Friday, July 27, 2012

Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer against Abortion?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In his new biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author Eric Metaxas quotes Bonhoeffer's thought.
“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”[1]
Bonhoeffer was crystal clear on the morality of abortion. It is murder.

[1] Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (p. 472). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, quoting from Bonhoeffer's book, Ethics.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Should We Fear Lest Our Works be Inadequate?

Most serious Christian thinkers consider Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) one of the greatest Evangelicals in church history. Justification by faith alone dominated his writing. Yet, in their new book The Theology of Jonathan Edwards, the authors note, "Edwards...warned that 'a man is not justified by faith only, but also by works,'  when works are understood as the proper 'acts or expressions of faith.'" (McClymond and McDermott, pg 29). In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus makes the same point. Listen carefully...

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’"(Matthew 7:21–23).

The bottom line is this. Doing the will of God matters. Before we discuss why it matters, I want to define what it means to do the will of God. Negatively, it does not mean perfection.

Positively, it means a life of active surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It means that you have seated Christ on the throne of your life. It means, when the Holy Spirit brings conviction, an increasing pattern of obedience follows. It means an increasing desire to confess sin and admit error. It involves the daily renunciation of all rights and a growing longing to pay any price to obey the Holy Spirit.

Abraham lied about his wife to Pharaoh and Abimelech. He slept with Hagar. Yet, the Bible considers him a man who did the will of God.

David was an adulterer and murderer, but the Bible describes him as a man who was a doer of God’s word.

Although doing the will of God does not mean perfection, this text tells us that doing God’s Will matters because Heaven and Hell hang in the balance.

(Mt 7:21) "“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

You might object. Is Jesus saying that works save? Doesn’t Jesus know that we are justified by faith alone?

Yes, we are justified by faith alone, a faith that clothes us in Christ’s righteousness without which no one will see God. But Jesus’ point is this: Saving faith is never alone. Practical holiness always follow. That is true for several reasons.

First, works follow faith because the faith that flows from New Birth involves a heart transplant. This heart transplant is the righteousness that Jesus seeks. It is the righteousness that the Pharisees lacked. It is the righteousness promised by the prophets to all New Testament believers.

(Jeremiah 31:33) "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

When God writes His law on our hearts we begin to change. Why? Because that is the purpose of our salvation, and God does not save us aimlessly.

(Eph 2:10) "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Therefore, we should not be surprised when James tells us that we cannot separate faith and works. James does not contradict Paul’s emphasis on justification by faith alone. Rather, James tells us that our works testify to our faith.

(Jas 2:14) "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?"

(Jas 2:17) "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

(Jas 2:22) "You see that faith was active along with [Abraham’s] works, and faith was completed by his works."

(Jas 2:24) "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Second, works always follow saving faith because saving faith is a growing “conviction” about the truths believed. (Heb 11:1) “Faith is the conviction of things not seen.”

This conviction comes by a transfer of facts from head to heart. Saving faith enthrones itself in the heart, not the head. (Rom 10:10) “For with the heart one believes and is justified.”

Their conviction of faith motivates action. In the same way, everyone acts from their convictions.

If I stand up in a crowded theatre and yell, “Fire” you will respond based upon your conviction that I know what I am talking about.

Saving faith is the same way. It is like a sword with two edges. It increasingly believes from the heart (with conviction) in both the threats and promises that litter scripture. Action always follows this conviction. For example, what level of conviction do you feel about Mat 13:41-42?

"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In the same way, those who have a conviction about God’s promised rewards act. True faith increasingly counts the loss of everything to be most trivial compared to the value of gaining Christ.

(Mt 13:45-46) "“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. "

So this is why James says that our deeds justify us. They don’t earn Heaven. Rather, they point to the existence of saving faith. In the same way, on the Day of Judgment, God will look to our works to prove our faith.

(Re 20:11-12) "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."

In Conclusion, changing desires, convictions, longings, and behaviors are our most powerful assurances that God has given us New Birth.

(1 Jn 2:29) "You may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him."

(1 Jn 3:18-19) "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can Government be a False God?

Governement Spending Per Capita 1800-1990
The size and scope of federal government has exploded during my short life time. The chart at the right shows the growth from 1800 to 1990 in inflation adjusted dollars per capita. It is MUCH higher today.

Expansion of the State happens to the degree that it becomes a God substitute. We worship civil government when we ask it to provide what only God can provide. We deify the state when we look to it  for meaning, ultimate security, ultimate justice, and salvation from the effects of human folly (sin). The technical term for this expectation is "Statism." It is an ugly form of idolatry.

To the degree that a culture moves away from the living God a vacuum occurs. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something will fill it. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Throughout history the State has been the god-substitute of choice. It began with F.D.R. in the 1930s when he began the Social Security program. It was the first significant expression of statism in U.S. history. The State would now take care of the aged, a job biblically delegated to the family.

In the 1960s Lyndon Johnson instituted the "war against poverty." "We will eradicate poverty in our lifetimes," he promised. After 50 years and a three trillion dollar spent on the poor, the percent of those in poverty has edged up from 14% to 14.5%. The State as Savior is not saving. The Bible delegates care for the poor to church and family. Most U.S. citizens today assume the opposite. Taking care of the poor is the State's responsibility, not ours.
The State is a tyrannical deity. The God of scripture only asks 10%, but U.S. Government now takes over 40% of our national wealth, and it wants more! The State also controls and restricts freedom. Like the God of scripture it demands our worship. It will have no other gods before it. We should not be surprised that the State has been the primary persecutor of Christianity for 2,000 years.

Jesus gave us the formular for freedom. "If you abide (obey) my word you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (Jn. 8:31-32). Jesus primary reference was to spiritual freedom. But his words also have a secondary political application. When a culture abides in God's word, knows God's word, and obeys God's word it relies upon God, not the State. The God of the Bible is gracious. He does not oppress. He is not tyranical. To the degree that we worship God, the State shrivels and political freedom flourishes.

As we approach the polls this Fall, let us keep this in mind. Government has taken a massive and unprecedented expansion since Obama came to power. At the root of this expansion is "Statism." Let us pray for our country and vote our conscience.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Free Copy of The Most Influential Missionary Bio of the 19th Century

David Brainerd 1718-47
In the summer of 2008 Judy and I visited Northhamptn Massachusetts., the home of the great 18th century theologian, Jonathan Edwards. In Edwards' home David Brainerd died of tuberculosis in 1747. He was only 29. During that time Edwards teen daughter, Jerusha, nursed him. A few months later she also died.

Rumors of romance have swirled around the couple ever since.
Because of their closeness the Edwards family buried Jerusha in a grave paralell to Brainerd.

Brainerd was one of the first missionaires to the Native Americans. He left a journal of his work in the Edwards home. Jonathan edited and published it, and it became his best selling work. For the next 150 years Brainerd's piety and exertions became the model for thousands of 19th century missionaries.

Knowing all of this, Judy and I went to the local cemetery looking for their graves. Long forgotten by the citizen of Northhampton, no one could direct us to their resting places. Finally we found two deteriorating slabs about 12 x 18 inches surrounded by weeds and dead grass. They marked the graves of Brainerd and his nurse, Jerusha. As the condition of their graves indicated their rewards were not in this life, but in the world to come.

I have said all of this because John Piper has just published a free online 30 page biography of Brainerd. It is a condensation of Edwards' original work. You can find it here. I hope you will take the time to read and  learn about this godly man.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are we God's Image or Worms?

Davinci Viewed Man Through A Greek Lens
How should we think about ourselvses? The ancient Greeks believed that man was the measure of all things. But the Hebrew mindset believed that God was the measure of all things. There is a massive, unbridgeable gap between these two worldviews.

The contemporary world view is Greek. It exhorts us to love, esteem, honor, and exalt humanity. Why? We are wonderful. Christians, influenced by this worldview reason, "don't you know that you are made in God's image and likeness?" The problem is not that this is false. It is that they stop here.

The biblical view of self  is more nuanced. It presents us with two contrasting ideas that must always be held in tension.

First, God made man in his image and likeness. We are the crown of God's creation. This means that, contrary to the views of PETA, people are not just another species. We are infinitely more important than other animal species.

However, on the other hand, because we are sinners, the Bible also describes us with numerous belittleing terms . For example, Isaiah 41:14 and Job 25:4-6 refert to us as worms. Yup. That's right. Those slimy, finger length insectoids that thrive in our lawns. In fact, when Jesus took our sin upon himself he stooped and referred to himself as a "worm and not a man" (Ps. 22:6).

In addition, Psalm 62:9 refers to mankind as a "breath...lighter than a delusion," Ps 78:39 a "wind that passes by and does not return," Psalm 39:6 a "shadow," Psalm 73:20 a dream that one soon forgets upon awakening, and Psalm 92:5-6 grass that renews in the morning but has withered by evening. With all of this in mind David asks, "What is man that you would you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him" (Ps 8:4)?

How do we assimilate these contrasting ideas? First, of all we are creatures, but although creatures we are unique because God made us in his "image and likeness." God has given us value that the animals do not share. God values people in a unique way.

But second, sin has deformed us. It has tarnished the "image and likeness." It has twisted and distorted it. In fact, it makes us positively disgusting to God. That is why the Bible continually uses the word "abominable" to describe how God sees us in our sinful estate. We are his enemies (Isa 63:10, Rom 5:10).

But that is not the end of this story. The Bible records an astounding truth . Such is the love of God, that in this state, he sent his Son to die for us. Jesus suffered infinite torments to save, not friends, but enemies. that is why God commands us to love our enemies. We would be massive hyprocrites if we didn't at least try.
So, what is our conclusion? We have inherent value and dignity, not because we are good, not because we have earned it. Just the opposite. We have inherent value because, despite our lack of merit, God loves us. He paid the supreme sacrifice to redeem us.

This view of humanity transfers all boasting from man to God, and that is how it should be. It humbles us. It makes God the measure of all things.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Christianity Intellectually Defensible?

Twenty five years ago I tried to share the gospel with a business friend. He politely responded that, given all the evil in the world, he could not possibly believe in a good God. This was the first time that I was confronted with the problem of evil, and I didn't know how to answer him.

I Just finished a delightful new book titled A Shot of Faith to the Head by Dr. Mitch Stokes. Had I read it thirty years ago, I would have had an intelligent, unanswerable response to my my friend.

The author received his doctorate in philosophy at Notre Dame under tutelage of the world's foremost Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga. He now teaches at New Saint Andrews in Moscow, Idaho. Plantinga's thought has single-handedly turned many secular departments of philosophy into bations of theism. This book gives the layman a clear, easy to understand, tour of Plantinga's thought.

Stokes devotes the first third  to foundational ideas. Then he attacks two of the "new atheists" major "defeaters" of the Christian worldview.  The first is the conflict between religion and science. Stokes shows that there really is no conflict. Science does not disprove theism. Rather, science, properly understood,  aggresively points to the evidence of a designer.

The last third of the book tackles the problem of evil. The problem of evil suggests that, because their is evil, pain, and suffering in the world, God can't be both good and soveriegn.  Therefore, God must be either good but not sovereign, i.e. he cannot stop evil. Or, he is sovereign but not good. He can stop evil, but he does not choose to do so.

Stokes first answer is the cross. What if evil turns out to be inherently productive? What if ultimately, the good that comes from evil turns out to greatly outweight the pain and suffering? That must be true. Why? Because God sent his Son into the world to endure incomprehensible suffering. He did it to acheive a greater good than there would have existed without that suffering.

In addition, if there is no God there cannot possibly be any such thing as either "good" or "evil," and without "evil" the problem of evil disappears. Stokes shows that atheists cannot argue for the existence of evil from their world-view.

In fact, Stokes conclude, it is atheism, not theism, that is irrational. “The notions of design, rationality, and absolute standards cannot exist in a naturalistic world, in the world of the atheists. Without absolute standards—of which there must be many—their worldview would entirely collapse. And this poses a serious problem for any atheist who claims that belief in God is irrational. In fact, it takes the legs right out from under such a claim. If there is no designer, then there is no proper function, and therefore there is no such thing as irrationality. But then there’s no such thing as rationality either. There’s only a sterile, impersonal “desert landscape.” Beliefs are neither rational nor irrational. They just are. But if the Christian story is true, then there is such a thing as irrationality. And as we saw, those who don’t believe in God are suffering from it.”  [1]

I reccomend this book highly.

[1] Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith to the Head, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012) Kindle Edition, location 3629

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is asking Jesus into your heart biblical?

Since the 1950s the standard response to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" has been, "Ask Jesus into your heart." However, this idea appears no where in scripture.

J. D. Greear, a Southern Baptist pastor, has written a perceptive article for Christianity Today. Titled "Should we stop asking Jesus into our hearts," it can be found here. Read and enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Does Personal Arrogance Look Like?

I am in my early sixties, but I still love to exercise. My weapon of choice is my 30 year old 18 speed touring bicycle that I  bought for $150 at a garage sale. Despite the price, it works great. A couple times a week I ride for exercise. I don’t go very far, and I don’t go very fast, but it is a great stress reliever. It keeps my blood pressure down.

I don’t have expensive bicycle clothing. When the weather is warm I wear an old black swimming suit and a Walmart moisture-wicking T shirt or light sweatshirt. My shoes are fifteen years old, my skin pasty white, and there is way too much body fat. (A reason for the exercise).
On a recent ride God spoke to me. About three miles out I got a flat tire. I pulled off to the side of the road and moved my bike into the ditch. (Did I also mention that I am not very mechanical?) Fifteen minutes later the repair was not progressing like the repair manual said it should.

Like a Good Samaritan, another cyclist riding by saw me in my predicament, and graciously pulled over to help. He was about forty, pedaling a $5,000 carbon-fiber road bike. He was wearing a professional  cycling outfit that probably cost $500. He was “sculpted.” He didn’t even have one percent body fat. His lightly bronzed skin covered muscles that bulged in all the right places.

“Can I help?” he graciously asked. He could see that I was in trouble.

 “I am having trouble changing my tire.”

From a hidden pocket he pulled a set of expensive, ultra-light bike tools and quickly helped me with the repair.

“How far are you riding today?” I asked.

“About sixty five miles. I’m training for a two hundred mile race. How about you? How far are you going?”

Slightly embarrassed  I responded, “About fifteen miles.” I didn’t volunteer that this was the longest ride I’d done in two months.

By this time I—the fat grampa on the thirty-year-old garage-sale-bike in the Walmart outfit—was feeling thoroughly intimidated. I was embarrassed. I wanted him to think well of me, but there wasn’t much chance.

I got back on my bike. My friend soon passed me and was just a blur on the horizon. I nursed my emotional wounds for a couple of miles. Just as I was starting to feel better, I saw two bicyclists way off in the distance. I was going faster. As I began to close with them I got a better look. It was too overweight people on one speed bikes, the kind with balloon tires, wobbling down the street at about five miles per hour. I quickly gained on them, and as I did I began to feel slightly superior.  Look at those slow moving fat people.  I am not like them. Its wonderful to be in such good shape.

Then the Holy Spirit’s sweet conviction came. Pride is the great sin. Few know that as well as I. I have written articles and books on this subject. Pride is the sin that feeds the all the others. It is the root system that nourishes all the other evils.

On this bike ride I had just witnessed two profound symptoms of that besetting sin in my own heart. The first was the feeling of intimidation I felt when the fit, serious cyclist stopped to help me fix my flat. I felt intimidated in his presence because wanted to be something that I wasn’t. I wasn’t a no-body-fat, sculpted guy with expensive equipment. I was just an overweight, sixty year old out for some exercise. I wasn’t happy with who I was, the stage of life I was in, or the body that God had given me. Humility would have contentedly thanked God for the way God made him, but pride is never content. It always lusts for more.  Humility would thank God for the superior person’s skills and abilities. But that was not me. I wanted to be something I wasn’t. That was Satan’s sin. “I will make myself like the most High” (Isa. 14:14). My feeling of intimidation was evidence of this terrible sin at work in my heart. 

The second symptom of pride was even worse. It was the condescending attitude that welled up in my heart as I passed the two fat bicyclists. Now the table had turned. I had the upper hand. I was actually looking down on another person who was in the exact position I had been in a few moments prior. It was rank Phariseeism. I looked down because I felt myself superior. It was ugly. I was proud. I needed a Savior!

The good news is this. The gospel gives me one. Jesus humbled himself an infinite distance. When I put my faith in him, his humility becomes mine, and i get exalted with his exaltation.

This is Good News indeed!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What do Americans Beleive about Creation and Evolution?

     A recent visual post by Christianity Today here gives a fascinating visual glimpse at what Americans believe about the Creation/Evolution debate. Check it out. I think yoiu will be surprised.

Girls Uncovered

I just finished Girls Uncovered by two gynecologists, McIlhaney and Bush. The book is an expose of the deady effect of the sexual revolution on girls and women. They repetively make the point that "sexual immorality is sexist." By that they mean it damages the female sex much more than the male sex.

The bottom line is that the sexual revolution has freed men and enslaved women. Here are some quotes.

