Here's an excerpt from When Your Husband in the Line of Fire:
Here's an excerpt from When Your Husband in the Line of Fire:
My wife, Amanda, and I recently celebrated 25 years of marriage. As I reflect on the past quarter of a century, there are four enduring biblical truths about marriage that stand the test of time. Here they are in an article published by 9Marks for their upcoming journal.
The anti-spanking brigade are not progressing parenting they are impoverishing it. This morning I wrote an article for Christian Today on the catastrophic effects of the loss of biblical spanking and its link to fatherhood. Read it here!
Understanding the Fatherhood of God rightly, and his discipline of his children, is key to recovering biblical fatherhood. Our repugnance at spanking is often because of a wrong view of God, and often because of our own sin. We have fooled ourselves into thinking it is unloving to spank, when truthfully it is because we are unprepared to do the hard thing for the sake of our children's salvation and sanctification.
Fathers who administer wise, biblical, age-appropriate corporal discipline to their children are not anti-gospel, they are loving. They are training their children to know the character of God who hates sin and will punish sinners in Hell. And yet because of his great love and mercy he has provided a Saviour in his Son who became sin for us. Fathers like this are doing the best for their children.
Fathers must take a lead in discipline (Eph. 6:4). Not to spank our children, if needed, is unloving and unbiblical. Our first port of call is not spanking, but if proper warning and instructions are ignored, it is necessary.
For a further treatment of this subject I recommend Andy Naselli's article.
This past weekend saw Calvary Grace, the church where I serve as a pastor, host a conference on The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. We ran a men's pre conference track which featured, Clint Humfrey, Jeff Jones and Terry Stauffer. And Jodi Ware, the wife of Bruce Ware, taught the women's track. Owen Strachan, the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, was our plenary speaker and spoke three times, here, here and here. I also gave a message in one the main sessions.
Never has there been a conference in Canada with this teaching on biblical sexuality from a complementarian worldview. This was pioneer stuff and was well attended and well received.
We believe that the area of biblical sexuality is where the gospel is confronting culture today (see here for an article I recently wrote for Christian Today). We also believe that complementarity should be seen as a worldview. God is a complementarian triune God, who creates a complementarian universe in which men and women fit together in a complementary way, physically and functionally. God has designed it this way for his glory and the flourishing of single men and women, marriages, children and all churches. Our desire is to embrace, promote and publicly confess complementarian manhood, womanhood and marriage.
For further reading and articles go to CBMW.org
Owen Strachan will be speaking at my own Calvary Grace Church of Calgary, at our upcoming conference, The Goodness of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, beginning this Friday 23rd January. Details can be found here.
See the response of Owen Strachan President of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (Matt. 18:15). Matthew 18 speaks as a whole about dealing with sin in the body of Christ. Vv. 1-5 speak about having humility; vv. 6-9 speak of the seriousness of sin and dealing with it violently; vv. 10-14 speak about having compassion for the lost; vv. 15-20 speak about confrontation and church discipline.
- Wise love does not act in revenge (Ro. 12:17-19). It goes the extra mile and shows desire for reconciliation (Matt. 5:38-42), but doesn’t make it easy for someone to sin against you. Therefore, wise love involves others (Matt. 18:15-20) and sometimes even civil authorities (Ro. 13).
- Deal with your heart attitude towards the other person vertically before God: Mk. 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
- Then deal with the horizontalforgiveness. The horizontal dimension is only possible if the offender repents. But even if that person doesn’t repent, the one offended can maintain a forgiving attitude towards that person before God (vertical). The offender’s failure to admit their sin and ask for forgiveness is not an excuse to hold onto anger.
- Saying “I’m sorry” is not the same as, “I was wrong about ______. Please forgive me.” “I’m sorry” usually gets the response “that’s okay”. Firstly, the person has not named their sin. Secondly, sin is never “okay”. Asking someone for forgiveness about the particular sin you have committed also requires the offended person to actually forgive you to complete the transaction. They must make sure they are right before God and not harboring bitterness and they must offer mercy, even as you ask for mercy. That way, both parties are humbled before the cross and God extends grace to both.
