6 lessons learned from 6 years of marriage

Sarah & Justin

A lot has happened in 6 years!  We’ve added 3 girls to our quiver, moved to a different country, and have lived half of our marriage in the bush of Africa. Our world is radically different from that day 2,190 days ago in Battle Ground, Indiana.

Marriage is school. It never stops. My subject of study is my wife Sarah (1 Peter 3:7). Here are some lessons I’ve learned the past 6-years with her.

1. My wife gets more beautiful each year.  I have rarely seen Sarah put on make-up.  She doesn’t need it. She is a natural beauty.  This is so mushy, but I simply like looking at her.

2. My wife has become my bestie.  I have had many good good friends, but Sarah is the best best friend I have. She knows my junk.  She is patient and loving with me.  She helps me become a better man.

3. Compliment the food even if it wasn’t a home run.  This has taken me a few years to learn.  My wife is a great cook.  In Chad, she doesn’t have a lot to work with, yet she finds a way to knock most out of the park.

4. It is loving to listen.

5. Praying together grows intimacy. Enough said.

6. It’s worth the wait. I was 29 years old when I married. I would wait another 29 if I knew it would be for a woman like Sarah.

1 Corinthians Study: making much of Christ in a messy church

Do you struggle getting along with others in church? You are not alone.

Paul’s first letter to Corinth is about dealing with relational differences, setting disputes, reinforcing God’s view of marriage and divorce, the essentials of public worship, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection, money issues, and so much more.

Are you looking for something to study from the Bible? With your family? With your small group? Click below to download a family worship guide 1 Corinthians: making much of Christ in a messy church.Click Here to Download

Lessons Learned from my fourth year of Marriage

Sarah & Justin-46
Make time for Jesus. This is the first priority. Sarah is my second.

My wife likes the little things. She does a dynamite job caring for our home, even though at this moment our home is in transition. Managing a home is a lot of work filled with many little tasks and no pay. By doing the dishes, changing the laundry, or vacuuming for Sarah can be a huge help to Sarah.

Ask the hard questions. I can read Sarah. She wears her feelings freely on her face. As her husband, I want to go deeper than asking, “How are you doing?” or “What’s up?” That usually goes nowhere. She likes when I asks her questions. She wants to answer.

Listen well. Asking questions is good, but like most dudes I have a natural tendency to listen in order to fix, but often Sarah isn’t looking for a quick fix. She wants me to listen. That in itself is helpful.

We are more alike than we are different. Sarah is not from Venus and I am not from Mars. We are earthlings, moreover, we are children of God made in His image. In God’s eyes, Sarah is a princess and her value is priceless.

We are distinctly different thinkers. Sarah is a verbal processor, while I am a ponderer. The beauty of marriage is discovering how these compliment rather than conflict.

Encourage friendships. Sarah has great friends. When Sarah comes back from a cup of coffee or prayer gathering with the ladies she is re-juiced. It is worth carving out the time to kick Sarah out of the house so she can spend time with her companions.

Snuggle. Sarah likes it when I sit next to her. I mean butted up next to her. Touch is a big thing to her. As a couple, it is good to be intimate often. Touch her heart before you touch her body.

Expect to be sanctified. My sin is so obvious to Sarah. Living with another person, especially a spouse exposes how self-centered I am. God uses Sarah to chisel at my core and I am becoming more selfless. It hurts, but it’s good.

Pray for wisdom. I cannot be the man Sarah needs me to be alone. I need God.

See entries from years past:
1st anniversary
2nd anniversary
3rd anniversary

thumb licks [9.11.12]

Why should I give it my all to teach a small Sunday School class or clean the church toilets?

Are you attracted to legalism?

How the government spends its money.

The gospel impacts your parenting.

Love is stupid.

I want this new VW bus!

Why disabilities?

Not your average Youth Group.

Top 10 blogs for women.

Worlds Greatest Drag Race

lessons learned from my third year of marriage

one of our first dates on South Street downtown Philly

Marriage is a good thing (cf. 1 Corinthians 7). I can still remember what it was like to be a single guy. It wasn’t that long ago. I liked being single. And I was single for a while. The longer I am married the more I realize what a wonderful thing it is. Sarah is God-sent.

Marriage is work. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking anything otherwise. Marriage is hard work. It is a field that needs to be cultivated and a storehouse that needs to be stocked. If not, your field will become weeded and shelves become empty. The best work we’ve done for our marriage is to pray together and point each other to Christ. He is our purest example of selfless sacrifice and unconditional love.

Marriage is the mending of best friends forever. Since August, I stepped down from my position as an assistant pastor and we have taken a course direction to plant churches overseas. Immediately our family loaded into our car and began traveling throughout the Midwest. You really learn about someone on a road trip. Sarah and I have been on a 9-month road trip! We’ve both survived and are enjoying getting to know one another better together in our tiny Honda Element. I love living with my best friend.

Marriage is beautiful. If Sarah were president she would be Babe-raham Lincoln! After 1.5 children my wife just gets more beautiful. Sarah is entering her 6th month of pregnancy and is more tired this time than when she was pregnant with Justus. Honestly, she still is the most attractive woman I know, inside and out.

Marriage has softened me. I am not soft in a fluffy or girly way. Although marriage has been healthy for me. Sarah is one good cook! Marriage has softened me like sandpaper to shaves rough edges. I have many insensitive slivers that Sarah has graciously sanded down. It hurts a little, but I think she has a better husband for it. I suppose that’s why God has given me a house full of girls. He is so humorous.

Marriage keeps you honest. It is easy to fib or lie to the one I love (Didn’t think this would be confessional time, eh?), but the longer I am with Sarah the harder it is to get away with dishonesty. Sarah knows me. And I am not a good liar, but Sarah is a good lie detector. Thankfully. It’s best just to be honest from the beginning. It saves marriage from messes.

Marriage is still sanctifying. Living with another person, especially a spouse reveals how selfish you really are. I am quite selfish, even after three years. However, I would like to think I am become more selfless because of the tender helpfulness of my wife. She counsels me to the core.

See entries from years past:
1st anniversary
2nd anniversary

Marriage: Is More than 5 to 9

The last 60-days, since traveling from the Midwest to the East Coast to Europe and back, I have been with Sarah around the clock. Never before in our marriage have we been around this each other this much. I love it! Pray for her as she has to be with me so much! No, really. I am so grateful to be around both my wife and daughter throughout the day. You see, before we hit the road to raise partners for the mission I could go to the office but be a phone call away. On the road there is no office; no break from my family.

Pray that I will create godly habits as a husband. That I will shepherd my wife with a listening ear and loving spirit. Pray that I will be a 1 Peter 3:7 man that “lives with his wife in an understanding way.” I want to get my PhD in Sarah-ology. Most people I talk to tell me that is a lifelong degree because marriage is not 5 to 9 and work is 9 to 5. Marriage is all day everyday.

lessons learned from my second year of marriage

Marriage is still sanctifying. I would lie if I were to say, “Marriage is easy.” Put two sinners in a room and you will have conflict, but we have both so benefitted from the spiritual growth in Christ.

My brides beauty is accelerating. Every day my wife becomes more and more beautiful to me. Sarah is the most beautiful woman I know.

Sorry is a cheap substitute for forgiveness. I have learned that saying sorry is not all that effective. Seeking forgiveness is more meaningful and biblical.

Sarah is more than this man’s best friend. Sarah is my closest companion. I love talking, playing games, reading books, watching documentaries and biographies, and taking walks with this wonderful woman. She is more than a friend. She is a lover I love and long to be with.

Study your wife [1 Peter 3:7]. Although I have only taken 2 steps in this mile long journey and still have 5278 more steps to go, I enjoy the new discoveries and territories yet to be explored. I feel like Christopher Columbus charting the course toward a new land or Jacque Cousteau diving depths the seas anticipating to see, hear, and learn about the mysteries beyond the surface of the deep.

Encourage creativity. Stiffing creativity sours a marriage. Sarah is a wonderful writer, song writer, and artist. Giving her freedom to devote time and energy to these talents not only benefits her, but also her husband. I love it when Sarah makes new dinner dishes. They do not always turn out [i.e. mystery stew], but at least she does not have fear of trying. I have learned to choke it down and then tactfully tell her to try something different next time.

Watching my wife transform into a mother has been a great privelage. I had no doubt Sarah would be a great young mother. She has grown so much in the last few month as she cares for an utterly dependent young girl.

Eating dinner together and sitting together afterwards is important time. I am normally a fast eater and I never enter the military. Taking time to eat around the table to talk about our day, pray, and spend quality time together has tremendous value for our marriage relationship.