“When it comes to the negative consequences of sexual activity, girls easily get the worst of it. Most of the cancer from HPV [human papiloma virus] occurs in women, and all of the long-term effects of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), such as infertility and pelvic pain, occur in women. When a boy gets a girl pregnant, he doesn’t carry the baby for nine months—she does. And she is usually the one who takes care of the baby once it is born. Girls also seem to suffer more depression than boys do after sexual relationships are broken.”[1]
“In a study that controlled other factors, researchers found that sexually active girls are three times as likely to report being depressed as virgins…In a different study, sexually active boys were found to be twice as likely to be depressed as their friends who were virgins. Even more startling and sad was the finding that sexually active girls were three times as likely to have attempted suicide as their virgin counterparts. The sexually active boys, however, were eight times as likely to have attempted suicide as their virgin friends.”[1]
Here is a great book for fathers and mothers who want to prepare their daughters for puberty and beyond.
I highly reccomend.

[1] McIlhaney, Jr., MD, Joe; Bush, MD, Jennifer A. (2012-01-01). Girls Uncovered (p. 69). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[1] Ibid, McIlhaney, Jr., MD, Joe; Shuford, MD, Jennifer A.(p. 112). 

Friday, July 6, 2012

We Reap What We Sow

God’s faithfulness does not do away with his discipline. God disciplines the sons that he loves. When we sin, God’s discipline comes to us in the form of reaping what we have sown. "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Abraham is a case study of this principle.

At the time of Isaac’s weaning (Gen. 21) Ishmael was somewhere between 15 and 16. Abraham loved Ishmael. He probably thinks that God’s promises will now come to pass through both Ishmael and Isaac. But that is and has never been God’s plan.

On the day of Isaac’s weaning, strife erupts between Sarah and Hagar. Sarah does not want her son to share the inheritance with Hagar’s son. For fifteen years there has been bad blood between Sarah and Hagar. (It started in Gen 16). It culminates in Genesis 21.

(Genesis 21:8–11) "8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son."

Sin doesn’t always produce a reaping. Sometimes God is merciful, and there is little or no reaping. (Think Pharaoh and Abimelech). That is not the case here. The reaping is deep, painful, and prolonged. It will mean heartbreak at Abraham’s separation from Ishmael, and it will mean enmity between the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac for millennia.

First, it will mean separation from Ishmael. God asks Abraham to reject his son through Hagar. But Abraham loves Ishmael. Ishmael has been his only heir for fifteen years. Abraham has convinced himself that all of God’s promises will come through Ishmael. In fact, when Ishmael was about 13 or 14, and Abraham was 99, God came to our hero and told him that Sarah is going to have a son. Here is how Abraham reacts.
(Genesis 17:18) "And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”"

He doesn’t want a son through Sarah. Why does Abraham feel this way? He loves Ishmael. He has invested himself in Ishmael. He has trained him as only a father who receives an only son in his old age would train him. He has doted on him. He is happy with Ishmael. He loves Ishmael. That is why when Sarah tells her husband, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” The text ends—11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son."

However, Abraham is a man of God. Because we feel his pain, we are astounded when he acts so decisively the next morning.

(Genesis 21:14) "14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba."

Since the beginning separation from those that he loves has characterized Abraham’s relationship with God. In fact, this theme permeates the Bible. (Luke 14:25–27) "25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

First at Abraham’s call God asked him to separate from his family, his clan, his father’s house and the country of his birth. Then later God asked him to separate from Lot. Now God commands him to separate from Ishmael. Ultimately, God will even ask Abraham to put God between himself and Isaac.

Brothers and sisters, it is the same with us. God will have no competing god’s in our lives. He expects us to love him so much more than those close to us that our love for them is like hatred compared to our love for God. So, he must reject Ishmael the child of his unbelief. He must reap what he has sown.

Second, subsequent generations will also reap Abraham’s unbelief. The effects of sin are always social. They are like a virus. They seldom stay confined to the sinner. They attack our spouses, children or room-mates. Ultimately, Ishmael will become the father of the Arabs. In fact, the Moslems actually trace their descent to Abraham through Ishmael. This is a problem. The character of Ishmael and his descendants has not been attractive.

God prophesied this in Genesis 16. After Ishmael was conceived, Hagar began to look down on Sarah, so Sarah sent her away pregnant. Hagar wandered in the desert, and the angel of the Lord came to her.

(Genesis 16:11–12) "11 “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”"

Verse 12 is a picture of the Islamic people today. Picture the Arabs on TV in a frenzied state, screaming and yelling, throwing dirt in the air, firing their rifles in the air.

In fact, today’s Jews are reaping Abraham’s sin through the intense hostility of Ishmael’s descendants.

From Abraham's story we can learn the importance of the fear of God. We reap what we sow, and God is behind the reaping. Brothers and sisters, let us cultivate the fear of God.