Monday, May 31, 2010

Eric Clapton - Stormy Monday

Eric Clapton at Pavarotti & friends

Oil that is

Justification Sanctifies

[S]anctification is not a new thing, but simply the unfolding, by the operation of the Spirit, of something already present. It is God's justifying verdict itself which sanctifies. . . .

It is precisely because God waits for no guarantees but pardons out-and-out, because He dares to trust a man who has no claim or right to trust at all--it is because of this that forgiveness regenerates, and justification sanctifies.

--James S. Stewart, A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion (New York: Harper, 1935), 258, 259-60
Dane Ortlund

Always something new and fresh

“There are certain things which have to be said over and over again, of necessity, and yet this is the marvel and the wonder of the cross, that however many times a man may preach about it, he has never finished preaching about it.  There is always something fresh to say, always something new.  There is a great central message that is always there, but nothing is so wonderful as to see that one thing in different ways . . . . During these twenty-six years in my Westminster pulpit there have been times when in my utter folly I have wondered, or the devil has suggested to me, that there is nothing more for me to say, that I have preached it all.  I thank God that I can now say that I feel I am only at the beginning of it.  There is no end to this glorious message of the cross, for there is always something new and fresh and entrancing and moving and uplifting that one has never seen before.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross (Westchester, 1986), pages 155-156
Ray Ortlund

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plugged In

Another gem from the writings of Dr. J.I. Packer. This one is from his book Growing in Christ (Crossway, 1996), page 120:
God’s eternal Son became Jesus the Christ by incarnation; to put away our sins he tasted death by crucifixion; he resumed bodily life for all eternity by resurrection; and he reentered heaven’s glory by ascension. This is the Christ-event. It is truly historical, for it happened in Palestine 2,000 years ago. Equally true, however, it is trans-historical, in the sense of not being bounded by space and time as other events are: it can touch and involve in itself any person at any time anywhere. Faith in Jesus occasions that involving touch, so that in terms of rock-bottom reality every believer has actually died and risen, and now lives and reigns, with Jesus and through Jesus. This is the new creation aspect of our link with Jesus. …. The way to express it is that in the Jesus to whom we go in faith the power of the whole Christ-event resides, and that in saving us he not only sets us right with God, but also, so to speak, plugs us in to his own dying, rising, and reigning. Thus we live in joyful fellowship with him, knowing ourselves justified by faith through his death, and finding therewith freedom from sin’s tyranny and foretastes of heaven on earth through the transforming power within us that his dying and rising exerts. This is an over-short statement of an overwhelming truth.
The magnitude of Christ’s work is mind-numbing. And the thought that I am now “plugged in” to his completed work causes me to marvel at God’s grace!

Paul McCartney-Gratitude

Add The Federal Government as a Weasel

No Dogma, No Fruits!

It can be difficult to convince another Christian that the doctrines of grace are biblical. I know because I’ve tried (sometimes winsomely, sometimes not). Convincing an egalitarian of complementarian is a challenge too. Ditto for any other disputed doctrine. But in my experience what’s even more difficult is convincing the average Christian that doctrine matters at all. Why bother with definitions and terms? Why insist on theological decisiveness and robust doctrinal articulation? Why is dogma essential for doing good?
J.C. Ryle explains:
Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to who you try to do good will believe nothing.
The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live—to believe, repent, and be converted.
This—this is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad. Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology—the preachers of the gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality—let them, I say, show us at this day any English village, or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without “dogma,” by their principles. They cannot do it, and they never will.
Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over the facts. The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small. Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur and cry out that Christianity has failed. But, depend on it, if we want to “do good” and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to “dogma.” No dogma, no fruits! No positive evangelical doctrine, no evangelization! (Holiness, 355-356)
You might do well to read that again. And you would certainly do well to read Holiness or anything else by J.C. Ryle. I find him unusually helpful for my soul.
Kevin DeYoung

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eric Clapton - Kind Hearted Woman

The Long And Winding Road

A Grand And Overpowering Thought

No man, no matter, who he may be, can ponder the magnificence sufficiently or express it adequately in words. We poor mortals, who are condemned and miserable sinners through our first birth from Adam, are singled out for such great honor and nobility that the eternal and almighty God is our Father and we are His children. Christ is our Brother, and we are His fellow heirs (Rom 8:17). And the dear angels, such as Michael and Gabriel, are not to be our masters but our brothers and servants. . . .

This is a grand and overpowering thought! Whoever really reflects on it--the children of the world will not, but Christians will, although not all of them either--will be so startled and frightened by the thought that he will be prompted to ask: 'My dear, can this really be possible and true?'

. . . [T]he world rates it a much higher honor and privilege to be the son and heir of a prince, a king, or a count than to be the possessor of God's spiritual goods, although by comparison all these are nothing but poor bags of worms and their glory sheer stench. Just compare all this with the ineffable dignity and nobility of which the evangelist speaks. . . . If we really believed with all our heart, firmly and unflinchingly, that the eternal God, Creator and Ruler of the world, is our Father, with whom we have an everlasting abode as children and heirs, not of this transitory wicked world but of all God's imperishable, heavenly, and inexpressible treasures, then we would, indeed, concern ourselves but little with all that the world prizes so highly; much less would we covet it and strive after it.

Indeed, we would regard the world's riches, treasures, glories, splendor, and might--compared with the dignity and honor due us as the children and heirs, not of a mortal emperor but of the eternal and almighty God--as trifling, paltry, vile, leprous, yes, as stinking filth and poison.

--Luther, preaching on John 1:12, in LW 22:87-89

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Derek Trucks Band "Meet Me in the Bottom"

Grace-Driven Effort

D.A. Carson writes:
People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

You will not grow in the Christian life through stasis. You must move.

But move where? Move how?

What is "grace-driven effort" and how is it different from some other kind of religious or spiritual effort?

I think grace-driven effort springs from parking ourselves at the gospel and beholding. People who behold (super)naturally move into mission. They can't not runteldat.

Here is one of my favorite passages from Paul. He is talking about pressing on and moving forward, upward, Godward, but notice how he begins and ends this thought on Spiritual effort:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

-- Philippians 3:12-16

The beginning of this passage affirms that what has been attained was not by Paul's causal effort but Jesus' causal effort. And the passage ends with Paul saying "Let's hold to what we've already got."

"Not that I have already made it my own; Jesus made me his own."
"Only let us hold true to what we have attained."

We don't graduate from the gospel. We hold true to it. And it alone propels us out and empowers us to press on.

Grace-driven effort is effort that flows from the joys and wonders of worship that flows from beholding the amazing gospel of God's grace.
Jared Wilson

Ineffective Government

God Satisfies

“OPEN WIDE YOUR MOUTH and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10): the symbolism is transparent. God is perfectly willing and able to satisfy all our deepest needs and longings. Implicitly, the problem is that we will not even open our mouths to enjoy the food he provides. The symbolism returns in the last verse: while the wicked will face punishment that lasts forever, “you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (Ps. 81:16).
Of course, God is talking about more than physical food (though scarcely less). The setting is a common one both in the Psalms and in the narrative parts of the Pentateuch. God graciously and spectacularly rescued the people from their slavery in Egypt, responding to their own cries of distress. “I removed the burden from their shoulders,”God says. “In your distress you called and I rescued you” (Ps. 81:6-7). Then comes the passage that leads to the line quoted at the beginning of this meditation:
Hear, O my people, and I will warn you –
if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not bow down to an alien god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it (Ps. 81:8-10).
Historically, of course, the response of the people was disappointing: “my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me” (Ps. 81:11). In that case, they were not promised the satisfaction symbolized by full mouths. Far from it, God says, “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices” (Ps. 81:12).
Of course, the nature of the idolatry changes from age to age. I recently read some lines from John Piper:
The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable (A Hunger for God, Wheaton: Crossway, 1997, 14).
“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Five Ways

Refers to the five arguments for the existence of God given by Saint Thomas Aquinas. 1) Argument from Motion: if things are in motion, they must have been moved by an ultimate mover. 2) Argument from Efficient Causes: if there are effects, there must be an efficient cause for the effects. 3) Argument from Possibility and Necessity (Reductio argument): if contingent things exist, there must be a non-contingent explanation for them. 4) Argument from Gradation of Being: if there is gradation in being (some things are better than others), there must also be something perfect, a standard which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection, including their perception of these things. 5) Argument from Design: if there is purpose and design to all things, then there must be a sufficient designer which births, guides, and directs all purpose and ends.
Word of the Day

When You Got A Good Friend [Remastered] ROBERT JOHNSON (1936) Delta Blues Guitar Legend

That Massive Deadly Ditch of Legalism

Legalists sometimes defend themselves by claiming that legalism, properly understood, is just what Paul condemned in Galatians 1: the sin of making justification conditional on some work or ceremony performed by the sinner. In other words, legalism is works-salvation. So, they say, if you formally affirm the principle of sola fide and preach that people can be saved without any prerequisite work, you can't possibly be a legalist, no matter how many rules you make and impose on the consciences of people who are already converted.

No. Legalism is the error of abandoning our liberty in Christ in order to take on a yoke of legal bondage (Galatians 5:1). There are actually two kinds of legalism.

First is the one recognized and despised even by the fundamentalist with his thick rule-book. It's the legalism of the Judaizers. The Judaizers wanted to make circumcision a requirement for salvation. They had fatally corrupted the gospel by adding a human work as a requirement for salvation. That is certainly the worst variety of legalism, because it destroys the doctrine of justification by faith and thereby sets up "a gospel contrary to the one you received" (Galatians 1:8-9).

But another kind of legalism is the legalism of the Pharisees. It's the tendency to reduce every believer's duty to a list of rules. This is the kind of legalism that often seems to surface in our comment-threads. At its root is a belief that holiness is achieved by legal means—by following a list of "standards." This type of legalism doesn't necessarily destroy the doctrine of justification like the legalism of the Judaizers. But it does destroy the doctrine of sanctification, and it is certainly appropriate to call it what it is: legalism—i.e., a sinful misapplication of law; an attempt to make law do work that only grace can do. Like the Judaizers' brand of legalism, it brings people under a yoke of bondage Scripture has not placed on them.

As a matter of fact, that is exactly what Jesus said about the legalism of the Pharisees: "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders" (Matthew 23:4).

Pharisaical legalists are not content to live life in the power of the Spirit, cultivate discernment, and avoid things that are clearly profane or immoral; they make lists of rules that prohibit Christians from practically everything but church activities. It's not enough to avoid gambling; they insist that good Christians will avoid card-playing altogether. They're not content with doing things in moderation and with self-control, they make rules that call for strict abstinence from everything doubtful—and they try to impose those rules on other Christians—saddling people with a yoke that they imagine exists somewhere in the white spaces of Scripture.

You want rules? Here's a good one to start with: When it comes to the question of spiritual duties, where Scripture stops speaking, we should, too.

Spending Madness

Excerpt from a Synergistic Statement of Faith

"We believe that when an unregenerate person exercises saving faith in Christ, which is illustrated and described as such in the New Testament, he passes immediately out of spiritual death into spiritual life." Stonebriar Community Church, Pastored by Chuck Swindoll, click here for source.
This simply does not stand up next to the Text of Scripture:
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all..."This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." John 6:63, 65
"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:25-27
" depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." - Rom 9:16
Related Quotes:
"How can it be said that the weakness of the human will is aided so as to enable it to aspire effectually to the choice of good, when the fact is, that it must be wholly transformed and renewed?" - John Calvin
"We ought always to beware of making the smallest claim for ourselves." - John Calvin
"The nature of the Divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock. but also to cause them to knock and ask." - Augustine
"You may be quite certain that if you love God it is a fruit, not a root." - C.H. Spurgeon
"We are not born again by repentance or faith or conversion: we repent and believe because we have been born again." - John Murray
"As grace led me to faith in the firstplace, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace." - J.I. Packer
"Regeneration, however it is described, is a divine activity in us, in which we are not the actors but the recipients." - Sinclair Ferguson
"Grace alone makes the elect gracious; grace alone keeps them gracious; and the same grace alone will render them everlastingly glorious in the heaven of heavens." - Augustus Toplady
"Without the Holy Spirit there would be no new birth, no illumination, no understanding or affection for the gospel, and thus no faith -- in other words, no Christians." - J.W. Hendryx
“To make human action the cause of divine blessing is to overturn the whole nature of salvation.” - Iain Murray
"...nor of the will of the flesh" (Jn. 1:13). The Bible declares there are only two states of being: flesh and Spirit, and that it is only those who are born of the Spirit (Jn. 3:3, 6:63) who will come to Jesus (Jn. 6:65). The native resources of the flesh are, therefore, morally impotent to meet God's humbling requirement to believe the gospel. (1:13) - J.W.H
"Grace itself teaches humility. The Apostle said, 'What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 cor 4:7) thus, even our ability to understand, to know, to discern, to hear, and to believe God's word, are all gifts we have received, not attainments we may boast in." J.W.H
"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law... Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart." Ps 119:18, 33-34
Reformation Theology

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This is the Best They've Got?

Stephen Hawking says there probably are aliens out there. But in a new documentary series with the Discovery Channel, the acclaimed physicist says we probably shouldn't be beaming radio waves into the universe in hope of making contact. After all, we're just as likely to make contact with a superior alien race that will mine our planet for water and minerals and leave us to die as we are to find an alien race that wants to be friends and learn the Macarena. "Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach," the 68-year mused. "If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for materials to build more spaceships so they could move on."

In the movie "Expelled" with Ben Stein, Mr Stein interviewed Richard Dawkins another intellectual atheist like Hawking. Stein kept questioning Dawkins about the origin of life, what happened, where did we come from. Clearly annoyed, Dawkins replied "our planet was probably seeded by aliens."

Here are two brilliant  intellectual men and the best they've got is aliens. They mock intelligent design, Christianity and Judaism, but have no problems with giving credit to aliens.

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them....For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for"....Aliens.    Romans 1:19,21-23a

Eric Clapton Drifting Blues 2008 Unplugged Live TV Recording

Tar Balls on the Potomac

Intelligent Design: Redefine the Question

Karl Giberson, Stephen C. Meyer, and Marcus Ross chart ways intelligent design can gain academic currency. Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture

Karl Giberson, director of Gordon College's Forum on Faith and Science, Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and Marcus Ross, a professor of geology at Liberty University suggest the best ways the intelligent design movement can gain academic credibility.
Asking what advocates of intelligent design must do to gain credibility in the academy is a bit like asking a man when he stopped beating his wife. Such a question makes a prejudicial assumption.
When queried about his history of spousal abuse, an innocent man should say, "I don't concede the premise of your question." Similarly, I would suggest that behind the Village Green question lurk some false assumptions. Indeed, the question seems to presuppose three things: the scientific community is uniformly opposed to the theory of intelligent design; the theory needs majority support in the academy to be credible; and there is good reason—such as lack of supporting evidence—for hostility toward the theory within academia.
First, the scientific community is not uniformly opposed to ID. My recent book on the subject received enthusiastic endorsements from many scientists not previously known as advocates of ID, such as chemist Philip Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member, and Norman Nevin, one of Britain's top geneticists. Further, many longstanding advocates of intelligent design are themselves science professors at mainstream universities and, therefore, already part of the academy. Second, as the recent scandal surrounding global warming suggests, the "consensus" of scientists can often be wrong. What matters is not consensus but evidence. And the evidence for ID is strong. In Signature in the Cell, for example, I show how the information that runs the show in cells points decisively to intelligent design.
DNA stores instructions for life functions in the form of a four-character digital code. Based on our experience, we know that systems possessing such information invariably arise from minds, not material processes. We know that software comes from programmers. We know that information—whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, or encoded in a radio signal—always comes from an intelligent source. So the discovery of a digital code in DNA provides compelling evidence of a prior designing intelligence.
Third, those who reject ID within the scientific community do so not because they have a better explanation of the relevant evidence, but because they affirm a definition of science that requires them to reject explanations involving intelligence—whatever the evidence shows. Imagine an archaeologist confronted with the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, yet forced by some arbitrary convention to ignore the evidence for intelligent activity in the information those inscriptions contain. That is similar to the response of many evolutionary biologists who reflexively reject the theory of intelligent design as unscientific by definition, despite the evidence of intelligent activity in the information encoded in DNA.
Thus, to keep building a scientific research community, we ID advocates must expose the prejudicial rules of reasoning that preclude consideration of our theory, and keep explaining ID's strong foundation in evidence. We must also address our arguments to open-minded younger scientists and show how ID opens up many important research questions that Darwinian thought has long suppressed.

The Gracious Generosity Of God

“It is certain that God blesses believers precisely and invariably by blessing to them something of his truth and that misbelief as such is in its own nature spiritually barren and destructive.

Yet anyone who deals with souls will again and again be amazed at the gracious generosity with which God blesses to needy ones what looks to us like a very tiny needle of truth hidden amid whole haystacks of mental error.

As I have said, countless sinners truly experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit while their notions about both are erratic and largely incorrect. (Where indeed, would any of us be if God's blessings had been with-held till our notions were right? Every Christian without exception experiences far more in the way of mercy and help than the quality of his notions warrants.)”

—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 21-22.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jeff Beck & Eric Clapton at Ronnie Scott's


Then Christ’s hand reaches out

“Let us then as Christians rejoice that we see around us on every hand the decay of the institutions and instruments of power, see intimations of empires falling to pieces, money in total disarray, dictators and parliamentarians alike nonplussed by the confusion and conflicts which encompass them.  For it is precisely when every earthly hope has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, when every recourse this world offers, moral as well as material, has been explored to no effect, when in the shivering cold the last faggot (bundle of sticks or heap of iron used for fuel) has been thrown on the fire and in the gathering darkness every glimmer of light has finally flickered out, it’s then that Christ’s hand reaches out sure and firm.  Then Christ’s words bring inexpressible comfort, then his light shines brightest, abolishing the darkness forever.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, The End of Christendom (Grand Rapids, 1980), page 56.
Ray Ortlund

Lessons from LOST

Lost was groundbreaking in many ways, and it will certainly take its place in history as one of the most thought-provoking dramas to grace the airwaves. It was not perfect (remember the sluggish pace of Season 3 or the introduction of Nikki and Paulo?), but I’m confident that it will be remembered for setting a new standard for television drama.
What are some lessons that Christians can take away from this pop culture phenomenon?
1. People are interested in the big questions of life.
2. People are looking for the purpose behind pain and suffering.
3. There is a crisis of fatherhood today that has caused immeasurable pain, sorrow and anger.
Lost often centered on the “daddy issues” in the back stories of many of the characters.
4. People long to be part of a story bigger than their personal story, but which is able to incorporate and add meaning to their individual experiences.
Why did Lost strike such a chord? Because this desire for meaning and purpose behind our individual stories is very much wired into us as humans. Lost never fully succeeded at satisfactorily tying the stories together into the show’s meta-narrative. But there is one Story that will.
The Christian faith teaches that we are part of a Story that is about Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. The slain Lamb is the conquering king – through whom and for whom our world exists.
Ironically, when we live as if our personal story is at the center of our universe, we struggle to find meaning and significance. But when Christ is at the center and we are pushed to the periphery, it is then – in that place of seeming obscurity and insignificance – that we find true worth and value, by giving glory to the King with whom we can become united through faith.
Read the rest here

