Archive for April, 2009

Book Review: Just Do Something

Posted in Devotions on April 26, 2009 by jaymallow

Just Do Something

 

There are books you read and like.  There are books you read and can recommend portions of that book to others.  Then there are books you read and think, “This should be required reading for anyone under the age of twenty five.”  Kevin DeYoung’s book “Just do Something” is a book that I wish I had my senior year of high school as I took “calling tests” and obsessed about what in the world I was supposed to do once I graduated.  I wish I had this book in my early twenties as I wrestled with false condemnation because I didn’t have a “vision for my calling” vocationally.  This book could have saved me from a lot of sleepless nights and useless anxiety.

So let me not only recommend but exhort you to buy and read this book.  But first let me suggest that you position your heart first.  A good thing to ask yourself before reading “Just do something” is, “Where did my notion of ‘God’s will’ come from anyway?”  That’s a question I was struck with as I read this book.  From my recollection I don’t ever remember someone ever preaching to me that there was this ideal roadmap of life God wanted me to be on, but He either unintentionally or cruelly forgot to give it to me.  It was just presumed that God had an “ideal” job, place to live, person to marry for me.  Kevin DeYoung actually spends the first half of the book dispelling what I normally thought of as “God’s will”.  Josh Harris in the forward described the book as occasionally smacking you upside the head,” …but you’ll be better for the smack.”  I want to prepare you for the “smack”.  If you’re older you’ll think to yourself, “I’ve done that!  I’ve even said that!”  If you’re younger you’ll be tempted to dismiss because maybe you’ve never heard God’s will explained in such a straightforward, challenging way.  You’ll think, “There’s got to be more mystery to it.”  But using scripture, humor, experience and pastoral wisdom, Kevin DeYoung takes a lot of the mystery out of God’s will and making decisions.  He also instructs as to what pursuing what God’s will really looks like, all the while firmly challenging the reader to stop using God as an excuse for laziness and irresponsibility.

Whatever your age, no matter the decisions that face you either big or small, you should read this book.  Just Do Something won’t make the decision for you but will help you see a big God, and how that sovereign God really means for you to glorify Him.  That clarity will give you a sense of peace and purpose in your decision to do something secure in God’s grace and living for His glory.

 

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Adulthood= Marriage?

Posted in Devotions on April 26, 2009 by jaymallow

Given the thread of the blog posts I thought I’d post this. I posted this on Facebook awhile ago but thought is relevant…

What’s below is my wrestling with Dr. Al Mohler’s statement from New Attitude 2004. As you will read I would humbly submit that Dr. Mohler’s statements regarding “eunics for the kingdom” and “adulthood equals marriage” are simply not supported in the broader Biblical context. Please consider both what Dr. Mohler has said and what I’ve responded in light of scripture. Look into it for youself…

I remember shortly after turning thirty beginning to honestly ask myself if I was being called to the mission field. Now I’ve never wanted to be a missionary, and certainly never felt qualified to pursue that vocation. But it just seemed like the thing to do now that I hit the big 30.
I know this is a question many if not most have struggled with entering mid life and still single, and unfortunately many well meaning brothers and sisters (and even Pastor’s) don’t help with. Questions like, “Do you feel called to be married?” “Maybe you have ‘The Gift’…” These questions infer what I humbly believe to be an error in interpreting 1 Corinthians 7
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. [1] 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

The question of “calling”:

I’m going to make a statement that I believe to be Biblically true then prayerfully back it up with scripture. The statement is this: That the “call” to singleness is no different than any other call God places on our lives. Also that the “gift” of singleness or celibacy is no different than any other “gift” God gives. The scriptural backing I refer to is actually in 1 Corinthians 7
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave [3] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, [4] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
Smack dab in Paul’s conversation about singleness He exhorts all to “Live the life God has assigned him…” In this passage Paul emphatically denotes that the “callings” to be a Jew or Gentile, slave or free, and in context single or married are all equal. One doesn’t “count more” than the other. As if you are a better Christian if… This actually explains Jesus’ assertion that there would be “eunuchs” for the kingdom. In both Jesus’ and Paul’s cultural context marriage wasn’t an option, it was presumed. Especially in Jewish culture both marriage and children were considered signs of God’s favor upon a person’s life. I would argue that instead of elevating “singleness” above marriage both Jesus and Paul were in fact giving a person who wasn’t married, nor who had children, EQUAL status with those who were married. Given that Jesus made this statement in His thirties when it would have been extremely uncommon for Him NOT to be married, nor would He ever get married it is entirely possible that He was even validating His own ministry to His disciples. That simply because He hadn’t received the particular blessing of marriage and children, that He was still “approved by God”.

What about the “gift” of “undistracted devotion”? :
Let me address this on two fronts. First, that ALL spiritual gifts are intended for the edification of the church. (1 Cor. 12) The gift of singleness uniquely edifies the body in a specific way, just as the gift of marriage uniquely edifies the church in a different way. In this, these gifts are no different than the gift of apostleship, teaching, serving, etc. Nor do these “gifts” and “callings” obscure all the “callings” God gives us. Take marriage for example. The gift of marriage doesn’t immediately cause a change in job, church, etc. Marriage gets worked out within the context of life. I remember talking to a friend who was recently married and I asked Him what shocked Him the most about being married. He replied, “What surprised me the most was how much stuff I’m still dealing with that I dealt with as a single man. Marriage didn’t totally change everything automatically, especially me.” The “gift” of singleness too gets worked out in the context of life in the various callings to church, vocation, and friends.
Secondly, the calling to the single life differs from the call to be married in one key distinction: That the call to marriage is a lifelong commitment, the call to “singleness” isn’t a lifelong commitment. No where in scripture are singles commanded to commit themselves to God in their singleness in the same way that those who are married are commanded to commit to each other. (“Forsaking all others…Till death do us part…”) In fact Paul in 1 Cor. 7: 28 Paul admits that those that marry do not sin. In 1 Tim. 5 Paul actually instructs young widows to get married. Even in 1 Cor. 7 Paul goes out of His way to denote that His encouragement to singles is NOT a command from the Lord. (vs.25) As singles you and I do not know what and to whom God may call us in the future, and where God hasn’t commanded a commitment we shouldn’t presume.

Application:

Ok so what does this all mean? Well for starters, if you’re still single cheer up! God may call you to be a eunuch for the kingdom but He may not. Let me give a personal analogy that might help. When I applied to the Police Academy there were a series of tests over an extended period of time. I first passed the initial physical, written, and psych tests then had to wait six months for the final review and oral interview before I finally knew I had the job. Over those six months I began running to get myself in shape. I did this while at the time working two jobs. Now I ran in the hope and belief that God was calling me to pursue a carreer in law enforcement. However, I still showed up to work at both of my two other jobs and endeavored to perform them to the best of my ability. In fact I didn’t let one of my jobs know that I was even attempting to get another job until I actually had received an offer from the Police Academy. Now I know you’re thinking, “Duh, that just makes sense.” But put it in the “call” to be single. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing marriage as long as you are fulfilling your “job” in being single. What does fulfilling your “job” as a single look like? I don’t know, I don’t know your particular situation. Maybe it’s cutting back on overtime to be able to participate more in the local church. Helping someone move on a Saturday because you know not everyone is able to help. Perhaps it’s providing financially if you’re able to, to a family in the church because you don’t face the same pressure. Maybe it’s turning down that promotion that would have you move simply because you’ve made a commitment to a local church. Or possibly taking that promotion because you have the ability to pick up and go and serve another church. Maybe it’s acting kindly to a sister that you don’t intend to marry because she’s a sister and God’s put her in your life. I don’t know. But here’s a quote I love from John Calvin: “Love God, and do what you will.” The difficult thing is loving God. The rest tends to work itself out. “Pursuing His righteousness trusting that all will be added…” So is God calling you and me to the mission field as mid-life adults? I don’t know, lets Love God, do what we will, and find out…

Obsessive? Maybe… Pt 2

Posted in Devotions, Randomness on April 25, 2009 by jaymallow

I remember one of the “defining moments” between my father and my sister and me…   There are in many families “eccentric dad” stories.  You look back on your childhood and remember your father’s eccentricities, and even weird grossness. (I’m tempted to get into “Kipper snacks” and “shirtless dinners” but I won’t. BTW I love you Dad.)  One of the things my Dad was obsessive about growing up was that no one slept in on Saturday.  You were up by 9am period.  He would actually come and shake us up out of bed.  (To be honest I’m grateful for His leadership, that Saturday isn’t just a day of relaxation, as much as on Sunday after church we weren’t able to read the paper or watch TV as it was a day of rest. Meaning naps, which in my adulthood have magically become very meaningful)  But on this particular day I was 21, working and going to school in the evening.  My sister was also 19 and working full time.  Dad got us up and proceeded to bring us into the garage. “We’re going to clean this up.”  He said.  Now another “eccentricity” of my Dad is that He’s an admitted pack rat.  He’s loves to work on cars. and often serves those He knows by fixing their cars for free.  However, my Dad will store parts for cars we’ve never owned “just in case”.  “Just in case” a 97 Volvo  diesel just happens to land in our driveway.  So “cleaning” the garage really means moving piles of stuff and making it look somewhat orderly not actually cleaning or throwing anything out.  (My Dad would do this every six months or so)

