Monday, October 31, 2005 

On Grace and Truck Dents

While this will probably come as no shock to many of you, I am learning more and more just how bad of a driver I can be. Unfortunately my wife isn't that much better. Recently, we have had our share of driving damages. About a month ago, she rear-ended a vehicle while traveling to school in early morning traffic. It caused a significant amount of damage to our car, which still remains in the shop, five times longer than the initial estimate required. And then Friday, I was dropping off my truck key to my wife, mistakenly believing that we would actually be getting our car back that day, when backing out of the garage at the hospital where my wife works, I pulled a Sonny Randle. That's an accident that involves hitting a parked car while backing up. It is named after my father, who since his retirement from the police department, has made a second career of such incidents.

But in the midst of all this, God has been incredibly gracious to us. First, He made sure that we were able to have the money to pay for the deductible on the car. Secondly, He sovereignly worked out the situation in our work and school schedules so that we would not have to rent a car (not to mention the fact that gas prices have dropped -- Do you know how much it costs to fill up a gas-guzzling truck twice a week?). And tonight we got a phone call from the man whose truck I backed into. I left a note on his windshield with my phone number and a brief apology and explanation of what I had done.

Now, before you think that I am some kind of saint for leaving a note, realize that it was difficult to do so. I had to fight the urge of my sinful nature to just drive off. Satan sweetly whispered in my ear, "No one is around, you don't have the money, and the guy will never know." Thankfully, the Holy Spirit filled my heart with an overwhelming sense of the fear of God. It was the right thing to do, so I begrudgingly tore a blank sheet of paper I had in my backpack in half, wrote the note, and stuck it under his windshield wiper, all the while secretly wishing (rather sinfully) that it would blow off or get misplaced by the owner. Later, sanity returned and I asked God for mercy, that He might grant the owner of the truck understanding so that we would be able to work something out, or that he or she might be independently wealthy and just cancel the debt.

Well, tonight the man who owned the truck called. When I answered the phone and he told me who he was, I felt like my father told me he did when his father would, days after a incident of misbehavior, remind him that it was time for the punishment -- a good, hard spanking. But to my surprise, he canceled the debt. He said, "the truck already had a dent on that side; you just pushed it in a little farther, so don't worry about it." He told me it was enough that I had placed the note on the truck. There would be no need to pay for the accident. As I struggled for words, I first said, "That is really gracious of you," but remembered that it was not grace he had given me; it was mercy. What I deserved was to be forced to pay for the damages, but he did not hold me to that. He mercifully cancelled the debt. Now, parallels to what Christ did for us abound here. I will not go into detail. But suffice to say that God is gracious to us, even in the midst of our sin.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
-- Romans 5:6-11

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 

"No Babies" for Liberals

It is about time I actually start writing again. I have had my fill of debating moderates and liberals who care less about honest debate and more about keeping their positions whatever the cost to their philosophical integrity. So here it goes.

Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has posted a very interesting commentary on liberal Protestants and their declining desires for childbearing. I find this intriguing in light of a debate I participated in on the subject over at the mainstream Baptist blog. Several folks were waxing rather ineloquently about how once again Dr. Albert Mohler had gotten something else wrong when he advised that the Bible calls for married men and women not to abstain from childbearing and/or childrearing for the sake of convenience. Despite the solid numbers Mohler presented about population growth, they still attempted to argue that there were already too many people on planet Earth to be calling all married couples to continue conceiving. It is unfortunate that one is not able to read that debate now because the author and moderator for that site under criticism from Evangelicals for his numerous scathing, reckless, and unsubstantiated claims regarding conservative Christians and Biblical truth has elected to hide all of his comments. Yes, ladies and gentlemen censorship is alive and well in liberal Christianity.

Back to the article . . . What I find most interesting about this is that only in America (and to some extent the Western world) do people have an aversion to childbearing. In every other part of the world, especially in African and Asian cultures, childbearing is not only a given, it is a rite of passage for men and women. This became glaringly obvious to me recently as I was speaking with four children from Burundi to whom I teach ESL for JCPS. The oldest girl, Sifa, asked me if I was married and I acknowledged to her that I was. She asked me in rather broken English, "Do you have babies?" When I said no, she got this sad look on her face and asked, "Teacher, no babies?" Sadly, I said back, "No, no babies." This was not only confusing for her, she thought it was downright embarrassing for me. I tried to assure her that we would soon have children, but that the timing was not right. I don't think she understood very well what I was trying to say. The rest of the day, she kept saying, "Teacher, no babies" in almost a criticizing, yet sorrowful tone. This was unprecedented to her for a man my age who is married not to have children.

All this made me reflect on that debate. For so many people around the world, children are a blessing of God and are not to be shunned or taken lightly. Barrenness in the Old and New Testaments was looked upon as cursing from God. Yet in the modern Western world, we have flipped that worldview on its head, making marriage and children curses on us. And this attitude is prevailing throughout society -- an "it's all about me" view that believes that entanglements like commitment and childbearing are things that cramp our style and keep us from doing what we really want to do. This will only lead to a society that looks so far inwardly for pleasure and gratification that it collapses as a result.

Until Christ is Formed in All of Us,

About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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