Sharing Faith

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”

“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”

“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/sharing-faith-increasingly-optional-christians/

Dating or Courting?

Humorous yet insightful article; here are some highlights.

“As a pastor, over the years I had my fair share of people approach me to find out if we were a “courtship” church or a “dating” church. The people invariably would tell me that their approach was “the biblical way.”

“Perhaps you’ve seen this list floating around the world-wide-web, but it’s worth reviewing because it makes a very important point. So here it is… ways to find a wife according to the Bible:

  1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deut. 21:11-13)
  2. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. —Moses (Ex. 2:16-21)
  3. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. —Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)
  4. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. —Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)
  5. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife.—Jacob (Gen. 29:15-30)
  6. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest.–Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)
  7. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.”–Samson (Judges 14:1-3)
  8. A wife?—Paul (1st Corinthians, chapter 7)

Obviously, this list was written with humor in mind, and some of these “ways,” are not prescriptive but descriptive of the sinful ways that God’s people have conducted themselves in the past—they are in no way exemplary. But this does demonstrate an important point—people often want the Bible to say certain things, such as how to find a spouse and marry, but they ignore portions of Scripture that don’t fit their paradigm. The Bible has more to say about arranged marriages, for example, than it does “courtship” or dating. So then, how do we proceed?

We also have the clear biblical command that a Christian is free to marry whomever he or she chooses, so long as the prospective mate is “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7.39). But in the end, choosing a spouse calls for wisdom…where God has spoken, we are bound, but where he has not spoken we are free. We are not bound by the commandments of men.

We should also note that in its collective history, the church has never addressed the issue in its creeds or confessions about how to find a spouse. Perhaps this should tell us that it is a matter of Christian liberty and that in the end, we should rely on God’s grace, wisdom, prayer, and godly counsel rather than make claims that the Bible has never made.”

 

Source: https://www.beautifulchristianlife.com/blog/16-ways-to-find-a-wife-according-to-the-bible

Biblical Marriage

“Sensitivity demands that we understand the grief, frustration, and concern of Christian young adults….They are the inheritors of a culture that has minimized marriage and has sent mixed messages concerning sex, gender, marriage and all the rest. The full biblical vision of marriage was not, in the main, held before them from their earliest years at home, and was not encouraged and enriched as they grew through adolescence into adulthood. Many of them — especially many young women — feel victimized by this pattern, and they are frustrated by the reality.” -Albert Mohler

According to anthropologists, there is no society wherein marriage does not exist in some format (Montague, p. 240). The institution is, therefore, a universal phenomenon. Since every effect must have an adequate cause, there must be some reasonable explanation for this feature of global society.

Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that marriage was designed and inaugurated by the Creator, then he has the authority to set the rules. Men and women do not have the right to treat this sacred human relationship in a cavalier, self-directed manner.

The institution of marriage involves a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Man and woman, by mutual consent, enter the arrangement. But the procedure, in order to be valid, must be consistent with divine law.

Traits of Marriage
-First, the marriage, is a relationship between a man and a woman.
-Second, marriage was designed to be a strictly monogamous arrangement.
-Third, marriage was designed with a hierarchial arrangement. (A husband who loves his wife will provide gentle leadership; he will not assume the role of a “tin god” who attempts to rule his wife with an iron fist.)
-Fourth, the marriage union was intended to be a lifelong arrangement.

Purpose of Marriage
-First, marriage accommodates our social needs. (As a general rule, it is “not good to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).)
-Second, marriage provides the means for the gratification of sexual desire — a virtuous, God-given inclination.
-Third, a home sanctified by marriage affords the ideal environment for the rearing of children.
-Fourth, the husband and wife arrangement was intended to facilitate the divine plan for human redemption.

Source:
Jackson, Wayne. “Marriage: As Designed by God.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: May 8, 2018. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/843-marriage-as-designed-by-god

Online Dating

A few struggles that online dating presents.

Some interesting thoughts taken from this article: http://timharford.com/2016/02/online-dating-swipe-left/

We badly want to believe that after giving a website a list of our preferences, hobbies and answers to questions such as, “Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?”, a clever algorithm will produce a pleasing result.

Because these pleasing results seem elusive, wishful thinking has gone into overdrive.

It is crazy to believe that someone’s eye colour and height, or even hobbies and musical tastes, are a basis for a lasting relationship.

A simple survey that Norton conducted with two other behavioural scientists, Jeana Frost and Dan Ariely, revealed that people were unhappy with their online dating experience in three obvious ways. The first was that the “online” bit of the dating was about as much fun as booking a dentist’s appointment. The second was that it took for ever. This was the third problem: people tended to have high expectations before the dates they had arranged online but felt disenchanted afterwards. To adapt a Woody Allen joke: not only are the dates terrible but there are so few of them.

Given that online dating tends to be tedious, time-consuming and fruitless, it is no surprise that we seem hungry for a better way.

Soul Mate

Is there really only one perfect person for each of us to marry, and if you don’t marry that person than you won’t be happy? Some thoughts to consider:

If this is true, than what about Christians who have married non-Christians? The Bible is clear about the truth that Christians should marry Christians (because what we believe affects how we act and live). So if a Christian married a non-Christian, what happened to their perfect soul mate? Are they left out because their perfect soul mate married someone else?

What about a death of a Christian spouse? I know faithful Christians who have lost a spouse and eventually remarried later in life. Did they have two perfect soul mates?

If we each have a perfect soul mate, than how do we know when we have found the right one?

May I suggest that the idea of a perfect soul mate, may be erroneous? Biblically speaking the most important thing is finding someone who is a Christian who truly fears the Lord, or desires to do what is pleasing to God above all else. Love and marriage is not about how perfectly people fit together. Rather, love is a willful choice. God loves us not because we are easy to love, but because He simply graciously chose to love us. The same goes for our relationships; no one is easy to love, but we can choose to love them and remain committed even when things aren’t perfect.

Perhaps it’s not about finding your perfect soul mate, but rather finding a committed Christian who together are willing to make it work.

Christian Liberty

“A majority of single Christians are rejecting biblical doctrine by choosing to have sex before they are married. Sixty-one percent of self-identified Christian singles who answered a recent ChristianMingle survey said they are willing to have casual sex without being in love, while only 11 percent said they are waiting to have sex until they are married.” https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-1-majority-of-single-christians-reject-idea-of-waiting-for-marriage-to-have-sex-114422/

While Christians would agree that sex before marriage is wrong (fornication), something has to change to help believers practically live out their faith. For one I think there is a misconception about Christian freedom and liberty. Freedom in Christ is not about seeing how close we can get to “the line” of sin without sinning, but rather it is a freedom to live rightly. Once we put our faith in Christ we can actually do things that are pleasing to God by the strength and help that the Holy Spirit provides.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. -Romans 8:2

I also think Christians need to be more open and honest with each other. Encouraging and helping each other in the battle. There are temptations all around us and we all struggle with purity of the mind, heart, and action.

Delayed Marriage and Adulthood

Some tidbits from a good article from Albert Mohler:  https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/problem-delaying-marriage/

Tellingly, secular authorities in the culture are now expressing worry about the delay of marriage among young Americans. When Time magazine is concerned about young Americans not getting married, Christians must be doubly concerned.

Study after study reveals that young Americans are achieving adulthood, if at all, far later than previous generations now living.

Why is this important to us all? A stable and functional culture requires the establishment of stable marriages and the nurturing of families. Without a healthy marriage and family life as foundation, no lasting and healthy community can long survive.

And we must encourage young Christians not to delay marriage, nor to marry in haste, but to make marriage a priority in the critical years of young adulthood. The Christian church must encourage young Christians toward the goal of marriage and must be clear about the necessity of holiness and obedience to Christ at every stage and in every season of life.

The Need for Fellowship

In a world affected by sin, filled with pain, trials, and struggles, it is important for Christians to go out of their way to encourage other Christians.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. –Hebrews 10:23-25

Those who have failed miserably are often the first to see God’s formula for success.Erwin Lutzer

My heart goes out to you, and I long to see you all coming constantly to God for a fresh supply of love. –D.L. Moody

Truly Jesus is the great need of our souls. –J. Hudson Taylor

The One and Only?

“Single Christians must be careful not to think there is only one person out there who would make a perfect spouse for them. Christians do not stay married because they have chosen the “perfect” spouse. Marriage lasts for those who know they got married for God’s glory primarily, not themselves (1 Cor. 10:31). These couples stay together because they know dissolving marriage vows dishonors the Lord in almost every case (Num. 30:2).” – R.C. Sproul

Encouragement for Christian Singles

“If you are married, then accept that. Accept the husband that God has given you. If you are single, accept your singleness and take it as if today was the last day of your life. Don’t be looking constantly to the future.

I remember what Jim wrote to me in one of his letters: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” And I think there are a lot of single women who are allowing their longing to slay the appetite of their living. They are not throwing their heart and soul into the will of God for today, because they are simply dying inside for something that God has not given them.”  – Elisabeth Elliot

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, ‘Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.’ Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good.”  – Charles Haddon Spurgeon