Friday, December 30, 2011

Ask RC: What Now?

During my Denise’s battle we were all needy enough that we asked for and welcomed prayers for all of us. The grave issue, the underlying problem, was of course her illness. I too prayed for strength for me, for peace for the children. I prayed that God would use the beauty of Denise’s character to draw in the elect. Most of all, however, I prayed that Denise would be made well, that the cancer would be beaten, that she would be blessed with health, comfort and joy. It is rare indeed when we can see such specific prayers answered so clearly and powerfully.

For nine months I have awakened each morning knowing my wife was weak, fragile, fearful, weary and in pain. She was in danger of sinking deeper into illness. I knew it likely that when I would visit her she would at some point cry in sorrow, and that I couldn’t fix it. I prayed against the weakness, the fear and fragility, the weariness and the pain. I prayed against the tears and the sorrow. And now my prayers have been heard. What we wanted for her she has received, and more. We, His children, all together asked for bread for her. He didn’t give her a stone. He didn’t give her bread. He gave her Jesus. She who awoke pity in the hearts of thousands now has awakened with Him, with more health, more comfort, more joy than all of us combined. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man all that she has already been blessed with (I Corinthians 2:9).

What though of the rest of us, those left behind? We had prayed for strength, for perseverance, for peace. These prayers He has likewise heard. We are, by His grace, strong enough that we are still here, that we have persevered. And we are at peace in our confidence that He will continue to so bless. We have work to do. I have children to raise, and they have the fruit of the Spirit to cultivate. I have lectures to prepare, sermons to preach, articles and chapters to write, and the fruit of the Spirit to cultivate. But there’s one more thing we have to do, me and my children, my extended family and friends. We need to mourn. A commitment to God’s goodness in calling Denise home, a commitment to God’s goodness in taking her from us, does not put mourning out of bounds. Jesus Himself wept just moments before He knew He would call Lazarus out of that tomb. I am not in the least ashamed of my tears. We mourn, but not as those who are without hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).

We do not fail in our work because we are mourning. We do not fail in our mourning as we work. We beautify each with the other. We will do both in accordance with our convictions. We mourn and we work with hope, knowing that all that we do for the kingdom will withstand that great conflagration of wood, hay and stubble.

Many of you, out of tender hearts, no doubt are concerned about practical matters, about logistics. Raising eight children is a jaw-dropping sized job for two healthy parents. Add in homeschooling and the challenge becomes more daunting. And now we go forward without my wife. What is the plan? The plan is to continue to honor both God’s Word and Denise’s legacy. We will continue to speak of Jesus and His kingdom when the children lie down and when they rise up. We will continue to homeschool the children. We will seek out more help around the house. I will seek to remove a few things from my plate, without sweeping its contents in the disposal. We will work hard and efficiently, still guided by the hand written lists and instructions Denise so loved to put together. I don’t, now that she is gone, need to build the transcontinental railroad. I just have to keep the train on the track my wife has so lovingly built.

Prayers for strength, wisdom and perseverance, are of course not just welcomed but coveted. But do not pray as those who are without hope- that’s just worrying on your knees. Instead pray with confidence to our loving Father. I know how powerfully He is not just able, not just willing, but how eager He is to bless, because I’ve seen what He has done for my wife. What now? Give thanks.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can You Remember?

Note: RC wrote this two days before Denise died.

Though children tend to see “I forgot” as an excuse, the Bible seems to see it as a condemnation. God is good to us from our births, and we forget. We look forward, waiting and wondering if and when God will give us what we want. In so doing we forget that we got to this point by the grace of God, forgetting His sundry deliverances along the way. We accept the status quo as our rightful starting point, and dare the ask the Lord of heaven and earth, “What have You done for me lately?

Death, on the other hand, can be good for the memory. Considering what my life will be like without my wife makes me consider what life was like before she blessed us. Already I am finding myself making what were once simple decisions without the blessing of her wisdom, and feeling the paucity of my own insight. I am already living the wisdom of that aphorism that reminds us we will not miss the water until the well runs dry.

