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Planned Parenthood and America’s Two Moralities

“The depravity of these tactics and the invasion — the willingness of this group to invade the most personal, private space and to violate the medical relationships — I’ve never seen anything as low.” Those were the words of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards this week as she condemned the Center for Medical Progress for its undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood for trafficking in dead baby body parts. Richard’s moral outrage and the inverted moral system it reveals is astonishing. “Depravity” applies not to her organization for trafficking in baby body parts, but to the organization that exposed it. The “most personal, private space” refers to restaurants and business offices where Planned Parenthood negotiated baby body part prices. “Medical relationships” refers to...

Planned Parenthood and America’s Two Moralities
posted on: Aug 5, 2015 | author: Alan Burrow

What you need to know about the bill to defund Planned Parenthood

It really should be called the Women’s Affordable Healthcare Act, for all it does is shift the yearly half-billion dollars of taxpayers’ money from the 700 abortion-focused, largely urban Planned Parenthood facilities to the 9,100 rural and urban Community Health Centers which provide across-the-board medical care to poor patients regardless of age, gender, or medical issue, including dental care, immunizations, STD testing and treatment, pre- and post-partum pregnancy care, behavioral-health care, and pediatric care. Planned Parenthood, despite its deceptive claims, typically refers women to other providers for non-abortion procedures such as mammograms, STD treatment, etc. Where does Planned Parenthood refer these women? To the Community Health Centers.  The bill is very short, and you can read it here. You can...

What you need to know about the bill to defund Planned Parenthood
posted on: Aug 3, 2015 | author: Alan Burrow

Understanding the Christian view of marriage

From the Christian perspective, human marriage and sexuality are bound up with man, male and female, being made in the image of God—that is, created as the sons and daughters of God, made uniquely to commune with Him, to reflect His character, and to enter into His work, life, and glory (Gen 1.26-28; Psalm 8.3-9; Mat 5.45, 48; John 17.20-23; 2Cor 3.18; Eph 3.19; 4.13; Col 3.10; 2Pet 1.3). Thus when we look deeply into any aspect of marriage or sexuality or indeed of creation itself, we see that the fundamental purpose is never necessity, but opportunity—opportunity to share in God’s work, life, and glory while ever growing to reflect His character and to enjoy His communion (ibid.)....

Understanding the Christian view of marriage
posted on: Jun 26, 2015 | author: Alan Burrow

Gospel essentials vs a full statement of the gospel

In one sense, it is fair to speak of the gospel as those crucial truths we would relate to an unbeliever if we had only an hour to speak with them. But in another sense, the gospel must be spoken of as the entire corpus Paul relates in the book of Romans. These are both the gospel, but the first is what we might call “gospel essentials,” where as the latter is a full statement of the gospel. We see Paul using both of these in his own ministry. Paul preaches gospel essentials to the Athenians (Acts 17.24-31). Paul preaches a full statement of the gospel to the Roman Christians (Rom 1.15, et seq.). The critical difference between the two...

Gospel essentials vs a full statement of the gospel
posted on: May 12, 2015 | author: Alan Burrow

Follow your inkstincts, Brad.

Brad Pitt: I don’t want my daughters to get tattoos. Follow your inkstincts, Brad. The issue is not the graffiti, but the building you’re putting it on. If the building is a temple, maybe the graffiti doesn’t go there (1 Cor 6.19). Share and...

Follow your inkstincts, Brad.
posted on: Dec 11, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Joy to the World

“Joy to the World” is Isaac Watts’ imitation (as he called it) of Psalm 98. By imitation, Watts meant that he was presenting the psalm through the lens of its fulfillment in Christ. Psalm 98 is the central psalm of the 4th Book of psalms, and it concerns Christ’s kingdom and its glorious effect upon the world. In keeping with the evangelical theology of the day (and contrary to ours), Watts marked the great D-Day of history–the day when Christ began his reign over the world–in conjunction with his ascension rather than his return. Thus Watts has us sing, “Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns!” and “He rules the world with truth and grace.” The central gospel...

Joy to the World
posted on: Dec 3, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

The First Step in Finding God’s Will

If you aren’t primarily interested in doing God’s will, you can be assured you will never find it. It is a universal truth that people have a hard time finding what they don’t want to find. Share and...

The First Step in Finding God’s Will
posted on: Nov 13, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

The Great Commission in Context

If there is any Bible text the evangelical church knows, other than John 3.16, it’s the great commission. But sometimes we can know something so well that we don’t know it. Sometimes we need to get to know the familiar again, as it were for the first time. If there is any Bible text the evangelical church needs to get to know again for the first time, it’s the great commission. We need to begin by considering the great commission not as a stand alone text, but as the conclusion of the story Matthew is telling in his gospel. The story Matthew tells us is that Jesus is true Israel, and at the same time Jesus is true...

The Great Commission in Context
posted on: Sep 9, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

What Courtship Is Really About

There has been quite a hubbub over courtship lately, engendered by Thomas Umstattd’s blog post, Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed. Douglas Wilson has responded here and here. I thought I would bring a different perspective to the topic by relating a phenomenon I have encountered as a pastor: A Christian in their 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s, loses their spouse of many years, with whom they have raised children to adulthood, who are now raising their own children. The widowed Christian finds themself lonely and falls into a whirlwind romance with a similarly aged member of the opposite sex. This sends their children into full panic mode, because the love train is barreling down the tracks, there are warning...

What Courtship Is Really About
posted on: Aug 22, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Sermon Notes: Matthew 1.18-23 – The Incarnation

Matthew 1.18-23. * Recap and intro. Matthew opens the New Testament by declaring that Jesus is a new Adam, who has made everything new (Mat 1.1; see Sermon Notes: Matthew 1.1-17). Then, Matthew seemingly takes away everything he just gave us. His genealogy is a carefully coded history of Israel, in which Matthew establishes the hopelessness of Israel and therefore of the human race (Mat 1.2-17). These two don’t go together. How can we have the former if the latter is true? This apparent contradiction, this impossible situation, is designed to prepare the audience for the Incarnation. It is the only answer to the hopeless situation described in the genealogy. It is the only way you can have...

Sermon Notes: Matthew 1.18-23 – The Incarnation
posted on: Mar 4, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Sermon Notes: 1 Cor 1.1-9 – A Letter for Our Times, a Letter for Us

Text: 1 Cor 1.1-9. * Why 1Corinthians?  The book of 1Corinthians is about what it means and what it takes to be Christ’s church, his people, in the midst of a powerful and pervasive culture operating on completely different values,  motivations, and goals – in short, a completely different faith.  I can’t think of a more appropriate book for us to consider at this time, for we find ourselves in a very similar situation. * Land of opportunity.  Like America, Corinth was considered a land of opportunity, a place which had no aristocracy to keep everyone in their proper station, a place where one had the chance to make a name for oneself, to attain to wealth, to...

Sermon Notes: 1 Cor 1.1-9 – A Letter for Our Times, a Letter for Us
posted on: Feb 19, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Sermon Notes — Matthew 1.1-17 — The Book of the Generations of Jesus Christ...

Matthew 1.1-17 * Intro — Matthew’s bombshell. Matthew opens his gospel with a genealogy, which would seem to be a rather boring way to open the NT.  But what seems boring to us was a bombshell to 1st century Jews.  They would immediately have recognized Matthew’s opening words, “The book of the genealogy,” or better “the book of the generations” (biblos genesios in the Greek), as an exact quote from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew OT. Not only a quote, but a very significant quote.  It appears only twice in the whole Septuagint – – once in Gen 2.4 where it refers to the “[book of the] generations of the heavens and the earth,” and...

Sermon Notes — Matthew 1.1-17 — The Book of the Generations of Jesus Christ
posted on: Feb 6, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Obamacare—it’s about control, stupid!

