A Few Good Reads

May 14, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

Stephen Curry and the Culture of Mistrust
Bethany Jenkins writes about the evident humility of Stephen Curry compared to the “The gospel transforms our notion of self-worth and identity because it invites us to embrace a sense of meaning and purpose that’s bigger than ourselves. In Christ, we we’re not demoralized by failure or overly impressed by narrow ideas of success, like football tackles or MVP awards or prestigious scholarships and degrees.”

Is Christianity Dying?
A new Pew Center study on religious affiliation received lots of attention this week. The talking points seem to center around the increasing number of unaffiliated and the decreasing number of Christians. Russell Moore analyzes the report and offers some important reflections about what they mean. “Bible Belt near-Christianity is teetering. I say let it fall. For much of the twentieth century, especially in the South and parts of the Midwest, one had to at least claim to be a Christian to be “normal.” During the Cold War, that meant distinguishing oneself from atheistic Communism. At other times, it has meant seeing churchgoing as a way to be seen as a good parent, a good neighbor, and a regular person. It took courage to be an atheist, because explicit unbelief meant social marginalization. Rising rates of secularization, along with individualism, means that those days are over—and good riddance to them.”

Why Plant a New Church in the Bible Belt?
I often hear people say we don’t need more churches in the South. In this post Jeff Lawrence answers this objection by showing the great need for new churches in the Bible Belt. “A recent article in The Oklahoman claims that Oklahoma City area, where I pastor, is growing by 1729 people per month. Yes, per month. How will the church keep up with population growth? Numerically, we need to add nearly a new megachurch per month just to keep up with all the new people moving into the area. Add into the equation the hundreds of thousands already here who do not know Jesus, and you start to get a sense of the burden we should feel for planting new churches.”

Persevere in Parenting

Photo by Rachel Morris Photography

My wife and I have four children ranging in age from nine to three months. We spent most of the last decade learning how to be parents. I realize you are a parent whether you know what you are doing or not, but our desire has been to learn how to parent our children well.

One of the things I noticed in our time parenting is the tendency for things to go well for a season and then for things to go completely haywire for a season. For a while, we spend quality time with our kids and then we get into a busy season where it feels like our kids get the short end of the stick. We see have family devotions consistently and then all of a sudden I can’t remember when our last devotion was. We discipline our kids consistently for a while, taking the time to talk to them about their behavior and not letting offenses slide by. Then we go through a period where we overlook things and speak to our kids in a frustrated way rather than taking the time to teach them.

Did you catch the key word in the last sentence? Consistently. Knowing how to teach and pray for your kids is not as hard as we think it is. Our instincts about the best way to discipline our children are usually correct and most parents want to spend quality time with their children. The hardest aspect of parenting is rarely our lack of understanding, but our failure to persevere. As parents what we need the most is the perseverance to continue doing the right thing after we know the right thing to do. There are three particular areas where parents need to persevere.

Persevere in Quality Time

This may not always be the case, but it seems our children want us more than they want stuff from us. In fact I cannot help but wonder how often our giving children “stuff” is our attempt to help them find to occupy themselves so we can have time alone. Now, I completely agree parents need time alone to recharge and also to connect with there spouse and I also agree we need to teach our children to occupy themselves. At the same time we also need to realize our children’s need for time with their parents. Fishing, hiking, taking a walk, throwing a ball, playing a game, and sitting around a fire roasting marshmallows provide great opportunities to connect with our kids.

Our children will be more receptive to our discipline and teaching when we spend regular time with them because it flows from our relationship with them. When children are young, you parent mostly out of authority. If you find them playing with something they shouldn’t be playing with, you can simply take it away from them or pick them up and move them. As they grow older, you still parent from authority but your relationship with your children becomes a much bigger component in parenting. They tend to listen better and be more receptive to our parenting when we spend consistent time with them.

