The Mystery & Meaning Of Marriage

John Piper’s insight of both the Old Testament and New Testament meaning of marriage is profound!

Here are the links to the Scriptures he references:

Piper’s conclusions:

  1. God modeled marriage on the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  2. Therefore, marriage has always been a witness (or a drama or a parable) of covenant love between Christ and the church.
  3. Therefore, the roles of husband and wife derive from the roles God designed for Christ and the church.
  4. Therefore, confusing or minimizing these roles obscures the meaning of marriage as a drama of the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  5. Therefore, let every husband seek to love and lead and nourish and protect like Christ, and let every wife love her husband and honor his Christ-like role, joining hands in Christ-exalting mission as God meant for the church to do.

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Love = Patience

PatienceLast week I wrote about how we can be empowered to get along with everyone, everywhere. But something I didn’t mention (which might be obvious) is this: Connecting with everybody, everywhere is hard work!

We have to remember that relationship is the goal. We’re not trying to make converts to Christianity and rack up some sort of high score. We’re building relationships with people because we love people; and that love for them should motivate us to:

  1. Want what’s best for them
  2. Be willing to serve them

The Bible says this: And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Everyone?! There’s that word again!

This word patient has five parts to its definition. I’m struck by how these aspects of patience also echo the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13…

  • Patience doesn’t lose heart—Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4a)
  • Patience endures misfortune—Love is not self-seeking (13:5a)
  • Patience is slow to anger—Love is not easily angered (13:5b)
  • Patience bears with the offenses of others—Love keeps no record of wrongs (13:5c)
  • Patience perseveres bravely—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (13:7-8)

How are you doing in your relationships? Are you losing heart? becoming angry? about ready to throw in the towel on a difficult relationship? Ask God to renew your love, and your patience level will increase as well. 

Let’s all strive to love others—even the difficult “others”—the way God loves us!

4 Ways To Share The Good News With Everyone

Everybody EveryoneJesus told His followers that their ministry assignment was to take His message of salvation throughout the entire world. One requirement to do this, is to be able to communicate with lots of people. Actually to be able to communicate with everyone.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)

Really? Everybody and everyone?!

Yes!

Jesus said our Helper would be the Holy Spirit. He would come to empower us to be witnesses to everyone, everybody, everywhere (Acts 1:8).

We have been learning how to communicate with others better, but noticing their communication style “accent.” Check out this post to get some more insight into this. In a nutshell…

  • Doers are action-oriented
  • Planners like to work out all the details
  • People want to make sure everyone is connected
  • Visions are imagining a better future

So if you are a Doer, and you’re trying to share the Good News about Jesus with a Planner, you can probably see a potential problem. The Doer is speaking in bullet points, but the Planner is wanting a lot more facts and figures.

This is where the Holy Spirit can help us. He has the insight that we don’t, and He can direct our words, just as He directed Christ’s words (see John 12:49-50).

Here’s how to talk their talk when you’re sharing the Good News:

(1) Doer—

  • Keep it brief
  • Share more facts than stories
  • Stress now/today
  • Rely on the Gospel of Mark (action oriented)

(2) Planner—

  • Tell them the who, what, where, when, why, and how
  • Be ready for lots of questions
  • Give them time to process your information
  • Rely on the Gospel of Matthew (lots of background, lots of Old Testament references to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how)

(3) People—

  • Develop a friendship first
  • Share more stories than facts
  • Don’t tell them, show them your personal life
  • Rely on the Gospel of Luke (lots of personal stories about changed lives)

(4) Vision—

  • Share both the facts and the stories
  • Encourage them to “Imagine what would happen …”
  • Give them time to ask questions
  • Rely on the Gospel of John (very poetic and image-rich)

You can connect with everyone, everybody, everywhere and share the Gospel with them in an effective way. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you the insight you need.

Check out how I describe this in more detail here…

Mom, Your Prayers ARE Making A Difference

Mother's loveOne day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Momma, why are some of your hairs white?” Spotting a teachable moment, her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Mom, you have earned every one of those gray hairs or wrinkles through your loving care for us!

Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Proverbs 16:3)

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29)

Mom, your love for us can be summed up in one verse—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

And the Apostle Paul’s words to a young preacher are just as true for Moms as they were for Timothy: Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Don’t give up, Mom! You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

What has God promised you about your family? Has He said your whole family will call on Jesus as their Savior? Then persevere in that. Has He said that your prodigal child will come home? Then persevere in that. Despite the odds, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, keep on loving them and praying for them. It IS making a difference!

Here’s an encouraging biblical example of a little-known Mom’s prayerful influence on a son that is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ…

Keep persevering in prayer, Mom. Your prayers ARE making a difference!

The Rewards For Getting Along With Difficult People

How To Get Along With OthersHere’s a shocking statement—Difficult people are difficult to get along with. I know, I probably just blew your mind with that one, but sometimes it’s important to state the obvious.

Christians should be the best at getting along with others. First of all, because they have the Holy Spirit to help them, and, second, because the world is watching to see if having a relationship with Jesus really does make a difference.

We’ve already learned that in order to change our behavior toward difficult people, we can’t change our behavior (check out my post on that topic here). Instead, we need to change our thoughts first. One thought to change is about ourselves, and another thought to change is the fact that Jesus promised rewards for those who loved difficult people—

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:32-35)

One way to love others is by learning to “speak their language.” Most of us communicate with four different accents: Doer, People, Planner, Vision.

You can watch the video where I explain these styles in more detail, but you can learn their accent by listening for…

(1) How they handle stressful situations:

  • Doer—get hyper-focused
  • Planner—withdraw to plan
  • People—call a meeting
  • Vision—take time to daydream

(2) How they listen to others:

  • Doer—take short bullet points and then quick action
  • Planner—take detailed notes, and ask lots of detailed questions
  • People—make good eye contact, take very little notes, and then reiterate what was said
  • Vision—doodle, and express “ping pong ball” thoughts

(3) How they speak about folks with other “accents”:

  • Doer—this is taking too long; nothing ever gets done; they’re daydreamers
  • Planner—they jump the gun; they’re swayed by emotions; they’re unpredictable
  • People—why don’t they want to meet; they’re too aggressive; they’re too robotic
  • Vision—they don’t see the big picture; they’re too rigid; they’re too emotional

You CAN get along better with everyone. Romans 12:18 tells us that peaceful living with others depends on you and me. Let’s do this well so that Jesus is glorified!

Don’t Try To Change Your Bad Behavior

Thoughts to beahviorsAs I wrote previously, I believe Christians should be the best at getting along with others. First of all, Christians have been empowered by the Holy Spirit with the skills necessary to live at peace with everyone, IF we will only allow the Spirit to do the necessary work in us. And second, the way Christians treat others goes a long way toward either attracting or repelling others from a relationship with Jesus.

But here’s an important thing: If you don’t get along well with others now, don’t try to change your behavior!

Stephen Covey wrote, “To try to change outward behaviors does very little good in the long run if I fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow.”

You see, behavior is the fruit. If we want to change the fruit, we need to back up a few steps.

The Apostle Paul used the life of Jesus as an example for Christians on how we can get along with others. But notice this: most of what Paul discusses is the “inside stuff.”

The progression goes like this (see Philippians 2:1-13)—

Thoughts → Values → Attitudes → Behaviors

(1) Thoughts—These need to be humble thoughts about God’s love toward us (v. 1).

(2) Values—Paul tells us to be “one in spirit and purpose” with others (v. 2). The definition of the Greek words here mean valuing the well-being of everyone. Paul then explains how our humility can lead to these win-win relationships (vv. 3, 4).

(3) Attitudes—“Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus” (v. 5). Jesus showed us what it was to have an attitude related toward obedience to God’s will.

(4) Behavior—If our thoughts, values and attitudes are rightly aligned to God, then our behavior will naturally be Christ-like as well. We see the example of Jesus in verses 6-8, and God’s reward for that behavior in verses 9-11. Then Paul calls on Christians to follow that pattern in our own lives (vv. 12, 13).

Most decent, reasonably-thinking human beings share the same values. Harry Truman said, “When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint—understand what he is trying to do—nine times out of ten he is trying to do right.”

The problem is this: When the other person behaves differently from me, my natural tendency is to assume he doesn’t value what I value. In other words, I’m judging his value system on the way I normally behave.

The break-down is in my attitude. That’s the area I need to address. That’s the attribute of Jesus that Paul told us to copy.

So if I want to get along better with others, I shouldn’t try to change my behavior, but my attitude. My prayer should be: “I want this same attitude to be in me which was also in Christ Jesus. He served God and others, so I too want to follow His example of obedience, and I want to demonstrate my appreciation for all that Jesus has done for me by working hard to better get along with others. Help me change my attitude!”

Check out this video of the full message…

I hope you can join us next Sunday as we continue learning how to get along with others. Please join us in person or on Periscope.

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