No Children (Part 2) – The Bad News & Good News

Infertility-featured

In my last blog post I desired to encourage the men out there who may be a co-struggler in the burden for childlessness. At that point in my life, it seemed like all the treatments weren’t getting any where. Well, last week our medical providers advised that we stop treatments, and that we try something different. Before I get to that part, I think it is pertinent to share how the news impacted me.

The Bad News

At first, I didn’t think anything of it. At some point, you just get numb to disappointment and you sort of expect it. But then, as my day progressed, there were moments where I was deeply saddened. At work, my expression of grief was limited. Also, when I got home, it just seemed like my wife and I were a bit too busy to express our feelings about the whole thing. Privately though, I cried out to God. And my wife and I eventually talked, but I wondered if this is it? Was this the end of the road? Thankfully, it still isn’t. But it didn’t take away from the sting that there is a possibility that we won’t have biological children. But here is some good news.

A Baby Girl

Since I last wrote my article, we have been blessed with a beautiful foster child. She has been a delight to have in our home, and she is a stark reminder that we should expect God to bless us often, but not in a way we would often expect. She came right on the heels of a season of discouragement. And the funny thing is, we were actually praying that God would give us a baby girl! Since this little one has been delivered into our care, she has allowed us to express love and nurturing that we desire to express for our own biological children. So that’s one praiseworthy providence of God.

Untraditional IVF*

Another good thing is that our doctor revealed to us some alternate means that might suit our convictions to have children. He first asked if we were willing to do traditional IVF?* We expressed our disagreement to fertilizing eggs with left over embryos possibly being killed. Thankfully, he understood. I don’t know if he was a believer, but he was very accommodating. Hard to find these days. Nevertheless, he told us about a newer method of IVF that would basically freeze a certain amount of unfertilized eggs, and when we are ready, we can get them fertilized in a lab and implanted that day. We don’t have all the details yet, but I remember the doctor letting us know that this could be a cheaper option than traditional IVF. And we don’t have to compromise our convictions! We’re still looking at thousands to spend, but we know that if this is a possibility, God’s providence will make a way. If not, we will remain content with His will for us.

Embryo Adoption

But there is one more option I’d like to share that perhaps not many know about. This one can be a little different from what people are used to, but embryo adoption is an alternative that has been catching attention. Basically, it is adopting a fertilized egg(s) and having them implanted in the womb. In essence, as you would adopt a born child, you are doing so for a little one that you can carry in the womb. I know, it sounds strange. When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Nevertheless, a child is possibly rescued from being destroyed in a lab. This is indeed a testimony of how far we have come in our scientific endeavors that this is even a possibility. But if your conscience is not at all clear or informed about this, or any other alternative, I would not suggest embracing it until you have solidified your convictions on it.

Why Me?

As we continue to plod along after 14 years of waiting to birth our own children, it makes me wonder how many other Christian men are finding it hard to trust the LORD in this kind of trial. It is expected for women to experience grief and sorrow over fertility, but I won’t make the mistake to think that men don’t process this issue in any way. Whether it is the sorrow we feel vicariously through our spouse, or how we ourselves feel (or both), it is my prayer that we men will hunt down contentment in Christ. I know what it is like sitting in a church pew, on your couch, or wherever you may be to yourself and your thoughts, thinking about why *I* have to be the one? Why my wife? Why me? And this is not an easy question. But if we have given eternal life, and we know Christ, we have been given the greatest gift we will ever receive.

The Good News

Christ is a great comforter and High Priest who sympathizes with our weakness and human frailty (Hebrews 4:26). He knows we are burdened and saddened by this. He has been there in every doctor’s appointment, in every miscarriage, in every negative pregnancy test, and has been extremely gracious and faithful to provide encouragement and blessings that we needed (not wanted) whenever the time came. So while I understand the discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and sometimes anger, we can feel inside as men about all of this. Remember that God has been infinitely gracious and loving toward you through His gospel, and your salvation. He has been gracious, and will continue to be gracious by giving you more than you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and giving you far less than what your iniquity deserves (Psalm 103:10). This is our hope – Jesus Christ. He is the anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:9), and the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Trust him even when you’re disillusioned. Through the pain of childlessness do not let any root of bitterness take hold upon your soul (Hebrews 12:15). God has promised to fulfill His will and glorify Himself using you. Yes, even in this. And as men, we don’t have to necessarily “man up” by sucking it up or pretending it to be numb to it. But by embracing God’s will and leading our wives, and perhaps other brothers and sisters, in prayer and faith to trust God’s sovereignty.

Grieve if you need to. Call out in bewilderment to God, and truly express your grief through your own heart’s psalm. But while you do it, remember God’s goodness toward you. Don’t ever forget it. While the lashing whip of childlessness cracks against your soul, I pray the truth of the gospel and the healing balm of the Spirit will forever be your great and marvelous consolation.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

– Until we go home

 

*(In Vitro Fertilization – this is where number of eggs are fertilized,  and then a certain amount are implanted in the womb. Meanwhile, the rest are frozen or eliminated later on).

** For more information on embryo adoption, you can go here.

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Why Getting Caught Watching Porn Is The Best Thing That Can Happen.

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Let’s face it, pornography is a shameful thing. Most men know it (and women too). But no matter how many times you ask God for forgiveness, and vow never to do it again, you fail again. And one of the reasons why it perpetuates itself in your life is because it is a secret struggle. That’s right. Secret. Most people in your church, at your job, and even in your home don’t know this is sinful problem in your life. And, it is hard for you to talk about it because, well, it’s shameful. You know its wrong. You hate it when you watch it. You feel guilty often for watching it. But guess what? Since no one knows about it, you continue the battle on your own, thinking you can defeat this monumental beast by yourself! And when you do talk about it with others, it is usually spoken about in cryptic form where you kind of mention lust at a glance, without specifics, and without any real plan to confess the poisonous fruit that it is producing in your life. It is because of this, I highly recommend one of two things that should happen if you want to begin the path to liberty. These two are not the end-all-be-all to end pornographic desire, but I guarantee you’ll be moving in the right direction. 1) Get Caught 2) Confess (to your spouse, or a godly and mature saint).

Get Caught

When David desired Bathsheba, he did so in secret. No doubt, David probably thought he was never going to get caught. Sin is just deceitful like that (Ephesians 4:22). And after he had her husband Uriah killed in battle, he probably thought the trouble he got himself into by impregnating Bathsheba was officially buried (pun intended). The Scripture says that God was displeased, and he sent Nathan the prophet to expose his sin (2 Samuel 12:1). It was necessary after exposing David’s sin that the consequences would be listed against him. Then, Nathan says “For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun” (2 Sam. 12:12). David was busted! And it was a good thing too. Get was being merciful to him by doing so. And David’s reaction to this was perfect. He says, “I have sinned against the LORD.” He later pens Psalm 51 in what is probably the best, written example of genuine confession and godly sorrow that leads to repentance in all of the Psalms.

All that to say this. I pray that God will have mercy on you, and you get caught! Not trying to sound mean or harsh, but it’s the best thing for you. Really! If you think for one second that keeping this porn addiction a secret and taking it on by yourself is something you can handle, you’re deceived. And sin, no matter what it is, loves to hide. It likes to keep things secret. That’s where it draws its strength. In the nuturing environment of darkness. John 3:20 states that those that do evil don’t come to light so that their deeds aren’t exposed. Proverbs 9:17 has the adulterous women telling us that bread eaten in secret is pleasurable. Paul cries out to us in Ephesians 5:11-14 to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them with light because shameful to even mention some of those things done in darkness. The point being, while God can and does use shame to cause you repent, shame is often a dungeon that sin uses to keep people from confession and true repentance. Someone walking in on you while watching porn, discovering your internet history, asking you directly if you watch pornography, or whatever the circumstances that causes you to be exposed is the BEST thing that can happen to you! And I say this with as much love and earnestness I can muster. If you don’t get busted now, your cries for freedom when you’re lying in the pool of your own tears, after once again failing to avoid the one thing that has this immense grip on your life, will grow weaker. In other words, while your desire to turn away from this sin may be genuine, the fact that you are attempting conquer this sin in the very same, secretive environment where it thrives spells certain shipwreck of your faith. You will eventually give in. You will lose.

