Monday, August 4, 2008

Love, Pain, Friends and Purity.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love. A friend at church, knowing that my wife has not been able to get to pick blueberries for the winter, went and picked a pail full for her and brought them to church last evening. What a blessing! At the same time, another young lady picked a container of wild blueberries for my younger son; she also baked us zucchini bread. Earlier in the day, we received a bag of garden vegetables: peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini. [I once read that a true sign of loneliness is having to buy zucchinis at the grocery store. If that’s not funny, you probably don’t live in an area where many people have backyard gardens.] Three demonstrations of brotherly (and sisterly!) love.

Prayers are being answered. When I arrived at church last evening, I was in a great deal of pain. When I left, I was pain-free. I did not have any pain through the night and am still relatively pain-free this morning. I do not know if the pain is gone for good, but I am thankful for the respite.

We accompanied my daughter, a group of her friends, and one of her friend’s family to get ice cream after church last evening. The one friend is leaving to spend the school year in Nicaragua on Wednesday. This young lady also happens to be one of my students. She will be missed by many of us, but especially by her closest friends. It is such a joy to know that our daughter has a great group of friends. It is fun to watch them interact with each other. Most of the time, they are being silly. But at times they have serious discussions. On Sunday evenings, they steal away to a stairwell to pray together. Thank you, Father.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul introduced this section of his letter with a reminder to live in a way that pleases God. In verses 3-8, he discusses how to please God in the area of purity.

In a short book titled Finding God’s Will, John MacArthur lists six principles for knowing God’s will. God’s will is that we be saved, that we be filled with the Holy Spirit, that we be pure (the subject of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), that we submit to Him, to authorities, and to others, that we suffer, and if we are following all five of the principles listed, that we do whatever we want. The point being that if we are living a godly life, God will give us the right desires. If we are obedient in the areas where God’s will is clearly known, He will guide us through the areas where His will is not always so clear – who to marry, where to go to college, what career path to follow, etc. God’s will is not a mystery.

God’s will is that we be pure. Holy. Sanctified. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 can be summarized as follows: Avoid sex outside of marriage. Control your body. Subdue your passions. Do not take advantage of others. All of these must be taken in the context of purity, particularly sexual purity.

In his commentary of this passage, Gary Demarest writes: The call to sanctification is not a call to stuffiness or drabness. It is a call to usefulness, to availability, and to fidelity. It is a call to an adventure of discovering what life is really intended by God.

In regard to sexual purity he writes: God has created us for intimacy with one another . . . and that is designed by God to be used only in the context of a lifelong commitment of marriage. It needs to be said loudly, lovingly, and clearly that sexual loving apart from marriage is out of bounds, not because sex is bad, but because it is so good. Sex is holy. It is set apart for special use.

In an age where much restraint in the area of sexuality has been cast off, not unlike the Greco-Roman context in which this letter was written, sexual purity sets believers apart. And, as we have seen in the news in the past ten years or more, this is an area where many Christian leaders have fallen. We need to guard our minds and hearts. We need to help our children to do the same. To please God and to avoid the bondage that inevitably accompanies this area of sin. After all, Jesus Christ came to set us free.


MyAwesomeOliveShoots said...

I speak to kids in schools and churches about sexual purity. I've been doing it for almost six years and have spoken to over 30,000 young people. I'm glad you were pain-free today and admire your honest and faith. I sure hope our sons will get to know each other as brothers in Christ at WP. I'd love to know what Academic Company your son will be in and his name so I can share it with my son.

Stay strong in Jesus!


jmichael said...
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MyAwesomeOliveShoots said...
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googleman said...

you are a happy couple but is the economy putting pressure on your covenant marriage? because if that so you can join some Covenant Marriage Seminars to keep the bond.