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Archive for the ‘World Magazine’ Category

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Therefore I Have Hope is an excellent book written by Cameron Cole. The subtitle is 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain & Redeem in Tragedy. For Cole and his wife, this is no theoretical exercise; they lost their very young son in 2013.

In World magazine, Marvin Olasky writes,

The center of the book physically and spiritually is Cole’s sixth truth: God’s providence. Cole relates a story about a woman lamenting her son’s death in a car accident: “Why did God do this to me?” A well-intentioned hospital chaplain replies, “Ma’am, God didn’t have anything to do with your son’s death.” The woman snaps back, “Don’t you take away the only hope I have.”

Cole writes, “Behind the grieving mother’s remark lies the hope that the sovereignty of God enables. If God is not fully sovereign in your suffering, then you cannot trust that He is fully in control of your healing and recovery. If God’s hands are tied when the Worst enters your life, then maybe his powers are also limited in helping you.”

Cole then gets personal: “The idea that God had nothing to do with my son’s death terrifies me…For all of these years I would have falsely believed in a universe with higher  and purpose…If God had nothing to do with my son’s death, then certain pockets of life–the really awful ones in particular–are given over to chance.”

Cole acknowledges that “the matter of God’s sovereignty and goodness invokes tension.” He (and I) knows only one way to reconcile the two: the cross. If Jesus’ suffering was part of God’s goodness, in some hard-to-fathom way ours can be too. As illogical as that seems to atheists, they have failed for 2,000 years to come up with anything better in their own eyes: In their blindness they say light does not exist.”

(World, December 8th, 2018, p. 42)

Don’t ever say to someone God doesn’t have anything to do with tragedy or suffering. When you do, you’re not helping, you’re taking away the only hope they have (and you have).

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Open-my-eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

The psalmist asks God to open His eyes (which only He can) so that he might see the wonderful, or wondrous, things that are contained within His law.

For those with eyes whom God has graciously and sovereignly opened, we see His power, sovereignty, holiness, mercy,  justice, and goodness to name just a few. We hear His promises and see them fulfilled. All of them are wonderful and wondrous.

But it’s possible that the most wonderful thing we behold – not spelled out specifically in chapter and verse, but clearly taught by the whole of Scripture – is the truth of God’s covenant with man.

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary on condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
  2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and to him in his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
  3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraphs 1-3)

One of the most wondrous things in God’s Word is His gracious condescension to save a people for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and He does that by means of His covenant. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t, and could never, earn it through our own efforts. We deserve the opposite of what God gives. Praise God for His grace!

May God open our eyes that we might see His covenants – a wondrous thing!

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Andre Seu Peterson, of WORLD, has some very good thoughts on optimism and thankfulness.

Your mother once told you about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise won the race because he was an optimist. People say it’s because he was persistent, but he wouldn’t have been persistent if he hadn’t been optimistic first. Optimism precedes perseverance. The Apostle Paul observes that dynamic when saying that we have faith and love “because of the hope” (Colossians 1:5). No hope, no reason to get out of bed.

The pessimist’s problem is all in his eye. His eye is defective. He sees everything the same shade of blah, like the Dwarfs in The Last Battle. “Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip.”

“The eye is the lamp of the body.” That is, all experience is filtered through it. “So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).

Christians who are not by nature optimists may have to work a little at becoming so. Here is how you do that—by a conscious, constant cultivation of thanksgiving. This works magic in changing a bad “eye” to a clear eye, and you will be astounded at how much better the world looks. Try it and you will sit before a blank sheet of paper and complain that you have nothing good to put on your list, and then you will come up with 25.

When you get better at it, you will not only have the good things on your thanksgiving list but the bad things and disappointments too. For you will start to see how these bad things were the very ones God used to mature you. I hate to think of what my life would be now if I had been cursed with only pleasant things.

George Müller (1805-1898) is one of the biggest optimists I know of. That crazy guy decided to distribute tracts and to witness among the Jews in London, and he reports, “I had the honor of being reproached and ill-treated for the name of Jesus” (The Autobiography of George Müller). Must be a blessing in there somewhere, right? That’s like the Apostle Paul saying, “I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Come again? If there are “many adversaries,” how does he see it as a “wide door for effective work”?

That’s how an optimist sees.

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“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

Al Mohler writers a letter to American Christians called “Letter from Berlin: The Letters of History and the Heresy of Racial Superiority.” It’s especially important to think about after what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. You can read it here

Joe Carter has written an FAQ on Charlottesville, which can be read here. It’ll help give you a basic grasp of the situation.

The Wall Street Journal has a well-reasoned, well-written editorial about our culture and its response to Charlottesville, focusing on identity politics, in specific. You can read it here.

Does our job matter? Does God have anything to say about in His Word? Yes, our job does matter (including the way we do it), and yes God does have quite a bit to say about it in His Word. Dan Doriani has written a helpful article called “12 Basic Principles for Faith and Work.” You can read it here.

Mindy Belz, of WORLD, says plants needs pruning, but so do we as God’s people. Read her excellent piece here.

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Andree Seu is consistently good in her writing and consistently convicting. “Being in Hate” appeared recently in World magazine. Let him who has ears, hear. Or, you might say, if the shoe fits, wear it.

You have heard of being in love. Have you heard of being in hate? People who are in love generally know they are in love. People who are in hate, not so.

People in love are emotional and realize it. People in hate think they have never been so rational.

We speak of being in love as a state. One can often identify the onset of the condition (and sometimes the expiration of it). We say of a starry-eyed couple, “They are in love.” It is an acknowledgment that something real has overtaken their brains.

There is no comparable common expression for people in hate, because few acknowledge that hate is mind-altering.

But it is. Scripture gives a host of examples. Here we learn that hate invades the mind of its practitioner in very particular ways. Cain hated his brother, and it was suicidal. God tries to rescue him by posing searching questions: “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? … sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7). Cain will not have it. As Screwtape observes, “There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery”(C.S. Lewis).

So consumed with hatred for the children of Israel is Pharaoh that he destroys his own country trying to harm them, crying, “Victory!” as he staggers, mud-splattered, son-bereft, and half insane, among the wreckage. His descent from reason to bestiality alarms even the royal court, who had joined him at first but disembarked from obsession a few exits earlier when they discerned the hand of God: “Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” (Exodus 10:7).

Haman’s hatred led him to a noose of his own making (Esther). Absalom was not the same man right after Tamar’s rape as two years later, when hate had bored like a cankerworm into his soul. It issued in the murder of his brother Amnon—with Absalom’s own royal aspirations also the casualty (2 Samuel 13).

People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity. Micro-choice by micro-choice it seeps away—like Pinocchio and his friends, who begin to sprout donkey ears, a tail, and hideous guffaws unawares, as the wages of debauchery; like the depraved man of whom the Scripture says, “gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not” (Hosea 7:9). He imagines himself to be still his old vigorous self—physically, mentally, and spiritually. But he is deluded. He thinks of hate, “I got this!” Hate says of him, “I got this!”

In the final, drawing room scene of the 2001 movie Conspiracy about the fateful Wannsee Conference of Jan. 20, 1942, that produced the “final solution” for the problem of European Jewry, Gen. Reinhard Heydrich relates to two other SS officers a story told him by Friedrich Kritzinger during the break:

There was a man who loved his mother fiercely but hated his father. The mother had always been kind, but the father had been cruel. When his mother died, at the funeral the man tried to cry but could not. The father lived much longer, but when he finally withered away at an old age, the man was inconsolable.

“I don’t understand,” said one of the officers. “No?” said Heydrich. “The man had been driven all his life by hatred. When the mother died, that was a loss. When the father died—when the hate had lost its object—then the man’s life was empty, over. … That was Kritzinger’s warning.” “What? That we should not hate the Israelites?” “No, that it should not so fill our lives that when they are gone we have nothing left to live for.”

Our politics in America have become hate-driven. But there will be a cost for those who practice it: “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).

This is no analogy or metaphor, but the actual condition of the person “in hate.” It robs the sight of him who wields it.

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If you haven’t read The Babylon Bee, you really need to start. It’s a Christian satire site, somewhat like The Onion. It’s creator is Adam Ford, who also does the Adam4d.com comics site (which is also excellent). Here’s an article from World which gives some background on Adam.

We should take God, His Word, and people seriously – but not ourselves. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves every once in a while to stay sane.

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I read an excellent article in World magazine, written by Rebecca Gault, about a woman named Rachel Norris. After she was converted to faith in Jesus Christ, she became a potter. Working with clay has taught her a number of spiritual lessons. Gault writes:

Norris’ parents retired from the mission field after 32 years and returned to the family homestead in Bryan, Texas. Her mother, overwhelmed from years of battling depression, suffered a nervous breakdown. At the same time, Norris accepted a job near Bryan that ended abruptly. Divorced and unemployed, she moved into her parents’ home. There she began to explore the prophets’ word pictures of God as the Potter and His people as the clay. She reflected on her own life: How God formed her as clay, and how it was His prerogative to smash and reform her, creating a useful vessel.

At her wheel, she formed a pitcher, smashed it and re-wedged the lump. She centered the new lump on the potter’s wheel and formed a new vessel, observing that centering the clay is as much about knowing when to apply pressure as it is knowing when to release. Even lumps go to church, thought Norris. After drying came the fire. This changed the clay’s character. The fire made it strong and fit for use. As creator-potter, Norris monitored her creation’s time in the flame closely, careful not to remove the red, glowing vessel to soon. She chose this clay to become an ornamental fruit bowl and dug her design tools into its flesh. God chose her to display the fruits of the Spirit as a potter.

Today, Norris is remarried with two children and owns Joy Pottery, where she creates functional and decorative clay products. She travels with her wheel, giving personal testimony of brokenness and redemption. “Don’t rest in a place of potential and comfort,” she tells her audiences. The broken pieces off her back porch are memorials of God’s grace. (December 15th, 2012 edition of World, pp. 61-62).

Read Jeremiah 18 and Romans 9 to know more, or remind yourself, about the Potter and His wheel.

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