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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category


This story from the Odd News is certainly odd.  A Florida church is in trouble for a 3-week series about “great sex.”  No, the problem is not the denomination, or some stuffy members upset about such a scandalous thing.

The problem in this case is the “risk management” department of the local school board.  The controversy revolves around the 25,000 mailers sent to homes in the target area of the church.

Mark Langdorf, the director of risk management, says the mailers generated complaints, were not appropriate for elementary school children and shouldn’t be used to advertise the sermon in the school.

This implies a few things, which really aren’t true.

First, that the mailers were geared for, and sent to, children.  Elementary school children to be precise.  I seriously doubt they were sent to elementary school children.

Second, that elementary school children don’t hear about sex from … the school.  Yes, there could be some hypocrisy at work here.  It is okay for the kids to hear about sex, including certain deviations from normalcy portrayed as normal.  But not okay for a church to instruct adults about God’s good plan for sex within the confines and freedom of marriage.

Churches should be teaching people about sex- not just the when not to part.  A certain famous pastor has been attacking another certain famous pastor for doing just that using the Song of Solomon which last I checked was in the Bible, and about …. sex (among other things).  Most churches don’t have elementary age school children in the service for the sermon however.  So, I’m not sure how this would ‘damage’ the children who attend the school (which is the risk the risk management board should be assessing, though they might need to look at their own curriculum).  Nor should it damage the children who attend the church.

This is an off-hours, voluntary event that is not contiguous with normal school hours or any other school event.  So what is the problem here?  I just don’t understand how this could even be an issue.  But I guess it shows that the world is even more inconsistent when it comes to sex than the church is.

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With a slight let up in work, I can get to work on the new box of books that just arrived from the Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore.  Here’s what I got:

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I consider Proverbs to be “preventative grace”.  It was initially written to prepare young men for adulthood by providing practical wisdom.  It was to help them avoid the pitfalls of life’s choices rather than get out of them.  So, when I saw Anthony Selvaggio’s A Proverbs Driven Life, I was interested.  When I was offered a copy for free to review- I was estatic.

Before Selvaggio gets into the various topics that Proverbs covers, he wants to orient people to what Proverbs are, and aren’t.  Since Proverbs is a book about wisdom, it is about everyday life.  It is not about laws & precepts (he hits that again in a later section) but more like signposts.  Proverbs are generalisms that help us to make good choices by cluing us in to the typical outcomes. 

We need this book because, as he says, “people make a lot of short-sighted, self-centered decisions.”  And those decisions bring lots of misery to them and others.  We are a people who profoundly lack wisdom.

Proverbs offers us future-oriented wisdom and guidance so we can make wise decisions and live in ways that please and exalt God.

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Considering the Doghouse


Here is a very creative, lengthy commercial.  Enjoy- and don’t take it too seriously guys.

While watching it with CavWife, I commented “you’d be excited about that gift.”  Her response, “Looks like a Dyson!”  Some women are practical, but some want the big romance gift.  Guys, know your wives.  But, they can surprise you.  Prior to becoming the future-CavWife, she wore only simple earrings and little/no make-up.  I was surprised at how important it was for her to get the “perfect ring.”  I didn’t end up in the doghouse.

The art of gift giving is knowing the person and keeping an eye out for what they would like- not what you’d like to give them.  We do this with our kids, not just our spouses.  We tap into that forgotten child within, and get what we enjoyed or missed out on as a child.  Sometimes our kids love it, and sometimes we disappoint them.

The other issue here is how easily we can be offended.  It’s a commercial- it is meant to be memorable.  This is.  It pokes fun at both men and women.  Really, guys- she sends him away for who knows how long.  Sounds petty and vindictive to me.  But it is all just a joke.  Lighten up, and enjoy.

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Though often hailed as a monentous, historic revival, I have not found the Lakeland Outpouring to  compare favorably to other revivals using biblical criteria.  Whether people want to admit it or not, leadership matters.

The “mother of all revivals” was the Great Awakening.  There have been many books critically examining the Great Awakening, some by no less a heart and mind on fire for God than Jonathan Edwards.  Imagine how that assessment might change if Edwards, or Whitefield was discovered to have been an adulterer.  Or simply divorced his wife?  Would we say that God uses flawed people?  Well, of course he does since only Jesus was perfectly righteous.  But when you look at the flawed folks who led revivals in the Bible, did they have such smudge marks?  No.  David’s life was marked by pain and conflict after his affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite (not to be confused with Uriah Heep).

