Christianity 201

December 31, 2018

Starting Another Chapter

Col 4: 5 KJVWalk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Eph 516 KJVRedeeming the time, because the days are evil.

The KJV uses the term “redeeming the time” in these two verses.   The second verse appears in the NASB as,

making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

The other verse appears in the NASB as

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

The question I ask myself is this:  Did I make the most of my time and my opportunities in 2018?   And then:  Will I endeavor to make the most of my time and my opportunities in 2019?

While some current Christian writers emphasize the importance of rest, others talk about the “stewardship of our time.”   Time management is considered enough in scripture that it is not a stretch to say that scripture introduces a “doctrine of time usage.”

But like everything else in scripture, there is a place for balance in doctrine.   Think of a pendulum swinging back and forth.   Only when it stops swinging does it find the place of balance in the middle. There are two aspects to the Bible’s teaching on time management; time stewardship.

There is a time for action — The one who knows to do something right and doesn’t do it; that’s a sin.   But there’s a time for restBe still and know that He is God.

Time management by Biblical standards involves more than a simple “resting” or “action” theory.   It requires skill and wisdom to find the balance.

So more questions:   Did I learn to rest in God in 2018?   Will I learn more about resting in God in 2019?

Nobody said this was easy.


Each of us is about to write another chapter of our lives. The turning of the pages of the calendar may be more significant to some people than it is to others, but the start of a new year is always a time to both look back and look forward. For that reason, I think Steve Green’s song is such a great way to end 2018.

This isn’t my all-time favorite song, or style, but when Steve Green or anyone else is taking their lyrics directly from scripture it creates something bigger than the song itself. When they were much younger I asked my kids if they can tell when, in the middle of devotional book we’re reading, the paragraph moves into a Bible quotation, and they both understood exactly where I was going with this question. There’s something about the power of God’s word that is so easily identified; it stands out from what the devotional writer is saying as though it was underlined, in bold face type, in giant print, or printed in bright orange.

The song’s key verse source is Philippians 1:6, but I’ll give you the verses that precede and follow for full context:

Phil 1:5(NIV) because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

I don’t what you or I are facing in 2019, but we are each, in God’s eyes, a work in progress. And he doesn’t abandon his projects.

All God’s best for the new year.


Mission Statement: Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of the Christian blogosphere. An individual article may be posted even if some or all readers might not agree with other things posted at the same blog, and two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives. The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading.

January 14, 2017

6 Roadblock to Christian Growth

We’ve featured popular Charismatic Christian author J. Lee Grady here several times, but not in the past few years. I really enjoy the balance his writing provides. This appeared at Charisma News a few days ago; his writing can also be found at the Charisma blog Fire in my Bones. I encourage you to read it there by clicking the link in the title below.

6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

J. Lee GradyA few days ago, I was driving from my home in Georgia to a church in Alabama to preach for five days. I didn’t think the predicted “snowpocalypse” would hinder my trip until I arrived in the town of Anniston—where state troopers had blocked the main road due to ice on bridges.

The road was closed, and I couldn’t get to Birmingham on Highway 431. When I tried a different route, I ran into more ice and more roadblocks. This had never happened to me in Florida—we don’t have ice on roads. So I was stuck. I had to turn around and go home.

Thankfully, my host rescheduled our meetings, and I arrived at his church two days later, after all the feared ice had melted. But the whole experience reminded me that there are times when we can’t get where we need to go because our roads are blocked.

As Christians, we are called to move forward in our faith. The apostle Paul set the example for us when he said: “I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). You are not supposed to stay in the same place spiritually year after year. God wants you to grow. But often we get stuck, usually because of one of these six roadblocks:

1. Lack of spiritual hunger. Let’s face it: The main reason many Christians get stuck in a rut is they are happy to be there. But God is looking for people who refuse to be content with where they were last year. He is calling you higher. You must ask the Holy Spirit to set your heart ablaze with a desire for more of His presence and power.

David is our example of spiritual hunger. He wrote: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God” (Ps. 42:1). He actually felt lousy when he wrote those words, so we can’t use our discouragement as an excuse. David fanned the flames of spiritual fervor even when he felt like quitting.

2. Plain old laziness. Many of us become motivated at the beginning of the year to pray, study the Bible, go back to school or lose weight. But nobody wins a race by sprinting the first 50 feet and then sitting down. Winners must stay in the game. You must be determined to finish what you start instead of leaving a trail of aborted attempts.

Paul exhorted the Romans to be “fervent in spirit,” but first he warned them not to be “lazy” (see Romans 12:11-12). The Greek word used here, okneros, is the same word Jesus used in the parable of the “lazy servant” who didn’t invest the money he was given by his master. If you are sitting on your dreams or procrastinating when you should be growing your faith, the “lazy” label applies. Don’t just start and then give up. Be consistent and keep going.

3. Unpacked baggage. The Israelites who left Egypt could have marched into the Promised Land in a matter of weeks, but they ended up in a holding pattern for 40 years. Why? They were dragging their sin with them. The more weight you drag behind you, the less likely it is that you will reach your destination.

I knew a Christian guy who had a thriving ministry to college students. But because he refused to get help for his pornography habit, his addiction prevented him from functioning normally. It finally weighed him down so much that it destroyed both his marriage and ministry. You may think you can “manage” your sin, but it is more powerful than you are. You can’t move forward while carrying a load of shame and addictions. Repent, confess your weakness to someone else and get free.

