Monday, March 31, 2008

Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel

I never had the privilege of meeting this young man.

And I never will. You see, Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel was gunned down last Tuesday in a carjacking, after stopping at Case Park (across the street from the building I work in) to remove some trash from his car. Brandon was a gifted 25-year-old and seemed to have a very successful life ahead of him: wrapping up his MBA at Avila, he had just passed his LSATS and was expected to go to law school in the fall. Instead, his family buried Brandon Saturday, and police may now have his killer(s) in custody.

I never met Brandon, but a friend of mine knew him well. She was heartbroken when she learned that the victim of this shooting was her friend, Brandon. She is searching for answers.

“I refuse to believe that God let that happen? Could it be He was busy fighting other battles that for a second He looked the other way while Brandon’s life was snatched away? I can deal with that, but that God just let this happen to this young man who wasn’t in the wrong place, wasn’t in a drug infested ghetto, wasn’t committing crime…..can you explain that?

"I know, I know, we are not supposed to question God!! I just want some answers, that’s all. Is that too much to ask?”

Her words are understandably filled with the sorrow of someone who has lost a dear friend, but I see a misconception about God that I hope to lovingly correct. Was God busy fighting battles elsewhere when this happened? If not, what does that say about His love? His justice is also questioned here: Brandon was doing the right thing, educating himself and not caught up in the drug scene. So which is it, I hear my friend saying, "Was God asleep at the controls? If not, what about His justice in allowing this to happen?”

I believe the Bible speaks to these questions. John Piper has written an essay called “Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be?” He seeks the answer in the Scriptures, and lays out some of the evidence for God's control of all things, including evil. Then he deals with two problems.

1. Is God then the author of sin?

2. And why does he will that there be evil in the world?

To anyone who is wrestling with these questions, I definitely recommend reading this essay (found online here) and that you meditate on the Scripture that is pointed out. Note: In the section on God’s control over moral evil, Piper mentions Genesis 50:20, Psalm 105:17, Acts 4:27-28, and Isaiah 53:10 in support of his assertion. Please also consider these other passages as well, in their contexts: (OT passages, NT passages)

To quote the entire essay would be too much, but I will simply quote the exhortation made at the end:

So the answer to the question in the title of this message, "Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?" is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil. The effort to absolve Him by denying His foreknowledge of sin … or by denying His control of sin … is fatal, and a great dishonor to His Word and His wisdom. Evangelicals who are seeking the glory of God, look well to the teaching of your churches and your schools. But most of all, look well to your souls.

If you would see God's glory and savor His glory and magnify His glory in this world, do not remain wavering before the sovereignty of God in the face of great evil. Take His Book in your hand, plead for His Spirit of illumination and humility and trust, and settle this matter, that you might be unshakable in the day of your own calamity. My prayer is that what I have said will sharpen and deepen your God-entranced world view, and that in the day of your loss you will be like Job who, when he lost all his children, fell down and worshipped, and said, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

I do not claim that this is easy to settle in one's mind, but as one who trusts in the Word of God, as the only inerrant source of God's revealed truth to us, I am bound to accept it.

If God were to choose in His wisdom, to take away one of my loved ones or to bring some other tragedy into my life, I cannot declare that I would pass the test. Would I deny my Savior and Lord in continued doubt and bitterness? My prayer is that I would be able to use the opportunity to show as many as possible, that He is my Lord and that I believe in Him despite my heartbreak, that He means everything to me and that there is nothing in life--even my own family and health--that means more to me than Jesus Christ. Not by my own faith could I do this, of course, but only by the faith given to me supernaturally in Christ (see John 3)!

I am praying for those struggling through this, that God will use Brandon’s death in your life to lead you to a closer walk with Him. I have no doubt that Brandon himself now has an unveiled and complete understanding of God’s purpose in cutting his life short on earth!

A call to consider your own soul

When I reflect on the violent death of Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel and picture, in my mind's eye, his body lying on the bricks next to the Lewis and Clark monument, I am reminded that life is here for only a moment. We do not know when or how our life on earth will come to an end. When will the curtain close as it did for Brandon when the police pulled the covering over him? This thought brought me to repentance, and a desire not to waste the time that the Lord has given me. Maybe for you, this image brings fear of death, and an uncertainty about your standing with a holy God.

Consider this thought, everyone will one day appear before God in judgment. Your only hope is found in Christ. If you have not repented and trusted Christ for your salvation and for reconciliation with God, you will be naked before Him. No amount of good works will be enough to make up for the thousands of sins you’ve committed against a perfectly holy God. If you are not clothed in the righteousness of Christ alone, you are facing a fate worse than death, eternal hell.

But God is not willing that any should perish. This is why He ordained another evil that happened 2,000 years ago. He ordained that Christ would suffer the worst injustice in all of human history. A perfectly righteous man lived a perfect life only to suffer the most heinous and horrible death, while God the Father poured out His wrath on Him for every sin of every sinner who would accept Christ. Is that unjust? From a human perspective, yes. But who is complaining!?! I get Jesus’ righteousness for my sin! (Click here for a much more complete and thorough presentation of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ!)

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”

They say Brandon was a Christian. If that is true, then I certainly look forward to meeting him someday in Heaven!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sophia turns seven tomorrow!

Tomorrow my daughter Sophia turns seven! She's a handful and has inherited my hyperactivity, but she has an electric smile (see picture) ... and a sweet heart.

Here's a picture she made.

She made an effort to point out that this is NOT a jayhawk. Maybe someday she'll grow out of this phase of being a Wildcat fan!

Sophia is quite creative. You can see some of her artwork in this video the girls did for Valentine's Day. She made this little frog when she got a book recently that shows how to make little creatures using thin paper strips. Her first creature was, of course, a frog ...

You can buy Sophia's work on eBay ... the current bid is $1,400.

One of her favorite books is the Eaglet, by Jim Elliff.

She also loves the Lightlings, another great book for kids that explains the Gospel.

I'm very thankful for ministries like these that seek to share the Gospel with kiddoes like Sophia!

Sophia's a first grader who has been getting better and better in her reading!

She loves to catch bugs and frogs (she's our tomboy) so I thought I'd put a nice frog video here to show her!


We love you Sophia, Happy Birthday!!!

From Mom and Dad, Adriana and Myles!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Daily Carson 3/14/08

Here is today's quote from Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation (see Intro):
[The Bible] is rather more like a jigsaw puzzle whose Maker has guaranteed that all the pieces he has provided belong to the same puzzle, even though for various good reasons he has not given us all of them. "The secret things belong to the LORD," Moses tells us, "but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever" (Deut. 29:29). That means that we will always have gaps as we construct the puzzle; it means that clumsy players will try to force some pieces into slots where they do not belong and may be tempted to leave some pieces out because they cannot see where they fit in. (p. 205)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daily Carson 3/13/08

Here is today's quote from Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation (see Intro):

This is Don Carson
’s response to the popular poem “Abou ben Adam
No thinking Christian will long identify with such sentimental twaddle. In the teaching of Jesus, the first command is to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength; the second is to love one's neighbor as oneself (Matt. 22:37-40). Jesus does not suggest that the two commands are identical. Far from it: he enumerates two commands and sets them out in terms of their relative priorities: first and second. (p. 65)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Daily Carson 3/12/08

Here is today's quote from Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation (see Intro):
We Christians must constantly be reminded of the fact that just as we were saved by grace, so also are we sanctified and glorified by grace … We become fruitful by grace; we persevere by grace; we mature by grace; by grace we grow to love one another the more, and by grace we cherish holiness and a deepening knowledge of God. Therefore Paul reminds his readers at the end of his prayer that everything he has asked for is available only on the basis of grace. The Savior himself cannot be glorified in our lives, nor can we be finally glorified, apart from the grace that he provides. (p. 60)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daily Carson 3/10/08

Here is today's quote from Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation (see Intro):
The truth is that every Christian who has thought long and hard about the cross begins to understand that God is not merely a stern dispenser of justice, nor merely a lover who lavishly forgives, but the Sovereign who is simultaneously perfect in holiness and perfect in love. His holiness demands retribution; his love sends his own Son to absorb that retribution on behalf of others. The cross simultaneously stands as the irrefutable evidence that God demands retribution, and cries out that it is the measure of God's love (Rom. 3:21-26). That is why, in the Christian view of things, forgiveness is never detached from the cross. In other words, forgiveness is never the product of love alone, still less of mawkish sentimentality. Forgiveness is possible only because there has been a real offense, and a real sacrifice to offset that offense. (p. 48)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thanks, Adam!

Today I emailed a friend of mine on our recent family hardships and in typical fashion he emailed back a complete work of literature. I thank the Lord for this friend's gift of writing and for his wisdom and love in Christ. I'm just going to post his email, perhaps it will encourage you like it has me:

I was just talking [to my daughter and some friends of the family's kids] as I took them to school this morning about the curse that Adam and Eve's decision brought upon man and how they just could not understand the ramifications of their decision and the hopelessness and suffering that cascaded down up on all of their unborn children. As we drove I pointed out that every car that passed us, every house we could see for miles, all contained people who were hopeless and miserable because of the curse that has fallen on us all. That curse is a life that is hard and painful and miserable. We ache and hurt, we lose jobs, hate jobs, and can't pay bills. We hurt each other and are hurt by each other. We grow old and we grow rickety. I have to have oral surgery in three and a half weeks. Thanks, Adam.

Life, because of Adam's choice and the resulting curse offers hardship, hopelessness, and misery. The only hope that we have is through the reversal of the curse that is available through Christ, and even that only offers a spiritual freedom now. We have little difference between ourselves and non-believers as far as physically being under the curse. Again, thanks, Adam.
What your family has experienced is, first and foremost, ordained and purposed by a sovereign God. But it is also a result of the curse. It may even be an attack from the Evil One. Whatever it is, you must, through the deep discouragement and pain turn your eyes to the Master who is drawing you, Amy and the family to Himself through this. He desires that through experiencing the curse, you will long to find your hope in Him and in the future He has promised. It is real. It is coming. It is curse-free. Thanks, Second Adam!! Praise the name of Jesus!

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are of all men most to be pitied

1 Corinthians 15:19

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike