God Will Not Underwrite My Worldliness

In Ray Ortlund’s commentary on Isaiah 40:31, he speaks of the strength that comes from the Lord that makes us mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint. He makes this observation,

“It will not do to put my faith in God while I keep my heart on this world. God will not underwrite my worldliness with his power. He never promised the soaring strength of eagles so I could go on grunting in the sty of Babylon.”

Raymond C. Ortlund, Isaiah (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 225.

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Have You Forgotten His Sovereign Control?

Have you lost touch with the ever-present sense of the absolute control and majesty of God? Have your thoughts become too earthbound for your earthly good? 

Isaiah 40:21-24, shows us the majesty of God and how refreshing and invigorating it is to get above the fog and dust and clouds in order to get God’s view…a view from the circle of the earth. There the immeasurable king of everything sits in absolute self sufficiency; ruling in independent sovereign authority; observing everything happening on the earth in His incomprehensible immeasurable immensity; and governing everything in undisturbed serenity. 

There are four questions that Isaiah asks in verse 21. These questions are designed to set our thinking straight about God’s control and our dullness about it and forgetfulness of it. It is as if he is saying, “Have you forgotten what you have always known?” These questions are a call to remember the majesty of God. It is easy to have our thoughts so earthbound, so temporal, so focused on our petty concerns, and so fearful of potential outcomes that we become blind to the glory of God. We forget what we knew and our only hope is to revive our memory of His majesty. These four questions may be exactly what you need to bring you back to a sense of reality. 

Then, Isaiah answers these questions with four visions of the majesty of God in verses 22-24: 

1. He sits above the circle of the earth (verse 22) 
2. He controls princes (verse 23a) 
3. He controls judges (verse 23b) 
4. He blows them away at will (verse 24)

How refreshing and invigorating it is to restore your sense of the greatness of God. This passage is designed for just that.

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Husbands: Love Your Wives, Because They Are Your Wives

Why should a husband love his wife? William Gouge provides much wisdom on the matter:

“The cause of Christ’s love was His love, as Moses noteth, He set His love on you because He loved you (Deut. 7:7-8)…In imitation hereof, husbands should love their wives, though there were nothing in wives to move them so to do, but only that they are their wives. Yea [they should love their wives] though no future benefit could after be expected from them. True love hath respect to the object that is loved, and the good that it may do thereunto, rather than to the subject that loveth, and the good that it may receive. For love seeketh not her own (1 Cor. 13:5).”

- William Gouge

William Gouge, “From Husbands, Love Your Wives,” in A Theology of the Family, ed. Scott T. Brown and Jeff Pollard (Wake Forest, NC: The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, 2014), 133-134.

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Interview With Jason Delgado

I was recently interviewed by Jason Delgado from The Confessing Baptist on A Theology of the Family, as well as other topics. You can listen to the audio here: “Interview #80 – Scott T. Brown – A Theology of the Family [Audio Podcast].”

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Lessons of Manhood from Iwo Jima

 

Today is the anniversary of the World War II Pacific battle of Iwo Jima. It is important that we remember this historic battle and draw lessons from it for our sons to teach them about manhood. Here are twelve lessons of manhood that I wrote about in a book called Preparing Boys for Battle:

1. Quiet fathers impoverish their children. (Psalm 78:1-9).

The experiences on Iwo Jima should warn us about the effect of clamming up. The common story of the Iwo Jima veterans is that they kept silent about their experiences and denied their children an understanding of their heritage. This pattern, which was almost comprehensively followed by Iwo veterans, is a warning to fathers about the consequences of clamming up and keeping stories of God’s faithfulness inside by not telling their children the praises of the Lord.

2. The knowledge of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is the most important knowledge one can have (Daniel 4:34, Psalm 103:19).

The stories of Iwo Jima teach me that the knowledge of the sovereignty of God in history is empowering. A providential view of history is critical for perspective in the midst of difficult moments in history. My experience with hearing the stories of Iwo Jima is that confidence fills the hearts of children who understand how God has worked in history. I also observed that the sons and daughters we met on Iwo Jima were strengthened by their understanding of what their fathers went through.

3. We should spend our time strategically and be involved in important efforts (Ephesians 5:16, Matthew 16:26).

Iwo Jima was an island of strategic importance, showing us the need for carefully planning our time and efforts in order to be prepared for the major events which God brings to our lives.

4. Be aware of the unseen forces working in your heart (Ephesians 6:11, 1 Peter 5:8).

Iwo Jima was a place where there was an unseen enemy, and we also have an unseen enemy, prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us.

5. Friendship includes defending your friend even when it might cost you everything (John 15:13).

It was a place where friendships were tested by mortal danger which illustrates Jesus’ words, “Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends.”

6. Manhood is tested by pressure–don’t despise or fail the tests (1 Kings 2:2).

Iwo Jima’s challenges put manhood on display. Even though war is a terrible reality, the way it is played out profiles many important qualities of manhood that need to be passed on from one generation to the next.

