Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Survivor, Tribalism, and the Problem of Being Whitey

I must confess that I am totally weirded out now that the reality series Survivor, is going to divide up along racial lines this season. (HT to The Good Brownie) I've never been a big fan of the show, and I'm not much of a TV watcher, but I may have to tune in and watch this show just to expose myself to the moral dilemma of being white.

I must admit up front that I am a white guy. Mostly. My paternal grandfather's name was Nokomis, and his father's name was Powhatan. Yes, I am famously descended from the tribe of Pocahantas fame on my father's side. My grandpaw was an Injun, and so was my great-grandmother on my mom's side. She was a Cherokee, and was apparently kidnapped from her tribe by my great-grandpaw, as the story goes. Regardless, my name was going to be Powhatan John until my mom threw a fit and named me John Bradley. I got the shaft on that one.

Regardless of this storied background I always check 'white' on all my applications. Though I almost inherited the name, I did, in fact inherit pasty white skin and blue eyes. That's not very Indian-like, and so I must concede that I am more "John Bradley" than "Powhatan". But alas, I digress.

Since the race that I identify with is "white," and because I grew up in Alabama, I have inherited some sort of uneasy feeling about my "race." That is, we did some fairly awful things to blacks and indians and others in the past, and now we must, as a race, do contrition for it by constantly apologizing and by giving the country to Mexico.

So now, on TV no less, I am faced with a dilemma. Should I pull for the "white tribe" solely based on my ethnic identity with them? Is it wrong for me to root for whitey? If I do, does this mean that I have some latent hatred for other races? If the white tribe comes to dominate the other tribes, will CBS raise the standards for the white people to win?

For example, if a white guy wants to go to Medical School, he has to practically ace the MCAT to get in. A black female, on the other hand, can probably make up to 8 points lower and still have a fine shot at getting accepted. If we treated professional running backs this way, pokey white guys would be carrying the ball in Tampa Bay and Atlanta while Tiki Barber would have to run with his shoelaces tied together. Of course, most running backs in the NFL could still spot white guys a full second in the 40 and still comfortably keep their jobs. Or they could spot them a foot in the vertical and still start in the NBA.

So to make things fair, I suppose in the maggot eating contest, or whatever disgusting critter they serve in competition, the white tribe should have to eat a pound and a half to every other tribe's pound.

In football, I can cheer for my alma mater without worry. I pull for them by virtue of sheer identification and the fact that I dropped upwards of $20,000 there in the course of four years. It doesn't matter if they are a team full of thugs. They're my team, and I want them to pound the other guys because they wear my colors and sing my fight songs and live on my old campus. I can't do that with race, can I?

In the end, I am glad that I have written this post; it has helped me to work through my dilemma about who to cheer for in the upcoming series. The only choice that I feel that I have is to legally change my name to Powhatan John. I'm going to get my tribal card, start checking "Native American" on my applications, and complain all season that Native Americans are not represented on the show.

*This post is supposed to be funny. If it isn't funny to you, then you are probably white. If you aren't white, and this isn't funny, then I apologize and feel appropriately guilty for my insensitivity.*

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Fate of Joe Pagan

As our Church journeys through the book of Acts, I had the distinct privilege of preaching from Acts 4:1-12 this Sunday. I spent a good deal of time developing verse 12, which says this:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

This verse, coupled with Romans 10:14-15, is a pretty air-tight case that unless someone hears and believes the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are doomed to spend eternity seperated from God in hell. There is certainly more evidence for such a position than this, but it's a good starting place.

The reason that I spent such a great deal of time emphasizing the exclusivity of gospel is twofold. First, it demonstrates the glory of Christ. Secondly, it unveils the absolute wickedness and depravity of man. I find this teaching especially helpful to illustrate the latter.

Typically, when I preach this point, I tell the listeners about "Joe Pagan." Joe Pagan is a guy who lives in India who has never heard the gospel. Despite our efforts, he has managed to be gospel ignorant for his entire life. I then inform the listeners that when Joe Pagan dies, he spends his eternity in hell.

Most of the time, this statement is met with a sense of indignation in the hearers, if not outright horror. I have found that Christians strenously object to this verdict. Typically, the objection centers on the "unfairness" of such a verdict. That is, it is unfair to Joe Pagan because he never had a "chance" to hear and believe the gospel.

This is an excellent objection and a grand opportunity for teaching. The objection reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of human sinfulness and God's grace. The objection assumes that because God saves some, He owes everyone an opportunity for salvation. The problem with this is that if God owes someone something, then it is not, by definition, grace! You cannot have the gospel be a gracious offer while simultaneously being an offer that He is indebted to give. God owes no one any "chance" of salvation.

It demonstrates a lack of knowledge about human sinfulness in that it simply ignores the Scriptural teaching about how bad we really are. I believe that Romans 3:10-18 by itself underscores this truth. I quote it here for our humility:

There is no one righteous, not even one: there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are sweift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

What this means is that Joe Pagan is evil. He hates God, and he lives unrighteously. Indeed, Paul spends the better part of Romans 1-3 binding the entire world under the condemnation of sin. All men suppress the knowledge of God, refuse the light of God, and hate God with all of their might unless God does a miraculous intervention.

So, if Joe Pagan goes to hell without hearing the gospel, it is because he deserves to there. Period. Just like you did. And it is not luck that seperates you from Joe Pagan; it is grace. For some mysterious reason, God's pleasure was moved to share with you the life-giving truth about the forgiveness of sins through His only-begotten Son. Woe be to us if we neglect so great a salvation that some ears never hear!

The thing that I want my Church to think about through this teaching is the utter depravity and sinfulness of mankind. If they can leave this section of Scripture knowing that Joe Pagan deserves hell, then they have a better understanding of the grace of God in their lives. There is much more that can be added to this, such as the necessity for fulfilling the Great Comission.

I shudder to think that there are Christians who deny the fundamental truths discussed here. It is detrimental to the Great Commission, and it is an insult to Jesus Christ and His church.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Friday Foto

This is my son and I. He has an excellent set of lungs. This may be my new avatar pic if I get five minutes to change it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Church, The King, and National Identity

I had a very depressing thought today in Church History class. We were reviewing the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 that marked the end of the Thirty Years War. After this 'peace,' it was agreed that a state's ruler would decide if the area would be Reformed, Roman Catholic, or Lutheran. Many historians use this point in history as the beginning of the "Modern Era."

I began to think that at this time in history, religion pretty much dictated the identity of the people. Almost every nation in history has been a sort of theocracy in which the ruler was either a god, or was mandated to rule by God. This functioned to keep the people loyal, and to give the nation a sense of identity. After the Reformation, the loyalties and nationalistic pride tended to center around the particular country's monarchy.

With the rise of the secular world and the disenfranchisement of the Western monarchs, a sort of democratic form of government stepped in to fill the void in most places. Implicitly, these countries were morally held together by the Christian fabric woven into the society by previous generations.

This was predominantly true in the United States. Though many of the founders of the United States were "Deists," Christian morals and a common descent held the society together.

My quandry today in class was that I could see nothing currently holding the cultural fabric of the United States together. Christianity has been, for the most part, eclipsed by a secular worldview. We have no real moral authority that is agreed upon by the citizens of our country. Further, we have a revolving door President. That is, we have a new President at least every eight years, if not sooner, and one President may be Democrat and the next Republican. Between those two parties there is rarely any sort of agreement upon any issue.

We can't agree on what "freedom" means, the role of government, the religion of the society, the morals that should govern life, nor even if one religion is better than another. We have no king to rally behind, and no religion to dictate our morality. We have a beautiful flag, but what does it symbolize? Truth? Freedom? The American Way? Can we even tell what these things mean anymore?

How can the United States wage war, any war, against a foe if we cannot reach a consensus on what it is that we are fighting for, and the things that are worth killing folks over? I heard a joke on the radio the other day that stated that after "hundreds of years of shootin' and killin'", the United States has decided to give the Southwest to Mexico. They're just trying to make a living, right? Why mess with a man trying to provide for his family? It is a strange world in which we a living, and the fragmentation of our society into a plethra of sub-cultures is the strangest thing of all. (Hello, blogworld!)

My deep thought in all of this is to wonder how in the world a nation without an identity can continue to exist. What is the glue that holds us together? Religion? Politics? Leadership? Or is it our mutual skepticism of the world? That is, we know that this system is flawed, but we cling together out of fear of "something else."

Finally, I will end with this final question. When planes slammed into the World Trade center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, we went to war with Afghanistan. We, exactly, did we go to war to protect? Democracy? Our citizens? Or was it simply a reflexive jab because someone hit us in the mouth? I don't know, but if history is any guide, some of these questions need an answer and soon. And if the church is not actively involved in providing some of these answers, then we may be headed for a new tyranny of the "Big Brother" sort.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Repentance...What's It Good For?

This Sunday, the Lord willing, I will be preaching from the text of Acts 3:17-26. It is the latter half of Peter's impromptu sermon after the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. (Who can forget the, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"). From this text, and with an eye to the one preceding it, I am approaching this text as a clear word on what must take place for "revival," or as Peter says, "Refreshing."

Peter says to those gathered in ESV English, "Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you." It looks like at least three promises are contingent on repentance from this text, we should unpack what those are.

Before we do that, let me be a typical theologian and backtrack a tad. I do not want this repentance to be a faithless type of sorrow. Such a repentance, I believe, is possible. The repentance that Peter speaks of here is connected to what he has said in verses 15-16, namely, that "you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name--by faith in his name--has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all." Note, they killed the Author of life. If they believe this, then the need for repentance becomes obvious.

Now, back to the promises. The first is the most controversial in the minds of some. That is, in order to have one's sins "blotted out," one must repent. That's what the man said. If you want forgiveness, then you must repent. This is problematic for some because they believe that salvation comes "sola fide", by faith alone, that means no repentance required. They teach that if one adds repentance to the equation of salvation as a necessity, then we have denied the rule of salvation by faith alone. For repentance, they say, is a work.

I affirm, with Peter, that where there is no repentance there is no salvation. The concept of believing oneself to be a murderer of the author of life, and yet still feel no shame at such a dispicable act, is absurd. I further argue that repentance is no more a fleshly work than spiritual living is a spiritual work. Repentance, saith the apostle, is granted from God as a gift to men (see 2 Timothy 2:25). We may no more boast about such a gift than we may boast about faith itself. Both are God's gracious gifts to men. If repentance be a work, then faith be a work, and if faith be a work, then I am theologically skewered.

Now that I have dealt with that, I feel better about telling the first promise attached to repentace: the blotting out of our sins. What a wonderful promise it is! If only we could feel the weight of our wickedness for a moment, then we would be inclined to throw it off immediately! May God, in His mercy, grant us to see the depth of our sin that we may know the greatness of His grace.

The second promise of repentance is that we will be refreshed from the Lord. Specifically, Peter teaches that this refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord. Since I believe "the Lord" refers to Jesus, I can only imagine that Peter means the refreshment sent will be our Wonderful Comforter, the Holy Spirit Himself. At the cross, the Lord Jesus paid for our sins, at regeneration the Spirit washes us clean. The Spirit is the agent of our cleansing, as I understand it. He applies what our Savior bought for us.

The third promise is that repentance will usher in our Savior. But who must repent? Should we read the previous verses in context of only Israel and yet not the third? Is it the repentance of Israel, physical Israel, that must occur before the Messiah will return? It is a tricky question, and much hinges upon our answer of it. Do we need to turn to "already" and "not yet" eschatology to understand this promise? Being the cautious, semi-dispensationalist that I am, I venture to say that the promise is peculiar to Israel. God will, I believe, work the restoration of all things when He has finished His work in this world, and I believe that the final act will revolve heavily around Israel. I believe this for two reasons from this text:

1. Peter is obviously talking to Jewish people in this sermon. The first two promises are universal to all who repent, the third seems special and particular to God's working with Israel. The first two promises are repeated to Gentile audiences, the third seems to be peculiar to this text.

2. Peter mentions Gentiles in this section. After talking about this promise that comes with repentance, he says that through them the blessing of God will come to all the "families" of earth, meaning the Gentiles.

So how does this third promise relate to universally? We are bound to preach this gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue. When this gospel is preached in all the world as a witness, then the end will come. At the last, when repentance has come to the last child of God, then I believe that Jesus Christ will be revealed from heaven. That seems to be the third promise of repentance.*

*If you disagree with this, please let me know why, I have to preach it Sunday and God will judge me on the sermon's content.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

History Prevails

This week I have been busily preparing to return to seminary. I am filled with excitement and dread. I am filled with excitement because I love school. I am filled with dread because this means 360 miles of extra driving per week, two and a half days a week away from my family and my church, and though I will greatly enjoy the work, the additional study time will be taxing my schedule.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have had to decide on what sort of Ph.D to pursue. It came down to either Systematic Theology or Church History. I have chosen Church History. Here is my reasoning.

1. History is filled with wonderful teachers, pastors, and Christians. By studying them, I will be a better teacher, pastor, and Christian myself.

2. Ecclesiastes teaches that there is nothing new under the sun. Most thoughts and questions have come up before, so I believe by understanding the past, I will be better equipped to handle the present and future.

3. I enjoy reading dead guys. Their theology doesn't change, they don't complain when critiqued, and they do not become puffed up with accolade. Also, there is no temptation to suck up to them to gain prominence. Dead guys are safe studies.

So that's part of my reasoning for choosingchurch history. I should probably also mention that reading a church history book does not give me the same sort of headache that reading a systematic theology book does.

Please pray for me as I work this new schedule out. I'm going to get extremely busy soon, and also extremely poor. Pray for me to be a good steward of my time and my money. Thanks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Fotos!

Tom Ascol's doing it. Joe Thorn does it exceptionally well, as does his friend Steve McCoy. So, I thought I'd post one as well. My sister-in-law took this picture of me, my son, and my niece.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Father's Wisdom

I haven't written much that is substantive lately, and this post will be no exception. By the time I've finished with my other duties lately, I've been too worn out to have a go at serious blogging. All the guys I have linked are serious guys, if I get too fluffy go and see them. I hope to be recovered enough soon to enlarge your spiritual horizons.

Instead of being exegetically deep today, I want to write a little story about a very serious talk I once had with my father. He is a very funny guy, accidentally so, and that adds to the charm, for people are often funniest when they aren't trying to be.

There was a time in my left when I was terribly foolish and in constant danger of sinful idiocy, even more so than now. My problem was that I was a young, celibate, and lonely man. This can be a disastrous combination for a servant of the Lord if he is not cautious...and sometimes even when he is. All he needs is a young, celibate, and lonely woman to come along and all sense and reason may fly beyond all hope of recall. (<--stolen from Tolkien.) This story picks up in the aftermath of a broken relationship, and a very sad and still celebate young man whose dreams of family, marriage, and....other stuff had recently been dashed on the upon the rocks of heartbreak.

I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Everything had seemed to fit. She was a Christian; I was a Christian. She was single; I was single. She wanted to do ministry; I wanted to do ministry. And then she was gone, leaving me in gloom, despair, and agony. (<--stolen from Hee-Haw).

My father noticed that I was in the depths of what he calls the "mully-grubs" and asked me what the problem was. I told him that I was bummed because of the recent break-up. He listened patiently, and he nodded at the appropriate times. When I had finished my melodrama, he began this story which I hope never to forget, and to ensure that this jewel of wisdom should never perish, I now share it with you.

"Son," he said, "when I was a little boy I used to love to eat ketchup sandwiches. I'd get a couple slices of bread, lather them in ketchup, and then I'd chow down. I loved those sandwiches! The only problem was that my mom would barely let me have one, and when she did, I had to go easy on the ketchup."

He stooped a little lower then, and spoken more softly, as if to let me in on a conspiracy. "But one day, mom and dad left and I was at home alone. I seized the opportunity. It would be a grand day, a high day, a day never to be forgotten. I would eat all the ketchup sandwiches that my heart desired. I pulled my chair up to the fridge, got the bread down and got the ketchup. I even put on a cloth for a bib. When all was made ready, I commenced to feasting. I slathered on the ketchup, not one corner of the bread was left barren. When I placed the slices together, the ketchup would simply ooze. Such was the enthusiasm of my ketchup spread."

He continued, "I'm not sure how many sandwiches I ate that afternoon, but it must have been ten at least. That's when the unexpected happened. In my lust for the forbidden sandwhich, I had glutted myself until I was sick. I mean seriously sick. I got so sick that from that day forward, I never ate another ketchup sandwich. In fact, I find the whole idea of such a combination repulsive to this day."

He finished his story and nodded sagely. I was confused, and a little bit aggravated, thus I asked the question that he had baited me for.

"Dad," I exclaimed, "what was the point of that story?"

He sat up, casting away the conspiratorial look for one of a lecturing professor, "Here's the point, son. I thought that ketchup sandwiches were wonderful, but anybody with half-sense knows that it is a disgusting combination. And eating ten of them, why even someone in your downcast condition can see how utterly stupid that is. My point, dear son, is that you've been eating the ketchup sandwiches this girl's been feeding you for the past few months, and you don't even know it. You're all happy because you think you're eating a steak, and I'm telling you you've had plain bread and ketchup. Now, you're fairly sick, and I personally hope it takes. When you get as sick over this thing that isn't going to work as I was over that last sandwich, you'll be able to figure out a decent relationship when it comes along. If not, you'll marry the next girl you can get to date you long enough to get down the aisle, then you will sure enough be in a sick mess!"

I was stunned. I was stunned because he was right, and because this was possibly the funniest thing I had ever heard. The effect was nearly magical, for I was cured almost instantly from the mully-grubs. After a few moments contemplation, he went out to smoke, and I went to get a Dr. Pepper.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Books! Books! Books!

I got tagged for a meme the other day by JD. Since a tag for a meme means that somebody likes you, and since everybody else in the blogosphere is doing this one, I thought I'd throw in my two cents also. Here goes.

1. One book that changed your life (besides the Bible):

This is a hard one, but I'd have to give this to John Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad. The fact that God loves Himself more than me hit me like a fruit-laden truck. After I recovered, I found that the fruit left over from the impact was indeed sweet. (I stole that straight from the book.)

A close second would be my very first Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster's Compendium and AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. But Daniel at Doulogos beat me to that.

2. One book you've read more than once:

Like every other pastor-nerd, I read the Lord of the Rings triology once a year, whether I need to or not.

3. One book you'd want on a deserted island:

Well, I'm assuming that I'd be soon rescued. If that's the case, then I'd want some Koine Greek vocabulary book. That way, I'd learn a good many vocabulary words before I got off of the island. If early rescue is not in the picture, then some sort of Survival book would be better. You can't Greek-talk fish out of the lagoon.

4. One book that made you laugh:

Confessions of a Reformissionary Rev by Mark Driscoll. He says some funny stuff in that book.

5. One book that made you cry (or feel really sad):

There's a scene in The Return of the King right after Eowyn kills the Nazgul King that always makes me cry. Eomer, her brother, sees his uncle the King lying on the field dead, and he sees his sister lying beside him. Thinking that they are both dead, Eomer commands the remaining Rohirrim to ride to death, ruin, and the end of the world. I am almost crying just thinking about it, while simultaneously entrenching my nerd status.

6. One book that you wish had been written:

How about, The Glory of the Lord's Table: Why Baptists Suffer from Neglecting It

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

Well, I wish that Playboy and all that pornographic garabage had never been done. I know that's more magazine, but I think that such mindless smut is far more deadly to the world than high-brow anti-religious tripe.

8. One book you're currently reading:
George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore. You should be reading this two volume set also.

9. One book you've been meaning to read:

Robison Crusoe. I've never read this book, and that's a shame. It may also help me if #3 ever came to pass.

My Beautiful Niece

This is Abby Grace, and I'm her proud uncle. If you think that this is a cute picture, you really should check out her Flickr site here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Why I Feel Sorry for Saul

The story of King Saul makes me sad. He did some pretty terrible things in his short reign as king, not the least of which was the slaughter of the priests of the LORD, but I still feel pity for him (see 1 Samuel 22:17-19). Especially in the beginning when things began to go wrong.

First of all, he was not appointed king under the most glorious of circumstances. When the people demanded a king, the Lord God chastised them through Samuel. After they had been properly rebuked, they drew lots to see who would be king. Of course, the lot fell to Saul, and he promptly hid in the baggage. I wish they hadn't found him.

He began to screw up almost immediately. In 1 Samuel 13 he freaked out because the people were leaving after the battle, so he offered an unlawful sacrifice. In chapter 15, he did not obey the Lord's command to kill all the Amalekites and their sheep and oxen because he feared the people of Israel. Basically, Saul was more afraid of his own people than he was of the Lord God, and it cost him terribly.

He lived in constant fear of losing his kingdom, even though he had originally hid in the baggage to keep from becoming king. Because he sought to please the people instead of the Lord, his doom was assured. His lack of respect for the Lord brought about the very thing which he feared.

I think that I feel for Saul because I know the pull to please. It is a rare bird indeed who can go against the grain and not worry about how people feel about him or her afterwards. How many times have I held my tongue when I should have spoken because I feared the loss of friendship, love, or a punch in the nose? How many times have you? It's easy to think of Saul as a weenie for not going out to fight Goliath, but I suggest a more compassionate approach. Yes, he blew it, but Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall, and he was a skilled killer. And in case you forgot, no one else in the army volunteered to fight him either. David was the exception. Most folks I know would have hid in their tent as well.

So I find Saul's story tragic. I wish that he had done better. I wish that he had stayed in the baggage. I wish that he had treated David better, and I wish that he would have repented for his failures to trust the Lord. I find him tragic because I find more Saul in my own soul than David, and I can only hope that when duty calls I will stand the test and not hide in my tent until all is over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Idol of Life

It is strange to think that in a country where abortion is legal and euthanasia is accepted that we may actually be guilty of idolizing life. As I have pondered this odd notion, I have become more convinced that it is precisely our worldly love of living that drives abortion, euthanasia, sci-fi cloning, and the shunning of red meat. Let me explain what I mean and see if you agree.

The talk that fuels the debates on the above issues is the argument over the 'quality' of life. If someone would be born with Down's Syndrome, then we should terminate that child because they can't reach the quality of life that one should hope for, or so the argument goes. An unwanted child can be aborted because it would mess up the mother's quality of life. Old people with terminal illness can be put to sleep permanently because their quality of life is over as well. My conclusion is that it is precisely the idol of an imaginary "quality" life that drives the murder of the innocent and elderly.

Evangelicals are not helping to destroy this view very much. I believe that they are helping to foster it. The way that we do this is made evident by our prayer requests and actions. The average prayer request goes like this, "Pray for my uncle Bobby, he's having surgery on his knee Saturday." On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that prayer, and it is right and good to pray for Uncle Bobby's recovery. For the most part, that is.

What if someone were to request this, "Pray for my Uncle Bobby. He is a proud man and obstinate to the gospel. He's having surgery Saturday. Pray that if it would break his pride and bring him to Christ that the surgery be botched and he'd have a permanent limp but have eternal life." Scandalous!

Here's my point in this, I'm afraid that when we request only prayers for everyone to be happy and well, we overlook that suffering is an excellent tool for humbling pride and drawing people to Christ. I'm not saying that we should pray that everyone be stricken with illness, but rather that every prayer ought to be made with the focus being on the glory of Christ and the increase of His adoration on earth, even if it means more limps, broken bones, cancer, and etc. It may not take that, but we should be a people who wish to see Christ glorified no matter the cost.

By only mentioning sickness, we reveal that the thing we really want from God is physical health. We want comfort here, and we want it for others. We want God to take away suffering. We want this because we love this life and this world and do not wish to soon part with it. Where is the feeling that this world is rank and festering and that we only live in it to preach the glories of Christ and to prepare for the glorious kingdom to come? If you look at our prayer requests, you'll find that we are just as much in love with this world and our "quality of life" as the average pagan who doesn't mind aborting children.

I recently spoke to a man whose church is sending missionaries to an African nation. One of the folks going for long-term is an 'elderly' lady in her late sixties. She is still strong and healthy and is willing to serve. I spoke with her for a bit about her trip before she left. The man I mentioned above came to me after she left and said this to me. "You know, I told her she didn't have any business going over there. She's got children and grandchildren to think about. She might catch some sickness over there and die. She's not strong enough to go."

Don't be too hard on the guy. He loves this woman and he wants her to be well. But is this to be our attitude towards missionary endeavor? Is this how we ought to regard life? Shouldn't we say with Paul, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?! I'm not only willing to be bound, but also to die for the sake of Christ!" (cf. Acts 21:13). How sad that we cling so fiercely to a thing that is passing when we could offer it to Christ as a pleasing sacrifice.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Taking the GRE

I will be taking the GRE this afternoon. I would nearly rather have a tooth pulled with pliers. I tell you this so you may pity me. Though if Daniel reads this, he will probably envy me. He probably likes taking tests like the GRE.