The Point of No Return

Several times when I was younger I visited Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the largest piece of exposed granite in the world.  It really is quite breath taking, especially the view from the top. I also took a group of senior citizens from our church in Muncie, Indiana. There is a fence on top of the mountain that is put there to keep people from getting too close to the side of the mountain. If you get to close to the steep sides you obviously will fall the nearly 1,000 feet to your death. On the side of that mountain is a “point of no return.” If you get too close to that point, gravity will take over. Not the gravity of the mountain, but the gravity of the land below.

In our text this morning we saw a man who flirted too long with that “point of no return.” Eventually, he crossed that line and murdered his conscience. Our text tells the story of the death of John the Baptist, but also the death of a conscience. You can listen to this message by following this link or visit our sermons page.

Life on Mission

We were created in order to join God on a mission! Some people picture God as this benevolent grandfather sitting on the outskirts of the universe listening to really good worship music, disengaged, nodding off asleep. The Bible has a totaly different picture of God. It teaches us that God is at work 24/7, all over our world. He is filling His followers with grace and mercy and power to redeem the things that are broken on our planet. Picture God wearing work gloves. And God wants us to roll up our sleeves and get to work with Him. He wants His mission to be our mission. What would it feel like if you laid your head on the pillow tonight and said, “You know what I did today? I teamed up with God in order to change the world.

One of the most amazing features of the Gospels, and of the ministry of the Lord Jesus, is the men He chose to be His disciples. If you and I were putting together a ministry team, these are probably not the kind of people we would choose to represent us. Consider these men for just a moment. Several were fishermen. One was a former tax collector for Rome. A couple of them were quick tempered. One of them was a revolutionary. One was a traitor and not a true believer at all. All were very common men. These men lacked spiritual understanding. They lacked humility. They lacked faith. They lacked commitment. They lacked power. These men were always getting into trouble; missing the point or Christ’s teachings; lashing out at people who were different; saying the wrong thing; walking away from their commitment to Jesus; among other failures and problems. In spite of their weaknesses, the Lord used these men to turn the world upside down for His glory. If He can use them, surely He can use us too!

You can listen to this message “Life on Mission,” by following this link or visit our sermons page.

For Husbands Only

Valentine’s Day may be the one time each year that most husbands let down the macho exterior and actually demonstrate their love for their wives in tangible ways. You might shower your wife with flowers or candy, or take her out on a romantic evening. Some of you may even make greater sacrifices, such as cleaning the house, treating her to breakfast in bed, or buying some cherished gift. But once the day ends, so does Prince Charming, and you revert to your normal self and usual role.

Ask many Christian husbands to summarize their biblical duty in one word, and they will answer, “Leadership.” Scripture answers the question with a different word: love.

There is no doubt that God’s design for you if you’re a husband includes the aspect of leadership. But it is a leadership that flows from love and is always tempered by tender, caring affection. The husband’s proper role as a loving, nurturing head is best epitomized by Christ, who took the servant’s role to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:3-17).

It is significant that before the apostle Paul instructs husbands and wives how to love each other that he calls for mutual submission. The New American Standard Bible renders Ephesians 5:21 this way: “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” That’s a general command to all Christians in all contexts.

Husbands are no exception to this rule. The love you are to show your wife involves submission. It is colored and characterized by meekness, tenderness, and service. It is a humble, servant’s love, like that of Christ.

Submission is what sets the stage for Paul’s instructions to husbands: “Love your wives” (v. 25). The whole idea of the husband’s headship is a comparison to Christ. The husband’s headship over the wife is likened to Christ’s headship over the church. “The husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (v. 23). Therefore your love for your wife is supposed to be like Christ’s love for the church: “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (v. 25).

The sacrifice of Christ is the very epitome of what love calls for. First John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” Jesus Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Without actually using the word love, the apostle Peter describes your love for your wife: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with [your wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

The headship-submission relationship is not about inherent superiority and inferiority. Many wives are frankly wiser, more knowledgeable, more articulate, and more discerning than their husbands. Yet God has ordered the family so that the man is the head. That is not because the wife automatically owes the husband servile deference as his inferior–for she is not to be treated as an inferior, but as a sister and joint heir. The reason for the divine order is that your wife is the weaker vessel–more to come about that in a moment–and you therefore owe her sacrifice and protection.

My challenge to you husbands is to make every day a Valentine’s Day for your wives. Make the following three actions a daily priority in your relationship with your wife and you will be fulfilling your Christlike, sacrificial duty toward her.

Consideration

“Live with your wives in an understanding way,” Peter says in verse 7 (NASB). He’s speaking of being considerate. This is opposite the cave-man mentality some today would advocate. It’s incompatible with the kind of independent, proud, self-absorbed machismo many seem to think epitomizes true maleness. It calls for understanding, sensitivity, and meeting your wife’s needs. It involves a sincere effort to understand her feelings, fears, anxieties, concerns, goals, dreams, and desires. In short, you must be considerate.

Often it boils down to listening. You must understand your wife’s heart. How can you express a sacrificial love that meets her needs when you have no earthly idea what those needs are?

That is frankly a struggle for most men. It is not something that comes naturally to us. Like our children, we wrestle against our own sinful tendencies and selfish desires. But God calls us to be models of sacrificial love in our families, and that begins by being considerate.

Chivalry

The wife is “the weaker vessel,” according to Peter. In what sense are women “weaker?” This has reference primarily to the physical realm. Women are, as a class, physically weaker than men. Now, it is undoubtedly true that there are some men whose wives are physically more powerful than them. But that is unusual, and I believe that even in those exceptional cases, the principle still applies. You are to treat your wife with a gentle chivalry. You can do this in a thousand ways, from opening doors for her to moving furniture and doing the heavy work around the house.

A loving husband would not say to his wife, “After you’ve changed the tire I’ll be glad to take you to the store.” We serve them with our strength. We treat them as the weaker vessel, showing them a particular deference in matters where their physical weakness places them at a disadvantage. First Peter 3:7 actually suggests that God designed women to be under the protection of a man, benefiting from his strength. And serving our wives by lending them that strength is one of the main ways we show them a Christlike, sacrificial love.

Communion

We’re to regard our wives “as being heirs together of the grace of life.” Men and women may be unequal physically, but they are equal spiritually. Treat your wife as a spiritual equal. While you’re legitimately concerned with the task of spiritual leadership in your home, don’t forget the responsibility of communion before God with your wife as a joint heir of His grace. Your role as her leader does not mean you are her superior. Both of you are utterly dependent on divine grace, and you are heirs together of that grace.

In the Song of Solomon, the wife says of her husband, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (5:16). I love that expression. She rejoices in her love for him, but it is not just his romantic devotion that thrills her. It is not his machismo or his leadership that causes her heart to sing. What is it? She is glad that he is her friend. That’s the kind of relationship husbands should cultivate. It is a deep sense of intimate, equal sharing of spiritual things. It is a communion together like no other relationship on earth.

Here’s a simple way of summarizing sacrificial love: The Spirit filled husband loves his wife not for what she can do for him, but because of what he can do for her. That is exactly how Christ’s love works. He loves us not because there’s something in us that attracts Him, not because He gains any benefit from loving us, but simply because He determined to love us and delights to bestow on us His favor.

Did you realize that love is an act of the will, not a feeling? It is a commitment to the welfare of its object. It is a voluntary devotion. It involves sacrifice, consideration, chivalry, communion, courtesy, and commitment. It is precisely the kind of love you owe your wife. And if you are willing to obey God, by the power of God’s Spirit, you can muster that kind of love for your wife.

John MacArthur

Former Pastor’s Wife is Now with the Lord

Elizabeth Martha Horne Holmes, 88, widow of Dr. Otis Holmes, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, February 7, 2010 at Barge Memorial Hospital.
Born in Dickenson County, VA, she was the daughter of the late Oliver Preston and Martha Kiser Horne.

A loving mother, faithful pastor’s wife and elementary school teacher, she retired from the Museum and Gallery at Bob Jones University. She was a member of Hampton Park Baptist Church.

Surviving are three daughters and sons-in-law, Anne and Jim Watkins of Hindman, KY, Claudia and Dave Barba of Crossville, TN and Mary Ellen and Drew Conley of Greenville; very dear friend, Dianne Carter of Greenville; seven grandchildren, Susan (Michael) Croshaw, Jennifer Watkins, Stephanie (Steven) Shaw, Susannah and Jeremiah (Yiqian) Barba, and Matthew and Andrew Conley; three great grandsons, Zachary, Brendon and Christopher Shaw; a sister, June (Elmer) Osborne of Castlewood, VA; a brother, Cody (Pat) Horne of Ocala, FL; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to Hampton Park Baptist Church Planting Fund, 875 State Park Road, Greenville, SC 29609 or the Timothy Fund c/o Bob Jones University, 1700 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29614.

Visitation will be held Thursday, February 11, 2010 from 11:45 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Hampton Park Baptist Church with the funeral service following at 2:00 p.m. in the church. Burial will be in Woodlawn Memorial Park.