“I Love You” While Dating… Do You Really?


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I know that this may be a slightly controversial topic (which is never a good way to start off something!). However being the pastor of a young church, I feel like the topic should be address.

If you are simply dating someone, do you really love them? I would have a hard time saying that you truly do. So then, why would you say that very heavy, very important statement? That honestly doesn’t make much sense and I am willing to bet that most of the time when that statement is said it is from a completely emotional, and often sinful or ignorant heart. Here’s where I am coming from:

1 Corinthians 13 is the prototypical “love” chapter, and for good reason. Paul is literally defining love here. Let me pull out one simple verse, and use it to show why I think saying “I love you” while dating is silly. Verse 7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Now, based off of that, let me ask you, when you are simply dating, do you bear, believe in, hope in, and endure all things? Well if you end up breaking up, then NO! And even if you don’t end up breaking up, do you by Biblical definition love the person yet? I would still say no.

So, here is the wild statement I am going to make and then try to spend the rest of the time defending. Saying, “I love you” before you commit is lying and often manipulative, and therefore should be avoided. We have to learn to be so careful with our words because they carry such great weight.  

You may say, “Isn’t this just being legalistic?” I would say if you find your righteousness because you don’t say, “I love you” before you are engaged, then yes, it is legalistic. However, if you are simply looking out for your brothers and sisters in Christ, then no, this isn’t legalistic, it is actually walking in love. 

You may also ask, “Why is this important?” There are three main reasons I can think of. The first is because you are really setting up his/her future spouse for failure in saying that you “love” the person, but then break up with them. Imagine you shower a girl in affection, you sweep her off her feet with poetry, you “love” and “cherish” her all the day long, and then break up. Later on someone else comes along, starts to date this women, and then tells her he “loves” her, and he really does because he is about to marry her. Satan could easily attack her in saying; “You know your last boyfriend said that too, what makes him any different?”

Or even worse than this, you are a little boy, and say “I love you” simply as a way to use the woman’s emotions and get some sort of personal pleasure out of it. Then when her husband comes along and tries to love her, she has this baggage that you created out of your selfishness.

Reason number two is that I think most people say “I love you” simply because they think love is an emotional feeling, rather than a personal commitment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that love is absent of feeling. Honestly, often because of the commitment, even stronger feelings come. But love in and of itself doesn’t always produce an overwhelming, honeymoon, “I can’t think of spending 12 seconds away from you,” feeling. Jesus Himself is a perfect example of this. He did not have a happy feeling going to the cross. He did it out of love. Love for him was obedience to the Father that produced a commitment from His end. So, do you really love someone because you have strong feeling? I would say no, you may be really infatuated with them, or lust after them, but you don’t love them. Love is commitment, and commitment comes when you are ready to say, “For richer or poorer, until death do us part.” This is commitment, this is love, you choosing to lay down your life for the sake of the other.

Finally, we have to be careful with some of the words we use. This is coming from a guy who says “literally,” when 94.3% of the time I say that I actually mean figuratively! James chapter 3 though says some pretty interesting things about the power of the tongue. The poison of hell is on it, a small spark sets a forest on fire, no human can control it, on and on it goes about the power of words. So, with love being such a strong word, why just use it flippantly, or because you just had your first kiss? That doesn’t make any sense.

Now, do I think those who chose not to say “I love you” are better? No, I really don’t. However, I am imploring those of you in relationships, or those that will be in relationships down the line, to think before you speak. What is love to you? I think we could do a better job at protecting each other’s hearts, and honestly make a good impression. Men, I implore you especially as the leaders in the relationship, show your woman some respect. I promise it will only end up good in the end. If you break up, you lost nothing in not saying it. If you end up getting married, you may have “suffered” for a while not expressing your feelings, but you will gain much respect later that will show her you are a man of your word, and you take you job at taking care of her seriously.

I would encourage you to go read 1 Corinthians 13, and then go put your relationship to the test. Does it stand underneath the principles of what love is? Or are you just saying this out of emotion? It may sounds like I am just nit-picking, but remember, if these women are Christians then they are actually God’s daughter, meaning she is a princess, a daughter of the King of the universe! How set apart (holy) should you treat her? I think we need to see them the way they truly are. Food for thought J   

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Slaves to: Sin or Righteous?


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Slave. That word by itself carries with it such a negative connotation doesn’t it? The World English Dictionary defines a slave as:

“a person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property; a person who is forced to work for another against his will; a person under the domination of another person or some habit or influence.”

In my basic definition I will say that slavery is, “anything that controls you.” If you grew up in America you are aware of the slavery our country practiced and the evil of it. You, my friend, are a slave and likely in much worse slavery than blacks were to whites! You are most likely a slave of the worst sorts. If you cannot control your desires, thoughts, emotions, actions, etc., then you are a slave to sin, and sin will destroy you in every way!

Beginning pretty early on in Scripture we see a shocking thing happen with the nation of Israel. For 400 years they were slaves to the nation of Egypt. They were forced into hard, fruitless labor, had little food, and probably were not very well taken care of. God chooses this nation however and rescues them from Pharaoh and Egypt. The Israelites were taken into the desert, shown unbelievable miracles in the parting and shutting of the Red Sea, they were given water when they were thirsty (miraculously), and even heard Moses sing a pretty sweet song!

However, the Israelites were now hungry and their food was running dry. Even though they just saw God do some of the greatest miracles ever, they began to bicker and complain. Exodus 16:3 says something you would probably choke yourself to death upon hearing. They said, “would that we have died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full…” They go on to say other absurd stuff, but you get the point. THEY WANT TO GO BACK TO SLAVERY… WHAT?!?

Now, I highly doubt they had meat to the abundant and bread to the full, because they were, “crying out to God” because of their slavery. This is what led God to move them to the Exodus in the first place (Ex. 2:23). I highly doubt life was good, but now, so shortly after seeing God move, they want to go back.

Another example of the Israelites crying out against God happens in Numbers 11:2-6. God is angry at the people, so He pours out His righteous holy wrath on them, and fire begins to consume people (whoa!). After seeing their friends get burned the people freak out, repent in verse 2, and the fire stops. Then (I am not kidding!) in verse 4 they begin to complain against the Lord!!!! You moron! They, “remember the fish [they] ate in Egypt that costs nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks…” I mean, fire did just consume your buddies! And you are saying the food in Egypt was free, right? No, it was the opposite! The food in Egypt cost a hefty price: freedom!  

You get the point, and I am sure you see the analogy and foreshadowing Scripture does a beautiful job at painting. Egypt is sin (which we are slaves to) and we are the dumb dumb Israelites! Jesus sees our slavery and comes and offers us freedom. However, we seem to love slavery and continue to try to bind ourselves to this disastrous situation.

So, let me say this again, and let it hit home for you personally. Slavery is anything that controls you. Anything that you want to run back to like the Israelites did, anything that tricks you into thinking it is better, anything that you cannot control is your slave-master, and it owns you. So, what is it? I know it hits each of us differently. Sexual sin (lust, masturbation, pornography, sex in the wrong context), alcohol, money, laziness, fear, anger, human praise, the list could go on, but which ones are you literally enslaved to.

You may be prone to think, “No, I am really not a slave.” I would say you are probably a fool, and you are fooling yourself. How many times have you tried to set a “goal” for yourself to not fall into a certain sin? “I won’t get drunk this week,” “I am going to stop thinking about these girls perversely,” “I am going to stop gossiping,” “I’m gonna stat working harder and not sleep until 11 everyday,” or whatever it is, only to fall again, usually even harder? Anything that you cannot control controls you. Sin is controlling, it is like Egypt, and most of us fall victim to it.

Depressing so far, but truthful. Here is the encouraging part: Jesus came to pay for that!!! Jesus came to set you free from slavery and bondage. Take a few seconds to look at some of these verses: John 8:32-36, Acts 13:38-39, Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:18. I love that last one especially because it says that we can be slaves to righteousness. We can literally be controlled by and compelled by righteousness and love! How awesome is that?

Why would you want to be controlled by things that kill you? That doesn’t make any sense! The Christian and the non-Christian fall into this over and over again. Christians, you have the power to be free from you sin according to Galatians 5:1. Non-Christians, you actually do not have the power because you need a Savior just like Israel did. You are in “forced labor” and you sin will control you all the way to the grave. You can try to break it, but I guarantee you won’t. And even if you do “break” the one sin you only fall victim to another one. You “defeat” lust only to fall into slavery to pride because now you think you are better then everyone. You “defeat” pride only to fall into depression because you beat yourself up everyday, the cycle will continue until death. But, the same good news is here for you too, you can turn to Jesus and let him lead and control you. You do not have to be a slave to your addiction that kills you and steals your joy. You can be free to do what gives you most pleasure, which is to pursue life and joy and freedom in Christ. 

Once freed by Christ you begin to literally become a slave to freedom and righteousness. You are controlled by love and forgiveness, not fear and failure. And the trick is (for both parties) to simply believe in the gospel! Run to Jesus and let Him give you Life. Run to him and experience freedom and the true bread from heaven, which is Him. Run to him and escape slavery, and become bond-servants of Him. So, what are you enslaved to? Surrender to the truth of the gospel and live in freedom, because it is for freedom you have been set free. Live as freemen (1 Pet. 2:16)!

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Chances are You’re a Modern Day Pharisee


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Chances are you have a huge “woe” from Jesus hanging over your head. I think there is a Pharisee in all of us who have been following Jesus more then a year! In Matthew 23: 1-36 Jesus says some pretty big things for people like us, we should probably take heed to them! So, which one of these seven resonates with you best?

 

1. You know the Bible well but do not practice most of what it says:

This is one of the Pharisees biggest problems, and one of the biggest problems in America. Verses 1-12 reveal this. Out of the 36 verses here 12 of them are about this specific problem (one-third for those of you who can’t do math!). You are really only bringing condemnation upon yourself when you know what to do but do not do it! Look at what Jesus says in verse 3, “practice and observe whatever they tell you – but do not do what they do. For they preach but do not practice.” Isn’t that funny? This is the world’s number 1 complaint against Christians, that we are hypocritical! We just like “to be seen by others,” (verse 5). Check yourselves. You should probably try to put to practice some of the things you know! I know this is one thing that smacked me across the face! I wish I could justify my actions, but I can’t! I truly do know a lot more then I practice.

 

2. You, through your hypocrisy, prevent people from getting in heaven and make false converts.

Let me say this first, I believe that God is sovereign. So you in your sinful hypocrisy cannot stop someone from being saved. However, I do think you “hurt” the mission of God when you are a hypocrite. Then, when you try to disciple people, you just pound a bunch of knowledge into their head, and never teach them to practice anything, making some jacked up converts. The world doesn’t become redeemed through this, and like the first “woe,” their head just becomes bigger and bigger until the Lord pops it! Verses 13-15 discuss this issue. Jesus’ words in verse 15 should be most threating, “For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

 

3. You swear falsely and teach silly, “truth.”

Verses 16-22 deal with this. “You blind fools!” You teach things that are not really even true, and they don’t actually make sense. On top of this you make promises and “swears” that aren’t even necessary or Biblical. I do not think this is specifically as present in today’s world, not the swearing at least. The false, stupid, pathetic teaching is more present then ever. If anyone thinks of an example of swearing falsely the way Jesus mentions it let me know!

 

4. You practice “over-faithfully” the smallest laws but don’t even think about the true important ones.

(23-24) Jesus makes it really clear that you should do the smallest law too, “These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” However, we tend to try to practice the smallest things in the world. For example, do you know how many times it talks about taking care of the poor, and less fortunate in this world? I don’t know either, but it is a TON! However, we are more concerned with issues like are video venue campuses Biblical or not… Really? This is what we spend our time arguing over and writing books about? We should really try to care more about the issues mentioned over and over again. Something I appreciate that I learned at Hill Country is that whenever a “lesser” practical or theological issue comes up with some of the pastors, they ask, “When is the last time you have shared the gospel?” If the person cannot answer, they won’t talk about the silly little issue, because they are neglecting the things that are actually important, just to discuss silly little issues.

 

5. You look good externally, but have wicked hearts and impure motives.

(25-26). You say the right things, dress the right way, and raise your hands at the climax of the song on Sunday, but you are wicked on the inside and have jacked up problems. I think there are two people in this category, the broken and the arrogant. For the broken person, the person who is caught in sin and feels guilt, but decides not to discuss it, please stop pretending. It is actually a “hidden” form of arrogance. You are not revealing your brokenness, and therefore not allowing anyone to help you. The heart of the gospel is that we suck, and Jesus redeems messed up people. I am so jacked up, and I am a pastor/church planter! I should have to together right? NO! I need Jesus so freaking bad it is ridiculous! It’s okay to be broken, confess and then repent of it, turn away from it, don’t be arrogant and try to hide it. The other person is the person who has “moved past” the gospel, and now is just a religious nut. Please stop, you fall in categories 1 and 2. You hurt the mission of God by thinking you have it all together. You “look” so good, but you aren’t, you are offering filthy rags like everyone else. You need Jesus, so please don’t act like you don’t!

 

6. Head knowledge never transfers to the heart.

(27-28). Um, enough said right? I think almost everyone I know deals with this. Ask the Holy Spirit to help with this, because this is just straight up hard to not do! 

 

7. They persecute and kill the people God sends.

(29-36) At first look it may seem like we don’t do this. However whenever we look at the Christian rapper, or the “hip” pastor, or the guy who is just a little more practical then theological, and then “persecute” them because of this, we do it! We should help them learn, not talk bad about them. And to be real we should learn from them, because usually they have much more right then we do! I know this about the Christian rappers because I love that movement. They are tatted up, and wear baggy jeans and snap-backs, but have deeper theology then most I have met in my seminary classes, and have seen tons of people come to Christ! Be careful when you “judge” somebody. You may be judging God’s elect and sent.

 

Kill the Pharisee inside of you. Verse 12 sums it up for me, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Consider other better then yourselves” (Phil. 2:1-5). Be careful of thinking you have it all together because your quiet times are a little bit longer then others, you may be a Pharisee, and I think these woes still hold true! 

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Man Pleasing


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Easily the biggest sin I deal with, and easily the most destructive, and I would guess you are close to the same. 

Let me ask this one major question before getting into this more. What has man done for you or given you that they are so worthy of your affection? What has man done for you or given you that they are so worthy of your affection? Don’t you do this too? Don’t you strive to make sure the man around you is happy and yet they have done nothing to earn this have they? What have they given you that they are so worthy of this?

I remember once I was innocently trying to please man. My best friend at the time (and still a great friend!) Adam and I were riding our bikes around. Adam had a sweet BMX bike, lightweight, fast, sexy. Because I was visiting him he gave me this bike that I think he found. It was one of those bikes that you see super hippies riding around on. Heavy, terribly ugly, you know you give it away because it takes up space and cramps your style! 

So we were riding and we found this huge jump. I am going to guess it was about 6 feet off of the ground. Adam rode, on his BMX bike and jumped off, then “encouraged” me to do the same, with the bike from 421 B.C. Now, I am from the inner-city yall, I have never jumped off of anything higher then a curb. Matter of fact most of the bikes I rode I think I stole from neighbor kids, who then would steal someone else’s! Jump off of something, please imagine the scene. So yes, in effort to please Adam I jumped off of it. Actually I didn’t jump, I rode off of it. It was so heavy I couldn’t lift it when I left the ramp, and nose-dived 6 feet to my doom. I thought I punctured a lung when the handle bars slammed into my rib cage; from 6 feet up! 

When we finally made it back to his house about 30 minutes later (one of the more painful experiences walking in my life!) we put my shirt in the freezer. Nothing to do with the story, I just realized that and thought, what the heck were we thinking?!? When we took it out it smelled like we had put it on a bbq grill because it smelt burnt, I think from me sliding on the ground after the jump! We also left the bike there, at the scene of the crime, showing the value of the bike!

All in an effort to please man. Funny story, and probably an innocent story but I have many that aren’t; we do this all of the time, because we desire to be liked by men. We start cussing in 1st grade, start smoking, have sex, rebel against authority, get into fights, make-out with someone, break-up with them, lie, cheat, steal, act ghetto or hippie, get abortions, quit jobs, buy useless clothes, and cars, and houses, and boats, and electronics, get drunk, plant churches, go into ministry, disciple men, stress about what you are going to preach on stage and get nervous when you don’t have any funny jokes (yes, pathetic, I worry about it), and the list clearly goes on and on, all to get people to like us. What sort of sense does that make?!?

The Bible speaks clearly about this issue. In John 12 Jesus begins to focus on the unbelief of the people around him. They would not open up and begin to follow Jesus because verse 43 says, “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” Whoa. You know when I read that I thought, “me too.” I would rather have you say well done then Him. I would rather have your applause then the applause of the Father. You know some people let it get so bad that they literally prevent themselves from experiencing eternal life because they care more about what people think. And no, I am not just talking about the unbelief of the people here in this John passage. I am talking about us who are afraid to share the gospel out of pleasing man and trying to keep “good ground” with him, never able to fully know God because we are obeying his most important command (Matt. 28:19-20, Philemon 6). 

John 2:24-25, Jesus clearly didn’t have this problem! John 19:8-12, Pilate clearly did, so much so that he allowed it to drive him to hang Jesus up on the cross. Gal. 1:10, Paul seemingly did not have this problem. Gal. 2:11-14, Peter clearly did, so much so that he was preventing the gospel from being fully expressed to the Gentiles because he was trying to please the Jews. Story through story in Scripture we see what and where pleasing man can get you. And my question is still the same, what has man done that he is so worthy of your affection?

This is literally the area I struggle most with. I do and don’t do the silliest things just because I want yall to like me. Matter of fact, I want you to press the like button at the bottom of this page so I can feel good about myself, k owing that you like me! But am I writing this for you, or for me? Or am I writing this hoping it encourages one of you to stop trying to please man, and therefore writing it for the Lord? Hopefully more and more the second as He purifies my heart in Him. 

Man is not worthy yall, please stop trying to please him, and please the Christ, the one who actually purchased you from your sorry state in your sin and gave you life abundantly! The one who gave you joy, peace, hope, love, mercy and grace (and on and on), He is the one you should be trying to please, he is the only one who has done something worthy for it! And if you have not began to follow Jesus because you fear what people may think about you, same question, what have they done for you that they are so worthy of your affection? Made you laugh a few times? Jesus can do much more then that! The approval of man is going to kill a lot of us, may it not kill you. 

Sorry if there are grammatical errors, I did not have time to edit it, please still like me:-)

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Finishing Well


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Out of the 400+ leaders that are mentioned throughout Scripture, only 80 of them finish well. That means that 20% of leaders end well, what an awful number! I know that I am super young in ministry, so you could ask, “Why is he talking about finishing well, he doesn’t even know how to start well!” Truth! However, my greatest fear in life, literally, is not ending well. My greatest fear is that I will lose fire, passion, discipline, courage, zeal, and vision, and end up being this lame old dude who is not making a serious impact on the Kingdom, I just know how to run churches! I have seen far too many of those, and don’t want to be one!

I have seen people who are “wise,” in their elderly years yet they lack any true passion for the Lord. It is like they got tired of running throughout their life, and now they are being carried to the finish line and barely make it across. On the other hand I have seen older people, who although they don’t jump around during worship, they don’t yell like Piper or Chandler, they don’t nearly kill people like I do when I get excited, they have lost no zeal for the Lord, but rather gained true wisdom. They still cry when they think about the lost, they still fight for Biblical truth, they have lost no passion, and they are ending well.

Now, I know that ending well doesn’t necessarily mean ending with passion, passion is not the mark of a Christian living out his life correctly. However, I do think that, along with many other things, is part of it. One of my mentors once told me there are the flames that burn like a forest fire for all to see, but there is also a fire that is hidden in coals. Although the coals aren’t burning for all to see, there is an enteral fire that is strong, maybe even hotter than the forest flames! We see this in Paul’s life for sure.

