2016 Summary

December 27, 2016

“Conservatism is not the Gospel. Liberalism is not the Gospel. Patriotism is not the Gospel. Only the Gospel is the Gospel.”- Randy Alcorn
Feels especially relevant to America in 2016.

15th Century Poem

December 12, 2016

A god and yet a man?

A maid and yet a mother?

Wit wonders what wit can

Conceive this or the other. 
A god and can he die?

A dead man, can he live?

What wit can well reply?

What reason reason give?
God, truth itself, doth teach it. 

Man’s wit sinks too far under

By reason’s power to reach it. 

Believe and (cease) to wonder. 

Marriage a Gift

December 7, 2016

Article by Liz Wann
All my girlfriends were in a desperate frenzy to find a husband, and I was the fish swimming against the current. I gave a resounding “yes” to Paul when he said, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7).
But my upstream swim was due to a dark cloud of fear blocking my vision. I was afraid of marriage. I was afraid of getting hurt.
Though I wanted to remain single (sometimes selfishly), God kept putting marriage on my heart. I sensed he wanted to give me a gift, but in my heart I kept resisting him. To me, marriage looked mostly bleak and dark. I didn’t want to be put in a vulnerable position, because I wanted a life without personal pain and heartache.
Then I met my future husband.
As I confronted my fears in our dating relationship, I kept walking ahead with faith in my Father. God gave me peace to trust him on that path, and the end result was marriage.
Is Marriage Really a Gift?
But a few years into marriage, I began to question again whether it was truly a gift. Aren’t gifts supposed to make you feel good? There is typically pleasure and happiness in giving and receiving gifts.
Marriage doesn’t always feel like this type of gift, because at times it does not make us happy. Marriage is hard. We humans tend to have a shallow view of the word “gift” against the higher definition and purpose God has in mind. When God gives gifts, his number one aim is not our felt sense of happiness.
I wrongly viewed the gift of marriage through the cultural lenses of romanticism and sentimentality. My perspective of gifts in marriage looked like a dozen red roses, romantic lakeside picnics, balloons, and teddy bears. Paul Miller, in his book A Loving Life, compares this romanticized view of marriage to Disney:
The promise — marriage happily ever after — dominates the popular mind of our age. It is a good but unrealistic dream. When God is removed from the dream, the story turns out badly. Christianity without Jesus just doesn’t work. The Disney dream raises unrealistic expectations and then dashes them on the rocks of human frailty.

Like Miller says, the dream is good; it just needs some tweaking. Romance and sentimentality are a special part of marriage, and gifts we can delight in, but God is taking us somewhere deeper when he tells us marriage is a gift. He wants us to put on his glasses of grace: the glasses of his purposes for his glory and our good.
When God is added back into the dream, our vision for marriage suddenly becomes more clear. The gift he gives us surpasses the gift we wanted, and becomes a true treasure.
Gift from God for Others
When Paul describes marriage as a “gift” in 1 Corinthians 7:7, he puts the focus off of ourselves, and our small Disneyworld dreams for our marriages, and puts the focus on God and on others. Paul is telling us that marriage is a gift of his grace to us whereby we are empowered by the Spirit to take part in the advancement of his kingdom — for his glory, and to serve the good of others.
Marriage is about God and others. Marriage is about fulfilling God’s kingdom purposes on earth and advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a spiritual gift designed to grant grace to us, to our spouse, and to the body of Christ.