Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Love of Martyn Lloyd-Jones for His Wife

Recently, I finished preaching through The Sermon on the Mount, and, in looking back over my studies, found that my favorite commentary on this text is Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ work, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.  During my use of this commentary, I ran across a letter Lloyd-Jones wrote to his wife, Bethan, in 1939.  His obvious love for her in this letter has only served to encourage me to read his work further.  A man who takes God’s Word seriously when it says he is to cherish his wife (Ephesians 5:28-29) is a man to listen to and emulate.  Here’s a portion of that letter:

My dear Bethan, 

        Thank you for your letter of this morning, though I am very angry that you should have been up till 11:30 pm 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 this 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 that 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.  Indeed I pity those lovers who are not married…  (taken from The Christian Lover by Michael A.G. Haykin).

 

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Eric Metaxas and a Happy Discovery at Half-Price Books

While my family and I were perusing the shelves of my favorite store, Half-Price Books, last week, I came across a surprising find.  Eric Metaxas, whose name is now household for many evangelicals because of his recent and monumental biography, Bonhoeffer, apparently used to write children’s books.  Recognizing his name, I pulled Bible ABC off of one of the shelves in the kids’ section.  Naturally, I bought it and in reading it found that, while there are many Bible ABC books out there, this one takes the cake.  Not something I would expect from a guy writing 600-page biographies.

Written in poetic rhyme and illustrated with funny, eye-catching artistry, the book takes each letter of the alphabet and attributes it to the different characters of the Bible.  I didn’t know who he was going to find for “X”, but he pulled it off with King Xerxes.  Here’s one of my favorite lines: It’s good to be clean-cut and handsome, but not to be clean-cut and Samson.

Click here to get a copy from Amazon.

 

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Why Should We Ask So Many People to Pray for Us?

Have you ever wondered why we want multiple people praying for us whenever we’re going through a trial?  For many of us, I think it is because we believe what James says: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (5:16).  We know that God has chosen to work through the prayers of godly people, so we want as many godly people praying for us as possible.

Certainly, commissioning other people to pray is a good thing, but if you’re like me, then this practice can very quickly turn into a me-centered affair instead of a God-centered one – Rally the prayer warriors!  I am suffering and I need relief!  Time is of the essence!  Our trials are real and our suffering is real, but so often we allow our hardships to push God to the place of wish-granter in our prayers when he should still be seen as glorious, sovereign God of the universe.

How, then, can we keep God in his rightful place while acquiring the prayer help of many people.  How must we think?  Listen to Paul’s request of the Corinthian church after he has told them that he and Timothy are hoping in God for deliverance: You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:11).

Did you catch that?  Paul wants the Corinthian believers to pray for he and Timothy so that more people will give thanks to God whenever God answers their prayers.  Getting other people to pray for you is to give them certain details about your trial and ask them to invest their time and energy in pleading with God on your behalf.  When God answers that prayer, whether it’s exactly what was prayed for or a different blessing, then all the people who prayed for you are already primed for giving thanks to God.  They labored with you in prayer, and upon seeing the answer to that prayer, they see the fruit of that labor in the merciful, giving hand of God.  God, then, receives the praise from not one person (as when you pray alone), but dozens of people.

With this perspective, to ask many people to pray is to ask many people to praise the God who answers.

 

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What to Remember When Your Kids are Driving You Nuts

My wife and I agree, this summer has been our busiest summer to date.  Vacations, discipleship studies, counseling appointments, preaching, potty training, sickness, and getting ready for our first year of home-schooling have packed out the calendar and made it difficult to muster a sane thought at times.  As a result, lately, there has been an increase in temptation for the both of us, as parents, to be angry at our children.  You probably know how it goes.  You’re busier, so there’s more pressure to get more done in a less amount of time, so the little things your kids do seem to grate on you more than usual.

This reality has led Keri and I to discuss the things we need to remember in those times when our kids’ antics seem like an all-out assault on our contentment.  There are many things I could say here, but two points have been particularly helpful:

    1. Sometimes it’s not out-right rebellion, sometimes it’s just kids being kids – When we’re in the middle of a project and we hear a cacophony of laughing, shouting, and feet rapidly hitting the wood floor, it does not necessarily mean that your kids are executing a well-crafted plot to push you over the edge.  Kids are kids and kids play, but we often take their “kid-ness” and make it a personal attack on our authority.  It’s not always that way.  Parents, let’s remember what it was like to be kids and allow our children to have fun.  We must put limits on them, but we should not expect them to act like adults.
    2. You’re most-likely dealing with unregenerate unbelievers – Especially if you’re dealing with young children, like mine who are 5, 3, and 1, you have to operate under the reality that they have not yet been converted.  I understand that you may have children who have professed faith, but many of our children, if not all, do not have the God-given resources believers possess that help them pursue holy lives.  Therefore, parents, we should not expect our children to act like people who have trusted in Christ for salvation.  As Christians, we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), which means we have new desires and new abilities that correspond to the commandments God has given us in Scripture.  We also have the Holy Spirit living in us, making us more like Jesus.  If your kids are unbelievers, we should not expect them to act as if they have these benefits as well.  Knowing this should lead us to be patient and compassionate towards our kids, instead of angry and vindictive.

 

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How You Can Share the Gospel Through Inviting Someone to Church

A few years back the elders of Calvary Bible Church put me over our benevolence ministry.  Among other things, this means that I personally speak to each person that comes in during the week seeking some type of physical help.  While we get some new folks that come in  from time to time, most of the time this responsibility has me talking to our regulars.

One of our regulars popped in yesterday because he needed some groceries and so I began to think of how I could engage him with the gospel without it sounding too clinical or forced.  I have shared the gospel with this man a few times before, so I was also thinking of a different angle to come at him from.  He had just recently purchased a car (he has been riding the bus for the last eighteen months), so I jumped on the opportunity to invite him to church again.  I said something like, “Now that you’ve got a car, it’ll be a lot easier for you to visit us on a Sunday morning” (smooth transitions are not my forte).  He smiled and nodded, acknowledging my statement, but didn’t say anything.  So, in my mind, I began frantically thinking of where I could go next to move closer to the gospel.

Suddenly the Lord led me to think of the reason that is associated with church-going for many people – to earn brownie points with God.  This became my avenue for gospel-telling.  God was gracious in giving me the words to speak to dispel any notion of works-righteousness that may have been present in this man’s  thinking about why people attend church.  I was able to tell him that for Christians church-going is a response to what God has done for us in sending Christ to take our place on the cross.  In this way church becomes a celebration of God’s grace wherein we worship God together and hear from him through his Word.

Why did I think this was worth mentioning today?  Because I think inviting unbelievers to church is still a legitimate aspect of pointing them to Jesus, but such an invitation can often fall on deceived (or confused at best) ears.  Therefore, there is much potential for turning the church invitation itself into an opportunity to share God’s free gift of salvation.

 

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Battling the Fear of Being Useless

Last night a group of us at Calvary Bible Church finished working through the DVD series, Battling Unbelief, by John Piper.  Here is a segment that was particularly helpful for me.

 

 

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The Difference Between Nebuchadnezzar and Ruth

Our elders have given me the privilege of preaching a four-week series while our senior pastor is finishing up some school, so I’ve been taking the congregation through  my favorite stories in the book of Daniel.  This week we will be covering Daniel 4 and the fall of King Nebuchadnezzar.

I remember reading through the book of Daniel as a young believer and being a bit confused about this character and his responses to God in leading up to this point in the book.  In chapter 2, after Daniel interprets his dream for him, Nebuchadnezzar says, Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery (v. 47).  Then, in chapter 3, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are delivered from the flames of the  fiery furnace he says, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him (v. 28).

In those early days of my faith, when I got to the end of chapter 2 I thought that Nebuchadnezzar had been saved, that he had seen the power of God and would now abandon his life of paganism to follow after the one true God.  But then, as I flipped the page to the next chapter, I saw Nebuchadnezzar erecting a gigantic golden image for his people to bow down and worship.  So, thinking I must have missed something, I got to the end of chapter 3 and thought, “Surely now Nebuchadnezzar is saved, not only is he verbally blessing God, but he’s putting decrees in place so that no one in Babylon is allowed to speak ill of him.”  But then in chapter 4 we see Nebuchadnezzar walking on his balcony in a narcissistic soliloquy praising his own glory.  I wondered where I had gone wrong in my thinking.  Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get the real thing.  But why?

At this point in the book of Daniel (things change at the end of chapter 4), there is a difference between Nebuchadnezzar and let’s say… someone like Ruth.  Notice the words that Nebuchadnezzar uses when he speaks of God at the end of chapters 2 and 3: your God is God of gods and then blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Then consider the words of Ruth when she refuses to return to Moab and, instead, remains with Naomi, her mother-in-law: Your people shall be my people, and your God my God (Ruth 1:16).

Ruth is not, here, simply showing respect to the God of Israel and acknowledging his power, she is committing to him personally.  There is no intent for her to keep one foot in Moab with her pagan gods and one foot in Israel with the Lord.  Nebuchadnezzar, up to this point, had only just recognized God’s greatness; he had not submitted himself to God in faith.

Church, let us not be too quick to assume the salvation of someone who acknowledges God and even speaks very highly of him.  It is only when we, by God’s grace, deny ourselves and, in faith, forsake all others to follow God that he saves us.

 

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