Friday, December 9, 2016

Four Reflections on Turning 30!

Today I turned thirty. For some reason, I have been anticipating this birthday more than others in the past. Anticipating may not be the right word. It’s more like knowing you have to get on a train on a certain day but you know that you can never come back to this particular place but the decisions you have made up to this point have led you to this particular train station. You will not be back and there is nothing you can do about it. About six months ago is when I started to feel the weight of turning thirty. This is different for some reason than when I turned twenty-eight or twenty-five. If the Lord wills that I live to ninety then that means I have lived one-third of my life. If the Lord wills that I live to sixty than I have lived half of my life already. If it is less than that than I am already on the descent. Only the Lord knows and that brings a peace to me.

I wanted to share some principles the Lord has shown me I need to live by if I’m going to honor Him. I have been wanting to write a blog post on each of these principles and I may but consider this a primer. I want to be very clear. I have not always believed all these things or practiced them but this last decade (and particularly this last year) I have seen how many people do not practice these principles. I hope by God’s grace to stay a man who will follow these regardless of the cost. Lastly, there is always a cost to following biblical convictions but the cost it has on your soul when you don’t follow these biblical convictions is far greater. Sadly, most of these convictions come from either practicing these things themselves or from seeing the harmful effects of others in practicing these things.

1) “When people are big God is small.” Ed Welch

The fear of man is a trap to all of us. John 12:43 talking about certain Pharisees states, ‘for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.’ The truth is this snare needs to be acknowledged and intentionally addressed in our lives. Fear of man comes out when we lie or either minimize the truth because we are afraid of losing a certain person’s approval or affection. We want to be manipulated and controlled by others when we allow this to happen. There is a certain control that they have over us and we need to crucify it. The only true and proper way to overcome the fear of man is to have a greater fear of God. I pray that the next God willing decade will be marked by this truth in my life.

2) Compromising your character is never worth disobeying God.

This next one is sort of tied to the first one. This last year I have sadly seen pastors compromise their integrity for a job, position, and paycheck. Compromising your character to stay in a particular job or position is never worth disobeying God’s Word. Staying in a particular church or position for a paycheck will change your character. I pray that I will never be a pastor who stays in a position for any of these things. Mark my words, God will not be mocked by men who use His church for their advantage. This can happen when sin is covered up and not exposed or theology is compromised for a paycheck.

3) Being in a healthy church is far more important than you realize.

I can be stubborn sometimes. I can think that I will be able to change a culture by myself. The truth is that if you are in an unhealthy church a lot of times you do not realize it until you are out of it. It’s like being in a really bad abusive relationship but that is all you have known your whole life so it is very hard to leave but when you finally do you then realize how unhealthy certain patterns were. There is no perfect church but that does not mean there is no such thing as healthy churches. If you don’t know what to look for then please read the book ‘Nine Marks of a Healthy Church’ by Mark Dever to get an idea of what to look for in a church. The single most important thing for your growth as a Christian is the local church that you decide to become a member at. I have been in unhealthy churches in the past and have been in a couple healthy ones as well and I cannot tell you what difference it makes in my family’s personal growth.

4) Encourage your spouse to be like Clementine Churchill, not Skyler White.

Skyler White

I thank God for my wife. One of the reasons Lauren truly is far more precious than jewels (Prov. 31:10) is because she is more like Winston Churchill’s wife than Walter White’s wife. What do I mean by that? Simply this: she is a hedge of protection for me or what I call a guardrail. Why do guardrails exist? So when you do lost control they protect you from going over a cliff. In one of the most watched TV shows in history called Breaking Bad, we saw not only the compromises that Walter White made but also the ones his wife made. Instead of responding by going to the police she decided to say that famous line in the Season 3 finale that brought so much more pain – ‘Spouses can't be forced to testify against each other, so there's that.” Instead of being a guardrail for her husband she chose to encourage him in his sin. Contrast this example with Clementine Churchill. Sir Winston had not been acting like a sir to his staff. He was being ‘overbearing and rough’ to his staff in the words his wife. I encourage you to read the short letter she wrote to him in the middle of World War 2. I love her line where she writes, ‘My Darling Winston — I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not so kind as you used to be.’ She kindly and gently challenged her husband in his destructive path that was dishonoring to him. Unfortunately, I have seen over this last decade men make horrible decisions to compromise their integrity and dishonor their God but instead of their spouses being guardrails they didn’t blow a whistle. They complied. They compromised.

Lauren thank you that when I want to act like Nabal at times you act like Abigail. When I want to not do the right thing you lovingly and gently challenge me. When I want to compromise my integrity for short term gain you remind me of how God will hold me accountable. Thank you for always being a guardrail and making me a man of conviction when we have seen so many wives do the opposite. I love you and am looking to continue to cultivate these virtues for the glory of God.

A. Spallone

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