Pastor Ken’s Monday Marriage Message & Thoughts on a Thursday

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage – God Shaped Husband and a God Shaped Wife

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where together we search God’s instructions to experience highly successful marriages. Last time I concluded our series on the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. Today I want to begin looking at the prescriptions for both a God Shaped Husband and a God Shaped Wife.

In our most recent series the focus was on the order of authority within a marriage as laid out in God’s word. As a part of that study of 1 Corinthians 11:3, I did speak briefly to the actions of a godly husband and wife, as they pertained specifically to maintaining the God-ordained marital order and structure. Now I would like to delve deeper into the scriptural prescriptions for a God Shaped Husband and a God Shaped Wife.

One might ask why I keep using these terms for a husband and wife, and that is a reasonable question. First and foremost, I do so because as I have said many times before, the primary purpose of marriage as stated by God Himself is to reflect His character. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God chose to create mankind in His image and His likeness. Verse 27 tells us that in so doing He created both a man and a woman. In the very next chapter in Genesis 2:22-24 we learn that God created that first man and woman in a one flesh or married condition. Furthermore, He said that going forward He would join future men and women in marriage to recreate what He had accomplished with Adam and Eve. Following that understanding, it becomes abundantly clear that a marriage is intended to reflect God, therefore the participants of that marriage, the husband and wife need to be…God Shaped ones.

Second it is important to understand that if we were not called to live up to a standard as a husband or a wife, then each would need to determine for themselves how to do that best. A third grader can see the value and logic in having a standard for such an important undertaking, yet most married people can’t see that the bulk of their marital difficulties arise from trying to define for themselves if they are a ‘good’ husband or wife. Most people are not overtly evil, and the vast majority of us believe ourselves to be ‘good’ people. Therefore, most of us act as a husband or wife in good faith, thinking we are doing the best we can given our circumstances. Interestingly enough, I have noticed as a marriage counselor that most husbands and wives I encounter in my office do not believe that their spouse is doing the best they could.

Why do we find ourselves in marriages where we believe we are doing the best we can, but our spouse isn’t putting in the same effort? Why do our spouses agree completely with that assessment except that they think the tables are turned in the other direction? The answer is simple. We have attempted to dispose of the standard. We each are defining for ourselves what a husband should look like and how he should act. We rely completely on our own understanding to decide if a woman is being a good wife or not. These determinations are made based on a myriad of information. Our families of origin and the marriages we each watched growing up…that by the way were having many of the same difficulties we are struggling with. We also draw on our life experience and our own set of core beliefs to help us know how to interact as spouses. Among the most dangerous sources of information of how our spouse should be treating us is the alter-universe of comparison. Movies, books, songs, checkout line magazines…and don’t even get me started on social media…all of it designed by the enemy of marriage to cause us to think our spouse is mistreating us, and they are probably never going to live up to being what we and they know they should be.

Scripture identified the problem we run into when we each want to develop our own standard. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12 They use themselves to measure themselves, and they judge themselves by what they themselves are. This shows that they know nothing. Without a standard everything becomes acceptable…except when it no longer is. When that happens we want to find and dust off the one true standard, but because we have not been following its prescriptions ourselves it often gets misapplied. I couldn’t count the number of times I have had someone sit in my office and ask me to endorse their view (often a one-sided one) of what scripture says their spouse is doing wrong. The standard is crucial for success. As I said a few moments a go, most third graders can identify its importance. But, who gets to set the standard? The obvious answer is that God does. But, why? God isn’t even married after all. God is the author of the institution. He is the Creator of marriage and therefore is reasonably the only One capable or worthy to set the standard. Marriage is primarily intended to reflect Him, who better to enlighten us about how He acts, and therefore how we must act when imitating Him. There is simply no one better.

Psalm 19:7-11 say this of God’s instructions to us… The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

Finally, it is important to be a God-shaped Husband or a God Shaped Wife because it reminds us who we are responding to. In a marriage where we decide what is best and how we should act as a husband or a wife, we do so in response to one of two people. Us or them. What I mean by that is that If I choose to act toward my wife in a particular way because it is what I saw growing up and so I think it is the normal thing to do, I am responding to myself. This can have good or bad repercussions. When I was growing up, my view of a husband was being the one who had the final say. My father isn’t a chauvinistic pig…far from it, but in the final analysis what he said in our home was simply going to be the way it went. My childhood view of that helped me develop some core beliefs about marriage that are not altogether correct. When I was younger and a little less endowed with white hair I may or may not have encountered some marital difficulty as a result of that particular core belief. In those moments I was responding to myself, and my firm belief that I was acting within the bounds of my understanding of what a good husband was supposed to be.

More often yet, our actions are explained as re-actions. We say that we have acted in a particular manner because of the way our spouse acted toward us. After all, every action has an equal and opposite reaction…at least that’s what I learned in 3rd grade science. In all seriousness we often use the actions of another to excuse our own. “I know I shouldn’t get that way, but they are so selfish sometimes”! “I wouldn’t normally have said that, but you just made me so angry”. “I don’t like it when I can’t communicate with you peacefully, why do you have to be so argumentative all the time”? in each of these cases, and the hundreds of others that cause people to visit my office, those spouses are responding to one another. Sometimes most of their interactions have become a response to the other. As a young man I knew such a couple. The first thing they said to one another in the morning was in reaction to what one of them had said the day before. Their interactions were simply a perpetual response to one another and precious little of it was positive. When we determine what a good wife or husband should be and ours doesn’t live up to our standard, what choice do we have but to respond to them in a way that shows our displeasure with them?

