Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’


In preparing for my sermon on Sunday I re-read Jonathan Edwards’ discourse “Men are Naturally God’s Enemy”. Nestled in there was the following:

“All the sin that men commit, is what they do in the service of their idols: there is no one act of sin, but what is an act of service to some false god. And therefore wherein soever God opposes sin in them, his is opposite to their worship of idols: on which account they are his enemies. God opposes them in their service of their idols.”

Idols are our functional saviors, what we use to supplement (or replace) the living and true God. We use them to “save” us from the realities of life in a fallen world. They offer pleasure, distraction, hope and other benefits. Not that they can deliver. But we rely on them, and their false promises, anyway.

As Tim Keller notes, these idols are often good things. We aren’t talking about little statues we bow down to each morning. But they function as gods in our lives. They have our allegiance. We rest our sense of security on them. This we do because, as John Calvin noted, our hearts are factories of idols. Not that we create idols, but turn good things into idols. The problem is not “out there”, but “in here”.

As I lay in bed, wishing I was asleep, I was struck by the fact that our most common idols are found in the first few chapters of Genesis. Sure, there are modern ones like fancy sports cars (or luxury sedans or…), all things Apple, and other inventions. Or science, many bow down there accepting whatever science says (this week) without recognizing that scientists are finite, sinners with (often ungodly) presuppositions instead of purely objective thinkers and observers. But most of our idols have been there from the beginning. As a result, they go unnoticed by most people.

In one of the books I’ve read (it’s been a few years and my aging mind can’t remember which one and I don’t have the free time to chase it down), the author tells of a person from India coming to the States. Now, when people from the States go to India they are struck by the sheer number of little idols, statues to gods, that are seemingly everywhere. Yet, this person arrived on our shores aghast at all of our idols! It is always easier to see other people’s idols. Just like it is easier to see their splinter while not noticing the log in your eye.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1 (ESV)

We see here a number of idols, or functional saviors, that enslave people. I guess I could start with religion. I’m not talking faith in the God of the Bible, but that tendency toward ritual and legalism that provide us with a false sense of assurance. But I won’t.

Marriage is a frequent idol for people. They think it a refuge from loneliness, economic insecurity and hopelessness. Many single people think life would be tolerable if only they were married. Many married people live in fear of their marriage ending and don’t take the necessary steps to make that relationship healthier and godly. They so need the approval of their spouse they never say ‘no’ and live in misery because they fear a greater misery.

Connected to marriage by God, but disconnected by humanity, is sex. We live in a society of sex addicts, or idolators. Sex offers them, they think, enough pleasure to overcome the pain and boredom of life that they become enslaved. They think it offers intimacy, but forsake its intended intimacy through objectification of various kinds. It often destroys the relationships we so desperately want.

Also connect to marriage by God, and increasingly disconnected by people, is children. Many seek love from (rather than giving love to) children. They seek immortality through their children. They seek to fulfill their own failed goals through their children. Many people place intolerable burdens on their children, destroying them as a result.

We also find control. We are to subdue and rule creation- under God’s authority. But we try to play God and make everything bend to our authority. We crave control, fearing we are not sufficient to meet the challenges of unexpected events or circumstances. It destroys relationships like acid (then we wonder why the person left even as we try to manipulate them back into the relationship).

We also make a god of creation. Our idol factory hearts twist stewardship of creation into environmentalism so that the environment and/or animals become more important than people made in God’s image. People begin to sacrifice real and potential relationships on the altar of being green. They look to their pets to fill the black hole in their hearts that crave unconditional love. We should care for the environment and animals, including pets, but many give them ultimate status in their universe.

Work is another functional savior for people. (For others the avoidance of work is their idol). They seek to be utterly independent, secure and safe thru their work. It provides an ultimate meaning for them that only God is intended to have. They turn the image of God in on itself. God works, and calls us to work. It is the ordinary means of providing our needs. But in God’s providence, at times we endure hardship that we might be humble and experience grace and compassion so we will be ready to extend grace and compassion.

“A true hope looks forward to the obtaining of happiness in no other way but the way of the gospel, which is by a holy Savior, and in a way of cleaving to and following him.” Jonathan Edwards in Charity and Its Fruits

All of these things, as God gave them to us, is good! But we ceaselessly give them more importance than intended. We use them in the place of God to provide us with satisfaction, security, pleasure and even salvation. All that we have turned into functional saviors can only be returned to their rightful place as we seek all our significance, meaning, security and satisfaction from Christ. This only happens as we see the the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ as Creator and Redeemer. As Jonathan Edwards argues, only when we see Christ as sufficient to bestow all the happiness we need, will we forsake other means to secure earthly happiness.

Read Full Post »


Kevin DeYoung continues with the general theme of our union with Christ in the 9th chapter of The Hole in Our Holiness. That union is the foundation of our communion with Christ. That communion with Christ is important to our growth in holiness.

Communion with Christ is only possible for those who are in Christ, or united with Christ. Communion, or fellowship, with Christ is our ultimate goal. All of the blessings of the gospel, including sanctification, come to us in Christ. We do not seek them, including holiness, apart from Christ. We seek them from Christ. All that you could ever seek, with the exception of sin, is to be found in Christ. Seeking them elsewhere is an exercise in futility.

“Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to a slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging union with Christ leads us to an ever-increasing communion with Christ.”

DeYoung distinguishes between union and communion. They cannot be separated from one another, as if you have one without the other. But they are different. Our union with Christ is unbreakable. Our communion with Christ is subject to change depending on whether we are pursuing Him or sin at a given time. It is like marriage, he notes, we are in the state of marriage regardless of how we feel about each other at the moment. But the strength of our marriage is variable, depending on love and sacrifice. You are not more or less marriage. You either are or are not. But your marriage can be more or less healthy. Similarly, we are not more or less a Christian (union with Christ), but our relationship is more or less healthy (communion & sanctification).

“I don’t want to belabor the point, but it’s important we understand that communion with God is predicated on union with Christ and not the other way around.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Someone, somewhere, has proclaimed this Free Speech Pulpit Freedom Sunday (see what happens when you blog after getting up at 3 am- this was the least of my worries). People do that- declare a Sunday for their causes. It can be good to move us to focus prayer on particular issues like abortion, adoption, and the persecuted church.

Free Speech Sunday is a new one, at least to me. Sometimes I feel like I live in a cave. You’d think I wasn’t connected to the internet by an umbilical cord.

The purpose, as I understand it, of Free Speech Pulpit Freedom Sunday is to recognize what the IRS says a church can and cannot say. My understanding of the tax code (I am not an accountant, and getting one’s opinion on the tax code is about as helpful as asking a roomful of theologians a question) is that churches can address political issues, but not lobby for particular candidates. That this law is not fairly applied, from my opinion, is not the point. Actually, it is the point in terms of the intention of the day. Some use this fear of removing 501(c)3 status from conservative churches to silence them. But churches can talk politics, according to the law. We can say if a candidate’s position on abortion or marriage is immoral. We can say if the candidates break the 9th commandment (oh, boy do they do that early and often). We are on less solid ground when discussing the economic theory of the candidates (I have strong opinions on this matter, having a degree in economics, but that is not the same as comparing someone to a biblical standard on truth-telling in campaigning, or killing babies.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


While considering what to study in our men’s group this Fall, one of the books I read was Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham. It covers some of the same ground as The Masculine Mandate. But this book has a very different feel to it, handles things in a different order and has a more distinct agenda(s) than Rick Phillips’ book did. Since I pretty much read them simultaneously, I have a hard time not comparing them.

Family Shepherds reflects Voddie’s personality and ministry, just like Rick’s book reflects his. I’ve read another book or two from Voddie, and this is similar in tone and agenda. He has a prophetic bent (Rick’s, perhaps from his time as a tank commander, is more kingly). Voddie is not afraid to get into the reader’s business. Rick also stands firm on his views, but is less “in your face” about it.

Voddie’s ministry is marked by a few drumbeats. One of them is vitally important, particular in the context in which he ministers. The other is one I have some sympathies, but aren’t as passionate and dogmatic about as he is.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


I’ve lost track of the avalanche of men’s books over the years. That’s because I wasn’t too impressed with what I was seeing. Neither was Rick Phillips. In particular, he was not happy with some of what John Eldredge says in his book Wild At Heart, and how he runs his wilderness retreats. So he ended up writing The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men.

But, while you might expect a reactionary book this really isn’t. He only mentions Eldredge in the first chapter. His point is that what John says concerning Adam and the Garden  is not really defensible. Eldredge argues that man finds his identity outside the garden, that men are not domesticated. If you mean “feminized”, then Phillips agrees with you. But he notes:

“The garden is the place where God relates covenantally to his creature man and where God brings the man into covenantal relationships and obligations. … God put the man in the garden. … If God intends men to be wild at heart, how strange that he placed man in the garden, where his life would be shaped not by self-centered identity quests but by covenantal bonds and blessings.”

Phillips’ thesis is that man’s calling is to live responsibly within those bonds and enjoying those blessings. The call of man is found in the creation mandate “to work and keep” which is lived out in work, marriage, parenting and church.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


One of the phrases that sticks with me from The Meaning of Marriage is that of future glory. Keller points to places like Ephesians 5 to contemplate this idea of our future glory.

25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Jesus gave himself up for the church for a few reasons mentioned here (and others elsewhere). He sets her apart. He has cleansed her in order to present her to himself. Her new condition is one of splendor, without blemish. Paul is mentioning the future glory of the church. And this is to be the model for the husband, to consider the future glory of his own wife.

I’m currently editing my own book on marriage, and grappling with this passage. We tend to get stuck in the tension between their dignity as image bearers and their depravity as sinners. Each of us tends to err in one or the other extreme. We can focus on their dignity so much that we idealize them, worship them and don’t address the sin they do commit. It is almost like you remain forever in that infatuation phase when all you see is what is good about a person and not their faults and failings.

But most people who are married for any length of time tend to slowly drift toward the other extreme. Their failures and faults loom large since we see them on display regularly. We grow weary of these things, apart from grace.

This grace is two-fold. First, there is forgiveness. No marriage, or any relationship, can survive without forgiveness. It is like grace’s in-door plumbing system. It refreshes those how are guilty, and removes our “waste” from the relationship. Without it the relationship begins to look like one of those houses in Hoarders, filled with animal excrement, mold and filth. It is an assault on one’s senses. Forgiving one another is rooted in Christ’s atonement. Paul goes there at the end of Ephesians 4. Since we have received grace from God, we are to grace one another. We forgive because we have been forgiven!

Second, there is contemplating their future glory. Your spouse will not always remain as they are now. In our saner moments we notice how much God has changed them already. My wife sees this most clearly whenever we spend time with my family. I am increasingly less like them.

But we also need hope, and God provides that in passages like this. All of the members of Christ’s bride will appear before him in splendor, without blemish. We need to keep this thought before us. He or she will one day be just like Jesus in their character. Their personality will remain, in purified form, but they will no longer have their faults and failings. Their blemishes will be gone.

And one of the means that God uses to accomplish this, one set of circumstances in which he applies the work of Christ, is marriage. If you are married, this is probably the primary place. He has others, so if you are single don’t worry, he’ll apply them to you as well. You are one of the means as you increasingly treat their sin as Jesus does. Yes, you become a living representative of Jesus to them as one in whom the image of God is being restored. You are patient, merciful and yet firm with their sin. You call them out, AND to repentance on the basis of God’s mercy in Christ. You aren’t doing it to win an argument or keep them in their place so you can feel superior. You are pursuing their sanctification with humility and love.

In our community group recently I also applied this to our experience with the church. We often begin our time at a church in an infatuation phase. The pastor’s sermons are awesome, people friendly etc. Eventually we being to see their sin. We begin to be sinned against. What do we do? Depends. If we are not actively impacted by grace, we get angry and leave. But grace enables us to forgive the sins of the local church and contemplate (as well as pursue) her future glory.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1

Paul here contemplates that future glory with regard to the Philippian church. God is the one who began this, and will finish it. Paul rested in that. We need to as well. If we are sure of this, like Paul was, we can be patient and merciful with our fellow church members- forgiving them, correcting them, offering them mercy in the midst of their sin.

If we don’t, our church life will become like so many marriages: cold, distant, lifeless and ending in divorce.

Read Full Post »


Yes, I’ve already reviewed The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. I thought I would go back to something that I think is important. It is something that we tend not to learn easily. People tell us about, but the cultural pull can be so difficult to escape.

The quest for marriage, or the search for a marriage partner, must include developing your own relationship with Christ. Since our hearts are factories of idols (Calvin), we quickly make idols of marriage itself, or particular people.

We make an idol of marriage when we think we MUST be married. We sound like Rachel, who said she must have children or die (Gen. 30). We get angry with God because he hasn’t provided a spouse. Marriage won’t fix all your problems or address all your felt needs.

