Labor Day 2020: A Working Man – Rev. J. Engelsma

Col32324The latest issue of the Standard Bearer – Sept.1, 2020 – includes a valuable and timely article by Rev. Josh Engelsma on work. It is part of a series he is working on for the rubric “Strength of Youth,” in which he is developing the biblical idea of godly manhood. In this installment he writes on the place of labor (work) in the godly man’s life, tracing the concept from the threefold viewpoint of creation, the Fall, and redemption.

On this Labor Day holiday in the U.S., when there are so many distorted voices calling for our attention on the place and value of work in our lives, it is good to reference this article and hear what God’s Word says about it. I can only quote a portion of it, so we will go to the end of the article and quote from his section “work and redemption.”

Thankfully, as Christians we have hope in the face of sin and the curse. That hope is in Jesus Christ and His work. He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, condescended to dwell in this world under the curse, and came to work. His work was to do the will of His Father and redeem His elect people. His earthly ministry was one of constant work: preaching and teaching and performing countless miracles. In reading the gospel accounts one gets the sense of constant activity and busyness with very little opportunity for rest. Especially did Jesus spend Himself in His work at the end of His life as He suffered the wrath of God at the cross and gave His life to atone for our sins.

As men, our confidence may never be in our own working and busyness. Rather we trust alone in Christ and His perfect work. On the basis of His finished work, we are forgiven of our sins with respect to our work. And by the power of His work in us, we are strengthened to fight against our sins and to work out of thanksgiving for His work. And we look forward in hope to the removal of the curse when in perfected bodies and souls we will serve God forever in the new heavens and earth.

Keeping this always in mind, we seek to determine what work the Lord would have us to do. We take stock of the unique gifts and opportunities God gives us (cf. Rom. 12:3-8). We seek out the wise counsel of parents, friends, teachers, and fellow saints. And through prayer we fill out that job application and strike out on that career path. As Christians we have a vocation, a unique calling from God. The idea of a calling is not just for pastors and teachers, but for electricians and salesmen as well.

In the work we are given to do, we strive to work hard. There are few things worse than a man who will not work hard. It ought to be the case as Christians that we are the best, most-desired employees. We respect our employer, give an honest day’s labor, make the best use of our abilities, are faithful and trustworthy, seek the good of the company, and refuse to cheat and cut corners.

In working hard, we seek to do so with the right motive in our hearts. We are not laboring to be rich. We are not seeking greatness as the world counts it. We labor as grateful servants in God’s heavenly kingdom. God does not need us, but He is pleased to use us as instruments in His hand for the advancement of His kingdom. That means that our labor is not empty and meaningless, as 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Even the lowliest ditch-digger has an honorable, necessary place of service in the kingdom.

The way this kingdom-focus often comes to expression is in our giving. We work hard not for materialistic purposes, but so that we might use the money God gives to support our family, send our children to a Christian school, feed the poor, provide for the ministry of the Word, and promote the various labors of the church (evangelism, missions, seminary instruction, for example).

Finally, we work not for our own glory and the praise of men, but for the glory of God. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23).

Let this prayer be yours as you leave for work in the morning, and as you lay your weary body to rest at night:

So let there be on us bestowed
The beauty of the Lord our God;
The work accomplished by our hand
Establish thou, and make it stand;
Yea, let our hopeful labor be
Established evermore by Thee,
Established evermore by Thee (Psalter #246:3).

If you are interested in receiving this Reformed periodical, visit this link to the Standard Bearer website, where you will find subscription information – for both print and digital copies.

Branch Rickey and the Jackie Robinson Story

RickieRobinson

This is a January morning in 1943 and Wesley Branch Rickey is standing outside his house at 34 Greenway South in Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, New York City. …Rickey’s face shows eagerness and excitement even after all his years in baseball. He has asked God for help and believes that is exactly what is happening now.

…He waits in cold, fresh air for his ride to downtown Brooklyn, where he runs the Dodgers baseball team. [Yes, that now LA Dodgers team!] While this does not sound so vital, especially in time of war, today he is doing the work of the Lord with all his heart and mind and these large, gnarled hands he waves. He is going to a crucial meeting with the banker who holds the mortgage on the Dodgers baseball team.

Rickey carries with him a Midwestern Christian religious fervor as strong as a wheat crop, and a political faith in anything Republican. Already he is a familiar figure at his new church in Queens, the Church in the Gardens…. On Sundays, Branch Rickey brought with him to church a prayer book and a background of Methodist studies from Ohio Wesleyan University, and sometimes he delivered the sermon. In one, he announced he was here to run the Brooklyn Dodgers and to serve the God to whom they prayed, and the Lord’s work called for him to bring the first black player into major league baseball.

You held the American heart in your hand when you attempted to change anything in baseball. If a black was involved, the cardiograms showed an ice storm.

…In no calling, craft, profession trade, or occupation was color in American accepted. The annals of the purported greats how that everyone was paralyzed with the national disease: color fear.

But here on this street corner stands Branch Rickey, a lone white man with a fierce belief that it is the deepest sin against God to hold color against a person. On this day he means to change baseball and America, too. The National Pastime, the game that teaches sportsmanship to children, must shake with shame, Rickey thought. Until this morning in Forest Hills, there has been no white person willing to take on the issue. That is fine with Rickey. He feels that he is at bat with two outs and a 3-2 pitch coming. He is the last man up, sure he will get a hit.

Taken from the first chapter in the powerful story of this professing Christian and his singular goal to integrate baseball with black players. The book is Branch Rickey: A Life by Jimmy Breslin, and it is my second baseball read this summer (another of those thrift store finds that turns out to be a gem!). The pages quoted here are 5-7.

Branch-Rickey-Breslin

Branch Rickey is the one who introduced the great Jackie Robinson to the major leagues, finally breaking a barrier that opened the door for many other great players. Many may forget the Christian background to the story (Robinson was also a professing Christian), but Breslin tells it straight. You may also be interested to know that when he was a player, Rickey himself refused to play on Sunday, keeping a promise to his godly mother. Yet, sadly, he broke it later as a manager.

How to Read Long and Difficult Books | The Art of Manliness

This encouraging post on AOM appeared last week (Sept.3) and has good practical advice for men on how to read those “long and difficult books.”

Perhaps you have never tackled such a book, but you have looked at a classic or a biography you really wanted to read but were intimidated by its size and length. Read and follow the pointers this man gives you and you will understand that it is possible for you to get that “big read” in. Soon it will be Fall and then Winter and your nights will be freer; so set yourself a goal and then set some time aside for feeding your mind and your soul. That truly is manly.

Here is the writer’s introduction and then two of his practical pointers. For the rest, visit the link below.

Before the last year or so, I would have probably counted myself in that camp. I had tried to read Washington: A Life and gave up after a few hundred pages. I’d tried Moby-Dick and met a similar fate. The allure of a big, meaty book was great, and yet I couldn’t find the stamina to actually finish many.

So what was it that finally put me over the top and allowed me to get all the way through these hefty tomes? (And then to keep going too!) At the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. I figured it was some combination of having a plan and finally having the gumption to just keep flipping the pages. But after thinking about it, I realized that there was some innate method to how I was accomplishing it. There’s no need to be intimidated by old books, long books, or just plain hard to read books. It really is a skill to be learned in our Smartphone Age.

Here’s how I did it (and continue to do it), and how you can too.

2. Set a small amount of time or pages per day that you’ll read.

One of the keys in achieving that plan is giving yourself a micro-goal. My plan to read 44+ presidential biographies (some of which are multi-volume) gives me helpful direction, but it’s too distant an end goal to sustain my motivation from day to day. Even focusing on simply finishing the next book in the sequence is tough, when that book is massive — presidents’ lives are often very well explored and documented.

So I go even smaller and set myself very attainable reading goals. I often flip through the book first to get a sense of how long chapters are; with Washington: A Life I set out to read a single chapter a day. With chapters averaging just 10-20 pages, this was totally doable. For books that have longer chapters (like Caro’s LBJ series), I’ll set a time-based goal, usually 30 minutes a day.

Working from home, and not having a commute or anyone to disturb my lunch hour, I perhaps have more spare time to read than others. If you’re really cramped, give it just 10-15 minutes per day. You’ll get through those long and hard books far quicker than you’d expect, and when time and energy allow, you’ll often willingly do more than what you’ve allotted.

4. Get an edition that you like.

This can make a surprisingly big difference in your reading experience. Reading can be a far more kinetic activity than you’d think. The weight of the book, the styling of the font and the design of the text, even the cover art — if a book is nice to look at and easy to hold, you’re more likely to pick it up.

Tangible and tactile, and free from the distractions built into my phone, I prefer paper copies for most of my reading, and often hardcovers specifically. Paperbacks are more portable, but the text is often a little harder to read with darker, smaller font size and tighter margins. And while I enjoy used bookstores as much as anyone else, I don’t like reading copies that have any notes or underlining in them already. It’s too distracting. So I always make sure to get a clean copy.

When it comes to classic literature, you often have a ton of choices. Old versions are sometimes fun to have, but often harder to read, with small margins and overly dark text. I also like explanatory endnotes and lengthy introductions, which older versions almost always lack. Penguin Classics is the gold standard in my opinion. I have a few handfuls of those black paperback covers staring at me from my shelves. If I’m really feeling like I want a hardcover for whatever reason, I also really like the Everyman’s Library editions.

Source: How to Read Long and Difficult Books | The Art of Manliness

Published in: on September 12, 2019 at 10:44 PM  Comments (1)  

A Word to Fathers on Father’s Day

Ps103-13

On this Sabbath Day, in which we give special remembrance to the calling and blessing of fathers, I call your attention to the Word of God in Psalm 103:13:  “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.”  This verse from the holy Scriptures goes right to the heart of what it means to be a father.  It expresses it in one word:  pity.  A father pities his children.

…Now, that truth of Jehovah’s fatherly pity must be seen in a Christian father.  For the pattern of all of our life is to be holy as God is holy, that is, to pattern our life after God.  For instance, in marriage we must live as God lives with His bride, the church.  Therefore, as fathers, we must seek to conform our earthly parenting and fathering to His heavenly fathering and parenting.  God says, “I have shown My pity to you as My son.  I am your perfect example.  As I have pitied, so you are to pity your children.”  You must cultivate a relationship with your children in which you seek to reflect the fatherly pity of God.

Yes, that means for sure that as a father you are called to meet their earthly needs.  You are to fill their bellies.  You are to clothe their backs.  You are to put a roof over their heads.  And, yes, leave them an inheritance.  But what a horrible thing if that is what fathering means to you—if it is nothing more than that—if you do not prayerfully create a climate of spiritual warmth in your home, of tenderness and pity and affection for your child.  You must be as God, filled with tender pity and affection and compassion in Christ for your child.  Do not say, “Oh, that pity stuff is for wimps.”  Oh, no.  As a father you are to reveal the pity of God.  That means that you must not allow coldness, distance, ill-will, resentment to be the atmosphere of your home.  If you allow that to be the atmosphere of your home between you and your child, if you are guilty of those things, if you are guilty of the abuse of your child, if you are guilty of harboring resentments and ill-will and distance and coldness toward them, you are being ungodly.  You are not as God!

This is the question with which we must confront ourselves as Christian fathers today:  Would you want God to be the kind of parent to you that you are to your children?  Fathers, you and I are confronted by that question today in God’s Word.  Would you want your children to conceive of God’s heart as they conceive of your heart?  That is serious business.  You say, “I never thought about that when I got married.  I never thought about that when I started to have children.  You mean to say to me, pastor, that all of my child’s concepts of God are also to be based upon what they see in me as a father?”  I answer you, “Yes.  That is the teaching of God’s Word.”  That is why we tremble.  That is why we need to be on our knees before God.  That is why we need the holy Scriptures.  That is why we need the faithful church of Jesus Christ to instruct us.  And that is why we need one another in the house of the Lord.  We must work together as men of God, that we might be fathers in Christ.

That is why you need, as a man of God, a husband, father, to know more of your God—more and more of Him.  What will our children think of their heavenly Father?  Much of the answer is to be found in you, especially in those formative, pre-school years.  Oh, we are not perfect.  That is why repentance is so necessary in our lives before our children.  But, you see, if we resent those children; if in our frustration we slap them across the face; if we do not use wise, consistent, biblical discipline applied to the seat of their pants; if instead we rant and we yell and we call them names and we have no time for our kids — if that is the way we go about things and brush it off as insignificant and we go on in those patterns of life, then we are being ungodly.  What will that little boy, that little girl, think when you teach them to fold their hands and pray, “Our Father who art in heaven”?  How will they have the courage to look to heaven and believe that they are precious to their heavenly Father?  That means that you must rear your child conscientiously, principally, from the Word of God.  You must seek to be conformed to the pattern of your heavenly Father.

Taken from the message, “A Father’s Pity,” based on Psalm 103:13 and delivered on the Reformed Witness Hour program for June 15, 2014 by Rev. Carl Haak. You may find the audio version here.

Young Men, Be Strong! ~ Rev. Josh Engelsma

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Standard Bearer includes the next installment of Rev. Josh Engelsma’s series on biblical manhood, penned under the rubric “Strength of Youth.” While he intends to write on biblical womanhood too, pastor Engelsma is addressing young men first, because that too is biblical. To men God gives the position of headship and the charge of leadership in marriage, the family, and the church. So men – young men too – bear the responsibility to grasp this position and to grow in leadership.

This particular article focuses on the calling to “be strong.” And by that Rev. Engelsma means in the sense of Eph.6:10 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Listen as he explains what this strength is:

When you think about what it means to be a mature man, one of the things that probably comes to mind is his strength. Generally speaking, men are physically stronger than women. If the woman is the “weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7), this implies that the man is the stronger vessel.

Especially is it the case with young men that they are characterized by strength. When I was a teenager it was not uncommon for me to work all day in the scorching heat of the summer and then after work spend the entire evening running up and down the basketball court. The point is not to make you think that I was so strong (I wasn’t), but rather to illustrate the point that young men in general are strong.

The Bible speaks of young men in the same way. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” We read in 1 John 2:14, “…I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong…” And in Isaiah 40:30, when it describes our dependence upon Almighty God, it speaks of young men as the epitome of earthly strength: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”

But when the Bible speaks of the strength of youth, it does not have in mind merely muscles. After all, God “taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man” (Ps. 147:10, a verse oft repeated to a sports-crazed young man by a wise grandmother).

Rather, the Word of God has in mind spiritual strength. This is evident from the rest of 1 John 2:14 when it says to young men, “… because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” What ought to characterize mature Christian men, and young men in particular, is that they are strong spiritually.

He then goes to define what this spiritual strength is, and does so from a specific point of view, that of saving faith. After explaining what this faith looks like, he begins to make application, pointing out this practical truth:

It seems almost paradoxical, but the reality is that spiritual strength is found in acknowledging that you are weak. The proud man, the one who imagines himself to be strong, falls. The humble man, the one who knows he is weak and depends entirely on Christ for strength, stands. “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

If the strength of youth is faith, then one who is spiritually strong is one who possesses this hearty trust in and dependence upon Christ.

And this is strength! By faith in Christ we are strong to withstand the fiery darts of the devil. By faith in Christ we are strong to overcome the world and its pressures. By faith in Christ we are strong to wage war against our old man of sin. By faith in Christ we are able to bear up under heavy burdens. By faith in Christ we are able to carry out our callings in life. By faith in Christ we are able to be strong and courageous leaders.

Young men, you are strong! Because you’ve received the gift of faith!

Read the rest of this edifying article in the October 1 issue of the SB. And if you are not yet receiving it so as to read it, visit the subscription page of the website and get signed up!

How to Read More Books | The Art of Manliness

It has been some time since I posted something from “The Art of Manliness,” but this end-of-February post on AOM was saved for a day such as this.

So, on this Wednesday, you men and I are especially addressed with regard to increasing our reading. “And, how do I do that?”, you ask. Take more time to read! Wasn’t that easy?

One of the founders of AOM states this at the outset:

Last year I read over 120 books. When I posted a collage of my favorite of those 120 reads on Instagram, a lot of guys asked me what my secret was for digesting that many tomes in 12 months.

I’ve developed some tactics during my years of reading for both work and pleasure, and I share them below. If you’re looking to increase your physical and mental library and read more books this year, maybe they’ll work for you too.

If you are like me (and you know I am an avid reader), you respond to that by saying, “Wow! That’s impressive! And, there is no way I can read that much in a year.” And that is probably quite true. Reality is, we will not match that. More than likely, not even come close.

But what if we could start by reading 12 books a year – one a month? That’s doable. But HOW?, you say. Listen to Brett’s simple answer and secret:

When people ask me how I read so many books, they’re usually fishing for a speed reading technique that will allow their brains to swallow books whole.

Speed reading certainly plays a role in my reading technique (more on that later), but it’s not my killer secret.

Lean in. I’m going to whisper the secret to reading a lot of books.

Are you ready?

You need to spend more time reading.

But then, we may respond, “Easy to say; a lot harder to practice.” And that too is true. But here are a couple of practical points about finding more time to read:

Schedule time for reading. You can’t in fact find time for reading; you’ve got to make time for it. And the best way to make time for something is to put it on your daily schedule. You don’t need to set aside an hour straight for reading. If you’re just starting off with making reading a priority, you probably don’t yet have the attention span for it, and trying to read that long in one sitting will likely set you up for frustration. Instead, block off 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night for reading. …make those 20-minute blocks if a half hour still seems too long. Instead of doing your typical time-wasting smartphone scan at those times, you’ll read. You’ll be amazed how many books you can knock off in a month by reading an hour a day.

Use spare moments for reading. Even though your daily schedule may seem packed, there are invariably small pockets of time hidden in its interstices that you typically waste. A few minutes of downtime between activities or appointments may seem trivial, but they soon add up to hours, and to entire books read; there’s great possibilities in spare moments!

Standing in line at the post office? Read a book. Cooling your heels at the dentist? Read a book. Pooping? Read a book. Waiting to pick up your kid from school? Read.

Pardon the crassness there, but you get the point, I hope. There is time in every day for reading. More time than we realize. We just need to take advantage of it. And, yes, that means leaving the phone and tablet aside so that we are focused on reading. That is harder. That takes discipline. But you and I can do it.

Will we commit to it? Find a book at home and start reading it. Of course, now. You won’t believe how relaxing it is. 🙂

Or you can finish reading this good, motivational article. Here’s the link to the rest of it.

Source: How to Read More Books | The Art of Manliness

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?