Category Archives: Christianity

Why Eve Came from Adam’s Side

We can call bitter “sweet,” if we want. bitterThat’s nothing new. (See Isaiah 5:20.) But this semantic violence fails to produce anything more than confused thinking: changing labels does not change essence.

If we call homosexual union “a marriage,” then we need another word for this: God’s design for one man and one woman to reflect the harmonized diversity within God’s one essence and to suggest the creative power of that unity.

The Biblical definition of marriage is much more than a legally recognized relationship of emotional and sexual attachment. Marriage was designed to reveal the very nature of God.

1040039_shoesGod’s image is uniquely reflected in the union of male and female because the fullness of the Godhead encompases both masculinity and femininity. It is ironic that the homosexual community promotes the word “diversity” because a core problem with homosexual union is its lack of that very thing. The beauty of both musical and marital harmony lies in the rich complementing of differing notes or genders, not identical ones.

Why did God create Eve from the side of Adam? There was purpose in that: since Eve came from Adam, their union was able to represent oneness instead of “twoness.”

 

 

Encouraging Your Husband Spiritually

How can you encourage spiritual growth in your husband?

You could try leaving ID-10081339tracts on your husband’s pillow, reading Scripture loudly when he walks by, or keeping yourself busy by attending lots of church functions. You could, … but please don’t! It won’t work, and both of you will be miserable! Fortunately, God has given some trustworthy directives that won’t backfire. We can use the acronym RAPID to list several ways in which you can bless your husband, whether he is a believer or not.

Respect your husband. You may not respect everything that he does, but you can always respect the man God created him to be because he is an immortal spirit made in the image of God Almighty. Be continually aware that your husband is created for greatness and honor. He is designed for strength and success. Stay in awe of that.

Maintain a “zero-tolerance policy” against critical or demeaning thoughts of your husband in your own mind and spirit. Rehearse to yourself the truth of his great value. See his failings as brokenness and spiritual captivity, not as personal attacks that threaten your spiritual well-being.

Accept him. Accept him for who he is at his core.  Keep a warm “welcome” in your spirit to your man. When you communicate to him, “I accept you, and I desire you,” then your holiness becomes beautiful to him and can attract him to God.

Pray. Pray for yourself, and pray for your husband. Pray for insight into your husband’s needs and for wisdom on how best to minister to those needs. Pray for God to show you how to respect your husband in ways that are meaningful to him. Pray for God’s work in your husband’s heart–not that your life will be more pleasant, but that his life will be more blessed.

Invite your husband. God has designed wives to be like fragrance, inviting their husbands into holiness. We are called by God to be magnets that draw our husbands to God; we are not called to be whips that drive our husbands to God.

Your faith will be inviting to your husband when it makes you inviting–that is, joyful, pleasant, and cooperative. A woman who is critical and unhappy does not make her God appealing.

ID-10034285Determine to enjoy him. Make it a matter of your will, not your feelings. Insist upon enjoying him. “Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day …” (Eccl. 9:9, MSG). Focus on strengthening your friendship with him.

Become a 1 Peter 3 woman. God will give you a resting, calm spirit as you trust Him. Draw your strength and encouragement from Scripture, from prayer, and from godly girlfriends who will encourage your marriage commitment.

Be assured that God wants you right where you are to serve Him in a very powerful and significant way. God will be faithful to meet your needs so that you are then able to minister to your husband.

May God bless you in special ways as you serve Him in your marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Want a Husband who Leads?

Women, do you ever wish that your husband were more of a leader in your marriage … or more involved with the family? If so, you are not alone. Women often say that they long for their husbands to become stronger leaders; some wives even say that they feel desperate for their husbands to show greater leadership in their homes. If you would like to encourage the leader in your husband, here are several things that you can do:

1. Recognize that you probably have relational abilities that your husband does not have in the same way that you do. That’s okay; he has abilities that you don’t have. Look for the unique strengths that he does have. Appreciate the ways in which he contributes to the family according to God’s design for him. His gifts are different from yours, but that it is good because that means that your family is doubly blessed!

