We are excited to announce some new features to the blogsite. As more and more readers are viewing from foreign countries we have added the translate feature to the site. Our readers can also now choose to have the blog emailed to them, and they can search the blog by keywords on various topics. We hope that this makes the site more manageable for you. God Bless.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

“Sacred Marriage-Love”

(part 2 of 2)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”

1 John 4:7

Many people get distraught in their marriages because they equate love with their emotions. When they read in Scripture that we are to “love one another”, “love our spouse” and even “love our enemies” they become discouraged because they cannot seem to manufacture the emotion of love towards that person.

However, when God instructed us to love one another, He did not intend for us to attempt to manufacture an emotion. He intended for us to choose to sacrifice.

“My command is this, ‘Love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

How is it that Jesus Christ demonstrated his love for us?

“Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

As I read this, I am convinced that to “lay down one’s life” has deeper implications than to merely “die” for someone. To lay one’s life down suggests that I am willing in a moment to lay aside my will, my needs, and my desires and choose to sacrifice for another regardless of the personal cost to me.

Marriage provides us with these moments every day. Times I must choose to love when my spouse doesn’t reciprocate love towards me. Times I must choose to love when my spouse’s actions, attitudes and words have hurt me. Times I must choose to love when the “emotional idea” of love has waned and I am left feeling alone and disconnected.

Beyond our relationship with God, there are few relationships, like marriage, that require a 24 hour a day, seven days a week commitment. It would seem that maintaining such a discipline would be impossible. However, Romans 5:5 tells us that:

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Every one of us is created with the capacity to “love”! Marriage provides us with daily opportunities to demonstrate love towards our spouse. In doing so, we draw closer to our spouses and closer to God.

(This marriage series was developed from principles taken from the book “Sacred Marriage” by author Gary Thomas.)

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, September 22, 2011

“Sacred Marriage-Love”

(part 1 of 2)

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the Church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:32-33

It is evident from this passage that the context of marriage was given to us by God to teach us truth. So often times we view marriage as simply, a framework for family, but marriage is a teacher! Marriage gives us opportunity, through close relationship, to develop and demonstrate Godly character. It teaches us how to love, respect others, address sin, exercise forgiveness, and serve. Marriage is about spiritual growth.

Over the past couple of months, the marriage home groups at our church have been utilizing a book by Gary Thomas called “Sacred Marriage.” The premise of the book is- “What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us happy?” What if God’s divine purpose for marriage was to build His character into our lives, so that every trial, joy, apprehension, and victory we face as a couple draws us closer to God?

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at a few of the things that marriage can teach us, which will not only result in a better marriage, but also develop the character of God in us.

So let’s start in Matthew 22:37-40:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands.”

It is clear from Matthew 22 that God desires for us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. It is also obvious that He desires for us to love those we are in close relationship with. So how does marriage teach us to love?

First let’s define “love”. The world defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection, an infatuation, a fleeting emotion.” However, scripture does not equate love with a fleeting emotion. It presents love as a divine attribute of God:

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:8

God is not temporal and God is certainly not fleeting, which means that real love is not meant to be temporal or fleeting. John goes on to describe what true love looks like:

“This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
1 John 4:10

Love is a choice. It is choosing to sacrifice for another individual regardless of the personal cost to you. It is not driven by emotion, but by being in a relationship with “Love” Himself!

(This marriage series was devoloped from principles taken from the book “Sacred Marriage” by author Gary Thomas.)

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, September 15, 2011

“As We Stand Warming Ourselves”

“It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around the fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself.”
John 18:18

After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was bound and taken to the High Priest. Peter lingered in the shadows following the soldiers and religious leaders as they led Jesus into the courtyard and shut the gate.

When Peter came to the gate, the girl on duty asked him:

“You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”
John 18:17

After denying being one of his disciples, Peter made his way over to the fire where he stood with those who were warming themselves. Bound, like a common criminal, Jesus was interrogated by the officials regarding His disciples and His teaching. He was ridiculed and struck in the face as Peter “stood warming himself”.

Peter’s denial led him down a dangerous path. Like Peter, once you “deny” Jesus you will begin to gravitate toward that which makes you comfortable. Peter could of stayed in the shadows, but rather chose to stay warm, even if it compromised his identity. Once he began to cater to his “comfort”, it was not long before he found himself standing with those who opposed Jesus. A careful reading of Scripture does not indicate that he joined them in verbally condemning Jesus, however regardless of what he said or did not say…he was with them! And the longer that you stand with them, the easier it becomes to deny him.

“As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove? Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.”
John 18:25-27

“Didn’t I see you with him?” is such a telling question. In the Book of Acts, the religious leaders of their day commented that the disciples where “unschooled, ordinary men, but they took note that they had been with Jesus.” The very thing that would later set them apart, Peter was now adamantly denying!

We should not, however, judge Peter too harshly as we consider our own track record. As the Body of Christ stood warming themselves…prayer was taken out of school. As we stood warming ourselves…abortion was legalized. As we stood warming ourselves…same-sex marriage was passed. As we stood warming ourselves…our military chaplains were silenced.

It is the first word of verse 19 that tears at my heart… “Meanwhile”! While he was warming himself by the fire, Jesus’ accusers went unopposed! Peter’s denial encompassed more that the words he spoke. He denied Him when he joined Jesus’ accusers around the fire. He denied Him when, as they spoke against Jesus, he remained silent.

Let us consider today if we have gravitated toward that which makes us comfortable, if we have found ourselves standing with those who oppose Him and have remained silent, and if we have found it easy to deny our faith in the face of opposition.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“The Fellowship of His Suffering”

(part 3)

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

1 Peter 4:12-13

As I write these words, Christians and churches throughout the world are suffering under the weight of intense persecution. We have fellowshipped with them in many ways-through prayer support, by supplying food, releasing finances, and sending missions teams to encourage and build. However, at the end of the day, the genuineness of our faith is not communicated as much by what we pray or give, as it is by our willingness to share in the sufferings of Christ:

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Romans 8:17

This is what they recognized in Paul that caused them to receive him as “genuine”-
His willingness to “share in the fellowship of Jesus suffering!” They praised God because He was more than a “Christian” in name only. He put his life where his mouth is…and lived for the sake of the gospel. Paul told Timothy:

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

2 Timothy 1:8

Paul now approached his life with a new mission:

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.”

Philippians 3:10

The church that he so readily persecuted had now watched Paul’s life and seen that his faith and commitment to following Christ were authentic. He was willing to go beyond the normal expressions of his faith such as praying for them, giving in the offering and breaking bread to lay down his life and suffer for the Glory of God.

I heard a story recently of a minister who asked a missionary couple of a church overseas- “How do you pray for the church in America?” The couple stumbled around for a moment before telling him… “We pray that you will experience persecution!” In large part, we are unable to identify with the Body of Christ around the world because we have never experienced or shared in the sufferings of Christ.

If we are truly going to be credible to the Body of Christ, as a whole, then we must start living our lives so that those who are “giving their lives” for the gospel will recognize the genuineness of our faith.

Pastor Scott Burr