Today my brother is celebrating his 55th birthday. As part of that celebration I wanted to share some thoughts about my “little brother.”
Robert and I are only 18 months apart in age. While we were growing up that resulted in intense competition about everything. There were many basketball games that ended in anger over our competition. In high school we played for the same soccer and basketball teams at the same time. During practices the Landis’ brothers were highly competitive – with each other!
As we got older it became apparent that we were very different. Robert is really good with his hands and turned to carpentry and construction. My wife can attest that my hands seldom accomplish what my brain desires. She wishes I had some of Robert’s gifts.
Courtesy of Flickr
Over the last couple of months those committed to a biblical worldview have been greatly distressed. First, there was the Supreme Court decision making same sex marriage legal in all states. Then, more recently, were several videotapes of representatives of Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs. Both of these events raised questions of where our country is headed and how Christians ought to respond. Below are some biblical points to help us as we seek to live faithfully in a post-Christian culture.
We should not be surprised when unbelievers act like unbelievers. According to the Scriptures, unbelievers are living in rebellion against God and His Word. They have rejected the Lord and His
Word as their standard. Romans 1 teaches us that God’s response to this has been to give unbelievers over to the consequences of their rebellion. Therefore, we should not be shocked and surprised when unbelievers think and act like unbelievers. We should be pleasantly surprised and thankful that unbelievers do not more consistently live out their rebellion.
Today Pope Francis will issue an encyclical that will focus on the environment. There will be outcries from some who are opposed to his environmental views. But there will also be negative cries about the Pope getting involved in politics. My response is, “Why not?”
I am not defending the Pope’s positions on the environment. He and I probably disagree on some key areas. But I am defending his speaking out on the issue. I believe that those who want the church to be silent on issues other than religion have mistaken notions about the church and Scripture.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit my Aunt Anne in Minneapolis. I knew that this would be my last visit with her. She was dying and was in hospice. Thankfully she was very alert and we had four wonderful days together that I will never forget.
Psalm 78 is a story in the form of a song that covers redemptive history up to the time of David. Asaph wrote the psalm in order to convey to future generations the great work the Lord had done for his people. History was not written down then as much as it was passed on orally from generation to generation. Around fires and tables families told stories so that new generations would know.
There are many Christians who assume that if they obey God, He is obligated to bless them. This comes up in different forms:
- God owes me this promotion because I have been tithing
- God must save my son. I have been faithful in praying for him.
- God ought to heal Aunt Mary in light of her many years of serving Him.
We are not always so crude, but the thoughts are often there.
But Scripture gives us another answer. In fact, Scripture makes it clear that obedience will sometimes be costly.
I have been in mourning for the last two months. My mother unexpectedly died at the end of August. As I look back on the last two months there have been some things that have stood out. I mention these in hopes they will help you minister to others in the midst of their grief.
The pain lessens over time but the void never goes away
It is true that as time goes on the tears flow less often and the stabbing pain is less intense. However, the void does not go away. I feel the void most vividly at the end of my workday. I would often call my mother on my way home from the office. There are still days I am ready to call and talk about the day and remember that I can’t. Don’t assume when someone quits crying that they are over their loss. The void continues.
I had the opportunity to watch the Medal of Honor ceremony today in which Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts was awarded our nation’s highest military honor. Sgt. Pitts received the honor for valor beyond the call of duty in Afghanistan. For over an hour he was alone holding off the enemy. All the rest of his squad was either wounded or dead. Despite losing blood from wounds in both legs and an arm, he continued to fire at about 200 Taliban fighters and guided air strikes that helped repel the attack.
Sgt. Pitts is the 3,470th recipient of the Medal of Honor since its inception in 1861. This is a small company of the extraordinary among the millions who have served in the United States military.
It got me thinking. Who would be the Medal of Honor recipients if there was such an honor in the Christian church?