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The Amazing Truth of Love & Respect

Video

Marriage is a delicate thing.

Marriage is a glorious thing.

Marriage is a troublesome thing.

Marriage is a wonderful thing.

There is a delicate balance that God has ordained in marriage that takes two radically different people from radically different life paths; that moves them onto converging paths that will require enormous devotion, trust, confidence, adoration and commitment so that in the end it brings glory to God and incredible fulfillment to the husband and wife who accept the challenge of behaving in the covenant according to His great plan. When it happens, it is a site to see.  And it should happen more often.  It should happen most often.  It can happen each time the man and woman who enter into this covenant use His plan as a model for their relationship and not merely as a possible way of relating.

Ephesians Chapt 5 is the longest passage of the New Testament dealing with the marriage relationship and in it, at the end, Paul gives instruction to the husband and to the wife.  In this talk, Pete & Debbie unpack the companion principles of Love and Respect and how they fuel the success of a marriage.

Thank you for watching.

5 Deep Wishes of Every Person

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The pursuits of life often take us in directions that ultimately bring little long-term satisfaction.  In the ages of culture people have sought fulfillment in what seems to be a cycle of pursuits.  Power, wealth, property, leisure, personal freedom, recognition, relationships and influence are some of the most obvious pursuits.  These can be tracked as cycles throughout the history of civilization.  In America alone we can see the clamor for wealth and power at the forefront of pursuits of the 80′s, 90′s and early 00′s.  There are those with great achievements who seemingly have reached the pinnacle of success only to find that these do no provide the fulfillment they promised or the cultural advance that was believed would be the result of the “next level of achievement”.

Solomon knew these pursuits well.   He had power, wealth, property, leisure, personal freedom, recognition, relationship an influence but all was “vanity”.  “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind” (Ecc. 1:14 ESV).   Why were these things not satisfying to Solomon and why are they not satisfying to us?  The answer is that each of them has a earthly perspective.  Whatever we pursue for earthly reward will not satisfy.

There are 5 Deep Wishes of Every Person and these do fulfill when the motive is eternal not earthly.  We are wired by the Creator:

  • To have vital and committed relationships with your mate and family
  • To enjoy satisfying and rewarding communication with those around you
  • To live with balanced priorities and have time to spend on important things in life
  • To build a positive family legacy and moral orientation
  • To have work that is purposeful, rewarding and extending beyond your own life in impact.

Pursuing each FOR THE GLORY OF GOD not for self is the key to fulfillment. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will received the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24 ESV).

In 2014 do what you do as unto the Lord.  Set aside what is a pursuit of this world.  Let God be the focus of your purpose and glory.  That will bring real fulfillment and surely will satisfy the 5 Deep Wishes of Every Person.

 

When did unholiness stop being unholy?

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When did unholiness stop being unholy?

When did we get so comfortable that unholiness stopped being unholy? When did we get so relaxed in our faith that we began to think that God stopped asking us to be imitators of Him (Ephesians 5:1)? When did the concept that God would be pleased with sharing our devotion instead of getting it all slip into our thinking? When did the narrow gate get widened (Matthew 7:14)?

Oops, I think not. Unholiness is still unholy. God still expects us to be imitators of Him. Our total devotion to Him is still the measure He expects, and the narrow gate is still narrow.

God, in His enormous love for mankind, has made a way for us to know Him and to share Him with others.  As we become personally holy through repentance when we are wrong and decision making that reflects His Lordship of our lives, we come to an understanding of His character and the significance of the eternal opportunity He affords us.

He has shown the way to eternity. He has prepared a place for those who believe and trust Him. He is just waiting for our desire to shift from wanting what is unholy to wanting what IS holy. An whole heartedly at that.

The Road Back to God

The Road Back

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is one of the better known and often preached passages of the New Testament.  Pastors talk about the attitude of the father and the prodigal’s brother who demonstrated a contrast in forgiveness/unforgiveness.  They talk about the pride of the prodigal that led to his departure and his fall into the pit of despair.

But what about the journey back?  What must it have been like as the prodigal turned from his place among the swine, lifted himself to his feet, cleaned up just a little and headed home?  What did he notice on the road home that looked a little different as he traveled back that route toward his awaiting father?  Were there memories of gratefulness that he had forgotten as he walked away sometime before?  What was the along the road, both in his thoughts and in reality, that was different as he traveled back?  I wonder if he realized the fool he appeared to be when he was going out?  I wonder if he noticed how truly blessed he had been.  Was he like a blind man who could suddenly see or a deaf man who could suddenly hear?  Did he realize that what he had rejected on the way out was oh so wonderful coming back home?

The journey back home did not happen in an instant.  He was not supernaturally transported from the pig pen to his father’s house.  He had to journey back.  He had to have time to reflect on what he had done in going out.  I wonder if he ever thought about stopping halfway back – it certainly was better than the pig pen?  But no, the Bible tells us he came all the way home.  He refused to stop half-way.

What do we teach folks who in their own life are prodigals?  Do we teach them to come all the way home or is it ok just to turn and head home?  Certainly half way back is a lot better than the pig pen, but where do they really need to be?  Is it right for us to just get comfortable being part way back or should we be all the way home?  How about you,  have you come all the way back to God or are you comfortable enough to be half-way home?

Why would you ever marry?

There is an emptiness inside each of us that we continually seek to fill.  For some they use drugs, some alcohol, others serial relationships and sex or other behaviors that may seem fulfilling and liberating for a moment but only serve to destroy in the end.  There are indeed those who think that getting married will bring that fulfillment and so they seek relationship.  That one someone who makes them feel just so right.  Problem is, there is no other person who can completely fulfill any of us and so over time, we begin to look for that fulfillment again.  So, back to the drugs, alcohol, streams of uncommitted relationship and behaviors that continually lead to the same end. Emptiness.

