God Rest You Merry

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, a traditional English carol from the eighteenth century or earlier, is one of my favorite Christmas carols. Better known as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, evidence suggests that in fact “you” is original, with the word being changed to “ye” at some point—perhaps to make it sound older or more authentic.

Often mis-punctuated as “God rest you, merry gentlemen,” the opening line is actually a prayer that God would “rest you merry,” which means to keep you, or to enable you to remain, prosperous, joyful, or blessed. The reason we ought to be joyful, rather than dismayed, is that we know that Christ our Savior has been born “to save us all from Satan’s power” (verse 1).

The third verse also emphasizes that Jesus was born “to free all those who trust in Him.” This truly is good news (tidings) of “comfort and joy.” The fourth verse ends by calling all those present to sing praises to the Lord and to respond with love toward one another, even while the unsaved world defaces and disdains the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of our savior and king.

So then, may God rest you merry!

A Father’s Responsibilities

I ’ve recently been reading Marriage and Family in the Biblical World—a fascinating work explaining the structure, role, and centrality of the ancient household. The book examines the views and practices of marriage, family, and household in ancient Israel, Greece, Rome, and the early church. Below is an interesting list of the father’s responsibilities in the ancient Hebrew and early Christian household, adapted from lists in the book itself. A truly captivating study, I look forward to finishing the book, and commend it to you as well.

A Father’s Responsibilities

·     Personally modeling strict fidelity to Yahweh

·     Leading his family in national festivals, and nurturing the memory of Israel’s salvation

·     Instructing the family in the traditions and Scriptures

·     Managing the land

·     Providing for the family’s basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and rest (1 Tim. 5:8)

·     Defending the household against outside threats

·     Protecting his wife and daughters from unwise vows (Num. 30)

·     Serving as an elder and representing the household in the official assembly of citizens

·     Maintaining the household’s well-being and the harmonious operation of the family unit

·     Implementing decisions made at the clan or tribal level

·     Leading and discipling his wife (Eph. 5:26)

·     Discipling and disciplining his children (Eph. 6:4)

·     Leading his family in prayer (1 Pet. 3:7)

A Father’s Responsibilities for His Daughters

·    A father has the responsibility to protect his daughter from male predators so that she would marry as a virgin and thus bring honor to the Lord and purity to her husband (Deut. 22; Ex. 22:16–17)

·     Arranging for his daughter’s marriage by finding a suitable husband and making proper arrangements (Deut. 7:3–5; Ezra 9:12; Neh.13:25; Jer. 29:6; Luke 20:24–25)

·     Ensuring a measure of security for his daughter by providing a dowry

·     Protecting his daughter from rash vows (Num. 30)

·     Providing security for his daughter in case the marriage fails

·     Instructing his daughters in the Scriptures

A Father’s Responsibilities for His Sons

·     Modeling biblical manhood in the home (Prov. 23:26)

·     Preparing his sons for marriage and headship in their future households

·     Walking alongside their sons and teach them a trade and to care for the land

·     Telling their sons the story of salvation with a view toward generational remembrance (Deut. 6:20–21)

·     Correcting their sons and restrain their iniquity (Deut. 21:18–21; 1 Samuel 3:13)

·     Teaching their sons wisdom from God’s Word (Prov. 2:1–5; 3:1–2)

·     Making arrangements to help their sons to secure wives (Gen. 24)

·     Leaving their sons an inheritance (Deut. 21:15–17)

I highly recommend this work for any who are interested in studying the theology of the household, or in understanding the cultural context of the biblical world more generally. One of the most fascinating books I’ve read recently—get it here.


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How to Start Building Your Book Collection

So you want to start building your library, but you’re not sure where to start. I’ve often spoken with folks who wish to dig deeper into the Christian faith, but then find that there are just too many books to choose from—and it’s hard to tell what’s reliable anyway. The proverbial flooded market can certainly be overwhelming—especially when you want solid, trustworthy resources, not just whatever happens to be on TGC’s top 20 list.

So, here’s another list of recommended books!

I’ve started compiling a list of books that would serve well as a starting point for a basic Christian library. And as always, recommending a book does not mean that I necessarily agree with all of its content. Rather, I think these are books which are accessible, solid, and particularly beneficial in their various categories. If you’re interested in learning more and getting serious about the Christian faith and way of life, I recommend starting here. I’ll explain why I give these specific recommendations in another post.

I’d also love to hear about any other books you’ve found to be an essential introduction in a particular area.


Study Bibles

HCSB Study Bible

Ryrie Study Bible

How to Study the Bible

Grasping God’s Word, by Duvall and Hays

Basic Bible Interpretation, by Roy Zuck

An Introduction to Theology

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology, by Norman Geisler

He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom, by Michael Vlach

Understanding End Times Prophecy, by Paul Benware

On Living the Christian Life

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, by Michael Horton

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, by Ed Welch

When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man, by Ed Welch

Respectable Sins, by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges

Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective, by Stuart Scott

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, by Heath Lambert

On Marriage and Family

Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World, by Douglas Wilson

Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson

Building a Godly Home, by William Gouge

Why Children Matter, by Douglas and Nancy Wilson

Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants, by Douglas Wilson

For Men:

Federal Husband, by Douglas Wilson

Man of the House, by C.R. Wiley

The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott

For Women:

Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? And Other Useful Comments, by Nancy Wilson

The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman, by Nancy Wilson

The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace

Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood, by Nancy Wilson

The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Grandmothers, by Nancy Wilson

On Salvation

Free Grace Theology on Trial, by Anthony Badger

Freely by His Grace, by Hixson, Whitmire, and Zuck

Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages, by Charles Bing

On the Life of Christ

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, by J. Dwight Pentecost

On the Holy Spirit

The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit, by Larry Pettegrew

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship, by John MacArthur

On the Church

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman

Going Public, by Bobby Jamieson

On Ethics

An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan

Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning, by Wayne Grudem

Devotionals

Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers from Banner of Truth

Morning and Evening, a devotional by Charles Spurgeon

The Puritans: Daily Readings edited by Randall Pederson

Psalms for Trials: Meditations on Praying the Psalms, by Lindsey Tollefson

Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, by Owen Strachan

New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp

Virtuous: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Learning Contentment: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Hymns to the Living God

Hymns of Grace


 

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Free Books and Furniture Burning

Doug Wilson is running a blog series this month, aptly titled “No Quarter November,” in which he is doling out rough-hewn, unfiltered, honest thoughts—with no qualifications, no apologies, no punches pulled, and the brake lines cut. As he puts it, he’s departing from his usual pattern of being “balanced and reasonable.” If you can abide his approach, it’s worth the read and thoughtful consideration.

In conjunction with this series, Canon Press is giving ebooks away for free. Today, it’s Wilson’s book, Federal Husband.

Federal Husband is one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. If you have Amazon Kindle, you’d best get over there and grab Federal Husband while it’s free. Or, if you prefer the hard copy, it’s well-worth the price.

Also, enjoy this delightful video in which Wilson explains his series… I barely heard anything he said—I was watching the flames.

“Why I’m Not Voting This Election”

George Yancey recently posted an article on Patheos explaining why he won’t be voting in the midterm elections. He ends his post with “No waiting in long lines for me to vote this year. I have better things to do with my time. I am staying home.”

Unfortunately, no, staying home to boycott the American system we currently have in place is not a better way to spend your time. Even voting third party or write-in is a better option than simply staying home.

As I’ve argued before, boycotting the voting process is, for various reasons (both practical and philosophical), simply not an option in my mind. Although it’s about the 2016 presidential election, I would urge you to read this article, as I think there are a lot of basic principles there that apply to the midterm elections as well. In that article, I explain the Christian’s basic responsibility to live as good citizens in the country in which we reside and to seek the welfare of that country, how that relates to our duty to be involved in the voting process, what “voting your conscience” does and does not mean, and why being consistent carries implications for even where we shop! I encourage you to take the time to read the whole post with an open mind. But, for the bottom liners, here’s my conclusion:

We must, both as faithful Christians and good citizens, vote for the candidate whose policies will most effectively preserve the welfare of the nation, protect innocent life, punish evil, and provide for a tranquil and quiet life for us and our neighbor. — “On Citizenship, Voting, and Starbucks”


Postscript: It’s tempting—especially for Christians—to have the mindset that says “I don’t really care who wins this election; it ultimately doesn’t matter.” I think this is misguided, as it fails to sufficiently take into account our duty to love our neighbor, and falls prey to the error of being “so heavenly-minded that we’re of no earthly good.” But that’s a point for another post.

PPS: In my opinion, state and local elections are actually, in many ways, more significant than national elections, and it’s becoming quite perturbing to hear so many folks preoccupied with the national stage who have no idea who their own governor, mayor, or sheriff is. I imagine as the social justice mayhem swells, we will see a shift in that regard.

 

 

 


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What is the Church’s Social Responsibility?

I believe the primary mission of the local church to the lost is to provide not material, but spiritual relief by proclaiming the good news of eternal life by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In times of crisis, our primary mission as the local church is to offer comfort, hope, and biblical counsel to help people respond to trials and suffering in a way that glorifies God and helps them grow to better know, love, and follow Christ.

This position is rather unpopular in our current climate, especially in light of the recent conversations surrounding social justice and the gospel. One of the issues that I’ve seen rise to the surface in the midst of the vitriolic attack, debate, and defense of the SJ&G Statement, is a failure to distinguish between an individual Christian’s responsibility and interaction with the world, and the local church as a corporate body holding the keys of the kingdom. That distinction is crucial in understanding our role in the community, culture, political sphere, and world.

It’s challenging to sort through the various factors at play in seeking to understand the church’s social responsibility, and especially difficult to articulate this position, for a number of reasons. I encourage you to prayerfully consider this list of resources as you seek to understand the church’s responsibility, our responsibility as individual Christian citizens, and the relationship between evangelism and material aid.

The Social Responsibility of the Local Church and the Mission of Missions

Series on Christians, the Church, and Culture

Are All Biblical Commands Corporate?

My Church Loves the Poor, So I Don’t Have To

Discontinuity, Israel, and the Church

Mercy Ministry is not Kingdom Work

Responding to Tragedy by Giving Money (practical steps)

The Call to Minister to the Poor

Dispensationalism, Keller, and the Poor

Biblical Pillars of Mercy Ministry

Examples of Mercy Ministry

What’s Wrong With the Recent Evangelical “Social Justice” Movements?

“Churches” or “Christians” and Culture?

How Christians and Churches Prioritize Going About the Doing of Good

Transforming Culture with a Messiah Complex

The Social Responsibility of the Church (PDF by Benware)

Problems with Social Action in Missions (Cripplegate Series):

Missions: Ecclesiology with a Passport

2 Problems with Social Action in Missions

8 Problems with the Theory of “Social Action” Missions

8 Problems [part 2]

So, What is the Mission of Missions?