Four Ways to Fight Against Grumbling

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Four Ways to Fight Against Grumbling

One of the lessons I’m slowly learning right now is to not grumble, but to be thankful. In all fairness you and I have a lot to be thankful for. In my case, both of my parents are still living, I get to serve in a fantastic ministry and work with great people. I have a godly wife who loves me. I graduated with my bachelors and masters degrees with high honors. By all indications I would appear to be a success. What do I have to grumble about you say? The flesh always wants more. Our flesh lusts after it, and the best way to kill a grumbling spirit is to thank God for what He has given you.

Find Godly Accountability

There are four ways I’ve found to do fight against grumbling. First, if you’re a man find some other godly men, or if you’re a woman find some other godly women, and share openly about what God is doing in your life. I have several people in my life that I share openly with, in addition to friends around the country. I encourage you, men, to look for other men in your church who you can learn from and grow in your walk with God. Likewise, women, I encourage you to look for godly older women who can encourage you and pray for you.

By putting yourself in relationships where you are held accountable for how you behave and face trials, you are putting yourself in contact with God’s grace. For example, I regularly meet with an older gentleman who teaches Sunday school at the church my wife and I are members of. While our meetings are mutually encouraging, and we discuss theology at length, we also share with each other about our respective lives. We encourage each other in our marriages and pray for one another. We speak the truth into each other’s lives. This is one reason why everyone needs a godly saint in his/her life, not only to help him/her grow, but also to see how this godly person has grown in his/her walk with the Lord over the years.

Regularly Read Your Bible

Second, cultivate the practice of regularly reading and meditating upon the Word. There is a reason why Paul talks about thankfulness to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Paul said that he knew what it was like to live with much and to live with little in Philippians 4:11-12. He experienced a great deal of suffering and hardship, and yet he was thankful. Look at Jesus: He experienced a great deal of heart break, betrayal by his own disciples, and died in our place for our sin. Jesus is not only our example, He is our Lord, King, and High Priest. He calls us to put our sin to death, including our grumbling and complaining.

When we are satisfied in Him our hearts will resound with thankfulness to our Savior. When we aren’t satisfied in God, we will seek after other lovers/idols and pursue them until we are full of their pleasures, whatever those are. This is exactly why regularly opening your Bible and meditating on it will help you. Going through large sections of Scripture at once can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to stop and meditate on texts that seem to be speaking directly to situations that you are dealing with. Remember, the Word of God isn’t a book of fairytales, but the living and active Word that convicts us and points us to Jesus.

Grow in the Gospel

Third, fight grumbling and complaining not only with thankfulness, but by growing in the gospel. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus died in our place for our sin so that we would put sin to death. He is the ultimate reason why we seek a superior pleasure and delight in God. When we grumble and complain, we are saying that God is not enough for us. We are saying when we grumble that we will not delight in or be satisfied by the living water that Jesus provides to us. We are saying that we will not be satisfied by the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

If you’re truly a Christian you should feel the weightiness of what you’re actually saying when you grumble and complain about your trials and circumstances. I not only want you to see that it’s sinful and wrong, but to recognize that the cure to grumbling and complaining is to be satisfied in Jesus. When we focus only on the problem but never get to the cure, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but also to others around us. This is one reason why many Christians get discouraged. By having the right perspective on this issue, we will see ourselves clearer as we are in Christ, and thus be able grow through our grumbling and complaining.

Submit to the teaching of Scripture

Finally, I know that grumbling and complaining are hard habits to overcome, but remembering the Word of God can help. As I wrote this article, for example, I was grumbling, complaining, and very unhappy because my laptop wasn’t working. While I knew my wife, who works in the IT industry, could fix the issue (and she did fix the problem with my laptop), I still doubted and worried. I still longed to vent my frustration, complain, and grumble. Maybe that’s where you are today—frustrated, angry, and/or complaining. My encouragement to you is the same words I have to repeat to myself: stop beating myself up about issues I can’t control, to take a walk, spend some time praying, and preaching the gospel to myself rather than berating myself again and again. We have a Savior who understands what we are going through. We can not only look to Him but because of Him we can be thankful. We can praise Him not only through the storms, but also in the midst of the storm, because He walks alongside and ahead of us. Our God is faithful and mighty to save; He is our rock and our fortress. Next time you find yourself grumbling and complaining, I encourage you to run to Jesus. Cling to Him and abide in Him; He is all you need.

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Parenting with Promise

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Parenting with Promise
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Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Parenting with Promise

I grew up in Christian tradition terrified of the world and culture. We dare not touch, taste, or see lest we become defiled as well. “We are not of the world,” I heard often. We should never ignore the sin and darkness in the world, but we certainly shouldn’t live in fear. Our King reigns eternal in light.

Often I see this fear in my own parenting and in parents I mingle with in different settings. I had an irrational fear of my child going to school because “What if she learns bad stuff from other children?”

A trending news story on many Christian news outlets is the loss of faith of young adults. Why is it happening? (Is it really happening?) How can we stem the tide? (Can we stem it?) What’s the silver bullet so our children don’t lose their faith? (Can we make them internalize it?)

We are so wrapped up in methods, ministries, and silver bullets that we stop discipling and parenting with promise and only react as the next cultural wave hits the shore of the church and our homes. I want to make three points that grow out of what God has already done and what he promises to accomplish.

First, parenting in reaction to culture and in fear of being defiled by the world ignores that sin is within our homes. Our focus is outward. Our focus is on other people. Our focus is on outside institutions. We never take the time to proactively examine our own heart. Our own homes. Our own churches. We never regularly engage our children’s affections with the gospel.

Sin is real. And it lives in our homes. Instead of focusing outward, let’s daily root out sin in our lives. As parents, that means regularly repenting and humbling yourselves in-front of, not only your spouse, but your children.

The other day in a moment of self-righteous anger I snapped at my wife in the car for a wrong she did me. My oldest daughter piped up, “Dad let her think about what happened and give her time to respond.” My first thought was Where does this stuff come from? I have this fun loving, smart, and rambunctious daughter who regularly goes Yoda-wise on me. Then I remember the Spirit is working in her heart, growing her faith, and turning her heart towards Jesus. Not that I’m not concerned with her friends, but I’m concerned as much with all the sin I’m teaching her. I must strive to make sure every sin is followed promptly by repentance.

Second, we must plant seeds of love for Jesus in their hearts, instead of primarily fear for what’s out there. In M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, people grieving the loss of loved ones meet and decide to create a village completely secluded from the evil of the outside world. These founding members do this by fostering fear of evil creatures who inhabit the woods around this nineteenth century styled village. There’s a fictitious truce with these creatures as long as the villagers stay within the confines of the walls. This farce is created to keep the children inside the village and separated from the evil of the world around. What we learn in this film is that fear cannot win the affections and evil cannot be walled out when humans live within those walls.

An accessible example of this failure in the church and its families is our approach to sex. Churches regularly teach on sex out of fear—fear of unwanted pregnancies, fear of disease, fear of shame. We typically don’t spend as much time teaching on the awesomeness of sex in marriage and the ecstasy God created man and woman for in sexual unity. Ideally, before the topic of sex is broached we should have years of discipleship in place with our children centered on the love of Jesus, his goodness, and the unlimited joy found in fellowship with the Trinity. That foundation should be our launchpad for discussing sex. “Jesus loves us and wants us to enjoy his creation. Here’s how to best enjoy sex.”

Last, we must parent with promise. Pushing our children towards a one-time decision for Jesus can be harmful. It sends the message that being a disciple is a one time moment and that their faith is something that they must produce. Instead, we must parent with promise. From the time our children our young, we must teach them that God is faithful to his promises, that God has called them holy, and that God will never cast them out when the come to Jesus.

My aim when discipling my children is to flame their love of God—tightly gripping the promises of God along the way. “Isn’t he awesome?” “Look how he has provided!” “Daddy sinned. Will you forgive me? I’m so thankful God forgives us when we sin.” “What God offers is so much better. There’s infinite joy in him.” We do not tremble in fear wondering if God will do what he says in our children’s heart. We humbly expect him to accomplish all his promises and use all the means he provides to disciple them along the way.

