Marriage Sanctity Straight From the Pages of Genesis

God had just finished creating the earth and everything in it, and it was good. Except for one thing— God saw that it was not good for the man He’d created to be alone.

In the beginning, Adam was alone.

God had just finished creating the earth and everything in it, and it was good. Except for one thing— God saw that it was not good for the man He'd created to be alone. Genesis 2:18 tells us:

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

So, God called the animals He'd created to Adam. Adam named them, but after all that, it was obvious that God hadn't yet found what He was looking for. So, he decided to put Adam to sleep. Genesis 2:21-24 says:

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Of course, it all went downhill from there with the whole fall of man thing, but that's not the point. In Genesis, God pointed out to us a foundational principle of our souls: it's not good for us to be alone. That could also apply to surrounding ourselves with Godly people, but that's not the point of what I'm writing to you either. In the beginning, God established the idea of marriage. He also established its sanctity, because if two people become one flesh, you can't separate them. That's why marriage is so important. One man, one woman, for life. Today, however, marriage has been devalued to the point where it's almost comical. With this suddenly popular idea of gender fluidity and self-defined truth, God's original purpose for marriage has been lost to us. God's Word is eternal and unchanging, but we have foolishly thought that we could redefine marriage. That's not our place. God set it up, and we can't knock down a foundation that God built. That's foolish. If I told you, "Hey bro, try and push over the Empire State Building by yourself with your bare hands," you probably would laugh. That's what we're doing. We, in comparison to God, are gnats. In fact, we're lower than gnats. We are powerless; we only have the fleeting power that He allows us to have.

Marriage is God's idea, and he didn't design something that foundational as a fluid idea. That's a human fallacy. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Not a whole lot of leeway there.

One man. One woman. For life. That's how God designed it. Even basic anatomy cries out to this fact. Gender fluidity and homosexual marriage are just perversions of God's initial plan. That's just how it is.

Missing Out on God’s Grand, Whimsical Adventure

After a terrifying episode involving being asked to dance by a stranger, I learned an important lesson about my “comfort zone.”

A couple months ago, I read a book that redefined how I looked at my life. I posted on it previously— A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The crux of the book was living life like it was a story. It’s a difficult concept to explain in one or two sentences, so I’ll just link to my previous post on the subject. 

https://spencerrayart.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/its-not-about-the-destination-its-about-the-journey/

God has a grand, whimsical adventure set out for us. After reading the book, I knew I had to live differently. The status quo wasn’t gonna work anymore. I had to get out there and live adventurously. Take risks. To find God in the most whimsical situations. There was one big problem— I’m actually pretty reserved. I don’t like taking risks. I, like most humans, am afraid of change. My comfort zone is, well, comfortable. I don’t want to leave it.

This all came to a head a couple weeks ago. While on a Destin, Florida vacation, my family and I were walking through the Harborwalk Village boardwalk.

This place.

Down a ways on the boardwalk, there was a free concert going on. Two country music songwriters that had written some chart-toppers for bigger names were performing. I don’t listen to country, so I didn’t recognize the songs, and I also didn’t like some of the alcohol-heavy lyrics. So, I wasn’t having a great time. All of a sudden, a blonde young woman probably about my age got up and started dancing. She was inviting others to dance with her, mainly other girls and some 6-year-olds. It wasn’t just mindlessly dancing, either— it was closer to slow dancing. I avoided direct eye contact, mainly because I thought she was nuts. With an irony that could only have come from the Almighty, she came up to me and asked me to dance with her.

At this point, time froze. Since most of you don’t know me personally, you probably don’t know that I am not suave, and I am terrible in a sudden crisis. So, as this rather attractive young woman asked me, a single young man, to dance with her, I… froze up, and quickly shook my head no as a knee-jerk reaction. Immediately, I knew I’d most likely made a mistake. She moved on, asking my younger brother and my younger sister. They also said no. 

Now, I don’t suggest that you accept every strange offer you get, or that you accept an invitation to dance with every stranger you meet. What I was being asked to do wasn’t sinful. Again, you probably shouldn’t accept every strange offer that comes your way. The reason I felt bad is because I was too afraid to leave my comfort zone. I was too afraid to answer a call to adventure… not one that called me to something unsafe, but to something pretty harmless that would only end up giving me a good story to tell. 

So why do I talk about all this? As Christians, we can’t afford to be too shy. We can’t afford to hide in our shells. We’re called to “go forth and make disciples of all nations,” and being too afraid to leave our comfort zone will hinder that mission. Along with that, the stories of our lives can only be hindered by fear of change, by fear of leaving our comfort zone and following God’s grand, whimsical adventure. If we sit around in our comfort zones and ignore the call to adventure, we’ll never develop as characters. We’ll never change. We’ll be the same boring people we were before. When we feel God calling us to adventure, we can’t ignore it. We can’t just sit around in our nice, comfortable lives and get boring. If we hear a call, we should first pray. If you feel very strongly that God is telling you no, then don’t go. But, if you feel very strongly he’s saying yes, go for it. Adventure brings about character development. It teaches us things we never would have learned had we not gone. 
So, next time a pretty girl my age asks me to dance, will I say yes? I dunno. I’ll let God be the judge there. Will I start trying to leave my comfort zone, and answer the calls to adventure? Definitely.

Were you in Destin on the night of July 12th? Are you as scared of dancing as I am? Comment below!


Why I Unashamedly Love Duck Dynasty

I like Duck Dynasty a whole lot. Before you judge me, here’s why.

I’m going to preface this discussion with a statement. I am an avid meat-eater, but hunting isn’t my thing. I’ve only shot a gun twice, and absolutely hated it— I told my dad that even though I was shooting a nonliving target that it was the most violent thing I’d ever done and I never wanted to do it again. However, I have no problem with hunting, as long as it’s for food and not for sport. I understand why some Christians are vegetarian or vegan, and I respect them for it. 

Now on to Duck Dynasty. I may catch some flack for this (sue me), but it’s one of my favorite television programs of all time. I think it’s funny, it’s relatable, and it’s just full of good people. The Robertson family catches a lot of angry Tweets and Facebook comments for their views (conservative Christian ones), but I’m personally very happy that we had a Christian family on a mainstream television network for years, praying in Jesus’ name at the end of each meal. 

I also love the people it’s brought into the spotlight— unlike other reality tv shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it has introduced the public to wonderful people of faith. Just about all of the cast has written a book or two, and some like Jase’s book Good Call and John Luke’s book Young and Beardless have changed my life and my way of thinking. Sadie Robertson has been a wonderful influence on young girls (also unlike the Kardashians). The Robertson family is a just a bunch of good people with a lot of wisdom to share.

Sadly, the show has recently wrapped up after having a healthy run of 5 years. I sure hope the Robertsons stay in the public spotlight— spreading the Gospel, hunting for ducks, and being a light in the darkness of media and reality tv. 

The takeaway here? Well, I think you should read some of the amazing books the Robertson family has put out. Here are my favorites out of what I’ve read (I haven’t read all of the ones they’ve put out, for the record)—

  1. Young and Beardless by John Luke Robertson 
  2. Good Call by Jase Robertson
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God by Jep and Jessica Robertson

What do you think? Do you like Duck Dynasty? Have you read any of these books? Have you ever eaten duck? Let me know below! 

Retaliation, Vengeance and VeggieTales

How do we respond to those who mistreat us? With vengeance? With love?

I posted recently about my experiences with bullying and why Christians should build each other up instead of tearing each other down. I stand by that post still, but there's one part of the story I mentioned, but I feel deserves an extended look. Today, I'd like to talk about retaliation (or taking revenge). 

I'd like to direct your attention to an episode of VeggieTales. I can't help seeing the comparison here— I grew up basically addicted to the show (though not understanding the lessons until much later). The episode I'd like to refer to today is Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush

This episode was a parody of Indiana Jones (obviously) and it even had a theme song performed by THE CHARLIE DANIELS. No joke. https://youtu.be/CVoIkzGMnwM

In the episode, Larry (or Minnesota, I guess) tries to get back at his jerk nemesis, Professor Rattan, by bullying him back. He learns that if you bully a bully, that makes you a bully. When you say something mean back or hurt them back, you're stooping down to that level. You're now no better than them. It's the same reason Batman refuses to kill— it's crossing a line, and it means you're just as bad as those persecuting you. It's pretty meaty stuff for a VeggieTales episode, and I recommend you watch it.

When we're on the receiving end of abuse, our instinctive reaction is to retaliate. We start shooting back. When kids would pick on me, I'd pick back harder, and then I would get in trouble. Granted, the teachers weren't doing anything to help the issue (just perpetuating more by turning a blind eye to the cause of the issue), but they were right to get onto me for what I did. I can't remember where I heard it from, but I learned recently that we can't control our surroundings or what happens to us. The only thing we can control is how we react to those things. I'm not victimizing myself here— wrong was done to me, but I'll be the first to admit I wasn't innocent in the situation, either.

Back when I was being bullied, my hands weren't clean. I had even been a bully to others who didn't attack me first. Once you have a mindset of vengeance and retaliation, you begin to just attack everybody. Lines are blurred, and eventually you're picking fights with people who didn't really do anything  to you. Going back to the Batman analogy, it's a line you cross. Once you cross the line one time, it gets easier to cross the next time. And then easier the next time. And the next time. You get the picture. 

I read recently in Bob Goff's book Love Does that it's much easier to get defensive if you live with clenched fists. He offers that we instead lives with our palms up, because it's much harder to get defensive with your palms up. As Christians, we are supposed to be a light in the darkness. If we use Satan's tactics and try to get vengeance on those who wrong us, we're no better than them. What should we do instead, you ask? Kill them with kindness. Proverbs 25:21-22 says:

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. 

If you react lovingly and nonviolently, your enemies will see that there's something different about you. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. How about we start now? Two wrongs never make a right, but if you choose to do right to those who do you wrong, Christ's love and light shines through you. 

Lift People Up Instead of Tearing Them Down

In elementary school, I was bullied pretty hard. I was convinced that I was not good enough. That I was a failure. I was too short. I was too weak. I’d try to tell my teachers what was going on, but they didn’t care. Saving my sanity and my soul wasn’t part of their job description. So, they did nothing. The bullying continued. Just about all of my friends left. Those that didn’t— well, let’s just say they weren’t good company. They made disgusting, perverted remarks all the time, and I knew something was wrong. So I walked away.

The problem now was that I had nobody left. So, I began to sit alone at recess, with a clipboard and piece of paper. It was then I began to draw seriously. God used that dark time for good— I became serious about drawing. I’d always drawn growing up, but now I began to imagine whole worlds and stories. This was an important beginning. Back then, I didn’t see how God was using this situation. All I saw was that I was reviled and hated. So, I sat alone in the playground. Nobody told me there was a God I could turn to. I was in church, but I didn’t really hear what they were saying.

The bullying put me on an emotional roller coaster. I began to lash back at them verbally. My teachers only saw that, so I began to get into trouble. What I’d told them about what the other kids were doing didn’t matter. These teachers would act like they cared for me, but when I needed them they turned their backs. These weren’t bad people, but they had better things to do at the time than worry about one of their students going through hell on their watch. I quickly became a trainwreck, thinking that nobody really cared, and anything even slightly demeaning (even if it was just a joke) put me either in a defensive rage or a tearful meltdown. Even mild rudeness would push me over the edge. This happened throughout 5th and 6th grade. 

Last night, at a church event, somebody said something that made all these memories flood back this morning. What this person said was unprovoked and was very rude and offensive, as this person attacked my appearance. This wasn’t the first time it happened either— it’s a pretty regular occurence. I came home confused and offended. I forgave the offender, but I was confused. This person is a Christian— don’t Christians know better than this? 

Jesus commanded us to love one another. What this person said was hurtful. If we are to follow His commands, we must stop treating others like they are yesterday’s trash. We must stop saying intentionally offensive things to others. You can’t be a Christian bully. Build your siblings in Christ up— don’t tear them down. Words can either bring life or death. Choose to use your words to bring life. If you say you’re a Christian, and in the next breath put somebody down, you’re showing the opposite of God’s love— you’re working for the Enemy’s purposes. Show God’s love in all you do and say. Watch what you say. Build others up instead of tearing them down. 

Some Things I Learned From Being a Church Camp Counselor

This week, I volunteered as a teen counselor at a Christian church camp. What’d I learn?

So, my church puts on a very large 5-day church camp each year, and because I’m a foolish man, I signed up to be a teen counselor. I’d done it previously last year, and apparently I thought it was a good idea to do it again, and volunteered to work with 5th graders (boys, of course). Little did I know, this week would be much more life-changing for me than it seemed to be for the kids. I thought I’d share what I learned (and tell you what you can do with it.

1. Show love. It’s what Jesus would do.

I volunteered with fifth-grade boys. I’ll give you one guess how they behaved the first couple days. Yeah, it was bad. One kid especially quickly became the bane of my existence. 


Nope, not that Bane. Pretty close tho.

This kid rebelled in every way possible. Everything I said, he argued with it endlessly and did the opposite. He refused to do just about anything both me or the two adult counselors in my group told him to do. I won’t burden you with the details, but needless to say— he was a handful. Not only him, but all the other kids weren’t behaving well either. Instead of showing mercy and love (but still being authoritative), I focused only on dealing out punishment. On Wednesday (day 3) afternoon, the woman onstage teaching the kids said that “leadership wasn’t just bossing people around.” This changed my world. You can’t just tell them what they can’t do. You have to be encouraging. You have to be loving. You can’t focus on being God’s swift-and-terrible sword of judgement. While discouraging bad behavior is part of the job description, encouraging good behavior and being loving to the people you’re leading is, too.

2. Don’t try to do things on your own power. Turn to God when things get hard.

When I was having the most trouble, I would sit and complain about it or try to fix things by my own strengths or abilities. Therein was the flaw that kept any change from happening. I was trying to do it with Spencer’s (mine) power, not God’s. That whole time, I could have prayed for the situation to get better,  but instead I got bogged down in the frustration and didn’t even think about it. Pray to God when things get hard. It’ll do ya good.