Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar Pistorious & Andrew Partington

You have heard about Oscar Pistorious. Have you also heard about Andrew Partington? Mr. Partington cut two gas pipes in the rented house he occupied. He let the property fill with gas and then lit a cigarette. The result was a massive explosion which obliterated his house and the neighboring houses. The body of a toddler, Jamie Heaton, was found under the rubble of one of those houses.

What do Oscar Pistorious and Andrew Partington have in common, besides that fact that they both violently ended the life of another human being? Both were living with a woman to whom they were not married.

I know, I know, the world claims that has nothing to do with anything. The world claims that there is nothing unhealthy or sinful about unmarried people living together. The world claims that there is no problem with sexual immorality in just about any form. The world is wrong.

The sexually immoral are more likely to develop a number of health problems (including serious problems like cancer and AIDS). They are much more likely to suffer violence toward themselves or their children. So why is sexual immorality treated as a neutral personal choice?

Sexual immorality, in all of its various forms, dishonors God, is spiritually destructive, and is physically unsafe. If you do not want to end up like Reeva Steenkamp, do not shack up. If you do not want more children to end up like Jamie Heaton, then be willing to denounce those who defy God's commands regarding sex outside of marriage.

Our government claims to have a right to forbid activities that are unhealthy, yet they encourage forms of immorality which they know to be terribly unhealthy.

Christians ought, at the very least, to speak out against such sins.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Strange Decision

According to a review article in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, Zondervan Publishing Company has made a strange decision. Zondervan holds the copyright for the New International Version, which has been the biggest seller among English Bibles for the past two decades. Last year Zondervan (owned by News Corp. -- Rupert Murdock) decided to bring out a "gender inclusive" revision of the NIV. More recently they decided that they will no longer respond to requests for permission to use the older version of the NIV (the one many of you probably use).

This means that authors who want to quote the NIV in published works will not be allowed to do so. I am told that this also means that it will be illegal for churches to quote the NIV in their church bulletins or to project words from the NIV on the screen. I do not understand how that can be the law, but that is what the author of the CTQ article claims, and he might know the law better than I do.

This is surely a strange decision. Here is a company that owns the copyright to the best selling Bible, but they are refusing to sell it. Instead they have substituted a less accurate revision of their best-selling version and removed the bestseller from the market.

As Michael Medved said of Hollywood, "Money explains most of what happens, but not everything." Some people are so eager to push their agenda that they are willing to lose money to push it.

If you use an NIV printed before last year, you better take good care of it. What is being sold now, and marked NIV, is actually different.

I do not say that it would be impossible for someone to get to heaven reading the new revision of the NIV, but I do question why this is happening and where it is headed. When businessmen begin to make decisions like this, we seem to be up against a level of evil we have not experienced for several generations.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Always Straining Forward

H. Leo Boles has been quoted as saying to his fellow preachers, "I read the Bible through every year. I read 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus every month." Brother Boles' point was that men doing the work of an evangelist need to be constantly reminded of the nature of their task. Brother Boles was one of the most respected preachers of his generation, yet he knew that he needed to constantly review the basics.

When a king took office in Israel, he was supposed to make his own copy of the Mosaic law, and to review that law all the days of his life (Deut 17:18-19). Most of Israel's kings were too proud to do this, and it showed in the way they ruled.

The championship is not normally won by the team with the best athletes but by the team that practiced the fundamentals most diligently.

I have been preaching for forty years; but I still read a book on how to preach every year. Rarely do I learn anything completely new. More often I am reminded of something that I was in danger of forgetting.

I cannot understand those who have given up on learning, who are satisfied with the level of service they have achieved. I want to be constantly improving and somehow I think that every person for whom Christ died should have this same goal.

Raymond Kelcy used to tell of a famous artist who was asked, "Of all your famous works which do you feel is your best." The artist replied, "The next one." Might we all have the attitude that we want to be constantly improving in our efforts to glorify God.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, ... (Philip. 3:13-15)

Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:27)