Thursday, August 28, 2014

She Said, He Said

...male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27b

Life, as a dear friend of mine often reminds me, is messy. We are fallen people in a fallen world and, even as Christians, are tempted to worship at the idol of ME.

But God is merciful and one of my many blessings is a wife who loves me, tolerates me (which in many instances is the next best thing to love) and constantly looks to my well-being.

Proverbs 31:10-31 lays out the model for the "excellent wife," the woman who "fears the LORD."

I have been blessed to observe women who attain to this ideal. I have noted, as well, that as difficult as this mark is to achieve, it must be nearly impossible (but Matthew 19:26) without the love and diligent support of a dedicated husband.

As I discussed these thoughts with the afore-mentioned friend, he objected, "But that doesn't guarantee it will happen (to reach the Proverbs 31 goal)."

I disagree.

It's a marathon, of course. But God in His wisdom ordained it to be one man and one woman, for life. And in Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul lays out some fairly detailed instructions for wives and husbands. You may notice that the guys' instructions are twice as long as the gals'.

God in His wisdom has given us another indispensable tool (as I read it). A regular re-reading of the Song of Solomon is essential, it seems to me.

To meditate on the depth of love expressed here between the Bride and the Beloved calls us back to the foundation.

It is the love of Christ for his Bride, his elect, his redeemed. This is the mystery Paul invites us to ponder while holding it up as the ideal for husbands.

We all want a Proverbs 31 woman.

That means we're going to have to be Ephesians 5 men.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And Make Disciples

...teaching them to do all things whatsoever I have commanded you. -Matthew 28:20a

Twice in the past week I have been engaged in conversation with one of my church family at GPC and they have made the  comment, "Ours is a teaching church."

The deliberate and considered effort at Grace to instruct believers in the faith is the reason why I am rarely tempted to be discouraged by our relatively small numbers.

What does this "teaching church" look like, you may ask.

We have had studies in everything from the biblical view of worship to how to evangelize to church history. We teach our little children simplified versions of the catechism (click here for an idea of what that looks like:  )

Both Sunday School and Sunday evenings are given to learning about the content of the faith. This is important stuff after all, right? How else would we defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15-16) if we were not aware of the biblical foundation for it?

How could we understand our denominational teachings (and some of yours, too) if we had no knowledge of the Church's history: its growth, its persecutions, its struggles against false teaching (which we see beginning with the letters of the Apostles)?

Do not think that this is some bragfest on behalf of our church or denomination. I wish that every Christian church everywhere took such pains to instruct their members in our precious faith; faith in the Only Name wherein salvation must be found.

I am aware that most do not. Does yours?

It may be that having the Bible's promise that Christ's kingdom will grow until it fills the "entire earth (Daniel 2:35b)" makes us forgetful. Forgetful of the fact that God uses "ordinary means (preaching and the sacraments)" and "secondary causes (that's us)" to grow His kingdom. Forgetful to pray that His kingdom come.

Does it make sense that a teaching church will help us to remember?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Family of God

My mother and my brethren are these... -Luke 8:21a

Recently I reposted GPC's picture of the baptism of Eleanor Russell. Eleanor is the infant daughter of Justin and Tori Russell and nothing blesses my faith quite like this reminder of our covenant relationship with the God who has sworn by His own Being never to fail in His promises to us.

A high school classmate saw the post and commented, "Welcome to the family of God, Eleanor."

As I witnessed the vows spoken by Tori and Justin (and by we congregants of Grace Pres.), I was reminded once more of this precious family into which we have been adopted.

The nature of our culture is that our earthly families scatter to the four winds and grow apart many times. Indeed I have an aunt, my mother's sister, whom I adored as a youngster. And though she lives less than two hundred miles from here, it saddens me to say that I haven't seen her in nearly a year.

Brothers, sisters, children; we are separated by time and distance and whatever else may arise to come between us.

Prayer is the thing that binds us in spite of the distance between us. I lift them up daily, separately or as a group (daughters, grandchildren, siblings). I pray for their safety, for their health, for their general well-being.

Most of all, I pray for their salvation. Not being part of their day-to-day lives, I depend on God's promises for children of the covenant and His faithful ness to answer our prayers. It may be that in His mercy and wisdom, He will attend to the prayers of this unprofitable servant.

In the meantime, I am so very blessed by the love of my adopted family. Even as I pray for God's mercy for my natural family. That they too might truly become my "mother and brothers," my sisters. my children, "these which hear the word of God, and do it."

Friday, August 15, 2014

What's the Agenda?

O.K. so I'm older than dirt.

Still I remember quite vividly my teenage years and my experience of dating.

Everybody had an agenda. I was an average kid, a little bit shy, raised in church and respectful of my elders. But let me tell you that in my heart of hearts, a place of which I was only vaguely aware, I was up to no good.

And that's the problem I have with this article's idealization of the dating process. I have no experience of courtship so I won't comment on the author's remarks on that subject.

But I am a veteran of the dating scene, both as a teen and later as a divorced adult. My attitudes were more out there (and more crass) by the time I reached my early thirties, but at bottom the physical attraction was always there. It's the underlying tension in all guy-gal interactions (am I exaggerating?) and the struggle to remain pure at heart is one of titanic proportions.

Thus it follows that to take a young man and a young woman and place them alone in a car (parked or moving) with their hormones, is a recipe for trouble.

As for the author's contention that the courtship process is the underlying cause of many a divorce, I call b.s.

Marriage is the second hardest thing a Christian person will ever do. It requires certain preconceptions. And they are biblical. Here are the ones I have found most helpful, in no particular order:

Read the Song of Songs. The poetry of love expressed here, even when taken only at the surface level is such a beautiful picture of desire for and dedication to the beloved. We are called to this ideal.
And to remember how it expresses the perfect love of Christ for His bride.

Which brings us to Paul's words in Ephesian 5:22-33. This requires careful reading and re-reading as well as thoughtful discussion between you and your beloved.

Finally, guys, I highly recommend that you bookmark Proverbs 31:10-31. This is the ideal and realize that without your love, respect and support, your wife will find this ideal very difficult if not impossible to achieve.

As long as we mix fallen human nature into the process, both dating and courtship are flawed concepts. I suppose arranged marriages are the alternative. Hmmm. Not too sure about that one either.

Anyhow, these are the opinions of an old married man.

And you can take that for whatever it is worth.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


An object at rest will tend to remain at rest. -Newton's First Law of Motion

...fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. -Pink Floyd, "Time"

I have been jealous of my time; selfish even.

I believe it has been one of the hardest lessons of my Christian life, to learn to stop what I am doing or whatever I may be desiring to do, to give time and attention to others.

To embrace the doctrine of God's sovereignty in all things was hard at first. But like the Bereans, I saw that if Scripture teaches it, I must believe it.

Ah, but time it seems is much more personal. To give of your time is to give of yourself. It is the hardest gift of all, in my case at any rate, to part with.

I have been blessed beyond measure with this precious resource which I hoarded so jealously in the past. Indeed, I have been given an extension, as it were a multiplication of time.

To neglect to invest my time in others is a great sin. But worse than that is to do nothing, to sit idle, to simply waste the stuff of life.

God alone knows the days ordained for my life.

As for me, what can I do but follow the example of my Savior and say, "I must be about my Father's business."

Pray that it might be so, when you pray for me.