The Marriage Bed

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:4 – 13:5 NKJV)

What an interesting passage of scripture. I used to believe the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews was kind of a catch-all chapter; you know, a thought here, another thought there. Nothing tied together. Simply a number of random thoughts, possibly even last minute thoughts the writer didn’t want to leave out.

I felt verses 4 and 5 were completely unrelated.

But I now believe I was wrong.

What?

Discussion about the marriage bed, covetousness, and contentment together?

Stranger things have happened.

Let’s take a look and see.

The writer declares marriage is honorable; or, in other words, marriage is precious, greatly esteemed, and highly favored of God. It’s God’s design and delight. Throughout scripture, from “God blessed them” in Genesis to “heirs together of the grace of life” in 1 Peter, the value God places on marriage is clear.

He ordained it, loves it, and wants to bless it.

Marriage is special to God.

Marriage includes the marriage bed.

The word translated “bed” is from the Greek word “koite”, which is where we get our English word “coitus” (meaning the physical union of male and female).

Let’s make sure we get this straight before moving on: marriage is precious to God, and He’s not put out when a married couple express their love and commitment to each other by having sex. He doesn’t see it as vile, vulgar, dirty, or anything like that.

But that doesn’t mean just anything goes.

“Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled…” indicates not only God’s opinion of sex, but also warnings against allowing it to become something other than the beautiful thing it is.

The Lord’s intention from the beginning was for His people to enjoy the gift of sex; without selfishness, greed, thoughts or images of another person defiling or making the marriage bed impure. And He wants us, people who declare Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, to steer clear of any sexual immorality.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3 – 4:5 ESV)

In Hebrews 13:4, as well as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, the Greek words translated as fornication and sexual immorality have basically the same root word; “Pornos”. It’s where we get words such as pornography.

In other words, pornography defiles the marriage bed.

Anything that trains the emotions and flesh to escape true intimacy and focus on selfish imagery, one’s own feelings and pleasures, memories of another person, completely goes against God’s intent and favor for the married couple.

Pornography, even “soft porn”, is a killer of true intimacy, even if viewed together (as some misguided counselors prescribe); and it most definitely defiles the marriage bed.

“Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled…let your conduct (way of living) be without covetousness; be content…”

Allowing pornographic images into your marriage bed feeds the spirit of lust, not true love and intimacy. It pumps more fuel into such troublesome spirits as covetousness and discontentment.

What should be the expression of commitment and complete oneness is reduced to an act not much above that of a couple of alley cats.

Defiled. Not satisfied. Needing more imagery, more graphics, more anything than what the spouse, the covenant partner, is able to give.

An open door for the enemy to come in and steal, kill, and destroy.

Once more, let’s look at our Hebrews passage. Only this time, read my loosely paraphrased version:

“Marriage, the union of a man and woman, is precious and extremely dear to God. He has established the marriage bed, that place where the marriage was consummated and where physical intimacy takes place, as a place of purity and holiness in His sight. Purity protects the union, but He will judge (that is, contend with, fight against, incarcerate, or remove) anything that attempts to defile the marriage sanctuary (to include pornography, uncontrolled and selfish acts, impure imaginations, and violations of the marriage covenant whether in thought, word, or deed).”

“So guard yourself, and your marriage bed, against covetousness; be content with the one God has joined you with. For He will never leave you or forsake you. You can depend on Him to continually bless your marriage union; spiritually, emotionally, and physically. His way.”

Remember, God created the marriage bed as a place of perfect enjoyment AND purity.

Don’t settle for anything less.

What is a “Manly” Man?

I’ve heard the same thing before, but when someone said it again a couple of days ago I thought to myself, “What a jerk! And horribly deceived!”

Maybe I shouldn’t have thought the first part, but then, it’s what the guy who said it was acting like.

What did he say?

“I’ve never felt so manly.”

What’s wrong with saying that?

Context, people, context.

He was referring to how he felt since he’d thrown away his wife, trampled his marriage vows into the dirt, and taken up with another man’s wife.

That is NOT a “manly” thing to do!

So what does a manly man look like? How can one be recognized?

It has nothing to do with outward appearance. Whether a guy is beefed up like Mister Universe, tough as Clint Eastwood, or as skinny as Wally Cox; it makes no difference in the manly department.

A guy who is manly is one who acts like a real man.

Not a Hollywood depiction of a man, but someone who lines up with the Creator’s description as we see in the word of God.

So what makes a man manly?

1. One who finds their purpose and pleasure in knowing Father God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

“…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV

“…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…” Colossians 3:10 NKJV

2. A guy who allows the Holy Spirit to guide him, even when it’s not a comfortable thing to do.

3. A man who keeps his promises to His God, his wife and children, and society in general. A man of integrity.

4. A guy who fights for his family – their honor, physical protection, and spiritual well being.

5. A guy who lays down his life for his wife.

6. Someone who isn’t swayed from his commitments through the wiles of an immoral woman.

7. A man who trains his eyes to look no further than his own wife for intimacy, whether intellectual, emotional, or sexual.

8. A man who doesn’t treat his wife and children like possessions, but rather individuals who have a right to their own opinions. He is considerate of others, but is not afraid to speak loving correction to those in his care.

9. Someone who takes care of his responsibilities before God and man (which includes working).

10. A man who doesn’t walk in step with the godless.

11. Someone who will cherish the mercy he’s received from God enough to extend that same mercy to others.

12. A man who can readily admit his mistakes, seek forgiveness, and respond to correction.

13. A guy who is not stingy, but instead knows the joy of giving.

14. Someone who trains his tongue for righteousness and the glory of God.

15. A guy who seeks unity among the Body of Christ, while abhoring jealousy, lying, and strife.

16. Someone who does not allow failure to define him, but turns his heart back to God and begins anew.

17. A man with true friends – who can speak with him about anything.

18. One who prepares for the storms of life, while trusting in his Savior.

19. A man who not only can handle correction, but more importantly, praise.

20. A guy who listens more than he talks.

Other scriptures: Romans 8:12-14; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 15; Ephesians 5:21-33; Proverbs 5-7; Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 5; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Proverbs 27:21; Proverbs 13:3

Would your wife say you’re “manly”? Would your kids?

How about God?

Christians and the Consumption of Alcohol. 

The debate rages on: should or shouldn’t Christians drink alcoholic beverages? I’ll toss in my opinion right at the start of this post by saying no, they shouldn’t.

But I’d like to further add that I don’t believe ANYONE should drink alcohol; Christian or not.

No, I am not of the mindset that a glass of wine will send someone to hell. If murder won’t (and it doesn’t), then getting a buzz off a bottle of champagne won’t do it either.

The ONLY thing that sends a person to hell is the rejection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, Who gave His life so we could all have eternal life. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16 – 3:18 ESV)

My wife and I enjoy watching the original MacGyver. The other night, an episode was called “Twenty Questions”. It was about a ninth grade girl with a drinking problem.

Because of the episode, I Googled “Twenty Questions” and found the following self-test from an Alcoholic’s Anonymous website.

The person taking the test was instructed to be completely, brutally, honest with themselves, answering yes or no to each question.

Maybe you could give it a whirl…

1. Do you lose time from work due to your drinking?

2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?

3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?

4. Is drinking affecting your reputation?

5. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?

6. Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of your drinking?

7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?

8. Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?

9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?

10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?

11. Do you want a drink the next morning?

12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?

13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?

14. Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?

15. Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?

16. Do you drink alone?

17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of your drinking?

18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?

19. Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?

20. Have you ever been in a hospital or institution on account of drinking?

The instructions went on to say any “Yes” answer COULD indicate you are, or are on your way to becoming, an alcoholic.

It has nothing to do with getting stumbling drunk. It has everything to do with becoming dependent upon it.

Alcohol consumption may be all the catalyst needed to badly mar or ruin a person’s life; or at least allow just enough room in their life for a spirit of deception to operate. One cannot be filled with the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1) and deception at the same time.

A person cannot be led by the Spirit of God if their mental faculties are discombobulated because of alcohol. And although it’s true there are times we need to trust our heart rather than our reasonings, the mind still must choose to obey what it believes the Spirit of God is saying.

Here are some biblical reasons why I believe abstaining totally from alcohol is the best course to take for everyone; and ESPECIALLY those who are serious about following in the footsteps of Jesus and making an eternal difference in their world. (There’s no particular order to these points, but are listed as they appear in the scriptures.)

a. Incest, sexual perversions of all kinds, are more likely to happen when one’s reasoning is impaired (Genesis 19 – the Case of Lot and his 2 daughters)

b. Idolatry and other sorts of corruption have taken place when people yielded to a “party spirit” (Exodus 32 – the Saga of Aaron’s Golden Calf).

c. The Priesthood was given specific instructions from the Lord “Do not drink wine nor strong drink…when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation…” (Leviticus 10:9). As New Testament believers in Christ, we are ALL kings and priests unto God (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). See also Proverbs 31:4,5.

d. Moses’ (speaking for God) words, at the end of the 40 year wilderness experience, and shortly before he died, “…neither have you drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” – Deuteronomy 29:6. The Lord must have thought it was more important for the Israelites to know Him than have that “feeling of relaxation”. And apparently it would have been next to impossible for them to do both.

e. Samson was NOT SUPPOSED to drink wine or strong drink…but he felt he had a better idea. Drink wasn’t the only reason his calling and life was cut short, but it contributed.

f. “Wine is a mocker (against one’s own self), strong drink is a brawler (fightings within and without), and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). Not too hard to figure that one out, huh?

g. “Who has woe… sorrow… contentions… complaints… wounds without cause… or redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, who go and search for it” (Proverbs 23:29).

h. “Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down” (Proverbs 23:31 NLT). The passage goes on to describe how the alcohol will at last “bite like a serpent and sting like a viper.” No thank you. That’s not for me.

i. “Woe to them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; and continue until night, until they are inflamed!” (Isaiah 5:11)

j. Daniel, along with his three buddies, chose to not “defile” themselves with the king’s food and wine (Daniel 1). Because of Daniel’s stance, God gave he and his friends ten times the wisdom of the others, and Daniel was able to be used of God to affect NATIONS.

k. “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (or a waste of one’s resources and faculties); but (rather, instead) be filled with the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 5:18).

People say, “I’m not getting drunk.” But how can they know where that line is between a social drink or two, a slight buzz, and total inebriation? What if they can’t handle as much as they thought they could?

Someone may argue, “Paul told Timothy to ‘drink no longer only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities’…” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Fine. If that is truly the reason for drinking (and the amount consumed, i.e. “a LITTLE wine”), then okay.

But from what I have gathered by hanging around other believers over the last ten years or so, that is NOT the case. Instead, there seems to be more of a party spirit associated with Christians and their drink than anything else. “It’s my right, I’m not hurting anyone else, and I’m not getting drunk, so I’m going to relax, unwind, and have some fun.”

“Besides, Jesus turned water into wine.” Yep. He also raised people from the dead.

What about you? Are you a Christian who consumes alcohol? Can you live without it? Have you tried?

If you love your alcohol, that’s really between you and God. But would you be WILLING to dump all of your drink down the sink if it would mean knowing Him even just a tiny bit better? Would you drop any and all alcohol consumption if He told you to?

Did you take the AA self-test?

Were you totally honest?

Are you hearing what I’m saying?

Will you help God raise the dead?

Do you sometimes feel very unimportant? Does it seem like others are being noticed for all they do, while you live your life in obscurity?

“I’m just a stay at home mom.”

“I’m just a retired factory worker.” 

“I’m only a truck driver.”

“I’m only a____________________ .” (fill in the blank)

Could it be you’re missing something? Perhaps there’s more to life than you’ve imagined.

For instance, have you ever given someone a call, or sent them a text, just to let them know you were thinking of them? That they are loved and extremely valuable to you?

Did you know that God uses people, people such as you and I, to raise others from the dead?

Really? Absolutely!

And only God knows how powerful your words of encouragement can be to someone else.

The great Apostle Paul, minister extraordinaire and writer of half the New Testament, had times when he was discouraged. God didn’t always send an angel in the middle of the night to raise his spirits; many times He used “just” an ordinary person.

Someone like you and I.

“But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:6 NLT)

Titus was an elder on the island of Crete. At least he was when Paul wrote him the letter we know as Titus. But before that, Titus was just a guy who accompanied Paul and Barnabas as they went from city to city planting churches.

More or less, Titus was “just a roadie”.

Some would look at him as unimportant since he wasn’t preaching, teaching, or leading worship.

In other words, he was a behind the scenes dude who was known only as one of Paul’s companions.

Kind of like, “she’s so and so’s wife…”

But to Paul he was known as “my encourager.”

Many people have experienced times of deep discouragement where living seems futile. What’s the purpose of continuing, they ask themselves. Hopelessness envelops them like a cocoon, and eventually suffocates the very life out of them.

Even if they keep on existing, the life is gone.

“But God…” has an answer for discouragement. He sends encouragement to the downtrodden.

How? With the help of people like you and I.

Encouragers. God uses encouragers to help raise people from the dead.

Remember Lazarus? The guy Jesus loved, but waited until he was dead before He came on the scene? Well, Jesus was credited with raising Lazarus from the dead, but who helped with the process?

Those to whom He said, “Remove Lazarus’s graveclothes.”

Encouragers.

God uses ordinary people who have no title, to assist Him with one of the greatest acts known to man.

Raising people from the dead. 

So, whether you’re a big name preacher, CEO of a large corporation, or “just a stay at home mom”, you can be part of the greatest ministry on earth.

Encouragement – helping God raise people from the dead. 

Go ahead, give it a try. And remember what Solomon wrote many years ago…

“…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25 NLT)

Adultery – A Brainless Act

This is for everyone who is even remotely entertaining the idea of having some “extramarital fun”. Who has become flirty with the guy at work, or the gal next door. The couple who’ve allowed their marriage to become nothing more than a document filed in a county courthouse somewhere.

For the person who believes internet chat rooms and pornographic web sites aren’t a problem.

Maybe it’s for you, or someone you know.

Webster defines adultery this way – sex between a married person and someone who is not that person’s wife or husband.

Some folks call it an affair, others try to convince themselves “everyone is doing it”. They believe the rhetoric which says “traditional marriage is old-fashioned.” Still others will try and write it off as a one night stand, a lapse in judgment; one of those “I couldn’t help myself” moments.

But adultery is a violent attack against one’s spouse. It is just as violent as taking a knife to their throat, and while the blood pours onto the ground saying to them, “I just don’t love you anymore. I’ve found someone else.”

It is like Malachi wrote – “…the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage…” (Malachi 2:16 MSG)

Some even post pictures or write about their new “relationship” on Facebook. They want people to help ease their conscience by saying, “Congratulations”.

Makes me want to say, “Congratulations on your brainless act of adultery.” Wonder how that would go over?

If I had a dollar for every time an adulterer said, “I just want to be happy”, I’d be a VERY rich man!

Think about a murderer, on the witness stand at his trial, answering the question, “Why did you murder your spouse?” Imagine them saying, “I just wanted to be happy.” How would that sound to the judge?

Adultery, according to the writer of Proverbs, is a brainless act.

“Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive; expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good.” (Proverbs 6:32 MSG)

Brainless act; letting the animalistic nature take over. (By the way, I know what it’s like to be brainless and come very close to losing everything).

Allowing a smile from someone other than one’s spouse become an invitation. Welcoming strange fire into one’s bosom. Becoming obsessed with thoughts about someone who should be off limits.

Feeding one’s curiosity with thoughts such as, “I wonder if they feel the same as I do?” “Are they giving me some kind of hidden signal?”

No one has ever just stumbled and fallen into adultery. It has always been the result of first ignoring the warning sounds, the barking watch dog, in one’s heart. That inner voice which screams, “Don’t go there! Don’t be a fool!”

Or, like on the old sci-fi show, “Lost in Space”, the robot which says, “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”

I think we all know ignoring certain road signs can be detrimental to one’s health. Drinking poison can be deadly. Setting oneself on fire is suicidal.

Adultery is a brainless act. 

It is a violent act. Not only to the wounded spouse and the rest of the family, but to oneself. As we read in Proverbs, “…soul-destroying, self-destructive; expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good”.

Someone once told me, after they had been caught in adultery, “I need to leave my spouse, because I don’t want the other person to get away.”

A brainless, and heartless, act. 

According to Jesus, it need not be an actual physical action, but could be simply lust in a person’s mind/heart toward someone other than their spouse.

It may only be one-sided. The other person, the object of “affection” may not realize they have become someone’s fantasy.

But it is still adultery.

The people who produce pornography EXPECT to become someone’s fantasy. Pornography is either adultery or fornication; it all depends on whether the person viewing it is married or not.

Are YOU married? Are YOU viewing pornography? Have YOU allowed thoughts of another person to push aside thoughts of your spouse. Are YOU letting someone else get too close to your heart?

