by Travis Maples
“Society sees true male Christian friendship as something foreign. Camaraderie between male friends has been looked upon with suspicion of homosexuality. My brothers, this is a travesty of our time! What happened to male friends who sat and discussed great books until the early hours of morning? What happened to male friends enjoying Godly conversation over a cup of good coffee? What happened to male friends, together, making a difference in the course of history?”
I think I can agree with my high school government teacher Mr. Shoemaker. At the time I never really understood what he meant when he said he didn’t have many friends, just a bunch of acquaintences. It was especially odd since I was in hot pursuit of popularity and thought I had an abundance of friends. I almost felt sorry for the guy and thought he was being too hard on himself when he would tell us he didn’t have but one or two friends. “A friend is someone you would die for…” he would say, “you punks don’t have any friends…” As I look back I think there was an element of truth and wisdom in his words. True male friendships are a gift. Though, thanks to movies like Brokeback Mountain, they are becoming increasingly taboo.
So if you have been around Volunteers For Christ and Cornerstone Church for a while, you will have (hopefully) noticed that guy/girl relationships are a bit different. We don’t date. We have kiss goodbye to dating and said hello to courtship!
So what is courtship? Is it really necessary? Is it realistic? Is it possible? Over the next couple of months, I plan to explore some of these questions and hopefully provide some helpful answers. No guarantee on the latter.
So, what is courtship?
Courtship is intentional dating with a commitment to pleasing God and finding out whether two people are called to be married.
Let’s walk through this definition together.
Courtship is intentional dating. This means we don’t date just anyone. We don’t date carelessly or haphazardly. We date carefully and intentionally.
Among others, there are two reasons I believe we should date intentionally. One is because God has called us in holiness. God clearly tells us that His will for us is our sanctification, our purity – that we would not be sexually immoral but would rather carry ourselves in holiness and in honor (1 The 4:3-4). “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (7).
This calling should drastically affect every area of our lives – including the way we date. We must date carefully so that we walk in holiness and in purity. We must date intentionally so that we are not led astray by a deceitful suitor. Throughout Proverbs, we are warned against adulteresses whose lips drip honey and whose speech is smooth (Pro 5:3-4). Obviously, things are not as they appear. The foolish man is led into her chambers because he was not careful and did not consider her character. And his soul was destroyed.
On a lighter note, another reason to date intentionally is because God has called us to marry only one man or woman. God has called us to marry one person. We don’t have to know whether every one we see is “the one.” We are freed to wait on God to make things clear and to rest in His promises to provide us a helpmate. We don’t have to date everyone.
So, courtship is intentional dating. Come back next week as we walk through the rest of the definition.
P.S. Let’s continue the dialogue in the comments section!
by Travis Maples
This is the title of John Piper’s biographical sketch of Adonirum Judson. I want to encourage anybody and everybody to read Christian biographies. They serve my soul in more ways than you can imagine and Piper has sketched out the lives of several men that will certainly inspire you to see and savor Jesus Christ more and more. After all that’s what the author of Hebrews does for us in chapter 11 right? Beginning with Abel and ending with Rahab, the author systematically draws out a very short biographical sketch of those that had gone before and lived lives of extraordinary faith. His intent was to encourage people by pointing out the lives of the dead. He uses their lives to supplement his initial definition by showing how they practically put faith into action. There’s an intended response when we read biographies like these, it should have an effect in our souls when we see the way the those that have gone before us lived for another person in another place. That person is Jesus and that place is heaven. “Therefore”, Hebrews 12:1 tell us, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” But not forgetting the most supreme biographical sketch we look to “Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy tha was set before him endured the cross”(Hebrews 12:2).
For further reading on the exhortation to read Christian Biography click here. Here is a list of biography products that Desiring God has made available. I’ve read most of them and I have to say my personal faves are George Mueller, Adonirum Judson and Charles Spurgeon.
Filed under: Leadership
by Mike Plewniak
I had the privilege to speak at VFC last night on the importance of the local church in the believer’s life. As I was preparing, I came upon this list of how the NT describes the local church. It’s hard to read through this and NOT be convinced that God created the church and that it has an important role in His plan for history. So men, does your life reflect a passion, commitment, and love for God’s church? Are you serving faithfully in a local church?
NT descriptions of the church:
– Temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16-18; Eph 2:21)
– New humanity (Romans 5:12-17; Eph. 2:15)
– Body where each member is significant (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Col. 1:18)
– As a body, it grows and matures (Col. 2:19; Eph. 4:16)
– Household of God (1 Tim 3:15)
– God’s field (1 Cor. 3:9)
– Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33)
– An army of the Spirit (Gal. 5:25 – 6:5)
– The pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)
It is through the church that God decided to reveal his manifold wisdom (Eph. 3:10). God gives us gifts of leadership in the church of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors (Eph. 4:11). We are equipped to serve God faithfully in the church (Eph. 4:12; 1 Cor. 12). We are guarded from false doctrine and wrong belief in the local church (1 Tim. 4 and the book of 1 John).
