Command your children to keep the way of the Lord…

We live in a spiritually soft age. That God uses means, particularly a child’s father’s commands, is understood today to be a betrayal of God’s grace. Yet, when it comes to soccer or SAT scores we readily understand the necessity of commanding our children. “No pain, no gain,” we tell them. Meanwhile, we make no demands on their conscience because we’ve been told that doing so will lead them to a mere outward conformity and no further. The message we are teaching our children is that sports requires discipline, obedience, rigor while the spiritual life is one of unprovoked, spontaneous, soft emotion. We no longer speak of the spiritual disciplines.

We’ve come to believe that when it comes to sports and academics our children will come to see the necessity of hard work and discipline, and, in the end, will enjoy the fruits of such discipline. But, when it comes to the spiritual life, the pursuit of God, the keeping of the way of the Lord, any rigor, any accountability, any discipline is a sure way to make our children hate God. The antinomians have won the day.

Read Genesis 18:19: “For I have chosen him (Abraham), so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

If those words had not been inspired by the Holy Spirit we’d be inclined to dismiss them as legalistic and harmful. But there they, exhorting fathers everywhere to command their households to keep the way of the Lord. It takes faith in God’s means to do that, especially when we’ve been taught to stay silent, to manipulate rather than command, to convince rather than exhort. Not so when it comes to football: 2-a-days, strict diet, proper hydration, watching tape, learning from mistakes, cardio work-outs, weight training, “rub some dirt on it and get back in the game, boy!” Sunday rolls around and Johnny wants to stay home from evening church: “OK, son. Rest up for next week’s practice.”

We are to command our children to keep the way of the Lord. This way comes with a playbook that must be studied and memorized, spiritual disciplines, weekly meetings, continuous prayer, working out (our salvation with fear and trembling), buffeting (our bodies to make them our slaves), law to be kept, confessions to be made when unkept, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ, Savior of sinners.

Fathers, your children need to hear your commands to keep the way of the Lord. What you command is what you believe to be of ultimate importance. God has made you a father, a man in authority. Use that authority to the glory of God.

Here’s some sobering help from men who did not suffer from the softness of our era: Continue reading

Anxiety is counterproductive…

broken-eggsSpurgeon put it this way…

Have you not found out yet—I have,—that the very anxiety, which arises through your being in a difficulty, unfits you to meet that difficulty?

You are like the servant with the basket of eggs on her head, who shakes her head because she is afraid her eggs will fall, and makes them fall by the very process of her trembling.

Take a fast from your iPhone…

When we think of fasting, we naturally and rightly think of abstaining from food. The purpose is not weight loss but to discipline the body for the purpose of prayer. Given the so-called busy-ness of our lives—made busy by all those leisure activities—perhaps it would be better to fast from other things in order to make time (sad way to put it, isn’t it?) for fellowship with our Father in heaven. Take a week-long fast from television (actually, just beat that idol into powder, mix it with water, drink it, and send it to the place where it belongs–Exodus 32:19-20). Take a day-long fast from the iPhone. Take a month-long fast from the Internet, Fox News, football, baseball, ESPN radio, Facebook (let’s see how many likes that gets), Twitter, Pinterest, Craigslist, texting, blogging…all for the purpose of prayer. Of course, discipline your body and deepen your dependence on God by fasting from food. Consider fasting from those time-consumers also. You may find you are not as busy as you think.

Some encouragement from Spurgeon:

“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall he impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:19-21).

And what is fasting for? That seems the difficult point. It is evidently… practiced oftentimes by our Lord, and advised by him to his disciples. Not a kind of religious observance, in itself meritorious, but a habit, when associated with the exercise of prayer, unquestionably helpful. I am not sure whether we have not lost a very great blessing in the Christian Church by giving up fasting….

Martin Luther, whose body, like some others, was of a gross tendency, felt as some of us do, that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, in another sense than the apostle meant it; and he used to fast frequently. He says his flesh was wont to grumble dreadfully at abstinence, but fast he would, for he found that when he was fasting, it quickened his praying. There is a treatise by an old Puritan, called, “The soul-fattening institution of fasting,” and he gives us his own experience that during a fast he has felt more intense eagerness of soul in prayer than he had ever done at any other time. Some of you, dear friends, may get to the boiling-point in prayer, without fasting. I do think that others cannot…

Spurgeon on church membership…

I know there are some who say, “Well, I’ve given myself to the Lord, but I don’t intend to give myself to any church.”  I say, “Now why not?”  And they answer, “Because I can be just as good a Christian without it.”  I say, “Are you quite clear about that?  You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient?  There’s a brick.  What is the brick made for?  It’s made to build a house.  It is of no use for the brick to tell you that it’s just as good a brick while it’s kicking about on the ground by itself, as it would be as part of a house.  Actually, it’s a good-for-nothing brick.  So, you rolling stone Christians, I don’t believe that you’re answering the purpose for which Christ saved you.  You’re living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live and you are much to blame for the injury you do.”

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:46)

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood, the gall and all the other bitterness are outdone. Here you may look as into a vast abyss—and though you strain your eyes and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom—it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable. This anguish of the Savior on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2133