Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When Pursuits Come in a 3 Piece Fashion

Thursday afternoon I picked up a copy of Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness. I have never read the book, and having recently acquired a copy, I intend do so in the near future. Many have commented on its effectiveness to spur within them a desire for greater holiness and dedication to the Lord. Many others have given testimony that this little book so utterly convicted them of the presence of their own sin that they could not but help cry with the multitudes of Heaven, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8). Indeed, when we truly come into a mere glimpse of God’s holiness we will see our sinfulness laid bare against this backdrop and cause us to recognize our intense need for a Savior. There are not many books that are able to call for such an accolade. For many, Bridges’ book has done so.

Just inside the front cover I find this recommendation from RC Sproul:

”When Jerry Bridges speaks, I listen. His teaching on holiness is not an exercise in abstraction; it is an expression f a passion that has gripped his life and ministry.”
These are pretty strong words coming from Dr. Sproul. When he speaks, I tend to listen; therefore, I probably ought to read this book!

And then I read the next recommendation. Not that this will deter me from reading the book, in fact, it will probably encourage me to read it sooner as a strange twist of events, but it brought sadness to my heart nonetheless. The recommendation reads,
”Jerry Bridges gives timelss insight into a timeless problem: in our own pursuit of holiness, it’s easy to end up in the ditch of legalism on one side of the road or lethargy on the other. The Pursuit of Holiness has helped so many believer navigate the tricky but vitally important road to personal holiness. This book should be on every Christian leader’s shelf.”
And then my heart was grieved as I read the endorser’s name: “Ted Haggard, president, National Association of Evangelicals.”

Oh how great is the fall when we fall from greatness! I found myself struggling to understand how a man so seemingly committed to personal holiness could write such a powerful recommendation for a book on the subject only to later fall into temptation with an extramarital affair. I need not ponder to long in order to determine the answer: pride will tell you “it won’t happen to me” for it “goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr 16:18). I need not ponder too much longer before I recognize – it could happen to me. And then, if I’m really honest with myself – it WILL happen to me IF I take my focus from the cross of Jesus Christ and place my trust in my own person and in my own works. Am I capable of cheating on my wife and ruining our marriage forever? Absolutely! Do I desire to find out if our marriage is strong enough to recover? Absolutely not.

I picked up Pursuit Thursday.

Friday morning I received a call from my wife asking me to pick up a copy of the morning paper. Again, my heart was sick and I was grieved all over. On the front page of the newspaper I found that Rick Ousely, a prominent Christian leader in our community had succumbed to temptation that led to an extramarital affair spanning twenty-five years. This gentleman has been used by God in tremendous ways throughout his life of ministry. It would not be accurate to begin to question his salvation, or the legitimacy of the ministry that he led. The first Lord ’s Supper that my wife and I shared together was Christmas Eve 2004. This pastor administered the Table and I assure that our participation in the ordinance was not marginalized in any way on our parts. I can not speak for the condition of his heart that day, or even this day, for I do not know him personally.

This then brings me to an inquisitive position. What happens when a Christian leader falls? Surely, we can not possibly measure the effect that this is having on his wife and children. We need not lose sight that these are real people who are being drug through this by no choice of their own. Children of pastors have it difficult anyway - living in a glass house as it were. Add this pressure on top of them, and I can only imagine what this has amounted to. But what else accounts for the aftermath of the fallout? What is the Christian’s responsibility in the community for this fallen gospel minister? How am I to respond and how does the non-believing community respond? I would like to probe this further, more for my benefit than yours, but you are welcome to accompany me on the journey. What follows will be in list form but in no certain order or priority whatsoever.

1. The marriage of those involved is destroyed. Yes, reconciliation is possible and I pray that the Lord’s grace might be evident with his wife and children. But this kind of forgiveness and reconciliation does not occur overnight. This affair had been ongoing for twenty-five years (assuming the newspaper article has reported this accurately) which thus means what “trust” that existed was a trust based on false pretenses. It was not real. One side of the marriage was leading a life that was foreign to the other side. Therefore, this marriage will basically be forced to start over to rebuild trust from the beginning. Is it possible? Sure it is, if both of them are willing to work at it for the glory of God.

2. His vocational ministry is over. I have struggled personally with this one because I am having difficulty striking the balance between grace moving towards reconciliation and the consequences of sin. Scripture is clear on the character traits of those who are called to lead His church (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Now, if I am honest with myself, I will see quickly that there are various ways in which my character does not align itself with these qualities on a continuing basis. My desire is that it would, but I have a day of my life fully devoted to the Lord and fully focused on the cross of Christ. Until this day, I will continue to struggle with sin and temptation to sin. Therefore, is there a difference in the habitual nature of the sin and inconsistency? I think that there is, but I hope I do so not to just let myself off the hook. I think that a man who falls into a sin of this magnitude forfeits his right to be a pastor and to lead another congregation. Can he still be an active member in a local fellowship? Absolutely, and he should be for that matter, assuming that he is willing to submit himself to their leadership and discipline. But, ministry and oversight of God’s flock is a privilege and a responsibility, not a right.

This then begs the question concerning Parachurch organizations or traveling speaker ministries. This current pastor in question was the director of his own speaking ministry which has a board of directors and oversight committee. However, oversight committee or not, the speaker is still the one who is proclaiming God’s truth and his hearers are willfully submitting themselves under his authority. Consequently, I think that the outcome should be the same for this scenario, he should forfeit his right to this type of ministry. The only exception that I can think of for this situation specifically would be for he and his wife to have a speaking ministry TOGETHER and one would NEVER speak at an event without the other. However, this would definitely limit the scope of their talks to “how to overcome an affair in your marriage” which one would hope would have a low focal group. However, I would not be too surprised should there be a legitimate need develop within the church.

3. Those who have been under the fallen pastor’s leadership will question the validity of his teaching, their conversion, and just about every area that was affected by the ministry of the individual. This is a natural response given how much trust we place in the spiritual leaders over us, but we must remember who is ultimately in control of salvation and sanctification. The Lord is the one who sets His effectual call on us (Eph 1:4), the Lord is the One who effects his regeneration within us (John 3:8; 1 Pet 1:2), and the Lord is the One Who will keep us and continue to grow us until the Day of Christ Jesus (John 17:12 ; Ph 1:6). Therefore, to trust exclusively in the agent or administer of the gospel call is to not truly respond to the gospel itself. However, we must acknowledge that this problem is presented as a result of a minister who falls publicly and, I believe, will give an account to God for these ramifications.

