Combing the Net – 6/17/2012

Why 29-Year-Old Divorcees Should Be Forbidden to Write About Marriage — A great response to a truly horrendous article on marriage that somehow managed to get published on The Huffington Post.

The Original “Desiring God” Sermon Series — Transcripts and audio files of a 1983 sermon series which formed the basis for one of the most influential books in my life and many others: John Piper’s Desiring God. I haven’t heard these yet, but look forward to listening soon!

Promotional Buttons From Presidential Campaigns — A look back at the winners and losers from 1940-2008. Some personal favorites:

  • “Keep the ass off the White House grass”
  • “Yo Quiero Ike”
  • “If I were 21 I’d vote for Kennedy”
  • “I’m voting REPUBLICAN but I’m NOT going to H—!!”
  • “Peace in Vietnam 1968″
  • “I’m a bunny for Carter”

The story of how Pixar almost lost Toy Story 2 (HT: Mere-O)

Combing the Net – 5/23/2012

Why Plant a Church in Cookeville? — My friend Bob Wilson will be launching “Sola Church” in the near future. It will be Cookeville’s first confessionally Reformed Baptist church. Whether you have interest in the church plant or not, Bob’s research and design work has resulted in a pretty great infographic, which you can see at this link. It’s the best collection of church-related statistics and demographics that I’ve ever seen for Cookeville and the surrounding area.

Fast Facts on Coffee Consumption — Speaking of cool infographics…

Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? — I must just be in a statistical research kinda mood this morning. Here’s another study.

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says. Facebook declined to comment.

This Guy Needs to Resign — A video of a fundamentalist pastor ranting against homosexuals has gone viral. In the last few weeks I’ve posted links to several articles encouraging thoughtful and civil dialogue on the issue of homosexuality (and I plan to publish something of my own on the topic very soon). This is an example of what NOT to say. I’m horrified.

What Has Jerusalem to Do With Athens? — I love Ross Douthat’s columns in The New York Times, but found this one especially interesting. He argues that secular liberalism has no independent basis for morality, and ironically depends on essentially Christian premises in its critiques of religion. Douthat draws from the works of philosophers from Plato to Thomas Aquinas to John Locke to Christopher Hitchens in building his case.

How Should American Christians Observe Memorial Day and Independence Day? — Bobby Gilles’ take on a question that presents itself this time each year to those responsible for planning worship services.

Fire Up the Grill — However your church may decide to observe (or not observe) patriotic holidays, this particular tradition is as non-controversial as they get. Some awesome recipes from the Art of Manliness blog!

Bob Moog: How He Changed Music Forever — Today’s Google “doodle” celebrates a pioneer in the field of electronic music. It’s their best interactive doodle yet, in my opinion! This article will teach you a little about him while you play around on the Google keyboard. In case you need instructions:

Remembering the Wife of Your Youth

Ray Ortlund is the pastor of Nashville’s Immanuel Church, which is my favorite place to visit when I have a week off from Stevens Street. I love to sit under his preaching when I have the opportunity, and have also benefited from his teaching through his books, his blog, and videos like this one, which was a real encouragement to me yesterday:

I don’t know whether I can still be considered “in my youth”, but certainly my beautiful wife is still in hers! I pray that in another 37 years it will be as easy to enjoy our love and friendship as it is today, and that we would be able to rejoice in the remembrance of 40 years together like Ray and Jani Ortlund. What a testimony!

Combing the Net – 7/14/2010

With God on Our Side — Here’s some info and a trailer for what looks like a pretty interesting documentary (from one of the writers of “Expelled”) on the unflinching support of evangelical Christians for a Jewish state regardless of its actions, and the problems this causes, particularly for Palestinian Christians. It seeks to provide a balanced report of what is really going on over there, as opposed to what is reported in our news media. Note: This is NOT the same as the 2004 documentary with the same title that focused on George W. Bush.

New To Reformed Theology? — Ligonier ministries has made available a helpful list of free online resources to help you in your study, if you are interested in learning more about Reformed theology.

Stocking Up on Razor Blades — Tired of the constant planned obsolescence of razors and razor blades, many men are stocking up on years’ worth of razor blades for their favorite razors.

How to Drive a Perfectionist Crazy — “Uneven Google” is guaranteed to drive even mildly OCD people (like my wife) nuts! (HT: @abrahampiper)

When Marriage is a Train Wreck — Doug & Nancy Wilson talk about the options a woman has when she is involved in an abusive marriage. Included in the discussion is a great illustration of the often misunderstood biblical roles of authority and submission. A man’s authority is NOT absolute, and a woman is not a doormat.  This same type of thinking is, of course, how our Founding Fathers justified the American Revolution, which was a refusal to continue to submit to the governing authorities — another form of delegated (but not absolute) authority instituted by God.

Where my nerds at? Hopefully some of you other pun-loving literary and journalistic types will find this as amusing as I do! (HT: Janet Reid)

Combing the Net – 6/25/2010

Shipwreck Found After 122 Years in Lake MichiganThe largest wooden ship that had been unaccounted for in Lake Michigan has now been found. The 300-foot L.R. Doty was so well preserved, in fact, that even it’s cargo of corn is still in the hold.

When Lightning Strikes Twice — Check out this incredible photo of lightning striking two buildings at once!

The Case Against Marriage — Al Mohler responds to a recent essay in Newsweek magazine by two young women who explain why marriage no longer makes sense for women. In fact, they say, the very idea that people are meant to be monogamous and committed to one person for life “seems naive, even arrogant.”

Childlessness Up in the US — In a perhaps related story, Pew Research reports that nearly 20% of American women who are past childbearing age never gave birth. Fewer than half of Americans believe that children are important in a marriage, and more and more children are born outside of marriage. Sad trends…

David Platt on the South — Here’s an interview with David Platt on the moralism that often takes the place of genuine Christian conversion in the South, and how Christians in my generation are leading the way to a resurgence in real gospel teaching.

Last but not least, here are two songs from Tim Hawkins about Chik-Fil-A. I’ve been on a bigtime CFA kick lately. I’ve already been twice this week and still can’t seem to kick the craving! I sure do love that place…

Let Marriage Be Held in Honor By All

Upon further reflection after writing yesterday’s post about marriage, there are a few points I want to add.

First of all, we must be careful how we describe the analogy between human marriage and Christ’s relationship with the Church. Paul called it “a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32), so I don’t want to oversimplify it. For instance, I wrote:

Even in cases in which it is the bride’s unfaithfulness that breaks the fidelity of a marriage, it is still the responsibility of the Christian husband to reconcile this marriage. We are to pursue our wives no matter what their sin, just as Hosea pursued Gomer. Just as Christ pursues us, his unfaithful bride.

It is important to note that husbands are not responsible for the sins of their wives, though I have heard many Christians teach this. Saying that a husband is at fault when his wife is unfaithful would be analogous to saying that Jesus Christ is at fault for the sins of Christians! No, husband and wife are both individual sinners, who will each give an account for their own sins to God (Romans 14:12).

Husbands have been given the responsibility to lead our families, and it is of our leadership we will give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Some husbands are unfaithful, abusive, neglecting, unloving, terrible leaders. Some husbands lead well, caring for and nurturing their wives in a godly (albeit imperfect) way. Sometimes wives of both types of husbands are unfaithful, and in either case, it is the wife who will be held responsible for her infidelity, and for her submission (or lack thereof) to her husband. A bad spouse does not give one license to sin.

(Note: This does not mean that wives in abusive relationships have no recourse, nor does biblical “submission” mean that they must subject themselves to abuse. Women in this situation should seek counseling, and, if necessary, shelter. Peter wrote that husbands disobedient to God’s word and to their responsibility to lead well may be won over by the respectful and pure conduct of their wives [1 Peter 3:1-2]. I won’t go into further detail at this time, but for further resources along these lines I recommend “Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage” by Lee and Leslie Strobel, and this sermon by Mark Driscoll.)

The responsibility of a faithful husband with an unfaithful wife is to pursue her, and to always seek reconciliation. He is not at fault for her infidelity (though poor leadership may have contributed to the problem), but he is the one to whom God has given the responsibility and privilege of reconciliation. What better way can Christian men display God’s love to a lost and dying world than by responding to injustice with a pure and steadfast love which covers a multitude of sins? This is EXACTLY what Christ has done — and is doing — for us! This distinction is so important, and I don’t want any of us to miss it.