If so, RUN, don’t walk, AWAY from the other person as quickly as possible. Don’t even linger to say goodbye. Shut down the flow of evil thoughts, desires, and actions.

Start USING your brain. Understand what adultery is, and the consequences of getting involved with someone other than your spouse. YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT!

No one can afford the cost of such a brainless act.

So, run from even the hint of an inappropriate relationship.

And keep the knife from your spouse’s throat.

A Case Of The “Shoulds”

Recently, several of us were talking and one of the guys began to tell the rest of us about some of the happenings in his home. The idea for this post was sparked that night. Thanks, Patrik.

It SHOULD be there…

It SHOULD have happened much earlier.

It SHOULD work.

It SHOULD have been where I said it was.

I SHOULD have acted differently.

A strong case of the ‘shoulds’.

Some folks live their whole life with a chronic case of the ‘shoulds’. These are the same people who live in a state of depression most of the time; full of regrets, shattered dreams, and broken relationships.

Never attaining joyous freedom from the ‘shoulds’.

Sure, there are times in everyone’s life when they should have done something, nothing, the opposite, but they didn’t. And as much as it hurts to think about what we have lost, that’s not what the ‘shoulds’ is all about.

A case of the ‘shoulds’ has more to do with habitual behavior than an error in judgment. It’s closely related to procrastination, or always taking the path of least resistance.

It’s giving up right before victory comes.

It’s looking at everyone and everything else, blaming others for a bad decision.

How does a person know if they have a case of the ‘shoulds’?

Here’s a little quiz which may shed some light on the matter.

1. Do you need to be reminded, over and over, about something you are passionate about? No? For example, I don’t have any problem remembering to do anything that’s connected to fishing. I remember when I’m going, who I’m going with, and whether or not I need to buy more tackle. On the other hand, I’m not so good at remembering things like appointments (things I really don’t care about). That can have something to do with the ‘shoulds’ or ‘should haves’.

2. What’s your first response when questioned as to why you didn’t keep your word? You promised to do this and so, but it didn’t get done. “Sorry, it should’ve worked.” You’re late arriving for dinner, though you assured your spouse (or the dinner host) that the time would work just fine. “I’m sorry, I should’ve been here earlier, but traffic was terrible.” Well, maybe you should’ve started out earlier, do you think?

3. If someone gives you a task to complete, are you responsible enough to hold yourself accountable? Do you tell yourself, “I’m going to budget my time and work on my project until it’s completed”, or wait until the deadline and say, “I should’ve gotten it done.”

4. Do you have a penchant for stating something like this? “It’s NOT there in the drawer? It SHOULD be.” “Should be” doesn’t make it magically appear. Searching for it may.

5. Are your organizational skills so lacking you can’t remember the what, when, where, why, who, or how of life? Another way to ask would be, are you messy or do you lack discipline in the normal things of life? If so, the ‘shoulds’ have probably been nipping at your heels for quite some time.

How does a person break free from the ‘shoulds’? 

1. Accept nothing but victory. Don’t settle for the second place prize if you could have done better; if diligence and discipline would have made the difference.

2. Ask yourself before using the word ‘should’ or ‘should’ve’, if a different word would work in its place. Words like “It will work”, “I will do my part”, and “there’s no reason for failure in this venture.”

A faithful man abounds with blessings. He who puts his hands to the plow, working with and for God, enjoys the fruit of his labor.

A life filled with regrets and unfulfilled promises can be drastically changed. A case of the ‘shoulds’ can be cured with a new appreciation for God’s character and His calling upon your life to be like Him.

Maybe you can’t keep from an occasional failure, but at least you won’t have planned on it from the onset.

Ask God, and He’ll give you a spirit of diligence and faithfulness to replace the old case of the ‘shoulds’.

Just like He gives the oil of joy for sorrow, and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. 

The Value of Old Friends

Last night I spent about 30 minutes talking with an old friend on the telephone. It had been a few years since we had connected, so it was really good to catch up.

Old friends.

There’s a special feeling I get when I think of my old friends. Feelings of love and acceptance to be sure, but even more than that, the feeling of value. Worth.

Imagining someone would consider me worth enough to continually invest in my life. A phone call, a prayer, concern and care, a word of encouragement, a tear or two; time spent with me and for me.

Old friends.

My wife and I are so blessed. We have friends from high school, friends we met while I was in the Army, friends from the old workplace, church; from times that seem so long ago…

The value of old friends. Friends you see maybe once every other year, and talk with on the phone maybe once in a blue moon. But the moment you begin talking, you pick right up where you left off.

Old friends.

Several things come to mind as I think of my old friends (with a smile, I may add).

One, you never know how long you have on earth to nurture friendships, so it’s imperative you don’t waste any time in doing so. In other words, be friendly so friendships can be built.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24). Friendships are never entirely one sided. At times, one friend may need a lot more help than the other. But over time, and with no one keeping track, it doesn’t matter. It’s just part of being old friends.

“Give, and it will be given…the way you measure out is how it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). What you value in a friendship should be your guide to being a good friend.

Two, old friends were once a new acquaintance. Somehow, and maybe it’s beyond your ability to recall, you became friends with someone and just kept at it. Maybe there were things to overlook at times, or serious discussions which had to happen to preserve the valued friendship. Maybe someone, like yourself, needed to say, “I’m sorry”, or, “I forgive you.”

All for the sake of the friendship.

Three, it takes a lot more to end a true, valued friendship, than a disagreement on political or religious views. Though Facebook allows you to “unfriend” someone with the click of a button, real life requires much more.

If a click of a button can end a friendship, there probably wasn’t much of a friendship to begin with.

I am so thankful for old friends. The older I get, the more I value them.

And that’s why I am going to keep nurturing the newer friendships I have. Whether it’s a new found friend I just met, or someone I’ve known for a couple of years, I will do what I can to be the kind of friend I’d like to have.

Do you need encouragement, help fixing a broken lawn mower, prayer, someone to get in your face with truth and love?

Count on me.

Would you like someone to walk with you as you experience pain, disappointment, or loss?

Count on me.

It’s what friends do.

It’s what old friends have done through the years.

A messy, but true, test of maturity.

It was quite a day. Cold and rainy outside meant the family would be stuck inside for the whole day with nothing to do.

Close quarters is fine if you’ve got some sort of entertainment to help pass the time. Unless, of course, you’re so bored nothing sounds like fun.

So there we were, all six of us sitting around the living room, waiting for the weather to change so life could begin again.

An all too familiar smell suddenly filled the room, stinging our eyes and noses with a terribly foul and rancid odor.

We were no longer bored. We now had something to get our minds off the rain.

“BJ! Did you mess your pants, or are you just trying to kill us?” The family spokesperson loves to get to the bottom of things.

“Why couldn’t you at least have given us some kind of warning? Like maybe saying, ‘I’m going to die now'”?

I, too, felt like chiming in but didn’t, for two reasons. One, I was too busy holding my nose and mouth shut, and, two, BJ was the baby of the family.

He was only 1 year old. And yes, he had messed his pants.

Thinking of this little scenario reminds me of how we in the church can be toward our brother or sister in Christ who has difficulties with life and can’t seem to go very long without messing all over themselves.

We like to consider ourselves as the mature ones who can “rightly divide the word of truth”.

But a true test of maturity is how we handle messy situations. Do we ignore our brother or sister, make fun of them, push them down with our words, or do we get our hands dirty helping them get cleaned up?

We want to see people born again, which means they become baby Christians. But then all too often, we expect them to be full grown the next time we see them at church.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

If there are to be babies in the family, we probably should expect the room to smell at times. Let’s not be put out because our day was ruined, but rather let’s find a way to help them out of the mess they find themselves in.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 ESV)

I could have been a rock star

The other night I began watching a documentary about the rock group “The Eagles”. How and why they formed the group, who were the principal musicians, etc.

It was interesting learning how two ordinary guys, who weren’t tremendously talented, made it all the way to stardom.

It suddenly hit me.

I could have been a rock star.

I’m not pumping up my own heels, honest. So please, don’t quit reading.

Sure, Don Henley and Glen Frey were talented guys as far as your average Joe is concerned (no, that wasn’t a reference to Joe Walsh). But they were not the best musicians to ever find their way to a recording studio.

Somewhat like myself. Not the best, but possibly better than your ordinary run-of-the-mill musician.

I could have been a rock star.

I’m not looking at this “revelation” as something I wish I would have followed through on; even though, as a teen, I wanted nothing more than to be in a band, make tons of music, live a wild party kind of life, and become filthy rich.

