Monday, December 31, 2012

Why Jesus Doesn’t Want You To "Ask Him Into Your Heart"

by Jefferson Bethke

I'll never forget it. I was in middle school. All around me were other middle school kids crying. Hardly anyone was standing. It was a powerful moment—so much so that even now when I think about it a range of emotions come over me. Where was I? I was at a youth camp. It was the last night where everyone "asked Jesus into their heart." Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" was playing while the camp speaker asked all the kids to bow their heads and close their eyes. He would then say, "ok whoever wants to receive Jesus repeat after me…."

Sound familiar?

Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?

Now first let me say this—I am not arguing in this blog that Jesus doesn't save through this method (because He clearly does). Also, John 1:12 would suggest we do need to receive Jesus in some way or another. But my question is why has it become so mechanical? So forced? So calculated? Receiving the grace of Jesus is a beautiful thing. We tell people it is free (which it is), but we forget to tell them it will cost them their life (which it will). I'm humbly submitting that this might be the main thing contributing to our lethargic, apathetic, and consumer based Christianity that's plaguing our nation right now.

Doesn't it haunt you that this "prayer" is never uttered in the New Testament?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

Doesn't it haunt you that people never made a "decision" but rather gave up all they had to follow Jesus?

Why is the life we are calling people to, so different from what the original disciples called them to?

When I first became a Christian about 4 years ago, the church I went to would give an "invitation" at the end of every sermon. It was very similar to the experience above. He would have people bow their heads and close their eyes, and "accept Jesus into their heart." He would then usually say something like "I see your hand, God sees your heart." I think about 15 people would get saved every service. At this time they were probably a 3,000+ person church with multiple campuses in a tiny town. I remember thinking after about a year, that if 15 people were getting "saved" a service in a town of around 20,000 this city should be upside down for Jesus. But Monday through Saturday nothing seemed much different. Why? Also why do they bow their heads and close their eyes? I struggled with the fact that if someone can't proclaim Jesus is Lord and that their heart has been changed by His grace in the safest of all places—a church full of people who already love Jesus!—then do we really think they would proclaim Him boldly out in the world, where He's hated?

Let me clarify though before my email inbox fills up with not so happy Christians defending this method. I don't care how you preach the gospel, as long as its the gospel that's actually being preached. Is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the focus? Is there blood? Is there cross? Is there persecution? 2nd Timothy 3:12 says all who seek to follow Jesus will face persecution. Too many times we proclaim "your best life now", instead of a rugged cross. If they are being called to more than a stirred heart, but called to an abandoned life, then by all means do it. But, people aren't being called to die for the sake of God's glory and His mission, then I'd be careful to call it the true message of Jesus.

Jesus isn't after people "accepting Him into their hearts" He is after people boldly giving up all they have and following Him by faith, death, and suffering.

Nothing makes me tremble more at night then knowing there are millions of people (most likely in churches) who don't know Jesus at all, and are being led to hell under the pretense that they are "good to go" because they prayed a prayer. In fact the main reason they stay distant from Jesus is that they think they've already "taken care of that." The truth is, if a boulder dropped on top of you, you'd look different after the fact. Why is it then that supposedly when the most glorious, holy, amazing, and beautiful infinite God of the universe "drops" on us we don't look any different? You are saved by grace, but real grace changes you.

Is that you? Do you actually know Him?

I'm not asking do you struggle or wrestle (you should) but I'm asking do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you want more of Him? Even if you are struggling, if you can answer yes to those questions, you are in a safe place. But, if you are simply clinging to something you did years ago, but you have zero intimacy with your Creator, I'd tread softly.

From now on what do you say we….

Stop asking Jesus into our heart, and start asking Jesus to change our heart.

Stop receiving Jesus, and start following Jesus

Stop raising our hand for Jesus, and start raising our obedience for Jesus.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"
Luke 9:24-25

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wearing White On the Wedding Day

Why do most brides wear white? Why should a bride wear white?
White has always been a symbol for celebration for some 2,000 years, as well as a symbol for happiness and joy on the wedding day. Most brides wear white to symbolize maidenhood. White is also the symbol of purity and virginity. Cream, Ivory and Pearl are also acceptable colors and they carry the same symbolism as white.

A bride wearing white on her wedding day means much more than simply physical purity. Yes, we make mistakes, but the Lord says that “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). While a woman may not possess her virginity any longer, she can still possess purity, because purity is much more than mere virginity. Purity is your actions before God and man with the man who you are going to marry. If a woman has confessed her sin and repented of it, it is no longer remembered by God, for He has said “I will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25). He has made her clean. He has granted her a second chance.

Because a wedding is a time for celebration, and represents the happiness and joy of the couple getting married, there is no reason why the bride should not wear white if she and her husband-to-be have guarded their purity with each other until God united them in marriage. A woman is able to wear white for all the reasons above as well as the fact that God has purged her, made her sins as white as snow and remembers them no longer. She may not be a virgin, but she has maintained purity since her mistake, being cleansed and made pure by God. If she and her husband-to-be are walking in purity in their relationship, there is no reason she should not be able to wear white.

A woman should wear white for the following reasons:
  1. White represents a time of celebration, which is what a wedding is.
  2. White represents happiness and joy, which is what takes place in marriage.
  3. White represents maidenhood, a woman's time of singleness prior to unity.
  4. White represents purity, your current actions (despite past mistakes) in light of God's forgiveness and granting of a second chance.
  5. White represents the cleansing of God, washing our sins from us and making them as white as snow.
A bride should wear white on her wedding day because God has cleansed her and made her as white as snow, giving her a second chance at purity; because their relationship will be guided by purity, and they can honestly stand before God and man and say that they remained pure with each other until marriage united them. White reflects not only physical purity, but also what God has done for and in us, as well as what we have chosen to do in purity. If Christ does not see His bride as tarnished when we commit sins, why should a bride have to appear tarnished despite her past sin? It is all washed white by the blood of Christ, forgiven, forgotten, and cleansed.

With that being said, the majority of weddings taking place today are mocking the sacredness of the marriage institution when the bride wears white. This is especially true of secular weddings. These women should not be wearing white because they are neither virgins nor are they maintaining purity. Any couples who joyously and habitually partake in fornication out of wedlock, when they get married the bride should be wearing any colour except for white. In fact, it would be most fitting if these brides were wearing black. If you are not pure or maintaining your purity, you have no right to get married in a white wedding dress! If you wanted to get married in a white dress, you should have thought about your actions earlier and repented of your sins, forsaking them and practicing purity until your wedding day. Then, and only then, do you have the right to wear white.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Is Marriage? What Does Marriage Entail?

