Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Praise My Soul the King of Heaven

1. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King.

2. Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same forever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Glorious in His faithfulness.

3. Frail as summer’s flower we flourish
Blows the wind and it is gone
But while mortals rise and perish
God endures unchanging on
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the high eternal One

4. Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He Knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Widely as His mercy goes.

5. Angels help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise with us the God of grace.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 8

Last time I mentioned that one of the tactics for guarding ourselves against sexual immorality is to control our bodies. Let’s expand on that a little bit.

One of the key battle grounds is our mind. We are told in Romans 12:2 that we are to transformed by the renewing of our minds. This can only happen by spending time in God’s Word reading, memorizing and meditating on the Scriptures. Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. That’s why it’s so important to manage what we think. I put together a list of key verses that should be helpful in the discipline of memorization and meditation on Scripture. You can find that list here.

Philippians 4:8 is another key verse. This verse tells us that we are to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. If you struggle in this area, it might be a worthwhile effort to take a serious and honest look at the things you think about and how that compares to the categories that are mentioned in this verse.

One other verse that I think is important to mention in this context is 2 Corinthians 10:5 where we are told to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Now there’s a challenge for you!

How serious are you about living the kind of life God wants you to live? The level of your seriousness will affect the amount of effort you put into steps such as these.

More next time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 7

God gives us many weapons in our fight against sexual immorality. The battle needs to be waged on many different fronts all at the same time and that is what makes it difficult.

1. We must recognized and by faith accept the fact that by God’s grace, the devil and sin have been defeated.

Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

2. We need to have our bodies in subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27 tells us that Paul disciplines his body and brings it into subjection. That means he controlled his body and not the other way around. In Romans 6:12 Paul says that we should not allow sin to reign in our mortal body that we should obey its lusts. He then goes on to say that we should not present our members to sin to be used as weapons against us. And finally, God will not permit us to be tempted above what we are able. (1 Corinthians 10:6) That means that with God’s Spirit in us, we are able to have victory. Sin shall not have dominion over you. (Romans 6:14)

It amazes me that we as men want to be strong. We often brag about our strength and our ability to defeat others in an athletic event or in perhaps even a real war scenario. And yet, even with that macho attitude in those areas, we are wimps when it comes to allowing sin and the devil to push us over with barely an ounce of resistance on our part.

We’ll discuss a couple of other battle tactics next time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Connected Generation

As an educator for 41 years, I have been a careful observer of teen culture and how it has changed over the years. Much hasn’t changed – the desire to fit in, the tendency to engage in dangerous behavior, etc. But what has changed is the amount of time teens spend connected to each other and digital media through their cell phones, ipods, and computers. Obviously these devices didn’t exist for teens thirty years ago and so one could argue that my observation is a rather obvious one and not really worth much.

I’ve been involved in computing technology since it came into the school over thirty years ago and in fact I was the one who introduced computers to our high school. But what has taken me completely by surprise is the way teens of embraced the new technology in the last few years and have become connected to each other and the world 24/7.

The degree to which kids are connected presents a challenge to teachers and parents alike. But there is an important dimension to this that I think we as Christian men need to consider and that is the implications for us as Christians when we consider what is lost when more and more time is being devoted to online communication. I would encourage you to read Dr. Albert Mohler’s recent article and listen to his radio broadcast on this subject. He is responding to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that the average teen spends over 7 hours per day connected in some way. Christians, and especially Christian fathers, need to pay close attention to these findings and determine how they are going to provide the strong leadership necessary to make sure their families use media wisely and take the necessary time to unplug and spend time talking, reading, praying and a whole host of other activities that are being lost because of the amount of time being devoted to online communication.

You can access Dr. Mohler’s article at http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/21/like-the-air-they-breathe-the-online-life-of-kids//

The radio broadcast can be found here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/21/“like-the-air-they-breathe”-—-the-online-life-of-kids/

The Kaiser Report can be found here: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 6

We are considering three ideas which will help us gain biblically-based thought patterns regarding sexual sin. Today we discuss the third point.

