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Tim Challies

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March 29, 2015

William Struthers’ book Wired for Intimacy made quite an impact when it was released in 2009. Struthers went deep into the human brain to show that God has hard-wired us for intimacy and relationships, and to show that pornography has disrupted the brain’s circuitry in dark and dangerous ways. He spoke about other matters as well, and one that still remains important to me is his discussion of the unique importance of the masculine voice. He distinguishes between the masculine and the feminine voice and insists that both play crucial and unique functions in relationships.

The voice of the masculine speaks to affirm. All children are carried and primarily nourished by the mother. Daughters and sons first know their mother as she carries them, delivers them into the world and then is their primary source of nourishment. In many ways the child moves from becoming an extension of the mother to their own person. All children, both boys and girls, develop their own sense of identity as they separate from their mother. For boys, this process is fairly straightforward. What makes them different from their mothers is fairly easy to see: their bodies.

Both young boys and young girls need to hear from both the feminine and the masculine voice. These voices can be spoken by both mothers and fathers. A father is not incapable of nurturing because he is a man, neither is a mother incapable of affirming because she is a woman. But the masculine voice alone speaking both affirmation and nurture is not enough. The feminine voice speaking both nurture and affirmation is not enough.

Does this mean that a child who grows up in a house where one of their parents is not present is doomed to a life of truncated emotional, psychological and spiritual development? Not if there is a male presence other than the father that is able to come in and act as a surrogate for those children. Boys and girls both need a masculine voice in their life that encourages, affirms, challenges, enables and stretches them. In an ideal set of circumstances both mother and father are present in the raising of a child. Both the masculine and the feminine speak to nurture, protect and grow, albeit in different ways.

There is something special about the affirming voice of the masculine father. This voice of affirmation is not just needed for young men, but also for young women. While it may be true that “only a father can tell a boy when he is a man” (and worthy to stand among his peers), it is also true that the father’s affirmation of a daughter’s worth speaks into her being in a way that others do not. … The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a man lets him know that he is worthy to stand in the company of his peers; he is loved because of who he is. The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a woman lets her know that she is loved because of who she is and that she is worthy of pursuit.

When a boy realizes that he is other than his mother (his body is different and she acknowledges that he is different), who is it that tells him who he is, what he is to do, what he will become? His father. The father, the masculine voice, acts to inform, equip, instruct and model. In the absence of this voice, which at its best is loving, trustworthy and affirming, a boy is forced to look for whatever is available to discover who he is. He may look to his mother for instruction, and she rightly has much to say on the matter, her guidance on how a man should relate comes from a female perspective. He may look to another male figure in his life; a grandfather, uncle, elder brother or the media.

The masculine voice is received as a voice that speaks unchanging truth. Just as we think of the Word of God being truth that is unchanging, so a man’s words speak to what he knows to be true. The Promise Keepers movement of the 1990s hit this nail on the head. When a man makes a promise, he is honor bound to keep it because his word is who he is. The degree to which a man keeps his word is the measure of his integrity and honor. When the masculine voice affirms, it says, “It is good.” It doesn’t say, “It is okay now, but it might not be later.” The affirming nature of God is evidenced in the first chapter of Genesis after the many acts of creation. God “saw that it was good.”

March 28, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals: Jesus Unmasked by Todd Friel ($4.49); Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason ($2.99); Understanding World Religions by George Braswell ($0.99); Ordinary by Tony Merida ($4.99).

How Can Hummingbirds Hover So Well? That’s a questions scientists have wrestled with for a long time.

Gene Veith writes about Who the Unchurched Really Are. “Can it be that American Christianity, with roots in this culture, has become so prosperous and middle class that it would rather not deal with people from this social class?”

Richard Phillips answers this question: Why Are There So Many Singles? “Why does it seem that God withholds marriage for so many when he clearly upholds it, encourages it, desires it, etc.?  Why are there so many singles who want marriage but don’t seem to find it?”

It really is that simple: We Complain Because We Forget.

I appreciate these 10 Pointers for Untrained Preachers.

Thanks to Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions for sponsoring the blog this week with their article Short-Term Missions: Redefining Success.

The true test of our worldview is what we find entertaining. —Albert Mohler

Mohler

March 27, 2015

It’s time for another Free Stuff Fridays. This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Crossway, and they are offering a family pack, of sorts. There will be 5 winners and each of them will receive the following 3 books:

  • FurmanThe Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love by Gloria Furman. “In this encouraging and often humorous book, Gloria Furman offers pastors’ wives a breath of fresh air, reminding readers that Christ stands ready to help regardless of the circumstance—whether it’s late-night counseling sessions, unrealistic expectations about how they spend their time, or complaints about their husbands’ preaching. Filled with life-giving truth from God’s Word, this book will help pastors’ wives joyfully treasure their Savior, love their husbands, and serve their churches.”
  • Dangerous CallingDangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp. After traveling the globe and speaking to thousands of churches worldwide, Paul David Tripp has discovered a serious problem within pastoral culture. Dangerous Calling reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy—an environment that actively undermines the well-being and effectiveness of our church leaders and thus the entire church body. Here is a book that both diagnoses and offers cures for issues that impact every member and church leader, and gives solid strategies for fighting the all-important war that rages in our churches today.”
  • A Loving LifeA Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul Miller. “How do you love with no love in return? How do you love when no one notices or cares? Best-selling author Paul Miller tackles these tough questions at the heart of our struggle to love head-on. Drawing from the book of Ruth, A Loving Life offers the help we need to embrace relationship, endure rejection, cultivate community, and reach out to even the most unlovable around us as we discover the power to live a loving life.”

Enter the Draw

All you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

March 27, 2015

The very heart of the human condition is a faulty assessment of self. We think too much of ourselves, and think of ourselves too much. We overrate our importance and underestimate our depravity. Ultimately, we elevate ourselves to the place reserved for God.

In the face of such insanity, we need to know who we really are. We need to have a right assessment of self.

Who am I? It is a question we have all asked at one time or another, at least in one of its variations. And every man has his own answer. Every philosophy and every religion has its own response.

Most of them tell me to look inside. I am told to look within, to search myself for the truth, to search myself for my own identity. But I never seem to find it. I can’t quite seem to pin it down. The mere conviction that I can find answers within stands as proof of my faulty self-assessment. The simple fact is that I cannot know myself as I really am. I am too blind to see myself, too far gone to find myself.

Here is what I have learned: To know myself, I need to look outside of myself. My best assessment of self does not come from within but from without. It does not originate with me but with God.

The Bible is an inestimable treasure because of what it teaches me about God, but it is equally valuable for what it teaches me about me. It does not reveal only the truth about deity, but also about humanity.

If I want to know who I am, if I want to know why I exist, if I want to know where I’ve gone wrong, if I want to know my deepest meaning and purpose, if I want to properly assess myself, I need to look outside myself. I cannot know these things apart from God speaking through his Word. The Bible is different from every other book in this way: Where I read all those other books, the Bible reads me.*

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

The Bible searches me and tells me where I have erred. It examines me and tells me what I need. It tries me and evaluates my every thought and attitude. Ultimately, it reads me and tells me who I am.

Who am I? I will never know until I open the Bible and ask.

*I think I have heard that phrase, or a similar one, attributed to R.C. Sproul, but I wasn’t able to track it down.

Image credit: Shutterstock

March 27, 2015

30 Years of Ministry - Mark Altrogge shares some of the lessons he has learned in 30+ years of pastoral ministry. I think the 2nd lesson is my favorite.

10 Chapter Books for Dads to Read to Their Kids - Looking for books to read out loud? Here are some options. (If your kids love to read, or you love to read to them, Redeemed Reader is a great site to bookmark.)

Biblical Grounds for Divorce - This article outlines a very traditional (and I think biblical) view of when divorce is permissible.

5 Reasons Your Church Should Be Smaller - I know it counters the Western mindset, but it’s true: Bigger is not always better.

Parenting in a Hyper-Sexualized Culture - Heath Lambert explains how he and his wife are raising their children in this hyper-sexualized culture. (I am not as committed to the discussion of modesty as he is, but I do understand why and how he uses the concept.)

Locking Out the Pilot - Here’s an answer to the question we are all asking: How is it possible to lock a pilot out of his cockpit? The answer is 9/11.

You must either give up your sins or give up all hope of heaven. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

March 26, 2015

Pray without ceasing,” Paul says. Simple words, but a seemingly impossible challenge. How can you be expected to pray all the time? In chapter 54 of their work A Puritan Theology, Joel Beeke and Mark Jones dive deep into Matthew Henry’s great book A Method for Prayer to distil what he says about the importance of praying through all of life’s circumstances. As it turns out, there is no great trick to it. What follows is at times transcribed and at times adapted from A Puritan Theology.

Begin Every Day with God

Henry writes, “It is our wisdom and duty to begin every day with God.” You always have something to talk to God about. He is a dear friend, so it is a pleasure to know him personally and to walk with him intimately. He is also Lord over you and over everything that touches your life. Shall a servant not talk to his master? Shall a dependent not talk to his provider? Shall one in danger not converse with his defender?

Let no obstacle hinder you from coming to God. Though God is in heaven, he will hear your cries from the depths. Though God be fearsome, he grants believers the Spirit of adoption to have freedom with him. Yes, God already knows what you need, but he requires your prayers for his glory and to fit you to receive mercy. Though you are busy with many things, only one thing is necessary: To walk with God in peace and love. So for that reason you ought to begin each day with God.

Why should you dedicate morning hours to God? Because God deserves your best and not just the day’s leftovers when you are tired and worn. For many or most of us, the best hours are the earliest hours. Not only that but, as Henry wrote, “In the morning we are most free from company and business, so we should give him fresh thanksgivings and fresh meditations on his beauties. In the morning as we prepare for the work of the day, let us commit it all to God.” Begin every day with him, and give him the best part of your day.

Spend Every Day With God

You need to begin the day with God, but you also need to spend the day with God. In his explanation of Psalm 25:5 (“for you I wait all the day long”) Henry explains that this involves a patient expectation of God to come at his time, and it involves a constant attendance upon the Lord in the duties of personal worship.

The Christian’s constant attendance upon God throughout the day is captured in the phrase “to wait upon the Lord.” Henry said, “To wait upon God is to live a life of desire towards him, delight in him, dependence on him, and devotedness to him.” Constant dependence is the attitude of a child toward his father in whom he trusts and on whom he casts all of his cares. This waiting on the Lord is something you can do every day, and not just the days you gather for public worship. You do it in private worship, in family worship, and in corporate worship.

Wherever you go or whatever you do each day, search for abundant reasons for prayer and praise. As James wrote, if you are sad, then pray to God; if you are happy, then sing praises to God (James 5:13). That covers all of life.

Close Every Day with God

Just as you begin your days with God, and spend your days with God, you should also close your days with God. Henry insists that you may end each day in contentment only because you have the Lord as our God. “Let this still every storm, command and create a calm in thy soul. Having God to be our God in covenant, we have enough; we have all. And though the gracious soul still desires more of God, it never desires more than God; in him it reposeth itself with a perfect complacency; in him it is at home, it is at rest.”

When you lay down to rest at night, Henry advises you to lie down with thanksgiving to God. You should briefly review his mercies and deliverances at the end of each day. “Every bit we eat, and every drop we drink, is mercy; every step we take, and every breath we draw, mercy.” You should be thankful for nighttime as God’s provision for your rest, for a place to lay your head, and for the healthy of body and peace of mind which allows you to sleep. You can lay down and sleep in peace, resting your soul upon the intercession of Christ to grant you peace with God, and forgiving your fellow men of all their offenses against you so that your heart may be at peace with God and man.

Begin the day with God. Spend the day with God. Close the day with God. “This life of communion with God, and constant attendance upon him, is a heaven upon earth.” Indeed.

Image credit: Shutterstock

March 26, 2015

Here are just a few new Kindle deals: When Missions Shapes the Mission by David Horner ($0.99); Manhood Restored by Eric Mason ($2.99); Holman Concise Bible Dictionary ($0.99).

Dating a Non-Virgin - Richard Phillips offers wise counsel in dealing with the dark side of the chastity industry.

How Many Stars Are There? - Enough that every couple of weeks there is a new YouTube video that tries to wrap our minds around it.

Christians, You Will Suffer - “If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity. The Bible is filled with the suffering of those whom God loves.”

Lifeway Pulls Heaven Tourism Books - This is great news: LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all “experiential testimonies about heaven…”

ERLC Leadership Summit - ERLC’s leadership summit on racial reconciliation begins today; you can watch it live at the link.

Sing Your Heart Out - “The messiness of congregational singing is part of the beauty of God using weak and broken people. While we certainly want to strive for excellence in how we sing to our God, the sound of a child singing extremely loudly or, even at times, out of key, is a sweet sound that brings God great glory.”

Unreached peoples are unreached for a reason. They’re hard, difficult, and dangerous to reach. All the easy ones are taken. —David Platt

Platt

March 25, 2015

Earlier this month Crossway announced that they are considering March Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month, and this on the occasion of Gloria Furman’s new book The Pastor’s Wife. To mark the month they have offered blog articles and video interviews featuring wives of well-known pastors, and many of these articles have been very helpful. You can find the list right here.

To this point, the bulk of the articles have focused on the struggles that can come to the pastor’s wife: the hurt, the expectations, the difficulty in making friends, and so on. Since I am married to a pastor’s wife, I can attest that these are real issues. But Aileen and I put our heads together and would like to offer an article that looks at the pastor’s wife from an alternate angle: the privilege of it. Because despite the difficulties, the pastor’s wife does experience some unique privileges. We have written this little article with the pastor’s wife in mind in the hope that it will encourage her.

(Note: It is always dangerous to speak very broadly, but for the purposes of this article we will assume that this pastor and his wife attend a good church that takes seriously the biblical qualifications for a pastor.)

Here are 6 privileges of the pastor’s wife.

She Is Married To a Godly Man

If this pastor and his wife attend a church that loves the Bible and that honors the qualifications of a pastor, then the pastor’s wife is necessarily married to a godly man. In fact, she is married to a man who exemplifies godliness. This is not to say that her husband is perfect, of course, but it does give her the privilege of being married to a man who can be put before the congregation as one who lives a life that is above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2). With so few men called and qualified to the office, she enjoys a rare but noteworthy privilege.

She Is a Godly Woman

There is no biblical office of the pastors’ wife, and neither is there a specific list of qualifications for a pastor’s wife. However, it is clear that a man cannot be qualified to the office apart from his wife. Unless she is willing and unless she is godly, he simply cannot be a pastor. And so the church’s affirmation of a man to the office of pastor is an affirmation of his wife’s godliness and spiritual maturity. She has the privilege of having the church agree that she is godly and mature, and will only help, not hinder, the work of her husband.

She Has a Good Marriage

The pastor’s wife is not only married to a good man, but she also enjoys a good marriage with her man. His life is worthy of imitation, and so too is his marriage. After all, the Bible says that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2) and that he “must manage his own household well” (1 Timothy 3:4). These qualifications, when filled out, indicate a man who loves and treasures his wife, and who leads her as Christ leads the church. His marriage to his wife testifies to the church that he is capable of leading and loving his congregation.

Her Husband Nurtures His Children

An elder must be a man who raises his children to be submissive (1 Timothy 3:4) and whose children are not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination (Titus 1:6). This indicates a father who is involved with the care and spiritual nurture of his children. The pastor’s wife will play a critical role, of course. But this qualifier indicates that the father takes an active interest in his children and raises them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. She enjoys the privilege of a husband who loves and nurtures their children.

She Is Admired

A pastor is to live above reproach and to live worthy of imitation so that he serves as a model of godliness. Do you want to know what it means to live the Christian life? Look to your pastor and live like your pastor! It is little wonder, then, that he is admired and worthy of the honor given to him. And it is little wonder that his wife is admired as well, because he is not qualified to the office apart from her, but through and because of her. In this way she is admired by the church community and she, too, is held up as a model of godliness.

She Is Married to a Respectable Man

Finally, the pastor’s wife has the privilege of being married to a respectable man. There are some vocations that command a degree of respect in the wider community, and the pastors’ wife is privileged to count her husband among them. In fact, the Bible demands that he be thought well of by outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7) so that he is both known and admired in the wider community. The pastor’s wife is married to a man who is an involved and upstanding member of the community where no one thinks evil of his life or character. She feels no shame when she interacts in the community, because her husband is a respectable man.

The pastor’s wife has a unique calling, and one that comes with particular challenges. But it is also one that comes with considerable privileges. So, pastor’s wife, we honor you, and we thank God for the privileges you enjoy.

Image credit: Shutterstock