President Vows to End Taxophobia

This morning, in a much-anticipated move, President Obama and Vice-President Biden officially announced that they have changed their minds on whether Republicans should be allowed to believe in lower taxation.

At a televised press conference in the Rose Garden they unveiled plans for legislation that will force Republicans to abandon their opposition to higher taxes. It’s a move that’s been widely trailed as the President recently spoke of his evolving position on the matter and the Vice-President “accidentally” let their plans slip in a TV interview.

The President was at pains to speak of his respect for the Republican party and all that they had contributed to American life through the years. He also emphasized that he was not out to stop all that the Republicans believed in – just this one policy.

“They can still be Republicans, of course they can. This is a democracy after all. We’re simply saying that they must stop their bigoted support of lower taxation. We cannot tolerate this kind of intolerance in our modern world.”

An End To Taxophobia
Vice-President Biden pointed to recent opinion polls that showed support for higher taxes had reached 51%. “This clearly shows that the public wants an end to low taxes, and we intend to end it once and for all.” Biden went on, “Taxophobia has to stop and we will be using every possible means to end it in our time.”

The only question from the carefully assembled banks of nodding and supportive journalists, came from Megyn Hannity of Wolf News who challenged the President and Vice-President on statements they made in last year’s campaign interviews and debates where they promised that they had no plans to change the law or outlaw opposition to higher taxes.”

A red-faced Biden blurted out, “Woman, I’ve had enough of your pompous hate and blustering bile over the years. Let me warn you that it’s not just Republicans we’re after, but we’ll take you down too if you or your pathetic excuse of a TV channel dares to oppose this.”

Undaunted, the brave Megyn Hannity stood up and asked the Vice-President if he was aware that only 1.7% of the population would benefit from higher taxes and even most of them didn’t want the government to go so far as actually banning belief in lower taxes?

Biden spluttered, “You stupid conservative. This isn’t about helping the 1.7%. We don’t care about them. This is about ostracizing Republicans and stirring up hatred against them.”

Nothing To Fear
At that point a somewhat alarmed President Obama stepped in with some smooth and soothing re-assurances. “Joe’s just being Joe,” he smiled, “Let me be clear. No one has anything to fear as long as they agree with us and go along with the law.”

“Let me be clear. Supporters of low taxation are on the wrong side of history. The argument is over and public opinion is on our side. Some might say, Isn’t it enough to simply pass laws for higher taxes and leave those who believe in lower taxes alone? The simple answer to that is No. This is a civil rights issue. The day has passed when high-taxers should have to put up with anyone criticizing their choices and highlighting the downsides and damage of their policies.

“Let me be clear. We must send a message to every high-taxer that they will never hear anyone oppose them or argue against them again. We stand with them to say that we’ve had enough of such hate, abuse, prejudice, and bias. Low-taxism belongs in the dumpster of history together with racism, sexism, fascism, and fat-ism.

“Let me be clear about the impact of this legislation:

  • From now on, if anyone wants to do business with the federal government they will have to complete the “high-tax support pledge.”
  • Any businessman who has donated to low tax campaigns in the past will be forced to “resign.”
  • Any employee discovered to have low-tax inclinations will be given diversity training to ensure that there is no diverging from this view.
  • We will make sure that no one can ever run for office again who supports lower taxes.
  • Charitable status will be denied to any organization that extends charity to taxophobes.
  • In light of recent hate-filled incidents we’ve added the requirement that no one can refuse to bake a cake, make a bouquet, or take photographs for high-tax promotional events.
  • We are also adding a high-tax mandate to Obamacare that no one will be allowed an exemption from (apart from Democrats and donors to my campaign).

It’s the right thing to do. Is that clear? I said, Is that clear?

“Yes, Mr. President,” echoed the White House press corps as they stood to applaud the bravery and courage of the president before joining him for lunch in the West Wing.


