Take Your Child to Funerals

child and funeral

Take your child to funerals is not a biblical command but an encouragement based on wisdom. Here are three reasons to take your child to funerals.

We should take our children to funerals because funerals are more fruitful than birthday parties. Ecclesiastes 7:2 states plainly, ” It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” It is natural and understandable to want to protect your child from the pain of death. It is wicked to rub their noses in the death of a grandparent, parent, or even their own death. Instead, what we want to do is help our children think about death. In the house of mourning, at a funeral, we gain a perspective on life that pin the tail on the donkey can never give. Grandparents, parents, friends, and siblings will die. Your child will die. Help your child be prepared for it by going to funerals and talking about death and resurrection.

We should take our children to Christian funerals because at these funerals there will be a great deal said about the gospel and the resurrection of the dead. We do not want our children to experience death and then grieve as those who have no hope. It is our calling to inform, teach, and talk to our children about death and resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). There is nothing better than the funeral of a believer to help us think and talk about hope, while grieving. Additionally, the funeral of a known church member is a safe place to process death. Your child will see grief and have a sense of loss but not with the force of the death of a beloved grandparent or parent. Prepare your child to walk with the Good Shepherd through the valley of the shadow of death by walking there when the shadow is small. The day is coming when the shadow of death will feel like a thick darkness. Prepare them for that day. Go to funerals and talk.

Lastly, we should take our children to funerals because genuine love for our brothers and sisters causes us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). It is good for our children to see us celebrate other’s wins. Go to that party and pin the tail on the donkey! But it is also good for our children to see us grieve other’s loses.  Do not grieve as those who have no hope. Do not bring attention to your tears. Love your brothers and sisters. Share their grief. Hug their necks. Show your child that part of what it means to be the church is you are never alone.

Take your children to funerals.

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The Good Gift of Sex

I’m publishing my upcoming sermon here so parents can read it for themselves and decide if it is appropriate for their children.

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8                                                   9/11/2016

Main Point: Sex and sexuality are not ultimate; God is ultimate

In 1991 Salt-n-Pepa sang the introduction to this sermon.

Let’s talk about sex for now
To the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
‘Cause that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it’s dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin

Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex

Now, Salt-N-Pepa are not inviting us into a conversation about God’s design for sex or sexuality. Salt-N-Pepa want us to embrace the world’s view of sex. Somethings have changed drastically since 1991 but one thing hasn’t changed. God has a good design for sex. Without being childish or prudish we need to navigate the rough personal and cultural waters of sexuality.

Let’s begin with truth that will help us find and keep the right perspective, Philippians 3:1-11

I. Sex and sexuality are not ultimate: God is ultimate

The Apostle Paul is here encouraging us to affirm and then begin to live in pursuit of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Jesus is better than your nationality. Jesus is better than your spirituality. Jesus is better than your reputation. Jesus is better than anything you could do or gain in this world.

  • Sex is rubbish compared to Christ (Phil 3:1-8; 1 Cor 7:1)

There does not appear to be any good reason to think the Apostle Paul disagrees with the Corinthian’s statement in 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’” 1 Corinthians 7 makes the case that it is good to be single. It is good to be single and therefore it is good to not have sex.

Look at 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 (read it). Paul is single and expresses his desire for everyone to be single. Paul is not affirming a Corinthian hook up culture. He is affirming the goodness of the single life but he also realizes the celibate life is not for everyone. Marriage is for some people and singleness is for some people. Remember, being single is good. Look over at 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

The goodness of the single life is the ability to be devoted solely to the Lord. The goodness of the single life is to be more available to pursue and know the all surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. With the Apostle’s call to be single, his deliberate choice to not marry, let’s turn back over to Philippians 3:7-8 (read it).

The Apostle Paul had the right to take a wife (1 Cor 9:5) but he intentionally gave up that right in order that he might be fully devoted to the pursuit of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Paul did not need a woman in order to be a man. He didn’t need someone to complete him. He found Christ to be more than enough. In fact, foregoing a wife, children, and sex was counted as rubbish compared to the greatness of Jesus Christ. You do not need a spouse in order to be complete or happy or fully human. You need Jesus Christ. In the pursuit of Christ it is crucial to be on guard.

  • Beware of the enslaving power of your appetites (Phil 3:17-21; 2 Tim 3:1-5)

We were in Philippians 3:8. Now look across the page to Philippians 3:17-21 (read it).

Their god is their belly. They are ruled by their appetites. Think about it this way, what do you have to have in order to be safe and happy? For some it is new clothes. Others need to make a big sell in order to feel happy. Some need another round, another hit, or another pill. Still others need sweets, the prospect of a vacation, or their family in order to feel content and secure. Now, it should be no surprise to hear that some people need sex or pornography in order to feel safe and happy. What do you want? What is your god?

So how do you know if something good like rich food, family, or sex is starting to take over and enslave you? If you have to have it to be happy, or, if you are only happy when you have it, then you are most likely enslaved. If you can’t sleep without that person or that thing then you are most likely enslaved. If you can’t thank God for it, or if you have stopped thanking God for it, then you might be enslaved.

Married and single alike, will face times of sexual temptation. Alongside a deepening joy in Jesus Christ, what can we do?

II. We need to understand God’s good purposes for making us sexual persons

  • Sex is for procreation (Gen 1:27-28)

Adam and Eve were created naked and not ashamed (Gen 2:25). Look at Genesis 1:27-28 (read it)

After blessing them, the first command God gives them is to make babies; be fruitful and multiply. God made us male and female in order that a husband and wife would have children. Outside of the clear biblical prohibitions of homosexuality (1 Cor 6:9-10), there is also the common sense understanding that homosexuality is unnatural because it cannot produce children. It is good for husbands and wives to multiply. Therefore, deliberate childlessness and homosexuality are wrong. Sex is for procreation and

  • Sex is for unity (Gen 2:23-25; 1 Cor 6:16-18)

Look over at Genesis 2:23-25 (read it).

A man shall leave his father and his mother and unite himself to his wife. The husband and wife become a new family. There is a level of intimacy shared between a husband and wife which has no competitors. It is a sign of the fall that dogs have become man’s best friend. A man’s best friend is his wife, or at least should be and their union is typified mainly when the two become one flesh. A lack of unity, bitterness and resentment, will hinder a husband and wife coming together. Sex is for procreation, unity, and

  • Sex is for shared joy

Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (read it).

With the ideas that the wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s body belongs to his wife, let’s read Philippians 2:1-7. Husband, demand nothing from your wife that is selfish or conceited. Care for her. Wife, withhold nothing from your husband as an act of rivalry. Care for him. Husband and wife come together to serve one another. Count the other more significant than yourself. Find ways to care for one another and enter into one another’s joy. Pursue unity, through forgiveness and trust. This unity will help fuel your shared joy. Sex is for procreation, unity, shared joy, and

  • Sex is a God-given gift to be richly enjoyed (1 Tim 4:1-5; Song of Solomon)

Turn in your bibles to 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (read it). Some people were forbidding marriage and some foods. God created these things to be received with thanksgiving. These things are good. Sex is a great blessing given by God. It is good to be married and to have sex.

The Song of Solomon is an entire book of the bible written as a celebration of the union of husband and wife. The book is filled with mutual affirmation as they encourage one another. The book is filled with mutual carefulness for one another. The Song of Solomon is a biblical celebration of the goodness of sexuality. Sex is good and marriage is good

  • Pursue the good gained from marriage (1 Cor 7:2; 5)

There are seasons when husbands and wives should devote themselves to the Lord with an undivided devotion. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:5. There can be short seasons when husbands and wives agree to abstinence in order to devote that relationship energy and investment into spiritual pursuits. These seasons of deprivation need to be agreed upon, few, and far between. Because marriage is a God-given means of fighting against immorality. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband.”

Men will be tempted with sexual immorality. Women will be tempted with sexual immorality. Get married, love one another, serve one another, and care for one another. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, “To the unmarried and the widow I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. One reason marriage is good is because it is a God-given means of fighting against sexual immorality.

Another reason marriage is good is security. Marriage provides the relational security for the powerful intimacy of sex. Marriage provides the long term commitment to know one another and forgive one another and reconcile with one another.

Sex is powerful; use it carefully. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 the Apostle Paul warns against sexual immorality. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to flee from sexual immorality because every other sin a person commits is outside this body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. The physical, emotional, and spiritual union which occurs in the act of sex is safe only in marriage. That union is safe only in marriage.

Sex is like atom smashing. In an atom smasher two particles spin rapidly and then collide creating a phenomenal amount of energy. You don’t want scientists to be smashing atoms anywhere they want with whomever they want. The energy of atom smashing requires a safe place. The intimacy and union of sex is a good and wonderful thing which requires the safety of marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 tells us, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterer.” Value marriage. Marriage is good and beautiful in its own right. And in marriage be sure to keep the marriage bed pure. As Christ is pure to his church, so husbands be pure to your wife. As the church is pure to Christ, wives be pure to your husband.

III. How to pursue holiness

  • Sex is ruined by shame; pursue holiness in your marriage

Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. Then they sinned against God, introduced selfishness, and suddenly wanted to hide from God and hide their nakedness from one another. It’s not that Adam and Eve became ugly in the fall. It makes more sense that Adam and Eve became shameful and untrusting in the fall. Adam and Eve hid from God because their sin made a separation between themselves and God. Adam and Eve covered their nakedness from one another because their sin made a separation between husband and wife. Where there is unrepented sin there can be no trusting unity. If your wife doesn’t trust you, don’t expect her to unite with you. If you have sin in your life and feel shameful about that sin it is hard to give yourself to your spouse. Pursue personal holiness in your marriage. Repent and believe the gospel in your marriage. Reconciliation with God and one another will remove the shame, increase the trust, and invite intimacy. Do you want to have a God-honoring sexuality? Repent and believe the gospel. Here is a practical strategy for holiness.

ANTHEM is an acronym from John Piper to help men and women fight for sexual purity. The link is at the bottom of your notes as well as on the church facebook page. We don’t have time to unpack the details. I want to introduce you to the strategy of A- avoid. Flee those situations and avoid those situations like TV shows, books, and solitary time. A- Avoid. N- say no. Tell yourself no. You have 5 seconds before that temptation lodges itself in your mind. A- Avoid. N- say No. T- turn. Turn your mind to that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Avoid, say no, turn, and H- hold. Hold onto that which is good. Do not let go. Set your eyes on heavenly things and keep them there. Endure as long as it takes. Avoid, say no, turn, hold, and E- enjoy. Turn from sin and hold onto to the good until you gain the all surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord. Be unashamed of your pursuit of joy in Christ. And M-move. Do not let yourself get idle. Immorality thrives in idle times. Check it out yourself it is good and helpful. Finally,

  • Advice for parents
    1. Invite questions and carefully answer questions

Spend time together talking.

I love the question, where did I come from? When asked, one mom thought it was time for the talk but the child was asking about the previous town they lived in. Be sure you are answering the question actually being asked.

Regularly ask your child if there is anything he/she wants to talk about. When it turns to sexual matters, use terms like loving, touching, and acting like husband and wife. Adultery is when a husband lives with another woman and treats her like his wife when they aren’t married. Fornication is when two people who aren’t married come together and act like they are married. Pornography is when a person looks at another person and dreams about being married when they aren’t.

As your child matures then explain your answers appropriately. The most important thing here is to be with your child talking about things that matter. If you build a relationship where you can talk about mattering things like fear, death, God, and joy then it will be more natural to talk about sexual things.

Here is the last piece of advice

  1. Celebrate the development of your child

Celebrate milestones in your child’s life. As a church, we celebrate the milestones of birth, graduating out of the nursery, graduating out of children’s worship time, and baptism. Parent, you can make a big deal out of turning ten and turning sixteen. Give them a biblical Christ-centered understanding of their bodies, sexuality, and being responsible. Dads, take your sons for a day away and talk appropriately about why bodies develop. Mom, you can do the same with your daughters. There are all kinds of helps out there for having these types of talks and setting up milestone ceremonies. Take advantage of each new stage to celebrate and teach your child.

Parents and church, we need to, we must, teach and model the good and godly way. Let us work and forgive and love so that each of us knows how to enjoy God and enjoy others for the glory of God and the good of others.

[1] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/anthem-strategies-for-fighting-lust

Parenting and Gender

Text: Various                                                              9/4/2016

Main Point: The LORD is our salvation and God.

I. Parents, worship and follow God, lead your children

Delighting yourself in God is the best thing for your own life, as well as the best thing for your marriage and family.

  • Your priorities are God first, marriage, and then family

Your relationship with God is foundational and will outlast your marriage. Your love for, and devotion to God, gives purpose and strength for your relationships with others. If you are happy in God, you can be happy in any situation. Hebrews 10:34 is a powerful invitation for you and I to set our affections on God. Turn over to Hebrews 10:34 and look at how these regular ole men and women responded to having their houses and things confiscated.

“For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34).

What type of person joyfully accepts the plundering of his property? Those who joyfully accept the plundering of their property are those people who are right now satisfied with the prospect of eternal life with God. The experience of joy in the presence of God now, alongside the hope of the fullness of joy in the future, cause these regular ole pew sitting Christians to joyfully accept the plundering of their property.

How did they get there? How do we get there? Look back at Hebrews 10:19-25 (read it).

God wants to meet with you and fill you with joy. How do we meet with him? By believing he exists and rewards those who seek him (Heb 11:6). We meet with God through the forgiving and purifying work of Jesus Christ. We meet with him knowing that in difficulty, God is faithful. We meet with him because we have brothers and sisters encouraging us to keep going after God.

Listen, your spouse and children and job and hobby are an insufficient fuel for your soul. Christ alone can strengthen and satisfy you for life and marriage. Seek to work John 15:5 deep into every aspect of life. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “apart from [him] we can do nothing.” Apart from Christ, our bread and drink, we cannot live lives of joyful self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of others. Without Christ, the requirements of God, marriage and family will destroy you. With Christ, the burdens become light (Mt 10:28).

Your relationship with God will outlast your spouse and your relationship with your spouse will outlast your children. Be sure your love and devotion to your child never replaces your second love, love for your spouse. Our goal as parents is to launch our children out into the world. We want to help our children find their place in God’s work of redemption throughout this big world. For some children this plan will involve marriage. For other children this plan will involve singleness. Either way, we want our children to be healthy productive contributing adults. If you are the vine and your adult child is the branches then you have a problem. Also, if your child is the vine and you are the branches then you have a problem.

  • Beware of the idol of children

Your child was not made for you; to satisfy you, to be your identity, or to be your life. You will crush your child if you try to make him that powerful. Your child can not be your God or be your friend like your spouse. Our goal is to get our children to God, not get our children to like us. Plus, as a parent you will have to do and say unpopular things for the good of that child. If your happiness and self-worth are dependent upon the loving affirmation of that child, then you will not be able to do and say those hard and helpful things. God created the parent role with discipline and admonition built in. Satisfied with God, happy in God, you will be able to lovingly, patiently, and graciously point your child to Christ.

The gospel must reshape our parenting. We are loved, liked, affirmed, and celebrated by God in Christ. Christ is the vine that feeds us. Satisfied and safe in Christ, we are equipped to correct and train up our children with love, patience, and great compassion.

The gospel must reshape our discipline and devotion. Read your bible every day asking God to show you why you should depend on Christ. Memorize and meditate every day on Scripture that prove the sufficiency of Christ. Remember, how do people change? If you see that your priorities are out of whack, how do you change? Change starts with our thinking. You will learn how to trust Christ in your everyday situations when you first know why Jesus is trustworthy. Parents, worship and follow Jesus Christ. Then, out of the fullness of God, lead your children. Let’s get very practical now

II. Parents, strive to be helpful in everything you do (Col 3:20)

Turn over to Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Now parents, if children are expected to obey in everything, don’t you think it’s fair for us to be helpful in everything? We must strive to give them only things that are helpful and worth obeying. Mom and dad, how often do you exploit the willingness of your child? How often do we demand or command the unnecessary? Is everything you expect of your child helpful?

I want to give you a profound question which will radically change the way you parent. This single question will shake the very foundation of your decision making and school choices and extracurricular activities. Parents, are you ready to write this down? Grandparents, are you ready to share this profound wisdom with your adult children? Singles and empty-nesters, are you ready to encourage the families in this church? Here is the question to ask concerning any issue with your child: Is this helpful? Ask, is this helpful? And then force yourself to clearly define how this thing is helpful. The more helpful something is the more it should be prioritized and protected. Here is why we should constantly ask, “Is this helpful?”

  • The duty of a parent is to always do good (Gal 6:10)

Turn back to Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Another way of asking, “Is this helpful?” is to ask, “Is this good?”.  Is my doing this, a doing good to my child? Striving to be satisfied with God, building a strong marriage, we ask “how can I do good to my child?” Part of the answer is to spend time alone with God in refueling prayer. Part of the answer is to spend time alone with your spouse to strengthen that relationship and come up with a united parenting plan of attack. Part of the answer is to give yourself to your child. Fueled by Christ and united to your spouse, give yourself to your child. Turn off your cell phone and learn what makes your child tick. What does your child enjoy? What is your child afraid of? Knowing the personality of your child, what should you be praying happens in his/her life? Go for a walk and hold hands. Play a video game. Together, go help a neighbor in need. Together, go do something kind to someone who is not in need. Do homework with your child by asking your child to teach you what she is learning. Regularly eat dinner without any technology. Play a board game or go fishing

One of the best ways to do your child good is by regularly engaging in family worship. Family worship is simple but so difficult: read, sing, pray. Work on and talk about our fighter verse during the meal. Do a short bible reading from our daily bible reading plan. Use youtube to sing one of the songs from that week’s worship gathering. Then pray for one another. Read, sing, pray and do your child good. But there is a problem in all this

  • Remind yourself constantly that the fall happened (2 Tim 3:16-17)

The fact that sin has warped every part of who I am means I am incompetent. Parents, we are incompetent. We need to be made competent by the Gospel and the Word (John 15:5). Some days I am going to resent the family dinner and despise family worship. Because of the fact that I still struggle with sin, I’m going to struggle to be a joyful parent. I often desire the wrong things. Give yourself the same grace you give others who struggle. Since the fall happened, you are going to be a bad parent. Repent of your sins, trust in Jesus, go ask for forgiveness, and keep leading your child.

I’ve given you 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in the notes. Let’s look there for some good parenting advice. Because of the fall

  1. Parents, use the Word to teach

Because of the fall, your child does not know God. Use the Word to teach. The reason we read the bible, sing, and pray is so that our children will know God like we do. But we don’t just introduce them to concepts on a page. No, more than that we want to show them how these truths on these pages cause us to keep reading, keep singing, and keep praying. In careful and appropriate ways, show them your struggles. That means when you come across something difficult in the bible don’t pretend it’s easy. When it’s your time to pray, ask God to help you with what he has commanded. Use the word to teach your child to know God.

  1. Parents, use the Word for reproof.

A reproof is a statement that something is wrong. The flashing lights of a police car, a referee’s yellow flag, these are reproofs. Because of the fall, your child is going to do the wrong thing. The fall, your rebellion from God, is the reason you do wrong things. We need to be restored to God and kept from danger. We need the Word to reprove us. How then, do we use the word to reprove our children? Well I’ve found it really helpful to be hypocritical, condescending, and mean. My children love it when I yell at them in Jesus’ name with chapter and verse. No, they hate it. It’s no good.

Parents, if you only or mostly use the Word when your child has done something wrong or something you don’t like, then you are misusing your authority and God’s Word. God has not given us his Word so that we can avoid bad stuff. God has given us his Word so that we can know and enjoy him. Knowing him we know what to avoid. Knowing him we know what is good. Think back over the last week with your child. What is the ratio of using Scripture to warn your child and using Scripture to encourage your child? How much Scripture pointed away from sin and how much Scripture pointed to God? How much law did you give and how much gospel did you give? We must reprove ourselves and our children but always in connection with a desire to gain more of God. Use the word for reproof and

  1. Parents, use the Word for correction.

Correction builds on reproof. Reproving is telling them what is wrong while correction is teaching them how to correct what is wrong. Be on guard against pointing out the wrong without giving patient instruction regarding how to do it properly. Yes, you should not let your child speak to you, an adult, a sibling, or another human that way. Reprove that comment. But then correct it. What is the gracious way to disagree or express disappointment or argue for your way? The fall happened. Correct your child and

  1. Parents, use the Word for training in righteousness (Eph 6:4)

Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Dads, one of the best ways to raise an angry resentful child is to leave him to figure it out on his own. Another way to raise an angry resentful child is to bully him into doing what you want him to do. But if you want to lead your child to happiness, if you want to strengthen your relationship with your child, then give him discipline and instruction. Train him. Dads, you can’t be a personal trainer who does all the work for your child and you must not be that obese coach who runs his players while eating a snickers bar. Find ways, according to the needs and personality of your child, to get into life for teaching and training. And remember, your child is not like you. Part of loving your child is learning to like what he/she likes.

Train your child to love God, to pray, to forgive, to take responsibility. Teach your child how to believe the gospel. Instruct your son how to treat a woman. Help your daughter know how to love a man. This leads us to where we left off last week. Because the fall has effected gender, you need to teach your biological male how to be a man and you need to teach your biological female how to be a woman.

III. The gospel and parenting boys and girls

Kevin Deyoung, a pastor in Michigan, puts the gender issue in stark terms for parents, “Few issues are more important and more essential than helping one’s child navigate puberty and come to a healthy sense of sexual boundaries and sexual identity.”[1]

  • You should assume nothing

Parents, do not assume your child knows how to stand firm in the gospel just because your child is hearing the gospel in Sunday School, AWANA, and this worship gathering.

Parents, do not assume just because the biology is there that the right understanding of gender will be there. It is your role as mom or dad to teach your child and instruct your child. The fall has misshapen your child’s understanding of gender and sexuality. God has given you the role of teaching what is true and good. This means you must teach your biological male to be a man and you must teach your biological female how to be a woman.

  • Teach and model biblical manhood and womanhood

Here is a definition of manhood which fits the boy who loves to wrestle and hunt as well as the boy who loves to sew and cook. Real men, being purified by Christ, reject passivity, lead courageously, love sacrificially, and seek a heavenly reward.[2] Start there with your boys. What about girls?

Here is a definition of womanhood which fits the girl who loves to sparkle as well as the girl who loves to hunt and play sports. Real women, being purified by Christ, reject fearfulness (1 Peter 3:6), respect godliness (Eph 5:33), and seek what is virtuous (1 Tim 2:9-15).

Older men must model manhood and dads you need to intentionally build relationships with other model men. Older women must model womanhood and moms you need to intentionally build relationships with other model women. Model biblical gender and encourage biblical gender.

Parents, regularly tell your child, “I am glad God gave you to me.” Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, encourages us to look at our daughters and tell them, “I’m glad God made you a girl and you do the girl thing really well.” Look your sons in the eye and tell them, “I’m glad God made you a boy and you do the boy thing really well.” Step it up with age. “I’m glad God made you a man and you do the man thing really well.” “I’m glad God made you a girl and you do the woman thing really well.” I’m not encouraging you to lie. I’m encouraging you to be involved in your children’s lives and where you see biblical manhood or womanhood, celebrate it.

Singles, couples without children, and empty nesters, the families of this church need your help. Where you see the boys and girls, the youth, of this church exhibiting biblical manhood and womanhood celebrate it. And set the example. I want my daughters, I want your sons, to have a head full of everyday run of the mill wonderfully God-glorifying examples of manhood and womanhood. Singles, couples without children, and empty nesters, model biblical manhood and womanhood. The boys and girls of this church need you.

[1] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2016/04/08/safe-schools-gender-non-conformity-and-the-death-of-common-sense/ accessed 8/26/2016

[2] I added “love sacrificially” to Robert Lewis’s definition of manhood.

The Good Gift of Gender

Text: Genesis 1:27                                                      8/28/2016

Main Point: God made us male and female.

Fighter verse- Philippians 4:8

At this point in our worship gathering we give special attention to the reading of God’s Word and the pursuit of its meaning. It is my goal to help you understand what is true and then, by faith in Jesus Christ, we help one another bring our thinking and living into agreement with the truth. It is an awesome calling and, I pray, a benefit to you.

I will confess a personal struggle this week with how to preach the truth of God’s plan for gender. Should I offer you a biblical response to the gender confusion of our day? Do we need to solve the nature verses nurture debate? Should I focus mainly on God’s creation plan for gender or the effects of the fall on gender? Should parents intentionally shape or reshape the gender identities of their children? If parents should shape gender identity, how should gender look? What should parents do? Then there is the gospel call to be transformed and this surely relates to the idea of gender. How does the power of the gospel form biblical manhood and womanhood? There is much to be said and I cannot say it all in 30 minutes. So, my goal today is to start the conversation. Additionally, I have written some questions for further discussion, as well as compiled a resource list. You can find those on the church blog. Go to http://www.mambrino.org, click learn, then click blog. You’ll find the questions and resources there.

Our main point today is simple: God made us male and female. The fall of all mankind into sin, and then our subsequent redemption in Christ, make gender no simple matter. “Follow the biological road,” is good advice and so is “save at least 10% of your paycheck,” “don’t eat too much,” and “save sex for marriage.” We are thankful for good simple wisdom but we also need the strength to obey. So we will end today with a look at the gospel and gender. Let’s begin in the beginning, with Genesis 1:26-31.

I. God’s creation plan for gender

  • God created male and female (Gen 1:27)

In Genesis 1:27, the terms male and female are biological references. God created them man and woman; male and female. The male and female bodies were created with separate functions and abilities prior to the fall. One needs only look back to the Olympics to understand a basic biological fact: men and women are different. You can control diet and education, you can teach the unisex myth, but Usain Bolt is still going to outrun every woman on the face of the earth. The obvious biological differences go further than strength and speed. Numerous peer reviewed scientific studies demonstrate the biological differences between the male and female minds. I must point you to the helpful book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, for a list of those studies. Instead of reviewing the science, I will remind you of two very important aspects of gender which must be carefully defended. First, males and females are different. The unisex ideal is in fact a myth. No amount of gender reeducation will overcome the biological differences. Second, males and females are equal. A male is no more valuable than a female.

A basic principle of the Christian worldview is the deliberate creation of male and female sexes. But what is the purpose? Let’s move

  • Towards a biblical understanding of gender roles (Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 16:13-14; Eph 5:22-6:4; Col 3:18-21; 1 Tim 2:8-15; Titus 2:1-6)

Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 both affirm the biblical wisdom that men should look like men and women should look like women. Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Timothy 2, and Titus 2 all encourage women to prioritize certain functions and men to prioritize other functions. These differences are born out of biology and God’s purposes for the sexes. It would be simple to say men are only responsible for earning an income and women are only responsible for raising children but this is not a biblical ideal. The Proverbs 31 woman earns an income while Ephesians 6:4 explicitly tells fathers to bring up children. Earning a wage or keeping the home are not gender exclusive.

Biblical gender roles are broader than men earn the money and women cook supper. Let’s build onto men should look like men and women should look like women. Here’s our addition: men should act like men and women should act like women. What do men do and what do women do? Basically, men take the leadership role and women take the supportive role. This doesn’t mean women can’t lead any more than it means men can’t be helpers.

Let’s look at Genesis 2:18. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Ephesians 5:24 builds on the gender role distinctions by instructing a wife to submit to her husband. These two passages, taken out of context, could lead people to believe a husband’s role is to be the boss and the wife’s role is to do what he says. This is patently false. Genesis 2 goes on to describe how Adam cherished his wife. Genesis 2:23 describes woman being created from man and draws this conclusion: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” A man values his wife above all other relationships. Ephesians 5 goes on to instruct the husband to love his wife like Christ, which means sacrifice yourself for her good. Ephesians 5:29 explains the natural way to think about caring for your wife is to nourish and cherish her like Christ does the church.

When we say a man leads we mean a man takes the initiative to exercise dominion over all of creation in ways that value and advance others. When we say a woman helps a man we mean a woman looks for ways to help men take the initiative and exercise dominion for the good of others. Men lead in ways that value and cherish and serve and advance women, while women help men lead in ways which do good to all. God’s purpose in creating biological males was to bless all of creation with strong servants who sacrifice self for the good of others. God’s purpose in creating biological females was to bless all of creation with cherished helpers who encourage and follow the good leadership of their husbands. But things have gone wrong.

II. The fall of man radically effects gender (Gen 3; 6:12; Jer 17:9; Rom 1:18-32; 5:12)

I have given you several references in the notes. We don’t have time to cover them all today. I want to give them to you so you can track these things down and make sure what I am saying is accurate. Let’s press on.

  • It is crucial to affirm and understand the fall

I use the words affirm and understand because it is not enough to simply agree with a truth. We need to understand how that truth is meant to shape our thinking and living.

Adam and Eve were created with a natural inclination to trust God. However, this natural inclination to trust God was not an iron-clad attribute of human life. Adam and Eve were created trusting God but with the potential to doubt. What I’m saying is Adam and Eve possessed a free-will which could be tempted to disobey God. Their default was to trust God. Unfortunately, this default of trust was not unshakeable. Their weakness was exploited by Satan who tempted them to doubt God’s goodness. In fact, Adam and Eve were easily swayed to think God should not be trusted. Apparently it only took a few moments and a few words to convince Adam and Eve that God’s ways were not good ways. Adam and Eve rebelled against God and chose death over life. Humanity’s rebellion is what we call “the fall” and the fall brought death. This death is a two-fold death; it is a spiritual death and a physical death. The fall of man into sin warped the natural inclination of humans. It was once natural to trust God, but now it is natural to doubt God and his good ways.

1 Corinthians 2:14 makes the effects of the fall clear, “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” We are no longer free to trust God. The fall of man has introduced a bondage of the will. Now, the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 2 makes the inability of man primarily a reference to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. The natural man is not about able to understand and therefore believe the gospel. There is no longer a natural freedom. Instead, there is a natural distrust and an inability to understand, not just the gospel, but also the things of God in general.

Follow me here. Understanding the things of God is not simply possessing the ability to define the words. To understand the things of God means to value and submit to the things of God. Natural people are not able to understand the things of God. Natural people are not able to value and submit to God’s plan for gender much less God’s plan for gender roles. Church, it is not enough to simply affirm the fact that the fall of humanity happened. We must seek to understand how the fall has misshapen all of creation, including gender. Understanding what has gone wrong will give us clarity as we seek to believe the gospel for the redemption and restoration of all things and especially the redemption and restoration of gender. What I mean for you to see is that the fall has radically changed our bodies, our minds, and our souls (our spiritual lives).

  • The fall and its effects on gender
    1. The fall and gender roles

In Genesis 3 God curses males and females and the brunt of the curses relates to their roles. Men will be frustrated in their work and women will experience pain in reproduction. Pay attention to the effects of sin on the relationship between husband and wife. Genesis 3:16, “the wife’s desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her.” This desire is no beautiful romantic desire but a desire for mastery. Now, because of sin, a wife will seek to master her husband the way sin seeks to master the one it tempts (Gen 4:7). No longer will a husband love and cherish his wife for her good. Now, because of sin, a husband will seek to rule over and exploit the wife’s submissive role. Because of the fall, we should expect the extremes of passivity or machismo in men and man-hating or sin-enabling in women. The fall effects gender roles. The fall also effects males and females genetically or physically

  1. The physical effects of the fall on gender

The physical effects of the fall on humanity is sickness in general. The physical effects of the fall on gender can be seen in the existence of XYY males, females with Turner syndrome, and hermaphrodites. In these rare cases there is a genetic or biological reason for gender confusion. This is no surprise to the Christian thinker. Our genetic codes did not remain unscathed in the fall. In these rare cases we must be extremely careful. What we do need to affirm is the fact that males with XYY chromosomes are males and females with Turner syndrome are females. Hermaphrodites, born with indistinguishable genitalia, need genetic testing not a doctor’s best guess. The fall does have it’s effects on gender at the genetic level but there are almost always a clear biological marker to guide the way. We need to be compassionate, patient, and caring to those who experience the pain of the fall at the level of gender.

More confusing than these biological issues are the spiritual and mental effects of the fall. Think with me about

  1. The spiritual effects of the fall on gender

Remember, due to the fall, we humans do not understand the things of God. We don’t understand, value, or cherish life with him. We don’t understand, value, or cherish life as God intended it. So, instead of pursuing gender and gender roles according to God’s design, we do whatever seems right in our own eyes. We doubt God. Instead of worshipping God, we worship gender. Instead of being defined and led by God, many around us are defined and led by their gender, gender identity or sexuality. Being a man or being a woman are good things but they are not the ruling things. I do not mean we are free to define our gender. What I mean is our primary characteristic is being made in the image of God for the purposes of God. This truth, spiritually discerned, is meant to shape being male or being female. Without the spiritual foundation of being made for the glory of God, we will all naturally worship something else. Gender or sexuality are powerful pseudo-gods.

  1. The cognitive effects of the fall on gender

If our genetic codes have been effected by the fall and if our spirituality has been effected by the fall then it should be no surprise that our minds have been effected by the fall. Cognitively, at the level of our thinking and reasoning, we have been misshapen by the fall. It is natural for a natural person to not think clearly. It is natural for a natural person to not think clearly about gender. At restaurants, we expect people to get our orders wrong. They are fallen for crying out loud! We also expect people to get gender and gender roles wrong. They are fallen for crying out loud! We need redemption.

III. The gospel applied

The gospel is the good news that Jesus has come to rescue us from God’s wrath for our sin and restore what was broken in the fall. The means of restoration to God is the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through Christ we are reconciled to God and in Christ gender is redeemed. Think with me about

  • The gospel of acceptance that transforms

As fallen humans, one of our ruling desires is to be loved and accepted just as we are. Love, in fact, is often defined as accepting me and not trying to change me. The idea is, I am good just as I am and should therefore be welcomed and affirmed, not corrected or changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ is utterly offensive to the person with this misshapen view of love. Church, we need to remember how shocking it is to hear, “I love you, you are messed up at every level, come and die to self so you can live in Christ.” When loving and serving the teenager who screams, “Stop trying to fix me!” we need to remember how traumatic it is to hear Jesus say, “You are empty, sick, dead, and thirsty. Come to me and drink. Come to me and eat. Then you will have life (John 6).”

Church, we must not back down on our gospel call to come and be changed. The reality of the fall cries out for redemption! We must speak the truth while increasing our love and acceptance of those whom Christ is seeking to transform.  Basically, I believe the gospel is calling us to think deeply about what it looks like to tell the truth in love while giving grace and patience for gospel change to take root and grow. Because of the gospel, we need to lobby for gender counselling and lobby against those who would criminalize attempts to raise biological males to be males and biological females to be females. Because of the gospel we are accepted as we are and transformed into what God originally intended. Let’s get more specific with

  • The gospel and gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is the condition of a person who is in turmoil over his/her biological gender. Here a biological male feels like a female or a biological female feels like a male. Telling this person to straighten up is about as helpful as telling a smoker to give it up. What the gospel can do in these situations, over the long haul and with much patience, is help the confused individual come to grips with the effects of the fall. It is not surprising you are confused about your gender. The fall has affected our thinking, our cognitive and emotional well-being. With great patience and compassion, we remind the gender confused person that gender and sexuality do not define us. Being made by God, in the image of God, and for God defines us. Foundational to sorting out gender is sorting out God and the gospel of redemption.

If you are here today and struggling with your gender identity we want to help you. We will not make fun of you or kick you out. There is hope for you in the gospel. Lastly, let’s think about

  • The gospel and parenting boys and girls

Kevin Deyoung, a pastor in Michigan, puts the gender issue in stark terms for parents, “Few issues are more important and more essential than helping one’s child navigate puberty and come to a healthy sense of sexual boundaries and sexual identity.”[1]

Parents, do not assume just because the biology is there, that the right understanding of gender will be there. It is your role as mom or dad to teach your child and instruct your child. The fall has misshapen your child’s understanding of gender and sexuality. God has given you the role of teaching what is true and good. This means you must teach your biological male to be a man and you much teach your biological female how to be a woman. Older men must model manhood and dads you need to intentionally build relationships with other model men. Older women must model womanhood and moms you need to intentionally build relationships with other model women. Model biblical gender and encourage biblical gender.

Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, encourages us to look at our daughters and tell them, “I’m glad God made you a girl and you do the girl thing really well.” Look your sons in the eye and tell them, “I’m glad God made you a boy and you do the boy thing really well.” Step it up with age. “I’m glad God made you a man and you do the man thing really well.” “I’m glad God made you a girl and you do the woman thing really well.” I’m not encouraging you to lie. I’m encouraging you to be involved in your children’s lives and where you see biblical manhood or womanhood celebrate it.

Singles, couples without children, and empty-nesters, the families of this church need your help. Where you see the boys and girls, the youth, of this church exhibiting biblical manhood and womanhood celebrate it. And set the example. I want my daughters, I want your sons, to have a head full of everyday run of the mill wonderfully God-glorifying examples of manhood and womanhood. Singles, couples without children, and empty-nesters, model biblical manhood and womanhood. The boys and girls of this church need you.

[1] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2016/04/08/safe-schools-gender-non-conformity-and-the-death-of-common-sense/ accessed 8/26/2016

Resources for Parenting and Gender

Here are some helpful resources (in no particular order). My list is dated so I would appreciate your recommendations and comments.

  1. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Piper and Grudem; this is a resource from different authors. So, while it’s big, it can easily be read in pieces.
  2. God, Marriage, and Family by Kostenberger
  3. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney
  4. Fatherhood: What It is and What It’s For by Tony Payne
  5. Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis
  6. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
  7. How to Talk Confidently With Your Child about Sex by Lenore Bush

At first, my next recommendation sounds strange. One of the most helpful ways to shape biblical manhood and womanhood is to pursue a deeper understanding of Christ and the church. Your practical everyday theology of Christ and your practical everyday theology of the church will have a dramatic influence on your understanding of manhood and womanhood. Start with Ephesians 5:22-35, and use the paradigm of Christ and the church to set your priorities for your sons and daughters.

Update: God Redeeming His Bride by Robert Cheong is a helpful resource for thinking through the gospel and redemption. I highly recommend it to you. Do not let the focus on church discipline scare you away. Instead, think about the daily work of kindly and clearly addressing sin in your own heart and in the hearts of your family members.

Are you a Christian?

B.H. Carroll gives us some helpful advice when thinking about our own salvation. His pastoral wisdom is especially helpful when talking with your children and grandchildren about the evidence of salvation.

Christ came to call sinners to repentance, and this confession is not merely a formal enunciation of the lips. “I am a sinner,” is the confession of a profound feeling of the heart that except by God’s grace he is forever lost. One of my old time questions, after an applicant for membership got through relating his Christian experience in which I never prompted him at all, was this: “How did you come to feel that you were a sinner? Tell us about that. Surely you have not so felt all your life. Tell us when and how that impression got hold on your heart unusually strong.” And then I would say, “Tell me why you now think you are a Christian.” 

God, through His word, never makes salvation an issue of asking Jesus into your heart. Repeatedly God makes salvation the blessed result of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Corinthians 7:11).

Carroll’s comments come as an explanation of this article from the New Hampshire Confession on repentance and faith:

We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God Mark 1:15; Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ John 16:8; Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy Luke 18:13; 15:18-21; James 4:7-10; 2 Cor. 7:11; Rom.10:12-13; Psa. 51; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 3:22-23: Heb. 4:14; Psa. 2:6; Heb. 1:8; 8:25; 2 Tim. 1:12.

True Beauty- Sundays @6pm

true beautyI recently spent some time working through Mahaney and Whitacre’s book and it was well worth the time. With a wife and four daughters I need to constantly strive to have a biblical view of beauty and I need to lead the women in my life to have a biblical view of beauty. This book encourages true beauty. It is practical without being legalistic. It is biblical and clear without setting impossible standards which further frustrate the pursuit of true beauty.

Theologically the book centers on the glorious, wonderful, and splendid God who made us in His image. Practically the book centers on three passages: Proverbs 31:30; 1 Timothy 2:8-10; and 1 Peter 3:1-6.

If you are in the neighborhood of Mambrino Baptist Church we’d love for you to join our ladies as they read and discuss this book. The women’s bible study is on Sundays at 6pm. I encourage every woman and girl, every man and boy, to read and pursue the biblical truth found in this book. This book challenged and equipped me to be a better father and husband.

Read it.