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Friday, June 30, 2017
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Article by: Joe Carter
The Story: The Trump administration recently issued a letter stating that teachers and students could be investigated for a civil rights violation if they refuse to use the “preferred pronouns” of transgender students.
The Background: In February the Department of Justice and the Department of Education issued a notice withdrawing the statements of policy and guidance issued last year by the Obama administration that affected public schools.
In May 2016, the Obama administration sent a letter to all public schools in America notifying teachers and administrators of a new regulation for treating “gender identity.” The letter stated that, to comply with federal law, policies concerning students would be based on their “gender identity” and not on their biological sex.
The Trump administration disagreed that “sex” and “gender identity” should be interpreted as synonymous, and believed that the issue should be handled by states and local school districts.
At the time, many parents and educators cheered the changed and assumed the Trump administration had resolved the controversy. But earlier this month the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a new memo on “Instructions to the Field re Complaints Involving Transgender Students.”
The new memo clarifies that the withdrawal of the Obama Administration guidance documents “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying or harassment.” It also clarifies, as Howard Feinman says, when the OCR “may open an investigation in various situations, including cases in which gender-based harassment has created a hostile environment for a transgender student.”
Unfortunately, included under “gender-based harassment” is a refusal to use “preferred pronouns.” As the memo states, a harassment investigation may be opened for “refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students or when the refusal is motivated by animus toward people who do not conform to sex stereotypes of a transgender student created a hostile environment.”
What this means is that students and teachers who refuse to use “preferred pronouns” can be investigated for violating a transgender students civil rights. For example, if a transgender girl (i.e., a boy who identifies as female) wants to be referred to as “she” the student would be in violating of a federal law for referring to him as “he.” Similarly, a student who was non-gender conforming may prefer to use pronouns such as “ze” or “they” and it would be considered a violation to refer to them as “he” (if they are biological male) or “she” (if they are a biological female). (There are also other transgender pronouns such as zie, sie, ey, ve, tey, and e.)
Why It Matters: This memo will only come as a shock to those who haven’t been paying attention. Despite the claims of the LGBT community, the Trump administration has in general been sympathetic to their cause. While some of President Obama’s LGBT policies have been rolled back, many of the worst ones still remain. (For instance, the Pentagon is still planning to allow transgender men and women to serve openly in the military under their “preferred” gender.)
But while the policy is not surprising, it is deeply troubling. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience or a trivial concern, forcing people to use specific pronouns can be a profound violation of a person’s conscience.
There is nothing particularly special, of course, about such pronouns as “he” or “she.” They are linguistic conventions that were chosen to refer to and distinguish people by their biological sex. But this is the reason they have become a primary battleground for transgender activists.
While the activists (backed by the government) can’t force person to deny the reality that a boy is not a girl just because he choose to “identify” as one, they want the power—again backed up by the force of law—to force people to deny reality in their use of language. In other words, while they can’t force us change our minds, they can force us to pretend that we are in agreement with their agenda.
In February I wrote about how the transgender debate is about redefining reality:
What is at issue is not merely the question of which individuals can use what bathrooms but whether individuals have the right to redefine reality in a way that the rest of society is forced to accept. At issue is whether there is any fundamental reality that all people must acknowledge or whether reality is itself is malleable and based on personal preferences.
Those who accept the idea that we can ignore biological sex for the mental construct of “gender identity” are endorsing metaphysical subjectivism, the view that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience.” They are not only disagreeing with those of us who believe reality is created by God, but are attempting to make metaphysical subjectivism the standard that trumps all others in determining norms and ethics.
The first and most important way to force metaphysical subjectivism on individuals is to control the language. The attempt to control how we see reality by restrictions on language is an old tool of totalitarian regimes—and one that was highlighted in the greatest of anti-totalitarian novels.
In George Orwell’s 1984, the main character, Winston, is tortured by O’Brian, an agent of the ruling party. “Do you remember,” asks O’Brian, “writing in your diary, ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four’?” When Winston responds that he does, O’Brian holds up four fingers and asks:
'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'
'And if the party says that it is not four but five—then how many?'
Winston is repeatedly tortured when he doesn’t answer with O’Brian’s preferred answer. Eventually he answers:
'Five! Five! Five!'
'No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers, please?'
'Four! five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'
'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.
'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'
'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'
Winston thinks that if he tells O’Brian what he wants to hear it will be enough to satisfy his torturer. But he learns that’s not really the goal:
'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'
'I don't know. I don't know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six—in all honesty I don't know.'
'Better,' said O'Brien.
What Winston begins to realize is that it’s not his answer that matters but his compliance to the agenda of the party. The party, not the individual, gets to decide what constitutes reality, and any disagreement will be punished.
Winston believed he had the freedom to say “two plus two make four” while we think we have the freedom to say “boys are referred to by the pronoun ‘he’.” But in both cases the dominant, controlling group disagrees.
Obviously, the current situation is not the same as in Orwell’s dystopian novel. Teachers who refuse to refer to a boy as “she” will not be tortured. They’ll simply lose their job and be considered unqualified to be a teacher. Many courageous educators will nevertheless refuse to submit and have to choose a different career. But the message will eventually sink in until all teachers go along with the “choose your own gender” system. They’ll deny reality because they want to protect their livelihood or because they consider it a minor compromise. And eventually, the youth of America will not be able to remember a time when we didn’t have to ask people what they chose as their “personal pronouns.” They’ll have conformed to the reality-distorting propaganda that boys can be girls and girls can be boys and ze can be no gender at all if that’s what ze decides.
They’ll learn that in America everyone has a right to choose their gender. They just don’t have a right to follow their conscience.
Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. He serves as an elder at Grace Hill Church in Herndon, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter.
Note: This article originally appeared in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
An Emmett Till marker has been vandalized yet again, and the form of vandalism symbolizes a larger story. While defacing a marker is nothing new, this is the first time a sign has been erased.
Clarion-Ledger journalist Jerry Mitchell quoted Davis Houck of the Emmett Till Memory Project as saying, “This time, it’s not someone with a shotgun or somebody trying to run over or tear down the sign.
“This time, it’s more sinister because it’s carefully thought out. It’s not a defacing but an erasing.”
The Till marker stood outside the former Bryant grocery store where the 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago allegedly made improper advances toward Carolyn Bryant. In retaliation, Bryant’s husband and her half-brother abducted Till. They beat him mercilessly and shot him in the head. After that, they used barbed wire to tie his body to a cotton gin fan and threw him into the Tallahatchie River.
Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, made the bold decision to have an open casket at her son’s funeral so the world could see what hate did to her baby. The lynching garnered international attention. Despite all the evidence against Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, a jury acquitted them of Till’s murder.
The literal erasure of the Emmett Till sign is an illustration of the ways American culture tries to erase the reality of racism. Lynchings — the extrajudicial murders of black people for real and perceived transgressions — have been obscured for decades. This is one reason why the exact number of lynchings will forever remain a mystery. Heinous crimes perpetrated against the powerless are routinely ignored or concealed.
But it is not only the painful parts of the past that have been obscured, moments of heroism and virtue have been missed as well. Markers for Emmett Till recall not only his unjustified slaying but also the bravery of his mother and other civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers who risked their well-being to expose this crime in the hope that a public sense of righteous outrage might spur positive change.
How much rich history have we missed by attempting to erase a past we should learn from but not repeat?
The flip side of erasing history is rewriting it. History abhors a vacuum.When one part of history is removed it must be filled, often with idealized visions of the way things were. These memories may be pleasant, but they are mirages that must yield to reality.
Read the rest of the article here.
Article by: Russell Moore
Does religious liberty apply to non-Christian religions?
Someone told me he had seen a Baptist writer question whether Muslim Americans qualify for religious liberty “benefits.” Hearing that was honestly surprising, since it represents a direct contradiction of our confessional document and all of its predecessors.
But beyond this there’s a broader question that’s important to consider: Must a person who believes Jesus is the only way to God defend religious freedom for Christians and non-Christians alike?
One thing we need to be very clear about is that religious liberty is not a government “benefit,” but a natural and inalienable right granted by God. Often at issue is whether or not the civil state has the power to zone mosques or Islamic cemeteries or synagogues or other houses of worship out of existence because of what those groups believe. When someone makes such a claim, they are not standing up for Jesus and his gospel, but standing against them. To empower the state to command or to forbid worship is not fidelity to the Bible.
When we say—as Baptists and many other Christians always have—that freedom of religion applies to all people, Christian or not, we are not suggesting that there are many paths to God, or that truth claims are relative. We are fighting for the opposite. We are saying religion should be free from state control because we believe every person must give an account before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Coerced Religion Is Not Christian
The government’s power is limited to the coercive power of the sword (Rom. 13:1–7). The state can do all sorts of things with that sword, some lawful and some wrong. What the state cannot do is regenerate a soul.
A religion of external conformity can happen by state decree or by cultural pressure. In fact, that’s the kind of religion we see among some who heard Jesus. They found him credible but would not follow him “so that they would not be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the glory that came from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42–43).
If that’s all the religion you want—people who will mouth words they don’t believe—then, yes, the state can serve up whatever religion you can cobble together the votes for, just like any other government program. Just don’t call that the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). And Scripture tells us how people come to conviction of sin and new life in Christ, not through government power but by the “open proclamation of the truth” (2 Cor. 4:2).
All the state can do is make people pretend-Christians, one birth short of salvation.
The state cannot make anyone a Christian by shutting down houses of worship, or by any other act. All the state can do is make people pretend-Christians, one birth short of salvation. Again, if all you’re concerned about is a form of godliness, then perhaps this is the option for you. But if you want to see people come to Christ, then you do it by openly preaching and debating his claims in the power of his Spirit, not by forcing people into hiding through the brute force of Uncle Sam.
Religious liberty is never an excuse for violence and crime, nor has religious liberty been so construed in American history. The United States government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are American citizens, simply for holding their religious convictions—however consistent or inconsistent, true or false, those convictions are.
Some would say, based on their reading of the Qur’an, that non-violent Muslims are inconsistent Muslims, the equivalent of cafeteria Catholics. Yet the government’s job is to punish evildoers for evildoing, not to decide who’s most theologically consistent with their professed religion.
A government that can regulate worship and conscience is a government that can do anything.
The state must also protect citizens from the state itself. A government that can regulate worship and conscience is a government that can do anything. One can’t claim to be for “limited government” while at the same time proposing that the government be in the business of regulating worship and conscience.
Gospel Power Doesn't Require Government Power
Like other freedoms, there are limits to how our freedoms can be exercised, and government has an obligation to protect its citizens from violence and harm. It should carry out this obligation faithfully. But again, the state also has an obligation to protect citizens from the state itself. And stripping a religious community of civil liberties is an act of aggression by the state against its citizens.
Moreover, the idea that religious freedom should apply only to Christians, or only to religious groups that aren’t unpopular, is not only morally wrong; it’s self-defeating. A government that can tell you a mosque or synagogue cannot be built because it is a mosque or a synagogue is a government that, in the fullness of time, will tell an evangelical church it cannot be constructed because of our claims to the exclusivity of Christ. Those voices (though a distinct minority) that claim to be Christian but seek to restrict religious freedom for others are, perhaps unknowingly, on a campaign to destroy religious freedom for all. They would set the very precedents that will be used to destroy churches, and they will vindicate their critics’ charge that the issue isn’t really about freedom at all, but about seeking government approval of one’s religion.
If Jesus is right about his gospel, we don’t need the power of bureaucrats to carry out the spiritual mission of gospel advance. Roger Williams stood up for the right of an unpopular minority in early New England—the Baptists—not to christen their babies. But he explicitly said such freedom ought to extend to “the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish” consciences as well, since we are not to extend God’s kingdom by the sword of steel but by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
There is precedent in the Bible, of course, for a religion using the state to force people to externally conform to it. But those examples are of Nebuchadnezzar and the Beast that John saw rising from the sea (Rev. 13), not the church of Jesus Christ. Religious freedom means religious freedom for everyone, including those who reject our gospel. We plead with our neighbors to be reconciled with God, as long as it is still the day of salvation (2 Cor. 5–6). We long for that change to happen the only way it can: by the Spirit’s enlivening power, not by some city council’s roll call vote.
External conformity, backed up by government power, is easier to achieve than Great Commission gospel advance. It also leads nowhere but to death.
Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a TGC Council member, and author of the book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel (B&H, 2015). He blogs at Moore to the Point, and you can follow him on Twitter.
I decided that perhaps it is time for me to at least familiarize myself with the Code of Canon Law, and I created a six-month reading plan to read it through sequentially. In creating this plan, I used the following settings:
Read All Passages
in Code of Canon Law: New English Translation
and finishing in six months ,
by myself .
And the results came out really hideous, as shown in the following screenshot. It makes me dizzy just looking at it, and does not make for a pleasant reading experience.
Am I doing something wrong here?
I am using Verbum 7.6 SR-1 (7.6.0.0037) on macOS Sierra (10.12.5).
I got a call today about a deeply discounted item, asking if I wanted to buy it, and that they could put it on a payment plan for me. The interesting thing that the caller said the item was on my wish list.
I checked my wish list after the call, and the item wasn't there (because I apparently bought it a couple of weeks before I got the call, and had already removed it from the list).
Is FL generating these lists and passing the contact information on to their telemarketers? If so, you may be calling someone who already took advantage of the sale.
Personally, I prefer to use the online store, so I can see all my options. It's not the first time someone has recommended I buy a resource separately, when I could get it for less in a bundle.
“Barely a day goes by when I do not speak to someone or inquire after someone or pray for someone who is struggling with the sin of pornography. Men get in touch all the time to confess the sin and to ask for help. And what I want them to know is that they are cities without walls.”
God had promised his people a land. He had promised to lead them out of captivity and into a place of their own. And now he had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, he had led them across the Red Sea, he had remained with them for forty years of wandering, he had taken them safely across the Jordan River. Now just one great barrier remained—the people who already inhabited that land. The first city they encountered was the city of Jericho, a strong and fortified city surrounded by great walls. How could these wilderness wanderers hope to prevail against so great a city? God had a plan.
For six days the Israelites marched around Jericho. First came an honor guard to lead the way. Behind them walked seven priests, each carrying and blowing on a ram’s horn. Then came the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God on earth. Following the ark was the rear guard and the army of Israel. They all marched in silence with no sound but the horns. For six days this strange procession marched a single time around the city before retiring to their camp. Then, on the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, and just as they completed the final circuit, they lifted up their voices and shouted with a great shout. And in an instant the walls of the city fell flat.
This was God’s deliverance. A city with walls was a fearsome foe, and capturing it required a costly and devastating battle. But a city without walls was helpless and hopeless. And sure enough, “the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:20-21). The battle was decided the moment the walls fell flat.
I wonder if Solomon was thinking of Jericho when he wrote, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). There’s no city more pitiful than a city without walls.
“These seven rules for keeping pastoral sanity are not intended to be legalistic. Rather, I hope they will assist us in our leadership interactions with others. I’ve listed them in the negative for effect and hope they will stick out to you as they have to me.”
Pastoral ministry can be busy and rewarding. It can also be a place to lose your sanity.
It is truly a joy to serve the Lord and the church as a pastor. We know many things we’re supposed to do—study, pray, read, show compassion, love others, and lead well. But there are some things I’ve learned we just shouldn’t do; not because they are sinful, but because they aren’t helpful.
These seven rules for keeping pastoral sanity are not intended to be legalistic. Rather, I hope they will assist us in our leadership interactions with others. I’ve listed them in the negative for effect and hope they will stick out to you as they have to me.
