29 September 2011

Daily Morsels-September 29, 2011

Indicatives, imperatives, and Galatians-Thabiti Anyabwile has a great run down of the indicative/imperative distinction from a recent talk given by Danny Akin.  All Christians should camp on this message regularly.  Along the same lines, I mentioned a few days ago Mike Horton's list of 5 books every Christian should read.  One of those was Luther's commentary on Galatians.  I started reading it yesterday and it is blowing me away.  I agree that every Christian should read this book.  It is available free on Kindle.  If you don't have a Kindle, download the free Kindle reader for your computer. 

Advice for College Students (and all of us)--Matthew Anderson shares 6 tips for succeeding in college and life.  We should all take time to consider these. 

In My Seat/Audience of One-I know that I am a little late to the game on this, but I wanted to share this video.  I heard the audio on Stand to Reason on the September 11, 2011 podcast.  It is the story of Steve Scheibner, the pilot who was supposed to be assigned to American Airlines 11, which was one of the flights hitting the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  When you are done watching the video, go to Stand to Reason and read the Audience of One (you will have to register, but it is worth it). 

Mike Huckabee's Boat--I just had the pleasure of listening to Mike Huckabee teach at the AACC convention.  He is a surprisingly effective minister.  He shared the following story.  He said, "One of my prized possessions is a Bass-Cat bass boat with a 225hp Mercury Duramax motor.  I have had that boat going 83 MPH, though I don't know why anyone would ever need to go 83 MPH when they are fishing.  Not long ago, I joined a boat club.  As members of the boat club, we keep our boats in a warehouse and every weekend, we get together and talk about our boats.  Mind you, we don't take them in the water anymore because we have spent a lot of money on our boats and they could get damaged.  Not only that, they could get dirty from the lake water.  Have you ever seen lake water?!?  So, we sit around and talk about our boats.  We are so committed to our boat club that we collect funds so that we can hire someone to go out and fish and come back to the warehouse and tell us stories.  When the weekend is over, we lock up the warehouse and promise to see each other again the following week.

"Friends, boats are meant to be in the water making waves not in a warehouse.  They also are not meant to be filled with water. The purpose of boats is to be out on the water, without being filled with it."  As Christians, this is also our role. 

He finished by playing bass with the worship band on an old spiritual.  If I get a chance when I get home, I will post the video. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  -1 John 1:9 ESV

28 September 2011

Daily Morsels-September 28, 2011

Are faith and logic at odds?--There seems to be a growing trend in the media to equate science and logic, dismissing all other disciplines as illogical.  I suspect this trend is driven politically as much as anything else.  For what it is worth, I have observed rather illogical science (or at least illogical conclusions) and highly logical applications of other disciplines.  Melinda Penner at Stand To Reason addressed this issue today

Glee Bible study?--I enjoyed Glee, for about 2 episodes, when I realized it became so raunchy that I could not continue to subject myself or my children to it (the TV-PG rating means what exactly?).  Amy Hall discusses a recent Bible study program put out by the Center for Youth Ministry Training, arguing that "if you are using Glee to teach the Bible, you may not be teaching the Bible." Her argument is that these types of Bible studies arise not from the Bible, but from the shows; Bible verses are merely tacked on as an afterthought.  The story of God is so majestic, so awesome that we should not need a popular television show to try to look at it.

"I thank you God that I am not like those religious people"--There seems to be a movement, particularly among rock star pastors, to denigrate "religious people".  Although I assume they are seeking to confront Pharisaism, their approach is often questionable.  Jared Wilson has a great post cautioning those who attack legalists as a ministerial tactic.  He writes, "Employing the 'religious people' boogeyman ironically indulges in what it professes to decry. It is a great way to pray along with the self-justified pharisee, 'I thank you God that I'm not like those religious people.'"  Read the whole thing.  As some interesting background, you may also wish to read Phil Johnson's recent post about this topic. 

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish-Jeremiah 31:25

27 September 2011

Wanton Disregard for Human Life

A few days ago, I came across this letter from Adolf Hitler to Philipp Bouhler and Karl Brandt regarding the medical termination of lives deemed unworthy.  The brief note states that they, "are instructed to broaden the powers of physicians designated by name, who will decide whether those who have - as far as can be humanly determined - incurable illnesses can, after the most careful evaluation, be granted a mercy death."  This letter followed a course of events you can read about on the website Letters of Note.  As you will learn, in 1933 compulsory sterilization was mandated for those deemed defective.  In 1939, Hitler granted a father permission to kill his 5 month old son, which gave way to a wider program of murder in the "Children's Euthanasia Program".  Eventually, Hitler expanded the program to allow, perhaps encourage, the murder of those "unworthy of life", all by legal mandate.   

Although the similarities to modern society are profound, I think we too easily miss the connection.  The current culture of abortion on demand also allows for the medical termination of lives deemed unworthy.  Each day, thousands of children are murdered in the United States, often for no reason other than they were unwanted by their parents.  The case of Canadian Katrina Effert, which has recently resurfaced in the news, raises concerns that the climate regarding the sanctity of life continues to deteriorate.  In 2005, as a new mother, she strangled her unwanted infant with her underwear and threw the baby over the fence into her neighbor's yard.  She was recently granted a suspended sentence. The judge presiding over the case, commented "while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support."  Effert received a suspended sentence.  For infanticide.

At what point may we conclude that a punishable offense has taken place?  When the child is 5 months old?  5 years old?  When will we acknowledge that we have justified murder as a legal medical procedure?  When will we realize that we accept the wholesale termination of helpless people as a matter of convenience? 

The ongoing abortion debate is not simply a political issue.  It is the wanton disregard of human life.  Like the holocaust.

I would also encourage you to watch this video.  Ray Comfort helps people to see the similarities between what Hitler did and modern abortion.

Daily Morsels-September 27, 2011

What shall we make of lifestyle evangelism?--As a younger Christian, I was very much taken with Rebecca Pippert's Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World, which was a call to lifestyle evangelism.  The irony is that though she was living the lifestyle, she was also proclaiming Christ with her lips.  Unfortunately, what seems to have happened is that people have abandoned sharing the word of God, claiming instead that they are living it out.  Scot McKnight challenges the notion of lifestyle evangelism.  He writes, "What I fear is that so many contend that behavior alone or community alone are evangelism. I doubt it, because, as Paul puts it in Romans 10, if they don’t hear how will they know? The ineradicable form of evangelism is to declare the Story of Jesus. All other dimensions gain their only clarity once that declaration is clear. Without that proclamation, there is no gospeling or gospel."  Read the whole thing here.

What do you do with passages about an angry God?--Erik at Ordinary Pastor addresses the often difficult question of how do we think of God when he is angry?  Do we apologize for him?  Do we skip over those parts?  We need to have a theology big enough to allow for the whole counsel of Scripture.  Get it here

8 practical ways to love Christ--Paul Tautges streamlined these recommendations from JC Ryle on how to love Christ more deeply.  Here's the first one, as a taste:  If we love a person, we like to think about him. We do not need to be reminded of him. We do not forget his name or his appearance or his character or his opinions or his tastes or his position or his occupation. He comes up before our mind’s eye many a time in the day. Though perhaps far distant, he is often present in our thoughts. Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ! Christ “dwells in his heart,” and is thought of more or less every day (Eph. 3:17). The true Christian does not need to be reminded that he has a crucified Master. He often thinks of Him.  Get it here.  

26 September 2011

Mortify Your Sin

"Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passions, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."-Colossians 3:5

Sometimes when I watch action movies, I do not understand the hero.  He has spent himself pursuing a bad guy who has left a wake of destruction and mayhem.  He finally apprehends the villain and wounds him, but he keeps him alive, perhaps for later questioning.  At the least, he does not make sure is dead.  The protagonist then turns his attention away from the now mortally wounded person and we all know that this action from an otherwise seemingly intelligent person will come back to cause later problems.  I understand that the villain remaining alive creates cinematic tension, but in real life it would reveal a profound stupidity.  The true hero would make sure the villain was unable to retaliate any further and he certainly would not take his eyes off of him until fully restrained. 

