Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Does a Husband Have the Authority To...?

Central to my teaching and counseling ministry to men is the gospel, exhorting them to live in light of it's power, grace, truth and freedom, and reminding them of their identity in Christ. We live in the most confused and compromised generation in our history about what it means to be a man. Therefore, the most critical message to them is that authentic manhood - real masculinity - is grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ and modeled by Him in His 33 years on earth.

One of my continual reminders to men about their God-given roles, responsibilities and privileges is this: A husband has no right to force his wife to do something against her will or to rule over her. Rather in emulation of Christ, he is to love her unconditionally and sacrificially, to cherish her, to shepherd her and to cause her to flourish in faith and practice. Mary Kassian puts this blessed biblical truth well when she writes, “It is not the husband’s right to force or coerce his wife to submit. Submission is voluntary on a wife’s part, and her choice entirely.” Read more from Mary below:

Does a husband have the authority to take his wife’s phone away, preventing her from making calls?

Does a husband have the authority to take his wife’s car keys? House keys?

Does a husband have the authority to physically prevent his wife from leaving the home?

Does a husband have the authority to physically force his wife to accompany him when he leaves the home?

Does a husband have the authority to lock his wife out of the house?

Does a husband have the authority to keep financial documents away from his wife?

Does a husband have the authority to take the wife’s personal property without consent?

These are not theoretical questions. They were posed to me by Ruth Tucker, a woman whose ex-husband claimed the Bible gave him the right to do these things. I share them here with her permission.

All of Ruth’s questions pertain to the issue of whether a husband has a right to force his wife to do something against her will. I believe that the Bible teaches that a husband’s position as head of the home does not give him the right to rule, but rather the responsibility to provide loving oversight. A husband is not imparted with privilege; he is entrusted with obligation—the obligation to love, cherish and shepherd, in emulation of Christ.

Though complementarians have consistently upheld this view, this truth deserves to be stated and restated with clarity: It is not the husband’s right to force or coerce his wife to submit. Submission is voluntary on a wife’s part, and her choice entirely.

A Radically Different View of Authority

Culture upholds authority as the right to rule and lord it over others, but Scripture paints a radically different picture about the true nature of authority. It teaches that:

Authority is not self-appointed; it’s delegated by God.

Authority is not personally owned; it merely stewards and manages that which belongs to God.

Authority is not about rights; it’s about responsibility.

Authority is not about seeking prominence; it’s about giving prominence.

Authority is not domineering and dictatorial; it’s humble and gentle.

Authority is not about getting; it’s about giving.

Authority is not about selfish gain; it’s about selfless sacrifice.

Every authority is accountable to a higher authority, and all are accountable to God the Father, who is the ultimate authority.

Godly authority is motivated by love and commitment. Godly authority builds up; it doesn’t tear down. Godly authority serves as a channel of God’s protection and blessing. Godly authority watches over the well-being of others. Godly authority works with them, and for their joy. Godly authority doesn’t glorify self; it glorifies God. It puts His character on display.

It Must Not Be Like That Among Us

So my answer to Ruth’s questions—and the answer I would expect from all my fellow complementarians—is a clear and resounding “no.”

No. A husband does not have the right to take his wife’s phone away, preventing her from making calls.

No. A husband does not have the right to take his wife’s car keys or house keys.

No. A husband does not have the right to physically prevent his wife from leaving the home.

No. A husband does not have the right to physically force his wife to accompany him when he leaves the home.

No. A husband does not have the right to lock his wife out of the house.

Jesus condemned a personal-power view of authority. He condemned men who exercised authority in a selfish, domineering manner. He said, “It must not be like that among you!” (Mark 10:43-45)

The misuse/abuse of authority is an abomination to God. He wants leaders to be shepherds after His own heart.
(Jeremiah 23:2; Ezekiel 34:1-4; Zechariah 11:17).

