Current Events

Racism and the Imago Dei

The main reason God loathes racism comes from the early chapters of the Bible.

On the 6th day of creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Theologians have wrestled with the imago dei (“our image”) for centuries and I am certainly not going to answer all of your questions in this blog post, but let me, instead, give you a brief understanding.

The word for “image” means “to carve or to cut off.” Genesis 1:26 means man was carved from God. He was shaped and formed – in a way – like God. That means that we are created from a heavenly pattern. That means we are created on a heavenly pattern which is not true of anything else that was created, nothing else in the time-space universe. No animal was made in God’s image. No mountain was made in God’s image. No star or black hole was made in God’s image.

Man was created in a special way. He is the only one or thing made after God in some fashion. He bears the stamp of God’s likeness. You might say the pattern for personhood was God. Like God, man has reason, intellect, will and emotion.

Image result for different races children

To “be racist” is to behave in such a way that supposes that you are made in the image of God in a way that others are not. It is a selfish distortion of the imago dei. You could say that to “be racist” is to seek to undermine the stamp of God’s image that is upon all of us.

This is also, by the way, the reason that murder is forbidden in the Scripture – “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

John Calvin tell us, “Now if we do not wish to violate the image of God, we ought to hold our neighbors sacred. And if we do not wish to renounce all humanity, we ought to cherish him as our flesh.”

Love your neighbor as your self – as your own flesh. Love the one of different heritage and different language and different color from you, for you were BOTH made in God’s image.

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William Powers, On Digital Busyness

Image result for william powers hamlet's blackberry“The cursor never rests in one place for long, and neither does the mind. We’re always clicking here, there, and everywhere. Thus, although we think of our screens as productivity tools, they actually undermine the serial focus that’s the essence of true productivity. And the faster and more intense our connectedness becomes, the further we move away from that ideal. Digital busyness is the enemy of depth.” (William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry)

A Shooter in Las Vegas Shows Us What We Need

Horrific. Gruesome. Dark.

Those are the words that came to mind yesterday morning when I woke up, turned on my PC and began reading the news alerts coming out of Las Vegas, NV.

At first it was dozens killed and a couple hundred hurt. As I am typing this post on Monday night about 6:00pm, there are 59 dead (not including the shooter) and over 500 injured.

One man armed with an evil heart disrupted thousands of lives.

Cue the questions, “Who is to blame? What is to blame?”

The media is going to offer up all the wrong answers.

  • Some will say we need more gun control and if we had limitations on the types of firearms this man owned or possessed that we wouldn’t have these mass shootings.
  • Some will blame psychiatrists that are often prescribing anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications to these individuals.
  • Some will blame bullies or mean parents from the shooter’s childhood.
  • Some will blame President Trump for his edgy demeanor and provocative language he uses that many believe have given this country greater disunity.

The media will ask good questions but they will give all the wrong answers. And the media will never get to the central solution that addresses this form of evil we have witnessed today.

To simplify, the only way that an evil heart can be stopped from committing such terrible acts is not more laws or medicines. The antidote to this kind of evil is the Gospel.

Jesus died to save these kinds of men from these kinds of evil. Plain and simple.

Jesus has saved slave traders, murderers, drug addicts, thieves, atheists, and prostitutes. The Bible says that Jesus came not to save those who are healthy but those who are sick (Mark 2:17). This shooter is exactly the kind of individual Jesus came to save. Unfortunately, it does not seem that this shooter ever saw his need for a Savior and he died in his sins.

The Gospel message is a message that says Jesus has come to offer to exchange that which is worthless (an evil heart) for that which is valuable (a righteous heart).

But here is the catch: it is not our righteous heart. It is Jesus’ righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21).

We can’t save ourselves. No shooter can atone for his own sins; only Jesus can do that.

Willian Arnot, a Scottish pastor in the 1800’s said that

“the difference between and unconverted and a converted man, is not that one has sins and the other has none. But the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded god and the other takes part with his reconciled God against his hated sin( Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, pg. 311).

This shooter cherished his sin so much that he wanted to spread his maliciousness upon the lives of others; the genuine Christian knows he is capable of the same evil (Psalm 14), but because He has trusted in Christ as His Lord and Savior, his sin no longer enslaves him (Romans 6:20). This shooter was simply acting out his evil, heart that was in bondage to sin.

