Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cleavage Theology?

“A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.” (Genesis 2:24; KJV)

I remember reading the story of an old preacher who was asked to speak at a men’s retreat. He used Genesis 2:24 as his text, and in the excitement of the message, he shouted from the pulpit, “My young brothers in Jesus Christ, I declare to you this day that what we need in our relationships, what we need in our marriages, what we need in our churches, and what we need in this world is simply this: MORE CLEAVAGE!”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard that text expounded quite that way before. While I’ve studied Systematic Theology in seminary, I’m reasonably sure that there wasn’t a chapter on “Cleavage Theology.” It’s certainly true that this text could be used to encourage men to remain more faithful to their wives; Lord knows that far too many still seem to need to be reminded of that. Still, while Genesis 2:24 may make a great premarital counseling text, and though some might disagree, I am also reasonably sure that it does not teach that what we need more of in our churches is cleavage.

Still, being somewhat of a confessed humorist myself, I appreciated the chuckles that the aforementioned misguided hermeneutics provided me. I don’t know if that was a true story or not, and ultimately that doesn’t even matter, but if so, I can only imagine the chuckles and snickering that most certainly would have ensued in that preacher’s audience too. Who knows, but I imagine that even God might have chuckled at that one, for amongst the rest of creation, He also created humor, as suggested by Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4 which says:

“There is a time for everything … [including] a time to laugh” 

Well there you have it. If you haven’t heard a sermon on this lately, why not ask your pastor when he next plans on preaching on the merits of “Cleavage Theology?” (Hopefully he too has a healthy sense of humor). If it’s actually on his preaching plan, let me know when it’s scheduled; I may even come for a visit that Sunday. Yuk, Yuk  J

(Don't you just love the English language? LOL)

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Making Oneself at Home with Distorted Images?

"so that Christ may dwell
in your hearts
Ephesians 3:17 (NIV)

I was thinking a little about that word “dwell.” How would you define that?

My dictionary suggests that it means to live in a particular place as a resident or to remain somewhere for a time. Likewise, a “dwelling” would be a place where one dwells; a shelter or a house where a person or persons live. That’s all simple enough, but I think there is still more to “dwell” when we dig a little deeper into the Greek as it’s used in Ephesians 3:17.

As I understand it, “dwell” comes from two Greek words. The first one means to “live in a home,” and fits well with our English understanding of the word. The deeper meaning, however, comes when we consider the second Greek word which literally means, “down.” This comes out more clearly in Kenneth Wuest’s translation of the New Testament: “that the Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts.”

Let’s think on that a little deeper. We’ve all been in one another’s homes from time to time, but we haven’t always been “at home” in them. Friends come over and we greet them at the door and tell them to “make yourself at home,” but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve been in some homes where I was clearly NOT completely “at home” in that I was uncomfortable and mindful of almost everything I said and did. There was a respectful courtesy and formality to the visit, but something kept me from being at complete peace and at home there.

I’ve also been in other homes where I could really “settle down and feel completely at home.” In homes like that I could really relax and put my feet up. In homes like that I’m at ease stretching out on the couch and even nodding off for a brief nap if the mood strikes me. I am so completely at home there that getting up and finding myself a cold drink or a snack in the kitchen is a non-issue. In homes like that the formality is gone and you really do “make yourself at home,” almost as if it were your own home. I’m sure we can all relate to that.

Bear with me as I now change gears.

A common evangelistic Christianese phrase we like to tell would-be converts is to “invite Jesus into your heart.” In and of itself, that’s fine, but I cannot help but thinking that such a mantra is still missing an important element. The Pharisees often invited Jesus into their homes too, and while Jesus did enter their homes and accept their dinner invitations, I doubt that He was able to “settle down and feel completely at home” there. As a matter of fact, time and again Jesus pointed out the shortcomings of his host, further suggesting that something was amiss and He was not yet able to “settle down and feel completely at home.” He was there in the home, but only in a cordial capacity as an invited guest; He didn’t really “dwell” there.

Sometimes I wonder if Christ is there in our hearts as simply a formal guest, or if He has been able to truly “settle down and feel completely at home.” Does Jesus really “dwell” in me in the truest sense of the word? Does Jesus really feel at home in me, or have I still shut Him out from one part or another of my life? Is He my constant companion, or are there parts of my life that make Him squirm and feel uncomfortable, as an outsider looking in to a place that, though invited, would just as soon not cross the road to go visit?

Let's take this a step further; would He chastise me as he did the Pharasees of old for bearing a distorted image of the Christian life? Yes, I invited Jesus into my heart many years ago, but has He really been able to "settle down and feel completely at home" ... in me? I wonder.

Something to think about. Peace.

Photo Credit: Patrick Subotkiewiez; Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, 2 March 2015

A Tale of Two Brains: The Marriage Seminar

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

As I write this, my wife and I have passed our thirty-third wedding anniversary, and our youngest and his fiancee are busy making their own wedding plans for this upcoming summer. Marriage is both an exciting and a scary time. Most of us do not go into a marriage thinking about it not lasting; deep down I'm sure we all think of it as "until death do us part," yet statistics tell us that some fifty percent of marriages will dissolve before the grave separates husband and wife. Despite the statistics, we still believe in marriage; we all still go into matrimony with our rose-coloured glasses planted firmly on our faces, believing and hoping that our marriage will beat the odds. The good news is, that's God's will for our relationships too. God believes in marriage.

What can we do to ensure that our marriages remain strong and don't just become another statistic of the divorce court? For many, marriage seminars are one way to rekindle that love that tied the knot in the first place. Recently someone shared a marriage seminar video with me by Mark Gungor called Two Brains. If you have not yet seen this, grab your spouse or fiancee, get comfortable and get get ready to laugh until it hurts; and just maybe you too will come away having, not just a better understanding of what makes your partner act the way he or she does, but perhaps also will find that old love spark rekindled.

One final caveat: While this video is about two hours long, it's really at par with most other movies that we may find ourselves curling up with on any given weekend. So if you're going to watch it, do yourselves a favour and do so when you both have the time to enjoy it; you'll be glad that you did.

Is your marriage worth saving? Is your marriage worth strengthening? Of course it is! Having said that, are you ready to embark on an interesting marriage seminar? If so, then here's Mark Gungor. Enjoy, and may God bless your marriage.

Photo Credit: Yannig Van de Wouwer, Flickr Creative Commons