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Posts Tagged ‘Faith and the Glory of God’

When walking through the valley…

Posted by MDViews on December 23, 2008

As one who deals with depression on a daily basis, I have been struck recently by the comfort of Psalm 23. God does comfort, but I find myself unable to see or feel His comfort when the cloud of despair engulfs me. This is my prayer.

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.   (I am a sheep, Lord, and I need You to lead me.  You know and supply my needs. I want for nothing of value.)
   

2He makes me lie down in green pastures.   (You, O God, give me rest in a quiet, comforting place. You refresh my soul with Your presence. The green pastures show the abundance of Your care!)  

He leads me beside still waters.   (I am lost and wander in darkness without You. But You lead to a place where I can drink and be satisfied with You. Help me to make You my satisfaction! You are the drink that satisfies forever!)
   

3He restores my soul.   (My soul stumbles along as if blind. I so long to be restored! Restore me, O Lord, to feel Your comfort and hear Your voice.)

He leads me in paths of righteousness    (The cloud of despair hides Your path, O God.  Lead me along Your righteous path! Help me not sin in my despondency as I am prone to do.)
   

for his name’s sake.    (O God, help me see the glory and majesty of Your name. I pray I will not dishonor You when I am lost.)

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  (I am there, O God. The valley is dark. My walk falters. Surround me with Your love, Your presence, Your assurance more closely than the darkness about me.)
   

I will fear no evil,    (I fear the despair, O God, and it is evil. Quiet my thoughts and help me focus only on You, I pray.)

for you are with me;   (The cloud, the cloud, O God, hides You from me! Penetrate the cloud! Be my companion, I pray. Help me trust and walk by faith.)
   

your rod and your staff,     (Use Your club, O God, to vanquish my despair and Your hook to pull me back from the edge!)
   

they comfort me.    (Your comfort is eternal and I praise You for it!)

5You prepare a table before me  (Your blood covers my sin and so I am invited to the banquet table of the Lamb!)
   

in the presence of my enemies;  (My enemy is ever my companion, O God! Give me hope, O Lord, I pray. Grant me confidence that You will sustain me through this.)

you anoint my head with oil;  (How is Your love measured, O God, when You provide such care as this!)
   

my cup overflows.  (Overflow my cup, O Lord! In my gloom, show me Your bounty, Your all-encompassing grace, Your infinite value! Grant me eyes to see You through the fog.)

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me  (Thank You, God, for Your undeserved mercy, for Your boundless goodness and love, for Your terrible sacrifice that covers me!)
   

all the days of my life,  (You, O God, have numbered my days and know my path. Give me courage to face each day. Stay my hand from the sin of despair in my remaining days.)

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD  (To behold Your glory will make all suffering here a trifle. Oh, God! To sing Your praises in Your presence! To gaze on Your beauty forever! Keep my heart stayed on you, I pray.)
   

forever.  (Forever in Your presence, where You are the light. I long to see You clearly, not through this dark glass. Forever and ever and ever.)

English Standard Version (ESV)

Posted in Depression, Faith and the Glory of God, Personal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

National Associations of Evangelicals Shame

Posted by MDViews on December 14, 2008

In an article titled, National Association of Evangelicals VP Quits After Backing Pro-Abortion Obama, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has announced the resignation of long-time vice president, Richard Cizik. Mr. Cizik admitted on National Public Radio that an evangelical Christian could vote for Senator Obama in spite of his radical pro-abortion views. Mr. Cizik admitted he supported Mr. Obama, voted for him in the Virginia primary and stated the interviewer could infer from that how he, Mr. Cizik, voted in the national election.

To what do we attribute this sad state of affairs in which someone of high ranking office in an association of evangelical Christians would consider life of so little value?

I have opinions or I wouldn’t have posted on this. But, if after reading what I’ve written, you have additional insight, by all means, comment. I’d love to hear it.

First, he could be just an isolated renegade that does not reflect evangelical thinking. Were that it were so. Did anyone ask Leath Anderson, the president of the NAE, for whom he voted? Does anyone doubt that Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life tends liberal with his stand on global warming? Every global warming advocate group I’ve ever read promotes population control (birth control and abortion) as the ultimate solution. So, no, I don’t think this pro-abortion position is of one isolated leader. I think more and more it reflects leadership in evangelical circles.

