Thursday, December 31, 2009
We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is "of him." If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other. (Inst. 2.16.19)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
On with the story, The song named after Good King Wensaslas was written by J. M. Neale (1818-1866). It has nothing to do with Christmas really, but is based on a story about Wenceslas who befriended a peasant. This poor peasant lived on the edge of a forest and so touched the good king, that he felt impelled to give this poor man a pine log. Now why a peasant would need a pine log is not told. But logic would tell me that probably the forest belonged to the king and anyone who chopped down the kings trees could probably have his head chopped off...or something like that, I surmise.
Nor is there any explanation of the footprints in the snow. But the verse I find interesting is the reference to Steven. What was this "feast of Stephen?" Those of us in the "free church" tradition relegate saints to a dusty corner of our library shelves, but most of Christendom has celebrated this "Feast of Stephen" from the earliest centuries. It is also known as Boxing Day in Europe and England and is celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on December 27 instead of today. It was a day when gifts were gathered and given to the poor, hence, Boxing Day. And since Stephen was noted for his ministry to the helpless in the New Testament he is honored with this tradition.
The other thing we know about Stephen is that he was the first martyr of the church. But why in heaven's name do we celebrate this event the day after Christmas? Well, here's where tradition and the teaching ministry of the ancient church kicks in. One of the teachings of the church down through the centuries has been that Jesus, the babe born in Bethlehem, was born to die. He came to this earth, lived 30 or so years, and then fulfilled his destiny on the Cross in a horrible execution. His life was given in order that we might live. The sin that broke our relationship with God with Adam and Eve was forever destroyed by the death of Christ so that we can have eternal life with God. That has been the teaching of the Church.
And what the church wanted to show was that we too, who have been redeemed by Christ, also go through hardship. What the church is telling us is that the message of Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection is filled with similarities for us. Jesus himself warned,
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you...Remember the word I said to you; a servant is not greater than his master: If they persecuted me they will persecute you."
This has been the story of Christianity from day one. Good old St. Augustine said, "Every age is an age of martyrdom...Don't say that Christians are not suffering persecution; the Apostle's words are always true...: All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3:12) All, with no one being excluded or exempted. If you want to test the truth of this saying, you only have to begin to lead a pious life and you will see what good reason he had for saying this."
Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you."
St. John Chrysostom, the great preacher of the fourth and fifth century wrote: "Don't say that they didn't suffer, but that they rejoiced to suffer. We can see that by the use to which they instantly put their freedom: immediately after the flogging they gave themselves up to preaching with wonderful zeal."
Today, persecution still goes on. Look at the house churches in China. Weep over the Christian Palestinian, Arab, Jordanian churches and all of the churches in the middle Eastern region who are suffering at the loss of their pastors and churches due to persecution. Many of these poor folks have suffered horrible crimes perpetrated against them. And remember, war has also brought pain and suffering to these folks. Yes, even some of our own bombs.
Persecution goes on around the world. It may be the greatest argument for the sinful state of man that I know. Man needs a saviour. I know, I know, this is a message that falls on many deaf ears. But folks, how many of you are suffering from isolation for your faith? The words of Jesus are being fulfilled in our own country. Christianity is still, the most hated and despised religion in the world. How many news reports have you heard about complaints about crosses in public places or in places that can be seen by the public? How many displays of the 10 commandments are pushed into the shadows?
How many of your friends have ignored you on Facebook because you are open in your faith? What about those subtle little references like, "Oh, you STILL believe in a God and go to Church? How ignorant you are to be call yourself a Christian.
Now to be honest, those of us in the church have earned a lot of that scorn for trying to be something we aren't to take credit for the piety we exhibit. But the fact remains, there is a concerted effort to push Christianity back into the home and out of the public sphere. Oh, we can celebrate the muslim days, or the Jewish days, or push all kinds of new age spirituality on the unsuspecting public, but God forbid you wear a cross to work or have picture of Christ in you cubicle at work.
We can be encouraged, and in some companies, compelled to take meditation courses or new age self help classes at work but God help you if you want to have a private Bible Study or Prayer Group in your office. Why, that's a violation of church and state. I'll use my favorite theological term. HOGWASH!!
Face it folks, Christianity will never be popular. I don't care how much you try to package it into theatrical productions, the majority will ignore anything that bases its foundation on the message of the cross of Christ. And as time goes on and our nation sinks more and more into apostasy, we'll be the pariahs of humanity. As long as our churches continue to try to make our services more and more like the local nightclub we'll continue the downwards slide.
The church of Jesus Christ is different. It is counter cultural. It is not like the rest of the world. It is a haven for the lost. A hospital for sinners. Sinners belong in the church because that is where Christ is. He loves sinners. We are all sinners and if we Christians will finally admit to that and realize Jesus Christ is the source of our hope, love and living, then we'll quit trying to be Christians and instead let the Grace of Christ make us the kind of people he wants us to be.
So on this day of St. Stephen, take heart. If you are suffering, your consolation is in Jesus. Your suffering may not end until death, but you will have the hope of his presences with you daily and for eternity. Sing the song Good King Wenceslas on this day and remember Stephen who showed us the cost of being a Christian. It's a life from the cradle to the cross.
One final word. I know some of you will be appalled by what I've just said. Yes, I actually agree with you. The Cross is ugly, was then and is now. Suffering is awful and not to be desired. But it's life. And how you decide to live that life depends on whether you are willing to obey Christ by trusting in him as your Savior.
God bless you and have a Joyous Christmas Season...yes..the season extends into January. And have a blessed New Year.
Good King Wencelas
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel
"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."
"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather
"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."
In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
A Christmas Prayer
On that holy night,
God took a handful of humanity:
Proud, petulant, passionate;
And a handful of divinity:
Undivided, inexpressible, incomprehensible:
And enclosed them in one small body.
Somehow, the all too human
Touched the divine.
And was not vaporized.
To be human was never the same,
But forever thereafter,
Carried a hint of its close encounter with the perfect.
and forever thereafter,
God was never the same,
But carried a hint of the passion of the mortal.
If God can lie down in a cattle-trough,
is any object safe from transformation?
If peasant girls can be mothers to God,
Is any life safe from the invasion of the eternal?
If all this could happen, O God,
What places of darkness on our earth
are pregnant with light waiting to be born this night?
If all this could happen, O God,
Then you could be, and are, anywhere, everywhere,
Waiting to be born this night in the most
Perhaps even in our own hearts. Amen.
Ian Oliver serves as pastor fo the University Church, Yale University
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
But, there were some foundations laid that have carried me through all my rabbit trail theologies. One of those foundations was that there is only one message we have as Christians and that is Christ and the Good News of his victory over death through his death, burial and resurrection. Paul the Apostle said, I preach Christ and him crucified. He said, "For me, to live, is Christ."
It wasn't about Paul, it was about Jesus Christ. It wasn't about what Paul did or didn't do. It was about Jesus Christ working and living and loving through Paul. Christ and the cross was the source of everything in Paul.
So that is the first foundation stone I've always believed in my Christian life. Now, have I lived that? No. All too often I've tried to be rather than obey. Did you get that? When Christ is not the foundation of our life, we try to do something to become like Christ rather than letting HIM be the source of my being. If I focus on being all I can be, I end up with a false works gospel. If Christ is my life then I become like him by his action in my life. He provides the faith to obey. He provides the ability to become what I am and he provides the action to do what he commands.
The second foundation stone I've never abandoned was a firm belief and trust in the validity and authority of the Holy Scripture, The Bible. I believe in the verbal, plenary (complete), inspiration of the Scriptures as given to the authors and assembled by the church. My trust is in what we Protestants hold to as the 66 books of the Bible. As for the Deutero-canonicals, I agree they are important and valid for study, but lack the authority of the rest of the sixty-six books. I firmly hold to what the leaders of the Reformation taught, Sola Scriptura. I know the doctrine of Sola Scripture is debated but I'll just let the debaters debate. I'm not into that dog hunt. It's not up for debate with me.
Now what has all that got to do with me. Well, here's where my use of the term curmudgeon comes that I referred to on Facebook the other day. I'm getting sick and tired of watching the church descend into a works theology. I studied Catholicism for ten years and came to the conclusion it was largely a salvation by works theology. Despite all their protestations to the otherwise, that is the fact. They have confused the works of salvation and sanctification and made them mean the same thing. I fear we Protestants are headed in the same direction.
When I came out of the bins of Catholic theological studies, blew off the dust and brushed the cobwebs of history off my clothes, and stepped into the sunshine of the twenty-first century, I was blinded by what I saw. I had to rub my theological eyes and put on sunglasses to see more clearly what was going on. And what I saw confused me at first, but then as my eyes adjusted I began to wonder, "What is this church I've claimed to be a member of all my life?"
Oh, I've been faithfully attending church, gleefully participating, grousing about cosmetic changes, but mostly chalking it up to my growing older and less flexible. But I'm an introvert and love studying, so I started reading again. And boy, did I get an education. New terms I'd never heard of like, Emergent Church, Emerging Church, Life style evangelism, Ten steps to Holiness sermons, How To Be All You Can Be programs. I heard preached Be The Real You if you just do...You fill in the blank.
I sat back and scratched my bald head and thought...man...what is this. I just left this stuff behind in the church history section of my library. It's the same mistake the Catholic church made, only now in new terminology. And then to boot, I see syncretism seeping into the old theologies with ancient Bhuddist and Hindu practices of meditation being practiced. The reason given is that this is how the early Christian fathers practiced their faith.
In a strong theological term...BALONEY!!! I don't know of any early church father who practiced Bhuddist practices. Yes, they practiced contemplation and meditation, but I just don't see where far Eastern practices were a part of their worship. I know some of my Reformed brethren may disagree with me here because any form of contemplation is held in suspect by many of them. But trust me, I've done my homework on this. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.
But back to my main point. Go online and read through the titles of most of the sermons you find. How many emphasize some kind of verbal statement like, what must I do, or How to (you fill in the blank)? Or "You Can Be A Better Saint by...." Or, Six Ways to Become..., or How to Pray? Or "You Can Be A Better Saint by..." I saw one today called Red Neck Christmas. The lead line was, "We Must Understand God's Holiness and Admit Our Sinfulness"
Now, that sounds innocent enough and it may be a good sermon. But if the lead verb is "I must" or "I need to" rather than how Christ does his work in us to accomplish what we are to be, then you've entered a works theology. And that is a false theology.
Pay attention to what is being preached in your service this Sunday. Make a list. How long did it take for the pastor to say Jesus? Do you know I've sat through an entire sermon without hearing the word Jesus once? What is the lead verb in the message or points of the message? Is it Jesus doing something or is it what you must do or can be? Is the work of the cross in relation to the subject ever discussed? Did you know the cross is swiftly becoming the most despised word in Protestant preaching? (An aside, is it even present in the place of worship) Did you know the cross is off limits because many pastors and church leaders believe that it's too offensive to the one visiting for the first time?
Well, shut my mouth! That sounds like something I read in I Corinthians 1:18 about the cross being foolishness. So, what's new? Of course the cross is foolishness and offensive. But without the cross, we have no message.
Let me expand on one of my questions regarding verbs in the sermon. Is Jesus the subject of the verbs. If he isn't you may have a salvation by works statement or sermon. And here is a bigger question. Are they verbs of Jesus or verbs of pop-psychology?
We are having more sermons based upon psychology than Bible. And that is dangerous. I think, far too often, topics germane to psychology are brought to a text and the text becomes the foundation of the topic brought to it. That is, in my way of thinking, a misuse of scripture. As it's been said often, "A text taken out of context is a pretext". I'm hearing a lot of pretext sermons today. And our people are hurting for it.
Biblical ignorance is at an all time high today. The Bible is no longer given the respect it once had. Church has become a country club rather than a gathering around the altar, the word and sacrament. It's time we return to the preaching of the cross and how Christ is our source of becoming, the one who is the source of our value, love and strength. I believe the most powerful way we can do this is to bring back the readings in the services of the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, Gospel and the creeds. When done right, you give the congregation a foundation of belief that provides a source of strength for every day.
One other point and I'm done with being the curmudgeon...at least for today. I want to harp on Discipleship for a moment. We are being bombarded today with the phrase, "Jesus-Follower." People are dropping the word Christian because it is so misunderstood by many and replacing it with "Jesus-Follower." Folks, that is a works based belief. The action of the verb is on me. It is something I do. I am a Christian, pure and simple. You want to know what it means? Ask me. I am one bought, sealed and delivered by Christ. He makes me what I am. That's where the verb belongs.
I am a disciple of Christ. Oh..that makes me a Jesus follower doesn't it? Well, wait a minute. What is a disciple? If I look into my hand dandy little Greek Lexicon I read, disciple, from the word "mathetes" It means pupil. It is one who is taught. And the command in Matthew 28:19 is to go into the world and make "mathetes" pupils. Today, we have added a second meaning to something that is not inherent in the original. We've added follower. What Christ is saying, He the teacher (didaskalos) teaches us "methetes" to go into the world and make "mathetes", students.
We've turned the great commission on its proverbial ear and made it into a works based faith. If we follow Christ we will be rewarded by him. But what he's really saying, is since we are taught by him through the word, we are then to go and teach others, make pupils.
Maybe I'm belaboring the point. Yes, we follow Christ. Of course. But only because he is the source of our life. There is no way I can do enough to totally please my Lord. He told me to be perfect. Well, from this blog, you know that ain't happening!
So I rely on his grace, his cross, his power because on the cross, he made me perfect in him. And while I don't see the full effects of that today, I know he is using daily living to mold me according to his purposes. Sometimes he chips, sometimes he molds, sometimes he stomps, but since I'm his child, it's his work of love to make me like him. As a result, I slowly become more like him. But it's all grace. By grace alone, folks. It's his work.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Why did I buy this particular Bible? Well, first of all, all my other study Bibles, while good, are rather dated. New archeological studies as well as new insights in the original texts have made a new Bible almost a necessity for the student of the Word. Plus, I like some of the reformed thoughts contained in the notes of the Bible.
Am I finished. No, I'd like to add to my collection a Lutheran Study Bible. From what I've seen it contains some great stuff as well. But that won't be for a while. I'd like an Orthodox Bible simply because of the historical insights of the Eastern church that you won't find anywhere else.
Now...I happen to know Santa has also set another Bible under my tree this year. You know how Christmas goes once it's just you and your wife alone at home. She doesn't know how to buy my books so I give her hints, or ...uh...I buy it and she puts the wrapping on it. Ha Ha. Come on now...don't tell me you don't do the same thing. I've talked to enough of you to know this happens all the time.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to studying the Bible in Chronological order in the very near future. Thanks Thomas Nelson.
Well, that's it for now. Not much news. It seems time is slipping away. My time is so limited on the net anymore. I have little time for my blog. But I'll keep up on it now and then and try to stay in touch with my limited contacts. You'll probably find my name on blogs of others more often than not as I try to reach out to others.
In the meantime...get into the word. The Bible is God's love letter to us.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
Lord, so often times, as any other day
When we sit down to our meal and pray
We hurry along and make fast the blessing
Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing
We're slaves to the olfactory overload
We must rush our prayer before the food gets cold
But Lord, I'd like to take a few minute more
To really give thanks to what I'm thankful for
For my family, my health, a nice soft bed
My friends, my freedom, a roof over my head
I'm thankful right now to be surrounded by those
Whose lives touch me more than they'll ever possibly know
Thankful Lord, that You've blessed me beyond measure
Thankful that in my heart lives life's greatest treasure
That You, dear Jesus, reside in that place
And I'm ever so grateful for Your unending grace
So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You've provided
And bless each and every person invited
Johnny Cash sings a Thanksgiving blessing.
Who can ever forget this?
Thanksgiving sounds and sights by pianist George Winston
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Gospel, Old and New
Evangelicals and Catholics...a very good presentation on the similarities and differences. Chris Castaldo presents a very good arguement and one in which I find similar to my own. Read the follow on comments as well as they are thoughtful.
Feeding On Christ...If you love Reformation thinking, here's a gold mine for you to dig around in.
Required Behavior Modification and the Gospel...And how can I not bring a little balance here with my favorite Internet Monk...who is not a monk, by the way...Michael Spenser. Follow the links he suggests. It is great reading and listening.
Change of pace...
Want to listen to some music? Try Steve McCoy's suggestions at Reformissionary for some good Five dollar CD's.
That's all folks...until next time.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Like, if Jesus says we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and then love our neighbor as ourselves, then.....why the heck can't I?
I mean, it's so easy to love my wife, my friends and my church but to love my neighbor? Come on...have you seen that jerk?
How can I love a guy I don't agree with? Doesn't he know he should think like me?
Then I get this thought, If I say I love God and don't love my neighbor then the whole mess falls apart. No unity is possible. No harmony is possible and furthermore, I don't love God. I shudder when I think that not to love my enemies tells me I really don't love God.
But...when I know they are wrong and committing grave and serious sin...in my opinion...then how can I love them? Well, does God love them in their sin?
And doesn't God consistently try to reach out to them?
And shouldn't they repent before they are forgiven?
Uh...uh oh...Forgiveness took place on the cross didn't it? Repentance is simple their choice to respond to God's forgiveness through Christ by turning to him.
Folks, I don't love God. I'm learning that to love God means I take on his nature to love others. But in order to love others, I need to fall in love with the Lover.
God is love. I can't make anyone else love. I can't make anyone else be lovers. I can't make anyone become what I think they should become. My job is to be what God wants me to be and that's to be His lover. And when I become his lover, he becomes my lover enabling me to love others. I repeat, my job isn't to MAKE someone love. My job is to love.
I'm not there yet. You'll know when I am before I do, I'm sure. But until then, be patient with me. I goof up.....a lot.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
My plans are to develop everything to match the title of my blog which is I Am Loved. The chief commandment of Christ was to Love God and Love Others and as a result serve the world. I'm woefully deficient in the latter two, so will be addressing those changes as time goes along. I realize that all the talk about loving God is useless unless I love others, friend and foe. That ultimately means sharing that love by touching the lives of others using the gifts given to me.
I'll never be a polished academic author but in my own simple way, I'll use what gifts and writing skills I have to touch the common man. Love does that. I've always been someone who will fight for what I believe. But I've also come to the belief that doctrine and creeds do more to divide and cause division than they unite. Love teaches me that God is more concerned that we share his nature which is love and try to find common ground between the various understandings of truth. It's our understandings of truth that divide us. There is one truth we can rally around and that is Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It is in Jesus that we learn who the Father is and it is Jesus that we gain an understanding of love, for he is the reflection of the love of the Father and the Trinity. Trusting in the Holy Spirit, I learn that the Holy Spirit enables me to love, teaches me about love and guides me into love. Jesus prayed that we might be one with the trinity. There is nothing more important.
Jesus is my main focus. Love is the expression of his life. If I focus on Jesus, love will be the result. Sometimes that love is tough, but still, it is love. A.B. Simpson said it well in his great hymn Himself which reads,
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.
Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.
Chorus: All in all forever...Jesus will I sing
Everything in Jesus and Jesus everything.
Jesus is the source of true love. If love is to be our message then we begin with Jesus who enables us to love. There is no other message.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Having said that, I've also said that Catholics couldn't teach their faith out of a paper bag. They are horrible communicators. Their books are dense, full of Catholic shop talk that no one but them understands. And I doubt most of their parishoners understand them either. Just look at the dropout rate from Catholic catechism classes as well as major seminaries and universities. And when you figure that, in their own words, seventy five percent of their parishoners don't attend mass, you know something is wrong in their education.
But there is a slow shift occurring. In the acedemic world there are lights on the horizon that show promise. Former Presbyterian Scott Hahn is the behemoth on the block leading the way. Rather than me writing on the promising future of literature, read the Musings of a Pertinacious Papist. The blog on November 9th describes some of the bright advances that are taking place through Ignatius Press in San Francisco. You'll find this incouraging.
I would continue to argue that most of the books are still above the average reader, but that is slowly changing. Enjoy this blog.
If you were brought up in a church that gave you a long list of do's and don'ts to prove your faith,like I was, this is a must read.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Read this article and see if you face the same questions. The Fort Hood Shootings and The Privelege of Disassociation.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Let us all celebrate a man who was a personal friend of Mother Teresa and who most exemplifies the kind of life she led. Fr. Groeshel is a modern day living saint whom God is using in New York and around the world through his exposure on EWTN Catholic TV and radio networks.
May God bless this humble man on this special day. Enjoy this tribute.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Oh...Richard....Christians don't say that word! Christians don't get angry.
THE HELL THEY DON'T!!! This is one who is angry right now.
I just read some blogs of some Frank Viola fans along with other blogs from Catholic to Reformed, from free church to liturgical leaders. From Scot Mcknight to Fr. Thomas Hopko, Orthodox priest. Ana Baptist or wanna be Ana Baptists, (misspelled on purpose) to Reformed Lutherans including one my favorites, Michael Spenser the Internet Monk.
All I read are "everybody is wrong from the first century on, and our group/theology/view of church/the body are the only ones that are/is correct. Rome went wrong with Ignatius so we kick them out of heaven. The reformers were wrong because they carried on the tradition of Rome. The new evangelicals are wrong because they have abandoned the liturgy.
A pox on you all. Not one word of how we can unite under Christ Jesus. Hell, even the liberals who try to make church look like the latest theatre production are more honest than most of our so called worship leaders. At least they admit they want to look like the world to bring in the world. Let me tell you a little secret sports fans, I've seen all this garbage in one form or the other for the last 65 years. There's nothing new under the sun and all this "new" stuff is just rehashed self worship of some kind or another.
Where is Jesus in all this. Sometimes I just want to leave Christianity and throw excrement on it but there's no need because the smell of today's church is sometimes worse than the excrement. I'm sick and tired of a Christianity that doesn't have teeth, a Christianity that is anemic when an honest question comes from a non believer. If they ask at all. Christianity is so irrelevant to the world today, it's no wonder nobody listens to us.
How can we be so dad gummed arrogant to assume we know more than those first century writers?? Do we have some secret time machines where our theologians are traveling back to view the ignorant church fathers who somehow screwed up their understanding of the Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew languages. You mean to tell me that when someone said something that was wrong in that first century no one spoke up and said, "I sat at the feet of the apostles and they didn't mean that."? Phooey!! Take all your degrees and bury them. I think ya'll are nuts.
And don't get me going on the worship wars of "how I can't worship" unless we sing in my tradition. (spit) Or even worse, right wing vs. left wing political nonsense in the church.
Harummph!!! O.K. I've ticked off enough of you to win the Outcast award of the month. I'll just go kick around a few boxes, punch a few holes in the wall, sit in my corner with steam coming out of my ears and pout. Leave me alone, I'll have my pity party by myself. Nobody reads my drivvel anyway.
Maybe someone will appear to me who will look like Jesus. Hmmm, I wonder what THAT will look like. He certainly won't come with the line, "our view is the right view." If he does, I have a size 14 boot that will leave a nasty smear on their backsides.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
That's it for today. Short and sweet.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Once again I turn you to Michael Spenser and his Internet Monk website. Today he tackles the big problem we have in many of our churches as well as in society. Men who abuse women are on the rise everywhere. It's all too often seen in our churches, especially those who misinterpret the scriptures that talk about the husband being the head of the wife. This article is hard hitting and to the point. Men, if your are belittling your wives...stop it. Stop it and get help. There is no excuse for a woman/wife/child abuser. Read When Bad People Need A Crutch. It's good.
Can Protestants learn anything from Catholics? You bet! Read this article and listen to Mark Brumley on the Ignatius website. Mark discusses The Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. I have an earlier edition of this book and it is good. Enjoy.
Finally, a bit of non-religious techy stuff. I own a 24" IMac at home and absolutely love it. Now Apple has gone one step better and come out with a well priced 27" inch model that makes mine look like an antique. Well, not really, but with the new LED screen it "looks" really, really good. Read about it, especially if you want a great trouble free computer. Go to the Mac Daily News link here and read about it, if you haven't already.
That's it for today. Until tomorrow where I'll contine bringing you the 95 Thesis list.....
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
For some years now, I have questioned the young earth theory promoted by many evangelical creation research folks. For many, it has become a measure of your faith. I've heard comments saying our Christianity should be held in question if we believe in evolution or an old earth theory. Well, I'm not a scientist so won't make scientific claims, but the young earth theory just doesn't make sense to me. I'm one of those who believes the Bible is wasn't meant to be a scientific text book but rather, a book revealing God and his encounter with us to restore us to himself. I don't believe the Bible and science conflict with each other when read correctly, and I believe they complement each other. I am firm in my belief that God created the universe. He spoke it into being. The process or how things developed is up for question. Again, this is my personal opinion.
Today, Scot McKnight reviews a book on this subject which you I find intrigueing. The title of Scot's blog today is Evolution and Evangelicals...What Are The Barriers? I encourage you to read this most interesting blog as he reviews a survey done by Bruce Watke, an Old Testament scholar. I hope you enjoy it.
Have you ever wondered what Pope Benedict is all about? What is he really like and what does he really believe? Carl Olson, a reviewer and apologist for St. Ignatius Press highlights the introduction to the book Christ Our Joy, The Theological Vision of Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict is one of the leading theologians of our day who has received a lot of negative press, but continues to have tremendous influence. He is making enormous strides toward bringing the church back together as seen in recent moves with Anglicans. Read and enjoy.
Then, there is one of my favorite writers Michael Spenser. He always challenges me, entertains me and when he has me laughing sticks in the pin to bring me back to reality. Today, he highlights Three Push-Button Words that get him going. Enjoy the Internet Monk. He's worth listening to on a daily basis. Download his Imonk broadcast on Itunes and get a Kentucky accented dialog on what is happening in today's world. Read his blog today and get all the links needed.
Finally, maybe, I don't like Reformation Sunday. Rather than being a triumphant celebration we Protestants celebrate on our separation from the errors of the Catholic Church, I see it as a prime example of failure. We failed to maintain unity in the gospel of peace. And we have been dividing ever since, fighting amongst ourselves over our personal denominational "traditions". Stanley Hauerwas, the Gilbert T. Rowe professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School speaks to the failure of the Reformation. His message on the tragedy of the Reformation is highlighted on the Call to Communion blog. Before you crow about being a reformed Christian read this article. It may make you angry, but it ought to make us all, Catholic and Protestant, hang our heads in shame for the splintering that has occurred as a result of the reformation. God have mercy on us for our constant fighting amongst our selves. We need to repent and seek unity with Rome where we are all one with Christ, with the liberty given us in Christ. Read...for God sake...read this one.
