On marrying young

JP: This article has some mature themes, but as young adults you should be able to handle them. See my further comments after the quoted section.

Christianity Today: The Case for Early Marriage

Excerpts:

Our Creator clearly intended for male and female to be knit together in covenantal relationship. An increasing number of men and women, however, aren’t marrying. They want to. But it’s not happening. And yet in surveying this scene, many Christians continue to perceive a sexual crisis, not a marital one. We buy, read, and pass along books about battling our sexual urges, when in fact we are battling them far longer than we were meant to. How did we misdiagnose this?

….

Many choose to wait out the risk—sometimes for years—to see how a relationship will fare before committing. (We seem to have lost our ability to shame men for such incessant delays.) Consequently, the focus of 20-somethings has become less about building mature relationships and fulfilling responsibilities, and more about enjoying oneself, traveling, and trying on identities and relationships. After all the fun, it will be time to settle down and get serious.

Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed.

….

…. successful marriages are less about the right personalities than about the right practices, like persistent communication and conflict resolution, along with the ability to handle the cyclical nature of so much about marriage, and a bedrock commitment to its sacred unity. Indeed, marriage research confirms that couples who view their marriages as sacred covenants are far better off than those who don’t.

… spouses learn marriage, just like they learn communication, child-rearing, or making love. Unfortunately, education about marriage is now sadly perceived as self-obvious, juvenile, or feminine, the domain of disparaged home economics courses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In sum, Christians need to get real about marriage: it’s a covenant helpmate thing that suffers from too much idealism and too little realism.Weddings may be beautiful, but marriages become beautiful. Personal storytelling and testimonies can work wonders here, since so much about life is learned behavior. Young adults want to know that it’s possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.

Comments:

  • Kathee was 23 and I was 25 when we were married. In the era when we got married (1974), it seemed that most of our friends got married either in college or shortly after college. A generation before couples got married shortly after high school.
  • I am not posting this article to encourage anyone to marry or to rush marriage. I just found it interesting. (It was published on the web on 7/31)
  • The one quote I liked was “spouses learn marriage”.
  • Kathee and I had a very simple wedding. A basic dress, a rented tux, a simple cake, and that was about it. I don’t think we spent more than about $ 500! Our honeymoon was likewise simple: After the first night in a fancy hotel, we drove around Florida (we lived in Tampa then) and stayed in inexpensive motels. The diamond ring was likewise very basic (it developed a crack about 7 years age and I bought Kathee a larger diamond).
  • Obviously in matters of human sexuality and marriage, the Bible is the authority! If you are a Christian, only marry in the Lord!
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The “Fundamentalist” label

JP: Worthwhile read by Pastor Dave Doran.

The Value of the Fundamentalist Label

Excerpts:

A little over two years ago I was asked to write a response to the following question: “Is the ‘Fundamentalist’ label too archaic and contaminated to be considered useful?”

This is a difficult question for at least two reasons. The first reason is that there is so much disagreement about what the label actually means—if there is no agreement among self-professing fundamentalists about what the label means, then how can we agree on whether it is archaic and contaminated? Personally, I don’t believe defining the term is that hard, but, to borrow biblical language, “everyone defines it as is right in his own eyes.” As long as that continues, opinions on archaism and contamination will be strongly divided.

If it is being used during an “in-house” discussion among the self-professing, then I don’t believe it is either archaic or contaminated. The already committed generally possess enough historical awareness to prevent archaism and enough sympathy to overcome any sense of contamination.

….

If, however, the context for the term “fundamentalist” is outside the boundaries of those who have some historical awareness and theological sympathy with the term, then I believe it does suffer from archaism and contamination. The meaning of words is controlled by usage, and the contemporary usage for “fundamentalism” does not recognize its uniquely Christian and theological significance.

If I write an op-ed for our local newspaper that boldly proclaims that I am a fundamentalist, the average reader will not understand that means I am one who is opposed to theological modernism within supposedly Christian churches and that I embrace historic orthodoxy on those points which are being abandoned by the modernists. They will associate that term with the narrow-minded radicalism that it is so often used to label. Since they don’t know the history of the term, they will define it according to contemporary usage.

Contemporary usage within our general culture is different than our in-house usage, and it communicates something very different from what we intend by the term. That’s why, for instance, our church does not put the term into materials which are intended to notify the general public about what kind of church we are. But I do use the term, and help explain it, in our church’s membership course. Context makes a big difference. There is no change in who we are, just some awareness of how the words we are using are understood by those who hear them.

So, returning to the original question, is the “fundamentalist” label too archaic and contaminated to be considered useful? For me, it depends on the audience to whom you are speaking. I would hate to see us lose a word of historical and theological significance for American believers. Fundamentalism is an important part of our heritage, and teaching its meaning and history can be an excellent means of preparing our churches to guard the Faith.

