Is Looking At Porn Cheating?

Today,  please welcome guest post writer from Through the Fire, Lisa Hall-Wilson, as she shares her journey and thoughts about porn and its effects on marriage.

Is looking at porn cheating? You know I’ve got a few opinions on this because this question inevitably leads to – Is it OK to divorce him/her because of the porn? That’s a much bigger question.

I recently interviewed Canada’s Christian Sex Lady – Sheila Wray-Gregoire for an upcoming article. We got chatting briefly about porn and porn addiction. If you’ve been reading Through The Fire for a while, you know about my husband’s multi-year addiction to porn.

I thought there would be value in sharing my journey and thought-process of having lived through it.

Is looking at porn cheating

Is looking at porn really cheating?

I’m not an expert on sex – don’t claim to be. I’m not a biblical scholar either. But I’ve lived this. My husband didn’t go out and find a prostitute, he didn’t commit adultery in the physical sense. The Bible says, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) NASB

Harsh, right.

The Bible calls it adultery, but society doesn’t. Society says looking at porn, assuming those involved in the production of it are consenting adults, is harmless. (I take issue with the ‘harmless’ label: From Men’s Health: “In a Utah State University study, for example, more than half of male users said looking at porn led to problematic outcomes—social, spiritual, psychological, or relational. These negative effects weren’t linked to viewing time—the men who watched porn frequently were just as likely to report problems as those who watched it less often.”)

But let me tell you this, as the spouse, it FEELS like cheating. He chose photo-shopped images and FICTION over me. He poured out his desire on them instead of me. He had no interest in me. The cycle of shame and guilt he lived with caused him to be explosively angry, verbally abusive at times, and distant. Now, I know that his addiction had nothing to do with me. His choice to turn to porn wasn’t because of my lack. Understanding the why of it lessens the sting, but at the end of the day you’re still facing the reality that there’s no trust or respect left for him.

So, if the Bible says it’s cheating, and qualified psychologists acknowledge that to the affected spouse it feels like cheating…

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

As someone who lived through this, I considered it cheating. Would it have been worse if he’d physically gone out and committed adultery? I don’t know. In my case there wasn’t ‘the other woman’ instead I faced ‘hundreds of other women’ embedded in his memory and within easy access – though I never feared any of them would call, show up on the doorstep, or take him in if I kicked him out. Hope I never have to find out. But where does that first question inevitably lead spouses?

If viewing porn is cheating, does that make it grounds for divorce?

This was a question I wrestled with. I mean blood, sweat, tears, guts-on-the-floor wrestled with. The New Testament gives a couple of instances where divorce is allowable: abandonment, adultery, and many tack on abuse of any stripe. Death is the only instance the Bible states is cause for remarriage. (I only bring this up because it factored into my own thinking – this is not a comment on anyone’s decision.)

I felt I had biblical grounds for divorce if I wanted that, but I had to abandon any thought of remarrying. (I realize that not everyone would agree with my thinking, but this is where my conscience led me.)

Was I willing to spend the rest of my life (I was in my early 30′s at the time) alone, or could I maybe work this out? Ummm….. Being alone forever sounded pretty good. I was done with men and with relationships in general. But forever is a loooong time.

The story of Jesus saving the adulteress from stoning came to mind. The Bible gives us these words: “He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) NASB

Could I honestly say I had NEVER entertained a lustful thought about a man who wasn’t my husband? But I’ve never looked at porn – assuming malicious pop-ups don’t count.That’s not the question. Have I ever entertained a lustful thought about another man? Yes, I’m guilty of that. Didn’t that also make me guilty of adultery in the biblical sense?Ummm…..

The other story that came to mind was the story of a king who was owed a large sum of money but he forgave the debt. The forgiven debtor then went to a man who owed him a much smaller sum. The forgiven debtor threw the second man in prison when he couldn’t pay. When the king learned of this he said, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’” (Matthew 18: 32-33) NASB

The first man had been forgiven of a much bigger debt than the second man, but forgiveness is what was expected from both who held the debt regardless of the amount. How much had God forgiven me of? A LOT. ….Oooh (There are perhaps better examples of this principle, but this is the one that came to mind.)

If I could forgive my husband of this hurt, (and again, my conscience warned me that God would require this of me regardless) would I be willing to still be married to him?

Suddenly my self-righteousness lost its luster, the glitter flaked off, and I was left with the naked truth. When held to the biblical standard, was I any better than him? That didn’t diminish my hurt, or the work he had to do to make it right – not what I’m saying. But when we’re judged by the same stick, did I still have a case? Yes…and no.

That’s the journey my thoughts took which helped me decide to stay and not seek divorce. It was a lot of work to rebuild our relationship. Not a single bit of it was easy. That road was paved with hurt and tears and many sleepless nights. On the other side of it we’ve now got a history together that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

My decision seemed rather black and white because my husband was truly repentant. He earnestly sought professional help, he did the hard work of breaking the addiction and has stayed free of it. If that hadn’t been the case, the other evidence that influenced my decision still remained true, but it would have made my decision a lot more difficult.

It was my conscience, not my heart, that convinced me to stay. My conscience, and my desire to be obedient to the principles and moral code set out in the Bible as I understood them. Not everyone will agree with the path I chose to arrive at my decision, not everyone will make the same decision I did. And that’s OK.

Lisa_hall_wilson FB profileLisa Hall-Wilson has published over 70 articles in the Canadian faith-based market, is a syndicated columnist, and has won national awards for her writing. She blogs at www.lisahallwilson.com but you can find her hanging out on Facebook.



50 Most Important Bible Verses to Memorize

50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize
Usually I write about marriage, but I took a detour recently to compile a list of my 50 favourite Bible verses. After all, if we want our relationships to go well, we need God at the center of them. So let’s learn more of God’s Word!

I’ve put together this list of the 50 Bible verses I think are wonderful to memorize. Of course, these aren’t the ONLY great verses in the Bible, and you may have your own favorites that aren’t here. That’s fine! But I thought it was important to start somewhere, and so I put this list together.

I know many families want to memorize verses together, but they don’t know where to start. Here you go. One a week for a year. Even if this is all you ever memorize, you will have God’s word in your heart for most of the key verses in the Bible. I’m going to type the list with the verses first, and then at the end include a list of just the references, if you want those to just copy and paste.

Why not make little memory verse cards out of 3×5 cards, and keep them at the dinner table? Then every night you can go over this week’s verse. By the end of the year, you’ll have all of these memorized! (I even have these available as printables now to make it easier for you! Find out more here.)

I chose these because they’re a cross-section of doctrine, promises, and comfort. You may want to add others, or to substitute. Feel free. Consider this a starting point, not anything definitive. I hope you you find it useful! All verses here are from the NIV.

List of 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize

God

Genesis 1:1 Wall Decal

Genesis 1:1 Wall Decal

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 40:28
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Salvation

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Ephesians 2:8,9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Wall Decal--$25.00

2 Corinthians 5:17 Wall Decal–$25.00

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Assurance

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart ,and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Is this your favorite verse? Here are some ways to use it to decorate your home!

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

My Grace is Sufficient for You Wall Decal--$28

My Grace is Sufficient for You Wall Decal–$28

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Christian Life

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Psalm 37:4,5
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this.

Proverbs 3:5,6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Luke 16:13
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

1 John 4:7,8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Galatians 5:22 Fruit of the Spirit Wall Decal--$36

Galatians 5:22 Fruit of the Spirit Wall Decal–$36

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Philippians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Confession/Temptation

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.

Mission

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

This Little Light of Mine Wall Decal--$25

This Little Light of Mine Wall Decal–$25

Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


50 Bible Verses to Memorize Printables

50 Bible Verses to Memorize Cards

If you want to memorize these verses, the easiest way to do it is with cards of your own!

  • Buy the downloadable version, all formatted for you, so that you don’t have to fiddle around. Just print, cut, and you’ve got them! Available in NKJV and ESV.
  • Buy them already printed and cut, and have them mailed to you.

Available in the NKJV and ESV (with more versions coming soon!). (All proceeds go towards our 2014 medical missions trip). Here’s the Downloadable Version (Choose NKJV or ESV) ($1.99), or the Physical Cards in either NKJV or ESV (starting at $7.50 for one set, but the price goes drastically down if you buy more than 1!)


Bigger challenges:

If you want to memorize whole chapters, here are my top 5:

Isaiah 53
Psalm 23
1 Corinthians 13
John 15
Psalm 139

These chapters are all important; I have left them out of the top 50 verses because I couldn’t choose just one or two verses from any of them. The whole thing is great. So if you’re up for a family challenge, memorize a chapter.

Look at it this way: if you spend one year memorizing the fifty verses, and the next year reviewing those fifty and memorizing a chapter, and then go back to those fifty verses again to make sure you have them down, and then the next year go back and do a different chapter, and so on, over the course of ten years you’ll have 50 verses and 5 chapters so committed to memory there is no way anyone could ever forget it.

