Tag Archives: family

Why Waste Time on Such A Broken-Down Beat-Up Organization as the Church?

Jesus’ mom and brothers try to speak with him but they can’t because he is surrounded by crowds of people. Someone tells Jesus that his family wants to see him, but he surprises everyone with his response.

Jesus asks, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” That would seem obvious. Jesus, however, is full of surprises.

Jesus motions with his hand toward his disciples and says, “Look! My mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in the heavens is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

At first glance Jesus seems to be rather dismissive of his immediate family. (Joseph is not mentioned, perhaps because he has passed away.) But even in his agony on the cross Jesus will make sure that his mother is properly cared for (see John 19:25-27).

Jesus is not rejecting his family particularly or the natural family generally. He is revealing something important about true discipleship. When we follow Jesus, we join a new group, a spiritual family, the family of God.

As followers of Jesus we automatically become part of his group: the church. The Bible knows nothing about ‘Lone Ranger’ Christians. All true believers are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same heavenly Father.

Now, comparing church to family is a double-edged sword. Families should be places of encouragement, nurturing, support and love. But unfortunately they can be places of conflict, frustration, misery and animosity.

Sometimes family seems negative because it is a natural place of responsibility and accountability. Responsibility and accountability can be painful in the short term, but they are beneficial in the long term.

But other times the family experience is simply a bad one. Family members say and do harmful things, and because they are family, the wounds run deeper.

Jesus is right. The church really is like a family. At times she is encouraging but at other times she is discouraging. At times she is loving but at other times she is hateful.

One thing the church is not. She is not optional, not for true believers. When a son or a daughter refuses to visit mom or dad or brothers or sisters, then we know that something is wrong. Likewise, when a Christian refuses to attend church, then we know that something is wrong.

Jesus came not just to save individuals but to build his church. “On this rock,” he said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” Wow! No other organization has that promise, only the church.

So often the church looks ragged and ugly and weak. In fact, she sometimes looks so weak that one might think that even a gentle breeze would sweep her away once and for all. But after 2,000 years of tragedies and triumphs this raggedy institution survives and continues to serve the Lord, albeit imperfectly.

How can such a broken down, scuffed-up, out-of-step with the world organization last so long? Only by the power and promise of someone with great power. Only by the word of Jesus and work of his Spirit.

Someday she will stand before God in splendor, without blemish, spotless, despite all the bumps and bruises and wrinkles and stains she displays now. On that day she will be brilliant, adorned as a bride for her groom at the wedding supper of the Lamb. And she is the only organization with that promise!

May God’s Holy Spirit bind us together in love as brothers and sisters in Christ,

Brother Richard

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Chicken Sandwiches and Other Offenses

Even a chicken sandwich can be offensive in America.

A high school principal in California recently refused to let a local business provide chicken sandwiches to the football team, not because someone was offended, but because someone might be offended.

Nobody complained about the chicken sandwiches, but they were banned from being used to support school sports anyway. Why? The family that owns the chicken restaurant believes in God’s definition of family.

The family in question is the family of Truett Cathey and the restaurant he started is Chick-fil-A, famous for not opening on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, and yet still achieving great financial success.

The owners of Chick-fil-A have no policy against people with alternate lifestyles. They do not refuse to serve them. They don’t make it a habit to say disparaging things about them.

But the fact that they believe in what the Bible teaches about marriage was enough for the school’s principal to refuse their money, money that would have benefitted the students involved with the football team. All this despite the fact that nobody was offended (except perhaps the principal).

Followers of Jesus across our land have become all too familiar with the wave of offensiveness that now seems to attach itself to Biblical Christianity. The cross is offensive. Nativity scenes are offensive. Prayer in Jesus’ name is offensive. “In God We Trust” printed on our money is offensive. And the list goes on and on.

Have we somehow made the Christian message offensive to the world?

When Jesus was teaching a crowd once, they got offended by his message. He taught them that he was the true bread that came down from heaven and that they did not have life in themselves unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood (see John 6:25-66).

Since the crowd was offended, Jesus explained his remarks, making it clear that he was not talking about cannibalism, but about spiritual life. Nevertheless, they walked away, offended. One wonders if they really understood him but refused to accept his message, using “offense” as an excuse more than a reason.

