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Response to the Murder of the Khans

Pastor Al Martin from Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, NJ — Arif and Kathy Khan’s home church — has preached four sermons in response to the Khan’s murder. You find them here on SermonAudio.com. The titles:

  • The Murder of the Khans Part 1: The Ultimate Cause
  • The Murder of the Khans Part 2: Some Righteous Responses
  • The Murder of the Khans Part 3: What Compelled Them to Go to Pakistan? Part 1
  • The Murder of the Khans Part 4: What Compelled Them to Go to Pakistan? Part 2

You can listen to them as streaming audio or download them to listen whenever you want. I’ve made it through the first sermon so far — it was excellent. He opened up three things about our world that led to the Khan’s death:

  1. Ours is a sinfully disrupted world.
  2. Ours is a spiritually divided world.
  3. Ours is a sovereignly determined world.

It’s a wonderful thing to listen to a pastor nearing the end of his ministry as he brings all of his vast experience and wisdom to bear on a particularly difficult circumstance. He knows exactly what to say and how to say it. He made one point at the end that stood out: people today want fluff when they go to church. They want something light, something easy. But that doesn’t help you when trials come, when you find out about the cancer, when you hear about the deaths. Your bedrock then will be the theology that you’ve learned, the passages in the Bible that have preached to you over and over. Fluff won’t cut it, as he said.

I haven’t listened to Pastor Martin much over the last few years, but just hearing his voice brings back lots of good memories of summer family conferences. Check the messages out. They’ll be good for your soul.

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So Open-Minded That Our Brains Have Fallen Out

Yesterday, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. He is in the country to speak to the United Nations today; Columbia University also invited him to speak on their stage. Columbia’s president Lee Bollinger used his introduction to slam Ahmadinejad, but he could have done that without providing an opportunity for Ahmadinejad to speak.

The whole thing never should have happened. He is the head of a nation that is a state sponsor of terrorism. He denies the Holocaust ever happened. He has advocated for wiping out the nation of Israel. He should not have been given this kind of platform to dump his propoganda on us. It’s offensive and it just gives ammunition to the entire Muslim world. He really shouldn’t even be allowed to speak at the United Nations — can you imagine the outcry if President Bush said he would like to see a country completely wiped out? He’d be pilloried, reprimanded and ridiculed (ok, even more than he already is). But this guy? Sure, come on in, say whatever you like. You can have all the free speech you want, even though you’re not an American. We’re very open-minded. What a bunch of nonsense.

Here’s what Hugh Hewitt says:

Today’s fiasco has nothing to do with  what Bollinger said, a name little known or long remembered anywhere outside of the upper West Side.  It is about the platform Columbia provided this thug who is actively engaged in the killing of American soldiers and Marines while plotting the extermination of Israel..

The absurd world of the academic left does not seem capable of imagining that skilled propagandists are at work for the other side, and that Ahmadinejad’s non-answers to the questions posed to him will benefit him and his regime.  They are naive beyond expression . . .

“What did you hope to accomplish by speaking at Columbia today,” the hapless dean asked.  Ahmadinejad was too polite to answer truthfully: “To find useful idiots who would allow me to deny that the facts of the Holocaust are fixed, to assert that Iran is the victim not the perpetrator of terror, that Israel’s right to exist ought to be the subject of a referendum, and to announce that there are no gays in Iran, thus sending a very clear message to the gays in Iran.  I came, in short, to find you and the audience you gave me.” 

In Love With Jesus?

Are you in love with Jesus?

According to the “Jesus is my boyfriend” genre of songs, we are. But using that terminology about Jesus has always seemed a little odd to me. We hear it in songs and sometimes in prayers or sermons — “Jesus, I am so in love with you,” or “Jesus, I want to be more in love with you.”

John Stackhouse is a professor of theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver. Here’s part of his take on the issue:

Today our congregation was asked to sing, “Jesus, I’m in love with you”–a line that shows up, in one permutation or another, in several songs that occur frequently in our worship leaders’ rotation.

Well, I didn’t sing it. It’s wrong, and I try not to sing wrong lyrics.

First, I’m not in love with Jesus. The locution “in love with” is one I reserve for one person only: my wife. I love my sons, I love my siblings and parents, I love my friends, I love my country, I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love God. But I’m not “in love” with any of them. And I daresay most of the rest of us use this phrase in exactly the same, highly-restrictive way . . .

By God’s grace, Christians get to enjoy a wide range of relationships with Jesus. We are described in the New Testament variously as Jesus’ slaves, Jesus’ servants, Jesus co-workers, Jesus’ friends, and even Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Since the plural form of each of these is used, it is correct then for me to say, “I am Jesus’ slave, servant, co-worker,” etc.

But the New Testament never calls Christians Jesus’ fiancées or his brides. Instead, it is the Church collectively, and only the Church as a whole, that relates to Jesus this way–just as individual Israelites did not relate to Yhwh as so many spouses, but only the nation of Israel as nation was his beloved bride.

So I’m not singing to Jesus that I’m in love with him, because I’m not. I love him, and I aspire to loving him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. But I do not aspire to being in love with him, and I’m sure he understands.

I’m not sure it’s “wrong” to say that you’re in love with Jesus, but otherwise, I agree with him. I’m in love with my wife. I love lots of other people, but not in the same romantic way, and it seems to me that at least in our culture, the phrase “in love” applies directly to that romantic kind of love.

I even hear it fairly often at our church (more so in prayers or maybe a sermon than in our songs), but it just strikes me as a little off and Stackhouse’s point of view explains why. Other points can be made both for and against it, as you’ll see if you check out the comments on Stackhouse’s original post. There’s also some good (and more recent) discussion on Justin Taylor’s post linking to Stackhouse.

One quote from JT: “‘Would you be communicating two different things to your mom if you said ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m in love with you’? The issue is addressing someone with whom you are not romantic.”

Agree? Disagree?

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Into the Wild

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There’s a movie coming out on the big screen this weekend that has been in the works for quite a while. It’s called Into the Wild and it’s based on a book of the same name by Jon Krakauer that came out in 1996. I’ve read the book and it’s a fascinating story about Christopher McCandless, a college graduate who seemingly had everything, but abandoned it for a life on the road, a life in pursuit of adventure, a life chasing truth, ascetisism, and the chance to really live out there, away from normalcy, away from culture, away from everything that traditional American society says is important.

He gives away all his possessions, burns his cash, and literally hits the road, hitchhiking and wandering through the West. He learns to survive on his own and meets some colorful characters along the way. His parents don’t know where he is. He eventually ends up in the frozen tundra of Alaska, where he starves to death inside an old bus.

The book is excellent, as is everything Krakauer has written. It orginally started in 1993 as an article for Outside Magazine (great publication, by the way) and grew into the book. Last month, Outside ran a cover story on the making of the movie (directed by Sean Penn). Check it out. Read the articles. It’s worth your time. (And to add a connection to a post from about a month ago, Harrod and Funck even wrote a song about the story.)

The movie’s website is well-designed. It’s attractive and has all the info you could want. The photos are breath-taking, the movie looks epic, with gorgeous cinematography, good music and an outstanding cast. Click on “video” to watch the trailer — you’ll be moved and want to see it (although it’s rated R, so don’t just go see it blindly). The family is even on board with the movie.

But here’s the thing. As fascinating and intriguing as the story is, as well-made as the movie is, as much as it raises questions that are worth talking about, they’re ending up in the wrong place. You’ll hear a lot about the human spirit, about freedom, about finding yourself, about looking for truth. Chris McCandless will be painted as an example, someone we should emulate.

But he ends up starved to death in a bus in the middle of nowhere.

He didn’t find what he was looking for. His journey didn’t lead him to the promised land. One of the taglines on the website says, “Two years he walks the earth. Ultimate freedom.” No, it wasn’t. For him, it was ultimate destruction. I suppose he could truly have found Christ, but there’s really not much evidence of that.

There’s one source of truth, one place we can turn for the answers we need. It’s not inside of ourselves and it’s not “out there” in the wild somewhere. We find truth in the Son of God who gave his life for ours on a cross. It’s in his Word. It’s in his life and death. And if we don’t turn there, we’ll end up just like Christopher McCandless: dying alone, with no hope.

That’s the message of the story. That’s why it’s worth reading and watching.

Top 25

Can I just say how cool it is to see the name “Kentucky” in the Top 25 in college football polls? That hasn’t happened in a very, very long time (20 something years, I think). To find out how they got there, watch this play that put UK ahead of Louisville with 28 seconds left in regulation. And check out how the crowd goes nuts:

That’s what I’m talking about.

A Wrinkle in Time

Remember the kid’s book A Wrinkle in Time? The author, Madeleine L’Engle, died recently. Here’s a nice article from the Wall Street Journal talking about the book and the Christian themes that run through it. The book is a little odd, but maybe that helps it stay with you. The writer of the article talks about the differences in reading it as a child and as an adult — kind of like with The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe. Anyway, it’s a great book and one that I look forward to Carter reading someday. Quote from the article:

Of course I wasn’t the only reader to find Ms. L’Engle’s work of science fantasy initially disconcerting. Famously, 26 publishers rebuffed the manuscript before the author found a benefactor in Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1962. Winning the Newbery a year later secured the book’s place in the pantheon of children’s literature, and since then innumerable schoolchildren have experienced the dazzling weirdness of a story that starts with quantum physics and ends with a child’s love overcoming vast powers of evil.

“It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice,” Ms. L’Engle said in her Newbery acceptance speech. “And it was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.”

The Axle of the Universe

“The cross is never old. The wood, and nails, and inscription have indeed perished long ago; but the cross in which Paul gloried stands for ever.

That cross is the axle of the universe, and cannot snap asunder. That cross is the foundation on which the universe rests, and cannot give way. The cross of Golgotha is, in this sense, everlasting; and each one who glories in it becomes partaker of its immortality.”

– Horatius Bonar, The Rent Veil

(HT: Of First Importance)

Catching Up

So it’s now a rainy Friday afternoon after a week of vacation and catching up. One post per week is pretty good, huh? A few things:

–Is New Mexico part of the U.S.? Apparently, some Americans don’t think so.

–If you’re planning to embark on a life of crime, you’re probably an idiot. Here’s proof.

–Here’s more proof. (The moral of the story: don’t call 911, even accidentally, when you’re making meth in another room).

–If you’re not sure if you’re a man or a woman and you feel uncomfortable in public restrooms, the University of Vermont is the place for you. They now have gender-neutral bathrooms.

–If you’re a Christian biker (as in motorcycles), here’s the church for you.

–Don’t move to Colorado if you have fond childhood memories of playing tag. An elementary school in Colorado Springs has banned the game of tag from the playground because it causes conflict and kids complained they were being chased against their will. Running games are allowed, as long as there is no chasing. Yeah, that’s gonna help get kids ready to face life.

–You know what’s hard? Trying to teach a 2-year old to spit when he’s brushing his teeth (or more accurately, you’re brushing his teeth for him).