• Thursday, February 25, 2010
  • For my personal Bible reading plan, I have for several years done what is called the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. I have recommended it to many of you.

    Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a godly Presbyterian pastor in Scotland (He died in 1843 at about the age of 30). He had a deep love for the Bible and he loved to preach Christ to all he came into contact with, but especially to the children in attendance. He was a convinced paedobaptist, but knew water and covenants didn't save. M'Cheyene knew the work was up to the Holy Spirit in the real-time life of the child. He wrote many letters to the young children in his congregation. Below is one of these gems.

    TO J. T., COLLACE, January 27, 1842.

    I was very glad to receive your kind note, and am glad to send you a short line in return, although my time is much taken up. You are very dear to me, because your soul is precious; and if you are ever brought to Jesus, washed and justified, you will praise Him more sweetly than an angel of light. I was riding among the snow to - day, where no foot had trodden, and it was pure, pure white; and I thought again and again of that verse: ' Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow! That is a sweet prayer: make it your own. Often go alone and look up to Jesus, who died to wash us from our sins, and say, 'Wash me.' Amelia Geddie was one day dressed in a new white frock, with red ribbons in her bonnet, and some one said to her, ' No doubt you will think yourself very trim and clean ?' ' Ah! no,' she said ; I will never think that until I have the fine white robe of my Redeemer's righteousness put upon me.' I am glad, my dear boy, you think that God is afflicting you to bring you to Himself. It is really for this that He smites you. His heart, His hand, and His rod, are all inscribed with love. But then, see that He does bring you to Himself. Do not delay. The lake of fire and brimstone stretches beneath every soul that lives in sin. ' There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.' If the Lord Jesus would but draw the curtain, and let you see His own fair face, and His wounded side, and how there is room for the guiltiest sinner in Him, you would be drawn to Jesus with the cords of love. I was preaching in Perth last Sabbath. When I came out, a little girl came up to me, I think about three or four years old. She wanted to hear of the way to be saved. Her mother said she had been crying the whole night before about her soul, and would take no comfort till she should find Jesus. Oh! pray that the same Spirit may waken you. Remember, Johnnie, you once wept for your soul too, and prayed and sought Jesus. Have you found Him? or have you looked back, like Lot's wife, and become a hard, cold pillar of salt ? Awake again, and call upon the name of the Lord. Your time may be short, God only knows. The longest lifetime is short enough. It is all that is given you to be converted in. They are the happiest who are brought soonest to the bosom of Jesus.

    Write me again. At present I must draw to a close. Give my kindest remembrances to your mamma, and to A. when you write. Tell him to write me. May you all meet at the table of Jesus above; and may I be there too, a sinner saved by grace.—Ever yours, etc.




    Have you ever watched a football game and the team with a lead goes into what is commonly called a "prevent-defense?" Their strategy changes from being aggressive to a very passive defense willing to give up yardage while trying to "prevent" the big play. Football fans have seen game after game where this strategy has led to a forfeit of the lead as an aggressive offense takes advantage of this.

    Dr. Tim Kimmel in his book, "Grace-Based Parenting" says that parents can essentially end up doing the very same thing which he calls "fear-based parenting." It is when we focus so much on protecting our children from the world and do not prepare them to enter and conquer the world. It is the kind of parenting that worries so much about such evil influences of holiday celebrations, cultural icons, or non-Christians being involved in the same activities that our children are such as sports teams.

    Often this mind-set is the fruit of legalism which leads to a lack of confidence in the power of new-birth or regeneration. Do you ever wonder why statistics for young people leaving the faith after high school is so high? Most data-gathering organizations put it between 70-80%! William Farley proposes that many of these kids come from a home that had a defensive protection mind-set that lacked an effective offensive strategy.

    Every gospel-centered home must have a defensive strategy and not recklessly open our children to evil influences. But a gospel-centered home also helps equip their child in how to overcome the world. Our children's hearts can be changed, molded, and equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit and the teaching by their parents through God's Word and the gospel in how to enter, engage, and be protected from the world.

    1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

    1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

    I John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    Are you making assumptions about your child’s spiritual new birth? To have an offensive mind-set in parenting is to assume your child needs daily the power of new birth in Christ. It is a strategy that daily addresses the child’s heart, their sin, and the gospel before worrying about their environment.

    The way the heart is addressed is with the gospel. It is teaching it daily, modeling it daily, and centering your home upon it. It is showing your children that overcoming the world is not done by retreating, but by seeing the beauty and excellence of Jesus Christ. We conquer our lusts with a greater passion, Jesus Christ.

    A gospel-centered home is confident in the power of the message of the cross to transform children from the heart outward. The world is not more powerful than Christ. John 16:33 states, “Take heart; I have overcome the world.” Through what God can do to change our children’s hearts and by using us as parents, our children can face the challenges of the world and fight off the allurements.

    Preach the gospel everyday to yourself and to your children.

    Quit Complaining!

  • Monday, February 22, 2010

  • The long period of deep snow has been the source of several complications for Deb and I on the acreage. The horses are very restless not being able to get out to the pasture and I am getting tired of twisting my ankles walking from the barn to the house in the snow and ice. Then I see these pictures and it is one of those perspectives that it could always be worse!


  • Wednesday, February 10, 2010

  • Dr. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers this commentary on a subject near to my heart having 8 grandsons ... what might be termed the feminization of our boys. I agree with Dr. Mohler .. it is a crisis.

    You do not have to look far to find evidence of the fact that males are in trouble in these confused and confusing times. On the university campuses, women undergraduate students outnumber young men by a clear margin -- 60% to 40%. A frightening percentage of young males are or have been behind bars, and the vast majority of young men are delaying their assumption of adult roles and responsibilities until well into their twenties or early thirties.

    A crisis of fatherlessness marks the lives of millions of boys and young men, with boys growing up without fathers in the home now comprising a majority within some ethnic groups and urban populations. At almost every grade level, boys are performing below girls, and are often left behind as girls go on to more advanced levels of learning. Then, adding insult to injury, reports from scientists indicate that both sperm counts and testosterone levels are falling among some boys and men -- blamed on anything from hormone supplements in the food chain to chemical contamination of ground water.

    In many churches, young men and older boys are simply missing. The absence of young men ages 18 to 30 is just a fact of life in many congregations. Though this is especially acute in the mainline Protestant denominations, it is increasingly true of many evangelical churches as well.

    One dimension of this problem is the difficulty of helping boys develop into manhood -- a responsible, healthy, and meaningful manhood. Put simply, many of the most significant man-making institutions of our society are either gone or in big trouble. Military service is now both voluntary and no longer male-only. Organizations like the Boy Scouts attract more opposition and fewer boys. Even as the Boy Scouts of America marks the organization's centennial this year, that proud American institution that shaped the lives of so many boys is marginalized and under attack.

    Add the absence of fathers to all this and this society faces a challenge unprecedented in human history. A society cannot survive without a means of assisting boys to grow into responsible manhood. The same is true, of course, of the church -- only in the church the stakes are even higher.

    An enlightening (and oddly odorous) illustration of this social problem comes from The New York Times. Reporter Jan Hoffman tells of young boys now using "hypermasculine" products in order to demonstrate their masculinity and advertise their male identity -- largely through the smells they put off.

    Hoffman tells of Noah and Keenan Assaraf, age 13 and 14 respectively, who live near San Diego, where daily "they walk out the door in a cloud of spray-on macho," according to their mom. The smell, she says, "drives me nuts." Even as marketers insist the products are intended for young males ages 18 to 26, the products have now "reached into the turbulent, vulnerable world of their little brothers, ages 10 to 14."

    As Jan Hoffman explains:
    Boys themselves, at a younger age, have also become increasingly self-conscious about their appearance and identity. They are trying to tame their twitching, maturing bodies, select from a growing smorgasbord of identities — goth, slacker, jock, emo — and position themselves with their texting, titillating, brand-savvy female peers, who are hitting puberty ever earlier.
    And armies of researchers note that tween boys have modest disposable incomes, just fine for products that typically sell for less than $7.

    “More insecurity equals more product need, equals more opportunity for marketers,” said Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University.
    Insecurity seems to be a major motivating factor. Jake Guttenberg, a New York seventh grader, told the paper he uses one of these "deodorants" because, "I feel confident when I wear it."
    Lyn Mikel Brown of Colby College was blunt in her assessment: "These are just one of many products that cultivate anxiety in boys at younger and younger ages about what it means to man up . . . to be the kind of boy they’re told girls will want and other boys will respect. They’re playing with the failure to be that kind of guy, to be heterosexual even.”

    Interestingly, Hoffman reports that these products are often bought for boys by their mothers, "simply relieved that their sons are thinking about body odor." Just about any mom will nod in agreement at this point -- but where are the dads?

    These boys are acting out what society is telling them -- urging them to be hypermasculine, hypersexualized, hyperconsumers. You don't have to consult with Karl Marx to be leery of the marketing of these products to preteen boys. You do not have to know these boys to be saddened that while they understandably and naturally desire to grow up into manhood, think that "masculinity in a can" is the way to get there. Their desire to identify as masculine is natural and healthy -- even essential -- but the lack of real support in getting there leads them into confusion.

    The New York Times also offers evidence of the crisis of manhood in a second article, in which reporter R. M. Schneiderman takes readers into a world of "mixed martial arts" in some evangelical churches and ministries.

    "The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility," he explains.

    From his report:
    In the back room of a theater on Beale Street [in Memphis], John Renken, 37, a pastor, recently led a group of young men in prayer.
    “Father, we thank you for tonight,” he said. “We pray that we will be a representation of you.”
    An hour later, a member of his flock who had bowed his head was now unleashing a torrent of blows on an opponent, and Mr. Renken was offering guidance that was not exactly prayerful.
    “Hard punches!” he shouted from the sidelines of a martial arts event called Cage Assault. “Finish the fight! To the head! To the head!”
    In order to reach young men, some churches are turning to mixed martial arts, defined as "a sport with a reputation for violence and blood that combines kickboxing, wrestling, and other fighting styles."

    The main issue here is not the legitimacy of martial arts, but the fact that these churches are making a self-conscious effort to reach young men and boys with some kind of proof that Christianity is not a feminized and testosterone-free faith that appeals only to women.
    Of course, Christianity honors the man who fights "the good fight of faith," and the most important fight to which a Christian man is called is the fight to grow up into godly manhood, to be true to wife and provide for his children, to make a real contribution in the home, in the church, and in the society, and to show the glory of God in faithfully living out all that God calls a man to be and to do. This means a fight for truth, for the Gospel, and for the virtues of the Christian life. The New Testament is filled with masculine -- and even martial -- images of Christian faithfulness. We must be unashamed of these, and help a rising generation of men and boys to understand what it means to be a man in Christ. The Christian man does not embrace brutality for the sake of proving his manhood.

    This much is clear -- we are living in strange times, getting stranger by the minute. Churches and parents are right to be concerned about the new challenges of helping boys to grow into manhood. The crisis is real, and this one demands urgent attention.

    Boys will never find real masculinity in a can, but boys and young men should find respect for and examples of genuine manhood at church. What about your church?


  • Tuesday, February 9, 2010

  • Salvation is a work of God, not of parents. Though no one comes to faith without the hearing of the gospel, it is the work of God that opens a heart to respond to the gospel. God has sovereignly written the story of your life and the life of your children. Part of the plan of your children is you, the parent, to intersect their life with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has determined that you are to shape, influence, and impart values and truth to your children. The greatest tool of influence is the message of the gospel spoken and lived out by the parent. This message is to be proclaimed not only unto salvation of a child but the message is to continue on daily. Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church writes, "I can’t really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel’s content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live."

    God is the One who saves but He has called parents to be the normal and primary means of grace to draw children to Himself (Deut 6). Though there be other means He may use, for the Christian home this is your priority.


  • Thursday, February 4, 2010


    William Farley points out there are approximately 75,000 books published about parenting in just the last 10 years! This shows the state of parenting and how wide the gap of information is for parents. Christian books on parenting abound as well. A major on-line book distributor lists over 6,000 different books. Because most of these Christian books embrace a parenting model from the therapeutic world, we seem to have surrended the Bible as an ineffective resource for parenting. One leading resource for parenting advertises that you can experience significant changes using his program only 90 seconds a day. PARENTING IS NOT THAT EASY!

    You and your children are inadequate because of sin and there are times when the inadequacies are quite apparent. We all need the grace of the gospel, especially in times when difficulties arise. Having raised children to adulthood, I can testify that it was only by the grace of God we did it.

    The point is that you need to get used to being an imperfect parent. You will struggle and God can use your struggle as a meeting place to teach the gospel to your children. God's grace is sufficient and the Word of God fully adequate to equip you to effective parenting.

    More to come ...