Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Corporal Punishment: A spiritual issue

I believe the Scriptures are clear that corporal punishment—the “rod” of discipline—is one of the options that parents have at their disposal in order to discipline their children (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15). In my previous post on this topic, I said, “Considered against the background of God’s justice, we see that corporal punishment is God’s merciful means to deliver a child’s soul from death”, and “is an act that demonstrates a parent’s love for the child’s soul.”

There’s something else that comes to mind. It occurs to me that if parents abandon corporal punishment, their children will be ill-equipped to understand God’s discipline. In Hebrews 12:5-10, the writer makes a connection between a parent’s discipline of a child and God’s discipline of His people:

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”

I believe the writer has what we would call corporal punishment in mind for, notice, he writes, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant…” (Hebrews 12:11a, emphasis mine). Corporal punishment causes pain. I believe the pain of God’s discipline is more understandable to those who have experienced the pain of their parents’ “rod” of discipline. On the other hand, if we view corporal punishment as harsh and abusive, won’t we likely view God’s discipline as harsh and abusive, also? If we think that parents have no right to ever strike their children as a punishment for disobedience, won’t we also think that God has no right to inflict pain on us because of our disobedience? Here’s something else to think about: If we don’t understand corporal punishment (or capital punishment, for that matter), can we really understand hell?

Here’s the basis of my concern: From my observation of teenagers over the past 14-15 years, I’m concerned that today’s parents are raising up a generation who will have no understanding or regard for a God who disciplines His people or sends the rebellious to hell. Some of you who follow trends in evangelicalism already know there are those who call themselves evangelical who already embrace these unbiblical ideas about God. Ultimately, I see the issue of whether or not we accept corporal punishment as a legitimate method of child discipline as a spiritual issue.
In the final analysis, I do not think a sound case can be built against corporal punishment from the Bible. In fact, I suspect that those who oppose corporal punishment have been influenced more by secular psychology than by the word of God. They say that corporal punishment serves no good purpose, but God’s word says they’re wrong. God says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom …” (Proverbs 29:15a). And, the writer of Hebrews says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, emphasis mine). Scripture makes it clear that corporal punishment, like God’s discipline, produces good fruit in a child’s life, if administered in love, with a view towards saving the child’s soul.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And one more thing…

Note: This will be a long post, but I think it is important enough that I ask you to, please, hang in there until the end. Thanks!
I really didn’t intend to write about corporal punishment. Frankly, it is such an unpopular subject in our more “enlightened” society that one risks inviting scorn for expressing support for it. My original posts on this subject began as comments in response to this post by Tim Challies about a humorous episode from the life of that great 18th century evangelist, George Whitefield. After reading some of the other responses to that blog’s post, and after thinking about it more, especially in light of Scripture, I decided the topic deserved more attention.

You see, Scripture deals explicitly with corporal punishment, endorsing the use of the “rod” as an instrument of discipline. I am aware that there are scholars who feel that “rod” is a figurative term, referring to non-physical methods of discipline rather than physical punishment. When I read the Scriptures, however, I am just not convinced. In my opinion, to define the “rod” figuratively is fundamentally a well-meaning attempt to make the Bible more palatable to our modern, Western sensibilities. It’s clear we are developing (have developed?) into an over-sensitive, “wussified” society, that is positively squeamish about the idea of physically punishing children when their behavior clearly calls for it. I was amazed to discover, in the few commentaries I have available to me, most commentators had very little to say about the “rod”. It seemed to me they were purposely avoiding the clear implications of some verses out of the fear that some might object to the suggestion that corporal punishment was desirable as a form of discipline.

My experience has been that most who object to the physical “rod” of discipline do so because they consider the practice to be abusive. Granted, child abuse does exist and it is always inexcusable. I mentioned in this post the unfortunate fact that there has been physical abuse in my extended family. So, I am very aware of the reality of abuse. However, I do not think the fact that some abuse the practice of corporal punishment is a justifiable (or logical) reason to abandon corporal punishment. In fact, I think that for parents to abandon the disciplinary option of corporal punishment in the rearing of their children is a serious mistake. Further, for Christian parents to disregard the option of corporal punishment in the rearing of their children is to disregard God’s specific instruction. It is sinful, and it is wrong.

My feelings about this have been deepened over the several years I have worked and taught in public high schools, dealing with other folks’ kids. I have become convinced that one of the problems with today’s teens (and there are a multitude of issues affecting teens, not just one) is that too many of them have never experienced physical punishment from their parents when they were younger and more manageable. You see, it’s too late, when the boy is 6-ft. tall and nearly 200 pounds, to try to rein in his behavior. If someone had “wore out his behind” when he was 3 or 4, he wouldn’t be the problem he is to his parents and teachers today at 17 or 18. My great-grandfather had little education, but he spoke the truth years ago when he said to one parent we knew, “If you don’t whup that boy’s behind now, one day he’s goin’ to whup your behind!” That’s true! How many parents have tolerated disrespect, disobedience and insolence from their 2, 3, 4 or 5-year-old child, perhaps thinking such behavior “cute”, only to end up with an absolute rebel of 15, 16 or 17 living under their roof, making their family’s life miserable? Our more “enlightened” society has brought us most of the bad news we hear or read about from our public schools. And then public school teachers and administrators get blamed because they can’t work miracles with these same young people who have been so poorly parented. About 2 weeks ago a student was bragging in class about the fact that, although he receives numerous detentions, he never serves them: “What can the deans do? They can’t make me serve a detention, and my momma doesn’t care.” This is what our “enlightenment” has brought us!

Again, I am not advocating abuse. I’m only pointing out that God has ordained the “rod” as a legitimate disciplinary option. Just as each child differs in nature and temperament, even so, the need to apply corporal punishment differs with the temperament and personality of the child. Parents must not rule out corporal punishment because it is a God-given option. We ignore the “operating instructions” of our Creator only to the detriment of our society. God knows what our children need—He’s their Creator, after all. Let’s look at the Scriptures:

Proverbs 13:24
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

To withhold corporal punishment when circumstances call for it is to hate the child, in that we neglect that which is in the best interest of his/her soul.

Proverbs 22:15
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

I know this is the truth! Talking, alone, is not sufficient to dislodge “folly” from the human heart. However, most children will think twice if they know their parent “means business” and will spank their little behind.

Proverbs 23:13-14
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

The child might cry like you’re killing him/her, but it’s just an act (some of you parents know exactly what I’m talking about). Don’t let the little rascal bluff you out of following through with the punishment his/her misbehavior deserves. Spank him/her, and save his/her soul from something far worse than a spanking.

Proverbs 29:15
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

I have met teenagers who are a discredit to their parents. Their parents ought to be ashamed to have raised such insolent, disrespectful, inconsiderate, selfish, immoral wretches! Children weren’t designed to rear themselves; they need loving guidance, training, correction and, yes, sometimes they need physical punishment. Heed God’s instruction and spare yourself future shame.

Some would say they don’t care what the Bible says or suggests, corporal punishment is always wrong, it is always abusive and there is absolutely no reason to ever strike a child. I would ask you, then, does it matter to you what God’s word says? Are you suggesting you know more about human nature than God? Are you that smart?

Consider this: We’re told by the apostle John that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). If the infinite God is love, it should be obvious that we cannot possibly be more loving than God. If we’re nicer than God, I would suggest that we’re too nice. Look at this text:

Romans 1:28-32
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

Did you notice that among those who “deserve to die”, God’s word lists those who are “disobedient to parents”? Did you see that? A child who is disobedient to his/her parents, according to the word of God, is one of those that “deserve to die”.

Now, if the child deserves to die, by what definition is corporal punishment, rightly administered, abusive? The Bible says the child deserves far worse! God considers the child’s disobedience to be sin. In God’s courtroom, sinners deserve to die. Considered against the background of God’s justice, we see that corporal punishment is God’s merciful means to deliver a child’s soul from death.

Further, in imitation of our heavenly Father, corporal punishment is an act that demonstrates a parent’s love for the child’s soul:

Hebrews 12:5-8
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

Did you know that God the Father administers corporal punishment on His children? When we lovingly administer corporal punishment, we’re following the example of our heavenly Father. God “disciplines the one he loves.”

But, do you also notice how far our society has fallen? The writer asks, “What son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Sadly, the fact of the matter is, there are a whole lot of sons and daughters out there whose fathers and mothers refuse to discipline. The lack of lovingly administered corporal punishment is but one sign of how perverse our society has become, when measured by the infallible standard of God’s word. From God’s perspective, it is incredible that a child would exist who has not experienced his/her parent’s discipline. Supposedly, we “spare the rod” because we love the child. God says we’re lying to ourselves. If we truly loved the child, we would discipline the child. And discipline includes the “rod” or corporal punishment: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24).

Let’s finish this passage in Hebrews, and I’ll comment as we go along:

Hebrews 12:9-11
“Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them
[Notice, here, that parents who lovingly administer corporal punishment earn respect from their children]. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them [the fact that some parents have abused corporal punishment only proves one thing: those parents are sinners, just like you], but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant [corporal punishment should hurt], but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [it’s worth it in the end].”


So, I leave this plea with believers: Don’t succumb to the perverse values of our society. God’s way is always the right way. Corporal punishment, lovingly administered, is God’s idea, not men’s: God knows what our children need. If you discipline your children—not for selfish reasons, but out of a genuine, loving and prayerful concern for their eternal souls—they will respect you. And, the Lord willing, eventually, they will thank you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

So, what do you think?

This is interesting.

Anthony Carter says that, “[Reading] is the primary means through which God has chosen to communicate to his people.”

“The fact that the principle revelation of God to his people is the written word should not be lost to us” says Anthony. “It reveals not only that we are intellectual beings, expected to reason and rationally assess logically communicated data, but it also demonstrates the primacy of written communication.”

To Anthony’s post, Dan Edelen says, “No. Not even close.”

“The reason,” says Dan, “that reading CANNOT be the primary means through which God has chosen to communicate to His people is that for most of human history, very few people could read.”

“So what is God’s primary means of communicating with His people?” asks Dan.

“The Holy Spirit.”

So, what do you think? What saith the Scriptures?

To help you think this through, read Anthony Carter’s “Reasons for Reading”. Then, go read Dan Edelen’s “Becoming Spiritually Literate”.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Before I take it back, I’ll add more to it

Some further thoughts on George Whitefield’s encounter with a disobedient child:

Many Christians take what I would call a “psychological approach” to child discipline. Their philosophy of child rearing is based on guidelines from Dr. James Dobson or some other author/psychologist. One almost needs training in child psychology to do all that these books say you should do.
My great-grandmother was born in 1896. She never went to high school, and never studied psychology. She didn’t learn child rearing out of a book, other than the Bible. The Bible and “mother wit” were her primary guides. Even if she literally slapped me upside the head, her discipline was with love, and it taught me, in no uncertain terms, there were consequences to mouthing off.

