Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's a Girl!

A couple weeks ago, on Monday, November 7 Kathy and I left Batavia for Greenville, SC. We had heard that our daughter, Elizabeth was in the hospital. We were expecting this call because she was nine months pregnant. We finally reached Greenville General Hospital and as we stepped off the elevator Kathy received a call on her cell phone - Ava had just been born!

We had reminisced about a similar incident that happened 31 years ago when Kathy went into labor for our first child and when the beautiful baby was born we named her Elizabeth Anne. One generation follows on the heel of the previous. As parents we do our best to provide our children with the best we can offer. As young parents we didn't have much materially and couldn't offer much. In retrospect, it didn't warp our kids in the least. If anything, it helped them realize that society doesn't owe them a thing. They have all grown to be hard-working, law-abiding, honest citizens, and I am proud of each one. But I digress...

Ava Kathleen is our second grandchild. Two years ago Brian and Elizabeth had a son, Garrett. He is doing his best to adjust to life with a baby sister. As grandparents we will do everything to make sure our grandchildren do not go without, but I view my most important role as what I can impart to these children of my offspring. I am impressed first of all that these little ones have eternal souls, and it is my sacred duty to pray daily for their salvation. What a tragic shame if any of my children's children were to turn their backs on the Savior! Then I view my role as one of assisting the parents in leading these little ones to be followers of Jesus. I was not blessed with a great deal of intelligence. I look at my three brothers: a missionary with a PhD, an attorney, and an accountant. I'm just a scrap dealer whom God has been pleased to bless. But after all these years, surely I have gained some knowledge and wisdom. It is this that I wish to pass on to those who come after.

I have a wonderful heritage. On my father's side, my great-grandparents came from Sweden in the 1880's, settled in Minnesota, received Jesus as their savior, and on that side I am a 4th generation Christian. On my mother's side, we can trace our roots back to 1640 when my ancestor landed in Boston as a preacher. As proud as I may be of my heritage, God isn't looking at my ancestry; He is looking at my heart. It is the same for my grandchildren. I Sam. 13:14 'The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart.'

As soon as a baby is born there is the discussion of who he or she looks like. We are generally pleased if they have some of our genetic characteristics. As parents and grandparents may we do all we can to instill our 'spiritual genes' in our offspring; may we be known to our descendents as men and women of God.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What about mercy?

In this post I would like to clarify a biblical position on the mercy of God so as to avoid any fuzzy thinking on the subject. Those who take a more Reformed position on their theology than I do believe that the mercy of God is not conditional, claiming that otherwise it would not be true mercy. I understand why they believe as they do, but from what I understand about the Bible, there is a problem. Some could say since there are no conditions to the mercy of God, He will have mercy on everyone. So whether you have sought forgiveness from your sins or not, you have been shown mercy - no conditions. Thus, everyone makes it Heaven.

Now the strong Reformed will have no problem with this since God's mercy concerning salvation is extended to all - all the elect, that is. Although I love my Calvinistic brethren, I disagree with them about the doctrine of irresistible grace. But that is for another time.

God extends His GRACE unconditionally to every human being. He gives us a wonderful world to live in. Okay, it is not exactly the Garden of Eden (this is not God's fault), but as far as we know, the most suitable place in this universe for mankind. On this earth God blesses us with food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities as well as many luxuries. As moral agents each of us has rebelled against this good Ruler, who has specifically stated that if we disobey His rules, we must suffer punishment. The punishment is death - the separation from God in a place of torment. Since this wonderful Creator doesn't want His creatures to suffer, but justice demands it; God has sent His Son to suffer in their place.
This is a demonstration of the incredible mercy of God. But this act of mercy has strings attached. If you don't get saved, you don't take part in this act of God's mercy. But it is still mercy and I thank God that over 50 years ago, He was mercifully pleased to save my wicked soul.

Now I understand that salvation is all of God. He draws us, the Holy Spirit illuminates the plan of salvation to our darkened hearts, and blood of the Lamb washes our sins away. I had no part in that. It was God who saved me. But there is a human side to this. We have a responsibility since we are moral agents with wills to choose to resist when the God moves us to come to Him. Those who resist will eventually be punished. Those who respond to the wooing of the Spirit of God, will receive additional light until they understand salvation. I believe the native in a pagan land with no Gospel witness, if sincerely responding to the call of God in his heart, can be saved. God will reveal Himself, usually through a missionary, but that is not always necessary. No one can claim they had no chance. Through His creation, His Word, and each man's conscience, God reveals Himself. Although everyone has the opportunity, only those who come will be shown the matchless mercy of God.

For those who are having difficulty deciding what is mercy and what is grace, the following should help:
Mercy is God not giving me something I deserve. This would include salvation from sin and its eternal punishment.
Grace is God giving me something I do not deserve. This would include eternal life in His presence.