I suspect the solution here is less “preparing” for loss, and more gratitude for what was found. That is, as I face a future without the spiritual wisdom of my bride it is less important that I bank what I can still receive from her, and more important that I give thanks to God for all the wisdom He has bestowed over the years through her. Looking through the gift of her wisdom to the source of that wisdom makes it less likely that I will miss her wisdom while I miss her.

My wife’s greatest fear today as her final days slip away isn’t about herself. That’s what she’s like. She is worried about me and the children. I seek to put her at ease by reminding her that the source of the wisdom she gave our family isn’t her as my wife, but Jesus as my husband. He has been taking care of us through her. When she goes, He will still take care of us.

Years ago as I expressed to my then young bride my heart’s desire that He would bless me soon with the honor of a martyr’s death she understandably asked, “But who will take care of us?” I replied wisely, “The same Man who has been taking care of you all along.” Now I am facing the same truth, that all that we have received through Denise ultimately came from the gracious hand and loving heart of Jesus. And He already died once, and will not die again.

It was the grace of God that gave us all a blessed life in southwest Virginia. Leaving there didn’t mean leaving that blessing. In like manner it was the grace of God that gave us the blessed life of having Denise for a wife and mother. Losing her doesn’t mean losing that grace. It means remembering where it ultimately came from. To confuse God’s means of grace with His grace is to fall into idolatry. To look beyond and through the blessing to its Giver is to understand how our God works through what He has made. God loves me. Where I live, and with whom doesn’t change that but reveals that. My calling is to give thanks.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Praying Friends

It is not an easy thing to discern where a given soul is headed. The elders of the local church are called with the task of determining the credibility of the professions of those under their care. Because we are all sinners, the presence of sin in a man’s life does not answer the question. Because we all profess Christ, the theological accuracy of ones grasp of the gospel does not answer the question. It is a sticky business indeed.

In our day we, as with every other day, suffer from syncretism, the blending together of the worship of the living God with the worship of the spirit of the age. There are many who profess the name of Christ, who in turn lie like, think like, feel like, hunger like their unbelieving neighbors. Will these prove to be skin-of-their-teeth Christians, or will they prove to be wolves amidst the flock?

Though by no means a cure-all for this challenge, one unexpected test may be found amidst the surfeit of wisdom found in James 5. Who are your friends? When you find yourself in need of aid, to whom do you turn? James tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (verse 16). Now this certainly could be understood as yet another call to righteousness. Do you want your prayers to be effective, to avail much? Pursue righteousness.

That, however, has not been my perspective of late. In this great time of need that the Sproul family finds themselves in, I find myself giving thanks not only for my friends, but for the righteousness of my friends. I am forced to confess my own weakness as a righteous man. I am, however, blessed to confess that I have been blessed with righteous friends. We not only have, literally, thousands praying for us, but we have godly men and women praying for us. As I type my eldest is on the phone with Beall Phillips, a saintly woman and longtime friend of the family. Her prayers, according to James, availeth much, as do the prayers of her husband and children, all of whom manifest the righteousness of Christ in their loyal love to my family.

On my computer, as I type, the music of Nathan Clark George is playing. He too, along with his wife Patsy, are godly, and prayerful for me and mine. My mother, my father, my sister, the Steiman family, the Deweys, Windhams, Murphys, Hays, and dozens more families at Saint Peter Presbyterian in Virginia are praying prayers that availeth much. The saints at Saint Andrews here in Orlando, the saints at Heritage Covenant in Centreville, Tennessee, all of these are not just praying, but praying with power.

My desire here, however, is not merely to give thanks, but to encourage us all to pursue godly friends. Those who make friends with the world have only the world to pray for them. Those who love the saints, on the other hand, have those covered by the righteousness of Christ Himself praying on their behalf.

As the Sprouls move into what we expect to be the most difficult days of our lives, we know not only that we are not alone, not only that we are joined by thousands of pray-ers, but that we have righteous men and women lifting us up to and through the one Righteous Man, whose prayers are not for health and comfort, but that we would be conformed to His image. And His prayers availeth everything.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ask RC: What is Apostasy?

The Bible affirms two important truths that can seem at first blush difficult to reconcile. On the one hand the Bible affirms that all those who are brought to faith in Christ will be kept in the faith, and enter into paradise at their deaths. See I Corinthians 15:58, John 10:28, John 5:24, I John 2:19 and Romans 8. On the other hand the Bible also warns about the dangers of falling away. See Hebrews 6:4-6, Romans 11:17-22, I Timothy 1: 18-19, John 15: 1-2. If nothing can take believers from God’s hand, if those whom He justifies He glorifies, what is going on with those who are cut off, who trample on the blood? Are these warning merely hypothetical, or are we by them assured that what they warn against won’t come to pass? Are they temporarily saved, having received every blessing in Christ, save for persevering grace? No.

Apostasy is real, as is the perseverance of the saints. When God gives a person a new heart that embraces the work of Christ in faith, that person is at peace with God for always. Such a person could never completely fall away from the faith. Apostasy isn’t about those who have been blessed with a faith that trusts in the finished work of Christ alone. Apostasy is what happens when one moves from phenomenologically saved to phenomenologically unsaved, which demonstrates that this person was never ontologically saved.

Big words, I know. Their meanings, however, are fairly simple. All we mean by “phenomenologically” is “as the eye sees.” All we mean by “ontogically” is “as it actually is.” To put it more simply, apostasy is when a person who was a part of the visible church, but not a part of the invisible church, ceases to be a part of the visible church. The profession of faith is either no longer professed, or is deemed no longer to be credible by the elders of the church.

This may seem like rather small potatoes. No one’s soul is actually moving from life to death. That, however, doesn’t make it small potatoes. These lost souls (keeping in mind that at least in some circumstances those who “leave” the faith my yet be saved- see the man excommunicated in I Corinthians, who later repented and is brought back into the church in II Corinthians) are people who were, in terms of the visible church, a part of the body. They are not cut off cleanly. We loved them, enjoyed fellowship with them, and naturally mourn when they depart from us.

As a pastor I have seen men I loved excommunicated for unrepentant, gross and heinous sin. It broke my heart. I have seen whole families simply abandon the church (not our church, not even the Protestant church, but the church). It broke my heart. I have seen multiple families reject the Biblical gospel for the false gospel of Cathodoxy. It broke my heart. People I looked forward to spending eternity with, who I loved because I thought we shared a love for Christ, turned out to be imposters. People whom I hoped to see I heaven appeared to be goats.

Apostasy is real. It happens. It ought to break our hearts. And in turn our hearts must be comforted in knowing that He has never lost one of His own, and will never leave us, nor forsake us.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Doing Great Things

When we first learned that my little girl Shannon would always be a little girl, when we discovered about her first birthday that she was profoundly disabled, my father, a deeply compassionate man asked how I was handling the news. I told him that I had been preparing for this moment all my life. If anyone should be able to rest in the sovereignty of God it is me. The sovereignty of God is the cornerstone of Reformed theology, which theology I have been schooled in from my youth by one of its greatest living proponents.

The sovereignty of God, rightly understood, was the very core of my father’s best known work, The Holiness of God. The doctrine came front and center in his next book, Chosen by God. I was a young man when those books were first published. Like many others I ate them up, drank them in, and like too many young men, spat out their wisdom with precious little grace and care. I reveled in God’s sovereignty, and delighted in nothing more than to argue for, to defend, to proclaim that sovereignty.

That all changed, however, when I read still another book by my father, this one born of a family hardship. Surprised by Suffering begins with the still-born birth of my niece, Alissa. From there the book explores not just the truth that God ordains our suffering but why. The point that has stuck with me over the years was this- suffering isn’t something that happens, nor it is just something God permits. It is instead a vocation, a calling. God does not merely say, “I’m going to make you go through this.” Instead He says, “It is My desire for you that you should go through this. Follow Me.”

All of us, when we are brought into the kingdom, in joyful gratitude for the grace of God, want to do great things for the kingdom. Having been rescued by His glorious grace, we want in turn to rescue others, to serve the body, to proclaim the Good News. God has called us to do just that. He calls out heroes who take the message to strange and foreign lands. He calls out pastors who feed the sheep. He calls out teachers, like my father, who explain to the broader body the fullness of the gospel. Some, however, He calls to suffer.

My wife, for this part of His story, is called to suffer. Her role right now is to do this great thing for the kingdom- to be Jesus to us, so that we might be Jesus to her. She is Jesus to us because as we serve her, we remember His promise, that serving the least of these is serving Him (Matthew 25). We, in turn, are Jesus to her, precisely because the church is His body. When we pray for her, she rests in Jesus’ arms. When we bring a meal, she tastes Jesus feeding her. When we dry her eyes, she feels Jesus wiping away her tears.

Hers is not an easy calling. It is, however, a great one. Being Jesus means walking the via dolorosa. How blessed I am to walk that road with her, and with Him.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Headline Blues

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine
Open Letter to Ted Turner

Dear Ted,

Can I call you Ted? Before I get to any of the uncomfortable stuff, first let me thank you profusely for gifting me with year after year of the greatest television show ever put on. It is because of you that I am now the proud owner of 252 of the 259 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. It’s almost enough to make me forget when Sid slid, and my Pittsburgh Pirates went home empty handed. Of course I understand that it wasn’t really a gift to me at all. Rather we had what might be called a business relationship. You agreed to provide the stories of Mayberry, and I agreed, to one degree or another, to watch advertisements. After years of thinking of television as free, I finally discovered what is really happening. The whole show is just a long form infomercial. The shows themselves exist for the ultimate purpose of getting my attention long enough to persuade me to buy this brand of toothpaste rather than that brand. Infomercials, in fact, are the most honest thing going on television.

Which may be one of the reasons that Neil Postman hit the nail on the head when he argued that television is at its worst when it seeks to be ennobling. He was comparatively comfortable with Three Stooges reruns, and, I presume, with Andy Griffith reruns. It was the serious stuff that gets us into serious trouble. That is, someone excusing themselves with, “I only watch the news programs” is something like someone justifying their subscription to Sports Illustrated with “I only look at the swimsuit issue.” News isn’t the savior of television, but its destruction. Which means your visionary, daring efforts are at the forefront of all that is wrong with television. Give them classic movies, but please, turn off the news.

I don’t mean by this, and I say this just so you won’t get bored, that the problem is the leftward slant of what used to be your news channels. This isn’t another tired old conservative screed complaining that you aren’t more like Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. No, this is a comparatively fresh-faced screed complaining that you are too much like Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. My complaint isn’t what you put on television, but that you put it on television. Left versus less left is the same old sham battle you both keep reporting on, as if it made a bit of difference.

Thirty years ago television brought us roughly three hours of news each day. We had the morning shows that spent more time on cooking tips than news. We’ll be broad minded and call that an hour. Then we had, at most, a half hour of local news at noon and at 6:00 and at 11:00. And we had a half hour of national news at 6:30. You, at that time, were bringing us billboards and Braves baseball. You were most famous for winning the America’s Cup half blind from booze, and earning the nickname Captain Outrageous.

But that all changed with CNN and its twenty-four hour coverage of the news of the day. Your challenge wasn’t merely to fill all that time. That was hard enough. The truly damaging work you have done was to persuade us that we need to watch. CNN, to paraphrase a phrase, persuaded our hearts of this alarming truth, that somewhere out there something was going on that we knew nothing about. We have been taught that there’s nothing worse than being caught in the breakdown lane of the information super-highway.

You have changed the landscape of television, which in turn has changed the landscape of the world. Like a Colossus your news empire once sat astride the globe, and shrunk it to the size of utter insignificance. If it becomes news because you covered it, then it never really was news. You have made the world smaller, and made of us not citizens of the globe, but citizens of the tube. You haven’t expanded our vision, you have fit it into a 19 inch box. You have caused distant earthquakes and slavery in the Sudan to become nothing more to us than background noise at supper time. You have spread your smugness, so that we too now are fools enough to think that we are up-to-date, and connected, all through the remote control. Just who does that remote control, anyway? You have taught us to shed a tear over a tsunami, while we can’t be bothered with our own aging parents. We get catharsis on the cheap, the same way we get our headlines.

You should have seen this. You should have known that you were killing what you thought you were promoting. But your eyes were glazed over, and so now, so are ours. Here is some news for you. A day is coming when news once more will be about our neighbors, given out so that we can help. You loved it when the big three networks squealed over the pain the cable networks were creating. You delighted when Wolf Blitzer became the most recognized face in all of Gulf War I. Rest assured your demise isn’t the utter destruction your networks are receiving from Fox, but the growing number, not of hippies, but of Christians, who are tuning out. Your day is done, and now comes the judgment.

As always, we write not merely to castigate, but to call for repentance. Rumor has it that your ex-wife has been given new life. You need to understand that one way or another, that pale Galilean will triumph. His victory is on display 24 hours. Postman, of course, was willing to concede something useful for the television. It is, he used to argue, a rather handy device to communicate certain very important and simple messages like, “Hurricane coming. RUN!” I would agree as well, but add that whenever it is on, because it is on, this is precisely what the television is telling us. We don’t need your education.

What I leave with you is this, a message that is utterly complete without live footage, or Bernard Shaw, a message that is as old as it is timely- Wrath coming. TURN!

In the King’s Service,

Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ask RC: Is it a sin to marry outside ones race?

Yes, of course. Happily, in every jurisdiction I am aware of, it is not even legally possible to marry outside ones race. Though there are some arguing that such should be legal, even the “gay” “marriage” movement, by and large, disdains the notion. The Bible is abundantly clear that marriage is only for those of the human race, and to extend the institution beyond that is wrong.

Within the circle of humanity, God does provide a number of other prohibitions. Marriage, for instance, is, according to the Bible, one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4 -5). Marriage is also only between either two believers, or two unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14). Leviticus 18 gives us the laws of consanguinity, affirming that we may not marry those who are too close kin. The Bible forbids marrying those who have been illegitimately divorced (Matthew 19:9). The only other biblical prohibition that I am aware of is that one cannot divorce, marry another spouse, and then, after a second divorce, or the death of the second spouse, remarry the first (Deuteronomy 24:4).

Does the Bible forbid marrying outside ones culture, ones skin color, ones nation? By no means. Deuteronomy 21: 11-14 gives explicit warrant for a Jewish man to take a wife from among the women of a conquered nation. Though not as compelling, we in turn have biblical examples of godly men who married outside their national identity- Moses and his Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1), and of course Boaz and Ruth.

There have, in the past, been fine and godly men who have argued otherwise. There are likely some fine and godly men who would still so argue. The Bible, however, despite the level of detail to which it does go on whom we may or may not marry, does not so argue. The ancient creeds of the church make no such argument. The great confessional statements of the Reformation make no such argument.

Some have argued that my own position is grounded in worldliness. Those outside the church are always seeking to break down barriers, to deconstruct cultures. Miscegenation, my critics would argue, plays right into the hands of the political and theological left. I would offer two retorts. First, a healthy understanding of the antithesis, of the great battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman doesn’t mean we are to be reactionary, that we are to embrace the opposite of what the world embraces always and everywhere. We aren’t called to walking on our hands because the unbelievers walk on their feet. Because those outside the kingdom of God retain the remnants of the image of God, we should expect to agree with them from time to time.

Second, even a cursory glance of the literature demonstrates that it is actually those who argue against marrying outside ones culture, that were most influenced by worldly wisdom. Darwin’s theory of evolution created a paradigm by which even Christians began to judge one “race” as genetically superior to another. It is true enough that some cultures are better than others. What makes one culture superior, however, isn’t genetics, but the impact of the Christian faith. Low levels of melanin didn’t build Europe, the gospel did. Matching levels of melanin in turn won’t make a godly marriage. The gospel will. Away with legalism that adds to God’s perfect law.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Terminal

The yellowing sky confirmed the wisdom of the forecasters, a tornado might well be just around the bend. With one eye scouring the landscape I dutifully herded my then seven children into our basement. One of them, worried, asked me- “Are we all going to die?” Tender hearted father that I am, I told the truth- “Of course…but probably not today.” We survived the weather that day, but we are all still terminal.

As my wife continues her valiant fight against leukemia she too occasionally asks me to look into my crystal ball. She wants to know if she is going to make it. The doctors don’t know, and they are considerably more knowledgeable than I am. So I tell my wife what I do know- “I don’t know if you are going to get well or not. I do know that that day was appointed before all time. Nothing will make it a day later, nothing a day earlier. Cancer cannot determine when you go home. Only your Father can.

God can and does give clues, from time to time. The Bible affirms that He opens and closes the womb. That doesn’t mean that Abraham and Sarah didn’t have reason to be surprised. That Denise is ill, that it is this kind of cancer, that form of leukemia, this other test result suggests that we have more reason to worry about her than me. Seeking to decipher all these clues causes us to ride a roller coaster of hope and fear. I have come to learn, however, that my confidence on a given day is likely more tied to how poorly I slept the night before than it is deciphering the results of a CT scan.

My calling then is to rest in, to believe, to be comforted by what He has spoken clearly. Providence is His, but there He speaks a strange language in muted tones. His Word, on the other hand is both loud and clear. We know, for starters, that God Himself is behind this. God will either defeat the cancer He has sent, or He will have sent the cancer that calls her home (Isaiah 45:7). We know that whether her time is sooner or later, it works out for the good not only for her, but for her husband and children (Romans 8:28). We know that whenever He calls her home He will at the same time heal her fully (Revelation 21:4).

Insofar as I am able, by His grace, to believe what He has revealed, I am able to be at peace about what He has not revealed. Insofar as I seek to learn the secret things, I will fail to believe what He has revealed. One thing we know for certain- He is good. He loves us with an everlasting love. That doesn’t answer the question of the day or the hour. It just makes it not so important.

It is a good and proper thing that I should, and you as well if you are willing, pray that God would make Denise well, that He would allow us to grow old together. It is, however, a better thing to pray that I would be a faithful husband to my love, and a faithful father to the children He has blessed us with. It is less important that He believe me and my conviction, that the kingdom would be better with her here. It is more important that I believe Him and His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18), and that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 6:10). This train is bound for glory.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

FROM THE ARCHIVES of Every Thought Captive magazine.
Spam, Wonderful Spam

I don’t want to get too technical with the fine points of economics, but it isn’t strictly true, despite what you’ve heard, that time is money. But it is not that particular bit of misinformation I want to get at here. Rather it is this cousin of that nugget- knowledge is power. It too, despite being accepted wisdom, is unwise horse feathers. Truth be told, time is power and knowledge is used to wrap fish.

We live in the information age, in the comfortable suburbs right off the wonders of the information superhighway. There are wonders of efficiency that the computer has brought us. Just consider eBay. Not only does eBay hook up buyers and sellers that would never have found each other otherwise, but it finds the market price for what is being sold through the magic of an auction. I not only don’t begrudge the information age this real triumph, I’m grateful for it. What I’m wondering though, is where that information goes when we’re done with it.

That said, however, we are in an overload situation. For decades now technology has been busy about the business of bringing us more information. When the airwaves couldn’t bring us enough television, we started laying cable. When that failed, we went with satellites. And what fills all those stations, but more information. We have phones that can reach us in our cars, and virtually everywhere (come and visit Mendota sometime. No reception here, I’m usually happy to report.) We have satellite radio as well. Then there is the internet. In less than a decade we went from dial-up to high speed. Hotels, coffee bars, even Laundromats all make their case that we should frequent their establishments, not because of better service, better mocha supremes or whiter collars, but because they have free wi-fi.

Stranger than all this from the last decade is the technology of this decade. We know we have too much information not because of how much information we have, but because we are now looking to technology to protect us from that information. The software that I see advertised (granted, it’s not like I’m some sort of software guru) is that which promises to protect us from pop-ups and spyware. Bill Gates in a recent interview was asked about new innovations coming from his company. What did he talk about? Spam filters.

Of course we have the same things all over the house. We have locks to keep our children from watching certain channels, and DVD players that will bleep every beeping bleep that tried to make it into your living room. And then there’s the spam eliminator for the telephone, caller ID. We invited the monster into play, and now we’re desperately looking for a leash.

We have magazines and websites devoted to television shows, and television shows devoted to movies, and movies constructed from cancelled television shows. We even have a television show that daily recreates, with real actors, the events of the pop star who is accused of seducing his victim how? With information brought to him by Hollywood.

Once again the complaint here isn’t what’s on, but how much is on. It isn’t so much what they’re telling us, it’s how much they’re telling us. When we try to keep up, we show ourselves not to be well informed and free citizens, but easily manipulated slaves. Pop has become our daddy.

But let’s remember our principles. Time isn’t money, it’s power. Each one of us wakes up each morning with twenty four hours. That we speak of “spending” time suggests that we’ve already killed it. Time is what we invest, because the days are evil. When we miss out on a conversation with our children, because we just had to hear what Rush had to say today, we aren’t investing, we’re spending. When we send the children off to watch Toy Story for the thousandth time so that we can share our wisdom with the world through our blog, we aren’t investing, we’re spending. When we can’t seem to find the time to read our Bibles, but can find the time to read other people’s blogs, then we aren’t investing, we are spending.

If we would know something interesting and important, it probably isn’t about the accusations of sin against the King of Pop. It would probably be more fruitful to know more about our sins against the King of All Things. If we want to worry about the sufferings wrought by sin, we probably don’t need to see which tragedy is boosting Fox’s ratings during sweeps month. It might be better to see how you can help those with whom you have covenanted in the church.

It’s true enough that the Bible doesn’t say you can’t listen to talk radio. It doesn’t say you can’t read or write blogs. It doesn’t say, as far as I know, you can’t read magazines from fly-over territory. And as such, I’m not saying it either. But just as we encourage folks to have lots of children not ultimately because we think contraception is a sin, but because we think children are a blessing, so here the issue isn’t whether you’re allowed to drink in this or that from the broader culture. The question is, aren’t there better things to do with your time? And by that I don’t merely mean more work-y kind of things. I mean more joyful kind of things.

Tomorrow night the Kisers are coming over for dinner. We won’t be watching a movie (though we do from time to time.) We won’t be talking about how the latest stats conjured up by ESPN. We’ll eat, and we’ll visit. We’ll worship and we’ll laugh. We may break out our instruments and peel off a song or two. We’ll enjoy some homebrew, and my clam linguini. And all of the sudden, must see TV isn’t any more.

Here’s another axiom for you, a fundamental economic reality. At the end of the day, as you weigh this good and that, it’s people that matter, flesh and blood, three dimensional people will always trump the titillation of tabloid television. Time is power, invest it wisely.

By R.C. Sproul Jr.