Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Month: August 2008

God’s Sovereign Reign Over Gustav

Knowing God is all-sovereign over all creation, that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and involvement; and knowing that at any moment He could stay Gustav from causing massive damage, we must be willing to embrace that what God has ordained is being used for His glory and righteous purposes, and thus submit to His rule. He is righteous and holy. We are not. He knows what we humans need infinitely better than we do, as difficult as these circumstances may be.

At the same time, because we know God is all-sovereign and all-powerful, may we pray for mercy for those within the coastal region affected by this storm, that they may be spared sorrow upon sorrow, and at the same time pray they may see God’s mighty merciful hand working even in the midst of something so catastrophic, that ultimately they may see the glory of Christ and His power in salvation. If we believe God is not sovereign over this, we sever the only hope in it: that God has a purpose beyond what we mere finite, sinful humans can comprehend.

May the Gospel be displayed to those affected by this storm in which we proclaim the Gospel through word and service for their needs, because this is what we all need more desperately than anything in this world: the salvation and rescue of our souls, both now and for eternity. May the Lord use this to bring honor and glory to His name, regardless of what happens. May we submit to His sovereign Kingship over His creation, and particularly Gustav, knowing especially that for us who are saved, all these things are working together for our good and His glory. Lord, please be merciful, yet not our will but Your will be done.

Was Katrina Intelligent Design? – John Piper
Tsunami and Repentance – John Piper
The NPR Tsunami Interview (MP3) – John Piper

May we not dare put God in the dock as to what He is doing with this, as if He must give an account to us. We have no clue what we speak of … like Job, may we cover our mouths with our hands in awe at His sovereignty and power and the fact that as believers, He spared us when He didn’t have to, in the Person and Work of Christ.

Update: 9/2/2008

Praise God for displaying His sovereign mercy in sparing New Orleans a direct hit …

A Response to an Anti-Obama Email I Received

Wow. Apparently being written from a self-professed Christian, I honestly don’t know what else I can say about this.


“JACK WHEELER is a brilliant man who was the author of Reagan’s strategy to break the back of the Soviet Union with the star wars race and expose their inner weakness. For years he wrote a weekly intelligence update that was extremely interesting and well structured and informed. He consults(ed) with several mega corporations on global trends and the future, etc. I think he is in semi-retirement now. He is a true patriot with a no-nonsense approach to everything. He is also a somewhat well known mountain climber and adventurer. Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler the O-man, Barack Hussein Obama, is an eloquently tailored empty suit. No resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how the economy works, no understanding of how the world works, nothing but abstract empty rhetoric devoid of real substance. He has no real identity. He is half-white, which he rejects. The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in Kenya . Only a small part of him is African Black from his Luo grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively. What he isn’t, not a genetic drop of, is ‘African-American,’ the descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America chained in slave ships. He hasn’t a single ancestor who was a slave. Instead, his Arab ancestors were slave owners. Slave-trading was the main Arab business in East Africa for centuries until the British ended it. Let that sink in: Obama is not the descendant of slaves; he is the descendant of slave owners. Thus he makes the perfect Liberal Messiah. It’s something Hillary doesn’t understand – how some complete neophyte came out of the blue and stole the Democratic nomination from her. Obamamania is beyond politics and reason. It is true religious cults, whose adherents rejects Christianity yet still believe in Original Sin, transferring it from the evil of being human to the evil of being white. Thus Obama has become the white liberals’ Christ, offering absolution from the Sin of Being White.

There is no reason or logic behind it, no faults or flaws of his can diminish it, no arguments Hillary could make of any kind can be effective against it. The absurdity of Hypocrisy Clothed in Human Flesh being their Savior is all the more cause for liberals to worship him: Credo quia absurdum, I believe it because it is absurd. Thank heavens that the voting majority of Americans remain Christian and are in no desperate need of a phony savior. His candidacy is ridiculous and should not be taken seriously by any thinking American.”


Ah, what a forceful and convincing argument. If I were hypothetically voting for Obama, I surely wouldn’t now [wink]. And now my fed up response to those conservatives who send out such nonsense.


“I don’t agree with Obama on a whole host of issues (not to mention his whole worldview perspective) and will obviously not be voting for him … But I could come up with a list of things in that article that are blatantly anti-Christian to even say. Just the way things are phrased reeks of blinding self-righteousness. Unfortunately, it’s that kind of rhetoric that makes conservative Christians look like a bunch of insensitive idiots to the rest of the unbelieving world.

My response to the assertions made such as “he’s half white,” and “The rest of him is mostly Arab” (even if true, which my question is, SO WHAT?): they reek of racism and a feeling of cultural superiority against all others, which is totally rejected and commanded against in the New Testament on many many occasions as an attitude not in line with a life lived out of the Gospel that has saved us poor desperate sinners who deserve only wrath. And Obama “has no real identity?” That’s just a blatant flaming ad hominem against Obama as a person. Yes, he’s a person, a human being, believe it or not. Of course he has an identity. Absurd.

Seriously, before speaking, Christian’s really need to read over basic proper argumentation logic and avoid falling into giant debating pitfalls such as the following http://www.carm.org/apologetics/fallacies.htm . “Obama is not the descendant of slaves; he is the descendant of slave owners.” Again, so what if he was or wasn’t, as an argument for or against him, on either side of the aisle? What relevance does any of this have to him as a valid Presidential candidate or not? Not once have any major political issues been mentioned, or ideological problems one might have against his own. The very fact of the matter is, whether white’s like it or not, race relations in this country have finally reached a point in our society where African Americans can now hold the highest office in the nation. And though I won’t be voting for Obama based on ideological, philosophical, and theological reasons, I for one am glad about that as a believer in the Gospel, in the fact that Christ is redeeming people from every, “tribe, tongue, people and nation,” (Revelation) not just from white “Christian” America.

Is anyone on the opposite side of the fence of us conservatives really going to listen to such non-arguments of hatred toward the guy? There is no place for that in a believers life. I’m convinced that for every conservative argument against liberals, there’s an equally condemning argument that could made against us as well. Articles like this prove that fact. Just the attitude with which many conservatives come at liberals just implicitly and explicitly asserts that we are somehow inherently better than them. But we’re not. We’re just as messed up as they are … sinners in desperate need of a Savior. However, we’re the “Pharisees” in this cultural picture, the one’s who are all cleaned up on the outside and dead on the inside, we just do a better job of hiding it (maybe) so we don’t look bad to our peers. And really? “Thank heavens that the voting majority of Americans remain Christian” … um, yeah, not with attitudes like this so much. We’ve become almost as non-Christian and adoctrinal as Europe was ten years ago, and yes, since they’ve gotten worse since then, it is likely we will as well, save by the grace of Christ. Again, we more resemble the Pharisees in Jesus’ time who hated other people, like the woman at the well, all Gentiles, and those begging at the temple gate … yet those were the people Jesus displayed His power and authority to, opening their eyes, healing their wounds and disabilities, and usually saving them with a mighty hand, something he needs to do for us as a group as well, apparently.

I hope Obama is not President, but certainly NOT for the reasons given in this article. I have disagreements with his policies on healthcare, economics, morality issues, defense issues, etc., but not him as a person. Why don’t you send this back up the chain to how ever many people were on the list …”


Updated @ 11:32 pm

John Hendryx has some excellent answers on evangelicals and politics in this online interview, which I am excerpting. I figured this commentary would be good to add to the issue above as well.


“10. What is your opinion of the evangelical interest in politics and the identification of many Christians with the Republican party?

While I believe we should be engaged in our civic duty to vote and be engaged, it appears to me that many evangelicals have gone beyond the call of duty and have bought into dominion theology. Some of us seem to hold the false belief that if we just changed the laws and made the US political system based on the Bible then all would be well while not considering the changing of hearts. My response to this is that the problem is not just OUT THERE, it is with us. If we lived like we believed the gospel ourselves, then God would use us to change the culture. While I can agree that civil law can be used to restrain evil, we often bludgeon our secular opponents with it as if they could somehow be saved through obedience to it. I believe the first table of the law cannot be legislated. Persons must be persuaded into the Kingdom by human instruments casting seed with the Spirit germinating it, so to speak, but not by the sword or by coercive legal measures. Contrary to my evangelical and Theonomist brethren, I do not believe that the civil magistrate has the authority to judge heresy. A little known historical fact is that the Presbyterian Church wisely invoked semper reformanda and removed chapter 23(?) on the Civil Magistrate from the Westminster Confession in the early 1700s. A move for which I am thankful. Instead, we are to take up our cross and persuade as Jesus did, through meekness, suffering, joy, helping the poor and loving others above ourselves.

I have no problem with Christians personally identifying themselves with a party, but I will emphasize that politics is not the solution to our problems by any stretch of the imagination. There is entirely too much emphasis placed on it, as if God’s plan could somehow be thwarted. We should vote and do what we can to eradicate injustice, poverty and to actively find ways to be involved in mercy ministries. This might mean entering politics on a local level or just merely spending time with hurting people. But if the Republicans don’t get elected next term it isn’t the end of the world. Maybe a little discomfort will begin to burn off the dross in our churches. We must remember that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. If God wills that we should live in Babylon, we must serve the it with excellence, influencing it by being good stewards of the calling God has given each one of us. Though some may be tempted when things get real bad, we should never take up arms to further our political agenda.