The Final Act of Lost

“Lost” captivated millions because it drew upon a variety of universal themes. It was self-consciously theological and philosophical—an approach that really sticks-out among the mind-numbing pabulum offered daily on television. Characters were named after famous philosophers (e.g., John Locke, Desmond David Hume), storylines were mistaken for religious narratives (e.g., the theory that the island is purgatory), and classic metaphysical dilemmas appeared throughout (e.g., fate vs. free-will, good vs. evil).
As I’ve said before, the Lost story was not your run-of-the-mill postmodern critique of metanarratives. Good and evil were in a pitched battle, and the good won in the end. Viewers saw in this story what they already perceive to be true about their own story. The world that they live in is broken, something has gone wrong, there is evil afoot, and something needs to be done about it. Everyone living in this broken-down world is broken-down themselves and in desperate need of redemption.
I think it’s easy to see why viewers have been attracted to Lost’s mythology. They feel a yearning that what was true in Lost’s story might be true in their own. They hope to find that what they did here did have meaning and a purpose and that good will win-out in the end. The Christian gospel teaches that this universal human yearning does have an answer. It teaches that good does in fact win-out in the end, that there is a purpose to it all, and that redemption is possible—even for the vilest characters in this drama (1 Timothy 1:15). There was really a man who was pierced for our transgressions to make a new world and new life possible (John 19:34; cf. Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10). Only this man didn’t live in a mythological TV-world. He lived here, was one of us, and has gone on to prepare a place for those who know Him by faith (John 1:14; 14:2-3).
“Lost” highlighted the itch that only the gospel can scratch. This was the unwitting genius of the show, and it is why people will be talking about it for years to come.
Read The Rest Here

The Lost Understanding of Sin

Joe Carter has a typically thoughtful review of Lost and the Christ-figure of Jack:
In case that is too subtle, the producers also gave him a name with a Biblical allusion (the Good Shepherd), a father whose name screams God-figure (Christian Shephard), have him drink from a cup in the garden after submitting his own will to the higher purpose, give him holy wounds in his side in a fight with the Devil, and then have him sacrifice his life for both his friends and enemies. No doubt the producers would have called the character “Jesus Christ” had their lawyers not warned that the name might already be trademarked.
But Joe doesn’t think it ultimately works:
Although the show’s creators recognize the value in having a Christ-figure, they fail to understand the significance and purpose of the actual figure of Christ. They’ve seen the archetype used in movies (e.g., Neo in The Matrix) and literature (e.g., Simon in the Lord of the Flies) and assumed that merely having a Christ-figure in the story was enough to tap into a Jungian collective unconscious. But because they fail to appreciate how the death of Christ affects the metanarrative of history, they do not realize how their Christ-figure is supposed to affect the narrative of their own plot.
Lost replicates many of these tropes (God the Father—Christian Shephard; the created but fallen world—the Island; death of Christ—the sacrifice of Jack; Kingdom of God—the afterlife in the church) but is unable to connect them because of an inadequate concept of sin. . . . The result is that the two primary deus ex machinas of Lost are rendered irrelevant: Where there is no sin there is no need for either Christ or purgatory.
You can read the whole thing here.
Justin Taylor

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eric Clapton - Before You Accuse Me (at Hard Rock Calling)

The Lord of the Rings is about God

Tolkien says he dislikes allegory, and his Christian faith is less apparent in The Lord of the Rings than Lewis’ is in The Chronicles of Narnia. Sometimes you hear people say that its basically a “secular” story which just happened to be written by a Christian. But I’m convinced that his Christian worldview is, in various and sometimes subtle ways, on every single page of The Lord of the Rings. You see it in the songs and poems, the philosophy of history, the ways good and evil are presented, the presence of delight, and the sense of Transcendence in back of it all. I was interested also to see this remark by Tolkien himself in the late 1950′s in response to a review by W.H. Auden, in which he claims not only that his story is about God, but also – strikingly – that Middle-earth is “our habitation:”
“In The Lord of the Rings the conflict is not basically about freedom, though that is naturally involved. It is about God, and His sole right to divine honour. The Eldar and the Numenoreans believed in The One, the true God, and held worship of any other person an abomination. Sauron desired to be a God-King, and was held to be this by his servants; if he had been victorious he would have demanded divine honour from all rational creatures and absolute temporal power over the whole world…. Mine is not an ‘imaginary’ world, but an imaginary historical moment on ‘Middle-earth’ – which is our habitation.”
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter, with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000), 243-244.

