Dr. Albert Mohler
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

15 things that you already know about God’s will for your life. (God’s prescriptive and desirous will)

That we were already born. It was God’s will that we were born into all the circumstances that we were born into…because it happened.
That we die…beause it will happen. Hebrews 9:27.
That you grow. Phil 1:6. He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
That you were made male or female. God is destinct and complimantary in his creation of humanity.
That you believe in Christ. It is a command. REPENT AND BELEIVE.
That you Follow Jesus Christ. We ought to be His disciples.
That you trust and obey the word of God. Obedience. “Trust and obey for the know other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and obey”
That you obey and respect all authorities. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1 Also respecting authorities in the church.
That you be married! The test if you have the gift of singleness is the question “can I serve God without bitterness, without lusting after flesh and sex.”
That you stay married and look to raise children, biological or adopted.
That you Invest your spiritual gifts and abilities to the glory of God.
That you be involved in Local Church.
That you Lead. All believers either by authority, office or example.
That you share the gospel in every situation and take advantage of opportunities.
That you do everything for the glory of God. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Recently I had the opportunity to teach one of my children about substitutionary atonement. As is the case for any parent who loves their children, I found myself in the position of needing to hand out some discipline. On this particular occasion the sin was of the nature that not only required the withholding of blessings (no treats) but also needed to be preceded with a swat. The parties that were sinned against had been talked to and reconciliation had been achieved. It was time for the dreaded walk into the bedroom. As I explained what was about to happen I also explained that God punishes every sin. I explained that I had to do what was right and give a discipline in the form of a swat. With an understanding head nod, my child laid across my lap, eyes closed and teeth clinched, waiting for the pending punishment to be delivered. Swinging with more power and force than normal, I connected with my own hand that was covering my child’s bottom. “You hit your own hand!” Pleased but confused was the response. Putting my child on my lap we took a look at the welt that was now rising on my hand. I immediately thought of Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

With tears streaming down both of our faces I explained that Jesus takes our punishment upon Himself. The punishment that we should have received because of our sin.

I explained that I wouldn’t always take the punishment, but this time I wanted to show that God loves us so much that even when we were sinners Christ took our punishment on the cross. Kind of like Daddy taking the swat that you deserved.

As my child rubbed my welted hand in consolation, I knew that on some level the lesson made sense.

It was a good bonding time for us and turned into a wonderful time for me to worship at the foot of the cross once again as I thanked My God for taking upon His body the wages of my sin and the wonderful healing that comes from trusting in His shed blood for me.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Blessings,

Alvin

“That’s mine!,” “Hey give that back!,” “I’ll never forgive him!,” “I can’t talk to them any more!,” Conflict is all around us. Conflict is in us! Our sinful hearts constantly produce excuses to be in conflict. And I suspect you have heard some of these things recently. It may even be a part of your normal speech or a regular occurrence in your home. James 3:10 “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Conflict, while it is inevitable, is against God’s design—especially for the church. Jesus puts a high emphasis on being a peacemaker as He teaches that being at peace with your brother is a prerequisite to true worship. Matt 5:23-24.

That is why I highly recommend the Peacemaker books by Ken Sande. The Peacemaker, geared towards adults, The Peacemaker Student Edition and, Peacemaking for Families, are wonderful books to aid you in your pursuit of peace that puts Jesus Christ on display in all your relationships.

Conflict is a restless evil that seeks to undermine the very prayers of our Lord. Consider. John 17:20-21.

Our unity and peace communicates the love of God and the radical transformation that He has done in our hearts. And, if indeed He has done a work in our hearts, the way we deal with conflict ought to look more like Christ and less like the world. Our unity puts Jesus Christ on display and quite the opposite is the case when we are in consistent un-reconciled conflict with each other as believers.

