A used car lot in our area has a car that says, “runs & drives perfctley” on one side and “perfectley” on the other side. Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder what else is wrong with the car. ;)
When my wife, Carol, and I were married in 1980, our goal was to be married longer than our parents. My parents were married 44 years when my father died of cancer in ’83. This fall, Carol’s parents will celebrate their 60th anniversary. We are fortunate to have godly models of commitment who set the bar high for us.
When I performed the wedding for my daughter and son-in-law in June, I explained that we can consult different sources to determine the role and responsibility of a husband and wife. We can turn to culture and see what the media or celebrities say about marriage. We can consider our capabilities, skills, and personality traits to answer the question. We can consult other Christians, pastors, and best-selling authors on the topic. Or we can turn to the commandments of Scripture to see what God says about marriage.
Going back to the book of Genesis, we discover that God’s plan for marriage is a simple formula—1+1=1; One man and one woman for life. Because God established marriage to be permanent, don’t un-one what God makes one. That is the message Jesus communicates in Mark 10:1-12.
On his journey from Capernaum to Jerusalem, Jesus passes through Perea (1). Some Pharisees show up trying to back Jesus into a corner (2). They ask a seemingly innocent question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Matthew 19:3 adds the phrase, “for any cause.”) However, they already knew Jesus’ answer because he addressed it previously in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:31-32).
Everyone agreed that that the Old Testament permitted divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4), that only the husband could initiate the event, and the right to remarry was implied. What they disagreed on was the grounds for divorce. The phrase, “if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her,” was open to various interpretations. The followers of Rabbi Hillel favored an open interpretation that allowed for divorce for any and every reason—she was a poor cook, she demonstrated disrespect towards her mother-in-law, or the husband found someone else more attractive. The followers of Rabbi Shammai preferred a narrow interpretation that allowed for divorce only in the case of immorality. Those who lived in the Qumran community followed a closed approach that made no allowance for divorce or remarriage.
Rather than answer the question directly, Jesus counters with a question of his own, “What did Moses command you?” (3). The Pharisees have to conclude that Moses allowed for divorce, but did not require it (4). Jesus points out that divorce was permitted because people were unwilling to forgive (5). If you look closely at Deuteronomy 24:1-4, the command was given not to require divorce, but to protect the wife from her husband’s whims.
Much like today, the Jews wanted divorce for any and every reason. Jesus contrasts the prevailing opinion by taking them back to creation (6-8). God’s plan from the beginning of time was one man and one woman for life. Since God established marriage in the beginning, he is the one who sets the rules. Despite what the State legislature approves, despite what the Supreme Court rules, despite what Hollywood celebrities promote, marriage is not between two men or two women. It is not a social contract that can be torn up and thrown away when we fall out of love. It is a divine covenant between a man and a woman standing before God.
Since God is the one who puts the marriage together and established the rules, we need to stop trying to tear it apart (9). Don’t un-one what God makes one. To do so in order to marry someone else sets both parties up for the sin of adultery (10-12).
Here’s a Summary of biblical teaching on marriage and divorce.
During my daughter’s wedding ceremony in June, I spoke directly to Phillip and Amanda about the commitment required for a happy marriage.
Mom and I, or Carol and I, have some good friends, Phil and Ellen Tuttle. During the early years of their marriage, whenever they had an argument, they might throw out the “D” word, Divorce. On one occasion, Phil wanted to make a statement about his commitment to Ellen. So he grabbed the dictionary in their house, took an X-Acto knife, and surgically removed the word “divorce” from their dictionary. Years later, their daughter, Emily, who is your age, Amanda, would show that dictionary to her friends. It gave her a sense of security and pride to know her parents were committed to each other and had removed that word from their vocabulary.
I want to challenge you to make that same commitment to each other today. As you say your vows, you are making a statement to each other in front of us and before God that divorce is not an option. To help signify that, I have a gift for you. It is a dictionary with the word “divorce” removed. The downside is that you also lose whatever is on the other page, on the back side of that word. But it demonstrates that to say, “Yes,” to each other means you have to say, “No,” to other people and other options.
As it turns out, the other side of the word “divorce” in this dictionary is the word, “divide.” By removing both words from the dictionary, you commit to not allowing yourselves to become so divided that you think divorce is the answer.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 2, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
Book Review: John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography, by John Shaw
John Shaw believes that a photographer should be part poet and artist and part technician.
Vision without craftsmanship is as much a failure as craftsmanship without vision. We’ve all seen photos that are intensely personal and emotional yet lack any technical competence. We dismiss these are lacking organization and think the creator cannot control his medium. We’ve all also seen photos that are technically superb but have no soul. These are aesthetically insipid, dull, and uninspiring works.
In his book, John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography, the author focuses on the technical side of photography to free the reader to focus on the aesthetic side.
If you’re fumbling around with lenses and tripods, your inner vision will soon evaporate. You want to reach the point where technical mastery is second nature, where you can concentrate on the image instead of having to focus on the procedure.
This philosophy explains how his book is set up. In his explanations (words), the author focuses primarily on what gear to buy—cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, etc.—and how to use it properly. In the 250 pictures in the book, he shows how he used his equipment to photograph his subject.
The book would be most helpful for someone who already knows the basics of photography and wants to take their photos to the next level. The amount of technical detail would overwhelm a beginner. From a personal standpoint, I learned as much by studying his photographs as I did reading the text.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
One wit has taken the famous Abbott & Costello sketch, “Who’s on first?” and adapted it to computers. It’s really quite clever. I originally discovered it in 2004, but since it was sent to me again a few days ago, I share it with you. Enjoy.
Lou calls to buy a computer from Bud…
Bud: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
Lou: Thanks. I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.
Lou: No, the name’s Lou.
Bud: Your computer?
Lou: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.
Lou: I told you, my name’s Lou.
Bud: What about Windows?
Lou: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
Bud: Do you want a computer with Windows?
Lou: I don’t know. What will I see when I look in the windows?
Lou: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
Bud: Software for Windows?
Lou: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?
Lou: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
Bud: I just did.
Lou: You just did what?
Bud: Recommend something.
Lou: You recommended something?
Lou: For my office?
Lou: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
Lou: Yes, for my office!
Bud: I recommend Office with Windows.
Lou: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
Lou: What word?
Bud: Word in Office.
Lou: The only word in office is office.
Bud: The Word in Office for Windows.
Lou: Which word in office for windows?
Bud: The Word you get when you click the blue “W”.
Lou: I’m going to click your blue “w” if you don’t start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?
Bud: Yes, you want Real One.
Lou: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
Bud: Real One.
Lou: If it’s a long movie I also want to see reel 2, 3 & 4. Can I watch them?
Bud: Of course.
Lou: Great! With what?
Bud: Real One.
Lou: OK, I’m at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?
Bud: You click the blue “1”.
Lou: I click the blue one what?
Bud: The blue “1”.
Lou: Is that different from the blue w?
Bud: The blue “1” is Real One and the blue “W” is Word.
Lou: What word?
Bud: The Word in Office for Windows.
Lou: But there’s three words in “office for windows”!
Bud: No, just one. But it’s the most popular Word in the world.
Lou: It is?
Bud: Yes, but to be fair, there aren’t many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
Lou: And that word is real one?
Bud: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn’t even part of Office.
Lou: STOP! Don’t start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
Lou: That’s right. What do you have?
Lou: I need money to track my money?
Bud: It comes bundled with your computer
Lou: What’s bundled with my computer?
Lou: Money comes with my computer?
Bud: Yes. No extra charge.
Lou: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
Bud: One copy.
Lou: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?
Bud: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.
Lou: They can give you a license to copy money?
Bud: Why not? THEY OWN IT!
A few days later…
Bud: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
Lou: How do I turn my computer off?
Bud: Click on “START”……….
“Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a doctor.”
So begins the opening paragraph of a thought provoking blog post by the folks at Desiring God. “Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride” presents a summary of Jonathan Edwards thoughts on the subject. They include:
To read the full article, click on the link above. You can also read the essay by Jonathan Edwards entitled, “Undetected Spiritual Pride: One Cause of Failure in Times of Great Revival.”
Book Review: Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform your Church, by Cally Parkinson with Nancy Scammacca Lewis
Rise: Bold Strategies to Transform your Church is one of the more helpful books I have read on the subject of church health. Rather than church growth, the book focuses on how to help a church take the next step towards spiritual vitality.
The book is the latest in a series from the researches at REVEAL. For the past ten years, they have surveyed 2,000 diverse churches across America in an effort to help church leaders gain clear and practical insights about strategic pathways that will enable spiritual growth.
The REVEAL research is based on the conclusion that church activities do not produce spiritual growth. “More specifically, increased participation in church activities does not significantly contribute to an increasing love of God and others.” The question of how to produce spiritual growth led to the writing of this book. Along the way, the researchers developed a second conclusion: “Churches are more similar than unique. Every church falls into one of eight patterns of spiritual growth effectiveness.”
The authors believe that there are eight defining archetypes of church health, and every church fits one of them.
The bulk of the book is devoted to describing each of these archetypes in detail. Each chapter includes a case study of one church and how they addressed their issues to move forward. This gives the reader an opportunity to hear from a pastor or leader in the church and see what the concepts look like in a real situation. I believe this is the strength of the book.
The final chapter focuses on how to move a church from where it is to becoming Vibrant. The authors describe 15 pathways with three in each of five categories—How to “get people moving”; How to “embed the Bible in everything”; How to “create ownership”; How to “pastor the local community”; and How to “demonstrate Christ-centered leadership.” They also describe which strategy works best with which archetype.
The book makes me want to check out their material and website further in order to identify where our church is and how to move forward towards greater spiritual health. Helpful book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.