God’s Love Lasts Forever

March 9, 2020 by Jack Flacco

Though the waves of the ocean beat upon my brow, pressing me to stumble, God’s love lasts forever. Though the darkness surrounds me, wanting to swallow me whole, God’s love lasts forever. Though my heart plunges in sadness for my loss, God’s love lasts forever.

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Though the mountains crumble around me, burying me in its dirt, God’s love lasts forever. Though the winds hurl me about, tossing me to the ground, God’s love lasts forever. Though my legs give way to my weakness, I will not surrender, for God’s love lasts forever.

God’s love is perfect. God’s love is kind. It never departs when beaten, never flees when surrounded and never withdraws when sorrow wraps me in its cold grip.

God’s love never fails. The mountains will not bury me, the winds will not pitch me, my legs will stand firm, for God’s love lasts forever.

God’s Love Lasts Forever

The Bible Was His Only Crime

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1494–1536)

by John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Stephen Vaughan was an English merchant commissioned by Thomas Cromwell, the king’s adviser, to find William Tyndale and inform him that King Henry VIII desired him to come back to England out of hiding on the continent. In a letter to Cromwell from Vaughan dated June 19, 1531, Vaughan wrote about Tyndale these simple words: “I find him always singing one note” (David Daniell, William Tyndale: A Biography, 217). That one note was this: Will the King of England give his official endorsement to a vernacular Bible for all his English subjects? If not, Tyndale would not come. If so, Tyndale would give himself up to the king and never write another book.

This was the driving passion of his life — to see the Bible translated from the Greek and Hebrew into ordinary English available for every person in England to read.

Whatever It Costs

Henry VIII was angry with Tyndale for believing and promoting Martin Luther’s Reformation teachings. In particular, he was angry because of Tyndale’s book Answer to Sir Thomas More. Thomas More was the Lord Chancellor who helped Henry VIII write his repudiation of Luther called Defense of the Seven Sacraments. More was thoroughly Roman Catholic and radically anti-Reformation, anti-Luther, and anti-Tyndale. So Tyndale had come under excoriating criticism by More.

But in spite of this high-court anger against Tyndale, the king’s message to Tyndale, carried by Vaughan, was mercy: “The king’s royal majesty is . . . inclined to mercy, pity, and compassion” (William Tyndale, 216). The 37-year-old Tyndale was moved to tears by this offer of mercy. He had been in exile away from his homeland for seven years. But then he sounded his “one note” again: Will the king authorize a vernacular English Bible from the original languages?

The king refused. And Tyndale never went to his homeland again. Instead, if the king and the Roman Catholic Church would not provide a printed Bible in English for the common man to read, Tyndale would, even if it cost him his life — which it did five years later.

The Plowboy Will Know His Bible

When he was 28 years old in 1522, he was serving as a tutor in the home of John Walsh in Gloucestershire, England, spending most of his time studying Erasmus’s Greek New Testament that had been printed just six years before. We should pause here and make clear what an incendiary thing this Greek New Testament was in history. David Daniell describes the magnitude of this event:

This was the first time that the Greek New Testament had been printed. It is no exaggeration to say that it set fire to Europe. Luther translated it into his famous German version of 1522. In a few years there appeared translations from the Greek into most European vernaculars. They were the true basis of the popular reformation. (Tyndale, Selected Writings, ix)

Every day, William Tyndale was seeing these Reformation truths more clearly in the Greek New Testament as an ordained Catholic priest. Increasingly, he was making himself suspect in this Catholic house of John Walsh. Learned men would come for dinner, and Tyndale would discuss the things he was seeing in the New Testament. John Foxe tells us that one day an exasperated Catholic scholar at dinner with Tyndale said, “We were better be without God’s law than the pope’s.”

In response, Tyndale spoke his famous words, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. . . . If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost” (William Tyndale, 79).

One-Note Crescendo

Four years later Tyndale finished the English translation of the Greek New Testament in Worms, Germany, and began to smuggle it into England in bales of cloth. He had grown up in Gloucestershire, the cloth-working county, and now we see what that turn of providence was about. By October 1526, the book had been banned by Bishop Tunstall in London, but the print run had been at least three thousand. And the books were getting to the people. Over the next eight years, five pirated editions were printed as well.

In 1534, Tyndale published a revised New Testament, having learned Hebrew in the meantime, probably in Germany, which helped him better understand the connections between the Old and New Testaments. Biographer David Daniell calls this 1534 New Testament “the glory of his life’s work” (William Tyndale, 316). If Tyndale was “always singing one note,” this was the crescendo of the song of his life — the finished and refined New Testament in English.

Liberating Gospel

What drove Tyndale to sing “one note” all his life was the rock-solid conviction that all humans were in bondage to sin, blind, dead, damned, and helpless, and that God had acted in Christ to provide salvation by grace through faith. This is what lay hidden in the Latin Scriptures and the church system of penance and merit. The Bible must be translated for the sake of the liberating, life-giving gospel.

There is only one hope for our liberation from the bonds of sin and eternal condemnation, Tyndale said: “Neither can any creature loose the bonds, save the blood of Christ only” (Selected Writings, 40).

By grace . . . we are plucked out of Adam the ground of all evil and graffed [sic] in Christ, the root of all goodness. In Christ God loved us, his elect and chosen, before the world began and reserved us unto the knowledge of his Son and of his holy gospel: and when the gospel is preached to us [it] openeth our hearts and giveth us grace to believe, and putteth the spirit of Christ in us: and we know him as our Father most merciful, and consent to the law and love it inwardly in our heart and desire to fulfill it and sorrow because we do not. (Selected Writings, 37)

This is the answer to how William Tyndale accomplished what he did in translating the New Testament and writing books that set England on fire with the Reformed faith. He worked assiduously, like the most skilled artist, in the craft of compelling translation, and he was deeply passionate about the great doctrinal truths of the gospel of sovereign grace.

Man is lost, spiritually dead, condemned. God is sovereign; Christ is sufficient. Faith is all. Bible translation and Bible truth were inseparable for Tyndale, and in the end it was the truth — especially the truth of justification by faith alone — that ignited Britain with Reformed fire and then brought the death sentence to this Bible translator.

Burned for the Bible

It is almost incomprehensible to us today how viciously the Roman Catholic Church opposed the translation of the Scriptures into English. Tyndale, who escaped from London to the European continent in 1524, watched a rising tide of persecution and felt the pain of seeing young men burned alive who were converted by reading his translation and his books.

His closest friend, John Frith, was arrested in London and tried by Thomas More and burned alive on July 4, 1531, at the age of 28. Richard Bayfield ran the ships that took Tyndale’s books to England. He was betrayed and arrested, and More wrote on December 4, 1531, that Bayfield “the monk and apostate [was] well and worthily burned in Smythfelde” (Brian Moynahan, God’s Bestseller, 260).

Three weeks later, the same end came to John Tewkesbury. He was converted by reading Tyndale’s Parable of the Wicked Mammon, which defended justification by faith alone. He was whipped in More’s garden and had his brow squeezed with small ropes until blood came out of his eyes. Then he was sent to the Tower where he was racked till he was lame. Then at last they burned him alive. More “rejoiced that his victim was now in hell, where Tyndale ‘is like to find him when they come together’” (God’s Bestseller, 261).

Four months later, James Bainham followed in the flames in April 1532. He had stood up during the mass at St. Augustine’s Church in London and lifted a copy of Tyndale’s New Testament and pleaded with the people to die rather than deny the word of God. That virtually was to sign his own death warrant. Add to these Thomas Bilney, Thomas Dusgate, John Bent, Thomas Harding, Andrew Hewet, Elizabeth Barton, and others, all burned alive for sharing the views of William Tyndale about the Scriptures and the Reformed faith.

Tyndale the Fugitive

What did it cost William Tyndale under these hostile circumstances to stay faithful to his calling as a translator of the Bible and a writer of the Reformed faith?

He fled his homeland in 1524 and was burned at the stake in 1536. He gives us some glimpse of those twelve years as a fugitive in Germany and the Netherlands in one of the very few personal descriptions we have, from Stephen Vaughan’s letter in 1531. He refers to

. . . my pains . . . my poverty . . . my exile out of mine natural country, and bitter absence from my friends . . . my hunger, my thirst, my cold, the great danger wherewith I am everywhere encompassed, and finally . . . innumerable other hard and sharp fightings which I endure. (William Tyndale, 213)

All these sufferings came to a climax on May 21, 1535, in the midst of Tyndale’s great Old Testament translation labors. We can feel some of the ugliness of what happened in the words of Daniell: “Malice, self-pity, villainy, and deceit were about to destroy everything. These evils came to the English House [in Antwerp], wholly uninvited, in the form of an egregious Englishman, Henry Philips” (William Tyndale, 361). Philips had won Tyndale’s trust over some months and then betrayed him to the authorities, who locked him in Vilvorde Castle, six miles north of Brussels. Here Tyndale stayed for the final eighteen months of his life.

Cost of Spreading the Gospel

Tyndale’s verdict was sealed in August 1536. He was formally condemned as a heretic and degraded from the priesthood. Then in early October (traditionally October 6), he was tied to the stake and then strangled by the executioner, then afterward consumed in the fire. Foxe reports that his last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” He was 42 years old, never married, and never buried.

His closing words to us are clear from his life and from his writings. Following God’s call in accomplishing the spread of his saving gospel is often very costly. I will let him speak in his own words from his book The Obedience of a Christian Man:

If God promise riches, the way thereto is poverty. Whom he loveth he chasteneth, whom he exalteth, he casteth down, whom he saveth he damneth first; he bringeth no man to heaven except he send him to hell first. If he promise life, he slayeth it first; when he buildeth, he casteth all down first. He is no patcher; he cannot build on another man’s foundation. He will not work until all be past remedy and brought unto such a case, that men may see how that his hand, his power, his mercy, his goodness and truth hath wrought all together. He will let no man be partaker with him of his praise and glory. (6)

So let Tyndale’s very last word to us be the last word he sent to his best friend, John Frith, in a letter just before Frith was burned alive for believing and speaking the truth of Scripture (recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs):

Hereby have we perceived love, that he had lain down his life for us; therefore we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren. . . . Let not your body faint. . . . If the pain be above your strength, remember, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will give it you. And pray to our Father in that name, and he will ease your pain, or shorten it. . . . Amen.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-bible-was-his-only-crime

How Can I Help You?

Read Mark 10:43–52

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” —Mark 10:51

Seminary president Haddon Robinson met with a wealthy donor to seek a sizable contribution. When Robinson asked for a specific amount, the donor replied: “I was prepared to give you much more if you had asked.”

This story reminds us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). It’s vital for us to bring our requests to God, because He delights to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:11). We can freely share our requests with Him, remembering that they should reflect our seeking after His kingdom above all else. Then God in His wisdom will give us what we truly need—not just what we want (6:33). Let’s continue to seek after God and to fulfill our mission within His kingdom, and as we do, let’s bring our requests to Him. He may be prepared to provide even more than we ask for (Ephesians 3:20).

-Marlena

A prayer for boldness

 

Dear Lord, help me to approach you with boldness and confidence and without doubt, especially in times such as this. Help me to know that you are always ready to do more than I can ask or even imagine. Let my confidence in your abilities outgrow my doubts and fears, in Jesus Name. ~ Amen

Original here

Meaning of “Salt Of The Earth”!

April 7, 2020 hephzibahgarden

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matthew‬ ‭5:13‬

SALT 🧂 – (Also known as common salt), is a white crystalline substance, obtained through a process of evaporating seawater. It plays an essential part in every household as an important item because it is used for seasoning and preserving food specially meat for a longer period of time.

