Thought on Marriage from a Newly-Wed

I spoke recently for the first time ever at a wedding and it got me thinking about marriage. I add a disclaimer that I’m no expert on marriage. I’m in fact a beginner, having been married only for a short three years, hence the title of this blog post.

The most commonly referred-to passage in the Bible on marriage must be Ephesians 5. Here, Paul established an incredibly high standard for both husbands and wives.

The men love it whenever Ephesians 5:22 is read in church, ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.’ Ephesians 5:25 then continues, ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her’ and we cower at that command. A husband is required to love his wife and deny himself for her. How hard it is to put that into practice daily!

Marriage can be viewed through idealistic or fatalistic lenses. The idealist sees marriage as a means to fulfil fantasies, needs, personal satisfaction, and happiness. The fatalist doesn’t believe in marriage due to failures seen and the resulting fear. Both perspectives are self-centred.

The assumption is that, if we choose the right person, our marriage will be happy and healthy. While choosing our spouse is a momentous decision, we never fully know the person we say our vows to on our wedding day – we just think we do.

Moreover, marriage is such a major transition in our lives that we almost always change after entering it, for better or worse. Some of us realise to our horror of horrors that the person we thought we knew before marriage is not the same person now.

It’s not that we’ve made the wrong choice. Rather, we’ve to learn how to love and care for the person that we don’t fully know to whom we find ourselves married.

Very few things in life expose our sense of ineptitude than marriage. We’re naturally inclined to shrink back, given our sense of inadequacy. But what if Ephesians 5 was written because the finished work of the Cross enables us to be empowered by grace, filled with the Spirit, and thus attain God’s heart for our marriage?

Power freely given us through Christ at the new birth is the same power that helps attain a healthy, joyful marriage. Emotions alone can’t help us respond to God’s vision for marriage in confidence. We need an understanding of the finished work of the Cross.

God’s grace empowers us to do what seems impossible. Faith understands that, with God, ‘All things are possible’. We can receive the grace of God and say a confident “yes” to God’s heart for marriages, rather than shrinking back in fear and unbelief.

The higher the Biblical standard, the more confident we can be that the Lord will empower us to reach it. The Spirit of God does not command us without helping us to live it out.

Nothing forces us to repent more deeply and profoundly than the realisation that we’re hurting the one we love the most. More than delivering us out of our former state into a new relationship with God, the Gospel has the power to change our mindsets, emotions, and desires in a powerful way that enables us to love differently and deeply. The Gospel is far more powerful than we realise.

The marital exhortation in Ephesians 5 starts in verse 1 and not 5:22.
Ephesians 5:1 – be imitators of God
Ephesians 5:3-7 – not partaking in sin
Ephesians 5:8-14 – walk as children of light
Ephesians 5:15-16 – walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise

These instructions are not specific to marriage, but are essential for every aspect of life. Ephesians 5:17-21 show four practices essential to healthy relationships:

1. Ephesians 5:18 – ‘And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit’.
We know that drunkenness has torn marriages apart. We’re told to avoid indulging in what cannot satisfy, but be filled with God’s Spirit.

2. Ephesians 5:19 – ‘Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’.
Scripture’s truths are to invade and permeate our conversations. The atmosphere of worship moves and tenderises our hearts. It’s harder to be impatient with our spouse and children when our hearts are moved by the presence of God in worship.

3. Ephesians 5:20 – ‘Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
The love of Jesus, the riches of His grace and mercy bring us to a place of constant gratitude, rather than entitlement and sense of what we ‘deserve’.

4. Ephesians 5:21 – ‘Submitting to one another in the fear of God’.
When we understand how extravagantly Jesus loves and values others around us, we consider them ‘better than ourselves’ in humility.

I’m so glad that we can yield to the finished work of our Lord Jesus on the Cross, the grace of God and the work of Christlikeness in our lives in our journey to become better spouses and parents.


Pastor Sng Peh Han

 

The Strange Tale of Kepa Arrizabalaga

In the 2019 English League Cup Final game between Chelsea and Manchester City, fans were treated to a spectacular sight of bizarre behaviour by an elite footballer.

Chelsea’s goalkeeper, who goes by the name Kepa, had just been treated for cramps and, with the clock winding down to the end of extra time and the penalty shoot-out looming, Chelsea’s manager signalled for a tactical substitution. The reserve keeper, Willy Cabellaro, with a better penalty record, was coming on for Kepa.

But, instead of following orders, Kepa refused to come off the field, waving his index finger furiously in the air and repeatedly shouting “NO!” defiantly at the bench. It was comically astonishing for the millions who were watching. The referee couldn’t get Kepa off the field, and Chelsea’s team captain and teammates could read more…

The Blessing Is In The Seed

My 8-year-old son loves watermelon. But there’s one problem – he likes it without seeds.

We normally eat watermelons with seeds intact, mostly for convenience, given the extra work to remove the tiny seeds. He reasoned that “No one eats the seeds. It’s not meant to be eaten.” On hindsight, there’s some spiritual truth in his words.

This precious truth is found in the first book of the Bible, in the very first chapter of Genesis, also known as the ‘Book of Beginnings’.

In Genesis 1:11-12 (NKJV), we read, ‘Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. …and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.’

This phrase was mentioned twice in these two read more…

Stop Making Useless Vows

In the 18th Century, James Boswell, a well-known Scottish author, said, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s really intense if you think about it, but there’s some truth to it. Actions must be taken and followed through for intentions to become a reality.

