Monday, July 30, 2007

MM - Leadership...

I was thinking today about posting for Marriage Monday on the role of the wife, but before I do that (maybe next week), I came across this great post by Tony Reinke over at Shepherd's Scrapbook on what Christ wishes every husband knew about marriage. I would commend the whole post, but here is what really stuck out to me:
The profound nature of the Cross relates to the husband because true leadership in the home is illustrated by the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for His Bride. Nothing of Christ’s was spared in His love for the Church. Christ willingly laid down His comforts, His glory and emptied Himself of all that He was rightfully entitled to save an undeserving and sinful Bride. This He accomplished on the Cross! He released all claims of His reputation, became a bondservant, and humbled Himself in the pursuit of obedience (Phil. 2:5-11).

Christ is no tyrant and no pushover. The same Christ returning to destroy sin with the sharp edge of a sword is the same Christ who washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:5). He came to serve His Bride, not expecting to be served like a lazy husband watching TV with the expectation that his “submitting” wife will cater to the enhancement of his surroundings. Think of this: If the Groom came only to assert his authority and enjoy the fruits of His submitting Bride, we would have no Cross, no Atoning Blood, no forgiveness of sin, no wrath appeased, and we would be hopelessly lost forever.

In the profound mystery of the Cross, true spiritual leadership is emulated. The Cross calls me to serve my wife in way that has no limits on personal comforts sacrificed, calls me to initiate service, and find new ways to care for her spiritual health. I am to care for her as I care for myself.

The stakes are very high. Wives and mothers do not clock out. Their duties can last all waking hours and are on-call through the night. In the past month I have seen the devastating effects of wives who believe that everything in the home rests on their shoulders and to rely on the husband domestically is a sign of failure. Rather, an overburdened wife is an under-led wife and reflects more poorly on the man than the woman. When we as husbands take our eyes off the Cross, we will fail as leaders and our wives will suffer the heavy consequences.

Husbands, are you convicted of your leadership failures like I am? I would encourage you to look at the Cross where we are saved from God’s wrath. We may be poor leaders, but we are justified in Christ and our leadership failures do not impact God’s pleasure in us. Christ achieved the full ransom price for our sinfulness. We can look back with conviction but never should the Christian husband look back at failures with condemnation. The same Cross that emulates leadership is the same Cross that covers our leadership failures.
These are helpful words for us as the ever present indwelling sin rears its ugly head in our lives as Christian men. Husbands, let's strive for this kind of loving leadership, pursued with cross-centered intensity.

Back Into Blogging...

It has been such a long time since I have regularly blogged. I just finished up a tremendous stretch of busyness. After Meg and I went to New Attitude, I had a 2 week break before we staffed a camp at Windermere for Student Life. Then I had 2 weeks off before our church's Vacation Bible School, then a week off and we took our students to Student Life Camp in Oklahoma. So things have been hopping. Sorry for all the crazyness. I hope to return to regular now that my life is in some ways regular. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sermon of the Week - Fellowship

Kenneth Maresco, a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, recently preached an excellent sermon on Fellowship from 1 John 1. This sermon totally gripped my heart. I felt as if I needed to listen to it time and again and take very detailed notes. The application is gripping and compelling. What a picture of fellowship there is in these words. May the Holy Spirit use it in your life as well.

MM - More Tips on the Man's Role

For today's Marriage Monday, here are some excellent questions/practical tips from Stuart Scott's Exemplary Husband on leading and loving your wife.
What Are You Portraying?
“Husband, are you portraying Christ’s demonstration of love and leadership to the Church? Or do you perhaps see yourself in one or more of the following roles?
• A king lording it over his vassals—dictating and waiting to be served.
• A hireling over sheep—leaving when the going gets tough and not willing to sacrifice.
• A tolerant roommate—making no commitment, ignoring sin and doing his own thing—just basically sharing expenses and a roof.
• A business partner—splitting and doing everything 50/50, with equal benefits and equal say.
• An irresponsible steward or drifter—leaving responsibilities undone, letting others take care of your responsibilities, or just going with the flow with no purpose or direction.
• A preoccupied worker—staying too busy and distracted to fulfill marital responsibilities (lack of involvement).
• A patrolling supplier—provides sustenance, room, clothes, etc., and offers a level of protection over his interests, but is not personally involved.”

Ways You Can Show Love To Your Wife“We must put off any ideas that love is unnecessary, a sign of weakness, or a feminine characteristic. Clearly, increasing in love for our wives must be a major pursuit. The exemplary husband’s wife will never accuse him of not loving her because the message will be loud and clear.

“Every husband should think about and investigate specific ways he can show love to his wife. Below is a list of basic ways we can show love to our wives. It is up to each of us to make application to our own marriages.

To Love Your Wife:
• Prefer her over yourself.
• Show interest in her interests.
• Encourage her with words of appreciation.
• Brighten her day with an unexpected card, note, flowers, or gift.
• Spend time with her having fun (what she enjoys).
• Spend time listening with interest to her concerns while showing compassion, giving her encouragement from God’s Word, and helping her find a solution; all in that order (trust me!).
• Help her when she looks as if she needs it (don’t wait to be asked!).
• Do chivalrous things to let her know how special she is to you (open doors, wipe off benches before she sits down, pull out chairs, etc.).
• Show her non-sexual affection.
• Seek to please and satisfy her during sexual intimacy.
• Confront her sin in love, pray with her about it and encourage change.
• Pray with her and lead her spiritually (Read Scripture with her). See to it that she is serving and using her spiritual gifts within the church.”

Offended?

Albert Mohler is not offended by recent claims that the Roman Catholic Church has the only true church. You must check out his thoughts.

Monday, July 09, 2007

MM - Roles...

For today's Marriage Monday segment, I am busy this week preparing for our HomeWord worship service this Friday night. Last time we introduced roles and then tonight, we are going to launch into the role of the man. It seems to me that more and more in our culture, we are seeing an increase in the feminization of men. This summer at a youth camp we attended, I spoke to a single college-aged woman who was simply wanting men to be men and take the lead. This is certainly true in marriage.

All men, I think, find it easy to drift into passivity. We don't have a plan. We don't have goals that we want to accomplish when it comes to our marriages and families. When we do get time with our wives away from the children, we are asking her what her thoughts are and in doing so, in some cases, surrending the leadership to which we have been called. Rather than walking into these times with our wives in loving leadership, we walk in blind asking them to set the spiritual direction and goals for our relationship. We must recover Biblical manhood. This is like Piper called, "torching a glacier." This isn't easy. It takes hard work to be a godly man.

I remember studying "A Godly Man's Picture" with some men a few years ago. We were looking at characteristics like faithfulness, lover of the church, basic piety stuff. They both told me they weren't interested in the study any longer because and I am quoting here, "IT WASN'T PRACTICAL." Here we were dealing with the core component of what it meant to be a godly man (relationship with God) and it wasn't practical. With all of this onslaught, our greatest need as men, then, is to simply be the disciples we have been called to be. Jesus has called us first and foremost to follow Him. We should follow Him, then. We shouldn't put up excuses as to why our children, wives and family is not godly. That is our responsibility and it falls to us to lead in word and example. So this is my call to men. Are you ready to be the man God has called you to be. Let's quit playing games and step into obedience as followers of Christ. Let's glorify Him by being obedient to His Word -- especially those parts that speak of our loving leadership. May the result be that families are reformed for the glory of God...

Growth of New Christians...

I absolutely loved 3 recent posts by Thabiti over at Pure Church. These posts quote Jonathan Edwards from Michael Haykin's book, A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards. Here is how Thabiti introduces these recommendations for growth:
On June 3, 1741, Jonathan Edwards wrote a letter to Deborah Hatheway. Mrs. Hatheway was converted during the awakening in New England and, since her church was without a pastor at the time sought Edwards' counsel on how to grow as a new Christian. Edwards replied in a short letter with 19 things Hatheway should think and do.
You can read the 19 things in the following posts: Recommendations 1-6, Recommendations 7-11 and Recommendations 12-17. Evidently, 2 of the 19 were absorbed in the others during the editing process by Haykin. Nevertheless, these are very practical and wonderful blessings we read from the pen of Edwards. They are well worth your time and energy to take up and apply to your own life, whether you are a "new" or "old" Christian.

Why Love The Church...

John MacArthur answers over at the Pulpit Magazine blog. In Part 1, MacArthur introduces his subject--the Church. Part 2 answers that the church is being built by Jesus Himself. Part 3 explains how the church is an outworking of an eternal plan. Part 4 simply states that the church is the most precious reality on earth. And the conclusion of the series focuses our vision on how the church is an earthly vision of heaven. These articles were a great blessing in reinstilling in me a love for God's bride--the Church. I commend them to you.

Monday, July 02, 2007

MM - Tripp & Lane on Relationships...

In their recent book on Relationships, Paul Tripp and Tim Lane say:
We are well aware that we are smack dab in the middle of God's process of sanctification. And because this is true, we will struggle again. Selfishness, pride, an unforgiving spirit, irritation, and impatience will certain return. But we are neither afraid nor hopeless. We have experienced what God can do in the middle of the mess. This side of heaven, relationships and ministry are always shaped in the forge of struggle. None of us get to relate to perfect people or avoid the effects of the fall on the work we attempt to do. Yet, amid the mess, we find the highest joys of relationship and ministry.
What is this hope and confidence? It is rooted in the Gospel itself. You can have hope, even if you are in the midst of conflict within your marriage, because as a sinner, you can conquer sin in the Gospel. The negative can be healed and restored. That is the Gospel's work. Therefore, take hope today. The Gospel is able to make your marrriage all God intends it to be.

9 Marks Online Magazine...

9 Marks also has their July/August '07 News online. Check it out as it relates to the gospel.

HeartCry Missionary Society...

The latest HeartCry Missionary Society Magazine is online. The back cover summarizes the content of it so well in a quote by Adoniram Judson -- "The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer or schoolmaster, ought to be Devoted for Life."

NA Application ...

Over at the New Attitude Download page, they have posted videos with some speakers from this year's conference who are interviewed about various ways their messages can be applied. They are worth your time in checking out...

Mark Dever on "Togetherness"

Mark Dever writes over at T4G a column on Togetherness. He writes:
The real front line is not between Calvinist evangelicals and Arminian evangelicals. It is between those who are lost in their sins and those who have been saved by God's sheer grace in Christ. And this is not, of course, a war of flesh and blood, but a loving "assault" of sheep charging the wolves with the Good News of Jesus Christ, sheep who were themselves once at enmity with God. Our "weapons" to use the Biblical metaphor (Eph. 6:10-17), are spiritual. Here, on this real front line of conflicting worldviews and God-views, there is much togetherness in the Gospel by evangelical believers. 500 years ago Rome warned us that we Protestants would continue to split into countless groups, if we split with them over this. Well, 500 years of history have passed, and the verdict is in resoundingly. Rome was wrong. The Gospel is clear. Wherever we may mail our checks for missionary support, a Free Methodist evangelist in Brazil, an Assembly of God pastor in the Philippines, an Bible-believing Lutheran pastor in Ethiopia or a conservative Dutch Reformed Christian in South Africa, an evangelical Church of Scotland grandmother, a conservative Anglican in London, and a Southern Baptist deacon in Dallas, when they sit down next to someone on the bus or the plane, and share the Gospel with them, will all share the same Gospel--the good news about the Holy God who sent his Son to die and be raised for the justification of sinners. And that we experience God's forgiveness and new life through faith alone in Christ alone. We don't need a bishop in Rome or anywhere else to tell us this. We don't need a world-wide organization. We just need the Holy Spirit, the Bible and the faithful teaching of this gospel by any one of thousands of congregations around the globe faithful to this gospel.