Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category


  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us look at the stars-Oscar WildeRefining Fire of Marriage
  • They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake…Alexander Pope
  • Because marriage, more than any other relationship, reflects God’s involvement with us and bears more potential to draw our hearts to heaven, it can more readily give us a taste of hell (Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III)

We all associate the image of fire with hell. And many marriages in American have gone through this fire of Hell. Whether the marriage ends or the couple stays together, marriage is seen by some as hell on earth.

The Apostle Peter was well acquainted with fire.

Peter knew refining fireHe denied Jesus while warming his hands over fire. Jesus questioned his love while fish were roasting over fire. In both cases he associated fire with a test. One he failed another he passed. I think that is why he wrote these verses in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT):

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Fire is certainly viewed as destructive and dangerous. Fires destroy forests, but fires also lead to renewal. Fire burns away the dross surrounding certain metals and reveals the pure gold or silver. The fires of life can destroy our marriage, or, if survived, purify our marriage. The fires of our marriage can draw our hearts to heaven or leave us with the taste of hell.

In the Movie Fireproof

FireProof - the Love DareCaptain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is a firefighter in Albany, Georgia. His seven-year marriage to Catherine is falling apart. Neither one understands the pressures the other faces, and after a heated argument in which Caleb screams in Catherine’s face, she declares she wants out of the marriage, and takes off her wedding ring.

While Caleb claims to his friends and co-workers that Catherine is over-sensitive and disrespectful, Catherine simultaneously claims to her peers that Caleb is insensitive to her needs and doesn’t listen to her. Further catalyzing Catherine’s motivation for divorce is Caleb’s addiction to Internet pornography and a large sum of money ($24,000, to be exact) he has saved up for a fishing boat he intends to buy, ignoring the fact that Catherine’s disabled mother is in need of hospital equipment that she cannot afford, and which insurance refuses to cover. Caleb tells his father John about the impending divorce, and John challenges Caleb to commit to a 40-day test called, “The Love Dare.” Caleb reluctantly agrees to do the test, but more for the sake of his father than his marriage. Catherine initially sees through Caleb’s half-hearted attempts to win back her heart, which deepens Caleb’s frustration. But with his father’s encouragement, Caleb continues with The Love Dare, and eventually makes a life-changing commitment to God, unbeknownst to Catherine.

The movie has some various twists but the end result is Caleb and Catherine realize they need each other, and at the end they renew their vows in an outdoor ceremony, this time as a covenant with God. Their marriage becomes FIREPROOF.

Marriage is a Covenant

Marriage a Covenant to GodDid you see your marriage vows as a marriage Covenant? Did both you and your spouse get married knowing you were making a covenant before God! You did, whether you realized it or not.

Definition: a binding and solemn agreement to do or keep from doing a specified thing; compact

We know of Covenants from the Bible. God put a rainbow in the sky as a covenant that He would never destroy the world by rain. He made a Covenant with Abraham, He made a Covenant with David, He made a Covenant with all who by faith believe in Jesus Christ. That Covenant was sealed by the blood and body of Jesus.

When we get married, we enter into a covenant before God. In a Covenant, you make a binding agreement to stay with this woman or man until they die. In that Covenant we also promise to do so and so.

Most people believe “Well, my husband broke his promise to love me, or take care of me or so and so, so it’s OK for me to break my promise to him.” Or, well my wife is no longer the person I married, so my vow does not apply.

We Draw a Line in our Marriage

We Draw a Line in our Marriage“I’ll keep my end of the covenant as long as you don’t cross over this line.” I’ll keep my word as long as you don’t … … … But as soon as you do, that’s it, I’m out of here!

That would be OK if marriage was merely a contract between two humans. But it isn’t. Marriage is a Covenant before God. Whether you believe in God or not, marriage was designed by God and no marriage is undertaken without His knowledge. God is in every marriage, whether you are a Christian or not. In fact, God often uses marriage to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Your marriage vows are made to God as well as your spouse. Regardless of what specific sins you commit, you are still married before God. You have entered into a Covenant with Him, and He wants you to keep to your WORD. It is binding, there are no exception causes, right person or wrong person, you are held to your word by God. And God will use this spouse that you married to work His will in your life.

So this morning, I want you to consider not taking the Love Dare, but the God Dare.

I dare you to bring God into your marriage, and to hold Him accountable for your love for your husband or your wife. I challenge you to trust God to use whatever sin besets your marriage, your relationship, your love to work His will in your life and make you like Jesus Christ. Regardless of where you are in your marriage, each day you get up and dare God to show you how he is using your spouse to make you like Jesus.

The God Dare is to Learn to Love and Forgive your spouse the way God does, and to realize that He will use your spouse to make you like His Son!

No partner left behind – unless you are my spouse

Dont Leave Your Spouse BehindCaptain Holt was a firefighter. He lived by the fireman’s creed “Never leave your partner behind

The Army Ranger Creed “Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

No man left behind, No partner left behind. These are your buddies who serve by your side, who watch your back. If they should suffer harm, you don’t run to save yourself, even t the risk of your own life you rescue them.

We make a vow, a covenant to marry this man or this woman, but as soon as they cross over the line, or fail to live up to what I expect a marriage should be, we cut the line and run?

  • We are expected to save our bunk-mate but not our bed-mate?
  • We are expected to do our job rather than keep our Vow to Almighty God!

We all stumble in many ways

James 3:2 (NIV) We all stumble in many ways.

We All Stumble in Many Ways

Joe works hard for his family. His job requires long hours, with a long commute to boot. He leaves early gets home late. Joe complains that his wife Cheryl is always on the computer, chatting with friends. He gets home and she is on the computer. She seems to chat more with her friends than with him. Cheryl complains about how he is never home, and when he does he just flops down in front of the TV. She complains about his big expenditures and how he has run up the credit cards. He never has time for the kids.

marriage lose respectThe reality is that Joe and Cheryl have become adversaries. They still loved each other, but in reality they resented their spouses and resented their marriage. They are like Caleb and Catherine Holt, resenting each other and looking for a way out.

If we are honest, we have all experienced times when we resented our spouse. We may have even asked that question – did I marry the right one? Did I miss God’s perfect will? Or we meet someone else who seems to be our “soul-mate” and thank we are missing out on life. Marriage is the proverbial “ball and chain” and we are living as a condemned man or woman. Such questions can lead to contempt for our spouse, contempt for our life, contempt for our marriage.

If marriage is to accomplish what God intends, and that is to make us Holy, to empower us to be Victorious in Christ, then there are some fundamental decisions we must adhere to, and they center upon what God delights in! We must take the God Dare with our marriage. We must trust Him with our spouse.

We must commit to seeing our marriage as God sees it – the way to bring holiness to two stumbling sinners.

I have talked with so many men, so many wives who were totally frustrated with the behavior of their spouse. They won’t stop doing this, they won’t stop doing that. They treat me so and so. I always ask, have you told your wife or your husband how you feel. They will usually say, they don’t want to listen to me, or they will say yes, but it doesn’t do any good. They might change, but pretty soon they are right back doing so and so again.

I simply tell them to bring God into the situation. Simply tell your husband or wife that you are not expecting them to change, in fact you don’t care if they change or not. You have given them to God and are trusting Him to work in their life to make such and such like Jesus. That may scare them, or make them laugh, but that is not enough, you need to tell your spouse that you are asking God to use them to make you like Jesus.

So honey, if you mistreat me, God will use that to make us both like Him. He will teach me to forgive and to love those that persecute or hurt me, and God will open your heart to see how your actions or words are hurting Him. God will use our marriage to produce the character of Christ in our lives. He will use our marriage to prepare us both to live with Him in heaven.

Marriage makes Stumbling Sinners into Holy Saints

How does God use Marriage to Refine stumbling sinners and Make us Like Christ?

There are certain qualities that are ever present when we are dating. These qualities are often what single out that guy or gal from the rest of the herd.

Yet these very same qualities are the ones that seem to be tested the most in our marriage, and yet will bring that sweetness of the fruit of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Those Qualities are Respect, Selflessness, and Acceptance. When you are dating, thinking they are the one, you notice how they respect you, think you are something. They listen to you, your thoughts and opinions are important. There is selflessness about them. They sacrifice what they want to do what you want. They seem to put you first. They accept you the way you are. They love that thing that you are so embarrassed about. They seem so close and loving; they accept me and love me just as I really am.

Something about marriage will test these qualities. Yet these qualities are what we need to be like Christ.

Marriage and Respect

Marriage and RespectRespect for others, respect for Life is foundational component of society. Without respect for life murder is commonplace, without respect for authority society breaks down into anarchy. Without respect for others it becomes every man for himself.

Jesus was the picture of respect. From the lame, blind, poor, tax collectors, prostitutes, people of all walks of life were treated with respect by Jesus. His respect for His Father was greater than anything, and that led Him to throw the money changers out of the Temple. That led Him to call Hypocrites those who burdened people with so many restrictions that they could not come to God.

We find it easier to respect an image, an ideal rather than actual real, flawed people.

We fall in love with this striking woman or gorgeous hunk of a man. We have this ideal in our mind – they will love me, they will treasure me, they will protect me, they will provide for me. But the closer we get the more flaws we notice. Instead of an airbrushed beauty we discover wrinkles, moles, flaws. Instead of that dashing white knight we find a guy who scratches and belches and had bad breath at times.

Our ideal mate is in reality made of flesh and blood. We discover they can be selfish, tired, non-communicative, boring. And as the ideal gives way to the reality, often times our respect and admiration turns to resentment, and even contempt.

When our respect slips into contempt, it’s because I am weak, not because my wife is failing. If I was really mature, I would have the same compassion for her weaknesses as Christ does. Respect is a spiritual discipline, an obligation I owe my wife.

  • Contempt is conceived with expectations
  • Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude.
  • You chose what you obsess over – expectations or thanksgivings.

PERSONAL TESTIMONY

In the mid-eighties Lydia and I went through a rather difficult time in our marriage. We had six children ranging from 2 to 10, selfishly I had bought a big house that we really couldn’t afford, money was extremely tight, the economy sucked so business was bad, my dad was under a great deal of stress. My wife was under a great deal of stress. I was under a lot of stress.

Instead of focusing on God and what he wanted me to do, I focused on unfulfilled expectations. My dad wasn’t paying me enough, Lydia wasn’t paying me enough attention, she wasn’t taking care of the household duties, and she was worn out, living in ratty sweats. I began to resent my life ad even resent my family and my wife.

overboard4Then I remember watching the movie “Overboard” with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. He was a single dad with four hellishly awful boys and he finds Goldie Hawn washed ashore with amnesia. He convinces her she is Annie, his wife and he brings her home. At first it is too much for her, but she gets the house under control, the kids under control, Kurt Russell under control. Wow, she becomes super Mom and Super Wife. I wondered why Lydia couldn’t do that. Stupid expectations, stupid unrealistic expectations.

Just when my marriage was about to fall apart because I did not respect and value my wife and all she was doing for me, God brought me to the place where my wife and my children were all I had. I saw my wife in an entirely new light-her love and respect for me, even though I had failed and disrespected her. She stuck by me when my brothers kicked me out of a company I had regarded as my own, as my life, as my reason for living. God showed me that without my wife and my children, I was nothing. She stuck by me the next few years as we struggled financially, and then started a paving business. She put food on the table for six growing children when we barely had enough to feed ourselves.

I’m not saying my wife is a perfect saint, but her decision to stay with me even though I was a stumbling and resentful sinner who did not show her the respect that God desired, brought about a change and work in my life that resulted in God showing His ability to transform stumbling sinners into strong saints.

  • Husbands – You Are Married To A Fallen Woman in A Broken World.
  • Wives – You Are Married To A Sinful Man in A Sinful World.

Get An Eye Check Up

Get an Eye CheckupJesus lays out an amazingly simple solution – check your eyesight for splinters and specks before you start complaining about the planks in your wife’s eye.

If you say “But my wife is the one who has the plank”, you are exactly the one Jesus is talking to. Jesus wants us to have humble spirits, humble hearts. We must cast off contempt and resentment and learn the spiritual discipline of respect.

Look at the people Jesus loved and offered respect-publicans, tax collectors, adulterous women, prostitutes, financial cheats, traitors, betrayers.

He washed their feet, he spent time with them, and he ate with them. Where was His contempt? There was none. He gave them His respect, He gave them His hand. We need to extend our hand of respect to our wives, our husbands, regardless of their sins.

Marriage and Selflessness

Once we have obtained that goal of marriage, most men will move on to what they are all about – Ambition and Accomplishment. Wives nowadays are about the same thing, perhaps on a smaller scale.

Marriages become preoccupied with accomplishments. We brag about our job, our money, our car, our home, our friends, our deer, our golf game. These accomplishments become a substitute for the selflessness and humility that are the foundation of intimate relationship.

The man is off making his way in the world, trying to provide for his family, while the wife is either working as well and at the same time becoming a taxi-driver and errand girl for her children. Instead of the intimacy that marriage is designed for, it becomes a series of accomplishments and errands.

Marriage and SelflessnessBill McCartney became famous overnight in Christian circles in the early nineties. A successful college football coach, he started Promise Keepers, which swept the nation. Yet his wife was lonely and hurting, which led to severe depression, during which she lost 80 pounds. Her busy husband didn’t even notice. She said she felt like she was getting smaller and smaller and smaller. Bill admitted his hard-driving approach to the ministry was distracting him from being a promise keeper to his wife and family.

Once he realized what was happening, he took the drastic step of retiring from coaching and stepped away from Promise Keepers to devote his life to his marriage. The McCartney’s are together and thriving in their marriage relationship today because of his decision.

Too often spouses struggle because one is making the other look smaller, while promoting them self. In marriage, being Godly is being selfless. I am no longer free to pursue whatever I want. I am no longer single; I am part of a team.

Marriage is about reining in your ambitions to what God wants. And God wants your marriage to be alive and thrive. But we must experience the cross daily. Jesus Christ set aside His ambitions and powers to become a selfless servant. He went all the way to the Cross, dying for you and me. God says we must be willing to die for the benefit of our marriage, our spouse. Paul said he died daily. Husbands, wives need to discover that selflessness that attracted them in the first place. That selflessness is a daily bowing before the Cross and dying to what each other wants and living to what God wants.

If I was the type of husband who expected my wife to cook for me, have sex with me whenever I wanted, keep a perfect and quiet home for my enjoyment. I would be the type of Pastor who would “browbeat you to fall in line regardless of your particular gifts and talents.”

Likewise if a wife abandons her family to ambitiously serve God, she will likely display the same lack of compassion and empathy for others as she does for her own family.

Our ministry and service to and for God is based on selflessness, and that is an integral part of marriage. God wants us to have the mind and heart attitude of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Marriage is about selflessness, about putting the needs of your spouse first. Those ambitions and accomplishments mean nothing if you lose your wife or your husband.

PRAYERS – If you fail to practice selflessness in your marriage, it can hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:7 (Phillips NT) “similarly, you husbands should try to understand the wives you live with, honoring them as physically weaker yet equally heirs with you of the grace of eternal life. If you don’t do this, you will find it impossible to pray properly. (Hindered)

Word is ekkoptō, to cut off. Without this quality men, you will keep getting dropped calls when you are praying. Your prayer life is inextricably tied in with your relationship with your wife. Why should God care about your prayer rquests when you don’t consider your wife’s needs?

Marriage and ACCEPTANCE

Marriage and AcceptanceWhen most of you that are dating, I imagine you had your spats. There may have been that fight followed by a long phone call and hopefully then that makeup kiss. The acceptance was there, the reconciliation was quick, complete, without damage to the intimacy of your relationship. In fact, often the misunderstanding brought a renewed and deeper intimacy.

Marriage is acceptance to the extreme. We are constantly confronted with things that we don’t like about our spouse. We either accept them and move on, or we argue, get hurt, stop talking, and stop having relations.

Marriage forces us into the intense act of reconciliation and acceptance. It’s easy to get along with people if you never get close to them.

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

If there is no acceptance in the marriage, things get really icy!

Marriage dissatisfaction reveals unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance. Sin, wrong attitudes, personal failures that are not dealt with slowly erodes the relationship.

We all enter marriage with sinful attitudes. When these attitudes surface, the temptation will be to hide them so they are not so well known, or flaunt them out of ignorance or pride.

Dating is like a dance where you try to put your best feet forward, look your best, act your best. But spouses need to admit their sin and not run or hide from it, but use the revelation of your sin as a means to grow in the foundational Christian virtue of humility, leading to confession and renouncement and acceptance.

Then grow further by adopting the positive quality that corresponds to the sin you are renouncing.

  • If you’ve used women in the past, practice serving your wife.
  • If you’ve been quick to ridicule your husband, practice giving him encouragement and praise.

View marriage as an entryway into sanctification-as a relationship that will reveal your sinful behaviors and attitudes and give you an opportunity to address them before the Lord.

Here is what happens in a selfish marriage. Our partner does something she or he know ticks us off. It could be anything, but let’s give an example like, he goes out with the guys or hunting or something when you had something else planned.

Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin… and do not give the devil a foothold.

When we get angry or upset or feel neglected, we usually have a fall-back sin that we excuse and resort to. Kind of like, “we’ll I’ll get you back”. Anger and or feelings of contempt give room for the devil to maneuver in our lives. That old temptation rises, but this time we are powerless to resist. Or we resort to a learned bad behavior.

When the marriage is actually designed by God to be a mirror so we can we can our sin and weaknesses, confess and clean up, sometimes we throw the mirror down and break it.

We are accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6) Husbands and wives must realize that each has ugly sins that will surface from time to time. But they must be committed to accepting the ugliness and working through it to producing that peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Marriage is a Spiritual Discipline. And disciple is painful:

Marriage is Spiritual DisciplineHebrews 12:11 (ESV) for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Marriage is Seasoning for heaven

Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.”

Stress-free, comfortable marriages are an indirect desire to remain an “unseasoned”, immature Christian.

God has ordained that our refining process takes place as we go through difficulties, not around them.

We must go through the Red Sea, into the fiery furnace, through the River Jordan, to the Cross. God gives victory through our problems. Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)

Like climbing a difficult mountain, we need to step back and say “this is tough, how do I keep loving this person in the face of this challenge?”

Would I rather live a life of ease and comfort and remain immature in Christ, or am I willing to be seasoned with suffering if by doing so I am conformed to the image of Christ?

If it was so easy to love someone till death do you part, why would we need to promise to love each other “till death do us part?” It is precisely because our society knows such a promise will be sorely tried and tested.

WE DON’T PROMISE TO EAT OR TO BUY CLOTHES.

Every marriage comes to a time when the “RUB” goes the wrong way. It is for those times such promises are made.

The Seasoning “Rub” of Marriage is for Eternal Glory

Gods Seasoning Rub of MarriagePaul wrote in 2 Cor 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Any Sports Team-football, baseball, soccer, can go undefeated if they play weak teams. We love teams that have given it their all and have championed against the powerhouse team. We love an underdog that has vanquished a mightier foe. There is something about a struggle that brings out the best in our teams. We know when they’ve given it their all.

Young couples need to hear that: “A good marriage, a lasting marriage, an overcoming marriage is not something you find; it is something you work for! There will be struggles, there will be trials and tribulations, sometimes from without and sometimes within. You must learn to crucify your selfishness. There must be times of confrontation, and there must be times of confession. Eventually through the refining fire of this relationship will emerge a relationship of beauty, trust and mutual support.”

Working through problems is taxing. It is much easier to go shopping or dancing with the gals or go out with the guys or a sports game than to deal with intimacy issues or rejection issues or a relationship that is cold and going nowhere. It’s easier to look elsewhere for emotional satisfaction.

When you see marriage in the light of God’s design, then you realize there are spiritual benefits to working on this relationship, and therefore there are eternal benefits.

Otto Piper: “If marriage…is a disillusioning experience for many people, the reason is to be found in their passivity of their faith. People dislike that the blessings of God may only be found and enjoyed when they are persistently sought (matt 7:7; Luke 11:9) Marriage therefore is both a gift and a task to be accomplished.”

Don’t run from the struggles of marriage. Embrace them. Grow in them. Draw nearer to God because of them. Through the struggles of marriage you will reflect more of the spirit of Jesus. And thank God He has placed you in a marriage where your spirit can be perfected.

JohnWesleyJohn Wesley married a widow at the age of 48:

A greater source of trouble was his marriage to Mrs. Vazeille, February, 1751. Having come to the conclusion that “in my present circumstances I might be more useful in a married state,” he speedily consummated his design. Unfortunately, he could scarcely have hit upon a more unsuitable woman. Of a bitter and angry spirit — indeed, almost if not quite insane — she became the torment of his life. A number of times she left him, and again returned. She defamed him in private, and seized his letters and put them in the hands of those she knew were his enemies, interpolating so as to make them bear a bad construction. In one or two instances she published them. At times she was outrageously violent toward him, and there was always little else in their intercourse than constant connubial storms.

Wesley was almost worn away. February, 1756, he writes: “Your last letter was seasonable indeed. The being continually watched over for evil ; the having every word I spoke, every action I did —small and great — watched with no friendly eye; the hearing a thousand little tart, unkind reflections in return for the kindest words I could devise, ‘Like drops of eating water on the marble, At length have worn my sinking spirits down.’

Yet I could not say ‘ Take thy plague away from me,’ but only ‘ let me be purified, not consumed.’ “Wesley patiently endeavored to win her to a better mind, but all was in vain. His domestic wretchedness was protracted through thirty years, until she died October 8, 1781.

His love letters to her make tender reading. “My dear love, I know not how to stay a day at any place without writing a few lines,” he wrote to Molly on April 2, 1751. “I wonder at myself. How is it that absence does not lessen but increase my affection? I feel you every day nearer to my heart. O that God may continue his unspeakable gift! That we may both daily increase in faith, in zeal, in meekness, and in tender love to each other!”

