Saturday, November 11, 2006


Things You MIght Want To Read

Help or encouragment? And as half of a childless couple, the last sentence of the piece cuts me to the quick:
Adoptions are relatively rare in Japan, while there is little resistance on religious grounds to abortions.
You see, the cirlce of harm in abortion, while focused hugely and rightfully on the child, extends much farther than you might think.

Lose Weight - feed it instead of yourself!

This may be the best ad I have seen in a while...

It's a perventative measure, better in surgery than during an audit.

Somebody got paid to wirte this headline - just rememebr that next time someone tells you you are "just a blogger."

Say hello to my little friend.

Isn't it just possible that distance as opposed to inattentiveness tells this tale:
You paid attention during 86% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

I mean after all, Richard Nixon was president at the time. (HT: Pseudo Polymath)

Dr. Who? Kids? Cool I guess.

It took a judge to decide? God save us all from lawyers.

How do you get an elk to take it one day at a time?

Now if they would have a tick-tac-toe tournament, they'd really have something.

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Comic Art

I'm betting you've had enough with The Defenders already. It is only reluctnantly that I give up the series, there is so much more territory that we could cover, but I've been at it a long time. I am tempted to move back to DC Comics for a while, but a reader a while back suggested a series that is just too rich not to pursue - Spidey Villians.

"Back in the day" particularly the '60's but into the 70's as well, all the classic Spidey villians were devised, Goblin, - but alongside those classics there were some real lamos. Comics being what they are many of these lamos have been recycled, reimagined and reused, sometimes to good effect, and sometimes with their essential lameness intact. Regardless, it seems like a bit of fun to look into them.

Arrayed before you here are images of the Living Brain. The name alone is so corny has to be beyond comprehension. Given how little the character has shown up, I think it fair to say even Marvel itself finds the thing kind of lame. There is little to say actually, the pictures, I think, speak for themselves. Spidey blew this guy away so easily, and he poses so little threat that well, he's just lame.

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Friday, November 10, 2006



I love the book of Eccelesiates. But, if this post from Reformation Theology is to be believed, I am somewhat unique in that fondness. The post linked above makes the case that the book, perceived by many to be somewhat antithetical to the gospel, is in fact directly in line with basic gospel principles. I could not agree more, although I must say I cannot state the case in quite such a high-falutin' manner.

I want to put it this simply - the book says in essence, that ALL things of this world are vanity in light of the glory and wisdom of God. I know of no book that gives me a better perspective on all aspects of my life than Eccesiates. Why, because the book creates perspective, which is the very heart of wisdom. Further that perspective is very straightforward.

Simply put, nothing in this world, NOTHING!, is of sufficient value to warrant setting aside the pursuit of God's higher purpose. Not cathedrals, not churches, not wealth, not politics, not love, nore money. These things and so much more are vanity, save when they are subjected to God's higher purpose and authority. They are not the end.

This is no call to poverty, hardly when coming from the wealthiest of Israel's kings. No - it is a call to perspective. It is a call to knowing what is important and what is not. It is a call to knowing how to deal with the less important in light of the important.

Eccelesiates is the greatest guard against idolatry in scripture. It points out how anything, anything at all can become the idol that stands between us and God. You know, the problem with idols is often not that they are false gods, but that they are substitutes for the true God. When we worship church growth instead of Jesus, we commit idolatry, even though we seek church growth in Jesus name. When we make our focus evangelism instead of Christ, we commit idolatry, even though we seek to evangelize people to Christ.

That is the essential message of Eccelsiates, it is, in my opinion the most important message the church today can hear. Take a stab, read that book. I try to at least once a year.

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Ready For The Weekend Links

SALUTE TO VETERANS! Here's one way.

The Dems make their first huge post-election mistake. Maybe '08 won't be so hard after all.

The problem is not the "Floam"! It's the mother's crappy housekeeping that let a fungus lay around to grow on the Floam, or a houseplant, or a dirty dish, or a piece of bread, or....

This is not new science - this is marketing, there are some huge practical drawbacks. Here's a hint, once the magnetite (a form of zeolite, which are commonly used in all sorts of purification operations) absorbs the arsenic, it becomes toxic, and it has a limited capacity - so when it's full, what do you have? Just another disposal problem, more concentrated than the one you had before.

Shop Wal-Mart this season. - They've earned it.

LATimes sales have been trending down like a penny dropped from the Empire State building. This will not help.

