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Archive for October, 2008

“Civilized” societies of the twenty-first century look with disdain upon those cultures which have been guilty of child sacrifice. In times of trouble, children would be sacrificed to some deity of popular imagination in order to placate the wrath of that god. At other times, children would be sacrificed in order to secure blessing, perhaps needed rain for a good crop.

Consider the desire for abortion on demand in our American culture. Why are the lives of unborn children ended? While sophisticates claim that a woman’s “right to choose” must be protected at all costs, they do not really get into the real reasons why that baby’s life must be sacrificed. One may hear something about protecting the “health” of the woman, but the sophisticates are referring to a woman’s psychological health, a particularly nebulous criterion, not physical, because protecting a woman’s physical life is granted by most pro-life advocates as a necessary consideration.

What sophisticates do not want to enter the conversation is that the child’s life is sacrificed in order to appease the gods of twenty-first century culture. Having to carry this child to birth will impede the mother’s pursuit of the god of pleasure or the god of recreation or the god of education or the god of career or the god of personal freedom. Ultimately, the child is sacrificed on the altar of selfishness, the supreme god of this age.

Future generations will look upon ours as being consumed with selfishness and irresponsibility. We certainly will not be esteemed as “sophisticated.”

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That Barack Obama supports a woman’s “right” to an abortion is a given. The fact that many evangelical Christians are supporting Obama for President is not surprising. Many evangelicals, particularly young pastors, love being “cool,” and it’s “cool” to support Obama.

The one thing I cannot reconcile is supporting a candidate for the highest political office (or any office, for that matter) in the United States with the recognition that that candidate supports the taking of an unborn baby’s life. Perhaps “cool” evangelicals are tired of being portrayed by the mainstream media as out-of-touch, knuckle-dragging fundamentalists.

I realize that these “cool” evangelicals will argue that abortion is not the only issue that determines a candidate’s viability, and I agree with that. However, no other issue trumps the taking of innocent life. Other issues can be debated and solutions proffered. From a biblical perspective, though, abortion on demand is not debatable.

“Cool” evangelicals announce their opposition to abortion and their hope to be able to steer Obama their way. The word gullible comes to mind. Actually, the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy seem more applicable:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:1-4, ESV).

Frankly, “cool” evangelicals are selling out the faith, satisfying the itching ears of popular culture. Seeking popularity, perhaps even in the name of evangelism, these evangelicals seek a place at the table with those who have set their faces against the only true God. While they enjoy the meal, are they bothered by the blood on their hands?

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The word “discipline” doesn’t create a great deal of joy when it is offered. Kynette and I have close friends in Kentucky who have a son named Jacob. A couple of years ago, Jacob was on a “I hate discipline” kick. “‘Discipline’ is a dirty word,” he would moan. His moaning would evoke my truthful teasing: “‘Discipline’ is a lovely word; it is a beautiful word. We need discipline.”

Fallen nature is generally not in love with the idea of discipline, especially self-discipline. We may not mind, indeed, we may even applaud, the disciplining of others. We can probably wax eloquent on the need for others to exercise self-discipline in areas of their lives. After all, we all know somebody who needs to back away from the table a little sooner, who needs to stay out of the mall or viewing the Home Shopping Network channel on TV, who needs to work more (or perhaps work less), or who needs to do more or less in some area in which they’re not measuring up to our standards.

Really, aren’t we really being quite spiritual in desiring others to be more self-disciplined?

Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.

Yes, “discipline” is a beautiful word for others, but we’re really like our young friend Jacob when it comes to discipline in our own lives. We desire comfort, pleasure, and taking it easy. “‘Discipline’ is a dirty word,” we moan.

Political candidates appeal to this “discipline is a dirty word” mindset when they run for legislative office. Americans have become a self-satisfied and soft people who disdain the practice of self-discipline and responsibility. Did people take out a mortgage that they’re unable to pay? Not to worry—the government will take care of you. Did a woman have sexual intimacy outside of marriage and now finds herself having conceived a child? No problem—our nation has legislated unborn baby killing on demand (if my words sound too harsh to delicate ears, consider how harsh the saline solution is to the unborn child).

Unfortunately, professing Christians fare little better when it comes to the concept of discipline. We want a Christianity which really requires little of us that contradicts our inclinations. We’re all for reading our Bibles, praying, evangelism, corporate Bible study and worship—when we’re inclined to do it. We wonder why our progress in the faith is so slow and why our thinking is so worldly.

The problem is that our inclinations are controlled by our flesh, and we know that our flesh does not yearn for the things of God. Our inclination is to turn on the television or pick up a novel. Our inclination is to sleep in on Sunday morning, or at least sleep during the sermon.

The Bible, though, puts a heavy emphasis upon discipline, especially the discipline of ourselves. Paul understood this well and recognized the necessity of self-discipline in his own life: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, ESV). Our Lord insisted that self-discipline is the necessary mindset for his disciples: “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Luke 9:23, ESV).

Far from being a “dirty” word, discipline is a necessity. It is a necessity to be Christ’s disciple; it is a necessity if we are to grow in godliness.

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