Tag Archives: marriage

Marriage: covenant vs. contract? [Deuteronomy 21-24]

22 Jan
Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

How is your marriage? Is your relationship with your spouse doing well? Or does it need improvement, even in some small way?

Our preaching series through Deuteronomy continued this past Sunday at Faith Church looking at numerous passages in chapters 21-24 related to marriage. As I was away most of the week at my denomination’s Pastoral Assessment Center, I asked my brother, Jeff Kime, to preach.

Jeff is the Executive Director of The Marriage Hub, a ministry whose mission is to help strengthen marriages, particularly those in crisis.  Jeff and his team regularly hold marriage intensive retreats designed to give couples hope and tools to transform their marriages in a godly direction.  Even if your marriage is vibrant, Jeff, in this sermon, teaches great principles for strengthening marriages.  Maybe you’re single and wondering if this sermon is not for you.  It is most certainly for you, too.  God may have marriage in your future, and it will be important for you to learn these principles that you could apply or share with others in your life who will marry.  So take some time and evaluate your marriage or relationship status.  Ask God to help you hear from him! And then listen to the sermon.

What you’re going to learn is the difference between a contract and a covenant, and why that matters so much to how we view marriage. This past weekend, there was possibility of a major winter storm, so Jeff created a video version of the sermon.

And if you know that your marriage needs help, but you don’t know where to turn, please contact Jeff at The Marriage Hub!

Was Fred Flintstone right that a woman’s place is in the home?

23 Jul

How many of you remember the 1960s era cartoon, The Flintstones?  If you haven’t seen it, the cartoon is set in an imaginary cavemen society, except their society has all the amenities of modern society with cars, television, and neighborhoods.  The main characters, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, are husband and wife.

In Season 2, Episode 23, “The Happy Household,” Fred and Wilma had gotten into a fight because Wilma came home from a shopping trip, and Fred blamed her for spending more money than he makes.  Fred thinks Wilma should get a job.  So the next day Fred is surprised when he comes home from his job and Wilma is not there.  He is used to Wilma having a big dinner waiting for him.  Instead Wilma wrote him a note saying Fred should warm up a frozen dinner.  Fred is not happy.  He tries to get leftovers from his neighbor Barney, but Barney says there aren’t any.  Barney tries to placate Fred by turning on the TV.  Does it work?  Nope, Fred gets the shock of his married life.  Here’s the clip:

Later that evening, Wilma returns, and things blow up.  Take a look at the next clip:

I don’t know why the person who posted that YouTube video gave it that title, because Fred never hits Wilma.  And yet, the cave man speaks.  Did you hear what he said? “A woman’s place is in the home!”  Is that just a cave man speaking?  Or do we still hear that phrase today?

You might think, “Well, the Flintstones came out over 50 years ago!  Society has changed.”  Very true.  Society has changed.  But for many people the questions remain. What are the appropriate roles for husbands and wives in marriage?  Does God care?  How do we find out?

Around the world we Christians for centuries have had strong feelings about these questions.  Christians have been in sharp disputes.  It still goes on today.

Think about it.  That day you say your marriage vows you begin a new journey with a long road in front on you. How should a husband and wife relate to one another?

What does the Bible say?  In our next section of 1st Peter, 3:1-7, Peter talks about husbands and wives. Check it out and see what you think.  Peter says “Wives be submissive to your husbands.”  Before we get into Peter’s teaching, the primary question that people ask about these submission passages, is this: Is this passage to be applicable for all time OR is it to be understood as for that time only?

If the passage is to be for all time, then that means that Christian marriage, always, everywhere, forever, should be a relationship of the wife being submissive to the husband.  Period.  The husband is the leader, the head of the household, the decision maker, and the wife must submit to or obey the husband’s authority!

If Peter only was writing for that time, then Christian marriage roles between a husband and wife could look different.  Shared leadership.  Equal authority.  Or the wife could lead, and husband could submit.

So how do we know?  Christians still today disagree about which interpretation to use.  I think Peter has BOTH in mind.  I suspect he is thinking both about the Christians in that day, but also laying a foundation for Christians in the future.