Incidentally, I only recall two times I was physically struck by her: the one time that I mentioned in a recent post, and another earlier time when she roundly spanked me on the behind (swatting me numerous times, not just once or twice, like the books would say). There may have been other times I was physically struck by her, but I only remember two occasions (Basically, I didn't need to be spanked or slapped for the same thing twice!). Despite how voices of protest are raised today decrying physical punishment, speaking as a grateful recipient of this kind of discipline, I can testify I’ve never had any lingering or lasting effects from either encounter I had with my great-grandmother. I received much love, care, sound advice, biblical instruction and wisdom from her.

Some would say you need to sit down and talk with the child, but (and I’m just speaking for myself, here) I was a stubborn child (and a stubborn adult!), and I would argue. Just talking to me would not have gotten the point across at all. For instance, my great-grandfather would fuss, and I would just fuss right back (I was really bad that way)! I always had an answer. Talking doesn’t work with every child; sometimes, you need to show a child just what you mean. In my opinion, it takes a physical “jolt” to get a child’s attention. That’s what corporal punishment does quite effectively.

I suppose what I’m trying to get across is that physical discipline does not automatically equal physical abuse. Not everything that causes “pain” is physically hurtful (i.e., causing welts, cuts, bruises, etc.). Incidentally, I do know what abuse is: My grandmother was abusive to her children (according to the testimony of my great-grandmother and her sister, as well as my mother and uncle who were the recipients of that abuse). That’s a whole other story altogether. There was absolutely no comparison whatsoever between the physical punishment dealt out by my great-grandmother (my grandfather’s mother) and my grandmother.

Most everyone of my generation that I’ve known, from a similar cultural background (working class, African-American), can identify with the type of discipline I experienced. We’re adults now, with children of our own, and I seriously doubt many of us have lingering psychological damage from the physical punishments we received as children and teenagers (in fact, I suspect abusive words potentially cause more damage).

As incredible as it may sound to some folks, I still thank God someone cared enough about me to “go upside my head”.

Although some people today may feel they know better how to discipline a child than those of Whitefield’s generation, I don’t think God disapproved of Whitefield’s actions.

Just my opinion.

Thinking about abortion

Dr. Al Mohler has two articles on the subject of abortion that I would encourage you to read. Especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on “partial birth” abortion. Slowly, it appears the thinking of some people is changing. At least, I hope so.

“The Revenge of Moral Consciousness”

“The Supreme Court Rules Again on Abortion”

A few years ago, a student asked me what I thought of abortion. This is the way I answered her question:

My mother was 14 years old when she became pregnant with me—15 when I was delivered by Caesarian section. If abortion were legal when I was born, someone probably would have argued that I should be aborted. Certainly, pregnancy was a disruption to my mother’s life. Tell me, should I have been aborted?

My great-great-great-grandmother, Mollie, was a “Mulatto”—the daughter of a Black slave named Sarah, and Sarah’s White slave master, Mr. Rice. I seriously doubt Sarah became pregnant as a result of a mutual relationship between “consenting adults”. We’re talking about the state of Alabama—“The Heart of the Confederacy”—in the year 1852. More than likely my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Sarah, was raped by Mr. Rice. Should Sarah’s daughter, Mollie—my great-great-great-grandmother—have been aborted? If Mollie had been aborted, I would not exist, either.

I have some cousins, all of whom (I think) are college-educated. They’re fine, respectable people. Some of them are educators. This branch of the Duncan family came about through incest—sexual relations between unmarried first-cousins, way back in 1889. From this union, twin girls were born. Should these twins have been aborted? If there had been an abortion, this particular branch of the family—which has since produced teachers, artists and college professors—would not exist.

For at least three reasons (and, of course, there are more), I am opposed to abortion in all circumstances.

As you can probably guess, that student didn’t have anything else to say.

The Bible and tongues

Dr. Sam Storms wrote what I think is an excellent response to Jimmy Draper, of the Southern Baptist Convention, on the subject of the Bible and tongues. In fact, I think Dr. Storms is “spot on”. Read it, here.


I stumbled upon this church’s website two days ago, and I was truly saddened by what I read.
I’m going to take for granted the sincerity of the people, but, sincere or not, there are so many unbiblical teachings reflected on the pages of this site. Saddest of all is the realization that this church is not unique in the Black community in the United States. If you need motivation to pray fervently for a true move of God in the Black community, I think you could find it at this church’s website.

The time I was slapped upside the head

I added the following comment in response to this post on George Whitefield:

Consider this a “testimony” (I'm not trying to argue with anybody!):

Many years ago, when I was a teenager (or pre-teen, I don't precisely remember), I was talking back to my great-grandmother when—Whop!—she slapped me upside my head. I believe I was kneeling or sitting on the floor at the time. Well, after she slapped me, I found myself getting up off the floor!

Although, I resented it at the time (of course!), I knew I was in the wrong. She was not wrong. I "asked" for it, and she simply gave me what I "asked" for. Since it happened to me, I can tell you: I was not physically hurt (my head was hard—both literally and figuratively); the only thing hurt was my pride.

With the passage of time (at least 30 years), I honestly believe I deserved exactly what I received that day. I was way out of line. In no way at all was my great-grandmother abusive—absolutely not. I didn't think so, then; and I don't think so now.

