Friday, December 30, 2005

How's this for a Resolution?

As I'm reading a commentary in preparation for a paper, I read the following: "James carries forward some of the central aspects of Jesus' message and teaching...This continuity with Jesus' teaching is relatively rare within the New Testament."

I showed kletois this line and he replied, "Are they reading the same leather bound book we read??" And you really have to wonder sometimes what book is being read by some of these guys. Although there is a bevy of evidence that they're reading something—and that's certainly commendable.

Thankfully, while I was writing that paper, I was able to read (and utilize) several other writers who were reading the same book. And more than that they handled the book correctly—which is of vital importance.

Chrysostom, Augustine, Calvin, Owen, Watson, Manton, Boston, Hodge, Thornwell, Ryle, Machen, Moo, Morris—for all the differences that exist between those people, there is one common bond—they're men of the Book. Men who read and handle the Word of God with reverence, respect, and understanding.

We're awash in a culture that hates that Book, and hates those who follow it. That hatred is becoming more and more apparent everyday. Even those who are supposedly on the side of the Church are showing more and more how they're not on our side. It seems every time you turn around another wolf is spotted behind a pulpit, hawking "Christian" wares, deceiving the sheep.

There's precisely one way to eliminate the influence of the wolves. One way to survive the hatred—in all the current and upcoming manifestations. Become people of the Book.

We need to read the Book, study the Book, hear the Book preached responsibly every chance we have. We need to spend time with other people of the Book as models and guides—whether we can only know them in print, or if they're across town.

We have to get into the Book and get the Book into us.

A Year with My Children in the Bible

The clan just finished going through this survey of the Bible--sure, it's a day early, but we did double duty so I could be around for the end. Not the greatest survery of the Bible around, I'm sure--but it's pretty good. Spends too little time on some things, too much on others, in my not so humble opinion. But on the whole, sound, balanced, age appropriate (even good for the 'rents). Got my kids thinking about somethings for sure--things I wouldn't have bothered with (but am glad Cromarty did). I know my quiver liked it--they howled like banshees when we discovered a few days were missing in October (I asked Evangelical Press for the text of those days, knowing that was a long shot--that very day they sent a replacement copy, free--that's customer service).

We ended today with the following reading. Great way to finish off.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21:1-7

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Notes from the Sick Ward

Had really planned on a blog-splosion while I was on break. But got fairly distracted by several things around the house, reading for the Winter Term, and now a cold from h-e-double hockey-stick--which has taken out the whole household (tired would probably insert a covenant-head joke here, but it started with the Princess and then moved on to the Kidney Kid, which is a shame, because his joke would be funny).

Took the Kidney Kid in today, got a steroid shot to help his croup. Seems to be working. He's actually sleeping tonight, as is mommy. That's a major plus.

Have gotten some intersting reading done--many books started, none finished yet. Depending how tomorrow goes, I could have a few knocked off. Have got more sleep in the last few days than I have in the last few months. Very strange experience.

Hopefully will have a few things to say in the next couple of days. And next week--since I will have gobs and gobs of stuff to do, expect me to blog about a bazillion words a day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sounds & a Sight of the Weekend

Things over heard that brought (and still bring) a smile to my face:
Frodo, yesterday morning, "After breakfast, let's play Mario Baseball." He's very excited about the new videogame. Samwise (poster child for video game addiction). "No, I want to play with my Narnia toys." He would only stop playing with those to open packages and eat. The latter was generally forced.

Scribbler to Princess, "Come here and bring Lalanie [Cabbage Patch Doll]. You need to take the adoption oath. Repeat after me...I promise [something, something]..." Princess just stares at her. Scribbler to Lalanie, "Oh, it's okay, Lalanie, I'll love you." Princess giggles, "Mommy, it's just a doll."

Frodo, thanking everybody, making sure his siblings did, too.

The Kidney Kid, giggling. A lot. And then some more.

Image of the day:
I get a blanket from the inlaws, use it for a minute as a pillow as we're watching something on TV.

Here's the catch--it's still in the original packaging as I do that.

The results? here.

The Application of Christ to the Soul

Of all these great doctrinal things, there still remains one lesson to be learned—-how to apply Christ rightly to your soul. Learn that and you have everything. If you have learned this well, you are a great theologian. For the right application of Christ to the sick soul, to the wounded conscience, and the diseased heart, is the fountain of all our felicity, and the well-spring of all our joy., In order to understand how this application operates (provided that you want Christ in your soul), think of what the presence of your soul within you does to this earthly body, to this lump of clay. It is by the presence of the soul that it lives, moves, and feels. As the soul gives to the body, life, movement, and sensation, so Christ does the very same thing to your soul. Have you ever grasped and applied Him to yourself? As the soul quickens the body, so He quickens the soul, not with an earthly or temporal life, but with the life which He lives in heaven. He makes you live the same life which the angels live in heaven. He makes you move, not with worldly motion, but with heavenly, spiritual and celestial motions. Again, He inspires I you not outward senses, but heavenly senses. He works within you a spiritual feeling, that in your own heart and conscience you may find the effect of His Word. Thus by the conjunction of Christ with my soul, I get a thousand times a greater benefit than the body does by the soul, for the body by the presence of the soul gets only an earthly and temporal life, subject to continual misery, but by the presence of Christ in my soul, I see a blessed life, I feel a blessed life, and that life daily increases in me more and more. Therefore the ground of all our perfection and blessedness consists in this conjunction and so even if you lived as long as Methuselah, and spent your whole life seeking, yet if in the last hour you were to get this conjunction, you would think your labour well worth it, for you would have gained enough. If you have gained Christ, you have gained everything with Him. Thus the applying of Christ to your soul is the fountain of all your joy and felicity.

Now let us see how we get this conjunction. This is a spiritual conjunction, hard and difficult to be acquired or procured. How then is it brought about? What are the means God uses in this conjunction, and what are the means man uses in it in order to get Christ, to put Christ Jesus in our soul, and to make Christ Jesus one with us? There is one means employed on God’s part-—God helps us to get Christ; and another means employed on our part. On the part of God, there is the Holy Spirit, who offers the Body and Blood of Christ to us. On our part there must also be a means employed, or else when He offers, we will not be able to receive. Therefore there be faith to our souls to receive what the Holy Spirit offers, to receive the heavenly food of the Body and Blood of Christ. Thus faith and the Holy Spirit are the two means employed in this spiritual and heavenly conjunction. By these two means, by faith and the Holy Spirit, I receive the Body of Christ--The Body of Christ is mine, and He is given to my soul.

--Robert Bruce
"The Lord's Supper in Particular"

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Preach it, Brother Frazz!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What the ... ?

When I got in this morning I had an email waiting for me from my wife, subject line simply saying, "WHAT?" And then there was some nonsense about Johnny Damon signing with the Yankees. I was unusually tired, so I didn't bother to go to and show she'd fallen for some Internet hoax. Puh-leez. The guy's on record (May of this year, in fact).

But no. Johnny Damon is...(oh this is hard to type)...a...a...(be strong, you can say this) a Yankee.

The man has no arm. How is this an improvement over Bernie? Better at offense. We don't need offense...we need defense! You know, getting the ball from the outfield to the men on base quickly...that kind of thing.

This is a bad move. This is a stupid move. Sure, there's a little "in your face" action for the RS Nation (how'd they become a nation anyway? 1 lousy championship in decades and they're a nation??? Oh wait...the Yankees have an Empire. Never mind) This is all about George, his ego and his checkbook. Sorry Joe, sorry Cash. I know, I just know you weren't behind this. I trust you can pick make some lemonade from this lemon.

Okay, okay, he's a great lead-off hitter. Jeter's great at moving guys over a base. So that's going to make things interesting at the top of the order. Good 1-2 combo. I will not complain about that. But gotta be kidding me!

First response at a Yankee messageboard I read from time to time, "Dear *** Noooooo" followed shortly by "It's better than a five year deal" (only four). My favorite response, "instead of 'We're just a bunch of idiots.' he will have to say 'We are just a bunch of consummate professionals.'"

And it's not just Yankee fans saying this, Joy of Sox says:

New York is paying for what Damon was, not what he will be. There can be no doubt that his four years in Boston will turn out to be far more productive than his four in the Bronx.

