Monday, June 22, 2009

It Takes More Than Love

Nineteen years ago, the wife and I sat in a pastor’s office enumerating our woes as wounded partners in an injured marriage of twenty-three years. As we poured out our hearts to him, he patiently sat there listening to every word. I told him that I loved my wife but I was beginning to doubt her love for me and that we were beginning to drift apart.

After I’d finished, he reached into his back pocket and retrieved his wallet. He opened it up, thumbed through a couple denominations, and finally withdrew a twenty-dollar bill. He turned to us and said, “Let me tell you a story about a twenty-dollar bill.”

He laid the twenty on his desk and said, “Just for a moment, imagine that this twenty-dollar bill represents the love that you and your wife have for each other.” He reached across the table, picked up a small stack of papers, and continued, “. . .and let’s further suppose that this stack of papers depicts the differences, the arguments, and all the garbage that you’ve gone through in your married life.”

He methodically began placing the papers, one at a time, on top of the twenty-dollar bill naming each one: “Here’s a little dissension. . .here’s some jealousy; how about some anger; there’s some impatience; oops, there’s some unkindness.” He continued stacking them, “. . .lack of self-control. . .disharmony. . .stonewalling. . .bad attitude. . .oo-o-o and here’s a bad tongue and some nit-pick.” He wasn’t done yet. “Here’s some control. . .lording. . .lack of gentleness and sensitivity.” The man was a prophet.

By the time he was done he had close to two-dozen papers on top of that bill. “This seems like a lot,” he said, “. . .and. . .it is. . .but over time you can see how all the garbage tends to stockpile and cover love up, one sheet at a time until. . .” he held out his opened hand toward the invisible twenty-dollar bill, “. . .until you wonder, where is the love at? This is where you’re at right now,” he said, “As you affirmed at the beginning of the session when you said that you still loved one another but doubted the others reciprocity.”

In subsequent sessions we learned how to work through the “stuff” that covered our love. Our starting assignment before the next session was to do something nice for the other. We were to share this in the next session along with how it made us feel.

After three days, I knew what I was going to do. I went to a retail store and bought the prettiest silver picture frame I could find and placed a twenty-dollar bill in the center of the glass, wrapped it, and presented it to her over a dinner at Sharis, our favorite restaurant. She loved it. . .and I loved giving it. Hopefully, we were on our way to recovery because the love. . .“was still there.”

It is amazing what a simple act of kindness will do to the complexion and perpetuation of a relationship. . .or marriage. There is hope for us all but things get quite a bit more complicated when we leave God out of the equation. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says:

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Christ should be the backbone of the relationship and marriage. Otherwise, we give a foothold to the enemy and his minions. Many times it takes more than love.


Next week: Christian Twelve-Step Program If there are problems in a marriage, I can guarantee you that the Lord was not at the center of that relationship. Therefore, before we start pointing fingers at each other, we need to ask ourselves six important questions. However, when we do talk, there are definitely some rules of engagement. I give six of them. This blog will be short, sweet, and to the point.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author

Check March archive or my Web page for explanation of my names.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Lily of the Valley

The Song of Songs 2:1 says something that I have read a hundred times but did not grab the meaning of, until the Lord showed me. Men, we need to pay close attention here. Listen as the bride speaks, “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys." Can you feel the confidence in her attitude about herself? Can you discern the condition of her self-esteem and her self-worth at that moment? She had total faith and trust in Solomon and his love for her.

Her attitude about herself was due entirely to Solomon and his love for her. She was very secure in his love. Solomon put her so high on a pedestal that she could not help but feel like a rose. Look at how many times throughout the Song of Songs that Solomon reaffirms his beloved of her beauty and his love for her.

Solomon caught that significance when he, in chapter four verse four, said, "Thy neck is like the tower of David. . .” and again in chapter seven verse four, “Thy neck is as a tower of ivory.” In other words, it was an erect, proud, and confident stance as she thought in terms of her relationship with Solomon.

I am wondering how many of our wives have the same, secure, confident feeling of who they are in our love. How is their self-worth because of our love toward them? There is an old saying that says, “If you are called a dirt clod all the days of your life and you look into a mirror, all you will see is a big brown spot.”

Men, is your love a demonstrative love or is it an "I love you" spoken token, said in passing? When your wife stands in front of her mirror, what does she see, a brown spot, or a rose?

As the bride of Christ, I wonder how many Christians today do not have those same feelings of security and confidence of who they are in Jesus Christ because of His love toward us. How many of us have learned to discern the Lord's body, because we are the fullness of Christ in us?

Is there a sense of knowing in our know'er that Jesus Christ gave His life for His bride? Do we feel like a lily among the thorns? Can we stand tall and erect like the Tower of David and with confidence say, "I am the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, a lily among the thorns."

This is my translation: "I am a Christian, a true believer in my Lord, Savior, master, and husband, Jesus Christ. I know the depth of my Lord's love for me. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of my God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord and soon coming husband. I am more than a conqueror(s) through Him that loves me. I feel secure and confident in that love, and I am as the lily among thorns. No weapons formed against me shall prosper and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, because I have the revelation of who I am. . .‘in Christ.’ I am an important person to Him. I am the 'Rose of Sharon' His bride."

Christ has done it all for us on the Cross. All we need to do is receive it and not doubt. Therein lays the problem: it is not Christ’s fault. He is a perfect husband. We are not a perfect bride. . .yet. Too many of us are living in doubt and defeat. So like I said, "Just receive who we are. . .'in Christ.'"

Jesus Christ is coming back for a whole bride to present Himself to her. He is coming back for a Bride not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish, with no brown spots in the mirror.

The body not only needs to be in a passionate loving relationship with Christ but she needs to be in unity and harmony with one another, especially in marital relationships. Our horizontal relationships release insights into our vertical relationships with Christ. We need to know the significance that Jesus has for His Bride. We are the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley.


NOTE: I was traveling this last week and was unable to get to a computer to upload this Monday’s blog. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Next week: It takes more than Love. I tell the story of a twenty-dollar bill as told to me by a pastor many years ago. At the time, I was still married and she and I were trying to work through some problems. If we don’t keep God in the picture, things can still go awry.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author

Check March archive or my Web page for explanation of my names.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What's Important?

Three weeks ago I watched a 1998 movie, Deep Impact, with Robert Duvall and Tea Leoni. The movie was about an asteroid, the size of New York, that was heading for Earth in true “Armageddon style.”

America decided to send up a spaceship to destroy the monstrous asteroid but they failed. However, they finally succeeded, at least, in busting up the asteroid into two pieces: one smaller piece, and another larger piece, but both of them were still heading for Earth.

They all knew that their destruction was eminent so they devised a plan to save one-million people, two-hundred thousand of which were doctors, scientists, and the like. They ran a lottery for the remaining eight-hundred thousand.

The asteroid’s smallest piece eventually crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just offshore and the subsequent tidal wave destroyed the Eastern Seaboard to deep within the interior, I think, as far as Ohio. The water, however, eventually and fully receded to the original shoreline. The crew, sealing their deaths, flew the spaceship into the heart of the larger piece, destroying it, thereby saving the world.

Tah-Dah – The End.

Although Deep Impact was a predictable movie, it was fun and a break from reality. However, one spot toward the end had a ‘deep impact’ on me. Let me digress.

During the roundup process of those who won the lottery, people talked about what they should take? Personally, the subliminal sub-text was what’s important? The people knew that the prospect of certain and eminent death puts things into perspective r-r-real quick.

They would be safe where they were going until the Earth healed from the affects of the asteroid but when they returned, man would have to start all over again. So. . .what should they take? What was important?

If today presented us with the same scenario, what would you save for posterity? Would you take the works of Shakespeare, Thoreau, Dickens, and Mark Twain? What about saving the works of the great composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Stravinsky, or Shubert? Do you think medical books might be of some use to the future of man? How about taking a computer, for where would we all be today without one? Many of man’s modern advances would surely benefit a brand new world. There was so little time left and so much from which to choose?

No one is getting out of this world alive, I understand that. However, I wonder how many of us, including me, would live our lives differently knowing that we didn’t have much longer to live. I would imagine that it would be hard to know we only had a year left or maybe a month, a week, or even a day, but the eminent proximity of that exact moment would certainly exacerbate our stress levels, to say the least. Would our lives and perspective change, if we knew this? What would be important to you?

For a day or two after the movie, I still contemplated the thought, “Death and what’s important?” I had a hard time getting those people and families out of my mind especially for those left behind. I didn’t think of what to save in the above movie terms, but I thought in terms of the rapture and the end of the age. As Christians, we are looking at that moment square in the face. It is certain and eminent.

Then I look at the world and see millions of people who need to hear about Jesus, some for the first time. I see strife, broken friendships, busted marriages, greed, a run amuck government, and schisms in the body. All the bickering amongst the brethren saddens me - eternal security, no eternal security; baptism by dunking, baptism by sprinkling; pre trib, mid trib, post trib – my goodness. Some even criticize the way others worship God. May God help us all.

It finally dawned on me that as Christians, our metaphorical asteroid is about to hit Earth. I have to ask myself, with the eminent rapture of the church at hand and the end of the age close by, what’s important.

I personally concluded that as long as we believe that Christ hung on the Cross, died for us, arose on the third day, and many seen Him, then we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. In 'that day,' at that moment, nothing else matters. . .nothing! Christ left us with just one job, “. . .Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Praise God however, that when our asteroid hits, God also has a plan to take us away and keep us safe. Only there’s room for everybody, not just a million people. . .and hallelujah, there will be no lottery needed. Christ is coming for all of us who believe and in the twinkling of an eye we will all. . .


Next week: Lily of the Valley. While writing my second nonfiction book, the Lord gave me some insights during my studies of the Song of Songs. I would like to share one of them with you. Prayerfully, this will help you avert any horizontal and/or vertical relationship problems.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author

Check March archive or my Web page for explanation of my names.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can a Christian Remarry?

I am a sixty-six year old Christian man and have just about run my course. I’ve worked life’s process for over forty years supporting and protecting my family. I’ve done most things that life has required of me. I may not have been the best at it. . .but I’m proud of what I’ve done.

Now should be the time for me to settle back into my recliner and share the journey with my spouse. Instead, I sit here in a one-bedroom apartment by myself listening to the infernal tick-tok. . .tick-tok. . .tick-tok of my wall clock as it records each and every passing and agonizing moment for posterity.

Every second reminds me of the empty chair at the kitchen table, the missing knick-knacks on the shelf, the smell of freshly baked bread, and the yell from the dining room, “It’s time to eat.”

The quietness was deafening and the loneliness almost unbearable. I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life but I was nowhere near ready for a relationship; friends, maybe. When the time came, could I find love again or did I even have the right to try, especially when God’s Word tells me in Matthew 19:8 that I’d commit adultery if I remarried. This did not sound promising. It looked as though I’d be alone for the rest of my life.

Perhaps this was your initial reaction, too. If so, I understand, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Have you ever wondered how this could be so? I know I have. I thought this couldn’t be true. Wasn’t God the God of second chances?

When the rest of my life was at stake, I knew I’d have to make a study from the original text to see what God actually meant. Hebrew and Greek word studies accomplish two things: they help us to understand what God was trying to communicate to us through the Bible and what He actually meant when He said it. Knowing what He meant thereby helps us to keep things in the proper context. Context is all-important.

With the Old Testament written in Hebrew and the New Testament written in Greek I knew I needed to make a Greek word study of Matthew 19:3-12. I found in verse eight, that the Greek word for “Put away” is Apoluo. This is a general word and does not have a legal context. It means to separate, depart, go away, or, as used in Matthew 14:15 to send.

The context of this passage is separation, in that the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus and justify their practice of separating from a spouse (without a written divorcement) and remarrying somebody else. This was a common practice of the day.

Through the original Greek word study, and in context, we learn that this passage isn’t speaking of divorce, it is speaking of separation. Otherwise, Paul (God) would have used the word, Apostacion.

Addressing each and every scenario I.E., believer marrying non-believer, separation, divorce, death, and etcetera, is beyond the scope of this simple blog. However, I would like to draw your attention to one more Scripture that prayerfully will help us nail things down. I refer to 1 Corinthians 7:27, 28a, which says:

v27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
v28a But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. . .

Notice how the virgin and the divorced person are in the same category. Neither one have sinned if they marry. When Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, in verse twenty-seven, “. . .Art thou loosed from a wife?” the Greek word he uses for “loosed,” is Luo. This word means dissolved or divorced. It actually has to, otherwise, God, through Paul, would contradict Himself in verse twenty-eight because it is a sin to remarry or have sexual relations with another person if only separated.

God’s Word also says that, it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). The Word says further that, it’s better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:8, 9).

In any event, let’s set the context and word studies on the shelf temporarily and just look at our Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ took care of everything on the Cross and while He was on that Cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them. . .” (Luke 23:34). When we read that passage we notice that He did not say, “Father, forgive them. . .except for divorced people. . .”

Although remarriage is not a sin, but even if it was, 1 John 1:9 would still cover us, once and for all, especially if we’d done everything in our power to stay married.

So, for those who want to remarry, I say, be not condemned but be ye loved of the Lord and go with peace, for it is the will of God (1 Corinthians 7:15; Luke 2:14; Luke 24:36; John 14:27; John 16:33, and many more).


NOTE: If you are still married or are considering remarriage you might locate one or all three of these books as a preventative to divorce or as an important help in a new marriage so that you might stay away from divorce court.

Becoming One by Joe Beam
His Needs Her Needs by Willard Harley Jr.
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I learned more about a woman (and people in general) than I have ever learned in my life from Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. It was too late for me but prayerfully, one or all of these books will help you. God bless you all. When and if I remarry these will help me to stay that way. . .this time.

Next week: What’s Important? While playing the part of a film critic, I found a nugget that made me stop and think. I pray that it makes us all stop and think.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday. Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author

Check March blog archive or my Web page for an explanation of my names.