Monday, September 28, 2009

How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?

(by Justin Taylor)

The following is an answer to that question that I wrote at the request of the New Attitude folks (now called Next).


This is a good, hard question. The way we answer it will both reflect and inform our understanding of justice and mercy.

The question is about what happens in the book of Joshua when God commands Israel to slaughter the Canaanites in order to occupy the Promised Land. It was a bloody war of total destruction where God used his people to execute his moral judgment against his wicked enemies. In moving toward an answer it will be helpful to think carefully about the building blocks of a Christian worldview related to God’s justice and mercy.

Read more here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

めっちゃいいメッセージ! (Great Message!)
ジョン・パイパーさんのメッセージ(途方もない深い渇きの悲惨な代価)は日本語で翻訳されました! ぜひぜひ読んでください!(The Tragic Cost of Her Cavernous Thirst) by John Piper. Or if you want to listen, watch or read the original message in English, click here.

Note: Sorry to be posting so many Piper quotes and messages lately... 仕方がないね!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beliefs about Homosexual Behavior and Ministering to Homosexual Persons

In view of the recent decisions over homosexuality in the ELCA, the denomination I grew up in, I think it is important that we all continue to go back to the Bible to make and frame our worldview.

We all have sin issues to deal with, and so the argument that homosexuality is something we are born with does not really hold any water. Some are born with a tendency to be lazier than others. Others are born with a propensity towards lust, greed or a short temper. Just as we all inherit a sinful nature from Adam, we are all born with natural propensities towards various sins. However, all of us are called to fight, and by God's grace, to put to death the misdeeds of the body by the transforming power of the Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." and Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

It is clear from Scripture that one of the sins we are to put to death in our own selves is homosexual practice. (Romans 1, 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10) If we choose to live in sin we "will die" in our sin apart from God. Therefore, the only Biblical pattern is to fight our own sin.

John Piper writes:

Our affirmation that the Bible is the infallible Word of God with "supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct," and our affirmation that "a Christian should live for the glory of God" include the following six beliefs about heterosexuality and homosexuality:

1. We believe that heterosexuality is God's revealed will for humankind and that, since God is loving, a chaste and faithful expression of this orientation (whether in singleness or in marriage) is the ideal to which God calls all people.

2. We believe that a homosexual orientation is a result of the fall of humanity into a sinful condition that pervades every person. Whatever biological or familial roots of homosexuality may be discovered, we do not believe that these would sanction or excuse homosexual behavior, though they would deepen our compassion and patience for those who are struggling to be free from sexual temptations.

3. We believe there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative in which the power of sin is broken and the person is freed to know and experience his or her true identity in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.

4. We believe that this freedom is attained through a process which includes recognizing homosexual behavior as sin, renouncing the practice of homosexual behavior, rediscovering healthy, non-erotic friendships with people of the same sex, embracing a moral sexual lifestyle, and in the age to come, rising from the dead with a new body free from every sinful impulse. This process parallels the similar process of sanctification needed in dealing with heterosexual temptations as well. We believe that this freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of his Spirit.

5. We believe that all persons have been created in the image of God and should be accorded human dignity. We believe therefore that hateful, fearful, unconcerned harassment of persons with a homosexual orientation should be repudiated. We believe that respect for persons with a homosexual orientation involves honest, reasoned, nonviolent sharing of facts concerning the immorality and liability of homosexual behavior. On the other hand, endorsing behavior which the Bible disapproves endangers persons and dishonors God.

6. We believe that Christian churches should reach out in love and truth to minister to people touched by homosexuality, and that those who contend Biblically against their own sexual temptation should be patiently assisted in their battle, not ostracized or disdained. However, the more prominent a leadership role or modeling role a person holds in a church or institution of the Conference, the higher will be the expectations for God's ideal of sexual obedience and wholeness. We affirm that both heterosexual and homosexual persons should find help in the church to engage in the Biblical battle against all improper sexual thoughts and behaviors.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Maki's Birthday

What a beautiful day today... with helpful kids too! : )
After enjoying a "relaxing" morning together, I let Mommy relax a bit more by taking Noah outside. Noah and I thought this plant was pretty cool. Any idea what it is? (Noah tried to eat it, but I thought it best not to let him!)

After some friends came over to babysit, Maki and I made our way to a nice restaurant.
I was just a little surprised by the portion size. Looks like we're going for a Big Mac after this!
Thankfully, there were a variety of courses before and after! And, it was pretty tasty too.
After returning home we had some family time. All in all, a great day... I would agree with Maki on that one. Thanks also to all of you who sent Maki notes! She really appreciated all the love.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What is a Christ-Follower?

Being a Christ-follower, or a disciple, means loving the gospel - loving the grace of God, and being changed by it. I found this to be a great quote - maybe the quote of the day:

"Practically, gospel-centered gets at what motivates a disciple of Jesus. It means that neither obedience nor disobedience is central, but the grace of God in the person of Christ working through the presence of the Spirit in us." - Jonathan Dodson

Friday, September 11, 2009

Review of Christian Hedonism

John Piper writes:

Here are eight biblical reasons to pursue your greatest and longest satisfaction in God.

1) We are commanded to pursue satisfaction.

Psalm 100:2: “Serve the Lord with gladness!” Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord.”

2) We are threatened if we don’t pursue satisfaction in God.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies.”

3) The nature of faith teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

4) The nature of evil teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Jeremiah 2:12-13: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

5) The nature of conversion teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

6) The call for self-denial teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Mark 8:34-36: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

7) The demand to love people teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 12:2: “For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross.” Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

8) The demand to glorify God teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Philippians 1:20-21: “It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . Christ will be [glorified] in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (final and total satisfaction in him).”

Therefore, I invite you to join George Mueller, the great prayer warrior and lover of orphans, in saying, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.” In this way, we will be able to suffer the loss of all things in the sacrifices of love, and “count it all joy.”

Spurgeon on Calvinism

"Think not that I come here to defend the human side of salvation at the expense of the divine; nor am I desirous to magnify the divine side of it at the expense of the human; rather would I beseech you to look at the two texts which are together before us, and to be prepared to receive both sets of truths. I think it a very dangerous thing to say that the truth lies between the two extremes. It does not: the truth lies in the two, in the comprehension of both; not in taking a part from this and a part from that, toning down one and modulating the other, as is too much the custom, but in believing and giving full expression to everything that God reveals whether we can reconcile the things or not, opening our hearts as children open their understandings to their father's teaching, feeling that if the gospel were such that we could make it into a complete system, we might be quite sure it was not God's gospel, for any system that comes from God must be too grand for the human brain to grasp at one effort; and any path that He takes must extend too far beyond the line of our vision for us to make a nice little map of it, and mark it out in squares.

This world, you know, we can readily enough map. Go and get charts, and you shall find that men of understanding have indicated almost every rock in the sea, almost every hamlet on the land; but they cannot map out the heavens in that way, for albeit that you can buy the celestial atlas, yet as you are well enough aware there is not one in ten thousand of the stars that can possibly be put there; when they are resolved by the telescope they become altogether innumerable, and so far exceed all count that it is impossible for us to reckon them up in order and say, that is the name of this, and this is the name of that. We must leave them: they are beyond us. There are deeps into which we cannot peer; even the strongest glass cannot show us much more than a mere corner of the starry worlds.

Thus too is it with the doctrines of the gospel: they are too bright for our weak eyes, too sublime for our finite minds to scan, save at a humble distance. Be it ours to take all we can of their solemn import, to believe them heartily, accept them gratefully, and then fall down before the Lord, and pour out our very souls in worshiping him."

- Charles Spurgeon, The Father's Will