Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ecclesiastical Nursing Homes

Children are part of the bride of Christ. As such, they ought not to be prohibited from learning how to commune (in corporate worship) with their Lord. They ought to be knit together with us. But this is not accomplished by sitting in a pew thinking wishful thoughts. We have to do what God told us to do—sing, hear, pray, say amen, stand, kneel, eat, chew, drink and swallow—and we have to do it all in true evangelical faith. Because we hold children back from this, they either fall away, or their devotional zeal (which has somehow survived) is diverted into other more individualistic directions. They become the top Bible-verse kid at Awana, and we wonder in later years why they don't have a high view of the Church. In this the Church is like parents who put their kids in day care for years, and forty years later wonder why the kids put them in the rest home. We are to instill ecclesiastical loyalty in our children by the scriptural means, and keeping them back from the Table is not that way.

- Doug Wilson

Monday, December 26, 2011

Like Buttah ...

This Christmas, before tearing into the presents, we gathered around to read Luke 1-2.  And for this, of course I had to break out my nice Cambridge NJKV.  Here is an unpublished piece I wrote about it in '09 after making the decision to buy it.

If our Lord was worthy of Mary's spikenard, His Word is worthy of more than neon pleather.

So I've done it, I've bought a really fine Bible. This is my first worth more than $100, and wow - what a difference. The wide margins allow for plenty of note taking with my Pigma Micro pens, and even though it makes this masterpiece look a bit Sesame-Streetish, I color code my notes along certain themes [simple things for simple minds]. The binding is smyth-sewn, so it can be rebound and last several centuries if not abused. I'm looking forward to pouring over it, filling its margins w/ comments, wetting the fine India paper with my tears, and then passing it along to one of my sons to continue the process when I'm a pile of bones awaiting the final resurrection.

I had been in the market for this exact Bible when I found it on eBay for 1/3 cost of retail so I bought it and am very glad for it ... in fact, it's the opposite of "buyers' remorse" ... the more I use it, the more I appreciate it. If you're in the market for an heirloom-quality Bible, I highly recommend Mark Bertrand's site: Bible Design and Binding. He's a Bible connoisseur and his recommendations were the basis of my choice [especially his comment that holding this supple Bible was like trying to hold a puddle of water in your hands]. My son observed as I was reading it to him last night, that: 'Daddy, you would be really sad if a bear or something ripped your Bible, wouldn't you?'

In Martin Luther's Day, if a man wanted to own a Bible of his own, he had to pay the equivalent of 2 years' average wages to buy one [if he was able to find a seller/printer]. What an indescribable blessing that we can amass a collector's 'stack' of them - half a dozen translations -at the cost of maybe a week or two's wages. It's enough to make a postmillennialist out of even the most purse-lipped Calvinist.
[photo: Mark Bertrand]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Modern Incarnation of the Christmas Narrative [repost]

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in the fashion of a man, He humbled Himself ...

Philosophers debate the possibility of God becoming a man. When it actually occurred, it was more radical than they could've imagined. After years of Hallmark nativity greetings, familiarity has blinded us to the scandal of the incarnation. When the holy God became humble, it looked, by contrast, disgusting.

The Christmas story deals in the realm of the concrete; shared reality in a fallen world; common need with which all mean can relate - and so it begins with tax legislation.

She was fifteen, quiet, and a two days over-due.

He was working in a machine shop, broke after buying the engagement ring, and hoping their eighty-nine cavalier would finish the five day trip to Coonesboro, the middle-of-no-where town whose only claim to fame was being the birthplace of a former King from the nation's glory days a thousand years ago.

When they pulled in after midnight, the only motel was behind the trailer park. The neon vacancy sign was not lit, and for good reason - the only available space was in the maintenance garage to the rear. They had no other option.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What makes a Southern Gentleman?

I recently found a neat little company that I commend to you.  It's called The Forgetful Gentleman.  Below is an example of what you might find on their blog:

Forgetful Gentleman interviewed the ultimate Southern Gentleman himself, Jeremy Blume, Principal at Bearings, a Southern lifestyle guide for men:

Why is the idea of a gentleman so prominent in the South?

Manliness and manners have always been important attributes in the South. We celebrate the man that hunts, works with his hands and has a backbone. Yet we are also a culture that prides itself on proper conduct and hospitality. The combination of those two characteristics is part of the fabric of a Southern gentleman.

What ideals, virtues and morals are integral to a southern gentleman?

