Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina -- One Year On

All of us can recall what we were doing this time last year as Hurricane Katrina came ashore. Truth is, as the power went down in Jackson, most of us were unaware of the scale of the damage on the coast. I think it was only the next day, when a neighbor sat in his car listening to the news, that we understood how extensive the damage had been.

We have had the privilege of the ministry of some of Katrina's victims here at First Presbyterian Church. Some have lost everything they ever possessed, items of irreplaceable sentimental value. It came home to me as I "lost" the hundreds of pictures of my granddaughter last week which I'd carefully filed on my (now) stolen laptop, that these were items I could not replace. But imagine searching amongst the rubble for pictures, or china, or jewelry, or my beloved books and CDs.

Yesterday, in preparation for a class on Patristics, I had occasion to examine once again the first century document known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, or The Didache. It is now thought to be from the mid-first century, possibly as early as AD 50, before the Gospels were written and during the time Paul was engaging in his Gentile mission (though the document seems utterly unaware of it). It (probably) originates in Alexandria, Egypt (but advocates for Antioch in Syria put forward a good case, too). It is a training manual for converts to Christianity preparing for baptism. At one point, it has this to say:

"You will accept the experiences befalling you as good things, knowing that, apart from God, nothing happens" (3:10).

It sounds stark and cold, doesn't it. The Calvinistic (of I may be anachronistic) doctrine of sovereignty applied without feeling or sympathy. But this is to misunderstand it entirely. What is the alternative? That things happen without God's knowledge or willingness? That even God is helpless before the powerful forces of "nature"? And where is the comfort in that?

No, as these dear friends in our church have shown us in a remarkable way, trusting God in hard times is the only way to live.

Thank you, dear friends, for encouraging us in your own loss. May you continue to find peace and comfort in the arms of our sovereign Lord who does all things "after the counsel of his will" (Eph. 1:11). You have taught us much.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

New York Times Most Popular?

You may be interested to see the most emailed and the most blogged article in the New York Times in the last thirty days. Don't miss the video. (You may have to register with the Times if you haven't already.)

I must disclaim: I AM NOT endorsing this man's views, and I WOULD NOT recommend most of his books. His theological errors are fundamental and dangerous. In this particular case, I think he is simplistically and unwisely overreacting. But he raises issues to which we must respond thoughtfully and biblically, and I find it intriguing that, according to the New York Times, this article has attracted such interest.
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ephesians 5:25 Outline

God’s New Family: An Exposition of Ephesians (XLIX)
God’s Household Rules: Marriage and Family (5)
Love Your Wife (2)

Ephesians 5:25-27
Introduction (review):
1. We are studying now a section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-6:9), dealing with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. If we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world? Paul tells us here. He deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious. Our culture can’t even seem to define marriage! Much less agree upon the dynamics of husband-wife marital roles and the discipline of children.
2. "The Christian life has to be lived at home. This is the theme of the whole passage we are studying. Paul is not dealing with any other subject. . . . Paul is talking about our homes. Why does he spends so much time on this subject? It is because it can be said of too many professing Christians: ‘he is a saint abroad but a devil at home.’ . . . The apostle sets his face against such inconsistency. Home is where we are known the best, misunderstood the most and are constantly open to scrutiny and criticism. But it is supremely here that the Christian life has to be lived, because it is here that the gospel is put to its severest test. If the gospel is unable to transform people at home, we must conclude that it is unable to transform people at all. Ungodly behavior here shames the gospel. He whose light shines furthest, shines brightest nearest home.’" (Olyott)
3. Today we commence a series of studies of Ephesians 5:25-29, a passage that spells out God’s expectations for Christian husbands.
4. Note the outline of Paul’s argument in this passage:
1. The Command - Love your wives (25a)
2. Analogy #1 - Like Christ loved the church (25b)
a. Purpose of Christ loving the church - to sanctify her (26)
b. Ultimate goal - the glory of the church in holiness and perfection (27)
3. Analogy #2 - Love your wife in the same way you take care of yourself (28a)
a. Elaboration #1 - in a real sense you are caring for your own self when you love your wife
b. Elaboration #2 - that means, specifically, nourishing and cherishing her
5. An important preface to our study: (1) As we address God’s design for marriage and family, and for husbands and wives, we need to acknowledge the complexity and variety of the issues involved and the circumstances of hearers - widows and widowers, those who have been married a long time and those who have not, those who are now or have been separated and divorced, those who are single and happy about it or single and who want to be married, those who are believers married to unbelievers or to very immature Christians, those who are in happy marriages and difficult marriages, and those who are the children, parents, siblings and friends of the above. (2) Paul, stunningly, says her that we (and especially husbands) are to view marriage in light of the Gospel, in light of union with Christ, and even in light of the atonement. (3) Our study is an opportunity for change, but also an opportunity for disaster - if we leave here today or in the weeks to come saying to one another "This is how you have failed me" then there’s trouble coming. If we leave here thinking "This is how I’ve failed you, and I’m determined, by God’s grace, to grow in love and service" then there are huge possibilities for blessing. Our attitude must be: how many I serve you (not "how am I being served") and "you first" (not "me first").

God calls Christian husbands to a radical, God-originated, Gospel-based, Grace-empowered, Spirit-wrought, Christ-emulating, self-denying love for our wives
— in which we seek to serve our wives and to care for our wives’ best spiritual and temporal interests

I. God’s Command to Christian Husbands: Love
[Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church] (25)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her
A. It is interesting that God says not make sure you lead her, but rather make sure you love her
B. So what does that love look like? How are we supposed to love?
C. What is Christ’s love for the church like:1. Unmerited (Romans 5:8); 2. Intense (Luke 22:15); Unending (John 13:1); 4. Unselfish (Philippians 2:6-7); Purposeful (Ephesians 5:26-27); 6. Manifested (John 16:33); and 7. Sacrificial (John 15:13).
D. What is Christian love supposed to be like? 1 Cor 13:4-7 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1. Love is patient–has a capacity for endurance. It hangs in there.
2. Love is kind–is good and seeks to serve others
3. Love is not jealous–not envious/displeased w/others success \ generous
4. Love does not brag and not arrogant–not prideful, puffed up, windbag humble
5. Love does not act unbecomingly–does not do indecent/dishonorable
6. Love does not seek its own – it is not selfish or self-seeking
7. Love is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered – not ready to be offended
8. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth – loves what is right
9. Love bears all things – it forbears
10. Love believes all things – it thinks the best
11. Love hopes all things – it is confident in the future
12. Love endures all things – it perseveres
13. Love never fails – it never gives up, it never stops
* Christian love is deliberately seeking the best interest of another, even at our own cost, for love to Christ. So, the love that God calls us to is realistic, practical, committed self-sacrifice (not simply strong passions). Marriage is school of love – easiest and hardest place. This kind of love needs divine grace.
E. Practically what does this look like for a husband?
1. Manifesting our love with words: Saying "I love you" God has set great example in this.
2. Providing for her needs: 1 Timothy 5:8 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Ephesians 5:28 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. . . .
3. Protecting her: physical protection; trying to do more than she can do; demands of caring for children; criticisms or expectations of others
4. Assisting with chores and responsibilities: Be a help to her
5. Showing sacrifice for her: you’re tired, but she needs help, or wants to talk, shop, etc. Do it for her.
6. Sharing your life with her: tell her what you think God has put you here for
7. Refusing to compare her unfavorably to others: joking at her expenses, denigrating her character and qualities in comparison to another woman.
8. Demonstrating that she is first in your life: before business, hobbies, children, parents, house.
9. Expressing your love with tenderness, respect and courtesy: especially in your speech - tone, gentleness, respectfulness, as someone valuable
10. Expressing appreciation and giving praise in large doses: Make a list of 90-100 things you appreciate about you wife and then begin to systematically express them.
11. Leading in love and regard: Lead her in such a way as that she cannot doubt your love and profound senses your respect for her, as a peer, as a treasured and best friend, as one for whom you have the profoundest intellectual respect and admiration of character.
(Thanks to Wayne Mack for many of these ideas)
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Love Note to Bethan

We have emphasized in our exposition of Ephesians 5:25, the importance of a Christian husband loving his wife by telling her, by declaring his love to her in words. MLJ provides an admirable example. HT: Geoff Thomas

"Bethan dear, you are dearer to me than ever and I feel prouder of you than ever before . . . All my love to you, my three beloved ones, and especially to the biggest of them . . . There is no one like you anywhere. The more I see of others the more obvious does this become . . . I would give all the world for you to be here with me . . . Well, my dear, dear love, the best wife and girl in all the world, receive every bit of my love . . . Thank you for your letter of this morning, though I am very angry that you should have been up until 11.30 p.m. writing it! I see that you are quite incorrigible. The idea that I shall become used to being without you is really funny. I could speak for a long time on the subject. As I have told you many, many times, the passing of the years does nothing but deepen and intensify my love for you. When I think of those days in London in 1925 and ’26, when I thought that no greater love was possible, I could laugh. But honestly during this last year I had come to believe that it was not possible for a man to love his wife more than I loved you. And yet I see there is no end to love, and that it is still true that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ I am quite certain that there is no lover, anywhere, writing to his girl who is quite as mad about her as I am."

That is Martyn Lloyd-Jones writing to his wife in 1939.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Recalling former days

Many thanks to all of you kind enough to express your dismay at the loss of my laptop (stolen in Newark airport last Friday). I have re-lived the moment a thousand times since. It's not the hardware; it is the fact that I had not backed it up since the May 11! I won't bore you now with the incalculable losses of work I have suffered as a consequence. I have seriously been contemplating an early retirement!

Thanks, too, for you kind words on becoming a grandfather, or, as one of you insists "It's grand-daddy in the South!"

I'll blog some more when I re-surface!
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Swallowing Sunday Whole



It was ugly, really ugly; five straight games, a sweep, the second Boston Massacre. And to the Yankees, the Evil Empire, the embodiment of all that is wrong with sports. Wait till next year! (For the unenlightened, the Yankees swept the Red Sox in five games last weekend all but knocking them out of post-season contention. This is all too familiar to a fourth generation Sox fan.) I must compose myself. Time to move on the college football—Hook ’em Horns.

Two years ago Rick Reilly, of Sports Illustrated fame, wrote an article for his regular S.I. column, “The Life of Reilly,” entitled, “Let Us Pray Play.” Did you see it? This is certainly not the way I would articulate the issue, but the fact that anyone from S.I. would even consider the Sunday-sports problem is surprising. With football on its way, this is an appropriate moment to look back on his perspective.

Another Easter Sunday in the Cathedral. Hushed voices. Amens. People holding hands and praying. At the end, all of them rising as one and screaming, "My God, it's a miracle!"

Church?

No. Augusta National. It was Phil Mickelson's win at the Masters.

Sports has nearly swallowed Sunday whole. Every pro sport plays on Sunday. The big day in pro golf and tennis is Sunday. College football started playing bowl games on Sunday. Here's March Madness: 10 NCAA tournament games were played on Sunday. Now more and more youth sports teams are playing on Sunday, when the fields are easier to get and parents are available to drive.

It's that kind of stuff that has really torqued off Pope John Paul II lately. In March he decried the fact that Sundays are losing their "fundamental meaning" to "such things as entertainment and sport." It's not as if he's antijock. The pope was a goalkeeper, skier and kayaker in his day. Hey, he just blessed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's right arm. He's just hacked at the way sport is crowding God right off the list of Sunday passions.

The first people he might want to crack down on are the Christians themselves. Think he knows that the Santa Clarita (Calif.) YMCA has youth hoops on Sundays? Think the pope would be down on Notre Dame if he knew its softball team will play more games on Sundays in May than on any other day of the week?

He's not the only one who's chapped about sports becoming this country's main religion. Priests and pastors across the country have noticed something lately: God is competing more and more with Sunday sports -- and losing. Especially with youth sports.

"It's only happened the last two years," says Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals. "Coaches never used to schedule games on Sunday."

Says the Reverend Julie Yarborough of Summit (N.J.) Christ Church, "You see kids coming to Sunday school late and their parents coming early to get them for games -- if they come at all. Sports is really eating into our time."

Her colleague at Christ Church, the Reverend Charles Rush, knew there was a problem the other day when his 12-year-old acolyte lit the candles at the front of the church wearing his soccer cleats.

I'll tell you exactly what's going on here: the upping of American youth sports.

For some reason overcaffeinated parents feel they have to keep up with the Joneses. They used to do it with their cars. Now they do it with their kids. Upping means putting little Justin into not one soccer league but three, not one soccer camp but four.

Upping also means playing up, forcing a kid to play one or even two levels above his age group, so that little Benjamin, age eight, can sit on the 10-year-olds' bench, play three minutes a game and whiff in his only at bat. But, hey, he is playing up!

And upping means moving up. The local team isn't high-profile, so little Amber has to switch to an elite team, usually in another town. That means extended drives to and from practice plus traveling three or four or six hours to play in tony invitational tournaments on weekends. This way parents from far-flung towns can flaunt the status symbol of spending beautiful warm weekends in a freezing ice rink watching 14 mind- and butt-numbing hockey games.

"I admit, we're guilty from time to time," John Burrill, head of the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association, says of playing on Sundays. "We don't feel particularly good about it, but with today's busy schedules Sunday is the only time some of us have to do these things. And if you're going to travel two states away, it doesn't make sense to not play Sunday, too."

Well, religion bosses have decided that they're not going to take it anymore. Spiritual leaders in Summit got together recently and appealed for sports leagues to stop scheduling games before noon on Sunday. A meeting between them and area youth coaches is set for May. We'll see who kneels first.

Don't bet on coaches doing the right thing. If they could, they'd have your kids running stairs on Christmas morning. What has to happen is the parents have to start saying no. Not to their kids -- to their kids' coaches. "I told my boy's coach he wouldn't be playing on Sundays," says Cizik, "and he looked shocked. I said, 'You act like nobody's ever said that to you before.' And he said, 'Honestly? They haven't.'"

I'm with the holy men. Not that I'm the Reverend Lovejoy, but I just feel sorry for these kids who get nothing but organized sports crammed down their gullets 24/7. My Lord, even God took a day off.

Kids might weep with joy to get a day off from sports. If they don't spend it at church, maybe they'll spend it getting to know their siblings' names again. Or swing in a hammock without a coach screaming, "Get your hips into it, Samantha!"

Hey, you do what you want. Just remember, when little Shaniqua has two free throws to win or lose a game on some Sunday morning, good luck finding somebody who'll answer your prayers.


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Monday, August 21, 2006

Chip Stam - on Wretches

My friend Chip Stam prepares a great resource called Worship Quote of the Week (WQOTW) - click here and sign up!. His blurb this week got me thinking. Remember when Robert Schuller protested the original words of "Amazing Grace" saying that John Newton was a wretch (because he was a former slave trader) but that singing negative words like "wretch"gives Christians low self-esteem?!

Or maybe you've heard someone accuse Newton and Watts of "worm" theology (because we sing in Watt's great hymn "Alas and did My Savior Bleed" - "would he devote his sacred head, for such a worm as I?" Well, of course, Watts and Newton aren't guilty as charged! They are simply reminding us of the Bible's teaching on total depravity.

Chip explains in this weeks WQOTW, with a nice quote from John Stott:

Have you ever come across an altered version of "Amazing Grace" that used the phrase, "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a soul like me"? [Instead of that saved a wretch like me, as John Newton originally wrote.] It is easy to understand why people would want to take some of the "wretched" offense out of our confession of sin. I am sure that I am a part of the for-all-have-sinned group that the apostle Paul references; but just how sinful am I? Am I totally depraved? What does that mean, anyway?

JUST HOW SINFUL AM I?
The biblical doctrine of "total depravity" means neither that all humans are equally depraved, nor that nobody is capable of any good, but rather that no part of any human person (mind, emotions, conscience, will, etc.) has remained untainted by the fall.
—John Stott, THE MESSAGE OF EPHESIANS. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1980, p. 79.
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ephesians 5:25 Sermon Outline

God’s New Family: An Exposition of Ephesians (XLIX)
God’s Household Rules: Marriage and Family (4)
Love Your Wife (1)
Ephesians 5:25-29
Introduction (review):
1. We are studying now a section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-6:9), dealing with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. If we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world? Paul tells us here. He deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious. Our culture can’t even seem to define marriage! Much less agree upon the dynamics of husband-wife marital roles and the discipline of children.
2. "The Christian life has to be lived at home. This is the theme of the whole passage we are studying. Paul is not dealing with any other subject. . . . Paul is talking about our homes. Why does he spends so much time on this subject? It is because it can be said of too many professing Christians: ‘he is a saint abroad but a devil at home.’ . . . The apostle sets his face against such inconsistency. Home is where we are known the best, misunderstood the most and are constantly open to scrutiny and criticism. But it is supremely here that the Christian life has to be lived, because it is here that the gospel is put to its severest test. If the gospel is unable to transform people at home, we must conclude that it is unable to transform people at all. Ungodly behavior here shames the gospel. He whose light shines furthest, shines brightest nearest home.’" (Olyott)
3. Today we commence a series of studies of Ephesians 5:25-29, a passage that spells out God’s expectations for Christian husbands.

4. Note the outline of Paul’s argument in this passage:
1. The Command - Love your wives (25a)
2. Analogy #1 - Like Christ loved the church (25b)
a. Purpose of Christ loving the church - to sanctify her (26)
b. Ultimate goal - the glory of the church in holiness and perfection (27)
3. Analogy #2 - Love your wife in the same way you take care of yourself (28a)
a. Elaboration #1 - in a real sense you are caring for your own self when you love your wife
b. Elaboration #2 - that means, specifically, nourishing and cherishing her (29)

5. An important preface to our study:
(1) I speak to you not as one who has arrived but as a fellow traveler.
(2) As we address God’s design for marriage and family, and for husbands and wives, we need to acknowledge complexity and variety of the issues involved and the circumstances of hearers - widows and widowers, those who have been married a long time and those who have not, those who are now or have been separated and divorced, those who are single and happy about it or single and who want to be married, those who are believers married to unbelievers or to very immature Christians, those who are in happy marriages and difficult marriages, and those who are the children, parents, siblings and friends of the above.
(3) This is about marriage in light of the Gospel, marriage in light of union with Christ, and even marriage in light of the atonement.
(4) Our study is an opportunity for change, but also an opportunity for disaster - if we leave here today or in the weeks to come saying to one another "This is how you have failed me" then there’s trouble coming. If we leave here thinking "This is how I’ve failed you, and I’m determined, by God’s grace, to grow in love and service" then there are huge possibilities for blessing. Our attitude must be: how many I serve you (not "how am I being served") and "you first" (not "me first").

God calls Christian husbands to a radical, God-originated, Gospel-based, Grace-empowered, Christ-emulating, self-denying love for our wives
— in which we seek to serve our wives and to care for our wives’ best spiritual and temporal interests

I. God’s Command to Christian Husbands: Love!
[Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church] (25)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her

A. It is interesting that God says not make sure you lead her, but rather make sure you love her (this does not, of course, contradict what we have already learned about the household order established by God. The husband is, as head, to give spiritual leadership in the home).
B. So what does that love look like? How are we supposed to love?
C. What is Christ’s love for the church like? Well, observe the following (Paul's explicit emphasis falls on #5 and #7, in Ephesians 5:25-29):

1. Unmerited love (Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
2. Intense love (Luke 22:15) And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
3. Unending love (John 13:1) Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
4. Unselfish love (Philippians 2:6-7) although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
5. Purposeful love (Ephesians 5:26-27) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
6. Manifested love (John 16:33) "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
7. Sacrificial love (John 15:13) "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
[Thanks to Wayne Mack in Strengthening Your Marriage for many of these seven ideas and references]

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

John Piper on the Practical Outworking of Male Headship in a Christian Home

When a man senses a primary God-given responsibility for the spiritual life of the family, gathering the family for devotions, taking them to church, calling for prayer at meals — when he senses a primary God-given responsibility for the discipline and education of the children, the stewardship of money, the provision of food, the safety of the home, the healing of discord, that special sense of responsibility is not authoritarian or autocratic or domineering or bossy or oppressive or abusive. It is simply servant-leadership. And I have never met a wife who is sorry she is married to a man like that. Because when God designs a thing (like marriage) he designs it for his glory and our good.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Susan Beisner Plays Great Hymn Tunes on Piano

My young friend, the very talented Susan Beisner (daughter of Cal Beisner of Knox Seminary), is releasing a CD entitled, Listen While We Sing: 88 Hymns Accompanied. It's the first of four, piano-only renditions of favorite, great hymns. Whether you are a parent trying to incorporate hymn-singing into regular family worship, a young ministerial candidate trying to become more familiar with the great hymns of the church, a Christian looking for an aid to private devotion, or a music leader looking for a tool to train people in the great hymn tunes, you will find this 4-CD set an aid and blessing.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Weezie, Barbara, Anna, Sarah and Nate . . . and the Heroes of the Faith

This summer on Wednesday nights, our children have been studying about Christian heroes. One Wednesday night, they followed Gladys Aylward as she safely led Chinese orphan children to safety during the war. Yet another night, they were in prison with John Bunyan as he continued to preach the gospel within the prison walls. While there, he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, the best selling book of all time after the Bible. Learning and being inspired by real Christian heroes who have gone before them, the children sang songs, made crafts, heard stories, and make a take home notebook filled with all the heroes about whom they have studied. Throughout the summer Wednesday nights, over 75 different children availed themselves of this opportunity. Next summer we will pick back up with 12 more heroes of the faith, hoping all the while that we are creating some heroes of the faith from our very own.

We thank God for the wonderful folks who led this great study for our children - Weezie Polk, Barbara Porter, Anna Henson, Sarah Riles and Nate Shurden (and their great helpers - Boopie Beard, Susan Livingston, Katy Guthrie, Brad Riles and Sharon Teh). Take a moment and express your appreciation to them.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Life Well Lived: Giving Yourself "Clear Away"


Monument to Jonathan Edwards erected by his family in Stockbridge, MA.

Last Monday night before our monthly Session meeting Ligon read the following excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' diary. It served as a sober blessing to our officers. Edwards wrote this entry on Saturday morning, January 12, 1723.

"I have this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed, when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members — no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing, as my own. I gave myself to God, in my baptism, and I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him; so that for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, in no respect whatever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace, I will not. I have this morning told him, that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his Law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight, with all my might, against the world, the flesh and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult, the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit, as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort and assist me. This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now, as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me, or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. "

Check out Yale's video blog on the recent landmark publication of Edwards' "Blank Bible."
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Travel reading

"Biblical religion is essentially heart religion; real Christianity, as the puritan Richard Baxter constantly insisted, is "heart-work." Observance of what Puritans called "duties"--prescribed behavioral procedures, like the practice of prayer--only please God when done for his honor and glory, done, that is, out of what Jesus called "an honest and good heart" (Lk. 8:15), meaning a God-centered motivation, humble, thankful and adoring. Jesus taught that keeping the great commandment starts with the heart--"you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mk 12:30)--and he designates the supreme blessing of seeing God for the pure in heart (Mt 5:8), while castigating the Pharisees for formal religiosity without a God-attuned heart, and assuring them that "God knows your hearts... [W]hat is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Lk 16:15). All is wrong if the heart is not right."

(Taken from J. I. Packer latest book, Praying).
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Modern Israel: How did we get here?

As expected, many people are asking "how did we get into this mess in the Middle East?" There is no such thing as an unbiased answer, and I have some fundamental differences with some of the information on this link, but you may find it helpful on the basics of modern Israel.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ephesians 5:22-24 Outline

God’s New Family: An Exposition of Ephesians (XLVIII)
God’s Household Rules: Marriage and Family (3)
Obey?! Submit? You’ve got to be kidding! (2)

Ephesians 5:22-24
Introduction (review):
1.
We are studying now a section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-6:9), dealing with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. If we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world? Paul tells us here. He deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious. Our culture can’t even seem to define marriage! Much less agree upon the dynamics of husband-wife marital roles and the discipline of children.
2. Stuart Olyott nicely catches the flow of argument from Ephesians 4-6 when he says: "The apostle Paul has made it clear that Christians live differently from other people. When they are together, their behaviour contrasts sharply with the social behaviour of the unconverted (4:1-16). When they are surrounded by the men and women of the world in daily life, their conduct remains distinct (4:17-5:21). Paul is now going to tell us that they also live in a radically different way at home (5:22-6:9). It is fairly easy to live the Christian life at church. It is much more difficult to do so in the world. But the hardest place of all to live as a Christian is at home. This is why the apostle comes to this subject last of all." (Olyott)
3. Paul transitions us into this whole discussion of life in the Christian home and family, by calling every Christian to what he calls mutual subjection. This mutual subjection is (1) Corporate: The filling of the Spirit is manifested not individualistically, but in the context of fellowship. (2) Radical: Grace-based, Gospel-empowered, Cross-centered, self-denying, other-serving, joyful, deliberate, willing subjection – In it, we commit ourselves to the service of others, are willing to be the least (Matt 18:1-4; 20:28), to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17), to prefer others ahead of ourselves (Romans 12:10), to do nothing from selfish ambition but from humility (Phil 2:3), to be willing to cooperate, to be "arranged under" others, not insisting on getting our own way, but placing ourselves at one another’s disposal, living so that our mutual service becomes a way of life and thus a matter of public witness; "There must be a willingness in the Christians fellowship to serve any, to learn from any, to be corrected by any..."; (3) Christ-modeled and motivated – we live it out of sheer awe/esteem/fear of the greatest Servant.
4. Last week, in Ephesians 5:22, we began to tackle the very politically incorrect teaching of the Bible on wives submitting, or subjecting themselves to their husbands.
5. We began by noting that all Christians are called to serve one another, to subject themselves to one another. Then we noted the unique aspects of God’s call in this area to Christian wives.
6. Important note: Some theologians, called egalitarians, will say that God does not call wives to submit to their husbands, but rather he merely calls for mutual submission of husbands to wives and wives to husbands without any specified order in the relationship. Wrong. We’ll demonstrate this conclusively from this passage.
7. We found John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s definition of this helpful – "Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband's guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits "out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband (e.g., 1 Peter 3:1, where she does not yield to her husband's unbelief), she can still have a spirit of submission - a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony." (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)
8. Today, we return to Ephesians 5:22-24 to get even more specific on this uncomfortable issue.
Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Introduction:
1. God commands nothing but which is good for his people, and this generally principle is not forsaken even in this area.
2. More marriages are broken because of a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s design for marriage, and an accompanying failure to embrace and manifest the biblical role responsibilities of husband and wife, than because of adultery.
3. Today, I want you to consider the command, the context and the comprehensive scope of this exhortation to Christian wives.

I. God calls Christian wives to a sincere respect, and a glad and willing submission to their husbands (22-24) [The Command]
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [cf. 5:33b "the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."]

II. God says there is an analogy between the Christian husband’s relation to the wife, and Christ’s relation to the church (23) [The Context]
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

III. God says that Christian wives have the Gospel challenge and joyous privilege being subject to their husbands like the church is to Christ (24) [The Comprehensive Scope]
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Your teen, his/her iPod and Sex

Read about it here. I'm not so interested in the issue of causation as that of connection. It just makes sense that listening to sexually immoral lyrical content does not prepare one for sexual purity in this raunchy world.
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

More on Joseph Scriven!