Second, I don’t mean to sound distant and unloving when I say things like, “Nothing sickens me more than the infidelity of Christian husbands.” Believe me when I say that there is no haughtiness in those words; no judgment or condemnation. For I write those words as a husband who is as guilty of the sickening sin of infidelity as any other man. I love my wife, and in my flesh I believe that I would NEVER cheat on her. But Jesus himself has pronounced me guilty when he said, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). As much as I hate it, and as much as I have warred against my lust, I have committed the sin of adultery countless times since (and especially before) our wedding.

It is easy to say that my adultery is less sinful than the adultery of a man who has sex with someone other than his wife, but that distinction comes purely from my flesh. God makes no such distinction. This is why I must constantly and completely rely upon His grace, and upon His mercies, which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Men, the moment we begin to believe that we are above this sin is the moment that we allow the foxes to enter our vineyard, and begin to spoil our relationship (Song of Solomon 2:15). We can never let our guard down. We must always be vigilant in the defense of our marriages, and in the pursuit of our wives. Most importantly, we must pray without ceasing that God would equip us to be the leaders He has called us to be, and that through us He would protect our wives from the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We accomplish this by washing our wives in the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26). The discipleship of our wives is one of our highest callings.

Our greatest weapon against Satan’s designs is forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). We can’t expect our relationships in this world to be perfect, for we only have relationships with sinful people, just as we are sinners ourselves. In Christ there is no eternal condemnation for our sins (Romans 8:1), but they still have consequences. How we deal with those consequences as stewards of God’s grace (1 Peter 4:10), and how we surprise the world when we do not join them in heaping sin upon sin (1 Peter 4:4), makes all the difference.

Some more suggested reading:

Momentary Marriages

In what seems to have become almost a weekly occurrence, I learned this week of yet another divorce in our congregation. Once again, it was a seemingly healthy and happy marriage. Why is it that so many Christians consider marriage to be disposable? Our God certainly does not. Our marriages are designed to image the relationship that Christ has with his Church. Our reverence for marriage ought to be one of the primary ways in which we distinguish ourselves from the world. It ought to be the sweet aroma of Christ to those around us.

Instead, Christians have, by and large, bought into the idea that marriage is a contract, rather than a covenant. We treat marriage as if it exists for our convenience, rather than for Christ. Any number of reasons will suffice for discarding what God has commanded should not be torn asunder.

The thing that baffles me most, though, is how so many divorced or separated couples will sit together on Sunday mornings, as if nothing is wrong. How many more still-married husbands and wives sit side-by-side in the pews with smiles on their faces that belie the tension and unhappiness in their marriages? Why is it that we feel we must hide our troubles from the very community which exists for our support, accountability, love, and friendship?

One of the most common reasons I hear from divorced men for the separation of their marriages sounds something like this: “We just grew apart.” Well, I call “baloney” on this ironic choice of words. Ironic, because the very name by which married men are called — “husbands” — is the same word we use for someone who tends to growing things (think “husbandry”). This word tells us of our role to keep our families together. We are a “house-band”. If we “grow apart” it is because we have failed to cultivate our marriages with the care that they require.

One might object that I am placing too much responsibility on the men, but I believe this is the responsibility placed on us by God as the head of the family. Even in cases in which it is the bride’s unfaithfulness that breaks the fidelity of a marriage, it is still the responsibility of the Christian husband to reconcile this marriage. We are to pursue our wives no matter what their sin, just as Hosea pursued Gomer. Just as Christ pursues us, his unfaithful bride.

When it is the husband himself who is unfaithful, this is even worse. What kind of image do we project of our Lord, who has said that he will NEVER leave or forsake his bride? Nothing sickens me more than the infidelity of Christian husbands.

Brothers, we MUST hold one another accountable for our marriages. I hope and pray that I will always have Godly men in my life who will ask me how I am loving my wife, just as I pray that I will love others enough to do this for them as well.

Christians, our marriages will not be perfect while we live in this world of sin. One day, we will have a perfect marriage, when the real Husband returns for his Bride. Until that day, let us not feel the need to put up false pretenses, but to seek encouragement and counsel from those with whom we are united in Christian fellowship. We must foster an environment in our churches in which married couples can confess their struggles without fear of judgment, mockery, gossip, or condemnation.

God HATES divorce, and so we must. May we rely completely on God’s grace to love our spouses as Christ loves them. On our own, we are incapable of this kind of love, but in Christ, all things are possible.