I love you this much….

“When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son! We cannot measure such love by any other standard. He is saying to us: I love you this much.

The cross is the heart of the gospel. It makes the gospel good news: Christ died for us. He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat. He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.”

~Sinclair Ferguson

Share Button
Posted in Quotes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Palm Sunday (or Ash Wednesday)

Palm Sunday…

By tradition, churches celebrate this day by having the children parade up the aisles of the church carrying palm branches, symbolizing the palms that the people laid before the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on that day that began His last week on earth.

Also, by tradition, churches dry those branches, and burn them to ashes and save them all year, so that on “Ash Wednesday” the pastor/priest/man of the cloth can use them to trace the sign of the cross on the foreheads or hands of worshippers.

I’ve never done that – worn the sign of the cross, in ashes, on my forehead for the world to see. It’s not that I’m shy about wearing a cross, either around my neck, or on my shoulder as a tattoo.

I don’t know why.

The churches I’ve attended have been far out of the way from where I’ve worked, so it would have seemed easy to write off getting there before my early work time. Too inconvenient.

For a time, resisting “tradition” or the church calendar in such things felt too “traditional” or even “Catholic” so shying away for that reason could have been justified.

But at the end, I could have stopped at a church nearby work. I could have embraced history.

I think that the idea of the question…all…day…long…”why did you do that?” and “what is that for?” or “what does that mean?” felt too risky.

I love the Church calendar now. God created seasons, and changes, and the yearly rhythm. The church calendar embraces that rhythm and reminds us of the changing seasons. Each Holy Day reminds us of our redemptive history.

Anyway…this should have been written on Ash Wednesday…and this post should have been about Palm Sunday.

But that’s not what went through my brain. Regret at not having the courage to wear ashes on the first day of Lent…

Share Button
Posted in Palm Sunday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Where the Son Shines Most

20140412-093404.jpg

As I sat at a picnic table, one of my favorite places to stretch after a walk, and I heard a rustling in the trees behind me. Always aware that wild pigs hang out in this park, I always check those rustling sounds. I’ve never seen a pig, but lots of deer, and Phil and I saw a bobcat once. This time it was a wild turkey.

Anyway, I noticed the grass. The deer and other grass eaters that live here like the meadow areas, and this one has trees around for shelter from human (and predator) eyes.

See in the photo, the clear line of shade and sun…and how the grass stays short and a little sparse in the shade, but grows with wild abandon in the light.

The grass grows best where the sun shines most.

I had read in “Everyday Prayers” how we should start each day with the gospel, letting the Holy Spirit minister grace to us each day. Then came to mind “justification.” – the moment we are declared righteous by the blood of Christ, to become the righteousness of God. The grass is planted.

Tullian Tchividian says (roughly) that our sanctification is being pointed back to our justification. Partly, but I think that’s only part of the story. We use our justification as motivation for our sanctification.

I believe in a monergistic justification, but Scripture does speak of working out (not for) our salvation. It speaks of the works that are prepared for us in advance, it speaks of studying, of becoming more like Christ.

This is sanctification.

We will fail; we will sin. We should (and must) remain secure in the knowledge of our justification. This, the gospel, should stay in our minds each and every day.

We should have more than living in the past set in our sights. We are rooted in the past, our justification. Our justification – being found in Christ – causes our sanctification.

I believe in a synergistic sanctification. Growing in Christ takes our work – powered by the Holy Spirit, granted by God, grown by Christ.

Christians grow best where the SON shines most.

Only when we continually bask in the love of the Saviour, and yes, pointing ourselves back to our justification, only when we bring ourselves out of the shadows of our sin, only when we walk in His light, and His Word, do we have the basis for the works that He has prepared for us.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7 ESV)

Share Button
Posted in Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

{this} for {that}

It strikes me as I sit at the end of a (nearly) four mile hike that my “diet walk” bears certain similarities to my spiritual walk.

This may ring a familiar tune: “Dear God, if you just grant {this,} then I will…{that.}

If I can {this} then I can {that}

If I do the Rotary Furnace loop in 1:30 or less, than I can sit and enjoy a smoke at the end. (by the way, I did the loop in 1:25, and yes, I’m enjoying a Partagas 1845.)

If mapmywalk says I burned 400 calories, I can eat 2 Cadbury Cream Eggs.

Some days it seems like a reward system, other days it seems like a bargaining system.

