Holy Week: in Context

holy week

Last year, Crossway published a series of short videos – one for each day of Holy Week, the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. The videos are extremely helpful in understanding the biblical, historical, cultural and theological context surrounding each day of this intense week of Jesus’ life. Understanding the context to these important events helps breath life into the narrative. Subsequently, we are then able to apply to our own lives the theological weight of Holy Week.

I’d encourage you to watch one per day throughout your week as you acknowledge and remember Holy Week. If you’re a couple videos behind – don’t be discouraged. They are short and I promise you won’t want to stop.

PALM SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

MAUNDY THURSDAY

GOOD FRIDAY

SATURDAY

RESURRECTION SUNDAY // EASTER

What Should Christians Think About Sex?

sex

There is one topic of conversation, particularly, that gets Christians acting awkward: sex. Largely, there has been little to no conversations about sex within the church. Subsequently, Christians tend to not really know what to do with it.

There are 3 basic views of sex in our culture today.

 

SEX AS GOD

Sex, for some, has become a religion. By that, I mean sex gives them their identity, their purpose, and their motivation in life. All of who they are is influenced by their sexuality. Everything they do is centered on hunting for those they are attracted to, so that they might have the opportunity to have sex. This person’s life is dominated and ruled by their sexual passions and desire to have sex. When they are unable to physically get sex, they turn to media via their television, dvd’s, cell phones, and tablets.

It’s called, selfish sexuality. The goal for this person is to please themselves by means of sex. Sex rules their life, like a god. Romans 1 talks about how, at that time, even though the people knew that God existed, ruled and reigned over all, they chose to worship what He created instead of Him, the creator. This is still a war that we are battling to this day.

Here are some interesting statistics from Pornography Statistics: Annual Report 2014 by Covenant Eyes. In addition, I would encourage every adult, especially parents, to at least briefly look at these statistics to better prepare your kids.

 

SEX AS GROSS

For others, sex is gross, dirty and evil. This school of thought is rooted all the way back in ancient Greek Philosophy from guys like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They would say that the physical is bad and that the spiritual is good. Therefore, the body is bad, but the soul is good. Consequently, for them life was just the process of shedding the outer shell (i.e. the body).

So, for them, sex or any type of bodily function was a gross, dirty and evil because it’s association with the physical body. And, believe it or not, this had an vast influence on the early church fathers.

  • Origen (3rd) allegorized the Song of Songs in order to take away the physical implications and castrated himself from a literal view of Matthew 19, “If anything causes you to stumble, cut it off.”
  • Tertulian and Ambrose (4th) preferred extinction to the human race over sexuality.
  • Gregory of Nissa (4th) said that Adam and Eve did not have sex until after the fall and adds that Eve became pregnant from a particular fruit that she ate in the garden.
  • Jerome (4th-5th) threw himself into thorn bushes whenever he would be tempted sexually.
  • At one point then (12th), the Catholic Church forbids priests from marrying and then begins regulating when and where married couples can enjoy sexual freedom.
  • In the Victorian Age (19th), there was an extreme modest view where they would begin to put linens over tables because if men saw the “table legs” they might lust.

While these may seem somewhat odd and extreme, it continues to our own day where for some Christians sex for good pleasure is gross. Various parents, in an effort to encourage their kids to abstain from sex, tell them that “sex is bad, dirty, and not good, so save it for the one person that you marry.” That’s just a weird statement in itself…save the bad and dirty for the one you actually love…

While sex rules over many, it is not God. In addition, sex is not gross. It can be gross, dirty and evil when used out of its intended purpose.

SEX AS A GIFT

For all, God says that sex is a good gift created and given for heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Here are several thoughts on a biblical perspective and purpose of sex.

Pleasure – when we investigate the Song of Songs, children are never mentioned once. The whole book focuses on the marital intimacy between a man and a woman.

Children – Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply.” So, out of marital intimacy comes children. Many children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:4).

Oneness – Genesis 2:24 – husband and wife were “one flesh” or “wife will “cleave”. So, through marital intimacy two “become one.”

Comfort – 2 Samuel 12:24 – when a child died a husband and wife were together intimately to comfort one another.

Protection – 1 Cor. 7 – You’ll be highly tempted to sin sexually if you’re not regularly together in an intimate way. So marital intimacy is a safeguard from sinning sexually.

To glorify God – God created our bodies for all of these reasons and when you do those things in the correct context it brings glory to Him. Therefore, marital intimacy brings glory to God in that we are functioning in the purpose for which He intended.

Lastly, here are some other helpful resources for you to enjoy and grow:

A Few Thoughts on Women, Men, Porn, & Sexual Assault by Jefferson Bethke

 

Family, Marriage, Sex, & the Gospel by David Platt

The Doctrine of the Trinity, part 1

trinity

Jokingly, I am known as the “resident theologian” at a local men’s ministry meeting. In that, I was asked to speak and teach on the doctrine of the Trinity, which is beyond any human mind.

The great church father, St. Augustine, said, “If you try to explain it [the Trinity] you’ll loose your mind. If you deny it [the Trinity] you’ll loose your soul.”

Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is an inexhaustible conversation. With that said, the Bible is clear in 4 different areas concerning the Trinity.

 

Four Essential Affirmations

The biblical teaching on the Trinity embodies four essential affirmations:

  1. There is one and only one true and living God.
  2. This one God eternally exists in three persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  3. These three persons are completely equal in attributes, each with the same divine nature.
  4. While each person is fully and completely God, the persons are not identical.

The differences among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are found in the way they relate to one another and the role each plays in accomplishing their unified purpose. The unity of nature and distinction of persons of the Trinity is helpfully illustrated in the diagram above.

 

To be continued…

Lent Is Not Just a “Catholic Thing”

lent

No, Lent is not just for the Catholics. Lent can actually have a great impact on a person’s “walk with Jesus” if it is understood correctly from a theological perspective. Yes, just like anything else, Lent can be and has been abused and sometimes even made into a dead routine for some. With that said, the season of Lent can also be incredibly helpful for Christians who choose to participate in a meaningful, Gospel centered, God glorifying way.

As a preface, let me say that I am not saying that participating in Lent is something that all Christians should do. Acknowledging and participating in the season of Lent does NOT make one more or less spiritual. It is simply another tool that should be considered around this time of the year.

Just a few thoughts on Lent.

1. Reminds us of our mortality. The season on Lent is a great way to remind the Christian of his or her mortality. It’s a sobering thought. The season of Lent kicks off every year with a type of a worship service known as Ash Wednesday and culminates on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday. Typically, at an Ash Wednesday service there will be a time where the participants are asked to come forward only for the pastor to dip his finger in oil and ashes and then swipe an ash mark (sometimes in the resemblance of a cross) on the person’s forehead. While the pastor puts the ashes on the person’s head, he will say something of this nature – “From dust you were created and to dust you will return.” The person normally wear’s this black smudge throughout their day. It is a picture of our mortality. It is a reminder to be more intentional with every move we make in this life. It is a reminder to love now. It is a reminder to listen now. It is a reminder to follow Jesus NOW, not later. Remember your mortality.

2. Helps us to create a new habit. During the season of Lent, one is encouraged to “give something up” for Lent. In other words, the Christian is to choose one thing that is a staple in their everyday life to “give up” in order to point them to Jesus. For example, for me it could be coffee or social media. The thought is that anytime my mind and body gravitate towards one of those items I am to refocus that energy onto Christ through prayer, reading the Bible, or just thinking about His grace in general. You can make it whatever you want. That’s the good thing. This is not some Bible ordained rule for Christians. It is a tool that is available to use if one chooses. With that said, the season of Lent is a great time to create new habits. Do you have trouble finding Bible time? Prayer time? Jesus time? Give up something for Lent and give those moments to Jesus. After 40 days, which is the length of the season of lent, you will have created a new habit. Create a new habit of intentional worship this year.

3. It can be a great witnessing tool. I remember as a teenager working at Einstein Bagels (a local bagelry in Tampa, FL) when people would walk in every year with a dark mark of ashes on their heads. I’d laugh. I’d poke fun. I thought they were weird. The first time I encountered the big black dot I felt bad for the girl and politely told her she needed to wipe her forehead off. That’s when she explained to me that the smudge was intentional. My thought is that someone more mature probably asked that same girl throughout her day what the purpose was. For her, and any other Christian who participates, this could be a great way to ask God to open doors to talk to people about their mortality and whether they have a relationship with Jesus.

