Congratulations to those of you who have been reading all year and to those who started somewhere along the way. I hope you’re looking forward to starting again in the coming year.
Just as we will read in Malachi today, let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best in 2018 … to offer Him the firstfruits of our time in the morning or whatever time works best … to be faithful with our finances … to use our talents and resources to further His kingdom, to bring Him glory in all we do, and to honor Him in our marriages or our singleness or whatever our situation!
Our final passage in Proverbs pictures “the virtuous or excellent wife” We’ll look at how an ancient description speaks to us today?
Finally, as you read the last 2 chapters of Revelation, allow John’s vision of the glories to come excite your heart! Continue reading →
Who captivates your attention? What do you spend your time reading? On what kind of game show would you want to compete? What do the answers to those questions have to do with where you have put your treasure? Before you answer … you might want to read today’s post!
Verse 1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”
Perhaps your first thought was like mine, “I don’t hang out with evil people.” I go to church and hang out with my Christian friends. I don’t go out drinking. I try to avoid gossip. In fact, the list of ways I obey God might be long in my mind.
But just as we learn and grow from the good influence of mature believers, even those who have already gone to be with the Lord, by reading their books and watching or listening to them through all kinds of media … so we can be influenced by ungodly people.
Who captivates your attention? Is it Hollywood celebrities or committed Christians? Do you spend more time reading your Bible, Christian biographies and other Christian books … or People magazine and the hottest new novel? Would you do better at The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? Do you know more about Kate Middleton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry … or the Apostle Paul, Susanna Wesley and Charles Spurgeon?
Jesus said, “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6.21).
What do your answers say about where your treasure is?
Finding Satisfaction in the Daily Activities of Life
Solomon most likely wrote this book during the later years of his life after he had squandered much of his energy on earthly pursuits. He wrote this book to others, especially young people, to warn them about the futility of trying to find happiness in the things of this world. As he points out the “vanity” of such pursuits, he shares many nuggets of wisdom.
In chapters 1 and 2 he warns that even wisdom for wisdom’s sake is vanity, as are seeking after pleasure, building projects, and accumulating possessions. He tried and failed to find satisfaction in power, great wealth, and fame. Work for work sake didn’t bring satisfaction either. In fact, he came to realize that all his accomplishments meant nothing in light of eternity. Everything he accumulated here on earth would someday be left to others.
In the midst of all this we read this nugget:
“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God” (2.24).
Instead of seeking satisfaction in success, wealth, power, and other pursuits, we should learn to find satisfaction in the daily activities of life.
Living by Feelings
Here in the first part of this psalm the writer focuses almost entirely on his feelings. When he did, he felt as if God had abandoned him. The same can happen to us. Continue reading →
What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?
Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, the eagle and a huge sea creature called leviathan.
Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism, but what does the Bible say?
Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.
I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and want to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.
And to the married, verse 5 says:
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.
It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are many, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would urge you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.
I’ve often heard that the rate of divorce in the US is about 50%, but I’ve discovered that statistics are hard to pin down. Some say the rate of divorce has dropped in the last decade and that as high as 70% of marriages make it to their 15th year. While that’s good, what about the 30% who don’t? And is it possible that the divorce rate is going down because many couples simply live together without marrying?
What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it allowable to divorce because we’re not happy or no longer in love? Is it OK if we’re unequally yoked? Are there, actually, any biblical grounds for divorce?
59 years had passed since the completion of the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In these passages, the second group of former captives had returned led by Ezra. He had learned that the Jews who were already there, including many of the leaders, had taken pagan wives. This was strictly forbidden by the Law, had repeatedly led the people into idolatry, and had caused the nation to be taken into captivity. Yet, they went back to the same practices!
John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible notes that even though there was a decision made that these wives as a group were to be “put away”—that is divorced—each marriage was examined individually, probably to learn whether the wives had become believers. He also notes that other gentile women like Ruth and Rahab who had embraced faith in God were accepted and even included in the lineage of Christ.
So what about today? Can we divorce an unbelieving spouse? Matthew Henry in his commentary says, “As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.”
2 Corinthians 6.14 says:
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
So while it is wrong for a Christian to marry a non-Christian, if a believer is already married to a non-believer, divorce is not an option in most circumstances.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce
So what does the Bible say about divorce? Is it ever allowable? Jay Adams, in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, says, “Contrary to some opinions, the concept of divorce is biblical. The Bible recognizes and regulates divorce.”
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (Matt. 1.19). He was going to divorce her until an angel convinced him that she had not committed adultery. Continue reading →
Many believers find themselves married to unbelievers who have no interest in the things of God. While it can be challenging, God didn’t leave us without instructions for such situations.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 “Living with an Unbeliever”
We’re wrapping up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about living with an unbelieving spouse.
Marrying an Unbeliever
First, let me say that if you’re single and contemplating marriage, you are only free to marry “in the Lord.”
A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7.39).
That phrase “in the Lord” means “in Christ” or “in the common faith.” While Paul is speaking, specifically, to women in this verse, the principle applies to men and women who are single, biblically divorced, or widowed and is addressed in 2 Corinthians, as well.
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6.14-16).
This is not a suggestion. It’s not Old Testament. It’s a command. Unfortunately, some people come to the Lord with the idea that His Word is just a nicer way to live, perhaps the ideal, but we’re still free to do it or not. That has never been the case.
We women are, particularly, prone to try to justify dating and marrying unbelievers:
“Well, he comes to church with me.”
“I think he’s close to getting saved.”
“How will he come to know the Lord if I break up with him?”
“He believes in God.”
“He’s OK with me going to church.”
“It’s not a problem for us.”
“He’s a Christian, but he doesn’t believe in going to church.”
Need I go on?
I’ve counseled many women who were dating or engaged to unbelievers. I have explained God’s clear commands and warned them of the natural consequences of choosing to disobey God (Gal. 6.7-8). Sadly, few listen once they are emotionally attached, especially, if they have further disobeyed God by becoming sexually involved.
Many have come back later and said, “I should have listened.” Because … Continue reading →
Many people consider parenting to be the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intended for moms and dads to parent as a team.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 “Parenting as a Team”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about how important parenting as a team is to our marriages and to our children.
Ephesians 6 says:
¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
There is so much packed into those four short verses. More than I could ever address completely in a single post. So, if you’re a new believer, new to parenting, or have a desire to grow in this area, I have provided an extensive list of resources in another post, “Parenting from the Foot of the Cross.” I hope you’ll check it out.
But, for today, I want to focus on the team aspect of parenting.
Many people consider parenting largely the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But notice, Paul addressed verse 4 directly to fathers.
Of course, he’s speaking to mothers, as well. But the father, as the head of the home, has the responsibility to see that children are brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 5.22-24; 6.4). He is the one who will ultimately answer to God (1 Tim. 3.4-5).
But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intends for moms and dads to parent as a team.
I understand there are many godly single parents out there. Some are single, not by their own choice. Others came to Christ after becoming parents or are single for a variety of other reasons. But I think we would agree that God’s design has always been for children to be raised in a home with a mother and a father. Continue reading →
“Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the human body. Communication nourishes and sustains a relationship. Remove it, and you no longer have a relationship.”
The Bible has much to say about the importance of healthy communication and the results of bad communication. James said the tongue can be “set on fire by hell.” So, how can couples grow and become more intentional when it comes to healthy communication?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 13 “Healthy Communication”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about the importance of regular, healthy communication to a thriving marriage.
Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the human body. Communication nourishes and sustains a relationship. Remove it, and you no longer have a relationship.
No wonder marriage counselors everywhere, constantly, hear the lament, “We just don’t communicate!” Even when there are other serious issues, lack of communication worsens them. Few people learn to communicate, solve problems and resolve conflict well, unless they are purposeful and determined to do so.
Even couples with great marriages will, often, tell you, they didn’t start out knowing how to communicate. Many will admit to years of struggle and heartache in this area. Couples who thought they could talk about anything during their dating time can find themselves hurt, angry, and frustrated as they move into the early years of marriage.
But sadly, if we don’t learn to communicate well, those feelings can grow and last for years. Those couples may resort to living separate lives or they may simply divorce.
Healthy Communication or Evil Communication
The Bible talks about all kinds of communication, not all of it healthy!
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise (Prov. 10.19).
An angry man stirs up strife, And a furious man abounds in transgression (Prov. 29.22).
Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool (Prov. 10.18).
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman (Prov. 21.9).
James said this in chapter 3 of his epistle:
2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
So while communication is vital, it’s important how we communicate. We can allow our tongues to be used for good or for evil. How many marriages have been burned to the ground by tongues loaded with the fire of hell?! Continue reading →
Leadership books, seminars, articles and posts abound in every realm of life. Sales companies want to lead their teams to more sales. Company executives want to motivate employees to loyalty and greater profits. Ministry leaders want to inspire more involvement and greater commitment to the church and its purposes.
Some lead through manipulation. Some through strength of character or charismatic personality. Some try leading through force, fear, or intimidation. But Jesus’ explanation of leadership contained none of those things. It might seem counter-intuitive to many. It surprised, even, His disciples.
Jesus’ instructions about leadership could be characterized by three words: love, sacrifice and servant-hood.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 12 “The Husband’s Role: Loving Leadership”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today’s post is on the husband’s role, that of loving leadership.
Ephesians 5 says:
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of his home. This is not a matter of personality or what works for each couple. God says the husband is the leader of his home.
He may default on his role. One of the complaints I hear from wives is, “My husband won’t lead. He leaves everything to me.”
Wives may refuse to submit to their husband’s leadership making it very difficult for him to lead effectively. In fact, some husbands simply throw up their hands and quit trying to lead, believing it’s not worth the battle.
In some marriages husbands and wives fight constantly over who will have their way. Their children live in a minefield where an explosion can happen at any moment.
Others divide responsibilities and assets and proceed to lead two separate lives. There’s my money and your money. I do my thing; you do yours.
Some husbands try to maintain control with their fists or some other manifestation of anger. Some by being harsh or treating their wives and children like their employees.
But what does God have to say? Lets look at the rest of Ephesians 5:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Three Key Words
We could sum up Christ’s teaching on the husband’s role in three words: love, sacrifice, and servant-hood. God has called husbands to loving leadership. Continue reading →
RESPECT: It’s a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It’s tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don’t give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT”
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s hard to see the word with out thinking about the old Aretha Franklin song (although I may just be showing my age). Aretha sang, “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect … just a little bit.”
I’ve heard that same plea across the counseling desk many times, especially, when husbands don’t keep their eyes where they belong, when they flirt with other women, or when a wife doesn’t feel her husband is showing her the proper honor in some other way.
We all know what it’s like to feel disrespected.
Those are real concerns. A husband should honor his wife in the way he interacts with her and with others.
But, wives are not the only ones who are disrespected. In fact, if we’re honest, there is a lack of disrespect toward husbands and fathers, in general, today. Maybe it started during the women’s movement. You know, “I am woman, hear me roar.” Often, the implication was, I can handle things. Get out of my way. I don’t need a man.
Think about the typical family show in the 50s and 60s: Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Leave It to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show. Fathers held a place of honor. They were wise. Their wives and children showed them respect.
Now think about the typical family sitcom today. Often, the father is the bumbling idiot and the butt of the jokes. Wives are out conquering the world or rolling their eyes over their husbands’ actions. Children are anything but respectful.
While husbands, wives, and children should all show respect for one another, God has specifically commanded wives to respect their husbands and children to honor their fathers and mothers.
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5.33).
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6.1-3).
I’ve been doing a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of respect in the wife’s attitude toward her husband.
I’ll Respect My Husband When He Deserves It!
Someone is thinking. You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t deserve my respect. You don’t know what he has done. He’s not a believer. He’s a drunk … a womanizer … lazy … you pick the adjective. He doesn’t care about me. He never shows me respect. I’ll show him respect when he deserves it and he shows me respect. Continue reading →
Conflicts and disagreements happen in the best of marriages, but what happens when we aren’t resolving conflict biblically?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 “Resolving Conflict”
In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then we covered the wife’s role and submission. Last week I shared a video by my husband Mike. His explanation of biblical decision making has helped many couples understand how to honor God in an area that can be difficult.
Mike uses a 4-way stop intersection to explain both the husband’s and wife’s roles and the responsibility each of them have to not allow differences to escalate into conflict.
But what happens when couples don’t seek to resolve problems biblically? And why is it so hard, even when we know what we should do? Look at James 4 for a minute:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask (Jas. 4.1-2 NASB).
Lust isn’t just about sexual desires. It can be the result of any strongly held desire. When we lust sexually, we’re so controlled by the desire for sexual pleasure that we’re willing to sin by going outside of God’s ordained will to obtain it.
When we lust after other things, we fight and quarrel, rather than resolving problems biblically. The things we want have become controlling desires and we, too, are willing to sin to get them.
Lustful desires might be having the house we want, spending money on a certain purchase, being in control, spending holidays or other times with our biological family, raising our kids a certain way, or a host of other things.
Even good things can become lusts if we’re willing to sin to get them or to hang on to them.
Sometimes, when conflicts arise we go on the attack, verbally or physically.
Sometimes, we put up the “do not enter” sign. Our spouse learns that attempts to discuss the matter lead to anger, withdrawal, tears, or various forms of withdrawal. So conflict goes unresolved.
Sometimes, one spouse or the other is a controller. He or she may control through manipulation (tears, anger, withholding sex or affection) or fear and intimidation. It’s “one way, my way.” Continue reading →