4. Fear of change. Many people feel a tug in their hearts that says: Start that Bible study. Go on that mission trip. Write that book. Launch that business. But they never get past step one because they feel frozen in their tracks. Nothing will keep you in spiritual limbo like fear. It paralyzes.

Some people keep their dreams inside them for decades—and then they take them to the grave. If you want to grow, you must take risks. Don’t let your fear of public speaking, airplanes, crowds, strangers or people’s criticism stop you from trusting in the God who is bigger than all those things.

5. Shallow relationships. Who are you hanging around with? Abraham had to part ways with Lot because they had very different goals. Lot had a selfish motive, and Abraham was fully surrendered to God’s plan. If you spend all your time with selfish people who are content to live spiritually fruitless lives, you will end up just like them.

If you want to move forward spiritually in 2017, don’t expect the crowd to go with you. Some people don’t want God’s presence. Don’t let them drag you down. Be willing to find new friends who will support your spiritual commitment.

6. A religious spirit. Religious people build memorials to honor what God did in 1967, sing songs from that era and write books about “the way we’ve always done it.” Yet when the Holy Spirit calls them to “sing … a new song” (Psalm 96:1), or if He starts doing “a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19a), they get offended. They insist God must move the exact same way He did 50 years ago.

But God does not stay in the same place or do things the same way. His character is unchangeable, but He always has a fresh word and a new anointing to pour on His people. He loves to surprise and overwhelm us. Don’t let religious inflexibility keep you from experiencing the adventure of following His Spirit.

J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression.

October 30, 2016

Living in the Desert

spiritual-desertby Russell Young

The desert is a dry lifeless place.  It is uncomfortable and fails to yield fruit. Not many would choose to live there and yet the LORD led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years to humble and to test them concerning obedience to his commands. (Deut 8:2).  They had proclaimed their right to his blessings when they applied the blood of the Passover lamb to the lintel of their doorposts in Egypt.  They had made the proclamation that they belonged to Israel and that Yahweh was their God.  Of the 600,000 men who had left Egypt all except for two were to die in the desert. Because of their disobedience and rebellion God had said, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” (Num 14:20─23 NIV)

The Israelites began the journey with the intent of finding God’s “rest” but were unable to find the land of plenty. Those who call themselves “believers” should recognize that they, too, are on a very similar journey.   They have left Egypt—this world—and have begun the journey to find rest from their labors.  God’s rest can be entered today, (Heb 4:7), although few would acknowledge that they are living in a state of rest; their situation might more fully be depicted as a desert.

Many struggle with their faith. They know deep down in their hearts that God is there.  They have heard many promises from his Word, yet the life promised them has escaped their experience.  Disillusionment creeps in, followed by doubt.  Is God real? Is the Bible truth? Does God care for me? Why am I not enjoying him? Yet they clutch to the assurance of their “saving faith” and dare not let go. Life continues to be a struggle.  The realities of providing food, shelter, and clothing for family, and the pressure to meet wants causes stress, frustration, and conflict. Pressure is increased by requests to contribute in some way to the church.  Their life has become busier and even less fulfilling.  Not only is peace lacking but guilt has become their constant companion. They dutifully journey to church each week and seek some confidence in their belonging by taking on responsibilities as time and opportunity permit. The source of power and freedom, however, has yet to be learned and that power and freedom has yet to be appropriated. Their experience does not measure up to the “truths” promoted by those more informed in God’s Word.

On the outside, all looks in order, but on the inside they feel empty. Many “believers” live this life of dissatisfaction. Although they would dearly like it otherwise, they know the futility of their efforts and may even feel that they have been abandoned by God, the one they desire to please above all else. They know that God has promised peace and rest for the faithful. Why has such a life evaded them?  They are living in the desert!

Like the Israelites, believers today are on the great journey to Canaan.  The journey, if they are trusting and obedient, will take them from where they are to where God wants them to be. It demands the faith and trust of a child, faith that is beyond a person’s common understanding of faith.  It demands faith that has been learned by experience to trust that God knows what is good for them.  It demands contentment with provision that is often less than that which is the common experience in today’s affluent western culture.  God was not happy about the complaints that the Israelites had made concerning lack of water and food and he is not happy about our complaints, voiced or otherwise, concerning lack of the things we feel are deserved or needed.

Completing the journey demands recognition that those who claim the name of Christ do not reside in this world and its interests have not hold on them. They do not have time for them or need of them.  They are merely passing through this world as aliens. (1 Pet 2:11) The journey demands the willingness and trust to allow God to be on the throne of their lives to find enjoyment in him.

Those who are caught up in the desert will live a dry fruitless life.  Like the Israelites they will yearn for the vegetables of Egypt and for what they see as their food–the wants of everyday life—being met through slavery to the world.

Faith demands that, for the most part, we depart from the known and the demands of the flesh, and live by promise in the unknown. It demands that the priorities of our lives change, and it sees wealth as being eternal rather than temporal.  It requires a transformation of focus to obedience and contentment in the blessings granted through righteous living and an understanding and a recognition of the sovereignty of God. Decisions are no longer the believers to make; their path is no longer theirs to direct.

The Israelites grumbled and complained.  Their minds went back to Egypt and all that was available in that evil country and they died with corrupted hearts and in discontentment.  Believers today have been commanded to learn a lesson from them.  There is only one way to escape the desert and that is to prove the faithfulness of Christ in their lives so that they might follow him and be lead to the place of rest. “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hen 5:11 NIV)

The desert cannot be left without a heart that is obedient to Christ and is content with his determination of its needs, the situations which would shape and form the believer’s heart and soul for eternity. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jn 2:15 NIV)

The desert is a place of testing. Those who left Egypt except for two failed the test.  Their hearts were fixed on that place of slavery.  Like them, many of this generation will never leave it but will find their end in that dry, fruitless place, discontented and disillusioned.


