Tuesday, April 30, 2013

what is freedom

I'm not sure I can repost about freedom too much. Here is my last post. The below is by Chris Brauns. Similar and worth repeating ...

Why not just leave the dolphins on the beach? Has anyone asked that question? Isn’t it awfully presumptuous for human beings to forcibly throw dolphins into the water?

You may recall that last year hundreds of dolphins were stranded on the beaches of Cape Code. The International Fund for Animal Welfare worked tirelessly to return the dolphins to the ocean. Rescue workers were especially excited to learn that they had rescued one dolphin in her third trimester of pregnancy.

But I wonder if there wasn’t a question which could have saved people a lot of effort. “Isn’t it confining to dolphins to throw them back in the ocean?”

Think of all the things a dolphin cannot enjoy once it is in the ocean. A dolphin in the ocean cannot skateboard. It cannot join a marching band or play golf. It can never climb a mountain. A dolphin in the ocean cannot even go to church! Given all these restrictions, and many more, what right do people have to presume that dolphins should be confined to the ocean?

No one raised the question of whether or not it is right to confine a dolphin to the ocean because it is a ridiculous one. Even a four year old who sees a dolphin gasping for air on the beach knows that it needs to be back in the water. Dolphins were made for the ocean.

But if no one asks why it is not wrong to confine dolphins to water, there are many who do complain that Christianity is confining. Our culture objects, “To call people to follow Christ is like asking them to enter prison? Think of all the things which we would no longer be free to do if we gave our lives to Christ.”

The objection that Christ is too restrictive is raised, yet all the while, people lay gasping on the beaches of life: angry, broken, addicted, grieving, quickly running out of time. As much as dolphins are made for the ocean, we are made for Christ. In Him, we have the eternal ocean of joy and adventure before us. It makes no sense to suffocate on the beach.

Tim Keller explains that disciplines and constraints liberate us when they fit with the reality of our nature and capacities:

A fish, because it absorbs oxygen from water rather than air, is only free if it is restricted and limited to water. If we put it out on grass, its freedom to move and even live is not enhance, but destroyed. The fish dies if we do not honor the reality of its nature. Tim Keller, The Reason for God, page 46.

The reality of our nature is that we need Christ. So Jesus said:

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 ESV)

Accept Christ’s invitation to enter into the vast ocean of rest in Him. Let’s immerse ourselves in his greatness for all of eternity.

It beats gasping for air on the beach.

And, yes, I know, dolphins are mammals.
You can watch the trailer for, The Reason for God, below.

Introduction to The Reason for God from Redeemer City to City on Vimeo.


John Stott in The Cross of Christ:

The concept of substitution may be said to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.

Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accept penalties which belong to man alone.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Today's big word Molinism explained and unpacked by Paul Helm ...

In recent months and years, an old controversy about the nature of God’s knowledge has been re-ignited in certain Christian circles. The doctrine at the center of this controversy is called “middle knowledge” (also known as Molinism). In an effort to help our readers better understand the issues at stake, we have invited Dr. Paul Helm to write an introduction to this important subject.

God’s Knowledge

In thinking about God’s knowledge theologically it was customary for many years, until and including the Reformation, to distinguish between God’s necessaryknowledge and His free knowledge. The distinction is obvious and natural. God’s necessary knowledge includes several kinds of truths. It is the knowledge of matters such as the truths of mathematics (for example, 2+2=4). It is also the knowledge of truths such as the whole is greater than the part and no circle can be a square. God’s necessary knowledge also includes His knowledge of all possibilities, such as possible people, the possible lives they could lead, and the whole range of possible worlds. These are known to God immediately and intuitively.

God’s free knowledge, on the other hand, is His knowledge of His decree (of that which, in His wisdom, God freely and unchangeably ordained to come to pass). That which God decrees is obviously a subset of all the possibilities that are known to Him. His decree also has its source solely in His mind and will.

Middle Knowledge

In the late 1500’s a new kind of knowledge was proposed by two Iberian Jesuit thinkers, Luis de Molina (1535-1600) and Pedro da Fonseca (1528-1599). Middle knowledge (or ‘Molinism’ as it came to be called), was their contribution to a controversy within the Roman Catholic church over grace, free will and predestination. In our own time Molinism has been proposed by Alvin Plantinga and others in connection with God’s relation to evil. I think it is fair to say that while Roman Catholic theologians have long discussed middle knowledge in their textbooks, recent interest in it has been due to Plantinga and his discussion of the topic in his book God, Freedom and Evil.

What is middle knowledge? At the center of this recent interest has been God’s knowledge of possibilities involving human choice (the ‘counterfactuals of freedom’ as they have been called). Why this innovation? Its proponents are concerned to preserve what they consider to be two vital beliefs. The first is God’s providence and total foreknowledge. The second is the idea that human beings are ineradicably free in an indeterministic sense. When we speak of indeterministic freedom, we mean that any human being, in a given set of circumstances, has the power to choose A or to choose not-A. The problem is obvious. How can this be consistent with God’s universal providential rule and his purposes of redemption?

The Molinists’ way of attempting to keep all this together was to suggest that there existed, besides God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge, a third kind of knowledge. They argued that God also has “middle knowledge” (between the other two). What this means can be briefly explained. Given a whole array of possible worlds (that God knows), given worlds in which men and women were free in the relevant indeterministic sense, God knows what they would freely choose in every possible circumstance. God has knowledge of all such possible outcomes. If placed in one set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. If placed in another set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. This is true for all possible people and all possible circumstances. God has this middle knowledge by inspection of all the possibilities that the free will of each person might choose.

In His power and wisdom, He chooses that possible world, that total combination of individuals and circumstances, whose expressions of free will best serve His purposes. Thus, God’s omniscience is preserved, and human free will is preserved. The moral evil that occurs in the chosen world is not the direct responsibility of God but of those creatures who exercise their choices in a malevolent fashion.

What Are The Implications of Molinism?

We need to emphasize that the view of free will held by Molinists both ancient and modern is what is often called “libertarianism” or “indeterminism.” By contrast their opponents, in the Roman Catholic Church and in the churches of the Reformation, have held views of human freedom that are deliberately consistent with God’s decree of all that comes to pass and the irresistibility of His grace.

What About Biblical Arguments for Molinism?

Insofar as its proponents sought direct biblical support for middle knowledge, they used the example of David at Keilah recorded in 1 Samuel 23. At this point in the biblical narrative, the Philistines were attacking Keilah. David asked the Lord if he should go to Keilah to fight the Philistines, and the Lord said that he should. David’s companions were fearful and so David enquired a second time. At Keilah, fearing that Saul would attack him there, David asked the Lord whether Saul would come to Keilah. At this point, we read the following conversation: “And the Lord said ‘He will come down.’ Then he said ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, ‘They will surrender you.’ Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go” (1 Samuel 23:11–13).

To the minds of the Molinists, this incident showed middle knowledge at work, for it showed that the Lord knew what would happen if a certain free action occurred (they assumed that David and the other participants were acting with free will in the libertarian sense). God knew that if David freely stayed at Keilah, then the Keilahites would freely surrender him. So David freely took evasive action, and Saul freely gave up the expedition against David when he learned of what David had done. God knew all of this (and much more besides) by His foreknowledge.

What is Wrong with Molinism?

Since the Reformed held that all that occurs is unconditionally decreed by God and that men and women are responsible for their actions, they saw no need for a third kind of divine knowledge, a middle knowledge, which depended upon God foreseeing what possible people would freely do in certain circumstances. The Reformed interpreted the Keilah incident differently. God did not simply see what Saul would do; He ordained that Saul would come down if David remained. He ordained that David would depart from Keilah upon hearing what Saul would do. And He ordained that Saul would change his mind.

Not only is middle knowledge unnecessary to an all-knowing, all-decreeing God, but the Molinists’ conception of free will makes it impossible for God to exercise providential control over his creation. Why? Because men and women would be free to resist His decree. God can only bring to pass the actions of free agents via his middle knowledge of what they would freely do if…

Further, given the Molinist view of freedom, it is impossible for God to bring about the conversion of any person by the exercise of His effective call, for in the view of the Molinists it is always possible for an individual to resist God’s grace. Men and women must freely cooperate with what God says and does if they are to become Christians. God’s grace is always resistible. Reformed Christians have no good reason to accept the speculative concept of middle knowledge and strong reasons to reject it.

In conclusion, we may say that there is much that is interesting and puzzling about Molinism, but the Reformed response to it has been—and should continue to be—that not only are there unresolved difficulties in the idea of middle knowledge itself, it is also an unnecessary speculation. Scripture scarcely mentions anything that may be thought to give support to Molinism, while teaching perfectly clearly that God works all things, even the evil actions of people who act with full responsibility, after the counsel of His own will. As Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and lawless men crucified and killed him (Acts 2:23).

To learn more about Molinism read the relevant section in Dr. Helm’s book, The Providence of God.

teaching v. preaching

While I'm not convinced from a Biblical perspective, nor am I sure that the points below are perfect, I have a sense that there is a difference between teaching and preaching and Mark Driscoll does a fair job in trying to explain. Here's his post, What's the Difference Between Preaching and Teaching?

When you read the Bible, you will sometimes read of preaching, sometimes read of teaching, and sometimes hear of the same communication described as both preaching and teaching. The following are just a few examples:
  • Luke 20:1: “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up.”
  • Acts 5:42: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
  • Acts 15:35: “But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch,teaching and preaching the word of the Lord,
  • 1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
The words preaching and teaching are sometimes used interchangeably. Like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, tequila and regrettable decisions, you can have one without the other, but they often go together.

Speaking more practically, good preaching always involves some teaching. On the other hand, good teaching does not always involve preaching. In particular, there are five variables that distinguish preaching from straight-up teaching.


In a preaching setting such as a Sunday service or other large group gathering where guests are present, the speaker must assume that believers and unbelievers are likely both present. On the other hand, in a teaching setting such as a Bible college or seminary class, or Sunday school class with a regular group of students who are known by the teacher, the assumption is usually that they are all Christians under most circumstances, though there are admittedly exceptions.


True preaching must always consider lost people who are present and how to in some way invite them to turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ. In a teaching context where the focus is on maturing believers the evangelism component is simply not equally present. This explains why formally trained preachers who have spent years on a Bible college and/or seminary campus are generally speaking less evangelistically. They are often taking their cues for the Sunday pulpit from their professors’ lectures to Christians. As a result, they usually have more precision and less conversion, something that can be overcome if they obey Paul's charge to Timothy and “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).


In a preaching context where people are Christian and non-Christian (and even the Christians represent a wide range of learning and maturity), theological terms need to be explained, since Christianese shorthand makes people feel dumb and left out. In a teaching context where there is a classroom of believers with some theological training, shorthand terms can be used without slowing down to define every word. For example, when I am speaking at a Bible college or seminary class, or to a cohort of elders at a church, or at a pastors conference, I can use words like “Trinity,” “atonement,” “sin,” and “repentance” and assume that most if not all of those present know what I am talking about. But on Sunday, when unbelievers, new believers, and untaught believers are present, I have to define terms, or I risk losing people.


In a preaching context, you have a wide range of people in attendance, from those highly motivated to learn, to those completely unmotivated. In a teaching context, as a general rule, you have people who are more motivated to learn. If they signed up for a class and committed to going every week, possibly even paid for it, they are demonstrating a degree of self-motivation to learn. Conversely, in a preaching context, someone may be coming only once, to appease a family member or friend, with no intention of ever returning. Therefore, in preaching you have to be more compelling and work harder to grab and retain people’s attention.


Once again, while there are exceptions, the majority of preaching is mainly if not entirely monologue; teaching includes a higher percentage of dialogue. Case in point, most people feel far more comfortable raising their hand or just interrupting a teacher to ask a question in a class than they do a preacher in a pulpit.


Think of preaching and teaching as ingredients for a meal: Both may be present, but one flavor may dominate the dish depending on the recipe. 

Two variables greatly affect which flavor is stronger: the gifts of the primary communicator and the size of the group gathered to hear them. For example, in some smaller churches where a teacher fills the pulpit and there are rarely guests or lost people in the audience, things can start to feel increasingly more like a classroom dominated by teaching rather than a church with preaching. Conversely, sometimes a preacher of a large church can be so focused on lost people and evangelism that believers wanting to mature decide to leave the church to find one with more teaching.

Between preaching and teaching, it's not that one is good and the other is bad (although criticism is volleyed between the preachers and teachers and their fans and foes). You can discern which way a communicator leans by asking yourself whether you'd be more inclined to invite a Christian wanting to grow to hear them, or one of your lost friends you were hoping would get saved. The former is probably more of a teacher, and the latter probably more of a preacher.

Admittedly, by God’s empowering grace through the Holy Spirit, those of us who preach and teach should aspire to grow in both areas to be most effective while acknowledging our tendencies to lean one direction or the other.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

godly children

Kevin DeYoung posts the following on raising godly children. I like it.

Ten pithy sayings from John Witherspoon, Scottish Presbyterian pastor, President of Princeton (1768-1794), and signer of the Declaration of Independence, on parental authority and child rearing:

1. The best exercise in the world for children is to let them romp and jump about, as soon as they are able, according to their own fancy.

2. A parent that has once obtained and knows how to preserve authority will do more by a look of displeasure, than another by the most passionate words and even blows. It holds universally in families and schools, and even the greater bodies of men, the army and navy, that those who keep the strictest discipline give the fewest strokes.

3. There is not a more disgusting sight than the impotent rage of a parent who has no authority.

4. I have heard some parents often say that they cannot correct their children unless they are angry; to whom I have usually answered, then you ought not to correct them at all.

5. Nothing can be more weak and foolish, or more destructive of authority, than when children are noisy and in an ill humor, to give them or promise them something to appease them.

6. Let it always be seen that you are more displeased at sin than at folly.

7. Nothing is more destructive of authority than frequent disputes and chiding upon small matters. This is often more irksome to children than parents are aware of.

8. I am fully persuaded that the plainest and shortest road to real politeness of carriage, and the most amiable sort of hospitality is to think of others just as a Christian ought, and to express these thoughts with modesty and candor.

9. Many parents are much more ready to tell their children such or such a thing is mean, and not like a gentleman, than to warn them that they will incur the displeasure of their Maker.

10. It is a very nice thing in religion to know the real connection between, and the proper mixture of, spirit [i.e., matters of the heart] and form [i.e., disciplines like family worship and church attendance]. The form without the spirit is good for nothing; but on the other hand, the spirit without the form never yet existed.

All quotes are taken from Witherspoon’s Letters on the Education of Children, and On Marriage.

witness like sex

William Buckly speaking to Malcolm Muggeridge on the lack of spiritual exchange; "Odd in the same way it would be odd if people knew about the existence of sex, but for some reason never exerted themselves in such a way as to stimulate that appetite."

the beginning

A thought on the primordial ooze ...

Science Fiction - Animated Version | By Douglas Wilson.

bad charismatic habits

From J. Lee Grady ... [no opinion I'm willing to share here] ...

Anybody who has read this column before knows I’m unapologetically charismatic in my theology. I love the Holy Spirit, and I believe the New Testament calls us to make room for manifestations of the Spirit. The apostle Paul gave guidelines for the gift of prophecy; he saw dramatic healings; he experienced supernatural visions; and he told church leaders not to forbid speaking in tongues (see 1 Cor. 14:39). Paul was the epitome of charismatic spirituality.

But not everything we do today in the name of the Holy Spirit is a valid expression of His power. Over the past four decades, we charismatics have invented some lame practices that not only make us look silly but actually turn people off to our message. I figure we started these behaviors because of immaturity—and I can laugh about them because I’ve done some of them myself. But it’s 2013, and I think God expects more of us.

I realize this can be sensitive if you have one or more of these bad habits. But please pray over this list before you blast me for being critical.
  1. The body slam. There are times when people feel woozy or weak-kneed when the Holy Spirit touches them. I leave room for that. But can we please stop pushing people to the floor? Any minister who hits, shoves or slaps people at a church altar is being extremely rude. He is also relying on his own swagger to demonstrate he has the power to “slay” people in the Spirit. If you pushed someone to the floor, God had nothing to do with it.
  2. The courtesy drop. We’ve all done it. Many people fall while receiving prayer because they figure it’s the spiritual thing to do. But there is nothing in Scripture that says you have to fall to receive healing or an anointing. You receive by faith. It’s perfectly fine to stay standing. And you may actually protect yourself from getting stepped on!
  3. The song that never ends. I used to love the chorus “Let It Rain” until some churches drove this tune into the ground by playing it 159 times in a row. After the first 30 go-rounds, I want to scream, “Change the channel!” God doesn’t listen to us more intently if we are repetitive, as if we were doing a rain dance to make Him hear us. It’s OK to end the song and start a new one!
  4. The amateur flag corp. Banners and flags became a hot worship trend in the 1980s, and pageantry can still be effective when practiced and performed for an audience. But where did we get the idea that waving flags, sticks or other sharp objects within two feet of people’s faces was a smart idea?
  5. The wannabe telethon offering. I have been in meetings where the preacher gave a 25-minute offering sermon (before the main message) and then asked everyone in the audience to parade to the front for the next 15 minutes. Yes, giving money to God is worship. But when the offering takes longer than any other part of the service, I start to wonder if we are being taken for a ride.
  6. The sermon with seven endings. Speaking of money, I wish I had a dollar for every time a preacher has said, “I’m starting to close.” I don’t mind a long sermon, and I’ve been guilty of going over my time limit. But you are flat-out lying if you tell an audience you’re finishing when you actually still have half an hour to go.
  7. The praise-a-go-go dancers. I love to dance in church—and it’s normal in many of the ethnic congregations I visit. But I fear we unleashed a monster when we encouraged amateur dance teams to hop around on stage in unitards—in front of visitors! It’s not unspiritual to ask: “Will this look goofy?”
  8. The ear-shattering amp. When the early church prayed, the buildings shook. Today we shake our buildings by turning up the volume of our sound systems. You know they are too loud when church members pop in earplugs during worship. “Charismatic” does not mean “loud,” and our spirituality is not measured in decibels.
  9. The "jump-start" glossalalia. I will never apologize for the gift of tongues, and I believe it is a wonderful gift every Christian can have. But somone got the idea they could “prime the pump” by asking people to repeat certain phrases in order to uncork a prayer language. Asking someone to say, “I tie my bow tie, I tie my bow tie,” is not going to prompt a miracle. Quit manipulating the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul, in laying down guidelines for charismatic gifts, told the Corinthians, “When I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11). As we embrace the Spirit’s work, let’s allow Him to guide us into maturity so we don’t foolishly squander His power.


Something Orwell could tell us, were he here, is that the perversion of language is the mother of all subsequent perversions. In Politics and the English Language, he pointed to language that consisted “largely of euphemisms, question begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

Sheer cloudy vagueness.
"My name is Justin Lee, and I’m a committed Christian who takes the Bible seriously and wants to improve the church’s terrible reputation. I’m a speaker and writer who tries to address difficult issues from a compassionate, Bible-based, Christ-centered perspective—with some pop culture and humor thrown in for good measure." 
"Today, I run The Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit organization with members on both sides that provides support to people who feel caught in the crossfire."
There is much here to make an honest man wince, but let me point to just two things. First, what on earth does it mean to "take the Bible seriously"? Does it mean that disobedience can be sanctified by a furrowed brow? Does it mean that the Bible is given the honorary seat as lead discussion partner at the never-ending seminar? And, having been given that honorary slot, does it preside over all the subsequent discussions in much the same spirit that Jeremy Bentham's stuffed remains attend University College London council meetings, "present, but not voting"? Taking the Bible seriously means that you get all of the feely gravitas, and none of the nuisance. Your faith can be very precious to you, and at the same time not get in the way of something else that is even more precious to you. We need not go into what that is.

The second thing to note here is the phrase "improve the church's terrible reputation." If this meant that, Jeremiah-like, the writer wanted to improve the church's reputation with God, presenting her faultless and without spot, well, then there could be no complaint. That is sort of the whole point of human history, after all.

But alas, I suspect it means something else. I suspect it means that the church is in the dock, looking abashed, and the zeitgeist is up behind the bench, powdered wig and all, with wooden hammer in hand, all set to gavel the church's seething hatreds flat. You believe that Paul teaches that it is wrong for men to leave the natural use of the woman? Scoundrel! Wham! Rather, you must take this text seriously, and wrestle with the contours of it. Who doesn't know that?

But there is no surer recipe for capitulating to utter, god-forsaken worldliness than to put worldliness in charge of whether or not you have a good reputation. Under this set-up, the only way to improve the church's reputation is by posting bond, and promising never to do it again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The Coming Battle by Michael Bird:

Yesterday I created a file on my computer marked “Infanticide.” I intend to start making notes, collecting articles, and finding materials about the subject. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while and I’m convinced that now is the time to start gathering info and getting ready to deal with the subject. Let me tell you why.

I’m no chess grand master. I’ve read a few chess books, I know a few opening moves, some risky gambits – not enough to beat Chris Tilling in a game – but I know enough to hold my own. One thing I’ve learned about chess is that you have to think ahead, usually, at least two moves ahead. As a Christian in an increasingly aggressive secular culture, I believe, much like a game of chess, that we have to start thinking two moves ahead of the game. We have to identify what’s on, what’s next, and what is after that. 

In terms of “what’s on,” that is obviously the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. Now I am opposed to SSM for various reasons, most of which will not convince most people! At the end of the day, SSM is about the attempt to compel government and society to affirm a person’s emotional attachments and choice of lifestyle entirely apart from any kind of sexual ecology. I think I have a solution to that debate which would get religion out of civil unions and government out of marriage – but that’s a different story. In any case, it’s time to face up. While there are some remarkably resistant hold outs – including Australia much to my surprise – the game is pretty much over. I’m convinced that SSM is inevitable. Nearly every non-Christian under 30 that I know is in favor of it. Even rugged beer swilling rugby stars are coming out in support of it. The writing is on the wall. While there might be a few pockets that hold out for longer, the barbarians will breach the gates sooner rather than later. 

In terms of, “what’s next,” it will be euthanasia. In Australia, the Greens are already aggressively campaigning for it. The situation is probably similar in the UK and USA. There are several societies that are committed to its promotion (e.g., The Hemlock Society). Europe and parts of Asia already have it in places and will legalize it further (I think Holland even has “mobile” euthanasia clinics). In light of western individualism and stories about horrible suffering, euthanasia too, is probably coming. I reckon it will be an easier win for secularists since it reflects the choice of the individual, alleviates suffering, and does not interfere with anyone else’s relationships. It too is probably inevitable. While I am genuinely sympathetic to euthanasia (who wants to see people suffer?), it will lead to a de-valuation of the elderly, will result in reduced funding for palliative care, and will be used to knock off senile parents by kids who want to cash in on their parent’s nest egg.

Then as regards to, “what’s after that,” I am convinced it will be infanticide. Already we have seen a vast array of philosophical arguments put forward for it by Peter Singer. Last year there was a big hoopla when two Melbourne academics advocated that new born infants are not persons and infants are not therefore not entitled to the protection that personhood conveys. More recently, the spate of “post-birth abortions” performed in Philadelphia has provoked outrage, though much of the media has deliberately muted their response. Added to that, Planned Parenthood has recently defended infanticide: If you pay money, you are owed a dead baby! I think infanticide is a logically consistent corollary of abortion. If you are going to terminate a child in utero, then let’s be honest, going six inches down the birth canal can hardly change the infant’s legal rights or ontological status. So infanticide is just a logical outworking of abortion. But a cruel, bastardly, and barbaric logic is still cruel, bastardly, and barbaric regardless of how internally consistent it is.

Campaigners for infanticide will make their case in a gradual way. First, they won’t call it “infanticide” (killing infants) but “post-birth abortion.” The reasons are obvious. The word “infanticide” strikes horror into our hearts. But “post-birth abortion” makes it sound like the termination is simply an extension of abortion, which we are culturally adjusted to. Yet the terminology is grossly inaccurate. You can “abort” something in process like a pregnancy, but killing an infant is not an abortion, its an execution. Second, campaigners will advocate the infants born with terminal illnesses should be euthanized so as to prevent the infant’s suffering. That is the compassionate thing to do! Third, then the campaign will shift to children with chronic disabilities and all kinds of generative diseases and then move onto to any minor defect like cleft palates. Planned Parenthood will parade teary-eyed parents wishing they could have terminated their sick child either in utero or soon after birth to prevent the child’s suffering and their own. Fourth, then radical feminists will tell us that women will never be truly liberated until they are given the right to terminate their own infants. Fifth, we will be told that the only reason for not believing in infanticide is that you are a religious whack job. Well you get the picture by now.

Some might think that I’m paranoid on this issue, but I think time will prove that I am more likely to be prophetic. The building blocks for the debate are already here and it is time to get our stuff together on this.

The introduction of SSM will be a confirmation that Christendom is truly over. The introduction of euthansia will mean that secular humanism is now the default philosophical setting. The advent of infanticide will mean that our culture has returned to paganism; returned to a time when ethics were simply a matter of power and aesthetics. Don’t believe me, consider this famous line from P.Oxy. 4.744, it’s a letter from a man to his wife about her pregnancy.

Hilarion to his sister Alis, many greetings, also to my lady Berous and Apollonarion. Know that I am still in Alexandria; and do not worry if they wholly set out, I am staying in Alexandria. I ask you and entreat you, take care of the child, and if I receive my pay soon, I will send it up to you. Above all, if you bear a child and it is male, let it be; if it is female, cast it out. You have told Aphrodisias, “Do not forget me.” But how can I forget you? Thus I’m asking you not to worry. The 29th year of Caesar, Pauni 23. (verso) Hilarion to Alis, deliver.
Pagans routinely killed infants by exposure, just dumped them out in the wilderness to die from the elements, to be eaten alive by wild beasts, or else to be picked up by slave traders. Modern infanticide is just a variation of an old theme. This is where some want to take us.

It is time to plan our response. When I was in the Army I worked in a military headquarters in the Intelligence Branch (S2). The S2 branch would work closely with Operations (S3) especially when it came to planning the future of the battle. The key to winning a battle was to get inside the opponent’s decision cycle by being able to identify and respond to events quicker than one’s adversary could. In military terms, this is what is called the OODA loop. That stands for Observe, Orientate, Decide, and Act. If you can do the OODA loop faster than your opponent then you can win the conflict.

In the coming battle, we need to do the OODA loop faster than advocates of infanticide. We need to observe cultural trends and public opinion on the subject, orientate ourselves to the debate by analyzing what might sway people for or against the subject, decide how to confront the issue and create a rhetoric that will induce prejudice against infanticide, and then act (God willing) will the full weight of moral authority and argumentative power to make sure that the pagans don’t win. Christians can respond a number of ways to this issue: establish an Infants Defence League, debate in the public square, books, articles in the popular press, through academia, church movements, public protest, and the like. I very much like Derek Rishmawy’s suggestion for how we might respond to this issue:

Our persuasive efforts in cultivating a culture of life must not be confined to the political or intellectual realm—it must be rooted in a persuasive practice of life in the Church itself. Contemporary post-birth abortion advocates want to take us back to the ancient pagan world where the practice of infant exposure of the weak and the inconvenient was sanctioned by law and advocated by philosophers as a means of proper state-craft. In response, Christians must find creative ways to imitate their forebears who made a practice of rescuing the discarded lives their pagan neighbors tossed to the trash. Either through greater support of adoption and foster-care agencies, communities that intentionally create space for and welcome young mothers in difficult situations, or efforts such as those of Korean pastor Lee Jon-Rak, who created a drop-box for unwanted (due to sex, defect, etc.) children to be left safely and cared for through the church; the Church must give a beautiful witness, in word and deed, to a gospel of life that captures the moral imagination of our culture as it did in those early Christian centuries. 
I have written very emotively on the subject above, and I don’t apologize, for it is a subject that should prompt great emotion in us all. If infanticide ever becomes permissible it will mean the death of western culture as we know it. No longer a light in the darkness, but a greater part of the darkness. It will mean that we are ruled by Barbarians with Law degrees from Harvard. I believe that the one group with the resources and testicular fortitude to stand up for the defenceless, to be a voice for the voiceless, is the church of Jesus Christ. It’s what we do. Whether that was stopping gladiatorial contests in the arena or setting up hospices for the dying. In a world, like the Roman empire, that is often cold, brutal, and dark, where the weak are exploited or expendable, Christians are to be lights against darkness and a force against evil.

cheap forgiveness

The following is from Chris Brauns, the master of forgiveness (well, you know what I mean ...):

Which is worse: “cheap forgiveness” or “holding a grudge”? Is there healing power in holding a grudge?

Simon Doonan of Slate has written an article defending the healing power of holding a grudge. The article is well worth reading. Doonan’s critique of the cheap forgiveness so prevalent in our culture makes a valid point. Cheap and automatic forgiveness is no way to process grave injustice. It is unbiblical and it doesn’t work (See “A Soft View of Hell Makes Hard People.”). However, Doonan’s alternative to cheap forgiveness is to hold a grudge. Holding on to anger and resentment will not work either. The only way to truly process the evil of this world is to look to our Creator. We can be confident that vengeance belongs to Him and that he will rule justly.

In his article, Doonan surveys what he calls the “now ubiquitous forgiveness movement:
In recent years there has been no shortage of high-profile forgiveness fests. Mary Jo Buttafuoco forgave Amy Fisher, the Long Island Lolita, for shooting her in the head at point-blank range. At one of his many parole hearings, Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s killer, perturbed his interlocutors by suggesting that his victim would have forgiven him by now. (Impressively, Yoko Ono, a promoter of forgiveness in general, has repeatedly said she’s not ready to forgive Chapman.) 
In 2010 a lad in Tallahassee, Fla., named Conor McBride shot his girlfriend in the head. As she was clinging to life-support, her father says he somehow sensed her pleading with him to forgive Conor. He forgave the young man. 
On March 7, just over a month after Oscar Pistorius was arrested on suspicion of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the uncle of the deceased beauty told CNN, “I would like to be face to face with him [Pistorius] and forgive him, forgive him [for] what he’s done and that way I can find most probably more peace with the situation but tell him face to face.” 
Most recently, we have the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case. Last month, the mother of the victim shocked the courtroom when she told one of the rapists that she forgave him. Though I disagree wildly with her position, I can understand how she ended up there. Immersed in our culture of healing and kumbaya, and confronted with the sobbing, apologetic 16-year-old perp, she probably felt obliged to say something. But instead of offering to forgive him, how about a little helpful advice, for example: “Young man, terrible acts have terrible consequences. You must take your punishment like a man, and then, when you have paid your debt to society, you will be given a chance to rebuild your life.
Reflecting on the death of a friend, Doonan concludes that the alternative to automatic forgiveness is to hold a grudge.
When I run out of grudges I often go back to remembering my old pal. At first I think about how insanely fun and life-enhancing he was. Inevitably, after musing for a while, I start to get irate at the injustice of his death, and I can feel my body fill with anger. But I wear that clenched jaw and tension headache—sorry, Joan Lunden—as a badge of honor. Out of respect for the memory of my pal, I will carry that rage and indignation to my grave. No forgiveness necessary.
It is a good thing to be loyal to our friends. But it is not a good thing to go through life with a clenched jaw and tension headache. Bitterness is poisonous. Instead, as I pointed out in my book Unpacking Forgiveness one of the central ways that Scripture teaches us to avoid bitterness is to rest in the truth that God will see that justice is done. Hence, Romans 12:17-21 says that we ought not to repay evil for evil, but rather we can rest in the truth that vengeance belongs to God and that he will repay.

For more, read the below posts.

Forgiveness and Virginia Tech is an article about I would say to a parent who lost a child at Virginia Tech.

A Soft View of Hell Makes Hard People explains why a neglect of biblical teaching on the doctrine of eternal punishment makes for hard and bitter people.

Al Mohler: A Dark Night in Denver: Groping for Answers is by the president of Southern Seminary and was written after the Aurora, CO murders.

5 Problems with Unconditional Forgiveness explains why a belief in automatic forgiveness has a negative theological trajectory.

Unpacking the Casey Anthony Case was written after the trial of Casey Anthony.

The Forgiveness Quiz tests your knowledge of what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and outlines the discussion in Unpacking Forgiveness.

An article about the murder of Kelsey Grammer’s sister was written regarding the parole hearings for someone convicted of the murder of the television star’s sister.

flesh v. spirit

"[W]hat is this "walking by the Spirit"? There are two other images in the context which shed light on the meaning of "walk by the Spirit." The first is in verse 18: "If you are led by the Spirit you are not under law." If Paul had said, "If you follow the Spirit you are not under law," it would have been true, but in using the passive voice ("If you are led") he emphasizes the Spirit's work, not ours. The Spirit is not a leader like the pace car in the "Daytona 500." He is a leader like a locomotive on a train. We do not follow in our strength. We are led by his power. So "walk by the Spirit" means stay hooked up to the divine source of power and go wherever he leads.

The second image of our walk in the Spirit is in verse 22: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc." If our Christian walk is to be a walk of love and joy and peace, then "walk by the Spirit" must mean "bear the fruit of the Spirit." But again, the Spirit's work is emphasized, not ours. He bears the fruit. Perhaps Paul got this image from Jesus. You recall John 15:4, 5: "Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit." So "walk by the Spirit" means "abide in the vine." Keep yourself securely united to the living Christ. Don't cut yourself off from the flow of the Spirit.

So in answer to our first question—What is this walking by the Spirit?—we answer: it is "being led by the Spirit" and it is "bearing the fruit of the Spirit." The work of the Spirit is emphasized, yet the command is for us to do something. Our wills are deeply involved. We must want to be coupled to the locomotive. We must want to abide in the vine. And there are some things we can do to keep ourselves attached to the flow of God's power. But before we ask how to walk by the Spirit let's ask . . ."

John Piper ... read the rest here ...

Friday, April 19, 2013

from woman

Interesting (to me anyway) thought from Doug Wilson:

"If it is important that the first woman came from the first man, it is also important (obviously) that every man since, from Cain on down, has been born of a woman. To anchor the point for all time, our Lord Jesus was born of a woman" (For a Glory and a Covering, p. 69).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

guided by the spirit

Guided By The Spirit | John Wimber

A change of mind, and of heart, (can open leaders to the guidance the lord wants to give. What is your model of leadership? Where does it come from? Is it biblical?

Many Christian leaders work off a model that views the leader as chief executive officer. He sets goals, makes plans based on the best available data, strategizes, and in general takes a nononsense approach.

Church leaders also tend to view themselves as professionals. The leader is seen as someone who has accumulated a lot of knowledge about Christianity.

Both these models frequently lead to some success. I have come to believe, however, that neither is suitable as the fundamental approach to leadership in the church. There’s nothing wrong with managerial planning and professional competence per se. Unfortunately, we often allow these tools to exclude dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ and the guidance of his Spirit.

The New Testament model of leadership is different in many respects from these models. It is essentially concerned with personally following a master - ultimately, the Master. In the New Testament a leader is distinguished not so much by administrative skills as by ability to pass on the way of life he has been taught; not so much by what he knows as by whom he knows. His skills and knowledge spring from his relationship with God and a human teacher, and result in a changed character, marked by humility, wisdom, and discernment.

The church today has tried to marry this New Testament model of leadership with the corporate/professional models. The marriage hasn’t worked too well. We pay homage to humility while discarding constant dependence on the Master. Primary reliance on professional management tools replaces reliance on the Lord’s personal presence, initiative, and guidance through his Spirit. We no longer expect his action and direction.


I’m no stranger to corporate planning. For years I’ve been involved in the church growth movement, which has contributed much to the technical understanding of how to run a church. I have designed five and tenyear master plans for Christian organizations. I am familiar with the process of sorting ideas, establishing goals, putting plans down on paper, and helping people to advance. I am not against planning. I am in favor of planning- after God speaks.

God wants to speak. The challenge lies not in getting God to guide us but in waiting on him faithfully so as to hear him.

At the Vineyard we have experienced discernment regarding where geographically to focus our efforts, what goals to set for growth, how to arrange pastoral structures, when to hold major events, and similar matters. I do not believe there is anything abnormal about this, anything that other churches and groups should not also expect to experience.

To give an example, we believe the Lord is holding back numerical growth in favor of growth in character, and holiness in the Vineyard in Anaheim right now. In 1989 we had a net increase of about 1,200 people - a good growth year for a congregation of 7,500. But the Holy Spirit showed me that in 1990 we would see little numerical growth. Instead we would see significant things going on in people’s lives-the kinds of challenges and activities that usually result in a higher level of perseverance and a more solid commitment. I told the staff to prepare for it. Starting in January of 1990 we did see a decline in the number of new people coming into the church and a shift in what was going on in the lives of many of the leaders and other members.

We also receive discernment for outreach activities. The Lord will give us a sensitivity to some place or group, indicating that we are to go here or there, we are to work with this age group or that age group, we are to use this kind of deployment rather than that kind. As a staff we sense that this is the next move and unite in taking it together.

These decisions involve the use of discernment type gifts. We call them loosely “the eyes of God” or “the eyes of the Spirit.” These are gifts such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the distinguishing of spirits, prophetic gifts, and, less often, tongues and interpretation.

Having had this experience of guidance, we never plan before God speaks. We often find ourselves like a ship at sea without wind, all our sails sagging. We could develop a plan, but there is no impetus for it. The Spirit of God is not speaking.

I should note that we are not very successful at “getting God” to speak. We find there are long periods when we cannot “get anything out of him” that is immediately relevant to planning. And so we spend a significant amount of time, sometimes months on end, simply seeking the Lord and asking him to give direction.

We don’t sit on our hands during those periods when we do not sense new guidance. We have many things that are in place from God speaking to us in the past. We do not abandon them. We mustn’t confuse waiting on the Lord with doing nothing.


In addition to discernment for the church’s corporate life, we have also come to expect discernment about the people we are pastoring. For example, those of us on the pastoral staff often receive a sense from the Lord to ask questions from a member. Even though we have an average attendance of more than 5,000 people, while I am preaching I often know who is not there. I will come off the pulpit and, while my associates are with me, list off some people: “Check on this family, check on that family.” Seeing people in passing, I will sometimes receive discernment about something going on in their lives.

Spiritual insight may concern demonic activity in people’s lives. I will sometimes have a sense of which demons are affecting people and what they are doing in their lives.

God gives other spiritual gifts that are significant tools for pastoral care. There are gifts that I would call “the hands of God,” which have to do with faith healing and miracles; and “the voice of God”-gifts having to do with teaching and preaching, tongues, interpretation, prophecy, and so on. These operate in conjunction with gifts of discernment.


How do we learn to lead according to the New Testament model of personal dependence on the Master? Unlike the managerial and professional models of leadership, the key is not mastering certain skills or accumulating knowledge. The key is humility-humble character and humble dependence on the Lord.

We must understand that humble servant leadership entails weakness. In our Western world we see no positive association between weakness and leadership. Neither, at first, did Paul. But after asking the Lord three times to remove the difficulty of the thorn in the flesh, Paul heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And so, Paul wrote, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Frequently God invites us to accept weakness voluntarily. For instance, we are encouraged to intercession. For people who like to take charge and make things happen, sustained intercession seems like a very weak activity. Yet we are all called to this activity. In 1 Thessalonians Paul tells us: “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith” (3 10).

Fasting likewise is an activity of weakness. We fast in secret, in our closet. We can increase our fasting and prayer without getting immediate results. They may be stored up for some time later in our lifetime or in the lifetimes of others. We cannot manipulate God through prayer and fasting; we cannot get him on our timetable. In all these ways, fasting seems like a weak endeavor.


Growing in servant leadership according to the New Testament model, then, involves growing in discernment. How can we do this?

In the New Testament the most commonly disciplined problem in the church was not immorality but divisiveness, including gossip and the carrying of tales. And so the Scripture is replete with instructions and exhortations about talking charitably. We must discipline ourselves if we are to do this. If we do, we will, as a byproduct, find that the dullness of our spiritual discernment is removed.

Opening ourselves to the Spirit’s gifts of discernment also involves housecleaning. Some months ago, for example, the Lord spoke to me out of Psalm 101 about “no unclean thing will pass my eye.”

“Lord, what’s passing my eye?” I prayed.

I realized it was television. I was not watching a lot of television. But the Spirit of God spoke to me very clearly and said to turn the thing off. We did. Within a matter of days I could sense discernment in my life increasing.

A clean house doesn’t necessarily represent a filled home. We must put aside sin in order to pursue God, so that the Spirit will fill us and manifest his love through us. We must develop a life style in which we go before the Lord and receive from him, and operate out of that.

Much of our trouble in the church today relates directly to our lack of heavenly mindedness. As the apostles often completely missed the significance of Jesus’ words right up to the end of his earthly life, we often miss God’s purposes. We are oblivious to the ways he wants to guide us and work through us.

But the apostles advanced from dullness and lack of discernment to a condition of considerable discernment. Consider Acts 5, in which Peter was able to look into the heart of Ananias and Sapphira and see that they had lied to the Holy Spirit. The point here is not the severity of their punishment, but the clarity of Peter’s discernment.

Much training of Christian leaders today reflects an exclusion of spiritual acumen or ability. As a result, many of us are operating in a spiritual kingdom without much spiritual discernment. For personal reliance on Christ and the Spirit we substitute secular arts of leadership. But more is available to the body of Christ, because the Lord Jesus wants to lead us.

Not all of us will have the same giftedness, but corporately the church can have that same kind of spiritual discernment that we see in Scripture. Our doing so is dependent on our moving away from a worldly focus into the spiritual dimension that is available to every Christian leader to operate in.

Source: Equipping The Saints, Vol. 5, No. 2/Spring 1991

legalize polygamy

From Ed Stetzer this morning ...

In 2004, The Washington Post's Slate.com published an article which refutes what they see as Santorum's silly slippery slope argument that gay marriage will lead to polygamy. In 2012, Slate reports that Santorum is still making the crazy claim. Now, in 2013, Slate publishes an article saying that gay marriage will, well, lead to that thing they mocked earlier. Here is the article... which at least acknowledges the irony of the moment (with no apology for earlier articles).

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints polygamous communities, for example, women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (That goes without saying, I hope.)

But legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn't legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.

Right now, all polygamous families, including the healthy, responsible ones, are driven into hiding (notwithstanding the openly polygamous Brown family on TLC's Sister Wives, that is). In the resulting isolation, crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded. Children in polygamous communities are taught to fear the police and are not likely to report an abusive neighbor if they suspect their own parents might be caught up in a subsequent criminal investigation. In a United States with legalized polygamy, responsible plural families could emerge from the shadows--making it easier for authorities to zero in on the criminals who remain there.

Many people argue that there is no such thing as a "healthy, responsible" polygamous family, particularly for the children born into one. "Children are harmed because they are often set in perennial rivalry with other children and mothers for the affection and attention of the family patriarch," argued John Witte Jr. in the Washington Post. "Men with lots of children and wives are spread too thin," agreed Libby Copeland in Slate. The earnestness of these arguments is touching but idealistic. Men in monogamous marriages can't be spread too thin? Children in monogamous families don't rival each other for the attentions of their parents? Two-parent families are not the reality for millions of American children. Divorce, remarriage, surrogate parents, extended relatives, and other diverse family arrangements mean families already come in all sizes--why not recognize that legally?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

on the decline

I found the following article a few days ago and have begun reading it. I think it is a worthy read. . The title is The Decline of Christianity in the West? A Contrarian Viewand it is by Grove City College Prof, T. David Gordon.

Here is an excerpt:

"What I would like to suggest in this brief essay is that there is a difference, indeed a profound difference, between the decline of Christianity itself and the decline of culture religion; and further, that it is quite possible, if not altogether likely, that the decline of culture religion will ordinarily correlate with the progress of Christianity, not its regress."


"If we believe we need Christian presidents, legislators, and judges in order for our faith to advance, then we ourselves no longer believe in Christianity, and it has declined. Christianity does not rise or fall on the basis of governmental activity; it rises or falls on the basis of true ecclesiastical activity. What Christianity needs is competent ministers, not Christian judges, legislators, or executive officers."

~ Dr. Gordon's website is here.

why follow jesus

Jonathan Dodson posts Why Follow Jesus?

In today’s culture, we are more pragmatic than reflective. Obsessed with knowing what works and how it works, we strive to repeat the formula. We are less concerned with why things work. Discipleship is no exception. Many have traded in the why for the how, motivation for the best practice. This is disconcerting. The reason for this is that practice can take us only so far. When hardship hits, practice needs motivation to continue.

What motivates you to follow Jesus? If this question isn’t one you continually ponder and answer, you will walk away from Jesus rather than after Him.

The Pragmatic Disciple

Given our culture’s pragmatic bent, the modern discipleship mantra is “make disciples who make disciples.” This mantra is pragmatic and reproductive. Is pragmatic reproduction Jesus’ chief concern? When He came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, did He give an inspiring message and then move to three action points on how to make disciples? Certainly, He did model, instruct, and send (Luke 9–10). The kingdom of God is embedded with reproductive DNA (reflected in some of Jesus’ agricultural parables). But the kingdom of God is also slow and deep. It stretches across arduous lifespans and into the depths of the human heart. The reign of Christ penetrates our DNA, continually motivating us.

Instead of focusing His training on the how, Jesus relentlessly got to the why. This is why so many of His sayings are unnerving. As a master teacher, He provoked reflection, not just action:
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57–58) 
Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (vv. 62–63)
Jesus forces us to reflect on our motives for following Him. If we live for comfort and ease, we won’t give up our beds, money, and entertainment to follow Him. If idyllic community is what motivates our decisions, we won’t give up close friends and family members. Jesus is clear. If we want to be His disciples, we must be motivated by something greater than comfort and community. His kingdom must motivate us, and the kingdom comes with a cost.

True disciples will consider and embrace the cost over and over again. They will endure because, in finding the kingdom, they have found a King worthy of their sacrifice. Searching for the why of their existence, they discover a pearl of great price. Disciples motivated by pragmatism alone may consider the cost and embrace the cause of making disciples who make disciples, but when push comes to shove, they will walk away from Jesus, not after Him. We need more than the hows of fulfilling the Great Commission to get us through the adversity of seeking first the kingdom of God.

The Jesus Disciple

When Jesus gave His mountaintop commission, He loaded it with kingdom motivation. The main directive to make disciples is preceded by the image of a risen, radiant king, rippling with power and authority, in heaven and on earth (Dan. 7:9–14; Matt. 28:17). He is strong enough to depose nations and glorious enough to summon their worship. We are sent under this aegis. We are not sent in the authority of our own experience but in the authority of His lordship. Our story isn’t sufficient to “make a disciple,” but His story is. Why do we go? To baptize into His name, not ours. Making disciples of all nations is no personal cause; it is the redemptive agenda of God Himself. Our motivation, then, arises from being submerged in the grace of God, not from having others align with our way of doing things.

How do we continue to make disciples when wading neck deep in sin? We have to remember that the success of our mission requires not only the authority of the King but also the mercy of the Messiah. He is the Disciple who succeeds where we fail, in perfect obedience to God. We extend mercy from His mercies that are new every day.

But what if the mission field is too hard? Behold, He is with us always, even to the end of the age. We depend not only on the past obedience of the Faithful Disciple, but also on the present presence of the risen Lord. We make disciples in the authority of Jesus, submerged in the grace of Jesus, enduring in the mercy of Jesus, with the forever promise of the presence of King Jesus. Disciples need to recover a singular motivation to endure all the cost—the infinite sufficiency and splendor of our Lord.

Why do we follow Jesus? Because of who He is. If we have Jesus, we have more than enough to make disciples.

living missional

Speaking of being a contagious Christian, Tim Chester posts 10 simple ways to be missional ... that is, simple ways to be in close proximity to that which we are to affect.
  1. Eat with other people: We all eat 3 meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.
  2. Work in public places: Hold meetings, prepare talks, read in public spaces like cafes, pubs and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture as work or plan. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies – those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?
  3. Be a regular: Adopt a local cafe, pub, park and shops so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this!
  4. Join in with what’s going on: Churches often start their own thing like a coffee shop or homeless program. Instead, join existing initiatives – you don’t have the burden of running it and you get opportunities with co-workers.
  5. Leave the house in the evenings: It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbor. Attend a local group. Go to the cinema. Hang out in a cafe. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with gospel intentionality.
  6. Serve your neighbors: Weed a neighbor’s garden. Help someone move. Put up a shelf. Volunteer with a local group. It could be one evening a week or one day a month. Try to do it with other members of your gospel community so it becomes a common project. Then people will see your love for one another and it will be easier to talk about Jesus.
  7. Share your passion: What do you enjoy? Find a local group that shares your passion. Be missional and have fun at the same time!
  8. Hang out with your work colleagues: Spend your lunch break with colleagues. Go for a drink after work. Share the journey to work.
  9. Walk: Walking enables you to engage with your neighborhood at street level. You notice things you don’t in a car. You are seen and known in the neighborhood.
  10. Prayer walk: Walk around your neighborhood using what you see as fuel for prayer. Pray for people, homes, businesses, community groups and community needs. Ask God to open your eyes to where He is at work and to fill your heart with love for your neighborhood.