Friday, December 31, 2010

For all My Coffee Addicted Friends

Thing Called Love - Lyle Lovett & John Hyatt on Letterman

Billy Madison - Ultimate Insult (Academic Decathlon)

Where there is no encounter - Bonhoeffer

“Reflecting on the American church scene, [Bonhoeffer] was fascinated that tolerance trumped truth.  His analysis was remarkably similar to the report he wrote in the summer of 1931, trying to make sense of his year at Union:
‘I now often wonder whether it is true that America is the country without a reformation.  If reformation means the God-given knowledge of the failure of all ways of building up a kingdom of God on earth, then it is probably true. . . . The voice of Lutheranism is there in America, but it is one among others; it has never been able to confront the other denominations.  There hardly ever seem to be ‘encounters’ in this great country, in which one can always avoid the other.  But where there is no encounter, where liberty is the only unifying factor, one naturally knows nothing of the community which is created through encounter.’”
Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer (Nashville, 2010), pages 338-339.
On the one hand, community is destroyed by negative scrutiny of others, relishing reasons to criticize, looking down from a superior position.  On the other hand, community is diminished by cowardly avoidance of encounter.  And, as Bonhoeffer interestingly suggests, we Americans have enough space geographically and enough options ecclesiastically that we can avoid encounter if we choose to.  But God says, “You shall reason frankly with your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:17).
It is wrong to brutalize a brother.  It is also wrong to avoid a brother.  The way of Christ is to move toward one another, especially when we are tempted to move away – to move toward one another not in attack-mode but with frank reasoning, where real community can be created – or re-created.
Ray Ortlund

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Manic Depression

Played at Callahans Music Hall 2009, Auburn Hills, MI, USA

He lives at the right hand of God

That same Jesus who once died for sinners, still lives at the right hand of God, to carry on the work of salvation which He came down from heaven to perform.
He lives to receive all who come unto God by Him, and to give them power to become the sons of God.
He lives to hear the confession of every heavy-laden conscience, and to grant, as an almighty High Priest, perfect absolution.
He lives to pour down the Spirit of adoption on all who believe in Him, and to enable them to cry, Abba, Father!
He lives to be the one Mediator between God and man, the unwearied Intercessor, the kind Shepherd, the elder Brother, the prevailing Advocate, the never-failing Priest and Friend of all who come to God by Him.
He lives to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to all His people—to keep them in life, to support them in death, and to bring them finally to eternal glory.
— J. C. Ryle
Old Paths
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999)

Of First Importance


In the movie "Gimme Shelter" this song was playing as the Stones came out of the Holiday Inn in Florence. The footage was mixed out of sequence because the next thing you see is the trip BACK to Florence. Then they show the area around 3614 before moving inside the studio.Video Thumbnail: Legendary 3614 Jackson Highway Studio aka Muscle Shoals Sound in Sheffield, Al

Abortion Statistics - Separating Fact From Fiction

Resolutions and Grace

Jonathan Edwards, diary, January 2, 1723:
Dull. I find by experience, that let me make resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God: for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow; but should languish, and miserably fade away. . . .

It is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God; for if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next. . . . [Yet] all things shall work together for our good; not knowing in what way, indeed, but trusting in God.
The next weekend, grace broke through.
Saturday, January 12. In the morning I have this day solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was received into communion of the church.

I have been before God; and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God, so that I am not in any respect my own: I can challenge no right in myself, I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members: no right to this tongue, these hands, nor feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell or taste.

I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own. I have been to God this morning, and told him that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him; so that for the future I will challenge no right in myself, in any respect. I have expressly promised him, and do now promise almighty God, that by his grace I will not.

I have this morning told him, that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life. And did believe in Jesus Christ, and receive him as a prince and a Savior; and would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, how hazardous and difficult soever the profession and practice of it may be. . . .

This I have done.

And I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication; and to receive me now as entirely his own, and deal with me in all respects as such; whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth I am not to act in any respect as my own.
--Letters and Personal Writings, in Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 16, pp. 760, 762-63

'I have given myself clear away.'

Let's go there, by his grace, in 2011.
Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mississippi Fred McDowell - You gotta move

You got to move, You got to move
You got to move, child, You got to move
But when the Lord Gets ready
You got to move

The Power is not in Joseph’s Pants - Modern Indulgences in the Church

Near to the end of his life, Martin Luther lamented the fact that many people were growing tired of the Gospel and going back to the religious bondage of what they knew before the Reformation. This included pilgrimage (traveling to far off places in Europe) to see the relics of the Church in order to gain indulgences (which provide time off in purgatory after death).
The Roman Catholic Church boasted of having (amongst other things) pieces of the original cross of Christ, milk from the breasts of the virgin Mary as well as Joseph’s old pants… Wittenburg itself had an amazing assortment of these religious relics which were sanctioned by the Church to convey days, weeks, months, years, centuries and even millennia of time off in the place of purging, just by viewing them, the time being measured by the value and importance placed upon the relic.
By the way, these indulgences are still in force in the Roman Catholic Church. In Rome today there are what is known as the Scala Sancta (the sacred steps), which according to Church tradition are the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial. The stairs were, reputedly, brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th Century. Even today, plenary indulgence can be granted for climbing the stairs on the knees. Pius VII on 2 September 1817 granted those who ascend the stairs in the prescribed manner an indulgence of nine years for every step (there are 28 steps). Later on, Pius X, on 26 February 1908, granted a plenary indulgence to be gained as often as the stairs are devoutly ascended after confession and communion.
So much for Rome today then. Lets get back to Martin Luther. His last sermon made mention of these religious relics. Concerning this, Dr. R. C. Sproul writes:
[Luther] wondered, why is it that people are still spending their money on indulgences and on what Luther called the Pope’s second-hand junk? He said, the Pope is like a decoy duck, sitting on a pond with a great bag of tricks, seducing people with this nonsense. He wondered why it is that people ignore the Word of God and exchange it for Joseph’s pants…
What relevance does that have for us today? We don’t see the evangelical church of our day rushing to depositories of sacred relics. Nobody’s looking for Joseph’s pants. Rather we have invested our time, our energy, and our money in more contemporary ways to improve the gospel. We look to programs, to Madison Avenue methodologies, to entertainment, to pop psychology, even to the establishment of Starbucks in the church to improve the gospel. Why do we do this? I think people in the church today are looking for exactly what they were looking for in sixteenth-century Germany. They went to Trier, they went to Aachen, they went to these relics because they believed that the relics had power. Every pastor wants to have a powerful ministry. And so we look to the latest program, to the latest method to give us a powerful ministry, forgetting where the Lord God omnipotent has put the power in the first place.” Always Reformed, p. 190, a festschrift for Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
The power of God is not in Joseph’s pants. The power is in the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” – Romans 1:16
Effectual Grace

The Heavenly Wine Was Too Strong

Parkinson Milton, diary entry of October 26, 1874--
My soul was, at times, in a burning rapture, almost too ecstatic for this tabernacle. Again and again I repeated the words for which such as in the martyrs glowed, dying champions for their God. The truth is, I had to cease doing so, feeling that the heavenly wine was too strong for the earthly vessel. Oh, when mortality shall be swallowed up in life! I burn for Christ. This soul I offer, Christ, in flames to Thee, joy unspeakable and full of glory.
--quoted in Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms (Crossway, 2005), 129
HT:Dane Ortlund

Delta Moon - Hellbound Train

True Mitt

Seven Things That Francis Schaeffer Did for Evangelicalism

J. I. Packer:
First, with his flair for didactic communication he coined some new and pointed ways of expressing old thoughts (the “true truth” or revelation, the “mannishness” of human beings, the “upper story” and “lower story” of the divided Western mind, etc.).
Second, with his gift of empathy he listened to and dialogued with the modern secular world as it expressed itself in literature and art, which most evangelicals were too cocooned in their own subculture to do.
Third, he threw light on the things that today’s secularists take for granted by tracing them, however sketchily, to their source in the history of thought, a task for which few evangelicals outside the seminaries had the skill.
Fourth, he cherished a vivid sense of the ongoing historical process of which we are all part, and offered shrewd analysis of the Megatrends-Future Shock type concerning the likely effect of current Christian and secular developments.
Fifth, he felt, focused, and dwelt on the dignity and tragedy of sinful human beings rather than their grossness and nastiness.
Sixth, he linked the passion for orthodoxy with a life of love to others as the necessary expression of gospel truth, and censured the all-too-common unlovingness of front-line fighters for that truth, including the Presbyterian separatists with whom in the thirties he had thrown in his lot.
Seventh, he celebrated the wholeness of created reality under God, and stressed that the Christian life must be a corresponding whole—that is, a life in which truth, goodness, and beauty are valued together and sought with equal zeal. Having these emphases institutionally incarnated at L’Abri, his ministry understandably attracted attention. For it was intrinsically masterful, and it was also badly needed.
I love Packer’s description of Schaeffer:
He was physically small, with a bulging forehead, furrowed brow, and goatee beard. Alpine knee-breeches housed his American legs, his head sank into his shoulders, and his face bore a look of bright abstraction. Nothing special there, you would think; a serious, resolute man, no doubt, maybe a bit eccentric, but hardly unique on that account. When he spoke, his English though clear was not elegant, and his voice had no special charm; British ears found it harsh, and if stirred he would screech from the podium in a way that was hard to enjoy. Nevertheless, what he said was arresting, however he might look or sound while saying it. It had firmness, arguing vision; gentleness, arguing strength; simple clarity, arguing mental mastery; and compassion, arguing an honest and good heart. There was no guile in it, no party narrowness, no manipulation, only the passionate persuasiveness of the prophet who hurries in to share with others what he himself sees.
You can read the whole tribute: “No Little Person.”
HT:Justin Taylor

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Screamin'

Can We Finally Bury Al Gore's Fraud?

Timelapse of a Blizzard: 20 hours and 3 feet of snow in 40 seconds

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Strengthened by grace

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 2:1
“First, then, there is a call to be strong.  Timothy was weak; Timothy was timid.  Yet he was called to a position of leadership in the church – and in an area in which Paul’s authority was rejected.   It is as if Paul said to him, ‘Listen Timothy, never mind what other people say, never mind what other people think, never mind what other people do; you are to be strong.  Never mind how shy you feel, never mind how weak you feel; you are to be strong.’  That is the first thing.
Second, you are to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  If the exhortation had simply been ‘be strong,’ it would have been absurd indeed.  You might as well tell a snail to be quick or a horse to fly as to tell a weak man to be strong or a shy man to be brave.  But Paul’s calling Timothy to fortitude is a Christian and not a stoical exhortation.  Timothy was not to be strong in himself.  He was not just to grit his teeth and clench his fists and set his jaw.  No, he was, as the Greek literally means, to be strengthened with the grace that is in Christ Jesus, to find his resources for Christian service not in his own nature but in the grace of Jesus Christ.”
John Stott, Urbana 1967.  Italics original.
Grace is not an excuse for weakness; it is an endless resource for strength.
HT: Justin Taylor.

Much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God

Hope for each of us, and a call to fresh total surrender to God:
Consider the mighty ways in which God used a dead stick of wood. 'God so used a stick of wood' can be a banner cry for each of us. Though we are limited and weak in talent, physical energy, and psychological strength, we are not less than a stick of wood. But as the rod of Moses had to become the rod of God, so that which is me must become the me of God. Then I can become useful in God's hands. The Scripture emphasizes that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God. There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people.
--Francis Schaeffer, No Little People (Crossway, 2003), 25
HT:Dane Ortlund

Monday, December 27, 2010

Twelve Misconceptions about Calvinism

1. Calvinism is not system of theology that denies God’s universal love.
While there are some Calvinists who do deny God’s universal love for all man, this is certainly not a necessary or a central tenet of Calvinism. Calvinists do, however, believe that God has a particular type of love for the elect (an “electing love”), but most also believe that God loves all people (John 3:16). It is a mystery to Calvinist as to why he does not elect everyone. (More on this here.)
2. Calvinism is not a belief that God creates people in order to send them to hell.
Again, this is not representative of normative Calvinists. While supralapsarians do believe that God creates people to send them to hell, the majority of Calvinists are not supralapsarians. (More on this here.)
3. Calvinism is not belief that God is the author of evil.
Because of Calvinism’s high view of God’s sovereignty, many mistakenly believe that Calvinists hold God responsible for sin and evil. This is not true. There are very few Calvinists who believe that God is the author of evil. Most Calvinists believe that to ascribe responsibility for evil to God is heretical.
As John Calvin put it:
“. . . the Lord had declared that “everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good” [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination. [Institutes, 3:23:8]”
4. Calvinism is not a belief in fatalism.
A fatalistic worldview is one in which all things are left to fate, chance, and a series of causes and effects that has no intelligent guide or ultimate cause. Calvinism believes that God (not fate) is in control, though Calvinists differ about how meticulous this control is.
5. Calvinism is not a denial of freedom.
Calvinists to do not believe that people are robots or puppets on strings. Calvinists believe in freedom and, properly defined, free will. While Calvinists believe that God is ultimately in control of everything, most are compatibalists, believing that he works in and with human freedom (limited though it may be). Calvinists believe in human responsibility at the same time as holding to a high view of God’s providential sovereignty. (More on this here.)
6. Calvinism is not s belief that God forces people to become Christians against their will.
Calvinists believe in what is called “irresistible grace.” This might not be the best name for it since it does not really communicate what is involved. Calvinists believe that people are dead in the sin (Eph 2:1), haters of God, with no ability to seek him in their natural state (Rom 3:11; John 6:44; 1 Cor 2:14). Since this is the case, God must first regenerate them so that they can have faith. Once regenerate, people do not need to be forced to accept God, but this is a natural reaction—a willing reaction—of one who has been born again and, for the first time, recognizes the beauty of God.
7. Calvinism is not a belief that you should only evangelize the elect.
No one knows who the elect are. I suppose that if there was a way to find out, both Calvinist and Arminians (the other primary option to Calvinism) would only evangelize the elect (since Arminians also believe only the elect will be saved even though they understand election differently). Since we don’t know, it is our duty to evangelize all people and nations. Some of the greatest evangelists in the history of Christianity, such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, have held to the doctrine of unconditional election.
8. Calvinism is not a belief that God arbitrarily chooses people to be saved.
Calvinists believe that God elects some people to salvation and not others and that this election is not based on anything present or foreseen, righteous or unrighteous, in the individual, but upon his sovereign choice. But this does not mean that the choice is arbitrary, as if God is flipping a coin to see who is  saved and who is not. Calvinists believe that God has his reasons, but they are in his mysterious secret will.
9. Calvinism is not a system of thought that follows a man, John Calvin.
While Calvinists obviously respect John Calvin, they simply believe that he correctly understood and systematized some very important Apostolic teachings concerning election, man’s condition, and God’s sovereignty. However, much of this understanding did not originate with John Calvin, but can be seen in many throughout church history such as Aquinas, Anselm, and Augustine. Ultimately, Calvinists will argue, they follow rightly interpreted Scripture.
10. Calvinism is not a system that has to ignore or reinterpret passages of Scripture concerning human responsibility.
Calvinists believe that all people are responsible to do what is right, even though, as fallen children of Adam, they lack ability to do what is right (in a transcendent sense; see below) without God’s regenerating grace. Therefore, God’s call and commands apply to all people and all people are responsible for their rejection and rebellion.
11. Calvinists do not believe that no one can do any good thing at all.
Calvinists believe in what is called “total depravity” (so do Arminians). However, total depravity does not mean that people cannot ever do anything good. Calvinists believe that unregenerate people can do many good things and sometimes even act better than Christians. But when it comes to people’s disposition toward God and their acknowledgment of him for their abilities, gifts, and future, they deny him and therefore taint all that they are and do. An unbeliever, for example, can love and care for their children just as a believer can. In and of itself this is a very good thing. However, in relation to God this finds no eternal or transcendent favor since they are at enmity with him, the Giver of all things. Therefore, it might be said, while all people can do good, only the regenerate can do transcendent good.
12. Calvinists do not necessarily believe that God predestines (wills) everything, including the color of socks I chose this morning.
There is a spectrum to belief about God’s sovereignty in Calvinism. The one thing that unites all Calvinists is their belief in God’s sovereign choice to elect some people to salvation and not others. However, Calvinists differ concerning God’s involvement in other areas (for more on this, see here). Some Calvinists believe in what might be called “meticulous sovereignty”, where God has not only predestined people to salvation, but also he has predestined everything that occurs. As the old saying goes: “There is not a maverick molecule in the universe.” However, most Calvinists believe in what might be called “providential sovereignty.” Here, Calvinists would distinguish between God’s permissive will and his sovereign will. In his permissive will, many things happen that he permits, but is not necessarily bringing about as the first cause. In his sovereign will, many things happen because of his direct intervention (for more on this, see here).

O Come, Let Us Adore Him

Rudolph's Revenge

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - I Got My Mojo Working

That's Sam Lay standing between Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop right in the middle. Sam sings this song and demonstrates why he is the greatest shuffle drummer, turn this up and listen to the drums especially during the solos.

True Self-Sacrifice

Let this mind be in you . . .' --Phil 2:5

Warfield on Phil 2:5-11:
We need to note carefully . . . that it is not self-depreciation, but self-abnegation, that is thus commended to us. If we would follow Christ, we must, every one of us, not in pride but in humility, yet not in lowness but in lowliness, not degrade ourselves but forget ourselves, and seek every man not his own things but those of others. . . .

We cannot be self-consciously self-forgetful, selfishly unselfish. Only, when we humbly walk this path, seeking truly in it not our own things but those of others, we shall find the promise true, that he who loses his life shall find it. Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: 'Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.'

The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory.
--B. B. Warfield, 'Imitating the Incarnation,' pp. 6, 8

Isn't this, in essence, exactly what Paul was commending Timothy and Epaphroditus for in the latter half of Philippians 2?

God get us there.
HT:Dane Ortlund

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tom Jones - Did Trouble Me

My Lord will trouble me, to keep me on the path I belong

Bono on Christmas

I love this quote from Bono:

“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw a child I just thought: Wow! Just the poetry Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this."
(HT: Jonathan Dodson)

Another Reason I Am Confident Salvation Is Secure

"I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

his is one of the most basic truths of Christianity: Salvation is not a work the sinner does for God; it is a work God does for the sinner. Ephesians 2:10: "We are his workmanship."

Even the good works we do as Christians are the result of God's work in us. Those good works are not accomplished by our own willpower or initiative. Ephesians 2:10 continues thussly: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

If God foreordained even the good works we do, and since He is the one who empowers us both to will and to do them (Philippians 2:13), then salvation is truly all God's work.

And He always finishes what He starts. That's the point of the verse at the top of this post.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What if the Christmas story is true?

Suppose what some call the "Christmas story" is true -- all of it, from the angels, to the shepherds, to the virgin birth, to God taking on human flesh. By this, I don't mean to suggest it is true only for those who believe it to be true, but what if it is objectively true, no matter what the deniers say? What difference would it make? Should it make any difference?
The narrative and the quotations written by the physician named Luke and by John, the closest disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, are unique and exclusive. The genealogical line of Jesus compiled by Matthew the tax collector is impressive and compelling.
The words spoken by Jesus and recorded by these men are phenomenal. They expose the inner darkness of Man, offering a road map out, while also revealing the light of God, offering directions into His presence.
The information provided by witnesses to these events are either true, or not. The claims leave no room for middle ground, despite what some "theologians" claim.
If they are not true, one must conclude "the greatest story ever told" was the result of the greatest conspiracy in history from which not a single "conspirator" later recanted. The One who spoke such heartwarming words, as C.S. Lewis has noted, was either a liar, a fool, or he told the truth. There are no other options.
The "conspiracy" would have to have stretched over thousands of years, from the time of the Prophets to the modern era when millions continue to claim their lives have been transformed by this carpenter with no formal training, no college degree and no influence with the reigning religious and secular authorities of His day.
Among other things skeptics have to contend with is why would so many people claim the story is true, including what would occur at the end of Jesus' life on Earth, when they had nothing to gain in this life by promoting a lie?
In fact, they invited persecution from the religious authorities, along with imprisonment and death from the Roman rulers, who treated any perceived or actual challenge to Caesar as a capital offense.
Of course the story is fantastic. But who would want to follow a God that can be defined and understood by human logic?
Such a God would not be worth knowing because He would be created in our image.
I suspect even those who don't believe the story secretly wish it were true. Who, or what else, offers the hope, cleansing and purpose for this life -- as well as eternal life -- like that presented by this child-man-God?
In an age when love means lust and is too often conditional, this story offers a love that is personal, redemptive and unconditional. Christmas is the great story of God becoming human in order that humans might dwell with Him.
It is about the helper helping those who cannot help themselves no matter how hard they try.
It is a gift better than anything the fictional Santa Claus could give. And it is a gift that keeps on giving into eternity, never losing its value, unlike stock portfolios.
Come on, what have you got to lose -- only everything -- by considering this greatest of all stories? Maybe you believed the story as a child, but with maturity came skepticism and later unbelief.
Try reading it again as an adult. It truly is the ultimate gift and it has your (and my) name on it.
It fits all who try it on and has the additional benefit of having been paid for by someone else. This gift never wears out.
Once accepted, it so satisfies that people rarely return it. For what could it be exchanged?
Can anyone name a better gift that has produced more positive and welcome results around the world for more than 2,000 years?
by Cal Thomas

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Tom Jones - What Good Am I

Jones does a good job on a great Bob Dylan song from his Album "Praise and Blame"

Lets Let the Morons At The FCC Run Things

Jesus "the Christ"

The angel told Joseph (and earlier Mary): "[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
The angel declared to the shepherds: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Jesus "the Christ" is the righteousness of God that God requires- -and amazingly provides for sinners to receive by faith.
Jesus simply means "YHWH is Salvation"; his name is JESUS because he will save his people from their sins.
"Christ" is not Jesus' last name (it would have likely been "Ben Joseph"). "Christ" is Greek for the Hebrew "Messiah". "Christ" means "Anointed One"; which means that Jesus Christ is our Savior from sins and our Anointed One.
The name and title “JESUS THE CHRIST” teaches us what we need to know about God this Christmas!
In the name JESUS we find salvation hope from our self and sin.
In the title CHRIST we find sanctification and empowerment over our enslavement to self and sin.
“JESUS” - the Name
In the Name JESUS we find One who would obey God perfectly, loving God and neighbor as Himself, perfectly on our behalf.
Jesus is not merely a helper, an assistant, or a life-coach; Jesus is a Savior from sin.
In our flesh as "Immanuel" (God with us), Jesus would earn perfect righteousness for us by keeping God's commandments perfectly. Jesus would die in our flesh for our transgressions on the cross; Jesus would be raised from the dead and seated at God's right hand in our flesh for us.
This is all that the name "JESUS" should mean for us: Perfect righteousness that is revealed in the Law of God, but perfect righteousness under the Law in our flesh imputed to all who believe.
Double imputation is (still!) something to rejoice about!
What does that loaded theological term mean?
Our sins are imputed to the man Jesus; His righteousness is imputed to us by faith. “Double Imputation” is term worth memorizing.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (a glorious verse!) teaches us about Double Imputation:
"For our sake he made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Note: 1) For our sake. For whom? All who believe; all who are new creations by faith (see 2 Cor. 5 larger context); 2) Jesus knew no sin, he was perfectly righteous, but we was "made sin" for us. Our sins were placed upon Him and He bore the penalty of death and the wrath of God for us; and 3) In Jesus, in our union with Jesus by faith, we might become the righteousness of God; we might stand before God clothed in a righteousness not our own.
JESUS- -the name above all names- -that causes rejoicing because we find in him a righteousness that God requires and provides for us- -outside of us- -without our help.
“THE CHRIST’ - the Title
Jesus is "THE CHRIST". Jesus' name brings us hope, but also his title: "The Christ"
As "Anointed One" or "Christ" Jesus can make us holy.
As "Anointed One" or "The Christ" Jesus can not only provide the righteousness before God that will justify us, or declare us "not guilty" nor condemned (Rom. 8:31), but the righteousness and power by the Spirit that will sanctify us or make us holy.
In Jesus, by faith in Jesus "the Christ" our "Anointed One" we can have union with Him, become like Him, and become empowered no longer to live for self but to live for Jesus who lived and died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15: "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." - ESV
In other words, in Jesus the Christ, in the Gospel of Jesus' birth, we have all we need for life and godliness in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
What the angels declared to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds was the Gospel of JESUS THE CHRIST.
When Simeon, an Old Covenant saint who had been awaiting the comfort-consolation-salvation of Israel for many years, sees Jesus the Christ, he says that his eyes have seen God's salvation (Luke 2:25-35).
Simeon does not merely see help to attain God's salvation; Simeon beholds his substitute Lamb who takes away his sins and the sins of the world!
Simeon does not merely see one who came to tell us about salvation; Simeon SEES the Lord's salvation 'IN FLESH'--the embodiment of God's salvation.
This means that the salvation of God is a PERSON! If you’re looking for salvation, he is found in Jesus the Christ.
God's hope, God's salvation, God's redemption, God's comfort-consolation to all who believe is a Person- -the Person Jesus Christ.
Our hope, our salvation, our redemption, our comfort-consolation is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ.
Why is he JESUS? Because He will save His people from their sins and provide the righteousness God requires of all mankind.
Why is he CHRIST or ANOINTED ONE? Because He will save His people from their slavery to sin, and empower them to live godly lives in this present age, as he continues to sanctify his people from their sins and make them like him!
In the Name JESUS the CHRIST you have the Gospel. Receive the Gospel good news through him- -if not the for the first time- -then again (because we so easily forget it!).
In the Person and Work of Jesus we have the Gospel good news revealed- -but even in His name we get the Gospel!
Amazing grace- -found even in Jesus' Name and Title!
Yet the default mode of the human heart is works righteousness; all mankind is seeking to achieve a righteousness NOT by faith, but through their own works, sacrifices, gifts, and pleas before God.
We avoid realizing the great Gospel truth revealed in the Name (and especially the Person and Work) of JESUS THE CHRIST.
Our default mode is not to believe the Gospel; not to rest in the finished work of Christ for us. The Apostle Paul writes of the default mode in his description of unbelieving folks in Israel in Romans 10:
ESV Romans 10:2-3: I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
Notice a few things from Romans 10: Lots of people are religious; they have a zeal for God. You ask them "Are you religious?" They respond with a resounding "YES!"
But whether religious or irreligious, both kinds of folks are seeking to avoid the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. A religious "Legalist" wants rules and "dos and don'ts" to tell them how to be righteous while avoiding the Person of Jesus; the irreligious "Liberal" wants just to be vaguely loving while avoiding the Person of Jesus.
Both the religious and the irreligious have one thing in common (Romans 10:3): "Being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."
There is an ignorance in both religious folks who are using the Bible to be righteous, and those avoiding the Bible altogether.
They are both, whether religious or irreligious, seeking to establish their own righteousness before God and man.
And they are failing; they are continuing to fall short of the glory of God and His righteous requirements found in the law (Rom. 3:23ff).
Our default mode is to believe we can work real hard seeking to please God and in the end he will save us, but we have yet to realize the depth of our sins, the great holiness of God, and that God requires perfection that no man can offer to him.
Only Jesus has been and is perfect; only Jesus could live perfectly loving God and His neighbor as himself; let us not nullify the grace of God found in what He has done; let us rather believe, and rest in this hope found in him, and quit striving after perfection that will never be attained.
When we believe, we are united to Jesus Christ by His Spirit.
In our union with Jesus, we have both the righteousness that God requires and the sanctifying grace that makes us more like him daily as we live a life of constant repentance and reception of his grace!
We find the Gospel hope that we so desperately need in JESUS who sheds his blood for us and gives us his righteousness, AND in THE CHRIST who empowers us in our union with Christ so that we can become like him in His holiness and love.
Our only hope.
Do you need salvation? Let your eyes behold by faith the salvation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Do you need to know you're righteous before God? Let your eyes behold by faith the righteousness that God provides for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Do you need to grow in righteousness before God, becoming more like Jesus? Let your eyes behold by faith the sanctifying power and grace for us found in the Person of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus: Savior of sinners.
The Christ: Sanctifying of sinners.
All that we need.
1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. - ESV
Love in Christ,
Pastor Biggs
Reformation Theology

Wexford Carol - Yo Yo Ma & Allison Krauss

The 12th century Wexford Carol:

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tom Jones - Strange Things

The Real Grinch

'Violent, Tortured and Abysmal Shouts & Groans'

