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

Ephesians 5:21-33 Vol. 5 – January 31st, 2023

Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for the Monday Marriage Message. Today we will continue with our in-depth look at Ephesians chapter 5 verses 21-33. This is our fifth installment in this series, and today we will be looking at verse 24.

For context, I will begin reading again in verse 21 and finish with our focal passage for today, Ephesians 5:24. Submitting to one another in the Fear of the Lord. Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Now verse 24, Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

As you will remember, these verses and the ones to follow are in response to verse 21. Submission to, or preferring one another is a two way arrangement, but is not reciprocal. What I mean by that is that we are instructed in verse 21 to submit to one another. Submission is intended to go in both directions. When I mention it is not reciprocal, I mean that submission or giving preference is not an agreement between two people that if one submits when they should the other will act in kind when it is their turn. IF the command to submit came from one another, that arrangement might make sense. However, the instruction comes from God in His word, therefore we follow the instruction for Him and the actions or lack thereof from our spouse should have nothing to do with our desire to obey our Lord. So submission is intended to go both ways, but should not be looked at as reciprocal. This mistake has been made for all time and invariably leads to a breakdown of submission when we deem our spouse unworthy of our preference for one reason or another based on how they are interacting with us. It is impossible to carry out an intended selfless action from a selfish mindset.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, verses 22-24 are that instruction from God as to how women are to make themselves submissive to their husbands. Likewise, verses 25-29 are instruction as to the husband as to how he is supposed to prefer his wife’s needs over his own, to lift her up and make her most important in the relationship. We have all heard that marriage is a 50-50 relationship. This statement is not true. I have even heard that marriage is 100-100, that whoever needs to put 100% in does so, and then when the other spouse needs to, they will put 100% into the marriage. The second is closer than the first, but God’s word seems to indicate that both are to put 100% in, submitting to one another completely at all times.

Last week I spoke about the fact that the placement of husband as the head of the wife is simply to fill the requirement of order in the marriage. It does not indicate his superiority nor her inferiority in any way. Husbands and wives, men and women are created completely and totally equal to one another. As I illustrated last week, headship is simply in place to bring order, and leaves both parties with requirements to live up to. Wives are to submit to the headship of their husbands and husbands are responsible for the well-being, physical, emotional and spiritual, of their wives.

In light of all of that, verse 24 might seem at first glance as nothing more than a literary exclamation point on the earlier command. However, the original text leads to greater discovery about the original instruction to wives. The Greek word that we translate to Subject  has some important intimation. It does not indicate that wives are to be made subject to their husbands, but rather that they voluntarily place themselves under the authority of their husbands just as people who accept Christ (the church) voluntarily put themselves under His Lordship. When you came to that moment and gave your life to Christ, no one made you do so. It was a place in time where you came to the saving knowledge that you needed Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. As your spiritual eyes were opened you knew the best place for you was under His authority and Lordship. In recognition of who He is and in gratitude for what He had done for you, you made yourself subject to Him.

One might say, “But, Pastor Ken, my husband has not died for me like Jesus did.” I would answer, perhaps not, but by that same logic, if you don’t make yourself subject to him in everything, he shouldn’t be required to lay down his life for you. Obviously, when you look at both sides of that argument it becomes mute. In fact in the very next verse husbands are charged with making that very sacrifice for their wife. When we begin to look more closely at that next week, we will discover a man’s responsibility to consider his wife more important than himself is placed upon him by God, and his response will either be in obedience or opposition to his Lord. Likewise is a wife’s response to the call of her Lord to voluntarily place herself in submission to her husband in the same way that her fellow Christ followers subject themselves to Christ.

There are two considerations I think important to make at this time. First, that these commands to wives and the ones to follow that are directed toward husbands are no different than any other command given to us in God’s word. Even the Ten Commandments are voluntary, yet not optional. Every command given us by God Almighty is required of any who desire to be righteous. Yet, in light of the free will He perfectly saw fit to endow us with, obedience to any of His commands is a yielding on our part. We surrender our will to match His perfect will for our lives. In so doing we illustrate our love for God. Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. In light of that statement, and this passage, it quickly becomes evident that when a wife voluntarily makes herself subject to her husband in everything as the church is to Christ, she is illustrating her love for God in a beautiful way. The same can be said for husband’s who voluntarialy lay down their lives for their wife, as we will read about next week.

Second, I think it important that we note that marriage is the illustration of the relationship God desires to have with us. I often say that marriage is the practice field where we learn to execute well on game day. For those of you who have not heard me use that analogy before, what I mean is that in marriage we learn all of the necessary actions and attitudes of one who will have a good and healthy relationship with God. It is in marriage that we practice giving ourselves to one only, just as God requires of us…He must be the only God in our lives. Marriage is where we learn to love another with all of our ability and resources. Why? Because God calls us to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength. Marriage is also the relationship where we practice learning to submit to and prefer one another, just as God requires us to do in response to Him. Marriage is the practice field in this life where repetitiously we become versed in how to be in relationship with our God on Game day…for eternity. Here again, the motivation for why we need to respond to our spouse correctly, is so that we can respond to God correctly.

My hope is that we eventually all come to the conclusion that our marriages aren’t nearly as much about the relationship we have with our spouse as they are the relationship we have with God. I believe whole-heartedly that is the reason God used marriage as the illustration of the relationship He desires to have with us in 66 out of 66 of the books in His word.

Questions to answer:

  • Wives – What does it mean to you that your submission to your husband is in actuality an act of submission to God?
  • Husbands – How does your wife’s answer to the question above adjust a past misunderstanding you may have held in regards to this scripture?
  • How might both of your hearts toward God and each other change in light of a closer look at this passage?

Actions to take:

  • Discuss what you think of the idea that your marriage is the practice field where you have opportunity to improve how you will execute on game day.
  • Ask God to help both of you look at your submission to one another as an act of love toward Him.

So now, recognizing that our obedience to any command we have from God’s word shows Him just how much we love Him…Go be Awesome!

Legacies – January 26th, 2023

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Legacies

This week I have attended several funerals. One might think that pastors get used to going to funerals…this one probably never will. It is the fact that I know that so many people are hurting in such close proximity to me that makes them difficult for me. Many people dislike funerals because they believe them to illustrate our frailty. My physical weaknesses don’t necessarily bother me. What is hard, is knowing there is nothing I can do or say for those experiencing the pain of loss that will be of any immediate comfort. I must admit, as a counselor, not having the right words of encouragement sometimes does leave me feeling quite frail. Some dislike funerals because they believe them to point out the fact that all of us are mortal. Its true that one day we will all be the focus of everyone’s attention at a funeral. Again, personally I am not bothered by that notion. As a Christ follower, I know and believe that this life is only a mist, I am here today and gone tomorrow. Others still find funerals difficult because they view them as indicating the end. I choose a different outlook…I subscribe to the perspective that they simply signal the beginning.

Christians know these things to be true. We hold fast to the belief that when our mortal bodies cease to function, our eternal life begins. We believe that because of the faith we have confessed in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, in light of our acceptance of the fact that He died on the cross for our sins, specifically that we might live with Him forever…we will do just that. We understand that His word tells us that when we die here, we live there…in the twinkling of an eye, we will see Jesus, face-to-face. The bible tells us that in Heaven, there is no more pain or sorrow. All of our weakness will be gone forever. We know that there, we will live forever in His presence and in His power.

However, that is not the only reason I don’t think of frailty, death or an ending of life when I attend funerals. There is another consideration that addresses each of these concerns and unlike the truths I mentioned a moment ago, they occur here in this world as well as in Heaven. When a genuine Christ follower draws his or her last breath here on earth, they are able to experience the following scripture in a way we can only imagine. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Paul wrote of what was for him yet to be experienced, but for the ones we honored at the funerals I attended this week it is their current reality. That scripture says; For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. The two men I am referring to today, Bill and Gary, fought the good fight, they each finished their race and finished it well. What does that mean? It means they lived as best they could the way Jesus wanted them to. It means that their acceptance of His free gift of life and forgiveness of their sin had the effect on their lives that Jesus desired when He gave his life in exchange for theirs. It means that the outcome of their lives was the joy set before Him that enabled Him to endure the cross…It means they each left an amazing legacy.

