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Friday, January 27, 2017

my 4th-great Aunt Ruth

I recently found a 200-year-old article about a family member who died in 1810. She was a daughter of my 4th-great grandfather, making her my 4th-great aunt.  I offer her story, written by her husband, as an example of how to live, and how to die.  I look forward to meeting her some day! 
Words in [brackets] were added by me.  The spelling and punctuation have been left as they were originally written in 1813.  I added a few comments at the end.

Memoir of Mrs. Ruth Roach, [maiden: Dixon, daughter of Charles Dunbar Dixon III and Susanna (Coats) Dixon], Of Cumberland, Nova Scotia. written by her husband. [Thomas Roach on the passing of his wife, Ruth Roach. Published in the Wesleyan-Methodist Journal, London, VOL. XXXVIII.  May, 1815, p. 359ff]
My late dear partner was the third daughter of Charles Dixon, Esq. who removed from about Hutton Rudby, in Yorkshire, to Nova Scotia, in the year 1771, with many others, several of whom, as well as Mr. Dixon, were members of the Methodist Society, and were among the first fruits of the labours of that man of God, the Rev. John Wesley.
My dear wife was brought up by her parents in the fear of God, and in a strict observance of the duties of religion.  In her youth she manifested a love to the ways of God, and to his people, especially to his ministers, as the heralds of salvation.  When about eighteen years of age, she joined the Methodist society, and soon found the Gospel to be the power of God to her salvation.  Being of a very diffident [distrustful, reserved, hesitant] disposition, and afraid of deceiving herself, she was for a long time, previous to her joining the society, in great distress of mind;  at length, after many months of sorrow, chiefly spent in tears and prayers, she was enabled wholly to trust [line of perhaps 8 words or so blotted out].  Her upright and exemplary conduct was manifest to all;  and she was considered by all who knew her, as “an Israelite indeed.”
After some years acquaintance, during which time many prayers were offered up to God for his blessing and direction in the most important of all steps in life, we were married on the 30th of October, 1798;  and during more than sixteen years that we lived together, I never once had cause to think otherwise than that our union was of the Lord.  I found her to be what I had always thought her, a humble, modest, meek, and sincere follower of the Lord Jesus;  attentive to her whole duty, not only to her God, but to her family and children.  She was indeed a most affectionate wife, and a tender, indulgent mother;  attentive to all her relative duties, even to an extreme.  She was always industrious and diligent in her family, and in attending constantly to her domestic concerns, and to that apostolic direction, to be not only “chaste,” but “a keeper at home.”  Yet she always attended the ordinances of God, and the means of grace, as far as her health and the cares of her family, would permit. Many were the afflictions which my dear partner in life endured;  being of a very delicate constitution, and for some time previous to her death, almost constantly visited with a severe pain in her breast, accompanied with a cough and shortness of breath, which at length terminated in her death.
On Saturday, the 24th of March [1810], my dear wife complained, in the morning, of a severe pain in her side, but endeavoured to attend to the concerns of the family as usual;  (her father and mother were at that time with us on a visit;)  but before noon of that day, she was oblidged to take to her bed, being attacked with violent pain, chiefly in her left side.  The only physician in that part of the country, (Doctor Rufus Smith, who married her sister) being from home, she was without any medical aid till Sunday evening, at which time being bled, and taking some medicine, she appeared better;  but in a few hours the pain returned with greater violence, accompanied with a fever, so that she had a restless night.  The next morning, the doctor visited her again, and took from her more blood;  but still the pain in her side, and her disorder continued and increased through the night.  But though her pain was excruciating, she endured it with the greatest patience and resignation to the divine will.
On Tuesday, the doctor bled her a third time, and left a blistering plaister to apply – indeed every means was used, in order to preserve a life so truly valuable and desirable to her family and numerous friends;  but her disorder had taken too deep root, to be removed by any medicine.  I then, for the first, began to fear that God was about to take from me my greatest earthly comfort.  I inquired of her the state of her mind, and she informed me, with her usual sweetness of temper, that she lamented her not having lived more devoted to God;  yet, said she, “I find him a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  The Lord is the portion of my soul, and I trust he will never leave me nor forsake me.” – My whole soul was in an agony, which she observing, in the most tender and affectionate manner, requested me not to be distressed;  expressing, at the same time, how near her heart my happiness lay;  and adding, “I trust God will spare me a little longer, for the sake of my dear little family;”  for all of whom she then prayed most fervently.  Indeed the happiness and salvation of her children were, at all times, deeply on her mind.  Often in the night, when she supposed all were asleep, have I heard her, with tears, earnestly intreating God to bestow his grace and blessing upon each of them.
On Wednesday she grew much worse, and the pain, at times, was so excessive, that she had to be bolstered up in a chair, not being able to lie in bed;  and hot cloths, sand, &c. were constantly applied to her side, to remove or mitigate the pain;  but all the means made use of, were ineffectual.  That night she was so ill, that we often thought she was dying:  her pain through the night made her, at times, a little delirious.  After having, on our knees, implored God on her behalf, she said to me, “My dear, will not God give me some relief from this pain, before he takes me hence?”. – I endeavoured to console her mind, by assuring her of God’s goodness and faithfulness, in taking care of his people;  and that God, no doubt, would make all his dispensations work for her ultimate good.  She then expressed a great desire to see her children that were from home;  the three eldest, a son and two daughters, being at a boarding school, the former at the distance of forty miles, and the latter at Windsor:  from which it was then impossible, either to receive or convey information, as the bason of Minos [now called Minas Basin] was filled with ice, and all communication stopped.  She then said to me, “My dear, you must be both a father and a mother to my dear children, especially the two youngest;”  repeating, “take care of my dear little Edward, (then about two years old,) and my poor little Tommy.  He was then about four years old, and lame.  She, at the same time, prayed earnestly for the salvation of all her children, and mentioned, with concern, her leaving them in such a sinful and wicked world.  I endeavored to relieve her mind on that subject, by reminding her of the special goodness and providence of her heavenly Father towards her all her life, and that he would also care of her children in like manner.  To Mrs. B------, a christian friend, who had continued with her during most of her illness, she expressed her hopes of a happy immortality, and her confidence in God her Saviour.
I could not bring my mind to the idea of parting with her, and still, at times, entertained hopes that God would spare her to me;  but on Thursday morning, she grew so ill, that all my hopes failed;  and I sent a man and horse for her eldest son, who, alas! came too late to see alive, one of the most tender and affectionate of mothers, though she had expressed a great wish to see him.
Mr. Knowlan, the missionary, who had been several times to see her during her short but severe illness, came this day, to whom she spoke freely respecting the things of God, and the concerns of her soul, saying, with peculiar emphasis, when he first entered the room, “I want dying faith!
In the afternoon of that day, seeing evidently that she soon would take her leave of all earthly things, her disorder having terminated in an inward mortification, my distress became insupportable;  my heart was harrowed to the bottom;  and I could only intreat of God, to prepare me for the awful event.  I could not bear to leave her for a moment.  She repeatedly mentioned to me her prospect of glory, and the preciousness of Christ;  and again prayed for her children;  and intreated of me, that I would continue to bring them up in the ways of God;  saying, it was a consolation to her, that she was leaving them with a father who had so diligently instructed them in the way to heaven:  and then said, “My dear, tell Susannah (her eldest daughter, then in her fifteenth year) she must be a mother to my little children;  and give as my dying charge, to her and her sister Jane, that I intreat them to love and fear God, and walk in his blessed ways.”  She then intreated God to bless all her children;  to give them his heavenly grace;  and to guide them to the end.
Seeing she was dying, my soul sunk in grief, and my distress was beyond description.  I brought her four children that were at home, to her bedside, (the youngest in my arms,) whom she embraced, and lifting up her dying eyes to heaven, she begged of God to bless him with his grace and salvation.  The same she did to her little Tommy;  and taking the other two (Charles and Mary) by the hands, she exhorted and intreated them to be loving to each other, and obedient to their parent;  and prayed for God’s blessing upon each of them.  After this, summoning all her strength and resolution, she begged of God to open her mouth, and enable her to speak for him, and praise him with her latest breath.  And, blessed be his holy name, he granted her request, so that she spoke of God to all present, in such a manner as astonished every one.  To her sister, Smith, (whom the doctor had brought that day, as he expected her sister was dying,) she said, “My dear sister, you also must pass through this same dark valley and shadow of death;  and exhorted her to prepare for it.  After this, she took her dying leave of all present, saying to each, in a manner, and with an emphasis that went to my very heart, and which I can never forget, “Farewel !  farewel !” and then, with uplifted eyes, added, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
Seeing my dear wife was just departing, taking her cold dying hands in mine, which she pressed with all her remaining strength, I asked her if Jesus will still precious, and if her views of glory increased?  She with some difficulty answered in the affirmative, and took her last dying leave of me, and, without a struggle or groan, resigned her happy spirit into the hands of that gracious God whom she had so many years loved and served!  Mr. Knowlan, and all in the room at the time, were improving the mournful event on their knees.  Thus did this saint of God take her everlasting flight from this world of sorrow, to the paradise of God, about six o’clock in the afternoon of Thursday, the 29th March, 1810, in the thirty-eighth year of her age [meaning she was what we’d call 37 years old], leaving an afflicted husband, with seven children, to deplore her irreparable loss.  But their loss is her eternal gain.  May I die the death of the righteous:  may my last end be like hers!
On the Sunday following, Mr. Knowlan endeavoured to improve this severe dispensation, to the greatest number of people ever before collected on the like mournful occasion in that part of the country [some records indicate 500 attended her funeral];  from Psalm cxvi. 15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints;”  and after sermon he consigned her mortal remains to the grave, amidst the tears of her numerous relations and friends.
[The End]

If you don’t have Ruth’s faith – if you can’t really comprehend what Mr. Roach wrote about his godly wife – if you haven’t been born again, made a new creature in Christ, and found complete forgiveness of all your sins by faith alone in Christ alone (not by works!) – then please!, read my little “gospel” (good news) page at www.RUforgiven.org .  For the glory of the risen Son, Dave.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

my 4th-great grandfather


This is a rather personal/family story, but am happy to be able to share it. My apologies for the length, but I trust it will be worthwhile! (Note: the sermon mentioned very well MAY have been an open-air sermon.)
Going through my parents' things, I came across and old book -- a biography of my great-great-great-great-grandfather. Please hear the dear testimony of this now-long-gone man. He wrote this in 1773 [links added by me, obviously]:  [note: please see comments added after the post]

"CHARLES DIXON came from Yorkshire, England, to Nova Scotia in the year 1772, and settled at Sackville, N. B. (New Brunswick).
I, Charles Dixon, was born March 8, old style, in the year 1730, at Kirleavington, near Yarm, in the East Riding of Yorkshire in Old England. I was brought up to the Bricklayer's trade with my Father... At the age of thirty-one I married Susanna Coates, by whom I have had one son and four daughters.
I was brought up a Protestant, or a member of the Church of England, and endeavored to demean myself as one on his Christian race; to live soberly, righteously and Godly in this present evil world, thinking, or at least had no doubt but I should obtain heaven at last.
But being at one time at Robinhood's Bay, near Whitby, I went to hear Thomas Secomb, a Methodist preacher, so called by way of derision. But his preaching was such as I never before heard, for his word was with power, it made me cry out in the bitterness of my soul, what must I do to be saved?
All my pretence of being a member of the church fell to the ground, I was condemned by her articles and homilies. I had broken my baptismal covenant, and was in fact a baptized heathen with a Christian name. For the space of about twelve months I went mourning all my days under a sense of guilt, and bowed down with the Spirit of bondage, but seeking for and asking of God, that Spirit wherewith He made His children free; that I might rejoice with his chosen, and give thanks with his inheritance. At length on Wednesday, September the 21st, 1757, while seeking and striving upon my knees, the Lord proclaimed his name merciful and gracious to forgive my iniquities, healed all my diseases, and set my soul at liberty. ..."

Note that for a number of generations, in the late 1700s and 1800s, a number of my subsequent male ancestors were Methodist preachers -- back when Methodism was still truly Christian and gospel-centered. I look forward to meeting many of them some day! Praise be to Christ!

By the way, he and his wife Susanna (which is also my wife's name) ended up with 8 children, though they had only 5 when he wrote this.  The Lord has blessed me and my Susanna with 7.

Also, I was saved by the same gospel preaching of a Wesleyan(Methodist) preacher -- such preaching I had never before heard! -- back when I was in college. The Lord showed me my lost estate, that I was a sinner in need of salvation, and forgiveness was by faith in Christ, not by works.  I'm not an Arminian, but I do love and appreciate my gospel-preaching Bible-believing Arminian brethren!

SDG, Dave

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

the very sad reason I just left my church

This is a very sad story, but it is also true.  I’ve endeavored to be as accurate and objective as possible. 
It is a story I never could have imagined would happen.  I hope it is educational, and most of all, I hope it spurs and encourages holiness in your life, in my life, and in the body of Christ.  (Certain details are being left out, for reasons that will become rather obvious, but it doesn’t affect the heart of the story or the lessons to be learned.)
It began, of all places, on Facebook.  I was simply reading the “feed”, not looking for anything in particular or at any person’s page.  Then I saw it, and I immediately got a sick feeling in my gut.  Moments later, I had a heavy heart.
A fellow church member had posted a short blurb lauding and linking to HBO’s infamous and popular series called “Game of Thrones”.  It was grievous to see.
I didn’t know a lot about the show, but it makes the news often enough that I knew that it was filthy and entirely inappropriate for someone naming the name of Christ.  Why?  Because the Bible says so.
What is a Christian supposed to do when he sees a brother (or
sister) in sin?  Go blab to everyone except the person?  No!  (That would be gossip.)  We are to go to that person, and gently attempt restoration, so that the sin will cease (Gal. 6:1, Matt. 18:15).
I did this, however imperfectly, in person, very gently, mainly asking questions if this person really thought it an appropriate show to watch.  The conversation was cordial, and it ended with my thinking that it might spur some evaluation by the person, and I said I’d ask about it again at a later time.  I had hoped there would be realization that it was not something acceptable to Christ.
I tried several times to follow-up, but because of various circumstances (and partly fear on my part), the second conversation did not take place, and looking back, I don’t think the second conversation would have taken place in any meaningful way.  So I wrote an email.  I believe it was gracious and loving, and gave biblical reasons why watching such garbage is sinful, and I called for repentance.
Let’s just say it wasn’t well-received, to my sorrow.  The response was cordial, and assumed right motives on my part, but I was told that what I did was wrong, that “Christian liberty” allowed such viewing, and that in multiple discussions with the pastor, he was told that beer and smoking and R-rated movies are "not expressly prohibited and within the realm of an individual Christian's choice".  (Whether or not that is an accurate representation of those meetings, I do not know, but that was the claim.)  His response to me also said that nothing sinful had taken place, and – get this – that there wouldn’t be any more discussion of the matter.  (By the way, that last part was almost more disturbing than the issue itself.)
So what’s supposed to happen next, according to God’s Word?  Matthew 18:16 says “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED."  In my opinion, that step of the process does not necessarily require elder oversight.  However, in some or most circumstances, including this situation, I decided to get one or two elders to follow through on it with me.
I emailed them, describing the situation but NOT giving the person’s name or the particular TV show in question, and asking for direction -- not IF it needed to be done, but the best way of doing it, and getting one or two of them to go with me, as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the next 12 days, I was told a couple of times that they were working on it.  I became rather concerned, as it wasn’t that complicated and shouldn’t take that long.  I finally met with one in person, and had a good conversation, except that the bottom line was shocking and disturbing, namely, that they had all agreed it was not a church discipline situation.  None of them watched the show, and none of them wanted to, but they researched it, and certainly didn’t recommend the show, but they had agreed that it didn’t warrant church discipline.
So that you’re aware, this is a conservative, Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church (reformed and credo-baptist), one that subscribes to the “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” (#7 of which is church discipline). It is a church with many excellent and commendable attributes, and I would rate the theological education of the congregation as WAY above average.
I was dumbfounded.  Flabbergasted.  This wasn’t a difficult issue to discern.  It was really a no-brainer.  An easy decision.  After all, what Bible-believing church says that pornographic material isn’t a sin issue?
Being quite disturbed about this whole situation, I decided to ask four men – inside and outside of this church – men that I respect and trust – for advice.  I did NOT give names, but carefully and accurately described the situation, and all four, like me, were concerned that such wickedness would be tolerated in the church. 
I was advised to make sure there wasn’t some type of miscommunication, so I described (again) the content in Game of Thrones to the elders, asking if there was some misunderstanding.  The response was brief and clear:  yes, they understand the contents of the show, but that it was not a church discipline issue.
!!!
I didn’t want to react, or to act rashly, so I ended up taking a Sunday away (we went to church elsewhere), though I didn’t see any other resolution except leaving the church.

Let me pause for a bit, and make some comments, before I get to the conclusion of the story.
Since when did it become OK for a Christian to watch pornographic shows/movies?  (Answer: it hasn’t.)  Kevin DeYoung says there shouldn't even be a hint of that in our lives.
Since when do Bible-believing churches “allow” a church member to watch that garbage without doing something about it, or more specifically, doing what Jesus commanded in dealing with it?  After all, to quote Phil Johnson, “The church is supposed to be an army, waging war against
worldly values, not Hollywood's welcome wagon”   (from "The Backslidden Church", Shepherd's Conference 2010, general session 7, around the 10-minute mark).

I’ve been trying to figure out the theological underpinnings of what causes a Christian to watch such filth – as well as what makes a church fail to deal with such blatant and obvious sin.  Here are some possibilities – note I said possibilities – I am in no way accusing any one person of any of these things, because I don’t know what the root of this specific situation is – so these are just some possibilities for situations like this:
  • Antinomianism – lawlessness, against the law – the cry of “we’re not under law” is sometimes misused (horribly) to justify that which God’s law truly does prohibit.  This is a growing problem in our day, and was addressed very well by Jerry Wragg at Shepherds’ Conference 2014 (mp3).
  • A gross misunderstanding of Christian liberty – yes, we do have liberty, but not liberty to sin.  Watching smut and calling it “liberty” is a gargantuan distortion of true biblical liberty.
  • A misunderstanding of sin itself – what constitutes sin, and maybe even a mentality that says “The Bible doesn’t talk about TV shows, so anything goes”, which is really a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
  • A “YRR” (young, restless, and reformed) attitude where some younger Calvinists join the culture supposedly to win the culture, which sometimes includes bars, drinking, watching nasty stuff, and just a general worldliness.  It can include any or all of the 3 points mentioned above.
  • Simply, a love of sin.  Specifically, that is a church-going person that isn’t regenerate, isn’t saved, doesn’t know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, which, very sadly, is extremely common in our day (Matt. 7:21-23).  He loves sin, and makes excuses for it, or calls it “not sin”.
  • It can be tempting for church leaders to show favoritism.  This would make them “respecters of persons” (James 2:1-4).  Perhaps the offender is a good friend, or a big $$$ giver, or has sway in the church.  Maybe his kid might marry an elder’s kid.  Maybe he knows things, that if brought out, would bring harm to the church.  Whatever the cause, some church leaders wouldn’t pursue certain individuals because of who they are.  That is, of course, both shameful and sinful.
  • Some churches don’t understand church discipline, or what I tend to call “Christian restoration”.  They think it is a dirty chore to be avoided, instead of seeing it as the gospel in action.  They think of it as mean, when in fact it is very loving.  Some so-called churches don’t practice discipline at all, which is a gross error and clear disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Sometimes church leaders are afraid others will leave the church, thinking “if so-and-so is disciplined, then others will walk out the door”.  It is true that it could happen.  (I’ve seen it happen in a big way.)  But if the discipline is right, then we must do it, and the consequences are up to the Lord.
The bottom line, before I get back to finishing the story, is if YOU watch Game of Thrones or other shows or movies like it, then I urge you – repent.  Turn away from such wickedness.  Call it what it is, namely, sin.  Flee from it!  Run in the other direction!  Make no provision for it.  Unsubscribe from HBO and Showtime.  Chop the cable in half if needed.  And then flee to Christ.  Confess your foolishness, your hardness of heart, your sin, and ask Jesus to forgive and to help you turn away from evil.  Ask the Lord to cleanse you and set you on the straight and narrow.  Get and use some of these resources.  See Titus 2:11-12, Colossians 3:1-4, 1 John 1:9, as well as this list of relevant passages.
If you don’t watch it, but know of professed believers that do, then you must take action.  You must.  Lovingly and graciously ask about it, expose the evil for what it is, get the person to stop because it dishonors Christ, and if that doesn’t work, take 1 or 2 with you, because that is what has been commanded by our great God and Savior, our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.



Back to the very sad story, I emailed the elders again, with about 20 Scripture passages (very similar to this post), asking them to change their minds.
It was with grief that I received the response, namely, that they had not changed their minds.
In other words – in my view – even though Game of Thrones is porn and sinful, they’re not going to love the person(s) enough to do what Jesus has said we must do in confronting sin.  That is an egregious error.
My analysis of the results of that is this:
  • The offender would be left in his sin.
  • The purity of the church would be infected by someone who not only watches it, but says that watching such rubbish is within the bounds of liberty.  The damage is compounded since the person(s) involved remains in some sort of leadership position.
  • The name of Christ would be dishonored, by allowing such sin, and by not heeding His commands on how to deal with it (Matt. 18).
I don’t believe a person should leave a church easily or quickly, unless there is outright heresy.  But there are times when it is right to leave.
When should a person leave a church? A very short but very helpful GTY.org blog post makes it plain:  ...there are times when it becomes necessary to leave a church for the sake of one's own conscience, or out of a duty to obey God rather than men.  When is that?  When discipline is obviously needed but not practiced, and when unholy living is tolerated in the church, then it’s time to go.  That precisely describes the situation I was in. 
The morning after receiving the “final answer” – now several weeks ago as I write this – I emailed my resignation (as a deacon, and as a member) to the elders.  I’m very saddened and exceedingly disappointed.  If I had been an elder, I would have left.  If I had been a vocational (paid) elder (pastor), I would have left.  It is a hill I’ll stand on, without apology.  It is a hill that, if necessary, I would die on.
Don’t misunderstand – this isn’t a forgiveness issue.  I’m happy to embrace the man who has seen inappropriate things, but hates the sin, fights temptation, has repented, and strives to walk the straight and narrow.  With that man I gladly walk together as a fellow pilgrim and forgiven sinner.  In reality, this isn’t even a porn issue – it could have been any sin.  But when blatant and obvious sin is called “not sin”, and isn’t dealt with biblically, and excuses are made and Scripture set aside, then that’s simply unacceptable.
When a church won’t stand up to pornography (or anything else that is clearly sinful), when they won’t call sin “sin” and deal with it as Jesus has commanded, then it’s time to leave.  From what I can tell, my decision may not have been popular, but A.W. Tozer said, "I claim the holy right to disappoint men in order to avoid disappointing God."

There are many wonderful, dear saints at the church.  I will still love them, and count them as dear brethren.  I hope the best for them, individually, and as a church body.  I have no animosity toward them.
My prayer is that a great work will be done there, including a recognition of obvious sin, doing what Jesus has commanded regarding it, loving people enough to call them to specific repentance, and an increased measure of holiness and purity – all that Christ may be duly honored and obeyed and worshipped.

Lessons for me:
  1. a reminder of the odiousness of my own sin
  2. an evaluation of TV shows that I might watch (obviously nothing like GoT, but it is good to evaluate periodically)
  3. a renewed commitment to biblical standards and holiness
  4. now I know to ask any potential church about their views on media & holiness, and how Christian liberty applies
  5. thankful for discussion (and future chats) about this topic with my kids
  6. thankful that the Lord has helped me in taking a difficult stand and doing what is right in a difficult matter
  7. saddened that sound doctrine did not result in holy standards and holy living in this instance
SDG,

Dave
P.S. Quote from Spurgeon:


Monday, October 5, 2015

what is in Game of Thrones


Early in 2015, I didn’t know very much about “Game of Thrones” (abbreviated “GoT” below), but it makes the news regularly so I knew enough to be aware that it was filthy and entirely inappropriate for someone naming the name of Christ.
Because of a recent grievous church situation, I’ve done more research – without watching it, of course – and here is a summary of what is in the show.  Warning: this is rather graphic.
Perhaps the longest content review can be found at the IMDB.com review here.  It is very frank, and I’ve only read less than one-third of it.  Just skimming random parts of it (which was more than enough), here is how I’d summarize it:
Game of Thrones has brutal, graphic, and grotesque violence, and is also sexually explicit, including full complete nudity (front and back, male and female), depictions of fornication, rape, rape and incest in the same act, and homosexual sex scenes.  These are not rare events in the show – on the contrary, they are infamously commonplace.  To describe it with just two words, I’d simply call it “violent porn”.
Common Sense Media described it, in part, with this (emphasis added by me):
Parents need to know that Game of Thrones... frequently depicts brutal battles and graphic, detailed acts of violence (including those against children and women), as well as lots of nudity and no-holds-barred sexuality. The latter is portrayed in an especially iffy manner, with explicit discussion and depiction of incest, adultery, and rape. Strong language, including "f--k," is frequent.
If that doesn’t confirm for you that GoT has no place in the Christian’s viewing habits (because the Bible says so!), then I fear for your soul.
This is distasteful and shouldn’t be necessary, but I think a few definitions are in order.  The wording is mine, and you can argue if you wish.  The definitions use the female example, which is most common, but it certainly applies to male as well.
1.       Soft-porn:  very skimpy or barely-clad women, can include topless if the arm or hand or some other object is covering the breasts, a hint or partial see-through, sheer, but not naked;  includes things like Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Victoria’s Secret shows, many movies, etc
2.       Porn:  topless, breasts visible, nakedness, can include view of genitals, scenes of fornication or adultery, but stopping short of #3 below;  includes things like Playboy, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black (and other TV shows, especially on HBO & Showtime), quite a few R-rated movies (and a few PG-13 as well)
3.       Hard-core porn:  sexual contact showing actual (not feigned) sexual activity, and who-knows-what other manner of vile and gross immorality
Using those definitions, Game of Thrones is pornography.  Yes, porn.  Not soft, not hard, just plain old porn-porn.  One Hollywood director called it “soft porn”, though his standards are way lower than the Bible’s.  Numerous articles by unregenerate commentators have called it porn and said how the show goes too far in gratuitous sex scenes, and even some feminists are critical of it as objectifying women (and they’re right, in this case).  Even if you want to argue semantics and call it “soft porn” – fine – it is still porn, and it is blatantly and obviously sinful to watch it.
You have to get this, too:  the non-porn parts of GoT don’t make the pornographic parts non-porn.  No one is saying ALL of GoT is porn – but some parts of it most certainly are – and the artsy/theatrical parts don’t negate or un-do the pornographic parts.
John Piper jumped into the mix a year ago, and gave a pretty good list of 12 reasons to not watch it.  I think he left some things out, but what he wrote is certainly worth reading.

The bottom line, my friend, is if YOU watch Game of Thrones or other shows or movies like it, then I urge you – repent.  Turn away from such wickedness.  Call it what it is, namely, sin.  Flee from it!  Run in the other direction!  Make no provision for it.  Unsubscribe from HBO and Showtime.  Chop the cable in half if needed.  And then flee to Christ.  Confess your foolishness, your hardness of heart, your sin, and ask Jesus to forgive and to help you turn away from evil.  Ask the Lord to cleanse you and set you on the straight and narrow.  See Titus 2:11-12, Colossians 3:1-4, 1 John 1:9, as well as this list of relevant passages.  And GET and USE some of these resources.

resources dealing with porn

It's a nasty subject.  But it is a very real (and huge) problem in our day.  It affects the church more than what we might care to think.

Looking at porn is sinful.  Watching it is sinful, whether regular old internet porn, or movies that have porn, or TV shows (like Game of Thrones) that have porn in them.

Thanks be to Christ, though, it isn't unforgivable.  If you've indulged, I urge you, repent.  See the sinfulness of sin.  Make use of some of these resources.  Do whatever it takes!


Links / helpful resources about pornography:
(Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse everything written by each of the writers or everything on the web sites listed.)
·         Tim Challies’ wife’s plea to men to turn away from filth like this – really good short article
·         Apparently David Platt thinks the church should actually battle porn
·         GTY article on what Christian liberty is and isn’t
·         A quote from one of Dr. MacArthur’s sermons:
o   “You see, when people fall into traps of sin, either despair, discouragement, depression, fornication, adultery, pornography, you name it, the healing community is the church.  And the brethren who are spiritual have the responsibility to deal with people.  That's the only way the Bible knows to deal with those kinds of issues.”
·         Another of Dr. MacArthur’s sermons makes it clear his stance on a church allowing such immorality:
o   “In spite of all of this information and in spite of all of what they knew by the witness of the Holy Spirit in their lives, certainly a convicting enough agency, they continued to allow immorality in the church. And the fact that they had had a low style of life before they became Christians and that their life was so saturated with sexual immorality became a problem because they couldn't seem to shed that lifestyle once they became believers. And so they were very lax in dealing with this problem. And yet if the church was to be pure, they had to say goodbye to immorality. In I Corinthians 6:18 Paul puts it very simply. He says "Flee fornication." The word is porneia from which we get pornography and it means immorality. Run from immorality. Have absolutely nothing to do with immorality. He said to Timothy in I Timothy 5:22, Timothy, "keep thyself pure." It is basic to any kind of effectiveness in the ministry of Christ and the church of Christ that there be moral purity.”
·         No Compromise Radio – 3-minute segment on porn, and what you should do
·         Reaping the Whirlwind of Sexual Idolatry – short article by brother Denny Burk
·         Kevin DeYoung offers 15 ways to fight lust, including the topic of porn
·         Spec Faith attempts to persuade readers to avoid Game of Thrones because it is porn
·         This link is a 3-minute video interview with a big-time user of porn, who became very infamous – and what he now thinks of it
·         Matt Walsh makes a case against watching "Game of Thrones", and so do I
·         Consider a women’s perspective on “women & porn” – at least read the few paragraphs starting with “Even if the actual crime…”, which talks specifically about “50 Shades” though it applies to things like GoT
·         The dangers of porn in your marriage – and yes, they are real dangers

Books that are helpful:
·         Slaying the Dragon, by David Powlison
·         The Purity Principle, by Randy Alcorn
·         Delivered by Desire, by Daryl Wingerd (hardcopy here)
·         Finally Free, by Heath Lambert
·         Sexual Detox, by Tim Challies
·         Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is), by Joshua Harris
·         Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, by Edward Welch
·         Women Counseling Women, by Elyse Fitzpatrick (chapter 22 is on women & porn)
·         The Way of Purity, by Mike Cleveland
·         More books on the topic, as recommend by Tim Challies
·         AUDIO download: Slaying the Dragon and Finally Free, by Todd Friel


church discipline

We might not like those words: "church discipline".  They sound uncaring, unkind, unloving, and even mean-spirited.  But a right understanding of what Jesus meant shows that rather than being unloving, it is one of the most loving things a Christian can do.


One of the most neglected commands in the New Testament is church discipline (or “Christian restoration”).  Jesus taught this for the purity of the church body and for the good of each individual. We don’t let a member wander off in sin – we love him enough to go to him and try to bring him back.  Correction in the Christian life is a good thing.  Church discipline includes all 4 steps (Matt. 18), and only rarely ever makes it to the 4th step – but when necessary, we must be committed to follow the Lord’s command in that area, because it is the loving and right thing to do, just as Jesus said.
My point with this little blog entry isn't to describe it fully (which would take a book), or even to make an apologetic for practicing it.  Rather, it is to link to some resources on this important subject.
Links / helpful resources about church discipline:
·         From GTY:  we, as church members, have responsibilities as related to church discipline:
o   “Too many Christians regard discipline as the exclusive domain of church elders, but that is simply not the case. The purity of the church is every Christian’s concern. The responsibility to confront sin that defiles the church lies with the first person to become aware of the sin. Don’t defer it to someone else. Don’t spread the circle of knowledge further than necessary. Furthermore, prayer for the sinning brother should never be used as an alternative to obeying Christ’s clear command to confront.”
o   “If you observe a Christian brother in a morally compromising situation, you should confront him.”
o   Church discipline is the necessary response to any offense that cannot be safely overlooked without harm to the offender or to the body of Christ.
·         Also GTY, when should church discipline be used, and what happens when it isn’t?
o   “Second, biblical discipline is not about micromanaging people’s lives. The kind of offenses that require confrontation and biblical discipline are not unintentional transgressions, petty annoyances, or matters of simple preference. They are serious violations of clear biblical principles—sins that hurt other believers, destroy the unity of the flock, and sully the purity of the church. In such cases, sin must be dealt with. Such sins cannot be covered up. They are like leaven, and left alone their evil effects will eventually permeate the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6).”
o   “The permissiveness that results when discipline is neglected inevitably leads to chaos. This is as true in the church as it is in a family. No adult enjoys being around children who are never disciplined. In the same way, a church that is lax on dealing with sin in the body ultimately becomes intolerable to all but the most immature believers. Failing to practice church discipline therefore ensures that the flock will be spiritually stunted. It is also a sure way to incur God’s displeasure (Revelation 2:14, 20).”
o   “Jesus’ instructions about church discipline in Matthew 18 are clear and unequivocal. This issue is therefore a good test of whether a church is serious about obedience to Christ. People often ask me what to look for in a church. Consistent, proper discipline is near the top of my list. One thing is certain: A church that does not discipline sinning members is going to have perpetual and serious problems.
·         From Pure Life Ministries – church discipline and porn (by someone on the receiving end)

Monday, September 7, 2015

what the Bible says about filthy entertainment

To state the obvious, the Bible doesn’t say to avoid certain types of TV shows or movies.  The technology simply didn’t exist 2000+ years ago.  However, Scripture is still authoritative and sufficient, and the principles we find therein most certainly address the question of what is acceptable to watch and what isn’t.

Game of Thrones (abbreviated “GoT” below) is being addressed specifically in the comments below, but it also applies to other similar types of filthy entertainment.

Let us submit ourselves to the Word of the living God.  Quotes below are mostly from the NASB, and the comments are mine:

Bible
comments
Ps. 101:3a (ESV)  I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
NKJV uses the word "wicked" .  GoT is both spiritually worthless and wicked.
Ps. 101:4  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
GoT is perverse and evil, and is not something we should be intimately familiar with.
Gal. 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
GoT (from what I have read) seems to revel in those fleshly and worldly things; it flourishes in the depiction of most or all of these types of evil.
Eph. 5:11-12  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;  for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
GoT is darkness, evil, and disgraceful.
Eph. 4:17-20  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  But that is not the way you learned Christ!
GoT is exactly what heathen Gentiles give themselves to.  It is darkness, anti-God, sensual, and impure.  GoT is not for the Christian.
Matt. 5:28  I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
How many men have lusted over the partially or fully nude women in GoT?  I suspect the answer would be “nearly every single one of them”.  Some women struggle with that as well.  In the following verses, Jesus said to pluck out your eye and cut off your hand (go to extremes) to avoid such things.  If this were the only verse in the Bible on the subject, it would be sufficient to tell us that pornographic shows like GoT are completely unacceptable.  And if you’re a Christian that thinks he can watch it without violating Christ’s words, you’re lying to yourself and are self-deceived.  Period.
1 Thess. 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
GoT is so popular, no doubt, in part because of its depictions of exactly that.  What normal red-blooded man isn’t tempted by watching attractive young women get naked, and sometimes act out fornication?  That is sexual immorality, and it often leads to full-fledged fornication and adultery in real life.
Phil. 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
GoT is exactly the opposite of the things in that list.  It is impure, dishonorable, violent, filthy, and to be condemned.
Rom. 12:1-2  Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
With an all-encompassing passage like this, how can a true and honest Christian justify filthy entertainment?  Repent, and turn from this wickedness!
Eph. 4:17-19  So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Christians are not supposed to be like the people of the world!  How can we be entertained by sensuality and impurity?
Eph. 5:3-5  But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;  and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
To be entertained by these things places a person in a very bad situation.

Are we to be entertained by immorality?  By filthiness?  By impurity?  May it never be.  God forbid!
1 Thess. 5:21-22  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;  abstain from every form of evil.                   
GoT is filled with all sorts of wickedness.  Is it good?  No.  It is evil.
1 Peter 2:11-12  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Christians are exiles, aliens, pilgrims, strangers on the earth.  Fleshly lusts are at WAR with the soul.  Watching filthy entertainment is like asking for forces of evil to attack your own soul.  If you’re justifying this filth in your own mind, then you’re losing the battle to sin and the powers of darkness.
1 Peter 2:16  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
People cry “Christian liberty” or “freedom” to justify filth.  This ought not to be.  Freedom in Christ is freedom to do what is right, not freedom to sin.
Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
There’s more of that “freedom” terminology.  Paul was aware of how it could be misunderstood and misused, so he clarified.  No, you do NOT have freedom to watch sensual, fleshly, perverted shows, which includes GoT.
2 Tim. 2:19  Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”       
Abstain from wicked entertainment, abstain from all forms of evil.  That includes not watching wickedness on TV and in the movie theatre.
2 Cor. 7:1  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Pornographic entertainment, like GoT and others, is defiling and fleshly, and above all, unholy.
Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?
Job didn’t know anything about TV screens or movie screens, but it’s pretty obvious what his response to them would have been if they displayed naked females.
Hab. 1:13a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
God doesn’t approve, but somehow it’s OK for a Christian to look favorably on shows like GoT?
Job 28:28  “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
You think you have wisdom?  Then fear the Lord enough to turn away from that which is plainly evil.
Jude 4  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (NASB, or “sensuality” in the ESV) and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Watch out for people that turn grace into sensuality and licentiousness!
1 Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”"
Let’s be blunt:  GoT does not help a person become holy.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It promotes lust and ungodliness.  Above all else, it is wholly unholy.
Repent, and ask God to cleanse you, and to set you on the path of holiness.