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Slow Down

In the opening lines of his article on silence and solitude, Don Whitney wrote,

There is something both appealing and transforming about silence and solitude. Other than Jesus Christ, perhaps the greatest men under each Covenant–Moses and the Apostle Paul–were both transformed through years of virtual isolation in a remote wilderness. And there are moments in our pressure-cooker lives when years of escape to some hidden place sounds wistfully compelling to the Christian spirit.

My conscience bears witness to the wistful compelling of retreat, and yet I find it quite difficult to commit intellectually and even more difficult to submit to the appealing prompting practically.

Virtually every influence from my everyday world is encouraging a different message of faster, better, more efficient, and faster and faster.

I am realizing that I am not living in a neutral world with neutral influence.

As long as I am doing nothing, I am losing.

And the irony is that in this losing, my world will likely spur me on as if I am winning, only perpetuating the problem.  The approval of my context resonates with my flesh, sending me further down the drain, spinning, spinning.

But at least I’m spinning faster and faster.  Argh.

I’m ready to fight for inefficiency and slow down.

I want to remember the look in my wife’s eyes on our 5th anniversary and the silent rhythm of my sons breath as we watch the sunset over the blue grass.

My commitment to being committed to the moment means I’ll probably miss your text message and status update, and I’ll be behind on the micro news and won’t “know it all.”

And I can’t wait.

I’m ready to do less, more.

Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Would you pray for me?

In prayers for grace and faith, we can rest assured that our Father hears and answers a hearty yes and amen (John 14:12-14).

The means might surprise us, however.

John Newton put it well,

I asked the Lord, that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of His salvation know,

And seek more earnestly His face.

 

I hoped that in some favoured hour

At once He’d answer my request,

And by His love’s contraining power

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

 

Instead of this, He made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart;

And let the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

 

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe;

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

 

“Lord, whis is this?” I trembling cried,

“Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?”

” ‘Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,

“I answer prayer for grace and faith.

 

“These inward trials I employ

From self and pride to set thee free;

And break they schemes of earthly joy,

That thou may’st seek thy all in me.”

How often do you pray with a fervent and humble heart, open to the end and the means, whatever our wise, good, sovereign God would will?

Act Manfully: Talking Openly

“One very simple thing we want to do is encourage people in our congregation to talk about evangelism. It seems like Christians feel awkward talking about that. Talk about evangelism openly. Talk about evangelism with your non-Christian friends. Be open about what you are doing.”  (Mark Dever)

Mark goes on to say that some of his best evangelistic conversations with non-Christians have been conversations about evangelism.  Non-Christians know what you’re doing when you try to share the gospel with them. Mark says that he will often plainly tell the person: You know I’m a Christian, and that I think the gospel is the greatest and most significant news.  Is there any particular way I can talk about it with you that would be most helpful for you? 

The success of evangelism is not measured by the response of the hearer; that is, by whether the person repents of his sin and places his faith in Christ for his salvation.  Rather, it is measured by the faithfulness of sharing the gospel.  If you are talking openly about sin and the Savior, you are successfully performing your role as God’s tool. 

A definition is helpful here:

Q: What is “evangelism?”

A: “Evangelism is a word used to describe the different ways God uses us, along with His Word and Spirit, to transform unbelievers into people whose great delight in life is to know and trust in him. Therefore, under God, our goal in evangelism is to be his instruments in creating new people who delight in God through Jesus Christ and who thus bring us great joy.” (John Piper)

Men, talk openly about the gospel (the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes), and work with all His strength to see people regenerated and renewed.

Ash & I saw a tiny heart beating last Wednesday and today, the heartbeat was gone.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28

I don’t know the exact good that God is intending through this horrific event, I don’t need to know the details of the good that God is doing through the death of my child to trust Him, and I don’t deserve to know how God is working for good through this miscarriage.

But here are a few good things that already have resulted from God stopping my child’s heart:

Humility.

There are few times in my life when I have felt more dependent than when I scoured the sonogram screen for any movement, and saw none.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

Compassion.

Specifically, I do not think that somebody has to experience something in order to be compassionate with those going through that experience, but I am much more compassionate today for those who have lost their children (born and unborn) than I was yesterday.

In general, I am more sensitive today than yesterday, resulting in a habitual prayer being answered: for more compassion.

Selfishness.