Maybe the reward system works: As long as the “treat” doesn’t impinge on my “bad foods” list (gluten, potatoes) maybe the system works. As a bargaining system, I think…not so much.

Does the mindset make a difference?

If I use {that} as a reward because I did so awesome on my workout (tomorrow’s plan is an 8 mile, Quicksilver end-to-end hike) then my goal is still the workout, with the treat at the end.

Turn that around…I want {that} so much, that I’m willing to do the difficult workout in order to get it. The goal is the treat, with the workout as the obstacle. The {that} is controlling my behavior.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12 ESV)

I don’t know how to tell the difference. I might need to work on that.

Share Button
Posted in Christianity, diet, exercise | Tagged , | Leave a comment

with this ring…

Ah…the wedding ring. Many of our traditions concerning this symbol and token began in ancient Egypt.

The ring is a circle – the symbol of eternity. Never ending, always moving. The shape of things far away…the sun and the moon.

But it’s not just the “ring,” the hole in the center where your finger goes carries the symbolism of a gateway. Your finger going through that ring symbolizes an entrance to a new life, changes, opportunities and sorrows, known and unknown – but together.

Even the finger symbolized love. The Egyptians believed that the vein in the third finger on the left hand flowed directly from the heart. The Romans adopted this, calling that vein the “vena amoris” – the vein of love.

The first people who wore wedding rings made them out of hemp or some other kind of fiber…so the love might have been eternal…the ring, not so much.

Later, people used bone, onyx, or other easily carved stone. It was not until coinage became easily “mintable”, that metal rings became more common.

(Note: when silver was popular during the renaissance in Italy, engagement (or betrothal) rings also became popular. The wedding ring was added to the engagement ring; the engagement ring was made of silver and replaced with an identical (gold) ring during the wedding ceremony.)

For a time, in Ireland, people considered it bad luck for a wedding ring to be made from anything other than gold (the poor, prohibited by cost from wearing gold, would have considered themselves prohibited by superstition from wearing anything but gold — stayed ring-less?). The Church of England put a stop to that, teaching that the material didn’t matter, as long as a ring was present.

Contrast that with the Puritans, who believed that any jewelry, including a wedding ring was both vanity and pagan, hardening back to the Egyptian root on the practice, and banned the wearing of wedding rings. This practice stuck: an old friend of mine told that her parents had been brought up in a Pilgrim Holiness church. They were a scandal, since her mom wore a wedding ring.

Millennia later, the wedding ring remains a symbol of love and eternity; so much that the exchange of rings is part of most wedding vows

With this ring, I thee wed…

Share Button
Posted in - wedding plans, Vows | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“The Liberal Goulag”

an article here

As I read Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals for the umteenth time, and as I read this article, I’m reminded that (Rule #5)

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

“…you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments.”

I put “false accusation” in that category.

Read this article quoting Mozilla, and consider Brendan Eich.

Eich co-founded Mozilla. His guidance got it up and running. Last week, he quit in disgrace. His “crime?” Eight years ago, he donated $1,000 to California’s Prop 8 (Constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage.” I’m not going to send any readers there, but find an article on the matter and read the comments.

No longer can “same sex marriage” be a matter of opinion – those who hold the view that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman should be drummed out of the public square.

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

Really. What standard are they not living up to…the one that the co-founder helped to set in place? If this is the “true to ourselves” that they want to live up to, the world, in one week, became a much scarier place for people of a more conservative faith.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

How did we “expect” them to act? Obviously, liberals expected Eich to be forced out (or not promoted in the first place) much more quickly.

Oh…and “engage” must equal “get rid of all those who don’t toe the gay agenda party line.”

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

As long as “standing for both” means “getting rid of everybody who disagrees,” Mozilla is doing great at that.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

And some are more equal than others.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

The rank hypocrisy makes me angry.

This week, not quite so diverse,

Not quite so open,

The beliefs and opinions of those who think that marriage should remain defined between a man and a woman…not quite so encouraged to share.

If their “higher standard” is anti-Christian, shutting down of conversation, and shutting out all who disagree, they seem as if they are on the right track.

As I write this, an alert came in telling me that SCOTUS has declined to hear Elane Huguenin’s case in New Mexico. The world can now force Christian photographers to either act against their conscience, or be forced out of the public square.

