I will be going in today for retinal surgery. I may be offline for a while, potentially up to a month. I have not shut down, merely taking some time until I get my sight back.
Thanks to all for your prayers...
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I will be going in today for retinal surgery. I may be offline for a while, potentially up to a month. I have not shut down, merely taking some time until I get my sight back.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I am contemplating the next series of posts that I will write, but in the interim I would ask for prayer. I am having, (as I mentioned in a previous post), eye problems with my remaining good eye. I am going in on Wednesday of next week to determine what is wrong, and what the treatment may be.
While I rest completely in Christ, I must admit that I am a bit concerned. Anyway, I am not sure I will post before then, but if not -- my visit is next Wednesday at 1:00pm.
Any suggestions for a series of posts would be welcomed; I might not be qualified to post on some things, and if that is the case I will be upfront and say so.
Well, until later...
Posted by Ray at 9:33 AM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I thought I would close with this series on men addressing the aspect of Fatherhood.
I am shocked and horrified with the news nowadays -- it is common to read about a man killing, maiming, raping or abandoning his children! What a world we live in -- no longer are children safe within the arms of their father! Truly, Romans 1 is reflected in our society today!
Sadly, many of these men never had fathers in their lives, and so therefore, they never had a role model to look up to. And so many, even in the Christian community, are/were 'latch-key' kids, growing up with a limited access to their fathers. Many were raised with their moral and ethical foundations formed by the TV and their peers, in lieu of their father.
The church today and for the last several generations, has not held men accountable as fathers. They teach men to go out and act out their adolescent fantasies, somehow believing that this will bring men back into the church. What we end up with is a bunch of immature adolescents, not fathers and husbands.
Men do not need to be 'enabled' to act out their fantasy of being Claude Van Damme, or Stephen Seagal -- they need to be taught what a father's role is in the family. A man is to teach his children -- catechize them, lead in prayer, and be the one who heads up the evening Bible Study with the kids. Dad needs to be viewed as the spiritual leader of the home. All too often, even within the Christian community, fathers come home, plop down on the couch and pick up the remote -- their interaction with their children limited to taking them to football, softball and other activities which have supplanted a family's time together.
Christian men should first and foremost, model the life of a Christian for their children. Secondly, he should teach them of God and His holiness -- a reverent fear and awe that should be reflected in the life of the father. Third -- dad should love mom, and exhibit that love and respect for his wife so that his children see it. What a great model -- men can point to their marriage as a model of Christ's love for His people -- the marriage is the picture kids, albeit imperfect.
I have a problem with a men's ministry that is focused solely around men acting out their childhood fantasy -- be it motorcycle riding, hiking, shooting, hunting. Men's ministry should be focused around Christ, and our relationship with Him first and foremost, then it should focus around men's role within their families and eventually moving outward to their role within the church and society.
But when we have men's ministries that are nothing but a cover for 'activities' that we want to do, I think we have missed the mark. Let's get our men ministries back in line with Biblical foundations -- holding one another accountable as fathers and husbands, lifting one another up in prayer and modeling Christian manhood for our families!
Finally, I say to you father's -- love your children enough to impart in them a love for and reverent fear of God. You are not being loving by allowing your children to 'find their own path' to God. You are being hateful. If you are truly redeemed, that means that you believe that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Him -- why would you enable your children to figure that out on their own?
We need more Godly fathers -- NOT more self-confident posers...
Posted by Ray at 11:34 AM
Sorry I have not posted recently -- I am in Canada on work assignment for the week. I would ask for prayer from my friends out there -- I am having eye issues with my remaining good eye. As some might rememer, it was about a year ago that i had a retinal detachment, and the good eye is acting up. I go to see the doc on my return to Dallas.
Posted by Ray at 8:39 AM
Thursday, July 12, 2007
So far we have looked at the role of a husband in marriage and also at the sad state of men's ministries in today's world. We should understand that we are called to be more than simply 'macho' men, who are engaged in a royal battle, trying to win a beauty (a rough paraphrase of one of the books that I read). We realize that our model for manhood needs to be found in the pages of Scripture.
So, we know that a man is to be self-sacrificial in his love for his wife, he is also supposed to care for and train up his children (more on that later), and be the provider in the home, both from a physical and spiritual perspective.
Let's look at another observation -- men should have others to which they are accountable -- unfortunately, the word 'accountable' has been so emptied of meaning in many parts of Christendom. We overuse and misuse this word. In most instances, it is only used in a negative sense -- i.e. "I am accountable to some men in the church regarding my addition to pornography".
However, if we look in Scripture, we find that men were accountable, not simply in a negative fashion, but also in a positive way. That is, men loved and cared about their fellow workers in the harvest field, and depended upon one another -- they were 'accountable' in their friendship, and the dependence they had upon one another.
As we read the book of Acts we find that Paul always traveled with men whom he depended upon, as did the rest of the apostles. These men understood that they needed relationships with one another, and even our Savior sent them out two-by-two. This kept these men on task, and provided comfort and fellowship for them as they faced persecution, the rigors of the mission field, and the loneliness of being 'on the road'.
