Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

The Answer

Over the weekend, we participated in the wedding of a great young couple. I would describe it as a perfect example of marriage, as defined in the Bible. Two young people, committed first of all to their Lord, and then to each other. Congratulations to Adair and Anita Ballagh. You have set the bar high for those who are watching.

I enjoy the early part of the day; those first hours after sunrise are the best. Sunday morning, I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He had some good thoughts that apply to current times, maybe even more so today than when he preached.

He related that in his time, people were asking, what is the reason for the violence and all the unrest that is going on? His one-word answer to the question was this: Ungodliness! We do not have to look very far today, to see that he is right. In a godless society, immorality rises, when men exhibit godly behavior, morality returns.

According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, when people turn their backs on the Bible, its instruction concerning morals, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, immorality is rampant. I ask, is this not a picture of society in our day?

We are failing to see the real problem, and in doing so, we miss the remedy. People who behave badly are told to “just be good.” If that doesn’t work, some try medication, or someone suggests it is a psychological problem and they call in mental health people to find the cause.

Here is the truth: The problem is the same as it has been since the Garden of Eden. Sin! People just can’t be “good.” Do you remember what the scripture says about being good? “There is no one righteous (good), not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…. there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

So then, the answer to the problem of sin in the world is Jesus Christ!

Standing on His Truth,
Pastor Jerry

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Marriage God’s Way

Finally, it rained! Now, it seems the wind takes center stage. At any rate, I guess it all goes with the territory. As someone said, it is part of living here.

I have not specifically addressed the issue of same-sex marriage and related topics in this column, but perhaps it is time I did so. Let me say first of all, I believe the concept is not even mentioned in the Bible. God established the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18, 24; Genesis 5:2). I find no other description of marriage anywhere in His word.

This idea of people of the same gender having the right to enter into a marriage, is the furthest from what God intended. Those who believe the Bible is wrong in this area, or that it no longer is relevant, have believed a lie straight from the devil.

Now, I know there are those who will challenge me in this area, perhaps even quoting that scripture that says “judge not”. I cannot judge a person’s heart, that is God’s responsibility. However, I believe the Christian has the responsibility to call attention those things God has said are sinful. Remember, though, we are cautioned to deal with our own sin before attempting to help someone else.

I believe the Ten Commandments are commands, not suggestions, and they are not outdated. God’s word is true and He does not change. The things He calls sin are still sin. Just because the world is chasing after sensual pleasure and self-gratification of all kinds, doesn’t make it right or acceptable to God.

One more point that needs to be made here is this; being tempted to sinful behavior is not sinning. Giving in to temptation is sin. The good news is this: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins. (1 John 1:9). The follow-up is that we turn from that sin (John 8:1-8).

The Bible is not hard to understand when it comes to what it calls sin. Most of the things we don’t understand are probably not that important in our daily lives. Here is a quote from Mark Twain; “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Christmas Reflections

We are in that spot between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sometimes it seems like the “lost week.” We are still tired from all the activities of the Christmas season, and not quite ready to face the challenges of turning another page on the calendar. I think I’ll take the time to share some personal observations of the last few days.

There is much excess in our celebration of Christmas. Very few would argue the point. This is seen in commercial advertising of all kinds. Businesses and companies are in competition for everyone’s Christmas dollars. People with limited incomes are coerced into spending money they don’t have, because they don’t want to be seen as uncaring or unloving at Christmas.

The Christmas story in the Bible centers on a family who has very little, but to this family was born the Son of God. It must grieve God to see what Christmas has become.

One thing I see and hear over and over at Christmas time is this: “It’s all about family.” Let me tell you, it isn’t all about family. It is about the birth of the Savior of the world. It is about God taking on human flesh, living among us and dying for our sins. God gave us marriage and families as part of his divine plan, and we are grateful that He did, but that is not what Christmas celebrates.

There are a lot of people attacking the sanctity and meaning of marriage these days, and I will defend the biblical definition of marriage and family to the end, but let us not put it in the place of the celebration of Christ’s birth and God’s plan to save people from their sin.

It takes a man and a woman to make a marriage and to have a family, but Christmas can be celebrated by people of all kinds, whether or not they have family, or even have the opportunity to be with their family. Christ came for all people.

In the words of the announcing angel, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people, today in the city of David, a Savior is born, Christ the Lord!”

Upon further reflection, I guess Christmas is about family…it is about the family of God. They are the ones who can truly celebrate the Savior’s birth.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

What About the Children?