There can be no disagreement on the “SSM” issue, or you will be ridiculed, fired, sued, forced out, called vile names…

all for the sake of “tolerance.”

Welcome to the New United States of…

Share Button
Posted in Homosexuality, Politics and Christianity, Where Faith and Politics Intersect | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Public Prayer

In a book that I’m reading (I’m not at a computer so I’ll add the link later) the author talks about public prayer.

Says that if you’re in any position of authority, no matter how small, you should brush up on public prayer.

I don’t like praying publicly, but have on occasion prayed in a public setting. It’s hard for me, and it was hard for my dad, so maybe I learned it from him.

I’m not sure how you pray, and pray *to* God, while also praying for the edification of those around you. I mean, I sort of get it, but where’s the overlap – how do you tell when you take your attention off God, and start worrying “more” about the people you’re with?

I don’t think that prayers should be a sermon with your eyes closed. They shouldn’t be used to guilt people into anything.

But…Jesus prayed for the benefit of His listeners. When He raised Lazarus, He prayed,

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “ Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me

If we use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for prayer, shouldn’t we use this as a pattern for public prayer as well?

So yeah…authority or not, we should brush up on our public prayer.

Share Button
Posted in prayer | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

“Signature in the Cell” – Book Review

Signature in the Cell” was written by Stephen C. Meyer – a Cambridge trained philosopher of science.

Unlike previous arguments for intelligent design, Signature in the Cell presents a radical and comprehensive new case, revealing the evidence not merely of individual features of biological complexity but rather of a fundamental constituent of the universe: information. That evidence has been mounting exponentially in recent years, known to scientists in specialized fields but largely hidden from public view. A Cambridge University-trained theorist and researcher, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Meyer is the first to bring the relevant data together into a powerful demonstration of the intelligence that stands outside nature and directs the path life has taken.

The book is dense – the science part…I caught maybe half. Meyer,a philosopher of science, and writes like a…philosopher of science. If you can partly follow the writing about DNA, its significance, and why it’s important to the debate, the pieces of the book on the debate, stifling, and politics of science will fascinate you.

We live in a world where everybody assumes the “fact” of atheistic evolution – “everybody knows it’s true.” Meyer doesn’t know that and sets out to prove he’s right.

Meyer asks the answerless questions that atheistic evolutionists should be asking themselves. The world tells Christians that we must examine our beliefs against “known” science; “Signature in the Cell” examines atheistic evolution in that same way.

This is not a “Christian” book – Meyer may be a Christian, but religion has no place in this book. Meyer does not name the “Designer;” his purpose is to make a place FOR a designer.

That doesn’t mean the book doesn’t have religious implications: once a person is convinced by logic and science that there must be a designer, the next question is who that designer is. (I’m not saying it was aliens…~inside joke from “Ancient Aliens~)

The book leaves out the question of “literal six-day creationism” – we may ask that question another day, but not this one, not in this book.

Also absent is the question of theistic evolution. Did God create “as is” or did He direct the evolution of His creation? Also…a question for another day.

The purpose of the book is to make a case from DNA for a designer, and that he does.

The book is important because it gives a solid reference point of “Intelligent Design” that doesn’t get sidetracked by arguments against Christianity. The question stands: “Does DNA point to a designer?”

It took me a while to get through this book. One, it’s a big book. Two, I had to read a lot of things twice and let it sink in.

It took work to get through, but it’s worth the trouble. Like most books in this genre, you get out of it what you put into it.

Read this book if you want insight into the “Intelligent Design” debate and how the most basic pieces of the stuff we’re made of points to our Designer.

Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the subtle influence of “Sarah Calling”

Or a variation on the theme.

I’ve talked to a few people about the way language and thought patterns creep into the church little by little.

We may not be Pentecostal, but we accept the language of prophecy with not even a blink.

There is a very widespread belief that if God doesn’t talk to YOU, there’s something wrong with you. If you haven’t had a private, clear, and personal word from God, you may not even be a Christian.

Going beyond what Scripture says the Holy Spirit will do for us, we now have the “word” from Pentecostals that private prophesy is a “sure thing” and something we must have for a good walk with Christ.

Bringing me to what I saw on a sign in front of a church I pass every day on the way to work:

“Be quiet enough to hear God whisper.”

Assuming that

1) God cannot make Himself heard if we don’t have the correct amount of quiet (ask Paul about his trip to Damascus)
2) The correct amount of quiet will result in hearing God whisper
3) Hearing God whisper is a necessity.

I think this is just another example of Pentecostal creep.

Share Button
Posted in Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Of Pipe Cleaners and Porn

Reading “Surfing For God

When I was in high school, my best friend’s dad smoked a pipe.  Coming from a Baptist family, who were all non-smokers, had only used pipe cleaners in craft projects.  I was waiting for Denise one day, at their dining room table and amused myself with what was available.

Now…imagine the horror that she felt when she discovered that I had made little animals out of all of her dad’s pipe cleaners!  Imagine my confusion when told her dad used “pipe cleaners” to…well…clean his pipes!  She was afraid that her dad would be angry at the wrong use of his pipe cleaners.

There was a legitimate use of the pipe cleaners that I didn’t quite have the experience to “get.”

(this is not a good parallel, but it meant something to me.)

In reading “Surfing for God,” the author, Michael John Cusick, related a story:

My friend Danny is passionate about baseball. He is also deeply committed to working on his soul—understanding his brokenness and walking with Jesus to be restored. In 2005 we drove together to the Colorado Rockies’ opening day game. During our drive he shared that he hadn’t missed an opening day game in years.

Through his involvement in a men’s group, he realized that he “needed” to attend opening day the way an alcoholic needs a drink. Danny had recently discovered that opening day numbed the pain of growing up with an absent father because it symbolized the minimal time and attention his father gave him. His legitimate desire for fatherly involvement attached itself to a designer gift—a legitimate good.

But because attendance at opening day was an attempt to protect himself from the pain of his wound, the legitimate good became a counterfeit good. He was turning stones into bread. The game we attended was the first time his heart was free from the need to be there. (1)

It reminds me of something that C.S.Lewis wrote

If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad… But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things.

The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much…I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.

Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled…In order to be bad he must have good things to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them.(2)

Cusick echoes this:

Every gift from our Designer has a corresponding gift from the deceiver—a “shadow” gift. And you can bet your three hundred ringgits that every deceiver gift is a counterfeit. Satan cannot create anything; he can only take what has been created and twist it against its design. So, we are tempted to overindulge the Designer’s gift of food. We might make a god out of alcohol—turning to it addictively to meet all sorts of inner needs—or maybe we make a god out of not drinking alcohol. We are deceived into believing that deceiver gifts will actually make us flourish.(3)
.

So, something in the sermon on Sunday reminded me of those pipe cleaners, which triggered the memory of this segment of the book.

I had taken a “thing” with a use – a use for which the thing was made, and made something frivolous of it.   I cannot see making animals out of pipe cleaners as “bad” – but it certainly isn’t the intended use.

Food isn’t bad – God gave us the good gift of food.  But abusing food twists the good gift into a bad use.

God gave us the good gift of sex, with an intended good use.  We can twist that good gift by using it outside of the intended arena.

I’ve written on “lady porn” – trashy romance novels that twist the good gift of romance into mere fodder for emotional flights of fantasy.  This abuse of a good gift can twist a marriage into a competition of sorts, where the husband feels the need to live up to the “romance” of his wife wanting to be swept off her feet by a “knight in shining armor.”

More and more current studies show that women share the porn problem with men.  Women may get different things from porn than men do, but the problem gets shared.  Women twist the good gift of sex and intimacy just as easily as men do.

Cusick wrote:

We begin our journey from slavery to freedom when we expose the counterfeits at the root of our brokenness and admit our thirst for the real thing.(4)

.When a woman uses porn (or lusty romance novels, or food, or anything else) because we thirst for something else…what do we thirst for?

When I feel stressed at work, I do this crazy thing:  I hit the quarter machine.  You know, you put in a quarter and turn the knob and it gives you 11 or 12 Good~n~Plenties.  But I can’t just eat them.  I need to line them up…pink and white and pink and white…and I need to eat them in the right order.  When I thirst for order and control, I feel that I can quench that thirst by arranging and eating pink and white candies in the right order.  That’s some sort of twisted…

Humans twist all sorts of things, and the point of this post centers on porn, but it doesn’t need to…throughout life test all things…do you have the “right use” in mind?  or something else?

 

  1. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1174-1183). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity, Book 2
  3. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1183-1187). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  4. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1195-1196). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Share Button
Posted in Christian Issues, Now Reading, Porn, Porn, The Porn Series | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment