Jesus Appeased God’s Wrath

the-passion-of-christ_1639599353There is a fine line between God’s law and His grace. God is both just and merciful. He is both a God of wrath and a God of love. His attributes don’t contradict but complement each other. I think people are focusing so much on God as a God of love that they are forgetting His wrath. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden God cursed them and banished them (Genesis 3). When Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling into the mud God struck him dead (1 Samuel 6). And when people were desecrating the temple in Jerusalem with their trade Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove the people out (John 2:13-21). He is a God of wrath and when we disobey Him, dishonor Him, and make a mockery of His Word He is sure to correct us however He desires. And He is completely just in doing so.

I say all that to bring us to the cross. When Jesus died, He appeased God’s wrath. He took all of God’s wrath onto Himself for our salvation and His glory. He bore the wrath of God so that the children of God wouldn’t have to. And if indeed we are the children of God then we don’t have to live under God’s wrath. Instead, He has grace on us when we fail. That doesn’t mean that we can then live however we want for if we truly love God then we will desire to obey Him and follow His Word. But He will extend grace when we make mistakes along our journey of sanctification. God is a God of grace and amazing love because He made a way for us to be shielded from the weight and fury of His wrath. But for those who reject Him, and for those who confess with their mouth but deny Him with their life, they will not escape the wrath of God. Judgement Day is coming and God will not be merciful to those who do not fear Him. Oh but the wonderful love and grace He will display for those He calls His children.

This message of wrath and grace is for sinners. It is for homosexuals, liars, cheaters, and adulterers. It is for people with addictions, people who are striving for perfection, people who are angry, depressed, and hurting. This message is for you and me. Without God’s wrath and without His law we wouldn’t know grace because there would be no need for it. So on this Good Friday I encourage us all to be reminded of God’s wrath and of Jesus’s death which appeased God’s wrath and brought about our salvation. What amazing grace God has on us to sacrifice His Son to shield us from His wrath, to pay the penalty for our sin, and, in the resurrection of Jesus, to give us hope. There is no greater love.

Happy Easter everyone.

Three Things Christians Need to Stop Saying in Response to Gay/Marriage Equality

freeimage-5429390I have been seeing a lot of pictures, links, quotes, articles, and statuses about the legalization of gay marriage and marriage equality. Facebook is blowing up with everyone’s thoughts, opinions, and strong convictions. Some of what I am seeing I completely agree with and stand behind but there have been some things that make me angry. It makes me angry because they are things coming from Christians – people who claim to love the Lord and adhere to His Word. I expect nonbelievers to behave and respond as nonbelievers but when Christians respond in a way that goes against God’s Word, His standards, and His values then I am angered. So here are three things that Christians need to stop saying in response to the legalization of gay marriage and marriage “equality.”

1. “I’m a Christian but I believe that gay people have a right to marry the person that they love. I’m not going to judge!”

This statement is basically saying that “I believe in God and the Bible and I know what the Bible says about homosexuality but I’m completely disregarding that because I don’t want to offend anyone. And I think not judging someone means accepting everything they do and believe even though it goes against God and His Word.” This statement reveals that we don’t understand the word “love” or the word “judge.” Nor do we know what it means to be a Christian. We can’t call ourselves Christians and then blatantly go against God’s Truth all in the name of “love” and “equality” as we have defined it. As Christians, everything has to be put through the filter of God’s Word. What do we believe about homosexuality? Look at God’s Word. What is love? Look at God’s Word. How do we define marriage? Look at God’s Word. And we must let the Bible speak for itself. We can’t pick and choose what we like and what makes us feel good. We can’t impose our presuppositions onto what we’re reading. Homosexuality is a sin because God says so. Period.

2. “Let gays get married so they can be just as miserable as the rest of us!”

The message here is that marriage is miserable. What a terrible thing to say! Marriage isn’t all rainbows and sunshine all the time but it is a blessing and a God-made institution. Marriage is sacred and is used as a picture of the Gospel. That is beautiful! Marriage can be hard and at times it can be miserable but the goal of marriage is not happiness but holiness. And often times the hardest experiences in life are what make us more like Christ. Marriage isn’t the end all of this life and it isn’t the answer to all of our problems but please, Christians, let’s not send out the message that marriage is miserable. What is that saying about our marriages and how we feel about our spouses? That is a destructive idea to promote and it doesn’t glorify God and His gift and design of marriage.

3. “Gay people should be condemned to hell.”