That is why people marry.  The see what looks like lifetime fulfillment. Who isn’t looking for that?

Holiness, what’s it matter to God?

Does Personal holiness Matter to God?

As I was driving down the street tonight I noticed a new church had opened its doors in our community.  The name of the church included “Holiness” and it made me begin to think about God’s expectations of His church.  Was He looking for corporate holiness or personal holiness?  Was He hoping to have large groups of people generally seen as holy or was he wanting individual people to become holy before Him as individuals?  Certainly, the expectation is that holiness is an individual thing and we are challenged to become individually and personally holy. Here is what it says in Romans 12:  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Nothing about the collective in that passage.  While the appeal “I beseech you brethren” is to a group, the remainder of the passage indicates personal decisions.  It does not speak to waiting till all the group becomes holy together.  Bodies of people become holy only as the individuals that make up that body become holy.

Holiness does matter to God because He is holy and he has allowed his reputation to be presented to the world through the lives of those who follow Him.  Holiness matters to God because He knows we do the best job of pointing others to eternity with Him when we live holy and aren’t just speakers about holiness.

So perhaps that new church is going to focus on personal holiness.  Individuals working to be “acceptable to God” by following His ways at every possible decision point.

You know what, if that is their intent, I welcome them to our community.

Is marriage a right?

How have we become so twisted in our thinking about marriage?  How have intelligent people like Supreme Court Justices come to the conclusion that marriage is a right?  How have Christian people become Christian “leaners” who want God to save them for eternity but don’t want God to define or appoint anything in a way other than what they personally want it to be?

I have struggled with my emotions over the last few weeks since the Supreme Court determined that same sex marriage is a right.  I grew up very proud to be an American.  My parents waved the flag, voted, supported and opposed candidates for office and issues of the day.  They paid their taxes, served in the military, recited the pledge of allegiance and encouraged me to do likewise.  And I have.  But something has changed.  I am wondering how all this has become practiced expression that no longer can be backed by the principles under which all this was based.  My parents did not teach me to simply do these things, they taught me that there were underlying principles that resulted in such actions.  I find myself today looking for the evidence of the underlying principles.  Sadly, I do not see but a shadow of their former existence.  They exist on the walls of our State and National buildings, they exist in the oaths of office that our public servants take, they exist on our forms of money but these are simply shadows that now, instead of speaking of what America is speak of what America was.

As we passed through the celebration of our independence day and almost coinciding with that event the Supreme Court decision setting aside the protection of the principle of marriage as set by the Bible, I found my self noticing even more that America has become something quite different in my adult days from what it was in my childhood days.  As I rose in my own church during the celebration of American independence, and as the pastor had us recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as everyone said in unison “under God”, I felt pangs of pain.  Conscience pain.  Pain that these acts were simply shadows of what they once were.  Actually, I felt sad and shame for America – and Americans.  Especially American Christians.  We who have become so filled with biblical truth and so void of biblical action.  We are the shadow.  A reminder of what was and what was supposed to still be but what is rapidly vanishing.

Back to marriage.  Is marriage a right?  Absolutely not.  It is an honor.  It is the opportunity for two people to live their lives in such a way that the God who created them, provides for their life, provides for their eternity and does so beyond anything they could do for themselves, is honored.  It is an opportunity to live for the honor of one who established all things and maintains all things.  Marriage is an honorable institution designed to honor the Creator.  It is not honorable to engage in it in any way other than as he designed it to be.

When we call it a right we put man at the center and indicate that things should be done to satisfy man.  This is so errant that it is a tragedy.  And to think those who swore to uphold the foundations of this nation don’t do that is even more tragic.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.”  (2 Chron 16:9 KJV)

Planning a wedding or a party?

Planning a wedding or party?

One will end in short order.

The hours I heard were spent by this mother and her young bride-to-be.  Flowers and ribbons.  Candles and runners.  Music and speeches.  Limos and parties.  Food and bands.  Where people sit and who get invited to the “real” reception.  Oh, and the ceremony?  The vows?  Oh pastor, we just want to say something nice to each other.  We aren’t very traditional (in other words we don’t intend to be back to church til a baby needs dedicated).  We just want to make up our own words and we want you to say what pastors say and then pronounce us “husband and wife”.  In fact, even that sounds a little traditional so just pronounce us “a couple”.

God calls it marriage. He describes what it is, how it works, what it is useful for and what ends it.  Its all in the Bible.  With just a little bit of the fervency thrown into the festivities held back for the marriage and things could turn out so much better.

Get premarital counseling that is meaningful.  Not just stuff that gets you through the party day but instead something that gets you through life.

Why would anyone ever get married?

There is an emptiness inside each of us that we continually seek to fill.  For some they use drugs, some alcohol, others serial relationships and sex or other behaviors that may seem fulfilling and liberating for a moment but only serve to destroy in the end.  There are indeed those who think that getting married will bring that fulfillment and so they seek relationship.  That one someone who makes them feel just so right.  Problem is, there is no other person who can completely fulfill any of us and so over time, we begin to look for that fulfillment again.  So, back to the drugs, alcohol, streams of uncommitted relationship and behaviors that continually lead to the same end. Emptiness.

That is why people marry.  They see what looks like lifetime fulfillment. Who isn’t looking for that?

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth,does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for  “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring (Acts 17:24-28 ESV).

There it is, a God shaped emptiness that only He can fill.  Our mate is designed to help us fill it with God not with themselves.