January2011Archive for

The Culture Culture

The Kingdom Notes

The Bible teaches, from Genesis 3 onward, the antithesis. Antithesis is a rather fancy theological term that simply affirms that the people of God live their lives in the context of the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. While we are called to love our enemies, we are called to recognize them as enemies. Though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, we are at war. We are called to be set apart, distinct, separate from the world around us. One could even translate ekklesia, which is usually translated “church” in our English Bibles this way, “the called-out ones.” We seem to have forgotten the antithesis in our day, strategizing that if we will become more like the world we might make a difference, that the way to be salt and light is to mask our savor and cover our light. We…

Some Straight Skinny on Crooked Thinking

The Kingdom Notes

We serve an exponential God. He who made everything out of nothing does not increase through addition, but through multiplication. We move from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from blessing to blessing. The more we grow in grace the more blessed we are. The more blessed we are, the more we grow in grace. All of this reaches its crescendo when we reach eternity. We will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. This exponential reality, however, applies to His woe as well as to His weal, to cursings as it does to blessings. For those yet outside of Christ one of the gravest judgments over sin is being given over to sin. Those outside the kingdom find themselves circling ever lower toward that vortex that is the Lake of Fire. Consider Pharaoh. Here is a man deeply blessed of God, not only made…

Ask RC: What is the purpose of a college education?

Ask R.C.

One of the great dangers of our industrialized view of education, wherein we view our children as raw material that are moved along a conveyor belt until they come out the other side educated widgets, is that it bifurcates our lives. We are, in this view, students for a time, until we are students no more. We think grade school is for this, junior high for that, senior high for the other, college for the next thing, and maybe some graduate school for this last thing. When we’re done, we’re done. Instead, a college education is for the same thing a kindergarten education is for, to repair the ruins. The great Puritan poet John Milton wisely said: “The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be…

Go, Stand, Speak

The Kingdom Notes

We know more than we let on. So Paul tells us in Romans 1. Still our conclusions are not the fruit of careful, dispassionate reasoning. Motives mix up our minds, and too often we end up believing not what we know but what we want to believe. Which is one reason I am so grateful for those who faithfully go, stand and speak outside the baby killing centers in our neighborhoods. The “clients” came to the Orlando Women’s Center in various groupings: boyfriends with their girlfriends; girls with their girl friends; even one grandmother with her pregnant granddaughter. They came knowing that they were not there to have cells removed. They came to murder their unborn babies. The tool they used to suppress that truth, however, was its very banality. They tell themselves that it’s no big deal, precisely because the world doesn’t make a big deal out of it….

Here I Stand

The Kingdom Notes

There was once a great man who managed to upset the religious leaders of his day. They were screaming for his blood because he had both bypassed their own power structure, and had gained a large popular following. He had taught those under his influence that the traditions they had received were wrong, distortions of the Word, and called them to something far older, something far more biblical. And the world was being turned upside down. Those in authority accused the man of heresy, demanding that he cease and desist. And then, the most amazing thing happened. The history tells us that “…while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do you hear how many things they testify against You?’ But He answered Him not a word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:12-14.) Jesus gave no dramatic…

Ask RC: How does one recognize a mature Christian?

Ask R.C.

That’s easy enough- by the size of his library. Sadly, among Reformed Christians this sometimes seems to be our standard. Were we to narrow our library down a smidge to the Word of God we would find there a far more clear answer- the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit, as a general rule, does not pop up overnight. One does not plant a seed today and come back tomorrow looking for the harvest. The fruit of the Spirit is much the same. It is not that one must wait five or ten years after ones conversion before one can manifest love, joy or peace. The point is instead that these blessings will flourish and ripen over time as they are cultivated by the Spirit. One of the challenges we face is faux fruit, wax versions created by the Great Deceiver to deceive us. Love, for instance, in our peculiar time,…

What about me and my weeds?

The Kingdom Notes

It’s a big world out there, full of all manner of sin. In these United States sodomites parade their perversion down Main Street. In Canada to denounce sodomy as perversion is to invite prosecution by the state. In parts of Europe more couples cohabit than marry. In Iraq and East Timor militant Muslims blow up churches in service to Allah. Sin abounds out there. Too often Christians, in rightly wanting to wage war with sin, aim far and miss far. One of the great evils of these great evils is that they distract us from the great evils in ourselves. Flamboyant sin delights the devil because its very brightness blinds us to our own more humdrum sins. It is a good thing to be aghast at the great sins of the world. We ought never to become jaded to any sin. We must see it for what it is, an…

Fool Me Once

The Kingdom Notes

The Bible is right. It tells us that the serpent was more crafty than any of the beasts of the field. He still is crafty, and we still just fell off the rutabaga wagon. A case could be made that what we seek to do at Highlands Ministries, in encouraging people to be more deliberate in how they live their lives, is expose the games of the devil. He sells barrenness, and we celebrate fruitfulness. He sells autonomy, and we enjoin submission. His craftiness, however, isn’t always fought best through reaction. If the devil says, somehow with a straight face, impersonal non-forces unintentionally collided and out came life, and we look to Genesis 1 and 2 simply as the antidote to this folly, we have already lost the battle. Genesis 1 and 2 is the true story of creation, because it is the story of God. If we miss God…

Ask RC: Belong, then believe or believe, then belong?

Ask R.C.

“Will going to church eventually lead to conversion, or must one be born again and then desire to belong to the Body of Christ in a church?” Believe, then belong. However, it is certainly possible that one might attend, then believe, and then belong. That is to say, church membership is for those who have a credible profession of faith (and some would add as well that the children of those who have a credible profession of faith should likewise be members of the church.) It is not a civic association, a country club, or any such thing. It is a local body of professing believers in the finished work of Christ. Attendance is another thing altogether. While we believe that corporate Lord’s Day worship is designed to be the assembling together of the saints, and not an evangelistic event per se, at the same time the gospel is made…

Two Cheers for Suburbia

The Kingdom Notes

We are what we cheer. Which is one of the many things that ought to concern us. Consider, for a moment, the literary world. Our heroes, in terms of the modern canon, are Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Hedda Gabler. The villains on the other hand are men like Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt. The former, misunderstood ladies, were heroes because they cast off conventional morality and adulterated. The latter is wicked because he lived a decent, honorable, middle class life. Babbitt worked hard, provided for his family, labored for his community, and received for it our disdain. Babbitt was on my mind this week as I took the opportunity to walk among the homes of Morton, Illinois, a rather ordinary suburb of Peoria, in a rather ordinary part of the country. What I found there were well cared for homes and lawns, white picket-fences, children’s toys in the driveways. I found beautiful…