Dear friends,
We have new developments in moving our house. The plan is to get the concrete runners and the perimeter walls poured this week. The house mover has told me he can move the house in September. What fun! It also means I had better get busy getting the house ready for the move.
School starts in Wheeler county this week. Alex is a freshman this year, and his height has been officially measured at 6′ 3/4″. Needless to say, he has left grandpa and grandma in the dust…
I have no profound wisdom to share this week. I will just share an experience from our last visit to the grocery store. I hope what I am about to share will be food for thought.
You are probably aware of the new Coca Cola sales campaign that encourages you to share a Coke with a person named on the label. I admit to looking for my name on a bottle of Coke. So far, I’ve only found Alex’s name in our family, not that I send all my time looking at Coke bottles…
Back to the story: As we came down the soft drink aisle, there was a little girl sorting through the bottles on display. We asked if she was looking for a particular name. Her reply after some serious thinking was this: “How can I say this? I’m looking for one for Mommy’s friend, and one for Daddy’s  friend.”
This conversation made me very sad, but it is certainly a sign of the times in which we live. What is sad is the fact that we have all these children having to deal with things they shouldn’t be experiencing, because Mom and Dad are more concerned with their own “happiness”, than that of their kids.
Two verses of scripture come to mind here: 1) “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). 2) “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
I’m not just picking on fathers, there is plenty of blame to go around. However, as head of the household, fathers should make every effort to keep the family together.
I pray this little story will cause someone to stop and consider the effect that their actions will have on their children in the days and years to come.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Jerry

 

Frying Bacon

Dear readers,
We’ve been glad for some cooler temperatures. At least, we haven’t had any of those hundred degree days. We had a couple of small rain showers toward the end of the week. In other news, progress is being made toward moving our house to Lake Ericson.
Now to our devotional thought for the week: The  sixth commandment says we are not to commit murder. The Lord Jesus said anger out of control can result in murder. The lesson is that we need to keep angry thoughts and attitudes under control. The following story may cause us to pause and reflect on our attitudes concerning those we love.
Frying Bacon: One morning recently, while still harboring a bit of anger over a perceived slight the day before, I was frying bacon for breakfast. My dear wife was beside me frying the eggs. She likes her bacon crisp, while I like mine less so. I was determined to give her crisp bacon for a change. My attitude was “I’ll show her I can do this!”
As the bacon began to get crisp, it also took on a burnt look along the edge. I said, “Is this crisp enough?” Her response was, “Why are you being so naughty?”
Well, I denied any such motive, but she was right, and later I apologized for being so childish…after all, I am much too old for that kind of immature display…
The moral of the story: Don’t hang on to those angry thoughts, words, and attitudes. If you pay attention to the teachings of scripture, those are the very things that if left unattended, can lead to more than burnt bacon. Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother (or wife, or husband) will be subject to judgement.”
Let’s ask the question of ourselves; Are there words, attitudes or actions we need to confess and ask forgiveness for? By doing so, we will restore our relationships with those we love, and with our Lord, as well.
One more thought for the married men out there: “Husbands…be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).
Forgiven,
Pastor Jerry

Living in Sin

I had the privilege of officiating at a wedding this weekend. Weddings are such fun times, and I appreciate the chance to be involved. While researching my message to the couple, I came across these statistics: In 1990, 50 out of 1000 divorced or widowed persons chose to remarry.

In 2011, that number was only 29 out of 1000.
Here are a few other numbers from the article in USA Today. Unmarried couples of all ages are moving in together. According to 2012 census data, 37 percent of those who live together have been married before. Between 1990 and 2012 the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1% to 11.3%. A generation ago it was called “living in sin”, today it is called “cohabitation.”
The reason I bring this up is to remind us that God had a plan at creation, and he has never changed his plan. The Bible says to live together outside of the bond of marriage is sexual immorality (the old term was fornication). There is no exemption for the divorced or widowed. I must insert here, that Jesus said divorce is a sin. The Bible also teaches that confessed sin will be forgiven (1 John 1:9). Also, according to scripture,the death of a spouse frees a person to remarry (1 Corinthians 7:39). We who are older may try to blame the younger generation, but who is their example? Retired people are also involved in cohabitation.
As always, I must apply scripture to my thinking, so here ya’ go: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality…For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).
When we deliberately disobey God’s commands and refuse to repent of our sin, we are in danger of judgment. Those are God’s words, and his word is unchanging.
In His amazing love,
Pastor Jerry

What’s the Big Deal?

I don’t know what kind of response to expect from this next commentary, but I’ll take my chances: Milrae and I went to the hair salon recently to get our hair cut, and group of young women were discussing some pastors who had refused to marry couples that were living together. At the end of the discussion, one young lady wondered aloud, “What’s the big deal?”

I couldn’t keep silent, so I said this: As a pastor, I would have to take the side of those other men, and I believe that a couple should live apart until marriage. Needless to say, the conversation came to a rather abrupt end. I would like to take this opportunity to expand on my statement.

First of all, God’s word says couples living together outside of marriage are living in sin. This is not news, and this sin is no more or less a sin than any other. As with any other sin, it is forgivable. Also, statistics have proven that living together before marriage leads to a greater possibility that the marriage will fail. Most pastors I know who choose not to bless that kind of relationship, would be glad to conduct the ceremony if the concerned parties would confess the sin, repent of it, and live apart for a time as evidence of that repentance. You see, in God’s eyes, and in his plan for marriage, it is a “big deal”, even if the culture we live in tells us it doesn’t matter.

Speaking the Truth in love,
Pastor Jerry