Marriage is honourable in all!” Marriage is a sacred and holy covenant made between a man and a woman in the sight of God and men. It is a covenant that is made for life or until death separates you. It is a time where you invest your life into the life of another, seeking to fulfill their needs while helping them to grow in their relationship with the Lord and become more Christ-like in character. It is a time where you can genuinely and sincerely love another person from the heart and pour yourself into them. Marriage requires unconditional love, sacrifice, and great intimacy. Intimacy requires:
  • Trust
    • No lying
    • No going back on words
    • No changing
  • Truthfulness
  • Time
As the husband, it is my duty to be gentle toward my wife. After all, she is a precious gift from God. I am commanded to love my wife – at all times, in every way. Many today have this idea that their spouse must earn or be deserving of their love, but this command is given regardless of whether she earns or deserves it. I am to treat her like a queen – like she is the most precious gift on Earth. I am to respect her, cherish her, and adore her. It is my privilege and right to encourage her to become more Christ-like in her attitude, speech, behaviour, and every day life. I am to minister to her daily. I am to appreciate her in public. This will give great testimony to our marriage and will give outsiders a high view of how wonderful my wife is. I am never to speak negatively about my wife to anyone – friend or family – or to tell others of her flaws or weaknesses. I am to build her up in the eyes of others. Any negative things should be discussed between my wife and I only, and resolved between the two of us and before God Almighty. To bring these outside the marriage and discuss them with other people is to breech the integrity and honour of the marriage covenant and my promise to “uphold her,” which means to appraise her highly and valuably before others for her worth – those God-given qualities that God has instilled in her that make her a wonderful partner and beautiful wife. I am to guard her heart – at all times. It is my duty to protect her – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. God has entrusted me with this beautiful young woman, His daughter, and I am to look after her with the utmost and greatest care. I am commanded to love her as I love my own body. As a husband, if I want a harmonious marriage, it is my responsibility to obey God’s command to me and to “love my wife.” If I love her the way I ought, that will cure half the problems that many people face in their marriages.

As Proverbs 5:18-20 puts it: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A love doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” This is the key to a happy marriage. The woman you marry is the wife of your heart.

Men are responsible for the spiritual covering of their household. A husband should live marriage for what’s best for his wife – not himself. He should put his desires on the shelf.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Does It Mean To...

...Love Unconditionally?
To love unconditionally does not mean that if and when my wife sins I merely overlook it without saying anything to her. No, if I love her unconditionally, I will speak to her of her sin so that she might repent toward God and forsake her sin. Unconditional love seeks her best at all times. To love unconditionally means that if and when she sins, after having repented and forsook her sin, I am to forgive her and not hold her sin over her head or lord her sin over her as if I am perfect and never sin, which would be a lie. “The way in which you measure others will be measured unto you.” Even in her sin, I do not stop loving her.

To love unconditionally means that no matter what circumstances might arise or what tragedies might befall my wife, I do not give up on her and/or stop loving her. If she gets cancer and her hair falls out, I remain by her side, reminding her that she is still beautiful, pouring my love upon her because she will be in need of it, knowing that my love has not wavered for her and that I do not look at her any differently or any less. If she is in an accident that leaves her paralyzed, I remain by her side, showing her that she is still precious and worthy to me and that my love has not wavered, nor do I look at her any differently or any less. I continue bestowing my love upon her, letting her know that she is not a burden in any way to me and showing her that she is no less in my eyes and heart than she had been before.

Unconditional love does not give up on the other person, nor does it walk out when times get tough or trials arise and weigh down upon us. True love loves at all times in all situations without waning even an ounce. “Agapao,” the highest form of love, is a principle, a fact that relates to the will, a decision. “Phileo” is associated with fondness, emotions. Unconditional love is based upon “agapao,” whereas fleeting love, if it can be called love at all, is based upon “phileo.”

...Love Sacrificially?
Christ was the perfect example of sacrifice. If need be, the husband is to give himself up for his wife; he is to lay his life down for his wife, to protect her at all costs. Even die for her. But this is ultimate sacrifice. In every day life with his wife, he is to sacrifice for her, put her best interest before his own. He is to kill his selfishness and sacrifice his time for his wife. He is to show her honour.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Does It Mean To "Love" Your Wife?

At least twice in Scripture the husband is commanded to love his wife (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19). In the first, Christ is given as the example, His love being sincere, pure, ardent, and constant affection. Even with the imperfections and failures a wife has (and husbands have them, too), a husband is to love his wife in this manner at all times, which we can derive from the command given in 1 Pet. 3:7.

A wife might do things that boggle her husband, and he might wish that she were stronger in these areas than she is, but he is to understand that she is a woman as God created her. Her weaknesses are so the husband can come alongside her and be her protector and guard her in such areas. Husband and wife are complementary.

To love your wife is to place her first before yourself. That does not mean that you allow yourself to be walked upon by becoming placid, quiet, and submissive. No, the husband is to stand up for himself and be a fighter, a mighty man of valour. But as Phil. 2:3-4 says: “…count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you not only look to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” If your interests conflict, providing they fit the pattern of Phil. 4:8, then be willing to sacrifice your interest for the sake of your wife’s interest. For a wife to reverence her husband means that she does not tear him down, but that she must build him up.

In the second, husbands must love their wives with a tender and faithful affection. They must not be bitter toward them, not use them unkindly, not use harsh language or severe treatment, but be kind and obliging to them in all things. Husbands are to live with their wives in a wise and sober manner, not according to lust or passion. They must give due respect to her, protecting her person, supporting her credit, delighting in her conversation, affording her a handsome maintenance, and placing a due trust and confidence in her. To love your wife is to behave lovingly and peaceably toward her, cherishing her.

The word in Eph. 5:25 is “agapao,” the highest kind of love. It is spontaneous, a love irrespective of rights that makes much of a person. The gentile bride that Samson chose to love proved to be unworthy of him and his love. She allowed fear and family pressure to turn her away from him. A wife might act in such a sinful way that people would say, “she has no right to his love,” but this command in Scripture tells husbands to love their wives whether they deserve that love or not. The church didn’t deserve Christ’s love, and yet He loved her anyway and gave His life for her.

A husband who loves his wife would die for her rather than put her in harm’s way. He would sacrifice his life for hers. A husband should so love his wife in his heart that no sacrifice would seem to great for him to make for her. Just as a man must take care of his body, so he must see to his wife’s comfort. He must protect her from harm, desire her well-being, and pay close attention to the signals she sends. He needs to help her develop her potential, nourish her, and cherish her.

The husband is not to do his best to imitate Christ, he is to imitate Christ. The key to making the principles of marriage work is faith.

To love my wife is to put into practice the acts of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians from verses 4 through 8a: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; love is not arrogant or rude; love does not insist on its own way (sacrifice for the sake of your wife); love is not irritable or resentful; love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” “Love never ends!” Another rendering is “Love never fails.” You can fail-proof your marriage! If a person truly and honestly loves their spouse, the marriage cannot fail because they have fail-proofed it. If a person does not purely and sincerely love their spouse out of the depths of their heart, having made that decision to do so irrespective of rights, the devil and the world will try and work on them to either cheat on their spouse or to divorce their spouse, both of which are great sins.

How will we have the type of love that “is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil”? The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God – such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Direction Toward Marriage

For the man:
  • Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:25- 33. What does this mean and how can you make it evident in your life as a man/husband?
  • What does it mean to “love” your wife? (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19)
  • What does it mean to love unconditionally? What does it mean to love sacrificially?
  • What does it mean to be a man/husband?
  • What is marriage and what does marriage entail?
  • What ways can aid toward a harmonious marriage, and how can you invest yourself in order to assure you have a harmonious marriage?
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:17; and 2 Peter 1:5-9. How can you develop these Christian characteristics and how can they enhance your marriage?
  • How can you be sure that Jesus Christ has the pre-eminence in your marriage and that He remains on the throne of your marriage, being the Center and Refuge of all things pertaining to your marriage?
  • What significance do these passages teach the man? 1 Peter 3:7; Hebrews 13:4; Titus 2:2, 7-8; 1 Timothy 3:4. How can they become evident in your life?
For the woman:
  • Read and meditate on Proverbs 31:10- 31. What does this mean and how can you make it evident in your life as a woman/wife?
  • What does it mean to “submit” to your husband? (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18)
  • What does it mean to love unconditionally? What does it mean to love sacrificially?
  • What does it mean to be a woman/wife?
  • What is marriage and what does marriage entail?
  • What ways can aid toward a harmonious marriage, and how can you invest yourself in order to assure you have a harmonious marriage?
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:17; and 2 Peter 1:5-9. How can you develop these Christian characteristics and how can they enhance your marriage?
  • How can you be sure that Jesus Christ has the pre-eminence in your marriage and that He remains on the throne of your marriage, being the Center and Refuge of all things pertaining to your marriage?
  • What significance do these passages teach the woman? 1 Peter 3:4; Hebrews 13:4; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Timothy 2:9. How can they become evident in your life?
Blessing of a godly wife — Proverbs 12:4 — "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” (KJV) "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames [him] is as rottenness in his bones." (NASB) "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." (ESV) "A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones." (NIV)

Key to a happy marriage — Proverbs 5:18-20 —"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love."

Psalms 127:1 — "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain."

Proverbs 18:22 — "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Who Pays For Your Spouse's Sin?

by Rick Thomas

Christians understand the point of the Gospel: Christ paid for our sins. The profundity of the Gospel capsulated in five words. When Adam chose to walk away from God in the garden by believing a lie, God instituted a plan to redeem Adam and his fallen race.

In order to do that there had to be a payment for sin. Sin could not go unpunished. Even the pagan world understands this. Last week there was a horrible slaughter in Arizona where six people were mercilessly murdered. President Obama made an impassioned speech and talked about how these murders would not go unpunished.

And he is right. What kind of world would it be if there were no justice? As you know, the justice in our world is inconsistent at best. Thankfully, the hope for the Christian is not in the justice of this world. We serve a God who is The Judge and He demands justice for sin. Imagine a God who did not demand justice.

God’s justice is only the beginning of the good news for us. Yes, sin demands a punishment and every sin will be punished. However, in the infinite wisdom of the Father, He decided to make a way for you and me (assuming you are a Christian) to not be punished for our sin.

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son and whoever believes in the Son will not receive the punishment for sin that he/she justly deserves. (John 3:16) However, for those who do not accept the Gospel, he/she will be punished for his/her sin. (John 3:36) All sin will be punished. Either Jesus Christ will be punished for you or you will be punished eternally for your sin. It’s your choice.

Let’s suppose my wife, Lucia, sins and I get angry with her as a response to her sin. In such a case, which sadly is how it goes in our home from time to time, I would be punishing her for her sin. I would be acting as “God” by demanding justice, while completely missing the Gospel. Christ bore the Father’s wrath, died, and rose from the grave in order to accomplish salvation for anyone who authentically believes this story. 
Thankfully, Lucia was regenerated by the grace of God many years ago. Her sin, past, present, and future has been paid for because of the Gospel.

When I respond in anger to her sin, I am making her do what Christ would never do. I am punishing her.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. – Ephesians 5:25-26 (ESV)

Christ did not make me pay for my sin. He sacrificed for my sin by giving His life for me. If I truly understand the Gospel in the moment of my wife’s sin, my response would be a Gospel-motivated sacrifice rather than self-centered punishment.

Therefore, rather than choosing anger (punishment) as a response to her sin, I must choose an attitude of forgiveness (sacrifice) when she sins against me. Too often I choose anger and when I do, it distorts our relationship. Rather than serving my wife, by helping her get to Christ where she can be forgiven, I convolute the situation by sinning in response to her sin.

I become the judge and, thus, feel justified to make her pay for her sin. This is an emasculation of the Gospel. It mocks Christ’s death. I am saying in essence,

I don’t care that You died for her sin. She has sinned against me and I am going to circumvent what You did on the cross by making her pay right now. Sin demands a punishment and I feel it would be better if she received my punishment rather than allowing her to experience the cleansing power of the Gospel. Yes, You were bruised for her iniquities, but right now I feel the need to bruise her for her iniquities. (Isaiah 53:6)

However, when I am practically applying the Gospel in the moment of her sin I am living out Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5:25-26. Our relationship is not distorted by my sin, while my wife is being sanctified, cleansed, and washed by God’s Word. Rather than me forcing sanctification through fear and intimidation, she experiences the freedom, favor, and power of the Cross in her life where true cleansing happens.

My goal is for my wife to walk in holiness. However, when I punish her rather than forgiving her for her sin, I am making it harder for her to accomplish the very thing that I desire the most for her.

It’s time to put your Christianity to the test: When your spouse sins against you, do you punish or sacrifice? Let’s suppose you have discovered your husband’s porn addiction. Is the Gospel real in that moment? What governs your heart when he sins: a desire to punish him or a desire to help him get to Christ where he can be forgiven and changed.

When your spouse disappoints you for the umpteenth time, what is the ruling motive of your heart? Can you rest in God the Judge, or are you compelled to be your spouse’s judge?

When you sin…again…are you tempted to punish yourself through a stringent moralism, or do you appropriate the releasing forgiveness that is found in Christ’s work on the cross?

Dear Church, if our Gospel means anything, then it must be real in the moment of our sin, whether it is yours or mine. Otherwise, there is no redemptive purpose in His sacrifice.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Is Marriage?

Genesis 2:18-25; Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is a divinely created institution. It is the foundation of the family, the church, and the country. Because of its great importance, its definition is regularly under attack. Therefore, it is imperative that we, as Christians, have affirmed these things to be true in their entirety, for one day we will give an account (Heb. 13:17) of how marriage was upheld before God:

Intentions for Marriage:
  1. God’s intention for marriage is repeatedly established in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture.
    1. The purpose of partnership.
      "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Genesis 2:18
    2. The purpose of parenthood.
      "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Genesis 1:28
      "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5
    3. The purpose of pleasure.
      "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?" Proverbs 5:15-20
      "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Hebrews 13:4
    4. The purpose of preventing fornication.
      "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
    5. The purpose of picturing the church.
      "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Ephesians 5:31-33
Definition of Marriage:
  1. God ordained marriage as a voluntary union of one man and one woman for life.
    "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:22-24
    "And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matthew 19:5-6
    "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." Ephesians 5:31
  2. Christian marriage is not simply a contract between a man and a woman, but is a covenant ratified in the presence of God.
    "To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God." Proverbs 2:16-17
    "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant." Malachi 2:14
    "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matthew 19:4-6
  3. A healthy marriage is the best foundation for families and raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
    "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." Proverbs 1:8-9
    "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Proverbs 6:20-23
    "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:1-4
Sexual Fulfillment Within Marriage:
  1. Sexual intimacy is legitimate only within the bounds of marriage.
    "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." Proverbs 6:32
    "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." Colossians 3:5-6
    "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Hebrews 13:4
    "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:11
  2. It is the Christian church’s intention not only to teach and preach abstinence before marriage and purity during marriage, but also sexual fulfillment in marriage.
    "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14
    "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." Proverbs 6:32
    "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
    "Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love." Proverbs 5:19

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Is Real Love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient. When you really love someone, you accept him or her just as he or she is. Of course, you encourage them to grow, but you love and accept them unconditionally – no strings attached. Real love allows you to be patient with weaknesses and flaws.

Love is kind. Love is positive and lifts people up, never pulls them down. Love sees the need of others, and does what it can to meet those needs. It’s never harshly critical.

Love is never jealous. Remember, love gives; it does not take. It wants to share time and attention with others. It allows the one you love the freedom to have other friends and interests apart from you. It’s not possessive.

Love is never boastful. It centers on the other person and not on you. If it brags about anything, it brags about the one you love.

Love is not proud. Love keeps you from being “full of yourself” and keeps you humble. You are proud of your partner and not of yourself for snagging him or her. You realize that person is a gift from God, and not somebody you have “earned.”

Love is not rude. Love respects others and shows them courtesy. It demands respect from other people toward the one you love.

Love does not demand its own way. Love thinks about others first. Real love accepts changes in circumstances and people. It produces a concern for the needs of others.

Love is not irritable or touchy. Love is not too sensitive; it does not take everything so personally. Real love does not wear its feelings on a sleeve.

Love does not hold grudges. Love is able to forgive; it does not dwell on past failures. It the Old Testament, a teen named Joseph was sold into slavery by his older brothers. He was taken to a foreign country never to see his home again. Many years later, Joseph became the ruler of that country. One day his brothers came to this country begging for help; they did not know Joseph was in charge. He had a choice to make: forgive and help them, or hold a grudge and hurt them. What would you have done? Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Essentially he said, “I forgive you.”

Love is not glad about injustice. Real love does not find pleasure in the pain or wickedness of other people. It does not enjoy finding fault in others.

Love is glad when truth wins out. Real love is based on truth and honesty. The Bible says “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Fear is what keeps us from being honest – fear of what our friend will think of us, or fear of what if she knew the truth. Love tells the truth, even though it is not always pretty.

Love is loyal no matter what the cost. It will always be faithful and stand by the person loved, no matter what.

Love always believes. Love is willing to trust. When you really love someone, you will believe in her, even when she cannot believe in herself. Again, because there is no fear in love, you trust that person. You are able to give yourself completely to the relationship.

Love always expects the best. It will always give a person the benefit of the doubt. Real love is positive, not negative. It looks for the best and finds it.

Love always stands its ground in defending the other person. Love is protective (without being jealous), and will continue to love even when it is not returned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roles Assigned In Eden

by Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, 110.

So what does God say it means to be man or woman? The Christian's first stop for the answer is the Genesis account of when God created the first man and woman. That is act 1 of God's story.

Jesus showed us that the Genesis account should be the foundation of our perspective of true manhood and womanhood. When He was questioned about marriage, He pointed his questioners back to God's design: "Haven't you read...that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'?" (Matthew 19:4). Paul did the same. When he wrote to the Ephesian church about how husbands and wives were to relate to each other, he referred his readers to God's original intention, which He revealed before sin entered the world (Ephesians 5:31).

From the first two chapters of the Bible we learn that Adam and Eve were created equal in God's sight. In our chauvinistic culture, in which women are often belittled and abused, this fact needs to be clearly stated. God made women totally equal to men in personhood, dignity, and worth. They are no less important or valuable to God.

Within the context of their equality, God assigned men and women different roles. He made Adam first, signifying his unique role as leader and initiator. He created Eve from Adam and brought her to Adam to be his helper in the tasks God had assigned him. She was made to complement, nourish, and help her husband. God's greatest gift to man was "a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18). This doesn't minimize a woman's role but it does define it.

Men and women were created equal, yet different. And the fact that we're different is wonderful. What a boring world it would be if the opposite sex weren't so mysterious, so puzzling, and at times so infuriatingly unlike us!

God didn't make us to duplicate each other, but to complement each other. The point here is not that Adam was better than Eve, just as God the Father is not "better" than God the Son. Father and Son are equal in essence, power, glory, and worth, but they have different roles; and the Son joyfully submits to the Father's will (1 Corinthians 15:28). So in marriage a husband and wife are equal, even though Scripture tells the wife to joyfully submit to her husband's leadership.

In his commentary on Genesis, Matthew Henry explained it beautifully: "Eve was not taken out of Adams' head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him." In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul says that the husband's leadership isn't to be tyrannical or cruel, but kind and loving. Men are called to love their wives sacrificially and selflessly just like Jesus loves the church. Wives are instructed to follow their husbands just as the church obeys Christ. This is not mindless, joyless, submission, but active participation and response to loving leadership.

Monday, December 17, 2012

All the Days of My Life

by Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Love Story, 87-88.

Not long after my decision to “give God the pen” to write my love story, I learned a truth about loving my future husband that dramatically changed the way I was living.

I was innocently reading my “proverb for the day” which happened to be Proverbs 31. The famous chapter in the Bible that describes the “wife of godly character.”

I must admit I wasn’t paying very close attention or taking the words too seriously. After all, I figured most of it wouldn’t apply to me until after I was a “wife,” which as far as I was concerned, wouldn’t be for a while! Yet suddenly my eye fell upon a verse, and the words stood out to me.

She (the wife of godly character) does him (her husband) good and not evil all the days of her life. (Prov. 31:12)

Wait a minute! My mind raced. All the days of her life? What was that supposed to mean? I had yet to meet any woman who had been married all the days of her life. Did this verse mean she tried to do her husband good…even before she met him?

I felt a gentle nudge on my heart. And somehow, I knew this was what God wanted for me. To seek my future husband’s highest good…starting right now.

“How can I love someone I’ve never met?” I argued back inside my head. “I mean, I’m keeping a commitment to abstinence for my future husband…so what else can I possibly do for him?”

The gentle nudge continued, ultimately forcing me to examine the way I was living. How had I been approaching relationships? Each time I was involved with someone, I poured my heart, my emotions, my affection, my time, and all my attention onto that person. Not to mention the fact, that though I may have been technically a virgin, I wasn’t keeping myself physically pure – I was constantly compromising my standards.

“How would your future husband feel…” my heart seemed to ask, “If he could see you giving everything you are to these relationships? If he could watch you freely giving away your heart, your emotions, and your physical purity…a treasure that belongs to him?”

My heart ached. I realized so clearly in that moment that I hadn’t been loving my future husband. With the way I had been living, I hadn’t even been considering him at all. Instead, I had been consumed with meeting my own immediate desires. Sadness overcame me as I saw that I had been giving his treasure, piece by piece, to each guy I dated.

“Lord, I want to honor You and my future husband with the way I live,” I prayed that day, “and I am making a commitment today to love him and seek his highest good from now on.”

My love life was transformed. Even though I didn’t know him yet, I began truly loving Eric at that moment – truly loving my future husband “all the days of my life.” It wasn’t always easy. At times it was painful. And of course, there were plenty of moments when the old selfishness tried to creep back in. But with God’s help, I started laying the foundation for a lifelong relationship, because I was willing to start loving my future husband with a sacrificial love, a selfless love, a lasting love…an unconditional love.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What To Look For In A Life Partner

by Dr. David Doherty

The choice of a life partner will determine much of your future; it will seriously influence your children’s eternal destiny, and it will impact the testimony of your church. It is the most important decision you will ever make next to your salvation. Scripture has much to say about this subject! God has also given us examples of people who married unfit partners, i.e. David and Michal, Abigail and Nabal. Be careful! Look for these features in your “special friend.” He/she…
  1. Must Be Converted.
    The Bible dogmatically declares that Christians are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Co. 6:14-18). Literally, we are not to be in a state of becoming unequally yoked with unbelievers. Find someone who deeply loves the Lord and he/she will have no trouble loving you for a lifetime.
  2. Must Be Consecrated.
    Many people can “talk up a storm” of good intentions and lofty goals, but what is more important is what they actually accomplish. A glowing testimony is not necessarily a true picture of reality. Look for consistent godly living in a potential life partner. Any relationship will be as stable and meaningful as it is spiritually. Spirituality is never static. Look for honest spiritual growth in yourself and in your “super buddy.” Ask, is Jesus number one in his/her life?
  3. Must Be Controlled.
    No one wants to be a “yo-yo” on someone’s emotional string. Make sure that a potential life partner is controlled by the Word of God and that he/she is honestly Spirit-led in emotions, attitudes.
  4. Must Be Compatible.
    Don’t date anyone who exhibits qualities which would disqualify from being your life partner. Don’t marry anyone that you don’t deeply love or anyone who doesn’t truly love you. Make certain you are both being led by the Lord in the same direction for life. Ask yourself, “What attracts us to each other?” Learn to pray together, to laugh together, and to enjoy life together. Take all the time necessary to know the will of God in this vital area of life.
No one wants a miserable life and an unhappy marriage; such is not God’s desire for His children. With parental care and wisdom, God has provided us with counsel regarding what to look for in a potential life partner. Biblical credentials for a suitable life partner:
  1. A Godly Wife:
    Titus 2 presents basic qualities for a Christian wife. She is to be a “taught” person (v.4). Her teachers are not the worldly, unbelieving professors of man’s wisdom. Rather, her teachers are mature, spiritual women who know by experience what they are teaching. These older women teach six “courses.” They are: (1). Sober-mindedness: This course produces purposeful discipline and wise choices. Graduates are serious, committed and sensible. They do not have ”butterfly” personalities. (2.) Love: This study teaches them to love their own husbands…a hard course! By loving the Lord, accepting their calling from God for their lives, graduates will resolve to love (to give and to receive love) their husbands. Don’t marry a flirt, or someone who is not committed to purity. (3.) Discretion: Students in this course “study” to make wise choices…they don’t live by flashes of impulse buying. Careful thought goes before their words and actions. (4.) Purity: This study avoids the psychological “mind-field” of immorality. Graduates don‘t have bitter regrets and shameful memories. They have dedicated themselves to the Lord and to the man they will marry for life. (5.) Home Management: A godly wife will keep her home loving, fresh, clean and rejoicing. Her home will be her earthly priority. (6.) Obedience: This course advocates loving cooperation with her husband. She is not a female “lone ranger.” Graduates form a happy “team” relationship with their husbands.
  2. A Godly Husband:
    Scripture has something to say to young men who plan to be husbands in God’s time. A potential husband must be marked with: (1.) Sober-mindedness: He must be thoughtful, weigh his words and actions and be sensitive to other. Scripture must be his Guide. (2.) Good Works: He must be a worker! All his works must have the adjective “good” before them. He must seek to be a blessing, a breath of heavenly fresh air, to others. Good works motivate him. He must be consistent in his goodness. (3.) Doctrinal Purity: Right beliefs are foundational to right behaviour. A suitable husband must know the Lord, walk closely with Him and now the Word of God and live it out in daily life. To know sound doctrine is a good start towards living a life that is marked with “uncorruptness.” He has no moral rot. (4.) Sound Speech: A potential husband must know how to speak in such a way that others will not condemn him. He must be honest, true to Scripture, kind and gracious in all he says on a regular basis.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things To Look For In A Spouse

from Rick Klaver to his children many years ago

1st Life Let the dead marry the dead.
2nd Character A person’s standards, scruples, morals, values, etc.
The foundation of a person, without which all the rest becomes a farce and you wind up with balloon people (everything on the outside, nothing on the inside).
A person of good character does what is right because it is right.
What do they stand for? What do they stand against? Why?
Don’t just ask them what they believe. What is the basis of their beliefs? Did Martians tell them? Anyone throwing darts can accidentally hit a bulls-eye – you want the one who hits them consistently.
3rd Personality You’ll have more desire to spend time with someone polite, easygoing, refreshing, and other-centered rather than a self-centered, energy-sucking grump.
4th Looks If you hit with the first three, they could look like potatoes and you wouldn’t care.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

16 Ways to Avoid Marital Failure

A sermon by Alistair Begg
  1. Do not be so foolish as to maintain it cannot happen to you. (1 Cor. 10:11)
  2. Do not assume that a great marriage can be discovered and enjoyed without some solid hard work. (Prov. 24:30-34)
  3. Do not allow the busyness of life to disguise neglect.
  4. Do not make the mistake of taking each other for granted. (1 Pet. 3:7)
  5. Do not dig up old failures or past disappointments. (Phil. 3:4; Ps. 103:3)
  6. Do not compare your spouse unfavourably with others, in terms of looks, abilities, or anything else. (Prov. 5:15-19)
  7. Do not take someone of the opposite sex into precincts that are the exclusive domain of your spouse. (i.e. If some lady from the office sees you have broad shoulders and wants to cry on them, tell her to go cry on someone else’s shoulders. Protect the sanctity of your marriage! Women minister to women, men minister to men. Period! )
  8. Do not allow each other the kind of freedom that breeds neglect. (i.e. If you say you will call at a certain time, be sure to do so.)
  9. Be daily in prayer for the health of your marriage and the harmony in your home.
  10. Be sacrificial in your expression of your love for each other.
  11. Be imaginative, daring, and occasionally extravagant in displaying your affection.
  12. Be sure that you do not use your children as the glue that holds you or the wedge that separates you. (i.e. It is the children who will leave the home while the two of you will remain.)
  13. Be ruthless in resisting anyone or anything that will draw your affections from each other.
  14. Be ready to listen (women), and willing to speak (men), about what’s going on inside each other’s heads. (i.e. Do you know what your spouse is thinking about? What are your spouse’s fears, hopes, dreams?)
  15. Be certain that a great marriage is possible with divine enabling and human effort. (Eph. 3:20)
  16. Be aware of how quickly time is passing, and seize the day. (i.e. You have each other for a short period of time, so make the best use of the time.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wishful Thinking?

by Gary D. Chapman

Turning Your "If Onlys" Into Reality
Most couples I encounter in my counseling office have dreams of how wonderful their marriage would be if only… The if only statements almost always focus on things they wish their spouse would change:
  • I wish she would get rid of some junk.
  • I wish he'd help me keep the house cleaner.
  • I wish she wouldn't worry so much.
  • I wish he'd plan date nights once or twice a month.
  • I wish she'd stop being so critical.
  • I wish he would express appreciation for what I do.
  • I wish she would stop criticizing me in front of our children.
  • I wish he would put things away when he finishes a project.
My guess is you also have a wish list. The good news is that many of your wishes can come true. Try these three steps and see if your spouse becomes more responsive to your desires.

Step 1: Look at yourself
The first step may be the most difficult because it begins with you. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that we are first to "take the plank out of our own eye."

Identifying your past failures in the marriage and being willing to confess these to your spouse is the first step to making your wishes come true. The wife who is willing to say to her husband, "I realize I've been spending too much time with my mother and not enough time with you. I feel badly about that, and I'd like to ask you to forgive me. I want to make that different in the future" is on the road to seeing her wishes become reality.

Your willingness to deal with past failures communicates to your spouse that you are serious and want to improve your marriage. By nature we tend to wait for our spouse to take the initiative. But how about you taking the initiative? Even if you feel your failures are minimal, dealing with them creates an atmosphere of growth.

Step 2: Speak the right love language
The second step is speaking, unconditionally and at least once a week, your spouse's love language. The five languages are: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. One of these speaks more deeply to your spouse than the other four. Learning to speak his or her primary love language will change the emotional climate in your marriage.

Step 3: Request change
The third step is the one you have been waiting for: you request change. So prepare your wish list and get ready to watch your spouse change.

Here are the guidelines for making requests.
  • Limit your requests to one every other week. (That's 26 requests a year. If you could see 26 things change, would that be a good year for you?)
  • Never make a request when your spouse is hungry or tired.
  • Always make your requests in private—never in front of other people. When you bring up something in front of others, it becomes a putdown to your spouse.
  • Ask if your spouse is emotionally ready for you to make your request. For example, "Would this be a good night for me to make a request of you or would it be better to wait?" This respects the emotional state of your spouse and gives the right to select a more appropriate time.
  • Precede your request with at least three compliments. A husband might say, "Before I share my request, let me tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you cook good meals for the children and me. I really appreciate all the work you invest in doing that. Secondly, I want you to know how much I appreciate the fact that you take my shirts to the laundry each week. That's a real help to me. Thirdly, I want you to know how much I appreciate your involvement at church. It makes me feel good when I see you singing in the choir. Bottom line, I really like you. Now, here's my request. Would it be possible for you to get the hairs out of the sink before you leave the bathroom?"
Chances are that's the last time he will see a hair in the sink. His wife feels loved and appreciated. She's motivated to respond to his request.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A 'Love Triangle' Is Not Quickly Broken

The following is a speech that I delivered back in 2005 at Bible College for my Speech Communications class. Sadly, after I had given this speech, the majority of my fellow students began to back-bite about me, saying that I only spoke on this subject in order to get a wife. This was not the case, however, as I was at least seven years older than most of them and had no interest in any of them. My purpose for giving this speech was two-fold: (1) to glorify God, and (2) to hopefully prevent my fellow students from becoming part of the great statistic of divorce. Only three students, that I know of, were listening to my speech and had been affected by it. Two, a couple that split up afterwards, came up to me individually to thank me for my words as it saved them a great deal of problems and pain. May it be a blessing for you, too.

A speech doesn't have to be something that you have experience in. It can simply be something that you are passionate about. For that reason, I have decided to speak on a subject that each of us will one day face, should the Lord tarry. I have titled my speech, "A 'Love Triangle' Is Not Quickly Broken."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
  1. What is the Great Romance?
  2. The Great Romance confronts us with the eternal ideals.
    1. Love
    2. Beauty
    3. Hope
    The greatest gifts. The very heart of God.
  3. Why do we love beautiful flowers?
    Because we love beauty. We were created to love beauty. We love _____ because God loves _____.
    1. Beauty
    2. Song
    3. Love
    4. To be loved
  4. The Great Romance is...
    1. About God's love for us and our love for Him. About that same love expressed between us—between a man and a woman; husband and wife.
  1. What is Love?
    1. It's not based on emotion or feelings.
    2. It's not a feeling.
    3. It's a choice.
    Since love is based on the will (on our ability to choose) and not emotions, our love should last a lifetime. A decision is a stronger and firmer foundation for our love than emotions. Emotions come and go.
    God himself chose to love the world. I am convinced that he did not feel pleasure about offering His only Son as a blood sacrifice to prove His love for us. God's love was firmly rooted in choice, not feeling. If we choose to love as God has chosen to, then a man and a woman will stick together through all of life's storms.
All throughout God's Word He says to us:
I love you. I choose you. I rescue you. I cherish you. You are precious to me. You are my very own. Never leave me.
He wants us to repeat those exact same words back to Him. In fact, He wants us to say those words to each other in marriage—continuously.

The Great Romance started back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. God loved them and they reciprocated His love. In that same way, they loved each other. The Great Romance was not just about the Garden of Eden, however. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is the bride. In the New Testament, the church is the bride. The Great Romance began in the Garden; continued at the cross with Christ giving His life for us; and will blossom at the Second Coming. Jesus Christ showed us His love by giving His life for us and He wants us to love Him in return. At this very moment, Christ is wooing His bride. Imagine Him standing before us saying:
I love you. I choose you. I rescue you. I cherish you. You are precious to me. You are my very own. Never leave me.
The Garden of Eden is a picture of the manner in which God designed marriage to be. Marriage is a love triangle. It is not merely between a man and a woman, but between a man, a woman, and God. A threefold union.

I believe that the purpose of marriage is three-fold, like God Himself is three-fold.
    1. Marriage forms a unit (Matthew 19:6, "They are no longer two but one flesh.").
    2. Marriage seeks progeny (Malachi 2:15 NIV, "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." Genesis 1:28a, "And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply.'").
    3. Marriage forms a picture of Christ (Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.").
  1. Three main factors required for a great marriage
  2. These were in perfect unison in the Garden of Eden. If any one of these is missing, your marriage will be hanging on by a thread.
    1. Communication:
      1. We need to learn to communicate fully and effectively.
      2. From our accomplishments/struggles to our strengths/weaknesses.
      3. We need to communicate everything.
      4. You cannot grow closer to one another if you do not learn to communicate.
      5. The greatest benefit in your communication will be the ability...
        • To quickly apologize if you have erred, and
        • To quickly forgive if the other person has erred
    2. Trust and Honesty:
      We need to learn to trust each other and to be entirely honest with each other. If we are honest in everything we do, it will be simple for the other person to trust us. If you truly care about the other person, reveal yourself to them. Don't be afraid to be who God designed you to be.
    3. Faith in God:
      We need to have faith in God because we will inevitably run into problems in our marriages that we think are impossible to either overcome or repair. The Bible says that "What is impossible with men is possible with God." There is nothing too big for God to handle. In marriage, if both of you are looking to the Lord, there is absolutely no problem that the three of you cannot overcome.
Marriage is a very sacred and binding institution. We need to take it very seriously. If God is not the primary focus for our marriages, then we should not get married. The Great Romance is all about God's love for us and our love for Him, as well as that same love expressed between a man and a woman; husband and wife. The closer you grow to God, the closer you will grow to each other. The tighter you are bound to each other, there is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome. "A threefold cord is not quickly broken."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Am I the One?

Paraphrased from James R. Lucas, Am I the One?.

  1. Be passionate about God. – Make God the center of your life.
  2. Know the truth. – Baby Christians should not get married. Lay aside the illusions – know the truth.
  3. Live in freedom. – Free from the power and plague of sin; free to say NO to temptation; free to think for yourself; free of the Christian Pharisees and their petty rules.
  4. Become passionate about others. – Be in service to others; invest in others. Is the world a little better because of you? Consider others better than yourself. “Knowledge inflates with pride – love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1
  5. Become passionate about your responsibilities. – Your work can be an expression of what’s inside of you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so everyone may see your progress.
  6. Find a greater cause. – Have you found something bigger than yourself to devote yourself to?
  7. Learn the power of redemption. – Learn from your mistakes and make a comeback. You can grow and improve. Failures come from quitting. Mistakes aren’t fatal. Do you know forgiveness? How to experience it and to grant it? Relationships are about failure and redemption.
Real purity isn’t prudish and judgmental. It doesn’t throw out an entire book or movie because of a word or phrase. It also doesn’t pretend that nasty words/scenes don’t have a negative impact.
Is he/she bothered by anything? No? Move on!
Is he/she bothered by everything? Yes? Move on!
Is your friend pursuing peace with everyone? How does he/she react when people correct him/her? rebuke him/her? instruct him/her or teach him/her? Proverbs 9:7-9 gives us hints.
If he/she insults someone who corrects him/her, what is he/she? If he/she abuses someone who rebukes him/her, what is he/she? If he/she listens to instruction and teaching, what is he/she?
Marriage needs a justice of the peace!
Considerate (Gentle at all times)
Does he/she put the interests of others, not just you, ahead of his/her own? Ephesians 5:33 was commanded because it doesn’t come naturally. What does your wife need from you?
NO marriage can survive a man without respect or a woman without love!
Does he do for me what he does for himself? He does this for himself – does he do that for me?
Does she respect me? Her comments and way she treats me will be evident of this.
Watch how he/she treats you around others. Watch how he/she treats others around you.
Does he/she ignite the Spirit’s fire in you? or does he/she stifle it?
If she wants to be in control but doesn’t want responsibility if things don’t work out, buckle up as you’ll be in for a ride where YOU have no control.
Full of Mercy and Good Deeds
This person will usually say “I understand” when someone sins or makes a huge mistake, rather than being judgmental. They don’t give until it hurts, they give until it feels good.
Does he/she gladly take on responsibility? or wait for someone else to do it?
Does he/she favour you or your feelings over another person or the truth? You don’t want someone who plays favourites or puts down somebody who isn’t part of “the group.”
Be on guard about someone who wants you to spend all your best efforts and time on them, to the exclusion of your other friends.
Marriage should be savoury, not slavery!
Is he/she genuinely interested in your becoming all that God designed you to be? or all that “he/she” wants you to be?
Is he/she genuine when telling how he/she feels? Or is manipulation, nagging or complaining used?

