Read This! 03.21.17

A Pastoral Letter to Myself (In the Case That I Fall)

This is a sobering reminder that any of us could need this letter.

Weary Mom, Come to Me

I suppose many mothers could use this encouraging word.

‘This Is Us’ Captures the Drama of Unfolding Redemption

This likely explains why the show is so popular.

Solomon’s Twitter Guidelines

Kevin DeYoung looks to the Proverbs to develop 25 twitter guidelines (and I suppose any social media).

When a Minister Helps to Kill a Ministry

Here are three pitfalls pastors should avoid.

The Devil Knows How to Discourage You

Yep.

Charles Spurgeon and Courage in the Pulpit

I appreciated this reflection on the Prince of Preachers.

Paul Washer has some great words to Christian rappers:

Pray With Your Spouse: Day Twenty-Eight

Day Twenty-Eight: Live Out Your Roles

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. –Ephesians 5:22, 25-27

This is the controversial one, but I’m convinced it shouldn’t be. God has made men and women differently. We complement one another. We are fully equal and yet God has given us distinct roles as we relate to one another. We can fight against that or we can live out these roles in the strength of God’s power. Wives are called to submit to even their ungodly husbands (see 1 Peter) as a way to model the gospel. And husbands are called to submit even to ungrateful wives as a way to model the gospel. Your partners response to your fulfillment of your role does not change your responsibility. Let us work together to accurately model the gospel in the way we relate to one another.

Father, we thank you for the roles that you have given us. There are things that are difficult about each role but we know that you give us your power to fulfill our responsibilities. We also know that the gospel is at stake in the way we love our spouse. Help us husbands to sacrifice for our wives the way Jesus did for His bride. And help us wives lovingly follow our husbands leadership the way the church does Christ. We know that we will never perfectly model this, but help even our broken mirrors accurately reflect Jesus. Amen.

Thoughts On Leading Children to Christ

The little boy was very upset that once again he didn’t get to take the Lord’s Supper. He knew that his church (and his parents) believed that you needed to be baptized in order to drink grape juice at church. What made this Sunday even more painful was that his best friend—who had just been baptized three weeks earlier—would be snagging his first communion wafer, while little Billy would still have to deal with his grumbling stomach.

If you would ask the little boy why Jimmy was able to get baptized, his answer would be, “Because Jimmy got the right answers and I didn’t”. Little Billy had been studying for this test for weeks but he still couldn’t quite explain the message of the gospel. Last time he got a bit confused on his explanation of sin. And so he knew he’d have to wait another month or two to try to take the test again so he could receive his rich reward of getting dunked in front of his friends and family.

The previous two paragraphs are a little tongue in cheek…but only a little. I’m convinced that there is something a bit askew with the way we talk about the gospel with children. It feels to me more like giving them an SAT exam or taking a drivers test, than truly seeing the work of God in their life. If they pass they get to go to the college of their choice or they get to legally drive mom’s car.

I think the problem is that it’s pretty difficult to see heart change with many children. My kids have both grown up in church. They can tell you the ABC’s of salvation. They know that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. They know that Satan is evil. They want to go to heaven instead of hell. They believe that obeying God is a good thing. They try to read their Bible. But none of those things equals a heart change.

Kids are learning new facts all the time. My son once couldn’t read or do multiplication. Now he can. My daughter couldn’t write out her name. Now she can. In the same way they once couldn’t articulate the gospel—now they can. But does that make them saved? After all, they can pass the “know the gospel” test.

You see it’d be a bit easier with an adult. If a guy is having multiple affairs, abusing his spouse, and getting in bar fights every Saturday night, you aren’t going to call him saved just because he knows a few facts about Jesus. (At least I hope not). If that guy comes into the pastors office and says he’d like to be baptized because he wants to follow Jesus and yet refuses to stop cheating on his wife and really doesn’t pursue life change, then you’d likely question his repentance. You’d be a little hesitant to sign him up for baptism.

Why then do we throw this out the window when it comes to leading children to Christ? Do we assume that kids are saved a different way than adults? In order for salvation to happen the Spirit must change the heart of a child just as He must change the heart of an adult. No matter the age salvation is a work of the Spirit.

And there are some things that only the Holy Spirit can do. Parroting gospel facts isn’t one of them. Demons can do that…and do it far better than little Billy. But demons don’t have conviction of sin. Demons don’t have a thirst for holiness and following after God. When you start seeing these things in your child…that is when you know God is working.

So, if you are a parent or a ministry leader try looking for heart change more than just recitation of facts.

Photo source: here

Pray With Your Spouse: Day Twenty-Seven

Day Twenty-Seven: Covering Wrongs

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. –1 Peter 4:8

Earnest love towards one another is the type of love that covers a multitude of sins. What does that mean? The context for Peter’s statement likely comes from Proverbs 10:12 where we read that “hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs”. You are a sinner who is married to another sinner. We are both finite and sinful human beings. That means that if you want things to complain about your partner will give you more than enough fodder for your cannon. Hatred will stir up strife. It’ll look for sin to expose and attack. But love doesn’t do this. Love only looks for sin so that it can cover it through forgiveness and the redemptive work of Jesus. Choose love instead of hatred.

Father, we thank you that Jesus has covered every one of our sins and cast them to the bottom of the sea. If it were not for this indeed none of us could stand. But you have chosen to forgive our iniquity. Help us to do this same thing with one another. Help us to love one another earnestly and cover wrongs. May we walk in forgiveness towards one another and let that heart grow towards others as well. Amen.