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Decatur Community Workshops: Young and Married in Atlanta Extended Video Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Young and Married in Atlanta". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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Ask Donnell: How Do I Ask God To Confirm "The One" For Me?

alone

We received the following question from a young lady;

"How do i ask God for confirmation for a person i have never seen? I dated one gentleman that i really liked but he no longer speaks to me. There has been no other suitors that have come along. But deep down in my heart the guy that no longer speaks to me is still in my heart. He may be the one. How do i ask for confirmation?"

This is a great question. A gentleman asked almost the same question a few months ago so check out the response at the following link; "Ask Donnell: How Will God Confirm Someone As Your Future Wife?" The principles in there will also apply in your case.

James 1:5-8(NLT) - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

First, let me congratulate you on your decision to seek God for guidance in this situation. Without His wisdom we are always bound to make bad mistakes that can affect us for life. When we ask God concerning a mate He answers us. This brings up the broader issue of developing your ability to hear from God so that when He answers, you will be able to hear and act on it. Read this blog, "Respect God's Voice In Other People". It's Part 7 of a mini-blog series on Hearing from God. Read all seven points by clicking the links in each blog to go backward to the previous point. Additionally, an entire section of my book, "Well Done", is dedicated to hearing from God.

So, is the guy who no longer speaks to you the one for you? Well, since I don't have any first hand knowledge of the details of your situation I don't know. However, I can reason using the facts you provided to me. What I do know is that your relationship with him is over and he is not speaking to you. Those two facts are important to keep in mind as you seek God about him. Whether or not he's still in your heart is not a factor because you can keep someone in your heart for as long as you choose to. When you are ready to let him go, he will no longer be in your heart. It's that simple. It takes time but it works. I assume that he's not married because if he is, then it's not a mystery. He's not the one.

Sometimes our emotions cause us to hang on to people we should be letting go. So, here is some good counsel. Since he has already let you go by not keeping in touch, it's time for you to let him go! Put him in God's hands and let The Lord reunite the two of you if He chooses to. If God doesn't do it, it's not going to happen because the guy has demonstrated that he's over it. Thankfully, that could be a good thing for you because when you let him go, you make room in your heart for the right person. Right now, that spot is occupied so even if The Lord sends someone in your direction, you're not ready to receive him. You can't see the man in front of you if you're busy looking back. So what now?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35(NLT) - I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

This is some of the best advice ever for single people. It's the same advice I received of The Lord while I was single and it works. Now is the time to go hard after The Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. Since you don't have a husband you don't have to split time so God can get all of you. Additionaly, during this season let The Lord shape you into the type of woman that the type of man you're looking for is actually looking for. It's much easier to attract the right man when you are the type of woman a man like him would be attracted to. Therefore, if you are looking for a man of God, let God help you to prepare by focusing your energy on your relationship with Him.

Psalms 37:4-5(NKJV) - Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord , Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

Matthew 6:33(NKJV) - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I was single into my thirties and had to live these scriptures. I had to put God's Kingdom first and trust that He would do His part to add the things I desire to my life. My testimony is that when I finally decided to stop trying to force things and decided to trust God, He brought me my wife, Angel. It took several people speaking into my life and some bad experiences for me to finally reach that point but thank God I did. I just gave up and said God if you don't do it, it doesn't happen.

Until God favored me with a spouse I wrote several books, started The Cracked Door and threw myself headfirst into the Work of The Lord. He had my attention and now that I'm married I understand what Paul was saying to the singles. Make the most of your time while you have it. That's The Word of The Lord to you also. Give your all to The Lord while single until He sees fit to bring you a spouse. During that time, let God prepare you for the man He has for you.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Let me also share another part of my testimony. When I finally decided to give up on doing it my way, The Lord impressed on my heart to ask Him for what I really wanted in a woman. I had never articulated it before because I thought that was not necessary. He is God so whatever He wants to do He should do. I have no opinion. However, when God says to ask He means it. So I did just that. I wrote a detailed list of the qualities in the woman I really wanted even though I had never met her (I thought) and prayed over it for about one week.