  1. You Think You Are “Called” To Marriage
    You are not “called” to marriage, you are called to follow Christ. Following Christ can lead you into relationships – friendships or marriage.
  2. You Are Lonely or Needy
    People are not cures for your emotional sickness. A good marriage is built on wholeness (not desperation). Meet loneliness head-on by developing a satisfactory relationship with God. God puts lonely people into families (Psalms 68:6) but no spouse/family can fill a God-sized hole.
  3. You Want Someone to Take Care Of You
    Your goal in life should never be for someone to take care of you. Build a relationship of trust with God and you will not need to look for a fragile human substitute. Dependency is anti-love. Add value (to each other), be productive, and keep busy.
  4. You Want To Escape a Difficult Situation
    Become a breaker, not a passer, of the heritage you have received. You tend toward patterns and will choose a spouse that repeats the settings you grew up with. Do not escape to a person. Escape to a life.
  5. You Want To Solve a Lust Problem
    Lust does not go away with marriage. If anything, it increases. If the desire is strong without being good, you had better remain single until you can remain pure. Wise people discuss sexuality thoroughly before marriage. If you ever think about getting married, make sure you know the answer to this question: ”How do you know your spouse-to-be has victories with God’s help over any lust problems with which she has struggled?
  6. He or She Is the Fulfillment of Your “Dreams”
    Anyone or anything that consumes you becomes your idol – your god. Your respect and admiration for a person should never move to a level where you see none of his/her weaknesses or flaws. Know the difference between devotion and idolatry. Some dreams can become nightmares.
  7. This Person Is a Real “Find”
    If someone seems too good to be true, he/she just might be. Keep your eyes on God and you will see the treasure that he has so carefully laid up for you.
  8. There May Not Be Another
    There will always be another if this is not “the one.”
  9. The Two of You Share “Common Interests”
    Common interests change with time. Successful, satisfying relationships are about enjoying and supporting each other’s growth. Are you capable of loving others enough to encourage them and help them in any interests they pursue – whether it appeals to you or not? Your interest is not in the activity itself, but in the person to whom this activity is important.
    Healthy relationships that are moving toward marriage explore differences. They do not try to find common ground. Where are you different? What does that mean? How does that make you feel? Does looking at this deepen or distance you from each other? Real life is about unity and diversity. Can you love him/her when he/she is different? Very different?
    Is there enough about both of you that is the same at the core – enough unity around a shared vision and values – to keep that diversity from flying off into chaos?
  10. You Want To Have Children
    Why do you want to have children? Children are responsibilities – not play things! Are you willing to participate in the creation and development of a unique human being (child)?
  11. You Feel Pressure To Get Married
    If you are wise, pressure from the other will stir the opposite reaction. Why is he/she doing this? What is behind this push? Why can he/she not wait? Good marriages are grown and developed into the kind of relationship that is Christ and the church. When there is no pressure and you are still sure, you are probably on the right track.
  12. He or She Acts Like You Are the Center of the Universe
    Don’t blind yourself to your own feelings or the potential of the relationship. Is he/she telling you what you want to hear so that he/she can get what he/she wants? The attention will likely evaporate when the prize – you – is won.
If you are romantically involved with someone, you are not that someone to change him/her. If we hang out with “dead” people, we will end up “dead.” Do not get too close to corruption, even if you are trying to do a good deed. No person who is slave to these problems is ready for a good relationship with anyone else. Problems need to be discussed, honestly faced, and corrected in the hands of God.
  1. Anger: A person who explodes easily nurtures anger and is full of contempt and degrading comments. The way he/she treats family, friends, and strangers is how he/she will treat you.
  2. Addiction: Designed to relieve pressure and fill our emptiness (i.e. lust, gluttony, drunkenness, sleep, television, music, sports, shopping, spending).
  3. A Littered Trail: When the problem is always somebody else’s fault, that is her problem.
  4. Verbal Cunning: Beware verbal manipulation, verbal control or verbal coercion. If he/she does not respect you enough to let you make your own decisions, he/she doesn’t really love you.
  5. Scorekeeping: Eye-for-an-eye – He/she gives back what he/she gets. Best-defense – He/she thinks it is a good offense, so he/she attacks before someone else can attack him/her. Win/lose – He/she fights to win every discussion or argument. Revenge – He/she looks for chances to even the score.
  6. Warring: Confrontational attitude. Against people who disagree? Can he/she take constructive criticism?
  7. Pride: Boasting about oneself and one’s accomplishments.
  8. Greed: People who take graciously but hurt when they give.
  9. Fretting: If people worry over every little thing, God’s kingdom slides into second place as all their energy is directed toward this means.
  10. Judging: Meddlers and intruders trying to fix others and criticizing their problems.
  11. Being Undiscerning: These people will talk to anyone who will listen (your marriage will have no privacy), trust everyone including swindlers (you will go broke), don’t know when to walk away (you will be up to your neck in problems you cannot do anything about), and keep going back for more abuse (they have been trained to like it).
  12. Hypocrisy: Demanding what they will not give. Actions speak louder than words. Watch him/her long enough and he/she will reveal who he/she really is.
Keep your eyes open. Trust your instincts. Use your common sense. Listen hard to the Holy Spirit. The CLEAN cannot purify the DEFILED. It is the other way around.

Be this sure: I know, I am sure, that this really is as good as it could possibly get. Heightened emotional times are bad times to make life-or-death decisions. Times of significant failures and times of hurt are bad times to make commitments.
  1. You Are Aware of and Can Survive the Transitions of Life and Love
    If you thrive during small changes, you are on better ground. Take advantage of this change to better your relationship.
  2. Both of You Are Ready to Give Up Some of Your “Freedom”
    A marriage has duties and obligations, boundaries and restraints. Talk about them. Can you involve another person in decisions? Are you willing to explain what you are doing and why?
  3. The Two of You Have a Truly Intimate One-Spirit Friendship (Soul Mates)
    Does life make more sense after you have talked it out? It has to be a friendship. She is the soup, you are the sandwich. Know you are different, but together you make a whole new unity.
  4. The Other Person Is Wise, and Not Just a “Christian”
    Your mate will not have the characteristics of James 3:17 without a deep relationship with God. Live a good game. Treat him/her proper.
  5. You Are Able to Love Each Other and Meet Each Other’s Needs
    He/she can’t meet your needs if she doesn’t know what they are. Are you willing to listen – always? Are you willing to drop what you are doing to help him/her? This is sacrifice.
  6. Both of You Have Self-Control
    Build each other up and protect each other’s souls. You need patience in disagreements.
  7. You Have Developed a Strategy to Avoid the Daily Irritations of Life
    Daily life will take its toll. How well do you do the more time you spend together?
  8. You Could Postpone the Wedding Date for Five Years and Still Marry Each Other
    In marriage, speed is never your friend.
  9. The Two of You Have Similar Views on Bearing and Raising Children
    Make sure you see eye-to-eye on this. Children are guaranteed to change you life.
  10. Neither of Us Will Enter the Marriage With Thoughts That It Might Not Work
    How deep is the commitment? If you want to be sure both of you will work to make this marriage succeed, you need to burn the ships. No turning back.
  11. Both of You Have Done An In-Depth Study of Marriages
    Talk deeply about how to overcome these problems.
  12. Both of You Have Each Lived Long Enough and Experienced Enough and Grown Enough to Make a Wise Decision
    The longer you think about a decision, the more viewpoints from which you observe it and evaluate it, the more likely that it will be a good one.
Watch how he/she handles conflict, loneliness, shame, loss, feedback, your sin, disappointment, etc. This is how you can make your assessments. Make sure that you are heading into more than just a good marriage. Why you may be moving in that direction for the best of reasons, insist that you prolong it several months to be sure that the 12 Things to Be Sure of Before Marriage are in place. Once you know where the two of you stand, and have become satisfied with where each of you stands, make sure that he/she is “the one.”

