And in This Corner…

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31–32, ESV)

Life can be brutal. Sometimes we feel like we’re on the losing end of a boxing glove, getting beaten and battered by the punches of life. In those moments, it can be easy to grow despondent and believe that God’s love has somehow forgotten how to find its way into your life.

But the above verses remind us that God never forgets us and it always in our corner, no matter how we perceive our circumstances. For the Christian there couldn’t be better news in all the world. God is decidedly for us. He’s is on your side. He’s got our back. There is no good thing that he will withhold from you today. The logic is plain and simple: if God did not spare his most prized possession — his precious Son — what would blessing or gift would he possibly hold back from you now!

In his commentary on this passage, John Calvin wrote, “This is the chief and therefore the only support to sustain us in every temptation. If God is not propitious to us, no sure confidence can be conceived, even though everything should smile upon us. On the other hand, however, his favor alone is a sufficiently great consolation for every sorrow, and a sufficiently strong protection against all the storms of misfortune.”

God’s love for you is as sure and steadfast as his Word. No matter how intense the battle, never forget that you can count on God’s steadfast love and the finished work of Jesus Christ to bind you tightly to your Heavenly Father.

Holding the Sea in a Spoon

As we continue to study the attributes of God at our church, I am reminded over and over again that God is just way beyond comprehension. The deeper we dive, the deeper the ocean becomes. The more we learn about him, the more glimpses we catch of the great expansiveness that is our God.

Richard Baxter said it well:

From this greatness and immensity of God also your soul must reverently stay all its busy, bold inquiries, and know that God is to us, and to every creature, incomprehensible. If you could fathom or measure him, and know his greatness by a comprehensive knowledge, he were not God. A creature can comprehend nothing but a creature. You may know God, but not comprehend him; as your foot treads on the earth, but does not cover all the earth. The sea is not the sea, if you can hold it in a spoon.

Like holding the sea in a spoon. Yep, that’s about right.

And the Apostle Paul said it even better:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36, ESV)

Glory to God!

The Attributes of God: Holiness

We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire his wisdom, but his holiness he cannot even imagine. – A.W. Tozer

We have begun studying the attributes of God on Sunday morning at Brown Corners Church and this week we will look together at the holiness of God. Tozer rightly states that we cannot conceptualize the best person we know and simply think of God as better still. There is no one like our God, infinitely pure and completely separate from all sin.

When men in the Bible like Isaiah, John or Daniel caught just a glimpse of the radiating glory of God’s holiness, they completely unravelled. This vision of God is almost completely absent from our lives as 21st century Christians. We love to know that we can call God “Abba” and sing about him being our friend. We feel much more comfortable speaking of God’s love, goodness and grace. But such truths become all that more amazing when set against the backdrop of his transcendent holiness.

We would do well to meditate on the “God of Mt. Sinai” and tremble before his majesty. It is only in understanding those aspects of his character that we can truly appreciate the grace of God in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

Exercising Male Headship in the Home

Owen Strachan wrote a great post today on what it practically means for a man to be the “head” in a marriage relationship (Eph. 5:23). No doubt the topic is confusion and controversial in many circles, but when you see it played out in the way he describes it will truly be pleasing to God. Here’s what he says:

Few words are more invested with meaning than the term “headship.” It’s a Christological and theological term that is grounded in Ephesians 5:23, which reads “For the husband is the head [Greek kephale] of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” This is the preeminent statement in all of Scripture on what a husband is and is to be.

This means that the husband, in John Piper’s seminal words, is the one who takes “primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home” (Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, 84). There is so much to unpack here, and it can be confusing for modern men to understand, especially since a secularizing culture dislikes, even detests, the concept. Because that is the case, let me suggest ten ways by which godly husbands can practice Christlike headship in their home.

10. Christlike male headship means that you see the spiritual nourishment of your wife as your primary duty (Eph. 5:28-30). This doesn’t happen by accident; it happens as, on a regular basis, you open the Bible with her, pray with her, and talk about God with her. You don’t need to be a global theologian to read the Bible and pray the Bible, right?

9. Christlike male headship means that you love just one wife. Like Jesus, who loved only his bride, you have eyes for no one else. You save up your affection for her. You live on a continual mission to treasure her and to make her feel treasured.

8. Christlike male headship means that you train yourself to know the Lord in a vibrant way. You recognize that your family will only flourish under your leadership when you are flourishing in Christ. This means being in the Word regularly and praying regularly and being a faithful church member. You don’t have to be a spiritual all-star, future biographers poring over your Moleskins for clues into your thinking. You do need to be faithful to your Savior by the Spirit’s awesome power (Romans 6, 8).

7. Christlike male headship means on date night/vacations, you think first, “What would she like to do?” not, “What would I like to do?” If you’re on vacation or a date, you’re first trying to find activities she would enjoy. With apologies to 1990s-era bracelets, I try to ask myself, WWBL—what would Bethany like? For you, this may mean that you forgo a war museum, a basketball or baseball game, or a superhero movie. Then, not only do you find something she would like to do, but you enter into it fully. You’re present with her. She will love you for it.

6. Christlike male headship means that at dinner, after a long day at work, you hold the baby so your wife, frazzled from kids and home, can eat first. Your food is getting cold; your stomach is growling. You are hungry, and mannishly so. But you hold your child so that the woman who sacrificially gives 100% of her energy each day to care for your children can, at the very least, eat a hot meal. You can’t make childraising easy; it’s always challenging. You can, however, make it more pleasurable.

5. Christlike male headship means, when conflict happens (as it will), you lead in apologizing. First, before you speak, you listen well, inviting your wife to share what hurt her. You don’t interrupt her or fight her off. As you think about what you’ve done, you confess your sin to her. You don’t offer excuses; you display humility by owning your faults like a man. You lead in showing humility; you don’t expect her to show it first.

4. Christlike male headship means that you show strength wherever you can. You’re not a sphinx; you’re not a superman. You can and should show genuine emotion, and you should make clear to your son(s) that men get sad, men get angry at evil, men are tender and gentle with women. But like David charged Solomon, you’re engaged in a lifelong process of “showing yourself a man” and thus being strong for others (1 Kings 2:2). When hardship hits, headship persists.

3. Christlike male headship means that you put yourself in harm’s way, gladly taking a hit to protect your family (and the weak). Christ “gave himself up” for the church (Eph. 5:25). You do the same for loved ones and, by extension, those in your neighborhood without protection. You do so willingly, without fear, knowing that this is your divine call as a man. You may not be a fearsome linebacker; your shoulders may not ripple with muscle. But as a God-ordained head, whether 6’6” or 4’10” you put yourself in the line of fire, and you take others out of it.

2. Christlike male headship means that like the best leaders—generals, presidents, coaches, and so on—you solicit gobs of wisdom from wise counselors (namely, your wife).You generously and gladly solicit your wife’s wisdom. If your relationship is like mine, she will put you to shame in this category. She will have good idea after good idea. None of this threatens you or upsets you. The strongest men are not those who never listen. The strongest men are those who are so confident in Christ that they crave wisdom, celebrate humility, and are glad, not threatened, when others contribute.

1. In these and 1,000 other ways, Christlike male headship means you die to yourself daily.This is your constant thought throughout the day: how can I be like Jesus and die to myself for the good of my wife and my family? He “gave himself up” for others. In the power of his cross and resurrection, I am going to do the same, come what may.


Conclusion


You may never have witnessed this kind of leadership. It might only be theoretical. Men in your past might have abused their authority and strength, and doubly damned themselves by justifying their abuses as part of manhood and leadership. If this is your experience, I invite you to consider the cross, which makes all things new. Christian leadership doesn’t mean everyone bowing down to you because you’re so great. It means, like Jesus, that you become a courageous servant, dying to yourself for the benefit of others. If you have heard differently, wipe the slate clean. The Bible’s word is better than any other. Read Ephesians 5 again, and soak it in.

Our culture may reject male headship; it may undermine men. None of that matters to you. None of it bogs you down. Whether trained by a godly dad from birth or newly learning about headship as a young believer, your face is set like a flint to pursue the glory of God as the Christlike head of a home. That’s your goal; that, like a distant trumpet summoning you to sacrificial leadership, is your call.

Delighting in the Fatherhood of God

How good it is to meditate on the fact that we have a heavenly Father, a good, gracious and kind Father.

Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if any thing, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if you hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 36.)

Still the Same God

It is a wonderful thing to know that our God never changes. Though we and the world around us may change, not one of his eternal plans nor a smidgen of his character has budged throughout all eternity. Not even a shadow of change exists in him (James 1:17). This includes the ways in which he deals with mankind.

Listen to the words of J.I. Packer:

Still he blesses those on whom he sets his love in a way that humbles them, so that all the glory may be his alone. Still he hates the sins of his people, and uses all kinds of inward and outward pains and griefs to wean their hearts from compromise and disobedience. Still he seeks the fellowship of his people, and sends them both sorrows and joys in order to detach their love from other things and attach it to himself. Still he teaches believers to value his promised gifts by making them wait for those gifts, and compelling them to pray persistently for them, before he bestows them. So we read of God dealing with his people in the Scripture record, and so he deals with them still. His aims and principles of action remain consistent; he does not at any time act out of character. Our ways, we know, are pathetically inconsistent — but not God’s.

 

A Disciple’s Renewal

O MY SAVIOUR,

Help me.
I am so slow to learn,
so prone to forget,
so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be
on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace
so that there may be
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervour in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
what can be found only in the Creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee
until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings
and Lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously,
and in victory attain my end.

Valley of Vision

Better Than We Can Imagine

Stephen Charnock reminds us that no matter how great our thoughts of God, he is greater still!

Whatsoever God is, he is infinitely so: he is infinite Wisdom, infinite Goodness, infinite Knowledge, infinite Power, infinite Spirit; infinitely distant from the weakness of creatures, infinitely mounted above the excellencies of creatures: as easy to be known that he is, as impossible to be comprehended what he is. Conceive of him as excellent, without any imperfection; a Spirit without parts; great without quantity; perfect without quality; everywhere without place; powerful without members; understanding without ignorance; wise without reasoning; light without darkness; infinitely more excelling the beauty of all creatures, than the light in the sun, pure and unviolated, exceeds the splendor of the sun dispersed and divided through a cloudy and misty air: and when you have risen to the highest, conceive him yet infinitely above all you can conceive of spirit, and acknowledge the infirmity of your own minds. And whatsoever conception comes into your minds, say, This is not God; God is more than this: if I could conceive him, he were not God; for God is incomprehensibly above whatsoever I can say, whatsoever I can think and conceive of him.

The Existence and Attributes of God. Vol 1, p. 200-201.

Book Review

A Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2 (Psalm 42-89)
Allen P. Ross9780825425639

If you’re looking for a doctrinally sound and thorough commentary on the Psalms, then Ross’ commentary is for you. When searching for commentaries for sermon preparation, I like to have two types: technical and pastoral. The more technical commentaries to deal with an in depth study the nuances of language and culture as well as various scholarly viewpoints on the text at hand. Commentaries that are more pastoral in nature, while still explaining the meaning of the text, emphasize application and are often peppered with illustrations.

Commentaries on the Psalms that are pastoral in nature abound, but I have found very few that delve into the Hebrew and the background of the passages like Ross does. But he does so in a way that a (very) amateur Hebrew student can understand. Even though he deals with passages in depth, he doesn’t get bogged down in superfluous details.

The textual data for each Psalm is footnoted and very helpful. And the “Message and Application” section at the end of each Psalm helps to translate the meaning in to real life.

A commentary’s layout is also very important to me and book is laid out very well. I have not looked at other commentaries in this series, but his outline of each chapter, the room in the margin for notes, and the use of footnotes (as opposed to endnotes) are small considerations that are important to me as I read along

Ross’ commentary on the Psalms is probably the most helpful I’ve found and will be my first stop when preaching a passage from the Psalms.

I received the book for free from Kregel in exchange for an unbiased review.

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