Friday, March 28, 2008
If all the older women began to minister in this way, the impact would startle us all. The older women in the church are a tremendous resource, and we need to get to work doing what we do best, which is caring for people. The side benefit is that then we won’t feel at loose ends. We’ll see that we have an important place in God’s design for the Christian community, and our usefulness didn’t end when the kids all left for college. Far from it! Actually, we are just now warmed up and ready to go.
Also, here is a testimony of what a wonderful ministry this can be in a young mother's life.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
25.1 MARRIAGE is to be between one man and one woman. It is not lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at one and the same time. Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:15; Matt. 19:5,6.
25.2 God instituted marriage for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind in accordance with His laws, and for the prevention of immorality. Gen. 1:28; 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:2,9.
25.3 It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, provided that they are able to give their rational consent. But it is the duty of Christians to marry only 'in the Lord'. In consequence, those who profess the Christian faith should not contract marriages with infidels or idolaters. It is also quite unfitting for godly persons to become partners in marriage with persons who lead wicked lives or who maintain damnable heresies. Neh. 13:25-27; 1 Cor. 7:39; 1 Tim. 4:3; Heb. 13:4.
25.4 Marriage must not be contracted within the degrees of blood relationship or kinship forbidden in God's Word. Nor when such incestuous unions occur can they ever be made lawful, either by any law of man or by the consenting parties, and the persons concerned can never rightly live together as man and wife. Lev. 18; Mark 6: 18; 1 Cor. 5: 1.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Decades of high divorce rates have given rise to a generation of young adults who fear marriage. In response, the statistics show that many now live together to test their compatibility. Since 1960, America has witnessed a 12-fold increase in cohabitation from 430,000 couples to 5.4 million couples. At the same time, there's been a 50 percent plunge in the marriage rate, along with rising numbers of out-of-wedlock births.
Many of those 5.4 million couples, along with their friends and neighbors, still believe the enduing myth that cohabitation works as a sort of trial marriage. In reality, cohabitation often becomes a trial divorce. The only question is whether couples will split before or after their wedding. About 45 percent of cohabitating couples undergo what we call a "premarital divorce," which can be as painful as the real thing. The half who make it to the altar are about 50 percent more likely to divorce than those who lived apart prior to marrying. In the end, as few as 15 of every 100 couples who cohabit go on to create a lasting marriage.
By contrast, a woman who lives with a man is three times more likely to be physically abused than a married woman. If a cohabitating couple breaks up, the woman is then 18 times more likely to be harmed than a married woman. In addition, infidelity for cohabiting men is four times that of married men; for cohabiting women, infidelity is eight times more likely.God knew exactly what he was doing when he designed the marriage relationship to be an exclusive covenant relationship between one man and one woman for life.
Friday, March 14, 2008
The news this week was full of reports of an instance of the desecration of the marriage relationship. Sadly, this is not uncommon. Many of our neighbors and co-workers have so much pain and scarring from the desecration of marriage that they cannot even see God's beautiful design. As Christians, we need to cultivate fruitful marriage gardens, so that the world can see the goodness of God's plan for mankind. In so doing, we will be able to point to the ultimate husband, Jesus Christ, his bride, the church, and the highest relationship for which we were created. This Sunday we will worship the Lord by meditating on the seventh commandment together.
Holy, Holy, Holy (#3)
In the Cross of Christ I Glory (#142)
O Father, All-Creating (#727)
Give Ear unto God's Holy Word (#729)
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Take My Life, and Let It Be (#560)
Godly marriage reflects Christ and his church - Ephesians 5:22-33
The Command to Love Marriage - Deuteronomy 5:18
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The website of the Home School Legal Defense Association is a good place to keep up to date with what is going in this arena of public policy.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
24.1 AS the world's supreme Lord and King, God has instituted civil government and has set up civil authorities, subject to Himself, to rule over communities for His own glory and the public good. For these purposes to be achieved He has given them the powers of life and death, both for the safety and encouragement of all men of good behavior, and for the punishment of the wicked. Rom. 13:1-4.