Damon's the original Idiot, the hirsute anti-Yankee who drilled the grand slam to ice Game 7. Yankee fans hate this guy. Now they have to pretend to like him, just like they're doing with Randy Johnson.
Red Sox Chick opines:
He's a great lead-off hitter. No argument there. But that is pretty much it. Everything else is either bad or annoying and yet the Red Sox fans embraced him. I have a feeling the same won't happen in New York.... Not the team. I mean it's a little lousy for the team...but I'm not worried in that regard. They'll find a centerfielder who can actually throw the ball to the infield.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I got the links to these blogs from my wife's blog. I do not consult these on a regular basis.

Here's what bugs me the most, a few quotes from the new acquisition:
They were coming after me aggressively. We know George Steinbrenner's reputation. [Yeah, heard you say that back in May when discussing your pending Free Agent status. You said you knew they'd come hard and with money and you essentially said "doesn't matter, never gonna happen"]He always wants to have the best players. He showed that tonight. [You arrogant punk!]He and Brian Cashman came after me hard. Now I'm part of the Yankees and that great lineup. We're going to be tough to beat.["We"? "We"? Slow down, kemo sabe. Not sure it's "we" yet. You know how long it took Roger to earn his 'stripes? Took A-Rod longer (some say he hasn't earned 'em yet!) You have no fans in NY. Watch the pronouns, cowboy]
Our policy with the Yankees is to go out and win, and we're going to try to bring another championship to them. They haven't had a championship since Chuck Knoblauch was there when they had a great leadoff hitter so I think the leadoff role has been underappreciated. A good leadoff hitter is tough to find and I think New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game.[Nice bit of analysis re: Knobby--you probably had to pay someone for it, or Cashman told you that little fact. But that kind of pride and aggrandizement belongs in the WWF, not in Yankee stadium. You're a pretty good player amongst some great ones--and in the shadow of greater. Shut up and go tend to your hair-do, caveman]
Ah well, at least I got to read this in a Boston Globe column this morning.
So now your Boston Red Sox have no center fielder, no shortstop, and no first baseman to go along with no Theo Epstein and no clue. It's fair to say this is becoming a winter of discontent in Red Sox Nation. Ben and Jed and Craig and Larry and Tom and John and Crosby, Stills & Nash can spin this anyway they want, but Sox fans can't escape the conclusion that there's chaos at the top. The Josh Beckett trade bought some goodwill and glad tidings, but losing Damon to the Yankees is a devastating blow to the foundation of the Nation.

The Sox won't recover from this one easily. In an already dismal offseason, they've now lost their center fielder and their leadoff hitter. They've also lost a local icon, a rare favorite of teenage girls and fanboy bloggers. Losing Damon hurts them on the field and in the arena of popular opinion. And losing Damon to the Yankees compounds the damage. When Alex Rodriguez got away a couple of years ago, Sox fans were fairly quick to scorn A-Rod and move forward.

Losing Damon won't draw the same reaction. The Idiot center fielder is Johnny Angel with Sox fans and his production in pinstripes will be a personal affront to Red Sox fans around the world.
Schadenfreude may not be nice, but it can be fun.

Prediction: We will get 1-2 good years out of him, and then we'll be right back where we were with Bernie in '04 and '05. The A-Rod deal was over the top (and so far, not really that effective). The Johnson deal was dumb (see this post-season and June-July). This deal was wrong.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Few Comic Strips for your Perusal

Not sure how many of you read Boondocks, but it's frequently hilarious (and fairly thought provoking). Incidentally, Cartoon Network's new animted show based on the strip is pretty good, too. Anyway, last week's story arch was fantastic: great job showing the unusual mix between Santa and Christ that happens all too easily in our culture: Monday's is a must read; Tuesday's starts to take it in a different direction; Wednesday's is freakishly perceptive--how many kids have this understanding?; Thursday's and Friday's get a bet pedantic; and Saturday's brings us back to Tues. ending the story perfectly.

Partially Clips
("a web comic for grownups")--is usually worth a read, but Ordering Soda is a classic.

And if you haven't stumbled across The Pet Professional yet...give it a look, probably best to start at the beginning.

Big News

Haven't had much to say the last few days, not sure why. But hopefully that'll change over the next few.