Here’s why.  Peter seems to be responding to the Christian teaching of freedom in Christ.  This teaching was new. He told them that they were free, but asked them not to use their freedom for evil.  That’s back in chapter 2 verse 16.  There he says, “you are free, but don’t use that freedom as a cover-up for evil.  Instead, though you are free in Christ, you are bound to serve God.”  That is a massively important mindset.  Yes we are free in Christ…free to serve God!  That means we first and foremost submit to God and to the mission of his Kingdom.

This week we’ll explore further how freedom in Christ can help us understand what Peter has to say about the role husbands and wives have in marriage.  See you tomorrow.

Does Jesus want us to be Apocalypse Preppers? – Luke 17:20-37

23 Feb

Last week, I mentioned that we can feel fine if in fact we are living in the end of the world.  Here’s why.

Some people are fine because they are ready for the end of the world.  They are prepared.  We call them Preppers.  The family in the picture above is an example. Look at all the stuff they have stockpiled.  National Geographic has a TV show about this phenomenon, and it is amazing.  If an apocalypse happens, these people think they will be ready.  But is that how we can feel fine at the end of the world?  Build a bunker and fill it with survival gear, food and water?

In Luke 17:20-37, Jesus teaches two important things about the coming of the Kingdom of God, First, the Kingdom has already come. It is among those who believe in and follow Jesus, becoming his disciples. Second, the Kingdom has not fully come, but one day it will, and we should be ready for that day. This idea that the Kingdom has come, but not in its fullness is often described as the “Already, Not Yet” view of the end of the world. The Kingdom of God has already come, but not yet fully. We live in the already. As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is among you.” But he will return, to usher his Kingdom fully in one day we know not when. But we can be ready.

We can be fine living in this already, not yet. We can be fine because we have him now and we can be ready for his return.

Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord is where readiness begins. What I’m talking about is becoming his disciple. It makes us think of the moment when he said to those first disciples “Follow me”, and they followed him. They didn’t know exactly who they were following or what they were getting themselves into. But they followed. Their relationship with him and the knowledge of who he was and what his Kingdom was all about would grow in time.

It’s a lot like marriage. Remember your wedding day? Remember how you were so in love with your spouse? When you said “I love you” that day, you meant it. But has your understanding of love grown since then? When you say “I love you” now, does it mean something deeper now?

For us it is the same. Readiness starts with making the decision to believe in him, follow him, and make his way of life our way of life, but understanding of who Jesus is and what his Kingdom is all about grows in time.  This is how we live in the Already.  Allowing him to have more and more leadership of our lives, allowing him to transform us so that we act more and more like him.

But there is also the Not Yet.  One day he will return, as he said he would, and the principle he asked us to follow was to be ready for his return.  We need to have that ongoing awareness in our minds that Jesus could come today. Allow that very real possibility to be the concept by which we evaluate our lives. Are we ready today? “Lord, am I ready to meet you, either by your coming which could be today, tomorrow, decades away, or not in my lifetime, in which case am I ready to meet you as a result of my own death?”

Make this a proactive part of your life. It is a habit that we can get into. Always ready.

I find this principle to be true when it comes to exercise. When I train for a long run like a half-marathon or a marathon, I gradually get my body ready to run those long distances. At the beginning of the training plan it seems impossible that I could get to the point where I can run 13 let alone 26 miles at one shot. But day by day following that plan, my body adapts, grows, strengthens, changes. And you get to the point where you can run 13 or 26 miles. You start off looking at the 18 week training plan which finishes with a really long run thinking, “No Way, I’ll never be able to do that.”  But you can.  Little by little following the training plan, your body changes and strengthens. When the big race comes, you are ready.

From that race day forward, if I wanted, I could maintain that readiness. Some people do that. They run long races every weekend or every other weekend. Once you’ve achieved readiness, it is easier to maintain it now that you are there.

But I have a confession. I have never maintained that readiness.   After the long run is over, I am worn out from 18 weeks of training.  I go back to short runs, so that when the next summer rolls around I have to start the training plan all over again.

So how can you maintain readiness for Jesus’ coming?

First, begin a relationship with Jesus by placing your faith in him. Second, go back to the basics of spiritual disciplines, such as the core ones of reading and studying your Bible to learn more about what God’s Kingdom is all about. Pray regularly for God to fill you with his Spirit and transform you. Third, be deeply committed to your local church family. We need each other. Look at the disciples in Acts; they formed a community that was deeply committed to one another. Fourth, we should all have people that we are regularly investing in spiritually, and we should all have people that are regularly investing in us spiritually.

Do you need to apply any of these four ideas to your life?

Law & Marriage…go together like a horse and carriage?

21 Jan

I am finding Luke 16 to be exceedingly confusing.  As if verses 1-15 and the Parable of the Shrewd Steward weren’t difficult enough (I preached on them this past Sunday…you can read about that sermon here and here), this coming Sunday I’m focusing on verses 14-18 which put Law and Marriage together, and I’m not sure they go together very well!  Last week I had a lot of help from Kenneth Bailey’s studies on the parables of Luke.  Bailey’s awesome study makes great sense of the Shrewd Steward.  This week, well, the scholars are not as helpful.

Let me explain.  My first question is about the placement of verses 16-18 in the passage.  I’ve been reading a number of commentaries, and they have many theories about these verses, most of which don’t even try to see a flow of thought.  They see verses 1-15 and 19-31 as two sections primarily about how to use money.  I get that.  Here’s the strange part: they suggest that the verses sandwiched in between, verses 16-18 about Law and Marriage, are somewhat random.  One scholar, Bock (in the IVP Commentary series), has a theory for the unity of the passage, but I found it unconvincing.

I wonder what you think when you read chapter 16!

Here is a bit more explanation about Law and Marriage, the two topics that we’re going to look at on Sunday:

  1. How Christians should use the OT Law
  2. Marriage and Divorce

They seem like an odd couple of themes to place together, but that is exactly what Jesus does.  Why, though?  What is it about marriage that might relate to the OT Law?  What do we need to know about the OT Law that could help us with marriage?

There is no doubt in my mind that we need to talk about both of these subjects.  There is perhaps just as much confusion about how Christians should use the OT Law, as there is about marriage and divorce.  Randall Balmer points out in his book, Thy Kingdom Come, that decades ago the religious right stopped talking about divorce and marriage because so many of their leaders had gotten divorces.  They needed a new issue to galvanize support for their causes, so they picked abortion.  Balmer suggests that they never should have stopped talking about marriage.  I agree.  Most of us are married or will be one day, but many marriages fail or are painful.  People are hungry for help in their marriages.

Thankfully the pursuit of healthy marriage is something that God loves and encourages, and many people, pastors, churches, and organizations are talking about it a lot.  So will we this coming Sunday.

As I write this on Thursday afternoon, I have to admit that I don’t have this passage all figured out.  I’ve got study to do!  There’s a potential for a big snowstorm to cover our area, so we may need to cancel worship.  But even if that happens, I won’t be off the hook!  I’ll either record a podcast on Monday or upload the manuscript of the sermon for you.  For now, I encourage you to prepare yourself for worship.  Read Luke 16, thinking about that question of the OT Law.  Are we bound to follow it?  And think about marriage?  What does it mean to have a healthy one so that divorce is not even in the realm of possibility?

And weather permitting, we’d love to have you join us at Faith Church on Sunday as we’ll talk about this further.

When I’m not feeling happy or content in my relationship – 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

22 May

happy vs joyAre you feeling discontent in your relationships? Maybe you’re not feeling happy about a relationship?  But are you feeling joy?  Is there a difference?  And what does it matter?

When we are unhappy or discontent, we are very tempted to RUN!  In our passage from this past Sunday, Paul says “Remain in the situation in which you were called.” Over and over he says this. Remain? What if we don’t like the situation?  As I have said before, if it is an abusive situation, this would not apply.  Get safe!

