Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Copper nails

David Kingston told this story on Sunday:

F. E. Marsh was a pastor of a New York church in the 1900’s. After he preached on the subject of stealing, a young man came to him and said, "Pastor, you have put me in a bad fix. I've stolen from my employer, and I'm ashamed to tell him about it. You see, I'm a boat builder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have often talked to him about Christ, but he only laughs at me. In my work, expensive copper nails are used because they won't rust in water. I've been taking some of them home for a boat I am building in my backyard. I'm afraid if I tell my boss what I've done and offer to pay for them, he'll think I'm a hypocrite, and I'll never be able to reach him for Christ. Yet, my conscience is bothered." Marsh counseled the young man to confess his sin, and this is what happened.

Later when the man saw the preacher again, he exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled that matter and I'm so relieved." "What happened when you told your boss?" asked the minister. "Oh, he looked at me intently and said, 'George, I've always thought you were a hypocrite, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe there's something to your Christianity after all. Any religion that makes a man admit he's been stealing a few copper nails and offer to settle for them must be worth having.'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday quotes -- seventh commandment

The message, "The Honor of Marriage", is here.

“Do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love and cherish her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?”

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing to a young bride and groom from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1943.)

When Billy Graham was asked his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same person, he said, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible." His wife, Ruth Bell, said this about marriage: “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The opening of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1877) Sexual freedom is not a new, enlightened idea (see Romans 1) Anna Karenina ends, some 1700 pages later, like Ecclesiastes… ‘Yes, the one unmistakable, incontestable manifestation of the Divinity is the law of right and wrong, which has come into the world by revelation, and which I feel in myself, and in the recognition of which—I don’t make myself, but whether I will or not—I am made one with other men in one body of believers, which is called the church."

Ultimately it's about God himself. He is saying "Be like Me!"...

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love…" (Deuteronomy 7:9)

“'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."
(Ephesians 5:31-32)

"I will never leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5; Deut. 31:6; 1 Chron 28:20; Heb 13:5)

"His love endures forever." (Psalm 118 et al)

Finally, two excerpts from Wallerstein's landmark work, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. ...

“Children in postdivorce families do not, on the whole, look happier, healthier, or more well adjusted even if one or both parents are happier. National studies show that children from divorced and remarried families are more aggressive toward their parents and teachers. They experience more depression, have more learning difficulties, and suffer from more problems with peers than children from intact families. Children from divorced and remarried families are two to three times more likely to be referred for psychological help at school than their peers from intact families. More of them end up in mental health clinics and hospital settings. There is earlier sexual activity, more children born out of wedlock, less marriage, and more divorce. Numerous studies show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages.” (page xxix)

“But it’s in adulthood that children of divorce suffer the most. The impact of divorce hits them most cruelly as they go in search of love, sexual intimacy, and commitment. Their lack of inner images of a man and a woman in a stable relationship and their memories of their parents’ failure to sustain the marriage badly hobbles their search, leading them to heartbreak and even despair. They cried, ‘No one taught me.’ They complain bitterly that they fell unprepared for adult relationships and that they have never seen a ‘man and woman on the same beam,’ that they have no good models on which to build their hopes. And indeed they have a very hard time formulating even simple ideas about the kind of person they’re looking for. Many end up with unsuitable or very troubled partners in relationships that were doomed from the start.” (p. 299-300)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Processing anger

Thinking about Chris's statements about anger coming from our "blocked goals."

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil."

This chart has been helpful in showing people how to resolve anger.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


"The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone."

(John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p 160)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday quotes

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)

“Ordained by God as the basic unit of human organization, the family is ... the first school of human instruction. Parents take small, self-centered monsters, who spend much of their time screaming defiantly and hurling peas on the carpet, and teach them to share, to wait their turn, to respect others' property. These lessons translate into respect for others, self-restraint, obedience to law-in short, into the virtues of individual character that are vital to a society's survival.” (-- Charles Colson, 1931- )

“The Western family is rapidly approaching its third violent crisis. The climax will be reached before the end of the century. It will be reflected in extremely high rates of all the symptoms of family decay – divorce, childlessness, disloyalty of family members to each other, and the unwillingness of many persons to burden themselves with families. Even heterosexuality itself will be challenged. This development of antifamilism will be associated with a changed system of social relations in which more and more human behavior will be based on willed contract, compulsion, and temporary selfish interest rather than on family feeling and the voluntary willingness of persons to carry on their daily social duties...
"This crisis will be the third such manifestation of mass disregard of the family in Western society. The first occurred between 450 and 250 BC in Greece, and he second among our Roman forebears between AD 300 and 550”….. “Facing these crises, neither Greek nor Roman civilization was able to survive.”
(--Carle C. Zimmerman, in 1947, prominent Harvard sociologist, author of Family & Civilization. His objective was to investigate the connections between the kind of family that predominates within a civilization, and the vitality of that civilization.)

“The parent who does not teach his child to obey is being cruel to him. The habit of implicit obedience to parental authority is the foundation of good citizenship. More than that, it is the foundation of subjection to God's authority.” (Billy Graham)

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.” (The Duke of Windsor, 1894-1972)

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." (Mark Twain, 1835-1910)

“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22)

Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.' Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.'" (Jeremiah 35:18-19)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Faith as resting

My introduction to Puritan theology in seminary was the study of William Ames' The Marrow of Theology. I read again his comments on faith (in light of a recent sermon on the Sabbath commandment) and found them so helpful...

1. Faith is the resting of the heart on God, the author of life and eternal salvation, so that we may be saved from all evil through Him and may follow all good. Isaiah 10:20, "Lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in faith..."

11. Faith is the virtue by which, clinging-to the faithfulness of God, we lean upon him, so that we may obtain what he gives to us. John 3:33, He who receives his testimony has sealed that God is true; John 1:12, As many as received him believed in his name.

12. These five things belong together in divine faith: 1) a knowl­edge of what God testifies to; 2) a pious affection toward God which gives his testimony greatest force with us; 3) an assent given to the truth testified to, because of this affection toward God who is the witness of it; 4) a resting upon God for the receiving of what is given; and 5) the choosing or apprehension of what is made avail­able to us in the testimony.