Saturday, June 03, 2006
He's A Linkball Wizard
Life imitates "art."
More reason - this time where science and faith intersect.
Quote of the decade.
| You scored as John Calvin. Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God's sovereignty is all important.|
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
And now you know (HT: the church geek)
Know your Bard
That's "dirty underpants" to you fella!
Dennis Prager's divide illustrated. It's not between people that believe in God or not, but those who hold the Bible sacred or not.
The old home state does something right.
Secret plan revealed - How Presbyterians will bring salvation to the nation.
Related Tags: scriptural interpretation, science and religion, snakes on a plane, thrologians, blogging, joke, humor
Back in March I announced that I have found the nearly perfect web site - The Periodic Table of Comic Books. So, now that we have concluded the series on villains here in Comic Art, I thought we'd explore that a little, after all what could be more fun that to review comic images that have to do with chemistry - what could possibly be more fun or interesting?
My "plan" if there is such a thing here is to devote this space in the upcoming weeks to an element and look at the related images the site presents. What elements and for how long will pretty much be on a whim - something I like, and we will quite when I don;t find that much interesting anymore.
I thought we'd start; however, by looking at a few "chemical" based heroes. There are numerous villains, but I thought they could be revealed as we move through the elements, but these heroes show up so much in the table, I thought they deserved some introduction.
Say hello to Metamorpho - The Element Man. Lab accident caused his body to transform and he can now convert it into chemicals at a whim - cool idea, unfortunate origin - lab accidents are just too convenient, and least without a great twist that gives them appropriate pathos, unfortunately in the early days, Metamorpho lacked that pathos.
He did; however, have a really cool look with his body all subdivided that way. Far as I know they never did explain why this that was his "default" state - seems to me the second law of thermodynamics would demand that he rest as a single element, but hey this is comic books. In all the chemical heroes, the limited nature of the writers knowledge became apparent pretty quickly, at least if you really liked chemistry like I did.
It's an interesting question - What role did chemistry in comics play in forming my personal, ending up professional, interest? I think quite a bit actually. All those little hints of chemistry in these books was fascinating to me, and frankly I always hoped I could synthesize up the witch's brew that would give me powers!
These guys - The Metal Men - influenced me quite a bit. Metamorpho was always a little flat as a character, but with the Metal Men they tried to fashion personalities to match the metalurgical properties of the materials from which they were made - Now that was a solid teaching concept for a kid like me.
I always found Mercury problematic because as a kid I never got a "mercurial" personality - he just came off pissy, and I really never understood why he stayed solid except when he wanted to be liquid, but I did break more than one thermometer trying to figure it out.
There was a problem with the fact that the Metal Men were also grossly sexist. As a very young child, Platinum was just a yucky, mushy "girl," but when I grew some I really wanted something more to her than just emoting over Dr. Magnus, the creator of the Metal Men.
You'll note the bad guy on this cover - Chemo! We'll see more of him as we go along, but this is where he came from. He went on to be one of Superman's greater foes (hey he could pull kryptonite from that stew he called a body) but this is where he came from - a chemical foe to a metallurgical hero group.
You also have to love the way that as robots the Metal Men were always being disassembled and re-assembled - see the heads laying around here? Made for a bit of comic relief too as the mismatched heads and bodies were often created.
And here we see a johnny-come-lately to the chemical hero game - Firestorm. He is sort of a modern alchemist, capable of transmuting materials on a nuclear level. Needless to say he was forged in nuclear "fires" and in what I think is a vague homage to the Hulk who has a similar origin story, he is two personalites blended, only in this case the professor and the teenager (Ala Banner and Jones) instead of the man and the monster.
This is a character whose look was stupendous when he first showed up, but now appears a bit dated, and I have not seen a modern image that was any better. He also has generally been pretty lame as a character - He has settled into a reasonable existence guest spotting in the Justice League.
Well, emugh intro - I hope as the weeks go by you will enjoy looking at chemicals in comics as much as I am going to enjoy writing it.
Related Tags: comics, comic books, chemistry, chemical heroes, Metal Men, Metamorpho
Friday, June 02, 2006
In this case, I am talking about the Leadership blog from CT. The post in question adresses the necessity to find unique ways to measure "success" in church
The three most measurable "products" of church communities are bodies, bucks and bricks. It doesn?t take long in church leadership to begin to compare your ministry to others. And whether right or wrong, we all evaluate our churches relative to other churches. I believe every church leader asks these sorts of questions: Are more people coming in the door? Are we able to find a place for them to sit and a place to take care of their kids? Are we growing financially so that we can expand our programs to serve them?There are a couple of very important comments to make here. One is that the "organism analogy" really doesn't hold up very well. Most organisms do not always grow - to the contrary, a healthy organism reaches maturity, but it's size at that point should stabilize. Any organism that continuously and always grows ends up obese, a very unhealthy state. The only exception to this rule that I can think of is snakes which do grow throughout their lifetimes, but is that the organism the church really wants to model itself after?
No doubt you have probably heard the maxim before that every church is an organism. Every organism that isn't growing is dying. But as Collins suggests, there is more to growth in the not-for-profit world than the tangibles.
Simply growing the number of bodies, bucks and bricks at our church isn't the answer. I hope you already know that. But how do we define and assess the intangibles?
Although I agree with Collins' statement that resources are not goals but simply inputs into our churches, it seems to me that even according to Collins, bodies, bucks and bricks have to factor into our assessment of our churches. Perhaps there is truth to the growing or dying organism analogy. But something in me doesn?t want there to be. Somewhere inside of me wants to believe that attendance can be going down and God might still be blessing our community. I want to believe that giving can be decreasing but lives could still be changed.
But somewhere else inside of me knows that decreases to bodies, bucks and bricks are probably not typical signs of health for church communities. So the question we have to ask ourselves is: how should church leaders define success?
The nature of growth changes when an organism reaches maturity, it does indeed grow new material, but in a healthy organism it only does so to replace dead material. You can tell an organism is unhealthy if it rapidly loses mass, but not if it's mass is stable.
And as our author wishes, sometimes loss of mass is in fact healthy - like in the case of weight loss for an obese person.
The other factor that I think is important in this discussion is that the institution is not the church. A church is a group of people, somehow organized. The institution is first a means of organizing them, and secondly, in America, a legal necessity - you simply must form some sort of legal entity (think corporation) to conduct business. The necessity of that legal entity does not mean we should confuse it with the church, nor does it grant the legal entity primacy as a concern for leadership.
This later point is really important. Caring for the legal entity is a straighforward and mechanical process. Thus people are readily sucked into it - they know how to do it, and it is easy to lay your hands on. But that entity exists to serve the real church. However, because the entity controls the resources (think money) somehow the entity thinks it leads instead of serves.
This leads to two vitally important considerations.
The first consideration is the division of labor in a church. You need people that can reliably be depended upon to manage the entity so the genuine church can get about it's business. But the most important function such people can provide is to free up the ministry staff from such considerations in order to allow them to do the real work of the church.
The seocnd consideration is even more vitally important. We need to raise mature Christians to perform these tasks. Mature Christians, and only mature Christians, can understand the nature of genuine, self-sacrificing service. Only mature Christians can have a proper attitude about taking roles in managing the entity.
And that, dear friends is terribly hard work.
Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church
Related Tags: church growth, maturity, metrics, success, Christianity, church
Let The Links Roll
I hope this is true.
One of the many reasons I love Monty Python.
Love you Dadmanly, but no third party of any sort. If the Congress is not responsive, its because most citizens aren't holding them accountable. You want a responsive Congress? - Get active, and get others active.
Never let a guy with knowledge and a lab get bored or stuff like this happens. We're just kinda like that.
It pleases me to know that not all the anti-Catholic bigotry in the world comes from the "truly Reformed."
I have got to open a fast food joint!
A new resource? (HT: Reformed Angler)
Thank God for the word 'former.'
Risk assesssment - the black art of environmental policy. You can make it come out almost anyway you want.
I am not responsible for this vaguely tasteless joke, but it did make me laugh.
Related Tags: Greenpeace, environmental policy, clergy scandal, Christian resources, third party, science, joke, humor
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Guilty Pleasures - Not So Innocent
My guilty pleasure is professional wrestling. Since Vince McMahon went national and admitted, finally, that it was all a put-on, opening the door to going completely over the top, it is just a hoot. Low-brow hoot, but a hoot nonetheless.
I can't help but wonder if there is not a bit of the guilty pleasure/pro wrestling phenomena in all the traffic, all the heat, that gets generated in the great smackdowns of the Godblogosphere. The combatants preen and pose, announce their superiority and deliver their "closing moves" with the necessary panache.
Unfortunately, what makes pro-wrestling enjoyable - that it is in fact fake, and no one gets hurt - does not hold in Godblogging - people do get hurt. Says Amy Lauger writing at Common Grounds Online
I learned early about the tragedy of friendly fire in combat operations. We in the church need to understand that friendly fire is also a dangerous threat within the church. I have been dismayed that many in my tradition systematically trample on those who disagree with them on anything, no matter how small. I have been horrified to see several people for whom I have much respect fall prey to such hunters, sometimes over the silliest points of contention. This atmosphere is rampant in our churches and on the Internet. In my discussions on this subject with friends, some of whom themselves have received such treatment, the solution seems to be to ignore the insults. The theory seems to be that certain people are not going to change, so it is a waste of breath.She is absolutely right, while Internicene Smackdown may be fun to watch, it does not reflect well on the people of the Cross. And when it does not reflect well on us, it does not reflect well on Him.
While it hurts to see friends sullied and letting it slide, the truly horrifying part of it is what it is doing to the church as a whole. We only weaken the army of God when we make casualties of each other instead of building each other up.
Joe Carter pointed out the other day how backwards things can get in the Godblogosphere. Extracting his major points as bullets:
- We hope for. . . community But we often reward ... individuality
- We hope for. . . eternal perspective But we often reward ... focus on the trivial and ephermeral
- We hope for. . . wisdom But we often reward ... foolishness
- We hope for. . . depth and breadth of interest But we often reward ... shallowness and narrowness of concern
- We hope for. . . unity But we often reward ... division
- We hope for. . . faith, hope, and love But we often reward ... doubt, pessimism, and uncharitableness
In blogging, those rewards are so easily given, we read and spin the sitemeter, worse, we link and send it whirling like the reels of a slot machine.
We need to be smarter in our blogging. We need to link to the things we want to reward, and when it becomes necessary to criticise, we need to do so without the links, for if we link our criticism becomes reward. The iMonk, writing at Boars Head Tavern, recently did an excellent job of following this principle. He managed to describe the "Three Assured Presuppositions" of the "Truly Reformed" (also his terminology) whose bigoted statement concerning the Roman Catholics I have lately been lately been addressing.
(Speaking of which, let me insert this brief parenthetical paragraph. Can you believe people of faith, people that claim Christ, are guilty of the same bigotry as the adherents, if such a term may be applied, of the Da Vinci Code? Which is remarkable since that same group has spilt so many electrons debunking the DVC.)
There is an exception to this rule - link with those you disagree with, provided you think they will engage in actual debate. Something the targets of my recent criticism are sorely lax in doing - they obviously know too much already to bother with debate. Besides if they linked it would give away their precious traffic - precisely the traffic that is their reward.
If you are like me and would like to engage in genuine discussion on matters of real importance, then stop reading them, definitely stop linking to them. Blogging is fun, but it is not about fun. It is also not a popularity contest - if you think it is, then go to MySpace.
I am here to lift up my Lord, and hopefully myself and some other people in the process. I hope you will join me.
Related Tags: Godblogging, popularity, reward, feedback, links, uplifting, friendly fire
NOTE: This was inspired by the kids we lead in Bible study each week, who preached on this passage on youth Sunday recently.
Related Tags: Illuminated scripture, calligraphy, Christian encouragement
If Ever I Should Link You...
In defense of the marriage amendment - a powerpoint. Even the inattentive should be able to deal with this.
Despite rumors to the contrary, I had nothing, nothing at all to do with the production of this video.
So, it appears to be a hormonal thing?
Because the title says it all.
Alas, now it is simply 'world.'
And here I thought it worked on fusion, not labor.
It is certainly what Carl Sagan believed in - have you read (or seen) Contact?
A family issue. Leading to this.
Related Tags: marriage, superheroes, climate change, liberal thought, SETI, salmon, joke, humor
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
On Taming The Intellect
Burden? How could a gift like that be a burden? It's simple, I, and I think other smart people share this tendency, am prone to submmersing humanity with intellectual activity. What do I mean by this? I tend to analyze people instead of simply listen to them. I tend to categorize people instead of simply experience them.
This problem is at its absolute worse when I express something that from my perspetive is just a bit of thought, some piece of analysis, carefully couched; I tend to completely ignore the emotional and spiritual impact.
One of the things I have had to learn is that, much as I would like to consider myself and the rest of the world as Vulcans, creatures of pure logic, thought and emotion are not really separable. How I think about things radically affects how I feel about things, and vice versa.
It's no secret I have been pretty upset with some of the "truly reformed" crowd lately, at least if you have read this blog at all in the last two weeks. I have been upset because I think they are wrong. But my reaction has been far more visceral than merely wishing to refute their contentions. I've been angry!
You see, my thoughts have affected my emotions. Interestingly, I have had such an emotional reaction because I think they have failed to understand the emotional impact of their assertions. They have split hairs and parsed language and drawn distinctions - they have attempted to make it intellectually "OK' to be bigoted, rather than understand that no amount of intellectual activity can change the emotional, and spiritual impact of what was said. They think it about ideas, when it is really about people.
God tried it by words on a page and found it wanting. He found it necessary to incarnate, to take on flesh, in part to emphasize that His intentions are not mere words or ideas - His intentions are people! We forget that at our peril.
Related Tags: bigtory, intellectualism, emotions, incarnation
The Boogie-Woogie Linkin' Boy of Company B
Must read post by Joe Carter
Insight into a Marine artist.
Fun with science, or at least art.
Nutter with army bad - racist nutter with army and almost atomic weapons - real bad.
OK - NOW It's serious, the Corner has chimed in.
