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Archive | Mercy

Do Justice

In mercy ministry, often Micah 6:8 is used for motivation and guidance for obvious reasons.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

So many churches and relief agencies want to be merciful and give every indication of being those who “love kindness.” But what about that justice part?

The liberal gospel of the last century has fueled several generations of mercy work in ecclesiastical, missions, relief work, and government quarters. Generally speaking, this influence has created a mercy paradigm practiced in the West that has resulted in such things as aid without accountability, food without thought instead of food for thought, and works that make us feel good but do not help people become good.

However, one cannot be one dimensional in mercy work. To truly help others out of the pit of poverty, a triple-corded “justice-doing, mercy-loving, humble-walking” rope must be offered to them.

In this “I-just-want-to-be-loved” age, that justice strand can be the most difficult one to cultivate and intertwine with the others. What are some ways “doing justice” can be encouraged in mercy ministry? Here are five ideas.

Preserve initiative. Often mercy ministries dim the drive […]

Learning More about Caring for the Widow

How does one help the widow practically? Even as I am currently teaching a class on mercy at the seminary, I am being taught this anew by my congregation.

On Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of joining around twenty men and young boys at the home of Nellie, who with her four young children tragically lost their husband and father a few years ago. One of the elders in our congregation, Herb, has organized a remodeling project on her old farmhouse that the congregation has slowly but surely been working on over that time. A new porch and kitchen have already been added, and the next phase will add on some living space and much needed bedrooms. In order to accomplish this goal, the old kitchen had to be torn off the back of the house.

So that is what we did Saturday. By the time I arrived, the men, wielding crowbars and sledgehammers, had already knocked down the walls and removed much of the roof. Nellie’s dad’s truck was piled high with the beams and boards, then taken to a big pile in a nearby field to be unloaded for a future bonfire that will undoubtedly make a huge blaze. Teenage boys shoveled plaster […]

Stop the Conversation Stoppers!

As Bible-believing Christians continue to speak out against sinful, seismic social changes and against atrocities enacted in the name of health care, they are met with predictable charges of hypocrisy.  “You have no right to protest when people of your faith fail so miserably to tangibly care for the people you claim to champion.”  Despite the civilization shaking significance of the evil these Christians decry, some people are far more interested in decrying (sometimes without specific example) the evil of Christian hypocrisy.  The mere existence of Christian hypocrisy apparently invalidates all public Christian protests.   We could expect such thinking and accusations from opponents of Christianity.   What’s unnerving is that these predictable accusations and the imbalanced moral outrage they represent are coming more and more from Bible-believing Christians.      

Poor Laws in an Age of False Beneficence

Whether it is teaching classes on mercy ministry or counseling with others on a case involving someone needy, again and again I find the church struggling to know what to do in helping the poor.  Often I start by telling folks that it is good they are struggling, because every situation will be difficult to discern.  Beware of the one who comes in with the quick, easy answer!

But then I also will ask, “What does the Bible have to say in cases like this one?”  People often fumble around a bit at this question.  Usually a mention of how we have an obligation to care for the needy or a reference to the story of the Good Samaritan is offered by the sensitive, tender-hearted ones on the one hand; and remarks about the poor needing to learn to work or how we cannot be giving handouts to every drunkard comes from the bolder, more stout-hearted folks on the other.  Too infrequently do I hear a reasoned articulation coming from the Scriptures that echoes with the proper Micah 6:8 blend: “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The location of this verse just quoted explains why.  Notice Micah 6:8 is in the Old Testament. […]

Mercy and the Westminster Publick Directory of Worship

In teaching on mercy ministry in Reformed settings, I often use the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) to make a point. The RPW teaches that we are only to worship God as He commands us to do so in Scripture. In considering matters of worship, many Reformed Christians, rightly so, insist on regulating carefully by the Word of God what takes place in the church’s worship of God.

So as I address mercy and worship, I like to say there is another RPW.  Not only must we be careful to regulate our worship according to God’s Word, but we must also be diligent to insure that God’s Word is regulating us, especially in the area of mercy. Repeatedly, God’s Word emphasizes as we come into His presence that He is examining us to see if we are caring for the poor, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan as we ought.  Just two samples among dozens that could be given:

God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  Rescue the weak and needy; […]

Real-Life Narnia

“The stories of Narnia seem childish to some. But to others, they are utterly transformative. For the latter group, these evocative stories affirm that it is possible for the weak and foolish to have a noble calling in a dark world; that our deepest intuition will point us to the true meaning of things; that there is indeed something beautiful and wonderful at the heart of the universe, and that this must be found, embraced, and adored….(Lewis) borrowed and scripted (a story) that he already knew well, and had found to be true and trustworthy – the Christian narrative of Creation, Fall, redemption, and final consummation… the Narnia stories allow us to step inside and experience the Christian story” (Alister McGrath 2013)

Have you ever wished you could be transported to Narnia? Or at least be transformed by it as you step inside and experience the Christian story – and then see that worked out in real life? Well, it is happening in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Greg Enas and Don Palmer are calling Christian brothers at a common stage in life to do the same through an invigorating group named Narnia Indiana. Narnia gathers men from around the city who are mostly in […]

Immigration and the Law of God

Toward the end of his speech last week on immigration, President Obama quoted from the Bible when he said:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal — that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

The outcry about the president using Scripture has been loud.  Some debated which Scripture he was quoting.  Conservatives appeared to be angry he used a Scripture quote, noting his failure to apply it in other situations such as same-sex marriages.  Predictably, liberals laughed more at the conservative reaction than questioning […]

Qualifying our Ever-So-Merciful Consciences

The church is called to be a merciful people. Jesus has called us to extend mercy as we preach the gospel through the nations.  Sometimes, it seems, at least here in the U.S.A.,  as though we go out of our way to footnote, qualify, and  give restrictions on how that mercy is to be distributed. We often err on the side of doing nothing rather than on the side of doing too much. If I am ever in a position where I need mercy extended to me…  I hope that the church errs on the side of grace. Maybe loving our neighbor would cause us to do likewise.

Or maybe not…. we should check the footnotes to be sure.