Speaking to the world around us, though, demands that we use words that communicate clearly and don’t obscure or detract from our message. I am pretty sure that putting “Fundamentalist” on our church sign or brochure would not communicate clearly to lost people. Given the contemporary usage of the term, it should only be used as an in-house label.

Israel needs the Gospel

JP: Our Bible study for Wednesday night August 12th will be from Romans 10:1-13. My notes are available here.

Boy River ministry (August 16th)

Kathee and I will be in Northern Minnesota at the Boy River Log Chapel on Sunday August 16th. Boy River is the smallest city in Cass County. We will be driving up there on Saturday, staying 2 nights at the Longville Inn and then returning on Monday August 17th. Please pray for God’s blessing on this ministry opportunity!

Coffee after church

I’m bored with church

JP: I searched online for a picture that represents boredom and realized I had cat photos and they always look bored.

Article below is from Dan Miller of Eden Baptist. See my additional comments below the quote:

Bored with Church

Excerpts:

This counsel from the “boredom-killers” had a thread of truth woven into it. Many churches can be justifiably criticized for rendering boredom an art form. Bereft of spiritual vitality, sedated by dead ritual, and shackled by meaningless traditions, many churches have proven utterly bankrupt of all interest to even the most forgiving visitor. In this sense the warning sirens should be heeded.

But pull that single thread from the message of the “boredom killers” and the fabric unravels. Their message is fatally flawed on numerous counts. To focus here on just one deficiency, it unconscionably drops the heavy load of responsibility for boredom at the feet of the local church while entirely ignoring the role of individuals in the equation. Churches are chided for their bad performance while individuals are viewed as little more than morally neutral responders to group stimuli.

The error in this approach is that a church attender’s relationship with God is viewed as inconsequential to the equation, while at the same time his or her opinion about what should happen in a church service is given near canonical authority.

Perhaps two vignettes may open a window to a more balanced approach. There was a brief period of time when children from the neighborhood used to wander into my church office to say hello. The only motivation I can divine for young children visiting a middle-aged man working at a desk in the middle of the afternoon is a profound case of boredom on their part. Busy about my work, I was not usually the greatest company, but now and then I would stop to chat.

On one such day, a young boy found me typing out the words to Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” My young visitor inquired as to my intentions. I explained the song would be sung in our church on Sunday morning.

I read the words to him: “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace.” I asked if he understood what I had read. He assured me he had no idea what those words meant or why anyone would find such an old hymn particularly interesting. He hated church and to suffer through such a song would, he explained, add new meaning to the word “boring.” That was a challenge I could not resist.

“What would happen,” I queried, “if you went to a Twins game—not just any Twins game but the seventh game of the World Series. The game is tied in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, two strikes, and no one on base, your favorite player hits a towering home run and wins the series! Would you cheer? The roar of the crowd would be deafening, yet you would add your voice to the thousands of fans screaming at the top of their lungs. And tell me, when you got home that night, would you tell anyone about your experience? Of course you would. You couldn’t wait to tell your friends all about the game.”

I continued: “That’s kind of why I want to sing ‘O For a Thousand Tongues’ in church on Sunday. One day, Jesus washed my sins away and made me his child. He redeemed me, rescuing me from hell and giving me a home in heaven. And there are times I wish I had a thousand tongues to sing praises to such an awesome Savior! I don’t find this song boring because it helps me express my heart’s passion and love for God.”

My speech failed to persuade my young friend who looked at me as if I had been speaking Latin for the last few minutes. Come to think of it, perhaps his expression mirrored that of many church visitors during the singing of Wesley’s great hymn—a look of confusion that betrays an inability to “relate” to such an outdated mode of expression.

Comments: If the Bible is open, I am not bored. The Scriptures and its truths are unfathomable in riches. Calvin called the doctrine of predestination a “labyrinth” for the mind. Likewise doctrines of the Trinity or salvation, or last things draw my attention! Kathee and I are now reading the Gospels (after a long season in the Old Testament! Good to be here!). We find the stories of our Savior so pleasingly wealthy with glorious truth!

Where Christians are, I am not bored. I love being with members of God’s family!

A story from my childhood: Before 1960 we lived in Fort Wayne Indiana. I had a real Bible-believing male Sunday school teacher back then. One day I announced to him, the young fool that I was!, that “the Bible was boring!”. He asked me if I had ever read it. His simple answer humbled me as I had not and I was ignorant of it!

God’s sovereign grace is just!

Pharaoh Hardened Heart

JP: Our Bible study for this Wednesday (July 29th) will be from Romans 9:14-33.

Paul mentions Pharaoh in 9:17-18:

For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

I found this interesting from Exodus:

  • 9 times the text states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8)
  • 3 times the text states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (8:15, 8:32, 9:34)

My study notes are here!

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