all-things-through-christI can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Some have called this the Superman verse.  People invoke it to say that they can do anything and everything, as long as Christ is giving them the ability to do it.  It’s a great motivational verse.  As great as that message sounds, it’s not what Paul meant when you read the verse in its context.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13)

Ben Witherington observes that the Greek does not say “do.” The only verb in the Greek is ischuo, which means “to be able, strong, healthy, valid, powerful.”  A literal rendering of the verse is “I am able all things in Him who empowers me.”  Read literally, it doesn’t make any sense.  Able to do what?  The helping verb is missing, and can only be supplied by the surrounding context.

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Some good news! The Guttmacher Institute just released their abortion data from 2013-4.  The number of abortions fell below one million for the first time in 2013 (958,700), and dropped again in 2014 (926,200).  The last time they were this low was in 1975, just a couple of years after Roe. 

The abortion rate has also continued to decline from 29 p/1000 women (aged 15-44) in 1980, to 14.6 p/1000 women in 2014.  This is the lowest it has been since 1973.

While there are many factors that contribute to this decline (better contraception practices, pro-life legislation making it more difficult to obtain an abortion), one of them is most certainly the pro-life message of equal protection for all human beings.  We have a lot more work to do to make abortion a matter for the history books, but I’ll rejoice over each step along the way.

john-piperJohn Piper writes:

[T]here are two kinds of approaches to questionable practices in life. One I would call a minimalist approach to holiness and godliness. The other maximalist.

In the first case, your typical question is, “Well, what is wrong with it?” It would apply to movies and music, and kids often ask their parents, “What is wrong with it?” And the other approach is not to ask, “What is wrong with it?” mainly, but, “Will it make me more Christ like? Will it make me more devoted to Jesus? … Will it make me more bold in witness or weaken me? Will it help me be spiritually discerning of the ways of Satan in the world and will it help me lay up treasures in heaven?” …

You can see that there are these two kinds of approaches to life. I want to maximize my godliness and my holiness by drawing nearer and nearer to God, and the other one is just trying to do as many things as you can do without being tripped up explicitly by sin.

How true!

Check out my friend Danzil Monk’s post regarding the Kim Burrell controversy.

root-of-bitternessSee to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)

The way I have typically heard this verse explained, the author is warning against the spiritual danger of harboring personal bitterness.  Indeed, the Contemporary English Version interprets it this way in their “translation”: “Make sure that no one misses out on God’s wonderful kindness. Don’t let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you.”  Is that what the author meant to convey?  Let’s look at the context. (more…)

work-together-for-goodAnd we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

This passage is typically used to teach that God will use the bad things that happen to us in life to bring about some future blessing (financial, relational, ministerial, etc.).  Some go so far as to teach that each instance of suffering has a corresponding blessing attached to it.  Let’s look at the context.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)

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A biologically normal person who experiences transgender feelings is not the opposite gender trapped in the wrong body, but a person who is experiencing mental and emotional confusion (I’ve written some on gender issues here and here).  They need therapy, not gender reassignment surgery.  But what about a person who was born genetically male (Y chromosome), but with malformed or ambiguous genitalia?

There have been many cases where doctors and parents made the decision to surgically alter their genitals to appear female and then raise the child as a girl.  But the child is a male, biologically, and the male hormones make them feel and act like a boy despite being told they are a girl and raised as a girl.  Later in life, they discover their past.  Now, as an adult, though they look like a girl, they want to be what they feel like and truly are: a man.  They want to dress as a man and act like a man, and even undergo surgery to physically alter their genitals to look like a man again.

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