Ken Sande seeks, not only to expose this conflict as utterly sinful but disciples his readers through biblical resolution, restoring relationships that are currently in conflict and helps us build a God-honoring framework for dealing with conflict in the future. He does a superb job of this, communicating as if he were sitting across from you at your local area Starbucks speaking the truth in love to you and tenderly discipling you toward love and good deeds.

Ken goes about this in four parts or the four G’s of peacemaking:

  • Glorify God (I Cor. 10:31)
  • Get the Log out of Your Eye (Matt. 7:5)
  • Gently Restore (Gal. 6:1)
  • Go and be Reconciled (Matt. 5:24)

The chief of all of these, and perhaps the reason for its placement as first, is Glorifying of God. This is the most important aspect of understanding biblical conflict and making steps toward resolution. We are called to glorify God in all that we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Ken reminds us that conflict provides opportunity to be true peacemakers rather than breaking peace or faking peace. One of the most valuable tools that Ken uses is his model of The Slippery Slope of peacemaking.

PEACE FAKING: Those of us that find ourselves on the left side of the slippery slope tend to deny that there is conflict at all, wrongly thinking that any kind of conflict is dangerous or thinking that it will damage relationships beyond hope. All of these escape responses are counter productive to unity in the body and glorifying God.

PEACE BREAKING: Those finding that they tend to lash out in anger either physically or with words, slide this way when faced with conflict. These folks tend to see conflict as an opportunity to assert themselves or defend their rights. Ultimately these individuals are more interested in being right than considering others as more important than themselves. The ultimate extreme here would be murder. Before we write that off as impossible, let us all stand guilty under the Lord’s words in Matt 5:21-22 “…everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable.”

PEACEMAKING: These responses are commanded by God. The first three responses are the personal peacekeeping responses. The principle here is to overlook the offense. Proverbs 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. The next three Peacemaking responses are called assisted peacemaking. If two people are unable to come to reconciliation on their own, they may need to seek out wise counsel to assist them in the process.

Sanctification doesn’t happen in a bubble. The Lord brings situations and people into our lives to expose our sin. The question is, when that ugly monster sin shows himself will you take the opportunity to wage war with him or will you feed him and pretend that he is not dangerous? What are you doing now? Who is it that the Lord has brought to mind even as you have been reading? Will you leave your offering and go and be reconciled or will you continue the charade? If you need to be reconciled with someone or you recognize that conflict is the theme of one or more of your relationships, then go and pick up a copy of Ken Sande’s book
The Peacemaker. Start today, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

May God be glorified in all your relationships!

Blessings,

Alvin

Family Worship

May 2, 2010

When it comes to books about theology and the Christian life it has been said for every new book one should read two old books. Wonderfully rich theology is contained in them. I wanted to mention one such book.

Thoughts on Family Worship by James W. Alexander
Which can be read for free at the link below.

http://books.google.com/books?id=n4gQAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=thoughts+on+family+worship&source=bl&ots=sHudzZLa8n&sig=rG6dkvGwoMdcjH35MacTDIP8uwk&hl=en&ei=vRXdS4n_HpTWsQP517XBBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

I am the worship leader in my home

One of the primary reasons worship is misunderstood, misconstrued or otherwise neglected in the church is because it is being neglected in the home. Family worship as the name communicates is the collective worship given to God by the members of one household.

It would be incorrect to say that leading in scripture reading, singing of hymns and spiritual songs or in prayer, would be in addition to the responsibilities of a husband and father. More correct would be that these activities are the outpouring of a healthy family whose leader is fulfilling his responsibility to those entrusted to his care, through family worship.

Leading and modeling

After the initial understanding of the call to family worship many efforts in such an endeavor fall short still. A great leader once said I never ask my troops to do something that I would not myself do nor know nothing about. Family worship time should be an expression and an indication of each member’s personal worship and devotion time. In most cases, neither family nor individual worship will exceed that which is modeled by the father/husband as the shepherd of his family.

Methods of family worship

The author gives a suggestion and example of how a family devotion time might be conducted. Inquiries of the family as to the particular graces extended to them throughout the course of their day for which collective praises might be rendered and or further supplications of continued grace in those matters. The father/Husband might turn the family’s attention to a hymn that has blessed his own devotion time during the week. He might teach the hymn if necessary, lead the family in singing and probe the depths of the theological truths within the hymn and consult the scriptures for edification.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the father/husband has a particular role in molding the worshippers entrusted to his household. This is no small task and one that he does not go at alone. God has been using the godly examples of fathers, since creation, to teach their children what an acceptable sacrifice looks like. Able learned how to prepare his sacrifice to the Lord, no doubt, through the teaching and example of Adam and it was acceptable in the Lord’s eyes.

Blessings,

Alvin

I have been studying apologetics quite a bit lately—specifically Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. There has been a theme in all the cults that claim to worship the God of the bible: works based salvation. Rather than trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ ALONE for salvation there is some additive. (Jesus + something=salvation).

While this seems to be the theme of such false religions there are a few other distinctive as well. They introduce another gospel that is contrary to the one true gospel of our Lord found in the pages of scripture. They claim the clear understanding of the bible cannot be grasped apart from an extra source (something the cult group produces to further “explain” the word of God). They teach the doctrines of men rather than the doctrines of the bible. They discourage personal bible reading apart from “study aids”. They steal glory from Jesus Christ and assign it to another person or name. For that reason I wanted to put together a short list of things that ought to be happening in, bible saturated, Christ exalting, churches and homes—that’s right Dads, I did say homes!

Proclaim the Gospel
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (ESV) 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

It’s that simple. We need to proclaim it to our own hearts that are prone to wonder, to our children, our spouses, friends, neighbors, teachers and telemarketers—anyone that will listen!

Romans 1:16 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Point to God’s Word as The Authority
I have to say that I do agree with something that Jehovah’s Witnesses have published. Read this excerpt from a Jehovah’s Witness publication:
… from among the ranks of Jehovah’s people … haughty ones … say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such “Bible reading,” they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom’s clergy were teaching 100 years ago. (The Watchtower, August 15, 1981, pages 28–29)

Praise God!! Read those bibles so your family might love the doctrines of the bible and reject every form of man centered religion!!

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Present the Doctrines of the Bible.
Paul did this and those he taught were able to spot false teaching based on the sound doctrine they had received from Paul.

Romans 16:17 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

Those that produce counterfeit money try to pass their work off on young inexperienced store clerks. They never go to the bank where the experts of authentic money are. Can your family detect counterfeit doctrine? Have they spent enough time with the truth that false teaching stands out like a sore thumb?

Promote bible reading.
The words “I’ve been reading my bible” ought to make our hearts glad as followers of Christ. The same is not true for the false teacher who fears his lies will be exposed by the light of scripture.

John 3:20-21 (ESV) 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

We should encourage regular bible reading in our homes and Dads need to be leading that charge. Wonderful things happen when God draws people to His word, both individually and as a family.

Praise Jesus Christ
We need to make much of Jesus Christ, the King of king and Lord of lords! While all around the world false religions defame the name of Christ and rob Him of either his supremacy or deity, His adopted sons and daughters with great humility and love should be shouting from the roof tops, in word and deed; “Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life!”

Acts 4:12-13 (ESV) 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Blessings,

Alvin

Parenting Seminars

July 23, 2009

Covenant Life church, the flagship church in the Sovereign Grace family of churches (CJ Mahaney and company), recently hosted various parenting seminars. I’m expecting them to be excellent. Here they are:

Parenting Ages Infant to 5 (by Brian Chesemore)

 Parenting Ages 6 to 10 (by Kenneth Maresco)

Overall Outline (PDF)

Additional Resources:

Parenting Ages 11 to 14 (by Greg Somerville)

Overall Outline (PDF)

Parenting Ages 15 to 18 (by Kenneth Maresco)

Overall Outline (PDF)

Parenting Ages 19 to 22 (by Bob Kauflin)

Overall Outline (PDF)

~ Donovan

HT: Justin Taylor

It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t had a chance to post anything. I have come across several good posts on-line though, and since I don’t know which to link to, here’s a smorgasboard of good stuff from around the web (as usual, I found most of this stuff thanks to Tim Challies and Justin Taylor!):

  • John Piper wrote a thought-provoking post entitled, “Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies” . This post also includes a wonderful example of humbly confessing sin. 
  • Keith and Kristen Getty have released a new album of modern, celtic-style hymns. Their lyrics are saturated with Scripture and their music is beautiful! You can listen to samples and/or order the CD here.
  • Sovereign Grace Music has released another children’s album entitled, To Be Like Jesus. Read about it here.
  • Tim Challies asked John Bell, pastor of New City Baptist Church in Toronto, to share about his experience sharing the gospel with the gay community in his city. It is well worth reading – to help us think biblically about homosexuality, and to help us in God-honoring evangelism and church life. There is also some very interesting discussion in the comments, especially involving a number of men who struggle with homosexuality but turn from it because of their commitment to Christ. Read this post here
  • If you’re compiling a summer reading list, you might find these 2 posts from David Powlison to be of interest. Powlison is a bilical counselor, professor, and author, and he spent some time this week discussing some of his favorite literature with CJ Mahaney. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.  
  • What does Kurt Warner, a Christian who plays quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, like most about being a professional football player? His very encouraging answer is here.   

Blessings…

~Donovan

Al Mohler:

“A teenager I happen to know quite well (seeing that he lives in my house) announced last week that summer is time off for his brain. Well, nothing fires up the parental learning plans like a teenager who announces his plans to learn as little as possible over the summer. Suffice it to say that the young man has a wonderfully enriching summer on his way. And — I promise you this — he will enjoy it. Like I say, I know the kid.”

This article is full of good ideas for maximizing parenting over the summer. The principles presented are excellent and apply year round… Read it here.

~Donovan

HT: Tim Challies 

I haven’t seen Up yet, but I look forward to doing so.

Megan Basham, World Magazine:

“In the first 10 minutes of its latest release, Up, Pixar demonstrates why it has gained a reputation as a studio of unequalled integrity and originality. In that short span, the audience is treated to the meeting, marriage, and parting of Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, a pair of wide-eyed kids who trade the fantasy of life in the jungle for a more domestic, but no less interesting dream. With minimal dialogue, Carl (Ed Asner) and Ellie make us laugh and break our hearts at their experiences of love and loss.

From this montage, Up picks up with the rest of Carl’s story. Left without his lifelong partner, Carl grows more cantankerous and more isolated until the day he decides to chuck civilization entirely and pursue the adventure he and Ellie once envisioned as kids. He soon finds, though, thanks to a young stowaway named Russell (Jordan Nagai), that civilization still has need of him, and he has the opportunity to fulfill more than one of Ellie’s dreams.

One of the boldest aspects of Up, besides featuring a 78-year-old main character, is the lovely portrayal it offers of marriage. Countless animated films include a bride being caught up by a handsome prince, but few portray an ongoing commitment and love that deepens over years.

Heavy stuff for a kids’ flick? Perhaps, but writer/director Pete Docter fills it with such hilarious characters and breathtaking artwork, the kids won’t even notice. What parents will notice is that as funny as Up is—and it is often uproariously funny—its laughs flow from the interactions of the characters, not from adult-oriented, tacked-in jokes.

Without cynicism, without the hottest stars (unless you consider Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer hot stars), and without snarky, inappropriate humor, Up entertains kids and pulls on grownup heartstrings.”

Read the rest of the article here.

You can watch the trailer here.

~ Donovan

HT: Tim Challies

Simple, very practical and profound counsel from David Powlison. Read it here.

~Donovan