All of that changes when we let God set the standard. When we decide we are going to be a God shaped Husband or a God shaped Wife, we will be interacting with our spouse but we will be doing so in response to God. If I am going to be a God Shaped Husband, then I have to look to God to know how to do that. When I consult Him through His written word and prayer, any positive action I take is one of obedience to Him. In those moments I am interacting with my wife but I am responding to the One who instructed me how to go about the interaction. Neither my wife or I wrote the bible, we did not invent marriage, so when we do what God says, it is in response to Him. A far better result occurs when I respond to God rather than myself or my wife.

In his book, Love and Respect, Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs says it this way “My response is my responsibility”. I like that. It is an empowering statement. I get to choose…will I respond to myself, and my idea of what a good husband would do? Or will I respond to my wife, will I act in reaction to whatever she has done to me? Will my responses to her simply be determined by the way she acts toward me? Or will I respond to God? Will I interact with my wife in the way He has instructed me to? The real question is…will I allow Him to be Lord, and take my correct position as His servant, and do exactly what He wants me to do?

Another understanding “My response is my responsibility” reveals is that I have to pay attention to what I am doing, not what someone else has done. I call this concept. “Eyes on your own paper”. I remember hearing a teacher or two admonish classrooms I was part of to keep our own eyes on our own papers. In other words, pay attention to what YOU are doing. Every time I have tried to inspect my wife’s actions to see how she could improve at being a wife…I fail to be a good husband. I have never maintained my ability to be a God Shaped Husband while telling her how she is currently failing at being a God Shaped Wife. Reflecting God is a full time endeavor and requires every bit of concentration we have. If I don’t keep my eyes firmly fixed on my own paper, I will fail bitterly in my attempts to be a God Shaped Husband.

Finally, “My response is my responsibility” keeps me mindful that no matter what is happening in my marriage, I have the ability and in fact the responsibility to make it 50% better. What I mean by that is this. No marriage is perfect, yours would be…but you and your spouse are in it. Mine would be…but my wife and I are in ours. We are all profoundly fallen people living in a profoundly fallen world and so we have a propensity to do profoundly fallen things. Every marriage is a struggle at times for one reason or another. Some experience deeper struggles, some experience longer lasting problems. Some of the struggles come from outside sources, some on further inspection we seemingly invite into the mix. Regardless of what the difficulties are, how big, long lasting, or how they got there, every spouse can choose to be a God shaped one. What about those situations where just one of you seems to know or even care that God has instructions for how your marriage is supposed to operate? If that is you…then be a God Shaped Husband, or a God Shaped Wife and through your obedience it will likely become at least 50% better. “My response is my responsibility”

Join me again next time as we begin to dive into God’s word and find the prescriptions for a God shaped Husband and a God Shaped Wife.

So now, accepting that your response is your responsibility, and that in your marriage you need to respond to God…Go be awesome.

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where together we search God’s instructions to experience highly successful marriages. Today we will continue with our look at the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. This will be our eighth and final installment in this series looking at the differing roles of the Husband and the wife in the greatest of all human relationships.

Each of the episodes in this series have been based on 1 Corinthians 11:3. There the Apostle Paul wrote the following. But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. I used the first few editions in the series to consider the role of a husband, and the fact that according to our focal scripture he is directly responsible to Christ for his interactions with his wife. In the last few episodes we began focusing specifically on the important position of the wife within the marriage. In those we delved into topic of submission and what it really means for a wife to submit to her husband while understanding her value is equal to his in every way. Today we are going to look at the final phrase of this scripture verse and what it has to say about the Order and structure of a God Shaped Marriage.

As I mentioned in past editions of this series, we have been working our way through 1 Corinthians 11:3 phrase-by-phrase keeping with the very structure and order with which it was written. I have also made the point that this verse not only sets the God given structure of authority in the marriage of a husband and wife, but also the Godhead that marriage is intended to reflect. This is valuable on many levels but the one I want to concentrate on today is that the marriage of Adam & Eve, and every marriage since has been only a reflection of the greater Godhead that created all of them. In light of that, Paul writes that there is a common thread to the order of authority that runs all the way through the hierarchy. According to this scripture, this God ordained order for our marriages is actually part of the reflection. Allow me to read our focal passage once more, But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Let’s take a few minutes to look closely at this final phrase so that we can highlight what our marriages are supposed to be reflecting. “…The head of Christ is God.” According to this passage, within the Godhead there is also an order of authority. God the Father is in authority, and Jesus Christ the Son, who is the Father’s equal, willingly submits to the Father. The bible tells us that Jesus is God. The Apostle John began his gospel with that very truth. In John 1:1-4 John wrote of Jesus, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The bible also points to the fact that Jesus is equal to the God the Father. Philippians 2:5-6 says Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. This means that Jesus is God and that He understands that he has the exact same value as the Father. God the Father is not superior to the Son and the Son is not inferior to the Father. They are both perfectly holy and are therefore equal in their superiority over all things.

Our focal scripture from 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us that the head of Christ is God, or in other words, God the Father is in authority over Jesus the Son. We can see that further explained if we continue to read on in the passage from Philippians we were just looking at. Beginning again in Philippians 2:5 and this time continuing on to verse 8 we read, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,…but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Verse 7 tells us that Jesus who is completely and totally equal to the Father chose to give up his standing of equality with the Father. It is highly important that we understand this did not make him unequal to the Father. The Son is still equal in value with the Father, He does however, voluntarily submit to the Father and recognize the Father as being in authority over Him. This verse goes on to indicate that Jesus was even taking on a servant role. This means that Jesus, The Fathers equal was choosing to interact with the Father in a servant / master type relationship. Verse 8 goes on to illustrate just how far Jesus was willing to submit to the Father in that relationship. It tells us that Jesus humbled Himself and was obedient (to the Father) all the way to being willing to die. Jesus knew this was not going to be a quick or painless death. It was death on a cross, which just for clarification was not only slow and painful but also considered by all a degrading way to die. The Romans used the public shame of crucifixion as an extreme deterrent keeping their subjects from revolting. Jewish people felt it was so degrading that it was not fitting that a dog should die in this manner. Yet Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, equal to God the Father in every way, submitted to the will of the Father…even to the extent of being willing to die…on a cross.

In Matthew 26:39-42 (NLT) we can read of the difficult time of prayer Jesus had the night before his crucifixion. There it says, 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” 42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” This passage illustrates the level of commitment Jesus had for remaining in submission to the Father. I appreciate that it exists. By allowing us to see into this very private time of prayer between Jesus and His Father we get to see that although perfect in every way, even in His submission to the authority structure of the Godhead, Jesus was not without the emotional struggle we also sometimes experience when submitting to authority. Though we can see that the struggle was very real for Jesus, as it often can be for us, we also see His resolve to submit, that the plans of the Godhead might succeed, and He did not falter, and He is our example.

Let’s continue now reading in Philippians and see what the result of Christ’s submission to the Father was. Philippians 2:9-11 say Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So, in the Godhead (which our marriages are to reflect), the response to the willing submission of an equal is that the One in authority exalts the One in submission. In response to the willing submission of the Son, God the Father has highly exalted Jesus and given Him the Name that is above all other names. In other words, God the Father has responded to God the Son’s submission by speaking about the Son in ways that He speaks of no one else. God holds the Son in highest esteem and regard because the Son was willing to submit. Therefore, husbands understand this, your wife’s submission to you is deserving of your highest regard. She should have a name on your lips that is higher than any other name. There should be no one that you speak of with a level of regard anywhere close to the esteem you hold her in.

Our focal scripture for this series tells us about the marital mirror that God looks into desiring to see Himself. It tells us that when He looks at our marriages He sees a man and a woman both equal in value and joined as one by Himself. It suggests that marital mirror will consist of a husband who operates in loving authority as God the Father does. It also expects it will include an equally valuable wife who willingly submits to the husband’s authority in much the same way as Jesus, submits to the authority of the Father.

By concluding our focal verse, the way that he did, the Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit did a marvelous thing. If He would have spoken only of the order and structure of authority within the marriage, husbands alone would have been able to look to Jesus as their example because the head of every man (or husband) is Christ. However, by including Christ’s position within the order and structure of authority within the Godhead, the wife also has the opportunity to look to Jesus for her example. The husband can look to Jesus as his example of how to be one in authority because Christ is in authority over every husband. The wife can look to Jesus to see how to be in submission because Christ places Himself in submission to the Father. Because Paul included not only the order and structure of a marriage but also the framework of the Godhead, Jesus becomes available to both a husband and a wife as an example how each should fulfill their roles within the marriage. Paul shows us by the incredible work of the Holy Spirit just how to have a God Shaped Marriage.

As I said earlier, this episode will conclude our look at The Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. In the weeks ahead I hope to expound on scriptural prescriptions for a God-Shaped husband and a God-Shaped wife.

So now, purposefully and willingly stepping into your specific; God-ordained, Christ-exemplified, and Spirit-empowered role in your God shaped marriage…Go Be Awesome!

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 7

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where together we search God’s instructions to experience highly successful marriages. Today we will continue with our look at the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. This will be our seventh edition in this series looking at the differing roles of the Husband and the wife in the greatest of all human relationships.

Each of the episodes in this series have been based on 1 Corinthians 11:3. There the Apostle Paul wrote the following. But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. I used the first few installments in the series to consider the role of a husband, and the fact that according to our focal scripture he is directly responsible to Christ for his interactions with his wife. Last time we began focusing specifically on the important position of the wife within the Structure and Order of a God Shaped Marriage. In that episode we delved into the much misunderstood topic of submission.

Knowing that the concept of submission inside marriage is a bit of a touchy subject I considered carefully how I would approach it. As a pastoral counselor, I understand that teaching some of the precepts in God’s word can at times be problematic. This is not because there is some problem with what God’s word has to say, God’s word is infallible. It can be difficult based on our level of willingness to accept what it says as right and true. Sometimes that gives us trouble. Unfortunately, as human beings, when we don’t like, or personally agree with something we tend to close our minds to it by simply ignoring the subject all together. So, when there is a topic like submission that must be practiced to enjoy marital success, the challenge is to convey the truth without people metaphorically sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “I can’t hear you…I can’t hear you!” With this in mind, I had to consider carefully how to best speak on the much misaligned concept of submission.

