November Article

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.  Galatians 6:10 (NASB)

In our “full house” years, the Lord was gracious to provide strength and unity we needed to parent. We reminded ourselves—usually her to me—that they would not be home, forever. We pulled together, intent to do life in the Lord, for our family.

Paul uses the “family” analogy to remind the church of our relationship. With similar challenges, we are an extended family. The Spirit-fruit Paul describes in Galatians 5 shapes us to live with one another.

Contemplate this today, where marriage, and family as the first institution under God, have been redefined and perverted under mankind’s smug enlightenment. “Family” is fluid and disposable; abandonment now common for perceived grievances, or the cultural permission for “personal fulfillment” as a chief value. Speak of parental responsibility or marriage roles: elicit scorn.

“Doing good” to all is not the easy thing. It is grace that allows you to keep loving and serving, when days are long and rewards few. When you’re tired. When no one notices, cleans up, or gives you the night off.

What is true in family is true in the family of God: You won’t always have opportunity to live Christ before them.

There are quiet places, without family. No noise, mess, or sticky fingerprints. These rooms could pass for mausoleums, not homes. With unexamined lives, some dying congregations now fit this description.

But family, God’s way, needs Spirit-power. The home and the church call for your greatest efforts, energy, and focus. This is the evidence that God’s ways are right, and good.

After all, if your own family is neglected, your testimony to “neighbors” about Christ is essentially disqualified.

October Article

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…   Ephesians 5:25

There were many things taken for granted when it came to our marriage. One man and one woman—us—focused upon coming together as husband and wife as the scriptures plainly state. We had great anticipation for the day, the hour, and the celebration it would be. There were preparations involving many people over the weeks and months. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for us; we wanted it to be thoughtful, smooth, and Christ-honoring.

More to the point, in the lead-up to the day, there was no sense of “What if,” or “Is this the Lord’s plan?” We were confirmed in our hearts: we were designed completely for one another.

For you and me, it’s especially brilliant that the Lord compares our relationship with Him to that of marriage. He, the able bridegroom, providing for his bride to be perfected through an intimate relationship with Him. Us, dutifully following carefully His loving Words for us:

…so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:26-27)

So, it’s only fair to ask, how goes your preparations for the big day? Are you focused upon the Lord? Are you reading His love letter with the absolute resolve to obey? No dalliances with other wanna-be suitors, right? Your hand is claimed – be sure your heart is steadfast!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”    Revelation 19:7

September Article

Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:3

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me…” John 10:14

In As I Was Saying, I’ve written of my youth, including experiences caring for sheep. Not good. At all. Lessons then did prove useful to me later, in the season of raising children. I think there were somewhat better outcomes.

Pictures in the Word show God’s people as sheep, and the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is spiritually detrimental to lose the meaning of these images. Phillip Keller, introducing his A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, notes that many have a deficit in understanding many biblical stories and illustrations, due to coming from an “urban, man-made environment.”

The benefit gained through learning of things rural and natural, is better understanding and closer application of His Word to our lives.

Rebellious, stubborn, defenseless, prone to wander… you can discover many things about the nature of sheep, and why the picture fits us so well.

Caring, protecting, leading, feeding, correcting… you begin to understand more of the heart of the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20).

We should not neglect regular, deep times in God’s Word. Tools to aid our biblical understanding need to be chosen with discernment: there is much dross among the gold.

…be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. Ecclesiastes 12:12b 

One day we shall enter new pastures. We will stand before the One who has cared for us through this life, and into the life to come: The Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Pe. 2:25).