Numbers 6 – Do You Vow?

Numbers chapter 6 talks about a Nazarite vow. This is a vow in which a person separates themselves to God by separating themselves from certain things like: drinking wine or strong drink, having their hair cut, and being near a dead body…even if it’s a family member.

A Nazarite vow?! Who would do that, and what’s that got to do with me?

Not only is the ritual of a Nazarite vow foreign to us, the concept of a Nazarite vow is antithetical to the culture in which we live.

The idea of devotion through denial is not appealing to us. We are much more familiar with devotion through indulgence. Even in the Christian life, it’s so easy to assume that being devoted to Christ is about getting all of His goodness and resources we can get.

We have lost the idea that being devoted to Christ also involves denying ourselves…whether that denial is related to the pleasures of life we think we need, or the rights of life we think we deserve.

Even as I type this, my flesh cries out in opposition to denying myself pleasures or rights. But maybe that resistance itself highlights the importance of self-denial.

You can only be devoted to one thing at a time. (Matthew 6:24) At times, devotion to Christ requires denial of self, just as Jesus’ devotion to His Father required His own denial of self. (Matt. 4:1-11) (Phil. 2:6-8)

Perhaps we all need our own little Nazarite vow once in a while. Where is it you need to practice self-denial to better follow Christ?

How To Be A Better Person

If you want to know how to be a better spouse and have a better marriage, it starts with learning how to be a better person.

Right now, my spouse is probably laughing her head off at the idea that I can tell you how to be a better person. She would be the first to tell you I have a long way to go in that department. And the idea that I could give you all the answers you need on how to be a better person in one short blog post is pretty laughable also.

But I can give you the basic building block for how to be a better person. Then, you can take those basic building blocks and build on them in a way that best suits you, your situation, and your need.

Here are the basic building block for how to be a better person:

Read moreHow To Be A Better Person

A Seemingly Absent and Questionable God.

For some, their sexual abuse becomes their reason for rejecting the idea of a loving and powerful God. But for those victims who continue to believe in a God who is all-seeing, all-loving and all-powerful, the experience of sexual abuse raises some deep and difficult questions. Questions like:

  • Where was God when I was being abused?
  • Why didn’t God intervene and stop the abuse?
  • What kind of God would let this happen?
  • Does God even care?

At the outset, let me say I don’t have the answers to these questions. I don’t know why God didn’t intervene and prevent your abuse. As a minister, I still wrestle with such questions each time I work with a sexual abuse survivor.

It is beyond the scope of this post to decipher these deep theological questions, and even if I had the “right” answers, those answers would not feel sufficient, because they wouldn’t change your history or your hurt. These questions about God reveal a heart looking for solace more than a head looking for answers.

What I do know is that for some reason, God gives people (including you) the freedom to make decisions and act in ways that can be hurtful to themselves and others.

It doesn’t seem right that God would give an abuser the freedom to choose to abuse someone else. It feels Like God should have taken away the abuser’s  freedom and forced them to do what was right.

But, would you want God to take away your freedom and force you to do what you should do? If your old protective behaviors are hurting others emotionally, do you want God to force you to do what you should do? Victims often believe that God should have taken from their abuser the very thing they would never want taken from themselves – the freedom to choose what they’re going to do…even if it’s not the best for them or others.

I don’t know why God allows people the freedom to hurt and abuse others, but I know that God promises to be with us in the hurt and to give us the ability to reshape it into something better. That may seem a day late and a dollar short, but think about it. Any old run-of-the-mill god should be able to snap their fingers and make all the bad things go away. This requires no commitment and no relationship. It just requires a flex of muscle. But a God who is so committed to us that He comes to us in the midst of our hurt, walks with us through the tragedy of our life, and then brings us to a better place in spite of our hurt…this is a God who is worth our attention and trust.

You may not believe this or even like this line of reasoning, but that is the message of the incarnation of Jesus. A God who could have flexed his muscles and made everything the way he wanted it (like an abuser), instead comes to a broken world, is mistreated and broken right along with the rest of us, and in that brokenness offers us hope. He does this, not by waving his hand and making the situation better, but by walking with us in the midst of the brokenness and making us better.

What Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 6: The Action

(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)

If you’ve been following this series from the beginning, you already know about many of the parts of a good marriage story. You know about the author, the characters, the obstacles, and the guide.

But just having the parts of a good marriage story does not magically make the story, anymore than having the ingredients for a good cake magically makes the cake. You have to do something with those parts. You must take action and make the most of what you have if you’re going to make a great marriage story. 

Read moreWhat Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 6: The Action

What Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 5: The Guide

(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)

In this series, we’re looking at your marriage as if it were a story, and hopefully a good story that you and others want to read. We’ve been talking about certain elements that every marriage needs in order to tell a good story. A good marriage story starts with a good author, and two main characters . Then, like any good story, those characters encounter obstacles and struggles that get in the way of what they want.

That leads us to the next element of a good marriage story.  

Read moreWhat Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 5: The Guide

What Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 2: The Author

(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)

What story title would best describes the story of your marriage? Would it be Gone With the Wind? Love Story? The Big ChillAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Maybe you can think of another story title that would best describe your marriage.

Read moreWhat Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 2: The Author