Posted on May 21st, 2013 by Eric Parker
I recently came across this article in the Christian Post that drew my attention to the latest cover of The New Yorker. The New Yorker is advocating for a new normal, or at the very least suggesting it when it comes to the family (i.e. that same sex parenting is already a common existing norm). The article discussing the recent cover raised an interesting question:
“What happens in this house a few weeks from now on Father’s Day? Never before in history have we had to articulate so specifically the meaning of these days.”
With the rapid change continuing to take place in the moral landscape of our culture, questions like these are becoming more common.
Is “Mother’s Day” a thing of the past as we know it? What about Father’s Day? Are we headed for a general “Parent’s Day?” The issue is not ultimately about some holiday that has only recently been invented (comparatively speaking), and that is in no way central to the Christian faith, or even church history. The issue is ultimately that God-given gender roles are now being redefined.
For a child to grow up with lesbian guardians as the picture of a complete parental unit is to effectively say that there is no distinction between what a mother offers in the molding and shaping of a child and what a man as the father has to offer. The real question rising to the surface yet again is, “What does it mean to be a man or a woman who is uniquely made in the image of God?” Is the only difference physical anatomy? Then what are the gender distinctions? Christians in this culture are going to have to be able to respond to that question courageously, carefully, and biblically.
Magazines like The The New Yorker, to some degree, represent cultural trends and sentiments and therefore serve as one (among many) helpful barometers of cultural beliefs and values. Of course, highlighting this issue doesn’t call into question the value or ability of women in raising children. The same problem would exist if the parental figures in the picture were both male. Both men and women, dads and moms, are insufficient without the God-designed complement of the other. Children are best cared for in a biblical context.
Our children need to see on the stage of our marriage the beautiful waltz of biblical masculinity with biblical femininity. They need to have modeled the accents and contrasts of true manhood and womanhood so that they know what to emulate and what to look for in a future spouse. Certainly, there are many Christian qualities and virtues that everyone should have regardless of gender (Gal 5:22-23). Yet, there are unique gifts that only a man, or a woman, will have to bestow upon a son or daughter.
While society may be growing unclear as to what we actually celebrate on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, followers of Christ must strive to display the good news of the gospel by living out our unique, God-given identities, identities that Christ sacrificed his very own life in order to redeem.
Posted on May 20th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Kurd, Turkish-Speaking of Turkey
Religion: Islam (99.99%)
% Christian/% Evangelical: 0.01%/0.00%
About: At 25 million people, the Kurds are the currently the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own. They are unevenly distributed between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan. If the Middle East map were to be redrawn to give the Kurds their own boundaries, Kurdistan would be as large as France, stretching over 200,000 square miles.
Kurdish Life: Kurdish society consists mainly of tribes that arose from a nomadic and semi-nomadic way of life in previous centuries. It is strongly fragmented and is often split by internal disagreements. So far in history, the Kurds have never really managed to unite in their common cause. Their primary loyalty is to the immediate family, and then to the tribe. Tribe allegiance is, however, based on a mixture of kinship and territorial loyalty. Many Kurds of the lower regions are not organized in tribes, but even there, strife is common between the different clans and communities.
Beliefs: It has been said that Kurds “hold their Islam lightly”, meaning that they are not so vehement about Islam, and they do not identify as closely with it as Arabs do. This is perhaps due to several factors, one being that many Kurds still feel some connection with the ancient Zoroastrian faith, and they feel it is an original Kurdish spirituality that far predates the seventh century AD arrival of Muhammad. Nonetheless, most Kurds are Muslims, and today about three-quarters are members of the majority Sunni branch (at least nominally). As many as four million Kurds are Shiite Muslims, living mostly in Iran where the Shiite faith is predominant.
Needs: In Turkey, where the largest contingent of Kurds live (40%), the Kurds are seen as a threat by the Turkish government, which has continually sought to assimilate the Kurds into Turkish society through forced resettlement. Until recently, it was a crime to speak Kurdish in public.
Tribalism is still a factor among Kurds, promoting many different factions which weaken the possibility of an independent homeland. The Kurds in Iraq have hurt their own cause infighting between the two primary parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Although the engagement of the UN in northern Iraq has necessarily also given continuity to the political cause of the Kurds, the question of Kurdish autonomy remains unresolved. One possible solution to this problem is to achieve genuine agreement on some kind of self-government.
Of course, more than anything, the Turkish speaking Kurds of Turkey need Jesus.
- Ask the Lord to convict Kurds of their need for a Savior.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Kurds who are Christians.
- Ask God to send more laborers to work among the Kurds.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Kurds towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of Turkey’s governmental leaders to the gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Turkish speaking Kurds of Turkey.
Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! – Psalm 117:1
Posted on May 17th, 2013 by Cory Varden
1. Religion and Public Life in America by R.R. Reno: Religious liberty is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces…
2. Kermit Gosnell’s America — What His Trial Really Reveals by Albert Mohler: The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell ended yesterday, with the infamous abortion doctor convicted of three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. The doctor’s abortion clinic, described by a Philadelphia prosecutor as a “house of horrors,” is no more, but the truth revealed in his trial remains. He is not the only one with blood on his hands…
3. How Far Is Too Far? by Tim Challies: Everyone has had to ask or answer the question at one time or another: When it comes to the physical component of a dating relationship, how far is too far? Can we hold hands? Can we kiss? Can we do a little bit more than kiss? Should we even explore the physical relationship a little bit to ensure we are compatible?
Posted on May 16th, 2013 by David Burnette
When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by citing from Deuteronomy 6:5, a call for God’s people to love Him. The second great commandment is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:34-40).
Similarly, Paul says that all the commandments are summed up in the command to love our neighbor. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:9-10).
In light of the centrality of love as a mark of following Christ, it is good to take our own temperature concerning whether or not love marks our thoughts, desires, words, and actions. This doesn’t have to be an overly introspective process, but rather a way of pursuing Christ-likeness by the power of the Spirit. Only the gospel creates in us a new heart capable of loving God and neighbor, and until our redemption is complete our love will always be insufficient and mixed with sin. Nevertheless, we should pursue and expect to see “faith working through love,” to use Paul’s phrase (Gal 5:6).
Using the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, the subject of a previous post, here are several questions to help us get below the surface and pursue love:
1. Love is patient and kind (v.4)
Am I easily irritated when others don’t meet my expectations? Do I become angry when I feel like my time is being wasted? Do I believe God is using ‘seemingly’ pointless delays for my good? Is my general demeanor toward family and co-workers gracious?
2. Love does not envy or boast (v.4)
Do I steer conversations to highlight my strengths? When others around me succeed, do I get worried? Are there highly gifted people around me that I seek to find fault with? Do I secretly want my accomplishments, both past and present, to be known to those around me? Is God’s assessment of me in Christ more or less important to me than my perceived reputation in the eyes of others?
3. Love is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way (v.5)
Am I more interested in expressing my feelings and opinions than seeking to understand the needs of others? How do I treat those with whom I strongly disagree? Do I shut down when people dismiss my ideas? How do I treat those who can’t repay me or return the favor? Does my attitude and demeanor give any indication that God has cancelled my infinitely large sin debt?
4. Love is not irritable or resentful (v.5)
Do I avoid those who disagree with me? Is it enjoyable for me to rehearse and point out the folly of others? How often do I give reasons why I shouldn’t forgive someone? Do I trust that judgment ultimately belongs to God, and that He will carry it out perfectly?
5. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (v. 6)
Do I prefer to keep half-truths hidden if they make me uncomfortable? Am I more concerned about how people and events affect my kingdom or God’s? Does sin and evil in the world grieve me or entertain me? Am I grateful when truth and justice prevail? Is my first concern for God’s glory and not my own vindication?
6. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (v. 7)
Do I tend to give up on people when they fail? Do I avoid long-term ministry commitments? Is all my time spent finding ways to avoid hardships? How do I respond to tragedy? Do I actually believe that my future is what God’s Word says it will be?
Each of us can find ways that we fail the test when it comes to love. However, the answer is not to despair, but to confess our lack of love and look to God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ (1 Jn 1:9). We should ask God to continue His work in us, and the good news for unloving people like us is that, according to Philippians 1:6, God has promised to do just that.
So let’s pursue love, and as the apostle John reminds us, let’s remember that our love is not the main focus:
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).
Posted on May 16th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
In Saudi Arabia, a Lebanese man has recently been sentenced to 6 years in prison and 300 lashings for leading a Saudi woman to Christ, and then allegedly helping her escape the country.
There’s not a country on the planet more inherently Muslim than Saudi Arabia. It is, after all, home to the Muslim holy city and destination for millions of pilgrim worshippers each year – Mecca. So for Muslims who live there, to convert from Islam to another religion is a capitol offense that can result in execution. Proselytizing there is also illegal: It doesn’t matter if you’re from another country and have a different belief system altogether… you’re expected to keep that to yourself.
So let’s pray for this man. But let’s also pray for prospective missionaries who are trying to get into Saudi Arabia and for believers who may already be there. The battle there is uphill, to be sure, but our God’s mighty arm is not too short to save. He deserves the praise of Saudis too.
HT: First Things
Posted on May 16th, 2013 by Eric Parker
Pastor David talks about preaching in terms of his own life and ministry with Dr. Blake Newsom of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This interview covers topics ranging from the life of the preacher, to what it looks like practically to prepare a sermon.
Posted on May 15th, 2013 by Eric Parker
We live in a day and age of instant gratification. Microwaves cook your meals quicker. Cell phones go everywhere with you for instant access to anyone and everyone. The internet (on your phone no less) puts whole libraries of information instantly at your finger tips. Naturally, then, we would expect everyone we share the gospel with to quickly and instantly become a Christian. While conversion does happen in an instant, it is not always immediately clear or discernable. It can be weeks, months, or years before someone acknowledges Jesus as Lord. When this turns into a lengthy process, we often feel discouraged, and are even tempted to give up. Jim Elliot offers this testimony and observation:
Personally, I wasn’t ‘saved’ all at once, but took some years coming into my present settled convictions about the truth of God. So why should I demand that conversion be immediate in all others? Christ healed men differently. Some, in absentia – He spoke a word, and there was a lightning-fast reaction. Others he touched, spat upon, made clay, spoke to and questioned, then when they saw men ‘as trees walking’ he went through the whole process again. Let not him who accepts light in an instant despise him who gropes months in shadows. It took the Twelve three years to apprehend what was being shown them. The natural, so often illustrative of the spiritual, teaches that healing and growth, yea, even birth, are processes, and I think we alter-callers often perform abortions in our haste to see ‘results.’
Jim Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty, 102-103
Posted on May 14th, 2013 by David Burnette
If you’ve benefited from the biblical resources produced by Crossway, not least of which is the ESV Study Bible, see the following from Lane Dennis, Crossway’s President, regarding the recent flood which significantly damaged their facilities:
Some of the priority projects affected include:
- Translation costs for the ESV Chinese Study Bible, to be published in Mainland China
- Printing costs for 60,000 copies of the Chinese-English ESV bilingual Bible, also for publication and distribution in Mainland China
- Completion and global distribution of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible this fall
- Development of the Knowing the Bible studies, to be offered free digitally worldwide
To support Crossway or learn more, go here.
Posted on May 14th, 2013 by David Burnette
The audio and video of Pastor David Platt’s teaching sessions at Secret Church 13, “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World,” are now available for a free download under our ‘Resources’ tab. Simply click here.
You can choose between two different options for the Study Guide, which is also free. You can download a Study Guide with open blanks, or with answers filled in.
In order to purchase a DVD, a hard copy of the Study Guide, or bundle packaging, go here.
If you haven’t already, get a small group together and work through these crucial topics.
Posted on May 13th, 2013 by David Burnette
It almost sounds cliched now to hear Christians criticize our culture’s distorted definition of love. And, of course, this criticism is warranted. People seem to be using the word ‘love’ and then pouring in any old definition that suits their purposes.
We should question our culture’s squishy, unbiblical view of love, but we need to make sure that we put something more solid in its place. To do this, there are few places in Scripture that offer us more help than 1 Corinthians 13. This is a text we often hear at weddings, and it certainly fits the bill in terms of how husbands and wives ought to relate to one another. However, love in 1 Corinthians 13 is more than sentimental and pink roses; this is the work of the Spirit in the believer’s heart.
Paul expounds on the theme of love to believers in Corinth who were struggling with pride and divisiveness. For them (and for us) the apostle seeks to explain biblical love and to help us spot it.
Based on 1 Corinthians 13, we can identify 6 things that do NOT necessarily indicate that love is present:
- speaking with the tongues of men and of angels (1)
- possessing prophetic powers (2)
- understanding all mysteries and all knowledge (2)
- believing in such a way that mountains are moved (2)
- giving away all your possessions (3)
- sacrificing your body to be burned up with fire (3)
So if these things are not necessarily indications that love is present, what should we look for? Paul tells us that love is:
- patient and kind (4)
- not envious or boastful or rude (4-5)
- not insistent on its own way (5)
- not irritable or resentful (5)
- not glad about wrongdoing (6)
- glad about the truth (6)
- willing to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things (7)
- never-ending (8)
Much more could be said of the Bible’s definition and description of love, but 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a good start. Notice that the first list above, the things that don’t necessarily mean that true love is present, don’t require a transformed heart. Possessing great power, great abilities, and even sacrificing one’s own life can be done without a heart transformed by the Spirit. However, the second list of items requires new desires and affections.
We cannot simply muster up the willpower to stop being envious or to genuinely rejoice with the truth. Sure, some of these characteristics are present in unbelievers, at least in part; this is part of being created in God’s image. However, a genuine work of the Spirit will produce a love that perseveres in each of these characteristics. Christians don’t love perfectly, but they do continue to grow in this kind of love.
As we rightly call into question our culture’s perverted definition of love, let us keep in mind what love really looks like. And if we forget how to spot it, 1 Corinthians 13 can serve as our guide.
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