Friday, April 03, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
One of the most disturbing quotes from the article linked above is this one:
"We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it" (emphasis mine).
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The following account is from Pastor Chris Brauns' website. Pastor Brauns relates this story in his book, Unpacking Forgiveness. His website, from which this account is taken, is:
The story is as follows:
On November 8, 1994, Scott and Janet Willis were driving through the Milwaukee area on I-94 with their six youngest children in a mini-van. They had left a couple of hours before from Chicago. They had fun singing and laughing together on the first part of the trip. But, after they stopped and got gas, they encouraged the children to get some sleep. Three older children were not there.
When we hit the object, the rear gas tank exploded, taking the car out of control. I was able to grip the wheel and take the car out of the slide. When we were sliding and the flames were coming around the seat, it was a shock—a surprise—like, ‘What is this?’ It was just roaring flames coming up on both sides. I was yelling to get out of the car. Janet and I had to consciously put our hands into the flames to unbuckle the seat belts and reach for the door handles.
Janet fell out the door while the car was still moving. [Our son] Benny was in the midst of the burning; his clothes were mostly burned off by the time he got out. The five youngest children, who had been asleep, died instantly. No sound was heard by Janet or me as we struggled to get out of the van. An unknown man took his shirt off his back to soak Benny’s wounds, and another beat out the burning clothes on Janet’s back. Benny died in intensive care around midnight.
If possible, the tragedy got worse for the Scott and Janet Willis. They had found some comfort in knowing that their children had died instantly. But months later, they learned that there were signs that some of the children struggled to get out of the van. Their son Benny lost consciousness at the scene. They assumed that he had not regained it before he died. But, a hospital worker told them he was alive and alert at the hospital. He had asked her to hold his hand but she was unable to do so because of his burns. He had asked her to pray with him.
Then, Scott and Janet Willis learned that the driver of the semi had obtained his license illegally because of corruption under George Ryan, future governor of Illinois, who at that time was Secretary of State. Licensing facilities accepted bribes that allowed unqualified drivers to receive licenses. These bribes became a part of Ryan’s campaign fund. Ironically, Janet Willis had voted for Ryan the very morning of the accident.
On the morning of the accident, the driver ignored repeated warnings from other drivers that there was a large piece of metal that was going to fall of the back of his truck. It all seemed so senseless, so preventable.
So Scott and Janet Willis had to decide how to relate to a driver who should have heeded warnings, who should not have been on the road in the first place. They had to decide how to treat a politician whose corrupt values had played a part in their children’s deaths.
In the short run, it would have been easiest to gravitate to one of following two extremes. They could have been angry and vindictive; they could have hated the politicians who allowed unqualified drivers to get a license through a bribe. Or, they could have granted automatic forgiveness. This would have meant that there would be no accountability for actions. Instead of either of these extreme choices, the Willis family chose to live out the principles of Romans 12.
This is evident from letters that they sent to a U.S. District Judge, including this one written recently by Janet:
My husband and I have prayed and asked God to keep us from bitterness and to help us be faithful to him and he has. We tried to honor God by not complaining.
But there is a time to speak. I am sharing these facts only because I believe if justice rules, wrongdoing will be deterred. I have learned “when [God's] judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil.” (Isaiah 26:9, 10). Scott Willis added his thoughts to her letter:
Janet and I are ordinary people. Not powerful, not forceful. Our children brought great joy to us. Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel, Hank, Elizabeth and Peter were like anybody else’s kids: playful, happy, mopey, energetic. The boys loved reading and sports. Elizabeth was her mom’s shadow and her doll’s mom. We love them. We miss them. We do not despair. We live with a God-promised hope in Jesus Christ.
Almost 12 years have passed since Nov. 8, 1994. The heartache remains but has softened. Janet and I have prayed to not have a bitter or revengeful spirit. These feelings have only occasionally flared up but have not consumed or dominated our thoughts and are not the motive for this letter.
Our thoughts are not on punishment. That is for the court to decide. The real tragedy is that no reconciliation has yet been attained between George Ryan and Janet and me. My wife and I have a strong desire to forgive Gov. Ryan but it must be on an honest basis: sorrow and admission. Even a 6-year-old boy knows when he’s done wrong he needs to be truly sorry, and admit it. Then forgiveness and mercy can be graciously offered. That would be our joy.
Notice how the Willis family lived out the principles of Romans 12:9-21.
Wow. And again, wow. Pray for this family. Pray for Gov. Ryan. And pray that each of us learns from this powerful, lifechanging story.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
God Became Man
What is Christmas all about? The true meaning of the season is this: God became man. What an amazing truth! Think about it: two thousand years ago the Lord entered human history. He clothed Himself in flesh and blood, becoming incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.
What awesome news! This is not the stuff of a fairy tale … this is not mere myth or legend … this is historical fact—God became man to redeem spiritually dead people. Have you seen yourself as the sinner the Bible says you are, and have you trusted in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death upon the cross for your salvation?
Please do not let Christmas go by without remembering the real significance of the season. Look beyond the Christmas tree, the lights, the tinsel, and all of the holiday trappings. These things have their place, but let us see Christmas for what it really is: God becoming man in the Person of Jesus Christ.
May this Christmas season find us responding like those shepherds of old who, after seeing Jesus, returned home and glorified and praised God for all the things they heard and saw, which were just as they had been foretold (Luke 2:20).
May God bless you this holy season as you experience the true meaning of Christmas!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
As Hurricane Gustav churns out in the Gulf, I find myself once again reflecting on the sovereignty of God as it pertains to weather. I have came away from my study of Scripture convinced that nature is neither controlled by Satan nor does it have its own will. Rather, all of nature is under the control of Almighty God. Consider the biblical evidence: "He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.... He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow" (Ps.147:8; 16-18). "When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses" (Jer. 10:13). "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm and clouds are the dust of his feet" (Nah. 1:3). "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45). The biblical witness is clear: it is Father God (not "mother nature") who is in control of the weather. Indeed, nature's laws are God's laws. God certainly has the power to stop hurricanes, storms, and other weather-related phenomena. On the other hand, God allows storms to wreak their awful havoc to fulfill His sovereign plan, which from our limited point of view may seem incomprehensible. Thinking about sovereignty and storms brings to mind a great hymn by Isaac Watts. The third verse of his “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” declares: "There's not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known; And clouds arise and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne; While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care, And everywhere that man may be, Thou, God, art present there." Watts was right: the sovereign God (not Satan or nature) is the One who makes “clouds arise and tempests blow.”