Today we have all kinds of planners, apps, lists, and suggestions to help us get more organized and be more productive. So much in our culture points to the importance of getting more and more done. We have become a church of Martha’s when God wants us to first be Mary’s. That won’t happen without learning to order our own private worlds.
Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working dad or mom, a single parent, a businessman or woman, or a grandparent. Maybe you work from home. Maybe you commute. Maybe home and family are your work. Maybe you’re a blogger, a Bible teacher, a homeschooler, or in full-time ministry. Wherever you are in your life right now, you’re probably busy! Continue reading →
So … what is wrong with living together? Everyone is doing it! Sadly, even couples who consider themselves Christians.
Is a marriage license just a piece of paper and marriage something people created? What if we’re really committed to each other or are planning to get married eventually?
In 37 easily readable pages, Jeffrey Miller presents the loving biblical answer to those questions and many more. And he does so without being judgmental or condemning.
In chapter 2 he says:
The Bible does not explicitly say “Living together is a sin.” Despite a popular misconception, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, containing endless lists of everything God says is okay and everything God says is not okay. Though we do see passages of clear “do’s and don’ts” (like the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20), the Bible often gives principles concerning our conduct.
He goes on:
Throughout the Bible, God gives clear principles on His design and intentions for sexuality and marriage. We could list all the things God is against when it comes to sexual relationships, such as homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy, etc. (and in fact the Bible does mention God’s feelings toward such things).
But, as the author points out, we love loopholes.
And when we come to the Bible, we have a tendency to do the same. Have you ever said (or thought):
“I know what the Bible says, but technically …”
“The Bible may say that, but what that really means is …”
“I know ________ is wrong, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about _________.”
When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, he started by questioning God’s Word. Nothing much has changed.
… in God’s infinite wisdom, He did something better (and easier) for us. Instead of giving us list after list of what He doesn’t want for us concerning sexuality and marriage, God instead gives us His blueprint for how he intended sexuality and marriage to be in the first place.
Mr. Miller goes on to explain God’s plan for marriage beginning in Genesis 2 and how He intends for it to be an “exclusive, inseparable relationship between the man and the woman.” He goes on:
We must also notice that God didn’t create one man, take twelve of his ribs to make twelve women, telling Adam, “Hey, try them out, sow your oats, see which one you like, or maybe you’ll decide on more than one.” Nor did God create twelve men for Eve to “play the field” until she decided which man would make her the happiest. God made one man–for one woman–for one lifetime. At creation, God deliberately set this pattern for marriage commitment with the very first couple.
The author then goes on to talk about Jesus’ teaching on marriage, beginning with his condemnation of the Pharisees and their low view of marriage (Matt. 19.3-9) and then walking us through His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4.5-26).
… Jesus was reaching out to her and offering her the better way, the first thing He pointed out to her was the fact that her life was caught up in one bad relationship after another, husband after husband, and the man she was currently living with was not her husband.
… we discover in the Bible that Jesus Christ Himself actually encountered someone who was living in that situation. And … He didn’t affirm it as a good alternative to marriage.
Jesus is proclaiming that people are missing God’s plan (and blessing) for marriage when they don’t view divorce, relationships, and cohabitation as God Himself does.
In chapter 5 the author addresses the common responses to criticism of living together:
“But we love each other…”
“We will end up getting married eventually anyways …”
“We are committed to each other …”
“We are married in God’s eyes, why does it matter if we have the license? It’s just a piece of paper! And why do we have to have a ceremony?”
“We have to do it for financial reasons …”
“Everybody is doing it these days …”
“You wouldn’t buy a care without test driving it, would you? Isn’t living together before you get married like test driving a car? You know, try it out, make sure it works …”
If you’ve been reading my blog for any time at all, you probably know that I’m a firm believer in reading through the Bible on a regular basis.
So why am I talking about reading through the Bible in August? Why not December or January? Because for most of us as moms, we are geared to think of the “back to school” season as the beginning of a new year.
