Friday, November 28, 2014

Phil Hughes

Cricket is often compared to baseball, but it is in fact much more polite and slow paced. Cricket is played in a leisurely fashion, with pauses for lunch and tea. A full length game takes five days to complete. Rarely do cricketers dirty their uniforms. Arguing or even showing strong emotion is strictly forbidden. Serious injuries are very rare in cricket.

But still, the ball is hard, harder than a baseball. And the ball travels fast. Baseballs sometimes reach 100 miles per hour. Cricket balls have been clocked as high as 120.

Of course, cricket players take precautions. They wear pads all over. They wear helmets with face masks.

Australian cricketer Phil Hughes was wearing a helmet last week, but it seems the ball bounced just right, and he turned just right. The ball hit him in the forehead just above the mask and just below the helmet. Phil Hughes is dead. He was 25 years old.

I trust that you take precautions with your life. I trust that your car has lots of safety features and that you try to drive it carefully. I trust that you try to keep your home safe.

But still, life is uncertain. There will always be a gap between the mask and the helmet, or a safety feature that goes wrong, or some unexpected danger we did not anticipate. We should be careful, but we must also be prayerful. No matter how careful we are, life is uncertain and we must remain prepared for eternity.

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you
. (Psalm 39:4-7, ESV)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Exposing Sin To Restore Fortunes

Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading (Lamentations 2:14, ESV).

Not all prophets are equal. Some prophets tell people what needs to be heard, whether people want to hear it or not. Others tell people what the people desire to hear, whether it is true or not.

The way prophets help others to better their fortunes, according to the verse above, is to expose their sin. But, by preaching false and deceptive visions, these prophets had comforted the people instead. In doing so they led to the downfall of Jerusalem.

The preacher who preaches peace when there is no peace (Jer 6:14 & 8:11) is more enjoyable to hear, no doubt, but he is doing us no good.

The good news of the Gospel should be in every sermon. But often that good news is toward the end of the lesson, after sin has been exposed. We must remember that when the Gospel was first preached the listeners were "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). If we listen to good preaching to the very end, we should walk away hopeful as well as challenged. But if we tune the preacher out because he starts off exposing sin, we will never have our fortunes restored. We will likely walk away discouraged (as well as unsaved).

The doctor who prescribes before diagnosing is a quack. The same with the preacher who fails to expose iniquity. Such doctoring, such preaching, might make us feel good, but it will do us no long-term good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Some Are More Equal"

I do not know if Shrien Dewani is guilty of murdering his wife. But I do know that he is getting a very unusual trial.

In most trials the question of motive looms large. Judges normally allow the prosecution plenty of time to indicate their theory as to why the accused might have committed the crime. But at the trial of Mr. Dewani that is not being allowed.

According to the prosecutors, Mr. Dewani did not really want to get married because he is homosexual and did not desire a wife. Having been pressured into marriage by his family, he had his wife killed so that he could return to his homosexual behavior. In fact, the prosecutors claim, he returned to viewing homosexual pornography and visiting homosexual prostitutes within hours of his wife's death.

No one claims that this proves he killed her, it was only presented as an indication of his motive. Were the supposed motive a girlfriend, the judge would allow the evidence to go ahead. But since the supposed motive involves homosexual rather than heterosexual immorality, the judge will not allow the evidence to go forward.

Homosexuals should receive fair trials, just like everyone else. But how can it be fair for evidence of motive to be blocked?

This is a clear perversion of justice. As the pigs of Animal Farm said so long ago, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."