Wednesday, January 26, 2005

the bridge

I just wanted to let ya know that I haven't quit bloggin. I've just been busy. I hope to write about enemy #2 this weekend.

But here's a quick thought. The blurb of my blog is, "thoughts on my little life and awe of our awesome God." Well, I was thinking about that, in relation to the true truth that we humans are made in the image of God. God has made us as the supreme part of His creation... we have the capacity to reflect and glorify God like nothing else in this universe. Becuase of this, I probably shouldn't say "my little life." It reminds me of a Francis Schaeffer book, "No Little People." That is true, there really are no little people. Human beings have utmost value, because we are made in the image of the infinitely glorious God. Five, applications of this truth: We should examine the way we treat those we consider "little" people (who are they to you? servers? grumpy or obnoxious people? Second, this is part of what makes sin so awful. It takes people who are designed to be something so spectacular and turns us into ugly sinners. Thirdly, the point of salvation is to make us truly human again... to make us into the God-reflectors we were designed to be. Fourthly, I should probably change the little subtitle of my blog. But I'm not going to, because my life is still oh so small compared to the Lord's. Fifthly, go buy something by Francis Schaeffer. I see a lot of people on this little blog network are into C.S. Lewis. Schaeffer is the Lewis of the late 20th century. He is better than anyone I've read at pointing out the spirit of our age, and helping me see things about the way I think that just don't line up with what I say I believe.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Enemy #1 - Materialism

Enemy #1 to Christ-Exalting Marriage – Materialism
There is a mindset that believes the goal of life is to get educated, get married, get your first house, get an extra car, get a bigger house in the nice neighborhood, and provide everything your children will need to do all this and more. It is a mindset of upward mobility, often labeled the American dream. This article does not intend to outlaw things like big houses and cars, but it does want to make us question the way we use our money and the focus that we will choose for our families to have.

The mindset of upward mobility is not absent from the church. Signs of it can be seen even before the wedding, when a young man meets with the father of the girl he wants to marry. The main question is often, “How do you plan to provide for my daughter?” This is not an entirely bad question; the problem is that it often means, “How do you plan to provide lavish material things?” Or “do you have enough earning potential to make sure you will never have to struggle to pay the bills?” A better question may be, “Are you willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter has food and housing and clothes, and are you prepared to provide spiritual leadership for your family?”

Too many guys have great jobs and a nice house, but do not know how to provide for their family. Many men know how to work overtime in order to pay for a tropical vacation, but don’t know how to pray biblically for their wife. Many couples have a thirty year vision for their financial life, but very few even have a one year vision for their spiritual life. For many, money has become the center of their marriage without their knowing it, and it is a center that will not hold. Every couple needs something bigger to live for than a dream home, a nice car, or a European vacation.

Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, and to join Him in His mission to reach the world with the gospel of grace. Instead, many have traded the cross and mission of Jesus Christ for the security of a summer home and a big SUV. When this trade is made, marriage loses its meaning, and God loses some glory. The meaning of marriage is found in walking together with God on mission in the world. How many couples in your church see that as their goal? How many marriage conferences focus on walking with God on mission together? The better question is, how focused are you on that? There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money. But a marriage will be filled with much more joy and glory when couples save to buy Bibles for believers in China, or sacrifice to help a needy family in the church, or save for retirement so they can travel the world sharing the gospel, than if they go into debt to get a car as nice as their Sunday school teacher’s, and a house in the right neighborhood.

Again, I am not saying that we have to buy Bibles for China, and can never buy big SUV’s. But maybe before we make our next purchase or plan our budget, we should ask, “does this decision demonstrate that Christ is the Lord of our family?”

So girls, when you pick a husband don’t pick a guy because he has good earning potential. Pick a man that will take you on a lifetime adventure dedicated to expanding the kingdom of God. And guys, when you choose a girl (and really, the choice is yours. There lots of great girls out there waiting around for a godly guy to step up and marry them), choose a girl that loves to talk about Jesus and to Jesus more than she likes to shop. The glory of God is at stake….

Christ-Exalting Marriage

Many discussions about marriage revolve around, “how to have a happy marriage,” or “how to make your love last a lifetime.” While those goals are good and justified, they are not ultimate. The ultimate goal of marriage is to glorify God, to exalt Christ. Of course, this should be assumed for any follower of Christ, since all of life is to be about making much of God (1 Cor. 10:31). But we must be careful not to leave the most profound and important things in life assumed, or they will eventually be ignored. Marriage, family, raising children; all of these are given to us to help us better understand the nature of God and to display His beauty to a watching world. Paul made this clear in Ephesians 5 when in the midst of the most beautiful instructions for married people ever written, he wrote, “This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

Therefore, when we speak of getting married or being married, there is much more at stake than whether our love will last, or if we will be happy. There is much more on the line, including the fame of Christ, the reputation of His church, and the ability for others to grasp and embrace God’s love (of course none of those things will happen if our marriage doesn't last, or has no joy). This is why we must not take marriage lightly or enter into it selfishly. And once we have entered into this sacred covenant, we must be jealous to guard against any enemy that would rob the Lord Jesus of His rightful honor. And the enemies are legion. In the next few blogs I will write about some of the things that I believe are enemies to Christ-exalting marriage.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A Mighty Fortress

Well, its been a while since last I wrote. I had a one week class when I got back here to Kentucky. So life has been crazy. But I have still had plenty of time to enjoy my family, and draw closer to God. I was singing this old powerful song to myson (who is still 12 weeks away from being born) the other night, and thought you might like to be reminded of what a great God we serve. It is written by one of the heros (though flawed like all our human heros are) of the faith. Songs like this are not sung much in our churches anymore. That is a shame. Songs like this are not written much anymore. That is a tragedy. We need more God exalting, soul stirring songs, that flow from hearts that have been much with God and suffered much on the narrow road. Well, without further introduction, here it is... Please read it, and think about it, and pray through it, be encouraged by it and most of all SING IT!

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing;
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho' this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim - We tremble not for Him;
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly power, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro' Him who with us sideth:
Let good and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER!
(By Martin Luther, at some point in the 16th century)