Responsibility and Authority for Marriage

“This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it back again.
No one is taking it from me; I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This is what my Father has commanded me.” John 10:17-18

God gave Jesus the command to lay his life down and take it up again. This command is both responsibility and authority.

When God gives responsibility, He also gives authority so the command can be achieved.

So consider what He says on marriage:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:31-33

God gives the command–responsibility and authority–for husbands and wives to leave and cleavebecoming one, and for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands.

The corrupt flesh, the world,  and the enemy are not going to help.

Selfishness, pride, lust, idolatry, and those who steal, kill, and destroy do not help your marriage.

They will attack your responsibility and/or authority to leave-and-cleave and/or to love-and-respect.

Focus on God as your source and example who defines your responsibilities and provides the authority to achieve oneness, love, and respect.

And–metaphorically–cut off at the knees anything that gets in the way of holy and righteous oneness, love, and respect! Leave it in your wake to die so you can live at a higher level!

Because the better we do in marriage the more we will understand the relationship between Father God, Jesus, and the Church–His Bride.

Jesus lived and laid His life down to rescue us, and rose again to prepare a place for us, fulfilling the Father’s command. We are going to spend eternity with the Father and Jesus (and the Holy Spirit), doing and enjoying the things He has planned.

Yes, relationships with others may have to suffer and even die in order for your marriage to achieve oneness, love, and respect. God knows–read Matthew 10. This life is going to have challenges in relationships. Your boundaries need fixing and maintaining. If you cannot do it for your marriage, you will not be able to do it for your relationship with God.

Are you letting others get in the way of God’s best for your marriage? If so, stop it! Fix and maintain good boundaries!

Are you living God’s command for oneness, love, and respect in your marriage? Make progress so tomorrow can and will be better than today. .

Advertisements

Strangely Greatest

“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Jesus highly praised John, and John was a strange man.

From before conception God made John strange by telling his parents that John was to drink no wine or strong drink, but instead he would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This seems to be a reference to the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6 where a man or woman would separate themselves to God for a period of time, letting their hair grow long until the end when it would be shaven and included with the specific required offerings, one of which was a lamb offered to atone for sin.

Jesus praised John for his life of separation unto Him, and for the part John played in history, namely preparing the way of the Lord by preaching a baptism of repentence–calling the people to return to God’s ways, and identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God offered for atonement of sin.

If John did follow all the Nazarite rules, then he had thirty some years of uncut hair. And he would not have gone to the  funerals of his parents, or anyone else. And he would not have drunk the wine at Passover, or any other time. These would have made him strange, but he also lived in the desert, wore rough garments, and ate a simple diet of what the wilderness had to offer (I’m thinking he was likely thin; perhaps why Jesus called him a reed). All normal social and religious customs were set aside to be focused on God.

And this strange man who focused on God and preached repentence was the one chosen and able to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God offered to atone for sin (consider the ram God provided to replace Issac on the alter, the Passover lamb, and the Temple sin offerings).

Curiously, fascinatingly, Numbers 6 established two things:  the vow of the Nazarite and the blessing God commanded Aaron to speak over and into the people:

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

When the greatest Nazarite came, he was followed by the One who embodied God’s blessing to His people. John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who atones for the sin of the world. That is blessing, grace, and peace!

Jesus, God’s Son, the Prince of Peace, the Way of Peace, the One Who gives peace to all who repent of their sin, accepting His death as their atonement, and His life as their sanctification.

Are you strangely focused on God, set apart to live for Him? Does your life identify Jesus as the Lamb of God who came to atone for sin?

Oh to be holy unto God! It is the greatest life. Strangely greatest!

May you and your spouse be holy unto God. That is the only way for your marriage to reach its full potential, to live and display Christ and the Bride.

Selah.
Shalom.

Is Your Love Like Peter’s or Jesus’?

In John 21:15-19 Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. This is one of those times we must go to the Greek to see what is really happening.

The first two times Jesus asked if Peter agape’ed Him, to which Peter replied he phileo’ed Him. The third time Jesus asked if Peter phileo’ed Him, which grieved Peter.

There is an important difference between agape and phileo. It appears Peter thought phileo was more important than agape, while Jesus believed–thereby setting the standard–that agape is more important than phileo.

So what’s the difference?

Phileo is defined in the Strongs concordance (5368) as to be a friend to, to be fond of, or have affection for, as a matter of sentiment or feeling. This contrasts with Agape (25, 26) which is to love in a social or moral sense, with affection, or benevolence, including the judgment and deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.

Consider Proverbs 17:17,

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

You have affection with friends, while siblings–notably brothers–have an adversarial role which prods us to learn conflict resolution. Conflict with friends is painful and might end the friendship. Conflict with siblings is painful, yet the loyalty of siblings usually wins out.

God does not merely want our fond affection of sentiment and feeling that changes with circumstances. Instead of that shaky structure He wants the foundation of our love for Him to be our loyalty based on our judgment and deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.

God defined Agape in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love is not proud; love is not rude; love is not selfish; love is not easily provoked; love thinks no evil, does not rejoice in evil but in truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,  endures all things. Love never fails.

When God asks a question it is for us to think and learn, because He already knows. Jesus asked Peter if he agape’ed Him, and Peter said he phileo’ed Jesus, but Jesus challenged him on that. He wanted Peter’s agape and it appears by His question He was not even getting phileo. Note that phileo runs from the cross while agape embraces it.

Peter had a lot to think about, and when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Penticost and indwelled him, he did agape Jesus, with the ultimate evidence of embracing the cross.

How do you love God, phileo or agape?
How do you love your spouse?

Is your love based on circumstances and emotion–which change like shifting sands, or on the decision of will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety–an immovable foundation able to endure the storms of life? Are you able to embrace the cross?

Remember Jesus said we are to take up our cross to follow Him. He wants us to be ultimately dedicated lovers of Him, and our spouse is our practical training ground.

If it’s not costing you your life–putting to death your corrupt nature with its selfish desires–then it’s not agape.

Is Your Marriage Shame-less?

The word shameless conjures up images of people saying or doing things they should not be saying or doing, typically involving sexuality. Think college Spring Break destinations.

Such people are displaying a calloused sense of shame, a calloused conscience, thus “shameless” or no shame, as in no sense of propriety, or a lack of high moral standards.

Western Civilization in Flames:  While Western Civilization seem hell-bent to abandon high moral standards to enjoy the shameless ride in the smoldering handbasket while ignoring the ever approaching combustion horizon, there is another sense of the word shameless to consider: shame-less: a state of being without shame due to propriety, i.e. lacking cause of shame.

[Caution! I am messing with your vocabulary: a “shameless” person commits “shameful” acts while I invented “shame-less” as the antonym meaning “without shame”; this is how my brain sometimes dissects words and starts exploring]

The Beginning: Adam and Eve were shame-less until they had sinned and realized they had acted shamefully and were now shameful.

What a shock it must have been, instantly transforming from innocence to seeing the world through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, thereby experiencing shame for the first time! No wonder they hid from God.

Our Struggle: We are all now born with this sin nature and grow up seeing the world through lust and pride, some of us fighting it as a corruption of God’s original design, and all too many assuming it is normal.

We all either retain a sense of shame by resisting shameless words or deeds, or we make our conscience callused by repeating shameless words or deeds.

Shame-less Impact On Marriage:

Positive: Avoiding shameless words and deeds frees your marriage from that kind of damage. If you were never intimate with anyone before your spouse, then your brain is not going to be playing comparison games, and more importantly, your spirit and soul will not be joined with those people (“the two shall become one flesh”) which causes ongoing issues that end only when God heals them.

Negative: Sadly, for all too many who follow Jesus’ morals this struggle against sin to keep their sense of shame functional has caused unintended damage in their marriages by inhibiting sexuality in marriage.

      “Were you a virgin till your wedding night?”    

                 “Yes!”    

                             “What did you do to achieve that? Has that impacted your marriage?” 

The strenuous interior task of fighting the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life has all too often carried over into marriage by not merely focusing sexuality to the context of marriage, but by trying to repress sexuality altogether.

Shame-Less: Between husband and wife there should be no shame. Not only in words and actions toward others, but also toward each other. What would cause shame to say or do toward others are the very things which the lack of causes shame toward each other: namely sexuality.

Flirting, seducing, foreplay, intercourse, and the whole gamut of sexuality are shameful when applied toward others, but vital to apply toward your spouse. It sounds odd to think about seducing your spouse, but once we look past negative connotations to the actual actions the topic becomes inspirational. Husband and wife should have no shame in their private intimacy. Generally, everything shameless in public toward others becomes shame-less in privacy between each other.

This reminds me of Charlie Rich singing “Behind Closed Doors”.

It’s Biblical: Sexuality is designed and given by God. Let every marriage strive to achieve what Adam and Eve had by God’s design at the beginning: they were naked and felt no shame.

Adam and Eve

If you doubt God intends husband and wife to deeply enjoy sexuality, think about God creating the nervous system’s sexual response: He thought about, designed, and created the spirit, soul, and body functions of intimacy for husband and wife’s oneness and enjoyment and called it good.

Next read Song of Songs out loud to your spouse and brainstorm what the euphemisms mean. Your Western-based thoughts will probably be conservative as you read ancient Middle Eastern passionate poetry (consider how passionate today’s Middle Easterners are). Regardless of your comprehension of the euphemisms, the emotion should come through and be inspiring. And God inspired that book to be written.

Then consider Paul’s instruction to Corinthian married couples to enjoy sex. Corinth was one of the sexual immorality capitals of the world, far more famous and open than Las Vegas and Amsterdam. Corinthians had seen the sinful side of sexuality so long they thought they had to give up sex for God–they did not understand the holy side of sexuality. Paul had to correct them by reinforcing sex is part of God’s design for a holy and healthy marriage! (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

And remember the instruction of Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The marriage bed is undefiled–it is a holy thing to come together with your spouse. God designed it and approves of it. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18) And God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply ….” (Genesis 1:28) Multiply means have kids, and kids only come from sex!

Physical intimacy is a gift from God for husband and wife. It is also part of the picture, an analogy, of God’s desire for relationship with us. (Ephesians 5) His desire for relationship will always be deeper, stronger, more passionate, more dedicated, than ours can be for Him.

Bottom line: with your spouse be without shame. It is practice for being without shame with God.

In this sense, is your marriage shame-less? Is your walk with God shame-less?

Personal Note: I am happy and blessed to say: Yes! Starting as virgins on our wedding night, we were naked and knew no shame. We praise God we both dedicated ourselves from a very young age to keep our sexuality focused on and reserved for our spouse. This dedication has sidestepped an immense amount of spiritual, emotional, and physical baggage, freeing us to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically naked together without shame, with tremendous results. Our major issues have been internal, in dealing with our sin natures, to bring every thought captive to Jesus. Those bring enough struggles; we are so thankful we have not had the baggage of past relationships. But all is healed at the foot of the cross.

Three Things I Enjoy in Marriage–Do You?

God said it is not good for man to be alone, so He made for man a help-meet–woman!

I enjoy God’s design in creating me to need my wife and her to need me. (By the way, in His creation of Adam and Eve, do you see God’s message that He wants a companion? And if you did not know, He is inviting you to be that companion.)

On the emotional level, I enjoy the companionship, the deep friendship, the soul-level understanding my wife and I share. Our culture is restful for us, a place of trust and peace.

woodsy-aspen-co-wedding-017

On the physical level, physical intimacy is an amazing feature God designed. My wife and I have enjoyed it immensely, from our wedding-night-consummation through years of ever improving experiences. We keep wondering if it can get any better, and it keeps getting better! How far does this road go?

As much as we enjoy the emotional and physical intimacy, our spiritual level intimacy is the foundation all else rests on. I enjoy our prayer times, our Bible discussions, and worship times. We encourage each other to keep pressing into God, into He who is Truth and Wisdom–and it pays tremendous dividends!

Spirit, soul, and body, God has knit my wife and I together–and I love it!

We are seeking to model Christ and the Bride, and to model unity in the Body of Christ, in accord with God’s design for all marriages and in obedience to God’s call on our lives–and we love it! Especially as we sense God’s pleasure in and for our marriage.

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things–especially marriage.

And He upholds all things by the word of His power from the right hand of the Majestic Father in heaven–especially marriage.

Do you sense God’s pleasure in and for your marriage?

Are You a Complete Man for an Outstanding Marriage?

What makes a man a real, true, complete man? Answer: Devoted obedience to God’s heart.

Consider the man who was:

 

 

  • son of a powerful,
    leading citizen
  • respected in his youth
  • chosen by God to save the people from their enemies
  • chosen as king by the people with approval from the religious authority
  • given a new heart by God
  • operated in the prophetic gifting
  • served by a group of men sent by God
  • victorious in battle

 

Yet for all this he lacked full obedience to God and devotion to God’s heart. So God told King Saul that the kingdom would pass to another (1 Samuel 9-13).

Relating this to marriage, every man is king in his home. To be truly successful in marriage a man must obey God and seek God’s heart.

It’s not enough to have rich parents, have a great past, be chosen by God, be chosen for leadership by people and even religious authorities, be given a new heart by God, operate in spiritual gifts, have God-given followers, and be successful in your endeavors.

Not only is it not enough, it is not even necessary.

What is necessary is you must obey God and seek His heart.

Obeying God and finding God’s heart transforms a man’s desires, attitudes, and viewpoints, and increasingly conforms his heart to God’s heart. This is key to a successful marriage.

It teaches and motivates a man to love his wife as Christ loves the Church: laying down his life for her, washing her with the Word of God that she would be transformed into the real, true, complete woman God desires her to be and enabling them to increasingly unify their lives, to become the one flesh God designed marriage to be. 

Of course she is also responsible to connect with God’s heart, but that’s another story.

Real men obey God and seek His heart, and are transformed in the process with one result being outstanding marriages.

Related articles

Marriage Goals From Colin Powell’s Military Experience

In his book, My American Journey, Colin Powell said, “The lessons I absorbed from Panama confirmed all my convictions of the preceding twenty years since the days of doubt in Vietnam: Image

  • Have a clear political objective and stick to it;
  • Use all the force necessary, and
  • Do not apologize for going in big if that is what it takes.
  • Decisive force ends wars quickly and in the long run saves lives.”

These lessons gleaned from Vietnam to Panama guided Colin Powell for Desert Shield and Desert Storm and benefited all involved.

I listened to the audio book as I drove to work and I connected these lessons to our marriages.

In our marriages:

  • Do we have a clear objective and are we sticking to it?
  • Are we using all the resources necessary to achieve the objective?
  • Are we living boldly or apologetically?
  • Do we apply effort decisively to overcome obstacles and achieve the objective in order to save our spiritual, emotional, and physical energy for improving and advancing rather than being used up in prolonged guerrilla warfare?

What is your marriage objective? How about modeling Christ and the Bride?

How are you allocating your resources of time and energy? Are you making progress toward your objective?

Are you able to live boldly with your spouse, or are you living apologetically? Are you thriving or just surviving?

Are you dealing decisively with and overcoming obstacles keeping you from your objective or are you just hoping they will go away without anyone being offended not realizing the advancement this is preventing? Are you improving or just maintaining?

Do you have vision or are you wandering aimlessly? Marriages with vision backed by effort grow to great heights. Marriages wandering aimlessly struggle and often fail.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 KJV

God made us with the need for vision to grab onto, a goal to work toward to discipline and constrain our lives, a standard to use on all the choices of this life to simplify and direct our efforts.

Do you see the vision? Do you have the goal? Are you using the standard? Are you focused or aimless?

What can you do today to improve your marriage? I bet it’s something in line with achieving your vision.

Related Articles:

Key Mindsets in Our Marriages — 1 Peter

Building on the previous three posts–Modeling Christ and the Bride, Reality, and Identity–I see key mindsets in 1 Peter of how to live, our marriages being the prime area we should apply these mindsets. 

  • Be focused to do the work of the Kingdom with dedicated and watchful prayers because we have the goal and deadline of Jesus’ return (1 Peter 1:13-14, 4:7).
  • Expect persecution which is your part of Christ’s sufferings, and rejoice to the extent you are able to display His glory which will enable you to have exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-16)!
  • Expect the judgment of God as loving purification, suffering according to His will to develop complete dedication to doing the Father’s plan for His kingdom and glory forever (1 Peter 4:17-19, 5:11)!
  • This is all to be done in mutually submissive humility which is a channel of God’s grace, not seeking position but opportunity to benefit each other (1 Peter 5:5b).
  • Be on your guard, because the enemy attacks with fear. Those who respond in the flesh with fear, worry, pride, scorn, denial, blinding anger, or rage will be devoured. Resist the enemy by being steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are a common experience. God–the source of grace–will use the suffering as a test and perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10).

We have a deadline; let’s unify to get as much done for the Kingdom as we can. Persecution is par for the course and opportunity for God to be glorified. We should expect God’s refining work in our life–it is as intrinsic as the air we breathe! Unify as a team through mutual humility and rejoice as God is glorified. We have an enemy, so be ready to fend off attack. God uses all forms of suffering to make us into His ideal, so go with His flow, soaking in His healing grace.

To minister to Father God’s heart and model Christ and the Bride in our marriages, we must unify as a team, submit to God’s refining, fend off all spiritual enemies, glorify God in persecution, and soak in God’s grace to be supple in His hands.

Our Identity for Marriage–1 Peter

Have you ever heard bad teaching on the husband and wife verses in 1 Peter? Or been on either end of the statement, “Wives are supposed to submit to their husbands!”

My last post was on Reality according to 1 Peter, the reality we need to recognize, accept, and align with in order to model Christ and the Bride.

Now consider what 1 Peter 1:1-2 says about your Identity–who you need to be–in order to model Christ and the Bride:

“To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:”

I hear you ask, “Are you saying this applies to me?”

Yes, this is you, as a secondary audience. Let’s take a look:

  • Pilgrim: The Greek means “in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth.” You are traveling here for a while, heaven being your home, so as a visitor you do not follow all the cultural norms and expectations of the region. Jesus is from heaven and the Bride’s real home is heaven, so live from heaven’s perspective.
  • Of the Dispersion: This refers to the group dispersed from Israel over the world due to religious persecution, where they then shared the gospel and made disciples. It can figuratively apply to us as visitors of our lands while on a mission for the kingdom of God: sharing the good news and making disciples.
  • Elect: Meaning chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. He thought of you beforehand, wanted you as His child, so He created you. You are a desired and planned child of Father God! Be in relationship with Him as His child!
  • Sanctified: Meaning to make holy by setting apart and purifying. God enables you to obey Him by making you holy through the Holy Spirit setting you apart and purifying you.
  • Obedience: Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). You are one who obeys Him out of love. Do you, Bride, love Jesus? Are you ever lovesick for Him? Does your love make you willing to do anything for Him? Do you do anything for Him?
  • Sprinkling of the blood of Jesus: Here we have the fundamental aspect of our identity. In the prior covenant removal of sin was obtained by animal sacrifice and God confirmed the covenant with the Hebrews by having Moses sprinkle blood on the alter and people (Exodus 24). In the new covenant Jesus is the sacrifice and High Priest who sprinkled His own blood on the alter in heaven and on each of us to remove our sin and confirm the covenant between us and God (Hebrews). Husband, are you in covenant with God? Wife, are you in covenant with God?

A few more details are given in 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says you are:

  • A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation
  • God’s own special people for the purpose of proclaiming His praises
  • Called from darkness to light
  • Called to your true identity, purpose, and unity
  • Called to receive mercy

How wonderful! You, desired and planned by Father God, have a covenant with God through Jesus taking away your sin so you may spend eternity with Him, therefore you are set apart and being purified by Holy Spirit both in preparation for eternity and so you may pour out His love to others here and now. You are called to receive mercy bringing you into light, into your true identity, purpose, and unity as holy royalty, made to proclaim God’s praises.  Who else but you would have grace flowing in your heart and peace being multiplied within!

Combine the 1 Peter Reality with the Identity and we begin to see a whole new viewpoint on the husband-and-wife verses in 1 Peter 3:1-7. Just the first two verses–“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by [respect]”–become mere details of explanation of how to live out Reality and Identity, how to model Christ and the Bride and thereby achieve the best marriage ever!

Instead of lording authority over each other, husbands and wives are to live lives devoted to God, knowing who you are in God, and from that foundation of Reality-plus-Identity serve each other, seeking to benefit each other to strengthen your one-flesh-team! Just as Christ and the Bride will.

Related articles

The Reality of Marriage—1 Peter

There they were, the famous words—or infamous depending on whom you have been around—regarding wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. I read them as I studied 1 Peter looking for insight into modeling Christ and the Bride.

I do not recall ever hearing teaching on them in context. By which I mean a marriage study of all of 1 Peter to get the letter’s context.

So I did my own study. Wow! The context is so important!

For my study I categorized all the verses in 1 Peter as statements of Reality, Identity, Mindsets, Goals, or Actions.

Here is a brief version of the Reality you must recognize, accept, and line up with in order to model Christ and the Bride:

  • God exists as the blessed One, and the Father of Jesus
  • Jesus is the son of God—carrying equal authority—and is Lord and Christ
  • God, from His mercy and through the resurrection of Jesus, has reborn us into a living hope and an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, waiting for us in heaven
  • God, in His power, keeps us for salvation through faith

We must believe God—the Father of Jesus Christ—exists to accurately model Jesus’ marriage. We have to believe He exists and He created everything in order to grasp eternity past as the foundation for eternity future. Without that basis there is no way to model Jesus’ marriage.

We must believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and the Lord in order to accurately model His marriage.  We have to know Jesus in His relationship with the Father and in His authority to properly relate to Him, serve Him, and model Him.

We must believe in God’s mercy, the resurrection of Jesus, and that Father God has reborn us into a living hope and incorruptible inheritance in heaven in order to accurately model Jesus’ marriage by living as the reborn new people—adopted by Father God—with the hope of our reward in eternity.

We must believe God keeps us for salvation through faith to accurately model Jesus’ marriage because we must know God’s love and forgiveness to model love and forgiveness to our spouses.

In order to model Jesus and the Bride we have to know God exists. We have to know Jesus. And know Father God. And be reborn into true hope of our inheritance in eternity. And be kept by God through faith for salvation.

And that is just the beginning. That is just the basics of Reality.