Friday, July 27, 2007
For a whole barnload of Walter's thoughts, go here.
Not only must a man look forward, but he needs to look beside him as well. There is whole lot in my Bible about caring for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But you can’t care for what you can’t see. Now the looking I’m talking about here is a tad more than the “O, look, here is Joe at church again” kind of thing.
Now, I understand that you brothers meet together once a month, and that is why I am taking the time to write this letter. And this meeting together is a mighty good thing, but in my days around the block I have seen men that meet and still don’t take a good look at one another. They tend to let their brothers get as close to them as a tail-raised skunk. So, part of what I want to urge you men to do is work real hard, tonight, to get to know one other brother. Ask him a whack of questions and see who it is you talk sports with every other week. You could start by asking a fellow how it is the Lord got to saving him. If that well dries up too quick, ask him to tell you one of the smartest things he ever done – then one of the dumbest!
And once you start to get to know these brothers, you’ll have ample opportunity to keep one eye on them. I ain’t much for modern music, but I did hear a song once that caught my fancy. It goes like this:
And I will be my brother's keeper
Not the one who judges him
I won't despise him for his weakness
I won't regard him for his strength
I won't take away his freedom
I will help him learn to stand
And I will ~ I will be my brother's keeper
As great as it is to look ahead and march forward, a true soldier never leaves his fellow behind. Besides, one day you might be the wounded one needing a shoulder to lean on!
One of the things a man ought regularly to do is stop and survey the ground behind him. It can be discouraging to wake up every morning to the same old battles, so a wise man will learn to selah here and there - not to catch his breath, but to remind himself of past grace.
Dr. Piper wrote a book called Future Grace that I liked a lot. Well, truth be told, I liked about 30% of it, since I found her a little hard to finish! But the big point made sense to my little mind – we ought to look back in order to strengthen our resolve as we look forward. If God has been faithful to us (and He has) and that at every time we really called on Him, no matter how tough or terrible the situation appeared, then it only makes sense that He is going to be there for us in the future!
Seems to me this is precisely what Joshua was doing with Israel at the end of his life. “Look back in order to go forward” as the case may be.
When is the last time you took a good long look behind you to see where the Lord has taken you? Why, some of you have been snatched out of the fire and others pulled from the bog and still more ripped from the caves – and the Lord did it! And He is just as strong and just as able to do it now as He was then. Thing is, we have this nasty whispering Enemy that is always murmuring something about God running out of power or expecting us to do things in our own strength. Blasted Devil! Would that the Lord would lock him up and throw away the key – Oh, I guess that is coming. Anyway, we need to fight through his smoke screens and cling to the Truth. One great way to do that is to consider what God has done in the past.
And not just with us – but with all the saints of God since time began. Seems to me that was the point of writing Hebrews 11. As if that author were saying, “Look at some of these blokes! Yet, the Lord did some mighty amazing things through them!” Now that brings me some encouragement. Maybe you fellows could do that tonight – you know, tell each other one great deliverance the Lord has wrought on your pilgrimage.
is a young web site put up by Todd Shaffer from Montreal. I don't konw Todd, but I love his idea! He is assembling MP3's of great sermons all on one site so that you can (in Augustine-like fashion) "Load up and listen, Load up and listen!"
Check out the site!
HT: Nick Hill
Thursday, July 26, 2007
My Dear Brothers,
It has been some time since my last letter to you all, which, if you think of it, is about as redundant a statement a man can make. “Some time.” Well, it’s certainly not been “no time.” But all that is besides the point.
Life on the farm is as good as usual – hard where it needs to be and surprising when you least expect it. The goats have been popping out kids like iPods from a Chinese factory, so I only have a few minutes to write between deliveries.
I thought I might say a few words to you all on the matter of your eyes – as in where it is they look. And so I have called this letter – the How Men Look. What I am most interested in here is a directional conversation. And that should explain itself as we move along.
One of the great callings of manhood is learning to look ahead. And by that, I don’t mean what my pappy used to say every time we passed one of those roadside signs: “Look… a ‘head’!” while he’d point at my cranium’s carriage. What I mean is looking to the future, especially as it relates to preparing for what is to come.
One of the true delights of being a Christian, is that we know how our story ends! There is still much about the life to come that is a mystery, but there is nothing mysterious about the overall goal! With that question answered, a man is free to spread the wings of his manhood in looking ahead and planning accordingly.
Every man has a plan, it is just that some men know what theirs is… and they fill in the steps along the way to help it happen. Part of being a man is being a leader, and although we fellows might lead in different ways and with different styles, nobody truly leads without considering where it is they are going.
A man needs to see where it is he hopes to go, and be more than a careless king with good intentions. He needs to work his plan from the end back to today and consider how it is he’s going to get (by the Lord’s grace!) from here to there.
I knew a fellow that always said he was going to retire at age 55 – not bad for a farmer! Trouble is, he never took the trouble to map out how to get to that golden age until he was 3 years from his destination. Then, surprise, surprise… he had to change his goal by 12 years or so! So a man needs to give thought about how to get to where he hopes to go.
Looking forward also means thinking about trajectories – a word harder to say than understand. I weren’t much for geometrics in the public school, but I know if I want to get my plough straight to the other side of field, I’ve got to first trace the path in my mind’s eye - the trajectory. Doing such might alert me to the fact that a stone wall exists between me and my destination – not the easiest thing to get a tractor over! Likewise, a man needs to consider the outcomes of his current direction and behaviours. If you’re flirting daily with sexual sins, you might count it likely you’ll end up doing worse in that matter over time. If you tend to waste money now, it is more than likely you’ll have none 10 years from now.