I then forgot about the list and went along with my life. A few months into my relationship with Angel I remembered the list while talking to her on the phone. I found it and was completely blown away. She was exactly the person I prayed for and I didn't even know it. In addition, God spoke to me in a dream through a scripture to confirm that I had found the woman He had for me. Hence, when I walked down the aisle I knew I was walking in my destiny. It was not an act of my will being done but The Lord's. That's what I pray for you too.

John 10:27(NKJV) - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

So what am I saying? Confirmation from The Lord about a spouse is so much more than a feeling because feelings are random and can change at anytime. God knows how to speak to the people who know His voice. I had to learn His Voice over a long time so when I needed to hear Him clearly about a spouse I heard Him in several different ways. Read the blogs I linked to earlier so you can also develop your ability to hear from God. This is probably the most candid answer you may ever get because I'm telling you as it is. I can tell you an answer that sounds good or can make you feel good or I can tell you the truth. I rather tell you the truth because only the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

II Chronicles 20:20(NKJV) - So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

Proverbs 11:14(NKJV) - Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

I'm going to finish this blog with two points. Seek counsel whenever you think you met the person God has for you and trust what God speaks into your life through His prophets. Not only did I hear from God on my own concerning my wife but I received several independent confirmations from prophets and people I sought for counsel. Some people don't want to go through all of that trouble but when the pressure hits them in the middle of a bad marriage they will wish they did.

The decision to marry someone can be one of the best or one of the worst decisions you will ever make in your life so don't cut corners during the process when you don't need to. Before I leave, let me give you some free advice I received from an expert. You'll usually find the type of spouse you're looking for in the places where that type of spouse tends to be. If you're looking for a drinker, frequent the bar. If you're looking for a partier, frequent the club. If you're looking for a man of God, stay in the presence of God.

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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On "In Vitro" Fertilization?

Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On In Vitro Fertilization?

We received the following question;

"How is it viewed in The Bible when a man and a woman cannot have children but take it upon themselves to get the job done? For instance, by having their egg and sperm fertilized outside of the woman’s womb or body then placed back in the womb! What is your take on this from a biblical perspective? To me this is doing God’s work which brings up another question, Is God’s spirit in this child? God bless you."

Thanks for your question. First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond to some of the questions that have already been submitted. Keeping up with The Cracked Door Foundation has proven to be a little more challenging than we could possibly have imagined. Apart from our careers and personal lives we've been investing any time we have left into The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. Pray that The Lord send us the people we need to help shoulder the load.

Nonetheless, The Lord has provided a long term solution which we will be rolling out next week. We're very excited about what He's doing with this ministry that's been around since September, 2006. What started as a website to market my first book, I Curse Death, has grown into what you see before you now. So, on with your answer.

Ecclesiastes 11:5(NLT) - Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Did you know that each of the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob faced fertility issues in their families? First, there was the struggle of Abraham and Sarah, then Isaac and Rebekah, then Jacob and Rachel. They all struggled to have children but in the end God worked miracles in their lives. So, fertility challenges are all over The Bible and God has proven Himself as a deliverer in many of those cases, over and over.

Infertility is a very touchy subject. When a married, Christian couple can't have children it's a troubling and difficult reality to deal with. They have chosen to do things the right way in the eyes of God by getting married before having children yet some can't seem to get the expected results. There is little you can say to a couple in that situation to truly comfort their hearts. The last thing we need to do is speak out of turn and not approach this particular topic with as much sensitivity as it deserves.

Nevertheless, just like it was when Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes 11:5, the mystery of childbirth remains a mystery today. Modern science may be able to explain the physical process from the point of conception to birth. It may also allow us to see it using ultrasound imaging and other means. Yet, nobody but God can explain when or how a human spirit enters a human body and turns an embryo into a living soul. That's the part of the process we have no power over and will never be able to control. Regardless, the question we must address today is whether or not we have the right to engage the benefits of biotechnology and modern medicine to interfere with the physical process of childbirth.

Genesis 30:1-2(NLT) - When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”

Proverbs 30:15-16(NKJV) - The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Listen to me. Some men might not really care to have children but according to Proverbs 30:15-16, the barren womb is never satisfied. If a woman has no children and she wants to have a child, there is nothing in the world that you can give her in place of that and The Bible acknowledges it. She can have all the money in the world, all the power, all the fame, her pick of men, the ability to travel anywhere, perfect health, good looks, everything you could imagine but she will never be able to fully let go of the thought of having children.

As a result, if there is any solution available for infertility, any woman in her right mind would at least consider it. She will never give up until it's either impossible or her spirit is completely broken. Hence, it doesn't matter what scripture you quote, you cannot tell a woman she should be okay with never having children when she wants children. Like the grave that takes and takes but doesn't give back, a desert that soaks up water and is quickly dry again or a fire that continues to burn as long as it has fuel and oxygen, the desire of a woman to have her first child cannot be quenched.

Genesis 1:26-28(NKJV) - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Before we move on to anything else, let's establish that as human beings we are mandated by God in Genesis 1:26-28 to be fruitful and multiply. As a result, just to carry out God's plan we must have children so the desire to have children is built into our DNA. The truth is that everyone will not have children. In fact, everyone will not even get married so that they can have children according to God's order. Regardless, someone has to have children for God's plan in Genesis 1:26-28 to continue. That person might as well be you.

So what's The Bible's solution for infertility?

1) Pray

Philippians 4:6(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Genesis 25:21(NLT) - Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Obviously, we can assume that a Christian couple who has started looking for medical solutions to infertility has already prayed. However, let's not make any assumptions and be thorough in our approach. Pray, then pray, then pray some more. That's such a religious sounding answer to someone in the middle of a tough situation but we have to always say it just in case people need a reminder. Like any other challenge you face in life, pray first, ask questions later. Once you pray, The Lord will then direct your steps. Sometimes, He just miraculously heals without the involvement of any human processes but sometimes He brings deliverance through processes that are already in existence.

2 Chronicles 16:12-13(NKJV) - And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.

Don't be Asa. Never trust physicians more than you trust God. The end! Okay, well not the end but you get my point. If you meet with doctors before you meet with God you might exacerbate your problem instead of getting a solution. Let me say something again, but this time in a different way. God will either miraculously heal you by His supernatural hand or He will use the hands of a medical professional or some other natural process. The point is, we must go to God first and then let Him direct the process.

Mark 5:25-28(NLT) - A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

The woman with the issue of blood spent all of her money at doctors before she ever got to Jesus who then healed her for free. We can't let the cart drive the horse and then be surprised when things don't work out. First, reach out and touch Jesus then He will either heal you instantly or He'll give you instructions to receive your healing like He did in John 9:7. This leads us to #2.

2) Explore Medical Options

Mark 2:17(NLT) - When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Colossians 4:14(NLT) - Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.

After prayer and by the direction of God, it is totally fine to visit the doctor for help. If something's wrong with your car you visit a mechanic. If something's wrong with your building you call a structural engineer or building contractor. If something's wrong with the electrical wiring in your house you call an electrician. If there's a pipe leaking you call a plumber. If something's wrong with your teeth you see a dentist. So if something's wrong with your body you see a doctor. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doctors. Luke, one of the disciples of Paul was a beloved doctor. Even Jesus acknowledged that people who are sick need a doctor so that's what they are there for.

There are many medical treatments available for infertility once the cause is known. When most of the treatments don't work they turn to in vitro fertilization. Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about in vitro fertilization;

"In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)."

As long as the husband's sperm and the wife's egg are used in the process I don't see any scriptural basis for objection. Their physical bodies are not functioning properly for some reason so a medical procedure has been created to bring healing to the process. Regardless of the way the sperm gets to the egg, under the right conditions, the biological process stays the same. What we don't control is how the spirit enters the embryo. That's God's decision.

