A THING NOT TO FORGET

This July 4th it is good to not forget the words of Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations of America that my friend and chaplaincy director Ben Harris reminded me of. Tocqueville was a French diplomat and historian who was skeptical of America and the extremes of democracy. He lived from 1805 to 1859 and once toured America and then wrote Democracy in America.  His words are insightful for us today on why America is good and unique in our world.

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“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Tocqueville's words do not suggest that Americans are better than anyone else. But they do suggest that America was blessed because of the morals of her people. This was the result of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He was right and we need to pray that we would exhibit the gospel in our lives this 4th and remember and give thanks to God and pray for revival in America.

Pray especially for the special Decision America rally on August 12 at 7:30 P.M. when Franklin Graham will be speaking at Cheney Stadium.

God bless America

Pastor Mark  

SCRIPTURE, SEX, AND THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE

June is the month for weddings, as lovers say their vows. However, today marriages are struggling with America now leading in divorce rates as well as many who don't bother to even get marriage.

Regarding the sanctity of marriage, Scripture says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." (Hebrews 13:4). This text is saying marriage is a wonderful thing to be held in high moral esteem, the physical relationship is reserved for marriage alone and those who disregard this standard God will judge. This may seem to be out of touch with current trends. Yet, there are good reasons why God makes such a strong statement about guarding the purity of marriage. 

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The first reason is that premarital sex takes the focus off of the spiritual and places it on the physical thus preventing a solid foundation for a new family. The spiritual foundation with Christ central should be first since it is eternal while the physical is only temporal. In light of this it is no surprise that marriage problems later in life often are the result to ignoring this at the start. The answer is for the couple to begin again by building a proper spiritual foundation for marriage in Christ to rest on.

A second reason Scripture emphasizes the sanctity of marriage is because premarital sex destroys the ability to be totally objective when key decision of life are being made. In essence the couple is forfeiting their choice to make an unclouded decision based on fact because of the new element of feelings. In light of this it is very easy to miss the will of God.

Thirdly, premarital sex also takes the mystique out of the wedding night. Certainly, the consummation of the marriage was designed by God to be wonderful. The Bible describes the thoughts of a couple about to be wed as they anticipate their honeymoon in Song of Solomon 7:10-13.

A fourth motive to keep a relationship pure until marriage is that this shows the most love and respect for the other person. Couples often rationalize saying, "If you love me you will give yourself to me now." Actually, the person is saying, "I need my physical needs met now." It puts the emphasis on self rather than the other person. The Bible says, "It is God's will that you...should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins,.." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6b). 

A final purpose for waiting until marriage is that it helps prevent the spread of disease. No man-made device can prevent sexually transmitted disease as effective as abstinence. If both parties are committed to this there is little chance of ailments.

There is a need to renew and strengthen the sanctity of marriage as God meant it to be. For those who have failed and are reaping consequence, God is also willing to forgive the repentant and give them a new start (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). He simply asks us to turn to Christ to seek wisdom to deal with the problems from a divine perspective.  Remember God is gracious to give forgiveness and healing. 

 

WHY SO MANY SUICIDES?

The recent rash of high-profile suicides has been on my mind with suicide rates in all age groups in the country having risen nearly 30 percent since 1999 according to the Center for Disease Control. People like comedian Robin Williams, clothing designer Kate Spade, and chef Anthony Bourdain, all had reached the top of their game and were considered successful, talented and wealthy. But each suddenly ended their lives leaving family members and the world in shock.

Most of us have been touched by the suicide in some way. As a chaplain for the Sheriff's and Fire Departments for over thirty years I have seen more than my share. Many were ordinary people who had gotten in a tough spot in life with drugs, money or health issues, but, others had good jobs, were successful and well-educated. Ironically some were even "mental health" professionals. According to the magazine Psychology Today, doctors actually have a very high rate of suicide. Why?

Internationally known Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias tells of growing up in India where the pressure of academic success was everything. As a result at seventeen he tried to commit suicide by drinking a chemical cocktail. Fortunately, it caused him to vomit it back up and his life was saved. While recuperating in a hospital he was visited by a minister who read John 14:19 to him where Jesus said to Thomas the doubter, "Because I live, you shall live also." Ravi quickly realized Jesus was "the way the truth and the life" (v.6) and placed his faith in Christ for that life.  It radically changed him and set him on a course to proclaim the Gospel around the world for the last fifty years. 

The more our culture moves away from God and the foundations of Christian belief, the more suicide we will see because our focus is only horizontal and self. But man was made to have primarily a vertical focus because we were made in God's image. Scripture says, "To live is Christ." He is our creator and sustainer.  He made us for a reason beyond ourselves. He is the solid rock that stabilizes our emotions and state of mind. My favorite verse from God's Word says it well. "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock."  (Isaiah 26:3-4 cf. Philippians 4:6-8).  Simply put, man is made in God's image and will not be complete until he puts his faith in that rock.  Like a lighthouse on a rock our living Savior bring us through the storm. 

Hear Dr. Ravi Zacharias's testimony at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4H_2uSkSL8 .

- PASTOR MARK

 Winter storm at Point Robinson LIght, Vashon Island, WA.

Winter storm at Point Robinson LIght, Vashon Island, WA.

There is something new for men this Saturday. Our Men’s Discipleship ministry will meet (8-9:30) for free breakfast as we launch a new interactive Bible study in 1 Timothy. It is a short but powerful book focusing on mentoring men to be strong spiritual leaders. We’ll glean plenty from Paul instructions to young Timothy.  Bring your Bible and your sons too.

This Sunday is Fathers Day so bring dad's favorite breakfast finger food to share on the patio at the 9:15 hour for our Fathers Day Fellowship (Sunday School is cancelled). During the 10:30 worship time a number of families will be dedicating their children this special day.