Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The One that is God’s Best

 Over the past several months I have seen a number of blog posts and even videos addressing the question, does God have “one” person for me to marry, or, can I miss “the one” God has for me? Their conclusion was that God does not have one specific person for you to marry. Now, it’s not that these articles/video were not well written or don’t make good points, they are, and they make some GREAT points. I just don’t totally agree with the main point. While it is true that a spouse is not “the one” in that they will not complete and satisfy you (if you think that than there’s an idolatry issue), I do believe that God has a specific person that is “the one” for you to marry. I say this, and I'm nowhere close to being married yet!

In Scripture we find that God is sovereign over all of life, even, I believe, over our personal choices. It has been interesting to note that the one’s who are saying that God does not have one specific person for us are Reformed (have a higher view of God’s sovereignty). It’s rather bizarre to me that at least in this particular area my non-Reformed friends are holding tighter to God’s sovereignty than the others are. Really, if God is sovereign in one area, isn’t He also in another? If God is sovereign doesn’t He have a particular plan for your life – including who you should marry? (And vice versa I might add – either God is sovereign or He’s not!) Now it is right to address the fact that you can get obsessed with finding “the right one” and worrying before and after marriage if they are “the right one”. We should NOT go through our married life wondering if we married the right one or not. As far as I’m concerned, and Scripture would validate this, once you’re married – they’re the right one, (although with a few exceptions,1 especially if a spouse dies, there very well may be another “one” that God has for that later time).

However, just because something happens or is ordained by God, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing. God is sovereign over our choices in that He is working all things according to His purpose and for our good (Rom 8:28), but I do think that you can miss out on something “better” if you are not walking in obedience and submission. The way I see it, God has two wills: an ordained will and a desired will, and these are not always the same.2 His ordained will is what will happen. He has all the details of your life planned including where you will go to school, what jobs you will have, who you will marry. At the same time, God often has a “desired will” that may be different. For example, God does not want us to sin, but He allows it, ordains it (for what God allows He also must have ordained). God’s desire in situations like this is for us not to sin, but yet often we still do. It’s similar when we go through trials. God does not afflict His children “willingly” (Lam 3:33) but He still allows and ordains suffering to come into our lives. The reason is that He has a greater purpose. So we can see that God’s ordained will (what He ordains or allows to happen) is different from His desired will. When it comes to sin, I think we all realize that it’s “better” to just obey and not sin than to sin and deal with the consequences that result. To apply this toward the topic at hand, God has one specific person planned for you to marry (maybe more if they die), but it is possible for God to "desire" someone else for you that perhaps would been “better” and made life easier and nicer. We make choices every day and often have to take the consequences. While God makes “all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) that does not mean that another choice couldn’t have been “better” in the sense that there would be less conflict, consequences, etc. to deal with. (see footnote 2 at bottom.)

I want to re-emphasize that we should NOT go through life wondering if we “married the right one”3… what’s past is past, and you have to just trust that God's purpose is best, that He will use it for good in your life and keep moving forward. There is great hope in this! God forgives our mistakes and gives abundant grace for our future. We can not “fix” the past (and usually when we try to we end up sinning or making things worse). If you’re married, you’re married to the right one. If you're not married yet, stop worrying about "finding the right one" and focus on who you're meant to be. And who you're meant to be is a child of God, the bride of Christ. If God has someone He desires for you to marry, you don't need to worry about "missing" them if you are seeking Him first and foremost. Marriage is great and a beautiful picture of Christ and the church, but the reality is, there will be no marriage in Heaven. Our lives must be about Jesus, for that is what they were meant to be.  The point I’m driving at is that you need to trust that God is sovereign over this area of your life and has a specific plan. Pray, seek wise counsel, and walk in obedience and faith. 

Trust Him dear brothers and sisters, for He loves you more than any other could. Though you may have suffering, He is faithful and has a purpose for your pain. Trust Him and you will come through stronger. 

1. From my understanding of Scripture, divorce is permitted if there is persistent or unrepentant sin in the breaking of marital vows. This would include (but not limited to): abandonment, emotional or physical affairs (by emotional I mean that the heart is involved - see Matthew 5:27-28), as well as emotional, physical, spiritual or other kinds of abuse…. Now, most or at least many will struggle with such sins, but again the key words here are persistent and unrepentant sin, not sin that genuinely is being fought against. If someone is in a marriage where there may be Biblical grounds for divorce, much wise counsel and prayer should be pursued. It should be remembered that it should be a last resort and that God “hates divorce” (Mal 2:16), but that it is allowed for the innocent party’s protection.
2. For more information about God’s two wills you might want to check out John Piper’s book Does God Have Two Wills?
3. Michael Patton does a great job addressing this on his blog: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/11/is-it-possible-to-marry-the-wrong-person/

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reading List! (February 1, 2014)

 Finished this month:

On Asking God Why by Elisabeth Elliot
I love Elisabeth Elliot! We all ask God “why” at some point or another, we all have trials, suffering, loss, disappointments to walk through, and here Elisabeth shares some of hers. This was an encouraging book as we learn to trust God in the midst of life’s trials.

“My questions were not answered, but I wanted to ‘see’ God, to know Him. So I kept on reading the Book, kept trying to apply it to my life, kept bringing my own thinking and conduct under its authority, seeking God’s meaning in every event that touched me, including Jim’s death and other crises. As God had promised, His Word proved true. He instructed me. He kept me. He held me. He showed me all I needed to know for life and godliness, although He did not unfold all I wanted to know for understanding.” (p. 140-141, emphasis hers)
 “Oh no, don’t speak of things being lost. Say rather that they are hidden – received and accepted and taken up into the secrets of the Divine mysteries, to be transformed and multiplied…” (p. 26)

Addictions – A Banquet in the Grave by Edward T. Welch
This is a crucial book for anyone seeking to know how to help others with addictions (even less “serious” ones). It was helpful to me as well as we all have addiction-tendencies in our human nature! Sin can be summed up in the word: idolatry and our desires can easily give way to loving things more than we should.
It is filled some great really practical teaching and it has questions at the end of each chapter for personal application and to help apply it in helping others. I would highly recommend this book, you will find it to refocus or sharpen your Christian life and equip you to help others who are struggling with specific addictions or any other sin.

“Any earthly desire that doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer is a lust that surpasses your desire for Jesus himself.” (p. 225)
“If the problem of addiction is false worship, the answer is knowing the Lord, the One who deserves our worship. This is true theology, the study of God Himself.” (p. 141)

Temptation by John Owen
This has got to be one of the greatest Puritan Classics! It’s one of those books you have to read pretty carefully and slowly… otherwise much of it goes over your head. I don’t think I read it slowly enough, so I’ll probably read it again. Excellent though – John Owen is very discerning and led by the Spirit in how he teaches about the nature and work of temptation in our lives and how we can avoid and resist it.

“He who seeks to get the victory over any sin must also consider his temptations to it, and strike at that root. Without deliverance from this, he will not be healed.” (p. 53)
“And how does Paul come to have such an estimation of the most desirable things in the world? It is because of the very high estimation he had of the excellency of Christ.” (p. 102)

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
A classic…. I confess I skipped over much of the historical chapters (it was a really long book!)

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
I started this, but then didn’t finish it… maybe at some point I will. Just a few comments… Please note that G.K. Chesterton was Roman Catholic so discernment is required while reading. It was rather interesting… very intellectual, although he claims to be more for mysticism (i.e. experience in his relationship with God) and more against intellectualism (for intellectualism’s sake).
In chapter 2 I found that he had a rather confused view of free will – thinking that it must be entire, and that we should not see so much “cause” in everything. However, he also says positively, “[The Mystic] has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them… Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also.” And: “The Christian permits free will to remain a sacred mystery.” I agree yes. But then, he repeatedly denounces the idea of “determinism” (known primarily today as Calvinism), calls it “alien logic” and compares it to madness. But wait… I agreed with the first… umm? (I think he’s a bit biased?)
He says in one place, “the madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” At first I wasn’t sure about that, but as I thought about it, it’s quite brilliant. One who is mad can still be “reasonable” in many ways.
He also says, “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.” I see what he’s saying, but I would say that it’s when imagination becomes reason is when there’s insanity. We need reason, and we need mystery, but if one supersedes the other then we have confusion.

Currently Reading:
Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch (on my Kindle)
Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
The End of the Spear by Steve Saint (seen the Movie, haven’t yet read the book)

Additional books I want to read this month:
For my CCEF class I will be reading Why Does It Have to Hurt? by Dan McCartney
The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges
Convergence by Sam Storms

I really want to finish all these this month because... well, you'll have to wait till next month to find out why! :-D