Tag Archives: marriage


by Christine Berglund

After 30 years, I am once again cultivating a curious little fruit that our family calls “pie tomatoes.” Physalis is a little berry in the Nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

My friend Cherry remembered them from long ago, and sent me the seeds, sold under the name “Ground Cherry” and “Husk Tomato.” It is also known as “Cape Gooseberry.”

The plant is rather ugly, and looks like a weed. It can grow three feet tall and spreads up to four feet wide. The fruit is enclosed in a loose husk which completely encases the marble-sized berry. They ripen to a papery yellow and then drop off the plant, which is the signal that they are ready to eat or cook. They make the most wonderful pies!

My mother got her plants from a Jewish friend, along with the pie recipe. She called it Shoo Fly pie, which I found out later is something altogether different. I suppose they didn’t know the English equivalent to whatever they called it before, possibly in Europe, and so adopted the erroneous name.

These peculiar golden fruits bring back memories of my childhood, and of my sweet mother who passed away when I was nine. I still call the fruits “pie tomatoes” and the pie is simply “pie tomato pie.” I should be taking suggestions for a pie-naming contest. It deserves a good one!

The mundane name does not in any way detract from how good these are! They even contain chemical compounds that combat inflammation, hypertension, and even cancer. However, in life we assign false names to things that often should be called what they really are.

Our firstborn, Heather, was a champion at re-naming things. An early talker, she probably just didn’t want to wait to find out the name of an object before she would assign one of her own. As she played on the monkey bars at a local playground, she might say,“Mommy, I’m climbing the blambidge!” The tall pails we used for toy storage became “dummalines,” and the knobs on her crib were “pams.”

Even as a baby, whenever she saw the moon she would point and murmur in a reverent tone, “Schlabaah…” We still don’t know what that meant, and neither does she.

I must admit our family still uses these words, mostly because of our nostalgia for Heather’s baby days. Sometimes it’s okay to use fanciful words, but our last-born chided us recently for our failure to tell her that “dummaline” was a made-up word.

Her friends gave her a blank stare when she used the word in their presence. Silly friends! No; silly us, for using the wrong word for “storage bucket.”

There has been a lot of buzz lately about what the word “marriage” can be used to describe, and even a news report that a Brazilian man and two women have a union called “marriage” recognized by the government.

Everybody has his or her own opinion on how far we can go with this classification, but rarely is the will of our Creator considered. We simply argue about the word, or it is re-made to mean something different.

We can call something “health care” when it really means killing an unwanted child. There are numerous ways to make something look better by simply re-naming it.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NASB).

Let’s use our words carefully, and let them always be true. Pie, anyone?


Contradictions of Calvinism

by  Mike Benson

Bad news travels fast–especially in religious circles. The latest fatality is Dr. Jack Schaaps, “pastor” of the 15,000 member First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Schaaps is 54, married with two children, and has served with the congregation for about eleven years.

He’s also been involved in an illicit relationship with a 16-year-old female church member.

According to news reports, a deacon noticed a text message on Schaap’s cell phone. The image showed preacher and girl engaged in a kiss. When confronted by his church board, Schaaps admitted to having an affair with the youth.

From a legal standpoint, the preacher is not in trouble because the legal age of consent for sexual activity in Indiana is 16. But from a professional, marital, and moral standpoint, Schaaps is in all kinds of hot water.

But here’s the kicker. Jack Schaaps is a Calvinist. Let that marinade around your brain stem for just a moment.

One of the petals of Calvinism (e.g., TULIP) is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints–what is popularly known as “once-saved, always-saved.” The idea is that once God has saved you, there is absolutely nothing you can do to be lost. Period. Dot. End of sentence.

However popular the doctrine may be within the religious world today, it is simply not in harmony with the teaching of Scripture. In reality, there are over 2,500 places in the Bible that teach a child of God can sin and be lost. Here’s a brief sampling from the New Testament:

  • In the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his one talent was cast into outer darkness (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • In the Parable of the Soils, some who become children of God have their faith choked by thorns (Mark 4:14-20).
  • Some believe for a time, but, fall away because they succumb to temptation (Luke 8:13).
  • Jesus is the vine and Christians are the branches. A branch that does not bear fruit is cut off and burned.
  • Judas fell (Acts 1:25).
  • Ananias and Sapphira were Christians who died in their sins (Acts 5:1-11).
  • Simon was in danger of losing his soul (Acts 8:20-22).
  • If a child of God lives according to the flesh, he will die spiritually (Romans 8:12-13).
  • The brother in the church at Corinth who had his father’s wife was in a lost condition until he repented (1 Corinthians 5:1-3, 5; 2 Corinthians 2:3-11; Revelation 21:27).
  • A weak brother can perish (1 Corinthians 8:11).
  • Even Paul could have been castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • The Israelites fell and were lost (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).
  • Some Christians in Galatia had already fallen because they had turned back to elements of the old law (Galatians 5:2-4).
  • See also 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Ezekiel 3:20; 18:21-25.

The episode in Dr. Schaap’s life is heart-breaking. He has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. His influence has been destroyed, his marriage has been damaged, and our society continues its downward spiral into the moral abyss.

But perhaps what wrenches my heart most of all is that many, like Dr. Schaaps, do not choose to see in the Word what is clearly illustrated in his life.

How can a person claim to be saved in Christ when his life and teaching are obviously not Christ-like?

Satan's weapon of hate

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Satan is the master of lies, deceiving countless people daily through sleight of hand and subtle tricks of the language (John 8:44). Yet, most people no longer think he exists, even in churches. We must be diligent to expose his activities.

In our upside down age, we blame God for evil and credit man for good. Recent events shed light on Satan’s lies.

The owner of the restaurant chain, Chick-fil-a, made it known that he did not support homosexual marriage. A firestorm of criticism led thousands of Americans to stand in line to support the restaurant’s stance on traditional marriage.

Detractors insist that everyone who is against homosexual marriage hates homosexuals. This is too devious for man to come up with on his own. Clearly, Satan is at work because these claims are antithetical to God’s Word.

As Christians, we are commanded to love everyone (1 John 4:7). The gospel is for all, no matter what sins we have committed (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

While God condemns the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27), God created those who practice homosexuality in his image (Genesis 1:27) and sent his Son to die for them (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Nevertheless, Satan is reaping great benefits by redefining words to cloud the minds of men (Ephesians 6:11).

In the spiritual realm, he has changed the popular definitions of grace, salvation, church, Christian and saint. Accordingly, countless people are being lost, thinking they are pleasing God while falling for Satan’s lies.

By altering the parameters of the homosexuality issue, Satan has found a way to pressure people into acceptance, even Christians who have replaced faith with timidity.

They ignore the clear teachings of the New Testament against homosexuality because they fear the approval of men more than they fear the approbation of God.

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25, NKJV).

They are spineless, just like Aaron, who was more frightened of the people than of God (Exodus 32:21-24). Will leaders of God’s people follow the same path? Sadly, many will.

God gave Jeremiah some very sound advice that applies today:

“Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:8).

Genuine conversion

by Michael E. Brooks

Domestic violence is one of many moral problems in South Asia. Almost every daily newspaper contains stories of men who burn their wives with acid, cruelly beat, or even kill them. Often the motive is extortion of money (dowry) from her family or anger at their failing to provide it to him. Many other, less severe, acts of violence are suffered regularly for various reasons.

Recently I was asked to mediate in a domestic dispute of a different kind. A couple was frequently quarreling and fighting and neighbors tried to intervene to help them. According to those neighbors it was the wife who was the aggressor, continually tormenting her husband not with blows but with words. She accused him groundlessly and wildly of misconduct, cursed him, abused him with foul language, and spoke with great disrespect of him and his family. She repeatedly threatened to kill him, using poison, suffocation or other means.

I am not suggesting that her abuse was worse or necessarily equal to that of the malicious husbands described above. I do point out however that everyone has the potential to sin against and harm others.

