This from Matthew Minix reminding us that the persecution of our brothers and sisters in China continues:
Seven priests of the underground Catholic Church were arrested in China's Heibei province on Wednesday, April 27, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reports.
The priests had been attending a spiritual retreat led by Bishop Jian Zhiguo of the Zhending diocese-- who had been under 24-hour surveillance by police for most of the past month. Bishop Jia had reportedly been warned by Chinese officials that he should not schedule any religious activities.
The tight surveillance of Bishop Jia had begun when the death of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) appeared imminent, and continued through the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Chinese government has established a history of crackdowns on the underground Church at times when religious sentiments are high-- such as Easter and Christmas-- as well as the time of major national holidays and Communist Party meetings.
(Note from Tim Bayly: When I was a child, my parents sent me to camp in Canada each summer, so I grew up knowing something about Canada and Canadians. I don't remember any edge in my relations with the other boys, nor even one example of disdain for the United States. It all seemed quite amicable to me--almost as if our nations were twins separated at birth.
Then more recently, friends of mine and I have experienced a new aggressiveness on Canada's part as we crossed their border, and it's clear that we're all eating Canadian Bacon now.
But if I were to put my finger on why I have a different attitude to Canada than I did as a child, the following speech perfectly sums up my growing disgust for our neighbor to the north. It almost seems as if Canada, not being able to win the money or power battle, is determined to win by outdoing us in the killing of God and Truth and preening herself over being the most progressive light in the Americas.
She seems to be taking her marching orders straight from hell as she passes law after law and files charge after charge rejecting and persecuting those who accept the teaching of Scripture concerning the value of life, the meaning and purpose of sex, the nature of truth, and so on.
Watch Canada if you want to know the world your children will inhabit and the persecution they will face for confessing Jesus Christ.)
Religious Freedom in Canada
by Dr. Chris Kempling
(Kempling received a standing ovation for this address delivered on March 4, 2005 in New York City at a United Nations Commission on Human Rights Delegate Briefing.)
Canada is a country which prides itself on religious freedom and religious tolerance. And in many respects that is true. Citizens are free to practice their faiths according to their traditions, generally without interference from the government. And even when someone's religious beliefs conflicts with a long established Canadian tradition, great tolerance can be shown, as was the case with the first Sikh Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer permitted to wear a turban instead of the regulation hat. That constable started his career in my home town of Quesnel, and he was accepted and appreciated by the community.
Unfortunately, there are two primary areas of conflict between religious freedoms and government policy in Canada: abortion and homosexuality. A group of eight Christians, members of a group called Operation Rescue protesting abortion were arrested and sentenced to jail terms for peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic. I met one of the men, Donald Spratt, who was incarcerated in British Columbia's maximum security Oakalla prison for his crime -- he was holding a sign outside an abortion clinic. Currently, he is awaiting trial in the BC Court of Appeal for violating the "bubble zone" of an abortion clinic. Once again, he was simply holding a sign with a Bible verse on it -- Thou shalt not kill.
A man by the name of Bill Whatcott, an evangelical Christian who is a licensed practical nurse, was fined $15,000...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 8, 2005 - 11:06am
Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen. (Job 37:11-13).
American evangelicals deny the plain teaching of Scripture that God is active in our midst, disciplining His sons and sending those who hate Him a foretaste of their coming eternal torment. The denial is not in the form of a denunciation of these disciplinary and retributive acts in the past as they are recorded in Scripture and Church history, but rather a denunciation of anyone who has the faith to believe that such things are happening among us today and who blows the trumpet with a certain note of warning.
Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, "O wicked man, you will surely die," and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. (Ezekiel 33:7-9).
As we face New Orleans and 9/11 and AIDS, exactly why is it that we have the freedom to maintain a strict silence concerning God's agency and will in these great disasters when all previous believers used similar disasters to issue specific calls to repentance? Here is Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaking of World War I & World War II, calling them God's specific judgment against specific sin:
So we have had the self-same thing in the Church and in the world. False worship, false religion, false gods, and an appalling state of evil, sin and vice. And then what happens? Well, you remember what happened to the Israelites? God punished them, and He always punishes sin. I repeat again what I have often said, that I regard the two World Wars which we have experienced in this century as God's punishment of the apostasy of the last century. I see no other adequate explanation. God punished the Israelites in a terrible manner, Moses came down from the Mount and saw the appalling condition of the people and he sent out his great challenge. He stood in the gate of the camp and said, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me" (Exodus 32:26).
