Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jesus and Healthcare

The Supreme Court declared Obamacare to be constitutional this week. Whatever you think of that (and there is a wide variety of thoughts on that), it prompts me to respond to the claim that we (as Christians particularly) need to support “universal health care” because of Jesus and our call to be incarnational like He was.

So here’s my response:

If you are going to invoke Jesus’ healing as a basis for healthcare, shouldn't you also invoke Jesus' methods?

First, Jesus didn't heal everyone. He intentionally walked away from needy people in order to preach the gospel such as in Mark 1:32-38, though you don't hear that much in missional teaching. I don’t mean that sarcastically. People just seem to skip right over that. The fact is that Jesus showed his love by walking away from needy and hurting people in order to preach the gospel to others. What are all the implications of that? Well, I suggest it at least deserves some consideration.

Second, when he did heal, he didn't do it through hospitals, medicine (unless you count mud made out of spit), insurance (government or private), or free care. He did it through miracles.

Simply put, it seems to me that invoking Jesus in this is inappropriate, unless you are going to heal only some people only through miracles and leave the rest on their own so that you can preach the gospel to people who haven’t heard it.

So if you want to be like Jesus, heal some people through miracles and then leave a long line of sick and hurting people so that you can go preach in another town.

None of that is to say that healthcare (universal or not) is a bad thing. I happen to like health care. I happen to think everyone should have it. But that’s not because of what Jesus did on earth. It’s because all humans are created in the image of God and we need to honor that image by caring for it.

This is simply to warn about violating the third commandment by using the name of God the Son in vain. Jesus’ methods do not support (or refute) health care. They are about something entirely different, namely, proving that Jesus was the God the Son who can save sinners by reconciling them to the Father through His own death.

And that message must be preached because that’s a whole lot more important because it is eternal. Eventually all health care will fail and people will need to stand before God. At that point, “Brother So-and-So lived so missionally he got me health insurance” will not do a lot of good.

Brysen Chesterfield

This past week we welcomed Brysen Chesterfield to our family. He was born Monday, June 25, at 6:42 p.m. He checked in at 7 lbs and 4 oz, and 20 inches.

His middle name is Jan's dad's middle name. To my sadness, I never knew her dad, but I wanted to honor him, and I like the name. I told Jan it sounds like it needs a number after it, like Brysen Chesterfield II or something. But we skipped that part.

He's a keeper. Hopefully today, we will get him up and walking around. He's had a day or so to relax and now it's time to start carrying his weight around here. This laying around and sleeping all the time has to stop. 

Around the Horn

First, here’s a good article about Eisenhower’s D-Day decision. It was a tough one on a number of different fronts. Ike knew that he was sending thousands of men to their death. To look them in the eye and send them on their way is a tough decision. Our decisions are typically much easier, and we probably don’t do as well.

Second, here’s a good word on marriage. The only slight modification I would make is to this statement: “The fact that your marriage is now in bad shape PROVES the truth of the gospel.” This is, IMO, an unwarranted expansion of the “gospel.” The gospel is the hope for this marriage. The gospel is not proved true by the temporal consequences of people’s sin; it is proved necessary. But the bad shape of the marriage actually proves the truth of the whole teaching of the Bible on marriage, not just the gospel. The reason people’s marriages are blown up is most often because they disregard God’s instructions about life.

Third, and speaking of marriage, Doug Wilson did a few talks on homosexuality at Indiana University. If the video trailers are any indication, it wasn’t well received. I haven’t been able to watch it yet, but Wilson is pretty good at stuff like this, and so it should be good.

And last, Ed Young, Jr. (he of “Bed on the Roof” gimmick last year and Pastor Fashion) has spoken to the great debate about Reformed soteriology (it begins about halfway through part 4). Young mocks a church that baptized only 26 people. Erik at the Ordinary Pastor talks about it here. I think there are some problems in the modern reformed movement. BTW, speaking of fashion, does anyone else think he looks a little like Pat Boone stuck in a suit left over from high school in the 80s? Seriously, the suit looks a size too small in a fashion thirty years late. Yikes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some Thoughts on Missions (Not From Me)

Here are two things worth your time and careful listening:

This first is a message by David Sitton from the 2006 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference entitled Missionary Martyrs: Fools for Jesus for the Nations.

The second is a panel discussion on missions with David Sitton, David Sills, and Jason Mandryk.

I highly recommend them.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Holiness is far more than an inclination toward occasional acts of kindness and charity. It is a commitment to persistent surrender before God

Persistence doesn’t make sense unless we live with a keen sense of eternity.

Christian endurance is based on the idea that there is another life, commonly known as heaven, which is eternal, and for which this life is preparation. The coming world is so glorious, weighted with so much honor, that it is worth making sacrifices now to receive glory and honor and immortality there.”

(Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy, culled from pp. 108-110)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Around the Horn

Early this week, but here goes:

Here’s a good article on short-term mission trips. It draws an interesting comparison, particularly concerning the exporting of American Christianity in English to places who have neither the language, the American Christian culture, nor the resources to sustain it. I, and many others, have been personally benefited by short-term missions, so they are not worthless. But they are dangerous in that they present a view of missions that isn’t realistic, and can put a tremendous burden on the missionary while not accomplishing much that is actually helpful to him.

Here’s a good article on The Profile of an Abuser. There are some interesting ironies for consideration here. It is often said that it is easy to miss an abuser because they look and acts just like everyone else. 

Here’s an interesting page with pictures of the libraries or studies of some famous people, like Churchill, William F. Buckley, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, and some others. As much as I would like to be like some of these people, I think I am most like William F. Buckley, at least in my office.

The home run this week is this article about Lou Zamperini and Peter Carroll. If you haven’t read Unbroken yet, you should. It will be well worth every minute it takes you, and you will find they go by quickly when reading Unbroken. It is the best WWII history book I have read, and one of the best books period in many ways. You will probably think the same after reading it.

If You Know Single People …

If you know any single people, then this is a good post with a series of links to be familiar with.

Most single people want to get married, and most probably need to give more thought than they do.

(As always, read with discernment. Remember that a link here does not mean that I endorse any of all of what the site might say elsewhere. I hate having to say that but this is not my first rodeo.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

In the News: Evangelism on the Head of a Pig

I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that taunting Muslims with the head of a pig probably isn’t the best way to open doors to the gospel.

I suppose you can call me a chicken or compromised or something, but it just doesn’t ring true to what I see in the Bible about how we should go about evangelizing.

Regardless of our strong commitment to the gospel, we must have some basic common sense when talking to people.

As has often been said, the gospel is offensive enough. Let’s not add to it by the way we present it. If someone is going to reject the gospel, let’s make sure it is the gospel, not us or our methods, that they reject.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Around the Horn

John Thomas writes on Five Mistakes of a Church Planter. They are probably mistakes of pastors of established churches as well. It is worth reading and considering.

Scot McKnight links to this Wall Street Journal article, “Are Pop Songs Getting Sadder?” It begins with this assertion: “As measured by key and tempo — and setting lyrics aside —pop music has gotten gloomier since the ’60s.” It’s a strange source for the affirmation that keys and tempos carry meaning without word. In other words, music is moral. It has meaning even when you set the lyrics aside.

Here’s an interesting article on the senses, and the way we have distorted life by filling it with technological noise. You won’t like all the emphases, but it’s a good reminder to stop and smell the roses sometimes. And not just metaphorically.

And on Father’s Day weekend, this isn’t a bad reminder.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finally …

At long last, we have discovered a level of government regulation the Democrats don’t like. We have found where the line is.

Unfortunately, it’s drawn squarely at the graves of the unborn, most of whom never make it to the grave. They are unceremoniously disposed of long before then.

This week, the Michigan Legislature was considering a bill to “increase insurance and regulations on abortion clinics, regulate the disposal of fetal remains, prohibit the use of teleconferences to prescribe abortion medication and make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion.”

It’s hard to imagine what the downside of this is. What exactly is there to object to here?

But thirty-nine Democrats objected to it, anyway. It still passed with sixty-four Republican votes and six Democratic defectors. (So much for “They are all alike.” They are only mostly alike.)

To be clear, I object to this bill because it’s toothless. It will not do one single substantial thing to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

In the name of women’s health, millions of young women (not to mention men) will be murdered, and this bill won’t stop that.

In a bizarre turn of events, a couple of women legislator’s chime in, making some rather absurd comments, both in the original article and in a follow up session. A follow up article says this:

And Byrum [one of the female legislators'] was gaveled out of order after she protested when she wasn’t allowed to speak on her amendment to the bill that would have required proof of a medical emergency or that a man’s life was in danger before a doctor could perform a vasectomy.

It’s hard to believe that this woman actually equated a vasectomy with an abortion.

Have we really stooped so low in our moral judgment that we don’t recognize the fundamental difference between sterilization and taking a human life?

Can we do no better than this?

Sadly, I imagine we probably can’t.

Unfortunately, millions of people are being systematically eradicated in a modern day movement that makes the Nazi Holocaust look small. The Nazi’s exterminated six million (6,000,000) people in about four years.

Modern society reaches that number about every fifty-two days (115,000 abortions per day worldwide; 42 million each year [42,000,000]) (source).

In America, the Holocaust takes place just about every five years (1.2 million abortions each year; five years to reach six million [source]).

The difference is that the Allied Armies, led by American courage and principle, isn’t standing up for these modern Holocaust victims like they did for the previous Holocaust victims. Maybe it’s because there’s no real courage or principle when it comes to defending the weakest Americans. There’s only politics.

These little ones are indeed the victims of politics,not to mention selfishness, lack of moral courage and integrity, and a gross deficiency of responsibility.

If 600,000 women were being brutally dismembered and chopped up and thrown out with the trash every year on the streets of America, there would be outrage, public demonstrations, and probably violence that not even the National Guard could quell.

But because these 600,000 women (and 600,000 men) are being dismembered, chopped up, and thrown out with the trash in doctor’s offices, we call it health care.

Strange health care, it seems to me.

May God help us and have mercy on us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time on the Military and Abortion

Al Mohler links to a short article in Time Magazine on the unavailability of abortion for women in the military unless they pay for it themselves outside a military hospital. This applies even in the cases of sexual assault.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sponsored a bill to allow abortions for servicewomen in the cases of rape. It has passed the committee on a 16-10 vote.

This brings up yet again one of the ugly sides of the pro-abortion movement.

In this act, the worth of a child’s life is judged by his father’s actions. Because his father is a rapist, the child is denied the basic right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our military is supposed to be defending.

It is inexcusable that in the twenty-first century we live in a land where someone can be killed simply because their father is a criminal.

These are the acts of lawless people from uncivilized cultures. These are the acts of criminals and terrorists. They are not the acts of freedom loving people.

It’s time for America to stop the charade that allows people to be killed for the sins of their father.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Around the Horn

At first, the Danish government has apparently mandated that churches must perform same-sex marriages. I say apparently because when I read stories like this, I always wonder what is not being said. However, since this is not a Christian source, it likely has no reason to paint it worse than it actually is. Is this coming to America? I doubt it since the outcry would be deafening. But if it does, it won’t be a big deal for the church. Pastors are not now required to perform any marriages. I do so at my own discretion, and I have managed to chase off most couples in the first counseling session or two. If it became “perform them all,” I simply would refuse to perform any. But I doubt the sky is falling yet.

At second, some in the SBC came out recently with a document entitled “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” Others have commented on it (Roger Olson, Al Mohler, John Aloisi, Kevin Bauder, and more), and there are some significant problems with it. If anything, I think this will increase the divide over the issue because of the number of people who are not willing to embrace what is essentially a semi-Pelagian view of man. And part of the problem is that many of the defenders don’t seem to know what that even is.

In honor of the Triple Crown, at third this time around, is the news that I’ll Have Another, the horse that won the first two legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness) was pulled out of the Belmont Stakes this past weekend. CBS reports that it was a choice to make money over making history. No horse has won the Triple Crown since 1977 when Secretariat won it, though a number of horses won the first two. The Belmont Stakes weeds them out since it is a longer run. But the owners of I’ll Have Another decided to go for the big payday that comes from stud fees (fathering other horses in hopes of producing a champion race horse), rather than the glory that comes from winning.

And last, it’s a sad day for NPR and all lovers of Car Talk. Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers (actually Tom and Ray Magliozzi) are signing off for the last time. Car Talk was a Saturday program on NPR about car repair that was quite humorous. It was one of my favorite shows on NPR. Fortunately, the producers will create some reruns that will continue to air.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Problem with Kittens

Ogden Nash was reported to have said,

The trouble with a kitten is that
eventually it becomes a cat.

On this theme, the problem with Christian teenagers is that they become Christian adults. Thomas Berger gives an interesting perspective on this in this insightful article on the Juvenilization of American Christianity.

Juvenilization happened when no one was looking. In the first stage, Christian youth leaders created youth-friendly versions of the faith in a desperate attempt to save the world. Some hoped to reform their churches by influencing the next generation. Others expected any questionable innovations to stay comfortably quarantined in youth rallies and church basements. Both groups were less concerned about long-term consequences than about immediate appeals to youth.

In the second stage, a new American adulthood emerged that looked a lot like the old adolescence. Fewer and fewer people outgrew the adolescent Christian spiritualities they had learned in youth groups; instead, churches began to cater to them.