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A Yearly Destruction of St. Louis

The annual report for Planned Parenthood is out.  You can read it at the link provided and it is well done!  Clean wording and great images all portraying a happy and victorious group of women rising up out of their struggles to better things.  Did I mention that you can read it?  You should for it is very informative.

It tells you that they will never stop fighting for the right to do abortions.  Never. They portray an attractive, happy young lady who shares how through their birth control program she is now free to pursue her dreams.They share how they are able to help through text and chat programs young ladies who had unprotected sex and are worried they might be pregnant.  When that happens Planned Parenthood offers “emergency contraception.”  One wonders what this contraception might actually be if the young lady is already pregnant.

But down on page 18 there is a simple line item that breaks my heart.  “Abortion Procedures . . . . 327,653.”  Over 300,000 babies killed.  Over 300,000.  How do we even grasp the enormity of that number.  The best I can do is point out that the population of St. Louis is 318,000.  So as a nation we killed every person in St. Louis last year.

And we shrugged.

If the blood of Abel was crying out from the ground to our Lord and Maker for justice then how great the cry must be now?

Some thoughts to end this little post:

  • How do Christians respond to this atrocity in the public square through politics and the courts?
  • The Church must grasp that many of those who hear the gospel are those who have participated in this act in one way or another.  How do we reject the act yet call them to repentance and faith in Jesus?
  • The Church must be ready to remember that each of us is a utter sinner apart from the grace of God.
  • Yet we also must be faithful to the commands in Ephesians 5:11, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”  Such a difficult balance.
  • Finally we must see that the ultimate way to attack this great evil of abortion is through the gospel message.  Only when dead hearts are made alive by the Spirit and people truly trust and follow their Lord will we see change.

Quick Thoughts on Injustice

In the last few weeks I flew over 10,000 miles, taught a seminary class on the Pentateuch and the Law and sent my wife off to be with her mother as she died.  The hardest of these was to send off my wife and to get her text telling me that her mother died.  The details are not any of your business nor shall I bore you with them.  But strangely they brought to mind a short bit ago a conversation I had in the parking lot of my church after a wedding.

There was a man, a family member of the bride, who was looking a bit vexed.  I saw him through the windows and thought I might speak to him for encouragement.  Instead I got a tirade of bitterness from his heart.  His wife left him, his greater family had failed to remind her that she should not leave him, and he was alone.  All of those in his greater family professed faith in Jesus and he despised them for failing him in his time of need.  So what did I ask him?

A simple question, “Where do you worship?”  He told me he had no church, they were filled with the likes of his family and he had no time for that sort of folly.  He would listen to sermons as he wished and worship God.  So, in this short little encounter on such a happy event, what did I say?

I told him that his problem was not his family who failed him, his wife who abandoned him, nor the Church.  His problem was that he was a man who was not yet a man who believed in Christ.   He was a pagan dressed in vaguely Christian clothes.  To my un-surprise he was less than thankful.  He blustered and threatened all sorts of things.  I laughed a bit at him and said his problem was not with me but with God.

I told him that his problem was that he thought God was unjust and therefore the things that happened in his life was God’s fault.  I told him, in so many terms, that God had not treated poor Job like He had treated him.  Nope.  Job only lost all his children, his wealth and his health.  He was stuck with a bitter woman who thought his faith was a folly and that he should just die (at least this guy’s wife left him!).

Then I told him that God was just in His dealings, He doesn’t answer to us nor to any other creature than He created and that if his life was miserable that was just tough.  But don’t try to make God unjust because your life doesn’t fit how you think it should.  He is the Creator and we are His creatures.  And when you give that a thought for a few YEARS you begin to grasp the glory of the cross, where the Creator comes to take on the sins of the creature so that the creature might enjoy the life of the Creator.

I add this, none of this has anything to do with the death of my mother-in-law.  I grieve for my dear wife who grieves for the woman who gave birth to her 52 years ago.  I give thanks at the same time to my Creator who cause a man and a woman, who would reject Him, to give birth to the one woman who gives me such joy for these last 27 years of marriage.

There is no injustice with God.  But through the Cross, there is much mercy and grace.

Reflections on Brazil, Part 4

I hear the rain outside and I smile.  I think of the young student who prays each night that his old car will start and there is a deep affection for him as I remember my days of bad cars and much prayer.  I walked by his car tonight after class and heard it laboring to start.  I prayed, knowing he was praying to and with much joy I heard it start up.  Small thing, yet God is in the small things if we would just ask.  Then I think of the student who was missing today due to a kidney stone.  I am sad for the pain I know he is in and pray for relief.

I think of the class tonight where we discussed a lot of somewhat boring issues but then we settled on the plagues of Egypt and the sobering reality that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh.  I reflected with the class how we can discuss the sovereignty of God in cold words but it actually intersects our lives in radical ways that are painful and shocking at times.  I exhorted them to not shy from pursuing an understanding on the doctrine and to consider how it is revealed in our day-to-day lives.

Tomorrow Philemon and I will, Lord willing, go for a driving tour of Atibaia with my translator.  At times I think he should be teaching the class rather than me, but he is a kind man who faithfully translates for me.  I laugh when I think of the couple of times he asked if he might take over for a bit to teach since he is well versed on a specific key point of theology in the Pentateuch.  I am able to stand to the side and let him help the students understand.

All of this to say, my God is sovereign and kind to me.  I am tired and ready to go home.  I am truly encouraged with what I see God doing with these young men and ask that you pray with me that God shall impress upon each of them to own the text of the Scripture.  To exegete it carefully and faithfully.  To embrace what they see and learn.  And teach it to their people.  May God continue to pour His grace upon this nation.

With that said, I think I shall sit and relax before starting it all up again tomorrow.

The Gospel for The Pastor

I am continuing with my reading of DA Carson’s book, Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor, in which he reflects upon the life of his father. At times the book is a bit of a drudgery in reading but that is because it is the life of an ordinary pastor. And in that sense I enjoy even the more boring parts for they reflect my ministry as well. I suspect you have to be a pastor to understand the pastor at least in certain ways, but I also know that the temptations of a pastor are common to all men. Discouragement, despair, and even depression can be close companions for many pastors. I have been pastoring now for 15 years and have learned more and more how much I need to rest in the gospel. The following is a quote out of the book that captures this thought well:

When I was a young man, I heard a D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comment that he would not go across the street to hear himself preach. Now that I am close to the age he was when I heard him, I am beginning to understand. It is rare for me to finish a sermon without feeling somewhere between slightly discouraged and moderately depressed that I have not preached with more unction, and that I have not articulated these glorious truths more powerfully and with greater insight, and so forth. But I cannot allow that to drive me to despair; rather, it must drive me to a greater grasp of the simple and profound truth that we preach and visit and serve under the gospel of grace, and God accepts us because of his son. I must learn to accept myself not because of my putative successes but because of the merits of God’s Son. The ministry is so open ended that one never feels that all possible work has been done, or done as well as one might like. There are always more people to visit, more study to be done, more preparation to do. What Christians must do, what Christian leaders must do, is constantly remember that we serve our God and Maker every Redeemer under the gospel of grace.


A Pastoral Prayer Based on Psalm 33

Our Father, in heaven;
Creator of both heaven and earth.    Sustainer of all things.
You, who pour out your grace upon
the great and
the small;
the rich and
the poor;
the good and
the evil.
Let us sing today out of a heart of joy
for we have been richly forgiven.
Let us sing and make melody
for we have tasted of your enduring love.
Let us praise your name
for by it we have been saved from your eternal wrath.
We confess that our hearts often do not agree with the praise of our lips,
and so we ask that the Spirit work in such a way that our hearts and lips do not contradict.
Father, you sent us your Son
that we might become your children.
You poured out your wrath upon the Cross of Christ
that we might see your love for us.
Your raised Your Son on the third day
that we might have life that is truly life.
May our confidence today not be in ourselves,
but in Jesus Christ.
May we lean upon the work of the Holy Spirit,
that we would hear the Word of God that is preached
and receive it as holy
and be instructed in your ways.

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