Topics for Conversation When a Man and a Woman Are Considering Marriage by John Piper

Photo credit www.areadewasa.com

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from DesiringGod.org

In each of these sections one item could be added that I have not listed, namely, How do you handle and live with differences? How do you decide what can remain differences without jeopardizing the relationship? So as you deal with each subheading, include that in the discussion.

Theology

  • What do you believe about . . . everything?
  • Perhaps read through the Desiring God Affirmation of Faith to see where each other is on various biblical doctrines.
  • Discover how you form your views. What is the reasoning-believing process? How do you handle the Bible?

Worship and Devotion

  • How important is corporate worship? Other participation in church life?
  • How important is it to be part of a small accountability/support group?
  • What is the importance of music in life and worship?
  • What are your daily personal devotional practices? Prayer, reading, meditation, memorization.
  • What would our family devotions look like? Who leads out in this?
  • Are we doing this now in an appropriate way: praying together about our lives and future, reading the Bible together?

Husband and Wife

  • What is the meaning of headship and submission in the Bible and in our marriage?
  • What are expectations about situations where one of you might be alone with someone of the opposite sex?
  • How are tasks shared in the home: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, yard work, car upkeep, repairs, shopping for food, and household stuff?
  • What are the expectations for togetherness?
  • What is an ideal non-special evening?
  • How do you understand who and how often sex is initiated?
  • Who does the checkbook—or are there two?

Children

  • If and when, should we have children? Why?
  • How many?
  • How far apart?
  • Would we consider adoption?
  • What are the standards of behavior?
  • What are the appropriate ways to discipline them? How many strikes before they’re . . . whatever?
  • What are the expectations of time spent with them and when they go to bed?
  • What signs of affection will you show them?
  • What about school? Home school? Christian school? Public school?

Lifestyle

  • Own a home or not? Why?
  • What kind of neighborhood? Why?
  • How many cars? New? Used?
  • View of money in general. How much to the church?
  • How do you make money decisions?
  • Where will you buy clothes: Department store? Savers? In between? Why?

Entertainment

  • How much money should we spend on entertainment?
  • How often should we eat out? Where?
  • What kind of vacations are appropriate and helpful for us?
  • How many toys? Snowmobile, boat, cabin?
  • Should we have a television? Where? What is fitting to watch? How much?
  • What are the criteria for Movies and theater and video/DVD? What will our guidelines be for the kids?

Conflict

  • What makes you angry?
  • How do you handle your frustration or anger?
  • Who should bring up an issue that is bothersome?
  • What if we disagree both about what should be done, AND whether it is serious?
  • Will we go to bed angry at each other?
  • What is our view of getting help from friends or counselors?

Work

  • Who is the main breadwinner?
  • Should the wife work outside the home? Before kids? With kids at home? After kids?
  • What are your views of daycare for children?
  • What determines where you will locate? Job? Whose job? Church? Family?

Friends

  • Is it good to do things with friends but without fiancé, or without spouse?
  • What will you do if one of you really likes to hang out with so and so and the other doesn’t?

Health and Sickness

  • Do you have, or have you had any, sicknesses or physical problems that could affect our relationship? (Allergies, cancer, eating disorders, venereal disease, etc.)
  • Do you believe in divine healing and how would prayer relate to medical attention?
  • How do you think about exercise and healthy eating?
  • Do you have any habits that adversely affect health?

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Reclame

How do I know she’s the one? by Michael Lawrence

In honor of International Woman’s day today, I thought I’d repost this article:

A Biblical perspective from boundless.org (2010)

„How do I know if she’s the one?”

I can’t think of a question I encounter more often among single Christian men. The point of the question is clear enough. But a rich irony dwells beneath the question. In a culture that allows us to choose the person we’re going to marry, no one wants to make the wrong choice. Especially if, as Christians, we understand that the choice we make is a choice for life.

The question is not merely ironic. If what you’re after is a marriage that will glorify God and produce real joy for you and your bride, it’s also the wrong question. That’s because the unstated goal of the question is „How do I know if she’s the one … for me.”

The question frames the entire decision-making process in fundamentally self-oriented — if not downright selfish — terms. And it puts the woman on an extended trial to determine whether or not she meets your needs, fits with your personality, and satisfies your desires. It places you at the center of the process, in the role of a window-shopper, or consumer at a buffet. In this scenario you remain unexamined, unquestioned, and unassailable — sovereign in your tastes and preferences and judgments.

The problem of course is that as a single Christian man, not only are you going to marry a sinner, but you are a sinner as well.

From a consumeristic perspective, no woman on this planet is ever going to perfectly meet your specifications. What’s more, your unexamined requirements for a spouse are inevitably twisted by your own sinful nature. The Bible reminds us that though our marriages are to be pictures of the gospel relationship between Christ and the church, none of us get to marry Jesus. Instead, like Hosea, we all marry Gomer; that is to say, we all marry another sinner, whom God intends to use to refine and grow our faith in Jesus.

So what’s a guy to do?

Ask the right questions

To begin with, start with a different question. Instead of asking if she’s the one, you should ask yourself, „Am I the sort of man a godly woman would want to marry?” If you’re not, then you’d be better off spending less time evaluating the women around you, and more time developing the character of a disciple. Start by considering the characteristics of an elder that Paul lays out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and work toward those.

Then you should ask another question: „What sort of qualities should I be looking for in a wife so that my marriage will be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church?” If you’re not sure what those characteristics are, then spend some time reading Proverbs 31, Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Ephesians 5:22-33.

Once you’ve asked the right questions, and once you’ve found someone you suspect fits the biblical description of a godly wife, you now need to decide whether to get married. And men, though this is a big decision, it’s not a decision that should take too long. How long is too long for a dating relationship? The Bible doesn’t provide a timetable (after all, most marriages were arranged during Biblical times). But it does provide principles that point us in the direction of making a decision to marry or break up in the shortest appropriate time.

Think like a servant, not a consumer

In 1 Thessalonians 4:6, Paul warns the Thessalonian Christians against „taking advantage” of their brothers or sisters. The larger context in the first eight verses makes clear that what Paul primarily has in view is sexual immorality, in which you take from one another a physical intimacy not rightfully yours.

But the text also suggests that there are other ways you can take advantage of one another in a dating relationship. And one of the primary ways men do this is to elicit and enjoy all the benefits of unending companionship and emotional intimacy with their girlfriends without ever committing to the covenant relationship of marriage.

Too often in dating relationships we think and act like consumers rather than servants. And not very good consumers at that. After all, no one would ever go down to his local car dealership, take a car out for an extended test drive, park it in his garage, drive it back and forth to work for several weeks, maybe take it on vacation, having put lots of miles on it, and then take it back to the dealer and say, „I’m just not ready to buy a new car.”

But so often, that’s exactly the way men treat the women they’re dating. Endlessly „test driving” the relationship, without any real regard for the spiritual and emotional wear and tear they’re putting her through, all the while keeping their eyes out for a better model.

The Scriptures are clear. We are not to take advantage of one another in this way. Instead, as Paul says in Romans 13:10, „Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Remember that love is never easy

One of the myths out there is that if you just spend enough time searching, if you can just gather enough information, you’ll find a woman with whom marriage will be „easy.” The fact is, such a woman doesn’t exist, and if she did, she likely wouldn’t marry you. And that means that you don’t need as much information as you think you do.

No matter how long you’ve dated, everyone marries a stranger. That’s because fundamentally dating is an artificial arrangement in which you’re trying to be on your best behavior. Marriage on the other hand is real life. And it’s only in the context of day-in, day-out reality, with the vulnerability and permanence that marriage provides, that we learn what another person is really like. Some of the things we learn about each other aren’t easy. But who ever said that love and marriage were supposed to be easy?

Men, the point of marriage is that we learn to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Yes, as Revelation 21 and Ephesians 5 tell us, one day, Christ’s bride will be perfectly beautiful, without spot or blemish, altogether lovely and loveable.

But the church is not there yet. First, Christ had to commit himself to us, even to death on a cross. This is the model we’re called to follow. It’s not an easy model, but it is worth it.

So your goal should not be to date her long enough until you’re confident marriage won’t be hard, but to date her just long enough to discern if you’re willing to love her sacrificially, and if she’s willing to respond to that kind of love.

Remember that to commit does not mean to settle

Does this mean you should just „settle” for the first Christian woman who comes along? No, not at all. You should be making this decision in light of the qualities held out in Scripture for a godly wife, and you should marry the godliest, most fruitful, most spiritually beautiful woman you can convince to have you.

But you also need to be aware that you live in a culture that says the ultimate good in life is to always keep your options open, and that any commitment is inevitably „settling” for less than you could have tomorrow. You must reject that kind of thinking for the worldly garbage that it is. Did Jesus Christ settle for the church? No, he loved the church, and gave his life as a ransom for her (Mark 10:45).

Marriage is fundamentally a means to glorify and serve God, not by finding someone who will meet our needs and desires, but by giving ourselves to another for their good. So if you find yourself hesitating about committing to a godly, biblically-qualified woman, then ask yourself, „Are my reasons biblical, or am I just afraid that if I commit, someone better will walk around the corner after it’s too late?” Consumers are always on the lookout for something better. Christ calls us to trust Him that in finding a wife, we have found „what is good and receive favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).

Marry true beauty when you find it

Finally, the Scriptures call us to develop an attraction to true beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-6 describes the beautiful wife as a woman who has a gentle and quiet spirit, born out of her faith and hope in God, and displayed in her trusting submission to her husband. Men, is the presence of this kind of beauty the driving force for your sense of attraction to your girlfriend? Or have you made romantic attraction and „chemistry” the deciding issue?

Now don’t get me wrong. You should be physically attracted to the woman you marry. This is one of the ways marriage serves as a protection against sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:3-5). But we get in trouble, both in dating and in marriage, when we make physical beauty and „chemistry” the threshold issue in the decision to commit (or remain committed) to marriage.

Physical beauty in a fallen world is fading and transient. What’s more, the world narrowly defines beauty as the body of a teenager, and scorns the beauty of motherhood and maturity. But in which „body” is your wife going to spend most of her years with you? Personalities also change and mature, and what seems like „chemistry” when you’re 22 might feel like superficial immaturity 10 years later. Even over the course of a long courtship and engagement in the prime of your youth, physical attraction and chemistry are sure to go through ups and downs. We must resist the temptation to value the wrong kind of beauty.

No one lives in a perpetual state of „being in love.” But in marriage, our love is called to „always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere” (1 Cor. 13:7). If mere worldly, physical beauty is the main thing attracting our love, then our love will prove as ephemeral as that beauty. But if we have developed an attraction to true beauty, then we have nothing to fear. Marry a vibrant growing Christian woman, and you have Christ’s promise that he is committed to making her more and more beautiful, spiritually beautiful, with every passing day (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 1:6).

More questions to ask

How then do you decide, in a reasonable amount of time, whether or not to marry the woman you’re dating? Let me conclude with some more questions you should be asking.

  • Generally speaking, will you be able to serve God better together than apart?
  • Do you desire to fulfill the biblical role of a husband outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33 with this specific woman? Do you want to love her sacrificially?
  • Does this relationship spur you on in your Christian discipleship, or does it dull and distract your interest in the Lord and his people? Are you more or less eager to study God’s word, and pray, and give yourself in service as a result of time spent together?
  • Do you think she will make a good discipler of your children?
  • What do other mature Christian friends and family members say about your relationship? Do they see a relationship that is spiritually solid and God-glorifying?

If you can’t answer the questions at all, then you may need to spend some more time getting to know each other. But if you can answer them (and others like them) either positively or negatively, then it’s time to stop test-driving the relationship and either commit to marriage or let someone else have the opportunity.

Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend
by Michael Lawrence
„How do I know if she’s the one?”I can’t think of a question I encounter more often among single Christian men. The point of the question is clear enough. But a rich irony dwells beneath the question. In a culture that allows us to choose the person we’re going to marry, no one wants to make the wrong choice. Especially if, as Christians, we understand that the choice we make is a choice for life.The question is not merely ironic. If what you’re after is a marriage that will glorify God and produce real joy for you and your bride, it’s also the wrong question. That’s because the unstated goal of the question is „How do I know if she’s the one … for me.”

The question frames the entire decision-making process in fundamentally self-oriented — if not downright selfish — terms. And it puts the woman on an extended trial to determine whether or not she meets your needs, fits with your personality, and satisfies your desires. It places you at the center of the process, in the role of a window-shopper, or consumer at a buffet. In this scenario you remain unexamined, unquestioned, and unassailable — sovereign in your tastes and preferences and judgments.

The problem of course is that as a single Christian man, not only are you going to marry a sinner, but you are a sinner as well.

From a consumeristic perspective, no woman on this planet is ever going to perfectly meet your specifications. What’s more, your unexamined requirements for a spouse are inevitably twisted by your own sinful nature. The Bible reminds us that though our marriages are to be pictures of the gospel relationship between Christ and the church, none of us get to marry Jesus. Instead, like Hosea, we all marry Gomer; that is to say, we all marry another sinner, whom God intends to use to refine and grow our faith in Jesus.

So what’s a guy to do?

Ask the right questions

To begin with, start with a different question. Instead of asking if she’s the one, you should ask yourself, „Am I the sort of man a godly woman would want to marry?” If you’re not, then you’d be better off spending less time evaluating the women around you, and more time developing the character of a disciple. Start by considering the characteristics of an elder that Paul lays out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and work toward those.

Then you should ask another question: „What sort of qualities should I be looking for in a wife so that my marriage will be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church?” If you’re not sure what those characteristics are, then spend some time reading Proverbs 31, Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Ephesians 5:22-33.

Once you’ve asked the right questions, and once you’ve found someone you suspect fits the biblical description of a godly wife, you now need to decide whether to get married. And men, though this is a big decision, it’s not a decision that should take too long. How long is too long for a dating relationship? The Bible doesn’t provide a timetable (after all, most marriages were arranged during Biblical times). But it does provide principles that point us in the direction of making a decision to marry or break up in the shortest appropriate time.

Think like a servant, not a consumer

In 1 Thessalonians 4:6, Paul warns the Thessalonian Christians against „taking advantage” of their brothers or sisters. The larger context in the first eight verses makes clear that what Paul primarily has in view is sexual immorality, in which you take from one another a physical intimacy not rightfully yours.

But the text also suggests that there are other ways you can take advantage of one another in a dating relationship. And one of the primary ways men do this is to elicit and enjoy all the benefits of unending companionship and emotional intimacy with their girlfriends without ever committing to the covenant relationship of marriage.

Too often in dating relationships we think and act like consumers rather than servants. And not very good consumers at that. After all, no one would ever go down to his local car dealership, take a car out for an extended test drive, park it in his garage, drive it back and forth to work for several weeks, maybe take it on vacation, having put lots of miles on it, and then take it back to the dealer and say, „I’m just not ready to buy a new car.”

But so often, that’s exactly the way men treat the women they’re dating. Endlessly „test driving” the relationship, without any real regard for the spiritual and emotional wear and tear they’re putting her through, all the while keeping their eyes out for a better model.

The Scriptures are clear. We are not to take advantage of one another in this way. Instead, as Paul says in Romans 13:10, „Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Remember that love is never easy

One of the myths out there is that if you just spend enough time searching, if you can just gather enough information, you’ll find a woman with whom marriage will be „easy.” The fact is, such a woman doesn’t exist, and if she did, she likely wouldn’t marry you. And that means that you don’t need as much information as you think you do.

No matter how long you’ve dated, everyone marries a stranger. That’s because fundamentally dating is an artificial arrangement in which you’re trying to be on your best behavior. Marriage on the other hand is real life. And it’s only in the context of day-in, day-out reality, with the vulnerability and permanence that marriage provides, that we learn what another person is really like. Some of the things we learn about each other aren’t easy. But who ever said that love and marriage were supposed to be easy?

Men, the point of marriage is that we learn to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Yes, as Revelation 21 and Ephesians 5 tell us, one day, Christ’s bride will be perfectly beautiful, without spot or blemish, altogether lovely and loveable.

But the church is not there yet. First, Christ had to commit himself to us, even to death on a cross. This is the model we’re called to follow. It’s not an easy model, but it is worth it.

So your goal should not be to date her long enough until you’re confident marriage won’t be hard, but to date her just long enough to discern if you’re willing to love her sacrificially, and if she’s willing to respond to that kind of love.

Remember that to commit does not mean to settle

Does this mean you should just „settle” for the first Christian woman who comes along? No, not at all. You should be making this decision in light of the qualities held out in Scripture for a godly wife, and you should marry the godliest, most fruitful, most spiritually beautiful woman you can convince to have you.

But you also need to be aware that you live in a culture that says the ultimate good in life is to always keep your options open, and that any commitment is inevitably „settling” for less than you could have tomorrow. You must reject that kind of thinking for the worldly garbage that it is. Did Jesus Christ settle for the church? No, he loved the church, and gave his life as a ransom for her (Mark 10:45).

Marriage is fundamentally a means to glorify and serve God, not by finding someone who will meet our needs and desires, but by giving ourselves to another for their good. So if you find yourself hesitating about committing to a godly, biblically-qualified woman, then ask yourself, „Are my reasons biblical, or am I just afraid that if I commit, someone better will walk around the corner after it’s too late?” Consumers are always on the lookout for something better. Christ calls us to trust Him that in finding a wife, we have found „what is good and receive favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).

Marry true beauty when you find it

Finally, the Scriptures call us to develop an attraction to true beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-6 describes the beautiful wife as a woman who has a gentle and quiet spirit, born out of her faith and hope in God, and displayed in her trusting submission to her husband. Men, is the presence of this kind of beauty the driving force for your sense of attraction to your girlfriend? Or have you made romantic attraction and „chemistry” the deciding issue?

Now don’t get me wrong. You should be physically attracted to the woman you marry. This is one of the ways marriage serves as a protection against sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:3-5). But we get in trouble, both in dating and in marriage, when we make physical beauty and „chemistry” the threshold issue in the decision to commit (or remain committed) to marriage.

Physical beauty in a fallen world is fading and transient. What’s more, the world narrowly defines beauty as the body of a teenager, and scorns the beauty of motherhood and maturity. But in which „body” is your wife going to spend most of her years with you? Personalities also change and mature, and what seems like „chemistry” when you’re 22 might feel like superficial immaturity 10 years later. Even over the course of a long courtship and engagement in the prime of your youth, physical attraction and chemistry are sure to go through ups and downs. We must resist the temptation to value the wrong kind of beauty.

No one lives in a perpetual state of „being in love.” But in marriage, our love is called to „always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere” (1 Cor. 13:7). If mere worldly, physical beauty is the main thing attracting our love, then our love will prove as ephemeral as that beauty. But if we have developed an attraction to true beauty, then we have nothing to fear. Marry a vibrant growing Christian woman, and you have Christ’s promise that he is committed to making her more and more beautiful, spiritually beautiful, with every passing day (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 1:6).

More questions to ask

How then do you decide, in a reasonable amount of time, whether or not to marry the woman you’re dating? Let me conclude with some more questions you should be asking.

  • Generally speaking, will you be able to serve God better together than apart?
  • Do you desire to fulfill the biblical role of a husband outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33 with this specific woman? Do you want to love her sacrificially?
  • Does this relationship spur you on in your Christian discipleship, or does it dull and distract your interest in the Lord and his people? Are you more or less eager to study God’s word, and pray, and give yourself in service as a result of time spent together?
  • Do you think she will make a good discipler of your children?
  • What do other mature Christian friends and family members say about your relationship? Do they see a relationship that is spiritually solid and God-glorifying?

If you can’t answer the questions at all, then you may need to spend some more time getting to know each other. But if you can answer them (and others like them) either positively or negatively, then it’s time to stop test-driving the relationship and either commit to marriage or let someone else have the opportunity.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Lawrence. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. This article was published on Boundless.org on April 8, 2010.

Fathers, Bring Them Up in the Discipline and Instruction of the Lord by John Piper

A Tribute to My Father, William Solomon Hottle Piper -from  www.DesiringGod.org

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Fathers, Bring Them Up in the Discipline & Inst…, posted with vodpod

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. „Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), „that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

My aim in this message is threefold. First, in obedience to Ephesians 6:1-2, to honor my father. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” When children are younger and moving toward adulthood, they should honor their father especially by obeying him. I don’t mean to the exclusion of mothers. But the focus today will be on fathers. As children move out of childhood into adulthood the way we honor our fathers is not primarily in the category of obedience, but rather by tribute and care. Today I pay tribute to my father even as the days of increasing care have come.

The promise in verse 3, taken from Deuteronomy 5:16, “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land,” I take to be a general encouragement based on the fact that in the days of Israel when there was humility and respect and obedience to parents God protected the people from their enemies and prospered them. But when they forsook his laws and became arrogant and disrespectful and disobedient he gave them over to their enemies. The point is not that every child who is obedient will live a long life. The point is that God delights in obedience and gives special blessings to families and churches and peoples where that kind of humility and respect and obedience prevails. So the first part of my aim in this message is to honor my father by paying him public tribute.

The second part of my aim is to inspire fathers to be worthy of this kind of tribute—to help you see the glory of your calling to exhibit the fatherhood of God to your children and lead them to faith and Christian maturity. I pray that Christ will take what I say about my own father and will use it to make you better fathers.

Third, my aim is to glorify the Fatherhood of God whose Fatherhood is the source and pattern of all human fatherhood. Human fatherhood exists to display the beauty of God’s Fatherhood. Our highest calling as fathers is to be the image of God’s fatherhood to our children. I think this is implied in the words of verse 4b: “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” What does it mean that our discipline and instruction should be “of the Lord”?

It means, in part, that in our fathering we take our cues from the Lord Jesus. Jesus, in his human nature and in his earthly ministry directed the disciples again and again to the Father in heaven. And in his life and death he modeled for us how to relate to God as our Father. His longest prayer in John 17 begins, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you’ (v. 1). The discipline and instruction of the Lord takes its cues from the Lord Jesus who lived and died to glorify his Father in heaven. No father here should do less. Our calling as fathers is to exhibit the glory of the Fatherhood of God.

So I turn with a sense of deepest gratitude and joy to pay tribute to my father publicly and through this to honor my Father in heaven who adopted me, an undeserving sinner, into his everlasting and supremely happy family on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone.

My father is 86 years old and lives in home called Shepherd’s Care owned and operated by Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina—the school from which he graduated and which conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. His short term memory is weak, but his memory of Christ and his word is strong. And for that I thank God.

Here is a fragment of the legacy of truth imparted to me by my father. And I hope that you will see before we are done that the word “imparted” is no mere transmission of information, but involves a whole life of demonstration of what he taught. I will mention eleven precious truths imparted to me by my father.

1. There is a great, majestic God in heaven, and we were meant to live for his glory not ours.

Most of these truths that I will mention are rooted in my memory of particular texts that were branded on my mind at home. Few texts were more often on Daddy’s lips in relation to me than 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I am sure that in heaven some day the Lord will make plain the unbreakable chain of influences that led from that verse when I was a boy to the mission statement of this church: “We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” This won’t be the only influence you will see of my father on that mission statement.

2. When things don’t go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good.

Even more prominent in my growing up was the presence of Romans 8:28 in our family: “God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”

I have several vivid memories of this truth. One was in 1974 when I rode with my father in the ambulance from Atlanta to Greenville with my mother’s body in the hearse following behind. They had just been flown in from Israel where Mother had been killed in an accident and Daddy was seriously injured. All the way home, for three and a half hours, he would weep and talk and weep and talk. He was 56. They had been married 36 years. And when he talked it was Romans 8:28. I remember the very words: “God must have a reason for me to live. God must have a reason for me to live.” In other words, God governs our accidents and makes no mistakes.

I will never cease to be thankful that I heard and saw the truth of Romans 8:28 in my father’s life, “When things don’t go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good.”

3. God can be trusted.

How many times did I hear the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” And Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I can see us as a family when I was just a child. We were all (Mother, Daddy, my older sister, Beverly) sitting around a card table my parents’ bedroom folding letters and stuffing envelopes which would be sent to pastors asking them to consider having my father come lead their churches in evangelistic meetings. This was Daddy’s life—he was a full time evangelist—and our livelihood. The answers to these letters meant bread on the table and paid bills. Then we prayed over these envelopes and Daddy closed in a spirit of utter confidence: God will answer and meet every need. He can be trusted.

He told me more than once of a financial crisis when I was six years old in which he almost lost everything. And he said that God used Psalm 37:5 to sustain him and bring him through: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act.”

And so I saw and I learned: God can be trusted.

4. Life is precarious, and life is precious. Don’t presume that you will have it tomorrow and don’t waste it today.

My memory of my Father’s preaching was that he always began with humor but within seconds he was blood earnest and talking about heaven and hell, and sin and Christ and life and death. One text above all others rings in my ears with terrible seriousness. He squinted when he said it and his mouth pursed tightly the way it does after you taste a lemon: “It is appointed unto men once to die, after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) It made a huge impression on me as a boy.

The motto on Daddy’s college wall was, “The wise man prepares for the inevitable”

The plaque in our kitchen when I was growing up was: “Only one life ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The stories of wasted lives tumbled from his mouth:

“During a South Carolina [campaign] a lovely high school senior attended every night but refused to accept Christ. Shortly after the crusade while driving her car over a treacherous railroad crossing, she was killed instantly by a freight train she failed to see coming.”

“While in a Pennsylvania campaign, I witnessed a whole town shaken by the sudden deaths of six young men. Driving home from an afternoon football practice, they failed to stop at a major intersection and were struck broadside by a heavy truck. Six were dead within three hours.”

“I’ve seen babies die in their mothers’ arms. I’ve seen little boys and girls struck down before their lives had scarcely begun. I’ve witnessed men die in the prime of life and others at the height of success.” (Menace, pp. 49-50)

He told story of a girl who said she would give her life to God when she was old. A wise old woman sent her a bouquet of dead flowers, and when the girl expressed offense, she said, “Isn’t that the way you are treating God?”

And most memorable of all to my young mind: The old man saved in the eleventh hour of his life weeping in Daddy’s arms: “I’ve wasted it. I’ve wasted it.”

5. A merry heart does good like a medicine and Christ is the great heart-Satisfier.

That’s a quote from Proverbs 17:22. My father has been the happiest man I have ever known. Here is the kind of things he said in a sermon called “A Good Time and How to Have It.”

“Right from the start, let’s get one thing straight; a Christian is not a sour puss. I grant you that some of them look and act that way, but you simply can’t blame God for it.”

“Some folks seem to have been born in the objective case, the contrary gender and the bilious mood.”

“Mama, that mule must have religion too, he looks just like Grandpa.” (Good Time, p. 7).

He preached another sermon called “Saved, Safe and Satisfied.” He said, “He is God. When you fully trust Him you have all that God is and all that God has. You cannot be otherwise than satisfied with the perfect fullness of Christ.” (Good Time, p. 48).

He said worldly Christians are like a cow with her head stuck through fence eating stubby grass on the highway while a beautiful green pasture lies behind her.

A merry heart does good like a medicine and Christ is the great heart-Satisfier. What a legacy of joy my father has left!

6. A Christian is a great doer not a great don’ter.

We Pipers were fundamentalists without the attitude. We had our lists of things not to do. But that wasn’t the main thing. Here’s what my father preached in a sermon called The Greatest Menace to Modern Youth.

Millions insist upon thinking that Christianity is a negative religion. You don’t do this and you can’t do that. You don’t go here and your can’t go there. To the contrary, the Bible constantly sounds the triumphant and positive note. “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only.” . . . “Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do with all your might.”

God wants us to be doers, not don’ters. A Christian who is only a don’ter is a sour saint who spread gloom wherever he goes. A don’ter is usually a hypocritical Pharisee. Years ago, I heard the late Dr. Bob Jones say. “Do so fast you don’t have time to don’t.” That sums it up.

That left an indelible mark on my life. We had strict standards, but I never chaffed under them. They were not the point. Enjoying Christ, doing good and loving people was the point. The rest was just fencing to protect the good field of faith and purity.

7. The Christian life is supernatural.

I have one precious DVD of my father preaching. It is a message on new the new birth. John 3:7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Becoming a Christian was not a mere decision. It was a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

And therefore he believed in prayer—crying out to God to do the miracle of the new birth. We prayed together every night as a family, because the great need in life is supernatural, divine power to live with joy—and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not a work of our own.

I saw that my father’s work was not a human work. It was divine work. Impossible work. But with God all things are possible.

8. Bible doctrine is important but don’t beat people up with it.

At this point he admitted openly to me with grief that our fundamentalist tradition let him down. There was great truth, but too many of them were not great lovers. I can remember him saying: If they only understood Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love.” So from as early as I can remember he showed me the importance of both right doctrine and the way of love. They must never be separated.

9. Respect your mother.

If you wanted to see Daddy angry, let one of his children sass our mother. He not only knew the command of God to honor our mothers; he also knew the extraordinary debt that every child owes a mother. Time and again he would compare true love not to married love but to mother’s love. He knew the price my mother paid for him to be away so much. Therefore, he would tolerate no insolence or disrespect toward her. I trembled at the fierce gaze in his eyes if I said something sarcastic to my mother.

10. Be who God made you to be and not somebody else.

My father was short, a good bit shorter than I am. But he was content and could joke about it. The one I remember is that he said he was part of a football team as boy, and the name of the team was “Little potatoes but hard to peel.” I think God delights to make short men great preachers. (Remember John Wesley!)

For me this contentment with being who God made you to be meant freedom. He never forced me or pressured me to be an evangelist or a pastor or anything else. His counsel was always: seek God and be what he has made you to be. And then what your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for the glory of Christ.

I close with one more truth, the central truth of my father’s life. This was what he preached and what he loved. So I will let him preach it one more time to you as we close:

11. People are lost and need to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

My father was an evangelist. His absence from home two thirds of the year (in and out, in and out) meant one main thing. Sin and hell are real and horrible, and Jesus Christ is a great savior. Here’s a direct quote from my Dad:

“In my evangelistic career I have had the thrill of seeing people from all walks of life come to Christ. I have seen many professional people saved. I have knelt with Ph.D.’s and led them to Jesus. College professors, bankers, lawyers, doctors. I have seen them all saved.

Then I have seen many from the other side of life come to the Lord. I have put my arm around drunkards in city missions and prayed with them. I have sat by the bedside of dying alcoholics and led them to Christ. I have seen the poor, the forsaken, the derelicts, the outcasts all come to the Savior. Yes, God takes them, too. Isn’t it wonderful that anyone who wants to can come to Christ.” (Grace for the Guilty, p. 111)

Perhaps you never had a father like that, but right now you hear your heavenly father calling, “Come home, come home!” Father’s Day would be a good time to stop running and come home.

I thank you heavenly father for my earthly father. What a legacy he has left to me and my children and grandchildren—and to this church. O, raise up fathers in this church with great legacies of faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Desiring God

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

The submissive wife by Brian Chapell (essential read)

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph 5:22-24).

When Fergie married Andrew we marveled at the days of pageantry surrounding the wedding, but what most of us remember is a moment when their vows were taken. Fergie was supposed to say to her groom, “I promise to love, honor, and obey…” She did say the phrase, but not without a sideways grin at the Prince that said much more. Her look could hardly have more clearly articulated the new Duchess’s thought: “You gotta be kidding. Nobody really believes those anachronisms about wifely submission anymore, and you had better not!” She repeated the vows, but with a toss of her head Fergie as clearly tossed away the content of those words without any indication of what commitments should or could take their place. In hindsight, that smirk of bemused lip service to traditions not intended to be truly honored has become a sad illustration of a royal marriage gone awry. But it is not merely royalty to whom the illustration applies.

It is my guess that if we strip away party platforms and lip service we too readily give to the official positions of our churches, political agendas, families, or traditions we will also find large question marks remain in all the thinking people about the current responsibilities of women in marriage. Hal Farnsworth, a Reformed University Ministries campus minister at Vanderbilt, tells me, “It does not matter whether the intelligent women on my campus are liberal feminists or conservative traditionalists, if you can get them to talk honestly about their deepest concerns most will say that even when they make choices according to one perspective that they constantly wonder if they are right. Deep down they are desperate for a credible authority to tell them what women are supposed to be.”

Sadly, our churches have not proved to be a credible enough authority to settle the issue even among themselves. I know of some churches that have urged women fed up with abusive husbands to leave their marriages. Others have used discipline to try to force women to submit to husbands guilty of the same offenses under the assumption that the abuse is a result of the women not being submissive enough. I hear the resultant confusion among my own relatives as women long committed to marriage and deeply desiring to honor Scripture have after decades of sacrifice cried out in emotional exhaustion and spiritual agony, “I know the Bible says to submit, but I can’t continue to live this way. I have tried, but I can’t keep on. I just can’t.”

From palaces to campuses to churches to our homes and hearts the questions echo: What really is a wife supposed to love, or to honor, or to obey? I do not have all the answers to the questions this fragmented and broken society demands that I consider. However, I do know that some of the flip answers we often give do not consider the complexity of our age, the dignity of each person, and the authority of God’s Word. Many of these principles appear in this passage which I cannot read without discovering a rather straight answer to the ultimate question we have to ask: “What is a Christian wife to be?” The inescapable answer here (for those who believe this Word is authoritative) is stated directly–a Christian wife is to be submissive. However, lest that answer merely be simplistic, we must carefully assess the requirements, nature, and goals of this submission.

The Duty of a Christian Wife
The duty to which God calls Christian wives could hardly be more clearly stated by the apostle: “Wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (vs. 22). However, as you well know, simply repeating the word “submit” or even giving its Greek origin (which means “to arrange under”) does not tell us all we feel we have to know. What does Paul intend for us to understand by submission?

Submission Does Not Mean “Nothing”
We know that submission cannot be an incidental term without meaning because of the comprehensive ways in which it is addressed. If we do not understand what submit means Paul first gives us a comparison analogy. Wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (vs. 22). As all persons should arrange their lives under the righteous purposes of their Lord so wives should prioritize their lives relative to husbands’ purposes in God’s kingdom. Lest that comparison prove insufficient, the apostle then adds a more compelling example of his thought based on the relationship of Christ and the church. As the church submits to Christ as its head, so wives should submit to their husbands’ headship (vs. 23-24). As the church would never think it could fulfill its purposes without submission to the holy will of its Lord, the apostle reminds women that they cannot fulfill their divine purposes if they are not submitting to the biblical purposes of their husbands. Finally, lest we assume Paul only means these standards to apply to some narrow part of life, the apostle clarifies the comprehensive extent of his instruction by saying that “wives should submit to their husbands in everything (vs. 24).” These really are comprehensive words.

The Scope of Scripture’s Witness
As comprehensive as these words appear in this place, however, we might still find a way to narrow their intent if this seemed to be an exceptional passage. Then, our culture as well as our biblical interpretation principles of letting Scripture interpret Scripture and allowing clearer passages to interpret less obvious passages might well lead us to conclude these “submission” words do not really mean anything for us. We cannot draw such a conclusion in light of the consistent commitment of Scripture to these concepts.

Note that wives are instructed three times in this passage alone to subject their priorities to their husband’s authority. Paul uses the same or related terminology about husbands and wives in at least five other books (viz. 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Titus). The Apostle Peter also tells wives, “be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pt 3:1). This “gentle and quiet spirit” Peter then ties to Israel’s earliest history saying it was with such a demeanor that “Sarah obeyed Abraham” (1 Pt 3:4-6). Paul goes back even further in the Ephesians and Corinthians passages by relating this order of family relationships to the events of creation (vs. 31). The effect of this consistent witness is to spread the instruction for wives to submit to husbands not only over one passage, but across the Pauline material, through the New Testament, to Israel’s origins and throughout humanity’s history. Submission (so comprehensive in its imperatives, scope, and duration) cannot mean nothing.

Submission Does Mean Something
The something that submission means is perhaps most obvious in light of the purpose it fulfills. Paul reminds us of this when in the same passage he refers to the genesis of the marriage relationship saying, “For this reason a man will leave his Father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…” (vs. 31, 32). These words tell us that submission is the pouring oneself into the completion of another. It is the sacrificing of self to make a relationship, and those in it, whole. Paul says this is a profound mystery and we can well attest to that. It is so past our explaining (and yet so obvious to us) that God has made those of us not gifted for celibacy so that we are never quite whole–in our relational maturity, in our personal development, or even in our spirituality–without those he intends to complement and complete us in marital oneness.

We will look at another individual (or even at ourselves) after a few years of marriage and say, “That person has so matured, so leveled out, or become so less self-absorbed since marrying so and so.” At least, that is what we say if the marriage is functioning well. If the marriage is going poorly, we typically recognize that the self-absorption, immaturity, or character flaws may be even more prominent. When the real oneness God intends for marriage does not occur, then the people themselves become less whole. Though this is a mystery it fits precisely with the pattern of Scripture which tells us that since God made us such that marriage would make us whole, then the abuse or neglect of that union must damage us.