-from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book, Revival, p. 151.
Cultivated agnosticism concerning the purposes of God in human suffering is nothing new. It's always been a temptation for men called to speak for God to deny that God has anything specific to say other than "Peace! Peace!" But such unfaithfulness to our calling carries a terrible price: we will face God ourselves with blood on our hands...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 8, 2005 - 11:29am
In his work, Reflections on John Calvin and the Church Struggle in Geneva, David Wright records John Calvin's
...refusal to read the world, humanity and the church except in terms of God's purposes. His was an irreducibly theological mind, and his world was one in which God was forever doing all manner of things. He thus presents a fundamentally important corrective to much of the broad mainstream of the old denominations in the West, and perhaps also to segments of established evangelicalism, for which God does very little in the world today.
The reigning theological ethos is pervasively Deist. God does nothing through preaching, he does not answer prayer, he never acts in judgment...
We conduct our church assemblies and committees with a perfunctory initial prayer and perhaps a closing benediction but these tell one very little about the expectations and the basic instinctive convictions of what happens in between. God converts no one, and we would not be so simple as to believe that he heals anyone.
God is not to be feared, we need not worry about impugning his honour, nor whether our worship conforms to his will and pleases him. He has nothing to do with any of the adversities of life. He does not chastise, rebuke, humble, afflict, raise up--or cast down. When Calvin comments on his crippling gout, 'God has bound my feet fast with fetters,' we smile indulgently...
A church whose preachers and teachers fail to help Christian people to interpret their life and their world theologically--which means also of course Christologically and pneumatologically--is aiding and abetting radical secularisation."
-from Reflections on John Calvin and the Church Struggle in Geneva, by David Wright, Professor of Patristic and Reformed Christianity, University of Edinburgh, New College.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 8, 2005 - 9:40pm
(Jesus said) "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:4,5)
Concerning the account of the disciples' response to the collapse of the Tower of Siloam and Jesus' rebuke of them, at World's sub-blog, Zeitgeist, Dr. Gene Edward Veith writes, "(Here) our Lord Jesus Christ clearly teaches how we are to regard natural and unnatural disasters...."
But if this is the classic location to use to interpret calamities and suffering, what do we make of all the other texts of Scripture where God tells us that people suffered and died because they were notorious (worse than others) sinners? For instance, what are we to make of Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah, and Ananias and Saphira? What of Nabal and Jezebel? And what of Herod who so angered God by his pride that Scripture tells us, "...immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:23)?
No, the words of Jesus following the collapse of the Tower of Siloam are no more of a universal rule for the interpretation of calamities and suffering than...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 5, 2006 - 9:37am
Just now I googled the name of Bill Kudzia who frequently posts comments on this blog, and found his own blog named KOOZNEWS. Bill's top post today concerns the tragic death of the West Virginia miners and it's excellent. Click through and read it.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2006 - 7:05am
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14)
Saturday, I wrote about my gratitude for the unity and peace of our own congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd. Since then, I've been thinking about how our unity came to be and I realize how central the battles a number of us went through in another prior congregation were for the development of this unity. In our prior congregation, the central issue was the refusal of a small group of influential leaders to allow any exercise of correction or rebuke by the congregation's elders. They considered anathema even the most private forms of church discipline.
It was a painful ordeal, but the Holy Spirit used it to produce the unity and peace of Church of the Good Shepherd we presently enjoy--including, now, ten years of loving and peaceful congregational meetings.
This comes to mind as I read of attacks other pastors are suffering, particularly our dear brother, Pastor Doug Wilson. David and I are not surprised Doug is under attack. He's a strong leader with biblical convictions, and he's at his greatest precision and boldness in preaching those convictions where the Evil One has focused his attack and there's a breach in the wall. But instead of other church officers giving thanks to God for raising up such a warrior, Pastor Wilson is the object of much envy and resentment. Like all of us, Pastor Wilson is a sinner in both his conduct and doctrine and we are confident he appreciates the licks he takes for his sin.
But taking his licks from fellow presbyters, his children, or his wife is a far cry from having any Tom, Dick, or Harry set himself up as a judge over every word of his pastoral conversations and session meetings extending years into the past and posting those judgments on this gabfest and gossip-pool known as the internet. Need I point out that Doug Wilson is not the only one suffering such persecution?
In both the church and secular world, leaders have lost the manly traits and pander to their constituency. Church officers are given to mollycoddling, equivocation, and self-doubt. One of my favorite cartoons shows a consultant meeting with a pastor in his office. The wall holds a graph of the congregation's attendance trends and they're down, down, down. Pointing to the graph the consultant says, "I'm no expert in these things, but I think it might help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'But then again what do I know, anyhow?'"
Pastor Wilson preaches, teaches, and leads as if he has received the good deposit and intends, come hell or high water, to pass it on to reliable men...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 6, 2007 - 8:50pm
Here's a warm encouragment for those dear souls struggling with sickness, persecution, doubt, or despair:
Christ (had to endure) a very great trial in the time of His agony; so God is wont to exercise His people with great trials. Christ met with great opposition in that work that He had to do; so believers are likely to meet with great opposition in running the race that is set before them. Christ, as man, had a feeble nature that was in itself very insufficient to sustain such a conflict, or to support such a load as was coming upon Him. So the saints have the same weak human nature, and beside that, great sinful infirmities that Christ (didn't have) which (puts) them under great disadvantages, and greatly enhance(s) the difficulty of their work. Those great tribulations and difficulties that were before Christ, were the way in which He was to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; so His followers must expect, "through much tribulation to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." The cross was to Christ the way to the crown of glory, and so it is to His disciples.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 18, 2007 - 9:35am
Note: Surrounding disasters such as Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and 9/11, there has been a vigorous debate over God's role in each tragedy; and more particularly, whether such tragedies should ever be seen as God's warning against sin? During this debate, Tony Campolo and others have been quick to deny that there was any particular lesson to be learned, other than the call to show compassion to those in need. In fact, Campolo's writing on the subject gave reason to wonder whether he'd not moved from theism to deism, and whether he no longer believed in an immanent or sovereign God?
Texts such as John 9:1-3 and Luke 13:1-5 have figured prominently in the debate, but the conclusions drawn from these texts have often done violence to their plain meaning. Here's a solid piece by Vern Poythress, a prof at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and fellow PCA elder, addressing these matters in a thoroughly biblical manner. I commend the essay to our good readers.
Incidentally, Christ the Word and Church of the Good Shepherd have both taken part in seeking the permission of Vern and John Frame to create a web site containing everything they've ever written. Since the site's creation, many works have been added and I am pleased to recommend this valuable resource to you. If you find this site valuable, please send an encouraging note to Rev. Andrew Dionne, the site's webmaster and constant gardener.
And of course, also encourage Vern and John. These men are rare treasures within the reformed church, and they take enough hits to need encouragment. For a sample of work John has done that I've found very helpful in building Church of the Good Shepherd, read this.
Do Modern People Have Room for the
Wrath of God?
by Vern Sheridan Poythress
Jan. 17, 2007
How do we think about disasters? On 9/11,
disaster struck in the form of plane hijackings, loss of lives, the
collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, and the damage to the Pentagon. A few years later, a tsunami struck in southern Asia. Hurricane
Katrina struck New Orleans. Some Christians thought that one
or more of these disasters were judgments from God. Let me
call them the doom-sayers. Other
Christians quickly rose and criticized the thought. Let me
call them the comforters. This
disagreement among Christians raises the question as to how we
will interpret the
next disaster that strikes.
I am writing as one who believes the Bible. The
Bible does indicate that God comprehensively controls the events in the
world, including disasters (Lam. 3:37-38; Eph. 1:11; Amos 3:6; Isa. 45:7).
That is not the question I wish to discuss. Rather,
I want to ask how we are supposed to interpret
The comforters, that is the Christians who criticize the idea of judgment, have pointed to several passages...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2007 - 12:30pm
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956) p. 258.
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. After our discussion, here are several clarifications and corrections that I believe need to be made. I have made them here, at the top of the post, because it would be difficult to weave them into the post itself in a way that would call attention to them sufficiently as corrections.
First, it is unclear that the paragraph beginning, "The whole things is a tempest in a teacup" is not my judgment, but rather a hypothetical construct of what the average member of the PCA might have thought to himself.
Second, I refer to "the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." Bryan told me that this is not his position and that he speaks against this position as an adequate representation of the Biblical perspective. This is an encouragement to me.
Third, Bryan rehearsed his actions in response to the chapel time in which Diane Langberg spoke, and clearly my own summary of those actions is not accurate. Here is an accurate record of what happened:
When General Assembly convened that summer and the time on the agenda arrived when President Chapell was asked to give an answer for what had happened on his watch, President Chapell told the assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Since I implied Covenant Seminary was not upholding the PCA position in its response to Diane Langberg's chapel time, I regret this inaccuracy and now believe Covenant's response was good.
Some wonder how I could accuse prominent teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church in America and the institutions they lead of sympathizing with the egalitarian, feminist cause? Don't I know the PCA's reason to exist is tied at the heart to opposing these ideologies? When a group of mainline PC(USA) churches left their own denomination for a more conservative one back in 1983, wasn't it necessary for them to found the new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, precisely because the PCA wasn't willing to compromise on women in office? And isn't the same reason behind our present failure to bring into the PCA many churches currently departing the PC(USA) train wreck: that these churches and their pastors are determined to enter a denomination that allows their women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons?
So, as a denomination we've paid our dues. We've seen the cost of our convictions, and haven't wavered. What on earth am I thinking, then, to accuse our seminary and its president of being allies of the egalitarian, feminist ideology?
It's a fair question, although I have no confidence I'll be able to answer it to the satisfaction of more than a few because the heart of the answer is tied up, not with specific arguments about Scripture's teaching about sexuality, but rather its teaching concerning the nature of pastoral ministry.
Several years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary had a woman preach in chapel. When it was reported within our denomination, it scandalized a number of presbyters across the country...
(by Tim) Now the count stands at two brothers in Christ martyred at the hands of the Taliban: first, the group's leader, Presbyterian Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu; and then today, Shim Sung-min.
In the midst of the continued captivity and deaths of these believers at the hands of heartless and cruel followers of that great heresy, Islam, how I rejoice at the faithful witness these brothers and sisters in Christ are giving to our Lord Jesus Christ!
We often write about fruitfulness, here; but principally the fruitfulness of marriage. Let's remember that our Lord commanded His Bride, the Church, to be fruitful, also, and that nothing is used by Him more to that end than martyrdom. Tertullian first made the observation during the Church's earliest centuries, and it's equally true today, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
by David and Tim Bayly on November 8, 2007 - 7:34am
(Note from Tim: David and I asked our dear sister, Kamilla, if she would be willing to write a post on the prayer campaign many believers have joined that is focused on the upcoming Olympics in China. We're grateful Kamilla agreed to our request.)
I'll be boycotting all coverage of the Olympic games this coming summer. Truthfully, I'm a bit bored with the Olympics in general and the summer games in particular. But I have a special reason for not soaking in all that advertising and pretense of the citizen-athlete the games used to be about. This year, Beijing, China will be hosting the games. The opening and closing ceremonies will be orchestrated by none other than Stephen Spielberg. It's difficult to fathom the man who brought us Schindler's list participating in Beijing's propaganda efforts.
These games are being compared to the Berlin games of 1936. And if we're not old enough to remember that or know about it, a moment's thought will bring to mind why the comparison might be apt. The Chinese regime intends to use the games as a sort of global "coming out" party, just as Hitler tried to use the 1936 Berlin games...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2008 - 7:50pm
(Tim) Tonight, family devotions fell in 1Peter 4 and again we read that wonderful exhortation of verse twelve that is destined to become ever more precious to American believers in the coming years:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you...
Sharing the sufferings of Christ is a great privilege which should cause us to rejoice. But it rarely does. Instead, our normal response is to express shock and horror that things have come to this and to ask, "Whatever happened to our Christian nation?"
It seems clear that, rather than being surprised at persecution, we're to be surprised when it's absent. This is why our Lord warned us, "Beware when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26). Having a stellar reputation in this evil day is a good indication that we have not been faithful to the Lord and His Word...
(Tim) My friend, Robert Woodyard, who serves First Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, Washington, passed along these two links with the comment, "If ever there were an international prayer list, this might be it." This first link has information on where the Church is being persecuted. This second ranks countries according to how closed they are to Gospel proclamation. The site is very well put together. Check it out.
(Tim) First, if you haven't read the sermon David preached yesterday posted just below (A Sermon for the President--and for the People of God), I commend it to you. We need sermons like this to be preached across our country until those called by God as civil magistrates lead us to return to the fear of God and mercy to the poor, helpless, sojourners in our midst, and unborn. Note particularly David's comment about our self-made bonds.
Second, we're still getting the occasional Christmas/Easter letter and I thought we'd all benefit from this statement from my dear Roman Catholic friends from Denver, John and Molly Archibold:
We have been extraordinarily blessed through joys and sorrows. (Molly)
(Tim) Friends, the last two days have brought a blow to Church of the Good Shepherd and, despite the ephemeral nature of this forum, personally, I'd like to ask your prayers.
From Baylyblog comments, some of you will recognize the name, Eric Rasmusen. Monday evening, Eric and his wife, Helen, lost their second daugther, Elizabeth, as well as Eric's parents, in an automobile collision. Here's the statement Eric released...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 25, 2009 - 6:17am
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) For Baylyblog readers, this from Touchstone's Tony Esolen is well worth the five minutes it will take. Praise God for men and women who love God's Word and Truth, leading us back to the innocence and joy of the Garden!
by David and Tim Bayly on January 14, 2010 - 5:21am
(Tim, w/thanks to David D.) Let us pray for Haiti, and give. Here's a prayer circulated within our presbytery. I don't know its origin.
We are able to see a small glimpse of the devastation and human tragedy that has been visited upon this desperately poor nation of Haiti. The anguish on the faces of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors speaks volumes. O Lord, you alone know how many lie dead in the streets and under the rubble...
(Jesus said) "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
(Tim, w/thanks to Todd W.) The NYTimes' David Brooks sets out to explain how a nation of five million won as many gold medals as our nation of three-hundred million at the Winter Olympics this year. So he tells a brief version of the story of Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian instrument maker who tried to get back into Norway to help the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War.
The account reminds me of the Apostle Paul. What courage and tenacity in the face of the most terrible danger and suffering these hardened men demonstrated!
Which prompts me to ask when it was, precisely, that the sign of godliness in a pastor changed...
(Tim: this is second in a series, with the first, here) It's in vogue for preachers to cop a posture of humility, today, but it’s almost always a counterfeit humility. While claiming to be speaking for God, they deny the
very authority of God and His Word that forms the only foundation they can
stand on when they say, “Thus says the Lord.”
Jonathan Edwards, the best-known preacher of the Great Awakening in Colonial
America, points to the difference between true and false
A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause
of his Lord and Master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is
inflexible, because God and conscience require it. But in things of lesser
moment, and which do not involve his principles as a follower of Christ, and in
things that only concern his own private interests, he is apt to yield to
There are various imitations of (humility) that fall short of
the reality. Some put on an affected humility. Others have a natural
low-spiritedness, and are wanting in manliness of character. …In others, there
is a counterfeit kind of humility, wrought by the delusions of Satan: and all
of these may be mistaken for true humility. 
They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the
Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His
teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the
scribes. -Mark 1:21, 22
(Tim: this is third in an ongoing series, with the first here and the second here) Whether in classroom discussions, the dorm late at night, our accountant’s office, or coffee with a neighbor,
the believer is hard pressed on all sides to give up truth. The radical relativism that
permeates our world is absolutely antithetical to Scripture. Those seeking to preach Scripture faithfully will immediately
face the world's dogmatic declaration that there is no truth--only stories, perspectives, and narratives; only my truth and your truth.
