Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I don’t think I could cut it as an Old Testament prophet. I’ve eaten too much McDonald’s.
Read this from 1 Peter 1:10-12:
“…the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ was indicated when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have not been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look”.
These prophets saw the gospel. They knew that a Rescuer was coming that would suffer and then be brought to glory. They didn’t see it fully but they saw it. And they wanted to know when. 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Nope. A future generation that they will never see.
That’s why I say I couldn’t hack it. I’d have questioned my calling. My abilities as a prophet. My message. Everything.
A Prophets Death Story…
When I picture prophets I picture guys with long beards, dressed up dead camel, and eating weird food. And in my minds eye I see them preaching—hard. Sweat rolling off their brows as they call people to repent. Tears streaming down their face urging fellow Israelites to return to Yahweh and find refuge in Him alone.
And I picture people ignoring him. But only for a season. Eventually, towards the end of his life, he gets to tell an amazing story to his grandkids. He tells them about the time he told everybody what was going to happen but nobody listened to him. Then it happened. And everybody realized he was correct and now they’ve got a book with all of his writings in them. He’s a difference maker and he dies knowing it.
In reality he probably just died without an “I told you so”. Because the story was still not finished when he breathed his last. People were still rejecting his message and running from Yahweh. The Deliverer had not yet come. And the world went on mostly as it did before—but now with a dead prophet.
But he did die in hope. And that’s probably the story that he told his grandkids. Not of a completed mission but of a Rescuer that was still to come. One that would set all things right. As his eyes closed for the last time they died in hope that he’d be delivered into the hands of this Rescuer that he’d been waiting for. And someday…someday…people would get it…they’d see this suffering Servant and be included in His glory.
Comes to Life
He never saw that day when some 2500 years later a young man in rural Missouri bowed a knee to this suffering Servant. He never saw his life changed and transformed—him captivated by words long written down by this dead prophet. Words that somehow—miraculously—spoke the Living Word. And words that this young man would one day preach. Yes, he too would preach in the hope that someday, someone, somewhere, would get it, and they too would bow a knee to the Rescuer.
Maybe as a preacher of the risen Christ I’m not so different from the camel-clothed prophet that proclaimed the coming Rescuer. So may I preach and teach and lead in the same hope and humility that maybe the good news I preach will serve a generation that I’ll never see.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Day Twenty-One: That she would be self-controlled
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. –Psalm 43:5
In this Psalm, David is talking to his soul. He is not letting his weary soul dictate his worship. He is exercising self-control. Brothers, our wives need this self-control. They must talk to their emotions instead of letting their emotions talk to them. They need to have the Spirit-driven self-control to say no to the crafty serpent. Let us pray today that our wives would exercise self-control.
Lord, I thank you for a new heart. The only way that any of us can exercise self-control is because of your work. We know that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Father, I pray today that my wife would have self-control. Make her a woman that talks to her soul, with biblical truth, rather than the other way around. Give her the grace to hear your voice and to heed it. Help her to tell her emotions “no” when they run out of their proper banks. May she be so deeply anchored in You and Your Word that she exercises self-control. In Jesus name, Amen.
I’ve written in the past about my dislike of Facebook. I still don’t like Facebook…no I loathe Facebook. And yet this post will appear on Facebook. It will be read by people on Facebook. And I’ll still be a sucker in Mr. Zuckerberg’s world.
Here is why I haven’t left. There are a few advantages for me as a pastor/writer that cannot be found elsewhere:
- It’s great for blogging. I get several hits per day from people reading and sharing my articles on Facebook. I’m grateful for that.
- It helps pastors see people as they really are. People have a tendency to be a little more unfiltered on Facebook. Not that a pastor wants to be a creeper but your news feed can tell you some of the things that your members are struggling with.
- It’s a great resource for making announcements. People pay more attention to Facebook than they do that 5 minutes at the end of service when we share announcements.
- It can lead to decent discussion. People sometimes feel more free to ask questions and engage. Though Facebook can be a terrible place to discuss theology—for some it’s helpful to be able to think and type out your thoughts.
- It’s great for things like the 31 Day Prayer Challenge. Pastors and writers can create groups of people all around the world for things like this. It really is a great tool for networking that can be used for Kingdom growth.
- A great way to publicly encourage. Tons of people read through Facebook updates. How awesome would it be if we used this tool to encourage people and share their accomplishments.
Here is why I would really like to leave and continue to detest Facebook:
- It’s a passive/aggressive Dreamworld. With one somewhat vague status update I can have a world of people come to my defense, ask me questions, give me attention, and better than anything else stick it to the person that has made me mad.
- Facebook venting. Same thing as above only more obvious. (See here).
- A poor excuse for pastoring. Knowing what is going on in people’s lives through Facebook, leaving comments, writing messages etc., is not pastoring. This can make it feel like you’re doing your job—but it doesn’t replace the face to face. Or putting your hand on their shoulder as you pray for them.
- Circumvents real relationship. Facebook is a mock community. You can’t hug on Facebook. You can’t cry on another persons shoulder. God created us for community—and not so much the online variety.
- Three earlier reasons are still around. I posted awhile back 3 reasons why I’m seldom on Facebook. These are still true. Too many bikini’s, too many silly pictures telling me that I don’t love Jesus if I don’t forward it, and far too much time wasted.
How about you? Why do you love/loathe Facebook?
Should we continue to use it for its benefits? How can we minimize the damage? Does your church do anything to disciple people in how to display Christ on social media?
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Day Twenty: That she would know her calling is high
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. –Proverbs 31:10
As a stay at home mom, my wife can struggle with feelings of insignificance. Changing diapers, settling arguments, teaching colors and numbers, and playing with children does not seem like that significant of a role. The same probably goes for your wife no matter where the Lord has placed her. Brothers, our wives will struggle with knowing that their calling as a woman (and all the roles that encompasses) is a high calling. Ultimately we know that her significance is found in Jesus Christ alone. Yet we also want our wives to know that their calling is high.
Father, I thank you for my wife. I thank you for all of the significant things that she does that might appear to be insignificant. She is far more precious than jewels. Help her to ultimately find her worth and significance in you. But also help her to know that her calling as a woman is a high calling. May she be found faithful in the roles that you entrust to her. Strengthen her and encourage her to be the woman that you have crafted her to be. Amen.
A couple weeks ago this happened near my hometown:
Eventually they found the mystery priest (aptly named Father Dowling):
There is one statement from Dowling’s interview that I want to address today; namely, his claim to have been given the power to absolve this young lady of her sins.
Where does such power come from?
How in the world is a priest given the power to absolve sin? I thought only Jesus could forgive sins. Do you get bitten by a radioactive spider? Do you put on a black shirt and a collar, and declare yourself a sin-forgiver? Does this belief actually come from the Bible?
If you ask a Roman Catholic priest he will say that the power to absolve sin was given to the apostles (and their successors) in John 20:23. Here we read Jesus saying,
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The Catholic prayer of absolution is based on this passage. A Catholic priest does not believe that he, in and of himself, has the power to forgive sins. It is a power that has been granted to him as a priest. He is a representative of the forgiven Christ. Christ alone forgives sin. But as he now reigns from heaven he does so through His Spirit working through His servants (priests).