Sexual sins are among the reasons why the wrath of God is coming upon mankind. (Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-7) Notice the references to these sins in these passages. Look at what Ephesians 5:5 says. “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” And don’t miss the fact that sexual sins are not the only kind of sins mentioned here. This is a strong statement. Do you believe it?

What some people don’t realize is that these sins themselves are the wrath of God on display. With your Bible open to Romans 1:18 and following, answer the following questions:

Vs 18 Is the wrath of God present or future in this verse?

Vs 24 What did God do in his wrath? He gave them up to what?

Vs 26 God gave them up still further as part of His wrath. What did He give them up to in this verse?

Vs 28-32 Then look at the list as God gives them up still further.

What you’ll find in this short Bible study is that part of God’s judgment doesn’t involve sending down fire from heaven. It involves letting people go into their sin and have their own way. Much of that sin is sexual.

So you need to ask yourself, “Do I want to participate in activities that are part of the reason God’s judgment is going to come?” And, “Do I want to participate in activities that in themselves demonstrate that God’s judgment is already here?”

To me, these are very sobering questions for the Christian man to contemplate.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Memorization Monday - Promised Blessings - Rewards

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus Shall Reign by Isaac Watts

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!

Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.

The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.

With power He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.

As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav’nly dew on thirsty hills.

The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.

The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 5

We are considering three ideas which will help us gain biblically-based thought patterns regarding sexual sin.

The second point to consider is that sexual sin is sin against both our body and soul. These sins are at war with us. Will we fight back or assume a complacent position? Even if we don’t fight backy, they will still war against us and ultimately destroy us

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 – He who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body! Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

The seriousness of this is based on the fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Just think about that! If you are a Christian your body – your hands, head, arms, feet – your physical body is the temple of God!

Peter tells us to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against our soul. (1 Peter 2:11) These sins make war against the core of your being. Take a good look at Proverbs 6:25-27. Notice the damage that sexual immorality causes.

When we get involved with porn or have an immoral relationship with someone we are taking death into our souls. Our problem is that we either don’t really believe this or we don’t care. Either way we need to take a careful look at our salvation and examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 4

In the last article on sexuality, I gave you a list of sexual sins spoken of in the Bible along with the definitions. As we consider sexual sins, it seems to me that pornography is probably the most addicting and soul-damaging of sexual sins. The Greek word used for sexual immorality was pornea. Add the ending graphy to it which means image or writing and you have sexual immorality in images or in writing. As we study the Scriptural teaching on sexual sins and God’s way of victory, keep in mind that we are including pornography in this discussion.

I’d like to consider three ideas that will help us regain a biblical perspective on sexual sins. We’ll look at the first this time, and then the others in future articles.

1. According to Jesus, what is the source of sexual sins? In Mark 7:20 Jesus tells us that these sins come out of the heart of man. TV and Internet provide the temptation, but even before these were invented, temptation and sin were there in full force. We need to recognize and take responsibility for the fact that our hearts are sinful and deceitful. That’s why we need a savior.

James tells us that we shouldn’t think our temptations come from God. He tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn away of our own lusts and enticed. James 1:14-15 Stop blaming other situations and factors and take responsibility for your own sin.

According to Galatians 5:19 these sins are the works of the flesh. They come from our flesh, our own natural self. The world and Satan use this natural tendency to drawn them out and trap us.

Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it?

In 1 Corinthians 10:12 Paul explains how the people in the Old Testament fell through disbelief and then warns us to be careful because when we think we stand, we may fall.

With a deceitful heart as the source of these sins, it is foolishness to think we can trust ourselves. People of high standing and seeming great intelligence are falling prey to sexual temptation and sin and ruining their reputations and careers along with it. What makes us think we can put ourselves in situations where the temptations are great and accountability is limited? We need to have the attitude expressed in Philippians 3:3 which is that we “have no confidence in the flesh.” It’s good to have a certain amount of distrust in our ability to deal with such a strong enemy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What is God Like? -- Psalm 145

I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.

Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.

They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.

The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.

They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,

To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.

You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.

The Lord preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some additional thoughts

In the light of a disaster like the Haitian earthquake, it is instructive to listen to what Jesus Christ said when He heard about eighteen people who were killed when a tower fell on them. In Luke 13:4 we read, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

At least one well-known religious leader in commenting on the earthquake said that the Haitians had made a pact with the devil and by implication this explains why bad things have continued to happen to them. It seems to me that Jesus’ quote makes that comment of no consequence. Jesus’ statement is that the people who died in the Siloam collapse were not worse sinners than others. And I think He would say that the Haitians are not worse sinners than others. His warning is that all sinners will also perish.

God is serious about sin and his judgment produces consequences both in this life and the next. The curse is real. We will all die of something and it may be painful or gruesome or maybe not. But it will still happen. There is going to be suffering in this life. But what is worse is the suffering that will follow our death if we don’t have someone to take our place in that suffering. The good news from Jesus is that He bore our sins on the cross and suffered our eternal punishment there. What He asks from us is to trust Him in this. He promises that those who trust Him will be spared eternal judgment. Do you believe Him?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some thoughts from the earthquake

The images from Haiti have been astounding, sobering and gruesome. Each day brings a new round of images showing more devastation and death. Why did this happen? Does it test your understanding of the sovereignty of a gracious God even a little? I need to confess that it produces a little struggle in my mind.

What has increased more than a struggle, however, is the sense of awe I have gained for the power of God working through His creation. An earthquake of this magnitude, producing such extensive destruction, was not felt in most places throughout the rest of the world.

In Haggai 2:6, 7 the Bible says, “For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of all Nations.”

The Desire of all Nations is a name for Jesus Christ. The shaking God will produce at the end of time will make the Haitian earthquake look like nothing in comparison as it involves not only the earth but the heavens as well.

What’s the message? The book of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 12:25ff

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Reward

This week's verse begins a 3-part series on the promised blessings of rewards for the Christian. This week offers a new opportunity to memorize Scripture. Even if you haven't done it before, why not begin this week?

Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Immortal, Invisible

Immortal, invisible,
God only wise,
In light inaccessible
hid from our eyes,
Most bless├Ęd, most glorious,
the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious,
Thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting,
and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting,
Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains,
high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains
of goodness and love.

To all, life Thou givest,
to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest,
the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish
as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish--
but naught changeth Thee.

Great Father of glory,
pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee,
all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render;
O help us to see
'Tis only the splendor
of light hideth Thee,

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 3

We are examining what the Bible has to say about sex and sexuality.

Consider this statement: Sexual activity outside of God’s prescribed plan for marriage is sin. Doesn’t that go against the trend we’re seeing all around us every day? Some non-Christians say that we believe this because we think sex is dirty or we’re repressed or have some other psychological problem. As I mentioned in a previous post, God is the inventor of sex and Christians ought to have the most realistic accepting view of sexuality that there is in the world. But God has placed boundaries on our sexual activity for our good and for His glory and we as Christians are called upon to accept those boundaries and enjoy sexuality within them.

God speaks about sexual sins in various ways in the Bible. Often when people read the Bible, they don’t know what those words mean and so don’t make the connection to activities described in other ways in modern English. So what I’d like to do is to define some of those words for you and give you the references for them.

Fornication: From the Greek word pornea – Sexual sin of a general kind not limited to a specific behavior, but outside of marriage between a man and woman. Mark 7:20ff; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5

Adultery: Having sex with someone other than your spouse. Mark 7:20; Galatians 5:19

Lasciviousness: Also translated wantonness, lewdness or sensuality. It means unrestrained behavior in moral behavior and attitudes. Mark 7:20; Romans 13:13; 2 Corinthians 12:21

Concupiscence: Also translated lust, it is a strong desire, longing or covetousness. Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 4:3

Uncleanness: Also translated impurity. It is sexual impurity or uncleanness. (Everyone understands what we mean by “dirty” joke.) 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19

Revelings: Orgies, revelry, drinking parties, carousing. Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19; 1 Peter 4:3

Coarse jesting: Crude joking. Crude and vulgar joking. Ephesians 5:3

Hopefully these definitions will help you put some of the Bible’s terminology in a perspective you can understand.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Lord Prays for His Own

Often times, modern Christian men don’t know about or don’t take the opportunity to read really old Christian literature. The book “Our Lord Prays for His Own” is a wonderful example of a little known book – especially to modern readers. I’m taking the liberty of giving you an excerpt here that hopefully will whet your appetite.

The book is a study of our Lord’s prayer in John 17. The context of this passage is where Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify the Son in verse 1. Jesus was about to be crucified and in so doing He would be fulfilling the agreement that He had made with the Father before the world began.

Read this section thoughtfully and prayerfully. If you haven’t read such old material before, you may get tangled up in the long sentences and some of the vocabulary. Also, there are phrases taken from Scripture that you may not be familiar with. Please feed your soul by taking the time to read and reread this passage, and then consider putting this book on your to-read list. It makes great devotional reading.

-----

Oh, if we could enter more fully into the thoughts of God as to the real nature, character, and consequences of sin; and His boundless love for sinners, manifested in the gift of His own Son—descended from heaven into our nature in order to effect our salvation, to vindicate the character of the broken law, and to declare the righteousness of God, that He might be just, and at the same time the justifier of him who believeth on Jesus, then should we understand what a glorious position Christ did really occupy, and what a marvelous grace Jehovah bestowed upon Him in appointing Him to be the manifestation and incarnation of His Everlasting Love, and “the daysman, to lay his hand upon both.”

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles…I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord; that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another” Isaiah 42:1, 6-8

This was the work Christ was about to accomplish; and to finish it was in His estimation to be glorified. Satan also, the enemy of God and man, was to be overthrown; the Goliath who had defied the armies of the living God was to be trampled under foot: and the Son of Man was to do it. Death, the wages of sin, was to be fully paid; and through death Christ was to “destroy him that had the power of death”; “to abolish death”; to extract its sting; “to swallow up death in victory”; and rise again, to die no more; but with authority to impart His own risen life to His people, so that henceforth they might live in Him, thus “delivering them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” This was the work He had in view, and the accomplishing of it was His glory.

Our Lord Prays for His Own by Marcus Rainsford; Moody Press, Chicago 1950

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Sexuality Part 2

We’re discussing sex and sexuality in light of Scripture. The last time we pointed out that sex was created by God for our good and His glory. In an effort to avoid sinful sexual behaviors, Christians have often avoided the topic entirely and sometimes look at the whole subject as dirty or vulgar. God does not look at it that way.

In Hebrews 13:4 we are told that it’s God’s plan that marriage and the marriage bed be honored and undefiled. God devotes a whole book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, to love and marriage. God is not embarrassed or shy about this topic.

God does not leave us helpless in the face of His commands concerning sexuality. He has given marriage as the relationship which is meant to provide for sexuality and to protect us from sexual temptation. Rather than looking at marriage as though it were a form of bondage, we should see it as a blessing from God meant to provide for us and to protect us.

In 1 Corinthians 7:1 we read, “It is not good for a man to touch a woman.” The word “touch” means “to hold on to.” It is not good to have the kind of physical contact with a woman that is reserved for a spouse.

This brings up the issue of defrauding. The Bible tells us that we should not defraud one another in the area of sexual attraction. “Defrauding” is the act of making the other person think or feel that further sexual intimacy is coming when there is no intention of going that far. (See also I Thessalonians 4:1-7) It is wrong to touch another person in a way that initiates sexual feelings when there is no intention of proceeding further. And there should be no intention of proceeding further if the person is not your spouse.

Young people don’t naturally know this and it is essential that this be part of the discussion we as Christian parents have with our children at appropriate times in their life.

Verse 2 of 1 Corinthians 7 teaches us that because of the reality of sexual immorality and sexual temptation, each person is to have his/her own spouse. Our husband or wife was given to us by God for protection.

Verses 3-6 teach us that even for a person who is married, Satan can tempt us because of our natural lack of self control and therefore a husband and wife should not deprive each other of physical intimacy except for short periods given over to prayer.

If you are not a Christian, this probably doesn’t make any sense, but for us whose goal it is to please God as best we can in all areas of life, this is important teaching. Husbands and wives often put each other in serious danger because they are not attentive to their spouse in this area. This is as much sinful behavior as any other disobedience of God’s will for our lives.

Our effort to be godly Christians encompasses every area of life. God doesn’t just throw out a lot of commands and then expect us to try to live up to it. He is lovingly interested in us and wants our best. He is the one who created us and so He knows best how to live life in a way that brings the most enjoyment and satisfaction. Don’t let the world influence you so much that you begin to buy into its philosophy. Take God’s Word seriously, meditate on it frequently and let it have its affect on your life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is Devotion part of your Home?

I was listening to a discussion program called the Whitehorse Inn the other day, and one of the panelists made an interesting comment toward the end of the program. He said essentially that the problem is not that they've taken prayer out of the schools, but that we've lost devotion from our homes. By devotion he meant the Christian practice of reading the Bible regularly as a family and praying together as a family.

Many families don't even eat together and so there is very little time when they are together let alone reading Scripture or praying together.

If you are the head of a household and you really desire to be a faithful man from God's point of view, don't let it be said of your home that devotion has been lost.

The Word Made Flesh from The Whitehorse Inn

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Biblical manhood - Sexuality Part 1

No aspect of life is probably more difficult for Christian men than that of sexual purity. The temptation to go where we shouldn’t go, look at what we shouldn’t look at and listen to what we shouldn’t listen to in order to satisfy our interest and curiosity about sex is strong.

Non-Christians who read this article will find this statement ludicrous because most people don’t see any need to curb or inhibit any sexual expression of any kind.

God has many things to say about this topic in His Word. He has made us as sexual beings. Sex was His idea and when used within His plan and boundaries glorifies God and brings good to our lives. Within God’s plan, sex is not vulgar, dirty or sinful. God has prescribed marriage between a man and a woman as the proper relationship for sexual intimacy.

Within this series of lessons on Biblical Manhood we have been faced with the fact that we must study what God says in His Word and then face the decision as to whether we are going to believe Him or not. In the area of sexuality, the culture makes it very difficult because we are bombarded with sexual messages everywhere we turn. These messages do not support God’s point of view. Little by little we become more accustomed to the world’s way and God’s way seems more and more out of touch.

Therefore, I believe the best thing for us to do is to immerse ourselves in what the Bible teaches us about this subject. In the next several blog posts on Biblical Manhood, we will explore what God has to say about sex and sexuality.

To get us started then, let’s consider the fact that sexuality and marriage are of God for our good and His glory. The fact that sex is part of the display of God’s glory is hardly ever considered. God made man and woman for each other and pronounced the relationship good.
Genesis 1:27 – Male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:28 – He told them to be fruitful and multiply
Genesis 1:31 – God saw that everything He had made was very good
Genesis 2:18 – The thing that wasn’t good was for man to be alone. God was not content to see the man without a helper that was suitable and fitting for him. Therefore He created the woman and brought her to the man and then gave the command to be fruitful and multiply.

