Monthly Archives: December 2010

Carson: The God Who Is There

In this series, Carson traces the biblical story-line in an engaging and easy-to-understand format.  Click on the picture to access the audio/video of the Carson lectures that were encapsulated in the following book.

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Filed under Biblical Theology, D.A. Carson

Piper: Love Her More and Love Her Less

Love Her More and Love Her Less

The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: “A man shall leave
His father and his mother, cleave
Henceforth unto his wife, and be
One unashaméd flesh and free.”
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we’ve cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name.

And now you ask that I should write
A poem – a risky thing, in light
Of what you know: that I am more
The preacher than the poet or
The artist. I am honored by
Your bravery, and I comply.
I do not grudge these sweet confines
Of rhyming pairs and metered lines.
They are old friends. They like it when
I bid them help me once again
To gather feelings into form
And keep them durable and warm.

And so we met in recent days,
And made the flood of love and praise
And counsel from a father’s heart
To flow within the banks of art.
Here is a portion of the stream,
My son: a sermon poem. It’s theme:
A double rule of love that shocks;
A doctrine in a paradox:

If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.

If in the coming years, by some
Strange providence of God, you come
To have the riches of this age,
And, painless, stride across the stage
Beside your wife, be sure in health
To love her, love her more than wealth.

And if your life is woven in
A hundred friendships, and you spin
A festal fabric out of all
Your sweet affections, great and small,
Be sure, no matter how it rends,
To love her, love her more than friends.

And if there comes a point when you
Are tired, and pity whispers, “Do
Yourself a favor. Come, be free;
Embrace the comforts here with me.”
Know this! Your wife surpasses these:
So love her, love her, more than ease.

And when your marriage bed is pure,
And there is not the slightest lure
Of lust for any but your wife,
And all is ecstasy in life,
A secret all of this protects:
Go love her, love her, more than sex.

And if your taste becomes refined,
And you are moved by what the mind
Of man can make, and dazzled by
His craft, remember that the “why”
Of all this work is in the heart;
So love her, love her more than art.

And if your own should someday be
The craft that critics all agree
Is worthy of a great esteem,
And sales exceed your wildest dream,
Beware the dangers of a name.
And love her, love her more than fame.

And if, to your surprise, not mine,
God calls you by some strange design
To risk your life for some great cause,
Let neither fear nor love give pause,
And when you face the gate of death,
Then love her, love her more than breath.

Yes, love her, love her, more than life;
O, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.

Beyond this venture not. But, lest
Your love become a fool’s facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.

It is not wise or kind to call
An idol by sweet names, and fall,
As in humility, before
A likeness of your God. Adore
Above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
That your great love is also grace,
And that your high affections now
Are flowing freely from a vow
Beneath these promises, first made
To you by God. Nor will they fade
For being rooted by the stream
Of Heaven’s Joy, which you esteem
And cherish more than breath and life,
That you may give it to your wife.

The greatest gift you give your wife
Is loving God above her life.
And thus I bid you now to bless:
Go love her more by loving less.

For Karsten Luke Piper At His Wedding to
Rochelle Ann Orvis May 29, 1995

HT: Desiring God

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

 

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Relationships

Ordo Amoris and the Love of God

In 2008, I attended a summer camp event hosted by my local church. The topic for the week, around which all teaching and discussion were centered, was the supreme goodness of God as described in Psalm 34. While I learned quite a bit during my time there, one of the most valuable “take-home” lessons of the week came  from Saint Augustine, a favorite church father of our speaker, Perry Garrett.

Perry outlined for us Augustine’s philosophy of ordo amoris, or “the order of loves.” This idea, which is expressed most clearly in Augustine’s The City of God, refers to a divinely ordained hierarchy of human loves and pleasures. God sits at the pinnacle as the primary object of human satisfaction, and the single pleasure that is able to provide fulfillment proportionate to and beyond our  my desire for it.

In 1 Timothy 4:4, Paul writes, “everything created by God is good.” One of God’s blessings to His creatures is that He has ordained all things for our use, benefit, and enjoyment. Money, sex, food, and other people are good gifts, but they were not designed to provide our lives with ultimate meaning. Ironically, our capacity to enjoy these things properly actually rests on whether or not God is central in our affections. Whatever we exalt above our Creator can only enslave us. As C.S. Lewis poignantly expressed in his treatise The Four Loves, anything other than God, “having become a god, becomes a demon.” Inordinate desire is never met in full; it is born of sin binds us to sin.   

Once God is seated in his rightful place in our affections, our love for Him will sanctify our hearts and passions, leading us to value the things of this world appropriately. We will view God’s gifts not as ends in themselves, but as rays of light that draw our eyes up to the great and glorious Source of all that is good, of whom all earthly joys are mere shadows. God’s status as chief of our desires is not arbitrary; in 2008 I came to understand that He is in fact worthy of all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. His excellencies far outweigh, and His glories far outshine, all else that is offered. As Augustine prayed at the opening of his Confessions, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

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Filed under Augustine, Love, Smith

A Glimpse of Grace

John Calvin:

“When God beholds his image in us He does that not by looking at that which He has put into us by nature, but at that which He has put into us by grace.”                             (Sermon on Job 10:7-8)

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Filed under John Calvin, Sanctification

Expressing Gospel Love in Marriage

God’s love toward us is expressed in His grace that saves, sanctifies, and provides security to us. In part, marriage is an extension of God’s grace toward another sinner, an imperfect human being created in His image and hopefully, saved by His grace. Mark Driscoll, in his own rugged-style, preached a sermon on biblical manhood in reference to marriage and dating. Here’s a brief overview that’s worth reading: How to Honor Your Wife. This particular quote from Driscoll’s article stood out to me: “Gentlemen, it is a terrifying thing for a woman to trust a sinful man.”  What a reminder for the need of God’s grace in our relationships since everyone involved is a sinner. Paul David Tripp in his book What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage provides a similar, though not as raw, encouragement to live out the gospel in human relationships.  Here’s a helpful list that captures the essence of biblical love as expressed in the context of marriage: What is Biblical Love? These two “articles” are worth reading for any who are married, hope to be married, or simply desire to reflect God’s grace in their various relationships.

 

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Purity & Integrity, Relationships, Serving, Tribbett

The Lord Humbles Those He Loves

A Broken Staff, A Broken Heart, and A Broken Man

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor of the early 19th century, was known eminently for his personal holiness. His lifestyle so clearly matched the message that he preached that his congregation was known to sometimes begin sobbing before he ever entered the pulpit. They deeply loved their pastor and were much affected by his gospel preaching since they knew that he greatly loved Christ, as well as them.  His love for Christ can be seen in this instruction he gave his congregation: “For every look at self, take ten looks [nay, a thousand looks] at Christ.”  His reputation for holiness and his influence was so widespread that he effected the spiritual revival of numerous individuals.  He was credited by other contemporaries as having “left an indelible influence upon Scotland.”

According to Andrew Bonar, a fellow pastor, M’Cheyne’s preaching was, in large measure, the primary means by which the Holy Spirit stirred up the grace of God in Scotland.  His renowned holiness seemed to be a catalyst used by the Holy Spirit to initiate the Great Scottish Revival and compel a number of other young men into ministry. Often after preaching, M’Cheyne would kneel privately as though he were taking the crown off of his head in order to humbly lay it at the feet of the King to whom it rightly belonged. Such a gesture demonstrated his pursuit of pride-crushing humility. At other times, the Lord had to humble him through hardship. M’Cheyne struggled much with poor health and eventually died at the age of 29, partly because of poor health and mostly due to unrelenting labor for the cause of Christ. While he may have ridden his body too hard, he made it to the finish line and was used by God to spur others on in running after the same Prize.

In his diary (March 20, 1832), he wrote the following entry regarding a measure of dark providence. While we do not know the exact circumstance, it seems to have been a great disappointment which the Lord used to humble and refine him. The measure of heart-break must have been significant. He had apparently put his trust in something other than the Lord, and like all things, it had proven inadequate for bearing the weight of such a burden. Nothing built “of man” can bear the burden that should only be laid upon the Lord.

March 20, 1832: “Leaning on a staff of my own devising, it betrayed me and broke under me. It was not Thy staff. Resolving to be a god Thou shewdest me that I was but a man.  But my own staff being broken, why may I not lay hold of Thine?” [1]

As Jonathan Edwards had observed in Charity and Its Fruits, “Longsuffering produces humility.”  So does heartache and disappointment. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Waiting patiently upon the Lord reveals a dependence upon His love and providence. It is never easy, but it is always good. The Lord broke the “staff of [M’Cheyne’s] own making” so that he might fully and finally lean on Christ. In doing so, He provided what M’Cheyne needed even though it wasn’t at first what he wanted. How sweet and gracious is the God we serve, that He is willing to crush our idols in order to strengthen and sustain us. Such pruning leads to bearing holiness, the sweet fruit ripened by hardship. Even behind His “frowning providence, there is a hidden smile.” Praise God that He doesn’t leave us as we are, leaning upon our own weak and crooked staff, when His is strong for holding and straight for guiding. We are truly blessed beyond anything that we could ask or imagine.

Lord, my heart is Yours… may You break my staff a thousand times, if that’s what it takes to make me lean on You. Thank you for loving me enough to break my heart in order to make it whole, and wholly Yours.

__________

[1] Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth).

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Filed under Brokenness, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, Tribbett