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

Under Construction

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, November 30thth 2023…Under Construction

About 20 years ago I fulfilled a lifelong desire. I built a house. When I say that, I don’t mean that I sat down with an architect and planned the size and shape of the house. I also don’t mean I paid someone to construct a home for me. I mean that I actually drew up the plans, submitted them to the governing authorities for approval and then personally put hammer in hand and built the house. From the footers to the ridge cap including everything in between, if it was a part of that house, I was the one who constructed it.

It was important to get each part of the build done right, but thankfully at each stage there are almost always allowable tolerances. Some level of variation is expected both in materials and workmanship. As long as the building is constructed within reasonable parameters, all goes well. Early on in the process however there was one task that was critical to everything that would follow. It was crucial for that particular job to be accomplished with incredible precision. There the allowable tolerances are as my grandfather (who was also a carpenter) used to say “next to nil”.

When it came to laying the foundation, the footers could be a little out of square or even less than perfectly level. They are poured wide enough that the block foundation can vary slightly from the centerline of the footer if need be to remain straight and true. The cement blocks can even be shaved if necessary to provide a perfectly level wall once it is completed. What has nearly no room for error is the placement of the initial corner block. If that one singular block is not perfectly positioned exactly 90 degrees to the corners perpendicular to it, nothing…and I mean nothing constructed on top of it will come out right. That one block determines the success of the rest of the project. In this day and age, it is the placement of that initial corner block that garners all the attention. In days gone by, however before the advent of cement blocks, the perfect stone also had to be found. A corner stone had to be one that had all of the necessary qualities to position it correctly and to build upon.

Furthermore, a good cornerstone is a promise of a successful building project. When you possess a good true cornerstone, you can build with total confidence that the entire structure will be strait, level and true because the corner stone is all of those things and it defines the foundation’s characteristics as a stable building surface. Certainly the integrity of the other building materials matter, but without the best possible foundation, beginning with the cornerstone, all you will ever have is problematic structure and a pending pile of rubble.

Ephesians 2:19-22 speaks of a spiritual building project. It says, Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

These days I am busy with a new construction project. This time I am not the architect, the general contractor or the builder. I am counted among the building materials. In a way this verse says that I am listed among the acceptable list of materials that are being used to build a holy temple. Essentially through the work of Jesus on the cross I have been invited to be incorporated into a house that is being constructed in His honor…for Him to live in. That house is being framed up and completed by my life and the many lives of others given to Him to use in His construction project. Our lives have been turned over to Him to use as He sees fit. The walls, and roof (our lives) are built upon the foundation that is made up of the apostles and prophets. In other words, those who were willing to follow God before we came along, and who were willing to express loudly the need for a temple like the one currently being fashioned.

This scripture also says that the foundation was laid with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. Remember the importance of the cornerstone? It is the promise that a correctly constructed temple will be the result. Jesus set the direction so that the lives of the prophets and apostles could line up strait, true and level alongside Him. Without Him none of that would be possible. If it were not for Jesus, the Son of God, the temple would be constructed solely on a human foundation. The building process would have been flawed from its beginning and would eventually have become nothing more than empty ruins. Someday that house I built will degrade and fall down if it is not deemed in the way of bigger and better things, and bulldozed first. Either way, it was constructed by human hands…my human hands and will someday be on the ground again. Only those things built by the eternal God are eternal. That is why it is vital that Jesus be the cornerstone of His house, the church.

It is only as the entire building is constructed together based on the integrity of the Cornerstone that the project can be an eternal success. We are being fitted in. As you and I dedicate our lives to Him, He helps us discover our value as building materials in His church. I can only fulfill my purpose, and you yours in His building project to the extent that we align ourselves with Him. It is only because of His integrity that we can become straight and true. 1 Peter 2:6 says Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” As we trust in Christ, and follow His lead we will never be put to shame, meaning, we will be the best we can be as we allow Jesus to be our guide.

Occasionally when I have to go into the city where I built that house, I drive by it just to see it standing there. It is not a beautiful house; in fact, it is quite plain as houses go. But I like to drive by none the less to see the house that Ken built, it was after all, a dream I have had since I was a boy. When I am there I am reminded of many of the days during its construction when I would stop after a day’s work and step back and just look at what I had accomplished. I am convinced there isn’t anything wrong with doing that, but if you want to see something really spectacular, step back and look at the house that is being built of you. You can’t take pride in it because you aren’t the builder. Nor can you necessarily point to what your contribution has added to it, because without Jesus as the chief cornerstone, our contribution wouldn’t matter. What you can do is step back and be amazed at what God is building and the fact that He can make something so beautiful from such flawed materials!

So now, thanking Him for wanting to make you a part of His construction project, and being grateful for a perfect cornerstone to set the course of your life straight…go be awesome!

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 4

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage. We continue today with our look at the scripturally given order and structure of a God shaped marriage.

