John Piper – Husband, Lift Up Your Eyes: Letter to a Would-Be Adulterer

Dear Husband,

You may think I am ill-suited to counsel a young man on how to be faithful to his wife, because, in almost fifty years with my wife, I have never felt enticed to be romantic or to have sex with another woman. However, it might be worth probing whether this (perhaps unusual) fact has causes which are transferrable to you.

Let me clarify. It’s not as good as it sounds. My eyes are as magnetized toward excessive female skin as most men’s. I am not designed for beach evangelism. I find airports to be problematic enough. I have zero tolerance for nudity in films — or even suggestiveness (which rules out almost all of them). One reason (among many) is that any sexually charged image lodges itself in my mind, with regrettable effects.

To read the rest of John Piper’s article, click here.

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Aimee Byrd – Does Abstinence Teaching Really Promote Purity?

Way back in my early twenties, I used to volunteer at CareNet Pregnancy Center. They trained some of us to give abstinence presentations to high school youth. There were many true and helpful points in these presentations and I felt good about helping teens understand spiritual, emotional, and physical consequences in their decisions. And as evangelical churches around me were also speaking out more to teens about abstinence, I was happy that the church was finally talking more about the consequences of sex. But now, almost 20 years later, I am rethinking how Christians teach abstinence as purity.

Of course, it is not pure behavior to participate in premarital and extramarital sex. But we are missing out on learning the beauty of purity by reducing it to saying no to sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage. And by reducing our teaching this way, I think that we have reduced our brothers and sisters in Christ to threats to our purity and have also inadvertently enticed lust by hedging their behavior with more and more laws to stay pure—sealed with with the ring that advertises it.

To read the rest of Aimee Byrd’s article, click here.

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David Mathis – The Most Important Text on Marriage

June 29. We couldn’t help but enjoy all the free publicity Apple was giving to our special day.

It was the spring of 2007, and our upcoming wedding date was plastered on billboards and seemed to appear just about everywhere online and in print ads. Months before we had landed on this date for our wedding. But long before that, the tech giant had pinpointed June 29, 2007, for the much-celebrated release of a new device called the “iPhone.”

So, on the same day, ten years ago now, we debuted with the iPhone. We promised each other, “Till death do us part,” and thought we’d easily outlast this new iPod with a monthly phone bill. We’ll see. The iPhone may still be strong a decade later, but our for-life vows to each other are much firmer even than a for-profit’s commitment to a product, even if it has sold more than a billion units in ten years.

One, Simple, Impossible Verse

Ephesians 5:22–33 is the classic Bible text on marriage. It’s a critical place for Christian couples to regularly return to get their bearings. It’s often read at weddings, and often referenced in articles, sermons, and books on marriage. But in our ten years of marriage, it has not been the most significant biblical passage for us. If I had to pick one, it would come a few verses earlier, before the focus turns explicitly to marriage. It’s just one, simple verse:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

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Justin Buzzard – Create a Plan to Date Your Wife

Make a Plan That’s Right for You

I know men who have pages and pages of plans for their business, their finances, and their hobbies, but have never written down a single sentence of planning for their marriage. Vows, dreams, ideas, and good intentions aren’t enough. A man needs to plan. Husbands who learn to be intentional with their marriage, just as they are in other domains of life, can be used of God to bring fresh flourishing to their one-flesh union. I encourage a man to view his marriage in one-year chunks and to draft an annual plan for how he will date his wife.

Drafting an annual plan for dating your wife starts with the “air war” of your marriage — this is planning for when your B-52 Bombers will fly overhead to drop major artillery and troops in support of your marriage, helping you push your marriage forward in significant ways.

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Marshall Segal – 10 Things You Should Know about Dating

1. Live on mission…and then find a spouse.

Instead of making marriage your mission, make it God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that. Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.

2. Keep the end in sight.

In all your dating, keep your last first date in mind. The only thing worth dating for is a marriage—a lifelong, life-on-life love like Jesus’s love for us. Nothing else is worth all the risks we take when we begin to share our heart with someone else. Nothing else can protect us from diving in too quickly or jumping ship when things get hard. Nothing else can stand out enough from the world around us to say something significant about Jesus. Marriage has to be the big and beautiful goal of our dating before we are ever ready to date well.

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John Tweeddale – A Theology of the Home

Christians have long viewed the home as the hub of life. It is a nursery for aspiring astronauts, playground for wannabe heroes, and sanctuary for weary but heaven-bound wayfarers. Home is a place for cultivating virtue through meandering conversations, large helpings of laughter, hearty meals, excruciating trials, and loads of hard work. Whether you are a child learning to read, a freshman in a dormitory, newlyweds settling into a first apartment, an upstart launching a career, a family with a quiver full of children, or a widow navigating life without a spouse, the comfort of home is a stabilizing reality of life.

Yet for many, the home is far from heaven. It is hell on earth. For those suffering in the environs of oppression, the home is a cauldron of abuse, violence, and manipulation. It is a prison to escape from, not a refuge to run to. Still others have never had the privilege of permanent shelter, let alone experienced the warmth of a fireplace. As Christians discuss the value of home, we must not lose sight of the fact that the guilt and corruption of the fall reaches into every heart, and therefore into every home. Our ultimate hope lies not within the boundaries of a picket fence but in Him who is “our dwelling place” (Ps. 90:1).

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Jon Bloom – The Real Root of Sexual Sin

The most powerful weapon against sexual impurity is humility. Patterns of sinful thought and behavior are fruits of a deeper root. If we want to stop bearing bad fruit, we must aim our primary attack against the root. And the root of sexual sin is not our sex drive; it’s pride.

We live in an age dominated by Darwinian explanations of biology and psychology. So we easily absorb certain naturalistic assumptions. One such assumption is that our sexual drives and impulses are remnants of our primordial, bestial ancestors, and therefore we deal with them with cages of external personal and social restraints.

This is a very conflicted perspective. It views us as both victims and monsters. On one hand, we’re victims of our ancient past, and on the other hand, we’re sexual monsters if we express our primal impulses in ways not sanctioned by the prevailing level of social tolerance.

It’s also a wholly inadequate explanation in view of the consuming of our sexual problem. The degrees of human sexual depravity, distortion, and destruction are of such a nature that nearly everyone thinks things and many do things that we have no other word for than evil.

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Douglas Wilson – Decluttering Your Marriage II

INTRODUCTION:

In the message last week, we addressed the problem of how pride and a lack of self-reflection compounds the problem of cluttered relationships. In this message we are going to focus on some practical steps that will help you get things picked up, and will help you keep it that way. As things stand now, you are contemplating moving to the Swiss Alps to start your own signature ministry — you could call it Debris.

THE TEXT:

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).

SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:

The text contains an overt teaching about confession of sin and the blessing of God. But there is also an unstated assumption about time which we can make explicit in a paraphrase. “He who covers his sins for any length of time shall not prosper for that length of time. But whoever confesses and forsakes them immediately shall have mercy immediately” (Prov. 28:13). In other words, there is a now implied.

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Douglas Wilson – Decluttering Your Marriage I

INTRODUCTION:

Many of you have been married for quite a number of years now. This can be wonderful, like aging wine, but before anyone says awwww, it can also grow seriously un-wonderful, as bad spiritual habits compound with interest. Marriages can get badly cluttered, like a neglected garage, attic, or basement. And when things get cluttered, they also get people into a position where they really don’t know what to do. Where should they even start?

THE TEXT:

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).

SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:

We are going to begin with this text because it lays down some important principles for the process of decluttering any relationship, but particularly your relationship with your spouse.

Say that someone else is overtaken in a fault, whatever it is. You see a problem over there. Who should correct it? Paul first states what the qualifications are for the one undertaking the job of correcting another. He says that the task is limited to those “which are spiritual.” If you are annoyed, bothered, frustrated, exasperated, you are the one person on the planet who may not correct the problem. And the problem is that when you are qualified, you are not motivated. And when you are motivated, you are not qualified.

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Randy Alcorn – The Cumulative Effect of Our Little Choices

Have you ever seen a sink hole? Cars can be parked on a street day after day, and everything appears normal, then one day the asphalt caves in and cars disappear into a gigantic hole.

Everybody says, “That hole came out of nowhere.” But they’re wrong. The hole appears suddenly but the process that led to it has gone on for many years. The underground erosion was invisible, but it was there all along.

Likewise, sometimes when a man commits adultery and abandons his family, it appears to have come “out of the clear blue sky.” It hasn’t.

Sink holes remind us of two things: first, something can look good on the outside, when underneath major problems have been going on for years, and disaster’s about to happen. Second, our lives are affected by little choices, which have cumulative effects that can result in either moral strength or moral disaster.

A battering ram may hit a fortress gate a thousand times, and no one impact seems to have an effect, yet finally the gate caves in. Similarly, sinful actions don’t come out of nowhere—they’re the cumulative product of little moral compromises made over time, which ultimately result in ungodly behavior. On the other hand, it’s equally true that godly actions are the cumulative product of small, habitual, and Christ-honoring choices for righteousness.

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