Loving Leaders in the Home – T. Witmer

TT-Nov-2017As we mentioned two weeks ago, the November 2017 issue of Tabletalk is on “Leadership.” One of the main articles I read yesterday is by Dr. Tim Witmer (author of The Shepherd Leader at Home) and is titled “Leaders in the Home”.

In his article, Witmer treats the leadership role assigned to husbands and fathers as prescribed by God in His Word. While he begins with the calling of wives to submit to their husbands, it is the section on the calling of husbands that I focus on today. Because I need this reminder as God’s appointed leader in my own home, and I believe my fellow husbands/fathers do as well.

Witmer heads this section of his article “Husbands: Loving Leaders,” and this is part of what he has to say in connection with the kind of loving leadership we are to provide:

The wife is called to a difficult role, but it is a role that will be much easier to bear if her husband fulfills his responsibility to provide loving leadership. It is interesting to note that Paul addresses forty words to wives but 115 to husbands. In Ephesians 5:25–33, he describes the role of husbands in marriage. The key is verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

What is the standard of love that is set before husbands? It is the sacrificial love of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His loving servant leadership that provides the environment for wives to follow. Let’s see how Christ’s love sets the example for the love of husbands for their wives.

First, Christ’s love is unconditional. There was nothing about you or me that deserved or required Christ’s love. Quite the contrary, “God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Not only did we not love Him, but we were heading the opposite direction in our sin. It is the classic case of unrequited love. This is why our relationship with Him is solely by His grace.

Our love for our wives must be unconditional as well. We have to admit at the outset that the analogy breaks down because we are sinful human beings. We must admit that there were “conditions” that attracted us to our wives including personality, interests, and even good looks. However, our love for our wives is grounded in the commitment that we made in our wedding vows in the presence of God and witnesses. Your love for your wife must be unconditional in that it does not change based on circumstances. Husbands need to beware of communicating to their wives that their love is based on how they look today or how they respond to them today. Our love is based on commitment, not conditions.

Good food for thought as we begin this week. To finish reading the article (good for wives/mothers too!), visit this link at the Tabletalk website.

Book Alert: “Handle with Care!” – Dr. J. Kennedy

Handle-with-care-kennedyA few months ago I was made aware of a new book produced by Dr. Julian Kennedy and today I want to notify you of it while reserving fuller review for later (cf. note below).

The book is Handle with Care! A Biblical and Reformed Guide to Sexuality for Young People (Wipf & Stock, 2017; paper & epub, 114 pp.).

You will find this summary of the book at the publisher’s site:

God’s good gift of sexuality has been corrupted since the fall of man into sin so that man in his depravity is not able to use it for God’s glory and for his own good. Sex between unmarried (fornication), adultery, including divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality are accepted as normal in modern society and young people, even Christian young people, are being influenced by this Satanic lie that “if it feels good–do it!” This booklet is sent out with the prayer that it will save many young people from heartache and the curse that these serious sexual sins will bring on them. There is the good way, the biblical or reformed way for living chastely as a single person, finding and courting a mate, and marrying and staying faithful to that mate. This booklet has been a long time since inception to publication! First conceived thirty years ago, very few copies of an older version were produced by Covenant Keepers for young people in Singapore in 2011. The original has been substantially expanded by quotations from Protestant Reformed Church ministers.

In his “Introduction” the author offers us these important thoughts on this timely topic:

This booklet aims to explain the truth about sex, love and marriage from the view of the Reformed* Faith of Scripture. God alone, who instituted the first marriage, can tell us what love really is and how sex in marriage can be used for the greatest benefit. Much will be said in this booklet that contradicts the popular notions
about sex that are portrayed in the glossy popular magazines, newspapers and on TV soaps, in films, or in novels of today, where people hop in and out of bed and of marriages, with sad and destructive consequences to themselves and any children involved. God knows that building a lasting relationship on the rock of scriptural truth will mean it will stand in the storms of life. Prevention is better than cure, so practice godly courtship and marriage and save yourself from much heartache and many problems. The statistics on cohabitation, fornication, divorce, adultery, teenage pregnancy and homosexuality even among professing believers show how God’s instructions are being ignored and it is my prayer that this booklet will help many to find God’s best in love, marriage and sex.