What Las Vegans and the tourists that experienced this attack need right now is the hope that

only the Gospel brings.

Let’s pray for the churches in Las Vegas that love the Gospel and want their mission field to be changed by its promises. Pray that the Christians in Las Vegas would rise up to be vessels of healing, ministers of hope and friends to their fellow man.

II Corinthians 1:3

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Hurricane Harvey and How You Can Help

One major difference between the flooding in Houston and the Great Flood that took place in Noah’s day centers around the word “rescue.”
As of this morning, thousands have been rescued from the flooded waters in and around Houston. Some were trapped in their homes; others in their cars; others swimming or floating around the city; others on the roof of a building. But people are being rescued, and the videos and stories being told of these rescues are of great encouragement for those of us watching this from a distance. 
In Noah’s day, other than his family on the ark, no one was rescued. Noah did not paddle his boat around looking for survivors, because there were no survivors. God’s judgment was thorough on that wicked world.

When I ponder this difference between Noah’s flood and the flood in SE Texas, it compels me to exhort you to think of how you can participate in the ministry of rescuing those that are suffering in SE Texas.

If you know Christ, you have been rescued from sin and you know from first-hand experience what it feels like for someone to save you from a precarious and eternally life-threatening condition. We have an opportunity to do something Noah couldn’t – rescue victims from the flood.

Here are 3 ways you can participate in rescuing others.

  1. Rescue by praying. Since prayer works (James 5:19) and it is a means of calling upon our Omnipotent Creator who is sovereign and controls the weather and is not limited and loves to save others, why wouldn’t we pray? Most of us cannot travel to Texas but all of us can pray. Pray that God would strengthen the boaters looking for survivors. Pray that God would lead and direct people to safety. Pray that the churches in the Houston area would give their money, resources, and people to further the cause of the Gospel by rescuing as many as they can. Pray regularly for the people of SE Texas (I Thessalonians 5:17). 
  2. Rescue by giving. Many people will ask, “What can I give?” And the answer is, “It depends on who you ask.” Some organizations will ask for money. Others will ask for more tangible items like food, diapers, water bottles, clothes, shoes, etc. And unfortunately, there are enough thieves in our world to see these disasters as opportunities to take advantage of others. Let me recommend one trustworthy organization you can give towards – Bridgepoint Bible Church. The Lead Pastor of this church is David Gundersen – my brother-in-law. 100% of what is given to their relief effort will be used to help members of their congregation who have lost their homes and others in their community who need help with restoring their lives. Go to this link to learn more. If you are a user of Facebook, you can view some of the videos he and others have posted in and around their church, which currently has about 3.5 feet of water in it. 
  3. Rescue by going. I have heard several people in Wichita tell me they want to travel down to the area and just “lend a hand.” To that I say a hearty, “Amen.” If I had the time and ability, this would be my choice. Some of you have “time on your hands.” Some of you have financial resources to make a trip and spend a few days or week assisting the Red Cross or other local churches. If you can, go. 

In short, decide how you will participate in the ministry of rescue, and do it well (Colossians 3:23).

Some Resources to Help You Think Through the Events in Charlottesville, VA

Image result for charlottesvilleDisturbed. Saddened. Outraged. These words describe most of our thoughts about the racist uprising in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend.

The elevating of one man’s race over another is an affront of the very design of man – that we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). It also offends the very group of people Jesus died for – all peoples of all nations (Galatians 3:28; Revelation 5). It also is murder (Matthew 5:21-26; I John 3:15).

Most Christians I know of believe racism is a sin, but many of us don’t know how to think through events like we have seen in our country in recent years in regards to the sin of racism.

Below are 4 articles I have read the last few days that have helped me deal with the issues in my heart and reminded me of my role as a spokesman of God for all peoples.

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God” by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)

The FAQS: Violence and Death at a White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville” by Joe Carter (The Gospel Coalition)

Letters from Berlin: The Lessons of History and the Heresy of Racial Superiority” by Albert Mohler

My Sunday Morning Comments About Charlottesville” by David Gundersen