Sunday, September 6, 2020

Marriage is Hard, Especially if you start one without being prepared!

Here are the topics I am going to cover:
  • Why get married at all?
  • Marriage is Hard
  • Unmet Expectations
  • Communication is Difficult
  • More Sacrifice Required Than Expected
  • Hurts, Habits, and Hangups
  • God's Design and tool for refinement.
  • Conclusion

 TL;DR:  Marriage is harder than you think. Do yourself a favor and don't get married, just because you found "The one". Get married because you have prepared yourself to be "The one" for your future spouse and they have done the same. Read the right books and take the right classes.  Only together with God can you and your future spouse start and maintain a healthy marriage.

 

Why get married at all?


   If marriage is so hard, why get married? Many good things are hard. Often the harder it is, the better it is.

  • Shared difficulty creates stronger bonds
  • God's design for the family.
    • Children do better in two parent homes.
  • Having a companion to go through life.
  • Many things are easier with two.
  • Often your spouse is stronger in areas that you are weak.
  • A healthy marriage often forces us to grow and improve in ways our unmarried self would not.



Marriage is Hard


   Marriage is hard. Not pop quiz hard. Not final exam hard. Much more than that.  It is difficult to properly convey the difficulty of marriage to someone who has never been married.  I will attempt to convey some of this concept with a thought exercise:

    Imagine you have selected a partner for a major project. The project is a problem solving contest monitored by judges. You are allotted time to prepare. You decide to skip the preparation, because you are great at problem solving! The judges put you both into a room together, provide materials, and basic instructions.  They start a large timer on the wall, and tell you to begin.  At first things start going well.  You like the partner you have chosen, and following the instructions seem easy at first.  As time goes on you realize that your partner is not behaving as you expected. They are not following the instructions.  They don't seem to have the skills you thought they were bringing to the project.  You start to realize that their native language is not the same as yours. They only know a small amount of words in your language. Their interest in the project seems to swing wildly from intense passion to completely uninterested and you don't understand why. They seem to be undoing some of the steps you have already done for the project. You get frustrated and find yourself getting very angry at your partner. You confront them.  You find out that they have brought their own instructions with them. They have been following their own instructions, not the provided ones.  You are furious. You grab their instructions and compare them to the official instructions. You find they don't match-up much at all. You look closer, and realize that the official instructions don't look very familiar. You are confused. You put your hand in your back pocket and find a third set of instructions.... your instructions.  You haven't been following the official instructions either!  You look up at the timer on the wall.  You realize that you are way behind in your project and you aren't even sure how to start over properly, because your partner seems like an alien from another world who can't communicate with you. Also, you are considering throwing out the official instructions, because your instructions seem easier and more natural. 
    
The timer starts beeping loudly and the judges enter the room.  They inform you that you have failed the contest. You ask what place you ranked.  They say it doesn't matter, because most of the contestants also failed. You are caught off guard by this statement.  "What happened?" you ask. The judges tell you that most everyone skipped the preparation time and did not coordinate in advance with their partner to establish common skills, communication, or even a common direction. Then the judges tell you "It's OK. the failure rate is high, because this problem solving contest is unlike any other."

 This short illustration should help convey the difficulty of marriage, but it by no means properly conveys the complexity, depth, and multi-dimensional nature of marrital difficulties.

Unmet expectations

    Unmet expectations are one of the leading causes of marriage problems.  These expectations are developed in us by our families, movies, entertainment, friends, culture, and much more.  We have these expectations, but we don't normally know they exist until we are married and these expectations are not being met.  Many specific marriage problems fall into this broad category.  Often even when these expectations go unmet, we don't realize it right away.  We first have to ask ourselves deeper questions about why we are upset. Then we have to ask what is behind that feeling or thought. Then we repeat until we have gotten a few layers down into our own mind. Only then can we realize the unmet expectation and start asking our-self where the expectation came from and if it is reasonable.