Too often as Christians, we do the same things, don't we?  We study God's word and increasingly learn what God desires of us.  We develop a more finely-tuned sense of what is sinful; we learn the patterns of our enemy.  There comes a point when we see our sin, take a shot and wound it.  We may even think the wound is mortal, but too often it is not.  Sometimes, we have developed a relationship with our sin.  Though it repulses us in many ways, there are also ways in which we don't want to get rid of it.  We keep it alive, not realizing it is regaining it's strength.  We make excuses for letting it live.

The verse from Colossians above reminds us that we need to put our sin to death.  The puritan John Owen says it this way: "be killing sin, or it will be killing you!"  We need to "make it [our] daily work; be always at it whilst [we] live; and cease not a day from this work."

Put a bullet in your sin.  Then another, and another.  Every day.   

21 September 2011

Heather's "mid September" update

Good Morning,
Just thought I would send everyone a quick update. 
This week we recieved the USCIS approval that we had been waiting for!  This basically pre-approves us to bring a child into the US for adoption.  This is what we were waiting for after we got our fingerprints done last month.  Whoo Hoo praise God it came so quick!
We still haven't heard how things are going at the orphange as far as finding a replacement for the man who passed away.  We have been assured that things should continue to progress and that they are still planning on holding their October family bonding week.  So as long as our dossier is at the orphange we can go.  So please be praying that our dossier gets to Haiti by the end of the month so we have time to make arrangements to go.  Otherwise we will be going the first week of December.  God's timing is perfect and we cannot wait to see what he has planned.
The kids started school the same week we started here.  It was a terribly hot and humid week for the kids in Haiti and in the photos of the kids doing their school work they look miserable.  Hopefully it has cooled down this week for them.
We got new photos of the children this week which is really fun.  Vladimy is growing like a weed and is almost as big as Yoldine now and it looks like Yoldine maybe lost her first tooth.  I cannot wait to meet them!
So please be praying for our dossier to get thru all the steps that we need it to go thru.  I am waiting to hear where it actually is so we can be praying specifically for each step  Thanks so much for your prayers.
The Kanz Family

Book Review-Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp is one of the required text books for my second class that I am taking through the CCEF.  Like Powlison, the author of most of what I read for the first class, Tripp is a gifted communicator.  He clearly presents a model for biblical change and how we can help people to grow in grace, providing numerous specific examples to demonstrate how his model has worked practically.  This would be a good book for any Christian seeking to understand themselves in relationship to others and to God as well as to learn how to relate to others.  4 stars. 

Letters of Note

I have recently encountered a positively addicting website, Letters of Note.  Here is a recent favorite of mine, a letter from CS Lewis to a young girl named Janet. 

20 September 2011

Growth through the Word.

Growth in grace doesn’t come by lightning bolts and magical encounters but by humble, honest, obedient, and practical application of God’s Word to the specifics of everyday experience.” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, 326). 

Many Christians, when they think about personal change, expect magic from heaven.  So often, when I am talking with others, it seems that their concept of “waiting upon God” involves sitting nervously by, hoping God will act without any movement on their part.  When their lives do not change quickly or completely they become discouraged, wondering why God has not brought desired change. 

Listening to a teaching series this week from Greg Koukl on biblical decision making, I was reminded that this magic from heaven does not find place in scripture as the typical model for wisdom.  Certainly, God can and does intervene miraculously, but it was not the norm in the Bible.  Rather, wise decision making and “growth in grace” comes from applying God’s word to our particular circumstances.  How do we do this?

First, in order to obey God’s word, we need to know what it says.  So many today who proclaim to be Christians have no idea what God’s word says.  In fact, I think this is one of the primary issues in the church today.  Christians face ten thousand distractions every day—television, facebook, youtube—failing to realize that each of these things subtly influences their view of themselves, God, and the world around them.   Most of them, though, even if they may know all the nuances of World of Warcraft, or can name all the characters of Glee, have never read the Bible all the way through even once.  How can one adequately apply God’s word when they don’t even know what it says?

Second, in order to apply God’s word humbly and honestly, we need to be in relationship with other believers.  Wise friends who hold us accountable challenge our interpretations of Scripture, helping us to understand God’s word accurately.  This biblical accountability also promotes our humility.  It will promote the recognition that we do not know everything and need the mutual encouragement and exhortation from those who know us well. 

Rather than praying for thunder bolts, I hope to encourage others to study God’s word diligently, to pray through the Scriptures, and to surround themselves with people who know them well, through difficult situations and times of joy. 

12 September 2011

Closed Ears and Open Mouths

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.-Ephesians 4:29

I read with great interest the blog post "Ask a Calvinist" on Rachel Held Evans blog on September 8.  Ms Held-Evans has been featuring a series of posts where her readers pose questions to individuals representing various positions, within and outside of Christianity.  She chose Justin Taylor to answer the questions about Calvinism.  Mr Taylor was certainly a good choice.  He has a handle upon the current climate within Calvinism, having previously worked as John Piper's personal assistant and now as a vice president at Crossway Books.  He also authors the popular blog, Between Two Worlds.  Taylor fielded many of the common objections to Calvinism, providing what I read to be gracious informative responses, though admittedly, I consider myself inside his camp theologically. 

Held-Evans's initial post generated significant interest as demonstrated by the comments provided by her readership.  Before public commenting was closed, 223 responses were generated.  Although the comments started amicably enough, they seemed to devolve rather quickly into ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments.  There was also a lack of awareness of church history (e.g., Calvin's role in the burning of Michael Servetus), which is not necessarily a fault of the commenter, though seemed to reveal an attitude of animosity toward John Calvin and Calvinism.  One commenter compared the Calvinist God to Satan.  To her credit, Ms Held-Evans attempted to reign in the particularly egregious commenters.

Justin Taylor provided a link to Held-Evans post on his blog as well.  Given their differing theological opinions, I expected the background, viewpoints, and stated theology of the commenters to differ from those commenting upon Held-Evans blog.  Indeed that was the case.  Taylor's commenters, at least early on, tended toward reformed doctrines.  Like the commenters on Held-Evans blog, the comments here also began civilly enough, but unfortunately, they did not stay that way.  Commenters were questioning Held-Evans's salvation early on and the com-box again devolved into casting dispersions and emotional attacks.  In the effort toward one-upsmanship, no one was listening to anyone else. Everyone was blathering on (using their keyboards, of course) but not really listening.   

Admittedly, I disagree Held-Evans on many issues (e.g., complementarism vs. egalitarianism), but I really struggle when people go so far as to call her a false teacher.  I am not sure that is my determination to make.  Although she can be unduly provocative from time to time, she proved to be a gracious moderator on this post.

Taylor is consistently full of grace and I believe his blog posts regularly demonstrate that.  Like Held-Evans, he also did not engage in the attacks that were taking place.  Even though each of them clearly hold different perspectives, they were gracious and kind to one another.  I wish the same could be said for their readers.

To me, it is little wonder why those outside of Christianity want nothing to do with Christianity when they see such fighting on "Christian" blogs.  There is no grace, no love in this type of commenting.  We often forget that blog comments are public; not only do Christians read them, so do non-Christians.  We need to do a better job of speaking truth in love to one another.  Disagreements can be handled with more grace than we handle them.

Today, Justin Taylor posted a fitting follow up.  He shared some notes from John Newton in a post entitled "How Calvinists Should Engage in Controversy."  It is worthwhile reading for all Christians. 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.-Colossians 4:6

09 September 2011

Book Review: Stand

I recently came across this book, Stand: A call for the endurance of the saints, based upon the 2007 Desiring God conference.  It features essays from pastors, teachers, and missionaries who have endured--Jerry Bridges, John Piper, John MacArthur, Randy Alcorn, and Helen Roseveare.  I have been talking with one of our pastors about the importance of persevering until the end and this is increasingly a desire of my heart.  In that regard, this is an excellent volume.  These Christians share their accumulated wisdom in what it takes to endure.  Knowing the writings of most, it was also fun to see their "personalities" coming out through their writings.  In any case, endurance until the end is something we all must think about and this book may help us to understand how that can happen.  4.5 stars.