What about the pews? Pro-abortion evangelical church goers are not uncommon. I would guess that evangelical Christians as a group are quite pro-life, but, as our former pastor noted, his prolife sermons were always followed by lower attendance.

Why that? Why, when our holy, all-powerful God, in whose image we are created, values life so dearly? How can one love and serve Christ and be proabortion?

I think it is because so many evangelical Christians (EC’s) have such a shallow, cheap, superficial, worldly view of Christ and the church that the distinction between the world and the church is disappearing. Few now fear God. God is now love, and EC’s magnanimously honor him by choosing to accept Him as their personal savior. Isn’t he lucky? Church is a few announcements followed by the latest, coolest worship choruses led by the band and worship team, occasionally with some eye candy for the guys with a worship team member in a dress too tight, too low or too short. After singing, a skit that may illustrate a Biblical concept, ushers collect an offeringafter a prayer and then probably a life story (what used to be called a testimony) after which you wonder if the one testifying is really a follower of Christ. The sermon, which may or may not apply to a scripture passage read, emphasizes a Christian concept applied to the latest pop psychology to help all the child care-hassled, work-busy, television-saturated, credit card-maxed, marriage-stressed, liberally-minded, Lexus-driving church goers make it through the next week. If such a lesson is told, then they have been “fed” and may come back for more. No one wants to hear the gospel, because it is so simple and everyone knows it anyway. Then the EC’s go to the Yoga class the chuch puts on on Tuesdays, sell the latest magical vitamin cure to everyone they see, sit in front of the TV for another 10-20 hours in the next week, complain they have no time for anything, buy the latest electronic gadget after claiming poverty to the needs of the church and wonder why their lives are so empty.

The Catholics are worse. They raise money by gambling and vote like the edicts of the Pope against abortion and birth control mean nothing, protected by the belief that their infant baptism has ushered them into the kingdom. (United State and Canadian catholics may be a lost cause.)

The answer is not one EC’s want to hear, I’m afraid.

Church is worship. God is all. Saving faith is not our doing, but His. Loving Christ includes loving what He loves. The Bible has the words of life. Christian theology and thought are at the same time so simple that a child can become a Christian and so complex that brilliant scholars cannot get their minds around God and His precepts.

For example, as John Piper says in his biography of Athenasius spoken to pastors at his pastors conference, we must 

“…help people, by the grace of God, to see what is happening to them (the shattering of their categories) as the best news in all the world.

From the very beginning, in the most winsome way possible, we must labor to create categories like this: God rules the world of bliss and suffering and sin, right down to the roll of the dice and the fall of a bird and the driving of the nail into the hand of his Son, yet, though he will that such sin and suffering be, he does not sin, but is perfectly holy. Or a category like this: God governs all the steps of all people, both good and bad, at all times and in all places, yet such that all are accountable before him and will bear the just consequences of his wrath if they do not believe in Christ. Or this category: All are dead in their trespasses and sin and are not morally able to come to Christ because of their rebellion, yet, they are responsible to come and will be justly punished if they don’t. Or: Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, divine and human, such that he upheld the world by the word of his power while living in his mother’s womb. Or: sin, though committed by a finite person and in the confines of finite time is nevertheless deserving of an infinitely long punishment because it is a sin against an infinitely worthy God. Or: the death of the one God-Man, Jesus Christ, so displayed and glorified the righteousness of God that God is not unrighteous to declare righteous ungodly people who simply believe in Christ.

These kinds of mind-boggling, category-shattering truths demand our best thought and our most creative labors. We must aim to speak them in a way that, by the power of God’s word and Spirit, a place for them would be created in the minds of those who hear. We must not preach only in the categories that are already present in our listeners’ fallen minds, or we will betray the gospel and conceal the glory of God.

Amen.

Posted in Abortion, Faith and the Glory of God, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Christian Biography

Posted by MDViews on December 13, 2008

I’ve been listening to John Piper sermons on desiringgod.org. I especially enjoy his biography series. He preaches a new biography once a year at the Desiring God pastor’s conference. Each sermon is about an hour and 20 minutes long and each is riveting.

