Monday, February 27, 2012

My marriage matters most

I arrived at Matthew 19:1-12 on Sunday and was challenged by Jesus' response to the Pharisees who inquired about divorce,.  They were trying to "test" Him, and to get Him trapped into saying something that would undermine the Mosaic law and thus diminish His Messianic claims.  Additionally, the prominent rabbinic schools had battled about the legitimate reasons for divorce and the school of Hillel had concluded a man could divorce his wife even if she "burned his breakfast" (my words).

Remember the Pharisees' question...divorce for "any and every reason?" (verse 3)

This was an obvious aberration of what God had in mind and Jesus points to the "beginning" and the familiar words of Genesis 2:24, repeated here, affirming the fact that "male and female" become "one flesh" and are "united" ("cleave", KJV) together, not to be ever separated.  this is God's design for marriage.

The "bill of divorcement" (our divorce decree) was granted because of men's "hardness of heart"--sinfulness, unwillingness to forgive, adulteress choices, etc.  It was a concession to protect the sanctity of the marriage covenant and to protect the innocent party who might otherwise be unfairly branded.  The porneia   concession--the "indecency" Deuteronomy 24--included more than adultery--enveloping things like incest, homosexuality, indecent exposure, etc.  Pornography could be a 21st century addition to what the word semantically includes.  I Corinthians 7 suggests that an unbeliever leaving a believer allows that unbeliever not to be "bound" by marriage, as well.

What I think Jesus was really doing in this passage was not so much speaking of divorce--though that is what the Pharisees wanted--but using this as a platform to affirm what marriage was to be, and what such relationships should look like within the kingdom.  This, obviously puzzling the disciples now reminded of God's intended permanency of marriage, prompted them to inquire if being single wasn't a better option. Verses 10-12 provide Jesus' clear answer to that with the obvious conclusion being that marriage is our clear privilege unless calls us specifically to something different.

Which causes me to affirm today--even though I experienced the pain of divorce almost twenty years ago--that my marriage matters most.  God has divinely provided me a partner for the rest of my life.  He has clearly promised me He will guard this relationship as I partner with Him, and He will preserve my marriage as I submit to the principles of His Word, which guide me in how to be a godly husband.

In the sphere of all other relationships and responsibilities, I have determined that this is what matters to me the most.

So help me God!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A word about blogging

I have two sites on which I blog weekly---or, at least, that's my intent.  If you're here, you know; I have another blog at  Both are accessible from my website,

I am, sharing this information because I am anxious to hear from you.  Many of you write me in other venues or see me and are kind in expressing your responses to what you have read.  But few use the blog site to respond.

Can you help me by answering a few questions  Some have said you can;t figure out how to post on the blog site so you can write me at

1.  D you read my blog?  If so, which one(s)?

2.  Is it hard to respond on my blog site?  Which one?  Do you know why?

3.  Have you tried to access my website? If so, was it easy to read my blog there?

Thanks for responding.  It will help me determine what problem I need to fix!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Humility...the forgotten virtue

My associate, Mark Johnson, shared a compelling message about the characteristics of a disciple that emerge from Matthew 18 following the disciples misplaced quesiton, "Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  Jesus ignores their question and  makes this telling statement, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven".

Undoubtedly, the disciples are embarassed that Jesus even knows they were having this discussion (Mark and Luke suggest this), but Jesus skillfully and perceptively directs their attention to the real issue--entrance into the kingdom and what are the expectations of its subjects.  He talks about change--"unless you are converted and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven".  And what is it about children to which he draws attention?  "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven". 

And there's the answer to the quesiton that began the conversation.  I'll bet it isn't the answer they expected.

Humility.  The humbleness of a child.  In Jesus' day children had no rights, no privileges, no real value except in their potential as heirs.  This is what Jesus identified as the virtue for particiupation in  His kingdom.  Humility in recognizing who we are without Him and what we can become with Him.

In thinking about our life as citizens in the kingdom of God, we would probably acknoweldge this virtue is the one we  lack most.  By nature, we are prone to self-sufficiency; it is the nature of sinful man.  We find ourselves clamoring for our rights, insisting on special privileges, and foolishly presuming that God needs us.  We aspire for the place of honor, the praise of others, the affirmation of our value. 

It is in us.  It is what we are.  It is how we live.

Without God.

Jesus set this principle in focus when He told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).  The daily recognition of who I am without God promotes within me an appropriate spirit of humility.  Recognizing the grace of God and His love for me in spite of my sinfulness accentuates how humbled I feel as His child. 

And Hischild I want to be.  A citizen of His kingdom.  A humble recipient of His grace.

I'll try not to forget that this is what "greatness" in God's sight is all about. Thanks, Mark.