Friday, January 24, 2014

Marshmallow Boy


How many young men out there have big dreams for the Kingdom of God?

How many of those young men are actually doing big things for the Kingdom of God?

I myself have wrestled with this; I've talked to brothers in Christ about it; the recent Southwest Family Vision Conference put an exclamation point on it.  

"In all labor, there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."  That's how Solomon put it.  Mike Wazowski took a more in-your-face approach- "Less talk, more pain, marshmallow boy!"

Guys, we're getting old quick.  If you're like me, you probably have big goals and dreams.  I want to marry young, have a boatload (read: army) of kids, be an elder in my church, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, maybe write a few books...

Those dreams are great.  Taking those dreams out of the metaphysical realm and applying them to our daily decisions, however, is not an easy task. 

We’ve all heard of the “starving artists”; people who, ostensibly for the noble love of their craft, are still flipping burgers at 30 years of age, eking out a living so they can chase their dream.  And our culture tells us that this is a noble thing.

I don’t think Scripture agrees with our culture, though.

As young men, we all have a huge calling as members of the Body of Christ.  We can’t be spinning our wheels; we can’t be wasting God's time (Eph. 5:16).  We’re in the middle of a war, and we’re at a cataclysmic point in that war.  This is not a time for apathetic, lackadaisical manhood.

We can't be playing video games and watching movies.  Rome is burning, and we, the young men, who should be using our youthful vigor to build the Church of Christ and tear down the gates of hell, are fiddling around on our Xbox.

Now is the time to be seeking God, building foundations for our families-to-be, working, working, and working.  Now is the time to be getting married.  Now is the time to draw swords and leap into the colosseum of Reality.  Now is the time to be doing manly things.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week or next year.  We don't have time to waste.  We must assume the responsibilities of manhood.  We are the next wave, and we are sorely needed on the forefront.

We need to be focused leaders-in-training, loving our local churches, praying, studying, honoring our parents, investing in our families, making the most of our single years (and trying to bring them to a rapid conclusion!), paying our own bills, starting the next generation of Christian households, cutting out the good to invest in the best.

Or, as Kipling put it, filling every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run.

So guys- men- what are you doing?  Are your works and your words matching each other?  Are you a man, or an adolescent?  Has God called you to marriage?  Then what are you waiting for?  Does something prevent you?  Then what are you doing to eliminate that barrier?  Are you paying your own bills?  Driving your own car?  Are you contributing to your local church?  Are you making disciples and being discipled?

Are you working, or wishing?

Please pray for me on this.  I need it.  I want to be a faithful warrior- not one who spent so much time sharpening his sword that he never actually joined the fight.

All it takes is a little sleep, a little slumber, a little free time, a little dreaming, and enough busy work to make us feel like we're actually accomplishing something, and ten years of marriage and five kids have been lost in the great black hole of "could have been."

---------------

Many a man claims to manhood,
Many a runner to run,
Many a runner to finish the race,
Which yet he has hardly begun.
Many a man is convinced
That what he's done is good enough,
Many a man has calmly called quits
Just because the going got rough.
Many a man has spent many a year
Dreaming his life's thrilling plot,
And come to the end and realized
He'd already done it- or not.
Yet there are a few who have chosen,
By the Grace which God chose to outpour,
To turn the few talents they're given,
To run 'til they can run no more,
To forsake the good for the better,
And the better for that which is best;
Spend six full days upon labor,
And the seventh on diligent rest;
Rather to work for slight profit,
Than talk of great things and have none;
Spend their time waking than dreaming;
Embracing the sweat and the sun;
To live out their life to its fullest,
And breathless, arrive at the end,
Knowing they've done, and not talked about doing,
Chose to climb, even slow, ne'er descend.
Few men can say this, for most, in their prime,
Succumbed to the comforting whisper of time,
Which says that tomorrow will gladly fulfill
Whatever today is too difficult still.
But that far-seeing man who prays for the grace,
To redeem the time he may run,
That is the man at whom history quakes,
That is the man who has won.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Little Engine That Couldn't


Why does the second generation so often fail to pass the Covenant on to the third?

Is it because we don't try?  Is it because we succumb to apathy, or were never really into the whole religion thing?  Is it because we are unprepared?  Incompetent?  Don't have the resources?  Do we fail to pass on the love of God to our children because we can't?

Or do we fail to pass on the Covenant because we think we can?

As a second-generation homeschooled family-integrated Bible-indoctrinated Christian, I am an über-blessed man, and I share that über-blessed status with many, many of my dearest siblings in Christ.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

But sin has a nasty little habit of viewing evidences of God's goodness as evidences of ours.

Suddenly, the green pastures of God's mercy have been devoured by Jeshurun, and he's kicking all over the place.

There is no place in the Christian life for "I think I can, I think I can" theology.  We do indeed need to have faith, but none of that faith should be wasted on ourselves.

If second-generation branches are confident in their ability to raise their little grapes the right way, they may find themselves drying up and being cast into the fire.

We must remember to eagerly and faithfully and desperately and joyfully plead with God for His mercy upon us, our families, our descendants, our local churches.   We must never think for a moment that we have everything under control; if we think that we will be able to, in our own strength, do what David didn't-

Tremble.  Tremble before The LORD, for He will not be mocked, and His glory will not be given to another.

We need Him.  We need His grace.  All of our über-blessedness came from Him, and if He is removed from the equation the über-blessedness will soon follow.  If we stand atop our parapet and proclaim what a great and wise second-generation we are, we may soon find ourselves eating grass for seven years.

Because apart from Christ we can do nothing.  We are the little engines that can't.  No amount of positive thinking can change the fact that if I rely on all of the wonderful knowledge and wisdom and Godly examples that God has given to me, I am still, ultimately, relying on me.

And that can only result in a train wreck.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chicken Little Evangelism


The sky is falling- and you better repent, or it's gonna fall on yo head!

Deuteronomy 13:1-4: Any and all "prophecies"- either in the sense of foretelling or that of forth-telling- must square with the Word of God or they do not even warrant examination (though they may warrant the death of the prophet).

Deuteronomy 18:15-22- the test for prophecy is retrospective.  This has implications for how we speak about God's leading in our lives- "I know this will happen" vs. "I think the LORD will do this; we'll see; at any rate, He wants us to do this *right now*".

A good example of this, from Doug Wilson's "Her Hand in Marriage", is the young man who comes a'courtin' and tells the young lady in question "I *know* you're the one God has for me.  God told me we were supposed to get married."  This is, for a number of reasons, not the right approach, but in light of this principle, the young man should be focused on walking in the Will of God now, and letting The LORD make evident His Will for the future.

My Dad has been a good example of this, as well, on multiple occasions- from telling us that The LORD was going to do something big on his 40th birthday-  Legacy Baptist Church met for the first time the day after Dad turned 40- to telling us that we were going to have another boy and name him Malachi.  In each case, he stated these things in this manner: "I think The LORD is telling me this... but it could just be my head-noise," at once believing and heeding the Voice of the Spirit and acknowledging humbly the human aptitude for error.

Scripture doesn't call us to predict the future or to discover it at any rate faster than 24 hours per day.  We need to concern ourselves with walking in obedience to God *now,* not with figuring out the results.  We can leave those to Him.

Making wise observations, "knowing the times," having eschatological convictions, and listening to the Voice of the Holy Spirit- these are different, and necessary, and good.

However, an eschatological position that predicts the specific time or temporal window of The End toes this line dangerously; to use those humanistic projections as reason to disregard and disobey written Revelation is to leap over the line glibly.

To use our prophetic conclusions as evangelistic billy-clubs rather than standing on the Truth of the Word of God trades the Gospel for a mess of scare-tactic stew.  Further, it does for the authority of the Church what counting to twenty does for the authority of the parent.

God will indeed judge everyone, eventually.  If we are faithful to proclaim His Lordship, it will not be necessary to stamp a scary-sounding expiration date on the globe.  Every knee will bow at the Name of Christ one day- and the bowing part is a lot more important than the one day part.