We should all be condemned to hell, gay or not. It is true that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I have my sin issues and you have your sin issues. Any sin on any scale or level is enough to separate us from God. And it is true that homosexuality is a sin and that does separate people from God. It is perverted and wrong. It goes against God’s design for sexuality and gay marriage goes against God’s design of marriage. It is and will always be wrong according to God’s Word. (Read Romans 1:18-32) And it’s okay to say that. It’s okay to call sin for what it is and to remain faithful to God’s Word. Please, do that! But condemnation should be left to God and God alone. We should not hate homosexuals or condemn them. We should not speak harshly of them or hurt them. We are to love them. That doesn’t mean that we ignore what the Bible says about their lifestyle and that doesn’t mean that we accept their lifestyle. To love them means that we don’t condemn them but rather show them grace and show them Jesus. We should love them to repentance.

Please, fellow Christians, stop saying these things. You (and I!) are hurting the cause of Christ. Let us be more of a herald of the grace and truth that we have found in Jesus Christ rather than a tool of the Devil and a promoter of lies. And please, believe me when I say that I am speaking to myself as well. I am no better. Yet God has placed within me His Truth and I must proclaim it not for my own sake but for His. For His Kingdom, and glory, and honor, may we be biblical in our response to the gay marriage and marriage equality issue. No matter what happens, no matter what our government decides, and no matter what you say, Christ still reigns.

Advice for Newlyweds

blurry silhouettes of newlyweds*This is an old post from my personal blog in 2011.*

My one year wedding anniversary is fast approaching and in the year since that day, a lot of people I know have and are getting married. It is the season of life that we are in and it is an exciting time. I want to share some of the wisdom I have gained from this first year of marriage.

There is no formula to a successful and satisfying marriage. There is no manual or recipe. As I’ve told a few brides-to-be, you just have to jump in there and do it and figure it out along the way. You can go to pre-marital counseling (which I recommend), you can read books (which I also recommend), and you can seek the wisdom of mature and godly married couples (again, I recommend). You can do all these things but you will never be prepared enough and know all that you need to know to make your marriage work. All that you need is a faith and trust in God, a covenant of love and commitment, and a lifetime to learn, grow, and strengthen your marriage bond.

With that said, a list of tips, wisdom, and advice never hurts. It can serve as a good reminder and a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Advice for wives:

  • You cannot change your husband. You have great influence over him but you cannot change him. Pray for his heart and God will change him if necessary.
  • Speak words of life to your husband. He needs to know that he’s a hunk and that he’s the only man for you. :)
  • Obey with a quiet and gentle spirit. What he asks of you may not always make sense to you but just do it and when you must speak, speak with respect.
  • Pick your battles. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.
  • Laugh at the things that annoy you (like his laundry being everywhere but the hamper and the silly little things that he does that don’t make sense). It will save you from unnecessary anger and irritation.
  • Be direct. Don’t hint at things…he’ll never get it.
  • Know your husband’s love language and show him respect.

Advice for husbands:

  • Know your wife’s love language and lather her in the love she needs.
  • Study your wife. Know her in every way you can.
  • All women like flowers, chocolates, and being showered with little gifts but at the end of the day all we really want is your love, attention, presence, and approval.
  • Keep the romance alive with sweet words, kisses, hugs, and random outings and gifts “just because.”
  • Take the time to listen to your wife. No, really, listen. Don’t just hear words, listen with your eyes and heart as well as your ears.

Marriage wisdom:

  • Your sex life is a vital part of a healthy marriage. Talk about your sex life and know each others needs.
  • Resolve arguments as soon as possible and do your best to not go to bed angry.
  • Even when there is anger, at the end of the day show some love whether that be holding hands, a kiss goodnight, or just cuddling up next to each other. It’s healthy.
  • Practice patience and understanding. Remember, you are two sinners who come from different lives trying to live as one. It’s not easy for either of you so be understanding.
  • Most of all, remember that marriage is a blessing and a picture of the Gospel. It is not a cure for loneliness, lust, financial issues, unhappiness, or any problems. It is a covenant between a man and a woman and it is a gift given to us by God for His glory. It comes with amazing joy and unexpected problems. It is not like the movies or the fairytale. It is better and it is good when Christ is in it.

The Danger of Sexual Refusal

freeimage-1350986This week I’ve been discussing sex and we’ve looked at how women view sex and how men view sex and we’ve seen that our views are very different. Men typically have a higher sex drive than women and typically care more about having sex. This isn’t true for every male but for the majority this is the case. And women typically care more about the emotional aspect of a relationship. We’ve seen that this is how God created us to be and neither desire, emotional or physical, is better or more valuable than the other. They are both important and both are needed to have a healthy and balanced marriage.

