Welcome back for the fourth and final part of my interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem. Read part one here, part two here, and part three here.
Dr. Grudem, where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
Honestly, I don’t often become discouraged. I continue to see evidence of God’s work in my life and the lives of those around me, and I am simply overwhelmed with thankfulness to him.
Are there events in the church that bring me sadness? Yes. I am disappointed when I see churches and organizations gradually adopt an egalitarian position, because I think it will lead them step by step toward liberalism, and because egalitarianism is not a position that God will bless.
As far as my own writings, I am disappointed when I read books and articles that simply misrepresent me or use incorrect arguments to criticize what I have published on some topic or other. But when such things happen, I also remember other times in the past when a scholar has published something criticizing my position on something, and God used that to prompt me to write a response and refine my position, taking account of criticisms and making my position more accurate.
So then I think, “OK, Lord, I didn’t want to work on this question any more but apparently you want me to go back and spend more time on it.” The tension comes when you realize that you have a finite amount of time in life and have to make choices about what to do, and you already have deadlines you are trying to meet.
Then I try to put my trust in God and ask him to guide me to know what I need to spend time on and what I should leave to others to do. Romans 8:28 is still true, and always will be true: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
One event that still puzzles me concerns my book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (2004). I had been involved in the controversies over biblical manhood and womanhood for over 20 years at that point, and during that time I had compiled a list of 118 objections that egalitarians (evangelical feminists) had made to the biblical teachings on men’s and women’s roles in marriage and the church. I then researched and wrote detailed answers to those objections, and added a number of appendices that could not easily be found anywhere else, key documents on the controversy over men’s and women’s roles. Many evangelical leaders gave strong endorsements to the book.
I had hoped the book would provide a final answer to the manhood/womanhood controversy in the evangelical world, but instead I don’t think it had much impact or visibility, due to some mistakes that were made so that it was not sent out for review to influential journals, and I didn’t find this out until over a year later, when it was too late for reviews. I believe that God is still sovereign, and in his wise providence he will yet use this for good, but I don’t understand it at this point. I leave it in the Lord’s hands.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not?
I exercise on average about four days a week. I run in my neighborhood two or three days a week and lift weights two days a week. Usually I run for 25 minutes, but sometimes if have a bit more time and I’m feeling good I’ll run for 40 minutes.
Arizona has such great weather that it’s possible to run outdoors in your own neighborhood year-round. And I drive to a gym about five minutes from my house and lift weights following the general outlines of a program in the book Body for Life by Bill Phillips. A good friend who is a doctor told me that as I age I will continually lose muscle mass and be prone to injuries and weight gain unless I lift weights in addition to aerobic exercises.
My motivation in exercising is (1) I feel better and (2) I want to stay healthy to be able to serve the Lord effectively as long as I can in this life.
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
I golf from time to time and enjoy it. I used to enjoy racquetball quite a bit but there’s no easy place to play near my home and I haven’t played regularly for a number of years.
I don’t really watch sports on TV, but when my sons come to visit, I enjoy going to a spring-training baseball game with them here in the Phoenix area. And now that the Arizona Cardinals are in the NFC championship I’ll probably watch that game this weekend.
What do you do for leisure?
Margaret and I like to travel and we sometimes add an extra day or two to the beginning or end of a conference when I go out of town to speak. We love to wander through different cities! I also enjoy doing small (unskilled!) work in the yard or in fixing a few things that need repairs around the house.
I read spy novels to relax (see question above). Margaret and I enjoy watching movies together or going out to dinner either alone or with friends. And a highlight of each month is when we get together with two other faculty couples to play cards (we play a great game called “Cancellation Hearts,” using two decks of cards).
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
No question, I would have become a lawyer and gone into politics. (I’m writing a book now on Christians and politics, discussing Christian worldview issues from the Bible, and how they impact over 40 specific political issues.)
Thank you, Dr. Grudem, for satisfying my curiosity on these questions!
Over the years many pastors, leaders, and authors who have influenced my life have also become my friends. I marvel at and am humbled by this fact. And while I am always eager to promote these men and draw attention to their writings and teachings, too often these friends are known primarily for their public ministry.
I know from personal experience that these men have much to teach us from their private lives. So on this blog I want to occasionally interview these men, ask them questions to draw out their personal example, and introduce you to a private side of them you possibly have not seen.
Here we go.
Meet Wayne Grudem. Dr. Grudem is smart—B.A. from Harvard, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Cambridge, smart.
Dr. Grudem is the author of a number of excellent books including Systematic Theology and a simplified systematic theology for guys like me (Bible Doctrine).
