This upcoming sermon series by John Piper looks interesting.
My heart was leaping in agreement and at the same time I was cut to the quick when I began reading Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Meg and I are going to be studying this sermon methodically and I am even considering teaching a Wed PM class using the good doctor’s book as a help. He writes:
It is obviously important that we should approach this Book in the right manner. We must start by agreeing that merely to read the Bible is not enough in and of itself. It is possible for us to read the Bible in such a mechanical manner that we derive no benefit from doing so. That is why I think we have to be careful with every kind of rule and regulation int he matter of discipline in the spiritual life. It is a good thing to read the Bible daily, but it can be quite profitless if we merely do so for the sake of being able to say we read the Bible daily. I am a great advocate of schemes of Bible reading, but we have to be careful that in our use of such schemes we are not content just to read the portion for the day and then quit to rush off without thought and meditation. That can be quite profitless. Our approach to the Bible is something which is of vital importance.
These words are really a microscope into my heart. Too often in my daily time in the Word this is exactly what I do. Oh for grace to not merely read but to listen.
On of my favorite C.J. Mahaney sermons, Cravings and Conflict, has now been turned into an article for our benefit. It would be worth your time to see his Gospel-centered counsel when it comes to facing conflicts head on.
Last night when I was flipping through the channels I saw the horrific sight of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi. My thought immediately went out to John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist and Desiring God Ministries. As I recalled and Piper confirmed in his blog last night, the bridge is within sight of their church building. Piper posted a blog writing how he began to work through this devastating event with his family. Evidently, their family devotions last night came from Luke 13:1-5 which says:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Piper as always with cross-centered focus communicated the following:
All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.
The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.
I urge you to read his post, but also to pray for their church as they minister and for those touched by this devastation, that they would bow their knee before Almighty God and kiss the Son…
I was thinking today about posting for Marriage Monday on the role of the wife, but before I do that (maybe next week), I came across this great post by Tony Reinke over at Shepherd’s Scrapbook on what Christ wishes every husband knew about marriage. I would commend the whole post, but here is what really stuck out to me:
The profound nature of the Cross relates to the husband because true leadership in the home is illustrated by the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for His Bride. Nothing of Christ’s was spared in His love for the Church. Christ willingly laid down His comforts, His glory and emptied Himself of all that He was rightfully entitled to save an undeserving and sinful Bride. This He accomplished on the Cross! He released all claims of His reputation, became a bondservant, and humbled Himself in the pursuit of obedience (Phil. 2:5-11).
Christ is no tyrant and no pushover. The same Christ returning to destroy sin with the sharp edge of a sword is the same Christ who washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:5). He came to serve His Bride, not expecting to be served like a lazy husband watching TV with the expectation that his “submitting” wife will cater to the enhancement of his surroundings. Think of this: If the Groom came only to assert his authority and enjoy the fruits of His submitting Bride, we would have no Cross, no Atoning Blood, no forgiveness of sin, no wrath appeased, and we would be hopelessly lost forever.
In the profound mystery of the Cross, true spiritual leadership is emulated. The Cross calls me to serve my wife in way that has no limits on personal comforts sacrificed, calls me to initiate service, and find new ways to care for her spiritual health. I am to care for her as I care for myself.
The stakes are very high. Wives and mothers do not clock out. Their duties can last all waking hours and are on-call through the night. In the past month I have seen the devastating effects of wives who believe that everything in the home rests on their shoulders and to rely on the husband domestically is a sign of failure. Rather, an overburdened wife is an under-led wife and reflects more poorly on the man than the woman. When we as husbands take our eyes off the Cross, we will fail as leaders and our wives will suffer the heavy consequences.
Husbands, are you convicted of your leadership failures like I am? I would encourage you to look at the Cross where we are saved from God’s wrath. We may be poor leaders, but we are justified in Christ and our leadership failures do not impact God’s pleasure in us. Christ achieved the full ransom price for our sinfulness. We can look back with conviction but never should the Christian husband look back at failures with condemnation. The same Cross that emulates leadership is the same Cross that covers our leadership failures.
These are helpful words for us as the ever present indwelling sin rears its ugly head in our lives as Christian men. Husbands, let’s strive for this kind of loving leadership, pursued with cross-centered intensity.
It has been such a long time since I have regularly blogged. I just finished up a tremendous stretch of busyness. After Meg and I went to New Attitude, I had a 2 week break before we staffed a camp at Windermere for Student Life. Then I had 2 weeks off before our church’s Vacation Bible School, then a week off and we took our students to Student Life Camp in Oklahoma. So things have been hopping. Sorry for all the crazyness. I hope to return to regular now that my life is in some ways regular. Thanks for your patience.
