Posts belonging to Category Home Life



How deep does it go?

That’s a question many people ask.  What must we do to fix the problem?  Some die-hard, evangelical Republicans say start by voting for Mitt.  Some work for doing whatever is necessary to go back to the “good old days” of 1950’s (we forget the Korean war conflict and that the highest tax bracket was 91%).   Some want to go back even earlier.  But you can’t go back.  The remnants of Christian culture we inherited are quickly dissipating.  It would be like trying to rebuild ancient Rome with what little rubble we have left from that period; it can’t be done.  Our problems go deeper than the symptoms (homosexual “marriage,” abortion, obscenity, etc.).  We are a fallen people.

Which brings us back to the question, what is to be done? Since the problem can’t be fixed naturally, the only answer is supernatural.  This is where are recent blog post from Doug Wilson comes in.  In it he spoke about how deep in the soup we are.

“We live in a time when the charismatics need the Spirit, the Reformed need a reformation, and the evangelicals need to be born again. We do not need particular doctrines about the Spirit in the abstract. If we are given the Spirit of reformation, we will get the doctrines we need. We will of course need doctrine that arises from the Scriptures in order to help us understand what the Spirit just did for us. But if the Spirit didn’t actually do anything, then our systematic theologies are nothing but printed kits for organizing smoke. If the Spirit didn’t do anything, then any religious frenzies, conducted under an unauthorized use of His auspices, have all the religious authority of a priest of Baal cutting himself with a knife at a Stones concert.”

Apart from God, it’s going to get really ugly, really fast.  We’re almost to the point that we can’t rely on anyone else but God to save us; what a place in which to be.

“In short, we need the Spirit to be poured out upon us. And when God is pleased to make this hap (more…)

Why isn’t it cheaper?

Have you ever wondered why the cost of modern medicine is so expensive?  Rich Bledsoe has  pretty good explanation of why in a recent blog post.  He maintains that the price is because doctors started raising their prices because they were charging insurance companies rather than patients.  And the people started going to the doctor for non-essentials because the trips were now “free” (through the employee health insurance plan).

I know some may think it’s too simplistic, but there’s a lot to be said for simple explanations that actually explain the problem, as compared to simple explanations that gloss over the problems.  Toward the end of the article he makes a great point about why health care should less, not more, expensive.

Books for parents – 2

A second book that I’ve greatly benefited from as a growing parent is Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  It builds on the same foundation as Voddie Baucham’s Family Driven Faith, but goes further in describing what parents are up against as they strive to train up their children in the way they should go.

It is broken up into two sections: foundations for childrearing and shepherding through the stages of childhood.  Each section contains multiple chapters.  The first section was to me the most important.  Whereas Baucham explains the importance of training your children in the ways of the Lord, Tripp explores what it means to shepherd a child.  It doesn’t start with the methods but in developing a God-saturated focus in parenting rather than selfish focus (and the latter is not as easy to distinguish as you might think).  This section contains chapters on developing a godly orientation in your child, discussion of parental authority, developing godly goals for parenting, biblical communication, and discipline.  Overall this section helps parents develop a godly view of their task and requires investigation of one’s heart and motives for doing what we do as parents. (more…)

Walking free from bitterness

What must we do in order to walk free from bitterness?  It isn’t impossible, but it does require that we submit ourselves to God.

Open yourself up to God’s conviction – Psalm 139:23-24

  • You must be willing to open yourself up to God.  It is not easy, but give Him access to every area.
  • Rest assured He will bring your sin to your mind.

Confess your bitterness to God – I John 1:9

  • It is sin to hold it in.  It’s not enough to talk about what that person has done.  You must give submit it to Him.
  • You probably have given this area to Satan for a while and it will not be easy to let it go.
  • When you think of something that someone has done to hurt you, confess it to the Lord.  You may have to do this over and over again, but submit it to Him until there is no pain associated with that memory.
  • Other memories will come to mind as well, and confess those also.

Don’t justify yourself or your anger – Matt. 18:21

  • We can think that it’s okay for us to be angry because what that person did was wrong, but Jesus said to forgive.
  • We want a reason to hold on to our hurt because we think it gives us control, but it doesn’t.  Instead it gives control to Satan.
  • We think we can protect ourselves by not forgiving but only God can truly protect us.
  • Our devotions, our prayer life, our relationships, and our worship will not be what it should be unless we confess it as sin instead of justifying it.

Forgive that person – Matthew 18:32-35

  • Our flesh again creeps here.  What we call forgiveness and what God calls forgiveness are two different things.
  • We think forgiveness is speaking the words and not demonstrating anger toward that person anymore.  We still hold onto a little bit and justify it by saying, “I’ve forgiven but I can’t forget.”
  • I challenge you to find that in Scripture.  Forgiveness means not holding something to someone’s account any longer.
  • I realize it may not be possible to immediately forget, but if you can still remember the exact thing over a period of time, you haven’t forgiven.

Confront the person if they have sinned against you – Matthew 18:15-17

  • At this point we must be careful.  First of all, our confrontation must be from a forgiving heart.
  • If you confront that person with bitterness in your heart, you will be rejected.
  • Your heart must be free from anger and bitterness.
  • Secondly, you must pre-determine what trespass has been committed.  Jesus said if your brother commit a trespass against you that you should confront him.
  • A trespass is a point at which someone has acted contrary to God’s law.  You can only confront someone about an actual sin.  In other words, you must have God’s word to show where he has sinned.
  • Many hurts are not actual trespasses but miscommunication, harsh looks, and things like that.
  • You are not allowed to hold personality conflict against someone, because love should cover it.

How do you know if you are free from bitterness? – I Corinthians 13:4-7

  • You are able to be patient without keeping a record of that person’s hurt.
  • You are glad when that person is blessed.
  • You can walk in joy toward that person.
  • You don’t get upset when remembering hurt.
  • You aren’t suspicious toward him.

Ebook on bitterness

Some have asked about Jim Wilson’s book on bitterness.  You can buy it here, and can find the free PDF version here.

The sin of bitterness

This morning we are going to take a detour from our series on the practical application of doctrine, although dealing with sin is one of the most practical applications we can make of doctrine.

What would you think if I were to tell you that I know the thing that is keeping us from being one of the most Spirit-filled churches in the area?  What if I told you that we could turn this city upside down, as the early church did in Thessalonica?  What if we had to have a new building because there were so many people joining and we had so many regular visitors?  Does this even sound real to you?  For most, probably not, but that’s because there is sin in our camp.  Just as Achan’s sin prevented Israel from being victorious against their enemies, there is sin among us.  That sin is bitterness.

At this point the question comes to mind, “I wonder who he’s talking about?”  I will go ahead and say who I’m talking to.  I’m talking to you.  Don’t think about someone else, don’t wish someone else was here or hope that so and so will hear the sermon.  Pray that all of us, including you individually will hear it.

What is bitterness?  It is holding on to the memory of someone’s wrongdoing rather than submitting it to God.  (more…)

Family Driven Faith

The first book that Amanda and I read on childrearing was probably the most important, Family Driven Faith, by Voddie Baucham. Baucham is a Calvinistic Southern Baptist pastor who is leading the way in inter-generational worship and family discipleship. He is also an excellent apologist to boot.

This book lays the foundation for godly child-training. It is an overview of why and how to train your children in righteousness. (more…)

A word about parenting books

As my wife and I are in the process of raising our two small children, we know there’s a lot more we must learn about raising them. Most of our learning has (and will) come from experience. There’s only so much you can learn from a book. Even so there are several books that have been instrumental already in forming the foundation of our child-training, in addition to the ultimate book, God’s word.

Most of you either have children, will have children, or know someone who does. If you have children and don’t have a plan for how you will raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, you’re overdue to develop one. Books aren’t the final answer, but they are tools to help you in developing your plan.

If you want to have children in the future, you too need a plan and you have more time to develop it. These books will help you slowly gain the plan you need. I was reading these type of books when I was single and in my early twenties. However a note of warning: don’t judge others for not following what you’ve only read about. It’s a lot easier to know what should be done than actually doing it. When you see someone who isn’t following what you think should be done, pray that God will give you humility to be sympathetic to them as well as the grace to put the godly principles you’ve learned into practice.

The last category is those who know someone who is raising children. I’m thinking mostly of pastors and church leaders who want to offer good resources to the families in their churches. This could also be for those who want to give soon-to-be parents a gift that will help them in the future.

That being said, I must repeat something said earlier, and this is especially for parents. Reading books doesn’t replace reliance on God. You can read the Bible, and every great book on parenting there is and it will not make a difference if you think you can handle it on your own. The parents who provoke their children to wrath have usually read a lot of good parenting books. They sacrifice their children on the altar of abstract parenting principles and grace is nowhere to be found. Those parents end of boiling the kid in his mother’s milk, otherwise known as taking what God intended for good and making it something deadly. There is no replacement for trust in God, daily prayer for wisdom, humility, and reliance on His grace.

Now as to the books themselves…those will have to wait for another blog post.

Our fight to the death

I was informed recently of a (lesser known) evangelical who was accused of molesting a girl.  Rather than face the trouble associated with it, he committed suicide.  I’m not providing a link to the story because I don’t know all the facts, much less whether he is guilty or innocent.  By now you could probably name several famous Christians who’ve lost their ministries and their witness because of sexual sin.  Here it becomes too easy to bury our heads in the sand or get angry at how many professing Christians engage in such behavior, which brings me to the point of this post.  You and I are just as capable of major sin as those who have already fallen.

 

It would be easy for me to say, “I’m married with two children.  I wouldn’t do that.”  It would be easy for you to say how you’ve never been tempted to sin in such a way.  I hope we’re never tempted to engage in such sin.  But the first problem of those who’ve fallen is our problem as well:  we are lazy in our calling to war against sin.

Paul says clearly in Romans 8:13 that we are to “mortify the deeds of the body,” which translated into modern vernacular means, kill sin.  I pastor a church that has a strong emphasis on doctrine and for that I’m thankful.  It’s a shame when a church’s doctrinal beliefs have no backbone.  But that’s not enough.  I believe that we should display the Lordship of Christ over every area of life, but that’s not enough either.  We can become so focused on right doctrine or cultural engagement that we miss the starting point:  warring with sin.

 

We are in a daily battle that will not let up in this life.  We can never become too at ease, thinking that we have all the protections in place to keep us from sin.  I’m all for putting protection mechanisms in place, but the place where we need the greatest protection mechanism is where we can’t have it:  the human heart.  That’s the place Jesus said to cleanse.

So what should you do?

  • Don’t rest confident in your ability to withstand temptation; your ability to remain steadfast during trials is too weak a foundation on which to rely.
  • Be on the lookout for temptation.  It’s there and will come your way so be ready for it.
  • Gird the loins of your mind.  This is where the temptation starts so fill your heart with good things and exercise it when temptation comes.
  • When you fall into sin, even if it’s small in your mind, confess it to God and to a trusted Christian friend and repent.   Run into the arms of your Savior because He is the only one who can give you rest.  He’s provided you with fellow saints who are called to hold you up and we are called to confess to one another (James 5:16).  Don’t hide it thinking it will get better.

Your sin affects your life, the lives of your family, and the lives of the people in your church.  As you study doctrine, minister to your family and neighbors, and engage with the culture, never let up in your battle against sin.

Discerning Literature

This is an unedited version of a talk I gave Wednesday night about how we should discern literature. 

As we heard Sunday, there has always been a lot of literature available, whether we’re talking about fiction or non-fiction.  Solomon said of making of books there is no end, and this was before the printing press.  There is much more available today than ever before.  As believers striving to grow in wisdom, we can’t ignore books and information.  The call of this verse, understood in the light of the call to wisdom throughout the passage, is for us to be selective about what we read.

What you read will affect you.  If it’s engaging you will meditate on it; if it’s not you will probably put it down.  Everything we read reflects wisdom of some sort, God’s, man’s, or a combination of the two.  You can’t withdraw from fiction and pursue news articles.  They are just as permeated with either God’s wisdom or the world’s.  Tonight I want us to gain an understanding of how to evaluate literature, both fiction and non-fiction so that we might grow in maturity.

Before we go any further, we must understand that there are standards of glory in literature as with anything else.  Some say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which translated means, “What I like is my business and who are you to say it’s not good ?”  God told instrumentalists to play skillfully; He gave Bezeleel the spirit of wisdom to perform metal work for the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:2-3).  In this God is establishing that He has standards of beauty, standards that He expects us to learn.

Non-fiction

  • Most of the time these are news articles, editorials, history, cultural criticism, etc.  When we hear or read them, we should consider several things.  The first of which is:

What perspective is the author bringing in this article?

  • No one can be neutral in reporting; there is always a perspective.  If we give our random approval to everything we read as news, we are choosing willful ignorance.  Prov. 18:17
  • Application:  we should hear all the matter before we decide.  It’s impossible to hear every perspective, but don’t make your choices about something because you read one article or one book. (more…)