We’ll discuss further considerations of this topic in the next Biblical Manhood posting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Peace Philippians 4:6,7

Continuing from last Monday's theme of Promised Blessings, here is another verse on that same topic.

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hymn of the Week - O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

1. O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

2. O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Does Avatar Promote Pantheism?

I’m not into movies much, but my interest has been piqued by all of the talk about Avatar. As of January 7th it has grossed over $380 million. I’ll say right up front that I haven’t seen it, but have been reading about the story and I have been especially intrigued by the philosophy or “religion” the purportedly underlies the action. As a Christian I’m always interested in learning what cultural message is being promoted in films and other media and what the public reaction is. That fact that so many people view these films tells me that the philosophy is being embraced by more and more people.

It’s my understanding, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that Avatar puts forth a pantheistic view of the universe. That is, the planet and everything on it is god or part of god. Often the media produces films that say that people are at their best when left in sort of a primitive state. In that condition they are more in tune with nature and things are more harmonious. But when you bring the modern world, and especially modern western human beings, into contact with this pristine environment it brings about destruction and degradation of what otherwise would have been a wonderful place. Some of these same ideas where put forth in movies such as Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves.

My caution to Christians, and especially Christian young people is to be aware of these messages which fly in the face of Christian teaching. Christians believe that the world was created by God but the world is not god. God created mankind and made us stewards and caretakers of the earth. This is the reason we should not pillage and destroy the planet, not because it is somehow alive. On the other hand, God gave the earth to us as a resource to provide for our daily needs. It provides us with our food, air, and energy. And therefore we should not be afraid of using it wisely for the good of mankind. We take care of the world and use it properly but we don’t look at it as sacred. God made mankind distinct from the rest of creation and gave him dominion over it. So even though we share the planet with other creatures, they are not on the same footing we are.

The Christian message is that men and women, in their natural condition are born in sin and are therefore lost and without hope. There is no salvation in the planet itself. Salvation comes from God and is brought only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the Gospel doesn’t reach a particular group of people, they can’t be saved. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. God tells us that if we leave people alone in their natural condition they will be lost forever. We are to love people as we love ourselves and we are to respect others because all of us are made in the image of God. But that love and respect requires a concern that will bring the Gospel to them and not just leave them to their own fate.

So, as you watch movies and read magazines, don’t leave your Christianity outside. Think through everything you watch, hear and read and compare it to what you know to be true. Don’t be mesmerized by special effects or sentimental arguments. They may be fantastic and powerful and they may draw you into the story, but guard your heart from absorbing the underlying philosophy.

Here are a couple of links that may help as you think this through.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/21/opinion/21douthat1.html?_r=1
http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/16243
http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/04/avatar-rambo-in-reverse/

I would enjoy hearing your opinion.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Christian Manhood - Budgeting

Another good way to better manage God’s money is to budget. There’s not enough space here to go through the many possible budgeting plans available, but here are just a couple of suggestions.

First, keep track of what you’re spending. You will be surprised where your money is going.

Second, give to God a regular proportion of what He has given you. The Bible usually speaks of ten percent as a starting point.

Next, figure out what percentage of your income is needed for fixed expenses such as house payments, car payments, insurance etc. Then look at your annual expenses for electricity, heating and so on.

Do the same thing for groceries, clothing, etc.

Here is the part that I found very helpful to me and I can thank my dad for this idea. Out of each check, set aside the actual money allocated for each category. You can set this aside actually using marked envelopes or you can set it aside on a paper chart or on a computer spread sheet.

For example, suppose your house payments are 20% of your income. Then each time you get a paycheck, take 20% of the cash and put it into an envelope marked house payment. If clothing is 3% of your pay, then put that much into an envelope each time you get paid. You could also just keep track of it on paper, but you have to be sure to be thorough.

Here’s the problem most people have. A man might be out with his family and he decides to stop at McDonalds and treat everyone to a sundae or sandwich some evening. It’s not the main meal; it’s just a treat. He knows he has $30 in his wallet and so he buys these things for them. The problem is that there is no money in the treat envelope. Even if he doesn’t have a budgeting system, you can’t spend money you don’t have available. What he just spent was clothing money, or gas money, or part of an insurance payment. It takes incredible discipline to say to yourself or to your family, “I’m sorry, we don’t have the money for that tonight.” If you have a budget and know that you’ve got $20 accumulated in the treats envelope, then you can have this special outing with perfect freedom knowing that you’ve planned well.

I hope these suggestions will be helpful to many of you.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Were Ancients Logical?

An argument is made by some that the people of Bible times were not logical like we are and therefore were more gullible and susceptible to claims of miracles. Therefore, the argument goes, the stories and traditions that they recorded should not be taken seriously.

However, it’s easy to show that this is not true. Take the example given in Isaiah 44. Here the prophet ridicules a man who cuts down a tree. Out of half of it he fashions an idol in the shape of an image which he then worships. He prays to this god and asks it to deliver him. He uses the other half for fuel for a fire which keeps him warm. The prophet laughs at the stupidity of asking for help from the same piece of wood that was turned to ashes in his fire pit! Now don’t tell me that these people didn’t know what makes logical sense and what doesn’t. There have always been people around who could expose faulty thinking.

Here’s the incident as recorded in Isaiah 44:14 ff.

He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Is 44:14-20

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Christian Manhood -- Fiscal Responsibility

One of the things that happened because of the fall is that work became toil and filled with obstacles. The ground brought forth weeds; things began to break down and needed repair and rebuilding. Because of the scarcity of stuff, money soon was invented to allow trade to take place. God has a lot to say to us as men regarding how we manage money and things.

According to Matthew 25 God has made us stewards of His resources. That means we are just the guardians of what actually belongs to Him. We are His money managers.

In that capacity God expects diligence in our work rather than sloth. Some verses that help us to understand that are:

Proverbs 6:9-11 Watch out for a pattern of slothfulness
Proverbs 10:4,5 Make sure your hands are diligent
Proverbs 24:30-34 Keep your property in good repair
2 Thessalonians 3:10 If someone doesn’t work, then he shouldn’t eat

God expects us to save for the future.

Proverbs 6:8 Gather your food in the summer
Genesis 41:35, 36 Think about the advice Joseph gave to Pharaoh regarding the upcoming famine.

There’s more to saving than just putting a little extra money in the bank from every paycheck. You can save a lot of money by watching for sales. In our household for example, we don’t usually by pop unless we can get it for 20 cents a can or so. Buy in quantity – but not so much that it spoils before you use it. Don’t buy on impulse. Plan your buying so you won’t be tempted to buy things you don’t need or can’t afford.

And finally, take care of your stuff! Don’t leave the kids’ toys out in the grass to get rusty and broken. Keep things picked up and in as good repair as you can afford. You might not have a lot of money, but you don’t need to leave junk laying all around inside and outside your house. Remember, you are God’s managers.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A New Year's Thought

Greetings and Happy New Year

I hope you had a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s birth over this Christmas season. I’m not sure why Christmas was put in December, but I like the fact that on winter nights, the sky is clearer and the stars brighter than at other times of the year. At least that’s the way it is here in Michigan. Looking up into the sky on these nights helps me to see myself and our planet more in perspective with the rest of the universe.

It reminds me of the Psalm that says “What is man that you are mindful of him?” To think that God would break through the sky and come here to save us is amazing. Job rightly said, “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he who is born of a woman be pure? If even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm?” Job 25:4-6

The tremendous answer to Job’s question is that God “made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Take some time in the next couple of weeks to let your mind think on this for a time.

On another topic, do you have any books on your to-read list for the next six months or so? I’m always looking for good reading material so if you find something especially good, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Peace John 16:33

Do you ever find that it is hard to stay consistent in some spiritual discipline. I do. Even in the simple thing of sharing a Scripture memory verse with the rest of you, I so easily get off track. A New Year is a good opportunity to try to get back on track so let's see how it goes.

Today's verse is John 16:33 and is a verse about the promised blessing of peace.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Great God of Wonders

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.

Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare;
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And none shall in the honor share,
And none shall in the honor share

Angels and men, resign your claim
To pity, mercy, love and grace:
These glories crown Jehovah’s Name
With an incomparable glaze
With an incomparable glaze.

In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This Godlike miracle of love,
Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,
And all th’angelic choirs above,
And all th’angelic choirs above.

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Christian Manhood - Decision Making

During the fall I was teaching a class for men called God's Pattern for Christian Manhood. I have written several articles on this topic through the fall, but it has been since November 16th now since I've written on this topic. In order to follow the train of thought, you might want to search this blog for the "manhood" label. Here is the next in the series.

Another step in determining God’s will for your vocational life is to discover your God-given gifts and develop them. Everyone has unique and distinct gifts and these are an indicator as to how God will use you in this world.

Everyone is gifted differently. In Matthew 25:15-18 each man had been given a different amount, but God expected each one to be a faithful steward of what God had given him. According to Romans 12:6, God wants us not only to know what our gifts are, but to use them for His glory. It’s not a matter of what gift we have or how talented we are. What is important is that we invest in the kingdom of God by using your gifts effectively and wisely.

As you plan, study, and become skilled, remember that you are preparing to do work that will support you and your family in the culture you live in. Don’t waste time wishing that you had lived in a different era or had different circumstances. God has called you in this time and place and it’s important to plan and develop your gifts accordingly.

Another step in the process of determining God’s will for us is to seek wise counsel. Look at these passages in Proverbs: 11:14; 12:15; 15:22

From these passages we learn that there is safety in a multitude of counselors, that it is important to give heed to counsel and not ignore it and that counsel establishes plans.

So don’t be afraid to ask for counsel and advice. In fact, seek it diligently. Don’t be afraid of what you might hear. Then, when you receive advice, consider it seriously when making decisions. If someone offers you advice you didn’t ask for, don’t just dismiss it. Assume you have a blind spot; think seriously about what they said.

In addition to seeking counsel, there should be a lot of prayer given to the decision. James 1:5 tells us that we should ask God if we lack wisdom. By praying we are acknowledging our lack of wisdom and strength and letting God know that we are dependent on Him and not relying on our own ability. (See Proverbs 3:6)

Finally, make a rational, well-thought decision. This doesn’t have to be the final decision for a life-long vocation. This can be a decision for the next step in the process such as what classes to take this semester or what college to go to. Indecision and procrastination are not values God approves. In the Bible, the only time people were to wait was when God told them explicitly to wait. Otherwise moving forward in faith and obedience is the proper course of action. Once the decision is made, move forward with it and begin to plan the next step.

This last point is important because a lot of people get hung up doing nothing while they wait for some “leading” they expect to get from God. God leads through His Word and His providence in the circumstances of life. He expects us to pray for wisdom, seek counsel and then move forward having made a concrete decision.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A New Beginning

As we enter a new year, we tend to think of it as a clean slate, a new opportunity to start over. Many people create New Year’s resolutions hoping that a renewed focus on important goals will help give us the new start we desire.

The Bible gives us the clearest answer to the question of how we can start anew. In Revelation 21:5, the Scripture says, “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Jesus is going to say this in the context of the new heaven and the new earth when all of this fear, pain, fighting and death are done away with for ever. In verse 4 of this passage we are told, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Some may suggest that this is all well and good for some future time, but what about now? In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Christ took our sorrows and sins upon Himself at the cross and they were left in the grave when He was raised. Therefore He can completely forgive all of our sins and say that they have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. What better way to wipe the slate clean and start anew than to come to Christ and let him cleanse us completely from all the baggage the weighs us down.