Archive for the ‘Pastoral’ Category

Adam, Where are You?

Posted: March 14, 2012 in Household, Parental, Pastoral

When our first parents sinned, a pattern of responsibility and consequence-bearing was set in motion for the history of humanity.

You will recall the tragic story I am sure.  The serpent tempted Eve.  She took the fruit and ate it.  Adam stood there as a passive observer of the interaction (Genesis 3:6).  Our first father, Adam, should have crushed the head of the serpent there and then.  But God, in His foreordination, determined that another Adam was to come who would do that job (more on that later).

Nevertheless, because our Federal Head[1] did not take responsibility in protecting and guarding our first mother, death and sin passed on to us all (Romans 5:12).

Our response to this story is not to whine and complain that we were not there when it happened, “Hey!?! How can God hold me responsible for it?”  Rather, our response is to understand this and accept the world as we have received it.  Death and sin are unfortunate realities!  This is part of God’s preordained design for our humanity.  We experience death and sin and suffering because of what happened that fateful day some 1656 years before the Flood in that garden, east of Eden (Genesis 2:8).

You will recall that when the time of God’s visit came, God did not furiously stomp out of heaven to read Eve the riot act.  What did Adam and Eve hear when God came to visit?[2]  “Adam, where are you?”

God did not face Eve first did He?  He confronted Adam!  But Adam didn’t pick the fruit first.  This is not fair.  It wasn’t his fault that Eve picked the fruit!  She did it!  She should’ve been punished first!  He was just standing there as an “innocent” bystander.  This was like a drive-by fruit-picking!

Yet, God called out to Adam first, “Adam, where are you?”

I have listened to Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage[3] sermon series and the point was made over and over for the men, “It may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility!”  Us men like authority!  But authority only flows to those who take responsibility[4]!

The purpose of my article is to call out our men. “Adam(s), where are you?” Are you present and active in the nurture and care of your wife’s soul?  Adam, where are you?  Are you present and active in the nurture and education of your children?  Adam, where are you?  Are you standing by watching your wife pick the fruit and then waiting for her to assess its goodness and health for you and your family?  Adam, where are you?  Are you actively grabbing yourself and getting up from your chair to discipline the children or are you leaving your wife to do it?  Adam, where are you?  Are you turning off the TV or computer when sinful smut or inappropriate content is streamed into your home? Adam, where are you? Brothers, pray for me as I pray for you?

I confess that I want to gently move my Eve away from the tree.  Lord, help me to lead her in the garden? I want to pay more careful attention to the kind of fruit that I am allowing us to eat? Lord, help me to be active in what shapes my wife and children’s worldview? I want to decide which trees ought to be chopped down and which serpentine influences ought to be crushed!  Lord, give me courage to stand against temptation as I guard my home?

Imagine if Adam decided to serve Eve that day instead of standing by, waiting for her to literally “fruit-feed” him. Imagine if Adam was keenly observant as to which tree they were walking too closely to.  Imagine if Adam was leading Eve to get themselves ready to meet with God in the cool of the day instead of idly accompanying her.

Men, fathers, husbands and grandfathers: please, let us be intentionally active in serving our wives and children and grandchildren.  Let us be the responsibility-bearers for our families.

I am so thankful that 1979 years ago, in another garden, Jesus  wrestled in prayer as He submitted to His Father’s will to take responsibility for my sin even though none of my sin was His fault.  He drank the wine of the fruit that was trampled out in God’s fury, He literally took that tree that brought our curse and carried it on His back and was nailed to it so that the head of the serpent would be crushed as He became my new Federal Head.

May we follow our second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) and not the first.  The fruit of the passive first is hard to swallow and brings death.  The fruit of the active second is sweet and life-giving to ourselves and those around us!

Adam, where are YOU?


[1] Federal headship refers to the representation of a group united under a federation or covenant. For example, a country’s president may be seen as the federal head of his nation, representing and speaking on its behalf before the rest of the world (Sproul, R.C., Adam’s Fall and Mine, “Just as a federal government has a chief spokesman who is the head of the nation, so Adam was the federal head of mankind.”)

[2] They heard “the voice of the LORD God walking” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).  How can a voice walk?  I wonder if the “voice of God” walking was not in fact the same “word of God” that became flesh and walked among us?

A Fine Line

Posted: June 19, 2011 in Pastoral

Theological precision is necessary in a day where people use the same vocabulary but use different dictionaries.

However, I had a strange navel-examining moment just now as I considered what I publically shared at the Lord’s Table earlier tonight.

God – the Creator of all things that exist – desires to have fellowship with His people!

That is an amazing reality! I am deeply encouraged by that.

But here’s the navel bit. It could be heard from the above statement, that God looks upon me and sees some value in me that provokes in Him a desire to fellowship with me. That is man-centered, self-esteem, unbiblical, mumbo-jumbo!