Monday, October 26, 2009
1. Jared Wilson gives those of us in the American Church something to think about on his site The Gospel Driven Church today. He reposts his 95 Thesis for the American Church, Part I. It's worth reading.
2. Why would an Anglican Priest want to convert to Catholicism? Jeffrey Steel provides that answer in his interesting article on his blog De Cura Animarum. So if you wonder what drives a man to leave what he loved, read Jeff's reason which is probably multiplied by hundreds of Anglicans now contemplating leaving their church for Catholicism.
3. The next link is one that links to a pair of sermons heard on the Ancient Faith Radio programs heard on the internet. Fr. Stephen, an Orthodox priest refers to a pair of sermons (homilies) by Fr. Thomas Hopko, one of the leading Orthodox scholars and priest of our day. Fr. Hopko presents a fascinating discussion in two sermons on the Wrath of God. Listen to these sermons and be challenged to a viewpoint few of us ever hear. Go to Fr. Stephen's blog Glory to God For All Things and follow the links there.
That's it for now. That should keep you busy.
Enjoy until next time.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
But the blog I'm highlighting today is a new one to me. It is called The Catholic Key Blog. It is often filled with ensightful stuff and worth looking at from time to time. This blog is one of the voices in the Kansas City/St. Louis diocese which is noted for its conservatism and faithfulness to God and the church. Folks, there are some fantastic born again brothers and sisters in the Catholic church and they deserve our ears. So enjoy the blog and let them know your thoughts.
And, just leave a note here to let me know you have read my little blatherings. That's what the button is for.
Time for me to move on....God bless!!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
His followup book, called Reimagining Church is his view of what the real church looks like, or so he thinks.
I wonder if anyone of you have read the book by Viola and Barna and have any other background stuff that critiques his works.
Thanks for your help.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Find a school that emphasizes the kind of teaching Dr. Kreeft is talking about. You won't regret it. I wish I had paid more attention to my philosophy professor when I was in college. I'd probably be farther along than I am.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
My latest additions to the wish list are two books on the book of Revelation. If you know me well, you know I have little patience with the mythology and fantasy of the "Left Behind" series. I'm definitely not a "pretribber". Go look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about.
The two books I've added to my wish list are intriging books. The first is The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham. Bauckham delves deep into history to give a fresh study of this very difficult book.
The second book is Revelation And The End of All Things by Craig R. Koester. Koester is a professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He weaves both current thoughts on Revelation and current events into his historical study without the excesses of so many of the books we have today in the prophetic arena.
I look forward to adding these books to my library. They appear to really avoid the wild speculations you see in so many of today's books on Revelation and prophecy. I'll let you know down the road someday if I really enjoyed them or not and whether they are relative to anything.
Until my next...irregular post....God Bless
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
If you are an evangelical, you NEED to listen and watch to this message. We had an unusual service last Sunday when our pastor John Ortberg shared the pulpit with one of the most influencial men of our generation, Gary Hamel. Gary is a member of our church and recently spoke at Willow Creek for a major conference on church leadership. In a time when the Christian church faces unparalleled challenges this message is a must. Whether you agree with Gary or not, you have to admit we are facing the greatest crisis in since, perhaps, the reformation. I've mentioned often how the evangelical church has lost it's identity. Gary backs that up. So enjoy this message "Shifting Tides". Click the link and sit back for a rough ride.
If you are one of my Catholic friends, come along and listen over my shoulder at something that you are facing as well. Masses of Catholics have left your church to join the Protestant church. I know many Protestants are moving in direction of the Catholic church as well for its richness of tradition. But the numbers of those joining the Catholic church can't compare with those leaving your church simply due to the enormous size of the mother church. You are in crisis too. Your parishes are suffering for the lack of priests. We all face this together.
So let's all listen to Gary's message and then probe our hearts to see what the Spirit is telling us.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009