Friday, March 16, 2018

The Death Of Stephen Hawking, Gloating, and the Gospel

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (CSB)

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died this week. He lived a remarkably long life with a form of ALS, questioning, perhaps denying the existence of God for virtually all of his 76 years investing his life in the attempt to discern the nature of the universe via human logic and reason. Whether he was an atheist, or an agnostic, he was certainly not a believer in a spiritual afterlife. He is reported to have said, "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." As a result of his theology (yes, even atheists are theologians), he was not afraid of death, saying, "I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first."

Those who do believe in God, by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, will respond to the death of an unbeliever in one of three ways:

They may rejoice. "God is just. He made his choice. He mocked God. He has met his maker now."  Hawking certainly preached the god of logic and reason, dismissed the God of Creation, and contributed to a theology that contributes to lostness and unbelief. Should a follower of Jesus Christ rejoice that this preacher of a false god is dead?

They may not care. "Yes, he was an unbeliever, but thousands die every day. I don't have time to spend on worrying about that." Is apathy the attitude of God?

They may mourn. Franklin Graham wrote about Hawking, "I wish Stephen Hawking could have seen the simple truth that God is the Creator of the universe he loved to study and everything in it." Is it more or less like God to grieve when a lost person dies?

Photo used by permission from Wikipedia Commons, author Doug Wheller

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday Morning Pastor: Getting Prayer Right

Pray for and about everything. That's God's command. It's His desire. So, yes, ask Him to heal Grandma Turner's sciatica. Ask Him to help your son do well on his final in chemistry. Ask Him to give you a job when you're out of work. Ask Him to save your neighbor. Ask Him to send laborers for the harvest. Ask Him for everything you need, but prayer is much more than just getting our needs met, much more than even getting the needs of others met.

John 15:5-8:  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

The men who first heard this had been with Jesus for three years. For three years their life was the definition of abiding. He is about to leave them, has told them that, and is instructing them in what to do in His physical absence after His death, burial, and resurrection. And, what does He tell them? 11 times in 4 verses, He tells them to do just what they have been doing - abide, remain, dwell, live, converse, camp out, eat with, talk to, listen to, obey, love Him. Now, how are they going to do that?

They will need four things. First, they will need Him to remove the barrier of sin in their hearts, which He did on Calvary and they received by faith. Second, they will need His Holy Spirit, which He sent to indwell every believer in His absence. Third, they will need His Word, which He had given and was in the process of giving them through the apostles. Fourth, they will need to pray, which is the primary practice of abiding in His presence.

If they abide in Him, their lives will be defined by His presence - spiritual fruitfulness, supernatural love, and abundant joy. If they do not abide in Him, their lives will be defined by the absence of His presence - fruitlessness, meaningless activity, tepid love, and joylessness. We are no different than they are. So, ask Him for everything, but do not neglect abiding in Him in prayer. Here's a simple guide to help you do that.

  • Grab a Bible and get somewhere you can spend some time with God
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you 
  • Open the Bible, begin to read and pray as God prompts you
  • Praise Him as the Spirit prompts you through the Scripture 
  • Be still, word open, heart alert, and simply abide in Christ
  • Consider, during these times, asking for nothing more than His presence unless He prompts you through the Word to do so

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Sanctity Of Human Life

This Sunday we mourn together on Sanctity Of Human Life Sunday. We mourn the death of over 50 million unborn humans that has resulted from a supreme court decision legalizing abortion on January 22, 1973. Human life is precious because it is created by God. The unborn and old, the healthy and infirmed, the genius and savant, black, white, and every other color are precious in His sight. I could say much, but I believe Ronald Reagan said it best in 1984 when he proclaimed the first Sanctity Of Human Life day.

A Proclamation

The values and freedoms we cherish as Americans rest on our fundamental commitment to the sanctity of human life. The first of the ``unalienable rights'' affirmed by our Declaration of Independence is the right to life itself, a right the Declaration states has been endowed by our Creator on all human beings -- whether young or old, weak or strong, healthy or handicapped.

Since 1973, however, more than 15 million unborn children have died in legalized abortions -- a tragedy of stunning dimensions that stands in sad contrast to our belief that each life is sacred. These children, over tenfold the number of Americans lost in all our Nation's wars, will never laugh, never sing, never experience the joy of human love; nor will they strive to heal the sick, or feed the poor, or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights, and we are infinitely poorer for their loss.

We are poorer not simply for lives not led and for contributions not made, but also for the erosion of our sense of the worth and dignity of every individual. To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all. Slavery, which treated Blacks as something less than human, to be bought and sold if convenient, cheapened human life and mocked our dedication to the freedom and equality of all men and women. Can we say that abortion -- which treats the unborn as something less than human, to be destroyed if convenient -- will be less corrosive to the values we hold dear?

We have been given the precious gift of human life, made more precious still by our births in or pilgrimages to a land of freedom. It is fitting, then, on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that struck down State anti-abortion laws, that we reflect anew on these blessings, and on our corresponding responsibility to guard with care the lives and freedoms of even the weakest of our fellow human beings.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 22, 1984, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on that day in homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life, and to reaffirm our commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of each human life.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 13th day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth.

Ronald Reagan