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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fetus or Child?

Darren Carlson writes about his experience with an abnormal fetus and a normal baby

My wife is five months pregnant. Last month we went for an ultrasound to see the baby and have the doctors check to make sure everything was progressing nicely. We had done this three times before and were excited. As we met with the doctor and ultrasound technician they referred to what they saw as “your child.” They must have said it 50x during the ultrasound as they referred to “your child’s hand,” “your child’s heart,” etc.

But then something changed.

Another doctor was brought into the room and for 5 minutes he stared at the baby’s heart. The room was completely silent. He then began to tell us that there was a tumor on our child’s heart and started to run down all the scenarios we were now faced with. Then the doctor said to us: “If the fetus is abnormal and that is management problem for you, you have the option to terminate your fetus.” The slight change in wording tells the story. I was in too much shock to respond. But later it dawned on me what he had done. The child my wife was carrying was only a child if we wanted to keep it, as if it was our choice! However, if we did not want the baby, it was only a fetus.

Three weeks later we came back for another ultrasound. The growth on the heart was not a tumor, but a normal variant. In the doctor’s eyes, our child was a baby again. In our eyes, nothing had changed.

I’ve always had an aversion for the word “fetus.” It may be a medical term. It may be the term of preference in a secular society. But I don’t like it! Never have. Never will.

In “my book” and, more importantly, in God’s Book (Jer. 1.5; Ps. 139.13-14; compare Luke 1:41, 44 with Acts 7:19 where all three references use the same Greek word for “baby/infant”), the person who is brought into existence by Almighty God becomes a person at conception and remains a person throughout eternity!

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5 Signs of Spiritual Maturity

Are you growing in your walk with Christ? If you were the topic of a poll question and 100 people who know you well were asked, “Is he/she a mature believer?”, what percentage would answer “Yes”? What does a mature believer look like? Is spiritual maturity measurable?

I recently read an article by Clint Arch that addressed this subject. I’ve provided a summary of his comments below. Mature believers possess these 5 indicators…

1. An Appetite for Meat

It’s good to enjoy the milk of the gospel with every meal. But some Christians pride themselves on focusing only on the gospel, snubbing the offer of deeper doctrines. The love of doctrine may need to be acquired over time, but it will always be there in a mature believer.

Read and meditate on Hebrew 5.11-14. An infant’s meal needs to go through a blender for the first few months of his or her life. When a normal 21 year old still asks mommy to spoon feed him mashed potatoes, it’s creepy and dysfunctional.

2. An Imperviousness to Personal Offence

It is seldom that a mature believer feels offended. Offence is appropriate at any attack on God’s glory, as when the zeal of God’s house consumed Jesus and he aimed an Indiana Jones whip at the overpriced animals in the Temple’s corrupt commercial zone.

But a mature believer doesn’t take personal offense easily. They understand that when someone sins against them, there are bigger issues at stake than their personal rights; e.g. God’s glory, the attacker’s relationship with God, etc.

Take Paul. When he could no longer draw a crowd (being in jail for the gospel and all) rival preachers were pouring salt on his shackle-blisters by preaching the gospel in competition with him. He didn’t get uppity. Instead he seemed buoyed by the news that the gospel was still getting airtime (Philippians 1.15-18). That’s maturity!

3. A Conscience Informed by Scripture, not Opinions

When you are first saved, it is natural to have a pendulum swing aversion to anything associated with your former way of life. That can be healthy. But as you mature, you will settle into a more balanced view of liberty. If Jesus says something is okay, then you won’t get upset when some Christians take him up on enjoying that freedom (Romans 14.1-3).

The more you grow in your understanding of grace, the less it grates you that people ignore man-made religious norms. You may still choose to abstain, but your conscience is not plagued by the knowledge that others partake in what you avoid.

4. A Sense of Humble Surprise when used by God in Ministry

God uses sinners to do his work for a good reason: there is no one else from which to choose. Some sinners are used mightily. A mature believer will always feel humbled by his effectiveness in God’s ministry. Often, though, the same privilege will inflate an immature believer’s ego (cf. 1 Timothy 3.6).

Paul’s assumption is that a new convert—who is more likely to be immature—when used by God in ministry, will not possess the sense of surprise and humility that is a sign of maturity.

Compare this to Paul’s own attitude that he is the chief of sinners, used only as means to show the extent of God’s mercy (1 Tim. 1:15). He considered himself the unlikely, unsuitable privy pot that was blessed to temporarily house the priceless treasure of God’s gifts (2 Cor. 4:7).

5. Tendency to give Credit for Spiritual Growth to God, not People

Our world is an arena for idolatry. American Idol is the most aptly named and unblushingly honest tribute to our celebrity culture. Our hearts are geared to adulate and adore. An immature believer struggles to break the habit of idolizing people. He merely transfers his adulation of worldly celebrities onto spiritual celebrities.

Whether it’s a pedestal for his pastor, or an inordinate reverence for John Calvin, or whatever the symptom, immaturity fails to give adequate credence to God’s power at work (1 Corinthians 3.4-7).

What are some other signs of spiritual maturity? Help me add to his list by posting your comments below!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Bible Study, Spiritual Maturity

 

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Turkeys, Fish, and a Mouse

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Humor

 

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Being wealthy can have a short shelf life

I’ve been a subscriber to Sound Mind Investing for several years. It’s a Christian-based financial newsletter that makes recommendations on investing in mutual funds. You can read all about their services here.

I read an interesting article on their website entitled, “Being wealthy can have a short shelf life.” After sharing a brief illustration of a friend whose real estate wealth went bye-bye, Austin Pryor makes the following conclusion: It’s not true that once a millionaire, always a millionaire. He then writes the following:

This is a relevant observation in this day of class warfare and demanding the “rich” pay more in taxes. Aside from the fact that the top 5% (those with adjusted gross income of about $155,000 and above) pay almost 60% of all federal income taxes, membership in this group is constantly changing. Yes, there are some who are “rich” for life, but there are far many more who, like my friend, are “rich” for a few years out of a lifetime of work. It’s easy to demonize the unseen “rich” who, in our imaginations, live extravagant and self-important lifestyles; it’s not as easy when you’re talking about “the millionaire next door.”

This is pointed out in this recent post from The Corner:

In the context of current popular sentiments about the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer, it is interesting to look at how long millionaires actually stay in that category. Will you be a millionaire for life if you start making over a million dollars a year? Is the super-rich club an exclusive zone with very little turnover? A look at the data suggests that it isn’t — that, in fact, most millionaires are not millionaires for long…

After the first year, roughly half of those who were millionaires (reporting over a million dollars in adjusted gross income) at some point between 1999 and 2007 were still millionaires. After two years, 15 percent — roughly 102,000 millionaires — retained that status. This decreasing rate of remaining millionaires persists, and only about 6 percent — roughly 38,000 millionaires — were millionaires for all nine years.

Interestingly, things look rosier at the bottom of the income distribution. That same Tax Foundation study also shows that about 60 percent of households that were in the lowest income quintile in 1999 were in a higher quintile in 2007, and about a third of those in the lowest quintile moved to the middle quintile or higher. In other words, while it is difficult for one to rise from rags to riches, and while it may be harder now than it was in the past, there is still real upward economic mobility in the United States.

Austin concludes the article with an exhortation toward those who are currently enjoying high income levels to not be presumptuous in thinking those same levels will continue into the future. He then emphasizes…

Four financial strategies:

(1) Get (and stay) debt free

(2) Build a healthy contingency fund for future unknowns

(3) Invest for the long haul from a personalized plan

(4) Diversify broadly and according to life-long priorities

And I would add a fifth…

(5) Honor God with all your wealth, giving generously to advance His kingdom (Prov. 3.9; 2 Cor. 9.6-7; Mt. 6.19-21)

 

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Not Your Grandparents’ Department Store!

I have bought a lot of stuff from Amazon.com. I buy almost all my books from there. I constantly go there to check customer reviews. And I knew Amazon was a big company, but I had no idea just how big until I saw this infographic:

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Infographic, Internet

 

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Whoopie-Do Love?

Any believer reading Luke 6.27-36 would probably agree with my personal assessment: Are you serious, Lord? This is incredibly hard! Lord, You will have to help me, cause I sure can’t love like this without you!

In the middle of Jesus’ declaration about loving others He gives what is commonly referred to as The Golden Rule – “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6.31).

The Golden Rule’s Requirement

It does not promote “back-scratching behavior” – You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.

It does not promote “pre-emptive behavior” – Do unto others before they do unto you.

It does not promote “wait-and-see behavior” – If and when you treat me right, then I’ll do likewise.

It does not promote “hidden-agenda behavior” – I’ll do good to you so that I can get from you what I want later.

No, the Golden Rule has two fundamental requirements:

It requires us to be proactive

One commentator writes, “In its negative form, the Golden Rule could be satisfied by doing nothing. The positive form moves us to action on behalf of others.”

A person living in a coma does not steal, lie or lust and neither does he curse, get angry or start a fight. But, the same person never lends a helping hand, never gives a compliment, never encourages, and never offers a shoulder to cry on.

Therefore, the Golden Rule is not simply a command to avoid unfair treatment that you would not want to receive. Rather, it is a command to give the same sensitive consideration to others that you would want others to give to you.

It requires us to be sensitive

This doesn’t mean that, if you’re quirky and want to be treated quirkily, that you should treat others with you quirks. The rule assumes the note of concern and describes a love that is sensitive to others and aware of their preferences. It could be paraphrased like this: “As you wish to be treated with sensitivity to your preferences, so treat others with sensitivity to their preferences.”

How we treat others is not to be determined by how we expect them to treat us or by how we think they should treat us, but by how we want them to treat us.

You want to be forgiven? Forgive!

You need affirmation? Affirm!

You feel hurt, wounded, broken and could stand a gentle touch? Be gentle with others!

You appreciate tact? Be tactful!

You enjoy a nice compliment? Compliment others!

If you suddenly found yourself in the minority for whatever reason (race, religion, educational status), how would you want the majority to treat you? Then treat the minority the same way when you are in the majority.

Do you want people to think and speak well of you? Do the same.

Do you want people to be critical and faultfinding toward you? Then don’t be that way toward them.

Do you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt? Then give them the same benefit.

Do you want to be loved and respected? Give others the same.

Do you want people praying for you? Pray for them.

Do you want people to tell you the truth? Tell them likewise.

The Golden Rule’s Restrictions

Guess what? There aren’t any! It’s not limited to family, but it certainly includes them. It’s not limited to your church family, but it certainly includes them. It’s not limited to God’s people, but it certainly includes them. It even includes your enemies (6.27-30)!

Paying taxes enables you to fulfill your public debt. Paying your bills allows you to pay off your private debt. However, your primary debt, loving others, is a debt you never finish making payments! That’s what Romans 13.8 teaches: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The Golden Rule’s Replication

A “replica” is a copy or model of something, especially one on a smaller scale. The Eiffel Tower stands 1063 feet in Paris, France. I’ve never seen it. However, I have been to the King’s Dominion theme park in Richmond, VA, which has a 1/3-scale replica. And, I bought a 1000th scale model from the souvenir shop back when I was a kid!

When the Golden Rule is merely “replicated” is produces what I’m calling Whoopi-do Love. So, you love those who love you? Whoopi-do! Sinners do that! So, you do good to those who do good to you? Whoopi-do! Sinners do that! So you lend money when there are no risks involved? Whoopi-do! Sinners do that!

Bottom line: Golden Rule love (kingdom love) is not everyday, mundane, run-of-the-mill, sinners-do-that-too love!

The Golden Rule’s Reward

Note: Unselfish, kingdom, Golden Rule love does NOT make you a child of God; it proves you are one (35a,b).

There’s the reward of knowing you are being obedient to Scripture and the Lord. There may be the reward of a greater capacity to enjoy Heaven. There’s the reward of being recognized as the sons and daughters of God!

The Golden Rule’s Reflection

When you and I flesh out the Golden Rule we give a “reflection” of our God who wants us to model His treatments of “others” (35c-36).

Notice the parallel between verses 35-36 and Ephesians 4.35-5.2… “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us….”

When you look in the mirror do you see a reflection of the Lord and how He loves?

 

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For My Alabama Football Friends

To all my Alabama football friends, your field goal kickers’ accuracy should improve dramatically moving forward!

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Humor, Sports

 

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