Russell and Duenes

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Courage: The Need of the Hour

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [the other nations], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Dt. 31:6).

Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. (1 Chron. 22:13).

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13).

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6).

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. (Ps. 3:6).

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1).

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

I read somewhere yesterday that, in these times, the virtue Christians most need to cultivate is courage. I have an old friend who used to pray routinely for courage and humility. This prayer is more urgent now that Christians in the West are coming to be viewed as the “troublers” of civilization.

Courage will not mean an arrogant boisterousness in the face of those who oppose God’s gospel. But it most certainly will mean standing firm on the truth God has revealed. It will mean affirming and suffering for God’s sovereignty and lordship in absolutely every arena of life. It will mean affirming, in public ways, that God defines reality and has not left the defining of it open to us in any part of life. God created us “male and female” and we must courageously affirm that sinful human beings do not have the power or authority to try and define sexual reality for themselves. God invented marriage and He decides what it is and isn’t. He has determined the nature and purpose of sex and sexuality. We must stand with Peter and John when they said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you be the judge.” (Acts 4:19).

God is the one who says that people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language matter to him, both the born and the unborn. God defines justice and with Him there is no favoritism.

As Os Guinness has said, there is no god but God, and so we must courageously obey Him in all things. His Word must be our constant standard of truth and reality. It will take courage to affirm the Bible’s truths, to defend its precepts, to proclaim its very words, to avoid softening or bastardizing its language and teaching, and to demonstrate its beauty with our lives.

We will not do this in our own power. Yet it is sobering, and indeed terrifying, to remember what God says: “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8).




Written by Michael Duenes

July 23, 2016 at 11:51 am

Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth

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The Preacher says: “[R]ejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Prov. 5:18b). Husbands, this is a command, and as such, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be joyfully obeyed.

I have officiated at numerous weddings, and at my most recent one, I told the bride and groom, in effect, that their frail and fleeting human love does not give rise to the marital promises. It’s the promises, in the power of Christ, that allow the love to grow and flourish. This is something the world rarely, if ever, acknowledges. We are told that when the love is gone, the relationship is as good as dead. But it’s the commitment, the promises, that give rise to the love, and that allow it to grow even in the midst of struggles, conflict, losses, and suffering, which will inevitably come.

So God would have us “rejoice in the wife of our youth,” whether we have a storm of emotions about it or not. We must set ourselves to do it. I say “must,” but God’s commands are never a drudgery. We have the privilege of such rejoicing, and in my experience, when we decide that we will indeed rejoice in our wives, the wonderful fruit of joy, warmth, attraction, intimacy, longing, pursuit, sacrifice and service burgeon in our hearts and lives.

Husbands, I commend this to you. It is the way to happiness and contentment in your marriage. It is not fake or disingenuous. To obey God is always the path of goodness and satisfaction. Further, it is something you can do no matter what the state of your marriage. You can obey now, today, and find that what God commands he also enables his children to do, as Augustine said.

If you set yourself to “rejoice in the wife of your youth,” you will find that you are, in fact, “rejoicing” in her, which means taking joy in her, finding delight in her, seeing the good things in her, longing to do her good and contributing to a greater foundation and possibility for romance and intimacy.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Duenes, Marriage

Live with Your Wives According to Knowledge

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The apostle Peter tells husbands to “live together with your wives according to knowledge.” St. Paul commands husbands to love their wives by laying down their lives for them in the way that Christ laid down His life for the Church. Jesus says that husbands (and everyone else) must “deny themselves and take up their crosses.”

Christian husbands are often exhorted to study their wives, and this is good and right. How else can we live with them “according to knowledge” if we do not seek to know them? Yet we husbands might search our own hearts and see how much we truly seek to have knowledge and understanding of our wives. For if we come to a greater understanding of them, we might have to love them in ways that are inconvenient, or even quite difficult for us personally. We may discover that our wives are honored and helped by things that we, in our prior ignorance, didn’t know they needed; or that we would love them more faithfully by ceasing certain relational patterns and habits to which we have grown accustomed.

When the realization comes to us that living with our wives according to knowledge means greater self-denial and dependence on Christ than we had ever assumed, we will need God’s grace God in every increasing measure. And I hope we can say, without glib superficiality, that Christ stands ready to give such grace.

God is indeed “the strength of our hearts and our portion forever” (Ps. 73:26), and he will sustain husbands who cast their burdens upon Him. (Ps. 55:22). The burdens, frustrations, difficulties and pains may not go away, but we can know Christ more deeply because of them. And hopefully, we can further the holiness and happiness of our wives, and ultimately ourselves. “He who loves his wife, loves himself.” (Eph. 5:28).


Written by Michael Duenes

September 26, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Do Your Job or Go to Jail

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That’s the import of Federal District Judge, David Bunning’s decision to send Rowan County clerk, Kim Davis, to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

And please don’t tell me that, “No, she went to jail for contempt of court.” That’s a non-starter. As Constitutional attorney David French rightly states, “There were many options short of imprisonment for Davis, . . . but the court was apparently in no mood for moderation.” Davis is in jail because she refused to do her job and refused to resign, which is a chilling reality.

Also, don’t facilely quote Romans 13. Does anyone imagine every German Christian in the 1930s should have simply obeyed all of the Nazi laws, well, because Romans 13? The Nazi laws were “the law” after all, and Romans 13 says that “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” Thus, no resistance to the Nazis was allowed. No resistance to Jim Crow laws was allowed in this country either. Other examples could be adduced, so I think we must do better.

Most of the Christian opinion I’ve heard has argued that she should have resigned. Perhaps so, but I agree much more wholeheartedly with Douglas Wilson:

The end game here is not armed revolution. The end game is simply a refusal to cooperate with their revolution. Make them fire or impeach faithful officials. Once removed, such faithful officials should run for office again with a promise to continue to defy all forms of unrighteous despotism. As one friend of mine put it, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” Some might ask what the good in that would be. Wouldn’t it just result in no Christians in such positions? Perhaps, but it would be far better to have godless results enforced by the godless than to insist that the godly do it for them. It would be far better to have the “no Christians in power results” when it was actually the case that no Christians were in power. I would rather have non-Christian clerks acting like non-Christian clerks than to have Christian clerks do it for them. I mean, right?

Or as the Apostle Peter said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge.” Jesus does not cease to be Lord simply because one works for the government. If resignation from government work is the only way to submit to Christ’s lordship when we are asked by that same government to deny His lordship, then surely there should be a whole lot more resignations being handed in.


Written by Michael Duenes

September 3, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Husbands and Wives With Little Children: Read Aloud to Each Other

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jeffersonbookAs I am sure is the case with most parents who have young children, when once my wife and I have gotten our children down for the night and finished tidying up the house each evening, we are generally very tired, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. So it was easy for us to justify “vegging out” in front of the TV for awhile before going to bed. We had gotten into the habit of this (and still, the habit is very hard to break. It’s an easy, downhill coast to the TV remote).

But we were talking about our children’s education the other night, and were reading a little tidbit out of a book called “A Thomas Jefferson Education.” This book suggests that parents who want a true education for their children must also educate themselves for the task, and they will educate themselves, at least in part, by reading the classics themselves. Yet this is a difficult challenge. Who has time or energy for it? Then we thought, “Well, we probably do. Nothing dictates that we simply must watch TV at night. Why don’t we just start in with some of these books by reading them aloud to each other, even if for only 15 or so minutes a day?”

We have not started a “classic” yet, as we were already reading another book on raising boys, but we’ve been very excited about the idea. So right now I am reading “Future Men,” by Douglas Wilson, aloud to my wife, and it is provoking some good discussion. And truth be told, we are not too tired to do it. The “vegging out” thing is not necessary.

Just thought I’d put this out there as an encouragement to other parents of young children (or husbands and wives of no children, as the case may be). It’s exciting to think about what we might still learn – and pass on to our children – and how our souls might still be enriched educationally, even at this post-schooling stage of our lives.


Written by Michael Duenes

May 22, 2015 at 4:49 am