“It’s hard to kiss a cactus!”
That’s exactly what he said to me. I was counseling a man who had been married more years than I had been alive at that time. How was I to counsel him? I needed to learn what a long marriage was and he had it. But he was a humble man. He was struggling in his marriage. His wife had a long term illness and he wanted to know what he could do to improve a marriage that had stood the test of time.
No, there was no danger of him leaving her. But her attitude toward him was deeply hurtful. He knew that the things she said were the result of her own physical pain and suffering and likely the powerful medications she had to take. But the words and attitudes were still very painful to him.
No, there was no question about his love for her. Decades had proven his and her love. Still, he felt wounded by the one he loved the most.
We talked for awhile, I gave what little advice I could and we prayed. Sometime later, though, he came to me again. Through some personal changes in his attitude there had been a dramatic change in their relationship. It was again easy to kiss the one he loved...no longer a cactus!
Marriage relationships can be very volatile no matter how many years we are married. It is amazing how little it takes to be hurt by the one that we have committed our lives to love and cherish. If the truth were known, there might be many spouses who are thinking the very words, “It’s hard to kiss a cactus.”
Sadly, not everyone goes for marital counseling.
You should know that there is no shame in going for help whether it is your marriage, your personal life, your struggle with God or any other need. We might call it counseling today but perhaps a more Biblical terminology would be “bearing one another’s burdens.”
I think that men in particular have to be careful in how they try to help their wives. That is especially true if you are a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible, a man who likes to just “fix things” — pretty much if you are a man you have to be careful. A man’s tendency can be to give a quick answer and assume that meets her every need. And christian men know the Bible is to be their source for true answers. If you combine too many of those things together, it can be a recipe for disaster in your relationship.
I can speak from experience on this one. All of those things I just mentioned are true of me. I’m a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible and I like to fix things - especially quick solution. So you can see that I am a candidate for failure in this. And I have failed many times.
I did learn (and am still learning) one powerful lesson many years ago. My wife was struggling, she was in tears. And, of course, I “knew” how to fix her need. So I immediately counseled her accurately and Biblically from the Scriptures. I just knew it would help her! Instead, God helped me learn an invaluable lesson.
For one thing, my wife knew every Scripture I could tell her. She knew all the counseling information. But there was something else she needed from me at that moment.
She looked at me through tears and said, “Sometimes, I just need a hug.”
The Word of God did not fail but I did. I failed to know her as I should. I failed to meet her need. At that moment she needed me, she needed silence, she needed a hug.
I was rebuked and even to this day I am reminded of how easy it is to have an answer that is not the answer for that moment.
I have no doubt that had I not learned that lesson (and still learning), it would have been of me, early in my marriage, who my wife would say “it’s hard to kiss a cactus”.
Don’t forget to be like Jesus: have compassion and weep and love and care. That is all the counseling that is needed for our spouse and children in many cases. It also allows you to share the powerful truths of Scripture with greater impact at a later time.
My advice: hug your spouse (and children) a lot. You will never regret it.
And if you need help, ask for it. Most people would be glad to be involved in your life and would not look down on you at all. We have trained people here at Grace that would love to connect & talk with you.
Besides, it’s painful to kiss a cactus.
- Pastor Wynne
Some people can’t help but routinely check their social media on their phone — it’s quite literally a habit that doesn’t take much thought. They hop on the phone to jot down a note or reply to a text and before they realize it, they’ve opened and scrolled Instagram for 20 minutes. It’s an impulse for some.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a person connecting on their social media channels, and this post is not a slam on people over-using or using social media. But the picture of that person’s impulsivity greatly exemplifies what a Christian’s life used to be like before Christ set us free.
At one point, we were actually slaves to our sin. It was our habit. Our old self’s desire for it coupled with temptation was a perfect recipe for impulsive, habitual sinning. It came naturally because it was our nature. Our fallen nature bound us to that lifestyle. Of course we chose to make those poor choices, but the idea here is that we could not change our behavior by sheer will. And we didn’t want to change, either.