Boswell’s quote is a summary of human nature not to follow through on what’s right. In fact, James tells us this is sin. ‘Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.’ James 4:17

I recently met up with a man who’s been visiting Cornerstone for about a year. He told me that God had told him at the beginning of the year that he should be rooted in a community. During the closing prayer, he told himself and the Lord that he’d start attending read more…

A Battery of Tests

”I got an A, Dad!” Few things bring a broader smile to a parent than this announcement following late nights and cram sessions at the close of a semester.

For our kids who have been through the Singapore school system, it seems you’ve hardly taken a bow for one job well done and the pressure is already building for the next jarring series of exams.

Maybe God helped to write the curriculum! If your walk with Him has been anything like mine, you’ve noticed you’re either just breathing a sigh over one completed test or you’re staring down the barrel of the next.

You also might think you’ve been sitting for your present exam much too long. You look around: the room cleared out long ago, the air-conditioning has been shut off, and you’re left sitting read more…

Man Enough For Fatherhood

Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

Pastor Larry Stockstill, Senior Pastor of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge for 30 years, said, “Fathering is not just a role, it’s a foundation.”

This weekend, we celebrate Father’s Day and fatherhood. A day to honour and commemorate our fathers, to inspire fatherhood and maximise the blessings that fatherhood brings.

In my lifetime, I’ve had close encounters with four fathers – my paternal grandfather, my own father, the father of my children, and the father of my beautiful granddaughter. There’s nothing easy about being a father and we want to recognise the influence fathers have in our homes and society, and to foster paternal bonds.

My father lost his mother at a young read more…

The Good Shepherd

In Genesis 48:11-16, Jacob, in his great deathbed blessing, alluded to God as his Shepherd, the first mention in the Bible of God being a Shepherd.

What a way to describe Yahweh. Jacob was a professional shepherd who understood that concept very well. Now, he looks back on his whole life and confesses that the Lord had been his Shepherd all the while.

How interesting, as Jacob had a tough life and suffered much – mostly due to his own decisions. There was so much striving as he always looked to forge his own path, going against what the Lord had ordained.

All those years of feeling the pain of rejection by his father Isaac (who loved Esau more); the constant fear of having to flee from his own brother; being deceived by Laban; losing Rachel, the love of his read more…

The Seed of Greatness (Part 2)

Relentless striving for greatness often drives people to whatever it takes to fulfill their goals. Many misinterpret their capacity for greatness to mean worldly achievements. 20 years later, we may be at the peak of our careers, with houses, cars, and luxury travel but, to be brutally honest, it only leaves us empty and disappointed.

How does God feel about this? He created us, planting the seed of greatness deep within, only to watch us pursue a wrong fulfillment. He longs for us to position our hearts rightly and draw satisfaction from Him with a more excellent plan to nurture and attain the greatness in us.

60 years after Jesus ascended to His Father, He spoke to the seven Asia Minor churches through Apostle John. To the Laodicean Church, Jesus gave a great promise – “To read more…

Comfort My People

When the Government recently tightened restrictions under Phase 2, I heard many lamenting “NOT AGAIN!”. When I heard of Israel being attacked, when I received news of a friend’s cancer relapse, when someone I knew fell into an old habitual sin… I couldn’t help but moan “NOT AGAIN” with a sigh. 

While I was complaining and praying, I felt the Lord’s comfort and was reminded of Isaiah 40:1 – ‘“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God.’

In that account, we see the beginnings of Isaiah’s message to those in the future who would experience the Exile. I think it’s hard for us to fully appreciate what a dreadful shock that was.

God had made all those wonderful promises to His people of them becoming a great nation – that they were going to be kings, that everything was going read more…

Sitting on Papa’s Lap

Many years ago, while meditating on the Book of Jeremiah, what I read touched me so deeply I prayed each day for about a week, “Lord, make me Jeremiah”. At the end of the week, I was invited to a luncheon hosted by Transworld Radio, the largest Christian radio ministry in the world.

The global CEO, a Welshman, was newly installed and was going to address the luncheon and everyone seemed eager to hear him. He was introduced, got up to the rostrum, and looked at the audience for about 30 seconds without speaking. Then he spoke and his first sentence was, “Who in this room wants to be Jeremiah?”
 
Of all the prophets in the Bible, I must say Jeremiah is my favourite. In Matthew 16, when Jesus popped the question to His disciples and asked read more…

Contending

‘The children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem and took it.’ Joshua 19:47

My natural disposition is of one who avoids conflict. When our family took a personality profile test together and the result showed that I was a ‘Peacemaker’, my kids all echoed, “That’s you, Dad!”

This does not give me an excuse to be passive or refuse to take up a matter that requires attention any more than being poor is an excuse for stealing. I cannot negotiate or rationalise away my responsibilities because they’re inconvenient or intimidating. Sometimes, we just have to ‘take up the sword, and fight’.

When Joshua led the Children of Israel across the River Jordan, each tribe was given an allotted inheritance for which they’d need to confront corrupt and entrenched native inhabitants.

Only by displacing these nations could God establish read more…

Timeless Wisdom of Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day to all mums as we celebrate ourselves and one another! This is life, to rejoice and find reason to give thanks in all things. Another day will break forth while we yet have a day to live, to make adjustments, and change where we need to.

There’s nothing like learning from history, gleaning the timeless wisdom of the mothers who made a difference from a collection of 66 books and letters called the ‘Bible’, spanning over 4,000 years.

Like today, those mothers grappled with many similar issues and their stories are teaching points in our journey. While we navigate our personal journey, their lives create a rich tapestry of faith for successive generations. The Holy Spirit desires to lead our steps as He directed theirs so that we’re perfected in God’s love.

Perhaps the most popular verses read more…

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