Too many men live in a dream world, saying all the right slogans but not doing any hard slugging. If you want to change the port your ship lands at, point your bow in a new direction now! Nobody likes to change since it takes work and pain, but thorns and thistles are all yours until eternity friend, so you might as well get to weeding now before your garden gets overrun!
Recall the great apostle Paul. Now that man knew how to plan, far as I can tell. And so he systematically spent his life spreading the good news of Christ to city by city in ever-widening circles. He could’ve hopped on some ship and sailed for New Mexico, but he knew there were other worlds in-between. So, he started locally and moved outward… and had he lived long enough, part of me thinks he would’ve been the one to DISCOVER New Mexico in the end!
[More to come...]
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Book Review: “When Sinners Say ‘I Do:’ Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage” by Dave Harvey
Review: “When Sinners Say ‘I Do:’ Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage”
by Dave Harvey
Shepherd Press, 2007
You can buy this book here.
One entire shelf in my office is full of marriage books. Books on manhood, womanhood, roles, sex, love and other issues that married couples face. Now your Freudian side might be asking why that is so. “Does he have a bad marriage?” “Is he a husband set adrift in the sea of great expectations?” Well, it probably boils down to the fact that I am just a guy who, like you if you are married, wants to have a good marriage.
Last week I met with the couples of our local church and referred to those “little foxes” that Solomon describes burrowing into the vineyard of his loving marriage. Pressing the illustration, I suggested that too many of us spend time shooting at those foxes with a pellet gun, when we should be erecting giant walls to keep them out in the first place. To think of it from another angle, what our marriages need is to be laid out on the beach and have a cleansing tide come in. We need the Truth of God’s Word to wash over us in a big way, with each successive wave bringing new hope and life.
This is precisely what Dave Harvey has done in this excellent book. Rather than get caught up in a lot of useless “chicken soup moralisms” or bogged down in tedious particulars, Harvey has written 10 chapters of encouragement. Each chapter is like another wave on the beach, some with greater intensity than others, but all of them washing away the dirt of this world that so often weasels its way into our thinking and living.
The book begins with how we think about God and marriage. That is so essential, and in brief, but penetrating chapters, Harvey details a Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, God-glorifying vision of marriage. He then proceeds to consider how our sin wrecks this image... and he wields the scalpel quite effectively! The author makes it quite clear that it is really a “sinner” who says, “I do.”
Yet, he is just as skillful at pointing us to the grace that is found in Christ Jesus alone. And this is where the book sings. Harvey’s mission is not to make you feel bad, it is to increase your delight in Jesus. In my own reading I have to respond: “Mission Accomplished!”
But I think the greatest strength in the book is in describing how grace should work itself out in our unions. I say “greatest strength” but I might just as easily have written, “greatest conviction.” One thing I love about Sovereign Grace Ministries is there commitment to real sanctification – especially through servanthood. This book models much of the “how” that is to happen in a marriage. Not by giving “10 steps for this” and “5 ways for that,” but by painting in broad strokes some of the fundamental requirements of a married sinner – and in such a manner that the way forward is quite obvious to any who dare take it.
This is a book that could be read on your own, as a couple, or in a small group. It does not include discussion questions, but you will not need them! There is so much in each chapter to prompt a lot of talking.
One small area I would alter is in Harvey’s exposition of the parable of the unrighteous steward from Matthew 18. He makes the comment that the second slave in the story (the one owed the first slave 100 denarii) was only in debt about one day’s wages. However, I think most commentators would agree that is far too low an estimation – one denarius was a typical labourer’s daily wage. Why I bring this up at all is only because, if that is the case, then the first slave really was owed something of some substance – about the equivalent to 1/3 your annual salary. To me, this only makes Harvey’s point better, as it intimates that even if the sin against us by our spouse is really quite severe (the 1/3 salary variety – the kind of sins that really hurt!), it is still only 1/600,000th of the debt we owed God! Those who grasp how much they have been forgiven in Christ are able to forgive the worst sins committed against them in marriage.
Without any hesitation I gladly commend this book to you. My hope is that we will see much more from Harvey’s pen in the years to come. The Lord has blessed me with this work!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The Twin Towers of Faith sent along this link to a great article summarizing the grand scope of redemptive history (the message of the Bible) in 3600 words! The ten minutes it takes to read Clowney might bring some deep encouragment to you!!
Here is a teaser...
"On the first Easter morning, when Jesus walked, unrecognized, with Cleopas and a companion, he did not remove their doubts and fears by saying, 'Cleopas!' as he had said 'Mary!' in the garden. They needed to know more than the fact of the resurrection-they were walking away from the fact of the empty tomb and of the presence of angels reported by the women. They needed to understand its meaning: the glory of Jesus Christ that was gained through his suffering. What they foolishly failed to grasp was the message of Scripture.
Jesus, therefore, beginning with the books of Moses and the prophets, explained from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Lk 24:27). He was not willing to show Cleopas that he was somehow alive, since in a chance universe anything can happen. The good news is not that there was once a resurrection. The good news is 'that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised the third day according to the Scriptures' (1 Cor 15:3f).
We, too, need to know the fact of the resurrection in the context of its meaning. The teaching of Jesus that burned into the hearts of those two disciples has not been forever lost because Cleopas lacked a tape recorder. We have Christ's resurrection teaching during those forty days in the inspired New Testament. That is why the sure guide to our understanding of the Old Testament is the New Testament."