Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Grace and Justice

R.C. Sproul, Jr., shares with us a beautiful, heart-warming adoption story on his "squiblog":
    ... We began the process of adoption a month or two after Denise's final surgery. We attended classes, filled out mountains of paper work, made countless phone calls to various agencies. We mentioned our hopes and plans to our families, congregation and a few close friends, and together we all prayed, and waited.

    A few months ago I received an unexpected phone call from my friend and co-laborer Doug Phillips. He began the conversation by telling me that he and his godly wife had recently, after seven healthy children, lost their first to miscarriage. Tears welled in my eyes as I sought to enter into my brother's suffering. That, ultimately, Doug explained, wasn't the reason for his call. He went on to explain that as he, and Beall and his children mourned the loss of their unborn child, that one son, Justice, approached his daddy with his piggy bank. "Daddy," this young hero said, "I've got some money saved up. Could we go down to the orphanage and get Mommy a new baby?" There was no more welling for my tears. By now they had reached the cascade stage. "You have a fine son in Justice, Doug," I told him. "R.C., out of that conversation, the Phillips family has made a decision. We are going to send you a contribution to help pay for your adoption." The cascade became a flood. ...
Grab a handkerchief and click here to read the entire post.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Problems of Contemporary Evangelicalism Are Nothing New

Sinclair Ferguson compares the problems of medieval Christianity to the problems of contemporary evangelicalism:
  1. Repentance has increasingly been seen as a single act, severed from a lifelong restoration of godliness. ... The "altar call" has replaced the sacrament of penance. Thus repentance has been divorced from genuine regeneration, and sanctification severed from justification.

  2. The Canon for Christian living has increasingly been sought in a "Spirit-inspired" living voice within the church rather than in the Spirit's voice heard in Scripture. What was once little more than a mystical tendency has become a flood. But what has this to do with the medieval church? Just this: the entire medieval church operated on the same principle, even if they expressed it in a different form: the Spirit speaks outside of Scripture; the believer cannot know the detailed guidance of God if he tries to depend on his or her Bible alone. ...

  3. The divine presence was brought to the church by an individual with sacred powers deposited within him and communicated by physical means. Today an uncanny parallel is visible wherever cable TV can be seen. Admittedly it is no longer Jesus who is given by priestly hands; now it is the Spirit who is bestowed by physical means, apparently at will by the new evangelical priest. Special sanctity is no longer confirmed by the beauty of the fruit of the Spirit, but with signs which are predominantly physical. ...

  4. The Worship of God is increasingly presented as a spectator event of visual and sensory power, rather than a verbal event in which we engage in a deep soul dialogue with the Triune God. The mood of contemporary evangelicalism is to focus on the centrality of what "happens" in the spectacle of worship rather than on what is heard in worship. Aesthetics, be they artistic or musical, are given a priority over holiness. More and more is seen, less and less is heard. There is a sensory feast, but a hearing-famine. Professionalism in worship leadership has become a cheap substitute for genuine access to heaven, however faltering. Drama, not preaching, has become the "Didache" of choice. ...

  5. The success of ministry is measured by crowds and cathedrals rather than by the preaching of the cross and the quality of Christians' lives. ... The lust for "bigger" makes us materially and financially vulnerable. But worse, it makes us spiritually vulnerable. For it is hard to say to those on whom we have come to depend materially "When our Lord Jesus Christ said 'Repent!' he meant that the whole of the Christian life is repentance."
This is an abbreviated version, so you will want to read the entire article.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Time to Grieve, a Time to Rejoice

At 36 years of age, I know that I am very blessed to have had all four of my grandparents around most of my life. But we all get older, and we all have to face the realization that life on this earth is only temporary.

I lost my paternal grandfather, L. R. Shelton, Jr., in January of 2003. On Sunday, October 8, my maternal grandfather, George M. Robertson--"Papaw," as we called him--passed away. He was 89 years old.

Some of my fondest memories of Papaw are from my childhood, when our family would travel from Fort Smith, Ark., to my grandparents' home in Picayune, Miss. It's amazing all of the little things I remember from those visits: the fragrance of pine trees in the air, the feel of the sandy soil between my bare toes, the smell of my grandparents' house and Papaw's cologne, the jagged pattern of the floor tiles. I recall the giant stereo console in the living room on which we played countless records and the multi-colored fiber optic lamp that kept us entertained for hours.

Field trips were standard. Whether it was going on walks to pick wild berries, trying to catch something in a nearby fishing hole, visiting a train museum or driving down to the Gulf, we always did things as a family.

But the best part of our visits was at night. Often we would gather together to watch 8mm home movies Papaw and other members of the family had made. As the silent images danced on the screen, we would snack on treats like fried okra and Papaw's world-famous, homemade peach ice cream. Those memories--and many more--are ones I will always cherish.

Papaw was a kind, gentle, Godly man who was always willing to give of himself. I never knew him to be selfish, and I never heard him speak a harsh word. Of course, he helped raise my mother to be the person she is today, and for that I am thankful.

It is always difficult to say goodbye, but as believers in Christ we know that all the joys and fond memories of this life are nothing compared to spending eternity in Heaven. Pain and suffering have no place there, and death will be a thing of the past. Our salvation will be fully realized as we leave behind this fragile existence and put on incorruptible, glorified bodies that will never know the ravages of time.

And therein lies the hope all Christians share. Yes, times like these cause us to reflect on the lives of the ones we have lost, but we rejoice in anticipation of the day when we will all be reunited in Glory in the presence of our Savior and Lord.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pat Robertson: "Prophet" or "Profit"?

Here we go again:
    Robertson: Disasters Point to 2nd Coming

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – This weekend's catastrophic earthquake in South Asia in the wake of recent U.S. hurricanes and December's tsunami is catching the eye of televangelist Pat Robertson, who says we "might be" in the End Times described in the Bible.

    "These things are starting to hit with amazing regularity," Robertson said on CNN's "Late Edition."

    Robertson, a former GOP presidential candidate and host of the "700 Club" daily Christian TV show, noted, "If you read back in the Bible, the letter of the apostle Paul to the church of Thessalonia, he said that in the latter days before the end of the age that the Earth would be caught up in what he called the birth pangs of a new order. And for anybody who knows what it's like to have a wife going into labor, you know how these labor pains begin to hit. I don't have any special word that says this is that, but it could be suspiciously like that."
I think the difference between "prophet" and "profit" has been blurred. This "End Times" lunacy is really getting out of hand.

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