One of my most amazing memories as a child was when my family was sailing to Catalina Islandfor an extended weekend getaway. It was a moonless Friday night where the sky was lit up with innumerable stars. I was alone on the bow of our boat looking at the reflection of the stars in the ocean and was mesmerized, as it was a warm summer evening with the splashes of water being aglow with bioluminescence from a red tide. At the aft of the Maramel was a trail of luminous green in our wake as the plankton shimmer with green light when disturbed. And as if that wasn’t glorious enough, all of a sudden a school of porpoise came to play with us. Taking turns, one after another of these magnificent creatures jumped out of the water surfing the waves at our bow. Their trails were lit up with intertwining streams of phosphorescent green traces that lit up the side of our boat. I reached over the port side trying to touch them, as they launched out of the water and spouted one after another. At one point I noticed what seemed to be a parental porpoise with its calf (i.e. baby porpoise), side-by-side whirling and breaching. Together they seemed to be so playful and yet purposeful. I imagined that the mother was teaching her young about boats and how to body surfing the wakes (probably why it’s called a school of porpoise). I was so close that I could see the calf keeping its eye on the mother as it was led through the twists and turns and the ups and downs of their journey. I’ve grown to cherish that memory as one of life’s lessons in keeping my eyes on Jesus Christ at all times. I am reminded of the wisdom of Psalm 32, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” Life can be exhilarating and at times weird. There are the seasons of fast paced twists and turns and ups and downs, but we would do well to keep our eyes upon the Lord for His guidance and counsel. Rick Warren’s best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, reveals the pathway of our ultimate destiny by keeping the upward gaze on God’s centrality to all of life’s purposes. Perhaps I will write a sequel one day called the Porpoise Driven Life. It is the heavenward contemplation that will transform the mysteries of the absurd into purposeful worship. It is the sensitivity to God’s Spirit where even His glance would prompt our hearts toward His directed purpose. Perhaps this subtle nuance was within the inspiration of Isaiah’s writing when God revealed:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.… Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him…. your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”
 Psalm 32:8 (NKJV).
Isaiah 30:15, 18, 21 (NKJV).
These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you…” (Psalm 50:21-22) This is one of those verses that can be tucked away in your heart for many years. It is a concept that should be an essential truth within the human heart of grace. You will find that many people appear to have conflict with others because of their differences. In essence, people tend to hold to the thought that “because you are not like me, you are wrong.” Even over the essentials of the Christian faith, people fight over particular beliefs because people have differences opinion on a particular portion of Scripture. Now don’t get me wrong; I do believe that there is right and wrong on many issues. However, what I am speaking about are the preferences or variance of views on somewhat subjective areas of life and beliefs. On this subject, it is astounding to reflect on the fact that God used two amazing men to be instrumental in bringing about the Reformation back in the 16th Century – Martin Luther and John Calvin. Yet their followers ended up have divisive views about the Eucharist (Communion). Think about this, one of the most sacred gifts from God for the Church to reflect upon Christ’s death for our unity and worship—people argue and divide about it. As such, the preamble to the “Statement of Beliefs” that would guide our interactions over the areas of doctrine that sometimes divides people. “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity. In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions. As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs. In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’ For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology. We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.” The point here is that God’s people are free to hold different opinions in which they can have dialogue for mutual learning; let’s just not argue about the variant positions. If people will just simply seek to understand another’s point of view, it leads to great conversation and mutual edification, even though they may still disagree. It is no wonder that Jesus prayed, “that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 17:22)
These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you…” (Psalm 50:21-22) This is one of those verses that can be tucked away in your heart for many years. It is a concept that should be an essential truth within the human heart of grace. You will find that many people appear to have conflict with others because of their differences. In essence, people tend to hold to the thought that “because you are not like me, you are wrong.” Even over the essentials of the Christian faith, people fight over particular beliefs because people have differences opinion on a particular portion of Scripture. Now don’t get me wrong; I do believe that there is right and wrong on many issues. However, what I am speaking about are the preferences or variance of views on somewhat subjective areas of life and beliefs. On this subject, it is astounding to reflect on the fact that God used two amazing men to be instrumental in bringing about the Reformation back in the 16th Century – Martin Luther and John Calvin. Yet their followers ended up have divisive views about the Eucharist (Communion). Think about this, one of the most sacred gifts from God for the Church to reflect upon Christ’s death for our unity and worship—people argue and divide about it. As such, the preamble to the “Statement of Beliefs” that would guide our interactions over the areas of doctrine that sometimes divides people. “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity. In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions.
As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs. In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’ For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology. We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.” The point here is that God’s people are free to hold different opinions in which they can have dialogue for mutual learning; let’s just not argue about the variant positions. If people will just simply seek to understand another’s point of view, it leads to great conversation and mutual edification, even though they may still disagree. It is no wonder that Jesus prayed, “that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 17:22)
Seriously, who doesn’t want to hook their holy hottie? Luckily some of us already have (yep I’m talking about myself) but for those of you who haven’t there is still hope! The three steps to hooking your hottie aren’t complicated but some of them are hard. Don’t be put off by difficulty though; some of the best things in life come through challenges. Besides, doing the easy thing will only lead you to your defiled doofus and that’s the person you just dumped (or maybe they dumped you). So how do you hook your holy hottie? Keep reading.
1. Stop Looking For Your Hottie!
I know what you’re thinking… “What is this guy talking about!” Here’s the deal, your holy hottie is out there but you might not be ready for them. The cold hard truth is that if you find your hottie but you are not the right kind of person chances are high that you will lose them because of your own personal deficiencies.
Before you try to find Mr/Mrs Right you need to become Mr/Mrs Right. If you have enough baggage to open your own luggage store or if you have so many issues that you can open your own magazine stand you need to get your head on straight before you go looking for your hottie. But even if you don’t think you’re as messed up as some of your “friends” you should still evaluate your heart before you attempt to give it away. To that end, stop looking for you holy hottie and start becoming someone else’s holy hottie. Become Mr/Mrs Right then when you find yours, you will be able to hold on to them!
2. Redefine Hottie
Some of us are straight up attracted to the wrong kind of people. In my younger years, I only liked crazy women. If there was a room full of girls, I could pick out the crazy ones because they were the ones I was attracted to. Now you might not be falling in love with psychos and stalkers like I did, but are you attracted to the right qualities in a future spouse? Chances are you leave it up to “Chemistry”. You’re attracted to certain people and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, if you want to hook your holy hottie you need to make sure you know what you’re looking for and for many of us that means we need to redefine what a hottie is. Think about it, you might already know your holy hottie, you might sit next to them in church or work with them but because you have the wrong definition of what a hottie is you are oblivious to them.
Here’s a question, “Can you choose who you are attracted to?” The answer may surprise you- it is YES. I know, some of you are committed to statements like, “The heart wants what the heart wants”. But I have good news for you; you are not a slave to your feelings. Proverbs says that only a fool follows their heart. You see you and I were never designed to follow our hearts but to lead them. They are supposed to increase the enjoyment of life not control it. You might be saying, “I’m open to the idea of following my heart but how do I do that?” Great question, here’s the answer: feelings follow thoughts and behavior. That means that if you change your thoughts and change your behavior you will change your feelings (i.e. Heart). To rephrase, if you are attracted to the wrong kind of people you need to change your thoughts and behaviors then you will change what attracts you to people.
The question then becomes what should I be attracted to? There are two separate lists, one for men and one for women. For men, the major thing that we are attracted to is looks. When a guy hears the word “Hottie” he thinks physical beauty. Well boys, the bible is full of warnings about not letting a woman’s beauty captivate you. Proverbs 6:25 “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” & Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman that fears the Lord shall be praised”. Physical attractiveness is important but it is not the ultimate quality to look for in a future mate. Beauty is passing- no matter how good she looks now one day she will lose her good looks. And when that happens what will you do? Charm is deceitful- she might be a flirt and make you feel like a manly man, but all her charm is deceitful, there’s no substance to it. But a woman that fears the Lord will be praised. The one thing that a man should look for in a woman is godly character because that goes deeper than beauty and is more substantial than charm. What does Godly character look like?
- Proverbs 12:4 (NIV) “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Noble character has to do with the way in which the woman conducts herself in her dealings with people. This reflects the way she dresses, the way she talks, the way she treats people and responds to situations, and the kinds of friends and associations she has. A woman who brings shame to herself in those areas also brings contempt to her man and “is like decay in his bones.” Her good looks might seem worth it at first, but as the decay eats away over time, the man is embittered by the disgrace of his woman.
- Proverbs 11:16 (NIV) “A kindhearted woman gets honor.” A kindly woman is one who ministers selflessly to others. She does not complain about sacrifices or make constant demands for herself. Her heart is opened outward toward the hurts and needs of others.
- Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” What a godly man looks for, then, is a woman who is building, who is making, and who is contributing in positive ways. The contrast is clear: the opposite of an industrious woman is one who tears things down.
- Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” An excellent woman is trustworthy—faithful.
For women, the one word that describes what attracts them the most is confidence. When a man carries himself with confidence, when he is assertive and decisive, when others look him up to, women find him attractive. The problem with confidence is that many men have great confidence but little or no godly character. Bottom line for women is that you need to find a man that you will be safe in his hands. What should a woman find attractive in a man?
- Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Regular church attendance. If a man cannot make time to faithfully attend and make a serious contribution to a church, he is not a good candidate for the challenges or obligations of marriage. Why? Proverbs 14:26 (NIV) sums it up: “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” A man’s relationship with God will provide protection to you and your kids. If his relationship with God is not strong, you and your kids are left unprotected.
- Proverbs 10:4 “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Look for a man with a strong work ethic & money management skills. You want someone who things about the future not just momentary pleasures. If he is lazy in his work, he will be lazy in his marriage.
- Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Self-control over his tongue. Women, realize that the way a man speaks to and about others says much about his character. If he is harsh with people he doesn’t know he will be much more harsh with you and your kids. Treat men like this like they have the plague- run and hide from him!
- Proverbs 11:17 “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Kindness— a woman ought to look for kindness and a heart that freely ministers with a thoughtful word and an attentive ear.
Once you have redefined what a hottie is, then you will be able to see past “chemistry” and choose someone who will make all your exes look like the chumps they are.
3. Target Rich Environments
Lest face it, you won’t be able to find a Ferrari on a used car lot and you wont be able to catch fish in the Sahara desert. If you want fish you have to go where the fish are and if you want a Ferrari you need a better job (a much better job). If you want to find your holy hottie, you need to go to what I like to call target rich environments; go to where the holy hotties are. What does that mean for you? Stop looking for your hottie at the club scene. Stop looking for your hottie on the Internet (Quick side note: just because they advertise that its God’s match for you doesn’t mean it actually is). If you want to find your hottie go to where they will be. Where is that you ask? Join a ministry: help the homeless, care for the sick, teach underprivileged kids to read, build houses in Mexico, etc. Put yourself in places where you can connect with high quality people with solid character and who are sold out for Jesus.
As I said at the beginning of this post, finding your hottie is not complicated but it is difficult. If, However, you choose to take my advice you won’t regret it. In no time you will have hooked your very own holy hottie.
Are there not false and deceptive miracles and spirits? The Bible gives many examples of false and deceptive miracles and spirits that occur to draw people away from the one true God (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7; Matt. 7:23; Acts 8:9-13; 16:16; 2 Thes. 2:9-10; Rev. 13:11-14). In fact, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 declares of the last days, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (ESV) In addition, Paul warns of deceitful religious leaders, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV)
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV) Within this mix of false miracles and teachers will be those who seek to teach a non-Biblical Gospel (Galatians 1:6-8). The Apostle John also gives strong warnings of these elements of false doctrine and false spirits (1 John 2:18; 4:1-6). As such, Christians are challenged to be both open and discerning when in the presence of miracles. Those who are involved in the signs and wonders will have a genuine profession of Biblical faith (1 Cor. 12:3). They will believe in the incarnation and deity of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:2). They will also show the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives and bear Godly fruit in their ministry (Matt. 7:20; John 15:5; Gal. 5:22-23).
In addition, the focus of miracles should not draw glory or attention to a person, draw a primary awe to the miracle itself or even focus on the person of the Holy Spirit. We are to be reminded that the Holy Spirit will seek to bring glory and witness to Jesus Christ (John 15:26-27; 16:13-14; Acts 1:8). As such, we should be thankful to God that the Holy Spirit is working dynamically to glorify Jesus Christ through His word and works. Though believers may not agree on every point of doctrine and are not completely sanctified in every area of conduct, God is not limited in His power to do as He wills, when He wills to exalt Christ. And throughout Scripture the testimony of miracles will bring glory to Jesus Christ and will often result in the salvation of the lost (John 12:32). It is there that the repeated phrase throughout Scripture is manifested, “then they will know that I am God.” (Exodus 6:7)
Are signs, wonders and miracles still manifested in the Church today? “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” (Grudem) Often throughout Scripture the term “signs and wonders” is used as a primary expression of God’s miracles (Ex. 7:3; Deut. 6:22; Ps. 135:9; Acts 2:22; 4:30; 5:12; Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4). In addition, the Bible declares many miracles of healings and demonic deliverances (Matt. 11:4-5; Luke 4:36-41; John 2:23; 4:54; 6:2; 20:30-31; Acts 3:6; 5:15-16; 9:32-40; 28:9; Gal. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28). A purpose of miracles is to authenticate the message of the Gospel (John 3:2; 4:29; Acts 8:6-8; 9:35; Heb. 2:4). Miracles also testify that the Kingdom of God has come to humanity (Matt. 10:7-8; 12:28; Luke 4:18). In addition, miracles set people free from their hindrances and brokenness (Matt. 8:15; 14:14; 20;20, 34; Acts 9:36-41). And finally, miracles were often done for the primacy of the glory of God (Matt. 9:8; John 9:3).
Now the question again is raised if miracles were limited to just the apostles and their followers until the Cannon of Scripture was closed. In Matthew 10:5-15 Jesus clearly gave the apostles authority to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you go preach saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:6-8) In this context this exhortation was given specifically to the apostles and their message was only to go to the Israelites in neglect of the Gentiles.
Does this mean that this authority was only for the apostles and was only for the Jews? If such a view is taken, most the New Testament teaching (e.g. John 14-16) would be limited to the disciples when they were present and therefore not for ongoing benefit for the historic Church at large. Unless one holds to a strong dispensational perspective of Scripture, where God interacts with His people differently during different eras of history, it should be the natural and most literal interpretation of Scripture that God continues His authority and works through His people throughout the New Testament and beyond. However, this does not negate the fact that certain Scriptural precepts are specifically for a historic time and purpose, often as relevant to a particular culture (e.g. head coverings of 1 Cor. 11:5). Needless to say, the general principles given in Scripture that guide the Church should be applied in their cultural context (e.g. 1. Cor. 11:5 on authority). As previously noted, the special authoritative revelation of Scripture is limited to Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18), however the works of God in personally working in and through His people do not have such a distinctive limit (as noted in the discussions above). (For a further study of this discussion see Systematic Theology by W. Grudem pages 358-368.)
 Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem p. 355.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It was Blaise Pascal who originally asserted that, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” When Pascal wrote this, he was probably thinking, in part, of a famous passage at the beginning of Augustine’s Confessions, where the great African saint said to God, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in You.” These concepts of course, align well with Solomon’s query above when he reached the place of despair, despite his endless wealth, pleasure and accomplishments. It is no small wonder that these notions bounce around in the human heart throughout one’s entire lifespan. Nothing in this life will ultimately satisfy the longings of the heart’s passions but God alone. What is amazing is that God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). We also learn from Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
In all of life’s pleasures, accomplishments, possessions, relationships and experiences, nothing has been designed by God to be an end in itself. All of these attainments in life are good gifts from God but they are to be received only as a means in grace by which we exalt God. As such, the heaven bound soul is to acclaim Jesus in each of our fulfillments as we taste and see that the Lord is good. In other words, in each of the good gifts we receive from God we can thoroughly enjoy them, but within the experience our hearts are propelled to gaze above the experience to the Giver of the gift. All of life has been given as a gift to discover God and hence to worship God. Now these musings have led me to an old quotation that has been a friend to my soul for decades.
I came to faith by picking up the Bible when I was 21 years of age and read through the Gospels. Your mom came to faith in a similar way as she lay beside a pool and began reading the Bible. “The Bible Palace” by Billy Sunday. “With the Holy Spirit as my Guide, I entered this wonderful Temple called the Bible. I entered the portico of Genesis, walked down through the Old Testament art gallery, where pictures of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob and Daniel hung upon the wall. I passed into the music room of the Psalms, where the Spirit swept the keyboard of nature and brought forth a dirge-like wail of the weeping prophet Jeremiah to the grand, impassioned strain of Isaiah, until it seemed that every reed and pipe in God’s great organ of nature responded to the tuneful harp of David, the sweet singer of Israel. I entered the beautiful chapel of Ecclesiastes, where the preacher’s voice was heard, and into the conservatory room of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley’s sweet scented spices filled and perfumed my life. I entered the business office of Proverbs, then into the observatory room of the Prophets, where I saw telescopes of various sizes, some pointed to far-off events, but all concentrated upon the Bright and Morning Star which was to rise above all the moonlit hills of Judea for our salvation. I entered the audience-room of the King of kings, and caught a vision of His glory from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; passing on into the Acts of the Apostles, where the Holy Spirit was performing His work in forming the infant church. Then into the correspondence room, where sat Saints Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude penning their letters. I stepped into the throne room of Revelation, where all towered in glittering peaks and I got a vision of the King sitting upon His throne in all His glory, and I cried: ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.’”
I confess that I’m a carnivore! And I love to BBQ. Nothing better than a nice marinated tri-tip or some Carne Asada on the grill. If you’ve read much of the Old Testament, you may have noticed that the worship in the temple involved BBQ too – maybe not quite the way we do it, but part of the priests responsibility was the animal sacrifices, which they put on a huge wood burning BBQ called an altar. In Exodus 29 it says that the offerings that they would make on the altar were a “pleasing aroma before the Lord.” But that’s not why I’m writing today… let’s get back to marinating.
Recently I wanted to make Carne Asada and found a great recipe online that included fresh cilantro, fresh limes, fresh peppers, and some other delicious ingredients. After mixing a batch, I put some meat in the sauce to soak overnight. The next evening I threw the meat on the grill, and talk about a pleasing aroma! And it tasted great too! So why did that Carne Asada taste different than the meat without it? Obviously it had to do with the marinade. When you put a piece of meat in a marinade, it changes the composition of the meat (only as far as it can penetrate), and the flavors soak into the tissues.
So where am I going with this? The concept of marinating is a great way to think of our minds. Every day we marinate our mind in something. The question is, what are you marinating your mind in? I believe that one of the schemes of the evil one is to keep people’s minds soaking in unwholesome things so that they don’t discover God or become like God in their thinking.
“..the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
As followers of Christ, God wants our minds to go through an ongoing transformation process:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
What our mind thinks on determines how we live our lives:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
So what’s my favorite marinade? God’s Word! Renewal of the mind takes place through regular marinating in God’s Word. Consider these verses from the Psalmist:
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9, 11)
I challenge you to join me in marinating your mind in words from the Bible every day! You may not notice a big difference in a week, but keep going. Months from now, even years from now, the composition of your mind will be way different because of that daily encounter with God through his Word!
Take it from my dad, who taught me to marinate my mind at an early age, “Read a chapter every day, and if you can’t do that, at least read a few verses!” Thanks, Dad!
In our Rock Church “Through the Bible Reading Plan” we are currently reading in the Psalms http://www.sdrock.com/bible Metaphorically in a sense, the Psalms have been denoted by some to be the worship palace of heaven. It is amazing to me that what God has given in His Word to bring transformation and worship, often witnesses division and discord. I love the Preamble to the Rock Church’s Statement of Beliefs. “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity. In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions.
As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs. In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’ For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology. We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.” As such, it is a joy for our various leaders at the Rock Church who may hold to different doctrinal positions to all work in harmony towards the Great Commission. Yes, we affirm orthodoxy in the essential elements of our faith, but we also have a lot of grace for one another knowing that love should always be preeminent in the non-essentials.
Over the years I have experienced quite a number of divisive people who are well-intended Pharisees who still strain at the doctrinal gnats, yet are amiss in praying for and affirming the things that Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-26). Oh that the world would know that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).
I can already hear the furious fingers typing a scathing response to this post. But before you hit send, hear me out. I understand where people are coming from when they say marriage is a ministry, or sometimes that marriage is your primary ministry. What they are saying is, “Marriage is extremely important and requires lots of time and attention to flourish”. I get it and agree with the premise however it does not follow that because marriage is important that it should be considered a ministry. I know that for some, this is topic is sacrosanct; a type of sacred cow, if you will, that must be revered. Well, I think it’s high time to kill this particular sacred cow. Here are the top 5 reason that marriage is NOT a ministry…
1. THE BIBLE DOES NOT CALL MARRIAGE A MINISTRY
No where in the Bible is marriage referred to as a ministry. In fact, the two topics are not even addressed within the same paragraphs of scripture. The Bible treats them as separate, unrelated topics. To call marriage a ministry would be akin to calling sleeping a ministry. Technically I guess you could call anything a ministry but you’d be adding something to the word of God that is not there. Bottom line, if marriage is a ministry God forgot to add that bit to His word.
2. THE BIBLE’S DEFINITION OF MINISTRY EXCLUDES MARRIAGE FROM BEING ONE
If you look up ministry in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and Louw-Nida you can put the Biblical definition of ministry into two large categories. The first is an appointed office or position and the second is any act of service done to glorify the Lord.
In the first category- an appointed position, ministry can be split into two subsections; the ministry of the gospel and the ministry of the word. The ministry of the gospel is about preaching the gospel to the unsaved so that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Now, unless you are in a missionary marriage, you know ‘flirt to convert’, then marriage does not fit into that biblical definition. Nor does marriage fit into the ministry of the word, where one has the official position of teaching other believers what the bible says and how to be more like Christ (If this is your idea of marriage as a ministry you need to jump down to number 4).
The second categorical definition of ministry is where, I’m assuming, most people justify marriage as a ministry. In the broadest sense this type of ministry means service of some sort. It can be financial, it can be serving food, or using your spiritual gifts to bless someone. There are two reasons that marriage does not fit this definition. The first is that there is a difference between ministering to someone and having a ministry. The biblical use of this category is the former and not the latter. For example when I lived in LA, there was a one armed homeless man that washed windows at the freeway entrance I took to work everyday. Most weeks, I would give him money 2-3 times a week. I was ministering to him on a regular basis, but I did not have a homeless ministry. In the same way, just because you minister to (serve) your spouse on a regular basis does not mean that is your ministry. Secondly, if you have a ministry to everyone you serve than your marriage is not your only ministry, indeed every single relationship you have is a ministry. The reason people say that marriage is a ministry is because marriage is important, when every relationship is a ministry, then the importance of marriage is reduced. Additionally, ministry is about having a specific focus. Its a simple fact, if every relationship is a ministry, then all of your relationships, including your marriage, stops being a ministry they are just relationships.
To sum up- the biblical definition of ministry just doesn’t fit marriage. It is biblically inaccurate to say that marriage is a ministry. You can co-opt ministry and give it a different definition to fit your preference, but in the end your standing on the sinking sand of personal preference not the solid rock of God’s word.
3. GOD CREATED MARRIAGE FOR COMPANIONSHIP NOT FOR MINISTRY
When God created Adam he gave him ministry in the loosest sense of the word. Adam was placed in the garden to tend and keep it, then he was given the task of naming all the animals. It’s in the context of his God given ministry that Adam is given a wife. Interestingly, God did not say, “It is not good that Adam doesn’t have a wife to minister to.” But He did say, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Why did God create the institution of marriage? One word: Companionship. According to God, the main purpose of marriage is companionship, or friendship. There was ministry involved in the beginning, but it is completely disassociated from Adam and Eve’s marriage. Ministry was something they did together but it was not a description of their marriage. Any interpretation that is contrary to that is not based on the biblical account.
So, after the first three points there is no need to for the last two reasons why marriage is not a ministry. I mean, biblically speaking the case is closed, the coffin is buried. But I committed to give five reasons why marriage is not a ministry and my momma didn’t raise no quiter! So, on to the final points…
4. YOUR SPOUSE IS A PERSON NOT A PROJECT
There is an inherent danger in all ministries; people are viewed as projects. Even when you know that, it is still easy to slip into seeing those you minister to as projects because you’re always trying to help people get to the next level with God, always trying to ‘fix’ them, their issues, and their paradigms. When you bring then mentality of ministry into your marriage, it can set you up for hard times. What is important to remember is that your spouse needs to be treated as a person not a project. Thinking of you marriage as a ministry makes it difficult to see and treat them as a person because you’re to busy trying to change or help them. Your spouse to someone you walk with life through not someone you minister to.
5. MARRIAGE IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO NOT DO MINISTRY
Whenever someone tells me that their marriage is their ministry I ask if they are doing other ministry. 9 times out of 10 the response is, “No”. Bottom line, being in a marriage is not a good reason to not be in a ministry. It’s a cop out to justify doing nothing with your life by saying your marriage is your ministry. If there is no difference between your activities and the activities of your neighbor that is going to hell, you are lying to yourself.
All of us are called to have amazing marriages, to love and serve our spouses. Its the base line requirement, nothing special. On top of having an off the hook, God glorifying marriage you and I are also called to be serving in ministry.
If you’d like to learn more about how to choose a spouse check out my blog post on How to Hook Your Holy Hottie or sing up for my class on How to make decisions (including choosing a spouse) that are in line with God’s will.