Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Adam, Where Are You? (3 of 3 Parts)

In this post I will address four areas where the man is supposed to work out his role as a leader in his family. These four applications follow the example that Christ demonstrates in loving the church.

The first is this, you should take the lead in seeking and strengthening your own relationship with God.

Hold it Bob, shouldn’t the wife pursue God on her own. Yes, we all need to pursue God, but husbands, YOU are responsible to make sure that your wife and children are pursuing God. How can you teach them the deep things of God unless you go deeper into God yourself? Are you teaching youself about the love of God so that you can teach them about it and more importantly demonstrate the love of Christ for his church?

You must pray in order to be equipped and to teach your family about prayer. You must go to the Word daily if you will convince your family of the daily need of God’s Word. How does Christ love his church, his bride? Christ is working to present the church without blemish, he is making her pure. We are to do the same with our wives. Husband, are you concerned with your wife’s purity. Is God using you as a means to her sanctification. He’s certainly placed you in that role.

Perhaps you have a wife who is growing spiritually and in fact has outpaced you in your sanctification. That’s awesome, that’s wonderful. But the son of Adam will say, “I’ll let her be the spiritual leader, I’ll just provide the food and take care of the bills.” Adam, where are you? That response is not biblical and it’s not satisfying to you or your wife.

You, man in Christ, go hard after God and your family will reap the benefits.

And so the second application grows out of the first, you should take the lead in shaping the spiritual life of the family. As you train yourself to think biblically it is your responsibility to teach your family to think biblically. The bible addresses the issues of money, of dating, of what should occupy our time, of how we should treat others. Every place that the scripture touches on any topic is an opportunity to learn how to think biblically about that topic.

Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Bring them up! Fathers, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Children do not raise themselves. Martin Luther said, “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

Deut 6: 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Children do not learn to think biblically on their own. It takes diligence and effort on the part of parents. But the father is held responsible to make sure instruction is taking place. We parents are not responsible for what our kids do with our instruction but we are responsible for their learning how to think biblically.

The third application, is the head the husband should take the lead in gathering the family for prayer and Scripture reading and worship.

A fews days ago Teresa said on the phone that we need to get back into our evening devotional time. We have a book that I try to pull out at supper each evening and we have a short devotional and a scripture and talk about it. She reminded me, gently, that we fell out of our intended habit. She was supporting my role as spiritual leader. That evening she placed the book and my Bible beside my dinner plate. Not in a condescending manner although I may have felt threatened for a moment.

I can give you lot’s of excuses about why we fell out of or haven’t established the habit of daily pursuing God as a family. Someone said, “Excuses are like armpits, everyone has a couple and they both stink”. In my old nature I was Adam’s son. Like Adam I was standing by passively when there were important decisions not being made and responsibilies not being met. Teresa submits to my headship as the church submits to Christ but Christ is infallilble - I am not. I need her help and her reminders when I fail.

When I fail there is only one response to this. Repentance! I have gone to God and repented that I have been lazy. I have apologized to my wife.

John Piper counsels married couples that the devotional life of a couple is the soul of a marriage. Husbands and wives praying together is the source of healing in areas that we don’t even know are hurting. The most compelling reason that convinces me that this is true and foundational is that it is the hardest thing for me to do and that doesn’t make sense.

It’s weird, it feels awkward. In the morning while I’m driving to work I will think, “I will pray with Teresa tonight before we go to sleep”. Then night comes and the kids are tucked in and I’m tired and I just want to go to sleep. I will finally satisfy my guilt by saying, ‘well, we can start tomorrow night’. Adam, where are you? Just do it! Confess your failure. Does fear stop you? Does pride stop you? Those are such scrawny little enemies. Be a man, do it.

The last application I MUST emphasize because it is the one most obvious in Christ’s love for the church.

Husbands, take the lead in reconcilation. This doesn’t mean that wives should never say they are sorry. But look at the example of Christ.

Who took the initiative to make things new in his relationship with the church?
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Who left left his throne to come and bring mercy to sinners?
Phil. 2:5 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Peter denied Jesus three times, who made the first move toward reconciliation? Mark 16: 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Has the Lord ever come to you after you have failed him. Being the head of the family doesn’t mean you can wait for your wife to come to you. You take the lead. Let’s summarize -

Take the lead in seeking and strengthening your own relationship with God,
take the lead in shaping the spiritual life of your family,
take the lead in gathering the family for prayer and Scripture reading and worship,
take the lead in reconcilation.

These things take grace, they take humility, they take courage, they take the Spirit of Christ working through a godly man. Save oh Lord, save us through godly men.

Adam, Where Are You? (2 of 3 Parts)

In this post we will turn to Ephesians 5 and enter boldly into God’s Word without tiptoeing, without making apologies and I know we will find something so liberating for men and women that we will be inspired to be changed by God’s Word instead of kowtowing to our twisted culture. Perhaps we can shake off the PASSIVITY that we have been too long encouraged to accept and too content to embrace.

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ok, now the first verse we read is where most people like to stop. “21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

One of my bible profs from college wrote a book in which he comments on this verse. Gilbert Bilezikian writes in his book Beyond Sex Roles, “By definition, mutual submission rules out hierarchical differences.”

In other words, there are no SPECIAL responsibilites in marriage We have the same, mutual responsibilities and need to work together to nurture one another. There is no LEADER. In all due respect Dr. Bilesikian is wrong and every other preacher, counselor and talk show host who shares that opinion.

Paul does indeed say that we are to submit to one another but we submit in different ways because we have different responsibilities and the rest of this passage spells them out quite clearly. There is a HEAD, a leader and there is one who submits to that leadership. The leadership is Christ-like and the submission is church-like. Now let’s unpack this truth. Let’s define our terms.

The most heated discussions between believers usually get heated because the participants fail to define their terms. What is headship? What is submission? I turn to Pastor John Piper here. I love the concise economy of his definitions.

“Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.” Stop and read that again if you will. That is rich. Headship is not MORE and it is not LESS than that. It is not oppressive, it is not dictatorial, it means that God holds the man responsible for his wife and children. In 1920 the Brittish banker Josiah Stamp said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilites.”

“Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.” This is not an issue of who is better or who has ability. It is the divine order.

When we, men and women, hear terms like ‘headship’ and ‘submission’ our response is usually discomfort and queasiness. This response goes right back to the beginning. Eve took the lead when she should not have, Adam stood by passively instead of being a leader. We have reverted to this pattern over and over. Adam stood right there and did and said nothing while the serpent deceived his wife. What should have happened?

As soon as the crafty serpent said, “Did God really say.......?” Adam should have stepped forward and said, “Excuse me sir”, then left jab, right hook, serpent down, kick to the ribs, find a stake and drive it through his scaly head while giving the directive, “DON’T... EVER... TALK... TO MY... WIFE... AGAIN!” GAME OVER! That’s what Adam should have done. Adam was right THERE but he wasn’t THERE! He didn’t show up. Adam, where are you? Our ancestor took a passive role and to this day his son’s must fight the urge to follow his wimpiness. Eve took the lead and to this day her daughter’s want to step into the role that the son’s of Adam left vacant.

But men, if the first Adam was a wimp let me remind you the second Adam was not. Adam was passive, Jesus is active in making all things new. I pray that you are in the second Adam as you read this and not still tied to the first Adam. Apart from Christ you can do nothing but IN Christ you have the opportunity to fulfill your God given role and transform your families.

Single men, you are not exempt from this message. Your church needs godly men. Some day one of the young children in your church are going to be asked if they can remember someone in their church who was godly. Perhaps a boy growing up in a home without of father who is missing through death or divorce needs an example. Will you be that godly man? Will you be that example? Where is the godly one? Are you him? Now remember, Ephesians 5 is describing order within the family. Church order is taken up in other passages of the bible. A man does not have headship over a woman who is not his wife. A woman does not need to submit to a man who is not her husband.

In the next post I will address four areas where the man is supposed to work out his role as a leader in his family. These four applications follow the example that Christ demonstrates in loving the church.
Go To Part 3

Adam, Where Are You? (1 of 3 Parts)

Over the next few posts I would like to offer a blunt challenge to men and husbands and fathers in order that we as men can bring more glory to God. We glorify our Eternal Father by pursuing godliness.

I want to begin with an urgent plea written by King David. Sometimes in our prayer life, there isn’t time to form a nice long eloquent prayer. Sometimes the urgency and tragedy of the moment requires a simple cry, “Save, O Lord! Help, Lord!

Psalm 12:1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

I read this psalm early one morning and meditated on what kinds of troubles would lead David to cry out like this. It was not even an hour later I read a news story online:

News story from the NY Post.
They’ve had 10 wives between them, but that didn’t keep Larry King and Donald Trump from being toasted as fathers of the year Tuesday.

The National Father’s Day Council feted the talk-show czar and the billionaire developer at a charity luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.
“These fathers play a vital role in the lives of their children,” said Rich Wurtzburger, chairman of the committee that selected the honorees.

He said King and Trump had shown “great dedication to raising their families.”

King, 71, is the father of six kids and has been married seven times.
Asked how a serial husband could be heralded as a great dad, Wurtzburger told The Post:
“The award here is for ‘Father of the Year,’ not ‘Husband of the Year.’ You can see that he is very close to each of his kids.”

Wurtzburger was close-mouthed when asked about Trump’s dalliance with Georgia Peach Marla Maples — while he was still married to Ivana Trump and had three small kids.
“No comment. I don’t know anything about that,” he said.

1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
8 On every side the wicked prowl (or strut),
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

It was this psalm and the sad state of affairs indicated by that story that led to this series of posts.

Back to the Garden
Where are the godly men? The sweet psalmist knew the danger in society brought on by the lack of the faithful. Where are the godly men? David was not the first to ask that question. God asked this same question in the garden of Eden. Eve had been deceived by the devil in the disguise of the serpent. She chose to let her conscience be her guide and to seek knowledge apart from God’s Word. Fortunately, she was not the representative of the human race, Adam was. Adam stood there and watched and listened and then took the fruit and ate it himself.

Genesis 3:8
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

WHO sinned? Eve sinned. She sinned as soon as she began to consider that God was holding back something good from her - that God had lied. She then encouraged her husband to do the same, so they both sinned. WHO was held responsible? Well, Adam tried to hold his wife responsible and Eve tried to pass the buck to the serpent but WHO did God come looking for. The serpent? Eve? “But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Where is the godly one that I left in charge? The faithful one has vanished. There are responsibilities to be met but the one I placed here to meet them is missing?

Men, I want you to forget the role that popular culture has tried to fit you into. I want you to turn from the feminized message that even much of the church has taken the lead in teaching. I ask you to turn with me to the ONE authority, God’s Word. You are not accountable to the pattern of this world, you are accountable to the Scripture. If transformation is necessary then I plead with you, let God’s Word change you into the image that God intended for the man.

Men and women were created differently and were given specific roles. Some people teach that after the fall domination and submission came into being - that man and woman were created to be equals and sin changed the man into a domineering barbarian and the woman into a submissive doormat. That is partly true. Sin brought about a distortion in their relationship but man was created to lead and woman was created to submit to his leadership.

Now some of you are beginning to squirm. Every message I have heard preached on Ephesians 5 has been given in a defensive tone and that is sad. God established a beautiful order for all creation. An orderliness that was designed to glorify himself and benefit his creature, but we tip toe around this fact as if God had made a mistake. “Well, God is getting old you know. He’s from another generation. He’s a bit old fashioned in his thinking.”

Every good gift comes from our Father in heaven. God gives good gifts. There’s an intense alliteration. Jesus asked, “if you ask your earthly father for a loaf of bread, will he give you a rock?” No, unless he’s mentally deficient. Well, your heavenly father is not mentally deficient and he gives good gifts and he provides exactly what his creatures need. “And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”

In the next post we will turn to Ephesians 5 and enter boldly into God’s Word without tiptoeing, without making apologies and I know we will find something so liberating for men and women that we will be inspired to be changed by God’s Word instead of kowtowing to our twisted culture. Perhaps we can shake off the PASSIVITY that we have been too long encouraged to accept and too content to embrace.
Go To Part 2

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Examining Entertainment

Entertainment is a gift from 'the angel of light' to the world to pacify it on it's way to judgment.

Entertainment is a gift from the world to cultural christianity to attract the masses.

Entertainment is a gift from cultural christianity to it's converts to 'protect' them from self-examination.

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Eph. 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.