Posts Tagged With: family

The Sanctifying Work of Marriage and Parenting

I was a great husband before I married my wife of now almost 16 years.  I was a great father until I became a 4-time dad.  And so it happened, and God’s marvelous sanctifying work in my heart and mind kicked it up a number of notches. 

At a marriage conference I attended in 2001, Dr. Danny Akin, now president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, noted that getting married is like going to college, and having children is like going to grad school.  I’d add that when you start having teenagers, you’re working on your Parental PhD–with PhD meaning pretty hard days.

Your pastors are strange by the culture’s standards (I heard that Amen from you out there).  Between your pastors, we have 13 children–with #13 coming into the world late August (and frankly, we can’t have enough Morters in the world, can we?).  The culture says, “Marriage shouldn’t be until later–you need to live your life to the full measure before settling down.”  The terms ‘ball-and-chain’ are often used to describe your spouse–not very flattering.  When it comes to children, a Chicago writer named Linda Hirschman felt that college-educated stay-at-home moms were a detriment to society because they were wasting their time staying home and depriving the marketplace of their skill-set. 

Thus, the culture in which we live. And thus, an opportunity to convey something far, far better.

What does the Bible say about marriage and family?

1. God designed it (Genesis 1:26-31; Ephesians 5:22-24).  God designed marriage to be the way that children come into the world, by the love of a husband and wife into a home of commitment, fidelity, and accountability.  Couples are commanded by God to be fruitful and multiply. If in this fallen world that is not possible, God provides opportunities for couples to help others along in bearing fruit for Christ’s kingdom.

2. God defined it (Matthew 19:2-6). God tells us that He created marriage as that of male-and female, exclusively.  One husband, one wife, for life.  Every section of Scripture defines it thus (see especially Matthew 19:2-6).  Anything outside of God’s stated definition of marriage is sin. On this, the church must not budge.

3. God refined it (Ephesians 5:25-33):  Marriage serves as a picture of Christ wedded to the church, where Christ love His wife and gave Himself for her, and the wife submits to the headship of her Husband, Jesus Christ.  This brings a fine point to what God aims for church and for marriage.

4. God consigns it (1 Corinthians 7:2-5; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).  God entrusted marriage to us, under his mandate that the couple not be “unequally yoked.”  Believers must marry believers–for if you do not have Christ in common, and Christ is not Lord, then the ‘yoke’ that leads you will be a different size and take you on a different row to hoe.

5. God assigns it (Ephesians 6:1-4):  My assignment as a Dad? Train my children in the way of the Lord.  But now I see that the main ‘small group’ that I must disciple is not my congregation, not my Sunday School class, not my pastors or staff–they are a priority, but not the main driving priority.  I must not pass on the responsibility, nor pass it off to my kiddos’ teachers at church.  They help, but it’s my assignment from the Lord.  The main discipling group God has provided me is my family.  I’m the only husband my wife has–I’m the only Dad my kids have.  And this applies to you as well.   

I didn’t marry until I was almost 27. God knew what He was doing when He brought Cindy may way.  And never did I imagine having four children–but God knew what He was doing in giving me the children He did. 

Our hope and joy is in Christ, who not only helps us take the next steps in our family life.  What steps do you need to take?

___________________________

Matthew Perry (D.Min, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Lead Pastor at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, CO. This was originally published in our church newsletter, The Challenger for July 2014.

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Eleven Personal Goals for 2014

  1. Continue to read Scripture and pray daily.  I recently passed along some Bible reading plans.  Everyone needs to plan and be intentional.  May it be so with all of us in 2014. 
  2. Continue to date my wife frequently and in a better way. 
  3. Work through a children’s story Bible with my family.  At the beginning, I will work through The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos, and hopefully implement a Baptist Catechism based on the 1689 London Confession. 
  4. Read through two major theological works:  The Christian’s Reasonable Service by Wilhelmus a Brakel; and Doctrine for Life: A Puritan Theology, edited by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones.
  5. Continue to develop leadership abilities through reading and wise counsel from others. 
  6. Taking time daily to dream. 
  7. Outline the vision for 2014 for ARBC the first three months by preaching through Romans 12-16, finish John leading up to Easter, then begin preaching through the Book of Acts.
  8. Continue to look for opportunities to develop relationships in order to share the gospel.
  9. Helping new believers to start strong, established believers to grow in Christlikeness, and helping senior adult believers finish the race strongly.
  10. Find opportunities to invest in young pastors both here and abroad. 
  11. Continue to develop relationships with fellow pastors here in South Denver. 
  12. Obtain my black belt in Taekwondo.  (If all goes according to plan, I should obtain my black belt sometime late summer or early fall, just before my 43rd birthday.  I’m grateful to the ATA Karate Denver school for dealing well with this middle-aged, stiff-hipped fellow slogging through it all.  But God has been using this to help me keep this “temple” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) in shape for the rigors of ministry.)
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The Soul-Saving Beauty of a Thankful Heart, Part I

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(Photo courtesy of Bob Scott)

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Thanksgiving is usually about the three F’s for most of us: family, food, and football. In fact, we have some who are already gone for Thanksgiving weekend, while others may be getting ready for family to come in.

Food? I was at King Soopers yesterday, and it was packed. People had one, two, three, some four turkeys or some other kind of bird in their shopping cart—along with all the trimmings.

Football? I know some of you enjoy a game or two of football. On Thanksgiving, the NFL brings us three games: Texans-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys, and Patriots-Jets.

I submit to you that another F needs to be included in this: faith! The holiday is Thanksgiving, and many may express how thankful they are for their family, for the food, for the football, for the time off, etc. But when you have thankfulness and when you are in the faith, each of these things has an object. We can express what we are thankful for, but do we take time to express to whom we are thankful?

Thankfulness marks the Christian life—not simply for the things in the hear and now and not simply for material things. James tells us that “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change
(James 1:17). Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Corinthians 4:7)? So what we find ourselves thankful for has a whom behind it. God gave us all we have.

Even with this, some fail to recognize this. Thankful hearts that should mark a Christian can become entitled hearts: “Well, God, I know you gave me this—but that’s your job!” We can become bitter hearts: “Well, God, I know you gave me this—but I really wanted that.” We can become proud in heart like Nebuchadnezzar, who when looking over his kingdom from his monstrous palace in Babylon, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Immediately, to show who truly ruled over all men, God immediately took away Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom until He gave glory to the Most High.

What’s the basis of a thankful heart? Look with me at the thesis, if you will permit me to use that term, of the entire book of Romans is found in Romans 1:16-17:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul shares the reason for his lack of shame: the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The believers are not restricted to one group of people, but revealed to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles.
But we notice that God reveals Himself! We will see that to those who do not believe in Him, God has made himself clear in many obvious ways though there are many who are blind to this. For believers, he revealed something else: his righteousness. The righteousness that God requires for salvation is not something which we earn—it is something that God reveals and puts toward our account. This is God’s way of making us right with Him.

But what happens if even the very basics of what God revealed are smoothed over or even ignored? Taken for granted? A thankful heart is trouble and even destructive to your soul.

God reveals much—we are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

Look with me at Romans 1:18-20:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

What is the wrath of God? God’s wrath is different from human wrath. Human wrath is most unrighteous. Stott notes that this is “an irrational and uncontrollable emotion, containing much vanity, animosity, malice and the desire for revenge.”[1] What God’s wrath is toward is evil, and its hatred therein. He does not condone it, but will judge it.

So it is this wrath that is revealed. To what end? Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who … suppress the truth. So God’s wrath has a laser focus—those who suppress the truth. And this truth is ‘plain to them, because God has shown it to them.’

What is known about God? His ‘invisible attributes’ such as ‘his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived’ in creation.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).

The Psalmist shows that Creation is the calling card of God’s characteristics. All around we see this. God never intended for His nature or work to be hidden. He has given us plenty of clues.

We here in Colorado have no trouble in seeing the glory of God’s creation. The mountains are so close that many look forward to the weekend so they can spend it there. Isn’t it interesting that folks run to the mountains every chance they get, enjoying that aspect of God’s creation, yet miss him? Nicy Murphy got it right:

“Missions in Colorado is ministering to those who live in the mountain grandeur, but who never ‘lift their eyes to the hills’ to see from whence their help would come; who enjoy God’s placid lakes, tumbling streams, and majestic waterfalls, but who have never drunk of the Water of life; who shepherd the sheep on a thousand grassy hillsides, but who have never met the Good Shepherd; who reap the golden grain from the fertile plains, but who never partake of the Bread of Life.”[2]

Maybe the reason so many go to the mountains is due to their desire to connect with something bigger than themselves, to see breath-taking beauty. Yet, they do not realize that their desire to connect with something is a longing in every human heart. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says that God has placed eternity into the hearts to man. So many are so close, yet they are so far away.

Because of all that God has clearly revealed, He tells us that “we are without excuse.” There is no way that we could not ever say in any way, “God, I had no idea you were there! You kept yourself hidden.” Not so!

Humanity rejects much (Romans 1:21-23).

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The downgrade begins here. Clearly, man knew God, but the ramifications of knowing God did not jibe with the desires of their lives. Even with God revealing His invisible attributes, showing His glory in the heavens and in earth—“They did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” Here is the theme of the day: they failed to honor him or thank him. Remember, they suppressed the truth , exposing their unrighteousness. They wanted to be god over their own lives.

How well does this describe us? Do our lives express to God and the world that we wish it to be our own way? Have we decided to try to build our own lives and chart our own path, then ask God to bless? Are we using all the gifts that God has given, yet failing to thank the giver of those gifts—then wonder why our lives seem to grown emptier and emptier the more we reach our own goals?

There was a man who was a gifted football player in the 1960s and 1970s. He played running back for USC, even winning the Heisman Trophy. He was drafted #1 over all by the Buffalo Bills in 1969 and in 1973 was the first to running for over 2000 yards. He was featured in a number of commercials and movies, showing his good looks and good humor. But in 1978, he made this comment: “I thought by the time I reached all of my goals, I would find peace and happiness. But now, I am lower than ever.” God gave him some incredible gifts, but he used those gifts to bring himself glory. The man’s name is OJ Simpson. All of us kept up with the trial in the mid 1990’s and heard about the robbery in the late 2000’s. Tragic.

But this was in the spotlight of Hollywood and the media. This happens all the time. If we fail to honor God and thank him, we have darkened hearts and futile thinking privately, and thus we “exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

This phraseology, “exchanging the glory” is used elsewhere in Scripture. Turn with me to Jeremiah 2:9-13:

“Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
and with your children’s children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
or send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Even with all that God had done in delivering and taking care of His people, they still rebelled, still chased after false gods, aligned with the other nations, and forgot the One who named them, called them, delivered them, guided them, and settled them in their land. So the people of Israel exchanged the glory of their Creator for things created. This was such a calamity, that the heavens are those who are appalled, shocked, utterly desolate. Why? Because God’s people committed two evils: they forsook the living water, then tried to cut out cisterns for themselves, “broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

John Calvin noted,

“When one leaves a living fountain and seeks a cistern, it is proof of great folly; for cisterns are dry except water comes elsewhere; but a fountain has its own spring; and further, where there is a vein perpetually flowing, and a perennial stream of waters, the water is more salubrious and much better.”[3]

But this is what happens when we move away from what God has revealed to what appeals to man. Christians must beware of this. I came from a seminary whose history from the 1920s to the 1980s wanted a seat at the table of academia. They had to compromise the notion of the supernatural and miraculous, and treat the Bible as any other book. I grew up in a core area of Virginia who believed that Christians should have a seat in the area of politics, thinking this would change the direction of the church. As a result, they risked compromising the one direction of Christ as Savior in order to link with others who may have rejected them—thus putting Christ on the backburner for a cause. I knew of friends who were so involved in churches who wished to reach the culture, they compromised issues in Scripture that seemed to offend so they could reach them.

In each case, Christians on both sides of the aisle risked compromise—relying on the systems of our society to propel the kingdom of God rather than the clear revelation of God through Scripture.


[1]John R.W. Stott, Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 71.

[2]Accessed at Colorado State Missions Offering at http://coloradomissionsoffering.org.

[3]John Calvin, Jeremiah 1-19: Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume IX (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 93.

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A Weekend with my Best Friend (Who Also Happens to Be My Wife)

This past weekend, my wife and I spent the weekend at the Mountain Springs Inn in McKee, KY.  We stayed there because we won a contest that WJMM-FM put on.  We truly enjoyed it.  Here are some pictures we took on the back part of the property by the pond.

We had no cell phone signal, so it kept us from receiving calls—and removed the temptation for us to be on the phone for personal or ministry reasons.

Cindy and I have been through a good deal in our twelve years of marriage.  Married in Kentucky, we moved to Florida right after our honeymoon—the first time she had lived in any other state.  We lived in Florida for three years where I served as Minister of Music and Youth and First Baptist Church of Clewiston.  God called me back to Kentucky to finish my MDiv work at Southern Seminary.  A few months at a church in Nelson County, playing piano for five months at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, pastoring a small church in Breckinridge County (English Baptist Church) before coming to Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in 2003—we have had many, many experiences in ministry that have been painful but always profitable.

And through it all, she’s stayed by my side.

Back in May 2009, she was diagnosed with lupus.  She has had to make some significant adjustments, seeing as how lupus saps energy quickly and effectively!  But it has helped us in so many ways.  So many distractions have been cut through, and we have grown closer to one another and to the Lord in ways I never imagined otherwise.

