PRAYING FOR MARRIAGES – Ray Beckman

Praying for Marriages

It was a pleasant Sunday and five college students were sightseeing in London when they decided to hear the famed C. H. Spurgeon preach. Arriving at the huge church they sat on the steps and waited for the doors to open. While chatting among themselves a man from the congregation came by and greeted them and engaged them in pleasant conversation. After a while he asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” The young men were not particularly interested, as a heating plant was not on the top of their list of things they wanted to visit. Besides it was fast becoming an extremely hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people quietly bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

If you’re a regular at St James, you will know that we have been spending a great deal of the past few months focusing on one of our core values, prayer. Amongst other things we have been encouraging you to pray the Bible – in particular the promises of God. Another key focus area has been marriage. With the help of Paul Tripp’s excellent series ‘What did you expect?’, many of us have had the opportunity to give more tlc to this precious gift of marriage.

I would like to, for the purposes of this article, ‘marry the two’ (if you’ll excuse the pun;). In other words, what should we be praying for marriage? If you’re married, what should you be praying for and with each other? If you’re not married, what should you be praying for other people’s marriages? What a vital, ‘church family’ activity to be constantly engaged in together in the midst of a world full of broken, painful and strained relationships. How we need many filled ‘heating plants’ of people praying for each other in these matters!

Here, then, are some things I want to encourage God’s community to pray for, in the light of that most well known passage on marriage, Ephesians 5:15-33. Take time to read and reflect on it, and draw out specific things to pray for. I have purposely started from v15, to remind us that Paul has set these examples of specific relationships (husbands and wives -5:22-33; children and parents-6:1-4; slaves and masters -6:5-9) in the context of mutual love and submission that God calls us to display as His people.

Here are some prayer priorities I have drawn out from the passage:
WE MUST PRAY:

  • And give thanks to God for his gift of biological and Christian family
  • That we will all be a people passionate to walk in love and holiness, and not be afraid to hold each other accountable
  • That Christian couples recognize how crucial it is to serve and be served in the local church
  • That wives understand and model Christ’s submission, and not be persuaded by the world that biblical submission is archaic, sexist or unenlightened
  • That husbands understand and model Christ’s love more and more, and that they not allow the world’s idea of love to ‘squeeze them into its mould’
  • That husbands will stand up, be bold, and work hard at their role as godly, loving heads, and lead their family’s walk into holiness and Christ-likeness
  • That Christian husbands and wives will ‘fight on their knees’ before God, and guard their oneness
  • That Christian married couples embrace more deeply the implications of their marriage being a picture of Christ and His church.
  • For the witnessing opportunities that marriage brings both inside and outside the home
  • And give thanks for how God leads and nourishes His church
Ray Beckman

RISEN – A REVIEW – Jacques Erasmus

 

RISEN – A REVIEW by Jacques Erasmus

There’s an old saying: “All that glitters is not gold.”

It’s a reminder that appearances are not everything and often do not reveal the true nature of a thing. To be honest, that’s often how I feel when Hollywood tries to put the Bible on the big screen. It may glitter but it certainly isn’t gold!

After watching Noah and seeing the trailer of Exodus: God’s and King’s, two movies that failed entirely in biblical accuracy, my expectation was not that high for the new movie Risen, but I was pleasantly surprised and emotionally moved by it.

The resurrection is at the very heart of the message of the gospel. The Apostle Paul emphasized this when he said: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Corinthians 15:17). As a Christian and one who loves movies, I would say that this movie ‘glitters’ as a friend to that message, though it is not ‘gold’.

The movie looks at the story of the resurrection from the perspective of a sceptic. Like a detective mystery set in ancient times, the movie centres around a Roman soldier named Clavius and his aide, a young and zealous soldier named Lucius, as they are tasked by Pontius Pilate to investigate the whereabouts of Jesus’ body.

Since the story depicted in the movie is about a fictional Roman tribune encountering the risen Christ, there is a lot of subject-matter in the movie which is not in Scripture, thus not ‘gold’. However, when he interviews and encounters individuals mentioned in Scripture, it is as if he encounters the events recorded in the last three chapters of John.

Clavius also often spends time with Pilate or elsewhere in fictional scenes which may or may not have happened, though the fictional events are definitely within the realm of possibility. However, when Clavius encounters the Disciples for the first time, he basically stumbles upon the second manifestation of the risen Lord wherein Thomas is able to see and touch Christ’s hands and side. (John 20:26-28)

A WORD OF CAUTION

Whenever we encounter extra-Biblical dialogues in movies we need to tread carefully.

The same goes with this movie.

Of course Jesus words in Scripture are not the only words Jesus spoke while on earth, Scripture tells us so (John 21:25). But, when thinking or imagining words He might have said, we begin to contemplate words which are not in the text, and I think this can be dangerous as it undermines Sola Scriptura. In other words, do not take these extra-Biblical words as authoritative or accurate in any way.

However, this movie did a good job of reducing the number of times Jesus (the actor) actually speaks, and most of the time he speaks he is saying that which is found in Scripture. There is one scene though, where this representation of Jesus is talking to Clavius, and it is here that extra-Biblical dialogue is introduced. Yet, it is introduced in an evangelistic fashion, which fits perfectly with the nature of this movie as being a ‘glittering’ friend to the message of the gospel.

The part that I did struggle with at first was the portrayal of the elite Roman sentry that stood guard at the tomb. They are portrayed as being two soldiers without sleep and who were drunk. This they said was the reason they “slumbered.”

What I appreciated though about their portrayal is that, later, one of them, telling the truth now, said they saw a bright light. He tells it in such a way that it shows him seeking understanding, even asking Clavius to explain it to him.

I also appreciate, in the portrayal Caiaphas, the deviousness of Caiaphas and how they devised the lie about the disciples taking the body of Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the directors did a good job and they were sensitive to material actually found in Scripture. This places the movie in contrast to most others faith based movies. Remain discerning though, while watching it and do not allow the movie to influence your perception of the true Christ, rather let the Scriptures themselves influence your understanding of Christ. View it as a reminder of the Gospel and a depiction of a heart-warming testimony about a sinner in rebellion against God being called to share in the riches of Christ.