Hebrews


Part 4 of Contentious Wife Equals Terrible Life

A pro-active man, makes sure that his wife has proper spiritual food on a very consistent basis.  You see this guy isn’t just cowering and ducking around and trying to avoid what hits the fan.  No, he confidently stands on the strong foundation of the Word of God and his eyes are fixed on His Savior Jesus.  The key thing that he knows is that if he is to have any hope of doing right by his wife, then Jesus has to have priority over her.  Is that true in your life?  Can you honestly say, “Jesus has priority over ____” (insert wife’s name here).  If you are not willing to go there – well then you go into the category of no one can do much for you until you repent and turn to Jesus.  (Please don’t try being proactive without having Jesus as your priority – because you will mess it up and give the rest of us a bad name.)

Okay, now that we have the key element known and solid, here is a list of the proactive things these guys are going to do:

1.  He loves his wife as Christ loves the church.
Basically this means that he is sacrificial and works hard to take care of his wife.  It does not mean that he just says yes to whatever – though Jesus is sacrificial for His church (to death) does not mean that he just says, “yeah sure whatever you want” in His relationship with her.  No Jesus’ goal for His church is for us to be pure and whole.  We should have this same desire for our wives – that they would in every way reflect the character of Jesus Himself.  In short, a godly wife is a lot like Jesus…loving, tender, compassionate, truthful, bold and sacrificial.  Let me tell you that it’s great to be married to a woman who’s life doesn’t revolve around herself or just the things in her immediate world!

2.  He is watching and observing to see that his wife is eating good spiritual food on a consistent basis.
He refuses to sit back and watch her starve herself.   Along these lines he does the following:

  • asks what she is reading in the Bible and praying about

He knows that his wife needs to eat daily of the Word of God and to spend time with her God and Savior.  He knows that if her fellowship with God is on point then the time they share together will be more fruitful and less contentious.  When my wife is regularly reading her Bible and praying then we are having some good times.  If either of us are slack, then we are headed for trouble.

  • is faithful to take her and be with her at the primary meetings of the church (Heb. 10:24-25)

Men, please listen to this one.  Your wives are generally more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and Word of God than we men are.  So there are opportunities each week for your wife to be challenged and encouraged in her walk with the Lord.  Especially if you are working to get rid of your pansiness then you can at least stand up and make the right sort of priorities so she doesn’t miss the meetings….of course this means you will need to be there too.  If one of you has to travel frequently on business then you need to arrange things to make sure you are both still getting good inputs.
I can guarantee that if you are both faithful in regular attendance (as in 6 out of 8 meetings of the church a month Sunday/mid-week…75% (this level of attendance would get you fired from your job in a hurry) at a Bible teaching and practicing church and are at all open to the work of the Lord in your hearts, then you will grow in your walk with Jesus.  If you think that you can step away from Christian fellowship and teaching for weeks or months at a time and continue to grow then you are absolutely kidding yourself.  You will stagnate and then digress…it is just a fact jack…and no you are not the super spiritual exception that doesn’t have to follow the clear principle of you get out what you put in.  (Note: there are dozens of other reasons you should be meeting for worship, Bible study and prayer – but I’ll keep this post to IT WILL HELP YOUR MARRIAGE!)

  • encourages her to have friendships with godly women.

Now when I say this I don’t just mean friendship with women who are “christians” and “go to church”.  How do you know your wife is spending time and being influenced by the right women?  The proof is in the results.  After spending time with “x” woman(en) is your wife more prone to gossip or pray, spend or give, watch some junk show on TV or read her Bible?  I’m not saying that all of the women in your wife’s life have to be off the charts godly women – hopefully your wife has women who don’t know Jesus in her life that she is witnessing to.  What I am saying is to encourage your wife to examine the type of influences in her life from other women and to make sure she is getting a heavy dose of the healthy influence.  Even as adults our choice of friendships have a great affect on us.  So gentleman, you also need to examine this in your own life.  How about make a list of the 5 friends you hang out with the most and then make an honest evaluation of their influence on your walk with the Lord.  You might find that exercise to reveal that you need some new friends or you need to reorder the time so that you don’t sabotage your own life.

Bottom Line: If our homes, churches, and communities are to have any hope of being all that they can be for God’s glory, it will be because men who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus are standing up and answering the high call of our God and Savior.  It will be because we refuse to be lukewarm, pathetic boys and grow up by the Holy Spirit to be passionate men for our King Jesus!

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On Monday, I was driving out of my neighborhood to go to a meeting when I saw a small dog running past me going the opposite direction. Dogs in my neighborhood do not generally run around – they are walked – and I could tell this was definitely an inside dog.  I stopped and tried to get the dog, but the little one just kept on running.  I knew that I wouldn’t like myself very much if I went ahead to the meeting and came back to find the dog laying dead on the road.  So I turned around and with the help of a couple neighborhood kids and another man caught the little guy – actually a girl – named Sweetie!

