Apr 26, 2013

Dependence and Viability

How can one determine when a life is viable? I have heard some of the arguments for abortion determine whether a baby is a baby or a fetus by whether it is viable or not. I was struck by this thought the other day while holding our 5 month old baby. He was fussing because of teething and it struck me as interesting the way the Lord designed us to be born so completely dependent on others. It is strange that human babies are so dependent on their parents care. It seems that even a 5 month old would not be viable without the help of parental care. It seems to me that viability is not a good measure for whether life is a life.

I can't help but wonder if the Lord designed us this way to shape us and prepare us to know our need for him and for it to be demonstrated every time we hold a baby in our arms. It is a great tragedy that we so often don't get it. We are so prone to blindness and self-deceit in living a life where we think we are completely independent of anyone else. I am thankful that the Lord is patient and gracious to us. As I struggle to be patient with our other children, I can't help but be reminded at what amazing patience our Lord has to not loose his temper with us in our stubborn rebellion and selfishness.

I am made even more aware of our dependence in this calling as a missionary and our dependence on the Lord's providence through supporters. I begin to wonder how viable any of us would be without the support of a loving community. I give thanks to God for creating us in such a way that we all depend on community and support for living a healthy and full life.

Apr 1, 2013

Foolish debates? gay rights, abortion, resurrection

I do find fun in April Fool's pranks but today, I have other things on my mind. Especially in light of the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus yesterday for Easter, I want to look at what that means for us. What does the fact that Jesus was resurrected have to do with us today?

