Protect Your Wife From Yourself

lthe-masculine-mandateI used to think that if a man came into my house to attack my wife, I would certainly stand up to him. But then I came to realize that the man who enters my house and assaults my wife every day is me, through my anger, my harsh words, my complaints, and my indifference. As a Christian, I came to realize that the man I needed to kill in order to protect my wife is myself as a sinner.

Richard Philips, The Masculine Mandate, 87

How to Make Your Marriage Work

One of William Blake’s “Songs of Experience” shows in the most striking way that there are two ways to conduct a romantic relationship.

Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.

Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.
(from “The Clod and the Pebble”)

It is possible to feel you are “madly in love” with someone when it is really just an attraction to someone who can meet your needs and address the insecurities and doubts you have about yourself. In that kind of relationship, you will demand and control rather than serve and give.

Turn to the Ultimate Lover of Your Soul

The only way to avoid sacrificing your partner’s joy and freedom on the altar of your need is to turn to the ultimate lover of your soul. He voluntarily sacrificed himself on the cross, taking what you deserved for your sins against God and others. On the cross, he was forsaken and experienced the lostness of hell, but he did it all for us. Because of the loving sacrifice of the Son, you can know the heaven of the Father’s love through the work of the Spirit. Jesus truly “built a heaven in hell’s despair.” And fortified with the love of God in your soul, you likewise can now give yourself in loving service to your spouse.

Question for Reflection

  1. How are you conducting a romantic relationship? Are you seeking the other’s good or your own?

Resources

Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 75-76

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Who Do You Trust and Fear?

As Christianity is marginalized more and more, there will be stands we have to make. Whether we stand for the Lord or man will determine who we trust and fear.

A Contemporary Issue

The sanctity of marriage is a hot button issue in our country right now. Those not on the bandwagon of gay marriage are quickly labeled as bigots and haters; their participation in the public arena is limited; and they are pressured by their friends, family, employers, and the media to embrace and celebrate the sexual revolution.

As the pressure mounts, those desiring to please others and continue to have public influence will eventually evolve on the issue. Those who evolve on the issue show who they fear, man not God. They fear what man thinks of them, what man can take from them, and what man can do to them.

However, those who can’t or won’t acquiesce their beliefs show who they fear, that is the Lord. Those who rightly fear God will find themselves being marginalized. While the marginalization of Christians may limit the jobs we can hold, the businesses we can run, and the public influence we have, we need not fear because the Lord will care for us.

The Truth

Knowing the marginalization of Christianity is coming, and is indeed already here, we need to decide right now who we are going to fear and who we are going to trust.

If we cave to societal pressures, by fearing and placing our trust in man, we may find ourselves exalted and praised. We may experience all the benefits this world can offer. However, at some point you can bet things will not work out like we thought. Man always lets us down. They never stick to their word.

However, if we continue to fear and trust the Lord, we can be confident we will never be let down, and we will experience eternal life because the Lord always sticks to His Word. He doesn’t sway and shift with the cultural breeze. He doesn’t bend his knee to Caesar. He is unmovable, unshakeable, unbendable. He is who He is today and tomorrow. The Lord doesn’t change, which means the Lord can be trusted.

Who will you trust and fear? God or man?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you felt pressure lately to go along with society instead of God? If so, how did you deal with it?
  2. Do you believe Christians are being marginalized in our country?

Resource

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The Christian and the Same Sex Marriage Decision

While I had a feeling the courts would rule for same sex marriage, I was still shocked when I read the headlines. I guess I had hoped they would consider how polarizing Roe vs. Wade has been and do something different. Something like put the decision to a vote by the people, instead of deciding for us. But that is not what happened. Instead nine justices decided for the American people that same sex marriage should be a reality in all 50 States.

If many of you are like me, you were probably shocked as well. I am sure other emotions may have been and still are running through your veins. Emotions like: Anger, dismay, hopelessness, sadness, even fear — fear of what is to come. Fear for our children and the world in which they will grow up.

As I have talked to many of my friends, read my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and thought and prayed myself, one question has consistently come up: How should Christians Respond?

As I have thought, prayed, and searched Scripture, the Lord has given me several ways we should respond.

(1) We Must Respond In Love, Not with Anger, Hate, or Violence

Searching Scripture, the Lord led me to 1 John 3. There John says in verse 11 and 15,

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 Jn 3:11–15)

As Christians we must heed these words and respond in love. We aren’t to hate. We aren’t to turn to anger or even violence. We as Christians are to love. We are to show care, compassion, grace, and mercy to the gay community and those who support them.

That doesn’t mean we condone their activity, back down, or roll over and let others do what they want to us. We must stand our ground. We must fight for our rights. We must reject the decision handed down, but we have to do it in love.

(2) We Must Respond by Trusting in the Lord

While the Supreme Court decision didn’t go the way we wanted. While our country is slipping further and further from the original intent of our founding fathers — that we be “One Nation Under God.” Even though our Religious Freedom may be slipping away. We must still trust in the Lord.

We must trust in Him because He is sovereign. Psalms 47:8 says,

God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.” (Ps 47:8)

God is the one reigning. He is the one ruling. That was true 1,000 years ago, 100 years ago, last month, last week, 1 day ago, today, and for all eternity, God is reigning and ruling. There is no authority greater than Him.

Consider what Paul says starting in Colossians 1:16 about Christ,

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16-17)

Did you catch that? All things were created by Jesus. Thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities were all created by Him. He is the authority above all authorities. There is no greater authority than Him.

Along with there being no greater authority, we know that every authority is ruling because the Lord appointed them.

Romans 13:1 says,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Rom. 13:1).

So what happened this last week was no mystery to God. It didn’t slip through the cracks. The Lord allowed those nine justices to sit on the Supreme Court, knowing that this last Friday, five of them would publish the majority opinion in favor of Same-Sex marriage.

Since the Lord is Sovereign, knows all things, He is who He is — all powerful, just, merciful, gracious, loving, kind, etc. — we must continue to place our trust in Him.

We may not always understand the way the Lord works. Why He allows certain things to happen, but one thing we do know is that the Lord is sovereign, His plan is perfect, so we must continue to place our trust in Him.

(3) We Must Respond By Preaching the Gospel

As the Supreme Court decision was handed down, those for Same-Sex marriage were exuberant. You could hear their cheers in videos, their excitement was evident in the media, and on social media. They were excited because they believe this win will satisfy them and give them something they long for — peace. But that is not true. Nothing in the world can give us peace. This world is ruled by the domain darkness, and it provides no lasting hope, satisfaction, or peace. Only Jesus provides peace.

In Colossians 1:19 and 20, Paul writes,

For in him [speaking of Jesus] the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth on in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:19-20)

Only through Jesus can we find true peace. That’s because the peace our heart longs for is not the peace of social or civic justice, but the peace between man and God. Deep down inside we know we are sinners, who will answer to God one day. Try as we might to rid ourselves of that reality, it is still there. That is why we fight for peace on this earth. It is the natural longing of every human. In our effort, we may experience temporary peace, but we will never experience peace with God unless we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Unless we see ourselves as sinners who have sinned against a perfect and holy God, rejecting Him as our Creator and Ruler for our own rule. Unless we realize that, and turn to Jesus as our Savior, believing He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, we will never experience the peace for which we long.

So as Christians, one way we can respond in love is by preaching the gospel, sharing it with the lost world, because it is only through the gospel that they will experience peace.

(4) We Must Respond By Preparing for Persecution

In his gospel, John, quoting Jesus, says in chapter 15, starting in verse 20,

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:20-21)

According to Jesus, His disciples must prepare for persecution. We must prepare as well because as we shine the light of the gospel into the world, the world will respond in one of two ways: They will either accept it, or they will reject it.

Those who reject the gospel may not just reject its message, but they may seek to silence us through persecution. This is going to be especially true as Christians take a stand on God’s Word.

Same-sex marriage is a polarizing topic in our country because you are either for it or against it. As we take a stand on the truth of God’s Word, we will be called things like bigot or hater. We will probably be excluded from certain activities and benefits. Our businesses or jobs may even be in jeopardy. The culture will try to silence us. (We have already seen those things happen in certain parts of this country.) Our freedom to exercise our religion will continue to be strangled. So as a church, we must prepare for persecution.

We must prepare by:

  • Banding together as a community of believers who are committed to praying for, encouraging and strengthening one another. If there is ever a time we need to reconcile with one another and live in true biblical community, now is the time.
  • Reading God’s Word to strengthen our knowledge of and trust in God.
  • Continuing political action to fight for our right to exercise our religion.
  • Supporting those who are fighting for our rights already. People like Russell Moore who is the President of the ERLC of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So as a church, we must prepare for persecution.

