Since I am working on a series on Mondays on conflict, I would highly recommend you give a listen to C.J.’s sermon “Cravings and Conflict.” It is available as free audio now on the Sovereign Grace Website.
Last Monday, we began a short series on conflict and today and I want to point you to the reality of the Gospel. In his book The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges speaks of reconciliation like this:
When Jesus satisfied the justice of God and propitiated the wrath of God, He did all that was required to remove the enmity of God toward us. By His death He bridged the vast gulf of divine alienation between us and objectively restored us to a position of friendship and favor with God. But again we must keep in mind that it was God, the offended party, who sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:10, “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”
As we are mindful in conflict of the Gospel, we can press on through any difficulty with the example of our Lord.
Imagine a little child running to the house once afternoon and saying to his mom, “Mommy, I am hungry…I want a candy bar, a can of soda, and a bowl of ice cream.” Now pretend that you respond, “I’ll make you a peanut butter sandwich with some apple slices on the side.” There’s a good possibility that your child won’t run over to his neighbor friend’s house and say, “You won’t believe what a good Mom I have…I asked for unhealthy treats and she responded by giving me things that were much better.” Probably the more likely scenario is that the child would immediately protest to his mother, “I don’t want peanut butter…I want candy…why can’t I have candy?” At this moment your child doesn’t think of you as the definition of parental goodness!
Being confident of the goodness of the Lord shouldn’t be confused with an assumption that because God is good, he’ll give me the things that I’ve set my heart on. In his grace, God is freeing you from the small confines of your little definition of what’s good so that you can experience the huge and satisfying good that he’s planned for you. Grace welcomes me to experience what is eternally right, true and good. Grace invites me to good that I could never have imagined, deserved, or earned.
Let your heart leap today toward your good God.
“The greatest sin that was ever committed in the history of the world… was planned by God, namely the death of His Son.”
This was the concluding comment by John Piper during a recent time at Wheaton. He preached a sermon entitled “Treasuring Christ and the Call to Suffer” Part 3.
For today’s Marriage Monday segment, I am going to begin a brief series on conflict. We all face it. Conflict exists in most any authentic relationship we have. This is especially highlighted when it comes to marriage. James 4:1 asks: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” This is such a revealing thing. Conflict begins in the heart of people. It doesn’t come because someone did something to us. We are not helpless victims. For instance, if you say, I have a problem with that person because of what they did to me. What you are probably admitting is that you have a selfish desire to save face. Pride is at work in you to protect your own honor, therefore, you are going to have conflict with this person because of what they’ve done.
Not all conflict is bad. For instance, when you have been sinned against, it is a great opportunity to rehearse the Gospel and all that God has done for you in Christ. When we are the instigators and sin agaist someone, it is a reminder that we are in need of forgiveness just as God in Christ has forgiven us. Conflict is no small matter.
This is especially true in marriage. We need to be loving by being patient, kind, tenderhearted, forgiving. We need to be longsuffering. We need to be aware of how our own sinful hearts are at work to create conflict. As we begin to understand our own hearts, conflict will be squelched in way that distinctly brings glory to God.
(more to come on this next week…)
You might be wondering why the posts have been so sporadic… Well, last week, I was given the privelage of a holiday on Monday (like most of our country celebrating Labor Day). Then on Wednesday and Thursday, I headed to STL with a couple of friends of mine to catch a Cardinal game. We had great tickets. I almost caught a Pujols batting practice homer. It was a great time. On Friday and Saturday I was in and out of the office just catching up on necessities for yesterday. I come to office this Monday morning refreshed from the trip, eager to work, and excited about a great week with our church’s Missions Festival happening this weekend. So that is the news here. Thanks for your patience and willingness to continue to check things out.
Justin Taylor reminded me this week of an excellent quote from C.J.’s Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God. In the post Transitioning Your Soul in Your Commute Home From Work, he quotes C.J. as saying,
When our first two children were still quite young, I realized that my commute home in the evening was functioning as little more than a review of my day. As far as I was concerned, by the time I got in that car, my responsibilities were pretty much over until the next morning. I saw my home as a refuge, a place where the emphasis, for me, was on being served rather than on leading and serving with Christlike love.
In God’s mercy, he showed me the selfish motivation I was bringing home each evening. I saw that my commute could be best utilized as a time of transition, so that I might be prepared to finish the day by loving and serving my family well.
So I made a practice of pulling the car over a few blocks from home so I could take a couple of minutes to make an effective transition in my soul. There on the side of the road, I meditated on Ephesians 5 as well as on some other passages. I confessed to God my sinful tendency to be selfish and sought to prepare my heart to serve my wife and children when I arrived home. In this way I learned to see my home as the context where I have my greatest privilege and opportunity to serve. This practice had a transforming effect, allowing me to walk through the front door with the mind and heart of a loving servant-leader. By God’s grace, I found it an excellent help in building a loving marriage, enjoying my family, and minimizing regret.
As those touched by grace, then, I encourage all of the men to seize our drive time home as a way to prepare our hearts to serve our families. This will not only cause us to have marriages that glorify God, but will demonstrate the kind of love to our wives that Christ had for the church.
Bob Kauflin has some helpful (and FREE!) MP3’s listed for worship people to use. I am just finishing up Watch Your Sunday Meeting, a free talk Josh Harris and Bob did on planning Sunday morning worship services and Josh’s words on creativity vs. intentionality were a breath of fresh air in the stuffy church growth inoculated evangelism in which we live. I highly recommend these resources.