We thank Dr. Kennedy for his contribution to the literature available on sexuality – rare because it is Reformed. Reformed because it is rooted in God’s Word (biblical!) and the Reformed confessions of the historic church.

Knowing a book’s contents help reveal its value. I trust as you review this content of Handle with Care! that you will see its value:

Part One: What God Says
Chapter 1
Dynamite!—Handle With Care | 3
Chapter 2
Battle for the Mind—Impure Thoughts | 5
Chapter 3
Why Wait? | 14
Chapter 4
Homosexuality | 18
Chapter 5
Two Become One | 22
Chapter 6
The Proper Basis and Purpose of Marriage | 25
Chapter 7
Singleness | 29

Part Two: The Facts of Life
Chapter 8
How Does Sex Start? | 39
Chapter 9
Men versus Women—What’s the Difference? | 41
Chapter 10
Boy Meets Girl | 44
Chapter 11
Friendships | 46

Part Three: Finding the Right Mate
Chapter 12
The Meaning of Love | 51
Chapter 13
Finding Your Help Meet | 55
Chapter 14
For Girls Only | 57
Chapter 15
Courtship, Dating and Right Relationships | 59
Chapter 16
The Wedding is Soon | 79
Chapter 17
Family Planning | 81

Appendix—The Reformed Faith: The Five Solas | 89

I have requested a review copy of this new title. When I have that in hand, I will be better able to make a more full evaluation of this book.

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Resurrection: The Benefits of a Reset – D. Murray

Reset-DMurray-2017This past Sunday I spent part of the day reading the last chapter in David Murray’s practical and profitable new book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

You will recall that each chapter calls us (men in particular) to bring the “car” of our lives into various “repair bays” to have us recheck and reset the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. The final chapter is headed by the words “Repair Bay 10,” but it is really a summary of all the benefits we receive when we reset our lives biblically. Which is why its main title is “Resurrection.”

There are so many good sections in this last chapter – just the headings give us men encouragement about the changes this reset can bring to our lives: new pace, new conscience, new honesty, new contentment, new selectivity, new energy, new joy, new theology, and so on. Let me quote from two of the sections that I find representative and encouraging.

The first is “new sensitivity,” where Murray writes in part:

Reset garage produces a much better and humbler understanding of our humanity. We now keep our eyes on the dashboard and know which warning lights to look out for and what they mean – warning signs that we previously would have ignored, minimized, or resented. We’re sensitive to physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational changes, and collaborate more knowledgeably with the biological rhythms of our bodies. We sense the monthly mix, the weekly beat of six days of work and one day of rest, the daily cadence of work and sleep, the regular tempo of hunger and thirst, and even the pulses of dynamic energy that peak a few times a day, enabling us to find our flow state and do our best work. Going forward, we are much more attuned to this God-given rhythm, and, instead of fighting it, we have gotten with the groove and beat of God’s order in our lives [pp.180-81].

The second is the last section, “new horizon,” where the author points us to our great hope:

Prior to Reset garage, many of us hardly ever looked up. We just saw the next to-do item, put our heads down, and plowed through it. We saw the next meeting, the next report, the next business trip, the next sermon, the next book, the next counseling session, and so on. But we never saw the next life.

Reset garage has resurrected resurrection hope. The mini-resurrection we’ve experienced has given us a taste of the ultimate resurrection ahead, when every ache and pain, every cry and depression, every loss and weakness will be no more. It has also slowed our pace enough to allow us the time and space to look ahead and enjoy that view, to anticipate that final destination, where we will experience that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed’ (Rom.8:18). A grace-paced life transports us into a grace-and glory-filled eternity [pp190-91].

And with that in view, Murray calls us with the inspired apostle to run our race, so that we may receive the prize of sovereign grace – eternal life with our heavenly Father in Christ.

Reset: Relate, or Why Our Relationships Are Important

Reset-DMurray-2017This Spring and Summer we are looking at the practical and profitable thoughts of Dr. David Murray in his newly published book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

Writing especially with men in view, Murray, in each chapter, has us take the “car” of our lives into various “repair bays” to have our lives rechecked and reset.

Today we consider “Repair Bay 9,”“Relate” – where Murray talks to us about the importance of relationships, in order of priority – God, wife, children, pastor/elders, and friends. For our purposes in this post, we will focus on that last relationship – friends.