But if getting caught is not something you want God to do to you, you don’t have to wait to expose this sin. There is another option. But before I dive into that, I want to quickly say something that is of the utmost importance.

The Gospel

The bible says that when we are born again, we will hate our sin (Romans 7:15). Do you hate this sin? I mean, truly? 1 John 2:29 states that one of the ways we know if we are truly born again is that we love to practice righteousness in our life because we are born again. Do you desire to love God and live holy before Him? One of the promises that we are given as Christians is that Jesus’ victory in taking the punishment for our sin is that He destroyed the power that sin has over our lives, and that He that started a good work in you will finish it (Philippians 1:6). Do you believe that? Do you truly believe that Jesus took God’s wrath and satisfied the demands of justice that are against us by enduring a painful and agonizing death so that we can be free from sin? And be given a new nature that loves Him and hates pornography? And that only through the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit who causes you to repent and trust Jesus for salvation that you are granted the gift of everlasting life? The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16)! For our sake, Christ became sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)!  If you don’t truly believe this, this battle is lost even before it has begun. Getting caught and confessing your sins to someone else in the hopes of modifying your behavior is a dead gospel. It is in the life-changing work of the gospel of Jesus Christ where true freedom is found. I pray that if you have never experienced the reality of knowing Christ, and the power of His resurrection to justify you and change your sinful nature, that you would go before Him today broken and contrite, so that you might confess and repent of your sins to Him alone who has the power to forgive sins and reconcile you to Himself.

Confess

If you’re married, I wouldn’t wait another second to tell your spouse about this sin in your life. Be open and honest with her/him. Don’t criticize them if they get angry, frustrated, or disappointed. Accept the failure. Admit the defeat. That’s what David did when he was confronted about his sin. And if this isn’t the first time you’ve told them, tell them again. Ask them to periodically check in on you. Give them every password. Don’t be alone with any electronic device. Maybe take a long break away from the internet, television, and radio. Pray together. Read together. Seek godly counsel together. And most importantly, communicate! There are a multitude of gates and parameters you both can place in your lives to fortify yourselves against this horrendous sin. But the central and most important key is to not keep this a secret! Even when it is a known issue. Keep bringing it up! Not naggingly, but out of genuine desire to extinguish this idolatrous fire. And if you’re honest with yourself, God sees you every time you watch it. The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, watching the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3). And “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). So while I am exhorting you to abstain from secrecy, remember that if you’re not worried about God and how he feels about pornography, you’re probably not going to give much care to being ashamed and open about it to your spouse.

And if you’re not married, then you must find a godly saint(s) that you trust will pray for you, check in on you, and will provoke you to holiness. Tell them about your failure to be holy. Let them know your desire to no longer fight this alone. Hopefully one of the person(s) you trust is an elder or mature counselor in the church that can provide godly wisdom and a course of action. But whoever you choose, also remember that they are not a suitable substitute for genuine conviction from the Holy Spirit. The idea of an “accountability partner” is not what I’m proposing here. This sin is a heart issue. Period! If someone wants to watch porn bad enough, they will find a way. This is only a means for you to expose this sin in the hopes that you can deprive it of the strength that it so powerfully gains in secret. Just like the most disgusting of creatures and fungus tend to thrive in the darkest and dampest areas, so does this sin fester and thrive. And it isn’t until the area is uncovered, exposed, and aired out do the creatures scatter and the fungus dies.

Conclusion

If you are a man, you know the internal battle we must fight daily against lust. But now this isn’t just a man thing. Women are not facing this issue to. And as I already stated, this is a heart issue. So if you want to gain an upper hand, don’t allow this secret sin to flourish any longer in the dark recesses of your heart and on your hard drive. And since we are dealing with the internet here (for the most part), the data is already collected somewhere when you are searching these sites. So nothing is exactly private no matter what the “private search” option says on your phone or desktop. But what we need to remember is that if it God is who we aim to please, then we must go before Him in confession, faith, and repentance in order to overcome this, with a strong follow up by making no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). And that we must expose this sin through communion with Christ, gospel-centered fellowship, communicating with our spouses, and availing ourselves of the means of grace God has provided in the Scriptures. My wife and I resolved to take these steps to protect ourselves long ago. By the grace of God, I pray that you will do it in yours.

 

– Until we go home

No Children – Not Just a Burden for Women

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“I’m spotting.” I had no idea how those simple words could pack such an emotional punch. Or how about this one – “It’s negative again.” Maybe you don’t know these words intimately. Maybe your bad news comes in the form of a sigh or disappointed grin as you ride the same nauseating roller coaster again, hoping that this next time is your last. But when you find out you’re not pregnant again, no matter what the package looks like, the contents are the same. And as much as you try to remain optimistic, hopeful, and thankful to God, your heart tends to migrate to the land of doubt, disbelief, and spiritual angst.

If you haven’t figured out by now, I am no stranger to the struggle of wanting children and not being given any. My wife and I have had a few diagnoses, and have accomplished corrective surgeries. We have a known condition that doesn’t make it impossible to have kids, but it does make it harder. We have been trying for 14 years now. We have experienced several miscarriages, including one ectopic pregnancy,  and one chemical pregnancy (that we know of). We have tried medical treatments and other strategies (never IVF though). And the more my wife and I endure doctor’s appointments and medications, the more my heart aches for her. But not only that, what was once something that burdened me vicariously through my wife has become mine to bear.

As a young believer, there were times I would cry out to God and ask why He hasn’t given us children. Was it my sin? Is this only supposed to last a few years? Should I expect to have children at a really old age like Sarah and Abraham? These questions came in waves. Now that I’m older, the tides have risen high enough in my soul where I now feel the depths of sorrow that my wife has probably felt all along. For some men, this kind of feeling may be foreign, or even short lived. But I know there are other men out there who may be facing this burden more immensely and are reluctant to share. I want to be the first to say, you’re not alone. I want everyone to know that, as men, we do deal with these kinds of emotions when it comes to children. It doesn’t mean we are less of a man if we do. And we should endeavor to seek the LORD and the prayers of our fellow man as we renew our minds through this kind of trial. We would be less of a [godly] man if we didn’t.

One thing that God has taught me in all this is to remain thankful for what He has given me, and not what He has not. I intend to write more details about some Scriptures and life lessons God has brought to my wife and I because of this prohibition to have children, but this initial blog is meant to bring out the fact that God has given me sooooooo much despite the one desire that feels like a throbbing, stubbed toe within my spirit. It might be painful, and it has the propensity to attract all of my attention when I’m not faithfully exercising thanksgiving unto God. However, it is also not the god of my life. It is a genuine desire, no doubt. And it has become an even greater desire as time passes. But when I look upon the gift(s) of my wonderful marriage, my occupation, my health, my finances, and above all, my eternal salvation, to not cry out “thank you!” to my God, who has taken me out of darkness and has adopted me as His child, would be more of curse to my soul than not having children.

This short blog may not sound encouraging, but I wanted the men out there who are struggling with the burden of not having any children to know that God has blessed you with so many things already. I know what it is like to want children. Bad! I share this burden with you. And whether you have been dealing with this burden for a few years or decades, I am placing my hand on your shoulder, asking you to pray and share with other men you trust your struggle. And while you do that, meditate upon the immeasurable riches of His kindness toward you (Ephesians 4:2-7), knowing that you deserved nothing good except hell, yet He gave the greatest He could give, Himself (Galatians 2:20). And He did so on your behalf so that you could receive something greater than children – fellowship with Him.

-Until we go home

“The Mighty Weakness of John Knox”

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Last week at our church, we had a Reformation Conference and Douglas Bond was the teacher. The lectures were very informative and edifying, especially when he spoke about the French Reformers (like the Huguenots). I hope to have him (Lord willing) appear our podcast in the near future to discuss the French Reformers. Pray for that.