Psalm 19 tells us that all of God’s precepts are perfect, that all of His ways lead to successful living. It tells us that if we will take scriptural guidance seriously it will bring blessing to our lives. Nowhere is that more true than in the marital relationship. If we want the blessing of an amazing marriage, we must follow the prescription written by the author of marriage. Who would know more about the correct operation of successful marriages than the creator of the institution? Furthermore, as I have documented many times before, the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect who and what God is. Certainly there should be no arguing that God is most capable of giving us proper instruction as to how to best reflect Him.

If we are willing to forsake what we think about it in the natural, submission is actually a very interesting idea. It presumes the essential truth that the person offering their submission is equal in value to the person in leadership or authority. Slavery is accomplished when one who is bigger, stronger or of some greater ability forces the involuntary subservience of another. Slaves have no choice in the matter, they are forced to serve the one in authority. Submission is not slavery. When one submits, they choose to do so. Submission is an act of the will. I must volunteer to place myself under the submission of another, because I am an equal with any human authority I choose to submit to. This is also true of a wife’s submission to her husband, I pointed out last time how God used specific words when referring to Eve that clearly indicated her equal value to Adam. Every wife who chooses to obey God’s perfect precepts for marriage and willingly submits to her husband, who holds no greater value than she does, is also positioning her marriage to receive blessing.

While we are on the subject of submission there are few things I think necessary to note. First and foremost, regardless of whether we are speaking of the husband or the wife, ultimately how we interact with one another is in response to God. The scriptural prescriptions for a successful marriage have been given to us by God Himself. So far in this series I have looked to Ephesians chapter 5 for specific instructions to a husband and a wife as to how they can each align themselves with the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage as laid out in 1 Corinthians 11:3. There we read that a husband must lay down his life (his goals, needs, and desires) for his wife (putting her goals, needs and desires above his own). Last time, we looked at how a wife is instructed to place herself in submission under the authority of her husband in all things. These are instructions from God’s word. These are not demands made by a spouse. Our adherence or lack thereof is in direct relationship to the level of submission we place ourselves in under God. It is truly essential to our marital success that we fully grasp this understanding.

As a husband, when I love my wife the way that scripture instructs me to, in other words when I meet her needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) simply because the need exists. I am doing so because I am submitting to my God who instructed me through His written word to act in that way. When I lay down my life (make my needs less important to me than my wife’s needs are) I am lowering myself in comparison to her that she might be elevated. Why do I do that? I do that because God’s word says I should, therefore those actions are in submission to God. If I choose instead to be selfish and put myself first, then I am being dismissive of God and His specific instructions to me as a husband. If I submit to God, then my marriage has greater ability to reflect Him, experience success, and be blessed.

When my wife Lynn submits herself to me in all things as she is instructed to do, in actually she is submitting herself to God. Not because I am her god, I am not…I can totally admit that I would make a terrible god. Ultimately, she is submitting to God because it is God who instructed a wife to submit to her husband in all things. Her submission to me then actually says far more about her relationship with God than it does her relationship with me. We are each solely responsible before God for our response to Him. Therefore, our obedience or disobedience to God is a reflection of the condition of our individual relationship with Him…nothing else. Consequently, we cannot use the unwillingness of our spouse to follow the commands given them by God to justify our non-compliance to the commands given to us. I cannot say with any validity whatsoever, that I don’t have to obey God, if my wife isn’t obeying God, and even though the wife is under the authority of the husband, she has no basis to make such a claim either. As Dr. Emmerson Eggeriches likes to say concerning this…“My response is my responsibility” I couldn’t agree with him more.

Having made that point, let me move to the next one. Ephesians 5:21 takes the position I just outlined a step further. It says Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Only when we understand that submission to our spouse is in fact, submission to God, and that our spouse’s choice to submit or not to submit to Him is to have no effect on ours, are we are able to rightly understand submission to one another. Here in this scripture, Paul points out that submission to God means submission to one another. While a wife’s submission to her husband is her responsibility before God, (Ephesians 5:22) there should also be mutual submission taking place at all times (Ephesians 5:21). Romans 12:10 tells us to Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. In other words, our love for one another should spur us to submit to the needs and desires of each other.

In my humble opinion there is no other place in scripture that illustrates submitting to one another within the marital relationship quite like 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 – Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. The context of these two verses is undoubtedly speaking of sexual intimacy within the marriage. In that context these verses are self-explanatory (though admittedly slightly confounding) . However, when a scriptural principle illustrates truth at a certain level, that truth remains relevant at lesser levels as well.

Like any of God’s instructions we don’t like and want to dispel or ignore so we won’t be obliged to submit to them, we can try to argue that this scripture is an example of circular reasoning and therefore renders itself invalid. We would be in error to do so, and arguing something doesn’t make it so. In fact, I know it flies in the face of conventional wisdom and contemporary thinking, but I would argue that this scripture governs any action involving a married person’s physical body. My wife and I believe this scripture regulates a concept we have dubbed “Marital Veto Power”.

We agreed when we married that we each had veto power concerning the other. This is based on scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 7:4, Romans 12:10 and Ephesians 5:21, all discussed above. We believe we have the right (and dare I say responsibility) to tell the embodiment of the other half of our one flesh that we are not in agreement with a certain activity, and the other must comply. Allow me to illustrate. I love riding motorcycles. Prior to marrying me, my wife had never ridden one, but I had been riding them with my dad since the age of 5. He taught me to drive one myself at 12 years of age and I have been enjoying them ever since. On hot days I love being on the motorcycle and prefer the wind in my face to the air conditioning a car offers. When it is really hot the only thing that feels better than the wind in your face is the wind blowing through your hair too, so on those days, I like riding without a helmet. When we married, my bride told me she didn’t mind at all if I rode motorcycles, she just wanted me to wear a helmet when I rode. There are all kinds of valid studies that show that riders who don’t wear helmets statistically crash less and experience less head trauma when they do have accidents compared to those who wear a helmet. My wife did not find this information compelling at all. After some discussion it was agreed that if I was within town limits and the speed limit is 25MPH or less I am free to go helmetless, however, if the speed limit is above 25 MPH, I must wear my helmet. Because she feels that way, I wear my helmet each time that is the case. I often wear it even if I am downtown. I do not have authority over my own body, my wife does, and because I love her I prefer her and submit to her wishes. Let me say that Marital Veto Power should be used very sparingly otherwise it will simply be viewed as one spouse being a ‘control freak’ or ‘power hungry’ neither of which is a good look.

Submission isn’t a dirty word; it isn’t setting ourselves up to be a doormat. Submission is a voluntary act of the will that requires strength and understanding. It is not something that renders us weak or foolish but rather, strong and wise. Submission to each other is actually submission to God who instructs us to interact with one another in that way. Remember, how we interact with our spouse is in direct correlation to how we respond to God.

So now, responding to God as you should so that you can successfully enjoy a God shaped Marriage…Go be Awesome!

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 6

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me yet again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions together to learn how to experience a highly successful marriage. Today we will continue with our look at the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. This will be our sixth edition in this series and we are beginning to shift our focus to the wife’s important role in the greatest of all human relationships.

Having been led to 1 Corinthians 11:3 as the focal passage for this series, and considering that the series is dedicated to structure and order, I have directly followed the very structure and order of the passage. Meaning, I have chosen to expose the truths contained here phrase-by-phrase just as they were written. In the Amplified Bible that verse reads as follows: But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. In the past episodes of this series we have covered the concept of Christ being the head (or the One in direct authority over) every man (or every husband in this context). Last time I introduced the next layer mentioned in this verse covering the structure and order of marriage and the Godhead it is designed to reflect. This portion of the passage identifies that “The head of a woman is her husband”. Though this means that the husband is the one in direct authority over the wife, I was careful to make sure that there was no misunderstanding that Paul was somehow saying that a woman had to go through her relationship with her husband in order to have a relationship with Christ. I shared several other scriptures that clearly dispel that erroneous notion. I also took the time to show that from the very words God used to describe and define Eve as a wife, there can be no doubt that men and women are equally valuable to the marriage. Both are equally necessary to their successful ability as a married couple to fully reflect God. In the past I have highlighted many of the ways that scripture points out the unique ability a woman to reflect God in ways men are not capable of doing nearly as well, if at all. When joined as one they become a marital mirror intended to reflect their maker.

I want to move forward now by restating something from last time. Some of the scriptures we will be looking at have for a very long time been the cause for dissention. I think much of the difficulty with them has come from misunderstanding and misinterpretation. I believe that those difficulties diminish if husbands don’t look at these scriptures as an opportunity to dominate, and wives don’t read them believing that God is saying they are not as valuable as their husband is. Selfishness is what makes husbands want to dominate, and causes wives to want to resist authority. That is why I believe our focal scripture to be so vital to this discussion. It does not simply say that there is a structure and order of authority within a marriage, it continues and illustrates that same structure and authority exists in the Godhead as well. Why is all of that important? Because if wives are to correctly understand their equal value with their husband in the marriage, and gladly adhere to its scripturally defined framework, they need to be able to see that just as Christ is supposed to be their husband’s example of how to love them, Christ is also their example as to how to be a godly helpmate.

Before we begin digesting scriptures that contain that easy-to-misunderstand word submission allow me to reiterate some important facts.

  • Submission to authority does not equate to inferiority.
  • Scripture clearly illustrates that even within the triune Godhead authority and submission to authority are necessary components of success.
  • Jesus Christ, the Son of God voluntarily offered His submission to the will of the father so that Their united purpose could be accomplished.
  • Though Jesus’ submission to God the Father was voluntary it was not optional if success was to be the result.
  • Jesus’ submission to the order and structure of the Godhead was crucial to the completion of the united will of the Godhead.
  • If marriage is to reflect the framework of the Godhead as designed, the prescribed marital structure and order of authority must also be adhered to.
  • Finally, a wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary on her part. She is in complete control of her decision to submit or not to submit. However, it is not optional to the success of a God shaped marriage.

With those truths in mind, let’s look at scripture and see what it says about a wife’s incredibly important role in the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage.

There are several passages that define the valuable place a wife holds within the marriage and how she best fulfills that role. Ephesians 5 is probably the most well-known and I think the most comprehensive so we will begin there. Today I am going to read Ephesians 5:21-24 from the Expanded Version because although it makes for wordy sentences, it offers a broader view of what the original text actually means in our English language. There these verses read as follows: [Husbands and wives] Yield [Submit; Be subject;…yielding/submitting; grammatically linked to the previous sentence, and so part of being filled with the Spirit] to each other out of reverence [respect; fear; awe] for Christ.

