Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Marriage and Children

Getting married, and having children, takes up a huge amount of your time, money, and mental energy. It is safe to say that your personal resources will take a substantial cut in what is available as “spare”.

There are also a large number of unknowns when you take the plunge into wedded life. You will learn things about yourself and about your spouse which you could not have foreseen. You will struggle through some major issues which threaten to tear your relationship apart.

Your ability to contribute to a church community or ministry will take a huge hit, and your “spirituality” will be exposed as so much weaker than you could ever have imagined.

Yet still, even though you might know all of this before-hand, getting married (and having children) is most definitely a Christian-spiritual thing to do. God-given and God-blessed decisions (marriage is a gift and a blessing from God) and trusting in Him to get you through, to take you to new places, and to bless you more abundantly than you could have thought (but struggling more than you could ever have guessed to do so); this is one of the biggest steps in developing yourself towards a better image of Christ that you can take!

It is well worth it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On a person's bookshelf

Sometimes you can see the work of the spirit in a person's bookshelf.

Perhaps in the way they now organize their books, perhaps in the most recent additions to their collection.

Certain authors hold absolutely no interest for those in whom the Spirit works, and other authors are of no interest for those who are void of the Spirit.

If you see a Carson, a Lloyd-Jones, a Sproul, a Keller, a Piper, and perhaps one day even a Hight, there you will find a bookshelf owner in whom God works to demonstrate His glory!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Struggle for Assurance

At some point on your journey in Christianity, you may come face to face with the possibility that you are not as 'saved' as you thought you were.  I thoroughly recommend this experience. Seriously.

Not everyone who follows Christ will find an agonising experience in working out their state of salvation, but everyone who is saved should consider this at some point (Philippians 2:12, 2Corinthians 13:5).  It is how you respond to this challenge to your 'faith' which speaks the most about your spiritual condition.

Some will shrug off these feelings casually, or by the power of their will ignore them.  Others will not be able to rest until they have an answer; and if it is nay, they will not rest until they have found salvation.

If you are struggling with assurance that you are Christ's and he is yours, take the time to pray to God for help.  Then reflect on your walk so far, and consider what the scriptures say about those who are saved.  The book of 1 John was written for this purpose, for you to know the truth of your position.  Read it, and search the scriptures ceaselessly, until you have an abiding assurance.

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:13

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Outward and the Inward Person

The spiritual person is not different on the inside compared to the outside. The actions they do come forth from their changed being who resides within.

Whether you call this inner being the heart or the mind, it can be identified by your thoughts. Do your thoughts run to hate, but outwardly you practice kindness and love? Are your eyes drawn to lust and your mind entertains impure thoughts, but you would never act on your fantasies?

God knows your heart, your mind, and he can see your thoughts and intentions as easily as you can read these words. Easier even. He can see when your outward actions are really just a cover for the rot that resides within.

Strive for purity of mind and heart as well as purity of deed. Nothing can be hidden from your King, and nothing should be. He is the one to confess to and to seek help to improve. Seek Him in the privacy of your mind so that your heart and mind are redeemed by displacing the sin that you might find.

"Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter." - Ecclesiastes 10:20

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Accountability and Humility

For a long time I thought that accountability practices were a waste of time.  Who needs an accountability partner when we should all be accountable to God?  After all, you can lie to an accountability partner but you can't lie to God, and God is more forgiving than any accountability partner could ever be!


While I still agree that it is good to be so aware of God's presence in your life that you don't want to sin because to do so would be to sin in His sight; it is a misunderstanding of the purpose of accountability to take this view.  It's also not very humble, because it assumes that you can actually manage to keep this ideal all the time, and that you know your own heart well enough to keep it under control.


Here's a few points for considering accountability: 

  1. You're not perfect, and you can't always see your own mistakes, so someone looking in from the outside can be a help to you.  They can see where you are blind.  Scary though this is, if it's done with trust, you can only become a better person.

  2. Accountability is not about "checking up" on each other, but about building one another up.  Instead of approaching it as a way to list your sins to each other, leading to negative reinforcement of that behaviour, approach it as a strategy development session on how to better overcome sin and its power over you.  Avoid grading yourself which is an end-point summary, and discuss your implementation of strategy with a view to improve instead - that is a life-long ongoing process.

  3. It will be hard, because you are facing your darkest self and opening that up to another, but it is worth the effort.

  4. Marriage should be the ultimate accountability that you have with another person.  It is the most open relationship that you can ever have, excepting that which you have with God.

  5. Different groups which you associate with will be able to feed back to you different information about yourself.  This means that you shouldn't limit accountability to just one relationship.  In fact, every relationship and human interaction carries a measure of feedback to inform us how to improve.  If we watch those around us, and gauge their reaction to us, we will never be short of information to act and improve ourselves with.


And remember, it's all about God's glory.  If we fail to be the best that we can be, if we fail to use accountability relationships, then we fail to do our part to improve ourselves to the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord - the One who we represent on earth.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What does it mean to prosper as a Christian?

Psalm One mentions that the Christian is someone who will prosper in all that he does.  What does this mean?  Does this mean that the Christian should be rich, with money to spare, not a financial care in the world?


Clearly not, otherwise many New Testament saints would have done much better than they did.  Paul the Apostle describes the poor saints in Jerusalem who required charity.  This did not make these, who were less physically prosperous, any less Christians.


So what does the scripture mean when it speaks of the Christian prospering in this psalm?  Well, just to confuse the issue a little, I don't think that financial prosperity is ruled out.  Whatever the Christian puts his hand to, this he will prosper at.  Consider the second verse of the psalm: "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night".  With such wisdom behind his decisions, no man shall fail to succeed at whatever he puts his hand to doing.  Indeed, whatever he puts his hand to doing will be a wise choice, matching his God-given strengths and gifts.


Whether it be bringing up children as godly, financial planning for future security of your family, teaching young adults a reasoned view for the existence of God, or caring for your elderly parents; all of these things will propser at your hand.  If, that is, you seek God's wisdom and His will.  


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Don't do it alone! (You can't anyway)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" - Psalm 127:1


Whatever you set out to do, whatever you set out to achieve, whatever you aim to accomplish - it will be a vain effort unless God is with you.


Two reasons why this is so:

Firstly, God is the power behind everything - supporting and upholding it. He is in control of the many interactions and "chance" factors which could cause it to remain strong or to tumble, brokenly. If He doesn't provide for something to happen, it won't happen.

Secondly, God's will is absolute. If you go against His will then you will fail. That's not really in this text, but it is true of any endeavour we set out upon.


What does that mean for the Christian who seeks to be spiritual in everything they do? It means they will seek God's will in everything - learning the scriptures diligently, and reflecting on their life's experiences to interpret those experiences through God's words. It means that everything they do will be attempted under the cover of much prayer for God's help, both in wisdom of decisions and in upholding and producing the fruit of any effort.


If you are leading a family, you will lead in vain unless you seek God's will for your family and ask Him to make your choices and efforts fruitful. Business owners, students, mothers, teachers, pastors, missionaries, politicians, doctors, nations, governments... all need Him.