4. It teaches us to more easily forgive. The fact is that the first time you choose to participate in the season of Lent, you will fail. You won’t be able to go a whole 40 days straight without social media, coffee, sweets, carbs, or whatever it is that you choose. The point is to choose a staple in your everyday flow of life. So, don’t choose donuts if you don’t eat donuts. When you and I fail it can be a great teacher for us to more easily forgive others when they fail to live up to our expectations of them. It helps us not to elevate our faithfulness over another and gives us the perspective that we all fall short and that Jesus never falls short.

5. Ultimately, it’s all about Jesus. When we are reminded of our mortality, we are pointed to Jesus’ eternality. When we are reminded of our imperfect nature that tends to fail often, we are pointed to Jesus perfect nature that never fails. When we are reminded of our inability to follow through, we are pointed to Jesus and His finished work on the cross on our behalf. It’s not about us, but it is all about Jesus.

6. It can be a great way to lead your family in devotion. Take the season of Lent to walk through with your spouse and/or kids a time of devotion every evening (or weekly). Give up 30 minutes of television for a family devo time.

Another Helpful Resource on Lent:

 10 Ideas for Keeping Lent

Santa?

santa-claus3

Several times a year major cultural norms jolt many Christians , particularly parents, into a frenzy. One of those times is the Christmas season. Jesus is the “reason for the season,” right? So, “What do we tell our kids about Santa?”

 

I think that the answer to that question is going to be different for different family contexts. Therefore, I am just wanting to give you some helpful resources that are my favorites as you consider what you will tell your kids about Santa and how to do Christmas as a Christian.

 

1. What We Tell Our Kids About Santa   by Mark Driscoll

2. Santa, Strategically   by Jen Wilkin

3. Marley and His Message to Scrooge   by R.C. Sproul

4. What Are We to Do With Santa? by Bruce Frank

 

Also, here is a helpful link on the dangers of taking part in the Santa tradition from a non-dogmatic viewpoint.

 

1. Thinking About Santa by Noel Piper

 

God’s best for you this Christmas!

What Will You Do With HALLOWEEN?

halloween

Whatever you do on this day, don’t go against your personal convictions and conscience. Here are 15 random things to consider if you’re still trying to decide what to do with Halloween.

1. Be a Missionary – Become all things to all men, so that some might be saved.

2. Connect with people that you might otherwise never connect with by them coming to your door or your church

3. Teach you kids about the historical theory of Halloween along with how Christ redeems stuff like this, including our hearts

4. Serve your city by donating candy or buying costumes for families that can’t afford them

5. Throw a party with good food and drinks

6. Have some hotdogs and a cold drink for families that come by to pick up candy

7. Set up a table with free Gospel-Centered books to give out for free instead of candy

8. Offer to pray for those who God sends your way (don’t be weird about it)

9. Just have fun with your kids

10. Use it as a way to help encourage your kids imagination for dressing up

11. Be considerate

12. Be safe

13. Use it as an opportunity to talk about Reformation Day

14. Focus your teaching (e.g. small group, sermon series, Sunday school, family devotions, personal devotion) on the reformation and the doctrines of grace.

15. Pray

Other Great Articles on Halloween:

6 Tips for Halloween

12 Simple Ways to Be On Mission This Halloween

3 Tips For Discipling Your Kids On Halloween

Pat Robertson Calls Halloween Satan’s Night

Schools Cancel Halloween

BEARDS: 14 Interesting Facts About Beards And Historical Christianity

BEARDS_blog

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This is the first of 14 interesting facts about beards and historical Christianity. My desire is not to promote beards in any way. These are just facts that I found interesting in light of the current beard trends, particularly within reformed camps.

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Clement of Alexandria calls the beard “the mark of a man [and]… therefore unholy to desecrate” them (195 AD). Other church fathers made similar remarks, but most early pastors shaved or kept their beards closely trimmed.

 

Whether or not you are a Bearded Gospel Man or want to be or do not care, the Scriptures to give us a similar word. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul reminds his readers, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

The truth is that the mark of a man is the way that he is living his life and therefore unholy to desecrate his body. Because our body is the temple of the living God, the Holy Spirit, when we choose to partake in things that desecrate our body it is unholy.

 

So, whether you grow a beard or not, watch your heart and body with all vigilance.