Friday, April 30, 2010

Delbert McClinton - Giving It Up For Your Love

Fighting The Bleak Bog Of Despair

MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS HAVE SUNG the words as a chorus. Millions more have meditated on them in their own quiet reading of Scripture: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”(Ps. 42:1).
It is a haunting image. One pictures the buck or the doe, descending through the forest’s perimeter in the half-light of dusk, to slake the thirst of a hot day in the cool waters of a crystal stream. When Christians have applied the image to themselves, they have conjured up a plethora of diverse personal circumstances: semi-mystical longings for a feeling of the transcendent, courageous God-centeredness that flies in the face of cultural opposition, a lonely longing for a sense of God’s presence when the heavens seem as bronze, a placid contentment with our own religious experience, and more.
But whatever the possible applications of this haunting image, the situation of the deer — and of the psalmist, too, as we shall see — is full of enormous stress. The deer is not sidling up to the stream for the regular supply of refreshment; it is panting for water. The metrical psalter adds the words, “when heated by the chase”; but there is no hint of that here, and the application the psalmist makes would fit less well than another possibility. The psalmist is thinking of a deer panting for refreshing streams of water during a season of drought and famine (as in Joel 1:20). In the same way, he is hungry for the Lord, famished for the presence of God, and in particular hungry to be back in Jerusalem enjoying temple worship, “leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng” (42:4). Instead, he finds himself “downcast” (42:5) because he is way up the Jordan Valley, somewhere near the heights of Hermon, in the far north of the country.
Here the psalmist must contend with foes who taunt him, not least regarding his faith. They sneer all day long, “Where is your God?” (42:10). The only thing that will satisfy the psalmist is not, finally, Jerusalem and the temple, but God himself. Wherever he finds himself, the psalmist can still declare, “By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me — a prayer to the God of my life” (42:8). So he encourages himself with these reflections: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (42:11).
Sing the chorus, repeat the ancient lines. And draw comfort when you are fighting the bleak bog of despair, and God seems far away.
D.A. Carson

God Hates Injustice

The fifth chapter of Amos contains some of the most striking and most famous justice language in the Bible. The Lord rebukes his people for turning “justice into wormwood” (7), for hating the one who speaks the truth (10), for trampling on the poor (11; cf. 4:1), for turning aside the needy in the gate (12). Because of their sin, the Lord despises Israel’s feasts and assemblies (21) and threatens to visit the land with darkness and not light (18-20). The only hope for God’s people is that they “seek good, and not evil,” that they establish justice in the gate (14-15). Or, to quote the concluding exhortation made famous by Martin Luther King Jr., Israel must “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Clearly, God cares about justice and the poor. Conversely, his wrath burns against those who commit injustice and trample the poor. So what are the specific sins condemned by Amos?
1. Kicking the poor when they are down instead of giving them a hand up. It seems the wealthy were selling the poor into slavery even when the poor owed as little as a pair of sandals (2:6-7). This is cruelty instead of mercy.
2. Doing “justice” for the highest bidder. In ancient Israel the leading men of the town would gather at the city gate to decide the cases that came to them. Instead of making fair judgment based on the truth, the men of Amos’ day accepted bribes and paid no attention to the righteous plea of the poor  (5:10, 12).
3. Arbitrary, excessive taxation on the poor to benefit the rich (5:11).
4. A smug assurance on the part of the rich who live in the lap of luxury on the backs of the poor. The wealthy in Amos’ day, like some in ours, were proud of their wealth. They reveled in it (4:1; 6:4-7). They felt secure in it (6:1). To make matters worse, their getting richer had been made possible by the poor getting poorer. They had cheated, perverted justice, and, according to one commentator, made their money by “outrageous seizure” and illegal “land grabbing” (cf. Isa. 5:8).
Amos 5 reaffirms what we’ve seen in the previous Old Testament passages. God hates injustice. But injustice must be defined on the Bible’s terms, not ours. Injustice implies a corrupted judicial system, an arbitrary legal code, and outright cruelty to the poor.
Kevin DeYoung

Hyprocrisy - Bring In The Clowns

My Evasion; God’s Confrontation

The Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea.  Jonah 1:4
The lot fell on Jonah.  Jonah 1:7
The Lord appointed a great fish.  Jonah 1:17
The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.  Jonah 3:1
The Lord God appointed a plant.  Jonah 4:6
God appointed a worm.  Jonah 4:7
God appointed a scorching east wind.  Jonah 4:8
The Lord has more ways of confronting me than I have ways of evading him.
Ray Ortlund

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Carlin on baseball vs. football

The Temptations - Get Ready

Christ Not A Judge

Luther, preaching on John 3:17, 'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world'--

Christ assures us that He is not a judge. He is a Mediator, a Helper, a Comforter, a Mercy Seat, a Bishop, a Shepherd, a Brother, an Intercessor, our Gift, and our Deliverer--not a judge. He was given and presented to us so that we would not have to flee from Him.
But these wounds in our heart are not yet fully healed. By nature we are disinclined to trust in God. . . . I must still apply myself like a child to the study of these words, which assure me that Christ did not come to judge the world.

--LW 22:377
Dane Ortlund

Get Ready Its on its Way

Grace is not a Thing

Over at the Ligonier Ministries blog Deborah Finnamore has an interesting interview with Sinclair Ferguson about his new book By Grace Alone. In the interview Ferguson explains how grace is not a “thing”:
It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing this language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember 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 John 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. Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Gospel Coalition

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Accustomed grace, how stale the sound

From Sinclair Ferguson’s latest By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me (Reformation Trust, 2010), page xiv:
“A chief reason for the weakness of the Christian church in the West, for the poverty of our witness and any lack of vitality in our worship, probably lies here: we sing about ‘amazing grace’ and speak of ‘amazing grace,’ but far too often it has ceased to amaze us. Sadly, we might more truthfully sing of ‘accustomed grace.’ We have lost the joy and energy that are experienced when grace seems truly amazing.”

