Sunday, March 29, 2009

Husbands and wives

Some years back my wife and I each wrote out what submission and headship (Ephesians 5) meant to us as a couple. She wrote the first part, and I did the second.

For wives, what respectful submission means

1. Submission to my husband begins with prayer and submission to the Lord, with an ongoing trust in his plan for my life and his plan for marriage. This trusting relationship with God is the foundation of submission.

2. Submission to a godly husband does not diminish a wife’s significance, importance or personhood. Since it is God’s order, it can only be strengthening and liberating to her. It will bring true joy to her and glory to God.

3. Submissiveness recognizes, values and affirms the tremendous responsibility that God has given the husband in the leadership of the family. Do you fear for him and pray for him, knowing he is one who must give an account before the Lord for the way he led the family?

4. Submissiveness involves prayerful, respectful communication, with much compassion and forgiveness included, since both of us have fallen short of the glory of God.

5. Submission to headship is never absolute, except to the Lord. Wives should never follow their husbands into sin.

6. Women were made to be complementary to their husbands. God has given us unique abilities to help strengthen them. Marriage is not two people in unison but two people in harmony, which makes a song fuller and more beautiful. Oneness is the goal of marriage – united to serve each other, the Lord, the family, and the church.

For husbands, what loving leadership (“headship”) means

1. I must lead. God has called me to be a leader. I must provide for and protect my family. I should be the first in my family to do the will of God. I should initiate prayer, teach the Word, and nourish my family in the Lord. I am to lead sacrificially, like my Lord.

2. I myself must be in submission to authority. I must lead by my own example of submission to God, government, church, employers, and others deserving my respect. “I too am a man under authority.” (Mt. 8:9) I am to lead with servant leadership, like my Lord.

3. I must lead in areas I’d rather avoid. I may delegate some tasks, but I can’t abdicate responsibility. I must not avoid making decisions in areas uncomfortable for me, such as child-rearing, finances, or other family decisions.

4. I cannot be independent. Headship involves an inter-relationship with the body. I am united to my family. I must care for my wife and family as I do for myself.

5. I must know my wife. If I am to lead well, I must truly understand her. I must learn how to listen and how to communicate with her. I must deal in gentleness (1 Pet. 3:7). I must encourage her strengths and help her weaknesses, as she does mine.

6. I must honor my wife. In God’s kingdom she is my equal partner (Gal. 3:28) and in many areas she is my superior. I must honor her as a fellow-heir of eternal life (1 Pet 3:7). She will be held up with honor in our home, and I should always speak respectfully of her and to her.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Conklin Crescent Filler

Just finished repairing a ca. 1920 fountain pen, the Conklin Crescent Filler, given to me by a friend, and now one of the oldest fountain pens in my collection. This is a photo of one fully restored -- mine looks just like it but still needs a new clip. This 90-year-old pen writes better than any modern roller ball or gel pen, putting down a perfectly smooth, wet line. The body is made of black chased hard rubber (BCHR), and the nib is a gold no. 2, made in Toledo.

This is the model pen that Mark Twain used. He acted as a spokesman for the Conklin company. In one advertisement Twain said, "I prefer it to ten other fountain pens, because it carries its filler in its own stomach, and I can not mislay even by art or intention. Also, I prefer it because it is a profanity saver; it cannot roll off the desk."

Richard Binder's page on the Crescent Filler is here. Interestingly -- well, maybe I'm one of the few who find it interesting -- the Conklin Crescent is being remanufactured by a new Conklin company. Here is the new version:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Love and discipline

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall
we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:6-10 ESV)

Love and discipline are not two words I can put together very well in my mind.

Love is something warm and accepting; discipline seems cold and restricting. Discipline involves training, setting boundaries, receiving correction, and being chastened. Love implies an unconditional acceptance, freedom, being affirmed, and being encouraged. Love feels good; discipline feels painful. (Hebrews 12:11 agrees.) They seem like polar opposites.

As we are growing up discipline does not feel like love, and in fact a lot of discipline is probably not done in love. When I discipline my children, even when it is for their good, it still feels like I'm being unloving.