Ultimately it is this knowledge of the way in which our lives affect each other that directs our understanding about what the apostle says here about the mutual responsibilities of marriage. To the husband is given the authority for the sacrificial responsibility of biblical headship that is designed to lead a family in the paths of God. To the wife is committed the nurture and care to support him so that he can carry out these responsibilities. Each has responsibility for the other to the end that the family unit as a whole is whole and healthy before God. Note this goal is much clearer than a specific set of behaviors imposed on every couple despite differing personalities, gifts, and situations. We are not obligated by some simplistic imposition that determines who takes the garbage out, who washes dishes, or how many hours outside of the home a spouse may work or play without crossing some definite biblical threshold of marital correctness. The responsibilities of marriage are determined at the deepest levels of the Christian heart, and call for the most diligent, honest, conscientious questions of self-examination. The husband must not only ask, “Am I leading my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Is my leadership self-serving or sacrificial?” Similarly, the wife must not only ask, “Do my actions, words, and attitudes enable my husband to lead my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Have I truly in everything submitted my life to this highest priority?”

These are questions that cannot be answered by arbitrary, cultural, or merely traditional role assignments regarding such things as who gets to talk first, who writes the checks, or who gets to drive. The inappropriateness of culturally imposed rules is obvious when we understand that submission (in addition to requiring the pouring of oneself into the completion of another) involves the exercising of gifts for the glory of another. This becomes most apparent when you recognize the balanced construction of the instruction Paul gives wives and husbands in this passage. His instruction for husbands directs them to use their headship as Christ used his for the glory of his bride, the Church (vs. 25-27). The effect is to remind husbands that they must never abuse their authority so that they rob their wives of “radiance” (cf. vs. 27). At the same time wives are told not to so disregard submission that they rob their husbands of “respect” (vs. 33). Discerning how wives make sure they fulfill this obligation requires us to recognize the implications of Paul’s comparison of marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church. The Church does not honor Christ by dispensing with the gifts and graces God provides. Rather she is called to arrange all her energies and abilities under the grand purpose of glorifying the Savior. To do less would not be submission; it would be disobedience. By this line of thought we grow to understand the wisdom of Paul’s terminology. Biblical submission truly is an “arranging under” of one’s own gifts for the glory of another. Such submission is never an abdication of responsibility for another’s welfare, nor is it an abandonment of one’s own gifts to fit a culturally determined role.

Let me indicate at least one reason why humanly prescribed behaviors are an insufficient measure of biblical submission. On a church council outside our locale there is a lay leader who asks every new pastoral candidate entering that denomination’s churches, “Does your wife submit to you?” This man’s agenda is to make each candidate prove to the council that he has control of his family the way this official thinks headship should be practiced–meaning the way he controls his own family. However, it would be tragic if candidates actually did satisfy this official.

Over the years this man’s friends have watched as his intelligent, once glowing and buoyant wife has become increasingly silent, sullen, and dowdy under his “headship.” Sadly, the more withdrawn she has become the more obnoxious, belligerent, and accusing he has become with everyone in his path. The more she retreats from her own gifts the more his faults assert themselves. You need to hear me clearly say that I am not blaming her for his faults. I am simply noting the marital results of a spouse’s suppressed gifts. Yet, despite the obvious deterioration of their Christian witness both parties in this marriage claim the wife is biblically submitting to her husband because she only talks when he allows, only leaves the home when he permits, only wears what he approves. How sad. By limiting headship and submission to a certain set of behaviors they have actually lost sight of their true biblical priorities of promoting God’s glory and, thus, they have diminished each other. I cannot prescribe the specific actions this wife should do each day, nor would I pretend to know when certain things should have been discussed between these two people in years gone by. I do know, however, (and their lives confirm this) that submitting one’s life to the good of another does not mean abandoning them to their faults, nor abandoning one’s own gifts. God does not expect anyone to minimize the gifts he grants for a worship response to his own creative character and through which he has designed the character and happiness of a marriage to mature. Submission ultimately is not the suppression of gifts but the full expression of them in behalf of another.

The Dignity of a Christian Wife
It is this expression of gifts in behalf of another that further defines submission not only in terms of duty, but also in terms of dignity. To see how biblical submission grants dignity you must examine the precise wording of this passage. Such an examination may initially yield a shock. Where our translations say, “Wives submit to your husbands” (vs. 22), the word “submit” does not appear in the original language of the text. The very word we are so ready to debate is not actually present in this verse. Interestingly its absence not only underscores the necessity of submission, it is also confirms the dignity of a Christian wife.

The Value of a Christian Wife
The place the word “submit” does appear is the preceding verse where the apostle concludes his instruction on being “filled with the Spirit,” by saying we should all “Submit to one another out of reverence to the Lord” (vs. 21). The instruction to wives then follows as only the first constituency among Christians to whom the submission mandate applies. Next will follow husbands, then fathers, then children, then slaves, then masters. The construction of the passage, thus, unfolds with the following impact:

Submit to one another…Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord (5:22-24, 33); Husbands, by giving yourselves for your wives, as the Lord gave Himself for the church (5:25-33); Children, by obeying you parents (6:1-3); Fathers, by not exasperating your children (6:4); Slaves, by obeying masters properly from your hearts (6:5-8); and, Masters, by treating slaves with respect and fairness since you are slaves of Christ (6:9).

Each person is to submit whatever gifts, rights, or authority he or she has to the good of another for the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

The reason this structure confirms the dignity of a Christian wife is that it proves that her submission does not lessen her value or diminish her place in the kingdom. All Christians are to submit themselves to the good of others whom God has placed in their lives. Although the apostle clearly assigns differing purposes to husbands and wives, he just as clearly exempts no one from the requirement of having the attitude that was also Christ’s who made himself nothing and became obedient to God’s call for selfless sacrifice (cf. Phil 2:5ff.). In Christ’s Kingdom submission does not lessen believers’ standing, it confirms their place. Christians’ responsibilities vary, their value does not. To conclude otherwise is to reason that Christ became an inferior in the Godhead when he submitted himself to the Father, or that the Spirit deserves less glory because he fulfills the purposes of the Son. By his Trinitarian nature our God has made it abundantly clear that an equality of value does not require an identity of roles.

To Respect Her Husband
Paul concludes this address to husbands and wives with the instruction for men to “love” their wives and for wives to “respect” their husbands (vs. 33). Here the apostle seems to be dealing with each gender at the weak points of our relational tendencies. Often a man’s great temptation is to use the power of his position and physique to enforce dictatorial rule or to indulge passive self-absorption. A woman’s comparable temptation is to use the power of words and emotions to diminish a husband’s influence so that she has control of the home. Paul allows neither “power play,” by commanding men to love their wives sacrificially and commending women who respect their husbands.

Something in us instinctively knows the power of the forces the apostle is seeking to curb. When Kathy and I were first married and living in an apartment in a low-income part of this city, the paper-like walls and floors of the complex gave us an ear-opening perspective on the way some people live. The vileness and violence so many of the families around us considered normal were shocking to us. Most curious was the minister’s family below us. Most of their fights were about who was the better witness. We usually tried to ignore the shouts and slaps until he started choking her so she could not respond, and then we would have to find some way to intervene. It was awful. But as Kathy and I would night after night try to close our ears to the conflict as it built, we would sometimes turn to one another and say, “Why does she taunt him so? She knows he is going to hit her.” We did not know then what we have now learned about abusive homes: that as often as a man will try to dominate a woman with his strength, a woman will try to control a man with shame.

Even if violence is not a part of your home you must learn by listening to the ways spouses try to get their way even in Christian marriages. With intimidation or intransigence that are both expressions of power, men often exert their control. Women by a look, a cutting remark, an accusation, or some embarrassing reminder, may seek to diminish a man so he becomes less sure of himself and, thus, more controllable. Sadly these factors often, then, turn cyclical as insecure men react to their sense of being diminished by becoming more dominating, which only gives a wife more opportunity to needle and shame, which subsequently triggers more abuse. When this cycle is in effect to any degree each party in the marriage is vying for power, but note Paul is crusading for love (cf. 5:1- 2). Love permits none of this grappling for spousal control. A Christian husband has no privilege to intimidate or ignore his wife; a Christian wife no right to diminish or shame her husband.

The Glory of a Christian Wife
The dignity of a Christian wife is not only spelled out in the comparison of her duty with others’ tasks, but also in the glory of the purpose God grants her. To understand the dignity of this purpose it may be helpful to compare it to the role current society sometimes advocates. Such a comparison is available in author Phoebe Hobby’s January 1994 review of current books addressed to women (as it appeared in Harper’s magazine). Hoban writes that in the past feminism has been about power and money. Now, however, she concludes-

Feminism is no longer a battle for equal opportunity in a male-dominated society, but a kind of 12-step recovery program for wounded women. There is an endless appetite for self-help books. They do not offer women still struggling in an unfair world any clarion call to arms. Instead they urge women to redefine their inner lives.

I remind you these words are not my assessment, but rather are the observations of a secular advocate of modern feminism. How sad (and revealing) that a movement with such altruistic rhetoric and so often correct pleas for justice, equality, and dignity now finds at its end that it was but another journey into me-ism. Whether this cause returns to the direction of getting more external affirmation of status or stays focused on inner healing, the result of the movement as it is currently framed is the same–a path for women that is but the pouring of one’s life and demands into the vain, cloying pursuit of “what’s-in-it-for-me.”

Whether it be a man or woman, we find nothing so detestable as a person driven by selfishness, and nothing so ennobling as a life given in service and sacrifice for others. If you can see this in the comic book life of a Donald Trump who gains power and wealth at the expense of our respect, and sense it in the life of a Mother Teresa who has the honor of the world and its rulers though she has nothing, then perhaps you can begin to gauge the dignity God grants to the wife who submits herself to the good of her husband and family. The Bible says that they will rise up and call her blessed (Prov 31:28).

Heaven’s Cheer
I sensed some of this divine pleasure at a social I attended a few days ago. There I took much delight in listening to an older couple sing their own version of “Do You Love Me” from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. At the point of the song where the stage characters are supposed sing, “After twenty-five years it’s nice to know,” this couple substituted their own marriage’s stats and sang, “After 48 years it’s nice to know.” In a church dominated by young marriages that have not yet stood the test of years, and in which we had just that evening heard previous stories from some in troubled relationships battered by cultural influences, the enduring love of this couple was more than endearing. It was inspiring. When they hit the last notes the room exploded in a standing ovation as we cheered for a love that had so powerfully encouraged us and had so radiantly persevered in them.

We were about to discover there was more for them to endure. Just a few minutes later their 41-year-old son also went on the stage to tell us about his current battle with cancer and the hope he still claims as a result of his parents’ life of faith. After the social when I spoke to the parents privately in a remote hallway of the church, I told them I was surprised to hear the cancer report. They said the report was only days old to them as well. There had been no history or warning signs to prepare them-just an out-of-the-blue telephone call: “Mom and Dad, I have cancer.”

As they told me this account of their beloved son, the recentness of the news with its shock, grief, and fear welled in the couple. The man, usually so stoic, could not keep tears from his eyes. When his wife saw that pain and the embarrassment of his tears, she touched his arm. It was such a simple and subtle gesture, and yet you could almost see the strength flow from her as he, then, collected himself and spoke again of their faith in God’s care.

The wife, I am sure, wanted to cry as much (if not more) than her husband wanted not to cry. Knowing her as I do, tears would have been far more typical of her, and she had no less a need to be comforted by him. Yet, in that moment he needed her strength and in that reassuring touch she sacrificed the expression of her own grief to minister to his pain. In their oneness she knew just how to help him, and how to preserve his respect in the midst of her own hurting. The gesture was a duty of deep love, a dignifying of him that dignified her, and a desire to serve another nurtured through a lifetime of serving God. Who witnessed this wife’s giving of herself in that caring touch in the hall? I did, and maybe one or two others, but for her I again heard applause–another standing ovation exploding this time from the portals of heaven as its hosts rejoiced for a wife who in those moments submitted her right to grieve to her husband’s need for support. I hope with her spiritual ears she heard it, too. I pray that on that day she sensed heaven’s regard for the beauty of her service; and, I pray that on this day she, like you, will know and claim the eternal value and scriptural glory of every wife who submits to her husband out of reverence for the Lord.

Rekindling the dying fire by Rev. Allen M. Baker

(VIA) Monergism

Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

Any Christian husband knows that obeying this command is an awe-filled, humbling task. Our tendency is to err in one of two directions. Some of us abdicate while others dominate. You are abdicating your responsibilities to your wife when you embrace passivity in your marriage, when you neglect your calling to love her sacrificially. Men instinctively move toward abdication. Adam in the garden told God that the woman he gave him was the cause of his disobedience. We have tried to pass the buck ever since. Some, in an effort to make sure they lead their wives, fall instead into dominating them, lording their authority over them, controlling them, running roughshod over their feelings, desires, needs. In either extreme the result surely will be agitation. A wife’s anger, bitterness, wrath, strife, inability to trust her husband with money or other women, and her tendency to languish emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically can be traced to the treatment she receives from her husband.

No wonder that after several years of marriage the passion fires can dissipate. No wonder both parties find themselves drifting into separate hobbies, recreations, vacations, and bedrooms. Remember this – the loss of love in a marriage (when your wife says that you do not love her anymore) is the husband’s fault. Strife, turmoil, and bickering are usually the wife’s fault, but they stem from her husband’s failure to love her as he ought, according to the prescription of the Apostle Paul.

So, what must any husband do to rekindle the dying fire of love in his marriage? In order to rekindle he must first repent. Repent of what? Of not loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The Apostle, after stating the wife’s subordinate role of submission, commands husbands to consider the love of Christ for his church. Paul later says the one flesh principle of Genesis 2:24, 25 is a mystery where Christ and his church are a type for marriage. Looking at Christ’s love for his church is to drive us to see how we are to love our wives. The love of Christ for his church is the model, ground, or foundation of a husband’s love for his wife (see John 3:16, 1 John 4:10). This love is never a mere feeling. It is active, purposeful, intentional. The character of this love is found in the fact that Christ willingly gave himself up for us. Paul uses the same language in Ephesians 5:1, 2 where he commands us to mimic God, to walk in love because Christ loved us and gave himself for us. The Greek text here has an interesting construction which reveals the intentionality of Christ’s love for us. It uses three hina clauses. These are purpose clauses- that he might sanctify her . . . that he might present to himself the church in all her glory . . . that she might be holy and blameless. Many think Paul is calling husbands to sanctify their wives by teaching them God’s Word so that they may be prepared to meet God on that great day. Certainly a husband is to teach and lead his wife, but I suggest this is not what Paul is stressing here. Instead he is wanting us to step back, take a long look as it were, at the remarkable, steadfast, sacrificial, eternal love of Christ for his church. He wants this love to grip us, to dominate our very souls. Our tendency as men is to see a problem and to move quickly to fix it. You probably are looking for three easy steps to rekindle your marriage. These sorts of things have only limited success. Real change, a real rekindling of love in your marriage, will come as the Holy Spirit rekindles your sense of the Triune God’s love for you.

Christian husband, will you survey the love of God for you in Christ? Do you not see the intentionality of his great love? In the so-called covenant of redemption in eternity past the Lord Jesus willingly offered to become human flesh in order to die for your sins, to be raised again for your justification. He said that he came to do his Father’s will. He said that he must work while it is still day, for when night comes no man can work. Luke tells us that he resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem. He said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. He said, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.’ Jesus did not embrace passivity. He offered himself up for you. Jesus does not abuse his position and power. He rightly demands our submission but he always leads in love, purity, and gentleness. The Father’s supreme plan has always been the salvation of his people for all the ages, all to the praise of the glory of his grace. The remarkable truth is that God has positionally sanctified you (putting you into a category of being righteous, called as saints) and he is also progressively sanctifying you, making you more like Jesus, by chastising, teaching, and leading you into all truth. He has washed you with the regenerating waters of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5), giving you a heart to love God and hate sin. He has declared you not guilty, having imputed to you his very righteousness or perfection. And He promises to take you to heaven when you die, to glorify you. Revelation 19 says that we are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, having been clothed with white garments. Positional sanctification, regeneration, justification, and glorification are all mentioned in Paul’s treatment of Christ’s love for his church mentioned in Ephesians 5:25-27.

Husbands, you will rekindle your love for your wife, you will repent of not loving her as you ought, when you are slain, overwhelmed, awed by the love of God for you in Christ. When you continue to hold to the notion that you have something to offer God, then you will continue in hard-hearted rebellion against God and your wife.

I could write pages on this topic, but I must stop. But consider this one last concept. In Hebrews 2 the writer tells us that Christ is no longer ashamed to call us his brethren, that through death he has rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil; and has removed the fear of death which held us in slavery all our days. Think about that. Meditate upon it. Ask God to stir up within you a new, experiential awareness of God’s remarkable, eternal, covenantal love for you. Seek it, and when you have it, when it wells up in your heart, then it will naturally spill out to those around you, especially your wife. You will want to serve her, to consider her needs, to sacrifice for her, to be intentional in putting her needs before your own. You will be grieved at abusing your role. You will delight to love her willfully, thoughtfully, thoroughly.

Rekindling the Dying Fire


Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.(Ephesians 5:25) 
Any Christian husband knows that obeying this command is an awe-filled, humbling task. Our tendency is to err in one of two directions. Some of us abdicate while others dominate. You are abdicating your responsibilities to your wife when you embrace passivity in your marriage, when you neglect your calling to love her sacrificially. Men instinctively move toward abdication. Adam in the garden told God that the woman he gave him was the cause of his disobedience. We have tried to pass the buck ever since. Some, in an effort to make sure they lead their wives, fall instead into dominating them, lording their authority over them, controlling them, running roughshod over their feelings, desires, needs. In either extreme the result surely will be agitation. A wife’s anger, bitterness, wrath, strife, inability to trust her husband with money or other women, and her tendency to languish emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically can be traced to the treatment she receives from her husband.No wonder that after several years of marriage the passion fires can dissipate. No wonder both parties find themselves drifting into separate hobbies, recreations, vacations, and bedrooms. Remember this – the loss of love in a marriage (when your wife says that you do not love her anymore) is the husband’s fault. Strife, turmoil, and bickering are usually the wife’s fault, but they stem from her husband’s failure to love her as he ought, according to the prescription of the Apostle Paul.So, what must any husband do to rekindle the dying fire of love in his marriage? In order to rekindle he must first repent. Repent of what? Of not loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The Apostle, after stating the wife’s subordinate role of submission, commands husbands to consider the love of Christ for his church. Paul later says the one flesh principle of Genesis 2:24, 25 is a mystery where Christ and his church are a type for marriage. Looking at Christ’s love for his church is to drive us to see how we are to love our wives. The love of Christ for his church is the model, ground, or foundation of a husband’s love for his wife (see John 3:16, 1 John 4:10). This love is never a mere feeling. It is active, purposeful, intentional. The character of this love is found in the fact that Christ willingly gave himself up for us. Paul uses the same language in Ephesians 5:1, 2 where he commands us to mimic God, to walk in love because Christ loved us and gave himself for us. The Greek text here has an interesting construction which reveals the intentionality of Christ’s love for us. It uses three hinaclauses. These are purpose clauses- that he might sanctify her . . . that he might present to himself the church in all her glory . . . that she might be holy and blameless. Many think Paul is calling husbands to sanctify their wives by teaching them God’s Word so that they may be prepared to meet God on that great day. Certainly a husband is to teach and lead his wife, but I suggest this is not what Paul is stressing here. Instead he is wanting us to step back, take a long look as it were, at the remarkable, steadfast, sacrificial, eternal love of Christ for his church. He wants this love to grip us, to dominate our very souls. Our tendency as men is to see a problem and to move quickly to fix it. You probably are looking for three easy steps to rekindle your marriage. These sorts of things have only limited success. Real change, a real rekindling of love in your marriage, will come as the Holy Spirit rekindles your sense of the Triune God’s love for you.Christian husband, will you survey the love of God for you in Christ? Do you not see the intentionality of his great love? In the so-called covenant of redemption in eternity past the Lord Jesus willingly offered to become human flesh in order to die for your sins, to be raised again for your justification. He said that he came to do his Father’s will. He said that he must work while it is still day, for when night comes no man can work. Luke tells us that he resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem. He said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. He said, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.’ Jesus did not embrace passivity. He offered himself up for you. Jesus does not abuse his position and power. He rightly demands our submission but he always leads in love, purity, and gentleness. The Father’s supreme plan has always been the salvation of his people for all the ages, all to the praise of the glory of his grace. The remarkable truth is that God has positionally sanctified you (putting you into a category of being righteous, called as saints) and he is also progressively sanctifying you, making you more like Jesus, by chastising, teaching, and leading you into all truth. He has washed you with the regenerating waters of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus3:5), giving you a heart to love God and hate sin. He has declared you not guilty, having imputed to you his very righteousness or perfection. And He promises to take you to heaven when you die, to glorify you. Revelation 19 says that we are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, having been clothed with white garments. Positional sanctification, regeneration, justification, and glorification are all mentioned in Paul’s treatment of Christ’s love for his church mentioned in Ephesians 5:25-27.Husbands, you will rekindle your love for your wife, you will repent of not loving her as you ought, when you are slain, overwhelmed, awed by the love of God for you in Christ. When you continue to hold to the notion that you have something to offer God, then you will continue in hard-hearted rebellion against God and your wife.I could write pages on this topic, but I must stop. But consider this one last concept. In Hebrews 2 the writer tells us that Christ is no longer ashamed to call us his brethren, that through death he has rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil; and has removed the fear of death which held us in slavery all our days. Think about that. Meditate upon it. Ask God to stir up within you a new, experiential awareness of God’s remarkable, eternal, covenantal love for you. Seek it, and when you have it, when it wells up in your heart, then it will naturally spill out to those around you, especially your wife. You will want to serve her, to consider her needs, to sacrifice for her, to be intentional in putting her needs before your own. You will be grieved at abusing your role. You will delight to love her willfully, thoughtfully, thoroughly.

 

Family Series 18 A – Fathers who give hope by John Piper

Proverbs 23:24

 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

You can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Our text is straightforward and simple this morning: „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” It divides naturally into three parts:

  1. First, there is the address, „Fathers.”
  2. Second, there is the command, „Do not provoke your children.”
  3. Third, there is the purpose of the command, „Lest they become discouraged.”

We will look at these three parts of the text one at a time in reverse order. First, we will direct our attention to the goal of Christian fathers, namely, rearing children who are not discouraged. Second, we will look at the duty of Christian fathers, namely, not to do those things that discourage children. And finally, we will focus on the leader in Christian parenthood, namely, fathers.

But first a word about the fatherhood of God.

The Fatherhood of God

Mai mult

NEXT – David Platt, May 2011 – Psalm 78 -Passing the Gospel to the next generation

David Platt discusses what is not a solution to passing the Gospel- things such as new programs, new fads, new type ministries, cooler personalities, pizza parties, etc. which have proven to be extremely ineffective to stem the tide of young people from walking away from their faith after their high school years.

The answer? the most effective way to pass the Gospel on to the next generation:

  1. The word must be foundational. We must be Biblical men and women. We want the Gospel to empower what ever we do not the other way around.
  2. Families must be strong. The stronger our marriages are and our parents are (God centered) and the church must be accountable… Families play a role but Jesus gave the Great Commission to the Church because families are temporary, but the Church is eternal.

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1st collector for NEXT – David Platt May 11,2011 Psalm 78
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Mami,cand credeai ca nu te vad

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1st collector for YouTube – mami,cand credeai ca nu te vad
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Living by Vows by Robertson McQuilken (Classic Reading-Marriage)

Robertson McQuilkin recently (this article is from 2004) resigned as president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina, after which he was named chancellor, a position that draws on his expertise while still allowing him to care for his wife.

As his wife suffered with Alzheimer’s, Robertson McQuilkin said, If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt. February 2004 Issue of Christianity Today.

After his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, college and seminary president Robertson McQuilkin found himself torn between two commitments, two divine callings. At the request of the CT editors, he shares the story of his struggle:

It has been a decade since that day in Florida when Muriel, my wife, repeated to the couple vacationing with us the story she had told just five minutes earlier. Funny, I thought, that’s never happened before. But it began to happen occasionally.

Three years later, when Muriel was hospitalized for tests on her heart, a young doctor called me aside. „You may need to think about the possibility of Alzheimer’s,” he said. I was incredulous. These young doctors are so presumptuous—and insensitive. Muriel was doing the same things she had always done, for the most part. True, we had stopped entertaining in our home—no small loss for the president of a thriving seminary and Bible college. She was a great cook and hostess, but she was having increasing difficulty planning menus. Family meals she could handle, but with guests we could not risk missing a salad and dessert, for example.

