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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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BE PREPARED

J. R. MillerJ.R. Miller:

There is a large difference between worrying about possible future trials — and being prepared for them if they should come. The former we should never do — the latter we should always seek to do. If we do, we are always prepared for: emergencies; hard knocks; steep climbing; sore struggle and we get through life victoriously.

In moral and spiritual things, it is the same. It is our preparation which preserves us in all the final tests — the strength which lies behind what we need in ordinary encounters. Those who daily commune with God, breathing His life into their souls — become strong with that hidden strength that preserves them from falling in the day of trial. They have a “vessel” from which to refill the lamp when its little cup of oil is exhausted.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

RETURNING HOME

Samuel A CainHonor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. (Ephesians 6:2-3 ESV)

Her children rise up and call her blessed; (Proverbs 31:28 ESV)

My wife and I have recently moved from Hickory, North Carolina to Eastover, North Carolina. Eastover is a community east of the Cape Fear River. During the 1800’s, it was once known as Flea Hill. This is where I grew up.

Why was it called Flea Hill? According to what I heard growing up and John A. Oakes’ The Story of Fayetteville, The Story of Fayetteville and The Upper Cape Fear, there was a tavern located here under which hogs and goats slept. The fleas lived where they could get to the hogs and goats – and, I suppose, the unsuspecting traveler. See more about the Town of Eastover at eastovernc.com.

My ancestor, Samuel R. Cain, (Born: 1815 – Bladen County, NC) moved to Flea Hill and married Nancy Jarrett (Born: December 12, 1818) in 1841. Needless to say, the roots of my family have been deep in Flea Hill (now Eastover, NC) for almost 180 years. So much for family history . . . Continue reading

FAMILY

Samuel A CainI have found that one of the hardest places to live like a Christian is often within your own family. A family is truly blessed when Christ is in their midst and there is peace with one-another. May the God of all peace grant you this pearl of great price in Jesus Christ.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

christianmarriageAnd the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24 ESV)

John Piper:

Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.

Today, my daughter Molly is getting married. I pray, and would ask you to consider praying, that she and Cory would have a Christ honoring marriage and the blessing of God.

May 22, 2014

FAMILY

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“There is a great deal in the way in which a man walks in his house. It will not do to be a saint abroad and a devil at home! There are some of that kind. They are wonderfully sweet at a Prayer Meeting, but they are dreadfully sour to their wives and children. This will never do! Every genuine Believer should say, and mean it, ‘I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.’ It is in the home that we get the truest proof of godliness. ‘What sort of a man is he?’ said one to George Whitefield, and Whitefield answered, ‘I cannot say, for I never lived with him.’ That is the way to test a man—to live with him.” (1894,Sermon #2362)

“Family prayer and the pulpit are the bulwarks of Protestantism! Depend upon it, when family piety goes down, the life of godliness will become very low. In Europe, at any rate, seeing that the Christian faith began with a converted household, we ought to seek after the conversion of all our families and to maintain within our houses the good and holy practice of family worship.” (1891, Sermon #2222)

Sex and Faith

How the West Really Lost GodDr. Benjamin Wiker reviews the book, How the West Really Lost God, by Mary Eberstadt at tothesource. I encourage you to read the entire article:

From 1972 to 2002 the percentage of Americans attending church or synagogue dropped from 41% to 31%, and much of this fall is connected “by the fact that fewer adults are now married with children.” Wherever we look, we find that the destruction of the family causes or accelerates the destruction of faith. And, to note the obvious, the sexual revolution put people at odds with the moral doctrines of the faith. “The more people had sex outside of marriage, the less incentive there was to form marriages in the first place—and the more reluctance to sign on to official Christian (or similar religious) teaching in these matters. With more people living without marriage, more men and women had profound reasons to tell themselves that the Judeo-Christian moral code was out of date—and to be kindly inclined toward experts and even clergy purveying the message, as more and more men and women of the cloth would come to do.”

That last point has a most serious sting we should not miss. The very churches—the so-called mainline churches—that liberalized their sexual moral code, are the very churches who have, since the 1960s, experienced the greatest decline in numbers.

CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE. . . .

Husbands are not Christ

Passion of Jesus ChristJohn Piper:

“Husbands are not Christ. But they are called to be like him. And the specific point of likeness is the husband’s readiness to suffer for his wife’s good without threatening or abusing her. This includes suffering to protect her from any outside forces that would harm her, as well as suffering disappointments of abuses even from her. This kind of love is possible because Christ died for both husband and wife. Their sins are forgiven. Neither needs to make the other suffer for sins. Christ has borne that suffering. Now as two sinful and forgiven people we can return good for evil.” (Passion of Jesus Christ)

The Absent Father

Absent FathersAs Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation has shown, the best anti-poverty program is marriage:

When a child’s father is married to his mother, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.

Absent fathers don’t just harm their children economically. A father’s influence on children is documented and widely accepted. Adolescents without dads in their lives tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior. To be blunt, they get into trouble. Social science indicates that fathers play a different and complementary role to mothers in raising children, particularly sons. . . .

If American culture doesn’t honor the role of fathers, young people won’t understand the importance of young men growing up in responsibility – and young women won’t understand what to look for in a mate. Rather than honoring fatherhood, though, too often our society minimizes the importance of fathers in the home. So much so that a live-in dad is seen, at best, as optional.

Continue reading this article by Derrick Morgan. . . .

A Healthy Marriage Culture

MarriageColumnist Ken Connelly:

“A healthy marriage culture helps the gold standard prevail, wherever possible, that children are raised by the parents who brought them into this world. … The Supreme Court itself has repeatedly noted that marriage and the family are necessary foundations of a free and properly functioning democratic republic. This is why the state, although it did not create marriage, has consistently supported and encouraged its flourishing. In contrast, until very recently, no government in human history has ever officially recognized same-sex relationships as marriages, precisely because they do not further society’s important interest in the natural procreation of the next generation of citizens. … The erosion of marriage and the breakdown of the family in America have unleashed social problems that are all too real and must be remedied. But the remedy will not come by accepting same-sex ‘marriage’ as valid, necessary, or constitutionally required. Marriage does not need redefinition, but re-dedication to its core meaning, the union of one man and one woman, and to its core purpose, uniting children to their own mother and father.”

Churches Should Examine Marriage Bylaws

Traditional MarriageWith the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues.

Read the entire article here. . . .

Keeping the Wolves at Bay

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingPay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (Acts 20:28-29 ESV)

I believe that many will agree with me that Christianity has lost much of its influence on our modern culture. It has even become politically incorrect to mention it in the history books of our nation, unless it is portrayed in a negative context. Only 150 years ago, Christian influence was obvious in American education. Most of the early colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were founded by Christians who believed there was no true knowledge or wisdom without Jesus Christ (see “Harvard’s Rules and Precepts”). The first 106 out of 108 colleges in the US were started as Christian schools primarily to ensure the availability of an educated clergy. University of Houston researchers, Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman, have concluded that 34% of the quotes used by the Founding Fathers of our country between 1760 and 1805 were from the Bible. This certainly indicates that the Bible and Christianity were a major influence on these men and the early history of America. However, this is certainly not true of our leaders and the culture in general today.

How has it happened then, that Christianity has lost its prominent position of influence on American culture and modern society in the Western nations? At the core of it, I think the primary reason is that the “fear of God” has been replaced by the “fear of man”. Modern civilization has become self-absorbed. We are like a man who constantly checks the mirror to see what he thinks others see in him. It is the pride of life, which drives a man to desire independence from God while chaining himself to the ungodly opinions of others.

The sacred writings of the modern world are founded upon the wisdom of men, self-help books, psychology texts, and the latest People Magazine. The authority of Scripture is denied, if not out-rightly – then by neglect. The Bible is seen as providing “a” way, not “the” way. All men are seen as basically “good” without ever defining what “good” is.

Too many ministers today see their work as a job rather than a calling. They lack spiritual knowledge and personal holiness. Many are like the priests described by Ezekiel, “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.” (Ezekiel 22:26-28 ESV) The essential good news of salvation is lost in trying to make the church meet the world’s standard of success.

Therefore, increasingly – as time has passed, parents and children have passed through Sunday Schools and worship services without being given a firm foundation in the Christian faith. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth, who have attended church all their lives, go off to the modern university and promptly lose what faith they have?

When the doctrines of the church and personal beliefs are allowed to become poles apart, is it any wonder that the definition of sin becomes uncertain and “salvation by death” the acceptable conclusion of a life? The underlying wish that everyone goes to heaven has sent too many to hell.

As the clergy has become weaker by submitting itself to the bonds of public opinion, the church and its members have lost their purpose of being “salt and light”. Indeed, how can they be salt and light when the world has become the standard by which the modern church measures all things? God has not changed. The Bible has not changed. Therefore, if the church has lost much of its influence for good in society, it is because the men and women who make up the church have chosen to ride the whirlwind of public approval rather than honor God.

We would do well to follow God’s instructions: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) God is speaking here to His people about using good judgment and not blindly following false prophets and priests. The Bible is our way mark to direct us which way to take. The ways of the world will never direct us to fulfill God’s purpose.

Samuel at Gilgal

A Conversation about Sin

7-deadly-sinsI once had a conversation (about Jesus Christ) with a young woman in which she told me emphatically that she was not a sinner and that she had no sins over which to repent. I am curious. Do you think that this attitude is prevalent in the culture of our youth today? How do you think our unchurched family members, friends, and acquaintances define sin?

A Potential Elder’s Domestic Life

PreacherA pulpit ministry may be greatly hindered if the pastor cannot rule his own house properly. Al Martin explains:

The ministry of many a church is being terribly hampered by the absence of practical piety in the life of the teaching elder. It is significant that in I Timothy 3, having mentioned that the man must be blameless, Paul immediately moves to a specific area that of the potential elder’s domestic life. ‘If any man be blameless, the husband of one wife, having children not accused of riot or unruly, for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the house of God?’ And I say, not censoriously, but with true concern, that many pulpit ministries of some precious servants of God are being negated by the failure of practical piety in the realm of domestic life. A situation came to my attention recently where a minister was actually asked to resign his church because of the wagging tongue of his wife. The problem was not basically the man’s message or his ministry, but his failure to rule his own house, and to bring his wife into line in the area of her gossiping tongue. How dare we ministers call upon others to be obedient to the Word of God, if we are blatantly disobedient in this matter? God clearly says that, to qualify for the teaching elder’s position, our own houses must be ruled well. It does not say that they must be ruled perfectly; it does not say that we have power to infuse grace into the souls of our children. But, if we do not have clear principles and our own lives are not sufficiently weighty by their own godly example to rule our houses, how can we rule the House of God? That is the vital question. It is my own personal conviction that if a man fails to meet this requirement, he has no more right to remain in the ministry than if he fails in one of the other requirements. I would not presume to judge in individual cases, for that is God’s work, but certainly it cannot be of God that, in church after church, there is little pulpit power because the life of the minister is so shoddy in the area of practical piety, particularly in domestic matters. (“What’s Wrong with Preaching?”)

Women on the Front Lines of Combat

Celtic Woman Warrior by AndreThere is no doubt that in the history of warfare, women have certainly played a role in the frontline of combat many times. However, the rise of Western Civilization has mostly frowned upon the idea of women in combat. If we look to the Bible, we find Deborah (Judges 4:14) who on one occasion acted as a military adviser or even a general to an army of 10,000 men. The idea of women in combat, however, is a foreign concept to the teachings of the Bible.

There are many who have lobbied our government for years to place women in front line combat roles. “Equality” is often the generalized reason for pushing the concept forward. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last month that the military is going to remove its ban on women in combat. Is this something to celebrate or just another sign of moral decay? Michael Foust writes:

Panetta made his announcement Thursday (Jan. 24), saying the removal of the ban had unanimous approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With the removal, about 237,000 positions on or near the front lines of combat are now open to women.

“If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job, then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual orientation,” Panetta said.

You may read more here. . . .

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS NEW POLICY, AS A CHRISTIAN SPECIFICALLY?

In the Face of Modern Nihilism

Francis SchaefferFrancis Schaeffer:

In the face of this modern nihilism, Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if god really is not there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we are not dealing merely with platitudes. In other words, it should be understood that we take the question of truth and personality so seriously that if God were not there we would be among the first of those who had the courage to step out of the queue.

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