Not Ashamed

Note: I was going through some documents on my computer and came across this article written by Jim Boggan in 2007. After my own encounter with cancer, this all makes much more sense. Jim passed away after shortly after he wrote this, leaving a wife, Shelley, and son, Nathan.

Not Ashamed
A gently shocking encounter in the dark
by Jim Boggan

In the fog of an awakening in the dark, jumbled ideas formed themselves into a conversation:

“Your name, Lord (not mine).”
“At some point, they’re linked.”
“That scares me, Lord.” Unformed thought: I don’t want to let you down.
“I am not ashamed to be called your God.”

Yes, that will take some explaining.

FYI: a month past cancer surgery, I’m looking toward radiation and chemotherapy. I have a 50-percent chance of survival, the M.D.s say.

This cancer thing is resulting in some interesting thoughts coming my way. Some of them are just random firings of the neurons of a fatigued brain. Others mean something to me.

The fatigue comes from the fact that I spend my nights sitting up to keep from choking; I can’t swallow. Several times a night I wake up to see something I don’t understand, then I recognize it as my own abdomen or lap. Or a fragment of a dream will insert itself into my awakening.

In the darkness I woke up this morning with the idea that the hospital public relations department wanted my picture, and those of the other patients. We were to be promoted as the Radiation Department’s “team” for the month.

Oh, well, every dog has his day, and I was to have my 15 minutes of fame. I reacted against the idea. That was the basis for my reaction, “Your name, Lord.”

That phrase will take some explaining.

For several years now “Your name, Lord,” has been a prayer of mine. I want my life to exalt his name. By elimination, it also means, “not mine.”

This time when I prayed, I believe I heard an answer.

I know that sounds strange to those of you who know me and my beliefs. It must drive some of you crazy.

When it comes to healing from my cancer, I’m more Calvinist – resting in the sovereignty of God. I don’t believe he’s under any obligation to heal me. On the other hand, when it comes to hearing from him I’m nearly a Charismatic.

What I heard, when I said, “Your name, Lord (not mine),” was, “At some point they’re linked.”

His name and mine. His and yours, if you’re a believer. The world looks at you and sees Jesus, for better or worse. In the fog of my mind this morning (or maybe it was a sign of clarity) the “worse” came to the fore – the fear that I’ll let him down.

When you stop to think about it, the idea that God would accept our allegiance or friendship is crazy. Looking at ourselves, our sin, our weakness, why should he want any association with us? It’s rather like a politician receiving a campaign contribution from the Ku Klux Klan.

Now here is God, telling me his name and mine are linked.

“That scares me, Lord,” I said.

His reply: “I am not ashamed to be called your God.”

That comes from Hebrews 11, I think. It’s just described all that the people of God have gone through and says, “That is why he is not ashamed to be called their God.”

Ultimately, the world will be forced to acknowledge Jesus, and will know that what in me is bad has nothing to do with him. But he’s not worried about that.

He’s not ashamed to be called my God.

John Bunyan on Prayer

Prayer is an ordinance of God to be used both in public and private; yea, such an ordinance as brings those that have the spirit of supplication into great familiarity with God. It is also so prevalent an action that it gets from God, both for the person that prays, and for them that are prayed for, great things. It is the opener of the heart of God, and a means by which the soul, though empty, is filled. By prayer the Christian can open his heart to God, as to a friend, and obtain fresh testimony of God’s friendship to him.

-Praying in the Spirit

Update

As you might have noticed, I haven’t updated my site in some time. Some of this is due to work demands (I’m a high school teacher and preach every Sunday) and some of this is due to fact that I’ve been dealing with cancer for the past 2 or 3 months.

I was diagnosed with oral cancer on my tongue back in July and then had surgery at the end of August. The recovery from the surgery has gone very well, but I’m still looking at 6 weeks of radiation treatment. The good news is that I should be cancer-free and basically back to normal by the end of the year.

As I’ve gone through all this I’ve certainly pondered the issues of miraculous healing, as opposed to healing that is aided by doctors and technology. I do believe in immediate, divine, supernatural healing. But I also believe it is rare, as miracles by definition should be. Up to the morning of my surgery, I was still hoping for miraculous healing. However, God chose to use modern medicine, modern technology, and doctors and nurses to heal me. As a result of this, I was driven to look to Him in ways I never had before, trusting in Him like never before. Scripture became much more than just a text, it became a living Word to me. If I had been miraculously healed, I would have missed all the precious lessons of God’s love and patience and promises held out to us in His Word.

I also learned a lot about the fellowship of suffering. I had never before needed help. But now I felt (and still feel) the need of help from God’s people. Cards, letters, emails, phone calls, visits, and especially prayers – I had never really needed any of these things (or so I thought) before from other people. But because I had to go through some major surgery, I know now how important it is for us as Christians to help others in need and how much those in need are helped by these things.

I am in the process of the physical healing, but there has been a tremendous spiritual healing (or quickening) because I have been forced by God into this position by the lack of miraculous healing. I am now much more fit to sympathize with and be of value to others who might also be going through similar incidents. And because of this, though I never would have chosen this in a million years, I’m glad that it’s happened this way.

- Sean Richardson

The New Liberalism (The Theology of Festus)

G. Gresham Machen wrote a book called Christianity and Liberalism back in the 1920′s in which he pointed out that the Liberalism of that day used Christian terminology, but had drastically changed or hidden the meanings of those words in order to dupe churches into believing that the liberals were really okay guys. Nowadays, the New Liberals have decided that we should just forget trying to sound like the church at all and just go ahead and chuck the terminology. This allows them to continue undermining historic, Biblical terminology and supplant it with their own terminology, which is decidedly more simplistic (dumbed down) so as to allow poor, helpless, downtrodden seekers to be able to hold up their heads in proud unbelief, while these new agents of the Holy Spirit ration out salvation to suit their own purposes and build up their own empires.

All you have to do to see this in action is to read this article and then give a good look at the lives, ministries, and teachings of those who are mentioned. Ironically, we have here Mark Driscoll who is finding fault with other preachers because, “If you use too much theologized language you will lose lost people.” This from a guy who threatened to run people over with a bus. The preacher who cusses in his sermons seems to think that using crude language will attract people, but using theological, biblical terms like justification, sanctification, and propitiation will drive them away.

But what seems to be missed by people like Driscoll, is that one of the jobs of a true preacher is to be a teacher of God’s Word. If the text that you’re preaching from has a difficult word, then you explain it. Someone needs to tell Driscoll that it is surely better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

And then we have this gem from Andy Stanley – “We need to give non-church people the permission to not believe and not obey.” Can you possibly imagine George Whitefield getting up in front of a hostile, produce-throwing crowd of “seekers” telling them that today is NOT the day of salvation and they would be better off waiting until later to repent? Or Paul patting King Agrippa on the head and telling him it’s a good thing to be almost persuaded?

Yet, that where the New Liberalism has gotten us. It is the theology of Festus. It was Festus, who in Acts 26 complained that Paul was crazy for his preaching of the Gospel – Much learning has made you mad! Paul must have used some theological terms in his address (like repentance) and Festus knew that this was obviously not culturally relevant. It must have caused him to cuss as much as Mark Driscoll when he realized that Paul was using such theological terms.

But Festus must have been pleased when King Agrippa professed that he had almost been persuaded. Paul had no right to demand that Agrippa believe right then. Not enough time had passed. And Paul had not even given him permission to NOT believe. Why, it’s almost as if Paul expected Agrippa to hear a theology-laden sermon and then repent and believe on the spot! How will Paul ever build a mega-church with that sort of thinking?!?!

The Old Liberalism denied the Word of God. It seems that the New Liberalism denies the work of the Holy Spirit, as well. Using Scriptural language will NEVER be a barrier to someone being called by the Holy Spirit. And that same Word does not give unbelievers permission to continue in their unbelief, but demands men everywhere to repent.

S. H. Kellogg on Leviticus 19:28

‘Cutting the flesh for the dead’ has been widely practiced by heathen peoples in all ages. Such immoderate and unseemly expressions of grief were prohibited to the Israelite, as unworthy of a people who were in a blessed covenant relation with the God of life and death. Rather,  recognising that death is of God’s ordination, he was to accept in patience and humility the stroke of God’s hand; not, indeed, without sorrow, but yet in meekness and quietness of spirit, trusting in the God of life. The thought is only a less clear expression of the New Testament word (1 Thess 4:13) that the believer “sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope.” Also, probably, in this prohibition, as certainly in the next it is suggested that as the Israelite was to be distinguished from the heathen by full consecration, not only of the soul, but also of the body, to the Lord, he was by that fact inhibited from marring or defacing in any way the integrity of his body.

In general, we may say, then, that the central thought which binds this group of precepts together, is the obligation, not merely to abstain from everything directly idolatrous, but also from all such customs as are, in fact, rooted in or closely associated with idolatry. On the same principle, the Christian is to beware of all fashions and practices, even though they may be in themselves indifferent, which yet, as a matter of fact, are specially characteristic of the worldly and ungodly element in society. The principle assumed in these prohibitions thus imposes upon all who would be holy to the Lord, in all ages, a firm restriction. The thoughtless desire of many, at any risk, to be ‘in the fashion,’ must be unwaveringly denied. The reason which is so often given by professing Christians for indulgences in such cases, that ‘all the world does so,’ may often be the strongest possible reason for declining to follow the fashion. No servant of God should ever be seen in any part of the livery of Satan’s servants. That God does not think of these ‘little things’ always of trifling consequence, we are reminded by the repetition here, for the tenth time in this chapter, of the words, ‘I am the Lord!’