Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Profile of an Average American Male

Several years ago, USA Today carried an article from Men’s Health magazine profiling.  The article was based on “reports, surveys, and reams of marketing data.”  The report was not encouraging.  The study revealed that the average American man:

  • Loses his virginity at seventeen.
  • Marries at twenty-six.
  • Can run a mile, but it takes him twelve minutes.
  • Can do only thirty to thirty-three sit-ups per minute.
  • Sleeps seven hours a night.
  • Buys frozen pizza four times a month.
  • Can bench press only eighty-eight percent of his body weight.
  • Has seventy to eighty pounds of muscle.
  • Watches TV about twenty-eight hours per week.
  • Saves less than three thousand dollars per year for retirement.
  • Earns an annual salary of $29,533.
  • Is 5’9” tall and weighs 172 pounds.
  • Will have sex with five to ten partners during his lifetime.
  • Will consume eleven beers in a seven-day period.

Given this dismal portrait, I am not surprised fewer and fewer women are marrying.  We should probably be amazed that they are marrying at all.

(Excerpt from Daniel Akin’s God on Sex: The Creator’s Idea About Love, Intimacy and Marriage). 

Thoughts on this?  He brings out some interesting concerns regarding the physical inactivity and the sexual activity of the American male.  Still processing this list, though. 

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What Not to Say to Your Spouse

Again, Danny Akin in his book God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy and Marriage passes along some more helpful tips from Steve Stephens on what not to say to your spouse.  These were culled from some of his close friends.  Yikes!  Brace yourself:

  • “I told you so.”
  • “You’re just like your mother.”
  • “You’re always in a bad mood.”
  • “You just don’t think.”
  • “It’s your fault.”
  • “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “All you ever do is complain.”
  • “I can’t do anything to please you.”
  • “You get what you deserve.”
  • “Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
  • “Can’t you be more responsible?”
  • “What were you thinking?”
  • “You’re impossible!”
  • “I don’t know why I put up with you.”
  • “I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face and it doesn’t do any good.”
  • “I can do whatever I like.”
  • “If you don’t like it, you can just leave.”
  • “Can’t you do anything right?”
  • “That was stupid.”
  • “All you ever do is think of yourself.”
  • “If you really loved me, you’d do this.”
  • “You’re such a baby.”
  • “Turnabout’s fair play.”
  • “You deserve a dose of your own medicine.”
  • “What’s your problem?”
  • “I can never understand you.”
  • “Do you always have to be right?”

Ouch!  Words can be weapons, yes?  What think ye?

Categories: Marriage | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Preaching with Objections in Mind

After a sermon a couple weeks ago, someone from my church with whom I have a great relationship mentioned to me that I have a particular habit when I preached.  Bracing myself, I asked them to elaborate.  In essence, they said, “When you preach, you do this thing where you change your voice then state a possible objection to what you or the Bible says.”  So I listened over my sermon again, and sure enough they were right! 

I was preaching on James 5:13-20, stating all the different conditions that Christians go through, and noted that in each of these issues, James tells us to ‘pray/praise.’  So, I lowered the register in my voice and said, “Now some of you will say, [lower voice here], ‘Bro. Matt, what kind of advice is that?  Are you saying we should just pray?” [Back to normal voice here.]  To which I exhorted them, “Yes, you should.”  And away I went.

I’m not sure why I did this or where this habit came from—maybe to provide variety?  Even so, what about this (not the voice, the idea of stating objections only to answer them)?

Since I practice this in my preaching, my natural tendency is to say, “Yes.”  While some may believe I’m not giving people enough credit, my response is that I’ve met too many people and know what so many are thinking.  After a while, you begin to see a pattern and know what the world’s system will object to (see 1 Peter 3:15-16). 

Biblical Examples of Preaching With Objections in Mind

Without doing an entire survey of the Scriptures, I do believe a survey of Paul’s epistle to the Romans would suffice.  At certain points in Romans, he brings forth a question to propel his argument.  Here are some examples:

  • “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:3-4)?  Paul saw the objections from the Jews: they were the chosen people of God from the seed of Abraham.  They were bullet-proof.  But if the fruit of their lives showed that they were not redeemed, they would not escape judgment. 
  • “So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision” (Romans 2:26)?  The Jews could not understand how an uncircumcised Gentile could be accepted by God.  But as Acts 10-11 show, the Spirit was falling on the Gentiles too when they received Jesus as their Messiah as well.  And it had nothing to do with surgery!  They showed their circumcision was of the heart, not of the flesh.  Objection answered!
  • “What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2a).  At the end of Romans 5, Paul spoke on how great sin was, but how much greater is grace!  Some were using this as justification for their sin so to magnify God’s grace.  He understood the objection and addressed it!
  • “What then? Are we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means” (Romans 6:15).  Since “sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (6:14), some said you could indulge in sin because it will not touch your eternal position!  Paul struck down that objection in a hurry. 
  • “What then shall we say? That the law is sin?  By no means” (Romans 7:7)!  Since Christ came to release us from the power and threat of the law, then the law must be bad.  Throw out the Old Testament!  No, Paul says.  The law shows where God’s boundaries lay.  We know what sin is!  “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”

These examples show an important principle: we must not only preach to the convinced converted, but also to the unaccepting unbeliever!  And let’s not forget the struggling saint who is still doing battle with the world, the flesh, and the oppression of the devil (the unholy Trinity). 

I teach 11th grade apologetics at Blue Grass Baptist School here in Lexington, Kentucky.  One of the issues they tell me in regards to preaching is that the preachers always assume their hearers (especially the younger hearers) know more than they do.  They rattle off Bible verses, then just go on before they really understand what the Word is saying.  And the result is tragic: they lose interest in the most interesting Book written by the most Interesting Being in the Universe. 

Maybe understanding the Word, but also having possible objections in mind would help make that all important connection from “Jerusalem to Lexington” (or insert your city in place of Lexington). 

What think ye?  Have you come across this issue lately?  How have you addressed this?

Categories: apologetics | 1 Comment

When Confessing Sin to One Another

This past Sunday, I preached from James 5:13-18 and was struck by God’s desire for the church body’s involvement in confession of sin.  Yet, some take certain aspects of this too far.  Here are some good rules of thumb:

  1. If you have sinned against a brother or sister in Christ, go to that brother or sister in Christ and confess to them one-to-one (see Matthew 5:23-24).
  2. If you have sinned, but not against anyone in particular (except God, or course), find a mature Christian of your gender and share this with them for accountability and for partnership in prayer. 
  3. If you have sinned against the church body or your sin affects the church body, confess it to the church body. 

Thoughts?

Categories: church, church attendees, Church Life, church membership | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Thirty-Seven Things to Say to Your Spouse

Daniel Akin’s book God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas About Love, Intimacy and Marriage, an extended engaging exposition of Song of Solomon, includes a Steve Stephens’ list of 37 things to say to your spouse.  Use them wisely:

  • “Good job!”
  • “You are wonderful!”
  • “That was really great.”
  • “You look gorgeous today.”
  • “I don’t feel complete without you.”
  • “I appreciate all the things you’ve done for me all these years.”
  • “You come first in my life, before kids, career, friends, anything.”
  • “I’m glad I married you.”
  • “You’re the best friend I have.”
  • “If I had to do it over again, I’d still marry you.”
  • “I wanted you today.”
  • “I missed you today.”
  • “I couldn’t get you out of my mind today.”
  • “It’s nice to wake up next to you.”
  • “I will always love you.”
  • “I love to see your eyes sparkle when you smile.”
  • “As always, you look good today.”
  • “I trust you.”
  • “I can always count on you.”
  • “You make me feel good.”
  • “I’m so proud to be married to you.”
  • “I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”
  • “What would you like?”
  • “What is on your mind?”
  • “Let me just listen.”
  • “You are so special.”
  • “I can’t imagine life without you.”
  • “I wish I were a better partner.”
  • “What can I do to help?”
  • “Pray for me.”
  • “I’m praying for you today.”
  • “I prize every moment we spend together.”
  • “Thank you for loving me.”
  • “Thank you for accepting me.”
  • “Thank you for being my partner.”
  • “You make every day brighter.”

__________________

From Steve Stephens, “37 Things to Say to Your Spouse,” in Stories for the Heart, complied by Alice Gray (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996), 177-78. Quoted in Daniel Akin, God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas About Love, Intimacy and Marriage (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003), 30-31.

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28 in 28, Day 2: Reflections on Acts 2

February 2, 2011

Take time now to read Acts 2.

Acts 2:1-13

Christ fulfills His promise–the Helper has come (John 16:13-14)!  The Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind and they began to speak in tongues.  The next scene shows why–not for personal edification, but for proclamation!  Pentecost had come, and the world (and its corresponding languages) had descended upon Jerusalem. What better way for God to be glorified than by using the uneducated disciples to speak and preach to these various groups–and they be understood!?  This would baffle the Jews for the majority of the book, but the only education they would need was being with Jesus (see Acts 4:13).

Acts 2:14-41: Peter Puts His ‘Tongue’ To Use

Peter knew his audience.  Having grown up a Jew, he knew the OT Scriptures and also the stumbling blocks that many had in regards to the Man with whom he walked with for 3 1/2 years.  It’s important for us to know our audience.  In pockets in the Southern US where Christianity is more cultural than, say, in the Northeast US, one may start like Peter where key passages of Scripture are known.  He brings in the minor prophet Joel (not minor in status from other books, but smaller in size than Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel–the major prophets), Psalm 16, and Psalm 110 among other passages.

What was his point?  Even in the OT, the Messiah was portrayed as a suffering servant (Isaiah 53) who would be crucified but who would never “see decay” and be raised from the dead.  The Jews who had awaited this Messiah were responsible for sending Him to His death.

Peter did not hold back on the accountability of the Jews, but he didn’t hold back on the message of grace either.  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  Even though they crucified the Son of God, even that sin can be forgiven if they would repent and follow in obedience in baptism.  Stunning!

What about you?  What are your thoughts?

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Sermons From Our Series from the Epistle of James

Recently, I had the blessing, honor, and privilege of preaching through the Epistle of James.  What a great book!  I entitled it “The Grand Equation of Christianity.”  It’s not faith plus works, but it’s a faith that works in the grand economy of the Christian life. 

Count It Joy on Your Journey (James 1:1-8; 15-17)
Count It Joy in When You Pray and Fast
 (James 1:9-14)
Hearing and Doing the Will of God (James 1:18-27)
Where Every Person Has Value (James 2:1-13; 5:1-6)
Not Faith Plus Works But a Faith That Works (James 2:14-26)
Taming the Tongue (James 3:1-12)
When Worldliness Worms Its Way In the Church (James 4)
Praying the Prayer of Faith (James 5:7-20)

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28 in 28, Day 1: Reflections on Acts 1

February 1, 2011

Acts 1 begins a new chapter in the Christian church–the post-Jesus era. The author is Luke, historian and physician extraordinaire who, given these occupations, has a knack and hunger for detail.

He writes to Theophilus (literally, ‘lover of God’)(Acts 1:1), who is likely a Roman soldier inquiring about the Christian faith. I wonder if Theophilus knew what he was in for when he asked Luke to give an account!

Acts 1:1-8:  Famous Last Words

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:1-12), Jesus spent the next 40 days showing proof of his resurrection and teaching them about the Kingdom of God.  Even those who saw Jesus needed convincing that this man before them was actually Jesus.

Like many today, the disciples were concerned about the end times and what Christ would do next–and when!

6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

Jesus made it clear throughout His 3 1/2 year ministry that no one knows the time of His return, or really the timing of anything regarding how He will have history play out.  While many spend a great deal of time working through the numbers and the symbolism found in Scripture, Jesus tells us on more than one occasion that it’s not for us to know.

What are we to know? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  This matter should consume the Christian–being witnesses and testifying in the power of the Spirit whom He has sent to us (and promised to them–which would happen a scant 10 days from then).  Even when Jesus ascended to the Father, angels were sent to hurry them on their way to the next appointed session–waiting on the Lord for His promised Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:12-26: Replacing Judas

Judas betrayed Jesus–and he was one of their disciples!  Here comes the conundrum for many believers.

15In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Judas was held accountable for betraying the Son of God, yet Peter conveys that God prophesied that this would happen 1000 years prior in Psalm 41:9 from King David himself.

How do we reconcile this?  Peter didn’t have much trouble, nor should we.  This prophecy helped them understand that Judas’ treachery was not a random act and that God had not lost control of the wheel. God used Judas as an instrument for Christ’s deliverance to the Jewish authorities.  We have to go by what is clear to inform us in regards to what is unclear.

Another interesting note from here: this is the last time we hear of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). Whereas some denominations hold Mary as a centerpiece, even a co-redemptrix, to their faith, she is notedly absent from the rest of Scripture.  One wonders, if she is truly this critical to the warp and woof of the Christian faith, wouldn’t she have been mentioned at some point in the following 27 chapters of Acts, the epistles, and Revelation?

Through prayer and the casting of lots, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas–and we never hear from him again.  Could it be that the apostle Paul would serve in that role (Acts 9:15-16)?

What are some reflections you have?

 

 

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