It’s true, some Christians may act offensive at times, but we have not made the Christian message offensive. People were offended when the Lord himself told them the truth. Things have not changed.

Jesus is our model. Despite the offense, he spoke the truth publicly. In the face of opposition, he carefully clarified his remarks to ensure that there was no misunderstanding, but he did so without watering down his message. And he was not discouraged when people walked away offended. He kept on speaking the truth in love.

It is vital that we follow our Lord’s example. We must speak the truth publicly. We must be clear about our message without compromising God’s word. And we must not be discouraged when people reject the gospel.

As Jesus said, “Go! Look, I am sending you all out like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). He recognizes that we will meet significant opposition, just like he did. But he also promises to send the powerful presence of God’s Holy Spirit with us so that we can achieve the victory, just like he did.

May God’s empowering Presence enable us to always speak the truth in love,

Brother Richard

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Mom’s Bible

The night before my mother passed away I found her Bible. It was a well-worn Bible, not from being mistreated, but from being read. The cover was soft and worn down from being held open for many hours. The pages had long ago lost the stiffness of being new and unused.

As I flipped through the pages of Mom’s Bible, the first piece of paper I came to was a recipe (for baked grits, which I don’t remember ever eating). It had her mother’s name written on it. That recipe was a reminder that Mom loved to cook for and spend time with her family. Her last night in this life was spent at home surrounded by the sounds of her family. That was a blessing.

The next item I came to in her Bible was a bookmark with Psalm 23 printed on it. Then there was another smaller bookmark with a verse reference and a drawing of a little boy smiling. That picture of the little boy reminded me that my mother loved to tell children about Jesus. She spent years working with kids, and others, teaching them about God’s love and truth.

The verse reference on the small bookmark was Psalm 69:30, “I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.” My mother could not hit a musical note with a shotgun. Singing was not her gift, at least not by the standards of this world. But when she worshiped, she sang all those bad notes with all her heart. I suspect that God loved Mom’s singing because it came from a heart of praise.

Mom’s Bible also had many Scriptures highlighted and some hand-written notes. The notes were shaky looking, reminding me that Mom lost the use of her right hand years ago but she taught herself how to write with her left hand. She refused to give up. She went right on making notes about Bible studies and writing in her journals for years, even though her handwriting didn’t look very pretty.

We brought Mom home from the hospital on Friday night. Hospice had already set up a bed in the house. On Saturday morning I got up, came downstairs with Mom’s Bible and sat by her bed. I read to her from the Book of Revelation, descriptions of heaven. I read the 23rd Psalm. I talked to her about some of the notes she had written on the page with the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed for her and told her that I loved her.

My family expected Mom to be with us for at least a few more days, if not a couple of weeks, but soon after I read to her from her Bible, Mom slipped away. She told us earlier that she was ready to see Jesus. I know she was hurting and wanted to rest from the struggle, but she was not talking about Jesus simply as a euphemism for the end of her pain. She was ready to stand in the presence of her Lord. Now she does.

Mom was ready to see Jesus and she helped a lot of other people get ready to see Jesus. Her service in this age is finished. We are still working. We still have the chance to help more people get ready to see Jesus.

May the Spirit of the Living God inspire and enable us to serve him well,

Brother Richard

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Impressing the Faith On Children

When it was time to go in and take the Promised Land, Moses reminded God’s people of how they should live in order to enjoy God’s blessing. He reminded them of the agreement God had made with them, the covenant. He was to be their God and they were to be his people. He would give them his truth and they would live according to that truth.

God’s blessing was designed to last for generations. As a result, each generation of God’s people was responsible to make sure that their children and grandchildren knew about God’s ways. Moses reminded the people that they were to impress God’s words on their children (Deuteronomy 6:7). Moses was not talking to professional teachers but to parents and grandparents. Faith begins at home.

God’s people still have the great responsibility and the wonderful joy of impressing God’s truth on our children. It is pleasing to God and profitable to our kids to make sure that they know God’s Word. When we tell our children about God’s ways, we stir the fires of faith in our own lives, too.

Impressing God’s commands on our children is an ongoing task that must be done in our homes every day and in our church every week. The Christian faith is not merely information, but a way of life. Children must see the faith in the lives of their parents in order to understand and embrace Christianity.

As our culture becomes more hostile toward Bible-believing Christianity, parents who strive to pass on the faith to their children will be harshly criticized. The organizations and institutions in our society will put pressure on Christian parents in order to pull them and their children away from the Bible and from the local church. Schedule conflicts will abound.

In this new environment of aggressive secularism, sadly, many parents will compromise. They will try to balance the recreational, academic, and athletic pursuits of this age with their commitments to Christ and his kingdom work. Their children are watching and they understand the inconsistency of claiming Christ as Lord but setting up idols in his place.

Other families will see the temptations of this godless world for what they really are. They will be ready to make personal sacrifices for the faith, knowing that Jesus calls his followers to deny self, take up a cross, and follow him. These parents will model Christ for their children. They will impress upon their children the Christian faith.

May God’s Spirit empower us to keep the faith alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children,

Brother Richard Foster

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Why So Much Confusion About Marriage?

Family has become a free-for-all. In the mad rush to affirm everybody’s right to do whatever they please with their private lives, our society is dismantling the institution that serves as the bedrock and basis for any culture. As family life weakens, other critical institutions in our society suffer. The legal system has to keep up with all the dead-beat dads and domestic violence. The welfare system has to keep up with all the abused and abandoned children. The education system is on life-support in many places because so many kids live such insecure lives that they cannot focus on classroom learning.

Not only is family becoming a do-it-yourself affair, it is becoming a do-it-for-self arrangement. Many people want to redefine family in order to suit their lifestyle, instead of adjusting their lifestyle in order to have a healthy family. If they don’t want to be faithful to their mate then they simply find someone else. If they don’t want to raise their own children then they simply abort or abandon them. If they don’t want to support the children they have left behind then they simply vanish or claim to have no resources. Any culture that lets the sinful and selfish human heart define acceptable family behavior is bound for serious turbulence. When children grow up around broken lives and broken relationships then they are at great risk for simply repeating the pattern of unhealthy family life. The resulting tangled nest of modern families seems to be expanding exponentially.

How did we get into such a twisted and confusing place? If we go back a little more than fifty years into the 1950s, we discover significantly different attitudes about family from what we see today. In retrospect, one indication that changes would soon take place was reflected by some striking research about human sexuality. Compiled by supposed experts, the book claimed that large percentages of the population were engaged in sexual misconduct, more than anyone realized (Kinsey, Pomery, and Martin, 1948). The findings of this pseudo-scientific study were shocking. The writers alleged that vast numbers of people were breaking society’s established sexual boundaries. The implication was that perhaps the boundaries should be moved, or removed.

A generation came of age in the 1960s that apparently took the ideas that were reflected in that report about human sexuality to heart. Many of them concluded that traditional ideas about family, marriage, and sex were hopelessly outdated and perhaps completely obsolete. They insisted on a new approach to sexuality: ‘free love.’ As time went on that shocking research about human sexual behavior in America was exposed to be fraudulent. It turned out that those reports were not very scientific (Reisman and Eichel, 1990). In other words, the so-called experts had lied (or at least been mistaken). But it was too late. ‘Free love’ had been loosed on an unsuspecting society. Or perhaps the facts did not matter to a large number of people who only wanted to justify irresponsible lifestyles.

Unfortunately, ‘free love’ resulted in too many unwanted babies. But experts claimed that an unborn baby was nothing more than a troublesome blob of tissue, a piece of opportunistic tissue that if allowed to grow, would become a major inconvenience, a bothersome liability. Women had the right, they said, to remove useless tissue from their bodies without any intervention based on the moral scruples of some self-righteous, backward, uneducated, religious zealots. In fact, aborting babies became the centerpiece issue for women’s health and a badge of honor for those who prided themselves in taking measures to save the Earth. Without abortion on demand, women would be denied healthcare and doomed to outer darkness and the Earth’s natural resources would be raped and depleted before the next Earth Day could be planned. This new attitude about unborn babies solved the ‘free love’ problem. Unwanted pregnancies were simply terminated—by the tens of millions.