  1. God Seems More Real to Both of YouYou build each other’s relationship with God. You expand each other’s thoughts about Him. When he/she talks about God, it connects with your spirit.
    He/she ignites the spirit’s fire withint you, and vice versa.
  2. You’re Both Free to Be Who You Are
    Be deeply honest with each other. Be genuine and authentic. You let each other know that it is OK to make yourself known, right down to the bare bones.
  3. You Contribute to Each Other’s Growth
    You sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17). You always trust each other (1 Corinthians 13:7). You stretch each other and push each other to take risks. You solve problems together. You know he/she is in it for you, and vice versa.
  4. You Are Sold Out on Each Other’s Success
    Listen to, encourage, and expand his/her dreams. Affirm him/her. You feel bigger and better because of him/her. Celebrate him/her, his/her developments and achievements. Want him/her to be all that he/she can be while seeing his/her potential. He/she sees things about you that you cannot even see. He/she protects you, your environment, and your sense of self-worth from relatives and friends and strangers. You find yourselves consistently looking in the same direction.
  5. You Cannot Escape Equality
    Both of you submit out of reverence to the Lord. Have 50/50 conversations – no just listening. Share a mutual willingness to give up desires and to sacrifice.
  6. The Packaging Is In Perspective
    You are proud of who he/she is and how he/she looks.
  7. The “I Cannot Believe It” Factor Dominates
    He/she is a lot more than you think you deserve. He/she is exceedingly above anything you cold ask for or imagine. He/she lives up to your ideals. You feel as if you have always known him/her.
  8. Contentment Is As Strong As Desire
    You are incredibly happy with your friendship. You are committed to the best path for your love. You did not seek a mate, he/she sneaked up on you. Like Jacob, your Rachel is worth waiting for.
  9. He or She Does Not Fizzle Under Failure
    Failures and mistakes draw you closer. Problems present opportunities. He/she loves you at your worst and is kind when you disagree.
  10. His or Her Seriousness Is Matched By Playfulness
    You can relax and really let your guard down. There is a joy and freedom in innocence and purity. There is healthy teasing that stays within bounds. There is comfort and peace in physical closeness. You feel playfulness will be one of the main ingredients for wiping out sexual fears, sexual negotiation, and sexual games after you are married. You can laugh at each other without hurting the other’s feelings.
    You can make self-deprecating comments without the other thinking you are a loser!
    You can just play!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Proverbs 31: Traits of a Good Woman

"A prudent wife is from the Lord." Proverbs 19:14b
A prudent wife is not dumb.
A prudent wife is not lazy.
A prudent wife does not waste her time.
A prudent wife is a learner.
A good woman is a helper, not a hindrance.

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
A good woman as described here is very valuable! There are not many like her. Key words: rare, uncommon, unusually excellent, unique, precious, matchless.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
A good woman is honourable, faithful, and chaste. She does not do anything or say anything behind her husband's back. Key words: trustworthy, dependable, inspires confidence, reliable, honest, deserving.

12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
A good woman is trustworthy, genuine, and wise. She does not explode one day and apologize the next. She is good to him every day - including the days prior to God having brought him into her life. Key words: constant in her love, unshaken, umoved, faithful, ceaseless, enduring, unchanging, loyal, permanent.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
A good woman is a willing, eager, hardworker. She looks for tasks that will be an asset to her family. Key words: industrious, hardworking, busy, diligent, patient.

14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
A good woman is prudent. She is a capable, wise shopper. Key words: frugal, not wasteful, using economy and good management.

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
A good woman gets up early and serves others. Key words: self-starter, energetic.

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
A good woman is enterprising. She buys property, plants a cash crop, and multiplies her investments. She is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. Key words: enterprising, daring, yet cautious, resourceful.

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
A good woman does physical labour and thus is strong. Key words: physically strong, hard worker.

18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
A good woman is competent; she takes stock of her work and is satisfied that she has done things right. She is dependable. Key words: willing to work long hours.

19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
A good woman is willing to do repetitive, boring work. Key words: willing to do monotonous work.

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
A good woman is benevolent; she gives to those in need. Key words: compassionate, merciful, generous, easily moved by the distresses and sufferings of others.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
A good woman is confident of how she has provided for her household. It is well-outfitted due to her management and hard work. She does not wait until the last minute to prepare dinner. A good woman plans and prepares ahead. Key words: she made preparation for the future.

22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
A good woman is a craftsman. She is a skilled worker who creates beautiful wall and bed coverings for her house, as well as beautiful clothes for herself. Key words: has mastered skills of crafts and sewing, makes dresses with beauty.

23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
The good woman's husband has the time and honour to be a ruler. She brings honour to her husband by the way she keeps his domain. Key words: her support helped bring him to this place.

24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
A good woman is a merchant. She makes, sells, and delivers goods. Key words: organizes, manages, does not pass the work off on others.

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
A good woman is known for her honour and strength of character. Her hard work and good attitude will pay high dividends. Key words: not swayed or upset by circumstances, steadfast, valiant.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
A good woman studies and shares her wisdom and knowledge in order to help others. She uses her information in an agreeable and pleasant manner. Key words: discerning, thoughtful, gentle.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
A good woman is conscious of responsibilities. She does not waste her time or other people's time. Key words: duty-conscious, reliable, not idle.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
You will know a good woman by how much her children and husband appreciate her and truly enjoy her company. Key words: she reaps her pleasant fruits.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
God describes a virtuous woman as one whose own hard work proves her value. She has won the right to be where she is and to have what she has acquired - honour, appreciation, esteem, and love. Key words: day in and day out, in season and out, she puts forth her creative lavour; for that efort, she was named the most worthy of all. Virtue means "acting power." It has the strength to affect or improve that which is around you.

30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
A good woman is not caught up in looking good. She is conscious of the fear of God in her life. She has lived every day as though she believes she will reap what she has sown. Key words: fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
A good woman reaps what she has sown, and it is good fruit. The enterprises and business ventures she has put her hand to are profitable. The crafts, goods, and clothes she has made are known to be of excellent quality. Her dwelling and her services are well-managed, efficient, and tidy. Her children are honourable and seek God. Her husband has time and heart to invest in other people's lives because of her being a good help meet. A good woman has lots of good fruit. Key words: praiseworthy, complimented, approved, deserving, admired, applauded, worthy.

"A gracious woman retaineth honour." Proverbs 11:16

A wise woman is not pitiful, puny, or whiney. She makes herself confident, capable, useful, and thankful.