I have lived in a communist country for 10 years and, I can tell you with certainty, that the gospel is not chained because of a political system. On the contrary, communism has been a key factor in raising interest in Christianity in that country on a massive scale for the first time in their 5000-year history. It seems that Christians have become so addicted to comfort here that there is very little awareness of how people are living in the rest of the world. But we Americans are of very little account in the big scheme of things.”

Taken from http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo … 20Hendryx/

Using the Gospel Message as a Means for Political Activism

“I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice. Let Him be our example.” – Donald Miller, Opening Prayer at the DNC Last Night

More than anything I am saddened by Donald Miller’s recent statements both in an interview with ChristianityToday and his prayer last night at the DNC. I realize many I know are fans (some big fans) of Donald Miller and to say anything against the ideas or theology of someone who may have been instrumental in opening them up toward Christianity makes me somewhat of an outcast, which is hard. I pray by God’s grace you may see what I’m saying as well as my concerns. I want to affirm that I am indeed glad for the work Miller has done in bringing a new generation a different angle on things that has been used by God in order to bring them to the obedience of faith in Christ, for the salvation of their souls. I know personally of a few former high school students where this was indeed the case. And for that I praise God!

But for the sake of the purity of the Gospel we preach to the world, I cannot help but point out where we really need to watch ourselves and our theology. Most of the time, false doctrine historically has started out small, in things that are questionable, yet maybe not worth splitting over at the moment. But over time, that small error begins to snowball, and gets bigger and bigger, until what you are left with is exactly what Satan wants: a gutted, Christ-less, cross-less, dead Christianity that has nothing to say to the world by which people may be saved. Just look at the state of a majority of mainline denominations in both the United States and Europe. That is the fallout of gutting the Gospel in the 19th and 20th centuries of its essential message. We would do well to pay attention to this.

I am not questioning the intentions of Donald Miller in praying at the DNC, though I would question doing it in the first place from a true Christian worldview perspective (that goes for the RNC as well I might add). Regardless, I have no doubt that he means well, honestly. But more than the abortion statements he’s made recently (which alone are just blatantly inaccurate), more than the liberal political activism he’s engaged in (which is hypocritically doing the same thing he accuses conservatives of doing in the Republican party), this statement alone during his prayer at the DNC last night really gets under my skin, mainly for the sake of the purity of the Gospel. This is a case in point of why theology matters greatly. You don’t have to be a seminary student or prof to know at the very least the essentials of your own faith and the great tradition passed down to us over the course of church history. In fact, this is a necessity with the winds of doctrine whipping back and forth at hurricane force speed.

Now to the main point of my issue with Miller’s statement. Was the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God mainly “against the forces of injustice,” as an unbelieving world sees it? Or was it, in Jesus’ own words, “… to give [my] life a ransom for many?” Does Miller’s statement do justice to what was intended by the prophecy of Isaiah 53 as it pertains to the suffering Messiah, as well as the interpretation of the whole Old Testament in relation to the work of Christ in the book of Hebrews? What kind of message does this convey to 1) the DNC, and 2) the rest of the world about the main point, the heart of the matter of the work of Christ on behalf of sinners? It conveys the “Jesus died as our example” theory of the atonement, which is what the world naturally thinks when they look at the message of the Gospel without any investigation into what it’s actually saying. Yet the main point was not so much to give us an example to imitate (which is just law upon law, though of course He still is our example), but rather the main intention was to 1) show the righteousness of God in passing over former sins, and 2) to satisfy the wrath of God through His blood in the place of sinners in great unearned, undeserved love and mercy (Romans 3:21-26).

When a outspoken member of the evangelical community proclaims loud and clear, “I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice. Let Him be our example,” this falls right in line with what the world already naturally thinks about Christianity and thus confirms their false presuppositions concerning it. Therefore, Miller’s short statement of the intention of the cross is actually counter to the Gospel and does injury to it. This is the old-time [theologically] liberal action of attempting to make Christianity more palatable to an unbelieving world by lopping off the very heart of the message which is an offense or foolishness to the world.

If we are going to believe 1 Corinthians 1 about the foolishness of what we preach (foolishness in man’s eyes, not God’s), we must understand that the Gospel was never meant to be made palatable to the natural man, but that in the foolishness of what we preach (with all of its hard doctrinal edges, namely sin, wrath, death, hell, justice, election, love, mercy, sacrificial atonement, bodily resurrection, regeneration, faith, etc.), the power of God is displayed in Him converting souls to faith in Christ to a message that is counter to the world’s message. The very fact of the matter is the world cannot accept the Gospel as the truth until the Holy Spirit lifts the veil on people’s hearts, removes hearts of stone, gives people eyes to see it, ears to hear it (which is why we witness to unbelievers and pray for this operation of God, knowing only He can convert people). And in this way, God grants faith to those He wishes in order to display His glory in all the steps of salvation and the power of His might in bringing people to life from death who never would have or could have converted themselves.

But making the Gospel a message of “fighting injustice” and Christ merely as our “example”? Though I would hope, of course, that Miller would personally go on to say there was way, way more intended by the death of Christ on behalf of sinners than just becoming our example, the very fact of the matter is that the world does not implicitly get that from a “Christ our example” presentation of the Gospel. Even unbelievers can affirm that message, as they do every day in one form or another in our modern day of relativistic thinking.

Related Reading:

The Seeker-Sensitive Movement: Your Thoughts Al and R.C.

And Willow Creek’s own assessment seems to fall right in line with R.C. and Al’s comments … http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outof … ek_re.html

The Gospel – The Foolishness of What We Preach

From the way many teachers teach and many pastors preach nowadays, you would think the Gospel was something that just makes sense to people, that it’s like a lay up explanation that will solve all of people’s various urgent problems. “First, all you have to do (as if the demands of the Gospel were in our own power to achieve, namely faith and repentance that only come from God to begin with) is 1, then 2, and then 3, and bingo! You’re saved and all your problems will be fixed because God wants you to live life to your fullest potential!” If we can boil the Gospel down into this nice little package, maybe people will more easily accept it, at least so the thinking goes.

Yet, the Scriptures indicate that to the natural person, the Gospel, and the cross in particular, is an utterly foolish message, or a stumbling block. Why is this? Well, for one, we are dead in sins. It is a foolish message to a spiritually dead man until God creates light and faith in the heart of the unbeliever. The Gospel is the opposite of what the world expects. Our culture looks for what’s practically relevant for their problems in the here and now, something they can do. “How can I overcome my stress?” “How do I get a better marriage?” And so on. Preachers like Joel Osteen address this message loud and clear that God’s main goal for your life is to live it to the fullest now, all you have to do is A, B, and C, because God helps those who help themselves, so they say.

The Gospel message is counter to this though. Whereas the world’s gospel is do 1, 2, and 3, and then God will accept you or bless you or whatever, the Gospel message comes in and states that you were so bad off in your sin and innate rebellion against God that He had to do the work Himself in the Person of Christ to redeem you. And He did this not out of compulsion, but out of pure, divine, premeditated love for His people.

Yet many teachers nowadays seem to think that the former message, that God just wants A, B, and C from you before he’ll accept you, is the Gospel of Christianity, when that is actually antithetical to the message! Even the obedience of faith, if not seen as the work of God itself, lends us to the conclusion that we must achieve something apart from the work of God in us, that we must dig ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in before God will lift a finger. But in ourselves, we can’t see Christ, can’t believe the Gospel unless God reveals Christ to us, creating in us that which was not there: belief. This is the new birth. And it is necessary not only to see the kingdom of God, but also to enter it (John 3).

I was reading through my daily Scripture reading today, that is simultaneously going through the latter part of the Psalms and 1 Corinthians at the moment, and came to the passages where Paul speaks about this very thing.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (Particularly through the Gospel?)” – 1 Corinthians 1:20

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach (the Gospel) to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified (the Gospel), a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Summed up: the Gospel is foolishness, utter nonsense, the antithesis, the opposite of what the world, by default, expects to hear. And therefore, the world regards the Gospel as foolishness. Most in the world assume they know what we’re going to say as it pertains to the Gospel. “Jesus is a great teacher and if you emulate His example of perfection, you will be saved, because God helps those who help themselves.” Yet this is not the Gospel! And how unfortunate it is that teachers in the evangelical church now preach this very thing as Gospel-truth. This is a flat out lie. The Gospel is God’s power through Christ to save us because it was impossible for us to save ourselves. And He achieved our salvation through weakness, temptation, submission, and ultimately, He intentionally gave Himself to destruction on our behalf, in order to raise us to new life through the power of His resurrection.

In verses 22 through 24, Paul distinguishes between how three different groups respond to the message of the Gospel.

