Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Help! The Inmates Have Taken Over The Asylum!

Only 24 hours until Anna returns and brings life, color and joy back into the Hoffman house...I need to go...and I think give Christian a bath...or something...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

5 Myths About Divorce by Ken Sande

In the day and age we live in there are many "myths" that many Christians believe about this topic...yesterday I received this great article from Ken Sande author of the book, "Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide To Resolving Conflict."


Five Myths of Divorce
By Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries

I have noticed over the years that Christians who are in the process of seeking a divorce often use the same set of reasons to justify their decision to leave the marriage. I have heard the same excuses so often that I have wondered whether Satan has published a little booklet on how to justify divorce.

While Christians disagree about what constitutes legitimate grounds for divorce, it is clear that many Christians divorce for all the wrong reasons. We need people around us to speak truth to us and help us see our own blind spots so that we are not fooled by worldly wisdom or by the blindness in our own hearts. Perhaps you can play that role in the life of someone considering divorce. If you want to help them, you need to be prepared to respond to these excuses.

Myth #1
"When the love has gone out of a marriage, it's better to get divorced." Although this is the world talking, Christians buy into it. The basis of marriage is not feelings of love—in God's design, commitment is the basis of marriage, and love is the fruit. For more on God's design for marriage, see Paul Tripp's booklet Marriage: Whose Dream?

Myth #2
"It's better for the children to go through a divorce than to live with parents who fight all the time." Although parents in a truly unhappy marriage may sincerely believe this, it is usually a superficial rationalization. One way to test their sincerity is to ask them to read Judith Wallerstein's book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, which clearly articulates the many detrimental effects of divorce. If they still decide to go through with a divorce after reading these facts, they usually have to admit that it's not the children they are looking out for, but their own selfish desires.

Myth #3
"God led me to this divorce." I repeatedly hear people say, "I know the Bible teaches that divorce usually isn't God's will, but in this case God has given me a real peace that this is right." This statement reveals an improper understanding of spiritual guidance, which elevates a sense of "inner peace" to such a level that it can overrule the clear teaching of Scripture itself. This view of guidance must be specifically exposed and refuted.

One way to do so is to help people see that a sense of inner peace is not a conclusive sign of God's approval. I usually ask people whether they think Jesus felt inner peace in the Garden of Gethsemane. If they try to say yes, I take them to the Gospels and help them see that in fact he was trembling with apprehension and agony. If he had walked out the other side of the garden, he might have had a great sense of relief at escaping from the crucifixion, but in doing so he would have been turning his back on God's will for his life. In a similar way, divorce may promise immediate relief, but in the long run, it too is usually contrary to the will of God.

Myth #4
"Surely a loving God would not want someone to stay in such an unhappy situation." This myth is based on a humanistic presupposition that God's purpose in life revolves around me and my happiness. It is crucial to help suffering people understand that God has something far more important in mind for his people than pleasant lives. His purpose is to conform us to the likeness of his Son (Rom. 8:28-29). The Bible teaches that this requires pruning, melting, and purifying to burn away the dross in our lives, and this is often done through the furnace of suffering. Take them to Hebrews 11 or 1 Peter. The Bible contains many passages about the value and purpose of suffering. We can use those Scriptures to encourage people in their painful situations. For a good perspective on suffering, see Paul Tripp's booklet Suffering: Eternity Makes a Difference.

Myth #5
"I know it's wrong, but God is forgiving." You have probably heard this sort of statement from many different people. Its antidote is Deuteronomy 29:19-21, where Moses warns the Israelites sternly (my paraphrase), "If you presume that you can sin deliberately and then just say magic words and God will forgive you, how great will his wrath be upon you!" It is a frightful thing to sin deliberately. Point people to the example of King David, who willfully sinned against God. God forgave David, but he left consequences that would grieve David for the rest of his life. "The sword will never depart from your house" (2 Sam. 12:10, NIV). David's baby died, and his sons continued to kill each other. David had to bear that on his conscience to his dying day.

And how do people know that God will actually give them a repentant heart after they persist in willful disobedience (see Heb. 3:7-13; 12:16-17; Eph. 4:30; Prov. 28:14)? How can they be sure that God will not turn his face against them and remove his blessings from their lives (Heb. 10:31; 1 Pet. 3:7, 11-12)? Those considering a sinful divorce should not look ahead to a cheap forgiveness, but should turn around and do everything possible to seek reconciliation and a restoration of the marriage.

If you are a Christian who wants to be "salt and light" for the Lord, God will give you opportunities to graciously speak his truth into other Christians' lives. Understanding these excuses used to justify divorce will help you deal directly, lovingly, and biblically with people who are struggling. By God's grace, when true motives are revealed, people will then turn back to the Lord and his church for help.

C.J. Mahaney has entered bloggerdom!

Hey folks, just to let you know...CJ has finally succumbed to establishing his own blog spot, here is the link: Enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Grandpa Glen Died Today At 92 Years Of Age

Dear Friends,

As many of you know Anna has been out of town for the last week to visit with her grandfather, Glen. Anna left last Friday morning, the 18th to go and be with her grandfather as it appeared as though he was not going to be around much longer. I am so glad that Anna was able to go and visit with him one last time before he went home to be with the Lord. Their last week with Grandpa was a special one, with many tears shed. We are confident that he is with Christ now, as he confessed his faith and trust in Christ's work for him on the cross...and we are certain that Glen is not regretting his death now, as he is now in fellowship with His Savior and Lord.

As I think about Grandpa Glen, here are several things that come to mind that I need to apply and grow in. He provided for his grandchildren and his great grandchildren a compelling and godly example to follow. (I know that those who knew him more could add many more meaningful volumes to these comments, but his example to me in a couple of areas are particularly striking...but I want to share only the most important one.)

When I think of Grandpa Glen, I think of him doing one thing - affectionately holding his bride's hand. When you look at some married couples, you might be tempted to wonder how their relationship is - Grandpa did not leave anyone with any room for speculation. He loved his wife. For the past 17 years that I have known him the one thing that has struck me is how lovingly attentive he was to his wife of 70 years. To watch him, was to "go to school" on how one is to relate to one's wife. Rarely would one see Glen and Ethel together without seeing them holding hands and walking briskly down a shopping mall or hiking trail together. He was a very tender hearted and kind man. I don't know of a man who more displayed gentleness and kindness than Glen. He is one who - through his love for his wife - displayed a true example to follow of what being a man really is. We will miss Grandpa Glen, but we will also be forever grateful to God for the example he left behind. What a picture and a legacy to follow! I could only hope and pray that if I live to be 92 that what will be pressed upon one of my grandchildren's spouses is how greatly I loved and cared for my bride. What a man! What a legacy! What a picture to follow!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Walk Of Forgiveness: "As God In Christ Forgave You"

Eph. 4: 29-32 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

As we have begun our series in 1 John, one of the chief things we see John promoting in his letter is how we are to walk with one another in biblical love. John doesn't encourage us to do this based out of mere moralism...that we are to love because it is good to do...but instead, our love and how we walk with one another is a reflection of the Gospel itself.

Below, is an excerpt from Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide To Resolving Conflict. I wanted to share this with you as I found it particularly encouraging as we seek to really put "feet" on what it looks like to biblically love one another as sinners. In relationship with one another there will always be this constant reality - we will not only sin - but sin against one another. In light of sins that take place in our relationships with one another there is always that question of how do we walk out biblical forgiveness, so that we can be truly reconciled to one another? However, as Paul reminds us from Ephesians 4, there was a particular way that God in Christ has forgiven us - and we are to do so to one another "as" God in Christ has done so with us.

Here Mr. Sande, gives us some practical advice with a very practical illustration for how this one form of love, called "forgiveness" can be walked out in further ways...of restoring trust to the relationship.

"Forgiven, But Not Trusted?"
"Loving actions can do much more than change your feelings; they can also communicate in unmistakable terms the reality of your forgiveness and your commitment to reconciliation. Thomas Edison apparently understood this principle. When he and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb, it took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb. One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to a young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room. As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. Instead of rebuking the boy, Edison reassured him and then turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb. When it was completed several days later, Edison demonstrated the reality of his forgiveness in the most powerful way possible. He walked over to the same boy, handed him the bulb, and said, "Please take this up to the testing room." Imagine how that boy must have felt. He knew that he didn't deserve to be trusted with this responsibility again. Yet, here it was, being offered to him as though nothing had happened. Nothing could have restored this boy to the team more clearly, more quickly, or more fully. How much more should those of us who have experienced reconciliation with God be quick to demonstrate our forgiveness with concrete actions" (p. 222-223).

Food for Thought from Peacemakers Ministry:
One of the central (and often most neglected) elements of forgiveness is offering our trust again to the one who failed us. In some cases, it is entirely appropriate and necessary for us to set restrictions on a person who has violated trust (for example, prohibiting an adult who has hurt children from being alone with other children in the future, even when the adult is forgiven). But in many cases, withholding trust from those we forgive can be just a subtle form of continuing punishment or failure to truly reconcile. Isn't it good that God doesn't require that we "earn His trust" when we fail Him? Each day He gives us opportunities to experience His restoration and [a personal relationship with Him], not just His forgiveness.

Thank you Lord for the gospel that reconciles us not only to Him in the legal fashion of justification, but to Him relationally - in adoption as His children as well! May we walk this road of the gospel out with one another as well! We were once His enemies, but now because of the Gospel, we are now seated at His table!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Joy of Giving Our Lives Away To The One Who Gives Us Everything!

This morning we read this from Spurgeon's "Checkbook of the Bank of Faith" which is an outstanding little devotional to help set our hearts on the promises of God. As a church as we seek to "Love, Live & Give Gospel," may we walk this life out doing as such...and may we not "care about [ourselves] till we grow morbid." :) Enjoy giving your life away! Take care...


Proverbs 11: 24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,and one who waters will himself be watered.

"If I carefully consider others, God will consider me, and in some way or other He will recompense me. Let me consider the poor, and the Lord will consider me. Let me look after little children, and the Lord will treat me as His child. Let me feed His flock, and He will feed me. Let me water His garden, and He will make a watered garden of my soul. This is the Lord's own promise; be it mine to fulfill the condition and then to expect its fulfillment.
I may care about myself till I grow morbid; I may watch over my own feelings till I feel nothing; and I may lament my own weakness till I grow almost too weak to lament. It will be far more profitable for me to become unselfish and out of love to my Lord Jesus begin to care for the souls of those around me. My tank is getting very low; no fresh rain comes to fill it; what shall l dot I will pull up the plug and let its contents run out to water the withering plants around me. What do I see? My cistern seems to fill as it flows. A secret spring is at work. While all was stagnant, the fresh spring was sealed; but as my stock Rows out to water others the Lord thinketh upon me. Hallelujah!"

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ten Questions To Ask At The Start Of A New Year

Dr. Donald Whitney, who came and spoke at our church several years ago has now become famous for his "10 Questions To Ask..." lists. Here is one that my lovely wife sent on to me, that we are going to be going through together entitled, "Ten Questions To Ask At The Start Of A New Year or On Your Birthday." It is a great set of questions as we set out to focus our hearts and minds on God's purposes for us throughout 2008. Click here for a direct link to the list as well as Dr. Whitney's website, where you can order his books, and read other articles he has written.