Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Live With Your Wives In An Understanding Way

With Valentine’s Day approaching in a few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my wife and a weekend get-away we are planning.  I plan to charm her with as much romance as I can squeeze out of this granite brain of mine.  Knowing my wife, and her commitment to the Bible, I know she will be blessed the most by a type of romance that is rooted in the Word of God.  God is, after all, our creator and marriage is the first human relationship He created.  That being the case we would expect the Word of God to have something to say about romance as part of marriage.  And, of course, it does.

                Any attempt at romance must begin with an understanding of who is being addressed.  What is perceived as romance to my wife, may not go over the same in someone else’s marriage.  First Peter 3:7 tells us, “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.” I can already hear the objections.  “It is impossible to understand my wife.  She’s irrational.  She doesn’t make any sense…”  Trust me, there have been times when looking deeply into the eyes of my precious bride I think to myself, “I have no clue what you are talking about.”  I do understand.  Consider again what Peter is saying, “live with your wives is an understanding way.”  He is not saying that husbands must understand our wives.  He is not asking the impossible! :) He says to live with our wives in an understanding way.  That’s different. 
                What is an understanding way?  What does it take to show understanding to your wife?  As with any act of obedience to our Savior it takes the power of God.  Consider how the fruit of the Spirit applies to loving your wife.  According to Galatians 5:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  These fruits are all qualities given to us by the Holy Spirit that demonstrate understanding.  Since we know that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) we can do this.  Therefore, romance begins by letting the Spirit of God control us.  What wife does not want their husband to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled as well as bring love, joy, and peace to their marriage? 
                The Song of Solomon gives us some practical examples of a husband displaying romance through his understanding of his bride. In multiple places Solomon uses kind and gentle words with the woman he loves.  He complements her looks.  “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful.” (1:15) He honors her above others. “As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.” (2:2) He treats her gently.  “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!”  He expresses his devotion. “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.” (4:9)
                We would do well as Solomon did to pray for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1) as we seek to live with our wives in an understanding way.  Ask God to help you through His Spirit to be the husband God intended you to be.  As we meditate on His Word and seek to bless our wives, we would also do well to remember the warning given in 1 Peter 3:7.  If we are not living with our wives in an understanding way, we are told that our prayers could be hindered.  We must take that warning seriously and remember it when we are impatient, rude, or unloving towards our wives. 
                Finally, we must remember that there is no sacrifice too great when it comes to loving our wives as spelled out in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  When you consider all Christ has done for us, to save us when we were unworthy of being saved, it is only a small thing to yield to the Holy Spirit and love our wives by living with them in an understanding way.

                Please join me this Valentine’s Day in applying God’s Word to our marriages and loving our wives.  And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth everyday of your marriage. (Proverbs 5:18)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beauty of Holiness

 I once was asked, "What is your understanding of the "beauty of holiness" from Psalm 29:2?  This was my response.

God is holy.  He is set apart from His creation and is far above His creation.  We are amazed when we gaze into the heavens because of the beauty and vast nature that is virtually incomprehensible.  The more we study the universe through technology the more we realize how incredible it is.  In the same way we should be amazed when we look at God and study who He is.  Even more so than the heavens because He created it all!  His wholly otherness should boggle our minds.  Yet there is a paradox because we are created in His image.  So even though who He is, is far above us, we have His likeness.  Unfortunately our sin corrupts this image removes us farther and farther away from Him.  As we look into these things it should drive us to repent & worship Him.  I think that is the point of the psalm.  The “heavenly beings” (ESV) in verse 1 are a reflection of His glory which radiates from His holiness.  We should see beauty in this and be driven to worship Him.

Additionally, we are called to be holy for He is holy, 1 Pet. 1:16.  We are set apart by our actions.  Peter is talking about our personal obedience to Christ.  One may say, but all our works are as filthy rags!  No, not the believer.  We are saved by God’s grace alone through Christ alone.  No work could ever earn God’s favor enough to save us or make us holy.  But when Christ has granted us repentance and given us faith and we have become a true believer we are to walk in obedience.  Not to earn salvation, but because we love Him and are grateful for the mercy He has given us. (Rom. 12:1)  If we think we can live like the world and call ourselves Christians, we are sadly mistaken.  Hebrews 10:29 – “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (ESV)  When we walk in obedience we are “being holy.”  This is a beautiful thing.  When a father or mother sees their child obey quickly with the right attitude because they love their parent it brings them great joy.  It is a beautiful thing.  How much more beautiful is it when we obey our heavenly father because we love Him!  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 Jn. 5:3)  This is the beauty of Holiness. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

How would you define a Christian that is “surrendered”?

A friend of mine asked me this question. 
How would you define a Christian that is “surrendered”?

Surrender: Definition 1b in Webster’s Dictionary is: to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.

Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9 how he has surrendered his rights for the sake of the gospel.  He says he is free to live, eat, drink, work in certain ways, but because of his love for the gospel he surrenders those rights.  “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” (9:12) 

Why would he do this?  Verse 23: “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”  He surrenders because he loves the Lord Jesus and he wants others to love Christ as well.  When we truly love Christ Jesus we change the way we live.  We give up selfish desires for His sake, and we long to share this love with others that they may share in this joy. 

A surrendered life is one that gives up the pursuing of selfish desires that we may know Christ more.  A surrendered life spends time with the one you are surrendered to without making excuses.  It is easy to have many other things to do other than spend it with our Lord.  Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, would get up at 2:00AM and spend an hour praying.  He did it because it was the only time that he could truly be alone with his savior.  A surrendered life is one that will give up the good for the best.

A surrendered life is one that stops making excuses for sin.  Our sin grieves the Holy Spirit and separates us from God.  Yet we often ignore the conviction God gives us because we desire the pleasure obtained in sin.  A surrendered life says, “enough!”  I will obey my God because I love Him.  I will resist the Devil and draw near to God.

A surrendered life can only come when we realize how great a gift God has given us.  Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  The focus here is the mercy of God.  While we were still an enemy, rejecting God, He chose to reach down and change our heart.  We did not in any way deserve His mercy, but He chose to give it to us that He may be glorified.  Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”  To truly surrender we must truly understand our sinfulness and unworthiness.  Continuing in Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  A surrendered life understands our unworthiness, has gratitude for God’s mercy, sacrifices selfish desires, and lets God transform us by being renewed through His Word.  In fact a surrendered person is one who loves the Word of God.  The Word is always on his heart.  He reads it, studies it, meditates upon it, and hides it in his heart.  The more he does this the more surrendered to Christ he becomes. 
I pray I will surrender to Christ more every day.  Will you join me and surrender as well?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Journey

Isaiah 45:4-6 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.

     Reformed theology is relatively new to me.  I have been a Christian for nearly 30 years, but only had a vague understanding of “Calvinism” for many years.  In my ignorance I would say, “I don’t agree with all of it,” but I really did not know what I did or did not agree with.  It was in 2007 in a little International Baptist Church in Celle Germany where we attended church for the 2 months that I was first impacted by the doctrine. 

     The company I worked for had sent me to Germany for training and familiarization with the equipment we manufacture.  My wife and I found the only church that spoke English and seemed to hold to Biblical truth.  We had 3 children at the time ages 1 to 6 that came to the service with us.  One Sunday the pastor preached a sermon that stunned my wife and me.  He taught about how God chose those whom He willed for salvation for His own glory.  I remember talking to my wife on the way home about this hard doctrine and saying, he was a Calvinist.  But that is about all I knew. 

     God uses different ways of preparing us.  What we loved about the little church in Germany was worshiping our savior together as a family.  As we headed back to Texas we felt a great need for something deeper.  To be involved with people that had a real heart for discipling their children and a strong commitment to the Word of God.  For a few weeks after returning we attended Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston because we liked the idea of family integration.  I was also somewhat familiar with Voddie Baucham and was very impressed with his teaching.  I did not even realize at the time that GFBC was a reformed Baptist church.  After a few weeks we decided to return to the large church we had been at for several years and try and make a difference.  GFBC was an hour drive and we wanted to be ministering in the community we lived in.  

     After another year had passed we felt very discouraged with the impact we were having and the children’s ministry that our children were in.  We led a prayer ministry and I was a fill-in teacher.  The last straw was hearing Hannah Montana played at the Vacation Bible School rally or children attended.  Where was the depth?  What is the purpose?  Is children’s ministry all about entertainment?  Why were so many people content with the shallowness?

     In contrast our children attended Vacation Bible School at a small PCA church.  This church was all about teaching the Bible and leading the children to know Christ.  The teaching impressed us so much we changed membership, though we did not hold to some Presbyterian doctrines.  I was also becoming more comfortable with reformed teaching.

     In March of 2009 I began listening to a radio series by John MacArthur on the Doctrines of Grace.  He covered the 5 points of Calvinism over several weeks.  I was blown away.  Verses that had always made me scratch my head suddenly began to make sense to me.   In fact, the whole of scripture began to come together for me and I saw the uniform message more clearly.  Salvation is entirely of God, so that He gets all the glory.  After listening to this series several times, I also listened to lessons from R.C. Sproul and John Piper on the subject.  I became convinced.

     God chose us. (John 15:16 , Ephesians 1:3-6)  He granted us repentance. (Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25)  Faith is a gift from God. (Eph 2:8, John 6:65)  As the opening passage from Isaiah 45 states, He names us.  That is, we take His name as His children. (1 John 3:1)  Then he equips us to do His will.  He does all this for His own Glory.  There are many more passages that demonstrate God’s sovereignty that I hope to cover in the coming months.  

     For now I am grateful God has shown me this truth.  Scripture has never been more real to me and my desire to know Him more has been stimulated.  To finish the story, we spent 3 years in the conservative PCA church where we grew to know understand the doctrines of grace further before we decided to make the drive and join Grace Family Baptist.  This decision was ultimately made because we are most like minded with the people and teaching of GFBC.  I personally hold to the reformed Baptist doctrine of Charles Spurgeon and the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession.  We believe children are a gift from God and are about to have or 6th.  (Our family is small compared to many who attend GFBC.)  We love having the children worship along side us at church instead of spread out in youth groups and children’s classes.  Praise God we have fit in well, and our children love the church and friends they have made.  To God be the Glory.

     Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hope Without Dissappointment

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 NKJV
What is hope? Seventeen years ago I was a freshman in college in Houston. I had just left home in rural east Texas where there were 25 people in my graduating class, and I was lost in this big city. My new Sunday school teacher brought this verse up in class one Sunday morning. I clung to this verse over the next 4 years knowing God was building my character. I had many tribulations to deal with, but I persevered. Yes, this verse gave me hope as I faced the trials.
Unfortunately I neglected to understand the second half of the verse. What does the love of God being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit have to do with tribulation? Much, as I later found out. It took me along time, but there is so much more to this than I even realized as a young college student learning to persevere.
What is hope? Is this the wishful thinking we have when we are planning a picnic and think, “I hope it does not rain tomorrow”? Is this a fantasy we experience when that special person catches our eye and we think, “I hope she likes me”? What is hope? This hope Paul speaks of is something so much more. RC Sproul describes this hope as faith looking forward. This hope is our blessed assurance that we sing about. This is our guarantee that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness(1 John 1:9). This is our promise of eternity with Christ. No wishful thinking here. This is a promise we can take to the bank.
Why can we be so sure in the hope we have been given? Because of where it comes from. This hope comes from the love of God that has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Not our love of God, but God’s love for us. Gods steadfast love that endures forever(Psalm 100:5). We can have blessed assurance because God’s love is patient and kind, and His love never fails(1 Corinthians 13). It is through his love that we are not allowed to be tempted beyond what we can bare and provides a way of escape(1 Corinthians 10:13). We are able to glory in tribulation because we know God loves us. We can persevere because God loves us. It is God’s love that gives us character. His perfect love drives out fear(1 John 4:18).
When we know that our creator loves us this deeply we can rest easy. We can be grateful in tribulation. We can continue to persevere. And we can continue to hope, knowing we will not be disappointed. I am grateful to have this hope, and I look forward to seeing the fulfillment of my God given hope when my trials ultimately come to their final end. Praise be to God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Around The World

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us… Acts 17:24-27
By the grace of God I have had the privilege to see many parts of this world that He created. I have been to some beautiful places. I have been to some scary places. I have been to some disturbing places. Everywhere in the world there are people searching, reaching out, and looking for something greater. The Bible tells us that every person on this planet has been put where they are for a reason. “That they should seek God.”
He has given His people the opportunity to know Him. Again, Almighty God has given us the opportunity to know Him. Once more, the Creator of the World, the One who spoke and the Universe leaped into existence, the One who breathed life into this pile of dust we call a body has given us an opportunity and wants us to know Him. The great King David of Israel once wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” David looked into the night sky and saw the beauty and grander of God’s creation. Yet it was not creation that he marveled at. It was God Himself. David was inspired to worship the Creator. He also wrote, “The Heavens declare the Glory of God”, and spoke eloquently of God’s might and power. But, David’s awe did not stop there. He realized that as powerful and majestic as God is, He still reaches out to lowly man. He is mindful of the one He created in His own image. All of the grander of his creation was created for us that we may reach out and find the creator. His love for us is so great that He purposely put each of us in the right spot that we could find Him. Perfectly placed us, the pinnacle of His creation, where we are. He has given all of us opportunity to find Himself. What is more, in all our groping and striving and searching, “He is actually not far from each one of us.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Heavens Delare the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Psalm 19:1-6