While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing. Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life. All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the…
Moments ago I finished a refreshing encouraging conversation, recorded for a future podcast, with my friend Tim Challies on the subject of writing. One of the things covered in that conversation was dealing with criticism. The irony is that each of us has at one time or another criticized, or at least critiqued the other. Tim is quite clear on his conviction that public schools are a viable option for Christian parents. I’ve been quite clear over the years that I think not. Our pens, mightier than swords, have crossed. That, however, has not kept me from being blessed by, served by, taught by Tim.
The contrast didn’t hit me like it should have. I was outside Orlando Women’s Center, praying for my friend John Barros as he preached the Word to people intent on killing their babies. I asked God to move with power to rescue those precious babies. I asked Him to open the eyes of the moms, the boyfriends, the fathers, the grandmothers. How, I couldn’t help but wonder, do they think any of their relationships will survive this? Abortion is an act that says to everyone in the know, “No matter how close you think we may be, you should know that if you ever get in my way, no matter how helpless and needy you may be, if I can get away with it I will kill you.”
The devil is resourceful and hard working. There is no temptation he will not use, no stratagem too tiny to try us with. He does, however, have a few areas he specializes in. He is called Satan because he is an expert at making accusations. He delights to accuse us when we are innocent, and when we are guilty. He is also a murderer and has been from the beginning. Those who hate Him, we are told, love death (Proverbs 8:36). He is also not just a liar, but the father of lies (John 8:44). When we hear a lie we ought to smell sulfur. Every lie has his hoof prints on it. Of late the broader culture has been rather frantic in telling and believing lies with respect to Bruce Jenner, and we Christians too often face the temptation to believe them. Here are ten we must never give…
It is because we are saved by grace that we sinners are able to confess publicly that we are sinners. It is because we are sinners, however, that we are so quick to get defensive anytime someone accuses us of a specific sin. Why the disconnect? Because being a sinner is a condition, a universal condition, an oddly antiseptic descriptor of humanity. Sinning, however, that requires acknowledging that we have done wrong. And we can’t have that.
It’s been a good day so far. I witnessed a tear-stained repentance, and had the opportunity to remind the sweet saint of the promises of God. My own tears were mingled in as well. Minutes later I received word that a dearly loved daughter in the faith, having been excommunicated for unrepentant gross and heinous sin, was, after her recent repentance, being welcomed back to the Lord’s Table. Such occasions call us less to dwell on the depth of the presenting sin and more to rejoice over the covering grace. They are occasions for giving thanks, and feasting on the fatted calf.
A little knowledge may be dangerous, but not nearly so dangerous as a great deal of ignorance. Too often, when it comes to economics, we carry around just enough foolishness to make ourselves dangerous, believing “truths” that have no truth to them. Here are just a few:
It is graduation season. Academic regalia is being donned, parties are being planned, and boasting has begun. It’s the last that concerns me. No one, of course, ought to oppose learning, and learning well. God, after all, calls us to love Him with our whole minds. Studying well is one way to better fulfill that command. My concern, however, is that sadly we tend to value those virtues that are more easily measured more than those that matter most. Grade point averages are fine enough things if they stay in their place. Trouble is they rarely stay in their place.
He’s doing well. My father that is. Ligonier Ministries has done an outstanding job of keeping people up to speed on my father’s health since his recent stroke. We are being, as I would expect, open and honest in our updates, which means coming to me for the “real story” is an exercise in futility. The “real story” is the story Ligonier has been honestly publishing. That’s the kind of integrity my father has not only practiced, but has taught, including to the staff at Ligonier, and to my sister and me.
This article was adapted into podcast form, which can be listened to here. Imagine, if you would, there was a small group of men caught up in a bizarre and hungry ideology. Imagine they were committed to doing whatever it takes to enjoy the blessings of power and influence. Their stratagems ranged from sophisticated propaganda to political machinations to raw violence to quell those who stood in their way. Imagine that they had infiltrated the schools of the nation, and were about the business of indoctrinating the children in their ideology. Finally, imagine that this fringe group was so consumed with hatred toward the religious people of their land who once had wielded influence that they wanted them silenced or destroyed. What should, in this context the church do?