It was in the course of that evening that I came across The Mighty Weakness of John Knox written by Bond, edited by Steve Lawson. If there was ever a stack of small books that should encourage your soul concerning the common weakness we all face, and how God’s grace empowers us despite those weaknesses, this should be in the top 5! This book takes the overly divine view we tend to have about our heroes in the faith, specifically here John Knox, and humanizes him in order to highlight the God of John Knox. One of the statements made about John Knox was made by a fellow minister, Thomas Smeaton, who said: “I know not if God ever place a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail” (pg 24).  And even though some may portray Knox’s greatest moments in preaching against Roman Catholicism, the fact of the matter is, he was often scared, timid, and even left a room in tears when first called upon to preach. But yet, God inflamed such man to passionately love the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and hate idolatry more than seek to preserve his own life.

Although Knox was a zealous preacher and a thunderous figure, he had many struggles in his lifetime that squeezed the fruitful juices of God’s Spirit out of him. He was targeted by the Roman church, escaped several assassination attempts, lost his wife, was often without sleep, and constantly criticized for his zealous approach to name a few things. But yet, he was a loving shepherd to his people, a minister to the poor, humble prayer warrior, and a fearless preacher when the time came. In reading this book, it seemed obvious to me that many of us, who are often more ready to make excuses about why we can’t be faithful in the most common ways to God, who go on and on about our weakness, would resonate much with Knox. He was but a broken vessel in the hands of his Master.

I benefited tremendously reading about Knox’s weaknesses and how God loves to use men and women who are intimately familiar with their own failings. As Bond stated:

“Knox’s preaching ministry was a microcosm of the mysteries of God’s providence. God called a timid man who trembled in his boots at the thought of preaching and who ran from the room in tears when first called upon to do so. When a man feels in his own strength that he can do something, he tends to not cry out to God in prayer to enable him to do it. He believes he is already capable, so he sees no need to depend on God’s strength. but this was not Knox the preacher. Knox, who never completed seminary, knew that if he was to fulfill his calling as a preacher, he desperately needed God’s power. Weak in terms of physical strength, he turned from himself to find vigor that only comes from God” (pg 65-66) (italics mine)

This information should encourage every home-school mom, deacon, teacher, factory worker, professor, pastor, missionary, widow, single person, public school child, etc., to timidly but ferociously look to God for grace and strength when struggling against ourselves to be faithful witnesses in the world. And to fight our battles on our knees as Knox did, and to trust in the sovereign mercy of Christ to sustain and preserve us even when we are in the midst of what seems to be a losing battle. It is hard to feel in our own person the things that Knox personally faced since we are so far removed from that time frame in history. But the one thing that will always unite us all is that he, like us, needed God’s sustaining mercy in order to be faithful in his day. Who are we to think that God’s hand is too small to sustain such a weak man such as Knox, and yet not do the same for us?

Get your copy of The Mighty Weakness of John Knox and may God heartily encourage you, embolden you, and revive you as you celebrate the God of the Reformation.

-Until we go home

Every Christian Believes Election

Not everyone consciously affirms the doctrine of election. The reasons for this vary and are definitely outside the scope of this particular article. But whether you don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or are simply neutral about it for the time being, predestination and election are concepts in Scripture that every believer will be confronted with. Even if you choose not to deal with it, the unbelieving world still has heard about it, learned it when they were in church as a kid, and/or logically deduces it through the knowledge that God knew before hand that man would fall, and yet still created us. So even if we bury our head in the sand and ignore this, the world will not let us. And, if we have faithful pastors and brethren in Christ who challenge, edify, and provoke us in godliness through the word of God, they won’t let us ignore this topic either.

Although you may hold to a more unique position concerning predestination and election, you will probably sympathize with one of these two views:

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A Christian’s Duty Through The Heralds of Ancient Greece

Whether a elder in the pulpit, a preacher on the street, or a believer seeking to be a faithful witness, we can all glean from this.

In Ancient Greece, heralds had a specific role in the culture with a specific reputation. It is that reputation that I am going to use as illustrative examples  concerning a believer’s/preacher’s duty to spread the gospel. Although we know that the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, still, illustrations are a powerful tool to help nail the truths deeper into our mind and make plain what is simply less memorable to some. With that said, here are some points that will help us reaffirm our calling as ambassadors and heralds of the gospel. Once again, these points are purely illustrative, not expository. But they nevertheless communicate biblical truth.

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Not Everyone Can Be The Mouth

This article contains an excerpt that was taking from my book, Apocity: The Greatest Omission which can now be downloaded for free.

This portion of the book is emphasizing the true meaning behind 1 Corinthians 12, and how this passage cannot be used as means to say that  evangelism is the “mouth” of the body, and therefore, seeing that we have differing roles/gifts, not everyone can be the mouth. Sadly, there are variations to this excuse.


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The idea that not everyone can be a consistent witness because they are not “the mouth” is also wrongly pulled out of 1 Corinthians 12. I have actually heard men (more often pastors and teachers within the congregation) say “not everyone can be the mouth.” In other words, we are not all gifted with the gift of evangelism, and the mouth is the metaphor they use to describe those that do have it. Once again, this is urban legend, and I will clear up this confusion.

When you look at 1 Corinthians 12, right from the get go, in verse 1 Paul clearly says, “now concerning spiritual gifts.” This is a good clue that Paul is about to clarify some things for the Corinthian church. This issue with spiritual gifts and the divisions within the church was one of the reasons Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in the first place. In verse 4 he mentions how there are “diversities of the gifts” that come from the same Spirit. Verse 11 reveals how the Spirit passes out gifts as He wills (This challenges those who think that you have to speak in tongues as proof that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See Chapter 5). Then, in verse 12, Paul begins to emphasize the unity of the body not only because we are all partakers of His Spirit through salvation (v13), but also because of how the diversity of the members affect the unity of that body. In other words, Paul is trying to give us an illustration that even though there are different gifts within the body of Christ, these divisions of gifts do not mean we are divided as a body. We are unified together by the Spirit, who distributes these gifts, and one gift is not more important than the other in the grand plan of the Church. Are you following? If not, this next part may be harder for you to grasp.

When you look at the metaphor that Paul uses for the body, he repeatedly gives us clues as to what he is trying to get across to the Corinthian church. In verse 15 he says, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body” (Emphasis added). He asks the same questions concerning another body part in verse 16. Verse 21 he says, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Once again, Paul seems to be hinting at something here, and in verse 22 he gets to his point: “… those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” So basically Paul is trying to say that every member of the body is “necessary” no matter what gift, no matter what background (v13), and no matter how weak one seems to be (v23-24). Paul has said all this so that we realize that everyone within the body should need one another and that we should benefit from each other’s gifts, strengths, weakness, and backgrounds (v25). I might have been very general with my exegesis of this text but my purpose is not to get to the small details (that would be a whole other chapter), but to make some observations that I believe will squash this idea that evangelism is a gift, specifically here, “the mouth.”

If you are one to believe that not everyone can be the mouth (insinuating the mouth being a spiritual gift), or you have heard this from someone and think it is a valid statement, then here are some points to consider. 1) Where in this chapter does it specifically mention evangelism? The urban legend that evangelism is a gift still applies here too, not just Ephesians 4. Also, if you are saying that not everyone
can be the mouth, then you have to show me from 1 Corinthians 12 how believing this is in any way a “get out of witnessing free” card, because that is not Paul’s intent in this particular chapter of Corinthians. 2) Paul did not mean for this chapter to be used as a cop out to not preach the gospel. If you remember what I said in the previous paragraph, Paul’s main concern was unity. There seemed to be divisions in the church for various reasons, and the insinuation that Paul gives in numerous verses is that some believed that there were others that were not needed, or that they were not a part of the body because they seemed weaker or less honorable. There might be more background to this, but the main point is that Paul was more specifically targeting the need for everyone within the body and for every spiritual gift, rather than just emphasizing certain ones over the other. 3) Where does “not being the mouth” come into this metaphor? If you read this chapter carefully, when Paul used the metaphor of the body it wasn’t for us to figure out which body part we are (or think we are), it was to help us understand the importance of unity within a human body and relate that to the body of Christ. This was his main point! It is so absurd when I hear people call this person a foot, or that person the hand, or evangelism the mouth. This is not what Paul is saying! 4) When was the last time you did something without all body parts involved? If evangelism is the mouth, does that mean I don’t use my hands or my feet to preach? The Bible talks about feet being beautiful for preaching the gospel (Romans 10:15), so does this mean not everyone can be the feet either? Do I need someone who is the arms carry me to my corner to pass out tracts because I am not gifted in doing it myself? I am being very caustic for a reason. I have become so sorrowfully burdened about these vain attempts to explain away our responsibility to preach that it has caused me great spiritual distress to see professing believers continually making urban legends, like not being a mouth, a popular excuse. The nature of these excuses call into question the salvation of many who call themselves believers (a topic we will explore in the next chapter).

I can understand that there are persons within the body who are skilled in certain areas in which others are not. For instance, there are men and women who fly missionaries to their destination for the glory of God. These saints risk their lives to fly over dangerous areas to do  amazing things for God. Here is my question though: Just because they metaphorically can be the arms that carry missionaries where they need to go, does that remove their responsibility to preach to the lost themselves? Just because my primary job is “an arm” (I don’t actually believe that, just proving a point) does that mean I don’t have a mouth? If anything, anyone who is supporting evangelism efforts would see the importance of evangelism and would feel the obligation to preach themselves. This example goes for those who mow lawns for the church, who do the finances, those who usher, teenagers in youth group, deacons, pastors, and the list goes on! Your primary duty within the local church includes evangelism. Evangelism is not a secondary duty; it is the indivisible infrastructure of your calling as a Christian!

At this point, I feel it is necessary to say this. As I previously said in Chapter 2, I understand that the roles that God has given within the local church are for us to be perfected and conform to the image of Christ. I am not blind to the reality of our weakness, nor do I think that each person’s gifting is unimportant. I know that pastors have a part, deacons, leaders, congregations, members, etc.; all play an important part in the whole of the universal church of Christ. What the revelation of Scripture seems to imply, however, is that none of that infringes upon our call to be faithful in our witness. None of it! There is no such gift of evangelism and there are no Scriptures that we can use to justify this position. If we refuse to accept this reality, then gross apocity among many local churches will continue. And I do not know about how you, reader, may feel about it, but I think God is weary of it.

 

-Until we go home

Is Your Wife Your First Ministry?

I holistically support men who support their families. Men who make discipleship and love a priority for the home. The home is one of the central building blocks for a society, and the marriage is the sun by which everything in the home orbits. Having said this, there are many priorities that pastors, open air preachers, and everyday christian men have that may sometimes burden us. We can become anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed with the multiple obligations that we are to tend to. And yes, wives are included in this list of feelings. And the one thing that is not helpful are Christian cliches like, “Your wife is your first ministry.” It has a nice ring to it, and for the most part it is well meaning, but it does not properly convey the responsibilities and obligations a Christian may face on a day to day basis. It has also been abused by certain preachers that wish to exclude certain men from ministry.

I have attached a blogtalk episode that I and a pastor friend of mine recorded about this topic. My hope is that we would all take into consideration the biblical model of men not just in ministry, but just being men in general. Here is the narrative and link of the episode below.

“On this exciting episode of G220 radio, George will be joined by Pastor Tom Shuck from Pilgrim Bible Church. Pastor Shuck is a graduate of Master’s Seminary and Columbia Evangelical Seminary and was a missionary to India for 12 years. He holds both a Masters of Divinity (MDiv.) and a Doctorate of Ministry (DMin.). He has been a pastor of Pilgrim Bible Church for 4 years and helped start a seminary in India as well as planted a church there. He enjoys sports, music, family trips, and George’s personal favorite, linguistics. He has evangelized in cities like Oakland, Orlando, Mumbai, Pune training believers how to evangelize, preach the gospel, and make disciples. His wife is Lisa Shuck and two children.”

“This episode we’ll explore the cliche “Your wife is your first ministry.” Is it Scriptural? Are there other primary biblical responsibilities? Can you make ministry your idol or mistress? What should a man who is called to preach do with this kind of cliche? What about missionaries and evangelists of old that we look up to that sacrificed much, even their marriages, for the gospel? What about Matthew 22:35-40, 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, Ephesians 5:22-33, and 1 Timothy 3:5?”

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/g220radionetwork/2016/05/10/ep-157-is-your-wife-your-first-ministry

-Until we go home