Monthly Archives: July 2012

Piper in 2007: Tattoos 30 Years from Now

I have been trying to work through body tats theologically. While doing so, I ran across a small line from John Piper: “Thirty years from now today’s tattoos will not be marks of freedom, but indelible reminders of conformity.” The full quote is part of the article below:

Christ Suffered and Died to Deliver Us from the Present Evil

Galatians 1:4

[He] gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.

Until we die, or until Christ returns to establish his kingdom, we live in “the present evil age.” Therefore, when the Bible says that Christ gave himself “to deliver us from the present evil age,” it does not mean that he will take us out of the world, but that he will deliver us from the power of the evil in it. Jesus prayed for us like this: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

The reason Jesus prays for deliverance from “the evil one” is that “this present evil age” is the age when Satan is given freedom to deceive and destroy. The Bible says, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). This “evil one” is called “the god of this world” and his main aim is blinding people to truth. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Until we waken to our darkened spiritual condition, we live in sync with “the present evil age” and the ruler of it. “You once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Without knowing it, we were lackeys of the devil. What felt like freedom was bondage. The Bible speaks straight to 21st century fads, fun, and addictions when it says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19).

The resounding cry of freedom in the Bible is: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). In other words, be free! Don’t be duped by the gurus of the age. They are here today and gone tomorrow. One enslaving fad follows another. Thirty years from now today’s tattoos will not be marks of freedom, but indelible reminders of conformity.

The wisdom of this age is folly in view of eternity. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. . . . The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 3:18-191:18). What then is the wisdom of God in this age? It is the great liberating death of Jesus Christ. The early followers of Jesus said, “We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

When Christ went to the cross he set millions of captives free. He unmasked the devil’s fraud and broke his power. That’s what he meant on the eve of his crucifixion when he said, “Now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Don’t follow a defeated foe. Follow Christ. It is costly. You will be an exile in this age. But you will be free.

 

© 2012 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

 

Also, you can hear Piper give more thoughts about tattoos at a podcast on the topic.

A book I enjoyed this year I think you too would enjoy: God’s Wisdom in Proverbs

I am reposting this notice from last year about Daniel Philip’s, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs,  as I reconsider the book of Proverbs for a course I am teaching at New Canaan Baptist Church this week. I still recommended the book, especially to those just beginning their journey of pursuing wisdom.

A book I enjoyed this year I think you too would enjoy: God’s Wisdom in Proverbs.

Wisdom Store and Proverbs

I have added a Wisdom Store page (above) for all to use, but especially for those enjoying the Understanding Proverbs course.

Memorizing Scripture

I am grateful to find that Andrew Davis’ An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture remains available for free at the First Baptist Church of Durham (NC) website. This resource has been helpful to me in teaching others to memorize whole books of the Scriptures or small portions of Scripture. Davis makes a good case for the memorizing entire books of the Bible; his method makes is possible (if we will seek grace from the Lord to be found diligent). Davis writes,

“[T]his benefit does not merely bless US in our own growth and development, but it becomes a treasure trove for the growth of the church as well. The Scripture memorizer will be used mightily by God to teach and encourage other Christians, with an apt word from the perfect Word of God: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16) How better can you obey Colossians 3:16 than by Scripture memorization? The “word of Christ” will indeed “dwell in you richly” as you memorize it, and then work it over in your mind through meditation. Then you will most certainly be useful to God to “teach and admonish” another brother or sister. Scripture builds the Church to its final doctrinal and practical maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16), and God uses those who memorize it to do this building in a powerful and eternally fruitful way.”

 

 

Protecting Your Pastor’s Marital Fidelity

The sanctification of the believer is both an individual work and a community work. Each one of us has a personal responsibility to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. But as a local body of believers, each church member has a responsibility to hold all other members accountable to live before God in righteousness so that the church might be holy before the Lord. For every local congregation this accountability should include walking alongside its pastor in order to help him keep his marriage vows before them and the Lord with joy. Here are some practical tips:

1. Build time off into his contract and schedule. Your pastor needs time off in order to relieve the unseen emotional stresses of his work as a laborer in crafting souls. His contract should reflect this in vacation time, study leave, personal days off, and sabbaticals. The governing or ruling board of an assembly should work to make sure the pastor uses his time off every year. Often the distress points for an overworked pastor find their locale in his home life and make for a stressful life for his family.

2. Budget annually for competent pulpit supply for him. A church should not expect a faithful pastor to preach more than 80% of the weekly sermons in the course of a year, (75% would be even better). Pastors need 20%-25% of their Sundays off from preaching so that they can do the additional study in preparing ahead for sermons and the general pastoral leading and deepening of the congregation. Pastors who are faithful in their preaching sometimes (inadvertently) borrow this 20%-25% from their families because their families are gracious to allow them to do so. But their families and marriages pay a toll for the borrowing. With very little cost to a church’s annual budget, funds for supply preachers can be available so that the pastor can have breaks from the pulpit. Seminary and Bible college faculty and students often are seeking pulpit supply opportunities.

3. Send him and his wife to a marriage retreat annually. Many parachurch marriage retreats have special tracks and resources specifically for the marriages of shepherds and their spouses. These retreats recognize the unique pressures pastors face. The general sessions often serve as good reminders of the original marriage joy—the joy before congregational pressures. A wise church would be intentional about seeing that its pastor gets to give focused attention to his marriage apart from church duties. Finding this to be wisdom, the church where I served in Texas paid for its pastoral staff’s registration to one retreat per year.

4. Provide mature women to counsel other women in the congregation. Even with every Biblical and modern precaution in place, when a woman comes alone for counseling to her pastor, it creates a dangerous scenario for sexual temptation. This scenario might be avoided if spiritually mature women in a congregation would take up the mantle to make friends with and disciple other women in the church. In some cases, a church will staff someone over women’s counseling for this task. In other places women’s small group leaders can provide this ministry. Still other churches will utilize gifted women’s Sunday School teachers and/or deaconesses. The pastor then can give his attention to men and couples without the lure of sexual temptation.

5. Ask your elders to make it their responsibility to ask him and his wife about their marriage. Those who help a church’s pastor lead the congregation should themselves have strong marriages. As they will stand in account with the pastor for the souls of the congregation (Heb. 13:17), it would be prudent of them to encourage the health of the pastor’s marriage. An act of formative discipline in this area might consist of routinely asking the pastor and his wife about their marriage.

6. Pray for his family daily. Ultimately the pastor needs the powerful working of the Lord’s grace in his marriage. Every member of a congregation should pray daily for the Lord’s love, mercy, grace, joy, holiness, and peace to be upon their pastor’s marriage and family abundantly. The benefits will come to the lives of the congregation through their shepherd’s message, model, and morale.

Eric C. Redmond, a former pastor and professor of Biblical Studies, is Bible Professor in Residence at New Canaan Baptist Church, Washington, DC. Follow Eric at his blog, A Man from Issachar, and on Twitter @EricCRedmond.

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Original post of Protecting Your Pastor’s Marital Fidelity at christianity.com.

“The Single Best Book on Christian Suffering Available”

“The Single Best Book on Christian Suffering Available”. (From Justin Taylor:)

Carl Trueman on the memoirs of the Puritan Richard Baxter upon losing his beloved wife:

One of the literary jewels Dr. Packer has given the church is his edition the Breviatewhere he intersperses his own wise commentary and thoughts.  It is still available from Crossway as A Grief Sanctified and is, I believe, the single best book on Christian suffering available.  I keep a copy on my bedside table and dip into it regularly.  So much wisdom packed into so few pages.  And as we all know, even the most devoted marriage ultimately ends in tragedy.  Baxter’s bereavement awaits the marriages of us all.

Recently, I gave it to a much older Christian friend who had just lost his beloved wife of many years after a long and painful illness.  Last week, I received a brief note of thanks from him: ‘It was just what I needed,’ he wrote, ‘and I will recommend it to others.’  There can be no higher praise or greater vote of confidence for a book on bereavement than that.

Understanding Proverbs: Wise Words for a Peaceful Life

This coming week (July 23-27) I will be starting my new position at New Canaan Baptist Church by teaching through the book of Proverbs during Vacation Bible School each night.  If you are in the area and desire to learn how to gain greater wisdom for navigating all of life, and/or if you desire a more peaceful life, join us!

The miracle is that I can be found in VBS at all, for I am not fond of the minimal offerings at most churches’ VBS. However, I tend to enjoy the VBS at New Canaan; they like to study the deeper things of God and put them into practice.