Tuesday, December 14, 2010


During my message this past Sunday morning, I shared some thoughts I had on the word "enslaved" in Galatians 4:3.  The root of the word is "doulos" often translated "servant" in English.  But I have known for some time there are other Greek words meaning "servant" and the best translation of  "doulos" is "slave".  Paul repeatedly refers to himself as the "slave of Christ".  In English, there is quite a difference in meaning when you compare "servant" to "slave". 

My thinking on "doulos" has been supported in my reading of earlier Christian authors and preachers.  English preachers such as Spurgeon will translate the word as "bond slave".  Augustine refers to Christians as "slaves of Christ".  There are many examples of such usage by a variety of authors, too many to list in a simple post. 

Then, a few years ago, I chose to use the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) for my daily Bible readings.  I was blown away when I read its translation of the New Testament and saw "doulos" consistently translated "slave"! 

In Galatians 4:3, Paul explains how, prior to Christ, we were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  We were in bondage!  Reformed folks frequently describe the depravity of man by noting that apart from Christ we are in "bondage to sin", a phrase using the imagery of slavery.  Yet, for some reason, we do not press the usage of the word bondage and the concept of slavery when we think of our position in Christ.  Why is that?  Did He not buy us with a price?  Are we not His peculiar possession?  Do we not call Him Lord (which means "master")? 

Yes, over the past couple of years I have become convinced we need to speak and write more on the subject of our "slavery to Christ".  We are not simply His servants; we are truly His slaves!  We are not free to our lives how we want and call ourself Christian.  No, we are to live our lives as He demands!

By the Providence of God, a book from Thomas Nelson publishers arrived at my home yesterday.  I am a "blogger" reviewer.  I chose this book as the next one I wanted to review simply for one reason:  it is written by John MacArthur.  I knew the title was "Slave" but assumed Dr. MacArthur was writing on the Bible and the subject of physical slavery perhaps from a historical perspective.  Needless to say, I was blown away today when I opened the first chapter and read:

"Yet, the Bible uses one metaphor more frequently than any of these.  It is a word picture you might not expect, but it is absolutely critical for understanding what it means to follow Jesus.  It is the image of a slave." (page 12)

Sure enough, Dr. MacArthur is writing on the Biblical usage of the word "doulos" and how it should be translated "slave" and what that image should teach us about living as a Christian.  Forget the "healthy, wealthy, and wise" preachers.  The Bible tells us we are to live in Christ as a slave.

Now that's radical!

I'm grateful God has put this book into my hands at this moment.  In two days I will be on my December vacation and one of my objectives is to devour this book and to seek the Lord to help me better understand how I should live not simply as a Christian but as a slave of Christ.

May He be praised!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"5 Cities that Ruled the World": A Book Review

“5 Cities that Ruled the World: How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York shaped Global History” by Douglas Wilson briefly examines the history of these cities. Mr. Wilson presents the significance of each city on world history in general and the city’s impact on the West in particular.  Mr. Wilson approaches the history from the perspective of a Christian, noting the hand of God in the rise (and fall) of these metropolitan areas.

At the outset I must confess I struggled reading this book. The Introduction grabbed my attention and I was ready to charge into the meat of the work. But something happened when I entered the first chapter on the city of Jerusalem. I felt like I was trying to walk from one side of a swimming pool to another in four feet of water. It was a very, very, slow read.

As a result, I put the book aside not for a few hours or a few days but for several months. Something inside of me did not want to pick it back up and read another word. But, I finally did and I am grateful I pressed forward. After a few more difficult pages in the Jerusalem chapter, suddenly the book seemed to open up and my reading pace picked up speed. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I completed the book in only a matter of days.

I’m not sure why I struggled with the early part of the work but overall I found Mr. Wilson’s book enjoyable, informative, and even inspirational. The book contains 236 pages and 14 of them are footnotes. When you read the book, do not skip the footnotes. They contain wealth of information as well.

“5 Cities that Ruled the World” is an interesting work and I encourage you to pick it up and press on when you feel as though you cannot read another word. Your diligence will be well rewarded.

I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book for review. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saved By Faith Youth Challenge (SBFYC 2011)

Check out the SBFYC site here for next year's conference info.

Conference #25:  Paul Washer is speaking. 

Mark your calendars and save your money!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The Prayer of the Lord": A Book Review

It is probably safe to say that Christians who read contemporary literature of any depth or worth are familiar with the name of R. C. Sproul.  Dr. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries, is a well known author as well as a well known speaker in Christian circles.  Many, including myself, recognize his writing not only as bringing glory to our Lord Jesus Christ but also nourishing our souls.  "The Prayer of the Lord" is no exception.

This particular work focuses on what we commonly know as "The Lord's Prayer".  It recognizes the prayer to be a model for the prayers of all believers, an example for us on how to prayer.  The prayer was given by our Lord in response to a request from His discisples to teach them how to pray.

The book is a mere 130 pages (including indices) but is loaded with a wealth of practical advice.  There are 10 chapters, 8 of them focusing on the actual phrases of the prayer (e.g., "Hallowed Be Your Name").  Dr. Sproul begins the book by discussing what prayer is not to be  since that is where the Lord began his response to His own disciples.  The 10th and final chapter are questions and answers on the matter of prayer.

Here are some samples from this work:

"You should remember who is being addressed and who is doing the speaking.  That is, the first thing you are to remember in prayer is who it is you're talking to, because nothing will condition your prayer life more deeply than remembering that you're in conversation with God, the sovereign Creator and Ruler of the universe.  Second, you are to remember who you are.  You are not God.  You are a creature.  So prayer is not a conversation between peers; it is not a fireside chat among equals.  This is the creature speaking to his sovereign Creator." 

"Thus, far from teaching the universal fatherhood of God, the Bible teaches the particular fatherhood of God.  Therefore, to call God 'Father' in the New Testament sense of the word, in the sense of the word the way the church expresses it as the family of God, is to affirm the very uniqueness of Christianity. ...The brotherhood of which the New Testament speaks is the brotherhood or sisterhood of fellowship enjoyed by all those who are adopted into the family of God and who are in Christ. ... Not all men are my brothers, only those who are in Christ.  However, all men are my neighbors, and I am required by God to treat these people as I would expect them to treat me.  I am required to love my neighbor as much as I love myself.  Jesus made it clear that the neighborhood is not restricted to the brotherhood."

"...come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day.  We are not given license to ask for great riches, but we are encouraged to make our needs known to Him, trusting that He will provide."

"Jesus taught His disciples that their prayers should be centered on the glory of God, and it is only after we spend time praising on the glory of God, and it is only after we spend time praising and adoring Him that we should shift to focusing on our needs..."

"We may come to God and speak to Him in these terms of personal intimacy, in a familial way, for we are part of His family.  However, we must keep the rest of the character of God in mind.  We must always remember that this One whom we address as Father is holy."

Yes, I loved the book.  Get it.  Read it.  Learn from it. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Finally Alive": A Book Review

The subtitle of this book is "What Happens When We Are Born Again" and that tells the reader exactly what the book is about.  The Table of Contents reveals a work of 203 pages in length consisting of 15 chapters (plus a conclusion) divided into 5 sections.  To get a flavor of Dr. Piper's book, here at the titles of those 5 sections:

I.  What Is The New Birth?
II.  Why Must We Be Born Again?
III.  How Does The New Birth Come About?
IV.  What Are The Effects Of The New Birth?
V.  How Can We Help Others Be Born Again?

John Piper is always easy to read even when he is dealing with a profound theological subject such as regeneration.  This book is loaded with Scripture and is an outstanding modern work on the new birth, one many who are sitting in church pews on Sundays need to read.  Note the following remarks of Piper early in the book:

"I want to say loud and clear that when the Barna Group uses the term born again to describe American church-goers whose lives are indistinguishable from the world, and who sin as much as the world, and sacrifice for others as little as the world, and embrace injustice as readily as the world, and covet things as greedily as the world, and enjoy God-ignoring entertainment as enthusiastically as the world--when the term born again is used to describe these professing Christians, the Barna Group is making a profound mistake."

Dr. Piper then plunges into the Scripture and reveals the divine creation of spiritual life.  Such life is necessary for, by nature, we are spiritually dead, enslaved to sin and Satan.  Faith in Christ is demanded but, apart from a supernatural work by the Holy Spirit, faith is absent.  We need to be born again.  Once we are born again, faith follows leading to justification, adoption, and glorification. 

John Piper is Reformed in his theology and that is evident in this book.  The ordo salutis he presents clearly places the new birth before faith, regeneration before conversion.  Yet, as those who read Piper already know, he is very evangelistic.  The last 2 chapters, which comprise the 5th section of the book, clearly bring this fact to the light.  For example, he writes:

"God's role in bringing about the new birth is decisive, and our role in bringing about the new birth is essential. ... Tell people the good news of Christ from a heart of love and a life of service. ... If people are to be born again, it will happen by hearing the word of God, centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They will be 'born again through the living and abiding word of God...the Gospel.'  God's work and your work come together like this: 

  • "God causes the new birth through the seed of the word, the gospel.
  • "God brings about the new birth through your telling people the gospel.
  • "God regenerates people through the news about who Christ is and what he has done on the cross and in the resurrection.
  • "God gives new life to dead hearts through your words when you speak the gospel."

This book is a solid explanation of the doctrine of regeneration.  It is very readable even for those with little theological understanding.  I strongly recommend "Finally Alive".

"Divorce & Remarriage: A Permanence View": A Book Review

This work is published by Christian Communicators Worldwide, written by Daryl Wingard, Jim Elliff, Jim Chrisman, and Steve Burchett.  As the title states, the book deals with the often debated topic of divorce plus the follow on subject of remarriage.  Rather than simply sharing their opinions on the matter, they tackle this difficult yet commonplace aspect of our society using the Scripture and straightforward reasoning.

Based on conversations I have had with many professing Christians, the authors' conclusions are not going to be welcomed by many.  Most modern day expositors teach at least 2 Biblical exceptions to the permanence view of marriage, namely, adultery and abandonment.  However, these godly authors attack these exceptions with God's Word clearly and carefully.  Here is a brief sample: 

"...there is no text of Scripture that conclusively proves that God permits divorce in cases of adultery, while several passages prohibit divorce categorically. ... Matthew 19:9 is, at best, inconclusive on the subject of remarriage after divorce, and in Matthew 5:32 Jesus clearly prohibits remarriage after divorce, even for the innocent spouse, by specifying that though she was not guilty of adultery prior to the divorce, she commits adultery when she remarries."

The authors summarize their understanding of the teaching of Scripture on marriage, divorce, and remarriage at the very beginning of the book:

1.  The one-flesh union created in marriage is permanent until death.
2.  Initiating a divorce is never lawful.
3.  Remarrying after divorce is an act of adultery if a former spouse is living.

Part 1 of the book examines the Biblical texts on the subject.  Part 2 of the book discusses applications of their conclusions.  The second part is extremely valuable since it contains answers to many of the situations which often confront pastors in their ministry to troubled marriages (or second marriages).

I suspect many will disagree with their conclusions.  Those who do, however, must provide a more convincing interpretation of the Scriptural passages examined by this work.  Opinion, pragmitism, and philosophical arguments will not suffice.  The authors have based their conclusions on Scripture.  Those opposed must do likewise.

Personally, I enjoyed reading the work.  My own view on this matter has undergone considerable change over the past couple of years thanks, in part, to the work of John Piper.  Basically, I came to the same conclusions as the authors roughly a year ago.  Their work confirms my view on marriage.

I do remain in disagreement with the book's position on the matter of divorce as it relates to the qualifications for a pastor.  The authors conclude that those men who have divorced their wives and remarried remain qualified for the pastorate.  They provide their arguments for their position in the "application" section near the end of the book.  However, I am not yet convinced of their position and the interpretation they are giving to the 1 Timothy 3 passage.

Though I disagree with their position on pastoral qualifications, I support the remainder of their book. I highly recommend it to others, especially those who are still struggling with the subject of divorce and remarriage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I am not a legalist. The Bible clearly reveals that a saving relationship with God is received only by faith in Christ and not by any works which we may do. We cannot keep the law perfectly and keeping it only occasionally will never earn us anything but wrath!

I am not a legalist. Once God has caused us to be born again by the regenerating power of His Spirit and we have repented of our sins and trusted Christ for salvation, we do not keep that salvation by obeying God’s commands. Again, we continue to fail from time to time even after we are saved. Keeping us in a “saving” relationship with Christ is also the work of God. It is He who preserves us and our salvation to the end.

BUT, the Bible does teach that those who have been born again will keep God’s commandments. In other words, our desire has now changed and we long to be obedient, not because it earns or keeps our salvation but because we have been born again. Our new spiritual nature, received at our new birth, guides us to do good works and to obey the Word of God.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” said our Lord in John 14:15.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” writes the Apostle John in 1 John 5:1-2. Evidence of one’s new birth is his love for God and his obedience to God’s commandments.

Throughout Scripture, God has called His children to set aside a day to remember Him. God wants us to join together with other brothers and sisters on that day and worship Him. According to the New Testament, the principal day for a church (brothers and sisters in Christ) to worship together is the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, our Sunday.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” the author of Hebrews records in 10:24-25. The Lord desires His children, His church, to meet together and not to neglect such meetings. In other words, He wants us worshiping Him with our church on the Lord’s Day.

But what are we teaching our children about our love of God, our love of our fellow believers, our love of our church, and our love of worship? Are we telling them and showing them that the worship of God with the church on the Lord’s Day is important and necessary?

A very noticeable trend has been developing over the past couple of decades. With their lips many believers are telling their children of the importance of worshiping God on the Lord’s Day with the church. But they are teaching them something entirely different with their lives. Essentially, their lives are saying, “Yes, worshiping God with our church family on Sunday is our #1 priority for the day UNLESS you have to participate in a sporting activity or attend some school activity or go fishing with someone, etc.”

Sports have probably been the most significant culprit in this trend. Parents and their children have elevated the importance of sports above the importance of God. Those individuals who have children presently engaged in sports are likely screaming “No” even as they read this. But face facts, folks. When you pull your child away from the worship of the Lord on Sunday morning to permit them to participate in a voluntary activity such as baseball, football, soccer, or any other sport, you are teaching them the sporting event is more important than the worship of God. If you did not believe so you would not let them participate in the activity.

Look at it from another angle. If you were to tell your child they are going to have to miss worship service in order to participate in a sporting event, almost without exception the child will NOT be disappointed (and you probably aren’t either). But tell that child they must miss the sporting event to participate in the worship of God and see who gets upset! Now tell me which is more important in their life, God or sports? The fact they become upset reveals which “god” they love the most. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

I can’t fault sports alone. In today’s culture, the school system seems to find new ways to pull families out of church on the Lord’s Day. “We have to be at Busch Stadium by 11:30 in order to prepare to play the National Anthem so we can’t make church today.” Why can’t they play the anthem any other day of the week? “We have such and such event out of town this Sunday so we will miss church.” Why is the event not held on Friday and Saturday only? Even some schools now have their graduation services on the Lord’s Day.

When we parents yield to the demands of athletic teams, school systems, and other organizations and allow our children to “skip” church in lieu of whatever the activity may be, we are teaching them this event is more important than the worship of God. In fact, we are telling them this event is our god.

Again, I am not a legalist. There are some professions which demand individuals work on Sunday mornings. Medical personnel are needed on the Lord’s Day. Businesses sometimes require operating on Sundays. I, myself, have had to work on the Lord’s Day and miss worship services on a few occasions over the years. Why, even families taking a vacation will miss Sunday worship from time to time. Missing the Lord’s Day worship is not necessarily wrong or evil. Sometimes it is unavoidable. This is not what I am talking about.

Parents, you have authority over your children. If you are permitting them to participate in activities which draw them away from their worship of God then you are, like it or not, teaching them that activity, no matter what it is, is more important than God. Period.

Those parents who are, in fact, engaged in such “education” are probably thinking they are stuck. They have a child who, for example, loves football. He plays for a football team in some local organization and some of their games are Sunday mornings. What can you do?

You can do plenty. You can teach your child the importance of being with their church on the Lord’s Day worshiping God by telling them they will not participate in any sporting event (or other activity) which requires them to “skip” the service. “But the team is counting on them.” Well, before the season begins, have a discussion with the coach and tell him your child will not play on Sundays. Tell your child this as well. Set the ground rules up front. We do not miss worshiping the Lord on Sunday mornings for sporting events. Find another league which does not schedule games on Sunday mornings. If enough Christians “stuck to their guns” on the issue of Sunday activities, the organizations would be more likely to eliminate those Sunday activities.

I am not a legalist. As a pastor, I do not keep a record of who is at church and who is away at some sporting event. Skipping worship services for sporting events or other activities does not cost you your salvation. But it is teaching your child a very dangerous lesson. Which “god” do you want your child to serve when they get older?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Congregational Church Government

Let me immediately say this post has nothing to do with "eldership" and church polity.  I realize the concept of "ruling elders" is very prevalent in Baptist circles these days but that discussion is for another day, at least on this forum. 

Baptists have practiced a congregational form of church government (congregational polity) for years.  They have done so based on their conviction this is the form of polity taught in the Scripture.  Both the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message promote congregational polity.

"This church is an autonomous body operating through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  In such a congregation, members are equally responsible." (1963 BF&M)

"Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes.  In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord." (2000 BF&M)

Congregational polity means each member of a given local church has both responsibility and accountability in the affairs of the church.  No one individual or group directs the affairs of the church.  Rather, each and every member, operating as a servant of Christ, has a voice in the working of the church.

Baptists, of course, do not receive everyone who comes to a church as a member.  Baptists teach that only regenerated (born again) and Scripturally baptized individuals may be members.  Therefore, the members of a local church are brothers and sisters in Christ, each a servant of our Lord, and each a possessor of the Holy Spirit.

So, if you are born again, baptized by immersion, and a member of a local church, you have the privilege, responsibility, and accountability to seek the Spirit and voice your say in the affairs of your church's government.  You have an equal vote with every other member in the congregation, including the deacons and the pastor.

Well, maybe not...

There are many churches which say they support this view of church government but they do not practice this form of church government.  Oh, most members get to vote on every issue that comes before the church; but not all.  If God has graciously saved you and you have been Scripturally baptized and have united with a local church BUT are a child or youth, you may be excluded from some votes arising before the church.  Why?  Because you are "too young" to understand the issue facing the church.  "You would simply vote as your parents instruct you to vote and we can't have that."

Now, I confess, there are issues which come before every church in which younger members probably have no clue what the issue is about or how they should vote.  But I also have seen adults struggle in understanding some of these same issues.  Yet, no one denies them their vote.

I have seen children and youth who have been saved for several years and have more spiritual wisdom than some adults who have been saved for decades.  Yet, they cannot vote due to their physical age.  I have seen adults, lost for many, many years, saved, baptized, and voting as a church member within a month of their salvation yet youth, saved for over 10 years, denied their privilege, responsibility, and accountability to vote. 

No, I say if we truly believe Scripture teaches congregational polity then let us practice congregational polity.  Let each MEMBER seek their Lord and the guidance of the indwelling Spirit when confronted with a church matter and then express their conclusion by voting in church business. 

Let us trust the Lord to speak to those true converts who do not understand a specific matter and instruct them not to vote on specific issues due to their lack of spiritual wisdom.  Let us teach parents to exercise their right and responsibility when it comes to their children, who are members, and to either give their children the information they need to make a wise decision OR to instruct their children not to vote on a specific matter. 

If we set church guidelines which prevent members who are children, youth, mentally challenged, or senile senior adults from having a say in the governing of the church then we no longer practice congregationalism.  Rather, we are teaching a form of church government that is less than congregational, more than elder led, but, most likely, not Biblical.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The Truth of the Cross": A Book Review

One of the benefits of attending this year’s “Together for the Gospel” meeting in Louisville was receiving many FREE books. Among these “friends” was a small gem (167 pages), “The Truth of the Cross” by R. C. Sproul. 

Dr. Sproul beautifully presents the meaning, significance, and purpose of the cross according to the Scripture and he does so in an easy to read, enjoyable way. As is typical in his writings, this work includes great illustrations both from the author’s own life as well as from history. For example, to introduce a discussion on the vicarious atonement, Dr. Sproul recalls his attendance at the deciding game of the NBA Eastern Conference championship between Orlando and Indiana. He brings his illustration to a close in this way:

…if we like the outcome, we have a tendency to say, “We won.” We identify so closely with our favorite teams that when they’re victorious we include ourselves in the victory. …This is what is known as a vicarious experience.
But the book is not simply a collection of personal illustrations. It is loaded with Biblical truth and solid application. Early in the book, Dr. Sproul discusses people in general and the subject of the atonement.

…I came to the conclusion that people are not concerned about an atonement. They are basically convinced they have no need for it. They aren’t asking: “How can I be reconciled to God? How can I escape the judgment of God?” If anything has been lost from our culture, it is the idea that human beings are privately, personally, individually, ultimately, inexorably accountable to God for their lives.”
Or, here is another classic paragraph from this work on the matter of justification:

The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.
“The Truth of the Cross” opens with a description of mankind’s condition. It moves to a discussion of the person of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. With a firm Biblical understanding of man and of Christ, Dr. Sproul then uses the Scripture to explain the nature and purpose of the atonement. And he does all this clearly and concisely.

I strongly recommend reading this book. Those who do not know Christ will be presented with the truth of their condition and their need for the atoning work of Jesus. Those who are believers will be encouraged and strengthened in the faith by what they read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A General Statement on Comments to this BLOG

Originally I permitted anyone's comments to this blog at any time.  But, after some comments using very foul language were posted, I decided I needed to moderate all such requests.  So, when you try to comment on any article on this post, I receive the comment first in my e-mail and then decide whether to permit or prohibit it from being posted.

I have no issues posting comments which disagree with anything I am saying.  But I will NOT post comments which contain profane language or blasphemes my Lord.  You can take your vile words elsewhere.

I also will NOT post comments which I can not read.  Repeatedly I have had "anonymous" bloggers attempt to comment in Asian languages.  I speak English and all posts to this blog will be in English.  If you do not like that, go to some other blog.  If I can't read every word of your comment, I will not post it.  Actually, I believe many of these posts contain spam or a virus, another reason I will not post.

It's my blog and those are my rules.  If you don't like them, start your own blog.

Friday, July 2, 2010

And the Hate Goes On ...

Yesterday I received another e-mail from the author I mentioned in my previous post.  They were very upset that I published that e-mail since it was written privately to me.  I don't believe I did another wrong by publishing the portions I did since I removed everything which might identify the author.  Furthermore, in my blog post I used that e-mail as a means of an example of the hatred we are seeing in our nation.  There was nothing in the original e-mail requesting me not to publish any portions of it.

In the latest two e-mails from this individual, there are paragraphs which read like one of those blurbs you hear when you  listen to sports broadcasts:  "The events and transcriptions...without express written consent."  When it comes to e-mails I'm not sure that holds any legal grounds or not.  Nevertheless, the author request I not share THEIR words so I won't.

Rather, I will share MY reply to this author.  I responded by returning the author's note with my comments following various remarks they had made.  Each bullet which follows contains MY reply on a specific section of the original e-mail.  Those parts of my reply which may have identified the author have been replaced by "%%%".  Also, my final paragraph is short two sentences (noted by "...") to protect the author's identity.

  • Your anonymity is intact. No one knows the author of the e-mail other than me. I'm sure you don't want others to know who wrote it and I will never tell.
  • would you delineate what my demons are?
  • again, what is my skewed vision? Is it a belief in God? Is it a belief in absolute truth?
  • if you read my blog post you know I shared PARTS to protect your identity and I shared the rest to provide an example to my readers of the type of anomisity in this country.
  • I am glad you can dump your anger on me rather than someone else. So my God is not your god. Do you have "a god"? What does "he" believe and teach?
  • You really don't know me, do you? Read your own words. Talk about an unhappy person.
  • Who else are you including, %%%?
  • What type of help should I seek? Do you have the answers, %%%?
  • %%%, I truly believe you need to read the words you have written in these past e-mails. The anger and hatred is coming from you, not me. I am not mad or angry with you. In fact, I feel very sorry and concerned for you. Your outward smile and demeanor is hiding a TON of bitterness and anger and perhaps a good helping of pride. You really do not know me at all.
  • so you are saying I am part of a larger group of "haters of the world". What makes one a part of this group? 
  • ministers don't understand the human brain and psyche, I guess
  • "I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the Life" said Jesus in John 14:6. I know where the truth is. "Psychiatric professional". Are you saying ministers who believe and teach as I do are crazy and have mental problems? Do you believe those who teach in the power of a resurrected Savior are out of their minds? IF so, %%%, I truly, truly pity you. The greatest blessing in my life occurred on the day I met my Lord and Savior. 
  • I am enjoying life immensely, thanks for asking. I don't hate despite what you say. Sometimes people are pitted against one another when worldviews clash. And would you provide examples of where I have spread filth?
  • Are you referring to mental health, physical health, or both? %%%, you need to be concerned for your soul. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
  • should I read fat and lazy at this point? 
  • I am very glad, %%%, you keep yourself in great physical shape. That is a quality worthy of repetition. I admit I have never been in great physical shape. I watch what I eat but do eat items I shouldn't from time to time. I do walk 2-3 miles 3 or 4 times a week but maybe I should do more for my physical being. BUT, %%%, no matter how well you take care of your body, one day IT WILL DIE! Then what? Are you taking as good a care of your soul? Based on what you have written I will say no. I guess it is ok for you to lecture me on my health (physical and mental) but off limits for me to "lecture" you on the condition of your soul. Now I understand the ground rules.
  • What advice can I give to you? All I have is the advice of the Bible: Repent of your sins today and trust Christ for salvation. 
  • I am not ashamed of what I have written. You may forward my responses to anyone you wish. But obviously, you want no one to know the anger and hatred you have in your heart and the lost condition of your soul. As I said above, NO ONE, not even Debbie, knows who wrote the e-mail. I went to great care in my post to remove all traces of its authorship. When Debbie read the e-mails, she read the edited version I ultimately posted, not your original. Actually, by removing those parts of the e-mail which might identify you, I removed some of the hatred and anger you poured out on me in the original post. I will NEVER tell anyone who wrote those e-mails because I would not want to embarrass you by doing so.
  • "Horrible family". Wow! So the hatred goes beyond me. Does it include %%%? Probably, since %%% has a faith in God. How about %%%? … %%%, you have always had the great smile and love of life. Now I realize that outward appearance is actually covering a very bitter, angry, and lost soul. I will pray for you for there is nothing else I can do.
I believe I can summarize by saying I was charged with demons, being overweight and out of shape (guilty), spreading hate, needing professional help with my mental state, and hating life (hey, let's all sing:  "I like life.  Life likes me...").  The implication is that many of these are common problems for those of us who preach the Gospel (perhaps those who simply believe the Gospel).  Oh, and in my case, the problem goes beyond me to my extended family.