God has used the past couple of days to shed light on the brokenness still of my pride-filled, selfish heart, especially as it relates to my entitlement regarding sleep, time, and life.

Weep with those who weep.

I have experienced first hand a fulfillment of the command to weep with those who weep.  There have been a number of brothers and sisters in Jesus who have wept with Ash & I over the phone, in person, and in prayer.  What a beautiful, humbling lesson to learn and experience first hand in this broken world.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Rom 12:15

Gratitude.

I am more grateful for my boys today than I was yesterday.  I am more grateful for Ash today than I was yesterday.  I am more grateful for my own life today than yesterday.

“The Spirit of Christ draws us toward gratitude because the Spirit convicts us of our creatureliness. We’re dependent on breath, on bread, on love, and these things come, personally, as gifts from a Father (Jas. 1:17).

Is there anything in your life that you’ve grown accustomed to?  Is there something you prayed for, fervently, in pleading in its absence that you haven’t prayed for, fervently, in thanksgiving in its presence?  There’s several such things in my life, and, I fear, many more that I don’t even think about.”  Russell Moore, “Why I’m Ungrateful

I’m sure that there is more.  I won’t be surprised if God continues to reveal the good that he is bringing from this painful situation.

I have cried, doubted, thought, sat in confusion, been numb, and prayed fervently over the past couple of days…and I’m sure these things will continue.  But I pray that even sitting down to write about what God has done and is doing will be a means by which He sustains my faith in this tough time.

“Rather than run from the inevitability of life’s tragedies, we are invited to face them, head-on, with hope.  We can even begin to call things what they are – rather than what we wish them to be.  A theology of the cross might seem brutal and ugly to those coasting through life.  But to the compulsive, hurting, sin-sick sufferer, the cross is a beacon of hope and rest like no other.  Scratch that – the man hanging on the cross is a beacon of hope and rest like no other.”  Tullian Tchividjian, “Glorius Ruin” (170)

Please pray for us in this time as we return to the ground to worship (Job 1:20).

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22.6)

Training children is difficult.  Foolishness is bound up in their hearts. (22.15)  Don’t be fooled by their unbelievable cuteness.  Don’t be fooled by the incredible affection you have for them.  Their hearts are riddled with the life-sucking, poison of foolishness.

Therefore, chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.  (19.18)  There is more hope for training a young boy than there is for breaking the rebellious will of a teenage boy-man.  Use your shaping influences, namely the rod and rebuke, while he is green and flexible.

The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (29.15)  Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.  (29.17). 

Whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.  (3.12)  There is no lack of love in the act of correction.  There is hardly anything like love in a father’s selfish neglect, passive permissiveness, or abusive, anger-driven retaliation. 

The Bible reminds us, men, of these Proverbs from God so that we are encouraged to love our children well.  It is much easier to overlook our children’s sin and sinful nature.  But it’s not biblical.  Be zealous in the accuracy of your “Heavenly Father”-representation to your children.

This is the promise of the Christian life:

suffering today … glory tomorrow

Standard procedure for self-justification: attack.

If you want to be godly, you don’t have to try to make enemies.

When you have enemies persecuting and slandering you, you are called to rejoice.

This is hard to comprehend, but Jesus tells us this is the case.

Please listen to this sermon on suffering by J. Piper.

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” -2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matthew 5:11-12 (ESV)

Jesus, the one who was reviled and persecuted and spoken of falsely of to the point of being murdered more unjustly to an infinite degree than any other persecution in history, says – in the midst of your intense discomfort, rejoice … you are sharing in my sufferings; you will share in my glory.

He is not downplaying the pain and hurt and sorrow associated with suffering.

Rather, he is exalting the power of his blood, the power of his Spirit, the power of the gospel, the hope of future glory.

Your hope is not in this life, your name, your status, your legacy…your hope is in a bloody cross and an empty tomb.

So when reviled, we do not revile in return, instead we love and pray for those who will one day receive the full wrath of God if they continue to place their faith in anything or anybody other than Jesus.

God is the righteous judge with every perfect precept – let us trust him to make everything right in his time.

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Men,

How would you answer your son if he asked, “How do we know there is a God?”  or “How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?” or “What is prayer?”

Do you have clear answers on hand?  Are they supported by Scripture?

Please click this link, and more importantly download the PDF at the bottom of the post.  Learn and Teach Well.

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