Therefore, when a priest declares you forgiven you are indeed forgiven. You can have certainty because Christ has given His power (through the sacrament of penance) to His representatives.
A Protestant Response
I am not convinced by the Catholic interpretation of John 20:23. In order to accept this interpretation one would also have to accept the doctrine of apostolic succession. Because I believe in the priesthood of all believers I would have to say that the power to absolve sin (or to withhold forgiveness) was in the power of every believer, and that is not something that I find in the Scriptures.
Secondly, there is an assumption behind such a prayer. That assumption is that our sins are not all forgiven upon the moment of justification. Catholic doctrine denies that at the moment of conversion we are forgiven all sins: past, present, and future. This seems to me to deny our union with Christ. When Christ “canceled the record of debt” that stood against believers our sins were future. And yet they are forgiven. This because of our union with Christ—all that He has accomplished is given to us. Therefore, you and I do not need a priest to do for us what Christ has already done.
Which leads me to ask where is faith? Where is the gospel? Nowhere in Acts do I see the apostles doing anything similar to the Catholic practice of absolution of sins. They are not praying over people and saying, “your sins are forgiven”. They are doing the same thing that Jesus did—proclaiming the coming kingdom and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Upon reception of the gospel through faith then you might read something about declaring people forgiven.
Therefore, the rest of the Scriptures cause me to be unable to accept the Catholic interpretation of John 20:23.
So what is John 20:23 saying?
As I go about answering that question I want to be careful not to read the practice of absolution (either pro or con) into the text. This text really speaks to our union with Christ. It is here that we (the Bride of Christ) are empowered. It’s not mechanical, it’s not removed from the person of Christ or the work of the Spirit.
It’s not as if we go about proclaiming forgiveness apart from faith in the risen Christ. No, this is proclaiming the risen Christ. And when someone comes to know Christ the church through baptism and membership declares (not mechanically) that “their sins are forgiven”.
You can see the difference in the way that a Protestant and a Catholic discuss the Scriptures. You ask, “How do you know that the gospel of Mark is Scripture?”
Catholic: The Gospel of Mark is Scripture because the Church has declared it so.
Protestant: The Gospel of Mark is Scripture, therefore the Church declared it so.
There is a world of difference between the two.
Now to our question at hand. How do you I know that my sins are forgiven?
Catholic: My sin is forgiven because the Church has declared it so.
Protestant: My sin is forgiven, therefore the Church has declared it so.
I believe this is backed up by the past tense of “they are forgiven” and “it is withheld”. Those are past action with continuing results. Jesus is not telling us here to go about forgiving sins or to withhold forgiveness. Jesus is commissioning us to go and proclaim the gospel and to do so with the confidence that He is with us, working through us, and still shepherding His church from heaven.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…run to him.
Monday, August 19, 2013
“That was terrible. I totally blew that sermon. Nobody was paying attention. Heck, I almost fell asleep..and I was the one preaching.”
There I was wailing and moaning and discouraged by a sermon that didn’t go the way that I thought it should have.
Then my sweet wife lovingly rebuked me. I don’t think she meant to really rebuke me, but she did. She quietly said, “Mike, I wish you wouldn’t speak that way after a sermon. Because when you do it makes me not believe what you just preached. Nor do I think you really believe what you just said.”
She was right. I had probably been preaching on the sufficiency of Jesus, the benefits of the gospel, the power of the risen Christ, etc. etc. and I left the pulpit not believing a one of them—at least not applying them.
It’s not always that way. Sometimes I exit the pulpit floating on cloud nine. I know that I knocked it out of the park. Everything that I wanted to say, I said eloquently. No slip ups. I preached passionately. I did it the way that you are supposed to. (Minus the pride of course). Totally faithful to the text. Centered on Christ (except for that pride thing again).
For some reason fewer people seem to have been impacted—but it’s probably because they are just soaking up my awesome sermon.
Both of those episodes betray a heart of unbelief. A foolish heart of unbelief. And I could replace preaching with counseling, planning, living, leading, loving, and a host of other things and it would be the same. We pastors (we disciples) vacillate between moments of pride convinced of our awesomeness and moments of despair convinced of our complete unworthiness.
Enter the Pastor’s Justification
This is why a book like The Pastor’s Justification is so helpful. Jared Wilson is a good writer. One of the things that sets this book apart from the others is that Jared can just flat out write. But more than anything Wilson keeps the gospel front and center. That is important—no, that is vital.
It is vital because the same gospel that strengthens and encourages the discouraged pastor is the same gospel that rebukes and humbles the puffed up pastor. Both need the gospel. In both of these foolish responses we need the sufficient Christ to remind us of who we actually are—not awesome and not scum. We are His. The gospel brings the lofty low and exalts the humble—bringing both to the place of Christ.
Wilson writes as a pastor. This means that he is not afraid to speak in a prophetic voice, as when he speaks to younger pastors:
Young men, be teachable. You do not know everything. And your theology and your position are never licenses for authoritarianism. If you don’t want others to look down on your youth, don’t look down on their age.
Yet, Wilson also speaks with pastoral tenderness and encouragement. After listing a myriad of questions that bring to light our sinfulness, he writes this:
You and I both know that you have transgressed over and over and over again. And you’re going to stand before a holy God to be judged by these things, according to a stricter standard than all other because you are a pastor, and he will ask you to give an account. And looking back over the failures of your life and ministry, you will grasp at straws. What do you think he will say to you?
In this book Jared does what a good pastor does, he points to Jesus at every corner. He uses the glaring holiness of Jesus to expose our pride, sinfulness, and foolish ways that we pastor. And He uses the wide mercy of Christ to comfort weary pastors.
The Pastor’s Justification is a book that every pastor would do well to purchase. It has some of the same benefits as Paul Tripp’s, Dangerous Calling, and reads like Eswine’s Sensing Jesus. Those were two books that really benefited me in 2012. This book stands toe to toe with those immensely helpful books. But Jared’s writing has a tendency to stick in my brain and rattle around in my soul better than many other books on pastoral ministry.
You can buy it here. And you probably should.
Day Nineteen: That her husband would romance her
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. –Song of Solomon 4:9
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, -Proverbs 5:18
Brothers, we are to take delight in our wives. This is not to be a secret delight. Our wives should know without a doubt that they have captivated our hearts. As the Lord spoke tenderly to His bride in the wilderness (in spite of her actions) let us always speak tenderly to our wives. Let us romance them no matter our life circumstance. If your heart isn’t there pray that the Lord would renew in you a delight in the wife of your youth. If your heart is there give it full expression; romance her.
Lord, thank you for my wife. She truly has captivated my heart. Keep my heart from growing cold, stale, and merely satisfied. Stir in my heart deep affections for my wife. Help me to study her—to know her—and to know how I can communicate to her that she has captivated my heart. In every area where my heart is wayward towards her would you strengthen it? Cause my love for her to be as deep and settled as the elderly couple that knows one another so well. But also make it such a love that would shame the shallow expressions of teenagers. Help me to sweep her off her feet. Amen.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Day Eighteen: That she would be hospitable
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. -1 Peter 4:9
Our wives hospitality is a great reflection of her grasp of the gospel. Hospitality is a reminder of our alien status. A wife that does not practice hospitality is likely a wife that is comfortably living the American dream. She has started thinking that she is at home and therefore has lost her sojourner impulse. Let us pray today that our wife would have a missional heartbeat. And part of this missional heartbeat would be a drive to open up her home so that the gospel might flourish.
Lord, thank you for my wife’s hospitable heart. Increase it. Help her to consistently have a sojourner impulse and not lay her roots too deeply in this world. Give my wife a missional heartbeat that constantly thinks of ways to fulfill the Great Commission. May her heart be ultimately others-focused for the sake of your glory. Thank you for making your home among us. Might we live the life of Immanuel. Amen.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Day Seventeen: That her faith would increase
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" -Luke 17:5
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” –Mark 9:24
I am continually encouraged by the Puritan adage that “a weak faith can lay hold of a strong Christ”. It is interesting that in Luke 17:5 when the apostles ask for an increase in faith that Jesus points them back to faith’s object. The vivacity of faith is not nearly as important as the One that we place our trust upon. Even still the Scriptures would have us grow in our faith as unbelief dwindles before the Lord. Let us pray today that our wives would increase in their faith. That she would trust the Lord and believe that everything God does is ultimately for her good.
Lord, I thank you for being faithful. You are mighty and worthy of every ounce of our trust. I’m very grateful that a weak faith can lay hold of a strong Christ, because Lord there are times when my faith is weak. I know this same thing is true of my wife. Father, would you graciously increase her faith in you today. Blow her away with your goodness and love towards her. Help her to see you and her heart to leap in faith and joy. Lord, my wife believes, help her unbelief.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Day Sixteen: That she would be tender-hearted
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. -1 Peter 3:8
I remember early in my walk with Christ listening to a live Keith Green album. Before one of his songs Green prayed that his heart would have “baby skin all over it”. That is what I want to pray for our wives today. I want to pray that they (and we) would be tender hearted as the Scriptures command us to be. Let us not harden up our hearts to protect ourselves from the bitter world. Our wives are probably more naturally tender than us. Let’s fan that gift into a flame, men. Brothers, we need tender-hearted wives.
Father, I pray that you cause my wife’s heart to have “baby skin all over it”. Cause her to be tender hearted. Though the world may mock a sensitive heart, help her to know that it is very pleasing to you. May her heart be tender towards her church, her friends, her spouse, her children, herself, and more than anything may her heart be tender towards you. May the tender-heart of Jesus shine through the tender heart of my wife. Amen.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Day Fifteen: That she would be wise
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. –Proverbs 16:16
Our wives will make many decisions today. She needs wisdom to guide her. She will hear many messages today, many trying to subvert who she really is in Christ. She needs wisdom to guard her. Real wisdom comes from God and is found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is more valuable than any of the material possessions that our wives may be tempted to set their hearts towards today. Let us pray that as wisdom calls out that our wives would hear His voice. May she listen to the gracious words of Wisdom and not the serpentine words of a forked-tongued fool.
Lord, I pray today that my wife might be a woman that is characterized by wisdom. May she pursue it as she would pursue rubies, diamonds, gold, and silver. I know that you have already given her a great deal of wisdom. And I know that in Jesus Christ she has the storehouse of all wisdom and knowledge. May she draw from Him today. In moments of confusion help her to pause. Help her to look for you and to not lean on her own wisdom. I pray that she leans all of her weight on you and your wisdom. Amen.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Day Fourteen: That she would not be embarrassed of her femininity
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. –Genesis 1:27
Elisabeth Eliot wrote this 15 years ago, it is even more true today:
I find myself in the sometimes quite uncomfortable position of having to belabor the obvious, and hold up examples of femininity to women who almost feel apologetic for being feminine or being womanly. I would remind you that femininity is not a curse. It is not even a triviality. It is a gift, a divine gift, to be accepted with both hands, and to thank God for. Because remember, it was His idea… .
The world would have our wives believe their femininity is something to apologize for. It is not. Let us praise God for giving us the gift of femininity in our homes. Also let us pray that they might not be embarrassed by her femininity but “accept it with both hands” and glorify God through the gift of being female.
Lord, thank you for my wife’s femininity. Thank you for her tenderness and sensitivity. I’m glad that she is a woman—and I’m thankful for all that this means. I pray Lord that she delights in this sacred calling of bearing your image as a female. Help her to rejoice in this gift and not be embarrassed by her femininity. I must confess as a man I’m not even sure how to pray for her in this area. I simply pray that you help her be the woman that you call her to be. She is more precious than rubies—thank you for her feminine appeal. May she reflect your glory.
We need more articles like this.
I wish this was only a story about Benjamin Franklin.
I think of Desiring God and want to say, “no”. But I think of other free stuff and think that maybe it does. What do you think? In other news you can buy Torn to Heal today for only $59.99
This lengthy but a pretty solid response to the difficulty of the Amalekite Genocide.
This makes me want to laugh:
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Day Thirteen: That she would sever the root of bitterness
“Let all bitterness… be put away from you…” –Ephesians 4:31
There are a myriad of consequences that can lead to our wives becoming bitter. But at its root bitterness is a mark of rebellion instead of redemption. Therefore, all bitterness must be put away. “A spirit of antagonism and hostility” comes from a hardness of heart that finds its source in unbelief. A bitter heart is one that no longer delights in God’s salvation or trusts in His goodness. Our wives (and we) are not immune to a bitterness of heart. Let’s pray today that our wives would sever the root of bitterness.
Lord, thank you for redeeming my wife. Thank you that you “work all things together for her good”, which is ultimately conformity to Christ. Lord, at times redemption is painful. Life is tough. You seem distant. And yet you are working. Rescue my wife from bitterness that springs from unbelief. You have made her a Naomi (pleasant, agreeable, sweet) through the work of Jesus. Rescue her form the temptation to live as a Mara (bitter). Cause her to rejoice today in the joy of her salvation. Amen.
I’ve decided to ask a few people to write occasional articles for me to use at Borrowed Light. Today’s guest post comes from Brian Phillips. Brian lives in Granada, Spain with his wife and three kids. You can find him at www.briankassie.com or www.twitter.com/BrianPhillips31
Zack Eswine’s, Sensing Jesus, has been a blessing to me in a strange way. Although geared twoards pastors (which I am not), Eswine’s story and pastoral kindness are exactly the words I’ve needed to hear lately.
My family and I live overseas and we’re here to share the love of Jesus with people. Recently, we visited America to celebrate the wedding of my wife’s sister. While there many difficult things happened—the worst being the death of our unborn baby in miscarriage. We came back to Spain, where we live, feeling torn and empty. We’ve been imperfectly, but earnestly, turning to God our Father for help, healing, and comfort. Personally, in addition to grief, I’ve been fighting some troubling anxiety and racing thoughts in the last several weeks.
So, I recently cracked open Sensing Jesus, a Christmas present, which I expected to coach me into more apt ministry leadership and spiritual depth. Maybe it will do that; I still have the second half of the book to finish. But so far it’s simply healing my soul.
The greatest comfort for me has been in Eswine’s chapter entitled, Fix-It-All. Here he confronts our tendency to try to fix anything. In this chapter there is a section on psalm making. Here he uses David’s example to show how we can use the Psalms to turn to God in prayer, rather than our fleshly efforts “when the going gets tough and unfixable” (p. 111).
Here are the Psalms Eswine shares, followed by a little bit of personal commentary from me.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Protect me from those who rise up against me. . . .
Each evening they come back,
Howling like dogs
And prowling about the city. . . .
But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress,
And a refuge in the day of my distress. (Ps. 59:1, 6, 14, 16)
As anxiety and uncontrolled nightmares taunted me, I felt under attack and powerless. Some nights, I could only fall asleep by whispering, “Jesus, me near me,” over and over and over. And he was. Hope has been new each morning. Even when the things I could count on or control crumbled and proved unfixable, God stayed with me.
Have mercy on me, O God,
According to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant mercy
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin! (Ps. 51:1-2)
I know, as a Christian, that Jesus has taken all my punishment forever. There is none left for me. My wife and I didn’t lose this baby because God wanted to slap our wrists for a sin. But as the weeks went by and the wounds weren’t as raw, I began to ask God to show me where I wasn’t trusting him, where I was trying to be my own savior and god – and he shone the light on my anxiety and worry. Some of this is a natural physiological response to the unbelievable shock and stress from our trip, but some of it (I can now admit) was me, trusting in my own power, bucking against my inability to control and fix my broken life.
O Lord, all my longing is before you;
My sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
And the light of my eyes—it has also gone from me. . . .
But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
Like a mute man who does not open his mouth. . . .
But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
It is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. (Ps. 38:9-10, 13, 15)
This pain doesn’t have to end in my lifetime. We won’t ‘get over’ all the things that happened during those three weeks in America, as if that were a healthy goal anyway. But, the fear and the loneliness can go; God can take the numbness and the heightened stress with him.
We are children whose loving father knows all their fears and wounds, and he stays with us. He doesn’t just fix the mess as quickly or the way we might ask him to. Instead, he stays with us and slowly-- morning by morning-- he shares with us his peace and rest.
“Quantity does not equal quality.” It was hard for me to throw away my first book. But I haven’t missed them at all. Tim is right, we do ourselves no good by hoarding books.
My view is very similar.
This gives me hope. I collected baseball cards in a generation when they mass produced them. Thus they are worth little to nothing. Hopefully this encourages people to deface their cards so mine become rare again. So…this looks fun, give it a try. Everybody. And take your neighbors cards and do the same thing. Just don’t touch mine!
I appreciate the work of Darryl Dash here.
These are great tips to help you quit smoking (and hilarious):
Monday, August 12, 2013
Day Twelve: That her husband would pursue her holiness
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself”–Ephesians 5:25-28
Husbands, we are to find our joy in the joy of our wives. Men, we are foolish if we think that their greatest joy will be found in us. That would be to profoundly rip them off. No, our goal must be the same goal as Jesus; namely, that their joy is as deep and lasting as Psalm 16:11. Anything else is not a lofty enough goal. The miracle of Ephesians 5:28-32 is that as we nourish and cherish our wives in such a way that they find lasting satisfaction in Jesus we also find our own joy. Men, may our goal for our wives be as big as Jesus.
Father, stir in me a passion to pursue my wife’s holiness. Create in me a heart that is only satisfied when my wife find’s her deepest satisfaction in you. As a selfish husband I often make decisions concerning our family that benefits me. Change this. Help me to lead and love in such a way that my goal for my wife is her passion for Jesus. Thank you for providing everything we need for life and godliness through the work of Christ. May our marriage glorify You. Amen.
This week I will be spending time with my family in Branson, MO*.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Branson, and have since went on a couple of vacations there. There is beautiful scenery there and quiet and peace resorts. I’m looking forward to getting away and unplugging. It will look like I am online but for the most part I will not be.
One part of vacation that I am really looking forward to is sitting out on the porch in the morning and spending some time reading a few books that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. Here are 10 books that I am packing on vacation. (Not sure how many I will even open—but a guy can dream):
- The Pastor by Eugene Peterson
- A Lifting Up For the Downcast by William Bridge (hope to finish this one)
- INsourcing by Randy Pope
- Culture of Complaint by Robert Hughes (it’s an old one but intriguing)
- Test, train, affirm & send into ministry by Brian Croft (got it at T4G haven’t opened it)
- Growth Groups by Colin Marshall
- The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll
- Communion with God by John Owen
- Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray
- The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson (plan to finish this one)
*Yes, that Branson, MO--the place where dreams go to die. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But seriously, there is so much country music there I may not survive.
A welcome word in our celebrity-obsessed culture.
Consider doing this today.
At the end of the day I’m still going to disagree with Liam Goligher on baptism. But articles like this are very helpful to read and consider.
Interesting and gospel-informed.
This is interesting but thoroughly disturbing for people, like me, that have a weak stomach
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Day Eleven: That she would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing she would have life in His name.
“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” –John 20:31
Today let us dedicate ourselves to praying for our brothers that are married to an unbelieving spouse. If your wife is a believer, thank God for His rescue of your wife. If she is not a believer, plead for her today before the Lord that He would “cause the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ to shine in her heart” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Let’s beg of the Lord today to cause every man in this group to be married to a woman that believes in Jesus, is growing in Jesus, and find her life in His name.
Father, I thank you for salvation. I thank you that you have never given up on me and that you reached me in the darkest of places. There is no sin that is too powerful for your grace to overcome. Lord would you continue your work of rescuing my wife. Lord, save her to the uttermost and help to find her life in your name. Lord, I also pray for the other brothers in this group. Rescue their wives through the powerful work of Jesus. Would you call them out of darkness with your mighty hand? May this be a day of salvation. In Jesus name, Amen.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Day Ten: That she would not be anxious or fearful
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. –Proverbs 12:25
Our wives can be weighed down by anxiety and fear. In a fallen world there are many things to fear and become anxious about. And in the long run many of the things that we fear are a reality. We will die. Those that we love will get sick. If our wives want to be consumed by fear and worry they have plenty of fuel for the flames of anxiety. Yet in the midst of a fallen world God calls us to cast all our anxieties and fear upon Him. Let’s pray that our wives would trust in the Lord and not be overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.
Father, I know that there are many things that can cause my wife to be fearful or anxious. I know that we live in a fallen world. But I also know that we live in a world where evil, death, and all things in opposition to you, have been dealt a decisive death blow by our Lord Jesus. You are making all things new. Help my wife to trust in your redemption and not the temporary truths that fear and anxiety tell her. Rescue her from fear and anxiety. Amen.
