Back to the Future

June 28, 2012

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The future is NOW!

Hoax or real?

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221 Words

June 26, 2012

D. A. Carson:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

Sinner’s Prayer

June 25, 2012

Here’s an interesting debate.

How did you become saved? Did you admit you were a sinner, repent of your sins, believe Jesus Christ died for your sins, and call on the Lord and pray to accept Jesus into your life?
The recent decision by delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention to affirm the use of the “sinner’s prayer” – known as a prayer of repentance and “inviting Jesus into your heart” – has undermined Calvinism in the denomination and placed a renewed emphasis on traditional Baptist soteriology: if you repent, call on the Lord and believe in Christ for mercy, you are saved.
The resolution, which passed Wednesday by a majority vote of around 80 percent, affirmed the belief that “repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation.” Citing Romans 10:13, it also affirmed that “repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord,” more commonly known as the “sinner’s prayer,” as a “biblical expression of repentance and faith.”
One strong caution in the resolution: “The ‘sinner’s prayer’ is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel.”
The resolution was introduced by Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., in the wake of an increased concern among Southern Baptists holding a traditional view on the doctrine of salvation over the increasing role and influence of the “New Calvinism” movement in the denomination.
David Platt, one of the leading Calvinist or Reformed Theology pastors in the SBC, ignited a fiery debate over the sinner’s prayer when he referred to the sinner’s prayer as “superstitious” during a Verge Conference in March.
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“Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase ‘invite Jesus into your heart’ or ‘invite Christ into your life’?” said Platt as his voice quivered with emotion. “It’s a very dangerous thing to lead people to think they are a Christian when they have not biblically responded to the Gospel … It’s not just dangerous. It’s just damning.”
In response, Hankins also co-authored a statement against Calvinism that was signed by several former SBC presidents. The document, titled “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” emphasized that God desires for every person to be saved and that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person.
Although the Committee on Resolutions removed language pertaining to the growing number of Calvinists in the SBC, the final resolution on the sinner’s prayer expressed the same anti-Calvinist sentiment.
Among delegates who argued in support of the sinner’s prayer was Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. He said he believes that every one of the 256 kids who were individually counseled and led in the prayer at Vacation Bible School over the past few weeks has been saved.
“Many of them were not ready and we said you’re not ready. I don’t believe you try to pick unripened fruit,” Gaines told SBC Talk following the resolution vote. “But I am telling you that there is a particular, puncticular moment that you cross over from being lost and you’re saved.”
He added, “I believe what we’re dealing with is the whole idea of how you get saved: It’s soteriology. I believe the biblical pattern is you hear the Gospel, you repent of your sins, you believe in the Lord Jesus and you call upon his name and at that split-second, that nano-second you’re saved and forevermore you belong to Jesus.”
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Convention’s public policy arm, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, agreed with Gaines that those kids are now born-again Christians.
“I think they are saved. Most Southern Baptists think they are saved. The Calvinists may not think so but they are the minority,” Land told The Christian Post.
“I believe that the Holy Spirit tries to convict all men. If a person is concerned about their eternal destiny, like Woody Allen seems to be concerned with his eternal destiny, that’s the Holy Spirit trying to convict him, trying to bring him to a place where he will accept Jesus as his Savior.”
Land, who is CP’s executive editor, added, “And when we attempt to believe, I believe God gives us saving grace. And so when we ask Jesus into our heart, I believe he comes into our heart and gives us saving faith.”
The sinner’s prayer resolution, he said, is a “pushback” to Calvinists within the SBC who argue that only the Elect can be saved.
He explained, “You have some Southern Baptists who are saying you can’t ask Jesus into your heart –you have to wait for the working of God’s grace. Whereas, people – like me – who aren’t Calvinists would say the natural man doesn’t understand the things of God for they are spiritually discerned but if the Holy Spirit convicts you and you feel convicted then you can say, ‘Lord come into my heart’ and the Lord will come into your heart.”
Gaines also responded to Calvinist arguments by saying that the Bible repeatedly affirms the concept of Christ coming into our hearts. He pointed to Scripture from both Testaments, including Jeremiah, where God says he will write on their “hearts,” and the Gospel of John, where the Greek word “lambano” means “to receive.”
“I think that it is a very biblical concept to ask Jesus to come into your heart,” said Gaines, who has been a preacher for 35 years.
“Salvation comes as a response from repentance and faith. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God regenerates you, and then you repent and believe,” he said. “It’s always repentance and faith are prerequisites – not the products of regeneration – but prerequisites for regeneration.”
Gaines addressed other concerns surrounding the sinner’s prayer, including the argument that it can be a mindless prayer or that it can lead to “Easy Believism” – the belief that one can simply believe in order to be saved without living out a committed life of Christian discipleship.
He said many people who are skeptics of the sinner’s prayer argue it doesn’t work because they know people who prayed it but “obviously didn’t mean it because they didn’t grow in grace and become a true Christian.”
Gaines suggested that the issue shouldn’t be questioning the sincerity of the prayer but how to better disciple those who have become Christian.
“That doesn’t mean that the prayer didn’t work,” he said. “That just means that maybe they didn’t get mentored of discipled and it may just mean that they didn’t have someone to sit down with them after they prayed to receive Christ. They got born-again but they just stayed as a babe. They didn’t grow and mature because they didn’t learn to read their Bible, pray and witness and those things.”
Following is the full text of the resolution on the sinner’s prayer:
AN AFFIRMATION OF A “SINNER’S PRAYER” AS A BIBLICAL EXPRESSION OF REPENTANCE AND FAITH
WHEREAS, The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers full forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God to anyone who repents of sin and trusts in Christ; and
WHEREAS, This same Gospel commands all persons everywhere to believe this Gospel and receive Christ as Savior and Lord (Mark 1:15; John 1:12; 6:25–52; Acts 17:30); and
WHEREAS, The Scriptures give examples of persons from diverse backgrounds who cried out for mercy and were heard by God (Luke 18:13; Acts 16:29–30); and
WHEREAS, The Scriptures also give numerous examples of persons who verbally affirmed Gospel truths but who did not personally know Jesus in a saving relationship (Luke 22:47–48; John 2:23–25; 1 Corinthians 10:1–5); and
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19–20, 2012, reaffirm our Gospel conviction that repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation (Acts 20:20–21); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we affirm that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord (Romans 10:13), often identified as a “sinner’s prayer,” as a biblical expression of repentance and faith; and be it further
RESOLVED, That a “sinner’s prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7; 15:7–9); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we promote any and all biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists everywhere to continue to carry out the Great Commission in North America and around the world, so that sinners everywhere, of every tribe, tongue, and language, may cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