And I think knowing fewer verses, but knowing them inside and out, is sometimes more beneficial in the long run than trying to make yourself learn a verse a day or something.

So print this out and use it with your family!

Now, here are just the references if you want to copy and paste:

1. Isaiah 9:6
2. Isaiah 40:28
3. Genesis 1:1
4. John 3:16-17
5. Romans 3:23
6. Romans 6:23
7. Revelation 3:20
8. John 14:6
9. Ephesians 2:8,9
10. 2 Corinthians 5:17
11. Romans 8:28
12. Isaiah 40:30-31
13. Romans 8:38-39
14. Matthew 11:28-30
15. Psalm 27:1
16. Jeremiah 29:11
17. Hebrews 13:8
18. 2 Peter 3:9
19. Lamentations 3:22-23
20. 2 Corinthians 12:9
21. 2 Corinthians 4:18
22. Psalm 37:4,5
23. Proverbs 3:5,7
24. Philippians 4:13
25. Galatians 2:20
26. James 1:22
27. Colossians 3:23
28. 1 Corinthians 15:58
29. James 4:7
30. Luke 16:13
31. 1 John 4:7,8
32. Galatians 5:22-23
33. Hebrews 12:1-2
34. Acts 1:8
35. Romans 12:1-2
36. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
37. Psalm 19:14
38. Philippians 4:6,7
39. 2 Timothy 3:16
40. Psalm 119:105
41. Psalm 119:11
42. Hebrews 4:16
43. 1 John 1:9
44. James 5:16
45. 1 Corinthians 10:13
46. Micah 6:8
47. Matthew 25:40
48. Matthew 28:19-20
49. Matthew 5:16
50. Ephesians 6:12

Happy memorizing!

Now you can print out all fifty of these verses, already formatted for you in handy card format! You’ll get 8 to a page, in the NKJV or ESV (more versions coming soon!). On one side is the full verse, and on the other side of the card is the reference and the first few words to help prompt you. Only $1.99! (All proceeds go towards our 2014 medical missions trip to a Kenyan children’s home.) Get them here.

Or you can purchase the sets already printed out (you just choose what version), and have them mailed to you! Get them here.

If you believe that memorizing God’s Word can bring real change to families, then can you help me get a wider audience for this list? Just hit the Facebook “Like” button below, and then more people will see it! And Pin it on Pinterest, too! Thank you so much!

I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire, and I’m so glad you visited today! Mostly I write about marriage, and achieving true intimacy together. Please stick around and explore some more, or Subscribe to my Blog or Newsletters so that you can keep up with me.

Snatching Time with God

Snatching Time with God: 9 Ways to carve out time for God in your day.

One of the big challenges in this Simplify Your Life month is how to figure out the big picture: what is it that God is calling you to do?

Next week we’re going to go through a journalling process to figure that out, but there’s a more important preliminary step, and it’s really quite simple. You’ve got to talk to God.

Really talk to Him.

I struggle with this. Do you? I’m one of those people who believes so strongly in multi-tasking that it’s very difficult for me just to sit. I always think I should be folding something, or dusting something, or writing something.

But we can’t figure out what our purpose is unless we get in touch with the one who defines that purpose.

Often people try to figure out their purpose without reference to God–they look at their talents, and their desires, and they figure that these things together must constitute their purpose. But is there purpose to life if it’s solely defined by what you like to do and are good at? That’s not purpose; that’s just a singular, self-centred life, and the whole reason for a purpose is that it transcends you, and makes you part of a larger plan.

And you can’t have a larger plan without a Planner. So we need to get used to talking to God!

When I was a teenager, I took a summer missions trip to the Philippines. It was a difficult time, and I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend the same organization or opportunity for teens today. But one thing that they taught me that was invaluable was to do daily devotions. They gave us checklists so we could keep track of which chapters of the Bible we had read, so that eventually we could see when we had read the whole thing. I kept that checklist in my Bible for 7 years, during which I read through most of the Bible so many times that the checklist wore out.

It taught me organization, diligence, and just a thirst to hear from God everyday.

And then I had kids, and thirst for God fell to the wayside, crowded out by desperation for sleep. And even once the kids were sleeping through the night, I was still so desperate for time for myself that I have found it difficult to maintain the discipline I had as a teen.