As Paul was facing imminent death, he was writing to Timothy (2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter) and you see zealousness for the Lord that he still possesses. Paul said that young Tim needs to “fan into flame the gift of God,” and that he was “not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed” (Paul was currently in jail to be executed for his passionate faith). Paul charged Timothy to pass the baton by “entrusting to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” to be a “good athlete” and a “hard working farmer.” Paul said that he, “endure[d] everything for the sake of the elect.” Paul was still “charging” Timothy, and said that, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (Scripture mentioned is 2 Timothy 1:6, 1:12, 2:2, 2:5, 2:6, 2:10, 4:1, and 4:7 respectively)

ONLY 20% OF PEOPLE IN SCRIPTURE FINISH WELL!!! That is a crazy, big, and somewhat discouraging number. So, while I am still young, and while most of you reading this are probably still young, we need to begin to prepare ourselves to finish well. This comes through being consistently disciplined with the Lord TODAY. It comes through loving and knowing the Word, sharing the gospel with all, making disciples, serving in ministry, murdering killing and slaughtering sin, being a good steward, fighting the good fight TODAY! 

When I asked a guy who is older in the faith, but still loves Jesus, how to finish well he said, “You have to finish well today. And tomorrow, you have to finish well tomorrow.” Amen. Psalm 92:13-14 is my promise verse I hold strong to. My translation of it is, “If you root yourself in the Lord. If you fall deeply in love with Him today, and stay steadfast through trails and disappointments throughout life, you will still be a beast in old age!” Fight today to finish well tomorrow, and do better than 20%; our generation depends on it.

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Laziness (Part 2)

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In the previous post on laziness we looked through Scripture at the many different examples it gives about the lazy person, and the sinfulness in being lazy. I want to personalize this one some and talk about what I think is one of the main reasons for laziness in my life, and in many people’s lives around me. The reason I have found so many people are lazy is that we do not know how to properly rest. 

Rest is a very godly thing, if done correctly. Think about this, in the Jewish system God ordained a whole day to do nothing but rest. So, follow my math here for a second; assuming the Israelites slept 8 hours a night, and then actually practiced the Sabbath (which most didn’t!) then they would be resting for 42.85% of their lives! Now, this doesn’t even include other times the Lord ordained for rest like festivals, times after the harvest, or even the Sabbath year! This probably means that about half of their lives were supposed to be spent resting, and enjoying the Lord and what He had given them.

I think the biggest reason the Lord orchestrated this is so that we would be able to frequently shift our minds back to loving and serving Him, and enjoying what He has given us (husbands/wives, kids, nature, etc.). I think the other reason is so that we would never mistakenly think that we were God! See, He needs no rest, but if we go more then 24 hours without sleeping we are like drunken men, and if we do anymore it could get dangerous for our health. The Lord is consistently reminding us that we need Him, even in the way that He has created rest!

Now, back to laziness. We are lazy because we don’t know how to rest. Here’s an example that frequently happens in my life. I work really, really hard one day (I know, I’m a Pastor, most of yall think I just have a quiet time all day!), and come home and am really tired. I know I haven’t actually spent time with the Lord yet, but since I have been doing “the Lord’s work” all day, I don’t really feel like cracking open the Word or praying (even though it always give me Life, every time!). I am too tired, and so then what happens? I hop onto the computer, spend 10 minutes on every one of my favorite websites, and then decide to play a game online or on my phone. I usually think, “Oh, I’ll read after I’m done,” although I know this never happens! After playing for like an hour I feel no more rested then before I played. So then I get back online, and then ask Natalie if she wants to watch TV. Then, when it is time to go to bed, I stay up an extra 35 minutes online again before I actually fall asleep.

The problem with all of that is none of it is actually resting. Actually for the most part all of that is being lazy. Now, I am not saying that anything I did is bad in and of itself, but there is a time and a place for everything right? Often times the way I use my time is a waste of time. Instead of doing things that give my soul rest, I simply waste it away.

I think this is true for many of us. It is different for everyone, but we tend to waste time, and we don’t truly rest. This is what laziness does this to us. We get caught up doing things that we think will benefit us, yet they really just steal energy and joy. Instead of playing games, I would feel so much better if I spent some time with my Savior, or even took a nap!

Sometimes to rest is to just watch movies with friends, or just lie in bed and do nothing, but you have to discern for yourself which is which. I know what being lazy looks like for me, as I am sure that most of you do for you too. Learn how to rest, learn what gives you energy, and what takes it away, or even just leaves you stagnant (doesn’t give or steal energy). For me, reading deep theological books, spending time in the Word and praying, playing sports, or doing almost anything communal gives me energy, and I feel rested afterwards.

Playing dumb computer games, watching TV in long doses, surfing the Internet does nothing but leave me the same as before. These things are lazy, and I think a sin, because it is not what the Lord would have you do. So, this is a small example, but one that produces big results if followed. Don’t be lazy, rather learn how to properly rest. When you do this I think you will actually work harder, and better, and in doing so give more glory to the King! And when you rest in Him, you get to know Him more! A true win-win. 

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Laziness (Part 1)


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Many times in Christianity we think about, confess, and strategically plan how not to do the “big” sins. For men pornography, lusting, pride, etc., always gets confessed with accountability partners. Women tend to deal with control, insecurity with who they are, etc. However in the midst of all of these “big” things going on (which are serious offenses), I think we often miss out on some of the more stealth sins, that are just as deadly (if not more deadly) as the large ones. One of these sins is the sin of laziness.

Laziness is something that I feel like I deal with on a continual basis, and the Lord has been gently rebuking me about this. It is something I deal with because I don’t know how to properly rest (which I will be talking about in the second post on laziness). Throughout this blog though I want to look at the sin of laziness, and what Scripture says about it, and why it is so offensive. 

The book of Proverbs is littered with wisdom against laziness (being a sloth, or being a sluggard or idle). Prov. 10:26, 12:27, 12:24, 19:24, 20:4, 21:25, 24:30-34, 26:15, 19:5, etc. I want to briefly exegete four of these Proverbs:

  • Proverbs 15:19- Scripture shows that laziness actually stirs up trouble for the sluggard, and makes life harder for him, as if walking “through a field of thorns.” This is like when you wait until 4 hours left to finish a project you’ve had for six weeks! Instead of being diligent and working, you were probably being lazy, making life harder.
  • Proverbs 6:6-11- The ant is the opposite of lazy. He is diligent. And even though he has no one “ruling” over him, he gets done what he needs to get done, and is rewarded for it.
  • Proverbs 13:4- The lazy man wants things, but never actually puts in the effort to get them. This leads to entitlement, another deadly sin that our generation greatly deals with (probably from being so lazy!).
  • Proverbs 22:13- The lazy person makes senseless excuses to not get done what needs to get done, causing harm for everyone around him.

See laziness is a sin because God has clearly called us to work, and be diligent with the time He has given to us here on this earth. Ephesians 5:15-17 shows us that the days are evil, and we need to get stuff done, not be foolish and silly with our time! Paul took so seriously the man who was lazy that he said to break fellowship with him, and to not let him eat (2 Thes. 6-15)! Those are pretty harsh, deep words, yet is shows the seriousness of this sin. Heck, even in our pursuit of the Lord we ought not be lazy but passionate (Rom. 12:11). 

Laziness also leads to several other sins. This was David’s problem with Bathsheba. In 2 Sam. 11:1 we see that it was the springtime, meaning the kings were off at war. However, David decided to stay back for some reason. Why? Now, I will confess Scripture doesn’t actually say he was lazy, yet I think it is pretty safe to assume. Israel was doing great, conquering tons of nations, why not just take a break for a while? We also see later in the story that when David brought Uriah back to sleep with his wife to cover everything up, Uriah was like, “No dude. Why would I sleep with my wife when I am supposed to be out there fighting the war with the rest of my men?” Probably shaming David in the process! Laziness is what likely lead David into sin. Not doing what he was supposed to be doing put him in a compromising position. I know, with guys especially, the same is often true with us

Laziness is such a threat that Jesus himself warns very strongly against it. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29, Jesus gives a sharp rebuke to the servant who was lazy. He actually says, “You wicked and slothful servant!” Then he throws him into hell… WHAT?!?! Wow. Now, obviously this guy was not a believer, but God said that he was lazy (probably in pursuing the truth about who God was), and the end result for him was eternal separation. In a somewhat parallel story (although I believe they are different parables) in Luke 19:11-27 Jesus also condemns the lazy servant.  This time it seems as if he gets into heaven, yet all of his rewards are stripped away from him. 

Laziness is serious, and something not to be fooled around with. We would be wise to be diligent, and seek out what the Lord would have us do for Him and His glory. This actually leads to our joy in Him, which is much better then the “nothingness” laziness gives you anyway! Laziness does nothing but steals your joy from you in the long run, why would you give into that? 

I think we often dive into laziness because we feel like “we deserve” a break, because of how hard we have been working. I know this is what I do, and it is usually not even true. God rewards the diligent man, yet obviously laziness is not smiled upon. I could go on and on, yet I think Scripture is pretty clear about itself, don’t be lazy! Laziness is a cheap substitute for genuine rest, which we will look at in the next blog post. 

 

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Trinity in Marriage


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I wrote this paper for a recently seminary class. It is pretty lengthy, but I loved writing it, if you have time, enjoy:-)

Trinity in Marriage

INTRODUCTION

There are several mysteries in the Christian faith that are hard to explain in human terms. Some of them include Jesus being 100% man and at the exact same time being 100% God, or the fact that God is completely sovereign in salvation yet there is clearly some response required in man, as well as several of the seemingly contradictory character attributes that God fully possesses like grace and justice, mercy and wrath, and the list could go on. Perhaps none of them are as deep, hard to explain, or misunderstood as the Trinity. As John Calvin said, “While he proclaims his unity, he distinctly sets it before us as existing in three persons. These we must hold, unless the bare and empty name of Deity merely is to flutter in our brain without any genuine knowledge.”[1] Like Calvin, I believe we should try to understand our Triune God.

I believe along with this mystery, another very misunderstood, and possibly most mishandled relationship, is the marriage between a man and a woman. Since we as Christians believe that man was created in the “Imago Dei,” or the “Image of God,”[2] then this means that our lives should reflect the character, attitude, and relationships that God would. So it is not a wonder then that marriage is perhaps the most mishandled relationship because, like the Trinity, it is misunderstood and incorrectly applied. In this paper I want to look at the relationship of marriage and merge it with the understanding of the Trinity, showing how understanding the latter will help us correctly live out the former. In order to even begin to grasp the full beauty of marriage, we must have at least a basic love and understanding of the Trinity.[3]

Basic Workings of the Trinity

                Throughout this paper we will focus on how the relationship of the Trinity, as well as the mystery of it, helps us understand marriage. As John Piper said, “The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illuminating and awaking work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God.”[4] So, a basic definition of the Trinity is, “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.”[5] Another way to simpler understand this is that God eternally exists as three persons, all of one essence, of the same, unified, complete nature, yet distinct in their working.[6] So how is it that God is three distinct persons, yet one at the same time? Great question! If you spent the rest of your life studying this, you still wouldn’t come close to figuring out this great mystery. However, the beauty of our God, and the core of who He is, is Triune. Understanding this will shape the rest of this paper and our understanding of marriage. I will continually makes ties between the two (marriage and Trinity), showing how I believe that since marriage is the greatest covenant between two human beings, it is the relationship that can best show the beauty of the Trinity, and can only correctly operate between husband and wife with a correct understanding of how the Trinity interacts and exists together.

Trinity as One; Husband and Wife Become One

                Perhaps nothing is as confusing in marriage as to what it actually means to become one flesh. Genesis 2:25 tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”[7] Now humanly speaking, this is literally impossible. It is just as impossible to be born again, so we see why Nicodemus was thoroughly confused when Jesus told him it’s the only way to be saved![8] So what does it truly mean to become one flesh, since this is physically impossible? Well I think since we are created in the Imago Dei, the only way to understand this is to understand how God is one.[9]

                Although God exists in three distinct persons, God is literally one.[10] As Wayne Grudem says, “Scripture is abundantly clear that there is one and only one God… God is only one being. There are not three Gods. There is only one God.”[11] However, God is three persons! The way we best understand this is that the Godhead is so intricately perfect, and deeply complex that all three members are God, equally, yet unique individually. Each member gives the other members glory over and over again. We see the Father placing glory to the Son.[12] We see Jesus honoring God the Father, and calling him greater than himself.[13] We even see Jesus honoring the Spirit, and giving him a lot of glory.[14] So, God exists as three persons, all equally loving each other, and giving glory to the other, yet existing in one.

                So, what does all of this have to do with marriage? Well, if in Genesis 2:25 God is saying that we are literally to be one in marriage, we would only be able to deeply understand this truth with respect to the Trinity. In the Trinity there are literally three distinct people, but they are so unified, and they are one God. In a marriage there are two distinct people, but, what if we could begin to model after the Trinity and begin to try to act as one flesh? I believe that this is a good picture of what Genesis 2:25 is communicating.

Created in the Imago Dei, we are created for relationships, since the Trinity has ultimate relationship within themselves. As God is one God, so we can begin to try to become one flesh. I believe this practically means loving each other so much, that we seek the other person’s will over our own, and seek their good rather than our own.[15] We can lay down our lives for the other person’s sake, and let them know they are honored. Just as the Godhead loves each other well, we can try to love each other so well, that we begin to become one flesh.

Along with this, we can also be so unified in mind that we have the same will, purpose, and desires in life.[16] Just as the Godhead has absolute unity in their plans, so spouses can have complete unity in their plan, beginning to unify them as having “the same mind.”In marriage that should look like glorifying Jesus with all that we have together, and desiring Him above all else. In this we can have the same purpose and begin to unify ourselves. I think this can practically be extremely beautiful, take for example Jesus and the Father once again. Jesus makes a profound statement in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Wow! That is huge! They are so unified that if you have seen Jesus, you have seen an exact representation of the Father. Whatever Jesus did, the Father would have done too! Now imagine if our marriage was the same way. Say that there was a nonbeliever who needed to hear the gospel. What if your husband or wife was so unified with you in purpose that whether they talked to you or them, they would get the same answer, same ideas? Or more simply what if there were unification about basic ideas in life: the way you use money, raising kids, how to spend time, etcetera, that both persons were so unified that if someone asked either one, “How do you use your money?” they would get the same response. Now that would be beautiful, and probably be a huge step toward landing an extremely healthy marriage. Obviously this is not the only thing, and since we are fallen men we will always fall short of this. This should not stop us from trying to be unified with our spouses however; we should try to model the Trinity in that regard.

Trinity as Distinct; Husband and Wife as Distinct

                We won’t spend as much time discussing the Trinity in this section as we did in the last, but it is important to know that just as the Godhead is one, they are also three. This was discussed in both sections above, but a brief overview is that all members of the Trinity have distinct roles, and follow those roles perfectly.[17] All having the same purpose in those roles, they do different things to bring it to completion. This same idea is given biblically in marriage and I believe can best be understood by examining the Trinity and how they carry out their responsibilities differently.

                Paul gives husbands and wives a basic framework of how we are to operate unified, but in different roles in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul sets up several different roles to be carried out in marriage. We see that wives are to submit to their husband, allowing him to lead the family well. This is not a “demeaning” thing as the world would see today; rather, this is a beautiful representation of the Trinity. Jesus submits to the Father and the Spirit to both.[18] No Christian who has any type of correct doctrine would say that Jesus is a little less valuable, or a little more worthless than the Father simply because He submits! That’s absurd, and blasphemous to say. In the same way the wife is not lesser, but just has a different role. According to Titus 2:4-5 wives are to love their husbands, to be pure, to work the home well, respect them, and the list could go on with several different verses throughout Scripture. Husbands also are to love their wives and lay down their lives for them. They are to honor them well (1 Peter 3:7), sanctify her and present her pure before Christ, sacrifice for her using Christ’s sacrifice for the church as our example, and once again the list could stretch on.

                Now in a fallen world, roles begin to get mixed up. The husband doesn’t feel respected, the wife doesn’t feel loved, certain things aren’t getting taken care of the way they should, and marriages end in divorce. The reason is because this is not how we were created. If the Triune God himself, being equal submits, serves, and carries out different responsibilities, then it only makes sense that we ourselves need to do the same. Both of us are co-heirs (co meaning equal, 1 Peter 3:7) of the same inheritance, which is Christ, yet working in harmony, arriving at that differently. The Trinity is the best model to follow, as they serve in different roles, yet each equally deserves worship as God!

Trinity: Perfect Example of Love

                Not only do we have a good example on how to be two different people yet equal, we also have a perfect example of how to love our spouses correctly. The Trinity is the perfect example of love as love fully exists within the Trinity. We know that God is love,[19] and since each member of the Trinity is God, each member loves the other with a perfect love and gives honor where it is deserved. As Dr. Horrell says, “Defined in 1 Corinthians 13, agape [love] is not directed inwardly but outwardly in the sharing and giving of oneself to others. In contrast to Islam, Judaism, and other religions that insist God exists exclusively as one person, the triune God of Christianity is not egocentric, solitary or isolated.”[20] He goes on to say this is why God doesn’t need to create something to love, He simply is love existing within Himself, knowing how to show that to each other perfectly. This too was touched on above, but what if husband and wife responded like this?

                In marriage we are created to deeply love each other. Once again, God is love and thus we need to love each other and learn this ultimately from God. The apostle John tells us, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”[21] As husband and as wife, if we are to reflect the Imago Dei, and truly represent the relationship of the Trinity, we are to love each other, with all of God’s might. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us exactly what love is, which would be a good way to start to understand how to love each other.

No amount of human effort can produce this. We need to learn to adore God above everything first, and be filled with Him and with His love. Then, as John said above, we will naturally begin to love everyone else much more. In a true sense I believe that often is the biggest disconnect. We cannot muster up enough love in and of ourselves to sufficiently love the other person the way God has called us to. This is because God does not try to love, according to 1 John God is love. God the Father doesn’t have to try to love Jesus, or have an obligation that he must fulfill, and this is why the Spirit gets love. No, by no means! Instead God simply is love, and so naturally expresses it amongst Himself. Now, we are not naturally love, rather often opposite! But, if we begin to learn how to love the way the triune God does, our marriages will be much more God glorifying, and more satisfying to us as well as we will receive ultimate love freely and unselfishly (the way God gives to Himself) from our spouse.

Practical Applications: Church in Austin, Marriages Universally

                I am currently the young marrieds pastor at a church here in Austin, Texas, so this obviously has practical applications in my life as a worker in the Kingdom, as well as in my personal marriage. I can think of several ways it should change my own thoughts, as well as marriages globally, and I will list a few now.

CHANGES THE WAY I TEACH- Working in this role I am teaching often on what it means to be married, and how we should respond to our husbands or wives practically. Without a view on the Trinity concepts such as how we become one flesh, different roles, etc., are all just “things the Bible says so we have to believe it.” However with a healthy view of the triune God, we can begin to see how marriage is so precious in His sight, and how we should respond to that. This will change the way I teach about certain topics using God as our prime example as to how we should live life.

CHANGES THE WAY I COUNSEL/DISCIPLE PEOPLE- Often when people come to me personally with problems the same thing happens as when I am teaching. I have great biblical texts to point them to, but no practical example for them to model. So we are left with, “just do it because the Bible says!” Although this should be sufficient, it always helps to have examples to follow and respond to! Having a fuller view of the Trinity will do this. Not only this, but it helps us learn to love God so much more! When we see Him for who He truly is, I believe our hearts begin to fall more and more in love with Him! As Jonathan Edwards says in his analogy, “A statue may look very much like a real man to the eye, the resemblance of a very lively, strong, and active man; but yet an inward principle of life and strength is wanting; and therefore it does nothing, it brings nothing to pass, there is no action or operation to answer the show.”[22] In other words, if we only have something that is sort of real to us, or represents something that is real, but no has good solid proof to model, we are often stuck and don’t know what to do. Now in discipleship I have something tangible to point at in the Trinity and how we should spiritually respond to each other.

CHANGES OVERALL VIEW- Understanding the Trinity in marriage simply changes my overall view of marriage. Instead of just loving my wife simply because she is my wife, I now have a good reason because I get to show her the love of God in doing so. If I become more and more “one” with her, she sees a clearer picture of God, and falls more and more in love with Him. This is my highest desire, for her to love God so much, more than anything and anyone else! If I am modeling this to her more and more (and it is easier to model if you actually understand better what you are modeling!), than she will likely be more in love with God as a result. John Owen talks about this in his book, “Communion with the Triune God.” He talks about how understanding the Trinity will result in helping you to see why we should live our lives in respect to Him and how we can practically carry this out.[23]

CHANGES MY OWN LIFE- Not only should this affect everyone I am helping, but most importantly it should drastically change the way that I view God, and how I love Him. I can now more freely love God, because I understand Him more, especially in the area of my life that is most precious to me outside of Him and the one that I think about and cherish the most, being marriage. I can now more fully understand Him and serve my wife out of the overflow of my understanding of the Trinity.

Conclusion

                There is so much more we could cover with this topic that this paper doesn’t lend time to, overall however I hope this slightly changes the way you view the Trinity and how it could affect your most important earthly relationship. The Trinity not only affects this relationship, but everyone one in life as well, and not only relationships, but also worldviews, ideas, theology, etc. Overall, the Trinity is the only way, I believe, that we can fully understand the Biblical implications of marriage, and what that should look like for us. Understanding the Trinity sheds light about how we are to be unified as one flesh, yet separate as individual people, how we are to love each other well, the way that God loves Himself and us, not in an egotistic way, but freely, self-giving to another person. It also teaches us this should affect the way we read Scripture, teach, and guide others, the list could go on. All in all, we serve a God that is much bigger than we can fathom. Rather than a single being, we serve a single God who is three persons, meaning at His heart is relationship. The same can be true in our marriage. Rather than living a life strictly thinking about self-benefit, we can focus on another freely, and actually live more fully in the Imago Dei. It is not good that man should be alone;[24] God isn’t, so let us freely love someone else and lay down our lives for their honor and glory. To God alone be glory and power, to all their good before ours.



[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, “The Unity of the Divine Essence in Three Persons Taught, in Scripture, from the Foundation of the World” Peabody (Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 67

[2] This doctrine is based out of the truth found in Genesis 1:27

[3] I believe that this is often practiced amongst people without them even realizing it, which is why many marriages are fine, even though they have never thought of their marriage reflecting the Trinity. It’s the same way non-believers can have a “successful” marriage, even though they aren’t Christians, because they likely practice Christian principles.

[4] John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, Wheaton (Crossway Books, 2009), 20

[5] Westminster Confession of Faith, http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/, 1646

[6] Basic understanding of this taken from, Shai Linne, “Triune Praise” The Atonement, Lampmode Recording, 2008.

[7]Genesis 2:24English Standard Bible, Crossway Bibles, 2007. All Scripture references from this point out will be quoted from this Bible unless otherwise noted.

[9] I also ponder if it is a coincidence the fact that we are created in God’s image, and then one chapter later we are told that husband and wife are to be one.

[11] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1994), 238

[12] John 3:35, this doesn’t mean Jesus is greater, just that God is giving him glory.

[15] Luke 12:42 Jesus is seeking God’s will above his own, just as we are told to seek our spouses over our own in Eph. 5.

[16] Just as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn. 10:30), and not just of same essence, but one in will too (Jn. 5:19, 12:49, Jesus does what the Father wants because Jesus wants his will, Holy Spirit is the same).

[17] There are several roles that each member of the Trinity plays. For example in creation (Genesis 1:1, 1:2, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16), in sending the son (Luke 1:35), identifying the Messiah, Providing redemption (The Father chooses, the Son pays their debt and accepts them, the Spirit renews them and produces fruit in them), the list could go on. However they each have distinct roles to play in this story. Ideas taken from, “What is the Godhead,” http://www.gotquestions.org/Godhead.html, August, 1, 2011.

[18] 1 Corinthians 15:28, as well as many other verses show us this.

[20] J. Scott Horrell, “ST 102 Trinitarianism: Class Notes and Readings,” In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Dallas Theological Seminary (Unpublished), 10

[21] 1 John 4:11-12, The NIV Study Bible, Grand Rapids (Zondervan 1995)

[22] Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, Vancouver (Eremitical Press, 1746), 230

[23] John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, Wheaton (Crossway Books, 2007) 153-157

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Created fpr War


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So I was watching X-Men 3 last night with my wife (in response to the new X-Men movie which is good, I recommend!), and in the middle I started thinking, “Man that’d be tight to be Wolverine!” As I was thinking about running around and cutting people’s heads off I got a gentle reminder from the Lord that I would love to share. I think so often we see superhero movies and love them for one main reason, because we were created to be Wolverine on steroids, and we are missing the mark. We are longing for something that we were created to do and to be, yet aren’t, and so we fantasize about them because our soul longs this. Let me explain.

We are in a vicious war, vicious, vicious war. Yet, most of us are casual bystanders, doing nothing to help the cause. There are two sides to this war good and evil (just like in every movie), and honestly that would better be communicated as perfectly holy, just, lovely, and everything good, versus completed depraved, wicked, and utterly sinful, and everything against God. God, the most powerful, holy, awesome, wonderful being ever (most powerful key in this analogy), is fighting against the most powerful thing he ever created in Satan. Now, lest we get confused, God could obliterate Satan in a millisecond if He so desired, and one day will, no contest, but for now there is a war, 2 Peter 3:9 is the reason this war continues if you were wondering. Okay, so there is a holy war going on, and guess what, you are the target and victim, as well as the reason and possession. Now, what are you going to do with this? You long for war, because you were created to be in the biggest one ever! Yet often we do not take a hold of this!

See if you are a Christian, then you are now on God’s team! Ephesians 6: 10-18 hits on this theme very strongly, especially Eph. 6:12. Paul reminds Timothy to be a good solider for Christ (2 Tim. 2:3-4), Peter reminds his listeners that the devil is like a lion, waiting to see whom he can devour (1 Pet. 5:8), the list goes on. I think Peter can definitely understand that his soul was wanted by Satan because Jesus told him that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31-32), but gracefully God was fighting for him! So you are in a battle, and the battle is for the souls of millions, upon millions, upon millions that do not yet know the Lord as their God, King, and Messiah. Your own soul, even if saved, is still being attacked with fear (2 Tim. 1:7), and doubt from our own heart (1 John 3:20, I’ve found new love for this verse!), our flesh acts up and tries to act like we use to act and worship who we use to worship (Romans 7), I mean, this is war! Jesus even very aggressively tells us to cuts off our hands and gouge out our eyes (that’s bloody battle!) if it causes us to sin (Matt. 5:29-30).

John Piper hits at this idea brilliantly in “Don’t Waste Your Life,” he says, “Sometimes I use the phrase ‘wartime lifestyle’ or ‘wartime mind-set.’ The phrase is helpful – but also lopsided. For me it is mainly helpful. It tells me that there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief. It tells me that there are weapons to be funded and used, but that these weapons are not swords or guns or bombs, but the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). And it tells me that the stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite: heaven or hell, eternal joy or eternal torment (Matthew 25:46).” Beautiful.

So, what are you going to do? Now, we have a battle, so men (and women!) please gird up your loins! Please be a man, and not be passive, we need to gather around and fight! Fight for the Kingdom of God. Now, this is done in many ways. I think literally every time we respond in obedience, if if it is small, we are shooting our “guns” at the enemy. However every response opposite I think we are shooting at the air (1 Co. 9:26 type stuff), or we are shooting at our brothers. Which, that will bring me to one quick tangent, please stop arguing and bickering and complaining against each other! Pathetic! We are on a team together, yet we are fighting against each other as much as we are fighting against the enemy! Arguing over things that don’t matter and… yeah, you understand where I am going. K, back on topic, we need to aim at Satan!

Every single move we make matters! Even a smile at a cashier or something, I literally think we are moving somewhere. Jesus doesn’t just ask you to smile though, he asks you to lay down your life for the gospel. Be willing to be martyred for it. There are casualties in this war, but God is using it for good! So, I am sure you follow my thoughts, I just want to encourage you to fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12). In the end, this is serious, more serious than ever! You were created to be Wolverines, so we need to stop puddling around like we are kittens! Get your claws up, do something to advance the Kingdom, make war on your flesh, Satan, wickedness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s partake in the great battle today.

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Contexualizing (or) Putting Legs to Leviticus


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Okay, so I will say that this is coming from studying Leviticus for a long time in my OT class at DTS. I have been thinking, man, people don’t appreciate this part of the Scripture, but it is so rich if you simply take some time to draw it into today’s context (contextualizing). So, this didn’t just come by looking at it, but really studying it, and I am drawing a large portion of this from a commentary that I was reading for my class. But anyway, I wanted to exegete a portion of Leviticus, let me know what you think, hope it blesses. Leviticus 4:1-5:16, if you have time, chop that up.

K, so there are several sin patterns that we see in this section of Leviticus that we, especially we who are leaders, need to heed today. Sin is detrimental, and affects our relationship with God, so we need to be aware of the different sins we tend to commit. As short and brief as possible let me break down seven things that I see throughout this section.

1. Accidental or unrecognized sins (4:1-12): “If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done…” (Italics mine). This is somewhat scary, but true in every moment of our lives. The definition of sin is “missing the mark.” So sin is not just, “don’t murder, or lust, or steal and other “big” stuff, and you are doing okay,” it is literally anything this misses the mark of perfection from a holy and perfect God’s standard. Dang it, so this is the type of sin we probably commit most often. Sins that we don’t even know what we are doing, or don’t even recognize it’s wrong, but we are “missing the mark” that God would have for us. This is a bad start to the rest of this blog if this one starts off so depressing!!! Yes, you are a sinner, and probably a much bigger one than you would like to think!

2. Conforming to sinners (the world) around you (4:13-21): “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally…” Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world. Conformity happens when you are not thinking about the Lord, or are unaware of His commands. Your flesh (since it is sinful) will naturally conform to this world, like cookie dough will naturally conform to the shape of a cookie cutter if pressed in. And please believe me, this world is pressing in! Even if it is Christians that are sinning, and you happen to follow the pattern of their sin, you are in sin! You must not conform, but be transformed, or work hard at murdering your sin, and submitting to God. Conformity happens all too often because people are passive with their faith, and just follow the crowd, don’t do that, follow the Scriptures!

3. Thinking exemption because of our high status (4:22-26): “When a leader sins…” Listen leaders are held more accountable for their actions (James 3:1, Heb. 13:17, several parables, etc). Whether through reward, or through negative consequence, leaders should be extra aware of their sins. In Judges, and honestly throughout almost all of Scripture (minus rare cases obviously) whenever there is a good leader, all of the congregation follows. They are then blessed by the Lord, and experience favor. However, when there is a bad leader, Israel is in ruin, or heading that way! Leaders are not exempt from sin, they are actually held more accountable.

4. Thinking exemption because of our lowly status (4:27-35): “If any of the common people sins…” Just because you are not a “leader” doesn’t give you reign to sin any less. Hebrews 13:7 tells us to mimic our leaders. Wouldn’t this then mean that we should act like them (in holiness, not in sin) and are then responsible before God as well. God isn’t going to look at you and say, “Well okay, you weren’t as ‘important’ so I will let you off of the hook.” That just sounds ridiculous. Now, you may have deeper responsibilities, but most commands are for all people, not just leaders. Mimic the leaders, or as Paul would say, follow them, as they follow Christ (1 Co. 11:1). Greater or lesser, no excuse for sin, and you have the same responsibility, repent (turn away from) from your sin.

5. We don’t do what we know is right (5:1-3): “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity;” James says it straight up, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17). Simple as that! That is also unfortunate, because often I know what I should do, and do the opposite.

6. Speaking foolishly quick (5:4-13): “Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything…” Once again, James 3 is all about taming your tongue, telling you how deeply evil it is. We are to think before we speak.

7. When we thoughtlessly trivialize what is sacred (5:14-16): “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord…” Simply put, when we are not thinking about God, and His greatness, holiness, power and perfection. We are probably neglecting what is sacred, and are likely missing the mark.

So, you are an awful person! Praise the Lord that is not the end. See in Leviticus it often shows the Israelites what the correct sacrifice is for sinning against the Lord, mainly what animal are they to use to atone for their sin. Well Leviticus is simply a foreshadow to something greater. The animal sacrificial system was simply to point us to two main things, the severity of our sin, and our need for a substitute. Praise be to Jesus, that he took on all of these seven categories of sins mentioned above, and became a curse, so that we might live in freedom and perfection, and enjoy the blessing of a restored relationship with the God of the universe. Simply put, we are sinners, do it often, and need to Savior, praise be to Jesus, God incarnate!

 

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