Still Looking For Answers

No doubt it’s been a difficult couple of weeks since the bombing at the Boston Marathon. As sad as these tragedies are, it’s always touching to see how events such as these bring out the best in people. The compassion of citizens at the bomb site, the rallying of the city of Boston, the bravery of law enforcement and the prayers and support of a nation are all things we can be proud of. And they all come by way of God’s common grace. But with that said, as I stared at the April 21st edition of the Birmingham News and the lead article entitled Looking for Answers I felt like I’d seen the same headline before.

It just seems that every time tragedy strikes or evil rears its head, we immediately begin to search for answers as to why. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with doing that. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing everything humanly possible to keep events such as what happened in Boston from happening. But from a Christian perspective, what is perplexing, though not surprising is that as a nation, every solution we seek seems only to be a human one. The response to the theatre shooting in Colorado and to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT was for tighter gun laws, as if that in and of itself will stop someone who desires to commit acts of evil. In the case of what happened in Boston the conversation is around immigration policy. Fine, we can search answers to all of those things. Opinions vary as to the best approach to help deal with all of these issues. I have my own. But it seems we pay an extraordinary amount of time dealing with things such as these while neglecting more important things. When perhaps will one of our legislators offer a bill that once again allows prayer in our schools? Why not take up that cause? Are we to believe there haven’t been consequences to its ban? Are we to believe that lives might not have been positively and eternally influenced by welcomed prayer? Are we to believe that there aren’t consequences for our lukewarm consideration of God’s ways in our lives? Are we to think He doesn’t notice how quickly we run to Him in the midst of a tragedy or when evil strikes, only to run away from Him at other times? He notices.

Our primary problems, both as a nation and individually aren’t human problems, they are spiritual ones. Our primary problem is our increasing alienation from God. And our solutions, as hard as we try and as well intentioned as they may be, will never be found in human strength, but only in God’s. Change will only come when we seek solutions that focus on what is inside of us. True change, change that is lasting comes from the inside out. What we need most is not more gun laws, more changes to immigration policy or political posturing to appease interest groups and secure votes. It’s not even more morality that we need. What we need most is the gospel. In a word, we need Jesus.

Advertisements

What To Do With Frozen Embryos

On his blog, Moore to the Point, Dr. Russell Moore addresses the question of what to do with frozen embryos. On June 1st, Dr. Moore will become the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I love his answer to this question. What stikes me about it is not only is he truthful and direct in his answer, but gracious as well. Truth should always be deliviered in a spirit of grace and Dr. Moore does that here. This is a great example as to not only how Christians should see this issue, but also the way in which we are to express it to others.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/04/17/what-should-we-do-with-our-frozen-embryos/

Faith That Walks

“…but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised” (Romans 4:12) 

            Paul uses chapter four of Romans to teach that our right standing before God comes through faith. The Jewish people struggled with faith alone being the measure of their right standing or justification before God. Many struggle with that today, as our natural tendency is to think and act as if we have to do something in order to be made right with God. That thought or action would be salvation by works, which is not the gospel. There are some important lessons from Romans 4. First, salvation by faith alone and not works was not something new that Paul was teaching. He used God’s own words concerning Abraham’s righteousness to prove that point (Genesis 15:6). Abraham was declared righteous prior to both the covenant of circumcision and the Mosaic Law. Second, Paul’s reference to the Old Testament of how Abraham, the most revered Jewish patriarch, was made right before God testifies to the unity of all of Scripture regarding salvation. A more subtle, but no less important point and lesson for each of us appears in verse twelve. What might we learn?

            “…but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised” Many Christians can point to the day they made a “decision for Christ”, the day they were “born again” and in that moment they were made right with God. But there is danger when we think of our conversion only as a past decision made at a fixed point in time. We should remember that moment was only the first step of a lifelong Christian walk. As we trace the footsteps of Abraham, though not always perfect, his were characterized by obedience. They were also always in response to what God had initiated. Salvation is always initiated by God and comes not through our works, but only through faith.  We would do well to think of our salvation not just as a fixed decision “for Jesus”, but as a continual walk of obedience to His prompting, knowing that He is walking with us. 

Prayer 

Lord, thank You for Abraham and the testimony of Scripture that salvation comes through faith alone. Too often, we act as if it results from our own works and righteousness. Help us realize that though we are made right with God in a moment, our Christian life is a walk that should be marked by obedience.  Obedience always follows true faith. Thank You for Jesus, our righteousness and for the Holy Spirit to help us do Your will each day. Amen.

Only His Armor Will Do

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”

           Temptation in this life never ends. Satan, the father of lies is pleased when we give into temptation. He knows that as a child of God he can’t change our relationship with our Heavenly Father, so he instead tries to break our fellowship with Him, while at the same time destroy our testimony before others. We have all faced temptation, but it’s hard to imagine any time in which temptation to sin and secular conformity has been greater than it is today. As adults, we face many temptations; in our careers, in our marriages, as we lead our families and in many other situations. Our children encounter temptation in the decisions they face; to conform to peer pressure in order to be accepted, whether or not to remain sexually pure until marriage, appropriate friendships plus many more. Though it may seem as if temptation has never been greater, human temptation began in the Garden and has been with us ever since. But temptation is not sin, so the question for us to ask is how we keep it from becoming so and suffering the painful consequences as a result of it.

            “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” Paul knew spiritual warfare was real and he knew those in the church at Ephesus faced their own temptations. Using the image of a Roman soldier, he set forth the means in which Christians can stand against these evil schemes. Notice in the passage that Paul says, “the whole armor of God”, both the defensive weapons to shield from attacks and the one offensive weapon, the “sword of the Spirit” or the Word of God. Paul used this image so the people in the church at Ephesus would know that the LORD had provided them all the spiritual resources necessary to stand firm.   

            As Christians, we must be fully armed to battle against the world today. That is because it’s not really the world we are battling, but “spiritual forces of evil” in which our world is just a pawn. Way too often, we battle temptation in our own strength. Instead of His armor, we put the armor of self help, a determined will or our best effort. The devil loves it when we clothe ourselves with that kind of armor because it spells our certain defeat. This battle can never be fought in the flesh. Our flesh is weak. But when you put on the whole armor of God; now that’s real power, power that comes from a Divine source; the Spirit of God working through His Word.  Why do we keep relying on our best efforts when they fail us over and over? Will we humble ourselves and realize we are no match for the enemy? Will we be weak enough to gain real strength, strength that comes from above? Paul knew God’s strength was magnified in his weakness, and his only surrender in battle was to his Savior, Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time you surrendered to Him as well?

 Prayer

Father, we need to trust your armor and not our own. I am of the flesh and sold under sin, but my heart’s desire is to please you. I renounce my own efforts in doing this because I realize that I am no match for the devils schemes. By the power of your Spirit through the power of the Word, let me be strong in the Lord and rely on the strength of His might.