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A Godward Look at Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce. It’s an awful word. There’s some words in the English language that evoke pleasant thoughts and happy images. Divorce isn’t one of them. In fact, for me, there’s few words in the dictionary that conjure up such troublesome connotations. When I hear “divorce” I think of broken hearts, broken families, broken homes, broken children–broken promises. If there’s anything in our society that demonstrates the human heart’s propensity to lie, it’s divorce.

Recently, Gentle Reformation was asked to address the issue of divorce and remarriage. When I was training to be a pastor the problems leading to and resulting from divorce were, in my mind, thought to be some of the most challenging and difficult. This isn’t a fine point of theology we can afford to discuss in an ivory tower or fireside chat. Divorcees aren’t faceless strangers–they’re co-workers, friends, family and church members. But a commitment to Jesus and “all that he commanded” must compel us to speak with clarity, sensitivity, and compassion into a culture that’s addicted to divorce.

Of course one of the difficulties are all the what ifs. There’s a thousand seemingly hopeless scenarios where divorce almost seems to be the only option. But before one can be […]

The Christian Use of the Imprecatory Psalms

Last week an interesting article appeared on one of my favorite blogs, Reformation 21, entitled “ISIS and the Imprecatory Psalms.” Excited to see how the Psalm portions that involve praying the covenantal curses against the enemies of God would be treated, I eagerly read it.  Author Carleton Wynne, using the fullness of the revelation given to us in the New Testament, makes many good points about the historical rootedness of these prayers, wrongful applications of them, the ultimate fulfillment they will have in the final judgment, and the Christian spirit in which they should now be prayed.  The article is well worth a read.

Providentially, I just completed a teaching course on preaching, where one assignment the students had was to develop a sermon from the imprecatory Psalms.  As we discussed this article, we felt that one thought that runs through the article was a bit unsatisfying.  Though he makes some concession to praying for justice in this life, Wynne seems uncomfortable with prayers for imminent justice when he asks and answers the following question at the end.

So may we pray the imprecatory Psalms today? No, in the sense that Christians today may not pray the imprecatory Psalms with outstretched finger, identifying enemies who do them […]

The Plastic Man

Growing up in the 1970’s in the Midwest, I loved watching sports on television.  NFL Football and the Chicago Cubs on WGN with announcer Jack Brickhouse were my favorites.  But I relished watching the Olympics when they came on.  During the two weeks they took place, my family would gather around the television each evening to watch.  Like many Americans, my nationalistic pride would soar as Team USA racked up the medals.

During the 1976 Summer Games, I still remember as a young teenager watching Bruce Jenner compete and win the Decathlon, the premier event of the Olympics.  The underdog against the favored Soviet Union athlete and previous Olympic champion, Nikolai Avilov, Jenner excited the nation as we rooted for this chiseled, flowing haired competitor clad in his red tank top and blue shorts.  Not only did he pull off the upset with his running, jumping, hurdling and hurtling, but he set a world record in the process.

Yet life goes on.  Though I remember afterwards seeing Jenner’s winning pose with outstretched arms on Wheaties boxes and his smiling, fresh face on the occasional sports commentary, to be honest like most of my childhood sports idols he simply disappeared from my radar screen.  Since I […]

The Day God Spoke to Katy Perry

While many Christians were in their local church hearing God speak in the reading, singing, and preaching of his Word, Katy Perry was preparing for the half-time performance of Super Bowl XLIX. I suppose for any artist this is a once in a life time chance and is probably the biggest venue they will ever play. According to recent ratings, Katy’s performance was the most-watched halftime show in history, with 118.5 million viewers. To whom does she attribute the success? Well, in her own words, to God. “It’s funny, I was praying and I got a word from God and He says, ‘You got this and I got you.’”

Not surprisingly her comment caused a flurry of responses. Some people find it impossible that God would speak to her. Though raised in a Pentecostal home Katy no longer identifies herself as a Christian, she publicly promotes movements that are contrary to the Bible, and one would need to do gymnastics to find redemptive quality in her music. Others are suggesting this as her “burning bush” or “Damascus road” experience–God confirming his wayward daughter that he hasn’t let her go.

There’s probably been enough commentary on all of this to make most people […]

Threats Real and Perceived

Humans have an incredible capacity to fear. A certain type of fear is actually a gift to us in a fallen world because it enables us to sense and avoid danger. The problem with fear, however, is that the parts of the brain that control our fear response are not the same ones that control our ability to reason. In other words, to be effective, our capacity to fear has to operate very quickly, and the cost of a rapid fear response is a sometimes irrational fear response. People, who want to control your behavior, are quite adept at appealing to your fear response in order to get you to take some action that benefits them. Tune in to this news outlet and follow their “breaking coverage” of some tragic event. Support this or that environmental cause before the planet is destroyed. Buy gold before the next stock market crash. Buy survival supplies before the coming societal meltdown. Enroll your kid in a special program before it’s too late and she falls behind the other kids. The list is virtually endless.

