Big or Little?

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http://serhanvardarli.deviantart.com/art/father-and-daughter-136495150

I can remember one of our children asking me, “Dad, am I big or little?” Well of course it was adorable coming from a three-year old, but it’s a good question to ask of ourselves even as “big” people. The implication here from my daughter at the time, was that she wanted to grow up. It’s funny how when you are little you want to be “big”, but as you grow older you don’t want to be little, but you’d like to be younger.

This morning I’ve been thinking about moral littleness and the role this plays in the life of a Christian. In this scope our desire should be littleness, and not bigness, if that makes any sense. Let’s look at the words of the Apostle Paul and see if this sheds any light on the topic.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

Paul speaking to the saints at Ephesus and speaking to the saints today is imploring us to walk worthy of our calling. The big question in this brief statement is “have you been called?” What does it mean to be called? The first three chapters of Ephesians tell us what it means, but let’s look quickly at Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.

It’s really important to note that it’s by the will of God.   Would anybody doubt that Paul was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ Himself? It’s pretty obvious, that this is the case. Paul will go on to tell us that all saints have also been called out by the will of God, and here is where it’s more difficult for the sinful human heart to accept. We really don’t care much for the Sovereignty of God in Divine election. It just doesn’t feel good and therefore we would rather reject it.

This letter was written to the church in Ephesus, but we can see it was also written to the faithful in Christ Jesus. The faithful (pistos) those that believe in Christ, those that exhibit a life change by their belief, not just a mental ascent or a verbal affirmation.

If you are one of these, then you have been called and if you’ve been called you have a responsibility. You must now walk worthy of the calling and this all begins with an understanding of your moral littleness; a desire to be small.

David understood this.

…And cleanse me from my sin…

For I acknowledge my transgressions…

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity…

Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities…

Create in me a clean heart, O God…

Restore me to the joy of Your salvation…

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51

Our calling must begin with an understanding of our relationship to God before salvation; an understanding of our wretchedness, our inability to please God in ourselves and our need for Christ. This is the whole point of Jesus coming to this earth.

I need Jesus.

You need Jesus.

Why…because we are little. We have nothing to offer Him accept our wretched selves.

“God resists the proud,

                But gives grace to the

                     humble.” – Proverbs 3:34

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 2 Peter 5:6-7

Evidence of your calling is a view of your moral littleness and a desire to resist sin. You will then walk worthy of this calling by living and desiring to live a holy life that is pleasing to God. This shows the world that you are a new creation, a new birth has occurred.

It will be a radical change that causes people to take notice. Most of them won’t like the change. If you begin to walk worthy it will mean exposing darkness and calling others to repentance. It will upset apple carts and destroy worldviews that were so dominant in our lives before. Yet there is no greater purpose than to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure heart, to bring Him glory, to proclaim His name, to submit to His Lordship, this is a walk that is worthy and there is no greater joy.

 

Kevin

I have a headache…

distance

For those that are Christians and for those that profess Christianity this is a difficult topic but it’s a topic that affects us all. Let’s look to the Word of God as our source text to examine our lives and hold it up to the microscope of the Scriptures so we may honor God in His institution of marriage.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This discussion begins with God’s design for marriage and married life. It’s really pretty simple. God designed marriage with three primary practical functions and a fourth function which is to mirror the relationship between Christ and the Church; I will not explore the relationship between Christ and the Church in this article, but we will briefly examine the other three purposes.

The first function of marriage is procreation. Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Being fruitful and multiplying beyond two is not very popular today, especially if you get a boy and a girl. In an extreme case if you have two of the same variety, then it’s acceptable to try for the other, but it’s not generally accepted beyond three in our modern society. Has God changed His mind on this subject?  To the contrary, just because pragmatism and worldly thinking has invaded the church does not mean God has not clearly spoken. Be fruitful and multiply… I once heard someone say “if God is going to give you a blessing, why would you refuse it?”

The second function of marriage is companionship. Genesis 1:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Wives, God designed you to be a helper to your husband. He should be setting the vision for the family and your role is to help him achieve his vision and carry it out, another unpopular view for marriage in today’s world but no less truthful than it was in the beginning. Wives this should be a joyful opportunity to live out your God given role as a wife and helper.

The third function is sexual union for enjoyment and prevention of immorality. Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

God made them male and female, they fit together, this is obvious, and this is obviously why and how God designed it. God also designed men and women to think differently. It was perfect in the beginning and then sin entered the picture and the whole perfect design was distorted, polluted and infected with sin.

This is what we have today, and that sin has causes struggles and issues inside of God’s design. We clearly see it all around us that sexuality is distorted. We have distortions in all kinds of sexual perversions and deviations. But this was not God’s plan for any of the three reasons above and if you call yourself a Believer you are to live a life that brings glory to God and look different than the rest of the world. Your marriage should reflect Christ and the Church, it should procreate, help, and enjoy.

1 Corinthians 7 gives us a much more microscopic view of the topic of sexual intimacy that is to occur within a marriage. Within this are some sub-categories of the purpose of marriage. It draws husband and wife closer to one another. It’s designed to be a preventative against sexual immorality. And most importantly it teaches us to deny ourselves. When we don’t always “feel” like it, what an opportunity to seek the good of your spouse.

1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband.

Wives this is a big reason God has ordained intimacy in a marriage. Men are just plain wired differently than you and when you, as a helper, can complete him in this area you have assisted him greatly. Not only are you fulfilling God’s commands but you are also helping to keep him from sin. Have you ever considered it that way? You can be the gate-keeper or the one holding the gate open. This does not relieve your husband of his responsibility to control himself, but you play a big role.

1 Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due to her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

At this point things begin to be challenging, so let’s look at this verse carefully. The word render means to give away, to perform, to give (again), to deliver (again), it means it’s not a one-time deal, but to be consistently giving away. Husbands it’s your responsibility to give your wife affection consistently. Affection can mean to grab her hand during the day, or touch her shoulder, communicate with her, but at its root is conjugal.

yoo’-noy-ah – kindness; euphemistically conjugal duty: – benevolence, good will. Husbands you are to render to your wife sexual intimacy.

1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Try selling this one in today’s society. You will be laughed out of town if you stood on a street corner preaching this verse. Can this really be what Paul meant? No wonder his teaching is so hated and avoided by most “churches”. This means what it says. It’s so plain and obvious, and so rejected by most, even those that call themselves Christians. I understand the unbelieving world will scoff at this verse, I understand it will be rejected by them, but if you are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb are you going to reject clear biblical teachings? This is a big question and one we must answer. God will hold husbands and wives accountable to this standard.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control.

Quoting from the MacArthur study bible on this verse: the word deprive, Lit. “stop depriving each other!” This command may indicate that this kind of deprivation was going on among believers, perhaps reacting to the gross sexual sins of their past and wanting to leave all that behind.”

In order to bring glory to God, His word tells us the marriage bed is undefiled, yet it’s often treated and understood as something dirty and defiled. We all have past sins that either Christ has forgiven you of or He hasn’t; if He hasn’t then repent and be forgiven.

Be saved!

If He has forgiven you then live like it. Live in His grace and live in His design for marriage. Enjoy what the Lord has offered as a blessing and be grateful for His gifts.

Song of Songs 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—For your love is better than wine.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Kevin

 

Fertile Ground

IMG_6931We’ve lived in our home for nearly twenty years now and the one thing I’ve learned is that we don’t always get projects done around our house quickly. Not that we don’t have the best intentions, it’s just that life takes over and the things we’d like to do get put on the back burner.

The west facing wall of our home has been one of those non-priority projects that has take a bit of time to accomplish. We remodeled our basement to create some new rooms a couple years ago to accommodate our growing family and we put in some egress windows. These make the bedrooms legal so we can have two ways of escape in the event of a fire. This requires digging out the ground around the basement wall, cutting holes in the wall and then putting in windows and window wells which keep the dirt back.

We’ve wanted to plant something along this side of the house for years, and we finally, and when I say “we”, I mean Jen and the girls. Okay, mostly Jen, but the girls assisted with the little ones while she was planting them.

We took great care in selecting our new plants and our desire is for them to grow and flourish in the place we picked to plant them. What will determines success depends on many things. We must do our part in order for there to be a chance of success, but we can’t guarantee it, only give them care and nurturing and then trust what we’ve done will be enough.

Do you see the similarity to the gospel and the planting of God’s Word into the hearts of those around you?

I’m primarily thinking of my children in this analogy, but it certainly applies to all we come into contact, and I’m always hopeful someone that reads this will consider themselves and those around them.

In order to increase our “odds” I must take some steps.

Good Soil

We must plant our plants in good soil. Iowa has a lot of clay and around our home is no exception. It’s so hard and sticky, when we dug the holes it was a big job just to keep the shovel on the back hoe clean. It’s very hard soil and it won’t grow plants well without adding top soil and fertilizer.

Matthew 13:8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

If we want to yield a crop, we must plant in good ground. Jesus tells us in the parable of the soils, not all the seed will fall on good ground, so it’s crystal clear that not everyone will receive the word. But if it’s up to us, we must spread good seed (The Word of God), and it must land on good soil. This is not soil that we have prepared, its soil that God has prepared, it’s God that opens hearts to receive His word.

…but we must prepare hearts to receive the word through teaching and proclaiming properly. In the case of my children I prepare their hearts by cultivating it with the Word of God. As a practical example this means sitting with them and opening the Bible, reading it and teaching from it.

This is my responsibility as a father to my children.

Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

If I don’t bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord, I’m provoking them to wrath. Fathers, you are provoking your children to wrath if you don’t bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Have you ever thought of it that way before? [1]

Prepare the soil to receive the good seed, by training and admonishing them, do it today and everyday you have opportunity. Don’t delay, because every day that soil can harden and become more like clay.

Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

It Needs Water

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

If the word is received on good ground and it appears to blossom for a while, that young plant will need watering through reading and study of God’s Word.

Do you know or are you a Christian that doesn’t read and study your Bible? Then you’re not a true Christian, or you are a rebellious one. Jesus tells us you will need this like plants need water to live.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Pull the Weeds

Weeds choke out and take over. If you don’t, fertilize, water and tend to the care of your lawn, or your garden you will have nothing but weeds. It’s true in this example and it’s true in the hearts of sinful man.

Matthew 13:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.

God’s Word is clear and so is the instruction for the Christian. If this doesn’t describe your life, I’d urge you to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Seek his righteousness first, and don’t put off the preparing of that soil.

Kevin

[1] Elder Nick Rolland sermon on Ephesians 6:4

What happened to Biblical Manhood?

I recently had a conversation with a man that is of a younger generation than I am.  He’s a nice guy and I know his wife and mother.  He and his wife just recently had a baby.  I asked him a couple questions about the baby and how it was going; he told me that he and his wife just recently went back to work.  They are school teachers.

He told me the baby is going to day care and my heart began to break as I considered how completely normal this is today.  I asked him if he had ever considered having his wife stay home with the baby?  He told me he didn’t think they could afford that.  Then he said; “well I know people used to be able to live on one income.”  Yes I said “it’s often a matter of your priorities.”

Then he transitioned into telling me that if they would ever go to one income he would probably be the one that would stay home.

Long pause by me…

“Well she just loves her job and I just couldn’t see her doing anything else”.  Soooooo…  I’m not sure I have time to handle that one I thought.  Hmmm…  “Yeah I know people do that these days.”  My brain was frozen, I just couldn’t think of anything else to say.

I’ve reflected on this conversation over the last week and I woke up the other night thinking about it.  What in the world has happened to manhood?  When did the wife working and the man taking care of the children become the new normal, and why?  Take a look around and see what society is doing to manliness.  The traditional roles have gone by the wayside for most, and if you dare start talking about patriarchy people think you’re a knuckle dragger.

As a father and a man that desires to live according to God’s word I must do my best to instill biblical truth into my household.  My 13 year old daughter Grace and I have been going through a book called WHAT HE MUST BE  …if he wants to marry my daughter by Voddie Baucham Jr.  We’ve spent a great deal of time pouring through the words and discussing the importance of what this means for her and her future husband.

Pastor Baucham beautifully leads us through the qualifications of being a man of God and Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  I’ve printed “Dads Copy” on mine as I believe I will go through this multiple times with all my daughters.  Here are just a couple excerpts from the book.

I believe God has spoken rather decisively in his Word about what our daughters should look for, Moreover, I believe there are some non-negotiables that our daughters must be looking for.  There are some things a man simply must be before he is qualified to assume the role of a Christian husband.  For instance, he must be a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14); he must be committed to biblical headship (Ephesians 5:23ff.); he must welcome children (Psalm 127:3-5); he must be a suitable priest (Joshua 24:15), prophet (Ephesians 6:4), protector (Nehemiah 4:13-14), and provider (1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 2:5).  A man who does not possess – or at least show strong signs of – these and other basic characteristics does not meet the basic job description laid down for husbands in the Bible. 

Moreover, as a father, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter what these requirements are, encourage her not to settle for less, and walk with her through the process of evaluating potential suitors.  Of course these ideas may come as a shock to many in contemporary Christian circles (not to mention society at large) Page 16-17

Does this sound like most young men that you know these days?  I honestly can’t think of any outside of my church that would even consider thinking like this, although I know there are some.  I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to have Godly men that desire to teach younger men how to be men.  Not a man that is willing to have his wife go to work for him, but a man that takes responsibility to labor and toil to provide for his family.

However, little thought is given to preparing our sons to be husbands.  Thus, they meander through life without the skills or mind-set necessary to play this most important role….

That was me.

As a result, we have families led by men who haven’t the foggiest idea what their role is or how to carry it out.  We have wives who were created with a God-given need to be led by godly men, a curse from the days in the garden that puts them at odds with this arrangement, and a cultural mandate to fight against male headship.  Top this off with children who long for the security that can only be found in clear roles and boundaries in the home, and the result is a frustrated family mired in dysfunction.  Sound familiar? Page 43

It’s no wonder that most people want to turn their kids over to a daycare.  They have no idea how to raise them.  Everybody that gets married seems to want kids but as married couples they don’t understand how to relate to each other and they certainly don’t know how to relate to the kids.  I say this from experience.  I was that guy.

Believers and non-believers alike stumble through parenting doing their best but that won’t change a generation back to God’s plan for the family.  What do we do to change this?  I can only give my personal testimony of the peace and joy that we have experienced since we’ve begun embracing the biblical model of family.  Not to perfection by any means but as we draw near to God He draws near to us.

Here are a couple suggestions.

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Be a mentor.  Older men you should mentor younger men and boys.  You should always be mentoring someone and be mentored by someone.

Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.

Be Biblical.  We must use God’s word to change hearts and minds.  God is very clear in how to instruct the next generation.

James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Learn from others.  Find someone that can teach you.  If not in your church challenge the pastor and elders to lead in this area.  Voddie Baucham and Paul Washer are two excellent resources on biblical manhood and womanhood and are readily available through a Google search.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.

Dedicate yourself to this endeavor.  Don’t read these words and forget about them after you close this web page.  If you have children Deuteronomy 6 applies to you.

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

I hope I have an opportunity to talk with this man again someday.  I hope I can tell him there is a better way.  I hope Gods church can shine light in a dark place, there’s a lot more at stake than meets the eye.

Kevin