May 2009


A few days ago my wife pointed out that we have been married with children longer than without – Elaine turned three yesterday, and our 6th wedding anniversary won’t be until September 1st. I have vague recollections of those days of virtually carefree living before children. For the first 3 months of our marriage I was the only one working, and at Starbucks for that matter. Our entire relationship had been long-distance, so we soaked in the time together. When Andrea began work in January, life got a little busier, and when I started Seminary in the fall, we learned to value our downtime together even more. Having a child wasn’t on our radar screen – how could we make time for that amidst our busy lives? We knew we wanted kids, but not until things slowed down. Then, amidst the start of my second year of schooling, we found out we were having a baby.

It’s funny how children define your life even before they are born. The budget finally became something to seriously stick to, and our once spacious apartment began to feel slightly cramped. Even our definition of what it meant for life to be busy was shattered.

Marriage and children are gifts from God and have probably been the greatest means of making me more like Christ, second only to Scripture. Joining my life with my wife’s was a tangible step in helping me see more clearly that the world doesn’t revolve around me, though my immature mind probably simply pulled her into the center of the universe with me. Sure, theologically and philosophically I would have said that all things are created for God’s glory, as are my wife and I, but more often than not I functionally placed myself and my wife (probably in that order) above the glory of God. Sadly, I’m still prey to the same trap. Having Elaine 3 years ago and Lena last August have both been strong pushes on my ego, sending it further from the center of the earth’s rotation.

The removal of me from the center, though, should not result in the placing of my wife or children there, causing me to simply focus on their wants or even needs. Surely I have a responsibility to provide for my family and seek their happiness, but allowing my life to be focused wholly on them is the wrong approach. My wife and children are gifts, and the danger with such immense gifts is to exalt them above the Giver. God has not blessed me with an amazing wife and two beautiful little girls so that I will exalt them, but so that I will exalt Him, the Giver of all good gifts. The point of God gracing me with such breathtaking gifts is not so I worship them, but so that I worship Him.

In fact, my family should point me toward the greatest gift: the gift of salvation through Jesus. All other gifts are the fruit of that priceless and completely undeserved gift, the greatest example of a gift that glorifies the Giver, not the totally unworthy recipient.

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While at the Gospel Coalition Conference April 21-23, I resisted the temptation to buy more books, given I had received enough free ones and have enough unread ones on my shelves. But I did buy a CD. I had been eyeing Sovereign Grace Music’s Valley of Vision for some time, and after singing the song “O Great God” from the CD during one of the worship times, I had to buy it. The songs on the album are based on a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions compiled by Arthur Bennett in his now classic book by the same title as the CD. I would recommend both the CD and the book.

The lyrics on the CD are profound yet accessible and always worshipful, and the music complements the songs well throughout – driving or contemplative as appropriate. I would describe the lyrics and music as a combination of the best elements from Indelible Grace and the Passion projects, both of which I enjoy. Samples of the songs are available through Sovereign Grace Music’s website, and here are the lyrics to the song that sold me.

O Great God

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Words and Music by Bob Kauflin
(Based on The Valley of Vision prayer “Regeneration”)