The author of Four Against the Arctic, in a philosophical moment, quotes the existentialist Albert Camus' book The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus (I believe it is pronounced Cam-moo) writes,
"There is one truly serious philosophical question, which is that of suicide. To decide that life is not worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy."
I have to admit again that the existentialists have much insight on life. Sadly though, the honest and consistent existentialist does not even have an answer to the question, let alone the right answer.
One thing is for certain though, without a Biblical view of man, man is (as they say) "better off dead." When one takes an "under the sun" approach to life one is left without a distinguished purpose and without a solid basis for dignity. In other words, man has no real reason for living. These words of Camus almost echoes those of Solomon who, after viewing all of life from a Camus-like lens, says, "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless."
Thankfully Jesus solves the "to be or not to be" question when He says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." In this passage Jesus underscores the value of humanity. In the background of this passage we hear that man is God's beloved creation. Even in his miserable, sinful state humanity is precious. So precious is man in God's eyes that He would send his Son, in the very form of man, to redeem the men He has designated for it.
The key to life's question is the Life Giver. Life is not to be terminated by one's own hand. Life is to be lived. But not only is life to be lived, it is to be lived with fullness of life. Sure, if life is just about scrapping by, then, yeah, why not pull the trigger? If life is no better than that of a dog's, then why put off the inevitable? But if life possesses meaning and fulfilment, purpose and dignity, then another day is to be had.
Jesus knows that life is really nothing more than an existence without His redemption. Jesus knows that the real end of a man oriented philosophy is ultimately suicide. So he intervenes with the answer to philosophy's most basic question: It is not about whether or not I chose to take my life of live it. It is about whether or not I choose to serve Christ or not.
This next week I get to speak about one of my favorite subjects: my kids and our experience in adoption.
Mark Hamilton, one of our elders at Providence Church, teaches a course on ethics at the university as part of his philosophy core. In it he has one section designated to the issue of abortion. He asked me to come and talk about the flip side of it (i.e. adoption).
If you are interested, the synopsis of my talk is listed here.
All this is to say that Providence Church, unlike many other churches today, won't be dying out anytime soon.
What I also like is that this picture displays something of our church's unity. These families came forward on Sunday for a child dedication. They took vows to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and I had the great opportunity to close this part of the service by praying for them.
Sure, I would have prefered that they baptize the children too. I believe that paedo-communion is Scriptural. As a matter of fact, I think it is quite a serious thing to "neglect or contemn" this rite. They don't though. So we have to deal with it. In the midst of our diversity, we seek to love each other. We accept each other in the Lord despite our quibble over water's application.
These two dynamics of our church home here in Ashland is just some of what makes it such a great place to worship.
Providence Church is a dual confessional church, which means we allow for either infant baptism or infant dedication if the family is of a credo baptist persuasion. This morning we had a child dedication. This was the prayer that I offered for the occasion:
You sent your own Son into this world as the child of Mary and Joseph. And in the same way you commit to us the joy of raising children.
We thank you for the life of Josiah and Nevin, which now have been entrusted to the care of these parents. Help us to remember the weight of this great privilege and to assist them as they raise them in the fear and admonition of your name.
Grant Matt & Rachel and Mike & Renata all grace and fill them with your Spirit, so that they may love these precious gifts and help them walk in the way of God. Equip them with the patience, strength and wisdom to impart our most holy faith at all times. Guide them to speak what is in accord with sound doctrine, to use the rod of discipline with the most affectionate skill, to exemplify repentance, and to hold forth the gospel in all its purity.
And in so doing, may Josiah and Nevin grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. May they hold fast to Christ all their days and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. May there never be a day that they did not know Christ as Lord and Savior. And may you shine the light of your love upon them even now.
For we ask this in the strong Name of Jesus.
In months past I have written on the cause of suicide. I explained that some of its prevalence in Ashland (and America at large) is due much to the naturalistic and materialistic worldview that is taught in our public schools (and pretty much everywhere else). I would like to offer one more reason why people choose to end their lives. I would not doubt either that this is the most basic cause.
"Suicide can be one of the ways that people deal with their sin. It is, at the same time, a means of escape and a kind of self atonement. The guilt one experiences for sin can be exceedingly maddening. The only remedy may appear to be the ending of the thinking process. Similarly, the shedding of one's blood for guilt parody's the true remedy for sin: The crucifixion of Christ.
"It is no wonder that you are driven to despair; when your sins come howling behind you like so many ravenous wolves. I should understand why you would seek to lay violent hands upon yourself. It is no strange thing for men to loose all hope when under a sentence of sin."
My friend Caleb Davenport is currently running for the Ohio Senate. I want to take a second to encourage anyone in Wayne, Stark, and Summit Counties to back his campaign.
Caleb is a member of the congregation I serve and his Biblical convictions advance the priorities we hold dear. His decision to do so came as a result of the need to stand for life and liberty, something the current seat holder has not done.
At the top of his list is his support for the Ohio Heartbeat Bill, which could virtually wipe out abortions in Ohio. It would protect children in the womb as soon as their heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs in the 3rd or 4th week. His opponent hands drip with blood because he has not backed this critical piece of legislation.
Davenport also has pledged to defend our freedom of conscience when it comes to our religious convictions. His opponent has introduced legislation that would mandate business owners to violate their conscience and require them to do business with homosexuals.
All of this goes under the false flag of "anti-discrimination." But what it amounts to is a huge infringement on one's first amendment liberties and, essentially, a state ordered religion.
The Biblical values also extends to the sphere of commerce and integrity in the marketplace. As an entrepreneur himself, Caleb already knows quite a bit about how government intrusion can take the life out of the economy. As a Christian he knows the results of making government the All Saving god.
If you value life and liberty, I want to encourage you to back Caleb's campaign. Visit his website and connect with his campaign Facebook page. You can help advance righteousness in the land.
This afternoon I have opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects: My kiddos! My friend Mark Hamilton is allowing me to speak to his medical ethics class at Ashland University. The topic will be that of adoption and my experiences as an adoptive father.
This class comes as a fitting end to their section on abortion. Mark is to be commended for his work with the students on this issue. He has done an excellent job setting forth a Biblical understanding of conception and the nature of human life. He has also shown the 180 Movie and another documentary detailing the nature of horror of abortion.
An outline of my lecture is provided here: Issues & Experiences in Adoption
[Below is an overture that I just sent to the clerk of our presbytery (Ohio Presbytery) for consideration at our meeting this Saturday.]
To our Esteemed Senators, February 4, 2012
We, the members and representatives of the Ohio Presbytery, do greet you in the strong Name of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We also send you our deepest regards and express our great appreciation for your faithful service to the people of Ohio.
Nevertheless, it is with great grief that we write to you today. For we understand that the lives of unborn children are lost daily because you delay in bringing to the floor the legislation known as Heartbeat Bill.
The Word of God clearly indicates that it is the duty of public magistrates to do all that is within their power to protect and preserve the lives of the people under their authority. While it is your duty to uphold justice for all who reside within the boundaries of this state, it is especially incumbent upon you to maintain the cause of those citizens who are the weakest and most frail.
We, the elders and ministers of Christ’s church, wish to remind you of this charge that God has bestowed upon you. Moreover, we send this message to you today as a public rebuke for your dilatory acts on this vital piece of legislation.
On this the fourth day of February in the year of our Lord 2012, we call you to repent of your slothful attitudes in regards to this bill and your negligence towards those children who are daily being killed. We do summons you to show this penitent spirit by ceasing to delay the vote on and passage of the Heartbeat Bill.
You must remember that the King of Kings holds the men of earth accountable for their actions. He will by no means permit the guilt of bloodshed to go unpunished. Therefore it is incumbent upon you, our senators, to fulfill your divinely appointed calling by seeing to it that innocent blood is no longer spilt.
You may be assured that the Judge of the earth is good and abundant in mercy. When men turn from evil and do what is right in His eyes, He prolongs their days and feeds them with gladness. He promises kindness to those who fear Him and restores the fortunes of those who seek his face.
Be it then resolved in your hearts that you heed this admonition and uphold the commandments of God. Cease to sin against Him any longer and do that which is right.
With deepest affection,
The Members and Representatives of the churches belonging to Christ in the Ohio Presbytery
Almighty and Everlasting God,
We thank you that you are one who is slow to anger and quick with his merciful embrace. For we are sinful people, ever reliant upon your patience and steadfast love.
On this day we remember the waywardness of our nation, how we love the shedding of innocent blood and are bent on evil. Yet, O God, we come before you because our own, individual sins, and we confess that we have repudiated your law.
We grieve that our nation has legalized that which you find to be an abomination. Yet we bewail the impotence of your church in the matter and the silence of her ministers. And we pray that you would forgive us.
We mourn the fact that children are not wanted by our culture, but we lament with great sadness that we your church have not wanted them either. And we pray that you would forgive us.
Our hearts fail because all around us children are considered an inconvenience to one’s pleasures and material profits. Yet we confess the guilt of our own hands in the same matter. And we pray that you would forgive us.
We pray O God that you would pardon us for these and for our many other transgressions. And we would ask that this same grace would work within us, causing us not to conform to our culture, but enabling us to be a witnesses to it. May your Spirit quicken our hearts so that we might be salt and light for this world and a power to resist and overturn it.
For this we ask in Jesus name, Amen.
A lot of people are against Ron Paul as a presidential candidate because of his foreign policy. A lot of that number will even express that they are against Ron Paul solely because of his foreign policy. They say that it is too isolationistic in its formulation.
I have the mind to object to such an objection. The video below gives some expression to that. This is my main protestation though: As a nation that slaughters its unborn by the millions each year, who are we to be jaunting around the world putting our guns up other people’s noses and telling them what to do. If we want to be the “defenders of freedom” on the international scene (assuming that is a legitimate cause--which I'm not), then we must first defend it within our own boarders by protecting the womb.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.