Rachel Still Weeps

Jakob Steinhardt - Rachel Mourning Her Children - 1953 (art.famsf.org)

Originally posted at Sometimes a Light, December 16.

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18)

It’s happened again—only this time it wasn’t in Connecticut but almost 7,000 miles away in Peshawar, Pakistan. This morning, gunmen broke into classrooms and slaughtered boys and girls as they sat learning. It’s a story we know too well: December. School. Children. Death.

Tonight, parents will return to empty beds; food will be left uneaten; and a soccer ball will stand in the courtyard, still and unmoving. And just as they did two years ago, despite the divide of language and culture, our own mother—and father—hearts will crack, life and hope leaking out of us, as we wonder how is there any meaning in this? Read more about Rachel Still Weeps

The Basis and Mandate of Christian Ethics

The simplicity of Paul’s ethical mandate for believers is unmistakable in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever then you eat or you drink or whatever you do—all unto God’s glory you are to do.” In that context Paul challenges the Corinthian believers specifically to handle freedoms pertaining to eating and drinking in a such a way as to contribute to the purpose for all activity: to glorify God.

If God’s own purpose in His activities is His own glory (e.g., Eph 1:6, 12, 14), then it should come as no surprise that the stated singular purpose in our activities is that we should likewise glorify Him. This is the ought of Christian ethics: that we should glorify God, and it is important that we also understand the is upon which the ought is grounded. Read more about The Basis and Mandate of Christian Ethics

Book Review: The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel

The book under review is the result of a conference that was held in New York in support of the special place of Israel in the Scriptures. Seventeen contributors put forth various articles under the headings of New Testament, Old Testament, Hermeneutics, Theology & Church History, and Practical Theology. A Forward is provided by popular writer Joel Rosenberg. The Introduction is by Glaser, and a short Conclusion is by Bock.

The purpose of the book is to bring together studies advocating the place of “Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God’ as the subtitle has it. The presenters come from the broadly premillennial camp; many are dispensationalists.

On the whole the articles are brief—about 12 to 15 pages on average, but for the most part each author has made good use of their allotted space. It may be helpful to give a few general remarks about the contributions rather than choosing one or two pieces for extended comment.

In the first place I found Rosenberg’s Forward to be off-putting. It is written in a journalistic parlance which is at odds with the tenor of most of the articles. It also focuses on biblical prophecies being fulfilled in our time, which seems a questionable assertion. That said, I agree with the statement that the existence of the State of Israel today is testimony to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (17). Nevertheless, I think the book could have done with a less popular opening. Read more about Book Review: The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel

The True Message of Christmas

Nativity - Andrea Sabbatini (16th century)

Every year it becomes sadly apparent that fewer and fewer Americans understand what Christmas really means.

Christmas is an international celebration of a moment in history on planet Earth when God’s eternal Son, whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ, became a genuine and permanent member of mankind in order to die for our sins upon a cross.

The key word is love—not our love, but God’s love. In spite of our profound selfishness, pride and indifference to the claims of a holy and loving God, He—not willing that any should perish—provided the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God, to die in our place—as our substitute, our divine and sinless representative—and to rise from the dead.

Christ (the Messiah) was born in Bethlehem of Judea and raised in Nazareth of Galilee 2,000 years ago. He was sent into the world by God the Father because of His love for human beings. Read more about The True Message of Christmas

From the Archives: Humanism's Delusional Dream

A Humanist Manifesto was signed by thirty-four men in 1933. Scorning any notions of religion based on divine revelation, the signatories cast vision and set guidelines to achieve peace and goodwill on earth through enlightened human effort. Six years later, the world’s superpowers tumbled headlong into a catastrophic World War. Millions were slaughtered.

Following World War II, millions more were butchered by regimes laboring in the supposed interest of economic utopia. The agenda of these regimes synchronized with the Manifesto’s vision decrying “profit-motivated society” and calling for “radical change in methods, controls, and motives.” The Manifesto contended that “a socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible…. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.” Apparently the Humanist signatories never envisioned the barbaric means by which dictators such as Stalin and Mao would “demand a shared life.”

In 1973 Humanist Manifesto II was signed by twenty-one Nobel laureates. The document began with these telling words: Read more about From the Archives: Humanism's Delusional Dream

Following in the Footsteps of Faith Part 6: The Life-Long Process of “Faith Refinement”

Meeting of Abraham & Melchizedek, Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

Read the series so far.

Listen sometime to an NFL or college football coach after they have just won a Super Bowl or national championship. Almost inevitably you will get some excitement about this achievement in their lives and how much it means to the players, etc. But that interview always seems to come back to this theme: “that was great, but it means that the coaches who didn’t make the playoffs have had this much time to get a head start on next season.” It’s a never-ending process.

On a much smaller scale I go through this each week with sermon prep. I study, pray, meditate, study some more, and form a message (hopefully from God) from the text for the week. I stand up Sunday and deliver a word from the Lord, then go home exhausted. Sunday night we do it again. Monday is a day of rest, and the cycle begins again on Tuesday. Read more about Following in the Footsteps of Faith Part 6: The Life-Long Process of “Faith Refinement”

From the Archives: Christmas Marvel

VanHornthorst

Seven hundred years before Christ (i.e., Messiah) was born, the prophet Isaiah was told that He would be one person with two natures—divine and human.

At a time of great crisis for Israel, the house of David was given a great promise. “Then he said, ‘Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son [i.e., fully human], and shall call His name Immanuel [i.e., God with us, fully divine]’” (Isa. 7:13-14). In the very next chapter, the prophet is told that the God of Israel is “Immanuel” (Isa. 8:8; cf. 8:10).

But how could a virgin have a child? That was the urgent question that Mary asked Gabriel, the messenger-angel sent from God: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). The answer was astounding, and is recorded by Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14): “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit [i.e., the third person of the triune God] will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…. For with God nothing will be impossible’ ” (Luke 1:35-37). Read more about From the Archives: Christmas Marvel

Bible Colleges in the 21st Century (Part 2)

From Voice, Nov/Dec 2014. Used by permission. Read part 1.

Most of the innovations sweeping higher education are products of the Internet that is quickly transforming virtually everything and making our entire world more global, mobile, social, visual and digital.

Global

The world of work is increasingly international. As more and more companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and be culturally diverse. Working from his home country of St. Vincent, a West Indian pastor/graphic artist designed the current Piedmont logo. That seemed most appropriate to me as we added “International” to our school name and featured the curvature of the earth in the logo. Read more about Bible Colleges in the 21st Century (Part 2)

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