Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Some Thoughts on Biblical Submission and Headship:

Some thoughts on Biblical submission and headship:

There are some very dangerous and unscriptural thoughts regarding submission that I have witnessed/heard over the years, and have been greatly disturbed by of recent days. Many men, and preachers, have taught and practiced that the woman is supposed to submit to the man; and by submit they mean that the woman is to agree with and obey the man in everything, following him without question, without any objection or disagreement, even without sharing her thoughts, beliefs or opinions.

When it comes to the subject of headship, men have once again erred and believed and taught that God’s placing them as the head of the home means that they are “large and in charge”, that they are in power over those in the their home and that everyone under their roof must agree with them in everything – or else!

Sadly, many well-meaning, Christian women have believed these lies. Sadder still, many Christian young men are growing up to treat their wives, and women in general, in accordance with these lies, which is nothing short of abuse. (Look up the definition of the word.)

For the record, the very word submission suggests a difference of desire, belief or opinion. Where there is agreement, we do not speak of submission, but unity. The Biblical definition of submission (the definition we see exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ) is a yielding of one’s desire to the desires and/or leading of another. Submission is not agreement, it is yielding.

Biblical headship is meek, humble, leading by serving. I will continue to proclaim the truth of authority/headship: The reality of authority is that it is a responsibility to serve. The Biblical man will always seek, listen to and respect his wife’s desires, thoughts and opinions, taking them under consideration in everything he leads his family to do. True headship will always do what is in the best interest (according to God’s Word) of those under its authority, and do so with love and compassion.

Yes, I believe that the wife is to submit to her husband. I believe that the man is the head of the home. But what is most important before these is that I know and believe God’s definition of submission and headship, and practice them accordingly. Man’s definition of these two subjects leads to abuse, and has brought much misery to marriages and homes. No man, who does not understand, believe and accept God’s definition of these two subjects, is fit for the role of husband, father or leader in any capacity.

Much more could be said; this is sufficient for my purpose at this time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

She Doesn't Belong to You!

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She Doesn’t Belong to You!
An Open Letter to Young Men

The purpose of this letter is to address a couple of things that have disturbed me for some time now, and increasingly so in recent months and weeks. This letter is not directed at any particular individuals, although it is indeed applicable to several young people that I know today.

I realize that this letter will seem old fashioned in principle to many, even if the wording is modern. Should you consider this letter and myself so, I simply direct you to Jer. 6:16.

Over recent years I have observed many young people (some, even yet children) referring to their special friend of the opposite sex as, “my girl” or “my man”. I am not speaking of married couples, but of boys and girls, young men and young women who are dating or courting, yet often who are not even yet engaged to one another. Neither is it uncommon to see pictures of “lovers” hugging, kissing, and holding hands or perhaps just sitting so close together a flea couldn’t squeeze through.  Over the recent July 4th holiday, while spending some time in WV with family, one of my sisters asked me what I thought about boys and girls hugging by way of greeting; apparently, there have been several people tell her that she should not have any problems with boys and girls hugging by way of greeting, indicating that this should be and seem natural; there is also a book for girls written by a couple of sisters that espouses the same idea.

Here is what I want to know: What makes you think, young man, that she belongs to you? And to whom do you belong?
Ironically, the people I am referring to are people who would claim to be Christians (in reality, a Christian is someone whom others believe is a follower of Jesus Christ). Of course, I can’t tell it by what they are saying in this respect, nor by the way they look and act like the rest of the lost world in their flirting with impurity, but that is what they would claim. Some may in fact be erring because of ignorance; however, I know that many are not in ignorance, but grew up in homes that taught better.

