Christianity in One Word

Christianity in One Word

Denominations. Cultures. Traditional vs. contemporary. Grace vs. good works. Community. Just love everyone. What is Christianity really about anyway?

Controversy has been a part of Christianity ever since Jesus ascended back to heaven. It took some time for Jewish and Gentile believers to work through what was essential and what wasn’t. Persecution pressed the believers to carry the good news farther and farther until the then-known world was turned upside down. (Acts 17:6) Even so, nothing could stop them.

What was it about having been with Jesus that so changed the first believers? What was it that so burned in their souls? What was it that continued to compel the gospel forward in the face of both internal conflict and external opposition?

If you had to sum up Christianity in one word, what would it be?

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How God Deals with Repeat Sinners

How God Deals with Repeat Sinners

It’s been too long. You’ve smoked too long. You’ve been mean and judgmental too long. You’ve slept with too many people. You’ve tried and failed to get over your pornography or pill addiction too long. You’ve cheated people out of too much money. You’ve told too many lies. You’ve destroyed too many people’s reputations. You’ve been violent toward your spouse too long. You’ve had too many abortions.

Perhaps as an OB-Gyn physician that last one hits close to home for me. I was on a missions trip in another country when a local pastor’s wife asked to talk with me. Through her tears she asked me if I thought God could forgive her because she had undergone several abortions. There was no safe contraception available to her, and she and her husband felt they couldn’t afford to raise any more children.

Another time I was seeing a patient for her first prenatal visit, and asking all the usual questions. When I asked, “Have you ever been pregnant before” she burst into tears. “Yes. Three times. Three abortions.” She was ashamed and covered with guilt. Did she have a chance with this pregnancy? Could God ever look on her with favor?

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How to “Make Up” When You’ve Hurt Your Spouse

How to “Make Up” When You’ve Hurt Your Spouse

As uncomfortable as it may be, saying “I’m sorry” for a small thing to someone you may never see again really isn’t all that hard. The stakes are much higher when you’ve hurt the one you promised to love, honor, and cherish for the rest of your life. Making things right with your spouse is more difficult, but it’s a skill you’ll need to learn if you want a long and healthy marriage.

Unless you’re ready for translation, you and I each do things that hurt those closest to us. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, completely without intention to cause harm. Other times we cause harm through carelessness or weakness, or because we’re hurting ourselves. And then there are times we know we’re doing something that will hurt him or her, but we do it anyway.

In the end what matters is that you caused them pain. Ouch! It’s easy to get defensive and try to explain away what you did, but that only drives you farther apart. If you want your marriage to survive you need to do everything possible on your end to repair the relationship. It starts with you.

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How to Say “I’m Sorry”

How to Say “I’m Sorry”

I’m not proud of it. I gave someone I didn’t know a difficult time, and I had to say “I’m sorry”

I was on call for a small hospital, and staying in a hotel nearby. Things went fine until the third morning. I rely heavily on a reliable internet connection wherever I am, but this particular morning I was unable to connect regardless of what I tried. My laptop, my smart phone, my tablet, my husband’s smart phone – the connection which had been just fine yesterday simply wasn’t working today.

I called the front desk and asked for assistance. I was told to take some steps to fix the problem. They didn’t work. The clerk came up to my room and tried to connect my smart phone to the internet using a process I knew wouldn’t work. My frustration was growing by the moment, and I became louder and ruder as time went on, letting her know how wrong the steps she suggested had been.

A short time later the front desk called again. The clerk had contacted IT support, and together they resolved the problem. I thanked her. The problem was on her end, not mine. I had been right all along!

And I had also been wrong.

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How to Bring God Into Your Marriage Bedroom

How to Bring God Into Your Marriage Bedroom

You bring God into your schedule, your checkbook, your media viewing habits, your parenting, your job. Or at least you try to. But how do you bring God into your marriage bedroom? And how do you do that?

Sex is a built-in need of human beings. Some use that truth to try and justify whatever sexual behavior they desire, or to aggressively force a spouse to engage in sex on demand. Others, especially those who have been harmed, sometimes brutally, by sexual acts or messages, think perhaps God made a mistake in creating us as sexual beings.

We get into trouble when sex and faith are kept apart. Spiritual leaders fall into adultery and scandal. Children who grew up hearing “Don’t do it” become sexually active the moment they are outside the boundaries of family or church. Marriages that may look good to the outside world are torn apart from the inside by pornography, domestic violence, disappointment, and more. Sex (or withholding it) becomes a weapon instead of the bond God intended it to be.

So what does it look like to bring faith and sex together? Specifically, how do you bring God into your marriage bedroom?

  1. Believe that God created sex. Physical intimacy between husband and wife was meant by God to be comforting, exhilarating, tender, exciting, bonding, and more. That foundation would then provide a healthy place to bring a child into: hence the connection between procreation and unity in godly sex. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” (Heb. 13:4) Sadly, how far we have fallen!
  2. Focus more on your spouse’s needs than your own. Sex is more about giving than receiving. And it is at its best when both partners work first to satisfy each other. This is, of course, the opposite of using sex as a weapon. That includes stretching yourself to be intimate at a frequency (either less or more) that your spouse needs. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4)
  3. Get your sexual needs met ONLY from your spouse. Sex is a two-way street. That’s why it’s so risky – and exhilarating. But the only legitimate place to get those needs met is from your spouse. “Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.” (Prov. 5:18)
  4. Respect each other’s physical needs and desires. The biggest turnoff to your spouse is likely a distant, demanding demeanor. No more condescending comments, avoiding your spouse, or using Scripture as a weapon to either demand or refuse sex. “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” (1 Cor. 7:3) The word “affection” here includes both emotional kindness and physical affection.
  5. Let God deal with all the other parts of your marriage. Fatigue, physical illness, stress, marital conflict, previous trauma – all these and more will impact your physical intimacy together. If God is a natural part of your life together in other ways, it will be easier to make Him part of your physical intimacy also. “But we all … are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18)
  6. Extend grace to each other. People make mistakes. You make mistakes. God has extended grace to you: it’s important to extend grace to your spouse. That doesn’t mean continuing to be harmed if abuse is ongoing, but it does mean learning to forgive each other when you need to. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col 3:13, NIV)
  7. Have a 3-part conversation about sexual intimacy. Yes, that means you and your spouse pray about sex. Together, and individually. Loving well, including sexual love, can only fully happen when you invite and allow God’s love to flow through you. He will hold you together if you invite Him to. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mat 19:6)

Does this guarantee complete sexual fulfillment every time you desire it with your spouse?

No. But I can assure you that the only way to give yourself a chance of that kind of fulfillment is to have God as a regular partner in your bedroom.

The ONLY other partner.

Here’s to a growing, fulfilling intimacy between you and your spouse – and God!

Your Turn: Are there any other factors important in bringing God into your marriage bedroom? Leave a comment below.

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