Thus far in this series we have discovered that there is in fact a God-ordained order and structure to a God Shaped Marriage. We have identified where that order is outlined for us in scripture (1 Corinthians 11:3) and have acknowledged that order is reflective of the framework of authority found in the triune Godhead. In the last episode we began to look at how a God Shaped Husband interacts with His wife. There we focused on Ephesians 5:25 and the command given there for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. We recognized it must be a selfless love, one where the husband puts the needs, cares, and desires of his wife above his own. Just as Christ did for his bride when He left the glory of Heaven to come to earth to fix her sin problem. We also saw that a Christ-like husband will understand the differences between himself and his wife, seeing them not as flaws requiring change but rather as things of beauty to be cherished. With this understanding, a righteous husband will be gentle with his wife, especially when she responds in different ways than he might.

Today we will continue with our look at Ephesians chapter 5 and how it illuminates the actions and attitudes of a Christ-like husband. Allow me to read from that passage again beginning with verse 25. Ephesians 5:25-27 says; 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Last time we looked at what it meant for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. We carefully considered what the scripture meant when it says Christ’s love for the church was exemplified by His giving of Himself for her. I talked about the fact that this did not only elude to the fact that Christ died for His bride, though it was His ultimate sacrifice, and He offered it willingly for her good. In addition, we discussed some of the various ways we as husbands are given opportunities every day to lay down our lives for our wife. There the connection and application of the command were clearly defined. However, let me be abundantly clear here. The second part of this passage does not indicate that because Christ is in process of making His bride perfect for Himself, as men we can take license to direct our wives how they could be made perfect in our eyes. Remember, Christ is superior to His bride. He is perfect in every way, and we (His bride) are not. Therefore, in order for Him to become one with us, our perfection becomes a necessity. With that in mind there is a need for Him to sanctify and cleanse us so that He can present us to Himself the perfect match, just as He presented Eve to Adam, the perfect match. We on the other hand husbands, are not superior to our wives. Their imperfections do not render them incompatible to be joined with us because we too, are imperfect. Therefore, there is no need for us to interact with our wife in this same way.

If that is the case, why mention it here following the command to love our wife as Christ loved the church? Excellent question…I am so glad it has an excellent answer. When we take a closer look at the totality of the three verses I just read, we can see an interesting truth. In the past Christ loved the church by offering remedy for her sin problem that she was unable to fix by dying in her place. He offered His life as a substitutionary sacrifice and satisfied the high cost of her sin. The bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. In effect then, Jesus ransomed us by dying in our place, and so as that verse concludes, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23). In the present, He is sanctifying His bride and cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. This simply means that right now, Christ is through His word making us perfect for Himself, a perfect match in every way. It is through our obedience to His word that we become cleaned. Jesus told Peter at the last supper, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3) In the future, this same passage tells us that He will present us to Himself…perfect…without blemish, spot or wrinkle or any such thing. He promises us that in the future He will take us to live with Him forever in His Father’s house. There, as His bride, we will have access to everything He has access to, just as a wife ought to have joint ownership of all that is her husbands’. From this passage we can conclude that Christ loves the church by taking complete care of her, past, present and future. There is no time when His focus is not on what she needs and what He is trying to bless her with. In this moment, Christ is trying to position us, His bride, to be able to take hold of all of the immeasurable blessing He has for us. In that way husbands, we can love our wives as Christ loves the church. We can love her all of the time and we can give our full attention and effort to the goal of making sure she is positioned to receive every available blessing.

This passage then continues with that very idea. Verses 28 & 29 say, 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

The point being made here is that as Christ-like husbands, we give our wives the place of high regard that we give to our own bodies. This means two things. First, we meet our needs…and second, we avoid harming ourselves. We eat when we are hungry, because our body asks us to. We clothe ourselves when we arise from a warm bed, because our body asks us to. We seek medical attention when we are sick, because our body asks us to. We rest when we are tired, because our body asks us to. I could go on and on listing all of the ways we meet the needs of our body because our body calls out to us, pointing out its need, and we respond accordingly. We do not respond in anger, frustration or intolerance. We simply respond because there is a need. These verses make the point that when our wife voices a need…we should simply respond by meeting the need. Remember from our discussion last time that we don’t necessarily have to see her need as a need we also have. We are to interact with her by meeting her needs with the understanding that her needs may be different than ours, but that makes her or her needs no less valuable than ours are. So, as this verse points out, we meet our own needs, we should then also meet the needs our wife has in order that we might love her as Christ loves the church.

The second way I noted that we take care of our own bodies is that we do our best to avoid personal injury. The list I mentioned a moment ago highlighted how we meet the needs of our own body, but now I want to take a look at how we cherish it. Because we cherish this physical body God has given us, we try to keep it safe from harm. Some of that is done consciously as we take measures to make sure we don’t get hurt. For example, when we undertake a particularly risky activity such as cutting down a tree with a chainsaw, the wiser of us use specialized personal protection equipment to avoid injury. Other protective measures are purely instinctive, but still invoked because we cherish our body and we don’t want to get hurt. This would be illustrated by our instinct to run if we sense the tree we are trying to cut down begins to fall in our direction. In either case we do these things consciously and unconsciously because we cherish our body. In this scripture we are admonished that if we are willing to do these things for our bodies, meet our needs and protect ourselves, we must also be equally willing to do them for our wife because we are joined with her in a one flesh condition. As this scripture points out, He who loves his wife…loves himself, and Christ our example is busy doing these very same things for His bride, the church.

The next 3 verses are of great interest and offer an incredibly close-up view of how our marriages are intended to be reflective of God in a unique way. Many times I have used a mirror as an analogy for marriage. I conclude that analogy by saying that our marriages are intended to be a marital mirror that God desires to look into and see Himself. In the next few verses that analogy is taken to a new level. An infinity mirror is one that is actually made of two mirrors connected to one another and positioned such that what is reflected in one is reflected by the other and so on and so on…seemingly forever. These next verses illustrate how the marital mirror is actually intended to be an infinity mirror. Ephesians 5:30-32 reads as follows: 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

This scripture applies to both the husband and the wife. However, as we are currently engaged in a discussion of how men can be God shaped or Christ-like husbands, we will continue with that intimation and return to this passage later in the series as our focus shifts to that of a godly wife. Here men, we are reminded that as Christ followers, we are members of Christ’s body. We are His chosen bride. However, we do not enjoy that distinction alone as men. The Apostle Paul pointed out that we are equal heirs in the grace of God. In other words, our wives are also members of the church if they are Christ followers. Therefore, they are also members of His body. If we take more than a moment to consider this, then a new and profound truth is realized. If my wife is a believer, then she is one with Christ. Because they are one, how I interact with her is in actuality how I am interacting with Christ! Men we all know that if someone is unkind to our bride, we take it personally. Christ is no different. If I act negatively toward my wife, Christ says that He considers it the same as if I have acted negatively toward Him. I don’t know about you other gentlemen, but that isn’t something I want to occur. If someone is kind to our wife and offers help that is needed, we are grateful to that person, as if it were us they helped or were kind to. Jesus said He sees it the same way when we are kind to our wife. If our wife has placed her faith in Jesus Christ, the way that we interact with her is the way we are interacting with Christ himself according to this passage. For more on just how personally Christ takes our actions toward our spouse, I would encourage you to read Matthew 25:31-46, though I won’t be covering them here.

The passage in Ephesians 5 ends with its instructions to Christ-like husbands with the beginning of verse 33 – Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. The command here is simple and selfless, but never easy. Men, love your wife like you love yourself. Meet her needs… not the ones you think she should have; the ones she tells you she has. Avoid her being harmed. She reacts differently than you do, consider that and be understanding. Avoid allowing her to be injured even if such action would have no ill-effect on you. Love her like Christ loves the church…like Christ loves you.

So now, learning be a Christ-like husband like it matters…because it matters…Go Be Awesome!

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 3

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage. We continue today with our look at the scripturally given order and structure of a God shaped marriage.

As I was considering the content for this series on The Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage, several ways of approaching the subject came to mind. As always, first and foremost, I want to remain consistent with the scriptures. The word of God is the definitive authority we have access to that offers us the direction we need to obtain a God Shaped Marriage. God determined the primary purpose of marriage to be reflecting Him, therefore any successful marriage will be a God shaped one. Order and structure in a marriage is as vital to making that marriage reflect God and His righteousness, as our skeleton is in helping us to stand upright. If marriage was initiated by God, and is therefore His creation, and if He created it specifically to reflect who and what He is, then His word is the only infallible source we have for how to meet that goal.

Within His word are many instructions designed to help us have God Shaped Marriages. Since that God given structure and order are necessary to marital success, I began this series with the one scripture I am aware of that most succinctly lays out the structure of both marriage and the Godhead it is intended to reflect. 1 Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

I cannot think of a better way to move forward with the explanation of this foundational scripture than to follow it just as it is laid out. Paul begins this verse recognizing that it is important for us to understand this framework of authority, and he begins with men. The head of every man is Christ. In the first episode in this series I pointed out to husbands that we have drawn the short straw in this line up. To reiterate, God The Father, (a perfect being) is the head of Christ, (another perfect being). The wife, (an imperfect being) is under the leadership of her husband, (another imperfect being). In the order of authority given in this scripture, it is only the husband, (an imperfect being) who is under the direct authority of Christ, (a perfect being). Last time, I took great care to illustrate from God’s own chosen words that men are not superior to women in any way, shape or form, nor are women inferior to men. There I showed that though we were created with differing abilities, we were also created equal to one another in value. In the scriptural order found in 1 Corinthians 11:3 noted above, It is only the husband who must answer to one superior to himself. So gentlemen, let’s take a closer look at this standard given to us in God’s word, The head of every man is Christ.

The New Testament is full of examples of who Christ is, and how He interacts with us. While all of those scriptures have value helping us to know how we should interact with others including our wives, there are several passages that deal directly with how Christ interacts with the church, His bride. Those are the passages I am going to be focusing on here. If Christ is the authority in direct leadership over husbands, then those scriptures that illustrate how He interacts with the church are of paramount importance to men if we are to know how to interact with our wives in a way that lives up to the standard given to us.

The first of those scriptures we are going to look at is Ephesians 5:25. It reads as follows; 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…

There are several things from this scripture that I want to point out. First, there can be no mistaking this scripture to be one where the actions and attitudes of Christ are offered toward the church as His bride. There should also be no misunderstanding the fact that Husbands are clearly instructed here to offer their actions and attitudes toward their wives in a way that is reflective of, and in submission to, Christ.

Second I want to highlight that this scripture clearly states that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. The male ego would like to focus on the fact that Christ died for the church. The reason for this is that if a husband then commits to being willing to die for his wife (something he is quite certain statistics show to carry a very low reason for concern) then he has just been a husband that is reflective of Christ. Sorry guys…that doesn’t cut it. Yes, if you and your wife are ever in a situation where one of you must choose to die so the other can live, husbands…you must be the one to choose to die. However, pre-committing to that unlikely eventuality is not enough to live up to the standard. Why? Because Christ actually died in place of His bride. So am I saying all men must die for their wife? No. However, Christ laid down His life for His bride in ways that we actually are given opportunity to do every day.

Jesus did not come into existence on the first Christmas night when He was born in a manger. The Apostle John begins His Gospel with the truth that Jesus has always been. Jesus was before everything we understand to be the beginning. Jesus is, according to scripture, the Creator of all that exists. He said of Himself in Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, The First and the Last.” This is but one of His astounding “I Am”statements indicating that He is in fact one of the three persons of Almighty God.

As the great I Am, Jesus has always existed, and until His entrance into this world as one of His own creation, a little baby boy, He existed with the Father accompanied by the Spirit. There for all eternity past, they existed inseparably, reigning supremely, in the perfection of their Heavenly Kingdom. We on the other hand took precious little time upon our entrance to allow our selfishness and distrust in God’s loving instruction to give way to the introduction of sin into the perfect world Jesus had just created for us. With the high price of sin being death…we were eternally lost. When Jesus came into the world He had fashioned, He did so to remedy our sin problem. He came to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sin, lovingly and willingly offered in our stead. Jesus did not have need to come to earth…we had needof Him to come and to do that for us. Christ laid down His life for His bride. He laid down His perfect life that lacked nothing, to give us what we lacked, and could not obtain for ourselves. He laid aside His needs for our needs, His wantsfor our wants, His desires for our desires. Death was not the only way Jesus laid down His life for His bride…it was the final way. His death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice, but He sacrificed for us every Nano-second He was away from the Father. Husbands, Christ is our example, He is the One in direct authority over us. As unfair as it might be that we are the only ones to have an authority morally superior to ourselves…it is what it is. We must learn to lay down our lives (in every way) for our bride if we want to succeed at having a God Shaped Marriage.

As I said our male egos cause us to look only at Christ’s voluntary giving up of His life as the evidence of His great love for us. We like to think that so long as we are also willing to do that…we have our bases covered. Unfortunately, when we take that attitude we have missed the point all together. The command to each of us is to love our wife as Christ loved the church. The evidence of His love gives us a standard to put the evidence of our love for our wives up against, but the command to us is to love like Christ loves.

According to the passage above, Christ sees Himself as our loving groom. His word instructs us how to be a loving husband, and illustrates that He interacts with us in that very way. In other words, if His word indicates we should treat our wife in a certain way, it is because He treats us in that same way. So when Ephesians 5:25 tells us love our wives, just like Christ loves His bride, we can look to scripture to find out how to do that. One example of that instruction is found in Colossians 3:19. In The Amplified Version that verse reads, Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them] and do not be embittered or resentful toward them [because of the responsibilities of marriage]. When you consider this verse in light of the one from Ephesians 5 it takes on additional meaning. We have to be ready to lay down our lives for our wife if we are going to be able to love them selflessly, as Christ loves us. We should always be most concerned with what is best for them and not what we might think best for us in a particular moment. The continuation of this verse is most important. Men, if we want to be God Shaped Husbands, we cannot be found giving in to the needs of our wife through a clenched jaw or gritted teeth. In fact, that will ruin the entire reflection. For the joy set before Him, the bible tells us…Christ endured the cross. If we are going to be like Christ, laying down our needs, hopes and desires, and putting those of our wives’ first, ought to be the joy set before us. The endurance part is simply the employment of our decision to see our God Shaped Marriage emerge.  Paul cautions us here to avoid allowing our negative emotions to enter into a positive godly position at all costs. If we are going to get it right, we can’t view the responsibilities of a God Shaped Marriage as a thing to be despised. We must see it as a way that we can illustrate our love for our spouse, as Christ illustrated His great love for us.

I want to take time to look at one more scripture that is congruent with those above before I close this edition. In the New King James Version, 1 Peter 3:7 says, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. In this passage, we are instructed that a godly husband will interact with his wife in an understanding way. That he will give her honor as to the weaker vessel. This phrase is often misunderstood. Remember that in the last episode of this podcast I went to great lengths to point out that God’s word is clear…men and women were created with equal value. God’s word does not contradict itself, therefore this scripture cannot indicate that the weaker vessel is in any way inferior to the stronger one. I have heard this scripture taught quite literally to mean that a man should be gentle with his wife because her muscle structure is more fragile than his…that’s close, but I cannot fully agree with that to be the meaning. The use of the analogy of a vessel here is of great importance to a correct exegesis. A vessel has one job…to carry water without leaking. A weaker vessel, one made of crystal for example will hold water just as well as one made of iron. Both have equal value when it comes to transporting water. Unless…you knock them into the doorpost on your way into a room. If one is not gentle, and understanding of the limitations of crystal when bumped into a doorpost, the crystal vase will lose its ability to successfully accomplish what it was designed for. On another note, which is more desirable to have placed in the center of the table during a meal? Crystal or iron? The woman is the weaker vessel…the crystal one. She has equal value when it comes to accomplishing the given purpose…but she is different than iron and needs to be interacted with accordingly. Husbands we are being instructed here to understand that our wives will react differently than we do at times. That knowledge is supposed to elicit understanding and gentleness from us rather than harsh intolerance. We each have the same God given purpose…to be reflective of Him. We each have differing qualities that are useful to that end, but neither are more or less important than the other, in fact they are meant to work with each other to complete the reflection. As further proof that our valuation as men and women, husbands and wives are equivalent, Paul points out that both share equally in the grace of God, and they are partners in salvation. Finally, Paul points out that there is greater consequence than broken glass if husbands are not gentle with their wives…God will not honor a husband’s prayers if he does not honor God’s creation of a wife made just for him. Next time we will continue with our look at the God shaped husband, and how he fits into the structure and order of a God Shaped Marriage.

So now doing everything you can, and asking God for more of His power every day to help you have a God Shaped Marriage…Go Be Awesome!

Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage. We continue today with our look into the scripturally given Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage.

Last time when introducing the topic of this new series I presented the idea that every successful endeavor necessarily includes both structure and order. There I re-stated what Genesis chapter 1 & 2 speak of so clearly. Marriage is primarily intended to reflect the God that instituted it. God purposefully created mankind to reflect His image and likeness. Additionally, He created the first man and woman in a united condition, inextricably one, made of the same flesh and bone. Following that original union, God authored marriage as the format by which going forward a man and a woman would be joined by Him, affording them the same capacity as Adam and Eve to reflect their creator. I shared with you in that introductory episode that according to God’s Word even the triune Godhead has an order of authority. Therefore, marriage which is determined to reflect God necessarily must also have structure of authority. Finally, I shared that in 1 Corinthians 11:3 the structure and order of both the Godhead and marriage are identified and connected with one another outlining an overall framework of authority. Once again that scripture reads as follows. 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.

As we move forward in our look at the all-important God ordained structure of marriage, I want to begin with a crucial understanding. In the last edition I quickly made mention of the fact that the order of marital authority has nothing to do with the value of one person over the other. The structure of marriage absolutely has nothing to do with greater or lesser value found in a husband or wife. God’s word offers several explanations for why the order is what God has made it, but none of them have anything to do with the superiority of man or the inferiority of woman – because those ideals are completely and totally false. I want to dedicate this edition of the series on the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage to dispelling that dangerous notion. Instead I hope to illustrate from God’s own word that men and women were and are created equally valuable in His eyes.

There are several errant beliefs we hold as people that cause us to misunderstand our equal value as men and women. Even in our contemporary society where many might say that a corrected equality has finally been established, our thinking is flawed, and actually takes us farther away from the truth of God’s word, instead of nearer to it. At the pinnacle of those misunderstandings is this, “Equality means possessing the same capabilities”. For all of history this thought process has been so simple to disprove that is was never even questioned until the last century. It is more than easy to see that men and women do not have all of the same capabilities. For example, women can give birth far better than men…men have zero ability to do so and with infinitesimal few exceptions, all mature women are physically able to have a baby. To that order, nearly all men are capable of fathering a child, while women have no natural ability to do so. When each of these differing abilities are joined, a man and a woman each play a crucial yet completely different role in the creation of life. Interestingly, when this takes place in marriage, that couple becomes more reflective of God who initially created life. In this as well as many other areas, men and women have dissimilar ability, yet equal value.

Following the science, there are many and varied physical differences between men and women that are not directly associated with reproduction. Some of those differences offer ability to one or the other that is easier to recognize than others. For instance, the existence of a woman’s breasts gives her the ability to nurse a child where her male counterpart has no such ability. A man’s ‘Adam’s apple’ exists because of the greater amount of cartilage surrounding a substantially larger voice box than a woman has. The increased size of the male vocal cords enable men to speak or sing in much lower octaves than the vast majority of women. Though these differences enable men and women to do things the other cannot, it does not in any way affect their overall value.

Many additional differences also exist. There are differences in the ways we think. We exhibit differences in our relational needs. There are differences in the way we use language, the ways we problem solve, the ways we resolve conflict, etc. The list of differences goes on and on. These variations between us give us many differing capabilities that can often be observed to follow along gender-lines. None of those differing abilities increase or decrease our overall value. While one may be more useful in a specific area, the other will have greater success in another, however, a man and a woman are endowed by their Creator with equal value. Interestingly, when it comes to the value God sees in us as men and women, though it is equal, it is also exponentially increased as a man and woman are joined as one. (more on that later)

For the purposes of this episode I want to focus on one specific scripture surrounding the necessity of the creation of the first woman, Eve. Genesis 2:18 says, And the Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone I will make a helper comparable to him.” I have heard many teachings on this verse. Some good, some not-so-good. The poorest of these have indicated that God decided that Adam would be lonely and so He created Eve to keep Adam company and be a helper by keeping his needs met. Unfortunately, I believe this errant exegesis is only meant to serve unscrupulous men’s desire to utilize this passage to conclude that women are inferior to them in some way. In fact, a correct understanding of this scripture proves nothing could be further from the truth.

When we look at the original Hebrew, the phrase “it is not good” is indicative that it was not yet complete. Each day of the creation week, we see the opposite phrase spoken in the affirmative. Genesis 1:4 says: and God saw the light, that it was good. In verse 10 it goes on to say and God called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters He called seas. And God saw that it was good. Again in verse 12: And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Further on in verses 16-18 we read: Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Again in verse 21: So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. The phrase is repeated again in verse 25: And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Finally, we come to verse 31 after God made mankind and the statement is made once again but this time with special exclamation! Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. In light of that, we know that as God concluded the various tasks of creation and He made the statement that it was good He was intimating the job at hand to be finished, or complete.

Therefore, in Genesis 2:18 when we read that God said “It is not good” we can surmise that He meant it is not complete or finished for man to be alone. In order to gain an accurate understanding, I think it important to do a bit of a word study of the original text. In this verse The Hebrew word [Towb] pronounced [to be] translates to the English phrase “It is not good”. According to Strong’s Bible Dictionary, the definition for this Hebrew word as used specifically in this reference means inappropriate for its use, or incomplete for its intended use.

The Hebrew word for “Alone” used here is [Bad] pronounced [bad]which means separated or apart from its counterpart. Much like if your salt shaker was in the dining room and your pepper shaker was alone in the kitchen. Though it was by itself, it would still be part of a set intended to be used together.

The final phrase necessary to have complete understanding of this verse is “A helper comparable to him.” The King James Version reads “A help meet.” This phrase comes from the Hebrew words [ezer] pronounced [ay’-zer], and [Neged] pronounced [neh’-ghed]. These words together, according to Strong’s, mean an absolute counterpart to a perfect set.

When you put all of that together, a good literal translation of Genesis 2:18 would read something like this: And God said, It will be inappropriate and mankind will remain incomplete for his intended purpose if man is an unfinished creation, so I will create an absolutely perfect counterpart to him (woman) and together they will be a complete complimentary matched set, each an equally valuable part of the whole, that will more fully represent Me. 

Eve was the absolutely, perfectly created, counterpart to Adam. She was equal in valuation to Adam in every way. She was not more than Adam and not less than Adam. He was not superior to her in any way; she was not inferior to him in any way. They were a perfectly created, matched set. Equal in every way, yet often completely different in function. Together their purpose was to reflect the image and likeness of God. The analogy I like to use for them was that of a mirror. A mirror’s purpose is to reflect whatever is in front of it. A mirror is made up of two components. A sheet of perfectly clear and perfectly flat glass and a polished silver coating. Neither the glass nor the silver by themselves are very effective at producing a quality reflection, but when married together, they form a mirror that reflects with absolute clarity. The glass is not superior to silver nor is the silver inferior to glass, they are simply different yet both crucial to their collective purpose.

Adam and Eve’s oneness was intended to reflect the image and likeness of God. The primary purpose of your marriage is the same. Adam and Eve were created differently than one another, just as you and your spouse were. Adam and Eve had equal value though differing individual abilities, just as is the case in your marriage. Those differences were not given to determine value, they were offered that together they might find the highest value…reflecting their supreme Creator, God.

Was there order? Yes. Adam was created before Eve. Did that make him superior? Not in any way shape or form. Eve followed Adam in creation, but only to illustrate his need of her help to fulfill their purpose. Next time we will delve into some additional scriptures that display the God ordained structure and order of authority within the marriage, as well as the blessing God was attempting to give us within that very framework.

So now, recognizing the incredible and equal value you and your spouse hold in your marriage…Go be Awesome!

Near Sighted Vs Far Sighted

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, November 9thth 2023…Near Sighted Vs Far Sighted

I have worn glasses since I was in the 9th grade. I have not forgotten in over 40 years so I am going to assume I will never forget what that first day with my new corrective lenses was like. My dad drove me to the optometrist to pick up the glasses we had been waiting about two weeks to arrive. They put them on me, fitted them, and then repeated the eye exam to make sure my new glasses were correctly improving my vision. It wasn’t until we left the building to head home that I was struck by the vast improvement. I’m sure looking back the ride home was a spectacle to behold. I couldn’t stop telling my dad about the leaves on the trees, the rivets in the steel decked bridge we crossed over. The individual blades of grass in the lawns we passed by. I was amazed that one could perceive those things without being close up to them. Certainly I had seen leaves, rivets, and grass before, but only clearly when looking at them at close proximity. My father must have thought I had regained my eyesight…but lost my mind. I don’t remember because I was too busy looking at everything outside the car, but dad must have had a very amused grin on his face.

One of the reasons I waited so long to get the glasses I needed was because I was near-sighted. I could see things close-up just fine. I had no trouble reading, writing, or doing homework…when I actually did homework. I could see the things that were close to me with no trouble at all. It was only when my far-sightedness progressed to the point of me having difficulty seeing what my teachers were writing on the blackboards, that I even noticed it was a problem. Even then that could be remedied by sitting closer to the board, so that’s what I did. My long range vision had diminished so slowly, that I wasn’t aware the degree of clarity that had vanished along with it. It was only when I could suddenly see so clearly that the difference became distinct. I cannot sufficiently explain, even all these decades later, the amazement I experienced at the prospect of now enjoying all that I had unwittingly been missing out on.

These days my vision has dimmed further. Without glasses correcting my vision I cannot see even a fraction of what I could all those years ago. Along with my inability to see distances without glasses, my ability to see things close up is also a thing of the past. Now I must wear progressive lenses to be able to see both far and near. Even with glasses, nothing seems as clear as I would like it to be…nothing compares to that first ride home from the optometrist.

We can have this problem spiritually as well. We can exhibit symptoms of being spiritually near-sighted and it can cause us some real difficulties. If we don’t correct this problem, we will begin to look only at what can be seen clearly. We will avoid looking too far into the distance because the lack of clarity frustrates us, and so our focus is placed only on what can be seen satisfactorily enough to keep us comfortable. We live in a temporal world. However, that temporal world is not the totality of it. This world exists in a spiritual realm that is eternal. When we consider our lives only in the context of what we can see clearly, we are being incredibly near-sighted and unfortunately that is very…short sighted of us as well.

1 John 2:15-17 in the New Living Translation says, 15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. If we choose to focus only on the world we can easily see, we will quite naturally choose those things that please us. We will take the path of least resistance. We will not only selfishly choose the things that bring is physical pleasure but we will also succumb to our prideful nature and attempt to take credit for all of our accomplishments. The Apostle John rightly points out that we cannot serve ourselves and serve God. God is a loving master…but He insists on our complete devotion to Him. In other words, if we are going to accept Him as our Savior, we must also acknowledge Him as our Lord, and serve Him and Him alone. That won’t be possible for us if we are relying on our nearsightedness and ignoring our lack of farsightedness. Jesus once posed the question, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed”? (Luke 9:25). So what can we do to correct our failing far-sightedness? How can we begin to see things as we ought to?

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, our eternal Lord helps us correct our vision and see life through a corrected eternal lens. Jesus having come and died in our place so that our sin problem would finally have a permanent remedy, was raised again to life by God the Father and was seated on His right hand. The Bible tells us that when we accept that Jesus has indeed died in our place and has been raised up eternally, we are raised up with Him. Our faith in His resurrection allows for our resurrection and gives us an eternal vision. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. So how will we know if we have truly had our spiritual far-sightedness corrected?

Our approach to this life in this temporal world will change. We will begin to see and treat it as if it is in fact temporary. In John 6:27 it is recorded that Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval”. When we get our eternal vision corrected we begin to put the correct emphasis on what really matters. We begin to see that the things of this world are going to someday pass away. The bible tells us that we entered this world naked and we will leave it the same way…meaning, nothing we do here is going to be transferrable into eternity unless it is something we did in service to the Kingdom of God. Those actions, the ones God asks us to take for Him, are the only things that will sustain us and have a lasting effect.

Additionally, our willingness to do what Jesus asks of us makes clear which aspect of our vision is more highly valued. In Luke 12:32-34 Jesus said, Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Our vision gives us away. If we prefer to focus on what is here and now, close to our hands, we are being near-sighted and everything we do will be to increase our position in this world. If we are far-sighted, eternally minded as we should be, then our focus will be on serving Christ and living in and for His kingdom. Corrected spiritual far-sightedness is an even more wonderful thing than my first experience with corrected physical farsightedness was. It is what enables us to walk by faith and not by sight and see the intricate details that really matter.

So…if you want to keep your spiritual vision dialed in, then you have to follow the instructions given to us by the eternal God for maintaining healthy eternal eyesight. The most important exercise for maintaining the correct vision is to keep our undivided focus directly on Jesus. He said it, if we are going to focus on, and follow after Him, we have to deny ourselves, meaning we don’t focus on what we would want, take up our cross every day, meaning we understand that it isn’t about us…and follow Him, meaning do what He would do and what He is asking us to do.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

So now, with your eternal glasses on, viewing this life with a corrected far-sighted…yes even an eternal view, follow Jesus and…Go Be Awesome!

All Things Considered…Knowledge Is Power

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, October 26th 2023…All Things Considered, Knowledge is Power…

There is an old saying that Knowledge is power. I would argue that I don’t necessarily think that adage to be true, I say that “Knowledge employed is power”. For the purposes of this discussion…I stand corrected. Knowledge is power.

It is widely and correctly I might add, accepted that God is omniscient, He knows and understands everything. 1 John 3:20 tells us just that “God knows everything”. In Isaiah 40:28 it tells us that His understanding is unsearchable, or in other words, without end. God knows everything and He understands everything. When you ponder that for a moment, that idea is itself hard to comprehend. I have been accused of knowing more unusable facts than the average person. It is true that over my lifetime thus far I have accumulated a number of learned particulars that will probably never do me any good other than to amuse me. All kidding aside, I have spent a good deal of my life learning. I enjoy understanding things and knowing how they work. I suppose I do possess a lot of knowledge and understanding…about a very limited number of things. What makes omniscience amazing is far more than knowing and understanding all things. Omniscience also has the awesome, not-so-often considered ability to know and understand how all things interact with all other things and how all things said and done now, will interact with all things said and done in the future. Furthermore, Omniscience has the capability of espousing absolute truth about all things knowing all future variations that might affect said truths. In other words, God is able to say things knowing they are not only true when they are said, but that they will remain true eternally…no matter what happens or who interacts with those truths…all things have been considered…that is omniscience. That is our God. Knowledge is power.

Why do I bring all of this up today? I raise this for consideration because of a question I was recently asked. Did God really mean for us to follow all of His instructions or where they actually only intended for the hearers at the time, the ones He was speaking to directly? I have heard variations of this question many times over the course of my ministry. That particular petition usually occurs when the Bible contains some statute that the person asking the question has been considering but does not want to be forced to follow, otherwise known as coming under conviction. I think there are times when many of us wonder if what God’s word seems to be saying can really apply to a particular situation that involves us. Can a general work such as the Bible actually be trusted to have specific application to my situation, and all of the variables that pertain to it? It can and it does, if we believe it to be more than a literary work, and is instead trusted to be the written Word of the omniscient God.

If it is trusted to be the very word of the One true all knowing, all understanding God, and if that God is also immutable, meaning He cannot and does not change…ever, then His word has to be infallible. If God is omnipotent, meaning He is all powerful, and He is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere all the time, then He is in fact able to make His word prove true even in the midst of your circumstances. God is in fact each and all of these things and more, and His word is trustworthy as nothing else is. Psalm 19:7-11 in the New Living Translation says;

The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.j
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.

God’s word is true…ALL THINGS considered. It is applicable to your life and mine. When we come under conviction to submit to what it lovingly instructs, there is no better recourse for us than obedience. Only the Power of God and His word can bring us such knowledge and wisdom. God’s Knowledge is Power! However, for us “Knowledge employed is power” In our case, knowing is not enough. As I said earlier, I like to learn. As a result, I have learned many things along the way. I know more than a few tricks that will make tasks I do regularly easier or more efficient. If I do not employ that knowledge, If I do not do the things I know, then they cannot impact my life whatsoever. The only power that comes from my knowledge is the action taken as a result of that knowledge. The scripture I just read speaks of the perfection and the power of God’s knowledge. If I want to experience the power of His knowledge, I must act upon it. The bible tells us to not be hearers only but doers of the instruction found in the word of God. (James 1:22) James says that if we hear The Word but do not act upon The Word we are simply fooling ourselves that we somehow have power from The Word.

So, when we question if a certain part of the word should be applicable to us and our situation or not, let’s at least be honest about what that means. We all interact with other people every day. Some of those interactions are positive, some not so much. When the results are not what we want them to be, we often decide what course of action (re-action really) we should take to remedy the situation. If we do not consult God’s word for His prescription any reaction on our part will likely be errant and create further problems and completely circumvent meaningful resolution. We often wonder if those scriptural prescriptions apply to us because we do not want to respond as God’s word would suggest.

Questions as to the validity of God’s word in our specific circumstances usually means we are afraid that while biblical precepts may sound good and loving on the surface, if we apply them to our situation the person we are having a problem with won’t recognize the pain they are causing us. We conclude that if we can’t successfully express our displeasure, they are likely to continue to walk all over us, and keep causing us emotional harm. Considering that, how could scripture written centuries ago, apply to our situation? If it was only a book, that would be a valid question, but it isn’t simply a book it is the inspired written word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We are the creation of God. He more than anyone, including ourselves, knows how we are intended to operate at peak performance. He knows what is best for us and has clearly stated in His word that He wants us to experience that abundant life. I shared with you last time that His word says in Psalm 32:8 that we can count on Him to help us know exactly what to do even considering the specifics of our situations. In that verse God says, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. He is literally saying that His counsel is offered to us with His eyes on our circumstances. How is He able to do that? Certainly through the work of His Holy Spirit living inside of us, but yes, also through His written word. How is that possible? The power of omniscience. God’s knowledge is power. It was true when it was inspired and penned centuries ago and it is still true today. It was truth in the circumstances that necessitated its initial inspiration, and it is no less true now and is still necessary for successful resolution.

There has never been, nor will there ever be a situation, or set of circumstances that will negate the Word of God. Nothing can or will ever occur that will render any of the truths of God unreliable. Omniscience does not allow for that possibility. God’s word, God’s truth is more powerful than a two edged sword, it is more precise than the best scalpel. God says of His own word, that it will never return void or unusable. That means that nothing will ever disprove it. It cannot be invalidated because…all things considered…and God has carefully considered all things, God’s knowledge is the highest form of Power that can impact our lives…if we employ it.

So now, being a doer and not a hearer only of the wisdom and power of God’s word…go be awesome!

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