Archive - January, 2010

Matt Chandler: Suffering Well

A fair-minded and gracious Associated Press article on Matt Chandler’s ongoing struggle with brain cancer. This is the first time I’ve been able to read about the severity of Chandler’s Thanksgiving Day seizure and associated brain cancer. Here’s an excerpt:

Thanksgiving morning, a normal morning at the Chandler home.
The coffee brews itself. Matt wakes up, pours himself a cup, black and strong like always, and sits on the couch. He feeds 6-month-old Norah from a bottle. Burps her. Puts her in her bouncy seat.
The next thing Chandler knows, he is lying in a hospital bed.
What Chandler does not remember is that he suffered a seizure and collapsed in front of the fireplace, rattling the pokers. He does not remember biting through his tongue.
He does not remember his wife, Lauren, shielding the kids as he shook on the floor. Or, later, ripping the IV out of his arm and punching a medic in the face.

And another:

On Dec. 15, Barnett shares the pathology results with the Chandlers. Tumors are designated by grade — with Grade 1 being the least aggressive and Grade 4 being the most.
Chandler’s tumor is a Grade 3.
The average life expectancy in such cases, Barnett says, is approximately two to three years. The doctor says later, in an interview, he believes Chandler will live longer because of the aggressive surgery, treatment and Chandler’s otherwise good health.

Read the whole thing.
HT: Matt Perman via Justin Taylor

Future Sovereign Grace Albums

Bob Kauflin gives a glimpse of the albums Sovereign Grace Music hopes to produce:
1. Alli en la Cruz (May 2010)
2. Walking with the Wise (June 2010)
3. The Gathering (Nov. 2010)
4. Risen (Feb. 2011)
5. Jesus is Able (release date TBD)
See his post for details.

CBS Stands By Pro-Life Tim Tebow Ad

Several years ago, CBS rejected Superbowl ads from, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the United Church of Christ, which advocates gay rights. So their decision this year to run a Focus on the Family sponsored ad featuring former Florida Gator football star Tim Tebow and his mother (who was encouraged to abort Tim due to pregnancy complications) has naturally raised a few eyebrows.
CBS has acknowledged that it has changed its policy with regard to issue advertisements in the Superbowl. And they’ve assured all critics that the Tebow commercial has been fully vetted:

A CBS spokesman said the Tebow commercial was subjected to the “full standards process that all ads go through” and accepted only after the script was reviewed.

The development is interesting in light of NBC rejecting a (similarly positive) pro-life ad last year that depicted Obama as an unborn child:

I’m glad CBS is sticking by the commercial. But I don’t think we should conclude that CBS is necessarily being more virtuous. Economics may be the more dominant factor. As the LA Times recently explained:

CBS’ decision on the Tebow ad comes as networks and TV stations have struggled for revenue amid a weak advertising market. Until recently, networks were routinely able to command higher rates each year for Super Bowl commercials, but that ended with the recession. CBS has been selling 30-second spots in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl for about $2.7 million each — slightly less than NBC was able to command for last year’s game — and still has some advertising time left to sell.

General Motors, Pepsico and Fedex are all staying away from the Super Bowl, according to a study by ad researcher TNS Media Intelligence. The upshot? Maybe I missed it, but has a pro-abortion-rights group sought to sponsor a gentle, gracious, issue-oriented Superbowl ad in support of their message? That might be a better strategy for them, rather than simply condemning CBS’s legitimate business decision to air a tasteful ad about a mother’s decision regarding her son. (And after all, who are the champions of a woman’s right to choose?)
HT: Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Suffering & Sovereignty of God Conference

Chris Donato and Keith Mathison have (more or less) live-blogged the recent Ligonier conference on suffering and the sovereignty of God (which ran from Friday – Saturday this past weekend, and featured R.C. Sproul and Derek Thomas).
Speaking of Ligonier Conferences, on March 26–27, 2010, Ligonier Ministries will host a West Coast Conference in Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Horton, John MacArthur, Peter Jones, and R.C. Sproul will come together “to examine many of the popular misunderstandings of the gospel in our day and seek to equip evangelicals to stand firm with the good news delivered once for all to the saints”. I look forward to live-blogging the event (provided Chris and Keith haven’t put me out of business).
Early-bird registration ($89) runs through January 29.

Spare the Spanking, Spoil the Report Card?

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, writing for the Wall Street Journal, reflects on the results of a new study by Calvin College’s Marjorie Gunnoe on the practice of corporal punishment, and various Christian perspectives/traditions on the topic. An excerpt:

Compared with those who had never experienced physical discipline, those who endured parental swats between the ages of 2 and 6 were much more likely to report positive academic records and optimism about their future. Even those who received their last spanking between the ages of 7 and 11 reported that they volunteered more, compared with those who had never been spanked. In fact, the never-spanked group never scored the best on any of the 11 behavioral variables analyzed. According to Prof. Gunnoe, her research, which was based on surveys of 183 adolescent children, doesn’t provide answers to parents as to how they should discipline so much as undermine the rationale for banning spanking.

Read the whole thing.
HT: Albert Mohler

By This We Know Love

A beautiful and uplifting song by Judah Groveman (the album is available here):

By This We Know Love from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

The Controversy at Northwestern College

Jenna Ross, writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, has a lengthy, fairly even-handed article on the controversy brewing over the last few years at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. She opens this way:

A debate dogging the quiet Christian campus of Northwestern College has the president apologizing, some alumni calling for his resignation and everyone doing a lot of praying.
A group of students and alumni has accused Northwestern President Alan Cureton of weeding out conservative professors and trustees to help push the campus toward “postmodern” theology. A protest group on Facebook has drawn more than 1,200 members.
Scholars, Christians and alumni around the country are watching to see whether the controversy at the Roseville school once led by evangelist Billy Graham will reach the heights of those at such places as Baylor University in Texas, where years of infighting led to that president’s resignation.

Read the whole thing.

Interview with R.C. Sproul on His Latest Book – Part 2

Reformation Trust has recently released a revised and expanded version of R.C. Sproul’s Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life. Dr. Sproul was kind enough to respond to a few questions about this book. I submitted them via e-mail and Mr. John Duncan presented them verbally to Dr. Sproul.
I posted part 1 of our exchange last week. Part 2 appears below.
QUESTION: How can Christians prepare to die, and in what ways are we most often neglectful in this regard?
SPROUL: We prepare to die by looking to the promises of God for our future rest and our entrance into glory. We have to keep our eyes on heaven and the reward that has been laid up before us. If we don’t, the interruption of our earthly pilgrimage will throw us for a loop, and we’ll be caught unprepared and unawares. We are to keep our minds on heaven, immersing ourselves in the Word of God and focusing our mind on what lays ahead for us. We’re to forget those things that are behind and look ahead, pressing towards the mark, which is the high calling that we have in Christ.
QUESTION: Why do you think Christians are so afraid to think about that? We do sort of ignore the reality.
SPROUL: I think it is human nature to be afraid of death. Shakespeare said it well in Hamlet. We’d rather bear with those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of, and thus conscience does make cowards of us all. It’s a place we’ve never been before, and so it’s somewhat frightening.
QUESTION: What year was your mild stroke that you had?
SPROUL: It was six years ago.
QUESTION: Did that shape or reshape your thinking about death at all?
SPROUL: No. What the stroke did was that it left me some ongoing issues with vertigo, and with an eye weakness, but the biggest problem was the loss of 65% of my brain energy. It didn’t affect my cogitative thinking or my memory, but just the energy. So that if I concentrate for any period of time, I have to take a nap and get my batteries re-charged. But as far as my mortality is concerned, I was already completely aware that I was mortal, and it didn’t frighten me.
QUESTION: In Philippians 1:21 and 22, Paul says that he was hard pressed between a continued fruitful labor in the flesh and desiring to depart and be with Christ. How should Christians, particularly those who are infirm or frail due to age or illness, balance this tension between God-honoring longing and opportunities here in this life.
SPROUL: When my mentor, John Gerstner, was in his seventies, he expressed to me an intensification of his desire to serve Christ in whatever time he had left. Even though he looked forward to entering into his heavenly bliss, he felt pressed at the end of his life to double his efforts in the service of Christ. That puzzled me at the time, and yet I have found the same kind of thoughts coming into my mind. We started our church, Saint Andrew’s, 12 years ago, and I wish it would have been 40 years ago, because I know that I don’t have that many more years ahead. I want to make sure that I can do as much as I possibly can for the kingdom in the days ahead. At the same time, I’ve had those feelings Paul expresses of being torn between two things – the desire to depart and be with Christ. I mean that’s a tremendous, tremendous thing to look forward to. Then there are times when I really get tired and have had enough of the conflict that goes with the ministry, so there’s my ambivalence there.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on Christians and retirement?
SPROUL: I don’t think about retirement a lot in terms of the ethical implications of it. I know that we have been created to work, and that work in and of itself is not a curse. It’s a blessing. The curse, that is added to labor as a result of the fall, is the curse that makes our toil difficult with the sweat and the thorns and the thistles that struggle against us. But in an ultimate sense, in creation, work is a blessing whereby we are able to mirror and reflect the character of God because God is a working God. God rests, but He never retires. I’ve always thought, particularly in the ministry, that as long as I have strength and health to continue to be productive, that it’s not a question of “ought to” for me, it’s a question of “want to.” I mean, I want to keep involved. I’ve often said that I’ll retire when they pry my cold, dead fingers off of my Bible. But of course, health may change that. But in any case, I don’t look askance at people who do retire.
My sincere thanks to Dr. Sproul for making himself available for this interview. To read part 1 of our exchange, go here.

“I Have a Dream” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Here is the full audio and text of what is widely regarded as one of the greatest speeches of the twentieth century. If you’ve never heard or read it, I encourage you to do so. The content and delivery are equally masterful, full of active verbs and vivid images. Note the string of metaphors, powerfully engaging the listener.

The Full Text:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Update From Matt Chandler

HT: Z via JT

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