Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Singles and Relationship things

For many single young people relationships are a BIG deal. The guys are eyeing the girls and trying to figure out how to approach them with the skill and smoothness of a James Bond or the charm and allure of Denzel Washington (FYI- movies stars make terrible role models). Meanwhile the ladies are busy trying to present themselves as available and stunningly attractive to the eligible suitors. I hear ladies are “slay queens” which if I am correct means they are so beautiful and attractive their looks will kill you! The end game of course is for the most handsome, smooth, charming, and coolest guy to sweep the most attractive “slay queen” off her feet, and they live happily ever after. All that makes for a good chick flick so far and therein lies the problem. This “game” makes for a good fictional movie and nothing more, and it is dangerous when lived out in reality.  It has created huge relationship problems and invariably affects marriage relationships. What’s wrong with the current nature of our relationships?
It encourages fictional lives
We in our pride develop fantasies about the world, our lives and how relationships should work. The problem is fantasies are exactly that, fantasies. They are often based on fictional movies, soap operas and chick flicks which are based on imaginary characters and story lines. If not from the movies, it’s from the discussions with their single friends. Talk about the blind leading the blind. As a result the relationships formed are often pretentious. Differences are either not acknowledged or ignored. The struggles and weakness of individuals are not addressed. When the couple sets goals for the future, they are simply building castles in the air. If there is one thing single people can do for their own good is live in the real world when it comes to relationships. This is life not the movies.
It makes single people act like they are married
One way this fantasy lifestyle comes out is the way single people act married. For the sake of clarity—you are single until you are legally declared husband and wife. Therefore, those who are dating and/or courting are by definition single people! However, it is often common to see single people isolating themselves and spending way too much time the two of them rather than building their friendship around people and seeking accountability and counsel from those who have gone before. Invariably this behavior often leads to sexual temptation and sin. Single people in relationships assume so much control over each other because of acting like they are married such that they even encourage each other to disobey and disregard their parent’s authority (i.e. in their desire to meet up, they break curfew or in worst cases sneak out of homes and “runaway” for weekends or holidays). As a result, a lot of single people who may be growing in their Christian faith suddenly stop growing and begin to indulge in all kinds of sin once they get in a relationship because of acting like they are married.
It often ends badly  
Because these relationships start on the wrong and unbiblical footing and often have wrong motives, the break ups tend to be messy. Here you are thinking your dreams have come true and you have finally found the person you cannot live without (despite the fact that you lived all these years without them) and all your fantasies are finally being fulfilled and you commit all your time, energy, emotions and monies to this person because in your mind you are practically married, then it suddenly ends. Not only is the relationship broken but also the friendship. So people who are supposed to show Christian love and care can no longer stand each other. It is at this point that most people then seek counsel and guidance, but unfortunately the damage has already been done by that time.
I end with Paul’s counsel to young Timothy on how to relate with different age groups in the Church.
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lessons from the life and ministry of Spurgeon

I recently read two biographies on the great British preacher and pastor of the nineteenth century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. One book was a traditional biography by Arnold Dallimore titled "Spurgeon" and the other is titled the "Forgotten Spurgeon" by Iain Murray where he seeks to explain the man by the theological controversies and ministerial challenges he faced throughout his ministry. Having read the two books coupled with the lessons he taught ministers in training, here are some lessons we can glean from the man and his ministry

It is essential that you keep growing
Spurgeon understood the need for a preacher to keep growing. In speaking to the students in the ministerial college, he urged them on the necessity of ministerial progress for a preacher. He highlights four areas where growth is needed. “It is desirable that the Lord’s ministers should be the picked men of the church, yea of the entire universe, for such the age demands; therefore, in reference to yourselves and your personal qualifications, I give you the motto, “Go forward.” Go forward in personal attainments, forward in gifts and in grace, forward in fitness for the work, and forward in conformity to the image of Jesus.”[1]

Preaching should be central to a pastor and the church
From a tender age of 17, Spurgeon was a preacher and preaching was central to his ministry. Though he was a man who wore many hats, preaching was by far his main priority and invariably become central to the life of the church. And his preaching proclaimed Christ and him crucified. And he himself claimed:  
The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” [7/9/1876; sermon #2899]

Ministers should be men of action
He exhorts ministers by saying, “I have to say to you, go forward in actual work, for, after all, we shall be known by what we have done. We ought to be mighty in deed as well as word. There are good brethren in the world who are impractical. The grand doctrine of the Second Advent makes them stand with open mouths, peering into the skies, so that I am ready to say, “Ye men of Plymouth, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?” The fact that Jesus Christ is to come is not a reason for star-gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Ghost” He then concludes the charge by exhorting the men “Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While Societies and Unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you: be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suvarov’s idea of war is mine: “Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form column: Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy.” Our one aim is to save sinners, and this we are not to talk about, but to do in the power of God.”[2]   

[1] C.H. Spurgeon. Lectures to my Students. Pg 235
[2] Ibid. Pg 248

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When things get tough.....?

There are many times in our Christian life, when the facts of our faith (our theology) and the reality or experience of life, do not seem to match. There many times when what you believe and what is happening do not seem to match up. What do you do? We can either question God, put Him on trial demanding answers or we can be driven to despair trying to figure out or explain why things are the way they are? David often found himself in situations that he could not explain and challenged his view of God. In one such incident he pens his response in Psalm 131 and gives us what the believer’s response in such times should.  
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131
Do not be proud or arrogant
Pride is when sinful man seeks to take up the status and position of God and refuses to acknowledge their dependence on Him. This is about worship. Instead of worshiping God we worship of self. Self-worship is the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ, the most hidden, secret and deceitful of all lusts.
Pride manifests itself in; self-importance, self-righteousness, self-promotion, self- contentedness, self- reliance, self-pity, self-attention, self-assurance, self-absorbed, self-preoccupied, self-opinionated, self-obsessed, self-governing, self-seeking, self-satisfied, self-willed, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-infatuated, self-interested, self-directing, self- indulgent, self-flattering, self-reliant etc. Trust in the Lord at such times. 
Know your place
David says I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. David quickly realized that he was not in control of the world and the happenings in his life. David knew his place! The desire to be in charge and in control of life results in all kinds of frustrations. The old prayer is spot on when the author says “OH Lord give me the courage to change the things that I can change and the peace to accept serenely the things I cannot change and the wisdom to tell the difference.”
Trust in the lord
David desires to be a like a weaned. A weaned child is after the presence of the mother and to foster a relationship with her unlike a nursing child who simply desires and cries for milk. Even though things do not make sense and even painful, David rests in the Lord and his hope is in him and him along. Even though we do not understand the ways of God, we can fully trust in Him because we can be confident in who He is.
“I am not conceited, LORD, and I don't waste my time on impossible schemes.   But I have learned to feel safe and satisfied, just like a young child on its mother's lap. People of Israel, you must trust the LORD now and forever.” Contemporary English Version