At the end of the section on relating to pastors and elders, the author lays the ground work for the importance of friendships for men:

We all need men in our lives who deal lovingly and faithfully with us, who watch for our souls and speak into our lives when we need that. Although this requires us to make ourselves vulnerable, and that takes tremendous courage, doing so is a wise and safe act, especially as we mature or succeed and perhaps become more self-confident and self-sufficient.

Murray then discusses why men often fail in finding and making good friends. He gives these “reasons” (which are really amount to excuses):

  • We’re too selfish – What’s in it for me?
  • We’re too functional – friends are good at the clubhouse, but not in real life.
  • We’re too proud – friends are for wimps!
  • We’re too safe – we don’t handle rejection well.
  • We’re too superficial – shallow contact and superficial talks are ok, but don’t ask me to go deep!
  • We’re too brainwashed – we have bought into Hollywood’s idea of masculinity.

So what is the answer? He points us to the Triune God and to Jesus Christ, the Friend of sinners, and then gives us these guidelines for establishing biblical friendships:

  • Prioritize friendships – that is, make them a priority.
  • Cultivate the greatest friendship – know and model Christ’s friendship.
  • Build unselfish friendships – not ones that benefit your career or network.
  • Beware of substitutes – not social media relationships but face-to-face ones.
  • Prepare for disappointments – you will get hurt, but you will also gain faithful friends.
  • Cultivate transparency – be a “to know and be known” friend.
  • Make spiritual growth central – our friendships “must have at its core a desire to do spiritual good to one another.”
  • Recognize your limitations – we can’t be friends with everyone, so strive to make the best ones.

Sound counsel from a trusted friend in Christ, even if a distant one. How would you evaluate your friendships in the light of these guidelines?

Reset: Refuel (Yes, watch what you take into your bodies!)

Reset-DMurray-2017This Spring and Summer we are looking at the practical and profitable thoughts of Dr. David Murray in his newly published book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

Writing especially with men in view, Murray has us take the “car” of our lives into various “repair bays” to have our lives rechecked and reset.

Today we consider “Repair Bay 8,” which is titled “Refuel”. In this chapter Murray calls us to examine the food we eat, the medications we take, and the energizers we use.

There are many practical and edifying thoughts in this chapter, and for our purposes let’s take a quotation just from that first section. Concerning the food we eat, Murray says,

I’m a theologian, not a dietician. That’s why “The Murray Diet” begins with theology: ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor.10:31). This profound Scripture verse tells us that there is a way to glorify God not just by what comes out of our mouths in praise and prayer, but by what goes into our mouths by eating and drinking. In other words, every choice we make about what to eat or drink either magnifies or minimizes God.

…When we pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ God graciously answers not only by giving sufficient and suitable food for our physical and intellectual life, but also by calling us to take responsibility for the quantity and quality of food and drink we consume. We can’t expect our minds to function well if we are stuffing our faces with junk. And remember, God works through our minds. He does us spiritual good by imparting truth through our brains. Thus, if we are not caring for our brains by giving them sufficient and suitable fuel, that will ultimately damage our spiritual lives as well [pp.142-44].

Reset: Reduce by Planning and Keeping Routine

Reset-DMurray-2017We continue to consider the helpful thoughts of Dr. David Murray in his newly published book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

Having us take the “car” of our lives into “Repair Bay 7” (remember, the author is writing mainly with men in view) Murray points us to the need to reduce the stress and busyness  of our lives by reducing our work and schedules.

There are many helpful thoughts in this chapter, but here are a few. The first involves planning:

It’s not enough to have a purpose [the previous point]. We also need plans; we have to figure out the steps we need to take to get to our goals. If we want to strengthen our marriages, what steps will accomplish that? If we want to visit all the seniors in our congregations, how many a week will we visit, what time in the week will we do it, and where will we record progress? If we want to have more time with our teenage sons, where, when, and how will we do this? It’s not going to happen without a plan. That’s why I make sure that my calendar has time set aside each week for advancing my life purposes. If it’s not on there, it’s not going to happen. If it’s not on there, I’m clearly not serious about accomplishing it.

Scheduling also helps us stop overpromising to ourselves or others. Overpromising is the fatal result of an overoptimistic view of our abilities plus an unrealistic estimate of our available time plus a well-intentioned desire to please other people. The result is megastress in the one making the promises and usually huge disappointment in the ones receiving the promises [pp.131-32].