A few reasons we don’t forgive:
- When you don’t forgive you say, “I can’t believe that he did that to me. I would never do something that bad.” Like the unforgiving servant, you forget that you have been forgiven infinitely more than you can ever forgive another person.
- There is often great shame in our own sin and it takes time to realize the grace of God’s forgiveness has overcome it. This might be true for you but it may also be true that there is hidden pride, which says:
I don’t want to rely on God’s mercy. I’d rather believe there is some good in me or I can merit forgiveness in some way.
I can’t forgive myself even if God can. You take the place of God, set yourself up as judge and pronounce yourself guilty or innocent.
The joy of forgiveness has grown dim:
- Daily life, with its trials and temptations plus a lack of time spent in communion with God causes the flame in our furnace for God to burn low. We must meditate daily on the gospel and ask the Lord to restore to us the joy of our salvation.
It takes God’s supernatural grace working in us so that we offer and receive forgiveness. To say either, “Will you forgive me?” or “Yes, I forgive you!” is a sign that the Holy Spirit indwells you because Christ absorbed the cost of your sins. When you practice biblical forgiveness, you powerfully express the love of Christ.
My notes are taken from “Forgiving Others: Joining Wisdom and Love” by Tim Lane (New Growth Press).
Reading Biographies: Ann Judson
By: Gavin Peacock
For my last series in reading biographies I choose Ann Judson, the wife of Adoniram; the book, Ann Judson, Missionary Wife by Arabella Stuart.
Adoniram was the first foreign missionary to be sent from America in the early nineteenth century. For a woman to travel as well was considered by many to be absurd, even foolish. But Ann counted the cost and considered it prudent to give away her life in order to gain it. Rarely will one read of a woman who displayed such “biblical beauty, femininity and strength” in the face of unspeakable sufferings on mission to the unreached of Burma. Stuart says,
“Ann’s desire to take the gospel to the unreached was rooted in her own personal call to missions and was realized through her ministry to her husband.” (45)
Note that her call was first from Christ, but her ministry was first to her husband then to the unreached. Physicians attribute her death to the strain of ministering to her husband when he was imprisoned for two years.
“She gave her life for him and the spread of the gospel among the people of Burma” (45).
Ann supported her husband in the field not primarily out of love for the unreached Burmese but out of love for Christ, and a desire to fill up his afflictions for the fame of his name amongst the nations. She was willing to let goods and kindred go, to give up the comforts and social delights of American Christianity and look to a higher treasure and labor for an imperishable reward (Heb. 11:35).
“Ann displayed a feminine strength that is not absurd, but precious in the sight of God. Her devotion to the Lamb and willingness to follow him wherever he led made her radiate his beauty and display his worth” (20).
She was a great example of biblical womanhood.
What is most remarkable about Ann Judson, however, is that she was willing to suffer…alone. Who does not know the agony of suffering alone? Sufferings are hard enough when shared with others, but will test a person’s faith to the maximum when there is no one but Christ to turn to.
She was alone in the missionary call. That she was the first woman to accompany her husband in the mission field was a lonely prospect; the harshness of the climate, social crudities, a lack of female companionship and what would be the loss of two of her three children while she was alive meant that only grace from God would uphold her.
She was alone at sea and abroad. For various reasons Ann spent four years apart from her husband for the cause of the mission work. Her heart ached to be with him. It ached for female companionship. While she was away she received news that three women whom she had in her Burmese Bible class had converted to Christ. Nevertheless, her goal was, “To have a female praying society consisting of those who were once in heathen darkness is what my heart earnestly pants after and makes constant subject of prayer” (26).
She was alone in her death. Ann suffered much from ill health brought on by the stress of the mission and the lifestyle in Burma. She eventually became ill when Adoniram was away. Her last words to her cook were, “I must die alone and leave my little one; but as it is the will of God, I acquiesce in his will. I am not afraid of death but I am afraid I shall not be able to bear these pains. Tell the teacher (i.e. her husband) that the disease was most violent and I could not write; tell him how I suffered and died” (31).