When I got home from work tonight (technically, this morning) I had waiting for me some big news. I'm a commissioner to this year's General Assembly of the OPC. [gulp] Downside: another week away from wife and kids. Upside: get to see presbyterianism in action at the broadest level, and get to play my small part. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

2005 in Review

Back in college I picked up a book by James Lileks, Notes of a Nervous Man or something. Struck me as sort of a poor man's Dave Barry (my estimation at the time). Don't get me wrong, I liked it. A shadow of Barry is still better than just about anything. Anyhow, mostly lost track of him right after that.

Stumbled on to him a time or two since online, but didn't seem to be as funny as that book. But thankfully, Not So Fast pointed me to his year in review for 2005: A 2005 Rollick. Couple of highlights:

Pope John Paul II dies. To the horror of many, his successor turns out to be Catholic.

John Bolton is nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N., despite his moustache.

The 1,587th death in Iraq provokes no major display of eye-catching graphics in the Western media, as it is not a round number.

Harriet Miers is nominated for the Fairfax school board. No, wait—the Supreme Court. ...Miers’s nomination is withdrawn after it is revealed she was actually a cyborg, sent from the future by Karl Rove’s son to revitalize the conservative base. She is disassembled and put in storage.
Just a couple, the rest is well worth reading....

Isn't it Ironic, Don't Ya Think?

McDonald's too tempting for WTO protesters

McDonald's, the very symbol of globalisation, is used to having its windows broken during violent protests at World Trade Organisation (WTO) summits, but not in Hong Kong where one group met for breakfast on Thursday.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Finished with my Hermeneutics final about an hour ago. Am free to hang out with the family and read what I want 'til Jan. 3 (minus a couple days with the family for travel, etc.).

This term was a lot more draining for me than the last couple--odd, because my responsibilities at church were lessened, my work hours were a little shorter. Oh well. It's over, praise the Lord. Now I can prepare for what's coming.

Will try to blog something more, um, material tomorrow. Sorry cent, know you hate these "this is where I am" posts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Must Read

A Healthy Church: How the congregation becomes--and stays--healthy. An interview with Mark Dever, who despite being a baptist, is always worth listening to.

h/t: Reformation21's Blog. Speaking of Reformation21, I'm very glad to read Carl Trueman whenever he talks about Camille Paglia as he did yesterday. I became a Paglia fan (well, not really fan, but that'll do for now) back in college, and had always felt guilty about it. But I figure if a TR guy like Trueman can like her (for most of the reasons I do--esp. share his last), hey a little less guilt in my life today. :)

Housekeeping Tip of the Day

When making coffee, it's a good idea to put the carafe in its place before turning on the machine and heading off to sort through laundry. Failure to do so will result in a large, hot mess.

And you'll waste a cup or two of coffee.

Now, I really don't think I can be held morally culpable here...I hadn't had my first cup of the day yet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Death du Jour

Just to get my brain working again after being spent on my term paper and a series of exhortation in which I covered the major portions Philippians (pretty much anyway, one or two more and I'd be completely satisfied), I needed to read a novel. Preferably mystery. Inspired by Bones to try out Kathy Reichs' mystery novels I wanted to go back to the beginning, Déjá Dead--I hate jumping into a novel series mid-stream. I will do it, but I'll hate it. Of course, the local library's copy was out last week, so I settled with book two, Death du Jour--close enough to the beginning.

First thing that hit me--the Temperance Brennan of Reichs' novels is not Bones' Temperance Brennan aside from the name and occupation. That fact kept hitting me over the head for the first 200 +/- pages. And not like RBP's Spenser isn't Spenser: For Hire. This woman is older (well, duh, Fox isn't going to center a new show around a middle-aged woman)--but this woman has a kid in college, not only gets pop culture references, she makes them. The character as a whole is different. (and don't get me started on Andrew Ryan vs. Seeley Booth)

I was finally able to get that out of my mind (which is part of the reason I'm cutting that previous paragraph short, I had a pretty good list going there). It took me awhile, but I came to sorta like this version of Tempe (from here on out, on the Noise book Brennan=Tempe, TV Brennan=Bones, assuming I remember that, and assuming I ever read another one). Not so sure I liked Tempe's family (too cliché), her attachment to her cat (makes me yearn for something stable, like Susan Silverman's attachment to Pearl), the way that everything she did during the course of the novel was directly associated with everything else (sorry, slight spoiler). Her fans might celebrate that as complexity, I call it laziness.

Now, I'm not against writers having similar themes going on in what appear to be unrelated storylines. But if apparently unrelated storylines turn out to be all one huge convoluted storyline--you'd better make me believe it was possible. More coincidences in this book than most Dickens novels. So in Canada we have: the nun that was doing some documentary help on a consultation case, a arson-murder Tempe helps on, a professor she talks to about the first case (oh, and the prof happens to have the nun's niece working for her). In Texas Tempe's sister Harry takes some seminar at a junior college. In South Carolina Tempe's old buddy Sam who runs a wildlife refuge (of sorts) that she takes her daughter to for a paper the kid has to write is in the same county as some others tied into the arson-murder, and some bodies end up being found at the refuge. And every single one of these things is related to every single other in one huge, nation-wide plot.

Thankfully there's this forensic anthropologist that can put it all together--after fixating on a few red-herrings. But thankfully she has a dream that helps out.

Oh please.

The writing was at times clever, at times it felt like she was trying to hard. Gerald So said that the little of Reichs he'd sampled struck him as "common slightly overwritten thriller." Slightly overwritten pretty much nails it. The sex-scene, or almost sex-scene was filled with much too much detail. Not writing as a prude, just someone who doesn't need that much filled out. Robert B. Parker can do more in 3 brief paragraphs on that topic than she did in her 2-3 very detailed pages.

That level of detail was also there in describing the bodies, in describing what insects do to cadavers (this is why I'm glad Gideon Oliver's bodies are usually skeletons--no insects), etc. Sometimes felt over the top, a little gratuitous. But hey, she's a scientist (a "squint" as Booth would say), let her strut her stuff.

On the whole, it was a good read--a little longer than I figured it'd take. I'm not rushing out to get number 3 (or number 1 if it happens to be in), definitely not adding her to my "to buy" list. But, satisfying read.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fighting the lesser angels of my nature

Tomorrow morning's exhortation is on Phil 3:12-21 (or maybe just 16, still not sure). Anyhow, in one of those last second bursts of inspiration, I accidentally typed something that made me think of Cake's "The Distance." So now, as I work away on my notes about Paul's single minded pursuit of his goal, I keep thinking of using lines like

He's racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse.
He's going the distance.
He's going for speed.
The green light flashes, the flags go up.
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
Their prowess is potent and secretly stearn.
I know I shouldn't, on so many levels, I'm fully aware I need to avoid it.

The question is, will I?

In the doghouse

Well took the niece, the Mrs., and Frodo, Sam and the Princess to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last night (review to come). Left the Kidney Kid home with my sister.

I don't think he's forgiven me for that. He likes his auntie well enough in a group, but solo...he's not so sure about.

Well, apparently, his little brain has decided that this was my plan. It was all my doing. So all morning long, he's put extra effort into showing affection to everyone else, and is doing his best to ignore me (and his best is pretty good). I know there are Christian parents out there who are horrified--and will be more horrified when I say I'm doing absolutely nothing to correct him. Giving him a few opportunities to come say hi, etc. But I know this is the only way he can express himself, so I'm letting him do so.

LOL. Just as I'm about to post this he comes over to show me a picture he colored. I asked for a hug and he took two steps toward me, and then stopped and turned his back. Oh yeah, there's a grudge there.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Great Moments in Science

Coke to launch coffee-infused Coke Blak

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO - news), the world's No. 1 soft drink company, on Wednesday said it will launch a coffee-infused soft drink called Coca-Cola Blak in various markets around the world in 2006.

The new drink, a combination of Coca-Cola Classic and coffee extracts...