A problem arises when one aspect of a marriage isn’t being fulfilled. There is a problem when a wife isn’t fulfilling (within reason) her husband’s sexual needs. And there’s a problem when we women go to spicy romance novels (otherwise known as “mommy porn”) to fulfill our sexual needs instead of going to our husbands. There’s a problem when we make excuses at night for why we can’t make love. There’s a problem when we let things like the kids, household chores, and errands so sap up our energy that we can’t devote even just a little bit of time to our husbands. And there’s a problem when we refuse to experience a God-given gift with our God-given spouse whom we vowed to love.

I don’t know what your particular issue may be when it comes to sex and I can’t speak to every possible scenerio but when it comes to sexual refusal, when you aren’t having sex with your husband on a regular basis, then you are giving Satan a foothold in your marriage. You are inviting disconnection, discontentment, selfishness, immorality, and temptation into your marriage. The worst of all is that you are disobeying God’s Word which commands us to not deprive each other. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” This verse shouldn’t be used for manipulation but should rather convict you to keep your sex life alive and make that part of your marriage a priority. I do not want to make you feel that you are entirely at fault and I don’t want to burden you by giving off the tone of “You’re not adding up! You’re not doing enough! You need to be better!” We women get that message enough. What I do want is to spur all of us to live a biblical life, even in our love lives, and to fulfill our vows and role as a biblical spouse. And I want us to experience sex as God designed it and meant for it to function in our marriages.

Sex isn’t all about your husband either. It’s about both of you. I don’t want you to think that I’m saying you should just be a good little wife and submit to your husband’s desires because he needs it and God wants you to. I’m saying make sex a priority because it’s important in your marriage for both of you. If you embrace the physical, emotional, and intimate aspects of sex then both of you will benefit. You will both feel good, both of your physical and emotional needs will be met, and your covenantal bond will be stronger. You’ll be closer outside of the bedroom and the ability to effectively communicate and tackle life’s issues together will, in a way, be easier because you have a foundation of intimacy. You will be one. But if you refuse sex, if you aren’t having consistent sex that you put effort into, then you and your husband are both suffering. Your marriage is suffering because you can’t be one emotionally and spiritually if you aren’t being one physically due to refusal.

Sexual refusal is sinful and harmful. It hurts your marriage in that you aren’t experiencing true oneness with your spouse and you aren’t fulfilling your God-given and God-defined role as a wife. It hurts your husband because his physical and emotional needs aren’t being met. And it opens up the doors for temptation and lack of self-control. Protect and better your marriage by creating and maintaining an active and exciting sex life with your husband. It really does matter and it really is important. Your marriage, and your husband, are worth it.

Sex & The Man

freeimage-5871127It’s no secret that men are typically more sexually focused than women. Sex is a huge part of a man’s life and identity as a male. Sex makes men feel like men. It gives them confidence and affirmation in their manhood. In general, it makes them feel good. Men are also visual which only enhances and encourages their sexual focus. When a man sees a pretty woman he doesn’t start thinking, “I wonder what kind of personality she has?” He’s thinking about her body. When a woman sees a handsome man she isn’t thinking, “Dang, he’s hot! I want to see him naked!” Most likely she’s thinking, “Oh, he’s attractive. I want to get to know him better.” No wonder we view sex differently!

Women are highly relational so we value building the emotional connection of a relationship. Men are highly physical so they value sex. And it all goes back to how those things make us feel. An emotional connection makes us women feel close and intimate. We want to know our husbands deeply. We want to talk with them, share with them, and experience life with them. When that emotional connection is strong we feel that our relationship is strong and our need for security is met. For a man, sex makes him feel close and intimate. It feeds his desire to be wanted. When a woman gives herself to him, his manhood is affirmed and it tells him that he’s desirable. While single men can use sex for their own gain (just as single women can too), when it comes to a marriage sex is one of the biggest ways that men feel loved. The reason my husband got so irritated with me for not having sex with him is not because he was shallow and only wanted a physical release. He was hurt because I was making him feel undesirable, unwanted, and unloved. I would have felt the same way if he had gone weeks without talking to me or spending time with me.

For some reason women tend to think that having a conversation is above having sex. That somehow talking with one another is more intimate and sex is shallow. But I think what we need to understand is that God created sex and He created our sex drives. He made our men to desire sex and to pursue sexual intimacy with us (in the marital context). It’s not that our form of bonding (emotional connection through conversation) is better, it’s just that it’s different. Communication in marriage is of great importance and I think that’s why God gave us women the greater desire to communicate. But sex is important too and He gave that greater desire to our husbands. We each have specific needs but one need isn’t necessarily better than the other. In marriage, communication and sex are both important and if we each gave more of ourselves to our spouse’s desire we would have healthier and holier marriages.

