Saturday, February 27, 2010

Serving the Lord and serving your family

It has been the thing to do in the church lately, that is to "focus on the family" and men, young men. The rational being that for many that if you get the men to Man up and start acting like adults they will see the need for moral grounding and selflessness and strength etc... These sort of manly qualities need to be encouraged so that the church doesn't seem so girly-fied and these guys who would never set foot in a church building might see a place that gives men back a role in the world at a worldly interest level.

From a Theological or a Biblical level which for me is nearly synonymous though one is the playing out of the other, is that men are called to lead and sacrifice for their families, specifically their wives as Christ sacrificed Himself for the church. This includes your own nuclear and church family if you are not married and or have no family yourself (ie an orphan) and your own family as you by God's grace build one in the confines of marriage because of the theological nature of marriage which I won't get all into here. Sacrificing for your wife and family glorifies God and helps to sanctify us as the Lord strips away the chaff and conforms us into Christ's image.

For the unbeliever this hopefully leads to faith in Christ as the Gospel is preached through the biblical roles of men and women. everyone can relate because everyone has seen good and bad marriages and comes from some kind of family where they have seen people do the wrong things and the truth resonates with them or they may have seen many "good" things that they couldn't put their finger on that the Gospel clarifies and crystallizes why those things were good. Nothing wrong with that and it flows pretty naturally because everyone has an opinion on the sexes; just start the convo and watch it go!

The problem is when the rubber hits the road and a person is trying to be faithful and not make an idol of his family as many ministries do. seeming to say that if you get this right everything will be good. Idolatry alert!! Idolatry Alert!! Only Christ will make all things Good and through Him and His blood and resurrection both literally in the eschaton and in the Gospel of grace guiding us to live like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit in the new creation that the Christian is. But where do we draw the line with the radical calls to service that come from the mouth of Christ and providing for and protecting our families?

I promised hard questions (at least for me) so here we go. If it is Christ whom I serve with no reservations and so doing I am a servant to my wife and children (in my case, other families in others cases) by sacrificing for them and being an example and providing. When do I or can I serve to the actual detriment of my own family? What constitutes actual detriment will be the sticking point here! Also what that family understands of the Gospel will interfere with levels and outworking of parenting. All us pastor folk, or in my case would be pastors and church planters have heard the horror stories of families being torn apart by over achieving pastors. They are "always at the church" and with other people sons and daughters being a dad to them and not even their own kids. No pastor wants to embitter their children towards Christ's church, for their is no salvation outside of Christ and logically His body, which is the church both universal (all times and all places) and the local congregation. But on the other hand you want to tell these obviously reprobate children that they are not the center of the world and people are dying without Christ and going to hell, "sorry I missed your tee-ball game Timmy, BACK OFF", "There are more important things going on in the world and Jesus says I have to hate you to be a true disciple". So I do and then I read this guy, 1 Tim 3:4-5 "He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

Hmm, warrant to tell Timmy to back off and grow up, or a slap in the face that says you need to be at every game and make sure your kids are all Christians before you even leave the house? As we look at Titus 1:5-6 i contemplate, "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,3 and his children are believers and not open to the charge of rdebauchery or insubordination.7 For an overseer,4 sas God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not tbe arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent uor greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, vand disciplined. 9 He must whold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in xsound5 doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."

His ability to correct, teach and be holy,upright,and above reproach are directly connected to these things which include the italicized portion above. Holy carp! As an overseer I have a much higher standard to live up to but is it really any higher in the sense that all men, if they are obeying Ephesians 5:25-33 wouldn't naturally be obligated to anyway? 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

There it is. Love her as yourself! Now if we are to not love our wives less and want to be as Christ like as we can be, why would we not call our wives to radical discipleship as well!? Could it be we don't want to follow Jesus? Or that we are to scarred to tell our wives what Jesus has commended of her? Do we love her more than Jesus? You betcha! Welcome Adam, I've been waiting for you. I get why he doesn't put Eve on blast in the garden. For the same reason we don't. We don't "feel" like we have any authority to rebuke and correct. We don't "feel" like its our place. We don't love Jesus more than the opinion of our women! We don't want them to be mad at us or think we aren't open minded and "progressive". But God doesn't call us to open mindedness as reinterprets His law and progressiveness as we "improve" upon His dynamic! And our idolatry of the worship of a few square inches of flesh is exposed over the torn and destroyed body of Jesus. We want that more than the riches of heaven and we will do what ever it takes to get it and not to hinder getting it or offending it so as not to be adored by it. This has always been mans problem, worshiping the creature rather than the creator. The gift over the gift giver. on top of that it makes women not even women anymore made in the image of God but rather the plaything of men. This is also not God's command. If we loved women like ourselves in our moments of clarity we would want holiness and dignity for them not lustiness and animal like wanton desire that takes control of a person to do things that are against their better judgment. We wouldn't want to be given over to anything but Jesus, so we wouldn't hand them over to lust to be consumed by it for our sick pleasure. We would rather love them as God intended and model the love of Christ and yes make love to them as god would have us to with their interest in mind for their benefit as Jesus loves us and sacrifices for us for our benefit not because He had nothing better to do than hang on a tree that day and be destroyed and cut off by the Most High.

