The disciples were stunned. Of all the things they thought Jesus might have said about marriage, what he actually said left them incredulous; so much so that they expressed their struggle with the observation that maybe it would be better to never marry (Matthew 19:10). In a time and culture where every Jewish man was raised with the mandate to marry and procreate, Jesus’ statement was shocking.
What did Jesus say that left them so astonished?
That marriage was meant to be forever.
So why isn't it?
Why is the divorce rate so high? Why have so many people given up on marriage entirely and chosen to simply cohabitate as friends with benefits? Why have we wandered so far away from what God intended? Why is marriage so often not 4ever?
There are many reasons and factors involved, but one of the most basic is simply this: like the disciples, many of us have forgotten that marriage is supposed to be 4ever. The idea of it lasting all of life is considered by many to be naive, restrictive, archaic and even abusive. As a result, many people marry with the full intention of divorcing when it gets too hard or difficult. A 4ever marriage is viewed as more than can be reasonably expected and so non-committed cohabitation, separation or divorce are preferred as the only reasonable alternatives. In spite of our pragmatic conclusions, however, Jesus' words still stand. God designed marriage to be 4ever. Our task is not to invent clever arguments to avoid the hard reality of Jesus' teachings but rather to find ways to make our marriages last 4ever.
The second major factor involved here is that we have also forgotten the power of small things. Small acts of love and small habits not only make 4ever possible, they change the atmosphere of our marriage and our attitude toward it. More and more research shows the life-changing power of simple habits over time. Small habits and actions really can make big things possible. So, rather than view marriage as an endurance contest or a life-long journey into boredom, small habits can keep it fresh, vital, and growing stronger through the years.
The disciples had forgotten these truths and so Jesus reminded them. Many of us also need to be reminded for we also have forgotten. That's why we are going to spend the next five Sundays reminding ourselves that marriage is 4ever and that some small habits and practices make 4ever possible. Specifically we will talk about:
April 27 The 4ever promise of future love
May 4 The practices of 4ever oneness
May 11 The choice to love 4ever
May 18 Best Friends 4ever
May 25 4ever Faithful
So why should you care?
Maybe you are widowed or divorced; maybe you are single and planning to stay that way; or maybe you have given up on marriage entirely. Why would this series on marriage interest you?
Do you know people moving toward marriage? Do you have children who might marry? Do you want to know what God intends so you can pray and encourage others to stay married 4ever? For all these reasons and many more, this series matters. God does not make mistakes and his plan for marriage is still in place, so if you are married or moving toward marriage you need to hear this truth. If you are not married and probably won't be, you need to know how to pray and encourage those who are.
You never know: Jesus just might surprise you like he surprised his disciples.
As another great Sparks year came to and end, the anticipation of Prayer Pal Night grew and grew in our house. “Mom. Do you know who my Prayer Pal is?” was the question of the week!
I was privileged to be involved with Sparks this year from a few angles. As a
mom of a Spark, as the grade 4-5 leader and as a Secret Prayer Pal. Each one such a
blessing. It was fun to buy little gifts and cards for my Pal through the year to let her
know that I was praying for her. It was so cool to see the joy in my daughters eyes as
she received little packages from her Pal. And knowing that someone from our SBC
community was praying for her was so special.
On the actual evening, I got to bring three Sparks with me! Let me tell you, these
girls were excited! Hair curled, straightened and all pulled up. Outﬁts carefully chosen.
The chatter in the back of the van was priceless. Each girl so excited to meet their Pal.
Finally, the big moment. There were gifts and smiles being exchanged and the whole
gym was ﬁlled with excited chatter. For me, as a Prayer Pal, it was great to meet my
Pal and her mom. I had been praying for them all year and as we chatted over coffee
and dessert, I feel like I really got to know them! For my daughter Makenna, meeting
her Pal, Misty, was so exciting. She got a special jewelry box and bracelet that Misty
has chosen for her on the Missions trip to Mexico. She loved it.