- Don’t believe everything everyone says about you. Some people will compliment you. Some will criticize you. If you believe all the compliments, you may become prideful. If you believe all the criticisms, you may despair. Believe what God says about you in the gospel and serve him. Find your identity in Jesus, not the commentary of others.
- Don’t take everything personally. It’s true, some people won’t like you, some will leave the church, and some will become disgruntled. Others will stay, support you, and follow you. But it is likely you are not the reason for either group. Even if you are the “excuse,” there’s almost always a deeper issue at hand. It’s usually not about you.
- Don’t chase people. This refers to number two. Certainly, we should pursue reconciliation. We should own mistakes if we’ve made them. But we can’t focus our ministry on chasing people who have left. The truth is, even if we were able to sit down and address the concerns in detail, many of the concerns of those who leave are beyond our ability to remedy.
“Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended families for Christ.”
I grew up on a farm.
Tractors, cattle, crops, big machinery, freezing cold winters, too many cats, and a marathon bus ride to school every morning. That’s right, I grew up on a farm. And that farm was next to a small town that my family and I called home. I’ve lived in small towns for most of my life, even after I moved away from the herd of cats. The small towns I’ve lived in may not be as cool as Austin or have the trendy conveniences of Seattle, but small towns will always be a part of who I am. If you live in a small town, you might know what I mean.
According to the US census, just over half of our population lives in towns, boroughs, villages, and townships with fewer than 25,000 people or in rural areas. Meanwhile, thousands of Christian books are published every year and hundreds of these are about mission and reaching people for Christ. Many of them have insightful and helpful ideas about mission that can be applied anywhere, but many of their ideas don’t seem to work in small towns. We should be thankful for resources like these, but we also need resources written specifically for mission in small towns.
A friend at my church has said that books about reaching people in closed countries in the 10/40 window relate best to mission in small towns because residents often have hardened religious mindsets and impenetrable circuits of relationships. My friend is probably exaggerating the comparison, but I understand what he’s saying because mission in small towns can be incredibly difficult and complicated.
KEEPING THE END IN MIND
Mission is not the ultimate goal of our lives. Pastor John Piper writes,
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
We are designed to be worshippers of Jesus who find our identity in him. Imagine if you found your identity in being on mission and successfully winning people to Christ. If that’s you, eternity will jolt you because there are no unbelievers in heaven. Let’s keep the perspective that being on mission is a temporary necessity. From now through eternity, Jesus should be the focus and goal of everything we do, including being on mission to reach people with the gospel. While mission isn’t the ultimate goal of our lives, worshippers of Jesus are on mission because it’s the indisputable by-product of worshiping him. My hope and prayer is that many people in your town will turn to Jesus and worship him with you.
Small towns are in desperate need of missionaries. When I say missionaries, I’m not referring to the pastor of your church or people who suffer for Jesus by building huts and preaching to native islanders. No, I’m referring to regular people. Small towns desperately need normal, everyday people like farmers, factory workers, teachers, secretaries, and small business owners who think and act like missionaries to reach their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended families for Christ. Pastors in small towns should be deeply respected for their incredible hearts to advance the gospel. However, the responsibility of mission is given to all believers, not just pastors. If you are a Christian, you are sent to be on mission regardless of where you live or what your job is.
Almost every resource about mission is based on a certain way of doing ministry. Some resources seem to take a self-righteous tone by telling us and our church how to do ministry in our town. That’s not my goal. We’ve all read books or articles like that and found them a bit off-putting. My goal is to help you better understand principles of mission in small towns instead of offering a rigid prescription for you and your church. In the matter of mission in your town, remember to follow the lead of your church’s leaders because Scripture is clear that they are the ones you must submit to (Hebrews 13:17). My hope is to come alongside your church, not to replace the authority of your church’s leaders.
One of my least favorite jobs on the farm was building fence. My dad always said he felt great satisfaction after making a well-built fence. I have no idea what he was talking about. If you’ve never built a wire fence, it’s actually much harder than it seems. But I did manage to learn that an important part of successfully building a wire fence is to have a series of anchor posts that will support the rolls of wire. Similarly, our study of mission in small towns requires a few unique anchor posts to support it.
“Albany / Schenectady / Troy, NY (10%) is the least Bible-minded city in America—also for the second year in a row. The New England area takes second and third positions, with Boston, MA / Manchester, NH (11%) as the runner-up, and Providence, RI / New Bedford, MA (12%), a previous least Bible-minded city in America (2013, 2014, 2015), close behind.”
We live in an age when the Bible is read and understood very differently in cities across the country. So how exactly do Americans from each region interact with the Bible? In the annual Bible-Minded Cities report, in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. The study, based on interviews with 76,505 adults over a 10-year period, shows how people in the nation’s 100-largest media markets view and use the Bible. Where does your city rank?
The Top Bible-Minded Cities in 2017
For the second year in a row, Chattanooga, TN (50%) is the most Bible-minded city in America. In fact, since 2013, Chattanooga has won every year with the exception of 2015, when it was runner up to Birmingham / Anniston / Tuscaloosa, AL. This year, those very same cities in Alabama take the second spot (49%), very close behind Chattanooga. Roanoke / Lynchburg, VA (48%) take the third spot, then it’s back to Tennessee again, with the Tri-Cities area (48%) coming in at fourth place. The South continues to represent well with Shreveport, LA (47%) taking fifth place. In fact, the next five are also located in the Southern “Bible belt.” Charlotte, NC: (46%), Springfield, MO (46%), Little Rock / Pine Bluff, AR (44%), Knoxville, TN (44%), Greenville / Spartanburg / Anderson, SC / Asheville, NC (44%) wrap up the top 10 most Bible-minded cities in 2017.
The Least Bible-Minded Cities in 2017
At the other end of the spectrum, Albany / Schenectady / Troy, NY (10%) is the least Bible-minded city in America—also for the second year in a row. The New England area takes second and third positions, with Boston, MA / Manchester, NH (11%) as the runner-up, and Providence, RI / New Bedford, MA (12%), a previous least Bible-minded city in America (2013, 2014, 2015), close behind. Cedar Rapids / Waterloo, IA (14%) is the only Midwest city in the top five, slightly ahead of another NY state contender, Buffalo (14%).
“I assumed my job was to counsel every member until he or she overcome the problem. Consequently, I had no sense of the need to refer people, and I spent far too much time counseling.”
- Go on an overseas mission trip. I didn’t take my first missions trip until several years into my ministry. That means that I really didn’t challenge my church to think much about missions until much later than I should have.
- Find a mentor. I didn’t even know the term “mentor” back then. And, had I known the word, I probably would have given up too easily on finding a mentor if one didn’t respond quickly.
- Travel across my state. Even a day long road trip could have helped me see that my little world in southwestern Ohio hardly reflected the world – it didn’t even reflect much of my state!
- Take more regular days off. My failure to take days off more than 30 years ago has led to the same problem now. I don’t take off enough time to relax, clear my mind, and prepare to go back to the grind.
- Set boundaries for counseling. I assumed my job was to counsel every member until he or she overcome the problem. Consequently, I had no sense of the need to refer people, and I spent far too much time counseling.
Having ensconced the Bible at the pinnacle of worship, Luther sees an intimate connection between music and the Word: “Thus it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener’s soul.”
Luther’s recovery of a Bible-centered Christianity led him to revise the worship liturgy to reflect this new theological orientation. His reordering of worship services gives us a glimpse of his theology of music, and from his own words, we see that he had a high view of it, not only for worship, but as an entity in itself.
