August2011Archive for

Those Daring Young Men in Their Dirty Dungarees

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine Everyone remembers the Living Room at home, this despite many of us never getting to visit the sacred space. It was the immaculate room in your house that no one ever went in. You know, with the plastic covers on the furniture, the lampshades that still had the wrappers on them, and that carefully placed area rug, because Spot left a spot. There is a connection, a ratio between an immaculate appearance and the absence of people in the room. The Bible says one sure way to have a clean barn is to not keep an ox in it. (Of course an empty stall will not plow the back forty.) In like manner, one way to keep a clean home is to never allow anyone in it. On a smaller scale, you can keep that immaculate Living Room by denying most folks…

Ask RC: Is Faith a Work?

Ask R.C.

The Reformation was born out of the biblical conviction that a man is deemed just in the sight of God, forgiven, adopted, not on the basis of his own goodness, but on the basis of the goodness of Christ imputed to him. Not everyone, however, is blessed with this imputation, but only those who trust in that provision, and in that provision alone. The debate at that time, and to this day, has been characterized as faith versus works. Though Rome would not affirm, and indeed rightly condemns crass Pelagianism, the notion that we can earn God’s favor outside His grace, she does see a vital role for our personal righteousness, even while affirming that our righteousness is the result of grace at work in us, with which we must cooperate. In framing the debate as works versus faith, however, some miss the very nature of faith. One way to…

Well Enough to Complain

The Kingdom Notes

Desperate times call for desperate measures. When we are in fear for our lives, there is precious little we aren’t willing to go through to make it out alive. We will endure long hardship. We will put up with humiliating procedures. We will grit our teeth through pain. We will bite bullets, all hoping to get to that place where the worry will subside, and we can move forward knowing we’re going to be okay. At which point we go back to normal; we begin again to grumble against the smallest irritants, buck against the simplest requests and refuse the mildest indignities. This is precisely where my bride and I found ourselves. Literally thousands of friends and strangers have faithfully prayed for her after she was diagnosed with leukemia just six months ago. She went through two intense rounds of chemo, weeks at a time in a hospital room, sundry…

The Death of Dust

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine We never seem to believe the Word of God. We are told, “Those who hate Me love death” and we pat God on the back for the lovely metaphor. Next we conclude that those green haired kids with the needles in their faces, in the big city, they certainly hate God. And finally we nod our head that yes indeed those who hate Him will be unhappy in hell for a long time. God did indeed write poetically when He coined those words. But such doesn’t mean He didn’t mean it. Who, first, are those who hate Him? We are, by nature children of wrath. Those who hate Him are not merely the flamboyant sinners, but all those as yet untouched by His redeeming grace. All those who fit in this category not only are due death, not only face death, not…

It Was Nice While It Lasted

The Kingdom Notes

It is a sure sign that sin messes things up that we keep watching the same boxing match over and over again, between truth and unity. Both sides, of course, insist that they have a deep and abiding love for the other. They shake hands in the center of the ring, go back to their corners, wait for the bell and come out ready to destroy the one they love. In the stands we stand, screaming ourselves hoarse in defense of our favorite. Until recently unity has been on a hot streak. Charismatics, dispensationalists, YRR, and old school Reformed folk, post-mills and a-mils have managed to work together for the gospel. Blogs and conferences, magazines and books have born much fruit from cross-pollinating. We discovered that our brothers on the other side of this aisle or that do not actually have horns. We remembered that the beauty of what unites…

Ask RC What is the best way to take criticism?

Ask R.C.

I wish I could claim ignorance on the question, resulting from having never received any. Failing that, I wish I could say I have mastered how to handle it. The hard truth is that I receive plenty of criticism. Some of it I deserve. Some of it I don’t. All of it is hard to deal with. What follows then isn’t necessarily what I do, but is instead what I think we all ought to do. First, fight the temptation to assume the criticism is undeserved. If “people” are bad enough to make all manner of false accusations, and they are, and you are a “people, don’t you think “people” including you might also be bad enough to be blind to their own faults? I have faults, plenty of them. Though I may try to conceal them, I fail at that too. So it may just well may be that…

Now Play Nice

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Every Thought Captive, Vol 6, Issue 4 Now Play Nice It is bad enough that we are such suckers for the bait and switch. The devil has been playing this gag on us for millennia. We should have learned by now. When the angel comes along and says, “You know, God is love. And what He wants you to do is to love one another,” the devil doesn’t show up on the other shoulder and say, “Love, ah, that’s for fools. What you really need to do is some good hating.” He’s not that dumb. Instead he shows up on our shoulder and says, “Of course, I want nothing more than for you to love everyone. Love is my favorite thing as well. Why, just the other day I was composing a haiku about love. Let’s see here, how did that go? Love one another; If your…

Ask RC: In tough economic times, what ought Christians to do?

Ask R.C.

There is certainly a biblical injunction that we discern the times. God calls us to do this, however, not so we will know the right move to make at the right time, but so that we will remember what the right move always was. Circumstances don’t change our calling, though they can wake us up to our calling. Such is the case here. Christians should do what Christians are always called to do. First, we should be looking to our own sin. Why is that that Christians are up in arms politically during a time of shocking deficits, high unemployment and a moribund real estate market, but have been comparatively content over almost forty years of abortion on demand? What does that say about us and our priorities? The obvious answer is this- money is an idol to us. We think because money seems to be even more important to…

Encouraging One Another

The Kingdom Notes

I write, but I also read. The two actually go hand in hand. To read only is to be a wisdom vortex, to take in but never breathe out. To write only is to embrace the folly that wisdom ends with you. Without drinking deeply of the wisdom of others we will soon become clouds without rain. As a writer I am well acquainted with the temptations that come to writers. We are easily discouraged. We think we are speaking into the wind, that no one is hearing us. As a reader, however, I have the great privilege of hearing. I get to see God at work in the lives of others as they receive wisdom from the Spirit, and then pass it along to the rest of us. For what it’s worth, my internet reading tends to begin with the wisdom of David and Tim Bayly at Baylyblog. It…

Welcome To the Machine

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES, Every Thought Captive, Volume 5, Issue 1 It may be a sign that we are in a technological age that we tend to equate technology with machines, but technology is not just about machines. Technology includes in its range of meaning the entire idea of techniques. Human technology need not refer to mechanical pacemakers, but instead can refer to the systems by which we bring about changes in humans. Both a ten-ton bottle-capping machine and an insightful question are tools. One keeps a bottle of soda from spilling and going flat on the way to market; the other, one hopes, provides insights toward spiritual growth. The difficulty is when we begin to see our friends, families and our churches as an assembly line of bottles, in need of the right cap. Much of the wise criticism that has been made against the church over the last ten…