A Southern gentleman should embody integrity, character, chivalry, hospitality and humility. His confidence in who he is as a man garners respect, but it’s also his humility that sets him apart. He has a healthy appreciation of the past, while at the same time a forward thinker.

What distinguishes a Southern gentleman in the following areas?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 4 [conclusion]

HIM: B...I have not heard of that - it was my impression that many unbelieving scholars believed it to be a type of origin myth.

1 or 2 arguments:

1) I already mentioned the common 7 day literary convention in ANE literature (see Davis, "Bible, Rocks and Time")

2) The 6th day seemed to have an awful lot of things take place on it for it to be a 24 hour day

3) The 7th day clearly is not 24 hour day, unless I am greatly mistaken when I read Hebrews; if the 7th isn't, why the other 6?

As far as "Satan enticing Christians"...I'm sure the folks over at The Association for Biblical Astronomy, who still hold to an earth that neither rotates daily NOR revolves annually around the sun "because the Bible says SO!", would make the same accusations against YOU! And how would YOU go about assuring them they were wrong, I wonder? Would you go to Scripture, and say "look, this language is phenomological"? I bet their response would be something like this: "nobody thought it was phenomological UNTIL godless scientists told us that the earth spins daily and revolves around the sun, and then Christians compromised their belief in an inerrant Word of God by re-interpreting those verses!! You are letting Satan entice you away from plainly believing what you have plainly read in the Bible! The serpent is near, asking, 'Yea, hath God said?' " Something to think about, isn't it?

I think I'm getting tired of the FB exchange. When and where ya wanna do lunch? We can spar over it more then.

ME: A - that's it? All the activities of day 6 could have been done well before sunset, because - something neither of us can relate to - this took place before the invention of paperwork & cubicles; Heb 4 is moot w/ regard to our debate. I was looking for more ... oh well, back to the lab ;?).

I was also hoping our comment stream would reach 100, but alas, we're just short [finally petered out at 98]. Let me end by affirming my love and gratitude to my brother, A - and offering him the last word [his response - a short restatement of his initial post - was lost ... sorry!] ... and by asking if anyone else is even still reading and has found our exchange interesting and/or helpful ...?

Thanks, Pastor B, for stirring the Pot. Love and prayers to you, your family, and church.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eyes NOT Full of Adultery

Peter Leithart comments on the Song of Songs:
"the bride’s eros is aroused not by the lover in isolation but by the lover-in-society. What makes him lovable, desirable is not only his physical and sensual attractions but the honor bestowed upon him by others."

Such a view of attraction and arousal, actually gives chastity/modesty an appeal.

Too often, a man is lured into bedding [or lusting after] a woman that he and everyone else in town knows is a whore [think of that scene from A River Runs Through It]. The fact that she has given herself so freely and desperately to every other guy around seriously takes away from the significance of having her – she is a whore in everyone’s eyes – a woman of low esteem. That thought is a bit of a … well, downer.

For a young man to learn this view of women is a HUGE step in his sanctification. I’ve heard older, Godlier men explain their victory over the temptations of lust after gaining this mindset/heart. Learning to see a whore as ugly and her enticements as poison – regardless of her physical appearance, how many albums she's sold, centerfolds she's filled, or Oscars she's won – is an important thing to strive for.  May God bless us and our sons as we cultivate the ability to see the daughters of men through His eyes.

[print of Dorian Gray from Alcorn Studios]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 3

ME: Well, I guess that in the same way you affirm “**creation in 6 days**” I affirm “**your position**”.

‘Mountains of evidence’… was that a pun? ;?) How big do you think the mounts of opposing ev were in Galileo’s day?

So is the debate: ‘my int.... of Gen’ vs Nature OR Genesis vs Your interpretation of nature? IMHO it’s too high a view of “science” – having spent countless hours renewing our minds via Discovery Channel HD, we’ll not doubt 1 jot or tittle of this month’s National Geographic. I’d blame your high school education, but … ;?)  [we went to the same High School]

Of the “2 books of God’s revelation” – Scripture and Nature [only 1 of which is actually a “book”] - which one is more clear? When they seem to conflict, which do we bend to fit? Which is subject to revision? Which involves more interpretation [ie. Which is harder to “read”?]? I’m telling you that Genesis is not compatible w/ these “scientific” interpretations. The text itself does not allow it.

The question is [cover your ears kids] epistemological. As one said: in Scripture, what is the opposite of “faith”? The knee-jerk Reformed answer is “works”, but that is not it … it’s SIGHT.

A, I really appreciate your candor, bro. ... I’ll reciprocate – no, I don’t read much science. But the question isn’t scientific, it’s literary. What was Moses saying? What did Israel believe? What did the Apostles teach? IMO, that’s the bottom line – take it or leave it.

HIM: B...Mountains of evidence! HA! I made a funny, and didn't even realize it! : D

I think you are well aware that there are many conservative evangelical, even Reformed, OT scholars who don't seem to have a problem understanding Genesis ...1 in such a way that it doesn't require 6 24-hour days. Ben, have you considered the fact that much ANE literature utilized a 7-day structure, which was clearly a literary device never intended to convey literal 24 days? Is it absolutely outside the realm of possibility that Moses could have used a literary convention such as this, one that his original audience (the Israelites) would have appreciated, even if we don't?

As I've tried to emphasize before, the truth discovered in God's creation will never contradict the truth in Scripture. With that much I think we agree. However, our interpretations of both creation and Scripture are fallible. You're convinced that I'm interpreting creation incorrectly (although you admit that you don't really understand the "story" that creation is telling, because you haven't read much in the area), and I'm convinced that you're interpreting Scripture wrongly. Can I humbly suggest that before you get locked in to that position, that you invest in "Bible, Rocks and Time" or another book providing the multiple lines of evidence behind the age of the earth? To me it just seems like the intellectually fair thing to do. When we get together for lunch, I'll even lend one to you.

You make jokes about putting too much stock in science shows, magazines, etc. The implication is that you think scientists are somehow more "fallible" than Bible interpreters. I beg to differ! C'mon, Ben, you've gone from being Arminian to Reformed, and from credobapist to paedobaptist (and perhaps you've changed your views in other ways too). Are you seriously trying to suggest that there aren't a lot of fallible interpretations held by fallible brethren in Christ?? On the other hand, in the scientific community NOBODY affirms a 10,000 year old earth, EXCEPT the handful of people who are bound to a specific interpretation of Genesis; and they don't really have credible scientific evidence to bring against an old earth...just an unwavering faith that this interpretation of Genesis 1 is the only conceivable interpretation. Don't you find that even a little bit troubling? Just a wee bit?

B, would you admit that there have certainly been times in the past when the commonly held beliefs of the day (which were engrained in minds because of what people THOUGHT was supported from Scripture) have been RIGHTLY discarded mainly due to new light that scientific discoveries shed? If you admit it, please remember that history tends to repeat itself.

ME: A - because you are a gentleman, brother in Christ, and buddy - I would certainly be willing to reconsider your position. Let me ask this: what do you think are the 1 or 2 strongest arguments WITHIN THE TEXT ITSELF for a loose reading/interpretation?

@ N [per A's comment] No N, actually Satan is involved a lot earlier on in the process, enticing Christians away from the practice of plainly believing what they have plainly read in the Bible from its first pages.

"Yea, hath... God said? ... Oh ... yeah, He did. But He didn't actually mean THAT, did He?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Avoiding Ministerial Burn-out

An interview w/ Gregg Strawbridge:

The way to avoid burnout is by addressing body, soul, spirit [without being overly-tripartite].

1. Body – frequent, rigorous physical exercise and activity [I would have become burnt-out if I hadn’t started training for triathlons because physically, you get worn down by dealing with other people’s problems no matter what your situation.]

2. Mind – refresh yourself by regularly stimulating intellectual growth.

3. Spiritually – the most important point is to put away your sin – whether it’s obvious sin like lust or a very ‘respectable sin’ like the fear of man/ being obsequious to people in authority or greed and a desire for money … there are many different sins that can control you and if you’re letting sin control you it’s easy to want to escape from people, escape from the church and ministry, and that’s really just a precursor to burn-out.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What is the Chief End of Man?

Recently, I Overheard this conversation among some of my friends and coworkers – the speakers were an Evangelical believer discussing general apologetic issues w/ an agnostic one… I got involved after the fact, but thought this part was telling. I quote them both here verbatim [hence the expletive].

Agnostic: So you believe there is a purpose for your life?
Evangelical: Yes.
A: What is the purpose for your life?
E: To witness.
A: What does that mean?
E: To spread the ‘good news’.
A: That’s it?
E: Yes.
A: That's the purpose for your life?
E: Yes.
A: Sounds like a pretty lame-ass purpose to me.

I perked up when I heard the critical question but was unable to interject the glorious words of the Westminster Catechism at that point when they were so desperately fitting.  In my mind, this vividly illustrates the shortcomings of a typical shallow view of the gospel and a one-dimensional understanding of the Christian life and worldview.  The entirety of many Christians' system of faith can be likened to "I-amway: Spiritual multi-level marketing"; like so many little Christian amoebas whose only purpose is replication.  The gospel is more than this.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Worship Meditation - 2nd Sunday

Isaiah 40:1-11 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." A voice says, "Cry out!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

Insight: Anyone similarly blessed to be familiar with the ultimate musical masterpiece, Handel’s Messiah, will recognize the first verse of this passage as the opening words of that great work. “Comfort, comfort ye my people.” These were the hope-filled words of God’s prophet 700 years before the fact. But they were a mere blink to the God Who had inspired them. And though our frail bodies fade like dry field clover, God’s hopeful promises stand. This particular one stood for 7 centuries, 4 of which were a hard, barren time of frustrating silence for Israel. Then, true to His word, Post Tenebras Lux: God forgave the iniquity of His people and restored the fortunes of Jacob. He sent John to pave a highway for the Evangelion of His Son, the Great Shepherd of His sheep, Whose mighty arms stretched forth to gently gather the lambs. In Him is seen the kiss of righteousness and peace.

Questions: How many times in your own life have you known the comfort of God? Do you cherish the gospel as a victory of peace with God? In your own life and that of your friends and loved ones, how have you seen the patience of God leading the lost to repentance? When was the last time you listened to Handel’s Messiah? Isn’t it about time to listen again?

Prayer: Great Father, we praise You for Your comfort and steadfast love toward us, Your people. Grant us, by Your Spirit, more grace to live lives worthy of Your comfort as a testimony of the hope that is ours by Your Son, our Lord, in Whose great name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Batman Vs. Santa

The crying need of our day is for Heroes. Our sons need heroes – real heroes. With that in mind, we have been trying to wean them off of the caped/masked/animal-kingdom-themed variety and inspire them by saturation with real hero stories. What could be more important than this?

Lately, we’ve been reading about Nicholas of Myra aka Saint Nicholas. And at this point in the reading, I’m struck by all the similarities that exist between Bruce Wayne and Nicholas of Myra. So here is a brief – if timely – meditation because this time of year the air is rank with thick materialism [quick, grab a breathing regulator from my bat belt, Robin!]

Both lost parents at young age and as a result vowed to devote their lives to good …

Both battled the forces of evil [Nicholas purportedly had to be restrained at the council of Nicaea after literally slapping Arius in the face … I love it!] …

Both spent their lives helping the victimized and helpless …

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Disadvantages of Modern Civilization

“To build his pyramid Cheops packed some pounds of rice into the stomachs of innumerable Egyptians and Israelites. We today would pack some pounds of coal inside steam boilers to do the same thing, and this might be cited as an instance of the superiority of modern civilization over ancient brute force. But when referred to the sun, our true standard of reference, the comparison is naught, because to produce these few pounds of coal required a thousand times more solar energy than to produce the few pounds of rice. We are simply taking advantage of an accidental circumstance.

It took Cheops twenty years to build his pyramid, but if he had had a lot of Trustees, contractors, and newspaper reporters to worry him, he might not have finished it by that time. The advantages of modern engineering are in many ways over balanced by the disadvantages of modern civilization.”

-Washington Roebling, chief engineer of the brooklyn bridge

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Modesty for Dummies [and their teenage daughters]

Recently, the issue of modesty surfaced in a discussion of congregational life, [as it will from time to time] but with a twist.  The unwitting offenders were young ladies from very solid Christian families – many only being young teens whose fathers are otherwise engaged, devout, and fastidious.  The problem seems to be that these fathers – looking through paternal eyes – simply cannot see the obvious: that their daughters are becoming ladies now in need of a particular level of coverage.  Fathers are notorious for this: “…not my little girl. You must be thinking of someone else’s daughter.” 
For such men I have a helpful suggestion [and timely].  Since Christmas is right around the corner, sit down next to your daughter tonight and – after reminding her of this fact – ask her to list for you her top 3 favorite clothing stores [to which she would just love a gift card].  Once she has done this, without missing a beat, hop on the internet and [with her at your side] just dare to open and view the home page of each store, one at a time.  The images that will flash before your glazed eyes will probably be enough to raise your pulse and redden your cheeks, especially with your “not my little girl” sitting beside.  If this isn’t enough, the next time you’re at the mall, take a minute to walk into these stores.  Look around at the posters on the wall; take a gander at the photos they actually print on said gift cards; check out the bags they chirpily hand each shopper to carry around the mall like a walking mini-billboard, slash, status symbol, slash, black & white peep show snapshot.  Sir, if you have a hard time seeing your young daughter for what she now is -  a sexual being, please be aware that Abercrombie, Hollister, American Eagle, Aeropostale, and all the other companies manufacturing her wardrobe don’t.   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Choose Subversive Sarcasm

For those of my readers not from Maryland [okay, ... hi mom ... and to my other reader from Lithuania, 'Zdravstvuj, comrade!'], a bit of background is in order.  For the last 2 years, Howard County has launched a public niceness campaign based on the Oprah-endorsed book 'Choose Civility'.  The initiative is based out of their award-winning library branches, where I have to admit I do spend a considerable amount of time.  The whole campaign consists almost entirely of handing out free bumperstickers that say "Choose Civility in Howard County".  But because civility is so dependent upon some ethical framework, I find that daily, as I drive to and from work, a miniature Greg Bahnsen appears [poof] on my shoulder spouting presuppositional jabs each time I see the bumpersticker.  So, not wanting to miss an opportunity to declare the postmodern emporers' new clothes of civility to be, in fact, non-existent, here are some humorous parodies I've come up with.  My good friend and creative genius John Barnes was the original inspiration for most of these and you can find his batch of these with a quick google search. 

To see the rest of the collection, click below ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Lazy Pastor

Why spend hours in the study when you could be putting in valuable ministry time on the back nine? Any topic; any text; any time. Thousands to choose from. Written by the hottest gurus of mindlessly-entertaining inspirational self-helpism in the industry. Endorsed by Joyce Meyers [via her ghostwriter], Bishop Shelby Spong, Leonard Nimoy, Bob Barker, Dwight K Shrewt, Dr Phil, Every woman panelist on “The View” [except Barbara Walters], Joel Osteen, Joel Osteen’s hair dresser, Joel Osteen’s dermatologist and skintone consultant, Joel Osteen’s cosmetic dental technician, and both Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales.

“ Just print and preach!”©

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just what the Doctor Ordered ...

Every young pastor should make a point to study and develop a specific expertise on one book of the Bible, one area of theology, and one pastor from Church history.

- Martyn Lloyd-jones [paraphrased]

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Memorization of Texts ...

Here is a wordcount list of some worthwhile speeches/sermons I've compiled for comparison:  See any glaring omissions? Please let me know.

41 - Theoden's "Ride to Gondor" Speech
78 – Luther’s “Here I Stand” speech
92 - Aragorn's speech before the Black Gates [film version]
111 – Apostles’ Creed
225 – Nicene Creed
267 – Paul at Mars Hill [before being stopped short by the crowd – Acts 17]
271 – Mark Antony’s [Shakespeare’s] ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech
278 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg address
407 – Shakespeare’s Saint Crispin’s Day speech
478 – Benjamin Franklin’s Call to Prayer at the Constitutional Convention
523 – Peter’s Pentecost sermon [Acts 2]
648 – Paul’s sermon to Agrippa [Acts 26]
657 – Athanasian Creed
896 – Paul’s Epistle to Titus
1,028 – Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty” Speech
1,236 – Stephen’s sermon to the Sanhedrin before his martyrdom
1,320 – The Declaration of Independence
1,382 – JFK’s – “Ask not” Inaugural Address
1,666 – MLK’s “I have a dream” speech
1,666- Paul’s Last Epistle [2nd Timothy]
1,928 – Olivet Discourse [Matthew 24-5]
2,304 – James’ Epistle
2,412 – Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5-7]
2,423 – Psalm 119
2,743 – Luther’s 95 Theses
2,854 – The Didache [R-D Trans]
4,144 – Westminster Shorter Catechism [w/o proofs]
4,246 – Gallic [French] Confession
5,330 – C.S. Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory” sermon
5,933 – Sozhenitsyn’s “A World Split Apart” Harvard Address
6,069 – Washington’s farewell address
6,696 – Spurgeon’s “Hairs of Your Head” Providence Sermon
6,897 – The letter to the Hebrews
7,184 – Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
8,180 – 12 Commandments from Shepherd of Hermas [R-D Trans]
8,375 – Heidelberg Catechism [w/o footnotes or proofs]
9,078 – Belgic Confession
12,123 – 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith w/ Footnotes/Proofs
13,143 – Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthian Church
15,406 – Westminster Larger Catechism
23,918 – Athanasius’ On the Incarnation
33,760 – 2nd Helvetic Confession [w/ headings and proofs]
~80,000 – Torah [5 books of Moses]
169,751 – English New Testament

In the NKJV Romans has 9495 words [7111 in the Greek]; 16 chapters; 433 verses. It takes roughly 60 minutes to read/recite them all.

Tips for memorization:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who are You? 2 Views ...

In the Darwinist worldview, you are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach three and a half billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance, and natural forces. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus, or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short you come from nothing and are going to nowhere.  
By contrast, in the Christian worldview, you are the special creation of a good and all-powerful God. You are created in His image; with capacities to think, feel, and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree but in kind. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among you kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires you companionship and affection that he has a perfect plan for you life. In addition God gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with Him. If you are willing to accept his gift of salvation, you can become a child of God.

- Randy Alcorn

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Opiate of the Morally Corrupt: why unbelief is so appealing

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption…. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is ... concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do…. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from an certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

-Aldous Huxley
Confession of a Professed Atheist, Report: Perspective on the News, vol. 3 (June 1966), p. 19

[blog title taken from a chapter title by Dinesh D'Souza.  He calls this the 'pelvic revolt against God'.]

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Little Church Project

A few weeks ago, in the first sermon of a series on the book, our pastor threw out a challenge to the congregation of Christ Reformed: memorize the entire book of Romans. This really struck me.  Most similar memorization efforts I've seen have been insultingly simple or individualistic.  So I've decided to spend [probably the next year] working on this challenge.  My strategy/tool list at this point is:

Get the book on audio from 2 sources.
Print two copies and have them laminated.
Tailor my Greek studies to the book of Romans.
Read the book regularly.
Write the book regularly.
Study through the book using Haldane's commentary as a guide [and possibly others].
Outline the book.
Chart the book based on a network of ideas and already-familiar verses.
Lastly, I plan to exercise twice a week through the winter.
[The best thing you can buy for longterm memory aid is running shoes, or so they say.]

I'm also reading a book on memorization training entitled Moonwalking with Einstein.  It was recommended to me by my friend and fellow-CREC pastoral trainee, Tony Aguilar.  Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a few tips/tricks from that resource as well.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rookie Pastor - FAIL.!

Recently, the pastoral trainees at Lancaster were joking with the session about implementing a new
church app that would allow the congregants to critique the service and performance of the young guys w/ texts and tweets.  This was too good to pass up without some humor.  Here's my list of the top postings with colorful commentary:

- Spring forward/fall back - starting the service on time # FAIL.!
- Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day off ‘Anyone … Anyone?” - Appropriate excitement when reciting call to worship # FAIL.!
- Your Playlist sucks - Psalm/Hymn selection # FAIL.!
- Uh, now what?? Remembering to say “You may be seated” after hymn # FAIL.!
- I needed filler – inserting the line “and bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies” without thinking – opening prayer # FAIL.!
- What version is He reading from? Announcing the actual reference without inverting the numbers - Scripture Reading # FAIL.!
- X, Y, Z – remembering to check fly before walking to pulpit # FAIL.!
- Don’t quit your day job - Starting off the “Our Father” on the right note # FAIL.!
- Don’t play poker for money … ever - Keeping a straight face while starting off the “Our Father” when Paul Thompson is in attendance # FAIL.!
- Hang in there, puberty was tough for us all – singing first line of “Glory be to God on high” without voice cracking # FAIL.!
- Milli Vanilli you’re not – lip synching words to unfamiliar hymn while leading worship # FAIL.!
- That’s gonna’ leave a mark – Not tripping up the stairs on the way to pulpit # FAIL.!
- If you thought last week’s sermon was good, wait till you hear it a second time – printing the notes for the right sermon # FAIL.!
- And now to paraphrase – Remembering to bring your Bible to the pulpit # FAIL.!
- Oh, that green button – aka – Oh … That’s why the sound booth guy looked so interested in my sermon - turning on lapel mic # FAIL.!
- Wake me up when it’s over - Opening sermon illustration # FAIL.!
- Well, at least it woke them up – Not hitting and knocking over the pulpit mic when making hand gestures during sermon # FAIL.!
- Note to self – call exterminator to kill chirping crickets in basement – sermon joke # FAIL.!
- Next time, I’ll fire off a cannon first to warn you it's coming – covering mic and turning head in time to not sneeze at 140 decibels # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … focused … not being distracted by ringing cell phone during sermon – train of thought # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … focused … not being distracted by screaming baby during sermon – train of thought # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … fo … uh … oh no! That’s my kid crawling under the pews – ordering your own household # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … fo … uh … oh no! That’s my ring tone! Finding reach-through to pocket in clergy robe # FAIL.!
- “All the Single Ladies”? … Really? – Pastor’s ring tone selection #FAIL.!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reminds Me of Something Spurgeon Once Said about Sermon Length ...

According to author Christopher Buckley, before constructing the East Building of the National Gallery of Arts, the design team created its floor plans based on studies that suggested the average museum-goer’s attention span lasts for approximately 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another Great Poem from Reading Time ...


By Phoebe Cary

Here's a hand to the boy who has courage
To do what he knows to be right;
When he falls in the way of temptation
He has a hard battle to fight.
Who strives against self and his comrades
Will find a most powerful foe.

All honor to him if he conquers.
A cheer for the boy who says, “No!”
There's many a battle fought daily
The world knows nothing about;
There's many a brave little soldier
Whose strength puts a legion to rout.

And he who fights sin single-handed
Is more of a hero, I say,
Than he who leads soldiers to battle
And conquers by arms in the fray.
Be steadfast my boy, when you're tempted,
To do what you know to be right.

Stand firm by the colors of manhood,
And you will o'ercome in the fight.
“The right,” be your battle cry ever
In waging the warfare of life,
And God, who knows who are the heroes,
Will give you the strength for the strife.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What about Galileo?

I once got a chance to meet and ask Ken Ham about the story of Galileo, science, and the Church.  His response really set me back on my heels.  He said that when Church officials refused to hear Galileo’s case – they were really only doing so because Church doctrine had been established by both Biblical language AND THE ‘SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS’ of the day. The scientists of his day were originally opposed to Galileo along w/ the clergy. It’s actually most analogous to mainstream/liberal ministers shunning intelligent design or young-earth scientists today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Wallstreet Envy: Egalitarianism Gone Wild

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that, with God, ingratitude is a capital offense.  This truth is at the heart of the Christian faith.  It's why globally, countless Christians wake every Sunday to render thanks to God.  This general principle also applies to the countless Jews and Muslims around the globe. It is an evil to accept gifts from the hand of God without so much as a thank you in reply.
But it is easy for us to take good gifts for granted.  Narcissism comes naturally. Nowhere is this decadence more evident than in the rabble of whiners loitering on Wallstreet right now. These people who have spent their lives living off of corporate production now lashing out in covetousness and ingratitude demanding a share of other’s wealth [by posting google blogs on iPhones, while clothed in corporate textile fabrics, etc] .

I remember once hearing Sam Walton sum up his business philosophy with the old adage, “Sell to the classes, live with the masses; sell to the masses, live with the classes.” Walmart has been wildly successful not because they sell caviar, yachts, or Gulfstream interior packages. They sell Rubbermaid storage bins, fabric by the yard, and Doritos at a discount. Walmart booms because it reaches so many ordinary people in helpful ways. It provides a first job for many high school students, night shift stock work to other young adults who need the second income, and employment for elderly and handicapped workers who might otherwise not be able to find work. The managers of our local branch make a competitive wage and the supervisors are afforded regular opportunities for training and internal advancement. For all its flaws, Walmart makes my town a better place and as proof, I merely submit the thousands of people who shop there every week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Context of Abortion ...

"Abortion is a religious issue not just because traditional religions happen to oppose it but because abortion is necessarily about sex... A woman (or more usually, the man!) wants abortion only because she wants to have sex without babies.
So in order to fully persuade the people in our society that abortion is not an option, that babies are holy and not to be treated as toys to be thrown away at will, we must achieve a much harder task: we must persuade them that sex is holy and not to be treated as a toy. For sex is the context of abortion. Abortion is different from other issues because sex is different from other issues."

- Peter Kreeft

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lullaby of Broadway ...

“The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality, and especially on sexual morality... And the madness of tomorrow will come not from Moscow but from Manhattan.”  

-G.K. Chesterton, 1926

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 2

ME: So, when Scripture is read, should we wait for the lab results before saying the 'Amen'? Dave's point stands - if theology is subject to scientific consensus then what else is up for grabs? What stops us IN PRINCIPLE? Isn't it THE slippery slope that marks the point of departure, historically, from orthodoxy into liberalism?

A - love you, brother, but 'proven'? When scientists claim to have "proven" fossil aging in the billions of years in the same way that - say - they did the polio vaccine, a certain cynicism is in order. On the contrary, God's Word is sure. Its clear points are to be clearly and plainly believed.
@ Galileo - I asked for chapters - because that's what we have for creation. And their CLEAR point is 6-day creation, while the metaphorical "sun rising / setting" is incidental. There is no honest comparison.

A - hope to get together again soon, maybe in DC?

Pastor B, as 1 Peter commands, preach as the oracle of God, not the oracle of God**.
Let God be true and every man a liar [white lab coat notwithstanding].

HIM: B- you can still say the "Amen" whether the days are meant to be literal or figurative, because the message of Scripture is that GOD created the universe! The same way that 400 years ago, the congregation could say the "Amen" to the "...geocentric" verses before "the observatory results" were in, because the message is NOT geocentrism OR heliocentrism.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It Gets Better …once you repent

There has been a lot of media coverage recently because of the recent suicides of some young students who had allegedly been the victims of bullying [which seems to be the contemporary equivalent of antebellum lynching] because of their nascent homosxlity. Never before have we needed more clarity on this issue. Never before have we needed more honesty about this issue. But both are very hard to come by. The dirty little secret is that it doesn’t get better. The homosxl life is a meatgrinder that leaves people mangled, used, and desperately alone in the end. I hope we can say this with honesty and love to our dear ones in the struggle.
Below is an abridged essay written by Ronald Lee who refers to himself as a former gay [of several decades] and now devout Christian [Catholic]. He has written bravely and frankly to set the record straight and this lengthy essay is well worth the read.

The Truth About the Homosxl Rights Movement
Ronald G. Lee

There was a "gay" bookstore called Lobo's in Austin, Texas, when I was living there. The layout was interesting. Looking inside from the street all you saw were books - like any other bookstore. It all looked so innocuous and disarmingly bourgeois. But if you went inside to browse, before long you noticed another section, behind the books, a section not visible from the street. The pornography section. Hundreds and hundreds of videos involving men catering to every conceivable sxl taste or fantasy. And you would notice something else too. All the customers were in the back, rooting through the videos. As far as I know, I am the only person who ever actually purchased a book. The books were, in every sense of the word, a front.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remember Tyndale ...

Today is the day many in the Church remember the life and work of William Tyndale.  He died on this day in 1536.

A lot has been made of the King James Version of the Bible this year, but if you're like me, you haven't heard or thought much about this dear saint.  Below are a few of the phrases we take for granted, that originated with him:

Jehovah (from a transliterated Hebrew construction in the Old Testament; composed from the Tetragrammaton YHWH.

Passover (as the name for the Jewish holiday, Pesach or Pesah)

scapegoat (the goat that bears the sins and iniquities of the people in Leviticus, Chapter 16)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sporadic Mycophilia: Golden Chanties ...

Today I found my first wild golden chanterelles - one of the most precious finds for any mycophage [top 3 choice edible on any list] because of their taste and because they have never been successfully cultivated by commercial farmers.  They were beautiful, if a little over-ripe.  I found them circling the ground near a large, mature oak in some woods almost within sight of the side door to my office.  They smell strongly of dried apricots - not even a trace of mushroom or fungal aroma ... simply wonderful.  Bright, buttery yellow gold, they stood out from the forest floor, that is only just starting to clutter with the bright colors of fall leaves.  You can see from the picture their deep ridges/wrinkles [NOT gills & NOT growing out of dead wood/tree base and NOT in a true cluster]. They sliced solid with a white center down the stalk.  We sauteed them with some pineapple, honey, salt, general seasoning spice mix, and of course, lots of butter - then served with pasta. 
It vividly reminded me of a Leithart passage a friend shared with me recently.  He notes how Moses recounts the construction of the tabernacle to parallel the 7 days of creation in Genesis 1.  “Day 3: Table of showbread on north side outside the veil, with bread arranged [Ex 40:22-23]” corresponds to Day 3 of the creation week: “Golden land and food”.