The Kingdom Notes

Our Lord is at Work Near & Far

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

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?

Blog, The Kingdom Notes

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…

The Folly of Keeping Up with the Joneses

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The Good Mr. Jones I have two sets of neighbors. On the east side is Mr. Jones. He’s a decent man, a loving husband, and an attentive father. He serves at the local soup kitchen at least once a month. He loves to talk to people about Jesus, and all that Jesus means to him. Indeed Jesus is Mr. Jones’ hero — he aspires to be just like him. Mr. Jones is at peace with his life. He’s content with where he is, and has every confidence about where he will spend eternity. The Bad Mr. Smith Mr. Smith, on the other hand, only spends time with his children every other weekend. They spend the rest of the time with their mother, his ex-wife. She divorced Smith after catching him in his affair. Mr. Smith wonders if he might soon end up visiting the local soup kitchen as well. With…

Ray Rice, Domestic Violence, and Other Monsters

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Connecting the Dots It is, I believe, a useful habit that I stumbled upon now more than 20 years ago. I have found that forcing myself to look at two issues at once often helps me see a new perspective on both issues that I otherwise would have missed. It started when I was an editor for Tabletalk magazine and I had an idea. Each issue, then and now, is sort of two magazines, a daily Bible study, as well as a thematic issue. “Why don’t we,” I asked the team, “publish a ‘bridge’ article each month? For our first weekend study why don’t we ask the author to tie together the theme of the month with whatever we are covering in the daily studies just then?” We might, in a given month, cover the 3rd century in church history, and then in the daily studies be in the middle…

A Verdict that Demands Evidence

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Lying is Bad It’s a bad thing to tell a lie. Generally speaking we oughtn’t to do it. Truth be told, however, I suspect we lie less often than one might think, and do more damage with the non-lies that we tell. For me to lie I have to do two things first — speak an untruth, and know that I am speaking an untruth. It happens. I’ve done it and will do it again for certain. The great thing about lies, however, is that they can be exposed. Which puts some restraint on us from telling them. Accusations & Jumping to Conclusions There is no such restraint when we are certain of our perspective. Often, however, our certainty outruns the facts. We accuse our brother, not because we’re lying, but because we’re jumping to conclusions. And we’re jumping to conclusions because we love nothing more than to judge our…

Called to Disciple the Nations

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Experiencing God’s Power Power, paradoxically, can sometimes be quite shy. I know great bolts of lightning and the attendant rumbling of thunder do not begin with a polite, and gentle, “Excuse me, may I cut in here?” But neither do they appear on command. While a raging storm may be indifferent to our desires, while it will not, simply because of our wishes, go away and come again some other day, other forms of power positively flee when we seek them out. I learned this first at the communion rail. The church to which I belonged when I was first married, like the church I belong to now, invites communicants to come forward to receive the Lord’s Supper, to kneel and receive the bread and the wine. There I was one Sunday, and Jesus acted in power. He, to a degree He had never done before for me, removed some…

Recognize the Blessing in the Hardship

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Learn the Meaning of Blessing Because we are by our fallen nature Pelagian we have a natural bent toward the notion of karma. Good things, we think, will happen when we do well, bad things when we do poorly. While it is certainly true that obedience brings blessing, that God’s law is the pathway to joy, and disobedience is sure to bring correction from our loving Father, we need to learn the meaning of blessing, and to distinguish between different kinds of hardships. Sin & Hardship When my wife was going through her third and final battle with cancer she asked if perhaps she were missing some grievous sin in her life, hoping that if she could find it, repent of it, then she would enjoy better health. Now there are two errors that I encouraged her to avoid. Many believers treat Adam and Eve’s sin as the equivalent of…

The Perfect Family Recipe

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Proverbs & Promises I never want to diminish another’s hardship. Indeed I can’t imagine a greater one. I know there are too many heartbroken parents out there who sought diligently to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord only to see one or more reject the faith. These hardships, however, ought not cause us to forget the blessings. The promises of God are often more proverbial than mathematical. That is they describe the way He typically works, without turning Him into some sort of blessing vending machine. We use our own proverbs in the same way. A stitch in time saves nine, we are told. Generally, yes. Sometimes, however, a stitch in time may save only five, or, conceivably could even put you further behind. The principle, however, is sound. Take your time. Do your work carefully and in the long run it will likely pay…

On Human Cruelty & Selective Application

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Cruelty in Iraq & the Middle East I have seen none of the pictures. I have no position on the accuracy of the stories. If it is true that Muslims in the middle east are beheading children it is indeed heartbreaking. What there is little doubt about, that Muslims in the middle east are beheading adults, “marrying” little children, waging a wicked war, persecuting believers, I sadly concede is real. I share with those believers who are brokenhearted the same broken heart. I write today with no interest whatever in lessening the sickening nature of what is going on over there. That said, I am less shocked and surprised than many. I’m less shocked than many because these kinds of horrors are not the behavior of sick and twisted monsters, bizarre and unusual human oddities. This is what we do, because this is what we are. This is not inhuman,…