51OwLZoY4XL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_No discussion in our culture currently generates as much discussion as gay marriage. The two sides on this issue are firmly entrenched and passionate about where they stand. The tide turned dramatically the last decade and conservative Christians now find themselves holding the minority position in this discussion. In fact, Christian ethicist David Gushee pronounced that conservative Christians are the last obstacle to what he calls “the full acceptance of L.B.G.T. people.”

No Christian who is honestly following Jesus can justify mocking or mistreating a homosexual neighbor or family member. The Bible does not permit the Christian business owner to fire a homosexual cashier and deprive them of their livelihood, but this is not really the heart of the current debate is it? The current debate concerns the acceptance of homosexual behavior within the church and whether or not the Christian church should endorse same-sex marriage. On this issue Christians will remain “the last obstacle” because we are committed to the plain teachings of the Bible.

A line of scholars and writers are beginning to challenge what has been the unquestioned majority view of the church for the last two thousand years. They argue we have misunderstood some biblical texts and that others should be reinterpreted in light of recent findings in social science. Kevin DeYoung inserts himself into this debate with his newest book What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? DeYoung, senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, seeks to answer a simple question. “Is it a sin—something always outside of God’s will—when persons of the same gender experience sexual intimacy together, or can homosexual practice be holy and pleasing to God in the right circumstances?” While there are many associated questions he could wrestle with, this relatively short book focuses on this one question.

The first half of the book wrestles with key biblical texts about that speak to the current debate about homosexuality. While each passage he discusses may not reference homosexuality in particular, they all have bearing on the debate. For example, DeYoung works through the creation account in Genesis 1-2. He shares basic truths from the passage which speak to this debate. Importantly he also discusses what Jesus does with this passage since many revisionists insist that Jesus did not address this issue. In other chapters he wrestles with the controversial texts in Genesis 19, Leviticus 18, Leviticus 20, and Romans 1.

The chapter on the book of Leviticus is especially helpful. The objections to this book based on quips about shellfish and wearing two types of fabric have been used often. DeYoung, working from the text of Leviticus and looking at how the book gets quoted in the New Testament shows the abiding relevance of the book’s ethical teaching. He ultimately works through six reasons why this teaching is abiding. Christians taking part in these discussions must work through what DeYoung shares in this chapter.

The second half of the book deals with objections and apologetic questions about the historic Christian view on homosexuality. In wrestling with the common refrain that the Bible doesn’t speak often about homosexuality, DeYoung answers with this important point, “No positive argument for homosexuality can be made from the Bible, only arguments that texts don’t mean what they seem to mean, and that specific texts can be overridden by other considerations.” In this one statement he sums up the debate about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality. The Bible never speaks about it positively, and the revisionists only arguments are say the Bible doesn’t really say what we’ve always understood it to say. DeYoung closes the chapter on this note and it summarizes the message of the entire book, “The biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous: homosexual activity is not God’s will for his people. Silence in the face of such clarity is not prudence, and hesitation in light of such frequency is not patience. The Bible says more than enough about homosexual practice for us to say something too.”

Among the other objections that could be mentioned in this section, he answered the favorite statement of revisionists, “you’re on the wrong side of history.” This argument typically appeals to events such as the Civil Rights Movement and suggests that Christians holding traditional views on homosexuality are the modern equivalent of Governor Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. DeYoung demonstrates several fallacies with this line of thinking. First he shows that the progressive view of history this assumes has been demonstrated to be false and has been discredited as a historical methodology. He also reminds us that “progressive” ideas can prove to be more disastrous than traditional ones. Finally DeYoung marshals historical evidence to admonish those who hold the idea that all Christians in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries held racist views. He names many Christians and Christian groups who opposed the slave trade and racism over the course of centuries and closes with the salient point that no such divergence can be found in the history of the church on homosexual practice.

Kevin DeYoung capably handles the question of the Bible and homosexual practice capably in What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?. Using traditionally agreed upon exegetical methods, he shows that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual practices is both clear and unquestionable. The arguments used to question these conclusions are built on faulty exegetical and philosophical methods. In addition, DeYoung helpfully works through the philosophical fallacies at work in many of the arguments used against the traditional view of sexuality. These arguments are popular and they get repeated frequently, but they are built upon the sand.

Many wonder why books like this are needed and why we should have these discussions. This discussion is of great importance to the Christian church because it reveals what we believe about the Bible and how we should approach it. In order to argue that homosexual practice is acceptable for the Christian one would have to argue the Bible is not authoritative, the Bible is outdated in its conclusions, or that we have misunderstood the Bible’s teaching on sexuality for two thousand years. Coming to these conclusions will effect how we approach other doctrines. If the Bible does not speak authoritatively and accurately about sexuality, why should we trust what it says about loving your neighbor? If the Christian church has missed the boat on sexuality for two millennia, what else have Christians filled with God’s Spirit been missing as well? Furthermore, the interpretive approach taking by revisionist scholars were applied to other doctrines, what would become of the faith once for all delivered to the saints?

In this book, Kevin DeYoung works through the important biblical texts honestly and wrestles thoughtfully with important questions our culture is asking. I highly recommend that Christians with questions about the Bible and sexuality give a listening ear to What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?.

(I received a preview copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

(You can read other book reviews and notes here.)

A Few Good Reads

April 16, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

TGC: Day 1
TGC: Day 2

This week The Gospel Coalition’s national conference is taking place in Orlando. While I was not able to attend, I’ve been keeping up with some of the talks that have been given. This post shares some video, pictures, and quotes from the first two days of the conference.”

Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting
When I was a child we often walked around our neighborhoods unattended. Lately more stories have appeared where people have called the police at the sight of children walking somewhere without their parents. This post explores why we have started helicopter parenting other people’s children. “Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don’t hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. What’s truly strange is that the parents who are doing this were themselves left to their own devices in cars, allowed to ride their bikes and walk to the store unsupervised, and otherwise given the (limited) freedom that they are now determined to deny their own kids. The police are making arrests that would have branded their own parents as criminals. To hear people my age talk about the dangers of unsupervised children, you would think that the attrition rate in our generation had been at least 30 percent.”

How to Win Your Wife’s Heart Today
Matt Adair begins with a simple, yet important truth, “The most important day in your marriage is today.” As a father with three boys, he understands the struggles husbands and wives have connecting during the day. His four suggestions for engaging your wife’s heart are easy to implement and can lead to valuable conversations. “‘How was your day?’ That’s the question. And you can answer that question with more than a shrug and an ‘it was fine.’ Why? Because you wrote down the big moments in your day. And because you haven’t emptied your emotional chamber by sharing those moments with other people. Your wife is not getting your leftovers. She gets to hear about what matters most to you today.”

The Constitution We Don’t Understand
This essay from Senator Mike Lee examines the constitutional ignorance on Capital Hill. He reflects on Congress’ growing tendency to pass vague legislation and allow federal agencies to regulate the specifics. We need substantive changes to get our Republic in line with her founding documents. “In my Senate office stand two towers of documents. The first is only a few inches tall. A collection of all the legislation Congress passed in 2013, it contains about 800 pages. The second tower, which is 11 feet tall, is a collection of regulations federal agencies proposed and adopted in 2013. It contains about 80,000 pages.”

7 Tips for Surviving the Terrible Threes
You’ve heard of the terrible twos? Having a two-year-old is child’s play compared to having a child who is three. Ron Edmondson gives parents seven tips to survive this difficult stage of life. “He or she is exploring a new world, testing boundaries, discovering their own personality, and filtering through reactions of others. As with other phases the child will experience, this one is difficult for the child as well as the parent, but in this phase the child is the least mature in the relationship and their reaction, by the way, should be likewise.”

Great Kindle Deal
Many Christians wrestle with periods of melancholy, darkness, and depression. John Piper’s When the Darkness Will Not Lift walks believers through the process of seeing the goodness of God and finding joy when things are tough. Amazon is offering this helpful book on Kindle for $1.99.

(This is the fourth post in the “How to Grow as a Husband” series. You can click the links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

In two weeks thousands of people will converge in Louisville, Kentucky for the state’s greatest spectacle, the Kentucky Derby. Millions watch the nation’s most popular horse race as these beautiful and powerful animals glide across the mile and a quarter track. Commanding the horses are rather small men who communicate with the horses through reigns and a bit in the horse’s mouth. When you think about the size, speed, and power of these animals, one finds it amazing that they can be commanded through such a small apparatus.

In the same way that jockeys command large horses using a small bit, the Bible says our tongues are a small part of our body, but control the course of our lives. In fact, much of who we are can be defined by the words we say to people and the way we say them. In few areas of life are words more important than they are in our marriages. There are three things about the words we use that husbands must keep in mind as we interact with our wives.

Your Words Are Powerful

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:27
“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Proverbs 18:6-7
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs  21:23

These four verses from Proverbs remind us about the power of the tongue. The mouth of a fool is his ruin, but the one who keeps his mouth and tongue keep himself out of trouble. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Words like these remind us of the power of our words. The words we say can tear another person to pieces or they can build another person up. Our words possess the capacity to corrode another person’s soul or to give them life and joy.

The power of our words remind us that we can do nothing more foolish than speak without thinking. How often do we say something cruel, biting, or sarcastic and excuse it with, “sorry, I really didn’t mean that and I wasn’t thinking when I said it?” What foolishness! Matthew quotes Jesus in his Gospel, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” We will all stand before the Lord and answer not only for the words we cruelly spoke on purpose, but also for those spoken thoughtlessly. This startling reality compels us to give thought to our words before they leave our mouths.

Your Words Can Tear Down

“With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.” Proverbs 11:9
“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Proverbs 11:12
“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”  Proverbs 11:17
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

These verses from Proverbs speak to us of the damage our words can inflict on other people. The godless man destroys his neighbor with his words. The person who lacks sense will belittle his neighbor. Then we reflect again on the words of Proverbs 18:21 and remember our words have the capacity to bring death to another person.

For the husband, we must read these verses and recall that his wife is his closest neighbor. Everything the Bible says about loving your neighbor applies first to the person with whom you share a bed. If you speak harshly to your wife, constantly criticize her, use biting sarcasm, and speak to her with a general lack of respect for her feelings you will crush her and your marriage. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. The sad irony is that in crushing your wife you crush your own happiness. Your joy in marriage is dependent upon her joy in marriage. If she feels belittled, critiqued, disrespected, and unloved, you have stolen your own joy and dishonored Jesus who died for you.

Your Words Can Build Up

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”  Proverbs 11:17
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs  21:23

If death and life are in the power of the tongue, we can’t only focus on the death that the tongue can bring.  Notice some of the things Solomon says about our words in these passages. He compares gracious words to a honeycomb which bring sweetness to the soul and health to the body. A husband’s words have the capability to bring life, joy, and encouragement to his wife. Also, where a cruel husband steals his own joy by stealing his wife’s joy, the wise husband increases his own joy by increasing his wife’s joy.

The wise husband will give long consideration to how he can speak to his wife in a way that builds her up rather than tearing her down. This doesn’t mean that he has to follow her around every second paying her compliments, but it does mean he will begin by showing his wife the basic kindness and consideration. Then he will give thought to specific ways he can compliment and encourage his wife. In addition, there will be times when a husband must point out things in his wife’s life that she needs to address. The wise husband does this in a way that his wife sees his concern for the good of her soul and knows he is speaking our of love for her.

Husbands, you have been called to love your wives as Christ loved the church for the glory of his great name and for your wife’s joy. Where do you need to repent for the way you speak to your wife? How do you need to grow in wisdom in the way you speak to your wife? How can your words bring glory to God and joy to the wife of your youth?

Related Posts:
Why the Bible Doesn’t Have Much ‘Marriage Advice’
What Happens When Your Marriage Doesn’t Have an Eject Button

For Further Reading:
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

photo credit: To Save Us via photopin (license)

photo credit: To Save Us via photopin (license)

(This is the text of a devotion I shared for Good Friday at Meadow Brook Baptist Church.)

If we are honest with ourselves, we are a people who keep track of the wrongs done to us, and the longer we live the longer the list gets. We can remember with incredible detail the ways we have been wronged, shortchanged, and in some cases stabbed in the back. We have a long and accurate memory.

What gives us the power to lay down our anger, bitterness, and desire for revenge?

In this short time together I want us to turn our attention to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Why do I bring up our lack of forgiveness and our bitterness on Good Friday? I do this because we need to remember how biblical ethics work. Too often we divorce Christian truth from Christian living. And so today turn our attention to the death of Jesus and see how in his words from the cross, we learn both about the forgiveness that we can experience and the forgiveness that we can offer.

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Luke  22:34

As the Lord Jesus hangs on the cross for those six hours between two thieves, he cries “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” First we need to talk about the fact that this is addressed to God the Father. He does not forgive them himself, but instead appeals to the Father. This reminds us that all sin is first and foremost a sin against God. God is the holy and righteous Creator of the world. He dwells in unapproachable light and he cannot be stained with sin. He is light and in him there is no darkness at all. Greek does not have a problem with a double negative, and so John basically says “in him there is not no darkness” and it is his way not of negating himself, but doubling down. God is holy and all sin is an affront and rebellion against him.

At the same time, Jesus appeals to the fact that God will forgive and hints to us that his death has something to do with this forgiveness. First of all, that he would pray for the forgiveness of those who are killing him tells us something about who Jesus is. “Because he poured out his soul to deathand was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Jesus, the suffering Son of God prays for the very people who are murdering him. He utters no threats, but like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter he prays for those who kill him. The first Christian martyr followed in his steps and Stephen prayed God would not hold the sin of his murderers against them.

The word “forgive” is an interesting word in the original language. We know what it’s like to have words that get used in different ways and we know what we mean based on context. They word forgive, based on where it is used carries the idea of leaving something behind. There are contexts in which this word is translated “divorce.” When Jesus says to “leave” your gift at the altar if you remember someone has something against you, that’s this word.  So we see from this that forgiveness has to do with letting something go. Jesus is praying that God would let go of his rightful justice on those who were killing them and to show them mercy instead.

This raises a problem though doesn’t it? How can God just forgive? If God just lets this sin go, is he really the just and righteous God he claims to be? This is the heart of Paul’s discussion in Romans 3:21-26. We often ask how a good God can let bad things happen. Paul asked how a just God could let good things happen to sinners. How can God be just and forgive? The answer to the question is the very person making the petition in Luke 23:34. Jesus, in his death on the cross makes full atonement for our sins. He dies as a substitute in our place, fully satisfying the justice of God. Because of his sacrifice, sinners get to go free. Even more than that, God reconciles us to himself, adopts us as his children, fills us with his Spirit, and promises us an inheritance in his heavenly Kingdom. All of this because of Jesus’ death on the cross for us.

So where does this leave us when we think about the way people have wronged us? Jesus told a parable in Luke 18 about a servant who owed a great debt to his master. There was no way he could pay back this debt to his master, so he begs his master for mercy and receives it. The debt is forgiven. Then he leaves the presence of his master and finds another servant who owes him the equivalent of two months wages. This is no small debt, but nothing compared to the one he was just forgiven. He demands the fellow servant pay him back, and then hears an almost word for word rendition of the speech he gave to his master. This servant refuses to forgive and has his fellow servant thrown into prison. The master hears of this and rebukes him for refusing to show the same mercy he had already received. Then he has him thrown into prison as well. What is the point of this parable? We are not the master; we are servants. The mountain of debt we owe the master could never be repaid, but through Christ he wipes it away. How can we, who have been forgiven a mountain of sins, hold molehills against our fellow servants? As we have been freely forgiven, we freely forgive.

Related Posts:
The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross by A.W. Pink
The Truth about Forgiveness by John MacArthur

For Further Reading:
How I Learned about Forgiveness

Next on My Reading List

March 23, 2015 — 1 Comment

4743685974_cbc116c5a2Theodore Rex
Through a couple of articles and a documentary, I became interested in the life of Theodore Roosevelt late last year. Edmund Morris’ three volume biography has been a constant companion in 2015. The second volume, Theodore Rex, covers Roosevelt’s years as the twenty-sixth President of the United States. It begins with his train ride from Buffalo to Washington D.C. after the death of President William McKinley. Roosevelt’s work ethic, vigor, and courage provide a great example for men.

The Righteous Mind
Our culture has become increasingly polarized over the last decade and people on the opposite sides of debates tend to talk past each other. Social pyschologist Jonathan Haidt draws on his decades of research and explains how people arrive at their convictions and conclusions.

The Happy Christian
The winter months tend to be difficult for me as the lack of sunshine and early sundown lead me to a bit of melancholy every year. David Murray tackles our tendency towards negativity and shows us how the Gospel leads to lasting happiness and joy. (Hopefully I’ll have a review up on this one in the next few weeks.)

The Call of the Wild
Until last year I had not read much fiction, and now I wish I had started earlier. Reading good fiction is better than watching television because it engages our imaginations and stirs our thoughts. One of my personal goals has been to go back and reread some of the books I was assigned in middle and high school but never read. The Call of the Wild is the first stop on this tour and I hope to read The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath in the coming months.

(This is the third post in the “How to Grow as a Husband” series. You can read the first two posts here .and here.) When two people live together in the covenant of marriage, they will inevitably irritate, offend, and hurt each other. No union of two sinners, even redeemed sinners, exists where this does not happen. The husband must answer two simple questions. Will I acknowledge when I am wrong and seek forgiveness? And will I quickly forgive when I am wronged?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Be Quick to Seek Forgiveness
Men you will hurt your wives. Sometimes this happens through careless and thoughtless words, but unfortunately there will be times where the hurt happens with forethought. I spoke of this briefly in the last post about kindness, but we need to spend a little more time on it in this post. Accept responsibility for your actions, not seeking to make excuses or paint them in a different light than they deserve to be in. When you wrong your wife in word or deed the responsibility is your’s alone and you should own up to it.

The last thing I want to do is to give you a script for apologizing, but there are proper and improper ways to apologize. First of all, do not say “I’m sorry.” Too often the words “it’s okay” are spoken in response to this and dealing with the offense gets kicked down the road a little farther. Also do not say “I’m sorry if…” The responsibility for your actions does not lie in the reaction of your wife to what you said. If you were wrong, the responsibility belongs to you. (If your wife was wrong in whatever happened, she should apologize as well, but the goal of this post is not for you to figure out how to get your wife to admit her guilt. It’s about you dealing with what you did.)

“I was wrong when I _________, will you forgive me?” Your apology should look like this. Acknowledge where you were wrong and be specific since your goal is reconciliation and not smoothing over your conscience. This also reminds you that your sin is not just against your wife, but also against the Lord. Admitting your sin to your wife moves you down the path to genuine reconciliation.

Some Questions to Consider
Are you quick to admit when you are wrong?
Do you take the initiative to reconcile with your wife when you are wrong?
Do you name your sin or are you vague about it?
Do you take full responsibility for your sin against your wife or do you try to blame it on her?

Related Posts:
Why the Bible Doesn’t Have Much ‘Marriage Advice’
What Happens When Your Marriage Doesn’t Have an Eject Button

For Further Reading:
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

(This is the second post in the “How to Grow as a Husband” series. You can read the first post here.)

When I was in second grade, our teacher would have us pretend to put on what we called “Golden Rule Gloves.” We would pretend we were putting gloves on our fingers, pulling them down, and buttoning them. While we did this we said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. God is love. Love one another.” As we learn to grow as husbands, we need to learn how to put these words into practice when it comes to how we treat our wives.

You Need to Be Reminded of Some Basic Truths
When we begin to think about working on our marriages and growing as husbands, we think we need to hear things that we have never heard before. Our tendency is to think we need some kind of expert advice and the exhortation to be kind sounds like something from second grade. When we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have all spoken to our wives in rude ways we would not speak to another person. All husbands need to admit a simple fact, our marriages would be better if we treated our wives the way we were taught to treat people when we were in elementary school. Sometimes we just need to be reminded about the most obvious things.

Unfortunately men like to excuse our rude and harsh words by saying we weren’t thinking when we spoke this way, but that is the problem. The Bible takes our speech seriously, and Jesus speaks tough words about our unthinking speech when he says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Instead of speaking rudely and carelessly, husbands need to learn to treat their wives with kindness.

Love Your Closest Neighbor
The Bible says a lot about what marriage is but doesn’t give much “marriage advice.” Simply put, the way husbands and wives should treat each other is defined by basic Christian discipleship. If husbands treated their wives the way the Bible teaches a Christian should treat all people many of our marriages would experience exponentially more joy. Think for a second about Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29-5:2. He wrote this to the church in Ephesus, giving specific instructions governing the relationships between individual Christians. At the same time if you apply these words to the marital relationship you will end up with a strong, loving relationship that brings glory to Jesus and great joy to the husband and wife.”

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We’ll talk about something else Paul says in this passage in another post, but for now we just want to consider the words, “be kind to one another.” Paul does not speak here about niceness. Kindness possesses a more active quality than niceness. Kindness means that show active consideration to our wives and go out of our way to do good to them.

You Need To Take Some Action Steps
Think for a second men, have you fallen into the trap of treating your wife with either rudeness or indifference? Have you stopped showing her common courtesy and begun speaking to her harshly? Or have you begun to treat her as a silent partner in a business venture? You talk because you share money, a house, a schedule, and children, but you don’t take the time to talk about life and seek to draw her out?

The biblical authors recognized this tendency in men and spoke to them about it. In Colossians 3 Paul commands men to love their wives and not to be harsh with them. In 1 Peter 3 he tells men to live with their wives in an understanding way. Then he closes this injunction with the haunting words, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

If you are a man who treats his wife unkindly, you need to repent to the Lord and to your wife. Before the Lord confess your sin and receive the grace he offers through Jesus. Then go to your wife and be upfront with her about where you have failed. Do not make excuses, and then ask her to forgive you. When you begin to struggle in the future, stop and reflect on the kindness and patience God has shown you. The antidote you need is not a helping of guilt or a motivational speech about trying harder. You need to remember who God has been for you in Christ and model that to your wife. This will honor your wife, bring glory to God, and bring you an unspeakable joy.

Related Posts:
Why the Bible Doesn’t Have Much ‘Marriage Advice’
What Happens When Your Marriage Doesn’t Have an Eject Button

For Further Reading:
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

A Few Good Reads

March 11, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

A Father-Daughter Bond, Page by Page
The New York Times shares the story of a father and daughter who read together every night for 3,218 straight days. This post is a few years, old, but is a great example to fathers. “In high school, I had friends who never talked to their parents. It never occurred to me not to. If someone takes care of you, you want to be with them.”

Older Men, Younger Men Need You
Noting the division between younger and old men, Paul Maxwell lists six things younger men need from older men. This insightful post should receive a wide reading. “God taught you lessons when you were young. You pray, ‘From my youth you have taught me,” and, ‘Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come’ (Psalm 71:17–18). Now, for every gray hair, we want one story of God’s faithfulness, one lesson from years of learning God and his world. One ‘you’ll be okay’ for every silver lock.”

An Interview with Ray Ortlund on Creating Gospel Culture in the Church
Justin Taylor interviews Ray Ortlund about his helpful book The Gospel. Ray talks about having both Gospel doctrine and Gospel culture, particularly focusing on how Gospel doctrine creates Gospel culture.

Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
D.A. Carson’s short introduction to the New Testament is .99 on Kindle today. This book focuses on historical questions dealing with authorship, date, sources, purpose, and destination of the New Testament books. By focusing on the essentials, the authors ensure that each book is accurately understood within its historical settings. For each New Testament document, the authors also provide a summary of that book’s content and discuss the book’s theological contribution to the overall canon. This abridgement includes questions at the end of each chapter to facilitate group discussion and personal review. It will help a new generation of students and church leaders better grasp the message of the New Testament

portwilliam_closeupFor the last year Wendell Berry’s Port William novels and short stories have been a constant companion to me. These novels reflected on life in the fictional town of Port William reflect age old wisdom and taught me a lot about follow Jesus. You can find part 1 of this series here.

Listen to the Wisdom of the Ages
For several generations, Americans acted as if they believed their forefathers were morons. We possess an uncanny ability to see their failures, and so we reject their wisdom on all manner of issues. Berry captures the foolishness of this ethos well. It is especially personified through the character of Troy Chatham in Jayber Crow. Jayber spots Troy Chatham from a distance when he is a star high school athlete and watches him into adulthood. Troy was a showoff from his earliest years and his confidence in his own abilities never fades. He inherited the land of his father-in-law Athey Keith when he marries Mattie, the apple of Jayber’s eye. Mr. Keith faithfully took care of the land entrusted to him and never demanded more of the land than it was prepared to give. He knew how to listen to his land and conserved it’s beauty. The farm ran debt-free and was poised to provide for the family for another generation.

Troy had other plans for the Keith family farm. He saw himself not as a humble farmer, but as an agribusinessman. He ran roughshod over the land by farming it without any regard to what he was doing to the health of the soil. Beautifully wooded areas logged to pay for Troy’s expanding empire. This rough treatment of the land produced little actual wealth for the family because Troy took on massive amounts of debt to finance his dreams.

In Remembering Andy Catlett speaks at an agricultural symposium. At the time he is known for his ideas that run contrary to those of everyone in the room. He speaks passionately of an “occult science,” where everyone makes decision based off statistics and numbers, but forgetting the impact on real people. The people in the room looked skeptically on the ways of the past, but he looked back and saw the real people who were affected by the foolish decisions made in rooms like the ones where he spoke.

When Berry looks illustrates the foolishness of the young in rejecting the ways of their fathers, he echoes the words of King Solomon in Proverbs. Our generation increasingly speaks as if we are the brightest generation to grace the landscape of American history, yet many metrics suggest our fathers knew things we do not. We see the blindspots and sins of the generations behind us and assume they were wrong about many other issues too. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did our forefathers blow it on many issues, especially ones related to race? Yes. Does this mean they were also wrong about the foolishness of debt, value of hard work, or the importance of community? Absolutely not.

If we see the error the people who came before us could not see about themselves, do this not suggest those who come after us will see error in us that we cannot see? The writers of Scripture warned about being wise in our own eyes. They saw the danger in having an elevated view of ourselves because trusting in our own wisdom will cause us to reject the wisdom of our elders. What if instead of constantly critiquing the lives of our grandparents’ generation, what if we let what they valued critique us? Would we find areas where we do not want to listen to them? Of course, but I think if we listened to them we would benefit in ways we could not imagine.

For Further Reading:
Hannah Coulter
Nathan Coulter
Jayber Crow
The Memory of Old Jack

When God created the world, he saw everything he made and said “it is good.” The first time the Lord declares something to not be good is Adam standing alone in the garden. After bringing every animal to Adam for him to name and not finding a suitable helper for him, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. God removed one of Adam’s ribs and fashioned it into his wife. When Adam awakes, his creator presents his wife to him and Bible translators bracket what he said as if it is a song. What comes from his mouth rings of poetry as he exclaims “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” He recognizes that she is what he is, but better.

The writer of Genesis inserts the important statement, “for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The husband and wife join themselves together before God into a one flesh union. This union forms the basis for Jesus’ command to not tear apart what God has joined together. Paul appeals to this verse as he explains the union of husband and wife points to the relationship between Christ and the church.

In this union we do not merely want to just continue existing the rest of our lives. We want our union together to be happy, helping each other grow as believers in order to bring glory to God and joy to each other. This takes work, and many times men experience confusion when they think about how to grow as a husband.

I’m going to take several posts over the next few weeks and share what I’ve learned reading the Bible, eleven years of marriage, and a lifetime of watching men who are good husbands. Through this I hope to help men grow both as husbands and followers of Jesus. My original inclination was to write a quick bullet point post on how to be a terrible husband and make the point in a humorous way. After looking over it I felt like sarcasm probably wasn’t the best way to deal with this issue and what is at stake is way too serious. Here is the first way a man can grow as a husband.

Close Off All Your Escape Routes
A man never knows the depths of his sin and selfishness until he gets married. He begins to wrestle with emotions, failures, and anger in a way he never dealt with it before. Left to himself, a man will assume that any difficulty in his marriage is his wife’s fault. When the man gets honest with himself, he realizes nothing could be further from the truth. He and his wife are both the problem, but the husband needs to take the lead in repentance and growth. This means the husband needs to get on his knees in front of his Bible and plead with God to change him. He will have to repent of sin and apologize for his sins to his wife.

Then there are going to be difficulties. There will be times when family finances run low. The stress of infertility, miscarriages, raising children, losing jobs, changing jobs, moving, dealing with in-laws, and the death of parents test even the best marriages. The idea that a relationship where two people love each other will be effortless is a crock. This idea slipped into the way we think about relationships and it bears no resemblance to the truth.

What keeps a couple together through this. How does a man face his sins and grow into the likeness of Christ? How does a man not only endure though these difficulties, but do so in a way that his love for his wife and joy in her grows? This only happens when a man commits himself to his wife for the rest of his life. He closed off all of his options the moment he married her and this commitment to her anchors him through all the difficult times. It doesn’t just keep in the marriage physically, but leads him to pursue his wife’s greatest good and joy in the marriage.

This is the beauty of marriage. There are trials and difficulties, but there is increasing joy and love. The road to the high points goes through dark valleys, and when a man bails during them he never gets to go to the hilltops.

Men, love your wives and look out for her good before your own. Lock out all other options, devoting yourself to her and her joy. What happens through that brings much glory to God and unspeakable joy to you.

Related Posts:
Why the Bible Doesn’t Have Much ‘Marriage Advice’
What Happens When Your Marriage Doesn’t Have an Eject Button

For Further Reading:
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller