The Most Beautiful Marriage…But The Bride Cheats

One of the best metaphors in the Bible, I think, is the metaphor that Christ and the church are married like a husband and a wife, respectively.

It’s found in Ephesians 5:22-25 and 32.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Paul’s my homeboy. I want a t-shirt that says that. But that’s beyond the point. The Holy Spirit’s inspiration in this passage is incredible because we can take so much from this. And it’s something that I’ve been contemplating and meditating on a lot today. I’ll try to take this one at a time.

Christ is our husband, as the church. The imagery is incredible. You think about a perfect husband: he’s faithful, he’s loving, he’s serving, he’s sacrificial. That’s how I define a perfect husband because Christ is the perfect picture of a husband and Christ is all those things. The crazy thing is…

We are the most unfaithful of brides. This is put best in Derek Webb’s song “Wedding Dress,” which I posted about a week ago. He sings, “So could you love this bastard child? Though I don’t trust You to provide, with one hand in a pot of gold, and the other in your side. ‘Cause I am so easily satisfied by the call of lovers less wild, that I would take a little cash over Your very flesh and blood.” What a charge made against Christians, a charge that landed Webb in some hot water. But I stand behind it because it’s so true. The fact that we walk around as perpetual whores is convicting. We are constantly, through our sin in word, thought and deed, betraying the love that Christ has for us.

But He loves us anyways because HE IS JEALOUS. A couple lines in songs hit the nail on the head here. The popular worship song “How He Loves” starts, “He is jealous for me.” “Wedding Dress” has a line that goes: “Because money cannot buy a husband’s jealous eyes when you have knowingly deceived his wife.” That particular line has been hitting me upside the head today. God is SO JEALOUS for us that nothing Satan does can take away His love for us. Christ the ultimate jealous husband. And it’s beautiful.

It’s the most beautiful wedding. It’s the most beautiful wedding when a person becomes a Christian. There’s Jesus, the husband. He is loving and sacrificial. He gave His life so that us, the bride could have life in Him. And then there’s us, the bride, the selfish, self-seeking person that Christ loves unconditionally when we submit ourselves to Him. It’s such a beautiful picture because it’s forgiveness and love! Two of the greatest things in the history of the world!

Just some thoughts on what God’s been revealing to me. There’s so much more to this but blog posts need to be relatively short.

Dio ti protegga,

Zach

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The Perversion of Manhood, Part 1

The one thing that I am super passionate about in life is Jesus Christ.

Below that, and right below that, is seeing young men, men in general actually, become on fire for Christ and treat women with respect, bring home the bacon and work their tails off to provide for their families and glorify God.

I’m not married yet. I haven’t graduated college. Regardless, I’m angered by the fact that I fail at being a godly man. In so many areas, I fall short of treating girls with respect and bettering myself to glorify Christ in all of my actions.

Also, I’m angered by the way I see other “men” treat women these days. For instance, a couple weeks ago, I was walking out of my dorm and looked over to the dining hall which sits right next to where I live. I saw a guy and a girl headed towards the door. The guy opened the door, and I was thinking, “Yes! Chivalry is alive.” However, this did not actually happen. The guy stepped (IN FRONT OF THE GIRL) in the building and did not even hold the door open for the young lady behind him.

This makes me mad.

But it’s what our culture teaches us.

I was listening to a Jesse McCartney song called “Leavin’.” I had heard it before, but today I started actually thinking about it.

So let’s talk about how classy Mr. McCartney is in this song. And how self-absorbed he really is.

Hey baby girl, I’ve been watching you all day. Man, that thing you got behind you is amazing. Make me want to take you out and make it rain. I know you’ve got a man, but this is what you should say.

The first verse. So he’s been watching her, and he thinks her rear end is “amazing.” That’s the first thing he says about this girl. Again, the definition of classy. I mean, that would make me fall over him if I were a girl…right?

Anyways, so he then says he wants to go spend money on her, EVEN THOUGH she has a man already, and he wants her to tell her man that she’s leavin’. And if you listen to the chorus, you hear this:

Why don’t you tell him that I’m leavin’? Never to come back again. You found somebody who does it better than he can. No more making you cry, no more them gray skies, girl we flyin’ on the G5, G5. And we’re leavin’, never to come back again. So call your shawty and tell him you found a new man. The one who’s so so fly, the one that keep you high, have you singing all night night night.

So he wants the girl to dump what she already has and go with Jesse. Okay, fair enough. Can’t say I’ve never wanted that before. But I don’t know if it sends off the right message when he sings that he’s “so so fly” and that he will keep her “high” and “singing all night.”

I mean, I don’t know exactly what that means, but…

That’s really the majority of the song. He sings another verse, but it’s rather unforgettable.

Another song is the old (read 2009) pop hit “Right Round” by Flo Rida featuring Ke-dollar sign-ha. What names.

I don’t know where I should begin with this song. Basically, he’s spending money on strippers and dancers.

Classy.

This is part 1 of a series, so I’m going to stop here before I keep going. The main message I hope you got out of this post is:

Our culture teaches males to seek getting pleasure from women however they deem necessary. It is easily relevant in the music industry. This is bogus ideology. It’s stupid.

Check back soon for Part 2.

I Am a Whore, I Do Confess

Christian musician Derek Webb got in a bit of hot water in the Christian music community in 2003 when he released his album She Must and Shall Go Free. The song “Wedding Dress” included the uses of the word “whore” and “bastard” in these contexts:

“I am a whore, I do confess, but I put You on like a wedding dress and I run down the aisle, I run down the aisle.”

“So could You love this bastard child, though I don’t trust You to provide?”

Listen to the song. This version from RELEVANT Magazine’s podcast is my favorite because we can see and hear the raw emotion behind a live version of the song. This recording is on replay on my iTunes and iPod almost every day recently.

When Did Love Become Unmoving? When Did Love Become Unconsuming?

Part of being a Christian is dying to yourself. Such a common phrase for sure. Romans 6:8 says, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” We are supposed to die to our selfish desires and follow Christ solely.

Sidewalk Prophets’ song “You Can Have Me” has been on repeat on my iPod for the last day. The lines just hammer home in my heart and in my head. The vocalist claims, “Forgetting what the world has told me, Father of love, You can have me.”

The wonderful thing I want to say about this is solely that Jesus Christ died for us and, if we come to Him submissive, He will give us forgiveness. There are many places in Scripture where this is evident, but I’m going to look at Isaiah 6:1-7.

1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

6Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.7And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

This passage could be dissected so many ways, but there’s really one thing I want to hit on, and it’s what God is speaking to me about today.

Verses 6 and 7 tell of how an angel goes to Isaiah the prophet and touches his mouth with a piece of coal. And then the angel says, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are able to go before the Father, proclaim our brokenness and have our sin atoned for. It’s such an awesome thing to contemplate, an awesome thing to behold. We need to daily be shaken by that.

We need to be shaken by the love that God has for us. If the love of God becomes unmoving, what are we doing? If the love of God does not consume us, how are we living our lives? It sure is a reality check to see how much the love of God is changing us on a daily basis.

God’s love won over Isaiah’s sin and depravity. If we have come to God humbly seeking forgiveness, His love will win over our sin and depravity. ONLY if we come to Him repentant and humbled.

Even more amazing is the fact that God loves us despite our depravity.  Another Sidewalk Prophets’ song takes care of that for me.

Be changed for Christ. Don’t let His love pass you by without being changed by it.

God bless,

ZH

 

 

 

 

 

A Better Possession and an Abiding One

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a BETTER POSSESSION AND AN ABIDING ONE. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done with will of God you may receive what is promised. – Hebrews 10:32-36

In his book Desiring God, John Piper points to Hebrews 10:32-35 as an example of having joy in the midst of trials. He talks about how the people mentioned here had joy despite being persecuted, thrown in prison and being stolen from. Piper questions if they were losers:

No. They lost property and gained joy! They joyfully accepted the loss. In one sense they denied themselves. But in another they did not. They chose the way of joy. Evidently, those Christians were motivated for prison ministry the same way the Macedonians (of 2 Corinthians 8:1-9) were motivated to relieve the poor. Their joy in God overflowed in love for others.

They looked at their own lives and said, “The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life” (see Psalm 63:3). They looked at all their possessions and said, “We have a possession in heaven that is better and lasts longer than any of this” (Hebrews 10:34).

This passage has been hitting me hard the last couple of days. I’ve been in a situation where I’m dealing with some serious struggles, both publicly and privately, that have been stressing me out, giving me headaches and causing a lot of thinking. It’s hard for me to remember the phrase “a better possession and an abiding one.”

I keep losing sight of what I have a hope for in heaven. I let worldly troubles and earthly drama and hardship bog me down too much that I forget who I am.

Let’s unpack this Hebrews passage. The author says the hardships came after the Hebrews were “enlightened.” I found when I truly accepted Christ, things became more difficult. Life became harder because I started living with a different standard in mind, the Christ standard.

The word “standard” has two meanings. First, it’s a “level of quality or attainment.” Second, it’s “an object that is supported in an upright position,” specifically a military or ceremonial flag carried on a pole or hoisted on a rope. Likewise, I think the “Christ standard” has two meanings. First, it’s the banner we fly and we adhere to, our “Jehovah-nissi” (means “the Lord is my banner” in Hebrew). Second, it’s the level of holiness we should desire to attain.

When we make Christ our standard, our flag we fly when we are “enlightened” by the truth of the Gospel and the saving grace of Jesus Christ, it is our job to live and compare ourselves to the “Christ standard,” an unmatched level of holiness we are still called to adhere to.

As I was saying, life became harder after Jesus came into my life. I faced many “hard struggle(s) with suffering” (v. 32). I was mocked for my faith a couple times, struggled with sins that I previously had no problem with and became offended by things that didn’t normally bother me. Verse 33 says that the Hebrews were, “sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.” When we are Christians, it is inevitable that we will face some kind of public reproach or disgrace unless we hide from the world forever.

That’s the life of a Christian. In 1 Corinthians 4:9, Paul says,

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, became we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men.

If we are truly living out our faith, like the Hebrews who visited those in prison and “joyfully accepted the plundering of (their) property” in verse 34, we will be a spectacle to the world. When I think of spectacle, I think of a circus. People and animals do ridiculous things. Other people watch those things and laugh, cry, applaud, etc. The difference with Christians is that our spectacle may cause some to scoff, mock and make fun of us.

The Hebrews faced all of this. But they kept going! Why? They had a BETTER POSSESSION and an ABIDING ONE.

What is this possession? Look no further than 1 Peter 1:3-5, one of my favorite Bible passages:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I could spend a whole other blog post unpacking these verses. I filled out around 7 or 8 full notebook pages with notes on these verses. The message is basically: we have an awesome inheritance through Christ, a salvation that leaves us in heaven with God when we die.

That is our better possession. That is an abiding possession, one that won’t go away; it’s imperishable, undefiled and unfading.

In his book The Slumber of Christianity, Ted Dekker writes about how Christians live their lives worrying about what’s going on at the time and forget about the great reward we have at the end. The 1 Peter passage above was discussed, but I want to pull a quote he uses from C.S. Lewis’ book The Weight of Glory:

Indeed if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

We get distracted by trying to find pleasure here on earth that we forget the better and abiding possession we have in heaven. I’m not saying that earthly pleasures are worthless. They’re awesome, especially when they’re God-given and God-honoring.

But when things on earth don’t go our way, we should cling to the fact that we have something awesome waiting for us. That’s what the Hebrews did.

When things on earth don’t go our way, we easily lose confidence in ourselves and in God. The writer of Hebrews says to not throw that confidence away, it has a great reward! Regarding this verse, John MacArthur says, “They are closer than ever to the eternal reward, it is no time to turn back.” If you’re following Christ and facing ridicule for it, stay strong! It means your faith is being lived out and people are noticing. You are obeying Christ and doing His will!

Verse 36 is probably my favorite part of this passage.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may received what is promised.

That endurance gained through going through trials will be a huge help when going through other trials, and is a testimony to the greatness of Christ within us. There is great honor in doing the will of God. It’s obedience, what Christ asks of us. Plain and simple. When we do God’s will, we will receive what is promised: eternal life.

I want to come back to Piper for a second. Right after he talks about how the Hebrews looked at what they had and said they had a better possession, he quotes a poem (I think) by Martin Luther:

Let goods and kindred go/this mortal life also/the body they may kill/God’s truth abideth still/His kingdom is forever.

That kingdom is a better possession and an abiding one.