How important is the local church in the life of the Christian — it is vital!
By Walt Alexander
In reading a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a mid-20th century, superbad preacher, on the infamous scene of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14, I was stunned by a number of things he said. Here are a few.
What is faith – that lunged Peter out of the boat?
The Christian faith begins and ends with a knowledge of the Lord. It begins with a knowledge of the Lord – not a feeling, not an act of the will, but a knowledge of this Blessed Person. There is no value in any feeling unless it is based upon this. Christianity is Christ, and Christian faith means believing certain things about Him and knowing Him, knowing that He is the Lord of Glory come down amongst us, knowing something about the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth, knowing why He came, knowing what He did when He came, knowing something about His atoning work, knowing that He came…
What is nature of continued faith – of walking continually like Peter?
So keep steadily looking at Him. You cannot live on an initial faith – that is what Peter seems to have been trying to do. He started off with great faith and then instead of going on with faith he tries to live on it. You cannot live on an initial faith. Do not try to live on your conversion. You will be done before you know where you are. You cannot live on one climactic experience, you must keeping looking to Him every day. ‘We walk by faith’ and you live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You need Him as much on your death-bed as you did on the night you were converted; you need Him all the time.
Ponder that and be stunned with me. And if you want more, buy this.
Filed under: Evangelism
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” Psalm 14:1
The Fool defined:
“So a fool is one that hath lost his wisdom, and right notion of God and divine things which were communicated to man by creation; one dead in sin, yet one not so much void of rational faculties as of grace in those faculties, not one that wants reason, but abuses his reason.”
The fool says in his heart:
” … he thinks, or he doubts, or he wishes…he wishes there were not any [God].” The atheist has “tampered with his own heart to bring it to that persuasion, and smothered in himself those notices of a Deity; which is so plain against the light of nature, that such a man may well be called a fool for it.”
I point us to this writing not to mock the atheist but to reveal what’s really going on. It is helpful to be aware of this inward condition of the heart when we seek to reach the lost, especially the atheist. It’s a sad state. It is an indictment of their hearts. They have intentionally choked out any acknowledgment of God out of their minds and hearts and so they are without excuse. Let this understanding of sin inform our evangelism. Let it tear out any self righteous residue that would cling to our words. When we are aware of what’s going on below the surface we quickly see that we cannot rely on our own arguments, or own little phrases when engaging the lost. Instead we pray, we cry out to God for help. We pray for the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit to break forth in our conversation. It nudges out any room for pride and arrogance when were talking to folks that have blotted out the knowledge of God. Because that was us. Maybe not so antagonistically like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris. But, nonetheless, we all lived a life that did not practically acknowledge God.
When we finish the verse we quickly find that we ourselves don’t escape such an indictment. “there is none who does good.”
“No man is exempted from some spice of atheism by the depravation of his nature, which the psalmist intimates, ‘there is none that doeth good;’ though there are indelible convictions of the being of a God, that they cannot absolutely deny it; yet there are some atheistical bubblings in the hearts of men, which evidence themselves in their actions.”
Filed under: Books
by Mike Plewniak
20 Reasons to Read (Good Christian Books)…
1. You will grow in your knowledge of God, yourself and the world around you
2. You will gain a better understanding of the bible, the book of books
3. You will broaden your English vocabluary, helping you to express similar truths to your congregation in fresh ways
4. You will have an improved imagination and actively engage your mind in a way that probably won’t occur when watching TV
5. You will be able to sit at the feet of some of the great Christian teachers and minds over the centuries (even if you have few ‘living’ teachers to assist you)
6. You will be forced to cease from incessant activity and think
7. You will receive a historical perspective on current problems and spot present day blindspots
8. You will have some of your questions answered and confront other questions you hadn’t even thought of
9. You will be able to practically apply Paul’s command to think upon “wholesome” things
10. You will develop a sense of how arguments are constructed and be able to weigh both strong and weak arguments
11. You will enjoy spiritual input during the week, not just on a Sunday (if not a pastor)
12. You will (if a pastor) be able to enage with other issues beyond this week’s text, thus broadening your perspective.
13. You will be able to mull over a subject. You will be able to put the book down to think, chew over a sentance or re-read a paragraph. You will be able to exploring an issue at length, rather than brush over a topic too quickly
14. You will be better prepared for the task of evangelism, after reading clear presentations of the gospel by great communicators
15. You will be better prepared for the task of discipleship, having a good way to open up discussion about Christian life issues (what are you reading?)
16. You will be made aware of how Christians interpret and apply Scripture differently in various cultural contexts
17. You will gain information for your ignorance, inspiration for your weariness, and insight for complex problems
18. You will be better equipped to lead in your church, marriage and family
19. You will be stimulated, as in a good conversation, to new lines of thinking
20. You will be drawn to worship God, especially when the book centres on God not man