Archive for October, 2012

How to be Approved by God

Fellow-sojourners, what are you studying in the Scriptures these days?

I ask because it is the normal response of a follower of Christ who loves Him and longs to grow closer. Study of the Scriptures shows us God’s way in a troubled and troubling world. We share Timothy’s motivation to, “study to show yourself approved…” Like Timothy, what we accurately know, trust, and follow are essential to pleasing God. I ask because I just saw the fruit of it in Georgia.

Cheryl and I just came back from an extended weekend with our grandkids in Georgia. When our perfect grandkids arrived home from school on Thursday, they unloaded their backpacks. Lunch stuff, dirty stuff (laugh) and, of course, school papers scattered everywhere. One paper was particularly memorable to me: a daily checklist for the week’s lessons and assignments. Parent, child, and teacher all interact on it throughout the week.

It made me think: What is my plan to grow in love for my Lord through His Word? So, I want to share a recent study from II Peter. At the end I will tie it together with my grandkids. (I am utterly fascinated how God brings connections like these.)

II Peter 2 is inescapably about false teachers but the real main character is God. It is an intense passage, and stretches our view about the nature and works of God. Are you comfortable with Scripture’s portrait of God as judge? He is, but there is much more in this fire and brimstone passage. God is righteous and He is judging the unrighteous. But all the while, He holds, protects, delivers, and knows His own. Wonderfully, when the flames and smoke clear, His righteous ones who have lived among false teachers have a wonderful future in His presence.

Back to my grandkids. All four live in a precarious world of false ideas. In preparing them to go into the world, their parents have a plan that includes modeling the message of Scripture, and a sacrificial investment in good Bible teaching churches. They read the Bible regularly with their kids. It is the reference point of discussions, frequent joyful moments, and kid-life events.

Most of all, they are intentional about presenting Jesus Christ. But it’s not easy. John Piper said, “…beauty and excellence in Christ is not a simple thing. It is complex. It is a coming together in one person of the perfect balance and proportion of extremely diverse qualities. And that’s what makes Jesus Christ uniquely glorious, excellent, and admirable. The human heart was made to stand in awe of such ultimate excellence. We were made to admire Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The grands are in good hands.

I like the plan.

Moving In

Don’t you just love young love?

Saturday was another wedding performed; another young couple set out on their own. It’s an honor to be asked, especially by those I care about. I love young love—the smiles and looks, the optimism, the gleam in their eyes.

Marriage is at the core of how we follow Jesus well and finish our life strong in His will and pleasure. The Apostle Peter, for example, spoke to the spiritual side when he said to husbands, “…grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). As I write, Cheryl is out of town for a few days. Please don’t tell her I shared that particular verse…

Every time I perform a wedding I am reminded marriage is such a gift to me. When I share a message as part of the ceremony, it stares right back at me. Slightly amplified here, this is what I said to Stephanie and Eric last Saturday—and to me: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave (cling) to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25).

God has given foundational principles to establish a healthy marriage. First, it requires severance from previous relationships. This is often hard for both the new couple and their family. It is something like biblical repentance for salvation: we change our mind and heart about who we trust and depend upon, and intentionally turn to God.

Second, we must view marriage as permanent. God said, “a man shall leave and cleave (cling) to his wife.” The strong implication is: it is forever. I liken it to a rock climber who hangs on to his rope for dear life—because it is a matter of life and death. Don’t let go.

Third, we must constantly grow in oneness, for God said, “they shall become one flesh.” Though we don’t lose our uniqueness, two lives have now become one life. Very practically, it is no longer “my” money or account. It is “our” money and our account.

Last, we get to grow in the wonder of intimacy. God simply said, “the man and woman were naked and were not ashamed.” This involves the whole person. Transparency, vulnerability, and openness all invite joy as two increasingly becoming one.

A friend recently described his transition from vacationing at a cabin to moving in for retirement. Now, storage had to be settled. Projects that were easy to put aside were now imperative. Marriage (and following Jesus) are like that: we are no longer visitors; we have moved in.

Welcome home!



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