The last word that Jesus spoke before dying on the cross means, “It is finished.” The atoning work of Christ is complete. Our immense debt to God is paid in full.
While Jesus was hanging on a cross outside Jerusalem, a thick curtain was hanging inside the Jewish temple. This ornate veil marked a solemn boundary: the curtain was a physical barrier representing the spiritual separation between God and people. Some claimed that this curtain was so thick—maybe four inches thick—that horses could not have torn it apart.
But when Christ died, God tore that veil apart from top to bottom. Through His own torn body, Jesus opened the way to God. He made Himself the door into the heart of God.
When God tore the curtain, He was throwing open the entrance into His presence, inviting us all to rich relationship with Him: “Come in, come in!”
Tetelestai. The old covenant is finished.
The old covenant is the system in which we must earn our acceptance. We must prove ourselves. In the old system, there are rewards and relationship for those who keep the rules, and there are punishments and separation for those fail.
But Christ said, “Tetelestai.” The old covenant is finished. We have a new way now, a way of receiving instead of earning.
God gives us relationship. He gives us acceptance. God gives us warm welcome and honor. He gives us unfailing love.
God says to us, “Tetelestai. No more earning. Come in, come in!” What a fantastic thing to hear!
Tetelestai transforms our lives, entirely.
And tetelestai can transform our marriages—entirely.
Very often, we put our spouse in the defendant’s seat while we climb to the judge’s bench. We stay busy and vigilant as both judge and prosecutor. Has my spouse earned my kindness? Has she earned my attention? Has he earned my respect? Has he earned my acceptance?
We feel compelled to oversee justice before providing relationship, so we continually monitor our spouse’s behavior, measure our approval or displeasure, and mete out the consequences. All of these relational transactions drain our energy and dampen our enjoyment. Our marriages begin to carry more duty than delight.
But there is a better way! We can say to our spouse, “Tetelestai! No more earning my love. I give you acceptance. I give you my commitment.”
We are no longer in the courtroom with God. Let’s not live in the courtroom with our spouse.
….. [Continue reading this article at StartMarriageRight.com HERE.]
Recently, my friend Kristen Hogrefe asked me several questions about marriage as she prepares for her wedding in just a few days. I was happy to share with Kristen some of the things that I have learned during thirty years of marriage.
Last week, Kristen posted Part One of our marriage question-and-answer on her website; and today, she is posting Part Two. Here are today’s questions from the bride:
Bride: Forgiveness is something couples must generously extend, but, of course, that’s not always easy to do in the heat of the moment. What has helped you to be more forgiving as a wife?
Bride: Do you have any resources you’d recommend to engaged or newly married couples? What are some of the resources you offer on your website MannaForMarriage.com?
To read the article, please continue reading at Kristen’s website HERE.
Have you entered the book giveaway for The Marriage Knot? Learn about this new marriage book and enter your name for the giveaway HERE or HERE.
Recently, my friend Kristen Hogrefe asked me several questions about marriage as she prepares for her wedding in just a few days. She recognizes that preparing for a lifelong marriage is more important than preparing for a wedding event, as exciting as that is! Having been on this journey myself for over thirty years, I am happy to share some of the things I have learned (and still am learning) along the way.
Here are the first three questions:
Bride: Opposites do attract, and my fiancé and I are no exception! What advice can you give to help us celebrate these differences instead of resenting them?
Bride: So often, I hear, “The first year is extremely hard.” Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Bride: Perhaps because I’m getting married in my thirties, I don’t have the “rose-colored-glasses” view that a teen or twenty-something might have. Instead, I’ve seen enough life and marriage struggles to know marriage isn’t always easy. What encouragement can you offer the new bride?
I am honored that Kristen is sharing her questions and my responses in two guest posts on her personal blog, where Kristen encourages her readers “to think truthfully and live daringly.” The first article appeared on her website today, and Part Two will be published next week.
To read our Q and A exchange, continue reading HERE.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t eager to read about “the storm-tossed family.”
But as I began to read Russell Moore’s latest book, I had to restrain myself from bombarding a friend with texted pictures of underlined passages from the book.
You may not be eager to read about the tossing of a storm, but you will definitely want to learn “how the cross reshapes the family,” which is the subtitle of The Storm-Tossed Family. Published by B&H Books, this new book on marriage and family is excellent.
Family as Problem, and Family as Solution
Moore’s opening premise is that just as storm clouds bring life-giving rain as well as devastating floods, so our families can bring to us our greatest joys as well as our deepest sorrows. The same waters that threaten to drown us can become the waters that float our boat.
“The family is not only part of the problem, … but part of the solution” (page 30). Eve’s first son murdered her second, but another Son rescues us all.
God uses His design of family to heal our families. Our marriages and families are torn apart with conflict and cruelty until we are born into God’s family, where we are loved with the lavish affection of the Father and the friendship of spiritual brothers and sisters. Through covenant vows, we receive a glorious Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. We look forward to celebrating at a Wedding Feast and living “happily ever after.”
Family as Spiritual Warfare
Moore recognizes that the family is the battleground for spiritual warfare. Our objective is not escape; it is victory. This is a battle worth fighting, and it is a war we can win.
How then shall we live in our families so that our joys are eternal instead of elusive? How can we navigate our lives so that our burdens are redemptive instead of destructive? The answer is found in the cross. Like the family sometimes, the cross is a place of pain and rejection, but it is also the door to joy and connection.
Living Crucified Lives
A cross-shaped home is an intriguing concept, but it is much more than that. Learning to incarnate the gospel in our own lives is the most important thing we can do. Many see the cross as a relic of the past, but if we are to experience transformation in the present, we must recognize that the cross is our constant pattern for daily living.
How does the cross shape us as children and siblings, as spouses and parents? I think we live cruciform lives in three ways.
1. We live cross-shaped lives as we continually die to our own self-will. Our own will is not necessarily sinful, but clinging to it always is.
2. The gospel transforms us so that we can love others sacrificially: we are willing to suffer for the benefit of another. We are willing to be wounded so that others may be healed. As we suffer willingly and forgive generously, we re-enact the gospel.
3. The gospel renews our thinking so that we can receive our burdens as blessings. God knows how to use the snarled threads in our marriages and families to untangle the knots in our own souls.
God-ordained suffering is always redemptive, which means that God uses it to reverse the curse in the world and in our lives personally. When our spirits are yielded to God, our hardships will always prosper us spiritually. In the Hands of God, our suffering will not deprive us, demean us, or deform us; instead, it will deliver us. It will heal us and enrich us.
The cross of suffering is not an obstacle to joy for those who crucify their self-centeredness there: instead, the cross is the very means to joy. The invitation to pick up our cross (“come and die”) is the invitation to intimacy with God Himself and the invitation to share His joy.
I am thrilled to see fantastic truths about marriage being shared in this book, and I pray that its much-needed message will reach a huge audience. I appreciate Moore’s understanding of the unique partnership within the covenant of marriage, and I am delighted to read his discussions of masculinity and femininity, which are favorite topics of mine. Although I don’t agree with Moore on everything, I recommend this book as one of the best on marriage.
This book does not list “five tips for resolving conflict” or “six things you should never say to your wife.” Those things may be helpful, but they are secondary issues. (For those who are familiar with Radiance, you will understand when I say that The Storm-Tossed Family deals with mattress issues, not sheets.)
The primary issue in marriage is to get our own hearts right and to understand the purpose of marriage. With a sound doctrine of marriage, Moore explains the underlying principles which provide a solid foundation for dealing with secondary issues.
Let me share some great statements from several chapters.
From “Man and Woman at the Cross”:
“Men are warned [in Scripture] … against passivity and refusal to take responsibility…. Women are warned … against signifying a lack of need for the male….” (page 86)
“Headship does not refer to power but to responsibility.” (88)
“Headship will not seem often to the outside world to be ‘being the head of one’s house’ at all. Headship will look, in many cases, like weakness. So does the cross.” (89)
“We are created for cooperation and for complementarity. We do this not through the will-to-power but through the way of the cross.” (94)
“Marriage matters then for everyone because marriage is not just about marriage. Marriage is about the cross.” (95)
From “Marriage and the Mystery of Christ”:
Moore tells engaged couples that “they can’t construct their own vows” because “apart from the rest of the community, they do not know what vows to make. … [T]he primary purpose of covenant vows is not in reference to one’s feelings in the moment but to one’s commitment in the face of the unpredictable and the unimaginable.” (104)
A wedding “is not a party for the couple, celebrating their individualized love. … Those gathered are not an audience but witnesses…. In a Christian marriage, the gathered witnesses are a sign that the church is here to hold the couple accountable to their vows before God. The marriage is not just about the couple but about the gospel. This means the marriage is the business of the whole church.” (105)
“Intimacy means that you love these realities [of your spouse’s strengths and vulnerabilities] … without either taking the other’s strengths for granted or resenting him or her for not having other strengths. Often, the ‘other woman’ or ‘other man’ in a marriage is not a real person with which a spouse is having an affair, but instead is an imagined, idealized husband or wife to which the spouse is constantly compared.” (117)
“Whether married or not, you bear a calling to support and uphold the marriages within the family of God….” (123)
We “will find joy and peace and wholeness in our marriages when we stop expecting marriage to meet all our needs, and start seeing marriage as a war to find contentment in the gospel.” (123)
From “Reclaiming Sexuality”:
“Affairs are usually not about a lack of happiness [in marriage] or a lack of sex. … The devil knows the way to take one down is not through a deficient spouse but through a deficient self” [that is, not finding one’s identity in Christ]. (143, 145)
“Ingeniously, the satanic powers have found a means to direct human erotic energy in a direction that ultimately saps one of erotic energy, and in due time, of the very possibility of human intimacy. The powers of the age will collaborate with the biological impulses to make this seem irresistible….” (150)
“In both artificial Eros and in artificial romance, there is the love of self, not the mystery of the other.” (151)
From “The Road To and From Divorce”:
“How can Christians … speak to issues of social justice and the common good without addressing what is no doubt the leading cause of ‘orphans and widows’ (James 1:27) in our midst? How can we speak … about ‘family values’ while speaking in muted tones on the issue of divorce and at full-volume on other matters?” (162)
“John the Baptist telling Herod he could not have another man’s wife is a quite rare profile in courage in almost any era.” (163)
“The shift in evangelical attitudes toward marital permanence does not seem to have come through any kind of theological reflection or conversation at all. Instead, our approach to divorce seems to have meandered just a bit behind the mainstream of American cultural patterns. … We have grown accustomed to a divorce culture….” (164)
Moore believes that marriage “is to be part of the discipline of the church” (174). He claims that every “marriage that the church solemnizes should be a marriage the church takes as its responsibility” (175). These statements may surprise some readers and will probably raise some eyebrows. I was surprised … and pleased, and this passage raised a cheer from me! It deserved another “thank you, Russell Moore!” text.
Cherish the Blessings
Moore also addresses the topics of children, parenting, family traumas, and aging. In each chapter, he shares clarifying perspective and profound biblical truth.
The book concludes with strong encouragement:
Your family, whatever it is, will bless you, maybe in ways you don’t even notice in the blur of busyness at the moment. Stop and notice these blessings. Listen to what God is telling you through them. … Do not be afraid. … Whatever storms you may face now, you can survive. If you listen carefully enough, even in the scariest, most howling moments, you can hear a Galilean voice saying, “Peace. Be still.” (297)
Thank you, Russell Moore, for writing The Storm-Tossed Family. May a multitude of homes be reshaped by the Cross.
Does your spouse delight you? If not, what can you do about it?
We tend to think that our delight is our spouses’ responsibility. We sit around and wait for them to delight us. Perhaps we feel sorry for ourselves as we criticize them for not delighting us. But we have a far better option:
We can CHOOSE to delight in our spouses.
If we will determine to enjoy our spouses, we will be giving the best gift ever!
Delight is an essential part of a healthy marriage, but we often fail to express it. When the gift of delight is missing, husbands and wives can sometimes feel like Mark or Karen:
Mark knows that his wife is committed to him, but he doesn’t feel that she really enjoys being with him. Most of the time, he suspects that she is merely tolerating him. He is thankful for his marriage, but he often feels lonely. He is troubled by the thought that he is inadequate to make his wife happy.
Karen appreciates her husband’s commitment, but she fears that she can’t keep his interest. She often feels unknown and unvalued. At one time, she had hoped that her husband would see her as fascinating, but now she worries that he doesn’t see her at all.
What would happen if Mark’s wife began to show him that she enjoys his company? And if Karen could see that her husband delighted in her, wouldn’t that change everything? …
Whether you are single or married, there are six important things to know about marriage.
We looked at the first three thingslast week, and today we will look at the remaining three:
#4. Marriage will not complete you.
Single people are not “halves” waiting for their other “halves” to join them. Two single people are two complete people. But after a man and a woman marry, God unites these two individuals as one married couple. Two people become one flesh and one team.
Christ is the only One who is able to fully satisfy us. Whether we are married or single, Christ is the Lover of our souls who knows us completely, loves us unconditionally, and cares for us perfectly.
#5. Marriage is not the cure for loneliness.
Singles struggle with loneliness, but so do married people. In fact, some people say that the loneliness they experienced within marriage was more intense than the loneliness they felt when single. [Click HERE to continue reading this article at Kristen Hogrefe’s website. ]
Kristen is an excellent writer, specializing in young adult fiction; and I am privileged to guest-blog for her again today. She is also a great friend, and it was wonderful to see her last week at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.
Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?
If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage.
Here are six important things to know about marriage.
#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.
When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.
In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:
For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5, NLT)
God will be our husband? What does that mean? [Continue reading this articleHERE at KristenHogrefe.com. I appreciate Kristen’s heart for young adults and her strong commitment to biblical truth. Through her writing and speaking, “she challenges young adults and the young at heart to think truthfully and live daringly.” I recommend both her blog and her young-adult novels.]