Crossroad Online2020-08-18T14:02:54-04:00

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Godly Offspring – September 10, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Godly Offspring

Last week I talked about the fact that as a part of joining a man and a woman and making them one flesh, God actually joins three and makes them one: the husband, the wife, and a portion of His Holy Spirit. We looked at the fact that as He does this He creates an entity, (the marriage) that then resembles Him. God is three in one, marriage is a three in one union. This goes even further to propagate the truth that it is in fact, at marriage, that the task of creating mankind in the image and likeness of God is completed. We sometimes resist this notion because we like to think of creation as complete when the baby shows up, but there are other examples of how a baby is not a completed creation at birth. Yes, that child is viable and visibly (as well as audibly) alive at birth. As Christians we say the child is a life from the moment of conception, but we do not try to argue that simply because life exists, the task of creating the child is complete. Furthermore, we do not have any reasonable expectation that a newborn baby boy or girl is a man or woman yet. There are years of growing and the awkward stage of puberty to be experienced before we say that baby (very much alive) has completed the process of creation. The fact of the matter is that it could be argued ad nauseam when we are completed, but very few would try to debate that a man and a woman joined as one with a portion of the Holy Spirit is a more complete creation capable of reflecting its Creator than a singular baby boy or girl and has exponentially greater capacity to reflect God.

If we are joined as husband and wife with a portion of the Spirit it begs the question, “Why does our marriage have need of a spirit of its own?” Let’s look again at the scripture we referenced last week: Malachi 2:14b-16 …Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of His youth. “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of Hosts, “Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously.”

There are two reasons to join a man and a woman with a portion of God’s own Spirit listed for us right there in verse 15. First, He seeks godly offspring. What is God looking for from our marriages? Why does He make us one so that we have greater capacity to reflect His likeness and Image? So that we can have greater capacity to reflect His image and likeness. We are made one to encourage one another to fulfill our intended purpose to look more like Him. Proverbs 17:27 says; As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. While friendships are generally considered a close relationship and I hope that you are friends with your spouse, the marriage relationship is intended to be the closest human relationship that exists. As husbands and wives, it is our loving duty to accentuate the best in each other. My wife Lynn spurs me on to be much more than I would otherwise attempt to be on my own. She also, as a part of the sharpening process, spurs me to improve my responses to her and to others I interact with. I do not always enjoy the process, but if you have ever watched iron be sharpened it is an uncomfortable yet profitable engagement. There are sparks, friction, and heat, all irritating to a peaceful existence, but the result is smooth, easy movement while carrying out the intended purpose of the blade. While I may find her attempts to “sharpen me” offensive, I am always pleased when the better, sharper man emerges. What is the Spirit’s role in this process? He keeps us accountable to Him when we are doing the sharpening, in other words He convicts us if our motives are not pure, especially if we are simply being judgmental. He also gives us the enduring grace if we are the one being sharpened, helping us to know that our spouse’s intentions toward us are good and not bad, as they may appear through the shower of sparks and thick smoke.

Second, the Spirit helps keep our motives in check. We are more likely to try to justify unjustifiable behavior if we only have ourselves to convince. However, when literally joined and made one with another including a portion of the Spirit we have a built in truth detector that steps in when we desire to believe a lie that will have detrimental consequences for the marriage. There are certain activities that are considered to be wrong to engage in as part of a marriage. No matter what time you travel back to, no matter what society you look at…cheating on one’s spouse for example, is and has always been considered wrong. Why? Every marriage between a man and a woman contains a portion of the Spirit. God’s laws are written on our hearts (Romans 2:14). God is working inside each of us through His Holy Spirit to help us not only do what is right but also what is pleasing to Him. (Philippians 2:13)

Our reference scripture says He seeks godly offspring. This does not simply mean that God want us (as Christians) to have children and teach them to be godly people, though He does desire that result. This verse also gives purpose to the inclusion of a portion of the Spirit in our marriages. God desires to see the very institution of marriage be a godly thing. It cannot appropriately reflect His image and likeness if it is used as a way to destroy rather than to build up. God is in construction, not the demolition business. He is trying to make us the people He has always desired and designed us to be. While it is important that we die with Christ to our old life, God is not trying to kill us by the sword. He is, with surgical precision, trying to free us from the tumor of sin. He wants our marriages to be a reflection of that. He wants the results of our marriages that include a Portion of His Spirit, to be something that looks, sounds and acts as He does. He wants it to produce…godly offspring.

Questions to Answer:

  1. What specific ways do you see the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in your marriage making you better? As individuals? As a couple? Give at least one example for each.
  2. What godly offspring (as defined above) do the two of you recognize is a result of your marriage?

Actions to Take:

  1. Ask God to help you welcome the placement of His Holy Spirit as a part of your marriage.
  2. Invite the Holy Spirit to mess with your marriage and agree together to be open to the changes He suggests.

So now, determining to see godly offspring be the result of your marriage…go be awesome!

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Hey! Eyes on your own paper!

When I was in middle school I remember hearing this warning escape the lips of more than one of my teachers in the midst of a quiet room full of students taking a test. Usually it was said so sharply that it made me jump and even though I knew I had not been looking in the direction of anyone else’s desk. As a result, I would feel even more compelled to be careful to stare intently at my own test sheet. This happened often enough that even now as an adult, if I have to take a written test of any sort there is a nervousness that I feel connected to making sure no one thinks I am allowing my eyes to wander from my own paper in an attempt to steal someone else’s answers.

Of course the threat of being caught would always deter me from making any attempt to cheat no matter how great the temptation of a better grade. Also, it did not escape me the cruel irony that would exist if I did copy a classmate’s answer only to find out they had gotten it wrong! Topping off the list of reasons not to cheat was of course that I did not want to be dishonest, if I was going to get an ‘A’ or a ‘F’ I was going to own it. While I’m being honest though I have to admit I owned a few too many ‘F’s and not near enough “A”s.

I find that people as a whole have trouble keeping their eyes on their own paper, Apparently Jesus noted this problem as well. Matthew 7:1-5 records what He had to say about it. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When we judge, we are pointing out someone else’s fault and in that moment have our eyes on their paper. The problem with this is that when we have our eyes on someone else’s paper we no longer have it on our own. When we are not paying attention to what we are doing we do it in error. In other words, I am called to act toward others with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22&23) When I am being judgmental those qualities will not be a part of the result 99 times out of 100. So in pointing out someone else’s wrong…I have become wrong. I didn’t keep my eyes on my own paper and I failed the test.

The connection that Jesus used in this scripture is a woodworking analogy, another area familiar to me. He said, why do you look for the speck (or sliver as some translations put it) in your brother’s eye but don’t consider the plank in your own eye? That question points to an all too obvious conclusion. So, we feel better about our judgmental selves by inserting the following caveat; we are the one with the speck or sliver and it is our brother with the plank, therefore we are right to make it our business to point out their problem to them. Jesus knew what He was saying though. He knew it is probably actually easier to do it the other way around. Have you ever had a speck in your eye? I have. The tiniest of slivers will cause the greatest irritation and you can’t hardly even hold your eyelids open! When will we learn…eyes on your own paper!

When will we learn? The last time I checked there had not been an opening posted for the Holy Spirit’s job. We need to learn to get into our own lane…and stay there. We are not effective at conviction. Why? Because we are not perfect. Anytime we try to convict someone else of their wrongdoing they do exactly what we do in the same situation…they become defensive. It is an instinctual act of self-preservation. While no one likes to be told they are wrong, we like it even less when we are being told by someone we know also has faults and failings. We certainly don’t like being informed of it by someone who, not keeping their eyes on their own paper is failing to inform of the wrong in a wrong way.

I see this take place in marriages almost more than anywhere else. One spouse or the other does not like how they are being treated and so they tell their spouse about themselves. This hardly if never gets the intended result. Why? Because judgment coming from one human being to another is difficult to accept and is hardly ever done with grace, mercy and love. More often than not, we stand in judgment of someone because we are unhappy with their behavior toward us and it has affected us negatively. We want them to stop doing whatever they did that we didn’t like. I get it. In all transparency this happened to me just a week ago. My wife said something I did not like. It didn’t feel good to me to hear what she had to say. So, I judged her for it. I told her all about how I didn’t like hearing that. I explained in a rather negative way how she had not been very positive in the way she had said what she did. I used a tone of voice that was stern and a look that was designed to emphasize the tone. And you know what? In that moment while I had my eyes on her paper, while I was assessing her performance as a wife…I was being a very, very poor husband!

Let me set the record straight, my wife is an awesome wife…but in moments like those she is not married to an awesome husband. It isn’t me who has commanded her to do the things the Bible tells her she should as a wife, those commands come from God. Who do I think I am to grade her on how well she follows God’s commands? I think God’s Holy Spirit can do just fine without my interference. In fact, I know He can. The truth of it is, the only time He has trouble showing her of any changes He wants her to make…is when I have tried to do that for Him and put her on the defensive. Maybe I need to learn to stay in my own lane…maybe I need to keep my eyes on my own paper and I will do better.

The apostle Peter seemed to recognize the necessity (especially in marriage, but in all our other relationships too) of learning to keep our eyes on our own paper as well, you can read about that in 1 Peter 3:1-9

I think we all need to learn to do a better job of this. Am I saying if someone is engaged in destructive behavior we shouldn’t warn them before they run their lives into the ditch? Of course not, that would be unkind, but if we are going to do it right, if it is going to be said in love, and mercy and without judgment…it can’t be about us.

So now, learning to keep your eyes on your own paper so you can get the grade you are hoping for…go be awesome!

Image Bearers – September 13, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Image Bearers  

One of the scriptures that I have spent a good deal of time dissecting in the past few weeks is Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, let us make man in our own image according to our likeness…and so God created man in His own image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them. I have spoken several weeks about how God did that, and in the coming weeks I will have much to say about how we are created in His likeness. In other words, how we are created to act in many of the same ways as God acts. We will discover how many of the differences between a man and a woman were a part of our creation so that when joined as one we might be more in the likeness of God. Today however, I want to look at one of the ways that as married couples we are created in the image of God. In other words, how is it that as husbands and wives we can actually look like God? 

There are many thoughts, even from scripture, that can tend to confuse us as we consider this question. First of all, the obvious; if a man and a woman look so different than each other, how can they both be a reflection of God’s image? The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus said God is Spirit and that no one has ever seen Him (John 1:18, John 4:24). If this so, how can we reflect that which we cannot see? These and others like them are good questions. Some have answers we can understand now; others remain the mysteries of God. There is an important scripture that allows us to see one way that a married couple is reflective of the image of God in a unique and powerful way: 

Malachi 2:14b-16 …The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of His youth. “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of Hosts, “Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously.” There is a lot to unpack here but we are going to focus on an obscure truth that could easily be passed over if we aren’t careful. Verse 15 begins with Malachi asking a question: And did He not make them one having a remnant of the Spirit? While there may be legitimate questions among scholars as to who “Them” refers to, (it may mean Adam and Eve, it may have meant the Israelites of Malachi’s time) but neither of these explanations change the greater truth contained within. The who is not important, it is the what that holds all the value. “…make them one having a remnant of the Spirit.”  If it were Adam and Eve being spoken of, so be it, God being true to Himself does not waver and what He did for them He continues to do for every man and woman joined thereafter in marriage. If it were the people during the time of Malachi being spoken of, that just goes to prove the former premise to be true. The amazing work of God begs to be the focal point of the verse. God makes one flesh of two people at marriage and adds a third…a portion of His Holy Spirit! The fact that the scriptures capitalize the word Spirit here is indicative that it is speaking of the Spirit of God. This also passes the test of logic. God would not have to say that He joins two people each already possessing their own spirit with a portion of their own spirit. The joining of the Spirit with a marriage is only necessary if it is a new entity having need of a spirit.  

The great truth for today is this: when God joined you to your spouse, He did so augmenting the miracle of your oneness by adding to that new oneness a portion of His Holy Spirit. There are now three parts to the one thing. It is therefore, triune. It is three in one. As such, it reflects the image of the triune God that created it.   

We will talk more next week about the need for our marriages to have a spirit all its own. For today, focus on this great truth. When we are joined in marriage, we are not only capable of reflecting the likeness of God in that we can act in some of the ways He acts, but now we see that we can also reflect His image, and our marriages can also reflect the way He looks. 

Questions to Answer: 

  • Were you aware before today that your marriage had a spirit? 
  • In your own marriage what are some evidences you see that this is in fact true? 
  • What could the two of you do to access the leanings of the Spirit in your marriage as you make decisions that affect the two of you and the oneness you share? 

Actions to Take: 

  • Tell your spouse why you feel it is important that God chose to make a portion of His Holy Spirit an integral part of the oneness you share. 
  • Find ways that fit in your marriage for the two of you to be sensitive to your “portion” and commit to making the Spirit a more integral part of who and what your marriage is so that it can be more reflective of the triune God.  

So now, recognizing that your marriage not only gives the two of you opportunity to act in the ways God acts, but also to look in some important ways the way God looks…Go be Awesome!

Ladies, please join us for the “Going Beyond” Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer on Saturday, October 2nd, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Priscilla has written many Bible studies including: “Elijah,” “Discerning the Voice of God,” and many others. Worship will be led by Anthony Evans Jr. After 2020, this will be a nice girls day, so invite some friends and enjoy food, fellowship, and a fresh word. The cost will be $20 per person and includes lunch. Tickets may be purchased at the Welcome Center.

The Enemy of Greatness – September 9, 2021

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The Enemy of Greatness.

Several years ago, I read the book Good to Great. The Author, James Collins wrote that work to help guide the pathway for good companies to become great companies. In it, he noted several characteristics that good companies exhibited, and when those attributes were traded for a differing one, that change could propelled that good company into becoming a great company. He was able to define several specific adjustments that were common to many if not all of the good companies that became great companies. In his book he pointed out that the one common characteristic that always held companies back from greatness was being a ‘good’ company. A pervasive attitude found anywhere within an organization that some strategy, practice or product was ‘good enough’ always kept that company from becoming great. This discovery became the general theme of the entire book.

Collins wrote; “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

It’s true…Good is indeed the enemy of great. And unfortunately, as people we all too often settle for good enough. I too have been guilty of saying “good enough is good enough” on occasion. There have been times when I have even counseled others to be ok with good enough. However, if good enough keeps us from achieving greatness, then there is reason “good enough” (pardon the pun) not to allow that to happen.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come home from a vacation and describe it as only having been ‘good enough’. I don’t want to be forced to ride with someone whose driving is only ‘good enough’. Those things matter, but what about these? Should we settle for a love for our families that can only be rated as ‘good enough’? Is it ok with us if we have marriages that are only able to garner a score of ‘good enough’? Is it satisfactory to say we are ‘good enough’ at being followers of Christ? Should we be satisfied with a prayer life that is ‘good enough’? How about having a ‘good enough’ handle on what God’s word says? Is it ok if we are ‘good enough’ at listening to the persuasions of the Holy Spirit? What would our plight be if Jesus, after being born as a baby in a manger, grew up, had His ministry, but when faced with death on a cross said, I don’t think I’ll go that far, what I have done already will have to be ‘good enough’. I’ll tell you where we would be…lost eternally.

So how do we avoid letting good be the enemy of great in our lives? After all, aren’t we all merely human beings? Don’t we have a propensity toward failure? Yes we are, and yes we do. So what to do? Stop living your life and you’ll stop failing to be great. Notice I did not suggest that you stop living, I suggested that we stop living our lives and instead let Christ live through us. We can try to be like Him, but our human condition dictates we will not meet with complete success…we will not be great at it. If we could, we would not need Him, we would already be…’good enough’. Our Bibles tell us that all have fallen short of the Glory of God.

Galatians 2:20 in the New King James Version offers the answer to just such a quandary. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. We don’t need to figure out how to act great, speak great or look great to be great. Instead, we can recognize that when we choose to abide in Christ and let Him live through us, we decrease while He increases. We move from good to great. If we let Him love through us, we will be great at loving others. If we let Him serve through us, we will be great at serving. If we let Him feed the hungry, heal the sick and mend the broken hearted through us, we will become great at doing those things. If I want to be a great dad, all I have to do is let Christ love and care for my children through me. If I want to be a great husband, All I have to do is let Him use me as a conduit to deliver His great love for my wife to her. If I want to be a great counselor all I have to do is share only the wisdom He points to in His word through the prompting of His Holy Spirit inside of me. If I want to be a great pastor, all I have to do is allow Him to serve and love others using my life. The scripture above essentially says that if I no longer look at my life as mine but rather as His…I can do all of these things, not just ‘good enough’, but in a great way!

In and of ourselves we aren’t really even ‘good enough’, never mind great, but when we choose to allow our great God to live through us, we begin to resemble the greatness of Him. We are not here to reflect the world around us, that wouldn’t even be ‘good enough’ when it comes to fulfilling our purpose, we were created to reflect our great creator. Each week I end my podcasts by encouraging you to “Go be awesome!” I say that because though in the flesh we don’t even measure up to ‘good enough’ when we are born of the Spirit, live by the urging of the Spirit and rely solely on the empowerment of Christ living inside of us…the result is not ‘good enough’ it is great…it is awesome!

So now, understanding that all things…even greatness…are possible through Christ strengthening you…Go be Awesome!

 

A Job Well Done – August 9, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…A Job Well Done

Genesis 2:7,21-25 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being… And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis chapter one, which we have touched on for the past several weeks, gives us the summation of the creation week. Chapter two tells us about the plan for a day of rest to be spent with the human beings He had created as I spoke of last week. That second chapter goes on to expound on some of the additional details of the events of the sixth day when God created the beasts of the field and mankind. Verse 7 tells us about the creation of Adam, how he was formed from the dust of the earth. Interestingly, Adam was created from God’s previous creation. This biblical truth is a known scientific fact today, though it was written about in the Old Testament scriptures millennia before we possessed the capability to measure the authenticity of it. According to Wikipedia; Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. According to the same source; Soil organic matter which God used to form Adam is composed chiefly of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and smaller quantities of sulfur and other elements. Though not vital to our conversation here, an interesting fact as to the accuracy of God’s word nonetheless. God then took this man He had formed from the soil and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being. Further in verses 21 and 22 we read how Eve was created. Adam was put under anesthesia, God took from him a rib, which He used to create Eve. When Adam came out of surgery, upon His first view of Eve he made the following declaration. “She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” In other words, she was made from me, so we are…one in the same…one flesh.

This declaration is further elaborated on for us as Moses (the Holy Spirit’s scribe for the book of Genesis) wrote the following; Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Marriage is the mysterious, (Ephesians 5:32) or might we more accurately say, the miraculous re-creation between a man and a woman of the oneness that Adam and Eve shared from their beginning. That oneness is reserved for marriage. Though Adam and Eve did not have a wedding because they were created one flesh, we know they were considered by God to be married because His word referred to Eve as Adam’s wife in verse 25.

So comes a great truth: the task of creating an entity that would be reflective of the image and likeness of God became possible when He created mankind. The creation of mankind was not complete until there was a man and a woman (Genesis 1:27) who were one flesh.

The task of creating us in the image and likeness of God is complete when He joins a man and a woman and they become one flesh.

I am not saying that an unmarried individual cannot have attributes and characteristics that are reflective of God. What I am saying is that when God takes a man and a woman and joins them in marriage miraculously making them one flesh, that one flesh has an exponentially greater capacity to be reflective of the image and likeness of God.

Questions to Answer:

  1. With what level of assuredness do you see yourselves as one flesh?
  2. What does it mean to you that Jesus says you are one flesh?
  3. How have your thoughts on this been altered or augmented since you started listening to this podcast?
  4. Are social media and electronic devices creating any obstacles for the oneness in your marriage?

Actions to Take:

  1. Discuss what you think your marriage would look like if you focused as a couple on always protecting the oneness God has created of the two of you.
  2. Pray that God would remind you of ways to protect the oneness and ask the Holy Spirit to put a check in your spirits about anything you need to remove from your lives that hurts your oneness.

So now, determining to walk in the oneness God has gifted you in your marriage with, and to never stop learning how to foster it…Go Be Awesome!

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