February2012Archive for

I Have Friends

The Kingdom Notes

It was, I suspect, somewhat early on in the growth of the “accountability” movement. I had heard the concept but had not given it much study. The deacon at the church I attended as a young married man apparently had studied it. And so, seemingly with the approval of the session, he sat perched by the entrance of the sanctuary.  He asked me, as he asked everyone passing by, with all the tact and enthusiasm of a carnival barker, if I had an accountability group. Being young and naïve I stopped and asked, “What’s that?” “Well,” he explained, “it’s a group of men who are active in your life, that care for you enough to challenge you when you fall into sin. They watch out for you, support you, and encourage you to grow in grace and wisdom.” “In that case,” I retorted, “I do have an accountability group. It’s…

Ten Suggestions For My Unbelieving Friends

The Kingdom Notes

My life, I am persuaded, would fall apart in a heap in a moment were I not a servant of the Lord. Though it is true that Jesus is the very font of my happiness, that is not why I follow Him, nor how I would encourage you to follow Him. Rather I trust in His finished work, and embrace His Lordship because I believe His Word to be true. I pray the same might soon be said of you. That said, though I fear if you do not repent and believe on His name that your after-life will be too horrible to contemplate, because you are my friend I hope for you the best possible life on this side of the veil. What follows are things you can do, or at least try to do, without embracing Jesus. To the extent that you succeed, your life will be better….

Ask RC: Is Social Security an old age insurance program?

Ask R.C.

No. While we are often encouraged to see it this way, the truth is that Social Security is a wealth transfer program, an entitlement program.  Money is taken from one person, and then given to another. To help us understand this it might be wise to go back to the beginning. Social Security was a creation of FDR’s New Deal. On the income side it began with a payroll tax on employers, which was in turn matched by employees.  This money, however, was not set aside, invested, hidden under a mattress. No, it went right into the out-go side. A farmer can’t harvest his crop until after he grows it. With Social Security the aged harvested what they did not plant. My grandparent’s taxes, went, after Washington’s administrative cut, to checks written for their ancestors. The promise to them wasn’t that they would receive their savings back when they reached…

Why can’t we all just get along?

The Kingdom Notes

The story is told of the man who was rescued from a desert island twenty years after being shipwrecked. As he proudly showed his rescuers around the island they came to three grass huts. Our Robinson Crusoe pointed out that one of the huts was his home, and the other his church. When asked what the third hut was he replied, with a note of disdain, “That’s where I used to go to church.” We can’t get along, and the reason is simple enough- we are sinners.  Now let’s break that simple answer down a bit, working back to front. What do we mean by sinners? I don’t, of course, mean unsaved. Of course believers, in the eyes of God, are just. That’s what we mean by “justified,” to be declared just. But Luther himself affirmed that Christians are simul justis et peccator, at the same time just and sinner….

Valentine the Brave

The Kingdom Notes

As a rule, men are relational dolts. From an early age girls develop sophisticated communications arrays, whereby they are able to simultaneously translate what anyone says, whether with words, expression or body language, into what they actually mean. They know from birth that when a genteel southern woman tells them, “Well bless your heart” that war has been declared. Men, on the other hand, are tone deaf and body language blind. Women in turn understand the intricacies of social interaction. They don’t have to be told to write thank you notes; they compose them on the way home from a dinner with friends. They don’t have to be told to send out birth announcements- they start filling them out while in labor. Men, on the other hand, bring their favorite beer to a buddy’s barbecue not as a “host gift” but to make sure there is enough. We watch SportsCenter…

Little Deaths and Big Deaths

The Kingdom Notes

Whether its source is old-fashioned American individualism, new-fangled notions of libertarian social theory, or the pietistic error of sealing the gospel off from positive social change and sealing our sins off from negative social change, we have, as a culture and a church come to the dubious conclusion that what goes on behind closed doors is nobody’s business, and affects only those behind the doors.  We, as a culture and a church think when we take our pants off with someone not our spouse, as long as everyone is there voluntarily, the worst thing that can happen is that God might get miffed at us. And He, of course, is rather famous for having a rather forgiving nature. Six innocent men went to their death at Ai because a different man, Achan, took for himself booty from Jericho. Who would know, I suspect, Achan wondered. Why would we think sexual…

Ask RC: Should a Christian become good friends with pagans?

Ask R.C.

The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). The text at least ought to raise the question in our minds. Would Paul’s admonition here preclude close, personal friendships with those outside the kingdom? To answer properly we need only to answer this question- is such a friendship being bound together? Is it a partnership? Is it fellowship? This text, for instance, clearly forbids believers from marrying outside the faith. There is no human relationship more tightly bound than husband and wife. I would suggest in turn that this text does not preclude us from doing ordinary business with unbelievers. I am not bound together with my internet service provider. I am not in partnership with the local newspaper. I am not in fellowship with the…

The Kingdom Notes: Treasure In, Treasure Out

The Kingdom Notes

My beautiful wife loved nothing more than to beautify.  She devoted herself to creating a beautiful home. She planted flowers, bushes and trees outside. Inside she hung, placed, painted and etched.  Even when she was not well, this was where her heart was. Over the course of the last nine months of her life, most of it spent in sundry hospitals, she watched, I suspect, more Home and Garden Television than all of HGTV’s executives combined. Her pursuit of beauty, however, did not have its end in a pretty house, but in a godly home.  She worked to beautify me, and our children.  This morning while I shaved I looked to the shelf she placed between our sinks. There she had placed two small plaques. One reads- “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). The other reads, “The Lord is good to those…

The Kingdom Notes: Be Reasonable

The Kingdom Notes

In the great war launched in Genesis 3 between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent there are two other great battles. On one side of the battlefield stands the enemy. The seed of the serpent hate God, would kill Him if they could. They hate His people, and all that they stand for. But they have a battle waging inside themselves because, for all their sin, all their fallenness and depravity they still bear the remains of the image of God. Their great dilemma is that because they are made in God’s image they want to live in a world that makes sense, that is understandable, and coherent. Because, however, the objective reality is that they are under God’s wrath, they must construct a world with no God, or at least, no judgment.  It is impossible, irrational. The other great battle is the mirror of…