Thursday, April 29, 2010

Without suffering there'd be no compassion.

[Years ago I came upon this story, though I can't determine the source. Yet, I was impacted by it once again and thought you might have a similar experience.]
A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. "Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me." "Sure," they replied, "we'd love to meet him."

"There's something you should know," the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."

"I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live." "No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us."

"Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own."

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and one leg.
I wonder how many of us gravitate toward acting like this soldier's parents, happy enough to be with those whom may be of benefit to us, but having great aversion to those less lovable.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Snoopy, you'll have to be all the animals in our play. Can you be a sheep?

An insightful rhetorical question from John Piper's TULIP series (Part 5) ...
Is Evangelism Making Sheep or Gathering Sheep?

John 10:16 ...
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

One thing is true of all governments - their most reliable records are tax records.

Happy Tax Day!

"Now, our opponents tell us not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they’re not going to tax your family. No, they’re just going to tax businesses. So unless you buy something from a business, like groceries or clothes or gasoline, or unless you get a paycheck from a business, a big business or a small business, don’t worry, it’s not going to affect you. They say they’re not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the other side of the bucket." -Fred Thompson


Friday, April 09, 2010

I don't own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I going to do with a gun rack?

I can't confirm the veracity of this story, but it's good bull either way.

Apparently & allegedly, this was one neighbor's response to the perpetual political pontificating of the other.

After much controversy, the city council decided the sign was legal by a quarter of an inch and that they could not and would not effect its removal.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

To the victor go the spoils.

In light of this Resurrection Sunday, I commend the following piece by Peter J. Leithart: "It Really Happened." (HT Ron)

Here's a portion to pique your interest:
"If it really happened, then we've got a load of work, because not everyone has heard the news that God has conquered death. Jesus is King and Lord, and He sends us out to announce that He rules. He establishes the church to be the first form and bearer of His kingdom. He intends to overcome all evil and sin, all injustice and wickedness, and calls us in the power of His resurrection to share in His war against all that damages His good creation."

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Say, "Hello," to my little friend.

During our Good Friday service at Providence Church, we have reflections on the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross. This year, I spoke on the 3rd, found in John 19.

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
-John 19:25-26
Whenever I compare this saying to the other 6 sayings of Jesus on the cross, I initially think of Sesame Street ... of these things is not like the other. Here we seem to have the mundane among the spiritual, the human among the divine.

But, here is a tender moment, full of compassionate obedience. In His greatest moment of need, Jesus focuses on the need of His earthly mother.

Jesus is fully God & fully man. As such, he had human responsibility: Obedience to honor His father & mother.

Jesus perfectly obeyed the law and this moment is no exception. Jesus felt an obligation to ensure the welfare of His earthly mother, thereby fulfilling the 5th Commandment to honor one's father & mother.

However, the 5th commandment is more than just “children, obey your parents.” Even after you grow up, you never stopped being a son or daughter and you're never free of that obligation. Even if they pass away, you honor them with your reputation, but also by caring for them when/if necessary as long as they live.

This is not just a Old Testament obligation, but is plainly seen in the New Testament also. When Paul addressed the obligation for those in the church to care for their widows, he issued a bold statement:
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
- 1 Timothy 5:8
Jesus made sure his mother was taken care of, but notice that He did not admonish his own brothers to care for their mother. Why is that?

Jesus’ younger siblings were not there at the cross and apparently not believers at this time. But, we have further insight from Mark 3 where Jesus prioritized the spiritual family over the natural, physical family.
For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
- Mark 3:35

There's a powerful lesson for us there as well, particularly with regard to providing for our Christian brothers & sisters, especially if there is a lack of physical family. Plainly, our loyalty should be to our spiritual family over our physical family. But this is more good news than a burden.

“And if Jesus purchased the church with his own blood and ordained that in it bereft mothers find sons and sons find mothers, then no one should be without a caring family today in the body of Christ.”
- John Piper
Jesus bypassed His physical brothers and entrusted to the disciple He loved, His true brother, His loving mother.

She was loving and faithful, though it had to have been difficult. His disciples, friends, and nation may disown Him, but Mary was there at the foot of his cross.

In Luke 2:34-35, Simeon had told Mary that Jesus was appointed "for the fall and rising of many in Israel." But, He also delivered these sobering words: "and a sword will pierce through your own soul also." The full weight of those words must have been felt standing at the foot of the cross watching her Son endure rejection, scorn, mocking, physical pain, and bearing the sin of His people.
“What sorrow it must have caused her when, because there was no room in the inn, she had to lay her new-born babe in the manger! What anguish must have been hers when she learned of Herod’s purpose to destroy her infant’s life! What trouble was given her when she was forced on his account to flee into a foreign country and sojourn for several years in the land of Egypt! What piercings of soul must have been hers when she saw her Son despised and rejected of men! What grief must have wrung her heart as she beheld him hated and persecuted by his own nation! And who can estimate what she passed through as she stood there at the cross? If Christ was the man of sorrows, was she not the woman of sorrows?”
- A.W. Pink
To this woman, Jesus tenderly gave a surrogate son.
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
-John 19:27
Some commentators wonder whether it's long or short-term care in mind here? After all, James & Jude later believe and become leaders in the church, with each even writing a New Testament epistle. Some suggest she may have eventually went to live with one of them, but there is tradition that asserts she lived out her days in John's household.

Either way, the next few days were going to be pure agony and her other children probably weren’t around and if they were they wouldn’t likely have been much comfort. The beloved John, however, would be care for and comfort Mary. He would also bring her good news.

In John 20, Peter & John learn that Jesus is not in the tomb, so they go to investigate. John entered, saw, believed, and went back to his home (John 20:10). It's subtle, but who would be there? Jesus' mother Mary and her heart would rejoice.

He is not there; He is risen. He is risen indeed.


Friday, April 02, 2010

All right now, get mad at them eggs!

A blogger who had abandoned them because of ineffectiveness with regard to outreach asked the following:
"What do you think about Easter egg hunts at church? Do you see it as a helpful outreach tool? Are you concerned about detracting from the real meaning of Easter?"

Oddly enough, I stopped participating in "Easter activities" after I became a Christian. As a non-church going family we celebrated with eggs, rabbits, candy, and baskets. If there was any connection made to Jesus' resurrection, I never noticed.

After becoming a Christian in college I was like, "Hey, Jesus rose from the dead. So that's what this is all about?" Then I wondered, "Why all this other distracting stuff?"

Research revealed paganism fertility goddess worship behind the imagery. I don't even call it "Easter," but "Resurrection Sunday."

The short answer for me is that I'm opposed on theological grounds, but even if I wasn't I'd have a problem similar to what I have with Christmas.

I'm not anti-Santa, but I hate that Christ is eclipsed at Christmas because of Santa and Rudolph, etc.

Plus, I also don't think those outreach efforts yield much fruit and resources could be better spent.

So, seemingly in the minority I'm opposed to the Eggstravaganzas on those 3 levels.
"All the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny are even more extraneous to the purpose of Easter than Santa is to Christmas. At least Santa Claus was based on a saint. I wonder whether even some Christian churches are making the connection between Christ's death and resurrection and victory over sin — the linchpin doctrine of Christianity."
- Al Mohler, President of SBTS
Regardless of your particular practice, I encourage you to prioritize the resurrection in your celebratory festivities. Like Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season.
P.S. Incidentally, doesn't anyone else find the Easter bunny rather creepy?


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