A Few Post-Election Thoughts

From the cheap seats..

  1. I thought Romney would get a solid win. Boy, was I wrong.
  2. Pro-life politicians need to learn how to speak clearly, carefully, and winsomely at all times. That may be an impossible standard, given the media and electorate.
  3. People (including me) are fond of thinking that America is a center-right country that sometimes elects liberals to govern. I think we need to re-think that thought.
  4. It’s an odd country where the electorate is profoundly dissatisfied with the direction of the country and then votes for the status quo.
  5. Faithfulness begat Prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother. Cotton Mather
  6. The Democratic Party (and portions of the Republican party) has successfully turned politics into a religion. I’d be willing to bet that a large number of people voted for their candidate because they identified with his “tribe,” while being largely ignorant of his specific proposals.
  7. We may have reached the tipping point from a growth economy to a transfer economy. A growth economy enlarges the pie and lifts all boats (to mix metaphors). A transfer economy manages a shrinking pie. We just voted to fight over the shrinking pie.
  8. We’re witnessing the triumph of envy, resentment, and blame-shifting in American culture. The President ran ads saying that Romney is “not one of us.” He stirred up crowds with “voting is the best revenge.” For his entire first term, he blamed America’s woes on George W. Bush, House Republicans, the Japanese Tsunami, and so on. And 51% of the American people rewarded him for it. Class warfare worked. Demonizing success worked. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it worked because many of us are full of envy and resentment ourselves, and because we hate to take responsibility for our actions.
  9. The President vocally, clearly, and persistently advocated for same-sex marriage and the right to abortion. A substantial portion of the American people gladly embrace the culture of death.
  10. A sign of the times: A woman’s right to make herself barren is considered a part of reproductive rights.
  11. Jethro on leaders: Choose men who fear God and hate a bribe. Obama: Vote for me and I’ll keep the free abortifacients coming.
  12. This looks to me like a “father hunger” election. A fatherless generation is looking for a Father in Washington. The President won single women by 38%. The President, as a man abandoned by his own father, is in a unique position to appeal to the needs, desires, and fears of the fatherless (there’s a deep connection between father hunger, sexual “freedom,” and envy). He put out a famous ad about the life of Julia, a single woman who has most of her needs provided for her by the federal government, from high school through old age. In the liberal vision, the State replaces the father as the direct provider for the family. I predict that the State will make a lousy dad.
  13. On the father hunger note, I think Wilson’s book on the subject is probably one of the most important books on connecting the dots between fathers, envy, provision, abortion, environmentalism, homosexuality, the welfare state, and the gospel. Here’s a quotation I thought of last night: “Chesterton says somewhere that free love, sexual laxity, is the first and most obvious bribe that can be offered to a slave. The kind of freedoms for which the Left—ever friendly to the burgeoning state—agitates are the kind that can be indulged in a six by eight prison cell. You can look at porn in such a cell, you can fornicate in a cell, you can smoke dope, and so on. In contrast, the kind of liberties that conservatives want people to have are the liberties that allow them to move around the country, settle wherever they want, start a business, make money, and most important, keep that money in order to feed their families.” (Doug Wilson, Father Hunger)
  14. Get ready for the further Balkanization of America, the division of people along racial, class, and generational lines. I predict increasing generational conflict (old versus young, parents versus their children), centered around abortion, end-of-life health care decisions, euthanasia, the solvency of Medicare and Social Security, job creation, and so forth. Class warfare and the demonization of “the rich” (or at least the wrong kind of rich) will continue. And I have no idea how to think about racial polarization in the age of Obama.
  15. This is the flowering of the 1960’s sexual revolution (and associated movements). The media, government schools, universities, and culture-makers are overwhelmingly progressive and hostile to the gospel and the Scriptures. As someone said, you can’t fight a culture war if you don’t have a culture. Seems to me that figuring out what a godly culture is and cultivating it within our churches and communities is one of the chief challenges for Christians.
  16. Some day President Obama and all those who support the murder of unborn children will stand before the God who gives life. That’s a terrifying consolation.
  17. Upside: We’ll get to learn what it’s like to be Jeremiah and Ezekiel when Nebuchadnezzar was on his way to Jerusalem. I’ve always been curious.
  18. A hermeneutical question for Bible-believing Christians: Does God still judge nations today for specific sins, and do we have the ability to recognize his intentions in historical events? Natural disasters, willful blindness of leaders, societal disintegration: are these God’s judgment for specific sins and how can we know? It seems to me that recovering our prophetic voice means learning to stand in God’s counsel and then to interpret the present time in light of God’s authoritative word.
  19. A practical question for Bible-believing Christians: Will we hold the line on the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender in the face of increasing hostility, opposition, and marginalization? Will we continue to be the 7000 who don’t bow the knee to Baal?
  20. Here’s what I’m preaching to myself in light of the country’s downward trajectory:
    1. Love your wife. May she never desire to look to the State for provision and protection.
    2. Love your boys. May they never pray in their hearts, “Our Father which art in Washington.”
    3. Teach your students. May they think and feel and live like Christians all the way down.
    4. Pray for the mercy and justice of God. May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
    5. Remember that there are only two ways to live and two ways to die. And in God’s world, faithful death is always followed by resurrection.
    6. Cultivate a genuine counter-culture where God has planted you. Generational love and faithfulness; honor to godly authorities; wise husbands and fathers who provide for their households; strong wives and mothers who don’t fear what is frightening; care for widows, orphans, and the unborn and their mothers; and a readiness to give gospel love when the Lie comes undone.
    7. Hope in God and laugh at the time to come.

The Romance of Orthodoxy [Wisdom from G.K.]

This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 92)

Truth Is A Hairs Breadth from Blasphemy [Wisdom from G.K.]

It was no flock of sheep the Christian shepherd was leading, but a herd of bulls and tigers, of terrible ideals and devouring doctrines, each one of them strong enough to turn to a false religion and lay waste the world. Remember that the Church went in specifically for dangerous ideas; she was a lion tamer. The idea of birth through a Holy Spirit, of the death of a divine being, of the forgiveness of sins, or the fulfillment of prophecies, are ideas which, anyone can see, need but a touch to turn them into something blasphemous or ferocious.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 92)

Lions and Lambs [Wisdom from G.K.]

It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is a brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is–Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity?

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 90)

Drawn and Quartered, Chesterton-Style [Wisdom from G.K.]

Both passions were free because both were kept in their place. The optimist could pour out all the praise he liked on the gay music of the march, the golden trumpets, and the purple banners going into battle. But he must not call the fight needless. The pessimist might draw as darkly as he chose the sickening marches and the sanguine wounds. But he must not call the fight hopeless.

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (p. 88)

Drawn and Quartered Again [Surprised by Joe]

I’m growing more fond of the characterization of the Christian life as akin to being drawn and quartered. Previously, I’ve talked about this in terms of theology (the sovereignty of God vs. the responsibility of man). However, the metaphor has applicability beyond simply Christian beliefs.

For example, recently a friend of mine wrote a well-crafted call for the church to be the church for Christians who struggle with same-sex desire. In it, he wrote poignantly of the loneliness that accompanies the life of faithful Christian celibacy in the face of same sex attraction, as well as the need for communities of supportive Christians who can walk with someone in the fight of faith. In reading it, I was awakened afresh to the desire to be a part of a church where sinners are welcome.

But the need for the church to embrace Christians who struggle against same sex desire is not the only need. There is also the need for faithful witness to the sinfulness of homosexual behavior in the face of rising politically correct sentiment. In some countries, it is illegal to preach on the sin of homosexuality. Therefore, the church must be winsome and bold as we continue to plead with sinners to flee from the wrath to come.

So then, we’re pulled in two directions. We must love those who are struggling while simultaneously resisting calls to approve homosexual behavior. In other words, we must be drawn and quartered.

For an excellent example of the kind of thing I’m talking about, read this interview of David Powlison. He describes perfectly the balance of seeking to live at both extremes.

Keller Channels Edwards [Edwardsisms]

I haven’t watched the whole sermon, but Tim Keller recently channeled Jonathan Edwards in a sermon at Newfrontiers in London. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Adrian Warnock has the video and notes on the sermon. He also throws up a couple of quotations by Edwards and Lloyd-Jones on the need to “change people in their seats” (Keller’s phrase). I can’t be sure, but I think the Lloyd-Jones quotation is building off of  one from Edwards in Some Thoughts Concerning the Reviving of Religion. Here’s the story:

During the Awakening, religious meetings were almost a daily practice and people would hear multiple sermons per week. Charles Chauncy and other opponents of the Awakening disparaged this practice because there was no way that people could remember what they heard in order to apply it to their lives. Edwards described this objection thusly:

The frequent preaching that has lately been, has in a particular manner been objected against as unprofitable and prejudicial. ‘Tis objected that when sermons are heard so very often, one sermon tends to thrust out another; so that persons lose the benefit of all: they say two or three sermons in a week is as much as they can remember and digest.

Edwards responded by making an incredibly profound statement on the benefit of preaching:

Such objections against frequent preaching, if they ben’t from an enmity against religion, are for want of duly considering the way that sermons usually profit an auditory. The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by an effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered. And though an after remembrance of what was heard in a sermon is oftentimes very profitable; yet, for the most part, that remembrance is from an impression the words made on the heart in the time of it; and the memory profits as it renews and increases that impression; and a frequent inculcating [of] the more important things of religion in preaching has no tendency to raze out such impressions, but to increase them, and fix them deeper and deeper in the mind, as is found by experience. (Some Thoughts, Part III, in Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 4, page 397)

That statement has been hugely influential for me as I approach not only preaching, but classroom teaching and listening to sermons. My primary goal in hearing a sermon is not to take copious notes for later reflection (as helpful as those may be). The main goal in hearing a sermon is to meet with the living God, to have his grace awaken my affections so that I am conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).

Such a view of preaching and teaching is hugely liberating because it means that my aim as a preacher is not that my hearers be able to pass a quiz two days (or 30 minutes!) later, but that they would encounter the triune God in the preached word and be transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Before this post gets too long, I’ll just direct your attention to one other place where Keller unpacks this view of preaching and contrasts it with common models today. In an issue of Cutting Edge, the Vineyard Church magazine, Keller had this to say about informational vs. experiential preaching:

The informational view of preaching conceives of preaching as changing people’s lives after the sermon. They listen to the sermon, take notes, and then apply the Biblical principles during the week. But this assumes that our main problem is a lack of compliance to Biblical principles when, in fact, our problems are actually due to a lack of joy and belief in the gospel. If that’s our real problem, then the purpose of preaching is to make Christ so real to the heart that in the sermon itself people have an experience of God’s grace such that false idols and false saviors lose their power and grip on us on the spot. That’s the experiential view of preaching we see in someone like Jonathan Edwards.

In any event, I think that the view of preaching set forth by Edwards, Lloyd-Jones, and Keller is worth deep reflection and meditation. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

“Science, Not Ideology” [Living in an Obama Nation]

A couple of days ago President Obama rescinded the Bush-era ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. In laymen’s terms, your tax dollars will now be used to do research on embryonic human beings. This, despite the fact that scientists have made great progress in research on adult stem cells which don’t require the destruction of human beings.

What’s more, the order apparently even revokes authorization for the latter kind of stem cell research, the kind that no one objects to. That’s right. In the name of science and healing people, we’re going to stop the research that works and is morally okay in favor of the unproven, morally-objectionable kind. Hope and Change.

Here’s a sampling of the President’s speech about this new policy:

“In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.”

Got that? Obama believes it; that settles it. And don’t forget, he’s “a person of faith,” which is kind of like saying “he’s a person that’s breathing.” Apparently, the content of that faith is his right as supreme leader to force people through coercive taxation to pay for wicked research. Some creed.

Oh, and don’t forget: we’re “called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.”*

*”Unless you live in a womb somewhere. Or a laboratory. Then your reason for existing (or not) is to alleviate the rest of our suffering. At the expense of your life.”

And though it’s not a popular comparison, and kind of inflammatory, the Nazi’s also had the “capacity,” and “will” to pursue their research. And their “consciences” were just as seared as President Obama’s.

“Promoting science isn’t just about providing resources — it’s also about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about letting scientists like those who are here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

This quotation relates exactly to my point about the evangelical appeal to science in the public square. The President’s hubris notwithstanding, this executive order is so full of ideology that it’s coming out his ears. “Science” is being co-opted by idolatrous and wicked ideology. The appeal to “the facts” is simply masking that ideology.

Which is why to try to have this debate purely at the level of science is a recipe for failure. There are fundamental idolatries at work here. Sacrifices must be offered; the “priests” who run the abortion racket must be paid off. Science is just trotted out to give the whole thing an air of legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Rick Warren isn’t commenting on any of this because he doesn’t like to comment on political matters and evangelicals are busy printing “Wild About Horses” Bibles and doing altar calls with text messages, just like Jesus told us to.

But in all of this, we must remember that God still reigns over the universe and he will judge this nation and all nations in due time. We may be slouching toward Babylon at the moment, but we can take comfort in God’s preservation of his people. There will always be the 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal (Romans 11:1-6). And when God acts to establish justice among the nations, it will be because he first acted to establish true worship in the hearts of his people.

So, before you go to bed tonight, read a psalm, sing a hymn with your family, and offer up some glad-hearted prayers of supplication, with gratitude in your heart to God. “Commit your way to the Lord, and he will act. His steadfast love endures forever.”

For more articles on the embryonic stem cell issue, Justin Taylor has a good list of articles.

Thank You Jen [Surprised by Joe]

One of my consistent drumbeats on this blog (and I hope I can keep up the rhythm) is to call myself and others to the biblical exhortation to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). What this means (among other things) is that we should constantly be searching our lives for things to be thankful for. Thankfully (!), I have a big one for today.

When my wife and I were first married in the fall of 2005, she and I immediately made the long trek north from Texas to Minneapolis. My ever-gracious wife was willing to put up with a honeymoon “on the road” in Texarkana and Graceland (don’t worry; we did spend a few days in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile and went to a Broadway show). Nevertheless, she left home and family in order to come north with me to make a new home and family. And though the past three years have been better than wonderful, there was something missing.

You see, we moved to Minneapolis so that I could go to school at The Bethlehem Institute. Consequently, my wife graciously agreed to work in order to help pay the bills. Her first job here was at a small company. As the new employee, she was given all the jobs that no one else wanted, which basically meant that she was charged with organizing an unheated shed in Minnesota in November and taking the trash through the snow to the dumpster across the parking lot. It was a terrible job. And yet she did it.

Eventually, we decided that it would be better for her not to work than to endure that. So she came home for a season, which meant she was all alone in a poorly-lighted basement apartment in Minnesota in the winter (you know, when the sun is out for, like, 4 hours per day). Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation.

But God soon provided a much better living situation (still underground, but with wonderful windows and fine landlords). What’s more, he provided her with a new job at Desiring God. And for the past 2 and a half years, she’s faithfully worked in a variety of capacities at Desiring God.

She’s been the administrative assistant for almost all of the directors at DG at one time or another. She worked for Bill Walsh when the International Outreach department launched. For a while, she split time between three bosses, diligently seeking to serve them however she could. She then transitioned to the Events department, where she served through multiple conferences, manning the info desk, coordinating volunteers, and serving conference-goers in countless ways.

From what her co-workers say, she’s excelled in her various positions, showing herself to be a competent and capable assistant. What’s more, as those who know her can attest, my wife has the amazing ability to brighten a room with her sheer presence and personality. Her sense of humor is hilarious and her laughter and joy are infectious. I’m tempted to think that the only reason I have friends up here is because everyone likes to be around her so much that they’re willing to put up with me.

So what was missing? Through all of this service she was not doing what she felt she was called to do deep in her heart. My wife loves the home and feels called to it. Vocational ministry and service is wonderful, but her heart has always called her homeward.

Make no mistake; even in the midst of her 9 to 5 job, she still found time to feed me, transform my wardrobe (she almost completely de-plaidified me, though there are still some stubborn hold-outs), and made our humble abode a welcoming and delightful place to be.

But because of her day job, she was unable to devote her full attention to the home. Like many working women, she was torn between work and home. All so I could study and prepare for the ministry. Her service outside of the home was not just a service to DG; it was fundamentally a service to me and to God.

So this is why I’m grateful: because finally, at long last, it is my great pleasure for her to officially “retire” and devote herself fully to our home and family. Today is my wife’s last day of work at Desiring God.

And so, I want to publicly say thank you to God for giving me such a wife. I don’t deserve her and never have. And yet here she is, serving, loving, honoring, and supporting me every day. Remarkable.

And Jenny, thank you for your glad willingness to serve me in this way for the past three years. I know you sacrificed so that I could chase the call of God on my life. I’m thrilled that you will now be able to chase your call. I’m thrilled that you can now use all your creativity and gifts to minister and bless me and others out of our home. I’m thrilled that you will be devoting yourself to raising our son. As Mike Tong said, Lord willing, you now know God’s call on your life for the next 20 years: Raise up a son to hope in God (and aid the Lord in the difficult task of sanctifying your husband).

So Jenny, for all this and more, thank you.

Become Two Months Pregnant and Stay There [Interpreting the Present Time]

In my last post, I made the argument that as individuals and as a society, we must be on the lookout for two types or stages of idolatry. The first (and earlier) stage is when we begin to treasure God’s gifts above him, while still reaping the benefits of previous fidelity. The second (and later) stage is when, through persistent idolatry, God judges us by giving us over to our cravings. The result is that we deepen in our rebellion and come to hate the gifts that formerly delighted us.

So here’s my contemporary application: Much of what we call “Red-State America” (the South, rural and suburban parts of most states) is in the first stage of idolatry. The fidelity of our parents and grandparents (and, in truth, even farther back) has produced great blessings and fruit in society. However, many have grown to love the gifts over the Giver. The family, the free market economy, safety, security, and prosperity; the list could be multiplied.

We value and treasure these things, but we easily forget where they came from. Such gifts have not been the normal state of existence for most of humanity throughout history. But, as we come to treasure these things above Christ, God will bring discipline in order to turn our hearts back to him. Apart from connection to the vine, the fruit will die. Not immediately perhaps, but in due time. This type of idolatry is subtle and many times difficult to see because it can still masquerade behind a faux-gratitude and reverence for God.

On the other hand, what we call “Blue-State America” (the Coasts and urban areas) is in the later stage of idolatry. Here, rejection of God is more overt and public. Rebellion is flaunted. Persistent glory-exchange has resulted in God’s judgment upon us, in which he hands us over to our self-destructive lusts. As the judgment deepens, we come to despise the former gifts (traditional family, free markets, etc.) because they remind us of Him.

Now then, here is the big challenge, especially for those of us who identify more readily with “Red-State America.” In our rejection of the brazen rebellion, self-destruction, and godlessness of those farther down the road to perdition, we must make clear that we are not simply calling for an earlier, more benign form of idolatry. We must be willing to cast down idols, root and branch. Repentance, regular and heartfelt, is what is required of us.

Let me close with two analogies.

Imagine a hill with a slight incline (perhaps 1-2 degrees) that eventually turns into a steeper incline (20-30 degrees). You start a ball at the top of the hill. At first, it barely seems to be moving, but over time, it picks up speed, especially as it crosses into the steeper incline. Eventually the ball falls off a cliff.

Our goal is not to put the ball back to where it was rolling slowly down the hill to hades. Rather, we want the ball at the top of the hill, and we want it to stay there. In other words, we don’t get Brownie points for rebelling more slowly than the other guy.

Analogy number 2:

The apostle James compares sin to conception, pregnancy, and birth. ” Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). I’m going to modify the analogy a bit.

In type-2 idolatry, we are at 34 weeks and the baby could come at any time. The pregnancy is obvious, the baby is kicking, and Mom and Dad are picking out the colors for the nursery.

Type-1 idolaters, who aren’t quite ready to be “parents” yet (it’s a messy business), want to become 2 months pregnant and stay there. They (we?) want our idolatry in moderation.

But that is not how idolatry works. Societies, like individuals, are not static; they are on trajectories. They are going somewhere. Our task as Christians is to figure out what direction we’re headed so we know whether to punch the right pedal or the left. Do we need to speed up or turn around? And if we’re headed in the wrong direction, we shouldn’t regard taking three steps forward and one step back as a viable solution.

Stages of Idolatry [Interpreting the Present Time]

The other day in the Jonathan Edwards’ class I teach, we had a great discussion on the role of suffering in increasing assurance of salvation. The consensus was that, yes, suffering can increase assurance of salvation, but that we must be discerning about how our hearts respond to the pain.

One of the guys in the class (Tim) noted that suffering often involves the removal of something we treasure, and we run to God, not for his sake, but in order to get our idol back. One thinks of the people who make bargains with God in dire straits (“If you’ll just get me out of this, I will…”). The priority is the removal of pain, not the increase of holiness.

I’ve seen this reflected often in my own life, as God refines me by uprooting some of his treasured gifts to me in order that I would delight in him above all else. So then, here’s the progression:

1. We are walking in faith, delighting in God.
2. God blesses us with good and perfect gifts, which we enjoy for his sake.
3. We begin to treasure those gifts above God, but with no discernible negative consequences.
4. God uproots the gifts so as to remind us of our ultimate Good.
5. Persistent clinging to God’s gifts results in greater chastisement, and eventually we come to hate the very things we formerly treasured.
6. We will continue to spiral downward until either we utterly destroy ourselves, or we repent and God heals us.

So then, when we find ourselves steadily marching down the road to perdition, how do we respond? Do we simply want to return to Stage 3, idolizing God’s gifts with no consequences? “Remember the good ol’ days when we could sacrifice to Baal and enjoy a fruitful harvest?” Or will we repent and return to Stages 1 and 2, where God’s gifts are enjoyed for his sake?

This line of thinking applies not only to individuals, but also to societies. When a society has been penetrated with the gospel such that many of its members walk in trust and obedience to the living God, a thousand blessings are likely to flow. Sowing to the Spirit results in reaping from the Spirit.

However, God’s gifts are often greater threats to true worship than anything else. When God is gracious to us, failure to honor him as God and give thanks is a heinous offense. However, the consequences of this new idolatry do not come right away, just as the blessings of the former obedience did not appear immediately. First we sow, then we reap.

Therefore, for a time, we are both reaping the good fruit of former obedience and sowing the seeds for future judgment. In other words, as a society, we are at Stage 3 in the progression above. God is long-suffering with us, but he will judge in due time. And, as Romans 1 teaches us, his judgment will often take the form of a “giving over” to our idolatrous passions. He punishes us by giving us what we want, knowing that no creaturely image will ever replace the satisfaction supplied by the incorruptible glory of God.

What this means, then, is that, as individuals and as a society, we must be on the lookout for two types (or rather, stages) of idolatry. In the first, we will pay lip-service to God while treasuring his gifts above him. Idolatry is just gaining its foothold in our hearts.

In the second stage, we have jettisoned God all together, overtly worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator, and being judged by God accordingly. At this point, we have come to despise many of the good gifts that formerly delighted us, as they have fallen to husks and ashes apart from a vital connection to the God who gave them. No one wants to eat an orange that’s been sitting on the counter for 6 months.

In a subsequent post, I’ll try to make some contemporary application. But before then, any questions or comments? Any pushback or tweaking? Comment away.

Ambushing Satan with Song [Surprised by Joe]

Over at Jen’s blog, she just posted on one of the oft-used weapons in the Rigney family spiritual arsenal: song.

Such a view of the role of singing is eminently biblical.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21)

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-16)

Common elements in both verses: singing in your heart, with other people, with thankfulness.

Back in 1985, a much younger-sounding Pastor John preached a sermon from 2 Chronicles 20 entitled “Ambushing Satan with Song.” In the story, Judah’s armies are preparing to go to war with the Moabites and Ammonites. Before going out, the people worship God in prayer and singing. Then, when they go to battle, the choir is the tip of the spear, leading the people to victory over their enemies.

From this story I would draw out the following exhortation: Spiritual worship and spiritual warfare should be carried out with singing. In verse 19 when all the people fell down to worship, the choir stood up to sing. And in verse 21 when the people went out to meet the enemy, the choir went before them with songs of victory.

And even more than that, I think that the writer wants us to learn from verse 22 that the enemies of God are thrown into confusion by the songs of God’s people. Or to put it another way, God has appointed the use of spiritual songs as an effective weapon against his archenemy Satan.

Take a look at the sermon, then head over to Jen’s blog and let her know what songs you use to fight the good fight.