14 Kinds of Seeker

There’s a word that I used to hear a lot growing up in Scottish churches, but I don’t here much of it today. That word is “seeker.” Maybe it’s because there are less seekers around. Or perhaps it’s because it’s too commonly assumed that people brought up in the church are already found and don’t have any seeking to do. Or have we made conversion so quick and easy that there’s never any struggle, search, pursuit, or seeking – just quick and easy finding as soon as anyone shows any interest?

Whatever the reason, it would help “seekers” if we acknowledged they exist and that there are many different kinds of them with many different and challenging needs. Here are a few I’ve come across in ministry.

1. Convicted seeker: This seeker is experiencing conviction of sin but does not know what to do. There is a deep sense of guilt but little knowledge of the Gospel or of grace.

2. Fearful seeker: This seeker is afraid of dying and of judgment. He is seeking relief from that fear but maybe not deliverance from sin.

3. Frustrated seeker: Someone who has been seeking Christ but cannot find Him. May be angry that all her effort has not produced any result. May have a sense that God owes her.

4. Confused seeker: Often a child or a young person who is uncertain about their spiritual state. Or may be an adult believer who is lacking assurance. She may be saved but lack of assurance makes her think she isn’t and needs to be.

5. Unwilling seeker: This person is seeking but does not realize it or does not want to recognize it. God is sovereignly at work in his life, seeking him out. The person may be responding by seeking out sin to quieten God’s voice and conscience pangs, but it is still a God-given seeking.

6. Skeptical seeker: Perhaps a disillusioned ex-cult member or just someone who has tried a few other religions without success. Still looking for something but doubts he or she will find.

7. Hopeless seeker: Someone who has been seeking for a long time and has never “found.” She feels she will never be saved, that the Lord will never show her mercy, but she doesn’t give up on the means of grace in public or in private. She may feel that she had committed the unpardonable sin.

8. Half-hearted seeker: He is seeking in some ways and at some times but not in all ways and not all the time. Remember: And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.

9. Sinful seeker: Wants Christ but isn’t prepared to give up a favorite sin.

10. Dramatic conversion seeker: Will only be satisfied with a radical and spectacular divine intervention or voice.

11. The “distant” seeker: This person is seeking but doesn’t really want you to know about it. Frames questions objectively and impersonally.

12. Ignorant seeker: He is seeking but has no idea what for. Interested in religion and spirituality but perhaps little conviction of sin.

13. Happy feelings seeker: Looking for joy, peace, happiness, but not God.

14. Passive seeker: Says she is seeking but it’s really more a passive waiting than an active pursuing. May be based on a false view of the sovereignty of God.

What other kinds of seeker have you come across?


Check out

Weekend Reading

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns ($2.00). What I’d like to know is “Why And How Humans Love Dogs.” Who can decode that?

The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan by Ben Macintyre ($2.56). A captivating story-teller.

Renewing Your Mind: Basic Christian Beliefs You Need to Know by R. C. Sproul ($3.03)

John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy (Studies in Baptist Life and Thought) by David S. Dockery and Roger D. Duke ($0.99)

Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend ($5.99).

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noël Piper ($1.99)

The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables by Jared C. Wilson ($1.89)

The Cross and Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians  by D. A. Carson ($1.99)

Check out

A Biblical Theology of Sleep | The Christward Collective

7 Signs We May Be Worshipping Our Family | TGC

6 + 1 Types of Typology

The Federal Vision, Ten Questions, and the Westminster Standards

What percentage of Americans are gay?

What a Difference Six Years Can Make | TGC

Strategic Evangelism: The Power of an Invitation | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer

10 Things I’d Do Differently if I Weren’t a Pastor Today | Ron Edmondson

Four Lessons in Fruitful Time-Management | Desiring God

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Birth Control’ | Christianity Today

What A Christian Woman Knows About Beauty « THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT

How to (and how NOT to) Minister to Families Battling Cancer

Is the unwavering belief in the value of college justified? | Alex Chediak

Job is a Book About Jesus: An Interview with Christopher Ash | Bible Gateway Blog

How to share the Gospel with someone who thinks all Christians are hypocrites

7 Different Ways to Read a Book | Challies Dot Com

Ten Simple (But Critical) Questions to Consider in Marriage Counseling | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blog

BBC – Future – Can you learn in your sleep?