If you want to understand progressive politics, you need to read Noam Scheiber’s article, How Obamacare Actually Paves the Way Toward Single Payer. What’s great about the article is that it lets you be a fly on the wall during a strategy session concerning the biggest progressive weapon in over fifty years—Obamacare. It begins with progressive documentary-maker Michael Moore (let’s call him Darth Vader) chomping at the bit to obliterate the last vestiges of the Resistance, and ranting about how the Obamacare Death Star has turned out to be a water pistol—it hasn’t annihilated the Resistance, and what’s more, it doesn’t even hold water! Then comes Noam Scheiber, special apologist for the Emperor (and you know who the...

Obamacare—it’s about control, stupid!
posted on: Jan 21, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Grabbing the Duck by the Horns

From the time Jesus walked the earth, he has used controversy to force his disciples to grow up (Mat 16.13-15). He has required each generation to articulate and stand for his word in some new way and in the face of some new movement that is trying to suppress it. This is Jesus’ own way of bringing us to maturity. Christians, however, are typically controversy-averse, and none more than American Christians. The cultural gatekeepers have made it clear that Christians are to be seen and not heard, and Christians for the most part have been happy to oblige. But from time to time, Jesus brings things to a head, even though his disciples want to avoid it like...

Grabbing the Duck by the Horns
posted on: Jan 9, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

In Defense of Plain Speech

Phil Robertson was already well known as the patriarch of the popular Duck Dynasty clan, but after his interview with GQ, he will be forever remembered as the man who, with an exuberance and unaffectedness reminiscent of the Beverly Hillbillies, issued one of the great philosophical statements of our time: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus.  . . .  But hey, sin: It’s not logical.” In 1962, when the Beverly Hillbillies debuted, Robertson’s comment would have been taken as unintended satire—a statement of the obvious, humorous for its superfluity, made hilarious by its sincerity. But today, such humor is impossible. We have been culturally catechized and conditioned, 1984-style,...

In Defense of Plain Speech
posted on: Jan 2, 2014 | author: Alan Burrow

Rand Paul wants Chief Justice Roberts sitting at the Obamacare table.

There is a rough sense of justice that says that bad cooks ought to eat their own cooking. And with that, God agrees (Prov 1.31). The business of our nation’s capital has often been referred to as the making of sausage, which, being translated, means, “The making of public policy is complicated; you wouldn’t understand.” Perhaps not. But we do understand that a complicated recipe has nothing to do with who ought to eat it. So saddle up to the table and fill your plate, Cookie. That is what Senator Rand Paul is saying to Chief Justice Roberts, who looked over the recipe of Obamacare and proclaimed it good eatin’ for all of us. Paul is proposing a...

Rand Paul wants Chief Justice Roberts sitting at the Obamacare table.
posted on: Sep 23, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Genesis — The Book of Beginnings 2

Several years back, I preached a “Through the Bible” series consisting of one-shot sermons on the books of the Bible. I didn’t hit every book. I covered the Pentateuch plus enough of the other OT books to show the storyline. And in the NT, I only made it to the gospels of Matthew and Mark. This series of posts consists of the congregation outlines I supplied, broken down into bite-sized chunks, with some extra spices thrown in from time to time. If you are looking for the previous post, you can find it here. —Alan Burrow Ch 1-2: Creation — The Kingdom Begun — God’s Giving Love Ch 1: Broad Perspective The opening chapters of Genesis are written so simply...

Genesis — The Book of Beginnings 2
posted on: Sep 16, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

The heart of the crisis of our times.

“At the heart of the crisis of our times lies the cold belief of millions, avowed or unavowed, that the death of religious faith is seen in nothing so much as in the fact that it has lost its power to move anyone to die for it. I sensed that the deepest meaning . . . of my life for myself and for all other men, was the degree to which I could be so moved to act.”  -Whittaker Chambers. ____________________________ Witness, Regnery Books, 1952 (1985 printing), p. 700. Share and...

