Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Posting the Audio for the Series, The Spirit Filled Life

I am currently leading a study and discussion with the Women's Ministry at the Clayton campus of Central Presbyterian Church and some folks asked if it was being recorded. Well, the answer is 'yes' and I have posted the three sessions that have already happened. We will get the the rest of the series up as it happens over the next two or three months. I am recording on my own portable digital recorder so the quality is not fantastic but still pretty good. A Q&A session follows each presentation. I hope you find the study helpful and encouraging as you hear about God's work through His Spirit in the world, in the church and in you.

Click here to get to the audio links.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marriage Is Like a Crucifixion? A Strange Valentine Message

If you were at West County Fellowship yesterday (2/13/11) you have already heard this thought but it bears repeating. I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis on marriage as I prepared for a message on what it means to be a husband:

“Christian writers have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church-read on-and give his life for her. This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least….

At first this may seem like a strange Valentine's Day sentiment: that our marriages should should be more like crucifixions. This seems at complete odds with the romantic pictures of lovers lost in passion for one another. And yet the idea of a man giving himself... to die to himself... to love and protect his lover is perhaps the most profoundly romantic idea imaginable. It is a challenging and inspiring idea to us husbands that in our marriages, our wives should "receive most and give least." This is the way of Christ with his bride. What is your way with your bride?

To hear the full message from yesterday's worship service, Husbands: Leadership in Service of Another, click here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Marriage Enrichment Director Clay Coffee Makes Some Recommendations

I spoke recently with Clay Coffee, Central's Director of Marriage Enrichment, about the preaching series on marriage going on at West County Fellowship. He had some book recommendations for those looking to foster a healthy relationship with their spouse. Take a look:

We will have these books available for purchase at WCF very soon.

If you would like to do a "marriage tune-up" with Clay (a relationship inventory and a couple of sessions) feel free to e-mail him or contact him at the church's main line (314-727-2777). If you are looking for more in-depth help with your marriage, Clay can also refer you to many excellent counselors in the St. Louis area.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What We Mean and What People Hear: Communicating God’s Mercy to and Loving the Secularized Person

Sir Anthony Hopkins was interviewed by Piers Morgan the other night on CNN and it got me thinking about how people outside the church hear us when we talk about our beliefs in God and scripture. Here are some snippets from an article describing the interview:

When asked if he believes in God by Piers Morgan on his CNN talk show, he said: "Yes, I do. I'm not an atheist. I don't know what it is. None of us do… I believe in a God that Einstein believed in, a sort of Spinoza kind of interpretation."

Discussing the absolute beliefs of organized religions, he said: "I think it is dangerous. Certainty is responsible for some of the most awful terrors in the world.

"I made a point in the film ('The Rite'), I was saying to the young priest, 'So what do you believe in? The truth? Oh, yes, the truth. Look where that got us. Hitler, Stalin - they know the truth.'

For those of us who have a Christian faith or other specific faith convictions, we might take offense at this, but I believe it’s more constructive to think about Sir Anthony’s reaction to the idea of intellectual certainty (Stalin could hardly be called a person of religious certainty unless that he was certain that God didn’t exist). Intellectual certainty, in Sir Anthony’s mind, leads to a destructive arrogance and a devaluing of human life.

Whether we agree with this logic or not is not my concern at the moment. The fact that many people in our culture think this, logical or not, does interest me. It interests me because when I seek to talk about God’s mercy in Christ, I want to make sure they hear what I mean. When I talk about God's mercy, I mean 'God values you and so do I... God has shown me grace and that has humbled me... that humility leads me to service and care of any person who crosses my path.' Saying “I am a Bible-believing Christian” may be akin to saying, “I am a religious extremist,” in the minds of many people. Is this what we mean to communicate?

I have no formula to vault over the prejudices of our culture against those who have religious convictions, but I can tell you how I have sought to present to people the orientation of my life. When someone asks, ‘Do you believe in the Bible?’ I answer, ‘I believe in God… I trust Him… and I believe that he has spoken to me in a way I can trust: namely, the Christian scriptures.’ I don’t imagine that this would dispel all fears a secularized person might have of me, but at least it puts my faith in terms that don’t hit upon his or her worst fears: bigotry and arrogance.

If we are to communicate what we mean to say about God’s love and mercy, we must spend time thinking about what people are hearing when we talk. And this kind of sensitivity and care is usually the first step in answering God’s call upon our life: loving your neighbor

For the full article about Piers Morgan’s interview with Sir Anthony Hopkins, click here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Active Ingredient in Loving Relationships: Submission

I have been thinking a good bit about marriage and relationships in general... what makes them work, what puts strain on them. Again and again I come back to this idea: submission is the active ingredient in loving relationships. Of course, there are many things which go into healthy relationships but what makes these diverse ingredients come together is submission.

I am not talking about rolling over and playing dead in a relationship. I mean taking what you have... your gifts, your resources, your very person... and actively submitting it to the good of another. "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Phil. 2:4. So many of our relationships are a pursuit of self-affirmation. This is why we tend to be friends with people who share our outlook and interests. It also tends to be why we have so much tension in our marriages, as our spouse seem less and less interested in telling us how great we are.

This is at once both a difficult concept and an empowering idea. It is difficult because the idea of willfully submitting ourselves to another's interests seems to violate our freedom and personhood. It is empowering in that our love no longer becomes a question of someone else's behavior. As Christ actively gave himself to the good of those who were undeserving but in need... submitting who he was to our good, so we should love others... by submitting ourselves to their good. Food for thought as we lie in bed next to people who we feel often disappoint our expectations.

(For more on this idea, come here Daryl preach on 2/6/11 at West County Fellowship, Marriage: Loving Self or Loving Another? or listen online after 2/6/11)