I have decided, though, to stop feeling guilty about it and to figure out new ways to hear from God–new ways of doing my devotions that don’t require it to be a chore, and that can relieve that thirst again.

So here are some ideas, some of which I use, and others which I have used in the past, that may help you to focus again on God and find the time for devotions!


Photo by KH Rawlings

1. Journal, too

If you’re a multitasker, like me, you may find it difficult just to read a portion of Scripture, because if you see something interesting, you think, “I should blog about that!”, or “I should put that in a Facebook status!”. What I’ve done instead is take a pen and a notebook with me while I read my Bible, and I write down things that strike me, so I can make use of them later. Then, at the end, I write down my prayers. A few months later I can read over and I can often detect a pattern of where God has been taking me.

2. Put a small Bible and a small notebook in your purse.

I spend so much time waiting–waiting for kids, waiting for oil changes, waiting while the car is being filled up, waiting at the doctor’s office. Let’s use some of that time and read my Bible then! It doesn’t mean you don’t read it when you have MORE time, but if you honestly are rushed, having a Bible and notebook with you can at least help you to snatch the time that is available!

3. Make it a family event.

We all should be talking to God individually, but if that is becoming difficult, what about reading a chapter together after dinner, and talking about it? Or reading a psalm together with your husband the last thing you do at night?

50 Best Bible Verses4. Memorize Verses

Have you ever listened to a friend rattle off a beautiful Bible verse, and wished that you could do the same thing? But you can! If we make daily Bible memorization part of our day, we’ll find that we fill our heads with God’s Word much more. I’ve got a list of the 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize, and you can also order those verses already printed onto cards to stick in your purse, carry with you where you go, or anywhere! Or you can just copy the verses into your phone and learn a new one every week. That’s one verse a week, and in a year you’ve learned 50 beautiful Bible verses. Keep the cards handy for when you’re standing, doing dishes, or making dinner, or folding laundry.

5. Get the Bible on CD

Why not listen to the Bible in the car while you’re driving? If you commute, or spend a lot of time chauffeuring your kids or doing errands, you can always listen to some shorter passages, like the Psalms or the epistles while you’re driving. Just hearing little bits of Scripture while you drive can be so helpful! Again, a Christian bookstore will sell CDs of the whole Bible, or you can download some off of the internet.

6. Have “Calls to Prayer”

I have a friend who used a siren, whether it was a police or ambulance or fire engine siren, to remind her to pray. Whenever she heard that sound, she’d pray for the emergency, but then she’d pray for her family, or her church, or her concerns. She lived in a big city, so sirens were quite common, and it caused her to pause throughout the day, at random times, to pray.

What’s your random call to prayer? You could use a sound, like a bird’s call or a siren, or you could use a task, like folding laundry, or doing the dishes. Whenever you do these things, you pray. You could even pick specific people to pray for–whenever you do the dishes, you pray for your children. Again, it just focused you throughout the day to think about God and talk to God.

7. Incorporate Prayer into Exercise

My mother takes prayer walks every morning. She walks quickly, to get some exercise, but that’s also when she prays. Others I know pray on the treadmill, or while they jog. I love praying on walks because I’m out in nature, and that’s often when I feel God the most.

8. Play praise CDs constantly

Fill your house with music that praises God–especially music that focuses on Scripture. Fill your car with that, too. Of course, silence is also very necessary at times, but the more we can hear God’s word, the more it will impact us, and help us to remember it and hide it in our hearts.

9. Stop feeling guilty, and do what works

Finally, just stop feeling guilty. Many of us feel so guilty that we haven’t managed to squeeze God into our day that we don’t even try anymore. If you can’t do the 30 minutes with God that you used to do when you were young, that’s okay. But do what you can do. Snatch what you can. Find what works. And don’t be afraid to do a variety of different things. Our devotional time does not have to look like a specific way. It’s just finding time during the day to remember God, to concentrate on God, to listen to God, and to meditate on His word.

He wants to talk to us today; He doesn’t want us to feel so guilty or so inadequate that we flee. If you’re feeling guilty, that’s not God’s voice. So find something that works for you, and do it. And the more you hear God’s voice, the more you’ll find yourself feeling peaceful, grounded, and excited about life!

Do you have ideas that help you incorporate devotions into a busy life with kids? Share them in the comments!

The Marketing of Bibles

In my adult life I have had three Bibles. I started with one I had when I was 16. It was a NKJV study Bible, and I used it constantly. I underlined verses and coloured verses and wrote in the margins. I could find anything in that Bible.

 

NKJV Bible

NKJV2

But eventually I just didn’t want NKJV anymore, and I switched to an NIV study Bible. I used that briefly, for about three years, before switching to the Bible I have now, an NRSV which comes–this is the best part, and really why I bought it–with huge margins all around so that you can make lots of notes. I believe in marking up my Bible. It’s how I know what I’ve already read, and what I’ve already thought, and I find my notes useful when I read again.

 

RSV2

RSV1

Most people, I find, do only have a few Bibles because we get attached and it’s hard to part with them. That’s your whole history of your spiritual journey in one book! How could you start fresh? What do you do? Move all your notes over?

And yet, even though we feel that way about Bibles once we’re adults, we don’t expect to feel that way when we’re children or teens. Bibles are marketed with the assumption that kids will buy a new one at each new stage in their lives. They’ll have an easy one with pictures, and then a slightly harder version, and then they’ll go through several different teen Bibles before they reach adulthood.

I think this is done more for the marketing of Bibles than it is for the spiritual health of children. I do believe in having young children who can read–let’s say 7-9–read from an easier version, like the New Living or the TNIV. But once they’re reading novels, I don’t see why we don’t just let kids graduate to the Bible that they will start using in their spiritual faith. I did at 16, and I could have done so at a younger age. Pick the version that you like to read and memorize from, and buy that for your 10-11 year olds. Or save it until they’re 12 and make it into a big birthday present that’s meaningful.

I was reminded of the importance of this recently when my daughter showed me a teen Bible that she won for free (as in we didn’t pay good money for it). It’s a lovely Bible, pink and brown, that’s very attractive. But what we didn’t bargain for was what came inside of it.

 

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There were quizzes about “My Favourite Date” or “What I Look for in a Boyfriend”. I can’t tell you them all now because in disgust Rebecca ripped them out. Why is a Bible encouraging young teens to think about dating? She thought it was stupid. (You can read her thoughts here).

But that’s the problem with Bibles marketed to a specific segment of the population. Bibles marketed to teens will include dating quizzes. Bibles marketed to children will include little devotionals or anecdotes about school or about what to do when parents fight and other stuff that really doesn’t belong in a Bible. They’re all done as sidebars, so they’re not part of the text or anything, but they’re still there, staring at you, as you read through Proverbs. Becca tore out all the dating quizzes, but other stuff is still there.

 

PinkBible2

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I have no problem with sidebars that list the miracles of Jesus or the parables of Jesus or anything like that. I find such things helpful study aids. But sidebars in any Bible–whether for children or teens or women–that are more quiz based or devotional based I find strange. It’s not that I’m against devotions; it’s just that those sidebars usually give a particular slant to the story or passage that you’re reading, and I’d rather let God’s Holy Spirit talk to me at that time. If I want to read a devotional, I’ll get a separate devotional, thank you very much.

I know that companies just need to make money, and hence they’re marketing Bibles like this. And I do believe that everyone should have their own Bible so that they can make their own notes in it.

But I would just caution you before you buy your next Bible or you or a family member or friend: what do you want your Bible for? If you just want something to use as a study aid, then you don’t need one specifically for women or teens or kids or fishermen or moms or golfers or anything. You just want a Bible with margins for leaving notes and with the occasional map or chart.

And such a Bible is good regardless of gender, age, class, nationality. It speaks to everyone. After all, that’s what it was written for. Maybe it’s time we got back to that!

P.S. to any Bible companies reading this: Please make more Bibles with big margins for notes. Thank you.

Hiding the Word

At our house we’re really into Bible memorization. My kids do “Bible quizzing” with the Alliance church, and that involves knowing parts of Scripture inside out to quiz on each year. This year we’re doing 1 & 2 Corinthians, and my youngest basically has the whole thing memorized. They’re both doing well, and will likely make it to internationals this year in Calgary. Here’s a video of my oldest from a few years ago:

It’s amazing how much she still remembers. It’s geeky, but it’s fun. And she gets to meet about 200 other teens in our region who are all excited about the same thing!

I learned a ton of verses as a child & a teen, and they’ve stuck with me. It’s harder to memorize as an adult. My mother, who is now in her late 60s, has just about given up trying, though she could do it when she was younger.

But hiding the Word in your heart is so useful and such a blessing, because no one can take it from you. You’ll be reminded of important truths at important times.

Do you struggle with memorizing the Bible? When I was in Kenya I was overwhelmed with how much memorizing the kids do. Every evening, after dinner, they have “devotions”, or a program when they all get together and put on skits, or perform in choirs, or do dramas, or do quizzes. And one night a week they all recite Bible verses and learn new ones. They think of it like a game, and even 7-year-olds know so many!

If you want to start memorizing more, Seeds Family Worship puts out CDs with songs where the lyrics are simply the NIV of a particular Bible passage. And since putting something to music always helps you to remember, it’s a brilliant way to memorize! Find out more here.

And here’s a post I wrote on a Bible memory system that works for us!

So tell me: do you remember Bible verses you learned as a child? And how are you helping your children to memorize?

 

Works for Me Wednesday: Bible Memory System


Have you broken any of your New Year’s Resolution lists yet? I’ve done a great job with the exercising one! Breaking it, that is.

But here’s another resolution I hope we’ll all try to keep: memorizing Bible verses. I find that memorizing Scripture myself, and memorizing it as a family, really helps one’s spiritual life. There’s something special about knowing where a verse can be found, or being able to say it to yourself when you’re feeling down.

The problem with memorizing is that if you’re not consistent, you don’t remember it. Or you may work on a verse hard for a week, but it doesn’t stick.

I’ve recently worked on a new memory system that has worked so well for us. We use it in our homeschooling with Latin vocabulary words, but it can work for memorizing anything, including Bible verses.

Here’s what you do. Take some cue cards and write on each one what you’re trying to memorize–such as the Bible verse for the day/week. The week you’re learning the verse, you go over it everyday. The next week, you’re done with it and you’re onto another verse. But how can you be sure that you remember last week’s verse?

This is where the method comes in. Write last week’s verse on a cue card, and put in a pile with an elastic on it with the number “1″ on it. This is the pile you’ll work through everyday.

Then you review the verses in pile 1. Any verses you get right move to pile 2.

Tomorrow you do both piles 1 & pile 2. Any verses that are correct get moved up a pile, so that you now should have pile 1, pile 2, and pile 3.

Everyday you do piles 1 & 2. Pile 3 you do every Friday. Pile 4 you do once a month. And Pile 5 you do every other month. So if you’re memorizing one verse a week, for instance, you’ll likely review it everyday for a while, then every week, and then next month, and then it will be gone.

It works well because you can add verses to pile 1 at any time. So if the verse from last week is still moving through piles 1-3, that’s okay because you can just add more verses to pile 1 and it doesn’t really matter. You can have as many there as you need to.

The main thing is that you review each verse at least five times before you get rid of it.

Here, then, is what a sample schedule would look like:

Everyday: Go over new verse AND
Everyday: Review verses from piles 1 & 2. Remember if you get a verse correct, move it up a pile! AND
Every Friday: Review pile 3. AND
Second Wednesday of the month: Review pile 4. AND
Every 31st of a month: Review pile 5. (Why the 31st? It’s easy to remember, and it means you’ll hit pile 5 about every other month. You’ll hit it twice in a row July-August and December-January, but you probably need the practice anyway :) ).

If you ever get a verse wrong, it goes back to pile 1!

This way you’re sure that once you’re rid of it, you really know it.

If you want to memorize verses as a family, the best time is right after dinner. Even if you can’t do it every night, try for as many nights as possible. And if you use this method, you can be sure that you won’t forget any! You’ll go through each verse at least 5 times, and you’ll space it out!

I hope that helps you get your spiritual life off to a great start this year!

Video: How to Remember the Order of the Old Testament

It’s time for another weird Saturday post!

Do you have a hard time remembering the order of the events in the Old Testament? You have this vague idea that there were kings, and that the Israelites were taken into captivity, but you’re not sure if that has anything to do with Pharaoh or not.

I have the solution!

Here’s a video of my daughter and I teaching the “12 C’s” of the Old Testament at a conference I hosted this summer. Remember the 12 C’s, and you’ll always be able to figure out where the different stories fit!

And they’ve got actions! It’s geeky, but it works. Just take a gander here:

The 12 C’s of the Old Testament: How to Remember The Order! from marriagelady on GodTube.

Thoughts on a Spiritual Heritage

'Praying inside the Krakow cathedral' photo (c) 2009, Konstantinos Koukopoulos - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I heard someone pray once that God may give them an unbroken line of believers, starting from themselves, and going to the end–the rapture, whatever. I always thought that was a neat thought–that from now until the end, all my descendants would praise Him–or at least there would be some in each generation.

So I’ve been praying that, too: that I would have a spiritual heritage, and that I would influence not only my children, but my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too.

It’s so easy, though, to see life with ourselves as the centrepoint. And I guess it never really occurred to me until recently that perhaps others, in other generations, had already prayed that prayer.

My mother comes from a very Christian family. Her father was a minister, and her mother was an evangelist. Her maternal grandparents were church planters and pillars of the faith, although they erred on the side of legalism and harsh teaching a little too much for my mother’s taste. Nevertheless, I know that my grandparents prayed for me and that their faith was genuine. My grandfather had a massive stroke at 67 but lived to 93, and so all he could do later in his life was pray. His eyes were too bad to read, and he couldn’t hold books well, anyway. So pray he did, and that’s my primary memory of him.

My father, on the other hand, did not come from such a family. Or at least so I thought. My dad apparently was quite a Christian when my mother married him. He led the Christian IVCF group on campus at the University of Manitoba. But shortly after their marriage he abandoned the faith, my mother, and me.

His father, though, I have always been close to. Today would have been his 100th birthday. He died five years ago, almost to the day, just two days before his 95th birthday.

My grandfather wasn’t overly religious, but he did in his later life attend an Anglican church that he was devoted to. I know he prayed, and I know he believed, though perhaps he wasn’t as vocal about it as I am. But there were periods in his life when he didn’t go to church at all. He was married three times because all his wives kept dying on him. My own grandmother died after 25 years of marriage of a brain tumour. The woman I knew as a child as my Nana died after 17 years of marriage of lung cancer. And the woman he married later, who was at my wedding, died after another 17 years. Some might say that Poppa didn’t have a lot of luck, but I think he was very blessed, for he loved each of his wives dearly, and was very happy with each one of them.

But my Nana wasn’t a religious woman, and so he stopped going to church when he married her. So my memories of him as a child are not those of a religious man. And the relatives I know on my biological grandmother’s side are not religious. So I always supposed that I didn’t have a spiritual heritage on his side.

Well, I’ve been on an organizing kick in my house recently, and yesterday I pulled out my old family Bible. It belonged to my great-grandfather, Poppa’s father.

His name was Henry Burrows Wray, and he came to Canada in 1901. I did a bit of genealogy when I was younger, and I know that his father was a drunk who had 12 kids, and his mother was a saint and one of the founders of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in London. She believed.

So I took a closer look at this Bible. Here’s the cover page, showing that his mother Martha gave it to him in 1901–probably his going away gift when he left England. It would be the last time he would ever see her:

Then I started to flip through. And I saw that on page after page, verses were underlined and starred. Unfortunately my camera won’t focus right, and I need a new one, but here’s 1 Corinthians 13:

And here’s some more:

I know you can’t see the underlining well because of the stupid camera, but trust me: it’s underlined a lot.

And it’s falling apart, which means it’s well used. It’s a neat Bible, too, because the last 1/3 of the pages are all study notes and maps and stuff. So for it’s time, it was like the NIV Study Bible or something!

Anyway, I’ve never realized that there was a strong faith on my father’s side, too. My great-grandfather experienced his own griefs in life. His wife died when their two children were very young, and he had to remarry. But I think his first wife was the love of his life. All the verses about suffering in the Bible are underlined and starred.

It makes me think that perhaps he did what I’m doing: he prayed that his descendants would know and love God. And my father turned away, but I turned back. And so when I’m in heaven, I won’t just see my mother’s family; I’ll see my father’s, too.

And it’s such a treat to learn this on what would have been my grandfather’s hundredth birthday.

Song of Solomon Thoughts

I wrote in the post immediately below my thoughts about Islam and polygamy. I won’t go over them here.

But I do want to touch on Solomon for a minute.

I speak at marriage conferences throughout North America (if your church is interested in booking one, let me know!), and one thing that we often do is read humorously from the Song of Solomon to show that sex–and even rather steamy sex–is definitely a part of Scripture. So we should be able to talk about it!

But Song of Solomon has still always bothered me as a woman. Here is the bride, talking to her bridegroom, but she is obviously part of a harem, and she is worried that he’s going to go back to the other women. How can that be true love? How can this really represent the kind of intimacy that we long for? In fact, to tell the honest truth, I’ve always found it rather creepy. We know that Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, so this wasn’t exactly the love story that theologians often try to make it out to be (any more than Esther is a love story; that’s really particularly disgusting. But that’s for another day).

Anyway, this morning I was reading Song of Solomon in my devotions and a thought occurred to me that I believe came from God. I touched on it in the post below, but thought I’d elaborate.

We believe Scripture is God-breathed, so God is responsible for this book of the Bible. And what if He wrote it to be a wake up call to Solomon? After all, it was his wives that led to his downfall later in life. He had too many and he followed after them. What if God wanted to tell him that true love wasn’t found in a harem. It was found in one person. And that’s why this book is focused on a relationship between one man and one woman. It’s not just focused on sex; it’s focused on the totality of the relationship, and hence the reference to “my sister, my love.”

Like C.S. Lewis in the Four Loves, I think this refers to two kinds of love: both affection and eros, or even friendship and eros. Such a thing rarely occurred to ancient Middle Eastern men. Friendship was with men; women were only good for eros. Yet in Song of Solomon they refer to the bride as a sister, meaning that the relationship goes beyond eros. And that is what Solomon needed to see.

I don’t think he ever did. But the book remained in Scripture as a reminder to us of two things: Eros is beautiful and God created it, but it is meant to be expressed beautifully only between one man and one woman. And when it is, the relationship will grow much deeper.

So that’s what I take away from it. God never sanctioned polygamy, and every example in the Bible of it ended in disaster. He spoke deliberately against it in the New Testament. Yet He created eros. So we are to carry that on; let’s live passionately with our husbands, and maintain those boundaries around our marriages. That’s what brings true fulfillment. And God understands that totally.

My Bible study for Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight concentrates a lot on Song of Solomon. If you’ve ever wanted to study it in depth, you can read more here.

What Do You Hide in Your Heart?

While homeschooling my oldest daughter recently, I came across a Grammar Lesson that caught me by surprise. We use an old 1920 Ontario textbook for grammar, largely because they sure understood how to teach basic skills back then. This particular assignment asked children to plan a five paragraph story, and then to write it, on one of the four following subjects: David and Goliath; Daniel and the Lions; Ruth and Naomi; or the Prodigal Son.

What was surprising to me was not just that a public school textbook, even one that is 84 years old, would ask children to write Bible stories. It was that the textbook assumed the children could. You see, the Bible was not just part of Canada’s faith story back then; it was part of their whole culture. Whether or not people believed it, everybody knew it.

Philosopher and physician John Patrick likes to tell a story that illustrates this to an even greater extreme. The scene is the disastrous Canadian landing at Dieppe, in France in 1942. The Canadians had no air or sea support, they were outnumbered, and it was a lost cause perhaps before it even began. In the midst of the battle, the English headquarters sent a message across the Channel, asking how the soldiers were faring. They received a three word answer in response. “But if not.”

Do you get it yet? Few of us would. Yet those three words were not only understood by those who sent them; they were understood by those who received them. And the sender knew this would be the case. But if not.

For those of you who are still scratching your heads, “But if not” is from the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, or to my children as Rack, Shack and Benny. When facing being thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to an image of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, these three men told the king, “If our God is able to deliver us, let him. But if not, we will not bend the knee.” But if not, we will not bend the knee. That is the message the Canadians sent back to London. It was read, and it was understood.

There’s another story from that same period that speaks to me. An Allied POW camp (I awesome it was air force or some such, because they were held for a number of years, so it must have been before D-Day), managed to recreate pretty much the entire book of Matthew (there were only a few holes) just from people’s memories. I can’t find a reference for that now, but I think that’s pretty inspiring. They wanted Scripture to keep them going, so they called everyone together, and everyone brainstormed, wrote out the verses they knew, and then tried to put them in the proper order. The chaplain kept what they wrote, and he compared it to the actual Bible when they were released. They got remarkably close. I can’t picture that happening today.

Not all of those people were Christian, in either story. And yet they knew the Word. Probably better than we do. Have any of you ever read Tom Sawyer? Mark Twain writes brilliantly and hysterically about the Bible verse drills all these kids went through, but that was late in the nineteenth century.

Do we memorize anymore? Do we really know our Bibles? Do our kids? I think we need to get back to knowing the Word.

I know we can’t turn back the clock, and likely the rest of society won’t follow us as they did when we were still a Bible-based culture, but we need to at least be well versed in Scripture. In fact, we need to be more well-versed because we no longer hear Scripture or allusions to Scripture in normal life.

I’m thinking about starting “Memory Verse Monday”, when we all learn a verse every week together. We could even have contests for it. You could make it into a family activity at dinner time!

What do you think?

After all, but if not…