Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 12/30/08

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained. 

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Curtain Rods

You may have already read this or heard it somewhere, but I thought it might be good to laugh today.

CURTAIN RODS—- PRICELESS

She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases.

 

On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things.

 

On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candle-light, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of spring-water.

 

When she had finished, she went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimp shells dipped in caviar into the hollow of the curtain rods.

 

She then cleaned up the kitchen and left. When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days.

 

Then slowly, the house began to smell.

 

They tried everything; cleaning, mopping and airing the place out.

 

Vents were checked for dead rodents and carpets were steam cleaned.

 

Air fresheners were hung everywhere.

 

Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which they had to move out for a few days and in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting. Nothing worked

 

People stopped coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house.

 

The maid quit.

 

Finally, they could not take the stench any longer and decided to move.

 

A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house.

 

Word got out and eventually even the local realtors refused to return their calls.

 

Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.

 

The ex-wife called the man and asked how things were going.

 

He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely and said that she missed her old home terribly and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back.

 

Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he agreed on a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the papers that very day.

 

She agreed and within the hour his lawyers delivered the paperwork.

 

A week later the man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home…….. .

 

And to spite the ex-wife, they even took the curtain rods!!!!!!

We all need a good laugh occasionally.  God bless you and have a great day in the Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Beheading a Prophet

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” Matthew 14:1-13 (KJV)

The third sermon given by Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew has just been delivered by our Master. After the parables of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His home town, and they will not receive Him for who He is. They are too familiar with Him as a child who grew up in the area. This does not mean that He was known as an “honery or mean and vicious, rude or trouble maker child”, but that they are familiar with the family, and that they saw nothing special about Him in His youth and childhood. Part of this may have been due to their own blindness, because after all Mary was a mother before the wedding celebration.

The fame of Jesus had grown though. Herod had heard of Him. This is not Herod the Great who is responsible for killing the male children 2 years and under after the birth of Jesus. This is Herod the Tetrarch.

Mat 14:1 – At that time Herod the tetrarch,…. Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer rightly observes, ‘Herod Antipater, whom they call טיתרקי, “the tetrarch”; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.’” From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword edition.

Herod has already put John the Baptist to death, and then, we are given more of the details of the matter. He supposed that Jesus was John risen from the dead. He sure wasn’t with the news of the day, or that would not have even crossed his mind. Herod is most likely overcome with guilt for his murderous action of beheading the prophet. John had directly proclaimed to Herod that to take his brother Philip’s wife was an act of adultery; and because of this had him imprisoned. He was fearful to have him put to death, because he feared the people; they thought John was a prophet, which he was.

What he would not do because of fear of a crowd he was able to do through the lust of his heart. The power of the lust of the heart fueled and fed by the dance of the daughter of the wife he had gotten by adultery, which the prophet had warned him of was also bringing on guilt. As it should.

The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God’s people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.

—Matthew Henry Concise

Parties, especially those which are known for having liquor, drugs, and dance will be parties where the debaucherous activities go unbridled, and due to mind altering “spirits” will end in the changing and/or ending of lives. You can almost be certain that this party was laden with an unlimited supply of liquor; either wine or strong drink [hard liquor]. The party which Herod orchestrated would end in the ending of the prophet’s physical life, and a life ridden with guilt and fear for Herod, and maybe for all those who had a hand in the death of the man who warned them of their sin. This adulterous wife of Herod knew the heart of her “husband”; that is was filled and fueled by unbridled lust. She too hated John the Baptist. She hated the prophet for his message of adultery against them both. She wanted him dead and would get it by any means possible; even to the lusty use of her own teenage daughter. (There is nothing which tells us the age of her daughter, but still being under the care of her mother one would assume that she is still at home and at least in her teen years.)

John the Baptist had become outraged by the flagrant sin of a leader of the nation of Israel. There was first of all a very incestuous problem within the family with girls marrying their father’s brother, etc. This was the case with Herodias. Philip was her uncle – her father’s brother – and that being the case Herod Tetrarch would have also been her uncle. This thing was being done openly and no one was challenging it or crying out against it; but John did, and was imprisoned and later lost his life because of it.

Where is the courage for our day Christian pastor, preacher of the Gospel? There are people in many of our churches who are committing the act of adultery by unlimited divorce, and remarriage. For no legitimate reason they leave one to go to another. Where are the cries of adultery. One pastor I know and who was my pastor for a while, about six years, once said, and I am not sure this is verbatim, “I was reading this about John the Baptist, realized he lost his head for calling it adultery, therefore I have no business performing marriages of people who have been divorced”. As far as I know he has stuck to that, and I have taken that as my stand as well. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with an older pastor concerning divorce and remarriage. I told him my stand and that I had held to that since near the beginning of my preaching. He told me, “If one of your daughters or sons get a divorce and want to remarry, and they come to you to do the ceremony, you will change your thinking.” I told him “No I won’t, because my kids have more respect for me than to ask, and even if they did my answer would be NO!” My oldest son told me, “I would be too ashamed to come and ask.” When you take stands like that you will lose favor with family, relatives, and friends. Whom are we called to please, God or man, God or family when it comes to morality, and right and wrong? It grieves my heart to tell them that I cannot, or will not, but it is a conviction that I have and will continue to hold. It grieves me even more that someone who knows me, and my conviction would bother to ask.

The Baptist chose God and His Word, even at the expense of imprisonment and his life. We, if we are to be the people of God can choose no lesser way.

The news of the death of the prophet got to Jesus, and it grieved His heart, and He went away to a deserted place for Himself and the disciples. This departure seems to come after the disciples had spent several days out preaching the gospel of the kingdom; by reading this in its context, and following, Mark 6:30-31, and Luke 9:1-10 the departure to a “deserted place” was a different time than for the beheading. Remember John the Baptist was the one who came before Jesus to prepare the way. Are we preparing the way for Christ’s return as He has called us to do so? He is coming back. What condition will the hearts and lives of those to whom we have preached be in? What is the condition of our own heart and life toward God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Most Precious Institution

A PRECIOUS UNION

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Matthew 5:27-28 and 31-32.

“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9.

We have been looking at THE LAW OF GOD AND THE MODERN MAN. We have come through six of the commandments of God four of which deal with our relationship with God, and the latter six dealing with our relationship to our fellow man. We have come to the seventh commandment which has to do with the husband and wife relationship. It is to be one of fideltiy, ie., being faithful to one’s spouse.

Sadly, this commandment has been broken too many times, even in the point Jesus makes in Matthew chapter five. The look of lust is an act of adultery. What male/man, in all honesty, can say, “I have not looked with lust at any woman”? Only Jesus could say that.

The Seventh Commandment deals with all sexual sins. Premarital sex is adultery against the future spouse and marriage. Extra-marital sex is adultery to the present marriage and the spouse. It is a betrayal of trust and confidence. One of the quickest ways to ruin a marriage is to commit adultery. Somewhere in most wedding vows is the words, “…Prefering no other…” or something similar. It not only breaks the promise you made to your spouse, it also breaks the promise you made to God. It does not matter if you had a church wedding or if you were wed in the courthouse, the promise was made before God. You have a relationship with another and you are guilty. Homosexuality is an abomination. Beastiality is an abomination and gross perversion. These latter two are still in the class of adulterous relationships, breaking God’s laws. There are no degrees of adultery.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by the paying of more taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

Adulterous Relationships Are Harmful. Adultery is against society. It breaks down the morality of a good society. Biblical morality has been completely rejected. Things once considered wrong are right, and what was right is now wrong (Isaiah 5:20). Teenage premarital sex is increasing. Homosexual activity is also a form of adultery, and is aggressively pursuing the right of marriage in our country. Thank God that the State Supreme Court of the State of Washington upheld the law declaring marriage is between a man and a woman (July 26, 2006).

When it comes to nations and people – a society which continues in this adulterous path are “Given up” by God (Rom. 1:24-27). It is against the nation. By a nation’s acceptance and tolerance of adultery – homosexuality and teenage sex it degrades the nation – “Sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). If this degradation continues, there will come a judgment on our nation unlike anything that has ever been seen. “Adultery is treason; the adulterer should be tried as a traitor to his nation”. UNKNOWN.

Adultery is against the race. It is against the human race. It is against every race of man.

Worst of all, adultery is against God. David, the man “After God’s own heart” committed the sin of adultery. He was confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-14). David confessed he had sinned against God (Ps. 51:1-5). David had lost his joy (Ps. 51:12-13). ADULTERY IS A SIN AGAINST ALMIGHTY GOD.