Each of their legacies will live on here in this world. When we consider legacies, we often think of the few largely notable things that a person may have accomplished in their lifetime that will stand to help others. When I think of a legacy, I ponder the smaller multitude of things done in their lives that illustrated the image and likeness of God. I think of the daily investments in others, starting with their own families that built their legacies. I think of how these two men fulfilled the legacy building actions found in Deuteronomy 6:5-7; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Both Bill and Gary went home to be with the Lord in the space of a week’s time, but that was not their only similarity. They were different men to be sure. They had different occupations, lived in different towns, but they served the same God, and lived their lives empowered by the same Spirit. Both of them loved God with everything they had. They weren’t perfect…just being perfected, but the commandments of their Lord were on their hearts. They did pass them on to their children and their children’s children. They did talk about their relationship with their Savior everywhere they went and with everyone they met. The Jesus they showed to and shared with others impacted many lives, lives that will go on to show and share Jesus to with others, who will do the same. That is a legacy that lives on…here and in Heaven. That is a legacy that illustrates the power of Christ…which knows no weakness. That is a legacy that is strong, never frail…and that legacy will never die!

These two men left amazing legacies. Each of theirs began when they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, and they built them one day at a time…for the rest of the time they were given on this earth.

Each of us will also undoubtedly leave a legacy. Ours will be remembered as examples of what a person should do…or not do. Bill and Gary knew what to do and they did it. They have heard those coveted words “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Their joy is now full and complete. Their legacy lives on here as it changes lives going forward, and in heaven as they are able to gratefully and lovingly place the treasure they stored up there at the feet of Jesus.

So how can we ensure we have a legacy like Bill and Gary get to enjoy? First and foremost, be in constant, close relationship with Jesus but then carry out the example of the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 3:12-14. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So now, following Jesus and living a life that will produce an amazing legacy like the ones Pastor Bill Sammons and Gary Bollinger left us…GO be awesome!

Ephesians 21-33 Vol. 4 – January 23rd, 2023

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. For those who may be joining me for the first time, we began an in depth study of Ephesians 5:21-33 several weeks ago and today is the fourth installment in that series.

We have covered the truth found in verse 21 that we are to submit to one another in response to our relationship with Christ. Last week we began looking at how wives are instructed to submit to their husbands. I established that the wife’s submission is not due to her being inferior to her husband in any way. Since the beginning, God created men and women of equal value, differing from one another, but both necessary to the other to fulfill their purpose of reflecting God’s attributes and character traits. Verse 22, which we looked at last time is simply put, the instruction to the wife as to how she is to carry out her responsibility for verse 21. Today I will pick up where we left off with the continuation of that instruction in verse 23.

Ephesians 5:23 says For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the savior of the body. Again, allow me to reiterate, a husband is not created superior to his wife in any way. With this knowledge, (which we saw scripturally last week based on Genesis 2:18) we can reject any interpretation of this verse that would require that fallacy for its understanding. So, if the husband is not greater than his wife, if he is not superior, nor more valuable in God’s eyes, what was meant when Paul wrote that the husband is head of the wife?

I believe that Paul, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17) was simply noting the order of the relationship. I think it critical to recognize that Paul is writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit or else we might conclude incorrectly; that at best his words were simply indicative of the culture at that time, or worse yet, that Paul himself held and intended to promote a chauvinistic view. I believe that is why this scripture uses the simile that “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church”. Logically we cannot say that our culture has evolved past the idea that the husband is head of the wife unless we are also willing to say that there is now no need for Christ to be head of the church. Every relationship requires order and consequently there must be those in authority and those in submission to the authority. Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that this is true even to the extent that it is exercised within the Godhead. There he wrote: But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Jesus Himself made the point that authority and submission were the modus of operation within the Godhead. It is recorded in John’s Gospel that Jesus noted that He did not do anything or say anything unless explicitly told to do so by the Father, found in chapter 5 verse19 and chapter 12 verse 49. If we are to read the scripture in Ephesians 5:23 and take it to mean that the husband’s authority is derived from his superiority, then we must also say that because Christ submitted to the authority of God the Father, Jesus must be inferior to the Father. That is preposterous. Jesus said that “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18) this would not be a possibility if he were inferior to the Father. I reference all of that to simply say that authority does not always indicate superiority and submission does not assume inferiority.

God ordained this system of authority and submission for the purpose of bringing order to our lives. This does not mean that selfishness and distrust in God’s precepts cannot infiltrate His plan for order. When these character flaws enter into His design there are undoubtedly negative consequences felt by all involved, but these are indicative of the misuse of authority not an indictment against the plan. The design for order is never the problem though it can be carried out selfishly and with abuse. In those cases, selfishness is the deficiency, God’s design is perfect.

