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Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Scripture prayer for thoughts.

It is no secret that as a person thinks in a heart, so are they. Here’s a prayer I wrote to pray for my own thought life. Feel free to use this as your own prayer.

Lord in the past I have ravaged and polluted my mind with stuff I’ve done, stuff I’ve seen, fantasies I’ve entertained, and stuff I’ve heard. I can’t undo any of it. For those things I ask forgiveness – forgiveness for anytime I have entertained and thought fondly of those things you despise. Transform me and renew my mind (Rom. 12:2). Search my heart. You understand these desires and every thought attached with them (1Chr 28:9). Our enemy doesn’t know my thoughts, but you do (Ps. 139:23, 1Cor. 2:11). I am nothing without you and incapable of having pure thoughts on my own. Some of these fantasies have me thinking a lot of myself. I know these are lies. Empower me to think of myself soberly (Rom. 12:3). I renounced these thoughts I’ve entertained. I put away the childish thoughts and reasoning. I desire and pursue thinking like a man (1Cor 13:11). By the power of the Holy Spirit – the Counselor – let my thoughts argue against and demolish the pretenses that set up against knowledge of you. Let me take every thought in my mind, capture it in the first-frame threshold of it, and make it obedient to Christ that I may have the mind of Christ (2Cor 10:5). Lord, I know you judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart (Heb 4:12). From the heart flows evil but praise you for making my heart clean, pure, and good. Let the thoughts that come from it be clean, pure, and good as well (Matt. 15:19-20). I desire to think of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Cleanse my thoughts and mind, O Lord!

“God works in mysterious ways.”

Here’s another saying we hear often: “God works in mysterious ways.” Is it Biblical? According to Isaiah 55:8-9 it is. Here’s what it says:  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I’m sure we could spend more time really digging in and picking this verse apart. It would mean the same thing. God does work in ways that are mysterious to us. A 25 year old’s lifespan is nothing to an 80 year old. Nor is an 80 year old’s lifespan anything to One who sees across millenia past and present.

Truth takeaway: Yes, God works in mysterious ways.

Freedom takeaway: We can not worry and trust that God has his childrens’ taken care of. We may not understand how, but God’s got it under control.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness”

ThingsWeSawThe origin of this phrase is actually attributed to Francis Bacon, and John Wesley. There is no Bible verse similar to this phrase, at all.

When do we hear this used? When there’s a physical mess of dirt, grime, or debris. That’s pretty much what it means: It’s good to be a clean person and have a clean house. I’m all for having a clean house and I do shower. I’m pretty sure my relationship with God isn’t affected by how grimy I get, or if the house needs dusting. There’s nothing in the Scripture showing a connection with being clean and Godliness. Especially when you consider God as Jesus probably wasn’t very clean when in the wilderness for 40 days.

If anything, I think keeping things clean, uncluttered, and well-organized shows good stewardship for the house and possessions God gave us. Keeping ourselves clean is simply having good health and hygeine practices – and to keep from smelling offensive.

Truth takeaway: This statement is borderline heresy. Godliness cannot be achieved or approached by being clean.

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(Image source)

“They’re my rock”

Crumbled RockI’ve heard people say “so-and-so is my rock” all my life. Lately it has made me think about what they meant. I looked it up on an online slang dictionary and it said the “rock” is someone who’s supportive to a person or helped them through a difficult time.

It reminds me of that Bible story about the house built on the rock and the house built on the sand. What happened to the house not built on the rock? It fell. Yet so often when I’ve heard people say this, they’re talking about another person. People who are made up of dirt (sand) and will return to being dirt (sand). The house built on the real rock, Jesus, stood through the storm.

What’s wrong with another human being – mom, dad, preacher – being a rock for someone? They die. They move away. They falter. They make mistakes. They fall.

Maybe I’ve been let down by people too much. Perhaps that’s why I can’t understand why someone would want to make “their rock” another person. Especially when I hear other believers say this. What kind of personal relationship do they have with God their Creator that they see it better to trust in another person, rather than the all-powerful source of love?

There’s only one person I know I can talk to and hear back from knowing that He’s not going to lead me astray, make mistakes, or leave me. The character of God is one of a friend, counselor, and one who walks beside us. This isn’t idealistic or out of reach. It’s Biblical truth.

Psalms 146:3-5 “Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die. Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,”

Truth takeaway: No person can ever function as our “rock.” There’s only one Rock. If it seems strange to call on God to be a Rock, I encourage anyone to try. He’ll be there when all the dirt-rocks have crumbled away.

Who is your “rock” and why?

(Top image courtesy of here)ThingsWeSaw

Give her Everything!

I noticed I haven’t been posting a lot about marriage so I decided to do that today.

Ephesians 5:22-33 is one of God’s most direct guidelines about marriage. Yet it seems like most emphasis is given to the wife’s roles (vs 22-24) – especially from men. That’s strange because those verses are to/for women. If you count them up, there’s 3 verses written to women and 9 written to men. I wonder which verses us husbands and men of the church need to be focusing on.

Men definitely have the bigger role. We are responsible for giving up ourselves for her, taking care of her, pouring into her spiritual growth, loving her more than we do ourselves, and according to verse 21, submit to her too!

Some of the marriage books and seminars I’ve read/gone to are often about how to take care of her so that she takes care of me and vice versa. This, in turn, takes care of our marriage. But this passage in Ephesians reads to me like this:

It’s not about me and it’s not about us. It’s about her. It’s not about meeting her needs and speaking her love language so she will reciprocate. It’s about doing it because I have been told to give my life up for her. This means pouring into her whatever she wants or needs and expecting nothing back. Doing this means I am (even currently) having to give up on things I’d like to see in our marriage.

Honestly, it’s been painful and disappointing. Do I really trust God enough to say, “I’ll let go of my wants/needs because trying to get her to meet them causes us more pain and strife. Meanwhile, every day I’m her husband, my goal will be to give her whatever she needs and wants.”

I’m not sure what the takeaways are. Us men need to take a hard look at what this passage is about. From the pulpit to each man, we need to be focusing on what we’re not doing and be doing it.

How do you think your spouse would feel if you never denied them what they needed or wanted?

 

The Church’s Response to….(Dare I say it?)

I really trYellowHeart2y to avoid controversial subjects on this blog. Avoiding is hard to do when I keep seeing stuff in the media that grates on me. It’s even harder to do when  professed followers of Christ act like their faith is a footnote to their way of thinking.  About 2 months ago I started writing this post. Because I want to stir the pot?  No. Because I believe what I said needed to be said.  Here’s the article:

5 Ways the Church Needs to Respond to Gay Acceptance

Few issues of our generation have been more heated and divisive as gay rights. When I say gay rights, I’m not referring only to legal rights. I am really addressing the entire idea of gay acceptance by our society. To see evidence of this divisiveness, all one needs to do is look at the comments section of any online news article on the topic. Name calling, insults, accusations, and personal defamation are the norm.

The protestant, evangelical Christian community has been spearheading the fight against gay acceptance. Through boycotts, legislation, and demonstrations, Christian conservatives have constantly pushed back against pro-gay ideals in our society.

Unfortunately, it is this push against gay acceptance that has been the gasoline on the fire of the gay rights movement. A society that screams, “If it feels good, do it,” and “YOLO,” perceives our faith community as uneducated, close-minded, and prudish. They perceive us as trying to stop others from seeking the same pursuit of happiness we take for granted. If pro-gay vs. anti-gay is a battle, like many believe it is, the church is losing.

In an article published by the University of Chicago, support for same-sex marriage has gone from 11% approval in 1988 to 46% in 2010. Younger generations support gay-marriage more than older generations (64% of those under 30 years old versus 27% of those 70+ years old). These age-related statistics are not limited to same-sex marriage. Twenty-six percent of those under 30 surveyed said homosexual behavior is “always wrong.” Sixty-three percent of the 70+ crowd shared that opinion.

Between these numbers and the saturation of pro-gay happenings in our culture, it is safe to say that the Christian conservative community is not making headway against gay acceptance. Since the pro-gay movement is not going away, how should the 21st century church respond? I have five suggestions:

Realize that homosexuality is sexual immorality. This makes it no different from looking at pornography, engaging in sex outside of Biblical marriage, or lusting after another person (1Thess. 4:2-3; Eph. 5:3; Gal. 5:19-21; Jas. 2:11, 1Cor. 6:18).

Quit arguing against homosexuality with verses from Leviticus. To do so is futile. First of all, if someone doesn’t believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, the verses mean nothing to the listener. Second, if we are not going to observe all of the Levitical law (such as these: Lev. 15:18, 19:27, 20:10), then how can we expect anyone else to?

Remember that homosexuality isn’t the unforgivable sin. Rebellion against God is (Matt. 12:31-32).

Learn science. Anatomy/physiology, biology, genetics – if we are debating homosexuality do it in a way they understand. Are gays really born that way? Do we know? Do they know for sure? Our scientific-minded society responds to science more so than Scripture. The Bible deems it unnatural (Rom. 1:24-32). Anatomy and physiology of the human genitalia supports that.

Do not engage in name calling. Nothing is gained by either side when names like “ignorant,” “intolerant,” or “hateful,” are used. In fact, most of those adjectives are so over-used they are misused. People have forgotten what they really mean.  Our speech is supposed to be grace-filled (Col. 3:8, 4:6).

Churches should be ready with open doors and open arms. Anyone who wishes to turn from un-Biblical ways should be able to find a place in church to be ministered to. This is not limited to LBGT individuals. As churches have opened their doors to sex addicts and divorcees, they need to be prepared to open doors for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction and behavior. Not for political reasons but for the people behind the movement. The church is about healing and freedom from legitimate hurts (2 Cor. 5:16-20).

Love the people no matter how ugly it gets. The goal of dispelling the myth that gay is normal/natural/okay is not to “Save America” or “Bring our country back to God.” It’s about people. People that God loves just as He loves us. It is about shining a little light into peoples’ lives so that they find the only One who can give them real Life (Matt. 5:14-16; Jn. 6:35, 11:25; 1Jn. 5:11-12).

As ministers of reconciliation to Christ we need to consider if our actions have been more of a stumbling block, than a source of light. We have spent much effort and resources saying “No. We will fight you.” We have forgotten all about saying, “While I don’t agree with you, God loves you and I do, too.” Let’s remember we are dealing with people who need to be loved. Jesus commanded us to love them and then make disciples of them.


If I didn’t make it clear enough before, let me say: I do not condone gay marriage or support gay rights. I believe it’s homosexuality is a sin just like drunkenness is a sin. Yet rarely do you hear drunkenness condemned from Christians these days. I simply do not believe the church has handled the issue of homosexuality in the most Biblical manner. The way it has been handled in the past has only pushed people who need Jesus away from Jesus.  Anybody who comes to the church for help (from unwanted same-sex desires, addictions/habits, broken marriages, depression, etc.) should be able to receive that help. The church should be equipped to deal with those issues.

Thank you for reading.

(If you’re curious about the yellow heart image, ask me.)

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