But what about when a relationship is frustrating?  What about when there is a lot of anger and arguing?  In Relationship Month, we have heard clearly from Paul that we should avoid separation and divorce at all cost.  In this section again he says, “Remain.”  Then he adds in verse 19, “keeping God’s commands in what counts.”

My NIV Study Bible notes summarize it well: “There is nothing wrong with seeking to improve your condition in life, but be content at every stage.” There is a tension between being content and keeping his commands. Sometimes keeping his commands means we need to make a change.

My dad, Harold Kime, has taught Corinthians for many years at Lancaster Bible College, and in his notes he says: “Keeping God’s commandments does have spiritual value and worth. The verb, “keep”, that Paul uses here is not a simple obedience. When he says “Keep his commands” it also includes the idea of guarding or preserving. This is not a mere outward obedience but an obedience that guards and preserves the very thing obeyed. We can infer from this that certain types of social condition require a radical change. Certainly Paul would not say, “Were you called being a prostitute, think nothing of it.”

We could summarize like this: Remain in the life state that you are in, but do not sin.  At the root of all this is a heart that is committed to say that “Lord, your way is the best way.”  Keep his commands requires a heart desire that believes that following God’s way is the best! “Find your satisfaction in the Lord”  Paul is not saying that the believers in the church should stay as they are for eternity. He encourages slaves, if they can, to be free. But the focus is to be content in the Lord where they are at. Things may change, but the focus for now is to grow that passionate, heartfelt relationship with the Lord.
We can be so discontent about life. We can start to grow a bitterness about our station in life. Paul says that the Christians should find their contentment in the Lord. And we can grow that deep inner joy without having our circumstances change one bit.

Contentment is being able to be joyful no matter the circumstance. There is a big difference between inner and outer joy. One way to describe the difference is to look at the difference between happiness and joy. I am bit hesitant to use these two terms because they are basically synonymous. But think about them this way: happiness is that outer expression of emotion based in how we are feeling. We like happiness a lot because it means we feel good. Joy is different from happiness because it is a deeper inner state of heart and mind that is trusting in God no matter how we are feeling, no matter our circumstance, no matter our station in life. This deep inner joy, this contentment is what Paul is saying the Corinthians believers need.

There is much about life that we can be discontent about. Paul would say to the Philippian church in Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

What are you discontent about? Your marriage? Your singleness? Your job? Your finances? The state of the world? Paul is saying that we should be a people who avoid rushing to change, but instead remain as you are, be content, find that deep inner joy in obeying Christ, and commit yourself to grow in your relationship with him. Here’s what’s interesting about contentment. It is okay to allow the deep inner joy of contentment to bubble up to the surface of your life and overflow with emotional outward happiness. We should never confuse that outward emotion for the inner real thing. But it is okay to be outwardly happy. I would go so far as to say that when we are content in Christ no matter our situation, we will see that outward happiness, that outward rejoicing on a more regular basis! And it starts with a contentment in our relationship with Christ.

It is not just in the pain that we can experience deep inner joy. We can also celebrate the joy of the Lord in the good times. We can and should be content in the Lord, no matter if life is difficult or abundant. A friend of mine from my youth group is now a professor at LBC. He and his wife were married a few years ago, it took them some time to start a family. They are now just weeks away from the birth of their son. I asked him this week how they are doing, and he said “Excited, things are going great, but they’re also thinking about those many sleep-deprived nights ahead of them.”

I wrote back and said, “You will get through it. I won’t deny that I had a hard time in the middle of the night. But it is a phase that passes. I think what I have been learning with my kids, though, is that I can yearn too much for each phase to pass. I can be way too focused on “getting them out of diapers” and “getting them out of car-seats” and so one. In so doing, I have found that I can miss out on the wonderful aspects of the present phase. I think this is the message of Ecclesiastes: eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die. Enjoy the moment that God has given you. While the moment definitely can have its hardships, it also has great joy. Be content no matter the circumstances. I would encourage you to revel in each and every one of those nights of seemingly endless crying and feedings.”  (Not that I was the model dad in that regard…)

What will it mean for you to grow contentment in the Lord?

Feeling discontent in your relationships?

17 May

discontent

What would you say has been bothering you?  Anyone been feeling discontented lately?  A change that you are hoping for too long in coming?  A change that you weren’t hoping for came unexpectedly?  Change or die, they say.  Or maybe they say it like this, if something does not change it is dead.  Or, all living things change.  But as much as we claim to embrace change, thrive on change, it can be unsettling, leaving us with that feeling of discontent.  Change too fast, and we feel unprepared, off kilter. Change too slow, and we get impatient, grumpy, disillusioned.

It can be hard to be content.  There is a sense in which discontent can be a very good thing.  There is such a thing as holy discontent, an inner feeling that something is wrong that needs to be righted.  I’m not talking about that kind of discontent. Instead I’m talking about a dissatisfaction with life.

In the church at Corinth, which we have been studying since the beginning of the year at Faith Church, we see a group of people struggling with the realities of change. It is relationship month at Faith Church, as during the month of May we are walking through 1st Corinthians chapter 7, which we have divided up into four sermons about relationships.  We’re covering all sorts of relational ground, and much of it is about changing relationships and the feelings of discontent that we so often have about our relationships.  Perhaps that is the most important question to ask: How do you feel about the most the important relationships in your life?  Could it be said of you that you have feelings of discontent about them?

My guess is that you would be the exceedingly rare exception if you could say that you were perfectly content about the relationships that matter the most to you.  The Christians in Corinth had written Paul a number of relationship questions, as it seems that they were experiencing some discontent.  And so tomorrow at Faith Church we’re going to take a look at what Paul has to say to them about this fundamental issue that affects so many of us.  When we are discontent, what should we do?

There are plenty of ideas out there.  Some say if you are discontent in your marriage, for example, get out.  These people feel that there is nothing worse than being in a sub-par marriage.  Or how about your job?  Are you longing for something more?  Make a change people say.  You deserve better.  Feeling dissatisfied with your church?  Move on, there a plenty of other options.

What do you think Paul would say about that? If you want, check out 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 to get ready for tomorrow’s sermon.

Separate? Divorce? Remarry? – What to do?

9 May

r-CHILDREN-OF-DIVORCE-large570I’ll never forget a moment at summer church camp when I was in 6th or 7th grade. One of my cousins was with me that week, and we were sitting in the gym for a Bible discussion. Next thing I know, my cousin who is a year older than me was bawling, body heaving up and down in the throes of emotion. His parents had just recently divorced. It was the first time I felt the emotion of divorce touch my life. I had other cousins and friends who parents divorced, but before that day at camp, I don’t remember having seen the emotion up close and personal.

As I share that story, many of you know those feelings in a deeply personal way because you experienced the divorce of your parents, or you yourself had a marriage lead to divorce. Statisticians have been telling us for years that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and that goes for Christians as well.

That also goes for second marriages. About 25% of children who have not only lived through the divorce of their parents also watched a parent’s second marriage ended in the divorce.

This sermon on Sunday is not meant to present a judgmental attack on people who have been divorced. Instead I want you to hear what God says about something that has profoundly impact on our society.

relationshipstatusMay is relationship month at Faith Church. Last week we looked at marriage and this week separation, divorce, remarriage and couple other related questions. We have been studying the letter of 1st Corinthians, and in chapter 7, the author of the letter, Paul, responds to a number of questions that people from the church he started 5-6 years before had written him about.

He talks about divorce specifically in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.

When we studied this in sermon roundtable a couple weeks ago, we identified no less than six different questions that Paul is potentially trying to answer in these verses. Here they are:

  1. Should Christians ever separate from their spouse?  If so, when?
  2. Should Christians ever get a divorce?  Again, if so, when?
  3. If divorced, is it okay to remarry?
  4. Is it okay if Christians marry those who are not Christians?
  5. What does it mean that people are sanctified through their spouses?
  6. How does a Christian parent make their children holy?