Monday, October 26, 2009

The Battle for Faith and Future

Wow, what a weekend it was!
After work Friday my family headed to Morton, IL., for Providence Church's Reformation Day Faire 2009. We arrived around 8:30pm and caught Charlie Zahm just as he was beginning his concert at the church, and what a treat that was for my family after traveling for three hours.

This Faire was birthed from the heart of Pastor James McDonald, (pictured with wife Stacy), and his love for theology. The theme this year was the ministry of John Calvin. Speakers included Douglas Bond, Marcus Serven, and James McDonald.

The Faire covered two days, Friday and Saturday, and many families, like my own, stayed and worshiped with the good folks at Providence Church on Sunday as well. Pastor James' message Sunday was about the prayer life of John Calvin, and his challenge to all in attendance was to pray fervently, expectantly, and passionately, like John Calvin did some 500 years ago, and see what the LORD does through those prayers.

It was refreshing to see such passion, and an earnest desire for holiness exude from Pastor McDonald as he moved around the stage pleading with the those in attendance, and especially the men, to take serious, their walks with the LORD, and their prayer life with the LORD.

Providence Church is a church that takes serious the biblical mandate for men to be strong spiritual leaders in their homes. They call men to lead their families in a way that honors the LORD and reflects Him well. Providence is seeking to raise up Men who will disciple their children to the glory of the LORD, and send them out as fiery arrows in the battle that has been waging since the fall of man and beyond. This, I truly appreciate about Providence, and churches elsewhere, that are moving back to the Bible in their expectations of men.

I went away from Providence with a renewed sense of my Divine calling as a man. It's always refreshing to be reminded and encouraged about the responsibilities that the good LORD has laid upon me toward my children; discipling, educating, protecting, providing for, etc: as well as those responsibilities toward my wife of loving, protecting, providing for, and cherishing her as a divine gift!

"O' LORD, may you bless the work of Providence, and ALL Gospel preaching, Bible believing, Christ exalting assemblies through-out the vast globe that you created. And may these churches continue to call Men to bear their swords as they fight for the heart of their King, King Jesus. Amen!"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Federal Husband

(Another article from Douglas Wilson. To view more click here.)

The Federal Husband

by Douglas Wilson

Among the many words which our century has trashed, words like awesome or gay, the word federal most certainly heads the list. The word makes us think of big, centralized things, things that make a collectivist's heart feel warm and cozy. We slap the word on institutions so that little old ladies will deposit their money there. Nobody names his bank Bob's Sunshine Bank; the name must be something which exudes solidity and bigness like First Federal Security does.

But the word federal actually comes from the Latin word foedus, which means covenant. Because our federal government is about as uncovenantal as can be imagined, it is not surprising that we have forgotten the original import of the word. We think that federal means centralized, and does not refer in any kind of way to any kind of covenant.

But classical Protestant theology reflects the biblical teaching in this. The Bible describes the relationship between Adam and the human race as a federal one. That is, God made a covenant with the entire human race, with Adam serving as the representative or covenant head of that race. In the same way, our salvation was accomplished federally. Christ, the second Adam, was sent by God to be the federal head of a new race. His obedience was representative, and was imputed to all His elect, identified as such through their faith. This is why Christ stands in a relationship to the Church which is described as one of headship. This headship is covenantal, which means that it is necessarily a federal headship.

This is all well and good, but what is it doing in a column for husbands? The answer is that husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. By the very nature of the case, this means that husbands are told to model or exhibit a federal relationship to their wives. The command to husbands is to love their wives as Christ loved His bride. This means that the theology of Christ's love will be determinative of how a Christian wife is loved. How a man understands ultimate covenantal loving will settle how he sets about covenantal loving. How he understands the thing to be imitated will determine how he imitates. If our theology is biblical (and thereby federal, or covenantal), then the wife will be loved as Christ really did love the Church. If the theology is either sub-federal or anti-covenantal, then a woman, when she is loved at all, will be loved sentimentally.

In the modern Church, the central intellectual sin regarding marriage is one of definition. We want to assume that marriage is a permanent "roommate" arrangement between two individuals, with certain sexual privileges included. But the Bible describes marriage as a covenant. The adulteress is one who forsakes the companion of her youth, the covenant of her God (Prov. 2:17). The men of Israel are rebuked because they abandoned their covenantal wives (Mal. 2:14). But we have thought that we could have biblical marriages without even knowing what a covenant marriage is.

At the heart of this covenantal relationship is the issue of responsibility. When there is genuine federal headship, the head as representative assumes responsibility for the condition of the members of the covenant body. This is why we can say that when Adam disobeyed in the garden, we were there sinning in and with him. And this is why we can say that when Christ obeyed in the garden, submitting to the will of the Father, we were there obeying in and with Him.

Of course, husbands cannot duplicate this in their relationship with their wives. But though we cannot duplicate it exactly, we are commanded to imitate it. Because marriage is constituted as a covenantal institution, and because the relation to be imitated is also covenantal, such imitation will of necessity be federal.

One of the most difficult things for modern men to understand is how they are responsible for their wives. Men come into a pastoral marriage counseling session with the assumption that "she has her problems," and "I have mine," and the counselor is here to help us split the difference. But the husband is responsible for all the problems. This is the case for no other reason than that he is the husband.

This does not mean that the wife has no personal responsibility as an individual before God. She certainly does, just as her husband has individual responsibility. They are both private persons who stand before God. But he remains the head, and just as Christ as the head assumed all the responsibility for all the sins of all His people, so the husband is to assume covenant responsibility for the state of his marriage.

In reading these words, he may be entirely unsure about what it means to "assume federal responsibility." And given the divine pattern assigned to us for imitation, it is certain that no husband has a complete understanding of what he is called to do.
That is why he had better get started.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Planning For Victory

Will your family impact the kingdom of God?

Will your children serve the LORD faithfully with their lives?

Will the legacy you leave be remembered for generations to come?

Without a strategic plan to accomplish any of these endeavors, we can ALL safely assume that the answer to these questions will be a resounding NO!

We needn't fear however, since we serve a mighty God. We serve a God who has called us to leave a legacy of multi-generational faithfulness, and because He called us to this, He has also provided the means to accomplish this.

It begins with us, as Men and as Leaders, making decisions that are in keeping with the objectives of the mission. We must weigh every decision carefully, seek godly counsel from our wives and others, and not be too ashamed to repent and undo what was done in haste or selfish ambition. When our families see us leading in a way that honors the LORD, they will be more inclined to do the same.

We must also articulate to our families what we believe the LORD desires our family to accomplish and be involved in. What family goals do we have for each year as it approaches? What family ministries is your family involved in, or what family ministry might your family begin? It's not hard to have a ministry for each member of the household; Mom has hers; Dad has his; teens have theirs; and so on, but how about doing something that unites the whole family with a common vision; moving toward a common goal. Now that takes ambition; that takes a Leader!

So what's your plan for victory? How many generations are included in your plan? Is it one that requires you to Lead or Observe? Don't be passive on this one Men; the stakes are too high, and the stakes are too eternal!