I’m with C.J. Mahaney, who told his wife Carolyn, “You are color, and the rest of the world is black and white.”  Unlike others I know, there is no one I’d rather spend time with than my wife.  I get more pumped about date nights and times away because I know that I do not have to say goodnight and wait for the next date.

And she has brought four children into the world that light everything up!  Seeing their personalities crystallize makes me recognize how thankful I am that God put me in a position to be their father, and to lead this family as God commanded me.  I’m seeing more and more how important Dads are—and I vow to be that Dad for them.

A bad day with my wife is better than the best day with anyone else!  I’m grateful to God for Cindy.  Every day is a gift and a treasure!

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How Tim Russert’s Legacy Could Teach Expositors

As many of you are aware, Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief, died of a heart attack on June 13, 2008, at the age of 58.  

As someone who follows politics a great deal, I found myself quite saddened by this loss.  Russert brought such dignity and class to this area.  I learned a great deal from him without really being aware of it.  I would like to include some quick thoughts on Russert’s legacy that I believe could be some great lessons for expositors.

  1. Family was a priority.  His love for his dad and his son shone through.  In 1994, the Buffalo Bills (an American football team for all you internationals) had made it to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl.  They had lost the previous three, so he ended the newscast with his dad being with him and a plea to God for him to give the Bills a win.  Tom Brokaw chastised him: “Oh, you Irish Catholics… you can’t pray on TV.”  Russert just smiled.  When the Bills eventually lost 30-13, Brokaw shouted over to Russert, “I guess God’s a Southern Baptist!”  That one slice of his life showed how he loved his family and his hometown.  Russert wrote a book about his dad entitled, “Big Russ and Me” as a tribute to his dad.  Many commented that is seemed only fitting that he died on Father’s Day weekend.
  2. Preparation was a must.  To a person, his fellow journalists lauded him for his preparation.  He always had the great question as well as the great follow-up question which went to the heart of the real issue and was the real news.  I took note here.  I find it a great compliment when congregants and fellow pastrs note how prepared a preacher seems.  Nothing is a substitute for preparation.  Expositors should/must know this.  Never come before your people unless you have come before God and His Word.  It will show.
  3. Congeniality at its best.  Russert always struck me as fair in dealing with politicians from any party.  Some newscasters show their true colors.  Should we be modeling James 2:1 in how we deal with others? 

Like I said, just a short word.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to Tim’s family and to the news division at NBC News.  The presidential election coverage will not be the same. 

 

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Being a Titus 2 Woman (Introduction)

(This sermon was preached on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.  To listen to the entire sermon, click here.  To listen to other sermons, click on http://www.matt-perry.net/sermons.)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).

Those of you who are around me anytime at all realize my love for the country of Trinidad & Tobago. My heart aches especially for the pastors down there who have very little training on how to minister to their people and what training they do have comes from some very problematic sources.

What I noticed at the church at Mt. Beulah where we ministered previously was a row of elderly women who sat in very special seats up front. At first, I just thought it was how they were arranged, but then I noticed that for each of those women, Roddie Taylor addressed them as “Mother.” “Mother Jones, Mother Taylor, etc.” At the church in Siparia, these women sat in more prominent seats: right up next to the stairs. These women were the seasoned saints of the church who had poured their lives into that church for decades. They held a place of honor and influence for the things of God.

Although it’s been 18 months since I’ve been there, this fact ran across my mind given that Mother’s Day was approaching. I confess that I really debated on what to preach. While many may look on this day with much affection, for some this day is more difficult that one could realize for many different reasons.

I would like to use this day as an opportunity to address another difficulty that many churches deal with: what role do women play in the church? In a country where women have only been able to vote only since 1920, in a country where many TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s portrayed women as bubbleheaded ditzes, in a culture where the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s moved the long-established cultural lines of role of men and women— the churches came along and reacted one of two ways. One way was to go along with the culture and move the lines of the role of genders where the culture did. Another way was to overreact and move the lines even further than what was before. As a result, whether the churches were liberal or fundamentalist, the lines were ones that suited them but weren’t necessarily what the Bible spoke on.

My desire is that every single woman in this church would be a Titus 2 Woman. A Titus 2 Woman embraces the role God has established that complements other areas of life and ministry in the church. Also, a Titus 2 Woman takes time to invest not just in its own generation but in the generations that have gone before as well as the ones coming up. A Titus 2 Woman is not ashamed of God nor His Word. So let’s see what God has in store for us this morning.

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