Thursday, April 30, 2009
- the causes and culprits
- the consequences
- the underlying root cause
- what this reveals about the spiritual state of high income countries (esp. in the US/UK)
- what the Bible teaches about finance, in contrast to conventional thinking
- the implications for public policy, the church, and Christians
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Dear Theological Duo: As a big fan of both Jesus and Tom Hanks, I can’t decide if I should see “The Da Vinci Code” and the sequel coming out in May, ”Angels and Demons.” Can you give me a good theological argument for boycotting these films? — Jim Wainscott, Tempe, AZ
Maurice: I hear you, Jimbo. It’s hard to boycott a Tom Hanks movie, even when it’s questioning the validity of Biblical Christianity. Seems a shame to let any pesky allegiance to truth stand in the way of watching a good thriller about conspiracy theories within Christendom.
Emmett: On the contrary, Maurice. I happen to have my own conspiracy theory about these movies that I hope makes Jim think twice about buying a theater ticket. I’m talking, of course, about the secret ”Evil Opie” cabal I recently uncovered.
Maurice: Evil Opie?
Emmett: That’s right. As you may know, the director of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons is Ron Howard, a former child actor who played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s. For anyone who saw the satanic overtones of this boy’s depraved behavior on that show, it should give any God-fearing moviegoer second thoughts about seeing Opie’s films.
Maurice: Wow. I’m surprised Floyd the barber didn’t find 666 etched on the boy’s scalp while trimming his devil-red hair.
Emmett: You mock, Maurice, but I have documented proof. Case in point: Episode 64 titled “Opie’s Rival” that originally aired December 3, 1962. Little Opie becomes jealous of Andy’s new girlfriend, Peggy, and precedes to blatantly sabotage their relationship with cunning trickery. I get a chill down my spine just thinking about the sinister look in Opie’s eyes when he purposely loses a note from Peggy that he was supposed to give to Andy.
Maurice: Not to mention the other episodes where we witness Opie kill a mother bird, lie about his school grades, and later form a teen rock band.
Emmett: Exactly. Is this the kind of person that we can trust to produce proper Hollywood entertainment about Christianity for Christians? I think not. Boycott this film, Jim, before the ungodly influence of Evil Opie spreads any further.
Maurice: Aunt Bea must be rolling in her grave.
Emmett: I doubt it. She was part of the Mayberry Illuminati.
Maurice: Oh, good grief…
Emmett: This is serious stuff, Maurice. By exposing the “Evil Opie” connection, my life is now in extreme danger. Do you think it was a coincidence that Don Knotts died just months before the Da Vinci Code film came out?
Maurice: You mean… ?
Emmett: That’s right. Barney Fife knew too much.
Maurice: ‘Nuff said, Emmett… You better nip it. Nip it in the bud.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Taliban spokesman ZABIHULLAH MUJAHID on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's offer of an "honorable form of reconciliation" for Taliban members who abandon extremism.
This just shows how stupid the left is thinking that if we can just talk to people they will come around and see how easy it is to set things straight.
The Wind has a will of his own.
We don't control the Wind of God's Spirit. He gives the new birth as he pleases. His will is decisive, not ours. For sure, our will moves when we receive the new birth—it moves toward the crucified Christ. But the decisive Mover is the Spirit. He gets the credit for our new birth.
The free will of the Wind is threatening to those who would be captain of their own souls. But to those who know they are desperate, dead in sin, and utterly unable to save themselves, this truth can be thrilling. ("The Free Will Of The Wind" John Piper)
We all declare for choice; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word choice may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor. While with others the same word may mean for some men [and women] to do as they please with others, and with other men's labors. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name--choice. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names--choice and tyranny."See also John Piper's post from earlier this year making the same connection between arguments against slavery and against abortion.
Monday, April 27, 2009
J Jesus will be there - we will see him face to face.
E End of sorrow and suffering - Both in our lives, and in the lives of fellow Christians.
R Renewed creation - We will live in the new heavens and new earth, in all its splendor.
U Undeserved - We will know that we deserve condemnation, and we are only there by Christ's blood.
S Sinless - We will no longer sin, offending God and hurting others.
A Adoring God perfectly - We will finally love God as we should, and we will spend eternity praising him.
L Loved by God - We will finally understand and experience just how much he loves and has loved us.
E Everlasting - There will be no prospect of losing glory - we will be there in perfection for ever.
M Multitude - There will be people from all nations, a new society, joyfully serving God together."
From Richard Baxter's book, The Saints' Everlasting Rest
"Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity. There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats--so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charming! He transforms the fortress into a country seat, and naturally the enemy takes it. So it is with Christianity. They changed the method--and naturally the world conquered."
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon “Christendom"
Sunday, April 26, 2009
"Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew beyond a doubt that the bills weren't representative of their actual usage, and no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continued.
Although they could see nothing wrong, they had everything checked for leaks or problems: first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes, underground pipes, faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc. -- all to no avail.
One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed, but kept hearing water running downstairs. He finally tore himself from his sick bed to investigate, and stumbled onto the cause of such high water bills.
Apparently this was happening all day long when they were not at home. Knowing that few would believe him, he taped a segment of the 'problem' for posterity -- see attached video."
Read the story
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Tony Reinke has a link and a summary for Clarkson's 37-page sermon on 13 "soul idols," originally published in 1864.
If you want a far better version of the message your getting from me right now, you might want to look up an old worthy Puritan named David Clarkson whose three volume set of works was published by the Banner of Truth a long time ago. In the second volume Clarkson has an unbelievably thorough, typically-Puritan, sermon called “Soul Idolatry Excludes Men out of Heaven.” . . . He says, honestly, physical idolatry, bowing down with your body to a physical image, is not really all that different and a lot less prevalent than the real sin which is what he calls “soul idolatry”—bowing down to some thing that probably doesn’t have a physical image, in your heart. In other words you can make anything into an idol—anything at all. Doesn’t have to be a statue. It almost never is.
From Between Two Worlds
Clearly, the Lord is at work. He is creating new conditions for the future. In the 90s, we had nothing of the magnitude of The Gospel Coalition, Together For The Gospel, Acts 29 and other obvious indicators of a new movement of God. We did have, say, Promise Keepers, which helped many. But PK was not explicitly gospel-centered, not aggressively theological. Its impact was unsustainable. But now the Lord is giving us something new, something better. Let's be thankful to him. This doesn't come along every day. Let's steward the blessing well. If we bungle this, I doubt we will see it again in our time. But if we are wise, not intruding our own self-centered complications but humbly keeping Christ first, the blessing will grow. And maybe, in the mercy of God, we will see awakening in our time.
Friday, April 24, 2009
From Reformation Theology
Thursday, April 23, 2009
"I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I got my plastic Jesus, sitten' on the dashboard of my car. Comes in colors pink and pleasant, glows in the dark it's iridescent, take it with you when you travel far." (From the song Plastic Jesus)
Its sad to see so many people sucked into this phoney plastic so called Christian culture and it's corrupt values.
Stage 1: Desire. "The objects of most of our desires are not evil. The problem is the way they tend to grow, and the control they come to exercise over our hearts. All human desire must be held in submission to a greater purpose, the desires of God for his kingdom." (p. 85)
Stage 2: Demand. ("I must.") "Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire. . . . I am not longer comforted by God's desire for me; I am threaten by it, because God's will potentially standards in the way of my demand. . . . The morphing of my desire changes my relationship to others. No I enter the room loaded with a silent demand: You must help me get what I want. . . ." (p. 86)
Stage 3: Need. ("I will.") " I now view the thing I want as essential to life. This is a devasating step in the eventual slavery of desire. . . . To 'chriten' desire as need is equivalent to viewing cake as I do respiration. . . ." (p. 86)
Stage 4: Expectation. ("You should.") "If I am convinced I need something and you have said that you love me, it seems right to expect that you will help me get it. The dynamic of (improper) need-driven expectation is the source of untold conflict in relationship." (p. 87)
Stage 5: Disappointment. ("You didn't!") "There is a direct relationship between expectation and disappointment, and much of our disappointment in relationships i s not because people have actually wronged us, but because they have failed to meet our expectations." (pp. 87-88)
Stage 6: Punishment. ("Because you didn't, I will. . . .") "We are hurt and angry because people who say they love us seem insensitive to our needs. So we strike back in a variety of ways to punish them for their wrongs against us. We include everything from the silent treatment (a form of bloodless murder where I don't kill you but act as if you do not exist) to horrific acts of violence and abuse. I am angry because you have broken the laws of my kingdom. God's kingdom has been supplanted. I am no longer motivated by a love for God and people so that I use the things in my life to express that love. Instead I love things, and use people--and even the Lord--to get them. My heart has been captured. I am in active service of the creation, and the result can only be chaos and conflict in my relationships." (p. 88)
So what do you do when desire has morphed into demand into need into expectation into disappointment into punishment? The first step must be vertical, not horizontal. Because relationship problems are rooted in worship problems, James's solution, Tripp rightly notes, is "Start with God":
- "Submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7).
- "Draw near to God" (James 4:8).
- "Cleanse your hands . . . and purify your hearts" (James 4:8)
- "Humble yourselves before the Lord" (James 4:10).
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
-- Tom Ascol
Ice is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap. The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.
Antarctica has 90% of the Earth's ice and 80% of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month. However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.
East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades." Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica.
A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.
So much for global warming.
Will politicians hold to the scam in order to raise taxes, reduce liberties, and further enslave their citizens?
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"For the same reason it was also imperative that he who was to become our Redeemer be true God and true man. It was his task to swallow up death. Who but the Life could do this? It was his task to conquer sin. Who but very Righteousness could do this? It was his task to rout the powers of world and air. Who but a power higher than world and air could do this? Now where does life or righteousness, or lordship and authority of heaven lie but with God alone? Therefore our most merciful God, when he willed that we be redeemed, made himself our Redeemer in the person of his only begotten Son."- John Calvin, Institutes of The Christian Religion, p. 466, vol. 1
I want to go to Christian Land
Land that I love
I want to go to Christian Land,
so I can save my soul
I want to go To Christian Land
I want my healing From Benny Hinn’s hands
I want to get Prosperity
And I want to watch revival right on God TV
I want to go To Christian Land
Where money – not holiness
is what I understand
I want to go To Christian Land
Where all my dreams will be fulfilled
Just like I planned
Benny will be there Ken and Gloria too
Paul and Jan and Paula White, Joel Osteen too!
Jerry and Jesse, Creflo Dollar too
Cause they all live in Christian Land
I want to see The oil flow free
Where nothing is hindered by biblical authority
I want a God I can understand
Who does what I want and fulfills all my plans
words and music by Mark Freer
According to Lancaster, fragments from an ancient ruin buried in Greece contain evidence which seem to indicate that Demas never left the ministry, but merely left Paul’s staff to start a seeker-sensitive megachurch in a suburb of Thessalonica. Demas’ church was called “My Big Fat Greek Church,” and was known for its radical lyre band and Greek chorus, plush coliseum seating, and ample chariot parking. In addition, Demas appears to have written a best-selling scroll titled “Your Best Goat Now,” and coined his ministry’s catchphrase, “Discover the Zeus in You.”
Among the artifacts uncovered at the site was a wall mosaic which experts believe depicts Demas hanging out with Bonocus, a hip musician of the day, at an ecumenical event to encourage dialogue between Christians and Isis worshippers for the sake of world peace.
“Demas had a real knack for engaging the Hellenistic culture for Jesus and drawing thousands of people to his services,” Lancaster stated. “If you want to call that ‘loving the present world,’ then fine. But if you ask me, Paul was just jealous of Demas’ successful ministry. That’s why you can’t take everything Paul wrote as gospel… so to speak.”
Lancaster and his colleagues are anxious to discover more evidence that challenges Paul’s inflammatory claim that Demas was focused on earthly things that soon pass away. Proving that Demas’ ministry wasn’t transitory, however, could take several years because, as Lancaster explains, “The artifacts from Demas’ church are crumbled into little pieces and buried under centuries of dirt.”
The following excerpt is from "The Church of God and the Truth of God," a sermon delivered on Sunday morning 14 September 1856
WE live in very singular times just now. The professing Church has been flattering itself that, notwithstanding all our divisions with regard to doctrine, we are all right in the main. A false and spurious liberality has been growing up which has covered us all, so that we have dreamed that all who bore the name of ministers were indeed God's servants—that all who occupied pulpits, of whatever denomination they might be, were entitled to our respect, as being stewards of the mystery of Christ. But, lately, the weeds upon the surface of the stagnant pool have been a little stirred and we have been enabled to look down into the depths. This is a day of strife—a day of division—a time of war and fighting between professing Christians! God be thanked for it! Far better that it should be so than that the false calm shall any longer exert its fatal spell over us!
Monday, April 20, 2009
To read the whole article
- Augustine (5th century): Remember that you are a citizen of another kingdom.
- Martin Luther (16th century): Expect politicians to be corrupt.
- Thomas Aquinas (13th century): God has made himself known in nature.
- John Calvin (16th century): God is sovereign over all, including our suffering.
- Jonathan Edwards (18th century): God is beautiful, and all beauty is divine.
- Thomas a’Kempis (15th century): Practice self-denial with a passion.
- John Wesley (18th century): Be disciplined and make the best use of your time.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (19th century): God’s grace can reach anyone.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (20th century): Beware of cheap grace.
- Alvin Plantinga (21st century): Moral virtue is crucial for intellectual health.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Lewis A. Drummond, in The Voice from the Cross, page 18.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
"Our most merciful Father, seeing us to be oppressed and overwhelmed with the curse of the law . . . sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him all the sins of all men, saying, 'You be Peter that denier, Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor, David that adulterer, that sinner who ate the apple in Paradise, that thief who hung upon the cross, and briefly, you be the person who has committed the sins of all men. See therefore that you pay and satisfy for them.'"
Martin Luther, commenting on Galatians 3:13.
So what are the tax problems looming on the horizon?
- 43% of US households currently do not pay any federal income tax. That means 43% of Americans think that government services are free.
- Taxes will increase on everyone since the wealthy alone cannot pay off an $11 trillion deficit.
- There’s discussion of adding a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT) on top of the income tax.
- Obama is pushing for his cap and trade energy plan: a $600 billion expense.
- Obama increased taxes on the poorest in the US by increasing taxes on cigarettes.
- Americans spend 8 billion hours per year filling out tax forms. That’s equivalent to 4 million full time people working just to fill out the forms.
- $200b per year cost to fill out the forms.
- 500 different changes in the tax code every year.
- 70,000 pages of tax laws (up from 40,000 pages just 12 years ago).
Friday, April 17, 2009
Socialism doesn’t work:
First, it just doesn’t work. At least not for very long. That’s because people are flawed and, outside of a family, a religious order, or a small group of friends, they will not continually work hard for the ‘greater good’ if they do not receive the fruits of that work themselves. As an economics major in college, I learned that this theory had a name: ‘the free-loader effect’. It is the natural tendency of people to do less and less work when they realize that they won’t see a proportionate increase in what they can get for it.
Over time—and this is an inevitable consequence of the free-loader effect—socialist societies experience decreasing productivity, risk-taking, and innovation, along with increasing tax rates, promises of government programs, and expectations from citizens about what they can get from those programs. When the economy inevitably falters under its own weight, those expectations cannot be met.
Socialism diminishes the dignity of human beings:
The second reason why I believe socialism is such a bad idea is very much related to the first, but much more important to me as a Christian: it diminishes the dignity of human beings. In socialist societies, individuals grow increasingly dependent on the government for their well-being, and less and less confident that they are capable of and responsible for themselves. This is an inevitable recipe for cynicism, fatalism and depression.
488 years ago, April 17-18, Martin Luther stood trial at the Diet [formal assembly] of Worms [a small town on the river Rhine in present-day Germany). (It's properly pronounced, I believe, something like DEE-et of Voerms, not DIE-et of Worms.)
On the 17th Luther was asked whether certain writings were his and if he would revoke them as heretical. He asked for time to compose his answer--he prayed for long hours and consulted with friends, and returned the next day to give his famous answer.
Luther then replied: Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.
On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
From "Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung, pg.61 - OR - How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, ETC.
Sixteen million girls are missing in China. And now we know what happened to them: They were aborted because they weren't boys.
A study published last week in the British Medical Journal, based on a survey of nearly 5 million Chinese children and teenagers, bares the gruesome numbers. Worldwide, the number of boys born per 100 girls ranges from 103 to 107. (The numbers later equalize due to higher male mortality.) Among Chinese children born from 1985 to 1989, the number of boys per 100 girls was 108, close to normal. But among those born from 2000 to 2004, the number rose to 124. The authors conclude that as of 2005, "males under the age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million."
There is a simplicity that diminishes and a simplicity that enlarges,Clyde Kilby, "Christian Imagination," in The Christian Imagination, ed. Leland Ryken (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1981), pp. 42-43. Cited in James Spiegel's excellent essay, Aesthetics and Worship.
and evangelicals have too often chosen the wrong one.
The first is that of cliche--simplicity with mind and heart removed.
The other is that of art.
The first falsifies by its exclusions,
the second encompasses.
The first silently denies the multiplicity and grandeur of creation, salvation, and indeed all things.
The second symbolizes and celebrates them.
The first tries to take the danger out of Christianity, and in removing the danger it often removes the actuality.
The second suggests the creative and sovereign God of the universe with whom there are no impossibilities.
The contrast suggests that not to imagine is what is sinful.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Providence - God Governs This World
J.I. Packer (from Concise Theology)
"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD" (Pro. 16:33).
"God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions" (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total "hands-on" control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute.The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one's spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28).
To read the rest
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
“We will restore science to its rightful place…”
Unpacked, this sentence means: “Under my administration, Americans will have fewer choices about how they live, and fewer choices as voters because, rightfully, those choices should be made by officials who rule by the authority of science.”
Thus our new president intends to accelerate a trend a half-century old in America but older and further advanced in the rest of the world. There is nothing new or scientific about rulers pretending to execute the will of a god or of an oracle. It’s a tool to preempt opposition. The ruler need not make a case for what he is doing. He need only reaffirm his status as the priest of a knowledge to which the people cannot accede. The argument “Do what we say because we are certified to know better” is a slight variant of “Do what we say because we are us.”
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no-one can boast (Eph. 2:8,9).
Faith is not a faculty which fallen humanity has by nature. It cannot issue from sullied and polluted hearts. It is purely a gift of God, which he bestows solely according to the will of his grace. It lights on whom in his sovereignty he wills.
The fact that we wake up one day and know that it has lighted upon us, so that we are enabled to realize our true condition in God's sight and lift our needy hands to him for rescue, is cause for infinite and everlasting thanksgiving. But let us see the underlying doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in clearer terms, so that we know what this great verse is saying. The ground of God's grace to us is the forgiveness of sins through the blood which Jesus shed for us.
The instrument of that grace, which the Almighty places in our hands and our hearts to enable us to respond to his kindness in saving us, is the gift of faith. We are only saved by faith because grace has bestowed it upon us. We have nothing to boast about in our salvation; it is only God from beginning to end.
To him be the glory!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Blair is right on the money when he says that man has limits and beyond those limits only God can work. Have you recognized your limitations? He calls us to return to the fear of God, Proverbs tells us that, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." He also said that the fear of God means obedience and humility. Only by humility can you know that there is something bigger, better and more important than you. Most people live with themselves at the center of life. There are some people who have no fear of God at all they are arrogant and proud. Proverbs also tells us that,"The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor." In a room filled with politicians, sports figures and diplomats who are all seeking their own honor without humility and without the fear of God, a clear call was given that life is not about them and they need to repent or they will be brought low by a mighty God.
Doesn't the teaching on self-esteem and its emphasis on self seem to make the problem worse? That certainly was my experience. When I tried to raise my own self-esteem, it just led to painful self-consciousness and further individualism. Even from a secular perspective, the self-esteem teaching seems suspect.A bit further on in talking about schools and their desire to help kids with poor self-esteem, he writes:
The self-respect the schools are seeking to bestow comes only as a person develops a growing ability to meet difficult tasks, risk failure, and overcome obstacles. You can't simply confer self-esteem upon another person. To assume that other people can control our view of ourselves is what creates low self-esteem in the first place!- Ed Welch, When People Are Big And God Is Small, p. 28,29
But even with all the crazy ways that popular books try to inflate our self-esteem, there is a biblical message in it all. The massive interest in self-esteem and self-worth exists because it is trying to help us with a real problem. The problem is that we really are not okay. There is no reason why we should feel great about ourselves. We truly are deficient. The meager props of the self-esteem teaching will eventually collapse and people will realize that their problem is much deeper. The problem is, in part, our nakedness before God.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
13-14"They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him.
15Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him."
16Jesus said, "Mary."
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" meaning "Teacher!"
17Jesus said, "Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'"
18Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything he said to her.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Former DG staffer, Jonathan Dodson has posted a helpful article that challenges us to re-examine our Western paradigms of gospel conversion. Here’s a key quote:
Gospel change in some cultures is more gradual than instantaneous. The American Evangelical tradition of “deep consciousness of personal sin followed by a sense of joyous liberation” is not common to all cultures. Missionaries labored for years before they saw a single conversion, and even then, the conversions were sometimes very different than what they expected. Cultures that are more communal experience conversion differently that cultures that are highly individualistic. In many African and Asian cultures, conversions come in pairs or families instead of by single individuals. Not all gospel change happens identically, especially across cultures.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?
I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.
Where is your sting?
My sting is your sin.
I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.
Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?
Where is, my sin?
What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?
O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.
Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Lord, the condemnation was yours,John Flavel (1671), from his sermon, "The Solemn Consecration of the Mediator," in The Fountain of Life Opened Up: or, A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory.
that the justification might be mine.
The agony was yours,
that the victory might be mine.
The pain was yours,
and the ease mine.
The stripes were yours,
and the healing balm issuing from them mine.
The vinegar and gall were yours,
that the honey and sweet might be mine.
The curse was yours,
that the blessing might be mine.
The crown of thorns was yours,
that the crown of glory might be mine.
The death was yours,
the life purchased by it mine.
You paid the price
that I might enjoy the inheritance.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
About every other week, I confront popular pluralist notions that have become a large part of the way Americans think. For example, pluralists contend that no one religion can know the fullness of spiritual truth, therefore all religions are valid. But while it is good to acknowledge our limitations, this statement is itself a strong assertion about the nature of spiritual truth. A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture. To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement.
But then I remind the hearers that the only way this parable makes any sense, however, is if the person telling the story has seen the whole elephant. Therefore, the minute one says, 'All religions only see part of the truth,' you are claiming the very knowledge you say no one else has. And they are demonstrating the same spiritual arrogance they so often accuse Christians of. In other words, to say all is relative, is itself a truth statement but dangerous because it uses smoke and mirrors to make itself sound more tolerant than the rest. Most folks who hold this view think they are more enlightened than those who hold to absolutes when in fact they are really just as strong in their belief system as everyone else. I do not think most of these folks are purposefully using trickery or bad motives. This is because they seem to have even convinced themselves of the "truth" of their position, even though they claim "truth" does not exist or at least can't be known. Ironic isn't it? The position is intellectually inconsistent. (Tim Keller)
My King was born King.
The Bible says He's a Seven Way King.
He's the King of the Jews -- that's a racial King.
He's the King of Israel -- that's a national King.
He's the King of righteousness.
He's the King of the ages.
He's the King of Heaven.
He's the King of glory.
He's the King of kings
and He is the Lord of lords.
Now that's my King. Well I wonder if you know Him.
Do you know Him?
Don't try to mislead me.
Do you know my King?
David said the Heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament showeth His handiwork.
My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supplies.
No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.
He's enduringly strong.
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast.
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful.
He's impartially merciful.
That's my King.
He's God's Son.
He's the sinner's savior.
He's the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands alone in Himself.
Well, He's the loftiest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He's the supreme problem in higher criticism.
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He's the cardinal necessity of spiritual religion.
That's my King.
He's the miracle of the age.
He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.
Well, He's the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.
He supplies strength for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He's strong God and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek.
Do you know Him?
Well, my King is a King of knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway of peace.
He's the roadway of righteousness.
He's the highway of holiness.
He's the gateway of glory.
He's the Master of the mighty.
He's the Captain of the conquerors.
He's the Head of the heroes.
He's the Leader of the legislators.
He's the Overseer of the overcomers.
He's the Governor of governors.
He's the Prince of princes.
He's the King of kings and He's the Lord of lords.
That's my King. Yeah. Yeah.
That's my King. My King, yeah.
His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Well. I wish I could describe Him to you,
but He's indescribable.
He's indescribable. Yeah!
I'm trying to tell you,
the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him,
let alone a man explain Him.
You can't get Him out of your mind.
You can't get Him off of your hand.
You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him.
Well, Pharisees couldn't stand Him,
but they found out they couldn't stop Him.
Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn't kill Him.
Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him.
That's my King. Yeah!
He always has been and He always will be.
I'm talking about He had no predecessor
and He'll have no successor.
There was nobody before Him
and there'll be nobody after Him.
You can't impeach Him
and He's not gonna resign.
That's my King! That's my King!
Thine, Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Well, all the power belongs to my King.
We're around here talking about black power and white power and green power,
but it's God's power. Thine is the power.
And the glory.
We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves,
but the glory is all His. Yes.
Thine is the Kingdom
and the power and the glory,
forever and ever
How long is that?
And ever and ever and ever and ever.
And when you get through with all of the forevers,
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The word “world” (Greek: Kosmos) appears 185 times in the New Testament: 78 times in John, 8 in Matthew, 3 in Mark, and 3 also in Luke. The vast majority of its occurrences are therefore in John’s writings, as it is also found 24 times in John’s three epistles, and just three times in Peter.
John uses the word “world” in ten different ways in his Gospel.
1. The Entire Universe - John 1:10; 1:3; 17:5
2. The Physical Earth - John 13:1; 16:33; 21:25
3. The World System - John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11 (see also similar usage in Gal 1:4 – Paul)
4. All humanity minus believers - John 7:7; 15:18
5. A Big Group but less than all people everywhere - John 12:19
6. The Elect Only - John 3:17
7. The Non-Elect Only - John 17:9
8. The Realm of Mankind - John 1:10; (this is very probably the best understanding of the word "world" in John 3:16 also)
9. Jews and Gentiles (not just Israel but many Gentiles too) - John 4:42
10. The General Public (as distinguished from a private group) – not those in small private groups - John 7:4Seeing this list can be very helpful – especially when traditions reign supreme in some people’s minds that "world" always means all people everywhere. Sometimes it does, but most of the time, it does not. It is a tradition that is very strong but one that cannot survive biblical scrutiny. It is the context that always establishes the meaning of words and their usage.
From Reformation Theology
A clear proclamation of the gospel is inherently offensive:
The gospel, by telling us Jesus died for us, is also really insulting. It tells us that we are so wicked that only the death of the Son of God could save us. This offends the modern cult of self-expression and the popular belief in the innate goodness of humanity.Tim Keller - The Message of Romans, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Striving to merit these blessings may seem innocuous enough, but such an approach to God is downright dangerous. Paul says this kind of self-righteousness actually nullifies God’s grace: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21). What’s being nullified here is our ability to experience God’s grace—the assurance that, based on the gospel alone, we receive all the above-mentioned blessings rather than the curse we justly deserve for our sin. Grace changes everything—now and forever! Its cost to God was infinite; its value to us is incalculable. So the thought that we could somehow forfeit the experience of that grace should make us shudder.
Paul implies that we nullify grace whenever we’re self-righteous toward God. Who needs the cross if we can justify ourselves before God and earn his blessings by obeying the law? Do you see how this approach treats Christ as if he died for no purpose? Self-righteousness is a gospel enemy because it disregards, devalues, and discredits the gospel provision of the righteousness of Christ—the sinless life he lived for us and the sin-bearing death he died for us. Self-righteousness turns grace on its head because it views the sinner as deserving God’s blessings rather than as undeserving.by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington
Monday, April 6, 2009
Martyn Lloyd-Jones on what the church is for:
The primary task of the Church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically.... I will go further; it is not even to make him good. These are things that accompany salvation; and when the Church performs her true task she does incidentally educate men and give them knowledge and information...she does make them good and better than they were. But my point is that those are not her primary objectives. Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God. (Preaching & Preachers, 30)
If you look at sunsets and sunrises without knowing that God is painting them then and there, you will miss the point. Sunsets and sunrises do not just happen. God does them.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. (Psalms 65:8)
What are they so happy about?
Psalm 19 gives the answer. They are happy because they are showing the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (v. 1).
How happy is the rising sun to display the glory of God? Answer: “In them [the heavens] God has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy” (Psalm 19:4-5).
A bridegroom beaming, and an Eric Liddell feeling God’s pleasure when he runs. Sunrises and sunsets are like that. They bid us join their joy in putting God on display in the world.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Malcolm Muggeridge, The End of Christendom, page 13.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
- C. S. Lewis