I don't normally watch the news... But I did happen to watch this interview with a Planned Parenthood Executive.
It's the end of the 1st century. Persecutions are on the rise. The apostles are all dead. What's the next move for the Christian Church?
So asks Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the wake of the shooting deaths of two journalists. The killings, which are being dubbed "the first social media murders," (though some might argue that the recent Planned Parenthood video were actually the first) do raise a very interesting ethical question for Christians - to watch or not to watch, that is the question. Certainly the temptation to watch is very real. Sure on the one hand we believe it's right to say:
"I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me." - Psalm 101:3
But on the other hand everyone is talking about these murders and the footage is available on social media. In addition to this it doesn't do Christians any good to hide from the harsh realities of life in a sin-cursed world. In fact, having an awareness of such things gives us a wonderful opportunity to dialogue with our unbelieving co-workers and friends about the true meaning of life and the Lord's defeat of death through His resurrection.... So what is a Christian to conclude?
Here's what Moore concludes:
"This killer’s video... is celebrating darkness. He put forward a kind of pornography of violence, and from that we must turn away." - Russell Moore
Is Moore correct in his conclusion? Why not take a look at his article on the subject and let me know your thoughts.
I wish to offer the following hypothesis:
Of all the people on the face of the earth it is Christians who should be the most joyful.
Oh, yes… I’m quite serious. I’ll explain more in a minute but first please allow me to put a smile on your faces with the following list I’ve compiled from various internet sources. For your enjoyment (and just for the sake of a good laugh) here are my top 15 church bulletin misprints... may you be filled with joy!
Real Church Bulletin Misprints
1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
2. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
3. Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
4. Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again", giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
5. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
6. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.
7. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
8. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
9. Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
10. Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 pm - prayer and medication to follow.
11. The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
12. This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
13. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
14. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
15. Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
Alright... now pick yourself up off the floor, dry your eyes and take a moment to think about:
The Real Reason For Christian Joy
Sure, the list above might be silly and only good for a cheap laugh... BUT a good laugh and a light heart should remind us as Christians of a wonderful truth – namely, our theology, when properly understood, produces great joy! Christian theology is not (nor should it ever be considered) merely the preserve of ivory tower academies, nor is it primarily a matter of reading what one scholastic brainbox from the distant past has written in response to another – Christian theology is simply about knowing God and knowing Him better. To truly know Him is to rejoice in Him.
Therefore, as someone has concluded elsewhere:
“That’s why theology is so exciting – it’s about knowing this God; the God who is, from all eternity, a Father loving his Son by his Spirit, the God who has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures, the God who has himself come to us in Jesus Christ and displayed his unimaginably great love for us on the cross. That’s why Christian theology is so exciting, it’s not a matter of trying to bend our minds around some philosophical construct – it’s about knowing this God! And Christian theology is transformative: as we dive deeper into knowing the true and living God, he grips not only our minds, but our hearts too – how could knowing him more not lead us to love him more, since he is lovely?! And then theology becomes very practical: as Jesus taught, when we love him, we will obey his commands (John 14:15).”
With all of this in mind please continue to do good theology, grow in your knowledge of God, and be filled with joy. Never forget of all of the people on the face of the earth, my Christian friend, it is you who should be most joyful!
Last evening in a group discussion a question arose concerning the Holy Spirit's role in the Old Testament era. Because of this discussion I thought it might be helpful to post a short portion of A.W. Pink's book, The Holy Spirit, in which he offers some useful insights on this important (and oft misunderstood) subject.
"The Holy Spirit During the Old Testament Ages"
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Arthur Walkington Pink was born in Great Britain on April 1, 1886 and died on July 15, 1952. After spending a portion of his young adulthood as an unbeliever and member of an occult-society he was converted to Christianity and immigrated to the U.S. to study at Moody Bible Institute. Eventually he would go on to pastor churches in Colorado, California, Kentucky, and South Carolina before becoming an itinerant Bible teacher in 1919. From 1925-1927 he Pastored in Sydney, Australia then went to visit his hometown of Nottingham, England before returning to the U.S. He returned to his native land in 1934, taking up residence on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, in 1940, and remained there until his death. Most of his works first appeared as articles in Studies in Scriptures, a monthly magazine concerned solely with the exposition of Scripture.
According to his biographer: "Pink was virtually unknown and certainly unappreciated in his day. Independent Bible study convinced him that much of modern evangelism was defective. When Puritan and reformed books were generally disregarded by the Church as a whole, he advanced the majority of their principles with untiring zeal. The progressive spiritual decline of his own nation (Britain) was to him the inevitable consequence of the prevalence of a 'gospel' that could neither wound (with conviction of sin) nor heal (via regeneration)."
Pink was a prolific author and most of his work is now available free online.
"Same-sex marriage is in the news a lot lately. Where do you stand on this issue?"
"I am very much against the issue of same-sex marriage. Here are two basic reasons why I am against it:
1) We didn't create it, we can't redefine it.
2) God created it, God sets the rules for it.
In the meantime, if you are a Christian troubled by todays ruling and concerned about its implications for religious liberty and free-speech, please take comfort in the following facts:
1) Homosexuals are not our enemies - they are people who are lost and need the transformative gospel of Jesus Christ.
2) Regardless of the dictates of the governments of man, Christ is still on the throne and the good news is still true.
3) Agreeing with God's is always the right thing to do - especially when it is difficult to do so.
4) Always remember that Jesus wins (see Psalm 2). At the end of the game all of the pieces will put back in the box and only Christ and His people will stand victorious.
allow me to explain the answers I gave above:
1) We didn't create it, we can't redefine it.
Why is this?
This is because real marriage (unlike same-sex marriage) is most assuredly NOT a manmade institution or a societal construct, it is an institution very obviously imposed upon mankind from an outside source. Proof of this is that marriage is hemmed in with very obvious biological, anatomical, and psychological (not to mention theological) parameters.
A pastor would argue that these marital-parameters were given by God. An evolutionary biologist might argue that these parameters were given by nature. Either way though we are both agreed that the parameters are there. They exist. They are facts. They are beyond our control. They are unaffected by our feelings, preferences, desires, wishes, wants, and yearnings. They are unalterably bound-up in the concept of marriage. Since same-sex marriage has no such parameter and is little more than a societal construct it does not qualify as “marriage” in any way shape or form.
Politicians might pass legislation that will change how our society is permitted to use the word “marriage.” Justices might pronounce judgments changing the legal definition of the word “marriage.” But these are merely linguistic games that cannot change the institution of marriage any more than they can change the biological, anatomical, psychological and theological parameters that surround it.
2) God created it, God sets the rules for it.
Here are some scripture references that might help you understand why I, along with any Christian who takes the Bible seriously, cannot affirm the practice of homosexuality let alone support the concept of same-sex “marriage”
1.) Marriage has been given by God as a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride the church (Ephesians 5:32). This is yet one more proof that God has set the institution up in a very particular way and for a very particular purpose and therefore we have no real authority to redefine or recreate it.
2.) Homosexual behavior is strictly prohibited in both the Old and New Testaments (Lev. 18:22-24, Lev. 20:13, I Cor. 6:9-20, I Tim 1:10) as being contrary to God’s design in creation.
3.) Homosexuality along with all other forms of sexual immorality is always represented as intrinsically sinful behavior that provokes the wrath of God (Rom.1:26-28) and dehumanizes its participants.
4.) Scripture clearly shows that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. (Gen.2:22-24, Matt. 19:5-6).
5.) Homosexuals (like all of the rest of us) though sinners are NOT beyond the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (I Cor 6:9-11 – please note the implications of the phrase “such were some of you” in v.11). Christians who, in the name of love or tolerance, support same-sex marriage are simply affirming homosexuals in their sin. Furthermore, they have embraced a very troubling philosophy – namely, that whoever the gospel is for, it certainly isn’t for the sexually immoral.
Yet, as startling as all of this might be, the Bible clearly deals with each and every one of these perversions. It remains unswerving in celebrating God’s created institution of a one-man one-woman marriage, which is also profoundly iconic of the Church as the bridegroom of Christ. The challenge, of course, is that many Christians are trying to undermine the authority of Scripture in the name of love, holding that its bigotry and unbiblical not to let people who really love each other get married. But no matter how hard they press or how slyly they appeal to emotion rather than truth, one cannot make a square into a circle. Marriage has meant one thing from the beginning of creation. Efforts to redefine it are actually efforts to recreate it and all of society with it.
Now, as ever, faithful Christians must be intentional about teaching our children what marriage is, what family is and how family remains the stabilizing force of every society. That’s common sense. But it’s important we do so from a positive position. Namely, that we are people who are for something—traditional marriages, families with a mom and dad, compassionate parenting, etc.—rather than people who are simply against something—homosexuality, same-sex marriage, homosexual adoption, etc.
Taking a stand for the family will teach our children to embrace what is good, rather than simply fear what is bad. It will also do much to neutralize the claims that Christians are anti-love bigots. Being for the family offers a much broader platform to stand upon and gives us much to celebrate during these challenging times.
Take 2 minutes to listen to Stephen Olford's challenge to all Christians.
(born Vincent Damon Furnier, February 4, 1948) American musician, actor, DJ, and self proclaimed recent convert to Christianity.
G.K. Chesterton (May 29, 1874 - June 14, 1936)
G.K. Chesterton has done more to shape my worldview than any other Christian writer. Had I never stumbled across his books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man I never would have learned that the Christian faith is a thing of great depth - a thing for thinking men and women to wrestle with and devote their minds to. Yes, I believe that the Christian faith is also a thing that even a small child to grasp. Nevertheless, its seeming simplicity is not an excuse for Christians who would remain simpletons.
Since Chesterton was a Roman Catholic there was/is much that he and I would disagree on, nevertheless, the way in which he explains the superiority of the Christian worldview over against all other world views is something for Protestants and Catholics alike to ponder and delight in.
Happy Birthday Mr. Chesterton. I look forward to meeting you in heaven... we have much to discuss.
English writer, theologian, poet, philosopher,orator, literary and art critic, apologist, and Christian.
(May 21, 1688-May 30, 1744) English poet, translator, satirist, and Christian.
"The Hidden Line"
Here's a little food for thought....
There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and his wrath.
To pass that limit is to die–
To die as if by stealth;
It does not quench the beaming eye
Or pale the glow of health.
The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirit lithe and gay;
That which pleases still may please,
And care be thrust away
But on that forehead God has set,
Indelibly a mark
Unseen by men, for men as yet
Are blind and in the dark
And yet doomed man’s path below
May bloom as Eden bloomed;
He did not, does not, will not know,
Or feel that he is doomed
He knows, he feels that all is well,
And every fear is calmed;
He lives, he dies, he wakes in hell,
Not only doomed, but damned.
Oh, where is this mysterious bourn
By which our path is crossed;
Beyond which God himself hath sworn,
That he who goes is lost.
How far may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?
An answer from the skies is sent,
"Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart."
- Joseph Addison Alexander -
Rev. Joseph Addison Alexander, (April 24, 1809 - January 28, 1860) was a Presbyterian minister, biblical scholar, theological professor, author, and poet.
Since "the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards" (as J.R.R. Tolkien aptly put it in one of his books) let's note what Alexander's well-known colleague, Charles Hodge, had to say about him:
"I regard Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander as incomparably the greatest man I ever knew - as incomparably the greatest man our church has ever produced. His thorough orthodoxy, his fervent piety, humility, faithfulness in the discharge of his duties, and reverence for the Word of God, consecrated all his other gifts. He glorified the Word of God in the sight of his pupils beyond what any man I ever saw had the power of doing."
Rev. R Crabtree
"...a son, a husband, a father of 6, a friend, a Presbyterian
(not the liberal kind), an eccentric, and a minister of the gospel... I am also the Pastor of All Souls Church and a Professor of Religious Studies at OCBC."
All Souls Church
Attributes Of God
Irenaeus Of Lyons
Journey Of Faith
Means Of Grace
Order Of Salvation
Westminster Confession Of Faith