Concord and Your Marriage

December 15, 2008

I am reading through Gary and Besty Ricucci’s book Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace for the sake of my own marriage and the marriages of any couples that I might have the privilege of counseling prior to saying “I do”.  In the first chapter Ricucci speaks about the important role that the local church plays in the health of a marriage. He says:

“The local church is the biblical home for Christian marriage, the indispensable context where love and marriage are to be lived out. Without the church we will be squeezed into the world’s mold.”

He then goes on to write about three provisions God grants as means of protection for your marriage within the context of the local church:

  1. The church is the place where men and women exchange wordly independence for biblical humility. ”  The gradual erosion of the family happens under the influence of an independent man or woman blinded and controlled by his or her pride. Being self-sufficient and self-absorbed comes as second (sinful) nature to most of us. But the Scriptures make it plain that each of us need “others not only beside us but ahead of us and even over us”. Pastor John Piper reminds us that “sanctification is a community project”. The purpose of the church is to help us press on in our Christian faith, to become fully known by others as we walk in the light of Jesus Christ, and confess our temptations, sins and struggles to one another as we pursue true greatness – humility and servanthood.
  2. “The church is the place where marriages are fed and supported with truth.” There may be many resources in the world for your marriage, but too many lack substance because they are not rooted in biblical truth. Ricucci reminds us that “the Lord has established the church as the central depository and dispensary of truth”, and our G0d-given context for this truth is a local body of believers.
  3. “The church is the place where marriages are helped in seasons of need.” Serious trials will assault every marriage. Even without the external pressures of job stress, financial difficulty, rebellious children, illness, every marriage faces the internal conflict that rages because two sinners have entered into the covenant of marriage. We all need other believers to embody the love of Christ to us in the midst of our difficulties and struggles.

It is good to be reminded that in our desire for a healthy marriage, the diagnosis on the road to health begins with a deep, organic connection to the local church. And we should remember that simply being present at church doesn’t mean that we are sufficiently connected and rooted in the life of the church.

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Be A Gospel-Sharing Culture

December 10, 2008

Ligon Duncan posts a helpful summary of what a gospel-sharing local church should look like. I hope you are both encouraged and challenged as I was.

  1. Your whole congregation should be able to articulate the Gospel, personally, in a compelling and understandable way;
  2. Your whole congregation should understand the importance and necessity of their lives, their prayers and their participation in Gospel witness;
  3. Your whole congregation should deeply care about conversions (and I would lay stress here, that we are talking about real conversions, not numbers; disciples, not decisions; changed lives, not merely prayed prayers);
  4. Your whole congregation should earnestly and regularly pray for conversions, talks about their own conversions and the conversions of others, and put a priority on people coming to know God; and
  5. Your whole congregation should be excited about the Gospel itself, and not simply about a method of sharing the Gospel, or a training program.

Are we there yet?

Time Well Spent

December 10, 2008

Do you want to be a good steward of your time? Check out this brief post and find out how.

A Good Reminder

December 3, 2008

Darrell Cook, a missionary to South Africa who has spoken in our church twice, ended a recent email to me and two other pastors with these words:

Please tell your congregations how essential the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is to the IMB.  I would like to have five minutes in your pulpits in December to say thank you to your folks, but that is not possible.  It is a privilege to deliver the gospel of Christ because faithful Baptists continue to give sacrificially.  God has a remarkable plan for missions.  He continues to call people and Baptists continue to send them. 

That’s a good reminder for us to give sacrificially and cheerfully to the World Mission Offering, fifty percent of which comprises our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  As we give, we are helping to support 5,193 missionaries in other countries — missionaries like Darrell and his wife Elaine.  Last year, IMB missionaries started 23,486 churches and celebrated 475,072 baptisms.  Let’s help that work to continue by giving to the World Mission Offering. 

Our big ingathering for the World Mission Offering this year will be the Sunday before Christmas, December 21.  I hope you will come to church that day ready and eager to give.