Not My Problem

Martin Luther was once told that the Lord’s Supper ought not to be given to those convicted of a public crime because of the likelihood they were unbelieving. Luther replied: “This doesn’t concern the one who administers. His only concern should be that he offer the true Word and the true sacrament. I don’t worry about whether he [the communicant] has true faith. I give the sacrament on account of the confession which I have heard, the condition of his heart be what it may. I wager a thousand souls that the absolution and the sacrament are right. I must believe him when he says he is penitent. If he deceives me, he deceives himself. Nevertheless, the sacrament is true and the absolution is true. It is as if I were to give somebody ten pieces of gold and he took them to be only ten coppers. The gold is right in front of his eyes. If he doens’t know what he’s taking, the fault is his and the loss is his.”

 

Elliot & Natalie

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. –Genesis 2:18-25

Marriage today is unpopular. The Pew Research Center just reported that barely half of the adults in the US are married, a record low down from 72% in 1972. New marriages declined by 5% from 2009-10, and if rates continue in just a few years married people will be a minority. Not only are people getting married less, but young people especially, just 20% of those 18 to 29 years old versus 79% in 1960, are not doing so. There are lots of factors causing this, but with divorce rates flat, today it can be simply stated less people want to get married. Why is this? Some have said that marriage is a dead institution, or only a living institution so long as we redefine it. But marriage is not a man-made artifact. It’s not a club like Rotary Club that we made up, although we certainly can make stuff up and call it marriage.

As we see in Genesis 2, marriage is there in the beginning, and for every man and woman entering into it since, it is a drastic beginning. To get what I mean you can’t think of the beginning of a math test (unless you really like math) or beginning in the back of the line at the DMV. This beginning is more like the click-click-click as the roller coaster climbs its first hill, or the crack of a gun that starts a body-breaking race. It is filled with anticipation and excitement. It cost a lot to just get here, and the real event is just getting started. Continue reading

Your Promotion

Temptations and challenges come to us in many ways—the job, the kids, the spouse, the neighbor, the family member, the car, the checkbook, the medical condition—to infinity and beyond!

Paul assures us: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). As much as you feel like the only one, you’re not. That’s comforting in a way. What’s even more comforting is the next verse, which is why he put it there: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way to escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Escape, you’re thinking, is exactly what I need right now! But it’s not that sort of escape, the kind where you pull a cord and disappear from the difficult situation. Rather, the escape is the kind where you are actually able to handle it, deal with it, held up by grace. You endure.

This is always easy to see and say from the outside, and extremely difficult to do so from the inside. The belly of the beast is acidic. This is why we must say it from the outside so that when pressed on all sides and distracted, we can remember. Players shoot thousands of free-throws in practice so when the fans are screaming and the game is on the line, they don’t forget how.

The ways of escape provided by God are as many as there are difficult situations. But each of them is laid hold of by our faith, our continued trust in a God who raises the dead: “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Ps. 18:29).

The most exciting thing about seemingly impossible circumstances is our great privilege of being in them. If God won’t test you beyond your ability, and he says he won’t, then guess what? You’re up for it. No, you weren’t asked beforehand, but that isn’t important. We have no choice in this life but to be stretched because our maker will have it no other way. Of course this doesn’t mean that God somehow promises to withhold the consequences of our sinful or foolish actions, but it does mean he will bless us in the midst of even those. How much more should we embrace the chaos that comes from sanctified hard work and good desires–like helping the hurting, having many children, educating those children, and building a life? We are given and entrusted with these problems because we are equipped to solve them. So if and when you feel unready for the latest insanity, the good news is that it comes with on the job training. This is your promotion.

The Pink Ribbon’s Black Eye

In a New York Times editorial, Ross Douthat capably points out the descrepancy between the sentiments of the nation regarding abortion and the way the media reports it:

But if you’ve followed the media frenzy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision — which it backpedaled from, with an apology, after a wave of frankly brutal coverage — to discontinue about $700,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist.

From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage’s tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had “politicized” the cause of women’s health. …

Three truths, in particular, should be obvious to everyone reporting on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy. First, that the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial, while the provision of abortion may be the most polarizing issue in the United States today. Second, that it’s no more “political” to disassociate oneself from the nation’s largest abortion provider than it is to associate with it in the first place. Third, that for every American who greeted Komen’s shift with “anger and outrage” (as Andrea Mitchell put it), there was probably an American who was relieved and gratified.

Indeed, that sense of relief was quantifiable: the day after the controversy broke, Komen reported that its daily donations had risen dramatically.

But of course, you wouldn’t know that from most of the media coverage. After all, the people making those donations don’t exist.

George Grant similarly summarizes recent trends in his forward to R.C. Sproul’s book Abortion:

Public-opinion polls conducted during the first year of the Obama administration found that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves “pro-life.” In addition, the number of Americans who favor making it more difficult to obtain an abortion is up six percentage points in just five years. In 2005, 59 percent of respondents agreed it would be good to reduce abortion. Today, 65 percent take this view…. Yet another poll found that 58 percent of Americans say abortion is morally wrong most of the time. Just 25 percent disagree, and the rest have no opinion. The poll found women are more strongly pro-life than men, with 64 percent of women asserting that most abortions are morally wrong, a view shared by 51 percent of men.

The reversal of the Komen Foundation’s decision to stop supporting Planned Parenthood indicates that though most Americans oppose abortion, the most influential Americans do not. Or the influential people who do oppose  abortion do not do so effectively or publicly enough yet. But as power shifts away from big government entitlementists and down to people who actually represent the views of Americans, those profitting from the abortion machine will be out of work.

Use More than a Hammer

A preacher is like a carpenter. His tool is the Word of God. Because the materials on which he works vary, he ought not always puruse the same course when he preaches. For the sake of the variety of his auditors he should somtimes conosle, sometimes frighten, sometimes scold, sometimes soothe.

–Martin Luther