Razzle Dazzle

Talking to the World - Keller on a Christian Sexual Ethic

In my reading this past month, I discovered that Immanuel Kant made a case for a Christian sexual ethic but without using any appeal to the Bible or theology. In “Duties Toward the Body in Respect of Sexual Impulse” (Kant, Lectures in Ethics) he argued that sex outside of marriage dishonors human dignity. He reasoned that when you ask for sex without giving your whole self to the other person in marriage (“person, body and soul, for good and ill and in every respect”), you turn the sex partner into an object, a mere means to a selfish end, instead of an end in him (or her) self. Kant’s famous “categorical imperative” was that human beings should never be treated as means, but only as ends. Using only this belief, which is intuitive for many modern people, he argued that you should never have sex outside of marriage.
I compared this with Wendell Berry (in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community and other volumes) who also makes a case for the Christian sex ethic without appealing to overtly religious arguments or sources. Berry says that sex outside of marriage is sex for its own individual fulfillment rather than for building community. That, he argues, is a market-shaped, individualistic, consumerist approach to the human body. Instead, he insists, sex should be only used inside of marriage because there it becomes a nurturing discipline that establishes community, creating the deep stability between parents necessary for children to flourish.
What the two men have in common is that they both start with premises that most modern, secular readers share, but then they use those commonly held beliefs to drive them toward a Christian sex ethic, which has been largely abandoned by most secular people. They do this without appealing to the Bible or to other sources of religious authority.
Does this mean that it is possible to prove Christian morality is true without appealing to the Bible itself? No, I don’t think so. Though Kant believed that reason was all you needed to discover ethical truth, his high view of human dignity still was ultimately a belief. It was not the inescapable conclusion of logic or empirical investigation. And Berry’s appeal to the importance of community over individual freedom is also, in the end, a vision of human flourishing that can’t be proved rationally. Berry’s and Kant’s arguments can’t prove the Christian sex ethic to someone who doesn’t accept their basic premise-beliefs. But if you share those beliefs, then their case is quite powerful.
Here’s what I learn from Kant and Berry. First, there are ways to argue in public discourse for various features of the Christian account of human flourishing without directly appealing to Biblical texts or to God. For example, if I am a Christian in politics, and I am speaking to a body of people who I know will resonate to Kantian views of human dignity or Berryan views of community, then it is possible to make a compelling argument for practices that are rooted in Christian truth. Why? Because people without an overt religious profession still hold many true beliefs about human dignity or community that are spiritually “there” in their souls because they are created in the image of God. We should not be under the illusion that we can “prove” Christianity to secular people however. The compelling nature of our argument relies on discovering the underlying beliefs that a non-believer has that match up with Biblical truth. Only if they grant these beliefs can we make our case.
Second, I find it is often helpful even when preaching to briefly recapitulate arguments such as these from Kant, Berry, and others. Why? The ultimate foundation for what we believe as Christians is the authority of God’s Word, but often the people we preach to are not convinced of the Bible’s complete trustworthiness. Here is an example. I may first present what the Bible says about sexuality. Then I may briefly make a Kantian argument (which C.S. Lewis also makes in Mere Christianity) about how sex outside of marriage de-humanizes or a Berryan one about how it harms community. Then I can add, “These are only some of the terrible results that come from violating God’s design for sexuality. There are certainly many others.” This approach both honors the Bible as the final authority for our lives and draws in listeners who, while not yet sure about the Bible’s inspiration, share the premises of Kant, Berry, or whomever else you use.
I think that in our contemporary society, Christians’ beliefs about sex and gender will be one of the biggest points of conflict with our culture. We will need to co-opt some of our culture’s own baseline narratives (the importance of human dignity and community) in order to gain any hearing at all for our beliefs.
Editor’s Note: This is a cross-post from Tim Keller’s blog at Redeemer City to City.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

James Cotton - The Creeper

Jonathan Edwards on the 4 ways God has been gracious to us

I found that meditating on these 4 ways that God’s grace to us was “great”  really led me to worship. The language is a little old, but it is worth the effort. I added the #’s to help break it up…
The redeemed have all from the grace of God.  It was of mere grace that God gave us his only begotten Son. (1) The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given.  The gift was infinitely previous, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God.  (2) The grace is great in proportion to the benefit He have given us in himThe benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal, misery, and do also receive eternal joy and glory.  (3) The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands.  (4) The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by which a way is made for our having the gift.  He gave him to dwell amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; and in the like through sinless infirmities.  He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but as slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.” (Works 17, 203)

The Smoke Monster Lives On

Realities Indeed

The gospel minister must help his people live well. But more importantly, he must prepare his people to die well. Those of us who are young and healthy can scarcely imagine what comfort the gospel of Jesus Christ provides for dear saints in their dying days.
John Newton tells a story of visiting a young woman who died too soon from “a lingering consumption.” She was wise, but plain. She could read her Bible, but had read little else. Newton supposes she never traveled more than twelve miles from home. A few days before her death, Newton prayed with her and “thanked the Lord that he gave her now to see that she had not followed cunningly-devised fables.” At this last remark the woman repeated Newton’s words and said, “No, not cunningly-devised fables; these are realities indeed.” Then she fixed her eyes steadfastly upon her pastor and reminded him of his weighty vocation.
Sir, you are highly favoured in being called to preach the gospel. I have often heard you with pleasure; but give me leave to tell you, that I now see all you have said, or can say, is comparatively but little. Nor, till you come into my situation, and have death and eternity in full view, will it be possible for you to conceive the vast weight and importance of the truths you declare. Oh! Sir, it is a serious thing to die; no words can express what is needful to support the soul in the solemnity of a dying hour.
Fellow preachers, our people are asking for living bread tomorrow. Do not give them a self-help stone. Our people may not know the weight of which we speak until they come to their end. And at that moment they will be infinitely glad they received ballast instead of blather.
Kevin DeYoung

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sonny Boy Williamson:Your Funeral and my trial

Jessica Turns 19

Taken in the green room

Time for some oil spill perspective

As for the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deserves commendation for reminding everybody over the weekend that off-shore drilling is remarkably safe considering its scope and importance to the nation. There are presently more than 4,000 active rigs employing an estimated 80,000 people on the U.S. outer continental shelf, with the large majority of those operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar said Sunday on Fox News that more than 30,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in the Gulf, and one-third of the oil and natural gas consumed by the United States is produced there. This means off-shore drilling is now and will remain for the foreseeable future a critically important national resource. The interior secretary also noted that the industry "has been conducted in a very safe manner. Blowouts occur but the safety mechanisms have been in place. Why this failed here is something we are investigating." Amazingly, there have been only 41 deaths and 302 injuries in off-shore platform accidents since 2001, according to federal data. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the Daily Beast reveals that off-shore oil rig jobs aren't among the 10 most dangerous jobs, while fishing, sanitation work, and farming are.
From an environmental perspective, off-shore oil drilling is far safer than Mother Nature. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, oil that seeps naturally from the ocean floor puts 47 million gallons of crude into U.S. waters annually. Thus far, Deepwater Horizon has leaked about three million gallons. That sounds like a lot of oil, and it is. But the Exxon Valdez leaked 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Even those figures are dwarfed, according to the Economist, by the amount of oil spilled in man-made disasters elsewhere around the world. Saddam Hussein's destruction of Kuwaiti oil facilities during the Gulf War dumped more than 500 million barrels of crude into the Arabian Gulf. The 1979 blowout of Mexico's Ixtoc 1 well resulted in 3.3 million barrels being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. In short, Deepwater Horizon is an environmental crisis, but not the apocalypse that alarmists claim.

The ascent to morality maturity

C.S. Lewis, closes his essay “Man or Rabbit?” [now published in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970), pp 108–113] with this image:
“’When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away’ [1 Cor 13:10]. The idea of reaching ‘a good life’ without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up ‘a good life’ as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are ‘done away’ and the rest is a matter of flying.”

