Around the Interweb (08/15)

Prop 8 Got Struck Down – Now What?

In light of the recent ruling in California over Proposition 8, Kevin DeYoung offers some helpful next steps to Evangelicals Here’s an excerpt:

We should not disengage. It’s tempting to say “We’re going to lose this one. So let’s just try to love people and not put up a fight” But laws do have consequences. Seeking the peace of the city means we defend marriage because we believe it is for the common good. We need thoughtful, winsome Christians engaging with this issue on television, in print, in the academy, in the arts, and in politics and law. . . .

We must not be afraid to talk about homosexuality.  Don’t be silenced by Christians calling for umpteen more years of dialogue or those who say you need at least one gay friend before you can open your mouth. The Bible speaks openly about sexuality and we must not be embarrassed to open God’s word. BUT when we do speak we must do so with broken hearts not bulging veins. A calm spirit and a broken heart are keys to not being tuned out immediately. . . .

We must accept that no matter how hard we try, some people will conclude we are bigots, homophobes, and neanderthals for thinking homosexuality is wrong. Our goal must not be to stop people from viewing us in this way. We can’t control perceptions. Our goal is that those ugly perceptions do not match reality.

Read the rest at Kevin’s blog.

In Other News

Correctives: Dustin Neeley continues his “Justification by X” series at the Resurgence with Justification by Theology

Culture: Al Mohler – Thank God for the new Atheists?

Free Audio: Did you know that Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy is available as Christian Audio’s free download of the month? Use download code AUG2010 if you’re so inclined.

Church Ministry: Jared Wilson offers some clarification on his recent post about the Awesomeness-Driven Church.

Housekeeping: I’m in the wilds of Northern Ontario this week enjoying a second week of vacation (last year, I got one all year, so this is progress). While I’m away, my friends Will Adair, Nate Bingham and a few others will be providing you with some terrific content.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest, The Good News We Almost Forgot

Gleaning some insights on the art of the illustration

Mark Driscoll reminds us that discernment is a good thing by looking at Twilight

Charles Spurgeon shares the joy that these words bring: “Ye are clean.”

"I Just Want My Husband to Be Saved"

This is Fanny. She’s 46, married and has five children. The youngest is in the sponsorship program. Her husband sells eggs from their home.

Our visit to Fanny's home

Her four-year-old son is registered in Compassion’s program at The Ark of Salvation Church down the street.

We came to her home to ask a few questions about how having her son in the program has affected her life. She and her oldest daughter are Christians, and she is glad that her son is now going to a church.

as we talked, we asked her if there was anything we could pray with her about. Her answer was simple:

“I just want my husband to be saved.”

And we did.

First Corinthians 7:14 says that “the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.” Because of her influence and consistent Christian lifestyle, there’s every chance that his heart would soften to the gospel and he would be saved. It would be amazing to see this happen.

To see this family united in Christ.

I believe it can happen.

Fanny and her family

“I just want my husband to be saved,” Fanny told us.

I want that, too.

Four Years In: A Word About Marriage

An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. . . .

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-30

Four years ago today I married my lovely wife, Emily.

In four years, we’ve seen some amazing changes in our lives.

Four years ago, we both worked at a printing company as graphic designers/production artists and (obviously) had no children.

Today, I work as a professional writer and Emily works as a stay-at-home mom caring for our two lovely daughters and dabbles in freelance illustration.

We’ve gone through some really joyful times, like the birth of our children. We’ve gone through some difficult seasons, including a miscarriage and learning how to really live on one income. And there have been some exciting adventures and challenges, like my joining Compassion’s staff, our finding a new church in Harvest Bible Chapel and some things that we’re not ready to talk about yet.

But in the last four years, there’s never been a day where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel.

There’s never been a day when I’ve gone to bed thinking, “I don’t know if I can handle spending the rest of my life with this girl.”

Because even when we’ve faced challenges, when we’ve disagreed (sometimes sharply), we come out the other side loving each other more than we did going in.

God has been good. He’s growing us closer to Him and closer to each other.

The last four years have been great. I hope for at least sixty more.

You game, Emily?

Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Ted Kluck

Ted Kluck, writer of things sports- and church-related, is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. In Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church, he offers the “everyman” perspective on why the emergent church movement doesn’t work and why the visible church deeply matters to the life of believers. But in his latest book, Hello, I Love You, he tackles a topic that’s perhaps closer to his heart than any:

Adoption.

In the last couple of years, adoption has been the topic of conferences, sermons, blogs, books… you name it. It’s been top of mind for many Christians.

While the resources that have been produced are no doubt beneficial, this book is different.

That’s because in Hello, I Love You, Kluck takes readers on a deeply personal journey into what he experienced becoming an adoptive father.

And a lot of the time, it’s not pretty.

Love Letters

Written in two parts, the first is based on notes taken during the adoption of his first son, Tristan. Kluck shares (with often hilarious results) the events leading up to Tristan’s adoption.

One of my favorite moments, strangely, is the painfully accurate description of the Detroit airport. While the Northwest side looks more like a mall than an airport, Kluck writes,

[T]he non-renovated Delta terminal looks like the world’s largest Greyhound station—a dimly lit hole strewn with garbage and smelling faintly of a mixture of Cinnabons, grade-school, and industrial-grade cleaning agents. (p. 34-35)

(If you’ve ever been in this airport, you know how true this is.)

What struck me most profoundly though was how the first half frequently broke from the traditional narrative model and became letters written to Tristan, sharing the events of the day, thoughts on life, music, sports and faith.

In this half of the book what comes across most clearly is how much Kluck loves his son, who at the time wasn’t even his son yet. In one letter, he writes:

I can’t stop looking at your picture on the digital camera. I feel silly, but I keep saying “lemme see Tristan.” And then your mom and I pull out the camera (again) and flip through the pictures (again).

And we prayed for you tonight, Tristan. We prayed that our Lord would keep you safe from evil and prepare your little heart to be loved by us… (p. 53)

Reading this, it’s amazing to see the love that God creates in the hearts of parents for their children—even those who are not biologically their own. Truly, it is inspiring.

Griping, Grumbling & Genuine Authenticity

Part two chronicles the Klucks’ adoption of another boy, Dima. Written more as a journal during the events of the adoption, the feeling is quite different.

The tone changes. It’s still funny, but there’s something else there.

It’s a struggle with despair.

The Klucks’ second adoption didn’t come out of, necessarily, the same kind of desire that their first did—it came out of necessity. In the time between the two adoptions, they learned that they were unable to have biological children.

Kluck doesn’t portray himself as a great man of faith or even a particularly great husband. He’s often painfully honest about his shortcomings.

He struggles with feelings of resentment toward his church and its extremely fertile congregation (pp. 95-101).

With a sense of failure as a man and a provider (p. 161).

He becomes a grumbler, and his complaining alienates him from his wife and blinds him to God’s grace in his life.

Kluck isn’t playing humble here. He doesn’t look to anything outside of himself as the source of his problems—he acknowledges his own sins and strives to move forward in repentance.

As the story of Dima’s adoption unfolds, he displays genuine authenticity.

A Refreshing Reminder

Reading Hello, I Love You gave me, as a husband & father who hopes to one day adopt, a refreshing reminder. Kluck’s honesty about the struggles he and his family faced during the process, to say nothing of the astronomical financial cost hit hard; but with every word of this book, he tells us, “It was worth it.”

It’s a reminder to me that every sacrifice I make for my daughters is worth it. And it’s a reminder that for Jesus, who paid the ultimate price for sinners like me to be adopted into God’s family—from His perspective, it was worth it. Not because I deserve it, but because He is so gracious.


Title: Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood
Author: Ted Kluck
Publisher: Moody (2010)

A galley copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher

Talk Positively about Your Spouse

Have you noticed that, for the most part, people don’t speak well of their spouses? In entertainment, husbands and wives regularly make sport of each other. Marketing has fully embraced the doofy husband (the man too stupid to understand how an air freshener works but still manages to get the attractive wife).

You know what’s a great way to talk to people about Jesus? Talk positively about your spouse.

Matt Chandler made this point in his sermon, The Path 11: The Reign and Rule of God, when talking about styles of evangelism:

Now, you can live your life in such a way that people will ask questions about your faith. You absolutely can. A way to do that in the real world:

Talk positive your wife.

Talk positive about your spouse. Talk about how awesome she is.

And watch how you’ll draw a crowd. I mean, men will just flock to you. “Hey man, help me, because my girl is driving me crazy…”

And you can to talk about the grace show to you by God Almighty, and then by being a recipent of that grace enables you to give grace and then you’re off and running. So you can live your life in such a way, but you’re eventually going to have to open your mouth. You’re eventually going to have to talk about sin and the cross and our hope in Jesus Christ.

But you have to open your mouth.

So my problem with the relational evangelism method, in my experience, is that you never get around to saying anything about Jesus.

Looking at this, I can’t help but be reminded of 1 Peter 3:1-7,

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Husbands, do you make a point of speaking well of your wife? Do you treat her with delicacy both when she’s in the room and when she’s not?

Wives, do you speak well of your husband? Do you treat him with respect even when he’s a bit of a doofus?

The Effects of Pornography

Ed Stetzer points readers to a new study by Patrick F. Fagan examining the effects of pornography:

A new study done by Patrick F. Fagan examines the effects of pornography on individuals, marriage, family and community. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council. He specializes in examining the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems. This study is important for everyone to read as it demonstrates that it has damaging effects on individuals and families. In the summary Fagan explains,

Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.

Some of the findings inside the study include: [Read more...]

Act Like Men

act-like-men

One of the greatest joys I have found as a Christian is learning how to be a man—a real man. One who is honest with his wife, who plays with his kids, who takes care of the needs of the family and strives to give wherever there’s a need. And I see a few men around me who, by God’s grace, are in pursuit of the same things. Two of my best friends are very much good, strong Christian husbands and I look forward to the day when they’re good, strong Christian daddies. It’s going to be a joyous day.

These guys bring great joy to my life and I’m incredibly grateful for them, especially the older men who are willing to speak into my life and the lives of others.

But there are some guys… Guys who are grown men, but act like little boys wearing man-pants. [Read more...]

A Marriage Worth Working On

marriage

Sunday has been a day all about marriage.

At Harvest, the sermon was on the first sin (from Genesis 3:7-13), and it’s destructive effect on relationships with each other (including marriage) and with God. It was a very challenging look at how we sinfully fight and try to control and manipulate each other, rather than submit to God and one another in humility and repentance.

Later, we, along with more than 50 others, spent the afternoon celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of Chris & Kimberly, a wonderful couple who invest so much of themselves in other people. They have a passion for discipling others and seeing them grow in holiness.

I could go on about them ad nauseum, but I think the best thing I could say is that they’re awesome people and we want to be like them when we grow up.

When I wasn’t toddler-wrangling at the party, I found it really interesting listening to the way people spoke of them in little speeches and toasts, particularly what their children said. Listening to them share how much they love and respect their parents and how their faith has been affected by them is really encouraging. I see these things, and I hear these things, and I can’t help but think, “I really hope my kids will be able to say things like that when Emily and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary.” Not due to any sort of need to be lauded, but really, because I want my children to be positively impacted by my faith. That Emily and I both can say to Abigail and our future kids, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

Emily and I love to read a book together. It’s part of how we encourage each other to grow, spiritually (aside from my regularly asking, “So what’d you read in your Bible today?”). [Read more...]

Book Review: What’s He Really Thinking?

Title: What’s He Really Thinking: How to Be a Relational Genius with the Man in Your Life
Author: Paula Rinehart
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Recommended: Ladies, embrace the man in your life for what he is: A man.

Sometimes it’s fun to read a book for which you’re definitely not the target audience. What’s even better is when you actually find it helpful.

Paula Rinehart’s book, What’s He Really Thinking? wants women to understand one thing: Men are not women with beards and big feet. We are a truly distinct gender, despite our culture’s general thrust to try and feminize us. We think, react and feel completely differently. And relationships are so much better when women stop trying to “train” us and embrace us for who we are instead.

As a man reading this book, I came into it expecting to be thrown under a bus. After all, that’s been the general theme of any book written about men (for women) for the last twenty-odd years. The portrayal of men today tends to be that of the doofy husband. But What’s He Really Thinking? is particularly interesting because, rather than affirming this attitude, Rinehart seeks to provide women a view of maleness that’s built on research, practical experience and biblical wisdom. And as an added bonus, because it’s written to women, there were more than a few “Aha!” moments where it helped make sense of some of my wife’s reactions to the things I do.

What’s He Really Thinking? is a very helpful book, one that I would, with little hesitation, recommend to any woman who wants to better understand how to approach her relationship with the man (or men) in her life—because God made us men, and that actually is a very good thing indeed.

Don't Waste Your Life

Jim was raised by a hardworking mom who worked two jobs to support her son and herself that lived in subsidized housing. She’d come home from her first job, as a cashier, and have dinner with him before going to her second job as a bartender. Every night, she’d tell him, “You can be so much more than I ever could; don’t waste your life.”

Jim was spurred on by his mother’s words. He studied hard in school, pushing for better and higher grades with every project, report and exam. He earned a full scholarship to a prestigious university, and graduated at the top of his class.

After school, Jim continued to find great success. He met a beautiful woman, got married, moved into a gorgeous house in the suburbs and eventually had a couple of kids, two girls.

He quickly rose through the ranks of his organization and was head-hunted by several others. He was a man driven to succeed, to provide for his family what his mother never could. He worked hard, taking on the most difficult assignments, and exceeding everyone’s expectations. He also volunteered his time in the community & at the homeless shelter and supported numerous charitable organizations.

All in all, it looked like he had the perfect life – he had done more than anyone could ever have imagined.

Jim came home one night and found the house was quiet. He looked all through the house for his wife and his daughters (as usual, it was well past their bedtime). He found an envelope in the kitchen; inside was a letter from his wife: She was leaving him and taking the children with her.

Jim fell to the floor, his hands trembling has he held the letter, tears streaming down his face… and at that moment, all he could hear were the words his mother had spoken so many times:

Don’t waste your life.

[Read more...]

A Day Off: Celebrating 3 Years of Marriage

wedding

Today is a very special day; Emily and I are celebrating our third anniversary. God has grown us greatly over the last three years, and in this last one in particular. From becoming parents, my change in career, Emily becoming a successful homemaker and illustrator, and so many other amazing changes in our lives… it’s been a great three years, and I’m looking forward to the next 60, by God’s grace.

In honor of this, we are taking the day off and going to the happiest place in Burlington: Ikea! We’re looking forward to a fun morning/early afternoon of shopping and eating Swedish meatballs.

Maybe we’ll find a good deal on a coffee table and a dresser.

Happy Wednesday!

A Question for Wednesday

This is more directed towards the men who might be reading, so ladies out there, I hope you’ll forgive me.

Gentlemen, how are some ways that you show your wife you love her? What are some of the things you do that fail to show that?

Last week, I wrote about why I love my wife, but there’s something I do that frustrates her to no end: When I forget to write things on the calendar, it drives her nuts. It may seem like a small thing, but go with me for a second. When I don’t write something down on the calendar, a meeting, a social event, an appointment, it creates a false expectation for a day or evening. If Emily doesn’t know I’m meeting with a friend, or have a business engagement, she expects me (rightly) to be at home with her and Abigail. She makes plans accordingly.

Last night is a perfect example. I forgot to write down that I was meeting with someone; we talked about it, but because of bus schedules, it caused me to have to leave very early—before I had the opportunity to eat the meal she was lovingly preparing for me and spend some quality time with her.

This was not very loving of me, to say the least.

[Read more...]

Why I love my wife

This week has been a good one for us. Emily is recovering well and generally in good spirits (thanks go out to all who have been praying for her). But it’s also been rough for me, simply because I was hit a little more profoundly with the reality of the last two weeks’ events when my good friend Adam (correctly) mentioned, “your wife almost died.”

That really shook me, because while I knew, it hadn’t really sunk in. He was right. She had almost died nearly two weeks ago.

Tuesday night, Emily and I had a hard talk about her not taking the time she needed to take to heal. And I almost lost it emotionally; I just felt like a wreck. I explained to her how I was feeling, that I needed her to slow down as much as she needed to. I begged her to please just let me take care of her. And she did.

The rest of the week was pretty well. I didn’t think about this too much more until Saturday, when I stumbled into a debate on gender roles. It’s strange how the mind connects things sometimes, but… [Read more...]

Sunday Shorts (04/05)

James MacDonald: The Public Rebuke of False Teachers

I love James MacDonald. He is a smart, godly man and a gifted teacher of the Scriptures. This is one more reason why I respect him:

What was amazing about some of the comments I received was that they were not put off by the critique, but by the naming of the specific person who promulgates these deceptions.  Several comments stated in the strongest of terms that it is unbiblical and unwise, even unloving, to name the names of false teachers and opponents of the biblical gospel.  Is that true?  Is it wrong to publicly call out those who attack the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Even when their denials are much more public?  Let’s see what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John have to say about how to deal with false teachers.  Do they confront it?  Do they, in many instances, actually name the people involved?

Read the entire post, and, for context, his post on Brian McLaren.

HT: Justin Taylor

Marriage and Men

A couple weeks back, Mark Driscoll delivered a very hard, very convicting sermon on the necessity of being a godly man in marriage.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.806418&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Mars Hill Church | Trial | Marriage a…“, posted with vodpod

Iron Man, Spurgeon, and the Gospel: Thoughts on a Purpose Driven Life

My friends at Evangelical Village posted a very intriguing article connecting Iron Man to the gospel. Well worth the read:

One key transition scene showing Tony’s inward change has continued to stick out in my mind. In this scene, Tony and his assistant Pepper Potts have a somewhat heated dialogue in which Tony describes the determination of his life’s purpose.  Tony firmly states his new-found purpose: “There is nothing except this. There is no art opening; there is no benefit; there is nothing to sign. There is the next mission. And nothing else.”

This scene has been on replay in my mind the past few days until this morning when in I encountered a quote by Charles Spurgeon…

Read the rest here.

Easter

Today begins the most important week in the Christian calendar: The week celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry, betrayal at the hands of one of His closest friends, false trial, brutal execution and glorious resurrection. I would encourage all of us to take some time this week and re-read the story of the crucifixion and thank Jesus for the wondrous gift of salvation He has given in His death on the cross.