One more thing: In light of Hebrews 12:5-11, I think it is reasonable to conclude that God inflicts corporal punishment on His children (and, in my opinion, He sometimes slaps them upside the head, too, if that's what it takes). At least, that's been my experience.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rejoicing “with joy…inexpressible…full of glory”?

In preparing to preach through 1 Peter, Erik Raymond at Irish Calvinist observed that:

First Peter chapter one, verses six through nine are all about the experience of being a Christian, and in particular the heavenly inspired rejoicing that is to characterize this life.”

Yet, as a Reformed believer in Christ, something troubled him:

“I am simply wondering afresh why those who hold to such a God-exalting, man-humbling view of God, tend to be the more stiff, cold and unaffected. Why do so many of us love to talk about, defend, and study doctrine but then stand relatively unaffected when singing songs that reflect such glorious truth? Why do folks get more excited about defending an acronym and criticizing Arminians than they do about singing about the risen Savior?”

This is, indeed, something worth thinking about, and I would encourage you to read Erik’s entire post (and listen to his preached messages from 1 Peter 1:1-9). In commenting on Erik’s post, I wrote the following:


“I appreciate your post. Personally, I am an emotional person. Yet, not many would know that, because I’m generally very reserved in public. This fact sometimes frustrates me. I wish I felt free to lift my hands to the Lord or shout aloud His praise in worship. I would be inclined to blame my reservations on self-consciousness and fear.

“Perhaps fear is the reason many others tend to downplay or diminish emotions. Maybe, like me, we’re afraid of what others would think of us if we became emotional. Perhaps we’re afraid that we might draw attention to ourselves or make others feel uncomfortable if we physically or verbally expressed our worship to God. I’m thinking that this could be especially true if we are part of a church or fellowship where emotional and physical expressiveness in worship is frowned upon.

“Then again, maybe we are reserved in expressing our emotions toward God because, in some sense, God seems less “real” to us than, let’s say, a sports event where we wouldn’t have second thoughts about shouting and cheering and jumping. One day, when we see that heavenly scene as pictured in Revelation 4-5, I’m sure we’ll have no trouble joining the multitude around God’s throne in praising the Lamb “with a loud voice” (Rev. 5:12). But, as it is now, we don’t “see” anything that would prompt such a heartfelt and emotional response. In other words, the problem could be with our spiritual perception.

“I do think, however, that those of us who know the Doctrines of Grace have great reason to be among the most enthusiastic in our worship of God.”

Amen. May God cause us to grow more God-conscious, that we may freely rejoice in our Savior.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

“Our eyes look to the Lord”

Thinking about the tragedy at Virginia Tech...

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

Psalm 123:1-2

Monday, April 16, 2007

Check out this book

I can’t begin to describe how much a book like this one, written about at the Desiring God blog, is needed. I’ve not read it, but judging from the description, if there is a young lady or young man with whom you have some influence (daughter/son, niece/nephew, student in youth group, etc.), you should think about getting this book for her/him to read. It breaks my heart when girls “give it up” to every guy that comes along, and when guys think behaving like a “dog” makes them a “man”.

Read this book recommendation, and then check out the book

“Sweet Drudgery”

Tim Challies observes that sometimes the Christian life can seem like drudgery. I say “seem”, because, actually, it is not drudgery at all. There is great blessing even in routine, if that routine brings glory to God. The apostle Paul must have anticipated this sinful human tendency to become bored with the Christian life. He writes to the churches of Galatia: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Anyway, Challies point out that our desire for complete fulfillment on this side of eternity can possibly make us prey to the pernicious evil of “health and wealth” teaching (i.e., the “gospel” according to TBN):

“It often seems like drudgery to wake up early in the morning to spend a few minutes or an hour reading the Bible and coming to the Lord in prayer. Going to church and worshiping with the Lord's people or spending time reading an edifying book can seem hard and monotonous. This Christian life can become routine and we can begin to despise the monotony of it. And this is precisely where the gospel of health and wealth appeals to people. It promises a glorious life, a carefree, fulfilling, abundant life in the here and now. But this is a mere counterfeit of Christian doctrine. It bypasses hard work and offers short-term, selfish fulfillment and calls it godly, abundant fulfillment. It is a fraud.”

Read the entire article here.

Tips for Talking About Race

Thabiti Anyabwile writes,

“In the face of injustice, find legitimate ways to point out that an alien righteousness is needed to solve these problems. Instead of allowing yourself to feel the burden of a false guilt, talk about the real guilt of sin that separates sinful man from God and places Him squarely before the wrath of a Holy God. Point out that the true guilt of racism, etc. comes not from having mistreated men but having defaced the glory of God by mistreating men made in His image. Affirm the ethnic identities of other—not as ultimate goods—but as penultimate goods that are used by God's design to heighten His glory and praise (ultimate good) in the redemption of men.”

I think that Brother Thabiti offers some excellent tips for talking about race. Read the entire article here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The importance and seriousness of preaching

Do you think preaching is important?

I do. I think preaching is vitally important. Why? Because God says so (Romans 10:13-15, emphasis mine):

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

“How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Souls eternally perish without preaching. The Church dies without preaching. I think of what the apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-2, emphasis mine):

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

In a message preached last year at Together for the Gospel, while recounting J.I. Packer’s well-known story about his first experience of hearing Martyn Lloyd-Jones preach, Piper makes what I think is an insightful parenthetical comment about the contemporary attitude towards preaching:

“When J. I. Packer was a twenty-two-year-old student, he heard Lloyd-Jones preach every Sunday evening in London during the school year of 1948-1949. He said that he had ‘never heard such preaching.’ (That’s why so many people say so many minimizing and foolish things about preaching—they have never heard true preaching. They have no basis for judgment about the usefulness of true preaching.) Packer said it came to him ‘with the force of electric shock, bringing…more of a sense of God than any other man’ he had known.”

I think Piper is right. Many “have never heard true preaching.” In my opinion, that’s a sad and tragic fact, not only in the “mainline” (and, largely, unbelieving) church, but also within evangelicalism.

Let me speak for myself: To the best of my recollection, I don’t think I ever heard any true preaching until I was nearly grown (if then). I certainly never heard the likes of a Lloyd-Jones or Piper. I still marvel over how some believers in America can be over-fed, with Bible teaching, Bible preaching, books and conferences galore, while other segments of the church are near starving. I’m a product of the starving segment of the American church. The Lord used an old, written transcription of a radio sermon to bring about my salvation. I had never heard in church what I read in that booklet.

I also remember having the attitude that, when it came to sermons, the shorter the better (A fact that I now find amusing, because I’ve always had a terribly difficult time preaching a sermon in under 40 minutes). That all changed after I was saved and as my hunger to know God’s word grew. Nevertheless, my hunger was usually never satisfied in church. I (like a whole lot of believers I’ve known) had to supplement my “diet” with Christian radio, Christian television, books and cassette tapes.

Which causes me to wonder: Are we evangelicals really hungry for a word from the Lord? Do we approach the preaching moment anxious to hear from heaven? Sometimes, I have to wonder. Personally, I just want to hear from God.

Piper makes a further observation about the contemporary attitude towards preaching:

“Oh that the rising generations would see that the world is not overrun with a sense of seriousness about God. There is no surplus in the church of a sense of God’s glory. There is no excess of earnestness in the church about heaven and hell and sin and salvation. And therefore the joy of many Christians is paper thin. By the millions people are amusing themselves to death with DVDs, and 107-inch TV screens, and games on their cell phones, and slapstick worship, while the spokesmen of a massive world religion write letters to the West in major publications saying, ‘The first thing we are calling you to is Islam… It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah’s Word and religion reign Supreme.’ And then these spokesmen publicly bless suicide bombers who blow up children in front of Falafel shops and call it the way to paradise. This is the world in which we preach.

“And yet incomprehensibly, in this Christ-diminishing, soul-destroying age, books and seminars and divinity schools and church growth specialists are bent on saying to young pastors, ‘Lighten up.’ ‘Get funny.’ ‘Do something amusing.’ To this I ask, Where is the spirit of Jesus?”

I don’t know about you, but, I don’t go to church in order to laugh. I’m not against humor—just ask my wife! (She maintains I need my own comedy show)—but it seems to me that the gathering for corporate worship is not the time to be entertained. I don’t want to be entertained; I want to be awed by God. I want to be captivated by His glory. I even want to be convicted of my sin and humbled by His holiness. And, yes, I want to rejoice in a wonderful Savior and “such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).

But, I don’t want to listen to a comedy sketch.

I can think of innumerable reasons why I deserve the fires of hell. I only know of one reason I won’t go there: the grace of God. When I consider that God would condescend to save “a wretch like me”, how can I not be serious? I’m convinced that preaching is an extremely important and serious business. If I had not heard the word of the gospel, I could not have believed. And if that word had not been preached, I would have never heard.

If you’d like to read the transcription of Piper’s entire message (and I recommend you do), click here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My two cents…

For once, I agree with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton:

Don Imus should have been fired.

But, the job is not done. Now, Jackson, Sharpton and the others should go after the much bigger, more influential, far wealthier villains in this ongoing saga that is race in America: The ignorant, thuggish, sex-driven, women-bashing, drug-promoting, violence-celebrating performers, promoters and producers of “gansta rap” and other, similarly loathsome elements of hip-hop culture.

You know, money is what keeps this filth going. I know if the record companies had to depend on me, they would’ve been out of business a long time ago. Somebody is buying this poison. Parents, is it your children? Is it you? Then, stop buying the stuff! Stop supporting it! Stop letting your children listen to, watch and buy that mess!

And, while I’m on it:
Parents, if the kid still lives under your roof, you’re still supposed to be in charge. Don’t allow filthy “music” (“gansta rap” or any other kind) in your home. If you find it, take it away (don’t ask your child for permission!). Throw it out. Take away the I-Pod, if you have to. Stop watching BET. Turn off MTV. Stop letting your children feed their minds on filth!

I work in a public high school. I see teenagers in the hallways and in the classroom. And, I’m telling you: This stuff that’s going in their ears, from their I-Pods, is poisoning their souls.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Some faces to put with some names

Recently, I wrote my testimony and mentioned my family and those whom God used to help bring me into a knowledge of Him. It occurred to me that, perhaps, some of you would be interested in seeing what some of these people looked like. Four of the family members I mentioned in my testimony are present in the photo above (I finally figured out how to attach a photo).
This photo is one of my favorites (I have mentioned it before, and it is located in my profile). It is from the latter half of 1971, as I remember, and it shows 5 generations of the Duncan family. Seated, in the center, is Richmond Duncan or “Grandpa Duncan” (1871-1972), who was my great-great grandfather. He was 100 years old at the time this photo was taken. The two women are his daughters, Minnie (to the left) and Wylodine (to the right). Minnie or “Grandma” (1896-1986), is my great grandmother. Her husband, William or “Pa Bill” (1905-1989), is behind her. Grandma and Pa Bill are the ones who took me in when I was 2 months old, and raised me to adulthood. My great-great aunt, Wylodine or “Aint Willie” (1898-1998), lived next door to us, and probably did more than any other person to introduce me to Jesus. Standing behind Grandpa Duncan is Grandma’s only child, my grandfather, Barney Quentin or “Daddy” (1919-2000). On the far left and far right are Daddy’s two sons, my Uncles, Barney David (on the left) and Charles (on the right). In Daddy’s arms and on Grandpa Duncan’s lap are Charles’ two oldest sons, my cousins, Adam and Gabriel. Finally, standing to the right of Grandpa Duncan, is me (one of the extremely rare photos of me in shorts). I was 8 years old.

An “anniversary”

Today is the 14th anniversary of my wife and me becoming parents.

Which is my way of saying: Today is my son’s birthday!

Happy Birthday, Evan!

I love you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Resurrection Day 2007

Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Again

Christ, the Lord, is risen again,
Christ hath broken every chain;
Hark! Angelic voices cry,
Singing evermore on high,
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

He who gave for us his life,
Who for us endured the strife,
Is our Paschal Lamb today!
We, too, sing for joy, and say,
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

He who bore all pain and loss,
Comfortless, upon the cross,
Lives in glory now on high,
Pleads for us, and hears our cry:
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Now he bids us tell abroad
How the lost may be restored,
How the penitent forgiven,
How we, too, may enter heaven!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Michael Weiss, c. 1488-1534
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1827-1878

Low In the Grave He Lay

Low in the grave He lay—Jesus, my Savior!
Waiting the coming day—Jesus, my Lord!

Vainly they watch His bed—Jesus, my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead—Jesus, my Lord!

Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away—Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign;
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Robert Lowry, 1826-1899

Luke 23:1-6

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

For the last three or four years, part of my observance of Good Friday has included attending the noonday service at an Episcopal Church in our area, where the main feature has been their choir’s performance (in English) of one of J.S. Bach’s settings of the Gospel Passion narratives (minus the solo arias). This year, the choir performed Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew.

I think Bach’s Passions are rich musical and spiritual experiences. The majority of the text is taken from the Gospel narrative with verses from chorales (hymns that would have been familiar to Bach’s original audience) inserted periodically throughout the work. I easily found myself meditating on what my Savior suffered for “us sinners and our salvation”.

There was one chorale verse, in particular, which stood out in my mind, and caused me to reflect on my own sin:

’Tis I who should, repenting, in torture unrelenting, endure the pains of Hell. The bands with which they bound Thee, and all wrongs around Thee, were by my soul deserved full well.

Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). It was for those who trust in Him, that Christ died. He didn’t deserve execution, but the “torture” and “pains of Hell…were by my soul deserved full well.” That why I have to wonder how it is that I can continue to sin against God? Does Christ’s suffering and death mean nothing to me? Sometimes, I wish the old Holiness Methodist doctrine of “entire sanctification” (or “sinless perfection”) was true! I wish it was somehow possible to eradicate the sin nature. But, unfortunately, it’s not possible. Unfortunately, I sin because sin is “in me that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18).

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:18-20).

With Paul, I cry, “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24 KJV), and my heart is filled with shame.

However, upon further reflection, my heart is also filled with grateful rejoicing, because every sin I commit is one for which Jesus has already died. I’m reminded that God already knew about all the sins you or I would commit when He determined to send Jesus to die in our place. I’m reminded that Jesus died not only for sins past and present, but He also died for sins yet to be committed. The blood Jesus shed almost 2,000 years ago made atonement for sins I commit today. Thankfully, God is not the god of the “Open Theists”—one who has no idea what the future holds. Absolutely not!

“I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

God knows all things. Ephesians 1:4 records that “[the Father] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world…” We who trust in Christ do so because God declared “from the beginning” that we would be His. To accomplish our salvation, the guilt of every sin that we would ever commit was laid on Jesus. Jesus drank from the cup of God’s wrath against sin and, as C.J. Mahaney wrote, left nothing in that cup for His people to drink—He drank it all!1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

“So, admit you’re the worst sinner you know. Admit you’re unworthy and deserve to be condemned. But don’t stop there! Move on to rejoicing in the Savior who came to save the worst of sinners. Lay down the luggage of condemnation and kneel down in worship at the feet of Him who bore your sins.”2

Mark Lauterbach provides some more reflection on what Good Friday is all about, right here.

1C.J. Mahaney, Christ Our Mediator: Finding Passion at the Cross (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publisher, Inc., 2004), p. 57.

2C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2002), p. 44

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some reading for thinking Christians

My brain must be tired. I can’t think of how to introduce these links to some recent postings by Dr. Al Mohler. So, just click on them. Trust me: they’re good. You ought to read them. And I think I’ll get ready to go to bed. Goodnight!

“What is Christianity without truth?”

Encouragement for pastors

Thabiti Anyabwile is continuing his series on “The Pastor’s Heart in Paul’s Letters”, with the posting of Part 7. In case you missed them, here are links to Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

As an encouragement to pastors, I want to leave you with this quote from Part 7:

We should recognize that prophesying is the primary scriptural method for edifying the body (1 Cor. 14:1-5). As pastors and teachers, then, we're not to neglect the ministry of the Word as the primary method for building up the church. It's the proclamation of the Word that edifies, comforts, and exhorts (v. 3). And we need to remain committed to this ministry even when we don't see the immediate fruit of it. Building high and building steady requires building deep. Our preaching and teaching ministries, if owned by the Holy Spirit, may for a time be excavating, foundation and plumbing laying ministries with little visible architecture. But if we keep building deep, the Lord will build sturdy and high His church.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Testimony:

(This post was inspired by a call by Tim Challies for Christian bloggers to post their testimonies on their blogs. So, for this “Testimony Tuesday”, here’s my story:)
The short story is I was saved while reading an old “Radio Bible Class” booklet by the late Dr. M.R. DeHaan, that my great-great aunt (my great grandmother’s sister, “Aint Willie”) had loaned to me, entitled, “Eternal Security”. While reading Dr. DeHaan’s explanation of the gospel, God sovereignly shined in my soul, giving “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), and I was born again. That happened sometime during the summer of 1980, between my junior and senior years of high school, when I was 16 or 17 years old. The only reason I don’t remember an exact date is because I didn’t write it down. Nevertheless, I do remember the moment when, as it were, the “light bulb came on”, and I “got it” for the first time: Jesus took my place, bore my sins and suffered the wrath of God that I deserved, in order that, through faith in Him, I might receive His righteousness, the forgiveness of my sins and acceptance with God. My life has not been the same since that moment.

Like I said, that’s the short story.

The longer version of my testimony goes all the way back to 1963, when I was born to a 15-year-old girl from North Chicago, Illinois (a far north suburb of Chicago). My father, who was 19 years old at the time, was driven off by my incensed grandmother (she threatened to kill him), so he, understandably, stayed away and was never a part of my growing up years.

Although today, many hold a very casual view of out-of-wedlock sex and pregnancy, at the time I was conceived, these things still carried a social stigma. My grandmother—“Ma Becky”—being one who was very concerned about “keeping up appearances”, decided to take my mother out of high school, and send her off to stay in a home for unwed mothers until I was born, at which time I would be put up for adoption. So, following my birth, I was given over to the care of my foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins, an older Black couple in Markham, Illinois (a south suburb of Chicago).

From this point, who knows where my life could have gone. The statistics on children born out-of-wedlock (we were called “illegitimate” in those days) have never been promising. I was told Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins were good people who took very good care of me. But, perhaps I could have been bounced from foster home to foster home. Maybe I would have been adopted. Only God knows all the possibilities. However, in God’s providence, He had other plans for my life.

My grandfather—“Daddy”—had never been in agreement with putting me up for adoption; he wanted to keep me in the family. In what, perhaps, was his only act of defiance against Ma (unfortunately, Ma “ruled the roost”), Daddy obtained legal guardianship of me and arranged to bring me “home” to North Chicago, in order to place me with his mother and step-father (all without Ma’s knowledge). And so, it happened that at 2 months old, I came to live with my great grandparents, “Grandma” and “Pa Bill”. Grandma, at this time, was almost 67 years old; “Pa Bill” was 58. I don’t know how long it was planned for me to stay with Pa Bill and Grandma, but, as it turned out, my stay with them became permanent. Although they never had legal custody of me, I lived with them until they died (Grandma died in 1986, when she was almost 90, and Pa Bill died in 1989, only days before what would have been his 84th birthday).

Here’s what I think is so awesome: God “fixed it so” that I was not raised by my mother (who was not, and, to date, is not, a Christian). Neither did He allow me to be raised by Daddy and Ma (who, although church members, were only nominal Christians). Rather, God reached back three generations and got my great grandparents to raise me. Because of God’s intervention, I was raised in a Christian home where God was respected and honored as the Creator and Judge to whom all are accountable, where the Bible was regarded as true, where heaven and hell were accepted as real places, and where the only way to get to heaven was to be “born again.” By God’s plan, I was placed in a home where Christianity was fully embraced, where the Church was respected, and where salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ was considered an essential for life and eternity.

God placed me in a home where I was nurtured by a wise Christian woman. It was my privilege to see Grandma read her Bible every morning. I had many opportunities to sit at her knee and ask (and have answered) any question I had about the Bible, about God, about the things of God—anything I wanted to know. What Grandma lacked in formal education, God more than made up for in the solid wisdom that she possessed. In Grandma, I had a rock-solid guide and mentor. Also, Grandma spent much time in secret prayer. Often, she had trouble sleeping at night. She told me, when she couldn’t sleep, she would pray. I know she prayed for me.

As far as Pa Bill: In all honesty, I’m not absolutely sure about his salvation, because I’m not sure in whom he trusted for salvation. In many ways, Pa Bill was very legalistic. However, I think that was because he didn’t know much in the way of Christian doctrine. And he didn’t know much because He rarely read the Bible. And, he rarely read the Bible because He could barely read. So, Pa Bill was wrong about a lot of things. He could see other’s sins, but he often seemed to be blind to his own sins. Nevertheless, Pa Bill did do many things right. For one thing, he set an example as a faithful church member, who never missed a Sunday. He didn’t send me to Sunday School, but he took me and sat with me in class (He really was more comfortable reading with the young children who were learning to read, and so when I got older and moved up to the higher grades, he stayed with the young children and became a Sunday School helper). Pa Bill taught me that God “sits high and looks low” and “sees the deep secrets of every man’s heart.” Therefore, “He knows who serves Him right”; and “He knows who serves Him wrong” (That may not seem like much, but there are millions today, with far more education than Pa Bill, who don’t have enough sense to acknowledge these basic truths!). When I was a little boy, Pa Bill taught me to pray, and prayed with me every night. And, finally, Pa Bill was an example to me of what a real man should be: he worked hard and provided for his family; he was a man of integrity and a man of his word; he was responsible, respectable and respected by all; and he was not a flirt: He was faithful to Grandma for 51 years, until her death.

In this day of single-parent households, absentee fathers, and divorce, I thank God for placing this here “illegitimate” child in a stable, solid and peaceful Christian home, with a “mother” and “father” who loved me and were committed to each other.

I thank God, also, for the “bonus” blessing of “Aint Willie”—Grandma’s only sister, Wylodine. Aunt Willie was my third “parent”. She had been a widow since Uncle Ed’s death in 1957, and lived alone, next door to Grandma and Pa Bill. At the time I was brought home, Aunt Willie was 65 years old. The Lord blessed me to have Aunt Willie in my life for 35 years! To me, she was the epitome of the godly widow (1 Timothy 5:5):

“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.”

Aunt Willie and Uncle Ed had no children, so she was “truly a widow.” Like the apostle instructed, she spent untold hours in secret prayer and intercession. I know she spent much of her free time reading God’s word or reading about God’s word, or listening to Christian teachers on the radio in order to learn about God’s word. Besides Grandma, Aunt Willie was my other source of wisdom and instruction, especially instruction about God and His word. And, as I said at the outset, Aunt Willie was the messenger God used to bring the gospel to me, when she loaned me that booklet by the late Dr. M.R. DeHaan. As it turned out, when Aunt Willie died in 1998, at the age of 100, it was my privilege to preach her eulogy.

My story is a testimony to God’s sovereignty over unbelief and nominal Christianity—and the sexual sin, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and misguided plan to have me “sent away”, that were the result of that unbelief—in order that I would not only stay with my natural family, but be placed in a home where I had the opportunity to come into a true knowledge of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. To God be all the glory.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Eighteen years ago on this date, alone in my bedroom, on my knees, I embraced God’s “call” to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was with fear and trembling and a great sense of unworthiness, as well as a deep awareness of my sin and weakness, that I tearfully said “Yes” to the Lord. The next morning, which was a Sunday, I told my great grandfather. Later that morning, at church, I told my pastor. Thus began this unbelievable odyssey that I’ve been on for the last 18 years.

At the time I answered God’s “call”, I was a committed member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church—the denomination in which I was raised—and an active part of the local church of which my family had been a part for over 60 years, at the time. God’s “call” came within the context of a growing passion in my soul for the spiritual needs of the Black community. You see, my heart ached for the church, particularly “the people in the pew” who, in many cases, were starving for the “living bread” (John 6:51) in churches where the word of God wasn’t preached, spiritually wandering “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). My constant prayer for several months had been that of Saul, when struck down on the road to Damascus: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6 KJV). I desperately wanted to be used by God.

After I made my calling known to my local church and the denominational conference, I embarked on the five-year process to full ordination, and prepared myself for life as an “itinerant elder” (i.e., a pastor) until retirement or death, whichever came first. My main ambition was simply to preach God’s word, feed Christ’s sheep, and win the lost.

As you know, if you’ve followed this blog, the journey hasn’t been anything like I imagined it would be. I achieved ordination, but I never was appointed to a pastorate. The denomination I thought I would serve in for the rest of my life, I ended up leaving in disgust and disappointment. The institution of the Black Church, which I longed to serve, never (to date) embraced me as warmly as the predominantly White church where my family and I now fellowship. As a result of saying “Yes” to God 18 years ago, I have experienced great highs, but I’ve also experienced crushing lows. I’ve had my share of joy as well as pain. There have been times in ministry when I’ve thought, “Yes! This is what I was born to do!” At other times, my faith has been staggered by heartbreaking experiences of profound disappointment. If it weren’t for the grace of God, I wouldn’t be here:
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.

Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124)
The apostle I most identify with is Peter. There have been times over the last several years when I’ve felt just like Peter must have felt when, after the resurrection, he tells the 6 other disciples with him, “I am going fishing”—going back to what he was doing before Jesus ever showed up (John 21). Perhaps, Peter felt it all had been a mistake. Certainly, Peter had messed up: he had denied his Lord. Whatever Peter’s hopes had been for ministry, most likely they had gone up in smoke. After all, the “movement” that Jesus led had fallen apart. The crowds from that first Palm Sunday had long gone. Judas Iscariot had hanged himself. So Peter says, “I’ll just go back to doing something I know how to do: fish.”

Eighteen years ago, I was a public school teacher, nearing the end of the second year of my first fulltime teaching job. Having perceived God’s call, my focus was set on ministry in the church. With all the closed doors and disappointments of the last 18 years, I’ve been sorely tempted to conclude that, perhaps, I made a mistake. Maybe God never called me to the ministry. Perhaps I’ve been self-deceived. Maybe I should just go back to doing something I know how to do: teach music.

But, then there is that well-known exchange between Jesus and Peter (John 21:15-17):
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
In the place of Peter in this text, I put myself: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

“Wyeth, feed my sheep.”

Eighteen years ago, 1 Corinthians 9:16 was laid on my heart:
For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
I still feel this burden, this “woe”. I still have the desire. I still see the need. I still long to be used by God…any way that He wants to use me. My prayer remains, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”