Guarding your wallet?

Today over at the DesiringGod blog Marshall Segal writes about money (“Four Questions to Keep Close to Your Wallet”). His opening line is right on: “It’s hard to imagine many things more maligned in Scripture than money.”
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He opens by putting the topic in the big picture for Christians –—

At the end of the day, we must each know our own hearts and be willing to ask what role money is playing in our thoughts and affections. Is it a means of worshiping God or a means of replacing him? Is our budget highlighting the sufficiency and worth of Christ or has it become a reason for boasting in or treasuring something other than him?

He then presents & discusses four questions we should be asking:

1. Is my spending marked by Christian generosity?

2. What does my spending say about what makes me most happy?

3. Does my spending suggest I’m collecting for this life?

4. Is my spending explicitly supporting the spread of the gospel?

I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing at the DesiringGod blog. Thanks Marshall Segal.

Resurrecting dating

Over at the Desiring God blog, Marshall Segal has a wonderful article entitled, When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus. His opening words are:

Dating is dead.

So says the media. Girls, stop expecting guys to make any formal attempt at winning your affections. Don’t sit around waiting for a boy to make you a priority, communicate his intentions, or even call you on the phone. Exclusivity and intentionality are ancient rituals, things of the past, and misplaced hopes.

I beg to differ. It’s not that this new line of thinking is necessarily untrue today, or that it’s not the current and corrupt trend of our culture. It’s wrong. One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong.
[emphasis added]

1415226_embracing_coupleAfter helpfully opening up the natural of dating (“where does marriage come from?”) he then goes on to write several paragraphs under each of these headings, explaining how one should date and how dating ought to look forward to marriage:

1. It really is as simple as they say (reminding us that “marriage really is less about compatibility than commitment”).

2. Know what makes a marriage worth having. (hint, it has to do with helping you learn more about God)

3. Look for clarity more than intimacy. Here’s the whole of this incredibly wise section (soak up that second paragraph) —

The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.

While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.

In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.

4. Find a fiancé on the frontlines. (this refers to finding someone who is serving God too)

5. Don’t let your mind marry him before the rest of you can. (Here Marshall writes, “The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else.”)

6. Boundaries make for the best of friends. (“Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it.”)

7. Consistently include your community. (He says make sure other people [eg, church] are involved as you develop your relationship).

8. Let all your dating be missionary dating. (No, he doesn’t mean date non-Christians; rather, “dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world.”)

Now, go read the WHOLE THING HERE for your own benefit, or to share with another. I pray for all who want God’s will for their relationships (and marriage) will think along these lines.
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Faith versus sin’s instant gratification

Why do we find the power of a temptation to sin so great, and let go of the delights and future glories that are promised us? Why does the temptation to sinful instant gratification often eclipse our joy in the future gratification offered to us in Christ?

An excerpt today from Thomas Manton is most helpful — beginning with a keen diagnosis of how present temptations work, and then how faith brings us help. pdb

We should have such a faith to substantiate our hopes and to check sensuality, for we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. Though the pleasures of sin be short and inconsiderable, yet, because they are near at hand, they have more influence than the joys of heaven, which are future and absent. We wonder at the folly of Esau to sell his birthright for a morsel of meat, (Heb. 12:16). …When lust is up and eager for fulfilment, all considerations of eternal glory and blessedness are laid aside to give it satisfaction.

A little pleasure, a little gain, a little happiness in the world will make men part with all that is honest and sacred. A man would wonder at their folly, but the great reason is, they live by sense: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Tim. 4:10). Here lies the bait, these things are present; we can taste the delights of the world, and feel the pleasures of the flesh; but the happiness of the world to come is a thing unseen and unknown. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32).

This is the language of every carnal heart. …Present advantages and vanities, though they are small and but trifles, have more power to pervert us than good things at a distance, and the promises of God, even, to allure and draw in our hearts to God. Here lies the root and strength of all temptations; the inconveniences of strictness in religion are present, and they may have present distaste and present trouble to the flesh, and our rewards are yet future.

So, how can we check this ‘living by sense’ that is so natural to us? Why, faith, substantiating our hopes provides a remedy. Faith makes things to become as real as if they were already enjoyed. …Where faith is alive and strong, and is “the conviction of things not seen”, it baffles and defeats all temptations.

~ Thomas Manton (1620-1677)

*This comes from Manton’s reflections on Hebrews 11. They are all profitable sermons, available online (plain text format), but also published by The Banner of Truth Trust.