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The Gospel as a Grant Request

My job involves writing grants that request funding for particular projects. In the grant, you must describe the problem, offer your solution and make your case why you should be given money to enact it.

 

Imagine the absurdity if we came up with the following proposal and submitted it to God. From our perspective, we would have no hope of funding.

 

But that’s the thing — it’s not man’s idea, so we have hope.

 

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The Gospel as a Grant Request

 

Summary: The sin-scarred human race requests salvation from holy God, the creator of the universe. Our sin against you has condemned us; we are requesting that you provide redemption that will restore our relationship with you and allow us to spend eternity in your presence. Our proposal calls for your son, Jesus Christ, to make sacrificial atonement for our sins based on his life, death and resurrection. We believe you will do this because you love us; we believe that you can do this because you are both just and justifier.

 

Profile: There are currently six billion human beings on the planet. Millions more have lived and died since the beginning of time. We are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness and malice. We embrace envy, murder, strife and deceit. We are gossips and slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty and boastful, sexually immoral, inventors of evil, disobedient, foolish, faithless, heartless and ruthless. The thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually. We are ugly, dirty and twisted with sin. Left to ourselves, we are dead and without hope.

 

Background: You created man after your own image, pure and spotless. Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden means that each human being is born depraved, able only to choose according to our sinful wills and destined for eternal death. Because we are made in your image, we can be kind, do good deeds and love our fellow man. But these things do not save us. You are the only means by which we will find any rest for our restless souls.

 

Need: Our greatest and only need is redemption. We need to be saved from death and raised to life. We need our sin to be taken away and our punishment to be absorbed by another. We need to be born again, declared righteous in the court of heaven and adopted into the family of God. We need all of this on your initiative. And we need it to last for eternity. Without it, we will suffer in hell forever.

 

Project Description: Send Jesus Christ, your only son, to this world to be miraculously born of a virgin, live a life perfect in every respect, and die an unjust death, taking upon himself the sins of his people and satisfying the full cup of the wrath of God. Raise him from the dead three days later, proving your victory over death. On the basis of Christ’s finished work, call us to yourself, regenerate our hearts and enable us to trust in you by grace alone through faith alone. Replace our guilt with Christ’s righteousness, adopt us into your family and send the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

 

Help us to live according to your word and for your glory. Provide local communities of believers that will assemble together to know you and make you known. Enable us to persevere in your grace until you draw our souls to your physical presence to worship you. In the last day, return to judge the wicked and restore the new heavens and the new earth. Let us forever praise you with your people from every tribe and tongue and nation.

 

Budget: We are morally bankrupt. All our righteousness – any good thing we do – is as filthy rags in your sight. We can contribute nothing. You must provide everything. There are no other donors, no other possible sources of salvation. This proposal rests entirely with you.

 

Conclusion: We are desperate sinners absurdly requesting salvation from the very one against whom we have sinned. We have no prior relationship, no basis for our request other than your good pleasure and the praise of your glorious grace. We cast ourselves on you as we wait for the grace by which alone we can stand.

 

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She’s Got Talent

If you don’t do anything else today, watch this video. It’s worth it.

Susan Boyle, a frumpyish, never-been-kissed 47-year old from a village in Scotland, shocks the judges and the crowd on Britain’s Got Talent with her incredible singing voice. She sings “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, and it’s priceless to watch a dream realized. It’s also priceless to watch looks change from disdain to awe.

Reminiscent of Paul Potts on the same show a couple years ago, it helps us look past appearances.

Embedding has been disabled, so you’ll have to click here to watch it on YouTube (it’s already over 2.7 million hits). Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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Update: got it embedded. Now over 35 million hits, thanks mostly to my blog. Ha.

 

Now / it’s your limbs he comes to fill

Cool Easter poem. Read it. You’ll like it, even if poetry isn’t your thing. If Christ is your thing, it’ll shed new light on the resurrection. (To find out exactly why you like it, go here.)

Descending Theology: The Resurrection

By Mary Karr

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
till the hung flesh was empty.
Lonely in that void even for pain,
he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse’s core, the stone fist
of his heart began to bang
on the stiff chest’s door, and breath spilled
back into that battered shape. Now

it’s your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

(HT: Abraham Piper)

Books for Kids

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N.D. Wilson (son of Doug, for those who know who he is) writes kids’ books. By all accounts, they’re really good. Have not read them yet, but they’re now on the list. They sound like good, fun, solid books that kids will enjoy:

Here’s why he writes books for kids:

Bedtime. It is the most important time in my day. At bedtime, I tuck four children into the appropriate beds in the appropriate rooms. They never think they’re tired. Their eyes are bright and their young minds crackle with surprising thoughts on the day, the future, the nature of the universe. At bedtime, I let go of four imaginations, and they wander alone through the darkness, unchaperoned, unguided, shaping visions for themselves, resting in warmth or wandering into terror.

Every night, I feel like I’m launching paper boats into an ocean. I point my children as best I can. I flavor their minds with subjects and characters and songs and dances and blessings. And when they are warm and spilling over with joy, I let go, and I wait for the morning to hear of their adventures.

This is why we sing about drunken sailors and what to do with them, about how some folks say a man is made out of mud, about lost Scottish love and the walls of Jerusalem. This is why I tell them stories …

I am regularly asked why I write stories for children. The easy answer? I’m childish. But to be honest, I have no intention of limiting myself to children’s stories. At this phase of my life, however, they are the most important stories I can tell. I have children, I love children, and imaginations need food. The world is big. The world is wonderful. But it is also terrifying. It is an ocean full of paper boats. For many children, the only nobility, the only joy, the only strength and sacrifice that they see firsthand comes in fiction. Even when children have plenty of joy in their lives, good stories reinforce it. As long as I’m dealing in honesty, I may as well admit that I have been more influenced (as a person) by my childhood readings of Tolkien and Lewis than I have been by any philosophers I read in college and grad school. The events and characters in Narnia and Middle Earth shaped my ideals, my dreams, my goals. Kant just annoyed me.

When I write for kids, I try to embrace the wildness of the world. I have no desire to trick children into false security. My characters almost always begin a story afraid. In 100 Cupboards, a timid Henry York discovers the world as it is, and it terrifies him. But it also challenges him, and he rises to that challenge — even more so in Dandelion Fire. Evil is real (and it must really be overcome), but it is no more real than Goodness.

Enough posing. I’m childish. I like books for kids. I like reading good ones. I like trying to write good ones. I like readers that still have some elasticity to their imaginations. I  like readers that demand some variation of “happily ever after” at the end of a story.

Good stuff. This is the kind of guy you want writing stories. Makes me want to read his books. And then write my own. (Um, yeah, don’t count on that.)

Here is a Q&A Wilson did with kids. Also good stuff. There’s a great story about a mouse, a toddler and the toddler’s angry mother.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Growing Up

Carter’s starting to talk about things in a bigger way — figuring out that if one thing is true, then something else must be true as well. For example: we were following a slow car home last night. There are a couple of ways to get home, and I said I was going to turn if the car kept going straight. Carter said, “And if he turns, then we can go straight.” Pretty good.

It’s starting to apply to spiritual things as well. We were on our way to church the other day, and Taylor had to stay home (with his mother) because he was sick. Carter said that Taylor couldn’t come to church because he was sick and would make other people sick. Then he said this: “Also, people that don’t love God can’t come to church.”

We talked about the fact that it’s not that they can’t come, it’s that they don’t want to. I asked him what might be a good reason for them to go to church, even if they don’t love God. He thought for a minute, then said, “They can learn about God.”

Then he said something about it again last night. “People don’t come to church if they don’t love God. Also if they’re sick.”

It’s fun watching a kid grow up. He knows in his head that “Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins.” Now he needs to know it in his heart.

Life as an Economic Decision

Two opinions on life. One at the beginning, one at the end. They’re remarkably similar.

On birth:

In a Recession, Abortions are Not a Bad Choice

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

 

The recession is driving American demand for contraception. And for abortions. The media have been rife this past week with stories about the rising number of couples and single mothers doing the math and deciding this is no time to bring a child into the world—not when the economy is depressed, jobs are scarce, and family incomes are dropping.

The media have also been rife with stories portraying this trend as something of a tragedy. Let me propose a counter view: It is not.

The Associated Press ran a story on March 25 that read as follows:

The pregnant woman showed up at the medical centre in flip-flops and in tears, after walking there to save bus fare.

Her boyfriend had lost his job, she told her doctor in Oakland, Calif., and now—fearing harder times for her family—she wanted to abort what would have been her fourth child.

“This was a desired pregnancy—she’d been getting prenatal care—but they re-evaluated expenses and decided not to continue,” said Dr. Pratima Gupta. “When I was doing the options counseling, she interrupted me halfway through, crying, and said, ‘Dr. Gupta, I just walked here for an hour. I’m sure of my decision.'”

Yes, it’s sad that this unwed, pregnant mother of three had no money for bus fare. It’s terrible that her boyfriend lost his job. It is heart-wrenching that she fell to tears in the doctor’s office. But in the long run, can we not agree that an unwed couple’s decision not to bring a fourth child into the world when they are having trouble feeding themselves and three children is no tragedy? It’s actually a fact-based, rational decision that in the end benefits the three children they already have and society as well.

Feeding and raising children is expensive. Tuition may be free at public schools but there are still books, transportation, food, clothes, medical care and activities that add up—way up. One may assume this family of five is struggling just to maintain its basics: housing and food. Add one more child and those costs rise as income drops. It’s no tragedy: it’s a good decision. The decision benefits society in two ways. It allows the couple to focus more time, energy and resources on their three children, giving each child a better life and a better chance of growing up to contribute to society. It also lessens the chance the family will have to rely on scarce public resources (food stamps, TANF) to raise their children.

On death:

What does Mr Minelli say about who should be able to get help killing themselves?

Simon Cox: Pretty much anyone who he says has mental capacity, he believes that they should be allowed to have an assisted suicide. The debate here has tended to focus on terminally ill people, he said this was actually a British obsession.

 

Simon Interviewing: Is what you would ultimately like, the right to have assisted suicide no matter who you are, whether you’re seriously ill or not?

Ludwig Minelli: Is without condition, a right, a human right is without any condition, except capacity of discernment. I have a totally different attitude to suicide. I say suicide is a marvellous possibility given to a human being.

Simon Cox: Absolutely, the debate here is centred often on the ethics or individual cases and someone’s own personal suffering, but Mr Minelli thinks if we opened up assisted suicide here and made it legal the NHS could actually save money.

Ludwig Minelli: For 50 suicide attempts you have one suicide and the others are failing with heavy costs to the National Health Service. If we would have another attitude to suicide, saying suicide is a very good possibility to escape. In many many cases they are terribly hurt afterwards sometimes you have to put them in institutions for 50 years. Very costly . . .

Simon interviewing: And you have carried out assisted suicides of mental health patients haven’t you?

Ludwig Minelli: Yes we have, of course.

Life isn’t worth much these days. Not when it’s reduced to an economic decision, when abortions happen because a mother can’t afford to feed the child, when suicide is a “marvelous possibility” that should be promoted because failed attempts are costly.

Human life isn’t always convenient and neat and clean and easy. But it’s life, created in the image of God, with a soul that will endure forever. And that means it’s much more than just another factor in the plus or minus column when you’re balancing the checkbook.

Life. We should love it, protect it, preserve it, from beginning to end.

Coach Cal

A few thoughts …

People are saying UK has hit a homerun by hiring John Calipari. I tend to agree, but with a few reservations.

Nobody else would have brought the immediate excitement and star power that he brings. He gets it. He understands what the job is all about, he can handle the demands that come with the head coaching job at UK, one of the premier jobs in the country. He loves the attention, the cameras, the excitement.

He’s a proven winner, which you might have noticed is important to Kentuckians. He’s a great coach and recruiter. He makes UK part of the discussion again.

He’s always seemed a little shady to me, what with the Marcus Camby violations and the Worldwide Wes connection and some of the types of players he seemed to get at Memphis. I’m a little worried about that image, about all the “one-and-done” players who bolt for the NBA as soon as possible.

People get upset about the insane amount of money he’ll get paid — almost $32 million over eight years. And yeah, that’s a lot. And yes, we could pay the academic side more. But most of that money comes from media contracts, not from the university’s pockets — basketball brings in the cash, and that benefits more than just the basketball program.

I’m willing to give him a chance, to see where this goes. Kentucky is excited this morning, and that’s a good thing. Go Big Blue!