The intensity of the opposition we face is directly related to our faithfulness in preaching God’s Word with a
form of delivery and content that is contextualized to the end that it appears radically
authoritative to those acclimated to an effeminate relativism. Or, to put it another way, in our world one way to judge whether of not a preacher is a faithful servant of God is whether he is accused of arrogance. A faithful man will employ a method and content that bears witness to his faith that he is not communicating the words of men, but of God. With Calvin, he will declare that preaching is the Word of God. And the world has no way of understanding such declarations as anything but an arrogance that's sick and pathetic.
My wife and I were out for dinner one night. As we prepared to leave, we struck up a conversation with another couple at an
adjoining table. In their mid-seventies, both were
strikingly tall and dignified. During the preliminary small talk, we learned
they had been married fifteen years, were from the Pacific Northwest, had
several children from previous marriages, and he'd spent fifty years
working as a computer programmer.
Our deeper conversation started with the woman exclaiming over
the beauty of the ocean. She had learned I was a pastor and, trying to relate
to us on a spiritual level, she told us how the sea gave her permission to
commune with God as “she” rather than “he...”
(Tim, w/thanks to Yoseph) Psychotropic drugs have a place, I'm sure, but this short article (very unfortunately, where Arianna and her buddies huff and puff against God) demonstrates there are druggies on both sides of the legality fence. Whether the addict is getting his drugs from dealers, pain clinics, or psychiatrists, the cost to society and the drug-addled zombies and their families is terrible. Of course, like most sins of our culture, this one too is an epidemic among confessing Christians.
One in every forty-five adults of working age is getting money from taxpayers for a mental illness disability. And the number of children receiving federal payments for mental illness jumped from 16,200 in 1987 to 561,569 in 2007.
But maybe this explosion of legal drug use allows men to function as more productive members of society?
(Tim) Yesterday, a friend sent me a satirical piece his son and
several friends had written about a bunch of new city church plants with
names like Elevation Church, Dust, The Line, Infusion Church, and
Austin City Life (see Howard Davis' comment, below). He commented, "What is really amazing is their unique
web sites all look alike (and) I bet all their unique worship services
are the same. And... they're all about being in the 'city.'"
reading many city
church web sites, it's clear such churches normally aren't missional if missional means faithfulness to Jesus' Great Commission commands. Most indicate no practice of rebuke, preaching God's Law, or calls to repentance. Instead, they prattle on about being "for the city" and they're positively chipper.
It's all about seeking common ground with
unbelievers. And if they mention God's perfections, it's only those
perfections that would be likely to make unbelievers feel good about
themselves and think God might not be so high and mighty and scary
after all. Christian faith and the Church are presenting as uniting believers
and unbelievers in the same brotherhood and sisterhood of man in and for the city. Convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment is out and assuring the world of our goodwill toward them in God's Name is in.
Reading Augustine's City of God
earlier today, I came across this excerpt. Augustine knew something about preaching the Gospel in the city and contextualizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ to urbane men and women world-weary in a decadent
"Keller would seem to want to salvage some dignity for the man in hell,
saying that he has chosen from his first breath to his last that this
was where he wanted to be; and God, with a fatherly sigh, saying, 'OK,
if that’s really the way you want it, I can live with that.'"
This guest post is contributed by David DeBoor Canfield. David is a graduate of Covenant College, longtime elder in the PCA, teacher at ClearNote Pastors College, and elder of Church of the Good Shepherd.
Tim Keller’s article, "The Importance of Hell," seems to have a good motivation. It is a theodicy (defense of God), and theodicies have their place: Moses appealed to God on such a basis when he mediated for his people in Exodus 32. But theodicy works only if it is based on sound biblical principles. Despite its frequent appeal to Scripture, Keller's article fails in this regard, being such a conflation of truth and error that it almost requires a theologian to sort out the one from the other. He seems utterly incapable of realizing that the very Scriptures he cites often propel one logically to a conclusion diametrically opposed to the one he reaches.
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) A bunch of self-affirming feminists who claim to be Christians met in Orlando, Florida recently, and issued a letter accompanying a set of demands. These women are convinced that God and the plain commands contained in His Word have produced wife abuse. As they see it, the faithful proclamation of God's Order of Creation--Adam first, then Eve--is responsible for many of the bad things that ever happened to women.
Of course, they'd deny the above accurately reflects their letter and demands, but read it for yourself and see their hatred for the Word of God's commands. This is not to say terrible grievances against women don't inundate us, today. Regularly in my work, I cry for the suffering of the weaker sex at the hands of men.
There's no question husband's have murdered their wives. But think about it: there's also no question mothers have murdered their sons and daughters. And just as the command that children submit to their mothers isn't to be thrown out because it subjugates children to abusive and murderous mothers, so the command that wives submit to their husbands is not to be thrown out because it subjugates wives to abusive and murderous husbands.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 8, 2010 - 8:55am
(Tim) David Canfield forwarded this news piece about the Vatican working to stem the tide of Christian refugees flowing from the Middle East, adding this comment: "It's interesting that the US sought to re-introduce political freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, but did virtually nothing to secure religious freedom in those places. Considering that the US was first settled primarily by men and women seeking religious freedom, it would seem that we are abandoning our very roots by trying to promote the one without the other."
by David and Tim Bayly on February 28, 2011 - 10:32am
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalms 90:12)
(Tim: from Dad's "Out of My Mind" column in June of 1964) Last week a church editor told several of us, "I had a colostomy a few years ago—the growth was malignant. Later I met an old warhorse who told me, 'Good. Thank God for it. You don’t begin to live until you know you’re going to die.'"
Dying men aren’t afraid of their reputations. And they throw everything into the battle. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
(Andrew Henry) The conflict over Joseph Maraachli throws into stark relief our modern age's attack on the authority of fathers and mothers.
The circumstances are simple and painful. Several years ago, Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader lost their daughter, Zina, to a degenerative neurological condition. Her respiratory function deteriorated so severely that she was placed on a ventilator. Rather than allowing her to die in the hospital, her parents decided to take her home. A simple tracheotomy allowed her to breathe without the aid of a ventilator and she lived for six more months at home with her family before passing away.
Fast forward several years to the birth of Joseph. He was considered to be at high risk for the same genetic condition and was closely monitored as he grew. At four months old, he began having seizures and his parents worst fears were confirmed...
Every time I do an Institutes study with college students at Christ the Word one of our favorite passages is the section titled "The Faith of Abraham" in which Calvin recounts the trials and sufferings by which God taught Abraham faith and weaned him from the world.
The section ends with God's command that Abraham sacrifice his son on Mt. Moriah:
But for a son to be slaughtered by his own father’s hand surpasses every sort of calamity. In short, throughout life he was so tossed and troubled that if anyone wished to paint a picture of a calamitous life, he could find no model more appropriate than Abraham’s! (Vol. 2, Ch. 10, Sec.11)
To be the source of your own child's death is a terrible form of suffering indeed. I was reminded of this section from the Institutes when I read recently of a Christian couple who took surgical steps to prevent further pregnancies after their number two child died of a rare genetic condition.
Despite our sympathy for parents who lose a baby, and despite a genetically-linked death appearing to arrive by the parents' own hands, we must ask whether such a response is consistent with faith in God.
My thinking on this matter is influenced both by Scripture and by personal experience. Tim's and my mother and father continued having children despite the death of our older siblings from genetic diseases. I suffer today from the same genetic disease (hemophilia) my oldest brother died of, and Tim and I had two additional brothers die as the result of another genetic disease (cystic fibrosis).
Sure I am, if it were well understood how much of the pastoral authority and work consisteth in church guidance, it would be also discerned, that to be against discipline, is near to being against the ministry; and to be against the ministry is near to being absolutely against the Church; and to be against the Church, is near to being absolutely against Christ. Blame not the harshness of the inference, till you can avoid it, and free yourselves from the charge of it before the Lord. - Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, (Banner of Truth, Carlisle PA: 1974) p. 111.
When a man rejects the exhortations and admonitions of his elders over a period of years, the time will come when he will turn his back on Christ's Church. If he refuses to repent and continues to give himself to sin, his sin will bear fruit and he will be separated from the Body of Christ. He may find another church that will allow him to hide in his sin; that church may marry and baptize and bury him and his family as churches have done across the centuries; but his repudiation of the discipline of Christ's Bride is his repudiation of Jesus Christ. The binding of earth and Heaven is no game of Angry Birds or Where's Waldo...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 21, 2011 - 9:03am
A Song of Ascents, of David. O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever. - Psalms 131
Last night in an elders meeting with a couple suffering a troubled marriage, we were reminding the couple that God's goodness calls us out of our romantic idolatry of our husband (or wife) by shoving our nose in the truth of his sin. And ours...
Seeing our husband's sin exposes our own sin, also, as the Holy Spirit leads us away from worshipping man to love and adore God Alone.
The discipline is difficult. And if we are tempted to reject it and continue to hold our idolatry precious, it is the love of our Heavenly Father to intensify it until we unstiffen our necks. In that context we told of the warning Thomas Watson gives in The Ten Commandments that God sometimes disiplines a father's idolatry of his child by taking that child's life. This is God's love.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 6, 2011 - 8:53am
He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has taken the first step towards doing for the Cult of Mao what Kruschev did for the Cult of Stalin: he's publicly spoken of the terrible suffering of his own family at the hands of the Red Guards during Mao's Cultural Revolution. Melinda Liu reports:
The Cultural Revolution remains a neuralgic political topic because it reflects poorly on Mao, who presided over that decade but is revered by many Chinese as their nation’s “Great Helmsman.” During that decade, youthful Red Guard radicals rampaged through the country, sowing violence and terror.... Even today, the government wiggles around Mao’s responsibility for the Cultural Revolution with an ambiguous formula that declares his achievements to have been “70 percent good, 30 percent bad.”
It's about time one of China's premiers officially acknowledges Mao's riot of blood. Chinese ignorance or silence concerning the over fifty million souls who were slaughtered by Chairman Mao is complicity in that slaughter and the perfect seedbed for more slaughter to come.
Christians who know and love Chinese must speak with our Chinese friends about Mao's slaughter as often as we speak with our American friends of the slaughter of the unborn. Jews aren't bashful...
(TB: Chuck Colson gave himself to many works lots of us praise God for. Beyond his prison work and efforts to reform sentencing laws, there's his writing. One year Mary Lee and I gave one of his books to the other staff members of our congregation as a Christmas gift. Also I've recommended or given away his book Born Again any number of times. It's that rare bio that bears some resemblance to Augustine's Confessions. What a wonderful testimony of God's grace to recommend to unbelievers. Here's another piece of his writing that's meant a lot to me. I've used it in Easter sermons and commend it to you.)
“Watergate” and the Resurrection of Christ” by Chuck Colson
One of those involved in “Watergate”
After I became a Christian, my lawyer’s mind demanded evidence regarding the Bible. Was it legend, or could it really be taken as God’s revelation?
I read some excellent books. But ultimately it was my experience in Watergate, strange as that will sound, that convinced me the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant revelation of God. Let me explain...
But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony" (Luke 16:25).
Lately I've been thinking about addictions, whether they be fixations on fantasy or money or knowledge or alcohol or prescribed drugs or illegal drugs or sex. Solomon gave himself to these tasty pleasures: "All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure... (Eccl. 2:10). The Temple he built had it's songs and sacrifices but Solomon's palace was rockin'. He concludes that there is no mountaintop-experience, no lasting high: "All a man's labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied" (Eccl. 6:7). In the end, all that this fallen world offers—all of it's vacations and tastes and pleasures and buzzes and escapes—are merely pleasure for a moment. Everything under the sun is only vapor and a striving after wind (Eccl. 1:14).
Yet, that vaporous moment is goooood, no? Let's string together moment after moment, and we'll get through this alright...
A dear friend, Juergen Von Hagen, preached on Psalm 85 recently, and here's a part of his sermon translated into English. Juergen is a member and elder of the Free Evangelical Church of Bonn, Germany.
(For the choir director: a Psalm of the sons of Korah.) O LORD, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin. Selah. You withdrew all Your fury; You turned away from Your burning anger. Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation.
I will hear what God the LORD will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, And our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him And will make His footsteps into a way.
The psalmist has understood and acknowledged that the suffering and chaos of his life are the result of God’s wrath...