2. Continue to graciously invite your husband to be involved with the family, but refuse to be resentful if he declines. Look for ways of connecting that work well for your husband, and gently build on those. Let go of the ways that aren’t comfortable for him right now.

3. One of the greatest blessings you can give your children is to teach them to honor their father. You can do this both by instruction and by modeling.  “Translate” your husband’s hard work (and other commendable things) as active love to them. Help them to see and to appreciate his ways of showing love. It is possible for children to be more harmed by mothers who model dishonor than by fathers who work long hours.

4. Often, when women say they want their husbands to be leaders, they mean that they want their husbands to do certain “spiritual” things. But wives should feel free to let go of their expectations and their sense of need in this area. When God says that the husband is “the head” in a marriage, this means that the husband is responsible to God for the well-being of his wife. This is an accountability issue between the man and God; it is not, as women often think, a particular list of chores for the man, such as leading family devotions or praying each night with his wife. Those are great things, of course; but that is not the core issue of headship.

5. A woman strengthens her husband’s leadership by following him. She doesn’t make him a leader by leading him. As wives, our assignment is to cooperate with our husbands more than to correct them.

scaffolding6. A woman is most powerful in advancing God’s work in her husband when she prays for her husband and serves him according to his needs. As wives, we build a platform when we trust and obey God; upon that platform, God then builds marriages and men.

7. We were designed to invite our husbands, using the fragrance of “purity and reverence,” into a deeper relationship with God; we were not created to push them into it. The goal of a godly wife is not to change her husband; it is to make God attractive to him. She does this by letting the Spirit shape her into a woman who is peaceful, honoring, welcoming, and supportive. It is often a woman’s warm acceptance of her husband and her unconditional respect for him that most compellingly draws him to her God.

God has encouragement for you! He wants you to trust Him, to be content with His timing and His plan, and to be satisfied with His goodness and faithfulness to you. Your quiet, steady trust in God and your respectful building-up of your husband will create a platform upon which your husband can grow. When we take our shaping hands off our husbands and instead put uplifting hands and prayers under them, then God is able to be the Shaper. He will shape our spirits, our marriages, and our joy.

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Who is getting your crumbs?

Are you giving your spouse your best “bread” or the leftover “crumbs”?

When Jesus spoke with the Greek woman about the children’s bread and the pet dogs under the table, He was not belittling her; He was explaining His priorities and being faithful to His calling.

Our spouses are our first priority and our highest calling. We want to give our best attention and energy to our spouses.

Who is getting your best “bread”?

 

 

Delight and the Power of Yada (Part 3 of 3)

That the Creator of the universe should desire to know us deeply and to love us in the knowing is amazing. That He should desire that we know Him deeply and love Him in the knowing is staggering. God comes to us with His desire to know when we bring to Him our desire to be known. God longs for us to respond to His desire to be known with our desire to know.

Convinced that His love toward us is absolutely unfailing and completely trustworthy, we can lay ourselves fully open before the Lord. Believing that His love is perfect casts out our fear so that we are able to lay ourselves bare before God, refusing to run, refusing to create inner noise, and insisting instead on being still in His Presence. In this safe place, we find that His correction to us, if needed, is not condemnation; it is liberation. When Lazarus emerges from the grave, he is not shamed; instead, he is welcomed, and the binding strips of cloth are removed from him.

But there is more–much more. Within this yada relationship, there is this:

I lay my entire self open before God to be known and to be loved by Him. From head to toe–from inside to out–every pore of my spirit is laid open before Him. As the sun can penetrate and warm everything that is laid in its rays of light, so God comes to all of me that is willingly laid before Him–laid before Him with my full trust of Him and with my eager desire for Him. Where I submit, He loves me well, and there is healing in that loving. Where I yield, He loves me well, and there is joy in that loving.