Book:  Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman
https://www.amazon.com/Things-Wish-Known-Before-Married/dp/0802481833/


Communication is Difficult

    Deep, meaningful communication is required for a healthy marriage, more than most every other area of life.  It is difficult to teach this skill, and life experiences often don't cut it.  Especially if you are young and you have not had very many life experiences.  On top of all that, remember that even if two people are equipped for the deep, meaningful communication that is required for marriage, they still have to speak the same language!  You might both be on the same page with the ideas and thoughts, but converting those ideas and thoughts into communication the other person understands is very hard!

https://www.christianbook.com/page/personal-growth/leadership/communication-skills


(!) One area of communication that is critical is the ability to say "I love you." It is common to believe the misconception that everyone says and receives love the same way. Don't make that mistake! Read the book below instead.

Book:  The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
https://www.amazon.com/Love-Languages-Secret-that-Lasts/dp/080241270X/

 

More Sacrifice Required Than Expected

    A healthy marriage requires a lot more sacrifice than you think. Whatever you are thinking about sacrifice right now, triple it.  Being a parent will double down on that. Starting a marriage and becoming a parent at the same time are not recommended.  Try getting married first, and then having children.  Turns out that following God's design for the family is a good idea.
    Marriage is about love and love is about putting others first. Not just some of the time. Constantly! Go read Corinthians 13 four times and then ask yourself if you are good at those things.  If the answer is no, then you may want to get some resources on dealing with those issues before you get married. If you are already married, start working on those issues now.  Don't wait.

 

Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups

    Everyone has something about them that falls into the category of hurts, habits, or hang-ups.  Turns out humans are broken, sinful people and you are a human. Sometimes your hurts, habits, or hang-ups comes from within yourself, and sometimes it originates from an experience that another sinful human did to you.  Either way, these things do not heal themselves.  You are not strong enough to fix this yourself.  You need God, resources, and other people.  Deal with these issues sooner rather than later, or you'll look back at your life in 10 years and see a trail of pain, broken dreams, and damaged relationships.  Often the first step is the hardest and most important. Find a trusted friend and tell them what your problem is and ask for help.  I recommend a mature, Christian friend.  Hopefully you will find that the person you talk with understands because they are not perfect either.  It is OK to admit we are broken.

Note: there is a small risk that the person you tell will respond badly and hurt you.  After the dust settles, try hard to not let that stop you from seeking another, more mature person to tell. The risk of not dealing with your problems is always worse than the pain of rejection.


God's Design and his tool for refinement

     God created marriage. He is the designer. The Bible is his guide book on how to operate life and marriage. If you choose not to apply the Bible to your marriage, do so at your own peril.  People tend to get marriage skills and marriage advice in all the wrong places.  If you want a strong marriage, put God at the center and follow Jesus with your whole heart. The health of your marriage will be directly proportional to the health of your relationship with Jesus Chris.
    Some people wonder why marriage isn't easier. Why did God make marriage so hard? Did he do that on purpose?  I believe God designed marriage as one of the primary tools he uses to shape the heart and soul of married Christians.  Without marriage I would be much more selfish, self-centered, thoughtless, unkind, unaware, impatient, and much more.  Your marriage is a special, challenging adventure where you, God, and your spouse can grow closer to each other.

Conclusion

    At this point I may have scared you off from getting married. That was not my intent.  Hopefully instead you will consider preparing yourself for marriage.  God has created marriage as a beautiful, amazing, confounding, challenging, mysterious, wonderful, gift.  Preparing yourself and selecting a spouse who has also prepared themselves for marriage has the ability to make your marriage a bright spot in your life.  Build your marriage on God, the one who designed marriage, and your marriage will be a blessing for generations.



Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bible Archaeology: Camels and copper mines


These are good reads.

It seems that "new discovery disproves bible!" is a headline the world loves to print whenever they can stretch the truth that far.

King Solomon's Copper Mines?

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027174545.htm

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/03/king-solomon-mines-bible-timna-dung/


Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Account of Camels

http://www.increasinglearning.com/blog/archaeology-confirms-the-biblical-account-of-camels

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Is Jesus God? Did Jesus claim to be God? Only in the book of John?




How did Mark view Jesus: A good teacher or the Messiah?
https://www.michaeljkruger.com/does-the-gospel-of-mark-present-jesus-as-god/



https://crossexamined.org/was-the-deity-of-christ-a-legendary-development/

(there are some suggested resources at the end of that article if you want more info)

Was Jesus a Real Person in History?


Here is an article from CrossExamined.org that covers two of the most well known extra-biblical sources for information on Jesus. It talks about the strengths and weaknesses or their work and makes mention to other extra-biblical sources:
https://crossexamined.org/why-should-we-trust-the-extra-biblical-references-to-jesus/


Recommended Book: The Historical Jesus by Gary Habermas


Quote from the book:
“While most scholars today recognize that Jesus was a historical figure, there is a small group that still does not. Habermas reminds the reader that the popularity of a particular position does not provide legitimate evidence, in or of itself, for the historicity of Jesus, so this book will examine the evidence that has convinced the majority of scholars that the historical Jesus existed, and it will make the case that the historical Jesus is the Jesus of Christianity.”


Here is a review of the book on CrossExamined.org. This review provides a book summary chapter by chapter:
https://crossexamined.org/book-review-the-historical-jesus-ancient-evidence-for-the-life-of-christ/


If you like the topics mentioned in the review, then you should probably buy the book.

Amazon link for book:
https://www.amazon.com/Historical-Jesus-Gary-Habermas-ebook/dp/B01GKLSI8S/


This might be somewhat off topic, but this was an interesting read. This article covers biblical and extra-biblical evidence for the “darkness” mentioned during the death of Jesus.
https://creation.com/darkness-at-the-crucifixion-metaphor-or-real-history


This article overlaps with the articles above, but also mentioned a few other sources not mentioned in the other articles for more writers who mentioned Jesus.
https://crossexamined.org/is-the-historical-jesus-fact-or-fiction/

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Letter to Skeptics

Where We Are At Now
   It is likely that your views of religion (or at least of the claims made by religion) are not very high. This is understandable given the times that we live in. We live in the information age. That much information means we are exposed to more ideas and more statements about life, reality, truth, and the world around us in a year than past generations would hear in a lifetime. It is a confusing world we live in where you can be exposed to a dozen religions that all claim to be the only way to salvation, and at the same time hear that most religions are essentially the same and all lead to salvation.
   Then there is science. Do we really need religion anymore? Hasn’t science explained all the unexplained things from the past? Hasn’t science disproved God? Hasn’t science explained where all things came from without this archaic dependence on religion and God? Hasn’t science brought us so many advancements in technology that it has proven itself worthy of our trust? If something is still unexplained won’t science explain it if we wait long enough?
   It’s no wonder that people are confused about the big questions in life. Most have given up caring about the big questions and even if they did care, there is no way they could navigate and process all the information out there to find real answers. Many have given up on finding absolute truth and instead settle for personal truths that are meaningful to them. We now live in a world where statements like these are common: “There is no truth.”, “All truth is relative.”, “There is no way to know the truth.”, “All truth comes from science.”, “That is true for you, but not for me.”, and many more.
   So what do we do know? Where do we go from here? Is life meaningless unless we create our own meaning?


Moving Forward
   If we want to progress beyond this place of confusion and apathy, we must consider that just because there is a lot of noise and contradicting claims, does not mean that real answers do not exist! We need to consider the implications of real answers and let that possibility motivate us to push through the noise and the chaos. If you could be reasonably sure about the answers to life’s big questions would you want to know?
   I hope your answer is yes, but for many the answer is no. They are more interested in their own happiness, than they are in truth. Truth is only useful to them if it increases their happiness and supports the life they want to live. You will never find life changing truth if you rule out any conclusions that you may dislike before you begin searching. This will only result in a half-hearted truth quest that fails before it starts. We have to remember that if the only truths we accept are the ones we like, then we are not really seeking truth. The only question left to ask is: Can you handle the truth?

The Limits of Science
   Science is a wonderful thing that has brought forth many great inventions. However, we must be careful not to take the successes from a few areas of science and apply it so broadly that we think all science is the arbitrator of Truth.  Many people have taken the position (some knowingly and some unknowingly) that all truth worth caring about comes from science or from science like observations. Another way to say it is "All truth comes from science." This is a self defeating statement that cannot be proven scientifically.

Also, have you considered that science, like many areas of life, contains mistakes, fraud, and deception?
Further reading on the reliability of and fraud in science:
here, here, here, here, and here.




A Claim to Consider
  In John 14:5-7 Jesus claims to be the way, the truth, and the life. A preposterous claim. Especially if you never really studied the claims of Jesus and the logical evidence that supports his claims.  I suggest before outright rejection we should ask ourselves:

"Have I really looked at the claims of Jesus and the evidence for those claims or have I simply discarded them from consideration because they challenge too many of my already established beliefs?"

John 14:5-7
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”


The Alternative?
     What is the alternatives to Christianity? The alternatives to following Jesus fall into three main categories: other religions, apathy, self-worship.

- Other religions: Many people mistakenly believe that Christianity is about being good in order to get into heaven. This is false. However, with most other religions, this is true. Being good (they might use different words for good) is what earns them salvation.  This can satisfy the mind only until the person asks themselves: How Good is Good Enough?

Also, anyone who worships science as the ultimate arbitrator of truth, is likely in this group and the third group below.*

- Apathy: most of the members of this group don't know they are a member. They simply don't care about the meaning of life or whether or not there is a God. They just want to be left alone live their life and to find fulfillment where ever they want to look. Ignoring truth doesn't make it not true, and it doesn't make it go away. God's existence is not tied to what you believe.

-Self-worship: This is a very common worldview in our post-modern world, but most adherents to this way of life don't realize they are members.  If you are the decider of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong, of good and bad, then you are a member of this group. Many people in this group live by the mantra "If it feels good do it!" or maybe a similar one of  "It's not wrong if it doesn't hurt anybody, but me." Many in this group will use other labels for themselves (atheist, agnostic, etc...), but ultimately they are depending of themselves to determine what is true about reality.


*Any set of beliefs or views about reality that attempt to answer questions about: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny can collectively be called "religion".


Hypocrites!
   Do you hate Christianity and churches because their full of hypocrites?  People who mention this a lot fail to consider that you cannot be a hypocrite if you don't attempt to live according to a standard. There will always be less hypocrites in groups of people who have very low standards or who have no standards. Christians who attempt to follow Jesus are trying to live up to a very high standard and they will likely fail at times to live up to this standard; even while speaking to others about this standard. There may be a lot of hypocrites at Church, but if we look at ourselves deep enough we will find that we are all hypocrites at times.


The Arrogance (Exclusiveness) of Christianity
   Many times people will accuse Christians of being arrogant, because of their claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. The thing about truth is that truth is always exclusive. Listen to short audio clip from Ravi Zacharias talking about this topic.



Here are some relevant videos:

Does God Exist: Exclusivity - https://youtu.be/jtRbSv4lkkg


What Brings Us to Believe That Christianity Is the Exclusive Way to Truth?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N77D4dUgP4&t=321s
Exclusive claims from other religions:
http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2017/08/02/exclusivity-claims-major-world-religions/

Frank Turek on other religions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGxdBA3AAho

Further Reading:

Don't feel like reading? Watch some videos instead:
YouTube: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
YouTube: Cross Examined








Sunday, February 2, 2020

Some Good Bible verses to memorize and/or study

Proverbs 1:7 New International Version (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Romans 10:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Colossians 2:8 New International Version (NIV)

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
John 8:56-59 ESV
Jesus speaking to the pharisees….

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”[d] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


Mark 12 New International Version (NIV)

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

John 18:37 English Standard Version (ESV)

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”