Cancer Cannot Separate Us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus

September 27, 2016

After preaching Sunday on Romans 8:35-39, I learned via Facebook that Anjel French has melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer that has spread to other parts of her body. Anjel is married to Jason French, former worship leader at one of the campuses of Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis and the author of some of the songs we sing at DGCC. In Jason’s post on Sunday evening, he discusses how the very truths we sang about and heard about that morning are life-giving and spirit-feeding in the midst of such serious trials. An excerpt:

Cancer is not God. It is created. It is creation. It is not self-existing. It is not autonomous. It does not have a will of its own such that it can live and move, expand or shrink, or even die apart from the will of the Creator of the entire Cosmos whom we are so privileged to call “Father,” because we have been adopted into his family through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of his beloved Son, Jesus, and are now sealed with the promise of and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

So, cancer does not have the final say. Cancer must obey God. God has the final say and for his children, this will is always for us. It can never, ever be against us. If God commands the cancer to go, it will and must go. If God in Christ commands the cancer to remain, or grow, or shrink, or stay the same, it bends to the will of him who holds as things together—even cancer—by the word of his power. And if he wills the cancer stays, we know and believe he hides a smile behind the frowning providence, for he has written down all of our days in his book when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:14). Our days will not be cut short, nor prolonged. This is not fatalism. This is faith in our Father, Lord of heaven and earth.

Do pray for Anjel and Jason. And do read the whole post.

Keith Lamont Scott and Brentley Vinson

September 21, 2016

Keith Lamont Scott, 43, father of 7, is dead, killed by Police Officer Brentley Vinson, 26, a 2012 graduate of Liberty University, where he played football.

Both are African-American.

It should go without saying – but unfortunately still needs to be said – that black lives matter.

It should go without saying – but unfortunately still needs to be said – that black cops’ lives matter.

Was Officer Vinson acting out of racial hatred? Clearly not.

Was Officer Vinson acting out of a justified assessment that he and other police officers were about to be attacked? That is what Police Chief Putney – also African-American – states emphatically.

Based on our past experience, some of us tend to believe what police tell us.

Based on our past experience, some of us tend not to believe what police tell us.

Thus we can react very differently to the same set of facts.

Our local political leaders, Democrat and Republican, have handled the situation well in my assessment, calling for calm, condemning violence, acknowledging the right of peaceful protest, and assuring the city that there will be a full and fair investigation. Some of last night’s protestors rightly called for accountability – and there must be. May we all work to make sure that happens.

Yet right now, in the fog of these chaotic events, many people are speaking out, in public and on social media, after hearing what can only be partial accounts of what happened, condemning Officer Vinson, condemning Chief Putney.

Brothers and sisters, all Christians should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). All Christians should know that “the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).  And all Christians should know that:

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

If Officer Vinson is guilty of shedding innocent blood, and if Chief Putney is guilty of having a lying tongue, they should be convicted in a court of law, and in the end will be found guilty before our Lord’s perfect tribunal. So may the process play out justly. If others are acting as false witnesses, breathing out lies, trying to sow discord, they too in the end will be found guilty before our Lord’s perfect tribunal.

So may we call for justice. May we work for justice. May we mourn with the Scott family, who have to face this tragedy. May we mourn with the Vinson family, who also have to face a tragedy – a tragedy of a lower order of magnitude, but  a tragedy nevertheless.

And may we pray – together, with one heart, with one accord – that God might use even these horrible events to heal our city, to enable the Gospel to shine forth in a thousand acts of love and comfort, and to display the unity all believers of all races really, genuinely have in Christ.

 

Call to Me and I Will Answer

September 9, 2016

Jeremiah 33:2-3: “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it – the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

We should be amazed at this statement. The One who made all things, the One who fulfills all His plans,  tells part of His creation – us! – to call out to Him. And He promises to answer! Indeed, He promises not only to answer, but to reveal to us what we could never know on our own, “great and hidden things.”

God declared these words to Jeremiah while he was under arrest for speaking truth. The Babylonians had besieged Jerusalem, cutting off all sources of food. Jeremiah had prophesied again and again that they would conquer the city as a judgment from God. The Lord God had rejected His people, and had ordained that even His temple – the physical picture of His presence in the midst of His people – would be destroyed. Since many officials found these prophesies treasonous, they had him arrested. Unable to scrounge for food in a city where starvation was rampant, Jeremiah was in danger of death. And the Babylonians were coming soon.

In this time of despair, God speaks to His people through His suffering prophet, saying: “Remember who I am. Remember my power and might. Remember my authority. Yes, my people have been disobedient. Yes, judgment is coming – it must come. But you, my faithful remnant: Call to me. Seek my face. Cry out to me. Run after me. For I will answer you. I will reveal to you more of who I am than you’ve ever known: more of my covenant promises, more of my plans, more of my glory. Call to me! For this is who I am – the revealing God, the God who speaks.” And in the following verses, He speaks of His plans to restore the people and to bring forth a “righteous branch” – Jesus Himself! – from the line of David.

Today, we too live in a society which rebels against God’s authority. We too can look around and be tempted to despair. We too can think that there is no hope.

But the Lord God tells us also: “I made all this. I am in control. I am working out my good and right purposes in the entirety of this creation and in this specific country. So know me! Cry out to me – and I will answer! I will tell you great and hidden things!”

So cry out to Him! Open His Word, in which all things were written for our instruction that we might have hope (Romans 15:4). Go to the Word in prayer, as a supplicant, asking for insight, acknowledging your dependence. Go to church services, asking to hear of God’s marvels in that Word. Expect to see great and hidden things about our Lord, which only He can reveal. Expect to have that Word mold your thoughts and attitudes, conforming you to the image of Christ, the Righteous Branch. Ask that it might be so, for you and for all of God’s people, God’s remnant.

And the Lord God – He who made the earth, he who formed it to establish it, Yahweh is His Name – He Himself will answer Your call through His Word, and will show you wonderful things from His Law (Psalm 119:18).