Ecclesiastes 12:7(KJV) - Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Just like a spirit returns to God at death and the body decomposes, a human spirit comes from God at conception and the body starts to grow. Perhaps, the entrance of the spirit causes conception? Think about that. I believe that the spirit of a human being plays a role in controlling how DNA triggers the process of cell multiplication in a fertilized egg. This explains why even under perfect conditions, the process never works 100%. Doctors cannot guarantee that cell replication will take place resulting in the development of a fetus when they implant a sperm into an egg.

Jeremiah 1:4-6(NLT) - The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Did you see that? Jeremiah existed before his body was formed in his mother's womb, not just before birth. It's easy to acknowledge that God set him apart before birth because when you look at an ultrasound you see a person. However, how do you explain the fact that God knew him before he was even formed? Simple. The real Jeremiah existed before the physical Jeremiah and when the physical Jeremiah died, his body decomposed and his spirit returned to God.

Psalms 139:13-16(NLT) - You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Doctors do their part but God chooses whether or not the process of conception ever begins because there is no conception of a human without a human spirit that comes from God. This explains why no human being is a mistake. It doesn't matter the conditions of a sperm entering an egg, only God determines whether or not a fetus will form. He forms it. The only part of the process we control is the physical act of bringing the sperm and egg together whether through natural or scientifically enhanced processes. God determines if that embryo fully develops. Regardless, this brings us to #3 which is a stern warning.

3) Think Carefully Before Including A Third Person!

Genesis 16:1-6(NLT) - Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

One popular solution for infertility is the involvement of surrogates. In this situation, the sperm of a man is used to fertilize the egg of a woman outside of the body and the resulting embryo is placed into the womb of another woman. Sometimes, the couple desiring the baby donates the sperm and egg but many times, other people donate either the sperm or the egg or both. These donors can be anonymous. Though it sounds like a good idea when you first think of it, Abraham and Sarah tried their version of that option and it didn't turn out well.

When the process of conceiving a child involves three or four people the door swings open wide for drama. Right now, there's a famous actress who divorced her husband while a surrogate was carrying their baby. Since the "fertilized eggs" were not her own she claims that she's technically not the mother and should hold no responsibility for the child. The case is probably still dragging through the courts today. The person in the worst position in that situation is the surrogate mother who essentially plays the role of Hagar. She was just trying to help out and now she just can't win. This brings us to Option #4.

4) Adopt

Ephesians 1:3-5(NLT) - All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Do you know that every single one of us in The Body of Christ are adopted into His family? That's because we were born into sin and without Jesus are left outside of God's family. That's the example God set for us. When we were separated from Him and left out in the cold with only the devil as our father, God reached out and adopted us. If a Christian couple can't have children, adoption is always an option. That's why, the first step is always to pray. When you pray, God's solution might just be adoption.

James 1:27(NKJV) - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

What's the most important thing an orphan needs? A loving family! Right now there is a young lady living in your area contemplating aborting her unborn child because she knows she is not ready to be a mother. Why can't someone else who is willing and able raise the child? While there are Christian married couples crying out to God for a child of their own, there are unwed mothers crying out to God because they have children and can't take care of them. In the end, we end up with two problems. Parents who cannot or choose not to take care of their children and parents who cannot have children. Included in the first category are parents who died and left behind their children. Adoption is the solution to both problems.

We will end this blog today with a Word from The Lord;

Isaiah 54:1-6(NLT) - “Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's position on Divorce and Remarriage?

Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's position on Divorce and Remarriage?

We received the following question from J;

"Hi Donnell,
I have a question: My sister and I had a heated argument about divorcees remarrying. We both agree that divorce is only permissible in the case of infidelity but according to her interpretation of what the bible teaches (Mathew 5:32) a divorcee remarrying in any circumstances (once their spouse is alive) is a sin and against God's law. I on the other hand cannot accept this interpretation and argued that if there is infidelity resulting in a divorce, the exception “clause” in this scripture (or the innocent party) I believe is free to remarry. Why would Jesus make a point of mentioning an exception and turn around and tell the innocent party, you can divorce because your spouse broke the covenant, but you can never remarry for the rest of your life, unless it’s to the same cheating spouse (who now makes your skin crawl by the way) - it just does not make sense! What about secular people who went ahead and divorce (not for biblical reasons) and remarry and then became saved? wouldn’t they be given? This is just one of the scenarios I see in this complex issue and since divorce is not an unpardonable sin I cannot agree with her interpretation - Am I wrong?"

