Check out

New understanding of brain receptor may help fight neurological disorders
We don’t hear many prayers for God’s blessing on drug research. Just as well He does bless without our prayers.

How can single mothers raise godly young men?
As more single women are coming to Christ in schemes, a key question is: “How can we raise Godly young men when the father is absent, and we’re on our own?”

33 Reasons to Abstain from Porn
Jason George: “To give myself a fresh shot of motivation, every single morning I remind myself of 33 reasons why I must abstain from porn. I call it ‘My Personal Purity Motivation.’ It usually takes me about 5 minutes to read through it or to listen to it on my iPod.” (HT: Jim Hamilton)

How were people saved in the Old Testament?
Great answer from Graeme Goldsworthy.

Why every pastor should read about Melissa’s suicide
You’ll need a strong heart to read this post, and even stronger to read the book. May God grant the strength.

Why one young Houston couple won’t leave $4Billion fortune to their three children
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at that family conference.


Some Reflections From a New Dad (age 47)

Yesterday was my 47th birthday, which I celebrated holding my two-week old baby in my arms. Some scattered thoughts as I reflect on this gracious providence:

My God is surprising: Most asked question during Shona’s pregnancy? “Was it a surprise?” Most tempting answer? “Yes, neither of us have any idea how this happened!” But our most common answer: “It wasn’t a surprise to God!” No, He wasn’t surprised, but it was a surprise to us in the sense that we didn’t think that God would give us another child in our mid-forties, 10 years after the last one! We sometimes just look at one another and laugh.

Scot Lewis Murray 2 hours old and fast asleep

My spirit is reviving: A few years ago, when I had numerous health problems and then almost died from blood clots in my lungs, I got quite morose for a while. I felt my life had peaked and was now on the downward slope towards decrepitude, retirement, and mortality. Best years behind me and all that. But this little bundle of life has given me a new lease of life and I’m raring to go again.

Scot Lewis Murray now 2 weeks old and a bit brighter

My body is aging: Yes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Despite my revived spirit, my body won’t cooperate as it used to. I now know why most people do this in their twenties and thirties. Scot certainly won’t have as active a father as my other kids, but he’s got four entertainers to take my place.

Shona's right and left hand men

My wife is amazing: Like me, Shona’s no spring chicken, and yet there she is night after night leaping crawling out of bed to feed Scot, sometimes three times a night, while I snore on. It’s like she’s 25 all over again. I love watching her beautiful care for this little man.

My kids are helping: Well, OK, the two girls are. They are actually competing to change the most diapers! The boys? Well, they’re doing more than their fair share of chores about the house. And they love to stroke the wee guy’s warm and fuzzy head.

L-R: Joni, Allan, Amy, and Angus

My church is rejoicing: It’s really taken us aback to see the joy that other Christians have for us and with us. We took the wee guy out to church last Sunday night (he slept through the whole service), and we were just overwhelmed with the waves of joy and gladness. People have been so kind with meals, presents, cards, etc. We’re deeply grateful. Everyone seems to love the name as well – Scot Lewis Murray. As he’s our first only American, we wanted to give him a permanent reminder of his roots. BTW, Scot with one “T” is the Scottish version. Two “T’s” is Irish. And “Lewis” is Shona’s island home and also where I pastored for seven wonderful years.

My future is shrinking: Although we know that our lives could end at anytime, when we have children in our twenties, we usually think that we’ll see our children marry and have children of their own, etc. With Scot, I’ll be a senior when he’s a senior, though at different ends of the scale. I won’t see as much of his life as my other children. That’s painful in a way, and yet it calls forth more faith and trust as I commend him and my future to God – however long or short it may be.

My Father and Mother visiting from Scotland

My parenting is humbling: One of the cards I got yesterday, said “To the best Dad in the world.” It was a lovely sentiment. I wish it was true. It’s not. I feel I’ve been such a failure as a Dad, so much so that I really can’t believe God would give me another son to father. Scot may get the benefit of some of the failures I’ve learned from over the years, but my hope for him is not in my fathering. It’s in my Heavenly Father and His gift of His only Son.


Check out

Church cultures that crush the weak
Two lessons that we all can learn from cases of serial abuse. And judging by Tim’s review, here’s a helpful book for victims. I agree with Tim’s reservation about unconditional forgiveness.

Hope for revival in Britain?
Thomas Kidd with the negatives and positives of a recent visit to the UK. His Stirling Baptist Church experience encouraged me.

How to survive a cultural crisis
Mark Dever’s biblical version of “Keep calm and carry on.”

Questions of Modesty
Kim Shay: “Modesty is about an inner disposition of the heart that makes me willing not to be noticed, to fade into the background, to let someone else speak, for someone else to receive credit.”

The Pastor and his money
Some good advice on a touchy subject.

10 ways to squeeze the juice out of a sermon


The Most Important Question in Marriage

The main question most people ask in marriage relationships today is, “What can I get out of it?” Especially, “What sex can I get out of it?”

And when the investment of time, money, emotion, and sexual energy does not pay off as expected?