You knew this was coming - what constitutes a liquid? I'm a chemist for crying out loud, and I will tell you the strict answer is not apparent to the average airport security personnel. Next we'll be installing rheomoeters at check-in. And if you don;t know what a "rheometer" is, that just makes my point.

Been there, heard this.

Joe Carter and some Marine Corps humor.

Call me cruel, but there is somthing funny here.

Here is a must see. But some peopel have different priorities from orbit.

This could be interesting, but...

A SciFi movie is born. And another.

Back in my younger days there was a bit of a colloquilism for someone dying of cancer - they were "eat up with it." Here, believe it or not, is someone eat up with STUPID!

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Friday Humor

George Phillips of Meridian Mississippi was going up to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked, "Are any of those people in your house" and he said "no". Then they said that all patrols were busy, and that he should simply stay in his house, lock his doors and an officer would be along when available.

George said, "Okay," hung up, counted to 30, and phoned the police again. "Hello I just called you few seconds ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now cause I've just shot them all". Then he hung up.

Within five minutes three police cars, an Armed Response unit, and an ambulance showed up at the Phillip's residence. Of course, the police caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the Policemen said to George: "I thought you said that you'd shot them!" George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

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Thursday, November 09, 2006


Why We Blog

A short time ago, it was my priviledge to moderate one of the plenary panels at GodBlogCon. As I did so, I framed much of the discussion around this post at Common Grounds Online. The post is about the necessity for human and face-to-face ministry. An excellent point, and one that is made in the Godblogosphere often. We talked a bit about that at GBC. But I looked at the concluding paragraph from a different angle:
Is there any plausibility to the possibility that we are so inept at loving one another face to face that we have to create things like blogging to insure some pathetic measure of appreciation or encouragement or value or identity or worth in these tangled and wrecked lives of ours?
That quote, I think makes two very important points. One concerning the church, and one concerning us.

Let's consider the church first. Why should people have to turn to blogging to find the kind of appreciation and encouragement that they should receive from their local congregation? Well, if your congregation is the size of the crowd at the average high school football game, and so seated, there might be a pretty apparent explanation. Also if you run your service like a play or movie where everyone looks forward and never side to side, you might have another explanation. But mostly its because we don't do church very well. We do worship, but we don't do church. We build audience, but we don't build community.

The world is full of insecure people, people that need a "family." I lived in Southern California for 15 years as a single person, 2000 miles from my nearest living relative. I had to build a family for myself - church seemed like a logical place to do it. It was hard, hard work. I ran into many barriers - which I consider a shame on the church. But I succeeded. Which brings me to the second point - about us.

Dear friends, blogging is no place to turn for affirmation, or appreciation, or encouragement. In general it ia a place of competition, of beat down, of elbows, and cheap shots. Sadly, that is true even of the Godblogosphere. I think it is true because we are largely a bunch of insecure, under appreciated, desparate people that think hit counts and audience can give us the kind of affirmation we desire.

Well guess again folks. Other people cannot give you that, either in blogging or in face-to-face relationships. Only God can give you the security and affirmation and encouragement you need on a daily basis. You want proof? Just look at the lives of any of the so-called "celebrities." Literally millions hang on when they visit the potty and yet they behave as the lonliest, most desparate individuals on the planet.

If you are lonely and inseucre and need affirmation - please don't look for it here in blogging. You will only end up hurt and disappointed. You need to look for it in your local congregation - and you need to work hard at finding it. It will not be apparent at church - it will not be looking for you. It is not here at all in blogging, but it is there in your church, you just have to dig for it, you have to ask. That's an indictment of the church, but at least it is there somewhere.

And turn to God - He loves more than the rest of the planet can combined.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Election Hangover Links

The Elections: The hard look at reality -- The Pep Talk. Somebody pointed out that a Republican White House and Democratic Congress has been the norm for most of my lifetime - We know how to do this. The Onion makes some sense.

A Dem Congress will put global warming on the front burner. Some, like Kofi Annan, see a chance to make hay on the issue after the election. We would be smart to remember - it's a political loser.

Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot.

I doubt you're interested, but a bit of a quantum primer. It's a bit cute for my taste, but it gives you the general idea.

Cruel joke? Definitely! - Crime? Be real. We have become a nation of wimps.

Well, It's better than working.


Nerd - Defined.

Combining stupid and nerd.

Are we sure they are burps and not coming from the "other end"?

I don't see the problem here. The recipe is precise and without ambiguity.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We Cannot Save Ourselves

In fact, I don't think salvation is the heart of the issue.

I do not link to The Broken Messenger enough. Brad does some great Godblogging there. This post is a prime example of that great blogging. Consider this:
So it's little wonder that Jesus is looked upon as mere stain remover. We've fallen in the mud and Jesus wipes us clean. The mud is external, and so Jesus wipes it away so that we can go about our lives. We have good hearts. We always have good intentions, and we sin because our good hearts and intentions are merely hijacked by the devil.
This strikes at the heart of the difference between mere religion and genuine faith. Mere religion "wipes us clean" (we think) but genuine faith transforms us - it reaches in and rips out our corroded hearts, then builds anew a shiny new heart - one that is righteous and pure.

Brad says it this way:
So we grab hold of Jesus just long enough to drag ourselves to some like-minded congregation to get our consciences cleared from our sins in order to justify our wagging tongues that freely and responsively move to every form of foolish gossip, off-handed sarcasm, and high praise over every intricately crafted piece of plastic, metal or fabric that pleases us, but could careless when it becomes paralyzed the moment a conversation hints at the possibility of an opportunity to preach the Gospel. We flatly reject the notion that our reflections of Jesus are vain superstitions. We rebuke the idea that we've never loved him because we are captive by our addictions or because we are never inspired by him, inclined to him or take delight in his beauty, power or grace. We resist the notion that sin is so pervasive that even our thoughts are subject to accountability. We abhor the idea that we will have to suffer for God because of our faith. We fear the idea of sharing our profession with a co-worker, unbelieving family member or friend.
I long ago gave up trying to bring salvation to those around me - I seek, actively, to try and find a way to bring others to the point where they encounter transformation.

We set out sights so low anymore, we seek to get them to church, or get them down the aisle, but God wants more and we should too. It's not a shower this thing we call Christianity, it is so much more.

More, the only way we can bring others to it, is to go there ourselves.

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Links In The Wind, All We Are Is Links In The Wind

One of Scotwise's better mini-sermons

Unfortunately, this reflects most Christians:

(HT: BHT) Oh, and by the way, Joker would be miserable.

Speaking of deep faith mysteries - the Bible saves, but the Holy Spirit does not. This goes to show you God is operating on levels we cannot comprehend.

And this is soooo helpful.

Fear-mogering, with the caveat waiting until paragraph 4. Fact: Only one "chemical" is shown to casue neurobehavioral problems in children - lead - and then only when directly ingested in significant quantities, not from mere environmental exposure. A reasoned response.

Will someone tell me what global warming does NOT threaten?! Surely there is something? - Anyone...Anyone. Nothing? And there is no exaggeration involved? Amazing.

I wanna see - Dad can I see? - I wanna look!

With the election over, there is time to waste -- here -- here

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Thinking About Being "Evangelical"

Is it possible that things happening here in the Christian blogosphere are really starting to stretch into greater discussion of all things Christian? Unlike in politics, the Christian media and thinkers have been slow to relaize the power this medium has, but I wonder if we are not seeing the first inklings of blogs impacting the larger discussion.

I think this based on this article in Christianity Today (HT: The Point), discussing the word "evangelical" it's usefulness and implications. I have blogged about this, generally in response to other's thought provoking posts, several times. See examples here and here and here. Christianity Today defines the mainstream of Christian conversation and we finally see this conversation break the surface. Way to go Godblogging!

What is interesting to me is how many ways people come at this disucssion. Many are concerned about theological purity or the level of actual zeal for evangelism that those who self-identify actually have. I worry because I think the label has been co-opted by politics and threatens to define us not by out faith, but by our politics.

Joe Carter opined sometime back that we do have to call ourselves something. Do we?

Here's the thing, when we try to concoct labels we spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources first defining, then defending the definition - often at the expense of that time, energy and resources being devoted to the mission itself. This is particularly wasteful when the mission is inherently intended to reach across already existing definitional boundaries.

As a scientist/engineer, I am very focused on making things happen, it is the nature of people like myself. I am far more interested, for example, in the stress-strain equations that hold up the Brooklyn Bridge, than I am the politics and business that funded it, and the personal foibles of Roebling, the guy that built it. From my persepctive the engineering makes it work, the rest is just window dressing. The other stuff was part of the effort, but in the end the politics could have gone many ways, but there is only one way to engineer the bridge.