You will see in my response numerous questions, some of which I truly hoped I would receive an answer.  Nope. No answer.  I did receive another e-mail (again with the paragraph telling me I can't quote any of it) but this e-mail indicated the author didn't bother to read my response and had no intentions of continuing our communication exchanges.  The note ended reminding me that this author of hate was put on this earth to bring peace.  What a shame it is when someone becomes so bitter they will not even read a note written specifically for them.

I will continue to pray for their soul because it contains a wealth of anger, hatred, and bitterness, especially directed towards those who believe in God and minister in His name.  Furthermore, I will pray for the great number of other individuals in our country who have the same hatred in their hearts.  May God forgive them and remove their bitterness through the power of His Son.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Response to Hate Mail

After much prayer and reflection, I have decided to post this entry to my blog. I do so in the hope some sinner will find Christ and some saint will be exhorted and encouraged.

The following e-mail exchange took place last week between me and another. Here is the extent of the correspondence. My comments will follow. The actual e-mails are given in bold font except for the removal of a couple of sentences. These removals are noted by the ellipses (…) and were deleted to preserve the anonymity of the e-mail author.

First, the note I received from the unnamed party:

you know I have to say, I've never met a minister, pastor, priest, "man of God" who spewed some much hate and dissension against others as I have with you. … You have indirectly taught me that religion is nothing more than a means to spread hate, point fingers, belittle others, start wars, call for deaths, and eliminate or otherwise ostracize those people who do not believe what we believe.
 What happen to loving, caring, and helping. Big deal that you travel to another state to build a house or clean a yard. What about your neighbors and what would some of those people say/think whom you are "helping" if they knew about these hateful, etc comments you make.

I don't want anything to do with the hate that goes around this country/world. I want only to help others regardless of their political, religious, sexual views. That is why I was put on this earth...to bring people together and help them realize their full potential so they can go out and help others as a method of "paying it forward."

No need to respond. I'm sure whatever you have to say will simply be a means to "prove me wrong" to maintain your self worth.

I'm not buying it...

To this note I responded with a 2 sentence note. Here is the first sentence of my reply. The second sentence has been omitted, again, to protect the identity of the other party.

I am sorry you feel that way towards my faith and me personally. …

The unnamed author replied to my reply with the following note:

… Its unfortunate but I can't be surrounded or involved with people who hate and spread these messages to others. There are many bad things and bad people in this world but there are so many good things going on out there and we should be focusing on those things and spreading those stories.

Why go to your death bed knowing that most of your life was spent tearing people a part and sharing the negative side of life, much of it as the "word of God" nonetheless!

That is absolutely not the obituary, eulogy, or legacy I would want to leave behind. You can say all the bad things you want about the political parties or religious organizations that you don't agree with but I would have to venture an educated guess that people such as our current president has done more good in the world than you will ever pass along. Hmmm, something to think about.

I suspect my following comments on this e-mail will never be read by the original author. He has closed his mind to anything I might have to say. Even worse than that, it appears he has closed his mind and heart to the words of the Lord.

But I don’t want those who read this post to spend their time trying to determine who wrote the 2 e-mails. What I want folks to focus on are the words used and what I believe to be the underlying cause for such an attitude. It is not the first time I have encountered such attitudes and I fear the feelings expressed in these exchanges are ever increasing in our nation.

I will limit myself to only a couple of observations. Before I do, however, I need to make a brief personal statement.

Bruce Walker is a sinner, a man conceived in sin and quite flawed. The Lord Jesus Christ dealt with my sin at Calvary and, almost 40 years ago, changed me completely by giving me a rebirth through His Spirit. But, I still sin and will continue to do so. Perhaps I have sinned and committed an offense against someone which prompted these notes. If the author will point out such a sin, I will repent to our Lord and apologize to those against whom I have sinned. But to simply say I “spew” hatred and cause dissension tells me nothing. Even Jesus brought division as he noted in Matthew 10:34-35:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Now on to a few observations.

1. The hate used in these e-mails far surpasses any alleged “hate” I may have used.

The unnamed source makes it very clear he believes things I have said (possibly done) are hateful and cause dissension. What specifically have I said? Since he has not stated his reasons for his conclusion, I must speculate he is unhappy with some of my previous posts on Facebook, blogs, and/or e-mail.

In some I have vigorously defended the Word of God against many of the sins of modern society. I have spoken out against abortion, homosexuality, and other similar sins. I have pointed out what the Bible clearly says about them and the danger facing the individual engaged in them. My intent is to point out the sin and call the sinner to repentance and faith. Apart from turning to Christ, such sinners are doomed to an eternity in Hell. Which is more hateful: not to call out sin and permit the person to continue his march to damnation or to call out the sinner and offer him hope? Many people, such as the e-mail author , believe the world would be better off if folks were left alone and never “offended”. To “offend” them by pointing out their sin is hateful, they believe, and causes dissension.

I have also written against the false view of religious equivalency (i.e., all religions are of equal value and importance). Jesus is very clear that He and He alone is the only way to Heaven. The Muslims are on the wrong path. The Jews are on the wrong path. The Buddhists are on the wrong path. Even the atheists are on the wrong path. Again, which is more hateful: to allow those on the wrong path to continue down that path to their eternal destruction or to point out Jesus’ claim and offer them the true Gospel, namely, the right path to God?

Furthermore, many people believe such religious opinions do nothing but cause dissension. Therefore, to say such things like “Jesus is the only way to salvation” is hateful. Such language should never been used. Better never to discuss religion than to hurt someone’s feelings or to challenge their faith.

Finally, in some posts I have spoken out against the government. I admit the current administration has been a target of many of my posts and they have not been favorable ones. But why do I write in opposition of the government’s actions? Is it because I hate our politicians, especially our President? Absolutely not. This administration, in my opinion, is systematically destroying our nation. They are supporting policies which are contrary to the Word of God (e.g., abortion, homosexuality, and others). Therefore, I will write against any such politician whether they are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Socialist.

But the folks who have the mindset of this unnamed writer do not believe I should dissent with our leaders. Such dissent causes further divisions and promotes hate. Really? Do my remarks concerning our President promote hatred or another point of view which disagrees with those who pronounce my words as hate speech? I am certainly glad no one in our nation has ever dissented against the government before. If they had, we may have seen a Revolutionary War. Oh, that’s right; we DID have such a revolution because our Founders dissented against Great Britain.

The mindset revealed by our unnamed author is naïve at best. Some think the world will be better if no one ever points out the “faults” (read sins) of others or disagrees with anyone else. “Can’t we all just get along?” they ask. To speak out against them or their opinions is to spew hatred and sow the seeds of dissension. Well, I call the author back to his own words:

  • “I don't want anything to do with the hate that goes around this country/world…”
  • “That is why I was put on this earth...to bring people together…”
  • “Its unfortunate but I can't be surrounded or involved with people who hate and spread these messages to others…”
Is the author joking? Does he really take himself seriously? He has written the most hateful words to me I have ever read. They brought a few tears to my own eyes when I first read them. Oh, they were not the tears of repentance for my alleged “hate”, but tears of sorrow for the soul of the individual who wrote them. I noticed my wife’s eyes also had tears when she first read the notes.

Yet our unnamed author believes he was put on the earth to bring people together. He can’t be involved with the hate in the world. I would challenge the author and anyone else who shares his opinions to look at themselves in the mirror and reread the words I received. Where is the real hatred? Nothing I have ever written is as hateful as these e-mails.

2. The hatred expressed has its source in “religion”.

“You have indirectly taught me that religion is nothing more than a means to spread hate, point fingers, belittle others, start wars, call for deaths, and eliminate or otherwise ostracize those people who do not believe what we believe.”

I am not sure when I started wars, called for anyone’s death, or eliminated those who do not share my beliefs. I don’t believe I have spread hate or belittled others. I admit to pointing fingers but I have tried to point those fingers at the sins of men.

Many in our society these days are like my e-mail writer. They hate religion. They believe religion, ultimately, is the root of the evil in the world. Perhaps he believes if we could just stuff a sock in the mouths of those who believe in God, the world will see less hatred, less dissension, less war, less of all kinds of evil. They don’t buy into religion and believe folks who talk about religion, at least in a way which calls sinners to repentance, are spewing hate and dissension.

I truly believe the underlying causes for the venom released by this anonymous author is his hatred of religion, even God. Any “God” who condemns certain actions of others is “bad”, at least if the servants of that “God” point out that condemnation. Individuals who share this belief have a naïve worldview which believes if people would never say nor do anything which would make someone else feel badly then everything in the world would be ok. Of course, true religion and a true understanding of God will NOT yield such a result. Therefore, they do not like anyone who speaks the truth of God.

3. The hatred expressed in these e-mails is indicative of a truly closed mind.

As my friend has written:

“No need to respond. I'm sure whatever you have to say will simply be a means to ‘prove me wrong’ to maintain your self worth.”

I’m told not to write back because anything I try to say would merely be an attempt to prove the author is wrong. By doing so, I somehow “maintain” my self worth. Very clever! The only options left are: (1) say nothing or (2) agree with the author completely.

Well I completely DISAGREE with the author and those who share his philosophy of life. So that rules out option (2). I must confess I did consider option (1). However, the more I reflected on what to do, the more I realized the writer was attacking my faith and, therefore, my Lord. Option (1) must also be dismissed.

Well, my friend, I am not trying to prove you wrong. You are wrong. You are wrong in your statements concerning my character. You are wrong in your assessment of my heart. You are wrong in your approach towards life. You are wrong in the hatred you carry in your heart towards any who minister for Christ and disagree with you. While I am certain you will never listen (or even read) what I have written, my prayer is others who share your misguided approach to life will and come to grips with the sin in their own life: PRIDE.

I will admit I have no “self worth”. I, like all men, including you am a sinner. One of the famous hymns often sung in church refers to a person as a “worm”. That’s how I view myself; a lowly worm worth absolutely nothing.

But I have repented of my sins and put my faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul. He HAS saved me. He is using me. And, based on his Word, I am worth everything because I am a joint heir with Christ who inherits everything!

I don’t have to maintain my self worth. Christ is handling that.

If you wish to discuss this matter further, I will listen (unlike you). If you would like Scripture to support anything I have written here or elsewhere, I will be delighted to provide them.


Monday, April 26, 2010

"What is the Gospel?": A Book Review

I received this short volume (127 pages including appendix) as one of the many books freely distributed at this year's "Together for the Gospel" conference and read it during three brief sessions. The book is a very easy read, however, it is filled with solid, Biblical truth.

The author of this brief treatise, Greg Gilbert, serves with Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. He opens his work by noting various answers to the title's question given by several Christians, some of them evangelical. Quickly readers realize this is a more difficult question to answer than we initially thought. The simple truth is many professing followers of Christ do not have a clear grasp of the basics of the Gospel message. Gilbert wisely observes, "an emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship."

With that, Gilbert is off and running in his effort to answer the question, "What is the Gospel?" Utilizing the Scripture, the author moves from chapter to chapter coving such topics as "God the Righteous Creator", "Man the Sinner", "Jesus Christ the Savior", and "Response--Faith and Repentance". Step by step, he addresses the key elements which comprise the Gospel message. This book is both profound and simple.

If I must find something in these pages to which I may object, perhaps it would be a brief sentence on page 82. Gilbert writes,

"When a person genuinely repents and believes in Christ, the Bible says that he is given new spiritual life."

Unless I am reading that sentence incorrectly, he and I disagree in the ordo salutis (order of salvation). The sentence implies Gilbert believes repentance and faith precede regeneration while I believe Scripture teaches the opposite. On the other hand, perhaps the author intends to say the exercising of repentance and faith indicates the person has been given new spiritual life.

Despite this ambiguity (or disagreement), Greg Gilbert has penned an outstanding theological work which doesn't read like the typical theological work. "What is the Gospel?" is a brilliant yet brief work which I recommend to all Christians who truly desire the answer to the question, "What is the Gospel?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pastor, What Do You Think: Birth Control

I've been receiving various questions from church members as well as students and have been addressing them either verbally or via e-mail. I thought it might be wise to take some of those questions and my responses and create blog posts from them. In this way, others may receive benefit (I hope!) from my response.

Is birth control Biblical?

Let me begin with a clear Biblical statement concerning children:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Let arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)

God is the author of life and I view Him as “pro-child”! Children are not a burden or a curse but a blessing. Those who say “we don’t want kids” because children are “a pain”, “a burden”, “get in the way”, “will ruin our lifestyle”, etc., may wish to practice birth control. But, if they do, they do so for the wrong reasons.

Debbie and I have been blessed with 9 children and I truly mean “blessed”. God has been more than gracious to us in all areas of our lives but especially this one. We love children. If I had to go back and relive our marriage I wouldn’t change a thing when it comes to the number of children we have. Nine was the right number for us. And, yes, we did practice birth control.

The question of birth control and the Bible is frequently raised by believers. This has been the case especially over the past 50 years. Some religious organizations teach only natural birth control if permitted by Scripture while others claim artificial birth control methods are Biblical as well. Some say birth control should never be practiced. Here is my take on this question.

First, the older I get the less I like the terminology used in the question: “birth control”. What is normally meant by the question is not “birth control” but “conception control”. Only those who support the murderous act of abortion practice what could be deemed true “birth control”. So I approach this question from the perspective of regulating the conception of children rather than aborting them once they are conceived.

Certainly the Bible would forbid any form of “birth control” which results in the abortion of the unborn. Therefore, using any birth control technique which kills an unborn child is not supported by Scripture. There are such medications available which do exactly that. They prevent the birth of new children by detaching the fertilized egg from the uterine wall. Such medications and/or practices would be forbidden by Scripture since they result in the death of the unborn.

When it comes to preventing conception, though, the Bible is fairly silent on the matter. The commandment given in Genesis 1:28 is often used as grounds for not practicing birth control.

Be fruitful and multiple and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Clearly the Lord wanted man and woman to give birth and raise children. The use of the words “fruitful”, “multiply”, and “fill” certainly imply more than one child. In the very next chapter, God also says:

It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. … Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (2:18; 24)

This passage, of course, ordains the institution of marriage. A man takes a woman, they unite as one flesh, and children are one result of this new union. It would appear to me, then, if we are going to honor God’s commandment in chapter 1 by not practicing birth control but keep having children then we should honor His words in chapter 2 by requiring all men to take a wife so we can have children. We all need to get married. However, the New Testament makes it clear this is not necessarily the case.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain sing as I am. (1 Corinthians 7:7-8)

Paul desires those not married remain unmarried if at all possible which seems to “fly in the face” of what is said in Genesis 1 and 2. Something has changed from Genesis 2 which provides a foundation for what Paul says in Corinthians.

If you ponder the reason why Paul wishes those single would remain that way, the answer becomes clear. Paul realizes individuals can be more devoted to Christ and His redemptive mission if they are unattached in this life. Hence, if you can remain unmarried, that is better.

The “change”, of course, is the fall of man in Genesis 3. Sin invades mankind and God begins His work of redemption. The beautiful life in Eden is now gone. No longer do we frolic, relax, and enjoy life and our God in that scenic place. Rather, we find ourselves in a world of evil, a necessity to labor in order to survive and a need for our own salvation as well as our effort to bring others to Christ. No longer do men take wives, have babies, and enjoy life forever with God with no cares, worries, or needs. Instead sin has placed additional burdens on each of us. There is work to be done, kingdom work, for our God. If Adam and Eve had not sinned then, perhaps, all people would marry, each couple would continue to produce children, and birth control would not even be considered let alone needed. But that is not what happened.

So men may take wives as indicated by God in Genesis chapter 2 or they may remain single as taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians. It appears to me the decision must be made on the basis of what impact a wife will have on their life in the redemptive mission of Christ. For some a wife will become a hindrance and a detractor. For others a wife is an absolute necessity.

If my understanding is correct then I believe I may extend it to children as well. Prior to the Fall, the environment was ideal for having many children. But the Fall has changed everything. Now husbands and wives must consider the impact of children upon their redemptive mission for Christ. That mission is impacted by time constraints, by financial considerations, and probably by a host of other things.

What I am saying is this: given the Fall, I believe the Bible is supportive of husbands and wives using wisdom and planning in all areas of their marriage including the having of their children. Such wisdom and planning would include not only the number of children but also the timing of the children. I see nothing in Scripture which forbids the use of birth control provided such control does not kill an unborn child.

With that premise said, I now turn to the method(s) of birth (conception) control. Does the Bible support artificial means of birth control (e.g., “the pill”) or simply natural means (sometimes referred to as “rhythm”)? Those who support only the natural form of birth control usually speak of artificial means as not Biblical because God is somehow better able to override the natural method of birth control than the artificial means. Such reasoning doesn’t speak very highly of God’s Sovereignty or His omnipotence in my opinion!

Some also believe natural means are the only acceptable means of birth control because, with artificial means, you are separating the act of intercourse from the possibility of conception. But common sense tells me if the possibility of conception must always exist during the act of intercourse then why should couples ever have intercourse after menopause (or even during pregnancy!)? So I don’t see this being a valid argument against artificial means either.

In reality, if the intention of using a birth control method is to better plan and provide for one’s family (i.e., number and timing of children) then what is the difference between using a natural method as compared to an artificial one? Personally, I see nothing in Scripture which forbids the use of artificial methods and no reason to introduce some new “law” and the beginning of a Christian “Talmud”!

Before using any method of birth control in your marriage, I would counsel you to consider these questions.

1. Why do you want to prevent the conception of another child? Are your reasons selfish? Or, have you prayed and believe this is the course God would have you take at this time in your marriage?

2. Are BOTH of you in agreement on this matter? Great harm may come to a marriage when there is disagreement on this subject. Be certain you both are committed on this action. I believe it would be wise to periodically review your decision to make certain you remain in agreement.

3. Have you researched the method of birth control you intend to use and, to the best of your knowledge, are sure it does not result in the abortion of an unborn child? It is best to research before engaging on a particular method than finding this out later.

4. If you are considering a form of birth control which will prevent a pregnancy anytime in your future marriage (e.g., tubal ligation) have you considered the long term ramifications of such a decision? Is such a procedure medically necessary? If not, you should research potential physical/mental harm such a procedure may cause on you in the future. Is there a good reason for pursuing this method instead of using a simpler form of birth control? Furthermore, you should think beyond yourself and even your spouse on this question. What about your siblings? What about your parents?

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Why have I found favor in your eyes?"

I am preaching through the book of Ruth and yesterday's message included Ruth's question to Boaz, "Why have I found favor in your eyes?". Boaz provides his answer in verses 11 and 12. He notes how Ruth has cared for her mother-in-law, Naomi, and how she left everything in Moab to come to Bethlehem. But, I believe Boaz is noting those two facts as fruits of what really has happened to Ruth: she has come under the wings of the God of Israel to take refuge. In other words, Ruth's actions testify of God's saving grace in her life.

As a new convert and as a new sister in the faith, Boaz has shown her favor. There is a lesson here about how those "elder" saints of God in the church should care for those new saints of God.

But I do believe it is also wise to picture ourselves as Ruth and the Lord as Boaz. We observe all the wonderful blessings the Lord has poured out on us. Such protection and provision should prompt us to ask him, "Why have I found favor in your eyes?".

God's answer to that question has been key to theological understanding for centuries. How do you believe God would answer your question?

For myself, God choosing me, saving me, and blessing me has absolutely NO answer in me. He did not choose me because He knew the potential influence I might have in my life. He did not choose me because He knew I would do good works. He did not choose me because I HAD done good works. He did not choose me because He knew one day I would repent of my sins and trust Christ for salvation. He did not choose me because I DID trust Christ for salvation. No, as I read my Bible, I come to the conclusion there is no reason IN ME for the favor God has poured out on me.

I have found favor in God's eyes simply because HE has loved me with an electing love from all eternity and has specifically, particularly chosen to be gracious and merciful to me, a sinner. Did I repent and trust Christ as my Lord and Savior? Absolutely. But both the repentence and faith were gifts of my gracious Lord without any merit from me. As He said, "You did not choose Me, I chose you".

Thank you, Lord, for your grace and your mercy! Thank you for your favor.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spurgeon on Christian Compromise

"It may be that some of you professedly Christian people have been living at a distance from God. You have not led the separated life. You have tried to be friendly with the world as well as with Christ--and your children are not growing up as you wish they would. You say that your sons are not turning out well and that your girls are dressy, flighty and worldly. do you wonder that it is so?

"'Oh,' you say, 'I have gone a good way to try to please them, thinking that, perhaps, by doing so, I might win them for Christ!' Ah, you will never win any soul to the right by a compromise with the wrong! It is decision for Christ and His Truth that has the greatest power in the family and the world, too. If a soldier in the barracks is converted and he says, 'I mean to be a Christian, but, at the same time, I will join with the other men as much as I can. I will sometimes step into the tavern with them,' and so forth, he will do no good. But the moment he boldly takes his stand for his new Captain and is known to be a Christian--his comrades may begin to scoff at him, but they will also begin to be impressed--and if he bravely maintains that stand and never gives way in the least degree, but is faithful to his Lord and Master, then he will be likely to see conversions among his fellow sholdiers."

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Friday, January 15, 2010

Earthquakes and Other Disasters

The tragedy in Haiti this week is absolutely overwhelming. When I first heard of the earthquake there, the magnitude of this event just did not hit home with me. Another earthquake in a foreign country; buildings collapsing and, sadly, people killed. It seems almost like an annual event, a terrible tragedy but nothing new.

Then the pictures began to arrive and the extent of the disaster hit home. This quake did not just damage a few buildings, rather, it hit everything. This quake did not just kill a few people, it killed thousands, possible upwards of a half a million! What a horrific event! To ponder the extent of this natural disaster or to view some of the images returning from the scene brings grief to my heart. So many souls taken into eternity. How many were ready to meet their God? So many souls injured or left without loved ones. How many need to know the God of comfort?

Our church is pondering on how to best help in this situation. Certainly we can and should pray. We need to pray for those who are still alive but trapped that help would come. We need to pray for those who are injured that they might receive the treatment they need. We need to pray for those who remain but have lost family members and friends that their mourning would be comforted. Most of all, we need to pray God will use this tragedy to bring many Haitian souls into the Kingdom of God. May a great spiritual revival in that land be one outcome.

We are also looking at some practical way to help the people of this island nation. Most likely, we will commit some of our funds to provide food and water for those in need. Surely this is the least we can do. How can we be followers of the Good Shepherd and not have compassion on the survivors of that land?

While we do not always understand God's purpose in such events, we can not deny God's hand either. He is the sovereign ruler of the universe and such natural disasters do not occur without his hand bringing them about or his hand permitting them to occur. The loss of life is horrific and, yet, each of us deserve death and not life because of our sin. The fact God does not strike down each of us with an earthquake, tornado, tsuanmi, or some other disaster at this moment is a testament to his grace, mercy, and longsuffering. He IS working "all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11b).

One lesson we should recall from this tragedy (for we all should have learned it by now) is our life is fragile and our time on this earth is brief. Indeed, this earthquake confirms the words of the Scripture: "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14). When our life is over, no matter how our end comes, are we ready to meet our God? Do you know and honor his son, the Lord Jesus? Have you repented of your sins and are you trusting Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul?

In light of Haiti, each of us needs to reflect upon such questions as we pray and minister to the survivors of this terrible earthquake.

May the Lord have mercy on us and may He be glorified even in the midst of an earthquake in Haiti.