(5) We Must Respond By Praying for Our Leaders

Scathing rebukes in the media, violence, and hatred will not change the hearts of those leading this country. The only thing that will change their heart is God and His gospel. As Christians we must pray for them.

Paul in 1 Timothy 2, starting in verse 1 says,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim. 2:1-6)

So we must pray. We must pray because the Lord commands us to pray. We must pray because prayer is the only thing that will change things. We must pray because the Lord desires all people to be saved and the only way they will be saved is through Jesus.

I have been dialoguing with a guy recently who is all about Christians being political. He is all about it because he believes it is how things will change.

I am not against political action, certainly Christians need a voice in politics. However, I also know that nothing is going to happen politically if people’s hearts stay the way they are — dark and without the gospel.

So we must pray because the only way anything will change in our country, is if people’s hearts are changed.

Question for Reflection

  1. How else should the Christian respond to the same-sex marriage decision?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon: The Christian and the Same Sex Marriage Decision. Listen to the full audio here.

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God’s Original Design for Marriage

Marriage Ceremony

Marriage is under attack in this country. The attack isn’t just coming from the LGBT community, but from all fronts. The mainstream media often pictures marriage as something to dread, as a last resort, or something modern couples don’t need.

Marriage, however, isn’t something to dread. It isn’t a last resort, or something to shrug off. Marriage is a wonderful union instituted by God. One God designed to be a blessing.

What is God’s Original Design for Marriage?

In Matthew 19, Jesus tells us God’s original Design for Marriage. Jesus says,

Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (vs 4-6)

Jesus’ response is grounded in creation and it teaches us at least four things about God’s design for marriage.

(1) Marriage is between a man and a woman 

Genesis 1 and 2 tells us God created Adam and Eve in the beginning. Eve was created as a helper for Adam, to complement and assist him in his God given job.

God’s choice and design of Adam’s helper is significant. God didn’t created another man to help Adam. He created a woman. A woman with different gifts to complement and help Adam. A woman who was able to bear children so they could fulfill God’s command to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). So from the beginning God’s design for marriage has always been between a man and woman.

This idea is not popular today. The LGBT community would have you believe marriage is for anyone in a committed and loving relationship. That, however, is not how God designed it. Again, from the beginning, God’s design for marriage has always been between a man and a woman.

(2) Marriage is between one man and one woman

God didn’t create several wives for Adam. He created him one helper, one wife.

I know what you are thinking: What about Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, or Solomon? They all had several wives. They all were blessed by God. So why can’t we?

I think that brings up a good point. Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s the best practice, it doesn’t mean it is permissible. Before you brand me as a heretic, let me explain.

The Bible is designed to teach us. Sometimes God teaches us through commands, while other times He teaches us through life examples. When we look at the lives of those who had multiple wives, the Bible teaches us it’s not for the best. On the surface, it might seem like a good idea, but it’s not. It just creates an atmosphere of jealousy, deceit, lies, and competition. All things that aren’t good.

If you want a modern day example of polygamy and its negative affects, the show Sister Wives is a good one. The show chronicles the lives of the Brown family. They are a part of a fundamentalist Mormon group that believes in polygamy. Kody, the husband, has four wives and 17 kids.

After watching a couple of episodes, its evident polygamous marriages aren’t the best marriage environment. We understand why, when we realize God created the institution of marriage to be between one man and one woman.

(3) Marriage creates a one flesh union 

When two people are married, they are literally joined together by God. They become one flesh.

The word picture evokes that of a welder. When a welder takes two pieces of metal and welds them together, those two pieces become one piece. That’s the point Jesus is making here. When two people are married, they are welded together so that they become one.

(4) Marriage is for life

Go back to our welding illustration. When two pieces of metal are welded together, they aren’t easily separated, if that can even happen. That is the same thing that is supposed to happen in a marriage relationship. Once a one flesh union is created, it’s not supposed to be separated. It is to remain as one unit for life, just like those two pieces of metal that are welded together.

Of course, this is not a popular idea today. Over 50% of marriages now end in divorce. From the beginning, however, that was not God’s intent. Instead He designed marriage as a one flesh union between one man and one woman for life.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you agree with Jesus’ teaching? Why or why not?

Resource

For more teaching, listen to my latest sermon Jesus’ Teaching on Marriage, Divorce, and Singleness.

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