Caroline Isaak was our special speaker for the evening. She shared from
Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with
unfailing kindness.” She summed up our two themes for the year perfectly by reminding
us that not only are we encouraged to pursue God and constantly keep our eyes on
Jesus, but he pursues us as well and loves us unconditionally! Then she had us stand
up and do these crazy arm moves, that she must have practiced for hours, and say,
“Jesus loves me no matter what!.”
It was a great evening and a great way to end the Sparks year. It left me looking
forward to next year and who my Sparks Pal might be! I would encourage you to
pray about being a Secret Prayer Pal for a Spark next year. There are Prayer Pals that
are in their teens, Prayer Pals that are Grandmaʼs, and everything in between. What a
blessing it is to be able to be a special part of a young girls' journey as she gets to know
and love Jesus!
Photo Credits: Angella Dykstra and Amanda Brown (Thanks Angella and Amanda!)
This past Sunday, the Mexico team shared personal testimonies about their time in Mexico. Steven Cogbill put together this fantastic video which shows the team in action:
Pastor Mikel surprised the team with this heartfelt video from Jose and Ines, expressing their thanks to the team for blessing their family. In case you missed it, here it is:
In March, Back Porch Gospel embarked on a tour in Alberta including many wonderful places with terrific people and amazing opportunities to share life and hope with people of diverse and sometimes sordid backgrounds. We saw several men in the Bodden Prison give their lives to Christ; many seniors get inspired by seeing the Chomlacks and Woolseys invest their time, talents and resources in ministry to Japan; and precious billet families become forever friends! I am constantly amazed at all the things that boggle my mind (which anyone who knows me would not be surprised at!) and must be filed in my gray matter as ‘Mysteries’. The older I get, the more things I have no answer for, and the more I realize I don’t know. One the other hand, the older I get, the more I am satisfied with not knowing and simply trusting the Lord with all those things that are too deep for me (Psalm 139:6).
Some examples of the mysteries I speak of could be illustrated by these photos:
This is one of the stained glass windows we played under at 1st Baptist church in Calgary. Who could visualize such a piece of artwork and take the meticulous effort to fit every tiny piece or colored glass perfectly in place so that it emerged as a beautiful piece of art?
Or when we heard the amazing majestic richness of the pipe organ fill that church with pure, high tones and low rumbling bass vibrations... how did that gifted organist play on three stacked keyboards and a multitude of pedals when he only has two hands and two feet?
What about the home we stayed in where the retired gentleman, who was also a craftsman, made unique pieces of art like this one with a fully detailed tall sailing ship (complete with masts, sails, lines, hand rails, cannons etc.) built inside a light bulb and mounted in a carved wooden frame that was suspended in mid-air. I was amazed to learn that the only connection to the frame is a loose piece of fishing line at the bottom attaching the suspended light bulb to the base and upper arm!
Now I am not a particularly bright fellow, and my intellectual capacity is pretty limited, but I am quite inquisitive and would like to know how all these things work. I am also a deep thinker when it comes to God and the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the things that He does. The thing that satisfies me and keeps me on track is that God is a God of mystery and His ways are far beyond mine. I must accept those facts instead of thinking that unless I completely understand everything, it can’t be so! The New Testament refers to a mystery twenty-seven times and in almost all cases it is referring to the mysteries of GOD! Why would I think I could know all of that? How do kids survive when there is so much they don’t know? Answer: they trust their parents to care for them even though they don’t understand all the details and can’t control all circumstances.
The bottom line for me and for you is that the mystery of God is revealed (in increasing measure as we mature and grow in understanding) in the person of Jesus ... who lives within us through repentance and surrender. What we don’t know and understand will be revealed in His time and only when we are ready to comprehend it. In the mean time... relax and enjoy rest in the strong arms of the One who has it all figured out... because He is the source of all Mysteries and knowledge!
“God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is.... Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27