In Joel 1:15 we read:-
Alas for that day!
For the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
The shocking thing about this verse is that we read about destruction coming from the Almighty. We so very easily operate on a dualistic approach to life. This means that we determine that anything bad that comes into our lives comes from Satan and anything good comes from God. Verses like Joel 1:15 upset that reasoning. Here destruction (and that sounds pretty bad) comes from the Lord.
So our notions of a dualistic universe need to be corrected. A better way of expressing the reality of how things function is to say that this is a unitary universe with one Lord and King who determines all. He is the sovereign Lord.
Moreover, we read that the Lord did not just allow destruction He is the author of such destruction. If we have a thorough Biblical theology this should not surprise us because it is established that God’s whole nature is repulsed by sin. Sin is an offence to His holy being. Sin is a breaking of His holy law; that law reflects who God is through indicating what he loves and hates. When His law is broken His holy wrath comes forth and is poured out upon all those whose lives are contaminated by sin.
Thus we return to the day of the Lord which Joel speaks of. The day of the Lord is a time when God breaks openly in history. It is a time when the curtain which hides His workings is removed and His workings are “in your face”. What we see in Joel 1:15 is eternal judgement invading time. Today, we see, God’s workings hidden in so many ways. Faith can see them, but the natural eye does not. In the day of the Lord the activity of God are indisputable.
As we ponder on the reality of God’s judgment against sin and sinners, well might we be led to thanksgiving when we realise that all destruction from the Lord fell upon my Saviour, the Lord Jesus at Calvary. He was destroyed for me there, so that I might never need to be under destruction. Praise Him.
Iniquity has been accepted by our culture and one of the ways that is demonstrated is through the way certain concepts are now spoken of. So we start to hear and read about “his husband” and “her wife”, and as those terms start to get used regularly we can tend to get used to them and accept. But, wait-on everybody; this is an outrage! Marriage is between a man and a woman. So you can’t have “his husband” and “her wife”. Fellow believers in the Lord we need to be continually outraged about these developments and never accept them as the “norm”.
Another way in which the pollution of our culture is exhibited is in referring to a so-called trans-gendered man as a woman. We start to accept these things. James is now Julie and “he” is a “she”. But wait-on he is still a biological “he” no matter how much tampering has gone on with the genitalia.
Oh what a time we live in. And there is much pressure upon us to conform. Amidst these pressures there are no doubt many intricacies. But I feel, as much as lies within us, we should not bow to the prevailing culture, but rather should seek to honour the Lord by refusing to adopt these new ways of speaking.
Discipling is an ongoing task. That is both for myself and for others. So for myself I need to be relentlessly pushing forward to know my Master better and follow Him more closely. In dealing with others it means that I can never feel that I have so ministered into their lives so as to have them as the finished article in terms of following our Lord Jesus.
Discipling of course, has everything to do with following a Master. It means learning from that person and imbibing their teachings and lifestyle. In Christian discipling it is critically important that we are not making disciples for ourselves. Our business is to labour into our own lives and into the lives of others so that each are formed in the image of Christ. Paul is speaking about discipling work when he says in Colossians 1:28 that He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
If we ever think we have made it in discipling, that is in either becoming one ourselves or striving to make disciples of others then we are very wrong. None of us will be the finished article until glory dawns. Whenever I hear someone speaking of not needing further teaching on an issue then I am a little suspicious. We always need further teaching, we all need further rebuking, further exhorting. And we all need a continually good example around us. So becoming a disciple is never done in this life.
One of the most potent sources of stress I have found in pastoral ministry involves interacting with people. One particular facet of this appertains to how other people respond to situations in which I am involved. So much mental energy has been used up in pondering upon how other people will act, interact, engage respond etc. in a situation. Here are a few of the scenarios that can run through my mind:
- Will they get back to me in time are they upset about something?
- Why are they not interacting?
- Why do they not respond to expressions of interest/concern?
- Will they be awkward with me about this?
- Will they be angry with me the next time we meet?
It is a pressing need for me to grow in wisdom and spirituality so as to not be badly affected by all these machinations. So some things I need to drive into my mind and heart are:
- Have I been godly in my conduct? I cannot dictate the actions (or non-actions) and shenanigans of others. I am not answerable for others before God. But God calls me to be full of integrity and the fear of the Lord. The favour of the Lord is more important than whether or not I am being messed around by someone.
- If I have done something wrong I need to repent and ask forgiveness of that person.
- If someone has sinned against me that needs to be dealt with in a biblical way (see Matt. 18:15-18). It is no good lashing out in frustration.
- Talking can be so important. It can be my perception that I am being messed around by someone, but when I speak through the situation with the person I realize it was nothing of the sort.
- Love demonstrates that I want to help others grow in grace. If someone is failing in their conduct then I need to speak to them. However, I need to learn to always choose the cool of the moment and not the heat of the moment.
- There are times when matters have to be left and I simply have to move on. I cannot get aggravated and seek resolution to every perceived or real indiscretion of others. As Peter says in 1 Peter 4:8: love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- Remember that God is in control. If my plans and arrangements do not work out I can be sure that my Father has a better plan.
- I need to be continually praying to the Lord. I need to be casting all my care upon him. He really does care for me. Praise Him!
There is much written about what the phrase “faithful to his wife” (Titus 1:6b, 1 Tim. 3:2b) means in reference to the qualifications for an elder. It seems to me that a lot of the observations about the statement get bogged down in technicalities and intricacies and miss the sense of the text.
A key fact in understanding the text is to realise that what is being referred to is someone who qualified to be an elder of a church. It is someone who has a steady and reliable character.
Following on from our awareness of context is the awareness of how the text can legitimately be rendered. “One woman man” is very much within the bounds of legitimacy and fits the context very well.
The characteristic we are looking then is part of the photo-fit which defines someone suitable for eldership. That man is to be devoted to one woman. He only has eyes for his wife (although if could reasonably referred to fiance or girlfriend). A flirtatious man reveals a man to be unsteady and unreliable and that would be unbecoming of an elder. Such a man is not fit for eldership.
So we need men who are utterly devoted to their wives. They find all their delight for fellowship, companionship, support and sexual fulfillment in this one woman. This woman has no doubt that all his affection is upon her. How men need to cultivate this so that their eyes (and hearts) do not wander. And of course we need to pray.
It is a beautiful thing to see a man devoted to his wife after 40/50/60 years of marriage. That has to be cultivated; it does not just happen.
Here is our church newsletter for May 2017.
“Do you believe in evolution?” said Roger to his friend Peter who was married to Polly. To which Peter replied: “Yes.”
“Have you sought help for your difficulties then?” Roger inquired of Peter. “I don’t understand what you are saying,” retorted Peter, ” What difficulties are you referring to?” “The difficulties appertaining to you never having had sex with your wife” was Roger’s rejoinder.
Let us leave the conversation at that point and ponder upon why Roger was approaching this interaction in the way that he did. The essential issue here is how can anyone who has had sex believe in evolution. The various things that combine in sex and are associated with the coming together of a man and a woman in sexual union surely must dissuade anyone that such things have just come about through evolution. Let us consider some of the issues:
- Procreation. The fact that through sexual intercourse the human race is procreated make us to ponder upon how such an arrangement came about. The whole phenomenon of the male seed fertilising the woman’s egg are so intricate and amazing in their detail. To conclude that evolutionary forces have achieved that outcome seems impossible.
- Attraction. In being drawn together into sexual union the man responds to visual observation and the woman responds to touching and feeling. This is how attraction between a man and a woman happens. Men and women respond differently, but harmoniously as they are drawn into sexual union. Surely the random forces of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” could not have led to this.
- Compatibility. Here is the way in which the male and female bodies are completely compatible in order to bring about the sexual union.
- Binding. Then there are all the bindings that take place between the man and the woman at an emotional level through the giving of their bodies to one another in the sexual union. See here for further information on this.
All this leads me to my conclusion that for anyone who is aware of what takes place in the sexual act to argue that evolutionary processes have led to this seems bizarre. Surely it is more logical and sensible to argue that: “someone has done this.” There are the hands of a Creator all over the sexual union between a man and a woman. It cannot be blind evolutionary forces which have made it this way. Dare I say that when sex is pondered upon in all the reality of what happens when a man and a woman come together, it requires more faith to believe in evolution than in a Creator!
So how about commenting to the next person who says that they believe in evolution about their virginity and see what response you get?!?!
In all this we marvel with the psalmist about I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14)