Photo 6/12 by Michael Wilson

Photo 6/12 by Michael Wilson

Today I heard that Todd Bentley is separating from his wife– the first step of divorce proceedings in Canada, of which they are both citizens.  She recently packed up her bags and left the warmer climes of Florida with the kids.  This after a few years of marriage counseling.

Rev. Stephen Strader assures us that no third party is involved.  Is this supposed to make us feel better?  No adultery, they just can’t get along.  The ‘gospel’ he preaches can not help them work out their marriage issues.  There is no grace to be offered to one another.  There is no power to change their sinful patterns of behavior.  No miracle for them.

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9 Mark Ministries compiled some ways for pastors to better love their wives (we’re talking a plurality of pastors, not polygamy) and kids.  Some of them are very good.  Some make me wonder “how?”  I’ll put my comments, silly and otherwise in brackets and in red.  Since they are compiled, there are some that sound inconsistent, go with it … they are suggestions.

IN RELATION TO YOUR FAMILY…

  1. Take the initiative and establish a plan for family worship. Then follow the plan! (Don Whitney encourages “brevity, regularity, and flexibility” in family worship.)
  2. Come home at the exact time you say you will be home; and prepare your heart to serve your family, not be served.  [this is very difficult to do regularly, at least for me.  there is that sinful sense of entitlement that plagues me when I return home, I want to rest not parent/husband.  i need grace.]
  3. Take responsibility for your children’s education and discipline—don’t leave it to your wife to figure out.
  4. Share with your wife and kids some of the good things that are going on in the church, and then thank them for helping to make that possible.
  5. Use every hour of your vacation time. And take a vacation that does not involve extended family; restrict it to just your wife and kids.  [All of our vacations have involved extended family.  We can’t afford to go anywhere else- I’m a pastor!]
  6. Take a two week vacation.  [this is wise, i’ve heard it takes about 10 days for you to actually begin to relax.  our 3 week summer vacations, though with extended family, were very relaxing.  if you go  to vacationing spots, it is hard to relax since you are going to theme parks and events.]
  7. Diligently guard your days off.  [lay leaders love this, not!  it can quickly breed a sense of envy on their part, or assuming you think you’re better than them or special.  you have to work had to communicate this priority well.  but if you’re guarding your days off, they should be able to guard theirs from church business, so maybe they really feel convicted of their lack of attentiveness to their families.  who knows, but it can get messy, folks.]
  8. There are times when it seems like you have to choose whether to be a good dad/husband or a good pastor. Good pastors choose to be good dad/husbands.  [What makes this difficult is the success-driven culture of many of our churches.  They want you to be a successful dad, not necessarily a loving & involved dad.  Loving involvement will mean less time to building the empire.  I know building my relationship with my daughter ‘cost’ the church some of my time/energy that might have resulted in a different outcome for the congregation- and my family.]IN RELATION TO YOUR WIFE…
  9. Get up early and have your quiet time, so that you can take the kids in the morning while your wife has her quiet time.  [she’s up way before the rest of us, so this is a moot point for me.]
  10. Give her flowers and a hand written card when she least expects it.

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This weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of a great friend who was marrying a great woman.  They are … a great couple.

Since it was nearly 2 hours away drive-time, and CavGirl was the flower girl, we ended up staying in a Residence Inn about 30 minutes away from the wedding site.  We packed up the car and headed out Friday morning, hoping to enjoy some time at the hotel before naps.  Alas, that was not to be so since it took longer to get there than I had anticipated.  It was farther north than I thought, which was advantageous when it came to going back and forth for rehearsal & the wedding with 2 toddlers.

The front desk informed us that due to a lightning strike, they would have to test the alarm system that afternoon.  But they checked our room before we even got settled in.

After I unloaded the car, I set out to iron my clothes for that evening.  I wouldn’t be able to do it with the kids down for a nap.  At that point CavWife asked about the dresses for CavGirl, and her own clothing for the festivities that night and the next.  “Huh?  What clothes?  I thought you got them?”  I was informed that I actually had to move them off my suit to load it into the car.  She was without appropriate clothing for the rehearsal and dinner to follow.   Neither of us was happy.

