Marriage Conference2023-01-18T18:33:01-04:00

It Takes 3 to Make 2 Become 1 Marriage Conference

“It Takes 3 to Make 2 Become One” will be an enjoyable event where we’ll discover how to realize all the blessings God intends every marriage to enjoy. This opportunity truly is for all marriages in all seasons. Please reserve Feb 24th and 25th on your calendars and plan now on attending, I know you’ll be glad you did. Seats are going to be limited. You can reserve yours now clicking the Register Online Button. The cost for the conference is $30.00 and is simply to cover the cost of the food and materials. Registration will close February 19th. The conference will be held here at Crossroad Community Church at our Georgetown campus on February 24th and 25th. We will meet on Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:00pm and on Saturday from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Lunch will be provided.

REGISTER ONLINE

“What God has joined together let no one take apart”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer:

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

Actions to take:

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

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

Eph. 5:21-33 Vol. 1

Hi, Pastor Ken here with the Monday Marriage Message, thanks for joining me.

As I mentioned last week we are going to begin looking at an entire selection of scripture having to do with marriage and will continue for as many episodes as necessary to inspect it and glean from it what we can. I am more than sure that I will be unable to pick any branch clean and note every truth contained therein, but I look forward to the process of doing the best I am able. I am cognizant that God’s word says that His ways and thoughts are immeasurably higher than mine, but I am equally aware that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells me that all scripture is useful for teaching us how to live…and that certainly includes our marriages.

The scripture I have chosen to begin with today is a very familiar passage. I have utilized it often in my own teaching on the subject of marriage and it is probably the most used by others for that purpose as well. In fact, Ephesians chapter 5 is highlighted in many bibles as the marriage chapter. We usually look at verses 22-33 of that chapter for instruction on marriage, but for the purposes of our study of this passage, I want to begin with verse 21. In this first episode dedicated to this particular passage, I will read the passage in its entirety, and then we will begin to digest it from the beginning. In subsequent editions, I will simply pick up where we left off the week before.

Ephesians 5:21-33 as read from the New King James Version.

21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 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. 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. 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. 33 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.

Beginning with verse 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. I think it highly important to start here rather than with the ensuing verse. When people read this passage of scripture beginning with verse 22 the erroneous understanding that can emerge is that wives alone are required to submit. Nothing could be further from the truth. No wonder wives throughout history have resisted this scripture! When taken out of context it appears to make her and her alone responsible to live subject to another. I have heard it taught that the pushback that wives exhibit to verse 22 is a manifestation of the curse resulting from the original sin of humankind. This idea comes from what God said to Eve recorded in Genesis 3:16 To the woman He (God) said: I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. I believe that we often look at the “curse” that we read of in Genesis chapter 3 incorrectly. I think it is perceived by many as God essentially saying to Adam and Eve, “You have broken my rules so now I am angry with you and am going to curse you as a punishment for your disobedience”. This is not at all the spirit of the passage. Chapter 3 begins with a description of the serpent (Satan) deceiving Eve, and Adam deciding to go against the instruction God had given him, as he joined her in rebellion against God. Surprisingly, we do not see as we might expect, an angry God. The scripture tells us that God (who by the way is omniscient) came that evening seeking to spend time with Adam and Eve, as He did every day. After Adam who was hiding with Eve, disclosed what transpired, God acted in love. He did not kill Adam out of anger, instead, out of love He killed another of His creation, an animal, shed its blood to make a covering for Adam and Eve and the recognition of their nakedness and vulnerability that sin had exposed. God then cursed the serpent…and explained to Adam and Eve how the consequences of their selfishness and distrust of Him would now impact their lives. After this description of life going forward, His mercy on them was further exemplified. Genesis 3:22 tells us that because God knew that Adam and Eve had now experienced evil, He was concerned that if they ate from the tree of life, they would be trapped forever in their sinful condition. To guard them from this irreparable danger, God lovingly put them outside the garden where they would be unable to access potential eternal life separated from Himself.

I mention all of this because sometimes people get the idea that God was mad at Adam and Eve for ruining His perfect plan and in anger, He cursed them by making theirs and every subsequent marriage a contentious relationship. It can be deduced (though I believe incorrectly) that marriage has to be problematic and inherently difficult because of ‘paradise lost’. Yes it is true that while in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect unity, perfect equality, together perfectly reflecting the character and qualities of their Creator God. There they acted, spoke, and lived in perfect harmony under the leadership of God. In that place, all was in perfect order, man and woman together on equal footing under the authority of God. As a result of their sin and their understanding of good and evil they did have to be placed outside of the Garden for their own protection as I explained a moment ago. One of the consequences of living outside the Garden was they could no longer walk daily with God, looking to Him for their collective leadership. With a continued need for order, for all things operate correctly under the constraint of order, God chose the first created, Adam to have responsibility for the wellbeing of his wife Eve. This less-than-perfect order of Husband, lord over wife, and wife, subservient to her husband was necessary because the perfectly designed order had been broken by Adam and Eve’s selfishness and distrust in God’s direction. It remained so until Jesus came as the perfect sacrifice for their and our sin and made a way for the relationship between mankind and God to be restored.

Under the new covenant, human beings are again able to walk daily with God. Husbands and wives can once again operate in equality, together looking to God for the headship of their marriages. We still reside in a profoundly fallen world and perfection will not be possible until God creates the “New Heaven and the New Earth” described for us in Revelation chapter 21. However, God once again desires husbands and wives to act as completely equal partners following His lead and reflecting Him as they were originally created to do. The Apostle Paul speaks of this restored equality in Christ in Galatians 3:28, and yet the order outside of Eden remains in effect. Paul is not saying in that scripture that we are no longer men or women, or that there are no longer those who are in authority over and under the authority of others, He is simply making the point that in Christ we all have equal status. It is the same Paul who wrote what we are studying here in Ephesians 5:21-33. What this means is that the order God set in place after the fall remains, but the restored equality we have in Christ should also impact our marriages.

This understanding is actually clarified for us if we begin reading this portion of scripture from Ephesians 5 starting with verse 21 as I suggest we should. 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. When we begin here we see clearly that in Christ, submission in marriage is a two way street. The husband and wife’s equality are exemplified in that they are both required to submit to one another. The phrase “in the fear of God” suggests this state of marital equality to operate under the headship of God, as originally designed. As we continue next time, we will discover practical ways Paul suggests that we can submit to one another best. I hope that this new format is as much a blessing to you as it is to me. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of the Holy Spirit connecting the dots as we work our way through this passage offered to us to develop marital oneness.

