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Faith

When wind fills the sails,Sea-ship-at-sunset

the ship moves swiftly and easily forward.

When a storm arrives and batters the ship,

You must bail water to keep it from sinking

And when the sea is calm but the wind is still

You must row with all your strength to press forward on your journey.

So it is with faith.

Sometimes your faith is carried along by the wind of joy.

Sometimes tragedy strikes, and you must fight for faith that God is good.

And sometimes nothing is wrong, except a hope deferred, and in those times you must use all your strength to steer your faith and push it forward.

The Lord is the author of the wind, the storm, and the strength to row. He delights in granting us joy, of strengthening our faith, and producing endurance.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

leemanIt was fifteen minutes before our Sunday night Bible study, and I was engrossed in a book. I didn’t want to put it down, but I knew its author wanted me to put it down (and go to church).

It was Jonathan Leeman’s Church Membership.

When I got home from church I kept reading. At one point I looked ahead to see when chapter two started, but the next heading was for chapter five. How did I miss three chapter headings?! I thought to myself. The book gripped me. It was quenching a long-standing thirst.

My mind wandered to a dinner conversation I had with Jonathan Leeman many years before this book was released.  His wife and my older sister were good friends in college. They were at our home for dinner one night when he turned to me and asked what I thought about my church. I remember in that moment a desire to be transparent with him. The truth was I didn’t like my church. I was a young teenager then, and my father was the pastor.  I knew my father was discouraged, and I was angry. I was discontent with my church and wanted my whole family to pack up and leave. Needless to say I was insecure in answering his question.

Later Jesus would convict me of my sin. I knew I must love his church if I was to love him.  But how? I was unsure how to be a content and faithful church member. I prayed that Jesus would help me love my church.

Return with me to this Sunday night. I had wandered into the resource center and was torn between borrowing a book by John Owen and Leeman’s Church Membership. I put Owen down and picked up the little blue book.

Not everyone is a p.k. who has been confused how to love the church and view them like family.  But now, years after asking me that profound question, Jonathan Leeman is teaching me how to answer it, with a new understanding of the local church.

“Beloved, it is not office, it is earnestness; it is not position, it is grace that will enable us to glorify God.a cobbler

God is most surely glorified in that cobbler’s stall, where the godly worker, as he plies the awl, sings of the Savior’s love. The name of Jesus is glorified by the poor, unlearned carter as he drives his horse and blesses his God or speaks to his fellow laborer by the roadside, as much as by the popular divine who throughout the country is thundering out the gospel.

God is glorified by our serving Him in our proper vocations. Take care that you do not forsake the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonor your profession while in it.

Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings.

Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the gospel to noblest ends. Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labor connected either with most daring deeds of faith or with persons whose lives have been illustrious for holiness. Therefore be not discontented with your calling. Whatever God has made your position or your work, abide in that unless you are quite sure that He calls you to something else. Let your first care be to glorify God to the utmost of your power where you are. Fill you present sphere to His praise, and if He needs you in another, He will show it to you.

Lay aside vexatious ambition and embrace peaceful content.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Plan to Reboot Dating” challenges the hook-up culture, ultimately dismissing casual sex while maintaining non-marital intimacy.

Emily Esfahani Smith goes up against Hanna Rosin and her 2012 article “Boys on the Side,” which argues that “The hookup culture is too bound up with everything that’s fabulous about being a young woman in 2012– the freedom, the confidence, the knowledge that you can always depend on yourself.” Smith counters: “As a young woman in 2012– and as a feminist– I think that the hook-up culture has the opposite effect as that described by Rosin.” Smith cites studies showing that “91% of women experience regret,” and “students who have casual sex experience more physical and mental health problems,” launching into a host of them, “than those who are in committed long-term relationships.”

Smith’s solution? First she states what the solution is not.

“This isn’t to say that early marriage or abstinence is the solution.” She goes on: “Is it possible to move beyond the hook-up culture? Not back to the 1950s-style courtship, parietal rules, and early marriage– but forward, to sex founded on friendship, dating, and relationships?”

(I’m confident that the 1950s is not when courting, rules, or early marriage originated or even became en vogue.)

Then she states what she thinks it is:

“There is a middle way: meaningful sex in the context of a non-marital relationship.”

To her credit, she’s transparent: “the solution is a dating culture, which still allows women to delay marriage and pursue their careers, and also lets them have those intimate relationships with men that they don’t want to delay.”

(I can’t imagine why marriage hinders a career and a relationship does not.)

She even quotes Immanuel Kant to complete her indictment of the hookup culture: “taken by itself…[sex] is a degradation of human nature.”

We all three agree.

But taken with ________, sex is beautiful.

What? Smith says non-marital relationships.

Smith explains that women are able to achieve this because they “hold the power when it comes to sex,” her proof being Lysistrata in Aristophanes. In the Greek play, Lysistrata ends the Peloponnesian War by convincing the women to stop having sex with their husbands until the men quit fighting.

Smith is right that casual sex leads to innumerable problems. But let’s discuss what led to casual sex. The solution for which Smith is arguing was actually the culprit. Non-marital sexual relationships led to casual sex.

Let’s also not forget that women didn’t set out for casual sex. They regrettably found themselves in the midst of it. Women have always desired intimacy within the context of a relationship. But the fact of the matter is when you set out for intimacy with a beloved while abandoning the marriage covenant, casual sex is the result.

Furthermore, freedom does not require dodging the marriage covenant. Covenants and contracts exist among employers, government, athletes, actors, and church members.  Human nature flourishes under freely made covenants instead of flighty pursuits of daily passions.

Smith praises non-marital intimacy – as long as it is within a relationship.  (I would push her to tell me why she believes a relationship is necessary.) However, women must place sex within the marriage covenant, or casual sex will remain rampant. The reason people squirm out of contracts to begin with is to hedge their bets. But Smith reveals women don’t want a one-night stand; they want a committed lover.

I know but little, yet enough to recognize an evil in my land over which many grieve. Over two hundred years ago, our fathers fought a war to birth a country with freedom. More than a hundred years ago, their sons fought again, for the preservation of that same country and for “a new birth of freedom” as Abraham Lincoln called it. Both were victorious; indeed America has never waged war against oppression and lost.
Today, my heart is stirred along with many Americans that we live amongst the permission and protection of the greatest enemy freedom has ever known: the suppression of life itself.
Life predicates liberty, and today we cut off both for millions of unborn, the very same children our forefathers died for.

We wonder at the injustice of slavery in this country. We are right to wonder. But what will our children say when they understand the institution of abortion among us today? God forbid it lead them to forget that Americans give their own lives for life and liberty; they do not sacrifice another.
Ought we now to tremble at our wrong, as we did 150 years ago, and to again “let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6) For indeed this is the purpose of the God who made all men equal.

Our fathers petitioned for a birth of freedom, and their children for a new birth of freedom. We, their children, also ask for a new birth of freedom, or rather a new birth for freedom. Does not every generation require this? I ask you not to deny it.

 

Do you know how a treasure chest begins?

 

Sometimes it begins as a nice wooden box inherited from your great grandmother, but sometimes it starts suddenly– and subtly– when you need a place to put the touching letter you received in the mail. Then it is only natural to place the heartwarming picture you just found alongside the letter. Then when a child draws a picture for you, there isn’t any sense to put that anywhere else. Another letter, another picture, and soon this gap between two books, or the nook in your top drawer now holds your most precious memories.

The biblical counseling courses at Boyce college have been the most influential moments of my college years. Below are twenty lessons from Dr. Lambert that have deeply shaped me. I could tell you the class and the room in which many of these truths took root in my heart. I am thankful to Jesus for Boyce’s lasting impact on so many students. I’m floored at the grace of Christ that these are the truths taught at this school!

So without further ado….

20 lessons from being a biblical counseling major at Boyce College

1) P (5) – Push past platitudes to practical particulars (Be practical or unhelpful).

2) The end of counseling should be marked by thankfulness.

3) Engage suffering before sin.

4) Give hope!

5) Biblical counseling without repentance is just regular old counseling.

6) Where is Jesus in your counseling?

7) Humility is the grease that keeps the gears of relationships turning.

8) If there is tension in a relationship look for sin.

9) Forgiveness is a promise not to remember sin except in a redemptive way.

10) Your purpose in your affliction must be to please Jesus.

11) Pray Scripture!

12) Put off/Put on

13) USE THE BIBLE! (so be saturated in it)

14) Radical amputation (for aggressive repentance)

15) Really listen and really care about counselees (most people don’t).

16) Grace empowers obedience.

17) Personal holiness is essential for fruitful ministry.

18) You must ask Jesus for grace to obey, and you receive grace in the doing.

19) You might be wrong in your evaluation of the counselee. Don’t be dogmatic.

20) Give homework that is going to help the counselee encounter Jesus.

One more – Don’t just apologize. Ask for forgiveness, and let it be a time of restoration instead of shame.

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