“Yet I am not alone” was her constant refrain. Ann was an ordinary woman with fears and weaknesses just like all of us. But she was a woman able to fall into the earth and die in order to bear much fruit; fruit she wouldn’t see in her lifetime. Why? Because she was motivated by the greater worth of the gospel of Christ, weakened by suffering so that she knew Christ and sustained unto death by her union with the living Christ.
In the words of John Flavel she was “never less alone than when alone”.
Ann Judson, Missionary Wife, Vol. 1 of The Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons,Arabella Stuart, (Corner Pillar Press, 2011)
Reading Biographies: George Mueller
By: Gavin Peacock
The Lord’s instructions are simple. You pray to me and ask. I will supply you with what you need to bring you through. You will praise me. The part we play is to ask for and receive help. The part God plays is to provide in response and receive our praise. The provider gets the praise the receivers get the reward of God’s help.
George Mueller’s life (1805-1898) is a testimony of a man who lived out this text from the beginning to the end of his ministry. His ministry as a preacher extended to serving, loving and teaching over ten thousand orphans with no money or resources apart from the inexhaustible treasury and supply of a Heavenly Father. His ministry spread to the nations in missionary work beginning in his 70’s.
This week I’m recommending A T Pierson’s biography on George Mueller. Pierson knew Mueller personally and he skillfully discerns the biblical principles by which he lived. The book is called “George Mueller of Bristol; His life of Prayer and Faith”. Prayer as the outward expression of inner faith in God is what marked George Mueller.
4 lessons from Mueller for prayer:
- Mueller had a high view of the sovereignty of God so every day his great aim was to get happy in God. One preacher has said that there is prayer with your boots on and prayer with your boots off. Boots-on prayer is workmanlike intercession and supplication for the things promised in scripture. Boots-off prayer is simply seeking pleasure in God for Himself and what he has done in Christ for us; to enjoy him and trust him. We need to get alone with God and happy in God every day! (314-15)
- Mueller sought every supply from God. Because of this high view of the character of a merciful, all-powerful and wise God, he went to him first for every need. Mueller said, “It is written in Job 36:7, ‘He hangeth the earth on nothing’- that is no visible support’”. He then says of his ministry, “It hangs upon no human patron, upon no endowment or funded property, but solely upon the good pleasure of the blessed God” (295). He patiently waited upon the Lord for help in any trial.
Nothing is impossible for God. Don’t judge by what you see. Sometimes we hear about God’s power and sovereignty and go straight out and live in the arm of the flesh. Why would you not go to him if all power and all things are his and he delights to give you what you need according to his Word?
- Mueller read the Bible on his knees. His prayerfulness manifested itself in the practice of reading the Scripture on his knees. The outward posture reflected the inner disposition. This he learned from George Whitefield’s life of desperate dependence upon God to give power to understand the Scriptures for his life and power to apply it to other lives in conversion (138-9). Only through meditative prayer can we grow in Christlike compassion and be used for powerful evangelism!
Note: More than any other books apart from the Bible, Mueller was influenced by three biographies - A. H. Francke, John Newton and George Whitefield; it’s good to read biographies!
- Mueller pleaded the promises of God in prayer. In the style of Abraham and Moses, Mueller built holy arguments in prayer. At one time of great need he piled up eleven reasons from God’s own mouth why he should and would send help (148). Learn how to pray like this!
A T Pierson says, Mueller’s “one supreme aim was the glory of God; his one sole resort, believing prayer; his one trusted oracle, the inspired Word; and his one divine teacher, the Holy Spirit.” (212)
George Mueller died in 1898 having led a prayer meeting the night before. How apt for the man! It was Ps. 50:15. Calling upon God to the end. Delivered through this life into eternal bliss. Glorifying God forever.
George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith, A. T. Pierson, (Kregel, 1999)
Paul’s Spiritual Secret
In all circumstances, good or bad, he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11b). So Paul had joy whatever the circumstance. Then, the apostle says that he has “learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. What’s the secret? In every situation he has learned to rely on the power that comes from Jesus Christ: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). So when we abide daily in our union with Christ and the power of the Spirit, the product is joy, no matter what. This is the secret. Jesus calls it abiding in the Vine – that is, himself (Jn. 15).
That is a daily default position of apprehending the new covenant reality of being a new creation “in Christ”, and then to continually rely upon his work for us and trust his word to keep and guide us. I think this is the hardest thing for Christians to grasp. Satisfaction in Christ alone means that we can have joy in suffering knowing he is working for our good and his glory. We can also have joy in plenty, knowing that it is a gift from him. And better than the gift is the giver himself. This reality needs to be learned. It grows over time and through trials.
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret written by Howard and Geraldine Taylor is the next book I’m recommending in this Reading Biographies series. Taylor was a husband, father, preacher and missionary to China in the 19th century, and the founder of the China Inland Mission. Taylor learned the secret that Paul learned, and it changed and empowered an amazing life spent for God on mission.
Hudson longed for more of Christ, a more experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Who doesn’t want more? In fact, we are commanded to press on to know the Lord (Hos. 6:3) and abound more and more in love (Phil.1: 9). He wrestled with a holy dissatisfaction for Christ. Here’s a taster from the book at the turning point in his spiritual life. Speaking about the impact of a letter from his friend John McCarthy he said, “When the agony of my soul was at its height a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before.” The line read, “ But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith but byresting on the faithful one.”
Taylor remarks, “As I read I saw it all! ‘If we believe not he abideth faithful’ (2 Tim. 2:13). I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that he had said, ‘I will never leave thee’ (Heb. 13:5)” (p.122). Resting in, not striving for union with Christ was the key.
Taylor was influenced by the Keswick Movement, but did not make the mistake of its excesses by searching for experiences of a “higher life” that do not last or the passive approach to holiness that gives birth to a “let go and let God” attitude. His was active rest in Christ, active abiding in the Vine. Here’s the twist though: We struggle often with how to abide more. The secret is resting, trusting and believing that Christ will keep us abiding because we are one with him and he will supply all our needs, especially faith. The overflow of this secret that Taylor learned was personal joy in Christ which drove him to risk all, suffer much, and work harder than any to further the cause of Christ to the nations.
John McArthur says of Taylor, “he lived so much in the presence of Jesus Christ that he began to feel the great heartbeat of Jesus for the lost souls.”
See also John Piper's treatment of the life of Hudson Taylor in the 2014 Desiring God conference on Union with Christ. Note Piper’s careful treatment of the Keswick Movement’s influence on Taylor, and his brilliant illustration of how Taylor rested in Christ (minute 43:20-48:36)
Men and women were created for God’s glory. That’s our ultimate purpose. But what is the glory of God? Listen to John Piper:
“I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we're created in his image, and we're trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.”
In other words, the glory of God is the “going public” of his holiness.
Issues of manhood, womanhood and marriage are key issues in our day because they are primarily about the glory of God. This is crucial to grasp. Many people think that it is important to recover biblical manhood and womanhood because of the breakdown in families and absent fathers and escalating divorce. That’s true, but that’s the horizontal effect. It’s primarily about God’s glory. That’s what makes it so important; it’s a vertical issue.
Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). However, man was created male and female, equal in personhood but different by divine design and different in particular roles. And the purpose is to image forth or “go public” with God’s holiness. As we image forth something about God’s triune holy character specifically as men and as women, we tell the truth about who he is. This is ultimately how we glorify him. When you see your maleness and femaleness tied to the ultimate goal of God’s glory, then the roles have infinite value. As a consequence, the difference in roles is not burdensome but beautiful.
Therefore, biblical manhood and womanhood is a question of holiness because we are created specifically male and female to image forth something of his intrinsic worth in our masculinity and femininity. And when we “go public” in the world and trust God’s vision for us as men and women, then we fulfill our roles and glorify God. As new creations, our manhood and womanhood has been redeemed by Christ and he has equipped us by his Spirit and by the Word and with the church to become the men and women that we were created to be.
What it is to be a man and not a woman, and what it is to be a woman and not a man is tied to the very glory of God.