He Reigns!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Open Marriage Part 2

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
~1 Peter 3:7

Marriage is ordained by God. He is a family man and our marriages are important to Him. While there is nothing wrong with being single (1 Corinthians 7:7, Matthew 19:11), marriage was designed for procreation and to keep people from sexual sin. Marriage is a special covenant between a man and a woman with God that is a lifetime commitment. With the exception of violence (1 Corinthians 7:15) and infidelity (Matthew 5:31-32), there is no excuse for divorce. Even those who are a Christian and marry a non-Christian, or a spouse who becomes a Christian during the marriage while the other spouse remains a non-Christian, has no excuse for divorce (1 Corinthians 7:15-16).

However, the current divorce rate is about 53%, even among professing Christians and those who attend church regularly. Why is this? Quite simply - satan. That may seem like a cop-out to some but when examining marriage from a biblical view, we see that everything God ordains as being holy and good is fiercely opposed by the devil. He does not want us to succeed in our walk with God and our marriages and families become prime targets. Remaining firmly planted in the Word of God, seeing the world from a godly perspective, and living out our lives in a manner pleasing to God are the first steps to ensuring our marriages last a lifetime.

"A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34 NIV)."
The love of God is call "Agape" love. This is a deep, abiding love that surpasses all other types of love. It is a love that overlooks the faults of others and accepts them fully. This is the love Christ has for each of us. The love that led Him to the Cross to give His life so that our sins will not be held against us. It is the love that purchased our souls from hell and allows us entrance to Heaven. When we fully understand the love of God for us, we see that it is much more than the love we know from our own experiences.

There are two other types of love in the Bible. "Phileo" love is the love of friends. The type of love we have for our best friend, our parents, siblings and others. The other type of love is "eros" love. This is sexual love, desire, or lust. It is the type of love most closely associated with an intimate relationship. Having both types of love for our spouses is important. But to have a marriage that endures, we must also love our spouses with the same love God loves us, that is Agape love. This is a sacrificial love. It never asks, "What's in it for me?" Agape love is an action, not a feeling. It is what we do, what we say, how we act with our spouse. It is putting that person ahead of our own needs, and it is acting in love even when the other person has made us angry or isn't acting in a loving manner toward us.

It can be very easy to react in a like manner to someone who is being loud, insulting, angry or otherwise hurtful. But that isn't how God tells us to respond. We are to love one another (John 15:12-13), to show our love (Romans 5:8) for one another, and to do no wrong to another person (Romans 13:10), no matter how they are treating us. That doesn't mean we have to cower and take abuse, but we are not to repay wrong for wrong (1 Peter 3:9).

Marriage is a blessing from God that gives us a partner to help us through this thing called life. When approached in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus, our marriages will be as loving and fulfilling on the last day of our lives as on the wedding day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Open Marriage Part 1

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
~1 Peter 3:7

Marriage isn't easy. Living with someone until 'death do us part' is a daunting task. And trying to make a marriage last in a world that says it's okay to toss aside anything and move on to the next thing, makes lifelong commitments seem less than desirable.

My husband is a truck driver and he's around other drivers either in person or on the CB. Many of these men enjoy telling other truckers about their lives at home. They talk about the sports they watch, the toys they own, and ultimately, about their wives and marriages. My husband has seen a firsthand account of the differences between worldly marriages and godly marriages.

Some of these men don't tell their wives how much money they make, they have separate bank accounts, they split the bills so the wives have to pay their "share," and some have separate lives. When my husband told me this, I thought it sounded more like roommates instead of marriage.

God created our marriages to be open, trusting, faithful, with no doubts about our spouse. Secrets of any kind within a marriage breeds mistrust, jealousy and anger. Yes, everything you do is your spouses business just as everything your spouse does is your business.

My husband's email account and mine are linked, we both have all passwords on computers, phones, and every site we might have that requires passwords. We know pins for one another's bank cards, credit cards etc.  He has full access to my purse and wallet, and I have full access to his wallet. We have full access to everything the other does.

That doesn't mean we mistrust one another or that we rifle through one another's things. In fact, I can't remember the last time I looked at anything of his....he's actually pretty boring!

We have absolute trust in one another because we know our desire is to last a lifetime. Our marriage is designed on a triangle with God at the top point, my husband and I at the other two points, and everything else about life - children, jobs, friends, finances etc. - are in the middle. God is the head of our marriage, the Pattern we follow (Ephesians 5:22-24). God is Head of the church, the husband is Head of the house, but that doesn't mean wives are less than equal with their husbands. It means the husband has the greater responsibility for the care and support of his family. Every man will be held accountable for how he cared for, or failed to care for his family.

God didn't design our relationships as temporary or replaceable. Even our existance is to be everlasting. Living within God's design and plan, means not only will our marriages last a lifetime, we will be headed for everlasting life with Jesus in Heaven.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

To Tithe Or Not To Tithe

"In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel."
~1 Corinthians 9:14

Tithing is a hotly debated subject among some Christians. Their argument is that it's Old Testament, even though Luke 6:38 seems pretty clear to me, and Jesus said, "Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's and unto God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21). And Psalm 24:1 tells us "The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it..."

I believe in tithing. God has blessed me and I know He expects me to bless others however I can. He also expects us to support our pastors and the churches we attend. While I have heard people say that a pastor should support himself, this is contrary to Scripture. In fact, Paul devotes 1Corinthians 9:1-19 to explaining why a preacher should be supported by his congregation.

In today's world, there are some very real, practical reasons to pay your tithes and help support your pastor. While churches are tax exempt, that only applies to income tax. There are still bills to pay. The lights, water, sewer, garbage, property tax, insurance, repairs​, to name a few of the larger costs. But there's a lot of smaller costs: office supplies, classroom supplies for Sunday School, website costs, etc. And that doesn't even cover paying the person who is responsible for taking care of it all, while also being pastor, teacher, counselor, maintenance personnel, janitor, and shepherd of the flock.

You go to church to be fed the Word of God, to worship and fellowship with other believers, to be loved, cared for and to find emotional support during times of crisis and hardships. Church is a buffet for what we need spiritually and emotionally.

When you go to a restaurant to eat, you don't expect them to feed you for free, so why do so many expect to dine at church for free? God asks for a mere 10% to be returned to His house to support those He has called to take care if the congregation, and people refuse to give. Yet those same people think nothing of tagging on a 20% gratuity for the waiter who delivered their plate to the table.

Tithing is important to God. It shows your faithfulness, your belief that He really is in control, that He can take your small portion and multiply it greatly, and above all that, it shows He is Lord of your life.

God has given us everything. He died on the Cross out of love for each of us. He asks for our commitment to serve Him by serving others in our actions, deeds, and finances.

He is either Lord of your life, including your money, or He is Lord of nothing in your life.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Monday, August 14, 2017

This Is Gonna Hurt

"You rejoice in this greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. These trials are so that the true metal of your faith (far more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire) may come to light in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua (1 Peter 1:6-7, TLV)."

Trials and tribulations make up our life. We all go through them to one extent or another. When someone complains and says, "Why me?" My answer is usually, "Because it's your turn."

No one wants to go through trials in life. They're painful and we don't like to be in pain on any level. The problem is, we can't avoid trials because even if we do the right thing, keep to ourselves, keep our mouths shut and don't run off the rails, we are still affected by the world around us. Our spouses, children, relatives, co-workers, friends, and even strangers affect our lives. The struggles of the world around us affect our lives, moods, and finances. None of us are an island and we cannot avoid being tested in life. But we can decide how we are going to deal with these tests.

Suffering in life isn't always about the event we are going through, it is also about how we handle it and what purpose it serves within us. "And not only that, but we also boast in suffering—knowing that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 3:4-5, TLV)."

There is purpose in the trials of life. It builds character and faith in us but it also shows our faith and trust in the Lord to those around us. Trials even produce happiness!
"Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him (James 1:12, TLV)."But all of those results are predicated on our response.

(1) How am I responding to a problem?
People of God should respond in a godly manner, not in a worldly manner.

(2) How should I respond? We are to respond in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ.

(3) What lesson is there to be learned?
Every trial has a life lesson; don't be afraid of the trial but instead, seek the lesson within.

(4) Does my response demonstrate to others my faith and love for Christ?
Trials build our faith in God but also shows God to others.

(5) How can God use it in my life?
Trials test our faith and gives us a new, richer understanding of who God is.

Being tested is not God being angry with us but rather a way of refining us for His glory. Jesus was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), and He faced many trials leading to the Cross, but He over came the Cross and set an example for us (John 16:33). And He did not leave us to struggle alone.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).

 ©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Be Courageous

She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”
~2 Samuel 13:12-13

Tamar was about to be raped and pleaded with her brother, Amnon, to stop. She even begged him to go to the king (their father) and ask for her hand in marriage. This shows how desperate Tamar was since marriage between relatives was strictly forbidden by the Torah (Leviticus 18:19). However, her words fell on deaf ears, and Amnon overpowered his sister and raped her. He then tossed her out as if she were to blame and Tamar lived out her life a broken woman.

There are many things in life that aren't going to make sense. There are going to be many people who ignore us when we speak, even when we're being reasonable. Even when we're speaking truth, there will be people who are going to ignore what we say. There are going to be times when we become so desperate, we will say anything to change the situation we are in. There are going to be times when we feel helpless to change the road we're on.

Life isn't easy and bad things happen. Things beyond our control will happen. Situations we create that cause other bad things are going to happen. We are going to be hurt - physically and emotionally. We are going to have broken hearts. We're going to experience loss. We live in a sick world that spreads it's disease to everyone on some level, either directly or indirectly. That is the penalty for living in a sinful world. No one is immune, however, we can help ourselves and those around us.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Christ has a complete understanding of the human condition, of our pain and our weakness. And he alone is able to give us eternal comfort and rest (Matthew 11:28).

No matter where we've been, no matter the mess we've made, no matter the pain we live with, no matter how broken our lives are -- Jesus can make us brand new, change the path we're on, and give us purpose.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

We are also overcomers. We are conquerers (Romans 8:37) with the strength and ability to be the women of God we were designed to be. We have a strong spirit and a strong mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and in Jesus, we can accomplish anything.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us
(Romans 8:31)?"

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Slavery Or Freedom

"But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar."
~2 Samuel 13:32

Two years passed before Absolom had the opportunity to kill his brother, Amnon, for raping their sister, Tamar. Absolom had been "determined" to make sure Amnon paid for his misdeed, and eventually, the opportunity arose. By this time, I wonder if Tamar's honor was still the primary focus, or had the rage against Amnon taken on a life of it's own?

Sometimes bitterness, hatred, anger, hurt feelings, and the desire to get even can blind us. We can become so focused on our own private hell, we go beyond reason. I remember when the uncle who molested me from age three to age eleven died. My father came by to see if I wanted to go to the funeral but I refused. All I wanted to do was dance on his grave in a red dress and high heels.

Would that make me feel better? Would that have resolved the conflict within? Would it have affected him in any way? Probably not.

We often turn to revenge when we've been harmed by another. Turning the inward frustration, pain, and anger on the person who harmed us seems like a great idea. We think that by giving those feelings an outlet, they'll go away. We think that if we can hurt back it will have some type of soothing affect on our soul. Our flesh calls for pure, unadulterated revenge to set things right in our world, however, the opposite often occurs. Revenge doesn't make us feel better and often leads to a new, larger set of problems.

Everything Christ preached goes against our natural desires. Matthew 6:15 says, "if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you." For most of us, that's difficult to understand. Forgiving those who have harmed us goes completely against our human nature.

But isn't that why Jesus came to Earth? Wasn't He here to set the example of unconditional love and absolute forgiveness to all who ask?

I heard a priest say, in response to being asked if he forgave the men who killed his brother, "No, I do not forgive them."
"But you're a priest!"
"Christ forgives. I'm not Christ!"

I think a lot of people might respond that way. I know I did for a lot of years. The idea that I should forgive the man who ruined my life was abhorrent. He deserved my hatred and loathing. Most assuredly, he did not deserve my forgiveness. But, in the cold light of day, do any of us actually deserve forgiveness? Is any one of us able to look at the the Cross and declare we are not in need of what Christ did there? And if we are in need of Christ's forgiveness, how much more should we forgive others?

Forgiving those who have caused us great harm isn't easy. It doesn't always happen overnight. Forgiveness is a learning process, and it is definitely a growing experience. And it is absolutely necessary if we are to move forward in life.

"...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (Philippians 3:13).

Forgiving others frees us from the grip of what our abusers have done to us and allows us to move forward toward what lies ahead. It moves us out of a murky past and into a bright future. Refusal to forgive is committing to a life of bondage and slavery. Forgiveness is a commitment to freedom.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Monday, August 7, 2017

Living With Sin

Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”
~2 Samuel 13:15

As if it wasn't bad enough to have raped his own sister, once Amnon was finished with her, he tossed her out as if she were a common whore. And he "hated" her as if what had just happened was Tamar's fault. Tamar then had to live out her days, not as a king's daughter in the palace but as a broken woman in her brother, Absolom's house.

The violation of her body was something that would heal but the violation to her life, to her very existance would last the rest of her life. But it wasn't only the violation of what her brother had stolen from her - her innocence, her virginity, the trust she'd had in him, and her ability to marry and have a family - there was also the violation from King David - her father.

What must it have felt like to know the man who raised you, loved you, cared for you, and was supposed to protect you refused to do so?

In Tamar's day, a woman did not leave her father's house until she was married. This was to protect her virtue and honor against any man who may try to seduce her, and to also prevent any gossip that may arise from anyone trying to hurt a woman's reputation. A woman's reputation, her virtue and honor was what she had to offer any future husband and it was her father's duty to ensure her safety and to bring justice for any violation. Even though King David was "very​ angry" (v. 21), he did nothing.

Poor Tamar. She was forced to live with such violation of her body, heart & mind. So much so that the Bible says she "put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went" (v. 19). And she "lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house" (v. 20). Tamar was forced to live with what happened to her but she also had to live with the sins of her brother and her father.

Sin has consequences for everyone involved, even those who have no part in committing the sin but are, nevertheless, it's victim. There are physical, mental, and spiritual repercussions for sin that spread like a ripple in a pond and touch everyone in our lives to some degree. We may think that the things we choose to do are our business and no one has a right to tell us what to do, but our choices always affect others. Even the secret sins eventually come out and touch the lives of others. No matter how sneaky we think we are, or how good we keep secrets, our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).

Sin violates the very core of who we are and who we hope to become. Sin is never a single entity but rather, has its own group of friends. No matter the sin, it's center is betrayal, lies, and mistrust. Sin spreads like a black, sticky mess you can't wipe away and adheres to everything you touch. Sin affects every area of life​ and can sever friendships, marriages, and family ties. It can cost finances, homes, and careers. It can end relationships, bright futures, and the very lives of those we love most. Sin leads to to death in every aspect.

Sin - the cause,
Christ - the cure!

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sin Separates Us From God

"When King David heard all this, he was furious. And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar."
~2 Samuel 13:21-23 (NIV)

We see two different reactions to the news that Amnon had raped his sister Tamar. Absolom kept his mouth shut & David was furious. It doesn't mean Absalom was any less furious than David, we just see two men handling a situation in two different ways.

King David had many children with many different women. So I imagine being a parent to all of those children while also being king of Israel was difficult but I had 12 kids, so I know how hard it is to raise a brood like that. On the other hand, I also know what it's like to be a working mom and still raise kids. So the fact that David was king of Israel should have nothing to do with his parenting skills, or lack thereof. The Bible tells us that David was furious but later on in other chapters, we see David did nothing. He did not speak to Amnom, he did not correct Amnom, and he certainly did not punish Amnon. In those days, according to the Torah, the punishment for what Amnon had done to Tamar was death. Perhaps knowing this, David simply could not bring himself to make the charge against his own son -- his first born son, the one who would presumably become king after David's death. Whatever the case was, David made a grave mistake here.

Not only did Absalom wind up killing Amnon, Absolom wound up trying to stage a coup and being killed. David lost two sons and his daughter spent her days a broken woman.

When it comes to sin we must correct it quickly. Sin has devastating effects on our lives, the lives of those we live with, the lives of those we love, and the lives of those who have to deal with us on a daily basis.

Allowing sin to continue without saying something, and to continue in the sin that we are committing, allows that sin to continue to grow into something ugly, and the effects can be devastating to everyone.

David made some huge mistakes in his life and every time he did, it cost him the life of one of his children.  Our punishment in life may not be as devastating as losing a child, however as long as we continue in sin we are going to lose something. We will lose people in our lives, maybe not by death but by them walking away and leaving us because they cannot continue watching what we are doing. And then, in our sin we are also separated from Jesus Christ -- and that is the most devastating blow of all.

©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission