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August 25, 2015

Sanger
Sometimes the truth can be a bit of an annoyance. Sometimes the truth can even get in the way of our best intentions, and in the way of our attempts to right the world’s wrongs.

Over the past couple of months, Planned Parenthood has been exposed as a ghastly business profiteering from the sale of aborted babies. Undercover videos have taken us into secret meetings where deals are struck and even into labs where aborted children are dismantled and prepared for shipping. Some of Planned Parenthood’s high-ranking employees have been exposed as profit-driven and uncaring, concerned more for the well-being of their personal finances than the health of the women who visit their clinics.

Along the way, those who fight for the pro-life cause have been passing along information about Planned Parenthood and its founder, Margaret Sanger. This morning Joe Carter, writing for The Gospel Coalition, offered 9 Things You Should Know About Margaret Sanger. And this seems like as good a time as any to remind ourselves of this: Truth matters, and truth is always better than half-truths or full-out lies. This is exactly why I so appreciate Carter’s article.

When it comes to Margaret Sanger, many people have been passing along isolated quotes that portray her as a relentlessly racist zealot who created her birth control clinics for the express reason of eradicating African-Americans through her Negro Project. Most people draw this from a quote where she says, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population…” But as Carter says in his article, “More likely, she feared that if the belief were to spread that the goal of the Negro Project was to ‘exterminate the Negro population’ it would hinder her true eugenic objective: the extermination of the subset of the black population that she considered ‘degenerate’.” So yes, she said those words, but they need to be read in context.

Now listen, there is little moral superiority in attempting to eradicate a subpopulation of African-American “degenerates” in place of an entire population of African Americans. Both are unconscionable and horrific. Really, the fact that her actions were in danger of being construed as exterminating an entire population just shows how abhorrent they were. By no means am I defending Sanger. Rather, I am simply pointing out that Sanger’s views as they have been memed through Facebook may not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And as Christians, we need to concern ourselves foremost with what is true, even if it seems like the truth won’t serve our cause as much as a half-truth.

The truth, at least as described by Carter’s research, is that Sanger was, indeed, racist, but not to such a degree that she wished to eradicate all African-Americans. Carter does not deny “that Sanger’s views were implicitly—and sometimes explicitly racist—or that the effect of her ideas and organizations did not lead to the destruction of black communities. It is merely to say that it doesn’t appear racial superiority was her primary motivation for advocating sterilization and birth control.” If that is true, it is important, and it is all we should repeat. In Sanger’s case, the truth is plenty disturbing and damning.

Sometimes we want things to be true because it seems like that version of the truth would be more helpful to our cause. But truth always trumps falsehood. We do not serve our cause by making Margaret Sanger “more racist” than she actually was, or by assigning to her motives she did not actually have. When we do that, we open ourselves to reproach and ridicule. But even worse, we show that we are losing confidence in God, who is the source of all truth. We show that we are losing confidence in his ability to bring justice. God does not need our lies or our half-truths to further his cause and to right this world’s wrongs. He just needs the truth because, in the end, the truth will prevail.


Update: Based on discussion in Facebook, I would like to append the following paragraph: “Let me offer an example of the kind of thing I am talking about in this article. I have often seen Sanger quoted as saying, “Colored people are like human weeds and need to be exterminated.” I have seen that as memes floating around Facebook. I have seen that quoted in many articles. Yet as far as I can see, it is not an accurate quote. Therefore, as Christians who know and love the truth, we should not repeat it (at least, until we can prove that she actually said it). But even more importantly, we don’t need to. We can stick to the truth and nothing but the truth and trust that the truth will be more powerful and more effective than a half-truth or full lie. As I say in the article, “In Sanger’s case, the truth is plenty disturbing and damning.” There’s no need to fear the truth or to enhance the truth. Going beyond the truth doesn’t help our cause; it damages it.”

August 25, 2015

There are lots of good Kindle deals today. Begin with this refreshed two-part Puritan work called “Building a Godly Home”: A Holy Vision for Family Life and A Holy Vision For Raising Children ($2.99 each). Then consider some of B&H’s “Perspectives” series: On the Extent of the Atonement (new and just $0.99); On Family Ministry ($2.99); On Your Child’s Education ($0.99); On Christian Worship ($2.99); On Election ($2.99); On the Sabbath ($2.99). And a few others that are worth checking out: Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland ($2.99); In My Father’s House and Conversation Peace by Mary Kassian ($2.99 each); Divine Design by John MacArthur ($2.51).

9 Things You Should Know About Margaret Sanger

For a variety of reasons, Margaret Sanger’s name is back in the news. Joe Carter gives you 9 things you ought to know about her. (Be sure to read points 7 and 8 since we do not further our cause by passing along incomplete or incorrect information about her views on race.)

Friends of a Certain Age

Perhaps this has been your experience: “In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.”

Teaching Our Children the Raw Parts of Scripture

Nick has some counsel on teaching our children the raw parts of Scripture—the parts we may find ourselves eager to skip over.

NIV Zondervan Study BibleNew Book Release: Today marks the release of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, edited by D.A. Carson (and not to be confused with the venerable NIV Study Bible). You can learn more about it at NIVZondervanStudyBible.com and buy it at Amazon.

Convictions and Cultural Change

This afternoon at 3 PM EST Ligonier Ministries will be hosting a Google hangout featuring Dr. John MacArthur and Stephen Nichols. You can find information at the link.

Making Ocean Water Drinkable

California’s Carlsbad Desalination Project, which will start operating later this year, will process more than 104 million gallons of seawater daily, turning about half that into drinking water. Here’s how they do it.

Organic Food, Essential Oils, and the Gospel of Grace

Quite right: “While eating organic foods and using non-traditional medicine certainly can be valuable, the danger comes when we develop a sense of superiority to go along with it.”

Encouraging Parents of Prodigals

“What could be more grievous to Christian parents than to have their adult child reject the Gospel?” This article offers encouragement to those parents.

Ortlund

I would rather fail in the weakness of the Spirit than succeed in the power of the flesh. —Ray Ortlund

Flipping God the Bird
August 24, 2015

Gestures are funny things. Gestures have no intrinsic meaning, but they do have very important assigned meanings. Here in North America the simple thumbs-up gesture means “well done,” but in some other cultures it carries a meaning that is vulgar and offensive. Or just think of George W. Bush at his 2005 inauguration flashing the “hook ‘em horns” gesture of the Texas Longhorns. Italians were shocked because they use that same gesture to indicate that a man’s wife is cheating on him. The gesture is the same, but it carries a very different meaning.

In many places in the world, elevating the middle finger is about as offensive as gestures get. It is a symbol of utter scorn, a symbol associated with the most offensive four-letter word. People flash it to display utter contempt toward another person. It is almost a dare: This is what I think of you; what are you going to do about it?

I think we understand humanity best when we understand that human beings are born with our middle finger extended toward God. We grow up with our middle finger extended toward God. We die with our middle finger extended toward God. At least we do unless God intervenes and lowers it by his grace.

Human beings hate God. We are born hating God, we die hating God, and we live our short lives hating God. This hatred is the motivation behind the way we interact with God and with what God has made.

We hate God so we hate his creation. The reason we treat the earth badly is not that we hate the earth or are even apathetic about it. It’s that we hate God. We display our contempt toward God by thinking too little of his creation, by polluting it recklessly, by stewarding it poorly. We treat it badly as a display of our scorn for God.

We hate God so we hate his creatures. We only kick the dog because at that moment we can’t kick God. We only treat animals badly because we don’t know how to treat God badly. We don’t actually have a beef with them, we have a beef with God and take it out on his creatures.

Most importantly, we hate God so we hate his image. God tells us that there is just one creature who is made in his image and in his likeness—human beings. The closest we can get to harming or destroying God is harming or destroying human beings. This explains so many of the headlines we read every day. What is abortion but humanity elevating our middle finger toward God by gleefully destroying the creatures that God loves most? What is euthanasia but people flipping God the bird while ending a life created by God? What are gay marriage and no-fault divorce and the pornography plague but people looking God in the eye, elevating that middle finger, and daring him to do something about it? We know we cannot harm God, but we do know we can harm people.

Humanity is in a state of open warfare with God. We cannot get at God (except for that one time we could, and we crucified him). But we can, and will, get at anything that comes from God and anything that reflects God.

Thank God for his grace. Thank God for his grace which has brought peace between God and those who have put their faith in Christ. Thank God for his grace which has removed our scorn and contempt and allowed us, those who are his, to now live for the good of all he has made, and the glory of all that he is.

Image credit: Shutterstock

August 24, 2015

This week Crossway is offering John Piper’s “The Swans Are Not Silent” series at just $3.99 each. These are excellent short biographies of key Christian figures. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy; The Hidden Smile of God; The Roots of Endurance; Contending for Our All; Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ. You will also find Heaven by Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson for $3.99, and Matt Chandler’s To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain for free.

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much

“The past fifty years have seen massive gains in productivity, the invention of countless labor-saving devices, and the mass entry of women into the formal workforce.” So why do we all work so many hours?

Reflections on a Planned Parenthood Protest

John Piper reflects on Saturday’s Planned Parenthood protests. You may also want to read this article from a different source but dealing with the same subject: Now We Know Why Reporters Won’t Cover The Planned Parenthood Videos.

Hurricane Katrina Photos

This is very interesting. “10 years on, Getty Images photographer Mario Tama has been back to New Orleans to revisit the scenes of his iconic images to see how the once obliterated areas have changed.” He has done so through some during and after photos.

A New Song: “We Are Not Overcome” by Bifrost Arts is a song you may enjoy. We have adapted (simplified) it for use in our worship services and it is quickly becoming a favorite.

Keep on Welcoming

There’s some wisdom here on welcoming people to your church. This is the one I most needed to hear: “Weeks three, four, and beyond are also key.”

Ashley Madison: Faithfulness

There are some important takeaways in Mark Jones’ article on the Ashley Madison fiasco. “Basically, Paul describes ‘Ashley Madison’ long before computer hackers made many of us aware that such a website existed.” Also read Scotty Smith’s meditative prayer based on Proverbs 7.

Go, and Be

This little tribute to the Scottish highlands may be a little bit overdone but, oh my, is the scenery ever beautiful!

Washer

The true convert does not receive the gospel as an addition to his previous life, but in exchange for it. —Paul Washer

John Piper on Parenting
August 23, 2015

John Piper recently addressed the question, Does Proverbs Promise My Child Will Not Stray? in a recent episode of Ask Pastor John. As you might have guessed, the question was based on Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Piper ended the episode by sharing these 9 truths for parents to remember and follow:

1) In general, bringing up children God’s way will lead them to eternal life. In general, that is true.

2) This reality would include putting our hope in God and praying earnestly for our wisdom and for their salvation all the way to the grave. Don’t just pray until they get converted at age 6. Pray all the way to the grave for your children’s conversions and for the perseverance of their apparent conversions.

3) Saturate them with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

4) Be radically consistent and authentic in your own faith — not just in behavior, but in affections. Kids need to see how precious Jesus is to mom and dad, not just how he is obeyed or how they get to church or how they read devotions or how they do duty, duty, duty. They need to see the joy and the satisfaction in mom and dad’s heart that Jesus is the greatest friend in the world.

5) Model the preciousness of the gospel. As we parents confess our own sins and depend on grace, our kids will say, “Oh, you don’t have to be perfect. Mom and dad aren’t perfect. They love grace. They love the gospel because Jesus forgives their sins. And I will know then he can forgive my sins.”

6) Be part of a Bible-saturated, loving church. Kids need to be surrounded by other believers and not just mom and dad.

7) Require obedience. Do not be lazy. There are so many young parents today that appear so lazy. They are not willing to get up and do what needs to be done to bring this kid into line. So we should follow through on our punishments and follow through especially on all of our promises of good things that we say we are going to do for them.

8) God saves children out of failed and unbelieving parenting. God is sovereign. We aren’t the ones, finally, who save our kids. God saves kids and there would hardly be any Christians in the world if he didn’t save them out of failed families.

9) Rest in the sovereignty of God over your children. We cannot bear the weight of their eternity. That is God’s business and we must roll all of that onto him.

August 22, 2015

Today we will see protests against Planned Parenthood all across America. If you have time this morning, why don’t you consider attending. They will run from 9am to 11am, and you can find location information at ProtestPP.com.

What Causes Cage-Stage Calvinism?

We’ve all seen it, I think. Most of us have probably fallen into it at one time or another. R.C. Sproul Jr. explains why and how.

The Danger of Comparison

I am one of those people who is prone to the comparison trap, so I enjoyed this article. “Jealousy dethrones God’s sovereignty by feeling entitled to another person’s blessings in life. Jealousy makes everyone a thief of what you should have.”

How Big Is a Blue Whale’s Heart?

This video will show you. The answer, not surprisingly, is “very big.”

3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Justin Taylor offers 3 important reminders. “Critique done poorly—whether through overstatement, misunderstanding, caricature—is a losing proposition for all. It undermines the credibility of the critic and deprives the one being criticized from the opportunity to improve his or her position.”

Meditation and Sermon Preparation

“The difference between a message that is a ‘Bible study’ and a message that is a ‘sermon’ is the additional meditative substance in the latter, by which God speaks through His word, and through the preacher.”

Mastering the Giant Comma

One of my weaknesses in writing is properly using semicolons. So I needed to watch this.

Why You Need a Fighting Faith

Thanks to P&R for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors are integral to the ongoing operation of this site, so I am grateful for each one.

Spurgeon

I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him. —C.H. Spurgeon

August 21, 2015

This week's Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by CBD Reformed. They are long-time sponsors of Free Stuff Fridays and, as they always do, they are giving away 5 great prize packages this week. There will be 5 winners and each of them will receive the following 3 books:

  • Recovering RedemptionWhat Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung - Retail price $12.99
  • Disciplines of a Godly Young Man by R. Kent Hughes & W. Carey Hughes - Retail Price $16.99
  • Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler & Michael Snetzer - Retail Price $16.99

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (August 21 - 24) on the following three products:

Enter Here

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.