One of my internet friends, Gary Taylor @ GENDADS, generously used a comment of mine in a post discussing one of the hidden dangers of public “leadership.”
Thanks to TIVO, Carolyn and I completed our interaction on true legacy reported in my last post, then went back to the “60 Minuutes” piece on Nelson Mandela. What an extraordinary man. The last 15 seconds spoiled the story, though. The last few words still has me pondering.
Mandela knowingly sacrificed his children and abandoned them to real suffering to save the “millions who suffered as well.” I know, sadly, leaders in missions and ministry who were on call to save the world and lost their children.
I got this reply from a friend whose blog, “A Pauper in the Court of the King“. I urge you to slowly read through his short, deep, clear piece. What he says is far more central to godly family life and legacy.
“Gary, you raise a very good point. The clear answer from scripture (the example of Eli the priest is a case in point) is that if you fail in your family – you fail period. God never calls a man to win the thousands at the expense of his family. Your first ministry is at HOME and if you fail there you are absolutely disqualified from leadership in the church of the Living God (Titus 1:6, 1 Tim 3:4-5)
The first and primary congregation that a man (EVERY man) is called to pastor and serve is the one born in his own home when he and his bride say “I do”. To ignore, slight, or fail here is to build with wood, hay and stubble which WILL be borne away in the judgment fire (1 Cor 3:10-15). To “lead” others without shepherding your own family is merely performing for the praise of men.
May God have mercy on me so that I might be found faithful in my home even if it means being derelict everywhere else. – The Pauper”
Dr. Russell Moore writes:
I will never forget seeing her pull the measuring tape out of her purse as she talked about the skull of her child.
The woman, standing in an airport in Russia with my wife and me, was, like us, an American. She, like us, was in the former Soviet Union to pursue adoption. But she was worried. She had heard “horror stories” about fetal alcohol syndrome and various other nightmares. She said that the measuring tape was for gauging the size of the craniums of her potential children, to “make sure there’s nothing wrong with them.”
The reason I think about this conversation so much these days is because I am finding—more and more often—that one of the primary obstacles for Christians in advocating for the fatherless can be summed up right there in that measuring tape: the issue of fear. As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us don’t think much about orphans because, frankly, we’re scared of them.
As one whose heart breaks for the Fatherless I think about this issue a lot. Probably because I struggle with similar fears. What if they have been abused? What if they perpetuate that abuse cycle and sin against someone in MY home? What if they reject me and all I have done to embrace the heritage and family that abandoned them? What if? What if? What if? The list can go on forever and it can be truly paralyzing. They are real concerns but the true tragedy is our fear of them leads us to reject the clear COMMAND of our Lord (James 1:27).
Do we really think that the orphans of the 1st century were any less traumatized or victimized than children today? Do we really think that the hurts and difficulty, challenges and fears of orphans have changed much? If we do we are naive and do not know history.
God has been clear through the ages that His people are supposed to be different, they are not supposed to look like everyone else. One of the ways we are to be different is that we are to care for, protect and welcome the widow, orphan and the stranger. (James 1:27; Isa 1:17; Job 31:16-18; Ex 22:22; Deut 10:17-19; Deut 24:17; Deut 27:19; Ps 68:5; Jer 7:6, 22:3; Mal 3:5; et al)
I am looking forward to the day when we can finish jumping through Caesar’s hoops so we can follow the heart of our God and care for the least of these – in spite of the fear and worry. Obedience to His command is worth it.
By the way – you should really read the rest of Dr. Moore’s article.
1. In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world and all things in it both visible and invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
(John 1:2-3; Hebrews 1:2; Job 26:13; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:16; Genesis 1:31)
2. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasoning and immortal souls, rendering them fit to live that life for Him for which they were created;
– being made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and having the power to fulfil it;
– and yet living under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will which was subject to change.
(Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 1:26; Romans 2:14, 15; Genesis 3:6)
3. Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While they kept this command they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over all other creatures.
(Genesis 2:17; Genesis 1:26, 28)
3. God’s Decree (cont.)
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.
(1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5-6; Romans 9:22-23; Jude 4)
4. Those angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and the number of them is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
(2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18)
5. Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God chose before the foundation of the world was laid, in accordance with His eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will. God chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely out of His free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him to choose.
(Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12)
6. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so, by the eternal and completely free intention of His will, He has foreordained all the means. Accordingly, those who are elected, being fallen in Adam:
– are redeemed by Christ,
– are effectually called to faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season,
– are justified, adopted, sanctified,
– and are kept by His power through faith unto salvation;
– neither are any but the elect redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.
(1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64)
7. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, in order that men who are heeding the will of God revealed in His Word, and who are yielding obedience to it, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation be assured of their eternal election.
So shall this doctrine provide cause for praise, reverence, admiration of God, and also provide cause for humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all who sincerely obey the Gospel.
(1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33; Romans 11:5-6, 20; Luke 10:20)
Today I received an email from Gary, a fellow foot-soldier in the battle for generational faithfulness, in which he asked me about my Dad and the role he plays in my life as I struggle leave a lasting legacy of faith in my children. As I began to think about my reply I stared at the date on my computer screen and I could not believe what my eyes clearly told me, 13 years to the day have gone by since the Lord called he and my Mom home to their reward. Man, how the time flies!
In some ways it seems like just yesterday and in others it seems lifetimes have flown by the white cross beside the highway where they were ushered into eternity. I often wonder what they would think of their legacy if they could see me now. Would they be proud of the man the Lord is trying to create in me or would they shake their heads at the mess I still am? Would they rejoice in the deliberate choices we are making to invest for eternity in our children or would they think we are full of nonsense like others around us now? There are a million questions without answers when you go down this road but it does not stop the mind from wondering, at least once a year.
As a man interested in generational faithfulness I try to write something meaningful each year on this day to proclaim the excellencies of the God who worked in and through my parents to shape them and thereby shape me. It has been my desire from the moment I heard that they were called to glory to “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13) but rather to give glory to the Sovereign God who ordained before the foundation of the world, the number of my parent’s days and the valley for me that would follow them. Some years I have felt very eloquent, this year – not so much. The reflection time necessary to meditate deeply on the Word of God and what it says about this journey have been scarce. However, I do not want this day to go by without telling of the glorious deeds of the Lord to coming generation (Ps. 78:1-8). So allow me then to reprint my thoughts on this day from 2007:
(Originally printed August 2007 in a letter sent to a team of prayer warriors who, for reasons known only to themselves and God, choose to love and pray for this pauper.)
I pray that this finds you well and enjoying the bliss of the great favor of the Almighty who out of His great providence and beneficence elected to lavish His great love and blessings on you! Think of it for just a moment, the God Most High, King of All, Creator, Sustainer, Yahweh himself, obligated to no one, chose to make Himself known to you and not only known, but to grant to you unfettered access to Himself, His love, His care, His power through the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ! What an amazing truth!
Forgive me if I am waxing theological but I have been in a contemplative mood this week and I felt compelled to share of the greatness of my GOD! If you will indulge me, can I tell you of the wonderful work of God in my life? Some of you have walked with me long enough on this path following the Master to know my story well (and if you tire of hearing of my ranting, please read no further and accept my apologies for troubling you); some of you do not so let me share with you the glory of God! Some folks who have heard my story have looked at me as if I have accomplished something, as if I am somebody and I am compelled to set the record straight.
The historical story of this week in years passed will not easily be forgotten in the recent future for those of this generation, this is the week that Princess Diana died. The world pauses to remember her passing every year because she still captures the imagination of the West. This very anniversary makes this week and the contemplative mood it brings to me inescapable. Before some of you begin to think I have lost my mind and become a tabloid connoisseur, no my thoughts have nothing to do with the late Princess of Wales. My thoughts turn to another anniversary, one that is very personal to me, the home-going of two of the greatest examples of godliness I have had the privilege of watching, my parents. These two events are forever tied together since they happen a day apart, Diana on 08-31-1997 and my parents 08-30-1997.
It is hard to imagine that it has really been ten years since that defining moment in my life. What is ten years really? Is ten years only the 315,532,800 seconds; or the 5,258,880 minutes; or the 87,648 hours; or the 3,652 days which comprise the passage of the clock? In a very concrete sense our lives are bound by the unyielding march of time but must that define our existence?
There was a time in the early part of the decade that has passed where I was not sure I could make it through the passage of time. The pain was incredible, the loneliness crushing, the frustration of powerlessness consuming. I was not sure I would ever be able to contribute again because the smallest thing incapacitated me with grief, the words of my Mom ringing in my ears telling me that my name meant “Valiant Warrior” and all I seemed able to do was cower in the corner pleading with the God on whom I had staked all of my existence for deliverance and help.
Praise the Lord that His character is true, He is eternally faithful, He is completely good, He is perfectly loving and He had begun from eternity past to prepare the way for His work in my life through this dark valley of the soul. He was meeting my need before I knew I had one. From the details of my school experience which allowed me to spend more time with my parents than some of you will spend with your’s in a “normal” life time, to the financial convictions that Jesus had laid on my parents hearts that allowed me the freedom to grieve in a home that was paid for before my parents died. Even the intentionality of the parenting in our home that instilled in my heart from a young age the awareness of the constant presence of God and the rightful utter dependence we have on Him for all things even the material things. Every step was laid out to accomplish the will of our God in my life.
Does this mean that everything that my parents did was correct or good? No. As a matter of fact God used a misdirected attempt to expand my skill for wise living by my Dad in the final weeks of his life to teach me that I could not use my parents as my canon for life, their experience and wisdom had to be measured against Truth found in the Scriptures.
What this does mean is the story that everyone needs to know is the story of a God who is faithful and who has continued to deliver on His promise to “[cause] all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” I would have never chosen to walk this path, but I would not chose to not learn the truths my God burned into my soul about Himself either.
What did I learn from the hand of God in the past ten years? I learned the power of a faithful life when I saw 1500+ people cram into a church and overflow into the parking lot to honor a simple homemaker and a high school educated handyman. Heaven will only know the impact that final testimony of the gospel that my parents loved had in the lives of those who watched it walked out in a simple ordinary couple.
I learned that God sometimes uses a house-cat to be His arms of comfort in the dark of pre-dawn hours. (Why do we sometimes discount the miraculous way God will use every aspect of His creation to accomplish His purpose?)
I learned that I personally need the Body of Christ to operate as God intended. In the years that have passed I have seen the Body in it finest work as Christ’ representative on the earth and I have seen the church in its most broken and corrupted debauchery. God has given me a burning passion for the Truth which molds the Body into the image of Christ because I was carried by the Body when it resembled the Savior and I was wounded by the church when the cancer of sin destroyed the image of Christ within it.
I have learned what the scriptures meant when it says, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen. 24:67)
I have learned that God is in absolute control and He desires to work in an environment where He alone will be glorified. This requires us to be in a place of utter dependence which, while completely contrary to our flesh, is the place where God is nearest. God placed me in a position where He alone could carry me, He alone could provide for me, and He alone could raise me up for I was powerless. In that place of such broken impoverished spirit He began to teach me about Himself in a way that was unprecedented in my life.
I have learned what it means to be led by the Spirit in even the mundane things in my life. As I struggled under the mantle of manhood that was hastily thrown on my shoulders as my earthly Father went home, I was forced to seek the face of God as never before and I have had the joy of watching Him lead me!
What then is the point of this very long letter? First, the point is that I am thankful for the journey Jesus has carried me on for the last ten years. I am thankful for the wonderful heritage my parents gave me. I am thankful for the great privilege and responsibility of having godly parents, I have been richly blessed! I am thankful for the anchor of knowing God’s character that can only be forged in the fires of great pain. I am thankful for all of you! You have been tools in the hands of a loving God to shape and mold me.
Secondly, I wanted to give testimony of the greatness of God during times of great pain because some of you may be in the dark night of the soul right in this moment. The King of the Universe is not slack in His promises and He is working. It has taken 10 years and gallons of tears for me to see the joy and gratitude that will come from traversing the valley if we only cling to Him who loved us more than His own life, Jesus! Do not confuse love manifested with the absence of pain. Many times in life the most loving path is one of great pain. Love is manifested in that not only has Jesus Himself promised that He is with His children always but that He is also the sympathetic High Priest who lived here and experienced life’s incredible pain as a man which allows Him to intercede before God the Father for you as one having experiential knowledge.
Finally and most importantly, it is my greatest desire that God be glorified! He alone is the reason for any good thing in my life. He has sustained this servant and has more than sustained, He has richly blessed me. I am incapable in myself of producing some of the incredible evidences of His presence that I have seen come out of this journey. He alone is wise and good. I am nothing, He is of infinite value. I am powerless, He is Omnipotent.
There is so much more I could say about the glory of God in His work in my life but this letter is long enough. If you want to hear more, give me a call, we can take a walk in the park and I will tell of the greatness of God while we walk on the way. I am not sure why I felt compelled to write this but I could not rest until it was finished. I pray that God will show Himself to you today and I pray He uses His story in my life to His glory even in your life.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
I love and miss you Mom and Dad!
3. God’s Decree
1. God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
– Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
– In all this God’s wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.
(Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27-28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5)
2. Although God knows everything which may or can come to pass under all imaginable conditions, yet He has not decreed anything because He foresaw it in the future, or because it would come to pass under certain conditions.
(Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18)
July 8th, 2010
San Antonio, TX
Tonight 1500 people met together to declare war on our culture. As Doug Phillips declared in his mince-no-words fashion, “[We] have come to pick a fight.” The culture that surrounds us has become one that without even realizing it or thinking about it, has embraced a culture of death instead of life. We prioritize convenience, temporary financial security, leisure, “freedom”, and ease over responsibility, obedience to God and his Word, and life.
You see, tonight as many women go to bed they will take a benign looking little pill the goal of which is to prevent pregnancy. Many of these women are unaware that one of the mechanisms by which this is accomplished is not by preventing conception but rather by making the reproductive tract inhospitable to the child which is already conceived. This pill in fact causes an abortion (even the AMA admits that there is no such thing as a non-abortifacient form of oral contraceptive, see here. Or here for non-AMA argument ). The human baby is already conceived and is therefore ensouled but is then by human action caused to die by making the very womb meant to nurture it, comfort it, protect it, by making this same womb toxic to its life, a life already created by a sovereign God who willed this child into existence by his own divine decree.
These mothers, many of who profess to by pro-life, will decide by taking that pill to reject the blessing of God that the bible declares children to be (Ps 127:3) and will instead take active steps that will kill their own children in their wombs by taking this little pill, many without even knowing it. They do this for many reasons, some will claim financial reasons, some will claim they are trying to “be wise”, others will be honest enough to specifically say that it is for convenience. Whatever the reason, they have, knowingly or unknowingly, chosen death of their children over life and trust in God.
I have already offended many of you by even typing these paragraphs because the culture of death has so permeated our world. It is offensive to you that someone would even suggest that you should not “control” your reproduction. But stop for a moment and ask yourself, what if God really does have something to say about this issue? What if the Bible does address how many children you should have? What if our culture is wrong? What if obedience to God requires an entirely different worldview and value structure? Are you willing to examine your prejudices? Are you willing to lay your worldview on the table and admit your sin if the Word of God points it out? Are you brave enough to seek the face of the God of the universe with a heart to obey what his Word commands? If so then hang in here with me for the challenge of a lifetime, hang in with me for a battle that has been raging for 6000 years and which will rage until Jesus returns, hang in with me for a painful, challenging journey of obedience!
(Look for upcoming posts on the Theology of Birth Control after this series on The Baby Conference concludes ……)
“Flip pointed to a friend of his in the audience who has 16 children. He told of how this family went to stand in the gap for Terry Schiavo when she was being killed. The father was arrested in front of his children as their eyes filled with tears and fear.
‘Watch, children’, he said. ‘We are in a battle for life and truth. It’s a battle you will be called to fight too. And if I die in the battle, you trample over my dead carcass and continue to storm the gates of hell‘.” (Emphasis mine)