Long Distance Call & Baby Please Don't Go - Muddy Waters - From Fathers and Sons CD

This is one of the best Blues recordings ever made. Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Donald Duck Dunn and Sam Lay. This is half studio album and half live concert.

Here's a fix nobody wants

A Completely Fiery Atmosphere

'I am baptized on Christ, and I entrust myself solely to Him; for He is my Life, Salvation, and Wisdom.'Wherever such words proceed from faith, they generate a completely fiery atmosphere, which burns and pains the devil so that he cannot tarry. But if a person is without warmth about matters pertaining to God and salvation, as the common man does, then the devil merely laughs. But if your words are aglow in your heart, you will put the devil to flight.

--Martin Luther, preaching on John 3:16, in LW 22:357
Dane Ortlund

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spiritually Bankrupt

"Salvation is a free gift, but an empty hand must receive it, and not a hand which still tightly grasps the world!" - A.W. Pink,
Today's reading in "Voices from the Past" devotional read, "many souls do not only perish praying, repenting and believing after a sort, but they perish by their praying and repenting while they carnally trust in these. If we are to be saved, we must come naked to Christ in regard to our duties; we cannot flee to Christ in truth while trusting in them. Some are so locked into them, that they cannot come without them, and so in the day of temptation are trampled under the foot of God's wrath and Satan's fury." - Gurnall, Voices from the Past pg. 115
“The Law is for the proud and the Gospel for the brokenhearted.” - Martin Luther
IN the preaching of the Law, the conviction brought by the Holy Spirit works in you inwardly to make you aware of your woeful state -- that you are utterly without a question undone and all that you need spiritually is beyond yourself, to be found in Christ alone (Gospel).
Reformation Theology

Seven Days - Bob Dylan - 1976

Dylan played this son for Eric Clapton and Ron Wood while Clapton was recording his No Reason To Cry LP in Malibu. Dylan offered it to Clapton and Wood, Wood took it and recorded it on his Gimme Some Neck LP.

Retire It

Is Faith Necessary?

Do people of other faiths have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven?
Earlier this morning I had a video up of Joel Osteen’s response to this question on Larry King Live. Resurgence had asked me to comment on Osteen’s answer. A couple hours after the post went up the folks at Resurgence contacted me saying they found out Osteen issued an apology several years ago for the statements made on Larry King. You can read about the apology here. It is a clear, humble apology for which Osteen should be commended. As I remarked in my original post at Resurgence, “It’s not easy to winsomely answer a question about the eternal fate of billions of people and do it on live television before the next commercial break.” I’m sorry the post clip went up, even for a short time, because it does not accurately reflect what Osteen believes.
Very little of my post at Resurgence actually focused on Osteen. Mostly I imagined what I would have said (if I were thinking clearly and quickly on national television, which is a big “if”!). Here’s my answer:
“You know, Larry, that’s a huge question. On one level it’s hard to answer because it feels like a trap. ‘Will he or won’t he condemn everyone to hell?’ Well, it’s not my place to give the final evaluation for anyone. And I don’t want to sit here and say that I deserve to go to heaven more than someone else.
“Because the fact of the matter is none of us can merit heaven. God is holy and we are not. No matter how sincere we are or how many good things we do, we can’t begin to approach the purity and perfection of God. So we need a Mediator, a go-between.
“The Bible teaches that God sent his Son to be our Mediator. He lived the life we couldn’t and died the death meant for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says he was counted as sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. This great exchange is only possible by faith. Even Jesus said that those who don’t believe in him stand condemned already.
“And not because they don’t believe. God doesn’t punish people for not hearing about Jesus. He punishes us for being sinful sinners, for twisting what he has revealed to us in creation and what our own consciences tell us we should do. Without Christ, there’s no bridge between God and man, there’s no hope for a personal relationship with God, there’s no chance of being forgiven.
“Look, I realize that’s offensive to many people. But our desire is not exclude anyone. That’s why Christian believe in sharing their faith and starting new churches. We want everyone to put their faith in Christ and be his disciples. That’s what Jesus told us to do before he ascended into heaven. But I can’t accept that good Buddhists or sincere Hindus are doing just fine, because I don’t believe Jesus is someone’s personal God. I believe he is God. He is more than a personal Lord. He is the Lord over everyone and everything whether they recognize it or not. I can’t fully honor Christ if I pretend he is just one option among many. To say what I think your viewers want me to say would be to deny all that I believe is glorious, precious, and unique about Christ.
“See, the good news is Jesus is not just my personal Savior. He is the Savior of the world. That means he’s not my possession that I try to monopolize. No, he possesses everything and will gladly forgive all who turn to him in faith and repentance. Apart from Christ, no one can be right with God, no Hindus, no Buddhists, no Muslims, least of all this sinful pastor. But in Christ, there is salvation, joy, and new life for all who believe.
Kevin DeYoung

Luther's Stubborn Humility

[N]o one among us would like to see his true history inscribed on his forehead. But we all like to hear ourselves honored and extolled. No one of us thinks of saying: 'May God be merciful to me!'
If the sins known to my heart were published to the world, I would deserve the gallows. To be sure, the world now respects me. But if it really knew me, it would spit on me; for I would deserve beheading.

--Martin Luther, LW 22:403
Dane Ortlund

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tore Down - Eric Clapton - at The Fillmore from his 1994 Blues Tour

Wait till these explode

What to say to someone when hell breaks loose over them

What do you say to a woman whose only son has just died? Nothing, at first. The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep, not provide theological answers to those who weep. But if they ask for counsel, there is one thing above all else we can do: point them to Christ. This and this alone is what Jonathan Edwards did for six pages in a 1751 letter to Mary Pepperrell, whose son had just died.

We see then, dear Madam, how rich and how adequate is the provision, which God has made for our consolation, in all our afflictions, in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially, when it is considered, what were the ends of this great manifestation of beauty and love in his death.

He suffered that we might be delivered.

His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow, and to impart everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted, that we might be supported.

He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God's wrath, that we might drink of the rivers of his pleasures.

His soul was overwhelmed with a flood of sorrow, that our hearts might be overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

Death may deprive us of our friends here, but it cannot deprive us of our best Friend. . . . Therefore, in this we may be confident, though the earth be removed, in him we shall triumph with everlasting joy. Now, when storms and tempests arise, we may resort to him, who is a hiding-place from the storm, and a covert from the tempest. When we thirst, we may come to him, who is as rivers of water in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to him, who is as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

--Jonathan Edwards, in M. Haykin, ed., A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards, 129-30
Dane Ortlund

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Government messes Everything Up

The Decption of the Unregenerate Heart

Sam Storms' Signs of the Spirit is a good distillation of the wisdom of Jonathan Edwards' spiritual masterpiece, Religious Affections. (Though the subtitle doesn't indicate this, the last third of Sam's book adds a distillation of JE's Personal Narrative [found in this volume], which basically turns from the third person to the first person in JE's writing on true spiritual life, describing his own experience autobiographically.)

This was a good statement from Sam on understanding the human heart--

The unregenerate heart is quite capable of self-deception, self-flattery, and a self-confidence that leads it to heartily assert its safety with God.

True believers embrace the assurance of salvation with humility and caution, whereas the false assert it with a brazen confidence. . . . True believers, unlike hypocrites, are also keenly aware of their own sin and the potential it has for leading them into a false sense of security. It is also the case that Satan will leave a hypocrite in his false assurance (and perhaps even embolden him in it), whereas he may constantly attack the born-again believer lest the power of hope in his heart strengthen his commitment to holiness and purity of life.

--Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards's "Religious Affections" (Crossway 2007), 70, explaining the eleventh of 12 signs that don't necessarily point one way or another as to authentic spiritual experience
Dane Ortlund 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Environmentalism As Religion

Excellent Wall Street Journal article by Emory University economics professor Paul H. Rubin:

"Many observers have made the point that environmentalism is eerily close to a religious belief system. Consider some of the ways in which environmental behaviors echo religious behaviors and thus provide meaningful rituals for Greens:

• There is a holy day—Earth Day.

• There are food taboos. Instead of eating fish on Friday, or avoiding pork, Greens now eat organic foods and many are moving towards eating only locally grown foods.

• There is no prayer, but there are self-sacrificing rituals that are not particularly useful, such as recycling. Recycling paper to save trees, for example, makes no sense since the effect will be to reduce the number of trees planted in the long run.

• Belief systems are embraced with no logical basis. For example, environmentalists almost universally believe in the dangers of global warming but also reject the best solution to the problem, which is nuclear power. These two beliefs co-exist based on faith, not reason.

• There are no temples, but there are sacred structures. As I walk around the Emory campus, I am continually confronted with recycling bins, and instead of one trash can I am faced with several for different sorts of trash. Universities are centers of the environmental religion, and such structures are increasingly common. While people have worshipped many things, we may be the first to build shrines to garbage.

• Environmentalism is a proselytizing religion. Skeptics are not merely people unconvinced by the evidence: They are treated as evil sinners. I probably would not write this article if I did not have tenure."

Carpe Diem

Bob Dylan- Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence 1965

Recorded at an early session for Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan was improvising many of the lyrics as he was singing it. Great line:"She's making me an old man, and man I'm not even 25!"

Hubble captures view of Mystic Mountain

The heavens declare the glory of God

All Beauty is a Reflection of God's Beauty

Consider this: 'All the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation, is but the reflection of the diffused beams' shining forth from God.' And this: God is 'the foundation and fountain of all being and all beauty; from whom all is perfectly derived, and on whom all is most absolutely and perfectly dependent.' Just as the Sun is the source of all light, God is the source of all life and beauty.

Ponder the images: God as an eternal fountain that overflows with beautiful waters of life; God as the sun that radiates beams of life throughout the universe.

--James Byrd, Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox 2008), 138-39; quotes are of Edwards
Dane Ortlund

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cream- Steppin' Out (BBC Sessions)

Raising The Dead

"Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable; He did not come to improve the improvable; He did not come to reform the reformable. None of those things works."         --Robert Farrar Capon

The Message of the Gospel is Not "Behave!"

This is the major malfunction of American evangelicalism's political idolatry. To the extent we equate God's blessings and his kingdom coming to bear with the right men on Capitol Hill and the right laws in place, we settle for moralism and a righteousness born of self.

We'd all reject this theologically, I think, but it is implicitly central in a lot of the rhetoric and the exasperation from American Christians about what's wrong with America, etc etc.

As I was waiting for my ride to the airport from the hotel in Louisville, KY last week after the Together 4 the Gospel Conference, I was reminded of cultural Christianity's real concerns. The transportation attendant at the hotel noticed from my tag that I was from Vermont. Our conversation went like this:

Him: "You're from Vermont?"

Me: "Yup."

Him: "That's great. That van load that just left were from Vermont."

Me: "Oh cool."

Him: "Yeah. Good to know you guys are getting the good news out up there."

Me: "Well, we're trying."

Him: "Need to get some Republicans up there."

And there I was transported back to everything that drives me nuts about American evangelicalism: the equation of the good news with something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, in this case -- as is often the case -- with political conservatism.

I believe many Christians in America would be satisfied if "the culture" just stopped using pornography and drugs and alcohol and stopped aborting babies and started "acting right." As far as I can tell, that would be a Win.

But it's not a win. A land where everybody acts right and is on their best behavior, where peace reigns and social decay is no more and the poor are helped and the hungry are fed, but Christ is not worshiped as the sole supreme satisfaction in all the universe, is a big fat FAIL.

As C.S. Lewis says:
We must not suppose that if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world.

The message of the gospel is not "Behave!"

But that is the message American evangelicalism -- Southern and Northeastern, and most other places -- has been proclaiming. It is at its heart pharisaical.

We are called to preach not moralism but Christ crucified, foolishness to American culture and a stumbling block to American Christians.

Michael Horton illustrates this well in his book Christless Christianity:
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.

There is a great difference between “being good” and the gospel. Some call it moralism. Moralism, in fact, blinds us from the gospel by giving us something of “the real thing” ensuring that we miss out on the true gospel all together. We must remember that Christ came first not to make bad people good but to make dead people live. If we forget that, our Christianity will turn out to be Christless.
Jared Wilson

How Congress Spends Money

Led to the Fountain

We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in him; the issues and fruits of it being made out to us through Christ alone. Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up to the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; in which though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself. Would believers exercise themselves in this, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.

--John Owen, Communion with God (Christian Focus 2007), 52

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bonhoeffer Review in WSJ

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Joseph Loconte has a helpful review of Eric Metaxas’s new biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. He reminds us of the response of the German churches to Hitler’s initial assault on the Jews, and what Bonhoeffer sought to do in response:
German churches, which relied on state support, now faced a choice: preserve their subsidies by dismissing their pastors and employees with Jewish blood—or resist. Most Protestant and Catholic leaders fell into line, visibly currying favor with the regime or quietly complying with its edict.
Such ready capitulation makes the views of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran theologian in Hitler’s Germany, all the more remarkable. Within days of the new law’s promulgation, the 27-year-old pastor published an essay titled “The Church and the Jewish Question,” in which he challenged the legitimacy of a regime that contravened the tenets of Christianity. The churches of Germany, he wrote, shared “an unconditional obligation” to help the victims of an unjust state “even if they [the victims] do not belong to the Christian community.” He went further: Christians might be called upon not only to “bandage the victims under the wheel” of oppression but “to put a spoke in the wheel itself.” Before the decade was out, Bonhoeffer would join a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler and pay for such action with his life.

In “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” Eric Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer’s story with passion and theological sophistication, often challenging revisionist accounts that make Bonhoeffer out to be a “humanist” or ethicist for whom religious doctrine was easily disposable. In “Bonhoeffer” we meet a complex, provocative figure: an orthodox Christian who, at a grave historical moment, rejected what he called “cheap grace”—belief without bold and sacrificial action.
You can read the whole review here.
Justin Taylor

Stepping Out - Eric Clapton & John Mayall

The Fatal Deficency

'One thing you lack.' --Mark 10:21

His fatal deficiency may be described in a variety of ways. He had no conviction that he was a ruined, lost and Hell-deserving sinner, no consciousness that he was a spiritual leper in the sight of God, no realization of his utter helplessness to better his condition. Though religious, he was still in nature's darkness, and therefore, his affections were not raised above the vanities of this world. There was no love for God within him; and consequently, he was unwilling to deny himself, abandon his idols, and give God His rightful place in his life--serving, pleasing, and enjoying Him. He lacked a real and unreserved surrender of his heart to God.

Is that the case with you, dear reader?

--A. W. Pink  
Dane Ortlund

Heading Right Into the Cloud

Earth Day vs. Human Life by Paul Chesser

Tracy Mehan notes in proper fashion on the main page today how we ought to celebrate human accomplishment this Earth Day with regard to things like species protection, clean water, and feeding the world's population. But an op-ed in USA Today by Richard Tren and Donald Roberts, co-authors of The Excellent Powder: DDT's Political and Scientific History, provides necessary focus on where environmentalism has drifted into excess:
Back in the 1940s, scientists realized that the chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, could stop epidemics of insect-borne diseases such as typhus. Its lifesaving potential was considered such a boon to mankind that the scientist who discovered it, Paul Mueller, won the Nobel Prize. The chemical would soon surpass all expectations in controlling malaria around the world and go on to save millions of lives.
It was so effective that it eradicated the disease entirely in Europe, the U.S. and some island nations such as Taiwan. In the West, Malaria was defeated as an endemic disease more than 50 years ago. Now, though, it's a re-emergent disease of the poor, ravaging populations in South America, Asia and across sub-Saharan Africa. Spread by mosquitoes, malaria kills almost 1 million people a year and inflicts suffering on hundreds of millions more. But it didn't have to be this way.
Early environmentalists made pesticides one of their chief bugaboos. Rachel Carson, who helped launch the modern environmental movement, was among them....
Carson was no doubt well-intentioned, but it turns out that she was flat out wrong about the effects of DDT. It didn't spread the way she thought it did, and no studies have ever been able to show that environmental exposure to DDT — even in large quantities — harms human health.
Considering that many environmental groups and foundations also support population control initiatives, it's clear the concern for "human health" for them is secondary to the preservation of the planet they worship.
The American Spectator 
  I remember the fall out this had on farmers and the apple growing industry. Environmentalists have been wrong on so many things, most recently the global warming fraud. These people are really a danger to society. The recent comercials about earth day, and all the emphasis on going green is enough to make you sick. The other day I saw an ad for green colleges. Great, I thought lets produce another batch stupid students that havent got a clue.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HIDEAWAY (1966) by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- featuring Eric Clapton

Our Vast Inheritance

By virtue of the believer's union with Christ, he doth really possess all things. That we know plainly from Scripture. But it may be asked, how [doth] he possess all things? What is he the better for it? How is a true Christian so much richer than other men?

To answer this, I'll tell you what I mean by "possessing all things." I mean that God three in one, all that he is, and all that he has, and all that he does, all that he has made or done--the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men--are as much the Christian's as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, the house he dwells in, or the victuals he eats; yea more properly his, more advantageously his, than if he could command all those things mentioned to be just in all respects as he pleased at any time, by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly doth thus possess all things, is entirely his: so that he possesses it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband, more than the hand possesses what the head doth; it is all his. . . .

Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.

--Jonathan Edwards, Miscellany ff., in Vol 13 of the Yale edition of JE's Works, p. 183

Path Unsustainable

Experiencing God . . . Or Not

Ed Welch

Everyone who believes that God exists would like “a personal encounter with God.” We want that back-and-forth, knowing-and-being-known, emotional liveliness that is the fruit of a growing relationship. No one who follows Jesus harbors dreams of emotional and experiential dryness. Instead, bring on that promised abundant life (John 10:10).
Moses led the way. He wanted to feel God. He wanted the promises of God bolstered by a display of God’s glory (Ex.33:18). Times were tough. Doubt was in the air. A little experiential boost in which God confirmed his promises to Israel would go a long way. And God accommodated Moses’ request. His glory would go whooshing by and Moses would get to see God’s back, which we assumed happened but Moses doesn’t record the event.
The desire to experience God is a good thing, a very good thing. Scripture leads us in our aspirations for full-bodied praise, love and unity.
But there is a problem. What about those who feel God’s absence but desperately want to know his presence? What about those who sense that God hides himself, and he seems to do it at the times we need him most? What about those who’s emotional experience is so dominated by depression or fear that the experience of God just cannot break through?
Questions like these bring us back to Scripture – back to the Lord – with internal tensions that acknowledge both “I will never leave you or forsake you” and “My God why have you forsaken me.”
What we find in Scripture are the deeper ways of God with his people. “Sometimes God puts his children to bed in the dark” is one way to put it. Another way is this: in this era, our God has chosen to make walking by faith more fundamental, and more blessed, than walking by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This means that there will be many times when we can see the goodness of the Lord with our very eyes. But there will be other times when our experience says “God is far away” and he counters “I am with you.” In those cases, his words win.
Just expand the word “sight” in “walking by sight” to include all things sensory, such as our emotions. Then we are back on track: God is speaking right to us. He is not far away. This teaching gets to the heart of Scripture. Scripture exists because we need revelation. We can’t see reality clearly with the naked eye. Scripture is God’s technology that allows us to see everything we need to see.
You don’t feel his presence? Here are God’s words to you.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
There it is. Our senses say that we are destitute; God reveals that we have spiritual food that is profoundly satisfying. Our goal is to hear the word of the Lord in such a way that it drowns out our less-informed emotions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Luther on what the Bible is about:

[H]e who would correctly and profitably reads Scripture should see to it that he finds Christ in it; then he finds life eternal without fail. On the other hand, if I do not so study and understand Moses and the prophets as to find that Christ came from heaven for the sake of my salvation, became man, suffered, died, was buried, rose, and ascended into heaven so that through him I enjoy reconciliation with God, forgiveness of all my sins, grace, righteousness, and life eternal, then my reading in Scripture is of no help whatsoever to my salvation.

I may, of course, become a learned man by reading and studying Scripture and preach what I have acquired; yet all this would do me no good whatever.

Crazy Heart - Jeff Bridges - If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt

I picked up The DVD of the Crazy Heart movie today. I have really enjoyed this movie and the soundtrack. This song has really spoken to me.

Are You Getting The Picture?

Headline News: The Volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland erupts because of the Father

Daniel 4:34, 35 - "At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No man can hold back His hand or say to Him: "what have you done?""
Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." Matthew 10:29.
Whenever a sparrow falls to the ground, God the Father was involved in some way. That's a powerful statement, if ever I heard one. Why? Because the falling of a sparrow is an everyday occurrence. Each day, sparrows are born; and each day, sparrows die. Perhaps when a sparrow falls, someone might actually notice it; but then again, perhaps not. Perhaps the fall is caught on camera, or then again, perhaps not. Perhaps the sparrow falls amongst forest trees in the middle of the night with no camera or person around to record the incident. But the point Jesus makes here is that whatever the circumstance of a sparrow's fall - any sparrow's fall - it could not have done so unless God the Father had in some sense determined that it would.
In making this statement, Jesus was pointing to a great deal more than the plight of a sparrow. We can clearly understand that major events like the fall and the rise of nations are under God's providential rule and authority. But Jesus here made it quite clear that even when it comes to seemingly insignificant or trivial events (like a sparrow falling); they only occur because of the Father's will.
Even as Christians, I really don't think we get this. We have been so saturated and indoctrinated by the secular society around us that the world has affected our thinking far more than the Bible has. We live in a technological age unlike any other in human history. This is the generation of space travel, television, radio, the cell phone, high speed internet, the garage door opener, instant text messaging, microwave ovens and satellites. We're now very accustomed to seeing satellite pictures from space showing us up to the minute weather conditions around the world. There's nothing wrong with that, except that modern technology often gives us a very false impression. Because we can monitor the movement of a cloud formation or a hurricane from our living rooms, we tend to think that somehow what we are seeing in front of our eyes takes place outside of God's control. Because we can plot the movement of a hurricane, and even get a good idea about where and when it might hit land, we fail to see God's hand in it all.
But that's not just true about hurricanes, its true about weather of all kinds and its true about the volcanic eruption in Iceland. I've yet to hear a weather report that says, "God in His providence may well be sending us sunshine tomorrow" or "God in His mercy may well be sending us rain. Let us kneel and give reverential thanks to Him for answered prayer." Even on Christian television stations that bring us news and weather programs, we don't usually hear talk like that. Former generations would certainly have spoken in this way, but not ours. You see, we think we're more sophisticated now than our forefathers, and a foolish and prideful independence has set in to our hearts. We may have more technological advantages, but we have a far more pagan view of nature and its laws than those who looked at the world through the lens of the Bible.
Once again, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside of God's ordination (Matthew 10:29) - how much more this massive volcano in Iceland??? Please check out these amazing, stunning, breath-taking photos here. - JS
Reformation Theology

How to Disarm an Angry Person

Ed Welch talks here about how to respond when someone is sinfully angry at you. He ends with these practical-theological suggestions:
  1. Don’t minimize the destruction of anger. You are getting shot at! Of course it hurts.
  2. You are setting out to learn a disarming strategy that takes humility and love, and this is way over your head. As such, “Lord have mercy on me” is the order of the day.
  3. Remember that angry people are blind to their own anger. They are the last to know that they are killing people. Instead, all they see is that they are right and others are wrong. Assume that they are spiritual lunatics.
  4. Divest yourself of all the things you desire and cherish for yourself. Do you want love? Toss it and keep only the necessities, such as the desire to love. Do you need respect and understanding? It will only be an encumbrance. Get rid of it.
  5. Move toward the angry person in love and humility. Fear runs away, anger attacks. Humility and love move toward. In a surprise attack they blindside angry people with weakness. Your timing will be important. Sometimes you can say something while the gun is aimed. Other times you will wait and speak later.
  6. The person’s anger could have many reasons – you being one. But murderous anger is always wrong. At some point, from your place of love and humility, you will hold up the mirror and help angry people see themselves (Matthew 7:5).  

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Good news is Good because the Bad News is so Bad

Thanks to Gordon Cheng for this excellent quote from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ (p. 109):
It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won for us only after we have first seen God’s inaccessibility to sinners. We can cry ‘Hallelujah’ with authenticity only after we have first cried ‘Woe is me, for I am lost’.
Gordon comments:
Translated into English from the English, Stott is saying,
“Preach the cross as much as you like. But it is just a piece of stupidity in a distant historical context unless we understand why it is there. It’s as ridiculous as taking a pill the doctor offers, without understanding that I’m sick—no, really sick.”
Until I understand that I am a sinner, that God really hates me for it, and that I really am going to the place where the fire burns without being extinguished and the worm does not die, I can’t begin understand the love he showed me when his Son died in my place for my sins, bearing the full weight of his Father’s wrath against me.
Amen. The good news is good because the bad news is so bad. Let us rejoice in the former because we feel and recognize the latter.
Justin Taylor

Gone Gone Gone - Colin Farrell - Crazy Heart

Change We Could Believe In

Make It Plain Luther, Make it Plain

[I]t is a terrible and detestable blindness and a demonic presumption when a person has the audacity, as all work-righteous and hypocrites do, to attempt atonement for sin through works and tries in this way to earn the grace of God. It is wretched arrogance. . . . This is like a poor beggar--lice-ridden, syphilitic, leprous, filthy, stinking, and crawling with maggots and worms over his whole body, but nonetheless proud and arrogant--who vauntingly says: 'Just look at me, a handsome fellow!'

. . . Therefore we have no right to indulge in much bragging and boasting when we step before God. Even if we were members of the highest aristocracy on earth and were prone to take pride in this, before God we would still be nothing but bags of worms or bags of manure, infested with lice, maggots, stinking and foul. . . .

The healing alternative:

But if we do want to boast, then let us boast that we receive from the fullness of Christ, that we are enlightened by Him, attain forgiveness of sin, and become children of God through Him. . . . This fountain is inexaustible; it is full of grace and truth before God; it never fails no matter how much we draw from it. Even if we all dip from it without stopping, it cannot be emptied, but it remains a perennial fount of all grace and truth, an unfathomable well, an eternal fountain.

The more we drink from it, the more it gives.

--Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 22:132-34
Dane Ortlund

Sunday, April 18, 2010

O The Sweet Exchange

In his excellent T4G address, “Did the Fathers Know the Gospel?” (video), Ligon Duncan included this quote from The Epistle to Diognetus 9:2­–5 (perhaps A.D. 117).
Here is Michael W. Holmes’s English translation in The Apostolic Fathers, pp. 709–710:
. . . when our unrighteousness was fulfilled,
and it had been made perfectly clear that its wages—punishment and death—were to be expected,
then the season arrived during which God had decided to reveal at last his goodness and power
(oh, the surpassing kindness and love of God!).
He did not
hate us,
or reject us,
or bear a grudge against us;
he was patient and forbearing;
in his mercy he took upon himself our sins;
he himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us,
the holy one for the lawless,
the guiltless for the guilty,
the just for the unjust,
the incorruptible for the corruptible,
the immortal for the mortal.
For what else but his righteousness could have covered our sins?
In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone?
O the sweet exchange,
O the incomprehensible work of God,
O the unexpected blessings,
that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous person,
while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!
Justin Taylor

Grace Demolishes and Creates

Grace has a domino effect. It is at the bottom of the house of cards that is human identity. It is the ground floor of our striving after love. When grace comes in, when it rewrites the script, when its light shines in the basement of the house that is ourselves, unbuilt to God, grace demolishes and creates. It does what it promises.

Unlike the law, which produces the opposite of what it demands, grace succeeds. It produces the fruit, to use the New Testament metaphor, of a law-congruent life.

--Paul Zahl, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life (Eerdmans 2007), 41 
Dane Ortlund

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chew On That!

Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg scores a goal against the Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in the second period of the Wings' 7-4 win in Game .
I came home from a meeting last night and watched the last 2 periods of the Wings victory over the Coyotes. Near the end of the game Wings announcer Mickey Redmond commentating on the fact that some Coyote players were getting chippy in the 3rd period said; "The only way to protect yourself from somebody running around like that is to put the Louisville up to to them and let them chew on it. Stop that real fast."   At which point I broke out laughing. Sometime you just got to let them chew on that!

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride And Joy (Montreux '82)


[A] man can with confidence boast in Christ and say: 'Mine are Christ's living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did.' Just as a bridegroom possesses all that is his bride's and she all that is his--for the two have all things in common because they are one flesh.

--Martin Luther, sermon entitled 'Two Kinds of Righteousness,' quoted in Cornelis P. Venema, The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ: An Assessment of the Reformation and New Perspective on Paul (Banner of Truth 2006), 41

Media Elites the Real Radical Extremists

“Is there any word from God?”: Preaching the Gospel to Yourself ( Part 1)

Here is some wonderful instruction from Ralph Erskine about how to preach the gospel to ourselves whatever our faith-struggle may be:
Go to God and say, O “do as thou hast said.” Consider what he hath said, and take him at his word, and put him to it, that he would do to you accordingly. Whatever your care be, surely there is some word relative to it.
Some may be thinking, alas! God hath said nothing to me, that I may put him to his word. Why, man, if the gospel, that is in this Bible, be preached to you, and if there be any word of grace therein suitable to your case, then put not away the word from you, but take it, and plead upon it, that God would do as he hath said. If you can see any word of promise suited to your case and to your need, then put to your hand by faith, and lay hold upon his word.
O, say you, is there any word from God about my case, who am a poor needy creature, like to starve for want of a spiritual meal and a hearty draught of the living waters that go out from Jerusalem? What hath God said, or hath he said anything concerning me? Yea, he hath said, Isa. xli. 17, 18, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in dry places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry lands springs of water.” Hath he said so? Then take him at his word, and put him to it, saying, Lord, “do as thou hast said” (Ralph Erskine, “Faith’s Plea Upon God’s Word,” The Works of Ralph Erskine, vol. 2).
Gospel Coalition

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is the Island a Purgatory? Or Not?

Chris Seay weighs in on the meaning of Tuesday's LOST episode, "Everybody Loves Hugo" by Chris Seay
Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to Lost, chimes in on the developments in Tuesday's episode of LOST, "Everybody Loves Hugo." (SPOILERS AHEAD) Among Seay's observations: "It's great to know what all these whispers [on the island] have been, and to see Hurley's interactions with Michael. But the inference that Michael is stuck there in a purgatory kind of sense is at least a disappointment." Seay also notes that Desmond's importance "can't be underestimated," and that he still seems to be sort of a messianic figure, with his "ability to withstand this evil magnetic energy without being harmed." And Seay notes how he was "stunned" how the episode ended.

John Mayall with Albert King - Stormy Monday

This is smokin hot, King and Taylor give great solos, turn it up.
The classic T-Bone Walker's tune by John Mayall & The Original Bluesbreakers ft. Albert King. This was recorded in June, 1982 at the New Jersey's Capitol Theatre.
Albert King: vocals, guitar
John Mayall: Keybords
Mick Taylor: guitar
Frank Dunbar: bass
Collin Allen: drums

Does Calvinism Discourage Evangelism?

The short answer (to the title of this post) is: it shouldn’t. In fact, Calvinism, properly conceived, is a great motivator to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But I understand it doesn’t seem like that at first blush.
“If God is decisive in salvation, then why bother presenting the gospel?  I mean, if they’re elect they will come to Jesus somehow, with or without me. And if they aren’t elect why bother in the first place?”
This objection makes some logical sense, but it is not biblical logic.  The Bible has no problem joining the absolute sovereignty of God with a zeal for evangelism.  For example, in Romans 9, where Paul declares “God will have compassion on whom he has compassion and harden whom he hardens,” Paul first says in verse 1: “I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit–that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”    He believed in election and his heart broke for the lost.
Same thing in Romans 10: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”  Wait a minute, is this the same Paul who quoted “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated?”  Of course it is. Paul was passionate about God’s right to choose whomever he wishes and he was also passionate about winning the lost.
In fact, election helps spur on faithful mission and evangelism.  That’s not to say that Calvinists haven’t misused election in the past to excuse inactivity, but that’s not what election did for Paul.  When Paul was in Corinth and had it up to here with those rascals and was ready to get out of Dodge, do you know what kept him there?  Acts 18:9-11 says, “The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’  So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”  A strong belief in God’s sovereignty is what will keep a missionary on the field when there seems to be no harvest.  As Paul said to Timothy, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect” (2 Tim. 2:10).
God can work without means, or contrary to means, but he usually works through means; which means…he uses us.  If you get in a bad car accident, God could save you by angelic intervention, or he could save you by a miracle when you should have been dead, but he can also save you with your seat belt.  God uses means to achieve his purposes, and evangelism (and prayer for that matter) is one of those means.
God ordained proclamation to accomplish his purposes.  We share the gospel out of joyful obedience, and in hope that the God who appoints the end also ordains the means. Someone asked Spurgeon once, “Why do you preach if you believe in election?”  His response: “Because the elect don’t have yellow stripes down their back.”  In other words, we don’t whom the elect are, so we declare the gospel without discrimination, trusting that the sheep will recognize the master’s voice.
Actually, the only evangelistic hope we really have in a hard-hearted, disobedient world is that the Lord has elect sheep out there, wandering though they now may be, who will hear his voice when we open our mouths to speak on behalf of the Good Shepherd.
Kevin DeYoung

Real Deffinition of the IRS

You Settle with Him, Devil

Little is gained against the devil with a lengthy disputation; but a brief word and reply such as this is effective: 'I am a Christian, of the same flesh and blood as my Lord Christ, the Son of God. You settle with Him, devil!' Such a retort would soon make him depart.

--Martin Luther, preaching on John 1:14, 'and the word became flesh,' in LW 22:106
Dane Ortlund

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Such Are We in The Sight of God

Luther said, Christian righteousness is what God imputes to us apart from own works. Christian righteousness is passive righteousness while all others are active. If I tried to fulfill the law myself I couldn’t trust in what I’d accomplished, neither could it stand up to the judgment of God, but I rest only upon the righteousness of Christ which I do not produce but receive. God the Father freely gives it to me through Jesus Christ.

I don’t produce it, I receive it. It’s not active righteousness it’s passive. I receive it, I don’t develop it. It comes to me. Or as Richard Hooker said: "Such are we in the sight of God the Father as is the very Son of God himself. Let it be counted as folly or frenzy or furry whatsoever, this is our comfort, this is our wisdom we care for no knowledge in the world but this. That we have sinned and God has suffered, that God has made himself the sin of man that men were made the righteousness of God. What wonder what mystery in this appointment shine. My breaches of the law are his and his obedience is mine."

Crazy Heart -Jeff Bridges - I Don't Know

Real Advice

Is it accurate to say that God died on the cross? by R.C. Sproul

The famous hymn of the church “And Can it Be?” contains a line that asks a very poignant question : “How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” Is it accurate to say that God died on the cross?
This kind of expression is popular in hymnody and in grassroots conversation. So although I have this scruple about the hymn and it bothers me that the expression is there, I think I understand it, and there’s a way to give an indulgence for it.
We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. We also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross. If we say that God died on the cross, and if by that we mean that the divine nature perished, we have stepped over the edge into serious heresy. In fact, two such heresies related to this problem arose in the early centuries of the church: theopassianism and patripassianism. The first of these, theopassianism, teaches that God Himself suffered death on the cross. Patripassianism indicates that the Father suffered vicariously through the suffering of His Son. Both of these heresies were roundly rejected by the church for the very reason that they categorically deny the very character and nature of God, including His immutability. There is no change in the substantive nature or character of God at any time.
God not only created the universe, He sustains it by the very power of His being. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If the being of God ceased for one second, the universe would disappear. It would pass out of existence, because nothing can exist apart from the sustaining power of God. If God dies, everything dies with Him. Obviously, then, God could not have perished on the cross.
Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.
We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.
Reformation Theology

Satan's Inadvertent Suicide

Martin Luther on the practical spiritual help that Christ's deity gives believers in the war against sin and Satan--

[I]f, as God's Son, He sheds His blood to redeem us and cleanse us from sin, and if we believe this, rubbing it under the devil's nose whenever he tries to plague and terrify us with our sins, the devil will soon be beaten; he will be forced to withdraw and to stop molesting us.

For the hook, which is the divinity of Christ, was concealed under the earthworm. The devil swallowed it with his jaws when Christ died and was buried. But it ripped his belly so that he could not retain it but had to disgorge it. He ate death for himself.

This affords us the greatest solace; for just as the devil could not hold Christ in death, so he cannot hold us who believe in Christ

Luther's Works 22:24
Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics … and Graphs

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I got to thinking about how the information about temperatures is presented. Usually, we are shown a graph something like Fig. 1, which shows the change in the US temperatures over the last century.
Figure 1. Change in the US annual temperatures, 1895-2009. Data from the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN DATA) [Yes, it's in Fahrenheit, not Celsius, but hey, it's US temperature, and besides I'm doing it in solidarity with our valiant allies, all the other noble countries that are bravely fighting a desperate rear-guard action against the global metric conspiracy ... Liberia and Myanmar ...]
Whoa, this is obviously a huge and scary change, look at the slope of that trend line, this must be something that calls for immediate action. So, what’s not to like about this graph?
What’s wrong with it is that there is nothing in the graph that we can compare to our normal existence. Usually, we don’t even go so far as to think “Well, it’s changed about one degree Fahrenheit, call it half a degree C, that’s not even enough to feel the difference.”
So I decided to look for a way to present exactly the same information so that it would make more sense, a way that we can compare to our actual experience. Fig. 2 is one way to do that. It shows the US temperature, month by month, for each year since 1895.
Figure 2. US yearly temperatures by month, 1895-2009. Each line represents the record for a different year. Red line is the temperature in 2009. Data source as in Fig. 1. Photo is Vernal Falls, Yosemite
Presented in this fashion, we are reminded that the annual variation in temperature is much, much larger than the ~ 1°F change in US temperatures over the last century. The most recent year, 2009, is … well … about average. Have we seen any terrible results from the temperature differences between even the coolest and warmest years, differences which (of course) are much larger than the average change over the last century? If so, I don’t recall those calamities, and I remember nearly half of those years …
To investigate further, Fig. 3 looks at the decadal average changes in the same way.
Figure 3. US decadal average temperatures by month, 1900-2009. Red line is the average for the decade 2000-2009. Photo is Half Dome, Yosemite.
Most months of the year there is so little change in the decadal averages that the lines cannot be distinguished. The warming, what there is, occurred mostly in the months of November, December, January, and February. Slightly warmer temperatures in the winter … somehow, that doesn’t strike me as anything worth breathing hard about.
My point in all of this is that the temperature changes that we are discussing (a global rise of a bit more than half a degree C in the last century) are trivially small. A half degree change cannot be sensed by the human body. In addition, the changes are generally occurring in the winter, outside of the tropics in the cooler parts of the planet, and at night. Perhaps you see this small warming, as has often been claimed, as a huge problem that “vastly eclipses that of terrorism” (the Guardian). Maybe you think this is a pressing concern which is the “defining issue of our era” (UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon).
I don’t. I’m sorry, but for me, poverty and injustice and racial prejudice and totalitarian regimes and recurring warfare and a lack of clean drinking water and torture and rampant disease and lack of education and child prostitution and a host of other problems “vastly eclipse” the possibility of a degree or two of warming happening at night in the winter in the extra-tropics fifty years from now.
Finally, the USHCN records are not adjusted for the urban heat island (UHI) effect. UHI is the warming of the recording thermometers that occurs as the area around the temperature recording station is developed. Increasing buildings, roads, pavement, and the cutting down of trees all tend to increase recorded temperatures. Various authors (e.g. McKitrick, Spencer,  Jones)  have shown that UHI likely explains something on the order of half of the recorded temperature rise. So even the small temperature rise shown above is probably shown somewhere about twice as large as it actually is …
My conclusion? Move along, folks, nothing to see here …
Watts Up With That?

Jeff Beck - Drown in my own Tears

The Obama Nuclear Policy

Flock Of The Fainthearted

May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint!

I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble, and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sin.

--Martin Luther, preaching on John 1, in Luther's Works, 22:55 
Dane Ortlund

What Is The Gospel? by R.C. Sproul

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, 'you can have a purpose to your life', or that 'you can have meaning to your life', or that 'you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.' All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel.
The Gospel is called the 'good news' because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.