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A Lament for Sally (and the rest of us)

There is a difference between freedom and autonomy (literally, self-law).  Freedom allows flourishing within a defined context conducive to life.  To bloom bright and beautiful, flowers are “constrained” by their need for water, good soil, and sun.  Autonomy demands the right to redefine terms and refuse any restraint.  Pop culture and political activists in black robes have made it clear:  We demand autonomy.  No fixed definitions for social institutions and therefore none for us as individuals.  We demand the right to self-define, no matter whose freedom gets trampled in the process and no matter who gets hurt, including ourselves. As we will increasingly see, but will likely keep refusing to learn, self-definition is self-destruction.

The following satire is barely hyperbolic.  As these recent articles show – doctors in Belgium to kill healthy 24 year old  and  Aggressive pursuit of the right to die – this scenario is now nightmarishly close to materializing.    

Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?

Guest Blogger: Michael LeFebvre 

Dr. LeFebvre is the pastor of Christ Church on the west side on Indianapolis, IN, and editor of The Gospel and Sexual Orientation. This post was originally given as a talk in January of 2014 and has an audio link at the bottom of this article.

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The title for this morning’s workshop points our thoughts in two directions. The title is, “Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?” This question confronts us on two levels.

First, and in my view most importantly, it confronts us on the personal level. For those who personally experience this battle, it can often feel hopeless. The phrase that we hear so often today, and that captures this feeling of hopelessness, is the phrase, “You cannot pray the gay away.” That popular phrase communicates hopelessness to those who experience same-sex temptations. Furthermore, by citing prayer as the cure that fails (“you cannot pray the gay away”), that popular phrase is a direct challenge to the church—indeed, to Christ as the one who has let us down. In the face of such a message, how is a Christian caught in this battle to feel? Is this battle, faced on the personal level, a losing battle?

Secondly, this question […]

Are My Children Christians?

Children. They’re a blessing from the Lord, right? Absolutely! But if you’re a parent you know that these little people are the source of more fear, anxiety, and worry than anything else in all of life. We are constantly concerned about our children—their health, their development, their personalities, their habits, their choices, and their friends. There’s enough there to gray the hair quite quickly! Yet, for every Christian parent there’s a concern that goes deeper than all of these: is my child a Christian?

If you’re a parent you know that’s a question that is often asked. It’s a question that keeps you up at night. It’s a question over which you have prayed time and time again. It’s a question that reverberates in your heart when you hear the shocking and sad news of a miscarriage or the death of a little one. And it’s a question that inevitably arises when your three old sons asks, “Daddy, am I going to heaven?” How do you answer that question?

[pullquote]My opinion and your opinion of our children–however optimistic or pessimistic that may be–is not the determining factor.[/pullquote] Well, I hope it’s evident to you that my opinion and your opinion of our children–however optimistic or pessimistic […]

Openness, Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield

In these “trans-whatever” times, our world is so very confused about identity.  Following hot on the (high) heels of Bruce Jenner introducing himself as Caitlyn, we now have the spectacle of Rachel Dolezal.  She is the president of the local Spokane NAACP chapter who, turns out, is not the African-American-with-multiple-racial-hate-crimes-committed-against-her that she claimed to be.  As one writer asks in the title of his article, “If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?“.   One can only imagine what further jumbling of identity the next news cycle will bring.

Oh, that a voice of clarity with charity might speak into this muddled mess!

One has.

Following the great interest created by her first book, The Secret Thought of an Unlikely Convert, the autobiographical story of her journey from being a leftist lesbian professor to a follower of Christ, Rosaria Butterfield has now written Openness, Unhindered.  In a work that could not be more timely, written in her engaging and compassionate prose, Rosaria offers a clear-minded treatise on what true identity is (including but not limited to sexual identity) and how it is to be discovered and nurtured.  With great depth of insight into the inner heart battles all men and women share; interaction with a […]

An Idea for Family Worship

Lately, I’ve been taking different podcast episodes and chopping them up into bite-sized portions for family worship. We listen for 10-15 minutes and discuss the subject matter, scrutinizing the worldview through a Christian lens. While it isn’t a bible study, per se, I think there is value in introducing teenagers to the various streams of secular thought influencing culture.

Here are a few that might be of interest to you:

• Point of Inquiry: Peter Singer: Maximizing Morality with Reason

• Unbelievable? Does Scripture Forbid Same-Sex Relationships? Robert Gagnon vs Jayne Ozanne

• Evan May, pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans, has given us an excellent presentation on the problem of evil. It will provide a good framework for further discussion. This is more advanced, and so it should only be used with older children.

The Tender Heart of the Mother

For your encouragement in anticipation of Mothers’ Day, the following are the reflections of D. S. Faris on his mother Nancy Faris (1806-1881) upon her death. Earlier this week, this article highlighted her husband. In a biographical sketch, her son wrote of her life, including her industrious nature and business savvy; these selected paragraphs sample his praise for her motherly virtue. She raised seven sons and one daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord. May the Lord continue to raise up such mothers:

Her talk to the children was from the heart to the heart. Besides teaching them the catechisms she gave them practical lessons about heaven, hell, God and Christ, justification and good works. From her lips I first learned the sinfulness of sin, and that self-righteousness will not justify.

It is the mother that makes the coming man. Her husband may be the pattern, but she does the molding and finishing. So long as there are sterling mothers, we can be sure of the coming generation. But the decay of womanly virtue brings the wreck of morality and manhood. It may be that woman did her best when she contented herself with giving to the world sons and daughters brought […]

That Last Old Testament Verse

Often home schooling advocates and family ministry speakers quote the last verse of the Old Testament.  Malachi 4:6 brings the Old Testament to its conclusion with this promise about life in the age of Christ: “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Clearly, calling people to claim a Scriptural promise that Christ’s ministry will restore healthy relationships between parents and children is a beautiful hope to offer them.

However, though that might be a possible application of this verse, it is not the proper interpretation of it.

In their classic commentary on the Old Testament, Keil & Delitsch state the following:

The meaning of this is not that he will settle disputes in families, or restore peace between parents and children; for the leading sin of the nation at the time of our prophet was not family quarrels, but estrangement from God. The fathers are rather the ancestors of the Israelite(ish) nation, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and generally the pious forefathers, such as David and the godly men of his time. The sons or children are the degenerate descendants of Malachi’s own time and the succeeding ages.”

They go on to explain that […]

A Garden Afar

Over vales and fields,

lies a garden afar.

The beauty of its three flowers

call to me.

So I travel winding road 

for a day to gaze upon,

to joy in,

and to learn from them.

~~~~~

The first, a bright crocus, 

puts springtime delight 

in a heart shivering over 

her wintry surroundings.

As I bow to smell 

her playful fragrance,

and feel chubby, little petals against my cheek,

I wonder how one so small

– and too far away –

can put such great love

in a grandfather’s heart?

~~~~~

My next flower is a bold tulip –

how colorful, grace-filled, and statuesque she stands!

The snows melt away

before her charming aroma,

her radiant joy,

and the musical glory of springtime

she sends forth heavenward.

The father longs for the times

his tulip was in garden near;

yet gives thanks that Another

cares for her so well.

~~~~~

The last flower, a fading red rose,

has drooping head

and slowly dropping petals.

The cruel winter

has been so […]

Brothers, Love Your Sisters

With so much talk of brotherly love in the Scriptures, it is sad that there are too few expressions of it witnessed in familial life. Especially in brothers loving their sisters.  Often it seems that brothers are too busy for sisters and bothered with their interests. With so many young ladies looking for attention in all the wrong places these days, you wonder how different things would be if brothers simply loved their sisters.

Yet that raises the question.  Brother, how do you love your sister?  Here are five simple encouragements.

Listen to her. As my own family of three boys and three girls grew, with the genders alternating boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl, each brother had a younger sister looking up to him.  I noticed every day that the younger sister wanted to talk and tell the older brother what was going on in the home, in her thoughts, in our lives.  Brother, you can learn to love your sister by putting down the ball or turning away from the screen for a few minutes, looking your sister in the eyes, and listening to what she is wanting to tell you.  Let her know that when she needs to talk to someone, you will be one person that will […]

What Has Love Got to Do With It?

When John writes, ‘Beloved, let us love one another’, what does he mean, and does it matter?  Is it not a bit liberal to be writing about love on a Reformation blog post.  Surely we are about ‘Doctrine, Truth, Discipline, Stewardship etc.’   Well, yes we are, but God says, if we don’t get what love is and do it, we are sunk, regardless of how outwardly correct we may appear to be.

What does John mean when he says, ‘Let us love one another?’   Well we need to begin with a definition of love?  We can’t take the Humpty Dumpty route who, when having a discussion with Alice about the meaning of words says, “when I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean, nothing more or nothing less.”  Love can’t be a word that we use and abuse dependent on what we want it to mean, or who we want it to influence or effect.

So what does ‘love’ mean?  Well there is a very simple and clear definition of ‘love’.  It is found in the root source of ‘love’.  Trace ‘love’ to its source, and there you will find God, for God is love.  ‘Love’ is neither an attribute […]