Saturday, August 30, 2008

Idolatry, Take 2

The issue is not a political one. Republicans or democrats, no human can stand in the place of the Savior. And yet so many of us turn to them in worship. Eighty-five thousand people did on Thursday night. Idolatry, ultimately, is a flawed, failed attempt to find salvation. Golden calves, sex, money, Obamas, McCains. Though people turn to these idols positively--they do so for the sake of happiness, love and acceptance--the result is always negative. Idols are only able to offer promises. Christ gives life.


After Barak Obama's nomination speech, Oprah was interviewed. She remarked that the event was the most amazing thing she'd ever been a part of. Kanye West, who was standing next to her, agreed. He said, "This has changed my life." Oprah quickly affirmed that. It too had changed her life.

Down Syndrome Birth? Good for You

From Time Magazine on newly selected VP candidate Sarah Palin:

"She’s a committed Christian who’s pro-life in practice as well as in theory; she recently gave birth to a son that she knew would have Down Syndrome."

I suppose in a culture of death like ours, her choosing life should be applauded. At the same time, however, it's horrific that such a decision is considered unusual.

Friday, August 29, 2008

He Completes Us

HT: Hotair

Trig Palin

It's just been announced that McCain's VP choice is Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska. That is newsworthy. But more interesting to me is the story of her son who was born this last April. The Palin family learned last year that her fifth child would likely be born with Down syndrome. They rejected the option of abortion out of hand and now have a healthy, happy baby boy named Trig. An amazing story. Read Al Mohler's piece on their story here.

My favorite quote came from the husband when he found out the news that his son would probably have Down syndome. He said, "We shouldn't be asking, 'Why us?' We should be saying, 'Well, why not us?'"


I Think God is Trying to Tell Me Something

I said I wasn't going to write on adoption more today. I guess I was wrong.

This was an editorial in the WSJ journal today.
Al Mohler responds.

Similarly to Bradley, Mohler writes:

"Given the vast number of at-risk orphans in the world -- now numbering in the millions -- this resurgence in adoption among American evangelicals should be a matter of public celebration. In the United States, 127,000 children are considered 'unadoptable,' and many of these are racial minorities. Shouldn't the adoption of these children be a priority for the church?"

So much to think about.

Obama's "American Promise"

From Colin Hansen at CT:

"I doubt any commentators will accuse Sen. Barack Obama of using religious code language in his acceptance speech. Yet two famous New Testament passages made an appearance. As is typical of civil religion today, God was replaced by the 'American promise.'

"'Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend,' Obama said, borrowing from 2 Corinthians 4:18.

"Obama then concluded his remarks this way: 'Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.'

"This statement comes from Hebrews 10:23. But the context of this passage explains something far more beautiful than the American promise. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19-22)."

A Final Word on Adoption

Well, at least until tomorrow. Two things:

1. As I discussed the article from Bradley on adoption with my wife, we committed to pray through the tension of faith and responsibility. What I mean is that the main reason against adoption is usually responsibility. That is, it would not be responsible to adopt a child for reason X. Money, an overburdened mom, you have enough kids as it is, etc. Those are good reasons, for God calls us on us to act responsibly in this world. However, there are times when faith trumps what looks like reasoned, rational responsibility. Though we are called to be responsible with what God has given us (and he has given us everything), there are times when we'll have to step out in faith based on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Those are the times when our ability to be responsible is limited. Perhaps the money is not there right now to support extra kids, or you think your own children will be negatively affected by new siblings, or you have no idea how you'd be able to care for a special needs child. When God calls on you, you've got to be ready to put those things aside and believe that God will provide.

So how do you know if you are stepping out in faith or being irresponsible? There isn't any one way to determine that. Multiple things will help you decide. Mostly, I think, you'll just "know." And the decision to adopt, it seems, will rarely come by way of reasoned responsibility. The idea will always seem ludicrous. Yes, be responsible. But more importantly, listen to God.

2. The evangelical/missional benefits of adoption are obvious. But is that the reason you should adopt? As my wife pointed out to me, no. The reason you should adopt should be the same reason God adopted us (Eph. 1:5). Christ went to the cross. Why? "For the joy set before him," the author of Hebrews wrote. And that joy was us. Jesus Christ loved us so much that he sacrificed his life so that we might be saved. There is no difference between his impetus for adoption and ours. The sacrifice we would make in bringing home two sisters, or a little boy with a heart defect, or a teenager with social problems, would be for a single reason: our joy.

115,000 kids in foster care in America.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Steak and Strawberries

Or, I wish I lived here.

HT: Neatorama

Abortion is About God

Kids Ready Right Now

I know no one reads this blog yet, but here are kids available in Mass right now.

Adopt Like God

Anthony Bradley writes:

"America has nearly 115,000 orphaned kids in foster care waiting to be adopted. Some wonder how this is possible in a country with Christian families. Surely, there are 115,000 missional families in America, right? Missional families, for example, embrace the redemptive mission of God and practice 'true religion' in their local communities (James 1:27). Missional Christians in America could eliminate the foster care system tomorrow if we would stop 'shootin' up' with the American Dream (heroine) in order to get high on a lame life lived for the sake of comfort and ease."

This is a simultaneous kick in the chest and head by an ox. And if we could somehow survive the resulting concussion, perhaps those of us who are able will go sign up to adopt now. Can you imagine the impact that would have on our neighbors, co-workers, the world? They'll look at us and say, "Hmm, they are so self-sacrificing that they adopted kids no one else wanted." And then maybe they'll be open to the divine truth that those of us who are blood-bought believers were adopted by God.

Now who is able? Most of us. But it will take sacrifice. Like Christ at the cross.


Stem Cell Breakthrough

From the Washington Post and Rob Stein:

"Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research."

Read the whole thing.


Be Committed to Silence

Paul Trip:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things that Distract

I have been thinking a lot lately about things that distract. Yes, from family, from work, from important stuff. But mostly what distracts from Christ. Obviously, when you are distracted, you find ways to sin. Simple, tiny things at first. But they grow. Gateway sins, they say. So you have to fight it from the outset. Smokers talk about staying busy. Distract yourself. If you're thinking about something else, you lessen the desire to light up. But that is the way to stay away from things not beneficial. How do you move toward the good? The way, I think, is to do the opposite of what you would do if you wanted to quit smoking. Don't distract yourself. Christ, above everything else, demands attention. Solemn, extended, powerful attention.

Things immediately come to mind that distract, and that is where my thoughts have been lingering. TV, the computer, sports radio. Lame books, mindless magazines, thoughtless movies. This is how I get distracted. But do you know where I discovered this? In the shower. I discovered that I come up with the most profitable, helpful, imaginative things in the shower. Yes, the nudity helps. But mostly, it is the only time in my day I haven't given up to distraction. I am forced, for 10-15 minutes, to think. Washing my hair and shaving are part of my muscle memory now. So I just think. And to my stupid astonishment, I discover new and wondrous things. I discover things about myself, I create, I pray, I think of my family. Were it not for those 15 minutes of quietude, I might never have an original thought.

So what is needed? True meditation. No, not like Buddhist monks who focus on nothing. Meditate like Christ, whose single passion led him to the wilderness for 40 days, whose single passion drove him to his knees over and over. And our single passion is Him. His goodness, holiness, mercy. His righteousness, his blood.

But how? Find the time. Turn of the entertainment more regularly. Shut down your computer. Be intentional about thinking on the immeasurable greatness of God. As I have intentionally avoided distraction, and as I've looked over my shoulder at what I had become, I realize that I had been drinking motor oil when water lay they for the lapping up.

Matt Chandler gives a good list of things that distract:

-Watching too much TV and spending too much time online
-Staying up late for no reason
-Following sports too closely
-Being physically lazy
-Empty conversations (talking for hours about nothing)

And things that don't (these are personal for him):

-Early mornings and hot coffee
-The writings of John Owen (at the time it was The Mortification of Sin)
-Listening to Lauren sing
-Walks through graveyards (I know this is weird but it reminded me of mortality)
-The book of Hebrews
-Robust dialogue on ecclesiology or missiology
-Sermons by John Piper (I agree!)
-Angst-filled music

Death by Love

Scary, but illuminating. We (read=I) fail to see all the ways in which Jesus' shed blood restores and revives. This video might be creepy, but it sure shows you the extent to which Christ loves us.

Brant on Obama's Response to When Life Begins

"I won't be punching a ballot (or touching a screen) for anyone who asks, effectively, 'What is truth?' when it comes to basic who-gets-to-be-recognized-as-human issues. 'It's above my pay grade,' Obama says. 'Don't know.' So we'll err on the side of, literally, pulling babies apart."

This was a comment he made in his own comments section of this post.