This will also be a joy to you. God gives us children as a gift. Quality time together creates lasting memories and leads to fun, laughter, and joy. Each of your children have unique personalities and are fun and funny in their own way. Time together brings this out. Stop thinking you will magically “find time” to spend with them. Make the time.

Persevere in Discipline and Teaching

The Bible calls parents to consistently teach and discipline our children. Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 6:7 provide important insight for how this should be done. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Much of our parenting takes place in the context of ordinary life. We teach, correct, instruct, and discipline our children while we are doing all of the basic things we usually do. This includes answering our children’s honest questions. Are there times we should tell them “you get one more question?” Yes, but within reason we should answer their questions because it builds trust with our children and they will come to us with their progressively harder questions as they get older.

In addition to teaching as we walk through life, we need to set aside time for teaching through family devotions. Family devotion is not and should be dad preaching a twenty minute sermon to the kids. (If you have small kids, it can’t and won’t be this.) Don Whitney offers a simple method for family devotion anyone can do whether they know the Bible well or not- read, pray, sing. Read a portion of the Bible. If your kids are small this can be from a children’s Bible like The Big Picture Story Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible and as they get older progress into reading a section from your favorite translation. Depending on where your children are, you can work on memory verses or a catechism together. Then spend some time in prayer together and sing a song. These can be simple children’s songs like “Jesus Loves Me” or simple hymns like “Come Thou Fount” or “Be Thou My Vision.”

We must also discipline our children. Truthfully I find it difficult to separate discipline from teaching because they go together hand in hand. We do not discipline our children to punish them for what they have done, but to instruct their hearts so they will be different in the future. Discipline should not look the same all the time, but should be tailored to the situation and the bent of our children. Whether or not we discipline though is not up for debate. God commands children to obey their parents and we should expect them to obey what we tell them the first time we tell them to do it. Anything other than this must result in discipline for the sake of your children’s souls and your future sanity.

Persevere in Prayer

Finally parents need to persevere in praying for and with our children. Pretend for a second you could do a perfect job parenting your children. You always kept your cool when they disobeyed and told them exactly what they needed to hear in every situation. You read the Bible to them every day and spent the perfect amount of quality time with them. You led them to friendships with the right kids and gave them every opportunity they needed. Even if you did all of these things, it would not guarantee anything about your child’s heart or their future. Only the grace of God can take your parenting and make it effective, so you must pray.

Pray for your children and for your parenting consistently. Pray God would cover your efforts with grace, forgive you where you fail, and empower you to persevere in your parenting. Pray God would change your child’s heart by the power of his Spirit and raise them up to follow him and bring him glory. You need God and your children need God, so daily bring them before the throne of grace.

We should also pray with our children. By doing this they learn how to pray and about what they should pray. They get to see your family pray for things and how God answers those prayers. Also our parents should hear us pray for their salvation. Our prayers teach them what we value the most and they will consistently hear about their need for Christ.

For the parents who read this, write Galatians 6:9 over all your parenting. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” May God show his grace to us as we raise our children for his glory.

Related Posts:
Recovering the Family Dinner Table
How to Have Family Worship

For Further Reading:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
A Neglected Grace by Jason Helopoulos
Family Worship by Donald Whitney

Blind Spots

May 10, 2015 — Leave a comment

Blind SpotsIf you were to ask me what the most important characteristic is in a church, I would tell you it is what the church believes. My bias leans toward churches leading with theology. They need to know what they believe, why they believe it, and be upfront about it. This makes perfect sense to me because I believe God has spoken clearly in his word and we need to be serious about what he has said. Then when I look at church history I see how a lack of seriousness about doctrinal truth leads the church into compromise and decline. Then church history shows other times when God’s people took his truth seriously, proclaimed it boldly, and saw large numbers of people come to faith in Jesus. The primary place of good theology seems obvious to me and have a difficult time understanding why anyone would say anything else is the most important element in a church.

In his new book Blind Spots, Collin Hansen addresses Christians like me who don’t understand why other Christians don’t emphasize the things I emphasize. He explains how Christians have often vilified each other because we have failed to see our different emphases and appreciate each other instead of biting and devouring one another. “We all have blind spots. It’s so easy to see the faults in someone else or in another group but so difficult to see the limitations in ourselves. Unless you learn to see the faults in yourself and your heroes, though, you can’t appreciate how God has gifted other Christians.”

Hansen explains three different types of Christians and the aspects of Christian faithfulness they emphasize. Courageous Christians cling to sound doctrine and godly living, not backing down in the face of societal pressure. Commissioned Christians understand the need to share the Gospel with every person in a way that connects with them. Compassionate Christians know the needs of people in our culture and are ready to meet those needs.

The bulk of Blind Spots deals with these three different types of Christians. Hansen explains the unique contribution each of these emphases makes within the Christian church, but also unpacks the blind spots the people in these groups will wrestle with. For example, in the chapter on courageous Christians, he helps the reader understand why courage is needed in as the church wrestles with our current cultural climate. Then he leads courageous Christians to understand the particular temptations they will face because of their particular bent. Courageous Christians face the temptation to idolize eras in the past and not see their heroes as flawed and fallen men like the heroes of Scripture. So courageous Christians must understand these temptations, praying and seeking that God would temper our courage with humility and grace.

The call to embrace these three varieties of Christian emphases should not be mistaken as a call to abandon doctrinal distinctive in the name of going along and getting alone. In the first chapter Hansen states, “when you lose the distinctive doctrines of Christianity- starting with the resurrection of Jesus- you lose everything.” He fights the assumption that we have to choose between biblical faithfulness, evangelism, or social justice. Instead he shows how we must have a biblically faithful, evangelistically zealous, and need meeting Christianity. No one is asked to leave doctrinal commitments at the door, but they are called to hold those commitments with charity recognizing which ones are essential to cooperation with other Christians and which ones are not.

Blind Spots by Collin Hansen reminds all Christians of an important truth- we need each other. Courageous Christians need to be reminded not to sit in the corner defending the truth, but to proclaim this truth in word and deed so people will be impacted by the Gospel. Compassionate Christians must remember in their acts of charity to keep the Gospel at the forefront of what they do. Commissioned Christians should hear the call to focus on the care of the whole person and not just the soul, remembering at the same time not to water down the message of the Gospel so more people will appear to accept it. The only way Christians will remember these things is by listening to the emphases of other followers of Jesus. The church is a body with many members, and we need all of those members playing their part for the sake of the Gospel. Not every person has the same calling or is passionate about the same issue or cause; but we have one great passion, the glory of God in Christ, to which we subordinate all of our other passions.

Christians who are tempted to snark, suspicion, and sarcasm toward other Christians will benefit from the message of Blind Spots. We need to be reminded we wrestle with temptations from our emphases, and our brothers and sisters can help us see them so our lives bear greater fruit for the glory of God.

You can read my other book reviews and notes here.

(I received a copy of Blind Spots in exchange for an honest review of the work.)

 

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

What the Media Isn’t Telling You Regarding the Arguments Over Same-Sex Marriage
As the debate over same-sex marriage heated up, conservatives warned a move in this direction would lead to a loss of religious liberty and open the door to the legalization of other types of sexual relationships. Michael Kruger helps us see both of these issues as he analyzes the transcripts of last week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court. “The logic being used to promote same-sex marriage could be used to support a variety of other sexually questionable forms of marriage.” (Emphasis Original)

“What is Your Purpose?”
I have always enjoyed the thoughtful writing of David Brooks. His writing lately raised the question of our moral vocabulary and noted how our moral debates have been politicized. In this piece he ponders the meaning of life, noting our need to make space for discussing life’s most important issues. “The shift has meant there is less moral conversation in the public square. I doubt people behave worse than before, but we are less articulate about the inner life. There are fewer places in public where people are talking about the things that matter most.”

“Split Images
Madison Holleran appeared to have everything a college freshman could want. She had been a successful high school student athlete and now ran track at an Ivy League school. Her Instagram account detailed the life of a girl who looked to be happy and enjoying life. Kate Fagan at ESPN tells a different story though; one only a few people knew. Madison battled severe depression and ultimately took her own life. This piece details what everyone saw from a distance versus what was really happening inside. (Warning: This is a beautiful and moving piece of writing, but it also details what happened when Madison took her own life.) “Madison was beautiful, talented, successful — very nearly the epitome of what every young girl is supposed to hope she becomes. But she was also a perfectionist who struggled when she performed poorly. She was a deep thinker, someone who was aware of the image she presented to the world, and someone who often struggled with what that image conveyed about her, with how people superficially read who she was, what her life was like.”

“Best, Brightest, and Saddest”
Frank Bruni of The New York Times explores the reasons behind a string of teenage suicides in Palo Alto, California. He zeroes in on the pressure teenagers in this city face to excel in school and get accepted into Stanford. (Warning: This piece is informative, but discusses teenage suicide.) “And while mental health professionals are rightly careful not to oversimplify or trivialize the psychic distress behind them by focusing on any one possible factor, the contagion has prompted an emotional debate about the kinds of pressures felt by high school students in epicenters of overachievement.”

Good Deals on Kevin DeYoung’s Books
I’ve benefited from Kevin DeYoung’s writing the last few years and his books Crazy Busy, Don’t Call it a Comeback, Taking God at His Word, and The Hole in Our Holiness are discounted for Kindle this week. You should pick them up and give them a careful read.

Bible

photo credit: Bible1 via photopin (license)

If we believe what we tell everyone, we are all busy people. Most of us lead off with it when we ask how we are doing. When approached about things we need to add into our lives, we remark that we will try to “find the time.” We never find time though do we? In order to do important things, we have to make time. One of the things we need to work hard to make time for is consistent Bible reading.

Here are four reasons you need to make time to read your Bible.

Read the Bible to know God

You can look at creation and know that God exists and is powerful. Romans 1 tells us this and we experience it when we look at a beautiful sunset or feel a cool breeze. Creation cannot tell us specifics about how God is though. We need the Bible for that and the Bible delivers in a powerful way. From the first verse to the last verse, we learn about who God is and what He is like. We learn about his character and his ways with people. You were made by God and you were made for God, so read the Bible to get to know him.

Read the Bible to Know Truth from Error

The world we live in is filled with constant and consistent messages about life. In any given day we hear a stream of voices telling us what we should think about money, power, ethics, peace, and joy. How is a person going to figure out which of these voices they should give an ear to? Only in the Bible do we hear a clear, consistent voice pointing us to the difference between truth and error. The Bible defines clearly what the truth is and speaks frankly about what the truth is not. With many voices screaming for our attention, we need to hear the words of Scripture every day.

Read the Bible to Grow in Christlike Character

We often bemoan the failures and sins in our lives. We struggle to know how to change and often lack the proper motivation for changing. Reading the Bible shapes our character. The Bible’s words aren’t just words on a page, they are the words of the living God. He speaks through the words of the Bible and changes us. As we meditate on God’s word and act on them, we are convicted of sin, repent, and begin to see real change in our lives.

Read the Bible to Help Others Who Struggle

How often do we have moments when we are speaking to other people who struggle and don’t know what to say? We deliver our standard platitudes, but the truth is that we don’t even know if we believe them. The pages of the Bible are filled with words of comfort and encouragement to hurting people. Solomon wrote the entire book of Proverbs to help us know how to make wise decisions. Reading the Bible gives you words to share with struggling friends and neighbors. You get to go from empty phrases to words that point them back to the God who loves them.

You have seen why you should read your Bible, now will you get started on this fantastic journey? Start now and over the next few weeks I’ll give you some tips to help you along the way.

Related Posts:
Why I Switched Back to a Physical Copy of the Bible
One Bible Verse Changed My Life

For Further Reading:
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

5 suggestions for raising non-narcissistic children
Our children are naturally self centered (as we all are.) If we are not thoughtful about the way we raise our children, we will only increase this propensity rather than combating it. Writing for the ERLC, David Prince offers five suggests for combating narcissism in our children. “Above all else, a Christian parent’s job is to create categories in their children’s daily lives that help make the gospel intelligible as they prepare them for adulthood. Foundational to a Christian worldview is the truth: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5). Parents must exert authority over their children, not for their own sake, but for their child’s sake. Teaching your children to live under appropriate authority is a gift that leads to contentment. A gospel-centered approach to parenting that cultivates a biblical worldview will not abandon honest conversation about the child’s strengths (appropriate praise is vital) and weaknesses.”

Anarchy, God, and Sade
Writing in The American Conservative, Rod Dreher addresses the riots in Baltimore by reminding us that there is anarchy in all our souls. Reading this piece will take some time, but the effort bears great fruit. When we arrive at the end of 2015, I think we will judge this to be one of the most important pieces written this year. “The anarchy I worry about is not the anarchy of poor black people in West Baltimore, or anywhere else. The anarchy I worry about is the anarchy within the hearts and communities of people like me — people who outwardly live lives of prosperity and normality, but who, in their hearts, believe that they and their appetites are the only authority they should follow. This is why I am so perpetually alarmed about our culture: it is fundamentally anarchic, because there is buried within our culture no source of order outside the Self.”

Beware the Too Compelling Narrative
I’m a big fan of the writing at The Art of Manliness and this post reminds us that we should not jump on bandwagons just because they seem to have a great story attached to them. Brett McKay shares several narratives fallacies that we fall for including some that will sound familiar in light of current debates. “The reason this narrative is so compelling is that it make us feel optimistic, good, and special. It’s ego boosting to believe you are the most advanced model in a long line of rejected prototypes. It’s satisfying to favorably compare oneself, and one’s generation, to those that have come before.”

Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a week from Sunday and Westminster Book Store has some deals on books for moms this week. You can check out their specials on several great books here.

 

 

Judge Not

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“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Talk to a random person on any street in America and ask them to quote a Bible verse to you. Many of them will quote to you the first words of this passage, “judge not, that you not be judged.” This seems to be the go to phrase for many in our culture when talking to a Christian about moral issues. They quote this verse as the ultimate trump card to end a conversation because they usually understand this verse to mean that you should never question anything a person does or believes. For example, I read someone this week say he was looking for a church that would be okay with his liberal beliefs on some serious social issues and that would not have a problem with the fact that he smokes pot. The comments were filled with people recommending churches that are “not judgmental.” In other words, the other commenters meant “these are the churches who will leave you where you are without saying anything to you and where what you hear from the pulpit will not call your life into question.” This seems to be what most people in our culture mean when they quote Matthew 7:1.

When you read the broader context of this passage, you realize this is not what Jesus means when he says “judge not.” He tells us not to be obsessed with the speck in our brother’s eye when we have a plank sticking out of our own eye. In other words, you cannot try to take a speck of sawdust from another person’s eye when you have a two by four sticking out of yours. So does Jesus say here that we should ignore the speck of sawdust because who are we to judge? Absolutely not, instead he reminds us to pull the log out of our own eye and then help your brother get the speck out of his eye. Even in the passage itself we see the passage does not teach that we suspend our faculties of discernment and never tell people that their actions or beliefs are wrong, sinful, or out of step with what it means to be a Christian. If  you expanded further out in the three chapter sermon where this verse is found, you would hear Jesus telling people that lust is adultery and anger is murder. He condemns praying, fasting, or giving only to be seen by men and warns us to look out for false prophets. In fact, he says we will know false prophets by their fruits, meaning we should inspect the fruit on the tree of their lives.

Can’t we acknowledge that Jesus is not calling on us to suspend our moral faculties or powers of discernment? Nor is he calling us here to say “well I’m not God so I can’t say what’s right and what’s wrong.” Yes, you can say what is right and what is wrong. Yes, you can look at something someone espouses and say it’s not true; and yes, can tell a person their life is not in line what the Bible prescribes. The Bible commands and encourages us to do these things.

What then does Jesus mean when he tells us not to judge? John Stott, in his The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, summarizes the teaching of this passage well when he says, “In a word, ‘censoriousness’. The follower of Jesus is still a ‘critic’ in the sense of using his powers of discernment, but not a ‘judge’ in the sense of being censorious. Censoriousness is a compound sin consisting of several unpleasant ingredients. It does not mean to assess people critically, but to judge them harshly. The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings. He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous towards their mistakes.”

Stott points out three particular temptations we should avoid from Matthew 7:1.

We Judge When We Enjoy the Failings of Others

Many who quote Matthew 7:1 without understanding what it actually means are also fans of appealing to karma when a person wrongs them. These popular appeals to karma often mean someone wants to see bad things happen to another person because of something they have done wrong, yet this is the very attitude Matthew 7:1 forbids. If we want bad things to happen to people who do bad things, don’t we have to be honest and admit that we are actually pulling for bad things to happen to us? When we enjoy the failings of others we unconsciously look forward to our own ultimate judgement.

We Judge When We Misconstrue the Motives of Others

One of our great mistakes is thinking we can read another person’s motives for an action. How often have we seen a person doing a good thing and assumed they are doing it for less than laudable reasons? Matthew 7:1 reminds us that we should assign the best possible motives to a person’s actions unless we have explicit reason not to do so. We want this for ourselves, and if we love our neighbor as ourselves we will do the same thing.

We Judge When We Deny Grace for the Sins of Others

The words “judge not that you not be judged” remind us that we are people who live under the reign of grace. If every person received what they deserved, we would all face judgement. Jesus lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and was raised victoriously from the dead. The person who trusts in Christ soon discovers that Jesus bore the judgement he deserved. In the place of judgement, the Christian is forgiven by God, reconciled to God, adopted as a child of God, and given an imperishable hope by God. If we have experienced this, how could we want to deny it to others? The person who has experienced grace cannot hold another person’s sins over their head and make them grovel for forgiveness.

The words of Matthew 7:1 have important application for the way Christians respond to other people since they live on this side of the cross. They remind us of the grace we have received and should show. Their broader context also remind us that calling others to repentance after we have repented is a loving thing to do. We are not obeying Jesus when we act as if all categories of good and evil should be abandoned. Instead we do our friends and neighbors the greatest good when we are honest about the existence of sins our lives and point to Jesus who took our judgement upon himself so we could be free.

Related Posts:
Why Should We Forgive?
When the Bible Rebukes Democrats and Republicans

For Further Reading:
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott
The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman

A Few Good Reads

April 28, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

It’s Time to Love Baltimore
Much of our national discussion the last few days has focused on the rioting in Baltimore. Joey Rainey shares how churches in Baltimore have been ministering in the midst of the chaos and how Christians from other parts of the country can help. “This morning, Pastor Tally Wilgis and the wonderful people of Captivate Church are feeding kids.  In an area of the city where 84% of the children are on a free or reduced lunch program, when school is cancelled, they don’t eat.  So the body of Christ is feeding more than 100 of them.”

Southern Baptists canceled an event with Ben Carson. Here’s why that matters.
Dr. Ben Carson has become a darling of conservative Republicans and was slated to speak at the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Columbus in June. Some Southern Baptists began voicing concerns about some of Dr. Carson’s theological commitments and the danger of being seen as endorsing a political candidate. Last week SBC leaders and Carson decided that he would not speak. In this post Thomas Kidd gives us details on the discussion and explains the importance of this move. “Carson has also made statements about Muslims, Jews and Christians all being ‘God’s children,’ perhaps implying that there are multiple paths to God. Hosting Carson and other Republican candidates, the critics said, continues to convey the impression that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is ‘in bed with the Republican Party,’ as Baptist21 put it. Leaders of the Pastors’ Conference ‘mutually agreed’ with Carson that he would withdraw.”

Jesus, The Antidote to Blame Transference Syndrome
The first thing Adam did when confronted with his sin was to blame his wife and we have been following suit ever since. Jared Wilson teaches us how Jesus moves us away from our insistence on transferring blame. “Jesus endures the temptation we cannot, he accepts the blame we deserve, and he transfers the blessings of his righteousness that we could never earn.”

The Mingling of Souls
Amazon has a deal on the Kindle edition of Matt Chandler’s book on “God’s design for love, sex, marriage, and redemption.”

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, Part 3, and Part 4.)

I don’t remember the first person I heard say it, but one of my favorite reminders about marriage is that it is “the union of two sinners.” Now, if the husband and wife are Christians, it is the union of two redeemed sinners, but even then they are still people who wrestle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The question in marriage is not whether or not husbands will disappoint and offend their wives and vice versa, but whether or not we can forgive when an offense is committed.
Husbands, there will be times when your wife offends you. She will definitely disappoint you and hurt you along the way, just as you do to her. When this happens, there are two questions you must answer.

Can You Overlook the Offense?
So often we can be hypersensitive when it comes to our spouses and carry our feelings on our shoulders. This causes us to take little statements the wrong way and to overcompensate by getting angry quickly. Joy in your marriage cannot exist when you over overly sensitive and quick to anger. You will lash out in your anger and your marriage will be filled with bitterness and unresolved frustrations.

Recognizing this propensity in men, Solomon tells his son in Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” The first half of this verse speaks to our tendency to fly off the handle over words and situations when we don’t have the full story. Wisdom demands that we learn to have a cool spirit and think before we get angry about something that is said to us. Did you fully understand what was said to you? Were there extenuating circumstances you should take into account about what was said? Don’t get angry or offended until you have fully considered what your spouse meant by what they did or said. Even then, don’t fly off the handle, but give consideration to what you should do next.

Can you overlook the offense? Solomon reminds us it is a glory to overlook an offense. This means that a man is willing to let go something that has been done against them without saying anything or trying to get the other person to apologize. When you overlook an offense, you simply choose to do nothing, say nothing, and get no revenge. If at all possible, this is what a husband must do if at all possible. Only when you cannot let something go should you move to the point of telling your wife what they have done to offend you and ask them to apologize.

Can Your Forgive?
If you cannot overlook an offense, you should sit down with your wife and talk to her about what she has done to offend you. In doing so you should avoid unjust accusations or berating her. Simply sit down and explain the problem. Don’t expect her to respond in that moment and give her time to process what you have talked about.

Then, if your wife comes to you and apologizes, you must remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” When you come to God in simple faith and ask him to forgive you, he does. Because lived the perfect life you could not live and died the death you should have died, you can be forgiven. This forgiveness is full and free. God does not make you beg for forgiveness or prove that you will never fail again.
In the same way, husbands you must forgive your wives when they wrong you. You will ask them to forgive you when you wrong them, and you must be willing to offer the same forgiveness. Do not make her earn your forgiveness and do not withhold it as punishment. Forgive freely as you have been freely forgiven. This means you will no longer dwell on this offense and will not bring it back up to her or to anyone else.

A beautiful thing happens in marriage when you forgive in this way. There will be no unresolved issues between you and there will be no lingering bitterness. Asking for and granting forgiveness becomes one of the most important aspects of your marriage because you clear away the garbage between you and walk in joy towards each other. This kind of forgiveness both increases your joy in marriage and brings glory to God and his forgiveness.

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
The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler
When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey

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.)