Submitting to Christ is the source of true love in marriage [Ephesians 5:21ff]. It is helpful that Sarah reminds me that she loves her Savior. I love it that she desires and encourages me to be like Him than being like some other example of man.

extreme makeover: marriage edition

Most people have seen the show Extreme Makeover. On the reality show a family in desperate need of home renovation is surprised with the opportunity it receive the needed renovations. The show usually destroys the old home and rebuilds a new one. We love the show because in the end the family has a wonderful new home.

When it comes to our real homes—marriage. There are times when an extreme makeover is needed. For whatever reason the home has become rundown over time, bad habits, or weak foundation, and you do not have the resources or know-how to fix it. Building a solid marriage can be difficult. It takes hard work to build or renovate a marriage into God’s kind of marriage. The Church in Ephesians is compared to a: body [1:22, 23], building [2:20-22], and now a bride [5:31-32]. Let’s begin by looking at the foundations of a solid marriage through the roles of each partner within the marriage relationship.

The Role of the Wife [Ephesians 5:22-24]

The primary role of the wife is submission [v.22]. Submission sounds like a dirty word. Submission is a willingness to lovingly, joyfully, and freely follow authority. Submission is not an option, but a command to lovingly, joyfully and freely follow her husband as she would follow Christ.

Is submission for wives only? No. Submission is a concept for all believers [5:21]. Everyone is summoned to submit to some kind of authority. You submit to your spouses [Ephesians 5:22], parents [6:1-4], government [Romans 13:1], church [Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5], and ultimately God. Submission is a spiritual matter because all submission is obedience to God’s authority. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:15]

Why is submission a difficult command for people to obey? It is an authority issue. Your natural reaction is buck against any authority that tells you how to live. It started when Satan rebelled against God’s authority and continued in the hearts of men from the Garden of Eden until now [Romans 3:10-18]. A lack of submission originates from a desire to be king of your domain rather than letting God be King of His domain.

Headship is the motivation for submission [v.23a]. In Ephesians, headship refers to Christ [1:22; 4:15], but here it is being implied on the husband. Headship has the biblical idea of ruler or leader. Without the headship of Christ over the church the building would not have a cornerstone, and without a cornerstone would crumble. Have you heard it said, “There are too many chiefs and no Indians?” This is a common phrase to say that there are too many people demanding control, but too few willing to follow another persons lead. In Genesis 3:16, woman is cursed with the desire to rule over their husbands [cf. 4:7]. Two chiefs in a marriage can become a two-headed monster. It is a monster that needs to be slain. The church submits to Christ because she knows the benefits of being united with Him. Likewise the wife submits to the headship of her husband.

Submission to authority, especially within marriage, sometimes becomes abused. Submission does not mean the wife becomes a slave or inferior to the husband [Proverbs 31:10-31]. The Bible never commands a husband to force his wife to submit; rather the wife is commanded to make herself submissive as her husband’s helper [cf. 1 Peter 3:1; Genesis 2:18]. Since Christ is the example of headship, the husband is to be as loving and life-giving in their marriage relationship as Christ is over the church. God created men and women equally within the image of God [Genesis 1:26-27; 2:23; Galatians 3:28], but He has given them distinct roles to fulfill that are for their good and God’s glory.

Christ is the model for submission [v.23b-24]. How can a wife submit to her husband? Simply by following the example of the church’s submission to Christ: speak the truth in love [cf. 4:15; 4:25; Proverbs 9:3], point him to Christ with your actions [1 Peter 3:1-6], extend the forgiveness of Christ when he sins, and affirm his leadership.

The Role of the Husband [Ephesians 5:25-30]

The husband’s primary role is a commitment to love his wife like Christ loves His church [v.25; cf. Genesis 2:19-20; 3:20]. He is to be a lover, leader [Matthew 20] and learner [1 Peter 3:7]. He loves her enough to lead her to walk with God as He models it himself for her. As the husband seeks to humbly serve God, it is reflected in the way he loves, leads, and learns to his wife.

Why is it important for a husband to follow the example of Christ? Christ was a servant leader [Matthew 20]. He came not to be served, but to serve. He was a king that gave Himself sacrificially for His Bride. It is not that the church deserves to be given His love, but His love is an expression of His grace. He did not give 50/50 waiting for the church to love Him back. He gave it all, 100%. Husbands do not hold back from loving sacrificially to your wife.

The Bible gives many words for love: The first word is erao, which is a physical or sexual love. Erao is where you get the word erotic. It is a pleasurable love to be saved for the marriage bed only. The second word is phileo, which is an emotional love. This is the love you share with a brother or close friend. Phileo will see objects as worthy of love. Peter used this word of Jesus [John 21:20ff]. The third word for love in the Bible is agapao, which is an intellectual and volitional love. Agapao is a committed, God-like love. Jesus used this word of Peter and God uses it toward sinful mankind [John 3:16].

In relationships, these words for love have a proper order. If you start with sexual love it will be almost impossible to have true committed love because the relationship is built on physicality rather than friendship and commitment. If you begin with committed and brotherly love, it will create the best atmosphere for sexual love and additional loves grow. A husband’s Christlike love has a sanctifying effect on marriage [vs.26-27].

Why is important for a husband to view his wife’s body as part of his own? [vs.28-30] No man treats his own body in an unloving way, therefore a husband who views his wife’s body as his own will treat his wife lovingly as well. A loving husband will protect and provide for his wife as his most prized possession. A husband protects and provides for his wife is with his time, careful ear, encouragement, and appreciation for her inner and outer beauty.

Reviewing the Biblical Basis for Marriage [Ephesians 5:31-33]

Marriage is a picture of oneness [v.31]. Oneness is the miracle of marriage—when two people become one flesh [cf. Genesis 2:24]. Oneness in marriage means your spouse becomes priority above my career, friends, sinful habits, and hobby’s.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church [v.32]. What does Paul mean by mystery? [cf.3:9] The symbol of marriage was hidden, but is now revealed. Why is marriage a mystery? Marriage is a picture of salvation through Christ’s sacrificial relationship with the church, which is made up of both Jew and Gentile. Marriage is a typology of marriage that shows the unity of Christ [Bridegroom] with His church [Bride]. This gives marriage a divine significance.

Marriage glorifies God when the husband and wife are fulfilling their roles [v.33]. The purpose of marriage is not my happiness, fulfillment, or love, although these can be fruits of a godly marriage. Marriage is bigger than just my spouse and me, but it is about a display of Christ-like love and obedience to the world.

love & relationships 101

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WITHIN RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Who’s in your drivers seat?
  2. Why preparing for marriage matters?
  3. What about sex before marriage?
  4. Dating, courting, or waiting?
  5. Is true love possible?
  6. How to choose the right relationship?

GOD’S ANSWER & HIS HIGH STANDARDS FOR RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Both of you must be faithful followers committed to Jesus Christ
  2. Marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship
  3. Sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only
  4. Every relationship is to be viewed as sacred
  5. You cannot get a refund on your relationships
  6. Seek someone with Christlike character

JUST FOR FUN

When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers as Head Coach the team was a mess. The team did not function as a team. They were confused by complicated schemes and lack of discipline. During one of the first practices Lombardi gathered the men together and said, “This is a football.” It is not that they didn’t know what a football was, but they had forgotten the basics of the game. That summer Lombardi gave his men a 101 course in the fundamentals of football and their dedication helped them to become world champions.

Bookstores are lined with relationship advice. The internet is bogged down with sites sharing the newest dating and marital tips. You could spend over a thousand lifetimes reading all the love and relationship information in the saturated media-sphere until every orifice of your body is oozing relationship factoids. You might be a self-proclaimed expert on relationships and win the love and romance categories on Jeopardy, but in real life your relationships are flunking.

More information is not the answer, rather it is living as your were called within your relationships. Let’s make it simple, pull off your dusty Bible from the shelf and see what the wise inventor of human relationships has to say. God has high and helpful standards for our relationships. If God’s has a high standard for relationships so should you.

what about sex before marriage?

Imagine a world without standards or limits: no traffic laws, no standards for society, or no code of conduct. There would be chaos. There are limits, governing rules, morals of right and wrong, and standards of living for the purpose of our protection. Rules are to be abided by not broken or bent. The speed limit law is not a simple suggestion and codes of conduct are not recommendations—they are requirements. Just as there are standards and rules to adhere in our country, so there are standards God gives towards our relationships.

Thus far we have discussed two of God’s standards for relationships. First, both partners must be faithful follower committed to Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 6:14-16]. Second, marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship [Ephesians 5:25-28]. Today we will discover a third standard God has set for marriage: sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only.

Waiting to have sex until marriage is certainly not a popular message in our world today. Sex education classes promote safe sex and condom usage. TV shows and media, flaunt sexuality outside of marriage as normal. The idea of waiting until marriage to have sex is passé and seems to spoils the fun. Has chivalry gone out of style along with chastity belts? How do we reconcile God’s speed limit to wait on sex until marriage?

The Bible has three commands concerning sex [Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8]. First, do not give yourself to adultery—having sex with anyone other than your spouse. Second, do not give yourself to fornication—having premarital sex, even with someone you intend to marry. Third, do not give yourself to sexual immorality [Grk: porneia]—having sexually stimulating activities [i.e. pornography, oral sex, masturbation, sex-ting, flirting, etc.] outside of marriage or in marriage with someone who is not your spouse [cf. Matthew 5:27-28; Proverbs 6:27-28].

sinful reasons to have sex before marriage [1 Corinthians 6:12-14]

There are many reasons people justify breaking the limits God sets on sexuality before marriage. Paul says something very wise in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all thing are helpful.” In other words, sex might seem ok, but is it really going to help the situation? Here is some common reasons people sin in order to have sex outside of marriage:

We love each other.” Many people have equated love with sex. Love does not equal sex; rather it is the gift of committed love. Real love does not tempt one another to sin. Real love is willing to wait and commit.

We need to see if we are sexually compatible.” The plea for compatibility seems good, but compatibility is not tested—it is learned. You can be compatible with anyone. Test-driving is meant for cars not relationships. 70% of women who test drive are seeking a long-term relationship [i.e. manipulation]. 90% of men who test drive are seeking a short-term solution for their sex drive [i.e. self-gratification]. Sex is not a reliable test for compatibility.

Everyone is doing it. How could it be wrong if it feels so good?” Let the truth be known: not everyone is. Even if everyone was that does not make it right. Many people do choose to wait. Peer pressure and cultural acceptance are not always right. People who have sex before marriage have a far higher divorce rates, feelings of insecurity within marriage, and greater chance of unplanned pregnancy or STD’s.

We do not have the same values as you, so stop making us feel guilty.” This is especially true in an age of tolerance, which says “Don’t push your agenda’s on me. You can believe what you want but let me believe what I want.” However, the value of waiting for sex until marriage is not meant to pour on guilt or showcase a man-made value, rather it is God’s value for your good and His glory. He is the one who created you and created marriage. He even created sex. All with their purpose and place.

Sex within marriage might seem to be helpful for fitting into culture, finding compatibility or fulfilling love, but this is not the way God intended intimacy to happen. Two questions to ask: Is it helpful? Is it enslaving? [v.12] When we bend or break the rules this leads to chaos [vs.13-14]. Disobedience brings danger like jumping the guardrails hugging a cliff.

God’s reason to save sex for marriage [1 Corinthians 6:15-20]

God gives one reason to wait. He knows how sex is multi-dimensional—physical, emotional, and spiritual—but when two people have sex they become “one flesh.” [v.16] Even within causal sexual flings this occurs. Sex creates a miraculous bond between two people. Sex is superglue that keeps two together. God did not intend for “one flesh” to be shared, except with the one person you are faithfully committed to in marriage.

Paul bases his sexual purity on his identity in Christ. First, if you are in Christ you are a “servant of Christ” [v.12]. Christ has freed you from the bondage of sin and you are at liberty to choose what is right [cf. Romans 6:1-14]. Second, you are an “eternal being” [v.14]. This world is not all there is. The joy of sex does not compare with the joy of being with Christ. Third, you are “one with Christ” [vs.15, 17]. Followers are married to Christ. Remember, marriage pictures a divine union between Christ and His church [cf. Ephesians 5:25ff]. Finally, you are the “property of Christ” [vs.19-20]. God owns you. You are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.

Sex is a gift from God. It is something that He created as “good.” [Genesis 1:31] Sex is great in so many ways–relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sex is a gift that is greatest when waited for within the marriage relationship. When we abuse or misuse what God created by using it our way rather than His way it complicates our relationship rather than compliment.

Sexual immorality not only affects your relationship with the other person [vs. 17-18; i.e. Psalm 51:4; 66:18], but it primarily affects your relationship with God. Sin creates a roadblock between you and God. You can try all sorts of things to get rid of the roadblock, but until you deal with the sin and commit to change it will be a barrier that you will not be able to budge. Give your sexuality to God and commit to His standard for relationships. It is for your good and God’s glory [v.19-20]. Purity is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your future spouse.

quick Q&A concerning sex:

What happens if you already had sex before marriage? Can I be forgiven? Yes. Repent and restore [1 John 1:8-10]. Recommit to purity and saving sex for marriage. I have a good friend had a sexual relationship in high school, the gal got pregnant. He lived with the guilt of his sin for years. He later tasted the forgiveness of God and recommitted to God and is being used of God in mighty ways. He is now married with beautiful children. God is faithful to forgive. Be faithful to seek His forgiveness through repentance and restoration.

Is sex in marriage really better than sex outside of marriage? You bet. Being pure is always better than settling for second best. Think of how much better it is to drink mountain spring water versus drinking from a sewer pipe. Purity satisfies completely, while sinfulness leaves you empty craving more [Jeremiah 2:13].

How can I fight the temptation of sexual immorality? Toying with your sexual desires is like a pyromaniac playing with fire. Feeding the fire of desire does not calm the temptation; it only intensifies it. You will get burned [James 1:14-15]. Pushing the limits is dangerous. Basing decisions based on feelings of right and wrong can be just as dangerous. Sex feels good, but it was never meant to fulfill what only God can. Sex was never meant to be worshiped [Romans 1:18-27; Ephesians 5:3-7].

Here are some helpful ways to fight the temptation to give into sexual immorality: First, commit to obey God. Second, learn from the Word the joy of waiting. Third, be accountable to God and a strong Christ-follower. Finally, create and implement a battle plan [purity contract]—do not touch [1 Corinthians 7:1], do not look [Matthew 5:28; Job 31:1], and do not be alone [cf. Genesis 39]. Purity never happens by accident. Make a plan to fight for it.

Great Resources to Check out:

Sex Before Marriage: How Far is Too Far? [Timothy Lane]

Guidelines for Sexual Purity [Randy Alcorn]

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ [John Piper]

what does the Trinity teach us about relationships?

Within the Trinity there is both unity and diversity: unity without uniformity, and diversity without division. This unity and diversity is at the core of the great mystery of the Trinity. Unity without uniformity is baffling to our finite minds, but there are demonstrations of this truth all around us; like a symphony, the human body, ecosystems, the church, the human race, a delicious meal, or a sporting event. Unity and diversity are woven into the fabric of the world by multiple images of the One who made it with unity and diversity.

Our human relationships uniquely and divinely reminisce the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity. This is no mistake, since man’s Maker stamped each man in His image. Most people never consider where this similarity has originated, but God has innately marked His creation with creative features that mimic Him—including our relationships. Today we will look at three distinct relationships that the Bible demonstrated both the unity and diversity of the Trinity:

Marriage is a relationship that demonstrates the Trinity’s unity and diversity [Ephesians 5:22-33]

Marriage is a wonderful picture that God uses to demonstrate His character as an unconditional, faithful, and sacrificial Lover. From the beginning of Creation God made man equal in His image [Genesis 1:26-27]. Though man and woman are quite diverse in appearance and God-given roles [Genesis 2; 1 Peter 3:1-7], they are both equally made in the image of God. If only man and woman within marriage would consider one another images of God, much of the conflict and chauvinism would dissipate.

The unifying love that Jesus has for His church is a beautiful demonstration of marriage [Ephesians 5:22ff]. Marriage is pictured in Christ sacrificing Himself for His church and the church submitted to Christ, which is paralleled by the husbands love his wife, the wife submitted to her husband, and both out of reverence towards Christ.

Church Body is a relationship that demonstrates the Trinity’s unity and diversity [Ephesians 4:1-16]

There is a glorious union between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Biblical Christianity stands or falls with the doctrine of the Trinity. Within the doctrine of the Trinity there are practical Implications. First, the Trinity makes God known in Christ [John 1:18; Exodus 33:20; 1 Timothy 6:16]. Second, the Trinity makes the salvation possible [Hebrew 9:14]. Third, the Trinity is fully dependent upon Himself [Acts 17:25]. Fourth, The Trinity provides the ultimate model for relationships within the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 11:3; 12:4–6; Ephesians 4:4–7].

When believers enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ they are adopted into God’s family—the church. The church body is made up of members who are all equal in the eyes of God. God in His divine purposes designed the church to function locally as a means for each member to grow spiritually through mutual relations and gift-oriented ministry with one another. Within His Body, God has given all a diverse role in order for the church to be unified in its display of God’s glory. God gave to the church offices: elders and deacons from the membership who are equal, but the elders are supposed to lead, the deacon’s serve, and the membership minister. When each one is doing their part the Body is a beautiful reflection of God’s unity and diversity.

Leadership (i.e. parenting & governing authority) is a relationship that demonstrates the Trinity’s unity and diversity [Ephesians 6:1-9]

The Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit—one God, three persons, all equal but submissive. God the Son submits to God the Father and recognizes Him as the leader. There is leadership within the Trinity. This is called relational subordination.

Jesus, though He is equal with God, willfully submits Himself to the Father. He submits to the Father out of love [John 4:34; 14:31; 15:9-10], reverence for His divine authority [1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:25-28; John 3:16-17; 10:36; 6:38], and reliance upon the Holy Spirit for power and direction [Luke 4:1-2, 16-21]. Likewise, it is marvelous how the Father shines His spotlight on the Son as He purposes all things to be subject to Jesus [Psalm 2:7-9; Ephesians 1:9-10; 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Revelation 5:1-5, 8-9]. Likewise, the Holy Spirit pours forth the message of Jesus in the Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Luke 24:24-27, 44, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, 2:2, Galatians 6:14].

Submission to leadership practically plays itself out in two ways: through parenting and governing authorities. In the government of a home: mom, dad, and the children are equal made in God’s image, but dad’s are supposed to lovingly, humbly, and sacrificially lead [Ephesians 6:1-4]. Also, God appoints government leaders and bosses, and our response is to joyfully submit as if we are laboring for God [Ephesians 6:5-9; Romans 13:1-7]. This can be difficult especially in a world that is filled with crooked politicians, unreasonable employers, and passive fathers, but we have an awesome example to follow in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In conclusion, the Trinity gives us a multifaceted look at relationships. Whether, in a marriage, church, home, business or nation God has demonstrated to us unity within diversity. Imagine if in each arena of your life you were to embrace the diversity rather than run from it, what unity could there be?

lessons learned from my first year of marriage

1. Marriage is sanctifying. God has used Sarah in many wonderful ways to chisel away at my insensitive parts and sinful flaws. Marriage has been molding me a like a clay model muddied and re-imaged by the Masters hands into the image of Christ [1 Peter 3:1-7].

2. Deal with conflict ASAP. By dealing with anger and communicating clearly as soon as possible resolution and restoration come quickly.

3. Create healthy and happenin’ habits:

  • Every week have a date night. Turn the phones off. Guard with care.
  • Have weekly sabbath rest.
  • Pray together daily.
  • Keep in contact with good friends.

4. Shoot for a forever honeymoon. Before marriage we got good advice, “If you live in obedience to Christ you will have a forever honeymoon.”

5. Remember your first love. Sarah and I love God first. There are times when we are jealous [in a good way] of our love for God. Only God is truly faithful [Psalm 145:7].

6. Laugh at yourself and each other. We make a habit of watching America’s Funniest Videos each morning before heading out the door. Laughing together helps you stick together.

7. Build something together.
This year we have grown a garden and done some fun art projects together. The illustration of building fits the picture of a growing marriage.

8. Do something you don’t like. I hate doing the dishes, but they got to get done. I find the most loving thing I can do is do the dishes with my delightful wife.

9. Talk-walks. We take weekly walks in the parks, through the neighborhood or downtown. Not only is it fresh air and fitness, but great times to talk together.

10. Pray, pray, and pray some more. I have a hard time talking to God if I am having a hard time talking to Sarah. Prayer is our most intimate moments within marriage [thanks to the words of wisdom in Bob & Elva Jean Lilly].

marriage is sanctifying

A friend recently asked me, “What are you learning now that you’re married?” Without hesitation the first thought that came to my mind, “I am very selfish.” It hasn’t taken long for me to realize how selfish I am. Marriage has a good way of purifying you from selfishness and pride. Marriage is sanctifying.

Another friend who has been married for 3 years said to me that the process of dealing with pride doesn’t get any easier with time. Note this sometimes true-to-life chronology of thought within marriage:

  • 1st year of marriage: “I am so selfish. Would you forgive me?”
  • 2nd year of marriage: “I know I’m selfish, but I have rights you know!”
  • 3rd year of marriage: “Sure I am selfish. Who do you think you are?”

I hope that I continue to be a man that is willing to swallow my pride and love my wife. A wise man once said, If you remain obedient to God you will always be on your honeymoon.

adulterous

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We are tempted every day. No one is invisible to temptation. When the Bible talks about temptation, it is never “if”; it is always “when.” The bait is bound to lure you in and tempt to hook you. It is our responsibility to know what the bait is and how to avoid its trap.

The Bible is clear from the Seventh Commandment: “Do not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) Now, adultery doesn’t happen over night. There are certain sly and stealthy steps that lead to Adultery:

It all starts with a distraction—maybe you are tired or weak, lonely or desperate, invisible or in the moment. Then that distractions leads to an attraction. It only takes a moment to notice someone of the opposite sex (walking along and BAM!); this is the the step of the second look. At this point we must stop, look the other way and change. James 1:14-15 “ But each of us is tempted when, by his own evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Sadly, most do not stop at this step, but are tempted to step into the trap.

The next step is infatuation (sinful attitude) or in other words adultery of the mind (heart). Your imagination starts pursuing what you would like to do with that person of the opposite sex. Jesus says adulterous attitudes are just as sinful as adulterous actions (Mt.5:28). These attitudes are just one small step away from our final step, which is the sinful action. God is clear that this is having sex with someone who is not your spouse outside the covenant of marriage.

Adultery can take on many different shapes and forms:

  • Lust—“adulterous attitude” with an imagined desire to do something with someone other than your spouse.
  • Pornography—“adulterous attitude” with an image that represents someone created in the image of God and that is not your spouse.
  • Masturbation—“adulterous attitude” bringing about an emotion connected with the sinful act.
  • Sex before of Marriage—“adulterous action”
  • Cheating on boyfriend or girlfriend—“adulterous action”
  • Affairs before marriage—“adulterous action”

There are essentially two different ways of responding to an adulterous situation. First, repent and change by seeking counsel, restoration, and forgiveness. The other is to reject and covering up by continuing to live in your sin and believe in sinful lies.

Lies are easy to come by when used to cover up adultery, here are some of the most common:

1. Marriage (or another relationship) will make it all better. If you do not change your sinful attitudes before marriage you will bring them into your marriage. This is a recipe for relationship murder. Wedding vows are a commitment for life, “till death do you part.” You choose to love God and your future spouse.

2. God wants me to be happy. Some think, “I would be happy if we could just have sex now.” Truth is: God places obedience before happiness (Ps.16:11). When we obey God’s way of doing this it brings us the most joy. It is like drinking puddle water when God offers your puree. If we disobey God it just brings about guilt and a desire to continue on sinning.

3. I didn’t do anything wrong. Pretending it never happened or denial is a quick fix, but it never really fixes the problem. Two wrongs do not make a right. Even though know one will know or might never find out, you still know and so does God. Remember, your lust grows to sin, sin leads to death, and death brings about the stench of decay. It is a matter of time before your sin finds you out. God doesn’t allow us to conceal our sin successfully.

4. My friends think it is okay. Maybe you have a support system of friends that back your sinful decisions and give you the confirmation that what you are doing is normal and all right. God calls these friends, “fools.” True friends do not lead you into sin; they protect you and bring you to God.

Have you been lured in to take a nibble or eat of adultery’s  buffet? Are you past the distraction step into the attraction, infatuation or sinful action step? Here is some ammunition to help you the next time you are tempted to sin:

1. Think about the consequences of your sinfulness. Stop to think for a moment about what this sin will do to you, your future spouse, children, or your relationship with God. A brief moment of ecstasy for a lifetime of pain. Sin is destructive and it murders relationships. And once you are cooked Satan loves to fry us in our guilt making us believe that we are now worthless and not important to God.

2. Know your weaknesses. Is there a particular time or place that brings you more temptation? (movies, tv, internet, alone, after school, late at night, tired, flirty, etc.) Avoid these if you can, if not pray for protection and seek a godly friend to keep you accountable. Do you have a good friend/leader you can talk to about this?

3. Make purity your purpose. Commit to God to do it His way: to be pure until marriage. Allow God to change you from the inside out. God what you to do it His way always, because His way always works.

boundaries

471483304_58772e250b.jpgBoundaries are necessary. Boundaries are practical markers that keep you out or keep you in. A boundary says, “I am not going there. I am not going to step over that line.” During a time of war boundaries are put into place to keep an enemy out or clearly mark the line of defense. Where I live the subdivision has created boundaries between the property lines. This is really only helpful when I am mowing the lawn!? In most all sports there are boundaries to be kept within the rules of the game. Boundaries are necessary.

There are boundaries in other area’s of life. Especially when it comes to relationships. A couple needs to set up boundaries to protect themselves from crossing over into territory that God has not allotted for them until marriage. There are certain boundaries that are not to be crossed: sex before marriage, and immoral touching or talking… these are clear from the Bible. There are other boundaries that are not so clear, but should be decided depending on the temptations and desires of the couple for the purpose of protecting their purity and integrity until that sacred day. So many couples do not even consider boundaries. This is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it not how the relationship is meant to be, but it also spoils the joy of waiting. Boundaries are necessary.