7. A godly response to authority is one of the most important factors for success in life (Ephesians 6:1-4).

The fierceness of the battle and the demands of the terrain made Iwo a place where honor and obedience in the face of conflicting emotions were required to accomplish the mission. This is the foundation of strength that is necessary for success in every workplace, marriage, and church.

8. Giving honor where honor is due secures success (Exodus 20:12).

With the passing of a generation, I am confronted with the proposition that fathers should be honored. It is a duty for sons and daughters to honor their fathers, and it has tremendous leverage for good for many generations. Scripture commands it and God makes specific promises to children who honor their parents. Not only do I want to honor my own father, I want to have an influence on my friends that might have the effect of getting them to ask, “How will I honor my father?”

9. A heritage will fall into oblivion if you don’t ask about it (Deuteronomy 32:7).

We see the importance of the principle that children should ask their fathers to tell them the stories of God’s faithfulness towards them. In this way, children demonstrate that they care about their heritage. It is to their benefit to ask questions of those who went before so that they will be able to stand on the shoulders of the previous generation instead of starting from scratch. Nobody has perfect parents, but most parents have something to give that will make us wiser and more effective in life. The answers to the questions you ask can serve as teaching tools for bringing glory to God.

10. Powerful legacies are activated through allocation of time, a listening ear, and an active pen (Psalm 71:17-18).

Children should work to exert energy to collect the stories of their fathers, and they should glory in God’s faithfulness to their fathers. They should take time to sit at their feet and listen and diligently glean the best lessons. This takes a listening ear, an active pen to record the memories, and time for reflection to crystalize the critical messages. We hereby declare that fathers have something to say. Yes, everything in our fathers’ lives is not praiseworthy, but we should just grow up and take the best we can find. As I have said too many times: no one ever got a perfect father. This is just the way it is.

11. Communicating a providential view of history will be for the joy and encouragement of the next generation (Psalm 71:17-18).

Because of hearing the stories of Iwo Jima, I am more aware of my responsibility to tell my own children about the great deeds of God in our own family history.

12. There are no little islands, attitudes, actions, or sins (Zechariah 4:10, James 3:5).

I am more aware of how little things have a big impact for good or evil depending on who governs them. Iwo Jima was a little island only 2.5 miles wide and 5.5 miles long, in the midst of a vast ocean, yet it had a big impact.

Because of the anniversary of Iwo Jima, I am offering three books on sale: Preparing Boys for BattleMoment of Courage, and Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer. Normally, these three books are 37.85, but for today and tomorrow, you can purchase all three for $25 in the NCFIC store. Preparing Boys for Battle and Moment of Courage tell the story of Iwo Jima and teach lessons that our generations of boys must know. In Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer, my daughter Kelly, granddaughter of a Second Lt. Bill Brown, remembers her hero’s story. She writes a letter to the next generation, inspiring them through her grandfather’s story to think beyond themselves and towards having a multi-generational mindset–not living for the moment, but for the lives of their children, and their children’s children.

 

Father's Day Bundle

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The Sum of a Child’s Duty: Honor His Parents

Young people, dwell upon this single, simple thought: a child’s pleasure should be to please his parents. This is love and the sum of all your duty. If you would adopt this rule, if you would write this upon your heart, if you would make this the standard of your conduct, I might lay down my pen: for it includes everything in itself.

- John Angell James 

John Angell James, “From The Duties of Sons and Daughters to Their Parents,” in A Theology of the Family, ed. Scott T. Brown and Jeff Pollard (Wake Forest, NC: The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, 2014), 558.

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Youth Ministry Ghetto-izing Youth
T. David Gordon

Here is an insightful article by T. David Gordon on youth ministry – how it came to be, why we perpetuate it, and what to do about it. In one section he says,

“What I suggest, then, is that we move children to adulthood as soon as they are capable of being so, without ghetto-izing them in an adolescent world in between. As soon as they are emotionally and intellectually capable of dealing with the matters adults deal with, we should invite them to do so. When I pastored in New Hampshire, this is what we did. We provided no separate education for our youth; they went directly to adult classes as soon as their parents judged they were capable of dealing with adult realities. And, by rubbing shoulders with adults at an earlier age than at many churches, a good number of them matured more quickly.[8]

For those who decide to retain their current Adolescent Ministries (by whatever label), I gently suggest that we do everything in our power not to normalize “youth.” If we have special ministries directed to adolescents, they should be aimed at expediting their arrival at adulthood. We could/should teach courses on family finances, courses on selecting a spouse, about community service and churchmanship, and perhaps above all, courses on marriage and family. We should gear everything towards getting them beyond adolescence ASAP, and into successful adulthood ASAP.” 

You can read the whole article here.

http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=466&issue_id=102

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Pray for our Marriage Conference that Starts Today – Why Does the Devil Hate Marriage?

Please pray for us this weekend. Today we begin our marriage gathering in our home – “Our Marriages and the Marriages of Our Son’s and Daughters.” We have 22 couples coming. This gathering is designed to take us to Scripture to, on the one hand, learn the language of marriage from the one who created it; and on the other hand, it is designed to deliver us from self-made marriages. A self-made marriage is a marriage made in the image of yourself. It is inwardly focused and narcissistic. God however has designed marriage for the glorification of the love of God in Christ Jesus, and for a demonstration of a faithful submissive Church.

Why does the devil hate marriage so much? Is it because he simply desires to cause as much hate, alienation, discord, and disappointment as he can between spouses? Is it because he hates the offspring that comes from marriage? While these may be some of his reasons, consider that the devil hates marriage because he hates the Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. God created marriage in order to give the world an earthly illustration of His love for His Church, His sacrifices on behalf of His Church, His union with His Church, His sanctification of the Church, and the glorious purposes that He has in mind for His Church.

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Four Questions Explain it All

1. What is truth? The word of God.

2. What is valuable? The kingdom of God.

3. What is ethical? The law of God.

4. How must I be saved? By the Son of God alone.

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Seven Marks of Idolatry

I recently preached a sermon titled, “To Whom Will You Liken God?,” on Isaiah 40:18-20 where Isaiah contrasts the infinite majesty of God with the complete inadequacy of idols. In this passage, Isaiah is mocking the idol maker, the idolater, and the idol itself. In the course of that expository sermon, I identified seven marks of idolatry from the Bible:

  1. Idolatry comes through deceptive images of God, Ex 20:4
  2. Rebellion and stubbornness are expressions of idolatry, 1 Samuel 15
  3. The works of the flesh are idolatry, Gal 5:19
  4. Sexual immorality is connected with idolatry, Hosea 4:13-15; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 5:5
  5. Embracing false ideas is idolatry, Zech 10:2
  6. Covetousness is idolatry, Col 3:5
  7. Your vision of God can be idolatry, Isaiah 40:18

Martin Luther – “Whatever your heart clings to and relies upon, that is your God.”1

Matthew Henry – “Proud people make themselves equal with God; covetous people make their money equal with God; and whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we equal with God.”2

John Angell James – “Hence it is obvious that—whatever we love most, and are most anxious to retain and please—whatever it be we depend most upon for happiness and help—whatever has most of our hearts—that is, in effect, is our God!—whether it be Jehovah or Jupiter, or whether it be friends, possessions, or our own desires, or our own selves!”3

1. G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 17.
2. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), 1151.
3. John Angell James, “Spiritual Idolatry,” Grace Gems, http://www.gracegems.org/25/spiritual_idolatry.htm.

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New Price for A Theology of the Family

The NCFIC store has reduced its price for A Theology of the Family from $39.95 to $21.95. You won’t find a better price anywhere else on the internet. To purchase, head on over to the NCFIC store!

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Come to Our Church Discipline Conference

What does the Bible say about church discipline?

Please join me (Scott Brown), Dr. Joe Morecraft, Jeff Pollard, Dan Horn, Jason Dohm, Dan Ford, Lael Weinberger, and Rob Ventura as we examine what Scripture has to say about this important issue.

This conference will be held at Hope Baptist Church, July 9-11, 2015. To help prepare you for this conference, we would like to give you a copy of Lael Weinberger and Bob Renaud’s book, A Tale of Two Governments for FREE when you register. For more information and to register, go to the conference page. We hope to see you there!

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15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret – Notice the First One

David Manner from, “Doxology and Theology” recently posted a list of “15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret.” The first one stuck out to me: 

  1. Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines.
  2. Eliminating choral expressions in worship.
  3. Worship leader ageism.
  4. Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper.
  5. Making worship and music exclusively synonymous.
  6. Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
  7. Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
  8. Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
  9. Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
  10. Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship.
  11. Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.
  12. Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship.
  13. Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle.
  14. Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty.
  15. Worship services at the expense of worship service.

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Are You Planning to Move?

Deepak Reju from the Biblical Counseling Coalition wrote a great article titled, “2 Principles to Consider if You Are Planning to Move: Advice to a Mobile Society.” If you are planning on moving, I encourage you to read this article.

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Making Resolutions – What About the Other Time Markers

Genesis 1 tells us that God has created a celestial world with natural time markers in the movements of the stars for times and seasons. It is a good thing to mark time. Most people are big on marking the new year by making resolutions. But there are other time markers to consider. J.C. Ryle speaks of it this way,

“Do we make progress in our religion? Do we grow?  The question is one that is always useful, but especially so at certain seasons.  A Saturday night, a communion Sunday, the return of a birthday, the end of a year – all these are seasons that ought to set us thinking, and make us look within. Time is fast flying. Life is fast ebbing away… Surely it becomes us from time to time to examine ourselves, and take account of our souls? Do we get on in spiritual things? Do we grow?”  Holiness, p 99

We are very good at placing an emphasis on the new year, but God has given us many opportunities to take an inventory of our lives. If we only focus on the new year, we may miss the many other interim times and seasons to seek the Lord in a special way to return again to the things we know are right.

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