Off My Chest! Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Sports

March Madness will reach its crescendo of insanity at the end of this week. Perfect timing for my first post in a series of occasional rants called Off My Chest!

I hate sports. As a kid, I hated gym class. I voluntarily accepted an F in gymnastics, reasoning I’m a female human being, not a monkey. I don’t swing on bars. You might say I loathe sports simply because don’t have an athletic gene in me. But wait. It’s much more than that.

Here’s why I hate sports. We will do this Letterman style, with the #1 reason at the end. Fasten your seat belts. And before you exit, be sure to read the Disclaimer.

  • Hearing squeaking sneakers, whistles, fans screaming and droning commentators just bugs me.
  • Pro athletes are greedy celebrities. Many are narcissistic, womanizers, druggies. Some were/are murderers and abusers of women. Most are not good role models for children.  (Tim Tebow might be an exception.) Watching or following sports is no longer a wholesome recreation for children.
  • Like most worthless entertainment, watching sports is mesmerizing and mind-numbing. Think of the ancient Romans and their bread and circuses. Hmmm. What else is going on in the world while Joe Sports is shoveling GMO nachos into his mouth?
  • Game time commercials appeal to the male animal. They are all about partying, women, sex, lust, beer, cars, Viagra, toxic fast food, etc. Need I say more?
  • Watching/playing sports promotes unrealistic body images. Build more muscle, increase strength and stamina. This leads to my next reason why I hate sports:
  • Sports promote drug use for both body enhancement (steroids, etc.) and recovery from sports injuries. So many adolescents have ruined their shoulders, knees, noses, etc., because of sports participation. Painkillers are addictive and millions of millenials are hooked.
  • The Olympics have become a humanistic demonic display, getting more perverse each year. Remember what the ancient Greeks valued: physical beauty and their various idols. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics in recent years have been full of occultism. Flames, circles, painted and feathered androgynous figures. Mystery Babylon is alive and well. Gender blurring is evident in these games, and in all sports as well. Do men who identify as female play on female teams? How can physical competitions be fair if we embrace 41 different genders?
  • There are so many better things to do. Yes, I know, most parents say their kids are in extracurricular sports to keep them physically fit and keep them out of trouble. Sounds good. The result? Very harried parents who run to and fro weeknights and weekends, Sunday games that keep the whole family from Lord’s Day worship services, and kids who never read books, sit still, or do any chores.
  • Women sports commentators. This burns me up. As if cheerleaders shaking their pom-poms are not enough, we now have buxom babes well versed in football strategy manning the games [pardon the pun]. With testosterone and dopamine levels already rising, here’s more fodder for the male animal. And don’t tell me men don’t see it this way. Women sportscasters are not sports fiends or experts, they are eye candy. Sexploitation at its finest.
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    Sam teaches Tess all about baseball.

    In the past, it was cute to be a female who didn’t understand football (or baseball, etc.) Case in point: In the 1942 movie, Woman of the Year, Tess Harding is a journalist (and feminist!) covering international affairs. Sam Craig is a sportswriter. Sam is attracted to Tess and invites her to a baseball game. This intellectual feminist knows nothing about the game. So Sam patiently explains it all to her. How endearing, how darling, how romantic. Even though Tess was a feminazi brat, she still had feminine qualities, and especially integrity. Fast forward to today when guys are turned-on by a beautiful woman sports commentator who speaks his language. This new Perfect Woman makes millions just for looking good while reading a teleprompter. Go grab some more carcinogenic microwave popcorn while I vomit.

  • And the #1 reason why I hate sports:

Sports is a marriage destroyer.

Wives can feel abandoned by sports-addicted husbands. And they don’t appreciate the pornographic ads either. Men who are really hooked follow a couple of sports every season. So it takes up 365 days a year. Fantasy sports plays right into the hand of the mesmerized male animal, adding to his delusions of grandeur as a powerful team manager. It’s fake. It’s a waste of time and money. But it’s addictive. And destructive to marriage.

This short video explains the addictive cycle of watching sports.

This is your brain on sports:

Disclaimer #1: I understand that couples, both husband and wife, may actually enjoy watching or playing sports together. That’s great. This post is addressing professional, televised sports for the most part. Yes, participating in a sport is great exercise. I’m fine with guys getting together to shoot baskets and stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong. As for me, I think the good Lord provided enough ways to exercise just by working – in the garden, doing housework, chopping wood, whatever! — not by peddling on monstrous machines that take up entire living rooms or competitively charging into one another.

Disclaimer #2 – Please disregard the reference to evolution in the above video (the morphing ape-man). UGH.

By the way, I love to shoot baskets with my 30-something son. And yes, I am pretty good at it, even though I’m short.

I’m done. Thank you for listening.

photo credit: screenshot from Woman of the Year, courtesy Wikimedia

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Cruising Toward Valentine’s Day: Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

lovein-the-airIt’s February 8th. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions went?

Hope they are going well. Meanwhile, as we cruise toward Valentine’s Day, why not resolve to enhance your one flesh union?

Disclaimer: My husband and I are not marriage experts. We both failed at it the first time. We are divorced, Reformed and remarried…remember. Here are some things we’ve learned (and are still learning) from this day forward

How can I love thee better? Let me count the ways…

Schedule regular devotions and prayer together. We all know how important this is, but we often neglect doing this as a couple. It is crucial if we want to keep our marriage intact.

Assume the best of him (her). How often do we come to conclusions about our mate before all the facts are in? Ladies, we (well I know I do!) try to read his mind and motivations, then assume the worst. Not good. Stop it.

No dumping. When he calls from work, or comes home from work at the end of the day, don’t dump problems on him. He’s been stressed for 8 hours or more, don’t add to it. Save the problems, discussions, bills for later.

Guard one another’s souls. This would be the opposite of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all struggle with sin. Confess when you’re curt, wrong, or have lost your temper. Ask for forgiveness and mean it. Ask if your honey has slipped, needs prayer, or needs a broom over his head.

Guard your tongue. This is a biggie. And stop that muttering under your breath. It would be good to do repeated studies on the tongue throughout the year. It’s astounding how many bible verses there are on misuse of the tongue! Many of them come from Proverbs, one of the wisdom books. So here is wisdom:

  • He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
  • Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:1,4).
  • Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:8)
  • For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:10)
  • And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. (James 1:26)

sources: Scripture to Help Tame My Tongue and Bible Verses About Power of the Tongue

If those verses don’t convince you to be careful with that tongue, there are many more. Continue reading

Sandpaper Spouses: When You Rub Each Other The Wrong Way

img_4601There are many kinds of sandpaper: extra fine, fine, and varying degrees of coarse.

According to Lowes:

One way to determine which sandpaper will work best for a particular job is to know the abrasive materials and their properties.

I have a coarse sandpaper spouse. Let me explain.

One morning I exploded over a crumb-filled, butter-smeared stove cook top. Why on earth he uses the cook top as a counter when we have several feet of decent counter space is beyond me. I told him many times how it’s more difficult to clean that cook top than wipe down a counter. Not to mention how plastic bread bags can melt on it, and paper plates may burn (because he also forgets that the stove top may still be HOT). Yet, the leopard can’t change his spots.

A gas stove is a good solution and it’s been on my wish list but…

…this is only one sandpaper spouse episode. There are others.

He’s a morning person, I’m a night person. He seems to be demon-possessed when he’s tired. The nastiest stuff comes out of his mouth before he finally succumbs to deep snoring (annoying!) sleep.

Mornings in our kitchen: meet the grumpy slug and the energizer bunny. Guess which one I am? He waits and waits for his eggs and toast. And waits.

I am his sandpaper spouse.

Don’t get me wrong. We do love each other. Intensely. We just rub each other the wrong way. But isn’t it said that opposites attract?

He is wooden; I am expressive. I never know what he’s thinking or feeling. My feelings are apparent, and if he doesn’t get them, he will soon, in a very loud way. He is so primal. Scarfs down his food without looking at me, without conversation. I’m slo-o-o-ow. He’s fast, but he rushes, so he’s more accident-prone, and forgetful. I mull over decisions. He’s impulsive.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Sandpaper comes in different grit numbers. According to Lowes:

The grit number of a sanding product indicates the size of the abrasive particles. The lower the number, the larger the abrasive particles — they remove more material but create more noticeable scratches.

I live with a low grit sandpaper spouse. The one with the large abrasive particles, um, er…habits. I am wounded with gaping scratches. My sandpaper spouse makes me explode in anger. Then he softly, calmly asks me, “Did you take your blood pressure pill today?”

More truth on grit:

A higher number indicates smaller particles which don’t remove as much material but leave a finer, more polished appearance. – Lowes

Remove material. Smooth a surface. A more polished appearance. Hmmmmm…

Kinda like the sanctification process, perhaps?

Uses of sandpaper, according to Lowes:

  1. Stripping away_________
  2. Removing flaws
  3. Leveling and shaping wood (perfect for my ‘wooden’ spouse! I do feel like leveling him, sometimes)

As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. – Proverbs 27:17

We are always doing projects in our old house. We never realized that we are each other’s projects. Well actually, we are God’s projects. He does all the work in us.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; – Philippians 1:6

God definitely uses marriage to refine us.

I love what Tim Challies says in Did You Marry The Wrong Person?:

“But here is what we need to see: The wrongness of our spouse is one of the great formative influences on us. The wrongness and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. A few years down the road you will look back on all of that wrongness, all you declared to be wrong about your husband or wife, and find that God was not wrong at all. He knew exactly what you needed.”

It has been said and sung, “you can’t always get what you want…but you get what you need.” I believe our Lord matched us perfectly. We will be refined as gold. That’s what marriage is all about, Charlie Brown. It’s not all fun. Sometimes all that husband-wife-best-friend stuff makes me cringe. It’s not always blissfully agreeing with one another. It’s not the Jungian synchronicity of two souls brought together by serendipity. It’s two souls made one flesh by a gracious God who ordained marriage to be a display of His love.

Ugh, when I think of how poorly we represent that, I am humbled. I want to ease up on that man I nicknamed Pig Man. I’m reminded that we are both sinners saved by grace. I’m willing to be ‘sanded’ for the duration of this marriage. For my good. And he will endure my fiery darts, for his good. All for our good. For God’s glory!

Love God, love one another…

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15

Marriage is a vehicle of love. Let’s ride on.

Til death do us part.

Beauty for Ashes: Christian Remarriage After Divorce

sign direction new life - old life
“…to give unto them beauty for ashes…”

In a perfect church, everyone hears the gospel and believes at a young age.  In a perfect church, two people who profess Jesus Christ to be their Saviour and take marriage vows are truly both regenerated.  Two people who marry in Christ understand the marriage vows to be permanent. Though these sinners saved by grace may have difficulties, they look to Christ for the grace and strength to endure. In a perfect church.

But there are no perfect churches.

In an imperfect church, you’ll find divorced people. Some have been remarried. This is part of diversity in the church. We all have diverse pasts, diverse circumstances and diverse social statuses. We have married couples, singles, widows and widowers…and we have divorced people.

I thought it would be good to start my third year of blogging by revisiting the topic of remarriage after divorce, though I will not argue whether remarriage after divorce is right or wrong. That was the topic that launched this blog. For the Biblical arguments please refer to that post (which was my most popular to date!) here: Can Two Divorced People Remarry?

Secular statistics on second marriages show they are doomed to fail. I do not believe we can use secular statistics for the church. If Jesus Christ is the staying power, the faithful One in the bond of Christian marriage, the marriage cannot fail.

So, I say poo-poo to statistics. Here are three beautiful examples of blessed remarriages [names have been changed to respect privacy]:

I Just Want to Be Happy/Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Couple #1

Alan was a covenant child – raised in the Christian faith. His parents brought him up with the Bible and church attendance. He made a profession of faith as a teenager. Sadly, he did not continue walking with the Lord. Over his dad’s objections, he married young. After 14 years of marriage, he divorced his wife. Alan blamed his family for his lack of happiness and peace. He remarried (without seeking the Lord) and divorced his second wife.

Cathy also grew up in a Christian family, but sought satisfaction in career and family. Her first marriage ended in divorce. Her second marriage was planned, but her intended died of a heart attack before the wedding. She threw herself back into her career. Then she met and married Alan, who came with three children from his first marriage. They bought a home and had one of Alan’s children move in with them.They felt the child needed to attend church, so that got Alan and Cathy physically back to church, but not yet spiritually. It was then that Cathy began meditating on the Word and asking questions. Alan helped her in her understanding and in the process, he repented and rededicated his life to the Lord. Couple #1 sought counsel of church elders. Alan asked forgiveness not only of the Lord, but of his family and children whom he’d wronged. Alan and Cathy  determined to rebuild a Christian family. They adopted four children. Two of them were special needs babies! Sadly, their first baby died at 17 months. They praised the Lord for her life and the privilege of having her, even for a short time. The Lord kept them through trials and disappointments. They went on to raise their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Couple #1 is one of the most beautiful, faithful couples I’ve come to know in our church. They recently celebrated their 41st anniversary. They enjoy visiting their children, grandchildren and twelve (so far) great-grandchildren. What would it be like, had they been refused marriage? Continue reading

Trials and Triumphs: Happy Anniversary to Us and This Blog

We recently celebrated our fourth anniversary. And what a special celebration it was, after hearing the good news that I am cancer-free. Mike and I reflected on all the trials we’ve faced in these four short years. We’re praising God for every thing we’ve been through: both kind and dark Providences.

Our marriage has endured unique difficulties. We lived apart almost our entire first year. Mike worked in Portsmouth, Ohio and owned a home in Cincinnati. He had a long commute to work, so he also had an apartment near Portsmouth. He’d get three days off in between rotating shifts and that’s when he’d visit his wife [me!] in Indy. So we were in perpetual dating mode for a while. Fun, but not really. We were living in limbo.

When does this end? I can’t live without you!

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Husband moves in. What do I do with all his junk?

It ended the following year, when Mike lost his job in Ohio. That’s when we had to sell his house fast, and get mine off the market (which I was very thrilled to do. We love the Storybook House). That’s when we suffered six months of unemployment for Mike, financial loss on the Cincinnati house (bought before the housing bubble burst), and total confusion (having some stuff packed for Cincinnati, and now packing Mike up for Indy).

 

When does this end? I can’t live WITH you!

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The Cave Man, or The Cook in the Nook.

Yes, it was hard seeing him plopped in his favorite spot — our cozy, cave-like breakfast nook. Guys do love caves. They don’t seem to need much light. Poor guy searched for jobs every day. I murmured that I couldn’t get anything done. I felt like I was chained to the stove. He was hungry every two hours, like an infant. Sometimes he’d look up from the nook and say, Is that burning? A most insulting thing to say to an Italian American cook.

I have been cooking for forty years! I know what I’m doing! I’d shriek.

I continued my job as web editor from my home office, but I was greatly distracted by this lumbering, lurking man. I guess this was technically our adjustment year. God gave us a crash course in tolerating each other’s habits, er, um…sins.

By 2014, things were looking up. And we certainly kept looking up to our Lord Jesus Christ, but not enough. Mike was blessed with a great job in the Spring of 2014. Shortly after, I quit mine.

2014 and 2015 were pretty good years. This year was the most difficult so far. My cancer diagnosis was a shock for us, but praise the Lord, we are rejoicing that He has healed me. Happy Anniversary to my beloved husband, who has stood by me for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, truly!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

We received this timely mailing [pictured above] shortly before our anniversary.

I can promise you this, Michael, I would have thrown this book in your face if you handed it to me on our anniversary. This is a lazy cop-out of a gift, and what’s worse is its COST. I prefer the blundering, blithering fool I’ve got than the poetry of dead men and women who never knew me. So there.

Marital Bliss

I tell him repeatedly, stop hovering over me (because he thinks he knows how to cook, or clean, or whatever). Or, stop pacing (because sometimes he can’t seem to stay still). He calls me Old Befana (because I love to sweep) or the Crumb Nazi (because I see every speck even without my glasses). But now these words are tempered with love. Most of the time.

Our current trial is Mike’s new work shift: 3pm-11pm. You can be sure there’s lots of hovering, pacing and shrieking between the hours of 9am-2:30pm.

New school year, new blog year

When I started this blog back in September 2014, I used the subtitle: the trials and tribulations of our second time around. I had no clue just how numerous or difficult those trials would be. Looking back in hindsight, I can see how God used these trials for our good.

My favorite season is coming soon. Autumn is a great time for a fresh new start. New notebooks, pencils and folders. Time to get writing. Time to continue learning in the school of Christ. I am a forever student.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Divorced, Reformed and Remarried!

I want to return to its focus on marriage and remarriage after divorce. Stay tuned for more of our adventures.

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Our Storybook House where we live happily ever after.

Are You Ready To REALLY Love Me?

What a horrible summer it’s been. Forget buzz words.

This is a special break from our regularly scheduled programming.

Buzz words are far better than the C word. I didn’t want to ever have to deal with that one.

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It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year (in Judith Viorst’s words. I love children’s books, so nothing says it better than that).

It all started shortly after New Year’s Day, when I broke a tooth on an almond. So much for healthy choices.

So that got me to the dentist, after a ten-year hiatus. Yes. You could only imagine the bill I’m still paying.

Then with April rains, came a mysterious spot of blood. Just one spot and tiny at that. I thought it was, maybe, I dunno…maybe I’ll ignore it. But I couldn’t.

So that got me to a gynecologist.

Fast forward to June 20, after having a PAP (abnormal but not showing cancer), uterine biopsy (abnormal but not showing cancer), ultrasound (looking good, but fooled ya!), and finally, a LEEP and D&C, I get the dreaded call. I had been praying fervently that morning, that I would finally get a good report, after all these other inconclusive tests.

 

IMG_4189Ring.

It wasn’t the receptionist or nurse from the doctor’s office. It was the doctor. My heart started pounding.

“I have your pathology report here. I’m so sorry. You have uterine cancer.”

“Okay” I said, shaking, but not crying…yet.

I called a dear sister from church, immediately asking for that APB (All Prayer Bulletin) to be put out across our church family.

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My plans and lists. His plans are far better, for His glory.

Then I cried. And prayed. And did some chores, zombie-like.

Then I called my daughter. My daughter, who has survived her father’s abandonment. My daughter, who has survived her own daughter’s cancer. All by God’s grace. And now she is the most positive, upbeat, loving woman that I can lean on.

My poor husband was next in line. I hate telling him horrible stuff over the phone while he’s at work, but he knew I’d get results today and he would ask anyway.

“Honey, we have a dark providence to deal with.”

“Oh, no.”

“ARE YOU READY TO REALLY LOVE ME?”

I will be weepy. I might be mean, impatient and irritable. I might not have dinner for you when you get home.

Later on, he said he cried, and I think I believe him, though I couldn’t see his tears through the cell phone.

Are you ready to really love me, husband? Are you ready and willing to put physical intimacy on hold? Can you appreciate greater spiritual and emotional intimacy in exchange?

The Lord ordained this for me, for us. Be there for me. You don’t have to speak, just wrap your arms around me. Be selfless. Stop making crumbs, haha! Be sensitive to my emotional tumult. Forgive me when I scream at you. Please.

I’ve been so volatile.

We are still newlyweds. From the beginning, I told Mike how I would love and savor the years the Lord gives us. I pray that He has many more in store for us. We’ve only just begun. Continue reading

Diversity vs. The Melting Pot: A Cook’s Analysis

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A play by Israel Zangwill, first staged in 1908, popularized the term ‘melting pot’ to define American society.