The heart of the crisis of our times.
posted on: Jul 22, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Jesus and the Rich, Young Ruler (Mat 19.16-26)

Here are my exegetical thoughts on the famous interchange between Jesus and the rich, young ruler. (Matthew points out that he was rich and young; Luke adds that he was a ruler (Mat 19.22; Luke 18.18).) The man seeks eternal life and assumes he must do good to receive it. (Mat 19.16.) This is not wrong on its face, as we often assume. We are saved by faith alone, yes, but Jesus, Paul, and Peter make it clear that the way God will tell who has faith is by their deeds. (Acts 10.34; Rom 2.6; Rev 2.23.) So it is entirely correct to say that we will be judged by our deeds, for our deeds will unerringly indicate who...

Jesus and the Rich, Young Ruler (Mat 19.16-26)
posted on: Jul 15, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Valuing What Is Most Valuable (Mat 19).

As we have seen, Mat 19 is about the characteristics of the new faith community Jesus is raising up within Israel. Now that we are reaching the end of the chapter, we can better see how the parts go together. The common thread with each of the topics—marriage, children, money, and the kingdom—is that the central question posed has to do with what kind of value do people place upon it? One way of summing up the new faith community is that its members have their values straight; they value most what is most valuable. The first part of the chapter establishes a high, biblical value for marriage and children, in contrast with the human tendency, even among...

Valuing What Is Most Valuable (Mat 19).
posted on: Jul 12, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

America has always been about freedom. But then, so has every tyrant. Has there been a tyrant in the history of the world who has not promised freedom? Has there been an oppressive government that has not conceived of itself as letting “justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”? (Amos 5.24.) Indeed, was it not freedom that Satan promised in the Garden? That a ruler or a government promises freedom means simply that they are what they claim to be—a ruler and a government. That people seek freedom means simply that they are what they claim to be—people. That freedom is good, and that the story of mankind ought to be the story of...

“Give me liberty or give me death.”
posted on: Jul 4, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

From one of the best books you’ve never read . . .

Witness by Whittaker Chambers: My son was about two years old when I carried him to the car where his five-year old sister was waiting for their mother to drive them out of those dangers that they had no inkling of toward a future that was blank to all of us. Two things made that break [from the Communist underground] and that flight [for our lives] possible. One was the devotion of my wife—devotion of a kind that asks only danger, trial and great hazard to prove its force. The other was a faith that, if I turned away from evil and sought good, I would not fail; but whether or not I failed, that was what I...

From one of the best books you’ve never read . . .
posted on: Jul 3, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

The characteristics of the new faith community—marriage and children. (Mat 19.1-15)...

In Matthew 19, Jesus moves out of Galilee into Judea toward Jerusalem. (Mat 19.1.) He is still beyond the Jordan and has a great throng following him, among whom he is manifesting God’s power. (Mat 19.2.) What this looked like to any Jew was a new entrance into the promised land, and that means that Jesus is bringing about a new exodus, a new deliverance. “New exodus” is not the way we typically think of the coming of the Messiah and the new covenant, but it is the way the Jews thought of it, for that is how God had often portrayed it in the prophets (see, e.g., Deut 29.24-30.6; Jer 23.5-8). These symbolic meanings would have been...

The characteristics of the new faith community—marriage and children. (Mat 19.1-15)
posted on: Jul 2, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Scalia nails it.

“Some might conclude that this loaf could have used awhile longer in the oven. But that would be wrong; it is already overcooked.” -Justice Antonin Scalia For those who have neither the time or inclination to make your way through today’s Supreme Court opinions (majority and three dissents), you can get inside scoop while being entertained if you just read Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent. I have included a condensed version of Scalia’s dissent below. If you are more enterprising and want to read more, here is the link to the Supreme Court’s opinions. Just click on United States v. Windsor. I especially recommend Scalia’s opinion to all of you word-smiths and connoisseurs of good writing. Scalia is one of the...

Scalia nails it.
posted on: Jun 26, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

What is Calvinism really about?

I recently began reading for the first time (shame!) Abraham Kuyper’s classic Lectures on Calvinism which he gave at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1898. One of the first things he points out is that Calvinism in its original form was about maintaining the personalness of God and his salvation: Calvinism . . . proclaims the exalted thought that, although standing in high majesty above the creature, God enters into immediate fellowship with the creature, as God the Holy Spirit. This is even the heart and kernel of the Calvinistic confession of predestination.  . . . [T]here is no grace but such as comes to us immediately from God. At every moment of our existence, our entire spiritual life...

What is Calvinism really about?
posted on: Jun 19, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Powerful! LA Senator Elbert Guillory speaks the truth.

This is powerful, both because it is true and because Guillory knows he is going to pay a price for saying it but said it anyway. I hope millions listen. We need more leaders like this. Share and...

Powerful! LA Senator Elbert Guillory speaks the truth.
posted on: Jun 18, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Love: The Corinthians and Us

This is the third in a series on Christian love. You can read the previous post here: Love: The Point of 1 Corinthians. You wouldn’t think modern American would have much in common with ancient Corinth, but it does. Indeed, once you strip away the obvious differences of technology, language, and custom, the similarities are striking. Like America, Corinth rose quickly from humble beginnings to great heights. Corinth was largely uninhabited when Julius Caesar established her as a Roman Colony in 44 BC. But in less than a century, she would eclipse iconic Athens, just fifty miles away, as the leading political and economic power in Greece.* Like America, Corinth was known as a land of opportunity. With...

Love: The Corinthians and Us
posted on: Jun 5, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Love: The Point of 1Corinthians.

This is the second in a series on Christian love. You can read the first post here: The Endless Quest for Love. Love is something we tend to think of in sentimental terms, as though it were dessert after the meat and potatoes of life. God wants us to see that love is the meat and potatoes of life, as well as the dessert. Accordingly, Paul’s great meditation on Christian love is part of a much longer letter written to a fledgling church facing significant troubles within and tremendous odds without. Paul spends most of the letter talking to the Corinthians about how they are cannibalizing themselves spiritually speaking. Their only hope is the one thing they haven’t tried:...

posted on: May 22, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

What is the biblical purpose of the church?

I have been giving a fair amount of thought recently to the question of how to express in a single sentence the biblical purpose of the church. I am not trying to tell every church what their mission statement ought to be. I am really trying to explore what my church’s mission statement ought to be if we want to be fully biblical in the sense of including everything the Bible includes and nothing that it doesn’t. Ideally, the mission statement would be pithy, inspiring, and true – true in the compass sense of always pointing members to true biblical north. Several things have instigated this quest. One is Anthony Bradley’s recent article The New Legalism which warns of...

posted on: May 13, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Modern America and Ancient Rome

Like ancient Rome, modern American is increasingly worshiping her own genius and preaching her own gospel. American is moving away from her Christian past, whereas Rome had yet to come to her Christian future, but we find ourselves in much the same position. In one sense, modern America is worse than ancient Rome – in the same sense that Belshazzar was worse than Nebuchadnezzar. Like Nebuchadnezzar, Rome was unwittingly moving out of paganism toward the one true God. Like Belshazzar, America is knowingly moving away from the one true God toward paganism. But at least Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall. I am not sure America does. -Alan Burrow Share and...

Modern America and Ancient Rome
posted on: May 8, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Recovering Christ’s Ascension

Thursday is Ascension Day, and Sunday is Ascension Sunday. Most evangelical churches will do little to commemorate the event. It is the least understood and appreciated milestone in the saga of redemption. Yet it is the milestone the modern church most needs to recover. Christians instinctively know that the turning point of history – the cosmic D-Day if you will – is when Jesus begins to assert his lordship, not over heaven, but over this world – the world where we live and have kids and go to work and elect politicians. To the modern evangelical church, Jesus will launch that D-Day when he returns, upon his second advent. It is no wonder the evangelical church is so...

Recovering Christ’s Ascension
posted on: May 7, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Why shouldn’t gays have equal opportunity to enjoy marriage?

I am reposting this article in light of the Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor. Why is marriage only between a man and a woman regardless of what the government says and regardless of a same-sex couple’s commitment to one another? Here’s why. Why shouldn’t gays have equal opportunity to enjoy marriage? Because they won’t, even if they do. Marriage, you see, is binding oneself and giving oneself for life to someone fundamentally “other.” Not just “other” in the sense of another human being, but “other” in the sense of someone fundamentally different, as in a different sex. Why is marriage that way? Because God is that way. There is...

posted on: Apr 23, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

The First Characteristic of Great Faith (Mat 15.21-38).

For the context and setup for this post, read Believe and Eat! Like the Centurion of Mat 8.5-13, the woman of Canaan exemplifies the faith Israel should have had but didn’t. Not even the disciples exhibited the kind of faith these two unlikely Gentiles did. (See Mat 15.32-33.) Jesus says the woman’s faith is “great.” (Mat 15.28.) She had the kind of faith every disciple should aspire to have. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of her faith, to see what comprises “great faith.” The first characteristic of great faith is that it comes to Jesus and worships Him. (Mat 15.22, 25.) This is the cornerstone for all the rest. Great faith acts, and this is its fundamental action. Note that the woman comes to...

The First Characteristic of Great Faith (Mat 15.21-38).
posted on: Apr 2, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

“Trajectory: Easter Tunnel”

My daughter, Gwen, celebrates in this poem a wonderful but often unrecognized truth about Easter: resurrection is not resuscitation. Lazarus was resuscitated; Jesus was resurrected. Lazarus came back from death the same way he entered. Jesus came forth from death by bursting through the other side. Lazarus returned to the same life he had known before. Jesus entered into an entirely new life that no man had known before. Lazarus cheated death. Jesus defeated death. Praise God, Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Trajectory: Easter Tunnel When Christ stood up, he did not come backwards out of the earth like Lazarus still wearing those strips. He was not unswallowed, sucked out of the dark the same direction...

“Trajectory: Easter Tunnel”
posted on: Mar 30, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Amazing! Your kids will love this!

The Mystery of Prince Rupert’s Drop Share and...

Amazing! Your kids will love this!
posted on: Mar 26, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

John Roberts, the Man Who Would Be Chief

Following Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”), there was a media storm seeking to explain why he did what he did. This media eruption extended across the board – columnists of every stripe, scoop reporters citing anonymous inside sources, media outlets across the spectrum – some hailing Roberts, others vilifying him, some scratching their heads, others shaking theirs. When there is this kind of press frenzy, it is important we not lose the forest for the trees. The big story is this: No one was expecting what Roberts did, and his opinion does nothing to explain it. Everyone comes away wondering What’s the real story? No one accepts Roberts’...

John Roberts, the Man Who Would Be Chief
posted on: Mar 25, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Highlights du jour – Mar 25

* Gay marriage takes center stage at the Supreme Court this week as two cases will be argued, one on Tuesday and the other on Wednesday. * GOP strategist Carl Rove says the 2016 Republican presidential candidate could endorse gay marriage, and Mike Huckabee says if that happens evangelicals will walk out of the GOP.  * Economist Laurence Kudlow, who is normally a monetarist inflation hawk, argues that Bernanke may have gotten it right. I am not endorsing this view, just calling attention to it. Kudlow is a very well known economist, and for him to say this definitely raises eyebrows. Share and...

posted on: Mar 25, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Believe and eat! (Mat 15.21-39.)

The theme of faith and unbelief runs throughout this text, as does the theme of Jew and Gentile, and the theme of food, and particularly of Jesus’ ability to provide food for Israel and the world. Feeding the 4000-plus multitude is obviously about food, but so is the healing of the daughter of the woman of Canaan (15.22-28) and by extension the healing of the multitudes (15.30). Note that Jesus and the Canaanite woman discuss healing in terms of food: But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their...

Believe and eat! (Mat 15.21-39.)
posted on: Mar 19, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Jesus, the Pharisees, and Defilement (Mat 15.1-20)

The backdrop. The Messiah is portrayed in the Old Testament as a shepherd king who provides for God’s people, leading them to good pasture, who protects them, fending off wolves and predators, and who brings them into God’s sheepfold. (Psalm 28.9; 80.1; Isa 40.9.) God’s people protected, provided for, and near to God – all of this is a picture of what the Bible calls “rest.” It is also a picture of communion with God, of drawing near to God. For rest, communion, drawing near – they all go together. Why am I saying all this? Because it provides the backdrop to Jesus’ clash with the Pharisees in our text. Recall that back in ch.12, the Pharisees accused...

Jesus, the Pharisees, and Defilement (Mat 15.1-20)
posted on: Mar 18, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

The Endless Quest for Love

If there is anything the world is convinced of, it is that happiness depends on loving and being loved. If there is anything the world pursues – in romance, in friendship, in family – it is love. Why then is there so much unhappiness and so little love? C. S. Lewis famously observed that without God’s love, all human loves fall of their own weight.[1] They become twisted out of shape. They fail to live up to their name and to deliver what they promise. Familial love, famous for its comfortableness, acceptance, and devotion, is also famous for its presumption, rudeness, and manipulativeness. We all know our tendency to treat worst the ones we love most. We treat...

The Endless Quest for Love
posted on: Mar 7, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Leithart’s thoughts after the Wilson-Sullivan gay marriage debate.

“Perhaps Christians are called to do no more than speak the truth without worrying about persuasiveness. Perhaps we have entered a phase in which God has closed ears, so that whatever we say sounds like so much gibberish. We can depend on the Spirit to give ears as He pleases.” -Peter Leithart You can read the rest of Leithart’s remarks at his First Things post, Gay Marriage and the Christian Imagination. Share and...

Leithart’s thoughts after the Wilson-Sullivan gay marriage debate.
posted on: Mar 4, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

What is a parable? And why did Jesus use them?

To moderns, a parable is a helpful, illustrative story, but that is not what it is in the Bible. Hebrew parables include proverbs, riddles, stories, allegories, and the like. The common feature is not form, but the fact that the meaning, like buried treasure, lies beneath the surface. It requires work on the part of the hearer – mulling it over, pondering it, and often asking for help – to acquire the meaning. The effect of a parable is to immediately differentiate between the true seeker and the casual or the curious. Parables are meant to reward persistent effort on the part of the former while giving nothing to the latter. People love treasure, and they especially love...

What is a parable? And why did Jesus use them?
posted on: Feb 26, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Who is the Son of Man?

People called Jesus many things – Rabbi, prophet, Christ, Lamb of God, Son of God, Satan, sinner, deceiver, insurrectionist. (Mat 10.25; Luke 23.2; John 1.34, 36, 38; 7.12; 9.17, 24.) But the title Jesus took to Himself was “Son of Man.” When Jesus explained His mission to His disciples, He said, “The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” (Mat 18.11.) When He explained to Nicodemus how He would save the lost, He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.14-15.) When the scribes and Pharisees disingenuously asked...

Who is the Son of Man?
posted on: Feb 23, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Sequester-geddon?

To hear the Obama administration, the Sequester budget cuts will be economic Armageddon, crippling first responders, the military, and the economy as a whole. When you look past the rhetoric and examine the actual numbers, here is what they show according to the Congressional Budget Office: * The $85 billion “spending cut” is actually a reduction of budget authority, not budget outlays. * Budget outlays will only come down $44 billion. * $44 billion is 1.25 percent of the government’s $3.6 trillion budget and 1/4 of 1 percent of GDP ($15.8 trillion). * The outlay reduction is only half of the Sequester’s  budget-authority savings, the rest of which will only take effect in future years (assuming congress and...

Sequester-geddon?
posted on: Feb 22, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

More golf for the President (and Congress)!

The press is in a tizzy about President Obama’s private (as in press free) golf outing with Tiger Woods Saturday at the Floridian, an exclusive golf and yacht club on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The conservative press is doubly in a tizzy due to the cost of Obama’s vacation which in addition to Air Force 1, the Secret Service security team, and accommodations, also included a full day of golf instruction from Butch Harmon, Woods’ old coach and one of the best known and most expensive golf instructors in the world. I, for one, applaud the President’s golf weekend and think he should have more of them – and he ought to take Congress with him. It’s when they...

More golf for the President (and Congress)!
posted on: Feb 18, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

How do you like living under a different lord?

Christians in America long ago restricted the lordship of Christ to a shrunken area called “spiritual life.” Now we are learning what it is like to live under a different lord everywhere else. Christ’s rod of discipline will not be lifted until we acknowledge the truth: Christ is Lord of everything. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and of the living. -Romans 14.9. Share and...

How do you like living under a different lord?
posted on: Feb 18, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Who is the true family of God? (Mat 12.46-50)

One of the burning questions of Scripture is, who is the true family of God? “That’s easy,” you think, “its Israel.” Yes, but how is Israel defined? That is the question Jesus is addressing in His cryptic response when His mother and siblings come seeking to speak with Him. (Mat 12.46-50.) Jesus had just been analogizing that generation of Israel to a demon possessed man, cleansed by Jesus, who does not invite Jesus in, and whose “house” therefore sits vacant, beckoning the demon, along with seven of his friends, to move back in. (Mat 12.22, 39, 43-45.) And that raises the question, how is Israel – God’s “house,” His “household,” His “family” – defined? Is God’s family defined...

Who is the true family of God? (Mat 12.46-50)
posted on: Feb 12, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Your “house” wasn’t meant to be a single occupant dwelling (Mat 12.43-45)...

Earlier in Matthew 12, Jesus enraged the Pharisees by comparing them to Doeg the Edomite, who accused David to Saul and at Saul’s command killed the priests who helped David. Now He enrages them again by comparing them (and the rest of that generation) to a demon possessed man. (Mat 12.43-45.) What would immediately have leaped to everyone’s mind is the demon possessed, blind and mute man whom Jesus had just healed.  (Mat 12.22.) Jesus is saying in so many words that Israel, particularly her leadership, is governed by an evil and adulterous spirit and therefore is incapable of seeing or speaking the truth. (Mat 12.39.) This, I think, is why there is so much demon possession encountered –...

Your “house” wasn’t meant to be a single occupant dwelling (Mat 12.43-45)
posted on: Feb 7, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

The Constitution, Dead or Alive?

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia caused a commotion recently when he said he tells visiting school children that the Constitution is “dead, dead, dead.” When the children share what they have been learning—“The Constitution is a living document”—the Justice shares what he has been learning and pronounces it DOA. No doubt sessions with the school counselor are necessary to help the children recover from the Justice’s insensitive remarks. Public policy debates are often decided, not by the merits, but by who seizes the rhetorical high ground. Here is a rhetoric tip: “Living” is better than “dead.” Ask any child: “Who is a friend of the Constitution, those who say it is living or those who say it is dead?”...

The Constitution, Dead or Alive?
posted on: Feb 5, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

Richard III and The Daughter of Time

Today’s headlines trumpeting the remarkable discovery of Richard III’s remains gives me an excuse to trumpet something else – Josephine Tey’s mystery novel about Richard III, The Daughter of Time, rated as the best mystery novel of all time by the British Crime Writer’s Association. (The Mystery Writers of America rate it as number 4, but it should be noted that two of the works ahead of Tey’s are collections, not individual novels.) Richard III is best known as Shakespeare’s villainous, humpback, withered-arm king who murdered his own nephews (and a bunch of other people) to accede to the throne. This portrait of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets, made him one of the most hated men of history...

Richard III and The Daughter of Time
posted on: Feb 4, 2013 | author: Alan Burrow

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