Must link to this - the people that work at this lab are firends of mine.
Name this fast food joint!
Deep econ thoughts
Bad headline pun. Spekaing of bad puns, allow me to make the worst this blog has ever seen - so this is how you make a towel.
Related Tags: earthquakes, superheroes, Christian blogging, Godblogging, Marine artist, combat art, Iran, economic theory, joke, humor, pun
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Ten Myths and Ugly Facts of Entering Full-Time Vocational MinistryIt is one of those things that you read, the truth is self-evident, but the consequences are so horrible you want to ignore it and hope it will go away. The cynicism that Spenser capture in the post is, frankly, the genesis of my sporadic book/blog project How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church.
After I left my stint in full-time vocational ministry, there were only two conclusions available to me. Either it was all a lie and all really a front put up to garner power, control, money, all that conspiratorial garbage, or institutions that draw on the name of Christ are as corrupt and sinful, maybe even more so, than individuals are. I had simply too much genuine experience with Jesus Himself to rest long on the first possible conclusion and was forced to adopt the second.
I think there is an inevitablility to it. The more serious you take your faith, the more you move to the "inside," or leadership, of your particular institution. The further in you get, the more you discover how much is real and how very much is facade. The heartbreak can be overwhelming; a genuine crisis of faith is almost inevitable.
Is it any wonder that the emphasis on individualistic salvation and faith that marks the two great awakenings in America and the rise of evangelicalism came about? The question is, "Is that really the correct response?"
I don't think so. The heartbreak that results from discovering the feet of clay of institutional faith arises because we naturally and deeply want to work out our faith in a group setting. That urge is inate, a God-given drive to help us reach the state of deep faith and maturity that He desires for us. Institutions are necessary simply for managing a group setting, they are a mandatory tool. Individualistic faith clearly is not God's intention for us.
And so we are confronted with a dilemma - a deep desire, need, and mandate to participate in an institutions of faith, and the realization that those institutions are as false as they are true, as unfaithful as they are faithful.
It has ben said that "the church is the only army that leaves its wounded on the battlefield." There is truth in that cliche, but that is not the design of the church. The wounded to which it refers are often those of genuine faith, and they are often left behind because of the threat they pose to the power of the institution.
If your response to this dilemma is not to leave the institution, it may be to try and reform it. This too contains many pitfalls. Often it proves impossible resulting only in frustration. Other times, it can be successful, but the institutions devised to promote that success corrupts more rapidly than the institutions is seeks to reform, resulting in an ever downward spiral of dispair and disillusionment.
If you really care about God and His calling on your life, this is indeed a difficult place to stand. The desire to walk away from it all can be overwhelming.
What to do, what to do? That is the question I am asking in How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church. The questions are still being formed, and the answers still being discovered. But an idea is coming to me - "reformation through personal mission." I have probably killed that idea by giving it such a buzzwordy label, I don't know. Maybe as we explore the idea we can come up with a better way to talk about it.
Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church
Related Tags: church, institutions, faith, corruption, Christianity, disillusionment, disappointment, heartbreak
Collecting My Thoughts On Catholics and The "Truly Reformed"
Catholic Bigotry?! (4/24/06)
Who Then Is My Brother? (5/18/06)
OK, Now I Really Am Confused (5/19/06)
A Comment On The State Of Godblogging (5/22/06)
GodBLOGGING and Labels (5/24/06)
Going WAY Out On A Limb (5/26/06)
Related Tags: catholic, Roman Catholic, Christianity, bigotry
Banning Perc? Greenie Watch points out it's a dumb decision. One other thing - the alternative is flammable and was routinely used before the invention of chlorinated solvents, when dry cleaners burned down on regular basis. Your choices - maybe die in 30 years from cancer or die now in a fire. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
Debris of the cultural wasteland. A little too entertaining.
Not me - they're ugly that way.
The end of boredom - and it works!
Jupiter for sale. That's an astronomy joke.
Related Tags: global warming, perchloroethylene, dry cleaning, dry cleaning solvernt, comic books, digital piracy, joke, humor, silly
The Terrorbuster Saga
Read this story from the beginning at The Terrorbuster Saga Blog
The next morning when Carter boarded the delegation bus to Sophiaskia, the only empty seat was next to a woman he did not recognize from the bar or the dinner, or from his perusal of the computer files. She was; however, amazingly attractive, and she tapped the seat next to her in a somewhat suggestive, but not over-the-top fashion. Figuring a little skirt chasing would aid his cover, he sat with her. "Sorry Amy," ran through his mind as he started to chat with the woman.
The bus ran through town with the usual spiel, "Here in our ceety,?" intoned the guide. (People with Russian/Ukrainian accents never can pronounce "city".) It was not long before they were rolling through the countryside and, save for the occasional abandoned kiosk that had been a Soviet travel checkpoint, it was about like driving across Kansas ? boring.
Carter and his still nameless companion soon fell asleep. They had left very early and it was a long ride. At one point Carter stirred and found the woman?s head on his shoulder. He looked at her and, for the briefest of moments, thought he saw Amy. But then she stirred and the vision was gone. Whatshername was there.
Arriving at Sophiaskia was a chore. As they crossed the 30-km exclusion zone they were required to change into old scratchy woolen suits and leave their clothes at the border. Nothing crossed the border without thorough examination and, if necessary, decontamination. It was easier to change clothes and leave them there. Everybody looked like they were dressed in potato sacks, except for Carter?s seat mate. Her outfit looked tailored.
As they approached the plant itself things really did get eerie. At Sophiaskia, there is a palpable sense of disaster. All human habitations have been abandoned for many years. It?s a ghost town, but it?s not old enough. It?s a heavily forested region until you get within a couple of kilometers of the plant, then it has been clear-cut. Yet on the fringes of the clear-cutting, the trees are clearly diseased and misshapen, if living at all.
The visitors were shepherded through the various "sights": the abandoned town of Sophiayat, the in-ground vaults where contaminated soil and flora are buried, the botany and zoological research stations, finally ending up at the power plant itself.
Security was amazingly lax. It had been very heavy at the exclusion zone border. Carter figured they felt they had the zone tightly secured. He also admitted to himself there was a very high natural barrier to wanting to come in. He also noted offices scattered throughout the facility belonging to the various charities and NGO?s. They were all abandoned with a layer of dust, save for one, and yet it was unmarked. "Bingo!" he thought to himself as he started to slow down and fall to the back of the group. Whatshername had been near the whole time, which he expected, and he noted that she was starting to lag with him.
Thinking quickly, he caught her eye, pointed to a nearby restroom, and then dropped out of the group altogether as they rounded a corner. He walked to the offices of interest and found the door unlocked. He knocked, but there was no reply, so he walked in. As he looked around, getting his bearings, there was Amy, sitting at the receptionist's desk. Before he could utter a sound, she was standing next to him with her hand over his mouth.
"I?m here to watch your back," she whispered in his ear, "I?ll explain as we go along."
Carter, still stunned, checked her out from head-to-toe. She looked like a comic book superhero. She was wearing some sort of suit made of he-had-no-idea, but it was constantly changing color and at times blended so well with whatever was behind her that she became virtually invisible. He noted there was a hood hanging behind her neck. Clearly she could have covered her head and face and disappeared altogether.
Carter quickly found a computer terminal and hacked in. It was easy this time. They must have figured no one would even get this far. All he found was more on the extortion operation. He again noted the missing material, but it was simply recorded as missing. There was nothing about a destination. Then he found some small notations. Every time a little material went missing, it noted, "See Ilya."
But it was the final notation that really mattered. Some of the material had "gone missing" in the last 5 hours, and it was noted in "tunnel 5." About this time, Amy, who had been checking out the suite of offices, walked in from the back and said, "Everything looks very ordinary, except for one very heavy door back here. It?s like it?s made of lead or something."
"That's where we are headed," said Carter.
Related Tags: fiction, comic books, story, terrorism, terrorbuster, GWOT
Monday, May 29, 2006
It's Memorial Day
Lin..(Oh, I Give Up, No One Will Read Today)
I always figured pubs and leaks went together.
From the upcoming Hirohito Code.
Note on Sportsmanship: Some has been rightly and deservedly said in the press about Marco Andretti's sportsmanship in letting Sam Hornish pass on the last striaght of yesterday's Indianpolis 500 to win, but I think there is a bigger story of sportsmanship. When the race went green with 5 laps to go, Michael Andretti, who has lead more laps without a win than any man in race history, was in the lead. Aside from Hornish, he was surrounded by team mates and employees - he is the team owner. This included Bryan Herta who was several laps down and who would have suffered no damage from a penalty. Michael could have easily ordered his teammates to block for him, guaranteeing his long sought and much deserved victory. He did not. In a "winning is everything" world I think this makes Michael Andretti the real winner.
Related Tags: abortion, humor, jokes
Sunday, May 28, 2006
It's Race Day!
'Scuse Me - I'm Busy
Related Tags: Indianapolis 500, racing, motorsports, The Greatest Spectacle in Racing
Links (ditto yesterday)
I think Tony's right. Save for this, under the President's proposal it's a $2000 fine - that expensive for a traffic ticket.
|You Are Mountain Dew|
Ultra hyper and full of energy, you're on a permanent sugar high.
Some people complain about your taste, but the do appreciate your power.
Your best soda match: Coke
Stay away from: Root Beer
Give me a break!
Related Tags: global warming, immigration, joke, humor, Iran
Sermons and Lessons
DWIGHT LYMAN MOODY, the evangelist, was born at Northfield, Massachusetts, in 1837, and died in 1899. As a business man he brought to his evangelistic work exceptional tact, initiative, and executive ability, but the main source of his power lay in his knowledge of the Bible, his con¬stant companion. In preaching he largely disregarded form, and thought little of the sermon as such. His one overwhelming and undeviating purpose was to lead men to Christ. His speaking was in a kind of monotone, but his straightforward plainness never failed to be effective. He usually held the Bible in his hand while speaking, so that there was little of gesture. His great sympathetic nature is spoken of by Henry Drummond in these words:
"If eloquence is measured by its effect upon an audience, and not by its balanced sentences and cumulative periods, then this is eloquence of the highest sort. In sheer persuasiveness Mr. Moody has few equals, and rugged as his preaching may seem to some, there is in it a pathos of a quality which few orators have ever reached, and an appealing tenderness which not only wholly redeems it, but raises it, not unseldom, almost to sublimity."
I suppose there is no one here who has not thought more or less about Christ. You have heard about Him, and read about Him, and heard men preach about Him. For eighteen hundred years men have been talking about Him and thinking about Him; and some have their minds made up about who He is, and doubtless some have not. And altho all these years have rolled away, this question comes up, addresst to each of us, to-day, ?What think ye of Christ??
I do not know why it should not be thought a proper question for one man to put to another. If I were to ask you what you think of any of your prominent men, you would already have your mind made up about him. If I were to ask you what you thought of your noble queen, you would speak right out and tell me your opinion in a minute.
If I were to ask about your prime minister, you would tell me freely what you had for or against him. And why should not people make up their minds about the Lord Jesus Christ, and take their stand for or against Him? If you think well of Him, why not speak well of Him and range yourselves on his side. And if you think ill of Him, and believe Him to be an impostor, and that He did not die to save the world, why not lift up your voice and say you are against Him? It would be a happy day for Christianity if men would 2 just take sides?if we could know positively - who is really for Him and who is against Him.
It is of very little importance what the world thinks of any one else. The queen and the statesman, the peers and the princes, must soon be gone. Yes; it matters little, comparatively, what we think of them. Their lives can only interest a few; but every living soul on the face of the earth is concerned with this Man. The question for the world is, "What think ye of Christ?"
I do not ask you what you think of the established Church, or of the Presbyterians, or the Baptists, or the Roman Catholics; I do not ask you what you think of this minister or that, of this doctrine or that; but I want to ask you what you think of the living person of Christ?
I should like to ask, Was He really the Son of God - the great God-Man? Did He leave heaven and come down to this world for a purpose? Was it really to seek and to save? I should like to begin with the manger, and to follow him up through the thirty-three years He was here upon earth. I should ask you what you think of his coming into this world and being born in a manger when it might have been a palace; why He left the grandeur and the glory of heaven, and the royal retinue of angels; why The passed by palaces and crowns and dominion and came down here alone.
I should like to ask you what you think of him as a teacher. He spake as never man spake. I should like to take Him up as a preacher. I should like to bring you to that mountain-side, that we might listen to the words as they fall from His gentle lips. Talk about the preachers of the present day! I would rather a thousand times be five minutes at the feet of Christ than listen a lifetime to all the wise men in the world. He used just to hang truth upon anything. Yonder is a sower, a fox, a bird, and lie just gathers the truth around them, so that you cannot see a fox, a sower, or a bird, without thinking what Jesus said. Yonder is a lily of the valley; you cannot see it without thinking of His words, "They toil not, neither do they spin."
He makes the little sparrow chirping in the air preach to us. How fresh those wonderful sermons are, how they live to-day! How we love to tell them to our children, how the children love to hear! "Tell me a story about Jesus," how often we hear it; how the little ones love His sermons! No story-book in the world will ever interest them like the stories that He told. And yet how profound He was; how He puzzled the wise men; how the scribes and the Pharisees would never fathom Him! Oh, do you not think He was a wonderful preacher?
I should like to ask you what you think of Him as a physician. A man would soon have a reputation as a doctor if he could cure as Christ did. No ease was ever brought to Him but what lie was a match for. He had but to speak the word, and disease fled before Him. Here comes a man covered with leprosy.
"Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean," he cried.
"I will," says the Great Physician, and in an instant the leprosy is gone. The world has hospitals for incurable diseases; but there were no incurable diseases with Him.
Now, see Him in the little home at Bethany, binding up the wounded hearts of Martha and Mary, and tell me what you think of Him as a comforter. He is a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. The weary may find a resting - place upon that breast, and the friendless may reckon Him their friend. He never varies, He never fails, He never dies. His sympathy is ever fresh, His love is ever free. Oh, widow and orphans, oh, sorrowing and mourning, will you not thank God for Christ the comforter?
But these are not the points I wish to take up. Let us go to those who knew Christ, and ask what they thought of Him. If you want to find out what a man is nowadays, you inquire about him from those who know him best. I do not wish to be partial; we will go to his enemies, and to His friends. We will ask them, What think ye of Christ? We will ask His friends and His enemies. If we only went to those who liked Him, you would say:
"Oh, he is so blind; he thinks so much of the man that he can?t see His faults. You can?t get anything out of him unless it be in His favor; it is a one-sided affair altogether."
So we shall go in the first place to His enemies, to those who hated him, persecuted him, curst and slew him. I shall put you in the jury-box, and call upon them to tell us what they think of Him.
First, among the witnesses, let us call upon the Pharisees. We know how they hated Him. Let us put a few questions to them. "Come, Pharisees, tell us what you have against the Son of God, What do you think of Christ?" Hear what they say! "This man receiveth sinners." What an argument to bring against Him! Why, it is the very thing that makes us love Him. It is the glory of the gospel. He receives sinners. If He had not, what would have become of us? Have you nothing more to bring against him than this? Why it is one of the greatest compliments that was ever paid Him. Once more when He was hanging on the tree, you had this to say to Him, "He saved others, but He could not save Himself and save us too." So He laid down His own life for yours and mine. Yes, Pharisees, you have told the truth for once in your lives! He saved others. He died for others. He was a ransom for many; so it is quite true what you think of Him - He saved others, Himself He cannot save.
Now, let us call upon Caiaphas. Let him stand up here in his flowing robes; let us ask him for his evidence. "Caiaphas, you were chief priest when Christ was tried; you were president of the Sanhedrin; you were in the council-chamber when they found Him guilty; you yourself condemned Him. Tell us; what did the witnesses say? On what grounds did you judge Him? What testimony was brought against Him?" "He hath spoken blasphemy," says Caiaphas. "He said, 'Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' When I heard that, I found Him guilty of blasphemy; I rent my mantle and condemned Him to death." Yes, all that they had against Him was that He was the Son of God; and they slew Him for the promise of His coming for His bride!
Now let us summon Pilate. Let him enter the witness-box. "Pilate, this man was brought before you; you examined Him; you talked with Him face to face; what think you of Christ?"
"I find no fault in him," says Pilate. "He said he was the King of the Jews [just as He wrote it over the cross]; but I find no fault in him." Such is the testimony of the man who examined Him! And, as He stands there, the center of a Jewish mob, there comes along a man elbowing his way in haste. He rushes up to Pilate, and, thrusting out his hand, gives him a message. He tears it open; his face turns pale as he reads "Have thou nothing to do with this just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." It is from Pilate?s wife - her testimony to Christ. You want to know what His enemies thought of Him? You want to know what a heathen thought? Well, here it is, "no fault in him"; and the wife of a heathen, "this just man."
And now, look - in comes Judas. He ought to make a good witness. Let us address him. "Come, tell us, Judas, what think ye of Christ? You knew the Master well; you sold Him for thirty pieces of silver; you betrayed Him with a kiss; you saw Him perform those miracles; you were with Him in Jerusalem. In Bethany, when He summoned up Lazarus, you were there. What think you of Him?" I can see him as he comes into the presence of the chief priests; I can hear the money ring as he dashes it upon the table, "I have betrayed innocent blood!" Here is the man who betrayed Him, and this is what he thinks of Him! Yes, those who were guilty of His death put their testimony on record that He was an innocent man.
Let us take the centurion who was present at the execution. He had charge of the Roman soldiers. He told them to make Him carry His cross; he had given orders for the nails to be driven into His feet and hands, for the spear to be thrust in His side. Let the centurion come forward. "Centurion, you had charge of the executioners; you saw that the order for His death was carried out; you saw Him die; you heard Him speak upon the cross. Tell us, what think you of Christ!" Hark! Look at him; he is smiting his breast as he cries, "Truly, this was the son of God!"
I might go to the thief upon the cross, and ask what he thought of Him. At first he railed upon Him and reviled Him. But then he thought better of it: "This man hath done nothing amiss"? he says.
I might go further. I might summon the very devils themselves and ask them for their testimony. have they anything to say of Him! Why, the very devils called Him the Son of God! In Mark we have the unclean spirit crying, "Jesus, thou Son of the most high God." Men say, "Oh, I believe Christ to be the Son of God, and because I believe it intellectually I shall be saved." I tell you the devils did that. And they did more than that, they trembled.
Let us bring in His friends. We want you to hear their evidence. Let us call that prince of preachers. Let us hear the forerunner; none ever preached like this man - this man who drew all Jerusalem and all Judea into the wilderness to hear him; this man who burst upon the nations like the flash of a meteor. Let John the Baptist come with his leathern girdle and his hairy coat, and let him tell us what he thinks of Christ. His words, tho they were echoed in the wilderness of Palestine, are written in the Book forever, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" This is what John the Baptist thought of him. "I bear record that He is the Son of God)" No wonder he drew all Jerusalem and Judea to him, because he preached Christ. And whenever men preach Christ, they are sure to have plenty of followers.
Let us bring in Peter, who was with Him on the mount of transfiguration, who was with Him the night He was betrayed. Come, Peter, tell us what you think of Christ. Stand in this witness-box and testify of Him. You denied Him once. You said, with a curse, you did not know Him. Was it true, Peter! Don?t you know Him? "Know Him!" I can imagine Peter saying: "It was a lie I told then. I did know Him." Afterward I can hear him charging home their guilt upon these Jerusalem sinners. He calls Him "both Lord and Christ." Such was the testimony on the day of Pentecost. "God had made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ." And tradition tells us that when they came to execute Peter he felt he was not worthy to die in the way his Master died, and he requested to be crucified with the head downward. So much did Peter think of Him!
Now let us hear from the beloved disciple John. He knew more about Christ than any other man. He had laid his head on his Savior's bosom. He had heard the throbbing of that loving heart. Look into his Gospel if you wish to know what he thought of Him.
Matthew writes of Him as the royal king come from His throne. Mark writes of Him as the servant, and Luke of the Son of Man. John takes up his pen, and, with one stroke, forever settles the question of Unitarianism. He goes right back before the time of Adam. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Look into Revelation. He calls him "the bright and the morning star." So John thought well of Him - because he knew Him well.
We might bring in Thomas, the doubting disciple. You doubted Him, Thomas? You would not believe He had risen, and you put your fingers into the wound in his side. What do you think of him?
"My Lord and my God!" says Thomas.
Then go over to Decapolis and you will find Christ has been there casting out devils. Let us call the men of that country and ask what they think of Him. "He hath done all things well," they say.
But we have other witnesses to bring in. Take the persecuting Saul, once one of the worst of his enemies. Breathing out threatenings he meets him. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" says Christ. He might have added, "What have I done to you? Have I injured you in any way? Did I not conic to bless you? Why do you treat Me thus, Saul?" And then Saul asks, "Who art thou, Lord?"
"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persceutest." You see, He was not ashamed of his name, altho lie had been in heaven; "I am Jesus of Nazareth." What a change did that one interview make to Saul! A few years afterward we hear him say, "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dross that I may win Christ." Such a testimony to the Savior!
But I shall go still further. I shall go away from earth into the other world. I shall summon the angels and ask what they think of Christ. They saw Him in the bosom of the Father before the world was. Before the dawn of creation, before the morning stars sang together, He was there. They saw Him leave the throne and come down to the manger. What a scene for them to witness! Ask these heavenly beings what they thought of Him then. For once they are permitted to speak; for once the silence of heaven is broken. Listen to their song on the plains of Bethlehem, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." He leaves the throne to save the world. Is it a wonder the angels thought well of Him?
Then there are the redeemed saints - they that see Him face to face. Here on earth He was never known, no one seemed really to be acquainted with Him; but He was known in that world where He had been from the foundation. What do they think of Him there? If we could hear from heaven we should hear a shout which would glorify and magnify His name. We are told that when John was in the Spirit on the. Lord?s Day, and being caught up, he heard a shout around him, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands and thousands of voices, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!" Yes, He is worthy of all this. Heaven cannot speak too well of Him. Oh, that earth would take up the echo and join with heaven in singing, "Worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!"
But there is still another witness, a higher still. Some think that the God of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New. But when Jesus came out to Jordan, baptized by John, there came a voice from heaven. God the Father spoke. It was His testimony to Christ: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Ah, yes! God the Father thinks well of the Son. And if God is well pleased with Him, so ought we to be. If the sinner and God are well pleased with Christ, then the sinner and God can meet. The moment you say, as the Father said, "I am well pleased with him," and accept Him, you are wedded to God. Will you not believe the testimony? Will you not believe this witness, this last of all, the Lord of hosts, the King of kings himself? Once more he repeats it, so that all may know it. With Peter and James and John on the mount of transfiguration, He cries again, "This is my beloved Son; hear him." And that voice went echoing and reechoing through Palestine, through all the earth from sea to sea; yes, that voice is echoing still, Hear Him! Hear Him!
My friends will you hear Him to-day! Hark! what is He saying to you? "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Will you not think well of such a Savior? Will you not believe in Him? Will you not trust in Him with all your heart and mind? Will you not live for Him? If He laid down His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for Him? Oh, have we not reason to think well of him? Do you think it is right and noble to lift up your voice against such a Savior? Do you think it is just to cry, "Crucify Him! crucify Him!" Oh, may God help all of us to glorify the Father, by thinking well of His only begotten Son.
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