My Crown

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a wife who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4). I praise God that I have a crown – and no rottenness in my bones. While I might not have many other crowns, if any, I have been blessed for nearly 20 years with a wife of noble character.

Last month was “pastor appreciation month” for many churches across our country, and in my 8+ years of pastoring Richland Baptist Church, our church family has done an amazing job of expressing appreciation. They are a joy to serve and minister alongside, and we praise God for our church family!

The reality, however, is that I would be a terrible pastor (though I am far from great anyway) if not for my amazing wife. If not for all she does for me, for our kids, in our home, in children’s ministry with our church, in so much behind the scenes for our church, etc., I cannot fathom how I would begin to keep up with the demands of pastoral ministry.

I do very few household chores because Marsha is always on top of things. Instead, when I am home, I am able to devote most of my time to hanging out with Marsha and the kids, having fun, and relaxing. Furthermore, with five kids, there are what seem like constant needs for rides to various school events, activities, practices, games, etc. Marsha handles the vast majority of those.

During church services and activities on Sundays and Wednesdays, Marsha is practically a single mom as I try to keep up with everything. Yet, she never complains.

Phone calls and emergency requests come up during inopportune times, but Marsha is always supportive, prayerful, and helpful.

Unfortunately, though, I often take her for granted. Our kids do, too. Shame on us! Instead, we need to embrace and live out the words of Proverbs 31:28-29 – “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!”

I praise God for Marsha! In her, God has blessed me with an incredible wife, an excellent mother to our children, and a faithful partner in gospel ministry. She surpasses all others!

Thank you, Marsha! No blog post, thank you note, gift, or anything else could ever be sufficient in expressing how much I appreciate you and how much of a blessing you are to our family, our church, and me.

A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). Praise the Lord for His favor!

Family Picture in front of U.S. Bank Stadium in August 2021 #skol

Why I pray THIS for my children…

When I pray each day for my and my family’s purity and biblical faithfulness, I often pray for my children’s future spouses. I pray that my children will walk closely with Jesus Christ and have no desire to marry someone who is not a faithful follower of Jesus. Please understand, too, that I pray this because I want for my children what God wants for my children. Unless they have the unusual gift of celibacy, my children will one day desire to be married. And, God’s desire for them is that they marry faithful Christians.

God’s Word is abundantly clear on this, as we are commanded not to marry unbelievers (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:39, which gives a Christian widow the freedom to remarry but only to remarry someone who is a believer – “in the Lord.”). This command, though, is not because we are better than others but rather because God knows we are not.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Ezra 910 on “Reclaimed Repentance.” The ending of Ezra provides a sobering reminder of why we must never compromise our faith in God by marrying those who do not have such faith. Sure, there are times when “things work out,” by the grace and mercy of God. What ends up happening, more often than not, however, is that when a believer marries an unbeliever, the believer ends up compromising his or her faith and betrays the Lord. That happened over and over again in Israel’s history, and it continues to happen today.

Thus, we must pray that God will protect us from such temptation. Pray this for yourself if you are single and hope to be married one day. Parents, pray this for your children. Grandparents, pray this for your grandchildren. Let us pray this for our church family and others throughout the body of Christ. Let us pray that we will be faithful to the Lord, which includes obedience to His Word. When we fail, let us pray for our hearts to be broken and for sincere repentance.

If you have come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then you have His Holy Spirit living in you. One of the clear evidences of such a salvation and the presence of God in your life, then, is an ongoing desire to turn away from sin and draw closer to the Lord. This certainly includes – and is even much more – than our most intimate relationships.

No such desire for what I am describing above will persist in your life apart from God’s ongoing work in your heart. If you have yet to experience God’s unfailing love as made available only in and through faith in His One and Only Son, please check out The Story.

Until Death Do Us Part

Marriage was created by God to be a sacred covenant between a man, a woman and God. The institution of marriage has been cheapened and disgraced, though. Not only has this been the case in our time and in our society, but it has been the case for thousands of years.

You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because He no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. What did our ancestor do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful” (Malachi 2:13-16).

Cultures have been impacted, and societies have crumbled as the biblical practice of marriage in those societies crumbled. For example, study the downfall of the Roman Empire. One day, perhaps, people might look back and say the same thing about the United States of America. I hope not, but time will tell.

THE COMMITMENT OF MARRIAGE

Biblical marriage is a covenant, and a covenant is a commitment. Many of us said, “…until death do us part,” when we were married because we believe divorce is not an option. We realize there will be ups and downs, but we are committed to do whatever we can to sustain our marriage.

Of course, I am not implying that divorce is an unforgivable sin, as the Bible does not teach that. God hates all sin, including divorce, but He also provides a means of restoration. If you have experienced a divorce and had any fault in the failure of your marriage, there is forgiveness in Christ. Turn to Him.

Not only did God clearly explain the commitment of marriage in Malachi and in other places in the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis 2, but Jesus further explained the commitment Himself.

But from the beginning of creation he made them male and femaleFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her” (Mark 10:6-11).

THE CHRIST OVER MARRIAGE

In biblical marriage, we see a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see God’s relationship with His church in and through His One and Only Son. We see a covenant that cannot and will not be broken as long as life continues.

Marriage is to point us to Jesus and His relationship with those who know Him. Jesus will never leave or forsake His church, and those who are His true followers and thus part of His true church will likewise never leave Him. Check out Ephesians 5:21-33 for a great description of how this is the case.

Jesus often said things like, “The person who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

And, this is why there is a lifelong commitment in marriage – because of the Christ over marriage. He created marriage. He is to be at the center of marriages. He sustains marriages. Genuine followers of Christ endure to the end. Christ-centered marriages also endure to the end – “until death do us part.”

Lord willing, I will be preaching through Malachi 2:10-16 Sunday morning, talking about our “Great God of Expectations”(The Greatness of God sermon series). Just as God expects His followers to endure in their faithfulness to Him, He expects His followers’ marriages to endure in faithfulness to one another (and to Him).

In order to truly know and sincerely desire God’s expectations for us – His expectations for us as individuals, His expectations for us as a church, and His expectations for our marriages – we must have a relationship with Him. This is the important truth of the gospel.

Do you know the Christ who is over marriage (and who is over all things)? Only then can you know and desire the commitment in marriage (and the lasting commitment to God).

Discipleship affects marriage.

If your faith and your marriage are not intertwined, then at least one of the two really does not matter to you. I would even argue that, according to God’s Word, neither truly matters to you, or at least you are sadly mistaken about the purpose of both.

During our morning worship service with Richland Baptist Church this morning, I preached on “Marriage in Discipleship,” challenging people to view and value marriage like God views and values marriage.

We don’t have the option of redefining what God has already established and defined. Furthermore, you will never be fulfilled and satisfied in life if you are not living for what God created you. This certainly includes your marriage (and even how we treat the marriages of those around us).

We were created and purposed for joy and contentment in life, but if we try to find that joy and contentment outside the will of God (as defined by the Word of God), we will always fall short.

Just as a child (like Micah below) is truly satisfied by the simple things in life, like swinging at Papa and Mema’s house, so can we be truly satisfied in and through a daily walk with Jesus Christ. That daily discipleship in Jesus affects everything, including our relationships.

Micah on the swing

TEN years of amazement!

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Wow! It has already been 10 years (April 6, 2002) since I was dancing in the parking lot because I was so excited to marry the woman of my dreams. If I were to go back to that moment right now, I would dance even more because I realize more than ever the incredible treasure God gave me in Marsha. As my amazing wife, as my best friend, as the super-mom of our children and as the devoted follower of Jesus Christ, Marsha has given me countless reasons to praise God for her!

Happy 10-year anniversary, Marsha Lee! I love you more than ever!