The Kingdom Notes

Still Learning, On the 3rd Anniversary of My Beloved’s Passing

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Learning Patience in Grief I suspect there was a time in my life when I was more impatient. If I had known a friend who had lost a spouse my sympathy would have been deep, but the opposite shore not so far distant. That is, I would feel deeply, but briefly. I would want my friend to pick up the pieces and move on, to look more forward than backward. That, however, exposes the relative weakness of sympathy, in contrast to its stronger, more robust cousin, empathy. Now such a loss isn’t abstract for me, but is my own experience. Now I understand that you can’t simply move on. Moving On? We tend, I think, to be binary on loss, as if it has an off/on switch. In the initial stages of mourning we understand the utter exhaustion of sorrow, the bare and grim determination to do the next thing,…

The End of the World As We Know It

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.— Yeats Living in the Context of Battle I have long argued that Genesis 3 sets the stage for our lives, the Bible and all of history. We live in a context of battle, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. I have argued in turn that that over-arching battle will be determined based on two other battles. First there is the battle inside the seed of the woman, between our new man and our old man. The more sanctified we become, the better things will go in the great battle. The other…

Taking on Ferguson

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Listen to the JCE episode on this topic: Internet Arguments Over Ferguson There is, on the internet, a pale and lifeless shadow of circumstances in Ferguson. In the troubled suburb of Saint Louis there is marching on the street, looting on the street, and if either side is correct, corruption on the street. The internet is a more peaceful place, barely. With the release of the decision of the Grand Jury to not prosecute Officer Darrin Wilson for the shooting and death of Michael Brown we have seen everyone and their brother taking a side, making an argument, and more often than not, treating those who disagree as benighted fools and black hearted scoundrels. What Happened in Ferguson? I confess that I don’t know what happened on that August afternoon. I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen film. Nor have I read any reports from forensic pathologists. All I know about…

I Mourned My Lack of Shoes Until…

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Nearness of Suffering It is a dangerous folly to compare, much less compete in hardship. Each of us has our own, and the closeness of our suffering is a deeper barometer of the challenge than the hardness of it. I learned this the first time I ventured out to the movies without my wife. That was what we did on date night, as vanilla as it might seem — dinner and a movie. We both loved the movies, she more than me. Whatever our choices I always let Denise choose. If Attack of the Killer Killing Things was released the same week as Rose Petals on Lavender Beaches we went to the latter. My reasoning was simple — I usually fall asleep at the movies, and might as well nap at a movie she loved as one I would enjoy, if I were awake. Surprised by Suffering Imagine my surprise…

Sing for Jesus Sister

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Blessings & Hardships of Dying There are, as I have long argued, blessings and hardships that come with every form of home-going. The surprise jolts us, but we remember that the deceased didn’t suffer. The long expected allows for fitting goodbyes, and getting our affairs in order. In between you usually get a bit of the blessings of both. There is, for those left behind, a peculiar hardship that comes with an expected death. For me, the pain of the last few months of my wife’s life comes back to haunt me this time of year. It was during the fall of 2011 that Denise was going through a clinical trial, a last gasp hail Mary effort to stop the destruction that was assaulting her. The trial rocked her body and depleted her strength. A chill in the air now puts a chill in my soul. A Glimpse of Eternity…

What Realities May Come

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Dreaming of Heaven I suspect, if we had eyes to see, that we would know the Bible tells us more about heaven than we think. I suspect, however, given heaven’s glory and beauty, that the Bible’s descriptions would never satisfy us. I know that I don’t know exactly what happens, and so when I wonder about it, I try to do so cautiously, non-dogmatically. But what I usually end up doing is daydreaming. A Boy’s Heaven When I was a boy I had a pretty good vision of what awaited me. My parents determined that I should not have what I wanted most, a dirt bike. So in heaven I assumed I would have one. Not only that, but I would have the perfect place to ride it. Every thorn or thistle I knew would be banished, so I would never run out of gas, the bike would never break…

Scary Witches

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The Evil of Witchcraft Witches are real, and witches are evil. To be sure, while warts, brooms and cauldrons are also real the caricature that brings them all together is rather far from the truth. God, in His infinite wisdom, told His people Israel not to suffer a witch to live (Exodus 22:18). Our fathers the Puritans followed the same perspective. They rightly saw witchcraft as a great evil. They, in accordance with their times, saw it also as a capital offense. Neither of these, however, is the source of the great horror of the Salem Witch Trials. The Folly of the Salem Witch Trials We are all so comfortable scolding our fathers for their folly before us. Of course they are guilty of folly, not because they came before us, but because they are our fathers. They act foolishly because they are what we are, fools. We are, if…

Our Lord is at Work Near & Far

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Trip to Brazil It is a dangerous habit, but a habit nonetheless. When I find myself on my way home from a trip overseas, I take fingers to keyboard and write a piece. I am tired. I miss my family, and I am emotional. I do it, even though it’s scary, because it makes sense. When I see the hand of God at work, I want to write about it. Tonight I write from Sao Paulo, Brazil. A little less than a week ago I landed here eager and ready to preach the Word. I had hopes in me that I might be able to serve the saints here. But, given that this is not my first rodeo, I likewise had this expectation, that the saints here would serve me. Meeting the Saints And I was not disappointed. I met men and women of God, those whose lives have been…

Are We Getting Better All the Time?

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Horrors in History History is littered with the inhuman. That is, when we seek to take an honest look at those who have gone before us, we find what we manage to think is something different to us. We look at Nazi Germany as if it were some bizarre aberration, the cultural equivalent of a snowstorm in August. Even cultures we might otherwise admire have warts we think we’ve grown beyond. Whether it was the open sexual perversion and abuse of boys that marked the ancient Greeks, or witch hunts of our Puritan forebearers, the skeletons do not hide in the closet but dance across the stage. Trouble is, we miss the family resemblance. Worse Than the Nazis? I have argued before that to compare the German holocaust with the abortion holocaust is unfair — unfair to the Nazis. The German people had some measure of plausible deniability — you…

Lovers (of the World) Gonna Hate

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Human Trafficking & Abortion Next month I will be participating on a Christian college campus in an intriguing discussion. I have been invited, due to my public labors on behalf of the unborn, to join a panel asking something along these lines, “Why is the slaughter of the unborn so low on the radar of so many evangelicals? Why do we get our dander up over Kony or human trafficking, but not so much over abortion?” Before I get to the remarks I am apt to share, let’s make one obvious thing perfectly clear. Human trafficking is wicked, vile, nauseating evil. So is conscripting adolescent boys to fight in your war. It is not my intention to weigh the relative demerits of these wrongs, but rather to explore the disparity in our outrage and involvement. Evil Near & Evil Far I suggest two reasons. First, abortion is near, Kony and…