Just Heeding the Exhortation . . . Again

shakespeareblog

I resisted blogging for a long time. Too much to do. Not worth the effort. Why bother? Then a deacon at OGC, long since relocated to another part of the country, did a Luke 18:1-8 number on me. He wore me down over time. I relented. I started a blog called “Late Bloomer Reformed.” Long story behind the title. I never regretted listening to John’s voice on this. After 500 plus posts I have seen the Lord work through blogging especially among the precious people I have the privilege to help shepherd.

Orlando Grace eventually upgraded its website. The blog made up an important feature of the homepage. I abandoned by blogspot personal blog and went “all in” on our church website. There I have camped out for years.

Now I’ve got a new provocateur in my life. He loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. Last Thursday on our way back from our monthly gospel cohort meeting he asked me if I have a desire to write. “Absolutely,” I said.

He then proceeded to tell me in the concise and persuasive method I am coming very much to appreciate what I needed to do.

Get my own domain name. Check – curtheffelfinger.com.

Start blogging regularly on my own site and cross post to the church’s site and Facebook. This begins now.

Build up several years of writing reflectively about the things that matter to me in gospel living and ministry. How long might that be? Lord only knows.

Write and publish, Lord willing, in the future. I’d love to write a book entitled “The Peacemaking Church” someday, all things considered.

Very ambitious. Not sure about all of this. But I do now that God uses writing. More than one book has changed my life along the way for the better. I would like to make some contribution of a written kind before I check out of this world and go home to the next. Writing an article for Tabletalk Magazine got me hooked. I desire to do more, again, only if it pleases Him.

The first exhortation about blogging bore fruit. I wonder what will come from the latest. Let the journey continue. Thanks, Mike. This post I dedicate to you, my friend.

The Grace of Exhorting

Yesterday’s message in Hebrews 3:1-14 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

As promised, here are my bullet points on the qualities of the godly exhorter and exhorted:

Seven Qualities of a Godly Exhorter

First, gripped by biblical necessity.

Prov. 27:5 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

Proverbs 28:23 – Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.

Second, committed to relational proximity.

Prov. 18:24 – A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Third, known for spiritual dependability.

Prov. 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Prov. 27:6 – Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Fourth, strengthened through vertical security.

Prov. 29:25 – The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

Fifth, clothed with personal humility.

Prov. 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Gal. 6:1 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Sixth, aware of situational sensitivity.

Prov.15:4 – A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Prov. 20:5 – The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Seventh, anchored in gospel reality.

Prov. 18:24 – A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The Singular Quality of the Godly Exhorted

Committed to favorable receptivity.

Prov. 9:8-9 – Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Prov. 12:1 – Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Prov. 13:18 – Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

Prov. 15:5 – A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Prov. 15:31 – The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.

Here is the video about the persecuted church that we tried to play at the beginning of the message:

The Best Friend

Last Saturday’s Oxford Club discussion in Richard Phillip’s The Masculine Mandate may have been the best yet. We tackled chapter 11, Men in Friendship. Phillips argues that biblical masculinity starts with a commitment to our wives and children to work and keep (see Gen. 2:15), but it doesn’t stop there. Meaningful relationships with other godly men we call friends enter into the mix as well.

Toward the end of the chapter he makes this statement: The best friend is always one who turns our hearts to rest upon the Lord. He draws that principle from the account of David and Jonathan in 1 Sam. 23:16 were Jonathan went to his friend, David, on the run for the express purpose of strengthening his hand in God. Rightly so.

Thus we asked on Saturday, what does it look like to act as this kind of best friend? How do we strengthen one another’s hands in God? We came up with four things.

First, we point our brother to the promises of God. This came from Phillips himself as he argues from 1 Sam. 23:17 how Jonathan reminded David that God ordained him to reign as Israel’s next king so he need not fear Saul’s murderous threats. Phillips adds: A godly friend ministers primarily to the faith of his brothers in Christ, seeking to build up their trembling hearts and protect them from the danger of unbelief and fear. Few things help that battle more than the unshakable promises of God.

Second, we comfort our brother with our presence in his suffering. This we took from the example of Job’s friends in Job 2:11-13. Job’s friends were at their best when they just sat with him for a whole week in his suffering. Things went badly down hill from there. Discernment knows the difference between a time to strengthen with words of promise and  a time to comfort with a silent, compassionate presence.

Third, we support our brother with our prayers for his strengthening. Jesus modeled this in preparing Peter for his three-fold denial in Luke 22:31-34. Our Lord countered Satan’s threat to His disciple through intercessory prayer that ensured Peter would survive the onslaught and even use it to strengthen the other disciples in their need.

Fourth, we help our brother with our provocations of his obedience. Hebrews 3:12-14 urges best of friends to exhort each other daily in light of the deceitfulness of sin and the potential for hardening of the heart. Anyone can flatter but only true, loving friends risk all with loving reproof when needed.

Do you have a friend in Christ who does such things for your welfare? Regard him among the best of friends. Are you that kind of friend to others? They will rise up and call you blessed.

Masculine men, friendly men, strengthen one another’s hands in God.