One Year Later. What I’ve Learned. Covenant.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I did not realize how long my last series would take as I had hoped to start this one around the anniversary, but it was not to be. As readers know, my wife and I recently celebrated our first anniversary and for those interested, I think I can assure you she was very pleased with how her husband treated her.

Having gone through a year now, I want to write about what all I’ve learned in yet another series. I hope this will be helpful first off to my friends who are single. If you wish to marry, I hope that what I write will be of encouragement to you and a way you can start preparing yourself. Second, I want to write it to single friends who through divorce, being widowed, or just never married and not wanting to be married, can see some more about the married life. Some might look back with fondness. Some might understand more what goes on with their married friends. Third, I want to write this for those who are currently in marriage and quite new to it like ourselves. Hopefully, my experience can ring with your experience and we can come have good discussion on this issue. (We do have a Facebook page for those wanting discussion as well) Finally, I write for those who have been married for longer and here I definitely welcome your feedback. I’m writing more from personal experience and certainly realizing I have a lot to learn.

So having said that, let’s begin.

Some of you might be surprised with the title. Did I not know marriage was a covenant beforehand? Of course I did. However, there is a way of knowing in a more abstract way as if you know facts about something, and then there is a way of knowing intimately in that you have personal experience of it. You can read and read about something like public speaking, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you do it.

Marriage is a covenant and is in that way unlike so many other agreements we make. If you don’t like your job, you can conceivably quit it and go work elsewhere. You are not obligated to work for the same company all your life. If you don’t like the school you’re at, you can go to another. If you don’t like your degree program, you can even change that. If you don’t like your roommate, you can get another. If your friends are a problem, well you see the pattern.

Not so with marriage. In marriage, you have come and bound yourself to one person and said that you will honor that person till death do you part.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a private agreement either. It’s an agreement made before God and men. In America, there have to be witnesses to every wedding. Someone else has to be able to attest that they saw these two people become husband and wife.

That seriousness needs to sink in and in marriage, it does. You come to realize what it means to have your whole life connected to this person and to have part of you revolve as it were around this person. You cannot think of yourself as a lone entity any more. There are two of you together.

Notice all the ways traditionally this is said to take place.

“For richer or poorer.”

If you and your spouse become rich, you are to remain together. Money could be a great temptation to make one person stay away as there is no need of dependence or it could be used to get away. Greed could easily enter into a relationship. The marriage could be more about earning money than about the love of the man and the woman. I’m not saying it always happens, but it could.

And for poorer? Well I assure you readers that at the time of this writing, my wife and I are definitely in the poorer state so much so that I do get very anxious often about our finances. (Keep in mind that if you support what we are doing here, you can donate to us and you can do so through Tektonics.org as a tax-deductible gift as well.)

My job that was paying me very well laid me off three months before my wedding. It was through the donations and gifts of several others that we managed to stay afloat and even have a good honeymoon. Any time I have been worried about finances, God has always come through somehow, but that does not mean that I do not worry.

It can be hard to be poor and married, especially since you want to do so much for that other person and you feel like you are failing. Money is something couples can regularly fight about. Couples should discuss money, but they should also realize where money comes from ultimately. It’s from God. This doesn’t mean to be reckless, but it means to love through the hard times despite the financial situation and when you get back in good financial standing again, learn from the previous experience.

“In sickness and in health.”

Sickness has happened often in our marriage. I will give one example. My grandmother passed away back in November of last year and I drove to Knoxville to do her funeral. It was just after Thanksgiving and we drove back and returned here to Charlotte. Shortly afterwards, we had gone to bed one night and I was reading Romans 8 to my wife, while battling a little stomach ache that had been highly persistent that evening.

She saw the light reaching under our bedroom door. I told her that I had left it on thinking she might need the light to get something to take with her medications. She told me she’d already taken them and asked me to turn the light off. Very well. I get up to do so and my stomach seems to keep acting up.

Let’s just say that when I made it back to our bedroom, I commenced to screaming, screaming at a volume the Mrs. was really unused to.

We have a good friend whose sons were groomsmen in our wedding who came over then to see me. He started pushing my stomach at which I screamed again. He insisted on taking me to the emergency room, seeing as due to a medical condition my wife can’t drive. Thus, the three of us went to the hospital and around 3:30 in the morning, we found out that I had gallstones and would have to have my gallbladder removed.

My wife was my companion throughout all of this. I was no stranger to surgery, but this time, I was scared of it. Why? “What if I don’t wake up? Who will take care of her?” Fortunately, as you can tell, I did wake up, and I have been told by numerous people that my wife’s name was the last thing I said before I went under and the first thing I said when I came out.

To make this story more interesting, we live in an apartment with a walkway to the mainland and I had to go to an appointment once, still unable to drive. Some friends came by to pick me up. It’d been snowing lately and the complex had not removed the ice from our walkway and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was airborne and crashed down. (That happened a second time on the way to church by the way)

We’ve had the flu, we’ve had sinus infections, we’ve had rushes to the Emergency room. Everything has happened.

Keep in mind paying for all of this definitely adds to the “for poorer” part.

Sickness is a time to come together. It’s where you learn that you have to rely on the other and the idea of the glamour of marriage is not so readily seen when your spouse looks to be in absolutely terrible condition. Still, you have to stick together.

Health might seem easier, but it could be health could be a hard time as well. When you’re healthy, you don’t really realize how much you need the other person. It’s easy to take them for granted. You don’t have to do anything with them because you always have your health. Well not always.

“To love, honor, and cherish.”

These are commands. These are not options. These are also not feelings. These are actions. You are not commanded to feel. You are commanded to do. This is in fact your privilege. I plan to expand much more on aspects of these throughout this series so I’ll leave it at that for the time being.

“Till death do you part.”

And here is the covenant aspect. This is until death do you part. Marriage is final and marriage is for life. I realize there are sad circumstances where that isn’t always the case, such as abuse or infidelity, but too many people seem to want to break the knot for reasons that are not biblical.

My wife and I are in this for life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As one continues down that road, they do notice several changes along the way. What are they?

Well that’s what this series is about isn’t it, so I guess you’ll have to keep reading as we go along.

But today, the point is that marriage is a covenant. Let that really sink in.

A Further Look At ECREE

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Before I begin the next series, which I hope to do tomorrow, I’m going to take the time to answer a message that came to me in the midst of prior series. Not wanting to interrupt an ongoing series at the time, I have decided that this is the opportune moment to look at the claim.

The claim revolves the use of ECREE, which is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. My problem with this is that the skeptical community has often used it as a conversation-stopper and that in many cases, what is considered as extraordinary is often unclear.

For the second, I am in dialogue with one atheist now who I am trying to convince that nothing cannot cause something. For me, that is a highly highly highly extraordinary claim based on my beliefs regarding metaphysics. Meanwhile, for him, the idea that God created the universe, is highly highly extraordinary, based on the holding of a naturalistic worldview.

Question. Who needs to provide evidence for their view?

If you said “Both of you,” move to the head of the class.

So at this point, I am not saying that I am opposed to evidence. My friend who wrote said that he is not convinced by people saying that they feel Jesus. Something similar can be found in many other religions. After all, Mormons feel the burning in the bosom and thus are convinced that the Book of Mormon is true, but those of us outside the Mormon church who have studied it and its beliefs, just don’t find that convincing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that subjective experiences play no part in determining what one believes, but they should not play the only part. Someone can speak about the evidences of God and of the resurrection and then also look at their changed life since becoming a Christian. That is entirely valid. (I would prefer them to start with the objective argument first however and have the effects from the subjective experience be a follow-up.)

My friend brings up the idea of someone claiming to have an interstellar spaceship and twenty people making a claim on a stack of Bibles that it is real. Now there are some questions I would have at this point. For instance, it would depend on who those twenty people are partially. If these are twenty people shown on a TV infomercial that I do not know, then I will not give it credibility. If, however, these people are people like my wife, good friends, family, leaders of my church, I’ll start thinking “Maybe I should look into this.”

Now I could go and see this supposed ship someone has for sale then and I might think “I need to get my eyes examined.” I go and get my eyes examined and I have a clean bill of health. I still see the spaceship. I think I must be hallucinating then, so I get a psychiatric evaluation and again, I’m given a clean bill of health. I still see the spaceship. I at that point have the salesman give me a ride and we travel throughout the solar system and come back. At this point, I must say that I am indeed a believer.

I have no problem with this and based on the kind of claim that it is, that is the kind of evidence I seek. An important consideration to keep in mind is that we evaluate claims based on the kinds of claims that they are. Suppose you want to know if Jesus rose from the dead. The improper way to do that, as would be found at some skeptical web sites that want to say Jesus never even existed, would be to pray and ask Jesus to heal everyone in the world of every disease and if that doesn’t happen, well then history obviously must demonstrate that Jesus did not rise.

No. The way to evaluate the claim is to look at the historical evidence that we have. If you find it to be faulty, on what grounds? Are they historical grounds or philosophical grounds or some other grounds? Suppose you accept the bedrock of Habermas and Licona for instance and say “I agree that Jesus was crucified, that the tomb was empty, that the apostles had experiences that they claimed to be that of the risen Christ, and that James and Paul, two people hostile to the message prior, became strong Christians.” Well and good. You then reply “But I don’t believe the resurrection happened.”

You are certainly entitled to that opinion, but I would then ask on what grounds do you dismiss it? For instance, Stephen Patterson in a debate with Mike Licona has said that the reason he rejects the resurrection is that he is a modern man. He believes that by resurrection it does not mean that God raised Jesus from the dead physically. Miracles just do not happen. He has to explain the data another way, and indeed he does attempt to do so. Whether someone finds his explanation to be sound or not is up to them. Does his explanation best account for the data?

Note that Patterson’s problem is on philosophical grounds. His belief is that miracles cannot be historically verified if they even happen at all. At that point, one can go to philosophy and demonstrate that miracles are at least possible. While demonstrating them as actual is best, we can at least get to possible.

The problem with ECREE at this point is just simply saying that in the face of contrary evidence that it just isn’t extraordinary enough without really explaining what is there. Now I am not saying that someone has to immediately give in to a lot of evidence. By all means, go out and study the information that you’ve been given for yourself and see if it’s valid and see if there are any valid criticisms of it.

My friend also included in the message information on homeopathic medicine. I do not claim to be an authority on this so I will not act on one, but I do agree with him that if homeopathic medicine is valid, then we should certainly see some results in the laboratory, and I say the laboratory because this is in the area of science and therefore it is fitting to study it scientifically. (Since some atheists who seem to think that every truth claim can be tested by science) We can supposedly explain some recoveries by the placebo effect. Does that mean we close the door on research? I wouldn’t say that. However, there needs to be more than what can be explained by the placebo effect.

I also like at the end that my friend stated that extraordinary evidence is really simple evidence that is probable given the truth claim. That is much better since he has given criteria. The atheist who is expecting that to believe Jesus rose from the dead, he has to have Jesus appear to him manifestly I do not believe will be satisfied, especially since God gave him a brain to use to study claims for himself.

I do appreciate the rejoinder to what has been said and I hope that my response has been helpful.

Thoughts on the Norway Killer

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’d like to thank a reader for the comment on the 1 Corinthians 13 series. It’s good to know it’s appreciated. By personal request before doing the next series, I’m going to first take a look at what’s happened in Norway. The question I am addressing is that of the relationship of religion to violence.

Like most of you, I haven’t read the manifesto. I doubt any of us fully have seeing as how long it is. I have heard bits and pieces of it, and although some think that he was a Christian, I am inclined to think that he was not. However, even if he was, it doesn’t really matter to me.

The question to be asked tonight is if religion leads to violence. I think the answer to that question is yes…sometimes. I think non-religion can also lead to violence. What is the cause of violence is the evil that exists in the human heart. There are facets of beliefs that can spark those violent tendencies in people. There are some beliefs of secularism that I believe can do that and there are some beliefs that are religious that I believe can do that.

Note also that because a worldview leads to violence, that would necessarily mean it is false. For instance, I am not a Muslim, but if it was true and there was an Allah and it was His order to kill the infidel, well that’d be that. I don’t believe Christianity is like that however nor do I believe in a voluntaristic approach to morality. Of course, if God says to do something, it is good, but it is not good just because God says it.

While we could look at this and see if it proves or disproves a belief system is true or false, it does not. It is a factor we can consider in looking at a belief system. However, as a Christian, I also realize that my belief system lies on a different foundation. The argument will not work this way and it doesn’t even follow.

The Norwegian killer was a Christian. (Assumed for the sake of argument. Not a belief I hold.)

Therefore, Jesus did not rise from the dead.

Thus, rather than actually studying the accounts and seeing if they are historical and then if they are historically accurate, the solution to some supposedly is to just look at an event today and say that based on this event, that one in the past didn’t happen, even though there’s no logical connection between the two. This is also the case with arguments from the problem of natural evil. Because a tsunami or earthquake hits, it does not prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

This is something also that sets apart Christianity from other religions. Other religions do take place in history of course. Muhammad, Moses, and others are all said to have lived at a certain point in time. They’re all said to have handed down what they wrote at a certain time. (Some qualification with Muhammad based on whether he could write or not. If not, he at least dictated his writings.) Joseph Smith lived. The Buddha lived. These are historical truths.

However, in the Christian tradition, a historical event is at the heart of the belief system. As I told a friend tonight over dinner, science and philosophy are important. You can use science to defend Christianity. You can use philosophy. However, if you are going to prove that Jesus rose from the dead, you will have to go to history.

With Islam and Judaism, I cannot really point to a historical event that confirms the teachings of Muhammad or the teachings of a prophet like Isaiah. In that case, we often look at their teachings. Both of these religions can easily rely on right living. For Chfristianity, it’s also right beliefs since our beliefs about Jesus have Him central to the religion and thus, some claims about Him are essential.

That’s not saying how you live isn’t important. It definitely is. However, the resurrection of Christ is not proven or disproven by events that happen today. If you want to see if Christianity is true, you have to look at Christianity. While I could say that if atheism is true, what happens in atheistic societies follows, that also does not prove atheism false. I have to look at the claims of atheism and study them. If I don’t approve of killing the infidel in Islam, that doesn’t prove Islam is false. I have to look at the claims.

Debate about the killer might tell us about ethics, but if we want to see the truth, we need to look at the worldview.

The Greatest Of These Is Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to finish up our series of looking at 1 Corinthians 13. I hope that it has been helpful to you.

Paul tells us in the last verse that three remain. Those are faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Why is love the greatest?

Faith, contrary to what some think, is not blind faith. It is trust given to that which has been shown to be reliable, and being shown to be reliable means that it is based on evidence of some sort. Not all evidence is the same and some evidence is better than other evidence, but it is still evidence. Christians are not called to believe in Jesus blindly. It is fortunately landing in the right place, but it is not a virtue to be paraded about as some Christians do.

However, even with that faith, there is still trust. It can be easy to sign a doctrinal statement at a church, but it is a whole lot harder to live it. We all believe that God is the supreme judge when we sign those statements, but when it comes to making that a reality in our lives, our struggle with sin shows that it has not fully become a reality to us.

That is where we need more trust in what has been said and the ability to act on it. James is of course right when he says that faith without works is dead. What good is it to say that you trust that God is the supreme judge, but then you don’t live accordingly? Even the demons know that He is, and they tremble. Should not we?

Of course, when we stand before God, we will not need that faith anymore. We will know as we are known.

What about hope? There are two things specifically that Christians hope for and these are connected. The first is the vision of God which I also believe is part of the return of Christ for when Christ returns, we shall see God. The second is the resurrection. Even if we are alive when Christ returns, we will get new bodies.

None of these are hopes in the sense that we wish they would happen, like one might hope to meet their future spouse or one might hope to win the lottery. These hopes are treated as realities coming that we eagerly anticipate. Of course, once they happen at the end, there will be no hope as there will be no faith, for we will have what we have hoped for.

What about love? Well love is that which will remain throughout all eternity as love is of the nature of God. God invites us to enter into that love for all eternity. However, as we close this series, I ask that you keep in mind that Paul introduced this chapter talking about the most excellent way. Love is not just an object of thought, but a way of life. So the question is, are we treating it not just as a lofty idea, but a way of life? Are we living love?

Only you can answer for yourself.

Through The Looking Glass

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 where we will be further looking at the view of love from the apostle Paul. We’re almost through this chapter and already I have two more series in mind at least at this point.

Paul talks about looking through a mirror at this point and this is something the Corinthians would have known about as their city was famous for their mirrors. Paul tells us that we look through a mirror dimly at this point. We are not really seeing what is there to the best of our ability. While the mirrors were good back then after all, they were not as good as they could be and it would be rare to find a Christian who could afford one of a good quality.

The idea is that we will always have partial knowledge here and so it is with love. We will not know what love is fully in this lifetime. As beautifully as Paul has described it, he has only scratched the surface. We rightfully find it incredibly awesome when we read what he said, but we must remember that even the biblically inspired author in holy writ cannot fully do justice to his topic.

Well if we will not know it here, when and where will we know it? Paul tells us that we shall know as we are known and that is when we are face to face. Paul does not have to spell out what he means by this. The wonder of prophets like Moses were that they supposedly spoke to God face to face. For Paul, all Christians will have what Moses had and in fact will have even better. This means that when we read about what happened to Moses and others with fantastic experiences, we should realize that we will have the most fantastic experience one day of seeing God.

And this is in fact the highest good of man. Man was designed to know God. The highest knowledge one can think about is the knowledge of God. This is not just knowing about what God does and has done and will do. This is about knowing Him as He is. Unfortunately, for many of us today we only look at God in the capacity of what He does or more importantly to us, how He makes us feel. Too many of our worship services are about how we feel about God rather than about God himself. In this way, worship can be more self-directed at times than God-directed. Now there is a time to talk about our response to God, but this is after we have talked about who He is.

But as was said in an earlier blog, if this is the way that we will end, with the knowledge of God, we might as well start preparing for that now. Too many churches are filled with too many people, including the pastor, who have never taken the God question seriously. I frankly wish more Christians would be tempted with atheism because at least I can see that they’re taking the question seriously and trying to determine what difference it would mean to their worldview if God was removed.

We’re nearly through. What remains in the end? Well next time Paul will tell us and I will then wrap up our look at 1 Corinthians 13.

Childish Ways

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. For those who are interested, the Mrs. and I had a very nice anniversary. We stayed at the Hampton Inn we stayed at on our wedding night and we had excellent treatment from them we greatly appreciate. Now that I’m back here, I’ll be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 with talking about childish thinking.

It has been said that men never really grow up. Their toys just changed. If you look at professional sports, that’s certainly an example. A little boy who develops a talent with hitting a ball with a stick can eventually become a sports icon playing major league baseball. Is that what Paul is speaking against?

If you walk into arcades, though few are around, you will often find grown men in there playing games still. Indeed, many owners of video game consoles are adults. We happen to own quite a few around here. Why? We like to play games. Is this what Paul is speaking about?

When we are younger, we often have highly active imaginations. We feel out many situations and like to dream big and think about doing something great for the world. We are often told later on that we will grow up and get out of that phase and come to realize that we just need to accept our place in life. Is this what Paul is talking about?

No. Paul is talking about a mode of thinking more than anything else. He is not talking about something that is emotional. He is talking about something that is entirely rational. He is not telling us to abandon childlikeness as we should all be like little children in our wonder and trust of God. He is telling us instead to abandon childishness, and we all recognize the attitudes of childishness, and especially can usually recognize them in ourselves. We often still have this idea that reality ought always to go our way.

Paul gives a similar warning in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The Corinthians were acting like children in many ways with their attitudes and their constant one-upmanship and chasing after something grand for them rather than seeking that which is for the good of the body, a lesson we all need to learn. The question is not what good can the church do for you, although the church should support its own, but what good you can do for the church.

We should all have the wonder of children, but we should all seek to constantly be improving our thinking. When we think about God for instance, are we thinking just about what He does for us, or are we thinking about what we can do for Him and who He is? Much of our worship today seems to be about us rather than about God. We can often define a good worship service as one where we leave feeling good, when in reality, it could be some of the best worship services are the ones where we leave feeling miserable because we’ve been convicted of our sin and know we need to do better.

Christians should be about good thinking. It’s a shame that in our world today, the church has often been seen as abandoning rationality and indeed, many churches pride themselves on that. The more you can live by blind faith rather than actually believing something for a reason, the better you are.

I actually am of the opinion that if it seems many people today even outside the church have crazy ideas and are abandoning reason, it’s because the church did it first. Much like we led the way with many universities, we are also leading the way with many ignorances because we allowed childish thinking to come in.

Let’s follow Paul’s words and be adult in our thinking. It’s the loving thing to do for future generations.

Partial And Complete

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I can assure everyone that I will not be on tomorrow night. If you remember where we were a year ago, I had announced that actually I was to be married and tomorrow, the Mrs. and I celebrate our first anniversary. We think everyone who’s helped us both prayerfully and financially and we hope you will continue to do so. For now, let’s return to 1 Corinthians 13 and see what Paul has to say about love.

Paul tells us about the partial in verses 9-10. What we do in part, and we know about this. The more you think you know about something, the more you will come to realize that you do not know. The more knowledge we have of a topic, the more that we are amazed at that topic.

This includes our knowledge of God and if there is anything we do not understand to the maximum, it is definitely God. This is a topic we need to wrestle with. For instance, with the Trinity, we can show the Trinity from the Bible, but have we really took the time to think out what those texts mean if they’re true? If the Trinity is true, what does that tell us about God? If the Trinity is a topic that doesn’t leave you with questions, then you can be sure that you do not understand the Trinity at all.

Paul tells us that we speak in part, probably because that is all the knowledge of God that we can have, partial. When we get to the complete however, we will not know in part. We will know completely.

What is completeness? There are many debates on this topic, but I am inclined to think based on the later words of the passage that it refers to when we get to the point where we see God. When that happens, we will know completely. Of course, this will be commented on more as we get further into the text.

What does this mean for love? It does mean that our love is incomplete at this point. We can never fully love someone here as we ought. This could be seen as saddening for some of us, but I would prefer to think of it as exciting. But how can it be exciting to know that our love is incomplete?

If what we have now is complete love, we are quite lacking in many ways. Instead, think of how it will be when you reach eterinity. You will love your friends, family, and your spouse and children in ways you never could before because your sinful nature is gone. Look at those relationships that you have now and think of how different they will be when you get that perfect love.

For now, that means that we are to grow in the love that we have more and more, as to grow in love is to grow to be more Christlike. What are we going to do today to be more loving?

Love Never Fails

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re currently going through 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what the apostle Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we are going to discuss the topic of “Love Never Fails.”

Love is permanent. Whatever else is going on in the world, love will always be there. Why? Love is of the nature of God and the nature of God will never change or pass away. The apostle points to this side of love in distinction to other things that will pass away, things that the Corinthians were priding themselves on.

Prophecies. Prophecy was one thing Paul was proud of as well. Paul told the Corinthians to seek prophecy and that it was the greatest of gifts, but yet, prophecy will pass away. When humanity stands before God and sees Him as He is, there will be no more need of prophets to act as conduits between God and man. Man will have direct experience of God. In that day, prophecy will cease.

Tongues? The same principle applies. If tongues are a prayer language meant to allow the person to pray to God in an unknown tongue, there will be no need of that as the person will communicate with God on a whole new level. If tongues are a known language meant for the spreading of the gospel, there will also be no need of that as there will be no spreading of the gospel message in Heaven. All will know about the goodness and grace of God immediately.

What about knowledge? Well obviously in a way, knowledge will not cease since God is omniscient and we will know God, but knowledge of things that are temporary and changing will have a problem. We will know things not by knowing the objects, but rather by knowing God. Imagine how it will be when the day comes and you see your neighbor through God. No wonder there will be such immense love between people in Heaven.

In contrast to all of these, love itself will not fade. It will last forever. The community of Heaven will be one of love. People there will have a great love for one another. It has been said that the six activities that are done in Heaven are knowing and loving God, knowing and loving ourselves, and knowing and loving our neighbor. If these sound boring to you, then the problem is with you as not realizing how vastly interesting God is, you are, or your neighbor is.

The challenge to the Corinthian church would apply to us today. If this is how we are to be in the end as a community of love, then why are we not living it out now? Do our churches really come across as places of love or places of condemnation? The Corinthians had the error of being too condoning, such as allowing people to be drunk at the Communion services, suing one another, and a man marrying his father’s wife. Our problem would be that we are too strict at times. The people of the world often don’t want to come to church because they’re a bunch of judgmental hypocrites and frankly, we’ve deserved that a number of times.

Our command is to love one another, the way Jesus’s disciples were to be recognized even. Are we doing that? Do we need to practice what Paul says?

Love Always Perseveres

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’ve been going through the chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what we can learn about the subject of love. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the topic of perseverance.

As I sat down to write this, I thought about the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Now I’m not an expert on Calvinism I admit, but from what I gather, it is the idea that those who are saints will indeed persevere in their faith. Despite what circumstances come their way, if they are saved, they will endure to the end.

Whether that is true or not is irrelevant at this point. When we think about the doctrine, we think about it in the sense of salvation, but do we think about it in the sense of practical living. We know if we persevere to the end, then that shows that we are of the elect. However, perhaps we should take persevering to the end to also mean that we will be loving to the end.

Ever been angry at God? I mean really upset with Him? Now I fear we might have some types who see themselves as super holy and will say “Nope! Not me! I’ve always loved God intensely!” Well if that’s you, good for you. The rest of this then is written for myself and the rest of us mere ordinary Christians who have had anger with God.

What do you do? If you’re in ministry like myself, do you say “Forget you! I’m done with this!” and go off on your own way? Note I did not ask if you’re not tempted to do that. The temptation to walk away in ministry can be very tempting at times. The question is what do you do?

If you’re like me, chances are you find somehow, there is something within you that makes you want to serve Him anyway. It’s not because you really feel like it at the time, but because you know that you have a devotion to do so anyway and you’re going to whether you feel like it or not.

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in a talk of his tells about being in a classroom once in a Christian school, probably a Seminary, and hearing the professor say “Marriage is hard work.” He told his classmate sitting next to him that he didn’t like that and the classmate said “Yeah. I know what you mean. Why don’t you say something?”

So Ravi raised his hand and stood up and the professor said “Yes Zacharias?”

“I heard you say that marriage is hard work. I don’t appreciate that.”

“Are you married Zacharias?”

“No.”

“Shut up. Sit down. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

When Ravi got married, he realized his professor was right. Marriage is hard work.

Marriage is hard because it’s two people and let’s face it, we each tend to look out for #1, and your #1 gets in the way of my #1. The two people don’t always see eye to eye and yet have a commitment. Sometimes, they won’t feel like it. Sometimes, it’ll be hard. Sometimes, the other person will be someone you don’t want to be with at that moment, but you are to love anyway. I hear of guys who say their wives are driving them crazy.

For me personally, I try to look at myself first every time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I am at fault every time, but why not start there? What can I do to better love my wife. It also means however that now or in the future, no matter what I am feeling, I am to love my wife. That is not a feeling. That is an action. It may or may not result in feelings, but it is to be done nonetheless.

And that love will persevere. If you are not persevering, perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are really loving. This does not mean that the love in marriage and the love of God will not get difficult. Do you persevere through something you enjoy? I do not sit down and say “I’ll have to persevere through watching all of these Smallville episodes.” You don’t endure through good books. You endure through bad ones. If we’re off to do something we enjoy we jokingly say “Well I guess I have to put myself through this suffering.” No. Perseverance comes through hard things.

Love goes through hard things. That’s love. The question is, “Do the benefits outweigh the costs?”

And in the case of ministry and marriage, I will say “Yes. Absolutely.”

Love Always Hopes

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’re going through 1 Corinthians 13 and looking at what Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we discuss how love always hopes.

No one likes to fail. There was a time in my past when I was working hard on getting my Master’s in the New Testament. When the time came, I was told by one of the professors that my thesis had not been accepted and I was stunned. I was told it was because of my writing style. I was surprised since I had taken writing tests that had placed me on the top. My reply was that I might have reached my maximum academic potential and just wasn’t capable of that kind of writing.

For one who loves to write, that was like being hit with a ton of bricks.

As it stands, I am now at Seminary and have written a number of successful research papers and when I look back on that point, I realize that really, that’s just one person’s opinion and there’s no reason to give up on a dream. I am quite pleased where I am and believe the future holds great things.

That’s the beauty of hope, and that’s what love does. Love hopes. It refuses to see the failure as final. This doesn’t mean that love refuses to look at reality. In fact, we Christians should be the people emphasizing reality the most, for all of reality is God’s reality. He is Lord of all that is.

Keep in mind other writings of Paul. Paul was the one who told the church in Thessalonica that they were to grieve, but when they grieve, not to grieve like those who have no hope. Not even death is final. He wrote to the church in Rome that all things are working together for the good of those who love the Lord. If that is the case, then indeed no failure is ultimately final.

Now he tells us to hope. This would be a comfort to a church that was stricken with numerous divisions. It might be difficult for them, but God isn’t done with them yet. This division does not have to define them. That’s our great danger. Failing in one thing, as we will all do at times, does not make us failures. If that is the case, everyone in the human race pretty much is a failure because we’ve all failed. We cannot define ourselves by one-time events that happen to us.

When we consider the aspect of seeking the good of the other, love becomes even more important. Love seeks the good of the other. When we say love always hopes, it means that love always hopes in the good of the other. Love always believes that the other is capable of doing good and is wiling to stand beside them. It is by love that the two stand together and face all odds.

Love always hopes.

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