The second thought involves keeping a routine:

‘Tell me your daily routine.’

Uh, I don’t have one. Every day is different.’

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation with burned-out pastors and depressed Christians. What came first – the depression or the chaos – is sometimes difficult to trace, but they seem to go together, each one feeding off the other.

That’s why one of the first things I do is to get them to draw up and commit to a basic routine of sleeping, worshiping, eating, working, studying, and so on. God is a God of order, not of confusion (1 Cor.14:33), and as his created image-bearers, we glorify him – and feel much happier – when we live regular, orderly lives. He made our world and us in such a way that we flourish when our lives are characterized by a basic rhythm and regularity. That’s why those who make the most progress toward their lives goals are those who work on them at the same time each day or week. That’s also why those who have the most routine in their lives are healthier and happier [p.133].

Now Batting: 14 New Baseball Books – The New York Times

Yes, it is the opening week of the Major League baseball season (in the U.S.)! And the now universally lovable winners – World Series champion Chicago Cubs – are set to defend their title (last night’s 2-1 game was a model victory – great pitching, superb defense, and timely hitting!)!

And it is Spring break week. So, we are going to have a mid-week breather from our usual fare and serve you the great American pastime – in books!

Just in time for the start of the season, The New York Times served up a menu of fourteen new baseball books, one of which is about the surprising turn-around of the Cubbies, featured at the beginning of this article by Daniel Gold. Whether that title becomes my summer baseball read or not (and there are several others out there on the Cubs’ amazing 2016 season, as you might guess, including some wonderful photo books),  there are good-looking baseball books here for all the die-hard fans.

Check out the books by browsing the article by Gold, the opening paragraph of which I quote below (click on the link with the image above for the full article and all the books).

Happy Spring! Whatever your hometown team is, have a great season! And yes, of course, Go Cubbies!

It happens every spring. It’s time to play ball, so publishers fill out a new lineup card of biographies, team histories and other baseball scholarship. This season must begin by acknowledging the surreality that after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are again World Series champions. “The Plan” (Triumph, $24.95), by David Kaplan, is a chronicle of the project to turn “one of the worst organizations in baseball” into “a dynasty in the making.” Kaplan starts with the 2009 purchase of the franchise by Tom Ricketts, and the subsequent wooing of Theo Epstein, the general manager behind two titles for the formerly cursed Boston Red Sox. Chicago’s farm system is stocked and Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays manager, is signed ahead of the 2015 season. Add youngsters like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, and free agents like Jon Lester, and a long-losing club is finally No. 1. There’s too much front-office esoterica — one appendix lists clauses from rooftop-seating contracts for buildings around Wrigley Field — but Cubs fans won’t mind.

Published in: on April 5, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

large_dad-enough-to-sing-uqaj3si9This fine post by David Mathis about the important place of singing in the home – especially by fathers! – struck a wonderful chord (pun intended) with me this week.

As you may know, I am a singing father (as well as husband and church member). I sing in two men’s groups, the Hope Heralds and the Voices of Victory, and I sing every Lord’s Day in worship. And, yes, I do sing in my home, formally (for quartet practice) and informally (including in the shower and on my mower). I sing alone, and sing with family and fellow saints (which I much prefer). I love to sing. And I love singing a variety of music.

Maybe because I grew up in a singing family. No doubt that was a strong influence on me. So too the Christian schools I attended, where singing was a regular part of classroom as well as in the choirs in later years. Without question, the congregational singing in the churches I have been a part of has increased my love of singing. But it all starts in the home.

I don’t think my experience is different from many of yours. But we so take for granted the gift of music and the ability to sing, especially as Christians. And I do not doubt that we sell short the influence of the father in the home when it comes to singing.

And that’s where this article can help us, dads (and husbands). Mathis begins this way:

I want my sons to grow up believing that a grown man singing is one of the most natural sounds in the world.

It doesn’t have to be great singing. I’m no accomplished vocalist. Yet I don’t want my boys — or my daughter, for that matter — to ever think it’s strange for men to sing. Rather, it’s strange, and sad, when men don’t sing.

To my fellow dads, I’d love for you to consider with me what it might mean to put your fathering to song. What small but significant steps might you take toward making your home a more tangible place of happiness?

