Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Wind Blows Where it Will...

It goes without saying that Western culture continues its slide into moral chaos and darkness. Here in the United States we debate and get all in a frenzy about who gets to use what public bathroom. It is obvious that at many different levels in American culture, Christianity has been minimized and marginalized. There simply is no "moral majority" as it was once defined back in the early 1980's. We see that specifically in the course of our national politics during this current Presidential election year.

The time will soon come and is already knocking at the door when American culture's growing animus and hostility towards Christian faith will flush away the remains and residue of any easy pop "Christianity", and we will find out that to be a Christian and to be faithful to the Gospel is going to cost us those privileges we once thought inviolable. Are you ready to continue giving financially to your church even when you can no longer declare that giving as a charitable deduction on your Federal income tax return? Or what will you do when your church and ministry buildings become subject to local property tax assessments? Those question are just the tip of the iceberg when outright scorn and ridicule and persecution of Christian faith becomes an entrenched part of public policy.

My concern is that amidst the ever growing signs of the approaching whirlwind of God's judgement on a godless secular materialistic narcissistic culture, the church, and the broader evangelical church in particular, will still be caught up in a "we can fix it" mentality where we desperately seek the right incantations to speak and the right rituals to perform that will somehow twist God's arm to the point where He will be forced to take up our "cause".

News flash: God only has one overarching cause, and that one cause is His own glory period. Everything else is subsidiary to His glory.

Our problem in the broader church at large is we have not been brought to the point of utter desperation where all our confidence in our fancy programs and latest evangelical fads and ideas have been stripped away and we are flat on our back with nowhere else to look but up. God will not allow us to claim any glory that rightfully is His alone. We can not make "revival". Revival is the work of the almighty free and sovereign God; the free and sovereign moving of the Holy Spirit working through the proclaimed word of God in the hearts and minds of lost and desperately needy sinners.

We desperately need an outpouring and movement of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, in the lives of our local congregations and our wider local communities, in the church at large, and in an increasingly viciously wicked culture. We can not bring that about by anything of our own saying or doing. It will only happen as a free and sovereign work and moving of God for His own glory. We are left to pleading and begging and desperately crying out that God in sovereign merciful grace for His own glory would grant that outpouring and movement of His Spirit. And in the meantime, revival or not, persecution and distress notwithstanding, we are to remain a faithful remnant; faithful to the Gospel once delivered to the saints.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

~ Isaiah 64:1-2

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Better a Millstone...

As much as I would rather not, I find I need to say a little something about the recent issues/scandal at the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). The Christianity Today story regarding the Donn Ketcham affair can be found here. As well the ABWE statement regarding this long festering sad tragedy can be found here.

A number of years ago I had providential occasion to see the effect of this sordid affair on one of Donn Ketcham's children. The scars this adult son was carrying were obvious and clearly deeply felt even though at the time I did not know the source of that pain in his life. I also have an acquaintance who was an ABWE MK, and whose family was serving in Bangladesh at the time Ketcham was there engaging in his wicked acts. It is clear that very serious errors in judgement were made by a number of ABWE leaders at several high levels that resulted in justice and righteousness being denied. That said I affirm my personal confidence in the spiritual integrity and honesty of the individual ABWE missionaries around the world that our church currently supports. May God give much grace, mercy and healing to the victims of this obviously evil man who now has had to more fully answer to Christ's church for his wicked actions.

I get angry when I see a church or organization use the "tell it not in Gath" excuse to cover up serious, even criminal wrong doing, or attempt to generalize or minimize such a scandal instead of facilitating fuller public disclosure that would shed light on how deep the actual failure of a particular person, usually a pastor or other "respected" leader was. Inevitably in those cases the victim is victimized again and justice and righteousness is not realized. The result is, as it has been in the ABWE-Ketcham case, the gospel and the work of the gospel is harmed by an even worse scandal.

" Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!"

~ Matthew 18:4-7