Better Men

better manLast night at the Grammy awards, the country group Little Big Town performed their recent hit “Better Man.” The song, nominated for best country song of the year, tells the story of a wife who ran from her marriage but still wishes things had worked out differently. If only her husband had been a “better man.” Sadly many women who hear this song will say they’ve lived this story.

This coming weekend, Linda and I are scheduled to speak at a marriage conference. Our goal is to present the biblical teaching about a beautiful, durable marriage. In light of all the grim news reports of men acting badly in and out of marriage (#MeToo), some who hear what Scripture says about marriage will resist or reject the idea that men should be given leadership in the marriage or in the church.

One of the passages we cover in the marriage seminar—a passage that gives God’s vision for a beautiful marriage—is found in Ephesians 5:22-33. Verse 22 begins with instructions some find offensive: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Those who struggle with this command often point back to the previous verse, which calls all believers in the church to be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).

How does verse 21 (mutual submission) relate to verse 22 (wives submit)? My answer comes in three parts.

First, verse 21 (submit to one another) sets the tone for the verses that follow (wives/husbands; children/parents; slaves/masters). Among Christians, God calls for a relational distinctiveness which contrasts with the way things usually happen in the wider society. For example, Ephesians 4:1-3 calls followers of Christ to show a humility and gentleness that runs counter to the #MeFirst attitude so common in our world. So Ephesians 5:21 should indeed shape our understanding of the dynamics in a Christian marriage.

Second, the call to mutual submission (Eph 5:21) does not obliterate all order and authority in the church or in the home. The Bible clearly instructs elders to provide leadership for congregations. Elders are to “rule well” (1 Timothy 5:17); Christians in the congregation must “obey your leaders and submit to them” (Hebrews 13:17). In marriage, God establishes the husband as “the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph 5:22). To see Ephesians 5:21 as a blanket call for a leaderless egalitarianism is to misread the message of Scripture.

Third, Ephesians 5:21 should be seen as setting the ethos for the kind of leadership exercised by those entrusted with authority in the church and home. Elders and husbands are to lead in a way that shows a deferential, sacrificial concern for the good of others. The Bible’s vision of godly leadership follows the example of Jesus, who though he was both Teacher and Lord, washed his disciples feet (John 13:13).

In short, God calls elders and husbands to become “better men” who lead sacrificially rather than selfishly. As Paul put it a few verses earlier in Ephesians 5, men (and women) need to be filled with the Spirit so they can live out God’s will (Eph 5:17-18). Better men love women better. Better men make for better marriages.

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An Invitation to a Marriage Conference

marriage mattersThis February, Linda and I are scheduled to speak at two marriage conferences. On February 3-4, we will be in Wyoming, Ontario (near Sarnia) at a Marriage Matters Conference hosted by the People’s Church of Wyoming.

The following weekend, February 9-11, we will speak at the Valentines reConnect Weekend at Fair Havens Conference Centre, near Beaverton, Ontario.

ValentinesWe’re convinced God’s Word provides the help we all need to make marriage durable and beautiful. As Christian marriages flourish, they point people to the great love between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). So we would invite you to invest in your marriage by joining us for one of these marriage conferences. Or would you pass this news along to others.

For more information, visit the People’s Church website or the Fair Havens Ministries website.

We’d ask you to pray for us as we prepare and present biblical truth at these conferences. Ask the Lord to work powerfully in hearts and strengthen marriages for His glory and the joy of His people.

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Glory in His Name

Sing to Him, Sing Praises to Him

Speak of all His wonders

Glory in His holy name;

Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.

1 Chronicles 16:9-10

On Monday, Heritage began the winter semester with 10 new college students joining in Reorientation week. The chapel service on Tuesday was filled with singing God’s praises.

On Wednesday, the weather brought a sudden change to freezing the rain, and while returning home Linda lost control of the car on a steep hill into our neighbourhood. God in His great mercy allowed a snowbank to hold her from sliding backwards down the hill. God in His great mercy protected everyone and their cars.

Within moments of returning safely home, a phone call revealed our daughter in law was in labor. In answer to our prayers, Jonathan Maynor Reed was born at 1:23 on Thursday, January 11th in Princeton, New Jersey. We have joined the celebration and are delighted to be grandparents.

We have so many reasons to glory in His name, and for which to be glad. Rejoice with us! For all of you who have prayed for Heritage and for us, we are so very grateful!

Here are a few pictures of baby Jonathan!

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Jenny, Ryan and Jonathan

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Rick and a future Heritage student

 

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Rick and Linda’s Recommended Reads

With a name like Reed, it makes sense we’d love books. Working at Heritage, with its wonderful theological library, is the bibliophile equivalent of being given a free pass to the Mandarin buffet. So many tasty delights from which to choose.

While our first and best read this past year has been God’s Word (see the previous post), we have both benefitted from reading additional books in 2017. Here are our top picks in a variety of categories. Do your heart a favour and pick up one (or more) of these good books in 2018.bainton

Top Biography: Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton. 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Bainton’s captivating biography on Martin Luther’s life, teaching and ministry was a perfect way to understand more of the back story of this world-changing event. Here I Stand goes down as our favourite book for the year.

barrett 12Top Spiritual Life Book: God’s Word Alone, by Matthew Barrett. One of the five solas of the Reformation was Sola Scripture (Scripture Alone). Barrett explains what it means for Scriptures to be our final authority and why this is essential to the life of Christians and the health of the Church. In an age when God’s Word is denied or dismissed, God’s Word Alone provides soul-strengthening support for all who base their lives on God’s inspired, inerrant Word.

sandersTop Theology Book: The Deep Things of God, by Fred Sanders. You would expect a book about the Trinity to be deep, but you might not expect it to both engaging and encouraging. Sanders, who teaches at Biola University, provides a thought-provoking, heart-enriching reflection on the grandeur and greatness of our Triune God.holland

Top History Book: The Battle of Britain by James Holland. A clear, readable account of five key months in WWII (May – October 1940). The book begins with Hitler’s blitzkrieg through Europe and ends with RAF’s heroic defence of Britain. In between, Holland describes the miraculous evacuation from the shores of Dunkirk. Wiarda

Top Bible Study Book: Interpreting Gospel Narratives by Timothy Wiarda. An insightful explanation on how to accurately interpret passages from the Gospels. Perfect for anyone who preaches or teaches from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

gospel convTop Outreach Book: Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations, by Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright. A short, practical book on how to make the Great Commission more of an everyday commission.  We are using this book with all our first year students at Heritage.  It’s our desire to see each of them grow in their confidence and competence in pointing people to Christ, beginning with everyday conversations.

crowTop Fiction Book: Jaber Crow by Wendell Berry. While neither of us read much fiction, this novel came recommended by one of our favourite musicians–Andrew Peterson. The book starts slow but gains interest as the story unfolds. Some thoughtful, probing reflections on the nature of progress, the importance of community and the meaning of love.

Happy Reading!

 

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New Year + Old Idea = New You

2018As we launch into a New Year, I have an old idea I would ask you to carefully consider. Although the idea isn’t new, it could lead to a new you. Or, to put it in more precise theological terms, it could help the new you (who you are in Christ) come more into view (visible spiritual growth).

James GrayThe idea comes from James Gray’s book, How to Master the English Bible—first published in 1906. Gray, who served as the president of the Moody Bible Institute for thirty years (1904-1934), didn’t actually come up with the idea himself. He learned it from a Christian layman. But this simple idea had a profound effect on his spiritual growth.

Here’s Gray’s account of how it happened.

The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman. We were fellow-attendants at a certain Christian conference or convention and thrown together a good deal for several days, and I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger—peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about. One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” I was surprised, for I had read it without such results, and therefore asked him to explain the manner of his reading, when he related the following: He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus‚’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.” 

I confess that as I listened to this simple recital my heart was going up in thanksgiving to God for answered prayer, the prayer really of months, if not years, that I might come to know how to master His Word. And yet, side by side with the thanksgiving was humiliation that I had not discovered so simple a principle before, which a boy of ten or twelve might have known. And to think that an “ordained” minister must sit at the feet of a layman to learn the most important secret of his trade!

Most Christians know that reading God’s Word is essential to their spiritual health. Yet, according to the Canadian Bible Engagement Study, only a fraction of professing Christians (14%) read the Bible at least once a week. (And as my father used to say, “Seven days without God’s Word makes one weak”).

So here’s the challenge I’d invite you to consider this year. Select a book in the Bible and read it repeatedly in the coming weeks or months. Last year, I did this with the four Gospels. I spent every morning reading consecutively and reflectively through Matthew, usually a chapter each day. When I finished Matthew, I went on to Mark. Then Luke. Then John. When I finished John 21, I went back and started again with Matthew 1.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and rereading the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry in 2017. Many mornings I was challenged by Jesus’ words (“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith”—Mark 4:40) or comforted by His grace (for example, Jesus’ words of commendation about John the Baptist at a time when John’s faith wavered—Luke 7:28).

While doing a saturation reading of one book of the Bible is certainly not the only way to engage with Scripture, it’s a way I’ve found to be extremely beneficial. I’m convinced you will too.

(If you could use a few more tips on how to implement this idea, check out this helpful blog post by Joe Carter. This is where I was introduced to James Gray’s idea.)

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Merry Christmas from Rick and Linda

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I love the words spoken by Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) who poetically refers to Jesus as “the sunrise from on high” who came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

This Christmas, may Jesus be the light that brightens the dark places in our world and guides your steps into the way of His peace in the New Year.

Thank you for your friendship and your partnership in the ministry of training men and women to carry the light of Christ into churches and communities across Canada and around the world.

Merry Christmas,

Rick and Linda Reed

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Linda’s Graduation

IMG_2036On Friday, December 8th we were down in Louisville, Kentucky for Linda’s graduation from Southern Seminary.  Having completed her Doctor in Education degree–including comprehensive exams and her dissertation–she walked the stage and received her diploma from Southern president, Albert Mohler.

Here’s the link to the graduation ceremony.  If you want see Linda receive her doctoral diploma, fast forward to the 1 hour and 41 minute mark in the ceremony.

Linda GradThe graduation ceremony was a joyful celebration of a significant milestone in Linda’s life.  We are grateful for the way the Lord strengthened her throughout the three year journey.  Her advisors complemented her for doing excellent work on her dissertation which focused on training programs for women at complementarian seminaries and colleges.  The education she received will be useful in her role of directing the Heritage Centre for Women in Ministry.

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Linda’s Cohort of Doctor of Education Graduates

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