Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Yearly Archive: 2013

Monday

9

December 2013

2

COMMENTS

Kirsten Powers and the Miracle of the New Birth

Written by , Posted in Devotional, Faith & Culture, Theology

insider_powers_0In recent weeks, I have read with great interest and joy the testimony of Kirsten Powers.  Her journey of grace was posted on Christianity Today’s website on October 22, 2013. Since then her story has gone viral and has been the source of much media attention.

Powers possesses quite a resume that includes an appointment to the Clinton White House, as well as established credentials as a journalist with such news outlets as Fox News and The Daily Beast. Throughout her career, Powers has been known as a progressive, secular, and atheistic liberal who expressed a pronounced contempt for all things Christian.

However, seven years ago, through the witness of a boyfriend and the consistent preaching of a faithful pastor, Powers was confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ.  Over the span of eight months of attending church and Bible study, the thick crust of resistance began to breakdown. (more…)

Thursday

28

November 2013

0

COMMENTS

A Journey with Thanksgiving

Written by , Posted in Devotional

Rockwell-saying-grace-19514-3It was G. K. Chesterton who said, “The saddest moment in an atheist’s life comes when they have something for which to be thankful and no one to thank.”  Indeed, God’s blessings are poured out before us in ten thousand ways if we would have eyes to see them.  From the rain to the sun, to the food and water that sustain us, to the loving relationships of our lives, all bear witness to the common grace God bestows on His creation.

It has been observed that if you can read, you possess an ability not known by 1.2 billion of this world’s population. If you woke up with more health than sickness, you are certainly better off than one million people in this world who won’t make it through the week. If you have food, clothes, a roof over your head, and 20 dollars in your pocket, then you are richer than 80% of world.  And, if you own a Bible, you are more blessed than a third of the world who has no access to one.

However, instead of being thankful to God, we tend to be the opposite.  Like Israel of old we come to despise the manna and demand the meat.  When we have an interruption, an inconvenience, or an irritation, we put God in the dock calling into question His goodness. (more…)

Wednesday

27

November 2013

0

COMMENTS

Thoughts After Reading “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

coming_apart

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray is a fascinating and sobering cultural analysis of the last 50 years in the United States.  Written from a socially conservative, libertarian perspective, Murray argues that “our nation is coming apart at the seams—not ethnic seams, but the seams of class. ( p. 273)

Murray is careful to point out that “it is not the existence of classes that is new, but the emergence of classes that diverge on core behaviors and values—classes that barely recognize their underlying American kinship.” (p. 12)

Murray articulates the civil religion manifesto clearly, “The American project…consists of the continuing effort…to demonstrate that human beings can be left free as individuals and families to live their lives as they see fit, coming together voluntarily to solve their joint problems. The polity based on that idea led to a civic culture that was seen as exceptional by all the world. The culture was so widely shared among Americans that it amounted to a civil religion. To be an American was to be different from other nationalities, in ways that Americans treasured. That culture is unraveling.” (p. 12)

With great precision, Murray charts the disintegration of “founding virtues” that have made America exceptional among the nations of the world. He identifies four virtues that were emphasized by the founders’ of this country and consistently present through the ebb and flow of American history into the 1960’s. However, from the 1960’s to the present, Murray presents research that shows that something catastrophic has happened in the last fifty years. (more…)

Monday

28

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

Are You a Spiritual Flexetarian?

Written by , Posted in Devotional

320200015_Meat_vs_Vegetables_xlarge-1Kyle Idleman in his book Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus recounts a news story about a group of new vegetarians who struggle with a full commitment. In an interview, one young woman said, “I usually eat vegetarian. But I really like sausage.”

The report went on to describe many in the vegetarian movement who eat vegetarian but make some exceptions. They don’t like meat unless they really like it. This type of compromise has some true vegetarians outraged with many of them demanding the compromisers change their names. (more…)

Sunday

6

October 2013

1

COMMENTS

Adoniram Judson: A Mustard Seed Well Sown

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

ijudson001p1Much has been written on the life and work of Adoniram Judson and rightly so.  It was just over 200 years ago that Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann set sail from Salem, MA in route to India (later arriving in Burma).  Many of those on the wharf that day no doubt thought that their departure was such a small deposit, with little hope of bearing anything substantial.

Judson was 24 years old and Ann was 23 when they left their native New England.  He would labor in Burma for 38 years until his death at age 61.  In that entire time he would only return home once, and that after 33 years of being away. From a human perspective their departure for the hardships of missionary life was a fool’s errand. (more…)

Thursday

3

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

DR. SEUSS AND A PASTOR’S WEDDING POLICY

Written by , Posted in Church Life

I’m wondering if pastors and churches haven’t contributed to the marital malaise of our generation because of a lack of diligence in upholding biblical standards for marriage and weddings?  Sadly, in many instances weddings have become a perfunctory ceremony devoid of preparation, reverence and significance.

tumblr_mhauixtEQ81s30h6vo1_500I have a pastor friend who recently attended a wedding conducted by one professing to be a minister of the Gospel. The ceremony lasted about ten minutes.  No Scripture was read and no prayer was offered.  The vows exchanged were so vague he scarcely could establish that it was a Christian gathering. The ceremony seemed only to broadcast a disconnect from any biblical foundation.  To me it just seems certain that this is one of the reasons that biblical marriage is increasingly undermined by a divorce culture that sees marriage as a temporary social arrangement.

Of all human commitments, second only to following Jesus Christ, if any deserves the taking off of our shoes because we are on holy ground, it is the occasion when a man and a woman unite before God in the covenant of marriage. Furthermore, at the heart of the Great Commission is the command to make disciples, and I can’t think of a better strategy for disciple-making than to prepare the church to honor God in marriage. (more…)

Tuesday

1

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

Do You Have Biblical Faith?

Written by , Posted in Devotional, Uncategorized

Sea World Believe_mainMy family and I went to a theme park several years ago and after watching the killer whales do their thing we began to exit the aqua-theatre. As we left the facility, I noticed they had put the word “BELIEVE” on the large screen.  My first thoughts were, “What do they want us to believe? Believe in ourselves? Believe in belief? Believe in the power of whales? Believe what?”

After kicking these questions around in my mind, I concluded that the words “faith” and “believe” have been lost in our culture to a hundred conflicting and vague definitions.  With Jesus teaching that the greatest commandment is to love God (Matthew 22:37,38), the God we cannot see with our eyes (John 1:18; John 4:24), we better think seriously about a biblical understanding of what faith is. (more…)

Tuesday

24

September 2013

0

COMMENTS

Slavery Right in Our Backyard

Written by , Posted in Faith & Culture

bangladesh1In a special needs orphanage in East Asia, a little boy rested on a pallet with eyes wide open. An oxygen tube provided necessary assistance to maintain his breathing. He rested peacefully, but was lethargic.

After looking into his eyes, we asked the orphanage caregiver, “What is his birth defect?” She responded, “He doesn’t have a birth defect. He was taken by human traffickers as an infant and placed in a storage container. Because of lack of oxygen, he has permanent brain damage. We don’t think he is going to be with us much longer.” Sadly, by the end of the year, her prediction was correct.

Upon returning to the United States, the temptation for us was to compartmentalize this atrocity as an incident that occurs only in far off places, but the truth of the matter is that human trafficking is a global scourge that does not discriminate based on any criteria. The lives affected by modern day slavery are not only in third-world settings, but are in fact occurring in our own backyard.  (more…)

Friday

6

September 2013

0

COMMENTS

A Grace-Filled Response to Personal Suffering

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

grace-treeI finish my 82nd sermon in Genesis this Sunday which concludes a 2 1/2 year journey through this foundational and life-changing book.  Studying the narratives of Genesis 37-50 has been a rich blessing for me personally, and based on the feedback, for FBCG as well.

In recent weeks, the study of Joseph has become larger than life to me.  It is amazing to see the grace of God on display as he faces intense suffering. Following Joseph’s steps to Egyptian prominence is amazing: (more…)

Saturday

31

August 2013

0

COMMENTS

Cream Cheese Moments and Our Need for Humility

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

imagesC. J. Mahaney has written a very helpful book entitled, Humility: True Greatness. In this work he tells the following story:

As I sat with my family at a local breakfast establishment, I noticed a finely dressed man at an adjacent table. His Armani suit and stiffly pressed shirt coordinated perfectly with a power tie. His wing-tip shoes sparkled from a recent shine, every hair was in place, including his perfectly groomed moustache. The man sat alone eating a bagel as he prepared for a meeting. As he reviewed the papers before him, he appeared nervous, glancing frequently at his Rolex watch. It was obvious he had an important meeting ahead.

The man stood up and I watched as he straightened his tie and prepared to leave.  Immediately I noticed a blob of cream cheese attached to his finely groomed moustache. He was about to go into the world, dressed in his finest, with cream cheese on his face. I thought of the business meeting he was about to attend. Who would tell him? Should I? What if no one did? (Attributed to Pastor James R. Needham in a 2004 illustration from www.preachingtoday.com) (more…)