A long happy marriage is not a myth

The common joke, that many accept as fact, is marriage is the end of the ” happiness ” you had while dating. You hear people saying marriage is a drag, it’s the end of fun, now you will really see who she is, it’s a long-term prison sentence, and you can probably list many other negative things said about the institution. As a result it’s accepted that there will be a point where marriage turns from good to average to bad but better than the alternative. Others take great pains to avoid getting married. Entertainment shows us long marriages where both parties are unhappy and love to share their misery with others. According to Vox, federal stats show the average American marriage that ends in divorce does so at 7 years thus the term 7 year ich.

Given this it’s no surprise that people are surprised when they encounter a couple who has been married decades and are not miserable. The couple pictured above goes out to eat at the same place every Friday. They talk and joke and generally have a good time. One night a young waitress had a bet going with an older waitress that they were not married or recently married reasoning that people who have been married a long time are not happy. When they asked they were surprised to know the couple was married in 1966. This was their first and only marriage. When people learn that my wife and I have been married since 1997 they are often surprised and want to know how we did it. What’s sad is many in our peer group have been married and divorced at least once, if not twice in the same time period.

I’ll get to the tips and tricks after dispelling some notions fed by Hollywood and romance novels. Marriage is not always romantic nor will you find romantic moments as portrayed on the big screen every day. You are not always going to be happy with each other and that’s OK, it’s not the end of the world. You both will not always “feel” love towards each other, that’s normal. The insane physical attraction will dim and the sex drive will wane as you grow older and life throws curve balls. Sex will not always be earth shattering and dates will not always be romantic evenings in suits & cocktail dresses at a candle lit dinner like the current Instagram models portray. Will you always agree on everything major, not a chance. This is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact a good marriage is much better than dating.

The tips and tricks are pretty obvious when you stop and think about your spouse instead of yourself. If you ditch the prevailing cultural view of marriage and take a Christian – biblical view you’ll be much better off. Start with Ephesians 5:25-33 commands to husbands and wives. Husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands. If it was natural to do this then there would not be a need to put it in the Bible.

Go on dates, any date will do. It doesn’t have to be at the most romantic place in a 60 mile radius. It can be as simple as Taco Bell where you two can put your phones away and focus on each other. It can be take out and going to a local park or an hour out for coffee once a week. Make the effort to plan the time every week. Even if money is extremely tight, like $5 is legit gas money, you can go for a walk around the neighborhood.

Show each other appreciation with simple words like please and thank you. Do the little annoying things like take the trash out, fix the headlights on the car or whatever you notice your spouse appreciates you doing. Some hints might be asking more than once for you to do something or saying ” I wish … ”

Do things together that create memories. The more shared experiences the closer the bond. Shared experiences are what draws military units, law enforcement, fire and EMS crews close. They create a bond and experiences to talk about. Plan events or activities together that you can look forward to together.

Focus on the long-term, not the short-term. Don’t focus on how bad it is right now or how bad it will be in three, six, twelve months. The bad will pass and the shared experience of the current hardship will be a shared experience that draws you together. Think in terms of decades instead of month’s and years. When you have a long term vision that you are committed to it makes enduring the present easier.

Pray over your marriage, pray for your mindset and pray for your spouse. Pray for God’s will and not things to happen that make you happy.

Read simple and easy to understand books like The 5 Love Languages with your spouse, talk about the book and the results from the quiz in the back. Once you know your spouses love language it is easier to love in a meaningful way. Read longer books or the video series such as Love and Respect or His needs, Her needs. You will invest time and money into reading up and studying for your job that might not be here tomorrow, why not do the same for the betterment of your marriage that can last decades after the job is gone?

Don’t complain about your spouse to family, friends and coworkers let a lone on social media. The feed back you receive will not be good nor constructive. You will allow what others say in response poison your mind and slowly convince you that things are really worse than they really are. If you must complain do it to your spouse respectfully and have one trusted and mature friend who has been there that you know will tell you the truth even if it’s hard and you don’t like it.

The point is you can have a marriage that lasts years, decades and see your family grow over generations and still be happy, content and set an example that encourages others.

Andy

The Andy Stanley 10 Commandments flap

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Recently numerous articles have been posted about Pastor Andy Stanley making the statement that we should unhinge ourselves from the 10 Commandments. To summarize he said the 10 Commandments are the old law ( Old Covenant ) and Christians are not bound by that. He went on to say that we should not erect monuments of the 10 Commandments. The comments on these posts have been eye-opening and sad. There has been very little debate and a lot of name calling, accusations and “Christians” actively trying to tear him down and discredit his ministry.

First of all, as brothers and sisters we do not hide behind a profile picture, attack, tear down and try to discredit anybody who professes to be a believer because you disagree with them. How do you know he’s not right and your wrong? What does it say to those from the outside looking in about Christians acting in such a manner? Honestly it’s appalling and is exactly the kind of behavior that has led many to leave the church. If we profess to be Christians we must act as Christians whether in person or behind a key board.

Should we or should we not erect monuments of the 10 Commandments? I have come to a point where I’m undecided. On one hand I believe we should as they are the basis for our current laws. Look at how many laws can be summed up under “Thou shall not murder”, “thou shall not steal”, “thou shall not commit adultery” and “thou shall not bear false witness about your neighbor”. There are a lot of laws that fall under these 4 commandments. We have a few remaining “Blue Laws” on the books that stem from “remember the sabbath and keep it holy”. They are a reminder to us all that there is a moral authority which governs right and wrong. They remind us that there is a moral absolute that comes from a higher power than man. In this regard erecting them is a good tool to govern, not regress to the old Mosaic laws.

The side of me that’s against putting them up is the part of me that cringes when I see how “Christians” behave. We want the commandments up, but we don’t want to follow them. If we won’t follow them then how can we be so outraged when others want them torn down? Before you say ” I follow them!” let me ask the following; do you have any other gods before Yahweh? If we were to ask your coworkers, neighbors, etc. would they say Yahweh is your number one priority or do they see you worshiping at the 55″ flat screen on game day instead of in church? Do they see you actively serving Yahweh or making sure your ride is always washed and waxed? Do they see you advancing the gospel or in a deer stand in your free time? We can say the same about not having graven images ( idols ).

How about not taking the Lord’s name in vain? I wrote about this before. It’s not saying OMG! God is His title, Yahweh is His name. It makes no sense that He would not forgive someone from saying Oh my God, but will forgive someone for murder. This commandment means doing things that are anti-Christ, anti-Bible, evil in the Lord’s name. Petty theft saying God won’t mind, seducing people saying God allows it for this reason or that and more evil things.

Remember the sabbath and keep it holy is largely ignored today. Church attendance is at an all time low. “Christians” are more interested in sports, traveling ball, sleeping in, shopping, fishing, recovering from a hang over, play off parties and the list goes on. We no longer have a day that we set aside and devote to Yahweh and His word. It’s all about me.

Thou shalt honor thy father and mother. We don’t even know what that means. Listen to how you talk about your parents. Look at how you talk to them. Where is the honor and respect? We don’t give it because they deserve it, we give it because we serve a holy god who demands it. The obedience of respect and honor is worship but that interferes with what I want.

Thou shalt not kill is a glaring hypocrisy. We celebrate abortion and a women’s right to choose in many denominations today.  We steadfastly deny that it’s murder despite medical science that says otherwise. We do this in the name of convenience. We put up a token protest against abortion but are unwilling to be inconvenienced with adopting the unwanted babies. We have “Christians” and “ministers” that openly call for violence and death to people of other religions and ethnicities.

Thous shall not commit adultery is violated routinely by believers and ministers alike. The amount of affairs and divorces in the church is staggering. This goes hand in hand with thou shall not steal as adultery is a form of theft. It’s also not uncommon to see a professing believer not return too much change, cheat on tax returns, not give the money to God they know they are supposed to, take supplies from work and cheat their employer out of time doing personal things. You may say these are victimless crimes, but theft is theft.

Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. This is basically lieing about your neighbor. Think about all the times you gossiped about someone you knew. Every time you do this and anything that you say is not completely true you are bearing false witness. Any time you exaggerate a claim against someone it’s bearing false witness.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods. This includes your neighbors spouse and children. Coveting is being jealous and wanting something that is not yours.

Let me ask you again, how can we expect anyone to take us serious when we don’t take the most basic 10 commandments serious? They see how the church ignores them until it suits them to throw them in someones face. Perhaps if we were living a life representative of the 10 Commandments this wouldn’t be an argument.

There is the argument that the 10 Commandments are of the Law of Moses or they will say part of the Levitical law and we are no longer under the Levitical law, but under the law of grace where we are to love thy neighbor as ourself and love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. They say these two command sum up all 10 if you obey them. I can agree with that as we no longer have to sacrifice animals to atone for our sins. We no longer are to stone people for sins. We don’t have to make women on their cycle sleep outside the camp anymore. There is no longer food that is unclean, unhealthy and unwise to consume yes, unclean – no.

The 10 Commandments and the laws spelled out in Leviticus were there to show us that we could in no way be worthy of approaching a holy God. We needed these things to keep us in line as the Messiah was not yet here nor was the Holy Spirit freely given. There had to be something in place to govern. No we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit plus the written word. We have the ability and responsibility to speak to Yahweh daily and obey what He asks of us. If we follow Him like the apostles, like Reese Howell, Watchman Nee, George Whitfield and a multitude of others we would not need the 10 Commandments to remind us how to behave. Our lives would be a living example of Yahweh’s power and grace.

Now there is the crowd that says Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law. He did say that, but which law was he talking about? If he was talking about the Old Testament law we have a problem. That argument can not be made by anyone with a tattoo, ones who eat shell-fish or pork. You must make sacrifices with live animals that meet specific requirements, you must always keep the feasts and festivals, you must keep Saturday as the sabbath and adhere to all the rules regarding work and travel. The women who are on their cycles must sleep outside of town as they are unclean. Anyone who touched a dead body is unclean and must adhere to the ceremony to be clean and the list goes on…..and on……and on. We must be more clear about the law Jesus was referring to and be sure we are abiding by that law before we castigate someone for not following any better than ourselves.

To wrap up I can see a valid argument for what Andy Stanley said. I don’t completely agree as I still see a necessity in our culture for them as not every one is a believer who is devoutly following Jesus. No, I’m not a Stanley apologist. I have yet to find a preacher, pastor, teacher, minister, reverend, apostle, etc. that I totally and 100% agree with. Why, because they are human and I’m human. We are created uniquely by an all-powerful God. We have had different life experiences. There are some great people I listen to and read that I don’t agree with on everything. If you find yourself agreeing with someone 100% you are in a cult or not thinking for yourself.

On this issue lets look to Yahweh and His word in prayer and pray for supernatural wisdom for Andy Stanley to be able to minister in the most effective way possible for him to reach the people who Yahweh has preordained him to reach. People that you and I will not reach. The next time a high-profile pastor makes a statement that you don’t agree with, instead of crucifying him with your keyboard keep in mind that they are doing something you are not, ministering to a multitude under a critical social media, armchair quarterbacking crowd with a stunning lack of grace.

Andy

Bringing in a better year.

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2018 was an interesting year to say the least. on a national level we witnessed a media completely shed all pretense of journalism and become unashamed activists. We watched politicians flip-flop on every issue. We have had issues pushed on us that are extreme to say the least, but we are expected to accept it. We witnessed dire predictions for the economy only to see it boom. We have seen prediction after prediction of a stock market crash in the coming weeks only to see it steadily grow to new highs. We have witnessed the unthinkable talks between North & South Korea and enhanced talks with China. We have endured sexual scandal after scandal. We have seen a nation that has become addicted to outrage and hate with social media and big tech dictating what we see (if you don’t believe that do a search on nationalism on Google and DuckDuckGo). We have seen the failure of our education system in the outlandish comparisons being made. We have witnessed natural disaster after natural disaster. I, for one, am happy to see a new year come.

So what can we do to make this year better than last? The answer lies with you. Only you can make a difference. Enough of us can make a national difference. Remember, it only took 1/3 of the populace to start and fight the Revolutionary War. It only takes a third of use to change the culture for the better. The key is how do we do it?

Start by doing things to better yourself. The better you feel the less likely you are to fall into depression and chronic cycles of anger. Diets, exercise, getting rid of some friends & acquaintances, maybe change jobs, change what you read and listen to, start a daily devotion and make family a priority instead of social media. Set reasonable goals on things like weight loss and exercise gains. A goal of losing 50 LBS this year is outstanding, but can be overwhelming when it happens slowly. The first week you lose 2 LBS, next week another 2 LBS, the week after there is no change. You soon get discouraged and stop. Break the 50 LBS down to monthly goals that are much more realistic and achievable. The same goes for diets, devotions and reading. Instead of saying you’ll start reading 10 chapters a day right off the bat, ease into it. When you don’t hit the goal right off the bat human nature finds it easy to quit since you already failed.

Limiting social media is huge. The tech giants have made billions of dollars literally controlling what we see and hear. They know how the mind responds when using social media. They know the mind responds like a drug addict getting a fix. This is why they admit to not allowing their kids to use it, let alone smart phones. If we get away from social media we get away from the addiction to anger and outrage that social media fosters. We read something that angers us and we fire off a comment worded in such away that we would never say face to face in a civilized society. Social media is actually making us more divided and uncivilized on all fronts. Just read comments, look at how we behave towards each other now and think back to how we used to behave towards each other. There is a large number of people who have no knowledge of life before social media. They don’t know anything different. I remember the Reagan vs. Carter election cycle. We are not better off as a society now than then. We have regressed greatly. We must present a better alternative to the next generation.

Find new news outlets. Major print and broadcast media is controlled by a very small group and they report what they are told regardless of truth with no objectivity. Do a web search on mind control and see how many news outlets from all across the nation report the exact same thing in the exact same manner right down to the exact wording. Research Sharyl Attkinsson and her explaining Astroturfing. It’s truly eye-opening.

Make your faith and family a priority. The number one influence on children is their parents. The biggest component to a child’s security is their parents in a secure, healthy marriage. Make that a priority and watch other family issues resolve themselves. Making your faith a priority is key to strengthening your marriage and influence on your children. Read the Bible on a daily basis. Even if you aren’t a Christian, even if you’re an Atheist or Agnostic read it for the good life lessons. I promise you will get more out of it than you will CNN.

Resolve to spend less and pay down some debt. Consumer debt is through the roof and out of control. We complain that the government can’t control spending, but neither can we. How can we expect the people we elect to do something we are not willing to do ourselves? Set a realistic goal that you know you can live with. If your household income is $60,000 and you set a goal of being out of debt this year with $80,000 of debt you should be aware that it is an unrealistic goal. Research Dave Ramsey or Larry Burkett for ideas and tips. They say the number one conflict in marriage is about finances. Address it now with a plan you both can agree on and take that conflict off the table. Why carry one more burden into 2019?

People we call friends are often the largest impediment against personal, spiritual and relational growth. People who are negative, always questioning what you’re doing (even when you know that you know they question and try to talk you out of it), routinely talking down about your spouse – kids – jobs – pastor or boss or telling you that they are the problem and not you. Get rid of them now. They are not friends. They are like crabs in a bucket always pulling down the one trying to get out. I know you’ve heard the phrase misery loves company. Look around you at who you have surrounded yourself with. Once you clean house you will be surprised to find that the job isn’t so bad and the boss is a better person. You will realize that your spouse is good to go and the kids are pretty good too. That pastor and church you complain about, well they really aren’t bad. Your perspective will change and with the negativity gone you will quite literally feel better.

These are just a few things, but remember the change begins with you. Enough of us change for the better the better the nation will become. Positive change is always difficult as it goes against our human nature. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill from 1941 “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense….”

Happy New Year!

Andy

Ladies, don’t be ashamed.

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Kids, you may not want to read this. You guys comment on there being too much information and too much public displays of affection….in our own home! Given the topic and where I’m going with this I really think you will wish you hadn’t read it.

In our society we have allowed the media and the entertainment industry tell us what a woman should look like. They portray anything from a size 0 to a 6 with long legs, perfect hair and breasts and with just the right amount of makeup as the picture of beauty. It’s so rare to see a lady with a mom bod as an anchor, on the cover of a men’s magazine or starring in a major motion picture that I can’t think of one.

When it comes to sex the same industries portray sex in marriage as boring and nonexistent unless a spouse is having an affair. The picture portrayed is of fit couples having active & fulfilling sex lives in one night stands or in a relationship outside of marriage.

What the world (for a lack of a better term) or the enemy has done is take what Yahweh (God) designed and perverted it, just like with music and worship. This perversion has created insecurities in many women. This insecurity has invaded the marriage relationship and hampered sexual intimacy. The insecurity comes in how you look, how you think he thinks you look and are you enough after watching that movie. What has not helped is churches that only refer to sex as bad until marriage then become completely silent on it. They neglect to talk about the importance to both spouses or the role Yahweh created for sex, intimacy and seducing one another.

One of the biggest hangups is your bodies. Ladies, you have nothing to be ashamed of! What is portrayed as ideal is fake, airbrushed, surgically enhanced with long-term medical issues. There is no shame in your mom bod or some of the wrinkles and stretch marks that come with time. I can also tell you that the vast majority of you, your husbands don’t mind at all. The few of you who married insecure, selfish boys who are hung up on it…I’m sorry. None of us look like we did 20, 30, 40 years ago and if you doubt your husband finds you desirable, ask him. Embrace the body God gave for it is good.

My wife and I met over 20 years ago while she was training horses and I was a Marine. November 1st we will have been married 21 years. We are both built a little different from what we were then and I have no problem with her body. I didn’t when she was smaller than a 6 or larger than a 18. The story it tells of our life is as much a part of the attraction as the appearance. What I see, and most of your husbands (ask them), is a woman who has walked with me through ups and downs of life. Through fears, sadness, triumphs, good and bad.

What  about the stretch marks? What about them? They are from carrying two children, our children. They are from the ups and downs of illnesses and medication. They are from periods of depression where food seemed the only cure. They are from weight loss from a determined, disciplined spirit. There are a few curves that weren’t there a few years ago, no problem – they tell the same story. To be honest I also have a little weight where it didn’t use to be. The thing is it all adds to the overall beauty and attractiveness of a woman.

Ladies you can stop always trying to keep yourself covered or hidden in the dark from your husband. I promise he will approve of seeing more of you. Don’t be ashamed to show him a little more skin or to dress provocative or sexy for him. He probably hasn’t seen that side of you in a very long time and will very much welcome it. Men were created very image, sight, oriented. The site of you will provoke memories of sights, smells, taste and feeling from physical touch. Never underestimate the power of that.

As I said before, Yahweh designed us to have a healthy and satisfying sex life with our spouse. It is good to flirt with your husband and even tease him during the day with a promise of what’s to come when the kids go to bed early (On that topic, your kids will not die of neglect if you put them to bed at 9. I bet all of your kids have some form of entertainment in their rooms. You need to make that time for you and your spouse before it’s 11 and you guys can barely stay awake.)

If you doubt that it’s really good and not a bit dirty read the Song Of Solomon. It’s in the Old Testament right after Ecclesiastes. It’s a short book that is full of all sorts of imagery such as:

” Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is better than wine ”

” The king has brought me into his bedchambers (his bedroom) ”

” A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that  lies all night between my breasts ”

” Behold, you are fair my love ”

” I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste ”

” His left hand is under my head, his right hand embraces me ”

” For your voice is sweet and your face is lovely ”

These are just excerpts from chapter 1. Consider the following:

” The curve of your thighs are like jewels ”

” Your two breasts are like fawns ”

” The stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts like it’s clusters. I said I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches. Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples and the roof of your mouth like the best wine ”

These are just a few excerpts from chapter 7. There is still one more chapter in the book. What is very obvious is they not only take great pleasure in each other, but also in telling each other. The more you tell your spouse the more anticipation you will build. This is a great example of how we are to be with our spouse.

There are other verses that highlight  Yahweh’s desire for us in this regard. In Genesis 2:25 it says they were naked and not ashamed. Proverbs 18:22 says he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 5:18-19 says let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times and always be entrapped with her love. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 says “…let husbands render to the wife the affection due her and like wise the wife to the husband …. the wife does not have authority over her body, the husband does and the husband does not have authority over his body, the wife does …. do not deprive one another …. come together again so that Satan does not tempt you. ”

The picture is clear ladies, you are a blessing. Not something to be embarrassed and hidden in shame. We were designed to enjoy each other, not neglect even unintentionally. You were created in His image (Genesis 9:6). He is the King of kings making you royalty, a member of His royal priesthood (Hebrews 7) through adoption (Galatians 4:5-7). So don’t be ashamed, be bold and seduce him like you used to. I promise it will get his attention, it will wake something inside of him and revolutionize your relationship.

There is a burden on him that I will address soon in a later blog. Keep in mind we live in a time when everything is telling the man he is not needed, stupid, bad for society, be seen but not heard, sit down and shut up and when you are wanted we will tell you. For their entire lives they have been told to stop and behave anytime a hint of masculinity rears its head. Their apparent lack of interest or initiation is not from a lack of interest. It comes from a lack of interest in being smacked down one more time. One more time of being rebuked, rebuffed, scolded and denied. They have retreated inwards and you need to draw them out and give them permission to pursue you.

As for me, after more than 21 years with her – I am more than happy to take a hold of the branches of that palm tree and enjoy the clusters. I am more than happy to get my hands on those jewels every chance I get and she knows it. She knows I still desire her only. It is good and the age of the tree matters not and does not deter me. It’s the history, familiarity and shared life with her that makes it so much more and unable to lose interest. I bet your husbands feel the same – try him.

Andy

An effective and simple Bible study

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Every time I see or hear the phrase “Bible study” I get leery. A few reasons with one being it’s a money-making scheme by way too many people claiming to have special insight into scripture, but really it’s about getting their brand out there. The second is they are telling you what you are supposed to get out of each chapter and verse. What if that is not what the Holy Spirit wants you to get? The third is, what if they are wrong? What if they are so wrapped up in religion or prosperity that they are way off the mark? The fourth is all a bible study (some call it a devotional) does is put everyone using it on the same page. Small groups love using a book or study as a way to keep the group on the same page. This is nothing more than conformity and we are seeing the cultural ramifications of conformity being forced. It’s also easier than truly discipling.

Rest assured, this is not to get you to buy, let alone suggest you buy someone else’s devotional or Bible study. Doing your own studying with prayer is much better. There is nothing wrong with adding trusted commentary or such to your own study as an aid, but not to usurp prayer. What this is about is an easy and simple way to study on your own which is hermeneutics, the art and science of studying the Bible. Every time I hear that word I think of a class I took where we had to read and study a book titled ” Living by the book: The art and science of reading the Bible ” by Howard G Hendricks. It’s a good book if you want more or a more in-depth & complex options to study scripture. To be honest he had techniques that I still don’t understand.

A tip about studying the Bible, it should not replace your routine or semi-routine devotional time. It should be “in addition to” like the offering is “in addition to” the tithe. If you get to caught up in the study and neglect the devotion you can find yourself not seeing what the Lord wants to tell you personally. This is a trap that many pastors find themselves in and burn out spiritually as a result.

Now I want to direct you to an article that my cousin posted to Facebook by accident from the website The Sower. The article is titled ” The calling of the disciples ” by John W. Schoenheit. In it he explains why the disciples of Jesus were so willing to abandon what they were doing and follow Him when he called them. It also shows a flaw in how we read scripture.

We read the Bible in chapter and verse format. A format that it was not penned in. Originally the Bible was penned in a letter format with thoughts easily traced from one paragraph to another. The chapter and verse concept did not come around until the 1560 Geneva Bible. The Puritans did this to aid in reference and memorization. They did not intend for us to use the verse concept to break up thought and build false doctrine.

We go on to read it one book at a time with each book being its own account. We don’t read it as each book being a chapter in a larger story with the same theme throughout the whole book. So when we read the gospel account of Mathew, then we read Luke’s account we are reading it as two separate and fragmented stories. Instead we should be reading them as the same story from different perspectives so we can piece the pieces together.

The article I mentioned explains to us why the disciples were so willing to walk away from their jobs and businesses to follow Jesus. To get that understanding you have to pull key information about each person from the four gospels. So to know why Andrew was so willing you would find all the verses pertaining to Andrew and read them together and you will find that he was a disciple of John the Baptist and would have known who Jesus was. Do the same with John, Simon, Mathew and the rest. You will get a picture that makes sense.

This applies to any other topic you want to study from healing to prayer to faith, fasting, tithing, etc. List all the verses pertaining to the topic and read them as one thought. When doing this you can not only use the verse that has the word you are studying in it. The entire thought will be laid out in the surrounding verses.

Take the oft quoted James 4:7 “resist the devil and he will flee from you”. Every time that is quoted you are only getting the “B” clause. The “A” clause of the verse is “So humble yourselves before God”. The true meaning of James 4:7 becomes “So humble yourselves before God, resist the devil and he will flee from you”. Not surprisingly you don’t hear much about the “A” clause of that verse because it puts the burden of action on you. Now to get the true context you have to go back to verse 6 to see why you should humble yourself before God. There you will find “And He gives generously as the scripture says; God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. To close the context you need to go on to verse 8 which says “Come close to God and God will come close to you.” Now you have the entire thought which tells us that we must humble ourselves to God which will draw us near to Him and Him near to us as a response. This action will cause the devil to flee because he can not be in the same proximity as the holy God. Truth be told, to get the entire context you need to go back to chapter 3 to get the “rest of the story”, but for this exercise this will do.

Without the proper context we have people and pastors running around saying “resist the devil and he will flee from you” without telling you the rest. They, and you, in-turn wonder why the devil is still pummeling you. You think, “I’m resisting but he won’t leave me alone!” He won’t leave you alone until you draw near to God. Context is key!

The next time you are in church, or watching your favorite on T.V., use this technique to further your knowledge of what they were talking about and to see if they are using scripture correctly. If they are not you need to quickly get away from them.

Andy

Worshiping the god of safety

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Safety is something that most sane or rational people value. Some value it more than others. Often mothers and wives place a much higher value on safety and security than their husbands, sons and fathers. As a people we tend to place an emphasis on the safety of the nation, our schools and society over other things to include common sense. This sense of needing safety and security has invaded business decisions, elections, financial decisions and our churches to the point that it looks like we worship safety as a god instead of worshiping Yahweh and His son Jesus.

So now that some of you have already become defensive let me explain why I say this and what the Bible says about our safety and security. First and foremost Jesus (and the apostles who wrote what Jesus said as He said, In the beginning the word existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.) told us not to be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they can not touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell ( Mat. 10:27 ). We are also told that if you try to save your life you will lose it, but if you give up your life for My sake you will save it (Luke 9:24). Here are two verses out of several that clearly tell us to not fear man, but fear God and give up your life. Now giving up your life does not always mean to literally die, but to give up what you want to advance and bring glory to Him. Sometimes in some areas that will mean death. The point is this, trying to hold on to what you want gains you nothing.

All the apostles (disciples) were martyred through gruesome means except John. They tried to boil him alive, but the oil boiled and he was not harmed. Since the days of the original twelve, countless other believers have believed so strongly in the gospel message that they volunteered to spread the good news in places they knew could, and most likely would, result in their death. Some who actively spread the gospel suffered hardship, but not killed by mans hand. They also “gave up their life” in order to share the truth.

I think of Heidi Baker and her husband who gave up their comfortable & financially prosperous life in America for a life of service to the orphans in Africa. I think of K.P. Yohannan’s wife who was raised in a very wealthy family in Germany and refused the future of that as a teenager because she knew she was to be a missionary and spread the good news. I think of Jim Elliot who knew death was a distinct possibility and went anyway. In spite of his death his son and wife continued to evangelize the people who killed him. I think to the times when my wife, children and myself were the most alive and happy. Those times were times when we were spreading the gospel in areas that were not very receptive to our “kind”…at first. There are others who gave up everything that marks one as succesful in our society to spread the gospel and obey the command of Jesus to “GO!”

To be honest, nowhere in the Bible does it say to seek safety and security. Not one passage! The opposite is true starting with Jesus saying ” If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes even your own life. Otherwise you cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25)” He is saying not too literally hate them, but to love Him so much more that you will follow Him despite what the others think is good. It’s about having so little regard for this world that you will obey Yahweh above all else regardless of the cost. Like a man getting married, he will leave father and mother and cling to his wife. Once married the loyalty of the man is no longer with father, mother or any other relative, But solely with the wife – the bride. It’s the same picture as following Jesus is marriage as He calls the church His bride.

Jesus also said that “But beware! You will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers (Mathew 10:17-18a)”. Jesus went on to say “A brother will betray a brother unto death, a father will betray his own children and children will rebel against parents and cause them to be killed (Mathew 10:21)” We see this in certain Hindu regions and almost all Islamic nations where being a Christian is a crime and often punishable by death if a family member does not commit an honor killing to save the honor of the family and the prophet Mohammed. Paul was stoned, beat, ship wrecked, bit by a snake, at time went without food, imprisoned and finally beheaded. Before he became a follower of Jesus he was a pharisee and very popular with much power and authority and without a care to his personal safety. That changed when he had a personal encounter with Jesus.

The only security Jesus gave us is that we are more valuable than the birds of the air (Mathew 28-31), if you receive Him you receive the Father (Mathew 10:40), whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life and there is no judgement on anyone who follows Him by Yahweh, the Father (John 3:16-21) and anyone who openly declares that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart will be saved (Romans 10:9-13). There are more verses about His assurances to us as followers of Christ. None of these even hint at safety and security here on earth, only in heaven.

Given this, why do Western Christians, churches and boards of all manner insist on balancing everything against safety and security? If it’s safe and secure those people, neighborhoods and nations have already become majority Christian. In insisting on a degree of safety and security we are voluntarily giving up authority and liberty found only in Jesus and the power of His spirit. We have advocated our position to the enemy who knows fear. Who can smell it like a dog can smell fear on a person. In persisting on this safe approach we have forbidden and talked people out of doing what they know God told them to do, but due to those in “authority” persuading them it’s not a good idea because it isn’t safe, doubt takes root and they question whether it really was from Yahweh. You pharisees are putting undue rules on people causing them to stumble and sin by disobeying the Lord’s command!

This has permeated all aspects of our society to include untold numbers of laws and rule making in the name of “safety”. Every time this happens we give up more of our individual liberties and rights of the individual states. We forfeit that to the federal government and will not get them back without a huge struggle. The same in the spiritual realm. What we voluntarily gave up we will not get back without a much larger and time-consuming struggle than needed to be in the first place.

We quite literally worship the notion of being safe over the word of God that commands us to go. He didn’t command us to go only when safe. He commanded us to go without regard to our personal safety and well-being. To be true followers we must be willing to sacrifice our personal safety, the safety of our 401K, IRA and pension plans. We must not be hung up on not going because we will lose our health, dental and life insurance. Our decisions to follow Him and walk in obedience spreading the truth of the gospel must not be hinged on the security of a steady paycheck. You have not truly lived until you have stepped out into what the majority calls crazy without a man-made security blanket and spread the gospel message & love of Christ to those who can do nothing for you of equal magnitude. Then you will see the power of the Spirit, signs and wonders and experience the excitement of true living.

I encourage you to shake of the religious spirit that causes you to live with safety and security as paramount concerns. I encourage you to evaluate where your life is going and to what degree do you feel truly alive and at peace in your spirit.

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The City On The Rise

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“The city on the rise” has been the slogan for Rocky Mount NC for a long time. As slogans are supposed to, this one is designed to imply something that is happening. The hope is it will convey to people that the city is up and coming with new and great things.

Many in the city, and surrounding areas, do not see it this way. They are all to eager to point out all the problems and flaws the city has. You will hear about the corruption, low wages, lack of jobs and on and on and on. On the social media groups dedicated to the area you will see the mindset of the people very clearly. It’s in your face from Christians and non-Christians alike. They always have evidence to point at to support their thoughts and opinions on the city.

Recently an article was published by USA Today, that I reposted, that lists the top 25 worse cities in the US to raise children. Rocky Mount is listed as the 5th worse city. Factors like violent crime, low wages, graduation numbers, access to health facilities like gyms and low preschool enrollment are used as a basis for the ranking. Things that are not listed that anyone in Rocky Mount will tell you is the perceived corruption in city council, the unfriendly people in many churches and racism.

To be honest, I have been one of those outspoken critics of the city for too many reasons to list here. Frankly it will do no good to list them. My dislike for the area has become so deep that I don’t refer to it as home. Instead I would say “going to the house”. I became so preoccupied with when we could leave the area again that I stopped seeing what was here. A change was activated while listening to a podcast by a pastor in South Carolina. He recounted what the Lord showed him on a trip from Fort Worth TX to Waco while driving on I-35. It centered around Isiah 35 and has been stuck in my spirit for over a week. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that chapter and listened to that podcast. The first time it was like a fire was shot in my soul with the clear message being ” this is why I moved you back.” That being said, my wife and I can not do it on our own.

Now there is a problem and a solution to the problem. The problem is not everything listed above. Those are symptoms of the problem. The root cause of the problem, the sickness if you will, is the people. In Proverbs 18:21 it tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Whatever we speak we will reap the consequences. What that means for us in this context is this, everything we speak over the city we will reap the consequences of. If we speak bad, negative and less than wholesome – that’s what we will reap. Conversely, if we speak good, positive and blessings on the city, that is what we will reap. The citizens are actually speaking the issues into being and giving these issues the right to remain. Speaking is an action and as we say “actions have consequence”.

The solution is to change the way we speak about the city and the issues faced. That, in-turn, will change the mindset about her. Just as we can speak the bad into existence, we can speak the good into existence. In short order we will start to see the city differently, in a new and positive light. This started when the Gathering of believers were meeting regularly. What has happened to the city is a cause of that gathering ceasing their meetings and creating a vacuum. As I blogged on Feb. 6th titled A city united through a gathering of believers, there was a point when you could feel the city turning a corner.

There are those, I was one, that continue to talk her down and look for an exit making us less engaged in the effort to bring about change. The more we talk positively, even prophetically, over the city the more we will desire to be engaged. You will find yourself becoming more fond of the city and noticing things that seemed hidden to you about her bringing more hope for the future that will be better for your descendants.

The city is an inheritance for us all. An inheritance that we are forfeiting because our mouths are actually stopping the blessings that some have prayed for. Some who have prayed have received a promise that they will not see, but like Abraham their descendants will see the fulfillment of the promise. Some will not see it because it has been delayed due to our spoken word, but still a valid promise. In delaying the promise with our undisciplined tongues we are actually robbing our children, grand-children and great grand-children of their promised inheritance.

Look to Numbers 13:27 – 14:24. The Israelites cried and ignored the promise from God to deliver the land to them. Their mindset and the words of their mouth resulted in a generation dyeing without seeing the fulfillment of the promise. The words of their mouth robbed them of their inheritance.  This is exactly what is happening in Rocky Mount today, and other cities across the nation.  Our mindsets and words are robbing us of our inheritance.

Now some will say the promised land is elsewhere, that you have to go through the desert wilderness to get there. They will equate Rocky Mount and the tri-county area as that wilderness with nothing good to offer. The truth is Yahweh can turn a dessert wilderness into a paradise. There is always hope! Look to Isiah 35. The whole chapter is about hope for restoration. Look around Rocky Mount. At one time the city was prosperous. You can see by the number of old homes in the downtown areas. When there is restoration there has to be redemption of what was lost or stolen. One can not happen without the other.

In Isiah 35 it speaks of the wilderness being glad, the wasteland will have new flowers, the desert will be green and the Lord will display His glory. As a result the tired and weak will get strength and hope. The blind and deaf will see and hear and the lame will jump for joy because God is coming to destroy our enemies. It says many new streams of water will come and water the dry ground bringing new vegetation (growth) which is a new ecosystem. It just gets better form there. Think of the areas that are considered a wasteland due to past floods and abandoned buildings where business once stood.

The focus on the church has been to fight, to be prayer warriors. It’s been to fight for what is rightfully ours that the enemy has stolen. I submit that there is a better and more productive way than continuously trying to engage in spiritual warfare.

For this I will point to Joshua. The Joshua that was Moses’s right hand man, the one who was so hungry for Yahweh that he would not leave the tent of meeting until God’s glory left it. He and Caleb were the only two who advocated for attacking the enemy and taking the land God had promised them while the others cried, wept and turned their backs on the promise. When Yahweh took Moses He placed Joshua as the leader of Israel.

Now Joshua was a warrior and firmly entrenched in that posture so much so that he confronted the angel of God’s army and demanded to know who’s side he was on ( Joshua 5:13-14). Prior to this, God told Joshua that He was with him, would not abandon him and everywhere his foot trod He would give him the land. This book also talks of Caleb being over 80 and not weary, but still eager to take possession of God’s promise. Two things stand out. The first is if we walk with God HE will give us what has been promised. Secondly if we don’t let age be an excuse to no longer take possession you will see great things. A third thing that the account of Joshua shows me is that Yahweh fought the lions share of all the battles for Israel. Joshua had his role to play and did so with obedience. Through that Yahweh did the heavy work in giving the promised land to Israel.

The take away is even though Rocky Mount might seem as a desert wilderness right now, it does not have to remain as such. To bring the change we must walk with God in unity. We must start proclaiming, speaking, as if things already are even when we don’t see them. We have to start declaring higher graduation rates, lower addiction rates, lower unemployment, higher paying jobs, new manufacturing, Godly people on the seats of city council and Kingdom minded people leading the local churches. We must start proclaiming confusion and hindrances to the local gangs and human trafficking rings and speak about the new revival that will sweep the area and break the old curses brought on by the cities fathers sins that keep getting passed from generation to generation until a generation dares to stand up and say enough is enough and break the back of segregated worship! This goes to even small things like talking about the great service you will get at Olive Garden or San Jose instead of saying service is always bad in the Mount, might as well go to Wilson.

Ladies and gentleman, it can be done and done by a small number of people.  A remanent like the 120 praying in one accord for days waiting on the promise Jesus said He would send in the opening of Acts. The ones who prayed until Pentecost broke out, shaking the establishment religion and ushering in over 2,000 years of a whole new kind of church. Who is tired of the status quo and ready for the adventure of turning a city upside down to reclaim a promised inheritance?

Andy

What if we are looking at the 5 fold ministry gifts wrong?

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The concept of the “Five Fold Ministry Gifts” comes from Ephesians 4:11 where it says ” Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastors and teachers”. The term “five fold ministry gifts” comes from man alone. That term is not used in scripture, it’s just a catchy phrase to sum this up without listing them all off when discussing them. I don’t have a problem with the term “five fold”, my issue is the premise that only a few get the gifts by election.

Some translations read “He gave some….”, others say “He gifted some to be….”, the Passion translation says “He appointed some with grace to be….” while others simply say “He (speaking of Christ) gave to the church…”

Of the various translations I find a combination of “He gave to the church” and “He appointed some with grace” to be the most consistent with the rest of the New Testament. If we look at it like this, He gave to the church those whom He gave grace to be …, we will get a better understanding of what Paul was saying.

When we phrase it as “gave some” it denotes an election by someone or something. Was the election by man or by Yahweh? If we say they were given by God to some, why do we have church and denominational boards to determine who has what gift? Why do they look at the external package and talents to determine? If we say man determines who has which of these gifts then that would be consistent with the above mentioned entities telling this one you have it and that one you don’t just because they look the type and have talents that closely resemble a certain gift.

Jesus made it clear that those who answer the call, die to themself, and follow Him at any cost all the days of their life are gifted with talents (gifts). A precedent is also established in scripture that Yahweh does not care what a person looks like, what they do, have done, live, have lived, stutter, not stutter and educated or not educated. He has made a practice of using the least likely and least remarkable to do the impossible so the praise will go to Him. Scripture also tells us not to worry what to say, that when the time comes the Holy Spirit will speak for you. We claim we know that Yahweh’s grace is sufficient for every situation for those who are in obedience to His will. Despite this we still have highly educated people evaluating others to deem them fit for what they themselves are not doing and have not done. How many people have been legitimately called by the Lord to something and people talk them out of it claiming they aren’t qualified?

Given this, I do not believe the “Five Fold Ministry Gifts” are just for certain people or that certain elect get two gifts bestowed on them. I also contend, in an unpopular opinion in many circles, that there are still apostles. If the position of apostle was only valid for those who walked with Jesus then we have two problems. The first, how does Paul claim to be an apostle? I’ve heard different dances around this centering on He was a witness to the life of Jesus. That holds as much water as a spaghetti strainer when the next question is posed. Secondly, if apostle was only good for the 12 plus Paul, why list it? By listing it, then man discounting it as not valid opens the door to say other passages of scripture are not valid for today. After all, things today are not the same as they were 2,000 years ago. This is a slippery slope that bit us on the marriage issue and will continue to bite us. We can not quote verses and say the entirety of scripture is good for learning and rebuke then turn around and say “well this one…it doesn’t apply” simply because we haven’t experienced it, understand it or like it.

So, what if the grace to be any of these gifts was given to anyone when it was needed to edify and build up the church? What if those who were unabashedly sold out, 100% committed to Christ with no regard to the cost, were in a position where the Holy Spirit was free to release anyone of these gifts at the right time in any follower? I say those who walk fully in the Spirit have that grace and it is not accepted nor understood by religion.

See, religion can not control the gifts when Yahweh decides to release them. Religion can not control when it happens. It can not control how it happens, what it looks like and who it comes through. Religion tried to have its way and claimed Jesus was so unorthodox and such a threat to them they killed Him. Religion still tries to stifle the Spirit in a bid to maintain control in the erroneous belief that they know best. This is why we have so many churches and ministries concerned with performance and appearance over the power of His presence. I will take a group under the bridge, in the woods, in an old theater or the Wal-Mart parking lot any day over religion! Everywhere religion has a stronghold there is difficulty and poverty. When religion is chucked and presence is embraced signs and wonders follow.

Afterall, Paul walked in all five gifts. When a gift was needed it was there. This was due to his faithfullness to Jesus and comittment to not being distracted by outside influence. Nowhere in any translation of the Bible can I find where it says that God will not give like kind giftings to others like Paul. It’s up to us to determine how bad we want to be used. How important is it to be truly set apart.

Andy

The many insights to the parable of the prodigal son.

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The parable of the Prodigal Son is well-known to anyone who has been in church for any length of time. There’s a lot of lessons that can be taken from the story. Some are obvious, some not so much and some just plain overlooked. For some the most obvious lesson is the prodigal son because your Bible has a headline over that section calling it that. It automatically gears your brain to see what the title tells you to see. This is a common flaw in most English translations that I wish was not there.

The entire thought of Luke chapter 15 is the master, father, owner, shepherd not allowing the ” one ” to be lost without going to great lengths to get that one back. It’s to give the image of God, Yahweh, the Father’s desire to make sure not one is lost, but all have the opportunity to come back to Him. The interesting thing about this section of chapter 15 is the title of ” Prodigal Son “. The only person in the parable that considered the son a prodigal was the brother. I’ll come back to that later.

The most obvious lesson here is the son taking what he felt was his and going away from home to live how he wanted to live. When things dried up and he was scrounging slop from the pig pen he realized he should go home. It was better to be a servant there than a slave where he was currently. This indicates the relationship with the father was such that the son was confident that his dad would take him back as a hired hand at the very least. He didn’t feel as if he was banished and unwelcome to return. Those two lessons are of great importance for all parents, especially fathers. Kids will eventually strike out and some will do so without your blessing. Some will fail and want to come back. Your attitude towards them, your actions when they leave is a determining factor on whether they feel they can come back to set things straight. The revelation of how things were with his father and the willingness to come back would not have happened if the father was not loving and caring.

The second lesson is the devotion of the father. He didn’t stand in the way of his son leaving despite wisdom gained from life telling him it was a bad idea. While the son was gone the father continued to watch for his sons return. Nowhere does it say the father sat in judgement over the sons poor decisions. It doesn’t say he lectured the son when he got back. It says he ran to his son when he saw him coming and embraced him. It goes on to say that he put all the things back on his son that showed everyone his position in the family. He didn’t make his son work for the forgiveness asked for. Instead the father gave quickly and restored him to his former place.

These first two lessons are perfect illustrations of how God the Father acts. He doesn’t stop us from wandering off. When we do He will not allow to stay gone in peace. Through prompting from the Holy Spirit, what we call a guilty conscience, to stop and go back. Through a series of events that allow us to hit rock bottom to bring us to our senses. Whatever the means He will allow to happen to bring us back. He will not condemn us when we return and truly repent seeking forgiveness. Instead He quickly restores us to our rightful place as heirs to the throne, a royal priesthood – His child, not a servant.

The third lesson is one we don’t really look at with western eyes. I’ve read the story numerous times, but until I was shown this through a book titled ” Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes ” did I see the significance of verses 14-16 where it talks about a great famine sweeping through the land that caused great hunger and very difficult times where one had to struggle for survival. In the Western world we glance over the famine reference because we can not relate to a true famine. When someone from the Middle East, Asia Minor or Africa read this they completely understand the significance of the famine. Without the famine life might not have become so miserable that the son wanted to go home. He might have fought it out and made a life for himself. As it were the famine came taking away all options but returning to the father.

What a perfect picture of our relationship with the Father Yahweh and our own stubbornness! We will fight kicking ans screaming trying to do it our way, trying to pave our own road. Eventually when things get so bad that we are truly at wit’s end, bottom of the barrel with no other options we return to the Father who has been waiting for us to make what should have been our first choice.

The last lesson I’m going to highlight is the reaction of the brother. When the brother came to realize who the party was for he was more than angry. Notice the brother is noted as being the ” older ” one. The older one in this culture was the rightful heir, the one with greater responsibility and rights. When the younger was recognized and celebrated he allowed jealousy to rule his emotions. His response says it all. He was angry that his father was celebrating the son that abandoned them while he ” slaved ” for the father. See, he had a slaves mindset, not a mindset of a son ( sonship ). Because he had the mindset of a slave he could not rejoice because, in his view, another slave who did less should not be recognized.

What I find interesting is the older son proclaiming that his brother spent the money on prostitutes. How did he know that? He had yet to talk to his brother and didn’t know he was back yet. The only way he knew was if he was engaged in gossip, spying on his brother and getting reports or took time away for a quick trip himself. When we get mad and our sense of whats fair gets trampled on by someone who we know was living in sin we point it out. ” Well you know they were hanging out with those crack heads “, ” you know he was drinking with that woman ” and so on. What business is it of yours? If God accepted them back with forgiveness and they truly repented then all is good. If you are not walking in the same level of favor, faith and worship then something is out of place in your life.

How often do we see ” Christians ” get upset, uppity and offended by someone walking in blessing that just a short time ago was living like the prodigal? How often do we hear grumblings of ” I’ve done all this work “, ” I’ve always been faithful to God “, ” I’ve tithed every week ” followed by a variation of ” they don’t deserve it, who do they think they are! “. They don’t think they are anybody, they know they are a redeemed child of God and have fully accepted their forgiveness. They are not stuck in religion that tells them they have to work and perform for God’s favor like the oldest son thought.

Read Luke 15, the whole chapter without reading the headlines over each section. Honestly, read the entire Bible like that. Ignore, black out, find a Bible that doesn’t have them, but read it without someone else’s comments on what the section means and see what the Lord wants you to see. You might be surprised at what you find.

Andy

What did Jesus mean when He said “turn the other cheek”?

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When Jesus gave what is dubbed “The Sermon on the Mount” He gave a peculiar instruction that defies human nature. To be honest the whole Sermon on the Mount goes against human nature, but the one to turn the other cheek is hard to swallow. What did He mean exactly when He said that? Was He saying when someone hits you to not defend yourself, but allow them to hit you again?

The whole sermon deals with our actions and reactions from the heart. We are prone to react in a very un-spiritual way when sued, forced to do something we don’t want to for someone we don’t like, when slandered and especially when assaulted. The reactions He is instructing are so radical that we must have His spirit in us to respond in these ways. Almost everyone says they will never turn the other cheek when hit, that they will defend themself against violence.

Mathew chapter 5, in context, gives a different outlook to verse 39. To get the proper context you have to read the entire chapter as one thought, one line of thinking to arrive at a given point. Verse 39 relies heavily on a custom of the day that involved getting hit on the right cheek, not being assaulted with the intent of bodily harm. If the intent was to allow evil people to beat a believer with the believer giving no resistance Jesus would not have instructed His disciples in Luke 22:36 to sell their cloak and buy a sword.

In that time period the ultimate insult for someone to give was a backhand on the right cheek. It was worse than being spit on or at. What Jesus doesn’t want us doing is trying to defend ourselves against insult, criticism and rumour. He’ll do that for us in time. The meaning of turn the other cheek is to let them continue showing their true colors and your character testifying to the I AM.

That’s the same reasoning behind verses 40 – 48. It’s to show you are set apart from the world. It’s to show that you live under the influence and discipline of the Spirit, not man. It’s to be set apart, peculiar, different to attract people. We can’t attract people when we act like everyone around us. There’s no allure or testimony to the power of Christ in that. Everything we are instructed to do is for the purpose of glorifying Him.