We can also fixate on particular people. We end up like all the men in There’s Something About Mary. We pursue a relationship in an unhealthy manner, rule out other relationships and harm other people who stand in our way. But that is extreme. Think of Jacob, who made an idol out of Rachel. He had to have her, and nobody else but her. Or John Newton whose journals reflect his constant temptation to make an idol out of his wife, Polly.

Without a deeply fulfilling relationship with Christ now, and hope in a perfect love relationship with him in the future, married Christians will put too much pressure on their marriage to fulfill them, and that will always create pathology in their lives.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


The world is filled with books on marriage. Many of them are not worth reading. But there has been a bunch of excellent books on marriage that have been released in the last few years. Add The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller (with his wife Kathy).

Tim is one of the best people for writing a book on marriage, from a biblical perspective, that non-Christians may actually read. He touches upon some of the more contemporary controversies here, clearly but without condemnation. I know some guys in our denomination love to hate on Keller as some great compromiser. I don’t see him that way. I just see him in a light similar to John Newton: clear as to what he believes but not using that to stick his finger in people’s eyes. He’d much rather win them to his position- that whole winsome thing. Not everyone is supposed to be Elijah, engaging in clear confrontations to expose the folly of false gods (though Keller did write a book on that).

Keller spends more time on cohabitation, bringing up studies which reveal how destructive it actually is to marriage.  He shows how the typical arguments used to justify the practice have no basis in facts. So he shows the foolishness of that particular sin in a variety of ways. Homosexual marriage is not tackled head on, but he consistently affirms the biblical view of man and woman. Contrary to what I’ve heard from some of the haters, there is a clear affirmation of complementarianism. But they distinguish the biblical doctrine from how some people practice it.  And that is good. We have to recognize that if will look different in different marriages and in different cultures.

The book is not perfect. There are, I think, so factual errors. Tim writes that Paul was never married. We don’t know that. He, as a Pharisee, was probably married at some point. But at the time of his work as an Apostle, he was single- probably widowed. But that is a small thing.

My only other complaint was the length of the chapters. They were quite long, about 25 pages each on average. I like to finish a chapter in a sitting, and due to my schedule that was a little more difficult with this book.

The book derived from sermons on marriage the Tim preached in 1991. The bulk of the book is drawn from Ephesians 5, but the Kellers draw on a number of resources to understand and apply the biblical teaching on marriage. They cover issues of love (romantic love, mature love and the acceptance of one another’s faults), how to look for a spouse and what to look for in one, gender differences and roles in marriage, sex and more. They walk thru some of the landmines, the idols of both traditional and progressive culture.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Today is Valentine’s Day, the day when we celebrate romantic love. Such love ushers many people into the most satisfying and most frustrating relationship of their lives. Isn’t it odd how the same relationship can be both.

https://www.wtsbooks.com/common/images/97805/9780525952473.jpgRomantic love, I’ve often said, is how  God tricks us into getting married. Romantic love is temporary. It can’t last, and it was not meant to last. It often blinds us to the most serious faults and flaws of the other person. It puts us into a position where we have to choose if we will actually love the other person. What often happens is that people, no longer experiencing romantic love (we’ve fallen out of love, they say) and faced with the reality that they have to choose whether or not to love this other flawed person decide to jump ship to find romantic love under the illusion that next time it will last. Love is hard, for many reasons, but this, not romantic love, is the essence of marriage as Tim Keller writes in the third chapter of The Meaning of Marriage.

In the sixth chapter, Embracing the Other, Kathy Keller writes about the differences between the sexes. This is one of the things that makes marriage so satisfying and so frustrating. I’m guessing they decided to have Kathy write the chapter so it would sound softer as she communicates the reality of complementarianism in the Scriptures. She distinguishes that from traditionalism. She teaches the biblical truth, but reminds us that how past generations fleshed it out is not how we have to flesh it out. She makes some good points.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


I’ve written a book on marriage. I can’t seem to get it published, but I wrote one. The last few years have seen some excellent books on marriage published. I currently have a “trinity” of marriage books. My “go to” books are Intimate Allies, When Sinners Say “I Do” and What Did You Expect?. They all focus on different things and do that very well. Recently a church planter asked me what I used. I try to draw from all of these depending on the needs of the couple.

But I may need to employ the new math if I want to keep a trinity of marriage books. You know, the kind where Winston had to say, believably, that 2+2=5 or have a rat chew off his nose (this trick was used in The Salton Sea except it wasn’t a rat, and it wasn’t his nose).

Or I can shift from a “trinity” to a pantheon of marriage books. That is because I am reading Tim and Kathy Keller’s new book, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.  I’m only one and half chapters into it, but what I’ve read thus far is so good that my “trinity” is obliterated.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


I first read Desiring God in the late 1980’s after hearing about it from someone I knew. I was a young Christian at the time. Like Knowing God, it would be one of the books to lay the foundation for my life as a Christian.  But not all books hold up over time. So I am reviewing the revised edition from the perspective of an older Christian who has read this book a few times. Does it hold up? Why should I bother with a revised edition? Those are the questions I come to the book with.

Does it hold up? Classic books stand the test of time. There are books that are very popular when they are released, but 10 or 20 years later people won’t point to them as significant long term. This is a book people still talk about. This book is chock-full of good theology. Piper not only defends his assertions regarding Christian Hedonism, but he lays out lots of good theology. In other words, his theological distinctive (you can actually see similar teaching in Calvin, Burroughs, Owen and other Reformed pastors, not just Edwards) does not exist in a vacuum.  Piper has to work through the sovereignty of God, the character of God and the nature of salvation. I think I used more ink in my new copy than in my old one.

People often misunderstand his position based on the name. But the point is that a Christian Hedonist seeks their pleasure in God, one of the many things were are commanded to do in Scripture. Piper shows how Scripture not only teaches but feeds Christian Hedonism. He unpacks the doctrine to see how it plays out in marriage, money, missions and more. One subject that is missing would be work (perhaps in the 30th anniversary edition). This is a very practical theology book, but one that is rooted in theology.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Like many people getting ready to be married, CavWife and I read The Five Love Languages.  It has become a cottage industry for Gary Chapman.  It highlighted a very important truth that all married people need to understand: you perceive and show love differently!

In his book Seeing With New Eyes, David Powlison reveals some of the serious shortcomings of the rest of the book, particularly the concept of love tanks.  I’m surprised I didn’t blog on this book.  Since I’m not currently at home, I can’t refer to the book.

But this morning I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller on marriage that I think interacted with the concept in a significant way.  He did this in terms of “leaving and cleaving.”  I found myself thinking about my own marriage while listening to him (yes, that was the point, wasn’t it?).

In his wife’s family of origin, her father was very involved in family life and chores.  He helped out around the house, changed diapers etc.  This was how he loved his wife.  And this was what Tim’s wife thought a husband does to love his wife.

In Tim’s family of origin, his mother did everything in the house.  He father was not involved in changing diapers, vacuuming the carpet, folding clothes etc.  This was how she loved him.  She recognized he worked long and hard outside of the home.  This was not “her duty” but her delight out of love.

What do you think happened when Tim had his first child?  Their very different experiences rose to the service.  His expectation to have her change the baby’s diapers was heard by her as “he doesn’t love me.”  Her refusal to step in and remove that from him was heard by him as “she doesn’t love me.”  Okay- this is not (NOT) about roles.  This is about how we give & receive love.  Which one of them was to “submit” and change how they give and receive love?  Their views, oddly enough, we polar opposites.  So either one of them caves, or they find a new way.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Last night CavWife and I, along with other friends in ministry and their wives, were invited to a screening of the soon to be release movie (9/30) Courageous.  This is the latest movie to come out of Sherwood Baptist Church.  They started with Facing the Giants, then Fireproof.  The quality of production improved, as has the Hendricks brothers ability.  The first deal with committing one’s life to Christ, the second addressed marriage.  And this new one addresses the issue of parenting, particularly fatherhood.

They write what they know, small town Georgia.  This movie starts off with excitement as some gang members try to carjack a car at the gas station.  The man, so we are lead to believe, over-reacts.  But he has good cause, as you’ll discover.  The actor was also in Fireproof.  They tend to build relationships with the actors, so they brought him back for the role of Nathan.  Nathan is the new man on the police force, and a committed family man.

Alex Hendrick, who co-wrote and produced it with his brother, directs and returns as its main character, Adam.  He’s a police officer who is worn out by the time he comes home.  He doesn’t seem to have time for his kids.  He’s often self-conscious, pulling back from fully engaging with them.  Their partners are a single man, and a divorced man.  We never see their fathers, though we hear about some of them.  These men were largely raised without fathers, and they are just coming to grips with the gaps in their lives through the choices they’ve made.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Some time back I did a rather brief review of Paul Tripp’s new book on marriage, What Did You Expect?”  As I mentioned there, I think this is one of the best books on marriage.  Tripp goes beneath the surface of marriage (and this is applicable to ANY relationship).

