Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Today the thoughts I want to share with you are surrounding The Business of Logistics
Whenever my wife Lynn and I travel to our summer cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, efficiency dictates that we travel down through the Shenandoah Valley on Interstate 81. As we travel along there are seemingly as many semi-trucks as there are cars…sometimes more. Logistics companies or independent drivers whose job it is to move the products of a manufacturer to places they are needed own most of those trucks. If those logistics companies do that well, and get the product where it needs to be, on time, they will be successful. In that type of business only a few things really matter, among them…being available to move the product, and getting it where it needs to go when it needs to get there. Though the freight is on board the truck, the driver does not consider it to be their own, and they don’t choose when it will be delivered. That driver knows the product is owned by the manufacturer and the owner decides where and when it needs to be delivered.
As a Christ follower, did you know you are in the logistics business? 1 John 4:16 tells us that God is love. God is the source of all love. In fact we can see that when we read the whole verse. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. John is quite clear, God is love and there is no other source of love. If you are showing love it is because you are connected to God the originator of the love. You don’t have to experience much of life to realize that when people claim be the originator of love they mess it up. When people try to take credit for the love they deliver, they ruin it. It is only when we recognize that the love is not ours, and we are simply in the logistics business, taking the love from its source (God) to its destination (others), that we are able to deliver it correctly. And by the way…we have been employed to deliver it.
1 Peter 1:22 in the New Living Translation says You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. Essentially, this verse is telling us that when we accepted God’s free gift, making us righteous through the sacrifice of His Son’s death in our place, we became employed by God to deliver His love to others. When the truck driver delivers the load to the destination, that driver knows they did not make the product on board, but it is in their possession so they can get it where it needs to go. The love we have is not our own. It came from God and is in our possession only so we can deliver it where it is needed. Logistically speaking our job is to take sincere love (God’s love) to each other as brothers and sisters. And by the way, we have been tasked with emptying the truck at the dock. We are to love deeply with all of our heart.
In 1 John 3:18 we are given further delivery instructions. It says, Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Again we are being cautioned somewhat as we were before. There we instructed to make sure we were sincere. Here it says it again just in a different way. I guess it must be important if it is being reiterated. In this verse we are being warned not to deliver God’s love only in the form of words, but rather, it must be delivered with action. Would a delivery driver ever arrive at his destination, note to the receiver that the product was on board, and then simply drive away claiming the delivery had been made? Of course not! The driver has to open the truck doors, unload the truck, and then upon receipt of delivery, the driver proceeds to the next destination. John is saying that if we express love only with words the load has not been delivered. Love must be distributed by action, because love is always actionable. Love is not an emotion…fondness is an emotion. According to God’s word, every descriptor we have of agape love or Godly love is actionable. Love is a verb not a noun.
Another concern logistics drivers must keep in mind is that the load arrive in good condition. Sometimes those trucks I see on Route 81 are refrigerated. Those trucks are often delivering perishable items that must be kept at a certain temperature so that they are in good salable condition when they arrive at their destination. If the truck contains fruit but it has spoiled, it is still fruit but it is of no use because it is no longer desirable. God’s word speaks to us about that as well. When we are delivering God’s love where He has asked us to, if we aren’t careful we can let the load become ruined. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 cautions us to keep the love we carry in good condition so we don’t ruin it for the end user. If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. If we want God to find us useful to Him, we must make sure the load is delivered where it needs to be, on time…and in good condition.
So now that we know what the load is, where it needs to go, and the condition He is asking us to deliver it in, let’s take a look at the bill of lading to see the specifics of what is supposed to be on the truck and what isn’t. 1 Corinthians 4-7 continues with that information. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I would like to end by simply reading the entirety of the loading and delivery instructions that I began my thoughts today with an excerpt from. 1 John 4:7-21 says, Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
So now, Employed by God in His logistics business, love, love, then show some more love so that when you have conveyed all the love He needs you to you can hear that you have been a good and faithful deliverer of His love…and go be awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken coming to you once again with my Monday Marriage Message, thanks for taking the time to join me. If you enjoy these marriage podcasts and find them to be helpful or encouraging, please share them with friends and family.
This weekend I heard a preacher make an incredibly deep comment. The subject He was speaking about was not marriage, but as soon as he made this profound statement, I thought just how fitting it is in the marital context as well. His proclamation; “Gratefulness is the antidote for ungratefulness!” You might be thinking, “Really…that’s it?”, but I promise accepting the truth and consequence of that statement can radically transform any marriage.
What things do you wish were different in your marriage? Go ahead, pause the podcast and take some time to make a list. When the list of things you wish were different is completed, make another list of the things from the first one that you complain about to your spouse, to others, and yes even to yourself. If you have compiled your lists, we are ready to begin again…Among the people you complain to, perhaps you have even been taking these things to God. Certainly there is no problem with that, He invites us to bring our cares and concerns to Him (1 Peter 5:7). However, we must be careful how we do this, God asks us to cast our cares upon Him, but He does not welcome our grumbling. In fact, the bible tells us that the grumbling or ungratefulness of His people is one of the things He finds problematic. His word teaches us that one of the greatest sins of the Israelite people that He freed and led out of Egypt was their ungratefulness. In contrast, Philippians 2:13,14 instructs us to; Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
This is an interesting scripture. These verses don’t even try to make the insinuation that our lives are free of trouble and therefore should be without complaint. This passage takes the difficulties of our lives and yes perhaps even our marriages into account. It says that we should avoid complaining and disputing (ungrateful behavior) in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. In other words, God knows our lives and yes often our marriages are not ideal situations. He understands there are many difficulties we must endure, many problems we have to work through, and yet He cautions that ungrateful actions and attitudes on our part are to be avoided. Why is that? First, the verse just before these says that implementing these instructions are how we work out our salvation. This does not mean that we do these things to obtain our salvation, but that they make our salvation evident. By acting contrary to “normal behavior”, we and others have opportunity to see God’s impact on our lives demonstrated. Second, the verses above tell us gratefulness is the key to us becoming blameless and harmless. This means that when we choose gratefulness over ungratefulness we respond differently. We don’t allow ourselves to further the difficulty of the situation, rather we become a part of the solution. Studies have long shown that an attitude of gratefulness prompts positive responses, which in turn foster positive outcomes. Choosing to be grateful when a complaint would seemingly be more appropriate, allows us to respond to challenging circumstances and difficult people in ways that will move to heal rather than further the hurt. Finally, when we choose gratefulness, we stand out. It’s easy to be ungrateful for problematic situations; anyone can do that. It is normal to be ungrateful for perplexing circumstances. No one thinks we’re unjustified if we complain about the difficult relationships in our lives. However, as Christ followers, indwelled by His Holy Spirit we are enabled and instructed to respond differently than the world around us.
When you consider it carefully, gratefulness and selflessness go hand-in-hand. The same correlation can be made for ungratefulness and selfishness. When we are being ungrateful, essentially we are saying we don’t like what we are enduring or how we are being treated. Our attention is on what we don’t think we deserve, what we don’t appreciate that others are doing, or how we want to be treated differently. This kind of inward attention is clearly selfish. However, when we employ the antidote for ungratefulness and choose to be grateful, our position and direction change. Gratitude flows outward toward others and upward toward God. Rather than being inward focused on ourselves, gratitude makes us outward focused on others, in other words, more selfless.
Interestingly, selfishness causes tunnel vision, whereas selflessness dramatically widens our view. The former asks the question how am I being affected by the situations and circumstances around me, the latter asks how can I affect the situations and circumstances I encounter. The first seeks to be helped, the second, looks to see how it can be of help. If you have heard me make note of it once you have heard me proclaim it many times, Marriage is intended to be reflective of God. Clearly, God is selfless. God created everything we can comprehend, and then gave it all to us to use and enjoy. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof Psalm 24:1 says, and He uses it all to provide for us and sustain us each and every day. Most impressively, God made the ultimate sacrifice by allowing His son to die in our place so we could live eternally with Him. God is selfless in every way, and so, our marriages, intended to reflect Him are also purposed to reflect selflessness. Selflessness is the atmosphere in which a marriage breathes easily. Selfishness on the other hand sucks the very breath out of marriages. It develops an environment that will slowly deplete the life of any marriage, ultimately bringing it to a slow and painful suffocation. When you consider that ungratefulness promotes selfishness and gratefulness supports selflessness, gratitude becomes the antidote for much more than ungratefulness alone.
Consider of all of the problems that arise from selfishness in a marriage. Many of the things you come up with in response to that query, may have been found on those lists I asked you to compile at the beginning of this podcast. When we consider the things we complain about in our marriages, they are likely fueled by selfishness. When you also consider that ungratefulness on our part only serves to further selfishness in the relationship, this time from our direction, the importance of a grateful heart becomes increasingly evident.
James wrote that we are to count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4). In his letter, James laid out the strategy for a obtaining a grateful heart in adversity. He said that we could be joyful in our various difficulties knowing that a grateful response to these problems will develop our patience. What I believe James was saying is that the more we choose gratefulness as a response to problems, the easier gratefulness in the face of difficulty becomes. Most of us have proven this to be true on some level in our own lives. As experience teaches us that certain problems are not “the end of the world”, our level of patience with those particular problems increases. We may even come to a point where something that formerly would have caused great difficulty for us, is now responded to as if it were no big deal at all. I think James meant for us to understand that the more we respond to trying circumstances with joy and gratefulness as God desires us to, the more prone we are to follow His Holy Spirit’s prompting in our additional responses to that difficult situation. As a result, the positive outcomes bring about a patience in trials yet to come. James went on to say, when fully developed patience make us perfect and complete. Apparently, God wants to utilize the difficulties in our lives and in our marriages as a refining process to bring about the changes necessary to make us more fully reflective of Him.
Questions to answer:
In light of God’s instruction found in the scriptures we looked at today, what items from your original list of things you wish were different in your marriage have you been responding to incorrectly?
When your spouse is ungrateful toward you, what response does that elicit in you?
With that in mind, how might gratefulness on your part toward your spouse impact situations the two of you encounter more positively?
Actions to take:
Discuss the correlation between gratefulness and selflessness and the connection between ungratefulness and selfishness. Talk about how these connections have impacted your marriage both positively and negatively.
If you have listened to past podcasts about the primary relational needs of Love and Respect Husbands, discuss how gratefulness & ungratefulness on your wife’s part impacts your view of the respect she has for you. Wives, discuss how gratefulness & ungratefulness on your husband’s part impacts your view of the love he has for you.
As a couple, seek each other’s forgiveness for ungratefulness toward one another, ask God to forgive a selfish and ungrateful spirit that has perhaps resided in your marriage, and ask Him to help you together to do a better job of reflecting Him and His ways.
So now, with a grateful heart toward each other and toward God for all He has done and continues to do in the perfecting process of your marital mirror…Go Be Awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Fat Man’s Misery
Lest anyone believe I am being insensitive or have stooped to “fat shaming”, let me put that to rest right away. The title for this post comes from the name of a very narrow passage in the subterranean recesses of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I was actually surprised that a quick Google search revealed that the name of that passage has not been changed. I guess social justice doesn’t really run that deep after all.
I was introduced to “Fat man’s misery” as a young boy. Somewhere around the age of twelve my parents took me and my two brothers to Mammoth Cave for a vacation. We enjoyed tent camping, campfires, and spelunking for an entire week. Mammoth Cave, aptly named is the world’s longest known cave system and has several different tours available for visitors. While there we did many things that left lifelong (to this point anyway) impressions on me. The 40 plus years since I was there have not taken from me vivid memories of that vacation. One I will never forget was my first experience with total and absolute darkness. My parents allowed my younger brother Gary and I to take a children’s tour without them one afternoon. Following a park ranger with lanterns affixed to helmets on our heads we crawled through a small entrance to one of the innumerable recesses that make up the entirety of Mammoth Cave. After a walk inside of perhaps 200 or 300 yards, the guide had us sit down on rocks, be completely quiet and one by one switch off the lights on our helmets. Lastly, the ranger turned off her light and the darkness enveloped us completely. It was a surreal experience. I recall expecting that my eyes would adjust to the darkness and I would regain at least some ability to see, but that never happened. I remember thinking that I understood what it must be like to be totally blind. I also remember beginning to feel uneasy and insecure in the total darkness and silence. Though the spiritual depths of this are begging to be explored, and maybe I will in a later episode, I want to move on to another memory from that family trip.
During another tour of the caves we took as a family, we followed our guide as a group of people made their way down a long set of steel stairs to one of the entrances to the cave. About an hour later, we emerged in a completely different place in the forest hundreds of yards from where we began our journey. There are several things from that particular tour that I remember. There was a huge room where the “ceiling” was several stories above. That room, named “The Cathedral” was so called because of its size and sound echoing acoustics. I was surprised and somewhat shaken to learn several years ago that the “ceiling” weighing many thousands of tons had come crashing to the floor. Weird to think that as a young boy I had stood under that very space looking up at all that rock, now understood to have been somewhat precariously perched above us.
As a part of that tour we meandered through a series of fissures in the rock that had been worn into smooth paths. Sometimes the “walls” were wide and ten or twenty feet apart, other times much closer maybe a four or five foot span. At one place, the path narrowed to about fifteen or eighteen inches and the walls were only about four and a half feet high. This part of the path, known as “Fat Man’s Misery” was so named not only because it is so narrow but also low and requires one to bend over to pass through. I can only assume that some people have had to turn around and return the way they came, unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery”. Even then at my young age that experience caused me to consider Matthew 7:13-14 that I had heard about in Sunday school. That scripture reads as follows in the New King James Version, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, there are few who find it.
Obviously, that particular passage came to mind all those years ago in that cave because the way in front of me was so narrow and difficult to traverse. I remember thinking however, that this narrow path in front of me was the only way to the destination…the exit of the cave. In my way of boyish thinking, if you wanted to get to the preferable destination then there was only one choice…forward. I remember pondering this scripture as a boy and wondering the same thing about eternity. If eternal life in Heaven was only through the narrow gate, even if the path was difficult, why would anyone ever choose anything else? What allure could the wide gate with the easy path have?
I like the way the paraphrase “The Message” puts these verses. It says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. The reason I like this particular paraphrase of this scripture is because it so accurately reflects our present societal reality. Overwhelmingly we respond to surveys that we are people of Christian belief. Though it is declining somewhat, just two years ago 65% of American adults considered themselves to be Christian. I can say with a good deal of certainty that 65% of the American adult population is not looking for the narrow gate and the difficult path. The fact is that it didn’t matter to those people who were unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery” what percentage of others couldn’t either. They were the ones that found themselves unable to arrive at the destination they desired. They were each for all intents and purposes a statistic of one. The same is true for us in regards to our relationship with Jesus. It is called a personal relationship because it is necessarily personal. It will be developed to the degree that we allow and desire to see it developed. There are all kinds of things in life that seek to take our attention but when all is said and done there is only one way to eternity with God…having a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With such important implications that relationship should get the Lion’s share of our focus.
In his gospel, the Apostle John records that Jesus himself said this. In John 14:6 Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus was clear there is only one way to the destination of eternal life in Heaven with Him. He is The Way, indicating that there is no other. Why? Because He is The Truth. Truth is an absolute. There is only one truth and the ultimate truth leads to life…Eternal Life. So, why is it so difficult? Why so narrow? Essentially, we make it so. It is one of those things of which I like to say it is difficult but not complicated. It isn’t complicated because the process is simple…Make Jesus Lord. It is difficult because we have to slip off of the throne of our own lives and allow Him His rightful place there. In the natural, we don’t want to do that. We like to be in control. We like to make the rules. We like to decide the direction we will go. Simply put, we like to think we are in charge. The gate to destruction is so wide because people want to believe they can make the rules, they can be in charge of their own lives…they can be their own lord and sit on their own throne…and if they are “Basically good people”, they will get to go to heaven someday.
Jesus said that’s not how it works. Only those who are righteous can spend eternity…or even a nano-second for that matter in the presence of God. Romans 3:22-25 lays out plainly that because of our sin we have a problem, but through genuine personal relationship with Jesus (the way the truth and the life) we have been gifted a solution. Those verses read as follows in the New Living Translation, We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (in our place).
You are also a statistic of one. When faced with the narrow gate and the difficult path will you turn away and go back the way you came, or will you follow Jesus. Just as our guide knew the way out of the cave and led us back into the light of day, Jesus said “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Following Jesus is the only way to emerge in eternal life with God.
So now, entering the narrow gate with a smile on your lips and a grateful heart that Jesus has made a way for you…Go be awesome!
Hi this is Pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. This is will be the seventh and final installment in the series looking at Marital conflicts…Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom.
In this edition, we will look at the Worldly Wisdom position that “The Ends Justify The Means”. Most of us understand that concept and many intuitively and internally shudder when we consider it, knowing there is something we find unsavory about the idea. Even so, on some level most people subscribe to it just the same. We drive faster than the posted speed limit because we have places to go, people to see and things to do. Social media has such a hold over us that we feel compelled to “Check it…just for a second” even though we are being paid and trusted by an employer to be doing other things with our time on the clock. The justifications don’t stop there. In marriage many are willing to allow the ends to justify the means. Maybe we tell our spouse “Little white lies” because telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth might leave us vulnerable to their criticism. Perhaps there is an expenditure that we know our spouse wouldn’t approve of, but it is justified because we really want what we have our eye on. It may be that we join in at work or with friends as conversations center around our distaste for the things our spouses do. Even if we don’t feel right about it, we justify that everyone is doing it, and we want our friends or co-workers to find us acceptable. These are some examples we might view as benign, there are others that are engaged in every day that are much more harmful. People use all kinds of justifications for engaging in activities that have the potential to be incredibly detrimental to their marriages.
Wordly Wisdom insists that the ends do not justify the means. Jesus said that our yes needs to be yes, and our no should clearly mean no. (Mathew 5:37) We often interpret this scripture to simply mean that if we say yes or no we shouldn’t need to add anything to illustrate that we really mean what we say. However, a deeper understanding has to include the overall effect this has on our integrity. If we avoid wishy-washiness, and if our yes always means yes and if our no always means no, we won’t need to swear by anything else…people will simply be able to count on us. Perhaps most importantly, our spouse. If we are consistent about what we choose and the things we are not willing to allow in our lives, our spouse can enjoy the confidence that our every action, thought and word is for their benefit and blessing.
Wordly Wisdom also argues that the ends do not justify the means, but in fact, it is we who are supposed to end up justified. In other words, God wants to use our marriages to guide us into a life of justice and righteousness. In his book, The Joy of the Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas suggests that God is far more concerned that our marriages make us holy, than that they make us happy. He rightly says God uses our marriages perhaps more so than any other experience in life to move us toward holiness. I simply say that according to Genesis 1 and 2 God designed marriage to reflect His image and likeness. Our marriages are purposed to be a mirror God can look into and see Himself. To Gary Thomas’s point, God is holy and therefore we are to be holy also. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Here we are being told that the point of our lives and in fact our marriages is to be holy like God is holy. We are supposed to be clean and clear mirrors that God can look into and see himself. When we accept the worldly view that says the “Ends justify the means”, we risk allowing our mirror to become dirty, clouded, scratched up and far less capable of producing a good reflection of our God.
What about the dirt, scratches and the cloudiness we have allowed to accumulate on our marital mirrors because we have accepted that in certain situations, the ends justify the means? Thankfully, God has an answer for that. 1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. God desires to forgive us for the dirt and damage we have inflicted on our mirrors. He promises that if we ask him to, He will clean us of all of the dirt we have allowed to rest upon us. In Ephesians 5:16 He lets us know that He even wants to help us redeem time. Though most of us would like to have the ability to do so, we simply can’t go back in time and fix errors we have committed. However, we serve a God who can take those errors and transform them into wisdom essentially redeeming the time in which the errors took place. So, there is even a plan for the dirt and many of the scratches we have allowed to cover our marital mirrors. God wants to forgive us for every scratch, every bit of cloudiness and all of the dirt we have allowed to accumulate there. He not only wants to wash our mirrors clean so that he can see Himself more clearly, but He will even buff out some of the scratches so they don’t take away from His reflection either.
Some scratches are too deep to buff out and eliminate completely. Some marital mirrors have been through too much and some of the damage remains even after forgiveness and a good cleaning. So what do we do about that? God has a plan to address that damage as well. Romans 8:28-30 offers a promise to take the deep scratches and the chipped portions of our marital mirrors that have happened as a result of allowing the ends to justify the harmful means and even use those to justify us, and help us better reflect God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Thank God for His miraculous marital mirror restoration abilities!
Though God has graciously offered to restore our marital mirrors, He also asks us to refrain from damaging them further. The Apostle Paul Spoke to that in Romans Chapter 6:1-11 There Paul wrote, Well then, should we keep on sinning (in other words, damaging our mirrors) so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
God wants to look into the mirror of each of our marriages and see an unblemished reflection of Himself. He is Holy so what He expects to see when He looks at your marriage, my marriage…is holiness. He promised to forgive us of the dirtiness of sin we have so carelessly splattered all over our mirrors and once again make us clean. He has enabled us through the redemption of time to have some of the lesser scratches polished back out. He has also said that if we will allow Him to, He even wants to use the deeper scratches and chips to cause us to reflect Him even better. God also hopes we will be very careful with our mirrors going forward, and that we will realize just how valuable they are to Him
Questions to answer:
Has allowing the end to justify the means created problems for your marriage?