His scriptural basis for biography Hebrews 13:7 which says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

I now have a grasp of Augustine, Athenasius, Luther, Calvin, William Cowper, William Tyndale, Andrew Fuller, George Mueller, Adoniram Judson, John Newton, William Willberforce, John Paton, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Simeon.

I would encourage any who would read this blog to click on desiringgod.org, the click on “See all sermons”, then on “biography”. Pick on out and listen (or read). You will be blessed.

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Special Days–The Richness of Family, The Value of Children

Posted by MDViews on November 29, 2008

At this point in my life, 56 years and counting, I treasure special days. Days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, 4th of July, weddings and even funerals. It takes a day like that to bring together family and close friends, to slow the hectic work pace, to cause un-contemplative folks to comtemplate the meaning of life and to refocus on what’s important.

That has happened again this Thanksgiving. My wife and I rented a motor home and traveled to Kentucky to visit my oldest son, Nathan, and his family. (Wife, Sarah and children Hannah, Noah, Rebekah and Jeremiah). We traveled with my son, Micah, and his family, (Melissa, Blaine and Tyler) and our daughter, Abigail, and her family (Tom, Eliza, Seth and Elianna). 11 of us in a motor home for 12 1/2 hours. What a joy! Since arriving, it has been non-stop kids–running, playing, eating, falling, crying, napping, bumping and getting to know each other all over again. In the midst of that chaos, my son’s study became the Internet cafe. Last I counted, there were 6 or 7 laptops and at least two desktop computers, all being used. All this energy has been fueled by food, food and more food. Even as I type, there are potatoes and a roast in the crock pot, cream puffs in the freezer waiting to be thawed and fresh Toll House cookies on the counter. The kitchen has been in a constant state of being cleaned, preparing food, eating food and cleaning again. With a plethora of Nerf guns and Nerf bullets, someone is always shooting someone. Add a potato gun for adult explosive fun, and you’ve got a genuine Kentucky celebration. As darkness fell tonight, Ed, the other grandparent, started the fire pit and the grandchildren enjoyed S’mores.

This is as close to heaven on earth as I will ever get.

Not to idolize family. Clearly, our focus is to glorifying God over wife, children, grandchildren, in-laws or friends. We have to hold our earthly possessions, including family, loosely. We have no knowledge of the future. I don’t know what God may yet have in store for me, whether poverty, loneliness, illness, pain or suffering. But for now, I am ever so thankful He has provided such wonderful blessings.

I talk about days like this often. More often than you may think.

As an OB/GYN, I routinely deal with patients who have decided on a family with no children, or maybe one or two. Although there are variations, in general, women understand the gift of children more than men. It’s the boyfriend or husband who says one, maybe two is enough. I use my story of special days to emphasize that children are ultimately not a burden, but rather a true blessing with more joy than one can imagine. I explain that my encouragement to have a larger family is not based on a financial desire for more business. Far from it. It is just a plea for them to grab the joy that waits them if they have a larger family.

I’m not naive. We’ve raised four kids. It is no picnic. The “highs” are ever so high, but the “lows” can be lower than low. We’ve dealt with all the problems that go along with each age. But the joy of adult children and grandchildren is such a joy, such a comfort and such a fulfillment that it is difficult to describe.

And I don’t mean the saying I hear so often. “Yeah, it’s fun because you can spoil them and send them home.” God forbid!

First, the last thing I would want would be spoiled, disrespectful grandchildren. I feel invested in their lives and only want good for them. Second, although it can be a relief when they go home with their parents after a long, busy day, especially after a hard day at work, we rarely turn down the opportunity to have them spend the night. Bea, my wife, often has them all day. And she is the best grandmother I know. (No exaggeration.) It is a mystery to me how couples can move south for golf and warm weather and leave their children and grandchildren. What are they thinking? Golf? Warm weather? Compared to relationship with children and grandchildren? Give me a break!

So the real point of this post is the value of children and family. It is a blessing just waiting to happen. And I guess that’s a good fit for a pro-life OB/GYN.

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God, Family | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »