Monday, February 29, 2016

Keep Falling in Love with Your Wife

How do I keep falling in love with my wife? Is that even in my control? It's no secret, at least to those that are married, that the warm, fuzzy feelings simmer down after a few months. What I want to convince you of is that those feelings are something you can make increase. Just a few thoughts:

Do loving things for your spouse and your feelings of love will grow.

Here's a principle from Psalm 119:32 about falling in love with God that also applies to our marriages, "I shall run in the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart." In other words, when you're heart doesn't feel full of love for God, obey Him anyway, and He will start to make it feel full of love. How does that apply to our marriages though? Gentleman, I present to you, God's marriage commandments about loving your wife.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” -Ephesians 5:25

The command to love your wife refers to the 'do' of love or the 'verb' of love. So obey God and just do it, give your wife a massage, do the laundry for her, buy her flowers, tell her the good thoughts you have about her, and most of all pray for her daily. I promise you, because the Word of God cannot lie, that He will make those feelings grow that seemed lacking at the time. Your service to her will have the bonus of causing her love to increase as well. The best wisdom I got before getting married was not a warning, it was a command and encouragement from a brother saying, "Keep loving her. You'll love her more and more every year." I thought, that has to be right, Christians are never stagnant and pleased with their amount of love, they always fight for more, and will always have more. So, here's another command from God for Him to enlarge your heart by.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19

I've always found that the command to rejoice in something is best executed through giving thanks about that thing. For example, if I don't feel happy about my job, I will give thanks and my heart grabs onto the reasons that I'm reminded of. Thanksgiving is certainly commanded throughout scripture. So if you're not having the feelings of rejoicing, then give God thanks for your wife and you'll soon find yourself rejoicing in her. Just think about her lovely form. Think about how she loves you, despite all of your failings! Think about all of her virtues. Think of how she loves God. Think of how she hates the faults she has and is seeking to overcome them.

Whether you are a husband or a wife, seek to love your spouse, and know that God’s Word will not fail you; your heart will be enlarged.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Opal Ring and The Piping Bullfinch

During a time of long pain and suffering from an illness, Mrs. Spurgeon was often left alone at home due to Pastor Charles being engaged in many Pastoral duties. She added the following story, which he left out in the first draft of C.H. Spurgeon: Autobiography Vol 2, and it is a great thing she did add it, because I think this may be one of my absolute favorites:

"While sick, Mrs. Spurgeon had one very remarkable instance of a desire of hers being granted by what cannot but be accepted as a Divine interposition. Her husband often used to ask if there were anything she would like him to get for her. The usual answer was a negative as she said she had all she needed except health. But one day in a half-bantering tone she said, “I should like an opal ring and a piping bullfinch!” Her husband was surprised, but replied, “Ah, you know I cannot get those for you!” For several days the curious request was laughed over, and then it passed from the memories of both husband and wife.

            Mrs. Spurgeon herself shall tell the sequel of the story. “One Thursday evening, on his return from the Tabernacle, he (the preacher) came into my room with such a beaming face and such love-lighted eyes, that I knew something had delighted him very much. In his hand he held a tiny box, and I am sure his pleasure exceeded mine as he took from it a beautiful little ring and placed it on my finger. "There is your opal ring, my darling." he said, and then he told me of the strange way in which it had come. An old lady whom he had once seen when she was ill, sent a note to the Tabernacle to say she desired to give Mrs. Spurgeon a small present, and could someone be sent to her to receive it. Mr. Spurgeon's private secretary went accordingly and brought the little parcel, which, when opened, was found to contain this opal ring. How we talked of the Lord's tender love for His stricken child and of His condescension in thus stooping to supply an unnecessary gratification to His dear servant's sick one, I must leave my readers to imagine; but I can remember feeling that the Lord was very near to us. “Not long after that I was moved to Brighton, there to pass a crisis in my life, the result of which would be a restoration to better health, or death. One evening, when my dear husband came from London, he brought a large package with him, and, uncovering it, disclosed a cage containing a lovely piping bullfinch! My astonishment was great, my joy unbounded, and these emotions were intensified as he related the way in which he became possessed of the coveted treasure. He had been to see a dear friend of ours, whose husband was sick unto death, and after commending the sufferer to God in prayer, Mrs. T said to him, "I want you to take my pet bird to Mrs. Spurgeon, I would give him to none but her, his songs are too much for my poor husband in his weak state, and I know that 'Bully' will interest and amuse Mrs. Spurgeon in her loneliness while you are so much away from her." Mr. Spurgeon then told her of my desire for such a companion, and together they rejoiced over the care of the loving Heavenly Father who had so wondrously provided the very gift His child had longed for. With that cage beside him the journey to Brighton was a very short one, and when Bully piped his pretty song and took a hemp seed as a reward from the lips of his new mistress, there were eyes with joyful tears in them and hearts overflowing with praise to God in the little room by the sea that night, and the dear Pastor's comment was, 'I think you are one of your Heavenly Father's spoiled children, and He just gives you whatever you ask for."'

If you're wondering how the special care of God for Mrs. Spurgeon applies to you, know that every child of God is a spoiled one; given abundant grace and the privilege of children to "ask whatever you wish, and receive." 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hell on Trial by Robert Peterson

Eternal Hell is Real

I never liked the doctrine of eternal Hell and I still don't enjoy it. However, I now glorify God for the truth after reading this book. I read it eagerly, as I had just been praying for God to help me understand this doctrine and I'd spent far too long feeling unconvinced that Hell is really a place of everlasting torment. I'm no Greek expert, but some Annihilationists (those who believe Hell is not eternal) put up some convincing arguments... or "ear-tickling" ones if you will. Dr. Peterson helped dispel those myths. 

1. Old Testament

The author starts with verses in the Old Testament that prepared the Jewish people to have a full understanding of Hell when Jesus came along. 

"And they shall go forth, and look on the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh."
-Isaiah 66:24

As this verse was explained my mind started to change. The kindness of God led me to repent and accept the meaning of eternal Hell. What does it mean for a fire to not be quenched? Well, what happens when your thirst is not quenched? You keep drinking. The fact that the fire needs to keep drinking something proves that there will always be an object for its consumption.

2. The Redeemer's Words on Hell

I loved that the next step from the Old Testament was Jesus. Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. That deserves repeating, Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. Now, considering that Jesus is the most loving person in the Bible, why are people always quick to tell preachers that speak on Hell that they aren't loving like Jesus? It's because of a lack of Bible study. So the next question is why did Jesus talk about Hell so much? It's because the loving Christ did not want His listeners to go there. He wanted them to be lovingly warned, and His warnings were thorough!

Three times in the Gospel of Matthew, He refers to Hell as a place of "outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth." He also quotes the Isaiah verse mentioned above, often. He says it's better to cut out your eye than to go to Hell. He sets it alongside eternal life as its opposite and calls it eternal destruction. He talks about it so much Dr. Peterson had to write a book to contain all of the quotations and I'm running out of space. Let's just leave it at those few quotations. I highly recommend the book for a more extensive verse list and a Greek defense if that's what you were looking for. Hint: there's nothing about the Greek that suggests Hell is just annihilation.

3. What I Would Add

Recently, God showed me that He delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. This is something I also want to say again, because it has helped me understand how the abounding, loving heart of God is also the heart that wills for men to go to Hell. God delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. Lamentations 3:33 says "He does not afflict from His heart." Ezekiel 18:23 says He "does not delight in the death of the wicked." God is not a maniacal torturer who enjoys watching suffering. He is a loving Judge and a just Judge, who rejoices that the scales of justice are balanced. 

Glorify God for it

These scriptures are why I believe in eternal Hell. God's justice is why I glorify Him for it. Praise Him for His justice like the angels do. Warn people. Fear is uncomfortable, but healthy, so let's stop being sheepish and scare people about it. Jesus did! He said "do not fear him who can kill the body, but fear Him, who after killing the body can destroy both body and soul in Hell." If I were a doctor and my patient wouldn't believe they had cancer, I would scare them into believing and being treated, and that would be the most loving thing to do. I would tell my dying patient, I love and care about them, but to leave it at that would not be loving and caring. Let's not be shy to preach "the whole counsel of God." I pray that all who read this would live it. Thanks for your time.