She is your help meet,(Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”) Christian married man.(quick note on birth control, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, Gen 1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” and 2 Cor 10:5 "5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,... , speaking of the Gospel and taking dominion over the earth. We are to be fruitful in both ways, first you can't stop God, both my kids were born on birth control, I knew it was silly when I let my wife use it against my conscious, Adam again, Their are no extra people and God has made and accounted for all of them, let God be God and start taking dominion over the earth with fruitful multiplication including adoption as Christ adopts us into the family of God and second and most importantly and truthfully Gospel multiplication for only a Christian can take dominion for Christ. Cover the earth with glory for God.) And our mission is the mission of God and as part of that mission is loving your wife now. She needs to help you love her and that takes communication. like prayer with the Father so talking with your wife and washing her with the Word of God is necessary for health and godliness. You serve God as you serve one another. And yet you serve only God and yet she is served, for we have one master. We have to get our families on board if we are going to stop serving two masters. Men we need to get the wheel into Jesus' hands and women you need to stop trying to be your husbands god and start being his helper as he leads you into godliness and the mission of God since that is what its about, not you or him or the kids, or the house, car or 401k.

Some would say, like John McArthur, that if your kids aren't Christians faithful till death that at the time they fall away or are not yet Christian you should not be a Pastor and has himself said in his counseling book that if for example his son fell away from the faith he would retire from the pastorate because its not for everyone and not just anyone can be a pastor. To which I agree and find his position while hard, commendable. Truly in my mind a man who loves Jesus more than himself and family in this instance and if he followed through with it should this be the case no one could say otherwise because their would be no reproach and Christ would be held in very high esteem.

I' am in these ramblings thinking more about missionaries who go into very dangerous areas with unbelieving kids putting them in harms way because if you don't know, Christians get killed! A Lot! More now than Ever! Check out Voice of the Martyrs if you don't believe me, and any of their partners, ( go ahead, I'll wait). Or maybe they just leave the tykes at home and go gallivanting across the globe to evangelize the lost. To which in my mind I find no fault, for they are managing their house well enough that the kids are safe and provided for and if they are gutsy enough Christians and have like minded Church family then they probably have people who can help them or ministries like Gatehouse ministries that school the kids and house them while the parents are away on mission. The kids in that ministry are preparing for ministry themselves and have a radical love for Christ as modeled for them by their parents. They love not their own lives and are ready for war because they have seen it and know the fight is worth it. In these rare examples of faithfulness the children are believers but even if they weren't yet they could know of their Moms and Dads who were willing to pay the ultimate cost for loving others as much as themselves as Jesus did. He loved His fellowship with the Father so much He died for the sins of others so they could be one as He is one with the Father! John 17 Beautiful! Jesus did not love us less but the same and that is the issue! Who do you love less? Who do you not even think about giving the Gospel because they are so far outside your vision? Taggers, yuppies, raver kids and gang bangers. What about your neighbors and co-workers family friends. Jesus was an equal opportunity offender no one was safe from the truth He preached either as invective and correction or in pleading and gentleness No One was spared His Gospel love even the Pharisees He dealt with more than graciously considering they were the worst of the worst, He still spoke to them.

Where does the compromise come if I can only serve one master? Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." What I mean is when we get commands from the Lord to hate our families and follow the Lord what does that mean and look like? Example in Luke 14:25-26 "Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 n“If anyone comes to me and odoes not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, pyes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

I know what most pastors would say about this to dull it and make it palpable. I would probably do the same in a moment of weakness and say, "this is just saying that our love for our families should look like hatred compared to the love of Christ that we have in our hearts, because we love Jesus sooo much" Sure that's fair, and I get why they would say that but the practical matter is that the one you love less, you do hate. think of the bum you love less than yourself, you would help you, but not him or her. You hate them practically, with action and indifference, not metaphorically and esoterically. They are begging and you ignore them, What do they have to do hit you over the head? Look at them they are poor and begging. And that's just coin and paper they want not eternal life. When I'm going to reach out to one with the Gospel and not another its because I love them less, ie have less in common with them and don't find conversation "natural" and easy, I hate them, ie "love them less". How this plays out with family in sinful choices and temptations like screaming at my wife or kids to make them more like me and do things to make them happy but not holy; I am loving myself more than Jesus. For I want them to be like me so as not to "bug" me or I want them to worship me in the sense that they are pleased with me and satisfied with me and find their shelter in me alone, which could only be attributed to the money God allows me to make, which is Idolatry, the gift over the giver, again.

I should be encouraging them to trust Jesus more, not me more. They need to trust the Lord that I am commending all my thoughts to as to what we will do or not do that they might see that I don't just make things up as I go and get credit when things go right and blame when they go wrong. But rather come to humbly accept the Lord's sovereignty over all things and understand that Dad didn't hang the moon. If I loved Jesus more than the image of me in their eyes I would do what makes me more like Jesus in their eyes and less like me so that the image of Christ is glorified not my personality or preferences, though both created by God for His glory they my personality and gifts etc..cannot be the focal point but rather God always. When I'm tempted to do un-Godly things like that or pastor for money and not Jesus' glory I am not loving my family because they will never know Jesus in a positive way through my leadership, more or ever truly, if I use God for unrighteous gain and self aggrandizement, because Jesus never did those things. Though my sinfulness might tip them to reject and run to Christ in reaction to my sin as I did to my Father's, so its not all on us Dad's, God is still sovereign. My motivation should be to please my creator and be obedient even and especially when this will make life for my family harder and leaner (money wise).

I "hate" my family in this sense because I love Jesus more and won't compromise the faith imparted to me by the Spirit for a trust in monetary comfort and security or the worship of my family which is idolatry. And I have still provided for my family thus not broken the commands to provide, 1 Tim 5:8 "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for lmembers of his household, he has mdenied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." This is a huge issue for everyone because it is not that you don't provide (though maybe you don't deadbeat dads out there!) but that you provide way beyond what a person actually needs and call that bare bones necessary. What is absolutely necessary for one is superfluous opulence to another. So this is one rub because you can almost always do with less: t.v., food, leisure time, cloths, sq footage, amenities in cars. and so on. So be convicted where you need to be.

Don't think your sacrificing for your kids by working tons of hours to feel good about yourself when they never see you and you live in the biggest house you can possibly afford driving the most expensive car you can possibly afford wearing the nicest cloths you can possibly afford, commuting to work the farthest distance you can stand to work the job that makes the most money you could possibly make putting in the most hours you can possibly work all in the name of giving your kids the things you never had. If the life your living is anything like the one handed down to you then I'm guessing the thing you never had was time with your Mom and Dad and your not giving that to your kids so sacrifice the house and car and commute and down size your life and maximize your ministry to others starting with your own household because for you guys out there who love our iphones, cars and gadgets that would be a real sacrifice, ya know! (Glad I got that out)

We all have idols and as for me I have to just give more time away because we gave away most of our stuff when we moved cross country and we only brought books and cooking stuff, cloths and some music gear I have for playing worship so having little (in a family of four) is not the issue but rather being more generous with my time though I' am, I want to be more so. You can always give more, till it hurts. So phase one complete on that. Next is not looking forward to my time alone so much and rather looking forward to loving my family immediate and church as well. Out do one another in doing good, its healthy competition :) .
l See Gal. 6:10
m Rev. 2:13; [2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:16; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 3:8]
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. 1 Ti 5:8

Mark 3:33-35 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And slooking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 tFor whoever udoes the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 10:34-39 r“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. sI have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 rFor I have come tto set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 uAnd a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 vWhoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And wwhoever does not take his cross and xfollow me is not worthy of me. 39 yWhoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Luke 9:57-62 As they were going ralong the road, ssomeone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus7 said to him, “Leave tthe dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and uproclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, vbut let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, w“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

r ver. 51
s For ver. 57–60, see Matt. 8:19–22
7 Greek he
t [John 5:25]
u ver. 2
v [1 Kgs. 19:20]
w [Phil. 3:13]
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Lk 9:57-62

r See Luke 12:51–53
s [Rev. 6:4]
r [See ver. 34 above]
t ver. 21; [Mic. 7:6]
u Cited from Mic. 7:6; [Ps. 41:9; 55:12, 13; John 13:18]
v Luke 14:26
w ch. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27
x ch. 9:9; John 8:12; 12:26; 21:19
y ch. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Mt 10:34-39

s ver. 5
t [John 15:14; Heb. 2:11]
u Matt. 7:21; [Luke 11:28]
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Mk 3:33-35

n ver. 33; Matt. 10:37; [Deut. 33:9]
o ch. 16:13
p John 12:25; Acts 20:24; Rev. 12:11

So I guess I'm clearer now than I was, go Spirit doing surgery by the Word of God. Get the family on board and love Jesus radically. It's not so hard but we make it hard. Go forth and die for the Gospel, love till it hurts and hurt with love for people till it kills you and you get that rest your looking for. Its easier than spinning plates here and trying to be something to men, were so fickle anyway.

P/S. This was first post so I went off like crazy, I could edit no more and didn't want to not post this, comment freely we are all grown ups. I'll break this down into other topics in late posts until I hit another hard spot in life. Church life is next, making some decitions in that realm that will be huge as church choice and involvement are huge for growth and maturation. I have problems, point them out and we will see your problems in that, and help each other. Thanks for your time, I am not worthy of it, praise Jesus and give thanks!

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