The late Jim Elliot was famous for saying, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose." I have heard this was in response to Jesus' call to take up our cross and follow him. This is basically a call to surrender our own lives of idolatry of worshipping ourselves to give up worship of ourselves to follow Jesus and live a life of worshipping God and therefore receive an abundant life of joy in fulfilling our created purpose in worshipping God. The resurrection of Jesus is a promise of our own resurrection that comes through union with Him and gives us hope of victory.
     I was reading in Romans today and couldn't help but think about the political debates about gay rights and abortion.  I am sad to hear so much debate by people who have rejected God and argue nonsense out of the air. I am sure that they would say I am arguing nonsense. (The Word of God is folly to those who are perishing but to us who believe it is the Power of God. 1 Cor. 1:18) That is part of the problem. By rejecting God and claiming that there is no foundation, it is impossible for anyone to win an argument. They claim to be using reason and human logic but by basing the authority of their reason on humanity itself they are basing reason on a very unstable foundation, which is no foundation at all. When humanity tries to stand on itself and deny the existence of the very ground beneath it they create a very tricky problem. One problem is that the foundation that they claim to be absent is actually still there and they are still standing on it. God in his grace has not completely removed himself from them. Although He has promised judgment and wrath to come in the form of letting us have what we want. In a sense this is giving us over to ourselves and withdrawing from us by leaving us to indulge in the idolatry of ourselves.
     The gay rights and abortion debates are a clear example of humanity worshipping itself. This is the natural progression of living life without God. We, left to ourselves, will worship ourselves to the point of distorting the natural design and even to the point of having no regard how it affects other life. We worship ourselves and creation and reject our Creator. Any attempt to debate whether this is right or wrong goes around in circles because the one who created the natural order of right and wrong is rejected by those who want to say for themselves what is right or wrong. Again the attempt to deny the foundation is curiously confused because we are still standing on the foundation they are trying to refuse. The evidence is in the fact that there is such hot debate over these issues. If there were no God or foundation then there would be no reason to debate the issues. I don't wish to go farther into that part of the philosophical debate. Others are far more gifted than I to wrestle through that philosophy.  I would rather keep it simple and dig into what is revealed to us in Scripture. But my weakness in philosophy is not the only reason I turn to scripture. I really believe that there is more wisdom and truth in scripture than any human reasoning or philosophy can produce. But I also believe that most of these debates are just scratching the surface of what is truly at the heart of everyone pursuing these debates. I think scripture gets to the heart of the problem. I think most people are really just trying to deal with their sin and guilt by trying to deny that it is sin and guilt and trying to come up with ways to justify something that they don't want to let go of.
     Paul makes it clear in Romans 1 that all humanity has no excuse. We all know deep down that His reality is present and clearly demonstrated over the ages but we deny that reality. Before you think that I am bringing this up to simply condemn homosexuality and abortion, let me point out that this epistle goes much deeper than condemning only those sins. We are all condemned by this charge. Chapter 2 condemns the teachers of the law for breaking it themselves and then goes on to point out the sad reality that all are condemned and that there is no one righteous. Chapter 3 tells us that all have fallen short of God's standard of holiness and are condemned to death. Not only homosexual sin but adultery. Not only stealing but lying and even coveting.  Not only abortion but hate and even disobeying parents.  It isn't legitimate for a Christian who struggles with desiring his neighbors phone, computer, car, house, job, spouse or even life situation to condemn another Christian for struggling with sexual perversion. But it is completely legitimate for a Christian who struggles with any sin to judge another Christian for not struggling with sin. What I mean is, if we are a Christian and don't resist sin or we try to say that sin is not sin, then we have a problem.  It is our responsibility as fellow members of the same body of Christ to care for each other. We are not supposed to condemn each other as if we are better, God will condemn, but we are supposed to discern and call each other to repentance. It is legitimate to call each other to repentance and even to point out our sin. Not to condemn as if we are better than the other but to judge the truth and reality that we are all in need of a savior and to encourage each other to run to that savior and follow Him.
     We are all guilty but God in his infinite mercy has given us a gift of grace in granting righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. He justifies us and redeemed us through Jesus. This is a call for all people in any and every situation to be restored to their Creator. Sin has been judged and dealt with in Jesus. But those who refuse to admit sin or come to Jesus will be judged for their rebellion and sin. All of humanity has a reality to face. We were created by a just and holy being. He is loving and His love is beautifully demonstrated by redemption in Christ Jesus. The Resurrection is an amazing promise of hope and love that comes through faith in Christ Jesus. By faith in Christ Jesus we are united and joined with him in his resurrection, which gives us hope of being free from this struggle with sin. Jesus' death afforded our forgiveness and his resurrection afforded victory over sin. But those who reject Jesus still have sin that needs to be dealt with. As a Christian, I don't judge unbelievers by saying that they are not good enough and I am a better person. I judge them by saying God is holy and calls all of us to repent and turn to Him. I am no better, I am just as messed up but have found true freedom and purpose in life by being restored to our Creator. Come join us! There is nothing better than being restored to our true purpose. Stop clinging to your sin as if it gave you any satisfaction. Yes you will have to give up that idol and let go of it but giving it up will actually free you to find your true purpose and satisfaction in life. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us hope that we have been given victory through him and have been set free from the bondage of sin.
     I am certain that many of you who reject God and the Bible as foolishness are not rejecting Him because of philosophy and reason. I doubt very seriously that you reject Him because you are convinced that He isn't there. I think it is more likely that you reject Him because you find that is the easiest way to deal with your shame or weakness. You think that if you deny him, and convince yourself that there is no one to judge you then you will be free to enjoy yourself and to enjoy your own life as you want it. I think this is why you get so upset when anyone talks about judging sin. But the truth is, that you are not free. Satan is doing everything he can to convince you that rejecting God will give you freedom, but in reality he is enslaving you to a bondage that never satisfies. You are constantly disappointed and let down by your self. Please hear me on this, God is the only one who can give you true satisfaction. God really does love you. Satan is lying and you are deceiving yourself when you think that rejecting God will give you true freedom and that belief in God is restricting.  God is loving and has created all of us for a purpose. Just as a violin makes beautiful music when the violinist follows the discipline of it's design so will we make beautiful music when we follow the discipline of our design. Jesus Christ in His Resurrection has dealt with our sin and rebellion and restored us to our created design. We will only find this restoration and ultimate fulfillment through repentance and faith in Him. There is no other way to deal with our sin. No Christian is better than you in and of themselves. We have been restored and made whole again, but that was only by grace and we plead with you to come join us. No sin is too great that Jesus didn't deal with it on the cross. You will not find freedom in running anywhere else. Jesus died because He loves you. He lives because he dealt with our sin and calls us to come and follow Him.  If we try to hold on to our lives and keep something that we can never keep, we will find ourselves to be the true fool. We will all die one day and loose this life that we desperately try to keep. But if we surrender and give up what we will certainly loose, we will find that we gain a new life, a new hope and eternity that Jesus earned for us in the resurrection that we can never loose. This new life can never be lost because it was bought with the price of the blood of Jesus the only perfect human. All of us are broken and bound to death in the old life as heirs of Adam. Jesus came to offer us new life as adopted heirs of Jesus the new man. Please come to Jesus and be free of condemnation. If we finally accept that we are sinful and that there is a just God we can find redemption in Christ and find that we are no longer condemned. If we resist and deny condemnation for fear of judgment, we will only find that it was true after all and bear a load that is impossible to bear for all eternity. It is impossible to keep our lives for ourselves. It is also impossible to lose the salvation that He gives. But he leaves us to receive it by faith. Faith in Jesus is more than just believing that He exists and died and came back to life. Faith in Jesus is being joined to him in a way that marriage between a man and a woman is only a faint picture. Faith in Jesus is believing that He is God and Lord of our lives and that we are sinful and deserve judgment but also trusting that He has atoned for our sin and given us new life. Faith in Jesus is being joined with Him in receiving the Spirit in our hearts and submitting to Him as Lord. It is not submission to an oppressive regime but a loving and joyful reign.  Please come and join us in the true restoration and resurrection of new life. Jesus offers himself freely. He says come and buy without money. If you are thirsty come and drink.  His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Itineration plans for the summer of 2018

This week we are enjoying the activities of VBS both at Plains in Zachary, LA and also at South Baton Rough Pres. I had the privilege of spe...