24.2 It is lawful for Christians to accept and carry out the duties of public office when called upon to do so, in which case it becomes their responsibility to maintain justice and peace in accordance with the sound laws of the kingdoms and states which they serve. New Testament teaching authorizes them to wage war when this is found to be just and necessary. 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 82:3,4; Luke 3:14.
24.3 As civil rulers are set up by God for the aforesaid purposes, Christians are to be subject to them in respect of all their lawful requirements, and that, for the Lord's sake and for conscience' sake, and not merely to avoid punishment. They should offer supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under their rule they may live a 'quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty'. Rom. 13:5-7; 1 Tim. 2:1,2; 1 Pet. 2:17.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I still ponder how much more effective we would be in preaching the Gospel to our neighbors if we showed them--even with our landscape around us that we are more than a community group. We're a Kingdom--a Kingdom that spans the ages and includes the dead and the unborn, mighty as an army with banners....
I wonder if we might be able to speak more honestly to a people scared to death of death with a visible sign that we know what death is too. We hate it too.
But we haven't forgotten our dead. We're just waiting for them--and for us--to hear one last invitation hymn. And when those quiet little mounds begin bursting, with headstones flying about, and clap of thunder resounds across the sky.
Then we'll know what we're talking about when we say, "Man, this church is alive."
Saturday, March 08, 2008
As Christians, our primary concern is the glory of God. God is the standard who defines for us what is moral and immoral. We believe that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. We believe that we will all give account to God. We are morally responsible beings. Thus, our personal concern is to act in a manner morally pleasing to God. Christians also believe that legitimate authorities actually exercise God’s authority in the world when they act justly. Therefore, God is glorified when human governments wage just wars.
Just war theory is opposed to “realism” or “realpolitik” on the one hand (as exemplified by Machiavelli) and “pacifism” on the other. The former rejects moral constraints while the latter misconstrues them. Realism says that moral considerations are unnecessary; the only important thing is to win the war by whatever means necessary. Pacifism says that war is always evil. Both are biblically wrong.
The Classic Criteria
Ius ad Bellum – “Justice toward war.” When is it just to enter into war?
- Just cause. We may engage in war primarily for the defense of the common good (order, justice, and peace), which would include self-defense (e.g. Num 21:21-30), recovery of what has been wrongly taken (e.g. Gen 14), and punishing evil (Rom 13:4).
- Proper authority. Public authorities have the responsibility to secure and protect the public good of a just and orderly society. It is this responsibility which gives them the authority to declare war (Rom 13:1-4). Private parties do not have the authority to enter into war (Rom 12:19).
- Right intention. This has to do with both proper motive and with proper goals – the establishment of a just peace (Ps 34:14; Rom 12:18). Such concerns also extend to what happens after the war itself has ceased.
There are also some lesser criteria which are taken into consideration, such as reasonable hope of success, overall proportionality, and last resort. These are prudential judgments and are not primary moral criteria. In other words, they help to determine when it is wise to go to war, but they do not determine whether or not it is just to go to war.
As can be seen from these criteria, wars of aggrandizement and aggression are unjust. So are wars waged without proper authority. Wars which do not intend to establish or re-establish justice and peace but are waged because of anger, animosity, revenge, rebellion, greed, power-lust, and so forth, are unjust.
- Discrimination (noncombatant immunity). The force of war must be directed at combatants and not intentionally directed at noncombatants. The distinction between combatants and noncombatants is not always clear.
- Proportionality. The amount of force used in war should be proportionate to what is necessary to achieve the military aims with the least amount of bloodshed and destruction (e.g. Deut 20:10-15, 19-20).
In Christian perspective, these just war criteria proceed from love (Mark 12:29-31; Rom 13:8-10). The ultimate reason for a Christian to go to war is love for God and neighbor. We love God, so we want his righteousness and justice to prevail. When we bring justice to the evil-doer, we are enforcing God’s righteousness. We love our neighbor, so we will defend life while trying to do so in a manner that minimizes death.
Justice - Justice from a Christian perspective may be considered the application of God’s righteous judgment by God’s ordained authorities. It involves retribution and restitution.
Peace – Rightly ordered tranquility, not merely the absence of conflict
Love – Commitment to what is best for another.
Some Introductory Resources
Calvin, John. Institutes 4.20.10-12.
