Tag Archives: Christian Living

Astrology and the Christian

[Our weekly guest-blogger article by Kyle Frank]

In our society, there is a great deal of time and attention paid to astrology. One needs only to look for a moment or two in the newspaper before the horoscope is found. Usually, the horoscope is generic enough where nearly everyone can find agreement with whatever occurrences happen each and every day. Some people will not make a major decision without checking with the stars. It is my purpose to show that this pseudo-science is not approved of by God nor to be trifled with by his children.

First of all, it is not to be confused with astronomy. Astronomy is a legitimate field of scientific study. There is a vast difference between true astronomy and the mystic occult art of astrology.

To be brief, astrology is a religion of the stars. The name comes from two Greek words “astra” which means Star, and “Logos,” which is word, reason or logic. From this, it can be seen that the term refers to the  word, or logic of stars. If you look at this carefully while watching a true devotee to astrology, you will see that it has in fact become a revived religion among millions of people in our time. When viewing biographies, one often hears of “what sign” someone was born under. In fact, when asked, most can tell you what sign they were born under.

In virtually every newspaper you will find the “horoscope” for the day and that is often the first thing that some will look for when opening that newspaper for that day. Often, some will not even leave their home until they have consulted their horoscope. In the light of this, let us look  at what God’s word has say on the subject.

During Bible times, astrology was a frequent, dangerous threat to God’s people. Baal- worship, which was heavily condemned by God through his prophets is believed to be a form of sun-worship. Isaiah said in 47:12-14  Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror. You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before!  He is pretty clear in his condemnation of their practices. Judgment was coming and his challenge to them was to protect the people, not to mention themselves. We will also look at what Jeremiah had to say on the subject. In 10:1-2 he said: “Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them.” From that reference, we can see that it was a prevalent practice among the nations surrounding Israel. His concern for his kinsmen was so that they did not follow the practices that were condemned by the Lord. In Amos 5:26 we read: You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god–your images that you made for yourselves. They were worshipping the host of heaven and judgment was coming. How much more so in these days when we have the Son of God to follow rather than these sham-dealers who pretend that they have all the answers.(?) The choice is ours-as Joshua once said, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve,” Joshua 24:15  We need to sit down and take a serious inventory of ourselves, life, and behavior. 2 Cor. 13:5 tells us to: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  Who are we to follow? Is it the Lord who has been so kind and gracious-or the horoscope, which is open to nothing but speculation? It offers nothing because it can deliver nothing.

Another part of astrology were the so-called “prophecies” by Jeanne Dixon. She made a great number of prophecies each year. Of these, only a very few would be barely even close to coming true. Remember the great number of her prophecies that would be in such great luminaries as “The Star” or other such-like papers? Compare her success  rates with God’s prophets. If you look at Deuteronomy 18:20-22: But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’– when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. If you were to judge Ms. Dixon’s success rate according to God’s scale, you would see that she came up a total and complete failure. The world held her up as a great prophet but we know the truth of the matter. We do not “follow the stars” because we follow Him who made the stars! Let us focus on that!! He tells us to follow what His Son said-not what the stars are supposed to be saying. They don’t talk, they can’t tell us the future. Why try to learn the future when they can’t know nor can they tell us? Seriously-why?

-Kyle Frank

Emotional Arguments About Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Another Tuesday is upon us, and just like last week, we’re adding another book to the rapidly-growing Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

This week, a topic that has touched almost every person in one way or another: divorce and remarriage.  As with all books written by man, make sure to compare what is written with the word of God–don’t take someone’s word for it.

I could write a lot more, but I think I’ll stop now and let you just read the book for yourself.  🙂

Click the link below to read online or download to your computer/phone/tablet/whatever:

Divorce and Remarriage – Some Emotional Arguments Considered (Lynn Parker)

Is Smoking Sinful?

 

Today, I read through a 40-year old debate book with the proposition, “The Scriptures Teach that a Christian May Smoke.”

The topic is one that I’ve written on before (see here), but it never hurts to restudy positions, so long as you come to the topic willing to accept whatever the Bible has to say on the matter.

Rolf Miller, a gospel preacher who smoked, took the affirmative in this debate, saying that smoking is not sinful in and of itself, but that in some instances it could become sinful.

Eugene Britnell, a gospel preacher who had quit smoking several years earlier, took the negative position, stating that smoking did harm to the body, and therefore it was sinful.

At some point in the future, I might post a review, giving my thoughts on the debate, and areas which didn’t get emphasized as they should have, but for now, I thought it’d be worthwhile to make it available for you as the latest addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

This short debate (44 pages) features five presentations from each writer, as well as a summary from both.

We hope that you find this debate to be interesting and a useful resource for your studies.

It can be read online or downloaded to your computer/tablet/phone/whatever by clicking the following link:

Britnell-Miller Debate on Smoking

For God’s Sake, for Christ’s Sake, and for Pete’s Sake…

James says that “faith without works is dead, being alone.”  That is, the only real faith, the only living faith, is one that is working, that is doing, that is active.  Are you an active Christian?

I once heard a man say about his home congregation, “I like our church just the size it is.”  That’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard, because what that says is “None of these lost souls in my town matter to me,” or “I don’t feel like saving any souls,” or “I’m perfectly content to let them all go to hell.”

No matter how you want to phrase it, that attitude is wrong.  No matter how many people you have in the building on a Lord’s Day morning, it isn’t enough!  There are literally hundreds or thousands of people in your hometown who are alone, living without Jesus, without salvation, without hope.  And as Christians–active Christians, we need to start doing a better job of bringing them to Christ.

This week you have a certain amount of people in attendance.  Next week, top that number.  Be realistic, but do your part to plant the seed and trust in God to do His part.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase”!  When you do your part, God will do His and you’ll be amazed at the results.

An active Christian is one who is out doing the will of the Lord.  But why be an active Christian?

For God’s sake, be an active Christian.

Read John 3:16.  He sent Jesus Christ for your sake.  Read that verse again, but this time, instead of the phrase “the world,” put your own name there.  Read it out loud.  “For God so loved [your name] that He gave His only begotten Son…”  God did that for your sake.  And all He asks in return is that you serve Him and tell other people about Him and what He’s done for them.

Remember, you can put your name in that verse, but you also need to put other people’s name in that verse.  For God so loved Bob, my next-door neighbor, that he gave His only begotten Son.  For God so loved my teacher, or my cousin, or the cashier at the grocery store, that He gave His only begotten Son.

For God’s sake, be an active Christian.

For Christ’s sake, be an active Christian.

Jesus had you in mind when He was dying, hanging on the cross, blood dripping down, being mocked by the people around Him.  He was thinking about you.  “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“Greater love has no man than this: that he should die for his friends.”  Jesus spoke those words the night before He died–the night before He died for you. John 15:13.

Since Jesus did that for your sake, is it really asking all that much for you to tell others about Him?

For Christ’s sake, be an active Christian.

For the church’s sake, be an active Christian.

Look, let’s be honest.  We need you.  Each and every person in the pews is needed.  Jesus said that the fields are ripe, ready to be harvested, but there’s a lack of workers.  Pray to the Father to send out workers! (Luke 10:2).  There are people out there, wanting to know the truth, ready to follow Jesus, but they need someone to tell them about Him.

I’ve been reading a book, written by a brother in Christ back in the 1960s.  In that book was a very thought-provoking line that … well, let’s just say it hit me pretty hard.

What would Jesus do if he were a member of the congregation where I worship?

Would Jesus leave any person of your acquaintance out of His efforts to save if He physically lived here on earth today?  If so, which person would He omit? (Ideas for Bible School Growth by Alan M. Bryan, page 10)

Of all the people you know, that you work with, that you live near, that you go to school with, that you’re related to, whatever the case may be–which ones do you think Jesus would ignore?  Which ones do you think Jesus would walk by without a word?  Which ones do you think Jesus would say, “He’s not worth my time”?

You know the answer to that question.  So, “Go ye and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

For the church’s sake, be an active Christian.

For Pete’s sake, be an active Christian.

Every time I hear people say “for Pete’s sake,” I want to say, “I only know one person who goes by the name of Pete, and he lives in England.  So what exactly does he have to do with this?”

Thousands of lost souls are in this town, and we need to reach them all.  Let’s call them all Pete.  Not to their face, mind you, but let’s just think of each of the lost souls in this town as people in need of the gospel.  They are people who are in desperate need of an active Christian to touch their lives and help them come to Christ.

This helps bring people to Christ, but it also has the glorious side benefit of encouraging yourself and the whole congregation.  You make yourself happier, you bring joy to other Christians, you bring Pete to the Lord.  Really, the only one who loses in this whole scenario is Satan.

There are a lot of Pete’s in the world who are going to die without Christ, without hope unless someone teaches them about Jesus.  Be an active Christian for their sake.

For Pete’s sake, be an active Christian.

For your own sake, be an active Christian.

Faith without works is dead.  And a dead faith won’t get you very far when Jesus returns.

Who needs to come to Jesus?  It’s your friends.  It’s your neighbors.  It’s your co-workers.

Maybe it’s you.

“No,” you say.  “I’m good with Jesus.”  Are you really?  Are you certain?  Would Jesus agree with your assessment?

“Not all who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Jesus said it requires doing God’s will.  It means being active and obeying God’s commands.  Jesus describes a judgment scene in Matthew 25, and if you’ll notice the judgment was based on who was active and who was not.

It’s a wonderful thing to serve the kind, merciful, loving God of heaven.  Don’t you think it’s time you get right with Him?

For your own sake, be an active Christian.

A growing church starts with you.

-Bradley S. Cobb

When Shovels Break (by Michael Shank) – A Review

I’ve known Michael Shank for the better part of a decade, and we both “cut our teeth” doing fill-in preaching for the same little congregation in Southern Illinois.  So, it was with great pleasure that I wrote the first real review of his first book, Muscle and a Shovel (you can read the review/article at BrotherhoodNews.com).  A few years have passed, and God has used Muscle and a Shovel in ways far beyond what I–or anyone else–could have imagined.

Soon after it began to spread through the brotherhood, Mike began work on his second book, When Shovels Break.  It has taken a few years, but it’s finally ready.

And let me tell you this: It is powerful.

While Muscle and a Shovel was written for the non-Christian, to help show them the biblical path to life in Christ, When Shovels Break was written for the struggling Christian, the wayward Christian, the unfaithful brother or sister in Christ.  It is a stirring testimony that no matter what you have done, no matter how far you have fallen away from Him, God is always ready to take you back and forgive you.

But there’s more to When Shovels Break than that–a LOT more.

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A Sequel

When Shovels Break acts as a sequel to Muscle and a Shovel in many respects.  It follows the life of Michael Shank and his wife where the previous book left off.

But it also introduces us to one of Mike’s oldest friends, a man named John.  John and Mike had a lot in common: both came to Christ around the same time (both converted by “Randal”), worked  in the same industry, lived in the same neighborhood, even liked the same kinds of food.  In fact, John and Mike were as close as two friends could be.

The book begins [and this isn’t much of a spoiler, since Mike posted the first chapter on Facebook months ago] with John distraught over his sinful life, absolutely certain that he’s lost forever, not seeing any way of hope, and Mike trying to help him.  Then John lifts the gun to his head.

What could bring a man–a baptized believer in Jesus Christ–to such desperation that he thinks the only way out is to kill himself?  Could God ever take him back after all the sins he’s committed?  After he’s insulted his Savior by going back headlong into a life of sin?

A Message for the Church

Muscle and a Shovel was written for non-Christians, but it became a great tool to teach faithful members of the Lord’s church that evangelism doesn’t have to be hard!  It gave a clear and simple method to help show others God’s path to salvation.  It served to energize once-inactive Christians into active service for their Lord.  It helped remind experienced brethren of what they were fighting for, and the Lord’s church has become stronger as a result of God’s use of that book.

When Shovels Break is also a great tool for members of the Lord’s church.  Throughout the story of Mike and John’s life, you will see very clearly the importance of having brothers and sisters in Christ who care.  You will see the damage that can be done through a brother’s (or a congregation’s) indifference and the discouragement it can cause others.

This new book is also an example of God’s providence.  In the later part of the story, we get to see how God worked so many unexpected (and sometimes frustrating) things out in Mike’s life to bring him to the point of writing and publishing Muscle and a Shovel.  That bit of information is a nice little bonus to those who like to know “the rest of the story.”

You’ll also probably chuckle as Mike tries to show the Jule Miller Filmstrips to a bunch of drunks.

The Road Back Home

I surprised Mike when I told him that I thought the final dozen or so chapters were just as good–if not even better–than the story itself.  But I stand by it.

After concluding the story itself, Mike dedicates several chapters to a straight-forward conversation with Christians.  He devotes time to showing wayward members the way back home, but he also writes to encourage brethren whose strength may be faltering.  He describes some of these chapters as “God’s plan to keep you from ever falling away again–ever.”

And they are good.

The Survey

I’m not a prophet, but I believe the part of the book that will have the most impact within the church is where Mike gives the results of a survey he conducted, interviewing 400 people who have left the church.  It is an eye-opener–and it shows that the church itself must take at least part of the blame for their departure.

Final Thoughts

Even though I was already privy to part of the story (a side benefit of being friends with Mike since before Muscle and a Shovel), I got goosebumps reading through it.  Mike writes with a clarity and emotional power that makes you instantly identify with his struggles.  You hurt when he hurts.  You get frustrated when he is frustrated.  And you rejoice when he rejoices.

And you will never look at the Ego Board the same way again.

[note: I was not asked to write a review, but I thought it needed to be done]

To get your own copy of When Shovels Break, you can order direct from Mike Shank (or if you want it in Kindle format, it’s available here).

Are You Behaving Unseemly?

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Over the past several weeks, we’ve been posting articles on how to have a great marriage.  We’re continuing that theme again this week by looking at the ways the Bible describes love.

Unseemly

If you’ve got a King James Bible, and you look at I Corinthians 13:5, you’ll see that charity [love] does not behave itself unseemly.

Now what exactly does this word mean?

Unseemly is acting rudely. It’s making snide comments under your breath as you walk off. It’s mocking your spouse.  But this word also includes the idea of behaving disgracefully, indecently, or dishonorably.

I hope you’re starting to get the picture here. This covers a LOT.

It’s being out in public and being loud and obnoxious—embarrassing your wife. Belching loudly, getting drunk, making a spectacle of yourself.

It’s engaging in lewd behavior, telling inappropriate jokes, flirting with other women or men, letting other men or women flirt with you.

It’s wearing clothing in public that is too tight, or too short, or which are open down to the top of the breasts.

You might say, “wait a minute. What does wearing low-cut shirts have to do with love?”

If you love your husband, you’ll keep what’s his covered, and you will not be showing it off to anyone who happens to glance in your direction. Your body belongs to HIM. Letting other people peek at your body because you’re not covering it up enough is the opposite of love.

What about homosexual marriage?

You might wonder why I’m even bringing this up here, especially since we covered that pretty clearly in this post.  It all has to do with that word “unseemly.”

This same basic Greek word also appears in Romans 1:27. There, God says, “Likewise also, the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with me working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error that was due.”

So, let’s make a sound, logical, Biblical argument here.

1. Homosexuality is called “unseemly.”
2. True love does not behave “unseemly.”
3. Therefore, homosexuality is not truly “love.”

Or, to put it another way, homosexuals have completely lost any right to claim “love” as an excuse for their sinful behavior.

You want a good marriage? Then don’t behave unseemly.  That is, don’t be rude. Don’t be obnoxious. Don’t give undue attention to people of the opposite sex other than your spouse. Don’t show off your body.

In short, put your mate first.

Don’t Do This…

Me, me, me. I, I, I. I’m the one who matters. I’m the one who’s important. Let’s focus on me!

That’s so annoying! We don’t like being around people who always focus on themselves.  No, we want to be around people who will focus their attention on US! Because we’re the ones that should be focused on, right?

One person recently said that he was trying to do a comprehensive sermon on the topic of sin, and asked what he should include in it.  One of the answers was, “All sin is self-centered. It’s all about me. It’s focused only on what I want. That’s why there’s an “i” in the middle of “sin”.”

And that’s absolutely true. We are all tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. And when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is full grown, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15).

Love is the opposite of sin.  Love—true love—is selfless. It is focused on the needs of others. It is putting other people first.  It’s true in every relationship. And it’s especially true in marriage.

We’ve looked at a couple things that love is. You’ll remember, “if you REALLY love me, you’d be patient with me,” and “If you REALLY love me, you’d be kind.”

Starting today, we’re going to look at some things that love ISN’T.

That is, these are things that will be noticeably absent from a great marriage.  So, if you want to have a great marriage (you do, right?), read on:

Don’t be envious

Look at I Corinthians 13:4.  Love is not envious (KJV) Love is not jealous (NASB).

These are two very similar ideas.  Jealousy is feeling bitterness at others because of what they have.  Envy is wanting what someone else has—their success, their money, their looks, their life, etc…

The Corinthians had a real problem with this. People were jealous—envious of other Christians who had supposedly “better” miraculous gifts. So, really, Paul’s using this opportunity to show them that when they’re envious, they’re not obeying the command to “love one another.”

But how does this fit in marriage?

After all, I don’t think a single one of you guys wishes you looked like your wife. And I know that not a one of you women wish that you had your husband’s looks.

But there is jealousy and envy in marriage ALL THE TIME.

The wife who stays home is envious of her husband because he is able to interact with real adults during the day. She’s jealous of the fact that he gets to go somewhere to work while she’s stuck at home. Some wives are jealous of the attention that their husbands get from others—he is praised for his accomplishments and she feels ignored by comparison.  Many wives feel a resentment to their husband—a feeling of envy—because of these things.

On the other side, husbands can be envious of their wife because she gets to stay at home all day and do nothing. One man made it very clear that he’d love to trade places with his wife because she only had to take care of a couple kids, and meanwhile he had to do “real work.” Other men hear their wife get complimented, and they are bitter because she’s getting attention and they’re not.

It goes both ways.

You can’t be envious.

You have to be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).  The basis of envy is that you aren’t content with what you already have.  It’s having a poor self-image.

Hey, Jesus died for you. He thinks you’re pretty important. And for some reason, that’s not good enough for you? You still want more? You still want what someone else has?

It’s time to change your focus to what you HAVE instead of what you DON’T have.  Instead of being jealous, wanting what your spouse supposedly has, be happy for them!  If your spouse is getting complimented because they’ve lost weight, or they’ve gotten a promotion, or they’ve accomplished something, BE HAPPY for them!

Realize that the things you’re jealous of might not really be the way they seem.  Oh, he gets to go to a job and interact with adult people every day. More likely, he’s going to a frustrating place and dealing with people who frequently don’t know how to do their job, and it is a place of immense stress.

Oh, she gets to stay home and do nothing all day except watch the kids. Yeah, if you think that, you need to get something called a “clue.” She’s home dealing with immature children who require constant supervision, and she’s deprived of any real intellectual interaction during that time.

If you want to have a great marriage, and one that is also pleasing to God (double bonus!), you need to kick envy out of the house.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Be Nice…

a.k.a. “How to Have a Great Marriage (part five)”

If You Love Me, You’ll Be Nice to Me

Love is kind (I Corinthians 13:4).

Kindness is one of those things that can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it.  It’s being friendly. It’s smiling. It’s showing someone that you are interested in them as a person. It’s taking time to be there for them and lending a helping hand. It’s taking the time to listen to what they have to say. Not just sitting there while they’re talking, but actually listening.

Kindness is not these things:

  • yelling at someone.
  • being mean.
  • treating them like they’re worthless.

In order to have a great marriage, a God-honoring marriage, you must be kind to your spouse.  You want your spouse to be nice to you, right? You don’t want a mean husband or a cantankerous wife. So, you be the kind spouse YOU are supposed to be.

You have no right to tell your wife to be kind to you if you’re a jerk to her. And vice versa.

Some husbands ignore their wives–not paying attention to what they say, not paying attention to what they need. In short, they aren’t being kind to their wives, and they need to repent.

Kindness means you give your spouse a smile. Kindness means you stop what you’re doing and listen to her when she needs to talk. Kindness means you listen to him talk about sports, even if it’s more boring than reading stereo instructions. Again, it’s not just being quiet; it’s actually listening to them.

You have to show your spouse that you care.

Get out your steel-toed boots, because it’s toe-stomping time! Let’s notice how God put this together.  Love is patient and is kind (I Corinthians 13:4). He connected these two.

When your spouse does something you don’t like, you’re supposed to be patient with them. And you’re supposed to be kind to them.

Do you realize what this means? This means, even when you’re mad at your husband, you don’t yell at him. You don’t scream at him. You don’t ignore him. You don’t treat him like he’s scum. You don’t make out like he’s the most horrible thing since moldy bread. You don’t decide it’s a good time to bring up all of his past mistakes.

This means when you’re upset with your wife, you don’t insult her. You don’t yell at her. You don’t throw things. You don’t berate her. You don’t say things like “you never do this,” or “you ALWAYS do that.” You don’t start bossing her around.

And—whether you’re the husband or the wife—DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT say, “If you REALLY loved me, you wouldn’t do that.” That’s an emotional attack and an insult to them, and it is NOT showing love or kindness or patience when you say it.

Instead, you treat your spouse with kindness—even when they’ve messed up.

The question now comes up, what if your spouse has stopped trying? What if your spouse has shown over a period of time WITHOUT QUESTION that he/she doesn’t care? That they think you’re unimportant? That they think you’re not worth trying for?  Are you still expected to be patient and kind to them then?

And the answer is this: the Bible says to love one another. It’s a command. It doesn’t say, “Love one another so long as it’s convenient.” It doesn’t say “love one another so long as that person is trying”. It says “Love one another” PERIOD.

So, since we are commanded to love one another, we must be patient with our spouse.  Since we’re commanded to love one another, we must be kind to our spouse. ALL the time, not just when it suits us.

Because, let’s be honest. Yelling and being mean isn’t going to get anyone to change.

If you want your spouse to change, I guarantee you that yelling, screaming, berating, or being mean is NOT going to get it done. But patience and kindness can.  They are much more powerful than anger.  “God has called us to peace. For what do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, oh man, whether you will save your wife?” (I Corinthians 7:15-16).

If you REALLY love me, you’ll be kind.  Because love is kind.

Putting It Into Practice

Now if you put your boots away, get ’em back out because here is where it REALLY starts to hurt.

You’re in the middle of a head-butting session with your spouse. They’re being unreasonable. They’re being hard-headed. And you’re ready to just put them in their place, Bible-style! So, you open up your mouth and say, “Hey, the Bible says that if you love me, you’ll be kind!”

And you know that will completely fix things immediately. Your spouse will stop and look at you and with a bright sincere smile on their face say, “you’re right. I’m sorry. I should never have been fighting with you.” I hope you’ve caught the sarcasm there.

No, that’s nothing more than using your own bad attitude to attack someone else.

Instead, you need to talk to yourself (you’re the only one you can control) and say, If I really love her/him, I’ll be kind.  If I really love her/him, I’ll be patient.

See, they’ll have to answer for their own attitude problems. You have to control what YOU are doing.

If you REALLY love me, you’d be patient and kind to me. That is 100% true. But you must first start with the log sticking out of your own eye and admit, “If I REALLY love you, I’ll be patient and kind to you.”

YOU need to be the one to start. YOU need to be the one to take the first step. YOU need to be the one who shows patience and kindness—because if you don’t, it means you don’t really love them.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Think about it.  It’s worth the effort.

“If You REALLY Loved Me, You Would … “

a.k.a. “How to Have a Great Marriage (part four)”

There’s a game that gets played at church camps and other youth gatherings on occasion, and here’s how it’s played:

All of the kids, except for one, will sit on chairs in a circle. The person who is “it” stands in the middle of this circle, and he looks for a place to sit down—someone whose chair he wants to take. In order to do this, he has to go up to one of the people sitting down and—without touching them—get them to smile by only saying the words, “Honey, if you love me, you’ll smile.” The person sitting down has to reply—with a straight face—”Honey, I love you, but I just can’t smile.” If they crack a smile at all, they have to give up their seat.

It’s funny to watch them struggle against smiling, and it’s also just as funny to see how dramatic the person can get who is asking them to smile.

But there’s something I’d like for you to think about…

People try to make demands of love all the time.

  • IF you love me, you’ll smile.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you wouldn’t complain about visiting my parents.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d take me out to eat.

Those might seem kinda funny. But how about these:

  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d become a Baptist (this happens)
  • Or when a couple is dating—before they’re married—if you REALLY loved me, you’d have sex with me.

And you want to know what most of this boils down to? Someone being self-centered and saying, “You don’t really love me if you don’t do what I want to do.”

YOU DON’T REALLY LOVE ME if you don’t give in to my demands!

Talking like that is hypocritical. It is egotistical. It is mean-spirited. It is emotional warfare. And it is something that can destroy your marriage.

Why? Because most of the time when people use this phrase, they’re trying to manipulate their spouse. Because most of the time, when people use the “If you love me…” they are demanding something that has nothing to do with love at all! Because most of the time, when someone says, “if you really love me…” they’re showing that they don’t really love the person they’re talking to.  Because many times, when people say “If you love me…”, they’re trying to get the other person to sin.

They’re asking you to prove your love by doing something that doesn’t prove love at all!

Satan used this tactic when talking to Jesus. (Matthew 4).

  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by jumping off a building.
  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by doing a selfish miracle.

These things wouldn’t have proven Jesus was the Son of God. It would have proven quite the opposite, because He would be sinning.

God says there are things that you will do if you really love your spouse.

It’s not wrong to say, “if you REALLY love me you will _____.” That is, so long as you fill in the blank with something actually that the Bible says about love.  After all, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.”

If you REALLY love me, you’ll be patient with me (I Corinthians 13:4).

“Charity [Love] suffers long.”

The word “charity” is AGAPE, or love.  It’s the love we are commanded to have for each other (John 13:34).  As we mentioned last week, we are all supposed to have this kind of love for our spouse.

So, in order to have a God-honoring marriage, a marriage that is pleasing to God, a marriage that is happy and enjoyable and GREAT, we will “suffer long” with our spouse.

The phrase “suffers long” is the same word which is also translated “endured” and “patient” in other verses.  In order to have a God-honoring marriage, you have to be patient with your spouse.  You have to be long-suffering with your spouse.

What’s that mean? It means you may have to suffer for a long time with your spouse.  People don’t change overnight. Bad habits take time to overcome. Love is a learning process. People make mistakes.

As a spouse, you MUST exercise patience. You HAVE TO give them time to get things right. You may have to endure a lot, but if you do, your strengthened marriage will be worth it.

A woman confessed to a marriage counselor, “I love him, but I can’t stand it. He’s always messing up. I’ve been after him for years to improve himself. He still says things sometime without even thinking. I’ve had it up to here with him!”

The marriage counselor shook his head and said, “You don’t really love him.” Shocked, she said, “Of course I love him!” He repeated, “You don’t really love him. You said yourself that you constantly criticize him because he hasn’t changed enough for you yet.”

“So? I still love him.”

“You’re not patient with him. And love is patient. No patience? That means you don’t love him.”

If you aren’t patient with your spouse, it means you don’t really love him/her.

Now, I understand, it’s easier said than done. But do you really think God’s going to accept your excuse of “he keeps messing up” when he asks why you weren’t patient with your spouse?

After all, YOU keep messing up too, and God is patient with you.

A comic strip I read a couple years ago had two women talking to each other. One of them says, “What’s that smoke?” The other one says, “Well, Ole Ben burned dinner.” “And what’s that big stain on your shirt?” “Well, Ole Ben spilled grape juice one me.” Why didn’t you get it cleaned?” “Well, Ole Ben cleaned it for me. And then he dropped it in the mud when he was hanging it out to dry.” “Sounds like your husband messes up everything he touches. I’d be furious!” “Naw, I love him.” “How could you love someone who keeps destroying your stuff?” ” I love him because no matter how much he messes up, he keeps trying.”

When YOU keep trying, regardless of how much you mess up, God will forgive you.  When YOUR SPOUSE keeps trying, you should have patience with them.

Even when it seems like your spouse ISN’T trying, you need to have patience with them.  You can’t expect him to become a perfect husband overnight. If you start trying to change everything he does, you know what message that sends to him? I don’t like you the way you are. If there are things that need to be changed, you need to be patient, realizing it may take years before it finally takes hold; before he finally “gets it.”

And husbands, if you want your wife to change the way she does some things, you have to be patient too. It takes time to change and to get used to doing things differently. BE PATIENT.

“If you love me, you’ll be patient with me.”

This is true, because “Love is patient.”

How to Have a Great Marriage (part three)

A couple posts ago, we mentioned that love is not a requirement for God to recognize a marriage as valid.  And that’s true. Love isn’t a requirement for God to join two people together (Matthew 19:4-5).

However, it IS a requirement for your marriage to be pleasing to God, to be a God-Honoring marriage.

Love your spouse.

What kind of love?

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I love pizza. They’ll also tell you that I love my kids. But obviously these aren’t the same kind of love.

Even in the Bible, there are different kinds of love.

  • The Pharisees LOVE to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners (Matthew 6:5).
  • Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • Beware of the scribes which LOVE to go in long clothing, and LOVE salutations in the marketplace (Mark 12:38).

Three different verses, three different Greek words that are translated “love.”

In the New Testament, there are generally two different words for “love.”

Agape – This is the most common word which is translated LOVE in the New Testament. It means a conscious decision to put someone else first. It is sacrificial. It is what God has towards us (John 3:16) and what we are to have towards God (Matthew 22:37).

Phileo – This word shows friendship. It shows enjoying something. It might be better translated as “like”, as in “I like this.” We sing, “I’ll be a friend to Jesus,” and that is exactly what is commanded of us (I Corinthians 16:22 – If any man does not love [LIKE–phileo] the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema). It is what Jesus is to us, if we obey Him (John 15:14 – Ye are my friends [LIKED ONES–philos] if ye keep what I have commanded you).

But what kind of love are you supposed to have for your spouse? The answer may surprise you!

You must show agape love towards your spouse.

Husbands are commanded to AGAPE their wife (Ephesians 5:28).

Husbands must stop thinking about themselves and put their wife’s needs first. That means her physical needs (provide food, shelter, clothing). That means her emotional needs (which falls under showing her “respect”). That means her spiritual needs—many women are not being led spiritually by their husband.

How can a husband show this love?