Whether you homeschool or are getting kids ready to go back to the classroom, you’re establishing new habits and routines. Why not start a new one personally?
For some of you, the idea of starting a daily Bible half way through seems foreign, but all of God’s Word is profitable. It doesn’t matter where you start. In fact, most of us read isolated passages all the time as part of sermons and Bible studies. And if you start now, by the time January 1 comes around you can have a well-established routine already in place.
What will happen if you make that commitment?
First, let me tell you what won’t happen:
God won’t love you any more than He already does.
It won’t be easy. Your flesh won’t like it at times and the devil will be sure you have plenty of distractions.
You won’t instantly know everything the Bible has to say.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is one that has helped many women get a more biblically balanced view of our role, our responsibilities, and our blessings.
There are many books available today on marriage and on how to be the husband or wife that God has called you to be. I’ve read a number of them and, perhaps, so have you.
But Martha’s book is different from many of them. First of all, it’s not new. In fact, in my opinion, it’s a classic when it comes to biblical books on the wife’s role in marriage. It was first published in 1995. Martha wrote it because, as a biblical counselor seeking to help other women, she needed solid material to use in her counseling and, at that time, there was little available.
In the years since, it has been used by countless women and countless counselors, including myself. I have read and re-read it. I’ve taught it in the classroom and I’ve used it over and over in my counseling ministry. I’ve shared it with young women and with seasoned veterans to marriage. I’ve found it to be the most comprehensive, biblical book there is. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and full of notes on every blank space.
Just Another Book about Submission?
Someone out there is thinking … “Oh no, another book about submission!”
Submission is in there, because it’s part of how God has called us to live, but so is how to make a biblical appeal and how to lovingly confront your husband when he’s sinning, along with when to go to your church, and when to call the authorities because of abuse.
But the bulk of the book is about how to live out biblical womanhood on a practical, day by day basis, bringing glory to God in the process.
In the first section, Martha covers God’s protective authority, His provision for wives, His pattern for relationships, His purpose for marriage, and the wife’s role.
In the second section, she covers the heart and how it can be focused on false gods instead of Christ, also, the home, the God-kind of love, respect, intimacy and submission.
In the third section, she explains how submission is the basis for God’s protection and lists His resources for a woman’s protection. She, also, talks about the key to our motivation, the control of the tongue, and the importance of a quiet and gentle spirit.
And in the last section, Martha talks about some of our struggles: impatience, anxiety, and a lack of oneness. Continue reading →
How is your marriage? Is it good? Is it great? Could it use some work or, at least, some fine tuning? Marriages, even good ones, need regular maintenance.
Genesis 2.24 says:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
This is much more than the obvious physical union between a man and a woman. This is a unity of hearts and goals that requires good communication and a laying down of our own selfish agendas to follow God’s agenda.
Amos 3.3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”
As Christians our goals should be in line with God’s goals for marriage, but that won’t happen unless we know and understand God’s blueprint.
Dr. Wayne Mack’s book, Strengthening Your Marriage, can be a great tool for helping any couple do just that. The book is made up of 8 Units to study together as a couple or as part of a small group:
God’s Purpose for Marriage
The Wife’s Responsibilities
The Husband’s Responsibilities
Each unit begins with a teaching section in the form of an amplified outline. Key points are noted and all points are accompanied by Scripture references. The teaching section is followed by study questions and practical exercises to work through as a couple. Dr. Mack says: Continue reading →
Have you ever found yourself praying, “Dear God, please change my husband!”
You’ve tried it all: nagging, encouraging, keeping quiet … praying. You know there’s a right way to impact your marriage, but you’re too frustrated to try.
Maybe the following sounds familiar?
You’re efficient, smart, organized, and make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done. You’re physically tired, yes, but mostly just tired of being the responsible one. Your husband is a decent guy who helps when asked—but you still have to ask, which means it’s still your responsibility. Sometimes you joke that having a husband is like having another child.
Then, there’s the marriage itself. Things look fine on the outside, but they’re not really. In public, your husband is charming and cheerful. At home, he’s distant or grouchy—apparently more interested in anything else than spending quality time together. Faith, instead of being something that defines your marriage, is a private, individual matter.
You’ve bought books on how to improve a marriage, but they all require at least some degree of cooperation from your husband. You can’t make him read something he’s not interested in; and learning how to be more romantic, helpful, and communicative isn’t exactly high on his list.
On good days, being married is like having a roommate; on bad days it’s like being in prison. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s a far cry from what you dreamt it would be like. With a few adjustments you could support yourself financially, and it’s tempting to think life might be easier alone. The question, “Who needs a husband, anyway?” has crossed your mind more than once.
He’s frustrated, too. Somewhere along the way, being married became more of a burden than a joy. The way you always “help” him drives him crazy and makes him feel inadequate. “I don’t need another mother,” he says to himself.
You have the “right” answer for everything—at least you think you do—and he’s tired of being corrected, criticized, and contradicted in what he says or does. It’s easier to bury himself in television, hobbies, or work than fit into your world—a world where he’s never quite good enough. He may not have said it out loud, but he’s probably thought it: “What does she need me for a husband, anyway?”
Or maybe you just want to understand your husband better, why he does what he does, and how you can help him grow in the area of leading his family and growing as a believer in Christ.
If you’re married, you have an imperfect marriage. You have a spouse who sometimes acts wrong and so does he or she.
Marriages are imperfect, because people are imperfect. If we have accepted Christ and begun that redemptive journey, hopefully, we are on the road to becoming more like Him, but none of us has arrived!
It may be that both you and your spouse are seeking to be the husband and wife God wants you to be, but even then we fail at times. It may be that your spouse is sinning in much larger and more damaging ways.
Sin is in all of us (Romans 3: 23). Attitudes and behaviors that come out of a self-centered, selfish, prideful, deceived, and/ or rebellious heart often express themselves in big, bad ways such as infidelity, lying, addictions, or abuse. The same sinful heart can also produce more benign but chronically irritating behaviors such as nagging and criticism, forgetting important occasions, failing to put dirty laundry in the hamper, not listening well, or staying glued to the television when our spouse is attempting to have a conversation with us. It can be just as difficult and discouraging to believe God and live by faith with a spouse who sins in subtle, less blatant ways as it can when a spouse commits the more grievous wrongs.
Most of us acknowledge that there are no perfect marriages or perfect spouses. We know that having a good marriage requires effort and hard work. At times, however, in the midst of that pain and struggle we can lose sight of what marriage is all about. We forget that we have made a covenant promise to love for better or worse. In the better times, love is usually easy. When worse comes, we often don’t know how to continue to love when we are angry, hurt, scared, or don’t feel very loving. We also aren’t exactly sure what that kind of love is supposed to look like. Do we just forbear? Forgive and forget? How and when do we apply the bolder forms of love?
Sadly, many just give up. The rate of divorce among believers isn’t much different than with couples outside the church, even though most of them know that God wants them to stay and work out their differences.
Others stay but become cold toward their spouses and toward God, believing He has commanded them to stay in an unhappy marriage. Others simply resign themselves and go about living two separate lives in one house. Continue reading →
If you spend hours in prayer each day and your prayer life is always amazing, this post probably isn’t for you. But if, like me, you sometimes feel like you’re going through the motions or you don’t always connect with God the way you would like, you might want to keep reading.
First, let me say that reading books about prayer cannot be a substitute for prayer itself, but I sometimes find it helpful to read a short portion in a good book on the subject at the start of my prayer time. It helps me get my focus off my upcoming appointments, the post that needs to be written, and the rest of my to-do list.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in 1834 and died in 1892. He is still known today as “The Prince of Preachers.” He was called to his ministry in London at the age of 20 and started with a congregation of 232. By 1865 25,000 copies of his sermons were printed and sold each week and were translated into more than twenty languages. Spurgeon built the Metropolitan Tabernacle into a congregation of over 6,000 and added well over 14,000 members during his thirty-eight-year London ministry. It’s estimated that he preached to 10,000,000 people during his lifetime.
According to the editor:
He remains history’s most widely read preacher. There is more available material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead. His sixty-three volumes of sermons stand as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity, comprising the equivalent to the twenty-seven volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Many of his sermons were on the subject of prayer and he was known to implore the people of his congregation to pray for him. The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life has been carefully edited from many of those sermons.
His great success has been attributed to many things:
Much is made of the combination of a beautiful speaking voice, a dramatic flair and style that was captivating, a powerful commitment to a biblical theology, and his ability to speak to the people of his day in a manner that addressed their deepest needs. Undoubtedly, all of these were of major importance. But they don’t explain the most important ingredient.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.
This week’s selection is Preparing for Marriage by David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte & Lloyd Shadrach, published by Family Life Ministries.
You know how it goes. We meet. Fall in love. Get married. And live happily ever after.
At least that’s what we all expect. No one marries expecting to be a divorce statistic, but sadly, the rate of divorce isn’t all that different among Christian couples than it is with unbelievers.
That shouldn’t be the case and it doesn’t have to be, but it takes preparation. Preparation that is often neglected in the midst of choosing caterers and venues. Many couples spend months, even longer, preparing for a wedding and little, if any, time preparing to be married!
My husband and I taught a preparing for marriage class for a number of years. After using various materials, we found this book and the couples who currently teach the class still use it.
The book is a combination book and workbook. The best way to use it, is for each person to complete a chapter or project on their own, then to spend some time discussing it together. It can be worked through by a couple on their own or with a mentor couple. It can also be used as a small group or classroom study.
Theology … we tend to think it’s for pastors and teachers or, maybe, students in seminary or Bible college, but not for moms and dads, office workers, storekeepers, and others of us who work in stores and offices and homes every day.
But as you’ll learn from Brad Hambrick’s book, we all have a theology, including our ideas about God’s attributes. How does our understanding of God’s character affect how we view the events of our lives, especially the hard ones and how do we arrive at our view of God, sometimes, without even realizing it?
One portrayal of how we do theology is provided by breathing: inhale, process, and exhale. We inhale information, experiences, relationships, hopes, dreams, opportunities, tragedies, successes, failures, and an incredible number of mundane moments. These pieces are then processed by personal evaluations as good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant, painful, pleasurable, significant, noticed, or unnoticed. Finally, we exhale beliefs, correlations of cause and effect, life principles, optimistic or pessimistic expectations, and ideas about God (i.e., whoever or whatever we believe to be “in charge” of it all).
Think about some of the formative events of your life, the good and the bad. These major memories have the greatest impact on our core beliefs, our theology.
As you reflect on these formative life events, the hard or negative ones will fit into one of two categories: sin or suffering. Sin encompasses those actions, beliefs, and emotions that are contrary to God’s Word or character. Suffering includes the tragic and deteriorative effects of living in a fallen world, as well as the consequences of other’s sin against you.
The guiding principle of this entire study is simply: Our battle from and against sin and suffering is first and foremost a battle toward and for God.
With this said, our concept of God, resulting from the theological breathing discussed above, greatly influences how we read the Bible. If we believe that God is a cosmic cop, we read the Bible fearfully wanting to know the things for which God will “pull us over” and for which he will “let us go”—the equivalent of the “how far over the speed limit can you drive and get away with it” debate. If we believe that God is a heavenly grandfather, then we read the Bible to find out what good ideas he has and how to stay on his good side to get the extra treats of his approval.
This devotional study can help us identify the connections between our sins and struggles and our understanding of God. It can help us identify those attributes we need to understand better. Doing so will help us trust, enjoy and emulate Him more and better. When we have a wrong view of God, Brad says: Continue reading →