This is easy to see when we look at government. God’s word clearly indicates that He placed governments in authority over the citizens they govern. His word also states that as Christ followers we are to place ourselves in submission to our governmental authority even if it is infiltrated with evil, godless leaders. The only time we are permitted to take opposition to our government is when it explicitly instructs us to act in direct opposition to God Himself. Other than those few times we are to submit to maintain His prescribed order. The only alternative to order is anarchy, which is always valueless.

It is no different in the marriage. Order is not only prescribed it is absolutely necessary. Man (Adam) was created before his wife (Eve) and is for that reason positioned the head. As we have already determined his headship is not a result of being faster, better, smarter. It is not so much a position of being placed in charge over her as much as it is that he has been charged with her…well-being, safety, and provision. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the savior of the body. How does Christ exercise His headship of the church? He is the savior of the body. He (as the husband) is savior of the body (His bride). The term savior in this context means the preserver or the one who meets every need in order to preserve. When applied this means that the husband is given charge of the wife so that he may meet each of her needs so she might be preserved. By doing this, he fulfills his responsibility for her before God who placed it upon him. The wife must put herself in submission to her husband to afford him the opportunity to meet this God-given responsibility.

So often in our society, women want to circumvent this protection and preservation out of a desire for autonomy noted by God in Genesis 3:16. They resist coming under the headship of their husbands because they want to make their own decisions. They believe they are acting in opposition to their husbands for any number of “well-thought-out” reasons, but are actually acting contrary to God who is simply attempting to position them in a place of order and  blessing for their lives. The second reason women often try to be their own authority is that they have decided that their husband does not have their best in mind. They choose to remedy this problem by discarding God’s design because their human husband is not acting in accordance with His will. God’s word is clear that this is not wisdom and has zero chance of positive impact on the marriage. Instead, in 1 Peter 3:1-2 wives are instructed; In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate, not as inferior, but out of respect for the responsibilities entrusted to husbands and their accountability to God, and so partnering with them] so that even if some do not obey the word [of God], they may be won over [to Christ {and His ways of acting as head of the church}] without discussion by the godly lives of their wives, when they see your modest and respectful behavior [together with your devotion and appreciation…—love your husband, encourage him, and enjoy him as a blessing from God]. (As read from the Amplified Version)

Again, this call from God for wives to submit to their husbands is His plan to bring order within the marriage as well as to bless wives by placing the responsibility to protect, preserve and provide for their well-being squarely on the shoulders of their husbands. As such, if a wife resists this call on her life, it is not her husband she resists…it is her God.

Peter concluded his teaching about the wife’s responsibility to submit to God by submitting to her husband even if he is not doing his part in verses 5-6. Again from the Amplified Version: For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent upon them]. It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority). And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you].

Peter purposefully used Sarah’s marriage to Abraham as the example. Peter ministered to the Jews, his audience of readers would have well known the story of Abraham and Sarah from the scriptures. Not only was Abraham the “Father of the Israelite Nation” he was also on record as being the worst husband of all time. Not once but twice he schemed to posture himself as Sarah’s brother rather than her husband. (Genesis 12 & Genesis 20) His purpose for doing this was to preserve his own life instead of hers. Twice while traveling through foreign lands he knew that because of her beauty the rulers of those lands would want to take her (sexually) for themselves to enjoy. If Abraham were thought to be her brother, they would simply take her and leave him unharmed. However, he believed if they thought him to be her husband, they would kill him and then take her and add her to their harems. Because of this, on both occasions, he twisted the truth and instructed Sarah to claim he was her brother (she was in fact born of Abrahams father’s lineage, but not by his mother). She was instructed by Abraham to say this in order to deceive those asking that he was not her husband, which he absolutely was. As I said a moment ago, Abraham committed this atrocity not once but twice and apparently did not teach his son the error of his ways because Isaac repeated this sinful behavior toward his wife Rebecca when he was older as recorded for us in Genesis 26.

As I said moments ago, the readers of 1 Peter would have been well aware of this history and the fact that Peter used Sarah and her choice to treat Abraham with respect in light of his reprehensible and unrespectable action toward her, made the example that much more impactful. Certainly, the female recipients of his letter would likely not find themselves with a greater reason for disrespecting, and shirking their responsibility to submit to their husbands than Sarah had. For the same reason, this example stands for wives even today.

