Thanks to all who have prayed for Atlas over the last week or so. We received word today that we have been cleared on the zoning charges. Atlas is free to meet in the downtown district. There are always opportunities for appeals, if our enemies are so inclined, but pray that they might see the futility of further attacks.
Other than a few shuffles of class locations, we have continued classes as usual. And one hopes that the last six weeks of classes will be fairly uneventful. Thanks for your continued prayers.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Posted by Toby at 3:26 PM
Honest to God
Everyone tries to give a shot at the question, ‘what’s with the Moscow crowd?’ Or those already in town, ‘What’s with Christ Church and Doug Wilson?” So I fling this answer out just in case you care what I think. It is my blog after all. It’s what you’re here for right?
So what’s with Moscow? What’s with Christ Church? We believe that the Triune God made heaven and earth in six days. Our first parents sinned, disobeying God’s command and the world was plunged into sin and death. But God in his great mercy and kindness sent his Son to become a man and redeem us from the bondage of sin. Jesus came to set us free from sin. He did and so we are. Yeah sure, says the skeptic, lot’s of people believe that, but why Christian schools and colleges? Why poetry and stories? Why dancing and feasting? Why dark beer and drama and art? Why all the flack? The true and honest answer is that we love life. We love the God of heaven. We love the freedom we have been given. We are grateful, overflowing people astounded at the goodness of God and the goodness of creation. And we are thankful down in our bones.
But no one can love without hating. If something or someone is truly loved, that which might destroy it, is detested. Love assumes protection. Love demands a guard. The man who refuses to guard what he says he loves is a liar. We defend what we love.
We love God. We love his law. We love the freedom we have been given, and we believe it is the only true freedom. And this God and the life he has given us is more precious to us than anything else in the world. We would gladly die for it, and we will fight for freedom from sin and evil with all the gusto we can muster. That’s what we are. We are men and women and children committed to living honestly before God. We hate guilt. We hate sin. We hate every cultural attack on the freedom we hold so dear. We are freemen before God. And we are free down in our bones. We stand before God honestly, openly, and grateful. And that’s the truth, honest to God.
Posted by Toby at 3:21 PM
Monday, April 25, 2005
Joining the Fray
The last several years have seen a proliferation of attacks on anything remotely related to Christ Church. In fact for a while the intoleristas boycotted every restaurant in Moscow because they realized we ate there too. But realizing that meant they'd go hungry, they've eased up a bit and settled down in the area of zoning and building codes.
But that's pretty much the skinny. Atlas is under fire from two individuals who have far too much time on their hands.
It was only a matter of time really. You see we're scary. Boo. Gotcha didn't I? 15 boys in sweater vests. Yikes, I know. But it's true.
Pray for us that the final weeks of school would not be to disturbed. Pray that we would find favor in the eyes of city officials. And pray that God would bless our enemies with more fruitful work.
Posted by Toby at 5:16 PM
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Atlas School: Missions Update
Atlas School continues to flourish under God’s blessing. Jamin White, Mark Reagan, Mark Beauchamp, and Toby Sumpter continue to teach and lead the young men in their studies. We are also grateful for the oversight of our board: Bruce Evans, Joe Kline, Bill Amos, and Jeff Handel. As spring is nearing, many of the students have begun training for Lacrosse. The Atlas “Giborim” (“Mighty Ones”) are particularly enjoying the new equipment we have this year through a US Lacrosse grant. Coach Kline already has the guys running and sweating happily.
One of the central goals of Atlas is to instill in young men a love for life. This means among other things that our aim is to fill our days together with sacrifice. If any man would find his life, he must first lose it for the sake of Christ (Mt. 10:39). Worshipping, feasting, reading, laughing, drawing: these are all opportunities not only for joy but for service. Head knowledge is nothing without love. Please continue to pray that we would pursue this task faithfully. Pray that we would not only speak and read intelligently, but that we would do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Pray also that God would send the right students, families, and provide teachers, as we plan for next fall. We are grateful for your continued prayers and encouraging words.
Posted by Toby at 3:56 PM
The Justice of God
The book of Romans is about the justice of God. Paul's concern from the beginning is how God can be just and still reject Israel. Isn't God being unjust or unrighteous in cutting Israel off and grafting the Gentiles in? Paul's answer is no, of course. God is just because his faithfulness and promises are still in effect to those with faith. Abraham was not yet circumcised when God vindicated him. What did God vindicate him from? God vindicated him from the taunts of his neighbors and family in Ur, who may have believed he was crazy to take up the nomadic habit. God viewed him and showed him to be in the right when he had interaction with pagan kings and other inhabitants of the land of promise. Why did God say that Abraham was right? Why did God deliver him from his enemies? Because Abraham believed God and obeyed him.
One of Abraham's great vindications was when God gave him a son from the barren womb of Sarah. Isaac was a flesh and blood declaration from God saying, 'Abraham is right for doing what he does. He's with me.' Circumcision was a seal, a physical mark that said God had made a covenant with Abraham, but it was Abraham's faith that proved he was right. Abraham believed God, and therefore Abraham was right. And if Abraham was right then all that befell him necessarily required God's justice. Abraham was in the right. Therefore God the judge, in order to judge justly, bound himself to rule in Abraham's favor. But how can this be when all that Abraham ever did was not just or right. Abraham sometimes was unjust and not right. How can God rule in his favor every time, when sometimes Abraham was bound to be wrong? God basically said to Abraham, 'I will take care of this later. For now, you're right, even when your wrong. Trust me.'
But what about God's promises? God's promises remained unfulfilled to Abraham. The story that God had told Abraham was not at an end when Abraham died. Abraham's death before seeing the rest of the story cries out for justice. Abraham's sojourning, his altar building, his household building is worthless to Abraham if he does not see God's promises fulfilled. But Abraham dies believing God, believing that God will vindicate him. That even from death, God is able to vindicate. For death is necessarily wrong. It is wicked, it is backward, and it is opposed to the very nature of God. God's justice requires that Abraham's wrongs be acquitted and his death be revearsed.
But this is of course the rest of Paul's point. When Adam and Eve sinned, they died, and sin came into the world. But this same sin and death was placed upon Jesus Christ on the cross. This would have made the cross no different than any other cross in Palestine at this time, except for the fact that Jesus was innocent. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, having God for his Father, and therefore He was not under the reign of sin and death. But he submitted to death, humbling himself, taking upon himself the sin and death of the world. Christ's death was the answer to Abraham's (and our) wrongs. Christ's blood was the just due of all our injustice, every time we were, are, or will be wrong. But that was not the end. Christ was right and yet he died as though he was wrong. He was accused by the Jewish and Roman officials. They condemned him as a blasphemer. He was convicted of their charges, and he died before the multitude a guilty man, when he was in fact not guilty. This is the great injustice of history. This is the greatest injustice of history. Murder, rape, abuse, torture, famine, and calamity all pale in comparison. The problem of evil is here if nowhere else. How could a good and just God allow that?
And had the story ended there, God would be unjust. But it did not. The way that God has made the world is such that death cannot stick to the innocent. We often speak of life as being hard to preserve, death being difficult to beat. But for those who are right it is quite the opposite, death is hard to preserve, and life cannot be beat. Christ was right and the scribes and pharisees were wrong. Jesus was right, Pilot and the masses were wrong. How do we know this? Because Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection proves Jesus right. It is his vindication for the world to see. Jesus paid the penalty for our wrongs, so that God might justly say that we are right, even when we have been wrong, that we are just, even when we have been unjust. And He rose from the dead both so that the world would know that Jesus was right, but so that we might know what happens to people who die being right: They rise from the dead. In this sense, the death of every believer is unjust and cries out to God for vindication. The graves of the just are memorials before God demanding his justice.
But with Abraham, we are sure that we have been and will be vindicated because we believe God. We believe God, obey Him, and He says we're right and all of our enemies are wrong. He judges on our behalf because we believe Him. Faith is what makes us right. Unbelief makes others wrong. And whatever our accusers may say, whatever accusations they may bring, whatever they may convict us of, we may live confidently knowing that the Judge of the whole earth will do right. Every wrong against us will be declared wrong, and those who plot against us will be destroyed. Justice will be served, and though we may die, life will win out over death, and we will wake up like Jesus in indestructable bodies. And we will smile at our enemies, because we knew we were right all along.
Posted by Toby at 1:38 PM