Monday, March 9, 2009

A Different Perspective on the Recession

How do we understand what we are going through? In these times when all of the worldly securities are seemingly so insecure (like jobs, houses, retirement funds, etc.), how are we as believers to understand what God may be doing in the bigger picture? For there is war, genocide, poverty, terrorism, financial chaos, the destruction of families, along with many other areas of crisis that have caused many to panic, fear, and fall into despair.

But for Christians who trust in the sovereignty of God, and who have placed their lives and trust in God alone for their salvation, identity, purpose, and security, this recession serves as a means for our faith to be strengthened and a longing for our true home to be on the forefront of our minds. It also provides us with an opportunity for our values to be tested, our eyes to be opened, and growth in areas we may never have thought about before.

In a recent sermon entitled, “What is the Recession For?,” Dr. John Piper, Pastor/Teacher at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sets forth five purposes that God may have for us during this time of recession. I think they are rather insightful and present a well thought out biblical worldview on the issues of suffering, trials, and money. Piper says that some of God’s purposes might be that:

1) He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
2) He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
3) He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
4) He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
5) He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

Surely these are not exhaustive or comprehensive in nature, which Piper admits, but they are very “right on the money” if you will pardon the pun. There are two sides to every trial – there is the natural, worldly side where which is how we are often tempted to view it most, and then there is the other spiritual side where seeing things from God’s bird’s eye view gives us a whole new perspective. If we view this as a time when God is further sanctifying us while giving us a hunger for heaven, then our souls will find rest even when the world crumbles down around us. Remember, God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” - James 1:12, (NIV)

Friday, March 6, 2009

An Expected but Horrifying Reversal on Stem Cell Research

This coming Monday, Barak Obama, the President of the United States of America, is set to reverse a previous Executive Order issued by former President George W. Bush that prevented federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. This research involves the harvesting of human stem cells obtained from the destruction of live, viable human embryos. In other words, it allows the medical research community to receive funds (i.e. taxpayer money) from the Federal Government for the purpose of doing research on already conceived children whose lives will be terminated for the purpose of “scientific advancement.”

It is thought that embryonic stem cells hold great potential for developing replacement tissues that can potentially cure diseases and heal neurological disorders. And even though other forms of stem cells, mainly adult stem cells, have shown to have just as much promise as that of embryonic stem cells, researchers are calling the embryonic stems cells the “most flexible” of all cells. It is what they want most.

Yet they already have them. It has never been illegal to do this kind of “research” with private funds, and now we are taking it to the next level, using taxpayer money to fund it. So if you think about this a minute, what is happening is this. We are required by law to pay taxes, and the taxes we pay are being used to provide funding for the destruction of unborn children, all in the name of “science.” Scientists can now start applying for research grants from the National Institute of Health at any time after this.

Obama declared that he would “ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight." But for those of us who come from a biblical worldview, where we believe that life begins at conception, any research of this type that destroys viable embryos has already crossed the line of moral and ethical responsibility. It results in death, death of children who have received a soul from God the moment the sperm and the egg merged and conceived a human life. This is most grievous.

One has to imagine how long the Lord will put up with the blatant immorality that we have fallen into. I still believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, and if called upon would give my life to defend it as many before me have done and are doing now, but ever since the Roe v. Wade decision of the early 70’s, there have been almost 50 million innocent children that have been destroyed in the womb by abortion. And now we are doing it in the lab under the auspices of research. If I’m not mistaken the Nazi’s did the same thing in World War 2, using people for experiments. The only difference is the stage of development of the person being sacrificed. The soul is there. King David ascribed personhood to conception (Psalm 51:5). And further, even if these stem cells taken from the destroyed embryos show signs of “promise,” the end does not justify the means.

The ancient Proverb reads, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Prov. 28:19a). Certainly there is no underlying conviction wrought by God’s revelation (God’s Word) that is being considered, understood or regarded here, and therefore the secular world has no reason to practice ethical restraint on this. There is no conviction about it whatsoever. None of this should surprise us, because it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction, repentance, and faith, and even the illumination necessary to discern the truths of Scripture, that which is right and wrong.

It is our duty as Christians to hold fast to the sanctity of human life, both at the beginning of life as well as the end. We should oppose any and all legislation or executive orders that disregard the sacredness of human life, at any level. Therefore we should pray that our President may somehow change his mind on this, though I think it is unlikely that he will.

This blog is not so much about politics, rather it is about Christians speaking out about issues of morality, what is right and wrong. We have a duty as Christians to speak out against wickedness wherever we see it and to call all those who will listen to repentance from sin and faith towards God (in keeping with our Great Commission). Further, we have an obligation to pray against unrighteous actions, that the Lord himself will “deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). Yet we should not be surprised if things get worse for those who hold to biblical principles, because the world system is continually and gradually being set up and primed for the return of Christ. And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind it if the Lord came back right now, even before this order reversal takes place on Monday.