Saturday, December 28, 2013
Please pray for our friends the DeMars! Here's the latest update from them...
Hey everyone, we hope all of you had a great Christmas and that you have a really awesome new years too.
If you've checked your email in the last two weeks I'm sure you've gotten 1-1,000,000 emails from various ministries and organizations asking you for that end of the year, tax-deductible money. Many of these groups are really awesome and more than deserving of a few green pieces of paper to help them reach their financial goals before the year closes out.
Well, this isn't one of those emails. This is an email to ask you for something more precious: your prayers. We are at the end of a tough year, and we are at the end of a long 9 months of baby waitin', and once this little girl gets here things are only going to ramp up some more. So, with that in mind, here's a list of things that you could be praying for, if or when you can remember:
1. That God would equip us to be good parents.
2. Further clarification and guidance about ministry stuff.
3. Gospel growth in Peru.
4. New relationships with the locals.
5. Continued progress with language learning.
That's it guys. Short and to the point. Have a great 2014. Remember, all things to the glory of HIS name.
p.s. Our teammates had their new baby, Joanna, and she's awesome!
Friday, December 20, 2013
At DPC we teach our children and youth the Westminster Catechism on Wednesday nights. Often people coming from different traditions look at this suspiciously at first, but usually they come around to seeing it as a wonderful discipleship tool for learning and teaching the Christian faith and life.
Phil Robertson (whom I regard as a brother in Christ, from the little bit that I know about him) has just made the case for catechism so much easier.
You're probably aware of the recent events flowing out of Mr. Roberton's interview with GQ magazine. I won't rehearse the whole story here.
But this quote from The Decatur Daily this morning represents the point, as I understand it, where things began to get interesting:
Asked his definition of sinful behavior by GQ, Robertson replied, "Start with homosexual behavior and just go from there."No quarrel with the point that homosexual behavior is a violation of God's law. That's plainly the teaching of Scripture, and if you waffle on that point, you're enslaving yourself to the fear of man or the bondage of self, rather than enjoying the freedom and liberty of the fear of God.
However, was that really the best way for a Christian to define sinful behavior?
That definition puts sinful behavior "out there." Them. Over there. Those people. Not me.
What if Mr. Robertson had been catechized as a child? What if he were able to paraphrase (using his own words!) the classic Christian definitions of sin that have served God's people well for centuries?
Westminster Shorter Catechism: "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." -- meaning that anytime we turn away from God by failing to keep his "thou shalt" commands or by breaking his "thou shalt not" commands, we are in sin. Sinful behavior is basically anytime we say "not your way God, but my way." Which we all do: Me. Mr. Robertson. You.
Heidelberg Catechism: "What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are.... How do you come to know your misery? The law of God tells me.... Can you live up to all this perfectly? No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.... Where does this corrupt human nature come from? From the fall and disobedience of our fist parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners -- corrupt from conception on.... But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil? Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God."
Or there's the Lutheran tradition of defining sin as a self-centered failure to trust God.
There's also the riches of the Second Helvetic Confession, the Canons of Dort, etc.
And, of course, there's the beautiful simplicity of the Apostle John's definition of sin from 1 John 3.4: "Sin is lawlessness."
Any of that would have been worlds and worlds better than "Start with homosexual behavior and just go from there."
Remember Paul's instruction to us when discussing God's truth with those outside of Christ: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Colossians 4.6)
If you'd like to read a good, short book on the value of catechism, you can get some good things out of Donald Van Dyken's Rediscovering Catechism: The Art of Equipping Covenant Children.
If only... if only...
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A Fairytale Come True
by John Stonestreet
An unborn girl escapes abortion, is adopted, and becomes a homecoming queen? This is not a fairytale.
True stories are always full of both ugliness and beauty, and this one is no different. A married woman is sexually assaulted in California and becomes pregnant. Compounding her pain, her husband gives her an ultimatum: Abort this baby, or I’ll divorce you. That’s the ugly part. The woman, however, courageously decides that the child growing inside her is not the ugly part of her story, and gives birth. That and what follows is beautiful!
She moves to Alabama, is put in touch with a Christian adoption agency called Lifeline Children’s Services. Peggy Dutton and her husband are on the board of Lifeline. They get to know this courageous woman and agree to give her child a loving home. Two days after Molly’s birth, they adopt her.
Molly grows up and lives a gloriously average suburban life and now attends Auburn University as a horticulture student.
Almost no one there knew her story—until friends urged her to run for homecoming queen. For her platform issue, Molly chose alternatives for women facing crisis pregnancies. She told her story which spread like wildfire. Soon, Molly was all over TV and the Web winsomely sharing her positive message about life.
“It’s already been a huge response,” she said. “It shows how much the public wants to receive life. It has been viral.” And not only that—Molly Anne Dutton was named Auburn’s homecoming queen!
Amazing—from what some people would call a disposable “blob of tissue” to homecoming queen. All because of the selflessness of a mother.
And you thought fairytales at Auburn only came true on the football field!
Folks, Molly Anne Dutton’s story reminds us that we don’t have to choose between biblical truth and compelling stories. It’s not all about facts and figures. We must touch people’s hearts as well as their heads. And true truth always does that, because the ultimate Truth of the world was embodied personally in Jesus Christ.
Here’s another true fairytale, told by Jerry Root and our own Stan Guthrie in their outstanding book, “The Sacrament of Evangelism”:
“A woman named Virginia and her husband,” they write, “were expecting their first child. Doctors, however, said the kidneys of the unborn baby were pocked with cysts. They said the child could not possibly live more than a few hours and advised them to abort.”
Virginia was heartbroken, but she had no intention of ending the baby’s life. She told the doctor, “I do not know why God chose me to be the mother of this child, but since He did I will give birth to this child and I will love it with mother-love the best I can for as long as it lives.”
When the baby was born, Virginia rocked, nursed, and sang to her baby until the child died. Jerry and Stan note, “There are no scales to measure such love and courage.”
Years later, another woman told Jerry about her pregnant daughter: Doctors told her that the baby inside her would also die within hours after birth and advised an abortion.
So Jerry put her in touch with Virginia, who spoke with the daughter by phone every week. “Taking courage from Virginia’s example,” Jerry and Stan write, “the daughter chose to give mother-love to her child for as long as that child should live.” Beautiful, right? But here’s the kicker: “After the baby was born, the doctors discovered that they had made a misdiagnosis. The baby was fine.”
It’s in these stories of people like Molly and Virginia, and the gracious God they serve, that our neighbors will not only learn about the goodness of God; they’ll be able to see it.
And please, if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, share this broadcast with your friends. You’ll find a transcript and the audio at BreakPoint.org. What better time to share these kinds of stories than at Christmas, when the Truth became flesh and dwelt in our midst.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
I won't take the time to elaborate on this thought on Sunday when we study the role of prayer in Colossians 4, but let this thought from C.S. Lewis begin to challenge your understanding or prayer:
When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided—in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds’. But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering. Thus, shocking as it may sound, I conclude that we can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. (Some scientists would find this easier than popular thought does.) The imagination will, no doubt, try to play all sorts of tricks on us at this point. It will ask, ‘Then if I stop praying can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes has been the fact that you are asking such questions instead of praying. It will ask, ‘Then if I begin to pray can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes is your present prayer. Thus something does really depend on my choice. My free act contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all worlds’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.
~ C.S. Lewis