Friday, August 9, 2013
I apologize that I am posting this so much later than normal.
Day Nine: That she would passionately love the Bride of Christ
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” –John 13:34-35
Let’s face it, the church can be messy. Our wives can get caught in the crossfire of petty church fights. She’s also not immune to being directly involved in them. As such our wife can grow bitter towards the bride of Christ. Over time her passion can dwindle and her love for the Bride of Jesus will grow cold. Brothers, the love our wives have for the bride of Christ is proportional to her love for the Lord. Let us pray that the Lord would cause our wives to “love one another deeply from the heart (1 Peter 1:22)”.
Father, I thank you that you have purchased a people for yourself. I thank you that you are redeeming people from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue. You are taking away hearts of sin and unbelief and replacing them with hearts of passionate worship. This is your church. And on the way to redemption we are messy. I pray that the messy of church might cause my wife’s heart to stir in deep love instead of bitterness. Sustain her with your love for her, and your love for the church. May she love your Bride the way that you love her, so that all may know your greatness. Amen.
So, this unchurched guy comes in my office and tells me that he has started reading the Bible. I’m excited but I almost know what he’s going to say next.
I pause and wait for him to articulate what I know is coming…
The silence is broken. And my assumption is correct. He has chosen to begin his study in Revelations. (It is of course mandatory that you call it Revelations instead of Revelation when you pick this as your first book).
And I sit and wonder why anyone would begin with arguably the most difficult book in the entire canon of Scripture to begin his study. I assume Hollywood, coupled with our fixation on the world blowing up, is largely to blame. Yet I wonder if there isn’t another, not so obvious reason, why folks choose difficult Old Testament passages or Revelation to begin their study. Perhaps a hidden Jesus is safer and more attractive.
Deal With Jesus Directly
So, I counseled this confused looking fella as I normally do. I told him to stop his reading in Revelation and take up the Gospel of Mark. That probably sounds like I’m saying that Mark is better than Revelation and that I’m encouraging people to be red-letter Christians only. Not the case.
Let’s be honest and confess that this dude is doing everything backwards anyways. It shouldn’t just be him and Jesus alone in a room with an open Bible. He needs the church. He needs to study God’s Word alongside of God’s people. That’s ideal.
But he’s likely to insist on continuing as a lone ranger; and this largely because He hasn’t yet been reconciled to God and henceforth other believers. So if he must study the Bible on his own I want him to deal with Jesus directly. Not through shadows. Not through allegory. Just the bare Jesus of the Gospels.
Let him deal with Christ and be haunted by the Nazarene. Let him figure out how Mary’s son can calm a raging sea with the word of His mouth. Cause him to be confronted with the screams of the crowd saying, “Crucify him”. And leave him with the centurion’s confession, “Truly this man was the Son of God”.
He must be confronted and transformed by this Jesus. Then maybe he’ll get his tail in church and gather with other believers where we can start working through the Old Testament and Revelation.
I really appreciated this post by David Murray.
I’m not sure that I buy this. But it’s interesting nonetheless.
Helpful compilation of books for pastor/elder development. My list would be similar.
This is for you grandma:
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Day Eight: That She would be blessed with a close friend(s)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! –Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
True friendship is a great blessing. Our wives need godly friendships. They need others ladies in their life that will lift them up when they fall and will be bold enough to “wound” if necessary (Proverbs 27:6). Today let’s pray for our wives to have a close friend (or friends) and that the Lord would use these friendships for his glory. Pray that he would protect their fellowship and use any relational difficulties to strengthen our wives. Let’s pray also for the close friends that our wives do have.
Lord, thank you for the friends that you have given to my wife. I pray Lord that you might cause these relationships to deepen even more. Help her to have a “friend who sticks closer than a brother”. I pray for my wife’s friends that you would bless them and keep them and enliven their passion for Jesus. I pray also that you would help my wife to be a great friend as well. May her friendships be used to further your kingdom in the world and in her heart. Amen.
I hope that when my children are older they hear voices. And I hope those voices proclaim the gospel to them.
My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. –Proverbs 6:20-22
This verse teaches us a very important principle; namely, our children will carry our teaching with them. Or at least they will have to actively deal with them at some point. Knowing that my children will carry around my voice (and their mother’s) with them for all the days of their life is a humbling truth.
I pray that when my children are out making decisions on their own that the voice they hear from us is grounded in the gospel. God has graciously given us parents, disciplers, pastors, etc. to give us another voice in our head that is not our own. We need that voice. And we need that voice to be saying the same thing as the voice of God.
As a daddy Proverbs 6 challenges me to continuously speak the gospel to my kids. It urges me to tell them who God is and what godliness looks like. When my children are older and faced with decisions that require wisdom I hope that they hear the voice of mom and dad saying something like, “What does God say”? And then I hope that they are equipped with knowing God’s Word.
Your children will hear voices when they grow up. We determine whether they will be biblical or not.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Day Seven: That she may be sober-minded
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. –1 Peter 5:8
Men, the battle for our wives affections must include the battle for her mind. Our wives are bombarded with information every day from a myriad of voices. These voices tell her who she is as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, and as a disciple. Many of these voices come from a forked-tongue. Without a sober-mind her head will be spinning, not knowing which message to believe. With a sober-mind even her prayers will be hindered (1 Peter 4:7). Therefore, let us pray that the Lord would remove the fog and help our wives to hear and heed the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Father, I thank you that you speak to us. I also thank you that your Word and your voice is powerful. Mountains melt like wax before you, and at the same time the sheep hear your tender voice. Speak to my wife, through the fog. Help her to hear your voice and know it. Quiet all of the other messengers that cloud her brain and keep her from being sober-minded. Ground her in your truth. May she grow in her ability to hear her faithful Shepherd. It is in his name that we pray, Amen.
I’m still not confident of how theologically true his statement was. All I know is that I believed him at the time and it wreaked havoc on me as a fairly new believer. He was a godly man that from all appearances had a godly marriage. I was a college student that had only been a believer for a couple of years and only hoped that someday I could be married to a godly woman.
“It’s not wrong to appreciate beauty. Don’t beat yourself up for ‘just noticing’. It’s that second look that is lust.”
I think I agree with him. And had he said that to me today, I doubt it would have damaged my soul as it did back then. But back then I wasn’t ready for such a “freedom”. I had only been saved a little while and that old habit of objectifying women had not yet been conquered; you could say that I was still haunted by the question.
So I took his advice. And as a hormonally charged sophomore in college I stopped fighting “the look”. I told myself that as long as I didn’t look for too long then it wasn’t a sin. I thought that I could still play the game of measuring women by physical appearance. As you can imagine this re-opened the gates to sin that I thought was conquered.
My brother’s freedom to not beat himself up for ‘just noticing’ had done serious damage to my heart. I was weak. I wasn’t ready for such a freedom. As theologically true as his counsel might have been—it was terrible. My experience was similar to what John Newton explained when he said:
And I have known and conversed with some who I fear have made shipwreck of their profession, who have dated their first decline from imitating others, whom they thought wiser and better than themselves, in such kind of compliances. (Newton On Christian Liberty)
That was me. Thankfully that was me. The Lord rescued me anew from that rebellious way of viewing the world. But it was a painful time that I still deeply regret.
The Freedom Not to Exercise
I’ll cut straight to the point: I’m afraid that my generation is going to kill ourselves and the generations to come because of our supposed freedom. I believe there are many things that we have the right to do because of the work of Christ. But there are many things that we should not exercise our right to do because of the work of Christ in also uniting us to weaker brothers and sisters.
I agree with my freedom-flaunting brothers (was that too harsh?) that we must be careful of legalism. Yes, there are unbiblical fetters that people attempt to put on one another. But I also believe, with Newton, that “when the mind is more enlightened, and we feel a liberty from many fetters we had imposed upon ourselves, we are in danger of verging too far towards the other extreme”.
May the Lord keep us from extremes. May He also cause us to be free to lovingly not exercise our freedoms for the sake of our brothers and sisters. It is my prayer that our generation, the ones before us, and the ones to come will have the wisdom to know when to exercise freedom and when to abstain.
May we be cautious with our freedoms.
I’m going to try all nine of these Sunday just to see if he’s right.
Interesting piece by Denny Burk reflecting on a NY Times piece.
What do you think?
We devote this night to Life Groups. So does that count as the death of Sunday evening worship?
I need to learn how to do this:
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Day Six: That she would find joy in the mundane
There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. –Ecclesiastes 6:1-2
It is a terrible evil to not be able to enjoy the good gifts that God has given to us. There are many things that our wives do every day that are tedious and mundane. Consider all of the things that your wife does today, that she also did yesterday, and she will probably do tomorrow. It is a grace for her to find joy in these things. In the middle of her everyday work she can be tempted to let her mind wander to more exciting things and her heart to become dissatisfied. The only rescue from the “meaninglessness” of life under the sun is to find our ultimate meaning in Christ.
Then, and only then, is the humdrum able to be truly enjoyed.
Gracious God, I pray today that you help my wife to find joy in the mundane. I know it is a curse for us to have many of our hearts desires but not the ability to enjoy them. Lord, I know that ability comes from you. Capture my wife’s heart with a deep delight in the simple things of life. Help her to find joy in you as she does the dishes, tends to our children, cooks supper, and all of the other routine things that she does. Help her to enjoy the gift of life and to live in the life that Jesus has purchased for her. Amen.
Yes, it is the quiddity of redemption that we are praying for today.
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. –Hebrews 11:24-25
Sin can seem quite pleasurable at the time. Even if we know that it’s wrong or unwise we still have a tendency to coddle our sin. This is because we do not see sin for what it really is. I’m convinced that we will not be as passionate about turning from sin unless we truly hate it.
With help from Richard Baxter here are twelve things to meditate upon that will help us grow in our hatred of sin. As you read through this I encourage you to make this practical. Keep in your minds eye that particular sin that the Spirit has been nagging you about.
- Meditate on the character of God. You cannot know the seriousness & ugliness of sin without knowing the beauty of the God of whom sin is against.
- Consider the work of Christ. Christ came to kill that sin that we are holding on to.
- Ponder the work of the Holy Spirit. He came to purify us—can we then abide with sin?
- Know the wonderful love and mercy of God. The ugliness of sin is shown in comparison to the great love of the God that we are sinning against. Every sin is a sin against the hand of mercy.
- Consider what you were created for. Knowing the “excellent, and high, and holy work, you were created for” shows from what height sin has made us to fall from.
- Think of the delights that come from holiness. Sin robs you of true delight, remember those seasons of delight that sin has robbed from you.
- Think upon heaven. There is no sin in heaven. If it doesn’t satisfy and give joy there—what makes us think it is worthwhile in the present?
- Look to the state of the damned. Consider the difference between angels and devils. “Holiness and sin do make the difference”.
- Consider what men say of sin at the last. What do men in heaven and hell say of sin? If it’s not applauded in hell, and it’s not, then it should not be applauded here.
- Look upon sin and judgment together. Remember that you must answer for this sin before God, and angels, and all the world.
- Consider the grave. “Sickness, poverty, shame, despair, death, and rottenness in the grave” is the consequence of sin.
- Look upon truly holy people and great sinners. Is there no difference? Sin is the foundational difference between the two.
As we consider the odiousness of sin let us also consider the beauty of Jesus. He rescued us from the muck and mire of sin. May we flee from it today and live in His redemption and not foolish rebellion.
Repent and run to Jesus.
Consider this from Spurgeon as you ponder the ugliness of sin:
Suppose I could find out a sinner so vile that Jesus Christ could not reach him; why then the devils in hell would take him through their streets as a trophy; they would say, "This man was more than a match for God; his sin was too great for God's grace." What says the Apostle? "Where sin abounded"—that is you, poor sinner;—"where sin abounded"—what sins you plunged into last night, and on other black occasions,—"where sin abounded"—what? Condemnation? Hopeless despair? No, "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." I think I see the conflict in the great arena of the universe. Man piles a mountain of sin, but God will match it, and he upheaves a loftier mountain of grace; man heaps up a still huger hill of sin, but the Lord overtops it with ten times more grace; and so the contest continues till at last the mighty God plucks up the mountains by the roots and buries man's sin beneath them as a fly might be buried beneath an Alp. Abundant sin is no barrier to the superabundant grace of God.
I think this is wise.
Posts like this are always so helpful to me.
Questions like this are important. I believe Scotty Smith did a great job of answering it.
I especially like the last section: Prepare to Not Want Escape.
Wow, this Granny can rock! Does anyone else get a picture of Church Lady in their head when you watch this?
Monday, August 5, 2013
Day Five: That Her Husband Would Be Pure
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. –Psalm 101:3
One of the greatest things that our wives need from us is our personal purity. If we are to faithfully love, serve, and sacrifice for our wives we must do so as men of integrity. One of the greatest robbers of personal integrity and holiness is lust and pornography. Brothers, we must pray that God would sustain us and be our delight. Let us pray that he would protect us from temptation and give us the wisdom and strength to flee ungodly passions. Our wives need our holiness.
Father, forgive me for all of the times that I have not lived in absolute integrity. I thank you that Jesus Christ redeems and makes new everything that we’ve shipwrecked. May we live in His redemption and not foolish rebellion. Lord, create in us a holy passion for purity. Keep us from flirting with sin and not fleeing from it. Cause us to be men of integrity and purity. Might we be known as men that love our wives and love our Lord in such a way that “worthless” and “unclean” things have lost their luster. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from this great evil. In the absolutely pure name of Jesus, I pray, amen.
If you need help with your battle against lust and pornography, these resources are quite helpful.
I’m not the Benny Hinn type, but I do pray for healing quite often. And I do it rather simply:
“Lord, heal _______ according to your will.”
It might sound as if I’m praying that because I simply do not know the Lord’s will in a situation. From my finite perspective I have no idea if the Lord has purposed to heal a person. While that is true, that is not all that I am communicating whenever I pray that the Lord heal someone according to His will. It’s actually a prayer that is jam-packed with theology and hope.
All believers will ultimately be healed
I know that whenever I pray for healing in the life of a believer that it will always ultimately be answered. I know this from Revelation 21:4 (among other places). I know that one day, “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”.
Therefore, when I pray that the Lord heal someone according to His will I know that He is going to eventually answer that prayer. That might mean that my prayer for healing in the present is not answered—because God is going to answer the greater prayer—ultimate healing.
God heals in the present as a preview of His ultimate healing
Yet, sometimes God does answer our prayers for healing in the present. The Lord is kind and gracious. He binds up broken hearts. He causes cancer to disappear. He clears up cloudy minds. Yes, our great God wipes away tears even in the present. And he does this as a preview of things to come.
Therefore, I am praying that if it be the Lord’s good pleasure that He would provide healing in the present. When he answers these prayers it helps us to see that God is actively involved and concerned—not only for our future but also for our present. When he does not provide present healing we know that He is still good—and He has answered our prayers for ultimate healing.
What about unbelievers?
When I am praying for an unbeliever that God would heal them according to His will, I am not only praying for temporary healing. I am praying that they would come to know Jesus Christ and that their greatest problem would be answered; namely separation from God.
I know that while they remain in rebellion that they have no promise of ultimate healing. Instead it is the opposite. This present suffering pales in comparison to the suffering that is to come. Therefore, I pray that the Lord might use this to draw them to himself. I’m praying that they would experience ultimately healing because they have been rescued by Jesus.
This is what I’m praying for whenever I ask God to heal somebody according to His will.
Let’s not be uncomfortable in praying for healing. Let’s be bold. In my mind praying for healing is the same thing as praying Maranatha! So let us approach Him with confidence and hope, knowing that our prayers for healing in the life of believers will always ultimately be answered.
I found this interesting.
This is an interview with Heath Lambert, author of Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.
This is an important question for the community that I live in.
I think I make all eight of these.
Would you try this?
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Last week we began our Pray For Your Wife: 31 Day Challenge. The response has been tremendous. We have over 1,400 guys praying for their wives. As I think about the impact of this many guys praying for their wives—I can’t help but also think of 1 Peter 3:7.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
(1 Peter 3:7 ESV)
For some, the first reading of that verse might evoke a slight chaffing. After all, we live in an age when saying things like “weaker vessel” is offensive. And there might be a reason for discomfort because let’s face it, some guys really can be jerks. And such jerky guys have used verses like 1 Peter 3:7 to promote their insecure theology. Offensive as it sounds I’m convinced that there is something beautiful in seeing our wives as the “weaker vessel”. Robert Rayburn explains:
Remember weaker" is being used in a context. A ming vase is weaker than a five dollar hammer; a Rembrandt canvas is weaker than a razor blade; and Mother Teresa was weaker than Mike Tyson! Peter is not talking about comparative worth, he is speaking of the reason why men have a special responsibility, laid upon them by their Creator, to show a particular regard for women and their wives in particular. It was not so long ago, even in secular Western societies that a man's manhood was judged according to the way in which he protected and provided for the women in his life. Only a feminist ideologue surveying the wreckage of American society can really believe that the abandonment of this viewpoint has improved the lot of women and children.
Wives are a treasure that are given to husbands to nurture and care for. The Lord love for His daughters is so mighty that He promises that husbands who do not treat them with care will be hindered in their prayer life.
I’ve known men (including myself) that have felt a darkness and a separation in our prayer life with the Lord. I have felt my ability to pray (not to mention preach and write) hindered. It’s like there is a big fat rock that stands between me and the Lord.
My natural inclination to remove that rock is to get uber-spiritual. I’ll read a book on prayer, spend some time alone with the Lord, or I might even go so far as to fast. The boulder continues to stand between myself and the Lord. And it stays there because what I really need to do is stop being a bear to my wife. Instead of mourning and even praying about the separation, what I really need to do is go home and repent of my attitude and lack of nurturing my wife.
The 31 Day Challenge
While we are praying for our wives this month I think it’s important that we also remember to be tender with them. If we are praying for our wives to change and yet we are not treating them with honor, tenderness, and understanding our prayers will be hindered. And they will be hindered until we actually begin treating them with honor, tenderness, and understanding. Might it be possible that our repentance before our wives will be the very thing that God uses to answer our prayers for them.
It’s not always the case that feelings of distance in our relationship with the Lord is because we have been blowing it as husbands. But this is one of the few things in Scripture that the Lord promises will hinder our prayers. And so if we feel a distance there it would do us well to analyze our level of tenderness towards our wives.
As a side note to our married female readers: consider how much the Lord loves you that He would cause a hindrance in His relationship with your husband because your hubby is not nurturing you. God cares for you mightily, so much that He rips up the conscience of us men until we begin treating you the way that we ought.
May we not only pray for our wives this month but may we nurture our wives in such a way that the Lord will use us to answer those very prayers.
Originally posted here in a slightly different format.
I hope that you are having a blessed Lord’s day. I pray that God’s Word was faithfully preached in your church this morning, and that God’s Word is doing it’s work in your soul. Day four begins now. As always, remember to comment as a means of accountability.
Day Four: That She Would Have a Passion for God’s Word
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. –Psalm 1:1-2
If we want our wives to be blessed we should also want them to delight in God’s Word. It is not a coincidence that we are to wash our wives in the water of the Word. When all else fails—including us as husbands—the Word of God is the one thing that remains. One of the greatest things that can come from our prayer for our wives is that they would strengthen and develop an abiding love for God’s Word. Our passion is not merely that our wives would master the Word but that they would be mastered by the Word. Therefore, let us pray that God would give them a delight in His Word.
Lord, we thank you for your Word. I know that what will cause my wife to be blessed will be that she delights in your Word. Lord, I know that this is not something that comes from her—but this delight ultimately comes from you. So, God I pray that you would incline her heart to you. Help her to have a deep and abiding passion for your Word. I pray that you help her rejoice as she meditates on You as you reveal yourself in your Word. Give her a passion for your Word like she has never known before. I pray this that Christ may glorified, Amen.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Remember if you are only following the prayer challenge through the blog that you will need to comment on this post, either a prayer of your or a simple statement that says, “done”. This is so we can keep each other accountable.
Day Three: That Her Identity Would Be Found in Christ
"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." -Colossians 3:3
Our wives have many things in their life that vie to shape their identities. Some will seek identity in physical appearance. Some will seek it in mothering or being a great wife. Others will seek it in Christian activity. Others will seek to find their identity in stuff. These are faulty foundations. Pray that our wives might find their identity solely in Christ. And that their identity in Christ would be the foundation for all of their other roles and passions.
Father, you are everything that we desire. You are perfect in all of your ways. I am amazed that you would so graciously hide us in Christ. Lord I pray that my wife's identity would be shaped by all that Jesus is. May her life be hidden in You. May she believe that she is who You say that she is and not what the world, the flesh, or the devil says she is. Thank you that you have purchased our identity.
Friday, August 2, 2013
We had another 200 or so guys sign up yesterday, bringing our total to 1,250. I continue to be amazed at how the Lord is using this little challenge to further His glory and strengthen marriages.
Remember if you are only following the prayer challenge through the blog that you will need to comment on this post, either a prayer of your or a simple statement that says, “done”. This is so we can keep each other accountable.
Day Two: That she would not become weary in doing good
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9
In preparing our 31 days of prayer, I asked several ladies to give me things that they would love for their husbands to pray for them. One common theme was “that I wouldn’t become weary”. Brothers, our wives battle weariness. The only One that can sustain their weary hearts is the God that does not grow faint or weary (Isaiah 40:28-31). It is this same God that lovingly says to our wives and us to “come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Brothers, let’s pray that our wives come to our burden-bearing Savior and find rest.
Lord, we know that you have created us to find rest in you. And we know that our hearts are restless until they find rest in you. I pray that you help my wife to fully rest in you. Rescue her from her weariness and renew her strength. Keep her from becoming weary in doing good. Father, forgive me for any time that I have added to my wife’s weariness and burdens instead of carrying them with and for her. Thank you for the rest that we will someday enjoy. Maranatha!
I’ve decided to ask a few people to write occasional articles for me to use at Borrowed Light. Nick Horton is one of those fine souls to agree to do this. He blogs at http://nicholashorton.wordpress.com/and you can follow him on Twitter @NickHorton
“Oh God, have you forgotten me?” My chest heaves under stress and pressure, feeling as though there is an actual weight crushing down on me. I walk as though in a fog, aware I have somewhere to be, but I can’t see where I’m going or what is ahead. My wife asks me “What’s wrong? Are you upset?” Even the question feels like another thing to do, more responsibility, more pressure. My mind reels, clawing to stay afloat, yet slowly sinking beneath the ice-cold waves of despair.
When these dark times come, I have nowhere to turn but God. As I grow older, I am learning to shorten the time between trusting myself and throwing myself on the mercy of God. Anything else that I could turn to for comfort during these dark nights of the soul are just idols. Only God can provide the comfort my soul needs. His word shines forth on the darkness of my mood.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
I can relate to David’s feelings. Stress, fear, worry, doubt; all burden my heart and drive me to despair. I can relate to what he says in Psalm 23 of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. God, as my Father, can handle the cry of his child. I can approach him with my fears and sorrow and ask him, “How long, O Lord?” I can echo that longing and feel it deep within. He won’t get angry at my asking. He can handle it. In fact, he wants me to come running to him. Doing so is acknowledgment of his rightful place as King, and my place as servant.
David goes from his lament that God seems to have forgotten Him to a very important truth. His anchor in whatever storm he was going through.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
He went back to the foundation of his faith. In our despair, we need to remember we have a great High Priest who lives to intercede for us: Jesus Christ. In the midst of despair, David returns to what he knows about God, about himself, and what that means about how he should live.
He has trusted in the steadfast love of God. His heart rejoices in God’s salvation of him. When life closes in on you, death approaches you, and you feel as though your back is to the wall, remember that God has saved you from this light and momentary affliction. It doesn’t feel light, but against eternity with God it most certainly is. Recall how God has blessed you. Practice thankfulness. This is counterintuitive to the world, but you are no longer of the world if you are in Christ.
Sing to the Lord in your suffering. Acknowledge your fear, pain, and suffering, worship God, and sing to him! Sing songs of lament like Psalm 13. Sing songs of praise, though you may not “feel” like singing. Don’t be led by your feelings. Lead your feelings. Pull your heart along whether it desires to go or not, it will follow.
The first verse of the hymn “It Is Well” sticks in my mind and heart, tucked in there with Psalm 13, for dark times. Read this, sing it if you know the tune, and worship the God who is worthy.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
This is essentially just two videos. But they answer an important and hard to grasp question.
“…we must minister to people in different ways depending on their spiritual condition. We can’t simply slap a verse on a person.”
The book that I have handed out most frequently in the last couple of years is Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting. This little article might give you a taste of why.
Jared Wilson resurrects an old piece from the Boar’s Head Tavern. And I’m glad he did.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…nor do they expect a parakeet to say it.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
I’m amazed at the response so far we have over 1,050 people signed up on Facebook to pray for their wives for 31 days. This is not to mention those of you that have opted to follow along through the blog. I’m excited to see what the Lord does to further His glory as we pray for our wives.
Remember if you are only following the prayer challenge through the blog that you will need to comment on this post, either a prayer of your or a simple statement that says, “done”. This is so we can keep each other accountable.
Day one begins now:
Day One: That She Would Have an Abiding Satisfaction in God
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. –Psalm 16:11
The greatest thing that we can pray for our wives is that she will be eternally satisfied in God. It is at His right hand where pleasure is to be found. It is in His presence and His presence alone where the fullness of joy is to be found; for our wives to drink from any other fountain will only multiply her sorrows (Psalm 16:4). Therefore, we must pray that our wives find their deepest satisfaction in God.
Father, I pray that you would cause my wife to find her deepest satisfaction in You. Rescue her from looking to other things to find satisfaction and pleasures. Help me to lead her in my enjoyment of You. At your right hand is where joy is found. Help us to truly believe this and live accordingly. In Jesus name, Amen.
Ever felt that way? Who hasn’t? After all, people are messy; think they know everything; make massive assumptions about the motivations of others; will let you down just when you need them most; argue over the silliest of things; like to sit back and observe what’s wrong, but not get their hands dirty to fix anything; love the idea of the church growing and reaching others as long as nothing changes; etc., etc., etc. Oh and by the way, they sin.....sin a lot!!!!
Read John 2:23-25. Read it again. One more time, read it without trying to figure out whether this is ‘saving belief’ on the part of the people and put yourself in the middle of that tricky little ALL people identification.
Four Quick Observations:
1. Jesus understands, knows human nature and the reality that we are all of us, each of us marred by sin. His trust is in the Father and the Father’s plans for Kingdom Work.
2. In spite of the fact that Jesus knows us, he has neither given up on us nor does he become cynical about his mission among the nations. Ouch....apparently Jesus just doesn’t see what we see, what I see in people. (If you could ‘hear’ the tone of my fingers on the keyboard you would recognize the dripping sarcasm of that statement.)
3. A great irony of this passage is that while Jesus does not entrust himself to us, he does trust his ongoing mission with us. Talk about grace, mercy, and the promise of His power at work in our lives.
4. His grace is all the more profound and precious because he does know us, he still loves us, and he has not give up on us yet. Jesus still has hope for us.
Following the example of my Lord I pray that God will give me the wisdom I need to know people and accept the reality of my struggle with sin on this side of eternity. Following the example of my Lord I pray that God will give me the confidence in him and his work so that I will not give up on people and not trade God’s Hope for a prideful cynicism which builds up my ego while tearing people down.
Lord, Help me to set to set aside if it weren’t for the people and see them through the hope-filled eyes of Jesus. Help me to live in your abiding hope.