And, yes, she was having uncommon difficulty painting a portrait of me, which the college and seminary board—impressed by her earlier splendid portrait of my predecessor—had requested. But Alzheimer’s? While I had barely heard of the disease, a dread began to lurk around the fringes of my consciousness.

When her memory deteriorated further, we went to Joe Tabor, a neurologist friend, who gave her the full battery of tests and, by elimination, confirmed that she had Alzheimer’s. But because she had none of the typical physical deterioration, there was some question. We went to the Duke University Medical Center, believing we should get the best available second opinion. My heart sank as the doctor asked her to name the Gospels and she looked pleadingly at me for help. But she quickly bounced back and laughed at herself. She was a little nervous, perhaps, but nothing was going to get her down.

This time we accepted the verdict. And we determined from the outset not to chase around the country every new „miracle” treatment we might hear about. Little did I know the day was coming when we would be urged-on average, once a week-to pursue every variety of treatment: vitamins, exorcism, T chemicals, this guru, that healer. How could I even wife 1 look into them all, let alone pursue them? I was grateful to friends who made suggestions, because each was an expression of love. But for us, we would trust the Lord to work a miracle in Muriel if he so desired, or work a miracle in me if he did not.

One day the WMHK station manager, the program manager, and the producer of my wife’s morning radio program, „Looking Up,” asked for an appointment. I knew an occasional program she had produced was not used, but the response to her monologue of upbeat encouragement continued to be strong. Though the program was designed for women, businessmen often told me how they arranged their morning affairs so they could catch the program.

As the appointment began, the three executives seemed uneasy. After a few false starts, I caught on. They were reluctantly letting me know that an era was ending. Only months before they had talked of national syndication. I tried to help them out. „Are you meeting with me to tell us that Muriel cannot continue?” They seemed relieved that their painful message was out and none of them had to say it. So, I thought, her public ministry is over. No more conferences, TV, radio. I should have guessed the time had come.

She did not think so, however. She may have lost the radio program, but she insisted on accepting invitations to speak, even though invariably she would come home crushed and bewildered that her train of thought was lost and things did not go well. Gradually, reluctantly, she gave up public ministry.

Still, she could counsel the many young people who sought her out, she could drive and shop, or write her children. The letters did not always make sense, but then, the children would say, „Mom always was ,a bit spacy.” She also volunteered to read textbooks for a blind graduate student. The plan was to put them on tape so that others could use them. I was puzzled that those responsible never used them, until it dawned on me that reading and writing were going the way of art and public speaking. She was disappointed with each failure and frustration, but only momentarily. She would bounce back with laughter and have another go at it.

Muriel never knew what was happening to her, though occasionally when there was a reference to Alzheimer’s on TV she would muse aloud, „I wonder if I’ll ever have that?” It did not seem painful for her, but it was a slow dying for me to watch the vibrant, creative, articulate person I knew and loved gradually dimming out.

I approached the college board of trustees with the need to begin the search for my successor. I told them that when the day came that Muriel needed me full-time, she would have me. I hoped that would not be necessary till I reached retirement, but at 57 it seemed unlikely I could hold on till 65. They should begin to make plans. But they intended for me to stay on forever, I guess, and made no move. That’s not realistic, and probably not very responsible, I thought, though I appreciated the affirmation.

So began years of struggle with the question of what should be sacrificed: ministry or caring for Muriel. Should I put the kingdom of God first, „hate” my wife and, for the sake of Christ and the kingdom, arrange for institutionalization? Trusted, lifelong friends—wise and godly—urged me to do this.

„Muriel would become accustomed to the new environment quickly.” Would she? Would anyone love her at all, let alone love her as I do? I had often seen the empty, listless faces of those lined up in wheelchairs along the corridors of such places, waiting, waiting for the fleeting visit of some loved one. In such an environment, Muriel would be tamed only with drugs or bodily restraints, of that I was confident.

People who do not know me well have said, „Well, you always said, ‘God first, family second, ministry third.’ ” But I never said that. To put God first means that all other responsibilities he gives are first, too. Sorting out responsibilities that seem to conflict, however, is tricky business.

In 1988 we planned our first family reunion since the six children had left home, a week in a mountain retreat. Muriel delighted in her children and grandchildren, and they in her. Banqueting with all those gourmet cooks, making a quilt that pictured our life, scene by scene, playing games, singing, picking wild mountain blueberries was marvelous. We planned it as the celebration of our „fortieth” anniversary, although actually it was the thirty-ninth. We feared that by the fortieth she would no longer know us.

But she still knows us—three years later. She cannot comprehend much, nor express many thoughts, and those not for sure. But she knows whom she loves, and lives in happy oblivion to almost everything else.

She is such a delight to me. I don’t have to care for her, I get to. One blessing is the way she is teaching me so much—about love, for example, God’s love. She picks flowers outside—anyone’s—and fills the house with them.

Lately she has begun to pick them inside, too. Someone had given us a beautiful Easter lily, two stems with four or five lilies on each, and more to come. One day I came into the kitchen and there on the window sill over the sink was a vase with a stem of lilies in it. I’ve learned to „go with the flow” and not correct irrational behavior. She means no harm and does not understand what should be done, nor would she remember a rebuke. Nevertheless, I did the irrational—I told her how disappointed I was, how the lilies would soon die, the buds would never bloom, and please do not break off the other stem.

The next day our youngest son, soon to leave for India came from Houston for his next-to-last visit. I told Kent of my rebuke of his mother and how bad I felt about it. As we sat on the porch swing, savoring each moment together, his mother came to the door with a gift of love for me: she carefully laid the other stem of lilies on the table with a gentle smile and turned back into the house. I said simply, „Thank you.” Kent said, „You’re doing better, Dad!”

Muriel cannot speak in sentences now, only in phrases and words, and often words that make little sense: „no” when she means „yes,” for example. But she can say one sentence, and she says it often: „I love you.”

She not only says it, she acts it. The board arranged for a companion to stay in our home so I could go daily to the office. During those two years it became increasingly difficult to keep Muriel home. As soon as I left, she would take out after. me. With me, she was content; without me, she was distressed, sometimes terror stricken. The walk to school is a mile round trip. She would make that trip as many as ten times a day. Sometimes at night, when I helped her undress, I found bloody feet. When I told our family doctor, he choked up. „Such love,” he said simply. Then, after a moment, „I have a theory that the characteristics developed across the years come out at times like these.” I wish I loved God like that-desperate to be near him at all times. Thus she teaches me, day by day.

Friends and family often ask, „How are you doing?” meaning, I would take it, „How do you feel?” I am at a loss to respond. There is that subterranean grief that will not go away. I feel just as alone as if I had never known her as she was, I suppose, but the loneliness of the night hours comes because I did know her. Do I grieve for her loss or mine? Further, there is the sorrow that comes from my increasing difficulty in meeting her needs.

But I guess my friends are asking not about her needs, but about mine. Or perhaps they wonder, in the contemporary jargon, how I am „coping,” as they reflect on how the reputed indispensable characteristics of a good marriage have slipped away, one by one.

I came across the common contemporary wisdom in this morning’s newspaper in a letter to a national columnist: „I ended the relationship because it wasn’t meeting my needs,” the writer explained. The counselor’s response was predictable: „What were your needs that didn’t get met by him in the relationship? Do you still have these same needs? What would he have to do to fill these needs? Could he do it?” Needs for communication, understanding, affirmation, common interests, sexual fulfillment—the list goes on. If the needs are not met, split. He offered no alternatives.

I once reflected on the eerie irrelevance of every one of those criteria for me. But I am not wired for introspection; I am more oriented outward and toward action and the future. I even feel an occasional surge of exhilaration as I find my present assignment more challenging than running an institution’s complex ministry. Certainly greater creativity and flexibility are needed.

I have long lists of „coping strategies,” which have to be changed weekly, sometimes daily. Grocery shopping together may have been recreation, but it is not so much fun when Muriel begins to load other people’s carts and take off with them, disappearing into the labyrinth of supermarket aisles. Or how do you get a person to eat or take a bath when she steadfastly refuses? It is not like meeting a $10 million budget or designing a program to grasp some emerging global opportunity, to be sure. And it is not as public or exhilarating. But it demands greater resources than I could have imagined, and thus highlights more clearly than ever my own inadequacies, as well as provides constant opportunity to draw on our Lord’s vast reservoir of resources.

As she needed more and more of me, I wrestled daily with the question of who gets me full-time-Muriel or Columbia Bible College and Seminary? Dr. Tabor advised me not to make any decision based on my desire to see Muriel stay contented. „Make your plans apart from that question. Whether or not you can be successful in your dreams for the college and seminary or not, I cannot judge, but I can tell you now, you will not be successful with Muriel.”

When the time came, the decision was firm. It took no great calculation. It was a matter of integrity. Had I not promised, 42 years before, „in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part”?

This was no grim duty to which I stoically resigned, however. It was only fair. She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.

But how could I walk away from the responsibility of a ministry God had blessed so signally during our 22 years at Columbia Bible College and Seminary?

Not easily. True, many dreams had been fulfilled. But so many dreams were yet on the drawing board. And the peerless team God had brought together-a team not just of professionals, but of dear friends-how could I bear to leave them? Resignation was painful; but the right path was not difficult to discern. Whatever Columbia needed, it did not need a part-time, distracted leader. It is better to move out and let God designate a leader to step in while the momentum is continuing.

No, it was not a choice between two loves. Sometimes that kind of choice becomes necessary, but this time responsibilities did not conflict. I suppose responsibilities in the will of God never conflict (though my evaluation of those responsibilities is fallible). Am I making the right choice at the right time in the right way? I hope so. This time it seemed clearly in the best interest of the ministry for me to step down, even if board and administrators thought otherwise. Both loves-for Muriel and for Columbia Bible College and Seminarydictated the same choice. There was no conflict of loves, then, or of obligations.

I have been startled by the response to the announcement of my resignation. Husbands and wives renew marriage vows, pastors tell the story to their congregations. It was a mystery to me, until a distinguished oncologist, who lives constantly with dying people, told me, „Almost all women stand by their men; very few men stand by their women.” Perhaps people sensed this contemporary tragedy and somehow were helped by a simple choice I considered the only option.

It is all more than keeping promises and being fair, however. As I watch her brave descent into oblivion, Muriel is the joy of my life. Daily I discern new manifestations of the kind of person she is, the wife I always loved. I also see fresh manifestations of God’s love-the God I long to love more fully. 11


John Piper on Believer’s Baptism vs. Infant Baptism and 1 Corinthians 7:13–14

Click here to read Infant Baptism and a Puzzling Text  article from Desiring God.

John Piper writes on why he is for Believer’s baptism:

Infant Baptism and a Puzzling Text

From age 18 to 28, my schooling became increasingly less congenial to believers’ baptism.

My History

I grew up in a Southern Baptist home and church. Then Wheaton College broadened my world, and I learned the word “Evangelical.” I discovered that there were Presbyterians who were better Christians than I was. Then Fuller Seminary challenged me again as the debate grew more intense.

Then at the University of Munich, I was totally alone. All the German students were Lutheran, and the few foreigners besides me were Presbyterian. Once I attended a class on “Spirit, Word, and Baptism in 1 Peter,” and was the lone voice for believers’ baptism, which to most of them seemed sectarian.

In the challenges I faced, I never found the case for infant baptism compelling. One reason was that I had read Paul Jewett’s Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace when I was in seminary. To this day, I find it totally compelling for believers’ baptism.

A Presbyterian With a Big Exception

Jewett was ordained in the American Baptist denomination, but became a Presbyterian minister while I was at Fuller—with one exception. He got a special dispensation from the Presbytery—I don’t know how—that he not have to believe or teach infant baptism. That is how convinced he was.

Here is an example of how he helped me. Often 1 Corinthians 7:13–14 is used to defend infant baptism.
If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy(hagiastai)because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy (hagiastai) because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (hagi).

This text poses significant problems if one claims that the “holiness” of the children warrants their baptism. For example, that same “holiness” of the unbelieving partner does not warrant his or her baptism. Perhaps that incongruity is owing to the fact that in this context, the “holiness” of the children and the spouse has nothing to do with baptism.

Perhaps it refers to the “sanctity” of lawful marriage and legitimate children. The marriage is still lawful (though one is an unbeliever), and the children are legitimate (though born of this mixed union). The “sanctity” (holiness) of marriage and birth are not compromised.

Here is Jewett’s summary interpretation:

The sanctity of the original marriage, which the Corinthians were doubting, the apostle is affirming. Therefore, “let not the believer leave the unbeliever,” he says, “because the unbeliever has been and still is [Greek perfect tense of hagiazo] sanctified by the believer”; that is, he/she has been and still is set apart by the believer through the marriage covenant for his/her exclusive enjoyment in the marriage relationship. . . . Otherwise, our children would be “unclean,” that is, illegitimate. But you know that is not so; rather they are “holy,” that is, legitimate (135–136).

Then Jewett, shows from Jewish sources like the Mishna, that the Hebrew stem for holiness (kadash) is used in just this way at least ten times, signifying the setting apart of a woman to be a man’s wife. “A man ‘sanctifies,’ tthat is, espouses, a wife by himself or by his messenger” (136).

The point here is not that this settles the issue of infant baptism. The point is to simply bring some clarity to a puzzling text, lest it seem too obviously to support infant baptism.

And just like in the old college days, I still keep running into Presbyterians and Anglicans who are better Christians than I am.

© 2011 Desiring God

Kevin DeYoung on Money and Possessions (essential reading)

You can read the entire article here: The Gospel Coalition (Please use Google translate for Romanian translation)

In his post Kevin lists the  ten principles from Proverbs on money and material possessions, from the sermon he preached at the Church he pastors. This is the most in depth (yet short) and wise, theological subject – essay I have come across and it is much needed in our Romanian-American community.

Money and Possessions in Proverbs

The Bible says a lot about money and possessions. There are a lot of verses about wealth and poverty. With some topics, we can get off track because the Bible says so little. What should we think of tanning? Well, we don’t have a lot of specific instructions, so there’s not much to be dogmatic about.

But when it comes to money and possessions there’s an opposite problem. Because the Bible says so much about money it is tempting to develop an imbalanced theology of money.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Prosperity Theology comes from. Take a few promises of the Mosaic covenant out of their national context, take the promise in Malachi 3 about throwing open the storehouses of heaven, mix in some of Jesus’ statements about receiving whatever you ask for in faith, and you can bake up a little health and wealth gospel.

On the other hand, it’s possible to come up with an imbalanced Austerity Theology. Point out that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, turn to the story of the rich young ruler, stir in the parable of the rich fool, and you’ll have a theology that says money is bad and so are those who have it.

You could make a biblical argument that God loves rich guys. Just look at Abraham, Job, and Zacchaeus. Look at the way he blesses obedient kings. Look at the vision of cosmic delight in the garden and in the age to come.

You can just as easily make a biblical argument that God hates rich guys. Just look at the rich man and Lazarus. Look at the book of James. Look at Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.

So how should we think of money and possessions? What biblical principles should we keep in mind as we see wealth and poverty, as we handle our own wealth or poverty? There are few things the Bible talks about more often. Which is good, because there are few things as relevant to all people everywhere as getting a good theology of money.

A Place to Start

Proverbs is a good place to start in developing a biblical theology of material possessions. For starters, there are a lot of verses on the subject. More important, there are several diverse strands of teaching on the subject. If you started with Genesis, you might conclude God always prospers his people. If you started with Amos, you might think all rich people are oppressors. But Proverbs looks at wealth and poverty from several angles. And because Proverbs is a book of general maxims, the principles in proverbs are more easily transferable to God’s people at different times and places.

I’ll give the points roughly in order of how much Proverbs says about a particular principle. That way we’ll end with the most important themes.

Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs

1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).

2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:9; 13:7).

3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:2; 29:13).

4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-10; 11:24; 22:9).

5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:15; 14:20; 19:4).

6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:7; 11:28; 13:8).

7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:6; 22:16, 22-23).

8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:21, 31; 19:7; 28:21)

9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-11; 10:4; 13:11; 14:2421:17, 20; 22:4, 13; 27:23-27; 28:20

10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-11, 18-19; 24:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:17; 17:1).

Reaching Delicate Conclusions and Finding Christ

You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.

  • You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
  • Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
  • God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
  • It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
  • Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 says that Christ is for us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Money can’t give you any of the things you ultimately need. It can’t make you holy. It can’t make you righteous. It can’t save you from your sins. Wealth is a sign of blessing, but it’s also one of your biggest temptations because it entices you to boast in yourself. It promises to be your self-worth and promises to make you self-sufficient. It invites you to boast in something or someone other than the Lord.

So through and through money is an issue of faith. Believe that doing things God’s way is the best way for you. Believe that if you give your money away, he can give it back. Believe that money can be good. But don’t you dare believe it is everything. Money is a gift from God, but the gifts you really need can only be found in God.

Books by Kevin DeYoung

True Woman | Read The Manifesto

True Woman | Read The Manifesto. (source)

The True Woman Movement is a worldwide, grassroots movement that was birthed on October 11, 2008, as over 6,000 women gathered in Chicago, Illinois, for the unveiling and signing of the True Woman Manifesto at Revive Our Hearts’ first True Woman Conference with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Joni Eareckson Tada, Kay Arthur and Mary Kassian.

What’s The Point?

The goal of the True Woman Movement is to help women . . .

  • Discover and embrace God’s design and mission for their lives
  • Reflect the beauty and heart of Jesus Christ to their world
  • Intentionally pass on the baton of Truth to the next generation
  • Pray earnestly for an outpouring of God’s Spirit in their families, churches, nation, and world

A personal and corporate declaration of belief, consecration, and prayerful intent—to the end that Christ may be exalted and the glory and redeeming love of God may be displayed throughout the whole earth.

We believe that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the Creator of life, and that all created things exist for His pleasure and to bring Him glory.1

We believe that the creation of humanity as male and female was a purposeful and magnificent part of God’s wise plan, and that men and women were designed to reflect the image of God in complementary and distinct ways.2

We believe that sin has separated every human being from God and made us incapable of reflecting His image as we were created to do. Our only hope for restoration and salvation is found in repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ who lived a sinless life, died in our place, and was raised from the dead.3

We realize that we live in a culture that does not recognize God’s right to rule, does not accept Scripture as the pattern for life, and is experiencing the consequences of abandoning God’s design for men and women.4

We believe that Christ is redeeming this sinful world and making all things new, and that His followers are called to share in His redemptive purposes as they seek, by God’s empowerment, to transform every aspect of human life that has been marred and ruined by sin.5

As Christian women, we desire to honor God by living counter-cultural lives that reflect the beauty of Christ and His gospel to our world.

To that end, we affirm that…

Scripture is God’s authoritative means of instructing us in His ways and it reveals His holy pattern for our womanhood, our character, our priorities, and our various roles, responsibilities, and relationships.6

We glorify God and experience His blessing when we accept and joyfully embrace His created design, function, and order for our lives.7

As redeemed sinners, we cannot live out the beauty of biblical womanhood apart from the sanctifying work of the gospel and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.8

Men and women are both created in the image of God and are equal in value and dignity, but they have distinct roles and functions in the home and in the church.9

We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.10

Marriage, as created by God, is a sacred, binding, lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.11

When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to authority that reflects Christ’s submission to God His Father.12

Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.13

Human life is precious to God and is to be valued and protected, from the point of conception until rightful death.14

Children are a blessing from God; women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life, whether it be their own biological or adopted children, or other children in their sphere of influence.15

God’s plan for gender is wider than marriage; all women, whether married or single, are to model femininity in their various relationships, by exhibiting a distinctive modesty, responsiveness, and gentleness of spirit.16

Suffering is an inevitable reality in a fallen world; at times we will be called to suffer for doing what is good—looking to heavenly reward rather than earthly comfort—for the sake of the gospel and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.17

Mature Christian women have a responsibility to leave a legacy of faith, by discipling younger women in the Word and ways of God and modeling for the next generation lives of fruitful femininity.18

Believing the above, we declare our desire and intent to be “true women” of God. We consecrate ourselves to fulfill His calling and purposes for our lives. By His grace and in humble dependence on His power, we will:

  1. Seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.19
  2. Gladly yield control of our lives to Christ as Lord—we will say “Yes, Lord” to the Word and the will of God.20
  3. Be women of the Word, seeking to grow in our knowledge of Scripture and to live in accord with sound doctrine in every area of our lives.21
  4. Nurture our fellowship and communion with God through prayer—in praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and supplication.22
  5. Embrace and express our unique design and calling as women with humility, gratitude, faith, and joy.23
  6. Seek to glorify God by cultivating such virtues as purity, modesty, submission, meekness, and love.24
  7. Show proper respect to both men and women, created in the image of God, esteeming others as better than ourselves, seeking to build them up, and putting off bitterness, anger, and evil speaking.25
  8. Be faithfully engaged in our local church, submitting ourselves to our spiritual leaders, growing in the context of the community of faith, and using the gifts He has given us to serve others, to build up the Body of Christ, and to fulfill His redemptive purposes in the world.26
  9. Seek to establish homes that manifest the love, grace, beauty, and order of God, that provide a climate conducive to nurturing life, and that extend Christian hospitality to those outside the walls of our homes.27
  10. Honor the sacredness, purity, and permanence of the marriage covenant—whether ours or others’.28
  11. Receive children as a blessing from the Lord, seeking to train them to love and follow Christ and to consecrate their lives for the sake of His gospel and Kingdom.29
  12. Live out the mandate of Titus 2—as older women, modeling godliness and training younger women to be pleasing to God in every respect; as younger women, receiving instruction with meekness and humility and aspiring to become mature women of God who in turn will train the next generation.30
  13. Seek opportunities to share the gospel of Christ with unbelievers.31
  14. Reflect God’s heart for those who are poor, infirm, oppressed, widows, orphans, and prisoners, by reaching out to minister to their practical and spiritual needs in the name of Christ.32
  15. Pray for a movement of revival and reformation among God’s people that will result in the advancement of the Kingdom and gospel of Christ among all nations.33
Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
John Piper message at the True Woman 2008 conference (playlist-5 videos will play, one after the other in same player):
Footnotes 

  • 1 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11
  • 2Gen. 1:26–27; 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8
  • 3Gen. 3:1–7, 15–16; Mark 1:15; 1 Cor. 15:1–4
  • 4Prov. 14:12; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:18; 8:6–7; 2 Tim. 3:16
  • 5Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:12–14; Titus 2:14
  • 6Josh. 1:8; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16
  • 71 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Pet. 3:3–6
  • 8John 15:1–5; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 2:8–10; Phil. 2:12–13
  • 9Gen. 1:26–28; 2:18; Gal. 3:26–28; Eph. 5:22–33
  • 10Mark 9:35; 10:42–45; Gen. 2:18; 1 Pet. 5:1–4; 1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12–3:7
  • 11Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:7–9
  • 12Eph. 5:22–33; 1 Cor. 11:3
  • 13Luke 13:30; John 15:13; Eph. 4:32; Phil. 2:5–8
  • 14Psalm 139:13–16
  • 15Gen. 1:28; 9:1; Psalm 127; Titus 2:4–5
  • 161 Cor. 11:2–16; 1 Tim. 2:9–13
  • 17Matt. 5:10–12; 2 Cor. 4:17; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 2:21–23; 3:14–17; 4:14
  • 18Titus 2:3–5
  • 19Deut. 6:4–5; Mark 12:29–30
  • 20Psalm 25:4–5; Rom. 6:11–13, 16–18; Eph. 5:15–17
  • 21Acts 17:11; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:17–18; Titus 2:1, 3–5, 7
  • 22Psalm 5:2; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1–2
  • 23Prov. 31:10–31; Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22–24, 33b
  • 24Rom. 12:9–21; 1 Pet. 3:1–6; 1 Tim. 2:9–14
  • 25Eph. 4:29–32; Phil. 2:1–4; James 3:7–10; 4:11
  • 26Rom. 12:6–8; 14:19; Eph. 4:15, 29; Heb. 13:17
  • 27Prov. 31:10–31; 1 Tim. 5:10; 1 John 3:17–18
  • 28Matt. 5:27–28; Mark 10:5–9; 1 Cor. 6:15–20; Heb. 13:4
  • 29Psalm 127:3; Prov. 4:1–23; 22:6
  • 30Titus 2:3–5
  • 31Matt. 28:19–20; Col. 4:3–6
  • 32Matt. 25:36; Luke 10:25–37; James 1:27; 1 Tim. 6:17–19
  • 332 Chron. 7:14; Psalm 51:1–10; 85:6; 2 Pet. 3:9

The Bible and Neuroscience on Promiscuity by J.P.Moreland

Dr. Moreland’s blog header Bible verse:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and
whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 16:25

J.P.Moreland is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California. I have four earned degrees: a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Missouri, a Th.M. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M. A. in philosophy from the University of California-Riverside, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California.

During the course of his life, he has co-planted three churches, spoken and debated on over 175 college campuses around the country, and served with Campus Crusade for Christ for 10 years. For eight years, he served as a bioethicist for PersonaCare Nursing Homes, Inc. headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.

In his post Dr. Moreland quotes from , Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children.and starts out by affirming what we, as Christians now and believe about the impact of the Bible (the Word of God):

The Bible is the greatest source of wisdom for life in all of humanity.  If followed, its teaching regularly and without rival leads to human flourishing.  It is important to keep this in mind, because, since the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, current after current of alleged thought has told us to jettison scriptural teaching in favor of some recent, more updated findings.  This has especially been true in the sexual revolution, which tells us that traditional biblical morality is stifling and repressive.  However, if the Bible is true, one would predict that. In fact, following its teachings would lead to flourishing, and disobeying its teachings would have a deleterious effect on people.

Then he proceeds to discuss the surprising  findings in the book (surprising that is, if you are an unbeliever):

So far as I know, neither author is a believer, and if he or she is, neither’s religious views form a part of his/her arguments.  The thesis of the book is that, given current brain research, is it now beyond reasonable doubt that sexual promiscuity (basically, any intense sexual activity, including, but not limited to, intercourse) has a negative impact on one’s brain chemistry, one’s health, one’s ability to enjoy sex, and one’s ability to connect emotionally and relationally with someone.  They argue that only in the context of traditional marriage can sexual relations be life-giving.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

(VIA)Brett Kunkle Stand To Reason

The threat of pornography to marriage by 9Marks ministry

from 9marks ministry (Mark Dever’s ministry)I do not want human ideas. I want God’s word about the church. I turn with hope and confidence to Mark Dever’s radically biblical commitment. I thank God for 9Marks.” ~ John Piper, author and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

Premarital Counseling, Pornography and Marriage. To read the whole article click here.

CULTURAL CHANGE AND PORNOGRAPHY

9M: How do you think the culture has changed over the last fifteen or twenty years? What do you think marriages are facing now that they may not have faced twenty years ago?

WS: There are probably many cultural pressures that make marriage different than it was even 15 or 20 years ago. I will just point out one because it’s one of the most insidious. I’ve seen time and time again just how powerful and destructive pornography is in marriages. Of course, pornography is more than 20 years old, but what has changed in the last 20 years is technology. In the past there was this shame barrier that you had to be willing to cross. To really throw yourself into pornography, you had to go to a different part of town. You had to get out of your car and walk into a store and be willing to be seen. Your name and your face would be associated with the material that you were handling. Now anonymity seems almost guaranteed. It’s not just available to you, it’s invading your life. It’s promoting itself. It will pop up in your e-mails. It will show up on the movie menu in the hotel room. Probably the classier the hotel, the easier it is to view pornography and the more shamelessly it’s displayed.

Pornography is on the offensive against you. It’s coming after you. So you have to have real reasons to say no to it, not just because you are going to get caught. That’s not a good enough reason because you’ll have opportunities to secretly indulge in it. The mode of pornography has changed, and the message has become amplified. Without being graphic, anybody who’s seen pornography will probably know what I’m talking about. Pornography is ultimately about anonymous, meaningless relationships where the center of focus is personal gratification.

Sex is wonderful, but sex is intended by God to communicate meaning and purpose. It is intended to communicate God’s commitment, covenantal and sacrificial love, tenderness and care. It is not intended to communicate a freedom to do what you can get away with, focus on yourself, and engage in anonymous, meaningless relationships. You take those anti-relationship messages of pornography and pair them with a physiological high and you’ve got something really nasty on your hands. It doesn’t just enslave a person’s time and thought life. It begins to invade the rest of their relationships. Those same messages of convenience, pleasure, and self-focus leak all over your life—they don’t just stay on your computer .

9M: Do you have any wisdom for pastors and churches for taking the offensive—ways they can be proactive in the battle against pornography?

WS: I think one of the ways churches should work against this threat, very simply, is to start talking about it. And don’t just talk about it as something that’s out there in the culture, but talk about it as something that’s coming after us as individuals and families in the church. Create forums/arenas where people who are battling with it can talk about it without being shamed or treated like second class citizens. Create an open conversation where this problem is treated with the same care, concern, and tenderness as any other sins and struggle.

This is a very simple but bold step. You need to say, „We’re going to talk about it like it’s a problem in our church, because it is.” It is a given. Of course, this conversation should occur as part of the larger culture of discipling and accountability that pastors should be cultivating in their churches.

Then be really practical in giving people tools to do something about it.

  • If you have an Internet connection in your home, think of it as a portal to a XXX book store. You have a doorway in your house that leads to an adult book store if you have an internet connection, a cable TV, or satellite connection. So treat it like it’s a door that needs to be guarded and locked. It’s ok to be entertained with your computer, but you need to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You’re not just grazing on your computer.
  • Limit private access to the computer. If you have a desktop computer, put it in a family area with the screen facing the middle of the room.
  • There are all kinds of software available that are effective, but no software is foolproof. There are software options that are effective at erecting a barrier (stringing up some razor wire). If you break through, it’s because you wanted to break through – not because you were entrapped.

There are all kinds of basic things that we can do to protect ourselves, but we seem to walk around in churches with naiveté. People are assuming, „No one is talking about it so it must not be a problem.” I have seen countless examples of pastors and church administrators who’ve been ensnared by it. I have counseled people who work as cleaning staff who will log onto computers at night and look at pornography in the buildings they are cleaning. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will be helpful in battling this prevalent issue.

read entire dialogue here.

The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage by Albert Mohler

Click on ‘Fullscreen’ to enlarge and then press the ESC button to toggle back to regular screen. (Esc button is on your typing keyboard in the upper left corner by the F1 key)

View this document on Scribd

Family Series 16B- Biblical femininity for single women and How can I long to be married without obsessing for it? John Piper

Click to listen to the audio for-

We’re not on hold, Biblical femininity for single women

From a John Piper Question and Answer session:

How can I long to be married

without obsessing about it?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.How can I long to be married without obsessing about it?

I suppose the dynamics of that question and its answer relate not just to marriage, but to almost any strong desire that you have, especially a desire relating to people.

So my mind broadens out from the marriage issue to ask, „Why do we obsess about anything? Why do we have overweening preoccupations with anything?”

The reason is because God and his Son don’t have the place in our hearts that they should have. The human heart is a God-shaped vacuum—Pascal said that—and it’s designed for God to fill. And if we have small views of God, and inadequate perceptions of his greatness and his glory and his love for us and his sufficiency for us, then there will be big cavernous places in our souls. And they will be churning out these desires that are just huge and controlling, whether it’s a spouse or sexual things or money or praise of man or revenge.

A lot of people are just consumed. They can’t seem to shake it. And I think the answer there is not so much, „Fight, fight, fight! Stop doing that! Stop doing that!” but rather, „Devote yourself to knowing and loving God. Immerse yourself in the Word.”

So when it comes to desiring a spouse you admit, „Of course, I’d like to be married. And Lord, would you work that? Would you do that?” And then you rest in him. Delight yourself in the Lord. Get all of your desires focused on him, and then those desires will be managed in such a way that in due season God will satisfy them. That’s what we’re doing for our Fighter Verse this week. „Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

We were talking about that verse at our staff meeting the other day, in relation to marriage. And I forget who said it, but someone said that the problem is that we treat „Delight yourself in the Lord” like a tool. Like, „OK, I’ve done that. Why am I not married yet?” As though „Delight yourself in the Lord” is a quick little turn of the key, and you get what you want.

It isn’t like that. Delighting yourself in the Lord is an all-consuming, day-by-day quest to bring all of our desires into that one great desire, so that he does satisfy.

So you walk into a group of people, and your mindset should be, „Lord, I’m just going to be there for others, like you’ve been there for me. I’m not going to look at every person as a candidate for doing for me what my cavernous needs require right now. You’ve met those needs. I’m going to be there for others. And you do what you want. I’ll trust you.”

So the answer is to get our orientation off of our needs and onto the needs of others, and that’s only possible if God fills up that vacuum. Which means we should really devote ourselves to knowing him and being content in him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Duminica dimineata/Sunday mornings – with our tongues we speak both praises and curses

James 3:9-10

9-10My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right.

Family Series 7A – Teaching our children through prayer (via) The Good Book Blog

from the GoodBookBlog by Ken Berding

Last week I posted (see below titled ‘Actually Praying’) a piece in which I encouraged each of us to actually pray when we pray.  Since then my thoughts about prayer have moved in another direction, particularly as it relates to the training of our children.  I am becoming increasingly convinced that one of the most significant ways we convey spiritual truth to our children is through our prayers.  I believe that when we pray with our children, our children learn about our relationship with the Lord and what we believe about God.  Let’s look at three things we teach our children when they listen to us pray.

1.  When we pray, our children learn that we have a sincere relationship with the Lord.

This past Sunday I was talking with a friend about what children learn when they listen to their parents pray.  He shared with me that when he was growing up his father’s prayers were formulaic and seemed artificial to him.  But in recent years my friend has noticed a change in his elderly father’s relationship with the Lord.  What’s significant is that the chief way he has come to recognize the change is by listening to the way his father prays.

I grew up with a mother who had a sensitive relationship with the Lord, and I knew it from the way that she prayed.  When I was a child she used to tell me that even if all my friends stopped being my friends, Jesus would always be my friend.  I believed her.  The reason I believed her is that when she prayed I could tell that she was talking to her closest friend.

2.  When we pray, our children learn that we actually believe that God can and will answer our prayers.

Honestly, learning how to pray in groups in the United States has been kind of tough for me.  When my wife and I lived in the Middle East, we were often around Christians who were expecting God to do big things.  We knew it because of the way that they prayed.  But one message has come through loudly and clearly to me in most of the prayer meetings I have attended in the United States:  we don’t actually believe anything is going to happen when we pray!  I want my children to know that when we pray, we are speaking to a God who is strong enough to answer our prayers and who cares deeply enough to act on our behalf.

(Please note that you don’t generate such faith by trying really hard to believe; rather you increasingly develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit who helps you know how to pray and who increases your faith as you pray in dependence upon him.  But that is another topic for another day.)

3.  When we pray, our children learn what we believe about God.

I’ve thought more about this since reading Fred Sanders’s recently released book, The Deep Things of God:  How the Trinity Changes Everything. The basic biblical pattern is praying to the Father, on the basis of what the Son has done, empowered by the Spirit.  It is, of course, possible that we could communicate to our children a deficient view of the Trinity by praying always to Jesus as a friend, or being overly Spirit-focused in our prayers.  (I am not saying that a prayer thanking Jesus for his death on the cross or a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for him to empower you for witness is wrong, just that it isn’t the biblical pattern.)

Your children will learn from you that God is holy by listening to the way you confess your sins; that God is a God of power when you worship him; that God truly cares when you call upon him in your time of need, and so on.

When I’m alone with the Lord, one of the prayers I pray more than any other is: “Lord, I want it to be real.  I don’t want to be a fake.  I need your grace to live out what I teach.”  And now, by God’s grace, I want my children to see the same thing in me.  I don’t pray for them; I pray to the Lord.  But I think it’s good to remember that our children are listening.

Actually Praying by Ken Berding

One of the temptations that we as Christian leaders regularly face is to not pray when we pray.  We say prayers before meals, with our children before bed, before we teach Sunday school classes, and when we stand during worship services.  And if your life is anything like mine, you are the designated pray-er for family functions.  But there is a significant risk when we bow for prayer but don’t actually pray.

The Apostle Paul writes:  “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph 6:18).  Paul would agree that when we pray, we need to actually pray.

I’m convinced that every time we take a posture of prayer and don’t actually talk to the Lord, our hearts harden just a little to prayer; whereas every time we actually talk to God during a time of prayer, our hearts are just a bit softer the next time around.  This is why in our household there has always been one rule—and only one rule—when we pray together.  We don’t care whether you stand, sit, kneel, close your eyes, or lift your hands.  The rule is this:  When you pray, actually talk to the Lord.

Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to actually pray each and every time you pray.  Sometimes we feel forced into prayer postures.  One of my daughters during her middle school years expressed it this way:  “But if I don’t pray when everyone else is praying, what will people think?”

In any prayer situation in which your heart is not turned upward, my recommendation is that you pause, perhaps open your eyes for a moment, recalibrate, remind yourself Who it is you are talking to, and then offer a short prayer to the Lord.  The result of such patterning will be an ever increasing openness to the Lord and a softness toward prayer.

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