The natural extraction of salt involves capturing salt water in shallow ponds/pits and then allowed to evaporate naturally by exposing it to the sun and wind. During the process, a salt bed is formed inside the pit, which is then extracted, purified, screened and packaged.

Alright…!! Now moving onto what the Scriptures teaches us about being the Salt of the Earth !!

Jesus also compared Himself to being the Salt of the earth before asking us to be. If we don’t become the salt of the earth, we will become the Pillar of Salt like Lot’s Wife.

  • Sea (from which salt water is got) refers to the world – God separated and brought us out from the world
  • The shallow pond/pit refers to fellowship God has placed us. He brought us into this pit to shape us there
  • Sun’s rays – God’s righteousness made to shine upon us thereby evaporating the filthiness found in us
  • Wind – various trials and temptations which God allows in our lives to mould and shape us
  • Finally the salt seen down below in the pit as a slab – divine and beautiful characters of Jesus finally formed within us by being taken through these narrow paths
  • Salt refers to living in peace with one another (Mark 9:50), refers to being sanctified through fiery trials (Mark 9:49), refers to being savoury, tasty, a blessing for others (Job6:6), refers to our words being full of grace (Colossians 4:6), refers to the covenants we make with God (Numbers 18:19)

(.. to be continued)

Original here

Unplanned Change

Read Psalm 37:1–24

‘The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.’ —Psalm 37:23

A few years ago, our county’s board of education decided not to renew our church’s lease of the school building where we met every Sunday. Shocked, we considered other venues but couldn’t find anything suitable for a while. When we planted the church, we understood the unpredictability of using a shared facility. But we hadn’t planned on this. Plans are doors of hope to what we believe God would have us do. David knew the importance of giving our plans to God: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:5). Instead of being overwhelmed by the coming change, it was important for my husband and me to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (V. 7).

Surrendering our plans to God doesn’t mean He will fulfill them the way we would like, but He does direct the “steps of the one who delights in him” (V. 23). When we trust Him in the midst of the unplanned, He takes unexpected changes and transforms them into opportunities for us to grow our faith.

-Regina

A prayer for faith

 

Dear Lord, we thank you that you are the God who never changes. Amid these fast-changing times which shift everyday give us the faith to look unto You, to keep our eye upon You and seek Your counsel regarding our future and our families, even when things don’t go our way ~ Amen

 

Original here

Earthly fathers and heavenly fathers

Earthly father’s and our heavenly father have similar desires.

Father’s Day

Luke 15:11-32

Let’s start with a little trivia this morning. What day of the year are the most phone calls made???…… Mother’s day! It seems that on mother’s day everyone wants to call home and check in.

What do you think happens on father’s day? Any one want to make a Guess?

Fathers day it known for the most ….. Collect Calls.

A small boy said, “Father’s Day is just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the gift.”

For the most part, Mom’s are blessed with the special ability of nurture and healing. They can often heal the body and soul of life’s hurts.

Father’s day seems like a day set aside as someone’s attempt of giving dads equal time. I know it was done with the right heart. But, it has never had the draw and impact that mother’s day has enjoyed.

–Two children came home from school and started begging their mother to allow them to take ownership of the classroom pet. This wonderful creature that the children wanted so much was a hamster named Davie.

Mom kept saying no and had plenty of good reason why the children could not bring Davie home.

It finally came down to an explanation that a pet is a lot of responsibility and work. As children do, they both promised to do everything to take care of Davie. And after hours of begging and promises Mom said, yes.

But she made it very clear that if the children stopped taking proper care that she would quickly make arrangements to find Davie a new home.

It had only been a couple of weeks when Mom had to constantly remind the children about feeding and watering and cleaning up. About two more weeks passed and mom started making calls and found a home for Davie.

She went into the living room to tell the children about her decision. She told them that Davie had become a lot of work for just one person. That they had not been much of help and that she found him a new home.

She was surprised when the children did not seem bothered by her announcement.

Then her daughter said, is it because he eats too much? Maybe they could find a way to help him eat less.

Mom said, that it was not the eating so much as the mess and the smell. And then there was all the extra work that she had to do cleaning up. The children seemed to understand and nodded in a sort of agreement and turned back toward their TV program. Mom went and picked up Davies’s cage and assorted supplies and headed back through the living room.

The kids saw her carrying the cage and started shouting, hey, what are you doing with Davie?

Mom responded, We just talked about this. Because of all the extra work and having to do it all by herself she had found Davie a new home.

The children said, “No not Davie, we thought you said daddy.”

Dads are different, Dads just seen to be like some of the tools in the garage that are just sitting there until you need them.

The current culture likes to laugh at dads and poke fun in all kinds of ways at the dads that are involved with their children. A bit different from the TV shows form the 50s and 60s where dad was a guide and had wisdom and reason.

We have gone from a time of TV character dads like Ward Cleaver, Ozzie Nelson, Howard Cunningham, and Mike Brady to Archie bunker, Al Bundy, and Homer Simpson.

I wonder how that has directly affected many young men’s view of fatherhood.

To modify a common phrase, “Dad’s don’t get no respect.”

We are not really talking about the ills of TV and culture today. We are here to consider our dads.

Dads are normally very different than moms and tend to be the one to fix broken stuff, solve certain logical problems, act as the provider and defender of the family, especially daughters.

I believe that most of us use our own fathers as a guide on what we believe God is like. If your father was distant or not there you probably feel that God is the same way.

Some of us have a real fear of our fathers. We fear punishment and rejection.

(Wait until your daddy Gets Home!) Dad was often used as the ultimate punishment machine. Some believe God is just waiting us for all of our mistakes.

OR for some, we may have found that we could not be good enough.

Perhaps it was grades, or friends and or any choices in your life that were judged harshly. And you just can’t see how you can satisfy your dad. We feel like God is disappointed in us.

Perhaps it was or is some combination of good and bad traits that you think of when you think about your dad.

Let me just say that it is unfair to God to use an earthly standard to judge what he is like and that the bible is our best source of insight into what our heavenly father is like.

– But I do believe that scripture suggest what an earthly father should be like.

In our scripture today, we have the story of a dad and two sons. It is a parable told by Jesus to illustrate what God was like when his children stray. It is about what God wants.

It describes family relationships and how different members act.

If we think about it, you can probably find your place in the story.

– Some of us may look at our life right now and realize that we thought we were grownup and we moved out to make our own mistakes.

– Others may feel that we have stayed with the family and have done the best we can with all kinds of limits on our lives.

– Some of us loosely see ourselves in the dad position and we are doing the best we know how.

In our scripture, the father, gives his younger son, what the asked. He hands over his share of what would one day be his inheritance.

I am not sure that it is the giving of the inheritance that is the point. It is the gift of freedom and the ability to go that is the action.

Dads want to give their kids the things they want. They want their children to be happy. They want their children to become independent.

— Dads will let you make a mistake and hope you will learn from it.

Dads will love you through your pain and suffering, many times never saying a word, perhaps not knowing what to say.

I believe that the story indicates that our heavenly father fives us free will. He allows us the freedom to choose. He could control us, and make the path easy to choose Him but, he keeps just enough distance that we had a choice…..

So if we are to be like our heavenly father we should do the same thing.

Dads should to allow us to make choices for ourselves. Humm that is not at all easy….

In Jesus’ story the son comes running back home, but only after messing up royally.

In the story, the father is looking down the road, almost as if he expected or longing for the son to come home.

And when it happens, he meets him down the road. And is happy to see him and accept him back as a son.

Let me remind you that Jesus is talking about his/our heavenly father and not an earthly one. He is talking about a perfect father and not an earthly one.

I know more than one father that has accepted their children back home in this way. Sometimes they come home with Grandchildren in tow. …… and a lot of emotional baggage that everyone involved would prefer to ignore.

My thought this morning is that ….as an earthly dad my goal is to be like our heavenly father.

—-Man what big shoes to try to slip my feet into.

I don’t know if I can come anywhere close to the father in this story. I don’t know that I can be like the men I know that have already lived a similar story in real life.

I fear that as my children grow up and if they make some big mistakes in their lives I am going to be tempted to say I TOLD you SO!

What scares me most, I Fear I will make it hard for my kids to come home after they make a big mistake.

As a dad I am also likely to choose a favorite. I might say something like why can’t you be like your brother. Stay here near home, work hard, make a life for yourself.

As the earthly dad, it is really easy to try to make a comparison between the kids. Use one against the other to try to influence and control.

But, even the kids at home can have problems with dad.

Perhaps we kept them from becoming independent. We sheltered them and did not prepare them for the real world, maybe we were over protective.

Maybe we should have encouraged some independence and just a little risk taking.

— Maybe this is just something I hope is true…but, I don’t think that there are any perfect earthly dads.

However, I still think God wants me to be like the father in the story.

In my heart I want to be like the dad in this story, to be a perfect dad.

But I know I am human.

But what is the difference between God and myself. In this parable we see a father that has a divine love.

I see a father that can always do the right thing because He is God. He, as my father, and I know I am not like that. I know I am making mistakes and getting deeper and deeper into trouble.

Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of 14 my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man learned in 7 years.”

For us being a father is a learning process. We get help from scripture and other men we know. In the process me may feel like some of the dads we see on today TV shows.

And then we come to father’s day and our families want to offer us acknowledgement and even some kind of a simple reward.

The family worries about what to get for father’s day….They wonder

Are we looking for a special Tie, chosen by our children, something that represents their love for us or some aspect of our personality?

Do we want a new multi-function remote control that will operate every appliance in our house?

Do we want breakfast in bed or to go out to lunch?

Maybe it is Sports illustrated Magazine or some special power tool?

I guess I should make this a personal answer and unfortunately It is not something that the family can give me. ….

I want to be a better father. I would like to be a perfect father like I see God being. Wisdom, vision, perfect love and know just what to say and do in any situation.

What does the story suggest that a dad wants?

They want to know their children are doing well and are not suffering.

They want their children to know that that can come home.

The want their children to we wise and equipped to face the world.

— God has the wisdom to let us learn the hard way, and the love to welcome us back anytime we goof up, no matter how bad.

God never sez I told you so.

God is God, and God is the perfect father.

When we go off to a far country, never expecting to return, he waits, Not patiently but anxiously for our return.

What an earthly father wants is the same as the heavenly father.

But they are at a disadvantage, we love to be perfect, but most know they aren’t.

Just like the heavenly father they wait anxiously for the phone to ring, and are more than willing to accept the charges to hear from their children.

Because, you know your mom worries, if we don’t hear from you……

Our God would love to hear from all of you on this father’s Day!

Call… call collect and often; because, you know he worries.

There is nothing He likes more that to hear from you!

All Glory be to God!

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/father-s-day-thomas-bowen-sermon-on-father-s-day-126016

 

A young father pacing back and forth

A young father to be was pacing back and forth, wringing his hands in the hospital corridor while his wife was in labor. He was tied up in knots of fear and anxiety…and beads of perspiration dropping from his brow revealed the agony of his suffering

FATHER’S DAY

1 Timothy 2:8

A young father to be was pacing back and forth, wringing his hands in the hospital corridor while his wife was in labor. He was tied up in knots of fear and anxiety…and beads of perspiration dropping from his brow revealed the agony of his suffering.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. a nurse popped out of a door and said, “Well, sir, you have a little girl.” He dropped his hands, became limp, and said, “Oh how I thank God its a girl. She’ll never have to go through the awful agony I’ve had to go through tonight.”

It’s tough being a father…and in honor of this special day I want to speak to those who are blessed with such a great privilege. But, as you might expect…I want to look at things from a different perspective.

Actually, I want to address not just fathers, but men in general. And even though this is a day when father’s usually receive a gift of some kind…I want to speak about a gift father’s should give … a very precious gift…a gift for their children…but mostly for themselves.

It is very difficult being a man in the 1990’s. And the reason I think it is so difficult is because of the way men were raised in generations past. Face it…the days of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best are gone. Men go places…do things…dress, act and think in ways they never would have when I was a kid.

40 years ago, when I was just a toddler, its not likely that you’d have seen many men with long hair tied in a pony tail, wearing an earring. And that is not some sissy I’m referring to…Steven Segal is rated as one of the top action heroes today. And don’t get me wrong…I’m not coming down against any of these things. My point is this…times have changed.

Men today are different in many ways. And we could all make quite a list of the changes that have taken place over the past few generations. And there are many positive changes that have come about in men. But in spite of many positive changes…there are some things about men that change very little.

It has been said that almost any man can father a child…but only special ones can be a dad. And I want to say this morning that dads are special people. I’ve had many heroes over the years…The Lone Ranger…Superman…John Wayne, just to name a few. But my first hero was my dad.

When I faced difficult times as a youngster, none of my other heroes could help me…but dad was always there. He couldn’t leap tall buildings with a single bound…or shoot 37 shots from a 6 shooter without reloading…but he was always there…always caring. And I know some of you could spend hours sharing wonderful things about your fathers.

And yet, there is something that was so common with that generation of men that for the most part has been handed down throughout many generations…right down to ours today… something that I think is the greatest disservice done to the men of this and future generations.

They were taught that men never show tender affection…or emotion…or anything that would be interpreted as weakness. Men must be strong…proud…tough! I was raised in a generation that seldom saw men show affection with their wives. I remember seeing my dad give mom a peck on the cheek when he left the house…but I never heard him say to her, “I love you.”

I never saw them hold hands in public. I never remember seeing flowers or a gift without it being a birthday or Christmas. But more importantly, I never heard him talk about things that went beyond surface things…like bills , or the weather, or the latest crisis in the news.

I never saw my dad share his hurts and fears…or just share his feelings about life, and family…and God. And its not that he was a cold, hard creature with no feelings. My dad is a sensitive, caring man who is no different in most ways that any of us. He just never was taught the need for intimacy in relationships.

Todays men have come quite a ways since then…but yet in things that matter the most, very little has changed for the average household. I’ve come to believe that one of the most important things that a man can give to his child is the godly example of intimate relationships.

And of course, first and foremost would be a personal, intimate relationship with God. And the reason a relationship with God is so important is because that is what sets the stage for other successful relationships. And other intimate relationships are also very important.

Read with me from Paul’s first letter to Timothy…chapter 2:8…as the apostle expresses his prayer for Christian men in a graphic picture. (READ)

This text calls for men with an open commitment to the living reality of God’s person and His presence. The phrase “lift up holy hands without anger or disputing” simply seeks a man who has discovered a confidence in his relationship with the Lord.

This is a man who doesn’t come strutting into God’s presence…but one who comes with holy hands…hands that have something happen to them. They’ve been transformed. This is a man who comes to the Lord with an openness and recognition…knowing that he is received and accepted by the Father…Almighty God!

Paul is saying, “I wish men were like this…men of faith and men of self control. Men who would not doubt and would not be possessed by anger. This is a biblical call to a real relationship…to a friendship with God…to be able to call Him for everything. It’s a call to intimate friendship.

I like the way Jack Hayford describes it…He says: It’s as if God drank coffee…and you’d feel comfortable coming to Him…and you’d pour Him a cup, and then, as you sat there you’d pour out your heart as well. Imagine it…just the 2 of you…God and son…sitting there over coffee, as friends, sharing the deepest thoughts of your heart.

A man with a real, personal relationship with God will learn that his walk with God allows for such “pouring out” …for emptying anger, pride, lust or anything else eating at him. And God doesn’t see this as if you’re flinging stuff in His face…or like you’re putting Him at fault…or like your failures have made it impossible to be up front with Him.

Actually, this pouring out is learning to “cast all our care upon Him for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). There is a big difference between simply being saved as great as that is and walking with God in friendship. When we have that kind of relationship God becomes included in everything in your life.

This “face to face” kind of relationship is what is at the center of Christ’s heart for men. Note how Jesus, after walking with His disciples for 3 years one day said, “No longer do I call you servants…but I call you friends” (John 15:15). That is the kind of relationship Jesus wants each of you to have with Him.

But…the problem is that just about everything in our lives as men seems to work against that. And there are three things that seem to work against the possibility of really having a confident relationship with God…which enables us to have that type of relationship with our children … as well as other men.

1. The painful absence of models. When I speak of a role model…I wonder how many of you men have ever had someone to follow…someone you could watch in your formative years about which you could have said, “That’s how a godly man is supposed to live!”

Did you have anyone to watch who showed you a model of a man with peaceful, genuine, confidence in his relationship with God…and his relationships with others…someone about whom you could say, “I want to be just like him!”?

I’ve heard many horror stories of authority figures…potential role models, who failed. They were fathers and teachers who violated or brutalized people…relatives who mocked or neglected family members or pastors who seemed like such good guys but turned out to be dishonest or immoral. Young minds get burned by corrupt images…and their hope of just plain “good, honest manhood” withers and dies…often very quickly.

Or maybe you had a good role model..but didn’t have the opportunity to get close enough. There was a quiet distance between you and him…like seeing the Grand Canyon but never being able to cross…nice view, but no touch…no warmth.

Maybe some of you grew up with a woman as your only leadership model. Not minimizing the worth of a woman’s influence…but you still didn’t have a man to show you the way to manhood. And without that, many men don’t know how to respond as a godly man to life’s situations…or even be a good role model for their own child.

2. The second thing is the ever growing presence of corruption. Most of you men here this morning will go to a place of business tomorrow. And there most will be surrounded by the lewd…the corrupt and the foul. It may be a pornographic desk calendar…obscene posters…crude speech..sexual innuendos..or coarse jokes. The air is blue w/ profanity or suggestiveness…and impurity is always present.

Or the corrupt may be business oriented…the boss wanting you to sell a half truth…or fudge on accuracy in reported figures. Even if you are a man who wants to walk with God, the surroundings almost make the corruption ooze into our very soul.

3. And the 3rd thing is the consciousness of our own failure. All of us sin…we all fail. Our sins may have been private and shielded…or very public and well known. And we may have already come to the Lord and repented and know we’ve been forgiven. But still the mind is riveted to those scenes of failure. God forgives but often we can’t forgive ourselves.

And this is where the intimate friendship with God…but also with other men is so necessary. We need the presence of one who will listen…and understand…and be able to help us as we allow God to heal, restore and bring about victory.

One of the greatest voids in this church is men who not only have a relationship with God…but also who are open to developing real intimate relationships with each other…one that will be an example to their children and to the world.

Let me read you a story I shared at our last men’s breakfast as a way of illustrating what I’m trying to share:

Tom, Jim and Steve had been hunting buddies for ages. Every chance they got, they would go out for deer, ducks, and birds. Whatever the season, they would hunt together. Each of them thought of each other as best friends. They would often say they could talk about anything they wanted in this group, until one Friday afternoon when all of that changed.

Tom tells the story: “I remember it was a Friday, and we were all going to take off work at noon so we could drive out, set up camp, and be ready to go first thing in the morning. I had a 4 wheel drive truck, so the plan was that I would pick everyone up. Steve lived farthest out, so we always picked him up last.

As it turned out, I didn’t get away from work as early as I had hoped, and by the time I got Jim we were running about an hour late. We pulled up in front of Steve’s place and honked a couple of times. Usually he would come running out, yelling about us being late…but this time there was no sight of him.

I saw his gear back by the garage and I thought maybe he didn’t hear us. Jim stayed in the truck while I went around to get him. He was in the back yard and he was dead. He had taken his shotgun, put the muzzle in his mouth, and with a piece of wood, pushed the trigger down and blew the back of his head away. He left a note near his body. It said, “I’m sorry. There is no one to talk to.”

At first I was just terribly angry. How could he do this? How could he say there was no one to talk to when there was me? I felt like I could have helped him, no matter what it was. At least I thought I could. Only later did it hit me that I didn’t really know if we could really talk about anything or not…because we never really talked about much that was personal.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how much I was responsible for what Steve did…because I wasn’t the kind of friend he needed. I think I know what Steve meant when he wrote, ‘There was no one to talk to.’

As close as I thought we were, I’ve come to see that we were never there for each other to talk to. Oh, we were there to do things with…hunt, fish, drink, play cards…but we were never there to talk about the things we were feeling…the things that make you wonder whether or not life was worth living.

I think now that what we called friendship wasn’t really anything more than a casual and comfortable kind of acquaintance where we shared certain things at certain times…but we never shared ourselves. Maybe all relationships are like that.

Lately I’ve really tried to be more open with people, especially men. I’ve tried to build the kind of friendship Steve needed…because I believe I need that too. So far it hasn’t worked out to well. Men get anxious when you talk about feelings…and it seems the harder I try to get close, the faster guys pull away. Maybe I am going to fast. But for Pete’s sake, if you go to slow, you may never get there…or when you do its too late…like it was for Steve.”

Although this is a tragic story…many of us can identify with these men. We have a desire for strong friendships with other men…friendships that can withstand the tests of hard times…one that will make a difference in all of the times of our lives. Yet we are frustrated with what actually happens.

Some of us, like Tom, have a lot of acquaintances. We are open to strengthening these relationships…but we don’t know how.

Others of us are not at all sure that there is a real need for these kinds of relationships.

Still others of us have an uncomfortable feeling of being isolated..and are looking for ways to get connected with other people.

Some of us have enjoyed close friendships in the past and want to establish new relationships of this kind.

There are 3 basic levels of relationship…and I want each of you…but especially the men, to see which typifies your relationships. Level one: Acquaintance. This is when you know another man only because of proximity. He might be your neighbor…and you talk over the fence…borrow a ladder, etc. But if he would move to Albuquerque you’d no longer have any contact with him.

Men have numerous acquaintances…at work…in the neighborhood…at church…on the ball team…in laws and out laws…friends of your wives that you meet at get togethers. These are relationships of convenience, courtesy and just general politeness. The conversation usually stays on safe topics…like weather, work, economy, home repairs, etc….topics that have low emotional content.

Level two: Companionship. Companionship is like the Three Musketeers. They were a group of men who trusted each other to do the task set before them. While they never had a discussion about their vulnerabilities or emotional struggles, they did have a great time going into battle together.

Companions share a task or goal and they schedule time to do that. Men join softball leagues…service organizations…clubs…and other groups that get them together with other men who have similar interests. Tom, Jim and Steve were companions.

Level three: Intimate friendships. These are relationships where the real you is known by another person. Not only does this person feel free to tell you everything…you can also tell everything to him. This comes as a result of respect, trust and time spent together.

It is very uncommon among men because it requires a large investment of time and attention…trust…conversation…self disclosure…and the opposite of our normal male competitiveness. While it is uncomfortable for most men…the closeness and oneness that results is incredibly valuable.

This morning I want to challenge each man here. I want to challenge you first of all to seek after and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ that goes beyond just going to church…that goes beyond making sure of heaven. One where time is spent in fellowship and communion…where thoughts and feelings are shared…one of trust and commitment.

Second, I want to challenge you to develop a godly, intimate relationship with other men who share your common biblical beliefs…men who can fellowship…listen…encourage… even counsel…men who will be a faithful friend.

And third…I want to challenge you to share these needs and important truths with your children…especially if you have a son no matter what age they may be. Teach your sons that intimacy with God and with others is not for sissy’s…it is a matter of emotional health and well being…as we saw with Steve…at times its a matter of life and death.

I hope each of you men have a very special Father’s Day today. I hope you get the appropriate recognition…and a gift would be nice as well. But most of all I hope you’ll give yourself the greatest gift you could ever receive…an intimate relationship with the Savior…an intimate relationship with another Christian brother…and the ability to teach your child the way to wholeness in the process.

Today is the day men…begin today

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/father-s-day-gregory-mc-donald-sermon-on-father-s-day-144124

Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children

Notice that one of the responsibilities of John the Baptist was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” If ever there was a time that this needed to happen it is now.

A few Sunday’s ago I passed out a piece of paper on in that asked 2 questions: (1) What is a Father or Dad?; (2) What does your Father or Dad mean to you? Seven people responded & I am going to let their responses help me preach my sermon today as we honor our fathers.

Let me begin by reading something to you by Martha Bolton titled: What Is Fatherhood?

What Is Fatherhood?

Fatherhood is…getting to go anywhere you want for Father’s Day, getting to drive there, and even get-

ting to pay the bill!

It’s getting up in the middle of the night to see what the noise was outside, when you’d really rather stay in bed and hide, like everyone else.

It’s the best excise in the world to buy all those toys you wanted as a child and never got.

It’s catching yourself watching cartoons when no one else is home, and enjoying them.

It’s biting your tongue and remembering to be a good example when someone cuts you off on the highway.

It’s playing Santa at midnight on Christmas Eve, then paying for the privilege at 22% interest for 36 consecutive months.

It’s assembling toys that require one screwdriver and a nuclear physicist to assemble.

It’s praying for, hoping for, and anxiously looking forward to the day when your kids will be out of the house and on their own…and then trying to postpone that day as long as possible when it approaches.

It’s carrying sleepy kids into the house when you’re too tired to even carry yourself in.

Yes, fatherhood is sometimes a thankless job of fixing kites, breaking up fights, wiping up chocolate milk.

It’s dental bills, broken arms, and skateboards.

But today, Dad, we want to say we appreciate you, and all you do!

Notice that one of the responsibilities of John the Baptist was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” If ever there was a time that this needed to happen it is now. I know we talk of how the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that controls the world, when we are talking about mothers. But I would like to suggest to you that the reason this world and the reason this nation and the reason the church is in the condition it is in is because of our fathers. Fathers who don’t have their hearts turned to their children. Fathers who have never put their arm around their child and told them that they love them. Fathers who have never showed their emotions in front of their children (many children have never seen their father cry). Fathers who have never taken their children to church or sent them to Sunday School and didn’t go with them. Fathers who have walked out on the family. Fathers who have never led their children in prayer or never prayed for them. Fathers who have time for everything in the world but never have time for their children.

Now let me share with you some of the answers to the question I asked, What is a Father or Dad?

Kelly Lee says, “A person that loves and takes care of you.”

Wendy Morgan says, “A father is someone who cares about you. They spend time with you and loves you, but most importantly a father should live a life as an example for their child.”

Michelle Lee says, “A special person in your life.”

An unknown person says, “A Dad is someone who loves you no matter what; who takes care of you; who provides for you; who spends time with you, even though he’d rather be doing something else.”

Rita Lee says, “A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow. He is supposed to set the Godly example before his children.”

Vicki Lee says, “A Dad is someone who loves you, takes care of you and supports you no matter what.”

Cathy Morgan says, “A Dad is a male role model, who is always there, not only in the good times, but the bad times as well. He is someone who loves you with all his heart and would do anything to make you happy.”

The father commanded a high position in the family of O.T. times; his word was law. In addition, the Hebrew word translated into English as husband actually means “lord,” “master,” “owner,” or “possessor” (Gen. 18:12; Hos. 2:16). Because of his position, shared to some degree with his wife, a man expected to be treated as royalty by the rest of his family. The fifth commandment carries this idea of the importance of the parents one step further when it states, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). The word honor often refers to one’s response to God. In other words, this commandment suggests that the parents should receive a recognition similar to that given to God.

Along with the honor of the position as head of the family, the father was expected to assume certain responsibilities. These responsibilities can be classified into 3 categories which I believe was seen in the response of the question I asked: spiritual, social, & economic.

First of all, the father was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the family, as well as the individual members of the family. In the earliest ages, the father functioned as the priest of his family, sacrificing on their behalf (Genesis 12:8Job 1:5). Later, when a priesthood was established in Israel and the layman no longer functioned at an altar, the father’s spiritual role was redefined. he continued to be the religious leader in the home. This involved the training of the children in godliness.

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The Living Bible puts it this way, “Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”

Socially, the father’s responsibility was to see that no one took advantage of any member of his family. Those who were not protected by a father were truly disadvantaged persons. The two most common categories of “fatherless” people were widows and orphans. Four specific duties of a father toward his son, as stated in the Jewish writings, were to have the son circumcised; to pass on his inheritance to his firstborn son; to find his son a wife; and to teach him a trade.

Economically, the father was to provide for the needs of the various members of his family. From time to time, however, a lazy person failed to provide for his family. conscientious men sought to mock the lazy man, shaming him to do what was expected of him:

Proverbs 6:6-11 – “(6) Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! (7) For though they have no king to make them work, (8) yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. (9) But you – all you do is sleep. When will you wake up? (10) ‘Let me sleep a little longer!’ Sure, just a little more! (11) And as you sleep, poverty creeps upon you like a robber and destroys you; want attacks you in full armor.” (TLB)

The apostle Paul rebuked those who considered themselves Christian but who did not look after the needs of their families:

1 Timothy 5:8 – “But it anyone does not provide for his own, especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

The Living Bible: “But anyone who won’t care for his own relatives when they need help, especially those living in his own family, has no right to say he is a Christian. Such a person is worse than the heathen.”

Also we learn not only form the responses of those who responded from my question but we learn from the Scripture that Fathers are to be an example, a godly example to follow.

Two Scripture references, one bad the other good:

1 Kings 15: 25, 26 – “Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa King of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. (26) and he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.”

1 Kings 15:1-3 – “(1) In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. (2) he was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. (3) and he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.”

It is important that we be a good example because of what happen to Judah and what is said concerning their sin: “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars” (Jeremiah 17:1).

Now let me close with a tribute to the Fathers of those who responded to the question: What does your Father or Dad mean to you?

Kelly Lee: “He takes good care of me. If I want something he will get it for me. And he comforts me.”

Wendy Morgan:”My dad is my friend. he is someone who I joke with and love.”

Michelle Lee:”He is a special person.”

Unknown: “My dad is deceased. But I remember how much he loved not only me but all of his other children. He did not always say it in words, but by his actions. He took care of, and provided for us in good times and in bad times.

Rita Lee: “My dad means the world to me. He loves me and supports me. My dad has set the example and the way before me. he is a Christian and I will always look up to my dad.”

Vicki Lee: “My father means the world to me. I love him very much.

Cathy Morgan: “My dad means everything to me. I’m his little girl who enjoys spending time with him, especially when fishing. I appreciate that I have a dad, because my dad basically grew up without one. I wouldn’t trade my dad for anything in this world. my dad is a great role model and a very good person to look up to.

Let me close with this reading:

Father’s day Is a Special Day

Father’s Day is a special day When we remember Dad, But God was the only Father That Jesus ever had.

And when he was a little boy He loved His Father so, That he desired to please him Wherever he would go.

So, this Father’s Day, like Jesus-Honor Dad in all you do,And reflect the love of Jesus for the Heavenly Father too.

Harry C. Baxindine III

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4 Ways Martin Luther Encourages Pastors to Pray

By Mark Rogers -March 5, 2019

As I continue in pastoral ministry, I learn more and more that prayer is my most essential work. Any real, spiritual, eternal fruit from my life and church will come from God. Too often we have not, because we ask not.

And yet, though I’ve learned that prayer is a non-negotiable, I’ve also learned that I must fight to stay faithful in prayer. After all, others won’t know if I’m not praying. Nobody will complain if I give up secret prayer every day. Therefore, I need regular encouragement, instruction and inspiration to keep from sliding into prayerlessness.

Thankfully, I often find the encouragement I need in the writings of Martin Luther. As a fellow pastor, Luther provides a treasure of wisdom and insight on prayer. Here are just a few of the many jewels.

1. Pray as a justified sinner.

Luther warned that we must not think our goodness gains us a hearing with God, or that our prayers merit God’s favor. To the contrary, he writes, “We are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it.”[1] Luther understood he was a sinner, but he was just as convinced that God had declared him righteous in Christ. A justified sinner’s prayer flows from “the spirit of grace, which says: ‘I have lived my best; therefore I implore Thee not to regard my life and my conduct, but Thy mercy and compassion promised me in Christ, and because of this to grant me the fulfillment of my prayer.’”[2]

2. Remember: You are in a fight against the devil and human weakness.

Luther knew that we not only should pray, we must pray.

We who would be Christians must surely expect to have the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies and must expect that they will inflict every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where God’s Word is preached, accepted or believed, and bears fruit, there the holy and precious cross will also not be far behind.[3]

We must never think we are strong enough to overcome the devil’s opposition on our own. For “such is life that one stands today and falls tomorrow.”[4] Luther’s purpose in talking about the devil and human weakness was to drive people away from self-reliance and toward God: “We are far too weak against the devil and all his might and forces arrayed against us, trying to trample us underfoot.” Since this is true, “There is nothing for us to do on earth but to pray without ceasing against this archenemy. For if God did not support us, we would not be safe from him for a single hour.”[5] That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.”

3. Don’t despair or try to escape. Instead, lean into your needs.

Pastors are regularly presented with needs we feel helpless to meet, problems we’re inadequate to solve, and weaknesses that won’t go away. If we’re not careful, these challenges can drive us to discouragement and tempt us to escape.

Luther suggested a different approach. Rather than despair or escape, our needs ought to make us prayerful:

We must feel our need, the distress that drives and impels us to cry out. Then prayer will come spontaneously, as it should, and no one will need to be taught how to prepare for it or how to create the proper devotion. … For we are all lacking plenty of things: all that is missing is that we do not feel or see them.[6]

4. Use the Bible as a prayer guide.

Finally, Luther taught people how to pray from and through and based on the Bible. In his little book, A Simple Way to Pray, he encouraged people to use the Ten Commandments as a guide for prayer. He wrote of his own personal prayer time as an example, explaining how he meditated on each commandment, moving from prayerful reflection, to confession, and then to petition for God’s help to obey.

While Luther warned against the rote recitation of memorized prayers, he also frequently taught Christians to use the Lord’s Prayer to prompt and guide their prayers. His goal was a spontaneous and continuous prayer life, shaped by immersive meditation on the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and other Scriptures. “Behold, you could repulse the devil and all his false suggestions by basing your prayer on these three things: God’s command, His promise, and the manner and words Christ Himself taught.”[7]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Luther, Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, Book of Concord, 358.

[2] Luther, “Sermons on the Gospel of St. John,” LW 24:88; WA 45:541.3–9.

[3] Luther, Large Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, Book of Concord, 448–49.

[4] Luther, Large Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, Book of Concord 453, 455.

[5] Ibid., 444, 455–56.

[6] Ibid., 444.

[7] Ibid., LW 24:387, 388; WA 46:79.28ff, 46:81.1-4.

Original here

The Bridge Builder

Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway,

Came, at the evening cold and gray,

To a chasm vast and deep and wide.

Through which was flowing a sullen tide

The old man crossed in the twilight dim,

The sullen stream had no fear for him;

But he turned when safe on the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

 

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“You are wasting your strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day,

You never again will pass this way;

You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,

Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

 

The builder lifted his old gray head;

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followed after me to-day

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm that has been as naught to me

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

 

Who are you building a bridge for?