Of course it never happened.

I got married at 18, and while I was developing my skills as a musician, and the desire to be a star was still inside me somewhere, I followed the path back to Iowa, then West Virginia, and eventually into the Kingdom of God.

Oh, I could have hung out in California like Don and Glen did. We were living in Orange County around the same time Don and Glen were introduced to people like Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and others who were instrumental in discovering and forming the group of guys who’d later become known as The Eagles.

I could have become a rock star.

But I didn’t.

And I’m glad.

God had other plans. And, like I said, I’m glad.

Just a few short years after getting married, the biggest thing that could ever have happened, happened to me.

I became a new creation in Christ. A child of God. An heir of God. A joint-heir with Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

I don’t mean to infer those who are rock stars don’t know true purpose and peace. Not all of them, anyway. But watching the documentary helped me realize all the things God saved me FROM. I already had enough that God to change in my life without jumping into the pit of unimaginable wealth and immorality.

Yes, I still enjoy music. Actually, I really enjoy music. Playing, performing, or whatever you’d like to call it. It’s a part of who I am; who God made me.

I enjoy singing and playing in honor of the living God Who changed my focus those many years ago. Worshipping Jesus simply because He is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.

As for the guy who wanted to be a rock star… well, I’m just glad he didn’t meet the “right people”.

I could have been a rock star, but thank God, I never made it.

Has God ever kept you from something you thought you wanted, even needed? You may want to praise Him for that.

“[God]… who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:4 – 103:5 ESV)

He redeemed me by keeping me from it, even before I ever started thinking about Him.

Wow!

From admiration to assassination in 30 seconds 

“And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth…” (Luke 4:22 ESV)

“When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.” (Luke 4:28 – 4:29 ESV)

In between the above two passages was a short, 30 second message from Jesus to those in Nazareth, His hometown. Their response wasn’t much different than today’s religious folk.

It wasn’t a message about Heaven or Hell, or even giving more money to the Temple building fund.

So what was it that got them so worked up? Why were they willing to let Him hang around and read from the scriptures one minute, but ready to murder Him the next?

It’s the same thing that gets folks, yes, even church going folks, riled up today.

He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

That’s what did it.

When He finished reading from Isaiah 61, and handed the scroll back to the attendant, Luke recorded that all eyes were on Him, as though they were anticipating His next few words.

This is what He read from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18 – 4:19 ESV)

Some probably thought He’d speak about Isaiah, and what a wonderful servant of the Lord He was. Others may have already started thumbing through their bibles to passages like David had written; speaking about the King of Glory arriving with power and majesty.

Some could have been piecing together ones from Malachi, thinking about Elijah, John the Baptist, and the coming of the Lord.

But no one was ready for His message, “Today this scripture is fulfilled (or ‘as good as done’) in your hearing.”

Jesus was telling them, and us, Isaiah was speaking of Him when he wrote those words some 700 years prior. He was also saying He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), that God hadn’t changed, and He knew Him so well He could speak on His behalf.

And that’s what gets today’s people rankled at times.

It’s one thing to talk about God. People who are very uncomfortable talking about Jesus can usually talk about God with no difficulty. “God” isn’t necessarily personal; only some “higher power” or “force” way beyond the blue.

Yet Jesus said, in essence, “I know God, and He knows Me. He has empowered Me to do what I’m doing. God has anointed Me to heal all who are oppressed by the devil. Today. Right now.”

God IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. All He has done in times past, He is not only able, but willing to do today. 

Through His Son Jesus.

Paul wrote, “Today is the day of salvation…”. In other words, no one need wait an extra minute to believe, receive, and experience the promises of God.

He also wrote, in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, “…we beg you, as if God were speaking instead of us, be reconciled to God…”. Or, “We’re not lying. All He has promised, He means to make good. We know Him personally and are speaking for Him.”

Yep, that has a tendency to get folks a little peeved. But isn’t that just what a witness is supposed to do? Speak of things he has seen, heard, and knows to be true?

When you declare Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever as though you know it to be so, don’t expect everyone around you to be full of joy. They may even attempt to shut you up. 

But that’s okay. Everyone needs to hear, we need to declare it, and Jesus will take care of the rest.

After all, He authenticates (confirms) His word with accompanying signs. All the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ. He is God’s “Amen”.

So be it!

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