First of all, the Jews, particularly in Paul’s time. When the Jews heard the message of Christ crucified for sinners, it was a stumbling block. Their Messiah was not supposed to give Himself unto destruction and punishment in our place. Rather, He was to be the triumphant King who would come into Jerusalem and wipe out the Romans. He was to be the One who would, through a mighty political arm, rescue His people and give those “pagans” what they deserved: the sword. He was not supposed to be a servant but a mighty ruler, a conqueror.

And yet, Jesus, their Messiah, came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He came as a poor, humble servant, a carpenter. He came not to be honored, but to give that up in order that through His perfect work for us, He might reconcile us to God. This was the opposite of what the Jews thought. This is the Gospel. It is a stumbling block because at the cross, we see how bad our sin nature really is that we would crucify God Himself. We threw the worst we had at Christ on the cross. Yet He willingly did this to rescue us from utter destruction because not only did He suffer physically, but He took the wrath of God in Himself that was owed to us for our rebellion. This message was counter-intuitive to the Jewish culture who thought that righteousness (or a pure and right-standing with God) was obtained through adherence to the Mosaic and Levitcal law. Yet righteousness, as Paul clearly points out, is obtained through faith. This message is a stumbling block and a rock of offense to the Jews because it pulled the rug out from underneath their system of self-salvation.

Then there is another group, the Greeks, or the Gentiles, or in other words, the rest of us. This group considers the message of Christ crucified for sinners as foolishness, utter nonsense. Greeks are known for their many philosophies on life, salvation, man, a whole host of topics. And again, their message, much like the Jews, can be summed up like this: man has the capacity to achieve whatever the deity requires; or man in himself and his abilities can achieve greatness. This presupposed idea permeates Greek philosophy and really all worldly religious systems of understanding God outside of the Scriptures. It is the natural result of depraved minds incapacitated from the fall. As Paul says, it can all be summed up as, “the wisdom of the world.” The wisdom of the world is that man can achieve essentially whatever he wants, including any type of religious salvation through his own strength. So you can imagine that when they hear the message of the cross, that God became man, submitted Himself to humiliation, fulfilled all righteousness, gave Himself unto death on the cross on behalf of sinners, and rose from the grave, it makes absolutely no sense to them, for they want a message of what they can do, not what someone has done for them, especially God Himself. To them it is just silly talk, fantasies and fairy tales.

The message of the cross is counter-intuitive to both Jews and Greeks. Jews expected a political Savior. Greeks expect salvation to be anything other than God becoming one of us and giving Himself in our place. Both of their presuppositions about man are essentially the same though: man has the ability to achieve whatever is demanded of him. The cross of Christ begs to differ. The cross cries out: this is what was required to save your soul because of your own sinful incapacity to do it yourself! The cross shows us how bad off we really are, what was required of us as a result of our sin (the wrath of God), and at the same time this shows how great the love and mercy of God is toward us.

However, Paul then distinguishes a third group, labeling them in essence, “those who are called.” This group consists of both kinds of the aforementioned person, Jews and Greeks. This group regards the cross, not as a stumbling block and not as foolishness, but as “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” But how? If this message makes no sense to the world, why do they differ from the other two groups? Was it something they did to make them see? No! They were called of God, born of God’s Spirit, that as a result of His work in them, they no longer regard the cross as utter nonsense like the Greeks, or as a stumbling block to their own self-salvation, but as the power of God for salvation. Now they see the cross as the wisdom of God and the greatest achievement in all the universe. Because of God’s work in their souls to see and hear the truth of the Gospel, piercing through the darkness of their own souls, they see the cross not as the largest defeat in the universe, but as the largest triumph over evil, through which their own salvation was procured and infallibly secured. But it was not their working and toiling and pleasing God that granted them the right and ability to see the cross as the wisdom, power, and genius work of God. Rather, it was God unconditionally granting them the ability to see the truth of what was purchased for them upon the cross. And even more than that, it was that very work on the cross that gained them this very ability to see. They have been born of the Spirit of God and as a result, they believe the message.

If our Gospel message makes sense to the world, based upon the passages above, I cannot see how our message is faithful to the Scriptures. If they world nods their heads in agreement with our message, there must be something dreadfully wrong. If the world does not reject this message as a whole, I honestly think we need to reexamine what we personally believe that message to be. The Gospel is foolishness to the world, a stumbling block, because it tells people the opposite of what the world preaches: that man is basically good and can achieve salvation of himself, whenever he so pleases. The Gospel says you are more sinful, turned away from God, spiritually incapable than you can possibly imagine. But through Christ’s achievement, by God’s mercy alone, you can be reconciled to God by His work in your soul to believe this message. As Jonathan Edwards said, “We are dependent on God, not only for redemption itself but for our faith in the Redeemer; not only for the gift of His Son but for the Holy Ghost for our conversion.”

If you don’t see the message of Christ crucified for sinners as the wisdom of God and even now regard it as foolishness, beg of God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear Him, a new heart that can respond to Him in love, and a new divine sense that can at last taste and see that the Lord is good. Apart from Christ’s work in you, to show you your lost estate, to reveal your depravity, you will continue to regard this message of salvation as nonsense. Beg of God to create faith in your heart. He alone is your only hope of being able to do anything pleasing in His sight.

A New Kind of Family?

After you have a child, you begin to look at the world, entertainment, television, community, family, all sorts of things in a totally different perspective. At least I have. I noticed the other day in flipping TV stations that the ABC Family channel has a new slogan: A New Kind of Family. Maybe it’s not a new slogan, I don’t know. Regardless, it seems to me as if they are marketing to the millions of viewers who live in what our culture calls “non-traditional” or “progressive” families. Unfortunately now in this day in age, we live in a society of these kinds of families that are totally dysfunctional, where priorities are all askew, parents divorce and remarry like they are in middle school dating relationships, people in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s are having kids out of wedlock intentionally (and unintentionally through promiscuity), and what the culture calls a “traditional” family is now the minority. I myself grew up in a highly dysfunctional home. My wife did as well. We are still feeling the effects of that dysfunction to this day. Yet Christ has been gracious to reverse a majority of the damage through His power alone and continues to sustain us. All that to say, the individualistic tendencies within our culture are now getting the best of us. The very fact that ABC Family would go this route in their marketing points to this sad reality: their main tool for bringing in viewers is to make shows targeting this breakdown in the family unit, because that is now the majority of people in this country.

Our culture now not only views marriage in a distorted way, but is presenting this distorted viewpoint as what is normal. That is kind of frightening to me. God created us male and female and instituted a covenant marriage relationship between the two sexes as what is fitting and normal. Families just don’t work in the way God intended them to work unless they are structured in this manner. Any other ordering of a family unit is trying to perfectly fit a square peg in a round hole. Sure, people can make you think what they want by presenting their disordered family as something that is normal and as something that is “working,” much in the same way you can force the square peg into the round hole, but forcing it in still doesn’t make the square peg a perfect fit because the corners will get stripped off of the peg.

ABC Family is an example of the media presenting this distortion as normal, acceptable, because clearly their target audience is no longer the traditional family, but the new, progressive family. They feel that is the norm now, otherwise, wouldn’t they still be marketing to the traditional family? But the reality is families are dying from the inside out and this has adverse effects on the culture. Mothers’ and fathers’ lack of commitment to each other and their family’s, and their lack of God-honoring actions are ripping lives and relationships apart, particularly their children’s lives, whose relationships with their (married, not divorced) parents are necessary for proper mental, social, and most importantly, spiritual development. Living in a covenant marriage “’til death do us part” with one man and one woman is not just a preference for how we want our family’s to be, but rather it is the way God Himself designed it and sovereignly set forth as the way it should and must be. And not only is this so, but it is the only logically functional way for it to work in our lives. Any other way is a distortion of the picture a family was meant to point to: the reality of Christ and His bride, the church, whom He has purchased with His own blood.

What the culture calls traditional in regard to family is in reality that which God has instituted from the beginning and it has not changed, even with the winds of individualism sweeping our land and what our narcissistic Western culture sovereignly deems as right and true. Though we are more technologically enabled and knowledgeable than those from our not so distant past, and though there are some ways of doing things that can be changed and restructured for the better as a result of these advances, the truth and reality of marriage is not something that needs redefining or restructuring. God made it that way for a reason and to go against His design is to go against God Himself in rebellion against His Creator rights. In addition, God has so structured communities in His own design, using the family unit to constitute the group, that it is detrimental for our society to accept this new type of family as the norm. To do so will ultimately be our demise.

God-instituted families are the only kind of family structure that will truly work. Our culture calls the new kind of family progressive as if to distinguish it from a traditional family, as if it were just a matter of preference, like a flavor of ice cream or something. Yet, these new kinds of families will not work because God created things in such a way so that if the components of the family unit are disordered or taken out, things just naturally will inevitably fall apart. And I’m not just talking about gay marriage, though that is definitely a component of what I’m talking about. More specifically, I’m talking about the most common family disordering that is rampant among us: divorce and remarriage. Or as Al Mohler calls it, the “Divorce Industrial Complex.”

This disordering of the family unit and the rampant adultery that plagues our society wreaks havoc in all kinds of ways. It obviously breaks things down the family. But this breakdown works its way out into the society at large. It starts in small communities. Then it moves out further and further into the society, in all its different realms and facets. Most children now (this makes me honestly want to weep) do not know what a God-honoring marriage looks like now as they only know what a broken home looks like. A God-honoring marriage is foreign to most people now. This has tremendous effects on our culture. Just look at it now. We are a people who desperately need the Gospel once again; we need missions not just around the world, but here in our neighborhoods, down the street, at work, in the library, downtown! But this missions work starts in the family first and works its way outward by witnessing to the power of the Gospel not just with our words but our actions in relation to those that are dearest to us.

Divorce and remarriage has wreaked havoc in my life, my wife’s life, as well as countless numbers of you reading this. I realize that many of you have been through divorces, either children of a divorce or the divorcer/divorcee. I also know that many of you are remarried after your divorce. For those of you who were complicit in a divorce or are remarried after a divorce, I am not here to condemn you, for these things are between you and the Lord. That is not my job and I step out of His way in this. I do know that there is great mercy, love, grace, and kindness in Christ, if you will turn and embrace Him.

Yet I cannot escape the conviction that Jesus’ words on these matters are emphatically clear, even though a great majority of people inside and outside the church would seek to just ignore and suppress them. These truths don’t need any deep, Old/New Testament, theological, historical, hermeneutical, contextual analysis to understand. They are clear. And ignoring them does not make their truthfulness any less truthful. They are hard-edged truths (much in the same way hell or predestination are hard truths to accept) that took some working through. I realized families were bad off to a great degree, but did not realize how terribly marriage was esteemed in our culture until I was about to get married and had very wise counsel that guided both of us in our minds and hearts. The statistics shocked and really frightened me as to what I was getting into. I really started taking marriage more seriously than I ever had at that point. (To read more on this go here, thoughts on divorce and remarriage). Some of it was difficult because of the down-hill momentum against marriage in much of our culture that had infected our thinking. But what was difficult to work through has turned out to be a huge blessing in our lives together, by God’s grace and mercy in us.

Much of where we are now as a culture, as it pertains to the family, can be blamed on our cultures’ utopianistic worldview for how individuals should live in communities. It is believed by a great majority of people now that it is okay or normal to live in families that don’t have a father, or mother, or where they have two fathers, two mothers, an uncle, grandparents, or any other combination you can possible think of. Now, I don’t want to negate the fact that there are circumstances where a father or mother dies. That is not what I am talking about here. I’m talking about willful disobedience on the part of parents to what God has instituted in the covenant of marriage.

“‘Til death do us part” means what it says. I believe firmly this includes even if a spouse commits adultery against the other. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to deal with. But it does mean that a covenant was made and it should be upheld. Marriage is not a contract where there are stipulations that if not met it can be broken at will, but rather it is a covenant where the love is unfailing toward the other spouse, even in the midst of something so terrible and emotionally draining. Christ can heal all hurts and reverse the curse though, even when an offense on that scale has been committed against you. That is who we are to turn to, not the divorce lawyer.

However, much of this great problem in our society should also be blamed on the church (possibly a majority of the blame) and our lack of upholding the family as the ideal for what God intended as what will work in reality. And we do this not so much by the words we say, but by the way we live our lives. There is a lot of speak coming from the evangelical church about the family and how we should do things. But there is little action on our part in this regard. Before we point our fingers outward toward what others are doing, maybe we need to look inward and repent of our ways before the throne of God, in order to witness to the power of the Gospel, specifically in family life, that we may win this dying world for Christ.

Last time I checked (which was a few years ago), the divorce rate in the church was worse than the average divorce rate in the rest of society, at least according to Barna. Do you see a problem here? We claim to be the people of God, born anew, raised from the dead by the Spirit’s supernatural saving power in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, who (when we were pursuing nothing but sin) gave us a new heart, new affections, new abilities that we didn’t have before, all in order to do what is right in His eyes, to be pleasing to Him, albeit imperfectly. And yet in practice we live worse than the world we claim to have been redeemed from? I’m missing something here.

There is a giant disconnect in people’s minds between true saving faith and what results from a person born of the Spirit of God who now possesses that faith by God’s gracious act. It is a disconnect that points to a darker reality no one wants to consider: the fact that it is probable that many, many, many people in the church (yes, even Gospel-preaching churches) have not been born of the Spirit of God and live today as nominal Christians, or as Paul would say, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Being born again is not a political label you slap on yourself and claim at any given moment of your life when you so choose. Being born again is something that happens to you by the supernatural working of the Spirit of God in you, by His choice, on His timing, and it is something you will know has happened to you, for the inward testimony of the Spirit is better than all reason (Calvin, Institutes, Book I). God brings you to life from the dead, you don’t. Jesus made this clear in John 3.