Now we find that, in their humanness, sometimes things got a bit rocky for these men; all we need to do is look at the incident between John Mark, Barnabas and Paul (Acts 15:36ff). Interestingly, later in his life, Paul asked for John Mark to be sent to him 2nd Timothy 4:11, that he was "...useful to me [Paul] for ministry".
So, they were human, and struggled at times with their relationship, however they were in relationships.
Updated: I realized that I did a poor job of putting this post together, and seemed to jump from relationships into a rant about men's ministries. I have updated the post to more accurately and consistently reflect where I was going with the thought.
How different their focus was from the men's churches that have 'sports'-themed everything, and ropes courses! In these types of churches the relationships that are built often have little to do with Christ and our unity in Him, and more to do with a common school, or hobby. Relationships developed in this manner are often not Christ-centered, but rather man-centered.
We somehow believe that, to get men into churches and relationships, we need more 'manly' themes and focus, when in reality what we need is a Christ-centered focus. We need to be teaching men to be the husband, friend, disciple, witness, that Christ calls them to be. When we bring men in with secular, carnal pursuits, the bulk of them will never go beyond that -- we need to call men into relationships with one another that are based upon Biblical principles, and hold our ground against a fast-encroaching worldly mindset that says that what we really need to do is have 'car-shows' and 'football-parties' to 'lure' men back to the church.
How about just preaching the word, holding them accountable as men, and showing them the principles of Biblical manhood? Doesn't that seem like it would be more effective? Why do we believe that we can 'lure' men to Christ using (frankly) deceptive means? God will draw men to Christ -- and He will not use bait and switch techniques! And when men come together with Christ as their focus, we will find our churches revived!
P.S. I am not against anything geared towards men -- we have a motorcycle ministry, and other events, but these are SIDE things, not the focus of our church. The focus is, and must always be Christ.
Posted by Ray at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
This is my beloved wife!
This will be the final post as regards marital roles. I have previously discussed the role of the wife in submission to her husband's leadership, and in the last post, I addressed a few of the husband's responsibilities. I would like to close out this section with a some final thoughts regarding this:
Ephesians 5:25 - 33 -- Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
1. Men are often told that they are the master of their home, and therefore, their needs are the most important. This is where the whole 'male headship' aspect of Christian homes can be taken out of context. Yes, wives are to submit to the male headship in their homes, but, as I posed in the previous post, men have the greater responsibilities towards their wives.
2. Notice that Paul directs men to love their wives as they love themselves; if we ONLY did that, we would see a tremendous difference in our wives! But then he goes on to say that we are to nourish and cherish our wives. As the last post noted, one aspect of nourishing our wives is to be the spiritual leaders in our home, spiritually nourishing them with a steady diet of the Word, and prayer. Another, and I feel equally true aspect is to provide for our families physical needs. Many men today allow their wives to be the primary breadwinner in the home, even if they have children that need to be tended to! Men are to provide for their wives. This is not a statement about women working outside the home, rather it is an observation regarding the number of women who provide the primary income for the family. I realize that I sound like a Luddite, and maybe I am, but I know that the Bible speaks of men providing for their families, and while you can examine Proverbs 31 and see an industrious and productive woman, I think that it is imperative for men to be the one who provides the leadership, not just in the home, but in getting and keeping a job!
Many men today are content to let their wives do the work, and they can be housedads. I disagree with this -- children need to see a home where leadership and sacrifice are modeled by the father. This provides a healthy image of our heavenly Father for children. You would not believe how many people I have counseled at church who cannot fathom God as their heavenly 'Father'. This is so often due to the fact that the father they knew was lazy, self-centered and ofttimes cruel to his family; frequently forcing mom to be the one doing all of the sacrificing. This should not be!
I also recognize that there are times when a man may be unemployed while his wife retains her job, but this should be a situational issue, and not the normative pattern. Men need to provide for their wives.
3. Now notice that a man is to cherish his wife! Do you cherish your wife? Does she know it? Our wives need to know that we cherish them; they should have no doubt about this! Proverbs 31:10 - An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. How many of us think of our wives in that manner? Is your wife more important to you than your job, your bank account, your buddies, your life itself? Why not? When a woman is cherished, she will respond.
Men, I challenge you to love and cherish your wives, sacrificing your wants and needs for hers, and ensuring that she knows you are providing self-sacrificial love and leadership to your home. Drop the machismo act and the swagger, and begin leading in the manner of Christ! You may be surprised at your wife's response!
I state here publicly that I try to love and cherish my wife to the best of my ability. There is no one I want to spend time with more then her. We share everything in our life, and she is both a sincere critic, and ardent supporter. We have a marriage that is truly made in heaven!
And that is my prayer for all Christians!
Posted by Ray at 5:22 PM
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Last time we left off with the highly contentious statement that wives were to submit to their husbands. Unfortunately this is often as far as most men go in listening to Ephesians 5. And sadly, many pastors that I have heard speak on this really focus on the submission of wives.
Part of the reason (at least in my experience) that many women in the church are unwilling to submit to male headship in their homes is because of the failure of men to live up to their roles.
Let's look at Ephesians 5:25 - 33 -- Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
I want to simply address a few points in this post:
1. - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. First and foremost, husbands LOVE your wives. Do you love your wife? This means that you do not tear her down in front of others with such wonderful monikers as 'the ole ball and chain'; or 'the wife'; or any other demeaning title. Second -- do you give yourself up for your wife? Do you sacrifice for your wife, or are you one who HAS to have his night out with the boys, or is constantly busy with work or other activities, letting your wife take care of all the home duties and fending for herself? Are your interests more important than hers, and are you constantly trumping her desires with your own?
2. - Notice that Christ sanctifies His bride by washing of the water with the word. Men, are you the spiritual leaders in your home? Are you the one who instigates prayer and study of the Word? Most men that I know are NOT the spiritual leaders in their home -- the women pray and read the word, the men sit on their duffs with the remote watching 'man shows' (i.e. westerns, kill-em-alls), or sports. I know that sounds like a caricature, but it is true in my experience.
So, we have looked at two parts of being a man and a husband -- first: love your wife, and sacrifice yourself for her. Second: be the spiritual leader in your home -- practicing the disciplines of a Christian man, and leading your family in that area.
If men would do just these two things, they would find a wife who was much more prepared to fulfill her role within the marriage. We will look at more next post.
Posted by Ray at 6:57 AM
Monday, July 02, 2007
So, we have looked at what men's ministry is not; but what should it be? What should we be inculcating in our men?
Let's start by looking at the marriage in general. I heave heard Ephesians 5 taught in a number of ways -- one way, traditionally by Fundamentalists, is to emphasize the word SUBMIT found in the 22nd verse, while downplaying the verses that spell out a husband's role. "Wives are to SUBMIT to their husbands"; a second way is to go back one verse to Ephesians 5:21, and emphasize the submission of one to another, "we are to be in submission to ONE ANOTHER". This is generally taught in mainline denominational churches.
Because of this faulty and unbalanced teaching, men are often not taught the gravitas of marriage as a witness to the world of Christ and His bride. We often end up with men who are domineering and egoists, or men who are incapable of, or unwilling to, make leadership decisions in their home, often these men are ruled by their wives and children.
So, let us first look at the wife's role. This is well-known, and contentious, but I pray that as we explore this Scripture, men will begin to see their role in a different light. I 'preached' this passage on Saturday to a couple renewing their vows.
Ephesians 5:22 - 33 -- Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
This immediately grates upon the nerve of any feminists that read it (even women who would not describe themselves as 'feminists' are often so steeped in the feminist mindset that they react exactly the same way). It uses that obscene word "submit". In our day and age, no woman should ever submit to anyone else, and ESPECIALLY not their husbands! Yet, here it is, not matter how much the liberal community attempts to change the wording, the meaning, and context, it says the same thing.
The word translated 'submit' is hupotasso, and it means what it says. As we look through the New Testament, we find this word used in a number of other places. Here are a few that are interesting:
Luke 2:51 -- And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Now, who is this 'He' that is being discussed? It is Jesus, the Christ -- and here He is hupotasso towards His parents. Even though He is the Second Person of the Godhead, he submitted Himself to the earthly parents that had been chosen.
1st Corinthians 15:27, 28 -- For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Again we find Christ's submission.
It seems that it is perfectly acceptable for the Savior to submit to His earthly parents for a time, and submit to His Heavenly Father, bringing to culmination to great plan of salvation, yet we must not use that word about wives!
In Ephesians 5 Paul clearly states that marriage is a picture of Christ and His Bride (the church). The church submits to the Savior, who gave Himself up for Her, dying on a tree for her redemption; a Savior who is active in the sanctifying work of His Bride. Wives should submit to their husbands for the same reasons. As we look at the role of the husband in the next post, we will unpack this more.
Let me ask you a question -- considering the value that society places on marriage in general, and on roles within marriage in particular -- it is any surprise that we have such a man-centered theology permeating the church? When egalitarianism is all the rage, we lose the ability to understand our role as the Bride of Christ, thinking ourselves peers with our Savior (not that we would ever word it that way).
We preach man-centered sermons, accompanied by man-centered singing, and man-centered gatherings. The truth is that our churches betray our egalitarian mindset -- everything the church does is often built around man and his comfort as opposed to Christ and His Glory! We even have some heretics who preach that we are all little gods,equal to Christ, and these people are considered 'Christians' by many in the church!
By bringing back the fullness of marriage in its Biblical context we will once again display to our children, and the world the picture of Christ and His Bride. And we will again understand the position of the church in relationship to Her Bridegroom!
Posted by Ray at 8:53 AM