Caronavirus Clarification

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by Nathan Chanski

no, the world has not gone crazy. the world is more sane today than it’s been in a long time. especially my generation, who in our lifetime haven’t seen much disruption to our instagramable lifestyle.

desperate moments clarify like nothing else can. it reminds us that we’re all fragile and human, and that loving one another and dependence on God is pure survival. it quickly reminds us that our “unshakable” world is ever so easily brought to it’s pathetic knees within days. whether this all turns out to be an overdramatized hiccup or it ends up being a global catastrophe, don’t waste this. don’t waste this opportunity to stare in the face what exactly life is.

a part of me wishes that within a couple weeks this would all just blow over and life as we knew it would pick back up where it left off. another part of me is sick with the thought of us all carrying on with our meaningful meaninglessness. back to living for our next travel date. living for our next career move. living for our next night out. followed by the horrifying reality that one day we will run out of next things. you were made for more than that, friend.

the hand that created your life is the same one reaching out to save your life, and “the free gift is eternal life in Jesus” Roman 6:23.

what kindness an illness of the body could be, if only to wake up a world to the eternally defining illness within their souls

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9Marks Ministry Book Review: Encouragement, by Mark Chanski

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An Excerpt from Mark Redfern’s analysis:

Chanski begins the book with the metaphor of adrenaline. Adrenaline is able to push us through difficulty, carry us in hardship, and empower us in weakness. He writes, “What adrenaline is able to chemically and physiologically do for the body, encouragement is able to emotionally and psychologically do for the soul” (5).

Then, in the first chapter, he motivates us with what encouragement accomplishes through a brief survey of Proverbs: encouragement strengthens, gladdens, fattens, sweetens, and enlivens. Knowing that encouragement does not come to even redeemed sinners naturally (otherwise it would not need to be commanded), Chanski supplies us with a broader perspective on the personal benefits of abounding in encouragement. He also roots our motivation to encourage others with the gospel with God’s gracious motivation of us in the gospel. We are called to give to others what God so abundantly supplies to us. In fact, Chanski devotes a whole chapter to the gospel as “the ultimate encouragement.”

CLEAR OBLIGATION

With the motivation in view, Chanski guides us into understanding our obligation to encourage others. He gives us a model to follow through an extended look at Paul’s encouraging words to his co-laborers in Romans 16.

Chanski is clear that encouragement can come in a variety of ways. There’s concrete expressions of encouragement like direct commendation, communicating our approval, name recognition, passing on good reports, and cheering others on. But there’s also indirect expressions, too, like appropriate physical touch, body language, and expressing empathy. All of it covers our clear biblical obligation to be encouraging.

SOBER REFLECTION

The book especially excels in its penetrating diagnosis of why we don’t encourage. Chanski carefully exposes how our sinful self-preoccupation wars against a biblical others-orientation.

It’s helpful to know why we should encourage and what it looks like to do so. But if we really want to grow in this, then we need to take an extensive look “under the hood” at what disinclines us from doing so. 

SPECIFIC APPLICATION

The latter chapters of the book explore the role of encouragement in three vital areas: marriage, parenting, and the church. These chapters are especially noteworthy for their specific examples and practical takeaways. Any pastor or church member will find more than sufficient “provocation” to good works.

PURCHASE, PERUSE, AND PRACTICE

A word of encouragement: Purchase, peruse, and practice this book. Don’t just purchase it. And don’t just peruse it. Practice it.

You can read the whole review here: https://www.9marks.org/review/book-review-encouragement-by-mark-chanski/

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Living Bold as a Lion

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“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Proverbs 28:1

Joseph Hall writes:

The wicked is a very coward, and is afraid of everything;

of God, because He is his enemy;

of Satan, because he is his tormentor;

of God’s creatures, because, they, joining with their Maker, fight against him;

of himself, because he bears about with him his own accuser and executioner.

The godly man contrarily is afraid of nothing;

not of God, because he knows Him his best friend, and will not hurt him;

not of Satan, because he cannot hurt him;

not of afflictions, because he knows they come from a loving God, and end in his good;

not of the creatures, since “the very stones in the field are in league with Him;”

not of himself since his conscience is at peace.

 

 

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Review of ENCOURAGEMENT Adrenaline for the Soul

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by Robert Dale

In addition to reprinting the classic Reformed books of the past, Reformation Heritage Books (RHB) are also publishing good contemporary literature.

Mark Chanski has been a pastor at Harbor Reformed Baptist Church, Holland, Michigan since 1994.  He writes here with a true pastor’s heart of the need for Christians to encourage one another.  This is rooted in Scripture – not only the obvious texts, but also many others that may have escaped your attention previously.  (The Scripture index contains 278 references).

In addition to Biblical examples, there are many historical and contemporary illustrations.  British readers may be bewildered at times by references to American sports, but the main thrust is always clear!

His running theme is that encouragement works like adrenaline, giving renewed energy to those who are growing weary and discouraged.

For balance, there is a chapter also on Biblical correction: he is not suggesting, by any means, that we must only ever say nice things to one another, simply that we could all do more to strengthen one another by expressing our appreciation and approval of one another – a much needed emphasis in these difficult days.

This is a very practical book that will make you want to go out and find someone to encourage.

https://www.amazon.com/Encouragement-Adrenaline-Shots-Mark-Chanski/dp/160178662X

 

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Ripple Effects

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Last Monday I was in Washington DC, and had some spare time before my later-in-the-day flight back home, so I visited Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s quite a sight —  the burial ground for our nation’s soldier heroes.  400,000 bodies sleep there — gravestones as far as the eye can see.

Some say, “What a waste of precious human life!”

“A man dies … only a few circles in the water prove that he was ever there. And even they quickly disappear. And when they’re gone, he’s forgotten, without a trace, as if he’d never even existed. And that’s all.” — Wolfgang Borchert, The Outsider

But on my way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I saw engraved into a wall these words of Robert F. Kennedy:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Then I was soon staring at the polished sentinel guarding his countless, nameless, sleeping comrades.  They’d made the ultimate sacrifice to keep free and safe my wife and her babies.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).

Bobby was so right.

Thankful for daring heroes who know it.

 

 

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Dear Congressman, Regarding Plans to Draft My Daughter…

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A father in our church penned this letter to his Representative.  Don’t miss the last paragraph.

Rep. Huizenga,

I am a taxpayer from your district writing to you because I’ve read in the news that a bill has been introduced to the House considering a requirement for women to register for the draft.

I want to encourage you to oppose any requirement for our daughters to register in the Selective Service.

The truth is that God created men and women differently.  Men and women are physically and mentally suited to excel in different areas. 

The Declaration of Independence evokes “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” in its preamble.  Nature itself, via physical endowment, and Nature’s God, through His Word, have assigned to men the roles of protector and provider.  I am trying to teach my sons that it honors God and honors women when men live out these assignments, imitating our Protector and Provider in Heaven.

It would be wrong for our government to force fathers, husbands, and brothers to abandon their God-given duty to protect their daughters, wives, and sisters from harm.  The role of fighting is for men.  To force families to give up their daughters to military service is a form of discrimination against Christian people who are attempting to order their lives according to the revelation of scripture.

I believe that God gave me a daughter as a precious gift, and it is my God-assigned duty to protect her and provide for her.  I want to protect her from being shot at by enemy troops.  I want to protect her from being sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers. 

If drafting women is something that the Congress finds inevitable, could you a least include a provision that would allow a father, such as myself, to go and serve in the stead of my daughter, should she be called upon?  I would rather die fighting myself, than send her to war.  It’s my duty, not hers. 

Sincerely,

Matt Potter

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Better Than My Pillow

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Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Charles Spurgeon:

I know of nothing more delightful to the believer than every morning to commit the day’s troubles to God and then go down into the world feeling, “Well, my Father knows it all.” And then at night to commit the troubles of the day again into the great Father’s hands and to feel that He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” It is sweet sleeping when you can have a promise for the pillow at your head!

You know, perhaps, the good old story which is told of the woman on board ship who was greatly afraid in a storm, but she saw her husband perfectly at peace and she could not understand it. Her husband said he would tell her the reason, so, snatching up a sword, he pointed it at her heart. She looked at it, but did not tremble.

“Well,” he said, “are you not afraid? The sword is sharp and I could kill you in a moment.”

“No,” she said, “because it is in your hands!”

“Ah,” he replied, “and that is why I am not afraid— because the storm is in my Father’s hands and He loves me more than I love you!”

A little child was at play in a lower room and as he played away by himself, amusing himself, about every ten minutes he ran to the foot of the stairs and called out, “Mother, are you there?” and his mother answered, “Yes, I am here,” and the little lad went back to his sport and fun—and was as happy as happy could be—and until again it crossed his mind that his mother might have gone.

So he ran to the stairs again and called, “Mother, are you there?”

“All right,” she said, and as soon as he heard her voice again, back he went once more to his play.

It is just so with us.

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Dear God of Creation . . . Could you Possibly be of Some Help?

God of Creation

Is it a waste of breath to pray?

Austin Pryor, who contributed to the January 6 “The World and Everything In It” broadcast, gives us perspective:

“God is a loving Father to His children. If you’re facing challenges, financial or otherwise, He can help you just as He helped me. Trust Him. The story is told of the young Christian student who was distraught because of an argument he had with his girlfriend. He made an appointment to see the youth minister of his church for advice. When he arrived, his wise friend began their meeting with this prayer:

“Dear God of creation, who created the universe from nothing, scattered billions of stars at a mere word, engineered every favorable condition necessary to support life on this blue planet, populated the oceans and the lands with creatures of unimaginable variety and complexity and made man their master . . .

“God of Moses, who turned the mighty Nile into a river of blood, sent hordes of frogs, swarms of lice and flies, a plague of disease and boils, devastating hail, locusts that covered the sky, and the death of Egypt’s firstborn in order to answer the prayers of his people for freedom. . .

“God of the disciples, who on Pentecost received Your power, spoke in other languages so 3,000 were baptized on one day, and then turned the world upside down for Christ . . .

“Father of Jesus, who made the blind see, the lame walk, lepers whole and the dead to rise, and gave His life to rescue those who were hopelessly dead in sin and made them alive to righteousness and eternal life . . .

“God of creation, God of history, God of the Bible, God Almighty . . . could You possibly be of some help with this young man’s girlfriend? Amen.”

You can read Austin Pryor’s entire blog post on Trusting God to Work All Things for Good here:

http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/trusting-god-to-work-things-together-for-good-1311042.html

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Ohio to Citizens: Your Gambling Vices are Chemistry, not Character

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The Ohio Lottery has a new website, and fresh comfort to its statewide gambling addicts: “It’s not your character, it’s your chemistry.

Albert Mohler aptly stated in today’s The Briefing:

”It seems that the forces behind the lottery in Ohio have come to the place where they are now arguing that if a citizen of Ohio or where else that’s involved in the lottery has a problem with gambling in terms of what might be described as an addiction or a dangerous pattern of gambling, the problem is not an issue of character, it’s of chemistry. One of the things we have to not in terms of the moral landscape around us, is the increasing tendency to blame everything on chemistry, particularly on brain chemistry or on some kind of medical reason or rational for bad behavior.”

“What we have here is another attempt to evade the issue of character. One of the issues behind this is the worldview of biological reductionism. A worldview that’s gaining in terms of the academic elites in the United States. A world view that argues that we are basically just a mass of atoms and chemicals, and the chemicals are responsible for our behavior. It’s not reducible to a moral issue, it is—to use the statement on this website—a matter of chemistry, not of character. Notice the precise claim that’s being made in the motto. I quote it again,

It’s not your character it’s your chemistry.

“In other words they are saying very straight forwardly it’s not character at all, it’s all chemistry. This is one of the rarest most pristine forms of this kind of biological reductionism that I’ve ever seen. . . .”

The Columbus Dispatch explains,

The focus of the campaign is on the estimated 5% of Ohioans for whom gambling is a compulsive addictive problem which can result in financial, family and health issues. They may skip a car payment to gamble, lie to their spouse about missing money and even consider suicide. . . .

“Let’s go back to that website, It’s not your character it’s your chemistry. Just as an experiment, let’s assume that we share the worldview that is behind this. That worldview would say, it’s chemistry, it’s not character, but then how in the world does a state put citizens at risk if in deed the problem is even their chemistry if not their character? After all of this is their chemistry, they can’t change their chemistry, so the state of Ohio is seemingly ready to write off about 5% of its citizens because it wants the income coming from legalized gambling. . . .”

“But returning back to thinking from the Christian worldview, there is no reason why Christians will deny that chemistry might be an issue. In a fallen world, as Genesis 3 tells us, we should expect that even our body chemistry, the chemicals in our brain will reflect the damage of the fall, but that doesn’t relieve us of personal responsibility, it doesn’t remove the issue of character.”

“The biblical worldview always has character right at the front and it never leaves the scene. Just imagine how this kind of logic will be transferred to other areas of moral importance. Just imagine a parent correcting a 5 year old from misbehavior for dishonesty or disobedience, and the 5 year old says, hey mom, hey dad, it’s not my character it’s my chemistry. Just imagine someone standing before a judge charged with a very serious crime who says, it’s not my character it’s my chemistry, but wait just a minute, those kind of arguments are already being used, and that shows the moral meltdown of a society.

Once we buy into this kind of biological reductionism, eventually character does disappear, and there is no personal responsibility. That however is a society that gives itself over to moral irresponsibility and moral anarchy, but that’s the kind of society that also allows itself to become increasingly dependent upon the kind of tax income that comes from gambling. That issue of character goes all the way to those most responsible for government, elected officials, and they have no right to say, it’s not character, it’s chemistry. We know the reality. It’s character, it’s character in the capital, it’s character in the court house, and it’s character in the casino.”

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

You can find Albert Mohler’s entire treatment on The Briefing here:

http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/10/08/the-briefing-10-08-15/

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Planned Parenthood is Pro-Life? Spare me!

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In the wake of videos discussing baby crushing over luncheon salad, Dana Milbank, along with other liberal pro-abortionists, have scolded pro-life Republicans for seeking to defund Planned Parenthood.  He claims such defunding would in the long run result in more abortions due to the loss of Planned Parenthood’s widespread and virtuous dispensing of abortion averting contraceptives. He writes:

Senate Republicans this week, teeming with righteous indignation, introduced S. 1881, “a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”

Here’s a better name for it: the Abortion Promotion Act of 2015.

No doubt the authors of the legislation think that anything that hurts Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortions, would further the pro-life cause. But their proposal — defunding all Planned Parenthood operations in retribution for secret videos showing the group’s officials discussing the sale of fetal organs — would do far greater harm to fetuses than anything discussed in the videos.

There already is a ban on federal funding of abortion, with rare exceptions, at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. The federal funds Senate Republicans propose taking away from Planned Parenthood are used largely to provide women with birth control. And because there simply isn’t a network of health-care providers capable of taking over this job if Planned Parenthood were denied funding, this means hundreds of thousands of women, if not millions, would over time lose access to birth control.

Take away women’s contraceptives, and a greater number of unintended pregnancies — and abortions — would inevitably result.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/senate-republicans-accidentally-promote-abortion/2015/07/31/765cacf6-377f-11e5-9d0f-7865a67390ee_story.html

Ross Douthat takes to task Milbank and his ilk with razor precision:

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quiteso prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/there-is-no-pro-life-case-for-planned-parenthood/

Prov. 24:11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.

Prov. 31:8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

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