Kissing Couples

“Gross! Get a Room!”

“Ugh, I think I’m going to be sick!”

These are just a couple of phrases I’ve heard when I’ve kissed my husband in public (or on our Christmas invite that had one sweet kiss on it and the other two pictures had my pregnant belly and oldest daughter in them).

Many people watch movies that have make-out scenes (or even sex scenes) in them. Yet when married couples give a kiss in public, the same people speak negatively of it. Shouldn’t we (who are married) be showing the unity of our marriages in public? I’m not talking about having sex or having make-out sessions in front of people. I’m talking about sharing sweet kisses, like when you are so happy to see your spouse and spend time with him/her. There is tasteful kissing. If anything, marriage should be held in higher regard than dating. Boyfriends and girlfriends should not be engaging in the same privileges as those who are married. When you are married, you make a covenant before God and man that you will uphold your marriage vows for better or worse. When you aren’t married there is nothing holding you to that person. Yet, it’s when married (and committed) people kiss that many frown.

In marriage, you show unity. I pray that the “honeymoon phase” never leaves me. My husband and I have been married for 3.5 years now. And it has been the best 5 (counting the year we dated) years of my life. I want my children to grow up knowing that their daddy and mommy love each other very much, whether by listening to one another or a kiss here and there. I want it to be easy for them to realize that we have fought for our marriage and will continue to fight for it. I want them to know that, with Christ, they can have a better and more fulfilled marriage than the one that our culture offers.

Our marriage has not been all daisies and jasmines. We have had our roses. There are thorns that grow and hurt on those roses but at the end of them are beautiful large blossoms that, when unfolded, have glowed brightly in the color of the blood of Christ. The thorns hurt, but like Paul says:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you…Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

My point is this: I want our lives to be open (and visible) so that God gets the glory for our marriage. I want others to see that Jesus can help keep marriages together and reconcile anyone. I want to show them the key for a lasting marriage. What is this key? Forgiveness. We are not too evil for God to forgive when we call out to Him, so who are we to not forgive others in return? Are we God that we get to choose who is forgiven and who is not?

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.(Luke 6:37-42 ESV)

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-24 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

Do you see the common thread? Forgiveness and love. We have no right to withhold forgiveness when we have been forgiven. If we want our marriages to work we must have both of these.

So, when I am out in public I want people to see the love I have for my husband. I will praise him in the quiet as well as publicly.  I am so proud of him. I have been watching him grow as a husband and father. I can submit to him because I know he hears from God. I also know that when I hear from God and tell him, he listens. One day, when younger women (either single, engaged, or newly married) look at me, I want them to see that marriage can last on this earth “until death do us part”. I want to give them hope in a hopeless world. I can only do this in the hope of Christ. When scripture says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 ESV), it means marriage as well. Therefore I am going to continue to kiss my husband proudly in public and take pictures and act like I did when we first dated. I pray, that with Christ’s help, I never lose that passion for him.

Why I Teach On Somber Biblical Topics

If you know me at all, you know that I have a tendency to teach and speak on more somber biblical topics, such as hell, depravity, persecution, trials, sovereignty, election, etc. It’s not that I focus solely on these things but rather I don’t shy away from them. The high school Sunday School class I teach (which I see as a huge honor) know quite well this fact. We have discussed many tough issues and biblical stances.

But why do I do this? Why don’t I just focus on the happier and “more positive” parts of scripture? As I was reading Acts, I found the perfect statement by Paul:

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:26-32 ESV)

The reason I don’t shy away from teaching more somber biblical topics is because Paul tells us: wolves are coming. These wolves will deceive the sheep, not using the positive easy things that are often taught, but they will twist some doctrines and destroy the flock. How can they twist these doctrines? They twist them because they are not often laid out clearly and taught. That’s why Paul says “I declared to you the whole counsel of God.”

I mentioned in another post about the wedge how deception would come in five areas. I could call these issues the “gateway deceptions”. Few would be deceived by someone preaching against the Trinity since that is often taught. However they will and are being deceived about how the Lord sees homosexuality and universalism (to name a couple). It is for this reason that I desire to set myself like Paul and “admonish every one with tears”, “not ceasing day or night”. I often tell the students I teach that my goal isn’t to particulary help them with their life now (though I hope I do), but rather to prepare them for college (where most teenage Christians fall away) and for the next 30 years (where life could kill the heart’s desire for Jesus) where/when they will face possible diseases, hard financial times, death, and other difficult challenges. I want see them prepared to handle anything they face. I don’t want to see their faith shaken, simply because I candy-coated the Bible on what it says. This does not mean I need to be depressing (that doesn’t glorify Jesus and the Bible). It means that I approach these subjects with hope, compassion, and even joy (for every biblical topic helps us know Jesus more).

For Or Against

In the last few years, I have heard the above quote many times. There is a thinking being accepted by many people, believers and non-believers alike, that Christians ought not to speak about what they are against but rather what they are for.

Now to be fair, I do believe that we (Christians) have done a poor job in talking about sin without the hope of the gospel. We have focused so much on the consequences of the sin that we have forgotten Christ’s call for the sinner. We, especially in the Bible Belt, have frequently made derogatory remarks against the people whose sins we know are wrong. Jesus rarely even did that. I say rarely because He did call people names (“white-washed tombs”, “dogs”, “wicked and evil generation”, etc). In fact, in all the instances where He did make derogatory remarks against a person or a people group, there was almost always arrogance in play. Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery with honor and compassion, yet treated the prideful Pharisees (who were just as lost as the woman caught in adultery) with contempt. Yet, for the most part, Jesus responded with kindness to sinners He preached to; so much so that He was called a “friend of sinners.”

The problem arises when we think that the Bible or Jesus doesn’t speak against things. Let me be clear, although Jesus was a friend of sinners and the Bible gives sinners the great hope of the gospel, both it and He speak often about things that the Godhead are against. Here are a few examples:

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. (Jude 7)

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 ESV)

People in the post-modern age don’t like hearing negative things (“against”). They rather hear what positive things (“for”). We hear our leaders and politicians turning phrases, trying to put a positive spin on something they are attacking (“I’m not for killing babies, I’m pro-choice”). But they forget the term “apophatic theology”, which is the method of describing God by what He is not. Sometimes we can better understand a position or theology by finding out what it is not. For example, while we know what the fruit of the Spirit are, we know them better because Paul contrasted them with the fruit of the flesh.

I say all of this to encourage us, not to forget the love and compassion of Jesus or the hope of the gospel for sinners, but also to “not shrink from declaring to [people] the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 ESV). It is not our job to make the gospel more palatable by stripping it of what God is against. It’s our duty and delight to preach the God who is full of fury and love, a furious love that destroys anything that would try to hinder it.

Six Things My Pastor Taught Me

This post could also be called “Six Reasons Why I Love My Pastor.” My senior pastor is an amazing man of God and I have learned countless things from him while under his leadership. This post contains just six of them, in no particular order.

Love, eat, breathe, bleed, use, memorize, respect, and preach the Word.

It is often said that our pastor bleeds scripture. He spent a good deal of his Christian life memorizing scripture (with references) so he often quotes scripture throughout his sermons and counseling. He not only reads and memorizes the Word, he gives it preeminence. In a day where the Bible is left up to personal opinion, it has been life-saving to have a pastor who prioritizes the Bible in his ministry. He doesn’t just talk about how important the Bible is, He shows us how important it is by example. The Bible is our life-blood and he treats it accordingly. I remember the day I heard a prophecy that included the words “this church will be safe in the coming storms because my messenger holds fast to My Word.” I thank God every time I remember that prophecy.

Authority comes from being under authority.

One of my pastor’s favorite scriptures is Luke 7:3-9:

When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Our pastor often says that the centurion understood authority (and therefore Jesus’ authority) because he was under authority himself. Our pastor loves order. Coming from the military and business community, he saw how groups thrived when there was a clear leadership structure. It’s not about titles or positions, but rather doing things in decency and in order. I’m grateful for this order. I know people who have declined to be under authority and it directly impacts how much fruit their lives bear. Personally, I can be quite blind and foolish. I’m glad to be under leaders who can both encourage and correct me. In fact, the more I submit to them, the more I find myself in a place of (humble) authority.

God loves people (both the lost and saved) so make every effort to love them too.

My pastor will run his life ragged loving and reaching people. You can tell that he has the passion of a missionary or evangelist. His greatest passion is to see souls saved. He wants every person that he crosses paths with to feel loved and cared for. He is remarkably unselfish when it comes to this. I often wonder when he has free time. He is constantly visiting people at the hospitals, meeting with people for a cup of coffee, etc. Watching him love people has taught me that they are worth loving because God loves them.

Ministry is a hard, suffering call from God.

This may be a weird point to some. Recently in America, church ministry (particularly pastoring) has been cast as easy and fun. It mainly comes from high-production, hyped ministries who sound like they live on a mountain top all their life. But that’s not how the New Testament describes Paul’s, Peter’s, John’s (etc) life. Paul often said he was “sorrowful, yet rejoicing”. My pastor doesn’t put on a mask, trying to show that the ministry is easy. Rather, he is vulnerable enough to show us how hard it can be. God spoke to Ananias about Paul in Acts 9:16, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  As a leader and as someone feeling called to bi-vocational ministry, this is a gift. I am grateful to see the true life of a minister lived out in front of me, with all of its trials, pains, joys, struggles, frustrations, hopes, plans, ideas, and passions.

Legacy and your tenure in God matter.

My pastor often says that “God is looking for great finishers.” In America, we often esteem those who are popular or are doing extraordinary/miraculous things. We tend to ignore ministers who have served faithfully for decades and have an extended legacy. We tend to praise the short-term success of people rather than cherish the long-term sowing and reaping of a minister’s faithfulness. I look at my pastor and his (biological and spiritual) children and pray that I can live my life in such a way that my life bears fruit like his.  I want to see my marriage lasting passionately for decades, being an example to others. I want to see my children seek God. I want those around me to be stirred to everlasting love for God. I want my life to impact others. These things matters and I learned that fact by watching my pastor.

Moral excellence in ministry.

There is not a month (many times a week) that goes by that I don’t hear of a well-known minister falling into sexual sin. Both my senior pastor and his staff have shown that God is faithful to keep us holy if we are willing to be severely aggressive about not tolerating even a hint of sexual immorality in our lives. The integrity of the church staff is mind-boggling to me. I am humbled to be under authority of these ministers of God.