When They Gonna Wake Up?

What Makes Jesus Marvel?

The word “to marvel” or “to stand amazed” (thaumazo) is pretty common in the gospels. But it’s almost always used in connection with the crowd’s response to Jesus. They are usually the ones amazed or marveling, not Jesus. In fact, there are only two times in the New Testament where Jesus is said to marvel. One is in Mark 6:7 where Jesus marvels at the unbelief in Nazareth. The other occasion is in Luke 7:9 where Jesus marvels at the Centurion and his great faith. These are the only two times we have record of Jesus marveling.
It seems, then, there are two things that make Jesus step back and say “Wow!” 1) Those who believe when it’s not expected they would. 2) Those who disbelieve when there’s every reason they should.
Does Jesus ever marvel at you or me? I think when he sees his people trusting in the midst of extreme suffering, he marvels. When he sees people from the roughest backgrounds come to him with brokenhearted humility, he marvels. When he sees you give up comfort and security for the sake of his kingdom, he marvels.
But on the other hand, I fear he may marvel at us for the wrong reasons sometimes. If I were a teenager or twentysomething I’d hate for Jesus to look at me and think, “Here’s a kid with loving parents, Bible reading at the dinner table, prayers from his whole family, faithful teaching at church, a comfortable home with lots of opportunities and encouragements, and yet this young person wants nothing to do with me. Amazing!” That’s not the amazement you want from Jesus.
I think Jesus marvels at some of us who sit under the preaching of the word and enjoy the fellowship of the saints and know all the Bible stories and still there’s no zeal for Christ, no desire to grow in him, no effort to put him first.
Nazareth is a warning to us. Familiarity can breed spectacular unbelief. The Centurion is a ray of hope: even the unlikeliest among us sometimes believe. In both cases, Jesus marvels.
I’m sure Jesus stands amazed as he looks at the church in North America. I wonder what makes him marvel the most.
Kevin DeYoung

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer - Funny Funny Stuff

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Cold Feeling Blues - Otis Spann and Muddy Waters Band

Obese Government

Indwelling Sin in Believers, by John Owen

John Owen is perhaps the most worthy author of being read in the English language; and the doctrine of indwelling sin in a Christian – what it is and how to fight against it without slipping into legalism or antinomianism – is one of the most crucial topics in practical, twenty-first century Christianity. So then, what would hinder any Christian, young or old, from reading such a helpful-sounding title as Indwelling Sin in Believers, by John Owen? Until recently, the argument could perhaps have been made that Owen's style is just a little too obscure and prolix to be readily accessible to simple believers without a high education or theological training; but with the advent of the new Puritan Paperback, which abridges Owen's classic work and makes it easy to read, the last potential obstacle has fallen away. Christian, if you struggle with sin (and make no doubt, if you don't then you're not a Christian after all), read this book! You may just find it to be one of the most useful books you've read in a good, long while.
I only wish to leave a couple of very brief excerpts from Indwelling Sin, to give the reader the merest hint of how the book deals with what indwelling sin is; why it is important to understand the doctrine; and how the Christian can go about fighting against it. The problem with excerpting Owen, however, is that every sentence is so pithy and full of wisdom that one could judicially excerpt just about the entire work! But if you're going to do that, you might as well just buy the book and be done with it – a solution I hope quite a few of you come to!

What is indwelling sin like? “Throw it off – it will come back. Rebuke it by the power of grace – it withdraws for a while, and then returns. Set the cross of Christ before it – it does as those that came to take him: at the sight of him they went backwards and fell to the ground, but then they rose again and laid hands on him. It gives way for a while, but it soon returns and presses on the soul again. Remind it of the love of God in Christ – though it is stricken, it does not give up. Present hell-fire to it – it rushes into the midst of the flames. Reproach it with its folly and madness – it knows no shame, but presses on still. Let the thoughts of the mind struggle to flee from it – it follows, as though on the wings of the wind. And by this importunity it wearies and wears out the soul, and if the great remedy, Romans 8:3, does not come in time, it gains the victory.” Why is it important to understand this? “The one who understands the evil of his own heart is the only useful fruitful, solid believer. Others are fit only to delude themselves, and to disquiet families, churches, and every association. Let us wisely consider our hearts, and then see if we can be proud of our gifts and graces, and whether we can go and judge, condemn, and reproach others that have been tempted.”
How can the Christian fight against it? “Set your affections on the cross of Christ. This is eminently effective in frustrating the whole work of indwelling sin. The apostle gloried and rejoiced in the cross of Christ. His heart was set on it. It crucified the world to him, making it a dead and undesirable thing (Gal. 6:14). The baits and pleasures of sin are all things of the world, 'the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life'. By these sin entices and entangles our souls. If the heart is filled with the cross of Christ, it casts death and undesirability on them all, leaving no seeming beauty, pleasure or comeliness in them.”
Indwelling Sin in Believers 
Reformation Theology

Scientifically, nothing should exist

I hadn’t realized that science, despite all of the claims that it has all the answers, remains stuck at a very basic conundrum:
Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: why the universe is composed of matter and not its evil-twin opposite, antimatter. If confirmed, the finding portends fundamental discoveries at the new Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, as well as a possible explanation for our own existence.
In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.
Sifting data from collisions of protons and antiprotons at Fermilab’s Tevatron, which until last winter was the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the team, known as the DZero collaboration, found that the fireballs produced pairs of the particles known as muons, which are sort of fat electrons, slightly more often than they produced pairs of anti-muons. So the miniature universe inside the accelerator went from being neutral to being about 1 percent more matter than antimatter.
“This result may provide an important input for explaining the matter dominance in our universe,” Guennadi Borissov, a co-leader of the study from Lancaster University, in England, said in a talk Friday at Fermilab, in Batavia, Ill. Over the weekend, word spread quickly among physicists. Maria Spiropulu of CERN and the California Institute of Technology called the results “very impressive and inexplicable.”
via From Fermilab, a New Clue to Explain Human Existence? –
So it isn’t just that science can’t explain the fine-tuning that makes life on earth possible.  Nor is it that science can’t explain why anything exists.  According to its own theories, nothing CAN exist.
The particle accelerators are making progress, I suppose, finding that matter beats out anti-matter 1% of the time.  But even that means that the standard theory of physics is incorrect.  And a better theory and better evidence still leaves a long ways to go to account for ordinary existence, its structures and its forms, much less life, and much less human life.
Gene Veith

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mississippi John Hurt - Richland Woman Blues

Carole King's cause

Album shows the mind behind the friend of a murderous regime | Arsenio Orteza
The April release of The Essential Carole King (Ode/Epic/Legacy)—a two-disc set supplanting 1978's Her Greatest Hits: Songs of Long Ago and the four compilations that have followed in its wake—will inspire head scratching from anyone familiar with Carole King's left-wing activism.
By "activism" one doesn't mean her support for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, a woman's "right" to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, or for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Celebrity liberals can campaign for such causes in their sleep.
In the case of Carole King, whose 1971 album Tapestry was diamond certified in 1995 to commemorate its 10-millionth sale but, curiously, hasn't sold another million since, activism means her visit to Cuba in 2002 as part of a goodwill delegation, a visit King capped by performing her classic "You've Got a Friend" (track six on The Essential Carole King), hermana a hermano, for Fidel Castro himself.
"The news that King traveled to Havana and serenaded Fidel Castro with 'You've Got a Friend,'" wrote Ninoska Pérez Castellón at the time, "is painful, to say the least."
To say the most, the news was proof that Castro's nearly half-century of brutal tyranny was more acceptable to King than the constitutionally rooted conservatism that she opposed in the United States. Somehow Proverbs 26:6—"He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage"—came to mind.
In its March 2005 "Update on Non-Combat Victims of the Castro Regime," the Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba calculated that the number of firing-squad executions, extra-judicial assassinations, deaths (of political prisoners) in prisons, and Castro opponents who had "disappeared" or were "missing" came to 8,386.
World magazine 

Carole King just another liberal leftist who has reaped the benefits of being born in America and has prospered and enjoys freedom of speech, something she wouldn't have if she lived in Cuba, once again proves that being gifted doesn't make you smart or intelligent. I think Proverbs gets it right, she is a fool.    This article is another reason you need to subscribe to World.

Same Results

Sail into the Storm with all Guns Blazing!

[S]tick with it and sail into the storm with all guns blazing. 'We have to do something, don't we?' NO! In fact that is no longer the question. Now the question becomes, 'What are you going to do now that you don't have to do anything?' Theology based on the [Augsburg Confession] is not interested in 'something'; it is after everything.

A pastor friend related an interesting reaction from a teenager to [this notion]. . . . [I]t seemed to tell him he could do anything he wanted to do! Now what is one supposed to say to that? The most immediate reaction, I suppose, would be to jump in on the defensive and thunder, 'No! No! No!--of course not, you can't do whatever you want to do!'

But think for a moment. Perhaps then the whole battle would be lost. One must sail into the storm. Should one not rather say 'Son, you are right. You got the message. The Holy Spirit is starting to get to you.'

But is that not dangerous? . . . Is it not 'cheap grace'? No, it's not cheap, it's free! 'Cheap grace,' you see, is not improved by making it expensive. . . . It's free. Now free grace is dangerous, no doubt about it. . . . We might not survive such free grace. It might ruin us. But Jesus told us that long ago: 'To him who has, more will be given, but from him who has not, even that will be taken away.'

There is indeed a danger.

--G. Forde, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life (Fortress 1982), 33-34; italics original
Dane Ortlund

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Muddy Waters - You Can't Loose What Your Never Had

The Comfort God Sends

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever."
John 14:16

Here we must note in what a friendly and comforting manner Christ speaks to all poor, saddened hearts and fearful, timid consciences. He shows us how we may truly recognize the Holy Spirit. We must learn to know and believe in the Holy Spirit as Christ describes Him. His is not a Spirit of anger and terror but a Spirit of grace and consolation. We are to know the entire Deity reflects sheer comfort. The Father wants to comfort, for it is He who grants the Holy Spirit. The Son likewise, for He prays for this. And the Holy Spirit Himself is to be the Comforter (Advocate). Here therefore there is no wrath, threat or terror for Christians; there is only a friendly smile and sweet comfort in heaven and on earth.

But we forget. The devil is too powerful among us, the world is too strong, and we see so many obstacles and temptations before us that we forget and cannot comprehend the comfort God sends into our hearts. We feel only that which would hurt us. It is so stromng that it fills one's whole being and erases these words from one's mind.

Therefore Christians should rise above all fear and sadness and hear Christ: "I know this very well and for this very reason I am telling you about it in advance. You should not be guided by such feelings or believe your own thoughts; you should believe My Word. For I will ask the Father and He will surely give you the Holy Spirit to comfort you. Then you can rest assured that I love you, the Father loves you, and the Holy Spirit, who is sent to you, loves you."

Luther's Works 24:103,110-111,114

The Holy Spirit is another Helper not a different Helper. The word another indicates one like myself who will take my place, do my work. The Holy Spirit is a person just like the Father and the Son. He is God the Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. The Spirit is another Paraclete. This term indicates that He is a person who is called to the side in order to help. One Helper is leaving, but he leaves with the purpose of sending another. The first helper, though physically absent, will remain a Helper. He will be their Helper in heaven. The Spirit will be their Helper on earth. The first pleads their case with God. the second pleads God's case with them. Our Helper the Holy Spirit will be with us forever. God is for us, He loves us, He sent His Son to save us and sealed our salvation by sending the Holy Spirit to be with us forever.

You Can't Fix Stupid

Alcohol, Liberty, and Legalism

And here is John Piper, a teetotaller and an advocate of teetotalling, putting his young pastoral ministry on the line at Bethlehem Baptist Church in 1982 in order to argue against a provision requiring teetotalling for church membership
I want to hate what God hates and love what God loves.
And this I know beyond the shadow of a doubt: God hates legalism as much as he hates alcoholism.
If any of you still wonders why I go on supporting this amendment after hearing all the tragic stories about lives ruined through alcohol, the reason is that when I go home at night and close my eyes and let eternity rise in my mind, I see ten million more people in hell because of legalism than because of alcoholism. And I think that is a literal understatement. Satan is so sly. “He disguises himself as an angel of light,” the apostle says in 2 Corinthians 11:14. He keeps his deadliest diseases most sanitary. He clothes his captains in religious garments and houses his weapons in temples. O don’t you want to see his plots uncovered? . . .
Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one.
Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world.
Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one.
Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength.
Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.
Therefore, what we need in this church is not front-end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new creation (a new heart)” (Galatians 6:15; 5:6).
The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations, we will be defeated, even in our apparent success. The only defense is to “be rooted and built up in Christ and established in faith” (Colossians 2:6); “Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11); “holding fast to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together, . . . grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). From God! From God! And not from ourselves.
Justin Taylor

Steve Jobs, iPhones, and Porn

Pete from Grace City has a post about Steve Jobs, Apple, and porn. An excerpt:
Jobs has argued that he wants his portable computer devices to not sell or stock pornography.
When a critic emailed him to say that this infringed his freedoms, Jobs emailed back and told him to buy a different type of computer.
Steve Jobs is a fan of Bob Dylan. So one customer emailed him to ask how Dylan would feel about Jobs’ restrictions of customers’ freedoms.
The CEO of Apple replied to say that he values:
‘Freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’ and some traditional PC folks feel their world is slipping away. It is.’
The interlocuter replied:
“I don’t want ‘freedom from porn’. Porn is just fine! And I think my wife would agree.”
In the most revealing line, Steve Jobs dismissed the critic thus:
“You might care more about porn when you have kids.”
Pause for a moment and consider what the above emails represent.
The CEO of one of the wealthiest, most successful international companies, responds to the email of a customer. Business prospers on the mantra ‘The customer is always right.’ Business wants the customers’ money.
But in this case, over the moral issue of pornography, Jobs is happy to tell customers to buy a different product. He argues that children and innocence ought to be preserved—and that trumps the dollar.
Google (with their motto ‘Don’t be evil’) rake in billions through pornography. Ranks of employees spend their time categorising and arranging advertising for pornography. (I know, I spent some time discussing the difficulties posed to a Christian who worked in their UK HQ.) Pornography is huge business, yet here is the CEO of Apple telling the pornography businesses to take their dollars elsewhere.
Good for Jobs.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that one cannot access such things on an iPhone. If this is a temptation for you, you might want to consider something like the free app, x3watch, recommended by Andy Naselli in his post on filtering software and other apps.
Update: Just remembered a link that might be of interest (though it doesn’t have to do with the issue of porn and Apple.) Here’s an open letter that Josh Harris recently wrote to Steve Jobs, thanking him for his work and inviting him to worship the Savior.
Justin Taylor

Monday, May 17, 2010

Top Ten Ways BP Can Improve Its Image

Late Show Top Ten 
Top Ten Ways BP Can Improve Its Image
10. Change "BP" from "British Petroleum" to "Bunnies and Puppies"
9. Scrap the snotty British accents
8. Cry on "Oprah"
7. Take a page from AFLAC. New mascot: wise-cracking oil-soaked duck
6. Find bin Laden
5. Start making cookies. Who doesn't love cookies?
4. What's wrong with our image?
3. Switch from "Drill, Baby, Drill" to "Help, Daddy, Help"
2. Instead of their image, maybe they can focus on fixing the damn leak!
1. For goodness sakes, get Iron Man to do something!

JEFF BECK and B.B. KING - Key To The Highway

Luther on Faith and Hope

For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Galatians 5:5

Therefore when I take hold of Christ as I have been taught by faith in the Word of God, and when I believe in Him with the full confidence of my heart--something that cannot happen without the will--then I am righteous through this knowledge. When I have been thus justified by faith or by this knowledge, then immediately the devil comes and exerts himself to extinguish my faith with his tricks, his lies, errors and heresies, violence, tyranny, and murder.

Then my battling hope grasps what faith has commanded; it becomes vigorous and conquers the devil, who attacks faith. When he has been conquered, there follow peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Faith and hope are scarcely distinguishable; and yet there is some difference between them.

Therefore faith is like a dialectic, which conceives the idea of all the things that are to be believed; and hope like rhetoric, which develops, urges, persuades, and exhorts to steadiness, so that faith does not collapse in temptation but keeps the Word and holds firmly to it.
Luther's Works 27:23-24

Its Not Working

Simplicity and Trinity

Divine simplicity means that God is not composed of different parts, but utterly whole and indivisible.  Its opposite is not “complex” but “composite.”  To affirm divine simplicity is to affirm that each of God’s attributes is identical with his essence: God is not merely loving and righteous and holy, but Love and Righteousness and Holiness.  Whatever God is, He wholly is.
I used to really struggle to understand how the doctrine of God’s simplicity fits together with the doctrine of the Trinity.  After all, if God has no parts, how can we say that He exists in three Persons?  How is it not inconsistent to affirm both that God has distinct relations within Himself and that He is simple and indivisible?  Lately I have come across some helpful treatments of this problem in some older theologians.
First, Anselm in chapter 23 of Proslogion: “you are so simple that there cannot be born of You any other than what You are.  This itself is the Love, one and common to You and Your Son, that is the Holy Spirit, proceeding from both….  Whatever each is singly, that the whole Trinity is altogether, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; since each singly is not other than the supremely simple unity and the supremely unified simplicity which can be neither multiplied nor differentiated.”
Second, Basil the Great (On the Holy Spirit, 18.23): “how does one and one not equal two Gods?  Because we speak of the emperor, and the emperor’s image – but not two emperors….  Since the divine nature is not composed of parts, union of the persons is accomplished by partaking of the whole.”
And finally, Bavinck (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, 149): “nor is simplicity inconsistent with the doctrine of the Trinity, for the term simple is not an antonym of ‘twofold’ or ‘threefold’ but of ‘composite.’  God is not composed of three persons, nor is each person composed of the being and attributes of that person, but the one uncompounded (simple) being of God exists in three persons.”
These passages have helped me to see not only are divine simplicity and trinity compatible, but they stand in the closest possible relation and inform one another.  The crucial insight that helped remove any sense of inconsistency was seeing that there is a difference between divisions in the Godhead and distinctions in the Godhead.  The Father, Son, and Spirit are not divisions, or composite parts, in the Godhead – they don’t combine together to add up to God.  Its not as though the Father equals 33.3% of God, the Son another 33.3%, and the Spirit the remaining 33.3%.  Rather, the three Persons are distinctions, or relations, in the one God, each one being fully God Himself.  As Anselm puts it: “whatever each is singly, that the whole Trinity is altogether.”  And how is this?  Because of divine simplicity.  If God were divisible, it would difficult not to veer of into tritheism.  But because God has no divisions or parts, the Son who is begotten by the Father is not other than the Father, and the Spirit who is generated from both is not other than the Father or the Son.
In other words, simplicity —> trinity.  Far from the two being incompatible, without simplicity there could be no trinity.  Simplicity is not the enemy of trinity, but its guardian.