Some of the Bible’s most scathing condemnations are directed toward leaders who fail to exercise authority in a godly manner. The Lord’s anger burns hot against them (Zechariah 10:3).

According to the Bible, a wife’s submission is her choice alone. A husband does not have the right to force or coerce her to do things against her will. He does not have the right to domineer. He does not have the right to pull rank and use strong-arm tactics. He does not have the right to make his wife submit. No. According to the author of our faith, it must not be like that among us!

Mary Kassian is an award winning author, internationally renowned speaker, and a distinguished professor of women's studies at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). She has published several books, Bible studies and videos, including: In My Father's House: Finding Your Heart's True Home, Conversation Peace, and Vertically Inclined. At home in Alberta, Canada, Mary watches lots of sports! Three teenage sons play ice hockey, and her husband, Brent, is chaplain for the local professional football team. The Kassians enjoy biking, hiking, snorkeling, music, board games, mountains, campfires, and their family's black lab, General Beau. Read more about Mary at her personal web site:

Monday, July 18, 2016

What It Means To Be a Policeman by Paul Harvey

Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey was born Paul Harvey Aurandt (1918-2009). He was the son of an Oklahoma police officer who was shot and killed when Paul was only two years old.  Paul shortened his name to simply “Paul Harvey” for his three quarters of a century on the radio.

Paul Harvey’s dad and a police detective were off duty and had been rabbit hunting in the woods outside Tulsa when three would-be robbers shot them while sitting in their car.  Despite wounds in his lung, leg and liver, Paul’s dad…Officer Aurandt…drove a mile to a farmhouse seeking help…and died two days later.

Paul Harvey never really knew his dad…but knowing what had happened, having the benefit of a strong surviving family unit and an inherited work ethic, and probably because of the times and atmosphere in which he grew up…Paul had an abiding and deep rooted respect for “law and order”…and he broadcast its values to the world until he died at age 90.

On one of his broadcasts back in 1970, when there was rising concerns about crime and violence, Paul Harvey told of how his generation saw and treasured law enforcement officers…by appropriately, respectfully telling the story…”What Is A Policeman”.  In honor of and appreciation for all those who serve us uniform, even giving up their lives for our sake, we share the text and video clip of Paul Harvey's 1970 broadcast with you below:

“What are policemen made of? A policeman is a composite of what all men are, mingling of a saint and sinner, dust and deity. Gulled statistics wave the fan over the stinkers, underscore instances of dishonesty and brutality because they are ‘new.’ What they really mean is that they are exceptional, unusual, not commonplace.

“Buried under the frost is the fact: Less than one-half of 1 percent of policemen misfit the uniform. That’s a better average than you’d find among clergy!

“What is a policeman made of? He, of all men, is once the most needed and the most unwanted. He’s a strangely nameless creature who is ‘sir’ to his face and ‘fuzz’ (or worse) to his back. He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won.

“But if a policeman is neat, he’s conceited; if he’s careless, he’s a bum. If he’s pleasant, he’s flirting; if not, he’s a grouch. He must make an instant decision which would require months for a lawyer to make. But if he hurries, he’s careless; if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy.

“He must be first to an accident and infallible with his diagnosis. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp. Or expect to get sued.

“The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being ‘brutal.’ If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully.

“A policeman must know everything and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not partake. A policeman must, from a single strand of hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal, and tell you where the criminal is hiding. But, if he catches the criminal, he’s lucky; if he doesn’t, he’s a dunce. If he gets promoted, he has political pull; if he doesn’t, he’s a dullard.

“The policeman must chase a bum lead to a dead-end, stake out 10 nights to tag one witness who saw it happen — but refused to remember. The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy and a gentleman. And, of course, he’d have to be a genius — for he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.”


Monday, June 27, 2016

The Mission of the Church

"Like our own lives, the church is gospel-driven. Every new-covenant command is grounded in the
gospel. We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:10, 19). We choose Christ because he chose us (John 15:16; Eph. 1:4–5, 11; 2 Thess. 2:13). We are called to holiness because we are already declared to be holy in Christ, clothed in his righteousness (Col. 1:22; 3:12; 1 Cor. 1:30). Because we have been crucified, buried, and raised with Christ, we are no longer under the tyranny of sin and are therefore to offer up ourselves in body and soul to righteousness (Rom. 6:1–14). In view of “the mercies of God,” we are called to “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). Similarly, in our corporate calling as the church, we are always responding to a state of affairs that God has spoken into being, rather than creating that reality ourselves. The church’s mission is grounded in God’s mission, which he fulfilled objectively in his Son and whose subjective effect he is bringing about in the world through his Spirit. Because the Father sent the Son and then the Spirit, we are sent into all the world with the gospel. So being mission-driven is really the same as being gospel-driven. As believers and as churches, we are motivated by the mission of the Triune God, as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit save us and send us with that saving message to our neighbors.

by Michael Horton, The Gospel Commission, p. 24

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Transgender Conversation You Need to Have With Your Family

A friend of mine told me about her recent experience in an airport security line. She was dutifully passing through the metal detector when she heard a beep and was told she would need the pat-down procedure. It is the right of the traveler to have that procedure performed by someone of the same gender and so, as per protocol, the call went out for a female officer to assist. But as the pat-down began, my friend realized that the officer was undeniably biologically male though identifying as female. She did not know what to do or say, so simply allowed the pat-down to proceed. As she walked away, she realized that she was more surprised than offended. It had just never occurred to her that she might unexpectedly find herself being frisked by a man whom she had been told was a woman.

As you know, new laws are allowing transgender people to craft their own identity and then to have society treat them accordingly. A biological male who identifies as a woman is allowed to use the bathroom or locker room associated with his new identity. He is also granted the right to be considered female. In this way sex and gender are being deliberately disconnected so that words like “man” and “woman” have no necessary correlation to “male” and “female” or “masculine” and “feminine.” And, for that reason, we find ourselves facing new scenarios like the one my friend described. However, such situations are rare because transgenderism is rare.

The same laws that allow transgender persons into their preferred bathroom or locker room allow everybody else in as well

But there is something that, to my mind, is of greater and wider concern. It is the fact that the same laws that allow transgender people to craft their own identity allow expansive rights to anyone else. The same laws that allow transgender persons into their preferred bathroom or locker room allow everybody else in as well—and to let them in without question or censure. Societal pressure and new legislation permits people to use the bathroom or locker room most closely associated with their gender identity, but do not allow anyone else to question that identity. This opens up the potential for some very difficult or even dangerous situations.

TIME covered one of them in an article titled Even in Liberal Communities, Transgender Bathroom Laws Worry Parents. The article tells of a pool in New York City where a man began to routinely change in the women’s locker room. This room was simultaneously used by young girls preparing for swim practice and they were made uncomfortable by his presence, his nudity, and his obvious masculinity—there was no hint about him that he identified as female. But there was nothing the pool employees could do because policy does not allow them to question him in any way. So the girls crowded together in the single-use family change room instead. Similarly, in Seattle a man recently deliberately disrobed in front of young girls. “Officials said he had made no attempt to present himself as a woman, nor to identify as transgender when he checked in. By all appearances, he was a man.” Yet a spokesman said, “We have guidelines that allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.” Those same guidelines do not allow them to ask for proof that the person does, indeed, identify in that way. Thus, he is allowed to undress in the room of his choice regardless of whether he actually considers himself transgender. Looking at such stories—and there are a growing number like them—, we come to realize that the transgender conversation has brought with it a host of others. This is the transgender conversation you need to have with your family—the conversation about what has come along with transgenderism.

Jennifer Oshman recently wrote about moving to a nation in Europe and being unprepared for some of what she and her family encountered there. They quickly learned that locker rooms in their new home were governed by very different norms. “While the locker rooms at the high school were indeed gender separate, we were surprised to find that locker rooms at local gyms were not. Rather one large locker room served both genders. You can imagine our surprise when my husband entered the door marked for men and my daughters and I entered the door marked for women and we ended up in the same room, surveying people of both genders and all ages changing in one place.” They could not run away from such situations so had to learn to navigate them well.

We found ourselves in multiple situations that we could not change or even complain about. We had to be creative in how we handled them—wanting at once to be wise stewards of our daughters’ hearts, while at the same time not wanting to drive a wedge between ourselves and the culture we had come to love and desired to serve. This dual goal is really at the heart of any Christian parent in any scenario.

She and her family were forced to learn to navigate a foreign culture. And they did. They learned to navigate it through both protection and education. As far as possible they protected their girls from danger by accompanying them into difficult situations and, for those times they could not offer direct protection, they taught them appropriate attitudes and actions.

You and I, too, are now navigating an increasingly foreign culture, a culture that has suddenly swept into being around us. If we are going to live well in this culture, we need to think through certain scenarios and consider how we will respond to them. As parents, we need to consider scenarios our children may face and teach them how to respond as well. These are not just conversations about transgenderism and scenarios that may unfold as we encounter and interact with transgender people, but conversations about the scenarios that may accompany it. Such scenarios will be different for each family in each context, but here are a few examples, none of which is entirely unlikely.
What will you do if you walk into a locker room at your pool or gym and come face to face with a naked person of the opposite sex? You may not know in that moment if that person is transgender, if that person is confused, or if that person is a predator. What will you want your spouse to do if he or she encounters this situation? Will you shrug it off? Will you walk out? Will you bring it to the attention of the management? What will you expect management to do?

What will you expect your son to do if a transgender student or team member insists on showering with him and with the other boys (or your daughter if a boy insists on showering with her)? What will you expect your daughter to do if she goes into the locker room at the pool and sees a man lounging naked by his locker (a scenario that unfolded not long ago for parents in Olympia)? Or what if she is out with friends, ducks out of the movie theatre to use the bathroom, and finds herself walking in side by side with a bearded man?

What will you do when you are told you need that TSA pat-down and they dispatch an officer who is the opposite gender to you but claiming to be the same? What if it’s your body-conscious teenaged daughter who is about to be patted down by a person claiming to be female but who is sporting a beard?

I know as I write these questions that some will accuse me of fear-mongering and, inevitably, of bigotry. But hear me: My concern is that we are hurtling full-speed into untested territory and we and our children are the ones who will need to figure out how to navigate it well. As we do that we may find ourselves in situations that are trying or even dangerous. We just don’t know what our world will look like when we begin to break down the barriers between sex and gender. Again, the very same laws that allow transgender rights extend those rights to anyone who wishes to take advantage of them. We simply don’t know who will take advantage of them to take advantage of others. We just don’t know. To carry out our mandate as parents, we need to offer our children both protection and education. We owe it to them and we owe it to the One who created them. We need to have this conversation.

by Tim Challies, who is founding blogger of, a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, and author of The Next Story.

Monday, May 23, 2016

One of the Church's Greatest Pastors to Men

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a man's preacher, and his ministry reflected that.

He influenced men—and he is still influencing men from the grave. And even though he was criticized and despised and belittled in his own time for being too aggressive in his defense of the truth, notice that we still read Spurgeon, and his words are still absolutely relevant to our times. But everyone has utterly forgotten all the effeminate preachers of that era who at the time were absolutely certain that they were more "relevant" because they were more in tune with their own times than Spurgeon was.

You know what? They were wrong. And they were wrong for the same reason people are wrong today to follow whatever is deemed stylish. We ought to let Scripture, not the trends of secular culture, define for us what the church should be like.

The Bible says the church ought to be led by men, and every man in the church ought to aspire to be like the perfect man, Jesus Christ. And that involves, among other things, the manly proclamation and defense of the truth of Scripture; as well as aiming to be living reflections of the kind of character He embodied—including, of course, the fruit of the Spirit, courage, conviction, compassion, zeal for the truth, and the kind of gentleness that keeps those characteristics in proper balance, as opposed to nullifying them.

by Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You, John MacArthur's ministry

37 Things You Need to Know About Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, May 16, 2016

10 Unforgettable Lessons on Fatherhood

In public, my dad was one of the great pastors of his generation. He served most notably for twenty fruitful years at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, where John and Noel Piper worshiped during their Fuller Seminary days. Dad and John were dear friends.

In private, my dad was the same man. There was only one Ray Ortlund, Sr. — an authentic Christian man. The distance between what I saw in the New Testament and what I saw in my dad was slight. He was the most Christlike man I’ve ever known, the kind of man, the kind of father, I long to be.

In no particular order, here are ten lessons on fatherhood I learned from watching him, each lesson living on in my life from memories of his care for me.

1. He was never too busy.

My dad was a busy pastor, but he was never too busy for me. When he felt he hadn’t had enough time with me, he’d say, “Hey Bud, want to skip school tomorrow and go down to the beach?” It didn’t take me long to agree to that! So off we went. We surfed and talked and had fun together. The next day he’d write a note to the school to explain my absence, and when I took it to the principal’s office they always marked my absence “Unexcused.” I guess the reason didn’t count with them — a father wanting to catch up with his son. But dad didn’t care. I mattered to him. And I knew it.

2. He was a Bible man.

My dad was wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus. On my seventeenth birthday, he and my mom gave me a new Bible. In the front he wrote the following:


Nothing could be greater than to have a son — a son who loves the Lord and walks with Him. Your mother and I have found this Book our dearest treasure. We give it to you and doing so can give nothing greater. Be a student of the Bible and your life will be full of blessing. We love you.

Philippians 1:6

When I read that, I knew my dad meant every word of it. He was a Bible man, and the blessing he wrote about was obvious in his own life.

3. He praised God.

As a kid growing up, I didn’t need an alarm clock most mornings. I woke up to the sound of my dad singing in the shower down the hallway. Every morning he sang heartily and cheerfully this hymn:

When morning gilds the skies
My heart awaking cries
May Jesus Christ be praised
Alike at work or prayer
To Jesus I repair
May Jesus Christ be praised

Many men are hard to read. I have no idea what they stand for. But I never wondered about my dad — what he cared most about, what he was living for. Never once. At all. Not even a little. He did not take a keep-a-low-profile approach to life. Jesus was too wonderful to him. He praised the Lord throughout his life, in public, in private, in a clear and winsome way that could not be ignored.

4. He cheered me on.

My dad set me free to pursue God’s call on my life. He guided me in appropriate ways, of course, but he did not fearfully cling to me or hope I would always live nearby. Just the opposite. He urged me to follow Christ anywhere. Now and then he’d make this speech: “Listen, son. Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know enough about God to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy. Be all-out for him! I don’t care if you’re a ditch-digger, as long as you love the Lord with all your heart.”

He was not impressed with worldly success and going to the right schools and all that pretense and bluff. He wanted something better for me, something I had to find on my own. But I never doubted how urgently he desired for me a clear call from God on my life. And I did receive it, partly because my dad didn’t intrude himself into it but cheered me on as I followed the Lord myself.

5. He had a real walk with God.

I remember going downstairs early one morning and walking in on my dad in the living room. There he was, on his knees, his face buried in his hands, absorbed in silent prayer. He didn’t know anyone else was up. It wasn’t for show. It was real. My dad had a real walk with God. It never occurred to me to wonder if Jesus was the Lord of his heart and of our home. Dad loved the gospel. He served the church. He witnessed to our neighbors. He even tithed when he couldn’t afford it. He set the tone of our home, and our home was a place of joy, honesty, and comfort. Jesus was there.

6. He taught me theology in the backyard.

One day when I was 11 or 12, while we were doing yard work outside — I can’t remember the context — my dad stopped, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You know, Bud, before time began, God chose you.” I was floored. Almighty God thought of tiny me? Way back then? I felt so loved by God. Years later, when I became aware of the doctrine of election as such, I had no problem with it. I loved it. My dad had begun my theological education in my boyhood in the course of everyday conversation.

7. He loved us when it wasn’t easy.

My mom told me once that dad had a practice as he came home at the end of each day. He worked hard throughout the day and he came home tired. So as he walked up the back steps, before he reached out to open the back door, he would lift a simple prayer to God, “Lord, I need some extra energy right now.” And God answered that prayer. I never saw my dad walk in with no positive emotion to give. Instead, he’d walk over to my mom, kiss her with a huge kiss, and then turn to me and say, “Come on, Skip, let’s wrestle!” And we’d go out to the front room and wrestle on the floor and tickle and laugh and have a blast. The moment-by-moment reality of God in my dad’s heart gave him energy to love his family when it wasn’t easy.

8. He helped me love the church.

The fact that dad was a pastor made me “the preacher’s kid,” obviously. Every now and then well-meaning church people said foolish things to me, as if I had to be perfect or superior or something they expected. So dad said to me once, “Son, when people say things like that, they don’t mean any harm. But it isn’t fair. They don’t realize that. I want you to know, you can ignore it.”

Dad had high standards for Christian living. But he was wise enough to know that a ten-year-old follows Christ in a way different from a forty-year-old. He was realistic and compassionate. He made allowances for me to be a Christian kid. And he is the primary earthly reason why I love the church today. He wisely showed me how church life does not need to be oppressive.

9. He lived his faith simply and practically.

Dad showed me how to walk with the Lord in practical ways. For example, here is a statement he settled on as his own daily path:

My Morning Statement of Faith
I believe that today:

1.      God is sovereignly directing my life as I yield myself to him, and that he loves me unconditionally, and I love him and put him first in my life.

2.      Christ is my Lord and Master, and I seek to abide in him and do his will immediately and exactly.

3.      The Holy Spirit is my friend, teacher, and guide, who will open and close doors today and fill me with himself to make me an effective servant.

4.      I now commit my wife and family to the Lord, who loves them as well as others I love. They too are in his sovereign care.

5.      I step out in bold faith and relax in the Lord, and enjoy this day given to me by him. I trust him to use me today.

It’s simple, but valid. Dad exemplified how to make daily Christianity accessible and practical.

10. He told me ministry isn’t everything.

Being a “preacher’s kid” was sometimes difficult, as I mentioned. But more than offsetting this difficulty was my dad’s love for me and my admiration for him. I adored him. I still do. Even as I write this, I choke up. I miss him so. Being the son of a godly pastor was a sacred privilege given to me as a gift from God himself. My respect for my dad and his personal attractiveness — the real Christianity I saw in him, the beauty with which he served as a pastor even when he suffered — the personal impact of it all was that I grew to revere the pastoral ministry. And today I am rejoicing to be a pastor myself. Which brings me to my final scenario.

Early on Sunday, July 22, 2007, my dad woke up in his hospital room in Newport Beach. He knew it was finally his day of release from this life. He had the nurse call the family in. My wife Jani and I were far away in Ireland for ministry that day. We didn’t know what was happening back home. But the family gathered at dad’s bedside. They read Scripture. They sang hymns. Dad spoke a word of patriarchal blessing and admonition to each one, a message suited to encourage and guide. He pronounced over them all the blessing of Aaron: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26).

And then, quietly, he fell asleep.

Later I asked my sister about dad’s message to me. It was this: “Tell Bud, ministry isn’t everything. Jesus is.”

My dad’s dying words summed up his parenting and his whole life. 

by Ray Ortlund (@rayortlund) is lead pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee and blogs at The Gospel Coalition.