Drawing Near

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

Faith & Culture Archive

Thursday

29

November 2018

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COMMENTS

Yes It Is! The Local Church is the Epicenter of God’s Kingdom Purposes in This World

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Faith & Culture, Family

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a football coach who was intense. Really intense. He had a mustache that resembled the look of a proverbial Viking which made him all the more intimidating. He was the kind of man who during his tour-of-duty in Vietnam spent his free time killing water buffalos with his 50 caliber machine gun.

In the strangest of contrasts, school administrators assigned him to teach driver’s education.  I will always remember how he greeted the class as he looked out at us on that first day, “Well,” he scoffed, “This isn’t the freshman class at Harvard.”

I remember his greeting every time I read the Apostle Paul’s assessment of the Corinthian church, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (I Corinthians 1:26-29)

Paul was saying to the Corinthians, “Notice, your gathering is not made up of the ‘movers and shakers’ of the culture. Your curriculum vitae is not very impressive in the world’s eyes, but that’s okay. It’s okay because the church is not about you. The church is about showcasing God’s grace and glory through the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.” (more…)

Tuesday

17

April 2018

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COMMENTS

Tenth Commandment- You Shall Not Covet

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Faith & Culture, Family

tenCommandmentsWallpaperWe end our journey through the Ten Commandments this week with a look at the last of these commands which forbids coveting. We might be tempted to dismiss coveting as a mild offense in light of the other commands which forbid murder, adultery, or stealing.  However, the tenth commandment addresses the desires of the heart as an important indicator of the direction of one’s life.

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul refers to this tenth commandment in his personal reference of how he came to understand the sinful dictates of his own heart.  Paul writes in Romans 7:7, “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” He could have referenced any of Ten Commandments to describe his discovery of his sin nature, but he mentioned covetousness because it brought him to the wayward desires of his heart.

The tenth commandment forbids the coveting of your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17) I believe God gave this word to keep us from many sorrows and to call us to find the satisfaction of our life in a personal relationship with Him.

Rodney Clapp some years ago wrote an essay published in Christianity Today entitled, “Why the Devil takes Visa.”  In the article Clapp addressed the universal battle with covetousness:

The consumer is schooled in insatiability. He or she is never to be satisfied—-at least not for long.  The consumer is tutored that people basically  consist of   unmet needs…..Accordingly, the consumer should think first and foremost of himself or herself and meeting his or her felt needs.  The consumer is taught to value above all else freedom, freedom defined as a vast array of choices.

These “vast array of choices” seem to describe what fuels a frenzy of consumption.  In this world’s philosophy, such a passion for things is linked to one’s happiness. However, this is a dangerous way to think and to live. This vicious cycle helps us understand why God lovingly goes on record by forbidding covetousness.  (more…)

Friday

2

February 2018

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COMMENTS

They Are Not The Ten Suggestions

Written by , Posted in Devotional, Faith & Culture

tenCommandmentsWallpaperThirty years ago Ted Koppel, the noted journalist, addressed the graduating class of Duke University.  In his commencement address, Koppel made this compelling statement:

“We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. ‘Shoot up if you must; but use a clean needle.’ ‘Enjoy sex whenever with whomever you wish; but wear a condom.’ No. The answer is no. Not no because it isn’t cool or smart or because you might end up in jail or dying in an AIDS ward — but no, because it’s wrong. What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions, they are Commandments. Are, not were… The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior. Not just for then or now but for all time.”

Koppel’s words cut like knife in an age which treats the concept of objective truth, “right and wrong,” like a wax nose, where one can custom craft their morality according to what they think is right.

Koppel was correct to affirm that when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai written upon the tablets of stone were not suggestions. They were not helpful hints to tweak your life. No, these words written by the hand of God were loving commandments given to His people to guard them and bless them.  Israel was fully warned that to forsake the commandments of God would bring terrible consequences (Deuteronomy 28:47). (more…)

Tuesday

12

September 2017

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COMMENTS

Suing Saints

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Faith & Culture

Image of LawsuitsI did a lot of highway travel this summer and have been amazed by the glut of attorney advertisements along the interstates of this fruited plain. I began to think that if I were a visitor from another country (or another planet), and I was trying to determine what was important in this culture, billboards and television commercials would indicate that having an aggressive attorney is one of the most important resources that I could have.

We live in a lawsuit-crazed culture where advertisements for attorney services appeal to your right to file a suit against another. The appeals are incredible, and at times shameful:

“Have you got your check yet?”

“I love my lawyer!”

“After you have been injured, there’s only one place to turn…”

“I will fight for you!”

An attorney is often the first person someone calls after any scrape or conflict. Without question, there are times and circumstances when we need an attorney, but for the Christian there are many things to consider with regard to lawsuits, especially when it pertains to another believer. (more…)

Sunday

30

August 2015

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COMMENTS

Reflections on Katrina Ten Years Later

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

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On Sunday, August 28th 2005, the First Baptist Church Gonzales, La.  gathered for worship with a foreboding outlook on the next 24 hours. As we closed the worship service, I addressed the congregation by stating the obvious, namely that the radar and forecast were troubling, and that we should make final decisions regarding the storm. My last comment was one leading to a closing prayer for God’s protection and provision, I shared with our church that Katrina promises to be a future pseudonym for disaster, and I am confident that it will change south Louisiana in a very profound way. I challenged our people that with such destruction coming our way, we could count on unprecedented opportunities for ministry.

For five hours on Monday, August 29, Hurricane Katrina battered the major Gulf Coast cities, and when all was said and done there were 1833 deaths and $108 billion dollars in damages.  Douglas Brinkley in his comprehensive and impressive chronicle, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast,  writes, “The storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half million homes, creating the largest domestic refugee crisis since the Civil War. Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water, as debris and sewage coursed through the streets, and whole towns in southeastern Louisiana ceased to exist.”

Gonzales, being some 60 miles west of New Orleans along the route of Interstate 10, would escape the higher winds and the devastating flooding of our friends in New Orleans.  By being one of the first major exits on I-10 west out of New Orleans, Gonzales became a city of refugee for many fleeing Katrina. (more…)

Friday

21

August 2015

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COMMENTS

Life is Short, Don’t Have an Affair

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Faith & Culture

One can only imagine the panic Tuesday’s revelation brought throughout the world when hackers announced that they were going to post online the client data from Ashley Madison, a web company that facilitates adulterous connections globally. This data leak is now available for download and includes: full names, street addresses, email addresses, and financial information of some 37 million users.

Make no mistake about it, the fallout will be devastating to millions of families, and serves to remind us of the dangerous secret lives that are being lived out in epic proportions on the Internet. We could rightly call this week’s Ashley Madison debacle a category 5 with regard to moral storms, and its effects most certainly will be catastrophic.

The explosion of Internet immorality into multi-billion dollar business seems to have come together like a perfect storm as spiritual decline coupled with the jettisoning of biblical truth merged with the rapid advance of the Internet.
(more…)

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…)

Tuesday

24

September 2013

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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…)