He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Friday, April 27, 2007 

Why Indonesia Needs the Gospel

Here's an article with an accompanying video that I truly wouldn't watch unless you can stomach gore. The article will give you insight as to what's going on - Muslims slaughtering Christians in Indonesia. I post it because if you watch it, you may not take your life for granted as much for at least 6 minutes, and you may pray harder for the Gospel to spread to all peoples.

Read (& maybe watch).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 

Just Boys

Boys. That's what our pastor calls us interns. "My boys" we are affectionately referred to at times. "Remember that boys," "pay attention boys," "did you get that boys?" If you didn't know better, you may think boy is a derogatory term, but I wouldn't want it any other way. We're "his boys."

And after starting off the week having lunch with him, having class with him today & then again tomorrow, you realize how well the term fits. We're just a bunch of boys. When you get to spend time around those who absolutely love the Lord, refuse to give in to the trials of ministry after decades of faithful service, & are still growing & persevering in their walk with Christ, you realize, at just 20 something years old, you're just a boy. And that's not such a bad thing when you are blessed of God to get the chance to serve under the men of the faith who exemplify godliness & can show you how to grow from boys to men.

Monday, April 16, 2007 

Pitiful Me

A mentor of mine has this amazing radar when it comes to picking up on me beating myself up, even when I'm unaware I am doing it. Of all the things that I struggle with, surely this should be at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to addressing issues in my life.

However, underlying is the issue of self-focus. Self-focus means there's a lack of God-centeredness, Cross-centeredness, & Christ-Centeredness. When you sin or are aware of your weaknesses, and you draw attention to 'how weak you are,' 'how pathetic you are,' there is a sense in which you feel safe from pride, quite humble. However, you are actually focusing on your self to such a degree, & are so self-centered that you are acting like your weakness has greater power than Christ. This is wicked. This underlying false humility is not magnifying the grace & power of Christ but is magnifying self, in all it's disgusting, putrid, humility.

In our weaknesses & in our failings we should be like Paul who wrote, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" 2 Cor 12:9.

We should say with John Newton, "I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior." And as this mentor of mine sent me this morning in an email, we should all have this attitude found in John Wesley's journal: "After my return home [after his conversion experience, which occurred even after he'd been preaching and leading], I was much buffeted with temptations, but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. As often as they returned, I lifted up my eyes, and God sent me help from the sanctuary. And here I found the chief difference between this and my former state. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered. Now, I was always conqueror."

If we look to our performance instead of Christ in our weaknesses, how much more would we look to our performance as though it were apart from Christ in our victories & strengths. Maybe we should not expect to have victories or to gain strengths in Christ because if we in our weakness focus on self, how much more prone to focus on self would we be if He were using us for great things for His glory?

In your sin & in your greatness (which you surely understand is His greatness alone), look to Christ, the source & perfecter of our faith.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 

Doug Wilson on Birth Control

When a man and a woman come together in marriage sexually, much more should be involved than simply the procreation of children. At the same time, because our culture wants to make sexual activity almost purely recreational, Christians need to make sure we don't lose either part of the picture. The central biological purpose of sexual relations is the procreation of children, and we have to list this under the heading of "stubborn facts."

Of course, there are additional design purposes involved as well. In this way, it is comparable to food—the biological purpose of food is to nourish and strengthen the body. But God could have made food that was every bit as nutritious as food actually is, and have done so without the almost infinite range of tastes. What is the biological purpose of the taste of oranges, or watermelon, or beef gravy?

So, without losing our balance, what can we say about birth control? If the analogy above holds straight across, then is not the widespread use of contraceptives comparable to inventing and consuming calorie-free food? No, not quite. One place where the analogy breaks down is that food is necessary for individual survival. Were we to invent food that was absolutely nourishment-free, the end result would be that the eaters of it would starve to death. Fruitful sex is necessary to the survival of the human race, but it is not necessary to the survival of the individual. It is not necessary to the physical survival of a childless couple. The point of the illustration is to show how kind and liberal God is with His blessings. He layers them, stacking them on top of one another. When we discover that God has "this" purpose in something, it is wronging Him to simply assume that this is the end of the story.

Because Scripture says nothing about birth control in itself, we cannot conclude that it is a malum in se, an evil in itself. Doing so would take us well past what is written. Like everything else in this category, it would be sinful, or not, based on things like motive, context, method, and so on.

With regard to method, an obvious example would be the use of techniques that take the lives of unborn children. Abortion is considered by many to be a form of birth control, and so it is—a murderous form of birth control. In a similar way, bank robbery is "making a withdrawal from multiple accounts." But a guilty species does not become innocent by being a member of an innocent genus.

Motive and context would be defined by what Scripture says about faithful children generally. Everything else being equal, fruitfulness is a good thing. It is a blessing. So if a Christian couple have bought all the current propaganda, and they are diligently limiting themselves to 1.2 children, then they are allowing the current false assumptions of the world to dictate to them how the Bible is to be read. But if another couple know that children are a blessing, and they use birth control in order to "space" their seven children, I would be hard pressed to say that this was an example of some kind of compromise. A man can have a high view of apple trees and still not plant them a foot and a half apart in his orchard.

There is another consideration. The Bible teaches that it is not just a matter of having them. Bringing up a child involves a good twenty years or so. Having ten children means that you are dealing with a couple (overlapping) centuries of child-rearing. When this is done right, it is glorious. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. But when it is not done right, the results are correspondingly disastrous. Samuel would not have been more greatly blessed if he had had five sons taking bribes instead of two.

Looking around the secular world, there is plenty to react to. Looking around the conservative Christian world, there is plenty to react to. But we ought not to be reactionary. Children are a blessing, and if they are individually loved, nourished, read to, fed, and educated, they remain a blessing.

Scripture does not encourage us to think that wisdom and fecundity automatically go together. And at the same time, the Bible does not encourage us to seek out barrenness as though it were a blessing. It is not.

We are told that none of us should think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3). Before you build the tower, you ought to do some contingency planning (Luke 14:28). Sit down and count the cost. What are your likely financial boundaries? What is your health like? How old will you be when the youngest graduates from high school? Will you short-change your oldest daughters in their education by pressing them into service taking care of their younger siblings? Given how hard you will have to work to feed them all, will you have any time and energy left over to love them? Remember that children don't just need quality time; they need quantity time. What will the tuition payments to the Christian school be when all of them are enrolled? Are you equipped to homeschool so many children at so many different levels, or will things quickly deteriorate as they are left to instruct themselves or each other?

This is susceptible to misunderstandings, I know. But having answered all the questions above (and others like them) as honestly as you can, knowing what you can do, I would encourage you to have all the children you can.

But that can is much more than biological.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 

The Hope We Have

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death (came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, the people of Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 27 For He has put everything under His feet. But when it says "everything" is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. 28 And when everything is subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.

I Corinthians 15:20-28

Friday, April 06, 2007 

Good, yet costly, Friday

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Luke 23:32-49

Thursday, April 05, 2007 

Moses Died Today

Today is a sad day for me. Moses died. Well, he's been dead, but in my Bible reading today, after following him through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & now Deuteronomy, Moses is gone. What a man he was though. He died with "his eye undimmed, and his vigor unabated" (Deut 34:7) - at 120 years old. I want to die with my vigor unabated.

Moses gives me hope. Reluctant to speak or lead. A murderer. Prone to a temper or a pity-party at times. And yet the Lord knew him face to face. Moses was a shepherd of God's chosen people. How many times I read of him in anguish casting himself before the Lord on behalf of mercy or pardon for his stubborn flock. He is ever communing with God. He almost always is immediately obedient to YHWH. When he wasn't, it cost him. Persistent, persevering, prayeful, powerful - that's Moses - I pray to be a tenth of the man of God he was.

As I am in the 3rd NT Gospel this year, I begin to see why I have fallen in love with Moses. His life was a shadow of the Christ to come. No one is quoted more in the NT from the OT than Moses. Moses escapes the sword of Pharaoh like Jesus escapes the sword of Herod at birth. Moses is with Jesus at the Transfiguration in all 3 Gospel accounts of the story. Moses was given manna to give his people whereas later, God provided the manna, the "Bread of Life," Jesus, to feed His people forever. Moses lifted up the serpent for the Israelites to look on & be healed, Jesus lifted Himself up in His death & resurrection for people to look to and be healed/redeemed. When Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness every rebuke to the devil given by Christ came from the book of Deuteronomy, believed to be authored by Moses.

Moses died today. Thank God that God sent Christ, or even a "good man" like Moses would be justly in his sin and suffering the wrath of God. Moses died, but he didn't raise from the dead. Thank God Christ died and rose, something the greatest of the prophets could not, so that we could have peace with God and glorify Him. Remember!

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