Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brief Note on Proverbs 11:22

As some of the men from Kosmosdale Baptist Church have been teaching through Proverbs on Wednesday nights, tonight my friend Tim Scott came to Proverbs 11:22--

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.
(Proverbs 11:22 ESV)

I had read this verse a few times before while reading through Proverbs, and it always made me chuckle, but I'd never taken time to give it serious consideration. Tim did an excellent job (as he usually does) explaining the text and drawing specific practical applications.

One of the applications he drew was that inward beauty is more desirable-- and more to be sought after by Christians-- than outward beauty. In this regard, he referenced 1 Peter 3:3-4--


Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
(1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)

Anyway, many other good things were said, but I write this here as a reminder that even the seemingly silly verses from God's Word are actually great truths.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mitch Chase: the new pastor of Kosmosdale Baptist Church

This past
Lord's Day, Mitch Chase was affirmed as the new pastor of Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The congregational vote for Mitch was unanimous, which-- even in a small congregation such as ours-- is an unusual blessing (typically, every Baptist church has at least one member who will vote against absolutely anything simply out of prideful contrarianism). God's grace in Mitch's life, and Mitch's Spirit-given ability to handle the Word rightly, have been evident to all. I currently work with Mitch at Sayers Classical Academy, where he has an exemplary reputation among the faculty and student body. Mitch is the author of The Gospel is for Christians; his blog is called "Soli Deo Gloria," and can be viewed HERE.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Sermon Notes from "A Biblical Vision for God's People: The Seven Ships Every Church Must Have." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service yesterday morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. Introduction

A. What is a healthy church?

B. How can we please the Lord as a church?

C. What should our mission be as a church?

D. Seven "ships:"

II. Lordship

A. The church belongs to no man.

B. Jesus is the head, chief shepherd, husbandman, and redeemer of the church.

III. Leadership

A. Overseers:
1. Charged with the responsibility of leading and governing (1 Tim 3:4-5)
2. Not dictatorial (1 Tim 3:2-3)
3. "Pastor"/"elder" synonymous with "overseer"
4. It is in the church's best interest to honor our elders (see Heb 13).
5. Elders must be able to teach so that they may equip the saints for works of ministry.
6. Pastoral leadership should be plural (1 Peter 5:5; Titus 1:5).
7. Elder-led congregationalism
8. The NT indicates 'lay' and full-time elders (1 Tim 5:17-18)

B. Deacons

IV. Worship

A. The weekly church gathering is mainly for believers, not unbelievers; the worship of the saints, not unbelievers, is pleasing to God.

B. Corporate worship consists of:
1. Singing
2. Praying
3. Giving
4. Preaching
5. Ordinances

V. Discipleship: understanding and living out the Word.

VI. Membership

A. Church discipline presupposes membership.

B. Membership helps keep us accountable.

C. "Being a church member means more than attendance, but it is not less than that."

D. Church membership means exercise of spiritual gifts in serving one another.

E. Church membership involves financial giving.

F. Church membership involves lending one's voice to the church's decisions.

VII. Fellowship

A. We must pursue and receive encouragement from one another.

B. We are a family.

VIII. Battleship

A. We are characterized by spiritual battle.

B. The passage about 'spiritual armor' was given to a specific church.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Message of the Qur'an and the Message of the Cross

As I was reading through the Qur'an this past year, my mind constantly returned to some conversations that I had with a couple of Muslim friends. I had communicated to my friends that I was concerned with their spiritual state-- that according to my Faith, they were in danger of eternal judgment-- and that they must follow Christ Jesus in order to find true peace with God.

I was close enough to my friends that they knew I was sincere and they were not (apparently) angry or offended at what I said, rather they wanted to assure me that deep down we all have faith in the same God, and so I should not be concerned for them. At the time, I indicated that the Muslim and Christian understandings of Jesus are quite different, that the death of Christ is necessary for the atonement of our sins, and that a personal relationship with the living Lord is fundamental.

Everything I've read in the Qur'an has strengthened my original impressions concerning the crucial differences between Islam and Christianity. Previously on this blog, I've indicated one difference between Islam and Christianity concerning the Person of Christ: these two faiths are fundamentally at odds in their account of who Jesus is. Below, I want to briefly look at one difference between Islam and Christianity concerning the Work of Christ, because the two faith are also at odds concerning what Jesus has done.

Surah 4:157-158 declares:
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;" but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they did not kill him. Nay, Allah raised him up to Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise,
These verses explicitly declare that Jesus' enemies did not kill Him-- specifically denying that they crucified Him-- the Muslim belief being that Allah raised Jesus up to Himself without Jesus dying.

This directly contradicts the testimony of the New Testament. The synoptic Gospels all record that Jesus taught that He must suffer, be rejected by the religious leaders, be killed, and then rise from the dead on the third day (Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). All of the Gospels accounts find their climax with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel of John-- written by one who was present at the crucifixion-- is particularly explicit concerning the death of Jesus:

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken [so that they might die more quickly] and that they might be taken away [to be buried]. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35  He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe. (John 19:31-35 ESV) 

Notice the reason that John gives for relating this account: "that you also may believe."

The Cross of Jesus is so central to the Christian faith that Paul refers to the Christian gospel as "the message of the Cross" (1 Cor 1:18). Jesus connects the way His believers are to live their lives with His work on the Cross when He says:

"If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it." (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

The above statement makes no sense at all if Jesus Himself did not lose His life upon the Cross: thus saving His own life and the lives of all who believe in Him.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sermon Notes from "To This You Have Been Called: Following the Steps of Jesus in Unjust Suffering." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 2:21-25.

I. Introduction

A. "Peter did not always link suffering to the Messiah's mission" (Matt 16:22).

B. The resurrection changed Peter's point of view.

C. Peter, who once wanted "Messiah" and "suffering" as far apart as possible, became the NT author who most alluded to Isaiah 52-53.

D. 1 Peter 2:21-25 is the theological center of this letter.

II. The Christian's Calling to Unjust Suffering (v. 21)

A.  When Christians endure unjust suffering, we are fulfilling a call of God upon our lives.

B. Our calling is connected to the example of Christ in His suffering on our behalf.

III. The Example of Christ in Unjust Suffering (vv. 22-24)

A. The example of Christ is MORE than a path to follow, but it IS a path to follow; we must take up our cross.

B. The idea of following in His steps is the idea of discipleship.

C. In John 21, as He restored Peter, the last words Jesus spoke to Peter were, "Follow Me."

D. xref. Isa 53:9; This verse falls in a passage that points to our need for both deliverance from exile and salvation from sin.

E. xref. Jer 11:18-20.

F. Christ died to sin "substitutionary-wise," and we die to sin that we might not live in it.

G. Christ took the curse we deserve, that we might have the blessing He deserves.

H. We are to be the kind of people who live lives that reflect the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

I. Those who preach a false gospel use 1 Peter 2:24 to try and guarantee physical healing.

IV. The Reason for Christ's Unjust Suffering (v. 25)

A. xref. Eze 34:4-11.

B. Believers are no longer lost sheep; we have been rescued.

C. Bonhoeffer: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Novel(?)

[The following is from Chapter 3, as currently planned, which is tentatively titled, "Arrival of Dragon and Hero." Let me know: would you be interested in reading more of this story? Any suggestions?]

Before the rebellion, the Whitefield Villa was a place of light. Located in a broad clearing midway up a softly ascending mountain, the Villa was an enormous white rectangle with eight tremendous columns holding up a slanting green roof above a red brick porch. Rows of well-tended brilliantly yellow rose bushes bordered the porch. A geyser-like fountain sparkled in the front lawn. Entering the Villa through ornate polished bronze doors, guests found themselves in a spacious hall, suitable for formal dances. A series of large windows allowed sunlight to flood the hall. Directly across from the front door was a white marble staircase, which was broad enough that two carriages could have ascended it side-by-side. Before the rebellion, the Whitefield Villa was not much like a cave at all.

It was a bright, sunny day when news of the rebellion reached the Whitefield Villa. As reports of battle came in over the next few days, the weather remained fair, but spirits in the Villa were overwhelmingly gloomy. Due to the summer heat, the servants had been performing their duties rather casually, but with the great tension and uncertainly brought about by rumors of war, the servants began to work with rigid formality and attention to detail (as if each well-polished piece of silver could somehow help maintain order in the world), even though the master and mistress of the house–consumed with trying to determine the best way they might help protect their region from being ravaged– were now even less concerned than usual over the minutiae of orderliness.

When Lord and Lady Whitefield found it necessary to leave for the Imperial Capitol with their son, the servants continued to carry out their tasks like clockwork. Anderson– the Villa Chief of Staff, a thin, elderly gentleman whose family had worked at the Villa for generations– expected the Whitefields to be gone for about a month. When six weeks passed with no word from his employers, Anderson sent a messenger to the sheriff, who sent back word to Anderson that getting any information from the Capitol had become impossible. On the heels of this communication with the sheriff, Anderson received word that the Winding-Redfern Estate, whose lord and lady were similarly away on business, had been plundered by villagers, therefore Anderson decided to try and keep the Whitefields’ extended absence as quiet as possible, and so he refrained from contacting anyone else to investigate what might have become of them.

But the charade could only last for so long. Eventually, the money that Anderson had been given to buy supplies ran out, and then the supplies themselves became scarce. Systematically, various rooms were closed off, with drapes placed over the furniture. Over time, groups of servants began tendering their resignations to Anderson. When the first group resigned, Anderson marked them as faithless traitors. By the time the last group of servants left, provisions had become so scant and starvation loomed so large that Anderson bade them a heartfelt, compassionate farewell. So it came about that Anderson was left in the house alone. He broke protocol and, over time, ate the remaining perishables from the food closet set aside for the Whitefields themselves. Then Anderson realized that he too must leave. Before he went, old Anderson carefully boarded up the windows with the thought of hopefully preserving the glass from being broken and the house from being invaded. As he drove each nail into the windowsills, he felt that he was driving a nail into his own soul. Anderson then took all of the Whitefields’ valuables– everything from the silver candlesticks to the family sword, which had been hanging in the master bedroom– and he locked them in the basement vault. As he locked the Villa doors for the last time, Anderson prayed that Lord and Lady Whitefield would safely return someday soon.

Once Anderson had left, the boarded up interior of the Whitefield Villa– with drapes over all the furniture– looked very much like a cave indeed. It became even more cave-like as bats, which had always been a problem, now took complete control of the attic; rats and all manner of bugs took the lower floors for their own.

Now, it is important to note that while dragons would never inhabit elegant mountain villas, they would often inhabit dank mountain caves.

            One stormy night, three months after Anderson had left the Whitefield Villa, a wounded dragon plummeted down from the dark, low-hanging clouds about the house, crashing through the green roof. As the wood of the roof cracked and splintered, the bats that had been nesting in the attic screeched and took flight. A puff of green-yellow fire escaped from the bloody slit in the dragon’s throat, and the winged, horned green-gray beast collapsed upon the grand marble staircase, surrounded by a dozen burning bats. Jade shingles from the roof rained down upon the dragon’s quivering form.

            The dragon lay upon the stairs until the first light of dawn, when it dragged itself down the stairs and circled around to move between the columns supporting the staircase. Under the staircase, in the dark, the dragon seethed and healed, drinking rainwater that flowed down from the hole in the roof and eating burned bats, bugs, and rats.

            As it slowly regained strength, the beast began to sense silver. Now, it is common knowledge that dragons were covetous creatures, hoarding precious metals, which they could not spend and would not display to others, simply for the enjoyment of withholding something shiny from others who desired it. Dragons had developed a sixth sense by which they could perceive the presence of gold, silver, copper, and the like. These precious metals “sang” out to dragons; it was as if the dragons could hear or feel or taste or smell the silver, etc. Now in the Whitefield Villa, the dragon lay with knowledge of silver burning in the back of its brain. Finally, it heaved itself off the floor, stumbled toward the basement door, and then burst through, slithering down the basement stairs. The dragon clawed at the door to the vault, diamond-hard talons sending up sparks as they scratched against the iron. Tearing through the door, the dragon carelessly broke the elegant glassware and ripped the famous paintings; it piled up the metal valuables and then contentedly curled up in front of them.

            The vermin that had previously settled at the Whitefield Villa soon all scurried away, lest they become part of the vile worm’s buffet. And so, once it was fully healed, the dragon began leaving its new “cave” in the middle of the night in order to hunt amongst the nearby hills, always returning to its treasure trove before the sun arose. People from the town would occasionally catch glimpses of phantasmal green-yellow light (actually the dragon’s fire) shining in the direction of the Whitefield Villa, and so it became common knowledge that the place was haunted.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Son of God

Reading through the Qur'an this year, I was surprised at how often I encountered verses denying Jesus as the Son of God (often while conflating the Christian concept of the "Son of God" with pagan concepts of gods who procreated as humans do). From what I had heard, I expected one, two, maybe three such verses, but it turns out that the denial of Christ's sonship rather permeates the Qur'an. Observe the following verses:
They say, "Allah has begotten a son." Glory be to Him. Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: everything renders worship to Him. (2:116) 
How can He have a son when He has no consort? (6:101b) 
The Jews call 'Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them. How they are deluded away from the Truth! (9:30) 
They say, "Allah has begotten a son!" Glory be to Him! He is self-sufficient! His are all things in the heaven and on earth! No warrant have you for this! Do you say about Allah what you do not know? (10:68) 
Say: "Praise be to Allah, Who begets no son, and has no partner in (His) dominion: nor (needs) He any to protect Him from humiliation: yes, magnify Him for His greatness and glory!" (17:111) 
It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. (19:35a) 
They say, "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! As it is the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin. That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. (19:88-92) 
And they say, "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten offspring." Glory be to Him! They are but servants raised to honor. (21:26) 
No son has He begotten, (25:2b) 
Had Allah wished to take to Himself a son, He could have chosen whom He pleased out of those whom He creates. But Glory Be to Him! (He is above such things.) He is Allah, the One, the Irresistible. (39:4) 
Say: "If (Allah) Most Gracious had a son, I would be first to worship." Glory to the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of the Throne (of Authority)! (He is free) from the things they attribute (to him)! (43:81-82) 
He begets not, nor is He begotten; (112:3)
On the other hand, Christ as the Son of God is a key theme in the New Testament's proclamation of the good news concerning who Jesus is.

In Matthew, it is Satan who calls Jesus' identity as the Son of God into question (Matt 4:3-6), and Jesus' perseverance in the face of satanic trials demonstrates that He is indeed the Son of God.

Mark begins his Gospel account declaring Jesus to be the Son of God.

Luke explains that Jesus is called the Son of God because He is conceived not by human means, but by the power of the Holy Spirit directly working in Mary (Luke 1:35)

John says that the whole reason that he wrote his Gospel account was "...so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).

In that grand gospel summary spoken by Jesus (as recorded by John), Jesus says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

John later wrote: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:5, 12-13).

And so Christians believe that eternal life is specifically tied to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"Honor all people... Honor the King." True regarding Emperor Nero, applicable regarding President Obama as well.

In his sermon this past Lord's Day, Mitch Chase observed-- based on 1 Peter 2:17-- that we must honor those in authority in the way that we speak.

Mitch cautioned Kosmosdale Baptist Church that he has heard many Christians disobeying this principle in the way that we speak about President Obama.

I think Mitch makes a good point; I think that, if we are not careful, we can allow the way that we speak about the President to be more influenced by conservative talk radio than by the Word of God.

I was in  middle school when Bill Clinton was voted into presidential office. At that time, I remember many evangelicals were extremely concerned due-- for example-- to his position on abortion and to rumors concerning his personal life. But I heard a few wise Christian brothers say that even though we disagree with the man, we respect the office. By the time Mr. Obama became president, I heard very few evangelicals mention respecting the office. The change in attitude is due, I think, to a number of factors: for example, President Clinton's adulterous actions while in the White House dishonored the office, and later the liberals' vicious attacks on President George W. Bush created an environment in which saying, 'the President is stupid and I hate him' was considered normal.

But Christians cannot allow the way we act or speak to be dictated by the standards of the world. Though we may-- and must!-- speak out against any unjust policies or major unjust actions of our President, we must-- as much as possible-- yet honor him.

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Heavenly Citizens Under Earthly Authority: Living With Proper Honor, Love, and Fear." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service yesterday morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 2:13-17.

I. Introduction

A. Obeying Governmental Authorities

B. x-refs. Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3, etc.

II. Be Subject to Governing Authority (vv. 13-15)

A. Governmental Responsibility
1. Punish those who do evil.
2. Praise those who do good.

B. God's Will For Us (v. 15): As believers, we should live in such a way that we cannot rightly be accused by others.

III. Live As Free Servants of God (v. 16)

A. We are not free to serve ourselves.

B. We are not free to worship false gods.

C. We are free to serve God.

IV. Relate Rightly to Everyone (v. 17)

A. Honor others.

B. Love the Church.

C. Fear God.

D. Honor the Emperor.
1. Recognize his authority and relate rightly to him.
2. We must honor those in authority in the way we speak.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Thoughts Re: Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day: Warnings



In addition to the encouragement I think Christians should see from Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day earlier this week, I think there are some words of warning that we must consider.

First, we must avoid Pharisaism. The Pharisees were, to a large degree, theologically correct (this is why Paul could continue to refer to himself as Pharisee under certain circumstances: Acts 23:6), but-- as a group-- they lacked mercy (Matthew 9:13).

Christians should consider what it means to act in a merciful manner to those who perceive our positions and actions as hateful. I would suggest that we should not allow our actions to be determined by the [misguided] feelings of others, but neither should we entirely disregard these feelings. On a few websites, I saw comments from people who self-identified as "gay" saying that they felt hated by the Christians participating in Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Now, I've seen no report of anyone acting in a rude way toward "homosexuals" during the event on Wednesday, and it seems that some would feel "hated" by any disagreement regarding the definition of marriage or any action springing from such a disagreement, so such feelings of being "hated" cannot determine what we do as Christians, but I do think that the Christian commitment to giving an account for our hope "with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15) must determine how we conduct ourselves. We must NOT use abusive language toward those who already think we hate them, nor should we just tell them to 'get over' their feelings. Instead, we should be willing to listen while never compromising our beliefs and while looking for opportunities to tell every person of the hope for forgiveness and life-change that we have in Christ; we must remember, it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Every Christian must also realize that eating Chick-Fil-A does not make you godly. Eating at a specific restaurant on a specific day is not among the "acts of righteousness" mentioned by Jesus (Matthew 6; of course, even if it were, "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" was a public event, and so it would not have been eligible for a heavenly reward according to our Lord). Eating at a specific restaurant on a specific day is not among the spiritual disciplines mentioned in the Bible. (Conversely, the decision not to eat at Chick-Fil-A last Wednesday cannot be viewed as any kind of sin; you may disagree with-- for example-- Barnabas Piper's evaluation that Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was a "bold mistake," but remember: if going to a specific restaurant on a specific day is no act of righteousness nor spiritual discipline, then a disagreement about attending an event like Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day is NOT even a fourth level doctrinal issue; Christians should be able to respectfully disagree on many political/economic decisions while maintaining warm fellowship). I am concerned that many people who went to Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day may think that this 'stand for biblical marriage' (as it was so conceived) amounts to some kind of spiritual triumph. To this, I can only echo the thoughts of Stephen Lee Cavness, who-- contrasting the mood at Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day with the normal mood on Lord's Day morning at many of our churches-- wrote:

when we gather with our churches, will there be a sense of purpose and excitement? a sense of“what we are doing matters!!”? will there be that same resolve, that it is worth any (so called) sacrifice to be there? will we understand the weight and gravity of gathering as god’s people to worship him in spirit and truth, to celebrate who he is and what he has done, is doing and has promised to do – to glory in our lord and redeemer?



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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Thought Re: Chick-Fil-A Yesterday: Encouragement


So, I bought a Chick-Fil-A sandwich yesterday, waiting in the line wrapped all the way around the St. Matthew's (Louisville) location at 3PM.

It really didn't take any kind of major precipitating political circumstance to convince me to buy a bit of food from Chick-Fil-A. Really, if someone on Facebook had just randomly said, 'Hey, everybody! Let's all eat at Chick-Fil-A tomorrow!' I probably would have been on board. That's because I enjoy Chick-Fil-A's food and appreciate the way that the company has consistently invested in strengthening families and communities. As I noted before I went to Chick-Fil-A yesterday: 
I plan on (at least) buying a chicken sandwich today, not because of being *against* anyone, but because I am *for* Chick-Fil-A, especially appreciating the Cathys’ work in establishing the WinShape Foundation, supporting adoption, etc.
So, I wanted to spend a little bit of money to be a part of CFA's historic business day. And it was encouraging to see so many people supporting this business, which I think that has been a model of excellence in a number of ways.

More to the particular political point at hand, it was encouraging to see so many people who have not been strong-armed by our culture into feeling ashamed to stand up for marriage. Because, today Christians are being told, 'If you think Jesus Christ was correct about marriage (Matthew 19:4ff.), then you are a despicable bigot.' Well, I am thankful that-- at least for now-- a great number of people have not bought into this lie.

This is a gospel issue: because if Christians buy the lie that we cannot call homosexual behavior a sin (Romans 1:26-27), then we will be hindered in speaking the good news of forgiveness and freedom from sin to people who identify themselves as "homosexuals."

I have at least one close friend who has been saved out of the darkness of "homosexuality," and who now has a wife and children. But many loud voices within our culture would have told him that he couldn't change the way he was born: that he should just have embraced his desires and become defined by those desires, rather than turning his back on homosexual desires and finding new desires in Christ.

Romans 1:27 speaks about "men committing shameful acts with men... receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." On the Cross, Jesus took the result of this "due penalty"-- He took God's righteous wrath against sin-- upon Himself, dying in the place of sinners. Jesus was buried and rose again from the dead; now He offers forgiveness and life to anyone who turns away from sin and trusts in Him. Trust in Him today!

[Tomorrow: a couple of words of caution about "Chick-Fil-A Day."]

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Reflections on Proverb 11:9


With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
(Proverbs 11:9 ESV)

"Godless" in the Hebrew originally indicated a person who was sacrilegious or profane. Because this kind of activity would have involved going into holy places only to defile them, "godless"-- by the time   this proverb was written-- had developed into the idea of "hypocritical," specifically referring (in this text) to a gossip who pretends friendship but then acts like an enemy in secret.

"Knowledge" does not just refer to being knowledgeable in general, but to knowing how to exercise self-control: refraining from speaking when silence is necessary.

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