The Stander’s Affirmation

In many of my marriage sermons I include a piece called “The Stander’s Affirmation.” Folks always ask for copies afterward. It resonates with people. It shows the grit and determination that is often needed to hold a home and marriage together. We believe if everyone would have the commitment spoken of in the “Stander’s Affirmation”, marriages could and would survive. May this piece help your home as you seek to follow God.

– Jeff May

I AM STANDING FOR THE HEALING OF MY MARRIAGE! . . . I will not give up, give in, give out or give over ’til that healing takes place. I made a vow, I said the words, I gave the pledge, I gave a ring, I took a ring, I gave myself, I trusted GOD, and said the words, and meant the words…in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and in bad . . . so I am standing NOW, and will not sit down, let down, slow down, calm down, fall down, look down, or be down ’til the breakdown is torn down!

I refuse to put my eyes on outward circumstances, or listen to prophets of doom, or buy into what is trendy, worldly, popular, convenient, easy, quick, thrifty, or advantageous. . . Nor will I settle for a cheap imitation of God’s real thing, nor will I seek to lower God’s standard, twist God’s will, re-write God’s Word, violate God’s covenant, or accept what God hates, namely divorce!

In a world of filth, I will stay pure; surrounded by lies, I will speak the truth; where hopelessness abounds, I will hope in God: where revenge is easier, I will bless instead of curse and where the odds are stacked against me, I will trust in God’s faithfulness.

I am a STANDER, and I will not acquiesce, compromise, quarrel or quit.  I have made the choice, set my face, entered the race, believed the Word, and trusted God for all the outcome.

I will allow neither the reaction of my spouse, nor the urging of my friends, nor the advice of my loved ones, nor economic hardship, nor the prompting of the devil to make me let up, slow up, blow up, or give up ’til my marriage is healed up!

~Author Unknown ​

Looking for more help from God’s word on building your home and family.  Our new book is available now from our Estore here on the site.  May God bless you and your home.

 

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Longing to go Home

Longing to go Home

Life is brief. “Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Psalm 39:5).  Death is necessary.  “It is appointed unto man once to die” (Heb. 9:27).  We are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass.

We view death as the enemy, and indeed, it is.  It brings separation, suffering and sorrow.  As Christians, we do not glorify death or minimize it in any way when we say that, horrible as death may be, we long for what is beyond it: A home with God.

Many of us have had the experience of being away from home for an extended period.  Invariably, there comes a point when we want to go home.  On trips to third world countries, the thing that bothers me the most is not the primitive conditions, the strange food, the lack of hot water, the tick bites, the police road blocks, or the cold nights in a tent or unheated building.  It’s the longing to be home with family.

In New York in the spring of 1927, Lillian Alling, a poor young immigrant girl, became very homesick and decided to return to her family in Russia.  Because she had saved only $100 and would not accept lifts from strangers, she set out to walk the 12,000 miles home.  Equipped with maps, a knapsack and an iron rod for protection, this fragile girl passed through Chicago, Winnipeg, British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska, arriving in Nome in July of  1929.  It was just the halfway mark of her incredible journey.  Soon after leaving Nome, she was spotted approaching the far western tip of Alaska.  That was the last anyone on this continent is known to have seen or heard of her.  She apparently succeeded, as she had planned, in obtaining a boat and rowing across the 36 miles of the Bering Strait to Siberia.  She really wanted to go home, didn’t she?  Do we?  We should!

Listen to the way the apostle Paul describes the Christian’s desire to go to heaven in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2.  He writes, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.”  We groan, longing for home!

If you look carefully at the text in 2 Corinthians 5, you’ll see that Paul’s longing to go home was founded firmly in the confidence that he had a home to go to.  “We are confident,” he says, “yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).  This confidence was based on faith in God, and in the recognition of all that God has done to prepare us for the journey from mortality to life.  “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God” (2 Cor. 5:7, 5).

Nearly everybody will tell you that they want to go to heaven, but how many are willing to walk the long walk of faith to get there?  How many are willing to let God prepare them, rather than just assuming that they are prepared already? How many have a confident longing to go home?  Do you?

– Steve Klein

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When My Father Calls Me Home

running homeI remember doing something when I was a youngster that kids don’t do much anymore — playing outside!  If dad or mom wanted me, they’d usually just open the front door and holler down the street, “Steve!”  If I was within earshot, I’d come a runnin’.  When I got there I’d be informed as to why I was called home. Maybe there was a chore to do, maybe it was time to get ready for church, or maybe it was supper time!  Of course, occasionally I was called home because I was in trouble; perhaps I hadn’t finished my chores, or my father wasn’t pleased with my work. For this reason, the moments between when I heard the call to come and when I came running up to the door were sometimes anxious ones.

As a father calls his children to come home, our Heavenly Father will one day call each of us home. We do not want that moment to be one of doubt, anxiety, or fear — and it doesn’t have to be.

The end of a good life is like a parent calling a child home after the child has done his chores and then spent an afternoon playing joyfully in the neighborhood.  One elderly Christian whose friends and loved ones had passed on before him said that he felt that he just got to stay and play a little longer.  But no matter how long we may stay, this life will end for each of us, and the Lord will call us:  “For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets” (Ecclesiastes 12:5).

After death, there’s judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  And that is the thing that can create a lot of anxiety about being called home if we are not prepared.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Once, when I was in the fourth grade, I was playing with friends down at the end of the block on the street where we lived.  I heard my dad calling in the distance, and, as usual, I immediately started sprinting home.  It wasn’t really time for supper, so I was thinking maybe this time I was in trouble!  Had I forgotten to do something I was supposed to do?  My mind raced faster than my feet.  I ran up the steps of the front porch to find my dad sitting there looking at the newspaper. He’d hurt his back at work recently and was in quite a bit of pain.  He looked up at me and asked me to pick up the rubber band from the newspaper that he’d dropped on the ground.  I was tired from running home.  But I was glad.  Glad to be home.  Glad to do something, even though it was a small thing, to serve my dad.

If we have been happy to serve our heavenly Father here, we will be happy to be called home to serve Him there.  If by His grace we have lived lives of purity and holiness here, we will be truly at home in His presence.  Let us “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” when He calls us home (2 Peter 3:14, ESV).  Let us look forward to receiving “the things done in the body” because we’ve done the good things that our Father has asked us to do.

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Where There Are No Riots

In the days following the election of Donald Trump, there have been several riots across the heartland. A number of “unhappy campers” are joined in both peaceful and violent protests which include desecration of property and theft. Quite obviously, they are not presently happy in the country and some are threatening to leave. Continue reading Where There Are No Riots

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The Water of Life

flowing-waterfallI recently learned that the story I was told as a boy about the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth is a MYTH!  Even as a youngster, I suspected that the Fountain of Youth itself was mythical, but now to learn that Ponce de Leon never actually even searched for it… It makes me think that I’ve been drinking from a fountain of gullibility all these years!

In John 4:14, Jesus promised to give water which would become in those who drank it a “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  Myth?  Something for the gullible to believe in?  One might think so, except for the real evidence that Jesus rose from the dead never to die again.  Hundreds of reliable witnesses attested to His resurrection, and many were willing to die rather than alter their testimony.  And then there’s that otherwise inexplicable empty tomb.  So, it seems more than credible that Jesus possesses everlasting life, and it’s no stretch at all to believe that Someone who has eternal life could share it with others.

The Scriptures describe Jesus giving us eternal life as if it were as simple as Him giving us a drink of water.   But this water is special — miraculous in fact.  What gives it its life sustaining properties?   The answer lies in the Source of the water.   Revelation 22:1 reveals that “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal” was “flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

In Chapter 11 of “Heaven: O For a Home with God,” we wrote the following:

Before God’s throne, Jesus fulfills His promise and gives “of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Rev. 21:6).  “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters” (Rev. 7:17).  And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17).

I’m getting thirsty.  How about you?

“There’s a fountain free, tis for you and me
Let us haste, oh haste, to its brink”

– Steve Klein


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The Way that Leads to Life

difficult wayI have written much about the glorious expectation of heaven.  If you are like me, you find strength and solace in allowing your mind to dwell on the wonders of that eternal home of the soul.   But in focusing on heaven, and cherishing it as the home we have been created to inhabit, we must be careful not to generate false expectations.  Not everyone will make it home.  In fact, most will not.

“…the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  (Matthew 7:14, ESV)

Of all of the inconvenient, unpopular truths that have ever been spoken, these few words of Jesus, uttered near the end of His sermon on the mount, may be the most troublesome for the average person.

Why is the way hard that leads to life?  What makes it so hard?

The way is hard because believing can be hard.  Whoever believes can receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16), but believing isn’t easy.   There are impediments!  Satan makes sure of it.  He veils this world in the darkness of man-made philosophy, human suffering, false teaching, and misplaced priorities.  The apostle Paul describes this sad reality in these words: “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The way is hard because you have to obey the gospel and keep commandments.  The Bible declares that God will punish “those who do not obey the gospel” with “flaming fire.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  As we’ve said, some hear the gospel, but choose not to believe it.  Others want to change or adulterate it to suit their personal preferences.  And still others believe it, but choose not to obey.  They may even express contempt and disdain for the very idea that one must obey to go to heaven.  Yet, all over the pages of the New Testament, we see that obedience is necessary for salvation, and that failing to obey is the sure path to doom.  “For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:8).

The few who enter heaven “are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).

The way is hard because you have to give up things – passions, pleasures, possessions, and sin.  A wealthy young man came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life (Matthew 19:16-26).  Although he’d been keeping the commandments, Jesus told the young man that he lacked one thing: He needed to give up his possessions.  “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  “And the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” 

It’s strange, but just like this young man, many find it hard to give up things they cannot keep in order to gain things they could possess for all eternity.  Jesus makes the point bluntly in Mark 9:43-48:

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—  where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—  where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’   And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

 Yes, the way IS HARD that leads to life.  But, what an adventure it is, and what a glorious end awaits!  In the amazing words of an old hymn…

There are so many hills to climb upward,
I often am longing for rest,
But He who appoints me my pathway
Knows just what is needful and best.
I know in His word He hath promised
That my strength, “it shall be as my day”;
And the toils of the road will seem nothing,
When I get to the end of the way.

(When I Get to the End of the Way,  Charles Tillman)

 

~ Steve Klein

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The Half Has Not Been Told

It is crucial to think about heaven. Think about this, if we spend eternity there, all but a tiny, tiny speck of our entire existence will be spent there. Why do we get so wrapped up in this world when the time we will spend here is only a small blip on the radar compared to eternity?  Shouldn’t we think about heaven?

But there’s one thing we must know, even after reading what the Bible has to offer on describing heaven, I’m still convinced “the half has not been told.”  Heaven’s glories will still surpass even what God, with human words, has sought to tell us about it.  We will just have to plan to see it for ourselves.

It reminds me of the story when the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon in God’s nation of Israel.

Sheba Travel
No matter how long and difficult the journey was, the Queen of Sheba was determined to see God’s kingdom. How much more we should desire to make the journey to Heaven!

She traveled a thousand miles through desert territory to see Solomon’s kingdom.  Such a journey must have been hard, but is was certainly worth it.  Even more so, heaven will be worth the journey for us.  No matter what trials we face, we press through them all just to see the city.  “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God”  (Acts 14:22).

The queen was quite wealthy herself and yet God’s kingdom “took her breath away.”  The text says when saw it, “There was no more spirit in her” (1 Kings 10:5).  It was a place with unmatched wisdom found in its leader, a place of beauty and a place filled with wonderful riches.  When she saw the kingdom, she said, “I did not believe the words until I came and saw it with my own eyes, and indeed, the half was not told me.  Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 10:7 – emphasis mine).

All the earth sought the presence of Solomon, who surpassed all the kings in riches and wisdom (1 Kings 10:23-24).  If that was people’s desire for Solomon, how much more so should we seek THE KING who gave him such riches.  Solomon would have been nothing without the Lord.

ShebaBeforeKing
Imagine the moment when the Queen of Sheba saw the king and the glories of his kingdom. Such a moment is coming for the Christian…in heaven.

The kingdom of Solomon was filled with gold, for silver “was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 10:21).

Imagine it.  Silver was counted as NOTHING!  It reminds me of heaven where there is a street of gold (Rev. 21:21).  In fact, the city itself is pure gold (Rev. 21:18).  As we stated in a previous post, the place is surely fabulous when gold is the asphalt!  Eclipsing all of this is the glory of the One we most desire to see.  Our God.  King of Kings!

Why did Solomon enjoy all of this?  It was because God loved him and delighted in him (1 Kings 10:9).  But dear friend, the same can be done for you if you become a Christian and live your life for God.  God is ready to pour out all the riches of heaven upon you.  Read carefully these verses.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”  (Ephesians 2:4-7, emphasis mine)

And what will your reaction be?  I’m pretty sure it will be something like, “This place exceeds everything I ever imagined.  The half was not told me.”  Heaven!!  Don’t miss it for the world.