Call to the Cross

Nothing is so incongruous in a Christian, and foreign to his character, as to seek ease and rest; and to be engrossed with the present life is foreign to our profession and enlistment. Thy Master was crucified, and dost thou seek ease? Thy Master was pierced with nails, and dost thou live delicately? Do these things become a noble soldier? Wherefore Paul saith, "Many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Since there were some who made a pretense of Christianity, yet lived in ease and luxury, and this is contrary to the Cross: therefore he thus spoke. For the cross belongs to a soul at its post for the fight, longing to die, seeking nothing like ease, whilst their conduct is of the contrary sort. So that even if they say, they are Christ’s, still they are as it were enemies of the Cross. For did they love the Cross, they would strive to live the crucified life. Was not thy Master hung upon the tree? Do thou otherwise imitate Him. Crucify thyself, though no one crucify thee. Crucify thyself, not that thou mayest slay thyself, God forbid, for that is a wicked thing, but as Paul said, "The world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world." (Gal. vi. 14.) If thou lovest thy Master, die His death. Learn how great is the power of the Cross; how many good things it hath achieved, and doth still: how it is the safety of our life. Through it all things are done. Baptism is through the Cross, for we must receive that seal. The laying on of hands is through the Cross. If we are on journeys, if we are at home, wherever we are, the Cross is a great good, the armor of salvation, a shield which cannot be beaten down, a weapon to oppose the devil; thou bearest the Cross when thou art at enmity with him, not simply when thou sealest thyself by it, but when thou sufferest the things belonging to the Cross. Christ thought fit to call our sufferings by the name of the Cross. As when he saith, "Except a man take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. xvi. 24.), i.e. except he be prepared to die. -- John Chrysostom, Homily on Philippians iii. 18–21. Emphasis mine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Our faith is built upon

On my way to look at something else today, I skimmed through a part of a sermon by John Owen called "The Testimony of the Church is not the Only nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God." (try fitting that on a readerboard today!) Couple of paragraphs struck me as worth repeating (well, all of it did, but these particularly.

Our faith is built upon no worse a bottom than the infinite veracity of Him who is the truth itself, revealing himself to us in the Scripture of truth, and not on the sandy foundation of any human testimony: — it leans upon God, not upon men; upon "Thus saith the LORD," not, "Thus saith the church." Though we despise not the true church, but pay reverence to all that authority wherewith God hath vested it, yet we dare not set it up in God’s place. We are willing it should be a help to our faith, but not the foundation of it; and so should do its own office, but not invade God’s seat, nor take his work out of his hands: that would neither be for his glory nor our own security. Our faith is a better than such an one would be: we receive it not from churches, from popes, from councils; but from God himself, that cannot lie to us, and will not deceive us. If we are beholden to men, parents, ministers, etc., for putting the Bible into our hands, and directing us to the Scripture; yet when we read it, hear it opened, and are enlightened by it, and see what a spirit there is in it; when the word enters into us, as the sunbeams into a dark room, and gives us light, Psalm 119:130; when we see its excellency, are ravished with its beauty, taste its sweetness, feel its power, admire its majesty; when we find it to be such a word as searcheth our hearts, judgeth our thoughts, tells us all that is within us, all that ever we did in our lives, John 4:29, awakens our consciences, commands the most inward spiritual obedience, sets before us the noblest ends, and offers us the most glorious reward, — an unseen one, — an eternal one; — then we come to acknowledge that of a truth God is in it, — no mere creature could be the author of it. And so we believe it, not because men have ministerially led us to the knowledge of it, or have persuaded or commanded us to receive it, or told us it is of God; but because we ourselves have heard and felt him speaking in it. The Spirit shines into our minds by the light of this word, and speaks loudly to our hearts by the power of it, and plainly tells whose word it is; and so makes us yield to God’s authority. Take a Christian whose faith is thus bottomed, and overturn it, if you can: — you must first beat him out of his senses, — persuade him he hath no eyes, no taste, no feeling, no understanding, no affections, no reflection upon himself, no knowledge of what is done in his own soul, and so, indeed, that he is not a man, but a brute or a stock, — ere ever you can persuade him that the Scripture is not the word of God.
Our faith being built upon the truth of God himself, and our comfort upon our faith, so long as our foundation remains immovable, we need not fear our superstructure. If our faith have good footing, our hopes and comforts will keep their standing. Faith in the promises is that from whence all the comfort of our hearts, and our "rejoicing in hope of the glory of God," doth proceed, Romans 5:2. A Christian’s joy, "is joy in believing;" and his peace, "the peace of God," Philippians 4:7; and his comforts, the comforts of the Holy Ghost: but this can never be, if our faith be founded immediately on the testimony of men, and not of God; or if we believe the promises of the word to be made by God, because men tell us he made them. So long as we hold to the "sure word," 2 Peter 1:19, we have sure hopes and sure comforts, and no longer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Gathering Forsaken

Mega-Churches like Willow Creek Community Church, Mars Hill Bible Church, Fellowship Church near Dallas, are canceling their worship services on December 25th. And many of those who aren't canceling, are "scaling back" their services. I read this on World's Blog this morning and was floored. Which shifted quickly into, "of course, what did I expect." I've wavered between anger and mourning the rest of the day when I think about it.

It's not just the big nasty evangsell-outs thinking this way. Had one member of my church speak to me in shock and awe that we're going to have our two regular services that day. I did restrain myself and spared that person a tongue lashing--growth in sanctification on my part. (incidentally, our pastor won't be doing one of the two typical Reformed Christmas Sermons: something about the birth of Christ or something about 'what place has Christ with Belial?'--we'll be getting whatever passage is next in his series in Luke and 1 Samuel. YAY)

I realize I'm way behind the curve, as the Jollyblogger pointed out--the blogosphere is full of denunciations of this. But I wanted to vent a little myself. BTW, before I forget, I share ol' Jolly's recommendation of: Public Worship to Be Preferred Before Private by David Clarkson and had considered keeping a handful of copies on my person to hand out to anyone else at church who are in the same boat with the previously mentioned congregant.

I remember a few years ago when I said something to a fellow church member about seeing him on that Lord's Day (happened to be Easter) and he said, "Probably not, going to mother-in-law's to see her church's Easter cantata--it's a day to be with family." Now, as one who sees each and every Lord's Day as THE day to celebrate the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of our Lord, I didn't care for this at all. But even if I was one of those (IMHO) misguided and superstitious ones who put a mystical and/or religious significance to Easter/Christmas, I think I would realize that those are the days you should be with your spiritual family celebrating in the presence of the One Whom the "holiday" is supposedly about! That was bad enough to leave a nasty taste in my mouth for about 7 years (really don't hold anything against this person, just his thinking). But what we have here is a totally different animal.

As Dennis Miller used to day, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but this is worse. What we have here is a denial of the means of grace on the part of behalf those are entrusted to.

This is sin. This is a wide-spread case of shepherds deserting their flock (in effect)--albeit for "one week only." Sure, we read that Christians are to "not [neglect] to meet together, as is the habit of some." But apparently, these ordained servants of God, leaders of the church, think that it's okay to deny the brethren the meeting! And for a silly, fluffy excuse that "people need to be with their families" or "It's more than being family-friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy." (this from Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson). Sin almost seems like too kind a word for this skubalon.

All over this world, there are Christians who gather for worship, wondering if today's the day that the machine gun-toting soldiers come marching in to take them away. But they gather. They sing. They pray. They hear preaching.

But here, in this "blessed land" we'll call off services--not so that members don't have to worry about being killed, imprisoned, raped or sold into slavery. But so they can sit around a tree in their pj's, sipping hot cocoa with their family to a Bing Crosby soundtrack.

God have mercy on us all.

Wasted Money -- Sky High

Rented Sky High Friday night. Kids really enjoyed it. Frodo loved it. Has asked to watch it again. If I let him, he'd squeeze in 3 more times (at least) before I return it tomorrow. Which means I'm going to have to buy the thing--which I almost did Friday before opting to "save money" and rent. So now I'm out purchase price and rental fee.

Russel was good, Mrs. Travolta (don't care enough to look up the name) was good, kids were pretty good for kid, Campbell went out and did is thing well, Lynda Carter was almost as good as she could've been, Foley was great, as was fellow Kid in the Hall ol' whathisname. Plot was predictable but good, some really funny moments. Good family fun, well's not The Incredibles, but it ain't FF either.

handful of things to read

  • Republicanism in decline - by the hero of today, Tony Snow
    When Democrats gibber about Republicans' writhing in a culture of corruption, they're on to something -- but not what they think. The Republican Party in Washington is in trouble not because it's overrun by crooks, but because it's packed with cowards -- and has degenerated into a caricature of the party that swept to power 11 years ago promising to take on the federal bureaucracy and liberate the creative genius of American society.
  • Don't Bend The Wire
  • Machen's Judicial Philosophy
  • If we want to restore respect for human laws, we shall have to get rid of this notion that judges and juries exist only for the utilitarian purpose of the protection of society, and shall have to restore the notion that they exist for the purposes of justice.
  • for a few days I've been wanting to write a summary, response, and hip-hip-hooray for Carl Trueman's Review of Is the Reformation Over? I've decided to go quicker: whoo-hoo! go read this!
  • Of Diapers and the Pleasure of God: A Christian View of Parenting
  • Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen: ten years after
  • It's been ten years???
    Dr. Bahnsen's life was like a large rock splashing in a quiet mill pond. Although the splash was over only too quickly, the rippling waves of good will wrought by him living his life and ministry, shall continue to make their way toward the hopeful shore.
    "while he was one of the keenest minds in the world of Christian apologetics, he had a gentle heart and always stressed love in 'the battle.' His Legacy is in the spirit of the Bereans."
    Dr. Bahnsen was among a special breed of men whose very heartbeat seemed destined to motivate and inspire others. I am not myself of that gracious calling, but I know that sort of leadership when I see it, and can't help but to cleave to and reverence it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Creed IV

For those of you in the sloughs of despond that you won't be able to hear a fourth album from Creed given their break up. What would things sound like following Weathered?

I've got a pretty good idea: The Great Divide. I honestly feared it would be: a. 12 songs in the vein of "With Arms Wide Open" or whatever that pablum was Stapp offered to The Passsion album b. an attempt to go pop. Thankfully, it was neither. There are a couple of tracks that just didn't work, and I trust the collaborative process involved in a band would've kept him from trying a couple things (not going to list examples, because I left the CD in the van). And I'm honestly not sure if he was just this guy coming to a record company w/o his sales record he'd have gotten a deal.

But this isn't supposed to be a slam--having listened 3-4 times through, there are a copule tracks I can sing a long to--some catchy stuff. On the whole, I like the album, and if he gets to make Creed V and develop things on his own a bit, I'll be there.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Haaaaave you met Ted?

Why did I feel like Doogie Howser after hitting "publish" on that last post?

Speaking of Neil Patrick Harris, love what he's doing as Barney on How I Met Your Mother. It's legen...wait for it...and I hope you're not lactose-intolerant 'cause the second half of that word is...dairy!

You ever have one of those days...

This day did not get off to an auspicious start. Limped (literally) back into the house about 2:45--shift went long, first night w/o my ankle splint (not the right night to try that)...tired after a week of constant writing.* As kletois and my wife who had to deal with my ranting about the piss-poor management currently running things at the store can testify, I was a little ticked off.

With little time left, I try to wrap up my notes for the Sunday School class on the histories of the OT and NT texts, as well as a much needed edit on my sermon (pastor's still on vacation). Run out of gass quickly and crash hard.

Handful of minor crisis (some significant) await me on the other side of consciousness, so my still-foul mood has turned to something worse. And sure, at this point there's no reason for my mood to be foul, but it is.

And then...

Sunday School went better than I expected. The sermon, honestly not sure what others thought, but I liked it. Was far less dependent upon my notes than I normally am (part of that is due to the fact I hadn't, y'know, actually written any notes for part of it other than "say something about X" before I'd fallen asleep). So by the end of the service, I'd managed to take my eyes off myself and put them back where they were supposed to be.

And then...
A couple of older ladies stayed longer than they normally would 'til I got done fussing with this and that to clean up, just so they could tell me how much I've improved in my preaching. That floored me. These women aren't exactly effusive in their compliments--you get a "that was good" from them, and want to buy a round for everyone in the bar (y'know, if you were in one). I'll be honest with ya, all the mental exhaustion, remnants of the bad attitude, all that...gone. kaput. vanished.

It's really amazing what a kind word can do. I hope I expressed myself well enough when I thanked them for their encouragement--they made my month.

*oh, okay, it was more like constant staring at a screen, sometimes interrupted by brief bursts of typing