Then Christ set us FREE.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. - Romans 6:6-7
If we have been set free from sin, why is it that some Christians still allow sin to rule over them? Note the distinction here; it is not “why do Christians still sin” — this is about a Christian allowing a habitual sin to grip their life. Here are some thoughts on why we, as believers, might allow sin to rule over us:
There are innumerable ways we can work on preventing each of these issues from creeping into our lives, but we can begin by recognizing them. Take an assessment of your spiritual life – are you controlled by sin? Do you habitually run to your old ways? Like the illustration at the beginning of this post, do you feel like you cannot control yourself? If so, consider reaching out to a friend for help. A friend that you trust and know will give you spiritual guidance & biblical truth. If you don’t know someone like that, come and talk to us! We will work side-by-side with you – because we are all on this journey of spiritual growth together. We will meet you where you are, and we will bring both grace and truth. We would love to hear from you.
And then, since it’s likely you did come across this article while browsing social media (no problem!), consider sharing this with your friends.
Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
When I look through the glass door of the apartment that we stay in I immediately see a wooded section. At first glance, it all looks nearly dead—no leaves on the trees and seemingly no life. However, if I look another direction going up the street from where we stay I see a startling difference. I see a number of trees that are completely blooming in white. And in other areas I see trees that are pink and some with a purple color. As you can tell I have no idea what they are. But they are in bloom and beautiful. I have seen daffodils and also the sprouting of tulips. They are all signs that change is coming.
The calendar has changed to March, and about a week from now we will change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time. And then on Tuesday March, 20 Spring will officially begin. Again, these are all signs of the coming the seasonal change. Most people look forward to the next season. As with the new year it brings a difference and in some way is a ray of hope.
Change is not always welcomed by some people. They love the routines. Sometimes even the season change means adjustments that they are unwilling to adapt to. However, we have nothing to do with the changing of the seasons. In fact, there is little that we can do about most of the things that change in our lives. We grow older, our children and grandchildren grow up, friends move away, our favorite (fill in the blank) wears out and on and on it goes.
I tend to lean more to the side of not wanting things to change. I like sameness. I like consistency. If I go to Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream, I will always order the same thing. Vickie, on the other hand, will try five new flavors and then get something she has never had. I do not mind the season changes but I like most other things to just be constant.
And there are benefits to having consistency. In fact, we can be glad that some things never change. We are glad that our distance from the Sun never changes. We are glad that chemical reactions are predictable and produce the same results all the time. We are especially glad that our God never changes. (Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.) His attributes are always the same. His promises are always fulfilled. His truth never changes. (Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.) The fact that He never changes instills confidence and hope and assurance in our hearts.
But... there are also benefits to the things that change. God ordained that the seasons change and it is purposeful. Likewise, God also wants us to change — often, we don’t even get a choice! We are to grow in Christlikeness. The entire process of sanctification is one of changing. We should be maturing in Christ year after year. We call it spiritual growth and it means exactly that— we are changing!
1 Corinthians 6:11 — And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
2 Corinthians 4:16 — So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Ephesians 4:22–24 — to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Philippians 1:6 — And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
The consistency of certain things can bring us great confidence. In many other areas, though, there is a great necessity for change. Let’s not confuse the two...however, I will still get Mint Chocolate Chip at Baskin Robbins!
May we all be more and more conformed to the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That means we will change!
I look forward to all that God will do in our lives on Sunday as we worship together and as part of the change process that we are all in to be more like Jesus.
One brief reminder from the message last Sunday that you might want to reflect on and remember. It was that statement by Paul Tripp: “I am not a grace graduate.”
Note: I encourage all our men to attend the Men’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday March 10 at 8:30am at the church. There will be a sign up sheet on Sunday so that we can prepare for you.
Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
Last week I mentioned an incident to you from a restaurant that reminded us to have a winsome spirit in relating to others. Today I want to reflect on another incident that impacted me and reminded me of something that all of us, in fact every human being desperately needs: HOPE!
A friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer last Fall. We are close friends of their children and have become close friends with them over the years. His name is Herb Glanzer and some of you have prayed for him over the last few months. He and his wife have walked with the Lord for many, many years. They know the faithfulness of God and their trust in God is strong. Through this trial they have shown a powerful testimony of faith.
To make a long story into a brief one is difficult. So I am going to emphasize a recent event that encouraged me with this topic of HOPE.
Herb has gone through the chemotherapy treatments at the world renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. At the end of his treatments, they made a video and a couple of pictures of something that happens to every person who goes through the program.
The text on the plaque reads:
For generations the ringing of bells has played a significant role in the history and culture of Mayo Clinic. From the carillon atop the Plummer Building to the bell at Mayowood, the Mayo family’s country home, the sound symbolizes our unique sense of community and dedication to the values of respect, compassion and healing—the sound of hope.
Ringing this bell signifies the completion of your course of treatment and shares the sound of hope with others on the journey.
We invite you to join this honored tradition.
This reminded me that as believers, we have the ultimate HOPE. It is found in Jesus Christ, the HOPE of the world. We are always grateful for the treatments available through doctors and in the medical field. But for Herb and his family, there is an even greater hope than those treatments. Jesus is our HOPE! And our hope in Him is not only our future eternal destiny. We will live forever in the presence of the Lord. Yet, there is HOPE in this life.
Day after day we wake up to new mercies (Lamentations 3:22–23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.). Night after night we pillow our heads with “His song” (Psalm 42:8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.). We even wake up because the LORD sustains us (Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me).
Yes, our HOPE is Christ—1 Peter 1:3–6
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials”
So, today is a day of HOPE for all of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior…night, day, morning and eternity—there is HOPE.
As you rejoice in this HOPE, make sure that you share it with others. They need it. You can be the sound of HOPE for them.
I read this article today and felt I should share it here. I do so with permission from the original authors. I hope it will help us all consider these vital questions.
Billy Graham, 1918-2018: Two Questions to Consider as You Hear the News
As in the case of Isaiah, recorded in Isaiah 6, the death of a leader can certainly be used by God to cause those of us still living to stop, breathe deeply and consider our own lives.
Billy Graham has died. He lived 99 years on this earth. While none of us may fully agree on every point regarding his ministry, there is little disagreement with the fact that he was an international public figure that caused millions of people to consider their relationship with God. He was used by God to be a royal ambassador for God to this world.
As we read the news stories and see his biography played out in media in the coming days, may God use this to cause us to consider two main questions in our lives regarding the Gospel.
1. Have I Accepted the Gospel for Myself:
Are You Ready to Die When Your Time Comes?
First, do you have a real and vital relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Have you repented of your sin, come to God for forgiveness based on the death, burial and resurrection Jesus? Have you called on the Lord Jesus Christ and invited him to come into your life and change you for eternity? If you have been considering starting a relationship with God and want to learn more, we invite you to click here to watch some short videos that will help you understand the Gospel better. Stay in touch if we can help.
For those who have a real and consistent relationship with God, may the death of Billy Graham be used to inspire us to consider our personal responsibility to share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. The news articles talk about how Billy Graham used all the new technology of the 20th century to spread God’s word. What are we doing with the powerful free tools of social media? How can we personally spread the Gospel more effectively and be a royal ambassador for Christ?
2. As a Christian, How Are You Doing With Your Responsibility As an Ambassador for Jesus and His Gospel Message?
How often do you think of yourself as a representative of King Jesus? How much of your life is spent on the mission that he has given to you?
Throughout the Bible we see many powerful metaphors to help us understand what it means to be the a Christian, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. One of the best and most unsung metaphors is that the church (We are talking about the whole saved family of God here.) is the embassy of Christ and we, like Billy Graham are royal ambassadors.
Consider, an embassy is:
Where is this concept found in the Bible? In Philippians and Ephesians, Paul refers to himself as a “citizen” of heaven and an ambassador for Christ. And perhaps most clearly, in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reminds the church that they too are ambassadors and that God is “making his appeal” to the world through the church.
God has called Christians to be his ambassadors, his authorized representatives; and he has called local churches to be embassies; groups of ambassadors that all have the same objective. Churches ought to be little localized outposts of the kingdom of God. Churches are supposed to look like, act like, and function in the same way that the kingdom of God does. Christians, as ambassadors, are likewise called to live the same kind of lives that we will when our citizenship in the future kingdom becomes complete. So, what exactly does that mean for us to be an ambassador of Christ and his Gospel?
Who and what do we represent? Where is our “homeland”? How long are we on this mission? How are we supposed to go about it?
1. We represent a King and a kingdom
As Christians, we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ and his kingdom. We should look different, act different, speak different, and live different than the culture in which we live. We should be representing Christ’s character, his love, his commands, and his purposes to the world around us. We have been sent to the foreign land of this world in order to represent our King and our kingdom’s interests. The problem is that most of us look just like everyone else. We spend our money the same way, we dress the same way, we talk the same way. But that isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Just like you can tell when someone isn’t a native to where you live, the world should be able to look at Christians and say, “That person clearly isn’t from here. Where are they from?” Would people say that of you?
2. We have the King’s authority
Jesus sent his disciples out with his own power and authority in Luke 9. He has given the church the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16) and told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against us and that it is through us that the “manifold wisdom of God” becomes known (Ephesians 2). He has gifted us with his Spirit so that we might possess his power and authority. He has not sent us out on this mission empty handed, for he has given us his very own authority.
3. We have the King’s protection
We have been granted asylum as refugees. We fled from our former lives of slavery to sin and to the kingdom of God where we were granted access because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on the cross. We have been given protection through our citizenship. Though we may be afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, we will never be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, destroyed, or totally overcome. As citizens of heaven, no matter what happens in this life, we have been given the promise that God is with us and our citizenship is secure.
4. We are on temporary assignment
Like Billy Graham, we are resident representatives, but only for a while. This foreign land is not our home, for our true homeland is the city that God is preparing for us while we are away on the mission. We are always waiting and longing for the return of our King and our entry into the completed kingdom of God. Because this is true, we shouldn’t get too comfortable in this life because we won’t be here for long. If you were going on vacation, you would pack light. In the same way, we should “pack light” in this life and instead store up for ourselves treasure in heaven. This treasure is accumulated through obedience to Christ’s mission and message.
5. We are not to isolate from culture
While the people of Israel were in Babylonian captivity, they were not called to isolate from culture but to seek the good of their neighbors and captors. Though we are called to represent Christ’s kingdom and interests in this world, that does not mean that we are to totally isolate from culture. We cannot possibly be successful ambassadors for Christ if we are not involved in, familiar with, and connected to the culture around us. We should understand, contribute to, and strive to better the culture while we are here in this land. We have a different King, a different mission, a different drive in life – but in order to represent our King and his kingdom, we must be a visible part of our culture. We are living in the culture, but not of the culture. We should not allow the evil culture of the world to live in us as God’s ambassadors.
6. We have the King’s mission and message
In Matthew 28 and Mark 16 Jesus commissioned his disciples and believers everywhere of all time for a specific task – to go, baptize, teach, and declare the message of reconciliation to the world. Our mission is to declare the gospel message to the foreign land around us so that they too might become citizens of the kingdom. God has entrusted to us, as stewards, the treasure of the gospel that we are to share with the world. We are to be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, drawing people toward Christ.
So, as you watch the news and consider Billy Graham’s life, perhaps you will ponder your own short time on this earth. Do you have a real relationship with God yourself? Where will you go when your death day comes? If you do have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, what does it mean to you to be an ambassador for Christ? How often do you embrace your role as an ambassador? Do you think you and your church do a good job of representing Christ and his kingdom to the world?
Authors wish to remain anonymous - Used with permission
Here is more from our church you may find helpful...
Peter gave inspired instruction to the early believers as he wrote to them in I Peter. The persecution they were facing would later give way to even greater persecution. One of Peter’s burdens was to make sure that the believers were steadfast in their faith. An essential ingredient of that was the love that he spoke of in 1 Peter 1:22: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” Christians should give heavy weight to his God-breathed instruction regarding this brotherly love and unity in the body.
This past week at Grace, we reviewed five unity-crushing sins which should be put away by all Christians seeking to grow in brotherly love.
Malice is usually the driver of spiteful behavior. It is the difference between unintentional versus deliberate wounding of another and therefore can be the greatest catalyst for disunity in the church. Malice is often the result of harbored, unresolved bitterness.
Mature believers strive to deal with conflict and hurt before it leads to bitterness. Sometimes, “innocent” statements can impact others in ways not intended; humility is required in order to genuinely resolve these conflicts. Ask yourself:
“Have I done or said anything that was meant to take another believer down?”
“Have I been deeply wounded by someone and need to resolve it with them?”
On the other hand, church members ought to recall that love is not easily provoked. A member should not flippantly take offense and should not actively seek ways to hold church unity hostage due to hyper-sensitivity.
Deceit exists in many forms, but all of them are in some way a misrepresentation of the truth. Why is deceit so harmful to church unity? Wouldn’t some even say that deceit can, at times, protect unity?
Not when the root of deceit is exposed. Even in its most innocent of forms, deceit is motivated by selfishness and a lack of trust in the other person. Deceit says: “you’re not able to handle the truth the way I want you to handle it.” Deceit in this context communicates a person’s need to be in control.
Church unity thrives on mutual trust that each person can have the same potential for the Holy Spirit to be working in them. Mature Christians do not trade truthfulness to protect self interests. The outcome of that exchange is a loss of unity.
Hypocrisy is incompatible with unity because it places a person in a self-assigned, superior class. It allows a person to apply different judgment on others than they apply to themselves. It hides a person’s sins under a guise of self-righteousness. How can a church have unity if it’s members are ducking behind self-righteousness while throwing stones at those willing to be transparent? Growth is crippled in that church because the members quickly begin to obsessively cover their faults rather than deal with them.
An envious heart is a heart which has lost it’s focus on the goodness of God. It has fooled a person into thinking that God wants something less for them than the best. How can a church have unity among it’s members if they have hostile, discontent attitudes towards each other?
Believers should focus on the innumerable gifts God has given rather than obsessing over what has been given to another.
Slanderous talk comes from an unloving, selfish heart. It would trade unity for fleeting self-promotion and it costs more than most participants realize. Gossip causes damage by discussing with another what one perceives to be truthful information, but the damage of slander goes so much farther by assaulting another’s character with deliberately false statements.
Do Christians really engage in such behavior towards each other? Sadly, yes. Peter wouldn’t ask the church to put this conduct away if it weren’t possible they might engage in it. Get rid of slanderous talk. Don’t participate in it if you want to have unity in your assembly.
Putting off these behaviors requires supernatural intervention. Because we still have our flesh, we are capable of committing any of these sins. However the admonition from Peter is that each of these sins be completely removed from our lives. We have to admit that these are a constant temptation in one way or another so there is always the need for us to put any of this behavior out of our lives. How often? As often as it happens! Don’t forget the quote from Paul Tripp and David Lane who said, “When you fail, keep Jesus and his work in view. Run to your Lord, not away from him. Receive his forgiveness, get back up, and follow him once more, knowing that each time you fail, you can experience your identity as one for whom Christ died. Each failure reminds us of why he had to die; each confession reminds us of the forgiveness that only the Cross could provide.”
The good news is that there can be unity and love among believers. We desperately need it because the enemy is not one another—the real enemy is Satan who wants us to bite and devour ourselves. Do not fall into Satan’s trap in any of these areas that create disunity.
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.