But that is not my primary reason for citing these examples. Rather it is to say that this kind of behavior, though not unknown in other nations and cultures, is especially prevalent here. I cannot help but believe that one reason it is so culturally pervasive is the absence of significant Christian influence.

The Bible makes it plain that such behavior is sin and totally unacceptable. Unfortunately not all religions or philosophies contain the same teaching.

When Christian missionaries come to evangelize non-Christian areas of the world, our emphasis is always to present Jesus’ promise of eternal salvation. Ours is a message of invitation and hope. Yet we need to present Christ’s challenge to a world lost in sin – we do not have to live like this. We can do much better.

Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:22-24 are directly to that point. He commands us to put off the old sinful way of life and live as God intended. God will help us but we must make a diligent effort.

In the remainder of chapter 4 (verses 25-32) Paul describes the kinds of change that are required. He tells us to stop stealing and work honestly for what we need (28). We are to quit lying and tell the truth (25); refrain from sinful actions, even if we are angry (26); and be kind to each other, practicing forgiveness (32).

Prominent among these changes is our habit of speech. No corrupt word is to depart from our mouth (29), and we are to avoid all evil speaking (31). In contrast we are to speak only those things that are good for necessary edification and that will impart grace to the hearer (29).

What a different world we would live in if all would follow those instructions. If honest labor, true speech, and positive language were the common characteristics of all, what joy and peace we would know.

We understand that most will not follow God’s will. But that does not lessen the importance of each one of his people making their very best effort. The changes described above are one definition of conversion (Acts 3:19).

Those times of refreshing surely include the positive results of our behavioral changes. Every time an abusive husband repents and comes to Christian faith, or a profane woman purifies and controls her tongue, they, and society, are refreshed.

May we labor diligently to help that happen more frequently.

When two become one

When a couple gets married, they form a new person that enters the world fresh and vulnerable. It must be cared for, if it will survive. From the wobbly first steps to the sturdy paths of the mature, it must be nurtured and protected from predators.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).

They unite to form a being that has never before existed. The cruel world will be determined to destroy it, as soon as possible. The couple must develop strategies to fortify the walls, so the attacks can be repelled.

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Divorce is an act of violence that destroys the lives of everyone involved. The shrapnel of the bomb creates permanent scars (Malachi 2:16). The new creation can thrive and persevere. It will just require hard work and an indefatigable eye on the big picture of commitment.

How will they remain married for life?

First, be stubborn. Refusing to break up is a great start. When we resolve to stand firm, we find it easier to withstand attacks. We build our fortifications and man the walls together, not allowing anyone to come between us.

Second, be separate. Entering a place of their own design, they retreat there for safety and sanity. United as one, they protect and cultivate their special place, so it will always be their haven of peace.

Third, be a student. We must learn as much as we can about one another, so we can strive to bring fulfillment and happiness into our lives. We cannot do this for our spouse, but we can sow the seed. We learn all we can because knowledge is power.

Fourth, be substantive. Spend quality time together in play, pleasure, communication and in service to God. Don’t waste days. We must ensure that intimacy and affection are pervasive in our marriage.

Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices. If we do, we will have joy all of our days. If not, we will either break apart or live the remainder of our days stuck in a nightmare.

Sounds like an easy decision.

Give her honor

History records that former President Harry Truman (1945-1953) was a dyed-in-the-wool romantic.

He pursued a lovely young lady by the name of Bess (Elizabeth Virginia Wallace) and vied for her affections back in 1910. The two dated by visiting in the sitting room, going on picnics and fishing with family and friends.

Harry and Bess were united in marriage some nine years later on June 28, 1919.

Once they were together, Harry continued to court and romance his wife throughout the entirety of their 53 year relationship.

Even though he was frequently away on governmental business and the affairs of his political office, he never failed to write Bess and tell her how much he loved her.

When Bess died of congestive heart failure in 1983, her family discovered more than 1,200 letters that Harry had written to his lifelong spouse.

Harry never stopped honoring Bess.

Remember Peter’s words? “Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7,-emphasis mine, mb).

“To honor something is to ascribe value to it.  Priority is given to things but people are honored. The president of the United States is honored by the playing of ‘Hail to the Chief,’ and by hundreds of other acts of protocol, large and small.  Men, would your wives know by your actions that you honor them?  Could they tell by the things you say and do that you value them above anyone else?  Gary Smalley describes honor as ‘a reflex of the heart toward one who is deeply treasured.’  I like that definition.  Honor is the overflow of a loving heart. Ask your wife what would honor her.  You might be surprised at how simple it would be to bestow this gift of sacrificial love.  Maybe it is a phone call to say you are running late.  Or an offer to drop dry cleaning off on your way to work.  Or a warm hug at the end of a day that’s been demanding for her as it has for you.  Or even the simple words ‘I love you,’ spoken at just the right time.” /1

Husbands, do you still express honor to your wives?

  • Do you still open the car door for them?
  • When was the last time you sent them flowers (and it wasn’t their birthday)?
  • When was the last time you took them out on a date night for a movie and dinner?
  • When was the last time you sent them an email or a letter and told them why you love them?

Harry honored Bess for over half a century. Let’s emulate his example.

1/  Ed Young, “How To Have A Marriage That Sizzles,” Romancing The Home, 77

You surpass them all

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29).

Many newly married men have made the mistake, or been perceived to make the mistake of comparing their wives’ cooking with that of their mothers.

“My mom made really great fudge brownies” sounds to a new wife like a comparison, with her at a position of disadvantage.  Like jumping into the crocodile-infested Zambezi River. It’s best to just not go there.

But a wise husband could flip it the other way. Has he known great cooks (or talented women, or beautiful women, or charming women)? Why sure he has! But, and here’s the kicker: “You surpass them all.”

Of course when a husband says his wife is “the most beautiful” woman in the world,” that statement is not strictly true. Somewhere there is a woman more beautiful. But it is an understandable, even necessary hyperbole. She may (or may not) be the most beautiful woman in the world, but in his eyes, she should be.

To both husbands and wives: Squeaky door hinges need WD-40, brownies need ice cream, and spouses need to be complimented once in a while!

A new perspective

Anthony and Stacey were furious with each other. Ralph, their fawn Pug, tried to stay out of harm’s way in his box, hoping the yelling would stop soon.

Anthony was in the garage hammering furiously on his projects as dusk fell. Stacey was stuffing clothes in the dryer before slamming the door. Both were seething about their fight earlier about whether to purchase a new kitchen table and chairs.

Stacey paced in the hallway before grabbing her cell phone to call and whine to her best friend, Jennifer. She nearly dropped her phone. Recovering it, she glanced at the screen and realized she had called her friend, Jacqueline, by mistake.

Stacey frowned as she contemplated hanging up but knew that would be embarrassing. She had not talked to Jacqueline in months, so she might as well continue.


“Hi, Jacque. It’s Stacey.”

“Hello, Stacey. It’s great to hear from you!”

As they exchanged chit-chat, Stacey felt something was wrong. Her friend sounded somewhat feeble. When there was a chance, Stacey asked about her friend’s voice.

“Well, I’ve been sick a lot lately. Lung problems. Benny has been working two jobs so we can survive, since I lost my job. I don’t feel like doing much lately.”

“Jacque, I am so sorry to hear that! You were always so strong.”

“I know. Well, reality has come to visit. I’m not superwoman anymore.” She laughed and coughed. Stacey winced.

She discovered that Benny’s two jobs were barely getting them by with her medical bills and their mortgage. As Stacey listened, her anger with Anthony was replaced with empathy for her friend.

Stacey promised to visit later in the month and they ended on a cordial note. As she hung up, Stacey dropped into a chair by the garden window, lost in thought.

Hearing the door and Anthony’s heavy steps, she rose to meet him. He stepped back, wary, at her presence. She went to him with tears in her eyes and they embraced. Anthony was stiff, unsure what was going on. Finally, he relented and drew her closer.

Reaching up to kiss her man, she said, “Honey, I’m sorry. Let’s talk.”

“Umm, sure. Are you OK?”

“Yes. Well, no. I don’t know. I’m just seeing things from a new perspective, that’s all.”

“Me too, sweetheart. That’s what I was coming inside to do. Talk to you. I love you passionately and I don’t want to ever fight with you.”

“Me, neither. Let’s talk after you kiss me again.”

Anthony laughed. “I like that plan.”

They talked about the kitchen table situation and decided that what they had was fine. Stacey turned the conversation to what they could do for their friends, Jacqueline and Benny.

“Stacey, on Saturday, let’s go over there and see what we can do to help. We need some people at the plant. Maybe we can give Benny some extra work to help them out.”

“That would be wonderful, honey. You know, we can easily lose perspective on how blessed we truly are.”

Anthony embraced his wife. “You’re right about that.”

“Anthony, I guess we need to spend some time in Bible study and prayer. We were fighting over something that didn’t matter. We were going to waste money when we could put it to better use for our friends.”

“Stacey, I remember Hebrews 13:16, ‘But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.'”

Stacey snuggled closer to the man she adored and admired, smiling contentedly. “Amen.”

Relationship tune up

“Her children rise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all'”(Proverbs 31:28, ESV).

The note was on the table when Bob found it. He should have known better. He maintained his car constantly, adjusting the timing like a symphony hall conductor, changing the oil regularly, doing all the work with his own hands. His car purred more softly than their Persian cat.

But a man who understood cars so well should have understood his wife better. He was a good man, provided well for his family, and would have given his shirt off his back to a stranger. He loved Stacy, in his strong, quiet way. But he never praised her, rarely thanked her.

A man who checked his car daily, who understood that a car doesn’t run smoothly, had no idea what kind of lubricant smoothed over the most important relationship in his life. He had taken her for granted.

The note read: “Bob, I’ve moved out. Try as I might, I can’t do anything that makes you happy. If only you had told me once that you appreciated what I did. Perhaps now you will learn that meals don’t cook themselves, and clothes don’t wash themselves.”

The hard part was that he had. He just hadn’t said so. He just thought that she understood. “Guess I thought she had mental telepathy,” he muttered to himself.

He sat down on the couch and began, belatedly, to plan how to do a complete service on the marriage.


What's Your Sermon?

by Paula Harrington
Pulpit44.jpgI was cleaning out cabinets recently when I came across a shoe box full of cassette tapes. All were old sermons from some of my favorite preachers of years gone by.
Some of the best sermons, however, aren’t captured on cassette nor will they ever be available on the Internet. They are preached by the way ordinary men and women live their lives.
One of the best sermons I’ve ever known was on perseverance and preached by a single mother who brought her young children to Bible class and then wrestled them alone until they grew and became faithful Christians.
Another on faith was taught by a sweet lady who went through dialysis but never complained. Instead she always had a smile and encouraging word.
A powerful one on love and marriage was by a man who diligently cared for his sick wife. He would feed her, dress her, and then bring her with him to the worship service.
The greatest sermons in history weren’t originally declared to large crowds. Some were broadcast from a lonely jail cell (Genesis 41), a fiery furnace (Daniel 3), a lion’s den (Daniel 6) and a manger (Matthew 1, Luke 2,). Of course, the one that impacted the world more than any other was proclaimed in an empty tomb (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20).
Every Christian is a minister, but most will never stand at the front of the auditorium. They will quietly speak messages of love, mercy, and forgiveness in the way they treat others and handle life’s situations.
They will show the world that pain and heartache don’t define a life. They will smile or say a kind word when they could more easily walk away. They will write notes of encouragement and offer much needed hugs and in doing so will influence more people for Jesus than they will ever realize.
What are you preaching to your friends and family? Is it a sermon of love and grace or one of hypocrisy and complaining? If you haven’t started thinking about your message, today’s the day. Set your mind on things above and then with a good attitude and a servant’s heart, boldly live the Word of God.
Remember, you don’t need a passport to be a missionary and you certainly don’t need a podium to be a preacher.