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

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

Diversity: What it should NOT be in the True Church

It’s official: summer is here and it’s heating up out there. As I sat in my garden sipping coffee this morning, I heard a buzz. Coffee break over. Time to tackle my first nasty buzz word in this summer blog series.

Diversity is a very hot and complicated issue. The general meaning of the word from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diversity:

  • the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.
  • the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
  • the condition of having or being composed of differing elements :  variety; especially :  the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization <programs intended to promote diversity in schools>
  • an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities :  an instance of being diverse <a diversity of opinion>

As you can see, there is diversity in the definition of diversity. Therefore, I will tackle diversity in three different posts and maybe, a concluding fourth post. First, what diversity in the church is NOT (this post). Second, we’ll discuss racial and cultural diversity. And last, we’ll explore diversity of backgrounds and social status in the church.

Diversity is a good thing. God created diversity. “Diversity was God’s idea” as it says in this article What does the Bible say about diversity? The article also says,

People, God’s final creation, are diverse, too. He did not create us as clones or robots. He created two different genders (Mark 10:6). The creation of male and female is diversity at its most basicthe sexes are very different, yet complementary.

That’s gender diversity as God created it: male and female.Two distinct genders. Period.

I know, I said I didn’t want to deal with diversity with regard to gender but I feel I must.

Diversity is so tied to this LGBT transgender thing, which is why I hate this particular buzz word when I hear it in Christian circles. So let me offer a quote from a dead (but very much alive) man, Hugh Martin from The Abiding Presence.

“All diversities that are not of Christ’s own prior creation must unquestionably disappear.”

Now I’m sure Hugh Martin was not addressing coed bathrooms when he penned these words in 1860. But I think it is a perfect chastisement for this perverse generation who now attempt to ‘create’ other genders. We can’t have a church with one bathroom for all.

I’m sure all in the Reformed Christian camp would agree that diversities of sexual orientation, transgender or gender confusion do NOT get assimilated into the Body of Christ, the true church. It is …“false, factitious, of man’s formation” – as Hugh Martin says. It gets rebuked. Lovingly, of course. No true Christian can cling to or continue to practice pet sins.

So our challenge as the Body of Christ is to declare His Word; define sin as He clearly does. Yes, accept all with love. Never forget Rosaria Butterfield’s testimony. A lesbian activist transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, she is now the wife of Reformed Presbyterian Pastor Kent Butterfield. Bear in mind that it was a friend’s love, kindness, patience and prayer that lead to Rosaria’s conversion. Here is her testimony:

If you don’t have time to view the entire video, read her testimony here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-train-wreck-conversion.html

So when that gender-confused person walks into our church building, he/she will get a dose of Truth. Should he/she be moved to stay, be convicted, quickened by the Spirit and enabled to believe, that confusion will fade. That sinner will repent. We would all rejoice with the saints in heaven at such a manifestation of God’s grace! All sinners are welcome. So let them in, let them hear the gospel and pray they do not remain enslaved by their sin. Continue reading

New Summer Series: Hot Topics: Bashing Bees and Buzz Words

I am one of those odd people who hate summer. Forgive me. I shouldn’t hate any thing, time or season that the Lord has made. So no hate. With that said, here is what I dislike about summer:

I dislike bees. I know they’re necessary and wonderful, but I don’t want them near me.

Cartoon-Honey-Bee-800px
I don’t like bees, but I do love honey.

I especially hate the

BUZZZZZZZZZZZ

So I decided to write about annoying buzz words that have been buzzing around in Reformed Christian circles. Right now I’m thinking of two, but I’m sure there will be more. They are:

Diversity

Gender

Oh my, putting these two words together is especially troubling. I’m not going there.

I’ve written about gender already in my Identity Crisis! Series, but I’ll take a quick revisit on that buzz word in particular, especially since there’s been increased chatter (or buzzing, if you will), concerning complementarianism.

I will start with diversity as soon as I organize various diverse ideas and thoughts that hopefully make sense.

There’s a great diversity of bugs and buzz words out there.  It’s gonna be a hot summer!

My fly swatter is ready.

You may end up wanting to swat me, but that’s okay.

BUZZ.

ZZZZAP!!

 

Identity Crisis! Part Two: Female Modesty and the Primal Male Beast

It’s Springtime. Flowers bloom, weather warms and all God’s creation revives in beautiful splendor. Yet, it is a most dreaded time of year. More than just the weather heats up. Spring and summer yield a sumptuous visual feast for the primal male beast. Barely-there shorts, bikinis, spandex and spaghetti straps or no straps at all. Temperatures are climbing. Oh yeah, it’s hot. And lust is in full bloom.

Yes, it is a dreaded time of year. Not that winter is without incident, thanks to the vilest offender and new everyday casual –  yoga pants.  There’s no escaping the flesh parade, no matter what season. It is widely available continually on TV and internet, but those venues can be turned off. Warm weather brings it up in your face whether you like it or not.

Raised on heavy doses of self-esteem and girl power, young women are proud of their bodies; bodies yet untainted by the force of gravity and other body altering realities of life. They dress provocatively without concern, imitating celebrity pop culture.

A little itsty bitsy fashion history…

Many of us can remember the so-called sexual revolution of the sixties, those days of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Perhaps you also recall those ditsy beach movies with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. That’s when the bikini was mainstreamed into American culture, following its European beginnings. In this presentation, Jessica Rey gives a quick history of the bikini and tells how it was created to empower women. She does a tremendous job and I couldn’t say it any better. Please watch this video to uncover (pun intended) the real power of the bikini.

Girl power. Bikini power. Where is all this empowerment taking us? Here is the true demonic power of the bikini – it has the power to shut down the man’s ability to see a woman as a person. Instead he sees her as an object, something to be used. The primal male brain sees tools to be used when viewing a scantily-clad female. Is that the female identity – a tool? An object of man’s lust?  I don’t know Jessica Rey’s theology but I certainly applaud her for her efforts.

But wait…this is nothing new under the sun. Bikinis actually arrived much earlier than 1946. Here’s the ancient Roman version from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository:

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? We certainly do as the Romans did, and more!

May I digress a bit?

While we’re on the subject of bikinis and ancient Roman debauchery, permit me to blast the bread and circuses of our day: sports. Many years ago as a young bride, I wrote a letter to the editor of Sports Illustrated after my husband got his swimsuit issue in the mail. I wrote something like: Are winter sports so dull that you have to compensate with some pornographic diversion? Yes, that’s precisely why the swimsuit issue was created. Sports are perfect breeding ground for wooing the primal male beast. Just look at the TV commercials during a sports broadcast. First of all, note the products being pushed. Beer, cars, and Big Pharma’s solutions to sexual dysfunction. Greed, sex and intoxication. The tools used to sell these products? Women. Especially scantily clad women. Married people, the flesh parade is an assault on your marriage. Your Christianity doesn’t exempt you. There are stats out there that declare this flesh-lust fest is devouring Christian marriages. I don’t like to think about how many men sit in church hiding their secret sin of pornography addiction. A word to wise men: get off the couch. Get your real tools in the garage and fix something for your wife.

So what are godly young women to do?

As believers in Jesus Christ, what do we say to our daughters when they choose their clothing? Is it a sin to have a beautiful body and show it? Should everything be covered? Should she wear a box over her body? Continue reading

Purging and Pursuing Wisdom in Blogging With Humility

Divorce agreement - approvedJanuary is a great month to purge.  Purge closets. Purge drawers. Purge the papers under the bed. That’s where I keep my divorce papers. For legal purposes, those will have to stay. But I still have drawers full of journals. Interspersed with joyful reflections on homemaking and childrearing are lamentations over a failing marriage. Trying to purge, but how do I skim off the fat (broken marriage and betrayal) and keep the healthy minerals (memories of motherhood)?  It should be as easy as soup. But the skimming process forces me to read them. To shred or not to shred. That is the question. Yet I must purge. I sure could use the drawer space for more fuzzy sox.

So I’ve been caught up in this for several days. It plunged me into melancholy. I started rehashing stuff in my mind. I’m grieving again, with Natalie Merchant moaning in the background. It doesn’t help that this month marks the 10th Anniversary of my divorce being final.

I failed to heed wisdom I wrote about before in my post The Second Time Around: Yours, Mine and Ours, Yes!don’t look back. The holidays always cause nostalgia to flare up, so I need to cut myself some slack. There’s nothing wrong with remembering precious moments with my children. But to relive the death of a marriage is for naught. I will skim through my journal pages with a discriminating eye. I will treasure the good and destroy the evil.

Though this blog says ‘divorced’, I don’t want to focus on that. The title remains as is, but only so I can help others, perhaps, heal from divorce. I will never bash my ex or rehash. I’d like to emphasize marriage – having a God-glorifying one at that.

Maybe I should have made two posts out of this one, but I think it will be okay to segue into: Continue reading