Friday, July 10, 2020

A Wedding Is a Welding



(I re-post this periodically.) 

Marriage is different, in essence, from co-habiting. Marriage requires more than just living together.

What is marriage?

In Matthew 19:1-9 we see large crowds of people coming to Jesus, and Jesus healing them. After this happens “some Pharisees came to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’”

This was one of the most controversial questions of that time. It refers to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, where we read that a husband can divorce his wife if he finds “something indecent about her.” The debate was – what does “something indecent” mean?

There were two schools of thought about that. The school of the rabbi Shammai said, “something indecent” means "adultery." The school of the rabbi Hillel taught that “something indecent” means anything, even something so trivial as burning your husband’s bagel. “So, what do you think about this,” the Pharisees asked Jesus? Jesus’ response is brilliant. Instead of dealing with Deuteronomy 24 he takes them back to Genesis 1 & 2.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." A very cool response by Jesus. Why?

Because Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is about troubleshooting. Genesis 1 & 2 is the heart of the owner’s manual. Yes, there is a time for troubleshooting. But Jesus asks, don’t you remember what "marriage" really is? It’s male and female, united in marriage, becoming one flesh, whom God has “joined together.”

It’s this “joined together” thing that’s especially important. The word means, literally, “welded together.” New Testament scholar R.T. France says, “It would be hard to imagine a more powerful metaphor of permanent attachment.” A wedding is a welding, done by God the Master Welder.

I asked a friend who welds to give me a definition of welding. Welding, he said, is a fabrication process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. “Coalescence” is the process by which two or more droplets of metal form a single droplet and become one continuous solid. No wonder they call it “wedlock!”

Jesus is saying to the Pharisees, “Don’t you remember what God said about a husband and wife? God has weld-locked them together. Don’t let any person try to separate them!"

Instead of saying he’s for or against divorce, Jesus lifts up marriage. The Pharisees seem to have thought that the very legislation about divorce, within the law of Moses, meant that Moses was quite happy for it to take place. Since there's a law to tell you how to do it, that must mean it's OK to do. That would be like seeing a sign that says “In case there’s a fire, take this emergency exit,” and then concluding “It must be OK to start a fire in this building.”

Jesus shows the flaw in their thinking by pointing back to God's original intention. Marriage was meant to be a partnership of one man and one woman... for life. Marriage was not meant to be something that could be split up and reassembled whenever one person wanted to end it.

This summer it will be 46 years ago that Linda and I got welded, wed-locked, together. The result is that a lot of her has gotten into me and a lot of me has gotten into her. I am deeply influenced by her, and her by me. God fused us together into “one flesh.” What a great idea! You can’t get that by cohabiting.

I remember the bond.

I remember when God welded us together.

***
My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...


Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

I co-edited, with Janice Trigg, Encounters with the Holy Spirit

Then, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Healing For Damaged Relationships

Image result for john piippo transformation
(Green Lake, Wisconsin)

Years ago a family came to us for help. Their situation was dire. The family members had hurt one another. The damage seemed irreparable.

And complicated. 

A twisted, tangled, thorny mess held this family captive. They had no hope for healing the broken relationships. This family was fragmented by a series of sinful choices. Some were heard saying, "We will never be a family again."

This is how things often appear from the inside. We've done damage, and been damaged, and nothing can fix us. No amount of money can buy what we need. No material thing can assuage our pain. No substance can cover over the scars.

I remember saying to one of the family members, "It seems there is no way out. That's what the enemy wants you to think. But actually, the way out is simple to understand." It's this.

1. Turn again to Jesus. (Read this, and this,)
2. Be accountable for your own failures. (Read this.)
3. Confess your sins to one another. 
4. Forgive one another. (Read this, or this, or this, or this.)
5. Get additional outside help with the healing process. (In the SE Michigan area go here, or here.)  

The goal is reconciliation and restoration of relationship. With the courage and humility to do 1-5, and with God's help, this family can come together again.

***
My two books are:


Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

I'm working on:

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The Nature of a Proud Person

(Monroe sunset)


James 4:6 says:

God is opposed to the proud,
but gives grace to the humble. 

Who, then, would ever want to be proud? Only a fool.

Bernard of Clairvaux had some things to say about the proud person. From the 12th century, Bernard wrote:


"The proud person must either talk or burst . . . He hungers and thirsts after hearers, to whom he may vaunt his vanities, to whom he may pour forth all his feelings, to whom his character and greatness may become known . . . Opinions fly around, weighty words resound. He interrupts a questioner, he answers one who does not ask. He himself puts the questions, he himself solves them, he cuts short his fellow speaker’s unfinished words . . . He does not care to teach you, or to learn from you what he does not know, but to know that you know that he knows."
- Bernard of Clairvaux, The Steps of Humility, p. 204

For all who desire God's presence with them, avoid this. 


Sunday, July 05, 2020

31 DECLARATIONS that DEFEAT FEAR


31 DECLARATIONS that Defeat Fear

1.    I KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH ME

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

2.    TRUST IS MY VACCINE FOR FEAR

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

3.    I SHARE MY FEARS WITH GOD, AND EXPERIENCE HIS TRANSCENDENT PEACE

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

4.    I HAVE THE PEACE OF CHRIST

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

5.    I HAVE POWER OVER ANY SPIRIT OF FEAR

 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

6.    GOD’S LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR THAT IS IN ME

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

7.    GOD CONSOLES MY SOUL AND BRINGS ME JOY

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19

8.    I REMEMBER HOW GOD HAS REDEEMED ME, AND THIS GIVES ME HOPE

“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

9.    I MINISTER TO FEARFUL PEOPLE WITH GOD’S LOVE AND KINDNESS

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

10.                  I KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH ME, AND FEEL HIS COMFORT

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

11.                  I KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH ME WHEREVER I AM. THUS, I AM NOT DISCOURAGED

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

13.                  HUMILITY COMBATS AGAINST FEAR. I LEAVE MY FEARS WITH GOD

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

14.                  GOD HAS RESCUED ME MANY TIMES. SO, I KNOW GOD IS MY RESCUER.

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4

15.                  I DO NOT DEPEND ON THE SO-CALLED “WISDOM” OF SECULAR AND SOCIAL MEDIA. MY TRUST IS IN GOD.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:22-26

16.                  THE MORE I TRUST IN GOD, THE LESS FEARFUL I AM

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

17.                  I CAST MY FEARS ON THE LORD, AND EXPERIENCE HIM SUSTAINING ME

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

18.                  THE PRESENCE OF JESUS WITH ME DISPELS FEAR, AND GIVES ME COURAGE

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'” Mark 6:50

  
19.                  “GOD IS WITH ME AND WILL NEVER LEAVE ME” – THIS PRODUCES FEARLESSNESS IN ME

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

20.                  “GOD IS MY HELPER” – THIS REDUCES FEAR IN ME

“'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14

21.                  IN GOD’S PRESENCE, I FIND STRENGTH WHEN TROUBLE IS NEAR

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

22.                  BECAUSE GOD IS WITH ME, I AM NOT INTIMIDATED BY PEOPLE

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7

23.                  I PLACE MY TRUST IN GOD, AND HE REMOVES THE FEAR OF MAN

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

24.                  I AM A TEMPLE FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT. FAITH AND FEAR CANNOT COEXIST IN THIS TEMPLE

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:39-40


25.                  THE FEAR OF THE LORD INVITES ANGELIC ACTIVITY THAT SURROUNDS ME

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7


26.                  I CAN BE WITHOUT FEAR, EVEN WHEN PERSECUTED

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” 1 Peter 3:14

27.                  AS I PRAY TO BE RELEASED FROM FEAR, I EXPERIENCE FREEDOM FROM FEAR

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

28.                  THE LORD IS FIGHTING MY BATTLES

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

29.                  GOD OFTEN SPEAKS TO ME, “DO NOT BE AFRAID”

“Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.'” Revelation 1:17

30.                  MY BELIEF IN JESUS EXTINGUISHES FEAR

“Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” Mark 5:36

31.                  FEAR AND WORRY CANNOT SEPARATE ME FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39

Why Racism is Wrong

Image result for john piippo evil
(Battling evil in Monroe)
Racism is evil. That is agreed on.

But on what basis? Here is where God-believers have an advantage over atheists. An atheist can find no warrant for her belief that some things are objectively evil, such as racism. 

The intellectual atheist believes in objective evil. This belief forms a premise in the atheist's evidential argument against the existence of God.

What, in the philosophical discussion, is meant by "evil?" Evil is "pointless suffering," or "gratuitous suffering." Gratuitous suffering is suffering that is not needed to either bring about a greater good, or prevent an equal or greater evil from happening. If there was a God, the atheist reasons, there could be no pointless suffering.

Here is the argument.

1. Evil exists. (Pointless suffering exists.)
2. If evil exists, then an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God does not exist.
2. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God does not exist.

Why not? Because such a God would not allow gratuitous suffering; i.e., suffering that has no point to it. Such as racism. Such as looting, too.

To make this argument work, a moral statement must be objectively true. That is, Racism is wrong must be true for all people, independently of what people feel or think.

But atheism can provide no warrant for such a claim.

Theism can, and does.

It is epistemically incoherent to raise signs saying Racism is wrong (anywhere, any time) if moral truths are only subjective preferences, for me perhaps, but not for you.

***


Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (a book I co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I''m now giving attention to Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Followed by... Technology and Spiritual Formation

Then, Linda and I will co-write our book on Relationships.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

I'll be One of the Teachers in RENEWAL SCHOOL OF MINISTRY



If you are looking for a Ministry School that provides excellence in teacing, high academic standards, and decades of experience with the Holy Spirit and His manifestations, then Renewal School of Ministry is for you.

I am thankful to be one of RSM's teachers. I'm proud of my HSRM colleagues who join me in this new Spirit-led discipling opportunity. 

Why are we creating Renewal School of Ministry? Not to make money - all of us are teaching for free! God has led us to give away as much as we can. We're interested in serious disciple-making. God has given all of us much to give.

 Jesus came, not to make "deciders," but "disciples."

If that is you, then I think RSM will elevate the level of your discipleship, strengthen your walk with Jesus, and empower you to be a Holy Spirit-led world-changer.

COMING THIS SEPTEMBER!

Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries (HSRM) is very excited to announce the upcoming online Renewal School of Ministry, beginning in mid-September!

We’re inviting you to participate in this unique opportunity to learn and grow spiritually and to become better equipped for the ministry God is calling you to.

·       This September we start with two back-to-back six week terms, four courses each term, featuring such topics as... 

The Holy Spirit & the Spirit-filled Life, 

How God Changes the Human Heart, 

Theology 1 & 2, 

Healing Ministry, 

Worship Symposium, 

and Christian Worldview.

·       In addition to the 6-week courses, we will also provide specialized online seminars and conference experiences for credits toward certification.

·       Classes will be held on weekdays and Sunday evenings at 8PM (ET) and on Saturdays (time tbd)!

·       The cost to participate in RSOM is so low, it’s crazy! You’ll be charged a fee of $10 per course, or a maximum of $25 for all courses taught per six-week term.

·       More detailed information will be available on our website soon - hsrm.org

If you are interested in becoming a student at RSOM, contact Clayton Ford via email at claytonford@sbcglobal.net.

I am looking forward to teaching in Renewal School of Ministry this fall!