Pastor Keith: Hi, I’m Keith McMinn. Welcome to this episode of Doxology Matters. We are recording now – this episode is episode 22. It’s hard to believe 22 episodes have been recorded. We’re excited today to have Pastor Jeff Mingee back and Pastor Kevin Hass. This is – what – four or five?
Jeff Mingee: I think so, yeah. Right around there.
Pastor Keith: Fantastic. Well, we desire to help you think deeply about God’s Word as you praise Him. And today our episode is like that Brooklyn Tabernacle song – I don’t know if you’re familiar with it – “My Life is in Your Hands.” Really beautiful, prayerful submission to God’s care over our lives. So we’re titling this episode “My Life is in His Hands.” And we’re going to think about three different categories today under this banner, if you will. Kind of a three point – we’re all pastors, so I guess it makes consistent sense to have – they’re not alliterated.
Jeff Mingee: Oh, man. So close.
Pastor Keith: That would have been really a homerun. But I want to talk about first, out of Psalm 139, the Scripture says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Who created man and how was it done? Let’s ask Pastor Jeff first.
Jeff Mingee: Well, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. So we read as we open up Genesis chapter 1 that God created all that is created. I believe it was R.C. Sproul that said Genesis 1:1 is really the most controversial verse in the Bible. “In the beginning, God created,” because if that’s true, it changes everything. So who created man? God created man. That is the short and simple, but I think, sweet and precious answer.
Pastor Keith: So how did He do it?
Kevin Hass: He did it from the dust of the ground. I mean, I think there’s a sense in which that can be trivialized in our culture. The idea that the world has these natural processes over time; they’re developed; and I think we lose sight of creator, design, intelligent and intricate woven. And so God formed Adam in unique way from the dust of the ground, from the materials of the earth. And that’s part of the trajectory of human life, is that we were taken from the ground, and we will eventually return to the ground. And so man’s life in this age, in this temporal reality, is something that God has uniquely done in forging a people for Himself, a human race that reflects His image. And so it’s incredibly important for us, as we think about God creating things and laws and nature – that’s true – but He uniquely created a historic Adam. And I think the church is slowly pretend – possibly losing its grip on the significance of Adam being created, uniquely and bearing the image of God, along with Eve of course. It’s Adam and Eve that bear God’s image, so it’s not just a masculine thing.
Pastor Keith: Right. I was thinking about how just one more – another way that we are unlike God, in that we create things with things He’s already given us. But He created out of nothing – ex nihilo.
Kevin Hass: Ex nihilo is the Latin, yep, out of nothing.
Jeff Mingee: We’ve been given the great task of stewarding that which has been created. We’ve been given the great task of dominion over the created world. But we don’t have at all the ability to be the original creator.
Kevin Hass: Right. And we only use materials from which He’s already created. So we are – and I think God delights in us being creative, out of His creative work. I think He genuinely enjoys seeing us create, legitimately, the things that we create, and it’s a reflexion of Him. We don’t have the power in and of ourselves to do it, which of course He does. Self-existent and self-generating, those are categories that humans just don’t have and no creature in all the earth does.
Pastor Keith: Wonderfully said, brother. The question too, what does God know about us and does He really know the number of hairs on our head. And for some of those, those are fewer in number. Not singling anybody out here.
Kevin Hass: Me.
Pastor Keith: But we read in Psalm 139 – and His Word gives us some answer of that. Would one of you share about what does He really know about us?
Jeff Mingee: Everything. Everything beginning to end. Both that which is and that which could be. There’s not anything that He doesn’t know about us, and that’s radically good news. It’s sobering news, because it means I can’t hide. But it’s comforting news, because it means I can’t be hidden. And so He knows everything.
Pastor Keith: Well, we were just talking before the podcast about how you’re so great with – what’d you say concision. Yeah, that was really – say that again.
Jeff Mingee: God knows everything, which is good news, because it means – it’s sobering news because it means I can’t hide. It’s comforting news because it means I can’t be hidden. So there’s no point in which I can worry, “Does God see me? Does God know what I’m suffering? Does God care?” Yes, He does. I can’t be hidden. Not possible.
Pastor Keith: So yeah, there definitely is both sobering and goodness. I guess it depends on what your day is looking like which one of those you appreciate more.
Jeff Mingee: Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, that’s very true.
Kevin Hass: I also think it’s important to remember – when we hear the verse that talks about Him numbering the hairs on our head – you referenced – it’s not just that He is aware of the number of hairs on our head. It’s also that He doesn’t just count those hairs, He determines those hairs. He numbers them, and so there is a sovereign rule element where He is reigning over the affairs of creation all the way down to the fine print, all the way down to the tiny details.
And that’s what the Psalmist and that’s what our Lord in the New Testament is talking about. It’s this joyous reality that He doesn’t just count the hairs on our head as something that He’s aware of at all times. He numbers them in a way of governance, in a way of reigning over the affairs of our life. And that’s why what Jeff said is exactly right. There’s good news that we can’t hide nor can we somehow remove ourselves from His understanding, His knowledge, His sovereign reign. We can’t run from those things and we don’t need to. There’s no cause to, to run from that. But He doesn’t just count them; He numbers them.
Pastor Keith: There would be no good reason to want to run away from a caring, sovereign God.
Jeff Mingee: It’s exactly the opposite. If God is sovereign, let’s run to Him.
