July2012Archive for

Celebrating Alone

The Kingdom Notes

It was hot and humid that day, August 1, 1992. I stood, and waited.  Beside me stood several of my closest friends, and nearby was my father. All of us, however, had our eyes glued to the same spot, anticipating.  The music changed, heralding the arrival we were all waiting for, me most of all. The doors swung open, and there she was, on her father’s arm. Slowly, stately, they made their way up the center aisle and soon he placed her hand in mine. Jesus redeemed me. His life, death and resurrection assured me adoption by my heavenly Father. I will one day see Him as He is, and I will be like Him. Apart from this, however, despite a lifetime of showering me with blessing upon blessing, He had never blessed me as He did this day. House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent…

All Sense of Proportion

The Kingdom Notes

I have in the past noted both my irritation at and imitation of those who seem to constantly fold today’s newspaper headlines into their favorite hobby horse.  It is annoying when that guy shows up in your discussion about Chik-Fil-A and gay marriage to explain why the gluten in the breading of their chicken is toxic. Or you are discussing Ichiro’s move to the Yankees as yet another example of how free agency kills team loyalty and, because Ichiro was born in Japan but plays baseball in America the whole thing becomes a birther conversation. My post here is one step removed from this habit. The day after the tragic massacre I tweeted this- Today a man walked into Orlando office and brutally murdered 20 babies, wounding the moms. Police made sure he was not disturbed. Some didn’t get it. They thought they had somehow missed a headline, that my beef was…

The Institute for the Obvious

The Kingdom Notes

If you find yourself in a grand quandary, chances are you are missing the obvious. No, I don’t mean that all difficult questions come equipped with easy answers. The point isn’t that every complex question can only be reached through muddling up simple questions. Instead what I mean is that most of the time we spend on real brain teasers would be better spent on kid’s play. Suppose, for instance, I’m trying to figure out a healthy way for my children to spend time with other children. I’ve read all the arguments back and forth on age segregation. I’ve heard all the anecdotal evidence there is on both sides- Suzy’s son ran off and joined the army because she wouldn’t let him play with his cousin’s Gameboy- or Jim’s daughter ran off and married a roadie because Jim let her attend a slumber party at the pastor’s house when she…

Running with the Bulls

The Kingdom Notes

He was a pastor, a Baptist who believed in and preached the doctrines of grace. The church he served is not far from me, and on more than one occasion our paths have crossed. Today he sits in jail, charged with sexual assault against a minor. I don’t, of course, know if he is guilty or not. What I do know is that we will be seeing more and more of this as time goes on. The devil is more crafty than any of the beasts of the field. He is crafty enough to know that just because all Christians know something is wrong, that he can still use that something. There are not, as far as I am aware, any Christians in favor of pornography.  We all know it is a sin to consume pornography. If we succumb to that temptation, the devil is there to remind us of…

Rabbits Out of Hats

The Kingdom Notes

The heart of magic is misdirection.  Sure, there are specially made tools of the trade. There is well-trained prestidigitation. There are moments of art and flourish. The magic, however, is to get the audience to look one direction while you do something decidedly ordinary in plain sight. That’s how we start with an empty hat, and end up with a fluffy bunny. It is much the same in all manner of intellectual magic.  If we can get our intellectual opponents to overlook the fact that we are bringing something out of nothing, we can wow them all the way to the bank. Consider first naturalistic science.  Here we begin with one of two hats, both of them black. Some will say that all of reality was compressed into a point of singularity that existed from all eternity. Did you see what they did there? They explain the creation of the…

Ask RC: Does God hear the prayers of the unregenerate?

Ask R.C.

Of course. And, of course not. The difference depends on what we mean by “hear.” God hears the prayers of all people, before they even leave their lips. Here we are careful to affirm the omniscience of God, that God quite literally knows all things. Remember as well that we are promised that when we are judged we will give an account of every idle word. God’s interest in the world is not limited to the rise and fall of nations. Instead He is sovereign over, and knows all things. In fact, God ordains all things, having planned everything that would come to pass before the foundation of the world. God hears the prayers of the unregenerate, whether they believe these prayers to be addressed to the living God, or addressed to false gods the world around. On the other hand, God does not hear the prayers of the unregenerate,…

Ask RC: Should Christians refuse to pay taxes when they are used to finance abortions or other great evils?

Ask R.C.

It is one of my great passions, the desire to see me, and the evangelical church take the evil of abortion more seriously, to have our hearts more deeply broken, and our actions more faithful. We have all, I fear, come to accept the status quo. We are content to vote for Republicans hoping they will give us justices that will slow down the horror. What we are generally unwilling to do is go through any kind of hardship to stop abortion.  When I am asked about this, should we stop paying taxes, I am at least heartened to know that there are some willing to pay dearly to win this battle. Not paying taxes rarely ends up comfortably for those who won’t pay. That said I can say with confidence that Christians should in fact pay whatever taxes they owe even when that money ends up financing abortions. The…

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

The Kingdom Notes

(Written 2008) We all have our blind spots. Some of our blind spots can be found where we think we see the blind spots of others. We too often confidently declare that we have exposed an open and obvious contradiction in the other guy’s position, send out funeral announcements and declare ourselves the winner, when what we are actually doing is hanging our ignorance out in the wind. Some of the most frequent questions I receive are all about the other guys- “How do dispensationalists make sense of this text?” Or, “If you were an Arminian, how would you answer this argument?” Sometimes I’m able to give a reasonably able defense of the other guy. Other times I get to give my favorite answer, “I don’t know.” Here are two such questions that have been on my mind of late. A few Sundays ago as our van labored up the…

No Whining Zone

The Kingdom Notes

If you have a computer with an internet connection you have probably already heard the news. A pastor in Arizona will soon begin serving six months in jail, and paying his $12,000 fine. For what? Well, based on the slander many Christians are spreading, his crime is holding Bible studies. But what he is actually charged with is he violated local zoning laws. Now I would love to report that this latest outrage has caused the Christian community to rise up against the wicked Ahab-ian notion that the state has a right to tell you how you may use your property, but that just isn’t the case.  Zoning laws are wicked, intrusive, and a principial denial of property ownership. But too often Christians also find them rather convenient. Christians, because we are still sinners, are, like the world around us, rather adept at missing the hypocrisy staring at us in…

Taking Our Medicine

The Kingdom Notes

It is true enough that the church is worldly. Like the world’s younger brother we follow a few steps behind the spirit of the age, mimicking its swagger.  That truth, however, ought not cause us to miss another truth- that the world follows the church.  Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that believers are salt and light, that we act as a preservative to a world swirling in a maelstrom of moral entropy. How easy it is to diminish this truth, to reduce it down to “Be nice, so your neighbor will be nice.” The truth is, however, not only that the broader world becomes a less moral place when we behave in less moral ways, but that the connection runs deeper still. When we fail at X, odds are the world will fail at X, spectacularly. And in ways we won’t like. When the Supreme Court…