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GPS – The Challenge of Older Age

GPS – The Challenge of Older Age

by Rick Shrader


Being a septuagenarian myself, I know many of the challenges of older age. Solomon called it the “difficult” days (Ecc. 12:1) but he also said, “the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Prov. 20:29). Moses encouraged us to “number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom” (Psa. 90:12). David said we should “bear fruit in old age” (Psa. 92:14) and Job said “wisdom is with aged men” (Job 12:12). Here are a few responsibilities we have in older age.

To God. Our first responsibility is always to our Creator and our Savior. David prayed, “O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Psa. 71:17-18).

To Society. The unsaved world may despise mortality  and try every way possible to prevent it, but 100% of humans have died and that percentage won’t change. Growing old gracefully is a blessing to the world around us. The date-palm tree in Israel averages 200 years and grows 100 lbs. of figs every year until it dies. Psalm 92 says we should be like the date-palm “to bear fruit in old age” and “to declare that the Lord is upright” (Psa. 92:14-15).

To our Family. The family is the oldest and most important institution on earth. Through it we carry on God’s image, God’s mandate, and most importantly, God’s gospel salvation. Where would the world be now if every believing family had won all of their children to the Lord? The faith should be passed on to generations to come. “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children” (Psa. 78:5-6).

To the Church. The language of family becomes the relationship we have to the “household of God,” to all of our “brothers and sisters” in “the family of God.” For many who don’t come from a believing family, water (of baptism) becomes thicker than blood. Jesus asked, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  His answer was, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:48, 50). Paul specifically instructed Titus to instruct the “older men” and the “older women” be a “pattern of good works” and to admonish “young men” and “young women” to “speak things that are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1-6).

To Yourself. “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Prov. 16:31). There are too many excuses to use in your older years to keep yourself from walking with God. Paul wanted to “finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24).

William Law spoke of our older age, “Delight in its service and beg of God to adorn it with every grace and perfection.  Nourish it with good works, give it peace in solitude, get it strength in prayer, make it wise with reading, enlighten it by meditation, make it tender with love, sweeten it with humility, humble it with penance, enliven it with psalms and hymns, and comfort it with frequent reflections upon future glory.”  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, 1729.

Other observations on Older Age

Woodrow Kroll: “There was just something about those ‘old time’ missionaries, the ones who had stuck it out for thirty or forty years on the field without complaint. They had something down deep inside that I didn’t see in many of my twentieth-century students.” The Vanishing Ministry in the 21st Century, p. 9.

A.W. Tozer: “O God, let me die rather than to go on day by day living wrong.  I do not want to become a careless, fleshly old man.  I want to be right so that I can die right!  Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if it would mean that I should cease to live right and fail in my mission to glorify You all of my days!”  Mornings With Tozer, May 31.

Spurgeon: “It usually happens that, when we listen to a venerable patriarch, such as he then was, there is all the greater weight in his words because of his age.  I fancy that, if I had heard the same sermon preached by a young man, I should not have thought much of it; but there appeared all the greater depth in it because it came from an old man standing almost on the borders of the grave.” Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Vol. I, p. 208.

D.L. Moody:  “The longer I live, the more I am convinced that godly men and women are not appreciated in our day.  But their work will live after them, and there will be a greater work done after they are gone, by the influence of their lives, than when they were living.”  Spiritual Power, p. 107.

Francis Schaeffer: “Much of the younger generation surely is like this:  they know nothing of saying ‘no’ to themselves or anything else.  But this is only half true, because the older ones are also like this.” True Spirituality, p. 20.

Thomas a’ Kempis: “Vanity it is, to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well.” The Imitation of Christ, p. 24.

John MacArthur: “At the age of 83—after having traveled some 250,000 miles on horseback, preached more than 40,000 sermons, and produced some 200 books and pamphlets—John Wesley regretted that he was unable to read and write for more than 15 hours a day without his eyes becoming too tired to work. After his 86th birthday, he admitted to an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning!”  Titus, 72.

An Old Disciple

There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge(Acts 21:16).

“Such a great concourse of people there was to the feast that it was a hard matter to get lodgings; the public houses would be taken up by those of the better sort, and it was looked upon as a scandalous thing for those that had private houses to let their rooms out at those times, but they must freely accommodate strangers with them. Every one then would choose his friends to be his guests, and Mnason took Paul and his company to be his lodgers; though he had heard what trouble Paul was likely to come into, which might bring those that entertained him into trouble too, yet he shall be welcome to him, whatever comes of it.

“This Mnason is called an old disciple – a disciple from the beginning; some think, one of the seventy disciples of Christ, or one of the first converts after the pouring out of the Spirit, or one of the first that was converted by the preaching of the gospel in Cyprus, Acts 13:4. However it was, it seems he had been long a Christian, and was now in years. Note, It is an honourable thing to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, to have been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in a course of duty, stedfast in the faith, and growing more and more prudent and experienced to a good old age. And with these old disciples one would choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years will teach wisdom”  (Matthew Henry).

Barna Reports

“When asked about the most influential people in their spiritual journey, most U.S. adults name family and friends. Generally, mothers (57%), fathers (33%), grandmothers (24%) and friends (20%) rank highest on the list. For older adults, though, the influence of a pastor is also prevalent. More than one in four Elders (27%) and one in five Boomers (21%) say a pastor has been the most influential to their spiritual journey. This finding points to the critical role pastors play in the lives of seniors. Amid the Church’s rally cry to reach younger generations, pastors are still most trusted by older adults.” Faith-Generations, Oct. 18, 2023.


GPS – The Junctions in the Road

GPS – The Junctions in the Road

by Rick Shrader


One of the things that is often overlooked in literature on the family is the wisdom we need when we make big decisions in life. I call these junctions in the road. When we come to an intersection that only has two alternatives, we can only take one of them. That decision will change everything in our lives. Job responded to Zophar, “Have you not asked those who travel the road? And do you not know their signs?” (Job 21:29).

Birth. We came into the world by someone else’s decision. It is a junction for which we had no choice. This junction results in many circumstances that we will live with for the rest of our lives: our parents, our looks, our country of origin, the inflection of our voice, our ancestors.

Salvation. The first big junction in the road we all come to is the decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior. Even to refuse Him is to take a different road in life. Where would you be now if you hadn’t taken the “right” turn? For those who consequently have sought to know God’s will, almost everything has changed. “All things have become new.”

Marriage. Next to salvation, the decision to marry is the next largest decision you will make in your life. If you are faithful to your wedding covenant, you will live with this person for the rest of your life. Her family is your family. Her inherited problems are your problems and her inherited blessings are your blessings. The children you produce will be a unique blend between the two of you which no other two people could possibly produce. The wedding vows promise that you will go down this path together until death parts you.

Children. Children are produced by a sexual union whether in marriage or out of marriage. The child that is produced by that action (junction) is your responsibility for the rest of your life and theirs. In proper marriage, the decision to have children is a momentary junction with life-long responsibility. You will work the rest of your life to support, clothe and feed, teach, counsel, and bandage this person all your days. A husband and wife team is the God-ordained way to do this. A father and mother is the ordained means to produce godly children that worship God and eventually choose this same junction in their lives.

Daily decisions. Life is a list of daily decisions, common junctions in the road. There are wrong and sinful turns. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 16:25). There are decisions that are neither moral nor immoral but change one’s life. “For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov 4:22). There are those decisions that keep you in the will of God. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psa 23:3). “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Death. The last junction in the road is to depart from this life. God should be the one to make this turn at His own time. Some usurp God’s will and exit this life prematurely and sinfully by suicide or assisted death. Jesus met with Moses and Elijah on the mount of Transfiguration and “spoke of His decease [Gr. “exodus”] which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:31). It was as though Jesus was planning for the exit. Peter, one of the witnesses of this event, therefore said, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover, I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease [exodus]” (2 Pet. 1:14-15).

Observations on Junctions in the Road

Louis L’Amour: “How often it is that a whim may alter the course of our existences! How often the simple decision whether to go right or left when one leaves a doorway can change so much! A man may turn to the right and walk straightaway into all manner of evil, and to the left, all manner of good.” Fair Blows the Wind, 235.

C.S. Lewis: “But in friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, Who said to the disciples, ‘Ye have not chosen me but, I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends, ‘You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.’” The Four Loves, p. 126.

Robert Alden: “The precepts of Proverbs are like signposts at critical junctions in life where we might stray from the road. Carefully mapping out our journey, making intersections which might be confusing, and noting dangers to be avoided along the way are the best ways to guarantee a safe trip.”  Proverbs, p. 48.

Ken Mondschein: [on Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”] “Frost uses the metaphor of a traveler journeying through a forest to represent the journey of life. The traveler comes upon a fork in the road and must decide which path to take. The two paths represent the different choices we make in life, and the traveler’s decision to take the less traveled path symbolizes the choice to take a risk and follow one’s own unique path.” A Collection of Poems by Robert Frost, Introduction.

Jeremiah Burroughs: “A contented heart looks to God’s disposal. That is, he sees the wisdom of God in everything. . . The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further ahead than I do. I see only the present but the Lord sees a great while from now.” Quoted by Jim Newheiser, The Journal of Modern Ministry, Fall, 2004, p. 72.

The decision to leave church

The decision to leave or continue going to church is one of the most life-changing junctions in the road. In the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, 2016, Chap Bettis relates statistics that show the road marked “Leaving” is a broad road.

“In twenty-five separate surveys of more than 22,000 adults and 2,000 teenagers, George Barna found that only 20 percent of the respondents had maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experience. In another study, he found that 58 percent of young adults who attended church every week when they were teens did not attend church at all by the time they were 29. Dr. Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Seminary took a more conservative approach and only counted those who were a part of a church or youth group when they graduated from high school. Her estimate, based on multiple surveys, was that up to 50 percent of young people did not stick with their faith once they were in college.

“Britt Beemer of the America’s Research Group studied only those who said they attended church every week when they were growing up but never or seldom attend today. After more than 20,000 phone calls, he came to a shocking revelation: Of those who reported they no longer believed the Bible true, 40 percent first had doubts in middle school, 44 percent first had their doubts in high school, and about 11 percent had their first doubts in college. In other words, we are losing many of the hearts of our children in junior high, even though we don’t lose their bodies until later.” pp. 9-10

Justice Clarence Thomas remembers the junction that changed his life. Clarence and his brother were raised by their grandparents when his mother could no longer raise them. Of his swearing in on October 23, 1991, he wrote,

“I thought back to another sunny day in 1955, the day my brother and I had walked to the white house at 542 E. 32nd St. to live with our grandparents, all of our belongings stuffed into a pair of grocery bags. So began the journey that had led me at last to these steps. It was there Daddy and Aunt Tina [his names for his grandparents] taught me all they knew and gave me all they had.” My Grandfather’s Son, p. 289.


GPS – The Adorning of the Body

GPS – The Adorning of the Body

by Rick Shrader


Since the fall into sin God has commanded that the body be properly covered in a modest and proper way. I Corinthians 11 teaches us that proper adorning of the body involves more than hats and hair. It is a matter of headship (3-5), a matter of modesty (5-6), and a matter of gender recognition (13-15).

A matter of headship (1 Cor. 11:3-5)

There is both equality and inequality within headship. The Father and the Son are equal in deity yet for purposes of incarnation the Son submits to the Father. The husband and the wife are equal as souls before God but for purposes of marriage the wife submits to her husband. The inequality is shown among lesser heads and greater heads. The man is not equal to the Son but submits because to do so is to submit to God. The wife submits to the husband because to do so is to submit to Jesus Christ her higher Head. Improper adorning (a “symbol,” vs. 10) for anyone under a higher or lower head “dishonors” that head. Jesus was always submissive to the Father but men and women, husbands and wives fail too often.

A matter of modesty (1 Cor. 11:5-6, 14)

Paul says that it is “shameful” for a woman to be shaven like a man (also because she would appear to be a harlot). He also says it is shameful for a man to wear hair like a woman. Modesty in appearance is a symbol of submission to one’s head which is ultimately to God Himself. Uncovering oneself in an immodest way is always a sin. The Holiness Code of Leviticus 18 calls sexual immorality a discovery of someone’s nakedness. Nakedness and immodesty are described as a “shame” in Scripture (Isa. 47:3; Jer. 13:26; Rev. 3:18; 16:15). Immodesty or nakedness (even for parts of the body) is to misuse one’s gender identification and thereby dishonor one’s head. For the same reason cross-dressing is a sin. Men and women are not to adorn themselves as the opposite sex (Deut. 22:5). In the home, the father and the sons are to look like males, and the mother and daughters are to look like females. This honors the relationships related to headship and submission.

A matter of Gender (1 Cor. 11:13-15)

Keeping gender-specific appearance is pleasing to God. Paul uses gender as an indication of proper headship and submission. There are not specific descriptions about dress for males and females (though Peter comes close in 1 Pet. 3:4), but two things direct us properly. Nature teaches gender while culture shows gender. Paul says “nature itself teaches” (11:14). In Romans 1, Paul said that sexual perversion is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26). “Nature” (Gr. phusis, in Cor. and Rom.) means “the nature of things.” God created only two genders, male and female (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4), and His creation vividly shows distinction between the two. However, culture shows gender. That is, different cultures may have different forms of dress, but every culture has its distinctive styles for male and female. You know what these are in your own culture. Cross-dressing is cross-dressing because it’s an obvious contradiction in that culture. Violations of nature or culture dishonor your Head, that is, God your Creator.

How we adorn our bodies says much about our faith. “Such symbols can be easily discerned. We can often determine by a woman’s appearance if she is rebelling against everything womanhood stands for or if a man is effeminate and denying recognized symbols of masculinity.” MacArthur, Successful Parenting, 56.


Further reading on Adornment

Andreas & Margaret Köstenberger: “Like the foot washing, woman’s wearing of head coverings is clearly a cultural practice that only communicates the under-lying principle it’s seeking to convey—the proper submission to authority—in cultures where women wear head coverings to indicate their submissive stance.” God’s Design for Man and Woman, p. 173

Kevin DeYoung: “Nature doesn’t teach us how long our hair should be. Culture teaches us the acceptable hair lengths for men and women. Nature, though, teaches us that men ought to adorn themselves like men and women like women. The natural God-given inclination of men and women is to be ashamed of that which confuses their sexual difference. Culture gives us the symbols of masculinity and femininity, while nature dictates that men should embrace their manhood and women embrace their womanhood.” Men and Women in the Church, p. 56

Josh Mulvihill: “Explain to your child that to be modest is to dress respectfully and in an ordered fashion. We are modest when we cover our body with clothes, but, more specifically, we are modest when we wear clothes that we would want others to wear if they were around us. Modesty is a way to love our neighbors.”  Preparing Children for Marriage, p. 182

Thomas Schreiner: “Paul rightly saw, as he shows in this text, that there is a direct link between women appropriating leadership and the loss of femininity. It is no accident that Paul addresses the issues of feminine adornment and submission to male leadership in the same passage.” “Head Coverings, Prophecies, and the Trinity,” Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p. 176-77

Elisabeth Elliot: “Nudity [our culture says] is not supposed to move us. We are asked to behold without shock, without even surprise, the nearly total exposure of every conceivable shape and size of physique. But I don’t want to look at nudity without emotion. I want it reserved to enhance, not exhibited to destroy, the depth of individual experience. I feel I am being robbed of the incalculably valuable treasures of delicacy, mystery, and sophistication. Modesty was a system of protection. But the alarms have all been disconnected. The house is wide open to plunder.”  Let Me be a Woman, p. 158

The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom (1987). Being a Baby Boomer in the 1960s, Bloom’s critique of the university’s decline hit a special note with me and I devoured the book. He wrote of the decline of morality and modesty in the time of a more progressive culture. Here is a section I had marked.

“The criticism of the old is of no value if there is no prospect of the new. It is a way of removing the impediments to vice presented by decaying virtue. In the sixties the professors were just hastening to fold up their tents so as to be off the grounds before the stampede trampled them. The openness was to ‘doing your own thing.’ It was, and I suppose still is, a sure sign of an authoritarian personality to believe that the university should try to have a vision of what an educated person is. ‘Growth’ or ‘individual development’ was all that was to be permitted, which in America meant only that the vulgarities present in society at large would overwhelm the delicate little plants kept in the university greenhouse for those who need other kinds of nourishment.” (p. 321)

The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis (1947).

Lewis called modern men of his generation “Men without Chests.” They were cerebral with large minds, and visceral with much desire, but they had no chests, the morality to judge between the two. No wonder we have little morality or modesty almost a century later.

“The head rules the belly through the chest—the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The chest—Magnanimity—sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and the visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals.” (p. 34)




GPS – The Gift of Singleness

GPS – The Gift of Singleness

by Rick Shrader


Singleness is a unique time in life that we all experience at least once. We all start out single until we decide to get married. But even married people may end their life single if their spouse dies first. There are other situations where a person may be single also. The Bible is not silent on this unique time of life.

The Biblical Picture

Though the Old Testament gives a more negative view of singleness, the New Testament gives a far more acceptable view. Uniquely, Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul were single (Paul’s marital background is less known) whereas some apostles were married as well as the Lord’s brothers (1 Cor 9:5). Jesus referred to some men who “made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God’s sake” (Matt 11:11-12). Many consider this to be a “self-imposed renunciation of marriage.” The apostle Paul mentions a “gift” of singleness given to some by God (1 Cor 7:7).

Single as Youth

We enter our teen years single having become aware of our God-given sexuality as male or female in His image (Gen 1:27). Good and godly instruction during these years teaches us that purity is God’s will while we are single and a precious gift to give to a spouse if we get married. Even if we do eventually marry (as most do), these single years present a number of admonitions. 1) We shouldn’t seek only to be married, nor “take any plane that is leaving the airport.” 2) Being the right person allows us to find the right person. 3) Learning to resist temptations of the flesh and worldly allurements is good for singleness and marriage. 4) Finding accountability in family, good friends, church, and Scripture is at the core of our faith.

Single by Choice

Both the decision to remain single and the decision to marry should be made confidently in God’s will. The decision to remain single may be made for a few reasons. 1) Paul says one may remain single during times of distress (1 Cor 7:26) or simply because it is good “for a man not to touch a woman” i.e., not to have sexual relations (7:1) during this time of life. 2) Even if one is waiting for a mate, self-control is a biblical imperative (7:8-9). 3) Singleness may be God’s gift, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself, but each one has his own gift from God” (7:7). This is a specific giftedness God gives a man or a woman to remain single for life in order to serve God in a greater way than if married. Just as newlyweds surrender their virginity to one another, a single person surrenders his/her virginity to the Lord for service. It is a unique gift.

Single not by Choice

Churches are full of people who have found themselves single but not by their specific choice. 1) As we have mentioned, all young people are single until they get married. We are usually busy instructing and mentoring them for later life. 2) There are many more divorced people in our churches than ever before. There are biblical places for them to serve. It is a good probability that if this person has remained faithful to church, divorce was probably not his/her desire. 3) We always have widows and widowers in church. We have great examples in Scripture of widows (Anna in Luke 2, a widow for 84 years) and a whole chapter given to their ministry and care (1 Tim 5).

Serving God in any capacity is the greatest gift of all. “And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation” (Luke 1:50).


The Shrinking Ministry

This is the third part (of three) of an article I wrote last year and didn’t print. Many good reasons for this problem have been offered and a number of good solutions suggested. In previous sections of this article I had mentioned various sources. Here I add my own suggested solutions to the list. Here is part three.

Are there solutions? Taking the four sources I’ve mentioned, there are some 19-20 “reasons” (many overlapped) given for the decline. Also, from these sources there are some 17-18 “solutions” offered. Space does not allow me to list them but they are easily accessible. I will add a few of my own. 1) I concur with the need often mentioned for better mentoring of young men and more intentional presenting of the “call” of God to ministry and the “surrender” of a man to God’s call. Kroll added the “burning of the bridge” behind a man who answers God’s call. This is a proper emphasis for youth camps and mission trips, but why not for our pulpits and classrooms as well? 2) Here is a suggestion that always has many opinions: With so many churches on the verge of closing or giving up, I believe we need to be more open to accepting men of varying educational backgrounds for varying levels of ministry opportunities, even godly and intelligent laymen. There are many churches and ministries where a seminary education is necessary, but there are many ministries where college level or institute level preparation would be welcomed. After all, most of our theological schools started as Bible institutes (including Spurgeon’s and Moody’s) when other schools could not supply the need and then grew into their current status. Today, a young man accepting a position in a needy church can easily further his education online while gaining valuable experience. 3) We have many good and qualified men serving in associate roles who could and should move on to leadership roles. I realize there are many obstacles for such a man and his family including finances and location, but the churches have needs and these men are able to fill those needs. I know of single men and women who have moved to far-off locations just to find a church to which they could be of some help—and they are warmly welcomed. 4) There are many small rural churches that are being ignored by young men due to various reasons. Perhaps it would require a by-vocational situation for a while (not always) and would bring little or no personal recognition. Perhaps a man would have to be more traditional than he would like. I believe these churches afford a great place to learn to preach, administrate, love people, marry them and bury them. After all, isn’t that ministry? In addition, these situations allow a man to study, grow, even continue his education and these churches would love to have them. 5) It has been observed by others that we are already seeing older pastors staying longer in their ministry than they had planned. Some are also coming back into ministry or taking a part-time ministry role to help a church. Some are serving as the interim pastor to help a church until they find a permanent pastor. 6) I have read of two or three rural churches sharing a “circuit-riding” pastor. A man may be able to preach at one church in the morning and another in the afternoon or evening. This isn’t best but it may keep a church going until a more permanent person can be found. Some state representatives have done this already from time to time. 7) All local churches should, and I believe want to, raise up their own young men to eventually come into a pastoral position. Circumstances, however, become the overriding factor in the ability to do this, even if the desire is there. Yet, strong Christian families should be  purposeful in raising their children so that God may work His will and calling in their lives.

In Addition:

All of our fundamental and conservative churches and ministries need to re-evaluate where we came from and why we are here. The church at Ephesus was scolded by Jesus for leaving her first love. The solution was to remember, repent, redo, or else be removed (Rev 2:5). There was no more strategic church in the first century than Ephesus. However, in 30 years, with such leadership as Paul, Timothy, and John, it had lost its way and needed to go back to the basics. The pull from culture today is worse than it was then. Churches and movements often lose their way in a generation or two. Perhaps it is time for us to remember where we came from, repent of where we are headed, and redo our purpose before we are removed due to ineffectiveness. Some churches may need to change from some older ways, and other churches need to return back from newer ways that have hurt more than they have helped. One thing is for sure, the local church of the New Testament is God’s method. There are good reasons why the basic format has been blessed by God for hundreds of years.



GPS – The Stewardship for Children

GPS – The Stewardship for Children

by Rick Shrader


We never stop being someone’s child. There are those times, especially when we’re young, that we wish we could stop—and those times, when our parents are gone, that we wish we could recover that family closeness. Our life as a child can be divided into two periods—those years we are under our parents’ direct control, and those years when we are independent.

Under parental care

The apostle Paul commands children to “obey” their parents (Eph 6:1-4). Peter says to “submit” to one’s elders (1 Pet 5:5). Just as a father has a stewardship before God for leadership, and a mother has a stewardship for submission, the child has a stewardship for obedience. All three roles are needed to complete our dominion mandate in the dispensation in which we live.

First, your parents brought you into the world. Life begins at conception and that was caused by a father and a mother. You owe your very life to these people and God has placed you in their care by His providence. Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “What we are is a gift, and, like other gifts, chosen by God alone. We are not presented with an array of options: What would you like to be? How tall? What color? What temperament would you prefer? Which parents would you choose as forebears?” Second, they nurtured you through the formative years and made you what you are: Your smile, your personality, your very voice inflection.

Third, they prepared you for life including guiding you to Christ, teaching you basics skills needed for survival, and helping you make good decisions that would be a help and not a hinderance in life. Fourth, they taught you obedience. The command for obedience is grounded in the fifth commandment (Eph 6:2, Exod 20:12). Being “disobedient to parents” is listed among the worst sins in the Bible (Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2). A younger child needs gentle force to assure this obedience, and an older child should see obedience as his/her part of submission that we all have to Christ as our Head (Eph 5:21-6:4).

Independent of parental care

In the Bible, children are under their parents’ care until they leave to start their own home in marriage (Gen 2:24). Yet, the 5th commandment to honor parents never ends as long as our parents are alive.

First, your parents guide you during your single years. You may be at home, in school, or already working a job. The decisions you make during these years take wisdom beyond what you have experienced, and that is where mother and father come in. They have been there and done that. Second, you must seek their guidance in choosing a life’s mate. Yes, this is ultimately your choice but, again, they have been there and you haven’t. There is no greater decision after salvation than marrying someone. Too many times singles make this choice for all the wrong reasons.

Third, you will live with your parents’ influence until they die. Don’t waste this time. There are good examples from your parents; mimic those and carry on that heritage. There are poor examples from your parents; reclaim those and let them be for good. I mean, you see some things that you don’t want to repeat so those things become good poor examples. By learning from them you reclaim what they should have been. Fourth, eventually you will switch places with your parents and care for them as they cared for you. This is honorable. After they are gone you will pass on the legacy to their grandchildren. This is honorable.


The Shrinking Ministry

This is the second part (of three) of an article I wrote last year and didn’t print. I am printing it here because we continue to have a “shrinking ministry,” i.e., fewer pastors and workers in our churches and fewer churches as well as many older churches closing their doors for good. In part one I listed various reasons that have been given by good men. In this second part I will add a few of my own reasons, and then in part three add some of my own thoughts for solutions. Here is part two.

What are some reasons? Our own reasons come out of our own experience. What is striking or obvious to one may not be to someone else. Here are a few reasons that I have observed in my own ministry. 1) The cost of college or seminary education is an obvious deterrent to ministry but it also is unavoidable in the 21st century. Nevertheless, if a student leaves his education years with huge debt, it is very difficult or impossible to live on a minister’s salary, especially as a new or young pastor. Associate positions are even more difficult to afford. 2) The rise of para-church (and related) ministries has pulled many of our potential ministers away from local church work to greener grass in other places and types of ministry. We seldom get these workers back into our local church ministries. 3) I also think that the dissolving of our denominational names and the weakening of our fellowship and associational ties causes many of our men to be pulled away from our fellowshipping churches. As a young man myself I bristled at the feeling of being a cog in a fellowship machine. Then I realized that Sunday schools, youth groups, youth camps, Bible colleges, seminaries, mission agencies, church planters, all complete a necessary cycle for keeping like-minded ministry going. As these connections became looser, schools, churches, and mission agencies have suffered. 4) I agree that the Covid years hurt churches and schools. The necessity of live-streaming and zooming has resulted in less in-church attendance and in-class enrollment. Our services and schools may be available to people and students all over the world (and praise the Lord for it!) but those good men are not as available to our churches or mission boards as they once were. 5) Woodrow Kroll has a chapter called “WAGAPS School Teachers.” That stands for “We’re As Good As Public Schools.” He even says, “In his effort to provide a superior education, the WAGAPS Christian school teacher drives his students as far from life-time ministry as possible.” Kroll’s point is that many times our schools (and I would add our churches) have tried so hard to keep up with the cultural Joneses that we have unwittingly pushed our young people away from ministry which appears less acceptable and toward careers that are more financially stable. 6) Pastors, teachers, and church parents have not raised up a generation for ministry as they once did. Youth groups, camps, Christian schools are just not producing the same ministry mindset.

In addition to these, our own children, in our church families, are becoming discouraged toward ministry; our associates and pastoral staff often do not follow through into further pastoral ministry; we have often criticized our own cause to the point that young men do not want our conservative churches and ministry; and we may have pushed an “upward mobility” mindset to the point that young people either cannot or will not “consider the cost” of ministry. I only add my own reasons for a shrinking ministry to the observations of others. (To be continued)



The Barna Research Center, in a series titled, “The Resilient Pastor Initiative,” compared the satisfaction of pastors in 2015 with those in 2022. In a recent article, “A Rapid Decline in Pastoral Security” (3/15/23), Barna gave these reasons for pastoral decline:    The number of pastors who are feeling burnt out, lonely or unwell is on the rise, and this is especially true among young pastors.   The end of the pandemic decline has not seen a return to pre-pandemic levels.   Only 35% of pastors under 45 say they are satisfied in the ministry.   During these years the percentage of pastors who were “confident in their calling” also dropped from 66% to 35%.   25% say they have “lost confidence” in their calling since they began ministry. The article concludes, “Pastors aren’t just broadly less happy with their work than they used to be, they may also be less sure of where they’re supposed to be.” Accessed and summarized 6/21/23.

Note: I realize that research groups such as Barna or Pew paint with a very broad brush. We would expect our conservative pastors to be more confident and stable in their calling to ministry. The statistics do show, however, dangers in current ministry culture.


GPS – The Pattern of Complementarity

GPS – The Pattern of Complementarity

by Rick Shrader


Complementarity is an old term that has come back into common usage. In the sense of a family or a marriage, it means that husband and wife are of equal value before God but have different roles in marriage. The contrary view is called egalitarianism, used by most feminists, which sees husbands and wives as equal both in value and in roles. Complementarity, then, describes a biblical relationship between husband and wife that blends two people, two genders actually, into “one flesh.” Andreas Köstenberger described it this way: “The biblical model for marriage is that of loving complementarity, where the husband and wife are partners who value and respect each other and where the husband’s loving leadership is met with the wife’s intelligent response” (God, Marriage, and Family).

I say complementarity is an old word because it has been in the dictionary a long time. “1: Serving to fill out or complete. 2: Mutually supplying each other’s lack. 3: Relating to or constituting one of a pair of contrasting colors that produce a neutral color when combined in suitable proportions” (Webster’s Seventh). That definition is compatible with the biblical definition. When man and woman were made in innocence in the garden, Adam described Eve this way: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of may flesh; she shall be called woman” (Gen 2:23). Then God added, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (2:24). Or, as Webster’s puts it, two colors combined into one, in suitable proportions.

This combining of the man and the woman in marriage does not destroy the divine image and value in either person, neither does it destroy the headship of the man and the submission of the woman. Rather, it enhances both because this is the way God made us. As head, the man desires to lead in a godly and loving way, “as Christ is head of the church” (Eph 5:23), and desires the church to be all it should be. So the husband desires to lead the wife to be all she should be. In response, the wife desires for her husband to lead in a godly way so that she can be the helper and partner God created her to be. Christ is the head of every human being (1 Cor 11:3), and therefore every man and woman desires to fulfill the role given him or her for the glory of God.

The challenges in our egalitarian culture are great. Today’s world looks at almost any leadership and authority as abusive and dictatorial. It also sees any submissive attitude as cowering and apprehensive. Therefore we see little respect for almost any two-tiered arrangement whether government/citizen; teacher/pupil; employer/employee; parents/children; and especially husband/wife. The rebellion against authority has spread to almost every area of our culture.

This much is true, the fall into sin distorted the husband/wife complementarity which God created. Adam and Eve’s sin resulted in the wife desiring to rule over the husband and the husband responding by ruling harshly over the wife (Gen 3:16-20). From the beginning it was not this way. Faith in Christ will bring back the original purpose for men and women, for husbands and wives, for church leaders and parishioners, and even for governments and citizens. But complementarity is especially appropriate for the marriage covenant. When Jesus referred to the Genesis account He added these words, “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:6). Don’t let an unbelieving culture deprive the marriage of its God-intended complementary roles.


The Shrinking Ministry

Last August (2022) I wrote an article which I never printed. I had titled it “The Shrinking Ministry” and I gave it to a number of pastoral friends because we had been discussing the growing problem of churches not being able to find a pastor or closing altogether. I read articles, books, and listened to messages. I bantered back and forth with good men about this need. I wrote something but left it alone. Recently I have been involved again with many pastors, churches, and laymen concerning this problem and need. I am going to reprint my thoughts in a few installments in this section of GPS.

The Shrinking Ministry, Part 1.

There have been a number of articles, books, and statistics shared recently that have highlighted the fact that the number of pastors, missionaries, and full-time Christian workers is declining in the 21st century. Churches find it difficult to locate or call new ministers. Mission agencies report that their numbers are shrinking every year. Schools at all levels are smaller with fewer students in each one. George Barna published an article titled, “The Aging of America’s Pastors” in which he showed that there are more pastors over the age of 65 than under the age of 40. In 1968 55% of pastors were under 45 years old, but by 2017 only 22% were under 45.

In the Spring ’22 edition of The Baptist Bulletin, Mel & Kristi Walker gave 6 reasons for the decline including the price of theological education, Covid burnout, inward-focused churches, a lack of motivation, family opposition to ministry, and the difficulty of ministry. In the Summer issue, Brandon Crawford also gave 6 similar reasons adding the demographic challenge of waning veterans and veteran benefits, and the ecclesiastical challenge of smaller churches with smaller salaries and opportunities. Each of these articles referenced Woodrow Kroll’s 2002 book, The Vanishing Ministry in the 21st Century (the 1991 edition was about the 20th century). After reading the book, I was impressed by Kroll’s insight and predictions of a vanishing ministry from so many years ago. During these years Kroll was president and teacher of Back to the Bible Radio Program and former president of Practical Bible College (now Davis College, Binghamton, NY). Kroll lays much of the blame on the increasing secularization of Bible colleges, the lack of emphasis for commitment at Christian schools, and the “upward mobility” of Christian families which discourages youth from ministry.

I found these and other concerns about the shrinking ministry very helpful, insightful, and concerning. I am 72 years old and have been in ministry for about 50 years. When I entered Bible college in 1968, all Bible colleges were full with not enough housing and classroom space to meet the need. When I entered seminary in 1972, there were 100 male students (plus 2 girls, one of whom I was fortunate to marry) of which the great majority entered full-time ministry. As a seminary student there were many opportunities to serve in local churches and I served as a youth pastor and interim pastor during those early years. Throughout my years of ministry I have been privileged to teach in Bible colleges and serve on Bible college and seminary boards. I have been pastoring since 1985. I’m simply saying that my generation has seen a lot come and go. I want to add a few of my own observations about the problem of shrinking ministry and then join these men and others with some possible solutions. (To be continued)


Ken Ham on “Trouble and Strife” & “Billy Lids”

I had to laugh with Ken Ham when he included this example of Australian slang in his book on parenting.

“In Australia, we have an odd phenomenon called ‘rhyming slang.’ We substitute a word with another word or phrase that rhymes with the original word, and understand it to mean the same thing as the original. Confused? Let me give you a few examples: The rhyming slang for the word ‘wife’ is ‘trouble and strife.’ The rhyming slang for the word ’road’ is ’frog and toad.’ The rhyming slang for ‘look’ is ‘Captain Cook,’ and the rhyming slang for ‘kids’ is ‘billy lids.’ (A ‘billy lid’ is the cover of a can used for boiling water over a fire for making a cup of tea).

“If I wanted to say, ‘My wife, children, and I are going to have a look at the road,’ using rhyming slang, I would say, ‘The trouble and strife, the billy lids, and I are going to take a Captain Cook at the frog and toad.’”

(from his book, Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World, p. 218)


GPS – The Stewardship of Submission

GPS – The Stewardship of Submission

by Rick Shrader


Submission is a corollary of headship. It follows that if “the head of every man is Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3),  then every lesser submission is a part of our stewardship to Christ our ultimate Head. All of these submissions come from the word hupotassō which always means submission to an authority.

Submission in Creation (Heb. 2:8). In a wide sense, the creation was put in submission to mankind, and as man is subject to Christ, so we are stewards of His creation. At the same time, being part of creation, we are ourselves in the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:20). The angels are in submission to Christ (1 Pet. 3:22).

Submission in Society (Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). In society we are to submit to the civil authorities that apply to us. The servant, or employee, is to be in submission to his master, or employer (Tit. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18). The youth in a society ought to be in submission to the elders (1 Pet. 5:5) in the same way that all children are subject to their parents (Eph. 6:1-3) according to the 5th commandment.

Submission in the Home (Eph. 5:22; Col. 1:18). The submission “to one another” (Eph. 5:21) is taken to mean the one that applies to you and in the way it applies to you. Wives are to submit to their “own husbands,” not to someone else’s husband. The man is never said to submit to his wife, but his stewardship (under Christ) is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. As in all submissions, the authority flows one way. The wife submits to her husband but the husband is not said to submit to his wife. Even the word “serve” (in all its forms) only shows that we are servants of Christ with various household stewardships. At the fall (Gen. 3) we learn that the penalty for sin is that the wife will desire to control the husband and the husband will, in return, rule harshly over the wife.

Children are told to submit to their parents (1 Pet. 5:5) and are to “obey” (listen to) them. The training and admonition that comes from parents is to be accepted by children as long as they are under their authority (Heb. 12:9-10; Tit. 1:6). Honor lasts for life.

Submission in the Church (Eph. 5:24; Heb. 12:7, 17). The church, universal or local, submits to Christ as its Head. Congregationally, the church follows the will of Christ when all members are walking in the Spirit. The verses in Hebrews show that members also submit to those elected leaders whom God has placed in authority. This always must be in accordance with God’s revealed will for the church. It is not meant to be blind submission. The epistles are written to the church.

Within the church, women are not to usurp authority over the men in teaching and leadership (1 Tim. 2:11-14) . Paul specifically attributes this to Eve’s disobedience in the garden (also 2 Cor. 11:3). In the church the wife should show her stewardship of submission by a quiet and submissive demeanor (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:11; 1 Pet. 3:4). Children should also show their stewardship to Christ by their submission to parents and elders (1 Pet. 5:5; Tit. 2:3-5).

Submission in Eternity (1 Cor. 15:27-28). When all is said and done in earth’s history, all things will be subject to Christ and to God. Because Christ is the Head of all believers, we will eternally find our fulfillment when all things are finally under His feet. “Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).


Is there “Mutual Submission?”

In the most extended passage in the New Testament on marriage, Paul writes, “Submitting to one another in the fear of the God” (Eph 5:21). In the next verse he writes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22), but it is not until vs. 25 that Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Is this mutual submission? The wife obviously is to submit to her own husband, but the husband is only said to love his wife. The meaning of mutual submission became an issue especially since the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) was organized in 1988. It was from that conference that the term complementarianism was coined and supported as opposed to egalitarianism. There were other controversial issues involved, especially the role of the eternal Godhead in submission, that are not our concern here.

One finds in older writers a more free use of the term “mutual submission.” For example, H.A. Ironside, writing in 1937 on Ephesians says that Paul “is calling for mutual loyalty, mutual respect, mutual submission” (p. 278). However, the rise of feminism in Christian circles throughout the 20th century caused conservative writers to be more careful though the term was still used. As late as 2000, John MacArthur wrote, “There is to be a mutual submission among all parties, with the family as a whole submitting to the father’s leadership” (What the Bible Says About Parenting, p. 161 & 162). Yet, MacArthur is anything but an egalitarian. In 2002, Wayne Grudem (who was vitally involved in CBMW as a complementarian) wrote,

I affirm at the outset that people can mean different things by mutual submission. There is a sense of the phrase mutual submission that is different from an egalitarian view and that does not nullify the husband’s authority within marriage. If mutual submission means being considerate of one another, and caring for one another’s needs, and being thoughtful of one another, and sacrificing for one another, then of course I would agree that mutual submission is a good thing.

However, egalitarians mean something so different by this phrase, and they have used this phrase so often to nullify male authority within marriage, that I think the expression “mutual submission” only leads to confusion if we go on using it” (Biblical Foundations For Manhood and Womanhood, p. 223)

Since that time, however, A LOT of feminist, egalitarian, non-binary, LGBTQ+, social engineering water has gone under the bridge. And Grudem was right, egalitarians use this phrase to nullify any authority differences between husband and wife in marriage, church, and society. Therefore, more recent writers (including Grudem) object to the term on any biblical basis. Andreas Köstenberger, in 2010, wrote on Ephesians 5, “This runs counter to the notion of ‘mutual submission’ within the context of identity of gender roles” (God, Marriage, and Family, p. 59). Writing again with his wife, Margaret, he says, “Paul’s command for husbands and wives to submit to each other doesn’t necessarily imply identity of roles or mutual submission” (God’s Design for Man and Woman, p. 183). In 2021, Kevin DeYoung points out (as do others) that the word hupotasso (submit) is used “always with reference to a relationship where one party has authority over another” (Men and Women in the Church, p. 104). Therefore, he says, mutual submission doesn’t fit Ephesians 5.

Three things are left to be noticed about mutual submission. 1) Nowhere in the New Testament is the husband said to submit to his wife, a real problem for egalitarians. Also, in every place hupotasso (submit) is used, it is nonreciprocal, i.e., it is one-directional: Christ to the church, slaves to masters, citizens to government, angels to Christ, and wives to husbands. Love, respect, and help are reciprocal but submission is not. 2) The phrase “one to another” (allelous) in Eph. 5:21, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone to everyone. It more often means everyone to a proper authority. That is why the wife is to submit to “her own husband,” not to every husband. Headship implies that one submit to one’s proper head, whether Christ to God or the church to Christ. 3) Male headship and a complementarity between husband and wife are not a result of the fall into sin. Some try to make the case that submission in the family (or later, the church) came as a result of sin but wasn’t part of God’s original plan. Adam, however, was clearly made first with dominion while Eve was made as a “helper” for him.

Headship and submission are part of God’s plan for human beings especially within marriage. This is where marriages thrive and husbands and wives find their true joy and fulfillment in life.


GPS – The Structure of Headship

GPS – The Structure of Headship

by Rick Shrader


The subject of headship in the marriage and family immediately raises questions about equality, subordination, leadership, and love. The Bible says  plainly that headship involves the Godhead, marriage (1 Cor. 11:3) and also the church (Eph. 5:23). These three spheres of headship teach us important things that relate to husbands and wives.

God is the head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3).  God has eternally existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one divine essence but in three equal persons. Though we speak of an eternal trinity, God is a tri-unity, not a tri-theism. He has always had one will and one essence. In the incarnation however, God the Son also took upon Himself a human nature with a human will. In the kenosis (or economic trinity) then, God the Father directs and commands the Son and in that sense is the head of “Christ” the incarnate One. The Son always obeys. Though the Father loves the Son, the role of authority flows only from Father to Son and not the other way. This arrangement, of authority and submission, accomplished salvation for mankind.

Christ is the head of the church (1 Cor. 11:3). This is stated specifically in Eph. 1:22; 5:23 and Col. 1:18, but it is implied in 1 Cor. 11:3 in that He is “the head of every man.” The flow of authority among Christ and the church also flows one way. Though Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25), Christ does not submit to the church but the church to Christ. And still, as the Father eternally loves the Son in that divine headship (John 17:24-25), Christ loves His bride the church and gave Himself for her. We see in these arrangements both headship and submission as well as love with sacrifice.

The husband is the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3). Paul’s subject in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is the relationship between husband and wife. The reason for mentioning Christ being subject to God, and every man being subject to Christ, is to illustrate headship and submission for the man and the woman. This and  other passages suggest proper headship.

The husband is the head by appearance (1 Cor. 11:1-16). Head covering was a cultural way of showing the difference in gender and headship. A woman’s appearance ought to show her submission and the man’s appearance his leadership. A man ought to be recognized as a man and a woman as a woman in all the ways their culture shows it.

The husband is head by sacrifice (Eph. 5:22-33). The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. His headship over his wife is sacrificial as was Christ’s. The love of one’s wife exceeds the love of one’s self; it washes every spot and wrinkle; it leaves one home to create another.

The husband is head by creation (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Adam was formed first but Eve was deceived first (vss. 13-14). For this cause men are the teachers and preachers over the women but not the women over the men. The woman finds special fulfillment in the rearing of children, her first created responsibility (vs. 15).

The husband is head by chivalry (1 Pet. 3:7). Being the stronger gender, the husband honors the wife by his protection. She is a valuable vessel that one handles with care and knowledge.

In all these analogies we are reminded that both the man and the woman are equal in worth as image bearers and children of God. Christ died for the church where there is no male or female but where Christ is all and in all (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).


Book Review:    

Married for God

By Christopher Ash

Sometimes we find authors we like by seeing them referenced in someone else’s book. This is how I found Christopher Ash. Ash is an Englishman who resides in Cambridge, England. At the writing of this book (2016, containing 162 pages of text) he was the writer-in-residence for Tyndale House in Cambridge. I first read his larger work, Marriage: Sex in the service of God. That larger work (2003, containing 365 pages of text) defends the sacredness of marriage and places it in the purpose for which God made it. In both works but especially in this later one, Ash defends the marriage ceremony and the public vows as a covenant before God. Marriage contains a betrothal (engagement) period which, for English-speaking people, is a time for finding out compatibility. Also, it is strictly not a time for intimacy. The marriage itself contains both consent, the public vows made before God and witnesses, and consummation, the private intimacy that has been promised only for one another.

Ash also champions marriage (engagement, consent & consummation) as opposed to cohabitation before marriage which he sees as intimacy without the sacredness of covenant promise, and is therefore not marriage at all. He comments on fornication that “it covers all sexual intimacy outside of marriage, including sex before marriage, sex while living together, homosexual acts, and sex with animals.”

Ash also deals with adultery within marriage and gives several reasons why adultery is a serious sin: it is turning away from a promise; it leads the adulterer from security to chaos; it is secretive and dishonest; it destroys the adulterer; it damages society; and it hurts children.

In dealing with singleness, Ash sees this situation not so much as a “calling,” though that may be, but more commonly as the situation in which one finds himself or herself. That situation is God’s gift to you. He even says, “I know which ‘gift’ I have by a very simple test: if I am married, I have the gift of marriage; if I am not married, I have the gift of being not married.” He then says, “Half of us will end our lives with the gift of singleness because we will be widowed.” He would also say that all of us start out life with the gift of singleness when we are not yet married.


“Marriage is a Boundary, but Human Beings Rebel Against this Boundary.” From a section of the book by Christopher Ash (see book review).

“In the last half-century living together unmarried is easily the most significant way that God’s boundary has been crossed. This custom began in a small way in the 1960s among divorcees, but is now most common among young couples who have never married. Between 2006 and 2010 a large survey in the United States found that 48 percent of American women between 15 and 44 had lived together with a partner as their first sexual union, and presumably a similar proportion of men. Back in 1995 this figure had been about 34 percent, so it is rising steadily and may become the dominant practice.

“Typically these first cohabitations lasted between one and a half and three years. Around two in five led on to marriage, but many simply dissolve. In history there have been different cultural ways to enter marriage. These have included, in some cultures, what has been called ‘common-law marriage,’ in which a man and woman living together were regarded by their society as being married. But what we see now is different. Couples choose to live together in a relationship which is by definition not marriage; marriage is available to them, but they choose not to enter it.” pp. 97-98.

Another Statistic:

A 2022 Pew Research Study says, “More than half of Americans live within an hour of extended family.” Parents and grandparents have a huge influence on the younger generations connected to their family. Living near them has a real influence on them.

“Overall, 55% of U.S. adults say they live within an hour’s drive of at least some of their extended family members. Roughly equal shares of Americans say they live near all or most of their extended family (28%) or near some extended family (27%). Another 24% of adults say they live within an hour’s drive of only a few family members, while one-in-five say they do not live near any extended family members. Only 1% of Americans say they don’t have extended family at all.”  (Pew Research article, accessed 3/30/23)



GPS – The Creation of Marriage

GPS – The Creation of Marriage

by Rick Shrader


The creation account of human beings and the dominion given to Adam and Eve necessitated the creation of marriage. Human beings were made male and female to marry and reproduce and the creation order placed Adam as the protector of the family and Eve as the mother of all living. Marriage thus became the foundation for any civilized society. We may recognize four key elements to marriage.

Marriage is sacred (Gen. 2:18-22). Marriage was created by God before sin entered into His perfect creation. He designed it to be made up of a man and a woman. Adam was made first as the head and of the family and Eve was made from Adam as the perfect helper. God officiated the first wedding by bringing the new bride to Adam (2:22) and He was the official witness to the public ceremony. God commissioned the marriage, commanding the man to leave father and mother (an indication that this would be repeated continually) and take his wife with him. Jesus blessed this union saying, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:6).

Marriage is ordered (Gen. 1:26-28). The orderly make-up of the family is seen in the fact that Adam was created in God’s image as the head, husband, and father of the family and Eve was made from the man as helper, wife, and mother in that same divine image. Thereafter, children would be born in the image of God (5:3) to carry on the family responsibilities throughout human history. The adorning (differentiation) of the family members would become increasingly important as sin deteriorated the family distinctions. We see this immediately after the fall (3:21) and later in 1 Cor. 11:1-16 and 1 Pet 3:3,5.

Marriage is covenantal (Gen. 2:23-25). Marriage is proper for the entire human race. Secular society necessarily makes marriage a contract (license) but contracts are often broken. The Roman church makes marriage a sacrament but answerable to the church. God made marriage a covenant answerable to Him as witness. The Bible describes a covenant as: the wife’s covenant of her God (Prov. 2:17); the husband’s wife by covenant (Mal. 2:14); and Israel as God’s wife by covenant (Ezek. 16:8). Whether the marriage ceremony includes a license (which it should) or the blessing of a local church (which is should), it is always seen by God as a covenant that should not be broken. Marriage has two parts: a public consent made with serious vows before God and witnesses (Gen. 2:23); and a private consummation of the physical union (Gen. 2:25).

Marriage is symbolic (Eph. 5:22-33). In Paul’s longest explanation of marriage he says, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). God knew from eternity that the Son would have a bride who would be joined to Him throughout eternity. Our consent to this union is our profession of faith and our consummation will be when He takes us to the Father’s house. The celebration supper will last for a thousand years where the Groom and bride reign over the grand reception.

Kevin DeYoung said, “Ephesians 5 may be about marriage, but we can’t make sense of the underlying logic unless we note God’s intentions in creating marriage as a gospel-shaped union” (Men and Women in the Church, p. 14). A biblical marriage between a man and a woman, rightly ordered and sealed by God, is a pattern of, and a witness to, the biblical picture of the marriage of believers to Christ.

Book Reviews

Preparing Children for Marriage

by Josh Mulvihill

Mulvihill has written a lot on grandparenting and parenting.  This is a new addition to his list of subjects in that genre, and a welcome addition for young parents.  The book is divided into four parts:

  1.  Getting Started.  Start your children out very young understanding biblical principles of relationships.  Mulvihill starts this section with an introduction to SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States).  This government agency has been printing guidelines for public school education for over a decade.  Every parent should be aware of what (immorality) is being taught to their children.
  2. Marriage.  Seven chapters on what God says marriage is, and preparing even young children for the time when they will marry.  This section defines marriage as a covenant created by God.  It has seven chapters on teaching sons and daughters to prepare for a godly marriage.  It is the largest section of the book.
  3. Sex and Purity. How to use biblical verses and passages on teaching sex to your children. In this section he promotes using clear biblical language to young children about sex because, he argues, the Scripture is for everyone. “The first thing we learn about sex from the Bible is that God created it (Gen 2:24). Don’t skip over this point with your children.”
  4. Dating. The purpose for dating is marriage. Mulvihill is very specific that the only purpose for dating is the selection of a good candidate for marriage. He also is very insistent on the parent’s role in overseeing this process. “Dating should be a Christ-centered relationship between a man and a woman meant to help a couple discern marital compatibility with each other.”

Though I may not be as specific in every area, Mulvihill does a good job of encouraging parents in the importance of raising their children with the view of a biblical marriage. Past generations have had the privilege of waiting until children were older, even in the later teen years, before preparing them for sexual temptation and other cultural pitfalls. Today’s parents don’t have that luxury because of the exposure today’s teens have to an ungodly culture.


Two More States Approve Universal School Voucher Programs by Anna Merod.

In a recent survey of 3,820 parents by the “National School Choice Awareness Foundation,” 31.5% said they considered enrolling their children in public charter schools, 29.1% thought about private or religious schools, while 22.9% looked at homeschooling and 20.8% mulled over full-time virtual instruction.

Iowa and Utah in late January became the second and third states to enact universal education savings account programs, following in Arizona’s footsteps from summer 2022.

The $42.5 million Utah law paired the state’s new universal education savings account program for K-12 students with an $8,400 annual teacher salary boost. The law’s “Utah Fits All Scholarship Program” will take effect in the 2024-25 school year and provide eligible students not enrolled full time in a public school with up to $8,000 per year in scholarship funds.

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law the “Students First Act” creating an education savings account for K-12 students who want to attend private schools. Eligibility for the expected $7,598 annual scholarships per student will open up to all K-12 students in the state, regardless of income, by the 2025-26 school year. The program’s estimated cost ranges from $106.9 million in 2024 up to $344.9 million in  2026.

Copied in full from: K-12 Dive, Feb 3, 2023.

Note: “K-12 Dive provides in-depth journalism and insight into the most impactful news and trends shaping K-12 education.” (From Editorial page,

A Grandmother’s Test

I didn’t know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, “Grandma, I really think you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!”




GPS – The Dominion Mandate

GPS – The Dominion Mandate

by Rick Shrader


The Dominion Mandate was given to Adam and then jointly to Eve in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion. . .” It is repeated in 1:28, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion. . .” The Mandate is also explained in Gen. 2:5-17; restated in 9:2-3; and mentioned again in Psalm 8:6-8. Rolland McCune wrote, “This program of stewardship responsibility began with the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:26-27 and is forwarded by the progressive unfolding of God’s revelational light in succeeding dispensations” (Systematic, I, 139). The Mandate is passed on to us but with modifications. The obvious failure in successive generations is to worship and serve the creation more than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

The Garden was a big place (from Cush to the Euphrates river) and Adam needed help. “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper comparable to him” (2:18). Though the Mandate called for procreation, it first called for help. “Let them have dominion” (1:26). “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful . . . And have dominion” (1:28). This is no doubt why God made a female for Adam, “male and female He created them” (1:27). He could have made another man or a number of men. But they could not have multiplied. Why is that important? “This makes perfect sense. For if one gardener is not enough for such a great garden, nor will two be. They need to start a whole family of gardeners”  (Ash, Married for God, 36). This Mandate will go on for generations and generations are needed to fulfill it.

The responsibility at the beginning included the disobedience regarding the trees. Adam failed to protect and lead, and Eve failed to submit and follow. In spite of that, their respective jobs in the Mandate would continue. Adam’s primary job was to till the ground and Eve’s was to fill the earth. However, his would be with sweat and hers would be with pain (Gen. 3:16-19). In addition, the problem of headship and complementarity would continually plague the family, “Your desire shall be for [over] your husband, and he shall rule [harshly] over you” (3:16).

There has been an ongoing controversy over the Dominion Mandate (see the book review on the 2nd page). Many today think we must re-establish the Mosaic law (“Theonomy”) and seek to bring in the kingdom of God in all parts of culture and government (“postmillennialism”) even to the extent of overthrowing existing governments. The fact is, we cannot change the world ourselves and bring in a millennium of peace and godliness. Only Jesus Christ can do that by His glorious return to this world and the judgments and blessings that will result. In this dispensation we  still have dominion over the animals and the earth but our failure will be to worship the earth (or climate) and lower man to the level of animals.

The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” in this age (1 Tim. 3:15). Our stewardship of the Dominion Mandate is to preach the gospel to the whole world (Matt. 28:18-20) and to worship the Lord Jesus in spirit and truth (John 4:24) through the local church. It still takes families to accomplish this task, fathers and mothers who work, worship, and evangelize and children who grow up to take over this business. Satan is working hard to win the day and he will win a brief victory at the end of the age. But Jesus Christ will take His church home and then, after deposing Satan, will return and set up a kingdom dominion that cannot be removed.


Book Review:    

Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?

By H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice

The subject of Dominion Theology, Theonomy, Reconstructionism is still very popular. This (1988) book is a textbook treatment and critique of the movement made popular in the late 20th century by R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, and others. Though it appears old, it is amazingly up-to-date in its definitions, history, and theology of the movement. Dominion Theology, Theonomy, Reconstructionism (and sometimes “Christian Nationalism”) are names for a postmillennial view of history in which advocates have been trying to bring about the kingdom of God by human means. Postmillennialism is the view that Christians will convert the world and make it into the kingdom (millennium) so that Jesus Christ can return (hence, “post”) and take His rule. Reconstructionists believe that God’s Dominion Mandate requires that God’s law (the actual Mosaic, Old Testament, law) must be enacted in every nation as its constitution. They believe that all other laws, including the United States’ constitution, are fallible human laws and are therefore lawless in the eyes of God. The institution of the Mosaic law would require any nation to govern itself by every civil and moral law of the Old Testament. This would include stoning as the form of capital punishment for adultery, abortion, homosexuality, and even disobedience to parents. This would also include dietary laws and some form of voluntary slavery. Religious, or ceremonial, laws of sacrifices are usually excluded as fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice.

This book will inform the reader of the entire history of this movement, their postmillennial and often Reformed theology, their antipathy toward other views especially premillennial dispensationalism, and it will reinforce the biblical doctrines concerning a coming future kingdom and the believer’s command to look and wait for it.

Note: A version of Dominion Theology is sometimes called “Christian Nationalism” and connected with Doug Wilson of Moscow, Idaho and James Wesley Rawles and the “Redoubt” movement. Christian Nationalism is often used also to refer to a number of political movements not necessarily connected to Reconstructionism, though Wilson and Rawles are postmillennial reconstructionists.


“The U.S. population demographic growing most quickly is those over the age of sixty-five. They represent more than a quarter of the entire population, seventy-eight million in total. Approximately 7,918 people turn sixty-two each day. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of Americans over the age of sixty-five has tripled; average life expectancy has risen from forty-seven to seventy-eight years. Today, over 90 percent of Americans can expect to live past the age of sixty-five, and most of these older adults will become grandparents” (p. 52).

“One stereotype of a grandparent is someone who is physically frail and old-fashioned in thought and lifestyle. This perception is not correct. Approximately half of grandparents are under the age of sixty and are not members of the elderly population, with the medium age between fifty-three and fifty-seven. Research shows that the average grandparent becomes a grandparent at an early age, lives longer than previous generations, is healthier, is financially stable, and has a living spouse . . . Nearly one-third of grandparents experience grandparenthood ‘off time,’ younger than forty or older than sixty.” (p. 98).

Josh Mulvihill, Biblical Grandparenting (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2018)

A Biblical Picture of an Old Disciple

“There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge” (Acts 21:16).

The word translated “old” here is archaios, meaning ancient, original, primeval, a veteran. It is used in the New Testament as “them of old time” (Matt 5:21); the “old world” (2 Pet 2:5); “one of the old prophets has risen again” (Luke 9:19).

Matthew Henry commented on Mnason, “It is honorable to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, to have been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in a course of duty, steadfast in the faith, and growing more and more prudent and experienced to a good old age.  And with these old disciples one would choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years will teach wisdom”  (The Acts, p. 277).