When God looks at me, He sees NOTHING in me worthy of His pleasure! In fact, He sees an unprofitable wretch.

The amazing nature of God’s desire for fellowship is that, despite who I am, God purpose[s/ed] to set His love on an unworthy hell-deserving sinner just because He had determined that this is how best He will get the glory. God is glorified in me, when He pours out the riches of His forbearance and longsuffering on a perverted, foolish, arrogant, proud, boastful, bombastic (etc, etc) sinner such as me.

To that great truth I can add nothing – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! I am one of them (and probably a contender for the foremost of them).

This satisfies me and rejoices my heart!

What is [this] man that You are mindful of Him; or [this] son of [a] man that You would visit him?

Thank you Father for Your condescending love!

Sarah Elizabeth Cain

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Household, Parental, Pastoral

Sarah Elizabeth Cain born 31 May 2011 weighing 3.1kg!

Sarah, the princess, is how she’ll be known
Such goodness from God to us He has shown

She entered this clay with haste in her flight
She surprised us all with cheer and delight

Her brother so proud as he keeps at her door
With such ardent affection he’ll love and adore

Her mother with tears and great joy bid her in
Her father’s heart shattered and melted within

What joy, what delight, O we pray she shall be
A lover of Jesus and a quiet soul-winner to Thee?

POST WHAT!?!

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Evolution's End, Pastoral

We live in a post post-modern world. This may seem like a meaningless use of words to you. If you believe that, then the statement is proven to be true and reveals just how much a product of the thinking of this world you may have become.

Modern. vs Post-Modern vs. Post Post-Modern
The modern mindset elevated the natural and superior power of the reason of man to define, explain and live according to some measure of truth. The result was a tidy kind of societal morality and ethic. In a word, the modern man says, “We define truth!”

The post-modern mindset, accepting the natural and superior power of man’s reason, then combined all of the conclusions of men to ask the question: “Well, who is right?”. Of course, not to offend the tidy kind of society modern man had created, the answer to the question posed was “Yes!”. That is, “We are all equally right!” We have all been endowed with reason (from Who?) and thus are all equally right in our definition of truth. In fact, truth is actually relative and not absolute. It is all dependent on what your own or your society’s perception and experience of reality is. In fact, reality itself is relative. The result was a less tidy, less moral and more ethically confused society. In a word, the post-modern man says, “I define truth!”

The post post-modern mind is one in which, having been totally confused by the myriad of claims to truth – the world in which we are entering or may even now live – begins to say, “Who cares who is right!”. This is quite a scary thought. The modern and post-modern man at least had a societal and internal form of morality. We now live in a world that is amoral!

A Woeful Dilemma
Isaiah 5:20+21 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

We are living in a world upon which the “Woe” of God rests. Woe is the pronouncement of grief, misery or heavy calamity.

Surely this is the world in which we live. We are surrounded by grief, misery and heavy calamity.

So what can be done to deliver us from this malaise? The answer is both simple and complex!

The Simple Answer
I think the first place to start off is by defining good as good and evil as evil. Great! But what is to be the basis for our definition? Surely it must be the scriptures plainly read and understood! You see, I think that even some Christians have bought into the post post-modern mindset. They view scripture as an optional book of suggestions and not as an infallible rule of life. Ask yourself this question: how many of your actions and decisions are undergirded by clear scriptural principle? I am not saying that you have a verse for every decision you make. I am saying that surely you weigh all the revealed will of God on a particular subject or decision and then go ahead and make your judgement-call. The only way that Christians will be able to make any sense and impact (as salt and light) in a world where the foundational premises for life and living are (or have already been) systematically destroyed, is to have an unshakeable confidence in the sufficiency of scripture for ALL of life.

The Complex Answer
Here’s the thing! We cannot simply use the scripture as an instruction manual where you push this verse-button and pull that verse-wire and all should begin working. Paul’s use of words in Romans 10:17 provide an essential understanding for us. Paul says that “faith comes by hearing”. Therefore, as Christians who want to live a life of faith – the kind of faith that moves mountains (and changes societies) – we need to be hearing something. And we already know that what we need to be hearing is scripture – the Word(s) of God! But his words don’t say faith comes from hearing the Word of God. He says faith does come from hearing but where does this “hearing” come from? Hearing can only come through “the word of Christ”! That is incredible! Do you see it? Hearing the scripture is not something that comes through natural means. Hearing with your ears does come naturally! But Jesus would often say, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”. Why would he have said that? Because the majority of human beings have functional ears! But the kind of hearing He talks about is a spiritual hearing and this does not come naturally (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is complex!

Consider one chapter later in Isaiah, God says: “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)

The complexity of the answer lies in the fact that there is really NOTHING that we can do to fix this situation. The only thing that can be done is to repent and call out to God for mercy to rescue us from ourselves and from the perverseness of our generation! In a word, we need to pray!

And then we need to make the scriptures – the revealed will and revelation of God – our very meat and drink!

Perhaps we are living in post post-modern times, but if God’s people will humble themselves and pray and seek His face, then He will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land(s) and then we would remember this post post-modern world as simply a pre-Christian world!

Spiritual Power

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Pastoral

Just because someone can wow the crowds with signs of spiritual power (whether it be false or true) does not mean that they are the real deal.

I was amazed again while reading Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness!” along with Matthew 10:1-4: “And when He had called to Him His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. And the names of the twelve apostles are these…and Judas Iscariot” (yes that same Judas) “who also betrayed Him” was endowed with the same authority over the unclean spirits!

So authority over the spirit world is no sure indicator of devotion and service to Christ.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

An old friend of mine (who wandered from the faith and who has an inclination for song-writing and poetry) posted the following lyric in his facebook notes and to which I replied hoping to lovingly and winsomely meet him where he is at; while, at the same time, not compromising on God’s kindness to him and his rebellion to him…

 

barely breaking even

 

I find it kinda strange, i find it hard to take,

how life can leave you making the very same mistakes.

How dreams can lose their meaning, for no apparent reason

how the fight for freedom, can leave you barely breaking even.

 

I find it kinda strange, I find it so confusing,

how religion says we are all gods children.

yet we’re only living righteous, if we turn the other cheek,

so then what about survival when you’re living on the street.

 

Hey god, listen up, are you even there,

you havent been responding to any of my prayers.

are we unforgiven, for trying to be strong

where is the line between right and wrong,

are you just too busy, or do you even care,

its hard to keep believing, while drowning in despair

its hard to keep surviving, when hearts are breaking even,

hey god, dont you understand, we’re barely breaking even.

 

I find it kinda strange, its so hard to understand,

thru heartache and disaster, why no one gives a damn.

when love has left you broken, there’s nothing for the pain

& some one is always in the wrong, yet no one takes the blame.

 

Hey god, listen up, are you even there,

you havent been responding to any of my prayers.

are we unforgiven, for trying to be strong

where is the line between right and wrong,

are you just too busy, or do you even care,

its hard to keep believing, while drowning in despair

its hard to keep surviving, when hearts are breaking even,

hey god, dont you understand, we’re barely breaking even.

 

God’s Reply

I know your situation

And I see all your frustrations

And I’m well aware how desperate you are

 

And your questions come before Me

With a taste of ignominy

So before I answer let’s set the record straight

 

You ask if I’m too busy or if I’m even there

But you’re drowning out My Voice

And then say that I don’t care

 

You ask about survival when living in the streets

And you talk ’bout livin’ righteous

When you turn the other cheek

 

 

I know about survival while living in the streets

Cos I descended to be man and had no place to sleep

I proved that I was righteous while crucified by men

And still shower down continual love

[tell me…] when last did you eat again?

 

I never promised mansions or significant success

I promised to be with you in your moments of distress

I promise food and clothing and I give you air to breathe

Have I ever once failed you in this? Accuse Me if you please!

 

And yet you push Me from you and then ask why I’m not there

You pay no ‘tention to Me and then say that I don’t care

How long shall I bear with you

While you’re trying to stand strong

Its when you’re weak that I get glory

And its been like that all along

 

Come close now J… – My child – let’s reason for a while

You say that no one gives a damn and no one takes the blame

 

I find it hard to take, I find it kinda strange

When things go bad its all My fault

Am I sought when things are going “game”?

 

I know your situation, that you’re never breakin’ even

And its hard to live in such a world and then tryin’ to find reasons

 

Here is My conclusion: you never will break even

(Not in rands and cents I say but in a spiritual way)

As long as you reject My provision

For you to be forgiven

 

Come close now J… – My child –

And see how much I care

I’ve moved an old friend for you

And driven him to prayer

 

[From Barry]

For you and all your family

my heart is burdened strong

Come close now J… – My friend –

And please don’t take too long

 

My call goes out to you now,

please take it while you may

Perhaps you never will break even

But this life is short, and, one day

 

Such riches without number can be all your delight

Such riches bought with Precious blood

I beg you with all my might!?!

 

I long to stand beside you and glorify God’s grace

For you a wond’ring brother were

O please come back to this place!?!

 



” O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.  Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.  My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?  Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.  For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?  I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” [Ps. 6:1-6]

Sin is in me. It is an alien yet internal enemy that will one day result in my death (Romans 6:23). It brings me under the anger and hot displeasure of the Self-Existent Being! Am I physically shaken and internally troubled in my soul about this state of existence? Or do I laugh it away and soothe it by more and more entertainment and play? O Jehovah, help me to see the exceeding sinfulness of my sin!?! Then, and only then, will I really appreciate how You stooped down and loosened the shackles of bondage to things that rob me of true freedom!