He is the cofounder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and coeditor (with John Piper) of one of the most important books I know of: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Dr. Grudem is now the Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years.
But you may already know all this.
So who is Wayne Grudem? What does he read for fun? What discourages him? How does he structure his devotional time? What correction from others has most benefited him? What career path would he have chosen if not ministry?
Dr. Grudem was kind enough to entertain my curiosity. I divided the interview to run over the next four days (Tuesday–Friday).
Thanks for your time, Dr. Grudem! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
I usually wake up about 6:00 a.m., but sometimes as late as 7:00 or 7:30 (if I’ve been up late the night before—I need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep or I don’t think as clearly). I get a cup of tea and one of Margaret’s excellent high-protein muffins and open my Bible.
I simply read sequentially through the Bible and then start over at the beginning (I’m currently in 1 Corinthians and Psalms, reading two portions each morning). I will read the Bible for 15 or 20 minutes, underlining some verse, or making some very brief notes. Many times I will wonder about something in the Greek or Hebrew text and check it briefly, but I don’t get involved in extensive exegesis because that is not my purpose at that time. I’m looking for God to teach me directly from his Word, with application to my life.
Usually I just “camp” on a phrase or verse, sometimes writing it out and pondering application to my own life. I also keep a blank notepad beside me because God often brings to my mind things that I need to do and I make a quick note.
Then I will usually pause for five or ten minutes just waiting in the Lord’s presence and thinking about the verse or talking to him about it. After that, I pick up a notebook with different pages for people and things that I am praying for—some pages about various things in my own life, then my wife Margaret, then our children and their families, then my parents and other members of my extended family, and then other friends and people in different organizations such as our church or Phoenix Seminary where I teach.
There’s also a section having to do with our government and concerns of our nation and world. That will take 15 or 20 minutes, and sometimes longer, so the total time may be between 30 and 60 minutes.
At the end of the time I will usually bring before the Lord my “to do” list, and pray about various items on the list, asking the Lord to help me know what to make a top priority today, and asking his blessing on the things that I plan to do. Often at the end I also have another time of maybe two or three minutes or maybe five or ten minutes just resting in the Lord’s presence and waiting on him.
I find in those times of quietness, when I’m not praying about anything in particular but simply resting in the Lord’s presence, that he will bring to mind solutions for problems, or people I need to contact, or things I need to write, or things I should not spend time doing, or any of a number of other things. I also find that over the course of the entire Bible reading and prayer time a deeper sense of peace and rest in the Lord’s presence comes on my heart.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
For my soul: Only the Bible at the present time, no other Christian books. But I recently finished your book Worldliness and was challenged and rebuked by it!
For pastoral ministry: I’m not in pastoral ministry, but for professional ministry I’m just finishing Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. This is an attempt (unpersuasive I think) to show that geography and local types of plants and animals determined why some nations became rich and some did not. It’s all materialistic determinism and, in the end, terribly dehumanizing because it gives no importance to the real factors, human choices and human cultural values, and whether those choices and values were obedient to the truths established by the one true God.
For personal enjoyment: I just finished a new Vince Flynn novel, Extreme Measures. I think I have read all of his books and I enjoyed them a lot (the terrorists are the bad guys and the Americans are the good guys, and the Americans win in the end). But I liked this last one the least because it was so inconclusive at the end. I’ve also enjoyed a number of spy novels by Daniel Silva within the last year (the hero is an Israeli Mossad agent). These are “escape” novels that give my brain a change of pace.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
Probably The Hidden Life of Prayer by David MacIntyre, because it encourages my faith to read of Christians in the past who have had such a significant effect on advancing God’s kingdom through their ministries of prayer.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
I underline and write notes in the margin as I go through the book and often write some key thoughts or summary points on the title page as well. Then I shelve it in the right place in my home library!
Join me tomorrow for the second part of my interview with Dr. Grudem.
Last week 9Marks released their new eJournal (July/August 2008), containing a number of resources on marriage, helpful for pastors and for all married couples.
The eJournal includes a chart of 30 books on marriage, manhood, and womanhood all ranked and compared on issues of theology, practicality, suitability for group and individual study, and topical value on the issues of communication, romance, and money.
Sovereign-Grace-related authors ranked well in the comparison chart. Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal
(Crossway, 2004), C.J.’s book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God
(Multnomah, 2004), Gary and Betsy Ricucci’s Love That Lasts
(Crossway, 2006), and Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say “I Do”
(Shepherd, 2007) all received favorable reviews. You can view the full chart here
The eJournal includes an article by C.J. titled “The Gospel & Deliberate Complementarian Pastors
.” In the article, C.J. writes:
Biblical manhood and womanhood is the life-transforming effect of the gospel on full display. When a church teaches, practices, and honors gender distinctions determined by our good and wise God, the gospel will advance. But this will only happen where there are humble and courageous pastors who lead every member and ministry of the church by personal example and with strategic pastoring.
Access a table of contents to the entire eJournal here
or download the eJournal as a single PDF document by clicking here
Summer is fast approaching and that means the kids will be out of school, and families will be loading into the minivan and merging into the 230 million annual summer vacations celebrated in this country. In light of the season, C.J. recently posted a series to encourage fathers and husbands to begin preparing their schedules—and their hearts—to lead their families in a “God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.”
Here is an index to the three-part series:
Leadership + Family Vacations (part 1)
Leadership + Family Vacations (part 2)
Leadership + Family Vacations (part 3)
And perhaps the easiest way to read this series is to download it in one printable PDF file (download by clicking here
In part three of this series, C.J. continues explaining seven lessons he’s learned in leading his family on vacation. See the first part here and the second part here.
6. Intentionally Together
Family vacations are FAMILY vacations! Ultimately family vacations are about being together as a family, deepening our relationships with each other, conversing together, laughing together and encouraging each other. It’s about telling the same stories (embellished still more) and laughing even harder than the last time.
It’s about being together as a family. What a family does together is much more important than where a family goes together. It’s possible to invest some serious coin in a family vacation and not experience the deepening of relationships as a family. And it’s possible to have a low-budget vacation that is truly wealthy in what matters, developing close relationships as a family, and creating memories that make a difference, all for the glory of God.
So the purpose of a vacation transcends the location and transcends an individual child or the personal preference of a family member. A wise father prepares his children for a FAMILY vacation, and he adjusts everyone’s expectations accordingly prior to the vacation and monitors those expectations during the vacation. This protects the vacation from merely becoming a context where each member of the family is selfishly pursuing their preference apart from consideration for the family. Remember, it’s a FAMILY vacation, intended to build the family together and deepen the relationships between family members.
7. Gratefulness to God
Most importantly, fathers should use their vacations as an opportunity to express gratefulness to God. Family vacations are only possible because of the kindness and generosity of God.
Vacations are a gift from God. I want my family to perceive God’s kindness and generosity each day, and I want them to express their gratefulness to God each day. But in order for this to take place we need discerning hearts and eyes. So at the outset of a vacation I equip my family with theologically informed discernment, because it’s possible for us to be blessed by God but not perceptive of God or grateful to God. Fathers, it is our privilege and responsibility to model gratefulness to God for our family during vacations.
Last year at the beginning of our vacation, I read the following quote by C.S. Lewis to my family and took a few minutes to prepare them for our vacation and the appropriate response to God each day during our vacation. Lewis writes,
Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility … I have tried to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different … Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations [I had to look this word up!] are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun … If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour.*
I love this quote. It’s perfect for vacations. The content of this quote will give you new eyes, so you and your family can discern the kindness and generosity of God during your vacation. The content of this quote will inspire you to appropriately and specifically express your gratefulness to God for the many gifts you receive from him on your vacation.
But don’t stop with gratefulness. Notice how Lewis distinguishes between thankfulness and adoration. I not only want my children to be grateful to God (“How good of God to give me this”), but ultimately I want them to be amazed by this God, amazed by “the quality of that Being” who has provided all these gifts, and adore him.
I informed my family of all we had planned for our vacation and informed them that we not only wanted to give thanks to God for each of these gifts, but to ponder the God who thought up and created these activities, and realize what this reveals about God so that we can appropriately adore him. So let your vacation be filled with the sounds of gratefulness but also moments of appropriate adoration. Let us realize what everything we experience reveals about God himself! You can apply this to each and every moment and activity on your vacation regardless of where you go or what you do. This quote and the content of this quote became the theme for our entire vacation last year. I pray it serves you similarly this year.
Fathers, I hope some of the lessons I have learned over the years and the mistakes I’ve made and sins I’ve committed on vacation somehow serve you and make a difference in your vacation experience. Before you this summer is a sweet opportunity from God to deepen relationships between family members and create memories that your children will never forget, memories that will outlive you.
You can rest when you get home.
* C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1963), 89–90. Quoted in John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God (Crossway, 2004), 18.
In part two of this series, C.J. continues explaining seven lessons he’s learned in leading his family on vacation. See the first part here.
3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin
Don’t forget about indwelling sin. Though you are going on vacation, you would be wise to remember that sin never does. Merely altering one’s geography doesn’t subdue or silence sin. We are deceived if we think that a mere change in location or finding an idyllic setting will somehow suspend the active nature of sin. Actually sin can be quite active on a vacation, intent on ruining it. If the husband is not prepared for sin and temptation, he and his family will be more vulnerable to sin and temptation.
A wise husband begins by anticipating how and where he will be tempted by sin on vacation. Ponder in advance your existing sin patterns and potential temptations on this vacation, and prepare in advance for those temptations.
And by all means include your wife in this process prior to vacation, and ask for her observations and correction on the vacation. Countless times on vacation Carolyn has protected me from sin with her counsel, correction, and encouragement. Gentlemen, it’s not whether you will be tempted to sin on vacation, it’s how and when you will be tempted to sin. Prepare now for that moment so that by God’s grace you will not be deceived by temptation and sin.
And prepare your children for their unique temptations. Review with your children the temptation and tendency to be selfish or complain with specific instructions of how and when this could take place. Prepare them with appropriate passages from Scripture for their conflict with sin. And most important, prepare them for opportunities to serve and express gratefulness (particularly to mom) throughout the vacation. Make sure they understand that we are not taking a vacation from the joyful cultivation of godliness.
4. Studying Your Family
Determine in advance how to most effectively serve your family on vacation. Personally, my idea of a great vacation is nonstop activity. I love doing stuff. I don’t view resting or the cessation of activity as restful or refreshing. Nope. I want to be attacking life each day and doing something every moment of each day of vacation. That’s what I want to do on vacation. But I’ve learned that this approach to life and vacations is not shared by my wife and daughters (although I am glad to say it is by my son!).
Years ago our vacations were characterized by careful planning and maximum activity each day. Wherever we were there was stuff to do and we were going to do it all! And I expected my family would love it all and enjoy it all and at the end of each day they would effusively express their gratefulness and acknowledge that no one presently on earth or ever in history planned and led more effective vacations than I did. But it didn’t work out that way.
Though it has been a number of years, I vividly remember one particular vacation when my wife wisely approached me asking if it would be possible to rest at some point during the vacation. Though I was perplexed why anyone would want to rest on vacation, I listened, and by God’s grace learned how to more effectively serve my family on vacation. I realized that my planning for our vacation was largely informed by my preferences, not the preferences of my wife and children. That conversation with Carolyn has made a difference in my vacation planning.
And since that conversation, it has been my practice to meet with my family prior to vacation and find out from each of them what they would like to do on our vacation so I can create a context for the fulfillment of all they desire if at all possible. And so, we don’t do as much as we once did on vacation, but I’m happy to report, I am more effectively serving my family on vacation.
Now, your family is no doubt different than my family. Maybe your family loves filling each day with as much activity as possible. And maybe your idea of a vacation involves as little movement as possible each day. If so, perhaps the most effective way you can serve your family is doing as much stuff as possible each day. If you’re lacking ideas, give me a call; I’ve got plenty of them that I haven’t been able to use.
How can you most effectively serve your family on vacation? Well, in order to answer this question you must study your family and interview your family. Find out what they would like to do and if possible make it happen, even if it involves just resting and relaxing.
5. Skillful Surprises
Let there be surprises during each vacation! Create a tradition of surprising your family.
Personally, I love to surprise my family (I’m sure you do too). And I try to do this throughout the year. But I want this to be a part of each family vacation as well. Effective surprises begin with studying each member of your family to discover what a meaningful and memorable surprise would involve. But trust me, each member of your family loves to be surprised.
Now, I could provide you with a list of ways I have surprised members of my family over the years, but I don’t think that would serve you. It wouldn’t serve you because most likely the members of my family are different from the members of your family. You see, effective surprising is a skill. It is a developed skill rooted in the discerning study of a family member. You must study them and discern their passions and gifts, their preferences and joys in order to effectively create and craft a surprise for them.
And what a joy it is to surprise them! Actually the most important effect of surprising our family is not the surprise itself but the communication of our deep affection for them through the surprise. Long after the surprise has taken place or the gift has outlived its usefulness, the expression of affection and the memory of the moment remains. Think carefully and plan purposefully whom you can surprise.
So how can you surprise your family and communicate your deep affection on your summer vacation?
[To be continued …]
You’ve probably seen the Walt Disney World brochure, the one where the family is capped with Mickey Mouse ears, standing for a photo op with the Cinderella Castle rising in the background skyline and exploding fireworks raining down to celebrate the conclusion of a fun-filled day. Huge smiles are present on each face. But if you’ve ever been to Disney you know that this family can be hard to find. Many of the families at Disney appear quite different than what you see on the brochure.
What does your family look like on vacation?
What a family looks like—what a family experiences on a vacation—is largely determined by the father’s attitude and leadership prior to and during the vacation.
Some fathers charge into a vacation at a place like Disney World committed to visiting every venue, seeing every show, and experiencing every ride. Every moment and detail has been planned with military precision as the father leads his wife and children on the long-awaited mission. But by noon the first day, the family has spent most of the morning standing in long lines growing more sunburned by the minute. The children are tired, cranky, and hungry. And the father has been passing his time while standing in line reflecting on the serious chunk of his salary he invested in this forgettable experience. And he is not smiling.
Other fathers choose less trendy vacation spots. This is no Disney dad. No way! This father takes his family to the lake or the beach. There are no lines here. Here the days will pass slowly and predictably. And if he’s not careful and purposeful, this father can wrongly assume that location alone guarantees a wonderful and memorable vacation. It’s possible for this father to view the family vacation as a peaceful and beautiful context where he can primarily rest and relax with little required of him. His wife and children desire his leadership during this time but rarely experience it. And they are not smiling.
Here’s what I’ve learned. The difference between forgettable vacations and unforgettable vacations is not the location or attractions. Nope. The difference between forgettable and unforgettable vacations is the father’s attitude and leadership. This makes all the difference.
Family vacations provide a unique opportunity each year for fathers to create memories their children will never forget. Memories that will last a lifetime. Memories that will be recreated by your children with your grandchildren. Memories that will outlive a father. But in order to create these memories, a father must be diligent to serve and lead during a vacation. How a father views his role on a vacation will make all the difference in the vacation.
So in this season where family vacations are being carefully planned and eagerly anticipated, I thought it might be helpful if I passed along seven lessons I’ve learned over the years, in hopes that your family vacation will be a God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.
1. A Servant Heart
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude
3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin
4. Studying Your Family
5. Skillful Surprises
6. Intentionally Together
7. Gratefulness to God
On to the first lesson.
1. A Servant Heart
Husbands are called by God to serve and lead. But we are all vulnerable to viewing the family vacation as a well-earned time away from work where we can rest and relax! But this attitude and approach to a vacation normally reveals a self-centeredness that does not please God or serve our families. Actually, God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making vacations are not supposed to be a vacation for the father. Instead of simply resting and relaxing the father has the privilege of serving, leading, planning, initiating and working.
And you will know you are serving and leading effectively on your vacation when you fall into bed at night more exhausted than at the end of the most grueling day of work. The father must enter family vacations committed to serve, lead, plan, initiate, and work, and do all this with joy. This isn’t your time to rest. Only your wife deserves to rest on vacation (because no one works harder than she does the rest of the year).
But for the husband, vacations are a unique opportunity to serve and lead and work harder in some ways than he does during the normal work week. But this kind of work is a pure joy like no other work.
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude
The father’s attitude is the difference maker between a forgettable and unforgettable vacation. The attitude of the father transcends the vacation location each and every time. And on vacation your children are carefully studying and monitoring your attitude. The father’s attitude is the tone setter, and a father who lacks joy and gratefulness will infect the entire vacation. No vacation spots in all the AAA literature will compensate for the sinful attitude of the father in coloring the entire vacation.
Children may be temporarily distracted by the venue, but ultimately the memory of that vacation will be associated with the father’s joy, gratefulness, generosity, and service, or with his irritation, frustration, and anger.
And there is no vacation from the gospel. No successful family vacation is possible without the gospel and being reminded of its implications. Our joy, gratefulness, generosity, and service are all informed and inspired by the gospel.
Vacations provide unhurried periods of time where in the shadow of the cross a husband/father realizes afresh that he is doing much better than he deserves. Instead of wrath and hell God has been merciful and kind, pouring out his wrath on his Son so that sinners like you and me could experience forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation, and adoption.
And because of the cross, evidences of grace abound in our lives, beginning in our families. We should be specifically grateful to God for each member of our family and express this gratefulness to them. Vacations are opportunities to discern and celebrate these unique gifts from God that we don’t deserve.
No one should be happier on vacation than we are. During our vacation our children should repeatedly observe us smiling and laughing, and throughout the vacation they should be the objects of our affection and appreciation.
Your attitude on family vacation will be changed when you perceive the graciousness of God that surrounds you in the form of your family.
[To be continued …]
February 5, 2008 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Biblical manhood | Sports
In the midst of the Super Bowl hype you may have missed an example of masculinity.
Last Thursday, after the Washington Capitals defeated Montreal 5-4, Alexander Ovechkin was quoted (in broken English) saying, “Today was special day. I broke my nose, I have stitches, I score four goals.”