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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Week 27

The hecklers have won. Here's a pic of my radiant (and pregnant) wife!

Evelyn Update: 27 Weeks!!

How Evelyn's growing:

This week, Evie weighs almost 2 pounds (like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended. She's sleeping and waking at regular intervals, opening and closing her eyes, and perhaps even sucking her fingers. With more brain tissue developing, Evelyn's brain is very active now. While her lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with a lot of medical help — if she were to be born now.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sabbath Thoughts on Worldliness

I’m not sure it would be an overestimation to say that one of the greatest threats against the church of America today is the strangling hold of worldliness. Far too many Christians are in good relations with the world around them. James seems rather pointed when he writes, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4:4). First, notice that the moral command found in Exodus 20:14 is broken, not only in consequence to an extramarital affair, but in a spiritual love affair. Being that we are properly called the Bride of Christ, when we prefer the world and the things of this world over the love of God, we become spiritual adulterers and fornicators who stain the marriage bed in iniquity. If you have ever spoken with an adulterer who tries to justify their sin, the vindication usually sounds like this, “But she was more exciting than my wife,” or “I felt so good when I was with her.” It really is a pathetic display of foolishness to hear an adulterer try and justify why their affections went to someone else other than their spouse. Yet do our minds justify worldliness in the same manner? Do we dare look to God and say “I prefer the things of this world because they make me feel so good inside.”

Secondly, notice that James not only condemns those who are friends of the world, but he condemns those who wish to be friends of the world. The mere desire to be like the world is itself condemnable, and makes one an adulterer. In the words of the Psalmist, how many of us are, “envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3). The unbelieving pagans of this world live for prosperity and riches, for health and comfort—which is why none of these will ever suffice to show someone the worth of the Christian life. How many Christians are defined by these very same things? What interests us more, our homes, cars, bank accounts, gadgets, books, and other meaningless stuff, or the communion we can share with the Triune God? It seems, to me, that the Christian life is defined in antithetical terms, or at least, the Christians who have done the most for this world have been those who strenuously oppose the comforts and materialism of life (whether it is the comfort of houses, riches, health, etc). “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20), or “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in the skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:36-38). Further, the author commends the readers by saying, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property” (Hebrews 10:34).

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is not one who embraces the things that this world does. Have you ever heard an unbeliever look at the home, bank account, car, collection of books of a Christian and declare, “Hallelujah! Christ is a great Saviour!” Again, it seems to me that the Christians who have done the most for this world are those who cast off the earthly comforts of life and live by an unswerving faith in the God who clothes the lilies of the field in great splendor than Solomon. The distinguishing mark of a Christian is not found in the way he possess the things of the world, rather, I think it is to be found in the way he scorns the things of this world and sheds earthly comforts.

Now, it must be commented on that I do not think any of these things: money, cars, homes, etc are inherently evil (they don’t posses souls how can they be?). But I do wonder if Christians are apt to justify these things too eagerly and zealously. Christ commands us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). So quite practically, the question that must be asked is “How does your stuff turn the eyes of the world to God?” How does your stuff glorify God? I think it is on this question that our friendship, either with the world or with God, is to be determined.

James is incredibly practical and very straightforward. “Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Again, I am comfortable with making the broad generalization that Christians in America are too easily pacified and entertained by the things of this world. There lacks a definite distinguishing mark between the world and so many who profess to be Christians, plain and simple, too many Christians look and act exactly like the world. And if we read James with the utmost integrity, I think we will find that he is excluding a great number of professing Christians from being truly converted.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Christian's Joy in Suffering

I was listening to a sermon by Mark Dever today on James 1 and he quoted a line from Robert Browning's poem:

I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way
But there was nothing I could learn
From all she had to say

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And never a word said she
But, oh, all the things I learned
When Sorrow walked with me.