In order to understand this issue of adultery we need to maybe, ask, What Is Adultery? The Old Testament seems to relegate it to a physical act alone. In the New Testament Jesus (See above verses) equates it to a look, and a thought – the lingering, longing look and thought that is fed (Matthew 5:27-28″. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15). The New Testament is much more powerful and condemning than the Old Testament law. Adultery becomes more than an act, but a look and a thought. The look and the thought is what leads to the actual act. Left to itself this law offers us no hope. We are guilty. We are condemned.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, The Seventh Commandment Is Valid Today. Matrimony is still a sacred institution and it is reserved for one man and one woman for a lifetime together, and can only be broken legitimately by death of one or the other. Adultery still affects lives and societies, governments, churches, and families in a detrimental way. God still judges adultery. There is forgiveness for adultery. When we love God, we will truly love our spouse, and loving God and spouse is stronger and more valuable than the law. That is this law written in the heart.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Seven Year Marriage

I recently started writing a weekly article which is called “TWO FOR TUESDAY”.  In that category I will be dealing with Marriage, especially Christian marriage, because it is a true Christian marriage that shows the picture of Jesus Christ and His relationship to His Body – the Church.

This past Sunday morning as I was viewing and listening to the FOX AND FRIENDS weekend they reported a story of a woman politician in Germany who was putting forth the idea of a seven year marriage.  She believes that every marriage, at least in Germany, should be limited to seven years, thus there would be no divorces.

I believe her idea was also, if after seven years the couple decide they are happy with one another they can opt to continue their marriage. 

It seems like a joke to me.  Marriage, however is no joke.  It is a sacred institution designed by God, and is a bond which under God is to never be broken.  Jesus did say, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”  Matthew 19:8 (NKJV). 

Marriage is to be a lifetime joy.  A lifetime of sharing with the one you love.  It is between a man and a woman – one man, one woman – for a lifetime.  No matter how you look at Gabrielle Pauli’s idea, it is a bad idea, and even if marriages ended after seven years it is still divorce.  No matter what other name you would call it.

C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E Equals Compromise

Can you spell the word any differently than C-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e?  Not at all.  It is a word which may mean different things to different people.  That is so with a lot of things in life.  None of us agree on everything all the time.  We get along most of the time because we compromise in order to do it.

I am a Baptist.  I also drive a school bus and work around people with a whole lot different beliefs than what I have.  We all get along really well most of the time.  I go and eat breakfast with one of the drivers who happens to be the pastor of a Church of Christ local church.  When we talk about anything “Religious” it is usually about “Pastoring” our churches.  I count him a friend.  I think we both know that there are areas of doctrine and things we disagree on, we are still friends.  I am saying this to get to something that has really got my blood boiling.

That is this.  Why is it in a Baptist Church this word C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E almost always comes up on the topic of the requirements of the pastor of a church, and the issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage?  I have convictions on this matter, and some of the members of the church I pastor do as well.  This is usually concerning the “Husband of one wife” qualification.  This is found in 1 Timothy 3:2; “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”  In the Gospel of Matthew and the Sermon On the Mount Jesus says, “But I say to you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32).

On the  qualification of a pastor being, “the husband of one wife” I have the conviction, as do many others that the pastor of the local church should not have been divorced and remarried.  The office of the Pastor, and the Deacon is a position of example.  His life should be an example to others, and especially in marriage.  It seems to me that a pastor who has been divorced and remarried would be a shame to a church when his home is reflecting the image of the world than the image of Christ and the Church.  I am not saying the pastor should be perfect.  We have all sinned.  I may have gotten away from what got my blood boiling.

Speaking with some people the other day concerning their work on a Pulpit Committee or Pastor Search Committee which was looking for a pastor.  There had been some disagreement concerning a former pastor whom they found out, after he resigned, that he had been divorced and was remarried.  There was dishonesty with this man in the first place – that they did not know this before hand. 

The Committee had discussed compromise  before looking at resume’s of prospective pastors.  What was the compromise?  To not even consider whether the man had been divorced and remarried before.  Who would have been making the compromise here?  Only those who had the conviction that a pastor should be “the husband of one wife”.  The others were making absolutely no compromise.  To overlook whether a man had been divorced and remarried would have caused them to violate their convictions.  Then, what kind of “convictions” would that be?  No conviction at all.

I just find it appalling that those who cry for COMPROMISE on some issues want the one’s who have conviction to compromise, but they compromise nothing.  May God help us have CONVICTION.  A conviction is something you believe strongly enough you stand on it; live or die.  A conviction is something for which there is no compromise.  On this issue of divorce there are many who have no conviction.

Though the world and the “Church” is equal in the numbers of divorces; that alone should cause those of us who are the spiritual leaders of our churches to stand and say we are going to be different than the world around us, have a strong family life, and encourage the families of our churches to build strong families, and homes.  That will start by having CONVICTIONS WITHOUT COMPROMISE.