WHAT IS APOLOGETICS? DO WE NEED IT IN THE LORD’S ARMY?

ARE YOU READY TO LEARN WHAT GOOD APOLOGETICS IS ALL ABOUT?

Simply put, the work of apologetics is to explain what you believe and why you believe it. In Christian apologetics, the basic task is concerned with providing the truth claims of Christianity and providing reasons for those truth claims. If a Christian cannot tell an unbeliever what makes Christianity unique, why should an unbeliever be interested? In the New Testament, we are commanded to engage in good Christian apologetics with kindness and respect. It is one way we are supposed to love the Lord with all of our mind.

Historical apologetics is clearly seen in the work of first century apostles, including Peter and Paul, and further developed by many early church Fathers such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Many great apologists have added a considerable amount of new work such as C.S. Lewis, Norm Geisler, and R.C. Sproul. The apologetic approach is still important today. It is still at the heart of Christianity. Apologists today such as William Lane Craig, Josh McDowell, Frank Turek, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Ross, Stephen Meyer, John Lennox, Michael L. Brown, J. Warner Wallace, Lee Strobel, Stephanie J. Thomason, and many many other great apologists continue to lead the way.

Believers should be able to explain two main pillars:

Why do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?

Why do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Those two pillars are what makes Christianity unique. They distinguish what makes Christianity different from other worldviews such as pantheism and agnosticism. In addition to knowing the reasons for the two main pillars of Christianity, many people – both believers and unbelievers – need reasons to believe in the existence of a theistic God. Theologians say that theism is a logical prerequisite before establishing Christianity. In presuppositional apologetics, however, a presuppositional apologist will deny any need to give reasons for the existence of God. Strict Calvinists might lean in that direction. I have personally seen marriages where one person is not a believer, but the other spouse – who is a believer – does not understand the value of good apologetics. It would be a very good idea for the spouse who is a believer to learn good Christian apologetics.

Apologetics in a general sense means “a reasoned statement or a verbal defense.” It comes from the Greek word, apologia, which is found in the New Testament where Paul gives a defense for his point of view as a Christian. Later on, Peter gives us an exhortation to be ready to give a reason for your hope as a Christian. Peter gives us a command to explain what you believe as a Christian and why you believe it. “Have no fear of them who would harm you, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14b-16).

How do you begin using apologetics in a practical way? Start learning now and pray for the Lord to give you wisdom. Many good books can help you understand how to begin using your apologetic skills. When you share the gospel message, your apologetic skills can be a tremendous source of knowledge and empowerment. The book that helped me begin to see the value of apologetics is “Defending Your Faith” by R. C. Sproul. Then I continued learning by studying the work of many other amazing apologists such as Dr. Norman Geisler, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Aquinas. Make the decision today to learn how to love the Lord God with all your mind. I hope you discover that apologetics can be a significant way to help you become a more powerful and effective soldier in the Lord’s army. In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God. All the pieces are important for the Christian to live a life that brings glory and honor to the Lord. The belt of truth is needed in everyday language when we speak. The belt of truth can give you the support that is needed when speaking to a loved one. One of the best books that will help you learn how to discern truth is “Christian Apologetics” by Norman Geisler. Another great book is “Truth In Religion” by Mortimer J. Adler. Start today!

How To Have a Beautiful Marriage

A Beautiful Marriage Begins With Good Boundaries

A beautiful marriage begins with a husband and a wife who love each other and have the desire to live happily ever after. How do two spouses keep a beautiful marriage? In the book, Boundaries In Marriage, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend explain the way to live in a happily-ever-after marriage. By learning how to contribute to a loving marriage, a couple can experience a strong and healthy marriage. Cloud and Townsend give specific ways to create a better environment for the marriage to grow and develop. This book is an excellent guide for any spouse who wants to have a good marriage, for any divorced person who wants to learn how to have a better marriage, or for a single person who wants to learn what a good marriage looks like. Every spouse should learn what to do when a difficulty arises in his or her marriage.  Sooner or later, for example, a spouse will need to know how to deal with hurt feelings. It is wise for a spouse to learn how to avoid different kinds of immaturity. It is wise to learn what to do when a spouse is struggling with selfishness. While some married couples make marriage look easy, other couples openly reveal how unresolved conflicts can seriously wound and cause strain on a relationship.

In the first chapter, the author takes a closer look at seven couples who have experienced a conflict of one type or another. Specific problems are presented, and good solutions are offered. The key to a good marriage is to find good solutions, discovering both general principles and specific solutions, and put them into practice. A good marriage will have at least one spouse who is willing to find good solutions. Hopefully both spouses will be willing to put forth an effort to make the relationship work in a way that blesses the marriage. “Marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It is the mystery of living as one flesh with another human being” (Ephesians 5:31-32). We will take a closer look at several marriages and find out what makes a marriage fail and what makes for a beautiful marriage. It will be beneficial to look at each marriage and find out why they are either not working or why they are working.

Chapter 1: Finding Boundaries

Two couples with similar problems are introduced. Harold and Sarah are emotionally disconnected just like Frank and Julie, living with hearts that are not very well connected. The difference is that Harold and Sarah have not yet learned how to identify what is causing a problem and what should be done about it. Sarah has not yet made an effort to put any solutions into action, nor has she found any solutions that work, whereas Julia has been able to confront her issue in an effective way that helps bring her marriage back together. Being emotionally disconnected is the symptom of a bigger issue. In these two cases, the main issue is that one spouse is dominating in a disrespectful way while the other spouse allows it to happen usually because there is no knowledge of what to do about it in a way that is the most loving way possible.

