Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How Can I Rid My Heart of Bitterness in My Marriage?

The following exercise was developed to help someone who sought help to deal with bitterness in her marriage. Hopefully you can glean biblical principles and insights for your heart as you seek to grow in your love for God and love for others.

1. Continue your own, personal pursuit of the LORD. as you grow in your love for the LORD, you will grow in your obedience.
2. Study the Gospel of John chapters 12-17; note how your obedience is motivated & enabled by your love for Christ & abiding in Christ and His love for you.
3. When your focus is on Christ’s love for you, when His Word is dwelling in you richly (Col. 3:16), your growing love will produce obedience (Jn. 14:23) and will either prevent bitterness or dispel it (compare Eph. 4:22-24 & 4:31).

1. Each night before you go to bed, ask the LORD, “Are there any 'logs' that I need to deal with from today? (Mt. 7:1-5), confess your sin(s) to God and each other.
2. Then, ask your spouse, " Do you see any 'logs in my eye” that I’m not aware of?
3. If/when you see sin in your spouse, ask, “Should Love cover”? (1Pet.4:8) or should love confront"? (see Eph.4:15-16, 25, 29 &  Love Covers | Desiring God]. Love should generally confront repetitive sinful attitudes and actions that hinders one’s walk with the LORD, and adversely affects others around them.

1. Pray that God would reveal any unresolved conflicts, harbored bitterness or resentment in your own heart from the beginning of your relationship. Don’t leave any ‘stone unturned’.
2. Pray for wisdom to compare your spouse’s actions or failures with the standards of scripture. Have they violated God’s standards, or have they violated your standards and preferences? If it is simply a matter of your standards or preferences, pray for the grace to let ‘love cover’.
3. If they have truly sinned against God,
a) pray for the grace to release your spouse from culpability, relinquish them to God and trust Him to deal directly with the other person regarding the sin or hurt;
b) go to him/her and graciously talk about what the sin(s) with a balance of grace and truth, so that he/she can confess to God and seek forgiveness and restoration.

D. WHEN CONFRONTED ABOUT YOUR SIN (taken from Peacemaker)
1. Assume an attitude of humility. Resist pride which says, "I can't believe I did that" or "I can't believe he/she is making this an issue". Humility says, “I’m thankful I didn't sin worse”.
2. Address everyone who is/was effected.
3. Avoid excuses ("if", "but", "maybe").
4. Admit specific sinful attitudes, actions, failures. General statements are not true confessions.
5. Acknowledge th.e hurt you've caused and express sorrow.
6. Accept the consequences, commit to doing what you can to make right what you can where you've done wrong.
7. Ask for forgiveness.

E. WHAT IS FORGIVENESS? Forgiveness has two elements, a contract and a commitment. The contract of forgiveness involves 4 promises modeled after God’s forgiveness. The contract of forgiveness promises:
1. I will not bring this up again with you.
2. I will not bring this up again with others.
3. I will not bring this up again with myself and dwell on it
4. I will not allow this to destroy our relationship. Forgiveness is an instant, one-time action that requires a commitment to repeatedly honor the 4 promises.

God’s love for us that enables our forgiveness through Christ is the power and motivation to help you rid your heart of all bitterness.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 4:29-5:2)

Pastor Kent

Monday, December 19, 2016

Thoughts on Purity and Modesty, Part 2

Image from
There is a push to ask questions on the relationship of culture to sexuality and lust. Statements like, "God made my body, why shouldn't I and others love it," "Aren't we just animals anyway," and "How can this be wrong when it is accepted in so many other places in the world" are now common place and with them is the overarching idea that modesty and purity are based, not upon absolute truth, but instead on cultural subjective norms. To this thinking we look today.

The human body, like all creation, was created perfect by God (Gen 1:31). However, sin did mar that greatly. The misguided premise has been made by some that clothing is a result of the fall and man should pursue a pure view of the body rather than seeking to cover it. This, however, is based on a false notion. While man takes fig leaves and recognizes his shame and need for covering, he is not the only one who clothes himself. God, actually knowing man's plant clothing would not work, kills for the first time in creation and makes clothes for man (Gen 3:7 & 21). What is the extent of that clothing? We don't know, but it would seem to at least involve that which primarily makes humans men or women. The shame of physical nakedness is a result of the fall, and is something that we don't biblically see fully corrected till eternity. Marriage is really the only reprieve from this to be had (Eph 5:31), and even that comes with work. We don't see Paul write about us pursuing "pure" nudity or see Christ return in a nude resurrection body. Rather Christ's statement about no marriage in heaven would seem to show the lack of the act or focus on sex in relation to the eternal sexuality we will each maintain for all time (Mat 22:30).

All that being said, the extent of the shame or guilt over one's nakedness, while possibly being culturally influenced, does not mean there is or should be no shame at all over nakedness. In other cultures from the most prudish to most nudist, each has some form of dress they do wear which shows the universality of the effect of the fall. Also, at least the majority of cultures who do different activities completely naked are far more godless societies without the gospel or God, as of yet, having affected their hearts. This accounts for a great deal of the third world and tribal groups we know of today. This is not a new thing however, actually, throughout time we see sinful men seeking to do away with the laws of God and the guilt that comes with breaking them. Because one culture has possibly eroded their conscience does not mean we should participate as well. An example of this is nude beaches in much of Europe. On the other hand, we do want to teach liberty in the context of dress and should help to inform other cultures of right standards. For example, we would encourage a Muslim woman with truth and, as she comes to know the Lord, help her retrain her conscience to not think a burka is necessary to conceal herself for modesty. Also, as a quick note, the values and views of the United States are not a healthy middle ground between these two extremes. We also are culturally bankrupt in this area and as believers need to put far more thought into what is truly biblically acceptable.

Much of the desire for a view like that of a self-proclaimed "Christian" nudist seems to stem, rather than from Scripture, from psychological beliefs that people are not comfortable with their bodies or other's bodies and don't love themselves and thus all the problems of sexuality and lust are caused. These views, rather than being helpful, are actually dangerous at the least and a very useful excuse for pursuing sin. Some take this and use the argument that viewing pornography is actually just looking at art. Others might call it "window shopping." All of it, however, stems from a wrong view of God and the stewardship of our bodies He gives us. "for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Cor 6:20). "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." (1 Cor 6:13).

Phil Smith
Youth Minister

Friday, December 9, 2016

Parenting and Sexuality

On December 11 and 18 (both Sundays), I will be leading a two-part Gospel Institute class/discussion called Parenting and Sexuality in the Washington library from 10:30-11:45am. I'd love for you to join me. This class is for those with teens or those who are preparing to be parents of teens and will cover topics like helping our kids see a higher joy as they mature, resources for parents, gospel-centered tech use, and how our marriages can help shape our kids' view of sexuality.  I was reviewing my notes and found something I have quoted in the class that I wanted to share. The quote is from Matt Smethurst on an post he made on the Gospel Coalition site and can be found here
"I think it's a series of conversations beginning around puberty where we help them see that their new desires for romantic and sexual intimac
y can either lead them into sin or lead them to greater fellowship with Christ and (possibly) to a future spouse. The self-control we hope our children learn before puberty will play a huge role here. Moral purity is about delaying gratification—it's about saying no to a lesser pleasure now for the sake of a greater pleasure later. We err if we deny the lesser pleasure is real. And we also err if we fail to warn them that this lesser pleasure is followed by pain, because God wired us to experience physical intimacy in the context of a lifetime commitment. Therefore, he forbids that we express ourselves sexually outside the context of marriage. And the Holy Spirit can empower obedience in this area."
I’d love for you to join Casey and me as we unpack this quote and discuss more about God’s plan for us as parents. 

Take care, 
Ben D.