December2012Archive for

Turning It Up to 11, or Why The Means of Grace Rock the House

The Kingdom Notes

The only thing worse than falling into a spiritual valley is the conviction that one must always be on a spiritual mountaintop. Though the Bible is the very history of the ups and downs of God’s people, God’s people go on thinking themselves immune, and that something is terribly wrong if their passion and joy today is not at the same fever pitch it was on the day they came to faith. There is, of course, a ditch on the other side of the road. We can grow complacent, our ardor having all the vitality of lukewarm water. But cooler than it once was can be a long way from lukewarm. We ought to be taking our spiritual temperature. We ought to pray for passion, joy and gratitude. What we have to watch out for is when the devil comes calling like some diabolical pusher offering us his spiritual uppers….

In Adam All Sinned

The Kingdom Notes

Once again the American people, Christian and non-Christian alike find themselves rightly mourning a terrible tragedy while asking “How could this happen?” The left is at best hinting and at worst demanding further or complete gun control. The right is at best arguing to arm teachers and at worst insisting on better government tracking of the mentally ill. Everyone is looking for systemic sources and institutional solutions, because we don’t know who we are. We want to blame guns, drugs, video games, anything but the real cause- our darkened and evil hearts. The gospel truth is that changing policies won’t change anything. We can’t educate, legislate, pontificate, murder away, because when the lectures, the laws, the sermons end, there we are. We cannot wash it away, because under all the filth and grime is just us, filth and grime. Adam Lanza gunned down the principal, his mother, the little children,…

Ask RC: One year later after the passing of your wife, what have you learned?

Ask R.C.

That time heals some wounds. It is natural as we enter into that season of the year, and now the very anniversary of her passing, that the pain would grow more acute, more insistent. And it is certainly possible that my expectations were terribly naïve. But the truth is not that I thought I would be done by now, but that I thought I would be feeling better, that there would be by one year some kind of improvement. And it just isn’t so. It hurts, and I am sad. I am sad, if this makes any sense, not because my wife passed away, but because I miss her. I miss being with her. I miss her as the very framework of my life. Though I am a rather minnow sized fish in something more like a large puddle than even a small pond, most of the world that knows…

Ask RC: Is it a sin to celebrate Christmas?

Ask R.C.

You have heard it said, and rightly so, that it’s rather important to define our terms. Here is a case in point. There are at least three ways we use the phrase “celebrate Christmas.” The first is as the celebration Mass of the birth of Christ, that is, as Rome has celebrated it for centuries. Our fathers objected to this, and rightly so. If by celebrating Christmas we mean attending Roman Catholic mass, most assuredly we should not. When I was a college student one Sunday I went with some friends to Mass. I knew enough to know that I should not participate, and so went as a student, studying the mass. My sister was concerned (okay, more likely delighted) that my dad would be angry with me. I thought she didn’t quite grasp what a careful scholar I already was. So I told him what I had done, laughing…

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

The Kingdom Notes

Some suggest that the engine for the too frequent train wrecks in the lives of pastors’ kids is the fishbowl they must live in. In their local churches they, more than their peers, are watched, judged, measured. It is an unwelcome, indeed unwholesome attention. When your father is a widely known and deeply respected theologian you carry some of those same challenges. The Lord offers then a number of different options. One can rebel in protest to the inequity of the attention. One can become adept at disguising ones sins and maintain the appearance of godliness. One can labor to meet the expectations of others. Or, one can rest in the finished work of Christ alone, confident of the unchanging love of one’s heavenly Father. For more than a year now I have found myself living in an increasingly glaring spotlight not just because of whom my father is (he…

Shortcutting in the Cul-de-sac

The Kingdom Notes

The interwebs has democratized our discourse. Time was when to reach an audience one had to go through a series of gatekeepers. You had to have a publisher of your books. You had to have an editor who would publish your article. You had to raise mountains of money from others in order to buy airtime. Now any one person has the ability to reach billions virtually for free. The interwebs has in turn put the feedback cycle into hyper drive. When I finish writing a book it will likely be at least a year before anyone responds privately or in print with a review. I write a magazine article and it is months typically before it arrives in a mailbox, and weeks later before I might receive a written response. Now, I write an article this morning, post it this afternoon, and am up late moderating comments. The shortened…

Ask RC: Where did it all go so wrong?

Ask R.C.

These are dark days for the church in the west. While we can, indeed must rejoice over the spread of the gospel in China, and in the southern hemisphere, here the church is losing its savor, and the putrid smell of death is all around us. Perverts are parading in the streets. Mommies are murdering their babies 3500 times a day.  Eighty percent of evangelical kids reject the faith by the time they reach their 20’s, and those that stay (or come back) usually opt for church-lite. And our nation has just elected the most socialistic, leftist man in our history. Everyone has their favorite spot, a particular battle we either lost or retreated from on which to place the blame. Was it 1963, when we let them take prayer out of “our” schools? Was it 1973, when the Supreme Court declared war on the unborn? Was it 1983, when…