Terrific article in Texas Monthly about Blind Willie Johnson's music and faith
When NASA launched the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft in 1977 on a mission to gather information from the planets, and even beyond our solar system, they included some information about Earthlings -- just in case any intelligent life out there intercepted the craft(s).
A recording included some 90 minutes of music from around the world, including a Cavatina from Beethoven as the concluding piece. The next-to-last piece was Blind Willie Johnson's “Dark Was the Night—Cold Was the Ground,” which a marvelous article in TexasMonthly describes like this:
"[It's] a largely wordless hymn built around the yearning cries of Johnson’s slide guitar and the moans and melodies of his voice. The two musical elements track each other, finishing each other’s phrases; Johnson hums fragments of the diffuse melody, then answers with the fluttering sighs of steel or glass moving over the strings. Sometimes the guitar jimmies a low, ascending melody that sounds like a man trying to climb out of a mud hole. Then the guitar goes up high, playing an inquisitive, hopeful line, and the voice goes high too, copying the melody. There’s no meter or rhythm. In fact, 'Dark Was the Night' sounds less like a song than a scene—the Passion of Jesus, his suffering on the cross, the ultimate pairing of despair and belief. The original melody and lyrics (“Dark was the night and cold was the ground, on which the Lord was laid”) may have originated in eighteenth-century England, but Johnson reinvented them. Occasionally his slide clicks against the neck of the guitar, and you remember that this was just a man playing a song in front of a microphone. You can hear the air in the room. You can hear the longing in his voice. This is what it sounds like to be a human being.

"The slide guitarist and producer Ry Cooder, who used 'Dark Was the Night' as the motif for his melancholy sound track to Paris, Texas, once called the song “the most transcendent piece in all American music.” In about 60,000 years, one of the Voyagers just might enter another solar system. Maybe it will be intercepted. Maybe the interceptors will figure out how to play that record. Maybe they’ll hear 'Dark Was the Night.' Maybe they’ll wonder, What kind of creature made that music?"
It's a fascinating profile about a great American musician who was "an utter mystery" because very little has ever been written about him. The Bookman, a New York literary review, once wrote that Johnson was Johnson was “apparently a religious fanatic,” also noting his “violent, tortured and abysmal shouts and groans and his inspired guitar.”  Christianity Today entertainment
Check out the whole story here, and listen to "Dark Was the Night"   below

Schulz Wanted Bible in Charlie Brown Christmas

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz said of holiday special, 'If we don't do it, who will?' Lee Mendelson, producer of the beloved holiday special "A Charlie Brown Christmas," says the late Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comics strip, insisted that the program had to be about the true meaning of Christmas. Otherwise, Schulz said, "Why bother doing it?"
That's part of the story behind the TV special in a recent Washington Post article. When asked if he was sure he wanted to include biblical text in the special, Schulz responded, "If we don't do it, who will?"
Coca-Cola, which had signed on as corporate sponsor, never balked at the idea of including New Testament passages, which Linus reads aloud (from the book of Luke) in what Mendelson calls "the most magical two minutes in all of TV animation." Read the whole fascinating story here, and check out Linus's famous soliloquy below.

“There’s only pain. God is here . . .”

“Bruchko,” he said, “my body hurts.  I hurt everywhere.”  “Shh,” I said.  “You need to be quiet.  We want you to be well.  We want you to be strong.”  He shook his head, barely moving it.  “No, Bruchko.  I’m not well and I’m not strong.  I have closed my eyes.”  His eyes did close, and he slipped off.  I stayed near him.  Later he opened his eyes again.
“Bruchko, I heard a voice like the spirits that talk when they try to kill you.”  I nodded.  “But this voice called me by my secret name, by my real name.  No one alive knows my real name, but this spirit called me by my real name.  So I called to it and said, ‘Who are you?’ and it said, ‘I am Jesus, who has walked with you on the trail.’ . . . So I told Jesus that I hurt all over, from my head to my toes.  And Jesus said that he wants me to come home.”  His breath was coming with difficulty.
“Help me, brother!” he whispered, looking at me.  “Help me!”  Then he turned his eyes away.  “But you can’t,” he said.  “I’ve been embraced by death.  I’m leaving, Bruchko.  I’m leaving.  I can’t see.  There’s only pain.  God is here, and he wants to take me on the path we couldn’t ever find on our hunts, the path that goes beyond the horizon to his home.”  Then he smiled, and his face looked for a moment like the one I knew.  “Not alone,” he said.  “Not alone.  I won’t walk it by myself.  There’s a Friend who wants to take me.  And he knows my name, my real name.”
Then his body sagged.  He clutched my hand, and his fingers gradually went limp.  I set his hand down beside his body and walked out of the home.
Bruce Olson, Bruchko (Orlando, 1995), pages 174-175.
Not either/or, either pain or God.  But both/and, both pain and God.
So be it, for the glorious display of his strength in our weakness.
Ray Ortlund

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

True Grit -The Coens make their first Western — and it's one of the best movies of their career.

True enough: The 2010 movie True Grit—film No. 15 for the Coen Brothers—bears certain resemblance to the 1969 film of the same title, which starred John Wayne and featured some campy singing from Glen Campbell. The new one doesn't have any singing, but it's hard to miss a few parallels. The plot's almost the same as the original. And the character names.
But the Coens insist it's not a remake, and in fact, they haven't seen The Duke's movie since they were kids. It is, rather, a more faithful adaptation of the classic American novel by Charles Portis, which provided a slightly looser basis for the 1969 film. Not everyone quite buys it, but if you see this new version, you'll be convinced that the Coens are as steadfastly true as ever to their own spirit—and the relationship of the original to this one is simply an interesting historical footnote.
Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn
The 2010 version really is a more faithful adaptation of the Portis novel—much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the book—and yet it still plays out like the quintessential Coen Brothers. There's a lot of deadpan humor, interspersed with outbursts of violence, and as the bodies stack higher the humor becomes blacker, and more ridiculous. The characters speak in a slightly exaggerated dialect that isn't based on any particular land or geographic locale, but rather takes joy in the sheer sound of the words and rhythmic poetry of the backwoods cadence. And though this is arguably the first true Western for the Coens, the formal similarities—to movies like No Country for Old Men and even The Big Lebowski—are difficult to miss.
Here is a girl who has been forced to grow up too fast. More than once we see her literally sleeping with death surrounding her—she spends a night in a funeral home, sleeping in a coffin with corpses all around, and later she spends the night in a house where there's just been a gunfight, and the bodies are still warm as they lay out on the front porch—but her attitude toward it is dispassionate. It's just part of her life and her world.