4. The unbelieving world begins to issue claims of hypocrisy and condemnation on the church. The world is always looking for a reason to discount Christianity, because many of us Christians live a disenchanted and discounted Christianity. Any faithful minister of the word will at some point in his ministry make statements on the need for sexual purity, martial fidelity, and rebuke any form of immorality. This is good and essential, but this is the first line of offense that the world will take at the fallen minister and Christianity in general. As Christians, we must come to the reality that on some level we are all hypocrites. If we weren’t, we would not sin. We say that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the Lord over every area of our life. Well, if this were indeed true then I would be without sin and therefore not be a hypocrite. But, the converse is actually the truth. For those outside the church who begin to make such a claim, I would respond in kind with this question: “Well, I admit, you’re right. It is hypocritical for us to proclaim truth against an action or attitude that God has deemed sinful and then turn around and commit the same crime. This is why we are so utterly in need of a Savior who was absolutely perfect and un-hypocritical in every degree.” Further, I would then ask the inquisitor, “What would you say to this fallen minister’s wife? Is she just as much of a hypocrite as he?”

5. The unbelieving world comes to the stark reality that there is indeed an absolute truth that consists of right and wrong morality. Therefore, there can be good that can come from this, and to this fifth point I need to give full credit to my wife. As we were discussing the ramifications of Rick’s fall, she made the comment, “It just goes to show you that people really do believe in a right and wrong.” Amen, I applaud to my wonderfully astute and observant wife! She is absolutely right on. For, if the world truly did believe that all morality is relative and that there is no such a thing as right and wrong, then why did this story make the front page of the newspaper? Why did this story end up being discussed on most of the morning talk shows in Birmingham? Why was it on the 6:00 and 10:00 news that evening? If there really were no concept of morality, this story would not have made headlines, and it would not have been topic of conversation throughout the city. If right and wrong are truly figments of our imagination, why was this action being condemned and not applauded? I can only think of one legitimate answer: because there IS a moral right and wrong. Even if a non-believer were to comment, “Well, the story made headlines because it was calling out the hypocrisy of the church.” To this I would respond, “So, you confess that that it is not right to say one thing and then act in a way completely contrary – hypocritically? Well, you just proved my point. There ARE moral absolutes.”

6. This is a warning for all believers everywhere. This is another form of good that may come from this, although I wish it did not have to. As discussed previously, it can happen to any of us at any time. I know the internal wickedness of my own heart, and apart from Christ I am fully capable of any sin. Praise the Lord for the ministry of the Holy Spirit to prevent me from achieving further sin than what I already accomplish! This recent falling has caused me to question the security of the boundaries within my own marriage. Am I being cautious in all relationships with women other than my wife? Is my heart guarded at all times when it comes to conversing and interacting with other women? Have I, as Job did, “made a covenant with my eyes” (Job 31:1) so that I might not gaze upon another woman? Am I seeking anything outside of my relationship with wife that was intended to be satisfied by her and her alone? Am I being open and honest with those MEN whom God has provided for me to be accountable to? Am I asking the questions that may need to be asked of them so that together we can glorify God in the bonds of our marriages? These are heart probing questions that I must ask if I am to have an accurate inventory of my spiritual condition. I remember similar emotions when I originally heard of Ted Haggard’s fall. This could happen to me. This will happen to me, apart from a vibrantly growing radical commitment to Jesus Christ and His truth.

Dr. Mark Dever has written an insightful post at the T4G Blog titled Two Painfully Learned and Immensely Important Lessons where he speaks of a fellow pastor who has fallen in the public eye. Dr. Dever writes,
"Lesson number one: no accountability relationships will work if there is not a commitment to honesty on the part of the person in question."

"Lesson number two: the public success of your ministry is no indication of the true state of your relationship with God."
The entire article is well worth your time.

So, as many have asked before, how should we then live? I offer the following suggestions:

1. Pray for Rick, his wife and children. Ask that the Holy Spirit might be willing to lead them all to state of gracious repentance and that the Lord might be pleased to use this to draw them unto Himself. Pray that God might confirm his relationship to them and that He might be near as never before. (2 Chr 7:14; Ro 2:4; Jam 4:8)

2. Pray for your pastor and others who are in authority in your local fellowship. Pray that they might be protected from the wiles of the adversary who is prowling, seeking to destroy and devour. Pray that they might not be drawn into temptation of thinking that they are secure or that because of the fruitfulness of their ministry that they are above accountability. Pray that their hearts would be soft, humble, and teachable. (1 Pet 5:1-9; 1 Tim 3:1-13, Rom 13:1)

3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your heart for anything that you may currently have a blind eye towards. Pray that that he would illuminate truth within you, search through your heart, and lead you in the way of everlasting, with a radical commitment to the truth of God’s word. Pray that He might create within you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you (Psa 51:10; 139:23-24; Joh 17:17)

4. Pray that the gospel might penetrate our culture so that we might have a high view of marriage and that we will do whatever it takes to help protect our marriages and the marriages of others. Ask God to cause our nation to see the perils of a divorced society that has abandoned one another and abandoned the truth. (Heb 13:4; Rom 1:1:21, 26, 28)

5. Pray for this blogger as he seeks to remain faithful to his Lord, his wife, his calling, while remaining faithful to the word of God. Pray that he would not see himself as an exception, and that he would set his eyes on the cross of Christ this day and all days. Pray for his wife that she might be sensitive to perceive what may threaten their home and act like watchwoman to guard their marriage from being polluted by the outside world. Pray that her eyes might be opened when his may be dim and that he would take all steps needed to be sure that the Risen Lord Jesus Christ remains preeminent in his home.

For the newspaper article, click here

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Imagine What?...Jesus and John Lennon Go to Greenwich

This is a video that was recorded in 1995, when the many YouTube creators may have well been in their infancy, let alone the idea of digital web-imaging – or whatever the technical term is for making entertainment like this cheap and accessible. Believe it or not, this was filmed at a “Revival” at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC and the Lennon look-a-like is the pastor of a Redeemer church plant, The Village Church. You guessed it; it’s located in Greenwich Village.

An anomaly to say the least, The Village Church seeks to see their culture redeemed by and for the Gospel by engaging the intellectual, artistic, and others who are on the quest for Truth.

From their website:

“And this is why The Village Church belongs here, proclaiming Jesus Christ. Because Jesus intends nothing less than a revolution to overturn this age. It is not that revolution is bad, it is only that the usual revolutionaries don’t take it far enough. We tell people, to be in our church, you need to agree that there is something desperately wrong with the world. You need to be skeptical of false Messiahs. And you need to be open to new experiences. By that we mean you need to be radical in your commitment to follow the truth, to follow it into whatever experience constitutes the real revolution.”

“We can serve these folks and others like them because Christ’s revolution allows us to connect our heads to our hearts. The wisdom of Christ comes behind no other path intellectually. This is why our church believes the best way to proclaim the truth is to provide an environment of free enquiry, ending each Sunday with a Question Authority time, in which all comers are invited to comment on or challenge anything they have heard that day. As one new member put it, “I joined because this church welcomes thinking as part of its religion.” Intellectual integrity is a key part of Christ’s revolution."
As for their Pastor, Sam A. Andreades,
“He attended Yale University (B.S., Geology & Geophysics, 1984) and was awarded Yale’s Hammer Award for his thesis on acoustical wave travel through granites."
I am fairly convinced that this is my first encounter with a geophysicist and I think the only time I have ever used the word “granite” is when I knew that I have officially been baptized into the vernacular of southern drawl by saying, "Granite, I may not be the smartest hog in the trough…"

All this said, Sam and The Village Church, a PCA congregation, seem to be affecting great gains for the gospel in New York and beyond. His latest sermon, "The Conqueror Comes on the Clouds," is available here. He is not dynamic in his presentation, but is thoughtful, Christ-centered, and Word-oriented. Remember that his audience is composed of NYU students and faculty and other artistic intellectuals who have been questioning the establishment for years. I believe God is being glorified and using this fellowship to accomplish His purpose.

The lyrics to this song are recorded below. Click here for the full post.

"Imagine what?"

Imagine there’s no heaven,
It’s easy if you try
Imagine there’s nothing real but what you see
Isn’t that a cheery thought?
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no heaven or hell
And while we’re at it, no moral justice
No more consequences for what you do
You can cheat on your wife, no problem
(Everything turns out right anyway)
Wouldn’t this really be
A wonderful world to live in

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
And we all know truth is determined by majority
So come along and we’ll be as one

Imagine no possessions
It isn’t hard to do
Imagine not being responsible for anything
Or caring how it’s treated
Life would be sort of like the public library
All the books with the pages ripped out

Imagine not wanting to own anything
Imagine not having the things you enjoy
So imagine not caring what you have for dinner
And no passions too
Imagine what it feels like to be a brick
Living as a brick for evermore

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
So if we get enough people together
I’m sure we can talk some sense into God

Imagine no religion
No Jesus Christ to tell us what to do
Just all of us sort of figuring it out
And everyone stopping being selfish
A brotherhood of man
Because…’s a nice thing to do
Imagine all the people
Achieving an uncorrupt, socialist world state all by ourselves

Well maybe that’s a little hard to imagine
But go ahead anyway,
After all we’ll show God we can be brave
No-ho-ho matter what He thinks

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Diversity in the University and True Love Revolution

In the days of pluralism, relativism, and when tolerance is the buzz-word (except when this applies to the exclusive claims of Christianity), our nation’s universities are brimming with programs, classes, and organizations which appear to offer a new found freedom. As many have discovered, however, this “freedom” only leads to greater slavery and should be abolished altogether. Sadly, this enslavement is much more sexy to my generation’s eye as a result of the boomers that have gone before us, and our perception of sexuality has so far skewed from the gift which God intended.

I recall a time in my life when I was engaged in an auditorium full of future doctors, attorneys, soccer moms, pharmaceutical reps, restaurant owners, journalists, tax agents, politicians, educators, administrators, alcoholics, drug addicts, and felons. Granted, I could not then, nor can I now, determine who has amounted to which category but the reality exists that in a crowd this large (600+) statistically, there are bound to at least be one of each. Also, I did not know at that time that I would one day pursue a calling into vocational ministry. Having had to make the prediction that day, I would have surmised that I would have been a journalist turned drug-addicted felon. Thank You Father, for Your life-changing grace.

This meeting was not a professional meeting of young entrepreneurs, nor was this a gathering of desiring community leaders hoping to rally around an issue. It was a rally of sorts, and it was held in a packed auditorium of Winthrop University (my first college campus), but there was only one mindset that was acceptable in this seemingly tolerant society and it manifested itself in this chant: “Diversity in the University.” Led by a charismatic, engaging, and infectious Director of Student Affairs, she had the crowd on their feet on more than one occasion. I recall like it was yesterday (9 years later), “What we need is Diversity in the University. Diversity in the University. Diversity in the University. Say it with me: ‘Diversity in the University. Diversity in the University. Diversity in the Uni…” give me a break. This mantra was repeated over and over to the point that the brainwashing method employed by David Koresh, Jim Jones or the like would have seemed like a Tuesday morning knitting club at the senior citizens center.

She stressed the need for tolerance when it came to religions “Whether you’re a Christian…or a Jew…or Muslim…or Catholic…or Hindu…or Buddhist…or Ba’hai…or Atheist…we need Diversity in the University. Say it with me now, Diversity in the University. Whatever your sexual preference or orientation may be, straight, gay, bi…we need Diversity in the University. Diversity in the University.” And the mantra continued and continued and continued in drone after drone after drone to the point that I hear the words murmuring in my cranium nine years postpartum. In a sense, in order to truly be an American college student in the then twentieth century and the soon coming twenty-first who has been reborn from the ways of the old world, it was required that you be tolerant of everything - except intolerance, of course. This is the greatest oxymoron of the secular society and the space does not permit to entertain this soap box. Suffice it to say, this is a preposterousness that reeks of double talk to at minimum. Tomfoolery in barest degree.

Well, Harvard University, another institute of higher education, the highest pedigree in many opinions, has attempted to be the cosmopolitan ivy from which all others descend has made headlines once again. This time, however, it has not been as a result of their risqué outlook on sexuality, diversification, or tolerance. This time, it comes as a result of the student group, True Love Revolution, who have the audacity to proclaim to the student body that their bodies are not for all students. Clearer, abstinence is indeed a healthy lifestyle choice.

True Love Revolution is a secular organization that does not have any ties to a religious affiliation or denomination and is therefore acceptable on the college’s campus. In the AP article released Thursday, Jesse Alderman writes,

“True Love Revolution members say the problem starts with the university. They say Harvard has implicitly led students to believe that having sex at college is a foregone conclusion by requiring incoming freshman to attend a seminar on date-rape that does not mention abstinence, by placing condoms in freshmen dorms, and by hosting racy lecturers. (Harvard students have also launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring racy photos of undergraduates.)”
Alderman also shares a telling quote from a campus feminist who was offended by receiving a valentine indicating that abstinence may be the way to go:
”Harvard student Rebecca Singh said she was offended by a valentine the group sent to the dormitory mailboxes of all freshmen. It read: "Why wait? Because you're worth it."
"I think they thought that we might not be `ruined' yet," Singh said. "It's a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It's a relic."
Imagine that. A culture that “values a woman on her purity”! Singh is correct in that increasingly, the idea that a woman committed to purity is a relic, a thing of the past. However, the battle is not lost and the war against sexual impurity and in support of marital integrity continues to rage. I commend this group for having the courage to walk a life of purity; I only wish that they would recognize that our goal in purity is to glorify God who has bought our bodies with a price. Behind the lines, this group may be populated by many Christians, but since the article does not indicate, I may only conjecture. However, this is a start and it may just be that there is a group of individuals who are being stirred by the Spirit of God to seek a life greater than the temporal earthly, existence. We can only pray that the gospel would indeed penetrate the kudzu of plurality found in the Ivy Leagues and beyond.

For the complete article click here.

For a couple of young men who are seeking to change an entire generation, click here and join The Rebelution.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Loving God...Loving People: Watching Him Work

*NOTE: Names and some details have been changed to protect the humble, exception noted for my wife and I who, speaking for myself, am far from humble.

“Hey Kim, its Mary…I need your help. Can you call me soon?”

This is the gist of a voice message Kimberly received late Monday morning. Mary is a high school honor student whom Kimberly has met through the Sunday School class that she helps to lead. Mary has not been to church in many months nor has the rest of her family so it was a surprise to receive this phone call. They do not live exactly close to the church and being that their family of six only has one automobile, transportation has been an issue. Mary’s father, Paul, has had a medical emergency that has recently hospitalized him as his doctors are seeking guidance on how best to proceed given his condition. Oh yeah…and Mary is a sixteen-year-old mother of one.

Paul had been caring for Mary’s child, Hannah, during the day while she and her siblings were at school and her mother was at work. Paul is on medical disability from an accident that occurred many years ago. Thus, with Paul’s recent hospitalization, Mary was left without a caretaker for Hannah and, double-whammy, this honor student was unable to go to school. Therefore, Mary was seeking help from Kimberly to find someone who can watch Hannah until Paul recovers.

“Do you have any money for daycare?” Kimberly asks, knowing the answer.

“Well, I’m working on that” Mary responds. Kimberly can sense that Mary knows that she has made a mistake. She made a series of poor choices over a year ago that led to this day while a teenage mother seeks to make it against impossible odds. Sin has consequences…but there is indeed grace. Shall we sin so that grace may abound? May it never be! But when we do, we must always look to the Purifier to purify our hearts for Him.

Mary needs to go to school; she is cognizant of this truth. Hannah needs a baby-sitter; understatement of the century. Mary needs to do what is in the best interest of Hannah; a God-glorifying response. Several months ago, another young mother decided to leave her two children, ages nine and three at home while she went out to a party for the evening. When she came home, her house had burned and her three year old was dead. The nine year old escaped, but the mother is now facing charges of manslaughter for the death of her child. May the Lord be merciful to her and allow her the time to be spent in prison calculating the value of human life. Mary is not this woman. Mary is concerned for Hannah and knows that the best thing for Hannah is for Mary to get the best education that she possibly can in an attempt to make the best life for Hannah available.

Mary had called everyone she knew and could not come up with a viable solution. Kimberly, a leader in her Sunday School class, came to mind as an option for suggestions. Kimberly called me and asked me what she should do. I must confess that the very first thought that ran through my mind was, “Sin has consequences. Tell her to deal with it herself.” There is a glaring un-grace, un-mercy, and un-Christ coming through this statement. Thankfully, my wife did not have the thoughts that I did and, moved with compassion, sought to find help for this weary traveler. She saw a need in a younger sister in Christ and yearned to see the Father meet this need. Kimberly desired to be an instrument of grace in the Redeemer’s hands.

So, the ever-so-thoughtful wife of mine, after receiving little help from me (), phoned our youth minister to gather his input, the children’s minister to see about daycare options at church, and contemplated phoning a full-time mother who may have the ability to help a few days a week. Our youth minister returned her call and gave her the name of a couple who may know how best to proceed. This couple, Priscilla and Aquila, head a ministry effort for underprivileged children living in one of the poorest counties in the country and the poorest county in our neighboring state, Mississippi. They host vacation Bible schools, Christmas parties, and summer events for these children as well as provide for clothing and other physical needs. Most importantly, however, they bring the hope of the gospel to offer eternal life to these children, not just a more comfortable life. Thus said, this couple definitely has a loving and giving heart, but are they able to take care of this child? And were they able to take care of this child tomorrow? They were not, but their daughter was.

After speaking with Priscilla, Kimberly learned that Priscilla’s daughter, Lydia, was entertaining the idea of using her gifts to serve others as a foster parent. However, since the process is lengthy and the inspections are many, the modus operandi had not been completed. Kimberly spoke with Lydia to see what her thoughts would be in helping Mary and Hannah turn toward a better tomorrow, and indeed, it needed to be tomorrow! Lydia responded in a way that should not surprise us because we know that it is God who is working all things according to the purpose of His will, the praise of His glorious grace, and the glory of His name. She said, “Absolutely. I will drive the approximate fifteen miles (one-way) to pick up Hannah in the morning and return her back in the evening. Will Mary mind that Hannah travels everywhere with me?”

Kimberly then explained that she was unsure how long this scenario would last. Paul is in need of some pretty extensive medical care which may require a lengthy period of recovery. Kimberly needed to be sure that Lydia would not be surprised by the length of commitment, and also, to offer hope that her obligation may be complete in one week. She did not know. Lydia’s response? “Well, I am available through this year and the summer and next even if need be! I have plans to go out of town next month, and if Mary is OK with it, I will just have to take Hannah with me!” Incredible! What a way of showing grace to an individual whom SHE HAD NEVER MET! Grace is grace when it is given without requirement or pre-qualification.

This was Monday. Tuesday, the relationships began between Mary, Lydia, Hannah, Priscilla, Aquila, and the rest of the extended families. Lydia, Priscilla, and Aquila made the trek out to Hannah’s home in order to pick her up for the day. The night before, Priscilla and Aquila made a shopping trip to pick up a few odds and ends – to include a stroller and car seat! This is ministry: investing more of ourselves financially, emotionally, or chronologically for the purpose of the glory of the Lord to be made known. Mary kept saying, “Thank you” over and over again. Lydia, Priscilla, and Aquila replied, “Don’t thank us…praise God.”

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Ps 115:1)
Lydia and Kimberly spoke Wednesday to see how things were. Hannah is now going to spend the night with Lydia and her family two nights a week and Lydia is even taking to Hannah to school some mornings! I can not stress enough that this is far from convenient for Lydia! They do not live in the same subdivision, let-alone, the same suburb! Ministry is not often “convenient” by our terms. But moved with compassion as our Lord was, inconveniences are longer seen as an inconvenience, they are seen as Yahweh’s providence. Lydia and her family have purchased outfits for baby Hannah and have assured mother Mary that she need not provide formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and the like. Grace just does that some times. When you expect a little, grace come through in ways beyond measure.

Open the floodgates of Your grace on us, O God, and grant me a spirit of willing, sacrificial, service for the sake of Your name, Your glory, and Your renown for the edification of Your church. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chr 29:11-13).

“And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:13-15)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is John Piper Charismatic?

A rare occurrence has happened this week. An occurrence so rare that my on theological foundations have been shook. Truth be told, there is a new sacrilege in Christendom. This is scandalous. This is tantalizing. This will not elapse without notice. This is an occurrence so paramount to an insurmountable truth that to believe its occurrence is beyond itself in could be called heresy. Not really that the occurrence, or at least the testimony of the occurrence is rare, but the fact that this confession is coming from this man, is rare indeed. Not known for his charismatic beliefs, Dr. John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, has confessed to an all-too-real-to-be-true event that has transformed his life. This week, John Piper heard the voice of God. And today, you too can hear the voice of God.

He shares,

“God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth”

“God said, “Come and see what I have done.”[…]There settled over me a wonderful reverence. A palpable peace came down. This was a holy moment and a holy corner of the world in northern Minnesota. God Almighty had come down and was giving me the stillness and the openness and the willingness to hear his very voice.”

“Think of it. Marvel at this. Stand in awe of this. The God who keeps watch over the nations, like some people keep watch over cattle or stock markets or construction sites—this God still speaks in the twenty-first century. I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me.

What effect did this have on me? It filled me with a fresh sense of God’s reality. It assured me more deeply that he acts in history and in our time. It strengthened my faith that he is for me and cares about me and will use his global power to watch over me. Why else would he come and tell me these things?"

Has Dr. John Piper actually heard the voice of God? Absolutely.
Has Dr. John Piper become a non-cessationist in regards to the gifting of the Spirit to provide greater revelation today? Absolutely not.

Read his complete article here.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Review - Understanding the Bible by John Stott

Understanding the Bible: Expanded Edition
By John R.W. Stott
Zondervan, 1972 rpt 1999
Category: Biblical Studies
ISBN: 0310414318
216 pages
Indexes: Person and Subject
$14.99 MSRP

Books whose goal is to provide a broad sweep of the entire Bible will never go out of style. It seems as though each Biblically-centered publishing arm cranks out one or more “Bible Overview” type books every two years or so. This book just happens to have enjoyed its first printing thirty-five years ago. However, as the message of the Bible is timeless, any overview of the Bible should remain timeless as well and endure the test of time.

Dr. John Stott’s biography may be found here. I must be clear that I do not agree with Dr. Stott on all things theological. Stott does not believe in a literal six-day creation (544-55). Stott does not believe that the flood in the days of Noah was a worldwide flood but only a localized one (56). He has written elsewhere that he no longer believes in a literal Hell, but rather favors the doctrine of annihilationism and he hints at this idea in view of an uncertainty concerning the nature of Hell (151). Nonetheless, in Understanding the Bible Dr. Stott has written a great work that would be beneficial to any student of the word. He states in the preface that this book is written for two people: first, the new convert and second, the long-standing Christian. Broad categories, sure, but here is his explanation:

"In particular, our Christianity is mean because our Christ is mean [meager, lacking not unkind]. We impoverish ourselves by our low and paltry views of Him. Some speak of Him today as if He were a kind of hypodermic to be carried about in our pocket, so that when we are feeling depressed we can give ourselves a fix and take a trip into fantasy. But Christ cannot be used or manipulated like that. The contemporary church seems to have little understanding of the greatness of Jesus Christ as Lord of creation and Lord of the church, before whom our place is on our faces in the dust. Nor do we seem to see His victory as the New Testament portrays it, with all things under His feet, so that if we are joined to Christ, all things are under our feet as well.

It seems to me that our greatest need today is an enlarged vision of Jesus Christ. We need to see Him as the One in Whom alone the fullness of God dwells and in Whom alone we can come to the fullness of life (Col 1:19; 2:9-10).

There is only one way to gain clear, true, fresh, lofty views of Christ, and that is through the Bible…

In order to apprehend Jesus Christ in His fullness, it is essential to understand the setting within which God offers Him to us” (10).

And with these statements, I was hooked. Indeed, our need today, every day prior, and every day yet to come is to have “an enlarged vision of Jesus Christ.” If we were to be a people who saw Christ glorified as He truly has revealed Himself in Scripture we would make of our world by making much of our Lord. And thus Dr. Stott sets us on a quest to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ through contextualizing Him within the Biblical roots pf culture that He has chosen to reveal Himself through to us.

