Marriage and Divorce

“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” ~ Jesus, Mark 10:6-9 (CSB)

Marriage was the first institution of society that God gave to humanity. When there were only two people, Adam and Eve, and no cities, neighborhoods, or governments, God gave us marriage.

God designed marriage to be a source of joy, intimacy, and fellowship between a husband and wife in a lifelong bond. Marriage is such an important aspect of the human story that Paul relates it to the relationship between Jesus and the church in Ephesians 5, and John sees eternity kickoff with the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19.

Yet, when Adam and Eve chose sin over God in Genesis 3, it impacted everything, including marriage.

Sin and the hardness of heart is why, Jesus said, Moses permitted divorce papers (Mark 10:5); but now that he had come to deal with sin, Jesus called his followers to a higher ideal—a return to what God designed in creation. We still do not live in a perfect world, so Jesus and Paul allow for a sinless divorce on behalf of the injured party in cases such as adultery or spousal abandonment (Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

Still, our aim is for the ideal. We should enter into marriage with the belief that it will be “until death do we part,” and work to resolve issues with grace and commitment. We should see divorce only as an option in extreme circumstances that we pray we will avoid.

If you’ve been divorced in your past, know that God’s grace is unlimited to those who receive it by faith in Jesus. If necessary, confess to God any sin on your part related to the failed relationship that you have not yet confessed to God. Then let your focus be on your current relationship and strengthening it to be that source of lifelong joy, intimacy, and fellowship that God designed for it.

Good Reads 10.12.17 (on life’s difficulties, fighting sin, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On following Jesus and the difficulties of life: The Hard Road Is Where You’ll Find the Lord by Kole Farney

Here is something worth review: following Christ doesn’t result in a life without difficulty. Trials are normative, and pain is God’s chosen way to work out holiness and dependence in our lives. He is a vinedresser who carefully prunes every branch. He is a loving Father who disciplines all his children.

Therefore, because of his careful love for you, he will direct you down hard roads of suffering.

But, take heart; the hard road is where you’ll find the Lord. As strange as is sounds, this is a reality for every believer—God is working in and through the most painful circumstances in our lives. And he is there, right beside you, leading you, helping you. (click here to read more)

On “feeling” God’s presence: Don’t Freak Out if You’re Not Feeling God’s Presence by Stephen Altrogge

For much of my life, I’ve relied on my experience of God’s presence to determine how close I am to God. If I have an emotional experience in corporate singing, then I tend to think I’m closer to God. On the other hand, if my Bible reading feels drier than a college accounting lecture (I sat through some terrible ones), I conclude that I didn’t experience God.

If this dryness goes on for any length of time, I can begin to despair, believing that I’m in some sort of metaphorical/spiritual Valley of Dry Bones. But I’ve come to conclude that, for the most part, this thinking is unbiblical. Here’s why. (click here to read more)

On relationships and conflict: How To Resolve Most Relational Conflict by Jon Bloom

Pride is the enemy inside us that speaks to us like a friend. Its counsel sounds so much like self-protection, preservation, and promotion that we’re often blinded to the fact that it’s destroying us and others. It rises in great indignation as a prosecuting attorney when others’ pride damages us, but it minimizes, qualifies, excuses, rationalizes, and blame-shifts our behavior when we damage others. We can be easily deceived into believing that our pride wants to save us, when really, it’s our internal Judas betraying us with a kiss.

We must, to use an old term, mortify it — put pride to death. And there is only one way to do this: we must humble ourselves. (click here to read more)

On fighting sin: A Three-Step Strategy for Fighting Sin by Colin Smith

Our flesh is drawn to sin. Christian writers sometimes refer to this as “indwelling sin,” the impulse to sin that remains active in your flesh throughout your Christian life. Indwelling sin means you have a battle on your hands. But if you are going to engage effectively in the battle against sin, you have to know where to fight.

How does God reveal your indwelling sins, so you can battle against them? Through his Word: “The entrance of your Word gives light” (Psalm 119:130). Use the Bible as a tool for self examination. When you read the Bible one question to ask is, “Is there a sin to avoid?”

Try to see if there if what you are reading points to a sin that could be lurking in your life.

The first priority in turning from sin is that you should know it. The entrance of God’s Word gives light. Once you know what you are up against, you will be able to make progress. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 09.14.17 (on friendship, singleness, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On Christian friendships: The Painful Paradox of Christian Friendships by Ronni Kurtz

Friendships between Christians are a bit of a peculiar thing. We know that eternally all we need is Christ, yet we feel temporally that we have a desperate need for each other. God shows off his kindness in fewer things more than allowing his children to walk through their days with one another. We are called to a laundry list of “one another” imperatives: love one another, rebuke one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, provide for one another, and so forth the glorious commands to live for the good of another go.

The relationships between believers is different because it’s not built around a small commonality of cultural taste or preference; it’s built around seeing to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God as we march hand and hand with our brothers and sisters towards the promise land. This eternal drum beat that our feet move to causes a bond that other friendships just can’t quite have. They are deep, they are meaningful, and they stir our affections for Jesus. (click here to read more)

On grief: How to Grieve Like a Christian by Tim Challies

Grieve hopefully. When Paul says, “you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” he is really saying something like, “we grieve, but not in the same way as all those other people who have no hope.” Or, “even though we do grieve, we grieve differently from those other hopeless people.” Again, we see there’s a distinctly Christian way to express grief. We must not grieve like unbelievers do. What is this Christian form of grieving? Christians experience grief but without despair, sorrow but without defeat, sadness but without hopelessness. It’s true sorrow and true hope. (click here to read more)

On marriage and hard times: When Marriage Is Filled with Worse, Poorer, and Sickness by Sarah Walton

If your marriage is struggling under the weight of trials and both you and your spouse have a desire to follow Christ, I would like to encourage you with a few ways that the suffering we endure throughout marriage can be a disguised blessing to bring about a richer, deeper, Christ-centered marriage. And if you are married to a spouse who is not following the Lord, I pray that God will use those trials to draw him/her to a saving relationship with Christ.

So how can the trials that we face in our marriage bring about a greater richness to our relationship with Christ and one another? (click here to read more)

On singleness: Are You ‘Not Yet Married’? by Marshall Segal

Being “not-yet-married” is not about dwelling on the negative. If you are in Christ, you are never again defined by what you are not. You have too much in him to be discouraged about not having anything else — even things as important in this life as a job, or a spouse, or children. The things that fill our lives and make us happy here are simple grains of sand compared to the endless beaches of knowing Christ.

It was, after all, an unmarried man who said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8–9). (click here to read more)

We Need Others (a daily proverb)

This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. ~Proverbs 18:1

There are some times in life where we need to get alone. We need to spend time just between ourselves and God, in prayer or in reading his word. We have times where we need to think and ponder in a quiet place.

But if we live in the habit of isolation, then we neglect the great reality: We need others. We need a community of people around us.

When God first created mankind, he started with Adam as the only human. Parading the animals before him, none was found to be a suitable companion to the lone man. Against this reality, God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

Adam didn’t suffer from a lack of being around other creatures. He was, however, isolated as a human being.

When we think of Jesus saving us from our sins, we often couch it in terms of a personal relationships with Jesus. This certainly is an aspect of it. We will not be saved from our sins because of our parents’, grandparents’, friends’, or spouse’s relationship with God. We need to know Jesus ourselves. We each need to repent of our own sins and place our own faith in Christ as Savior.

But when Jesus saves us, he does not leave us isolated in that “personal relationship.” No, he saves us to be a part of a people (Titus 2:14)—his people.

The proverb above considers this from the angle of wisdom and sound judgment. When we isolate ourselves, we have no one else to ask and no one to challenge our thought process. We essentially, then, set ourselves up to be our own god. We see our own knowledge and understanding as absolute, and don’t see the need to grow from the input of others.

But this is a fool’s errand as a wise person realizes their need for wise counsel from others. So, let us be those who realize that we need others in our lives, and let us embrace the community that God intends us to be.

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A Great Crown (a daily proverb)

This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. ~Proverbs 12:4

Many of the proverbs focus on family and relationships. We’ve already seen from the opening chapters how Solomon launches several volleys against adultery and prostitution as well as the men who pursue them. Here, Solomon extols the virtue of a good wife.

Though Solomon did not write Proverbs 31, this verse stands as a foretaste of what is to come. There, a woman of excellence is one who loves God and loves others, especially her husband and children. Such a wife is a precious thing who receives great praise from those she holds dear.

In a few brief words, Solomon urges wives to be such a woman. Married or unmarried, any woman who desires to an excellent wife should seek to work on the virtues of her character. These would include such things as Paul describes as “the fruit of the Spirit” for those who belong to Jesus: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Any woman who strives for such traits will be a beautiful adornment for her husband.

But though Solomon directs this proverb at women, there is also a direction for men. This is true not only in the type of wife a man is to look for but also in the type of husband a man should be. An “excellent husband” likewise will be a shining adornment for his wife.

No, Solomon does not use those words, but when we look at the rest of the proverbs—all of his sayings that are either directed at men or directed at the reader regardless of gender—we find similar, repeated calls for good character. So a man, married or unmarried, should seek to be one who loves God and others, and who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. Such character should be on display daily, especially to those who see him with his guard let down.

Ladies, seek to be a woman of excellence and therefore a wife of excellence. Men, seek to be a man of excellence and therefore a husband of excellence. By doing so, you will be a source of happiness for your spouse.

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Good Reads 07.20.16 (on: the Holy Spirit, soul mates, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered recently from across the internet. Enjoy!

On the Christian being the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit: What a Wonder! by Tim Challies

You, Christian, are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God makes his habitation within you. He has joyfully, willingly, come to you so you can be near to him. This knowledge, this wonder, has powerful consequences.

It gives assurance. If the Holy Spirit has made his home within you, you can be sure that he will never abandon you. Who or what could ever drive God out of his dwelling place? Is Satan powerful enough to displace the Spirit? Of course not. Is your sin or your desire to sin or your unbelief enough to drive him out once he has come in? Never! Knowing that you have the Spirit within allows you to live free from the terror of abandonment, free from the fear that God will give up on you. God has not only chosen to do something to you from without but has also chosen to take up residence within. (click here to read more)

On busyness and Bible reading (note: this post was directed toward moms, but there’s good advice for everyone): How a Busy Mom Can Stay Consistent in the Word by Courtney Reissig

We all have different capacities and we all go through different seasons of life. Maybe you are a mom with young children. You’re not going to be able to go back to your times of reading the Word for an hour or two hours, having an uninterrupted devotional time. So you must have realistic expectations for yourself going into motherhood. Maybe for you that’s saying, “I’m only going to get ten or fifteen minutes in.” Or, “I’m okay with the disruptions as I read.” Be realistic. Realistic expectations will help you not feel so defeated when your plan goes awry. (click here to read more)

On relationships and “soul mates”: Searching for a Soul Mate by J. Alan Branch

To expect another fallen human to “make us whole” is to commit an idolatrous act, placing a created being before the Creator.  Only Jesus Christ can offer us genuine wholeness. Christ’s mission was to make provision for the redemption of men from sin.  Colossians 1:22 says, “But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him.” God’s desire is to make us whole by making us holy.  Likewise, when Christians are looking for a spouse, our primary goal should be to seek someone who shares a desire for holiness. (click here to read more)

On the value of boredom: I’m Never Bored and I Think it Might Be Killing Me by Stephen Altrogge

Now I’m literally never bored. It’s actually kind of pathetic. If I have more than 3 seconds of free time, I’ x  m on my phone, scoping out Facebook, reading headlines on ESPN, comparing my life to other people’s on Instagram. I am SUBSCRIBED TO 28 PODCASTS (even I can see that’s ridiculous). Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the cable login I “borrow” from my friend, I have 343 years of television to catch up on. Because I have the impulse control skills of a small circus monkey, I am constantly purchasing $2.99 books for my Kindle, not because I’ll read them but because, honestly, who can pass up such a deal?

Lately, I’ve been increasingly concerned about my lack of boredom. (click here to read more)

 

Good Reads 04.20.16 (on: relationships, Bible reading, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On Bible reading: How To Read the Bible for Yourself by John Piper

When we read, we do not generally really think until we are faced with a problem to be solved, a mystery to be unraveled, or a puzzle to be deciphered. Until our minds are challenged, and shift from passive reading to active reading, we drift right over lots of insights.

Asking ourselves questions is a way of creating a problem or a mystery to be solved. That means the habit of asking ourselves questions awakens and sustains our thinking. It stimulates our mind while we read, and drives us down deep to the real meaning of a passage. (click here to read more)

On relationships: Why There’s No Such Thing as a Soul Mate by Debra K. Fileta

All over the world there are Christian young men and women waiting for that magical moment when they will come face to face and eye to eye with the person that will stir their heart and connect deeply with their soul. For the one who will complete them and make them whole. There is no such thing as a person who will complete our souls, because according to God’s word, we are only made complete in Him. (click here to read more)

On the Christian life and the power of the Holy Spirit: Let’s Ponder This Schaeffer Quote At Least Once a Week by Ray Ortlund

At the linked page you will find a brief, but powerful quote from Francis Schaeffer: click here to visit The Gospel Coalition

On Christianity, homosexuality, and the image of God: Aren’t Gay People Made in the Image of God? by Ricky Alcantar

The Bible says that—unique among the stars and the mountains—humanity was created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27). We are created beings, in the image of God, and precious to God. In light of this every single human being is something glorious and should be treated as such with dignity, value, and respect. This means each person’s value and worth are rooted beyond cultural consensus, rooted in the very fabric of creation. (click here to read more)

On life and the church: 3 Reasons You Absolutely, Positively Must Go to Church This Weekend by Michael Kelley

…when we do the very simple act of just show up, to not take a Sunday off, we are recognizing some key truths about God, ourselves, and the church herself. And these are the deeper reasons, the ones that go beyond the fact that you have a good preacher or you like the music or all your friends will be there – these are the deeper reasons why you must take heed the words of the writer of Hebrews: “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). (click here to read more)