So she heads into town, her father's death still fresh on her mind, and seeks to put his affairs in order. When some townspeople try to take advantage of her youth, she informs them in no uncertain terms of her legal rights and the lengths she will go to to see justice served, and she comes out the victor in every one of her run-ins. She wields the law like a sword, unhesitant to sick her attorney on people or turn to the courts for aid when it suits her needs. But we know that, for Mattie, the law is just a means to an end; she is not out for justice, but vengeance, and though she learns that the man who killed her father is wanted in another state for another crime, seeing him brought to justice under those circumstances isn't enough. He must pay for the crimes he committed against the Ross family particularly, or else she simply doesn't care.

So she turns to a gruff, unkempt drunkard of a man named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). We first see him in a court room and later learn that when he was a younger man he studied law, ultimately deciding it just wasn't for him; like Mattie, he sees the wheels of justice as useful means to an end, but he is unable to actually keep the law in his own life, and so he operates outside it. She deems his unorthodox methods to be a better match for her purposes, and so the two of them set out to find the man who shot her papa.
What might need to be said is this: For all its pleasures, there is a sort of lingering melancholy that makes the movie stay with you. In the theater, I thought it was a zany Coen comedy along the lines of Raising Arizona or Lebowski, but as I reflected on it later I realized it to be a much sadder and wiser film than it initially seems. It's a movie about death, and about justice and revenge. It's also a movie about manhood, as seen through the eyes of a young girl whose only examples of manhood are limited and flawed. (Aren't we all?) We see these men through her eyes, and we see how it shapes her into the woman she becomes. In some ways, the way all this plays out is a little bit subversive for a Western; of course, it's also about as pure and unironic a genre picture as these filmmakers have yet made. In other words, typical Coen Brothers.

'Natural Forces' by Lyle Lovett on Q TV

Just Like The Federal Government

Santa as Christian Boogeyman

Driving around yesterday listening to Christmas music I actually listened closely to the lyrics of a song I've heard for years: "Here Comes Santa Claus." This little ditty includes lines like:
"Get in bed and cover your head, for Santa Claus is coming tonight."
"Say your prayers because Santa Claus comes tonight."

Does this strike anyone else as more than a little creepy? Is this jolly Saint Nick we're talking about here, or an axe murderer?

That got me thinking about the real Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 300's. Aside from his reputed generosity, history tells us he was a staunch defender of Christian orthodoxy, especially the article of the Trinity. Arius was the heretic du jour then, arguing that the Son was not equal to the Father. Legend has it that Nicholas was quite agitated by this. So agitated was he, that one tale has it that Nicholas went to the ecumenical Council of Nicea and was so incensed by Arius' assault on the trinitarian nature of God he crossed the room and slapped him in the face. (This is apocryphal, of course. There are pretty decent records of the Nicean Council and none of them indicate this happening.)

But this gets me thinking. If we're going to make Santa Claus into some kind of boogeyman, instead of telling kids they should be good or Santa won't bring them presents, why don't we tell them they should watch their doctrine closely or Santa will punch them in the face?

I'm going to run this by Driscoll and see if this duding up of Santa qualifies as redeeming him. ;-)
Jared Wilson

Reformation and Revival

Francis Schaeffer:
Often men have acted as though one has to choose between reformation and revival.

Some call for reformation, others for revival, and they tend to look at each other with suspicion. But reformation and revival do not stand in contrast with one another; in fact, both words are related to the concept of restoration. Reformation speaks of a restoration to pure doctrine, revival of a restoration in the Christian's life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture, revival of a life brought into proper relationship to the Holy Spirit. The great moments in church history have come when these two restorations have occurred simultaneously. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation, and reformation is not complete without revival.

May we be those of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world in which we live may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and a Spirit-filled life.
--No Little People (Crossway, 2003), 74

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. --Acts 13:52
Dane Ortlund

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Willie Nelson and Norah Jones - Baby It's Cold Outside

Tom Jones - Burning Hell (Live on Letterman 09-22-2010)

Congress - People Who Really Don't Care for The Average Person

Presuming on Grace

R. C. Sproul, reflecting on Luke 13:1-9:
I wonder if we really are amazed by grace? I think we express more amazement at God's wrath than at His mercy. We've come to the place, I think, in our religious thinking where we assume that God will be merciful, that God will be kind, that God will be gracious, and so we're not surprised whenever we experience His kindness. . . .

One of my favorite illustrations about the dilemma that we face with respect to understanding God's mercy goes back to the early days of my career as a teacher in college and seminary. One of my first teaching assignments was to teach 250 freshmen a required course on "Introduction to the Old Testament." Here I had 250 students assembled in a large lecture hall, very uncomfortable, trying to communicate with so many students at one time. I had to print up in advance the requirements for the course because I'd already learned, very quickly, that college students are all budding Philadelphia lawyers. You have to "dot your i's and cross your t's" to make sure that the assignments are clearly set forth. I gave them a published syllabus and told them what their requirements would be. I said, "We have three very small papers, book report type things, that are required during this semester. The first one is due at noon on September 30, the on second October 30, and the third on November 30. Now here's the way it goes: I want these finished, on my desk at 12:00 noon on the appointed times unless you are physically confined to the hospital or the infirmary or there is a death in the immediate family." We had to spell out all this sort of thing for the college students. I said, "Does everybody understand the assignment?" They said, "Oh, yes indeed."

So, September 30 came around and 225 of my students brought their papers in and presented them dutifully at the proper time. 25 of these poor souls had failed to complete their assignments and they were scared to death. These were freshmen, just making the transition from high school and they were in a posture of abject humility. They said, "Oh Professor Sproul, please don't give us an 'F' for this grade." I had told them that if they didn't get their paper in on time they would get an "F" for that assignment. They said, "Please give us some more time, give us one more chance." They were begging me for grace, for mercy. They wanted an extension. I said, "Okay, I'll give you an extension. But don't let it happen again. Remember the next assignment is October 30. I want those papers on time." They said, "Absolutely. They will be there."

October 30 came around. 200 of my students came and put their term papers on my desk. 50 of them were now assembled outside in terror because they hadn't planned their time properly, and were not prepared. So once again these students came to me pleading. They said, "Oh Professor, we didn't budget our time properly. It's mid-term, we have so many assignments all coming in at the same time, so many pressures, it's Homecoming. Please give us just one more chance." They begged me with earnest faces and I was a soft-hearted guy and I said, "Okay, okay. I'll give you one more chance, but don't let it happen again." You know what they did? They began to sing spontaneously, "We love you Prof. Sproul, oh yes we do." So I was the most popular professor in the school for 30 days.

But 30 days later the third paper came due. This time 150 students came into the classroom with their papers prepared and the other 100 came in as casual, as cavalier, as you can imagine. They didn't have their papers, they weren't worried in the slightest, and I said to them, "Where are you term papers?" They said, "Hey Prof, don't worry about it. We'll have it for you in a couple of days, no sweat." I stopped them right there in their tracks and I took out that dreadful little black book and I took out my pen and I said, "Johnson, where's your term paper?" He said, "I don't have it Professor." So I wrote an "F" in the book. "Greenwood, where's your paper?" "I don't have it, sir." I put "F" in the book. What do you think was the response of those students? Unmitigated fury. In one voice they called out, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

I said, "What was that? Johnson, did I just hear you say that's not fair?" He said, "Yes, that's not fair." He was furious. I said, "Okay. I don't ever want to be thought of as being unfair or unjust. Johnson, it's justice that you want?" He said, "Yes!" I said, "Okay, if I recall, you were late the last time, weren't you?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Okay. I'll go back and change that grade to an 'F'." So I erased his passing grade and gave him an "F." I said, "Is there anybody else that wants justice?" Nobody wanted justice. Do you see what has happened here? The first time they were pleading with me in utter, pathetic humility, and I said sure. The second time they begged. By the third time, not only did they begin to assume mercy, but they began to demand it. They assumed now that I was obligated to be gracious to them.

Friends, that's what we do with God.
HT:Dane Ortlund

Don't Thingamatize Christmas

The danger in the seasonal celebration is that we cave to sentimentality and rote nostalgia and thus forget that the meek and mild baby in a manger was nothing short of the opening salvo in the kingdom of heaven revolution consisting in God personally invading earth.

We will toss around words this month like "spirit," "grace," "peace," and "hope." The Bible will not let us have these ideas merely as ideas, as things. They are personal. Thus: "He himself is our peace" (Micah 5:5; Eph. 2:14) and "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Let's not mess with ethereal virtues, no matter how Christianly gauzed. Leave ethereal virtues to vague saviors. Our Savior is incarnate!

Sinclair Ferguson brings it home:
[R]emember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.
Don't thingamatize Christmas. Take it personally.
HT:Jared Wilson

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Allman Brothers Band - Southbound

Very Funny Christmas Skit - Carol Burnett Show- Merry Christmas Mama

Cyndi Lauper- Shattered Dreams - From The Memphis Blues Album

The Simpson Congress

The Wrath of God

Mark Twain, after reading Jonathan Edwards:
Edwards' God shines red and hideous in the glow from the fires of hell, their only right and proper adornment. By God, I was ashamed to be in such company. (quoted by Gerald McDermott here)
The Bible:
'As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.' (Ezek 22:20-22)
Mark Twain should have seen where his real problem lay.
HT;Dane Ortlund

Christmas as the End of History

John Piper (1981):
Creation out of nothing was an awesome event. Imagine what the angelic spirits must have felt when the universe, material reality of which they had never imagined, was brought forth out of nothing by the command of God.
The fall was an awful event, shaking the entire creation.
The exodus was an amazing display of God’s power and love.
The giving of the law, the wilderness provisions, the conquering of Canaan, the prosperity of the monarchy—all these acts of God in redemptive history were very great and wonderful. Each one was a very significant bend in the river of redemptive history, bringing it ever and ever closer to the ocean of God’s final kingdom.
But we trivialize Christmas, the incarnation, if we treat it as just another bend on the way to the end. It is the end of redemptive history.
And I think the analogy of the river helps us see how.
Picture the river as redemptive history flowing toward the ocean which is the final kingdom of God, full of glory and righteousness and peace. At the end of the river the ocean presses up into the river with its salt water. Therefore, at the mouth of the river there is a mingling of fresh water and salt water. One might say that the kingdom of God has pressed its way back up into the river of time a short way. It has surprised the travelers and taken them off guard. They can smell the salt water. They can taste the salt water. The sea gulls circle the deck. The end has come upon them.
Christmas is not another bend in the river. It is the arrival of the salt water of the kingdom of God which has backed up into the river of history. With the coming of Christmas, the ocean of the age to come has reached backward up the stream of history to welcome us, to wake us up to what is coming, to lure us on into the deep.
Christmas is not another bend in the river of history. It is the end of the river. Let down your dipper and taste of Jesus Christ, his birth and life and death and resurrection. Taste and see if the age to come has not arrived, if the kingdom has not come upon us. Does it not make your eyes sparkle?
Justin Taylor