Yet how often the Scripture puts these two concepts together: Deuteronomy 4:36, 37; 11:1, 2; 2 Samuel 7:14; Prov 3:11, 12; 12:1; 13:24; Hebrews 12:5-10; Revelation 3:19. Discipline is a vital dimension of God's love:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (--Jesus, in Revelation 3:19)

My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Both love and discipline -- from God's perspective -- involves us being treated as children, even though beloved children. Be-love-d children, because we by grace are born of his nature and brought into his family; and disciplined, because we need to grow up to maturity in the image of Christ. To enter into the holiness and glory of God is inevitably a painful, growing up process. But this is the destiny so lovingly planned for us by God.

From my perspective, this means in my love for God I must be willing to accept boundaries, restictions, discomfort, and correction. It means I can't really love God unless I practice self-discipline. Love without discipline is sentimentality. Discipline without love is self-righteousness (or despair). Loving God takes discipline like loving our family involves certain painful things on our part: self-control, sacrifice, limitation, dying to self.

But if we don't do this we should question what kind of love we have for God.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The spontaneity of worship

And as [Jesus] entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."

When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:12-19)

Edmund Clowney says that one of the big lessons of this story is... "The spontaneity of your worship of the Lord is precious to Jesus."

Notice that all ten called to the Lord for mercy, and all ten were obedient to the Lord's direction to go to the priest. All ten were technically obedient. But only one is overtaken with joy in the Lord and erupts in spontaneous praise. He turned back to Jesus and fell at the feet of the One who healed him.

This is the fullness of faith which saves, according to Jesus. It is not just about the healing, not just about the obedience... but it is about our relationship with him. It is about restoring to us the enjoyment of the Lord and the delight of worship.

How easy sometimes just go through the motions of being technically righteous, being outwardly dutiful, even being inwardly obedient, ...just doing "as we were told". Not doing anything wrong, you know, but then again not being gripped by anything glorious.

But to be overcome by the joy of it all, by the worth of Jesus, to want to be at his feet,and to shout in loud, spontaneous praise... this is rare, even among his followers.

We must remember that the spontaneity of our worship of the Lord is precious to Jesus. He delights in us taking delight in him.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I'm working on a series of devotionals on the attributes of God, for a summer missions group. I came upon a few good quotes concerning God's omnipotence, his being all-powerful:

"The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve . . . As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scare-crow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature." (Stephen Charnock).

“But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve.” (A. W. Pink)

“My faith has no bed to sleep upon but omnipotence.” (Samuel Rutherford)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For journaling this week I used a 1930s Parker Vacumatic Jr. filled with Skrip brown ink. So even if what I write down is not all that profound, at least it looks good and was fun to write.

The horse photos brought back great memories. Some wonderful pictures here.

And I always love the photos by a friend here.

She took the water (Cascades) shot below.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Generic, soft evangelicalism

The ARIS study was released, and contains a number of pertinent observations, none very surprising if you've been watching our culture. This quote from the Washington Post article caught my attention, because it is something I also have observed...

The number of people who describe themselves as generically "Protestant" went from approximately 17 million in 1990 to 5 million. Meanwhile, the number of people who use nondenominational terms has gone from 194,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million. "There is now this shift in the non-Catholic population -- and maybe among American Christians in general -- into a sort of generic, soft evangelicalism," said Mark Silk, who directs Trinity's Program on Public Values and helped supervise the survey. ... "If people call themselves 'evangelical,' it doesn't tell you as much as you think it tells you about what kind of church they go to," Silk said. "It deepens the conundrum about who evangelicals are."

I do think there has been a general loss of confidence in, or at least a loss of focus upon the centrality, of the Gospel of Christ's death and resurrection, and a corresponding loss of interest in sound doctrine. Many professing Christians don't even know -- or worse, care to know -- what the Reformation was all about. This has led to an identity crisis for evangelicalism. Books by Joel Osteen and R C Sproul are both being sold as "evangelical" works, but there is a world of difference.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Here is where Tolkiens where living with The Lord of the Rings was being written: 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This is where J. R. R. Tolkien was living when The Lord of the Rings was published. Picture was sent by a friend who visited there recently.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Books that changed me, pt 3

The Marrow of Theology, by William Ames. I studied this in a class on Puritan theology at DTS in the mid-1980s. "Faith is the resting of the heart upon God," wrote Ames. Thus began my interest and study of the Puritans, the physicians of the soul.

Knowing the Times
by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones has become an "historical mentor" to me, and it started with this book that I picked up around 1990. MLJ was a prominent physician who became an evangelist to the poor in Wales, and later, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. His observations and diagnosis of the problems of western culture were (are) remarkable.

The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God by John Piper. This book got me started not on John Piper, but on Jonathan Edwards. I was enriched by the God-centeredness of this work, and it became evident that Piper (by his own admission) was a popularizer of Jonathan Edwards. And so, ad fontes, I began a serious study on Edwards in the mid-1990s.

Martyn Lloyd Jones Biography in 2 volumes, by Iain Murray. See above on Knowing the Times. I cannot think of any other biography, or any two-volume work, that I have read and reread with such pleasure and profit.

A Faithful Narrative; the End For Which All Things Were Created; A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. These works by Jonathan Edwards were the first I read, and I was hooked. Most people have only read Edwards' sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which is not a representative work by him. JE was America's greatest theologian and a man with a rare conjunction of mind and heart, of thought and passion.

The Bible, English Standard Version. This translation, along with the newly published study notes, is a wonderful accomplishment. It retains the structure of the RSV, being textually faithful, conservative, and is more readable than the NAS. This has become my English translation of choice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Books that changed me, pt 2

The God Who Is There; He Is There and Not Silent; and True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer. These books by Schaeffer introduced me to the wonderful world of Christian thought and apologetics. I have recently reread True Spirituality, and am reading Schaeffer's Genesis in Space and Time with some young bucks.

Designed to Be Like Him
(Formerly: Pattern for Maturity) by J. Dwight Pentecost. I got so much out of this book by Dwight Pentecost in the mid-to-late-1970s, and although Pentecost was not as well known as Hal Lindsay, it was my introduction into biblical exposition and specifically, the ministry of Dallas Seminary. It was teaching like this that influenced my choice for further training.

Knowing God,
by J. I. Packer. This was a classic, pure and simple. Still is, some twenty years later. It is a wonderful and deep elaboration of the character of God, the sinfulness of man, and the marvel of the gospel. It was probably this book, along with others, that gave me a love for sound doctrine.

Til He Come: Communion Meditations and Addresses
by Charles Spurgeon. My wife gave me this early in our marriage. There have been very few like Spurgeon who can so lovingly set forth the beauty of Christ.

Books that changed me, pt 1

Individual books that made a significant impact on me, in somewhat chronological order over 30 years... some further notes...

The New American Standard Bible. The first Bible I had was a KJV. I went to a Cru retreat where the speaker was teaching from 1 Corinthians 13, and he said that the KJV's "Charity suffereth long..." really meant "Love is patient..." I told somebody, well then why doesn't somebody translate a Bible that says what it means? They pointed me to the NAS-NT which had just come out and I picked up a copy and devoured it. During seminary I came to realize how literally accurate the NAS was.

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis. My introduction to C S Lewis came through Aslan in 1971. My heart has been in Narnia ever since. I appreciate Lewis's approach that the best of the fairy tales is but a shadow of the reality of the truth. Lewis, and Jonathan Edwards -- whom I came to read much later -- both had this in common: a proper sense of neo-platonism, namely that everything here is a type or shadow of something bigger beyond it.

Lectures on Revival, by Charles G. Finney. Though there is matter for disagreement with Finney on theology, this book of sermons introduced me to the joy of reading printed sermons, especially about spiritual life and renewal in the church.

The Story of the Church,
an IVP book by somebody, long out of print. Not even sure who wrote this, but this little paperback began my love affair with church history.