What if I Told You Life is not About Being Married?

After Glow Fort Desot

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9 NKJV

I talk to people right along, and I am sure you do too, who are very lonely, isolated and feeling unfulfilled in their marriages. You might think such experiences would make me feel validated in my singleness but they don’t. Jesus validates me, without comparing me to others. Jesus wants married people to be just as happy as single people, and so do I. But what if I told you marriage was never designed to bring fulfillment? What if I told you marriage is not the goal in life? What if I told you, rather than making you fulfilled, marriage was designed to point you to the God who brings fulfillment? What if I told you marriage only points you to the real goal in life, which is the marriage of Christ to His church at the second coming?

I believe that is the point Jesus was making In Matthew 22. Some rulers tried to trick Jesus by asking him about marriage in heaven. Jesus said there would be no marriage in heaven. Why? I suppose because everything marriage ever pointed to will be fulfilled. Christ and His church will be married.

But wasn’t marriage the goal when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone?”  I believe God was implying something vastly greater than marriage. He was implying a community for Adam. Of course by nature and design that had to start with Eve and marriage. But marriage was a means to the goal which was a greater community. When people tell me that they can worship God at home and don’t need to go to church, I tell them God disagrees. Adam had God when God said Adam should not be alone. Obviously even God recognized He was not enough for Adam. Adam needed community and so do we. That is why we should not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”

Marriage is not the goal for intimacy or the cure for loneliness.  As a matter of fact we miss out on many forms of companionship and intimacy by believing marriage is the goal in life that brings fulfillment. When David’s best friend Johnathon died, David cried,

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women. 2 Samuel 1:26 NKJV

Now we know from all of David’s wives and concubines, including his escapade with Bathsheba, that David was very much heterosexual. So what did he mean by saying his love for Jonathan surpassed his love for women? He meant there was a level of intimacy with Jonathan that went deeper than sex and romance. David’s love for Jonathan was deep and intimate but had absolutely nothing to do with sex. It’s sad that we live in a world that thinks sex and romance is the only kind of love there is. We see it in all the love songs we hear on the radio. Very seldom do we hear a love song about anything other than a sexual relationship. The idea that sex and marriage is the only kind of love there is places undo stress on the marriage relationship, expecting it to meet and fulfill our needs that God and community were meant to fulfill. It also makes us miss out on all the other loves and meaningful relationships that are meant to fill our lives.

The idea that life is all about being married and is the goal in life is an unhealthy idea for both married people as well as singles. It makes a god out of your spouse by expecting your spouse to meet all of your needs and fulfill you. Philippians 4:19 says God supplies all of our needs, not a spouse. God supplies all of our needs regardless if we are married or single. God’s love is too great to be experienced by sex and marriage alone. Marriage is too small to teach us everything about God’s love. It takes community.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Rebukes

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.. Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT

When I was about 9 or so I was playing soccer (futball) with my neighbor. An argument broke out about what the out of bounds markers were. It must have gotten a little out of hand, because my neighbor’s father came over and started lecturing us about sportsmanship. He was quite stern. So stern, I started thinking to myself, he’s not my dad! He can’t talk to me like that! Who does he think he is?

Later I read where Jesus said in Revelation 3:19 NLT

I correct and discipline everyone I love.

I realized how my neighbor’s father always made me feel like family. I was always over at their house watching soccer games together on TV. They took me to the lake and to the park. I was family! I realized my friend’s dad had a right to rebuke and lecture me because he cared about me!

They say rules without relationship leads to rebellion. Having rules and relationships make us feel loved and wanted. Years ago I went with the church youth group leader and the youth to a baseball game. The game went into extra innings. This was just before everyone and their dog had a cell phone, so I had the teens use the pay phones to call and let their parents know the game was going into extra innings and we would be back later. After several kids completed their calls, a girl called her mother. She hung up, and looked at the rest of the group with disappointment and hurt. It wasn’t that her mom was upset her daughter would be home late. The girl said, “My mom just chewed me out for waking her up.” The other kids looked at each other puzzled. Who chews their kid out for offering accountability? 

While none of the kids were rebuked or disciplined for the game going into extra innings, they were still offering accountability and recognizing boundaries in their relationship with their parents. I think the girl who got chewed out for waking her mother up, would rather have been rebuked for being out too late. At least then she would have known her mother cared!

With loving relationships comes rules, boundaries and accountability, which make us feel safe, secure and loved.

You may study this week’s lesson on Proverbs here.

Glimpses of Our God; Love Stories

I am writing today from the beautiful Lake Placid Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This week I have been holding revival meetings at the Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist Church. I love this place! The people are spectacular. Very warm and friendly, and very much interested in learning more about the cross and the love of Jesus. The meetings were designed to be a revival for the church, but anytime a church has a revival it also becomes more fruitful and evangelic. As well as the church members coming for a week of spiritual emphasis, they have also been bringing their friends, and we will be having two baptisms this Sabbath!

I have not written any new material for this week’s Sabbath school lesson, so since this week’s topic is on “love stories” I would like to share a previous post that I wrote a while back on what romance means to me.  Thank you for keeping our meetings in your prayers!

1 John; Relationships

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You know how we always say, “You can’t share what you don’t have?” Well John actually had a real relationship with Jesus, and in 1 John he shares it. He has some powerful stuff to help us in our relationship with Jesus.  “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

One of the first things John shares is the forgiveness of Jesus. Not only had John been forgiven a lot, but he also saw Jesus forgive a lot. He saw him forgive Peter, He was at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother, when Jesus cried out “Father forgive them.” He witnessed firsthand the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is very important to relationships.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.  1 John 2:1-2

“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How he fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, he does not turn from us, and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not like our Saviour. Christ prays for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, he knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of his Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks upon him, grasps him as the one who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. Unto Christ is committed all power in heaven and in earth, and all things are possible to him that believeth. Christ’s glory is concerned in our success. He has a common interest with all humanity. He is our sympathizing Saviour.  {Review and Herald, September 1, 1891 par. 2} 

While John also knew the power of forgiveness, he also knew how important faithfulness is to a relationship with Christ. “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

John also knew what was possible for us when we are in a relationship with Jesus.

 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  1 John 2:6

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  1 John 3:1-3

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  1 John 3:9

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  1 John 4:17

Are you grasping the power and what is possible here? As He is so are we, not after we get to heaven, but in this world!

We love him, because he first loved us.  1 John 4:19 Here John tells us what His relationship with Christ is all about. “  It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.”  {Desire of Ages, p. 480}

Where does this relationship built on love lead to? “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”  1 John 5:13

Jesus Wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 4

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may download the weekly adult SS lesson to your android phone here.

 I am no David Letterman, but suddenly I am in the mood to write top ten lists. In conjunction with this week’s SS lesson, here it is:

Top Ten Tips for Relationships

10. Don’t let Satan sabotage your relationships. A few months ago, during a church social, I was visiting with a teenager I previously studied with, before they were baptized. We were talking about having friends, and relationships. I told them,  sometimes I feel like I care more about my friends and family than they care about me. They replied, “I do too!” Then they paused and said, “You know, I bet that is just Satan wanting everyone to feel that way.” It’s good to know my young friend is already onto Satan and his lies.

9. Friends come first. I admire cultures that put friends before things. In some cultures, being late for an appointment is totally justifiable if visiting with a friend made you late. In the United States, we let time and appointments rule our lives, while in most of the rest of the Americas, time is subordinate to people. In Texas, I had some friends from Mexico, who would throw all their plans and appointments for the day out the window, when company stopped by unexpectedly. They were happy to do this. I love a culture that ranks people as their number one resource.  If I have a friend call and ask me to hang out with them, I gladly forget the game I was getting ready to watch, and go hang out with them. Friends come first.

8. Do not be easily annoyed. If your friends do things that annoy you, guess what? You probably do things that annoy them too. Your friends can criticize you as easily as you can criticize them, if that’s really how you want to spend your life. Some people annoy us, because they are so desperate for our attention. For example, let’s say you and I walk into an Olive Garden and they tell us it will be a 30 minute wait for a table. You and I can calmly sit there and relax while we wait on a table. Now, if a man walked into the Olive Garden who had not eaten for  a week, no way would he be able to causally sit and wait 30 minutes for a table. He would be making a fool of himself trying to get some breadsticks or whatever he could get his hands on. Some people make fools of themselves when they are starved for attention. Put yourself in their shoes and give them some attention. I am not saying reward bad behavior, but look past people’s faults and see their needs.

7. With very seldom exceptions, never write off a friend. We are all human. The field goal kicker who missed the extra point last week, will kick the 50 yard game winning field goal this week. You get my point. The friend who let you down yesterday may be the one who saves your neck tomorrow, and the friend who saved your neck yesterday may not be there for you today. Sure there may be times you may need a little space from each other. Life is a football game. Your friends are the players and you are the coach. Sure, you can sit your friends on the bench for a while, but don’t kick them off the team. Know what I mean?

6. Communicate. People ask me what my favorite music and T.V. shows are, but fact is, I would much rather sit and visit than watch shows. I find people more fascinating than T.V. I can watch a movie when I am alone. If I am with people then I want to talk. Oh…..and listen to them talk too!

5. Don’t just hear. Listen. Several years ago in Texas, I had a lady Bible student who was enduring a lot of stress at work. She would leave work and meet me at the church for our Bible studies. She would go on and on about her work problems before I would steer the discussion towards the Bible study. One day, I decided when she came in, I was just going to listen and not say anything until she quit talking. Two hours later, when she stopped, I had prayer and we went home. No Bible study, but she got to talk while I listened.

4.   Always be honest and always be polite. This is especially true in organizations, including the church. Over the years I have sat on several different boards. Sometimes I have encountered people who were afraid to speak out because they did not feel influential or powerful. Some people feel other people get their way because they have more money. Well, no matter how rich or poor you are, you always need to speak you mind, and no matter how rich or poor you are, you need to be nice when you do.

3. Don’t tell your friends what their motives are. You can tell your friends when you do not feel their actions were appropriate or even unacceptable, but do not tell them what their motives were. After the Haitii earthquake, President Obama allowed illegal Haiti immigrants to stay in the U.S. for a while without being deported. Immediately Republicans started questioning his motives and accusing him of having selfish reasons for doing what he did. So what is Obama suppose to do in that situation? Do the wrong thing so people won’t accuse him of having selfish motives for doing the right thing? In that situation, all he could do was the right thing, and as long as he was doing the right thing the motives were irrelevant at that point. The Republicans showed their true colors by being more concerned about the President’s motives rather being concerned about the people of Hatti. I am a Republican by the way.  We already make poor judges of other people’s actions, and we have no clue when it comes to judging motives.

2. Be conservative towards yourself and liberal towards others. Hold yourself to the higher standard while cutting all those around you a little slack. This is what Jesus did. In the Garden of Gethsemane He asked His disciples to pray with Him. They fell asleep on Him, and while He continued to pray, He excused their weakness by saying, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Replace the word, “love” with your own name, and then ask God to work in you, so that those verses will still make sense.

It’s Valentine’s Day and I am in a Relationship!

A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

  

Today is Valentines Day. (Dude! I so hope I am not the first one to tell you this just now.) This is the day that husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends all get gifts and flowers for each other and go out and spend quiet romantic evenings together while the rest of us are just glad we are not “in a relationship” so we can save all that flower and romantic evening money and spend it on golf or whatever we want.

  

However this Valentines Day I too am in a relationship. Um, several actually. Let me share with you.

  

First I am in a relationship with Jesus. It has been going great for me but not too sure about Him. I mean He has done so much for me and I have done so little for Him. Our relationship has survived decades now simply because He is so accepting and forgiving.  While I often make mistakes, He will do something wonderful in my life and make it look like it was me doing it but actually it was Him. Actually He is the only good thing going on in my life. Because of Him there has never been a day of my life that I have not been loved. He actually loves me to death-literally! I love Him more each and every day as I read His letters and see His love in nature.  

  

I am also in a relationship with my family. We stay so close it is hard to believe how far apart we all live. We are always there for each other. I am proud of my parents. They are known for their integrity and willingness to help others. They know what it means to sacrifice for others and for me. My sister and her family have sacrificed for me too. I am very proud of them too. They all love me and just like Jesus my relationship with my family has endured decades just because they are so accepting and forgiving.

  

I have been in a relationship for sometime with all friends. I would like to mention names but don’t want to hurt anyone by leaving them out. So let me put it this way. Thanks to the friends who believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. Thanks to the friends who listen to me talk about myself all evening before it finally dawns on me that I made the evening all about me. Thanks to the friends who sent me money from Texas to fix my car even though I told them I had no clue when and if I could every pay them back. Thanks for meeting me on the side of the highway in the middle of the night when my car broke down. Thanks for never reminding me that you had to get up early the next morning to go to work. Thanks to my friends who spent their whole vacation helping me move from Texas to Florida. Thanks to my friends who tell me what I need to hear and not just what I want to hear. Thanks for inviting me to your homes for holidays and making me feel like family. Thanks for telling me to visit anytime and I don’t need to call. Thanks for forgetting all the stupid things I have done and said treating me like a king. My friendships have endured because my friends are so accepting and forgiving.

  

This Valentine’s Day I want to celebrate all the relationships I am in. I am thankful for each and every one. There are many important things to any kind of a relationship, but what I see in all my relationships from Jesus to my friends is their acceptance and forgiveness.

  So this Valentine’s Day if anyone asks, yes! I am in a relationship-many!