Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 13, 2015 edition}

Only one shopping day left until Valentine’s Day! We aren’t planning anything huge for the day, but we just hope to get to spend some time together. Whether you buy stuff or just are with one another, make this a great day to connect with your Valentine and grow in your love for each other.

We have a huge number of great family links for you this week, so let’s get to them!

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

10 Ugly Things Awful Husbands Do to Their Wives [Family Share]

10 Realistic Pinterest Valentine Gift Ideas [Nurturing Marriage]

Family Bible Time (podcast) [Arrows in Our Hand]

The Media Sexualization of Our Girls [Preacher Pollard]

6 Reasons Dads Should Date Their Daughters Before Anyone Else Does [We are THAT Family]

7 Tips for Handling In-Law Situations [Mark’s Writings]

Christian Women and Christian Grey [Scissortail Silk]

A Word of Encouragement to Godly Parents [Life in the Light]

4 Things to Do When You Find Our Your Child Watches Porn [Overcome Online]

Finding Time for Romance with Kids [Life in the Kingdom]

From the Twitter Timeline

These posts do not necessarily deal with family issues, but we tweeted them during the week. If you missed them on Twitter, enjoy them now!

The Tactics of Troublemakers [Preacher Pollard]

A Biblical Picture of Pornography [Life in the Kingdom]

Millennials Leaving the Established for the Convenient? [Preacher Pollard]

Our Father’s Love [Spiritual Java]

Are We Passionate about Our Worship? [The Jenkins Institute]

Reflective Hearers [Spiritual Java]

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily written during the previous 7 days, but they drew the most views in that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Hymn Reflection: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” (July 5, 2013)

#4: Concepts or Commands? (February 9, 2015)

#3: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

#2: What to Do with Hymns that Go Against Our Conscience? (February 11, 2015)

#1: Suit and Tie Sunday? (February 10, 2015)

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Episode 18: What is “Agape” Love? {Podcast}

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February is the month where we celebrate Valentine’s Day, so we are dedicating our four podcasts this month to the subject of marital love and respect. This week, in a short devotional, Adam speaks of what the New Testament word “agape” means, then what a difference it would make in each marriage.

If you would like to learn more about Biblical love, sign up for the Legacy of Faith email newsletter, and you will be sent a free eBook on 1 Corinthians 13. Sign up here for free!

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Resource

What is Agape Love? A Bible Study [Patheos]

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

What are We to Do With Hymns That Go Against Our Conscience?

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At the recent Freed-Hardeman University lectures, a question was raised in the Open Forum that did not get much discussion. It is one that is close to my heart, because I love singing praises to God, so I thought I would expand on it a little bit.

I don’t remember the exact wording of the question, but it was basically asking what we should do with songs in church hymn books that are unscriptural. Dr. Ralph Gilmore, moderator of the forum, made a good observation about how nearly every song we sing is poetry; thus, we need to give a little grace. After all, much poetry is symbolic and the writers take some liberties that do not necessarily mean they are violating Scripture.

For example, several songs talk about having a mansion, robe, and crown in heaven (one song has that title, and “Pearly White City” and “Mansions Over the Hilltop” speak of it as well). Is that literal? Of course not, but it does not change the concept that heaven is, in part, a place of remarkable reward. So those songs are not unscriptural, but we may need to explain at times what they mean–and what they do not mean.

However, is there a chance that some songs that may or may not be unscriptural might still violate my conscience? I think so, and I’d like to talk about that for a moment. I believe this, more often that not, is the issue; not a song being directly unscriptural.

One example of a song that violates my conscience is “Get Right Church.” (Now, before you get angry at me, just keep reading.)

The song contains verses that say such things as “I’m going home on the morning train,” “That evening train might be too late,” and “So back, back train and get your load.”

When I read those lyrics or hear the song sung, I cannot help but get a picture of the so-called “Rapture” in my mind. And, since the Rapture–with more than one Second Coming of our Lord–is wholly unscriptural, I cannot in good conscience sing that song.

So, do I then say that no one can sing “Get Right Church?” Absolutely not, and here is why.

The song, like most others we sing, is poetry. I understand that. When I read those lyrics, the false idea of the Rapture is how I interpret the lyrics and I struggle to interpret it any other way. You, however, may have a perfectly scriptural way you interpret the lyrics to that song. If so, sing it!

But since this is an issue of my conscience (and, I might add, it could additionally be an issue with my spiritual maturity or immaturity), I am not going to claim that someone else who sings or leads that song is sinning. I choose not to sing that particular song when it is led, and I simply pass when asked to lead it. I do not even take the time to explain why, and I have even asked someone else to lead it before, because I know a lot of people like it and have no such violation of their conscience from it.

That is just one personal example. There are many others for many people. I know some congregations “stamp” or put stickers on songs they request not to be lead. That is strictly up to the elders of that congregation, but I would ask them to carefully evaluate those songs before doing that. It is easy to get so literal with our reading of hymns that we fail to account for some poetic license.

As I grow in my faith, I may come to struggle with other songs, or some that I struggle with now may no longer violate my conscience. I really think that is more the question that needs to be asked than a question about “unscriptural” songs. Personally, I feel that the editors of most song books do a remarkable work in selecting songs that are Biblical and true. Maybe one or two per book “slip through” that I struggle with on a level that is important (in other words, on a Biblical, not just a conscience, level).

The point of this article is not to scare us away from every song or to make us skeptical of every lyric. Instead, it is to remind us that we must be totally invested in what we do in worship, in both mind and emotion. Think about what you are singing. Sing truth, and remember to not sing something that might violate your conscience. Then, study and grow and you might just realize that you can now sing a certain song.

After all, the idea is to “get right church” so we can “go home!”

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Suit and Tie Sunday?

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What do you wear to worship? Does it matter? Does God care?

I recently conducted two separate funerals for two men I greatly admire. There are many things these men have in common. They both lived past their 90th year. They were both very faithful Christians. They both came to worship every time the doors were open. They both were great Christian patriarchs. And finally, they both always wore a suit and tie.

We live in a culture that hates tradition, especially if it is a tradition tied to anything having to do with the church. The new generation is so bent against tradition that now even musical instruments, the woman’s role, and yes, homosexuality, are considered as subjects that have been in the past decided on tradition rather than on Scripture. So when it comes to what we wear to worship, forget about it! It is hardly considered anymore. Most people would just say wear whatever you want – it is not about what is on the outside – it is what is on the inside that counts. (This is already what some of you are saying to yourself as you begin to read this article).

Now before I sound, may I say it, like your grandmother, will you please give me the benefit of the doubt? Would we ever judge a person who enters the assembly by their clothing? I hope not. I have read James 2. Would we also be concerned with people putting on airs or making a public display of their wealth? Certainly. I have also read 1 Peter 3. Would we ever bind what God has not bound? Never. Again, I have read Matthew 15. And yet we cannot just say that the outside doesn’t matter. What is on the outside does matter to some point, because it can reflect a great deal about what is present on the inside.

When I saw these two men in worship every Sunday, what they wore spoke to me. Their attire told me they felt like an appointment with God was a suit and tie occasion. They showed me without a word that God deserved their best. They exemplified grace and holiness and purity. They did not dress-down for an approach to the throne. They came as if the president were at the table. They happily agreed within their hearts that the outside was going to reflect what they intended to offer to God from within. They also understood that they were not by their clothing going to draw attention from others to themselves and away from God.

I cannot tell you that I remember the color of their suits and ties. I truly don’t recall even one in particular. But I do remember seeing that they were gentlemen. I do recall thinking that they were serious. I do remember that I was honored to be worshiping with men who loved the Lord so much that they would come before Him with such reverence. I recall knowing that it took more than just rolling out of bed for these men to arrive for worship dressed that way.

Are you required to wear a suit and tie on Sunday? No. But is there a dress code for worship? Yes. You wear what a Christian would wear. You wear what you would wear in the presence of Jesus. You give your best. You do not distract others. You wear a smile. You wear an attitude of reverence and humility and awe and thankfulness and adoration for God.

You don’t just wear these things because these are the right things to wear. You wear them because these are the things a holy and righteous and loving and saving God deserves.

“Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” – Proverbs 3:9

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Concepts or Commands

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“He stimulated their thinking and caused them to re-examine their previously held positions.”

To hear and read the thoughts of some people today, you would think that this must be the wording of Matthew 7:29. At least, that’s what some people of our day believe good teaching and preaching to be. A preacher or teacher who lovingly and kindly, but without reservation, speaks of God’s commandments is almost an embarrassment to those who wear the name “Christian.”

Words have crept into our vocabulary that chip away at the authority of the Bible. We hear a lot today about “concepts” instead of commands. The Bible is said to “indicate” or “suggest” certain things to us. It is becoming increasingly rare to hear of something either condoned or condemned because of what the Bible says.

If I were to have a terminal disease, I would not look for a doctor who would only discuss various concepts related to health. I would hope to find one who would do more than merely indicate a certain change in lifestyle and suggest various medications. I would hope to find a doctor who would guarantee that I would have good health if I followed his instructions.

I realize that I might not be able to find a doctor like that. Medicine is not that exact of a science. There can be exceptions to almost any situation. For that reason, a physician may be hesitant to speak with total authority in any given situation.

However the Great Physician can, and does, speak with such authority. Those who would communicate His message to others are not instructed to merely suggest, imply, indicate, or stimulate thinking. “These things command and teach” was the charge that Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1.

People desperately need something solid upon which to build their lives. They need an accurate “road map” to heaven. They can have those things and many more if those of us who preach and teach will provide that for them. We need to return to the days when “thus saith the Lord” was characteristic of those who presumed to proclaim God’s message.

After all, the actual wording of Matthew 7:29 is,

“For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 6, 2015 edition}

What a wonderful and encouraging week! Every member of A Legacy of Faith got to spend at least part of the week in Henderson, Tennessee for the annual Freed-Hardeman University Bible Lectureship. This annual event is always a great builder of faith, and we are so thankful to renew many old friendships and make new ones during out time in Henderson.

On the digital side of things, we were pleased to gain our first two Patreon supporters! These two people have pledged a total of $6 each month to help our work. We are thankful that they have agreed to help us in this way. If you’d like to join them, or would like more information, follow this link.

On to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Some Days My Marriage Isn’t Awesome {We Are THAT Family}

5 Consequences of Going to Bed Angry {Mark Merrill}

Handling the Endless Work of Homemaking {Of the Hearth}

3 Gifts Every Father Can Give His Family {for the family}

When the Obsession with Self-Esteem Creates Unlikable (and Spiritually Deficient) Kids {Your Mom Has a Blog}

From the Twitter Timeline

These are posts are not necessarily family related, but that we tweeted during the week. In case you missed them on Twitter, enjoy them now!

Whose Voice Should be Heard? Another Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-15 {Preacher Pollard}

Almost No One {Seth Godin}

Russell Wilson Won’t Be Defined by 1 Moment and You Shouldn’t Either {Life in the Kingdom}

Why the Bible is NOT a Practical Guide to Life {Radically Christian}

Our Week in Review

These posts were not necessarily published during the last 7 days, but they drew the most views during that time. (Original publication date in parenthesis)

#5: Romantic Dates on a Budget {Podcast} (February 5, 2015)

#4: I’ll Fly Away…but My Possessions Won’t (February 4, 2015)

#3: “Thy Kingdom Come” (February 3, 2015)

#2: A Phone Call…and My Prayer Life (February 2, 2015)

#1: An Open Letter to the 4th Avenue church of Christ (December 4, 2014)

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Nathan’s Courage

[NOTE: Adam was asked to speak on the 2015 Freed-Hardeman University Bible lectures on the person of Nathan. Below if the manuscript of his lesson.]
It is a Biblical account that most of us can recite detail-by-detail.
It is shocking to us for many reasons. It shocks us because of who is involved. David, the one so often described as a man after God’s own heart, we know was just a man and therefore, had sin in his life, but the infamous incident in 2 Samuel 11 shocks us.
The account shocks us because it just continues to spiral out of control. We can find ourselves saying, “Just stop it here!” Yet, as the chapter unfolds, unwise decisions and sin continue to come.
The account shocks us by just how far it goes. We have all preached or heard lessons on how the chapter begins by telling us that David should have been at war with his army, and how it ends up with the blood of one of his own mighty men on the king’s hands.
But the problems of 2 Samuel 11 begin before the chapter does. At least, we have that hinted at in the very first verse. There is an ominous feeling when we read, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel.” We read, though, that David’s military plan worked: “And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.” But then the ominous tone returns: “But David remained at Jerusalem.”
There is something embedded there that will play a role in where we are going with our thoughts this afternoon on Nathan, who will not enter the scene until some time later.
Intrigue has often filled our minds when we consider David here. Why did he not go out to war this particular spring season? Why did he remain back in Jerusalem?
Was it because he no longer had the stuff that made for a good military leader? It doesn’t seem like it, and that was no excuse anyway. Even kings who were not military geniuses would still have been present on the battlefield to lift the morale of the armies.
Was it because he did not like the outdoors any longer? I don’t think any of us would ever think of David not desiring time on the hillsides, even if it was under stressful conditions.
The text never indicates bad health or fear in David at this point in his life, so those are out as well.
But look back up in the text of 2 Samuel and we may have a clue. In 2 Samuel 8, we read of victory after victory for David and his armies.
  • Verse 1, he defeats the Philistines
  • Verse 2, Moab is defeated
  • Verses 3ff, he defeats Hadadezer, who was over Zobah.
  • Verses 9ff, the king of Hamath gives up, virtually without a fight
Twice in this section, though, there is an interesting phrase. The end of verse 6 and the the end of verse 14 both state, “And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.”
Chapter 10, then, continues with the conquests of David, and this time it is a remarkable victory. The armies of Israel, outnumbered and probably fighting against a better outfitted and trained army, put the people of Ammon and Syria to flight.
Near the outset of WWII, Benito Mussolini saw that Germany, under Adolf Hitler, was building up a large land empire very quickly. Not to be so easily outdone, Mussolini invaded the African nation of Ethiopia. The Italian army invaded with airplanes and tanks, while the Ethiopians—at least many of them—were trying to fight back with lesser weapons, like spears and arrows. Of course, the Italians routed the nation in no time, and Mussolini claimed a victory for Italy.
In 2 Samuel 10, you are reading of the opposite. It would be almost as if the Ethiopians had routed the Italians. David’s men, led by Joab, routed the better army, and David was able to claim an improbable, but remarkable victory.
Except for one fact. That fact is simply this: God had promised that, so long as the people of Israel were faithful, nothing could stand in their way. The Law of Moses, especially when repeated in the book of Deuteronomy, made it clear that the armies of God’s people would be victorious over and over again if they would just remain faithful to Him. To borrow from the WWII analogy, it would be as if they had the airplanes and tanks, even though they did not. They had something—or rather Someone—far more powerful on their side.
The Bible warns explicitly and implicitly of the danger of pride. Probably most famously, Scripture warns, “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). It seems logical to conclude that a bit of pride was entering David’s heart at this point in his life. He had not known military defeat; Joab had proven himself many times in battle; so why should David concern himself with this next wave of battles to be fought? After all, what could possibly stop his unstoppable army?
Before moving on, let me make this point that will play a part in our lesson: when we think we have time on our hands and have the world by the tail, we had better wake up. Charles Swindoll, in his biography of David, puts it brilliantly:
David was in bed, not in battle. Had he been where he belonged—with his troops—there would never have been the Bathsheba episode. Our greatest battles don’t usually come when we’re working hard; they come when we have some leisure, when we’ve got time on our hands, when we’re bored. That’s when we make those fateful decisions that come back to haunt us. (pages 183-184)
If I may ask, what are we doing in our society? We are trying to make everything leisure time. All we want is freedom and time to do whatever we please. Should it be any wonder, then, that we see lives so fouled up by unwise and sinful decisions?
  • Preachers, when your outlines are done for Sunday and you’ve got the bulletin done for that week, you had better think of someone who is sick to call or a nursing home to visit. Just when you think you’ve got everything under control, that’s when the allure of pornography will take you down, since you are bored in your office.
  • Students, when you think you’ve got all the snap courses and there is no reason to study any more, you had better find some service work to do or get your mind meditating on Scripture. Just when you think your work is done, that’s when the temptation to “live life just a little” will come, and you will end up destroying yourself and your reputation.
  • Elders (and in fact, all church members), when you think your congregation is fine and there is no problem at all, you had better get back to spending serious time studying Scripture. When we think things are okay, we are setting ourselves up to be destroyed for lack of knowledge, all in the name of wanting things easy and leisurely.
Why spend so much of our time in a lesson on Nathan talking about the background that led to the incident with David and Bathsheba? Because it tells us something of where David was, which helps us understand even more about Nathan’s courage.
David was the king. That is obvious, but let that sink in for a moment. David was the king. And David was a king who had known virtually no defeat since ascending to the throne, and now he is feeling his place. Seemingly, he can do anything.
2 Samuel 12 begins with the straightforward declarative statement, “And the Lord sent Nathan to David” (verse 1). However, the previous chapter, in 11:27, had ended with another ominous phrase, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”
Keep in mind that this is inspired commentary. In other words, Jehovah did not open up the heavens and shout His displeasure to David. David, as the hours and days rolled on, was probably beginning to think that he had actually pulled off a covert operation of the highest order.
How much time passed between the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12 we are not told. It does seem, however, to be a somewhat protracted time. Some scholars suggest even an entire year has passed. Personally, I believe it to be slightly less than that, based upon some things found in these two chapters about Bathsheba’s pregnancy. However, it was probably at least several weeks, if not a number of months between the death of Urriah and the time when the Lord sends Nathan before King David.
Why wait so long? Scripture does not tell us, but we can think of some very simple reasons. I want to suggest two that may seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but that actually work together.
     1. The pride of David may have led him to think he had really gotten away with this scheme. As time passes and nothing is ever said of a sin—especially one we have worked hard to conceal—there is a sense that grows within us that we really have covered it up. However, God’s timing is always right.
     2. Guilt. As the time passed and Bathsheba began to show physically that she was going to have a child, we have to wonder if memories of what had occurred weeks or months earlier clouded the joy that David should have been feeling as an expecting father. As Bathsheba’s morning sickness grew, was David’s soul sickness also growing?
Whatever the reason, God waited and David felt that he was in the clear outwardly, though is inward self may have been eating away at him. I think these two can work together, because it would be quite a leap from one who was completely cold and calloused to the outpouring of emotion and repentance found so clearly in Psalm 51.
But for now, David probably thinks sufficient time has passed that he has gotten away with the ultimate. He is in the clear, and we have to wonder if his pride was returning.
“And the Lord sent Nathan to David.”
We do not know a lot about Nathan. Like so many other people in Scripture, he only appears on the scene for a few short moments. Even so, he makes a tremendous impact.
We know that his name means “He has given.” We know, maybe a bit ironically, that David had a son by the same name (2 Samuel 5:14). Similarly, we know that this was seemingly a common name, since there are up to 10 different men in Scripture who bear the name Nathan.
But this Nathan was a strong man. Oh, we do not know if he was physically strong, but he was mentally and relationally a powerhouse. We know that, mentally, he was strong enough to be the author of a history, according to 2 Chronicles 9:29.
It is obvious, though, that he was strong for more than that. He was clearly one of David’s trusted advisors, but he was not afraid to speak very directly to the King (as we clearly see in his famous, “You are the man” of this text).
It was Nathan who was chosen by the Lord to tell David that he was blessed for the idea of building a permanent place for God to dwell—the temple—but that David would not be the one to build it (2 Samuel 7:2-17; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15). The final verse of each of these accounts (2 Samuel 7:17 and 1 Chronicles 17:15) tell us a great deal about Nathan, as both record this short statement: “In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.”
In 1 Kings 1, it is Nathan who is chosen by none other than Bathsheba to tell David that Adonijah had set himself up as the next king, instead of the one, Solomon, whom David was to appoint. Nathan then is given the task to go find Solomon and, along with other trusted men, anoint him as the successor to David.
But it is in our text of 2 Samuel 12 that we are given the clearest indication of the courage of Nathan. He is, in the words of Herbert Lockyer, “unsparing in his condemnation of his monarch’s sin” (All the Men of the Bible, page 253).
I chose that brief quote for just two words: “his monarch.” How would you want to be the one chosen to go to your king and deliver this message? For the vast majority of us, we have no idea what it is like to live under a monarch. There may be a handful in this room who do, but history and other outlets give us some indication of the pressure that must be felt when approaching the absolute human authority within a nation.
And Nathan is chosen to deliver not just bad news, but condemning news.
So, you are sent to a prideful monarch who thinks that he can get away with anything. Would you accept that assignment? What would you possibly say?
Nathan’s composure is what intrigues me the most about this text. Blaiklock and Wood state it well: “Courage consists, not in disregarding danger, but in looking danger in the face without flinching” (Bible Characters and Doctrines, vol. V, page 19).
Nathan knows David, and uses the king’s pastoral background as the setting for a little tale. Nathan knew that David loved sheep, so he told him a simple, but powerful parable, recorded in 2 Samuel 12:1-4:
There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. the rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had brought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.
PAUSE in your reading. Before you let you eyes go forward, flip back just a page or two, where we see an insight into the character of David and why Nathan would choose such a parable to tell. 2 Samuel 8:15 tells us this about the king: “So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.”
Justice. Equity. How could one who ruled in such a way possibly stand for a rich man simply stealing the family pet of a poor family in such a cruel, heartless way?
Of course, David couldn’t. In his mind, this is very possibly a real story that Nathan is reporting, not a parable. Though David does not know what village this occurred in, or even the names of the people, this cannot be allowed to go on under his just–his equity-filled–rule.
So, in verses 5-6 of chapter 12, we read, “Then David’s anger was kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb foretold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’”
I don’t agree with a lot of what Charles Swindoll writes, but I love the way he follows up this quotation from David in his biography of the shepherd-king. He writes,
When confrontation comes in God’s timing, the way is prepared. In that vulnerable, unguarded moment, David stuck his whole head in the noose. All Nathan had to do was give a pull. And that is exactly what he did in four words: “You are the man!” (page 201)
So far as I can tell, our well-known four-word English translation, “You are the man,” comes from just one Hebrew word: iysh, the Hebrew word for a male. The word, however, can also mean “whoever,” so we can picture Nathan looking into the eyes of the enraged king and simply stating “Man” but in a way that made it clear that David was the “whoever man” of the parable.
Such is the nature of courage. It was not slinking away from the tough assignment. It was not soft shoeing around the issue. It was stating just what David needed to hear. It was the courage that only comes from those who truly love us. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6).
But Nathan went on. I personally think he at least paused for a moment after saying, “You are the man” for effect, but there was more from God that the king needed to hear. The prideful monarch had gotten away with absolutely nothing. Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
Nathan did not speak in general terms. This was not an “all have sinned” moment. This was not a “I know you’ve done something wrong” type of conversation. Nathan spelled out exactly what David thought he had gotten away with. Verse 9: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.”
Amazing courage! David needed to have the truth spelled out. He needed to be brought down from a prideful place. He needed to be shown that, though he wore the crown, there was One who is the King of all Kings.
Remember, David did not know about the man in the parable who had stolen the sheep, though he was equitable and just. The Lord knows all that happens under His rule, around the world and around the clock.
David needed to remember his own words:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is to wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:1-12)
He would end that same psalm with the famous words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (verses 23-24).
We are not told when David penned the amazing words to that psalm, but they were possibly written some time after his downfall, when he had been made to remember that the Lord sees all and knows all. David’s pride was broken, but it took the courage of Nathan to follow God’s will to break it.
Courage is often confrontational, as we see in this great man Nathan. However, courage sometimes is displayed by the person in the background. It does not always draw the headlines. It does not always receive a parade or an award.
But one thing that is always true about courage is that it shows itself only when times are difficult. It is a heart that beats when the world has no heart.
The New Testament tells us that we are to be people of courage. In fact, to be cowardly is sinful and those who are cowardly are destined for hell (Revelation 21:8). Paul told his young protege Timothy, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). While God does not bring us arrogance, we know from Scripture that He does give confidence and courage if we will just rely on Him.
It is found in Scripture from beginning to end that God has always wanted His people to have a heart in their chest that beats with courage.
  • Moses to the people of Israel: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • Joshua’s message from the Lord: “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9).
  • David to Solomon, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
  • Isaiah to the people of God: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. … For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:10, 13).
  • Paul to Christians: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
The common theme of everything we see in Scripture about real courage is that it is not in ourselves. Nathan may have had to come before his monarch as an individual, but the Lord sent Nathan, the Lord told Nathan what to say, and there is no doubt that the Lord was with Nathan that day when he said to his monarch “You are the man.”
Too often, we are told to be courageous of our own doing. “Pull yourself together,” we are told. “You have to be strong for someone else,” we are told. Oh, we certainly play a part in courage, but the foundation and basis of our courage can never be in ourselves. True courage is being courageous for the ways of God only through relying on the strength and presence of God.
Courage does not mean we go with the flow. Courage is walking up to our monarch and saying “You are the man.” It is trusting that whatever is best to the glory of God will be the outcome because we have boldly stepped out for the Lord. It does not always get the headlines, but it certainly goes against the grain.
Courage…
     …is the single mom who works in an office where to get a promotion you have to dress immodestly and talk crudely, but she stays modest in speech and dress, living her life to help her children know real dignity.
     …is the daddy who is not ashamed to take his little girl on a date and show her what real manhood looks like by being the perfect gentleman and listening to her heart.
     …is the parent who knows more about their child’s GPA than they do the SEC.
     …is the eldership who sees numbers dwindling, but continues to do all they can to win the lost, except for compromising the Word of God.
     …is the preacher who refuses to use the “it’s just cultural” argument and continues to preach that God has given roles within the church that are to be respected and obeyed in submission, no matter what era of history we are living in.
     …is the wife who lives without nice cars and vacations so she can stay at home with her children and show them the love of God.
     …is the husband who goes to work every day and does without a man cave or boat so she can stay home.
     …is the teacher who will not teach evolution as fact, though the curriculum calls for it, but will stand up for the Truth.
     …is the soldier who does not just fight for his/her nation, but who fights as a soldier of the cross while in hostile lands.
     …is the congregation who will stand against the influence of homosexuality, even if it costs them a tax exemption or even their building.
     …is the university who always ensures it cares more about Biblical morality than about building money.
     …is the aged saint who refuses to let age or health keep him or her from teaching a lost soul through an outlet like World Bible School.
     …is the teenager who befriends the outcast and shows the love of Christ.
     …is the college student who, in this time of growth and exploration, hears different philosophies and tests all things, but who remembers that the standard is Scripture and not society, and so holds fast to what is good.
     …is the Christian who fights for his physical life through cancer treatments, but all the while helps others seek eternal life.
     …is the Bible school teacher who spends her Saturday nights cutting out tiny Josephs, though this world says those stories are just make believe.
     …is the couple who refused to let this world tear them apart, and are now holding hands in the nursing home.
You see, very few of us will ever get the opportunity to literally state to someone, “You are the man.”
But that is just one kind of courage. For most of us courage is living each day showing the strength, the resolve, the teaching, and the example of the Son of Man.

Episode 17: Romantic Dates on a Budget {Podcast}

(Player not working? Click here to listen on the blog.)

It is February, the month that contains Valentine’s Day. With love in the air, we are dedicating each of our four episodes this month to areas of love and respect that are needed in marriage.

In this week’s program, Adam and Leah share some ideas of how husbands and wives can continue to “woo” one another, even when dollars are a bit short. We hope you enjoy this practical, whimsical program.

Click to view program archives

Click to view program archives

Areas of Discussion

Babysitting

1. Swap with other families

2. Let an older lady/couple babysit

3. Offer babysitting at church

Eating

1. Cook together

2. Have a picnic

3. Go out, but just for dessert

Activities

1. Walk/jog together

2. Stream a movie

3. Use the bargain bin or borrow a movie

4. Search for free community nights/activities

Communication

1. Put the cell phones away!

Resources

Real Life Romance {Your Mom has a Blog}

10 Things You Can Do to Romance Your Partner on a Budget {Two of Us}

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Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

 

I’ll Fly Away, but My Possessions Won’t

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When I lead singing, I try to avoid burying my head in the song book. As I lead, I attempt to look around the room and sing most of the words from memory, only glancing down as I need to.

It’s a good idea, until you blank on the words, or realize too late that you missed something.

Recently, I was leading the great old hymn “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.” Thankfully, I don’t think anyone caught what I actually said, because it was close enough to the actual lyric that it probably sounded right.

What the song really says is, “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye / To Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions lie.”

What I ended that opening verse with were these words: “To Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions fly.”

Um…nope.

I love songs like “I’ll Fly Away” and others that remind us that we are going to heaven. I am regularly built up by the grand thought that there is something beyond this life that is far greater and perfectly glorious. I’m doing all I can to go to that wonderful “Home of the Soul” so I can be with my Father forever.

But while I may fly away, my possessions will not.

What I have in this life will still be here when I have left the land of the dying to enter the land of the living. All the things I have worked for will be left to someone else.

And, when the world ends, all that stuff will be burned up and destroyed.

Too many of us live as if our possessions are going to “fly away” just as we will when this life is over. We spend copious amounts of energy and effort building up all the niceties of life and worry and fret over taking care of those things.

But one day, none of that is going to matter. All that is going to matter is the answer to this question: “Where will my soul fly when this life is over?”

Only through Jesus can you have the best and most reassuring answer to that powerful question.

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“Thy Kingdom Come”

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I am above all people most blessed. I would not trade my life with any other person, no matter the circumstances. Having been raised in a Christian home in America by parents and grandparents who have been faithful to the Lord for years, I truly feel like I have been given the greatest opportunity for spiritual success of anyone I know.

I still have all my grandparents. They are all in their mid-80’s now, but outside of an irregular hindrance they are still able to attend the assembly three times a week. They have been a part of the greatest generation in our history. Their parents and grandparents helped to establish the America that once feared God, made decisions based on Bible truths, and worked an honest job for an honest wage.

My desire with this short article is to share with you some wisdom from my Grandma Dorothy. She has been teaching the same children’s Bible class for the last 35 years, and she still sends out church bulletins every week to people with special personal notes attached. I am one of the recipients of her notes. I am so blessed to have a grandmother who cares so much about me to take that kind of time for me, one of her nine grandkids.

I simply want to quote a part of her latest letter for your consideration. The reference here is in regard to some church problems that had been taking place in a particular congregation. She writes: “Too bad the church has to go that way, but I guess as long as man can do as he pleases and thinks he is smarter than God, this will be happening. I know I will be ok during my lifetime, but I know my great-grandchildren may need to be extra strong for what may be coming. So you teach them good! Maybe, just maybe there can be a turning around. Anyhow, the hereafter will be the same way as it was when Jesus set up His kingdom.”

I love my grandmother. There is so much wisdom in what she has to say. She has been a member of the church all her life, and she has seen the ups and down of the church and the effects of the changing culture. For me, two things that she hit upon are most worthy of remembrance. 1. We are not smarter than God; that is, our way is not better than His, even if we think so. 2. Jesus set up an eternal kingdom that will never change with regard to how it is structured and organized, how one enters it, how it abides and lives, and how it will forever stand.

Time is passing on. I am not a child anymore. These fleeting days continue and as I live in this temporal world I experience the loss of more and more things I once depended on and people I have loved. With each breath another earthly moment slips away and eternity is both nearer and dearer to my heart.

With these thoughts in mind I am so thankful that my Jesus set up an eternal kingdom. That kingdom is the church. That kingdom is my peace and my hope and my future. My Jesus is waiting at the right hand of the Father to take that kingdom home. I am so ready to sit down in that kingdom with all the saints and my dear loved ones.

Jesus once shared a prayer with His disciples because He was anticipating the coming kingdom. Although I know His prayer was realized when the kingdom came at Pentecost, I understand that the kingdom’s greatest moment still awaits.

With that sentiment, each day my heart and soul silently shout the words of my Savior –“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done! ” Amen.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28

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