Sadly, Christians are often motivated by irrational fears just like everyone else. A particularly troubling example of this is the […]

Browse Worthy: Clear Thinking on Recent Islamic Activities

From the Charlie Hebdo attack to Duke University now sounding forth the azan, an Islamic call to prayer, on Fridays, we are being confronted more and more with the need to think clearly about the Muslim world.  Here are some helps.

Theological Extremism in a Secular Age – In this post, Al Mohler shows through the American press’ coverage and editorials on the attack in Paris how unprepared the Western world is to deal with the worldview promoted by Islam. Though I have a point of disagreement about his teaching on a Christian view of blasphemy of the Triune God, this article helps clear the fogginess.

No, We Are Not Charlie Hebdo – Rod Dreher at The American Conservative explains why we should stop and think before we start chanting with the mob.

Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists? – The BBC has this in-depth report about this cultic group that is destroying and murdering Christians in Nigeria.  Here also is satellite imagery of the most recent devastation.  One could ask why the American media does not cover this greater atrocity with the same fervor it has the Charlie Hebdo attack, but to raise it is to answer it.

End the Muslim Prayer Call at Duke University – One has to admire Franklin […]

Praying for Your Leaders?

It is easy to become frustrated with politics and government. It is easy for us to throw up our hands as Christians and say, “Well, politics is not the essence of Christ’s kingdom, so I’m just not going to invest much (if any) energy there.” Some find it discouraging because it seems that we are often “losing” political battles. But friends, we are only really losing when we are unfaithful to Jesus. Even the martyrs know that they won even though they lost in the face of persecution from earthly authorities as they stood for truth (Revelation 6:9-10). If we are being faithful in Christ, then we are always winning. So, it might be a good time to ask if you are being faithful to God’s call on your life with respect to your leaders, especially as lawmakers take up their work afresh across our land in the month of January.

There will always be considerable debate about what God requires of us as we relate to government. But we are all to pray for our leaders; that is one indisputable truth. Paul urges in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and […]

Dr. Fundamentalis–“Faithful Unto Death”

On January 1, 1937 J. Gresham Machen died. Though he died at the early age of 55, Machen was an accomplished man. He stood fast against the theological liberalism and Modernism of his day with great personal loss, and championed the cause of Jesus Christ with an unwavering conviction to the Bible. He also helped to found the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Theological Seminary.

While most of the world has probably never heard of Machen, his death commanded the attention of the American journalist, essayist, and scholar, H.L. Mencken. Mencken wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a Christian. In fact, he believed it was “excessively dubious.” Yet, his admiration for the unwavering and faithful Machen has been memorialized in an obituary he wrote. In his estimation Machen was a man of “great learning and sharp intelligence.” I post it here not only because it’s a remarkable witness to a man I esteem highly, but because it’s a wonderful testimony to the influence of conviction. The world doesn’t need a jellyfish Christianity. It needs a Christianity, informed by the eternal truth of God with a backbone of steel. That, in many ways, characterizes Gresham Machen.  As Mencken reflected, “Religion, if […]

Browse Worthy: Engaging the Culture

I commend these posts with their resources that help us think Biblically and proactively about the cultural events roiling around us.

A Time to Speak – In an effort to promote “God’s multiethnic vision for the church,” The Gospel Coalition sponsored a streamed discussion the other day on the racial tensions in our land.  This post shows you the helpful resources and ongoing dialogue they are offering.

George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, You, and Me – As the Sony hackers put online not only movies but private records and correspondences,  Tim Challies offers these sobering thoughts for you to consider.

Moses without the Supernatural – Ridley Scott’s “Exodus:Gods and Kings” – With his typical insightful analysis, Al Mohler reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly about the new Exodus movie.

Save Us, Superman!! (And then leave us alone.)

As we look back at some of the most popular films of the past few years, and as we look ahead to movies in production, it is clear that superheroes have captured the imagination of our culture.  If we’re at all into it, we have our favorites.  My nine year old son has thought a lot about superman in particular, and he has concluded that the Man of Steel is, to quote him precisely, “a pansy.”  This is just one of the many reasons I am so proud of my boy.

Superman has it so easy that it’s hard to respect him.  He’s got ridiculous strength, x-ray vision, the power of flight – and to top it all off, a full head of perfectly placed, silken black hair.  (Some of us are particularly envious of that last attribute.) Batman is more like it.  There’s a Gothic grittiness to the dark knight; he works in the shadows and only pretends as Bruce Wayne to like the limelight in order to keep criminals from discovering his secret identity.  And forgive me if this offends you, but the quasi-realism of Batman is precisely why he and Superman should never be in the same story. […]