The overarching theme of the Bible is this: God’s glory as revealed in redemption’s unfolding plan for His people. Stott states that the supreme purpose of the Bible is a book of salvation. He cites the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy where Paul affirms that the Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 3:15) (14).

According to Stott, the Bible is primarily a book about salvation in that “its intellectual instruction (its "wisdom," as the Greek word implies) is given with a view to the moral experience called “salvation” (Stott 15). Initially, I would say that this definition does not travel far enough, but then Stott adds, “Salvation is far more than merely the forgiveness of sins. It includes the whole sweep of God’s purpose to redeem and restore humankind, and indeed all creation. What we claim for the Bible is that it unfolds God’s total plan” (16). Many Dispensationalists disagree that the Bible is not a book primarily concerned with salvation, but that it is rather a revelation of God’s glory. I think that this may be semantics and the debate is not as far reaching as one might conjecture, but it may prove to be a greater distinction than I realize in other circles.

The Bible is a book concerned with the revelation of God’s glory, but, God’s glory is most evidently revealed in redemption. Those who are outside of Christ do have the opportunity to witness God’s glory as it is revealed in creation so that all are without excuse (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:20) though many fail to do so. Instead, they find themselves “[serving] the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:25). But those who are in Christ have an unparalleled opportunity to give witness to and then be witnesses of the glory of God. This evident in that that the Holy Spirit is able to illuminate to the them the Scriptures by guiding the redeemed into all truth, and will take what is Christ’s and declare it to others (John 16:13-15). Further, the redeemed in Christ are privileged in the matter of salvation as these are “things which angels long to look” (1 Pet 1:12). Peter further declares that “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Thus, Peter does not deny the fact that the Scriptures give testimony to the glory of God, but it is under the umbrella of God’s glory (as 1 Cor 10:31 declares that all things are to be done for this) that salvation is revealed and that those who have come to salvation are then fit to glorify God as an object of mercy rather than a vessel of wrath (Rom 9:22-24).

Therefore, operating under the auspices of the Bible being a book that deals primarily with the message of salvation, Stott’s book seeks to illustrate the plan of redemption as it has developed through Scripture. This book is NOT a commentary or Bible handbook. This book is a narrative depicting the truths found in the most published book in world history.

Chapter Two of Stott’s book is titled “The Land of the Bible” and admittedly, I was a little less than hooked when I read the first few pages of this chapter. He speaks of vegetation, annual precipitation, and geography – areas in school where I have not always been the brightest. However, he reveals much of the importance to these facts and figures if we are to accurately interpret the Scriptures in their literal, grammatical, historical contexts. Why was rain so important to the Israelites? Why did they view its presence or lack thereof as a direct signal to God’s blessing or curse? What is the significance of each of the three annual festivals that Israel was to observe? Read the Scriptures…then read the book.

The next two chapters are truly a grand sweep of the Biblical narrative. In about eighty-five pages, Dr. Stott covers both the Old and New Testaments, highlighting many of the major events that happened along the way. Again, this is not a commentary or a handbook so he does not go book by book, verse by verse. Rather, he allows you to see the grandiose account of Israel’s history throughout the various covenant’s ultimately leading up to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, followed by the beginnings of the first century church. Yes, eighty-five pages. But he does so in a manner that is of a rapid flow where you sense that you are sitting with your grandfather as he recounts your genealogy in a matter of minutes.

Stott then follows with two chapters concerning “The Message of the Bible” and “The Authority of the Bible”. In “The Message of the Bible,” Stott asserts that there are two things that we need to know about God. First, He is living and sovereign, and second, the He is consistent (Stott 139). If God is not both “living and sovereign” then he is therefore by default dead and not in control. If God is not consistent and therefore mutable, we can not trust anything that He has to say because what He says today may be different tomorrow which may be different from the next day, and so on. Thus, since He IS living, sovereign, and immutable we can trust that the word that He has given to us – the revelation of Himself – is indeed authoritative and accurate for yesterday, today, and all days in the future. He then continues to describe the outworking of the covenant of redemption that God has with His people. He does not follow a complete ordo salutis as it were, but he does offer insights into the theological concepts of what he calls Redemption, Adoption, and Glorification.

Next is a brief introduction into the interpretation of Scripture which is merely a preface to the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation.

Stott concludes his work with a synopsis of five “uses of the Bible” but should be understood as what the Bible’s effect should have on a “doer” and just a “hearer” only. They are: Worship, Repentance, Faith, Obedience, and Witness. It was in this section that I derived my favorite quote from the entire book.
“Worship is impossible without a knowledge of the truth…[T]he more we come to know Him, the more we shall realize that He is worthy of our devotion. For to worship is to praise God’s name, to glory in Who and What He is in the splendor of His being and works…Since worship is always a response to the truth of God we perceive, it is supremely the Word of God (His self-revelation) which evokes worship in God. Therefore the Bible has an indispensable place in both public and private worship…Only when God speaks through His Word, making Himself known in the greatness of His glory and grace, do the congregation truly bow down and worship” (211).

I would recommend Understanding the Bible to anyone seeking a broad overview of the Bible and to see an introductory glimpse into the outworking of God’s covenant of grace with His people.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pride, Prejudice, and Prayerlessness

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart…And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"” (Luke 18:1, 6-8)

Do I really long for God? I have often quoted the famous Psalms that mention an intense longing and yearning after the Spirit of God and for His very presence to be made manifest. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1). “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1-2). As much as I desire for this to be a true, honest prayer of my life it simply is not. I want to want to love Jesus. I want to want to spend time at His feet basking in His glory and rejoicing in Who He Is. But I don’t. Why? To put it in terms of generality, it is because of my sinfulness and my depravity. But if I get specific, which I don’t want to do for that would cause me truly examine my heart and my motives, I have to confess that it is pride that prevents me from coming to Him for my every need.

See, on one level, I don’t approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16) because I know that my own wicked, sinfulness is deplorable in His sight. Yes, I recognize – or at least give lip service to – the fact that my righteousness comes from Jesus Christ alone and He has granted me privileged access to the Father and to Himself by His Spirit. This is indeed “right theology”, but it does not always lead to right living. It should, but for me, many times it doesn’t. I allow the enemy to feed me the lie that I’m not good enough, holy enough, and worthy enough for the Lord of this universe to be pleased with me and desire to spend time with me. And the fact of the matter is – he’s right. But for some glorious reason, He who knew no sin has chosen to identify me with Him and remove my transgressions as far as the east is from the west (2 Cor 5:21; Ps 103:12) thus granting me access. But I tend to give the enemy more credit than he rightfully deserves. The true enemy – at least in this circumstance – lies within. I prevent myself from coming because of the wicked pride that resides inside my soul. I say, “I don’t need You; I can do this on my own.” OK, I don’t actually say this verbally, but my actions lend full credence to this truth.

Jesus told His disciples the above parable in Luke 18:1-8 “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (18:1). He then proceeds to divulge the life of a widow who continually asked for an unrighteous judges’ protection against her adversary. The judge desired nothing to do with the situation and he put her off and put her off and put her off some more. Finally, as a result of much persistence, he says “I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (18:4). To this Christ adds, “And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night?” (18:7). In essence, Christ affirms that there is something to be said about a continued, persistent, repeated, consistent approach to His throne of grace seeking the Lord in all His glory. No, He is not some cosmic vending machine waiting at our beckon call to fix our problems. But, He is longing for us to see Him in all His truth and in the glory of His majestic holiness. He longs for us to see Him with unveiled faces and to behold the glory of the Lord, “to be transformed into the image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). Yahweh’s prescribed proving ground for this transformation comes through our prayer meetings with Him. Where else can He grab our attention so intently when we are pouring out our hearts before Him? Whether we are seeking guidance in life’s “big decisions”, deliverance form strongholds, or simply sending up a knee-mail just to say “hi”, what better arena has God provided to reveal much of His glory to us than in personal worship? I am not diminishing the need for corporate worship and the gathering with the assembly of the saints. These are imperative to the growing Christian’s life. But I will say that the corporate worship experience will be directly effected by one’s personal worship – or the lack thereof.

In his book, Humility: the forgotten virtue, Wayne Mack addresses this issue and sends a searing arrow through the heart of the man too good for God. “Humility is manifested before God [by] continually seeking [Him] in prayer. Hardly anything is more an evidence of pride than prayerlessness” (Philipsburg, PA: P&R Publishing, 2005. p 48). This pill is tough to swallow and the medicine may be good, but my pride will fight this tooth and nail. Because of my lack of prayerlessness, my pride is most revealed although I may be seemingly humble in all other areas. By my prayerlessness, I say to the Lord of the universe, “I don’t need You; I can do this on my own.” Forget about the eye talking to the ear, or the hand speaking to the foot, for they are all part of one body. This is the pot saying to the Potter, I know better how to fashion myself. Oh how wrong I am…and that I might desire to know not only the depths of this wrong, but the right that is revealed through communion with Jesus Christ!

I have a few minutes before I need to be in a meeting, and because I am afforded the luxury, I think I might do well to take heed of the words of Christ and acknowledge His promise that “He will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:8a). At the end of this parable, the Divine Word asks this question, “[When] the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (18:8b). Were it entirely dependent upon me, I’m not so sure...

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Mega Mosque for 2012 Olympics in London

As this city happens to be on my travel agenda in the foreseeable future, all things London tend to vie for my attention. I found this to be intriguing to say the least...

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sufficiency of Scripture

I saw this a few months ago and am still in awe. This is Ryan Ferguson reciting Hebrews 9-10 at the Worship God conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries. The sufficiency of Scripture brought to light...

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Monday, March 12, 2007

James White Debates Open Thesist John Sanders

I found this today via a link from this blog.

I wrote a book review for Dr. Bruce Ware's book Their God Is Too Small which addresses the question of Open Theism. Here, Dr. James White debates with Dr. John Sanders, who is a proponent of the Open View. The debate took place at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL and the gentleman who appears first is Dr. Sanders. The voice that you hear is that of Dr. White.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is Your Baby Gay? - A Response to Dr. Mohler's Recent Article

Is your baby gay? Not your toddler who has just developed a love for Legos, or your newborn who after months of immobility has just begun to roll over on her own. No, is the baby that is still six months away from full gestation and entrance into this world gay? You know, the one that keeps mommy up all night kicking and stretching and doing somersaults. Yes, the one in the womb; the one who is unborn.

Indeed this is an interesting question and one which Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, poses to his readers on his blog today (actually Friday 3/2). Apparently, Scientists at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station are conducting research into the sexual orientation of sheep through "sexual partner preference testing” and they have determined that research suggests that there is a biological effect that bends sheep towards or away from homosexuality or heterosexuality. This is one of those questions that has raged in conservative and liberal circles alike. For, if Johnny was born with the predisposition towards homosexuality why should he fight it? If he did, would he not be going against the very make-up of his nature and thus “sinning” against his body and God? But, then there is always the “conservative” argument that God would not make an individual homosexual because, as the old heterosexual adage goes, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Both of these arguments are so wrong on so many fronts and the purpose of this article is not to address either side of the debate. My opinions will follow later.

Dr. Mohler continues, “What makes the sheep "sexual partner preference testing" research so interesting is that the same scientists who are documenting the rather surprising sexual behaviors of male sheep think they can also change the sexual orientation of the animals. In other words, finding a biological causation for homosexuality may also lead to the discovery of a "cure" for the same phenomenon.” If you knew that your baby had a genetic disposition towards homosexuality (and assuming that you were a heterosexual Christian who agrees that homosexuality is a sin as defined in the Bible) would you take measures to prevent this disposition if there was a genetically altering procedure that could accomplish this work?

I am not a medical expert, but my understanding is that there is a procedure called Amniocentesis which is used to determine whether there are any chromosomal abnormalities existing in the unborn baby. (Yes, the unborn child is a baby, not a fetus.) This test is used to check for possibilities of Downs Syndrome and other possible birth defects. (I must mention that I am not fond of the term “birth defects” because this carries the weight of a child that is now therefore “lesser than” another child who does not have “defects.” But, since I am not keen on any other term that is acceptable for use here, I must include it.) Many have used Amniocentesis in the past, foresaw the potential for a defect, and after “genetic counseling” have chosen to kill the unborn child….uh….I mean “terminate the pregnancy.” If during this Amniocentesis (assuming that the procedure would be applicable for determining “sexual preference” or “orientation”) and any possible procedure to “correct” the genetic disposition towards homosexuality was available, would you follow through with implementation?

On the surface this would seem clear enough. Yes, correct any potential “defect” that my child may have. Prevent Downs Syndrome, prevent extra or not enough appendages, prevent autism, prevent, ADD, ADHD, or OCD, and the list could go on an on. Would we go so far that we would want to say that we would like to genetically produce a baby that was “perfect” in our eyes with the proper eye, hair, and skin color, proper pheromones, and even prone to interests similar to those of his parents? If you had the choice, genetically, would you have your baby predisposed towards Alabama or Auburn Football? Extremes, I agree, but if it was possible and the only thing preventing such a measure was a dollar amount, how many of us would be willing to follow through? Thus, the question remains, where is the line to be drawn? Should I stop at Downs, or is ADD too far? Is a request for his first words to be “Roll Tide” too far down the acceptable spectrum or is it more proper to suffice with eye color preference?

And this brings me to the point of this article. All of this was introduction to make the statement that I find myself in a peculiar position. I do not often stand in disagreement with Dr. Mohler, but today may be a first. In his article, he offers several suggestions of the possible ramifications of the development of a procedure that could genetically alter the sexual preference of our unborn child. He writes from the position that we should still fight for the right of the unborn child regardless of his or her sexual preference – if it is possible to biologically prove a disposition towards homosexuality. Dr. Mohler mentions that

“The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery [that homosexuality could be proven biological]. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible's moral verdict on homosexual behavior.”


“Thus, we will gladly contend for the right to life of all persons, born and unborn, whatever their sexual orientation. We must fight against the idea of aborting fetuses or human embryos identified as homosexual in orientation.”

I agree wholeheartedly with both of these statements. Where I disagree is what follows when he states,

“If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.”

I have great difficulty with this statement. Having not been personally faced with this issue previously, I must be clear that my opinions may change when confronted with something similar. However, as we are called to rule our lives based on our biblical convictions not our feelings I hope that I will remain steadfast on this up until the time that the Lord or one of His servants may seek to counsel me in light of biblical truth. Having said this, I do not currently think that genetic altering is a biblically-based, God-glorifying procedure, regardless of the reason or “defect” that one is attempting to correct. In doing so, we discount God’s sovereignty and His ability to bring glory to Himself in all situations.

I know that this has the potential of being taken to the extreme and out context so let me clarify a few things.

I am not a proponent of the Scientology view of medicine and that we should only treat ourselves with mind therapy. If you have cancer, and chemo is the prescribed treatment, take your chemo treatments to the glory of God, trusting that His glory will be foremost and that His desire will be accomplished – whatever that may be. Whether it be healing in this life or the next, God alone is sovereign over all medical treatments and should be exalted as such. If you break your leg and need to be placed in traction for a month prior to a body-cast for two months followed by crutches for another two months before you are able to walk unaided again (which was a true case for my brother), then submit to your physician’s wisdom and do so to the glory of God depending on Him for all strength and support. He is able to work through physical means in order to accomplish His purpose. If He chooses to not let your leg heal, He is still able to accomplish His purpose in your life for His glory.

All this said, the aforementioned are all reactionary remedies. Cancer was diagnosed and it was treated. A leg was broken and it was addresses to mend. Cause, then effect, followed by attempted correction. But in the case of genetic altering, these are all forward-looking propositions that may or may not become true.

I know a gentleman whose son has Downs Syndrome. In a conversation regarding Heaven, where there is no sickness, no pain, and all defects have gone away, all the former things have passed and all things are made new (Rev 21:4-5) the idea that his son would not have Downs Syndrome surfaced. He said, “But the [Timothy] I know will not be the same [Timothy] because his personality is so influenced by Downs.” He understood that Timothy’s personality and who he is was determined by his Downs Syndrome. Timothy is a Christian who came to know the Lord several years ago. He is active in serving His church and His family and although he has “defects” he is quite useful for the kingdom and has an ability to glorify God in all that he says and does. Would the church be better off if we were just rid of these children? I don’t think so.

This then brings me to questions of MMR vaccines, Polio, Small Pox, and other diseases that once plagued our nation are now merely a thing for history books. With the advancement of medical technology, many vaccines have been developed that are able to be given near birth and the effects are life-long. Am I to say that these vaccines are wrong, unethical, or unbiblical? I confess that I have come to a loss on this and other issues similar to this. I can not imagine looking to my sister and counseling her to NOT have my nephew vaccinated from any of the aforementioned diseases and let him run the risk of contracting one of them at the possible expense of his life. However, this does not necessarily make the idea of vaccines wrong or right, just different from the social norm.

The Bible teaches that all life is precious and is to be valued and protected – born and unborn. But where do we draw the line when it comes to genetic altering and other bioethical matters that affect the future of the individual. I am all for protecting our children from sin and its destructive grip that it can have apart from the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ, but I do not think that I am currently willing to say that this is feasible through medical technology. Thus, I am left wondering where is the line on any of these issues. I am afraid that Dr. Mohler’s position of unapologetically supporting “a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation” may be going a little too far and will thus open a watershed of other possible treatments for any random personality trait, preference, or struggle in life to where we have now reduced the baby to a laboratory of our own perversions. We will never make a sinless human being. That has already occurred in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and we should not expect it to happen again. We, therefore, should anxiously await His appearing, and seek to preach the life-changing gospel message that He has given us to proclaim in hopes of seeing a fraction of the redemption that creation longs to see. I am not sure what the answers are to a myriad of bioethical issues, but that should not prevent thinking Christians from wrestling with these and other issues. As our culture moves further and further away from the authority of Scripture, we must continue to evaluate each argument in light of what has already been revealed and make informed decisions that do not counter the Word or our conscience.

Also, visit Justin Taylor's blog here for other discussion.

Dr. Mohler has apparently received much hate mail in response to his recent artice. Today, he posts some clarifying statments on his website which may be accessed here. this was topic of discussion in one of our staff meetings yesterday and the confusion continues to rage on. I am quite thankful for Dr. Mohler and his ministry to the Church. I believe him to be one of the brightest and gifted individuals serving the church today and his leadership at SBTS sends ricochettes around the globe. He should not be easily buffed and should continue to be an authority on biblical thinking.

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