Friday, August 31, 2007

The Road Home

As you can see, I have not blogged lately. My family and I just returned from a trip to Michigan to visit our families. I was able to get a little writing done and some rest and recreation (this always includes golf). I never look forward to driving to Michigan. If you have ever driven across country, you know it can be a tiring and trying it can be. The kids were good. Of course they had their moments, but for the most part, they were good traveling companions. But now the trip is over, and it is good to be back at home. However, whenever I am in Michigan I always feel I am home. No matter where I have lived, my mother's home has always seemed to be home to me. She still lives in the house I was born and raised in. It still stands on that old dirt road. The neighbors have changed and the faces in the community are no longer recognizable to me, but my mother is still standing as one of the matriarchs of this small wooded-community on Woodland Lake in Woodland Park, MI. As I walked around the neighborhood, I was reminded of all the old trails and paths we would take as children. Many of those old paths are still remaining. This reminded me, that the old paths are often best because they have been tried and found to be true and safe. Perhaps this is what God had in mind when he said, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." (Jer. 6:16) The old paths remind us that there have been those who have faithfully gone before us. We are not the first to walk this path and thus can rely upon their testimonies even as we are establishing our own. Inevitably there is a rest and assurance in knowing that God had lead others down the same road and brought them home. It gives us the confidence that He is the same faithful God today. Ultimately, it is just good to know that the road home is not only a welcomed road, but it is well traveled one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

For Men Only

In a previous post I mentioned that one of the ways that God has taught me to keep my marriage joyful and hopeful was to understand and celebrate that God made men and women different and has given them differing, yet equally God-glorifying, roles. One of the insidious and fatuous notions that is pawned off on our society today is that men and women are the same and role distinctions are not necessary. Yet, here is a commentator who reminds us that there are places for men only in the lives of their children and this world. Take a listen.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Can't Serve God and Money

Yesterday I preached from Matt. 6:19-24. Verse 24 declares that no one can serve God and money. Just in case you are having a difficult time believing that, here is living proof.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Exporting Prosperity Religion

One of the reasons I have not blogged much this week is because I have been spending much time preparing my sermon for this coming Sunday (just one of the reasons). The text is Matthew 6:19-24. In my preparation I read this article from Christianity Today on Gospel Riches: Africa's rapid embrace of prosperity Pentecostalism provokes concern--and hope. If you have not read it already, do so. It is a sad but true commentary on our exporting of our destructive and godless brand of American Christianity. May God have mercy upon us in our faithful proclamation of the gospel. And may he have mercy on those African brothers and sisters who genuinely want to worship the God of heaven and not their own bellies.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Top 10 for the 14th

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage. Over those 14 years, God has been pleased to teach this poor sinner a few things about being married and how to experience it with joy and hope. Here are my Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Marriage Full of Joy and Hope:

10. Know Your Spouse. What does your spouse enjoy? Know what would be of particular benefit to their joy, and if possible, seek to do it.

9. Appreciate God Ordained Roles. God has made men and women different on many levels. These roles are for God's glory and our good. When we learn to walk in them and to find our satisfaction in them, we find joy and hope.

8. Public Display of Affection. I have learned and am still learning to receive and give this most important aspect of marital relationship. We all need to be affirmed physically with a touch and a look. My wife does this well. I could do it better.

7. Speak Well Of Your Spouse. Never, but never, make derogatory remarks about your spouse in the company of others. Give others the assurance that your spouse has your confidence. Believe me, your spouse will eventually hear of it, one way or another.

6. Publicly Commend. When given the opportunity, be complimentary of your spouse in public. Thank God for them and how God is using them to make you more Christ-like.

5. Serve. Give up your comfort for theirs. In fact, find your joy in bringing them joy. My wife puts me to shame in this department.

4. Love Your Children. Any parent will tell you that they are inclined to love those who love on their children. Most spouses are no different.

3. Keep Sex Fresh and Selfless. Intimacy in marriage is one of the first things to go sour when a marriage begins to fade. So keep it fresh. Learn what your spouse enjoys and learn to do it well. Also (especially for men), seek the satisfaction and pleasure of your spouse before your own. Remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Forgive Freely. If more of the couples I counsel with could learn to not be offended too easily and to forgive even before their spouses ask, they would find that their joy and hope would be greatly enhanced. Most of our bitterness is due to unforgiveness. Make forgiveness a lifestyle, rather than an event. Know that sooner or later the shoe will be on the other foot.

And the number one way to keep your marriage full of joy and hope...

1. Love God and the Gospel. Jesus said it best when He told us to Love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourself. The glory of the gospel is that we know that in our unloveliness, we have been loved by God. In return we can love our spouses even when they are unlovely. Not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is. Not because of what our spouses do, but because of what Christ has done.
The Gospel makes all the Difference!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thy Father Will Reward Thee...

On yesterday at Southwest Christian Fellowship, Pastor Robert Benson preached from Matthew 6:16-18:

Moreover, when you shall fast, be not, like the hypocrites, dejected: for they disfigure their faces, that it may be evident to men that they fast. Verily I say to you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that it may not appear to men that thou fastest, but to thy Father, who is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will reward thee openly.
During the sermon, he shared a quote from John Calvin, which I found most edifying:

Thy Father will reward thee
. When he promises a reward from God to fastings, this mode of expression, as we said a little before with respect to prayer, is not strictly accurate. There is a wide difference, indeed, between prayer and fastings. Prayer holds the first rank among the antics of piety: but fasting is a doubtful operation, and does not, like alms, belong to the class of those actions which God requires and approves. It is pleasing to God, only so far as it is directed to another object: and that is, to train us to abstinence, to subdue the lust of the flesh, to excite us to earnestness in prayer, and to testify our repentance, when we are affected by the view of the tribunal of God. The meaning of Christ’s words is: “God will one day show that he was pleased with those good works, which appeared to be lost, because they were concealed from the eyes of men.”

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Is this Evangelism?

I don't want to sound as if I am being critical of these fellas, because I am not. I remember too often being in similar situations and responding in like fashion. The longer the conversation goes, the more frustrating it often becomes. And when frustration sets in, you tend to say things that are true, but not edifying. It probably does not help this was all in front of the camera. When the camera is rolling we tend to perform for it. Nevertheless, I am sure these gentlemen mean well and are seeking to stand for the truth. I just wonder if you think this is biblical evangelism. Take a look and decide.