Just happened to be having lunch near Banbridge today and called by Joseph Scriven's place of birth (see below). Of course, had I thought about it, I would have worn a different shirt!
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What A Friend We Have in Jesus!



Joseph Medlicott Scriven
(September 10, 1819 - August 10, 1886)


Joseph Scriven, author of the hymn, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus', died on this day in 1886. Born in Banbridge, Northern Ireland (a few miles where I am currently staying). He is buried in Canada.

Joseph Scriven was the son of Captain John Scriven (Royal Marines) who was a church warden in Seapatrick Parish. He was also one of the vestrymen appointed to build a bridge over the Bann for the convenience of worshippers in the old church.

When Joseph was 16 he registered with Trinity College in Dublin. He left after two years to enter the Addiscombe Military College which trained young gentlemen as cadets for the East India Company. Joseph did not have a strong constitution and he decided he was not made for the rigours of military life and he left this after two years. He returned to Trinity College, achieved a BA and began tutoring families around Ireland.

His life was somewhat tragic. After his fiance√É©e was killed on the eve of their wedding by falling from a horse into the River Bann, Joseph emigrated to Canada where he became engaged for a second time.

Shortly before he was due to get married, Eliza Roche, his bride to be, died from a chill caught after having beenbaptizedd into thebrethrenn Faith. It was after this that he wrote the famous hymn whose first verse says, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our grief and sins to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." It was written to bring comfort. It still does.
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry,
everything to God in Prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
everything to God in Prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
take it to the Lord in prayer;
in his arms He'll take and shield thee,
thou wilt find a solace there.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Life Well Lived: Charity and Its Fruits (9)

"Have we not often been angry?"

Jonathan Edwards

Love "is not easily provoked" (1 Cor. 13:5).

From lecture nine: "The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of an Angry or Wrathful Spirit."


"Families are societies the most closely united of all; and their members are in the nearest relation, and under the greatest obligations to peace, and harmony, and love. And yet what has been your spirit in the family? Many a time have you not been fretful, and angry, and impatient, and peevish, and unkind to those whom God has made in so great a measure dependent on you, and who are so easily made happy or unhappy by what you do or say — by your kindness or unkindness? And what kind of anger have you indulged in the family? Has it not often been unreasonable and sinful, not only in its nature, but in its occasions, where those with whom you were angry were not in fault, or when the fault was trifling or unintended, or where, perhaps, you were yourself in part to blame for it? and even where there might have been just cause, has not your wrath been continued, and led you to be sullen, or severe, to an extent that your own conscience disapproved?"

"And have you not been angry with your neighbors who live by you, and with whom you have to do daily? and on trifling occasions, and for little things, have you not allowed yourself in anger toward them? In all these points it becomes us to examine ourselves, and know what manner of spirit we are of, and wherein we come short of the spirit of Christ."

"Very often those that are most ready to be angry with others, and to carry their resentments highest for their faults, are equally or still more guilty of the same faults."


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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Adoniram Judson


Tomorrow, August 9 in 1788, Adoniram Judson, "The Apostle of Burma." was born in Maiden, Massachusetts. Following seminary education at Andover Seminary, Judson set sail for Burma. From 1824 to 1826, during the war of England with Burma, Judson suffered almost incredible hardships. He was imprisoned for seventeen months in the jails of Ava and Oung-pen-la, being bound during nine months of this period, with three, and during two months with no less than five, pairs of fetters. His sufferings from fever, excruciating heat, hunger, repeated disappointments, and the cruelty of his keepers, form one of the most thrilling narratives in the annals of modern missionary trial. He is best remembered as the translator of the Bible into Burmese.

His Rules for Holiness are well known and make for interesting and challenging reading:

Rules adopted on Sunday, April 4, 1819, the era of commencing public ministrations among the Burmans; revised and re-adopted on Saturday, December 9, 1820, and on Wednesday, April 25, 1821.

1. Be diligent in secret prayer, every morning and evening.
2. Never spend a moment in mere idleness.
3. Restrain natural appetites within the bounds of temperance and purity. "Keep thyself pure."
4. Suppress every emotion of anger and ill will.
5. Undertake nothing from motives of ambition, or love of fame.
6. Never do that which, at the moment, appears to be displeasing to God.
7. Seek opportunities of making some sacrifice for the good of others, especially of believers, provided the sacrifice is not inconsistent with some duty.
8. Endeavor to rejoice in every loss and suffering incurred for Christ's sake and the gospel's, remembering that though, like death, they are not to be willfully incurred, yet, like death, they are great gain.

Re-adopted the above rules, particularly the 4th, on Sunday, August 31, 1823.

Re-adopted the above rules, particularly the 1st, on Sunday, October 29, 1826, and adopted the following minor rules:

1. Rise with the sun.
2. Read a certain portion of Burman every day, Sundays excepted.
3. Have the Scriptures and some devotional book in constant reading.
4. Read no book in English that has not a devotional tendency.
5. Suppress every unclean thought and look.

Revised and re-adopted all the above rules, particularly the second of the first class, on Sunday, March 11, 1827.

God grant me grace to keep the above rules, and ever live to His glory, for Jesus Christ's sake.
A. JUDSON.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Governor Haley Barbour to speak to FPC Men

Men, mark your calendars!

Men of the Covenant Luncheon Series
2006-2007 Kick-Off
Thursday, September 7th
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Men, please make plans to join us for this kick-off to our Men of the Covenant Luncheon Series. We will be blessed to have Governor Haley Barbour as our speaker, and this is an excellent opportunity to invite coworkers and friends as we begin a new series on “Men and the Message: Pursuing Christ-like Leadership.” Mr. Barbour comes to us from Yazoo City as Mississippi’s 63rd Governor.

The cost of the luncheon is $5.00. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Hall in the Discipleship Office at 601-973-9118 or ashleyh@fpcjackson.org
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ephesians 5:22 Outline

God’s New Family: An Exposition of Ephesians (XLVII)
God’s Household Rules: Marriage and Family (2)
Obey?! Submit? You’ve got to be kidding! (1)

Ephesians 5:22-24
Introduction (review):
1. Since Ephesians 4:17, Paul has been exhorting us to live distinctly as Christians, and not like the world. In the section we just finished studying, Ephesians 5:5-21, he’s emphasized four reasons or motivations or incentives for our pursuit of holiness, our quest for godliness.
2. The last part of that section (Ephesians 5:18-21) records Paul’s fourth and final appeal to us to live the Christian life (rounding out [1] the anticipation of the final judgment; [2] our new identity in Christ; and [3] wisdom) is based upon the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, indeed upon the ongoing filling of the believer by the Holy Spirit.
3. We have stressed that there is no factor more important in our quest for godliness than the filling of the Holy Spirit.
4. Note: by "filling of the Spirit," Paul means here (in Ephesians 5:18b) to an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all believers, which has the effect of assuring and maturing, forming character, making the heart a suitable habitation for Christ, and producing Spiritual fruit. Paul wants and expects all believers to experience this ongoing filling, to long for it and to depend on it.
5. Now, in Ephesians 5:18, in addition to Paul’s imperative that we be filled with the Spirit, there were five participles following in 19-21, in which Paul describes the effects of the filling of the Spirit: (1) speaking, (2) singing, (3) making melody, (4) giving thanks and (5) being subject (or submitting) to one another. Last week, we concentrated on the last participle, and the last verse in this section, in order to pave the way for a new series on a new section of Ephesians - Ephesians 5:22-6:9.
6. Ephesians 5:21 contains the last of the five participles (Hupotass√≥menoi – subjecting yourselves) that Paul used to describe what a Christian who is being filled with the Spirit looks like. It also provides his segue into the discussion of husbands and wives mutual obligations and roles, as well as those of parents and children, and masters and servants. Remember how the verse goes? – "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." We have already said that this means that Paul expects Spirit-filled Christians (and that’s all of us, not just some special few) to manifest a Gospel-empowered, Cross-centered, self-denying, mutual service for the purpose of mutual edification, out of reverence for Christ.
7. In fact, we said: There is no better index of a life under the influence of the Holy Spirit, being guided by the Holy Spirit, being filled up or matured by the Holy Spirit than what Paul calls "mutual subjection."
8.
As we enter into a new section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians today (Ephesians 5:22-6:9), you will immediately realize that this passage deals with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. If we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world? Paul tells us here. He deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious. Our culture can’t even seem to define marriage! Much less agree upon the dynamics of husband-wife marital roles and the discipline of children.
9. Stuart Olyott nicely catches the flow of argument from Ephesians 4-6 when he says: "The apostle Paul has made it clear that Christians live differently from other people. When they are together, their behaviour contrasts sharply with the social behaviour of the unconverted (4:1-16). When they are surrounded by the men and women of the world in daily life, their conduct remains distinct (4:17-5:21). Paul is now going to tell us that they also live in a radically different way at home (5:22-6:9). It is fairly easy to live the Christian life at church. It is much more difficult to do so in the world. But the hardest place of all to live as a Christian is at home. This is why the apostle comes to this subject last of all." (Alive in Christ)
10. When we looked at the subject of mutual subjection last week, we noted three things in particular: It is -- (1) Corporate: The filling of the Spirit is manifested not individualistically, but in the context of fellowship. (2) Radical: Grace-based, Gospel-empowered, Cross-centered, self-denying, other-serving, joyful, deliberate, willing subjection – In it, we commit ourselves to the service of others, are willing to be the least (Matt 18:1-4; 20:28), to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17), to prefer others ahead of ourselves (Romans 12:10), to do nothing from selfish ambition but from humility (Phil 2:3), to be willing to cooperate, to be "arranged under" others, not insisting on getting our own way, but placing ourselves at one another’s disposal, living so that our mutual service becomes a way of life and thus a matter of public witness; "There must be a willingness in the Christians fellowship to serve any, to learn from any, to be corrected by any . . ." (3) Christ-modeled and motivated – we live it out of sheer awe/esteem/fear of the greatest Servant
11. One caveat: the command of mutual subjection can be used as a terrible playground by controlling people, or can become a killing field for other-directed people or those with a tendency to over-responsibility. So, for the record: (1) Mutual subjection does not mean that you can never say no, or refuse a request; (2) Mutual subjection is not about somebody else getting to run your life; (3) Sometimes mutual subjection requires us to say no (it is not about enabling the evil, irresponsible, abusive or inconsiderate); (4) Mutual subjection does not take our personal choices, prior obligations, the realities of our schedule, our own distinct gifting or prudential wisdom out of the picture. No, all those things must be taken into consideration, and then we decide how best to express our joyful, willing service to our brothers and sisters; and (5) Now, all that being said though, there are also many times when we feel like saying no, that we should say yes!

Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Introduction (post-lectio):
1. ". . . will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to live with him after God's commandments in the holy estate of marriage? And will you love him, honor and obey him, so long as you both shall live?"

I. God calls Christian wives to a sincere respect, and a glad and willing submission to their husbands (22-24) [The Command]
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [cf. 5:33b "the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."]

A. Command: wives respect your husbands, acknowledge and submit to their spiritual leadership of the home.
1. Practically this means recognition of the divinely given order of the household. God has made the husband head.
2. Practically, thus, this means recognition of one’s own husband’s authority, under God.
3. It also requires a voluntary, sacrificial, self-giving, long-suffering (because he’s a sinner!) loyalty to one’s husband
B. Definition -- Quotation: "Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband's guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits "out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband (e.g., 1 Peter 3:1, where she does not yield to her husband's unbelief), she can still have a spirit of submission - a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony." (Piper and Grudem)
C. Negative Definition -- What submission is not
1. Submission is not putting the husband in the place of Christ as if the husband is some sort of absolute authority. Christian husbands are accountable to God, the Bible, the Government and the Church for their conduct.
2. Submission does not mean giving up independent thought. [Isn’t it interesting here that Paul does not say, "Husbands, I want you to go back home and tell those women they better submit." Peter says, "Sisters, dear sisters in Christ, I’m speaking to you directly. I’m not asking your parents to pass this along to you. I’m not asking your husbands to pass it along to you. I’m speaking to you directly. Here’s how I want you to relate to your husbands." And so, he expects them to be able to think for themselves, to understand what he’s saying. He treats them like disciples. He’s not saying that you’ve got to shut your mind off and let your husband think for you. He goes directly to the wives and says, "Now here’s how I want you to relate to your husbands." He is expecting independent thinking from these women.]
3. Submission does not mean that a wife should give up her efforts to influence and guide her husband.
4. Submission does not mean that a wife should give into every demand of her husband.
5. Submission is not based on a woman having less intelligence or competence.
6. Submission does not mean being fearful and timid and cowering for a husband who can strike out in an arbitrary fashion at any point.

D. This, "to your own husbands," is a call for the voluntary submission of wife to husband, not of women in general to all mem in general. Whatever implications there may be from the creation order, Paul is concentrating on the marriage and home here.

E. Why wives first?: (a) for the protection of the order/structure of the home, (b) because of the new freedom they have in Christ (?)

F. Context: "as to the Lord" What Paul is explaining is: what it means to call Christ Lord for a married woman. According to Paul "there is no possibility of a married woman’s surrender to a heavenly Christ which is not made visible and actual by some submission to an earthly husband."
Further comments on submission (following Stott):
1. The wife is being asked here to give a particular expression of a general Christian duty.
2. The wife’s submission is to be given to someone who loves her.
3. In fact, the wife’s submission is to be given to someone who loves her like Christ has loved.
4. The husband’s love and self-sacrifice for his wife’s well-being is his expression of the Christian duty of mutual subjection.
5. The wife’s subjection/submission is an expression of and an aspect of Christian love.

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Ephesians 5:22 !

"Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband's guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits "out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband (e.g., 1 Peter 3:1, where she does not yield to her husband's unbelief), she can still have a spirit of submission - a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony." (Piper and Grudem)
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Bridge is Open!

You can cross from the Study Center into the Nursery, Youth House and Main Office Building indoors again! The new bridge is open and functional (even though still as yet incomplete - the tile floor is not down yet and there's still painting and finish work to be done).

So, enjoy the new wide space and the convenience of going from the Temporary Sanctuary to the Nursery (and back!) indoors.
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Grandparenting at a distance

I was speaking at the Cedar Falls Bible Conference in Iowa (no, it's not heaven!) along with Mike Horton and Jerry Bridges when the announcement came via text message: "It's a girl". My first grandchild: "Hannah May." I had placed my Treo on the podium above my Bible and was able to announce to the folks the good news. They applauded! Now, I'm discovering new resources:

Like this one, at the Christianity Today website on the gift of grandparenting!

And this one, on grandparenting at a distance! This one sounds so much fun!

It opens up a whole new world! If I had known it was going to be this much fun, I'd have started with grandchildren first!
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Are you a toxic parent?

Your teenager is headed to a party at a friend's house, but it's all right because the friend's parents will be there. Right? Well . . . . Don't miss this article in the Washington Post.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Wedding Anniversary Thought


Yesterday as you read this (today, as I write it) was our 30th Wedding Anniversary. As it happens, Rosemary is in Ireland and I am in Iowa. We catch up again on Saturday in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a few days before our first grandchild is due. But all this to say, I'm in reflective mood, looking back with great joy at thirty years of almost uninterrupted bliss. So allow me to use this public forum to say something to one I love (I know she reads this page every day, and it will be fun!)

Rosemary,

Have I told you that you're the only girl I ever kissed? Yes, I know I have! Many times! Well, I've kissed a few ladies old enough to be my mother, but that's not the same! You were, and remain, the only one I wanted to marry and grow old with. But even that's not turning out as I thought since I'm the one that's growing old and you seem to get younger! Why is it that men turn ugly and women grow more beautiful? It doesn't seem quite fair to me, but since I don't look at myself too much, I think I win out on this one.

It was thirty years ago I said "I will" and "I do" and "Till death us do part". I remember every minute of it. The organist had only played about 5 bars of "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" and you were right there--radiant!

I never thought marriage would be so much fun! No one told me it would get better and better, but it does.

President Ronald Reagan wrote to the First Lady, on his 31st anniversary, "I told you once it was like an adolescent's dream of what a marriage should be like. That hasn't changed." I can say the same.

You make me look far better than I am.
You never stop loving our children ("fussing over them" as I often say, "like a broody hen").

The Lord has given me in you a treasure, that I in no way deserve.

As we await our first grandchild, these are the words in my heart: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all" (Prov. 31:29).

PS: I'm sorry that the Braves are playing so terribly again!

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