Two Cars Spinning

On the morning of June 23, 2016, I was working with my head down in a local coffeeshop. Tunes blared in my ears as I stared and typed. Then, in a moment, someone left and the room got quiet. This place was never quiet. I looked up.

At 12:09pm, a westbound silver minivan made a blind turn across four lanes of traffic and hit a small eastbound black SUV, sending both cars spinning. The crash totaled both cars, demolishing the front left corner of the SUV. I had never seen an entire wheel assembly lying on the pavement, but there it was.

 

At the scene, people swirled, helping each driver and the passengers. The woman in the SUV shook terribly, surprised that her simple trip down the hill became a nightmare. Men swept the busy street. Police arrived on the scene. EMS removed the injured woman from her car. I directed oncoming traffic to the nearest detour.

There was a palpable mourning across that intersection. We mourned the pain, the terror, the shock. We moved to help. But only one driver was at fault. 

Which brings us to the the hot topic of the last thirty-ish months: police shootings.

Instead of merely looking at a wreck the way a child does, “Wow, that’s a mess,” we should be mature in our thinking and consider the biblical claims of the following:

  1. God values human life, regardless of ethnicity, age, criminal history, socioeconomic class. All life is valuable in the first place.
  2. The government bears the sword, and in our culture that most directly means the local police force.
  3. Police officers are called to enforce laws. If they do not do so, they are putting other citizens in danger and are themselves liable for the damage criminals subsequently cause.
  4. Not all crime is equal. Please read the Old Testament. There is unquestionably a civil hierarchy of sins. “Every sin is the same” is nonsense, in this life and in the next. Some sins are culmination of years of sinning, others are momentary acts. Some give a bruise; others take a life.
  5. All unjust killing, whether of the preborn in the womb at the local Planned Parenthood (a direct slap in the face to parents) or of a citizen by a police officer, is evil and must be prosecuted.
  6. Every human is a sinner and tainted, mind, body, and soul, with sinfulness. Every human, because he is a  sinner, is an innate self-server, racist, and liar. 
  7. Sinfulness doesn’t excuse mistrust in an entire system, because you are a sinner, too. Transparency and accountability are needed.
  8. Policemen have hard jobs and are not perfect. You and I likely do not know the first thing about what it takes to approach a dangerous situation and handle everything involved. This doesn’t mean they’re always right or always wrong.
  9. It is not a sin for an authority to shoot a dangerous criminal. Please see #2 and #3.
  10. The media, being full of self-serving sinners (#6), have a vested interest in speaking half-truths and outright lies to make better “news.” This news, in these cases, is not the truth at all.
  11. The viper-tongued media puts police officers and citizens at risk. Please see the Dallas shootings and the widespread anger toward police.
  12. Marching is one thing; loving is quite another. Both have their place, but one is immeasurably more important. You also don’t have to march with people in order to love those people.
  13. Disobedience is not necessarily racism. A hatred of authority by one party (a young man, let’s say, detained by a police officer) does not necessarily equal a surface-level racism by the acting authority. The facts, instead, must come to light. The officer may have been acting in a racist fashion, or the young man may simply hate authority, or both.

Each of these can (and maybe should) be expanded into a separate post, but for now these categories are important because they help us think through issues like that of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, and the host of part-myth, part-real stores the media tells us. 

If this local crash were a more “sensational” story, there’s no telling how the media might have portrayed it. It might have been an issue of environmentalism, or driver brutality, or racism.

Eyewitnesses know that, in the wreck on June 23, both drivers lived. Both suffered very real damage to their lives, bodies, and potentially souls. Either driver could have avoided the wreck.

In this case, only one was at fault.

Jesus Speaks

Of Scripture, Evangelism, and Unbelief

It was a sunny January Tuesday as I worked at my public cubicle in a nearby coffee shop. I noticed two men discussing (false) theology behind me, but I had chatted with one before and thought I’d leave well enough alone.

As their conversation, and the general noise level, rose, I popped on my headphones. The tunes help me focus. They blocked out the noise for a time, but then, cutting through the chatter, I heard the words, “All roads lead to God.”

IMG_7398 (1)

 

And maybe, by the power of Holy Spirit, came a holy zeal. A zeal for the glory of God. Or maybe I just wanted to be right. Either way, it was an open statement in a public place that slaps the Savior in the face. It was time to speak.

Here’s how it began:

Britt: You believe that’s true?
John: Well, I was just quoting someone.
B: But you believe it, too.
J: Well, yeah. I’m a Muslim, and I married a Christian woman! We get along just fine, as long as we talk about what we agree on.
B: I’m glad you are able to get along well with your wife, but Christ and Islam have nothing to agree on. Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.
J: Why are you judging me, telling me I’m wrong?
B: I’m not telling you. Jesus is. I’m just repeating what He said.
J: But I don’t believe that book you are quoting.
B: It doesn’t matter. He still said it.
J: I believe those gospel writers changed things he said.
B: Really? Were you there? Because I wasn’t and neither was Mohammed. I trust the first-person sources.

The world wants us to lay down our swords, as Voddie Baucham so eloquently puts it, and play their game on their terms. We must say, “No. Jesus has spoken.”

Regardless of what hell-bent lost people like John and so many others think, Jesus has spoken. And we are His ambassadors, His messengers, His missionaries, His servants. We are not allowed to change the message. If we do, Proverbs calls this kind of failed messenger a “fool” (Prov. 26:6).

So don’t be a fool and try to maim God’s Word. Jesus still speaks: to us, in us, and through us by the Holy Spirit with the Word. We know what He says. Just say it to other humans because you love them, you love God’s glory, and you fear for their souls apart from Jesus Christ.

Open Wide the Closets of Darkness

John Mark Reynolds says that “coming out of the closet” is a good thing. Here’s why.

Money Frosting and Deeper Greed

“Giving handouts creates more problems than it solves,” says life-long missionary Nate Saint in his recent article on rich Westerners doing third-world missions, “Projecting Poverty Where It Doesn’t Exist.”

He explains several new problems handouts create:

  • Handouts create a false sense of need for the American way of life.
  • Handouts create a desire to see one’s self as needy in order to get free stuff.
  • Handouts hurt entire communities by provoking greed, money-lust, and discontentedness.

Read the whole article to see how Saint explains each with decades of life experience.

Jesus Didn’t Start Programs; He Ate Meals

Tim Chester, from his book, A Meal with Jesus:

Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus then you’ll be doing mission. It’s not that meals alone save people. People are saved through the gospel message. But meals create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates powerfully with what you’re saying.

So go preach the gospel with a meal.

All Heresy: Partial Truth and Hidden Error

From Geerhardus Vos, writing 109 years ago:

It is a well-known fact that all heresy begins with a partial truth. So it is in the present case.

No one will deny that in the Scriptural disclosure of truth the divine love is set forth as a most fundamental principle, nor that the embodiment of this principle in our human will and action forms a prime ingredient of that subjective religion which the Word of God requires of us.

But it is quite possible to overemphasize this one side of truth and duty as to bring into neglect other exceedingly important principles and demands of Christianity. The result will be that, while no positive error is taught, yet the equilibrium both in consciousness and life is disturbed and a condition created in which the power of resistance to the inroads of spiritual disease is greatly reduced. There can be little doubt that in this manner the one-sidedness and exclusiveness with which the love of God has been preached to the present generation is largely responsible for that universal weakening of the sense of sin, and the consequent decline of interest in the doctrines of atonement and justification, which even in orthodox and evangelical circles we all see and deplore.

This is particularly helpful with the current Rob Bell situation. See Kevin DeYoung’s helpful, long review for more.

HT: JT

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