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Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Hating Divorce, but loving the divorced!"

“ I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel”
Malachi 2:16

I've found there are two people who truly hate divorce. God and anybody who's ever been through one! God hates divorce, first, because it violates His design for marriage as the exclusive covenant of love between one man and one woman for life. A covenant that is meant to reflect the heart of Christ's love for his church, and her joy-filled response to Him. (Eph 5:22-33) And second, God hates divorce because it rips families apart. And God loves families (see the rest of Malachi 2)

But anyone who’s ever been through a divorce learns to hate it just as well. As a preacher, I know that anytime I begin to touch on the subject of divorce, it’s like ripping the scab off an old wound for many people. Divorce is a wound! It’s a painful, heart-wrenching, devastating thing that tears right through the middle of a person’s life. Someone has observed that a divorce is more traumatic, emotionally, than even the death of a spouse. Death brings a clean kind of pain. Yes, they left you, but they really didn’t want to! Divorce, by contrast, is a dirty, mangled pain filled with rage and betrayal as it separates those who promised never to part.

And so the question is, how should we as the people of God, respond to divorce and all the pain and harm it brings into the lives of people we know and love? As I've thought about this, I found John Piper's helpful comment that we do so in two distinct ways to be right on target (though I do not quote him exactly here)

1) We respond to divorce with love and care for those who are suffering from it’s pain We stand by them as they grieve. We help them see the need to repent of any sin they have committed as part of the process leading up to and resulting in divorce. And then we urge them to be reconcile to their former spouse where that is possible. And when it's not possible, we lovingly help them rebuild their broken lives by the grace of God that's offered so freely in Jesus. Divorce is a tragedy filled with sin, but it's not the unforgivable sin.

2) We respond to divorce by standing firm and saying clearly that God hates it! We remain clear that every divorce is rooted in sin and therefore violates God’s will and God’s purpose for marriage! It is not something anyone who makes any pretense of having faith in Christ can enter lightly, or treat casually. It is an admission of defeat, and a concession that sin has gotten the upper hand. And so with God we say, we hate it because of all the pain and anguish it brings into people's lives and the harm it brings to families. And then we do everything we can to help prevent divorce by seeking to build up strong and grace-filled marriages, being attentive to the needs of our spouses, holding one another accountable in the fellowship of Christ's church and seeking in all things to walk in the meekness and love of Christ in our relationship with one another.

Standing up to fight with you,
Pastor Scott Lee

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's a Miracle Every Time God does it!

Salvation is always a miracle. It's as dramatic as the creation of the universe or the raising of the dead (Eph 1:18-21). Every time we see God bring someone to Himself, it's cause for great rejoicing (Luke 15:7).

The short note below is from my sister, Gina, concerning her daughter Cheyenne. Cheyenne has Asperger's Syndrome -- which is related to autism. It often results in someone who has a really hard time "getting it" socially, so they tend to say and do things that "cross the line" and even insult others without knowing it.

Asperger's people have a hard time grasping such things as how close to stand to someone when you talk to them -- or even that it's polite to wait and listen to them when they talk, after you've had your say. They have to be taught not to say things like, "Wow, you've got bad B.O.!" When it's OK to talk, and when it's time to shut up and let someone else have the floor, etc. And it's not just the natural childishness all children have, it is an inability in the brain to process the signal coming from "outside of me" and realize, "Hey there are other people out there like me with feelings and needs I must respond to!" Even though they can be quite intelligent, such children struggle in social situations trying to do the most common things that you and I simply take for granted. And then, because people do not understand their "odd" behavior, they often feel like outcasts.

Any way, Cheyenne and her family have had their share of these kinds of struggles over the years at school, at church, etc. make a long story short, you can read for yourself the following little note and then rejoice with me as you keep her in prayer:

Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of your prayers for Cheyenne & her salvation. She wanted me to help her pray last night (in her words, "like Uncle Scott prayed with you, Mom"!). After we prayed, she had such a look on her face that I can't describe (huge tears, but the biggest smile) and said she had never been so happy before - it was even better than Christmas! She wanted to tell everyone about it (before when she would talk about it with me & pray, she didn't want to tell anyone). Now she seems sure of her salvation and is just so happy!!! God has also given her the courage this week to talk to some of her friends about Jesus & being saved. She wants to keep doing that! So, again, thanks for all the prayers & keep praying that she will grow in Christ and stay close to Him.

Love you,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thank God for Those Who Serve

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. - Romans 13:1-7

This morning I participated as moderator of a breakfast meeting held to honor those who have served our nation and community in the Armed services and as Firemen and Policemen. My part was to introduce the speaker, Bro Rick Needham. Wow! What a great job he did.

Rick is a dear brother with an interesting past. I knew that he had served for years as an army chaplain. I had no idea how extensive that service was. I suppose it was his modestly that kept him from ever mentioning that he retired as a Lt Colonel and that he served with, among others, the 10th Mountain Division. I don't know that much about our military divisions, but I do know those guys are the real deal! After his military service Rick, who is an ordained Nazarene Pastor, came into the glories of the Doctrine's of God's Grace and now serves as pastor in a community church not too far from our congregation. It's been a real privilege to get to know him

As I say, Rick did a fantastic job. My heart was moved by his deep and passionate desire to see people come to a saving knowledge of Christ -- both within and outside the military. More than once he said, "I love our soldiers and long to see them come to Christ!" Lord, that's my prayer as well.

Overall, it was a great meeting. Most of those in attendance are men who retired from the various services - both domestic and military. It was a great honor to be able to express to them our gratitude for their faithful years of service.

May God bless all who wear the uniform and their families...and above all, may he bring them to a saving knowledge of His marvelous grace in Christ. And while I'm on it, would you who read this remember to pray for my dear friend, Dave Davis, as he serves our country in Iraq alongside so many other brave men and women? And remember his wife Vikki, and their two dear children as well.

By God's grace and for His glory!

Pastor Scott Lee