Archive for January, 2010

Moving the Pro-Life Movement January 22, 2010

Each January, Christians in America mark another year of legalized abortion (2010 is #37) with sadness, prayer, and renewed calls for action to protect the lives of the unborn and give our voice to the voiceless.

Jared Wilson, at  the Gospel-Driven Church  blog,  offers a poignant medidation on the sancity of life and suggests several things that Christians need to pursue if the pro-life movement is going to truly come alive, change our culture, and end this holocaust.

Posted by Justin Lonas

The Passing Pleasures of Sin January 18, 2010

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).

If, like me, you’ve grown up in the Church, you’ve probably been read that verse (and chapter) dozens of times. You may have even heard sermons built on this passage (particularly back in youth group days) exhorting you to “flee youthful lusts“ and live a life of high moral character. To that I’d say, “great message; wrong passage.” Sure, there were boundless temptations appealing to all the senses in the royal palace that Moses would’ve done well to shun. However, the context says a lot about the choice Moses made to seek and do the will of God, and nothing about the licentiousness of pagan Egypt.

This reading probably comes from our American tendency to think of righteousness only in terms of “not doing bad things,” rather than in terms of life-long obedience to God’s will that His glory be proclaimed. When we sequester sin to the realm of activities “they” (because “we” would never do that, right?) participate in, we wall off God as some sort of moral barometer instead of the Creator of the universe. The problem with this viewpoint is that morality is not about us. God desires that we be holy and blameless so that He can use us how He sees fit, so that we will be true witnesses of His character to a watching world.

This gives new meaning to the “passing pleasures of sin.” Perhaps they are those things that, in and of themselves, are not only not sinful but useful and good–things that distract us from our purpose of glorifying God by obedience to His will. Moses grew up into a sense of God’s purpose for his life as a deliverer (see Acts 7:25), and he knew that a life of luxury in the palace would keep him from that role.

In that light, everything we enjoy temporarily at the expense of participation in God’s purpose is a fleeting pleasure, and our obsession with comfort becomes a greivous sin. When was the last time you thought of your movies, music, television, or hobbies as “pleasures of sin“? How about your fridge or pantry well-stocked with an incredible variety of food, your manicured yard, or your car? Obviously, anything can be used as a tool for accomplishing God’s call to proclaim His name, but we have quite an ability to justify all manner of luxuries as ends in themselves. The theme of the Scriptures is that we are blessed to bless others, and that’s a teaching I fear we’ve lost sensitivity to. May the Lord convict us (myself chief of all) of thinking that the self-serving accumulation of wealth and pursuit of comfort that distracts from obedience to His call is somehow not a sin.

Posted by Justin Lonas.

When Disaster Strikes January 13, 2010

A friend of mine blogged this morning about the real tragedy of Haiti, which experienced a massive earthquake yesterday evening. She pointed out that when people are tempted to doubt God’s goodness in the face of such horrific natural disasters, we should remember that 1) all such suffering is ultimately a consequence of human sin, and 2) we should be as quick to doubt our own goodness for allowing the poverty which magnifies the disaster (through food shortages, unstable construction,  inadequate  communication of danger, etc.)  to go unchecked. She asked how we can process something like this theologically and practically. The following was my answer to that question:

It’s always tough to process natural disasters–especially when they’re coupled with unnatural disasters like the pillage of Haiti which has been going on since the  Spanish    first landed there in the 1500s and the French turned it into a massive sugar plantation in the 1700s. For me, this particular disaster creates a struggle on a personal, emotional level too–I’ve been to Haiti; I have Haitian friends; I love Haiti.

At the theological level, I am praying that the Hatian church (particularly my friends) can rise to the occasion and be the love of God to their countrymen through this crisis. I am praying that the people of Haiti, as everything crumbles around them, will place their trust in the unshakable God. I am praying that the thousands of Americans (believers and unbelievers) who have for decades given graciously to the people of Haiti from the resources entrusted to them will continue to do so with renewed passion, and begin to invest in the lives of those people  with Christlike care for the whole person  rather than simply pouring money into the black hole of corruption that foreign aid to Haiti has become.

At a practical level, the quake has renewed my commitment to the work the Lord has brought in partnership with Haiti through child sponsorship and our church’s long-term commitment to one small community in Nord-Est Department. We have a natural avenue of ministry there, and though the community was not destroyed by the quake, and we want to help the church there be a help to areas harder hit. I’m sure that we’ll redouble our efforts to bring hope to that community through the preaching of the Gospel, the building of schools and medical centers, providing clean water, training in business & agriculture, and microfinance.

In short, processing theologically cannot be separated from processing practically. God has placed each of us in a sphere of influence for a reason, and we cannot believe one thing and do another–we use what He’s given where He’s placed us for His greatest glory (i.e. – people finding His salvation and the love, mercy, & justice of His character). A disaster should, if anything, strengthen our faith in God by shaking us out of the belief that we control things and redirecting our focus to obedience.

To find out more about how to partner with AMG International (our parent organization)  to provide assistance to their partners in Haiti, click HERE.

Happy New Year January 12, 2010

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to laugh and a time to weep;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor–it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-13).

What It Means to Lead a Church January 4, 2010

The gist of Kevin DeYoung’s post here  would make a tremendous New Year’s resolution for pastors, teachers, and church leaders.

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