November2011Archive for

Of Coarse

The Kingdom Notes

My Delaney is 13, and all girl. She is gentle, soft-spoken, beautiful. Yesterday, as she headed off to the field to play her last soccer game of the season I told her what I tell her before every game- “That’s your ball.” I want her to play more aggressively, to not wait for the ball, but to go to it. She hustles, works hard, and is learning that it is indeed her ball. Later in the game, right in front of me, Delaney’s little girl cousins, and a set of parents, another little girl, playing aggressively for the other team, believing the ball to be hers, found herself on the ground, frustrated and without the ball. She stood, and announced, incredulous about one of Delaney’s teammates- “She f#*%@ing tripped me.” I was, of course, aghast and appalled, speechless even. The mom next to me asked the girl if she kissed…

Ask RC: Why are college and medical care so expensive?

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Every year we can count on two costs outpacing the rate of inflation- medical insurance and college education. Some might think this is because of how important these two commodities are, but the cost of food does not rise as quickly year after year, and it stands even higher in anyone’s hierarchy of needs. Some might think it’s because both are labor intensive, and the labor must be highly trained. But the cost of a cab ride in New York doesn’t rise as quickly year after year, and there is precious little more labor intensive than having one person driving another around. And if you’ve been in New York traffic, you want a well-trained driver. The real answer is much more fundamental. In both cases we are seeing government pouring more and more money into each. To understand why this drives costs up we need to first disabuse ourselves of…

Unknown Rock Stars

The Kingdom Notes

There are two things necessary to being known as a great man of God- being known, and having a reputation as being a great man of God. It is not in the least necessary that you actually be a great man of God. The same skill set by which one labors to become known works quite well in creating the illusion of godliness. This is not to suggest that all well-known men with a reputation for godliness are frauds. It is to suggest, however, that listening to a heartfelt Christian ballad, reading a winsome and insightful book, or being moved by a dramatic sermon is not sufficient evidence. In order to know if someone is a godly man you have to know the man. And in order to know the man, you have to know his family. I am privileged to know, though most not well at all, many of…

Ask RC: Do all those who die in the womb go to heaven?

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I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say. It is certainly possible that they do. It is also possible that they don’t. It is, in turn, possible that some go to heaven when they die and some do not. Christians have, over the years dealt with this heart-wrenching question a number of different ways. Some suggest that such children have no need to be saved from the wrath of God because they do not stand guilty before Him. While most of these would agree that even the youngest are tainted by sin (see Psalm 51:5), a few go so far as to suggest that the very young are without sin. Both positions suggest that the Bible leaves room for what they call the “age of accountability,” an unknown time (some suggest age 13 on the basis of the practice of bar mitzvah, when a Jewish boy becomes a man) when children…

Let My People Go

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine. There are at least three different ways to despise the state, two of which are flat wrong. The first, I would guess, represents none of you. There are, nevertheless, in this world, people who hate the government precisely because from time to time they manage to be a terror to evil. That is, sometimes the state arrests thieves and murderers, and thieves and murderers don’t take too kindly to it. Commiserating with this crowd about the evils of the state probably isn’t the wisest thing to do. The second group is by far the largest. These are the folks who hate the state because it all too often is a terror to good. Our service to others is hindered by their roadblocks, while our own comfort is hampered as well. When my move-in date to my new house is delayed because some…

Praying Like Crazy

The Kingdom Notes

A crazy person is one who has a break from reality. Those of us who have not embraced postmodernism understand that reality is something outside ourselves that exists, how it exists, quite apart from our agreement or understanding of it. If we think a tail is a leg, a dog still only has four legs. What we think has nothing to do with it. Which is why I suspect that we are all as crazy as a spectacularly crazy thing. So much of our pathos, so much of our pain, so much of what we seek to escape isn’t about what is, but what we think is. Because we don’t believe in “the” reality, “our ““reality” becomes a place of sorrow and fear. Imagine if you would, what would happen to your sorrows and fears if God Himself, the maker of heaven and earth, the Father of our Lord, the…

Tending Your Tongue

The Kingdom Notes

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine. There are probably two reasons why some warnings against some sins are given more often in Scripture than others. First, it may have something to do with the power of a particular temptation. It is certainly a sin to, for instance, put scars all over your body. But God need only say that once in Scripture and that is enough. Not difficult to understand or resist doing, at least for most of us. (Of course, once is enough for any sin.) Conversely, God tells us often to beware the temptation to covet, because it seduces so many of us so often. I’m sure I don’t need to give examples here. The second reason some sins carry more warnings in scripture may be the damage that comes from those particular sins. Adultery isn’t simply a matter of hurting the feelings of the offended…

Diagnosing Diagnostics

The Kingdom Notes

When you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. In like manner, when you have a wrench everything looks like a bolt. Any given tool empowers us and tempts us. It makes easier the task for which the tool was designed, while tempting us to think that every problem will be solved by it, every question answered by it. The computer is quite adept at, well, computing. The advent of the internet, while broadening radically how we use our computers, hasn’t changed its capacity for computing. Indeed some of the niftiest tricks our computers/web surfboards can do is compute our own surfing style, and the surfing habits of others. I suspect that blogs would never have taken off were it not for sundry attached diagnostic tools. Facebook, likewise, is powered more by the like button, and the size of our friends list than what it actually communicates….

Ask RC: What is the Regulative Principle of Worship?

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The Regulative Principle of Worship is simple enough. It affirms that Christians ought only to incorporate into their worship those things that God has expressly commanded. The locus classicus for this perspective is Leviticus 10, where Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Levi are struck dead by God for offering “strange fire” before the Lord. The principle is both historical and sound. Its application, however, has often proved to be problematic. The Bible does indeed give a detailed explanation on exactly how God demands to be worshipped. The challenge is that this explanation is given in the Old Testament, prior to the coming of Christ. The Bible tells us what sacrifices should be brought, how they should be killed, how they should be cut up, how they should be cooked, and who should eat what. In the New Testament all we have are scattered mentions of what the saints actually…