But people discovered that they wanted children, despite the risk to the planet and the inconvenience to their personal lives. As a result, many continued to have babies, but they also continued to engage in irresponsible sex. Lack of sexual commitment, however, destroys families by ripping away an important foundation for a long-term relationship. This instability in family devotion puts children in a precarious situation. ‘Free love’ resulted in an explosion in the number of marriages that ended in divorce. Kids from broken families struggled with deep feelings of insecurity and abandonment. And parents were getting loaded down with dark feelings of personal guilt as they saw what their decisions did to their offspring.

The experts were standing by once again with yet another solution: simply redefine marriage and family—change the definition of what is right and acceptable. If family requires fidelity and lifelong commitment but sexual freedom demands infidelity and short-term relationships, then a new vision of family that allows for more personal freedom must be envisioned and promoted. Culture had to evolve and adapt to the needs (wants) of the people who make up society. What right does some faceless society have to make demands for sacrifice from individuals who have their own ideas about happiness? But what about the harm that would be done to the children living in unstable household environments? Experts could convince everyone that kids are flexible and actually happier when removed from a home where one or both parents are unfulfilled, and the problem is solved, supposedly.

With all this experimentation about how families can be deconstructed and redefined came an ever-increasing openness to other boundary-busting ideas about human sexuality, marriage and family. Gay and lesbian relationships, long understood to be outside the realm of healthy family arrangements, were suddenly provided with an opening to move toward the mainstream in popular culture. With so many people breaking down the boundaries of healthy human sexual relationships, who was left to say that same-sex couples should not take center-stage and redraw the lines even more? If personal sexual satisfaction is so important that we must kill the unborn so that they do not get in the way, then why not let same-sex couples murder a few moral standards?

So we have arrived in a place of utter confusion about marriage and family. Everyone has a right, we are being told, to define marriage as they see fit. Limiting marriage to one man and one woman is denying people their constitutional rights, supposedly. This argument is designed to paint supporters of biblical marriage as cold-blooded and hard-hearted. This is no surprise since proponents of ‘alternative’ forms of family and marriage sometimes claim that traditional families are oppressive to women and children. Raising children, some lament, is nothing more than a punishment. Alternative lifestyles liberate women, so the argument goes. How ironic it is that liberal sexual lifestyles have placed so many women in the tough and demanding position of being single parents!

Meanwhile, the children who have survived abortion since 1973 have been at higher risk to live in a broken home. More children are growing up with only one of their biological parents, or with parents whose commitment to the family is nebulous at best. An unsettling number are being raised by someone other than their parents, like a grandparent or other guardian. Despite all the assurances from experts that children are flexible and able to bounce back, kids often struggle with suffocating anxiety and bitter anger over their sense of abandonment because one or both of their parents apparently had more important things to do than to raise their son or daughter.

So the fight to define (or destroy) family rages on. Who would have imagined that ‘free love’ would result in so many murdered babies, angry youth and dysfunctional families? Where is the love? Where is the freedom? We have no time to stop and answer questions or reflect on the terrible cost of all these alternative moral visions for family life because the changes only seem to be accelerating. Same-sex families are the most recent experiment. Who knows what horrible social destruction may be caused by allowing “gay marriage” to take hold and multiply. When will our society learn that the so-called experts who promote all of these alternatives are leading us deeper into disaster?

The age of ‘free love’ has provided plenty of evidence that children generally do better when they are raised by their biological parents. Unfortunate and heartbreaking is the fact that we had to learn this the hard way, by watching millions of kids grow up without their parents and observing the disappointing results. It is clear that kids need mom and dad, even if the marriage is less than stellar. Despite this hard-won knowledge, we now stand poised to place kids in families where they will be denied mom or dad, or both. Children raised by two dads are denied a mother. Children raised by two moms are denied a father. Vague and emotional assertions about love and affection being the most important thing of all cannot make up for what is missing in a mom or a dad.

Sadly, “gay marriage” is not the last enemy of the family. Waiting in the shadows are those who wish to reduce or abolish the age of consent. Once again, children are at greatest risk, as they always are in these tragic social experiments. And the so-called experts will be ready with quick answers to soothe the consciences of those who step into their trap. Once again, the personal desires of adults will trump the legitimate needs of children.

The experts lied about sexual behavior, they lied about unborn babies, they lied about divorce, and they are lying about “gay marriage.” Any other alternative model will be just as deceitful. Why are these destructive distortions about family met with such eager acceptance by so many people? Because the spiritually rebellious heart wants God to be proven wrong at any cost. The fight for family is not a contest between tradition and progress or conservative and liberal. No, it is a conflict between truth and deception. The current fight to define marriage is only the latest manifestation of an ancient struggle between the holiness of the One Living God and the wickedness of the desperately sinful heart.

Destructive desires call us to satisfy self now, no matter what the cost might be to our marriage or our children. And the world at large echoes and amplifies those selfish desires, calling out, “Give up on God’s way. Serve yourself and be happy now. Forget tomorrow. You deserve it. You need some ‘me time’!” But the one who wanders through life guided only by their own immediate happiness or pleasure will end up with an empty heart and a barren soul. And the society that not only allows but promotes so many broken and sinful models of family is driving quickly toward ruin.

But there is good news. God himself, the Maker of humanity and the inventor of human sexuality, has indeed given us his plan for marriage and family. His plan is for one man and one woman to stay together for life, raise their children, and then enjoy their grandchildren. God’s plan goes against the selfish desires that tempt us to put immediate gratification above all else. And living according to God’s plan is an expression of love for the Lord who has given us our lives. Adopting God’s design for family is an act of faith that is rewarded by God with blessings which far surpass anything we can manufacture from lifestyles that ignore his commands.

Those who trust God’s plan will work hard to save and strengthen their marriages even at great personal effort, risk and sacrifice. Those who trust God’s plan will work to nurture and care for their children no matter what the losses to professional development, financial security, personal excitement, or any other secondary consideration. They will stand in the face of great challenges and terrible disappointments. They will reject the tempting voices of selfishness. They will sometimes sustain deep wounds but refuse to change course. Those who trust God and fight for their family will fill their hearts and households with great rewards. They will have the deep love that only a lifetime marriage can yield. They will see their children stand strong and confident in the face of trials and temptations. They will rejoice over their grandchildren with gladness because of the solid foundation that parents forged for their children’s futures.

Lifetime love grows a physical and spiritual union between husband and wife that soars far above the emotional junkyard of the broken relationships that are currently scattered throughout our land. In an age of increasing confusion about gender roles, gender identity, parenting, raising children, and all things pertaining to family, lifetime love leaves a heritage of faith for children and grandchildren so that they can build their own families with confidence and with victory. When strong families are the rule instead of the exception in a culture, then that culture is on a more sure footing in every conceivable way. After decades of failed experimentation with selfish models of family, our land needs a return to the family model that has God’s endorsement and enjoys God’s blessing. The benefits of protecting marriage are great, so the risk of letting marriage wander further into the spiritual wilderness is also great.

The current threats against marriage are daunting. Our nation’s legal definition of marriage continues to be a fierce battle ground. Bible-believing Christians want to preserve God’s design for marriage: one man and one woman freely and fully committed to one another for life. Radical gay activists are working diligently to undermine and redefine marriage in order to include same-sex couples in the mainstream of family life. Much is at stake in the struggle over how to define marriage. Countless lives will be affected if our country continues to distort and erase the boundaries for legal marriage, both in ways that can be predicted and in ways that cannot yet be imagined. Who could be harmed, and how?

As always, when society loosens the laws that establish healthy limits for marriage and family, children pay the highest price. Single-parent families have taught us the hard way that children generally do much better when they live with both mom and dad. Nevertheless, gay activists insist that two moms or two dads will be just as good. Why should we believe them? Why should we subordinate God’s word to their unfounded and untested opinions? As children grow into adults they desperately need godly models for healthy and responsible sexual behavior, not gender confusion.

Some who oppose same-sex marriage argue that tradition has established heterosexual marriage as the best foundation for society. But traditions are established by people and they can change. Traditions evolve, often to meet the seemingly expedient demands of different groups in a given society or culture. Marriage, however, is bigger than tradition. Marriage is too critical to be left up to the dictates of unpredictable currents in human tradition. Marriage is instituted and designed by God, fixed and unchanging. In addition, marriage and family are much more than building blocks for human society. The Bible presents higher ideals for marriage.

In the Old Testament God used husband and wife as a picture of the relationship between himself and his chosen people Israel. In the New Testament God’s design for marriage is presented as a picture of Christ’s bond with his church, his Bride. More than nurturing children, more than mentoring young people about their God-given sexuality, more than providing the building blocks of culture and society, marriage is about God’s love for his people. Essential spiritual truth is transmitted through God’s design for marriage, and that truth becomes a living reality in marriages where husbands and wives follow God’s design, not out of love for society or as a pragmatic solution to family ills, but out of love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage is a spiritual relationship with far-reaching spiritual ramifications for all of us.

These ideas, some say, are ancient and culturally bound. Now that culture has moved on, we are told, the notions of yesteryear must recede into the background and give way for new and progressive ideas. But God has not recalled his design for marriage. It is not defective. It is not obsolete. It is not even a work in progress. Marriage between one man and one woman is a fixed design feature of humanity and it is still God’s plan for family today and all the tomorrows of this age. God is not required to answer to human society or to conform to popular human ideas. God is the author of what is right for culture and he is the source of all truth.

Some would argue that the fundamental spiritual truth that is meant to be communicated through marriage is simply love and commitment. Marriage and family are not about the outward forms, supposedly, but about genuine affection and devotion. Therefore, loving and committed same-sex couples, we are told, fulfill the Bible’s vision for family. If that were true then loving and committed relationships of any kind could eventually be proposed as fulfillment of this Scriptural principle. But such an argument ignores the fact that homosexuality is condemned every time it is mentioned in the Bible. A holy home cannot be constructed on an unholy union. Marriage is about more than tradition and it is about more than love and commitment. God’s design for marriage is cosmic in scope. It is a reflection of God’s plan for the ages.

The question of defining marriage ultimately brings us to an even more fundamental and critical issue. What is the true nature of the Bible? Is it God’s perfect Word to humanity? Or is it a collection of words by imperfect yet inspired people who were searching for divine insight when they put pen to paper? Those who support God’s design for marriage point to the Bible as the premier authority for defining marriage. As a result, gay activists have attacked the church’s understanding of God’s Word. Scriptures that clearly condemn same-sex relationships are said to be irrelevant to our age, archaic and outmoded. But should human desires judge God’s word or should God’s word judge human desires? God’s perfect truth provides the much-needed anchor for any culture when it is tugged by the tides of unholy human passions and blown by the winds of deceptive pop-culture philosophies.

For those of us who have decided to stand on the perfect word of God, we must not be surprised or disheartened when the world rejects God’s design for marriage. Only God’s presence in our lives can give any of us the ability to put his plan before our own agenda. Despite the world’s hostility toward God’s design, we must be committed to the full counsel of God. It is unfair to God’s word and intellectually dishonest to champion some portions of Scripture while remaining silent about others. The Bible not only condemns same-sex marriage, Scripture also condemns all sexual immorality. Any sexual misconduct undermines the spiritual truth that is to be reflected through godly marriage.

The fight is not merely against a radical gay agenda. The fight is for the radical holiness that God has called his people to pursue and promote. The goal should not be to make families more traditional, or pragmatic, or comfortable, but to make families honor the Lord. He who called us is holy, so let us be holy in all that we do, including our marriages. Followers of Jesus Christ cannot simply blame culture for all the confusion about marriage and embrace some vague hope that things will somehow get better. God’s people must know his word, live according to his word, and share his word.

The full counsel of God reminds us that we do not simply speak the truth. We speak the truth in love. Men and women struggling with sexual sin of all types deserve to hear the truth, but they need to hear from someone who genuinely cares. The many angry and bitter voices in the debate over defining marriage easily draw much attention to themselves, but they often drown out their own words by the bitter opposition they inspire. God’s people must be different. Righteous indignation is a legitimate expression, but loving confrontation and encouragement is a vital ingredient. Christians are called to be the true people of hope and change. Salt and light can be uncomfortable but should never be hateful. People may reject the truth, but it should be the content and not the presentation that they find distasteful.

What should Christians do in response to the downward spiral of family? First and foremost, we must live according to God’s word. Despite past mistakes, we must commit ourselves to God’s design for family: one man and one woman committed to each other for a lifetime, committed to raising our children together and enjoying our grandchildren. This includes everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. If one has had an affair, lived through a divorce, fallen prey to same-sex encounters, or any other failure, forgiveness and restoration is available through Christ. No matter how many failures litter our past, we can decide that this marriage will be a godly marriage; the rest of our life will honor the Lord. If we are presently single, we can determine to remain pure until we are able to enter a godly marriage, or serve God as a single adult, honoring the marriage bed by remaining celibate.

Second, Christians should pray for God’s Spirit to move in a mighty way in the hearts of people throughout the land. We can plead with our Lord to renew a spirit of love for truth in households and hearts everywhere. And third, as Christians we must open our mouths and speak the word of truth. We cannot be intimidated into silence. Too much is at stake in the fight for family. And we must speak the truth in love. As families falter, hungry hearts will multiply; countless souls will be thirsty, longing for a better way. This is an opportunity to explain and to promote God’s ways to a population that is increasingly ignorant about the unvarnished biblical truth.

In order to live according to God’s design for marriage, couples must have commitment, understanding, and ability. The ability can come only from the empowering Spirit of God. The commitment can come only from the married couples themselves. The understanding comes from learning the truth about God’s design for marriage as he has revealed it in his Word, the Holy Bible. To all who are followers of Jesus, let us devote ourselves to knowing, obeying, and promoting God’s design for marriage and family. The need is great but our God is more than sufficient.

Richard Foster
Camden, AR
September 2013

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God’s Design For Family

A report issued by experts claimed that many people were engaged in sex outside of marriage.  A generation took the ideas in that report to heart and decided that traditional ideas about family, marriage, and sex were outdated.  They insisted on ‘free love.’  Later everyone learned that the reports about sexual behavior were not very scientific.  In other words, the so-called experts had lied.  But it was too late.  ‘Free love’ had arrived.

Unfortunately, ‘free love’ resulted in too many unwanted babies.  But experts claimed that unborn babies were nothing more than troublesome blobs of tissue.  Women had the right, they said, to remove unnecessary tissue from their bodies.  This solved the ‘free love’ problem.  Unwanted pregnancies were simply terminated—by the tens of millions.

But people discovered that they wanted children.  Lack of sexual commitment, however, destroys families.  ‘Free love’ resulted in an explosion in the number of marriages that ended in divorce.  Kids from broken families struggled with deep feelings of insecurity and abandonment.  And parents were getting loaded down with dark feelings of guilt.  The experts were standing by once again with a solution: simply redefine marriage and family—change the definition of what is good and acceptable.

Everyone has a right, we are being told, to define marriage as they see fit.  Limiting marriage to one man and one woman is denying people their constitutional rights, supposedly.  This argument is designed to paint supporters of biblical marriage as oppressors.  This is no surprise since supporters of ‘alternative’ forms of family and marriage often claim that traditional families are oppressive to women and children.

So the battle to define (or destroy) family rages on.  Who would have imagined that ‘free love’ would result in so many murdered babies and dysfunctional families?  Who knows what horrible social destruction would be caused by allowing ‘gay marriage’ to take hold and multiply?  When will our society learn that these so-called experts are leading us deeper into disaster?

Sadly, ‘gay marriage’ is not the last enemy of the family.  Waiting in the shadows are those who wish to reduce or abolish the age of consent.  Once again, children are at greatest risk, as they always are in these horrible social experiments.  And the experts will be ready with quick answers to soothe the consciences of those who step into their trap.

The experts lied about sexual behavior, they lied about unborn babies, they lied about divorce, and they are lying about ‘gay marriage.’  Why are these destructive distortions about family met with such eager acceptance?  Because the rebellious heart wants God to be proven wrong.  The battle for family is not a contest between tradition and progress, it is a conflict between Truth and deception.

What should we do?  First and foremost, live according to God’s Word.  Despite past mistakes, commit yourself to God’s design for family: one man and one woman committed to each other for a lifetime, committed to raising their children together.  Second, pray for God’s Spirit to move in a mighty way, to renew a spirit of love for Truth throughout our land.  And third, make your voice heard.  Do not be intimidated into silence.  Speak the truth in love.

May God’s Holy Spirit save and strengthen our families now,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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