Friday, June 23, 2006

Terror, Resolutions and God's Right

None of these subjects are related, so if you've been touched with a bit of ADD, then this post should be right up your alley...

I looked into the face of terror on Thursday. I was watching the US National team's final dismal performance in the World Cup and preparing my daughter's lunch. Emeline is a big fan of blueberries, strawberries and grapes. As I handed her a plate full of grapes I was struck with a sense of dread. I can't explain it. It's the same feeling I had momentarily before watching one of my 14 year-old student's get clothes-lined off of his four-wheeler by a barbed-wire fence several weeks ago. I had this strange feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong. I watched Emeline put a grape into her mouth and stayed there long enough to make sure that she began to chew. She started to chew, so I stepped into the kitchen for a brief moment and then I heard her groan and then begin to gurgle. It was a sickening sound and fear began to rise in the pit of my bowels immediately. She was choking. She was still making some sounds so I knew her airway wasn't completly blocked. I tried to turn her over and do what you are supposed to do to babies if they are choking but she was resisting me (Emily later told me that toddlers get the Heimlech manuever). I turned her back over and she had the most haunting look of distress I have ever seen in the face of another human. I flipped her on her stomach again and forcefully patted her on the back several more times, as her arms flayed in panic. Finally the grape came out and she began to cry. I did too. As I held her she said, "Daddy, I don't want anymore grapes." All I could think about was God's mercy. Suddenly the premature departure of the US World Cup team from the tournament didn't seem so important. I spent a bulk of the day declaring this truth in my heart: "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Psalm 103:8).

What is it about Southern Baptists are our resolutions? It's not that I'm against resolutions, but why don't we resolve, as a convention, to be against or for things that are significant and pertinent to our culture and the plight of sinners? Yes, I'm angered by the resolution by the SBC against alcohol. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not angered because I like to partake alcohol on a regular basis. I do not. I'm angered because this resolution isn't biblical. I know all the arguments and I also know about the evils of the abuse of alcohol. Spare me. I know what Scripture says about the stronger and weaker brother. I know what Scritpure teaches us about Christian liberty. I know that there are well-meaning, godly believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who believe that the consumption of alcohol is a sin in spite of the fact that there is not one shred of biblical evidence to support this claim. My frustration is not with the argument for or against alcohol use or whether or not true believers in the Lord Jesus should or should not abstain. My frustration is that this resolution passed, though not without debate, while another resolution, the one regarding church membership, was tabled, assumingly for political reasons. If you ask me, the casual consumption of alcohol by confessing believers is of less importance than the impact that meaningless membership is having in crippling our churches effectiveness in the culture. How are we, as Southern Baptists, dealing with the reality that thousands of Southern Baptist church members likely have a false assurance of salvation based solely on their church membership and our neglect to disciple and discipline in the way that we are called to by Scripture? The names of thousands of people litter our church rolls who rarely if ever attend the churches where they are members, and we have no strategy or response as a collective body of believers as to how to engage them for the purpose of saving their souls, as such people are living in direct disobedience to an explicit command of Scripture (Heb 10:25), whereas those believers who choose to drink a Guinness on occasion are not in direct violation of a clear command of Scripture. Isn't something wrong here?

Finally, as I read through the book of Isaiah during my morning devotions I'm astounded at how explicit it is that God is right to do whatever pleases him. I am equally amazed at the arrogance of men to question the Creator's privilege to do as He pleases with His creation. As God raises up Assyria as an instrument of jugdment, He does so knowing full well that He will also condemn Assyria for their willing actions of destruction, even though they were also an instrument of God's judgment. The King of Assyria boasts of his conquest of God's people (Isaiah 10:12-14), and in his arrogance God will bring Him low.

"Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the LORD God of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destory, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down" (Isaiah 10:15-19).

God has the right, as we learn in Romans 9, to do with His creation as He pleases because what He has created belongs to Him. May we never be guilty of presuming upon God's rights over our lives to act in any way that He pleases. We, like the King of Assyria, are so quick to boast in our accomplishments, our gain, and fail to recognize that all that we have and are is a gift from God.


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