Allow me to first address this issue of you calling your special friend, “my girl”. Can someone please, please, tell me in what way your special friend belongs to you??? You haven’t announced an engagement: you are not brother or sister (I hope, and that would be beyond creepy anyway!): to my knowledge you don’t believe in slavery; so in what way does your special friend belong to you? Young man, have you asked her father for her hand in marriage yet? Have you paid the bride price already if her father requires it? Have you asked her to do you the honor of becoming your wife? If so, then perhaps it may be acceptable to refer to your special friend in this manner (although I would still argue otherwise, and believe it most truthful to say, “my fiancé”); but why then have others and I not been told the wonderful and exciting news of your upcoming wedding? After all, you are speaking in a manner that denotes ownership. And yet, I am certain that your last names are still different, that you do not pay for her room and board or education, and that you have never claimed her as a dependent on your tax forms! Maybe you should ask her father whose girl she is!!! I understand of whom a man is speaking when he says, “my wife” or “my daughter”; but when you, who aren’t married and do not have children (I hope) say, “my girl” you put me to some confusion. I won’t even bother to talk about the fact that if something happens between you and the one you are claiming as your girl, it is only a matter of time until you call another girl “my girl”… Seriously??? Can you not see the foolishness of this? Frankly, every time you call a girl, “my girl” when she is not, you are telling an untruth. I won’t say that you are lying, because to lie is to tell a falsehood knowingly, and many of you have been ignorant of these principles. Of course, now that you have read this, you are no longer in ignorance. So stop it already!

Now, let’s consider touching before marriage. And again I ask the questions: What makes you think that she belongs to you, and that you have a right to touch her? And to whom do you belong?
One would like to think that this would no longer need to be addressed; however, a simple glimpse around the church building, the grocery store or Facebook will make it amply clear that there remains a great need for more teaching/preaching in this area.  

The passage of Scripture that most people think of in connection with this subject is 1Cor. 7:1,2; they do so with good reason. I want to direct your attention to a couple of the words here, and their definitions.

The first word that we want to consider is the word “good” in verse 1. It is Strong’s #2570 and means beautiful, valuable or virtuous. This word is found repeatedly throughout the New Testament, with the following being just a few examples: Matt. 3:10; 5:16; John 10:11,14,32; Rom. 14:21; 1Cor. 5:6; 1Tim. 3:1,7; 2Tim. 4:7.

Now let’s look at the word “touch” in verse 1. It is Strong’s #680 and means simply “to attach oneself to, i.e., to touch”. Considering the context of where we find this verse, it is quite clear here that the meaning of the word “touch” means to touch in a sensual manner; that is, any touch that is, or is intended to be, for sexual pleasure or gratification. I suppose that many young men would try to argue that their desire to simply hold hands is not intended to be sensual; however, I do not believe there is any way for it to be otherwise. You wouldn’t just casually hold the hand of just any girl would you? (If you answered “yes” to that, go back to the beginning where I addressed the principle of ownership.) So then, why do you desire to hold the hand of your special friend (or hug, or kiss her)? As a frank and honest man, and as a married man, I assure you that even the holding of a woman’s hand is indeed a sensual matter (usually excluding times of assistance), as is putting your arm around her, etc.; blessed of God if you are married, “not good” if you are not.

But let us look further at this word translated touch in our text. We also find it scattered in the New Testament; in fact, in the Authorized Version there appears to be only 2 other Greek words translated touch for a total of three uses, versus Strong’s #680 which is translated touch 13x. Some examples of this word are in the following references: Matt. 9:21; Mark 6:56; John 20:17; 2Cor. 6:17. Do you think for an instant that the woman with an issue of blood in Matt. 9:21 desired to caress or fondle the garment of Jesus? Or that the sick in Mark 6:56 had to caress, hold on to or fondle the border of His garment in order to be made whole? Do you intend to interpret 2Cor. 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” as meaning only a lingering, caressing or fondling hold on the unclean thing? You know this is not right! And yet, it is the same word spoken when it says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman”. Can you not see how inconsistent it is to interpret all of the other instances of this word as meaning a simple touch, and yet try to redefine this one in such a manner so as to allow for your lust? What we learn here is that, even though the word “touch” in 1Cor. 7:1 means a sensual touch in its strictest contextual sense, even a simple touch may be sensual; this would be determined by the purpose and intent of the touch.

Please do not understand me to say that I believe to greet a woman with a handshake, or a touch of necessity (as in helping a woman who is injured, elderly, young, weak, etc.) is wrong, for I do not. What I am addressing is the intentional and unnecessary touching’s of play and affection that so many engage in before marriage.

Let us go further in these verses and look at verse 2 of 1Cor. 7. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” Now there is ownership and possession I can understand, and of which God Almighty approves! Isn’t it interesting that it doesn’t say, ‘let every man have his own girl’ (or girlfriend, or fiancé)? No, it says, “wife”, because that alone is approved by God! Is this what you can call your special friend?

So let me be blunt with you. Your touching (sitting right up against one another, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing, fondling) of your special friend that you are considering for marriage, or perhaps are even engaged to, is, according to this passage, “not good”! The apostle Paul says that it is “good for a man not to touch a woman”; that is, that it is beautiful, valuable and virtuous not to touch a woman. What you are doing by and in your touching is the exact opposite. In this aspect, your relationship is not beautiful, valuable or virtuous. Considering verse 2 (“to avoid fornication”), I would go so far as to say that your touching before marriage comes at least very close to fornication, even if it is not technically so.

But 1Cor. 7:1,2 is not the only passage giving direction in this area of relationships. What about Prov. 6:27-29 “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth into his neighbors wife; whosever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” Perhaps you say that your special friend is not someone else’s wife; that may very well be true, but neither is she yours, and that is the point (remember what I wrote at the beginning?). Young man, you have no idea what passions may be aroused (as God intended them to be!) by a simple touch! You think, perhaps, that you can imagine it, but if you have never touched a girl that you love (here I use the word “love” to mean affection for), there is no way that you can even begin to have an idea of what that is like. “whosever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” Hands off for purity’s sake! Hands off for safety’s sake! Hands off for testimony’s sake!

I once asked a young man why he wanted to touch his special friend, and his answer was, that he loved her and intended to marry her. Time will not permit me to fully expound upon it, but such a desire is not love, but lust. Love would not want to do something to or with his special friend, the one he hoped would someday be his wife, that would not be beautiful, valuable or virtuous either for her or him. The only way such a young man’s desire could be defined as love is if he were speaking of love of himself. He stated to me as his defense that the desire to touch is “a natural response to the growth of a healthy relationship.” While I wholeheartedly agree with that statement (and thank God it is so!), that is no justification for the touching to begin before marriage. I might just as well, and just as truthfully, say that the desire to physically “know” a woman is a natural response to the growth of a healthy relationship. His argument for touching (whether that be holding of hands, kissing or hugging) is as good of a justification for the one as for the other. Furthermore, just because he intended to marry her does not mean that they were married, or even that they would be; only time would tell the truth of that, regardless of how much both might have wanted it. In other words, she didn’t belong to him, and that is the crux of this whole matter.

A word on boundaries:
If what has been said and the Scriptures shared have not been enough to convince you that it is wrong to touch before marriage, then perhaps a little more reasoning will help. So many young people say that they have discussed touching with their special friend and that they have set boundaries for themselves. Yet, who are we to set boundaries? Should we not rather go to God’s Word, which is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” and search for His boundaries and obey them? But this defense by young people of boundaries can actually give some light on the whole question of touching. Please, can you tell me where in the Scripture you can find a boundary that says it is OK to hold hands, but hugging is definitely out? Or that holding hands and hugging is OK, but kissing is a no-no? Or how about that it is OK to kiss, but going any farther is forbidden? You can’t find those boundaries and you know it! There is nothing in the Bible that I am aware of that either expressly or implicitly establishes any distinction in boundaries before marriage such as these. So, that leads me to believe that either no touching is permissible or that all touching is. It’s all or nothing! And I think by now we know God’s will (and Word) on the matter; the question is, are you going to obey Him? Again, I’ll just put it bluntly to you: It is not your place to set boundaries. Your responsibility (and mine as a married man) is to go to God’s Word, read the boundaries He has established and simply obey them. Stop trying to fool yourself with a façade of righteousness and spirituality by saying that you have established the boundaries and simply submit to following the principles of God’s Holy Word!

A personal testimony:
If you have never touched a girl before, you have no idea the pull that first touch will bring. I have been married for two and a half years, but it is not so long ago that I have forgotten the first time I touched my wife! And yes, thank God, she was my wife when we first touched. I remember the first time we held hands, the first time I put my hands on her and the first time we kissed. And I’m so thankful that we didn’t do it before the wedding. You see, waiting until after we were married meant that we were free to touch; there was nothing in the way. We didn’t have to worry about boundaries or going too far. Our touching was approved and blessed by God, and it was a good thing! I firmly believe that if we had touched before marriage, even just holding hands, we would have felt guilt later and touching after marriage would have lost some if its blessing and joy in the guilt of remembering that we didn’t wait. I have never heard one couple that regretted waiting until the wedding to touch, but I have heard from those who wished they had. You think you just can’t wait to touch her, but you might as well get used to it. Depending on the woman you do marry, there may be days when she doesn’t want you to touch her, and may even refuse to allow it. (Thankfully, my wife is not such an one. )  There will be weeks, perhaps even months when you will have to wait on her; if you can’t control yourself now, you probably won’t be able to then either. And the man that loves his wife will wait not only on her, but for her, including before she becomes his wife.

You say that you just cannot wait that long!
Perhaps you feel that you just cannot wait until the wedding day to touch her. Well, God has an answer for that: “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them to abide even as I. But it they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” 1Cor. 7:8,9. If indeed you feel that you just cannot wait, then marry! That is God’s answer! He didn’t say to hold hands a little to try and cool the fire, or to go ahead and kiss once in a while to ease the tension. Because God, who made us, knows that He designed these things to bring a couple closer together, to ignite the passions of love, to culminate in husband and wife becoming one. And He said, “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife”; that is His answer to your desires of touch. I am not saying that a quick marriage is best by any means, and neither was the apostle Paul; in some ways, it will be trading one trouble for others (financial, lack of preparation, etc.). But what he was saying, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is that it is better to marry and have some troubles, than to burn with desire and commit fornicaton.

Now, let me ask you again a question I have asked twice already: to whom do you belong?
I have written this open letter to young men, but not to just any young men. I have written to young men with the assumption that they are professing Christians. But now I want to ask you, to whom do you belong? If you profess to be a Christian, then you are not your own; God owns you by his purchase through the shed blood of his Son Jesus Christ. You are not free to do whatever you want, and that includes touching whomever you want with your body. You are no more your own than a married man is his own; you belong to Another, just as he belongs to another. Are you going to take the body God has given you, with the passions that He has given you and use them in a way not pleasing to Him? What example will you set for those around you in this matter of purity before marriage? 1Thess. 5:22 says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” You may argue that your touching isn’t fornication; I don’t know your heart, and so can’t definitively say that it is; but one thing is certain, it sure enough looks like it! And if you continue in your insistence to touch, I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for the possibility of your remaining pure in thought and deed before marriage. And I will tell you straight out that what you are doing is contrary to all virtue and that it is of no value in your pre-marital relationship. I will not think your pictures where the both of you are practically sitting on top of one another are cute; instead they are saddening in that they show you do not hold the bonds of marriage sacred. That alone should be enough to cause your special friend concern; because if you don’t hold the bonds of marriage sacred now, you may not do so after marriage either.

I’m not trying to be mean or hateful. But no one else I know is telling young men the truth of God’s Word in this area, and with the dangers in this area some sternness and directness seems to be in order.

A distinction noted:
Some young men who are somewhat familiar with the Bible may say, in defense of their words and actions of familiarity such as I am writing against, that young men and young women of Bible times were considered and called husband and wife after their engagement but before the wedding. This would only be partly true, though, as those during Bible days were betrothed and not engaged. Our engagements of today are nothing like the betrothals then. Under the betrothal system, the bride price was paid, and there appears to have been a covenant to marry. Before family and friends, and according to the law, the man and the woman actually belonged to one another; they were indeed husband and wife although that marriage had not been consummated. Under betrothal, both had a covenantal, societal and legal claim on the other.

This is not at all like our engagement system of today. While some born-again young people have every true intention of marrying the one they have asked to marry them or promised to marry, there is nothing covenantally, legally or officially binding them. And therein lies the problem: they are not by covenant, nor in the eyes of society or the law (either God’s or man’s) husband and wife: they do not belong to one another in any way. (This is not to say that it is always necessary for society and/or the law of man to approve or disapprove of a marriage for it to be legitimate or illegitimate.) A betrothal was a covenant that could only be broken due to unfaithfulness on the part of the other; engagements are broken frequently for many varied reasons and with little thought as to the seriousness of one’s word.

While I would still maintain that it is best and wisest to refrain from touching until the marriage has taken place, if a man and woman were to do a betrothal, that is, to covenant to one another before witnesses to become husband and wife, I would not go so far as to consider and call it fornication as I do now. But until families (parents and children) go back to this system – hands off!

May God bless you and your special friend as you seek His will for your life! And may God give you the grace and resolve of virtuous character to remain pure until the time when you both belong to each other until death do you part!

In Christian love and concern,
Paul B. Carpenter

P.S. I know that this is written with sarcasm, bluntness and passion; please do not mistake me to be or feel mean or hateful as a result. While I am increasingly of the belief that gentleness in writing is best, for my purpose here I felt that some direct "confrontational" words were in order.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Shoebox, New Year’s Resolutions and Failing.

The Shoebox, New Year’s Resolutions and Failing.

In my office is a shoebox. It is full of receipts from two years ago, receipts that were never properly recorded as I normally try to do before throwing them away.

February has just ended, only two months into the year; and like the shoebox, there are many things I intended to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that are left undone already.

Many of you may be in the same place, perhaps you have a similar “shoebox”; it may be physical or it may be spiritual. You made some resolutions for the New Year, maybe “official” ones, maybe public maybe private. Perhaps you wrote them down, perhaps you didn’t. But between Jan. 1st and Feb. 28th, those resolutions, those desires to do better, have fallen now and then, or perhaps altogether. Perhaps your “shoebox” is years old, full of old desires and dreams that you have given up on. Some of these things that we have failed to do, fulfill or accomplish are serious (sin to omit or commit), others are not so important.

The question now is, what are we going to do about it? We have a choice to make: either to give up and fail, or try again to succeed. Please note that the first has determined and guaranteed results, the second is yet to be decided.

Children fall often while learning to walk; yet, unless there is a physical handicap that prohibits, all succeed. The christian life is very similar to a child learning to walk in that we fall repeatedly, either through ignorance or willful disobedience. Yet some believers seem to grow more than others, and we often wonder why. I suggest the reason is because some choose to get back up and go on when they fall, while others decide to remain where they fell.

In Matt. 26 Jesus took his disciples with him into the garden to pray, and asked them to watch with him. In his humanity he desired and needed the comfort of human compassion and friendship. The disciples failed their best friend and slept while he was in agony of spirit; three times Jesus came to them, and three times he found them sleeping. They had fallen, but he would not let them fail. The words of Jesus to his disciples are full of hope for us today: in verse 46 he said, “Rise, let us be going:” This is what Jesus wants us to do when we fall, just like the parent encourages their child when they fall learning to walk. And he does not merely want us to get back up and go on alone, saying that he is ashamed of us and no longer counts us as a friend or wants to be with us; but he calls us to walk with him again! Note well what Jesus said, “let us be going”. “US”! He is not just going with us, but is calling us again to walk with him where he goes!

Perhaps you have fallen, but you don’t have to fail. Jesus wants you to get up, and he is willing to help you do so, and then to walk with you to keep you from falling again. Stop measuring your success by one moment of time, by some instance of ‘falling’. We measure the success of the most successful, not at a moment, but over time and often not until the end of their life. If you have breath left, there is still time to try to succeed.

Remember: you and I will remain where we fall if we refuse to get back up again; this is failing. Do you want to remain where you are? I don’t. But the only way not to is to “Rise, …and be going”.  Falling is temporary, failing is permanent; the first is natural, the second a choice. Maybe we’ve fallen so hard that all we can do at the first is to get up on our hands and knees and crawl, but Jesus wants us to get back up!

There are examples in the Bible of men who fell, two of which serve well to our point. Both Saul and David fell, but only one failed (1Sam. 15 and Psa. 51). The difference between them was that David was humble enough to admit his sin and ask for forgiveness and help, while Saul was proud and refused to confess his wrong. Which will we be like? Are we willing to admit our fallings? Are we willing to believe God when he says that he will forgive us and help us up again? 1John 1:9

Everyone falls, but it is only those that refuse to get back up and go on that fail. Will you merely fall, or will you fail?

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philip. 3:13,14

Today is a new day, today is a new month: “Rise, let us be going:”

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Daddy I Didn't Get To Be

-->Oct. 1, 2014, my dear wife and I learned from the midwife that there was no heartbeat from our little one. This was the second pregnancy, and would be the second miscarriage within a ten-month period.

Several weeks ago, just before going to sleep, my precious Jewel whispered in my ear, “You were a good Daddy to our baby.” I said nothing, but thought to myself, “But I didn’t get to be a Daddy. I am a father, yes, but not a Daddy.” I have continued to think of this. So few men realize that there is a difference between a Daddy and a father. From a Biblical viewpoint, they are often one and the same (unless of course, the passage is speaking strictly biologically. And yes, I do know that the Scriptures do not use the word “Daddy”, but the concept is there.); but in our culture today, there is indeed a difference of meaning. Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man, a Bible man, to be a Daddy.

What is my definition of a Daddy, you ask? The following is the Daddy I wanted to be.

I wanted to be a leader, something that every Daddy will be, either for good or bad. I’m not talking about the authoritative/disciplinarian/dictator type of leader. That type of man is no leader; he is a weak, self-centered, unkind and uncaring brute; most animals are better than he. I’m talking about the Bible type of leader. The type of leader that shares his vision with his children, that says to his sons and daughters, “Let’s follow the Lord!” The type of leader that says, “Come, let us go” not the type that says, “Go’. The Bible type of leader is gentle and tender with those under his care, always going before and calling onward, yet constantly looking back to make sure that none fall behind. He is in the front, bearing all the responsibility and shielding his family from danger, never requiring of others what he will not do. He is temperate in all things and is as consistent as he knows to be.

I wanted to be a teacher, and every good Daddy is one. Not first because it is his duty (although it is), but because it is his heart. His greatest desires are that his children will go far beyond his own knowledge, skills and accomplishments; and he gives his life to this end. To this end he gives of his time and body, sacrificing his own personal desires on a daily basis. In his teaching he exercises the utmost patience, and does so with love and compassion. In the things that are too hard, he lends a helping hand; yet he knows when to step back and let a child learn by his mistakes. He is an encourager, and shows pleasure and delight in even the smallest accomplishments, or even just the efforts that failed.

I wanted to be a comforter to my children, knowing that there will be many times in life that they will need it. Most people think that Mommy should be the comforter; I believe Daddy should not only be so as well, but that he should be the example of it to his children’s Mommy. Everyone knows that children fall repeatedly when learning to walk; this falling continues to repeat itself throughout a child’s life, just in different ways. Parents accept the fact that they will have to help their child get up when they are learning to walk; but then as the child grows up those same parents become exasperated when the child ‘falls down’ and needs help getting up again. Fathers help their toddlers up when they fall; Daddys help their child up again throughout life, comforting them and encouraging them on. Every child should know that no matter what has gone wrong, no matter even what they have done, they can find comfort from their Daddy. Yes, I realize that when a child sins there are consequences, just like there are for us when we sin against the Lord. Yet we can still find comfort from our heavenly Father, and he is the example we must follow if we are to be the best Daddy.

I wanted to be a friend to my children; and not just any friend, but their best friend until such time as they married (in which case, I would encourage and hope that their spouse would become their best friend). I wanted to be a friend like the Bible talks about, one that loveth at all times, even when they hurt or disappointed me. Being a friend is hard work, and often goes without thanks. A true friend says and does the hard things, listens patiently, forgives readily, is there whenever needed and willingly lends a helping hand. Every good Daddy is a best friend to his children. No man will be adequately able to be the leader, teacher or comforter he should be to his children if they do not first know that Daddy is their friend.

I wanted to be a servant to my children. Very few men seem to realize that this is what they are called to and responsible for as a Daddy, but this is what it is all about. Most men like to think that they are “in charge” and “in authority”. In truth, they are correct because God has made them the head of the home. But this headship is not about being “the Boss”, because authority is nothing more than the responsibility/duty to serve. He who is in authority is nothing more than a servant to the one who gave him that authority, as well as being a servant to those under him. Knowing this, I wanted to be a servant to my children because only as I excelled in this could I please the Lord in my duties as a Daddy, duties God gives and to whom I would be accountable for.

Why do I write this? Because there are a lot of fathers out there who have never heard what it means to be a Daddy. Their father didn’t know (or didn’t adequately teach them) and their pastor isn’t telling them either. This short writing by no means does justice to what is required to be a good Daddy. But if it will at least make someone pause and consider what kind of Daddy they are to their children, I’ll be thankful.

Please, go be the Daddy I didn’t get to be. Your children will thank you for the rest of their life.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

God's Providences

God's Providences

We are not permitted to view the future providences of God; we know not whither its wheel may next turn. But looking back upon the past providences of God we can know with full assurance that those yet to come will be for our best.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

“Hear Him”

“Hear Him”                                                                                                          

Mark 9:7 “And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

Much has been written, and much has been said and preached regarding following Christ, but little is heard regarding hearing Him. It seems fitting at the beginning of a New Year to consider this most important subject, and the command given in the text, for Jesus plainly stated that before we can follow him we must first hear his voice. (John 10:4, 27)

Yet before we can look at hearing Him, there is the subject of our personal salvation that must be considered. If we are to “hear him”, it is necessary that we belong to him. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice”. Throughout John chapter 10, Jesus makes it clear that his sheep hear his voice and follow him; he also made it very clear that those who are not his sheep do not hear his voice – “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep”. 2Pet. 1:10 says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” There is little use in studying how to follow Jesus unless we are first certain that we are his; for we cannot follow him rightly unless and until we truly know him.

To hear means to give audience or allowance to speak. It means to attend favorably to, to regard; to listen to. In the text, it carries with it the assumption of obedience. To hear means to learn, to approve, and embrace. It means to lend, turn, or incline the ear.

God said to “hear” Jesus. That is, we are to attend favorably to him; we are to approve and embrace his words. If we are to “hear him” we must be listening. We are always listening for the voice of one we love; and when we hear them speak, we listen to them, eagerly desiring to catch every word. Are we listening for the voice of Jesus? If to hear means to give allowance to speak, then are we devoting time to listening for our Saviour? Or do we only speak to Him? When he would speak to us, when the Spirit prompts to prayer, do we incline our ear to him? Or do we offer some excuse of inconvenience (Songs 5:3)?

We are told to “hear him”. We are not told to hear any other but Jesus. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice”; and in John 10:5 he said that, “they know not the voice of strangers.” How sad that so many of God’s professed people better know the voice of others, yet cannot even hear the voice of the One who loves them and gave his life for them! The apostle Paul said that there are “many kinds of voices in the world”; how true that is! There are voices of friends and foes; voices of family and loved ones; voices of employments and cares. These can be true and right, or they may be false and wrong. However, the reality is that the many kinds of voices may be categorized into two: the voice of the Word, and the voice of the world. The many kinds of voices are constantly calling, and if we are not listening for and to his voice, the “many kinds” will so distract us that we will not be able to hear him when he calls. And if we cannot hear him when he calls, then we will not follow.

In the command to “hear him” there is the suggestion that we are not to hear others. We are not to listen to them, we are not to give them allowance to speak, we are not to regard or obey them, nor even give them the time of day. We are only to “hear him”. And this thought suggested by the text is verified by Jesus himself when he said, “for they know not the voice of strangers.” Yes, it is true that God can and does at times speak through some or all of these; only if we know him will we be able to discern when it is his voice through others, and when it is the voice of others. The Scriptures are the rule to give us discernment in this.

While no specific time of hearing is stated, and while we know that we are always to “hear him”, listening for his voice, yet the text suggests a particular time of which it is helpful to note. The text says, “And there was a cloud… and a voice came out of the cloud”. God is not always so near when the sun is shining, for then we do not feel our need of him; and J.R. Miller rightly points out (speaking of Luke 24:28, 29) that Jesus “loves to be constrained. He does not go where he is not really and earnestly desired, where his presence is not eagerly sought after.” When life is dark and the clouds seem to hang low, then, as much as ever, we ought to “hear him”. Many times we are tempted when facing some trouble to think that Jesus is not near, that he does not care; we often feel alone and forsaken. Yet this is not so, and it is during the cloudy days that the Lord’s gentle leading may be the most evident, when he speaks most tenderly to his sheep. Jesus is near on cloudy days.

This year, whether it be one of sunshine or clouds, triumphs or troubles, may we “hear him”; not just with the hearing of the ear, but of the heart and life. May we hear the Word and not the world. May we hear him in obedience and faith, and not in rebellion and unbelief.

May it be the resolve of God’s people to “hear him” in 2013!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Where Will You Be One Year From Now?
Rise up... and go

New Years often mark new beginnings.  New beginnings are begun by first considering where we have been (or are), then where we desire to be. It is sometimes helpful to look back and see where we have been in life, yet at the same time it can be something that causes us to stumble if we have regrets of where we have been. Let us each carefully and prayerfully consider the following questions, asking God to speak to our hearts: 1. How long have I been a child of God? 2. What has changed in my life since I was born again? 3. Where have I been since that day? 4. Am I where God wants me to be? 5. What am I doing to reach the place God wants me?

In these questions, I am not asking “where” in the physical sense (though that could also apply), but in the spiritual sense. Looking back to the time of conversion, and considering all of the changes that took place as a result of the saving grace of God in granting faith and repentance, all of the love for Jesus Christ that was felt and manifest, and the desire to live every aspect of my life in a manner pleasing to Him, how does that compare to where I am now?

Many times when looking back, we see little but failure: failure to love the Lord as we ought; failure to love family and friends as we ought; failure to love the lost as we ought; failure to live a holy life as we ought. We see sins both of commission and omission. In truth, if we are honest, we will find that many of the sins that were present in our hearts before conversion are still present in our flesh, although (hopefully) by the sanctifying work of God they are not as manifest as they once were. If we are honest, we must still look at our past life as a child of God and say ‘I am of all men most miserable a sinner.’

The difficulty with looking back and seeing all our failures is that often despair and discouragement come to plague our thoughts. This is one of Satan’s greatest and most successful weapons against the child of God, for the one who is discouraged and in despair is one who is stuck in his past and is not reaching the place of holiness and sanctification that God desires us each to reach.

It was during a time of such despair in my life brought on by the thoughts of my failures that God in his merciful kindness and love brought to me the Scripture “Rise up, let us go” through a devotional by J.R. Miller. (See Mark 14:32-42) This word was spoken by Jesus to the disciples in the garden when they had fallen asleep, when they had failed the Lord at a time when they had great opportunity to minister to the Lord. They had lost the time, the opportunity was gone, never to return. Never again would they have that same opportunity, never again would they be able to use that time. It is often the same with us as we look at our past; those opportunities of the past to minister to the Lord, to speak a word of love to both the lost and saved, to spend that time in prayer, are gone; the time has already been wasted, never to return.

While it is true that when we are made aware by God of past sins and failures that we are to deal with those by repenting of them and seeking to make right whatever wrong we have done, yet we must be careful lest we dwell on the past in a manner which would cause us to despair. Note that above I emphasized “by God”: we must not spend our time constantly combing over our past life looking for sins and failures.  This will contribute to despair, and will open a door  for Satan to tempt us; it will effectively keep us from ever reaching the place of sanctified service God would have us, as we will not have time left to focus on where we should be for focusing on where we have been.

It is quite clear from the words of Jesus that he did not desire his disciples to dwell on how they had just failed him, neither to remain sleeping as if nothing had happened. He told them to “Rise up”. As we begin a New Year, we need to do the same. We need to set aside the failures of the past (aside from making them right and remembering the lessons learned), to ‘Rise up,... and go’. Men and women who live constantly dwelling in the failures of the past are not needed; these may be found in great plenty. Men and women are needed who will rise up from the failures of the past, learning the lessons of those failures, and go forward to live a victorious life of service for and to God. It is this to which Jesus called the disciples.

A great comfort is to be found in the words “let us go”. Jesus did not intend that the disciples should go without direction and help; he said “us”, thus showing that they were to go together. We must never endeavor to forge ahead of our failures without the presence and help of Jesus Christ. The account that follows of Peter’s denial shows this in great clarity.

For many of us, looking back at 2011 might be discouraging as we think of its failures, the times we have given in to temptation, the sorrows and tears. But let us determine by the help of God to let past failings be a goad to greater faithfulness, to incite us to more careful watchings, to encourage us to spend more time in prayer and study of God’s Word, to be a lesson of our constant need of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Miller says “Yet why should a man squander all because he has squandered the best?” “ Because we have failed in one duty we must not give up in despair. There are other opportunities waiting...”

So we have failed, what then? Let us repent, ‘Rise up, and go’. Waste not precious time this year dwelling in the past but rather reach for the place God desires you to be.  We may well ask ‘Where have I been?’, but we would better ask ‘Where will I be?’ This time one year from now, will you have gone forward in your spiritual life, or will you be where you are now?

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philip. 3:13,14

Those who desire to be a different person tomorrow must begin change today.