Pastor Keith: Yeah. It’s says in verse 4 of that chapter in Psalm 139, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, oh Lord, you know it altogether.” So as we just talked about, God knows all things. He’s omniscient. Does God know all we want to say and what we truly mean with our words? Sometimes we don’t say verbally what we’re thinking, but does He even understand the words that are not spoken?
Jeff Mingee: Sure, yeah. I think you see evidence of this clearly in Jesus. In Mark chapter 2, there’s a moment in which He looks at the scribes, and it tells us that the scribes were grumbling in their hearts. But they didn’t say what they were thinking, but it does tell us they were grumbling in their hearts, and Jesus addresses the grumbling. Well, how can He do that if He didn’t know? So, yes, absolutely He knows those thoughts.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, He tells the Pharisees, “You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.”
Jeff Mingee: Right. How can he say that if he doesn’t have the authority to know and speak into it.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, you see the same thing in Isaiah 66. The obedience and the disobedience are of lesser value in that passage. Of course He commands us to do things that the author says displease Him. And you’re like, “He doesn’t command what displeases Him.” And then he says that’s equitable to things that He commanded against. And so the behaviors are not what He’s primarily after. I think sometimes we do a disservice in our presentation of Christianity, and we basically turn into a behavior modification system, instead of understanding that He wants our hearts and our allegiance, and that’s best for us. It’s not that He’s trying to hem us into something that’s not best for us so that He can feel powerful. He already is powerful. He’s trying to lead us to understand the intimate love and affection that He has for us.
And so it’s important for us to understand that, and you can see it in that verse where it says, “For when I called, no one answered.” They’re doing all these outwardly obedient things, but their hearts are in the same condition as the people who do these outwardly disobedient things. And so it’s the exact same idea. Does He know? Yes, down to the motivational level, down to the inspirational level, down to every reason that we would do or say or want anything. He knows the truest element. There’s no deceiving Him.
Pastor Keith: So you’re headed where I was headed as well, of maybe a younger Christian might think, “Well, I didn’t say it, so I’m not sinning if I didn’t say that gossiping thought or that disparaging comment to somebody.” But where’s the line of sin in that, with not spoken and spoken? Where do you see –?
Jeff Mingee: Well, I think the simple pastoral answer is, if you’re asking the question, “Is it a sin?” you have your answer. Right? Whatever does not come from faith is sin. So, yeah, praise God you didn’t say it out loud. Praise God that you had the maturity and the ability to restrain your tongue. That’s a gift from God, because not everybody has it. Right? And so praise God for that. But don’t think for a second that you’re so righteous because you didn’t. Again, praise God for maturity in the right direction. Slow down.
Pastor Keith: Well, James says that no man can tame the tongue. It’s only by the Spirit that we’re able to have any kind of tameness to it.
Kevin Hass: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, amen. There is a difference between our inner sin and our outer sin. And so I think young Christians have a tendency to paint both with the same brush in a dangerous way. This is what I mean. There is a benefit in your life to not outwardly doing the sin that you inwardly wish you could do. There’s a legitimate benefit to your life to be able to bridle to a degree. But it does not stand before the throne room of heaven that you were successful. So we have to be able to draw the distinction between Christian maturity does manifest in outward ways. I don’t do the same things now that I used to do. I don’t want to do some of those things either. But there is a difference between all that we would do left to ourselves is sinful in God’s eyes, and all that we do outwardly is evil. Those are not the same. There’s nuance there.
And I think as the Christian matures, you begin to feel that reality even if you’re not thinking about, “Gosh, it’s probably better for me.” So the way theologians have described this since the 1500’s, 1600’s is to say not all sins are equally heinous. Some sins by their own aggravations are worse. That’s not true in the throne room of heaven as God judges, but it is true in the life of a believer as it unfolds. We could talk for hours on that one thought, but it’s important to me, I think, that Christians do hear that while there’s sin in your inner being, it’s okay to draw lines and say, “I am not outwardly going to do these things.” But just know that you’re not earning points in heaven for that. You’re understanding maturity and wanting to live as He has called you to live. And sometimes you act counter to what you would otherwise desire. And that’s part of what Paul’s getting at in Romans 6.
Pastor Keith: You know, just taking a side, just hit the pause button a minute. I’m getting to host this podcast, which is really a privilege. And I know many people are being built up by your words of scriptural and pastoral care. But to me, this is a blessing that we get to think – that I get to think deeply and have this pastoral care conversation, because it’s super edifying to me. It’s just really rich.
Jeff Mingee: I think there’s a way in which we are pastoring each other in these conversations.
Kevin Hass: Absolutely. I need you guys.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, 100 percent.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s healthy.
Kevin Hass: Keith, do not hear that you’re learning from me or you’re learning from Jeff and not think that Jeff and I aren’t learning from you. It’s why I like coming on this podcast, the three of us.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, there’s a beauty in that that’s really rich. It’s God’s kindness to us, a bit of common grace to us. And in this time of all uncertainty, I’ve been looking forward to this day, because I know that my soul is going to be fed in a real deep way.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: Praise God for that.
Kevin Hass: And I speak for Jeff sometimes, and it’s a blessing and something that we profoundly look forward to.
Pastor Keith: Oh, well, thank you.
Kevin Hass: Thank you.
Pastor Keith: So we know that God intimately knows the details of our life and that is a good thing. How does God lead and uphold us? That’s two things. But how does God lead and uphold us?
Kevin Hass: I think the easy answer is by the power of His Word. By the power of His Word He leads us. By the power of His Word He sustains us. By the power of His word He grows us. I think sometimes people hear, “Study the Bible, because you should.” And I think what we mean to say is, “Study the Bible because you need it.” In the same way that your body needs air to breathe, in the same way that your body needs food to process for energy, so too does your spiritual life need the Word of God to feast.
There’s no better starting point to that thought than Jesus being tempted by the devil before His public ministry begins. And Jesus is quick to say, “Hey, look, I haven’t eaten for 40 days. That’s fine. Man does not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God.” And so I think most of us take dinner more seriously than we take, “Study the Bible. Read the Bible. Hear the Bible.” Let the Bible comb through your life.
One of the delights in being a dad of two daughters, as I was growing up, was combing their hair. The longer it got, the more fun I had with it. Doesn’t mean they didn’t get it tangled up – you know you did – but the joy of combing it out and straightening it out after a shower or whatever, it’s a peaceful time. I really believe that devotionally, that’s part of what God’s doing in the Word is He’s combing out our lives in such a way that He can highlight the tangles and begin to work on those knots that we get in our hair. It’s just a metaphor, but I think it’s a helpful one, to think about the tenderness of a father who brushes out his daughters’ hairs, because he loves them, because they want that time together.
I really believe that when we study the Bible that’s one of the chief images that’s in my mind that I need. I need Him to comb out my life and comb through my heart and show me where the tangles are and show me where He has smoothed things out that I used to battle. I think all of those things happen in the ministry of the Word to my heart devotionally.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, I think if we carry that thought through, then anytime I think God might be leading me or anytime I think God might be sustaining me, but His Word is absent from my interpretation, I’m probably in dangerous territory. So if I think, “Well, I think God’s leading me to this,” but there’s been no work of the Word in that leadership, maybe at best. Same thing with the sustaining. I think you’re absolutely right, just depending on the Word of God. I think it was Matt Smethurst who used the image, he said, “I don’t remember most of the meals I’ve eaten, but they’ve kept me alive.” In the same way, I don’t remember most of the Bible studies I’ve had, but they’ve fed me, nourished me spiritually.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, in word and sacrament, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: I don’t remember who said it, but talking about getting an impression from the Lord, like, “I believe that God might be leading me to do so-and-so and to do such-and-such,” and that really has paused me to say and to think about – because I’m a visionary guy, and I’m a scriptural guy. I love God’s Word on my best days. But when I have a visionary thought, I think, “I believe that the Lord is leading me to do such-and-such.” That’s helpful for me to say – even as the words come out of my mouth, to say, “I believe the Lord is saying,” because it’s almost like a check, even in my speech to come back to God’s Word. Pray. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You don’t know. You’re not God. So pause and read the Word and be humble.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, and in the midst of that, let’s stay sensitive to the Spirit. I mean, praise God that you’ve got an impression at all. Right? So now, let’s filter it, make sure it’s the right impression, it’s wise, it’s biblical.
Pastor Keith: Yes.
Kevin Hass: And the number one shorthand for living the Christian life in Paul’s letters is a faith walk. It’s walking it out. We don’t always translate it that way in our English Bibles, but that’s his image of what does it mean to live the Christian life. We walk. And what does he tell us, chiefly at the end of Galatians, about walking? We walk where? In step with His Spirit. And so there’s a guidance and a direction, and it was embedded in your question. Right? How does He lead us? He doesn’t just command from afar. He’s also with us in the daily walking out, and that’s why Psalm 119, I believe, “His word is a lamp unto my feet.” Right? We are so privileged to live in a day with electricity. We can have light whenever we want, and it can shine deep, deep, deep down, far away, street lights, whatever. His Word is our lamp. You want to take one step? You need the lamp to shine just that one step in front of you.
Pastor Keith: That’s right.
Kevin Hass: Maybe two, maybe a third, but He’s not going to map out the whole deal for you. Walk in obedience, one step at a time, as He leads and guides. And that’s why that image of walking is so critical for us.
Pastor Keith: Do you think the other Scripture of, “Wisdom and a multitude of counsel,” plays into discerning what God is doing in our life?
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, if it’s good counsel. Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, that’s right, if it’s good counsel.
Kevin Hass: According to what standard?
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, yeah, the Word. The Bible.
Pastor Keith: Exactly right. I had a guy one time that – of course will never give a name. But I had somebody in my life that wanted to – that approached me and said, “I’d like to mentor you. I’d like to pour into you. Would you be interested in that?” And my first thought and my conclusive thought was, “No.” Because as I watched their life and saw what they valued, I knew that those were not my values, and I didn’t want to be lead in a way that was away from what – away from God’s Word. And though I was grateful that he loved me and cared for me and wanted to see me thrive, he was not – his root was not the root of God’s Word and the things of God, in a deep way. And I just knew, “No, I don’t want that in my life.”
Jeff Mingee: And that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from him, but it means he’s not going to lead you.
Pastor Keith: Right.
Jeff Mingee: And being able to distinguish that, I think, is helpful.
Kevin Hass: It’s the biblical doctrine of discernment, being able to discern those things, and we need the spirit and we need the thoughtfulness. Paul tells Timothy, “Think over these things, and the Holy Spirit will give you insight.” And so part of the schism in American Christianity is between people who only want to do half of that verse. The people who want to just think, “What’s the new strategy? What’s the new way?” And then the people who just want to pray. The pietous versus the confessionalists, and we need both. It’s both. It’s think, spend time thinking on these things, figuring them out. And the Holy Spirit is the one guides and leads us. And so praise God, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Praise God, the Holy Spirit warns us when we’re moving towards error. But we need both. We need to think on these things. And we need to trust the sacred ministry of the Holy Spirit and rely on the guidance that He provides.
Pastor Keith: That was very helpful from both of you. Yeah, that dear brother did teach me a lot, but he didn’t lead me. That’s really concise.
Jeff Mingee: And that’s because you were able to discern.
Pastor Keith: Neat. How does understanding the details and complexity of the body help us worship God? I love this question so much, for so many reasons. That it would be encouragement to a Christian. It would also help those that don’t hold to a biblical view of creation, would put this up before dear friends and say, “Look at the beauty of God as He’s created man.” When we think about our bodies and the complexity, even of the eye, is just so deep and so rich and just the intricacies of our bodies is staggering to think about. And so when we think about that, setting this ball, as I frequently do, way high up on the tee for you with this, but how does this foster us – help us to worship God?
Jeff Mingee: I think as we consider the complexities of the body, we realize that God formed it. Right? Going back to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created.” So every molecule, every complexity in the human body, God created it. And just as we study the intricacies of movies and actors that we love and how they act this part, and because we love the way they acted that part, we go on to watch another episode of another show they were in, in the same way as we love the creation and as we study the created, we learn to love the Creator. They’re like arrows pointing in the right direction. Like, “Oh, oh, okay, God’s behind that.”
Pastor Keith: Kevin how would you speak to an evolutionist maybe that’s listening that’s not a Christian, that doesn’t hold to a biblical view of creation, what would you say specifically targeted at this? What word would you give to them?
Kevin Hass: The complex systems are intelligently designed. There is something that must appear at the same time in order for those complexities to be interwoven. So as you study the biomechanics of the human body, what lungs need and what hearts do, right, what blood vessels accomplish that’s different from the veins that give and receive – there’s so much intricacy. There’s so much complexity that the idea that that happened over time is refutably obviously wrong.
And I think it’s one of the reasons why at the highest levels of academia, more and more astrophysicists are becoming believers. Because as they study the math and the probability of all these things that are required for life to exist, they begin to go, “Yeah, the fact that this happened on its own is absurd.” And the counter to that in the academic world was, “Well, there must be millions and millions of universes,” to allow for additional opportunity for these ridiculously miniscule probabilities to happen. And I go, “All right, well, what’s your evidence for a multiverse?” And they don’t have one. This is the universe that we have. This is the universe that we’ve seen.
We needed God to form and forge these complex systems to function at the same time and not just say, “Oh, well, first animals did this and then they did this and then they did this.” You need to do all those three things at the same time or all those 20 things or all those 3000 things at the same time. And so if you’re really going to say that it happened accidentally, one, there’s no moral meaning to the universe. Think about the complexities and intricacies of that thought. If God does not create everything, if there is no author, then there is no meaning, because the meaning is discerned itself by the design for which it was created.
Pastor Keith: Wow, I’ve not thought that deeply and that way before about that.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, he’s absolutely right. Intent drives morality in that sense, authorial intent.
Kevin Hass: Why were we created? For what purpose?
Jeff Mingee: And who determines that?
Kevin Hass: The Creator not the created.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m going to think about that one a little bit more today. So we see that God created us. We are made in His image.
Kevin Hass: Uniquely.
Pastor Keith: Uniquely, yes. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, so all of life is sacred and this just speaks clearly, sharply in a beautiful way against abortion.
Kevin Hass: Oh, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: It is sin, and there is an aspect of caring for those maybe that have had an abortion on the other side of helping them in a loving, grace, and truth way, understand and process their own soul care with that. But life is sacred and it needs to be valued. It’s a beautiful gift of creation even before the baby is in the air that we breathe.
Kevin Hass: Because the child of the womb is still human.
Pastor Keith: Yes, right.
Kevin Hass: It’s not a puppy, it’s not a – it’s not anything else. It is human and as such – I mean, I take great joy in the reality that John the Baptist, while in the womb, is the first in Scripture to recognize Jesus. Right? Jesus is in Mary’s belly, and he comes in contact with his cousin through Elizabeth and Mary meeting even before he’s born. And Scripture tells us that he leapt in his mom’s belly out of recognition of who Jesus was, that the Messiah had come. And so, yeah, it’s human. All of those children of the womb are human. It’s also important for us to value old age.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, before you head to there, I just want to press in and ask this question. When I see things on social media or hear reports of late term abortion, I have an honest non – just a simple honest question. How are folks not seeing that that is a wrong decision? I think about C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity book, a certain good and evil. What’s happening that they’re not seeing that? Are they blinded by their own sinful desires? I’m mean, I’m sure sin, of course, is in that equation, but how do they not see that and just be overcome with sadness? I don’t understand, even in a logical way, how somebody can rationalize that that’s okay.
Jeff Mingee: I think part of the answer is on the one hand it’s a very simple issue. There’s zero room for doubt in the Christian worldview when it comes to the sanctity and dignity of every human life, from conception to last breath. Okay, so zero room for that. There are also a lot of factors at play. So when I see those post – and I saw one this morning as well. There’s been a ban on all non-essential surgeries but abortion is still approved.
Kevin Hass: Accessible.
Jeff Mingee: Accessible in this time. I don’t understand. There have to be factors that I’m unaware of. There have to be. There must be, because I don’t have a category for why that would be okay. So my goal in conversations like this is just to understand, like, “Help me understand, because I don’t.” I don’t.
Pastor Keith: Well, that’s a humble approach. I mean, that is always a good thing. If somebody has a different position than you, to approach it of, “I don’t really understand where you’re coming – help me understand where you’re coming from.”
Jeff Mingee: So I want to be able to say, “I understand, and still disagree.” I at least want my disagreeing to be informed. But yeah, I think at this point, there is zero room for doubt when it comes to the sanctity and dignity of every human life in the Christian worldview.
Kevin Hass: I think there’s a cultural fantasy being played out. It’s a cultural delusion that children are a pain, that children are costly, that not everybody should have to pay the cost of raising children. I think there’s this undeniable, robust, almost incessant narcissism for those who are alive and those who have power to choose and the cult of pleasure. Children necessarily interrupt my pursuit of my own comfort. They interrupt my pursuit of my own pleasure. Every mom with young toddlers, every dad with kids who don’t obey instantly knows the anger of the inconvenience. They know the burning of, “This is not what I want, and so why don’t you just do what I want.” That should inform a little bit of our understanding of who God is.
But I think that there’s this cult of, “We have to pretend that that’s not a real person yet, so we don’t have to consider the ways that that would inconvenience us.” And so I think it is a mass delusion. It is a giant play acting, especially for those with political power right now. The politics of this moment are in many ways governing the response to this moment, and speaking specifically of the Covid-19 virus. And so we have to enable abortion, because abortion is the sacred cow of half of our culture’s political agenda, at least half. And so we have to make sure that there’s an exception for that, because that’s the thing that the left in our political arena considers sacred. And it’s the destruction of human life, and everybody knows it, and nobody will talk about it.
So if you’re asking me, are we blinded? The answer I have is, of course. Yes, blinded. Blinded by inconvenience, blinded by fear, blinded by a society that says children are a pain that not everyone has to take on, and that the raising of the family was a flash of the past.
Pastor Keith: That, my question, you’re getting at the deeper answer of my question. That it’s almost like a blanket and there’s something that is underneath that is not really what they’re saying but is all that self-centered focus. There’s an ideology that is happening underneath all of that that I want to just – I want to pull the blanket off and let the light come in. I want to understand it, as Jeff said.
Kevin Hass: But it’s irrational. I mean, that’s part of the problem. Not to say that we don’t have our own irrationalities. I think I certainly am capable of and culpable of having irrationalities too. But the logical thought that what is happening in the womb of a woman, as she raises a child in that space, is somehow caring for a clump of cells that only have the potential of being human is a giant lie. Every scientist knows that, anyone who spends any real time.
And part of the people that we should be ministering to is also listening to them as they talk about what happened in their inner self as they finished that process of removing that child. You want to talk about women’s rights. What about knowing that all these women are going to be scarring themselves forever. Not just in their bodies, but in the part of us that moves beyond our bodies, in the soul. And so very few women are super grateful and glad that they went through that. And the ones who cheer it, the ones who shout it, the ones who are doing so to self-sooth a mistake that they know is eternally costly to their own lives, to their own well-being.
And so, yeah, I have family members who would fight to the teeth for the right for a woman to choose to kill her child. It’s heart breaking. It’s heart wrenching. But when you engage thoughtfully in this subject, it is never going to result in a rational discussion. There’s an emotional charge that has to come, because they know what they’re doing is wrong. Fundamentally, in their inner being, they know. And I think that’s part of when we read the Bible and it says that my law is written on their hearts. I mean, you’re talking about a top ten. Right? It’s in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall not kill.” The unjust killing of the most innocent among us, 99 percent of the time for convenience, is devastating.
Jeff Mingee: So I think part of the question here is, every political policy and every stance is based on an idea of what it means to flourish. If we put this policy into place, who will flourish? And so the question is, who’s going to flourish, and then who’s going to pay for that flourishing? And what we’re saying right now is that the unborn have to pay for the flourishing – for our flourishing. And that is a great injustice, I think.
Kevin Hass: It’s also one of the things that’s happening on the flip side of the coin. We look at old people as a burden. They’re not in the workforce any more. They’re just living off the Social Secure – the rhetoric can be so demeaning to those that we are called to honor in the generation before ours. And so, yes, they can be a burden at times or in different ways, and yes there can be financial implications for caring for the old, but I think we’re not – many states are legalizing the assault of death on old people by saying, “Oh, if you’re suffering and you want out, we’ll facilitate that.”
You have doctors – doctors – who are saying, “I will help kill you,” when everything they swore as an oath, in the Hippocratic Oath, was to protect life. And so what they’re saying is that there’s no – that the quality of life is subjectively under their rule, and that doctors have become gods in our culture. Not priests, but gods, who walk and determine who lives and who dies and where and why. And so the coronavirus is happening, and doctors are now given political cover for saying, “Yeah, we’re going to withhold all the help that we could, because the supplies are short and your life is less valuable than another life.
Pastor Keith: I’ve picked up on some of that.
Kevin Hass: It’s the same thing that we are as a society doing in the womb, we’re now doing to the aged. And there’s an elitist narcissism to that. “My life matters and yours doesn’t.”
Pastor Keith: Wow. You’re exactly right. This is sobering to think about and makes me want to pray as I think about that, pray for our society and for us as Christians and for those that do not know the Lord. It brings a certain measure of compassion on me to be a grace and truth filled Christian to them and understand where they are, but lead them out of where they are with the Word.
This conversation and this text, I mean, really highlights some of these hot button political issues. I even think about – when I think about the verse, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made,” I think about those that have special needs. That sometimes those sweet individuals are on the sideline of society. They’re marginalized. But they have a unique beauty that maybe I don’t have. I’ve spent some time in the special needs ministry. We’ve taken special needs trips, ministry trips, here at Bethel as we support The Gathering Place. And just seeing the glory of God in His creation with somebody with autism is humbling and beautiful. I’d say the same thing about – I’ve never understood racism. Other than it’s outright sin.
Kevin Hass: Evil.
Pastor Keith: It is absolutely evil, yes. When I look at the different people groups of the world, I look at it as the beauty of God’s creation. I love living beside somebody that’s skin tone is different than me, or that maybe has a different inflection in their tongue, because it reminds me of God’s glorious creation. Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian, but I love that. And so for me, I’ve never understood – and this connects to our conversation. I’ve never understood why people – other than pride. That just because I have a shade complexity in my skin that I have some level of betterment than somebody that doesn’t have that. That logical argument is just – it makes no sense.
Kevin Hass: Nope.
Jeff Mingee: I think part of it is – again, going back to Genesis 1:1. Instead of thinking, “In the beginning, God…” I think, “In the beginning, me…” And whatever is not me, is second best. Whether that’s in the abortion conversation or whether that’s in the political conversation or whether that’s in the race conversation. I am at the center of all things. I am the definition of good and right and beautiful and fearfully and wonderfully made. And whatever does not look like me, sound like me, vote like me, talk like me is second best. And that’s wrong. It’s absolutely, fundamentally –
Pastor Keith: You just summed it up. I mean, that’s the core issue right there.
Kevin Hass: And there’s a denial of humanity that’s evil in racism, in the idea that somehow my tribe is superior to your tribe. And remember, when we talk racism, I think it’s easy to think only skin deep about this.
Pastor Keith: Oh, absolutely.
Kevin Hass: And it’s really also about culture. We could do this geographically. What’s the culture of the Northeast? What’s the culture of the South? What’s the culture of the West Coast? And that’s just within American culture. Right? What about Asian culture or Irish culture or African culture – as if there’s only one African culture. Right? We can so easily fall into this us-them tribalistic non-sense that undermines the fundamental principle that God has created mankind in His image. “In the image of God, he created them. Male and female he created.” We can miss that so easily in serving our own narcissism, our own egocentric worldview, and thinking that my culture is the supreme culture.
And then if you take even the racism out of it, you can do this in the church. Right? The Reformed faith is the only faith. The Charismatic faith is the only faith. And so we subcategorize ourselves even within the body of Christ. Who’s really us and who’s not really us? Well, Scripture says that anybody who’s been united to Christ by faith is the church, whether they have the same passions that I have or the same intricacies of doctrine or whatever. Are you united to Christ by faith? Yes. Then you are my brother. It doesn’t matter about race. It doesn’t matter about culture. It doesn’t matter about –
And so I think you’ve been exposed to, Keith, the joyous reality of seeing brotherhood and sisterhood across the world and saying there are some uniqueness in the way they express faith in worship, musical worship, theater, whatever it is, and there’s this joy for you. And I think Jeff and I share it but in a different way, or maybe even a lesser way, because of the artistry that you have and the way that music opens up culture and you can experience that.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, exactly. When I go to Haiti, I love to see the Haitians and just how they’re a beautiful people group that God has created. It makes me worship. It does. It just does. And when I interact with people that – maybe from Korea, to see their prayer life and who God’s made them to be and their cultural identity, there’s so much that I can reap and grow from that. We just watched a movie as a family, Just Mercy, an – yeah. Whenever I see movies like that, I don’t – I tell people, I don’t think I could have lived in the Civil Rights Movement. I’d have been shot right along by Martin Luther King, because I would have been standing up for the same things, because I just – it’s a bit of a soap box for me. But I just pray that God would wipe that sin off the face of the earth. But it comes back to pride. I mean, all this that we’ve talked about, that central piece is man’s elevation of himself in so many different forms.
Jeff Mingee: “In the beginning, me…”
Kevin Hass: Yeah, I think it was Bob Dillan who said, “Rather than understanding that God made man in His image, we often make God in our image.” We create a God that we want to worship, rather than laying ourselves down before the God who is and was and will be.
Pastor Keith: Wow. So that was area – point one of our conversation.
Jeff Mingee: We have a way, don’t we.
Kevin Hass: To be continued.
Jeff Mingee: We have a way.
Pastor Keith: That was awesome. Yeah, you all didn’t just touch each other with the –
Kevin Hass: No, but it was close.
Jeff Mingee: No.
Kevin Hass: We faked it.
Pastor Keith: We are trying to social distance as we do this. We have not shaken hands or brotherly hugs at all. Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it,” under our second category here. How does Jesus do that?
Jeff Mingee: I think going back to something Kevin said earlier, through the power of His Word. In the same way that God creates and sustains, so Jesus completes His work through the power of His Word. And through the gathered body of the church, applying that Word one to another, which is part of what makes this social distancing time so painful. So I think Jesus is faithful to complete His work and He does it by the power of His Word, often in ways that we don’t recognize. Because it’s not grand. It’s simple.
Kevin Hass: Ordinary faith.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, ordinary faith.
Kevin Hass: Daily. And I would say it is the sacred reliance on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is Word and it is Spirit. I think if many Christians today were given the option – we don’t – but imagine if we were given the option to be right alongside Jesus, walk next to Jesus, look at Jesus, and He was still ministering on earth, we would say, “Yes, I would trade the Holy Spirit living in me for the ability to just follow Jesus around like a puppy.” And one of the things that Jesus tried to teach the disciples was that it is better for them. This is the Last Supper discourse. John 13 through 17. “It is better for me that I go,” says Jesus, “that I could send the Holy Spirit,” the comforter, the sustain – right? So it is better for us as believers to have the Spirit of the resurrected Christ indwell us, such that He began us.
It’s Calvin who says, “How does somebody become a Christian? By Spirit-worked faith.” The Spirit is the one – Holy Spirit is the one who works faith in the believer. And then that same Spirit brings us to maturity. And it’s part of His ministry to prepare us for citizenship in heaven. I am not, if I was left exactly as I am right now, believer for a long time, I’m still not sanctified enough to walk in the gates of heaven. I’m not. I need the Spirit’s work in me, to make me ready to be that citizen to live in that world. Now is that work going to be finished before I take my final breath? No. That work will be completed by the Spirit in my final breath as I’m ushered into heaven. And so there is this important element for us in understanding that the third member of the Trinity is far more important than maybe our songs say or our conversations express. We need the Holy Spirit to sanctify us.
And the great news – John Murray, in his great book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray says essentially – I’m paraphrasing, but he says essentially that it is good that the measure of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is not our experience. He is always doing more than we know. He is always accomplishing more than we’ve seen, that we can say we’ve experienced. And so He brings us to completion by the work of the Spirit in our inner and outer self and in our body and in our soul. That’s what He’s doing. And He does it through word. He does it through sacrament. He does it in the life of the believer. But it is the ministering of the Spirit that Christ and the Father have sent to the church and to each believer that sanctifies.
Pastor Keith: That was great.
Jeff Mingee: And I think that’s helpful to remember for discouraged believers. Right?
Kevin Hass: Amen, yes. Yes.
Jeff Mingee: When I’m looking in the mirror and I’m like, “Oh, my goodness. I’m still me? I’m still here? I haven’t progressed further?” Then to remember, yeah, Murray’s quote. Phenomenal book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied.
Kevin Hass: Every Christian should read that book.
Jeff Mingee: Yes. And so to remember my experience is not the sum total of His work in me. In fact, it’s a very small fraction.
Pastor Keith: Yes, very small.
Jeff Mingee: So let me lift my chin again and keep walking in the right direction.
Kevin Hass: And one of the great examples is Elijah. We love to do youth group talks or sermons that deal with Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel. Right? In the fight against the prophets of Baal, and he calls down fire from heaven, and he’d watered the sacrifices, and even the stones are consumed, and our brains are exploding with this glorious moment. In the immediate aftermath of that experience, 7,000 people believe and come to faith. And he walks away saying, in the chapters that follow, “I alone obey you Lord. I am all by myself.” And so he has a false perception that is dictating to him what he thinks is true of his relationship with God.
This is the great prophet Elijah. This is the one that the pre-church left a chair for at dinner, because he was taken to heaven without dying. Right? Only two that we know of, Enoch and Elijah, taken to heaven without dying. And how that works, I don’t know. But here’s Elijah having a pity party in the aftermath of one of the most explosive amazing miracles ever done in his lifetime or any. And his response is, “I’m alone, God.” And it’s not true. And so the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work is happening in his life, even though his perceptions are way off kilter, and he’s way wrong in evaluating the response to the event that just happened. So if it’s true of Elijah, it could be true of us. And so I’m so grateful. It’s exactly right. The troubled Christian can have great courage in this reality, that God is far more at work in you than what you perceive in any given –
Pastor Keith: Amen. Amen. We’re turning now to what I’m going to call a lightening round. All right? Lightening round, all right, so concise answers. All right?
Kevin Hass: I’ll try.
Pastor Keith: We’re getting close to the 60-min mark, but we’re in the Covid-19 air, so let’s do a lightening round. Are we in control of our lives or is this illusion. Jeff?
Jeff Mingee: I think it’s an illusion to think that we are in control in the sense that God is not involved. I also think it’s an illusion to think that God is so involved that we need not do anything.
Pastor Keith: Excellent.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, the philosophical and theological term is compatibilism. His will and our will are compatible, and so both are true. It’s a false binary to say, “I’m in control in my life only,” or, “God is in control of my life only.” Both of them are true. And if you want to explore that thought a little bit, go to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, Section 1. It’ll blow your mind. It’s great.
Pastor Keith: What’s man’s purpose on the earth? Why was he created?
Kevin Hass: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1, “What’s the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” It’s John Piper who says, “For our culture, it’s probably easier and helpful to say, ‘To glorify God by enjoying Him forever.'” And so I’m okay to that.
Pastor Keith: We hear Jeremiah 29:11 quoted all the time. What’s God’s will for our life? How do we know God’s will for our life? Jeff?
Jeff Mingee: I would lean into John 17:3 where Jesus says, “This is eternal life” – it’s the one place where He defines eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they would know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent.” So for the sake of concision, right, and to answer simply, I would say, God’s will is that you would know Him and know Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, and then live accordingly.
Pastor Keith: How can we, in our Covid season right now, where literally everything about our lives is turned upsidedown – for me, as you know, our big ministry we do, gospel _____, Easter Praise was canceled this week. And my sabbatical trip to study the life and theological journey of Martin Luther with my wife has been canceled due to the Globus Tours cancelling all tours through the end of June. And sabbatical, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But those are just two areas of my life, of Keith McMinn, where I live in Yorktown, but that’s happening with everybody. And everybody’s situation looks totally different. High school seniors are not going to be able to finish their high school year. College students are leaving their universities. Mission trips are not happening. What word, pastoral word, would you tell – would you speak to yourself and to us and to the church that’s listening to how to navigate that, how to understand that? What word of hope would you give? Kevin?
Kevin Hass: I start with the specific places in Scripture where God answers direct questions. What is God’s will for my life, is directly answered in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. And it’s essentially summed up in these three ideas: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. If we really want to know what God’s will for our life is, Bible answers it in that way. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstance. And so I think that for many of us, when we ask, “What is God’s will?” what we’re asking is, “What is God’s will of direction?” I think the most helpful book, and this is a tiny little book Kevin DeYoung has authored called, Just Do Something.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, great book.
Kevin Hass: Super simple. Super helpful. And he draws out three distinctions. I’ll do this as briefly as I can. He says that we are often in pursuit of God’s will of decree, what is His eternal will? What is God’s will of desire? In other words, what has He designed? And then third, what is God’s will of direction? And I think that’s the one that I think most people are looking for, and it’s the one they will never find. It is. It’s not a future focused idea. What is God’s direction for my life? I think many people run around thinking that He has some kind of secret will. That it’s your job to dig it out, to find it, to read the clues, to follow the signs.
Jeff Mingee: And He delights in hiding it.
Kevin Hass: Yeah. It’s just garbage. It is a garbage thought that is not sustainable in God’s Word.
Pastor Keith: Should I go to this university? That university? What if I go to this university and it was the wrong one to go to?
Kevin Hass: What happens if I marry the wrong person? What happens if I – now, that’s not to say should live callously, that you should just recklessly do whatever you want. But there isn’t a secret will for you to divine, some burden to find. No. No, He delights, as a Father, in giving good gifts to His son, to His child. His will for your life is that you would know Him, exactly as Jeff said. That you would obey Him and follow Him and trust Him and follow the lead of His Holy Spirit in word and deed and He will show you. So what’s God’s will for my life? Rejoice, pray, celebrate in all circumstances.
So Covid-19, trips are canceled; Covid-19, you lost your job. We’re not callous to those things, but what we’re saying is, God is purposing things specifically for you and for this culture and this world that bring about His glory and our benefit. And our job is to lean into that truth, not to run away from it. But to lean into that truth. It is for His glory. It is for our benefit. So what’s the benefit for Keith that you’re not on sabbatical in the next two months. You might not know. And you know what? The end of these two months might happen, and you might not know. But you don’t have to know. You have to lean in and trust.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, trust the one who does know and who loves me.
Kevin Hass: He does.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, praise God for that. Our final question – we are at 61 minutes. Thank you listeners if you stayed with us. This is a great topic. When people are at your funeral, what would you like for them to say about you? What would you want your legacy to be? I’ll just kick it off here to say, one thing that I hope that I would live a life of is faithfulness to God. Just faithfulness. Not excellence and big fanfare in my presentations or whatever, but faithfulness to carry out God’s Word and all that that means. Not to a particular vision statement, but just faithfulness to King Jesus. That’s one prayer that I have for my life, that I would be faithful. Jeff?
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, I think, when I’m at my funeral, when other people are at my funeral, however you look at it, I would love for them to say, “Wow, Christ was really real.” I want there to be zero doubt that I loved Jesus and that I loved whoever is in that room. And people that aren’t in the room. But at the end of it, I want people to marvel at Christ.
Pastor Keith: Amen. Amen to that.
Kevin Hass: I think my honest answer begins with, I don’t give it much thought. I just – I don’t. Maybe to a detriment. I don’t know. But I’m encouraged when I hear J. Gresham Machen, the great pastor-theologian of Westminster, reflect on B.B. Warfield’s life. And he summed up B.B.’s life not with the excellences of what he’s written, not with the overwhelming doctrine that he espoused and taught and gave his life to. He said this – he looked back on B.B. Warfield’s life and he said that B.B. Warfield had two great loves. He loved Jesus and he loved his wife. I’m okay if that’s true of me.
Pastor Keith: The same.
Kevin Hass: I’m okay if that’s true of me. What do I want my life legacy to be? That people hallowed Jesus’s name and that my wife, my kids, my family, my church, my friends, my brothers in ministry, know how much I love them and how grateful I was in all circumstances for them to be a part of my life. Show me Christ in all things. I mean, that’s what I want. I don’t want anybody to remember Kevin. I don’t care about Kevin near as much as I care about Jesus being hallowed in the halls of the earth and anywhere I’m supposed to take His name.
Pastor Keith: Amen. Amen. And with that, we’ll bring this podcast to a close by saying Scripture Psalm 115, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be all the glory.” Thanks for listening.