From this passage on divorce, we find vital principles for a healthy marriage.

Mark 10 1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  10And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11And he said to them,  “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Four principles for a healthy enduring marriage can be drawn from this passage dealing with divorce.  If these things are practiced, it seems such a marriage will be made divorce-proof.

1.  Men, step up and be a loving leader in your marriage.  It’s been said, “If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy.”  That may be true.  But even more so is this, “If daddy aint happy, aint nobody happy.”  A man sets the atmosphere of his home.

Note the emphasis on men in this foundational verse on marriage:  “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.”  The man establishes the new home.  The man holds his wife close.

Simply stated, God calls men to lead.  Their influence (or lack thereof) will affect a home greatly.  When a man leads a marriage in a loving, Christ-like way, good things tend to follow.

So men, treasure you wives.  Serve them.  Love them.  Lead them.   Guide them.    Help them and be helped by them.

Notice the great contrast between the Pharisees’ words and Jesus’ words.  The Pharisees use the phrase, “Send her away.”  Jesus uses the phrase “Hold her fast.”  Go with Jesus’ way. 

2.  Beware the hardening of heart in your marriage.  Jesus identified hardness of heart as the root problem of all failed marriages.  It’s sclerosis of the heart, literally scleriocardia in the Greek.  Men and women become cold and hard hearted toward one another (or one toward the other). 

Such little things can lead to hardness of heart.  He said he’d be home from the meeting at 8pm.  8pm comes and goes.  9pm comes and goes. 10pm comes and her heart is angry and she just goes to bed.  She swallows her frustration.  Or, a man comes home a finds the house not in the order he desires.  His heart gets irritated.  He internalizes it. 

If your heart keeps absorbing these kinds of things, soon it will get hard. 

Keep your heart filled with love.  Always view one another through the kind and sympathetic eyes of love.  Don’t let bitterness fester.  Don’t let your affection to go dim.  Rekindle that love and tenderness of heart throughout marriage.

Take Hebrews 3:12-13 very seriously.

3.  Keep in view God’s all time blueprint for your marriage.   “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

This profound sentence is found first in Genesis 2:24, then in the Gospels (Mark 10 & Matthew 19), and then again in Ephesians 5.  It is God’s all time plan for marriage.  Notice it was established in the garden prior to sin and the curse.  Then it was reaffirmed by Christ as God’s plan during the age prior to the outpouring of his Spirit.  Then it was re-taught again by Paul in the post-Pentecost age when the Spirit indwells and empowers believers.

Leave, cleave and become one.  God’s all time blueprint for marriage, in the language of Wayne Mack.  God keeps it in our view througout Scripture.  There are treasures of wisdom and practical help in that phrase.  It’s all about the priority of marriage, the permanence of marriage and the unity of marriage. 

4.  Deny yourself and be a servant in your marriage.   All through Mark 8-10, Jesus emphasizes the key Kingdom principle: whoever will be great must be the servant of all.  The great ones are the deacons, the servants, the “table waiters.”  It’s all about helping in practical tangible ways. 

Your home gives you a great opportunity to live out Christian discipleship.  The heart of Christian discipleship is to be a servant of all.  This should begin with your spouse. 

You must be the deacons of all, lovingly attending to all those God places in your life.  This starts with those who are in your own household.  If you are going to be a great in the Kingdom, if you are going to be a disciple, you must order yourself last and be a servant.  Start with those living under your roof, and the especially the one sleeping in your bed with you.

~Jeff

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Simple, very practical and profound counsel from David Powlison. Read it here.

~Donovan

I’ve mentioned Vodie Baucham on this blog before… he’s always great food for thought, always presents his views unashamedly, and though you probably won’t always agree (and might find your feathers a tad ruffled here and there), he’s bound to challenge and convict you, and sharpen your thinking. 

His new book, “What He Must Be… If He Wants To Marry My Daughter” was already on my “to read” list. After reading a review of it this morning, I’m looking forward to it all the more. I’m anticipating finding it a phenomenal tool both for parents striving to prepare their sons for manhood and/ or striving to help their daughters develop a clear portrait of what really matters in their choice of life partner, and a very helpful read for young men and women as they prepare for life and the prospect of marriage as well… 

To read the review I just read (by Frank Turk, of the “Pyromaniacs” blog), click here. This man is not easily impressed, but he’s very enthusiastic about this book. Here are a few blurbs from his review:

“… get into this book and grab a robust view of the role of a husband and a father — both from the perspective of what you personally ought to be in your family, and what you ought to seek out in and mentor into young men who think they want something to do with young women, especially the young women in your family.”

“This is a book about reclaiming the role of men in our families, our churches and our society — and I say, “Lay it on, my friend!””

“… it is a deeply pastoral book — seeking to make disciples of men, to be doers of the word and not just hearers only. Read this book, and then read it again, and then tear out the chapters and make little booklets of them so you can share them in small groups, and then start teaching this stuff to your sons so they can be this kind of men. And then teach it to your daughters so they kind find these kind of men.”

“This book is worth every penny, and you will read it more than once.”

~Donovan

newsweek1Justin Taylor writes, “Here’s the tease for Lisa Miller’s new Newsweek cover story on The Religious Case for Gay Marriage: “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”” I encourage you to read the rest of Justin’s blog post (which links to other responses to the Newsweek article and includes a video on the subject). Read it here. Al Mohler’s comments on the supposedly biblical arguments employed in the article are helpful too. Read them here.

~Donovan

Erin Skifter (Lance’s wife) read this list at her father, Glen Jackson’s memorial service. Her testimony to her father’s genuine, day-in, day-out godliness is beautiful, and I trust it will be encouraging to you all:

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This is a great sermon archive!

Speakers include CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Wayne Grudem, Josh Harris, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, John Piper, and Bruce Ware (amongst other great speakers) (search by speaker from the menu on the left of the page).

Topics include marriage, worship, “business to the glory of God”, “sanctifying the ordinary”, “suffering and sovereignty”, etc. The messages from the Together for the Gospel conferences are available here too.

To see the archive/ access these sermons, click here.

Money-saving tips

May 9, 2008

In Titus 2 we are told that younger men and women should learn from older men and women… As we prepare for marriage, Heather and I have been looking to learn from godly people with more life experience and more wisdom than us. Lisa Smeaton has put a lot of time into thinking through how to save money and be a good steward of it. These are the money-saving tips she passed on to Heather recently (which, quite evidently, would have taken us a whole lot longer to learn if we’d tried to figure them all out ourselves!):

 

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I wrote about the first chapter of “Love That Lasts” last week. In this excellent book the authors give this counsel that struck me as very wise: 

“Ladies, this is Betsy. If your husband begins to demonstrate biblical love after a long season of neglect, be patient and receive his love thankfully. Please don’t think, Oh, he’s only doing that because it said to in the book. He doesn’t really mean it. It may feel that way for a while, but he needs to start somewhere. He is trying, perhaps for the first time, to love you as God intends. God’s call to you is not to read this book and then judge his progress but to give yourself to God’s will for you.

Guys, Gary here. The first steps to restoring or rejuvenating a drifting marriage can be very awkward. It’s difficult to admit, “You know, I’ve never said this to you before, but in my heart I really want God’s glory and your best in our marriage. I haven’t done a good job at pursuing this, but I want to. I don’t exactly know how yet, but please be patient with me as I try.” Just this sort of simple statement is a great next step.”

I’ve seen people try to bring about change in their marriage only to have their spouse refuse to give them a chance. While I understand this in light of all the pain and “baggage” that can exist in a marriage, it saddens me because it discourages the one trying at the very least, and completely short-circuits change at worst. I think the authors were very wise to not just talk about “being an excellent spouse”, but to recognize that this is far harder to do when there’s pain and “baggage” to be addressed and worked through. I’m not yet married and I don’t presume to be any marriage expert, but based on God’s Word, I encourage you in these things:

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True Greatness, part 1

February 16, 2008

The longer I walk with Christ, the more and more I realize that true greatness is found in little, every-day things – things many people would never see. I think true greatness is seen in the home as much as it is seen anywhere… Your spouse and kids see you day-in and day-out. They know if you’re consistant. They know how you respond when tired, stretched, or squeezed. They know what you put effort towards and what you neglect. They know how you die or don’t die to yourself for the sake of others in every-day life… As a result, I’m all the more encouraged when one’s spouse or children speak highly of their walk with Christ. 

I’ll probably write more on this another time. For now, with Valentine’s Day just a couple days ago, I’ll stick with a couple things I’ve heard wives say about their husbands – things that I think point to true greatness:

I was in a home last year, talking with a wife and mother. Her husband works many hours, is very involved in his church, coaches his kids sports teams, and is just just very busy all-round.  A newspaper was on the kitchen table. She pointed this comic strip out to me and said, “That’s my husband!” (Click on the strip for a larger image) 

baby_blues.gif

Beautiful, isn’t it?! It takes exemplary love and faithfulness to all God has called you to to come home after a very long and hard day and be “all there” – being purposeful about cherishing your wife, loving her and being there for her. I think consistancy in this is very rare, and I think it’s a mark of true greatness.

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That is the sub-title to “Love That Lasts” by Gary and Betsy Ricucci,  one of several books Heather and I are reading in preparation for marriage. We’ve only read one chapter so far, but it’s absolutely blessed our socks off!! : )

I’d like to share a few highlights with you from the first chapter of this wonderfully God-Scripture-gospel-and-grace-centered book:  

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