Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2018

This is my response to this article:

http://www.heresthejoy.com/2018/07/the-unbelieving-spouse-is-sanctified-by-the-believer-examining-1-corinthians-713-16-part-one/

Hi.  I appreciate your willingness to consider the scriptures and investigate them.  I do have some concerns about what it written here and I’d like to share what I have found in my own studies and compare some notes.  Please do not take offense, rather, keep an open dialogue about these matters so we might be able to present the truth together in unity and precision.

You begin your article by asking some questions and then answering them.  I’d like to address that.

“Who is the unbelieving husband?”

The scripture itself never makes the distinction that you are making here – that this only applies to those unbelievers who claim to be unbelievers.  If we take the Word at face value and read it in a straightforward manner, it simply says, “…a husband unbelieving…”

An unbelieving husband is just that.  A husband who does not believe.  It does not say a husband who does not believe and admits it.  It does not say a husband who does not believe and does not pretend to believe.  (Lying is part of being an unbeliever, right?)  It simply says an unbelieving husband.

Many, many, many bona fide unbelievers in our world today profess belief.  In fact, I would argue that the majority of the organized church today could be properly termed unbelievers.  Yet all of them profess.

An unbeliever is known by their fruit, not their profession of faith or lack thereof.  Therefore, the first claim you have made in expositing this text is incorrect.  Everything coming after is skewed due to missing the mark here, but let’s look at the following statements as well and why this is true.

Let’s say a man (or woman) does change after the honeymoon as you suggest.  Perhaps they indeed were pretending to love God and they truly do not.  They are completely different than before in very bad ways.

This is the very situation the scripture is calling the believing spouse to obey in!  If it were not so, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.  If my spouse is not a believer – whether I knew it at the front of the relationship or I found out later, the command is still the same.  If he/she wants to stay, I exemplify Christ, love, serve, and submit until that spouse 1. Dies, 2. Is converted, 3. Becomes physically abusive or 4. Commits adultery.  I would argue that God even redeems marriages who experience abuse and adultery because I am living proof.

Now, in this case you refer to 1 Corinthians 5:11:13.  Paul is addressing leaders within the church as well as the entire congregation – not an individual.  The reason that is important to note is because when we read the bible, context is everything.  The Corinthian church at this time was allowing gross immorality to go on within its walls – even approving of it – without proper church discipline, correction, or accountability.  That is exactly what we see today within the church in many areas of sin, but, most importantly for our focus, abusive marriages.

Paul’s whole point here is that it is the job and responsibility of THE CHURCH to hold men (and women!) accountable for sin.  Not only the church, but the victimized spouse as well.  That is always our call when someone is sinning against another person and fails to repent when first approached.  (See Matthew 18.)  When they refuse to do so or worse, victim blame and coddle offenders, the church becomes irrelevant and abusive itself.  Welcome to Churchianity 2018.

Again, this is an experience I personally have lived out thrice over in three separate churches among several others who contributed.  The church refuses to deal with the sin of the offending spouse and instead throws both the offender and the victim out of the church in order to avoid “problems.” Yes, three times excommunicated and I’ve yet to be told why.  But I know why and that is another reason I had to respond to this post.

This whole duck and run deserter mentality of the church as a whole – the spouse, the culture, and everyone who is ever confronted is getting so tiring and it is literally going to be the end of the truth in our generation if people do not start dialoging about differences, thinking critically, and allowing open communication even with those with whom they disagree.

Anyway, you go on to Romans 16:17-18. Romans is about false teachers who flatter and deceive by their charm.  If that describes my spouse, first of all, he is not deceiving me because I already know better if I am in this situation.  Secondly, because I am not deceived by him, I can expose him AS I SHOULD for his own good, my own good, and the purity of the church.  And that’s the prescription for a spouse whose unbelieving spouse is deceiving others with false teaching and flattery.  Expose them.  The problem actually comes when the church disbelieves you and continues to listen to lies and flattery because it’s easier than dealing with a man who is unstable.

I don’t dessert or avoid my spouse on account of his or her divisiveness.  That would contradict what the Bible has already told me to do when I find myself married to an unbeliever which is to let him or her stay and dwell with me.  The Bible never, ever contradicts itself so we must reconcile these two passages and let scripture interpret itself rather than making up our own ideas.  We must place greater value on the passage that speaks most specifically and most directly to my particular situation (1 Cor 7:13) rather than the one I am inferring and applying to my situation that is actually speaking most specifically to a completely different kind of situation (not marriage, but false teachers within the church.)

Next, you talk about what it means to be “pleased to dwell” with the unbeliever.

If you are the believer and you are not doing all you possibly can to love, serve, and, yes, speak to the unbeliever especially within a household and a marriage (but why stop there —that is the most obvious place where this inclusion and dialogue MUST take place with an unbeliever, but it must also happen at work, at the grocery store, and, absolutely 100% AT CHURCH because THESE are the very people whom God has commanded us to go out and share the gospel with!!!), but if you are not doing this in your house and your marriage, you are most definitely ALSO in sin.  Make no mistake, the scripture does not just apply to those who are offending us.  It also applies to us when we are being offended.  It’s still true no matter how I feel and the Word of God is not a book of suggestions, it is a book of instructions and commands.

If we are disgusted at the sight of our own spouse because he is an unbeliever who treats us and others poorly, we have some repenting of our own to do.  Amen and amen.

As far as what you’ve stated about a root of bitterness, please refer to and read Wendy Alsup’s articles on this passage.  It is very well-said and eye-opening for this argument.  You can find them here:

https://theologyforwomen.org/2011/07/what-bitterness-really-is.html
https://theologyforwomen.org/2014/06/the-root-of-bitterness-at-mars-hill-church.html

You go on about if we are loved by our spouse, then it makes sense to be able to sanctify them through our Christ-like behavior.  Of course it makes sense, because if that’s the case then it’s easy.  Saying that misses the whole point of why it needs to be said in the first place.  Again, the scripture makes no distinction regarding whether the unbelieving spouse loves us or shows love properly to or even treats us kindly or poorly.  We are to live holy, serve Christ by serving them, loving them, and being an example of godliness no matter what they do – as we are with ALL unbelievers in fact – unless and until we are in physical danger or abandoned by that spouse.  That’s what the scripture teaches and I would bet all I own on that fact.

Lastly, what you say about being sanctified does not line up with the context either.  Think about it.  Just as bad company corrupts good character, if I was with Jesus all day every day, I would become different.  That’s what this is.  I SHOULD be hanging around Jesus every day if I am in this situation (or otherwise) –becoming like him even in his suffering, humility, and allowing him to comfort and defend me and while I look more and more like him, my unbelieving spouse (and everyone around me) may indeed change.  That is absolutely what the scripture is teaching here whether our modern eyes and ears are willing to hear and accept it or not.

I know that I know that God and His Word are altogether faithful and true because this was my life!!  My marriage was worse than bad but was redeemed and completely restored after 14 years of pain and hardship.  God is faithful to his Word and his people and I now have the very best marriage I could have imagined.  We just celebrated 18 years.  Let God be true and every man a liar.  Amen.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Key to Leadership

How many Christian leaders do you know that are actually embarrassed to rely on the world to help them?  Ezra was that kind of guy.  Ezra chapter 8 gives us a look at some real godly leadership.

Ezra had just been given literally everything he needed from the king himself.  He was given peace, men, authority, money and goods, tax exemption, and full trust to teach and to judge among the men he was going to serve.  The king had given all this to Ezra and sent him off to his home in Jerusalem after many years of exile in a foreign country.  Ezra had witnessed about His about how great, mighty, powerful, and able His God was to the king and all his men.  When Ezra sets out to leave, what he does and does not do is worth noting and meditating upon.  Let’s consider Ezra’s initial actions as leader of God’s people.

First, Ezra gathered all the men he had with him and figured out who was there.  He recognized that some men, the Levites, were missing so he sent for them and they came.  Once all the men he needed were present, the very first thing he did was call a fast.

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”  So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” ~Ezra 8:21-24

Responsible men must rely on God, not self.  At first glance Ezra’s refusal to ask the king for soldiers and horses for protection on this journey may seem prideful or even foolish.  But, given the context, we can see that at the very root of Ezra’s intent is a great faith in God’s providence and humility about himself.

Think about it.  The men travelling with Ezra are strong, equipped, leading, able-bodied men with authority over others.  They are heads of their fathers’ households.  One would think these guys could hold their own.  Still, they are not so foolish to think for one moment that they can get themselves and everyone else where they need to go without God.  Self-sufficiency is of Satan because nothing is more offensive to God than pride.  These guys know better.  They have been humbled by their time in exile.  They understand that God wants us to come to him, to rely on him, and to humble ourselves before we do anything – but especially when we have responsibility over other people and are embarking on a new and difficult task.  Notice what Ezra’s fast is for in verse 21.

Firstly, the fast to a way of humbling themselves.  When we know God, we will know ourselves and our ever-present tendencies to be prideful and foolish.  Because Ezra knows God, he knows his need to humble himself  before God and put away any pride he may have over his newfound leadership roles.

Next, the fast was called to implore God for safety and protection for the leaders themselves, the children under their care, and the good they were carrying with them.

I pray for people all the time in the hospital.  Many times, what I find, especially with men but women as well, is that they will ask me to pray for everyone except themselves – when they, in fact, are presently in a position where they are the ones who need prayer the very most!  They will tell me that they never ask God for anything for themselves.  At first, this practice may seem unselfish, but when we line it up with scripture we find that it is not only unwise but it is also rooted in pride.  I bring it up because here we find just the opposite.  Ezra and his leading men call a fast to pray for their own protection before anyone else’s.  They aren’t so arrogant as to think they don’t need anything from God like everyone else under them does.  They know that if they are killed or captured on the way home that it will leave all who depend on them unprotected as well.  They pray and fast for themselves and their own safety knowing they need God just as much as their children do.

They also pray and fast for their children.  A good leader will think of all who are under his care and be responsible about their spiritual, physical, and emotional protection as much as he is his own.  Responsible men do not leave those whom God has entrusted to them to fend for themselves.  They sacrificially fast and pray for those who are weaker and strengthen others through prayer and intercession.

Lastly, Ezra and his men pray for protection for their material items.  They have been entrusted with a great amount of gold, silver, wheat, wine, oil, salt, etc.  They have been given much, much wealth and provision by the king and king’s treasury.  To not pray for protection of their goods during this journey would be to treat them as unimportant.  These were the very things they would need in order to accomplish their purposes in Jerusalem.  These were the very blessings of God given for their success in carrying out the will of God in the temple and among his people.  God wants to be included in our handling of the material things he so generously gives to us.  It all belongs to him.  We are just using these things on his behalf and in order to be good stewards, we must pray his blessing and protection over all that which he entrusts to our care.

Now, notice what Ezra says next.  This is the crux of the entire passage.

22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”  So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” ~Ezra 8:22-24

The reason Ezra called the fast and refused to ask for soldiers and horsemen is because he was ashamed to ask for worldly help after he had testified to the greatness and power of his God.

When is the last time you were embarrassed to ask for help that came from anyone or anything besides God?  Consider this…Ezra had favor with the king.  He could have asked for literally anything and been acquiesced.  Soldiers and horsemen were not an unreasonable request for this dangerous journey.  Many might even argue that he needed them.  But Ezra cares about one thing that is evidently much more important than his own comfort and ease and that is God’s glory.  GOD’S glory. God’s GLORY.  God’s glory matters immensely to learned little scribe Ezra.  Ezra cares so greatly for God’s good name that he absolutely refuses to allow anyone to think God needs any human king or kingdom to assist him.  King Artaxerxes may have been the most generous and gracious king Ezra had ever met, but he wasn’t getting God’s glory.  God would get his glory and he would do it by disallowing Ezra to accept worldly protection.  No one was going to be able to say King Artaxerxes led the Jews to Jerusalem out of exile.  Only God could do that.  And do it he did.

We find from the conclusion of the chapter that, “The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way…” (Ezra 8:31)

When given a responsibility or leadership, prove faithful.  Pray first, before you set out.  Fast for yourself, all those under you, and your goods.  We cannot accomplish anything apart from God.  We cannot do this life alone and we cannot save ourselves.  Christ is the only one who can lead us out of the captivity and exile of sin and lead us home, and he will be the only one who gets the glory for our salvation.  Never be ashamed to need God.  Be ashamed NOT to trust him.  Amen!

Read Full Post »

weary

Her rest is overdue.  She fights.  She’s well past the point of being tired.  Still, she runs.  With every once of fire she has left, she tries to hide from me.

I find her.

She cries.

I pick her up.  She squirms.  She screams.  She fights.

I put her down in the very place she does not want to stay.  I speak softly.  She grimaces.  I play her favorite song.  She frowns.  I put my hand on her face.  She quiets.  I sing to her.  She closes her eyes.

I hold her hand.  Soon, her countenance lifts.  She reaches up.  She fears I will leave.  She tries to pull me down into her space.  “I can’t come down there.  I’m too big.  I won’t fit.”

I sing a few minutes more and then we pray.

“Goodnight, little one.  See you in the morning,” I whisper as I walk out.

I begin again.  Page number one.  My new notebook begs to be briefed.

She is me.

My rest is overdue.  I fight.  I am well past the point of being tired.  Still, I run.  With every once of fire I have left, I try to hide from Him.

He finds me.

I cry.

He picks me up.  I squirm.  I scream.  I fight.

He puts me down in the very place I do not want to stay.  He speaks softly.  I grimace.  He plays my favorite song.  I frown.  He puts my hand on His face.  I quiet.  He sings to me.  I close my eyes.

He holds my hand.  Soon, my countenance lifts.  I reach up.  I fear He will leave.  I try to pull Him down into my space.  “I can’t come down there.  I’m too big.  I won’t fit,”  He says.

He sings a few minutes more and then we pray.

“Goodnight, little one.  See you in the morning,” He whispers as He walks out.

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
    carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am he,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you. 
I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save. ~Isaiah 46:3-4

Read Full Post »