– Jeff May

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The Saved and the Innocent: Making Heaven Brighter

fatherchildIt is hard to imagine a world so bright and glorious that even the sun and moon could add nothing to its illumination.  But there is such a world.  For Christians, it’s the world to come, and it’s called heaven.

As John saw the heavenly city, he described it as a place that “had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it” (Revelation 21:23-24).

There is something fascinating in that description.  God’s glory illuminates heaven.  There is no need of sun nor moon.  Yet, MORE glory and honor is brought into the city by those who inhabit it.  It’s as if, unable to be made more glorious by any physical source of light, heaven is somehow beautified by the light-filled beings who enter in.

Every human being who as ever lived will inhabit eternity…somewhere.  Those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus will dwell eternally in heaven (Revelation 5:9).  Other beings will be there as well.  Angels to be sure, but also innocent children.

When a husband and wife, through the providence of God, conceive a child in this world, an immortal soul has its inception.  If the child passes from this life in the womb, or anytime before adulthood, the Scriptures indicate that the child is safe and will enter the heavenly abode — “for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:13-14).

It is a painful and traumatic experience to lose a child; it is an experience that my wife and I have had, and that my parents also went through.  But there is comfort in the hope of being with the child in the world to come.  When King David’s infant son died, he said, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).

The desire of a loving parent to spend eternity with an innocent child who has passed on can be very powerful.  In fact, it can change the entire trajectory of a person’s life.  And ultimately, it changes heaven itself.  In the glorious light of God’s presence, the sweet presence of innocent children will surely make heaven all the more extraordinary.

May every adult who has been touched by the loss of a child be inspired to seek the comfort that the child as found in heaven.

 — Steve Klein

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Have You Noticed The Robes?

whiterobesIn the book of Revelation, the apostle John is given the thrill of a lifetime — the opportunity to see into heaven itself.  In Revelation 7:9, he sees, “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”  The scene is fascinating.  It’s not just one thing catches your attention.  Everything does.  The throne.  The Lamb.  The size of the numberless multitude with palm branches.  And every one of them is clothed in a white robe.

But how could so many human souls have robes that are white when our own righteousness is like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)?  John is told how.  All of these people who are gathered around the throne of God in glistening white garments “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

Two things about the robes must not escape our notice:  First, the people in heaven had washed their robes.  Did you get that?  They had washed their own robes.  Nobody did it for them.  They had taken action.  Second, the robes had been made white in the blood of the Lamb.  There would have been no opportunity for anyone to wash their robes had the Lamb not provided His cleansing blood!  We have access by faith into grace.  God provides the blood through His grace (Ephesians 1:7).  We apply it to our souls in faithful obedience to the gospel.  “You have purified your souls in obeying the truth…” (1 Peter 1:22).

I long to stand before the throne of God adorned in a robe clean and white.  Don’t you?   The Lamb of God has provided the cleansing agent so that we might wash our robes!

So, with your mind’s eye, take a look again at what John saw.  Notice the robes!  All of the robes of all of the redeemed before God’s throne are white robes.  None are spotted.  None are stained.  Wouldn’t a dirty, stained or soiled robe be out of place in such a scene?  Wash your robe!  No matter how filthy and grimy it has become, no matter how long the stains have set in, not matter how you’ve failed in your efforts to conceal those embarrassing black blotches, no matter what a wretched sinner you have been, be assured of this one thing:

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

 – Steve Klein

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Why Do You Stand Gazing?

Anything that lifts our eyes upward and sets our minds on the heavenly things is a blessing indeed. On Tuesday of this past week a very rare cloud formation appeared over Costa Rica. And as you will hear in the video, it made the videographer think of the Lord’s return.

These things we know:

The Lord is coming again (Acts 1:9-11).
He will return in the clouds.
The lost will be separated from Him (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
Saints will admire the sight of Him.
Saints will rise to meet Him in the air and ever be with Him (1 Thess. 4:17).
He will come “as thief in the night” (unannounced), hence the need to always be ready (2 Pet. 3:10-11).

Enjoy the YouTube video and remember to look in the clouds often. Think of Him, prepare to meet Him by obeying His gospel and live faithfully ’til the day He arrives. Oh, for a home with God!

– Jeff May

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