And goes on to give two main reasons why we “dadly” singing is good in the home (and outside of it too):

First,

When Daddy sings, the home is happier. Singing is the sound of joy in God. It is joy in God made audible. Singing around the house, in the car, and as we go through life fills the air with joy, and helps to establish a family fellowship of warmth, rather than coldness. Dads who are man enough to sing contribute in significant measure to making theirs a happy home.

And then second,

But not only do we make our homes happier through song. When Daddy sings, he inspires the hearts of his children to grow and flourish, not just their minds and bodies. As the sound of joy, song is a language of the heart. Filling life with music and song is a way to encourage and cultivate the heart, rather than suppress it.

So, how about it, men. Are we dad enough to sing? Read the rest of Mathis’ article to be further encouraged to sing in your home.

Source: Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

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Published in: on September 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM  Leave a Comment  

Note to Self: Love Your Wife

Sunday night in Faith PRC (my home church) Rev.C. Haak (Georgetown PRC) preached a powerful sermon from Prov.5:15-21 under the theme “Satisfied in One’s Own Marriage.” Whether you are married or not, you ought to listen to that sermon (Keep in mind that every believer is married to Jesus Christ and ought to learn over and over again how He loves and cares for His bride).

But especially if you are a husband, and especially if you are tempted to make excuses not to love your wife and begin to set your eyes, heart, and hands on a “strange woman”, listen to this sermon. And then listen to it again. And then again, from time to time. And let the Word sink into your soul and drive you to seek your satisfaction ONLY in the woman God gave you. That’s the way of wisdom, the wisdom of your Husband Jesus Christ. And that is the way of holiness and, therefore, of happiness.

Note-to-self-ThornIn that connection, the next chapter in Joe Thorn’s book is “Love Your Wife.” I post that too for your edification – and mine.

Begin by reading Eph.5:25-27 and praying about this calling.

Dear Self,

It is your calling and privilege to model Christ as husband to your wife through sacrifice and service. You are familiar enough with this passage to quote it and talk about it, but what counts is living it. Don’t you know Jesus? Haven’t you learned from him what love, sacrifice, and service look like? If so, you should be ready and eager to demonstrate this to your wife, because grace gives birth to grace. Because you know and follow Jesus, you are ready to truly love your wife.

That doesn’t mean love is easy. It isn’t This is why it must be commanded and why you must be reminded. And consider this calling. You must not only have warm affection for your wife, you must love her as Christ loves the church. This is sacrificial love – one that denies self and seeks the good of the bride.

…You should seek to be the brightest representation of Jesus she sees, as you represent Christ as Savior and servant to her. That would look like seeking her out when you get home from work, instead of seeking solace for yourself. It means affirming her calling and gifts, listening to her, speaking words of encouragement to her, and at all times working for her good. Jesus loves you this way, and in like manner you are called to love your wife.

Taken from Chap.16 “Love Your Wife” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.69-70.

 

Books That Influenced Abraham Lincoln | The Art of Manliness

While many of America’s presidents came from prominent, educated homes, one of our most famous — Abraham Lincoln — did not. So he became consummate autodidact.

Source: Books That Influenced Abraham Lincoln | The Art of Manliness

ALincoln-1It has been sometime since we last brought your attention to this fascinating series from “The Art of Manliness.” So on this Thursday morning we point you to the latest installment – on the reading habits and library of Abraham Lincoln.

Below are the opening paragraphs of the article; for the rest, visit the AOM link above.

Welcome back to our series on the libraries of great men. The eminent men of history were often voracious readers and their own philosophy represents a distillation of all the great works they fed into their minds. This series seeks to trace the stream of their thinking back to the source. For, as David Leach, a now retired business executive put it: “Don’t follow your mentors; follow your mentors’ mentors.”

While many of America’s presidents came from prominent, educated homes, one of our most famous — Abraham Lincoln — did not. Growing up in the backwoods of Kentucky and then Indiana, Lincoln rarely enjoyed the privilege of full-time schooling. His formal education, in his own words, came “by littles,” “did not amount to one year,” and was thoroughly “defective.”

And yet Honest Abe rose in society to become a shop owner, lawyer, and of course, President of the United States. How did he do this without much in the way of formal education?

He taught himself, becoming the consummate autodidact.