Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thank God for the Government

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

It's easy to complain about the government. It's not perfect. Some of its leaders are incompetent and/or corrupt. Some of its activities are counterproductive.

However, it's far better than living without a functioning government. Who among us would like to trade places with Haitians or Somalis? I suspect that they would love to have our complaints in exchange for a functioning government.

It's good to have a military, police force, and firefighters. It's good to have highways and streets. It's good to have schools and libraries. It's good to have courts and prisons.

A properly functioning government is a gift from God. It seeks justice. It provides societal stability. It's a blessing to everyone who seeks a peaceful and quiet life.

Thank you, God, for the government.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Potential Leader in the Kingdom

This is a portion of our minister Ron Babbit's February newsletter:

"Every time I show up in the hood, I wonder, 'Where is the family that once lived there? Whatever happened to those kids?' Recently, we had two moving crews on the road to assist a couple of families. Big O took Muscles with him to make a run and I recruited Big Mac, Arler, Trey-bone, and Fox. (I pay big bucks.) This move was in a drizzling rain. We had a trailer and my truck; and Big Mac was driving a minivan. When we showed up, the lady being moved was with her two daughters and their hairy-legged friends. One couple is getting married this spring; the other couple is shacking together. GOD provided a great opportunity for all the moving team. Let me share how GOD was at work.

"One of the clowns, the dude who is shacking with his honey, I met eight years ago on an outside basketball court where he was the 'Cool Dude On Campus' (CDOC). At that time, I told the girls to stay away from that clown. I would always recruit a girl to be on my team, and we would go against the CDOC. This CDOC was a wannabe. He wasn't willing to pay the price to play the great game of basketball at school because he was a CDOC. He has the same struggles that most of us have, that is, not willing to die to self and make the commitment to serve HIM. Every time I would see CDOC, I would throw him candy and a soda to break down the barriers that Satan had built in his bones. I started noticing that CDOC wasn't present in the complex and soon found out that he was in prison. I tried to get an address to write to him, but wasn't successful.

"When we showed up to move this family, the CDOC hoss wanted a ride to go help us move. Amen, church! I loved picking up the CDOC and his honey. Guess what? I witnessed a different attitude. He was very friendly and seemed to be changed. Yes, he is hanging with hooch in his pocket, smoking whatever gets him higher, but GOD is more powerful. Amen, church! I asked him about his brother. He, too, was living with a gal.

"GOD started building this friendship/relationship years ago, and now is the time to step in to share the saving message of HIS love. Please stay in prayer with me as we read, listen, and pray with him. This CDOC is a leader; my prayer is that he becomes a leader in the Kingdom."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Live a Stereotypical Life

You know the stereotypes:

Pro-lifers care about babies before they are born, but couldn't care less afterwards.

If you didn't vote for President Obama, you must be a racist.

If you are theologically conservative, you are apathetic about the poor and the environment.

Spread a little confusion. Defy the stereotypes by the way you live.

"And (Jesus) said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A New Kind of Christianity

Kevin DeYoung has an important critique of Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity at

Also, Mike Wittmer has a long series of posts critiquing the book at, starting on February 3, 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Update on the Weekend to Remember Contest

Last month, I conducted a contest on this blog. My wife and I paid the registration fees for two couples to attend FamilyLife's A Weekend to Remember marriage conferences.

Last night, one of the winning couples let me know that they attended one of the conferences in New England last weekend. They were grateful for the opportunity to rebuild their relationship with God and their marriage. They let me know that the conference exceeded all their expectations.

I was thankful for the update. God had used my blog to help others and to honor his name.

I don't know how many people read this blog, but I suspect that it is relatively few. I don't know how either of the contest winners even found my blog. But I am thankful that God has used this blog to bless a few other people and to show people a little more clearly his goodness.

I want to add this encouragement to any fellow bloggers who may stumble upon this blog: Please don't waste your blog. Concentrate on blessing other people and glorifying God with your blog. You don't need to be a professional minister to make a difference. (I deliver the mail for a living.) You don't need to have many readers. You can make a difference with what God has given you.

"...grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:7).
Use it to honor him.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When Will My Son be Ready for Baptism?

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The Contact Church has seen a number of baptisms in the last few weeks. Some have been older men and women. Some have been younger men and women.

Yesterday, one baptism made me think about the act in a little more personal way than I have thought about it in a long time. An 8-year old boy professed his faith in Christ and submitted to baptism.

It caught my attention because the boy is only a year older than our son Christopher.

I started to wonder: When will Christopher be ready to be baptized?

He has asked about baptism since he was about 3 or 4, but I have never felt that he was ready. It's true that Christopher is a believer in Christ; and I believe in baptizing believers.

However, I believe in something more than believers' baptism. I am convinced that a true conversion to Christ involves a faith that leads to repentance. It leads to a change of heart. It leads one to decide to turn away from his sins in order to follow his Savior.

At the point of repentance, a believer is ready to submit to baptism. At that point, baptism becomes effective. It becomes a marker in the believer's life to which he can point as the time when his old life was crucified and buried with Jesus, and the time when he began to walk with the Spirit of Christ in his life. "That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace--a new life in a new land! That's what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we're going in our new grace-sovereign country" (Romans 6:4-6, The Message).

I don't believe in age limits on baptism. God never seemed concerned about the age of anyone submitting to baptism. However, he does seem concerned that one's baptism be motivated by trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and a willingness to turn away from anything that would prevent following him.

When Christopher's faith brings him to repentance, I will be thrilled to baptize him...even if it happens today at age 7. (Whenever it happens, I will ask my son to take a sheet of paper and write down in his own words what it means to him on that day, so that he will always be able to remember the experience and never doubt his motives.) Until then, Janet and I will continue to teach him about the Lord and pray that his faith will lead to a heart ready to follow Christ no matter what may come.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Courage of Valentine

Valentine was a minister of the church in the late third century A.D. While little is known about him, he was believed to have been arrested during a time of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire because he was performing the wedding ceremonies of Christians. The public nature of his ministry drew the attention of the authorities. Valentine could have faced merely time in prison, but he decided to take another risk when he stood before the Roman emperor in his trial. Realizing the fate awaiting the emperor, the saint tried to persuade him to follow Jesus Christ. This infuriated the emperor. As a result, Valentine was beheaded.

The brave Valentine died because he cared about loving Christian marriages as well as people who were heading toward eternity without the benefit of Christ in their lives.

He serves as a role model of love and courage to this day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Explanation

Due to pornographic spam in my comments section over the last 6 months, I have eliminated my comments section. I have deleted the comments as quickly as I have found them; but since they would not stop, I have deleted my comments section.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Foundation and Importance of Sound Doctrine

Sound (or healthy) doctrine is a major theme in the book of Titus. As Paul wrote, "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9).

Sound doctrine is intended to produce people who are sound in the Christian faith. "This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13).

A people of sound faith are able to live sound lives. Most of Titus 2 applies the principles of sound doctrine to the daily responsibilities of believers. Healthy doctrine produces a people with healthy faith who live out that faith in healthy ways.

Then, the apostle Paul presents the foundation of sound doctrine: the grace of God and our need for it. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:11-17).

In order to make progress in the Christian life, we need to remember where we came from. "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another" (Titus 3:3).

We also need to remember what the Lord has done for us. "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).

This kind of sound doctrine will keep followers of Christ sound in the faith and productive in the world.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Woman's View of Husbands and Football

I received the following e-mail from Barbara Rainey of FamilyLife yesterday. Since it was an e-mail, I'm not sure whether it is on the web site, but you may find other good material at

"While watching some of the recent National Football League wild card and championship games with my husband, I asked him about some of the finer points of the game.

"I understand the basics of scoring and the role of key players like the quarterback, but how do they determine where field goals are kicked, how does the wild card system work, and what is the backfield, anyway? Last weekend during the AFC/NFC championship games I finally learned what the secondary is. He likes it that I'm asking questions. By the way, to Indy!

"Then I began pondering another question.

"What is the draw of football for men?

"When I asked him, my husband said it's the competition, the physicality, and the aggressiveness of the game. It sounded so brutal. Not at all what I expected him to say.

"Thinking further I understand what he meant and as a result I have a few more theories as to why men love football.

"Like the relentless pounding of surf on the beach, football keeps coming back. Every year. It's as predictable as seasonal changes. At the same time every year. It's something we can count on no matter what happens in the economy or who is living in the White House.

"I think the fact that the game has a myriad of rules is part of its appeal. Loyal followers know the rules, understand why the rules are there, and count on them being enforced fairly. The rules change very little from year to year which brings continuity to the game.

"When a foul is called, one team may feel it was unfair but within a matter of minutes or less, it is accepted and the game continues. No lawsuits in federal courts, no changing of the rules so the offending team gets off the hook, no recount of votes, and rarely any fights or scandalous accusations. The players understand the rules and play by the rules. Done.

"And because the rules are followed, the games finish in a reasonable time frame. And most importantly there is always a clear winner and loser. No one worries about the feelings of the losing team. It's what they signed up for and it's part of the game.

"Our men who love the sport love that sure outcome because most of life is not so clearly defined. Men today are confused about their roles as men. They are built to be competitive, to aggressively protect (not the quarterback, but their families and communities and country), but they live in a world so conscious of being offensive, so fearful of being sued that they are constantly worried that they will be held back. A holding penalty is when a player literally grabs an opponent and holds him so he can't do his job. And a lot of men today feel that way--they're being held back.

"To be sure, there are plenty of unsavory aspects to the game, but in balance the good outweighs the bad. In this confusing, shifting world of ours the predictable sport of football gives our men a respite--a place to watch men exercise their God-given aggressive, physical, and competitive natures with self-control under the watchful eye of a higher authority--the coaches and refs.

"They love watching men be men. It's a microcosm of what the world should be like.

"I think its why I like football, too."