J, this is a trap question. What looks like the right answer may not be the only right answer. 🙂 I appreciate you asking it because now is as good a time as any to release a solid answer. I've been avoiding addressing it publicly for a long time but since we just started a church we won't be able to avoid addressing it too much longer. Regardless, I have to be very wise with my response because this answer affects us all. Divorce is much more common in the church these days than it's ever been. It's easy to blurt out an answer when you're either not in the situation or it doesn't affect you in any way.

As a result, people can have very strong opinions based on a narrow understanding of scripture while being very insensitive to other people's situations. However, when the answer affects you or people you love, you think twice before running your mouth. You stop giving your opinion and you dig deep into The Word of God for the truth. So let's start with the scripture you cited.

Matthew 5:32(AMP) - But I tell you, Whoever dismisses and repudiates and divorces his wife, except on the grounds of unfaithfulness (sexual immorality), causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced commits adultery.

One message in this scripture is clear. Unfaithfulness is grounds for divorce. Therefore, when a spouse makes the decision to have sexual relations with someone outside of the marriage, the covenant is broken and the option for bringing an end to the marriage is available to the spouse who remained faithful. That is what Jesus said. What Jesus did not say is that if one spouse is committing adultery it means the other spouse is free to also commit adultery. The two wrongs don't cancel each other out. The same way you can't steal from someone who stole from you and expect it to be alright you cannot respond to adultery with adultery. Adultery is still a sin whether or not the other spouse did it first. As long as you're still married the rules of marriage still apply.

Now concerning remarriage, the message is not so clear in this scripture even though it seems to be so. Jesus first said that divorce is permitted as a response to unfaithfulness and that's easy to see. However, he follows that up by saying that the divorced person cannot be remarried without committing adultery. That's where the confusion lies. Does He really mean it's okay to get a divorce when a spouse cheats on you but it's not okay to remarry after getting that divorce He just permitted? This is why we have to thank God that there are four gospels. Four different writers heard Jesus say the same things and wrote them in four different ways. If you read something in one of the gospels and you need clarity, look it up in another gospel. Also, since none of us are native speakers of the Hebrew or Greek language from which The Bible is translated, when there is confusion, we also have to balance scriptures by looking at different translations.

Matthew 19:3-9(NLT) - Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.

In a nutshell if there has been unfaithfulness in a marriage, the intentions of Jesus are captured in Matthew 19:9(NLT). In that unique case divorce and remarriage are permitted. However, before giving His response to the trap question, Jesus made it clear to those who would listen that marriage is valuable in the eyes of God. Divorce was never in God's plan. In God's eyes, marriage is forever. Divorce was only a concession due to the hardness of people's hearts. Therefore, it should never be an option when entering the marriage covenant. If you choose to get married, choose wisely because God expects you to stick with it until the end of your time on the earth.

As I stated earlier, this is a trap question and has been one since the days of Jesus on the earth. The New Living Translation makes it much easier to understand His response in Matthew 19:9. Here's the story behind this translation of The Bible according to BibleGateway.com;

"New Living Translation (NLT Bible)

The goal of any Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible to the modern reader. The New Living Translation is based on the most recent scholarship in the theory of translation. The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The end result is a translation that is easy to read and understand and that accurately communicates the meaning of the original text."

Here is the basis for your answer. Since modern speech has many nuances that help to convey meaning over and above the literal words being used the New Living Translation focuses on translating thoughts instead of just words. The same way you cannot translate Spanish to English or vice versa word for word without losing the essence of what's being said you cannot translate Hebrew or Greek to English word for word. That's how you end up with parts of some translated scriptures which appear to be inconsistent with a logical thought process. Every scripture that's translated to English should logically flow in a certain direction based on the thoughts being expressed. That's why I accept the New Living Translation of Matthew 19:9 as the answer to the question of divorce and remarriage.

Now, here's an interesting point. Since Jesus only spent a very short time addressing the issue of marriage and divorce, The Apostle Paul elaborated on it some more. It was his responsibility to bring structure to the church so he went into a little more detail than Jesus did on several issues including this one. Jesus already addressed infidelity as a concession for divorce so Apostle Paul did not have to repeat that. However, since his job was to address the situations facing the church at the time he could not take a hard-line stance without trying to understand what people were dealing with. Here's what Apostle Paul had to say;

1 Corinthians 7:10-16(NLT) - But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?

This is another concession for divorce that was created to address a situation they were currently facing. Christian women whose unsaved husbands walked out on them were stuck between a rock and a hard place. They didn't trigger the divorce and their husbands had no regard for the Biblical position on divorce because they were not saved in the first place. The same was taking place with husbands whose unsaved wives divorced them. They were stuck even though they did nothing wrong. The assumption here is that the couples got married when they were both unbelievers and one spouse became a believer during the course of the marriage. That's because The Bible discourages the initiation of marriage between Christians and non-Christians in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

So what's the conclusion of the entire matter? Jesus laid the foundation, then the Apostle Paul built upon it. The safest place to be is in a position where you can quote directly from the scriptures to support your position. However, there are issues we face today in the church that the Apostle Paul had not seen during his time. Issues like spousal abuse, child abuse or homosexuality during a marriage were not addressed directly. What do you do when your life is in danger as a result of spousal abuse? Do you stay married until the person kills you? What do you do if you find out your spouse is abusing your children? Do you keep your children in an abusive situation?

What do you do if your spouse decides to "come out of the closet" in the middle of your marriage? Do you stay married to a spouse who is gay? Had they faced these issues at that time they could have asked Apostle Paul and he would have addressed them in one of his letters to the churches. Hence, we would be able to quote the scripture to establish our position. However, what do we do when we cannot quote an exact scripture? We have to do the same thing Apostle Paul did. First, he outlined what was the direct commandment from The Lord. Once that was established he clearly stated that what he was about to say was not a commandment. He then gave the best advice he could based on the wisdom of God in his own heart.

That's how we handle divorce and remarriage now. The same way Apostle Paul did it. We outline the commandment first then we address people's personal situations and give them the best advice we could give them based on the wisdom of The Holy Ghost within us. If Apostle Paul drew a hard line and just quoted what Jesus said, he would not have given the concession for Christian spouses to divorce unsaved spouses who walked out on them. However, he did just that. He was an Apostle so he dealt with people like a father. He loved them and did his best to help them deal with their issues in a Godly way. He was not a Pharisee. We must be willing to understand God's heart in dealing with people's lives but we must be sure not to confuse Godly advice with a command from God. What's The Bible's position on Divorce and Remarriage? It depends! The command is no divorce or remarriage without adultery. Now let's address your situation and see how The Holy Spirit directs us.

16

Ask Donnell: How Will God Confirm Someone As Your Future Wife?

Ask Donnell: How Will God Confirm Someone As Your Future Wife?

We received the following question from a Christian brother;

"If God tells you that He is entrusting you with someone what does that mean? Also, does it spell confirmation that the young lady is your wife?"

Psalm 37:23(NKJV) - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.

"I don't know all the factors that determine a succesful marriage but marrying the right person certainly helps." - Anonymous

Great question brother. I have heard it said several times that God doesn't get involved in your choice of a spouse. It's really up to you. It's really one of those decisions that is left to personal preference. God gives you choices and you have to make one. Is that really true? Let's see. On one extreme, some people credit God for decisions that do not involve God. I acknowledge that people have abused the prophetic gift and have pretended to hear from The Lord concerning a potential spouse. I know of both men and women who have heard "The Lord" tell them they were supposed to marry someone and were completely wrong.

However, let's not go on the other extreme and think God wants nothing to do with the decision. Is it really true that the selection of a spouse should be completely up to you without the involvement of God? After seeing some of the disastrous decisions people have made when selecting a spouse I surely hope not. Would God really abandon us to make one of the most important decisions of our lives on our own? Would He leave it up to chance knowing that if we get it wrong we could pay the consequences for the rest of our lives? What does The Bible say?

Proverbs 3:5-6(KJV) - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

In how many ways should we acknowledge Him? All! What does that mean? God will direct your path in any area of your life that you choose to allow Him to direct. Yes, He has an opinion. He knows the future. He can tell you if you are making the right decision or you're about to make the worst decision of your life. Trust in The Lord with all of your heart. What could be more a matter of the heart than marriage? If there's any decision that needs to be directed by God, it's this one.

Like any other decision God won't make the decision for you but He sure can tell you which decision to make if you ask Him. He didn't force you to choose Christ but He pointed you in the right direction. It was your decision to choose Christ. The same goes for your wife. James 1:5 says if you lack wisdom ask God and He will give it to you. How does He give wisdom?

Psalm 119:105 says that God guides you through His Word. John 16:13 says that The Holy Spirit guides you into all truth. Proverbs 11:14 says that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Proverbs 31 describes the type of wife any man should desire. Proverbs 21:19 and 27:15 describe the type of wife no man should desire. 1 Corinthians 17 defines how single and married people should act. These are just a few of the ways in which God can guide your decision. Now on to your specific question. 🙂

Question: "If God tells you that He is entrusting you with someone what does that mean? Also, does it spell confirmation that the young lady is your wife?"

Hmm... God is entrusting you with someone. It sounds like He's trusting you to take care of someone. Does that sound like the role of a husband? Let's not make anything up, the easiest way to approach this is to understand the role of a husband as defined in The Bible. Let's see what it says.

Ephesians 5:25-30(AMP) - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, Because we are members (parts) of His body.

God expects a husband to nourish, carefully protect and cherish his wife like he would his own body. That sounds like God entrusts the wife to her husband. If you're wondering if that young lady He spoke to you about is the one God has for you then what God told you could be a sign. On its own it may have many interpretations but you just need to combine it with the other ways God guides you, some of which I mentioned earlier. God will speak through His Word, His Spirit and His people. If you've heard from Him in all the other ways and then He told you that He is entrusting her to you I think you need to start saving your money for that ring. 🙂 Anyway, let me stop. This is serious business.

If God is saying something to you then you should feel safe to seek confirmation. Emotions also speak so if your emotions contradict God's Word, He'll say something different through an alternate avenue. Every way in which God speaks should be consistent. He will continue to say the same thing including what He says to her concerning you. This is no easy decision but it sure helps when you can hear God's voice clearly and it's confirmed. There's no need to rush, make assumptions or draw your own conclusions. You definitely want to get this one right.

11

Ask Donnell - How Was Jesus The Role Model For Husbands?

Ask Donnell - How Was Jesus The Role Model For Husbands?

Today's blog is Part 4 in this week's series on Biblical manhood. If you're a man, a woman with a man or one who wants a man this series is for you. Click for Part 3; "Manhood According To Jesus"

I received the following question from Nick;

"You said that Jesus is the perfect role model and He set the standard for manhood. If a man just models his life after Jesus he's a real man. Isn't that correct? Well Jesus never married during his 33 years walking the earth so how was He the role model for husbands? What's the pattern He left behind that we should follow?"

If you've been following this series you would know that it all started after I attended a men's breakfast last Saturday. So today's blog is based on a follow up question I received after giving my answer to the initial question; "What is a man?" I ended my response by saying Jesus is the ultimate man and if we could just model our lives after Jesus we would completely grasp manhood at its finest. I then outlined a few qualities of note that Jesus exhibited while He walked the earth. After receiving a few smiles, a muffled "Amen" and some nods of approval, today's question came in.

Nick gave some background information before actually asking his question so that the men would understand where he was coming from. I thank God for that because the extra time it took for him to finish his question gave me an opportunity to think. I was initially stuck for a few seconds but The Holy Ghost laid it on me in an instant.

How is it possible for Jesus to be the ideal husband if He never married? Who exactly are husbands supposed to model their lives after if our perfect example was a single man? I responded to the question at the time in a different way but when I got home this is what The Lord showed me.

How was Jesus Christ the role model for husbands?

The relationship of Christ to The Church is the standard for marriage.

Ephesians 5:22-33(NKJV) - Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This is the best teaching on marriage in The Bible in my humble opinion. You really can't beat this. As I stated earlier, no man that ever lived on the earth could compare to Jesus. How was Jesus the role model for husbands? Though He never married a woman, His relationship to The Church remains the standard for marriage. When Apostle Paul was looking for a relationship after which to model marriage he could find none better. Therefore, he said husbands love your wives as Christ loved The Church. How did Jesus show us love?

John 15:13(KJV) - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus loved us so much that He gave Himself for us. His love cost Him everything, even His physical life. That's how high He set the bar for husbands. With Jesus as the example, if you are a husband will you give yourself for your wife? That doesn't only mean would you give up your life to save her. That hero stuff is only necessary when she's in danger. What's interesting is that when Apostle Paul talked about Jesus giving Himself for The Church He made no mention of The Cross. Yes, husbands show love when they give their lives for their wives but it means more than dying for her in Ephesians 5:22-33.

Ask Donnell - How Was Jesus The Role Model For Husbands?

Ephesians 5:25-26(NKJV) - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

This is what Jesus did for us. He gave us His Word. He spoke words that were spirit and life according to John 6:63. His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection gave us eternal life but it's those words He spoke while He was alive that guide our lives everyday. Jesus spoke words to strengthen us and cleanse our hearts. His words hidden in our hearts keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11). His words help us to live holy. He sent His word and it healed us (Psalm 107:20). His word enlightens us and shows us where to go (Psalm 119:105, 130).

John 17:13-17(KJV) - And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

How are we sanctified? Through the truth of The Word of God. That's what Jesus gave us when He gave Himself for us. John 1 says that He is The Word made flesh. So by giving Himself for us, He gave His Word to us. When Jesus came to earth He showed husbands a dimension of love that we don't always recognize and that's the power of our words. One of the most powerful ways we can show love to our wives is by speaking The Word of God into her and over her on a daily basis. That way, The Word would sanctify and cleanse her heart from everything that shouldn't be there.

Every hurt, every pain, all bitterness, every failure from a wife's past should meet The Word of God face to face everyday as it comes out of the mouth of her husband. That's what Christ has done for The Church and that's the standard set for us. Don't just watch what you say to your wife. Speak The Word of God with the authority you receive as the head of the house so that it would do to her life what it has done to The Church.

Ephesians 5:27-29(NKJV) - that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

Pay close attention to something here. Why did Christ invest all the time and energy into sanctifying, cleansing and washing us with His Word? So that He could present us back to Himself. Do you see that? He knew what kind of church He wanted so He invested Himself into building us up to that level. That's exactly what God expects of husbands. It's our job to pour The Word of God into our wives to fashion them into the women God has called them to be.

We're not supposed to assume they'll get there on their own. That's why they have us. They're not alone anymore. If The Church needs Christ to help shape us into who He wants us to be wives need their husbands to help them develop into who they're supposed to be. That's right! God expects us to help them. If we're the leaders we're supposed to lead them into the fullness of what God has for them.

The same way we take care of our bodies we're supposed to nourish and cherish our wives. We're supposed to feed her with God's Word and protect her heart from the enemy. If Adam was covering Eve in that way, the devil would have had to go through Adam to get to Eve in The Garden of Eden instead of going through Eve to get to Adam.

In sum, Jesus didn't have to marry a woman to teach husbands how to be husbands. He set the standard by His relationship with The Church. God has given husbands authority to speak things into the lives of their wives. Why not speak The Word of God today? Let it mold and shape her into the woman of God you always dreamed of. She's not going to get there on her own if God put you there to do it. That's how Christ loved The Church so let's love our wives the same way. Jesus gave Himself for The Church. He gave His heart. He gave His time. He gave what was important to Him. He modeled the role of the husband in a marriage. It's our turn to follow His example.

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