Ephesians 5:23 is predicated on a God determined need for order and His desire to bring blessing, and cannot be excused or discarded because the people involved do not always act in accordance with the other good plans He has for us.

Questions to answer:

  • What have your thoughts in the past been in regards to this scripture and the statement that the husband is head of the wife?
  • How might this study change your view of this scripture if at all?

Actions to take:

  • In light of your understanding of this scripture, discuss together what impact it should have on your marriage.
  • Ask God to help both of you follow His design for order in your marriage and to do so in ways that reflect and please Him.

So now, recognizing that God’s design for order in the marital relationship is an attempt to bless you, take advantage of His desire for that blessing by accepting His design for your marriage…and go be awesome!

Really Enjoying The Meal – January 19, 2023

Hi this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Really Enjoying The Meal

As some of you are aware, My wife Lynn and I traveled to Albania a few months ago to present a marriage conference for a church in the city of Tirana. While we were there, the Pastor of the church and His wife took us and several other people to a wonderful restaurant. The destination was a farm-to-table restaurant up in the mountainous countryside about an hour and a half outside of the city. It was a beautiful setting for a wonderful meal. Literally, for several hours the waiters kept bringing course after course of pure deliciousness to our table. In my memory, I still enjoy all of it. If I wanted to share it with you, I might try to recreate some of the dishes we had there. Although I might be able to lay my hands on the ingredients here in Delaware, they might be those specific ingredients by name, but they wouldn’t be the same. First of all, the conditions in which they were grown would be different. The climate and soil in Delaware would produce a different tasting Basil for example than the same plant growing in the mountains of Albania. Even the beef would taste different depending on the local grasses it was grazed on. Here we use tomatoes, there they have tomatoes.

My point is that though the ingredients used to cook the meal might be identified by the same names, the fullness of the flavor wouldn’t always translate. If I made the dishes I wanted you to enjoy here, you would come away with an idea of how good that meal in Albania was. But…if I wanted to you understand the total experience I had in Albania at that restaurant I would have to take you there.

This can sometimes be the case when we read the word of God. It was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. The bible you and I read was translated from the original text by teams of theologians using prescribed rules of interpretation. Their task was to put into the English language as close as possible the original meaning found in the Hebrew and Greek. Sometimes however, a little bit gets lost in the translation. There are times you have to eat at the original restaurant to get the entire culinary experience.

The problem is most of us don’t read Hebrew and Greek. Thankfully though, there are tools that can help us get a better understanding. Using some of those tools I want to take a really well known scripture and explore some of the deeper meanings so we can have a fuller experience with that scripture. I won’t be using the Greek words, but I will do my best to explain the meaning of them in comparison to the English ones we find on the page.

Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Let’s enjoy this meal one bite at a time, shall we?

Be anxious for nothing…When we think of the word anxious we might imagine someone who worries a lot, is a nail biter, or someone who is always considering the down-side of the future. I would have called some of my children anxious when they were teenagers. They concerned themselves with all kinds of things…one even fretted all the way to school each day, anxious about being late. However, the original text that we have translated to the word “anxious” actually means to be divided into parts, or drawn into opposite directions. This is very interesting because it means that the warning is against allowing anything to keep us from considering everything. In other words Paul is writing that we should never allow any circumstance no matter how disturbing to cause us to only consider the down-side.

Paul continued…but in everything by prayer and supplication…here he says; instead of being divided or letting all of our thinking move toward the negative…take everything (every concern) to prayer and supplication. Supplication is another word I want to look at the deeper meaning of. We sometimes think of supplication as prayer, but it can’t only mean that because Paul wouldn’t say “but in everything by prayer and prayer”. No, supplication means more. It means praying or even pleading with the Lord for a heart felt need that is personal and urgent. So basically what Paul is doing here is covering all of the bases. He is saying don’t be divided so that worry is near and faith is too far away, instead take it all to God, take the general things that cause you concern, and take him the things that are personal and urgent, those things that are too close for comfort.

