Matt Postiff's Blog
I just got home from an emotional day of ministry, serving the family of a fine 17-year young man in our church who was killed in an auto accident last week. The last 10 days have been brutal for the family, but they have also brought many blessings and thoughts that might be helpful for you. Writing this will be helpful for me to process what I've just experienced.
Our collective memories cannot remember a tragedy like this in our church's entire history, so this was a brand new experience. Pastors called and said they either had experienced such an event, and offered wise counsel; or they called and said they never had and that they were laboring in prayer for the family and for me to minister. A multitude of Christian people said they were praying for me this week, or all the way through the service. I believe God answered those prayers.
The Smith family has been a fine example of how to handle a trial of the worst sort. I encouraged them that God has not permitted more than He will sustain them through. I exhorted them that they must not take the devil's bait to become bitter against God, or discouraged, depressed, divided, despairing. God can and will uphold them.
The community's support was outstanding. About 600 people visited with the family yesterday, and there were almost 800 people in attendance at the celebration of life service today. It was standing room only. Families brought food for the luncheon, and there was way more than enough.
This time brought ministry opportunities with countless individuals. Events like those of the past week brought out people's concerns--on their own account, or from one family member about another who needs to be saved or to walk with the Lord.
It was reinforced to me that a strong doctrinal foundation is crucial for the real events of life. Sure, your pastor's Sunday's message might not feel precisely relevant for Monday morning. But it should be relevant for the morning when you get the call that your son has just been airlifted to the University Hospital and the local police will be taking you to him as soon as they can arrive at your home. Personal eschatology is relevant when the family faces a young man attached to machines who has no life left in his body and has to decide what to do next. The fact is that the Bible is always relevant, but the pastor may not always be preaching on a subject that suits your immediate fancy. However, the message may just fit a desperate need later.
The issues of life comprise a serious business. I was driving home from the church where the funeral was held, and I was the second car at a red light. Someone two or three cars back honked when the driver in front of me didn't turn right-on-red fast enough. I just shook my head. Wish I could take that person who honked back in time and had them sit through this week with me. Maybe they would then learn that they don't have to hurry on to their death by driving too fast, or think that getting through a red light is such an important thing. How ridiculous are the trivial things we get upset about!
Something else wonderful that happened was the great number of people who consoled me and inquired as to my well being. I lost a loved one too, they said, and I was carrying the burden of the church's grief and care as I ministered. That is all true, but I felt like God allowed us to share the burden together and as such it was lighter and more bearable. God has brought us safe thus far, Smiths and FBC family and Saline Community. So let us thank Him!
More thoughts flood my mind: the precious people who came to the funeral; the tears; the unbelief; the mourners who have hope; those who don't have any hope; the outstanding hospitality of First United Methodist Church in Saline; the funeral procession; the graveside committal service; the music; the memories shared; a decade and a half of precious personal friendship with Hayden's parents. May all bring comfort.
The service went well. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed. The people were called to embrace the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I trust Hayden's memory was properly honored, and that God was glorified.
The Truth Trackers program will be starting on September 2, and we thought we would give you a sampling of what the children do for the year by looking back to the 2014/15 school year. One of our 6-year-olds, Daniel, will recite the memory work that he learned in the Tiny Trackers program, which is the youngest age group of our Truth Trackers club.
There is no sleight of hand here. What happened was that during the school year, the children would learn a key word and a verse to go with it. They would have a story lesson about that word and verse, and then they would be responsible to learn the verse. Parental involvement at home is a very important part of this, as the parents review the verse with the child several times in the following week, and review the previous weeks' verses as well. By repetition, Daniel remembers all thirty weeks of verses, and still retains them now, months later.
Your child can do this too in our Truth Trackers program!
Tri-Lakes Baptist Church in Brighton is offering a marriage retreat for couples. It is September 11-12, Friday and Saturday. Friday the retreat starts at 6:30pm and Saturday it starts again at 9:00am. The speaker will be Jim Newcomer.
Over at AEI Idea's public policy blog, I wrote in a comment:
I think this would be a good Venn diagram:
Circle 1: People who say unborn babies are not people but rather are tissue masses or somesuch.
Circle 2: People who sell human body parts like kidneys, brains, spinal cords, livers, and the like from aborted fetuses.
Overlap: People who don't have a great need for intellectual consistency.
If the unborn children are not babies, it would seem that they shouldn’t have all the normal people body parts. If it looks like a person, shouldn’t you think its a person?
A respondent named Bob replied:
Nonesense. So if I grow a liver in the lab that liver is a person? If I choose to be an organ donor I’m not a person? If dead people donate their bones and tissue for treatments they weren’t people? You’re ignoring the reality that people can and do donate tissue and organs all the time, and in some cases their family decides for them. You’re also conflating partially developed with actually developed. Is a blastocyst of 300 cells a person? That’s ridiculous. By that standard scratching your nose is a virtual genocide. I’m not saying it’s trivial to draw the line between mass of unviable tissue and potential human that has consciousness, but science isn’t completely ignorant either. And whether the tissue resulting from abortion should be used is a question of squeamishness, not ethics. Is it somehow more moral to throw aborted tissue in the garbage than to use it for something productive? Hardly.
There are a few obvious logical and moral flaws in what Bob has written.
Hi Bob, not nonsense. You've missed the point. In reply to your questions/points:
First, growing a liver in a lab is obviously not a person. I'm talking about a pie dish with all the baby's body parts dissected in it, not a liver in isolation from any other living tissue. You find all the body parts in that pie dish, and if they weren't chopped up like mince meat and hacked out of their mother’s womb, they would still be alive and in a few weeks or months would be born as a healthy baby.
Second, if you choose to be an organ donor, that is wonderful. But notice the huge difference in three ways: you voluntarily choose to donate a part of your body, it does not kill you, and you cannot legally be compensated for it. The baby does not voluntarily choose to donate, it loses its life, and another organization (PP) is being compensated for it. In the case of end-of-life donation, the person has already lost their life.
Third, a blastocyst of 300 cells is of the homo sapiens variety and it is alive. You cannot convince anyone that it is another species, or that it is dead. It has all the qualities of a living organism. You admit that it is not trivial to draw the line. So I challenge you to go ahead and draw the line--just when does it become life? And are you willing to kill a living organism on that flimsy "it's not trivial" logic? Yes, I do believe that life begins at conception. You are willing to commit discrimination based on age and level of development. So what if a child is born without arms and legs? It is only partially developed. Do you think it is OK to kill it?
Fourth, if all ethical questions reduced down to ones of squeamishness, we would do a lot more things that are sick and perverted than we even do now. It is far too simple-minded ethically to suggest that once we make the decision to kill a baby, it is no problem to decide to donate its tissue. Your final question presents the logical fallacy called a false dilemma. I don't have a choice only between throwing aborted tissue away or donating it. I can choose LIFE and have a baby! Both donating the tissue AND throwing it away are morally wrong, and they are sourced in a moral wrong to begin with: murder.
Bob's type of thinking is an example of how darkened the mind of the unbeliever is. I don't know Bob personally, but for my purpose this afternoon, he represents a whole class of people whose thinking is blinded by immorality and simply does not see things they way those things really are.
Perhaps I should spell out my initial Venn diagram comment to make it more clear? On the one hand, abortionists say that the unborn baby is not a human, it has no right to life, and it is of no consequence to remove it from the mother. But on the other hand, apparently they market the human body parts of those babies for medical researchers who want to purchase human body parts. Oh, but wait, it wasn't a human that we removed from the womb. How can we market its body parts as human if it really isn't human? Hmmmm. Maybe we'll just live with the intellectual inconsistency so we can get what we WANT—federal funding and financial proceeds from body part sales and fees for abortions, and free sex without any responsibility!
Sometimes Christians are charged with "cherry picking" certain parts of the Bible to believe or practice, while ignoring others. For example, aren't Christians inconsistent when they rail against homosexuality but are pretty much OK with divorce? Isn't it foolish to accept the law against homosexuality from the Old Testament yet reject the food laws and slavery and laws against mixed textiles? My new article at Inside Sources answers this very question.
The article was picked up by The Intelligencer as well.
I think that most Americans would agree that Dylan Roof's killing of nine black church-goers last week qualifies as a hate crime, particularly because of his white-supremacist background and racist rant while he slew his victims. His act demonstrates the worst sort of depravity. But what is a hate crime and why is it a special kind of crime?
What most Americans do not understand is that all crimes are hate crimes, and that in God's sight, hate itself is a crime.
Let me address the latter assertion first: hate itself is a crime under divine law.
Leviticus 19:17 - You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
1 John 2:9 - He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
1 John 3:15 - Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 4:20 - If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
Matthew 5:44-45 - But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
The Christian God commands that all people love God and love their neighbors as themselves. Hatred is the same as breaking this "great commandment" and God's assigned punishment for this crime is eternal death (Romans 6:23).
Now for the assertion that all crimes are "hate crimes."
Google shows the definition of hate crime to be "a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence."
My definition of crime is broader than the secular definition because I count a true "crime" as an act against the law of God. Some things fall into this category which are legal but are not right in God's eyes.
My definition of hate crime is also broader than the secular definition because the motivation of all crime, whether directly or indirectly, is hate. Looking at it from another angle, crime arises from the self-love of the perpetrator rather than love for the victim.
- Did Dylan Roofs love his victims?
- Regardless of the skin color of the perpetrator or victim, does a mass shooter love his victims?
- Does the abortion doctor love his victim—or his pregnant patient?
- Does the gay couple who sues a cake maker (for not making a cake for them) love their victim?
- Do followers of the homosexual movement love their opponents when they send them death threats?
Obviously the answer to the above questions is a resounding NO in each case. Unfortunately, in an age where boy means girl and white means black, it is not certain that this obvious conclusion will be accepted.
Undoubtedly someone who opposes what I've said above will ask about a minister refusing to perform a gay wedding or a pastor preaching against homosexuality—aren't those hate crimes? Absolutely not! Under God's law, they are acts of love, not hate. To share with someone that their conduct and beliefs are ultimately destructive is not to hate them; it is rather to show love and compassion.
Under United States secular law as construed for the entire history of the nation, such actions (or lack of action) are protected as free exercise of religion and speech; they are not criminal acts; and they certainly don't involve violence. These acts are not motivated by sexual prejudice, for the Christian motivation is not a mere preconceived opinion. Rather, the motivation is love for God and love for neighbor.
Judging the internal motivations is a very slippery task. I think we should forget about categorizing crimes into different types by motivation, and simply punish crimes uniformly.
Murder is murder—whether it it arose out of personal malice or impersonal prejudice. It took a life, no matter what the color, gender, sexuality, etc. Murder is a hate crime, and all hate is a crime too.
This post came out of a study of 1 John 3:10-24.
I applaud Ken Ham for reminding us tonight that the human race is ONE race, not many, not black and white, not brown and yellow, but one race, from Adam and Eve. He wrote some helpful comments in his related twitter posts @aigkenham:
There is only one race of people biologically—Adam's race. Everyone has the same skin color, brown. There are no black or white people—all are shades of brown. Next time you fill out a form that asks what race you are, write "Adam's"
Unfortunately, his post was briefly sullied by a commentator named Gary (full name not included here) who says that God cursed Noah's son Ham (not to be confused with Ken Ham), sent him to a tropical climate, and darkened his skin in punishment for what he did to his dad.
I wrote to Gary directly on his Facebook page, and also tried to write a reply to challenge his comment on Ken's post. My reply was disallowed, I believe because either he himself or Facebook quickly deleted his racist comment. That happened, by the way, less than 25 minutes after he made the remark at about 10:30 eastern time. So, I am copying what I wrote here in my blog so that others searching online will be able to find yet another refutation of this deplorable interpretation.
Gary, yours is an old and very bad interpretation of Genesis 9:21-27. This interpretation is especially odious because it was used to justify the enslavement of black people. I challenge you to review the passage and show us from the text (1) that Ham uncovered Noah; (2) that God sent Ham to a tropical climate; (3) that God miraculously darkened Ham's skin; and (4) that God cursed Ham at all. I don't find those assertions anywhere in the text, yet you make all of them in your three lines of false teaching. Here are the facts: (1) Noah became uncovered by himself because he was drunk; (2) The text doesn't say God sent Ham to a tropical climate; (3) The text doesn't say that God darkened Ham's skin; and (4) God did not curse Ham—the text says that God cursed Canaan!
The Christian pastor's job description includes silencing those who are empty talkers and deceivers (Titus 1:11). This is just such a case. Hopefully the truth will embarrass Gary into silence. It is impossible to make an apologetic for racism out of Genesis 9.
Christians often reflect on what they have been saved FROM. We need to also carefully consider what we have been saved TO. The privileges that we obtain, by God's grace through salvation, are amazing. They surpass some of the blessings that saints of old experienced. Those who don't share what we have ought to be jealous because of what we have! Here are three:1. Friendship with God
Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11).
Jesus said, "You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).2. Favored Status before God
To Mary, it was said, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28).
Of all believers, the Bible says that God has "predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us highly favored in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:5-6, slightly adapted from NKJV to reflect that the same verb is used here as in Luke 1:28).3. Access to the King and Privilege to Make Petitions
"We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). "In Him we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:12). "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).
We don't have the same face-to-face access to God that say Moses had, but later on that will change: "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads" (Revelation 22:3-4).
There are more such blessings. I hope to add to this list soon.
I have written an outline of the book of Acts. Hopefully it will be a help to you. I like the six major sections, but the symmetry of the headings could be improved so that all six focus on the church instead of #4 focusing on Herod and #6 on Paul. It is a work in progress, but it is getting close!
The public reading of Scripture is an essential part of Biblical worship.
Part of the Christian worship service must include the reading aloud of the Bible from the pulpit so that all can hear and understand. I am not talking about a few verses here or there. I am talking about a substantial portion of Scripture each and every week, if not more often.
1. The Bible says to do so in 1 Timothy 4:13. I understand the verse to be expressing what should happen in a public worship service of the church. The entire book is about that subject (1 Tim. 3:15). The accompanying activities of exhortation and doctrine are public activities. Therefore, I take the 'reading' command to refer to a public activity.
2. Your people are not reading like they should. I speak on average or "in the main" or "generally." Many times I've heard people say, "The problems you describe in your church are the same as every church experiences." Fair enough, and probably true for the most part. So, I figure if my church has a problem reading Scripture, and if I personally have found in my life that it is difficult to maintain the discipline of private reading, then probably some other churches have experienced the same problem! I know, you've preached on how the members of the church should regularly read Scripture. You protest: "They are being disobedient by not reading!" Yes, I know. But I figured out that I cannot moan and groan about their lack of discipline. I have to do something about it. If the sheep aren't feeding themselves God's word, you have to do it. Read to them!
3. In Nehemiah 8, the Bible models the public reading of Scripture, and the great blessing that comes from it. The leaders in Israel spent a better part of the day reading the Law to the people. The people went home with joy "because they understood the words that were declared to them" (Neh. 8:12).
4. Your reading, if prepared and done properly, can aid your people to understand the Bible. Sometimes all it takes is a different emphasis on the words or a new inflection, or a key pause, to trigger a thought in the mind of the hearer. These artifacts of reading are not adding to Scripture; rather they are helping the listener to think carefully about what they are hearing. That is when the light bulb moment just may occur.
5. Many people are auditory learners. Some are not good readers. Some have taken your language as a second language and find it difficult to read and understand the Bible on their own. Some cannot read at all. In many places in the globe, the people are in the same situation as were those in most past ages who did not have a copy of Scripture at all.
The NET Bible comment at 1 Timothy 4:3 is helpful: "The public reading of scripture refers to reading the scripture out loud in the church services. In a context where many were illiterate and few could afford private copies of scripture, such public reading was especially important."
Since 2008 in our church on Sunday evenings we have read 37 entire books of the Bible. Most evenings we read two chapters of a book. The next week we read the next two chapters, until the book is completed. Sometimes we read three chapters if they are short; sometimes one if they are very long. We alternate between New and Old Testament books. We are presently reading Daniel. We started with Romans.
I do not insist on the practice in every evening service, for when we set aside the one Sunday night per month for the Lord's Table, we do not generally read the chapters on that night.
There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. If you read 2 chapters per week for say 40 weeks every year, then it will take over 14 years to read the entire Bible. That's a long time. But if you don't start now, one thing is guaranteed: you will never finish. And another thing is also guaranteed: some of your people will never get through the Bible either. What an impoverished Christian existence that would be!
The Word of God is the power of God to salvation. You were born again through the imperishable living Word. You are made wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus by the Holy Scriptures. These things were written that you may have eternal life. So...read!
During an interactive Sunday school class on the topic of evangelism last weekend, a question came up about the gift or office of evangelist. The question was about the nature of the spiritual gift and how can it be "measured." Does an evangelist do what all Christians do, just with a higher "batting average" or number of converts?
One of the main points of the class was that there is a sense in which all Christians are evangelists. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:19-20). We must be involved in the Great Commission. We are not excused from that duty because there exist "specialized" evangelists with extra abilities from God to proclaim the gospel.
In short, the gift of "evangelism" is the ability imparted by the Holy Spirit in a person that enables him to be able to communicate the truth of the gospel clearly and persuasively. The gift is not measured by quantity of converts.
An evangelist has this special ability and a corresponding burden to preach the gospel to lost people and see them gathered into churches, whether on a far-away mission field or in the community where there is already a local church.
The evangelist (Acts 21:8, Eph 4:11, 2 Tim 4:5) is what we today call a missionary church planter. A man who is gifted as an evangelist preaches the gospel to unbelievers and gathers converts into churches. There will be a variety of levels of "success" among those gifted as evangelists because of differences in personal ability (gifting) and also the condition of the field to which he has been called.
The term evangelist is used in fundamentalist circles as a shorthand for an itinerant revival preacher who equips the saints and preaches the gospel. But such a minister is really an exhorter, someone gifted in exhortation (Rom 12:8). His function in the church is valid and helpful, but I would not call him an evangelist.
There is a question about whether evangelist is an office or a gift. In other words, someone may ask of the Eph 4:11 passage, "are these offices, or gifts?" as if there is a big difference between the two. I do not believe that we have to make a hard distinction between the gifts and the gifted men indicated there who may hold offices in the church. I take it that certain men fill the roles or functions listed, and that these functions required gifted ability. Both the functions themselves and the men that carry them out are gifts to the church.
I do not see anywhere in the New Testament that requires an office of evangelist in every local church. Nor can it be sustained from Scripture that the evangelist has a priority over the pastor or teacher in the church. Our Lord taught us not to think like unbelievers regarding authority structures (Mark 10:42-45).
A helpful article on this subject was written a number of years ago by Dr. William Combs of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.
If you have been absent from church for a while and would like to go this coming weekend, I can recommend several. Here are some in our area:
|If you are in or near...||Then check out...||Service Times|
|Hamburg, Pinckney||Hiawatha Bible Church||Sunday 8:30am breakfast, 9:30am, 10:45am, 6:30pm|
|Brighton, Hartland||Tri-Lakes Baptist Church||Sunday 9:30am, 10:30am, 5pm|
|Ypsilanti||Faithway Baptist Church||Friday 7pm; Sunday 8:30am breakfast, 9:30am, 10:30am, 5:30pm|
|Howell, Fowlerville||Fellowship Bible Church of Howell||Friday 6pm dinner, 7pm; Sunday 5:30pm|
|Ann Arbor, Dexter, Saline, Milan||Fellowship Bible Church of Ann Arbor||Friday 7pm; Sunday 8:30am breakfast, 9:40am, 10:45am|