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Funerals are for the Living

Attending my elderly neighbor’s funeral yesterday, the Lord impressed upon me again something I have been thinking about lately. As others have noted, funerals are really for the living, not the dead.

Certainly funerals, by their very nature, remember the dead. Yet the purpose of a Christian funeral is to give place for those still living and who are connected to the deceased to do the remembering, to grieve, and to hear the hope of the gospel. Thankfully, the funeral I attended yesterday did just that.

Providentially, the Lord prepared me beforehand to attend the funeral. Pastor Ed Blackwood, Director of Admissions and Student Services at RPTS, preached a wonderful chapel message yesterday morning on Abraham’s burial of his wife Sarah. The Lord used Ed’s Biblical insights and pastoral experience in a great way with students and faculty alike. Watch this brief message below for encouragement on how we should think about life, death, and funerals.

Fathers, Avoid Exasperating Your Children

Recently in class, I was reminding pastoral students that they learn to shepherd a congregation, and show they are qualified for it, by caring for their own families (I Tim. 3:4-5; Tit. 1:6). As fathers, one of the Scriptural duties we have toward that end is not to provoke our children to anger. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3:21).

What are some of the ways fathers fail in this area? Here are at least six provocations to avoid.

Neglect of time and attention. Babies are born attention-getters, with parents devoting day and night to their care. As they develop into young children, they keep asking for attention. They ask a thousand questions, and want the parent’s approval, confirmation, and affirmation for every little thing they do. By nature, the nurturing mother provides a great deal of this attention primarily (though not exclusively) in the earlier years. Yet as the child ages, there is an increasing need for attention from the father. Without diminishing the mother’s role, teenagers and young adults need the guidance and wisdom their fathers are to bring to them. The Book of Proverbs illustrates this truth for us, as it is […]

3GT Episode 53: Plants & Pillars

In this episode, 3GT becomes 3DT – Three Dads Theologizing!

For Aaron read Psalm 144 and, boy, is he full of questions! First, he wants to know why daughters are described as palace pillars and sons as productive plants in Psalm 144. Then he wants to know how to raise them this way. Then he wants to know whether this description speaks to gender issues. Then he really wants to know how to see the blessing of this psalm in his children’s lives. Simply put, Aaron wants to know!

Do you? Then listen along as the 3DTers meditate together on this psalm!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/3gt-episode-53.mp3

Download

You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

The Half-Way Covenant & Whole-Hearted Youth Ministry

Baptists and Presbyterians can agree regarding one application of child baptism in church history. What was known as the Half-way Covenant was a bad idea. Yet from it we can gain a valuable lesson regarding the church’s gospel duty to young people.

Jonathan Edwards was the pastor during colonial America to the Congregational church in Northampton, Massachusetts. His preaching in the mid-1700’s was one of the means God used to create the Great Awakening, where multitudes of people turned to the Lord. Yet in the midst of this great fruitfulness, a difficulty arose prompted by a practice in the church established by Edwards’ grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, who preceded Edwards as the minister in Northampton.

Children had been baptized in the Northampton congregation, grown up, and had not clearly professed Christ. Yet their names were left on the roll as baptized members. Then they began to have children. Stodddard, in the hope of influencing this later generation with the gospel, allowed the grandchildren of believing members to be baptized. In response, since church membership at the time was socially desirable, many parents who did not have saving faith in Christ readily agreed to have their children baptized. This Half-way Covenant, as it came […]

Browse Worthy: The Nashville Statement

Nashville Statement | Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood issued a declaration consisting of fourteen articles addressing the gender and marriage issues of our day. Called the Nashville Statement, it was originally signed by a group of influential evangelical and Reformed men and women. You may have seen that it is receiving a great deal of attention.  Here are some interesting perspectives as you consider not only what it says, but its tone, purpose, and effectiveness.

Rosaria Butterfield | Why I Signed the Nashville Statement

The author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert explains why she believed it was important that she sign this document. She highlights the need for the church to continue to speak prophetically in our age.

Al Mohler | I signed the Nashville Statement. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people.

The president of Southern Baptist Seminary explains the intent of the document is to offer clarity in an age of confusion. With counter declarations like the Denver Statement already being made, Mohler reminds the church of the cultural divide it faces and urges it to rally around Biblical truth.

Rod Dreher | Is the Nashville Statement a Surrender?

The promoter of the Benedict Option, Dreher […]

Browse Worthy: David Powlison on the Sexually Broken

The Crossway blog site recently published a series of four articles highlighting truths found in David Powlison’s new book Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken. Powlison, the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, writes with a biblical directness, captivating illustrations, and compassionate tone on this subject. Just the title of the articles, as seen below, will draw you into the subject, and the content is very helpful and hopeful. After reading them, my wife and I decided to purchase a few copies of the book so we can read it to help us minister to others and to even give to others.

You may want to do the same after reading them yourself.

An Open Letter to Those Debilitated by Their Sexual Sin
Sanctification Is a Direction
Is Sexual Renewal a Simple or Complex Process?
An Open Letter to Those Nonchalant about Their Sexual Sin

 

Motherly Grief

The following piece is the sad companion to one I wrote a number of years ago entitled “Fatherly Grief“.

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Lying next to me, I know that
Her restlessness comes most
Acutely
In the middle of the night.
The pillow beneath her head and her body move
Gently in rhythm with the quiet
Sobs
And questioning supplications.

Augustine eventually said,
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is
Restless
Until it finds its rest in thee.”
Did Monica then pray beforehand,
“Thou hast made him through me, O Lord, and my heart will be
Restless
Until he finds his rest in thee”?

I witnessed the awe of birth, and its ending;
The cutting of the binding cord that gave
Life,
When mother’s blood was child’s own.
But, no matter the number of yearly remembrances,
An unseen tie still remains, wishing
Life
For the child needing another birth.

O, what awful pain some mothers endure when
They stand by a child’s grave! The unnatural
Reversal
Bringing unbearable grief, unimaginable grief.
Do promise and time truly help? Does knowing a child is
Living though dead help dull the ache, ever
Reverse
Unending waves of sorrow and loss?

The book of wisdom speaks of a similar
Grief other mothers must bear; of a child living yet
Dead,
Not caring that earthly pleasure brings endless pain elsewhere.
This maternal distress does not diminish, each passing day
Sending […]

What’s a Hurting Wife To Do?

Following Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s article “A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce” here on Gentle Reformation, and with the internet abuzz with Australian reporter Julia Baird’s hit piece on the church regarding abuse that has produced such responses as “An Open Letter to Husbands Who Abuse Their Wives” at TGC, a question has been raised. What is the proper response of a Christian wife who finds herself facing a sexually immoral or abusive husband?

Though the types of situations a wife may encounter can vary greatly, meaning there is no simple blanket answer to this question, certain Biblical principles and options can be pursued. My wife, Miriam, helped me to write this post as we reflected on our experiences in pastoral ministry that, sadly, included too many wives dealing with this issue.

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What is a Christian wife to do when she discovers explicit texts from another woman on her husband’s phone? When she is shocked by an explosion of anger that creates a bleeding heart or even a bruised body? When she walks in the room unexpectedly and finds her husband watching pornographic videos?

Each of these scenarios can have quite a range of involvement and intensity, and thus influence how a wife […]

A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce

The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians and Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry. She is married to William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History at Puritan Theological Seminary. They have four children.

During a recent visit, my wife and I discussed these types of issues with Bill & Rebecca. I am thankful for her willingness to express her thoughts so clearly and powerfully in this article.   

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God hates divorce, doesn’t He? Absolutely. Isn’t the gospel about forgiveness and love? Yes, it is. And pastors and elders can use these two truths in isolation from the rest of Scripture and biblical principles to deny people divorce for biblical grounds. “But marriage is a precious thing,” one pastor told a woman whose husband was in prison for pedophilia. “It would be a wonderful picture of God’s grace to move on from this and focus on your marriage,” another one told the husband of an adulteress. “We’re working with him; he’s really struggling, and so you need to forgive him,” a session tells a woman whose husband has been using pornography for years.

Evangelical and confessional churches are striving to maintain a high […]

Guilty!

Two weeks ago a close member of my family was sentenced to a three and a half year prison sentence for drugs related offences. Although it wasn’t a complete surprise, nevertheless the news when it came was still naturally shocking and distressing. As I’ve had some time to process things I thought I’d write a little about some of the things the Lord has been teaching me over these weeks.

A newfound appreciation of the sovereign wisdom of God. For years we have been praying for this family member to be converted, and our prayer has always been, ‘Lord, do whatever it takes to save him.’ In the last five or ten years, as we’ve watched him go from bad to worse and seen his stubborn unwillingness to change, it’s become increasingly clear that unless God graciously stopped him in his tracks by conversion, only something like a prison sentence would be enough to get him off the road of self-destruction he was hurtling down. And so, ever since he was charged with these offences back in March and the likelihood of a prison sentence loomed, we haven’t really been praying that he would be acquitted, but rather that God would […]