By God’s grace, both my sister, my younger brother, (Who was 14) and I got up and pitched in.  However, after we were done my sister and I had a talk with my Dad.   We humbly reminded Him that we now had jobs of our own, and that we were paying Him rent to live at home. (Sometimes I marvel at my Dad, imagine having the wisdom to have your 19 year old DAUGHTER pay rent)  We firmly reminded my Dad that we now felt like our Saturdays now were our own to spend as we saw fit.  If He wanted to get up at 8am and start “cleaning” the garage He was free to do so. (And if He wanted to wake up Steve the youngest, and make him help, even better.  Hey we had to get up; you don’t get freebies for being the baby.)  Also, if my Dad wanted our help in “cleaning” the garage He was free to ASK for it.  But knocking on our door at 8:30 and simply expecting our instant obedience wasn’t fair given our responsibilities.  I will never forget my fathers face as the realization dawned upon Him. In a quiet voice, He asked for our forgiveness for not respecting our rest and “fathering” us. (My DAD asked MY FORGIVENESS for FATHERING me!)  We said “we forgive you”, hugged, and then my father went downstairs back to the garage.  After about thirty minutes, my Mother in Her amazing wisdom asked me to go down and tell my Dad I loved Him.  I opened the door to see my Dad just kind of pottering about.  “Hey, are you alright?”  I asked.  My Dad replied, “I’m OK.”  “I just want you to know that I love you.” I said.  “I know that,” my Dad responded, we hugged and both of us struggled to contain our tears.  “I just need to be alone with God for awhile, I’ll be OK.  I’ll see you at dinner.”  As I closed the door to the garage the tears began streaming down my face, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the same thing was happening on the other side.

Obsessive? Maybe…

Posted in Randomness on April 24, 2009 by jaymallow

First of read this before reading the rest:  http://www.revkevindeyoung.com/2009/04/our-high-places-3.html

 

I got a comment on the last post that it might be a little “obsessive”.  Perhaps I should first clarify some things.  First I’m not against “family time” and I know that even in the midst of a busy church schedule some things conflict and it’s OK that family takes priority.  Also I wasn’t despairing of the church as a whole but mainly families with adult children. (Hence the stunting maturity part)  I find it interesting that in the four years I’ve been apart of Sovereign Grace Church Pasadena getting “singles” to commit to regular church life has been mind bogglingly difficult.  That’s not to say they don’t serve, many serve heroically, but it’s the mundane meetings and caregroups that participation always seems optional.  Even more perplexing is that these are young adults from “pillar of the church” families.   You would think they’d be the first ones to show up to such meetings.  I’ve begun to wonder if their might be a connection to this fact and the counsel I had to give some younger adult friends concerning dealing with their parents as adults.  I think there is a connection given that as a church we’re in a “generational transition” period.  Many young people and families are making the transition into adulthood for the first time.  So let me attempt the daunting task of not only expanding my last post, connect the lack of participation and parenting issues, and challenge parents of adult and soon to be adult children as well.  (What?  You a SINGLE guy would challenge older parents?  Well yeah, I’ve made this transition with my parents and I’ve been apart of a church (SGC Chesapeake) that went through a generational transition.  I, my parents, and they were just as “family centric”, home schooling, “courtship culture crazed” as SGC Pasadena if not more so.)

Let me start out by saying that I know from first hand that the transition into adulthood is painful for parents, even more than for their children coming into adulthood.  I think a part of the problem is that parents are just now becoming aware of how difficult and painful it really is for them.  Learning to treat the baby you held in your arms more like a friend, and brother or sister in the Lord is HARD.  Letting the toddler you demanded instant obedience from make their own decisions is DIFFICULT.  Letting go and trusting God to care for the one you love so much is PAINFUL. (Especially for Moms, some of you are tearing up just reading that.)  But let me challenge you, this is exactly what God is calling you to do.  And here is the challenge I would lay before you parents- are you grudgingly accepting your son or daughter’s call to a personal identity apart from you, or are you pressing them into it?  Are you acquiescing to your child’s adulthood, or are you challenging them to it? 

Adulthood means an identity irrespective of family.  We’ve gotten into the habit of seeing “independence” as a bad thing.  But the call to adulthood IS a call to independence from family and dependence on God.  And I’m sorry, marriage is secondary.  In our “family centric” “courtship crazed” culture we’ve tied “adulthood” too much to marriage.  That tying alone has made a bunch of immature, irresponsible, uncommitted twenty something “adults” that treat the church and their relationships no different than when they were in junior high.  Instead of challenging a generation to mature adulthood we’re coddling them to marriage.

Here’s the thing about adulthood that’s dangerous.  Adults HAVE to be able to make a choice personally, on their own authority, and suffer or appreciate the consequences of that choice on their own.  If an adult never makes a choice personally, they never will make that choice personally.  Parents are you aware of this?  Are you looking to press your sons and daughters into personal decisions?  Are you aware that your role now is to offer direction not to command?  And if you are directing what are the “non-negotiable” priorities you are directing them to?  Let me apply this to “family time”.  If  family is the “non-negotiable” in your direction of your young adult son or daughter, if you demand that this is the one area of their life that they have no choice, isn’t ultimately the “non-negotiable” in their life you?  If you are the one thing they cannot disregard what have you become, God perhaps?  Even family time needs to become an invitation not a requirement, because your young adult son or daughter needs to be able to, under Gods authority and direction, prioritize their life according to HIS direction.  And if they are not allowed to see the personal benefit of that personal choice, what’s to really ensure that they will ever make that decision for themselves in the future?

Parents please know my heart is for you, not condemning you.  I’ll reiterate this is HARD.  This takes FAITH, tears, prayer, trust that God will prove Himself and that the labor you’ve invested for so many years will not return void.  But let me plead with you, “clinging” isn’t “understandable” it is idolatry.  It is putting yourself in the place of God with your adult son of daughter, and it is elevating your relationship with them above your relationship with God.  Sadly, it’s only going to get worse.  Please for your own growth, begin to die to yourself and don’t think that when your son or daughter says “I do” your heart will magically be changed.  For the health of your future relationship with your son or daughter, the health of their souls in reliance on God not you, and the health of the church, LET GO.

All that said, again I’m not against “family time”. (Please invite me, I’d love to fellowship.)  But let me end with two questions:  Are you excited for, and preparing yourself and your adult son or daughter for a time when they are NOT looking back at you across the dinner table?  If not, why is that?

 

Family centric

Posted in Randomness on April 23, 2009 by jaymallow

I love my church I really do, but sometimes I’m grieved at how “family” immediately overrides the other callings to the church as a whole. It appears to me that once “family time” is invoked, no matter the other callings within the body, it’s a justified abandonment. Sometimes I wonder how much maturity is stunted by this “good” idol.

That’s just kinda wierd…

Posted in Randomness on April 23, 2009 by jaymallow

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Do Something

Posted in Devotions on April 22, 2009 by jaymallow

I’m currently reading through Kevin DeYoung’s book “Just Do Something (How to make decisions without dreams, etc. etc. etc.)  I really resonate with the wisdom of this book mostly because I can “insert my life here” in the pages.  I distinctly remember a period of time where I essentially had no direction for about a year and a half.  During that time I also experienced loss in many of the things I had invested in for three years due to no fault of my own.  I remember the moment God revealed to me what He was doing with me at that time.  At one point I frustratingly prayed, “God just tell me what you want me to do!  You know I’ll do it!  I’ve been willing to die to myself so far, if you want me to go to Africa and be martyred I’ll do it, just tell me where to go!”  Now God didn’t audibly speak to me it was more like having the final piece of the puzzle slide into place and it all made sense.  “That’s it.  That’s what I’ve been getting at.  Not that you aren’t willing to sacrifice for me but that if I did tell you to go to Africa you would get up and go, and wouldn’t need me anymore.  That’s why I had to take from you when you were content and faithful.  That’s why I had to take from you, and forced you to watch another be blessed in the exact way you longed to be blessed.  That’s why I not only took things away but left you with less than zero.  Do you want me, or the blessings of serving me? Even my direction?  Do you want ME?”  In a unique mixture on grief and joy, I saw that it took God doing that to get me reading and praying to Him.  In all that, He was drawing me closer to Himself. 

(BTW get the book)