(wk. of Dec 26, 16 - Jan 1, 2017)
“I will see you in a year, Lord willing.”
A one-year vow
Pursuing a right and Biblical perspective
Andree Sue Peterson, World Magazine
On Dec. 8 I decided on a one-year experiment. Some of us will not be here in a year, which I hasten to acknowledge, under advisement of Scripture that those who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” should rather say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” ( James 4:13-15 ).
I have embarked on a one-year vow in hopes of God moving powerfully in the lives of my children. There is little else but prayer that one can do at this stage for adult children, but prayer is no mere consolation prize. Let those parents who have regrets take heart and pray. Can you imagine that there are children in the world who have never once been prayed for by anyone in their lives?
As I was contemplating these things, verses came to me quite spontaneously, conferring confidence that it was the Spirit and not the flesh endorsing the plan (the flesh and the devil don't talk like that): “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” ( Romans 12:1 ), and, “Greater love hath no one than this …” ( John 15:13 ).
Then there were the “who knows” passages, a number of sightings in the Bible that invite godly speculation about a powerful work of God based on His character as gracious and merciful. (See Joel 2:12-14 and Esther 4:14 ).
Especially germane is the King David “Who knows?” regarding the death of his newborn. He fasts and prays prostrate for days to appeal to God to change His mind about requiring the life of his son for his sin with Bathsheba. When the infant dies and David rises up and washes and changes his clothes and goes to the house of God and worships, David tells his baffled servants: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” ( 2 Samuel 12:15-23 ).
This is the right perspective in making a vow. Not a “Who knows?” about the power or love of God. But a “Who knows?” about whether God will answer my plea in exactly the way I am hoping.
My husband had struck the same note. When I asked him what he thought of the one-year plan—since it is a husband's right to veto a wife's rash vow ( Numbers 30:8 )—he got thoughtful and said, “The only danger will be to try to make it a quid pro quo .” That was a good word.
There is little else but prayer that one can do at this stage for adult children, but prayer is no mere consolation prize.
There was the question of whether a vow is even Biblical. This was not problematic for me. The Bible says, “Do not take an oath at all” ( Matthew 5:34 ). But it also says, “I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people” ( Psalm 116:18 ).
“In the presence of all his people” settled the matter of whether a vow needs to be secret. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them,” says Matthew 6:1 , and, “when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites … that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret” ( 16-18 ). But I will not look gloomy, and you will not see me in any case. Daniel's Babylonian eunuch knew he was acting on a vow. Come February or March you will forget. And by December next I will have a report that, God willing, will glorify Him.
I decided to wait a few days lest resolve be proved impetuousness and I be put to shame like the builder who set out to build before he knew he had the resources to go through with it ( Luke 14:28-29 ). As the king of Israel rightly said to Ben-hadad of Syria: “Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off” ( 1 Kings 20:11 ).
I will see you in a year, Lord willing.
“...too many among us put more faith in “princes and kings” in the false hope he (or she) can deliver us, instead of the One who really can.”
The familiarity of Christmas
Putting faith not in politicians, but in the One who can actually deliver us
Cal Thomas, World Magazine
Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt. Not if it's a familiarity with Christmas.
While America and much of the world are focusing attention on the coming of the new president, little attention is paid to a gift not even the world's richest person could pay for.
The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. A look back at one of the greatest sermons ever preached about Christmas by the man credited with splitting Christianity from the dominant Roman Catholic Church seems appropriate.
Martin Luther's understanding of what we euphemistically call “the real meaning of Christmas” was absolute. After underscoring the humble backgrounds of Mary and Joseph and noting how rich travelers stayed in far better surroundings than the stable the two who would become the world's most famous couple were forced to occupy, Luther commented: “See, this is the first picture with which Christ puts the world to shame and exposes all it does and knows. It shows that the world's greatest wisdom is foolishness, her best actions are wrong and her greatest treasures are misfortunes.”
Such a notion should humble a politician, even a president, if that were possible. And yet too many among us put more faith in “princes and kings” in the false hope he (or she) can deliver us, instead of the One who really can.
Martin Luther's understanding of what we euphemistically call “the real meaning of Christmas” was absolute.
Luther strips away any notion of dignity or honor, noting that Mary and Joseph “had neither money nor influence to secure a room in the inn, hence they were obliged to lodge in a stable. O world, how stupid! O man, how blind thou art! But the birth itself is still more pitiful. There was no one to take pity on this young wife, who was for the first time to give birth to a child; no one to take to heart her condition that she, a stranger, did not have the least thing a mother needs in a birth-night. There she is without any preparation, without either light or fire, alone in the darkness, without anyone offering her service as is customary for women to do at such times.”
In the polar opposite of what humankind longs for in fame, riches, and honor, Luther speaks of the lowly shepherds to whom the initial announcement of this unique birth was communicated: “Behold how very richly God honors those who are despised of men, and that very gladly. Here you see that his eyes look into the depths of humility, as is written, ‘He sitteth above the cherubim' and looketh into the depths. Nor could the angels find princes or valiant men to whom to communicate the good news; but only unlearned laymen, the most humble people upon earth. Could they not have addressed the high priests, who it was supposed knew so much concerning God and the angels? No, God chose poor shepherds, who, though they were of low esteem in the sight of men, were in heaven regarded as worthy of such great grace and honor.”
Next month, we will inaugurate another U.S. president. Pomp, ceremony, and considerable ego will be on display. Two thousand years ago there was another “inauguration” of sorts, one whose goal is out of reach of the smartest political leader. That One had—and has—the power to transform lives and fit them for another world. It is a world, according to the baby born in Bethlehem of Judea who became a man and Savior to billions worldwide, that will—unlike this world and the little it offers—never pass away.
“Free-speech protections are intended to allow unpopular and uncomfortable viewpoints, so why would popular and comforting speech need protecting?
Sober and vigilant witnesses
A college student's free speech case provides an opportunity for believers to examine themselves
La Shawn Barber, World Magazine
A Christian college student wanted to share his faith on campus. Last summer, after Chike Uzuegbunam began speaking to students at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) in Lawrenceville, Ga., and handing out religious literature, authorities at the taxpayer-supported school told him to stop. Uzuegbunam was told he needed advance-notice permission and had to confine his speech to two small areas on campus. After he submitted to their rules, he began sharing his faith again, but campus police stopped him because people complained.
GGC's speech code prohibits speech that “disturbs the peace” or makes people uncomfortable. Sadly, this isn't a parody. Today's college students, whose ancestors stormed the beaches of Normandy and endured prisoner-of-war camps, can't handle exposure to a worldview different from their own secular leftist one.
Free-speech protections are intended to allow unpopular and uncomfortable viewpoints, so why would popular and comforting speech need protecting? Do you think the school would be this restrictive if a student wanted to speak to students about protecting the right to an abortion or the rights of students who suddenly identify as the opposite sex to use the restroom of their choice?
In any case, Uzuegbunam obtained Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as his legal counsel to protect his rights, and ADF filed a federal lawsuit on Monday.
The lawsuit , Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski , explains that “the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects speech that is provocative and challenging, and prohibits the government from restricting speech simply because listeners find it offensive or discomforting.” Additionally, the suit requests an immediate suspension of GGC's policies and a declaration that they violate the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It further notes that the college has acted in an unacceptably discriminatory manner by accommodating non-religious students seeking space for expression while silencing Uzuegbunam.
The left's diversity fetish doesn't include tolerating ideas critical of diversity itself or of godlessness. An educational institution, especially one that receives money from hard-working taxpayers, should allow students to say unpopular things and to exercise their faith, both constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. This would include openly sharing the gospel.
We share the gospel by word and deed. How we live testifies to Christ's power to change lives.
Cases like Uzuegbunam's give Christians an opportunity for self-examination. We share the gospel by word and deed. How we live testifies to Christ's power to change lives. Unbelievers are always watching and waiting to catch us contradicting ourselves and being hypocrites. It might be lost on some of the lost that Christians are still sinners or that perfect people don't need a Savior. Regardless, we bear a burden to keep our own behavior in check as the Enemy seeks to undermine us.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” the Apostle Peter wrote . “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
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