So parents stop teaching your children to fear the world. Our King has conquered it. Every square inch is his. Teach them to love him and delight in the world. Teach them about repentance. Teach them about God’s unfailing promises. And don’t forget to read them good stories along the way. Stories that compliment the one true story.

This post first appeared at Mathew’s blog and is posted here with his permission.

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What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Book Reviews, Featured, Theology

What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible

What Does God Want of Us Anyway 214x300 What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole BibleFor some, the thought of reading the Bible can be quite daunting. Many view the Bible as a collection of books they just cannot seem to relate to due to the strange language, events, and people it describes. In an effort to help those who fall into that category as well as people who may even feel they have a good handle on what Scripture has to say appreciate the overall message God has provide in His word, Dr. Mark Dever has written What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible.

This little book is indeed a very quick overview of the entire Bible. Dever’s intent is not to engage every single nuance found throughout Scripture. Conversely, his approach is to provide the reader with a solid background of and insight into God’s message to humanity as revealed in Scripture, namely one of promises made, promises fulfilled, and promises yet to be fulfilled all wrapped up in the great hope we can have in God and His faithfulness to His people.

The three studies provided in this book came about from a series of sermons Dever gave to his church that have been edited into book format. Dever divides this book into “The Message of the Whole Bible”, “The Message of the Old Testament”, and “The Message of the New Testament” with the first two sections further divided into a quick overview, discussions on the particular history being addressed, the passion for holiness exhibited by God, and the promise of hope contained in Scripture. The final section takes a slightly different approach with the focus being the promise of redemption kept through the coming of Christ with additional discussion taking place on the body of Christ, concluding with a notation of the future promise of the final redemption of all things which will take place when Christ returns.

As one who has had the opportunity to read a number of large and small introductions to the message and contents of Scripture, I will submit that despite its somewhat diminutive size in comparison to the larger and more extensive insight of Scripture available on the market today, Dever’s effort is one of my favorite biblical overviews. It is a favorite not due to the number of footnotes (for which there is none), the extensive bibliography (for which there is none), or the interaction with other scholarly works (for which there is very little if any). It is a favorite because of its simplistic profundity, meaning Dever brilliantly captures the overall flow of Scripture in a way that reminds everyone from the most seasoned brilliant theological minds to the newest believer of what exactly God has been up to since the beginning, namely the movement towards redemption. That is the crux of all of Scripture and Dever ably drives home that message at every opportunity.

What is also useful is the overview Dever provides of each book of the Bible. There are many books Christians unfortunately never take time to read and many of those reside in the Minor Prophet section of the Bible. Dever shares a short yet informative overview of every book of Scripture in a way that helps people appreciate how the message of that particular book fits into the greater overarching message of Scripture. If you have never thought about reading Nahum or Habbakuk, after reading Dever’s book I submit you will suddenly find an interest in those oft neglected books.

I highly recommend this book for all believers and I especially recommend that churches keep a large stash of this book available to provide to new believers. This is an excellent tool for new believers to have as they begin their lifelong journey reading God’s Word and appreciating its message of hope.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

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God is the End-Game

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in The Gospel and the Christian Life

Endgame.

 

Jesus’ work on the cross gave us life, peace, community, forgiveness, etc. — He lavishes us with much, no doubt. But the chief reward is the Reward of Rewards — God himself.

Isn’t this why Jesus tore the veil?

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

God Makes It Awesome

Salvation is only salvation because God is the reward.

Eternal life is joyous and good because it is with the Eternal One.

Heaven isn’t heavenly because of its location. God’s glorious enjoyability makes heaven be heaven. His radiating presence is the zoning code for Heaven.

While God is the chief reward of the gospel, all other rewards are given by him, not in competition to or in spite of him. Every blessing we taste comes from God’s kitchen, prepared by his hands, served up for us to enjoy. He’s the Master Chef, bringing handcrafted delights for all the orphans he’s made a home for.

Worship God for the Gospel

Gospel-centered Christians are God-enjoying, God-centered, Jesus-exalting, Spirit-loving, Bible-devouring Christians.

We don’t worship the gospel; we worship the God of the gospel. The gospel is God’s act of taking a group of scoundrels turned saints who find their upmost satisfaction in Him.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

One day, our bodies will fail. Our hearts will quit on us. And all of our stuff will be worthless. Everything we could buy and once enjoy, touch, taste, shoot, grill, read, and watch — will be shelved, sold, or trashed.

After our lungs deflate there will be only one thing that remains for us; The Three in One.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in light of his light — In light of this light — God is our reward.

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Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Dave: Today, I have the honor of interviewing my friend, Greg Gibson, the lead editor of Manual, the men’s channel at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Greg also serves as an elder and family ministries Pastor at Foothills Church in Maryville, Tennessee.

Dave, “What do you see as the biggest issues in contemporary approaches to men’s ministry?”

Greg: The biggest problem I see is the segregation of men and women in the first place.  Many churches have men’s ministries and women’s ministries that exist separately from one another, which fosters the husband and the wife learning in different contexts.  I think this is okay, to an extent.  However, I think the healthiest thing is to blow up contemporary men’s and women’s ministries all together and focus directly on biblical community, as we see it in Scripture (e.g., Acts 2:42-47).  Call them missional communities, small groups, Sunday school classes, or what-have-you, but I think when the local church goes away from the traditional model of segregating the genders and provides men and women, husbands and wives, twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings, all the opportunity to do life together, then we will see a more robust and flourishing manhood and womanhood.  In this model, Titus 2 discipleship happens naturally, younger men observe and learn how manhood is practiced by older men, and younger families can be mentored by older families. ”

What is more, most men’s ministries I’ve seen are just explanations for having social time with “the guys.”

Dave, “How should pastors and ministry leaders speak to these issues?”

Greg: First, I think multi-generational discipleship should be engrained in the DNA and mission statement of the church.  Therefore, when church members approach church leaders about starting these “segregated ministries,” then every new thing that begins can be filtered through the churches mission statement.

Second, I think lead pastors and those in preaching positions should constantly speak into manhood and womanhood issues from the pulpit.  As pastors preach through books in Scripture, there is ample opportunity to speak into and champion gospel-centered human flourishing.

Dave,What is biblical manhood?”

Greg: My working definition (which I write in my book, Reformational Manhood) is this:

A biblical man, marked with courage, is a leader, provider, and protector.  He pursues his family, serves his church, shares and defends truth, makes quick and good decisions for the benefit of others, and redeems his time.  And then teaches other men to do the same.

Dave, “How can pastors and ministry leaders provide a vision for biblical manhood in their local churches?”

Greg:

  1.  Model it.  Model it.  Model it.  As you model a different type of manhood, people notice.  Men notice.  Your family notices.  Your neighbors notice.  Your community notices.
  1.  Preach it from the pulpit.
  1.  Disciple men intentionally (like Jesus did) to then go and disciple others.  But this type of discipleship doesn’t have to be a programmed thing in your church.  Do it relationally, incarnationally, and as you do life together.

Dave: Thank you for your time today Greg.

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Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Book Reviews, Creation/Evolution, Featured

Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church

Six Days 208x300 Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church The issue of origins and how to interpret the message of Genesis is for some low on their theological radar and for others a source of great concern. The question of whether how one views the issue of origins being important for their overall understanding of Scripture and the theological truths subsumed therein, whether it impacts the authority of Scripture, or whether it bears any importance at all continues to be the subject of much debate. Ken Ham, in his latest book Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church asserts there is a connection to be made between one’s approach to origins and the decline we are seeing occurring within the church, in particular to issues such as the aforementioned affirmation of Scripture as the fundamental source of where truth is found to include truth about the origin of all things.

Ham is a rather prolific author on the subject of origins having written a number of books for kids and adults on this particular subject matter. In all of Ham’s writing efforts, whether that is through published books or blog posts on the Answers in Genesis website, one reoccurring message rings through and that is the necessity of Scripture as the believer’s authority for all matters in life to include origins as well as the negative impact rejecting Scripture as the authority will have both on the church and society at large. While Six Days may not bring to light any new issues not already covered in Ham’s other books, it does compile a very worthwhile and effective discussion of what happens when people move away from the solid foundation of Scripture.

The pernicious influence of evolution according to Ham is one of the culprits for the decline of the modern church. Acceptance of evolutionary dogma to include millions of years, death before sin, a rejection of Adam and Eve as historical figures, the rejection of a global flood, and the perspective that Genesis does not contain the actual historically accurate account of how God created all things has permeated the church, its seminaries, and the perspective of God’s people regarding origins. This has all transpired under the guise of their possibly being a middle ground that can be toed on origins, something Ham rejects as being valid. He aptly notes “Christians need to wake up to the fact there is no neutral position and their students are really being indoctrinated into an anti-God religion in the public schools.” Furthermore, this anti-God agenda is noted by Ham as occurring in the halls of Christian institutions as well noting the words of teachers and professors at Christian schools, colleges, and seminaries who have called for a reevaluation and reformulation of the church’s stance on Adam and Eve or original sin in order to accommodate modern evolutionary based scientific dogma.

Ham does an excellent job of reminding the reader exactly what doing good science is all about. There is a difference between observational and operational science and Ham goes into great detail about how each functions in order to demonstrate to the reader that the study of evidence from the past is greatly influenced by one’s presuppositions. He also correctly notes that when we apply the rules of operational science for example to the study of fossils and rock layers, “it confirms catastrophism consistent with the Flood of Noah’s day. It does not confirm millions of years.” Thus, what we are left with is a battle between worldviews, one that affirms the truth of Scripture and one that rejects God as being part of the equation. It is this rejection of the authority and truth of Scripture that again is disturbing to Ham as it involves the element of compromise, namely allowing man’s fallible opinion to supersede the truth found in the pages of God’s word.

Understanding the truth of what is contained in Scripture is another issue discussed by Ham in this helpful book. For those who aver that science conflicts with Scripture or that somehow Scripture must bow to the will of modern and ever changing scientific dogma, Ham reminds them of how to properly approach Scripture to include engaging context, noting the absolute clarity of Scripture on issues such as the days of creation, and the need to compare Scripture with Scripture to obtain the overarching and consistent message it contains. Those who stray outside the confines of sound biblical exegesis will indeed find themselves questioning the validity of Scripture, something that Ham notes is happening at an alarming rate within the Church at large regarding the issue of origins.

What origins book would be complete without a discussion of the days of creation, specifically how to understand the Hebrew word yom? Ham does his usual excellent job of outlining the perspicuity of Scripture on this issue and how the word yom when understood within context can mean nothing other than six literal days with no hint of millions of years or long ages to be found. He rightly comments “You will find that all the various compromise positions on Genesis have one thing in common – attempting to fit millions of years into Genesis.” For the evolutionary minded individual, long periods of time are vital to their theory. The reality is that long ages or millions of years are absolutely absent from the Genesis account of creation thus requiring one to insert something into Scripture that does not belong. Interestingly, these same people who play fast and loose with the days of creation affirm a literal three day period of time for Jesus to be laid in the grave even though that context, as well as the context of the creation account, both without a doubt note actual and literal days.

If the opening chapters of Genesis cannot be trusted, one must certainly ask what impact that has on the remainder of Scripture. If we insert death and decay before sin, that damages the biblical message that death and decay are a product of sin and not a product of God’s original perfect creation thus impacting the entire redemption and restoration message found in Scripture. This and many other issues are addressed with great zeal and insight by Ken Ham in this excellent book. I highly recommend this work to all believers as the issue of origins is of vital importance to our understanding of the greater message of Scripture. In an age where compromise positions seem to be the new norm, this book will provide the reader with tools by which to have that needed conversation with those who have succumbed to inserting into Scripture what does not belong, namely an evolutionary based agenda that seeks to erode the foundation of God’s Word in the life of believers and in the Church. Ham’s book is a clarion call to return to Scripture as the foundation for truth.

This book is available for purchase from Answers in Genesis by clicking here.

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