Episode 17: Running the Race (ft. Dr David Alan Black)

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In this episode, Abidan Paul Shah will be talking with Dr. David Alan Black about his newest book “Running My Race: Reflections on Life, Loss, Aging, and Forty Years of Teaching.” It’s about learning to deal with the pains of life in a way that draws us closer to the heart of God. Both laypeople and scholars will benefit from this book.

If you have any questions or topics you would like to be discussed, please tweet them to @hoipolloiradio.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Two

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy2This morning we are in part two of our miniseries from the Beatitudes titled “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.”

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: “You have heard…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Before we can unpack this passage, we need to lay down some foundations regarding marriage. Last weekend we laid down the first layer of foundation that, at its core, marriage teaches us about God. Through marriage we understand God’s image, through marriage we receive God’s gift for companionship, and through marriage we encounter the great mystery of the relationship between Christ and the church. But all of that is marriage as it relates to God, just the first layer of the foundation.

This morning we will look at the second layer of the foundation, which is marriage as it relates between a man and a woman – two individuals created in the image of God, basically the same in many ways and yet polar opposites in others. Who is superior? The man is infinitely superior to the woman in being a man and the woman is infinitely superior to the man in being a woman. They’re both wonderful but different.

Would you agree with that statement – “Men and Women are different”? In 1992 a book came out titled “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. Nobody could have predicted that this book would become a best seller. It went on to sell over 9.5 million copies! Why? Because it attempted to answer one of the greatest questions of all times – how to understand my husband or my wife? That is a tough question! Illustration: Once upon a time a man was walking along the beach and came across a bottle in the sand. He pulled out the cork and out came a genie in a cloud of smoke. This is just a story. To thank the man the genie offered him one free wish. “Well,” said the man, “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I’m afraid to fly and just thinking about going by ship makes me queasy. Would you mind building a road to Hawaii?” The genie said, “Man, that’s a lot of work. I’ll have to build pilings going down to the ocean floor and bring in tons of material and concrete. And the distance is over 2000 miles. Do you have another wish instead?” The man thought for a second and then said, “I’ve been trying to understand my wife. What makes her laugh and cry and what makes her mad? Do you think you help me figure out my wife and how she thinks?” The genie said, “Would you like the highway to be two lanes or four?”

We joke about it but in many homes it’s not a laughing matter. Those very differences that at first seemed so attractive, cool, and cute become in time so annoying, frustrating, and “so not worth it.” Nobody gets up one morning and decides – “I think I’m gonna cheat on my spouse.” It’s the consequence of months and years of failing to understand the opposite sex, appreciating the differences, and working through the problems. Let me ask you some questions: How do you see your spouse? Do you understand and appreciate the differences? Or do you see your spouse as a strange creature? Do you see your spouse as God’s gift specifically designed for you? Do you see your spouse as your enemy? Are you saved? You need Him in your marriage.

This morning we will try to understand how men and women are different. But first, let me make it clear that what I am sharing is generally true. There are men out there who can sew and knit and there are women out there who can kick my tail.

  1. Different Physically

Men are generally stronger than women. On an average, men are 10% bigger than women with 20% more body mass. Men have 90% greater upper body strength and 65% greater lower body strength. On an average, a man is stronger than 99.9% of women. Why did God make man this way? Listen to Genesis 2:15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Adam’s job was to provide for Eve and protect her. Hence, men build muscle easily, bruise less easily, and have thicker skin and thicker skull. They have broader shoulders and stronger bones. They are able to throw things farther. They are built for physical confrontation. That’s why men love aggressive sports and movies. Ladies – no matter how much you try to change him and put him in a tutu, that’s not how God has wired him.

How about women? Because women, on an average, are smaller than men, they have less blood flowing through their system than men. On an average, women have about 0.875 gallons of blood while men have 1.5 gallons. Also, the erythrocyte density (Red Blood Corpuscles) is about 20% less than men. What happens when there is a drop in the temperature? The women’s body is so designed that blood flow to the skin and extremities shuts off and is directed to the vital organs in order to maintain their core temperature at 37 degrees. (If temperature falls below 35 degrees, it can cause hypothermia.) Why all this? God has placed this protective mechanism in women so they can protect their unborn children and family. That’s why a woman’s core body temperature on average is 0.4 degrees higher than a man’s body temperature but their hands and feet are freezing cold! On an average, it is 2.8° lower than man’s hand temperature.

For e.g. During the winter Nicole will often tell me – “it’s cold!” Then she’ll stick her hand on my face – “Feel this!” And in bed – she’ll stick her feet on me! It’s like a block of ice!

For e.g. Even at church – women are cold and the men are hot. Why? Because we are built that way! Ladies – “Yall can put on a jacket but what’s the alternative for men? Sit in their underwears!” Why do I flail my hands and vary my tone? To keep the men awake!

What else? Women have a softer skin than men. They have a thin layer of subcutaneous fat (under the skin) that keeps their skin feeling softer and smoother. Any wonder, a baby cries and dad picks him up and he/she cries even more. Then, mom picks him up and he/she stops crying and looks at the dad! What the baby is saying is she feels more comforting! But, because of this thin layer of celluloid it’s easier for women to gain weight and harder to lose weight. Men – be understanding.

What else? Men have a lot of energy but women are built for the long run. Why? Men have to finish their task in daylight but women have to take care of their children and family all day and all night. Men – be understanding and don’t say your wife is lazy.

Knowing all these physical differences, how should be we behave towards each other? Listen to 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Meaning: Ladies – you are called the weaker vessel. That does not mean “lesser.” Let your husband be the man that God has designed Him to be. Husbands – knowing that women are weaker than us, be understanding towards your wife and honor her. What if you don’t? God will not listen to your prayers.

Application: Men – are you treating your wife with understanding? Are you treating her with honor? Women – are you trying to make your husband something he is not? Do you respect him?

  1. Different Psychologically
Men and women brain 2013 study

Men and Women Brain Study 2013 (Credit: Ragini Verma, PhD, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

A human brain has a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Right brain – imagination, intuition, feelings, non-verbal communication, etc. Left Brain – Logic, analysis, linear mathematics, sequencing, facts, etc. Men primarily use the left side of their brain while women use both. People have tried to dismiss that for some time but in 2013 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a major study using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging which confirmed that there is big difference in the way men use their brain and women use their brain. In studying about 1000 brain scans they noticed that there is greater neural connectivity from front to back within one hemisphere in males that facilitates connectivity between perception and coordinated action. On the other hand, the wiring in females goes between the left and right hemispheres, which facilitates communication between the analytical and intuition.

This is what it means – because of how men are wired, they are task oriented, avoid their feelings, and focus on the facts and because of how women are wired, they are better at intuition, remembering things, sharing their feelings, and emotionally involved. This is why – Men cannot multitask but women can. Nicole has to constantly tell me to stop and look at her. Women have better intuition than men. So many times she has told me “I don’t know what it is but there’s something not right about this person.” How? They are picking up information from the left and the right brain.

What else? On an average, men are more practical and women are more sentimental. In order to protect and provide for the family, men had to be more in touch with facts. In order to nurture and comfort the children, women had to be more in touch with their feelings. Hence, men are more pragmatic and women are more romantic. Nicole often tells me – “You used to be so romantic back we were dating. What happened?” “I had a goal to marry you. Mission accomplished.” Men – we need to show romance even though we have our wives now. Ladies – please be patient with the men. They’ll try harder. Listen to Colossians 3   18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Every week Nicole and I take time to go on a date. I’m very busy and so is she but this is our way of meeting each other’s needs. She listens to my facts and I try my best to be romantic.

Let me make a quick point here – there’s an application here for the church. This is why the Bible always has male leadership in the Temple and in the church. Because when it comes to spiritual truth men are better at following facts. “Thus says the Lord.” That’s it. Women, on the other hand, are willing to say – “Do what makes you happy.” “God understands your heart.” By the way, there is a difference between male heretics and female heretics. Male heretics – there is no God or Jesus is not God’s Son or the Bible has mistakes. Female heretics – “there are many ways to God” or “we should not judge anyone.” But what would happen if the church was nothing but men? We would kill each other! It’s women who create opportunities to fellowship.

  1. Equal Spiritually

Even though men and women are different physically and psychologically and even though we have different roles in the home and the church, we have the same equal standing before God. Both men and women are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is the Savior for all. When we receive Him into our lives, we become one in Christ.

Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Are you saved? Is Christ at the center of your home and your marriage? Today you can invite Him and He will bring wisdom and grace and patience and compassion and all the things that you need.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

keepingintimacyinmarriageAs you know very well we are in our series on the Sermon on the Mount. Many of y’all have shared with me that you didn’t realize how much was packed into this simple message by Jesus. No wonder, one time pastor of Westminster Chapel G. Campbell Morgan called it “The Manifesto of the King.” This morning we begin a new miniseries from Matthew 5 titled – “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.”

Matt. 5:27   “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

Overall Background: What we just read is the 2nd of the 6 Antitheses that Jesus gave in His sermon. The first one, as you remember, was, “You have heard that it was said…‘You shall not murder…But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…” Now the second one – “You have heard that it was said…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It’s amazing to me that right after raising the bar on murder, Jesus turns His attention towards adultery! I would’ve expected Jesus to raise the bar on pride or greed or faithlessness or prayerlessness. Instead, he raises the bar on marriage.

This is very important to understand: While our culture is doing all it can to degrade, downgrade, and devalue marriage, God has always tried to uphold, exalt, and honor marriage. Ever since the beginning of time human beings have tried to tear down this God-given institution of marriage. By the way, the assault has never been so intense as it is at this point in history. What is needed is a biblical, Christ centered, Holy Spirit enlightened, God honoring, world denying, Devil defying view of Marriage.

Question: What do you think about marriage? What image comes to your mind when the word “marriage” is spoken or written? Do you look at it positively or negatively? Does it bring up good emotions or bad emotions? How is your marriage right now? Where do you get your understanding of marriage? Hollywood? Washington? Media? Friends? Family? Community? If it is coming from anywhere other than the word of God, your understanding is warped/distorted/skewed. To make a marriage what it was intended to be, you need not just 2 people but 3 – man, woman, and God. To have that third person in your life, you have to come through Jesus Christ. Are you saved?

What we’re doing this morning is laying out the foundation for this series. Without the proper foundation, you will be unable to understand why Jesus raised the bar on marriage. 3 things about marriage:


Genesis 1   26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Background: Before God ordained the church or any human institution He established marriage. Why did he establish marriage? Was it simply for our benefit? To enjoy each other; to have companionship; to have children; to fill the earth. Yes, He did it for those reasons but the primary reason was much more. It was to give us a glimpse of Himself.

Listen again to verse 26“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Did you notice how God repeatedly refers to himself in the plural? Some people have tried to argue that it is an old Hebraic construction or some Royal “Us.” Not true. If that were the case, we would see it every time that God referred to himself. Instead, when God is getting ready to give us a glimpse of Himself, He refers to Himself as “Us” and “Our.” What does that tell us about God? It tells us that God is more than one person.

But, just when you think God is multiple gods, listen again to verse 27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.” Did you notice that it doesn’t say – “so God created man in their own image; in the image of God they created them. Why not? Because even though God is more than one person, he is still one in being and essence. He is still one God. It’s a mystery. We can’t really understand it but we can illustrate it. How? Ice, water, and vapor? No. Shamrock? No.

God’s illustration of Himself is the Marriage. First, God made 2 similar but distinct human beings. Listen once again to verse 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Think about it – a man and a woman are fundamentally the same but we’re also different – emotionally, physically, and physiologically. In our culture, we are relentlessly trying to neutralize these factors by psychologically brainwashing our perceptions and physically mutilating our bodies. We’re not progressing but regressing! It is not a sign of being advanced but a sign of becoming a savage or barbaric. But in God’s creation it is man and woman, same in essence but distinct in person.

That’s only part of the illustration. Listen to Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” When a man joins to a woman in marriage they are together reflecting the likeness of God. God is more than one person and yet one being and essence.

Question: Why is same-sex marriage such an abomination to God? Why does Paul refer to homosexuality as the last step on the way down? Because it fundamentally misrepresents the image of God.

For e.g. Does it bother you when people misrepresent or misunderstand you? So also it bothers God when we misrepresent Him! It makes him angry! He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because they misrepresented him.

Here’s a question – why didn’t God just come out and say, “I am Trinity – There’s father, here’s Son, and over there is the Holy Spirit. We’re three in persons but one in essence”? Why go through all this trouble with marriage? Because its like a newborn baby crying for food. What do you do? Either the mom nurse’s the baby or feeds a bottle of milk. Why don’t we just give him a baked potato with extra butter and sour cream and a nice juicy steak? That would hold him/her for a while! Because the baby is not ready for it. So also, God in His divine wisdom and plan knew that too much information would have overwhelmed us. So He revealed Himself in bite size. Just like marriage it takes times to understand and grow into the knowledge of that Oneness of God.


Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Background: Up to this point God kept saying “It was good” but now “It is not good.” Since He made us in his image, in his likeness, He knows how we function. God is Trinity. There is companionship in the Godhead between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God knew that Adam needed fellowship as well. Of course, God fellowshipped with Adam but Adam needed someone on his level. Hence, God decided to make a helper comparable to Adam. Listen to verse 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. Meaning: None of those animals made the cut. Adam realized that he could not connect with any of them emotionally or physically. God knew that but He wanted Adam to get it.

Genesis 2 21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.” Adam did not know what was happening. He was asleep and thank goodness for that! If it was up to us, who knows what we would’ve come up with! 22 Then the rib (it just means a portion from his side and not necessarily a rib) which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman…” The actual word is “fashioned.” It means that the woman was built for a unique purpose. “…and He brought her to the man.”

The big question is how would Adam receive this woman. She is made from him. She is like him but she is different. Listen to Adam’s response: 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Not only is Adam approving this new being, He is also demonstrating a powerful principle for all Adams to come. Eve had done nothing so far to gain Adam’s acceptance but he chose to accept her as God’s perfect gift for him.

Question: How do you accept your spouse? Husbands – do you accept your wives as God’s perfect gift for you? Wives – do you accept your husbands as God’s perfect gift for you? Do you base your acceptance on their performance? Do you base your acceptance on their past? As an act of your will, you must receive your spouse as God’s perfect gift for you. It is easier said than done. Only by the grace of God you can do that.


Ephesians 5 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Background: This is one of the most profound passages in the entire Bible. Marriage is described as a great mystery. It is compared to the relationship of Christ and the church. Just as husband is the head of the wife so also Christ is the head of the church. Just as the church is subject to Christ so also the wife should be to her own husbands.

Listen carefully – Marriage is a physical demonstration of a spiritual reality. The way I lead my life should reflect the way Christ leads the church. The way my wife submits to me is how the church should submit to Christ. Our model for marriage is not parents, grandparents, some romantic movie, some romance novel, or even our personal fantasy. Our model for marriage is Christ’s relationship to the church.

Application: What are you basing your marriage on?

This might be a tough message for some of you. You’ve been through divorce, separation, and a difficult marital situation. This message is not meant to add more guilt and pain to you. This is to remind you that the only marriage that comes to perfection is the one of Christ to His church. Even here, the only partner who is truly faithful to His part is Christ and not the church. Many times we are unfaithful, unwilling to submit, and downright ungrateful but He still loves us.

Application: No matter where you are ask God for His grace in your marriage. Are you saved?

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