Kenneth Maresco, a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, recently preached an excellent sermon on Fellowship from 1 John 1. This sermon totally gripped my heart. I felt as if I needed to listen to it time and again and take very detailed notes. The application is gripping and compelling. What a picture of fellowship there is in these words. May the Holy Spirit use it in your life as well.
For today’s Marriage Monday, here are some excellent questions/practical tips from Stuart Scott’s Exemplary Husband on leading and loving your wife.
What Are You Portraying?
“Husband, are you portraying Christ’s demonstration of love and leadership to the Church? Or do you perhaps see yourself in one or more of the following roles?
• A king lording it over his vassals—dictating and waiting to be served.
• A hireling over sheep—leaving when the going gets tough and not willing to sacrifice.
• A tolerant roommate—making no commitment, ignoring sin and doing his own thing—just basically sharing expenses and a roof.
• A business partner—splitting and doing everything 50/50, with equal benefits and equal say.
• An irresponsible steward or drifter—leaving responsibilities undone, letting others take care of your responsibilities, or just going with the flow with no purpose or direction.
• A preoccupied worker—staying too busy and distracted to fulfill marital responsibilities (lack of involvement).
• A patrolling supplier—provides sustenance, room, clothes, etc., and offers a level of protection over his interests, but is not personally involved.”
Ways You Can Show Love To Your Wife“We must put off any ideas that love is unnecessary, a sign of weakness, or a feminine characteristic. Clearly, increasing in love for our wives must be a major pursuit. The exemplary husband’s wife will never accuse him of not loving her because the message will be loud and clear.
“Every husband should think about and investigate specific ways he can show love to his wife. Below is a list of basic ways we can show love to our wives. It is up to each of us to make application to our own marriages.
To Love Your Wife:
• Prefer her over yourself.
• Show interest in her interests.
• Encourage her with words of appreciation.
• Brighten her day with an unexpected card, note, flowers, or gift.
• Spend time with her having fun (what she enjoys).
• Spend time listening with interest to her concerns while showing compassion, giving her encouragement from God’s Word, and helping her find a solution; all in that order (trust me!).
• Help her when she looks as if she needs it (don’t wait to be asked!).
• Do chivalrous things to let her know how special she is to you (open doors, wipe off benches before she sits down, pull out chairs, etc.).
• Show her non-sexual affection.
• Seek to please and satisfy her during sexual intimacy.
• Confront her sin in love, pray with her about it and encourage change.
• Pray with her and lead her spiritually (Read Scripture with her). See to it that she is serving and using her spiritual gifts within the church.”
For today’s Marriage Monday segment, I am busy this week preparing for our HomeWord worship service this Friday night. Last time we introduced roles and then tonight, we are going to launch into the role of the man. It seems to me that more and more in our culture, we are seeing an increase in the feminization of men. This summer at a youth camp we attended, I spoke to a single college-aged woman who was simply wanting men to be men and take the lead. This is certainly true in marriage.
All men, I think, find it easy to drift into passivity. We don’t have a plan. We don’t have goals that we want to accomplish when it comes to our marriages and families. When we do get time with our wives away from the children, we are asking her what her thoughts are and in doing so, in some cases, surrending the leadership to which we have been called. Rather than walking into these times with our wives in loving leadership, we walk in blind asking them to set the spiritual direction and goals for our relationship. We must recover Biblical manhood. This is like Piper called, “torching a glacier.” This isn’t easy. It takes hard work to be a godly man.
I remember studying “A Godly Man’s Picture” with some men a few years ago. We were looking at characteristics like faithfulness, lover of the church, basic piety stuff. They both told me they weren’t interested in the study any longer because and I am quoting here, “IT WASN’T PRACTICAL.” Here we were dealing with the core component of what it meant to be a godly man (relationship with God) and it wasn’t practical. With all of this onslaught, our greatest need as men, then, is to simply be the disciples we have been called to be. Jesus has called us first and foremost to follow Him. We should follow Him, then. We shouldn’t put up excuses as to why our children, wives and family is not godly. That is our responsibility and it falls to us to lead in word and example. So this is my call to men. Are you ready to be the man God has called you to be. Let’s quit playing games and step into obedience as followers of Christ. Let’s glorify Him by being obedient to His Word — especially those parts that speak of our loving leadership. May the result be that families are reformed for the glory of God…