Harold was bossing Sarah around, and Sarah let him control her. This is a common issue where the wife thinks she must be her husband’s servant in order to keep peace in the relationship while he orders her around like a slave. Sarah has not yet figured out how to protect her boundaries in a bold and loving way. Until Sarah realizes her responsibility in specific situations and in certain kinds of conversations with her husband, she will continue to struggle with not being able to set limits. Sarah needs to discover that she has the ability and freedom to protect her boundaries in a kind and loving way. Sarah has been neglecting the important aspect of taking responsibility for her part of letting Harold control her. She needs to learn how to use her freedom in a way that can actually help the marriage grow. While Sarah does not have control over Harold, she can learn to take responsibility for the following things: her feelings, attitudes, behaviors, choices, limits, desires, thoughts, values, talents, and expressing love. In a very real way, Sarah needs to work on perfecting how she is expressing her love toward Harold. “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). In a very real way, Sarah has lost control over her own spirit. “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit” (Proverbs 25:28).

Julia was in a similar situation, but she decided to confront the problem by learning what she could do to properly conduct herself. By setting limits and establishing healthy consequences in a loving and effective way, Julia took ownership of how she could respond to Frank’s dominating comments. Julie decided to honor her boundaries by controlling her own responses in a way for love to grow in their marriage. In a very real way, Julie made an effort to express a better, more mature kind of love toward Frank. “Love is at the heart of marriage, as it is at the heart of God himself” (1 John 4:16). Julie made an effort to respect her own boundaries even if Frank was not. She figured out how to confront the issue by setting healthy limits in her own life and establishing loving consequences. She also realized that healthy marriages need more than just love. Julie found the freedom to set her own boundaries for the sake of her marriage to grow. She gained the knowledge of being responsible for her own responses in specific situations.

In addition to a good amount of love needed in a marriage, it is also important to know what boundaries are needed. In order to find one’s boundaries in life, he or she first needs to know what kind of personal responsibilities are in one’s own life. Once boundaries are discovered, it will also be just as important to find the freedom to take ownership of our own responses. As an analogy, it is similar to a person who lives in a house on a piece of property that has literal property lines. Finding boundaries in one’s life is analogous to finding property lines in one’s yard. A person needs to know what he has on his property in order to protect it. A person needs to locate the boundaries, too. If someone crosses his property line, he needs to know how to respond in a loving way. The best way to describe a boundary is to think of a property line because property lines can help keep the bad guys out. Once we learn how to guard the boundaries of our heart in a good way, our communication and responses will improve with other people.

In Stephanie and Steve’s marriage, Stephanie was the silent sufferer who was suffering from a one-sided relationship. Steve had been going about his life by saying that what he was doing was for the good of both of them, but what he was really doing was he was living for his own good. Stephanie had been sacrificing and giving up her entire life for the sake of serving Steve. She was working very hard at trying to reject her anger and reject being contemptuous. She did everything she could to avoid living in pain. This is perhaps the worst kind of misery a marriage can suffer. Unless Stephanie makes the loving decision to say what she wants, explain what she likes, and explain what she does not like about how Steve is living for himself, she will continue to lose herself. Stephanie’s case of passivity places her in the position of feeling like love is missing. In order for intimacy to develop, Stephanie should find her boundaries, learn what she is responsible for, and use her freedom to help make the marriage grow.

Joe and Caroline’s marriage suffers from both of them engaging in a vocal match of playing the blame game. In an unproductive attempt to solve the problem, they both find fault in the other spouse, which causes them to live in an unloving downward spiral of unending blame. Just as Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed Satan, the couple who does not own his and her poor responses will end up feeling helpless. They will live in a deadend cul-de-sac of negative reactions until a newness of empowerment takes place. Empowerment enters into the picture once responsibility takes place. Instead of saying, “If it weren’t for you, I’d be a more loving spouse,” both spouses must realize the unproductive and incorrect nature of continuing to not admit how unloving he or she has been acting. Each spouse needs to take responsibility for finding new and more mature ways to respond. Both spouses should learn how to take control of their own words, learn how to lift-up one another, set limits, exercise kindness and patience, bless one another, and respond in a much more loving way.

Jen’s marriage suffers from the conflict of Jen continuing to rescue her husband from a number of irresponsible and immature actions. She is left feeling helpless because she has trapped herself in a kind of a mental prison where she thinks she is a victim of whatever he does or does not do. Until she stops paying for his mistakes and until she stops bailing him out, her husband continues behaving in a very immature way. Jen needs to realize she is a free agent to find new and better ways to respond. She should discover her boundaries, stick to them, and make decisions for the benefit of making her marriage grow. She can learn to limit the ways his behavior is affecting her. By learning how to feel differently, react differently, and behave differently to her husband’s issues, she can avoid being the victim of his problems. Even if her husband is not interested in changing or growing up, Jen can take responsibility, owning her part in the situation. A healthy marriage will have two spouses who love each other freely. It is not meant for one spouse who feels enslaved by the other spouse’s sin, self-centeredness, or guilt. Jen should start protecting her boundaries and take responsibility of finding new and healthy ways to love her husband.

Regina and Lee’s marriage is another case of the silent sufferer. Regina does not know how to deal with Lee’s many problems of drinking alcohol, living in anger, and regular use of biting remarks and hurtful sarcastic comments. Regina has already tried to confront Lee, but Lee either does not listen or he apologizes only to end up committing the same offenses. Regina finally ended up setting limits to protect herself. She gave Lee a loving consequence. She finally drew the line by telling him if he kept getting drunk, she would not live with him. She told him to take ownership of his problem, get help, or move out. Lee ended up moving out, but he found help. After a year and a half, their marriage was saved in the end. Other times, the situation might be less severe such as a husband speaking disrespectfully on a regular basis. The wife can discover her boundaries and tell her husband, “If you speak to me that way again, I will leave the room.” In certain situations, one spouse will need to set limits and develop a consequence of emotional distance such as saying, “I can’t share deep feelings if you are going to punish me for them. When you are serious about getting help and making some changes, I will feel safe enough to open up to you again.”

Sandy and Jerry’s marriage was another case of Jerry overpowering Sandy, but Sandy did not have any backbone to deal with the conflict. She did not know how to take refuge, protect her boundaries, or respond in a productive way. Finally, she decided that she needed help from a third party. Sandy made good use of a support group where she discovered her boundaries and learned new ways to guard her heart. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Proverbs 27:12). Sandy began to use her support group to find healing and strengthening. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Chapter 2: Ten Laws of Boundaries In Marriage

Learning the ten laws of marriage will help one or both spouses build a good marriage on a structure made for success. These laws are basic principles that can help a marriage grow and develop into the happily-ever-after goal that was set from the beginning. By learning the ten laws, a spouse will better understand where the boundaries are located, how they work, and how to solve problems before they start. These laws can benefit one or both spouses because they will bring empowerment to the one who knows how to use them.

 

Law #1: The Law of Sowing and Reaping

 This law states that our actions have consequences. The goal is to identify how a spouse is contributing to marriage and find ways to make a better contribution for a better result.

 

Law #2: The Law of Responsibility

 This law refers to each spouse being responsible to the other spouse and responsible for one’s own feelings, attitudes, values, and handling life’s daily difficulties. Other responsibilities include loving your spouse, knowing your boundaries, and not enabling sin, destructive behavior, or immature attitudes.

 

Law #3: The Law of Power

 This law states that a spouse has power over some things but not other things. A spouse does not have the power for the other spouse to have self-control. Each spouse has the power to have self-control, not other-control. Spouses have the power to influence, but they do not have the power to change one another. Each spouse has the power to identify the way he or she is actively or passively contributing to a problem.

 

Law #4: The Law of Respect

 This law states that if a spouse wants the other one to respect boundaries, the spouse should first learn to identify and respect boundaries. Each spouse should learn to respect the other’s freedom of making choices, the freedom to say no, and the freedom to say, “If you don’t stop being angry with me, I will have to distance myself from you.”

 

 Law #5: The Law of Motivation

This law states that a spouse should make choices based on values, not out of fearing the other will be angry. It means freely choosing to do something and freely choosing to love without being motivated by fear of loss, anger, loneliness, guilt, or loss of approval. We must be free to say no or free to love before we can wholeheartedly say yes.

 

Law #6: The Law of Evaluation

This law refers to allowing a good kind of pain that leads to growth and maturity, not a bad kind of pain that leads to injury or revenge. A spouse should evaluate the pain that our inappropriate boundaries might be causing others. In order to develop a better marriage, we might need to give consequences that might cause temporary growing pains, which leads to growing up.

 

Law #7: The Law of Proactivity

 This law states that one spouse or both spouses can take appropriate action to solve problems. These actions should be based on good values, wants, and needs. A spouse should protest against hurtful behavior in a positive helpful way, not in a lashing out, blowing-up kind of way.

 

Law #8: The Law of Envy

 This law states that the feeling of envy is miserable because it focuses on what others have instead of valuing the good parts of what we own. Each spouse should own his or her shortcomings such as resentment or helplessness, and then confess and repent. The solution is to find better solutions, recognize how to live out good desires that preserve goodness, and replace a sense of helplessness with better responses, better words, better attitudes, and better solutions.

 

Law #9: The Law of Activity

 This law refers to finding loving solutions and taking action that leads to growth and maturity. A spouse needs to take charge of what he or she can do, take charge of finding healthy boundaries, take charge of speaking truth in a loving way, take charge of setting loving goals, and take action based on thoughtful values. The first move is always available. It is a matter of realizing what it is and putting it into action.

 

Law #10: The Law of Exposure

 This law states that we are to communicate our own boundaries in a loving way. A spouse should know that he or she can become empowered, using personal power to interact in better ways such as appropriately communicating his or her feelings, attitudes, behaviors, values, choices, limits, desires, thoughts, talents, and love.

Chapter 3: Setting Boundaries

The author stresses the importance of taking ownership in our half of the marriage, doing what we can to create a better environment and taking good steps to solve issues in both halves of the marriage. A spouse must take full ownership of one’s self by admitting our own limitations, confessing specifically where our own character falls short (Romans 3:23). This new awareness includes finding our own character flaws and learning how to set healthy boundaries with ourselves. We should always keep our heart humble by focusing on our own need for God’s love, understanding that we need His forgiveness each day, and turn away from taking on a morally superior attitude. Healthy boundaries become easier to identify once we learn what we need to stop doing and what we need to start doing. Confessing and repenting is a part of becoming more mature and more Christlike.

After a spouse realizes the difference between being half responsible for the marriage and completely responsible for one’s self, it will become much more productive relating to our spouse’s issues. Two practical steps exist when the other spouse is being selfish, irresponsible, withdrawn, or controlling. The first step is to admit what part we play in the problem. There could very well be something we need to stop doing. For example, we might need to stop nagging or criticizing the spouse for being a failure. We might need to stop blaming, protesting, stop reacting negatively, stop feeling helpless, stop enabling a problem, or stop trying to change the other spouse.

The second step is to figure out what we can do to start helping the situation get better. Instead of seeing our own half of the marriage as the “good spouse” or the “innocent spouse,” it is much better to do what we can to take some steps in solving a problem even though the problem might very well belong to the other spouse. Figuring out what we need to start doing is the way to start making progress.

Chapter 4: A Complete Individual

In a healthy marriage, both spouses will understand how important it is to be a complete individual person (Matthew 19:4-6). In addition, both spouses will honor the other person as a complete individual. A complete individual is a person who values the following ten abilities: giving love, receiving love, being independent and self-sufficient, living out values honestly, being responsible, having confidence, dealing with problems and failures, living out his or her talents, not looking at marriage as the place where one gets completed as a person, and having a life. When two complete people become one in marriage, they both increase in maturity and knowledge together more than they ever could if they had been alone.

How does a person become complete as an individual? Without borrowing basic human requirements of good character from the other spouse, each spouse needs to put forth the ability to express and develop certain things. The following list describes a complete individual: able to connect emotionally, able to be vulnerable and share feelings, has an appropriate sense of power and assertiveness, saying no when needed, has initiative and drive, has at least a minimal amount of organization, ability to be real and mature, accepts imperfections, has grace and forgiveness, grieves in a healthy way, thinks and express one’s opinions, learns and grows, takes responsible risks, understands and uses one’s talents, ability to be responsible and follow through, ability to be free and not controlled by external or internal factors, ability to be sexual and spiritual, has a moral sense, values being complete and the process of two becoming one, and has an intellectual life.

It makes good sense to value all the treasures in our soul and all the treasures in our spouse’s soul. These treasures include our feelings, attitudes, behaviors, choices, limits, desires, thoughts, values, talents, and love. A complete individual will take responsibility of these treasures by first valuing them in one’s self and then require the same from the spouse. Growing and developing individuals will care about the treasures in the soul of one’s self as well as in the soul of the spouse. Three things are required in order for a spouse to value the other spouse’s treasures. First, a spouse must see that the other spouse as a separate person with individual needs and feelings. Second, a spouse needs to understand the other spouse’s experience, identify with it, and have compassion. Exercising this kind of empathy is a bedrock of intimacy. Third, a spouse must allow the other spouse to exist in his or her own right by allowing the freedom to have certain differences without internalizing it as abandonment, rejection, or a challenge to change. When a person is free to cherish the spouse, a new sense of joy is being developed.

Chapter 5: Values

One of the treasures in our soul is the ability to have godly values. A healthy marriage will have two spouses who hold godly values up high, esteeming them, and pursue them together as a couple. One of the biggest mistakes a spouse can make is making happiness a goal instead of godly values. It is important to know the difference between seeking happiness and seeking values that result in happiness. The following seven main values will make or break a good healthy marriage: loving God, loving his or her spouse, being honest, being faithful, having compassion, forgiving, and welcoming holiness. When both spouses make an effort to value those seven values, the end result will be two happier spouses and a much better marriage. Chapters six through eleven take a closer look at each one of these values.

Chapter 6: Love God

One way to love the Lord God is to find out what kind of marriage He says works best and then make an effort to make the changes that are needed in order to achieve it. This effort is a life-long effort to continually maintain. The best way to make the changes needed is to first love God. Then we can experience the Spirit of God who empowers both spouses to make the changes necessary. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all our mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). If a spouse is led by his or her flesh to make the changes, then the spouse is limiting the marriage. The key to growing in character is found in a loving relationship with the Lord. In a loving relationship, a person will be led by and walk with the Holy Spirit. Once a spouse begins to love the Lord on a daily basis, he will find guidance. Once a spouse begins to love the Lord on a daily basis, he will begin to see the benefits of bearing good fruit. He will experience the empowerment needed to show godly attitudes and bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, goodness, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Chapter 7: Love One Another

What kind of love should a spouse have toward his or her spouse? The answer is simple. Each spouse should give agape love to the other spouse. What does this mean? In a very basic sense, agape love is concerned with what is good for the other. A Greek translation of agape is “love that is affection or benevolence or charity”. Each spouse should think about how to make the other spouse’s life better. Agape love is godly love.

Jesus gave the second greatest commandment to “love one another as He loved one another” (John 13:34)). What kind of love is godly love? In the gospels, we see how Jesus loved one another, and He told us to “do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15). Jesus was patient, kind, and humble. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Jesus had the heart of a servant (Philippians 2:1-8). How did he serve one another? He had empathy. He was committed, and He took the right kind of action. Three keys to showing agape love toward a spouse include empathy, commitment, and taking the right kind of godly action.

 

Chapter 8: Honesty

In order to have an honest marriage, it will be important to avoid deception (Lev. 19:11, Prov. 6:16-19, Col. 3:9-10). An honest marriage will value healthy communication that can share deep feelings, needs, hurts, desires, failures, or whatever else is tugging on a spouse’s soul. Healthy communication involves truth while being kind and loving (1John 3:11, 18, 4:7-11, 3John 1:4, 8, 12). Honest communication will help develop intimacy. In addition to speaking truthfully in a kind way, it is just as important to be able to receive the truth in a healthy way. When a spouse listens to a truthful statement, he or she will need to exercise giving grace.

Chapter 9: Faithfulness

What is a faithful spouse? A faithful spouse is one who can be trusted, depended upon, believed in, and one in whom you can rest (Ephesians 5:22-33). A faithful spouse will not commit an emotional affair with someone else. A spouse should not be faithfully emotional to someone else instead of being faithful to one’s own spouse. In addition to not getting involved in an emotional affair, a spouse should not get involved in a sexual affair (1 Cor. 7:1-16). A spouse is to remain faithful to his or her spouse (Prov. 5:15-23, Prov. 31:11-12, Eph. 5:33, Hebrews 13:4). Just as God remains faithful to us no matter what we do, a marriage requires faithfulness even if and when a spouse fails to love in a perfect way.

 

Chapter 10: Compassion and Forgiveness

The reality in this world is that every human person falls short of perfection, except for Jesus (Romans 3:23, John 14:9-11). Once we accept this reality, every spouse will need to exercise grace toward the other as well as heal from personal failures (Matthew 5:7). God calls us to clothe ourselves with compassion (Matthew 18:23-35, Luke 10:30-31). One way to be more compassionate toward a spouse is to say, “That could be me. How would I want to be treated if I were going through that?” Compassion should cause a person to become more kind, patient, and tenderhearted. In addition to showing compassion, we are called to forgive over and over, seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:21-22). We have been forgiven by God, and He calls us to forgive one another.

Chapter 11: Holy Character

Holiness is not some kind of boring life. On the contrary, holiness is desirable and attractive (Exodus 3:5, 30:29, Leviticus 11:44-45). It means to be pure and blameless (Gen. 6:9, 17:1). In order to be a pure and blameless person, one needs to live a sanctified life, day by day, repenting from sin, walking in step with the Holy Spirit, and remaining in the Lord’s Word (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Timothy 4:5). In a healthy marriage, a holy spouse will take ownership with a certain issue, drive toward growth and development, give up what gets in the way of loving his or her spouse, turn away from anything that gets in the way of truth, and has a purity of heart, guarded where nothing toxic is allowed to grow.

Chapter 12: Resolving Conflict

The marriage union needs to be actively protected. It cannot revolve around other people nor can it revolve around other things like careers, houses, cars, or money. Protecting your marriage involves knowing your boundaries and making an effort to invest in your marriage. In a healthy marriage, a spouse cannot overlook the other spouse by saying yes to everything else. A good marriage will consist of leaving behind certain intruders that are keeping the marriage from being successful. Intruders could be inside or outside the marriage. If a marriage spends no quality time together then the marriage has been neglected. Spouses should set time aside for date night, for example, because it can help the marriage move forward in the right direction.

A good marriage will set good limits relating to time and energy. Instead of taking the marriage for granted or neglecting the marriage, each spouse should make an effort to resolve conflicts and invest in the marriage. If a conflict seems to be intolerable, both spouses should explore how he or she might be living in an immature way. When both spouses own his or her weaknesses and issues, they should move forward with a greater effort to resolve a conflict. If a spouse thinks the other spouse places greater value on other things, such as work or other people, a new awareness – of making a good investment in the marriage – is needed. Differences in a marriage do not need to be seen as an intruder. Differences can end up being a tremendous source of joy. In the next chapter, we will identify six different kinds of common conflicts.

 

Chapter 13: Six Kinds of Conflict

Every marriage will need to know how to resolve six different kinds of conflict: sin, immaturity, hurt feelings, opposing desires, marriage needs, and dealing with unknown problems. Once a spouse repents from being self-centered, the marriage will be able to deal with those six kinds of conflict much better. Whatever the conflict might be, each spouse will need to be patient and kind and pray for wisdom. In the next chapter, we will examine a six-step strategy to resolving conflicts.

Chapter 14: Strategy to Resolving Conflict

Once a spouse decides to invest in his or her marriage, certain issues will need to be dealt with. If a person is willing to deal with the issue, then the issue can be much more easily resolved. However, if a person is in denial, then the issue will not be as easy to resolve. In this chapter, a six-step process is identified in order to help resolve a conflict when the person is willing to deal with the issue. This process is a general process, and it is biblical. The six-step process includes the following: Observation, confrontation, ownership, repentance, involvement, and reexamination. What happens if one spouse is not resolving the issue? In the next chapter, we will address unwelcome boundaries. We will examine several ways to deal with a person who does not want to resolve anything.

Chapter 15: Dealing with a Resister

In a healthy marriage, two spouses should be willing to embrace the reality of receiving and respecting the other spouse’s boundaries. However, sometimes one spouse will resist. This chapter explores what to do if one spouse is resisting. It will help if the resister can at least listen to the benefits of respecting boundaries.

One way to deal with a person who does not want to resolve anything is to discuss what a good marriage looks like. A resister should at least listen to what a good marriage is all about. A good marriage has flourishing love; compassion develops, self-control and patience develop, appreciation for who a person is develops, and a greater dependence on godly values develop. The resister should know that values are the key to bringing about the end result of happiness.

A second way to deal with a person who does not want to resolve anything is for the spouse who is willing to discuss his or her desire of wanting to love God and grow in good character. Whether the resister might not care about boundaries or might lack an understanding about boundaries, the resister might need to sit and listen to the willing person discuss his or her own shortcomings as well as the benefits to the willing person setting boundaries. A third approach is to go ahead and try again to correct a particular issue or set certain limits, depending on what the issue might be. Even if the resister seems as if he or she is resisting, it could very well be that the resister is somewhat open to getting help in a new and fresh way.

A fourth approach is to discover what is causing the resister to resist. One cause might be a lack of empathy on behalf of the resister. By discussing how it is good to become aware of how each person is affecting the other one, a new sense of compassion could begin to develop. Another cause might be irresponsibility. Another cause might be a lack of ability to recognize love, grace, and freedom. Another cause might be control. Another cause might be unresolved old feelings toward other people. Other causes might seem like denial or retaliation on the surface, but after discussing certain causes, the resister might open up to what is really bothering him or her.

A fifth approach is following the process of making a soul connection. It will help if a counselor or the willing spouse can be the example of growing and owning, identify a specific issue, validate feelings, make known that the goal is for two loving spouses to love each other, and create a welcoming conversation. A good soul connection will not have any fear about requesting a certain change. A good soul connection will identify boundaries with good consequences, giving time and patience for the resister to adjust. A good soul connection will not have any fear about giving a warning to the resister.

Leaving a marriage permanently is the last consequence called divorce. Is the resistor leaving or is the willing spouse leaving? The willing spouse can stay in the marriage and learn to make a better soul connection as much as it is possible. Boundaries are not designed to end a marriage. It will be important to understand how to avoid misusing boundaries in a marriage. In the last chapter, two ways in which boundaries can be misused will be identified. In the conclusion, ten keys will be given as to how we can avoid misusing boundaries.

Chapter 16: Avoid Misusing Boundaries in Marriage

Boundaries are designed to preserve and deepen a marriage. They are not designed to end relationships. If a person is found misusing healthy boundaries in marriage, it might be because an increase in alienation has occurred. Instead of increasing alienation, it will be important to make sure an effort is being made to increase the reality of showing love.

Some boundaries might cause temporary suffering, but healthy suffering is God’s way to move us into the reality of growing in character and maturing. When a marriage is growing, sometimes the spouses will feel some kind of discomfort, but in a healthy process, suffering should only be temporary. When we suffer for doing the right thing in God’s eyes, He will bless us for it. Godly suffering is actually good for us when we learn to trust and submit to God’s good and perfect will. Once godly suffering is welcomed and experienced as a fruitful process, maturity takes place and an increase in submitting to God develops (Romans 5:3-5). James said to “count it all joy” to meet various trials because it can produce good character (James 1:2-4). A mature person will understand that certain sufferings are like a stepping stone, moving us past something, toward better character.

The second way in which boundaries might be misused is if a spouse is using boundaries as a way to avoid growth. If boundaries are set in order to avoid repenting, for example, then the wrong kind of boundaries have been set. One of the best ways to avoid misusing boundaries is to make a greater effort to build a marriage on love, honesty, and freedom.

When a problem arises in a marriage, and problems will arise, the goal should always be to mature, nurture the marriage, and personally grow in character. The following are ten last keys to a successful marriage. The first key is for one spouse to establish and express that he or she has a desire for what is best for the other spouse. The second key is to make a commitment to speak in love, not out of anger. A third key to a healthy marriage is to receive loving care and support from outside the marriage, from God, from support groups, marriage groups, etc. The fourth key is to take ownership and be honest about what kind of contribution is being made to finding good boundaries. The fifth key is to request a change in a particular boundary, but the spouse should always do it with love and compassion.

The sixth key is to identify consequences to unchanged behaviors and discuss warnings about things that might happen in the future. Knowing about consequences can help avoid the reality of certain actions and help protect your marriage. The seventh key is to be certain about the difference between ungodly silent suffering and the process of patient endurance. The eighth key is to renegotiate boundaries as time goes by. A more mature marriage might find the need to develop new boundaries and find some of the old boundaries less useful. The ninth key is to practice forgiving every day. Walk in God’s grace each day and remember, it is important to receive forgiveness from one’s spouse. Give mercy just as mercy has been shown to us at the cross. The tenth key is to submit in a way that freely serves one another with a joyful heart.

Taking on the heart of a servant is the best way to bring glory and honor to the Lord. Serving one another with godly boundaries – and knowing what are within your boundaries – is the best way to have a good marriage.

Twelve Things God Hates

What does the statement “God hated Esau” really mean? (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:11-13) Is it the same kind of hate that a person has for cheesecake or lemon meringue pie? The purpose of this article is to list twelve things that God really does hate. In doing so, we will discover that God loves all people, but it is not the same kind of love that a person has for dessert.

Does God Love and Hate At the Same Time?

It is so very important for us to understand the difference between loving a person and hating the sin. Generally speaking, “God hated Esau” means that God hated sinful behavior, not the actual person of Esau. Since God is love (1 John 4:16) and He hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19), it follows that God must love all people in the world (John 3:16) unconditionally while also hating the person’s sin at the same time.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only unique Son, and whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Five More Things God Hates

In addition to dealing perfectly with each person, God also deals perfectly with nations and groups of people. In Malachi 1:1-3, we find out that Edom refers to Esau’s descendants who are called the Edomites (Genesis 25:30, 36:1, 9). The Lord calls Edom a Wicked Land (Mal. 1:4), meaning a wicked people always under the wrath of the Lord. Why were they under wrath? They were under wrath for the following reasons:

1.) Siding with Israelite enemies (Psalm 83:1-8)

2.) Inflicting revenge on Judah (Ezek. 25:12-14)

In the context of Malachi chapter 1, Edom suffers as a group of people not because God inflicts punishment in a cruel random way, but rather, God is perfectly just when He gives both warnings and consequences. Malachi uses the illustration of “Edom under divine wrath” in order to warn the Israelites that the Israelite priests need to repent from showing contempt for the name of the Lord Almighty. Otherwise, Israel will also suffer divine wrath. Israel was warned about their following sins:

1.) Priests who despise the name of the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:6)

2.) A people who do not offer the best to the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:11)

3.) A people who do not fear the name of the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:14)

Another Thing God Hates

In the book of Revelation, we find out that God commended a certain group of people for hating sin. What sin was that? The people in the church of Ephesus were approved by God for hating the sinful work of the Nicolatians. (Early church Fathers explained that the sin of the Nicolatians refers to allowing heretical doctrine.)

Revelation 2:6 – (The Lord Almighty said,) Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.

The key word in Revelation 2:6 is the word works. It was not the person, per se, that was hated. It was the work of those people. Everyone is called to honor the Lord, no matter who you are or where you live, by following sound doctrine. In addition to being saved by grace through faith in order to do good works, we are also commanded to live by sound doctrine. In order to reject heresies and unorthodox doctrine, one must know the truth of sound doctrine. This is why it is so important to be a student of the Word of God, learn from educated theologians, let the Holy Spirit reveal truth to you, and daily put on the new life in Christ, walking in step with divine guidance.

Does God Only Love Some People?

Maybe you’ve heard a Christian such as a Calvinist say that God only loves some people. Oddly enough, atheists often say the same thing. It is not a good interpretation of Scripture to conclude that God only loves some people. It is false to say that God only loves some people. John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved only part of the world…” Telling people “God only loves some people” can actually end up triggering hopelessness, anger, and depression.

God’s character is so loving that it is impossible for Him to not love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and that means God naturally loves you. He is always loving in all that He does and in all that He says. The word that we use for God’s all-loving moral attribute is called omnibenevolent. It means He is always good, always loving, and perfectly limitless in being good and loving toward everyone. Nothing is forcing Him to love you. He just does love you with an infinite amount and a divine eternal love. He is so good, that He extends grace and carries out perfect justice to individuals as well as nations.

Just as a parent disciplines his child in order to keep him from repeating dangerous actions, our Heavenly Father pours out divine wrath in wicked places – out of His desire for people to repent from sin. Even though He actively hates sin, His loving character does not change. His loving character is constantly loving and constantly unchanging. The way God loves is not the exact same way a person loves dessert. The way God hates is not the exact same way a person hates cheesecake. Psalm 5:5 says, “You hate all workers of iniquity.” Psalm 11:5 says, “The Lord’s soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Divine hate and divine wrath are a means of divine discipline in order to get a human being to repent from sinful behavior.

How Do I Know If God Really Loves Me?

I met a lady one day who told me she thought God did not love her. When I asked why she thought that, she said it was because someone told her that God only chooses to love some people, and He decided to love other people but not love her. What?! That is a terrible misunderstanding of God’s unchanging nature. I assured her that God does love her with an everlasting love that endures forever, and He is just waiting for her to love Him back. Rest assured, you can be confident that God first loved you. Most certainly! “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The love that God has for all people is impartial, universal, and unconditional. He loves you so much that Jesus willingly died for you in order to pay the penalty for all your sin. The natural response is for you to thank God for the good work He did for you. We love, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

I might never know if God hates cheesecake, but I do know He hates pride, lying, murdering innocent blood, devising wicked plans, rushing into evil, false witnesses, and stirring up conflict. Never give up what you know for what you don’t know.

It is very clear in the Bible that God does not love sin. In the Scriptures, we find out that He loves all people. Likewise, we are commanded to love one another just as Jesus loved one another. We are never commanded to love the sin in a person’s life. Rather, we can dislike the sin in a person’s life while continuing to love the person. A parent is always expected to love his or her child unconditionally, impartially, and at all times.

If you have not done so already, get in a good Bible study with a teacher who follows sound doctrine and prays for you. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Never give up being a student of the Bible. The best way to genuinely love God is getting to know His divine attributes, the good work He has done, and all the good promises He has for you. And praise Him for it all!

Ultimate happiness is found in a right relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Story of the Woman Caught In Adultery

Was John 8:2-11 in the original book of John or not? (The story of the woman caught in adultery.)

Bartolomeo di Giovanni “A Bishop Saint”

One of the very earliest complete Greek copies of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus from circa AD 350, does not have John 7:53-8:1-11. The purpose of this article is to give a few possible reasons why those verses might have been intentionally removed by a bishop in circa AD 350.

Story of the Woman Caught In Adultery

from John 8:2-11

2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

I was recently told that most people are not interested in finding out if the story of the woman caught in adultery was in the original book of John. That might very well be true, but I am hoping to find some clues. In Bible study, when we get to that passage, we usually ignore the note attached to that passage. Someone brave enough might say something like, “Well, the early manuscripts didn’t have that story.” No one really wants to ask why in a small group study. An awkward silence clouds over when someone says it: an early manuscript did not have it. Someone with a keen mind might respond, “Yes, but earlier manuscripts probably had it.” Your Bible might give you the following note related to that passage:

“The early manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-John 8:11.”

I’ve been in enough Bible studies to know that the group usually leaves it at that. Are you one of the few people like me who walks away and wonders, “Well, did the original book of John have it or not?”

Out of curiosity, I gave a poll on Twitter, asking people if John 8:1-11 was in the original. After seventy-three people voted, the results came in as follows: 41% said yes, 36% said no, 12% said probably yes, and 11% said other. If those verses WERE in the original, then why were they removed? I would like to explore a few possible reasons, one in particular. Was it an accident? Did the scribe simply not place that story in the manuscript by mistake? Scribes were trained to not make that kind of a mistake. Was the scribe directed by a bishop to remove that passage? Was the scribe actually a bishop who left that passage out on purpose? If so, why did he leave it out?

Once I began studying early church history, three main things stood out. First, the Roman laws were extremely hostile against Christians during the first three centuries, forcing many to deny the Christian faith or face a death sentence. In a letter from governor Pliny the Younger to the emperor Trajan in AD 112, Trajan gave a reply, commanding Pliny to punish Christians. Pliny requested a consultation, and the emperor’s reply can be found in the letter, Pliny the Younger and Trajan on the Christians. Roman leaders were instructed to punish anyone who said he was a Christian. However, Christianity continued to spread. In AD 185, sophisticated philosophers such as Pantaenus were converting to Christianity. By AD 249, Roman Emperor Decius thought Christians were a threat to the empire and Christianity had to be eliminated by law. He issued legislation for every Christian to recant, earning a certificate for recanting, while bishops were punished to death.

Second, a new form of church structure began to take place in church congregations where the bishop became the sole leader in a local church. Third, a major split was happening among the church bishops over whether a Christian should be kicked out of church for apostasy, murder, and adultery. Some bishops wanted to kick a Christian out of church while other bishops wanted to welcome them back. Kicking Christians out of church for adultery is a legitimate reason why John 8:2-11 might have been removed on purpose by a bishop.

Today, some people refer to the story of the woman caught in adultery as Pericope Adultrae or Pericope de Adulterae. For the sake of conversation, I will abbreviate it PA from here on out.

Here is a simplified account of what might have happened if the PA story WAS in the original.

  1. PA was a story in the original book of John. It was not a parable. The adulterer was forgiven by Jesus.
  2. During the first few centuries, three big sins were major issues for the local church: apostasy, murder, and adultery. By the second century, some church leaders were kicking Christians out of church if any of the three big sins were committed. However, many many of the followers of Christ thought that a Christian who committed any one of those big sins should somehow be allowed to return to the local church. In AD 251, Cornelius was elected Bishop of Rome, claiming the bishop has the power to forgive sins in a public act of humiliating penance where the offender displayed genuine sorrow.
  3. During the second or third century, a bishop may very well have been motivated to leave out the story of PA on purpose. Augustine of Hippo stated that some of the “men of little faith” were fearful of wives committing adultery. It could be that in an effort to keep adulterers permanently out of church, he removed the passage. Finally, it might be that the bishop wanted to kick Christians out of church since bishops wanted no part of the sin of sexual immorality in church.
  4. By the third century, Christians were still considered outlaws. Copies of the New Testament books were secretly being made, some with the PA story and some without, depending if the bishop was for kicking Christian adulterers out of church or not for kicking them out. Church theologian Didymus the Blind (c. 313-398) stated that some people removed the story of the woman who committed adultery, saying people knew the story before Jerome’s time (c. 350), and the story was well known in the entire area of Alexandria. Didymus was from Alexandria.
  5. By circa AD 350, a copy of the Codex Sinaiticus was finished. That copy does not include the story of PA. In 1844, the Codex Sinaiticus was discovered somewhere at Mount Sinai.

    Codex Sinaiticus John 8
    Codex Sinaiticus John 8
  6. Early church Fathers had been writing many books. Some of them made reference to the story of PA.  Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine of Hippo refer to the story of PA. Augustine clearly stated that some men of little faith left out the story of the woman who committed adultery. The reason he gave was because some husbands feared their wives would commit adultery if the passage was left in.
  7. During the third century, the first century originals might have still existed. Copies that were made during the first and second centuries could have included the story of PA. Copies were made from those copies, and that is why we have the story today.

The reason why the Codex Sinaiticus left out the PA story might have been because 1.) A scribe made an error and left it out by mistake. However, scribes were trained not to make such mistakes. 2.) It could be that the PA story was never in the original, but then why did the early church Fathers refer to it as an issue that some bishops wanted to remove?  3.) Like Augustine said, it could be because husbands feared their wives would commit adultery if the passage was left in. 4.) It might be that since some of the bishops wanted to kick Christians out of church for committing adultery, they removed the story on purpose.

It is unbiblical for any bishop to refuse to welcome a Christian who repents. Paul was a murderer. Peter denied the Lord three times, and Mary Magdalene used to have seven demons. They all repented, turned to the Lord, asked God to forgive them, and thanked Jesus for paying the penalty for all their sins – past, present, and future.

Whatever the reason was for leaving the PA story out of the Codex Sinaiticus, we can’t ignore the fact that many early church Fathers wrote about the PA story and even stated that at least one scribe removed it.

As for the scribe of the Codex Sinaiticus, handwriting experts say that at least three scribes wrote it, possibly four. Whoever wrote the copy of the book of John in the Codex Sinaiticus might have left out the PA story on purpose or the scribe might have been advised by a bishop who managed the writing process.

 

 

Does God Exist?

God Loves the World (John 3:16)

Does God exist? It just might be that some people are looking for God in the wrong way. Evidence for the existence of God is available for anyone who wants to learn how to affirm the existence of an eternal Creator who interacts in this world. Who is our Creator? Where is he?  How does he interact with human beings? Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” When we look at this universe, we can learn many significant attributes about the Creator who made this universe.

Significant pieces of evidence for the existence of God are found in creation, good philosophy, and historical documents. Creation offers millions of pieces of evidence from design to intelligence, from matter to non-matter, from living things to non-living things, and from microbiology to the entire realm of the cosmos. Some of the best evidence supporting philosophical propositions are found in cosmology, teleology, the invisible human mind, the highest good, the problem of evil, absolute truth, and the moral law.

Ancient books throughout the ages offer significant insight into historical truth. Many, many pieces of documentary evidence affirm the existence of God. Take your pick, and study God’s existence using a higher level of reason. I continue to enjoy learning what the greats from history have said about cosmology, teleology, and the moral law. I like finding out what people are saying today. I also find it very helpful to examine objections of the day.

Take the time to discover the attributes of our Creator, and you will gain a fresh new look at this world. It is overflowing with millions of pieces of evidence that God does indeed exist.

Here is an article, “16 Ways To Show God Exists”:

https://ladyapologist.com/2018/05/18/16waystoshowgodexists/

 

Archaeological Evidence For Melchizedek’s House of God

King Melchizedek Blessed Abraham With Bread and Wine

Sometime around 1900 BC, Abraham was blessed with bread and wine by a holy priest and king named Melchizedek (Gen. 14:17-18). Later in about 1800 BC, Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, found an “awesome place” where he heard an incredible message from God. Jacob called that place the gate of heaven and the “House of God” (Gen. 28:17). In response to God’s wonderful message, Jacob set up a certain stone for a pillar where he poured oil on it (Gen. 28:18). The location of the stone that Jacob set up as a pillar was called God’s House (Gen. 28:22). Jacob also named that place Bethel (Gen. 28:19).

In the following 11-minute video, an archaeologist from Galilee named Eli Shukron presents a specific standing stone that he believes to be dated to the time of Abraham and Melchizedek the priest. Also in the video is Christian apologist, Frank Turek. Shukron escavated the City of David from 1995-2013. The standing stone that was discovered by Eli could very well be the actual stone that was used by Melchizedek in Melchizedek’s House of God. Shukron says the standing stone that he discovered is in an ancient worshipping area where animals were once skinned. Shukron escavated the area near Jerusalem and determined that the holy site was buried during the eighth century BC, or possibly when King Hezekiah was the king of Judah, when the king commanded the Israelites to worship at Solomon’s new temple (aka the First Temple from about 1000 BC). Shukron goes on to call his discovery of Melchizedek’s temple the “Zero Temple,” because after all, if Solomon’s temple is already called the “first” temple, then what should Melchizedek’s temple be called other than the Zero Temple?

Note: All dates are approximates for the sake of order and discussion.

In the artwork above, King/Priest Melchizedek is blessing Abraham with bread and wine.