So if we know that God created sex and He reserved it specifically for marriage where it would function as a way to procreate and to share a deep physical, emotional, and intimate bond that only a husband and wife could share; and if we know that having sex with our husbands makes them feel desirable and loved, then we should put more effort into our sex life. Embrace your husband’s sex drive and appreciate his desire for you. Honor him by desiring him back. Discover the sex life that God has created you both to have with each other. It will grow your marriage stronger and your bond sweeter.

Sex & The Woman

freeimage-5871124Okay, ladies. This is about to get real.

We’re talking about sex this week and I think it is a really important topic to discuss. Sex is very important in marriage and it is often one of the biggest issues. However, I’ve had some trouble writing a post about women and their view of sex. I have one finished and ready to go but I’m not very pleased with it. I think I’m having trouble because I’m trying to be very careful about what I say, how I say it, and how much I reveal about myself and my marriage. But you know what? To hell with that. I’m not going to beat around the bush.

When I was single I didn’t realize how big of a deal sex was in marriage. I mean, it was one of those things I wasn’t suppose to do and so I wanted to do it because my body said, “yes!” and my heart said, “I want to be loved!” Sex was mysterious and something my body naturally wanted to experience. It was intimate and I wanted to experience intimacy. I knew it was something reserved for marriage because God, my mom, and my youth pastors said so. But I had no idea that sex is vital to a healthy marriage. I thought it was just a bonus, even a reward, for getting married. I figured married couples did it because it was something we all wanted to do and they got to do it all the time! How sex functions and affects a marriage was lost on me, as it is with most single people.

When I got married my view of sex was “We get to do this now with no guilt!” It was great. It was still new and fun. But it didn’t take long for the newness of it to wear off and at some point early on I became uninterested. It’s not that I stopped liking it and it had nothing to do with my husband. I just got busy doing other things and didn’t really think about it. I had the frame of mind that sex was something I did when I felt like it and didn’t really take into consideration my husband’s feelings. In fact, my husband wanting to have sex was shallow. There were better things we could do together. We could spend time together. We could talk. I wanted to feel close to him but I didn’t want our marriage to be all about sex. That seemed shallow.

After a few weeks of no sex, my husband became very agitated. I didn’t know what was wrong until he finally said, “We haven’t had sex in weeks” as he walked out the door. I thought that was dumb but I didn’t want my husband to be upset so I tried harder. As time went on I started to see a pattern. When days would go by without having sex, the relationship between me and my husband would start to suffer. We wouldn’t feel as close, we wouldn’t be as selfless, we wouldn’t communicate as well, and we would be more likely to have an argument. When we had sex on a consistent basis we felt more emotionally connected and our relationship was overall more intimate and strong. And that’s when I learned that sex was more powerful and more important than I thought.

Maybe you have a different story. Maybe you’ve never liked sex or maybe it doesn’t feel good to you. Maybe it’s more of a chore than a pleasure. Maybe you’d like to have sex more often but you’re busy and tired. Maybe you think sex is more for your husband than it is for you. Maybe you have sexual baggage from your past. Whatever the case, whatever influences us to hold a certain view of sex, the overarching issue is that we don’t make sex a priority. We don’t see it as one of the most important areas of our marriage. We’re women and we value friendship, communication, and emotional connection. God made us that way and that is great! Those things are important in marriage as well. But God also created sex and He reserved it for marriage. There is a reason for that. If we view sex as a chore, as shallow, and as the last thing we want to do at the end of the day, then we’re missing out on something God created for us to experience with our husband. We’re missing out on showing our husbands that we love them. We’re missing out on connecting with our husbands in the most vulnerable and intimate way. It may require more work for us women to get in the mood and figure out how to make sex feel good for us. It may require more thought and concentration. It may require overcoming negative views of sex but it’s worth the effort.

So this week I challenge you to evaluate your view of sex and the level of importance you make it in your marriage. For some of you there may be some real issues that need to be worked out but for others it may just be that you need to learn what God created sex for (other than procreation) and how it is to function in your marriage. So do some thinking this week and come back tomorrow to find out how men view sex and then Thursday to see how dangerous sexual refusal can be. My hope is that by the end of the week you’ll have a better (and more biblical) understanding of the importance of sex in your marriage.