Questions to answer:

  • What are your thoughts about the loss of perfect equality between Adam and Eve being one of the casualties of their sin?
  • In light of that, when you consider Jesus being the perfect Lamb who came to take away the sin of the world, what effect should a personal relationship with Him have on restoring marital equality and unity?
  • What difficulties do you recognize sin has caused you and your spouse to have operating in perfect equality, unity and harmony?

Actions to take:

  • Commit to reading Ephesians 5:21-33 at least 3-5 times per week during the course of our study and ask God to reveal even further truths to you that can impact the way you and your spouse interact with each other and with Him.

So now, in awe of God, and as an act of renewed equality and unity found in Christ, submit to one another…and Go Be Awesome!

Allow me to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! In light of the holidays, which are no doubt offering many of us opportunities to be busy spending time with friends and family, I will not be podcasting next week. I will look forward to continuing our study of Ephesians chapter 5 in the New Year, see you then.

Exposing the Truth – December 12, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message.

As those of you who have been joining me for this marriage podcast know, I always attach scripture to the marital concepts I share. The reason for this is obvious. As a pastoral counselor, I believe that there is undoubtedly a single source for all wisdom. Human beings can, and do, from time to time settle on a wise conclusion, but even blind squirrels find nuts once in a while. Any wisdom we quote-unquote “discover” is exactly that, a discovery. It is not our knowledge, it is God’s truth and we have simply had it revealed to us. Gravity is not Sir Isaac Newton’s concept; he simply recognized that it existed. Apples fell from trees long before one reportedly hit him on the head. God does allow for us to access some of His wisdom concerning marriage (among other things) through sources other than His written word. I have spoken before of the fact that Malachi 2:15 indicates that God endows every marriage (even ones that do not acknowledge Him) with a portion of His Holy Spirit. With this gift, there have been certain quote-unquote “rules” pertaining to marriage regardless of historical, societal, or religious context. This continuity is only possible with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom He attempts to unveil in every marital union. Additionally, In Romans 2:14-15 Paul writes that God has written His law upon the hearts of those who are His people and even those who are not. Paul says that without this knowledge of right and wrong given to us directly from God, we could not even possess a conscience. Again, these are examples of our limited ability to know truth aside from the Word, but they were never intended to be substitutions for the Word, nor should they ever be construed to be remotely equivalent. The Psalmist wrote, Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11) This verse indicates notable truths about the truth. First, it is all His truth, His word. Second, it is our responsibility to seek out and discover His truth so that we can possess it. Finally, once it is in our possession, it is our responsibility to employ His truth so that we are able to live as we ought to and in the way that will be most profitable for us.

It is for all of the reasons mentioned above that I am unwilling to offer any episode of this podcast without scriptural basis and reference. My hope is that as I offer these truths to you from God’s Word, and make you aware of where I obtained them, that you will go and search them out yourselves. I pray that you will be induced to spend time for yourselves in God’s word giving His Holy Spirit the opportunity to reveal some of these same…and additional truths to you, concerning your life and your marriage. There is an old saying that “Knowledge is power”, but that is a lie…Knowledge employed is power. It is only when we seek out, discover what God’s word has to say to us…and employ it…put it to use, that we begin to see real change and lasting improvement in our marriages and other facets of our walk with God.

Every week for the last 16 months I have offered biblical concepts that are intended to show you how to employ God’s wisdom and power to strengthen your marriage. Sometimes I have stayed with a concept for a number of weeks and developed a series surrounding that particular truth. Most of the time the concepts have varied from week to week. It has been comfortable and  rewarding to present this podcast that way, but now I want to try something new. Sometimes when a person speaks topically as I have been doing since I began this ministry, there is some question if the scriptures are always being used correctly. What I mean is that it is possible for someone to choose a topic and then find scripture that seemingly reinforces the speaker’s premise. I commit to you that I have done my very best to keep from doing just that. I spend hours researching and studying the scriptures I intend to use each week to make sure that the concept or idea I am purporting is in line with the original intent of the Word and not the other way around. Even though I work tirelessly to do that, I have decided for a season to bring this podcast to you in an expository manner. Beginning next week, I will take as many episodes as necessary to expose all of the truths that I am personally aware of concerning a particular scriptural reference. This may be a single verse, a portion of or an entire chapter, or may cover even more ground than that. I will not be moving away from a chosen text until it has been completely looked over. I do not pretend to have a totality of understanding of any of these passages but will offer to you all that I have come to know and understand as they pertain to marriage.

I am looking forward to this new endeavor. I will undoubtedly learn even more as I undertake it and I invite each and every one of you to join me on the journey. I am expecting what I have come to expect as I study any portion of God’s Word…continued revelation. I fully anticipate there will be times where the scriptural context surrounding the quote-unquote “Marriage scriptures” I’ve chosen will only serve to deepen our understanding of those passages and guide husbands and wives into greater relationship with each other and with their Lord.

Thank you for walking along with me over these past 16 months. I have enjoyed our time together, and I look forward to what God is going to do in all of our lives and marriages as we continue to follow Him.

So now, continuing to search out the scriptures so that you can develop your marital oneness into all that God wants it to be…Go Be Awesome!

Good, Better, and Best – November 28, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message…Good, Better, and Best.

We have all seen these words used to describe things. Being a tool guy, I notice them most often when looking at new tools I would like to buy. There are the “Good” ones that will work as advertised and accomplish the task. There are the “Better” ones, usually made of a slightly higher quality material or with a few more features, and at a higher cost than the base model. Finally, there is the “Best”. This tool will generally be made of the highest quality materials available to the manufacturer. It may also be designed with even more features than the “Good” or “Better” models offered, and it will most certainly be the most expensive of the three. When it comes to how we maneuver through life, there are also three choices. Good, Better and Best.

With the exception of Eve, all of us enter the world single. As I have explained in previous episodes of the Monday Marriage Message, Eve was created in a “One Flesh” condition with Adam. Setting her aside however as the anomaly, the rest of us come into this world single. In the context of this edition, we are born in the “Good” category. We are quite capable of singularly walking through life, some people are intentional about doing this. Scripturally speaking, there is much that ought to be considered before such a choice is made if it is to be decided with one’s eyes wide open.

The first of these is that God determined that “It is not good (interpreted to mean it is incomplete) that man should be alone. Therefore, I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18) In the theology of marriage it is understood that God was not saying a person should never live singly. He was only noting that a man is incapable alone of emulating the totality of God’s image and likeness. As a result, God made woman to be “one flesh” with man thereby completing the process of creating humankind reflective of their Creator. With this in mind, if we choose to remain single we are accepting that we will be less capable of reflecting the image and likeness of God than we could if we marry. This does not mean we cannot speak or act in Christ like ways. It simply means our capacity for reflecting God’s attributes is diminished because we cannot personally possess all of them. Some of His characteristics were reserved for our opposite. Some attributes of God are found only in men, while others are found solely in women, and others still are not possible without the inclusion of both.

Paul made the argument that for the purposes of serving God without hindrance, he concluded that remaining single as He was would offer a person the most opportunity for uninterrupted service to God. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 32-35)  But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I amI want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

Certainly, Paul understood the virtue and purpose behind marriage. I don’t think for a minute that He was arguing that no one should marry, that would have been absurd and obviously brought humanity to extinction. I think He simply knew that for himself, considering the challenges of his work for God in the furtherance of the gospel message, He was better suited for that particular task as a single person. I think he was also saying that others who undertook a similar ministry might also be better able to do so in a singular fashion.

If remaining single is good, what is better? The obvious answer is that it is better to marry. Marriage has been the plan from the beginning. As I mentioned above, Genesis chapter 1 and 2 leave little question as to the plan of God in this respect. He created the very first couple married. They were created “One flesh” with great purpose and intent. If God would have created Eve by the same process He created Adam, it would have been successful to the extent that as He breathed the breath of life into her nostrils she would have become a living being, just as Adam had. However, God did not duplicate human life in that way. Instead, by Adam’s declaration, He took Eve out of Adam, thereby creating them in a “One flesh” condition. God was not simply showing off, and illustrating that there were multiple ways He could accomplish the same thing. He was not simply creating a female form of a human being. He was instituting the marriage of a man and a woman. If God had simply created Eve by the same process He had Adam, He would have built a weakness into their union. Either of them could have at some place in their roughly 900 year existence decided they were displeased with the other and asked God to make them a “new mate”. This was not possible however because they were more than mates, they were in fact “One flesh”. Adam could never be separated from Eve except by death, she would always be one flesh with him. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 19:8 “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted (or suffered) you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so”.

God had created Adam and Eve by differing methods so that their “One flesh” condition would be permanent until death. God knew that what He had done was good, in fact in Genesis 1:31 He declared it was “Very good”. God found the marriage of Adam and Eve to be so preferable to the single Adam, that He declared that He would recreate their “One flesh” condition in every married couple going forward. Genesis 2:24 records God’s own words to that effect, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh”.

If marriage is good, or in God’s assessment, “Very good”, what could be better? In Ephesians 5:21-33 the Apostle Paul answers that question. Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 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. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 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.

What is best? According to this scripture, it is best to be “One flesh” with your spouse and “One flesh” with Christ. As Christ followers and as married people, we have more to consider than ourselves…even more than just our spouse. As a married man I am one with my wife who is also one with Christ. How I interact with Her is how I am interacting with Him. The same is true for her. When we keep this truth in mind and act accordingly, our marriage is almost seamless. In those times, we are each as perfect a spouse as our humanity allows. When this incredible truth is considered, as it should be at all times, our marriage is the best reflection of the image and likeness of God that it ever is. When we do not selflessly respond to one another in this way…well, let’s just say our marital mirror gets dirty and clouded. In those moments, God can’t see Himself as clearly as He would like and our marriage is not producing the effect He was hoping for when He made us “One flesh”. Best is when we let God have his way. Best is when we allow our marriage to meet its full potential and fulfill its God’s given purpose. Best is when we allow our marriage to be what it was created to be and together we reflect the image and likeness of our Creator.

Questions to answer:

  • What are your thoughts about marriage in terms of Good, Better and Best?
  • How well are you doing as a couple at going from Better to Best?

Actions to take:

  • Discuss how the two of you could move your marriage into Best status and together be more reflective of your Creator.
  • Ask God to unleash His Holy Spirit to convict you of times you are not being a good representation of His image and likeness and to suggest to you corrective measures.

So now, if you are married, you have moved from Good, to Better. Go for Best and allow your marital mirror to reflect God’s fullness…and go be Awesome!

Do The Next Right Thing – November 21, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken and I want to thank you for joining me today for the Monday Marriage Message.

As a pastoral marriage counselor, I can’t help but hear, see and read things through the lens of how they might influence the institution of godly marriage. I regularly consider how all of it would either affect marriage in a negative or a positive way. I can honestly say that not much I experience won’t get poured through that particular filter. I think it helps me be a better counselor, pastor, teacher, and frankly a better spouse.

I was listening to a sports podcast this past week and the person being interviewed kept using a phrase that caught my attention. I know that he was employing it in a business model context, and that he had not coined the phrase personally, but it struck me how pertinent it is to an awesome marriage. This man kept expressing that in his role as the CEO of a particular sports league he continuously tried to make sure he was “Doing the next right thing”. He spoke of the many ups and downs, challenges and even controversies he had presided over during his tenure, and how “Doing the next right thing” had served him so well. As I listened I wondered, how much more successful we might all be at fulfilling our roles as husbands and wives if we were always looking for the opportunity to “Do the next right thing”.

Any realistic view of marriage is going to include challenges that are not always responded to as they ought to be. Tongue-in-cheek, I tell every couple who comes to me for pre-marital counseling that their marriage would be perfect except that the two of them are going to be a part of it. Human beings, it turns out, have a propensity for doing the wrong thing, simply stated, we are just good at it…that is why it is such an important endeavor to be looking for the chance to “Do the next right thing”. Even the Apostle Paul wrote that “If you marry you haven’t done anything wrong, but you will have trouble”. (My personal paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 7:28). “Doing the next right thing” is what shortens the duration of the trouble.

This is actually a biblical concept. I just said that “Doing the next right thing” has the potential to shorten the duration of marital trouble. I would go so far as to say that scripturally speaking it isn’t simply possible that will be the outcome, it is in fact, probable. When we are mistreated, the Bible offers several ways to “Do the next right thing”. One of my favorites is Romans 12:21. That verse instructs us, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. I find it easy to remember chapter and verse for this concept because the idea here is to give back the reverse of what has been given; coincidentally, the reference is reversed as well…chapter 12, verse 21. But why would we do this? Conventional wisdom would indicate that if we let someone get away with mistreating us they will almost certainly think they can continue to do so. Right? Not so according to scripture, especially in close personal relationships such as marriage. I would like to read to you the verses leading up to this one, and I especially like the way The Living Bible says it. Romans 12:17-21; Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. Don’t argue and fight with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, as much as is humanly possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands. Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be “heaping coals of fire on his head.” In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. Don’t let evil get the upper hand, but conquer evil by doing good.

As I said worldly wisdom would say that returning evil for evil, is the only way to let someone know how it feels to be mistreated. Wordly wisdom on the other hand indicates otherwise. God’s thoughts on the subject indicate that “Doing the next right thing” by treating someone correctly though they have mistreated you, will bring them under conviction. Our thought is that they won’t know they were wrong if we don’t show them a reflection of their own behavior. God says that contrasting their poor actions with righteous ones will stand out much more clearly to them. I like that this scripture also gives remedy for a hardhearted person. If the contrast of returning good for evil doesn’t have its intended effect, we don’t need to fret, God is clear, He will repay them for their unrighteousness. We can simply stay in our lane and continue to “Do the next right thing”.

As hard as it is to admit, sometimes it is us who have been the instigator. Perhaps we didn’t start it, but we allowed ourselves to become engaged in the disrespectful words or unloving actions. Maybe we missed the first opportunity we had to “Do the next right thing”, possibly even the second or third. I get it, our spiritual enemy is always trying to kill, steal and destroy the peace in our marriages. The devil is constantly hard at work to get us off track. Thankfully, scripture offers the solution for that. “Do the next right thing” James 4:7 says Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Whenever you recognize that Satan has been getting his way in your marriage, respond as instructed…do what God would want you to, this is the first step in resisting the devil. God’s word is clear what the result of that will be…the devil will flee! Don’t let the enemy’s tactics of guilt and shame keep you from doing well, it’s not too late…it is always the right time to “Do the next right thing”.

Incidentally, if you have been listening to the Monday Marriage Message podcast for a while now you have undoubtedly heard me speak about the fact that the primary purpose of marriage according to scripture is to be a marital mirror God can look into and see His reflection. You have also heard me teach about the fact that it is in our God given one flesh condition that our potential to be more like Him is exponentially increased. Additionally, you have heard me encourage you to keep your eyes on your own paper, meaning that we all have the ability to make sure our portion of our marriage reflects God, regardless of what our spouse might be doing at any given time. If we keep these truths in mind the ability to follow the direction given in James four and “Do the next right thing” becomes more evident. When we “submit to God”, we do what He wants us to, which is to reflect Him. Additionally, if we submit to God we are allowing our half of our marriage to reflect him regardless of whether our “one flesh” partner is doing so or not. Finally, by submitting to God and reflecting Him we will be resisting the devil who would like to convince us in the moment that we should reflect the words, actions or attitude our spouse. So what powers such a response that is so contrary to our nature? Philippians 4:13 gives the answer…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As Christ followers, we don’t have to go-it-alone…even when our spouse isn’t in step with us. Christ gives the strength in every situation to “Do the next right thing”. All of us have the desire from time to time to reflect the poor attitudes of our spouse rather than the perfect ones of God. We are all occasionally tempted to reflect our spouse instead of our Creator. Thankfully, we can rest assured that; No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, (The next right thing) that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

While we are on the subject of being awesome marital mirrors who do a great job of choosing to “Do the next right thing” to reflect God, here are some additional encouragements. According to Proverbs 21:3. Choosing to “Do the next right thing” is more pleasing to God than sacrifice. Sacrifice in the Old Testament was the symbolic way that people illustrated their love and commitment to God. It was how they showed God it was their desire to be His people. So, when you choose to “Do the next right thing”, especially in terms of your marriage you are illustrating those very things to God. In fact, His word says that “Doing the next right thing” shows your love and commitment to Him better than anything else you could do.

Finally, If we want to reflect God well then we need to look like His Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23 we can read the exact attributes His Spirit exudes. Knowing that, we have even more clarity about what the visible results of our marital mirrors should be.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we keep these fruits of His Spirit in our minds and we desire to allow them to be borne out in our lives, we will almost certainly always know how to “Do the next right thing”.

Questions to answer:

  • What things get in the way of you choosing to “Do the next right thing”?
  • What effect does it have on you when your spouse chooses to “Do the next right thing” in regards to a poor interaction with you?
  • What effect has “Doing the next right thing”, or the lack of it, had on your marriage?

Actions to take:

  • Consider ways that the two of you can attempt to increase the frequency of “Doing the next right thing”.
  • Commit Galatians 5:22-23 to memory so that you are never without a great guideline of what the right response should be.

So now, reflecting your Creator in your marriage, choose to “Do the next right thing”…and go be awesome!

Developed Unity – November 14, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message.

When people come to see me for help with their marriage, I invite them to sit down and tell me how I can help. This question often reveals much more than a couple may have intended to let me in on during our first visit. What I mean by that is that their answer to that question often times tells me much more than the words alone convey.

As people tell me what they deem to be the marital problem they are struggling with, most times it seems their opinion is that if their spouse would only speak, act or respond differently, the problem would dissipate. People are gracious and most don’t desire to unload all of the blame for the trouble in their marriage on their spouse. So, they often preface the unpacking of their spouses transgressions by stating “I know I am not perfect, but…” and then proceed to let me in on their spouse’s imperfections which are of course the source of all of their trouble.

The “problem spouse” in these situations usually react in one of several ways. They may just sit quietly and endure the exposition of all of their wrongdoing. They might take issue with their spouse on one or two points, picking their battles, but offering excuses for the seemingly more egregious of their failures. Sometimes they will rise up and disagree with all of it and then try to turn the tables and share that while they may do the things their spouse is complaining about, every failure on their part is only a reaction to their spouses failures.

As I said a moment ago, all of this is far more revealing than the parties sitting in front of me understand. So what do I know? What am I able to extract from these particular conversations?

First of all the primary problem that is revealed in these situations is that there is a serious lack of developed unity. If the couple agree with my assessment, they may think that means that they are not on the same page, do not see the issues the same way, and therefore are unable to get along in peace. While these things might in fact be problematic for them, that is not at all what I mean by underdeveloped unity or oneness. I understand that the fact that they see things differently than one another, and that they don’t agree on solutions is not indicative of a lack of unity. Their propensity to view those differences as problematic is what indicates their oneness has not been developed as it should have. Unity is not a meeting of the minds, unity is the strength obtained by recognizing and valuing the differences possessed as providing more ways to work together…not fewer.

What these couples are effectively doing is indicting, judging and convicting each other as wrong simply because the other does not act, think and respond as they would. They often see every differing response from their spouse as argumentive, and as a personal attack.

This leads to the second difficulty troubling these couples. Their judgmental attitudes toward one another. Each is standing in judgment of the actions words and thoughts of the other. One of the phrases I use to help couples successfully resolve this problem is to “Keep their eyes on their own paper”. What do I mean by that? I prefer to let Scripture explain.

While giving the Sermon on the Mount Jesus addressed this very issue. In Matthew 7:1-5 it is recorded that He said; “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

When we decide that another person should not say, think or respond in a certain way we are judging them. Certainly there are times when this is necessary, and in fact there are occasions where we would not be doing our due diligence if we failed to discern between right and wrong. Parenting is an excellent example of this. We would do far more harm than good if we chose to simply ignore incorrect responses in our children. Scripture indicates that we must parent responsibly. Proverbs tells us that if we want a good outcome we need to offer our children our correction. “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24 Another example comes from Proverbs 22:6, Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. It is clear, in the parent/child relationship, we are to make our children aware of their missteps and take the necessary steps ourselves to correct them. I believe however, that even in the parental role, scripturally we are cautioned that the measure we use to judge our children’s activity will be used on us in our interactions with them going forward.

Additionally, we see in scripture that if we have a brother or sister in Christ who has sinned against us we are instructed to go to them privately and make them aware of the problem. Only if that doesn’t bring resolution are we to delicately follow the biblical prescription of involving others, and always from a pure motive of love. Even here we must be cautious to do so in a non-judgmental nature, offering the same level of grace and mercy that we would want shown to us. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Interestingly within the marital relationship, the scripturally prescribed response to a perceived failure is different altogether. I believe this to be for several reasons. I give them in no particular order, though all are offered for careful consideration. First, the response to a judgmental attitude is far more abrasive within a marriage. People respond to perceived spousal judgment with much less tolerance than any other. This is a result of their Oneness. No one easily accepts criticism from an equal, and the reaction is very likely to be a Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in mine!”

Second, Judgement within the marital relationship is often misplaced. What I mean by this is that misinterpretation of the words, actions, and more importantly, motives occurs with arguably higher frequency between spouses than in any other relationship. Again, the reason for this is that spouses often misunderstand unity, as well as the fact that the marital relationship is of higher consequence than any other one.

Finally, I believe that we are to respond differently in the marital relationship because we are in fact “one flesh” If we respond to our spouse with judgement…we bring judgment upon ourselves. It is nearly, if not impossible altogether, to judge the actions of one’s spouse from a position of selflessness. The fact is that if we are judging our spouse it is likely because we don’t like the way they have responded toward us…and that is a selfish motive. When we are being judgmental from a position of selfishness, it cannot be offered in a way that is godly, and will therefore be incorrectly applied regardless of the validity of the complaint.

Scripture prescribes responding to marital difficulty differently than any other relationship as I mentioned a moment ago. 1 Peter 3:1-7 says, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. 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.

Obviously, the Apostle Peter wrote this instruction to husbands and wives to help them know how to interact with one another in a way found pleasing to God. As he wrote, Peter understood that the wives who read his instructions to them would have known all too well the story of Sarah and Abraham. He understood they would have known that Sarah spoke with respect to a husband who had not always acted respectably in regards to his treatment of her. Peter made the point that Sarah’s response toward Abraham was the correct one even in light of His mistreatment of her. To the husbands, Peter instructs that when a man’s wife interacts with him, he is to respond with understanding; he is to treat her with honor and care for her as the weaker or more fragile, but also as the more valuable vessel. I believe his intimation here is that the wife is a vessel to be regarded more carefully and of higher value just as one would be more careful with a crystal vase as opposed to one made of iron. In the marital relationship we are to respond to one another with the highest regard at all times and it is my belief that this scripture indicates that within that special relationship we are to let our lack of judgment and the work of the Holy Spirit do all of the convicting.

Questions to answer:

  • Is it easy or difficult for you to remain non-judgemental within the bounds of your marriage?
  • If you recognize that you have responded to your spouse judgmentally in the past what were the results of that?
  • If you feel that your spouse responds to you judgmentally sometimes, how does that make you feel?

Actions to take:

  • Discuss what your marriage would look like if you knew that judgmental attitudes were rarely or never present.
  • If necessary seek your spouse’s forgiveness for your past judgmental attitudes toward them.
  • Ask God to help you respond to your spouse the way that He wants you to…especially when it is difficult to do so.

So now, learning to respond and react toward your spouse only in the ways that God’s word instructs, trusting that His precepts are perfect for your marriage…go be awesome!

Two Become One – November 7, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken and thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message.

This past weekend I had the privilege of officiating a wedding ceremony for a sweet young couple. As I spoke to them during the ceremony I reminded them of several things I had shared with them during their pre-marital counseling. I reiterated to them and their guests that though I was being given the honor of pronouncing the newlyweds to be husband and wife, it was not I who was marrying them. I directed them to the truth that is was in fact God who would be taking the two of them and making them one. Jesus said in Mathew 19:4-6 “Have you not read that in the beginning He who created them, made them male and female, and said ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.’” Then Jesus added this statement, “And so they are no longer two, but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.” Jesus was clear, when a man and a woman are married, though one authorized to do so speaks the words, and though a governmental entity endorses the process, it is God and God alone who is able to marry a couple together and make the two become one. Having made that point, Jesus was correct to say that what is joined together by God should not be considered something to ever be undone by any human being.

After laying that groundwork I mentioned to the couple that since it was God who was in fact marrying them, I felt that there were some things He would want them to remember as they began their lives as husband and wife.

First, I told them that I believe God would ask them to remember that it was by His own design and hand that they were made so differently one from another. That it was with great purpose and intent that He designed the two of them to think differently than each other, to need differently than one another and to react differently than the other. I mentioned that God would tell them to always keep in mind He did this for their blessing…not to distract or disappoint them. He would ask them to embrace all of the differences understanding that those differences were designed to enhance their relationship…not detract from it. Finally I reminded them that God would challenge them to see the differences as things of beauty to be cherished and not as flaws requiring change.

Genesis 1:26 and 27 speak of the fact that when God decided to create mankind with the intent that we would reflect Him He created both a man and a woman. Two similar vessels yet containing vastly different qualities and characteristics all designed to be reflective of their Creator, especially when joined together in marriage. While He created us differently than one another, each having our own unique strengths and abilities, He intends for us to see those differences as valuable in assisting us to work together for a common purpose. This becomes abundantly clear as we look at the entirety of those two simple verses. Then God said, “Let Us (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, differing in function yet always united in purpose)make man ( or mankind) in Our image, according to Our likeness; (to act and function as we act and function in total unison) Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (this will be their united purpose for which we have made them alike and yet so different from one another, to manage all that they can see, hear, taste, smell and touch) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; (God’s purpose for creating mankind was clearly to reflect Him) male and female He created them. (God, being so much greater than we are, needed to create both a man and a woman to be capable of containing all of the characteristics necessary to be reflective of Himself)

Second, I reminded the couple that I believe that as God is joining them He would want them to be reminded that as a married couple they will now have even greater capacity to look and sound like Him. I told them that this would be made evident as they interact with each other as well as with those around them. I reminded them that God would want them to recognize that the design of marriage was intended to complete the process of creating them in His image, and I encouraged them that as they allowed God to inextricably join them one with the other their potential to be more like him became exponentially increased.

I was able to share this with them because God shares it with us in His own word. Genesis chapter two gives us greater detail about how the two verses I referenced a moment ago in Genesis 1:26 & 27 came to be. In chapter two we read that first God created Adam from the dust of the ground. That He saw and stated that Adam was not completely capable of living up to the intended purpose of reflecting God by himself. There we read that to remedy this God took bone and flesh from Adam and created Eve. As a result, Adam was able to make the declaration in Genesis 2:23 that he and Eve were a married couple. And Adam said, (upon being presented with Eve) “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” (Adam essentially said we are one flesh, a term used by God and later, Christ to refer to marriage. Adam made note of the fact that He and Eve were created married) God seemingly endorsed Adam’s understanding in the very next verse where it is recorded that God said; And for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two of them shall become one flesh.

Third, I was able to remind the couple God knows they are human, made in his likeness but not perfect in all of their ways as He is. Understanding that…the opportunity for them to look more like Him will always be right there in their marriage each day. I encouraged them that God deals with all of us with grace and mercy and so He would always want the two of them to use grace and mercy liberally with each other. Love is always increased through these characteristics…never depleted by them.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us that because of our relationship with Jesus we know that we know that we can come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. As intended reflectors of God it should be no surprise that He would want us to respond to one another in the same way that He responds to us.

I closed my charge to that young couple with these thoughts.  I told them that as God married them and made them one that I could be confident that He would say to them what He had already said in His word. As they are married, they are no longer two, but one. I told them that He would encourage them to think no longer as individuals, but as part of something bigger and greater than themselves. He would remind them that He intends to be an important part of their marriage, and that if they would rely on Him for the inner strength, nothing will ever be able to separate the two of them as long as they both would live.

I was able to tell them that with joy and boldness because Jesus is actually the one who said it first. As I noted when I began today, in Mathew 19:6 it is recorded for us that when questioned about what happens when two people marry, Jesus replied, “…They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let not man separate”.

What a joy it is for me when I am given the privilege to minister to a couple in that special way! I am thankful that I am afforded that particular opportunity with regularity in my ministry as the counseling pastor here at our Crossroad Community Church. I pray for that young couple as I have for each of the many couples I have been blessed to work with and officiate weddings for, that they might have all of the blessings reserved for those who use their marriages to be good reflectors of their Creator, the One who made them one.

So now, with a greater understanding of what God wants you to be in your marriage, reflect Him in every possible way…and go be awesome!

Differences That Divide – Part Three (Re-Posted from October 11, 2021)

Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Differences That Divide – Part Three This is the third part of a Three-part series and so if you have not listened to parts one and two I would strongly encourage you to do that before listening to this edition.
For the past two weeks I have been talking about the differences between the way a man thinks (compartmentally) and the way a woman thinks (relationally). Today I want to delve into why God did this. As I said, though we think as men and women, husbands and wives, and we do almost certainly amuse God regularly, I don’t believe that He created us with these particular differences to amuse Himself or to frustrate us.
Remember back in Genesis 1:26 we read; Then God said “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness… and then in verse 27, So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. You’ll also remember that I spoke about the fact that God couldn’t get all of His varied attributes and characteristics into one gender, so He created two genders as one flesh so that their oneness would be reflective of Him. Then He made provision for that oneness to be re-created throughout history through a mystery (or a miracle really) called marriage.
Since we know what the plan is, to create one thing out of two so that it might reflect Him, we can deduce that when there is a difference that follows gender lines, it likely exists because God has duality of that particular characteristic or attribute. Accepting that premise, we can then look for evidence that He thinks both compartmentally and relationally.
How do we know what God thinks? We simply look to His word. What evidence do I have then that God thinks compartmentally? We can find that relatively easily, we just have to turn in our bibles all the way to…the first verse! Genesis 1:1 says; In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is a compartmentalized idea. It is simply a statement of fact. Though the scope of the content is immeasurable, the concept is singular. It doesn’t mean anything more than it says. It does not lead to anything; it does not allude to anything not covered in the statement…it is compartmentalized. It was written by Moses but if we believe the bible to be true 2 Timothy 3:16 makes it clear that though Moses may have scribed it, God’s Holy Spirit spoke it. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Therefore, this first verse written in God’s word comes from the mind of God. It is one of His thoughts recorded in written form. I could literally go on for days citing scriptures that display God’s compartmentalized thinking, but I will leave some of that research up to you. I do suggest as you are becoming aware of this information, that as you read God’s word look to see if what you are reading seems compartmental in nature or is more of a relational thought of God’s. Speaking of the relational side of God’s thinking, I chose another well-known scripture to illustrate this aspect of God’s thoughts. John 3:16 does a good job of illustrating relational thought. I will break the verse down into its individual relational concepts to show this clearly:
• 1st – For God so loved the world
• 2nd – That He gave His only begotten Son
• 3rd – That whoever believes in Him
• 4th – Should not perish
• 5th – But have everlasting life
This verse is relational on five levels and clearly comes from the mind of God. God thinks compartmentally and relationally…or for you ladies He thinks relationally and compartmentally. God thinks both ways! As I have looked closely at scripture I have come to believe that He thinks both ways all the time. There have been many times when I have shared a scripture with my wife, pointing out to her the compartmentalized view of it, and then she has then shared with me the relational meaning in it that I didn’t even see or consider because I was viewing it from my natural compartmentalized mindset.
It quickly becomes evident when you look for it that God does demonstrate in scripture that He uses both processes of thought. With that in mind, and understanding that the two kinds of thinking are so different from one another, arguably opposites of each other, it becomes clear why we as humans are not able to possess both ways of thinking. It is easy to see why God created men to think one way while He created women to think the other. By doing this and then joining us in marriage, our resulting oneness possesses both kinds of thought. You’ll recall that in the scripture we reflected on a few weeks ago from Malachi, God referred to marriage as a covenant. In the Old Testament one of the effects of two people entering into covenant with each other was that what one possessed the other now possessed…right down to a birthright. We see this clearly illustrated in the story of King David. David, while still a young boy, was a friend of King Saul’s son Jonathan. David and Jonathan joined themselves to one another in a covenant. While the outcome was not the intent of either boy at the time, it is interesting that God honored the covenant even beyond the participant’s considerations. Jonathan was the king’s son, heir to the throne…but it was David who became King after Saul. Make no mistake, God cares about covenant.
As compartmental and relational thinkers, when we are joined in the covenant of marriage, our oneness now makes us each possessors of both kinds of thinking. I don’t get to actually think relationally in my mind, my wife keeps that process in her pretty head, as I keep our compartmentalized thought in my not-so-pretty one. As one flesh however, we each possess and have access to both processes. Proverbs 31 speaks to this. Proverbs 31:10,11 reads as follows: Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. This scripture points out the need to consult one another to arrive at complete thought. It basically states that the husband who considers his wife’s thoughts on a matter will make decisions that will turn out well for the entire family. It was recorded in this direction only because at the time it was written, men made all the decisions. Because women do make decisions for the marriage and the family today, I don’t think God would be upset with us for reading it in reverse. Who can find a virtuous husband? For his worth is far above rubies. The heart of his wife safely trusts him; so she will have no lack of gain.
Essentially, God is saying here that we should consult each other if we want to make good decisions. He utilizes both processes of thought and His word tells us He is wise, in fact, that He is wisdom. We can then conclude that the two ingredients of wisdom are compartmentalized thought and relational thought. So if we want to make wise decisions, God is making sure we see the necessity and the value of consulting one another.
I contend that a husband can achieve intelligent thought all on his own. A wife can also achieve intelligent thought all on her own. Wisdom however, can only be attained when both processes of thought are considered…and utilized in the final decision.
Questions to Answer:
1. What are some of the best decisions that have been made in your marriage? Were they the product of both of your thoughts on that particular subject?
2. How do you think these past few podcasts have changed your view of your spouse’s thoughts?
3. When you believe you are right about an issue you and your spouse are facing, are you open to differing thoughts without the inclination to discard one of them as incorrect?
4. Are you open to the idea that the two of you can differ greatly in your thinking on a particular matter and both of you can in fact be right?
Actions to Take:
1. As you read scripture, try to decide if what you are reading is compartmental like we see in Genesis 1:1 or if it is relational as we see in John 3:16. Get into the practice of sharing your thoughts from God’s word. There is much to be gleaned from seeing scriptures from your spouse’s way of thinking.
2. Talk together about the idea of each of you having different ways of looking at things and the value that can bring to your corporate decision making process.
3. Discuss some practical things the two of you can do to make sure that both of your lines of thought have been considered when making decisions of importance.
4. Decide what the two of you consider a decision of importance to be. Put some measurable parameters in place to help you know what decisions should not be made in your marriage without having time to discuss both ways of thinking before the decision is completed.
So now, understanding that God created you to think differently so that together you might better reflect His thinking and more readily arrive at wise decisions that will bless the two of you, consult one another regularly and Go be Awesome!

Differences That Divide – Part One (reposted from 9/27/2021)

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday marriage message…Differences That Divide – Part One

For the next several weeks the focus of this podcast is going to be a singular topic but because of its complexity and depth we will break it into three separate editions. So please stick with me until the end so that you can take in all that I have to share with you on the subject.

You may recall that in a previous podcast entitled It Takes Two I spoke of the physical differences between men and women and the fact that we really don’t have too much trouble celebrating those differences. I told you that I would be illuminating some other differences that are a little harder to celebrate and seem to cause couples a bit more trouble. Today we begin looking at the uncelebrated differences.

Spoiler alert: you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on everything, but then you didn’t need me to tell you that. Why don’t you see everything the same way? There are so many elements to the answer of that question I would not be able to do so conclusively. Suffice it to say (and it is crucial to understand) the reasons you see things differently are as numerous as the stars, which on further review may be a slight overstatement.

Following is a list of a few of the contributing factors. I offer it only to help you both see the number of variables that go into each of your interpretations of anything that stimulates a reaction:

  • Family of origin
  • Past experiences
  • Consideration of intent
  • Present emotional state
  • Stress levels
  • Interpretation of body language
  • Expectations
  • Body and brain chemistry
  • Language use
  • He thinks compartmentally, she thinks relationally

You and your spouse are not supposed to see things eye to eye, be on the same page, have a meeting of the minds, or anything else pop-culture likes to call it. The first 9 examples from the list above are only a partial list, but give sufficient reason for a husband and wife, no matter how close they may be, to have difficulty viewing something exactly the same. The tenth reason listed is especially profound. It makes note of the fact that the two of you are not even wired to have the same process of thinking. You are in fact pre-programmed to think completely differently…about everything!

What is compartmental thinking? What is relational thinking? There have been many books written on the subject such as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus authored by John Gray, Ph.D. and Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel, just to name two. There are others as well, and they all speak to the fact that these two different, and in many ways, opposite, lines of thought exist and one is found in men while the other is exhibited by women.

I believe, as these books do, that men are compartmentalized in their thinking and women are relational in their thinking. These are two distinct thought process patterns that will arrive at two entirely different conclusions given the same set of stimuli. As I hope is obvious by now, we as Christ followers, believe God to be the immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, infallible Creator. As such, He didn’t make any mistakes; we were created to think differently than our spouses on purpose, therefore, it is not something that needs to be corrected.  He was considering everything, and with supreme power He created all that was created with no need to change it…ever! He did it perfectly the first time! With that belief, I consider it to be divine determination made with intentionality that men and women would be created to have these differing processes of thought.

I have some analogies I like to use when explaining the ways the two thought processes operate. I liken compartmentalized thinking to a row of lockers in a school hallway. Every subject matter has its own locker. If a man is to think freely about any subject, he has to place his head in the appropriate locker. If he is required to think about another topic, he must remove himself from that locker and go find the necessary locker and place his head in it. As he does this, he is equally able to focus on the new subject. However, he can no longer think about the subject he was, just moments ago, engrossed in.

This process of thought has some strengths and it has some weaknesses. In the strength department are things like the ability for intense focus on a task. Compartmentalized thinking lends itself to that beautifully because it is not capable of thinking of peripheral things that would distract from the original goal at hand. A weakness of compartmentalization is difficulty in thinking all the way through an unknown process before it is begun. This can lead to some problems but has, at the same time, honed his ability to utilize trial and error processes without undue frustration. A failure to be able to continue is often seen not as a failure but as a new understanding leading to a successful solution. C.S. Lewis said “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

The format of this podcast, specifically my desire to keep each edition less than 10 minutes places real limitations on how I must approach big ideas. Recognizing this to be one of those concepts too complex to reduce to a single podcast I will resume next week with a discussion of relational thinking and how it operates. I will then utilize a third entry to illustrate some of God’s purposes behind the created differences in how we think. As I stated before, God did this perfectly, it does not need to be corrected, as couples we simply need to learn to walk in it successfully. Psalm 19:7-10 read; The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgements of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

God’s decisions about how we should be created are not only right, they are to be sought after and desired as gold is desirable to the eyes and honey to the tongue. This difference between men and women, in fact, all of the differences between men and women, are by His perfect design. We do not need to understand why He does what He does, we need only understand that if it comes from a good God, it is good and we should be completely and totally accepting of it to the point of desiring for ourselves.

Questions to Answer:

  • Do you recognize this compartmentalized thinking? (in the Husband)
  • What are some examples you can each come up with of his compartmental thinking?
  • Husbands – What things do you think are personal strengths and perhaps weaknesses of your own compartmentalized thinking.
  • Wives – What things do you see that your husband does that are personal strengths and weaknesses of his specific compartmentalized thinking? (Be kind ladies, next week we will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your relational thinking!)

Actions to Take:

  • Thank God that He saw fit to give the husband compartmentalized his thinking. Ask Him to help each of you see it as a gift and not as something requiring change.

So now, accepting that you were designed to think differently than one another, and recognizing this must be a good thing if it came from God…and it did…Go be awesome!

Don’t Go It Alone – Reposted from December 20, 2021

Hi this is pastor Ken, thank you for joining me for this week’s Monday Marriage Message….Don’t Go It Alone

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

As a pastor, I have officiated at many weddings. In many of those ceremonies and countless others around the world, this scripture has been quoted. What does it mean? As with so many scriptures the fullness of its meaning will never be known this side of heaven, and though we may not ever gain a total understanding, neither should we stop at the literal interpretations of the English words on the page. So what truths are here that can at least be gleaned from the lower branches?

First – Two are better than one. If it wasn’t evident from other scriptures we have looked at in the previous podcasts, it should be abundantly clear here…we are created for relationship. We were not made to ‘go it alone.’ We certainly can walk through life alone. It is fully possible, just not fully profitable. Some of us, and I include myself in this category, like being alone from time to time, but that does not mean we are created for that purpose. Months ago I began this podcast illustrating for you that God created men and women, as equals yet different, for the purpose of being joined together, to complete the creation of an entity that is reflective of His image and likeness. Genesis 2:18 says: and the Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” I will dissect this scripture in much greater detail in next week’s episode, but the scripture clearly says that God said it is not good that mankind should be alone. We were created for relationship – relationship with other human beings and relationship with God. Genesis chapter three begins by telling us that in the cool of the day God came and walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Literally thousands of scriptures indicate His desire for continued relationship with his creation, mankind. In fact, the entirety of the New Testament points to the truth…that particular desire of His has not diminished.

Second – They have a good reward for their labor – It has long been noted that two are more efficient than one. A team of two can move more than twice what one can move alone. Two people determined to accomplish a goal are exponentially more likely to succeed, not only because of greater physical strength, but also greater determination. When one who is alone becomes discouraged, he or she is finished, when two take on a task they are able to encourage one another when necessary, and keep the goal in mind until it is reached. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. While this phrase can be looked at in a physical light, it also has great emotional implications. When one is alone, even if it is by choice, he or she is at much greater risk of discouragement, despondency, and dismay. All of these lead to a loss of momentum toward a goal, which often results in further downcast emotions. This cycle is only able to be broken easily if one has a companion to help. Added to this, is the truth that if we have no one to help we are likely to experience the negative side effects of feelings of uselessness and drudgery.

Third – Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? The obvious interpretation here is that where two are together they are physically warmer than one who sleeps alone. No doubt this is true. In his commentary, Matthew Henry takes it a step further and points out that: “If two lie together, they have heat. So virtuous and gracious affections are excited by good society, and Christians warm one another by provoking one another to love and to good works.” It is certainly true that a Christ-following husband or wife motivates their spouse to act in godly ways. One who loves Christ also chooses to meet the needs of their spouse in response to their own relationship with God. Additionally, He motivates us to perform acts of service for our spouse out of the abundance of love He has for us.

Fourth – Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. While the analogy here is also of a physical nature, there is a deeper spiritual truth present. There can be no question that all kinds of temptations come against marriages every day. As individuals we are much more susceptible than when joined with another. You rarely see a nature show featuring predators where the aggressor runs into the middle of a herd to take the stronger, healthier prey. Instead the predator circles the herd looking for the weak, the injured, the young or the one alone, and then after carefully choosing the easiest target, begins the advance against it. Our enemy is no different. The bible tells us he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. If we will not try to ‘go it alone’ when it comes to temptations, but rather share our battle with a spouse or a trusted friend, they can stand with us in the fight. Inviting accountability, though humbling, is incredibly powerful at frustrating the enemy’s plans. James 5:16 (The Message) Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

Fifth – And a three-fold cord is not quickly broken. Here again God makes his desire to be a part of our marriages evident. That is ultimately why we use these verses in so many wedding ceremonies. How do we know God means that He desires to be a part of our marriages? How do we know He is not simply indicating that three friends are even better than the two He has been speaking of to this point? God has just given four reasons two are better than one, but after making this statement of three being very strong He moves on to another subject altogether. Matthew Henry makes the point that Where two dwell in love, God, who is love, dwells with them. Henry makes no distinction between a Christian and a non- Christian couple. I believe he does not do so because God joins a man and a woman with a portion of His Spirit, as we have discovered, (Malachi 2:15) regardless of their allegiance to Him. As a result, marriage, made of a man, a woman, and a portion of the Holy Spirit, is a superior bond found in no other human relationship. Therefore, marriage has the potential to offer the greatest resistance against Satan, more so than any other relationship. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. For those who are married and are willing to be vulnerable with one another about their personal struggles, the way of escape is built right into their marriage…it’s their spouse!

Questions to Answer:

1. In what ways do you see God as an integral part of your marriage?
2. What ways do you think He would like to see His role increased in your marriage?

Actions to Take:

1. Discuss the steps the two of you could put into place to help you make sure God has a larger role in your marriage.
2. Talk about the times you have invited Him to be a larger part of your marriage and the results you experienced.
3. Talk about some times you think you could have done a better job of being more hospitable to God in your marriage. Discuss the results of holding God at arm’s length from your marriage.

So now, recognizing that you were designed for oneness with your spouse, use your marriage as an opportunity to give and experience encouragement and help second to none and…Go Be Awesome!

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