Let’s continue…with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…Here Paul tells us what kind of a headspace we need to be in as we bring our requests and deep concerns to God. We like to say “Just give it to God” but that’s not actually correct. Yes, He wants us to give Him our concerns it’s true. His word tells us to Cast our cares upon Him because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7) but here and other places we are told there is a correct way to do that. Here we are instructed to do it with thanksgiving. You might say “but Pastor Ken, I am not thankful to be dealing with the things that are making me anxious right now. I don’t know how I am supposed to be thankful for these things.” Don’t worry, Paul isn’t saying we have to be thankful for the things that are bringing us trouble. This is another word where things get lost in the translation. The original text infers what we are to be thankful for…and it isn’t the trouble we are experiencing…we are being told here to be thankful for God’s Grace as we navigate through the trouble. In other words Paul is writing that as we go to God with our concerns we need to do so with a thankful heart knowing that His grace is going to be sufficient to see us through. Having this mindset is what prevents us from being anxious or allowing all of our considerations to fall on the side of our difficulty.

And the peace of God…Ah the peace of God…here is another one that deserves a little attention. The Greek here means wholeness or complete wellness . What Paul is explaining to us is that if we take our concerns to God with a heart of thanksgiving for His grace which we know will sustain us even as we endure the trouble then we won’t be anxious or divided, we will experience peace…emotional and spiritual wholeness from God

Which surpasses all understanding…This phrase actually infers that it takes an ability to reason that is far superior to human understanding in order to even begin to comprehend the peace or wholeness God is able to administer to us through His amazing grace.

Will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…This is one also worth noting the intricacies in the meaning of the original text. This word we have translated to guard means more than simply watch over, it means to consistently stand ready to step in. In this context it means that God’s grace is consistently ready, willing and able to step in and use whatever offensive or defensive means necessary to protect our hearts and minds through the power of Christ Jesus. Did you catch that? Because of our relationship with Christ we can count on the working of His grace in our lives to be so strong and powerful that it will use whatever means are necessary to keep us steadied and held upright in faith, no matter what the trouble is. When you understand that, approaching God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving for that all sufficient grace seems to be the only thing that makes any sense. Right?

So now that we know that our anxiousness has a remedy. Now that we are aware that we should take our concerns big and small to God, but only in the confidence that peace is forthcoming as we approach Him with gratefulness for His unending grace. More than that, we know we can count on Him to use His grace to steady us and hold us upright in the midst of any trouble. Now that we know all of that, His final instruction on the subject becomes much more than a pop-culture idea of “Positive thinking”

Paul closes with this…Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

What Paul is telling us with in His closing remarks is that God’s unending grace is true. God’s delivering grace is just. God’s matchless grace is pure. God’s undeserved grace is lovely. God’s wondrous grace is worthy of a good report. God’s perfectly complete grace is the epitome of virtue. God’s amazing grace is deserving of all of our praise! When life’s circumstances cause you concern, meditate on God’s grace until it has your complete and total attention…and then…meditate on His grace some more.

So now, Thankful for God’s power that enables you to be free from divisive anxiety no matter what you may be going through…taking in His awesome grace…go be awesome!

Ephesians 5:21-33 Vol. 3 – January 16, 2023

Hi, this is Pastor Ken. Thank you for joining me for the Monday Marriage Message. Today we will be continuing to make our way through Ephesians Chapter 5, verses 21 through 33.

Last week we finished looking at verse 21, the reasons for, and the value of, learning to submit to one another in our marriages. I spoke to the fact that this mutual act of submission only makes sense and therefore, can only be possible long term if we understand who we are actually submitting to. I shared with you the importance of correct motivation. Our ability to continually submit to our spouse, who we know to be fallible, will soon become depleted as we recognize them to be no more deserving of having their needs met than we are. However, if we acknowledge that the command to submit to one another comes from God, then we understand that following His instruction is actually submission to Him. God is absolutely deserving of our obedience even when He is asking us to interact submissively toward our spouse who lacks His perfection. Verse 21 tells us what we are to do. The fact that the command comes from God’s word indicates who we are doing it for. As we continue, we are going to find specific application of how God desires for us to follow His command and submit to, or prefer one another.

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

As I said in an earlier episode when introducing this passage, this is, in my experience as a marriage counselor, one of the most disagreed with (as wives) and most misunderstood (as husbands) scriptures on the subject of marriage. It is difficult to accept when read through the perspective of selfishness sin has inflicted upon all of us. As I stated in that edition, I believe this is why verse 21 is such an important place to begin when we dissect this passage. If we don’t start with the understanding that the command to submit is mutual, our self-centered thinking can lead to an incorrect thought process that one spouse is more important than the other. The obvious danger in these three verses is that if pulled out of context they might seemly indicate that the husband is superior to the wife. Nothing could be further from the truth or the spirit of this passage. It is true, this is a directive specifically to wives as to how to implement the instruction given in verse 21. This application is to women, but men, it is important to understand that the instructions to you concerning correctly carrying out verse 21 are coming later in verses 25-28 which we will spend future episodes looking into as well.

Before we dive into verses 22-24 allow me to begin by clearing up the gross misconception that women are in any way inferior to men and that is why they are to submit to their husbands. In Genesis 2:18 it says, And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” When we complete a proper exegesis of this verse we discover many truths perhaps lost in the general translation of Hebrew to English. To begin we need to understand what God inferred when He said “It is not good”. After each day of creation recorded for us in Genesis chapter 1, God made a declaration. Each day God surveyed all that He had done and declared that it was good. God was using the word “Good” to declare it to be completed. The actual Hebrew word [towb] pronounced [to-be] in the context of Genesis chapter 1 means excellent, with no room for additional value, in other words…complete. So when God declared in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good that man should be alone, He was stating that the created human solely in male form was not finished or complete for the intended purpose of looking like, and acting as, God does. Allow me to refer to Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God clearly chose to create mankind for the purpose of reflecting Himself, and did so in completed fashion as He created both male and female.

As we have just determined in Genesis chapter 2 (which by the way is written to give us much more detail about how Genesis 1:26&27 came to be) in verse 18 God declared that man without woman was incomplete. To correctly interpret God’s recorded statement. “It is not good for man to be alone…” we have to look at the meaning of the Hebrew word we translate to the English word, ‘Alone’. The Hebrew word is pronounced [Bad] which means separated or apart from its counterpart. Using an analogy to explain this meaning, it would be as if your pepper shaker was on the dining room table and you noted that the salt shaker was alone on the kitchen counter. It would be absent from its counterpart, and though alone, it would still be a crucial piece of a set intended to be used together. In this scripture, God was intimating that in order to complete the set, He needed to united Adam with his counterpart.

To complete our understanding of this verse we have to look at the final phrase of God’s declaration. “…I will make him a helper comparable to him.” This phrase is translated from the Hebrew words Ezer [ay’zer] and Neged [neh’ghed] When these words are put together they mean an absolute counterpart to a perfect set.

I don’t want to linger too long here but it is important to our understanding of Ephesians 5 that we recognize there is no superior or inferior member of humankind. Eve was created to be the absolute and perfect counterpart to Adam. She was equal in valuation to him in every way. She was not greater or less than Adam. He was not superior to her, she was not inferior to him. They were a perfectly created matched set. Equal in every way, though often differing in function. Together in a “one flesh” condition their stated purpose was to reflect God. We will discover as we continue in Ephesians 5, that Paul wrote concerning the mysterious fact that God still creates of our marriages a “one flesh” condition that enables us to reflect Him just as Adam and Eve were intended to do.

Understanding that husbands and wives are equal parts of a whole, and are created to cooperatively reflect the image and likeness of God, let’s look at Ephesians 5:22-24 again. This time, let’s read it in terms of instruction to wives as to how to best support their husbands in that God given endeavor. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

When considered in light of all that we have discussed, Wives submitting to their husbands takes on a much different meaning. First, women should do this understanding it is required of them by God, and therefore they are actually doing so in obedience to Him. Their submission is directed toward their husband but is determinately done for their Lord. With that correct motivation she becomes enabled to do so regardless of her husband’s actions. While her words and actions may be recognized in relationship to her husband, they are in response to her God. That is why she is instructed in this scripture to submit to her husband as to the Lord. Christ is essentially saying “Ladies, submit to your husbands…but don’t do it because they are good to you, do it because I have been so good to you…don’t do it for them…do it for me!”

Next week we will continue with these verses and look at what it truly means that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. I know that this statement often leads to some difficulty when considering that God views both the husband and the wife as equally valuable. I am excited to dig into it further next time.

Questions to answer:

  • Do you look at yourselves as a perfectly matched set, each having equal value yet differing function within your marriage?
  • How should a fuller understanding of Genesis 2:18 affect your view of Ephesians 5:22-24?
  • Wives, what difference does it make in how you think about submission when you realize that your submission to your husband is actually accomplished through submission to your Lord?
  • How can your submission to your husband aid him in your marriages ability together to reflect God?

Actions to take:

  • Continue to read through Ephesians 5:21-33 daily asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you greater truths contained there.
  • Ask God to help you understand as a couple the value of choosing to respond to one another as He asks you to in regards to your marriage. Seek his wisdom and note the answers He gives to you.

So now, walking in the wonderful position that God has given you as husband and wife, and responding toward each other out of your grateful response to Him…Go be awesome!

Indelible Ink – January 12th, 2023

Hi this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Indelible Ink

Years ago while riding past a fast food restaurant in a nearby town my wife began laughing as she looked up at the sign where they advertised their current special sandwiches. There big as life was the offer to come in and enjoy their latest creation the “Big N’ Tatsy” Somehow the person placing the letters on the sign had reversed the correct order of the ‘S’ and the ‘T’. clearly it was supposed to read “Big N’ Tasty”. Lynn’s laughter increased as she turned her head to read the other side of the sign as we passed by, surely there was no way the mistake had been repeated there. And yet, no matter if you approached from the north or the south, at that restaurant and no other that I know of on the planet, for a limited time you could try the “Big N’ Tatsy”. Either no one told them of their mistake or it was simply too much trouble to correct until the next scheduled advertisement change, but for weeks we laughed as we drove by the establishment that sold the “Big N’ Tatsy”. To this day, in our home when something tastes especially good we deem it to be “Tatsy”.

That sign wasn’t immutable and after providing our family with a good deal of entertainment, it did eventually get changed. When we want to leave something open to change in our vernacular we can use several phrases to indicate that. We might say “I’ll pencil that in” suggesting that it could be erased if it becomes necessary to do so. We might also use the Phrase “It’s not chiseled in stone” to indicate that change might be possible. Sometimes we might say of something we do not want to be altered, “It has been written in indelible ink”. This statement is meant to convey that whatever has been written isn’t going away and is not subject to change. It is for this reason that we write checks or sign documents in indelible ink. The use of an inerasable media suggests that our signature represents our unchanging word of honor and even sometimes legally binds us to what we have signed in indelible ink.

In the early 1980’s erasable ink pens became popular, and some makers of writing utensils still manufacture them today. During the height of their popularity they were so prolific that one had to look to make sure a legally binding document like a contract or check was not being filled out using one of these pens. They were popular because they had all of the look of something written with a regular ink pen but could be erased as necessary to correct spelling errors like ‘tatsy’. Actually they weren’t really an ink pen at all because they didn’t contain any ink. The media they utilized was technically a colored rubber cement that allowed it to be erased. Interestingly enough, not only were they not really ink pens, they weren’t even truly erasable. It took about 10 hours for the rubber cement to set, after which time whatever had been penned using one was not so easily removed.

Ironically using ink, the Apostle Paul once wrote to the Corinthian church concerning indelible ink. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 his thoughts are recorded for us. Are we starting to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some [false teachers], letters of recommendation to you or from you? [No!] You are our letter [of recommendation], written in our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Read from the Amplified Bible.

Paul was saying that letters of recommendation concerning the message they were bringing were not needed. Though they would have been undoubtedly written in indelible ink and would have carried the full authority of whomever had written them, they were not necessary. He went on to use one of those phrases I spoke of earlier and said that it wouldn’t even bring further validity to their message if those letters authenticating them and the message were to be chiseled in stone. He said that he wasn’t even laying claim to the message. It had been delivered by him, but he understood it was written by the Spirit of God. He was explaining the message was not written with ink that could be destroyed, nor chiseled in stone that could be eroded with time, but rather that it was recorded on the tablets of their hearts. Paul was making the point that the changes in the hearts, minds and indeed the lives of the people the message of Christ had impacted was far and away more authoritative and longer lasting than the most indelible of inks.

Our lives should be no different. The mark impressed on our heart, mind and our spirit by the presence of the Holy Spirit should be everlasting. The integrity He instills in us should be immovable. Others should be able to look at the witness of our life and know it to be unwavering. We don’t pencil Jesus into our lives…His presence and influence must be a permanent fixture. Our reflection of His character ought to run deeper than ink channeled into parchment by the pressure applied by a pen. It should be far more permanent than granite struck with chisel and hammer. As Christ followers. the impact of Jesus on our lives should run so deep that when people see us…they see Him…because His message of love, mercy and grace is written indelibly on the tablet of our hearts.

So now, reflecting Jesus’ unchanging love, mercy and grace toward everyone you meet…go be awesome!

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