Lots of ways—but it’s not the one-time acts that matter. It’s the constant, day-in and day-out acts that show you truly have AGAPE for your wife.  Changing diapers. Carrying the groceries. Helping with housework. Turning off the TV and just talking with her. Taking care of the kids so she can rest.

And it’s doing these things with no strings attached.

John spent a couple hours cleaning the kitchen and living room of his house. Then his wife comes home, and he helps her carry in the groceries. She smiles, and he says, “I’m going to the ballgame with the boys.” She objects, “but we were going to have a nice quiet night at home.” He says, “Look, I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. What else do you want from me?”

He did those things, not out of love, but because he expected something in return.

Wives must show agape love towards their husband (John 15:12).

Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  This applies to everyone, including wives.  This means that wives are to show AGAPE to others—including her husband.

It is interesting that there is no direct command “wives, AGAPE your husband.”  We can deduce that it’s necessary from other passages (love thy neighbor as thyself, for example). All the “love one another” passages prove that a wife must show AGAPE to her husband.

God made a specific command for husbands to AGAPE their wife. In fact, it’s stated point-blank multiple times in the Bible (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33, Colossians 3:19).

A marriage where both spouses show this love for each other will grow, and it will be a blessing to both of them.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a great story about a man and his wife. It’s Christmastime, but they are very poor. They want so desperately to get a gift—a meaningful gift—for the other, but neither can afford it. The husband has an old gold pocket watch that he got from his father. It’s the most important possession he has in the whole world. But he takes it and pawns it so that he can buy his wife a new hairbrush to use on her long hair. A bit later, the wife comes into the house. He presents her with the brush and she begins to cry. She takes the scarf off of her head, and he sees that her long hair is gone. She had cut it off and sold it so she could afford to buy him a gift—a gold chain to use for his pocket watch.

Love is putting your spouse first.

You must show PHILEO love towards your spouse.

God commands that you be friends with your spouse. God commands that you enjoy their company. God commands that you LIKE them.

Wait a second, how can God tell me to like them if I don’t like them?

You know, if you become the spouse YOU’RE supposed to be, it’s likely that they will be more like the spouse THEY’RE supposed to be. And liking them will come naturally.

And honestly, especially in America, if you’re married to them, that means you like them—or at least you did at one point. God’s just telling you to keep liking them.

Wives are to LIKE their husbands (Titus 2:4).

The older women were to teach the younger women to love (PHILEO) their husbands.

In a society that encourages women to complain about their husbands, to stand up to them, don’t take no garbage from them, women’s lib and all that stuff…it’s important that we teach our girls that they are supposed to love their husbands—to like their husbands. To enjoy their company. To be friends with them.

Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do. More than once, you’ve probably heard (or maybe even said) the words, “I still love you, but I don’t like you right now.”

If you don’t like your husband, then repent and start being his friend again.

Acts 28:2 translates this same word as “kindness.” It means showing kindness—being a friend.

Husbands are to LIKE their wives.

Just as there is no direct statement that wives are supposed to AGAPE their husbands, there is no direct statement that husbands are to LIKE their wives.

However, if both are Christians (which is how it should be), the following verses settle the matter:

  • Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love (PHILEO for your brethren in Christ) in honor, preferring one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1).

The Scriptures specifically say that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

The Scriptures also tell us that Christ is a friend to His people—the church (John 15:15).

If you love your spouse with AGAPE love, true love with no strings attached, your marriage will be happier and healthier.  If you make it a point to be a friend with your spouse, your marriage will be stronger for it.

Now don’t go home today and say, “honey, you need to read this article on TheCobbSix.com. You need to start loving me better and being a better friend.”

DON’T DO THAT!

It all starts with YOU. YOU do your part. No strings attached. YOU do it. YOU be the one you’re supposed to be.  If you do that, you may be very surprised at how much they start to change as well.

Almost all troubled marriages are missing something. Respect has gone AWOL. Love—both kinds—has been replaced with anger and hatred. And if those things aren’t changed—if love and respect aren’t brought back into the marriage, it will fail.

A man and woman are sitting at the kitchen table. On her plate is a piece of toast—the end piece. She hates the end piece, and finally, after years of her husband giving it to her, she erupts. “Why do you hate me? You give me this stinking end piece of the bread every time. I HATE the end piece, yet you insist on giving it to me for the whole ten years we’ve been married. Why? WHY?!?” After the initial shock subsides, he looks over at her and says, “I didn’t know you didn’t like it. You never told me. I wish you would have. The end has always been my favorite.”

Jesus loves you. And He expects you to show that same love to others—especially your spouse.