People who argue for more freedom may in fact want license to live without moral restraint, and to justify their behavior, often based on the rejection of absolutes (even God). In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller raises the objection of people who wish to participate in vices privately, arguing "What I do in private doesn't harm anyone." Yet Keller observes that "What you do in private shapes the kind of person you become...since you interact with the community, what you do in private does affect others." I suspect freedom can only work when society has a firm moral basis.
On another blog, Strawberry Rubarb Theology, Dane Ortland asks leading Bible scholars and pastors to summarize the messsage of the Bible in one sentence. To read all the results, go to http://dogmadoxa.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-message-of-bible-in-one-sentence.html
Here are my favorites:
"The Creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and recreated by the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God."
"God is in the process of restoring a lost humanity corrupted by sin, redeeming His creation and reestablishing His rule through Jesus Christ and making it possible for those who follow Him to be part of a glorious, eternal community."
I just got back from visiting my dad in, NJ who was in the hospital; he is 92 and had some procedures and will be returning to his home. I wish he'd move in with us but he's very independent. I'm back just in time for the blizzard and I can't even go out to shovel the way it continues to come down. So I'm working on my blog. I also have Tim Keller's latest book, Generous Justice, and a commentary on James (my next sermon series). It has been a stressful week away, but God got us through. Thanks for your prayers, and please continue to pray for my dad.
Tomorrow I will conduct the funeral of a young adult who died from a drug overdose, and try to console his parents--who have lost their future. They will likely feel some guilt, in wondering whether they did enough to prevent their son's self-abuse, in spite of knowing that there comes a time when young people are responsible for their decisions. This personal accountability was highlighted in a wise collection of sayings I picked up a few years ago, called "Parents Can't"...
I gave you life, but I can’t live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot be accountable for it.
I can define “joy” for you, but I can’t be responsible for your happiness.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot make moral choices for you.
I can encourage you to learn, but I can’t take your tests for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can show you what’s healthy, but I cannot make you embrace a healthy lifestyle.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.
I can listen to you, but I can’t make you talk.
I can counsel you to care about others, but I cannot make you compassionate.
I can give you love, but I can’t force it on you.
I can urge you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can convey how everyone has value, but I can’t stop you from judging others.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you concerning friends, but cannot choose them for you.
I can instruct you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can caution you about alcohol, but I can’t say “no” for you.
I can warn you about drugs, but I can’t prevent you from using them.
I can teach you about kindness, but I can’t force you to be considerate.
I can take you to church, but I can’t make you believe.
I can admonish you about sin, but I can’t make you holy.
I can love you as God’s gift, but I cannot place you in God’s family.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus, but I can’t make Him your Lord.
I can tell you how to live, but I can’t give you eternal life.
In his book The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren counsels pastors to let go of their inactive members, saying that they left for a reason, and to spend your energy on getting new people in...and while I agree with that, it is so hard to let go. I feel that we have so much to offer, so why would people neglect their own spiritual well-being by not coming to church? If they're going elsewhere, I could live with that, but it is painful to think that these people are content to live apart from their extended spiritual family. Did they leave us because they weren't "of" us? This is the argument of the first epistle of John. I wish I knew. It hurts.
> Follow the Bible, using it as our only source of God’s truth, and our final authority. > Be practical and relevant to what’s happening in today’s world. > Use normal, everyday language. > Provide good, inspirational music. > Let visitors know they’re under no pressure to give money. > Be friendly, always.
50 Essex St, Saugus MA 01906 ph 781-233-2663 Sunday School 9:30 am; Worship 10:45 (Summer 10 am)