In the DVD, taken from a conference, is similar but not identical to the book.  In the DVD, he focuses on the big picture of marriage.  And that heart of a marriage is determined by worship.  What you worship will determine the quality of your marriage, and other relationships.  The more you worship someone or something instead of God, you will be in conflict because you don’t have the same desires and priorities.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


For the most part, women just aren’t into pornography (I think this is a great thing).  In recent years the use of pornography among women has increased, sadly.  But I haven’t seen evidence that it has quite the same addictive quality for women as for men.

For years, I’ve considered the romance novel the equivalent of pornography for women.  Some women collect them like some men can collect magazines and DVDs.  I’ve noticed a similar effect taking place.  Men end up having unrealistic expectations for their wives’ appearance.  They inevitably compare them to the women they viewed in magazines, movies or on-line.  In a similar fashion, women begin to compare their men to the men in the books.  They have expectations of behavior- romance- rather than how well put together he is.

You mention this, and people think you’re a little strange.  It is just a book (which, oddly, is similar to what men who enjoy pornography say).  But thanks to some researchers at Boston University (Go, Terriers!), perhaps I’m not as strange as you thought I was.  Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam (I have no idea how to pronounce their names) put their findings in A Billion Wicked Thoughts.

Like pornography, romance stories (they can be movies!) typically follow a pattern.  The rough-edged alpha male finally succumbs to the wiles of the heroine, becoming slightly domesticated.  He often rescues her, but they live happily ever after.  Like pornography, there is no sequel.  There is no loving through the thick and thin.  There is just the idealized moment, in one case sexual and the other romantic.  Both stop well short of real relationship with a real person with weaknesses, character flaws, signs of aging and gas.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


In June I’ll heading to a screening for Courageous.  It was produced by the makers of Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  I’d seen the former, but hadn’t the latter.  So, CavWife and I took a break between seasons of House to get it from Netflix.  After sitting around the house for a week since we had an unusually hectic schedule, we enjoyed an unusually quiet Sunday afternoon to watch it together.

Stepping up the Quality with Kirk

Overall, the Kendricks are getting better at making movies.  Alex only had a cameo as a pastor this time around instead of being the star.  That bill was filled by Kirk Cameron.  Don’t think this was a big budget affair however.  In the credits you can see that much of the catering was donated.  Watching the movie you’ll also be surprised to find that a firehouse of 5 guys is able to man 2 large trucks.  They do a surprisingly good job with the amount of money they have at their disposal.  While still following a formula, it was not as simplistic as Facing the Giants.  Nothing was resolved quite so easily and it didn’t create the false impression that if you come to Jesus everything works out just dandy in short order.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Being in the early chapters of Genesis, I’m covering the topic of marriage as instituted by God.  One of the things that stands out to me is that marriage is a means (so to speak) of mission.  As a metaphor of Christ’s relationship with His people, we see the reality of mission.  Jesus has a goal for his people- he redeems them and makes them holy.

In Genesis 2 we see it was not good for the man to be alone.  Why?  It is not just about companionship.  He can’t fulfill God’s mission alone.  All the other biblical  reasons for marriage are tied together with mission.  Apart from mission, they become self-serving.

Apart from mission, companionship becomes idolatry.  It is ingrown.  And once you get bored … you look for a new companion.

Apart from mission, sex becomes self-centered, and idolatrous.  Once the sex stops, or gets boring (which is what happens when it is just about sex), you look for a new sexual partner.

Apart from mission, having children is selfish.  It is more about your need to have kids, and have them “succeed” than it is about raising kids to build the kingdom.

Apart from mission, financial stability also becomes idolatrous.  If someone can no longer provide for you, you look for another money maker.

Here are some very good books that I recommend about marriage.

  • When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey.  This is one of my favorite books because it is so humbling.  Harvey keeps the gospel central in marriage.  This is important because every marriage includes 2 sinners.  Most of our problems in marriage are really rooted in our sinfulness.  Communication skills, while helpful, don’t get to the root of the problem.  I requires the application of the gospel.
  • Intimate Allies by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.  There is so much to appreciate about this book.  I’m not wild about the discussion about “mutual submission”.  That seems to depart from the biblical emphasis in Ephesians 5.  But I love their emphasis on enhancing the other’s dignity and restraining their dignity.  THAT is a clearly biblical emphasis when looking at marriage. They broke this down into  the Intimate Marriage series available on DVD, workbooks and leader’s guide.
  • Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.  The subtitle says it all, what if God wants to make us holy more than to make us happy.  He’s focusing on part of Paul’s discussion of marriage in Ephesians 5.
  • Redeeming Marriage by Douglas Wilson.  I read this when I appreciated Doug Wilson more than I do now.  But this is still a good book.  It is short and to the point.
  • What Did You Expect?  Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp.  I haven’t read or watched this, but I want to.  I find great benefit in nearly everything he writes.  The DVD was released first, and then it was released in book form.
  • Another book I have yet to read, but hope to is John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage: a Parable of Permanence.  I wish I had read it in preparation for my work on Genesis 2 & Ephesians 5.

I know there are some other good books.  But these are the ones the Cavman recommends.  They will help you develop a biblical understanding of  marriage.  May the Spirit work to make us an accurate picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Read Full Post »


I’m currently working my way through Genesis 2 for Sunday.  In his Epistles, Paul bases male headship in marriage & the church (aka complementarianism) in creation.  But there is more going on than that.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, complementarianism teaches that men and women are equal in dignity but different in role or function in the home and the church.  This, sadly, is a relatively unpopular position.  But this shouldn’t surprise us since much of what the Bible teaches us offends the flesh.

Genesis 1 is the starting point with regard to our equal dignity.  “God created man (humanity) in his image; male and female he created them.”  Men and women are both made in God’s image, sharing in dignity.  Most people can accept the equal part (aside from those rejecting the notion we are made in God’s image).  The equality is not an issue.  This fundamental equality is also in view in Galatians with regard to salvation- “in Christ there is neither male nor female.”  He lists some other statuses that separate people.  The idea is that neither is more worthy of salvation than the other.  Neither has an advantage when it comes to Christ.  It does not mean that all distinctions disappear such that they cease to be men and women.

In Genesis 2-3 we see the following things which point us toward there being a complementary difference between men and women which includes male headship.

Adam Eve NT Parallel Text(s)
Created first X 1 Corinthians 11:8; 1 Timothy 2:13
Given the initial command X
Created for the other X 1 Corinthians 11:9
Sinned first X 1 Timothy 2:14
Whose sin condemned humanity? X Romans 5:12ff
Addressed 1st by God after sinning X
Cursed for “obeying/listening to” the other X

We see that though they are equal, God held Adam accountable for obeying Eve.  He addressed Adam first because Adam was humanity’s representative.  Paul uses this to explain how all of humanity fell into sin, and how people are saved through the 2nd Adam, Jesus.

We see that Adam needed help to fulfill the Creation Mandate (Gen. 1).  He gave Adam a wife instead of a pet.  He gave Adam an equal to complement him, to do the things he could not do alone.  While both men and women share the Creation Mandate (to fill, subdue and rule the earth) they emphasize different roles.

Both are needed to fill, but women (generally speaking) are more nurturing.  Moms stay home far more often than men because they are physically and emotional better suited for it.  Yes, they subdue and rule at home and outside the home.  Men are better suited physically and emotionally for subduing and ruling than filling.  Yes, men have parental responsibilities too.  But staying at home with children would drive me crazy far quicker than it does CavWife.  Struggling at work takes are greater toll on a man than struggling at relationships.  The opposite is true for women.  This is part of how we balance each other out.

One key passage is from Ephesians 5.  There we find that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Marriage mirrors the gospel.  Husbands reflect Christ and wives reflect the Church.  Husbands lead- sacrificially!  Wives submit to their own husbands (not men in general) as the Church submits to Christ.  There is no role reversal.

This is a mystery, Paul says.  That means it is only something that we know because it has been revealed to us.  Marriage, including covenant headship, is was originally designed to be a picture of the gospel.  It was not societal construct for Paul, and certainly not oppressive.  It was a picture of the liberating, restorative gospel.

Covenant headship is not some out-moded way of thinking.  It is a biblical way of thinking, and a gospel-centered way of thinking.  Christian feminism and egalitarianism undermine the gospel by taking away God-given boundaries and roles.  In 1 Timothy 1:8-11 reveals the relationship between sound doctrine and sound living.  Sound (healthy) doctrine conforms to the gospel and produces healthy living.  Unsound doctrine departs from or distorts the gospel and leads to unsound living (sin).  When our marriages and churches no longer portray part of the gospel through male headship, the gospel is distorted and unsound living is the inevitable result.

As a result, complementarianism is not a non-essential doctrine.  It is a gospel-doctrine.  It should be believed and defended as rooted in creation and redemption that we might better understand the relationship between Christ and the Church which the gospel creates.

Read Full Post »


For Biblical Lay Ministry

One (all?) of the community groups here at Desert Springs is going through Paul Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change.  I guess that is one of the reasons I see this congregation as a great fit for me.  I’d have recommended this material, and they are already studying it.

It is a book I read during my transition period.  I posted some thoughts on it.  I decided to bring it home with me last night to review.  Yes, most of my books are now out of boxes.  When you go back to something you can often wonder why you liked it in the first place.  But this is one of those times you are reminded just how thoughtful and profound a book is.  Paul Tripp is one of those guys more Christians need to read.  That he has been a serious student of Scripture for a long time is evident as you read his books.  In the opening chapters I (re)discovered material suitable for my sermon Sunday and my upcoming series on Genesis.  You can read the first chapter here.

Here are some thoughts from the first few chapters, and the preface.

“For most of us, church is merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to.  We do not see it as a calling that shapes our entire lives.”

This is a great summary of what good pastors want to tell their people, often.  We are shaped by the ministry of the Word, both public and private or personal.  It is not enough to show up- but to engage with the Word by believing it and acting upon it.  One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is its call to do just that.  He has a very Word-centered view of ministry, for it is there that we meet with the Living Word- Jesus Himself.

“The King came not to make our agenda possible, but to draw us into something more amazing, glorious, and wonderful than we could ever imagine. “

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Now that the date of my exam is set, what better way to celebrate than post some more of my study notes.  Today we’re covering the chapters on the Civil Magistrate and Marriage.

Chapter XXIII: Of The Civil Magistrate

222. From whom does the civil magistrate derive his authority?  God.

223. What is the purpose which the civil magistrate is called to serve?  To defend and encourage the good and punish evil (Rom. 13).

224.What is meant by separation of church and state? The state is not to determine what the church must believe or how it may worship, nor appoint its officers. The church does have a prophetic message for the government, but only where the Word of God is clear.  It is not to dictate policy to the civil magistrate beyond this prophetic message and the power of the vote.

225.What are the implications of your view for the following:

War (just war / women combat)  Governments have a responsibility to defend the helpless against aggressive, greedy nations.  Women in combat is not a hot button issue for me.  Women have been killed in combat, and killed others in combat for thousands of years.  I am distressed at the loss of femininity that accompanies the practice, but I’m not sure the church should be dictating policy to the civil magistrate.

Political involvement – Christians are to be good citizens and use godly wisdom in voting for representatives.  Christians can and should run for office.  Christians should be concerned about a variety of issues, and need not vote only for other Christians.

Patriotism in worship – worship is to honor and worship God.  You can thank God for the many privileges we enjoy in a particular nation, but since our primary citizenship is in heaven I find patriotism in worship inappropriate, particularly since we are ‘idol factories’ and often make idols of our nationality.

226. Under what circumstances is it right for a Christian to disobey the civil authorities?  It is right to disobey the civil authorities when they either prohibit the Christian from obeying God or try to force him to break God’s law.  We are to do so in humility, and willing to suffer the consequences even as we declare how unjust the government is in the matter.

Chapter XXIV: Of Marriage and Divorce

227. Demonstrate from Scripture that marriage is a divine institution. Marriage is instituted in Genesis 2 that humankind may fulfill the Creation Mandate given to us.  In Ephesians 5 we see that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Jesus also affirms the divine institution of marriage in his teaching on marriage and divorce (Mt. 19).

228. Why is marriage not a sacrament?  It is not a sign and seal of our salvation, nor does it convey grace. It is not commanded of all Christians, which a sacrament is.

229. Should a Christian and an unbeliever marry? Should a Christian marry a Papist?  No, we are to marry in the Lord lest we be led astray to worship idols.

230. What are the legitimate reasons for divorce? Adultery (Mt. 5, 19) and abandonment (1 Cor. 7)

231. Under what conditions may the divorced remarry?  They may remarry if they were divorced for legitimate reasons, and may only be equally yoked.  If a person converts to Christianity after an illegitimate divorce (and their spouse has remarried) they may remarry.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »