The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” report that identifies “940 active hate groups across the United States in 2019.” Anyone familiar with this list knows how malignantly flawed it is. It designates a number of mainstream Christian organizations as “hate groups” simply because of their beliefs about homosexuality and transgenderism. Two groups highlighted in the report are the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Family Research Council (FRC).
I know that the nation’s interest has been transfixed by the coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, there is another item in the news that is worth our attention. Politico reports that a congressional commission has recommended that women be required to register for the draft. From the report:
A congressionally mandated commission is recommending women should be eligible for the draft, a move that comes five years after the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women.
“This is a necessary and fair step, making it possible to draw on the talent of a unified Nation in a time of national emergency,” the commissioners wrote in the 255-page report, obtained by POLITICO.
We haven’t had the draft for many years now. If it were ever reinstated, however, the commission calls for requiring women to serve, including in combat units. Yes, you read that right. Women could be drafted to serve in forward areas where they would be required to engage in combat—sometimes hand-to-hand combat—with male enemy soldiers. Continue Reading →
Isn’t it astonishing that, the worse things get, the more Christians sing? The video above was released yesterday by a group of Nashville Studio musicians called the Ten Two Six Music Group. Incredibly, they recorded this on their phones!
I was delighted to see an old college friend of mine in this one. His name is Jason Barton, and among other things he sings with Amy Grant as well as his own band 33 Miles. So to Jason: Salute, brother!
If life as God intended it is anything, it is a fight for joy. Especially in moments like the one we are in now. Praise God that Christianity is a singing religion. The Lord really does wish for us to have a deep and abiding joy in him, and he often sustains us in joy through our songs:
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” –Colossians 3:16
In my sermon last Sunday, I told the story of a time in my own life when the Lord used a song to drive the clouds away when the darkness wouldn’t lift. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. And it’s why we need to find our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs right now. We need to find them for each other.
Thanks be to God that Bob Kauflin found one for us. The lyrics and Bob’s words about the song are below. Take it all in, saints, and be ye glad. Continue Reading →
Our church still isn’t gathering on Sunday morning, but we are gathering around our scattered screens to sing and to pray and to hear a message from God’s word. Yesterday, I delivered a message about finding comfort in the midst of affliction. The text is 2 Corinthians 1:1-7, and you can download it here or listen below. Below the audio is an excerpt:
Many of you have been experiencing fear and dread at the possibility of contracting COVID-19, of being hospitalized, perhaps even of dying. Some of you are fearful about elderly family members or other loved ones with compromised immune systems.
But even if you aren’t afraid of the coronavirus for health reasons, many of you are certainly worried for financial reasons. As businesses close, jobs have been disappearing. Many in our church have already lost their jobs, and others have been cut back. People don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from, so they are understandably anxious.
And as if all that weren’t bad enough, the one place that we all go every week to get ourselves sorted out—the church—we can’t even go there because gathering would put too many people’s lives at risk. So the one thing that might offer us comfort—gathering with God’s people—has been taken away as well.
The pressing question that we are all facing this morning as we come to God’s word is this. How are we going to hold up under these tremendous burdens and uncertainties? Are we going to let a flood of fear and anxiety wash over us and carry us away into a really dark place? Or will we find Christ sufficient for us in our distress?
The difference between the former and the latter is the difference between faithfulness and sin. It’s the difference between comfort and affliction. It’s the difference between depression and hope. In other words, the difference between fear and faith is all the difference in the world. And the question before us is how do we lay hold of faith without being carried away by fear?
And the answer to that question is simply this. If you want to find the path of faith and hope and light and goodness and avoid the path of fear and depression and darkness, then you have to find your comfort in Christ. Jesus is offering you comfort this morning. And it is yours for the taking, if you’ll have it.
Our church was scattered by the coronavirus this morning. We did not gather together as usual at the intersection of Southern Parkway and Third Street. No, today we were spread out all over the city of Louisville and beyond. Our college students were literally scattered across North America as many of them were compelled to go back to their hometowns after colleges and universities closed last week. Our church’s missionaries remain scattered all over the world. None of us could be together this morning.
If you know what it means to be the ekklesia of God, your heart ached like mine did. For this is not how it is supposed to be. Gathering together for the Lord’s Day is fundamental to our identity, and we were unable to do that this morning (Hebrews 10:24-25). We had a “virtual” service like so many others, but it really isn’t the same. Nor should it be.
But something really extraordinary happened as we all sat down before our scattered screens for worship. Jim Hamilton read the call to worship from a book of devotion by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, published in 1893.1 Below is the entry for March 15, and the words are nearly incredible: Continue Reading →
Our nation is facing a real challenge right now, and it is a real gut-check for Christians. Will we trust in Christ, suffer faithfully, show compassion, and bear witness? Or will we get swept away by the panic that seems to be unfolding in some places?
I want to be clear about what I mean. I am not winding up to rebuke those who are taking seriously the novel coronavirus and who are being vigilant to do all they can to stop the spread and to encourage others to do the same.
This is not a drill. It’s real. We all need to be vigilant. And we need to take our responsibilities seriously to love our neighbors well by taking practical measures to slow the spread of the disease. So this is not a rebuke of vigilance.
But it is a challenge to any believer tempted to being swept away by panic. And let me explain why this is so important. Continue Reading →
“Zhang Ru Zhen, affectionately known as Mama Xue, was the first novel coronavirus casualty in Sichuan province. Before the 80-year-old took her last breath on January 29, Pastor Peng Qiang of Chengdu’s Blessings Reformed Presbyterian Church was able to share the gospel with her. The following is an excerpt of Pastor Peng Qiang’s message at a special memorial service for Mama Xue and is reproduced from their church’s WeChat account. Her son’s eulogy has also been published on our site.”
It seems to me that Michael Gerson has almost entirely misread the argument that Andrew Walker makes in a recent National Review column. Gerson writes: “Walker is making the following claim: If you think abortion is a matter of life or death, then you must support whoever opposes it most vigorously, even if he or she is an immoral lout.” Walker actually makes no such claim anywhere in his article. Walker is not offering an argument for voting for Trump. He’s offering a defense of religious pro-life voters who plan to vote for Trump.
Walker defends them because Trump-opponents like Gerson are often treating all Trump voters as if they are unreasonable moral retrogrades for their Trump support. If you don’t believe me, here is Gerson in his own words in another recent column: “Loyalty to Trump is making an older generation of evangelical Christians look like crude hypocrites in the eyes of their own children, who are fleeing the tradition in droves.” This undifferentiated condemnation is what Walker is trying to defend against. And let’s be honest, this condemnation is a regular refrain among progressives and the media. Continue Reading →
I’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians at our church for the last couple years, and in my most recent message we came to a little phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13 that has become a stumbling block for some readers. The underlying Greek verb (andrizesthei) is rendered variously as “act like men” (ESV, NASB; cf. CSB, KJV) or “be courageous” (NIV, NRSV, NLT). Some of those who favor “act like men” understand the text as a call to manhood. Others dismiss that interpretation by noting that the command is addressed to both men and women.
For my part, I think either translation is fine. Both of them are actually capturing something true about the original expression. The Greek word in question is built on a root that refers to adult males (aner). That means that there are at least two semantic oppositions here, not one—male as opposed to female and adult as opposed to child. As Thiselton explains, “it does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly ‘feminine’ qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways.”1 In other words, the root idea invokes both masculinity and maturity. Continue Reading →