Separation.

And the search for a better return from someone else. Someone else who’ll fit into my life better. Someone else who won’t take so much of my time and money. Someone else who will fill me rather than drain me.

But if everyone’s trying to get more than they give, no one’s going to be happy and marriages are doomed to premature and painful endings.

In contrast, the Bible says that the most important question in marriage is not, “What can I get?” but “What can I give?”

Blessed Giving

And, strangely, when each party is focused more on giving than getting, the result is more getting for both parties. In marriage also it really is “more blessed to give than to receive.”

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul presents Jesus as the ultimate model of this self-giving love. Because He loved us, He sacrificially gave Himself for us. Because He loved us, He sacrificially submitted to His Father’s will. And what a union such self-giving created! And what a pattern for our marriages!

Paul’s basic argument in this passage is that the more we give of ourselves in the service of our husband or wife, the more union, intimacy, satisfaction, and fulfillment we will discover and enjoy in our marriages. Let the “What can I give?” question drown out and drive out the “What can I get?” question in every situation of life:

  • When you argue: What can I give up to resolve this?
  • When you’ve hurt one another: What apology can I give to heal this?
  • When on vacation: What can I give to make his vacation better?
  • When in bed: What can I give to enhance his/her enjoyment of physical intimacy?
  • When budgeting: What can I give up this month to give her more spending money?
  • When talking: How can I give her more of a listening ear?
  • When leading: How can I serve her better in my leadership?
  • When submitting: How can I give him more respect when I disagree with his decisions?
  • When filling free time: How can I give him most pleasure today?
  • When offended: How can I give him the benefit of the doubt?
  • When betrayed: How can I give him grace?
  • When you have no feelings of love: How can I do loving actions?
  • When she is not as attractive: How can I love her as the Lord loved the church?
  • When you see his ugly side: How can I help him become more beautiful?
  • When he’s depressed: How can I give him encouragement?
  • When she’s lost sleep: How can I give her rest?

Give, Give, Give 

Give your mind, your heart, your eyes, your hands, your body, your money. Give financially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, sexually, and spiritually. Give yourself, your whole self, away. And if we believe the Bible rather than our instincts and our culture, we will be more blessed in that giving than in all the getting we can imagine (Acts 20:35).

The great aim of all this marital giving is that eventually we each give so much of self away, that each has all of the other, and the two become one; we lose so much independence, and become so inter-dependent that we become “one flesh” in every way.


Check out

Seven Phrases on the Ten Words
Nathan Eshelman with seven principles to help us apply the Ten Commandments and live a careful life in gratitude for the grace of Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Edwards: Why Read Him?
Owen Strachan gives three good reasons. I’d suggest starting with The History of Redemption.

Twelve Ways Pastors went from Burnout to Vision
Or 12 ways to avoid burnout.

The Way of Wisdom
Tom Schreiner with an insightful introduction to Proverbs.

Torn to Heal: Why I wrote a book on suffering
My endorsement for Mike Leake’s new book: Torn to Heal is the most concise, readable, and helpful theology of suffering I’ve come across. The content, length, and tone is just perfect for those who are in the furnace of affliction screaming “Why?”

Will a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven?
Firm, thoughtful, compassionate answer.

Tiny Mall Kiosks Make a Suprisingly Big Impact
I always wondered if these stalls made much money.


The Manner is the Message

Think back to the pastor you sat under as you grew up in church, or the first pastor you had as a young Christian.

Now think of your view of God.

Related aren’t they?

Our view of God is not just determined by our pastor’s message but by our pastor’s manner.

  • If our pastor’s preaching is academic, above-our-heads, heavy in facts and light on feeling, then we’ll view God as a distant professor who finds it hard to come down to our level.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is harsh, demanding, and condemning, etc., then we’ll view God as an unyielding judge who’s never satisfied with our best efforts.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is jokey, humorous, and laugh-a-minute, then we’ll view God as a circus clown who’s just out to make us His buddies.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is touchy-feelly, weepy, and emotional, then we’ll view God as a soft-hearted weakling who’d like to help but just can’t.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is argumentative, belligerent, and combative, then we’ll view God as a pugnacious debater who wants to win an argument rather than our souls.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is confused, inconsistent, and rambling, we’ll view God as a befuddled and bewildered senior who’s seen better days and really can’t be trusted.
  • If our our pastor’s calls to faith in Christ are rare, half-hearted, or always dry-eyed, we’ll wonder if God really wants us to be saved.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is long, boring, and repetitive, we’ll think God is similarly laborious and unappealing.
  • If our pastor’s preaching is joyless, morose, and gloomy, we’ll view God as a cranky and pessimistic killjoy.

Yes, people’s view of God is impacted by our message, but also (equally?) by our manner.

What a responsibility! How much we need the Holy Spirit for message, method, and manner.

UPDATE FROM NANCY GUTHRIE’S COMMENT: “But if our pastor speaks to both our heads and our hearts, applying God’s Word to where we live, then we’ll view God as present with us, inviting us to come and reason with him.”