Archive | Christianity

Hymn to God the Father

One of my favorite poems of all time is “Hymn to God the Father” by John Donne. If you are not familiar with this poem, you need to be. Donne composed this piece near the end of his life when he was facing death (circa 1631). As he contemplates his demise, he is overcome with a sense of his own sinfulness, and he wonders how he will stand at the judgment. Donne evokes all the anguish of the “wretched man” in Romans 7:24 before he sounds a final note of hope that Jesus will rescue him at the last day.

There is a wonderful play on the word “done” in this poem, and you’ll note that it can either mean “done” or “Donne” (as in John Donne). It really is beautiful, and you can read the full text below. Continue Reading →

1

The Heav’n rescued land

In the short story “No Refuge Could Save” by Isaac Asimov, the main character exposes a German spy by quizzing him on the third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When the suspected spy reveals that he knows the lyrics to the third verse, he blew his own cover. Why? Because no American knows the third verse of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Americans only know the first verse. Only a spy would know any of the lyrics beyond that.

The story is correct. Americans don’t know the second, third, or fourth verses of the National Anthem. By custom and tradition, we only ever sing the first verse. So the other verses have been all but forgotten.

Still, the last verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” would repay a careful reading. It goes like this:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Happy 4th!

1

What your average evangelical is concerned about after Obergefell

The video above is from a Roman Catholic group, but I can testify that many evangelical Christians are feeling the same way these folks are.

I am a pastor, and the testimonies in this video sound very similar to what I have been hearing from the folks in my church. Our members by and large don’t have questions about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. They get that. Nor do they have questions about their obligation to love their neighbor, to seek their good, and to be at peace with everyone (Mark 12:29; Luke 6:33; Rom. 12:18). They get all of that. Continue Reading →

18

How the propaganda works

The LA Times reports that Mississippi’s Attorney General has put a halt to gay marriage in that state in spite of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing gay marriage. This is no surprise. Everyone knew that the high Court’s decision wouldn’t come down without some resistance. A similar thing is happening in Texas right now as well.

But it’s important to note that the AG’s effort is not going to work. At least not permanently. At best, this is a delaying tactic. Gay marriage will go forward in Mississippi just like it will in every other state of the union. Continue Reading →

78

A word to pastors preaching in the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges

I am a pastor. I preach the word of God regularly to the congregation that I serve. And this morning I am thinking about and praying for other pastors across the country who will be ascending the sacred desk tomorrow morning to deliver a message to God’s people. Some of them are wondering what to say in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that seems designed to marginalize our ancient faith. I don’t know that I have anything particularly earth-shattering to offer here, but I would like to encourage you pastors in several specific ways as you prepare. Continue Reading →

33

Praising grace and gay marriage all in one day

Of all the spectacles we witnessed today, perhaps the one that stood out to me most is the President of the United States. Early today, he stood in the Rose Garden praising gay marriage (watch below). A few short hours later, he stood in a Christian worship service praising the grace of God (watch above). In a single day, praising Jesus in the assembly and denying him in the Rose Garden. From the same lips, a confession of life-giving truth and of soul-destroying error. This ought not be (James 3:10). Continue Reading →

33

Naïve evangelicals trying to avoid the reproaches of Christ

Evangelicals, it is time to take heed and be wise. Your must-read of the day is David French, who writes:

Especially among Evangelicals, there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate.

Christians who’ve not suffered for their faith often romanticize persecution. They imagine themselves willing to lose their jobs, their liberty, or even their lives for standing up for the Gospel. Yet when the moment comes, at least here in the United States, they often find that they simply can’t abide being called “hateful.” It creates a desperate, panicked response. “No, you don’t understand. I’m not like those people — the religious right.” Thus, at the end of the day, a church that descends from apostles who withstood beatings finds itself unable to withstand tweetings. Social scorn is worse than the lash.

This is the era of sexual liberty — the marriage of hedonism to meaning — and the establishment of a new civic religion. The black-robed priesthood has spoken. Will the church bow before their new masters?

Here’s the bottom line. No amount of niceness, of social justice advocating, of human-trafficking opposition, of listening to the right bands, of wearing the right clothes, of poverty relief, of reading N. T. Wright—or whatever cool Christian stuff you can align with—will remove the reproach of Christ from you if you choose to follow his teaching on sexuality. You are on a fool’s errand if you are trying. If you are trying to save your life, you will lose it. But if you will lose your life for his sake, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).

Better to have Jesus and his reproaches than to not have him at all (Mark 8:34).

39

A prophetic word from eleven years ago about today

Eleven years ago, John Piper delivered a message about “Discerning the Will of God Concerning Homosexuality and Marriage.” The message made an impression on me, and for many years now I’ve been reading a portion of this sermon every semester to my undergraduate hermeneutics students.

I share the message now because it is astonishing to me how prophetic it is in light of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court by a narrow 5-4 ruling redefined marriage for all 50 states. In doing so, it usurped the authority of the states and imposed a fraudulent “meaning” onto the Constitution.

You can read the manuscript excerpt below, but I recommend that you listen to the audio. There is much more in the audio version than in what appears in the manuscript. Keep in mind that this was eleven years ago: Continue Reading →

8

A Moral and Judicial Travesty

Today’s decision from the Supreme Court is a moral and judicial travesty.

From a legal standpoint, it represents five unelected justices imposing on the nation a new definition of marriage. The judgment is not rooted in sound legal principle but in the opinions of five lawyers arrogating to themselves the right to enact social policy. The Supreme Court has no right to redefine marriage for all 50 states, but that is exactly what it did today.

From a moral standpoint, the decision is a complete subversion of the good, the right, and the true with respect to marriage. Marriage is the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. Its connection to procreation and children has been revealed to us in nature, reason, and common sense. The Bible further reveals that marriage is an icon of the gospel—a symbol of Christ’s covenant love for his church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

The Court’s decision today attempts to turn all of that upside down. As a result, it stands against reason and common sense. More importantly, it stands against the purposes of the One who created marriage to begin with (Genesis 2:24-25).

Although I am disappointed with this decision, I remain confident that Christians will continue to bear witness to the truth about marriage—even if the law of our land is now arrayed against us. We will be in the world, not of the world, for the sake of the world (John 17:15-16, 23). Nothing that the Supreme Court has said today changes any of that.

33

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes