Thursday, May 24, 2007

Growing Together

I’ve just finished a few weeks of marriage counselling with a couple. He was born into a religious home and has since pulled back from that. She was born into a secular home and just before I met them, she had become a Christian. There will no doubt be a fair bit of pushing and pulling as they try to balance out these disparate paths. What has that got to do with anything?

It’s just that it highlights for me how blessed I am, how fortunate I am that Wendy and I have grown in our spiritual walk more or less at the same pace. More accurately, I have pretty much been able to keep up with my incredibly wonderful, intelligent, strong and amazing wife.

Wendy is a quiet, thinking, praying, listening, contemplative individual. She was the first one in our relationship to become a Christian. She tells me that she once wrote in her journal that she thought that I’d never become a follower of Jesus. It took me about two years of watching this amazing transformation in Wendy before I said, “I want that too.” Luckily for me, Jesus is in the business of changing lives.

I on the other hand, am the reading, talking, writing, studying, impulsive type. In every single case that I can remember, whenever I’ve come to Wendy with my “discovery / insight / revelation” moments, about how God works in people’s lives, it has only been to find that Wendy has known for months, what I’d just “discovered.” After I’ve crudely exclaimed the wonders of a particular thought, she feeds it back to me in words refined from hours and hours of personal thought.

Regardless, Wendy is a patient woman who takes my hand as we travel this awesome rode that Jesus is laying out before us. I love my wife. I love my life.

As the proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I am so grateful that God has allowed me to travel this road of life with this terrific woman.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


My two-year-old said, as she lay down for a nap, with her nose plugged from a cold, “mama duvs me. Pappa duvs me, dedus duvs me, God duvs me, eddybody duvs me.” What a cool way to enter life, knowing that you’re loved.

Husbands Shall Have Dominion Over Their Wives

I’ve been in conversation with lui the atheist from Australia, better known as Christopher Hitchens’ Puppet. lui’s bottom jaw goes up and down but it’s only Hitchens’ words that come out. lui's latest comment was - [How do you explain] “Husbands Shall Have Dominion Over Their Wives! Or are you going to offer me yet another "reinterpretation" of the "infallible" Bible? You're beyond a joke.”

This was in response to my comment that lui held misogynist views, based on him constantly referring to women’s body parts as disgusting, dirty and filthy. That’s when he flipped to ‘The Bible is way more misogynist blah, blah, blah.’

It’s possible that Little Hitchens thinks that he’s throwing insurmountable problems my way. However, to date at least, he hasn’t asked me anything that I hadn’t already asked myself, as I too was struggling with the Christian faith. In fact, I still have the notebook that I’d filled 26 years ago, with questions that I wanted answered.

I’m not suggesting that lui is checking out Christianity. Most atheists simply throw out a flurry of protests without the slightest interest in the answers. When one issue is resolved they quickly hide behind another pseudo "problem." Nevertheless, lui’s comment is a good one.

So, Am I going to offer a reinterpretation of the infallible Bible? No way.
Dear lui, the Bible is quite able to stand on it’s own. You’ve shown an incredible distaste for things like humility, meekness and submission as they relate to Jesus’ teaching, so this may be tough for you to choke down. Please, for the your own good and for the good of your girlfriend, check it out.

James 3:17 - Now the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy.
Gee, that sounds to me as though a person like that would make a pretty good husband. Of course, you can’t judge Christian directives by just one verse. How about his one.

1st Peter 5:5 - Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This, lui, is talking about how young men should treat women in general.

Colossians 3:12,13 - Therefore, as God’s chosen people, Holy, and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another and forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Hmm. I wonder what kind of women lui knows that they would hate a man who treats them like that.

These next two verses deal with the issue of a double standard for men.
1st Timothy 3:2 - Now an overseer must be . . . the husband of but one wife
Titus 1:2 - An elder must be . . . the husband of but one wife
What these verses mean is that the husband must be faithful to his wife. He is not to lust after another woman, nor leave his wife for another woman. The writter allows for no double standard where the man can be sexually immoral but the woman must be faithful.

1st Corinthians 7:3,4 - The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
This verse does not allow for a double standard where the man is deserving of special treatment, but not the woman. This verse also upholds the importance of sex in a marriage. This is relevant today in a world where the demands of kids, work, work and more work make finding time and energy for sex a real issue in a large number of marriages.

Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33 - Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies . . . Each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself.
Colossians 3:19 - Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Hmm, no directives for husbands to have dominion over or to rule over their wives so far. We better check further.

A guy named Matthew, who was a follower of Jesus and who witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus recorded many of Jesus teachings. Some are listed below:
. Treat women with respect instead of just sexual objects
. Forgive your wife as you have been forgiven by your Heavenly Father
. Don’t judge your wife in a hypocritical manner
. Don’t forgive your wife when she sins against you only seven times, but every time.
. Love your wife as you already love yourself
. Love your wife even if she is your enemy, do good to your wife even if she hates you, bless your wife even if she curses you, pray for your wife, even if she mistreats you. If she strikes you on one cheek, turn to her the other also. Be merciful to your wife just as your Father is merciful.
. Do not judge your wife. Do not condemn your wife.
. Do to your wife the kind of things you would like her to do to you.
. Love your wife. As I have loved you, so you must love your wife.

The following is from the letters of a guy named Peter. He was a follower of Jesus and an eyewitness to His death and resurrection. He was killed because he wouldn’t deny that His Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead.
. Rid yourselves of all malice and slander of every kind toward your wife.
. It is God’s will that by doing good to your wife, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
. Show proper respect to your wife.
. Husbands, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect.
. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing because to this you were called.
. Whoever would love life must seek peace with their wives and pursue it.
. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

The following is from the letters of a guy named Peter. He too was a follower of Jesus and an eyewitness to His death and resurrection. He was killed because he wouldn’t deny that His Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead.
. Love one another
. Let us not love with words but with actions.
. Whoever does not love his wife does not know God because God is love.
. Whoever loves God must also love his wife.
. [Jesus'] command is that you walk in love.

The following is from the letters of a guy named James. He too was a follower of Jesus and an eyewitness to His death and resurrection. James was one of Jesus’ brothers who became a leader in the early Church. He was killed because he wouldn’t deny that His Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead.
. The wisdom that comes from Jesus is peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy.
. Peacemakers who sow peace in their marriages, raise a harvest of righteousness.
. Do not slander your wife’s name.
. Love your wife as you already love yourself.
. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue when talking to his wife, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
. Everyone should be slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

The following is from the letters of a guy named Paul. He too was a follower of Jesus. His experience with the risen Jesus caused him to turn from his violent, Hitchens’ like hatred of Christians and become the single greatest cause for the Gospel of Jesus being transported to Europe. He was killed because he wouldn’t deny that His Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead.
. Make sure that you never pay back your wife wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other.
. Do not lie to each other
. In Christ everyone is equal, none better than another. You are not better than your wife.
. Therefore as God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive your wife just as the Lord forgave you.
. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
. Let your conversation toward your wife be always full of grace.
. This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless in your relationship with your wives.
. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
. Each one of you must love his wife
. In your anger do not sin against your wives for anger gives the devil a foothold.
. Be completely humble and gentle with your wives; bearing with one another in love.
. Love your wife as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
. A husband must not divorce his wife.
. You, then, why do you judge your wife? Or why do you look down on her? For we all stand before God’’s judgment seat.
. Do not repay your wife evil for evil.
. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with your wives.
. Do not take revenge, my friends.
. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The next verse talks about the respect with which men should view women in general.
1st Timothy 5:2 Treat older women as your mothers, and younger women as your sisters, with absolute purity.
I know lui, that you’ve said you view seeing women as sexual objects as one of the keys to “normal” happiness. However, this verse is saying, don’t see women as objects to be used and abused. See women as human beings worthy of respect and dignity. The Bible leaves no doubt that men should see women as absolute equals to men. It does not look down on them. It does not belittle them. In fact, and this is as true today as it has always been, women with Christian husbands (in the full meaning of the term) have always been treated far better than women in the surrounding culture that are not Christians nor married to Christian husbands.

But the Bible doesn’t stop there. These verses make no distinction between men and women. This is light-years from how women are, according to community standards, treated in non Christian cultures.
Romans 12:9-21 - Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour women above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s women who are in need. Practice hospitality toward women. Bless women who persecute you/ bless and not curse. Rejoice with those women who rejoice, mourn with those women who mourn. Live in harmony with all women. Do not be conceited. Do not repay any woman evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of all women. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with all women. Do not take revenge, my friends.
Romans 13:1,2 - Everyone must submit himself to women in governing authority, for there is no woman in authority except she who God has established. The women in authority have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against a woman in authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themself.”
Remember, Scripture does not give any indication that women are not to hold positions of power and authority outside the church.

1st Corinthians 1:4,10 - I always thank God for you women because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. I appeal to you, sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Galatians 5:13 - You, my sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve all women in love.
Galatians 6:10 - Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to all women, for we are all members of one body. Do not let any unwholesome talk about women come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to the needs of all women, that it may benefit those women who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger toward women, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to all women, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1st Peter 3:7 - Husbands be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing.

Ah gee. It looks like Little Hitchens is completely and totally wrong, once again. The Bible teaches that men are to have absolute and total respect for their wives. In fact men, as the spiritual leaders of the home, are supposed to take the lead in demonstrating submission to and servant leadership for their wives.
But what about that verse in Genesis; the one about “Man will have dominion over you?”

In Genesis 2:18, God is recorded as saying that he will make a “Helper” for Adam. People who don’t understand God and who hate anything to do with Him use this as proof that under God’s direction, husbands are to have control over or have dominion over their wives. What they don’t understand is that the word that is used for “helper” or “helpmate” in this verse is the very same word that is used in the Bible to describe God as OUR helper. This helper, as God calls her is NOT a one down position. Man and woman were created equal in value. However, they were created with different roles. Later, after all of Creation had fallen under the curse of sin we have the verse in question, Chapter 3:16. It reads, “You desire will be for your husband, and he will have dominion over you.” As we can see from the verses above, this verse is not a declaration or command or directive as to how men are to act toward their wives specifically or to women in general. It is a statement of fact, a fact that we have seen played out down through history. Women have always desired to have the lives of men. Men on the other hand have, by and large, kept women from attainting the equal standing that God created them to have. This is not because of God but because of sin.

So what has this got to do with Jesus and Christianity? We, all of us, are constantly being drawn to into the vortex of popular culture. It takes enormous strength to counter our culture. This was no different in Old Testament times. In comparison to our “modern” times, the rules and regulations concerning the Israelites seem crude and barbaric. However, they are and were revolutionary in comparison with the cultures and societies that surrounded God’s people. In comparison with their pagan neighbours, Israelite women were truly liberated. Not compared to now, but compared to then. When Jesus came along, he changed that again by about 1000%. He touched women. He spoke to them as equals. They were leaders and people of influence in His ministry. The New Testament, which Jesus said describes our behaviour as the Old Testament Law intended them to be, was not just radical for it’s time. The behaviours outlined as it pertains to husbands and wives is as relevant today and as radical today was it was in first century Palestine. In fact, some of the most egregious behaviours that we see today, regarding how men treat women can be found in the atheistic, Hip Hop music seen on tv. These singers, both male and female, whose lives demonstrate an absolute disregard for God and His commands belittle, demean, and degrade women to as great an extent as any patriarchal society that has ever existed. This attitude is seen in the sex trade. It’s seen in commerce. It’s seen in some religions. Any attitude that demeans women is an “against God” attitude.
Next Question Please?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Weird Stuff

I woke this morning to the memory of something that happened when I was about six-years-old. It was just after an evening Christmas Eve Program at a little country Church. We kids were busily diving into our treat bags, devouring the candies and leaving the peanuts and Christmas oranges for last. The Church was warm. I’d play the role as a king rather well. We were about to head home to open gifts. Life was good. It was then that Dale Walters came up to me and told me to punch him in the stomach.

By the age of six, I’d compiled a mental list of things that I knew could get me into trouble. Punching someone was near the top. Showing maturity beyond my years I declined.

“C’mon, punch me. As hard as you can.”

“Go away Dale. I want to eat my orange.”

“What’s the matter? You scared? Hit me in the stomach.”

“I don’t want to hit you,” I lied. “Go away.”

I moved to go around him. Dale stepped in front of me.

“C’mon. Hit me just once and I’ll let you go.”

I glanced around. All the adults seemed to have their backs turned to us. My parents were nowhere in sight. Smashing him in the mouth was out of the question. The stomach however - A fortuitous moment was before me. Destiny forced it’s way into my life. Only fear and good judgement were holding me back. I let him have it; right in the gut.

Dale Walters howled. I became aware that I was wearing a tie and he wasn’t. He ran to his mother and pointed in my direction.

I didn’t know the phrase at the time, but something like W.T.F. made its way through my mind.

Dale Walters, face beet red and tears dripping down his cheeks clung to his mother’s leg. She, with her hand on his head, turned back to her conversation. We went home to open our presents.

I wonder how Dale Walters remembers this incident.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Scandalous Concept of God's Grace

For those who do not know the “Good News,” or the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ, the concept of Grace is beyond their comprehension. Why would God do something like that? What kind of screwed up love would make a father sacrifice his only son?

Here is a true story that might help you to understand what God has done for us. In 1898, there was a man whose job was to operate the raising and lowering of a railroad bridge that spanned a certain river in England. He would raise the bridge so that larger boats could pass underneath. And of course he would keep the bridge lowered so that the regularly scheduled trains could pass as necessary.

As the story goes, one day this man forgot his lunch at home. Thinking that it would be a nice treat for her son to visit his dad, his wife gave the lunch to the young lad and told him to take it down to his father in the Lift Station. As young people often do, the boy got distracted. Apparently, a boat had taken longer than anticipated to pass underneath the bridge. As the man quickly grabbed the leavers to lower the bridge for a train that was about to arrive, he noticed his son, down by the river, playing in the lowering mechanism. What to do? Lowering the bridge would ensure the death of his son. Not lowering the bridge would kill many if not most of the two hundred commuters on the train. There was no time to warn his son. There was no way to warn the engineer. A decision had to be made.

The father lowered the bridge. He sacrificed the life of his one and only son, to save the lives of many. As the train went roaring past, the father, with tears streaming down his face cried out to those whom he saw idly reading their morning papers on the train, “How can you ignore what just happened? Your lives were saved at the cost of my son’s life!”

Of course, this story is not a perfect comparison. As did Jesus, in relation to us, the boy did not die with the desire to save our lives. Nor did the people on the train have to make a decision about the importance of the boy's death as it pertained to their future. In fact, unlike the death of Jesus, those on the train did not even know that a sacrifice has been made. One thing is certain however. If you think that disregarding Jesus’ sacrificial death on your behalf isn’t deeply disturbing to God the Father, you need to think again. Accepting God’s offer of Grace, by placing your faith in Jesus, promises beauty beyond imagination. Ignoring or mocking that sacrifice means horrific consequence beyond description. This is not a threat as some imagine it to be. This time around, the Father has given us a WARNING. He has given us time to move from our place of dangerous complacency. It can only be prudent to heed such a warning.