Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rec Sports Pics

Kids finished Flushing Rec Center street hockey and basketball with tournaments.  Played a bit with Chris Kotsopoulos.  Junior Nicks and Junior Rangers.


New Yorkers are not known for their kindness.  Ok, we have a reputation for the opposite.  And, I’ll be honest, I’ve experienced that negative reputation when a stop light turns green, or when thinking in line at a Deli counter (don’t think, order!).  

But I’ve experienced the opposite too.  New Yorkers are regularly exhibit random acts of kindness.  I’ve seen people chase someone down to return something that another person dropped.  I’ve seen multitudes of people give money to complete strangers who are begging on the sidewalk or subway.  I regularly see people offer their seat to others on the subway.  Often, I observe strangers helping strangers up the stairway with their luggage or baby strollers.  

These random acts of kindness don’t get our attention because of the random acts of rudeness that   If one person is rude, two are kind, and seven are ambivalent, which do we remember?  The one rude person is the most memorable and moves the rude reputation forward.
Random Acts of Rudeness Stink
others exhibit.

What if we were always kind?  What if all that you did was considered an act of kindness?  What if your family members only acted kindly toward one another?  What if your church was known for its consistent kindness?  What if each action of every member was entirely and always kind?  That would be quite a draw for our society and a great greenhouse for the disciple making!  

It would also reflect the character of God.  Psalm 145 tells us that every act of God is an act of   So, when we are kind in our speech, when we are considerate in our manners and all our actions toward those who are our friends and toward those who are “enemies”, we are exhibiting the character of our God who is kind in all His deeds.  Jesus taught the same concept in the Sermon on the Mount:
kindness, “The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds” (v. 17).

"You have heard that it was said, 'you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45 italics mine).

One incentive toward this type of living is that the word comes up in another context in 2 Samuel 22:26 where David sings a Song of deliverance from Saul: "With the kind You show Yourself kind.”  Not only is God kind, but Scripture tells us that God will show kindness to those who are kind. 

When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness?  Let me encourage you to perform one today.  And, better yet, let me encourage you, through Christ’s power living through you, to conform to God’s standard - that all your actions would be acts of kindness.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Lloyd Jones and Billy Graham – Association or Separation

I just finished Ian Murray’s biography on Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones.  His ministry is an inspiration to me.  I love the simple consistency he exhibited and his reliance upon God ordained methods to accomplish God’s purposes.

One area I find Lloyd Jones exhibited great wisdom was how he graciously resisted the overwhelming tide of the ecumenism of his day.

Dr. Lloyd Jones believed that the ends should not justify the means.  In the 1950’s, ecumenism in England was championed by most Evangelical leaders.  Leaders like J I Packer believed that they were to gain greater respect by association with and dialog within theologically liberal associations.  The hope was to heal the cancerous body from within by being a healthy cell.  His end goal – a more respected evangelical voice. His means – accommodation with theological error.

Most conservative evangelicals[1] today side with Lloyd Jones against Packer.  Association with those who deny fundamental truths of Scripture is wrong, no matter what we gain from it.  After all, Jude pleads to “earnestly contend for the faith.”[2]  Accommodation with those who deny fundamental tenets of Scripture is far from contention for the faith.  Paul’s repeated warnings against false teachers is clearly an “unaccommodating” tone.  “Let them be accursed.”  “I wish they were mutilated.”[3]  This fierce tone does not just come from Jude and Paul, it is Jesus’ tone with the Pharisees as well.[4] This is God’s tone with all theological error, because theological error is spiritually lethal.  The spiritual harm done through false teaching is not something that we may opt to take lightly.  It breeds eternal consequences, and kindness toward these ministries is unloving.  We must recognize that Satan is behind false teaching that distorts Christ’s Gospel.  Paul warns Timothy of “doctrines of demons.”[5]  A Pastors’ charge then is never to accommodate or associate but to repudiate and separate.  Paul warns the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20 of the fierce wolves that were to come to ravage the flock.  Doctrine that does not adhere to the apostles teaching is wrong.  It harms people eternally so it must be resisted faithfully and vehemently.

Then what about those Evangelical leaders who do take the rout of accommodation?  What should we do when someone is very clear on the fundamental truths of Scripture themselves, but celebrates a ministry that is built upon this principle of accommodation? 

Consider Lloyd Jones’ response to Billy Graham’s ministry in Europe.  In the 1950’s Billy Graham took a definite shift from separation to accommodation and cooperation with those who do not hold the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  He did this to preach the Gospel to a much larger audience.  His cooperation worked in one sense; he gained a much larger audience to share the Gospel.  However, to do so, he had to associate and even promote ministries, denominations and church leaders that were undermining this very Gospel.  He too chose the ends over means.  And it added to the large push toward ecumenism.  Instead of a healthy front against theological error, there was a smile, nod, shake hands and appear unified with theological error.  It was devastating.  And Lloyd Jones saw through it.

When Graham asked Lloyd Jones to be the chairman for the upcoming World Counsel of Evangelism and they met face to face to talk about it.  Lloyd Jones gave Graham this response:

“I said I’d make a bargain:  if he would stop the general sponsorship of his campaigns – stop having liberals and Roman Catholics on the platform – and drop the invitation system, I would whole heartedly support him and chair the Congress.  We talked for about three hours, but he didn’t accept these conditions.”[6]

Although Graham continued in his accommodation approach, even more emphatically so, Lloyd Jones continued the gentle biblical approach.  In his day, he received much opposition for this, but I believe History justifies his concern.

“What is the value of evangelicals affirming a statement of faith if they see no harm in making common cause with those who teach the opposite?”[7]

[1] I’m sickened by the growing number of “evangelicals” who do not hold to the fundamental principles of the evangel.  They do not insist on the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus or salvation by grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone.  They do not affirm sola scriptura.  
[2] Jude 1:3
[3] Galatians 1:8; 5:12
[4] Matthew 23
[5] 1 Timothy 4:1
[6] The Life of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones by Ian Murray Banner of Truth Trust, 2013. Page 371.
[7] Ibid 372