American Families Are Right To Be Worried About Inflation

Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy – David R. Wheeler – The Atlantic

The Ten Simple Tools Every Car Owner Needs

Three Tricks for Dealing with Anxiety In the Moment

Videos

3 Minutes to a Proper British Accent

The Empty Pickle Jar Movie

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

The Art of Fishing

Europe 24

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables


Top 10 Puritan Books On Sin

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:

Now, I can’t say that I’ve ever been asked for my “Top 10 Books on Sin” (not exactly a list of bestsellers), but as we’ve been looking at the subject of sin the last few days I thought I’d highlight the books that I and others have found most helpful. We’ll start today with the Top 10 Puritan Books on Sin and next week I’ll post Top 10 Modern Books on Sin.

If you know of other good Puritan books on this topic in general or dealing with specific sins, please leave your suggestion in the comments and I’ll add them under “Reader Suggestions.”

1. Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen

Overcoming Sin and Temptation includes three of Owen’s classic works: “Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers,” “Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It,” and “Indwelling Sin.” The editors have updated the language and added other features to make Owen’s writing much more accessible.

2. The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin by Kris Lundgaard

This book is also based upon two of Owen’s classic books on sin, but Lundgraard offers lots of his own insight, encouragement, and counsel too. To give you an idea of the level it’s pitched at our church youth group went through this book last Spring.

3. Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks

A balanced look at spiritual warfare. A deeply spiritual book that is especially good for those in the heat of the battle.

4. The Evil of Evils: The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin (Puritan Writings) by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Evil of Evils contains sixty-seven short chapters that will sensitize your conscience and make you want to choose affliction rather than sin. Difficult to find a copy of this today but you can download a pdf here.

5. Keeping the Heart: How to maintain your love for God by John Flavel

A timeless book on maintaining union and fellowship with God as the ultimate bulwark against sin.

6. The Mischief of Sin by Thomas Watson

Watson: “My design in this small treatise is to give check to sinners and sound a pious retreat in their ears, to make them return from hot pursuit of their impieties.”

7. Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning

First published in the aftermath of the Great Plague of London and entitled Sin, The Plague of Plagues, this book gives a crystal-clear explanation of what sin is, why it is so serious, and what we need to do about it. Here is reliable medicine for a fatal epidemic.

8. Sin The Greatest Evil by Samuel Bolton 

Three titles in this book, each of them looking at how a sinner is converted. (1) Sin: The Greatest Evil, (2) The Conversion of a Sinner, (3) The One Thing Necessary.

9. The Jerusalem Sinner Saved; or, Good News for the Vilest of Men by John Bunyan

A hope-filled book for sinners as the title says, “Good News for the Vilest of Men.”

10. The Anatomy of Secret Sins by Obadiah Sedgwick

Reader Suggestions

Any other Puritan works you’d recommend on this subject? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll add them here.

The Mystery of Selfedeceiving; Or, a Discourse and Discovery of the Deceitfulnesse of Mansheart by Daniel Dyke.

Instructions About Heart-work, and a Companion for Prayer by Richard Alleine

A Treatise on Satan’s Temptations by Richard Gilpin.

 

 


14 Sobering Reminders When Confronting Sin

The last couple of days we’ve been looking at the important, difficult, and oft-avoided duty of confronting or rebuking sin. We looked at the general attitude we should have when approaching someone about their sin and then listed a bank of 30 questions to ask when challenging sin.  Today I want to suggest 14 truths to remember throughout this process:

  • Remember the depth of sin: This is not some shallow simple matter. It has deep origins and roots in the unfathomable depths of the human heart.
  • Remember the width of sin: Sin impacts every part of our beings – bodies, minds, emotions, desires, imaginations, personalities, relationships, and so on.
  • Remember the length of sin: Long-term habits are not easy to break – they create default pathways in our brain that we all too easily and automatically travel down.
  • Remember the height of sin: It is against God, the Holy and infinite God of heaven and earth.
  • Remember the power of sin: The person’s whole life may be dominated and consumed by it.
  • Remember the damage of sin: The destructive consequences for the person, his relationship with God, and his relationship with others.
  • Remember the love of sin: He is not doing it because he hates it but because he loves it and gets pleasure from it – no matter how temporary.
  • Remember the confusion of sin: It is illogical and irrational and makes those committing it illogical and irrational. You cannot rely on reasoning to defeat sin.
  • Remember the context of sin: Without absolving a person of responsibility, consider some of the factors that may have contributed to this person’s sin – genetic, social, providential, relationship factors. Other people’s sins may have triggered this sin.
  • Remember the memory of sin: Even when a person is delivered from it, the memory will often remain and continue to tempt.
  • Remember the deceitfulness of sin: We deny, downplay, shift blame, minimize, excuse, etc.
  • Remember the despair of sin: A person be hopelessly overwhelmed with shame and guilt.
  • Remember the ignorance of sin: Through ignorance, custom, context or seared conscience, a person may not realize what they are doing is sinful.
  • Remember the companions of sin: it rarely comes alone but brings lots of “friends” with it.

These reminders keep us serious, humble, and prayerful throughout this process.

But we must also remember the encouraging wonder of Christ’s glorious person and saving work. His redemption is deeper, wider, longer, and higher than any sin. His salvation is more powerful than sin and can heal the deepest wound. His love can expel and replace the love of sin. He can straighten out the most confused situation. He can overcome the most handicapping of contexts. He can produce total honesty in the most deceived and deceiving of hearts. He gives hope to the despairing, light to the ignorant, and sends many powerful and friendly graces along with His salvation.

Where sin abounds, there grace much more abounds!


30 Questions To Ask A Sinner

In How Do Sinners Help Sinners to Stop Sinning we began to look at the kind of approaches we need to take when trying to help a sinner stop sinning. Personal experience and the Lord’s dealing with sinners teach us that it’s often better to question than to accuse, at least to begin with. It’s usually more productive if the other person supplies the answers and draws the conclusions rather than us telling them.

So what are good questions to ask? What questions are most likely to produce honest answers, contrite conclusions, and repentant action? Here’s a bank of questions that I’ve built up over the years, some of them from my own experience and some of them I’ve learned from others.

NB: I’m not suggesting that you ask every question every time or that this is the order to follow! That’s where prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit comes in as we ask THE Counselor for His wisdom and blessing. So much depends upon the person, our relationship to them, and the situation.

DOUBLE NB: Ask yourself the questions first!!

  • Do you have any spiritual/mental/emotional/physical/moral/relational difficulties?
  • What did you do?
  • When do you do it?
  • When did you start doing this?
  • How often do you do this?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • When do you find yourself doing this or wanting to do it?
  • What has this sin cost you/others?
  • How has this sin damaged you/others?
  • What do you gain from this sin?
  • What do you think about this sin and its consequences?
  • Do you want to stop?
  • What have you tried?
  • Have you ever succeeded in stopping?
  • Is the problem getting better or worse?
  • What are the usual steps that lead you into this sin?
  • Are there any common factors/places/people that lead to this sin?
  • Have you taken any precautions?
  • Do you know what God’s Word says about this sin?
  • What are you trying to achieve/attain through this sin?
  • Is there anyone else involved in this sin with you?
  • Where and how do you think I can help you?
  • Do you see a way out of this sin?
  • Do you know where this sin will take you?
  • Are you a Christian? Are you a believer in Jesus Christ?
  • What do you understand by “Christian”?
  • How were you converted?
  • What resources do you depend upon in your life? Family, friends, colleagues, Church.
  • What does your devotional life look like?
  • Do you have any other spiritual struggles and temptations?

And remember, people answer questions with their bodies as well as their tongues! Watch for changes in facial expressions, posture, and eye-contact. Listen for changes in tone of voice, volume, hesitation, etc.

What other questions have you found useful in speaking to people about sin? Please add them in the comments.