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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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Reforming The Family: A Serious Thought On Love In The Biblical Family

You are probably not going to appreciate my publishing this post on Valentine’s Day. The excerpt below was written by Brian Abshire who is the Teaching Elder at Highlands Reformed Church. He did not write this for Valentine’s Day, but I think today is a good day to read his article. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about “Love”. We often have a vague sense of what love means on a day like today: On this day we demonstrate our love through cards, candy (chocolate of course), and small gifts. Our Valentine’s Day circle usually includes family, close friends, and/or girlfriend or boyfriend. I want us to focus here on “family”. As Christians, if we are called to “love one another” with the love of Christ, something has gone terribly wrong with the condition of the “love” expressed in today’s Christian family. On this Valentine’s Day, let’s take a serious look at some of the things that make the “love of Christ” difficult to express in our own families and vow to make any changes that need to be made. Brian Abshire writes:

The modern American Christian family now too often looks something like this. Mom and Dad come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds with no sense of their cultural history. They may also come from completely different parts of the country. Consequently, they often have divergent goals, interests, expectations etc., except for a common commitment to self fulfillment. . . .

Because of large college debts, Mom goes back to work after the honeymoon, trying to recapture some of the massive investment her education required. After several years of increased consumer debt, Mom and Dad decide to have a family. But they cannot afford to have very many children. As soon as possible, Mom needs to go back to work to keep their affluent, debt ridden lifestyle going. As the children grow up, they are immediately sent into the public school system; Christian schooling is too expensive and home schooling too difficult. Time with the family is severely limited due to Dad’s career; Mom’s work and the myriad recreational activities the children are enrolled in. Quality time is defined as everyone watching the same program on TV.

Church offers no respite. The children are carefully separated from the family as soon as possible and given mindless entertainment in various youth activities. Children develop their core values from school, television, friends and the other kids at church (hence what bad habits they don’t learn on their own, their peers will soon teach them). Since the culture emphasizes personal gratification, a significant number of children will become involved in premarital sex, drug abuse, indolence, etc., much of which they will carefully hide from their parents. Many of these children will drop out of Christianity before 25. Mom and Dad will be delighted if their children stay off drugs, go to college and get a good paying job. They will be ecstatic if their kids marry a nominal Christian, show up for church (but probably not theirs) a dozen times a year and do not formally renounce the faith.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad are frustrated with each other and adultery or deviant sexuality is a real possibility. Dad abdicates the running of the family to Mom (he’s too busy playing with his remote control). Mom wants a strong husband, but has no model of godly submission. Secularized culture has given her unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a woman (she’s to be a career minded girl, who is a super mom to the kids and a sex goddess to her husband, all while finding her sense of identity by discovering her real self). She’s frustrated, often bitter and slanders her husband at women’s Bible studies. . . .

The individual Christian is often frustrated, alienated and tries to finds satisfaction in either work or hobbies. Children are increasingly seen as an “experience” rather than as a duty to fill the earth and subdue it. Life is fractured and divided. Where one works has nothing to do with where one lives or goes to church. The church itself is simply another social club, with the membership changing annually. There is therefore a dearth of significant and meaningful relationships. Women are frustrated at their men who live increasingly irresponsibly outside of their jobs. Women run both the home and church. Divorced from any significant, lasting human relationships, American Christians end up just like their unregenerate neighbors, living a self absorbed, self indulgent lifestyle, moderated only by the thinnest veneer of Biblical morality.

And the root problem is the loss of the Biblical family. A sub-biblical family means that individual Christians do not grow in the fundamental character qualities to make effective leaders. The Church weakens, producing even less effective Christians, who in turn are more and more influenced by the world, rather than influencing it.

Read the entire article here. . . .

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)

Brian Abshire has served as a Biblical counselor, lecturer in theology, youth, singles, young married and senior pastor. He is currently the Teaching Elder at Highlands Reformed Church, (Hanover Presbytery, Reformed Presbyterian Church).

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Thoughts On Time And The New Year

From the desk of Steven B. Cloud:

Though even thinking on the subject of time may prove discomforting, it is not a bad idea—especially at the beginning of a new year.

As we look into 2012, we look at a block of time. We see 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds. And all is a gift from God. We have done nothing to deserve it, earn it, or purchased it. Like the air we breathe, time comes to us as a part of life. . . .

Another important thing about time is that you cannot stop it. There is no way to slow it down, turn it off, or adjust it. Time marches on.

And you cannot bring back time. Once it is gone, it is gone. Yesterday is lost forever. If yesterday is lost, tomorrow is uncertain. We may look ahead at a full year’s block of time, but we really have no guarantee that we will experience any of it.

Obviously, time is one of our most precious possessions. We can waste it. We can worry over it. We can spend it on ourselves. Or, as good stewards, we can invest it in the Kingdom of God.

The New Year is full of time. As the seconds tick away, will you be tossing time out the window, or will you make every minute count? (Pulpit Helps, Vol. 14, # 2)

Focus On The Christ Of Christmas

John MacArthur

From the desk of John MacArthur:

“There is no connection between the worship of idols and the use of Christmas trees. We should not be anxious about baseless arguments against Christmas decorations. Rather, we should be focused on the Christ of Christmas and giving all diligence to remembering the real reason for the season.”

Christmas: A Time To Glorify God

Quoting J. R. Miller:

There were two parts in the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born. The first part was an outburst of praise to God. “Glory to God in the highest!” God should always be put first. He should be first in our hearts, first in our love, first in our worship, first in our trust. It was fitting that the first note of the angels’ song should be to God. The great blessing of that night was God’s unspeakable gift to men, and to God—the highest honor should be raised. “Glory to God!” Before we begin our rejoicing at the Christmas time—we should bow reverently before God and praise him.

The second part of the angels’ song, referred to the meaning of Christmas to this world, to the blessings it would bring to His people, to the change and transformation it would work. “On earth peace, good-will toward men.”

Enter A New Year

Quoting William Thomson Hanzsche:

As we grow older in life, years somehow seem to shorten and New Year’s Day approaches with an ever increasing tempo. The more mature we get, the more we realize that time is only relative; how we live means more than how long we live. Haply also we do not live by years, but by days. In His wisdom God does not show us all that lies ahead. So we enter a new year to live it day by day. What is past is past. Today we start anew, and what we do today will make our life for tomorrow. Chin up, shoulders straight, eyes agleam, let us salute the New Year, and each day let us follow more faithfully, more courageously, more daringly the lead of our great Captain who bids us follow Him.

The Blessing Of A New Year

Quoting Debbie Carroccio:

We should take advantage of His faithfulness and make every day a fresh start. Resolve to make each day the beginning of a new year, a new morning, a new adventure. He wipes the slate clean and goes back to zero so we can be filled up again with His spirit and give it out all day long. Enjoy the blessings of a new year, in Christ, one day at a time!

A New Year’s Blessing

Author Unknown:

May God make your year a happy one!

Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,

But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;

Not by making your path easy,

But by making you sturdy to travel any path;

Not by taking hardships from you,

But by taking fear from your heart;

Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,

But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;

Not by making your life always pleasant,

But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,

and by making you anxious to be there to help.

God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.

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