Using the gospel as his grid, Luther retained, replaced, or revamped various elements from the mass. We clearly see his guiding principle: “And this is the sum of the matter: Let everything be done so that the Word may have free course instead of the prattling and rattling that has been the rule up to now. We can spare everything except the Word. Again, we profit by nothing as much as by the Word. For the whole Scripture shows that the Word should have free course among Christians.”[i]
Having ensconced the Bible at the pinnacle of worship, Luther sees an intimate connection between music and the Word: “Thus it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener’s soul…. After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.”[ii]
He held a high view of music in part because it’s a benefit bestowed by God: “I would certainly like to praise music with all my heart as the excellent gift of God which it is and to commend it to everyone. But I am so overwhelmed by the diversity and magnitude of its virtue and benefits that I can find neither beginning nor end or method for my discourse.”[iii]
Luther held that this gift permeates the created order: “First then, looking at music itself, you will find that from the beginning of the world it has been instilled and implanted in all creatures, individually and collectively. For nothing is without sound or harmony. Even the air, which of itself is invisible and imperceptible to all our senses, and which, since it lacks both voice and speech, is the least musical of all things, becomes sonorous, audible, and comprehensible when it is set in motion.” For Luther, the most sublime of creaturely music is found in man: “And yet, compared to the human voice, all this hardly deserves the name of music, so abundant and incomprehensible is here the munificence and wisdom of our most gracious Creator.”
“Do you love to hate somebody? Do you hope for their failure and inwardly delight when it comes? Do you have the slightest inkling that your desire for justice has bled into desire for vengeance? And if so: do you find any of that commensurate with loving your neighbor?”
In the midst of my umpteenth re-reading of C. S. Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity, I came across the passage excerpted below and found it holding new resonance. Apply what Lewis is explicating below to any of the following:
- Church conflict
- Relational jealousy
- Sharing of news stories that confirms our suspicions about people on the other end of the political or cultural spectrum
- The language that is used in clickbait links, soundbite videos, mocking memes, and exposé blog posts. We don’t say someone is “critiqued” or their ideas “debunked;” we say they were “destroyed,” “owned,” and so on. We use the language of humiliation or violence.
Here’s how you know if you hate something someone has done or if you actually hate that person, according to Lewis:
The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils.
“God is merciful. God is gracious. God is patient. God is loving. And God is just. He will by no means clear the guilty but will visit consequence upon people and upon communities in keeping with their actions. That is who God is. Therefore, what He says in Deuteronomy 28:63 is entirely in keeping with His character.”
A few days ago I wrote a brief reflection on my favourite chapter of the Old Testament – Isaiah 52:13-53:12. If that doesn’t make you want to leap for joy and praise the Lord, there is something seriously wrong with you. However, not every chapter in the Bible is intended to lighten our steps – some of them are meant to put weight in our souls. So it is with Deuteronomy 28.
Deuteronomy 28 is not my favourite chapter in the Bible. Not by a long shot. In it, Moses tells the people of Israel that they are not strong enough to live apart from the protection of the Lord. He tells them that if they forsake their covenant with the Lord, then they will be exposed to the power of their enemy and they will fall.
The Bible says that our enemy seeks only to steal, kill and destroy and this story reminds us that he will use every weapon in his arsenal and every minion in his power to erase and deface the image of God in us. If the Lord is not our fortress, then we shall utterly despair! This chapter describes that prophesied desolation in almost unreadable detail.
“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you. 53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54 The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55 so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, 57 her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.” (Deuteronomy 28:52–57 ESV)
Siege warfare is brutal and dehumanizing. The Jews endured it twice, first during the Babylonian assault in 589-586 BC and then again under the Romans in AD 69-70. Prophecy became history in the writings of Flavius Josephus. He records the story of a woman named Mary, driven mad by her incessant hunger during the Roman siege:
“Famine gnawed at her vitals, and the fire of rage was ever fiercer than famine. So, driven by fury and want, she committed a crime against nature. Seizing her child, an infant at the breast, she cried, “My poor baby, why should I keep you alive in this world of war and famine? Even if we live till the Romans come, they will make slaves of us; and anyway, hunger will get us before slavery does; and the rebels are crueler than both. Come, be food for me, and an avenging fury to the rebels, and a tale of cold horror to the world to complete the monstrous agony of the Jews.” With these words she killed her son, roasted the body, swallowed half of it, and stored the rest in a safe place.”1
It is very hard to read a prophecy like the one we read this morning in Deuteronomy 28; it is ever harder when we know that it actually happened – twice in the history of the Jewish people.
This is one of those chapters from which we would rather look away.
We would rather imagine a God who was only mercy.
We would rather imagine a God who was slightly less antagonistic towards human rebellion and sin.
However, the Bible does not give us such a God.
I appreciate that FL is getting so many pre-pubs shipped in July!
But when too many expensive items happen to ship at the same time, I can't afford to pay for all of them at once. I've had to cancel a $400 Mobile Ed pre-pub, to be able to afford the remaining ones shipping in the same two weeks.
Certainly this is not beneficial for FL, as they "lose" a sale, and I miss out on a pre-pub I had wanted to buy.
Other customers have brought this up before, but we still don't have a "solution" to handle getting hit with a big pre-pub expense in the same month.
While it doesn't happen too often -- perhaps a couple of months out of the year -- can FL provide some sort of option which helps us get the resources we want at pre-pub pricing, without having to cancel?
Thanks for your consideration!
If you have a family member or friend trapped in the throes of addiction, you know enduring pain. One of the most devastating realities of addiction is that it inflicts collateral damage on loved ones — the people trying to help the most end up being hurt the most.
Care for people struggling in addiction demands a resiliency of character and commitment that is extraordinarily difficult to sustain over time. Rescues fail, ultimatums are ignored, mercy is trampled, patience is exhausted, and trust is crushed. You are profoundly hurt, but you can’t simply turn away. You can’t write a loved one out of your life simply because addiction has overthrown theirs.
How do you stay in the fight? How do you keep your footing in the chaos?
Stabilizing Grace in a Chaotic Place
I believe there is a wonderful anchoring truth in the familiar but profound words of the apostle Paul:
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
When we read the letters of Paul we see this “grace trilogy” embedded several times in his exhortations to people seeking to live as faithful disciples in a spirit-breaking world. Faith, hope, and love mark the lives of true believers (Colossians 1:3–5), compel sustained ministry effort during trial (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3), and provide stable constancy in times of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:6–8).
If you are trying to help a loved one escape the clutches and cravings of addiction, remember faith, hope, and love.
Faith keeps you focused on the right thing in the hard times.
You are tempted to trust one more promise, one more contrite confession, one more attempt at rehab or self-reform. Maybe tempted to take on the role of fixer and healer. Addicts want to make their helpers big, and put on them burdens of accountability and constancy that they can’t carry.
But God reaches farther, and speaks clearer, and acts stronger than you ever will. You tire; he never sleeps. Faith deflects those burdens onto the Savior, and extends instead humble, weak hands to help an addicted loved one embrace the real work of repentance and change over time. When you are tempted to trust your own efforts to keep an addict out of his addictive pattern, or your own words to argue her out of her foolish choices, remember to trust instead the God of intervening grace.
To live in the environment of addiction is to embrace brokenness. It’s easy to see brokenness in addiction. What begins to creep in over time, though, is brokenness as a way of life.
A beloved child pours so much potential into wasted pursuits. A spouse or parent who’s out-of-control life slowly writes the family story as a tragedy. At some point this addiction problem becomes life itself. It is the family history; it seems like the family future.
Jesus has given a gift to the broken future that you face. It is the gift of hope. It is the promise that he will never forsake you, will never let you fall from his hand. He has prepared a place for you where brokenness is not allowed. You may not be there now, but you can already breathe that air and see the light of hope.
Jesus is the one who set glory at the end of your path, and he is the one who brings it close even now. He himself is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). If you have Christ, you have glory in your future. This is the hope that is your helmet of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8), the hope that can keep you whole in the brokenness without becoming broken yourself. And you need hope, because the addict you love may have none.
It is hard to love an addict. It’s hard to love someone who lives a code of rampant self-absorption and self-destruction. It’s hard to love when lies and deceit are a given. It’s hard to love an abuser of mercy and kindness.
The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). But it feels like love just as easily enables sin in an addict. To love an addict is to invite pain. Love gets trampled by sin; mocked by sin.
Yes, it does. But that’s the point of love. Love was crucified by sin. Love crucified is ultimately the antidote to sin. Love starts with the presumption that sin abounds. No addict will ever find true freedom without love. You can get sober without love, but sobriety isn’t freedom. The love of Christ offered in his atoning sacrifice for their sin, his redeeming grace for their bondage, his life for their death — that is what your addicted loved one needs most from you.
The best thing you can ever give an addict is your confidence in the love of Christ displayed in the cross. It is the need for this love that binds addict and helper together. The shared need for the love of Christ will be your bridge of ministry over the long haul.
Love will help you risk trust one more time, or stand on a boundary you’ve had to draw. Love sees the sickness in addiction with compassion, and the idolatry in it, as well. Love is the only power of liberation, the only agent for change, that will turn an addict into a true worshiper. You know that because that is what happened to you.
Remember faith, hope, and love. Your friend, your loved one, needs these three things more than anything else you can do for them.
Course tool on Web app is incorrectly indicating Factbook and Atlas are locked. This is a false negative given the level of access of my account and the fact these two features are currently available via the web app.
I like feeding the audio of the band into a music visualiser and then using it as the background to the lyrics on screen... unfortunately, this takes a good video mixer and more than one computer. Proclaim already handles an audio feed... any chance you could add a set of music visualizers as backgrounds to slides?
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Logos Bible Software who also sponsored the blog this week. They are offering a great prize this week: One winner will receive Logos 7 Silver. There’s no better way to kickstart your Logos collection!
While you’re considering Logos (and waiting to hear if you’ve won), why don’t you download Logos 7 Basic, which is entirely free.
Starting your study in Logos has never been easier. Jump right into your preferred workflow with customizable Quickstart Layouts. Or choose from hundreds of carefully designed learning plans included in the new Courses Tool. Each plan pulls together essential readings, media, and even Logos features on key topics. You can even take a seminary-level class with Mobile Ed courses included in our new base packages.
Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.
Pass The Mic: Am I Safe?
Jemar and Tyler talk about the events following the death of Philando Castile and discuss the recent RAAN post: “If Philando Castile Was a Threat, Then Black People are Never Safe”
About the Author Beau York
Beau York is the Founder and Executive Producer of Podastery Studios, which offers marketing, consulting, and new media production services. Through Podastery, he currently produces several weekly shows, many of which have been featured by iTunes. His shows “Country Squire Radio” and “Flash TV Talk” boast top reviewed podcasts in their subject matter.
I would like to have the rest of this collection.
In a recent tweet my friend Matt Chandler made this comment about the acquittal of a police officer in the shooting death of Philando Castile Continue reading . . .
In a recent tweet my friend Matt Chandler made this comment about the acquittal of a police officer in the shooting death of Philando Castile:
“This brokenness requires radical steps but it’s deeply demonic. Praying for Holy Spirit breakthrough and the binding of this spirit.”
In response, following a brief attempt to explain Matthew 12:28-29 and 16:19, the author of a particular blogpost (both of which will remain unnamed) concludes with the following statement:
“It is clear that the modern-day practice of “binding and loosing” spirits is not a practice that can be substantiated from Scripture. God has given us the keys to the kingdom and this is by preaching the gospel to every nation. If the Holy Spirit decides to restrict demonic activity or other evil from this world, it would not be through some utterance of some magic words commanding this restriction. This practice is fraudulent and does not reflect the will of God.”
What are we to make of this? Is Chandler wrong in saying what he said? Is it unbiblical in any sense for a Christian to “bind” the demonic activity that may be energizing some of the violence and sin we see in our society?
The following is adapted from my book Practicing the Power (Zondervan), for which Matt Chandler wrote the Foreword.
Is the verbal “rebuking” and “binding” of demonic spirits a legitimate biblical expression of our authority over the enemy? Those who answer “no” are often heard to say: “Why not just pray, 'O God, please resist, rebuke, and bind this evil spirit for me'?” In other words, they insist that we should always defer to God.
But consider Ephesians 6:10-20 where we are called on to take an active role in standing firm and struggling against the enemy. We must be responsible to avail ourselves of the power and weaponry secured for us by Christ's victory. Let us not forget that, as we’ve just seen in Luke 10, God has delegated his authority to us. It is not God's desire to settle all our spiritual disputes. He desires for us to utilize the authority he has invested in us. One reason may be that God wants us to share in and to enjoy the thrill of victory (Jesus is obviously pleased with the response of the 72 in Luke 10).
Finally, God is pleased to utilize means, namely, us, in the pursuit of his ends. In other words, God wants to involve us in the work of the kingdom. We are his representatives, spokesmen, ambassadors in evangelism, ministry, and so too in spiritual warfare. No one would ever think of saying: “O God, preach the gospel to the lost,” or “O God, teach the truth to your people,” or “Lord, would you please visit the sick today as I’m simply too busy.” Rather, God desires to use us in proclaiming the gospel and in teaching the principles of Scripture and in ministering in mercy to those who are hurting. We have been entrusted with his authority, his power, and his gifts to minister to his people in his name and to participate in expanding his kingdom.
O.K., you say, but “is it biblical to bind the enemy?” The only texts where the terminology of “binding” is used are in Matthew 12:29; 16:19; and 18:18. In the first of these it is Jesus who “bound” the devil, most likely a reference to his victory over him in the wilderness. Whereas Jesus is nowhere recorded as saying, “I bind you”, he did, in point of fact, “bind” or restrict or inhibit the ability of the enemy to keep people in bondage. Does this text give us grounds for verbally “binding” Satan or demons? More in a moment.
In Matthew 16:19 we read of the “keys” (see Luke 11:52) granted to the leadership of the Church. These are likely a reference to the power to know, understand, and proclaim the terms on the basis of which entrance into or exclusion from the kingdom of God is granted. Whatever we “bind” (prohibit) or “loose” (allow) through the proclamation of the gospel will prove to be an earthly application or confirmation of what heaven has already decreed. We have been given authority to pronounce forgiveness or judgment depending on a person's response to the truth (cf. John 20:23).
The context of Matthew 18:18 is church discipline and the decision of the church in adjudicating a dispute between two people. To “bind” is to declare someone guilty. Conversely, to “loose” is to declare them innocent. The decision of the church on earth reflects the decision already made in heaven. That is to say, when we conform to biblical guidelines and accurately declare the terms on which membership and fellowship in the church are possible, our decisions will be an earthly expression of heaven's prior decree.
It would appear that nothing in these three texts gives explicit endorsement to the practice of saying, “Satan, I bind you in Jesus' name.” However, before we dismiss this as unbiblical, we need to observe other explicit commands.
Is it biblical to resist the enemy? In Ephesians 6 we are told to “stand” (v. 11) against the schemes of the devil. We have also been equipped with this spiritual armor that we might “withstand” in the evil day (v. 13). More explicit still is the statement by James that should “resist the devil,” together with the assurance that if we do “he will flee from” us (James 4:7). Likewise, Peter says, “Resist him” [that is, our “adversary the devil”] (1 Peter 5:9). To “resist” means to stand against or to oppose, to set oneself against someone or something. To resist Satan or his demons thus means to employ the authority and power given us by God to restrict his/their activities, to restrain his/their efforts, to thwart his/their plans. What does this mean, if not to “bind”? To “bind” means to inhibit or to restrain someone from an action or activity.
Therefore, on the one hand, it is true that neither Jesus nor anyone else in the NT ever says: “Satan (demon), I bind you.” On the other hand, both Jesus and Christians do, in terms of practical and experiential impact, “bind” him/them. This is done primarily by the truth of God's word spoken (Matt. 4:1-11) and moral resistance (Eph. 6:10-20). Thus, I conclude that whereas we should not appeal to any of the three texts cited above in Matthew's gospel to support our practice, it is theologically permissible to use the terminology of “binding” when we “resist” the enemy.
So, is it biblical to rebuke the enemy? The term “rebuke” (epitimao) is used frequently by Jesus in his encounters with demonic spirits (Matt. 17:18; Mark 1:25; 3:12; 9:25; Luke 4:35,41; 9:42). The term functions as a word of command by which evil forces are brought into submission. Thus “it combines the idea of moral censure expressed by the word rebuke with the notion of the subjugation of demonic powers. Thus, epitimao shows that Jesus has authority over the evil spirits and that they are powerless to resist his control” (Sydney Page, Powers of Evil, 143).
In summary, consider Paul’s deliverance of the slave girl in Acts 16:18 – “And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.” The apostle didn't say, “Evil spirit, I bind you,” or “I rebuke you.” But he did, in effect, both bind and rebuke the spirit when he said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Paul's words were a rebuke which, in experiential fact, bound (restricted or restrained) the evil spirit's activity as it pertained to the slave-girl. And my contention . . . is that the same power and authority here exercised by Paul has been given to all Christians by the risen Lord.
My conclusion is that there is nothing biblically impermissible or theologically wrong in Matt’s tweet.
Copyright (c) 2017 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The original story can be found at http://ift.tt/2tv7JMK
NEW - 27 minutes ago
EDITORIAL: Orígenes de la Familia Humana
NOTA DEL EDITOR: La columna First-Person (De primera mano) es parte de la edición de hoy de BP en español. Para ver historias adicionales, vaya a http://ift.tt/NdButa.
FORT WORTH, Texas, (BP) -- El libro de los Orígenes nos cuenta sobre cómo el Creador estableció el orden y la naturaleza de la realidad en la que hoy vivimos (Gn.1-3). Mi interés en este corto ensayo es enumerar las bendiciones con las que él dotó a la familia humana.
1. SEMEJANZA. Los seres humanos fueron dotados con la imagen de Dios. (1:26-27). Ningún otro ser en la tierra o en cielo tiene este privilegio. No hay ángel o criatura que junto con la pareja humana pueda decirse portador de la imagen de su creador. La discusión teológica sobre cuál es la naturaleza de esa imagen es larga y complicada. Aquí deberá bastar decir que la imagen de Dios en el ser humano tiene que ver con reflejar el carácter de Dios. La primera pareja y sus descendientes tendrán como parte de su naturaleza el reflejar el carácter de su creador. Y si alguien advierte que esto parece demasiado vago, deberá recordarse que el Nuevo Testamento identifica al ser humano Jesús de Nazaret como la imagen del Dios invisible. Tener la imagen de Dios significaría imitar a Jesús en la forma en que el Nuevo Testamento nos guía.
2. SEXO. La familia humana también fue dotada desde el origen con una naturaleza sexuada. "Varón y hembra los creó." No cabe duda que el Creador en su sapiencia y poder ha escogido dejarnos claro cómo él entiende y pretende que la familia humana se conciba a sí misma. Esto debe observarse en dos sentidos, principalmente. Note que con toda la creatividad del ser supremo, no crea más que dos identidades sexuales y no más. Ni uno más, "varón y hembra" es su idea de la pareja humana. No hay nada en medio de estos dos. Con toda su sabiduría, Dios no ofrece todas "las opciones" que hoy el ser humano parece haber creado. Si insistimos en algo diferente estamos desfigurando la idea y el propósito divino para el ser humano.
En segundo lugar debe reconocerse que el Creador limita la relación de pareja a un varón y una "varona." Aunque el Antiguo Testamento a veces aparenta presentar otras opciones, ni la poligamia ni la poliandria son ideas de Dios. Jesús mismo hará referencia a esto cuando enseña que si bien es cierto Dios ha sido paciente con los desordenes familiares en la historia humana, "al principio no fue así." El profeta Malaquías, muchas centurias más tarde del Génesis, nos dice que la razón por la que Dios hizo esto no fue porque no tuviera suficiente "espíritu," más bien fue porque él buscaba "descendencia" que reflejará la fidelidad y santidad de él mismo. "Sin una pareja heterosexual no hay Edén ni paraíso."
3. ADMINISTRAR. Dios bendijo a la primera familia que representaba a todas las que vendrían después dándole autoridad sobre la demás creación (1:28). El juzgar y señorear sobre las demás criaturas implica la capacidad de tener voluntad para tomar decisiones. Adán será encargado de estudiar a todos los animales y cuidar de ellos. El señorío sobre la creación será un trabajo de administración en nombre de Dios. La familia del ser humano administrará la creación en nombre de Dios, cosa que implicaría el tomar decisiones y desarrollar su creatividad. Por ejemplo, poner nombre a todos los animales requeriría una creatividad abundante. Dios desea que el ser humano no sea siempre un niño al que se le da todo, y al que se le provee todo. La potencialidad del ser humano implica su crecimiento y responsabilidad al usar de lo que Dios ha creado.
4. ALIMENTO. Dios provee alimento delicioso a la vista. Dios no sólo provee alimentación a su virrey, el ser humano. También se preocupa porque ese alimento que consistía en una riqueza del fruto de la tierra, fuese algo delicioso a la vista de la primera pareja, y bueno al gusto del ser humano. Obviamente la historia narrada en Genesis es simplemente una generalización que no llega a describir todas las facultades que Dios debió formar en el ser humano para que fuese capaz de disfrutar estéticamente de su alimento, y que lo pudiera degustar con deleite. Dios es el creador del deleite y provee para que su subalterno lo experimente totalmente.
5. PROPOSITO. Es interesante que es dentro de este contexto en el que Dios le provee al humano también otra bendición que con frecuencia no se mira como tal. Me refiero a lo que ha hecho para proveer al hombre una razón y propósito de su estadía en el Edén. Dios le da Adán el encargo de labrar y guardar el huerto, y con esto le ofrece colaborar en el mantenimiento de la creación. La providencia es también una tarea que Dios comparte con la familia humana. La labranza es trabajar para el fruto que la tierra produce. Algunos teólogos piensan cuando Dios le manda "guardar" el huerto del Edén a Adán está presuponiendo que existían otros seres que pudieran dañarlo (por ejemplo, la serpiente). Quizá. Pero a mí me parece que el guardar tiene que ver también con no destruir, no abusar, no explotar hasta su agotamiento. Dios ha colocado a la primera pareja como administradora de bienes que no son absolutamente de su propiedad. Debe "cuidarlos."
Por otro lado, este encargo incluye una definición del trabajo. Antes de la desobediencia humana, el trabajo no es la forma en la que el ser humano "se gana el pan diario." El pan y sostenimiento del hombre proviene de la gracia de Dios y no del esfuerzo humano. Sólo después cambiará esto. El trabajo, más bien, es la forma en que el ser humano encuentra su misión cultural, ecológica y global, cuidar de la creación de Dios. "Reciclar," "reforestar," entre otras actividades, por ejemplo, no son un lujo o excentricidad. Son más bien parte de la misión global que Dios le ha dejado a la familia humana. Cuidar de la creación de Dios, es parte de la misión que Dios le ha entregado al ser humano.
6. LEY. En medio de esta gran misión, el ser humano recibe un mandato directo. Podemos hablar de la primera expresión de la ley divina. El ser humano y su familia existen y funcionan moderados y dirigidos por la palabra y el mandato de Dios (2:16-17). La ley como tal no es gravosa o pesada, el ser humano tiene una abundancia y variedad de deliciosos frutos que el que no pueda comer de uno, no parece ser algo pesado u opresivo. Que Dios no se detenga a describir el fruto -- nunca se dice que fuese una manzana como la superstición tardía lo haría -- añade evidencia de lo anterior. Más bien parece que la narración se ha trabajado precisamente para que se observe cuán insignificante era aquella prohibición cuando se le compara con las provisiones a la mano. La familia humana debe saber que no es absoluta, la medida de todas las cosas no es la decisión humana, es la palabra y la ley de Dios. ¡Tampoco existe paraíso sin la palabra del Señor!
La importancia de la ley de Dios no necesariamente se encuentra en que podamos o no entender cuán trascendental es el mandamiento divino -- aunque muchas veces lo es. Aquí en el Edén, lo que se nos revela es que lo importante es reconocer que es la palabra de Dios. Con los datos bíblicos que tenemos, sería fácil cuestionar cuál es la importancia de comer de aquel fruto. Tal mandamiento parece insignificante. Pero, por lo mismo, cualquiera diría que sería sumamente fácil de obedecer. Dios nunca se detiene a explicarlo. La serpiente más adelante sugerirá razones. Pero, otra vez, parece ser que lo que trata de hacer es cuestionar la palabra de Dios. Mientras hasta ahora todo el universo ha obedecido a esta palabra creadora, efectiva y fiel, lo que está en juego aquí es si la primera pareja humana obedecerá también. El mandamiento fue uno de esas dádivas que los seres humanos no supimos -- y muchas veces hoy -- no sabemos aprovechar.
7. AYUDA. La última dádiva a mencionar aquí es la provisión de ayuda calificada. Debe notarse que la provisión sucede en el contexto inmediato al mandamiento. Es cómo si el Señor dijera que no es bueno que el hombre este solo si ha de cumplir el mandamiento que le acaba de dar (2:18). La ayuda vendría especialmente para ayudarlo a cumplir ese encargo. Ningún otro ser animal cumple con el requisito que Dios mismo ha puesto "ayuda idónea."
Es la mujer, la ishá, la que lleva ese título. Escuchó bien. Es un título y no una palabra para discriminar. Que la mujer sea la ayuda idónea, o adecuada, habla de la calidad que ella tiene para poder ayudar al hombre, al ish. Nada más ni nadie más tiene ese título, a excepción del mismo Dios que muchas veces se hace nombrar como el ayudador de Jacob (comp. Sal. 146:5; Heb. 13:6). La mujer no es entonces la sirvienta del hombre, la mujer es la ayuda necesaria y apropiada, sin la que el hombre es incapaz de cumplir a cabalidad el mandato divino. La mujer también es parte de "Adán" porque salió de él, y por lo mismo, posee la misma calidad de él, sino también porque Dios la identifica como teniendo la misma esencia del ser humano (Gn. 5:1-2).
Es contra esta necesidad y ayuda que la rebelión y desobediencia humana se han levantado muchísimas veces. Muchas veces como machismo que aplasta a su ayuda; a veces como feminismo que mutila también esa relación, proclamando una independencia egoísta. Hoy en día, esta naturaleza de servicio mutuo confronta uno de sus retos más grandes. Si la mujer es ayuda idónea, ningún hombre podrá llenar esa función para otro hombre. Si al que se le debe ayudar es al hombre, ninguna mujer necesita del tipo de ayuda que el hombre necesita. Hacer de la identidad sexual sólo una etiqueta con la que puedo jugar para un lado y para otro, asignándola a mi discreción y a mi preferencia, es señal inequívoca de haber asistido a otra forma grosera en la que el ser humano rechaza la dádiva divina.
La sexualidad del ser humano no es simplemente capacidad de reproducirse, dentro de ella se incluyen un sinnúmero de cualidades que hacen única a la mujer, y único al hombre. Repellar la carne del cuerpo humano o jugar con sus hormonas podrán lograr una transformación sólo superficial, pero nunca podrán proveer esas cualidades tan innatas con las que el ish y la isha han sido dotados y bendecidos por su Creador, y siempre dejarán al ser humano en profundo desconcierto e insatisfacción. Sólo aquellos que en contra de la correntada moderna se atreven a genuinamente volver a Jesús de Nazaret y su entendimiento de los orígenes de la familia y el ser humano, podrán gozar del éxtasis que producen las bendiciones del Dios del Génesis.
Copyright (c) 2017 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The original story can be found at http://ift.tt/2tuM1IS
new - an hour ago
Capitol Hill panel discusses religious liberty ruling
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in a religious freedom case is not about government funding of the church's mission, but it will have far-reaching results, a Capitol Hill audience was told Thursday night (June 29).
Panelists in a conversation co-sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) explained the impact of a June 26 opinion by the high court and how Christians should respond to the debate over church-state relations.
The discussion -- the latest in a series typically hosted by the ERLC -- focused on the justices' decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a 7-2 opinion in which the justices ruled Missouri violated the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment by barring a church from participating in a government-run, playground-resurfacing program. The state had rejected the application of the Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center from participation in the program -- which provided safer playground surfaces -- solely because of its affiliation with the church.
ERLC President Russell Moore said the case may leave some with the mistaken impression it does not apply to them or Christians want "the government financing the mission of the church."
This is not just about recycled tire scraps but "a more fundamental question about what does it mean for religious people to be active and involved in the public square, not to be discriminated against," Moore told those gathered at the Rayburn House of Representatives Office Building.
"I'm a Baptist, a real Baptist, an old-time, Roger Williams sort of Baptist," he said. "There is nothing that I despise more than a state-established religion. At best, it ends up being a lifeless, dead bureaucracy. At worst, it ends up being a persecutor. So I would be the first one screaming if the United States government came in and wanted to start funding churches or any other house of worship.
"This case isn't about whether the government is going to intrude itself and its money into the mission of the church," Moore said. "What it's about is whether the government is going to come in and say, 'This is for all of you in the community, but if you are a religious person or group or organization, on the basis of that you cannot even come and have this conversation and be in this place."
ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said the court's ruling "really will have some broad reaches. It will be broad enough to cover scenarios across the board."
The high court demonstrated the day after the Trinity Lutheran opinion its potential impact on school voucher and other school choice programs, he said. The justices returned a school voucher case to a lower court to be reconsidered in light of their decision in the school playground case.
Missouri and nearly 40 other states have what are known as Blaine amendments, provisions in their constitutions that restrict direct or indirect funding to churches and other religious organizations.
The justices ruled "those provisions can no longer be used to exclude religious organizations from any type of government benefit," said Cortman, who argued on behalf of Trinity Lutheran before the Supreme Court.
"What's great about this case is it will cut the legs out from those states using those type of amendments to say, 'You're otherwise qualified for this program, whatever that happens to be, but solely because of your religious status and who you are you can't participate,'" he told the audience.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, provided advice on how to seek to influence others in religious liberty debates.
Hartzler said she learned as a teacher the need to be gentle and not quarrelsome, based on II Timothy 2, regarding debates over a teachers union.
Smith told the audience he wants to remind pastors and other Christians that though these legal cases are important, "our mission as a church and our status as a church still doesn't change."
"We're still strangers and foreigners passing through a barren land," he said. "And so I try to anchor them in that type of stability so that we are aggressively seeking to enjoy the full liberty that is laid out in our Constitution, but at the same time our stability as followers of Christ -- thus our peace, our joy, our contentment -- is not altered by every single, individual court decision."
Smith also said, "I always encourage Christians to avoid stomp-down fights, because it's hard to have a stomp-down fight with someone and then say, 'Oh yeah, would you like to come to my church on Sunday?' We never want to jeopardize our ability to share Christian witness."
On the same day as the release of the Trinity Lutheran opinion, the court granted review of a Colorado court's ruling that a baker must decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding despite his conscientious objection.
It is a "tremendously important case" among many right-of-conscience cases, Cortman said.
The case "will determine not only whether people of faith are able to live out their faith but based on what principle," he said, adding the principle "will apply across the board."
"[T]hese cases carry so much weight, not only for the freedom of people to live out their faith, but it will extend further to anyone who doesn't want to be forced to promote any event against their beliefs or against their free-speech rights," Cortman told those in attendance.
Moore said of the case's significance, "[A] government that can force creative, artistic endeavor can do anything, literally can do anything. If you can force people not just to communicate but to endorse and celebrate things that are against their deepest convictions, that doesn't have a stopping point."
In closing, Moore said Christians' commitment to the Gospel should come before their commitment to religious freedom.
"I think the No. 1 thing that we have to do in order to ensure religious liberty is to raise up a generation of people who actually know what they believe and who not only have the clarity about what they believe but the courage to hold to that, even if they have to hold to that alone or it seems to be alone," he said.
Previous Capitol Conversations events sponsored by the ERLC have included discussions of the media, same-sex marriage and religious liberty, Planned Parenthood and the sanctity of human life, the Supreme Court and abortion, and the Syrian refugee crisis.
Copyright (c) 2017 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The original story can be found at http://ift.tt/2tuWLHl
new - 4 hours ago
Teen walks 300 miles, spotlights human trafficking
ARTHUR, Illinois (BP) -- Fourteen-year-old Lindsey Yoder walked 15 miles a day along the dusty back roads of southern Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee in a quest to raise awareness about human trafficking.
She departed from Arthur (Ill.) Southern Baptist Church, where she and her family are members, on May 28 and arrived at Nashville's Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park on June 24.
Her mother Regina provided support throughout the entire 300-mile journey. She shared how attending a women's ministry conference in 2015 for teen girls played a role in Yoder's passion for fighting human trafficking.
"Human trafficking was the focus and that fueled her interest in the issue," Regina said. What Yoder learned at conference remained with her and she was ready to make a difference.
Carmen Halsey, director of Illinois Baptist State Association's Women's Missions, shared, "What Lindsey's doing now is she's learning. God has her attention, she sees the people through His eyes. She's put feet to the vision. She learned something and she did something. Lindsey's not just sitting in a pew."
Halsey's said it's encouraging to see how Lindsey's mother Regina is behind her. "When her daughter got the vision, her mom gathered the other kids and packed the trailer to follow along."
According to the Shared Hope International, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking, "the common age a child enters sex trafficking is 14-16, when they're too young and naïve to realize what's happening." Most victims are girls, but boys are trafficked and sold to pimps as well.
Yoder was also impacted by the movie 'Priceless,' which addressed human trafficking and was produced by Hope for Justice. Yoder shared, "[my] heart was broken at the thought of all the girls who are in this horrible situation and I asked God specifically to tell me how I can help."
"When He gave me the idea to walk," Yoder said in an email interview. "I knew He would provide everything I needed to make it happen."
Yoder walked to Nashville because it is the home of Hope for Justice, an organization that works internationally to stop human trafficking with additional offices in Cambodia, England and Norway.
When asked why she chose to walk rather than do another type of fundraiser Yoder answered, "Because God asked me to walk, so I'm doing it out of obedience. It wasn't my idea. My faith was the main reason I decided to do step out and do this event that is bigger than me."
Yoder is homeschooled and leads a missional lifestyle. Last year she went to Honduras on what she called a "class field trip" with her grandfather, and she's also traveled to Haiti with her mother and sister to work in an orphanage. When asked what she wants to do in the future she said, she'd like to be a teacher in India, working as a full-time missionary.
"My church has been incredibly supportive ... even more than I expected," Yoder said. My youth group sold candy bars in the Walmart parking lot to help cover expenses for lodging and gas as we travel. Our church also gave me funds to cover more of our expenses."
She started her walk from the church on a Sunday morning when several in the congregation gathered to lay hands on her and pray at the end of the service.
When it was time for Yoder to start her walk she said, "about 80 people joined me for the first two miles of the walk. It was so fun to be supported and surrounded by the people in my church."
Yoder said she couldn't have done the walk without the support of her family.
"My three older brothers each drove all the way from Ohio to walk the first two miles with me," she said. "My Mom planned all the routes and we took two pilot trips to make sure all the roads are safe for walking. My dad is at home working hard at his job and is super supportive of my walk. My younger siblings are along for the ride even though they'd rather be home."
At the end of her journey in Nashville, Yoder said she hoped to "have learned that no matter how hard it is, God is always there for me and that I can lean on Him no matter what." Once the walk was completed, Yoder had said she would be looking forward to "sleep and ice cream."
As she neared the finish line at Bicentennial Park in Nashville, Yoder had a surprise waiting for her -- Natalie Grant, Hope for Justice co-founder and Christian recording artist. Grant had heard about Yoder's effort and was waiting to walk the last mile with her.
"A lot of times we're moved by an issue, we're kind of upset and it kind of bothers us, but then we just go back to living our lives," Grant told a local news station. "But this 14-year-old girl said, 'No, I'm going to do something.'"
Grant shared a video with her Facebook fans the day before, telling them about Yoder's journey urging them to donate to the cause. With the additional help from Grant, the walk has raised nearly $38,000 and donations are still being accepted.
Yoder chronicled the 300-mile walk from Arthur, Ill., to Nashville, Tenn., on the Facebook page Walk4Freedom, which includes a link to her Hope for Justice donation page.
Copyright (c) 2017 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The original story can be found at http://ift.tt/2tv5KrT
Layman honors wife's legacy at Bonnaroo
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see related Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival story.
MANCHESTER, Tenn. (BP) -- Ignoring the heat and the insects, Bill Thompson maneuvered his way through the tall grass, weaving through the maze of parked cars and pop-up tents that were jammed together in the massive open field at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tenn.
The path wasn't especially easy to navigate for the 85-year-old Thompson. But he relentlessly pressed on, determined to complete his two-pronged mission: Sharing the Good News of Jesus to the massive collection of attendees at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and honoring the legacy of his late wife, Gerri.
Thanks to a supply of frisbees -- yes, frisbees -- Thompson was able to accomplish both objectives.
Seeking a simple way to connect with Bonnaroo's crowd, largely comprised of 20-somethings, Thompson purchased several boxes of frisbees this year and had them custom-made for the occasion. Inscribed on the frisbees was this simple message: God and Gerri love you.
Prior to her death in 2016, Gerri had established an annual tradition of attending Bonnaroo, which is held annually in early June. For several years, she and her husband volunteered to serve as part of the "Jesus Tent," an outreach ministry of First Baptist Church, Manchester, and supported by a team of churches from Duck River Baptist Association and other associations, along with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
"She loved coming (to Bonnaroo) and connecting with the young people," Thompson said. "One of her favorite things to do was to get out and throw the frisbee; it was her methodology to reach the kids.... Gerri loved missions, and (Bonnaroo) was her passion."
Thompson said he and his wife were strong supporters of the outreach efforts at the music festival.
"Where else can you potentially reach thousands of people for Christ in one setting?" he said, adding that he and his wife believed it was "one of the finest ministries" in which they participated.
Keeping the tradition alive, Thompson signed up this year to work the Saturday morning shift at the Jesus Tent.
When he arrived at Bonnaroo, Thompson, along with several other volunteers, passed out the frisbees. By mid-morning, Thompson was surprised -- and also delighted -- to learn that the entire supply was gone.
"Next year, I'll have 'em make twice as many," said Thompson, with a chuckle.
The absence of frisbees didn't stop Thompson from making his rounds. Accompanied by long-time friend Sue Simpkins, who was Gerri's best friend, Thompson went from one tent to the next, witnessing and passing out Bibles to anyone who was interested.
At each stop, Thompson would strike up a conversation by asking the attendees where they lived. He would then pass along his message: "We are so glad you've come to Tennessee, and we hope you will come again. And what we really want you to know is that we love you -- and God loves you."
The message was well-received by many of the attendees, including some who accepted the offer of the free Bibles that the couple was passing out.
Thompson said that, through the years, the attendees have generally been very receptive.
"Of the times I have been here, there has only been one instance where someone bluntly rejected the idea of having a conversation (about Jesus)," said Thompson, a member of Tulip Grove Baptist Church in Old Hickory.
Thompson knows that he doesn't fit into the normal demographic in regard to Bonnaroo's crowd. But he uses that as a witnessing tool.
"I get some strange looks when I tell people I am going to Bonnaroo," Thompson said. "But then I say, 'Well, let me tell you why I am going.'"