Growing up in ethnically diverse Brooklyn, New York, I was taught that America was a melting pot. The concept was easily understood. My best buddies were black, Jewish, or Italian like me.

The Melting Pot. That’s a phrase we don’t hear anymore. A melting pot is one pot, blended together.

My husband Mike used to douse his food with hot sauce. When he asked for hot sauce during our first newlywed meals together, I was highly insulted. Hot sauce covers up all the distinct flavors I put together in a meal. Hot sauce is meant for bland, boring food. He thought he was a foodie. Oh, how he has learned. In the nearly four years we’ve been married, his palate has gotten more discriminating. That’s the best use of the word discriminatingbeing able to detect and appreciate each distinct element within the dish. A dish that is so exciting because of all the various ingredients, herbs and spices.

I like the term melting pot much better than diversity.

The Recipe

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A marriage of lovely ingredients simmered together result in a great meal.

 

Who doesn’t love a good tomato sauce? Heat some extra virgin olive oil. Add finely chopped onions and sauté until they are looking clear, but don’t burn them. Add chopped garlic, plenty of it. Simmer a few more minutes while they dance in the pot together. Then add one can of organic tomato paste and stir it all up. Now you have a nice Italian ‘roux’. Throw some dried or fresh basil and oregano on that…keep stirring. Then add water a bit at a time. Slow. Blend. Now add your favorite red wine. Pop. Next add 3 or 4 large cans of organic crushed tomatoes, San Marzano are best, but pricey. Sniff the flavors. Add salt, cayenne, more basil, oregano to preferred taste. Meanwhile, you have meatballs getting oven-browned. When they’re looking nicely browned, drop them into the saucepot. Their rich meaty flavor will assimilate, giving the sauce a final boost. Let this simmer, uncovered for a couple of hours.

Because beautiful, delicious food is only complete when it has simmered, blended, melted, married together. All in one pot.

All flavors enhance the dish. None overpowers the other. Taste and see. Do you detect the basil? I hope so. How about that cayenne? Yes, a bit of heat. And sweetness that comes from wine, not sugar. So good. Each ingredient brings something unique to the dish. When one is missing, the cook knows. The foodie should know.

A melting pot, yet with very distinguishable flavors.

My Italian Roots

The melting pot is a great metaphor for the concept of America. Both sets of my grandparents came from southern Italy. They came here with hope, weary of their hard lives of poverty in their native country. As Italian Americans, we assimilated into American culture – and wanted to! My parents grew up speaking both Italian and English, worked hard to achieve the American Dream while keeping their Italian traditions (and recipes, thankfully!).

The ultimate appreciation of diversity is recognizing that every culture brings something good to our society at large. There are also many negative cultural distinctions that should not be part of the melting pot. Those need to be purged out. I would not want you to think of the mafia culture associated with my Italian blood. I would not want you to visualize the Sopranos around their table when you think of dinner at my house.

Diversity in the true church…

includes the wealthy, the poor, the intellectual, the simple, all colors and ethnicities. This is the great multitude of God’s people spoken of in Revelation. Here is a picture of the melting pot of believers all grafted in to the Body of Christ:

After these things I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with long white robes, and palms in their hands. – Revelation 7:9

God is no respecter of persons.

There is neither Jew nor Grecian: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive, that God is no [respecter] of persons. — Acts 10:34

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 10:34 Distinction of nations is taken away by the coming of Christ: And it is evidently seen by faith and righteousness, who is agreeable to him, or whom he accepteth.

In other words, we don’t make a big stink about our particular ethnic distinctions as believers in Christ. We are all One in Christ. The problem today is that people want to hold on to these distinctions as a source of pride. The apostolic church did not separate themselves into Cornelius’ Roman church, or the Ethiopian Black Church. They may have been geographically separate, but still Christ’s one true church. Continue reading

True Soul Mates and the Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards

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Soul mates is a phrase I love to hate. I hate it because our culture has warped its true meaning. Poets and writers have expressed the concept. These, I love. What heart does not flutter at this thought?

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
-Emily Brontë

or this one:

He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.
-Leo Tolstoy

SIGH.

America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet, penned these lines for her soul mate husband, Simon:

My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more,
My joy, my Magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I,
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lye?

 

Jonathan and Sarah

If ever there were soul mates they had to be Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. Jonathan Edwards died at age 54 after he was inoculated with smallpox vaccine. He was aware the vaccine did not work and knew he was dying. I was touched to read that Jonathan Edwards, austere preacher of ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, could also convey this loving message to his wife while on his deathbed:

“Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her that the
uncommon union which has so long subsisted between us has been of such a
nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God.”

The uncommon union. Spiritual. One flesh, bound together in Christ. This is the stuff of true soul mates.

 “…therefore will continue forever”

The bible clearly says there is no marriage in heaven. Yet these true soul mates, since they are knit together in Christ, will forever be one, as we, the bride of Christ, are all One in Him. What a glorious thought. Earthly roles of husband and wife do not continue, but the spiritual oneness does.

Continue reading

Identity Crisis! Part 3: Complementarianism – Was Jerry Maguire right when he said, “You complete me”?

You know the scene. Tom Cruise nervously stammers at an emotional Renee Zellweger.

You complete me. Several years back, every romantic idealist was touched by these words, followed by the equally endearing, Shut up, you had me at hello. I recall fiercely disagreeing with that statement but totally loving that scene at the same time. After all, no one is missing parts. No one is half a person. But wait a minute. I’m beginning to think this was a very good statement indeed. I am a complementarian. It would have been better if Jerry told Dorothy, “You complement me”.

What is complementarianism?

According to CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), an organization formed to address the widespread unbiblical teaching concerning male and female identity and God’s created order, complementarianism is:

“…the biblically derived view that men and women are complementary, possessing equal dignity and worth as the image of God, and called to different roles that each glorify him.”

 Here are the first five concerns they listed as reason to come together and articulate The Danvers Statement:

  • The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
  • the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
  • the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
  • the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
  • the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality;

This discussion took place in 1987. Fast forward to today. We have the Supreme Court deciding whether same sex marriage will be legally recognized in America. We have Bruce Jenner morphing into a woman. We have five year old girls with parental approval to be boys instead. We have women on the front lines fighting wars and women leaving babies in state-run daycare centers. We already discussed the pornographic portrayal of human sexuality and the proud display of nakedness in our last post. I think we need to reopen the conversation regarding the very biblical, very true complementarian roles of male and female designed by God.

Back to the start…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -Gen 1:27

If God did not create gender distinctions and roles, then why didn’t he just make one sex? Why couldn’t man’s mate and helper have been, simply, another man? Even among Christians, we argue whether men and women actually have these different gender attributes and roles. (We’ll discuss egalitarianism in a later post.) The confusion over sexual differences and gender blurring has had and continues to have devastating consequences. In What’s The Difference, John Piper writes:

“The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.

The term complementarian has been warped and misconstrued greatly and I hope this post will clear up all misunderstanding. In order to define it, we must define the different strengths of each sex. Again, Piper says it well here in his descriptions of mature masculinity and mature femininity. His words were carefully chosen and he chose well:

At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.

Notice he says mature masculinity. I remember the 60s/70s term male chauvinist pig. That creature would represent immature masculinity and most likely unregenerate or at best, unrepentant man. Complementarians do not condone beastly oppressive rule of man over woman. It is a benevolent responsibility (meaning of benevolent: characterized by or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings). It is a benevolent providing and a benevolent protection, all done out of the love of his heart. This sounds wonderful to me. I want that leadership, provision and protection from my husband. I depend on it. Yes, I am dependent and I love it. I love that I can trust my husband for sound spiritual leadership. This is the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands mentioned in the Danvers Statement. This is a blessing!

At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.

Notice it’s a freeing disposition. There is no bondage here. She affirms and receives and even nurtures her husband’s masculine gifts of headship. She yields to a worthy man, a follower of Jesus Christ, so ultimately, she is obedient to Christ. She is not called to cower to immature masculine aggression or share in a man’s sinful behaviors. Believing husbands and wives are to guard and nurture one another’s souls. (Remember and refer back to our Dead Men Know Best series where William Gouge told us about this mutual soul-care.) Continue reading

No Shades of Grey: Real Love 50 Ways in Old Love Letters

Fifty is a good number. When you’ve been married 50 years, it’s your golden anniversary. The Bible calls every 50th year a Jubilee. Personally, I feel splendid in my 50s. The fabulous 50s. Our culture seems to be obsessed with this number when it comes to destroying marriage and sexual purity. Some may recall when Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover. Now there’s 50 shades of grey that sound so depraved it’s hard to fathom anyone would be enticed by it.

An artist’s palette blends black and white to make grey. While it’s useful for making shadows, it is rather dull and forlorn. I don’t like what lurks in shadows. Grey can’t be trusted. Grey is undecided. I prefer absolute distinctions. Wrong or right. Love me, love me not. No in-between. There are no shades of grey in love.

We need a renaissance of real love. Put the electronic devices away. Stop the curt, lazy texting. Look away from the deviant culture of contemporary literature and film. This Valentine’s Day, write a love letter.  What a lost art! Love letters can be tied with ribbon and saved in shoe boxes. They are monuments of heartfelt love and passion. Real love. Once again, we go back to the past to rediscover such relics of love.

Love letterMay I present to you fifty ways to say you love her/him with the following snippets from old love letters? This is an example of real love:

“…the passing of the years does nothing but deepen and intensify my love for you…and yet I see that there is no end to love…there is no lover, anywhere, writing to his girl who is quite as mad about her as I am. ” — Ever yours, Martyn   (Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his wife, Bethan)

Try constructing a letter, on real paper, this Valentine’s Day. Pick up a pen and express unfeigned devoted love to your spouse. (Honey-do lists don’t count.) I know you’re busy this weekend so I’ve pulled out 50 words and/or phrases to inspire you. These were taken from The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers. Here is a great review of the book by Tim Challies. I highly recommend adding this little treasure to your bookshelf.

  1. deep

    renoir_dance1883
    Renoir: A Dance in the Country, 1883
  2. intense
  3. endless
  4. mad (about you)
  5. ever yours
  6. your letters are more efficacious to cure my headache than all the drugs of the  apothecaries’ shops
  7. delight
  8. loving kindness
  9. I now covet your heart
  10. the prospect of calling you my own
  11. the life of my life is bound up in your love
  12. abound
  13. beauty
  14. unaffected modesty
  15. fire enkindled
  16. burning and increasing ardour
  17. real regard
  18. sincere affection
  19. anxiously await
  20. felicity
  21. temporal blessing
  22. my dearest friend
  23. communicate your thoughts with freedom
  24. invariable affection
  25. pray for me
  26. humble servant
  27. unfeigned friend
  28. honorable esteem of a wife
  29. he loved her soul
  30. constant
  31. often thought of you
  32. most fondness
  33. many comfortable days and weeks and years with you
  34. perfectly happy
  35. I long for
  36. reading…your letters is more to me than any other company or entertainment which books or friends can here afford mevalentine3
  37. remembering you
  38. to be much together
  39. cast myself at your feet
  40. your devoted servant
  41. great pleasure to find you love me so tenderly
  42. let us stir up each other to return sincere and vehement love for all His benefits
  43. ardent desire
  44. genuine piety which eminently adorns your person
  45. spend my life in happy union
  46. dearest of mortals!
  47. I sincerely love you
  48. my sweet love
  49. pleasing painful passion
  50. passions are blind and dangerous leaders, but when they faithfully follow conviction they preserve their proper place and are not amiss…

Note that last one! It was written by Thomas Charles to his intended wife, Sally Jones, in the year 1780. What wisdom. Thomas Charles is also quoted in #6 about Sally’s letters as a cure for his headache. I bet you thought a woman wrote that one!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember to express real love to your spouse using the ancient form of communication known as the love letter.

Red rose on love letter