Every part of our lives that is willingly opened to God becomes spiritual thread that God uses to weave us together in connection with Him. God uses our willingness to be known and our desire to know Him to knit our spirits in union with Himself. Such union is both the power and the delight of yada.

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To Know: the Power of Yada (Part 2 of 3)

The Hebrew word yada can be used broadly to mean “to know.” However, it can also be used in a specific way to refer to knowing personally and directly. Yada often means involvement, revealing, or relational intimacy. It can even refer to physical intimacy, as in Genesis 4:1: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (KJV).[i]

We learn through the Scriptures that God desires a yada relationship with us.

He wants to know us through direct involvement and committed relationship, creating spiritual intimacy with us. In Amos 3:2, God tells Israel, “You only have I known.” Yada here must refer to a special type of knowing, for certainly God has knowledge of every nation. God’s knowledge of His people is an exclusive experience.

Not only can God know us in an intimate way, but He offers Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözéseto be known by us in a personal way. Unlike Adam and his descendants who have a propensity for hiding from covenant partners, God offers to reveal Himself to those who have committed themselves to Him. After establishing a friendship with Abraham, God asks Himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” God decides that He will not hide His plans from His friend; instead, He will reveal His intentions to Abraham. God explains, “For I have known [yada] him” (Genesis 18:17, 19, NKJV).

Several hundred years later, God announces that He is going to reveal Himself further to the Israelites: for the first time, He will let His covenant people know Him by His personal Name. He tells Moses, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known [yada] to them” (Exodus 6:3, ESV). This is a profound offer of personal disclosure and relationship.

knowIsaiah writes that God’s people have been chosen to know (yada) Him (43:10). Another prophet, Jeremiah, tells us that God will give us “a heart to know [yada]” Him (24:7, NIV).

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 begins with repeated amazement that there is nothing that God does not know about the psalmist. Certainly, God knows every detail of our lives, even when we are heavily masked, cleverly camouflaged, and deeply hidden in our best burrows. Yet at the end of this beautiful song, the writer invites God to know (yada) his heart and to know (yada) his thoughts. Having first acknowledged God’s factual knowledge of him, the psalmist is now asking for God’s experiential knowledge of him. Before God, to whom all things are laid bare factually, we can bring ourselves to be known experientially through relationship.

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[i] Vine, W.E. Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Nelson. 2005.

 

Hiding and the Power of Yada (Part 1 of 3)

Rough bark scraped across the man’s bare chest as he rushed to crouch in the gathering darkness of the trees.  An unfamiliar sense of guilt threatened to suffocate the man. His frantic attempts to cover himself had failed to ease his shame, just as the thin veil of dusk did nothing now to stifle his panic. With every beat of his heart, the man felt the urge to hide hammering throughout him. Suddenly, he held his breath.

“Adam, where are you?”

And so began our long history of hiding.

Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, and all of humankind since then has shared in this hiding. In shame and in fear, we hide from God in spirit and from one another in soul.

Yet we were not made for hiding; we were made to be known. We long desperately to be known–fully known–and to be loved in the knowing. Despairing, though, of finding someone who will both know us well and love us well, we cling to our places of hiding, hoping that these will be safe, even if solitary.

When we were enemies of God, hiding was consistent with our position as lovers of darkness. But then the unexpected happened: the Son of God entered the darkness with us. He took our reasons for hiding and made them His own. As Christ became hidden from God in death, our reasons for hiding were destroyed.

There is, therefore, now no need to hide (Romans 8:1).

hiding

Our shame and guilt have been swallowed up by Christ Himself, and our fear is dissipated in the light of His intense love.

But even now, as friends of God, we hide from Him. To our own immense loss and to God’s great sorrow, we hide. In busyness, niceness, denial, and noise, we hide.

When invited to open ourselves in honest self-disclosure before God, we cry out, “But, Lord, there will be a terrible stench!” Just as Martha was afraid to open the tomb of Lazarus, so we fear opening to God areas in our lives that we have preferred to conceal. But to keep them closed to God means that those areas will suffer increasing decay.

However, when we are willing to open these places to the Lord, then the infinite kindness and power of God work miraculous healing in our tombs of rebellion and tombs of grief.

As surely as Jesus called to Lazarus, so He calls to us to come out.

We are invited to come out into the light of freedom, where we may be released from our life-stifling wrappings of fear and shame.

The deep longing of our hearts to be known is not unique to us as men and women, nor is it random. It comes by deliberate design, for it reveals the very heart of the One in whose image we have been made: it is the deep longing of God Himself to be known and to be loved in the knowing. This is the stunning message of Scripture.

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Seen Any Pictures of Worship Lately?

How can we best understand the essence of worship? There may be no better illustration of spiritual worship than physical marriage. What marriage is between a man and woman is what worship is between God and His people. Although marriage and worship are expressed in and enhanced by activity, both marriage and worship are primarily matters of relationship.

In marriage, I choose a man to be my husband, I commit to belonging to him, I celebrate him, and I value him above all else. This tells me what it means to worship God! To worship God is to choose Him to be my God, to commit to belonging to Him, to celebrate Him, and to value Him above all else.

In our marriages, we love by eagerly serving, by giving ourselves for another’s delight, and by delighting in another. We live lives of worship as we serve God eagerly, give ourselves to Him for His delight, and delight in Him.

Marriage is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with another human being; worship is how we participate in an intimate covenant relationship with God.

 

How to Change Your Marriage … Right Now

How do you see your marriage–as a power struggle? a fight for your rights? a duty? a trap? Let me suggest a radically different perspective. What if you saw your participation in your marriage as an act of worship? If you will see your “wife-ing” or your “husband-ing” as an act of worship, your marriage will become a whole new thing to you.

Romans 12 tells us to present our bodies to God as acts of worship; we can do this with our marriages, too! We can offer to God our involvement in our marriages as acts of worship. With each action and each thought toward our spouses, we can say to God, “I present this as an offering to You.”

Worship involves choosing and valuing. Husbands can worship God by saying to Him, “I will love this woman by sacrificing myself for her because I choose You as my God and because I value You above all else.” Wives worship when they say to God, “I will respect this man and prioritize his needs because I choose You as my God and because I value You above all else.”

When we “do marriage” as an act of worship, nothing is ever wasted; nothing is ever lost; nothing is ever in vain. Even bitter circumstances are fully redeemed in the sweetness of worship. Ugly hurts are transcended by the beauty of holiness. Acts of love which cost us deeply become the expensive perfume which we are pleased to pour on the feet of Jesus. Every act of genuine worship enriches us; every time we love our spouses as an act of worship to God, we are enriched.

In our marriages, we want “love as worship” to be a consistent lifestyle, not sporadic incidents. We are committed to this worship whether or not our spouses join us in this perspective. Yielded to the Spirit, we embrace our marriages as sacred places of deeply profound worship.

Leadership Skills of a Dancing King

King David of Old Testament fame earned stellar marks as a musician, warrior, and king; but as a family man, he quite nearly flunked. However, on the day that he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he dramatically demonstrated several characteristics of a godly husband and father:
1. David set aside his royal robes of position and put on the linen robes of a priest (1 Chronicles 15:27). Successful husbands and fathers do this when they lay aside their “I am the boss!” robes to wear the priestly ephod of service. As priests, these men bring the needs of their families to God, and they bring the holiness of God to their families.
2. David honored God by honoring the ark of the covenant; David clearly placed high value on the things of God (1 Chronicles 16:1). Successful leaders in the home evidence great reverence for God and spiritual matters.
3. David celebrated and worshiped God with all his heart (2 Samuel 6:14). Now that is excellent leadership right there! A leader in the home is powerful when his family watches him worship God with his whole heart and with great joy. (Dancing in the street, as David did, is optional.)
4. David offered sacrifices on behalf of his nation, just as godly leaders are willing to make sacrifices for the good of their families (1 Chronicles 16:2; Job 1:5).
5. David blessed the people and gave them gifts of food and of joy (1 Chronicles 16:3). Can anything compare with the blessing of a godly father?  A strong leader speaks blessing into the lives of his family, and he supplies for them both provision and celebration.
6. David took responsibility to ensure regular observation of prayer, thanksgiving, and praise (1 Chronicles 16:4). Successful men do the same for their families.
On this special occasion, David served as a commendable leader for Israel, and he would have done well to have shown the same type of leadership in his family. Men today who exercise godly leadership in the home are worthy of our applause and respect. They surpass King David in this area, whether they dance or not.

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Frozen to the Sword

Does anyone remember reading about Eleazar, the son of Dodai the Ahohite? Probably not–but he was an incredible warrior, one whom we would do well to consider. According to Old Testament accounts, Eleazar was one of David’s “mighty men.” In a battle against  the Philistines one day, “the men of Israel retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground.” Not only did he stand his ground in the middle of a barley field, bravely facing the enemy onslaught, but he “struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.” And here’s the rest of the story: “The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.”  (2 Samuel 23:9-10, NIV)

Perhaps you are an Eleazar, fighting spiritual opposition and feeling overwhelmed in the battle. Perhaps there are those who should be standing with you but who have retreated instead. As you stand there, keep your hand on your sword, which is the Word of God. Keep your hand frozen to the sword. Don’t let go of the Scriptures for even a moment; hold on to its promises and commands and prayers.

Eleazar must have known that dropping his sword or even loosening his grip on it would have meant defeat for his cause and certain death for himself. We, too, must know that our spiritual well-being and success depend on this sword of God’s Word: we conquer by clinging to its truth, or we suffer defeat by losing our grip on it.

Stand strong, “Eleazar.” Though your hand grow tired, keep it frozen to your sword. “And the LORD will bring about a great victory.

 

To the Husband who Seeks Reconciliation

I salute you!

reconciliationYour heart for reconciliation reveals the very heart of God, and your faithfulness to covenant reflects the faithfulness of God, which “reaches to the skies.” We will break our loyalty to our covenant partners the day God breaks His loyalty to us, His covenant partners.

I commend you for your commitment, even though it means battling upstream against the culture and against spiritual forces. Instead of harming you, this struggle will instead strengthen you into the greatness for which you were created.

When a man makes a covenant vow to a woman, he is bound before God to thatreconciliation commitment until death breaks the bond. Even if his covenant partner loses heart, he can remain committed to her, regardless of what she does, and remain committed to peace. Without pushing, pulling, or demanding, he can stand with his feet planted in unshakable, unmovable commitment to the partner. Her reactions do not change his commitment. The covenant-keeping husband, even when divorced, can be a rock of commitment to his covenant partner. He is willing to suffer for her good. His goal—his unchanging goal—is to love well.

God will fully satisfy and delight you. He may use your covenant partner to do that, or He may not. It does not matter how He does it; He will do it. He will do it so that you know that He is the great Treasure; anything else would be deception and disappointment. He knows how to love you, and He knows how to love you well.

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Ps. 3:3, ESV

“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Ps. 84:11, NIV

Cheering for you,
Tami

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Forget Your Marriage!

Forget your marriage. 

Why would someone who is committed to encouraging marriages tell you to forget your marriage? What I mean is this: Focus on your spouse, not on your marriage.

Trying to achieve a certain kind of marriage can make us crazy! This is misplaced energy; we are actually off-target when we are focused on the marriage itself. We do not take our marriages with us to heaven; we take people with us to heaven. We have been called to love someone, not to create a particular kind of marriage.

Focus on loving your spouse, serving his or her needs as God directs. This will have the effect of blessing your marriage, of course; but you will have a much healthier focus. You can thrive when you let go of trying to manipulate your marriage and instead focus on valuing your spouse. Your spouse is the real treasure, not the marriage itself.

When I say, “forget your marriage,” what I mean is this: Focus on what your loving looks like, not on what your marriage looks like. As we stand before God, we are not responsible for the condition of our marriages; we are responsible for the way we serve in our marriages.

We can torment ourselves by continually measuring our marriages against our version of the ideal marriage. We can live free from that! Instead of evaluating our marriages, we want to evaluate ourselves as husbands and wives. As we ask God for insight into the needs of our spouses, we also ask God to enable us to minister to those needs according to His wisdom and purposes.

(adapted from Radiance: Secrets to Thriving in Marriage)

The Emotion that Devours, continued

When we are wronged, how can we handle our anger? We answer that best when we look at what God does when He is wronged.  John Piper considers this in his book This Momentary Marriage: “But even though God has never done anything that legitimately pro­vokes our anger at him, what has he done about the breakdown in our relationship with him? He has taken initiatives to heal it—initiatives that were infinitely costly to him” (p. 151).

When we are wronged, we can reflect God by thinking like this: “In my spirit, I will walk towards this person in love. I will join Christ in this situation. I am willing to suffer so that this person can be healed.” Just as Christ was willing to suffer in order to love me well, so I can be willing to suffer in order to love others well.

Although the work of atonement was completed at the Cross, the work of redemption (turning ashes into beauty) and sanctification (turning self-centered, diseased people into Christ-centered, healthy people) is ongoing. It is an awesome privilege to be invited to partner with God in His work. Not only does He promise to reward us well, but He promises that He Himself will be our great reward. There is nothing greater than that!

This means that when I am tempted to be angry about what is happening to me, I can instead yield to the Spirit so that the situation belongs to Him and not to me. Not only does this allow His power and wisdom to replace my weakness and foolishness, but this also changes the suffering of that situation into His suffering, instead of mine.  Double-yoked with Christ, I delight in being drawn nearer to Him; sharing in His sufferings, I delight in bringing pleasure to Him as the desires of His heart are being fulfilled.

   In summary, here are the three things that help me to combat anger and gain richness instead:

1. Recognize that my enemy is my anger, not what someone else has said or is doing. It is my bitterness that devours my soul.

2. Choose to be an active giver, truly believing that the best blessings come through giving.

3. Choose to join Christ in His sufferings in order to love others well and to gain intimacy with Christ.

When we do these things through the Spirit, every bit of our lives can be infused with the beauty and joy of God.  That, I think, is awesome.

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The Emotion that Devours

In reading “my new favorite book on marriage,” I was interested to discover an entire chapter devoted to the topic of anger. Author John Piper bases much of his discussion in This Momentary Marriage on the Biblical directives given in Ephesians 5:21 through 6:4. When the apostle Paul speaks to fathers in this passage, he gives one strong warning: “do not provoke your children to anger.” Of all the things that Paul could tell fathers, why does he choose this one thing? Piper recognizes that anger is being highlighted here as a critical issue in the home.

As Piper points out, anger “devours almost all other good emotions. It deadens the soul. It numbs the heart to joy and gratitude and hope and tenderness and compassion and kindness.” When we work to conquer anger, not only are we freed of that misery, but we also “unlock” our hearts “to a dozen other precious emotions that make worship possible and make relationships sweet” (page 150).

There are three things that help me to combat anger and gain richness instead. Here are the first two:

1. Recognize that my anger is the enemy, not what someone else has said or done. It is my bitterness that devours my own soul, and it is my resentment that is bringing harm to me. Anger is  destructive when it is based on lies. We often choose to believe the lie that someone else is messing things up for us.  But the truth is that every single thing that comes  into my life, whether it is a trivial frustration or a horrible evil, can be used by God to advance His trustworthy purposes. Everything that God has allowed to enter my life has been charged by God to prosper me.

2. Choose to be an active giver, believing that choosing to give is a great gift to myself as well as to the other person. I can choose to give grace, forgiveness, patience, acceptance, and honor.  I can consciously choose to walk in love toward someone when my natural reaction would actually be to run away or to attack. When I choose to walk toward another in love, powerful things happen in the spiritual realm: the enemy is weakened, strongholds collapse, chains of bondage are broken, and captives are set free.

When we are mistreated or misunderstood or unappreciated, we gain an even greater opportunity to give and to create spiritual impact. That is why James says that we can “consider it pure joy” when we encounter problems or pain. Situations that tempt us to be angry are the very opportunities that allow us to give so that we are enriched. Our spirits are naturally ingrown—a condition which leads to decay and death. Giving is what heals the sickness of our spirits.

(We’ll look at a third way to combat anger next time.)

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My New Favorite Book on Marriage

“Yes! Yes! That’s right! That’s it!” That was my ongoing mental refrain as I read This Momentary Marriage by John Piper last week. It is an excellent primer on marriage, dealing with the most basic, most essential, and most profound aspects of marriage, such as the purpose of marriage, the key strengths of marriage, and the roles of headship and submission. I highly recommend this book! You can purchase the book, or you may download the free PDF of the entire book by going to the Desiring God website:   http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/this-momentary-marriage.

Piper does a great job of emphasizing the foundational truth of marriage, which is that marriage is a picture of the love relationship between Christ and His bride. On that topic, here are several excerpts from This Momentary Marriage:

Staying married, therefore, is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. “Till death do us part” or “As long as we both shall live” is a sacred covenant promise—the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God’s eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part. But Christ keeps his covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the ultimate thing we can say about it. It puts the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display.  (p. 25)

Marriage is not mainly about being or staying in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. It’s about portraying something true about Jesus Christ and the way he relates to his people. It is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel. (p. 26)

 Marriage is more wonderful than anyone on earth knows. … The reason we need the Spirit’s help [to understand the glory of marriage] is that the wonder of marriage is woven into the wonder of the gospel of the cross of Christ, and the message of the cross is foolishness to the natu­ral man, and so the meaning of marriage is foolishness to the natural man (1 Cor. 2:14).  ( p. 29)

 

A “Word for Your Marriage”

“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, RSV).

The apostle Paul gave this instruction to all believers in Christ. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out that these words also create an excellent guideline for husbands and wives to apply specifically in their marriages.  While imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II, Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to his niece, who was engaged to be married. In “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” Bonhoeffer gives this counsel:

Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your heart. … From the first day of your wedding till the last, the rule must be: ‘Welcome one another… for the glory of God’ ….That is God’s word for your marriage.

What a great application! The Greek word used in Romans 15:7 is proslambano, translated as “welcome” in the RSV, and as “accept” in the NIV. Proslambano means “to take to one’s self; to take as one’s companion; to take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart.” (www.blueletterbible.org)

Certainly, proslambano is something to offer to our spouses–especially to them! Continually, we can be welcoming to our spouses as we receive their presence with warmth and with gladness. We can receive them with kindness and grant them access to our hearts. Instead of sensing rejection or mere tolerance, our spouses can live “welcomed” by our spirits.

As our spouses interact with us, what do they encounter?

Padlock.

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 13: The Marriage Version (with my apologies to King James)

Though I speak to my spouse using diplomatic “I feel” messages and skillful conflict-resolution strategies, but do not love, I am become as sounding brass or as a car alarm that won’t shut off. And though I have an advanced degree in marriage counseling and understand the mysteries of why people do what they do and have all knowledge of psychology; and though I read a mountain of books on relationships, but do not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my good efforts to fulfill my duties, and though I burn up every drop of energy in being a great spouse, but do not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love is patient even when a spouse does not change; love is kind even when a spouse is thoughtless; love does not envy another marriage; love is not impressed with its own marriage skills.

Franciscan Fine ChinaLove does not save its “fine china” manners for company; love is courteous and polite. Love looks out of a spouse’s eyes to see from another’s perspective. Love is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil; instead, love assumes a spouse’s best intentions. Love does not delight in any threat to the relationship, but rejoices in healing and in strengthening. Love always protects the marriage, always believes that a spouse is priceless and made in the image of God, always trusts the promises of God, and is always confident that God’s grace is deeper than any need. Love never shuts its heart, never forsakes its covenant commitment, and never rejects a spouse.

Child rolled tongueLove never faileth: but whether there be prophecies that “you should move on with your life,” they shall fail; whether there be tongues that say that “your spouse is a jerk,” they shall cease; whether there be knowledge that “you deserve better than this,” it shall vanish away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became married, it was time to put away childish things, such as self-centeredness and quitting and valuing what feels easy.

For now we see through a glass, darkly, and there is much that we do not understand about our spouses, about ourselves, or about God’s ways; but then, face to face with God, we shall know fully what glorious things He has been doing through our marriages, just as He knows fully now how to love us well.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Playing Cards with God

What card are you holding in your hand? One day soon, you’ll play that very card before God.

Imagine this: As you stand before God one day, He says, “Lay down your card.” On the table before you, you lay down your ragged card, the card which you’ve been carrying around and using all your life. It says, “Judgment without mercy.” God then spreads out His large stack of cards, each one representing different moments from your life. As each one is laid down next to your “Judgment without mercy” card, you begin to realize that your card is now the evaluating standard for everything you have ever done, and the cost to you is going to be enormous.

Now imagine a different scenario: As you stand before God one day, you lay down your well-worn card. It says, “Mercy!” God smiles at you as He sets His stack of cards aside without even looking at them. Then He laughs, saying, “Mercy trumps everything!”

Which card is in your hand?

(My rendering of James 2:13 and Matthew 7:2.)

Head Signs

Old Testament Nazarites, such as Samson, wore long hair as a symbol of consecration to God. In the New Testament, married women wore long hair as a symbol of marital consecration. The Scriptures say that this sign of submission is important “because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10, NIV). Could it be that godly submission to a husband provides a wife with a spiritual covering which is recognized by angels?

The writer of Hebrews tells us that angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:4). Do angels see a spiritual mark, as it were, on godly wives, indicating that these are the ones whom the angels are to serve?

A man who is not considerate and honoring toward his wife loses spiritual strength; his prayers become impotent. (See 1 Peter 3:7.) Perhaps in the same way, a woman who is not submitted in spirit to the needs and glories of her husband loses the personal ministering of angels to herself.

Although the sign on the head need not be literal, the spiritual principle is firmly established: the way we obey God in our marriages has profound implications for our spiritual status—and, therefore, our entire being.

Responses to Nakedness (last time!)

When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, was He cognizant of the fact that He Himself would soon be in the same situation of being exposed before others? As He hung on the cross, Jesus experienced all of the varying “responses to nakedness.” There were accusers (like the serpent); there were those who mocked and sneered (like Ham); there were those who fled and “hid their faces” from another’s disfigurement (like the priest and the Levite); and there were a few who honored and ministered to the wounded one (like Shem, Japheth, and the Good Samaritan).

How do we, as God’s people, respond to revealed brokenness in our spouses? How do we respond to exposed neediness in their spirits and souls? We can reflect God Almighty, the One whose image we bear, when we do the following:

  • when we resolve always to move toward our spouses emotionally and spiritually,
  • when we graciously offer healing,
  • when we pour out from our own lives (although we are also broken and needy),
  • and when we resolve to bring honor to our covenant partners.

In hanging on the cross in nakedness and shame, Jesus did what the Good Samaritan could not do: He took the wounds onto Himself, took the nakedness onto Himself, and offered His own clothing and wholeness to the broken man. This is what God offers to do for each one of us: take the shame that we are trying in vain to hide with our flimsy fig leaves, and fully cover it instead with His own skin.

God’s response to our nakedness is to make it His.

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