• Thursday, April 29, 2010
  • The pictures that came from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano were spectacular and at the same time clear reminders of how the creation points us to the awesome glory of God. These two reminded me of Acts 2: 19, 20: “And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.”


  • Monday, April 26, 2010
  • I have been reading through the book, "Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus" by D.A. Carson. In his chapter titled "The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb," Dr Carson gives the challenges that face the American church. I thought while reading them that they are the same challenges that not only the "household of God" faces but also our own households. Some of these are:
    -The problems of prosperity (potential for pride, self-sufficiency)
    -The rapid pace of life that squeezes what is important to the periphery
    -The urgent replacing the important
    -The digital replacing the personal
    -Mass media affecting our thinking leaving us entertained, titillated or even bored
    -The impact of Madison Avenue establishing our self-identity in many things that have no eternal significance
    -The pressure that allows us to be "religious" provided it does not really matter or is private

    Do you like me, often find that we blame what ails our family on sociological, historical, political, economic, psychological, or medical causes? Though we should not ignore these categories, the problem is that they lead us to look for solutions in the same places. Isn't there a cosmic tension going on between God and the Devil?

    So this leads me to the question I asked myself for my home. What if God got up and walked out of my house? Would I notice? Would I miss Him or do I have all the solutions figured out through the categories above?

    Reading the Book of Revelation reminds me that there is an underlying cause for the hostility and suffering that falls upon the church and the home. The Devil would like me to forget that.

    D.A. Carson writes this prayer that perhaps we need to take to heart:
    Forbid, Lord God, that we should rest so comfortably in our easy and restless society, that we forget that one of the driving dimensions of Christian experience is warfare - not against flesh and blood but against all the hosts of darkness who are filled with rage against us. Help us, Lord God, to see the enemy and then to deploy the gospel answers, the gospel arms, the gospel solutions, which alone are sufficient in this conflict. So return us to the cross, to faithful, glorious, grateful proclamation of the gospel, to self-death that we may follow the Lord Jesus, who died and rose on our behalf. AMEN AND AMEN.

    Select Principles on Being a Biblically Faithful Man and Husband by Dr. Bruce Ware

  • Tuesday, April 20, 2010
  • 1. Love. 1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else. Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope. 2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).

    2. Leadership. Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative. This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men. Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative. In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship. My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being. And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4). And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally. Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.

    3. Example. Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction. Set the example in: consistent times in the Word and prayer; in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs; in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances; in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance. Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.

    4. Authority. All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship. Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers. Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority. Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives. Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.

    5. Acceptance. Each of us is unique as God has made us. We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others. In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me. I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”

    6. Listening. One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear. She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc. I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction. Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions. Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head. Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.

    7. Understanding. I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities. I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these. I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.

    8. Work. A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work. Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this. Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly. As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children. Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.

    9. Sexuality. My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers. So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage. See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.

    10. Home. She cares much about our home. The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on. In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important. But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home. Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.


  • Thursday, April 15, 2010

  • I hope to run several postings on this and that some would be from those who read this blog. I will write about how I did and how I am now but to prime the pump, here is an article by Justin Hyde, pastor at Christ Church, Brenham, Texas.

    Many people ask me, "What do 'family devotions' look like at your house?" or, "How do you pastor your family?" or even more simply, "Do you pray or read the Bible with your wife and children?" Here is one attempt to answer those questions.

    1. Routine
    Our family works best with a routine. My wife and I, and our children, have a reasonably regular weekly schedule. Our "family devotions" fit into the larger rhythm and routines of our household (e.g. dinner, bedtime, etc.). Additionally, it is important to note that there are explicit and implicit aspects to our daily spiritual devotion. The bulk of the explicit aspects happen at night between when I get home from work and when I go to bed.

    2. Intentional Evenings
    I get home from work between 5:30PM and 5:45PM each night. But I have to prepare myself before 5:30PM so that I can hit the ground running when I walk in the door. Though I am invariably tired from my day's work, I have to remind myself that the most important part of my vocation happens after 5:30PM, not before. I am tempted to mentally "clock out" on my drive home, which would be easy. Yet I have to consciously prepare myself to give more energy, more attention, and more dedicated focus as soon as I walk through the door and am greeted by my 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, newborn son, and wife than I have all day. This takes prayer, practice, and intentionality. It's easy to fail.

    Husbands/dads, don't clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don't let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: "I'm tired;" turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: "If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot."); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions.

    Wives, be gracious; be forgiving; learn and grow with your husband; make your home inviting and pleasing; manage the stress level (for you and the kids) before dad gets home (i.e. don't let the water boil all day so that it's boiling over the top right when dad's car pulls up).

    3. Time To Play
    We eat dinner at 6:00PM. So I walk in the door and devote myself to the kids for 20-30 minutes. Rarely do I take 5 steps into the house before having a 5 year old around my left leg and a 3 year old around my right leg (and now, often, a baby in my arms). Dads, your kids are ready to see you. Ready to punch you. Ready to kiss you. Ready to play. Ready to build. Ready to read. And of course your wife needs this from you too if she's making dinner or just needing a break after her long day. Husbands, remind yourself daily that your wife is likely more exhausted than you are by 5:30PM. Serve her well. This is also a good time to teach the kids about setting the table, helping to pick up the living room, honoring mom, serving a younger sibling, etc. But mainly this is a good time to play.

    4. Mealtime
    We always eat dinner together around the dinner table. My wife is hospitable, creative, thoughtful, carefree, and eager to worship through a shared meal. Our table is often decorated with candles, and sometimes flowers. We drink wine. We celebrate. We laugh. We joke. We make silly faces. We eat great food. We often, almost without fail, enjoy a dessert. We hold hands to pray. We take our time. Our children are watching and learning and savoring all of this.

    5. Cleanup
    After dinner we usually clean up (sometimes we wait until the kids are asleep). The children help with dishes, help put things away, help clean up. It doesn't take long and the payoff in relaxation and focus is often worth the price of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. Yet regardless of whether we clean up now or later, our attention is devoted to the children from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. After dinner, we play. We read. We build towers. We go on adventures. We explore. We tickle.

    6. Bible Time
    At 7:15PM we all start winding down and I tell the kids: "15 more minutes of ____, and then it's 7:30PM." My kids know exactly what I mean. At 7:30PM it's Bible time. We all gather in the living room (if we're not there already); we get the Bible; and the kids pile on my lap. For the longest time we read the ESV Illustrated Family Bible. This Bible uses the actual ESV text but the stories are selective and the images are great and colorful.

    Recently, we began using The Early Readers Bible only because Jonas received it as a Christmas gift. This is a great Bible too, but it's not the actual ESV text, which I prefer. It's a Bible written for young readers. Our 5 year old can blast through this easily, and sometimes I'll let him read during our devotional time, though rarely. At this stage I think it's important for me to lead this time and shepherd them as I read aloud. The great thing about The Early Readers Bible is the questions after each section. Very helpful.

    Dads, it's important for you to call the family together. Don't force mom to keep looking at her watch, to always be waiting for you, to nag you to get started. Call the family together. Get the Bible. Know where/what you're reading. Lead your family. Wives, this may be new or unfamiliar for many dads. Go easy on him. Encourage him. Honor his leadership. Don't undermine. Don't criticize. Model respect and love for your children to see. And remember, the kids are watching.

    7. Questions & Answers
    After we read a section of Scripture I ask questions. I ask questions about the story, about the characters, about the doctrines or themes within the story, about applying the text to the real life of 5- and 3-year-olds. In addition to asking questions about the text itself, our children also memorize the Small Children's Catechism by Chris Schlect. I cannot overstate the importance of catechism in the home. Someone has said, "Preaching without catechism is like building a house without pouring a foundation." So true. Other helpful resources are The Big Book of Questions and Answers (Sinclair Ferguson), My 1st Book of Questions and Answers (Carine Mackenzie), and Big Truths for Young Hearts (Bruce Ware).

    8. Family Prayer
    Then we all pray. We take prayer requests (this is important because the kids need to see dad asking mom how he can pray for her). And each of us pray. Sometimes I ask the kids to pray for certain things. Sometimes I ask the older to pray for the younger. Sometimes they want to say the Lord's Prayer (which means you need to help them memorize it when they're two or three). Sometime it's random.

    Moms and dads, you need to guard this time so that the children don't grow to despise it. This needs to be an encouraging, graceful, loving, fun, sometimes silly, patient, and fruitful time. Be honest with one another. Teach your kids how to care, how to be sensitive to others' needs, how to articulate what they're feeling. Make disciples.

    9. Bedtime
    Now it's bedtime. Love those kids. Hug and kiss and tickle and snuggle like crazy.

    10. Explicit vs. Implicit
    Most of the above routine is explicit training and devotion. Yet each of those elements fit into the larger mosaic of what it means to be a part of our family. These explicit elements would only go so far (but not far enough) if not paired with the implicit aspects of the daily spiritual development that are more subtle and mundane.

    The implicit aspects are the constant opportunities to listen to your kids, to talk to them, to tell them about Jesus, to tell them about something you read in Scripture, something you've wondered about God, to connect the dots between dinner and worship, to live a life of celebration and sacrifice.

    The legitimacy of your "devotion time" is only as solid as the legitimacy of your devotional life. In other words, I reap the rich spiritual benefits at 7:30PM each night because I tilled the soil that morning, during the day, at dinner, and so on. Quality time doesn't replace quantity. In fact, you can only enjoy the quality because you've invested in the quantity. The implicit is the foundation that sustains the rest, only most people don't see the foundation so it's easy to ignore.

    Please know, I fail often. I need much grace. God has given me a forgiving wife and patient kids. Husbands/dads, this is the most important work you'll ever do, and it will have more impact than anything you could imagine. Wives/moms, encourage your man to lead; create conditions in which he can succeed. Couples, be patient and forgiving. Don't be short-sighted. Love well. And savor your time together.

    May God help us pastor our families well.


  • Wednesday, April 14, 2010
  • Westminster Books is offering a special deal on 2 great books on marriage that you should read and the deal is only until 3 P.M. Friday, April 16 so if you are a regular reader here, congratulations!

    The first book is "What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage" by Paul David Tripp. You can get this for 60% off the regular price. Now I must confess that I have not read this book (I am ordering a copy) but I did go through the DVD series of his conference on this material and it was outstanding. You can order it at

    The second book is "This Momentary Marriage" by John Piper. This comes at a 72% discount and I have read this book twice. It is based upon a series of sermons that John Piper preached last year and will definetly challenge you biblically about your marriage. You can order it at

    Total price of these 2 books would equal about 4 cups of coffee at the coffee houses. Don't pass this up and be nourished by these two authors who know what a gospel-saturated marriage looks like.


  • Thursday, April 8, 2010

  • Continuing after Resurrection Sunday to reflect on the cross and what was accomplished, I was reading J.I. Packer, “In My Place Condemned He Stood” and came across these 9 truths that faith in Christ as my substitute yields.

    Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

    1. God condones nothing but judges all sin as it deserves as Scripture affirms and my conscience confirms to be right.

    2. My sins merit ultimate suffering and rejection from God’s presence and nothing I do can blot them out.

    3. The penalty due to me for my sins, whatever it was, was paid for me by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his death on the cross.

    4. Because this is so, I through faith in Him am made “the righteousness of God in Him,” i.e., I am justified; pardoned, acceptance, and sonship to God become mine.

    5. Christ’s death for me is my sole ground of hope before God. “If he fulfilled not justice, I must; if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity.” (John Owen)

    6. My faith in Christ is God’s own gift to me, given in virtue of Christ’s death for me: i.e., the cross procured it.

    7. Christ’s death for me guarantees my preservation to glory.

    8. Christ’s death for me is the measure and pledge of the love of the Father and the Son to me.

    9. Christ’s death for me calls and constrains me to trust, to worship, to love, and to serve.

    Only where these nine truths have taken root and grow in the heart will anyone be fully alive to God.

    The church is and will always be at its healthiest when every Christian can line up with every other Christian to sing P. P. Bliss’s simple words,

    Bearing shame and scoffing rude
    In my place condemned He stood
    Sealed my pardon with His blood
    Hallelujah! What a Saviour


  • Tuesday, April 6, 2010

  • Unfortunately one of the most common situations in many homes to deal with is an angry person. It could be your spouse, a child, or perhaps even yourself. Ed Welch of the Christian Counseling Education Foundation offers this excellent counsel:

    How to Disarm an Angry Person
    Ed Welch

    It is the most difficult of maneuvers. There are no guarantees of success. And the stakes are high. But we have no choice: we must learn how to do it.

    How do you disarm an angry person?

    The angry person could be a child, parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor. And, of course, we could use a little disarming ourselves sometimes.

    It all depends on your preparation. Our most common responses to anger are either fear or anger – responses that have very little potential to disarm anyone. When you retreat or withdraw in fear, the angry person still has the loaded gun, and will keep it handy because the one with the gun wins. All they have to do is brandish their side arms around and angry people get what they want. The cycle never ends.

    Following the old fight or flight tradition, others respond to angry people by getting out their own guns. After all, justice demands a fair fight. If the angry person is going to wave a gun, you will wave yours too. The problem here is fairly straightforward: someone is going to get hurt and since the angry person is likely to be more skilled and experienced than you, you are the one who gets shot. And yes, as in the cartoons, you get up to fight another day, but people are still shooting each other.

    Your preparation for a more effective confrontation is counter intuitive, as are most of God’s ways. Humility is the way of strength. Weakness is the new unstoppable force. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). The cross of Jesus Christ changes everything. Satan himself – the angriest in all creation – is disarmed through self-sacrificial humility. The way to be a true human being, in all its strength, is now portrayed clearly in Jesus and is available through the Spirit.

    For us, this path begins as we hold loosely to our desires. For example, most of us want something from the angry person – love and respect are high on that list. There is nothing wrong with wanting love and respect, but you would do best to shoot them yourself before the other person does. You will find that you won’t die. Instead, as you put to death the things that you want from the angry person, you will notice—perhaps for the first time—a hint of freedom and even boldness. When you have nothing to loose you can perform some unusual feats of strength.

    Think about it. The angry person is screaming about how you are such an idiotic jerk, and if you aren’t as concerned with pleasing people or bolstering your own reputation, you can respond with something other than anger or fear. If the angry person’s pleasure or your own reputation is critical to you, you will be controlled by the angry person. So kill these before the other person shoots. The result is that there is nothing left to shoot, and you are free to speak from a place of weakness and say something like:

    “Could you help me to see how I am an idiotic jerk – I will listen to you if you want to talk about it.” (Important note: NO sarcasm).

    “What’s wrong?”

    Or, you might decide that, at that moment, you can’t say anything to the deranged gunslinger, because you don’t have a clue what to say and the angry person has become an utter, animal-like fool, so you raise the anger incident later. With nothing to loose, your options are endless.

    Track the life of Jesus and you will see that he was never angry because of the insults and derision of the religious leaders. He never took the attacks of others personally. That’s what happens when you live to enhance the Father’s reputation, you empty yourself of any interest in your own personal honor and reputation, and you love other people more than they love you. That’s what happens when you know that your Father is the perfect judge, so you don’t have to be the judge pro tem.

    When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

    Here is how to move forward.

    1.Don’t minimize the destruction of anger. You are getting shot at! Of course it hurts.
    2.You are setting out to learn a disarming strategy that takes humility and love, and this is way over your head. As such, “Lord have mercy on me” is the order of the day.
    3.Remember that angry people are blind to their own anger. They are the last to know that they are killing people. Instead, all they see is that they are right and others are wrong. Assume that they are spiritual lunatics.
    4.Divest yourself of all the things you desire and cherish for yourself. Do you want love? Toss it and keep only the necessities, such as the desire to love. Do you need respect and understanding? It will only be an encumbrance. Get rid of it.
    5.Move toward the angry person in love and humility. Fear runs away, anger attacks. Humility and love move toward. In a surprise attack they blindside angry people with weakness. Your timing will be important. Sometimes you can say something while the gun is aimed. Other times you will wait and speak later.
    6.The person’s anger could have many reasons – you being one. But murderous anger is always wrong. At some point, from your place of love and humility, you will hold up the mirror and help angry people see themselves (Matthew 7:5).


  • Sunday, April 4, 2010

  • Saturday, April 3, 2010

  • Friday, April 2, 2010
  • It is Good Friday and focusing on the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for my sins this morning, I found this writing by Johann Gerhard, a 17th century pastor and theologian, from “Sacred Meditation VII, Concerning the fruit of the Lord’s passion.”

    He has been judged in order to free us from the judgment of God. He has been prosecuted as a criminal so that we criminals may be pardoned. He has been scourged by godless hands to take away from us the scourge of the devil. He called out in pain in order to save us from eternal wailing. He poured out tears so that he could wipe away our tears. He has died for us to live. He felt the pains of hell through and through, so that we might never feel them. He was humiliated in order to bring forth the medicine for our pride; was crowned with thorns, in order to obtain for us the heavenly crown. He has suffered at the hands of all so that he might furnish salvation for all. He was darkened in death so that we would live in the light of heavenly glory. He heard disgust and contempt so that we might hear the angelic jubilation in heaven.

    Do not despair then, O faithful soul. You have offended the infinite Good with your sins, but an infinite price has been paid. You ought to be judged for your sins, but the Son of God has already been judged for the sins of the whole world, which He received in Himself. Your sins ought to be punished, but God already punished them in His Son. The wounds from your sins are great, but more precious is the balm of the blood of Christ. Moses pronounces a curse against you (Deuteronomy 27:26), because you have not kept everything that has been written in the book of the law, but Christ has been made a curse for you (Galatians 3:13). The handwriting has been written against you in the court of heaven, but Christ’s blood has deleted that (Colossians 2:14).
    Therefore, your passion, O loving Christ, is my ultimate refuge.

    More Passion Week Focus: Maundy Thursday

  • Thursday, April 1, 2010
  • I was driving from appointment to appointment this morning and saw banners outside several churches in regards to a Maundy Thursday service this evening. Though I kind of know what it is, Kevin DeYoung, Pastor to the University Reformed Church in East Lansing Michigan gives this very helpful explanation.

    "Like millions of Christians around the world, we will have a Maundy Thursday tonight. If you’ve never heard the term, it’s not Monday-Thursday (which always confused me as a kid), but Maundy Thursday, as in Mandatum Thursday. Mandatum is the Latin word for “command” or “mandate”, and the day is called Maundy Thursday because on the night before his death Jesus gave his disciples a new command. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 [1]).

    At first it seems strange that Christ would call this a new command. After all, the Old Testament instructed God’s people to love their neighbors and Christ himself summarized the law as love for God and love for others. So what’s new about love? What makes the command new is that because of Jesus’ passion there is a new standard, a new examplar of love.

    There was never any love like the dying love of Jesus. It is tender and sweet (13:33). It serves (13:2-17). It loves even unto death (13:1). Jesus had nothing to gain from us by loving us. There was nothing in us to draw us to him. But he loved us still, while we were yet sinners. At the Last Supper, in the garden, at his betrayal, facing the Jewish leaders, before Pontius Pilate, being scourged, carrying his cross, being nailed to the wood, breathing his dying breath, forsaken by God–he loved us.

    To the end.

    To death.

    Love shone best and brightest at Calvary."

    Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness that I might have eternal life.My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might for ever live. (The Valley of Vision, “Love Lustres at Calvary”)