Feminine Threads

June 25, 2012

Raising girls is an awesome responsibility.

Diana Lynn Severance (Ph.D., Rice University) is an historian serving as director of the Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University. Her most recent book, Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History, exposes and celebrates the crucial role of women in the history of the Christian church. Perhaps too often we practice a kind of “chronological snobbery,” as C. S. Lewis termed it, assuming that we today understand everything much more clearly than the unsophisticated people of previous centuries. On some subjects that assumption might work. On most, we might wisely practice more humility.

The subject of women’s roles is a complicated one: certainly we have made much progress, but perhaps we would do well to look back more carefully to see what we can learn from those who have gone before. Severance helps us do that. Her book is full of snippets of stories and quotations that make the reader want to spend time delving into the original sources. I came away from her book and from this interview convinced that our contemporary discussion of women’s roles would be much more profitable if it were better informed by a clearer historical perspective.

Your book focuses on women in church history. Why is history—and this particular history—important for all of us in the church today?

God is a God of history. The Bible itself, God’s inspired revelation, is a book of history, in that much of it is a historical record of God’s working with and bringing redemption to his people. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are events central to all of history—as seen in the commonly used dating system of B.C. and A.D. Paul in his address on Mars Hill (Acts 17) told the Athenians that the God who made us all so orders the boundaries and times of nations to bring people to himself. In a way we cannot fully know now, God is working through nations and their histories to bring glory to his name. When I study history, I delight in discovering threads of the story that show Christians’ influence in God’s tapestry of history.

Looking especially at Christian women in history is important for several reasons. I’ll briefly mention four.

Wherever Christianity has gone, the condition and status of women has improved. In today’s world, wherever Christianity has flourished, men and women are both recognized as valued members of society; wherever Christianity has been largely rejected, women have few rights and can be treated as something less than a full person. The history of the treatment and position of women itself is a useful apologetic for the Christian faith.
Many historians have focused on great men with little attention given to women, who certainly make up a large segment of humanity! Their story needs to be told and integrated into the larger history.
Recent feminist historians have produced a plethora of revisionist writings driven more by the feminist agenda than by the facts and records of history. An accurate narrative of women’s history is needed apart from re-imagining and re-constructing the actual records.
A look at Christian women in the past can encourage and challenge women today. History offers examples of women faithful to God in many different social spheres and facing many difficult conditions—just as women face today. This “great cloud of witnesses” both encourages and admonishes us.
You expose women’s roles in previously less-exposed places . . . in the martyrdom of the early church, for example.

Jesus said that the disciples are not above the master, and as he was persecuted, so his disciples will be persecuted. Throughout church history, Christians have suffered persecution. In the first centuries of the church, if a person refused to declare that Caesar was Lord, it could mean the death sentence—and the sentence was applied to both men and women. Women as well as men were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena, becoming martyrs for their faith. The very Greek word martyr means “witness,” and a very powerful witness for the truth of Christianity was that women as well as men were ready to endure torture, intense pain, and a terrible death with joy because of their faith in Jesus. My book details several of the accounts from court records and friends of these women telling of their suffering as well as their joy in Christ even as they died for his sake. Reading these accounts made me feel how glib and shallow so much of our American Christianity is today. Suffering and persecution strengthened the faith and character of these women.

Some of today’s “women’s issues” might benefit from a historical perspective—abortion, for example. How can the early church instruct us here?

Abortion and infanticide were both practiced and commonplace throughout the ancient Roman Empire. Abortions were induced by special potions as well as by surgery and often put the woman’s life at risk. When a child was born, it was shown to the father, and the father decided if the child should live or not. It was rare for a family to have more than one girl, for girl babies were the most frequently destroyed. Babies were often left along the roadside for wild beasts or birds to consume. The Christians, however, did not approve of either abortions or infanticide. They began collecting the infants left to die of exposure, brought them into their homes, and cared for them. The caring practices of the Christians caught the attention of the pagan world and demonstrated that women had value, dignity, and respect within the Christian community.

Women have not always been viewed as worthy candidates for education. How can women like fourth-century Paula encourage and inspire us?

Paula was truly amazing. She was a woman of great wealth but had a passion to learn the Scriptures. She became a patroness of Jerome, sponsoring much of his Bible translation work and finding Bible manuscripts for his translation. She peppered him with endless questions about Scriptures, learning as much as she could. She even learned Hebrew so that she could pray the Psalms in their original language! Jerome himself praised Paula’s learning and her passion for the Scriptures. Paula is just one of the early demonstrations of the truth that wherever Christianity has flourished, education and the particularly education of women has increased. This becomes clearly seen during the Reformation and the missions movement of the 19th century. Martin Luther was among the first to encourage education for girls as well as boys, and William Carey and later missionaries often were the first to establish schools for girls in their region of work.

Reading your book, I loved the glimpses into lives of remarkable women I’d never even heard of—Marie Dentiere, for example, who lived during the Reformation.

There were so many women I had never heard of whom I came to admire after researching their stories. One of my favorites was Dhuoda from the ninth century, shortly after the time of Charlemagne. She wrote a wonderful advice manual for her son, who was separated from her for several years. This mother’s heart and Christian concern for her son, as well as her wise instructions, speak to us across the centuries. The early queens of the German and British regions, such as Margaret of Scotland, were so influential in bringing their husbands to Christ and Christianity to their people.

Marie Dentiere, as you mentioned, lived during the Reformation. She wrote the first history of the reform in Geneva and is the only woman whose name is inscribed on that great Reformation wall in Geneva. I was especially fascinated by Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, and her very strong Christian witness and influence. Though I had heard of her before, standard history texts do not mention she was a Christian and had a Bible study in the palace. Some of the writings of these women have been preserved, and we can, as it were, actually hear their own voices and thoughts.

You tell of women who served God in both extraordinary and ordinary ways—often through their homes and families. Do certain examples or patterns stand out?

Two of my long-time favorites whom I came to value more as I studied were the poet Anne Bradstreet and Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley. Both were extraordinary women in the way they lived for the Lord as wives and mothers through many crises and difficulties. We see from Anne’s poetry, for example, how she can take the disaster of her house burning down to fix her mind more on the heavenly home God has for her. For Anne, every event shone with a spiritual purpose.

In one sense, the pattern to be seen over the centuries of Christian women is the variety of women and the variety of ways the Lord used them. There were singles, married, widowed, queens, teachers, writers, mothers, patronesses, women serving through hospitality and charitable works . . . the categories are endless. This is consistent with the New Testament, where we find women in ministries of “prayer, mentoring other Christians, supporting the Church leaders, showing hospitality, fellow-laboring as missionaries, instructing other women, evangelizing and sharing the Word with others, teaching children and helping those in need and distress” (to quote from Feminine Threads). Some today assert that women must have positions of ordained pastoral leadership within the church. What we find in history, as in the New Testament, is that women even without such positions have roles and ministries of tremendous influence in the body of Christ.

Your book brings out the significant role of women in the missions work of recent centuries. What can we learn?

Women’s role in missions was especially important in the examples of their lives and their ministries to other women. In societies where women were isolated within harems and separate quarters, the women missionaries could enter and present Christian truth in ways that men could not. The family life of the missionaries was tremendously important to the unchristian cultures as an example of Christian marriage and home life. The exemplary life of the missionary woman was a tremendously powerful witness and testimony to the gospel of Christ.

What words would you leave with us concerning the feminine threads in the tapestry of Christian history?

The lives of Christian women over two millennia offer examples of the grace and mercy of God as well as encouragement and challenges to live life for his glory and honor. Though often with differing roles, both Christian men and women are important to the tapestry of history God is weaving. I’m looking forward to spending eternity with these Christian women who have gone before.

Kathleen Nielson serves as director of women’s initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in literature from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. from Wheaton College. She speaks extensively at women’s conferences, and has directed and taught women’s Bible studies at several churches. She loves being involved with the community of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where her husband serves as president.

Short-term Missions

June 20, 2012

Interesting.

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips

Editors’ Note: We’re continuing a series on short-term missions. The first by Darren Carlson dealt with the history and opportunities provided by short-term missions.

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I have seen with my own eyes or know of houses in Latin America that have been painted 20 times by 20 different short-term teams; fake orphanages in Uganda erected to get Westerners to give money; internet centers in India whose primary purpose is to ask Westerners for money; children in African countries purposefully mutilated by their parents so they would solicit sympathy while they beg; a New England-style church built by a Western team in Cameroon that is never used except when the team comes to visit; and slums filled with big-screen TVs and cell phone towers.

I have seen or know of teams of grandmothers who go to African countries and hold baby orphans for a week every year but don’t send a dime to help them otherwise; teams who build houses that never get used; teams that bring the best vacation Bible school material for evangelism when the national church can never bring people back to church unless they have the expensive Western material; teams that lead evangelistic crusades claiming commitments to Christ topping 5,000 every year in the same location with the same people attending.

Short-term missions is fraught with problems, and many wish such trips did not exist, at least in the common form today. Writing in his book Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton says, “Contrary to popular belief, most missions trips and service projects do not: empower those being served, engender healthy cross-cultural relationships, improve quality of live, relieve poverty, change the lives of participants [or] increase support for long-term missions work.” Ouch!

What follows will surely frustrate many. Each of these headings deserves much study, and I would encourage you to do so before you launch out into cross-cultural ministry.

Money, Power, and Dependency

Let’s start with some statistics from Lupton’s book, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It):

Africa has received $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 years, and per capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated, and adult literacy is lower.
85 percent of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.
U.S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30,000 per home—homes locals could have built for $3,000 each.
The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American missions trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.
No one wants to think their generosity hurts people, but books like Dead Aid and When Helping Hurts have alerted us to the problem. So what is going on? The answer is complex and involves issues of basic economics, power, dependency, and bad motives.

Economics

If you have too much of something, the price of the product will drop. An East African country used to have a large clothing industry that employed many people. Then, in our generosity, the West started donating clothing. As a result, people lost their jobs, and if you drive around major cities in Africa, you will see hundreds of vendors selling donated shoes, belts, shirts, and more for less than a dollar.

On one level the issue boils down to relief and development. Relief aid should only last for a few months. The problem with most trips is that we perpetuate relief instead of moving toward development work. Haiti is a perfect example. In the four decades before the 2010 earthquake, $8.3 billion had been given, and yet the country was 25 percent poorer than before the aid began.

Power

How does someone say no to Christians from the world’s most powerful country? It is very difficult to create authentic relationships between people with such disparate power. So if the most powerful Christians (in your mind) say they are coming to help you (even if you don’t want them to), how are you supposed to respond? Plenty of national leaders I know have been notified by U.S. churches that they are sending teams. The national leaders then have to scramble to create something for them to do. It’s normally a disaster. So the New England-style church in Cameroon is never used (and was not asked for), but it sure did make the U.S. team feel good about serving. The American woman who goes to Uganda every year to teach flag dancing to Christian women is only frustrated that no one is making flags and dancing.

Dependency

If you regularly do something for someone that they can do themselves, you create unhealthy dependence. Do not misunderstand: we are not talking about emergency relief situations. I am talking about long-term care. Parents who constantly do things for their kids are blamed for enabling and spoiling them. We rarely think in these terms when it comes to charity work. Construction projects are usually the biggest culprit. I will never forget being on a service project to build a house for a family in West Virginia while I was in high school. The men who lived there watched us do the work.

And it’s not just construction. A Westerner is targeted by beggars. Kids have hit me when I didn’t give them money. It is heart-wrenching to know their parents force them to not wear clothes, withhold food (when they are usually able to provide), and purposefully injure them so they can make money. That’s not what parents are supposed to do, but what they do works, thereby legitimizing such methods in their eyes. One reason this happens is because we are stuck in providing relief instead of moving toward development work.

Motives

The Bahamas receives a short-term missionary for every 15 residents. Our generosity, sad to say, is often tied to a “cool” location and feeling good about what we do. The farther away from home we travel, the more spiritual-seeming the trip. We need to be the ones to paint the church, build the ditch, and put on vacation Bible school. We can’t just send money. We have to send people. This is what causes me to question motives. While I believe there is a thoughtful way to be involved in some sort of cross-cultural, short-term ministry, wise partnership and wise use of money (stewardship!) would seem to dictate we cancel many—most?—of our trips.

Cultural Imperialism and Rhetoric

A little knowledge acquired on short-term trips can be dangerous. Just imagine that three short-term teams from China come to the United States and serve in Lincoln, Nebraska, San Francisco, California, and Detroit, Michigan. They then return to their churches and tell everyone what the United States is like, how the people act, how they struggle with their culture, and how Christians are living for Jesus. Would they really have an picture of the United States?

Of course not, but we seem content to tell everyone what Africa is like after visiting Nairobi.

We often have no clue about the cultural expectations that inform the worldview of people around the world. It’s hard enough to see our own! So an innocent game like painting the faces of kids who show up to a church outreach in Africa turns into community outrage and child abuse as face painting in the region is associated with the demonic.

The rhetoric of our fundraising appeals for these trips also reveals a problem. “We have to get this done.” “They really need our help.” “Thousands of people came to Christ in our outreach service for the third year in a row.” “The believers there are so content in their poverty.” The list goes on. There is temptation to return home with PowerPoint slides, gripping stories, and numerical results.

We want to get things done quickly. We prefer microwave ministry to the slow cooker. Ministry that can be done quickly is not messy and does not cost much.

Effect on Goers, Not Receivers

Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send 20 people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group’s energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They’d like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?

Most trips I know focus on those who are going, not on those receiving the teams. We send youth so they can have an experience or so God can really grip their heart. You may want your adults to gain a larger heart for the nations. Even if research shows that short-term trips do not affect the lives of participants in the long-term, we still send teams.

Hope

I have only scratched the surface of the problems. But I do not want to leave you completely discouraged. I believe short-term ministry has a place, and if done well can bring about healthy interdependence in the global church. In the next article I will explain how.

Image Credit: Tom Farrell

Darren Carlson is the founder and president of Training Leaders International. Carlson overseas the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he earned a master of divinity and master of theology in New Testament. He serves as an adjunct professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis.

Show Us Christ

June 17, 2012

Verse 1
Prepare our hearts, O God
Help us to receive
Break the hard and stony ground
Help our unbelief
Plant Your Word down deep in us
Cause it to bear fruit
Open up our ears to hear
Lead us in Your truth

Chorus
Show us Christ, show us Christ
O God, reveal Your glory
Through the preaching of Your Word
Until every heart confesses Christ is Lord

Verse 2
Your Word is living light
Upon our darkened eyes
Guards us through temptations
Makes the simple wise
Your Word is food for famished ones
Freedom for the slave
Riches for the needy soul
Come speak to us today

Bridge
Where else can we go, Lord
Where else can we go
You have the words of eternal life
credits
from The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11, released 15 November 2011
Music by Doug Plank, words by Doug Plank and Bob Kauflin
© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

15 Things Wives Should Stop Doing

What do your words and actions say to your husband about your love for him?

by Mary May Larmoyeux
In the 1960s, The Supremes recorded their hit song “Stop! In the Name of Love!” I remember singing the words as a teenager: “Before you break my heart … think it o-o-ver …”

Even though I’ve been married for decades now, it’s still important for me to consider my husband’s needs. I should think about the possible effects of my careless words, attitudes, and actions before I break his heart. Can you identify?

I asked some girlfriends, “What should a wife stop doing if she wants to improve her marriage?” This list is based on their responses.

1. Stop thinking that your way is the “right” way. If he does something differently, it does not mean that it’s wrong. When a wife insists on having her own way, she is in essence saying, “I have to be in control.”

2. Don’t put others before your husband. God designed companionship in marriage so that a husband and wife can meet one another’s need for a close, intimate, human relationship. He even said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

So what happens when you put your mother, a friend, or even a child before your spouse? Actually, you take a step (often unintentional) toward isolation in your marriage. If you choose, for example, to spend an afternoon shopping with your mom when your husband asked you to watch a football game with him, you may leave hubby feeling that he has second place in your heart.

3. Don’t expect your husband to be your girlfriend. Most men and women not only look different physically, but also have unique ways of processing life. One example of this is the need for conversation. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m guilty of wearing out my husband with countless conversational details that he doesn’t really care about. Now if he was a girlfriend, all of those details would definitely matter!

4. Don’t dishonor your husband. Suggestions included: Stop all nagging and don’t correct hubby in front of others. If you finish your husband’s sentences, you may be unintentionally communicating, “I don’t really care about what you have to say.”

5. Stop expecting your husband to fail you as your dad failed your mom. “I spent many years waiting for my husband to give up and walk out on me, like my dad had years earlier,” said one friend. Her unfounded fears had robbed her marriage of much joy.

6. Don’t put your husband on the defensive. For example, if you are driving around a section of town looking for a restaurant and he’s obviously lost, does it really help for you to tell him that he’s been going around the same block for the fifth time? One wise wife said that she’s learned to be quiet in situations like this. Now, before she makes a comment, she weighs her words—asking herself: “Are my words needed? Would they be encouraging?” Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

7. Never use sex to bargain with your husband. Some women intentionally or unintentionally say to their husbands, “When I get what I want, you get sex.” However, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 reminds husbands and wives that their bodies are not their own. “Do not deprive one another …”

8. Stop reminding your husband about things over and over. Don’t make him feel guilty or nitpick him about small stuff. One friend said that when we constantly remind our husbands about diet, weight, medication, picking up the dry cleaning, etc., we are actually acting more like his mother than his wife.

9. Don’t make your husband earn your respect. Many women think, I’ll respect him when he earns it. But there’s a reason that Ephesians 5:33 says, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” As one friend said: “If women could learn to understand that respect is a man’s native tongue, that it absolutely heals his heart and ministers to him like nothing else, it would make the biggest difference in the world.”

10. Stop giving your husband your long term to-do list. A colleague warns against overwhelming your husband with too much information. You may unintentionally cause him to feel like a failure, thinking that your long list means you are discontent. Or, he may incorrectly assume that you want him to do something immediately.

11. Don’t act like your spouse is a mind reader. Instead, be specific about your requests. One busy mom said that she used to feel overwhelmed with household chores, wishing her spouse would help her. She now realizes that the only way he knows her needs is when she tells him. “Most often,” she says, “when I simply say, ‘Honey, will you tuck the kids in tonight while I get the kitchen cleaned up,’ he is glad to help.” She’s discovered that a few words are all it takes “to change a resentment-filled, stressed-out night into a team-effort bonding time.”

12. Stop putting housework ahead of hubby. One young mom told her husband that she didn’t want to make love one night because she had just changed the sheets and she wanted them to stay clean. What do you think that response said to her husband? Another woman, who puts her husband ahead of the housework, said: “Do not leave the unfolded laundry on your marriage bed.

13. Put an end to taking the lead because you think he won’t take it. “The first many years of our marriage,” one wife said, “I would see what needed to be done and get frustrated that my husband would not take charge and get it done.” She went on to say that she’s changed by learning to wait on her husband’s leadership. “I really believe,” she says, “that our men don’t lead because we women are too quick to jump in and take care of it all.”

Ephesians 5:23 says, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body … .”

14. Do not expect your husband to be Prince Charming. After all, the perfect husband only exists in fairy tales and your marriage exists in real life. One young wife said that instead of focusing on her husband’s shortcomings, she’s learned to recognize the wonderful things about him. What’s been the result? He’s been encouraged to do even more to be the man of her dreams.

15. Never look first to a book, a plan, or a person to fix a problem in your marriage. Instead go to God’s Word and believe and act on the things that He says. “He will lead me to any resources I need,” one woman said. “God has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) but we have to live according to the promises and expect Him to show up for us.”

A question

The Bible paraphrase The Message, says in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love never gives up … isn’t always ‘me first,’ … doesn’t keep score of the sins of others … trusts God always, always looks for the best.”

What do your words and actions say to your sweetheart about your love? Do you need to stop doing something in your marriage?

Before you answer, think it o-o-ver.

Interesting take. Thoughts?

Evangelical Christianity has been shaped by a “salvation culture,” but should strive for a “Gospel culture,” says Dr. Scot McKnight, professor of religious studies at Northern Seminary.
“The Gospel of salvation has produced what I call a ‘salvation culture’ – a culture marked by who’s in and who’s out. So a very strong sense of ‘we are the in group and others are the out group.’ … A ‘Gospel culture’ is a culture shaped by following Jesus, by living under Jesus as King. A ‘Gospel culture’ includes personal salvation, but it includes so much more,” McKnight said in an interview with The Christian Post.
The Christian Post spoke with McKnight earlier this month while he was at the Pastorum Live conference in Chicago, hosted by Logos Bible Software. McKnight also wrote a book on the topic called The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited.
“The central question of the Bible is not, ‘how can I be saved?'” McKnight said during his presentation. “This is the ‘me’ question. The central question of the New Testament is, ‘who is Jesus?’ This is the ‘God’ question. The ‘me’ question follows the Jesus question.
“The fundamental job of the evangelist is not to get people to feel guilty about sins, or to feel terrorized by an angry God. The central question of evangelism is, ‘who do you think Jesus is?'”
Evangelical pastors, McKnight explained in his interview, are more concerned about precipitating decisions than making disciples.
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“Pastors … preach revivalistic sermons that precipitate decisions, that precipitate experience, and the result is, if I’ve had the experience, I’m in; if I haven’t had the experience, I’m not in. But more importantly, if I’ve had the experience, I’m in and I know who else is in — those who’ve had my experience. So all other people are basically off the map unless they’ve had the same experience. That’s revivalism and that has created what I call a salvation culture.”
McKnight clarified that he is not opposed to salvation, or having a born-again experience. He had a born-again experience himself. But he believes that evangelicals are so focused on that one part of the Gospel that they fail to understand whole of Jesus’ message.
This is demonstrated, McKnight believes, by how few people continue to follow Jesus after they have had a born-again experience. Ninety percent of those who grew up in an evangelical culture make decisions to follow Jesus Christ, he noted. But by age 35, only 20 to 35 percent are still following Jesus.
“What I’m arguing is that we need to have less emphasis on a message that precipitates a decision and more emphasis on a message that guides people into following Jesus.”
Some evangelicals believe “once saved, always saved,” or that once someone makes a decision to follow Christ, they are assured entry to Heaven, even if they stop following Christ. McKnight rejects this contention. Further, he says that neither Calvinists nor Arminians would make that argument.
“A Calvinist doesn’t believe in ‘once saved, always saved.’ They would not be tied into those categories. They would say, once saved, you will persevere. That ‘once saved, always saved’ is revivalist. It’s not Arminianism or Calvinism.”
McKnight noted that even in the “great commission,” (Matthew 28:19-20) the emphasis is not on getting people to make decisions, but on making disciples.
“It didn’t say, ‘go and get people to make decisions.’ It said ‘make disciples.’ How? Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded. So the goal is to get people to become disciples of Jesus by obeying all that Jesus taught.”
Getting Western evangelicals to change from a salvation culture to a Gospel culture would be difficult, McKnight believes, because the salvation culture represents a core part of evangelical identity. But the good news is that renewal is also a core part of evangelical identity.
“I do think that evangelicalism is fundamentally a salvation culture. I think that’s a major part of it. So many components, so many parts that are a simplistic, superficial, shallow salvation culture. But within evangelicalism is the capacity for renewal. This is what we believe in, in the Bible. God is at work today and He can renew us. Also, there are so many powerful examples within evangelicalism of a robust Gospel culture.”
One of those examples, he said, is reformed evangelicalism. Though McKnight is not a reformed evangelical himself, he applauds reformed evangelicals’ emphasis on a broader Gospel culture rather than a narrow salvation culture.
“Reformed evangelicalism is a robust Gospel culture. There is no shallow stuff there.”
If more evangelicals would embrace a Gospel culture, McKnight said, “we would become people who are for other people, not just conscious that we are unique saved ones. We would become people who are here to serve others, to show them the love of God. We would be concerned about fellowship with one another and a life of community that embodied the kingdom of Jesus.”

Have we really taken this seriously and realized our mistakes in getting this wrong?

“The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources.

Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.

But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.”

Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life

A Reminder in Humility

June 14, 2012

A good reminder.

“One of my favorite writers, G.K. Chesterton, put it this way when explaining his theological journey: “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

Theological humility doesn’t mean going around thinking the truth is unknowable. But it involves an awareness that, sometimes, people get stuff wrong. If there’s the slightest possibility you might misunderstand something, you’re better off refusing to condemn a fellow believer — or a fellow human, for that matter — for having come to a different understanding. If you’re going to be wrong, be wrong on the side of grace, not judgment.

Want to exhibit theological humility? First empty your cup of the constant need to be right.”