This is what conversion is: being raised from the dead through the preaching of the Gospel by God’s power, in order that what results from God’s work in you is belief and faith in Christ, and that what results from this new life are works that are pleasing to God (namely because the works are no longer a duty that must be performed, but it is now your delight to do them, because of your newly regenerated nature). This understanding of salvation doesn’t jive with what I’m hearing statistically coming out of the church these days. God saves you and gives you the means to be saved: faith. To put it in theological terms, faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals). It is God’s work in us, it is His gift to grant. And as a result of this faith, though you will stumble and fall, you do that which is pleasing to Him and will return to Him again and again, for you cannot help but do so.

To be saved, we need this change to happen in us by God’s work, in order that with our eyes opened we may see and believe; with our ears opened, we may hear and understand with a renewed mind; with our hearts transplanted by God’s Spirit, we may love Him with a love created in us first by the Love of Christ. Until this message is preached and until this is a reality in the hearts of professing Christians, from both preachers as well as lay people, we will continue to flounder in our witness to the Gospel in the way we live our lives. And more specifically toward my main point here, we will fail in our witness to the Gospel in family life. The Gospel, salvation, and it’s infallible results (because of God) in people’s lives must not be disconnected any longer. In fact, the Scriptures are clear that for one to continue in willful disobedience points to an absence of saving faith to begin with. And man does this relate to marriage.

The reversal and healing of our nation is going to begin only when we, the church, repent of our wicked ways, seek God’s mercy upon us, and in practice uphold God-instituted marriage as what He has intended for family and community life, for every generation. Godliness starts in the home. This was a point J.I. Packer told Mark Driscoll recently of something that needs to be recovered in our generation. I do not claim to have in any way mastered anything. In as much as I speak to those reading this, I speak to myself and my own heart, for I know that if God were to let me go, I could fall further than I would ever have sinfully wanted to or believed I could go. I know I am wicked beyond what I can imagine or conceive, for I see glimpses of it every day in my constant wandering heart. Yet in Christ, there is great mercy, and conquering power over sin, for the joy and reconciliation to God that is in Christ’s work is greater than anything in the world. He is the source of change in relation to marriage, and is the One from whom and through whom all blessing and ability to do any of these things comes. Without Christ, we can do nothing.


You Must Be Born Again (MP3) – John Piper
Divorce and Remarriage – A Position Paper – John Piper

Top Webcam Email Alerts

I’m a nerd. I’m not afraid to hide it, clearly. As a nerd, I love technology. I have a webcam setup at home for security reasons, pointed across my front yard to catch possible intruders that wish to invade my property or cause other harm. I have a threshold setup on the software I run along with my webcam that, when hit, sends an email attached with a picture (or series of pictures) to an offsite email account.

Most of the time, I just get cars passing by, lightning during a storm, really any kind of movement or light change that causes enough of a fluctuation to trigger a webcam picture alert. Sorting through the emails on partly cloudy days is not always fun and many times, I just delete them all because it is too many to sort through. However, there are some rare occasions that I actually get something good, funny, or odd. Here is a sample of some of the best shots from the past two years that I have kept:
This guy thought he might try and get into my garage and steal some junk in the middle of the night last year in June.

Apparently, it proved to be too much of a risk for him with the flood lights along with neighbors who are not afraid to use a gun. Good, please leave. Whew.

I’m pretty sure this jumping spider knew he would send off an email alert and intentionally walked across the viewing range of the webcam.

It really isn’t that uncommon to see people walking across the yard. You would be quite surprised to know how many neighbors do this during the middle of the day 🙂 Anyway, this guy caught my attention only because he looks exactly like my wife’s brother. It was just the electric meter guy though.

I thought this was a fascinating photo study in the custodial/lawn service arts.

Finally, these are two shots from last nights’ thunderstorm that I thought were pretty awesome.

Updated at 2:00pm on 08/02/2008:

I almost forgot … though we live in the city, we apparently are still on a rural mail route (can’t figure that one out). As such, we receive our mail (I would guess) about every other day on average, from a guy in a jerry-rigged minivan. He drives the thing from the passenger seat. Yet the wheel still resides on the drivers side … and I assume he has pedals on the passenger side as well. I’m still trying to figure out how he drives the thing without easily running into stuff. Very interesting to say the least.

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