January2012Archive for

Ask RC: Does God really decide, and care who wins a football game?

Ask R.C.

I began asking this question myself long before Tim Tebow was even born. I was a little boy, deeply committed to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I remember praying that they would beat the Oakland Raiders in an upcoming playoff game. When my prayer ended fear set in- what if there were a little boy just like me, somewhere in Oakland, praying that the Raiders would beat the Steelers? My father comforted me by explaining that no real Christian would ever pray for the Raiders. The truth is God does decide, and He does care. He not only decides who will win the Super Bowl, He decides who will win the game of hearts I play with my children. He decides, or rather decided, everything. There are no places, let alone no playing fields, where God stays on the sidelines.  We need to remember that everything that happens must have a sufficient…

Ask RC: Sin in Heaven?

Ask R.C.

The Question: If “The Fall” was caused by just one sin from the very first humans and all humans since have sinned, what are our chances of remaining sinless in heaven?  I assume we would still have our gift of free will, so surely someone would sin? There is no chance whatsoever that we will, once we are in heaven, will fall again into sin, for at least two important reasons. First, God has so promised. The picture we are given of the eternal blessing we receive in Christ includes our being utterly pure, white, without spot or blemish. That we will stay in this state will at least come to pass on the basis of God’s promise. Remember when God stood with Joshua looking out at the city of Jericho and its rather substantial wall. God said, “See, I have delivered the city into your hands.” God’s Word is so…

The Kingdom Notes: Forty Days of Mourning

The Kingdom Notes

My deepest gratitude to all of you who have walked with me through my grief. Your prayers and encouragement have buoyed me up in the long and dark hours. It is possible that the below will be my last piece committed to this difficult journey.  Rest assured, however, that the deep wound will not fully heal on this side of glory, and even then my scar, like His, and yours, will beautify eternity.    Because we are modernists and Gnostics we love to pretend that symbols and rituals have no meaning, that all that matters is what is in our hearts. Because we are humans, and image bearers, we find we cannot escape symbols and rituals. When my wife and I were married almost twenty years ago there were precious few surprises.  Black tux for me, white dress for her. Traditional hymns were sung, traditional vows were taken. She processed…

Honoring the Living

The Kingdom Notes

There is, in all honesty, a constant tension when dealing with a terminal illness between giving up and facing facts. As I have noted earlier, during my beloved’s nine month battle with leukemia her most frequent question to me was “I can get better, can’t I?” Giving up hope is giving up, and neither of us wanted that. We do indeed serve a God who gave Hezekiah a new lease, who can make dry bones live and so from one perspective it isn’t over until it’s over. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t at least begin to discern what is more likely than not by reading test results. This question became frighteningly practical to the two of us a few months before Denise passed away. We had yet to embark on a clinical trial that held out some hope for us. But still two of Denise’s dearest and oldest…

Five Evangelical Myths or Half Truths

The Kingdom Notes

It can happen even in careful systematic theology. How much more so in popular parlance? We take what the Bible actually teaches, rephrase it so we can understand it, and end up believing our own phrasing, rather than the actual biblical truth.  It’s not malicious, but it is dangerous. What follows are five common thoughts, common expressions, within the evangelical church that just aren’t so. “All sins are equal in the sight of God.” Well, no. It is true enough that every sin is worthy of God’s eternal wrath. It is true enough that if we have broken part of the law we have broken the law (James actually says this.) It is true enough that unjust anger is a violation of the commandment against murder (Jesus actually says this.) None of this, however, means all sins are equal in the sight of God. To say that because all sins…

Ask RC: Do familial curses still exist?

Ask R.C.

God tells us in Exodus 20 that He will visit “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,” (verse 5).  That might settle the issue, but then God also told us this, “In those days they shall say no more: ‘ The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’” (Jeremiah 31:29).  Does this mean that there was, in the old covenant, familial curses, and that in the new they no longer exist? I think not. I would suggest instead that what was still is, and what is not, never was. God’s promise in Exodus 20 is not that He will send fresh judgment against one generation for the sins of another generation. God does not have beside His throne a box full of thunderbolts that He hurls down on sinners. Much less does…

We Have Met the Enemy

The Kingdom Notes

Though I am optimistic about the long-term future, believing that the nations will in fact be discipled, and the kingdom will cover the earth the way the water covers the seas, it’s an ugly world out there. Every cultural indicator is alarming- more divorce, more illegitimacy, more crime, more drugs. Our entertainment is increasingly morbid and putrid.  Perverts have become a protected class. Business, families and governments sink deeper and deeper into debt.  The church has not just grown increasingly worldly, but now celebrates its worldliness, calling it outreach. And we still haven’t even touched on the one evil that dwarfs them all, the 3,500 moms who each day murder their own babies, while the rest of us watch. And so we wring our hands about what they are doing. We write our blog pieces about our strategies to change them. We bewail their folly. We hold our prayer vigils,…

My Better Half

The Kingdom Notes

Children, and their parents, crave stability. When their world is rocked by change, they are comforted by that which remains the same. I have been reminding my children of late that the loss of their mother, for all the pain, doesn’t mean that everything has changed. Indeed when I put my littles to bed each night I, as I have always done, remind them of these bedrock truths, “Daddy loves you. Mommy loves you. Daddy and Mommy love each other. And Jesus loves you.” These are the unchanging truths they can always count on, the solid ground on which they walk. We that are left behind are still together. And I am still me. I am afraid, however, that I am not still me. This melancholy that follows me about like a cloud hovering over Charlie Brown, that’s not me. Waking up with less energy than when I went to…