Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Words You'll Need, and Courage Enough For Them

If you followed the recent Chick-fil-a controversy, or the more recent Louie Giglio withdrawal from praying at the presidential inauguration, or the most recent Tim Tebow withdrawal from a speaking engagement at a large Baptist church, or if you didn't follow any of them, Kevin DeYoung does a great job giving us words we will most certainly need if we want to honestly and courageously stand with Christ in our day of intolerant "tolerance."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Give Thanks to God for Dr. C. Everett Koop

I was saddened to hear the news of Dr. C. Everett Koop's death. I have had great respect for this man and it only grew as I read the following post, which includes some wonderful windows into the character of this gift of salt and light to America. May the Lord mercifully raise up many more Christian men and women with his same rare combination of professional medical excellence and deep, humble faith -- for the good of many and the glory of our Great Physician's holy name.

Justin Taylor:
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went to be with the Lord earlier today, February 25, 2013. Born in Brooklyn, he earned the A.B. degree from Dartmouth (1937) and his medical degree from Cornell (1941). Just a year after receiving the Doctor of Science (Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania (1947), he became Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was there that he met Francis and Edith Schaeffer (1948). In his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality, William Edgar tells the story:
[The Schaeffers' daughter] Priscilla contracted a strange illness, causing her to vomit violently. At the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital the doctors were baffled. A thirty-two-year-old physician named C. Everett Koop walked into the room, examined Priscilla, and diagnosed her with “mesenteric adenitis,” a disease he had just been studying. He had learned that most often the condition could be cured by the removal of the appendix, for reasons not clear to medical science. Edith mentioned to Dr. Koop that they were moving to Switzerland to become missionaries. Koop had just become a believer through the ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church on Seventeenth and Spruce Streets. He performed the operation himself. Just before he wheeled Priscilla into the operating room, a telegram came in from Fran, who was traveling in Nashville, saying, “Dear Priscilla, Remember underneath are the everlasting arms. Love, Daddy.” Dr. Koop was deeply moved by the marvel of this kind of faith. Later, Fran [i.e., Francis Schaeffer] and he would meet and forge a friendship that led, among other things, to casting the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?
Years later Dr. Koop explained during a Wheaton interview the way in which he would bring his Christian worldview to bear upon his own view of surgery and care for the family. He would always tell the families:
Let me assure you that if I thought that I was walking into that operating room in my own steam, my own power, my own knowledge and was going to operate upon your child—and its survival depended upon me—I wouldn’t open the door. I believe that I am a servant of the Lord and that I am going to that operating room with gifts that he has given me. But your child is in his hands, and he will guide me, and I will let you know everything I can about the future of your child.
Koop himself lost a child, David, who was a junior at Dartmouth when he died during a mountain climbing accident.
Dr. Koop became Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1959 and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971.
In March of 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), and later that year as Surgeon General.
His tenure as Surgeon General is widely remembered for his work related to abortion, tobacco, HIV/AIDS, and the rights of babies born with birth defects and handicaps. He served as Surgeon General until 1989.
Update: Christianity Today is posting a number of pieces from their archives. The most extensive is Phillip Yancey’s profile from 1989. See also Carl Henry’s interview with Koop from 1973, Koop’s 1987 piece on death and dying, and a report on a 1990 talk he gave on abortion, contraception, healthcare, AIDS, and homosexuality.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Credit Cards and The Cause of Christ

A very good word for the American Church, and for each of us in it, from Kevin DeYoung:
Do you want to be radical in your devotion to Christ? Do you want your life to count and not be a waste? Do you want to see the nations come to Christ and the world changed for the better?
Well, here’s one practical thing you can do right now on your way to those lofty ambitions: pay down your debt.
There are 610,000,000 credit cards in the United States, and every household with at least one carries an average debt of $16,000. Total U.S. consumer debt is more than $2.5 trillion. Think of all the money Christians have tied up in late fees and financial commitments that can’t be spent on the work of the gospel in the world.
How will you ever give sacrificially to your church if you are swamped in credit card debt? How can you even consider doing missions overseas if you’re swallowed up in student loans? What sort of flexibility will you have to go anywhere and do anything if your house is worth half of what you owe on your mortgage? What will you have to give to support a new church plant in your city or the crisis pregnancy center down the street or the seminary overseas if you have two car payments, two mortgages, and twenty thousand dollars in consumer debt?
I love the emphasis in our day on doing hard things. I love the passion for a big God and big causes. I love the gospel-centered enthusiasm and idealism. But more often than not new dreams don’t come true without old-fashioned virtues like temperance, frugality, and hard work. Heartfelt passion won’t change the world. But passion plus prudence plus perseverance just might.
So if you are serious about carrying your cross and giving your all to Jesus, you should take more seriously paying down all that you owe. I don’t think all debt is wrong. We have a mortgage. We’ve had student loans and car payments too. But for the sake of the gospel we have to keep whacking away at all we owe. If you want to be a radical Christian, try making a budget and living within your means. Think of all the missions money tied up in credit card debt? Think of the workers not being trained, not being hired, and not being sent out because we’ve squandered our American inheritance on easy credit. Think of the risks we haven’t taken because we took all our risks out with interest years ago. He is no fool who works hard to repay what he’s already lost so that he might serve the One he cannot out-give.
Make sure you are giving at least ten percent to your church. Don’t scrimp on that. But after that, introduce austerity until your obligations are under control. The Father and the Son may not expect you to pay them back, but Master Card and Visa do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why Are We Losing Our Youth?

Bill Hughes and Janet Baumann drew my attention to this one. It's really good. If you are a teenager, or a parent of a teenager, or know a teenager in a church, or go to a church, you should read this post.

Here are the 10 reasons the author gives, in reverse order: 
10. The Church is “Relevant.”
9. They never attended church to begin with.
8. They get smart.
7. You sent them out unarmed.
6. You gave them hand-me-downs.
5. Community.
4. They found better feelings.
3. They got tired of pretending.
2. They know the truth.
1. They don’t need it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

We Don't Want to Do This (Updated)

Ray Ortlund, When God Comes to Church:
Do we want to guarantee that our children will run in the opposite direction of our most cherished biblical convictions? All we have to do is sterilize our churches. Make them rigid, unresponsive, grim. Require of our ministers that they play the role of scolding, scowling Reverend Eat-Your-Peas. Treat the gospel as a theological system only, rather than also as a personal remedy. Use the Bible as ammunition for “culture wars” rather than as food for life. Withdraw from the historical situation in which God has placed us. Build up the walls, reinforce the barriers, and make certain that no experience gets in here. Ignore the fact that “doctrine only” is not itself a biblical doctrine.

Update: A friend of mine, Pastor Kipp Soncek, was familiar with the quote above and sent me the paragraph that follows. It's well worth adding, with a new title: "We DO Want to Do This!"
But do we want our children to embrace our biblical convictions with joy? Let our churches become environments fertile with revival potentialities. Let’s shape our churches with the deliberate intention that their content and tone may encourage our children, and all others, in true experience of God. Let our convictions open up to their eyes a glorious vision of God and to their hearts the succulent pleasures of God. We cannot trigger a divine visitation on our churches, but it is our responsibility prayerfully to offer our Lord a church steeped in the gospel and tenderly responsive to his presence. His Spirit’s blessing should not have to work against the logic and ethos we create.
Amen! Thanks, Kipp!