Further reading: Today’s graphic image comes from an article What To Do When I Am Spiritually Dry? at the blog, The Reluctant Skeptic.


eternal-salvation-russell-youngRussell Young’s book is in stores and available now in print and eBook.  The title is Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? It is available through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  9781512757514 $17.99 US

July 11, 2015

Reverse Engineering The Promises

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. (same verse + 21 and 22, The Message)

A few days ago, we re-ran a piece on Thinking Out Loud that has also appeared twice here at C201, though not for three years. Apparently this time around, it really resonated with some people.

The idea was to look at areas in my life where it might seem like “it’s not working” and ask ourselves if maybe we’re doing something wrong.

We need to watch the logic of this however. A Biblical statement of promise such as, “If you do _____, then I [God] will do ______ …” is of the form “If ‘A” then ‘B’.” But we can’t logically automatically assume from that, “If ‘not-B’ then ‘not-A.” Moreover, some of the promises in scripture are guiding principles of how things work. For example, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it;” is a statement of general principle, but not an iron-clad assurance that every child raised in the love of Christ will not wander from the faith. Clearly, some do. (I realize some will say, ‘I have to believe that eventually they find their way back, or the Bible isn’t true.’ I guess we can debate that some time!)

All that to say, here’s what I wrote as it appeared (without this long introduction) a few days ago…
 
 

If I’m not getting the desires of my heart,

Maybe I’m not delighting myself in the Lord


If I’m not finding my paths being made straight,

Maybe I’m not trusting in the Lord with all my heart.


If I’m not finding God is adding good things to my life,

Maybe I’m not seeking first His Kingdom.


If it doesn’t seem like God is working in all things for His glory,

Maybe I’m not loving God or trying to live according to His purpose.


If it doesn’t feel like God is hearing from heaven, healing the land and forgiving sin,

Maybe it’s because as His people, we’re not humbling ourselves, seeking his face and turning from our wicked ways.


If it doesn’t seem like God is lifting me up,

Maybe I’m not humbling myself in His sight.

 

April 9, 2013

Being a Disciple

While looking at the various blogs listed at Faithful Bloggers, I noticed there were only five indicated as being for men. Five out of at least a couple thousand. I investigated Steve Becker’s Intersections4Men and this one about being a disciple caught my eye. As always you’re encouraged to read these devotionals at their original website

This is one the toughest things for me to talk about because it is one of the hardest things for me to do.  Sure people know that I believe in God and that I am a Christian.  They know that if they ask me something I will tell them.  They know that I could talk to them about Christ, but I don’t often do it.  Again, this will be difficult to write about and may even end up helping me be a better disciple than anyone else.

First and foremost, we need to determine what a disciple is.  For that, we will look at Webster’s Dictionary as well as Easton’s Bible Dictionary.

Webster’s Dictionary definition of DISCIPLE

1- one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as
a : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel account
b : a convinced adherent of a school or individual

2 – capitalized : a member of the Disciples of Christ founded in the United States in 1809 that holds the Bible alone to be the rule of faith and practice, usually baptizes by immersion, and has a congregational polity

Webster’s reads “one who accepts AND assists in SPREADING the doctrines of another”. Okay, I am really good at accepting. Seriously, accepting is no issue.  As a matter of fact, if it were just about accepting, I would be SuperSteve.  However, the spreading part is where I struggle the most.  Now, some of you may be thinking “But you are spreading by writing this blog”.  While that may be true in some sense of the definition, I believe I could be doing a better job by talking to others and working with them 1-on-1 to share the Word of God with them.

Let’s look at what Easton’s has to say now.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary definition of Disciple

a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist  ( Matthew 9:14 ), and of the Pharisees ( Matthew 22:16 ), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example ( Matthew 10:24 ; Luke 14:26, Luke 14:27, Luke 14:33 ; John 6:69 ).

Easton’s definition scares me and is a lot clearer.  The scary part?  It starts with two words that describe the opposite of me “a scholar”.  Wow, how about some eggs, bacon and a side of added pressure? A scholar?!? Really??? However, when you read on, there is a better description of what is expected from a disciple:

  1. Believes His doctrine – We must believe in the doctrine we are spreading.  This means “without doubt”.  If we are going to excel at spreading the Word of God, we have to be rooted in God’s Word with zero exceptions.  Does that mean we are perfect and never slip up? Heck no! If that were the case, we would have to change our names and I’m not perfect.
  2. Rests on His sacrifice – We have to rest easy on what we know to be true and that is that God sacrificed His only Son on a cross for all of our sin.  All sin past, present and future.  This sacrifice was the only thing we have that bridges us to God.
  3. Imbibes His spirit – Imbibe is a new word for me, so bear with me.  It loosely translates to ‘drink or absorb’.  This means we need to drink in from His spirit.  We need to let ourselves be led and directed by the Holy Spirit and trust that wherever it takes us, He is in charge and does things for a reason.
  4. Imitates His example – This is about the most self-explanatory item on the list.  We need to imitate Christ’s example.  We are to be kind, loving, gentle servants in everything we do.  Again, easier said than done, but it is part of what we are directed to do with our lives to become disciples of the Lord.

Spreading God’s Word is the only way we can bring others to Christ.  There is no way around that.  I mean, if there were no churches and no one to preach God’s Word, how many Christ followers would there be today?  Not many, I can tell you that.  It should not all land on our churches heads to do the work of God.  It is our duty as well to bring others to Him.

Then he said to them all:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.    For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.    What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?    Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:23-26 – NIV)

“But I’m not good at talking to others about God.” I know the feeling folks.  I know the feeling.  However, I am not going to let that stop me.  I can sit and have a conversation for a long time with someone.  I have been told, by more than one person (and ESPECIALLY my wife) that I love to talk and I am willing to talk to just about anyone.  What I need to do is listen more.  I need to listen for the times when someone may be reaching out to me for guidance. I need to be listening for those opportunities that I know are presented to me and be fully prepared with Scripture and a soft open heart to do what I am here for, sharing the Good News.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 – NIV)

Now comes the hard part.  How well are we all doing with this?  I can certainly say that outside of this blog, I need to be doing more.  I have that on my improvement and growth chart now.  Where do the rest of you see yourselves?

The author of today’s post, Steve Becker said in a more recent article that doing this type of writing is probably the last thing he thought he would be qualified for. You can read more in a post titled, Seriously? Me?

December 11, 2012

Journey or Battle?

ESV – Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

CEB – Proverbs 21:31 A horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory belongs to the Lord.

KJV – Ephesians 6:112 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Our focus today is this familiar passage from Ezekiel; seen here in a different translation:

Message – Ezekiel 37: 1-2 God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.

He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry BonesI said, “Master God, only you know that.”

He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”

5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

7-8 I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.

He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”

10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

Our thoughts today are from Mike Breen where this appeared under the title: Is the Christian life best understood as a Journey or a battle?

’Ive been spending a good deal of time in the last few months working on our newest book that is coming out in the spring of 2013…Leading Kingdom Movements. Been tinkering around with it quite a bit.

Wanted to put out a quick thought I’ve been working on in the content for this book that I think you might find interesting…

Ezekiel gives us a brilliant picture of the people of God coming together as dry bones assembling in a valley, and suddenly it is a mighty collection of soldiers. Not one, but a whole army.

It is true that in the Kingdom we are called to be soldiers. But we must remember we are also a covenantal community, which means we are a family. The picture Ezekiel gives us is of a family of soldiers. There needs to be as much emphasis on the family as there is on the soldiers.

What I’ve noticed is that faith traditions tend to veer either towards the Covenant side (family) or the Kingdom side (soldiers). For those who lean on Covenant, life is about the JOURNEY that the covenant community is making together. They live rich, full lives together, but often win very little ground for the Kingdom. On the other side, for those who lean more toward Kingdom, life is about the BATTLE that is being fought for the Kingdom. Often they gain ground for the Kingdom, but they can quickly lose that ground because there are so many casualties along the way. That happens because they don’t attend to the family as well.

It has to be both covenant and kingdom. It’s a family of soldiers. It’s about a journey through life together as we fight Kingdom battles along the way.

Again, people are often uncomfortable with the one (Journey vs. Battle) that they have seen poorly lived out and throw the baby out with the bath water. But the true task is living out both in a way that does justice to the way the scripture understands the Christian life.

 


Image: Source

November 8, 2012

Some Categorical Statements are Safe Bets

Revelation 2:4b Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…

Revelation 3: 12 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent…

Revelation 3: 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

Hosea 6: 1“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
    but he will heal us;
he has injured us
    but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will restore us,
    that we may live in his presence.”

 

Today’s thoughts are constructed a little differently, I hope you’ll follow the thread of this discussion. You are presented with a number of statements and are being asked to be a little bit analytical of what you’re reading.

There’s someone reading this and you’ve got a pain in your neck and shoulders.

As I type those words, I don’t actually know them to be true. Given the number of readers of this blog, and given that they are all “computer people” who are given to the strains of sitting at a computer for all or part of the day, it’s a safe bet.

There’s some reading this and you’ve got pain in your neck and shoulders and Jesus wants to heal you.

The first part of the sentence is covered by the law of averages, the second part is a categorical statement based on my belief that healing is the “normal,” but we’re prevented from seeing it frequently because of lack of faith or sin or because it isn’t yet God’s time or because we haven’t asked. In other words, Jesus is still positively disposed and favorably inclined to heal, but because of a variety of factors, we don’t see healing at a rate the first century Christ followers experienced it.

Jesus is healing someone right now of pain in the neck and shoulders.

That statement would be a word of knowledge; were it not a word which I wrote in my own flesh. (Though granted, there may be someone with such a pain for whom my choosing their condition as my “for example,” provides the faith-lift they need to see God really do something special.)

My point is that we can sometimes make categorical statements knowing that they are by no means false.

There’s a man here in church this morning and you’re struggling with an online addiction to pornography.

If the church is bigger than 20 people, I’m betting that it’s not rocket science to safely make that statement.

We know that peoples’ lives are constantly in flux and change when it comes to the things of the Holy Spirit. So it was that I once heard someone say this:

There are two kinds of people here today; you’re either moving toward the cross or moving away from the cross.

Again, not rocket science. Hearts burning ever brighter towards God versus hearts growing cold. It happens. People chomping at the bit for the next steps God has for them, versus people who are a heartbeat away from walking out the church, putting the Bible on the shelf at home, not soon to return to either. It happens.

thecrossThe line is also used in marriage counseling. The pastor will take the husband and wife into the sanctuary and put them on opposite sides of the auditorium facing the platform; then tell them to start walking towards the cross. Then he’ll tell them, “When you’re moving towards the cross, you can’t help but be drawn closer to each other.”

Someone else put it:

There are two kinds of people here, those whose best days spiritual are ahead of them, and those whose best days spiritually are already behind them.

Sadly, some of us know people in the latter situation. Of course, there are no limits on what God can do down the road, and no limits on how he can use even our hardened hearts or closed minds to speak to us.

This is both personal and corporate: We are encouraged to look out for each other. Love and encourage those whose faith is weak; who are in a spiritual valley. Love and celebrate with those who are experiencing mountain top experiences. You don’t need a word of knowledge to know this; the law of averages says there are people around you in both categories. You don’t need to know whether someone falls into one category or the other; you simply reach out to people where you find them, and God will show you what to do next.

I am responsible for my own spiritual health, but I also need to be aware that there are people around me who are writing their own story. I need to support those structures that give them — and give all of us — context to help move towards the cross; to see the best days in our walk with God ahead.

But let’s end by taking it from corporate to personal. So how about you? Best days yet to come, or coasting on some experience that took place years ago? Start moving towards the cross!

Paul Wilkinson (Feb, 2009)

September 3, 2012

Ready for the Fight

Today’s post is an introduction followed by six links to a study on The Armor of God (TAOG) from Ephesians, chapter 6.  The author is David Kenney.  I haven’t linked this piece — titled, Do You Feel Invincible? — here in the intro because of the links that follow.  

NOTE: If family Bible study and devotions isn’t something that takes place in your home, this series of seven short articles is a great place to begin.  Start today with these readings, and the pray together as a family.

Ephesians 613 Thereforetake up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand inthe evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.14 Stand therefore,having fastened on the belt of truth, andhaving put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and,as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.16 In all circumstances take upthe shield of faith, with which you can extinguish allthe flaming darts ofthe evil one;17 and takethe helmet of salvation, andthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I can remember learning about the armor of God using a graphic of a Knight. Literally a British suit of armor. And I guess it doesn’t really matter what image you use when you think of the armor of God, but sometimes it’s nice to have a visual of what Paul would have thought of.

Paul says to pick up the “ponoplia” – this – is the Panoplia. It is the entire, the full suit of armor that a Roman legionnaire would wear. The ponoplia would include your entire military dress including weapons. These Roman soldiers signed up from anywhere to 10-25 years of service. These men were tough as nails and were a military might for almost 2 thousand years.

Sun Tzu was a Chinese philosopher and military strategist. His book, the art of war is infamous.

In his book, Sun Tzu says that “Invincibility lies in the defense.”

Let me ask you something. When life hits you, do you feel invincible? Do you feel like you could stand up and take on the whole world? Do you shout at the sky, “Bring it on! I double dog dare you?”

Or most of the time do you feel like life is impossible? And that any day your world is going to collapse and the enemy is going to win again?

Let me tell you, the average Roman centurion felt invincible. Every day they put this on and went about their duties, these men knew they were the ultimate fighting force in the world – and they fought for the ultimate empire.

And so the Armor of God, is meant to give you that same assurance, that same inner strength – and I would argue that if you don’t feel invincible, then you need to check your gear.

0. Introduction (this article)

1. Belt

2. Breastplate

3. Shoes

4. Sheild

5. Helmet

6. Sword

Image: Jim Wilkens

February 9, 2012

God I Need Patience, and I Need It in a Hurry

Late last year the blog Reign of Faith began a series of articles under the series title Breakthrough.  We’re going to use one here today and another tomorrow.  This one appeared mid-January under the title Breakthrough: Patience.

The element of patience, spoken of in a prior post, is vital to, and on, your journey towards breakthrough. You may feel as though your journey is taking a long time. Maybe you are questioning if you will ever see the promise fulfilled. These feelings and thoughts are from the enemy. He hopes to cause a spiritual abortion within you through your feelings, thoughts, words and actions. Remember, the enemy cannot harm, curse or disable you, but he can get you to harm, curse, or disable yourself.

Maybe you have been waiting months, or even years, for manifestation. I understand how frustration can begin to surface; however, you must rebuke your flesh and subject it to the power of your spirit.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:13-15 NKJV)

Your breakthrough is going to come after your patience has been tested {probably multiple times}. Things are going to seem like they are “going your way” and then take a so-called “turn for the worst”. People around you may begin to place pressure on you, treat you unfairly. Many things can and will happen and they are designed to test and perfect your patience.

Even Jesus, the Son of God, endured a test of His patience, steadfastness, endurance, and conviction.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. (Matthew 4:1, 2 NKJV)

Take note. When did the enemy show up? He began His attacks right after Jesus spent 40 days fasting. The enemy is not going to attack you when you are already headed down the path of destruction or when you are already off course. His attacks will come when you are seeking after God, pressing towards the mark, praying, fasting and getting new revelation. Also notice that verse 2 emphasizes the fact that He was hungry. Satan knows the points of weakness in your flesh {not to be confused with your spirit}. On your journey, before your breakthrough, when you are about to receive, he will send something your way that he knows would have typically bothered you. If worry concerning your finances is something you have done in the past, then he may throw something your way which requires you to pay money you did not feel comfortable giving up. If you are not subjecting your flesh to your spirit, then this may get you in a frenzy.

Learn to recognize areas where you previously struggled. When the enemy attacks those areas, you will be able to recognize those attacks and cast them down. Remain patient throughout every test and trial. Your patience will help propel you forward just like your faith and obedience.

Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:11 NKJV)

Jesus withstood all attacks from the enemy. He was not drawn away by the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:6) nor did He grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9). He continued resisting the devil, whom had no choice but to flee (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8,9).

You will reach the point that God has promised you. Remain faithful, obedient, and patient!

Mission Statement: Christianity 201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of the Christian blogosphere.  An individual article may be posted even if some or all readers might not agree with other things posted at the same blog, and two posts may follow on consecutive days by authors with very different doctrinal perspectives.  The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than the small portion of it we can see from our personal vantage point, and one of the purposes of C201 is to allow readers a ‘macro’ view of the many ministries and individual voices available for reading.

February 5, 2012

Just in Time for Valentine’s: Biblical Ways a Man Gets a Wife

Terrace Crawford‘s posted this the day prior to Valentine’s Day three years ago.  We have a lot of deeper topics here so I thought we’d start out with something light.  If you don’t recognize some of the the situations listed below, you can always look up the story.

  • Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
  • Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)
  • Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. (Moses – Exodus 2:16-21)
  • Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Boaz-Ruth 4:5-10)
  • Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife. (Jacob–Genesis 29:15-30)
  • Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife. (David–1 Samuel 18:27)
  • Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and definitely find someone. (It’s all relative, of course.) (Cain–Genesis4:16-17)
  • Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Xerxes or Ahasuerus–Esther 2:3-4)
  • When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a … woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision,simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Samson–Judges 14:1-3)
  • Kill any husband and take HIS wife (Prepare to lose four sons, though).(David–2 Samuel 11)
  • Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It’s not just a good idea;it’s the law.) (Onana and Boaz–Deuteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)
  • Don’t be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity. (Solomon–1 Kings11:1-3)
  • A wife?…NOT? (Paul–1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

As strange as many of these stories are, there are people who view the unique ways that God works in various in situations as prescriptive for everyone.  That’s not how it works.  God’s calling and outworking of His plan is special for each one of us, and because of God’s infinite infiniteness, he is able to nudge you in ways that will form your singular life journey. 

This applies to us both individually and corporately as the local church.

Sometimes churches try to create formulas following a particular Bible example or copying what God did in another congregation.  But the Bible knows no such carbon copy approach.  In the gospels, Jesus Himself heals two blind men in very different ways, and in His overall dealings with people, He deals with some gently and some harshly.

Hearing God’s voice for your life is going to involve listening to His Word and listening to His Spirit, not looking at what everybody else is doing. 

As the stores in the mall are filled with pink hearts, whether you are single or married or separated or widowed, let the decorations remind you of God’s love for you, and the unique things he wants to do in your life.

~Paul Wilkinson

January 31, 2012

Defining a Sacred Journey

I usually don’t poach book reviews from other blogs, because my primary interest is promoting books I’ve actually read cover-to-cover myself.  However, I was impressed with Daryl Andrews’ comments about The Sacred Journey, and the space he gave back in October to some quotations which are worthy of consideration.  So while there’s no scripture text today, I hope you’ll consider the quotations from the book from Daryl’s blog, Be Love Serve.

I recently received a book, that is part of the Ancient Practices Series with Thomas Nelson publishing, titled The Sacred Journey. The book is authored by Charles Foster. I have no past experience with Charles Foster; however, the title seemed to resonate with where I have been 0f late. Over the last year, I have found myself on some unique travels. Also, I have been on the edge of moving to far off places like England, Seattle, and New Zealand, over the last year or so. So I have spent plenty of time living and thinking about the life of adventure. This book has given me a whole new appreciate for the theology of pilgrimage. Charles Foster has clearly spent some time wrestling with words like follow, kingdom movement and wandering. As Foster says, “Yahweh became a man, he was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrived…he fascinated the people on the edge of things: the underdogs, the despised. He wasn’t a big hit with the urban establishment.” My Jesus is often too suburban and safe, to resemble the God I read in the Bible. Once I picked up this book, I couldnt put it down. It reminded me of how much I have grown in love with stuff, become lazy, and find myself suffocating for something real. However, the book did not stop there. Charles Foster challenges his readers to take Jesus’s words, “follow me” very seriously. The book actively inspires me to exercise my faith, take risks, and enjoy the journey. I highly recommend this book. I will share a few of my favourite quotes. However, you may need to read the book to really understand the context.

– “Pilgrimage can give a taste of Christian radicalism. In fact ‘Christian radicalism’ is a tautology: nothing that is not radical is Christian. That takes some grasping. The road can help us grasp it. A stockbroker on pilgrimage for a week will be able to imagine better what it means to leave everything and follow Jesus. He’ll be on the fringes of places and the fringes of society, and hence in the heart of the kingdom and the company of its elite. For that week he’ll be an ally of Abel, not an enemy. Those little tastes of the kingdom can be addictive.”

– “The Reformers lost the war against pilgrimage. You can’t root out something so fundamental to human identity. Christians of all denominations and none, and people with nothing other than the compulsion to walk, flock to Taize, Santiago, Rome, and Jerusalem. Their motives are perhaps more mixed, or less well defined, than some of those medieval pilgrims. Many would say that they are going to find ‘themselves’ or ‘what its all about’… Not everyone finds what he is looking for, but everyone finds something that he didn’t have before and that he needs and wants. Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have. And faith, like muscle, likes being worked.”

– “I did a trail at my pastorate at Holy Trinity Brompton. Without indicating the source, I wrote down several doze quotations on the subject of pilgrimage culled from most of the main religions. I asked the theologically sophisticated Christian audience to identify the ‘Christian’ ones. They couldn’t. They were hopeless. When I told them which was which, they were amused and horrified. A rather intense girl had identified a sixth-century Hindu text as, ‘oozing the spirit of Jesus’ (And who am I to say she was wrong?)”

– “If the blood flow through your heart reduces, you have pain. If it stops moving, you die. If water stops moving, it gets foul. This seems to illustrate a general rule.”

– “Throughout the Bible (with a crucial last-minute twist) God hates cities. He is much easier to find in the wilderness. He takes the side of the itinerant shepherd against the factory farmer.”

– “The best-traveled people, the ones who have seen the most, are the ones who remain the most capable of seeing the world through the eyes of children. Children’s eyes dont have the spiritual cataracts that blir the vision of the worldly-wise. They see color, mystery, and excitement where we see only a parking lot. They are immeasurably richer than we are.”

– “The gospels smell of the road as The Odyssey smells of the sea.”

– “Pilgrimages do things. The travels of Abraham inked in the covenant and laid the foundations of a nation; the exodus transformed a people and won a land; the Baptist girl at my dinner got a husband, was healed of hay fever, and became a Jesus Freak. Then came the Sermon on the Mount, which is all about the people on the edges – the sort of people you meet, eat with, walk with, bed down, and become if you walk from town to town, but would never see if you drive along the freeway in your air-conditioned limo. By and large the Sermon on the Mount is utterly irrelevant to most modern churches. Our lives, our business, and our mission strategies are constructed very specifically according to precisely the principles so clearly denounced by Jesus. If we had been running his campaign, we’d have thrown money not at lepers, but at management consultants and lobbyists… And Jesus certainly wouldn’t have been allowed to walk. It’s dangerous, time-consuming, and sends out all the wrong signals.”

– “He loved the road because it honored adn enabled that community. He hated the city because it brutalized and suffocated it. But community itself has been redeemed; relationship has been redeemed. That is the meaning of the new city. It’s not that true fellowship of the road can somehow manage to exist within the Holy City; there is nowhere else that it can be what it has always really been. And that is the end of all pilgrimage. There is no other end. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’(Rev. 22:17)’”

– “Shane Claiborne talks about his Christian upbringing in eastern Tennessee. At evangelistic services, there would be the great call to the front; and every year he and his mates would go forward, singing ‘Just as I am’; and each year, he says, they would leave just as they were. Whatever your fastidious theological doubts about penitential pilgrimages, that never happened to someone who had walked from Paris to Rom in winter, losing toes from frostbite on the St. Bernard Pass, carrying a yoke forged from the club he’s used to beat his wife to death.”

– “We see the same syndrome again and again in conservative religion. The greater the evidence against its assertions, the greater the zeal with which they are preached, the greater the consequent isolation from the rest of the world, and the greater ease with which the cult members can be protected against the corrupting power of alternative worldviews.”

– “The early Christian Celts spoke about ‘thin places’ – places where worlds (I would prefer to say ‘dimensions’) were particularly close to each other. Places where, if you were quiet enough, you could hear the murmurings of God.”

– “Go. Don’t take much. Don’t worry too much about preparing. The journey itself will prepare you for whatever you need to be prepared for.”

– “Habitual tourists may be reading this and feeling left out. Good. Sorry, but what you do isn’t what we’re talking about here. A religious tourist in the holy sites is an invulnerable pilgrim. An invulnerable pilgrim is an oxymoronic creature, like a four-legged biped. Certainly pilgrims can read guidebooks, see the sights, and tick boxes on clipboards; but tourists cant get new eyes while remaining tourists.”

– “It’s not just pilgrims who make a pilgrimage: it’s pilgrims different from you. A pilgrimage is a journey to the ultimate otherness.”

– “Pilgrimage is a little pocket of nomadism. Many insecure societies notably the ‘advanced’ ones that have lost their connections with the land, and therefore fear it and its people, feel threatened. They worry that a little focus on pilgrimage might metastasize dangerously into settled life. They are right to worry.”

– “The nomadic people of God, if they’re on the right road, go from an oasis somewhere in East Africa, Mesopotamia, or the Jungian collective subconscious (depending on your exegetical preferences) through wild and barren places, progressively learning to smile, relate, and serve. And they end up in a city where none of their desert sensibilities are violated, where everything they have learned about self-giving and relationship is used and multiplied and transformed.”

November 14, 2011

Guess What? You’re Going on a Missions Trip!

This story of the disciples first mission trip appeared at the blog Digging The Word under the title, Focus on Jesus…

Luke 9: 1-6  One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. 2 Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

3 “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. 4 Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. 5 And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

6 So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.


This is the first time that Jesus sends his disciples out on a mission trip, the second time is in Luke 10:1, it seems that Jesus woke up that morning and without any warning he calls the twelve together and gives them their instructions and all of a sudden they are leaving town.

Jesus does two things before he sends them on their way:

First he gives them the power and authority that they are to depend on for the spiritual battle that takes place on a mission trip. Jesus transfers his power and authority to the disciples so that their ability to do his work comes from him, the same power that they would be using after he left earth, they were getting some hands on experience with it now.

Second Jesus instructs them to depend on God to supply their physical needs as well, over preparation on their part would cause them to depend on their own resources so Jesus told them to travel light.

Luke 9:10-11   When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.

Jesus gave them everything that they needed for the trip, every part of the mission trip was to be a journey of faith, he provided for their spiritual and their physical needs. The disciples’ focus was to be on God’s ability to supply all of their needs and to keep their focus on Jesus. The focus of the scripture was hardly on the disciples for anytime before the writer went back to Jesus doing another miracle.

Lord, help me to have faith that you have provided for all of my needs, I must believe that you will provide for the work that you have called me to do.


Digging Deeper:  In today’s survey of material available in the Christian blogosphere, I discovered Daily Devotional Blog.  If you jump in right now, blog author Paul is deep into Ephesians; he sometimes takes three or four blog posts on a single passage. 

November 8, 2011

Henri Nouwen on Being the Beloved

I’m looking for video clips of Christian writers who are very frequently read but not as frequently seen.  So I was drawn to this set of eight videos of Henri Nouwen speaking at the Crystal Cathedral.  The first four clips are from a message titled, Being the Beloved; the other four are from a message titled Becoming the Beloved. Double-click the video below to watch on YouTube which will lead you to the links to the other sections.

For a previous piece here containing Henri Nouwen quotes, click here.  

September 13, 2011

God Ties Up Your Story’s Loose Ends

Stumbled on this well-written piece yesterday.  Jeff Milam blogs at Transient Glory where this appeared as But God Was With Joseph – Romans 8:28 in the Old Testament

As long as I’ve been reading the Bible I’ve actually only read straight through it one pathetic time. Certain Old Testament narratives capture my imagination, causing me to slow my pace to the point of stillness as early on as the opening chapters of Genesis. So while I‘ve often had the grand objective of reading through the scriptures over the course of a year, it very rarely happens. Recently I’ve started to speculate as to why specific parts of the Bible have this effect on me. Is it that I just adore a good tale, with interesting characters, a complicated plot, valor, a bit of violence, a tinge of romance, and sacrificial love? Or could it be that God is actually communicating directly to me though a dusty piece of ancient Hebrew literature? Is it possible that I’m detecting a personal message from God in these stories? Is that why they tug at my heart time after time?

I believe the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis was written down not only for the children of Israel, but for people like me as well; people who have mastered the art of unbelief. This is one of those heart tugging stories I was talking about. And if there’s one central message in the story of Joseph, it’s that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. See Romans 8:28. It’s a story that leaves absolutely no vacancy for unbelief to reside. Though Joseph goes through some very challenging situations that seem enormously bleak and completely undeserved, by the end we see that God had an astounding plan not only for the godly Joseph, but also for his devilish brothers who had treated him like trash.

If Joseph’s tale was simply made up, I would have to say that its author did a masterful job. Everything is tied together in the end. All the scary, unjust, deceitful, heartbreakingly sad pieces of Joseph’s tale are suddenly all wrapped up in a perfect ending. And it’s an astonishing conclusion. (Almost as shocking as the end of M. Night Shyamalan‘s Sixth Sense.) It makes one’s jaw drop. It’s definitely not something one would anticipate. We find out that God had allowed all those scary, unjust, deceitful, heartbreakingly sad events in Joseph’s life to transpire only so that people’s lives would be saved from the worldwide famine. The most astounding part of the story is that God saved the lives of Joseph’s contemptible brothers by a sequence of events that their own evil dealings had initiated! It almost seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? But that’s just how God works. In fact, you could say that Joseph’s fourteen chapter saga is a foreshadowing of the Gospel.

Whether I think it’s too good to be true or not, the story haunts me for days after I read it. It mercilessly and unapologetically beckons belief in God. It calls me to move to a higher plane of faith where, like Joseph, I can look at my life and know that God is doing something with all the scary, unjust, deceitful, heartbreakingly sad and even nonsensical parts of it. Like Joseph, I can forgive those who I feel have wronged me, knowing that God is ultimately the one in control. After all, what if God was allowing mistreatment in my life to bring about something amazingly good, not only for me, but also for the very people who mistreated me as well as the whole world? Is this what God is saying to me at this point in my life? Is this something God wants me to learn now before I encounter “real” trials? Is that why this story has always tugged at my heart? “But the Lord was with Joseph,” is a recurring phrase in Joseph’s roller coaster of a story.  Will I choose to claim this promise for my life too?

~Jeff Milam

May 5, 2011

Marriage Re-Enacts a Larger Theme

Today’s post appeared on April 11th at the blog of Ohio pastor David Paul Dorr, where it appeared under the title Marriage Doesn’t.

Have you heard the phrase, “marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s to make you holy?”That sounds about as appealing as a punch in the face.

We say this with good intentions. When we make marriage about our personal happiness, then our well-being is a house built without a foundation. Whenever we don’t feel happy in our marriage we feel insecure about our decision. If we are REALLY unhappy, then we are convinced that the marriage should end.

So to counter this harmful view of marriage, we say marriage is more about character development, i.e. holiness. This means we can stick the marriage out, no matter how we feel. We say, “We might be miserable, but we are committed, and it all works out for the best because this is making me a better person.”

But that is still building on the wrong foundation. God didn’t give me a spouse for personal gratification or personal improvement. He gave me a spouse so I could be a storyteller. Our marriage’s purpose is to tell an age-old tale.  A story of how God loves His people, and how they flourish under His care as they respect and honor Him.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 that marriage is a “profound mystery.” It is not a mystery because we can’t figure it out — it’s a mystery (something hidden that now is revealed) because marriage reflects Christ and His church.

So our marriages are like a play. Men, we have the part of Jesus Christ — loving, nourishing, and cherishing our bride. Women, your part is the church — respecting, honoring, and submitting to your husband. To the degree that we “play” our parts faithfully, our marriage will be gospel proclamation. In an evil world filled with broken relationships, love and honor can thrive.  And those in and around our marriage: the couple, the children, the extended family, the church, the community, will get a practical demonstration of God’s love for them.

~David Paul Dorr

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