Wives, yield to [submit to; be subject to;] your husbands, as you do to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. And He is the Savior of the body, which is the church.  As the church yields [submits; is subject] to Christ, so you wives should yield [submit; be subject] to your husbands in everything.

Several important notations about these verses must be recognized if we are to have a clear understanding of what this scripture is saying. In verse 21 there are several points we need to see. As husbands and wives our personal relationship with God should have a defined consequence in our marital relationship. Submission is to be a natural result of walking with the Lord. Certainly there can be no confusion about the fact that if Christ is Lord and we are but the servants in that relationship then we are to submit to His authority. Here Paul writes that out of a deep reverence or great respect for Christ as Lord, we need to also be ready to submit to one another. Furthermore, because this verse is the completion of the thought preceding it, we should also make the connection that this mutual submission between a husband and wife is a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. So, according to Ephesians 5:21 if Jesus is Lord of one’s life and that person is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, if they are also married, the natural outpouring of their relationship with God will be submission to their spouse. The following verses lay out specifically what that mutual submission should look like for each spouse. In past episodes we saw how a husband is commanded to illustrate his submission to his wife and today we will look at what that submission looks like for a wife within the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage.

Verses 22-24 speak directly to what a wife’s role is in that high calling. Wives, yield to [submit to; be subject to;] your husbands, as you do to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. And He is the Savior of the body, which is the church. 24 As the church yields [submits; is subject] to Christ, so you wives should yield [submit; be subject] to your husbands in everything. According to this scripture (and others we will reference later) a wife’s submission to her husband should look much like her submission to the Lord does. Paul is clear that just as the church submits to Christ (its head, or leader in authority over it) a wife should also submit to her husband. Paul states that the church submits to Christ in all things, and likewise a wife should submit to her husband in all things.

I have often heard the argument offered to this God-given instruction. Many have said to me that of course the church submits to Christ, Christ is God and is perfect. Christ would never lead His bride the church, in a way that is not absolutely the best for her. He would never lead in a way that might turn out badly. The defense these women site for not always (in other words in all things) following this command to them is that their husband is not perfect and is capable in leading in erroneous ways. Because of this they decide that their submission to their husband needs to be at their discretion. If they think that the direction of their husband is correct, then they have no problem with submission to it. If, however, they deem his leadership to be incorrect or not good for them or the family, they believe their submission to him should be optional. The problem with that is found in these very verses. If they are not being submissive to their husband (in all things) as commanded by God’s word then they have just become dismissive of their Lord, which puts them in the position of wrongdoing.

When it comes to offering our submission to the authority of an imperfect person, we need to experience a paradigm shift. Submission to authority isn’t about being right it is about doing right. Two episodes ago in this very podcast we looked at the way a husband submits to his wife. According to Ephesians 5:25-29 a husband is to lay down his own wants, desires and needs and first meet his wife’s wants desires and needs. He is to do this because they are one, and when he puts her first, he is putting himself first so to speak. Ladies, you are not perfect either, if your husband does not agree with your actions and attitudes is he freed from the requirement to love you as Christ loves the church? Is his love for you to be offered at his sole discretion? I think not. If he were to choose when to genuinely love you and when to put his own needs above yours, he would also be dismissive of the command of his Lord upon his life.

As one of several Pastors on staff at our church I have a Senior Pastor in authority over me. He is a good and godly man and I am fortunate to know that I can trust that he seeks God’s leading as he leads us. He is in fact a good and upstanding man…but he is not perfect. There have been times when I have disagreed with him in terms of what he thought should be the next step for us as a church. In those times I have sought him out privately to share with him my thoughts and to ask him to reconsider or give me further explanation if possible for his decision. There have been a few (a very few) times where I was still not convinced that his decisions were the best possible. In those it has been vital that I understand submission. I have to know that while my submission to him as the one in authority over me is voluntary (only I can choose to submit) it is not optional. It is not about being right; it is about doing right. God’s word tells me to submit to those in authority over me. When I submit I am doing what I have been commanded to do, I am doing the right thing. Will the action or activity I am submitting to always turn out to be the right decision, will it always work out best? No, but when it doesn’t, if I have been submissive and done my part to make every effort toward its success, then it will be the leader, not I who will be scrutinized. If I balk and do not submit and the idea fails, I will not be viewed as the one who diverted us from disaster, I will likely be pointed out as the one who was not supportive and therefore possibly the cause of the failure. Submission is not about being right it is about doing right.

Next time we will look more closely still at submission and what it means to success both in a marriage and within the Godhead that marriage is designed to reflect.

So now, understanding that submission in your marriage is a two-way street but that God says it is the one way to success, submit to Him by submitting to one another…and go be awesome!

Silent Night

Hi, this is Pastor Ken. Generally, on Thursdays I bring you my thoughts about some currently notable subject or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. However, for the past three years on the Thursday before Christmas I have shared with you a Christ-centered Christmas poem or Christmas story by another author that I found valuable. This year I decided to bring the words of a well-known Christmas Carol and the back-story behind its writing. So here are my Christmas thoughts on this Thursday, December 21st, 2023…Silent night.

Allow me to begin by reading the words from the now famous song. I find that we often sing songs that are well known almost automatically giving voice to the lyrics. This auto-response to the melody sometimes conceals the depth of each stanza’s true meaning. So I thought…its Christmas…let’s open the gift of the originally intended meaning and expose each verse free of its melodious wrapping.

Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace; sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night. Shepherds quake at the sight. Glories stream from heaven afar. Heavenly host sing al-le-lu-ia. Christ the savior is born; Christ the savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night. Wondrous star, lend thy light. With the angels let us sing, Al-le-lu-ia to our King. Christ the Savior is born; Christ the savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night. Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord at thy birth; Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

In the New Living Translation Isaiah 7:14 says, The Lord Himself will give you a sign, Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and call Him Emanuel (which means) God is with us. Just two chapters later we read in Isaiah 9:6-7; For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s armies will make this happen!

There can be no argument that the evening that the virgin Mary gave birth to the Lord was indeed a Holy night. That night the glory of God was revealed in human form! The word of God recorded for us in Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled on that Holiest of nights. Was it a silent night? That I am not so sure of. A baby was born, in a stable…in the small city of Bethlehem. Luke 2:1-7 tells us about it. At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

We do know that it was not a silent night out in the pastureland where the shepherds were. Luke 2:8-20 tells us about all the noise in the normally quiet fields outside the city. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. It was a Holy night to be sure…Silent? Not so much…at least not as far as the angels and shepherds were concerned. Their excitement and jubilation was however the only reasonable response to finding out that the Messiah had finally come to set His people free, once and for all time!

So what is the back story for this well-known Christmas Carol? Allow me to set the stage. It was Christmas eve in the Alps. A new church had just been built in a small village near Salzburg Austria. In the new church Father Joseph Mohr prepared for the midnight service. He was upset because the new church organ was not working properly yet which he felt would ruin the musical part of the Christmas Eve service. Father Joseph was about to discover that our problems are often the hand of God working in ways we do not yet understand.

It came to Father Joseph that he should write a new song, one that could be easily sung without the organ. He hastily wrote down the words, “Silent night, Holy night all is calm, all is bright”. Taking those and the words that followed to his organist, Franz Gruber, Father Joseph explained the need and asked Franz to compose a simple tune for the new song.

That night, December 24th, 1818 “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet, accompanied by a guitar at the aptly named Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf.

A short time later a craftsman named Karl Mauracher came to repair the organ. There he heard the story of the new song that the broken organ had made necessary. He acquired a copy of the lyrics and melody and spread it throughout the Austrian Alpine region. He called the song, “Tiroler Volkslied”

The song came to the attention of the Strasser family who had four children who sang the song at many fairs and festivals. They were once even invited to perform it for the king and queen of Austria which ensured the growing fame of the song. As a result of their regular performances of the tune, they became famous folk singers in the region much like the Von Trapp children a century later.

“Silent night was first published in a German church hymnal in 1838. It was used in German churches in America and first appeared in English published in a book of Sunday School songs in 1863. If it had not been for a broken organ in a newly built church 45 years earlier…there would have been no “Silent Night”.

I have become accustom to closing out my podcasts by telling you to “Go Be Awesome” But this week I think I will simply wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year filled with Hope. However, I do think it fitting just this once to borrow a different sign off line, one much more famous than mine. As the late Paul Harvey would have said at the end of a recording such as this one about “Silent Night”…”So now you know the rest of the story…Good Day!”

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 5

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 5

Hi, this is Pastor Ken welcome back to another edition of the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage. We will continue today with our look at the scripturally given order and structure of a God shaped marriage.

Since the beginning of this series, I have directed your attention to the God-given order and structure of a God Shaped Marriage found in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Once again, that passage in the Amplified Bible reads as follows: But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the Head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the Head of Christ is God. As the focus of this series is order and structure, I felt it doubly important to follow the very order and structure of this focal scripture. Therefore, I dedicated the past several episodes to men as husbands, following the lead of Christ. We looked carefully at several different scriptures and noted just how husbands can interact with their wives, just as Christ our overseer, interacts with His bride the church.

We will now shift our focus to the second portion of this passage “The head of a woman is her husband”. Before we push further into the exposition of this verse allow me to clarify a point that I feel important to address. My concern is that there could be an unfortunate misunderstanding when considering this verse void of its context. One could take this verse to be indicating that a wife’s relationship with Christ must go through her husband. This is simply not true at all. Scripture is clear that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is possible for anyone who believes in Him (John 3:16).  Others speak directly to believing wives who have unbelieving husbands, which should negate any argument that a woman (wife) cannot have a direct relationship with Christ. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Furthermore, Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is actually no distinction between men and woman, meaning that both are capable of joining with Him. With that concern addressed let’s move forward.

Just as I did concerning husbands’ interactions with their wives, we will now look at what the bible has to say about how a wife should interact with her husband. A wife’s position in a God Shaped Marriage is one of incredible importance. Eve’s God given title was that of a helpmeet. This is not a word commonly used in contemporary vernacular but the meaning has not been in any way diminished with its use. The idea of a helpmeet comes from the original Hebrew words [ezer] pronounced [ay’-zer], and [Neged] pronounced [neh’-ghed]. As I explained in the first edition of this series, these words used together, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance, mean an absolute counterpart to a perfect set.  Eve was created the absolute counterpart to Adam. She was so in every way having been literally created from Adam’s own flesh. God then proclaimed His desire to recreate that same result in others going forward. He decided that a man would leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two of them would quite miraculously become “One flesh”. Marriage is God’s process of recreating the one flesh experience of Adam and Eve in every man and woman that enters into this sacred relationship. Ladies, if you believe that it is God who joins a man and a woman in marriage, then you must also accept that when you marry, you become your husband’s helpmeet, his absolute counterpart.

Scripture describes God’s hand in the marriage process. Proverbs 19:14 in the Amplified Version says; Houses and riches are the inheritance from fathers, but a wise, understanding, and prudent wife is from the Lord. Men, it is high time we begin to understand that though God may not have put each of us to sleep, removed a rib and created for us a wife of our own flesh, she has been given to, and joined with us, by Him. What is the greater miracle, to create a perfect counterpart from our own flesh, or make us one flesh with someone in marriage and in so doing offer to us our absolute counterpart?

In the New Living Translation Proverbs 31:10-12 say this… 10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. The idea of this passage isn’t that such a wife doesn’t exist or can’t be found, but rather that it would be beyond difficult for us to do so without God’s direction. There are two schools of thought concerning this. Some believe as I do that God loves us so much and cares so deeply for His institution of marriage that it matters to Him who we marry. Others believe that it is completely up to us who we marry and God restrains his work in our lives within the bounds of our absolute free will. Regardless of your belief about the level of involvement God exercises in who we marry, the following is still true. Jesus said that when a wedding takes place, God joins that man and woman and creates of them a “One flesh” condition identified as marriage. A man and a woman, as husband and wife, are the only ones who can experience that unique human relationship. God is integrally involved in every marriage, and so His Son Jesus concluded, “What God has joined let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6 & Mark 10:9)

So, how does a woman interact with her husband as his absolute counterpart in a God Shaped Marriage? Remembering that the point of a God Shaped Marriage is to reflect Creator God let us begin by revisiting our focal scripture. But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the Head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the Head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3) In this verse, when we look at the Godhead that marriage is supposed to reflect, we see that the Head of Christ is God the Father. Jesus is one of the three persons of the triune Godhead. The Trinity as we refer to it, is beyond our human ability to completely define but there are some truths we are able to extract from our limited understanding of it.

  • The Trinity consists of Father Son, and Holy Spirit
  • They each have differing functions but perfectly united purpose
  • God the Father is God, but is not and does not act as Jesus the Son or the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus the Son is God, but is not and does not act as the Father or the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit is God, but is not and does not act as the Father or Jesus the Son
  • Each One is completely God, and united, they are the one true God

Why is the notation of all of that important? Because ladies, if you are to correctly understand your equal value to your husband in the marriage and gladly adhere to the scripturally defined order and structure of your marriage, you will need to be able to see that just as Christ is your husbands example of how to love you, He is also your example of how to be a godly helpmeet. The Apostle Paul made the point in our focal scripture that the head of Christ is God the Father, but it is also important to look at what Jesus said Himself about that concept?

In John 10:30 it is recorded for us that Jesus said of His relationship with God the Father, “I and the Father are One. Here Jesus is making an incredible statement, He is self-identifying as being equivalent with God. This was so outrageous to those who heard it that they were ready to stone Him for blasphemy! In John 5:30 however, Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me”. Are these statements contradictory? Not at all. In the one in John 10:30 Jesus is identifying that He and The Father are both equally valuable persons in the Trinity, just as a wife and husband are equally valuable persons in a God Shaped Marriage. In the second example from John 5:30, Jesus is illustrating that He and the Father work together toward their united purpose and the necessary structure and order to the Godhead that makes that work successful is identified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Jesus also made further statements that showed His voluntary submission to God the Father as a decisive act of cooperation bringing about the fruition of their united goals. In John 12:49 Jesus said, For I have never spoken on My own initiative or authority, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment regarding what to say and what to speak. (Amplified Bible) In John 14:31 Jesus told His disciples, “But so that the world may know [without any doubt] that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father has commanded Me [and act in full agreement with Him]” (Amplified Bible) In John 15:10-11 Jesus made this interesting statement. 10 “If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing”. This statement identified Jesus position as one in authority over us, as well as one submitting to the authority of the Father to serve our need. He said that His joy and ours is fullest when God ordained order and structure of relationship are followed. Ultimately, Christ’s submission to God the Father was summed up in His exclamation while under extreme duress in the garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, “Father if there is any other way…but not my will, but your will be done”!

In the next installment, we will delve deeper into the much-misunderstood concept of submission. However, I felt it critical before we did so to take time to lay the groundwork for the following statements.

  • Submission does not equate to inferiority
  • Scripture illustrates for us that even in the structure and order of the Triune Godhead authority and submission to authority are necessary components for success.
  • Christ (God the Son) voluntarily offered His submission to the will of the Father so their united purpose could be accomplished.
  • Though Jesus’ submission to God the Father was voluntary it was not optional.
  • Jesus Submission to the order and structure of the Godhead was necessary to the completion of the united will of the Godhead.
  • If marriage is to reflect the framework of the Godhead as designed, the prescribed marital structure and order must also be adhered to.
  • A wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary…however; it is not optional to success of a God Shaped Marriage.

So now, with willing hearts as both husbands and wives to act in the ways that Jesus does to the betterment of your God Shaped Marriage…go be awesome!

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