The Gospel

The Gospel

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

John Minus Kate

While the episode promised a bombshell, it was not surprising that John and Kate announced verbally (and later in print) that their marriage would be ending. John said...

"This afternoon, Kate filed for divorce. Our kids are still my number one priority. I love them and want to make sure they stay happy, healthy and safe. My job is being the best, most supportive and loving father that I can be to my kids, and not being married to Kate doesn't change that," he said in the statement.

Being married does not change that? Who is he kidding. In the episode he goes on to add that he has been a dad, now it is time to be himself. Wow.

Just as the movie "Kramer vs. Kramer" changed the view of divorce in American culture, this saga will no doubt leave a lasting impression. They became celebrities for of all things...having children. They decided to turn their home into a circus. They walked away from their church. The money became so attractive that they could not stop. And now, before our very eyes, John and Kate plus their eight children are a family in crisis.

Where is the out cry? Where is their pastor? Where are their friends? Probably they are all where the rest of the country is. Waiting for the next episode to be entertained.

As a pastor, it breaks my heart when people get divorced. Not just because of the harm done to the children, although it is great. Not just because of the harm to the couple, although it is tragic. More importantly, it is because of the harm to the Gospel. God never divorces his people, Jesus is a faithful husband, even when we are an unfaithful bride.

If you are a fan of the show (which I am not) or if you have never seen it, let us not glory in the fall of this family. We should not mock them. We should not laugh. We should cry. We should mourn the break up of another family. We should pray that God would miraculously save this marriage, this couple, this family; that their relationship would be restored; and that God would get all the glory.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Immigration, Aliens and Christians

Justin Taylor interviews James Hoffmeier to introduce his new book on Immigration and Christians title The Immigration Crisis. The interview is enlightening and I hope to read the book soon. In the interview, the author addresses some of the misunderstandings or manipulations of scripture by many who oppose any kind of immigration standards. You can read the interview here.

This particular question and answer was particularly interesting:

Does the OT operate with similar distinctions that we have today between documented aliens and illegal immigrants?

What I learned in my study is that there are three relevant terms used in Hebrew (ger, zar, nekhar). Different English translations render the words differently. The TNIV and NLT render them all as “foreigner.” That is misleading and incorrect.

Zar and nekhar indeed refer to foreigners or visitors, people passing through a foreign land.

Ger or the verb gwr, which together occur more than 160 times in the OT, refer to foreign residents who live in another land with the permission of a host. A good example of this is found in Genesis when Joseph asks permission of pharaoh for his family to move to Egypt (Gen. 45:16-18). When they arrived, the brothers asked pharaoh if they could sojourn in the land (Gen. 47:1-4), and Pharaoh allotted them a section of the land of Goshen or Rameses (Gen. 47:5-7).

The law is clear that ger is not to be oppressed, but to receive equal justice, and have access to the social support system of ancient Israel. And there was a provision for religious inclusion, but they were also obligated to live in accordance with the laws just like the Israelites.

The Law does not, however, extend to the zar and nekhar such benefits and services. From this I conclude that ger was viewed as a legal alien.

The mistake of some well-meaning Christians is to apply the biblical laws for the ger to illegal aliens in American even though they do not fit the biblical legal and social definition.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Theology of Adoption

One of my favorite authors and preachers is Dr. Russell D. Moore. He is the dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I also attended. When I first met Dr. Moore he was the Sunday school teacher for our class at DeHaven Memorial Baptist Church (along with Dr. Tom Nettles).

Dr. Moore has recently written a book, Adopted For Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. The book, in the same mold as his preaching, is rich with theology and practical application no matter where you may be in life. It chronicles the difficulties that his wife and him had as they desired to have children and the things that God taught both of them about family, their own hearts, the gospel, and their (and our) own adoption as sons of God through Jesus Christ.

We are all adopted. He says, "The New Testament continually points to our adoption in Christ in order to show us that we're really, really wanted here in the Father's house" (Eph 1:3,5). Who better to understand, practice and support the adoption of children than those who are adopted already.

The wonderful thing about this book is that it is not only for those who are already looking to adopt. There are practical implications for the church as a whole, grandparents, those who can support others and more. My church has had a high view of adoption long before I arrived. I hope that this book will encourage them to know that they are obediently following Jesus Christ. I hope that it will encourage them to continue supporting adoption and those who adopt.

I hope the book will do the same for you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Tragedy of John and Kate

John and Kate celebrate their 100th episode next week. There seems to be more concern and excitement in the Gosselin house about this milestone than about the crumbling marriage.

For years now, the country has been engaged with the life of this everyday, normal family. Christianity Today says that "evangelicals" especially have flocked to the TLC channel to catch a glimpse of this family {Entire Article Can Be Found Here}. We have praised them for their love of life, we have praised them for their love of family and yet all the while we have ignored the bigger issues of greed, fame, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

It is only now that their marriage appears to be falling apart that we have even taken notice of other serious spiritual matters. In some sense we are appalled by what has happened to this family and yet we probably should not be. Christianity Today goes on to say this: Somehow most of us missed the long trajectory that was, day by day, moving them farther from a life of Christian virtue. Sexual immorality—whether actual or merely suspected—caught our attention, but the materialism, narcissism, and exploitation of children that preceded it was largely overlooked.

In a sense, the family has invited this kind of temptation, if not the sin and end result. Where was wisdom and counsel from other family? Where was a warning or rebuke from their church? Why does it appear that no one cared that this family was being destroyed right under our noses on weekly television?

We are all prone to this kind of temptation and sin. None of us are immune to it. We must constantly guard ourselves against hubris, pride and lust. We must not be captivated by the things of this world, but focus our selves on the things of heaven, namely Jesus Christ. We should certainly pray for John and Kate. Pray that their marriage survives. Pray that they walk away from the apparent security of wealth and return to the security of scripture.

But we must also pray for ourselves and each other. Pray that we do not fall into this same trap. There is a lion prowling around, seeking to destroy us and to tear us apart limb by limb. Some of us might already be in the Lion's mouth and his grasp is already around us. We have convinced ourselves that everything is OK. Don't be fooled. Run to the Shepherd.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Sanctity of Life

Yesterday I was shocked to turn on the news and see scrolling across our local Kansas City news affiliate a story about the Sunday morning shooting of the infamous Kansas abortion doctor. I was deeply bothered by this act of premeditated murder. As someone who opposes abortion on both philosophical and theological grounds it saddened me that a doctor who has sworn an oath to protect life would so recklessly take it. However, how could this gunman act just as heinous in murdering this doctor.

As Christians, we should stand adamantly opposed to the senseless murder of innocent babies through the practice of abortion. We should use our right to vote, protest and other avenues to see the courts and laws changed in our country. But resulting to the same kind of violence is not the answer. It is not up to use to take the law in to our own hands. Life is precious from infancy to adulthood and beyond.

I have to admit there was a little bit of frustration during the candlelight vigils last night for this doctor, especially when so many unborn babies have had their lives "snuffed" out with out much of a second thought. But in this day, let us pray for the salvation of those who hurt unborn babies, abuse children in homes or take advantage of young girls on the streets of Las Vegas. Let us pray that God will open their eyes to their sin and need for Jesus. Let us not take action into our own hands by returning evil for evil, but let us remember that "vengeance is mine says the Lord" and he will obtain justice both for the millions of children cast away as medical waste but also for others who have had their lives taken...

The Outpost - Bible Preaching (Brooke Taylor)