Archive for January, 2009

The Issue That Won’t Go Away

January 27, 2009 2 comments

It’s been 36 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision. That’s a lot of time for people to get used to our nation’s policy of abortion on demand. Does that mean that concern over abortion will just fade away and that opposition to it will eventually become out-of-date?  Not at all.

Consider a few basic statistics. Since 1973 over 50,000,000 tiny lives have been destroyed by either chemical burning or forcible tearing from their mother’s womb. Unborn children are the victims of abortion at the rate of one every three minutes. Abortion is now our nation’s leading cause of death, surpassing cancer and heart disease combined.

These statistics are just too staggering to ignore. This is brought into even greater focus as we ponder what these statistics mean.

First, it means our nation has actively supported the killing of the most innocent and vulnerable among us – and done so on a gigantic scale. The Bible has long revealed that those lives conceived in the womb are vital and distinct from their mothers (Jer.1:5). But now, even for those who live by sight rather than faith, there is evidence provided by our latest technology that shows the personhood of the unborn to be undeniable. (Do a Google search for “4D ultrasound” to find a sample of the latest images.)

Second, the vast number of abortions among us also means we live in a culture that has drastically cheapened human life. People often look with bewilderment at the acts of callousness toward fellow human beings that have become commonplace in our society. But the root of such acts is no mystery. When a society is willing to harden its heart against the unborn for the sake of convenience, that hardness of heart cannot be contained. It will harm the relationships and well-being of that society in ways we cannot even begin to comprehend. To think abortion can be embraced without consequence is to spread a net for our feet and ambush our own lives (Pr.1:16-18).

Third, the amount of blood spilled by abortion also means that we are a nation under God’s wrath. From the very beginning God has required that the shedding of innocent blood be dealt with justly (Gen.9:6). The role to administer this justice and protect life has been given to the civil authorities (Rom.13). When a society fails to hold to this standard, God Himself will judge that society. He can do no other, because the blood of the innocent cries out to Him.

There are many who would like to see us just forget about the abortion issue. But it’s an issue that can’t go away, because it’s unavoidably linked to matters of justice, quality of life, and the favor of God.

In the past week we have heard increasing calls for personal responsibility. But at the same time Washington is pushing an abortion agenda nationally and internationally. This is saying one thing and doing another – in an area of grave significance. Do we really think God will bless us for this?

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Praying for the President

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The Bible urges us to pray for all men, and especially those who are in authority (1 Tim.2:1,2). This includes, of course, a call to pray for the President.

The reasons to pray for the President are straightforward.

First, we are to pray for him because he needs it. The President bears great responsibility, and what he does affects the lives of multitudes. He lives with enormous expectations upon him, but he is still just a man. As James put it, he is a vapor, like the rest of us (Jas.4:14).

The second reason we should pray for the President is because the Lord rules over him. The President bears great power, but that power is limited by the will of God. There is nothing the President can do that does not first pass through the hands of the sovereign Lord of the universe. “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Pr.16:9).

Because the President is a man with human limitations, serving under an all-powerful God, we are to pray for him. But how?

Since we are praying to God for the President, we must resist praying according to our own partisan notions. Instead, we should pray in a way that is consistent with what God has revealed as His will for civil rulers.

Long ago God gave guidance for the kings of ancient Israel which can help guide us in our prayers for our nation’s highest civil leader (Dt.17:14ff).

First, we should pray that the President does not seek to amass power for the state or place his confidence in the state, because the well-being of the nation does not reside here, but in trusting God.

Second, we should pray that the President does not use his office for his own personal profit (or for that of his friends), but that he would flee corruption and humbly remember the duties of his office.

Third, we should pray that the President would read God’s Word every day, so that he would learn to fear God and obey Him in a way that brings blessing to the nation.

Each of these guidelines for prayer are consistent with what the New Testament tells us about the role of a civil ruler: he is to serve as a minister of justice (Rom.13:4).

Note well, he is not a savior, but a servant.

In this regard, we should pray that the President puts principle over politics and serves as one who loves truth and righteousness. We also ought to pray that he would rule in a way that is not merely pragmatic, but takes into account the impact on the generations to come.

We need to pray that the President rules justly toward all, and that this would include “the least of these” (Mt.25:45) – the unborn.

The life and work of the President may appear far beyond the influence of anything that we can do. But this is not true.

The Bible tells us that the kings heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, and He turns it wherever He wishes” (Pr.21:1).

We may not be able to reach the President. But we can through Christ reach the One who holds his heart in His hands.  Let’s pray for the President.

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The Importance of Community

January 13, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the benefits of hard times is that they can have a corrective effect in areas where we have gone astray. A good example of this is the way people who find themselves in tough straits discover that they really do need other people.

It’s been widely believed that those who are most to be admired are those who live as individualists. These are those who are totally self-reliant, and see little need for assistance from anyone outside of themselves. This way of thinking has been summarized by popular sayings like, “I’ll do it my way” and, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

Of course, the person who seeks to make the most of his life is admirable. But the one who lives by a philosophy that believes that he really is in control of his destiny and therefore has no need of others is to be pitied.

The most obvious reason he is to be pitied is that he is sure to be a selfish person, absorbed in what he believes his destiny should be. But he is also to be pitied for another reason. The person who faces the hard reversals and grave situations that life is sure to bring is kidding himself if he really believes that he is the master of his fate.

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the captain of souls. And it is wisdom to live our lives before Him seeking to maximize all the gifts that are ours as individuals. But we are also to recognize that we exist within larger communities, with all the benefits and responsibilities that go with it.

The most basic community is the family. Here is the primary venue where we learn how to take responsibility for ourselves and care about others. When hard times hit, family becomes all the more important because the need to show responsibility and concern for others is all the more apparent.

Another community of importance is that which involves those who live in our area. This would especially include those we call neighbors. Notably, the Bible teaches us that a neighbor is anyone that we come upon in need (Lk.10:29ff.), and that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt.22:39).

The most important community of all is the church. Why the church? For one, the church is eternal, and the relationships that exist here will endure forever. But the church is also the most important of communities because it is the pillar and ground of the truth, and it is here that we become those who conduct themselves as those who belong to God (1 Tim.3:15).

We’ve become a culture where individuals typically pass others by without a thought of them. And society as a whole suffers as a result. But we have an opportunity for change. As difficult times befall us, we have an opportunity to rediscover the blessing of community, and the reality that those communities that thrive best are those that acknowledge the Lord as Master of all.

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The Hope of the World Revealed

January 6, 2009 Leave a comment

As we enter a new year, it is clear that something our world could use is hope. Economic jitters, international tensions, as well day to day personal and family problems have cast a gloom that seems to have left no person or place untouched. This gloom has left many in need of hope.

I am writing this article on January 6 of the present year, 2009. This day is known as “Epiphany” on the Christian calendar. It’s a date that may not appear to have a lot of significance, but it should for any who are in need of hope, because this is a day to remember that God’s source of hope has been revealed to us.

The Day of Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem to worship Christ as the Messiah. The Magi were known as wise men. They studied the natural world, contemplated divine things, and, because of their expertise, served as counselors to kings.

How the Magi came upon the the Messiah is noteworthy: the way was revealed to them. The prophet Daniel had spoken of One coming who would set up a kingdom never to be destroyed (Dan.2:24). Then, according to God’s time, a star appeared to lead the Magi to this One (Mt.2:2).

God’s revelation to the Magi reminds us that it is by God’s gracious revelation to us that we find hope. It is not by our own reasoning and speculation that we are instilled with hope – but by receiving what God gives us with a believing heart. And the One God has revealed as the source of hope is Jesus, the morning star who brings assurance to the hearts of all who trust Him (2 Pet.1:19).

This hope that God has revealed is for the whole world.

The Magi were experts. They were the “go-to guys” for solving the problems of the day. But they knew they didn’t have all the answers. Yet they did have the wisdom to pursue what God had revealed, and in so doing they served as representatives of all who are in the world who are willing to receive the hope that God provides by bowing before His appointed King.

As you read through the New Testament, you find that Jesus is displayed as God’s hope for us in other ways too.

When Jesus was baptized (Mk.1:9-11), He fulfilled all righteousness, thereby pleasing the Father. This pertains to us because it is as we live by faith in Christ that we please the Father, and He receives us as righteous.

When Jesus experienced His transfiguration (Lk.9:28ff.), the glory of God was revealed through Him. In this Jesus discloses that true, eternal glory is realized as we live in union with Him.

As Christ was born to bring hope to this world, the Spirit calls us to make Him our hope. We are not to be like those who reject God’s revelation and trust in their own righteousness while pursuing their own glory. We are to receive in faith what God has revealed to us.

In this we have hope. A hope that does not disappoint.

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