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CONFRONTING RACISM IN AMERICA

The horrific image is seared into our national conscience – a black man dying under the knee of a white police officer. Legitimate protests in cities around our country have, sadly at times, devolved into chaos and mayhem, threatening to obscure the original crime. As pastors, we should use our prophetic voices to speak out against racism just as we often speak out against other moral issues facing our nation. I have watched, read, and listened, seeking to hear with my heart and not just my head. I am but one little voice in a sea of sound reminding us all of important biblical truths during this time of upheaval. My heart goes out to African Americans who too often suffer the wrongs done to them under the authority of government.

“Let love be without hypocrisy; abhorring what is evil, clinging to what is good” (Romans 12:9).


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LUKE 24:27 AND THE CHRIST HERMENEUTIC

Christ in the Old Testament is a hot button topic among preachers today. I recently read Gregory Beale’s article, “Finding Christ in the Old Testament” (JETS, March 2020). He argues that we should find Christ in every verse of the Old Testament. Others, like Graeme Goldsworthy and Albert Mohler, make the same assertion based on Luke 24:27.

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He (Christ) explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

Mohler wrote: “Every single text of Scripture points to Christ. … From Moses to the Prophets, He is the focus of every single word of the Bible” (He is Not Silent, 96). Many advocate, with Mohler, that we must not only preach Christ from the Old Testament, but we must apply a Christ hermeneutic to every verse in the Old Testament. In this view, Christ requires us to interpret every verse as pointing to Himself.


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C-19: GOD’S GLOBAL SHAKING

COVID-19 wreaks havoc around the globe, turning life as we know it on its head. Pain, suffering, and death fill our news each day with the devastation of the virus. We just celebrated an Easter weekend like none we have ever experienced! God is shaking our world. He did not cause the virus. Disease, war, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other calamities are the result of natural causes in a fallen world. When God pulls back his restraining hand, we experience the natural consequences of a sin-dominated world. However, God uses those natural results to shake the world like a virus filled snow globe.

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CHURCH IN A PANDEMIC: Testing God or Trusting God?

“It’s not a concern. The virus we believe is politically motivated,” Pastor Tony Spell proclaimed. We hold our religious rights dear, and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.” The Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has continued to meet in defiance of orders from the governor prohibiting large gatherings. Over 1,000 people gathered for worship, trusting God to protect them from danger and heal their diseases. To Pastor Spell, it is a matter of faith.

Mark Palenske is no Tony Spell. He is the pastor at First Assembly of God church in Greers Ferry, Arkansas. The church assumed they were safe given their rural location and no government orders prohibiting them from meeting even though the authorities urged people to practice social distancing. They held a children’s ministry event at their church. Since then, 34 people who attended the event have contracted Covid-19, including the pastor and his wife. Bill Barton, a 91-year-old greeter at the church, died from the virus. Pastor Palenske writes, “Please adhere to the social instructions that you are receiving locally and nationally.”

One pastor made headlines. One pastor has regrets.


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OUT OF EGYPT: A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION

At this time of year, Santa Claus is a great moral monitor, keeping children in line so they can get what they want for Christmas. Parents use the selfish desires of children to control their sinful desires. A useful exercise, perhaps, but it misses the point of Christmas entirely. The naughty and nice theme obscures the true meaning of Christmas. God is not up in heaven waiting to reward our good deeds and punish our bad deeds. We are all naughty. None of us are nice in God’s estimation. Christmas is about God intervening in a world gone rotten so that He can redeem that world from its rot. Christmas is the ultimate rescue event of all human history. The world of humans is not pretty and pleasant. It is dark and despotic. God enters the heart of evil to rescue humans from evil at Christmas.


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