But after only three months into their marriage, Wesley seems to have been troubled by the increasingly jealous disposition of his wife. “My wife, upon all supposition that I did not love her, and that I trusted others more than her, had often fretted herself almost to death,” he wrote. Wesley talked with her about it and “by the blessing of God the cloud vanished away, and we were united as at the beginning.”

Sometimes Mrs. Wesley drove a hundred miles to see who was with her husband in his carriage. John Hampson, one of Wesley’s preachers, witnessed her in one of her fits of fury, and said, “More than once she laid violent hands upon him, and tore those venerable locks which had suffered sufficiently from the ravages of time.” She often left him, but returned again in answer to his entreaties. In 1771 he writes: “For what cause I know not, my wife set out for Newcastle, purposing ‘never to return.’ Non eam reliqui ; non dimisi; non revocabo.” (I did not forsake her; I did not dismiss her; I shall not recall her.)

Charles and Anne Lindberg

linddeadCharles and Anne Lindberg had their 18 month old baby kidnapped. A ransom was paid, but the boy never returned. The boy was found 10 weeks later, dead, in the woods near their home. His body had been ravaged by wild animals. Reporters snuck into the morgue and took pictures of the badly decomposing body and put them on the front page.

She started writing, something that her husband’s fame had prevented. She wrote: “One can perhaps say that sorrow also played its part in setting me free” She expounds, “What I’m saying is not the old Puritan truism that ‘suffering teaches.’ I do not believe that all suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable”

A difficult marriage, in and of itself, may not cause us to grow, to become holy. We must respond with understanding, love, patience, and a pursuit of virtue within that difficult marriage.

There is no room for victims in a difficult marriage. To become holy we must commit to virtue in the midst of difficulties. We can’t control how our spouse will act or how the world will act, but we can control how we will act and how we will respond. Seeking after holiness, virtue in the midst of hardship, abuse, neglect puts you in the driver seat. There are no victims in God’s marriage design.

Virtue means strength of character. It is power to do right, make the right choice, power to overcome the weakness of sin, bad choices

Anne Lindbergh wrote that “Undoubtedly the long road of suffering, insight, healing, or rebirth is illustrated in the Christian religion by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

There is not a marriage represented in this sanctuary that has not experienced sorrow, not experienced trials. There isn’t a shared bedroom in Cass County where tension doesn’t occasionally or even frequently lift its snarling head.

Seasoning Brings Life

Anne Lindbergh wrote Second Sowing:

grain comes to life in second sowingFor whom the milk ungiven in the breast
When the child is gone?
For whom the love locked up in the heart
That is left alone?
That golden yield
Split sod once, overflowed an August field,
Threshed out in pain upon September’s floor,
Now hoarded high in barns, a sterile store.
Break down the bolted door;
Rip open, spread and pour
The grain upon the barren ground
Wherever crack in clod is found.
There is no harvest for the heart alone;
The seed of love must be
Eternally
Resown

As long as our pain and wisdom and lessons remain locked up in the heart or hoarded high in barns, they remain sterile and unfertile. Useless. To grow in the midst of difficulties, we must rip open the bags of grain and seeds and pour them out wherever we see fertile ground.

My Marriage is Worse than Most

olderadultsYou don’t understand what I’ve been going through!

Accept this: We often can’t choose which trials we faceSome of us have physical maladies. Unfortunately we do not get to chose whether we get cancer, kidney stones, arthritis, eyesight loss, brain aneurism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, diabetes. We all must face the truth that our body will degenerate as we get older. You don’t get to pick which part goes out of whack.

1223CharlesNita8We need to have the same attitude with our marriage. We each experience certain things with our spouses that are difficult to accept. One may struggle with alcohol, one with smoking, one with drugs, one with addiction to pain killers, one frail health, one anger, one physical abuse, one unhealthy sexual proclivities, one with Alzheimer or dementia, one with wandering eye, one with poor communication skills.

Sometimes we “put up” with the problem because of the benefits. We’ve all seen movies or TV stories about politician’s wives who put up with certain failings because of the “benefits” of her life.

But when there is not that benefit, when the struggle or hardship is so overwhelming that it obscures everything around it, such hardships become chains, a taskmaster, a tyrant, a brutal burden.

Where do you draw the line?

Look to God and forget the LineI will love my wife as long as she doesn’t do this, weighs this, stays this way. If she does this, gets this disease, looks like this, I’m out of here! What kind of Honorable person does that. Not one who shows respect, not one who is selfless, not one who is accepting. Not one who is willing to be seasoned by their Covenant before God!

There is no line in God’s Marriage Book. He has no lines with us. If Christ lives in your heart, there is total acceptance. There is no longer any sin that you could commit that would put you over the line into hell. You are His.

TotallyMarriedOur marriage is a picture of God’s Love and acceptance for us and His total satisfaction for what His Son Jesus Christ did. If we are like Christ, there is no line we can draw in the dirt. This man, this woman, God wants us to stay joined to the rest of our lives. We are both stumbling sinners, we have both been loved and accepted because of Christ. God is using our marriage to conform us to Jesus Christ. We must live by the God Dare, and trust God to use our spouse to season and perfect and discipline us, and to yield that peaceable fruit of righteousness.

  • TOTALLYMARRIED Christians Focus on the Eternal Benefits of the refining fires of marriage
  • TOTALLYMARRIED Couples Focus on Pleasing God

You are either seasoned to death or seasoned to life!


God had a reason for marriageWhy did you get married? Why do you want to get married? Answers are varied, but usually focus on love, completeness, happiness, maybe even hotness…, lust, some people even throw in God.

But did anyone say they got married to be please God? I don’t think so.

Marriage is a big deal throughout the world. There is something within normally wired men and women that draws us together. We are drawn into relationships, and those relationships usually end up in marriage.

Me-MarriageIn the 21st Century we have come to regard marriage as a “me” thing. It must make “me” happy. It must have romance, it must have spontenaity, it must meet “me” needs. Books are written on how to compromise so that both me’s in the marriage are kept happy. Gone are the books about subjection and submission and pleasing the husband. Gone are the books about ruling your home and discipline and leadership. They have all been replaced with books about tolerance, sensitivity, freedom, acceptance and sharing responsibilities.

starter marriageChildren are raised with the idea that life is all about them and what they want, and so they go into marriage expecting the same. Most have experienced their parents divorcing, so they have this pre-programed attitude that if their spouse fails to meet their needs, they leave and move on to someone else. We have even come to accept the reality of “starter marriages” and how they can be beneficial in opening our eyes to the hardships and struggles that marriages often have.

As most young people enamored with the romance and beauty of extravagant marriages and honeymoons soon discover, marriage quickly turns into the excitement of driving across Kansas and seeing an occasional overpass. Too often couples see marriage as an ideal that they want to have in their lives, but it soon descends into hurt and disappointment and even resentment and hatred.

Mature-MarriageSo most couples who survive the turmoils of learning to live with a person of the opposite sex and opposite thinking, trade the romantic “Me-Marriage” for realistic “Mature-Marriage”. Instead of leaving the marriage because of selfish expectations, they stay in the marriage and learn to settle for or tolerate each other. The marriage becomes “livable” and “convenient”.

Is the “Me-Marriage” or even the “Mature-Marriage” what God had in mind when he created Eve for Adam?

God from the very beginning told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”.

Marriage is about Life and EnergyMarriage was designed to be full of Life and to Subdue this World for God! Marriages are to Conquer, to Win, to be Victorious! God designed Marriage to generate energy and LIFE, not just energy to survive each other, but to subdue the world! God’s marriage generated energy to Overcome and have LIFE!

God is all about Life and Life that is Abundant, Fruitful and Fulfilling! God designed Marriage to accomplish His purpose!

God designed marriage so that the challenges and problems a couple faces should be transformational- should bring them closer to the power and purpose of God! Marriage is all about the Life that God wants us to Live!

Now if marriages are to accomplish what God wants, they can’t be about Me or even We.

Marriage Designed to make us HolyAnd if Marriages are about Victory and Conquering, they shouldn’t be boring or lifeless or settling and mature. They should be about Life! The life that God gives.

We need to see marriage and our relationships with our spouses in a different light. We need to see them as God designed.

  • God did not design marriage to make us happy, but to make us Holy.
  • God did not design marriage to benefit us, but to Empower us!

We all got married with dreams in our heads.

Sexy-Nightie-or-Ratty-Sweat-PantsI imagined Lydia would make a great pastor’s wife. I could see her faithfully by my side as I preached to admiring audiences. But somewhere along the line my dreams of saving the world turned into the nightmare of feeding six children, of Chuck E Cheese, of braces, and fighting about watching Terminator instead of Pretty Woman for the 30th time.  Seemingly overnight we went from sexy nighties to ratty sweats. What happened to those dreams? Is this what marriage is really all about?

So What does God Want Marriages to be?

What was His design – “Sexy Nighties” or “Ratty Sweats”? How can Marriage make us Holy and Empower us to be like God, and accommodate any attire, any stage of life? This is the purpose of this series of messages – to discover God’s design for marriage, and to discover how to become TotallyMarried.

There are two Non-Negotiable beliefs that we must embrace if we are to become TotallyMarried.

1. Marriage requires a 24/7 commitment.
2. Marriage requires a new and selfless life.

If we are to discover God’s purpose for marriage, we must commit our heart to God, without reservation. If we are to discover God’s purpose for marriage, we must surrender our will, our notions, our preconceptions to Him.

Marriage Designed to Please GodGod Designed Marriage to Please Him!

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (NIV) Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

1. “So Much Immorality”

God knew we had needs and so he designed marriage to deal with those needs. But those needs aren’t limited to sex, for marriage will also deal with anger, selfishness, pride, inadequacy, loneliness, anger. We never enter marriage perfect. We bring our character needs with us, and marriage is designedby God to deal with them.

2. God uses Marriage to Confront our Needs

No one who is afraid to face themselves as they really are should ever get married. Your spouse will quickly figure out your deficiencies, idiosyncrasies, strengths, weaknesses. Marriage reveals and often brings to the forefront our character needs and deficiencies.

3. You Decide if Marriage will Shape and Empower You.

Marriage is a Stress test for heartMarriage is all about relationships and is the most strenuous “relational exercise” you will ever have. Marriage is a stress-test for our heart. Failure to deal with character needs will result in fights, relational walls, alienation, bitterness and worse. Marriage becomes God’s principle means for preparing us for eternity, as He uses marriage to mold and conform us to His Son, Jesus Christ. You can accept God’s purpose and design, or you can kick and scream and throw a fit.

4. Marriage Reveals There Is No Substitute For God.

Anyone who thinks their mate will complete them or give them total fulfillment soon discovers that will not be the case. God is our source of fulfillment and peace. Marriage simply reveals our need for Him. Your spouse is designed to complement you, not complete you. We are only complete in Christ. Therefore, we must look to God anytime we feel our spouse is not meeting our needs, or neglecting us, or even abusing us.

Marriage-is-a-signpost5. Marriage: Signpost Pointing Us to God

Marriage is used to Explore and Know God. You can either be married in a vacuum and deal with life on your own, or you can accept that God has a purpose for your marriage and that is to use it and the problems and trials to explore and know Him. Marriage can be a daily reminder of God’s presence in your life. Everything about our marriage is designed to reveal Him in a more powerful and real way.

6. Marriage Pictures Reconciliation

marriage about reconciliation

There is no better word to describe God’s heart toward man than RECONCILIATION. The Entire Bible is God’s message of what He has done to reconcile man to Him. He offers this hope to His people, who have constantly rejected Him and killed His prophets and even killed His Son:

Isaiah 62:5 “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you”

So much of the Word illustrates marriage and its picture of RECONCILIATION.

  • God became united with flesh in Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus Christ is seeking His bride for the wedding to the lamb (Rev 19:7) where we will enjoy the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • Jesus reconciled God to Man so that we can know Him and have a relationship with Him.
  • Marriage is the place of reconciliation that displays the Father’s Love to the world.
  • Marriage pictures the ongoing relationship between Christ and His church.
  • Couples will face moments of reconciliation constantly through their marriage.

7. We Must Chose between having a Man-centered vs. God-centered View of Marriage

  • Man: We will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires and expectations are met. ( Marriage is all about my enjoyment.)
  • God: We preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator (Marriage is about God’s Glory)

Marriage Pleases God8. God Designed Marriage to Please Him

2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV) So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Paul says our goal in life should be to please God. Marriage is  more than happiness, sexual expression, bearing children, companionship, mutual care and provision. Marriage is designed be God to PLEASE HIM! We ask not “What will make me happy”? We ask “what will make God happy?”

2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV)And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Married couples are to use their marriages to LIVE FOR HIM!

9. Marriage Fulfills the Ministry of Reconciliation

Marriage Pictures Ministry of Reconciliation2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NIV) So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Marriages model Christs forgiveness, selfless love and sacrifice.  Marriages that fail send a message to the world that I have stopped loving someone and  have broken a promise I made many years earlier. Sad that Barna notes Born Again Christians have a divorce rate that is higher than non-believers (27% to 23%) How can children believe us when we tell them God’s promise to Love and forgive them is secure when they can’t see that we honor our word.

Divorce signals that at least one of the Spouses has failed to put the Gospel first in their lives.

10. Successful Marriages require a commitment to Christian Duty.

700 year old treePictured is a 700 year old tree in the Northern Cascade National Park. These trees grow so old in the Northern Cascades because the constant rain and wetness ofthe  forest minimizes fire from lightning strikes.

  1. The Western Slope of the Cascades are so wet that lightning strikes cause relatively few fires. Traditional forests face lightning initiated fires every 50 or 60 years.
  2. Christian marriages will still be stuck by lightning-sexual temptation, communication problems, frustrations, trials, hardships, unrealized expectations. If marriages are heavily watered with an unwavering commitment to please God, the conditions will not be ripe for a devastating fire to follow the lightning strike.

If I am married only for my happiness, and my happiness wanes for whatever reason, one little spark will burn the entire forest down. But if my aim is to proclaim and model God’s ministry of reconciliation, my endurance and marriage will be fireproof.

Totally Married in God's Design11. We must practice the Spiritual Discipline of Marriage.

I must put my own relationship with God first. Sticking it out is a victory in and of itself. A 700 year old tree commands our attention simply because it has endured so long. Christians can command attention simply by staying married. When asked why, we say “would you like to hear more about the good news of reconciliation?” Of course, if our hearts are committed to God and pleasing Him, He will use our marriage to energize us and bring His Life to us!

Marriages Are The Message Of Reconciliation This World Needs To Hear And See.


A man asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, “It’s just like a single second of your time, my child.” So the man asked, “And what about a million dollars?” The Lord replied, “To me, it’s just like a single penny.” So the man gathered himself up and said, “Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?” And God said, “Certainly, my child, just a second.”

Joshua How Long a SLackerWe Americans are known for being impatient. From the very first time your child says “How Long Before We Get there?” – To your husband asking “how long will your mother be staying” we are always occupied with time and how long something takes. By the way if your mother in law is Jewish, you can ask her: kama z’man tish’hu kan? כַּמָּה זְמַן תִּשְׁהוּ כָּאן? (How long will you be staying?)

Everything about America is hurry hurry hurry. We have more time saving gadgets, we even have the internet on our phones so we can be instantly in contact with each other. Still everyone always seems tobe in a hurry, and everyone complains of not having enough time.

However, there is a counter-culture at work in America. It’s called the Slacker Movement. FYI: Slacker: One who shirks work or responsibility.Slacker Movement

The thinking goes that slacking allows more of your creative energy to flow out. You take more time to enjoy life, have fun. You take the easy way out in anything you do. There was even a movie that presented this philosophy. The real you comes out, and you spontaneously express yourself in whatever you see and do and feel. You are more relaxed, you feel great so you make the world a better place to be.

When a slacker lies happily on his couch thinking about what will make him and the rest of the world successful and happy, the world is immediately a happier place. His happiness radiates out like ripples in a pond, creating a happier, successful world. Supposedly, there is actually “Good Slacking”:

Slacking has evolved into an approach towards society, projects, and perhaps even life for those fully absorbed into the slacker movement. Slacking is now about harnessing the simple approach to complex situations. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” the modern slacker presented with a complex situation will oftentimes examine what is already available,  assemble the provided basic components, and arrive at a solution – usually delivering a viable answer with increased efficiency, minimal fuss, less aggravation, and sometimes even decreased cost.

But Most Slacking is Just Laziness

Join Slacker MovementAnyone anxious to join the Slacker Movement? Lots of Cool Parties and Conventions where all you do is drink. Comes with a really cool T Shirt. You say no thanks? Are you Sure? What if we find out there is a bit of slacker in all of us? As we continue our journey with Joshua, we find that the book is getting boring. In fact, when you start reading in Chapter 15, you start skipping ahead, and you say “How Long” does this go on? What is happening is the division of Canaan to the Hebrew Families.Joshua Down to Business

Chapter 15 details the Tribe of Judah

Joshua 15:1 (KJV) This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.

Joshua 15:13-14 (KJV) And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Chapter 16 details Joseph’s Children, esp Ephraim

Joshua 16:1 (KJV) And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel,

Chapter 17 details the Tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 17:1 (KJV) There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

Chapter 18 details the remaining tribes

Joshua 18:1 (KJV) And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

There the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But “the tabernacle of the congregation was also set up there,” and its removal therefore must have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (De 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than three hundred years (1Sa 4:1-11).—JFB

Joshua 18_3 He is PerturbedAll of a Sudden We find Joshua sounding pretty PERTURBED!

Joshua 18:2-3 (KJV) And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

Why Did Joshua Talk to them this way?

Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Ephraiam, and Judah had made their requests. They had been given their land by choice or by lot. But the remaining seven tribes-Benjamin, Zebulin, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Simeon, and Dan–were being a little too slow.

The language of Joshua is quite harsh and implies that they are openly dishonoring God’s commands.

Joshua is clearly perturbed that they seem to have settled down near Shiloh and are making no overt attempt to continue the conflict and subdue their own land.

Sure there could be simple explanations for the delays, moving to Shiloh, caring for wounded, harvest, livestock, but Joshua being in tune with the Holy Spirit (as he represents the Believer filled with the Holy Spirit)

Joshua is a Picture of the Holy Spirit

Why Do I say Joshua is an example of a believer filled with the Spirit? Because at the beginning Joshua united himself with the Captain of the Hosts of God. He demonstrates that the battle for our inheritance is not by our strength or power, but by the power of God’s Spirit. Joshua is acting as the Holy Spirit does in our lives. He gets busy in the life of God’s Children, and He starts moving us along.

Now what probably happened is this:

Joshua got busy preparing to move and set up the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Everyone got busy, plus they had been on a frenetic pace for at seven years.

One day he heard about Caleb’s great victory over the three sons of Anak, and in the midst of rejoicing he looked out and everybody was just having a big ol cook out, relaxing and playing frisbee and volleyball. Then it hit him, these people are getting comfortable here. They are starting to IGNORE God.

But Joshua was too much alive to the duty laid on him by the Lord to let matters continue in that state; and accordingly, since a general conquest of the land had been made, he resolved to proceed immediately with the lot, believing that when each tribe should receive its inheritance, a new motive would arise to lead them to exert themselves in securing the full possession. God never wants us to get too content in this world. He always wants us focused on the battle, upon His Glory and Purpose.

The churches of America fell asleep in the 50’s and 60’s. Life was good. The WW was over, economic prosperity was going great, tithes were rolling in, big churches were being built, but the old devil was working overtime. All of a sudden, prayer and Bible reading were out, sex and drug education were in, and abortion was government funded. Our great Nation was set on a course that we are living in today. We got slack!

That is what Joshua was reacting too, a slackness in spirit in the people, a contentment with the status quo. But their inaction was in direct violation of God’s Goals and Instructions.

Why do we need to go to church? Why do we read our Bible? Because we are all slackers at heart! We usually don’t want to do anything that involves conflict, confrontation, obedience to the difficult commands of Christ.

But Jesus said: “Why do you call me Lord Lord, and do not the things that I say?

Being a Christian is a RELATIONSHIP and NOT a RELIGION!

It’s very much like a marriage relationship…

Relationship Not a ReligionI can tell my wife I love her. O honey I love you so much. You are the cutest little thing! Oh you just make me all tingly inside! But if I just lay around and don’t help with chires, just lay around and don’t go to work, or worse yet, just leave and don’t tell her where I’m going, stay out all night carousing… Does it make it ok if I come home at four in the morning and go: “Oh honey, I just missed you so much! I love you so much!”

NO. In fact, I would be lucky if my wife even tolerated that behavior for a week.

You can use the same analogy about your conduct at work, at school, with friends. Words and smiles and high fives only get you so far. Pretty soon you have to back up your words with actions!

That is our God! That is our Savior! He did not sacrifice His perfect Blood so you could say I love you so much, come into my heart, be my Savior, and then just go out and do whatever you want, whenever you want, with who ever you want! No, You have been redeemed, bought out of the slave market so that you can be HIS Treasured Possession, His workmanship!, before ordained for good works! (Eph 2:8-10)

How Lons od ScriptureIn Order to Understand the Importance of Not Being A Slacker when it comes to God, we must understand the way God Works. To do that we must analyze and understand the  “How Long’s” in Scripture:

The “How Longs” in God’s Word take three different forms:

  1. Man talking to Man

  2. Man talking to God

  3. God talking to Man

Now understand this word that Joshua uses-rāp̱āh: it means to become slack, to relax, cease, to become discouraged, weak, feeble, disheartened, let go, forsake, abandon. It can also be used to imply laziness or complacency.

  • The Pharaoh used this word to justify his mean treatment of the Jewish slaves (Exodus 5:8,17)

  • Proverbs 18:9 (KJV) He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

  • Understand that Slackers are brothers to the destroyer, the corrupter!

Man to Man

  • Job 8:2, ‘How long will you speak these words?’
  • Job 19:2 ‘How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? ‘
  • Psalm 63:3, ‘How long will you imagine mischief against a man?’
  • Proverbs 6:9 ‘How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?’

Face it, we get weary of trouble makers, people who cause problems, people who never seem to get their life on track. We complain about the wicked,we complain about people not doing work when we are doing all the work. How many times have you become weary of all the horrible things that people do to good people, even their children, even their family? We live in a very messed up world.

This prompts us to ask “HOW LONG?” to God.

Man to God

  • Psalms 6:3 (KJV) My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
  • Psalms 13:1 (KJV) How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
  • Psalms 35:17 (KJV) Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
  • Psalms 79:5 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
  • Psalms 89:46 (KJV) How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?
  • Psalms 94:3 (KJV) LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
  • Revelation 6:9-10 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Cry Out HOW LONG GODWe take our complaints to God, we think He is leaving us in our problem far too long. We think he is letting the lions chew on us a little too long. We think He is hiding himself from us, not listening to our prayers. We think He is letting the suffering of the righteous go on too long. There is too much suffering in this world.

God means our complaints to cause us to look at Him, to see Him at His throne. He wants us to submit our petitions before the throne, to plead our case.


UNDERSTAND GOD”S PRAYER PROTOCOL

Prayer Protocol with GodThe truth is, we must each learn that God is Sovereign. God is King. He has a well ordered throne. There is a protocol involved when we pray before the throne.

Pray through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

  • Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Hebrews 10:19-20

Pray in Confidence in His Righteousness

  • And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:21-23
  • Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Pray in the Power of the Name of Jesus

  • Ephesians 5:20 (KJV) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • Phil 2:10 At the Name of Jesus every KNEE Shall Bow.
  • Acts 4:12 No other Name under heaven whereby men may be saved

But does that mean you don’t plead with God? NO. Sometimes We Must plead…

Luke 18:3-8 (KJV) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Expectation: Faith hears the voice of the Beloved, and says, ‘Make haste;’ it hears His ‘Behold, I come quickly!’ and it says, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus!’ We ‘look for and hasten (unto) the coming of the day of God’ (2 Peter 3:12).

  • REMEMBER GOD PROMISES TO BE WITH US (Joshua 1:5) “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”

BUT REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS EXPECTATIONS FOR OUR LIFE TOO!

Gods ExpectationsWe must always remember that our Relationship With God Comes With Certain Expectations… God looks at your relationship with Him and asks… HOW LONG?


God to man.

  • God to Pharoah- Exodus 10:3, 16:28, How long will you refuse to humble yourself?’
  • Numbers 14:11 (KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
  • Numbers 14:27 (KJV) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
  • 1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
  • Proverbs 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
  • Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
  • Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
  • Jeremiah 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
  • Matthew 17:17 (KJV) Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

God is:

  1. Long-suffering. ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’
  2. He is the infinitely patient God, as such most unwilling to smite. He speaks in pity to the sinner, ‘how long will you not be saved?’—like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.
  3. Pleading, but Never Forces Your Obedience.Loving. It is not at random that God says, ‘How long?’ His are not mere words of course. ‘It grieves Him at His heart.’ Every moment’s continuance in unbelief is vexing and grieving the Spirit.
  4. Warning. As He warned the judges and princes in Israel, so does He warn us. How long will you deal unjustly? He said to them. How long will you persist in your unrighteousness and unbelief? He says to us. The day of grace is ending. The day of wrath is coming. Be warned. Flee from the wrath to come!
  5. MOST OF ALL God is NO PUSH OVER!

I have often heard somone who is back-slidden, or living in sin ask me, “why doesn’t God just send me a sign… why doesn’t He send a lightning bolt to wake me up and get me to do right?” But it is not up to God to Force us to Obey. God is after your heart, after your devotion, he is not building robots.

Sometime He brings us Goodness:

  • Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Sometimes He uses Fear:

  • Jude 1:21-23 (KJV) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

But through it all, God asks each of us, “How Long are you going to slack off from Your Relationship With ME?

  • How long are you going to slack off making a decision to put off coming to Jesus Christ?
  • How long are you going to slack off from putting God first in your life.

How to Claim InheritanceSure, you have tons of excuses. The demands of your job, demands of your family, demands for yourself. Fear of this fear of that. But God calls it what it is-laziness, slothfulness, lack of concern for His Word, apathy toward the eternity of your loved ones, lack of love for your loved ones. What kind of relationship does God require with us?

Jesus said there are really only 2 commandments you need to follow:

  • Mark 12:30-31 (KJV) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

HOW CAN WE CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE, OUR ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST? HOW DO WE HAVE A MARK 12:30 RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?

Sigmund Freud’s favorite story was about the sailor shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when his kingship was ended, the king was banished to an island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to the island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance. It is a good parable of life: We’re all kings here, kings for a little while, able to choose what we shall do with the stuff of life.—Illustrations Unlimited

Priorities & Focus:

  • “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).
  • And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” Colossians 3:23-25

1. God’s Inspired Word is the Final Authority for my Life

Bible is Final AuthorityLike Joshua led the Hebrews to do at Shechem, Mt Ebal Mt Gerizim , to embrace the blessings and the cursings of God’s Word. The were setting forth God’s Word as the Final Authority for their life. They were embracing the Blessing Power of God’s Word, but at the same time they were acknowledging the power to curse, to wall them up in the way.

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 for ever: the judgments 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. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalms 19:7-11

This means you are going to commit daily to reading the Word. You are going to make being in God’s Word your number one priority each day.

2. SURVEY YOUR LIFE


Joshua 18:4-6 (KJV) Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north. Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

Survey Your LifeMake a list of your needs, the needs of your wife, the needs of your children. Learn to think in character qualities. List your assets, list your debts, list your concerns list your fears, list your health problems. List those loved one in your life that you don’t know where they will spend eternity

3. COMMIT IT ALL TOTALLY TO GOD

that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

commit all totally to GodTake your list, commit it all to God. Give Him all your expectations. Don’t be envious of what you don’t have. Understand God has different expectations for each of us. Count on Him to bring His will to pass

  • We are a Living Sacrifice – Rom 12:1,2
  • My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalms 62:5-8

4.By Faith to Go Forth in the Power of His SPIRIT

Power of the SpiritThen he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

  • The Inheritance is conquered by God, because we can claim none of the glory before Him. Romans 11:36 – of Him, through Him and unto Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

  • He will show us our life, and only that which we have allowed Him to accomplish will last for eternity. He alone is our silver and gold!

  • Are YOU READY TO STOP SLACKING FOR GOD? ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO HIM TODAY!


What a Blessed day of Thanksgiving for God and His Reign! “Thy will be done on earth just as it is in heaven!” But obviously California is exempt from God’s Will. Today Maureen Dowd published a little article titled “Gay marriage on the rocks” In it she quotes: “Feinstein felt sure that gays who have been married in the state since June are still married. “You can’t redact it,” she said. blot-out-gay-marriagesYou can’t blot it out. It’s so intrinsic to the Constitution that you cannot remove it by a vote of the people.” Jerry Brown, the California attorney general who is also featured in the archival reels in “Milk” from his days as governor, agreed: “I believe those are valid,” he told me, saying that he will argue in the appeal before the state Supreme Court that there cannot be “a retroactive invalidation of these marital contracts.”

I never realized that sodomite marriage was such an intrinsic part of the Constitution of the United States. It must be a ‘California thing’. Jerry Brown says he will argue against the invalidation of these ‘contracts’, saying that they were valid. I realize I live in a world far removed from California, but I see marriage as much more than a ‘contract’. Besides, aren’t contracts meant to be broken? Isn’t that what lawyers do all the time?

GAY MARRIAGEI perform weddings as a mudpreacher, and I always point out to the couples that they are engaging in a marriage covenant, and the authority for that covenant is God’s Word. God has ordained marriage as an institution of His design. God's Law the Authority for MarriageThere are so many pictures of His relationship with us that are seen in a God-ordained marriage. That is why the corruption of the institution of marriage is a reflection of the corruption of our relationship with Jehovah God, the Covenant keeping God.

It may not seem ‘fair’ to invalidate these ‘contracts’ because of the vote of the people according to California law, But it is perfectly “JUST” according to God’s Law. In fact something very similar happened almost 3000 years ago, when the remnant Jews re-discovered the authority of God’s Law. After reading God’s Word for the first time in 70 years, the remnant Jews realized that they had married women not allowed by God’s Word. They reached a decision in unity-we must put away these wives, even if there are children. We must “redact” these marriages in order to obey God’s law! I remember reading Ezra 9 & 10 as a teenager and getting sick at my stomach when I thought of men getting rid of their wives and children. It did not seem “fair”. God dealt with my heart through several revelations of His Sovereignty in my life, and I now understand that this world is not about me and you, it is about God! When I center my thinking and my heart upon the Word of God, I understand that God Reigns and we must obey. That was the point of Ezra 9 & 10. Read the account of how this unfolds:

Ezr 9:1-7 Now when these things had been completed, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the local residents who practice detestable things similar to those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. Indeed, they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has become intermingled with the local residents. Worse still, the leaders and the officials have been at the forefront of all of this!” When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and my robe and ripped out some of the hair from my head and beard. Then I sat down, quite devastated. Everyone who held the words of the God of Israel in awe gathered around me because of the unfaithful acts of the people of the exile. Devastated, I continued to sit there until the evening offering. At the time of the evening offering I got up from my self-abasement, with my tunic and robe torn, and then dropped to my knees and spread my hands to the LORD my God. I prayed, ‘O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God! For our iniquities have climbed higher than our heads, and our guilt extends to the heavens.  From the days of our fathers until this very day our guilt has been great. Because of our iniquities we, along with our kings and priests, have been delivered over by the local kings to sword, captivity, and plunder, and embarrassment— right up to the present time.

Of course, if you do not hold the Words of God in awe, you will do as you please. But if you DO hold the Word of God in awe, you will choose to obey His Word. This is what the remnant of Jews chose to do in the restored Jerusalem. They were standing amidst a graphic picture of the results of NOT obeying God’s Word. They were standing amidst the ruins of one of the grandest cities of all time, Jerusalem. That mighty city and nation had been utterly destroyed by invaders because a few years earlier the people had not obeyed God’s Law, nor obeyed the warnings of His Prophets.

The account of Ezra continues:

ezra weeps before the Lord GodEzra 10:1-5 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God, a very large crowd of Israelites — men, women, and children alike — gathered around him. The people wept loudly. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, addressed Ezra:  “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the local peoples. Nevertheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard. Therefore let us enact a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, and that of those who respect the commandments of our God. And let it be done according to the law. Get up, for this matter concerns you. We are with you, so be strong and act decisively!”So Ezra got up and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath to carry out this plan. And they all took a solemn oath.

The people made an oath to follow God’s Law. Ezra continues:

Ezra 10:10-12 “Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have behaved in an unfaithful manner by taking foreign wives! This has contributed to the guilt of Israel. Now give praise to the LORD God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the local residents and from these foreign wives.” All the assembly replied in a loud voice: “We will do just as you have said!”

gods-word-vs-society1Everyone wants to know and experience God today. There is a great rise of ‘spirituality’ in America, indeed throughout the world. These people in Ezra wanted to know God as well. They read His word, and God revealed Himself to them, but in that revelation, they realized they had sinned against God. There can be no relationship with the True God without dealing with our sin. Any sense of spirituality we may have must have an antidote to the sin that curses our lives. That antidote is Jesus Christ. It is not our praise, our prayers, our ‘goodness’ that brings God into our lives. It is what Jesus Christ has done and our embracing of Him that makes us ‘accepted’ in the Beloved. Jesus Christ fulfilled the stringent requirements of God’s Law and His Holiness. Only when our lives are “in Christ” do we have forgiveness and acceptance before Jehovah God.

Is Your Name in God's Book of Life?

Is Your Name in God's Book of Life

We must be willing to follow God’s Word. We must hold His Word in awe! We must be willing to separate ourselves from the foolishness of this world and submit our will and world view to the Word of God! It may be difficult to invalidate these sodomite marriages, and certainly result in hardship and hurt, but the law must be obeyed. America is a great nation because of our laws! Obedience to those laws is the bedrock of the American Society. You may cry “You can’t blot it out!” but the truth is we must. We must obey God’s Word! If we stiffen our neck and close our ears to God, we ourselves will be blotted out.  Exodus 32:33 warns: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Praise God, we have a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the guarantee that our sins will be blotted out, and we will be in God’s Book of Life.

As Colossians 2:14 proclaims:

Jesus Bloted out our sins

Jesus Blotted out our sins

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”.  Praise God for His great love for us, that through the sacrifice of His Son, our sins would be blotted out and nailed to that horrible cross.

Obedience to God’s Word should be the bedrock of our lives. Anything else results in following a false god of our own making. Anything else will result in you being blotted out of God’s book. May you live a life of Thanksgiving because you enjoy Jehovah God living in you through Jesus Christ!


I was going to do a wedding at one of the beautiful, stained glass Christian Churches in a major Midwest city. It is a beautiful church that is very popular for weddings. Many of the cities “whose who” attend there. It is a church to be seen at.

The Senior Pastor requested a copy of my talk to the couple. As I always do I give a challenge to the husband and the wife from God’s Word. I commonly use this text from Ephesians:

“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Eph 5:20-28)

Wife in submission

I don’t really push submission because it is such an offensive word to women. I normally stress “finding your fit” which is one mamby pamby way of translating “submission”. I also stress the wife’s influence over her husband, something most women love to hear. That is because they love tobe ’empowered’. I also talk about the husbands responsibility to love his wife, even to the point of dying to what he wants, just like Jesus.

Most people like to hear what I have to say, but the preacher of the ‘Christian’ church didn’t. He called me up and said that they did not talk about submission at his church. I asked him about the passage in Ephesians, and he acknowledged that it existed. However, he said they choose to ignore it in their church.

Well I was shocked.

I thought to myself “his church must be run by women”. Then I got to thinking about Martin Luther, and how he tore the book of James out of his Bible, because it talked about works. Then I thought, isn’t that what I do when I water down a word so the message is not offensive?

I read that Huckabee talked about wives submitting to their husbands. Too bad, he’ll start to fade real fast. We’ll be stuck with Romney before long. He changes all of his stances to whichever way the wind is blowing. He would never get stuck in the mud.

So what is it about submission that is so offensive to people. The main thing is it acknowledges that God is stuck on authority. HIS authority. And we better submit to it or there will be judgment. That’s why Jeremiah got stuck in the mud. The princes did not want any other authority but their own. As long as America and our society refuses to submit to God’s authority, God’s design for our families and society, we will continue to erode in moral character and personal conviction. Marriage will become more of a joke, and the family as early 20th century America experienced will become only a dream. There will be no more “moral backbone” to America.