Thursday, December 10, 2009

You better behave!

I couldn't resist the opportunity for a cheeky title...

Piper
has an excellent post on a very specific, and perplexing, question about parenting. I have wondered about it many times. The question he sets out to answer is "Why should parents require submissive behaviors of children when they may be unregenerate rebels at heart?".

Here are his three main points:
1) For children, external, unspiritual conformity to God’s commanded patterns of behavior is better than external, unspiritual non-conformity to those patterns of behavior.

2) Requiring obedience from children in conformity with God’s will confronts them with the meaning of sin in relation to God, the nature of their own depravity, and their need for inner transformation by the power of grace through the gospel of Christ.

3) The marks of devotion, civility, and manners (“please,” “thank you,” and good eye contact) are habits that, God willing, are filled later with grace and become more helpful ways of blessing others and expressing a humble heart.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Solomon's Advice in the Battle Against Sin

I had the privilege of taking a course this Fall on Old Testament II (Job through Malachi) with Dr. Jim Hamilton. My love for God’s Word has grown as a result, and I am deeply grateful for Dr. Hamilton’s erudition and passion for the truth.

One particularly helpful lecture he gave was on the book of Proverbs. I could point to many helpful things he discussed including the structure of chapters 1-9 or the proverbs about parenting.

But one compelling idea I want to point out comes from his discussion of Prov 7. In that chapter Solomon observes the foolish young man who is enticed by the seductive adulteress (note: this should be seen as paradigmatic; young women are certainly open to seduction). Solomon looks out his window and sees the young man “passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (7:8-9). The young man has set himself up for sin, and, indeed, sin is what follows.

Jim Hamilton explained, among other things, that we see in this chapter a framework for how we should think about sin and temptation to sin. I don’t have the exact words from the lecture, but here is how I summarized it:
1. Identify the things that tempt you, the ways you have fallen in to those sins before. The young man knew the woman would be waiting.
2. Back your way out of it, step by step. The young man took her street, passed near her house, and he did this in the cover of darkness.
3. Then, follow the sequence of actions that led you to fall into that sin. At some point the young man chose to go that direction at that time.
4. Now you have discovered the battle that will lose the war. If I give in on that front which I have identified, the battle will be lost. If, by God’s grace, I win on that front, the battle is won.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). Hamilton’s thoughts here provide an excellent weapon in the daily fight to “put to death the deeds of the body.” The result is life.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trueman's "Nameless One"

I have been meaning to read this article by Carl Trueman for a few months. Now that the semester is over, I finally got around to it. I'm glad I did.

Trueman's thesis is, in my words, that truth is always true, and sometimes it is even popular. But even when truth is not popular, it is still true. Speaking of the current "Young, Restless, and Reformed" movement, he writes:
Finally, I worry that a movement built on megachurches, megaconferences, and megaleaders, does the church a disservice in one very important way that is often missed amid all the pizzazz and excitement: it creates the idea that church life is always going to be big, loud, and exhilarating and thus gives church members and ministerial candidates unrealistic expectations of the normal Christian life. In the real world, many, perhaps most, of us worship and work in churches of 100 people or less; life is not loud and exciting; big things do not happen every Sunday; budgets are incredibly tight and barely provide enough for a pastor's modest salary; each Lord's Day we go through the same routines of worship services, of hearing the gospel proclaimed, of taking the Lord's Supper, of teaching Sunday School; perhaps several times a year we do leaflet drops in the neighbourhood with very few results; at Christmas time we carol sing in the high street and hand out invitations to church and maybe two or three people actually come along as a result; but no matter -- we keep going, giving, and praying as we can; we try to be faithful in the little entrusted to us. It's boring, it's routine, and it's the same, year in, year out.
I find this instructive and clear, and, of course, you should really read the whole thing!