Thanks for praying…and keep it up.

As most of you have heard, my mother in law, Beverly Haddock, went to be with her loving Lord Jesus on Monday, just hours before Kathy was to leave on a flight to be with her.  The passing was unexpectedly swift, even from the standpoint of the hospice nursing staff, but just on time in the Lord’s plans.  Our whole extended family has gathered in Montana, where we will celebrate her life in a memorial service tomorrow.

I wanted to thank our church family for your prayers and encouraging words as we have begun the experience of this loss.  Beverly’s presence in the family was strong and good–it is hard to imagine carrying on without her gracious presence, and her constant planning to create memory making times.  Yet we know that her desire as the cancer robbed her of the ability to enjoy even the simplist of experiences here was to leave for Heaven, and Jesus honored that request.  Continue to pray for us, that God’s comfort would be real, and that any who knew Beverly but not her Lord might be impressed by her faith one last time and drawn to consider her Savior.

Published in: on July 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Words I’m trying to live by…from Charles Spurgeon.

I just was emailed this quote, from Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students.”  It was good advice then, it is good advice now, and I am glad to pass it on to those who fit the description.  I hope I am still applying, it, too.

It is the extreme of unwisdom for a young man fresh from college, or from another charge, to suffer himself to be earwigged by a clique, and to be bribed by kindness and flattery to become a partisan, and so to ruin himself with one-half of his people. Know nothing of parties and cliques, but be the pastor of all the flock, and care for all alike. Blessed are the peacemakers, and one sure way of peacemaking is to let the fire of contention alone. Neither fan it, nor stir it, nor add fuel to it, but let it go out of itself. Begin your ministry with one blind eye and one deaf ear.

Published in: on July 12, 2008 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Calvin’s Birthday

Today is the birthday of the Great Reformer, John Calvin.  I was reminded by a few sources of this, but the reminder that was most humbling for me as a pastor was this recounting of the preaching ministry of this giant of the faith.

And so we trace him preaching on Sundays with one hundred and eighty-nine sermons on the Acts between 1549 and 1554, a shorter series on some of the Pauline letters between 1554 and 1558, and the sixty-five on the Harmony of the Gospels between 1559 and 1564. During this time the weekdays saw series on Jeremiah and Lamentations (up to 1550), on the Minor Prophets and Daniel (1550-2), the one hundred and seventy-four on Ezekiel (1552-4), the one hundred and fifty-nine on Job (1554-5), the two hundred on Deuteronomy (1555-6), the three hundred and forty-two on Isaiah (1556-9), then one hundred twenty-three on Genesis (1559-61), a short set on Judges (1561), one hundred and seven on 1 Samuel and eighty-seven on 2 Samuel (1561-3) and a set on 1 Kings (1563-4).   (From John Calvin: A Biography, by T. H. L. Parker, 1975.  HT, Desiring God Blog)

I challenge any preaching pastor to read that and then think he has too much to prepare!

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm  Comments (1)  

What? Another Blog?

For those of you who are unaware, I maintain another blog, The Cyberparsonage, that actually predates this one.  There, I offer comments, perspectives, and links to things of a wider scope, representing personal opinions of mine, not as Pastor of Grace.  This allows me to offer political comment, speculate on matters personally and not be taken to be speaking authoritatively or on behalf of our leadership.  I also include some matters that I find unique or interesting or funny.  You can feel free to check it out, or just ignore it.

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Should Christians Sue Christian Organizations?

Many of us were informed recently that a former professor at Cedarville is suing the University over his termination.  He has also named at least one individual in the lawsuit as well, a university employee.  The situation surrounding the termination has been one filled with controversy for over a year, and has been the subject of news reports, blogs, etc.

[This follows the actions of a Wheaton College tenured professor, who quit rather than share the reasons for his divorce from his wife with the school’s authorities, as their community standards covenant would require.  He has gone to the media to air his grievances and is questioning the ethics and legality of such inquiries, giving Wheaton a sharp public rebuke in the process.  People are wondering if legal action will follow.] 

I will not comment on the termination’s merits or procedure.  As a teaching moment, however, let me take this sad occasion to remind all of our flock here at Grace that it is never appropriate for Christians to sue fellow Christians.  Further, I believe it would be a “legal fiction” to try and say that suing a Christian-owned non-profit corporation is allowable because it is a corporation, not an individual.

The most pertinent scripture to guide us is found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, where Paul rebukes believers for taking their grievances before “the unrighteous” rather than believers.  He says that this action brings shame on those who pursue it.  He says that Christians should be able to solve their disagreements within the Christian community–the church.  I know that this would be the local church initially, but what if the problem affects more than a local congregation?  The pattern of the council of Jerusalem might suggest that in such a dispute a number of affected and concerned churches or a group of neutral believers could be called together, to function in some ways as the council in Acts 15 did–weighing issues and offering a solution.  

To my knowledge, the Bible-believing churches or associations that have been directly or indirectly affected have not been asked to mediate in this situation, and I am unaware if any of the national Christian reconciliation ministries have been consulted either.  These would be means available to uphold the spirit and letter of our text in the present difficulty.

Further, Paul tells the Corinthians that it would be better to be wronged than to take brothers and sisters to court to get one’s rights.   Our belief that God is in control of all things, including evil done to us (see Genesis 50:20) allows us to suffer wrong as our Lord modeled while entrusting ourselves to the care of a loving and sovereign God.  While I recognize that when sued we may be required to defend ourselves, the Scriptures do not justify taking legal action against a brother.

What about the issue of suing Christian owned and operated corporations?  The text still applies, since the corporation is, in fact, a collection of Christians in its governors, its employees, and its constiuents–all of whom are negatively impacted by the action.  This really becomes a distinction without a difference.  If the courts render a punitive judgment against a Christian corporation, it is the Christians who own it, who work for it, and who make use of it that will suffer the consequences.  So the person suing winds up injuring lots of people, not just one or two. 

This is a sad case, and not one where, as I have said before, fault and wrong rests only on one side.  However, biblical principles must govern the actions of Christians, even when those principles mean that we will suffer a wrong done by another Christian that is unjust, unfair, and would certainly be overturned by a court if we sued.  We should seek reconciliation, mediation, and if agreeable, arbitration by believers.  We should submit ourselves, individually or corporately, to such avenues if we are wronged or someone believes we have wronged them.  If that is not available to us, however, we stand close to our Savior, who experienced far worse and sets the example for us.  We should never give those in the world the excuse that believers can’t really live out the call of the gospel as a reason to mock our Lord or His teaching. 

Let’s pray that this particular matter can be resolved biblically, outside of the legal system, to glory of the Savior who grieves over wrongs done to any of His children in any situation.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm  Comments (3)  

Where did June go?

Wherever it went, it went without me blogging here at the VP site.  Chalk it up to graduations (Cedarville High), vacations (Myrtle Beach was as good as last year, maybe even better), and an end of the month trip to California to celebrate the grand opening of Faith Community Church’s sanctuary (the final part of the building program we began when I was pastor there, back in 1994).

In any event, I’ll be back to blogging in the next few days, if I can pull myself away from the visiting grandson and his parents. 

Published in: on July 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment