The Question of War

War is a terrible thing. It separates families, and causes much death, pain, and sorrow. It is cruel; to the “victors”, the “losers”, soldiers, and soldiers’ families…war is cruel to everyone. It hardens men to bloodshed, greed, and hate. It ruins God-given economical resources. War violates many Biblical principles, such as…
“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” – Proverbs 13:10
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:38-39
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:18-21
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
“Thou shalt not kill.” – Exodus 20:13
Obviously, war is not a good thing overall, but should a Christian ever participate in war? It is plain to see in Scripture that war is not always wrong.
“The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.” – Exodus 15:3
“Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:” – Psalm 144:1
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,” – Revelation 12:7
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” – Revelation 17:14
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” – Ephesians 6:10-11
In this question of whether or not a Christian should participate in war, many people would refer to Exodus 20:13, which says, “Thou shalt not kill”. However, our English word “kill” is a mistranslation of what should be rendered, “murder”. Killing is not always wrong. God sometimes delegates vengeance in the form of capital punishment to civil authorities, such as the priests and judges in the Bible. If killing were always wrong, this would be a contradiction. Murder is always wrong, but are casualties of war murder?
Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but does turning the other cheek apply to individuals only? Well, families are made up of individuals. Communities are made up of families. Nations are made up of communities. Governing bodies are made up of individuals. If turning the other cheek applies to individuals, certainly it applies to groups of individuals as well. So as a nation, we should turn the other cheek when we are insulted. Wars for the sake of national pride are not right. But oftentimes, wrongdoing is the cause of war. Isn’t it likely that someone who has done wrong will continue to do so? I would say yes.
Going back to Romans 12:18, we are to live peaceably with all men, “if it be possible”. If it were always possible, surely this caveat would not be included. Yet three verses later, Paul says to overcome evil with good. Aren’t wars, even so-called “just wars”, overcoming evil with evil?
Is there even such a thing as a just war? Well, let’s take a look at Romans 13:3-4: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” This passage basically says that one of the purposes rulers exist is to execute wrath on evildoers, and also implies that using the sword to do so is right and just. So rulers can execute wrath on evildoers by the use of the sword, but in that case they need an army. They can’t just expect to win on their own against aggressors like Hitler.
So they need an army; they need private soldiers and officers. But wait a minute: private soldiers are individuals who have NOT received the authority to execute judgment. The rulers are left in a dilemma here… Let’s go back to Romans 13. Verses 1-2 say: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Is it possible that rulers who have received authority from God to wreak vengeance have also received power to delegate that authority?
This seems to me like it might be the answer. After all, it is impossible for the rulers of this world to personally oversee and accomplish all acts of vengeance and punishment. So when governing leaders of today declare war, it must be right for them to be able to call men of their country to arms and command war efforts.
But rulers are human too. Many of them don’t follow the one true God. There have been many cases, and surely will be many more, where wars fought were unjust. For instance, the Mexican War was fought over land rights, and the U.S. even started it! Those facts certainly do raise questions in my mind as to whether the Mexican War was just.
What about World War II? Hitler and the Axis were doing a lot of wrong things. Yet, those nations were not under the jurisdiction of the United States. Was it right for U.S. forces to step in and fight, when they didn’t directly have that authority? I don’t know the answer to that question for sure, but I do know this: “For he [the LORD] shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.” – Psalm 72:12. Was God working through the U.S.? Probably, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that what they did, stepping in, was right.
You could make the case that the Civil War came about because of wrongdoing – slavery might not always be wrong, but the way they did it was wrong. At the same time, is keeping a country together a good enough reason to fight a war? Sometimes you just have to leave wrongs alone, and God will take care of them in His own good timing. Then again, God does use rulers to accomplish His purposes, and the Civil War did end slavery in the U.S.
Many, many God-fearing people in history, whom I respect very much, have made the choice to fight in wars. Many God-fearing people today fight in wars. Who am I to pronounce whether they do right? “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – Romans 14:10. They alone are responsible for their actions, and I alone am responsible for mine.
This has been a difficult subject to write about. I’m still not sure if wars that are fought nowadays are ever right. At least, they aren’t usually right. I suppose we must just take war on a case-by-case basis, and beg God for the discernment to make the right decision when the time comes. May He give us His wisdom and grace!

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Posted in Bible, History, Wisdom

A Greater Reward

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”1

When Mary Slessor made the decision to take up her cross in Calabar, some people tried to frighten her. “Didn’t she know that the natives around Calabar were cannibals? insisted her antagonists. Didn’t she know the heathen of Africa worshipped the devil? And what of the ferocious leopards that lurked behind every tree?”2 In the midst of the opposition, she simply said, “Well, if it’s the post of danger, then it is surely also the post of honor.”3

When she submitted her application to the Foreign Mission Board, she trusted God and said that she would go wherever she was needed. God affirmed His calling on her life when they sent her to Calabar, in West Africa.

When her fear of leopards, snakes, jungle fever, pagan natives, and horrific heathen rituals threatened to overcome her, she had a Hiding Place from which no one could pluck her.4

When the Egbo runners bullied slaves in their cruel way, Mary confronted them and faced them down. When a leopard stood in her path in the jungle, she sang to it until it left. When innocent people suspected of witchcraft were being held captive, she blocked the way of the murderers and wouldn’t let them administer the poison bean test. In this way she saved many lives.

At age forty-three, Mary received a marriage proposal from a twenty-five year old missionary, who wanted to work with her in the Okoyong. She eventually agreed to leave the decision up to the Foreign Mission Board. When the Board decided that the young man needed to stay in Duke Town ministering to the Efik people, Mary trusted God that she should stay with her work among the Okoyong. Thus she gave up her own dream of marriage to fulfill the will of God.

During her years in Calabar, she was horrified with the practice of twin killing. The natives believed that no man could father two children, and thus a devil must have fathered the other. Since they didn’t know which was which, they would kill both children and leave them out in the jungle. The mother would also be cast out, left to starve or be killed by beasts, for her supposed sin. Mary threw herself wholeheartedly against this practice, and took in many twins who were found alive in the jungle.

Mary was made a legal judge over the natives in more than one area. They respected “White Ma” very much, and would abide by her decisions. When she was able, though God’s help, to avert bloodshed, she held it as a great triumph indeed. When she was faced with a difficult decision, her light and guide was Scripture and prayer.

She wasn’t perfect. One time she forgot what day of the week it was, whitewashed the walls on Sunday, and was going to conduct a church service on Monday. She was gently reminded what day it was, but decided to have the service anyway “for the natives’ peace of mind”.5 Her goal was to “feed the sheep” in the best way she could.6

After 37 years of service in Africa, Mary was given the Maltese Cross for her great work for the faith. She received it saying, “If this is my crown to take to gloryland, I will lay it at the Master’s feet.”7 Her view of that medal from then on was as a token of appreciation to all the missionaries in Nigeria.8

One of Mary’s biggest legacies is the many native children she raised; babies found abandoned in the jungle, and those who were esteemed cursed. Her compassion for these children echoed the loving words of her Master: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”9

Some may have thought her crazy, but surely not the natives she loved and aided. Jesus gave this promise to servants like Mary; “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”10

Mary Slessor could have spent her life for herself. But instead, she followed the example of her hero David Livingstone and also of Moses of the Bible, who “thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.”11

 

Footnotes:

1Mark 8:34b-35, NIV  2Mary Slessor: Light for the Dark Continent  3Ibid  4Psalm 32:7; John 10:28  5Mary Slessor: Light for the Dark Continent  6John 21:15-17  7Mary Slessor: Light for the Dark Continent  8Ibid  9Mark 10:14, NKJV  10Matthew 10:42, NIV  11Hebrews 11:26, NLT, adapted

General information about Mary Slessor taken from Mary Slessor: Light for the Dark Continent, by Sam Wellman (Copyright 1998)

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Posted in History

A Sovereign God

In the mid-1500s, scientists such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton challenged commonly accepted scientific beliefs with their discoveries. Their conclusions gave rise to a new outlook on the universe, and changed the widespread emphasis from God to man. This period in history is known as the Enlightenment. How could such a drastic transformation in popular thinking be made by just some new ideas? Here are two principles that were widely accepted in these theorists’ time. #1. There is an omnipotent God Who rules the universe. #2. That He is a personal God and answers the prayers of mankind. These beliefs were held by a majority of people in the 15th and 16th centuries. However, when Newton’s book Mathematical Principles was published, for example, it was shown that the universe operates on the basis of regular, predictable natural laws1. Thus a third theory was eventually added to the list of generally accepted beliefs. Then the conflict began. People believed in God, that He is all-powerful and personal, but they couldn’t reconcile these beliefs with the undeniable principle of natural law. In time, religious belief faded into the background and was replaced by reliance on scientific researchers for the knowledge of truth. In today’s world, belief in God as herein described is the exception. Is there a way to resolve the apparent conflict between these three principles? In this essay we will explore the answer.

Mark 10:27 says this: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” Jeremiah 32:17 declares, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.” So we see that our first principle is certainly true. Psalm 66:19-20 affirms, “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!” Psalm 120:1 states, “I call on the LORD in my distress, and He answers me.” Now we see that the second principle is also correct. The third principle, the principle of natural laws – laws of gravity, physics, thermodynamics, and many other areas – is so well contended for in so many places that we won’t go into that here and now.

To gain a clearer understanding of the facts surrounding our dilemma, let’s look at some of the characteristics of God’s nature. God is not limited by space like we are as humans. God created space, but He is not limited by it. God also created time, and time and space are inseparably joined. God is infinite, omnipresent, and eternal – He has always existed, will always exist, and exists everywhere at once. He was, is, and always will be. Try to grasp this concept. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). As finite, mortal beings, this is hard for us to comprehend, yet it is true.

Now, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created them under the power of natural laws, but those same natural, scientific laws are under God’s sovereign authority. Without God, the universe would not exist. God created the world with a plan for His honor and glory. Part of the way He glorifies Himself is by answering the prayers of the people He created. One of the most amazing things in history is God’s undying love for us. Jesus humbled Himself by coming to this world in the form of a man – He laid aside His position as God’s Son and died to pay for our sins.

And so we discover that our three points all agree with each other: God is omnipotent and sovereign over the entire world; He made laws, like any good sovereign does, to rule over His universe; and He is a loving God Who cares for us. All are true and cannot be done away with, yet because of their seeming contradiction of each other, many people have turned to their own reason to tell them what is true. Let us remember that God alone is the source of ultimate truth.

 

Footnotes:

1 Exploring America; by Ray Notgrass (Copyright 2007)

Posted in Wisdom

Happy 2nd Birthday to Taylor!

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Taylor is 2 years old! Thank you for enjoying this overview of his 2nd year, and a few messages from our family and from Taylor.

Age 13 months - Taylor enjoyed our beach trip and wanted to eat the sand, just like any 1-year old.

Age 13 months – Taylor enjoyed our beach trip and wanted to eat the sand, just like any 1-year old.

“Many might like to label me as a ‘Down’s child.’ In actuality, I am simply a boy who happens to have Trisomy 21 (the correct medical term). Mr. Down may have discovered Down syndrome, but he is not my father. Maybe we should call it ‘Up syndrome’ instead! In many ways I am a typical boy, just like my 3 big brothers, and love to play with blocks, cars, and wagons. One of my favorite things to do is to knock down a tower of blocks with a big BANG!”

Age 14 months - having a new baby sister is pretty neat.

Age 14 months – having a new baby sister is pretty neat.

 “I am not ‘retarded.’ I am developmentally delayed. I think it would be nice if people would not use the word ‘retarded’ anymore, since the meaning of it has changed to an insult in recent years.”

Age 15 months - Swimming and splashing are so much fun!

Age 15 months – Swimming and splashing are so much fun!

 “I am more alike than different. I may be a bit slower and look a little different, but I am growing up with the same hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows as anyone else.”

Age 16 months - Taylor is wearing SMO's on his feet to help with proper standing and walking, and to prevent future problems.

Age 16 months – Taylor is wearing SMO’s on his feet to help with proper standing and walking, and to prevent future problems.

 “If someone says that I can’t do something, my response will be, ‘Watch me!’ My Mommy doesn’t let any of my older siblings say “I can’t do it,” and she does not treat me any differently.”
Taylor, age 17 months Zachary, age 18 months
 “See how much I look like my big brother Zachary? Yes, I have an extra chromosome, but I still look a lot like many of my own family.”

Age 18 months - all dressed up and ready for church

Age 18 months – all dressed up and ready for church

 “I am not always happy. I am happy a lot of the time, but my emotions are variable just like anyone else. I can throw a tantrum with the best of them! And I sometimes forget to be nice and hit my sister…”

Age 19 months - camping in a tent was fun, and I got to take a bath in the dishtub.

Age 19 months – camping in a tent was fun, and Taylor got to take a bath in the dishtub.

“Thank you for understanding my challenges, but please don’t treat me differently and thereby communicate lowered expectations for my potential. I love the song my family sings for me: ‘I am a promise! I am a possibility!'”

Age 20 months - On a fun road trip to Georgia, hanging out with one of Taylor's favorite people.

Age 20 months – On a fun road trip to Georgia, hanging out with one of his favorite people.

“Please don’t limit me! I can do anything with God’s help. I can’t wait until Matthew teaches me to play the piano like he does!”

Age 21 months - Taylor has been crawling for many months and is still working on strengthening his core so that he can walk.

Age 21 months – Taylor has been crawling for many months and is still working on strengthening his core so that he can walk. Watch out world, he’s going to be running after you before you know it!

“I am very playful and love to have fun playing peek-a-boo, chase and tickle, and pass back-and-forth. I know and love every member of my big family, and feel shy around other people. Remember, I am more alike than different!”

Age 22 months - Our "twins!"

Age 22 months – Our “twins!”

“Jubilee is trying to catch up with me, and she thinks she’s going to win the race we’re in to see who walks first. She may be fast, but I’m not giving up. She’s going to motivate me to keep going.”

Age 23 months - Taylor enjoys his GAPS Diet soup, made specially for him and pureed to honey-thick consistency.

Age 23 months – Taylor enjoys his GAPS Diet soup, made specially for him and pureed to honey-thick consistency.

“Thanks Mommy, for all the work you do for me every day. I know Down syndrome is not a disease, but it sure is hard sometimes, when my extra chromosome gives me extra problems. The daily supplements you give me are helping my body fight the oxidative stress I’m under, and I thank you for it!”

Happy 2nd Birthday Taylor!

Happy 2nd Birthday Taylor!

 “I may not be able to speak words to you yet, but I can understand just about everything you say. I know at least 15 signs, and am learning more all the time.”

 

Posted in Down Syndrome

Church Response to First Step Down the Slippery Slope

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Artificial Contraception: The Very First Step Down the Slippery Slope.

If a single date could be identified as the historical break with traditional Christian and Jewish pro-life values if one desired to highlight the West’s very first step down the slippery slope it would be August 14, 1930.

Until this day, all Christian churches were unanimous in their opposition to artificial birth control, notwithstanding the usual small group of loud dissenters.

However, the very critical first crack in the wall happened at the Anglican Bishop’s Lambeth Conference of 1930. Just as the ‘hard cases’ were used to obtain abortion on demand and just as they are now being used to lobby for euthanasia on demand they were used sixty years ago to get artificial birth control.

The historic Anglican Bishop’s Resolution 15 of August 15, 1930, passed by a vote of 193 to 67, reads as follows. Those who examine this statement carefully will clearly recognize the familiar semantic tools of the pro-abortion movement. Notice that Resolution 15 sounds smooth, firm, and compassionate. Notice also that it places no real limits on the Christian, but instead leaves any action at all up to him and his conscience.

THE ANGLICAN BISHOP’S RESOLUTION 15 OF AUGUST 15, 1930

Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipleship and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception-control for motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.

Notice that the allowable ‘methods’ are not defined by Resolution 15. Notice also that the term ‘Christian principles’ is not defined. Using the statement above, abortion and even infanticide could easily be justified if the “conscientious” individual thought that the child would be a burden or an inconvenience in any way.

This is a profound and rapid change from the statements promulgated by the Lambeth Conference as recently as 1908 and 1917, which labeled artificial contraception as “demoralizing to character and hostile to national welfare.”

The Break in the United States.

The United States’ Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) had been eagerly waiting for someone else to take the lead on ‘modernizing’ the Church’s stand on birth control. In March 1931, it endorsed “the careful and restrained use of contraceptives by married people,” while at the same time conceding that “serious evils, such as extramarital sex relations, may be increased by general knowledge of contraceptives.”

The Prophets Speak Out.

The reaction of many people to the above statements by the Anglican Church and the Federal Council of Churches was immediate and forceful. In the early 1930s, priests and ministers from the Catholic Church and other denominations were not afraid of being labeled “judgmental,” “backward,” “bigoted,” “narrow-minded,” or “out of touch with mainstream American society.” Half a century ago, the churches had not given up their right to be a forceful voice in the public square, and were not intimidated by atheist groups into silence.

These churches predicted that easy access to artificial birth control would lead to abortion and the destruction of the family. It is fascinating to read these 60-year old statements by major Christian churches and the secular press, and to realize how precisely current events have fulfilled their prophecies. The writers, all experienced students of human nature, understood the ‘slippery slope’ concept, and also clearly recognized that we had taken the irrevocable first fatal step. The pro-contraception stand by the Federal Council of Churches was condemned by virtually all major churches, as shown in Figure 98-1.

FIGURE 98-1
STATEMENTS BY THE CHURCHES AND THE SECULAR PRESS CONDEMNING ARTIFICIAL CONTRACEPTION FOLLOWING THE ANGLICAN’S LAMBETH CONFERENCE OF 1930

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH:

Birth Control, as popularly understood today and involving the use of contraceptives, is one of the most repugnant of modern aberrations, representing a 20th century renewal of pagan bankruptcy.

Dr. Walter A. Maier, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

THE METHODIST CHURCH:

The whole disgusting [birth control] movement rests on the assumption of man’s sameness with the brutes … Its [the Federal Council of Churches] deliverance on the matter of birth control has no authorization from any churches representing it, and what it has said I regard as most unfortunate, not to use any stronger words. It certainly does not represent the Methodist Church, and I doubt if it represents any other Protestant Church in what it has said on this subject.

Bishop Warren Chandler, Methodist Episcopal Church South, April 13, 1931.

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH:

Its [Federal Council of Churches] recent pronouncement on birth control should be enough reason, if there were no other, to withdraw from support of that body, which declares that it speaks for the Presbyterian and other Protestant churches in ex cathedra pronouncements.

                The Presbyterian, April 2, 1931.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:

In order that she [the Catholic Church] may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, she raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubi, December 31, 1930, Section 4, Paragraph 4.

AND THE SECULAR PRESS:

Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be “careful and restrained” is preposterous.

 The Washington Post, March 22, 1931.

Excerpt from Chapter 98 of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by the American Life League.

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Posted in Birth Control

Different Gifts of God

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“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just isn’t the same…”

Which gift of God is least wanted by the modern church?

Eternal Life For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
Food
Drink
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13
Riches
Wealth
Job Satisfaction
Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:19
Living Water  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. John 4:10
Grace
Salvation
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8
Justification And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. Romans 5:16
Holy Spirit Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 NIV
Jesus For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Wisdom
Knowledge
Faith
Healing
Miracles
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10a
Children  Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 NASB

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” – Jesus Christ

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in Bible, Birth Control

The Dilemma of Suffering

August Scripture of the Month

1 Peter 4:12-16

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, of as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

 

Why do good people have to suffer? The question has been asked countless times. There are many good and Biblical answers: we live in a fallen world, God is chastening us, nobody is truly righteous, et cetera, et cetera. There’s nothing wrong with these answers. Many Christians will accept them, and truly believe there is a reason for the suffering in the world; but they often still go through the pain and suffering in their own lives with an attitude of “God, why are these things happening to me?”

Instead of asking why we suffer, as though it were something strange happening to us, I would like to point out this fact: all of us do indeed suffer. It’s plain and simple: we live in a fallen world, and we do suffer. God must have a reason for everything that I’m going through; I don’t understand now, but He promises me that I will (1 Corinthians 13:12). Therefore, instead of continuing to ask “Why?”, we ought to ask the question “How?” How are we to suffer? What should be our attitude? The answer is found right here in Peter’s first epistle: “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings”. Think about this: Christ not only saved us from the righteous wrath of His Father, but He also gives us the privilege of suffering for Him! His honor now becomes ours. Through our trials in life, we are experiencing the practical results of having God as our Father and Christ as our elder Brother; we are given everything that ought to belong to princes and princesses, children of the King of all, with all their pleasures and responsibilities. We need to change our mindset – it is an honorable privilege, not a loathsome burden, to suffer for our Savior!

Don’t be afraid of being ridiculed for your faith. If you suffer because you are a Christian, Peter says, glorify God! Countless martyrs gone before us illustrate this. When they went to their death because of Christ (a privilege that many of us never receive), they gave God until their last breath. Because of their steadfast faith, others who witnessed or heard of the martyrs often received Christ themselves. At one time in ancient Rome, men who were not Christians themselves pleaded with the persecutors of the Christians: “Stop persecuting the Christians! The more you oppress them, the more their faith spreads!”

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Posted in Bible