What difficulties has this caused the two of you in your attempts to reflect God like you want to?
If you make the priority of your lives as one to reflect the One who gave it to you, what differences could that make in your marriage?
Actions to take:
Gratefully give God thanks for His desire to take the imperfections of your marital mirror and restore its ability to reflect Him…then make reflecting God THE priority of your marriage.
So now, taking incredible care of your marital mirror so it can do what it was intended to do and reflect God…GO be awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Part Deux Tell.
For those listening to this podcast as opposed to reading it who know my infatuation with a good pun, I am spelling the word do, D-E-U-X as in the number two in French. So, for your benefit this edition is entitled “Part two – Do Tell. This is in fact part two of our look at the scriptural account I introduced last week in the episode entitled “Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures”. In that message I pointed out that the nameless desperate woman we read about in Mark chapter five who had experienced a twelve year battle with a hemorrhage also had a desperate faith that Jesus could make her whole again. She determined in her heart that if she could just get near enough to Jesus to touch His clothes, she would be healed. The law that governed her actions due to her “unclean” condition didn’t allow for her to approach Him as so many others did. As we read last week, the Bible tells us that she approached Jesus from behind, and my belief is that she did that to avoid violating the law she was restricted by. Her righteous attempt to obey the letter of the law and at the same time act in her desperate faith in Jesus’ ability to heal her is remarkable. Her desperate faith compelled her forward to her exchange with her Messiah, but didn’t extinguish her desire to obey her understanding of God’s law. I wonder as she approached Jesus from behind, were her quivering lips whispering the words “Unclean…unclean” hoping they would not be heard this one time and give her presence away? We read last week that as soon as she touched Jesus’ robe her bleeding stopped and she knew that she was whole. This week we are going to pick the account up there as another understanding was taking place…so now, Part – Deux – Tell.
Today we resume the account we began reading last week in Mark Chapter Five. Mark 5:30-34 in the New Century Version says, At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.”
Last week I told you how this woman was treated under the law, and how in her desperate actions she was ministered to by the power of Grace. In that segment of the passage we discovered that it was an extraordinary thing that she did to get to Jesus because of the Law, but that in so doing He did a more incredible thing in her life through the awesome touch of His Grace. Today I want to focus on the second exchange that took place between this woman and Jesus immediately after she knew she that was healed the instant she touched the hem of His clothes.
This healing account describes the first exchange as Jesus felt the healing power go out of him…and she felt her illness leave her. The ‘parade’ must have come to a halt because the Bible says that Jesus stopped, turned, and asked the question “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples were astonished at this question! By this time, they were quite used to people rushing up to see Jesus, pushing up to Him with no account for His personal space. I imagine they saw this crowd no differently than they had seen countless others before, and so they tried to point out the obvious. “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?” their incredulousness at his query did not deter Jesus, He continued looking to see who it was that had touched His clothes. I think He knew exactly who it was, I believe that just as He did with the woman at the well, He already knew this poor woman’s entire life story. But, just like she had been on a mission to get to Jesus, I think He also had a worthy goal in mind by coming to a halt and asking “Who touched me?”
What happened next exemplifies a valuable lesson for us. The woman who had for so long tried to remain hidden away from others, was now being summoned right into the spotlight. Jesus desired to have another exchange with her, this time a verbal one…He wanted to have a loving conversation with her. For well over a decade, she had lived as an outcast, banished by her leaders, ostracized by her peers, rejected by everyone. Now in this moment, she was being sought after by the Rabbi, Healer, Master, her Messiah! No wonder she came and fell before Him trembling as she stammered her way through her story that He likely already knew so well! But Jesus was up to something. He was teaching…her…the crowd…us. The lesson among others…when you reach out to Jesus and He meets your needs, no matter how big…or small they seem…you’ve got to tell somebody! Jesus wants us to testify to others what He has done for us! All of us were created to bring Him glory. All of us were created for His pleasure. We all have a great, lofty and noble purpose…to give praise to the One who gives to us…everything we have!
My guess is that was not the last time this woman told her story about the day Jesus healed her. I imagine she told it so many times no one she knew or met thereafter was left unaware. I bet she never stopped telling how Jesus had taken her illness, her failures, her sinfulness, her desperation, all of it, and with one measure of His incredible Grace, made right everything that was wrong in her life!
After their conversation, Jesus dismissed her in peace, healed, and probably most important to her, accepted! This version says He addressed her as “Dear woman”, the original text however, says He used the Greek word “Thugater” and means daughter, and in that language would have included any female descendant regardless of how far removed. Jesus was claiming her as His own. He was saying that spiritually they were now in relationship, while physically he was pronouncing that he was her Creator and in that sense she was indeed His daughter. While some or much of that may have escaped this simple woman, it did not elude Jesus. He was tenderly letting her know He loved her immensely and intensely, and whether she understood it or not…throughout eternity…He always had.
Jesus cares the same for each of us. So what has He done for you? Are you telling everyone you can about it? Are you giving Him the glory for what He has done in your life? Are you using the examples of His touch of Grace in your life to spur others to seek that same touch in theirs? He hasn’t blessed you with His Power, His Grace, His forgiveness so you can keep it to yourself. In fact, others often see His blessing on our lives, and if we don’t tell them that it is by His Gracious hand alone that we get to experience those blessings, we are in effect taking the credit for ourselves. If Jesus has been so very, very good to you…and…He has, then part two is do tell…do tell…and then do tell some more!
So now…Desperate times call for Desperate measures, so Do Tell everybody you can about the Power of Jesus’ Grace in your life…and Go Be Awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you once again to the Monday Marriage Message. This will be the sixth installment in my series on Marital Conflicts between Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom.
When it comes to marriage, we do a lot of things differently than we did before we got married. We consider things we never did before. We choose differently than we did as a single person. When we interact with our spouse, most of us react to them differently than we might toward anyone else…at least on the outside. Why is this? On the surface that may seem to be a silly question, but in reality it is one of the more serious questions we can ask. People who enjoy highly successful marriages ask that question and recognize it requires an answer.
Worldly wisdom has many answers to the questions, “Why do we act differently after marrying than we did previously?” and, “Why do we react differently toward our spouse than with many other people”. More than a few men are likely to respond “Happy wife…Happy life.” Though they are attempting to be humorous, worldly wisdom, common sense has taught them there is a modicum of truth to that answer. If you ask many women why they respond differently toward their husbands, they might say, “To keep the peace” or “I’m just trying not to rock the boat”. These answers and most others to these questions reveal a deeper truth. When it comes to marriage worldly wisdom indicates that the motivation for acting differently as a married person ultimately is to keep your spouse happy.
So what’s the problem with that? Sounds like a pretty selfless thing to do. Shouldn’t we want to keep our spouse happy? Isn’t it right to try to give them what they want? Shouldn’t we interact with our spouse differently than we might with others? At first glance those responses might seem right and to make good sense, but probe a little deeper and a less than righteous motive begins to surface. Why do we want to keep our spouse happy? The answer to that question is as plain as day in the various answers people give to my original question. “Happy wife…Happy life”…is the goal more to have a happy wife…or the resulting happy life that can be enjoyed if she is happy? “Trying to avoid rocking the boat, or keeping the peace”…Who exactly is it you are hoping will enjoy some peace? The fact of the matter is, if we act differently after marrying, and we are following the common sense narrative that our goal ought to be to keep our spouse happy, we are deluding ourselves. Those thoughts are self-righteous cop-outs for our real motives. We want a happy life…we want a little peace and quiet, we want…we want…we want. All of the sudden it doesn’t seem to be such a selfless approach. Sounds like not much has changed actually. Before we get married, we do things to enjoy peace and happiness, after we marry, it seems we try to keep someone else placated, so we can we can continue to enjoy peace and happiness. Sorry to wake you from living the dream.
So, what is the difference between that attitude and Wordly Wisdom? Motive. When we look at what God has to say about how we should act toward our spouse after we marry, the key difference is motive. Today I want to share just a few of God’s instructions to married people. I am intentionally selecting specific ones that are difficult for people to accept. Why choose these? The fact of the matter is that if we can wrap our minds and hearts around the correct motivation for the most difficult of instructions, the remainder of them become much easier.
Eph 5:33 says, Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. This scripture gives two distinctly different marital directives, one to the husband the other to the wife. They are distinct because they are specific as to who must do what. The commands are different for the husband and the wife, and they are difficult on numerous levels. When we break it down there is a lot in this short verse.
Nevertheless, as in always…under any circumstances…never allowing for less than this…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. This means that every husband must meet their wife’s specific needs as an act of love. This scriptural instruction is given as an imperative. In other words, it is without caveat. There is no situation where this command is waived. Husbands must always love their wife by meeting her specific needs regardless of how loveable…or unlovable she might seem at any given time. To the wife, the command is shorter but no simpler. Let the wife see that…again, there is no alternative offered, the command is implied to be at all times, that…she respect her husband. Again, this means that every wife must respect her husband in every situation whether he is acting in respectable ways or not. The insistence that the husband love, and the wife respect, regardless…is what makes these two commands so difficult for people to accept.
I don’t know your situation, but I know that in my own marriage these commands can be problematic. I am not always respectable, but my wife is instructed clearly, that she must respect me, without fail. Though I would argue with her, she would say she is not always lovable, and yet I am commanded that regardless, I am to love her by meeting each and every one of her specific needs. So what makes it possible to obey these two very difficult commands? Motive. If I try to love Lynn all the time by meeting her individual needs, and I attempt to do that for her, I will fail. Why? Because my motives are all wrong. Sooner than later, likely much sooner, I will revert to the worldly motive of making her happy so I can be happy. If she tries to respect me at all times, for my sake, she will also eventually fail, and her motive will wrongly become to keep the peace…ultimately her own peace. The two of us must keep in mind that the command to love does not come from her, and the command to respect does not come from me. Both of those commands come from God himself through His word. With that understanding, our motives are corrected. When I am being loving toward Lynn…I am loving her for God, the One who asked me to. When Lynn is being respectful toward me…she is not doing that for me, she is doing it for her Lord who asked her to. We each get the benefit of the other’s obedience, but their obedience is an act of worship before the Lord. God’s word says this is how it should be. 1 Samuel 15:22 says …“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams”.
Another scriptural instruction for married people that gives them great difficulty in our present day and age is 1 Cor. 7:4. That bit of Wordly Wisdom says this, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Talk about a scripture that flies in the face of our present culture’s belief system! Worldly wisdom dictates the mottos we hear shouted with conviction regularly these days like, “My body, my choice”, God’s word says…not so fast. As the founder of the “One Flesh” marital relationship, God recognizes that we cannot become one with another and yet retain personal autonomy. In a sense when Lynn and I chose to ask God to make us one, I gave my authority over my own body to Lynn and she gave authority over her body to me. We did not simply exchange authority over our bodies, that would simply reverse roles, leaving the question of autonomy intact and leaving us exposed to the other’s selfishness. In effect, I gave authority over my body to the oneness of our marriage of which Lynn is an equal voice, and she gave the authority over her body to that same marital entity of which I am an equal member. As a result, autonomy isn’t even a consideration. When this scripture is viewed correctly all of the arguments used against it fall away. If adhered to as intended, our personal autonomy doesn’t enter the equation, and as a result sinful action like abuse, manipulation, and any other misuse of this scripture to cause harm, become impossible.
Again, correct motivation is what makes this work. As in the example a few moments ago, the command for authority over the other’s body does not come from one another…it comes from God. If we give authority over our own bodies to the marriage, and we do it in response to God, our motivation is to please Him. With correct motivation, selfishness toward our spouse is abated and selflessness toward God takes its place. As before, our spouse enjoys the benefit, but it is not done for our spouse…it is done for our God.
The Apostle Paul summed up the question of correct motivation for us in Col 3:18-19,23-24. In the New Living Translation these verses read as follows: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly… Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for [one another]. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Questions to answer:
Do you recognize the selfish motivations behind ideas like “Happy wife, happy life” and “Just trying to keep the peace”?
When you think about it, do you find that your motivation for doing the right thing is sometimes wrong?
What differences do you think it would make if you and your spouse were to become intentional about doing the things the Bible says you should in regards to your marriage, and making a point to do them for your Lord?
Actions to take:
When you recognize that you are disappointed because your spouse did not respond to you the way you hoped, correct your motivation by reminding yourself that you did not do whatever it was you did for your spouse…you did it because God asked you to.
Ask God to help you maintain a correct selfless motivation of obedience to Him as you interact with your spouse even when they do not respond in kind.
So now, being obedient to God’s commands to you as a husband or as a wife…especially the difficult ones…Go be awesome!