that are given us within the family.  We should all be sensitive to, not only whether we are loving God more than each other, but also in considering whether we are influencing another person's disobedience in the same way.

No matter how much we care for our loved ones, it must never trump our love and obedience to God. If this happens, we are then guilty of familial idolatry.

Familial Idolatry Steals Our Greatest Pleasure

It is John Piper who coined the phrase that is the summation of Christian Hedonism.  It goes like this,
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
Hedonism in and of itself is all about maximizing net pleasure in life.  It essentially makes an idol out of pleasure, causing it to be the end goal of much of our efforts.  Hedonism underlies most of what America is about, i.e. "the pursuit of happiness".  Happiness and pleasure are lumped together in this.

Christian Hedonism is all about pursuing our ultimate pleasure in God's glory.  Learning to be satisfied in Him when all else fails us.  The challenge is that we can still make that concept all about us.  The prosperity gospel twists this idea by making obedience all about the blessing.  It makes it all about what we are getting out of it.  At some point that comes up short because our goal is still too shallow and it puts the focus on our pleasure rather than on God's glory.

What really makes the idea of Christian Hedonism work comes when you gain an appreciation for all that God has done for you in Christ Jesus; and you become jealous for His name to be made glorious in your own life.  You decide, no matter what challenge you are facing and no matter how it works out, that you are going to pursue satisfaction in whatever give's God the most glory based on His word.  Even if it is not what you "think" you want.

If we are putting faith into action by striving to obey God's word and seek His glory, then that desire will inevitably drive our actions.  Let's take two examples:  marriage and parenting.


I believe that one of the greatest reasons for strife and ultimately divorce in marital relationships is this covetous idolatry and a lack of satisfaction in Christ when we are not getting our way in this covenant union.

James 4:1-2 says, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel."

One of the most common reasons quoted for divorce in this country is "irreconcilable differences".   One lawfirm suggests that 60 percent of divorces are for this reason.  They define most irreconcilable differences as, "any conflict that the couple cannot or does not want to resolve in order to save their marriage".

The root of this problem is two fold.  One, a given spouse elevates the other spouse to a place of need that they were not intended to meet.  They have often placed them on a pedestal.  Once that spouse drops the ball, then the offended spouse places all the blame on them for their own dissatisfaction and unhappiness.  This is where the idolatry becomes apparent.  The second problem is found in the misunderstanding of where ultimate joy, satisfaction and purpose must come from.

Granted, scripture teaches that marriage is a union and that we are expected to compliment each other through emotional and spiritual support and stability.  We are to provide some degree of satisfaction and met needs emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Because of sin these things are always in flux and there are times when needs are not met sufficiently.

Consequently, the spouse whose needs are not being met in any given area becomes frustrated and often embittered.  This is because that spouse is coveting satisfaction and often self-esteem in their spouse beyond what they were intended to provide.  They have placed far too much emphasis on a sinful individual for their total needs to be met rather than finding their identity and ultimate satisfaction in Christ.  On some level their purposes have been misdirected toward serving or being served from a man-centered perspective, rather than serving or being served from a Christ-centered perspective.

They then begin disobeying God in the way that they respond to their spouse's mistakes. They have idolized their spouse.  Because their spouse was the ultimate source of their joy instead of God, they begin feeling resentment, jealousy, bitterness, and anger.  However, because idolatry and covetousness corrupts slowly, we are often not aware of it.  We are blind to our own sinfulness and busy blaming our spouse for all of our problems.  Quite often, this leads to us responding in whatever way we feel serves us best, rather than considering what response best represents the gospel.


Similar challenges come with parenting.  Here, we are the authority.  Here, we have incredible amounts of affection, dependence and forgiveness being demonstrated toward us by our children. Then they begin to grow.  As they do, their own sinfulness becomes more and more apparent.  If we are not careful, we become embittered by their sinful behavior and we forget our own sinful behavior.

We idolize them because we get accustomed to their unconditional love and innocence when they are small.  Then as they get older and dare to begin being truly defiant toward our authority, we find ourselves not only challenged but feeling hurt as well.

We will find ourselves justifying what are truly impatient and unloving actions or words because we are the bosses.  We are the authority figures and we expect to be respected as such.  However, we are far to harsh and unkind far to often.

Must we discipline and correct?  Of course, but we must remember the loving kindness and patience that our Heavenly Father shows us as he guides and corrects us.  He continually reminds us of our need for Him and of the grace that He poured out on us through His Son Jesus Christ.

This is the example that we must set for our children.  We must help them to be aware, not only of their own sinfulness, but of ours as well.  We must teach them that we have the same tendencies to disobey our Heavenly Father as they do to disobey us.

We must make parenting about teaching them to depend on God's grace for their own obedience just as we must. We must teach them that, no matter how often they fail, we love them and so does God.  We must teach them that their eternal security does not depend on their righteousness, but on Christ's.  We must point them to prayer and the study of God's word for their success in obedience.  We must teach them to desire God's glory to be made manifest in their own lives, that their joy may be made complete in Him(John 15:10-11).

A Firm Foundation

In reality, the problem in both of these relational situations is that we forget whom the ultimate object of our affection and satisfaction should be.  We forget from whom our purpose flows.  It does not matter if it is a spouse, child, Mom, Dad or anyone else of significance in our lives.  Everyone in our lives will fail us because everyone in our lives is a sinner.  

The only perfect person was Jesus Christ and He is the only one whom we should be looking to.  If we do that, then no matter what else happens, our world only comes crashing down so far because our foundation is built on Christ.  He is the only one who has died for our sins. He is the only who has never forsaken us.  


If we allow any action of a family member to affect our obedience to God, they have become an idol. If we allow disappointment or frustration with a family member to rob us of our ability to find sustaining joy in our Savior, they have become an idol. 

If you seek God' s glory first and foremost, even over your own satisfaction, then you will crucify your emotional, physical, and psychological turmoil and you will obey the word in spite of the trial. Ultimately you will find your situation being rescued because you kept God in the drivers seat rather than taking matters into you own hands.

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him!"

I pray your joy is made completed in your obedience to Christ.