Charles, J. Daryl. Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and the Christian Tradition. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.
Cole, Darrell. “Good Wars,” First Things, October 2001.
Davis, John Jefferson. Evangelical Ethics. 2nd edition.
Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War Against Terror.
Johnson, James Turner. “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things, January 2005.
Pavlischek, Keith. “Just and Unjust War in the Terrorist Age,” The Intercollegiate Review, Vol 37 No 2 (Spring 2002), 24-32.
Phillips, Richard D. “The Christian View of War.” Sermon preached 26 August, 2006. Available at SermonAudio.com. Accessed 6 March, 2008.
________. “The Christian Idea of Valor.” Sermon preached 26 August, 2006. Available at SermonAudio.com. Accessed 8 March, 2008.
 A common error among just war theorists is to claim that natural law apart from religious considerations is the basis of just war theory. This claim is inaccurate, if for no other reason than that no one ever thinks or operates apart from religious reasons. Religious neutrality is a myth. Theorists make this claim in order to bolster their point that just war applies to everyone, regardless of the religion they profess to believe. Just war does apply to everyone, but this argument is a wrong foundation. The true foundation, and the true reason that just war thinking applies to everyone, is that everyone is accountable to the one true and living God revealed in the Bible whether they believe it or not. Christians follow Jesus Christ as Lord and derive their just war principles from his authority. When unbelievers happen to get some of these principles right (because these principles are built into the nature of the universe that God made and governs), then believers and unbelievers become tactical partners in just war. But we are never strategic partners in just war, for we have different foundations and different goals.
 Note that these criteria are not the same thing as international laws or customs governing war. Just war criteria are moral criteria. Hopefully international laws based upon treaties and customs would reflect these moral principles, but they do not necessarily do so.
 “The service of private ends by private persons manifests cupiditas – wrongly directed, self-centered love or motivation – while efforts by those at the head of communities to serve the good of those communities show the effect of a concern for justice informed by caritas, rightly directed love” (James Turner Johnson, “Just War, As It Was and Is,” First Things (Jan 2005), available at http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=142, accessed 25 January 2008).
 “When Thomas Aquinas discusses just war in the Summa Theologiae (II-II.40), he does not do so in the section on justice, but rather in the section on charity-specifically, the love of God. He makes it clear that war is not a vice that is opposed to the love of God. On the contrary, war-making, when just, can be a form of love. Of course, war is always contrary to peace, but this is sometimes desirable, since peace is not always a just order that deserves to be preserved. Nazi Germany, for example, provided peace and order for most of those in conquered countries who were willing to accept Nazi rule. But no one wishes to argue that the peace provided by Nazis is the sort of peace we ought to preserve. War, for Aquinas, can be a means to a just peace as well as a means to destroy an unjust peace (such as one established by Nazis). We keep a just peace and fight just wars because these are acts of charity. Just soldiering, in other words, is something Christians ought to do out of love for God and neighbor, and thus it is the most “human” thing we can do in certain circumstances” (Darrell Cole, “Good Wars,” First Things (October 2001), available at http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2243, accessed 4 March, 2008).
Friday, March 07, 2008
Jesus Shall Reign (#51)
Crown Him with Many Crowns (#52)
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (#588)
Who Would True Valor See (#508)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (#137)
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (#36)
The Command to Love Human Life (Part 4): A War of Love, Not a Love of War
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
23.3 Each and every person who takes an oath agreeably to the Word of God must well consider the seriousness of such a solemn act, and be extremely careful to assert nothing but what he knows to be truth; for by rash, false and empty oaths the Lord is provoked, and by reason of them a land is brought to misery. Lev. 19:12; Jer. 23:10.
23.4 An oath is to be taken in the plain and usual sense of the words used, without equivocation or mental reservation. Ps. 24:4.
23.5 Vows are to be made to God alone and not to any creature. Once made they are to be performed scrupulously and faithfully. But monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, that pertain to the church of Rome, so far from representing superior sanctity, are merely superstitious and sinful snares in which no Christian ought to entangle himself. Gen. 28:20-22; Ps. 76:11; Matt. 19:11; 1 Cor. 7:2,9; Eph. 4:28.