Now I’m checking out the LG HD LCD TVs in the rooms.  I have TV envy- the picture is so incredibly sharp.  After the kids enjoy their lunch it is off to bed for them.  I wonder, what are we eating?  Apparently I’m off to hunt up some grub for 2 starving adults.  After splitting a McDonald’s Asian salad and some McTenders we settle in for the afternoon.  All was going fabulously until I started to get ready for the rehearsal.  Suddenly the alarms for the whole building are blaring- the kids are screaming (well, they had to get up anyway).  It is so ear-piercing we take them out by the pool to calm them down.  I couldn’t even think in there.  This is the effect they wanted them to have.  But I had flashbacks to 3 am fire alarms in college.

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I’ve made my way through the first 6 chapters of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp.  I’ve come across another one of those books I wish I’d read in seminary.  It would have been helpful not just in my own personal ministry, but to help equip others for their personal ministry in the church.  Yes, the one another kind of ministry that Scripture repeatedly mentions.

In chapter one, Tripp lays out the fact that our redemption in Christ is what makes all other change possible.  Those changes are not disconnected or isolated from the redemption that Jesus purchased for us. 

The good news confronts us with the reality that heart-changing help will never be found in the mound (creation).  It will only be found in the Man, Christ Jesus.  We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles.  We offer people a Redeemer.  In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies.  Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change.

He briefly unpacks the damage sin has done to us.  This is why we need a Redeemer so badly.

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I confess I am guilty.  I often forget to get “permission” about using CavWife in a sermon illustration.  Usually she looks good in them.  But still …

 

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Yesterday was one of those days.  Our home was filled with manifestations of depravity (crabiness, anger, fear, doubt, whining etc.)  It was so wearisome.  By the time the kids went to bed we were both done.

Part of the Prayer Jesus gave us states “lead us not into trial/temptation, and deliver us from evil”.  The word Jesus used can be translated as either trial or temptation.  Since God can tempt no one (James 1), but He does test or try us, I prefer translating trial.  But our trials produce temptations as the heat and thorns of life connect with our fallen nature.  What are our temptations?

1. We are tempted to run, fleeing the trial.  We are tempted to merely change our circumstances and remove the pressure of the trial.  Lots of people choose this option far to often.  “When the going gets tough, the ‘tough’ get going”, as in gone.

2, We are tempted to use fleshly means to accomplish (what we think are) God’s purposes.  We see this often in Genesis.  Sarah specialized in this one.  Trouble getting pregnant … “here’s my main servant.  Get her pregnant.”  We employ worldly wisdom to try and get our way (James 3-4).

3. We are tempted to numb ourselves of the pain.  We zone out in front of the TV or computer.  We want a pina-colada IV.  We eat ourselves into oblivion.  He hide in pornography.  Our options are nearly unlimited in modern society.  This the easiest option for us to take.  It requires less of us.  We don’t have to really change anything, just … well, flick a switch or open the fridge.

These are all easy for us to identify.  We see them all the time.  What we rarely see is the response of faith and repentance.  As a result we don’t often know what this looks like, or how to do it.

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I’m not talking about the movie.  I’m talking about the ruins left behind by ‘progressive’ ideas.  Two blog posts by Al Mohler illustrate.

One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest regrets, so I’ve heard, is signing the “No Fault Divorce” law as Governor of California.  A man who grew up a few blocks from the “Brady” house in California decided to check in with his friends from high school to see how the rapid increase in divorce among their parents affected them.  His Newsweek article shares some of the shocking stories.  The author is only 2 years older than me.  Although divorce was not quite as common in southern New Hampshire, I know I felt some of those fears as a child.

Despite his experiences, Mr. Jefferson states that he’d marry his partner if allowed to by law.  This leads us to the next topic Dr. Mohler addresses.  Many ‘progressives’ have a “not my kid” mentality about homosexuality.  These are people who willing and warmly embrace homosexuals (actually, many Christians do too), so they are not “homophobes”.  But they are conflicted when it comes to their own children.  And apparently their kids have caught on.  Homosexuals in Christian families report having an easier time telling their parents.  These of course are probably families that understand the gospel and practice unconditional love.  Why do I say this?  A family that “gets” the gospel understands that all of us are corrupt and prone toward evil.  Some of us just pursue “respectable” evils like gluttony, gossip and greed to name but a few.  You don’t have to approve or like your kids’ choices, but you are to love them like you love yourself. 

The ruins of ‘progressive’ thought (which exalts personal freedom over mutual obligation and personal responsibility) are broken families and uncertain kids.  Not only are kids uncertain if their parents will stay together, but if their parents will continue to love them if they knew the truth about them.  Afterall, isn’t that why some/many of their parents are divorcing- they couldn’t handle the truth about one another.  Obviously, sometimes it is one spouse’s unwillingness to change destructive behavior.  But this still undermines a child’s relational foundation.

My hope is not in “conservative values”.  I’m not into moralism though I have conservative values.  My hope is in the gospel, the power of God to save everyone who believes.  We can be saved not only penalty of sin, but the power of sin.  Communities that “get” the gospel will provide the relational stability necessary for children to grow up able to love others.

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One of the great past times here in central FL is eating out.  Between tourists and retirees who are tired of cooking, a large number of restaurants exist to satisfy people’s need to feed.  We’ll routinely see lines outside of restaurants after 8 pm- on a weeknight.  In our community, this is aggravated by the relative “lack” of things to do.

This is a big contributor to American waistlines.  Until the age of 35 I could literally eat anything, and as much of it as I possibly could- with no effects on my body.  Then … I got married.  It took me awhile to adjust to a new reality as my body changed due to age, change of lifestyle and some bad problems.  Thankfully, we really can’t afford to eat out much.  I like getting my money’s worth at a restaurant, but that can put a big burden on your belt, and result in needing to buy bigger pants.

Men’s Health has listed 20 of the worst meals, by category.  You may want to check out how many of these fat & calorie burdened meals you enjoy.  Maybe it is time to consider your eating habits.  Glutteny is one of those “civilized” sins you rarely, if ever, hear about.  We think it doesn’t harm anyone.  But a parent’s gluttony most likely affects the eating habits of their children (most likely to either extreme).  It also affects the cost of health care here in America.  Many of us are not good stewards of our bodies, and even worse serve our bellies (a form of idolatry).  It seems a victimless sin, but it really isn’t.  As we glut our bodies our souls shrink.  We feel satisfied, forget God and die inside.  Christ can restore our relationship to food, too.

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Paul David Tripp’s latest book is A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You.  As a blog partner of WTS Bookstore, I got a free copy.  It is one of their bestselling books right now, and for good reason.

This is an easy to understand, but spiritually challenging book.  I may have to go back and read it more slowly.  The book is essentially a meditation on Matthew 6:33:  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Tripp explores the idea that our hearts, as Christians, are battle grounds between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of me.  He does this in a thorough, accessible way that brings conviction even if you are barely paying attention.  Each chapter begins with a Bottom Line and ends with a Final Question.  He wants to make you think about your life, rather than merely process abstract ideas.

He begins by tying this into the lie of Satan in the Garden.  He offered more, but we ended up with a lesser glory.  We end up becoming preoccupied with these lesser glories due to the influence of sin.

Chapters 3-7 explore life in the kingdom of me.  He talks about autonomy (a law unto ourselves), our need to control, our self-focus, wearing masks and how life shrinks instead of expands when we focus on the kingdom of me.

The rest of the book explores life in God’s kingdom focusing on the preeminence of Christ, sacrifice, our dissatisfaction with the way things are due to sin, living in harmony with God, forgiveness, loneliness, righteous anger and hope.  He in no way exhausts these subjects, but wants us to see how they fill Scripture and are important signposts letting us know if we are living for the right kingdom at any given moment.

This is a key.  Our hearts are like Europe during the Battle of the Bulge.  In any given day we will make numerous decisions, some to build God’s kingdom, and some to build our own.  Some may even have a mixture of motives.  This plays out in marriage, parenting, work.  As I parent, which kingdom am I building?  Whose kingdom and riches am I working for?  And these questions become important parts of ministry- whether formal or informal.  I’ll be preaching what is essentially a summary of these ideas on Sunday.  These ideas need to become a part of the counseling process, and ministry evaluation.  If we don’t ask ourselves, and one another, these types of questions we will plunge unhindered into the kingdom of me.  These are the ordinary means God will use to let us know we’ve gone rogue on Him.  And all of this is why I think this is an important book to read.  Tripp invites us into the mystery of our hearts to begin to reveal that mystery.  Great stuff.

The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the “romance” language.  In some ways this is an over-reaction to the over-popularization of John Eldredge (whose use of this language sounds an aweful lot like open theism).  Tripp doesn’t go into all the “God risk” blather.  He does not open a door for open theism in his discussion of romance.  But it all strikes me as odd to talk about my relationship with God that way.  He’s thinking about the passion and commitment, but I’m thinking of the unavoidable sexual overtones to the concept.  There has to be a better way.  Or maybe I’ve just been listening to too much Mark Driscoll who doesn’t want to sing love ballads to Jesus.

This is a very small part of the book.  The vast majority of the book is thought-provoking, challenging and draws upon Scripture consistently.  I was encouraged to read that he has watched Magnolia a number of times, captivated by its themes of brokenness and redemption.  Tripp wants to understand the human condition and how it plays out in ordinary lives- as well as how God interrupts our course with His grace.

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Basic household tasks and improvements have been taken to a new level of frustration.  I was trying to hand a curtain rod in CavSon’s room yesterday.  As if there were not enough problems presented by the cinderblocks, every time I turned around I had at least 2 kids in the way.  Sometimes the dog was in the way too.  I couldn’t move and every step took forever.  And I’m not even done.

CavSon continues to do well.  He and I were alone all morning yesterday.  Aside from a small tantrum when his snack wasn’t as much as he wanted, it was great.  But I was done.   I also can’t wait for us to get done with the Huggies.  We are Pampers people.  I’m not sure how the Huggies ended up in our possession, but they do not hug his bottom, particularly when there be poop in there.  There have been “breaches of security”.

CavWife is now nesting.  She has me trying to hang the aforementioned curtains.  She is cleaning the closet in our room so the pack ‘n’ play can fit there while her parents are here.  She’s trying not to move my “lousy chair” again.  She gave me this “lousy chair”.  It is “lousy” because we keep moving it from room to room every time we try to make life work in our 1,250 sq. ft. home that God keeps filling to ever-increasing abundance.  We know people in other places have more people in less space.  But we really feel cramped, we can barely turn around without bumping into a kid, or the Visa Dog (everywhere you want to be).  We are trying to be good stewards of the what God has given us, and this means lots of rearrainging.

 We were also having internet issues.  They are following me around.  The church were my office is has not had internet service since we returned from NY.  The poor layman whose been trying to fix it, starting 2 weeks after I mentioned the problem, may finally have it under control.  He’s doing this because he cares, not because of expertise.  Unfortunately, churches can sometimes take the cheap way out, and lose valuable time while a kind-hearted person tries to figure it out.  The secretary has spents a few days without being able to print things since this has affected the whole network in the office.  Here, it seems that our modem is failing.  So service has been intermittent.  In coming days there should be more pictures (I’m loving the extra free space WordPress has provided).

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We are currently on vacation here in the Adirondacks.  Another snowy day, but I can’t enjoy it out there.  I’m stuck inside with an injured knee.  I wish I had a great story- snowboarding, wrestling with a wild animal, something, anything other than merely shoveling snow and trying to turn while knee deep in a snow bank.  The x-ray didn’t show any breaks.  The PA thinks it is strained ligaments or a torn menuscis.  I’ll need an MRI to sort it out, but that can wait until we get home.  Until then, I am hobbled.

The timing really stinks since we just got our travel approval.  The travel dates are not set yet.  One of the 2 options is 4 days after we return from NY.  The other option is a week later.  We forgot to take care on one piece of important paperwork.  Well, I goofed thinking it just needed to be notarized but it also has to be certified.  Not an easy thing to do from 1,000 miles away.  A minor scramble.

In the midst of all that, do we try to have a birthday party for our about to turn 3 year-old?  We will have one here with family, but should we have one for friends in FL?  Tough call.

Despite my pain, I enjoyed watching the Patriots have the first perfect regular season since the NFL season went to 16 games.  This game exhibited some of the worst 4th quarter clock management since the Eagles lost to the Patriots in the SuperBowl.  Truly pathetic that the Giants’ final drive took so long with no one seemingly able to find the sideline.  The season was no cakewalk, as the Patriots beat most of the best teams this year (Colts, Cowboys, Steelers).  It is great, and amazing- but not the goal.  The goal is the SuperBowl.  It won’t be easy- the Colts, Chargers and Jags are all excellent teams and the Patriots could face 2 of them.

The Celtics continue to remind everyone of 1985-86.  Last night they denied Phil Jackson’s bid for the best coaching record, held by Red.  Fitting!  They are now 26-3, and could have won all 3 of those games (or lost a few other games that were close- but that is what great teams do).  The 3 major Boston teams, since Sox were down 3-1 in the ALCS have just been astounding (43-3).  Those 3 Celtic losses are the only 3.

CavWife and I celebrated our 6th year of wedded (mostly) bliss.  We were able to escape to Glens Falls to buy some new boots for me (my Timberlands lasted 20+ years but died last winter).  I got some new Timberlands- Eurohikers.  I enjoyed them for less than 24 hours before my accident.  I haven’t checked the lighting on my photos of the snow from that one excursion.  Then we had lunch at a Thai restaurant.  I tried the Drunken Noodles- way hotter than I thought they would be.  Good, but I paid for it.

Time to rest my knee… read some (getting ready for the release of Prince Caspian) and get more much needed rest (it is hard to sleep with a messed up knee).

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One area of disagreement with John Piper that I discovered in What Jesus Demands from the World is in the area of divorce and remarriage.   This is an important issue in our day, particularly as we see the utter confusion regarding very public divorces among Christians.  We really do need to better understand and apply what Jesus says about divorce and remarriage (both directly and through His apostles and prophets- see 2 Timothy 3 to remember that ALL Scripture is useful in this regard).

Piper proposes a view that I have not heard before.  In seminary I wrote a paper on the subject, using Carl Laney as the representative of the view that there is to be no remarriage after divorce.  This is a view I held as a young Christian, and argued harshly for much to my shame.  I believe, based on Matthew 5:31 & 19:8-9, as well as 1 Corinthians 7, that there are biblical grounds for divorce, and that when those grounds are met, the “innocent” party is free to marry again.

Piper points to the fact that the other gospel accounts do not include an exception.  Matthew is the only one that includes the exception.  He points for the reason for this exception in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.  He argues that this explains how Joseph could be a righteous/just man while considering to put a pregnant Mary away for what he thought was sexual immorality.  As a result, Piper thinks that the use of porneia here is limited to sexual sin during the period of betrothment or engagement.  Your marriage has not been consummated, no vows have been taken, and you are free to marry (not again, since you were only engaged, not married).

This view would mean that all divorce would be sin, and all remarriage after divorce would be sin.  If you had remarried, he would advocate remaining in that marriage instead of compounding your sin with another divorce.

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It has taken me far too long to read this book.  The problem was I had What Jesus Demands From the World by John Piper at home, not at the office.  And I read in my free time.  It is a book well worth reading, and recommending.

Piper narrows his focus on what Jesus says as recorded in the Gospels.  At times this is helpful, and at other times it is not so helpful.  One instance is his discussion of divorce and remarriage, which by virtue of his method excludes Jesus’ teaching through Paul.  Piper ends up with what to me is a new spin on Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage (others, like Sinclair Ferguson, would also disagree with him but still recommend the book, so I’m not alone in this).  I think the question of divorce and remarriage justifies its own post.  Suffice it to say, I don’t buy his argument on exegetical and theological grounds.  Like the Bereans, we are to measure all things by the Word of God.  Piper isn’t perfect, but this disagreement does not cut to the core of the Gospel so we can agree to disagree.

One thing I found interesting was this: “Jesus knew and taught that between his first and second coming to earth there would be a lapse of time.  For example, Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants is a story of what will happen between his first and second coming.”   I agree that Jesus knew and taught this.  I disagree that this was the point of the parable in Luke 20.  The parable talks about the wicked tenants killing the heir in an attempt to gain the vineyard (vs. 14).  Seems to point to the crucifixion of Jesus, and the impending destruction of Jerusalem (vs .16) which occurred in AD 70.  So, the very long time in verse 9 is the intertestamental period, not the period between the first and second coming.  This is uncharacteristic for John Piper, who usually shows himself a worker well approved.

This is not enough to undermine the great good that is found in this book.  And, contrary to  one reviewer’s point of view, there is lots of grace to be found in this book.  There is grace to pardon and purify talked about often in this book.  It is a book for those wanting to better understand discipleship, which is sorely needed in our day.

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I’ve been reading How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp for a few weeks, longer than I wanted to and not as long as I should.  But that I mean I will probably re-read it and spend more time working thru the material.

This was a great book, though not an easy read.  I would probably call it “How God Changes People”, for it is about how we mature in Christ.  Lane and Tripp lay out a model for looking at our lives that makes biblical sense, and is helpful for counseling- formal, pastoral and informal.

Biblical Counseling (formerly called neuthetic counseling) has itself matured beyond the polemics of Jay Adams.  We find here a model that recognizes  our painful circumstances as a result of living in a fallen world, without minimizing our sinful responses.  In fact, our difficult circumstances do not create our sin, but rather reveal the sin that is already there.

Unlike the sense I got from Jay Adams, our difficulties are not irrelevant.  They are to be lamented, laid out before God and an opportunity to trust Him.  The Psalms are filled with this.

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On my earlier post about Paula White, Bill Reichart left a link about Randy and Paula getting a divorce.  In that post, based on the Tampa Tribune articles/expose on them, it seemed like this divorce was inevitable.

Such news is never good, and no cause for rejoicing.  It is quite disappointing that 2 ministers could not find the power in the gospel to forgive, reconcile and keep going.  No details were given in the article.  The WFLA video gives a hint: “the landscape of life changes” Paula said in an April interview.  In another interview around that time Randy got defensive when discussing his adult daughter who may die from a brain tumor if there is no miracle (‘it’s not supposed to be this way’).  This crisis seemed the tipping point in their marriage.  They found no comfort in the gospel.  This is a big crisis in a marriage, and all the more reason to rely upon God’s grace through the partner He gave you.  But … they think this gives them an out.

What next for the surgically modified former couple?  “I’m gonna pastor this church (Church Without Walls).”  said Randy.  “Paula’s gonna preach the gospel around the world.”  Huh?  Isn’t divorce without adultery a sin?  Don’t they think they should be subject to proper church discipline and restoration prior to continuing in ministry?  This is the problem of the independent megachurch.  They are autonomous, accountable to no one.  This is fraudulent and the 23,000 members need to leave, and TV viewers need to turn the channel, unless these 2 people repent of their sin.  As a result, this is a sad day in the evangelical church- for more reasons than we can think.  This action is a denial of the gospel they claim to preach.

Update for their defenders:  Consider 1 Timothy 5

19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

They publicly announced their divorce, so there are plenty of witnesses.  They need to be publicly rebuked, so others will take warning and stop treating marriage so lightly.

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The new book When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage is kickin’ my tail- in a good way.  Dave Harvey essentially takes up two of the verses that have been bouncing around my head for months- 1 Timothy 1:15 and James 4:1ff.  I can see why Paul Tripp has called this the best book he’s read about marriage.  Dave is getting to the heart of our struggles in marriage, stripping away the surface and pretence we put up to avoid the fact that most of our marriage problems trace back to the fact that each of us is the biggest sinner we know, and that we fight because we have these inordinate desires that aren’t fulfilled so we attack one another.

Dave writes as a fellow sinner and struggler.  The book is filled with his personal struggles and failures.  But he points us back to the power of the gospel to break our cycles of sin, blaming and distance.  He applies some simple biblical principles that we often neglect because we are trying to justify ourselves before our spouses instead of removing the log from our eyes so we can then gently help our spouses.

As I read the book, I find the conviction of the Spirit regarding the patterns of sin in my own life.  And my faulty methods of dealing with them.  This is the gospel applied to our problems in marriage (any relationship, really, for much of the book).  This is moving beyond being forgiven to see how the grace of God teaches us to say ‘no’ to our own ungodly desires.  It is about growing in forebearance, how to cultivate a proper attitude to talk with our spouse about their sin, when to just show mercy.

This is a book I will probably give to many people close to me, and recommend (require?) for marriage counseling.  I’m so glad WTS Bookstore gave me a copy.  I’m so glad God gave Dave Harvey wisdom from his failures, and especially connecting them with the gospel of grace in Christ.  We all need to learn how to do this more consistently.

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