Remember When?

Today, I would like for us to consider two passages of Scripture where God calls us to our former days. Remember When? This is a great exercise for a church, for individuals and for married couples. It’s time to revisit how we used to be, what we used to feel like, and what our perspective was back then.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
(Hebrews 10:32-36)

These Christians were about to give up and go back to Judaism in order to avoid the persecutions they were facing. They were just done, and they were tired and discouraged. Sadly, some just wanted to quit. This is a very real situation for many Christians, many churches and many marriages. What does the Hebrew writer ask them to do? Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian? Do you recall what you felt like? How did you feel about living for Jesus, even when you were being persecuted for it? What happened to that fire and that enthusiasm? It’s time to go back to the beginning like you were on the honeymoon with Jesus.

Here’s another passage in which Jesus is speaking to the church of Ephesus. They were “doing” everything right, but they were about to lose their fellowship with Jesus. Why? The love they had at first was gone. As one writer said, “They were gun barrel straight on doctrine but without any gun powder in the bullets.” What does Jesus say is the remedy? Go back to the beginning. Get back to your roots. Remember what it was like when you first became a Christian?

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
(Revelation 2:1-7)

I think those of us who are older should spend more time just listening and observing those who are younger. Instead of constantly being in teacher mode, maybe we as the teachers need to be the students. Those young Christians have a lot of zeal and idealism, and we would do well by remembering what it was like when we were that on fire for Jesus. Instead of accusing them of being young, arrogant and idealistic, maybe we could get stirred up again by working with them.

It might be that we observe a young married couple that is just gushing with love for one another. We can gag at that and make fun of it, or we can say to ourselves, “Remember when?” Maybe our romance, and idealism, and fire is gone and we need to do some rekindling. Instead of making fun of that young couple by telling them the “reality” of what’s coming, maybe we can rejoice with them and help bring our fire back once again.

The Blessing and Gift of Singleness

In Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, he writes about God’s gift of singleness. One of the headings in chapter 4 reads this way:

My unmarried years are a gift from God.

Sometimes, we don’t see the blessings in front of us because we are in such a hurry to get to the next phase of life. That is true for pretty much every stage of life. We are in junior high, and we can’t wait to get to high school. We can’t wait to drive. It’s winter and we want summer. We want kids, and then look forward to their eighteenth birthday! We can’t wait to retire, and then we sit around and long for the good old days. What if we stopped and thanked God for where we are in life right now? So many times in life, I’ve found myself looking over the fence to the next goal, the next phase in life. I know that is true for many other folks as well.

There is a blessing in being single, young men and women. Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to be married or pursuing marriage. But be thankful for where you are right now. Why would you want God to bless you for the next phase in life when you aren’t thankful for the current one?

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 7:32-35, ESV)

Paul is not speaking against marriage at all, but he is talking reality. If you are married, you have a God-given obligation to care for and serve your spouse. In marriage you have vowed to become one flesh for life. There will be things you cannot do anymore simply because you have to take care of a family. That is not a negative thing, it is just reality.

So, that being said, you have a God-given blessing and gift of being single, so don’t be in such a hurry to end that period of your life.

Ask God to help you see the blessings of singleness. Thank God for this phase of your life. Pray for God to use you for His glory whether single or married.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:19-20)

Why have I found favor in your eyes?

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10)

Ruth wants to know why Boaz took notice of her. Why me? That is a great question to consider. What was it about Ruth that grabbed the attention of Boaz? It certainly wasn’t her money, she was a poor widow. It wasn’t her nationality, she was from Moab, which was called God’s washpot (Psalm 60:8). Do we know anything about the physical appearance of Ruth? Not much. We know that she was “young” (Ruth 2:5). She must have been physically strong, if you consider how hard she worked in the fields (Ruth 2:7,17). Other people in Scripture (Rachel, Joseph, Absalom, David, Saul, Esther, etc.) are described as attractive, but we do not have such a description of Ruth.

What Boaz saw in Ruth is worthy of our consideration, men. This is to you, single men, as you are praying and seeking for a wife with whom you will spend the rest of your days. Boaz saw some great qualities in Ruth.

Why have I found favor in your eyes?

He saw a servant-hearted woman

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before…”(Ruth 2:11).

He saw a woman who fully gave her life to God

“The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

He saw a kind woman with the right priorities

Then he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich…” (Ruth 3:10).

He saw a virtuous woman

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:11).

So, single guys, take the example of Boaz today and meditate upon it. Ask yourself, am I considering these qualities first when looking to find a wife?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (Proverbs 19:14).

Some Old-Fashioned Etiquette

Sorry for the late arrival of this email. I kept having glitches with WordPress. Today’s post is about some old-fashioned etiquette. We probably all need some reminders once in awhile about good manners. Not that we are trying to look like the royal family in Buckingham Palace, but there are some common courtesies that we can bring back, especially with our wives. For those of you who are courting/dating, keep this in mind, too (and don’t forget them after you get married!).

Here is a great cheesy video from 1953 about good manners. It is about 10 minutes long, but it really does have some good concepts in it about manners.

Some Old-Fashioned Etiquette

  1. Put the phone away. If you are out on a date with your wife, put the phone away. You are not the President, and most things people text you about are not a matter of life, death and national security. Folks can wait for a few hours to talk to you. Like my wife Anna says often, “Phones used to be attached to the wall, now we carry them around everywhere.” Don’t even leave the phone on the table, it can send a message that you are not fully there with your loved one.
  2. Table manners. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Flatulence – save it for the bathroom not the dinner table. Wait till everyone has their meal before you start. Remember it is not a race, slow down, no one is going to steal your food (this one is for Aaron).
  3. Say “please” and “thank you.” This just may sound basic, but it is amazing how many folks don’t say it. Sometimes we just get a little too comfortable with each other, and forget basic common courtesy. It happens to pretty much all of us.
  4. Open doors, help her with her coat, help her with her chair, etc. I have heard about women who do not like these things done for them, but I have never met one personally. I’m sure they exist, but your wife is probably not one of them.
  5. Stand up when she comes to the table or leaves the table. Now, this one is really old-fashioned, but I was asking my girls about some old-fashioned etiquette and how to treat a lady, and Jessica and Lindsay both mentioned this one. Guess daddy needs to pay attention, huh? Standing up is a form of respect and honor, in fact, God commanded the young to rise in the presence of an older person (Leviticus 19:32).
  6. When walking on a sidewalk, you make sure you are on the side closest to the road. That means you get splashed or hit first, that’s the way chivalry works, baby! You are her protector, always keep that in mind.

There are many others we could discuss, but this is a good start.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

10 Reasons Not to Get Married

Note from Aaron: I found the following article “10 Reasons Not to Get Married” in my archives, but I do not remember who put this list together. Unfortunately, I did not put the author and source on my document.

10 Reasons Not to Get Married

Ask most engaged couples why they are getting married and the answer is automatic: “Because we are in love.” Here are 10 reasons not to get married.

  1. Love at First Sight. This seems romantic, but it is not a good predictor of marital success.
  2. Rebounding. People fall in love more easily when they’re on the rebound from a failed relationship.
  3. Rebellion. Getting even with parents, for example, by marrying someone they don’t like is always costly.
  4. Loneliness. The problem with this motivation is that “lonely” people will end up lonely in their marriages as well.
  5. Obligation. Some people marry because they feel too guilty to break off the relationship. They just can’t say “No.”
  6. Financial Advancement. The person going into a marriage for money can figure a life of unhappiness. There are some things money just can’t buy.
  7. Sexual Attraction and Guilt over sexual involvement are popular but weak reasons for marriage. The sexual fireworks between two people often blinds them to serious attitude and behavioral problems.
  8. Premarital Pregnancy. A great deal of research identified a high rate of divorce for those who marry for this reason. Marriage based on lust will not last. In making one mistake, a person should not make two by marrying a person they should not marry.
  9. Pressure from parents, peers and society pushes some people who are not ready into a marriage.
  10. Escape. Some people marry to escape an unhappy home life. We must remember that Jesus, not a spouse, completes us (Colossians 2:9-10).

Some things to consider in prayer.

What kind of man are you looking for?

Here are a few thoughts I recently shared with my daughter, and I pray they are wise. Believe me, my wife and I are in unchartered territory right now as parents of young men and women who are now seriously considering who they might marry one day. So…what kind of man are you looking for?

Is He Spiritually strong?

I do not mean that he is a flawless, super-Christian. But listen to him. What really matters to him? Where are his priorities, really? There are young men who “go to church,” and are “Christians,” but they are not spiritually strong. Their priorities are all wrapped up in earthly things. Is he someone who constantly has a reason not to be at worship services? Is he someone who loves to be around God’s people? What is his prayer life like? How does he make decisions? There really are young men like Daniel, Joseph and Jeremiah in this world, young men who are deeply committed to God, and it is evident in their conduct and conversation. Again, you are not looking for flawless perfection, because if that were the case, no one would ever get married. You are however, looking for a man who is seriously committed to walking with Christ. Pray for a man who will love God more than he loves you. Pray for a man who is more concerned about your soul than your body.

Is he Emotionally stable?

I do not mean the man has no emotions, nor that he is stoic. But if he is extremely insecure, you will one day pay the price for that in your marriage. Is he showing traits of being possessive, manipulative and controlling? Does he fly off the handle emotionally? How does he treat his parents? How does he treat people with whom he disagrees? How does he behave toward you when you do something he doesn’t like or approve of?

Is He Financially sound?

I do not mean that he is rich and wealthy. You are not marrying for money, but money fights are one of the biggest causes of dissension in a marriage. And of course, money is not the problem, it is our attitude toward money that is the problem. Remember what the apostle Paul said about the “love of money…” (1 Timothy 6:8-11). This is something you definitely should discuss with this young man. Is he on a pathway to lots of debt, because he is irresponsible with money? Does he have a healthy relationship with money? Again, you are not looking to marry into money, but if this man is not able or willing to provide for a family, you should find someone else (1 Timothy 5:8).

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all…” (Hebrews 13:4).