Sweetie’s dog tag had an address from the other side of town and a phone number.  “How in the world did you get way over here?”  I called the number, but I just go an answering machine.  So I grabbed a dog crate from my house and headed to my meeting with Sweetie in tow.  No return call before, during, or after my meeting.  When I got home it was dark, and I’m thinking that I will just have to figure this out tomorrow.  Before taking Sweetie in for the night I grabbed a leash in hopes that the dog would use the bathroom outside and not in my house.  As I’m walking back toward the house with the dog behind me, I suddenly realize that there is no longer any tension!  I turn around, and I all I have is the leash with the entire dog collar including the identification tag!  “Oh no!”  I look around the other side of the truck and yard – no dog – I look up the road and there is Sweetie – booking it.  So I take off after her IN FLIP-FLOPS…I had already played basketball and mowed a lawn so I don’t have much in the tank and this little dog is fast.  So the rest of this is like something out of a movie – I’m yelling at a car to stop that is about to run her over.  I lose track of the dog at one point and don’t see which way it went, the dog ends up running across 5 lanes of traffic, several motorist point me in the right direction, and people are looking at me like I’m crazy because I’m at a full sprint in flip-flops.  A 1/2 mile later from when we started running, I finally catch up to Sweetie in the Wendy’s drive-thru.  She is now safe once again.  After some detective work the next day, I was able to track down the person who was in charge of watching Sweetie while the owner was on a cruise.  The son-in-law who is a local police officer called to thank me and told me that Sweetie was a “rescue dog” and that she is an escape artist…with a history of running away.  In his opinion, this cute, little, dog is very fortunate to still be alive.

I’ve been reflecting some this week about Sweetie, and how I have observed that many people are the same as Sweetie – running away from the Person or people who are trying to help.  Ever since I was old enough and spiritually mature enough to understand it I have seen people run away from Jesus.  They think they are wise and are doing what is best for them – but they run from Jesus and into the Enemy’s trap.  It is only by the grace of God that more are not utterly crushed.  I’ve also noticed over the last 15 years the tendency of people to run from the truth tellers and spiritual helpers in their lives.  In western culture it is in large part due to the drastic individuality we are taught to embrace. “Whatever makes you feel good is right for you,” and “You don’t have to listen to anyone but yourself,” are the mantras of our culture.  The extreme emphasis on the individual is a great hindrance toward healthy churches in the west today.  So, if you are being like Sweetie, STOP, and let Jesus grab you with His gentle and scarred hands and let Him embrace you deep into His love.

Please take a few minutes to read and meditate on the following verses:

Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Praise Jesus for His sacrifice for us!)

I Timothy 1:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…”

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect, and may God use this for His glory and honor.

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The questions:
Am I right with God?
Is Jesus currently sitting in His rightful place as king of my heart and life?
Am I doing the basic things that a follower of Jesus should be doing?
Am I loving God with all that I am?
Am I more concerned with the things of God or am I more concerned with the things of myself?
Am I loving my neighbor as myself?
Do I put the needs of others on an equal or higher place than my own needs?
Have I dealt with sin in my life so that I am striving for holiness?
Can I say that I have no known and unconfessed sin in my life?

Beginning my Bible reading this year in the book of Isaiah, it is easy to see that God has always been holy and forgiving. Read Isaiah 1:15-20.

15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
16 “ Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
18 “ Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Now surely we are not actively pursuing personal gain by oppressing people. As a church we are “learning to do good; seeking justice, rebuking the oppressors, defending the fatherless, and pleading for the widows.” However, we must always strive to have God as #1 in our lives and live in such a way that we can be confident that we aren’t just giving lip service to a set of good ideas and beliefs, but that our hearts are right before God.

If you have not been made right with God in a final sense, then you need to understand that there is nothing you can do to save yourself because just like everyone else you are a sinner and a spiritual failure. You need to recognize your need for Jesus to save you from your sins because He is the only one who can. You need to tell him you are sorry for all the bad things you have done and for the unholy person you are and thank Him that He died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead. If you genuinely put your faith in Jesus then you are what we call born again – a saved person – a believer – a saint. You can now expect the world to call you crazy.

Now let me remind you that those who are redeemed by the grace of God through faith have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have such an advantage over those who the prophet Isaiah was speaking to. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, and we have the complete Word of God. If you are consistently in the Word of God and in prayer then your sins should be obvious to you (Hebrews 4:12-16). 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

As a safeguard our lives should be open books within the church, and we need to give others the freedom to call us out when they see us in error.

We have the opportunity to always have very short accounts of our sins. Do we realize that we should always be able to go to bed at night with no unconfessed sin? How is this possible? Well if you have sinned in such a way that only God is offended, then you only need to confess to God and you know that Jesus is your Great High Priest. (Examples – you let your mind dwell on sinful thoughts of pride or lust). If you have sinned against your brother or sister through your words or your actions, you ask for forgiveness from that person and from God. In the days that we live with cell phones and email, we normally have no excuse for not making it right the very same day!

Even if by a hardness of heart we went a few days with unconfessed sin, surely having the bread and cup before us, representing the body and blood of our Savior would drive us to confess. For we know with certainty he who eats and drinks the bread and cup with knowingly unconfessed sin eats and drinks judgment to himself (I Cor. 10:13-17, 11:23-34).

10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Participating in the communion is a testament that we are right with God, that we have our heart and our priorities in order, that we being multiple people show that we are one body of Christ (the church) as we take the bread. We are testifying that we have no unconfessed sin before God, and that as much as depends on us we are right with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that our testimony to the world is solid. It is something that surely we should take with seriousness for we will be held accountable. And if there is something that we need to confess or do before we can partake of it – then we should be focused on taking care of that quickly – because what a dreadful thing to not be in a place where you can remember the Lord as He asked.

Being right with God has both a personal and communal aspect. Here is a reminder of what dcf as a church family is!

We are group of people drawn together by God for God’s glory. Jesus is the head of this church. He is the Chief Shepherd. The elders (Acts 20:28) are responsible to shepherd the flock, the deacons are to help serve and meet needs as they are appointed by the elders. The members are to be equipped and to do the work of the ministry as co-workers with Jesus, the elders and deacons. Our responsibility as a whole is to be obedient to Jesus, to love God, the believers, and the lost, to seek justice and to live in such a way as to help others. We praise God for all He gave us in 2008 and all the good works He enabled us to participate in. We boldly ask for much more for 2009 as we are stirred to love and good works. Let us pray!

I have been intrigued by this subject for a while because it is a major social trend.  Many people view cohabitation as a trial run for marriage to see if they are compatible. About 10% of couples in the USA claim to fall into the cohabitation category (a higher number have attempted cohabitation with marriage being a future option) but in many European countries the percentage of those currently cohabiting much higher – in the 15% to 30% range.  The USA is currently headed in a clear direction toward more people cohabiting as a precursor to marriage or an alternative to marriage.

Cohabitation is another issue that can be difficult to write about because many people have done this or are doing this. One of my primary reasons for writing this is to help people avoid pain.  I have approached the subject from both a Biblical and statistical perspective.  Obviously the Bible is quite clear on the issue (see Hebrews 13:4 and II Timothy 2:22 below), but I was shocked at the degree to which the statistical data backs up what the Bible teaches.

If you take 100 couples who are practicing cohabitation, 5 to 10 of them will cohabitate for longer than 10 without breaking up and without marrying, 45 of them will have a “premarital divorce” – meaning that their relationship will not make it to the marriage ceremony.  Of the 45 who do marry, 33 of them will get a divorce (almost 75%)!  This leaves 12 couples out of 100 that have survived cohabitation and will still be married after 10 years.  If you include the higher estimate of 10 for couples that maintain cohabitation for longer than 10 years without marrying, then you have 22 out of 100 couples that are still together 10 years later.*

Based on those numbers, I think all would agree that the odds do not favor cohabitation.  We can also clearly state that 40 to 50 % of all marriages end in divorce.  So just getting married is not the solution. According to Michael McManus who wrote a book on the subject, premarital sex is also a huge factor. They took 233 couples who agreed to stop having sex until their honeymoon and went through premarital counseling.  A decade later only 7 of those couples were divorced or separated.  Overall the Church has been very slack in this area and the statistics prove the consequences with the divorce rate of church service attenders being about the same as the general population.  Church leaders need to set people up to win by speaking the truth in love and setting clear expectations.

Problems with cohabitation:

1.  It does not work because you cannot practice permanence.

2.  “Pre-marital divorce” is often as painful as regular divorce.

How to put yourself in a position to win:

1.  Do not have premarital sex, or if you are sexually active then stop having premarital sex.

2.  Do not cohabitate, or if you are cohabitating then move out.

3.  Get premarital counseling that is not “fluff”.  You need to do this with someone or a couple who will tell you if they think it is a bad idea for the two of you to get married.  The counseling should be very practical and talk openly about subjects that you will face in your marriage: sex, money, communication, future plans, thoughts on kids etc…

4.  Included in the counseling have a marriage inventory taken so you can see compatibility or the lack thereof.

5.  Be involved in a Bible teaching church and in that church have REAL relationships where you have honest and serious communication.**

What if we were cohabiters and/or had pre-marital sex?  Does that mean our marriage is doomed?

Absolutely not!  The grace of God is sufficient and available.  In every marriage the couple should keep an eye on their relationship.  If your marriage is becoming frayed then asking a married couple you respect to be a mentor couple can be a great idea.  Marriage counseling may be necessary for some.  It is better to admit weakness now then to go through divorce later.  

* Michael McManus “Living Together: Myths, Risks, and Answers”

** In many churches these types of topics are very difficult to approach because the church is either legalistic making it almost impossible for people to be honest about their struggles.  Or the church is carnal and has no standards and expectation for behavior; therefore, sin is overlooked or even promoted. In both cases gossip often ruins the day.  Church leaders must insist on a loving, gracious, honest, and confidential environment if we are to make real progress in these areas where losing has become the norm.

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…”

II Timothy 2:22, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

God is not being mean when He gives us these imperatives.  He really does know what is best for us!