We often see the politics of a situation consume the reality of the situation. A classic example would be the freeway system here in Southern California. There are freeways that die because politics prevented them from being completed, as just one example. Politics make other freeways a dream to traverse right up to the county line and then the politics of the next county won't spend the money and freeway turns nightmarish. The thing itself gets lost in what people think about the thing and fights over defintions and purposes and policies.

I would hate to have that happen with the fervor for Jesus Christ that originally founded the Evangelical movement. If abandoning the label in favor of the mission is not the way to maintain that fervor, what exactly is?

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Every Link Counts - Link Today and Link Wisely

CONFESSION - Where your faith starts, hopefully every day.

Deep thoughts on worship. All I can add is there is something to be said for being civilized, just not too much. Nonetheless - No, No, No, No.

I don't know whether to poke fun or to simply break down and cry. Just because we can do a thing, does not mean we should. Still not convinced. But then the UK's moral compass in medicine appears to be seriusly on the fritz.

I really like this Pope.

Now, if this was lamb... Yummmm. I like onion better with my beef.

STUFF BLOWING UP - Here and Here. Why, becasue I'm a guy, that's why.

I other words, God farted.

Just cool.

Play the comic books!

Aiming low as a counterfeiter.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 06, 2006


Illiteracy and Idolatry

John Mark Reynolds has discovered that illiteracy is on the rise. Now bear in mind, we are not talking about reading, most people can read, we are talking about
20 percent of U.S. college students completing four-year degrees have only basic quantitative literacy skills. That means they are unable to estimate if their car has enough gas to get to the next gas station or to calculate the total cost of ordering office supplies.

The study also finds that more than 50 percent of students at four-year colleges have only the most basic literacy skills, meaning they can't do basic tasks like summarize the arguments in a newspaper editorial. On both measures, students at two-year colleges perform even worse.
JMR discusses the necessity and value of words, as opposed to the visual, and concludes.
Illiterate people are doomed to be slaves with souls stamped by tyrants to follow the will of those with words.
I agree with this completely and wonder about its implications for faith.

We Protestants have largely rejected the ornate decorations of Roman Catholicism and certainly the icongraphy of JMR's beloved Orthodoxy as idolatrous. But we forget that our ability to do so arose only with the advance of literacy - those visuals served to preserve and teach the faith in an age when generally only the cleric could read. Those images were how the cleric communicated with the illiterate. Was there risk of idolatry? Oh yes, as there is risk of idolatry of scripture itself and even of those that minister in His name.

The point is, idolatry is not a matter of the object idolized, but of the attitude of the one that does the idolizing. I have personally witnessed Orthodox icons preserve genuine faith in the Soviet Union, when Bibles were banned. The beautiful imagery present in the "State Museums" reminded the Soviet public of what those buildings had been created for and the Lord God Almighty was remembered, and worshipped.

John Mark is right, without words we are enslaved, but it is important to remember that God is God, He is not words, He is not systematic, He is not an image, He is a being, an entity who reveals Himself to us in word, and in image, and in creation.

I fear sometimes that those of us that value our intellects so lose touch with the simple ministry of the less intelligent. We let our words get in the way of the simple experience of the love of Christ emanating from a newborn, or the innocent wonder of the mentally handicapped at the zoo.

Words have freed us in so many ways, they are to be cherished, and studied, and pondered, but, as with the images of the churches of the ages, they are not to be idolized.

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Polluting The Planet With Links

Big doings in global warming world last week. Here's a brief overview. Followed by some comment from the same source. Then there is more comment and link to the comment and comment on the comment. Then this - is it really about pollution, or just a place to argue for wealth transfer? And I've barely scratched the surface.

Well that covers about everything, all we need to do is completely change all of civilzation and there will be no pollution.

He's right, it's what's going on, but the right does it too.

Now I'm motivated to fight global warming - I hate mosquito bites.Money mouth

Besides, why let a little thing like civil liberties get in the way of a good doomsday scenario.

Meanwhile, serious data for serious people. (HT: Greenie Watch)

Abomination...No, Anethema.

Oh, get a life

Because I don't have enough to do.

Avoid trouble, and be thrilled at the same time! Somehow I think this one safety innovation that will not rust from disuse, the testing will be often.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006


Just A Closer Link To Thee

Brad on humility. Perhaps the most lacking characteristic in Christians today. Jollyblogger discusses the consequences of that failure.

Al Mohler on science, religion and epistimology.

The problem with reader reviews and other such things on places like Amazon. Go down tot he reviews...I am sure someone thought they were being funny - guess again.

Speaking of Spiritual Warfare. Speaking of which, note the sensationalism in this story, comparing a call to civil disobedience to a call to violent action. Anybody remember a completely pacifist civil activist that raised civil disobedience to an art form? - You know, Martin Luther King.

I'm sorry, but it took one sick ($#*$(&^ to even make this suggestion. Thanks to the Waffling Anglican for pointing it out and answering it.

I have no idea how God will judge me on this, but an orderly and civil death for Hussein is all about us staying civil, regardless of the fact that it falls very short of justice.

Andrew Sullivan - towering intellect?

Great moments in bureacratic history.


Ah, the inventive soul. (HT: In The Agora)

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Sermons and Lessons


CHARLES JOHN VAUGHAN, Church of England divine and educator, was born at Leicester in 1816, and educated at Rugby under Dr. Arnold. He was ordained in 1841 and in 1844 elected headmaster of Harrow. But the post which gave him the best opportunity as a preacher, was that of Master of the Temple which he occupied from 1869 to 1894. He was a leader in the Broad Church party and his sermons are marked by simplicity of diction, deep sincerity, and rare spiritual insight. He died at Liandoff, of which he had been dean since 1879, in 1897.


And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou - Genesis 3:9.

"I wish," said a great man of our day, "that some one would preach under the dome of St. Paul's, on the text 'Where art thou, Adam?'" A noble subject, my brethren, when we think of it! But who is equal to the task of handling it? The work of God is quick and powerful - may it be so now, He Himself using it, and prospering it in the thing whereto He sent it.

I shall ask you to look very closely into the text itself. I need not tell anyone whence it comes; from the midst of that awful story which tells us of the first sin, and of its immediate consequences. That same story is in substance acted over and over again in every marked sin that is ever done by any man: the same mode of temptation; first inward question, "Yea," hath God said, "is this thing which I wish to do really forbidden?" and then the thought of the hardship; "God doth know that this which He has forbidden is something desirable, something delightful; it is hard that it should be denied me;" and then the growing confidence, "I shall not surely die for it;" and then the last review of all the advantages, "good for food - pleasant to the eyes - to be desired to make me wise, or to make me happy, or to make me independent;" and then the act itself - the taking and eating; and then the sense of leanness entering into the very soul. But that is not, all which sin brings after it. The next tells us of a summons, and after the context of an arraigning, and an examination, and at first a self-excusing, and then of a conviction, and a silencing, and a judgment: only one little word of comfort, one little streak of light, amidst all the sorrow, and all the curse, and all the gloom.

But I intend to sever the text now somewhat from its context, and to look into it, with you, by itself alone. "The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, 'Where art thou?'" There is the speaker - God, the Lord God. There is the person spoken to - Adam, the first man; Adam, from whom we all sprang; the father, and the likeness, and the representative of us all. There is the na¬ture of the address - a call, a summons, decisive, authoritative, majestic. There are, at last, the words uttered - few and plain, yet, when looked into, big with meaning ? "Where art thou?" And we shall not end without appealing to all of you, to each of you separately, to answer that question; to answer it truly, as we shall all have to answer it one day.

Now I shall not occupy your time, or use many words, about the speaker. There are those who profess to doubt the being of God; and there are those, on the other hand, who profess to prove it. I shall not suspect you of the one, and I shall not endeavor to do the other. I am quite sure that in your inmost hearts you do not doubt His being; and I am quite certain that, if you do, I cannot prove it to you. The being of God is not a matter of argument, it is a matter of instinct. The doubt or denial of it may pass muster with scoffing "men in robust health and prosperous circumstances;" but nine out of ten of those same men, finding themselves in sudden danger, by land or sea, from accident or disease, will be heard praying: they may conceal it, they may disown it, they may be ashamed of it afterwards - but they did it: and that prayer was a witness, an unimpeachable witness, that down in the depths of their heart there was a belief in God all the time; in their works alike and in their words they deny Him, but in their inmost souls, like the very spirits of evil, they believe and tremble. God, then, speaks here. I tell you not who He is: you know it; you know that there is such a person, your creator, your ruler, your judge: happy if you know also that He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Now, to whom does He here speak? I will say two things of His call as here described: First, that it is an individual call; and, secondly, that it is a universal call. We try to make God's call a vague one. It is for some one, no doubt; but every natural man tries to put it away from himself. In hearing a sermon, everyone thinks how suitable this reproof or that warning is to his neighbor; he goes away to wish that such a person had heard it, to hope that such a person listened to it; but the person who thus hopes, and probably, too, the person thus hoped about, never thought of taking it home - never said to himself, though he was but too ready to say to another, "Thou art the man." Nevertheless, God's call is an individual one. The only use of it is to be so. O that we could hear it in that spirit! O that we could practice ourselves in so hearing it! Where art thou? not, where is he? Still less, generally, where are they? Read the Bible thus, my brethren, as written for you, for your learning, for your reproof, for your comfort - yours individually and personally - and you will never need it in vain.

But this individual call is also universal. Let us not flatter ourselves that we are more to God than others are: it is a very com¬mon, though a well-disguised notion. We think that our souls are more important than any others; and that is the least form of the error: but we go on to think our faults are more excusable, our sins more venial, than those of others; we go on to think that God will spare us when He does not spare others; we go on to think that our virtues are greater, our self-denials more meritorious, than those of others; and by this time we have got farther away from the truth and the gospel, than the poor self-condemning sinner who feels, and denies it not, that he is yet in the gall of bitterness, in the very bond of iniquity.

The call of God, like the care of God, is universal. It is to the race. It is to His creatures. Hear the word "The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him." If it had been, God called to Abraham, or to Moses, or to David, there would have been some particularity, perhaps some limitation, in the summons; but none of us can say he is not included when Adam is spoken to; be is, indeed, the father of us all: of him we all come. What God says to him, He certainly says to us - to us all, as to each of us.

But we ask, perhaps, thirdly: How does God call to us? I will say, in three ways. He calls within - in conscience. Can you tell me what that thing is in each of us which seems at once so intimate with us, yet so independent of us, that it knows everything we do, or say, or even think, and yet sits in judgment upon us for everything? Is it not a strange thing? We should expect that the whole man would move together; that, if we did a thing, if we said a thing, if we thought a thing, we should go along with it, we should approve that thing: but is it so? No; we carry about within us a whole machinery of judicature; a witness, a jury, a judge, yes, an executioner, too; and, strange to say, it is in early life that the process is most perceptible, just while we are most ignorant, least reflecting, least logical in our judgments. It is the work of many men through life to stifle the voice within, and at last they almost succeed: but do not tell me that you have no such voice within - certainly you will not say that you never had it; and I will tell you what that voice is, or was. It was the voice of the Lord God within, calling to Adam, and saying, "Where art thou?"

He calls also without - in providence. I really know not whether this be not the most persuasive of all His modes of calling to us; certainly it is the most authoritative of all. Conscience may be stifled, but providence grasps us very tightly - we cannot escape from it. Tell me, who caused you to be born where and what you were? Who settled that you should be born in this country and not in that? Who decided that you were to have poor parents or rich, Christian parents or unChristian? Who has managed your circumstances for you since you had a being? Who gave you, who has continued to give you, your vigor of mind and body, your power of enjoyment, or your experience of kindness, or your principles of judgment, or your instincts of affection? Who took away from you that friend for whom you are now mourning - that parent, that brother, that sister, that wife, that child? Yes, we may forget it, or we may fret under it, but in the hands of a providence we all are; we are utterly powerless in that grasp: and whether we will believe it or no, that power is a voice too - a call from God without, even as conscience is His voice and His call within.

Once more, God calls from above also - in revelation. My friend, believest thou the Scriptures? I know that thou believest. Your presence here seems to say that you do. And yet in this multitude how many must there be who do not in their hearts believe! Let me rather say, who do not in their lives believe; for in your hearts I think you do: sure I am that there are some parts of the Bible which you cannot read and disbelieve; of course you may leave them unread, that is always possible - easier than to read them - but I do not think you can read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, for example, in the Old Testament, and I do not think you can read one chapter of St. John's Gospel in the New Testament, and shut the book, saying, "There is nothing in it." I suspect that is why we so often leave the Bible unread - just because we believe it; we feel, when we do read it, that it is God's voice, and we do not want to hear that voice. The Bible is more its own witness than we like oftentimes to admit.

"Who that has felt its glance of dread
Thrill through his heart's remotest cells, About his path, about his bed,
Can doubt what spirit in it dwells"

God speaks; and speaks to us - to each of us and to all of us; and speaks, chiefly in three ways - in conscience, in providence, in revelation: and now, fourthly, what is His call? How is it here briefly exprest? It might have been put, it is put in the Bible, in different forms - but how is it here exprest? "The Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, 'Where art thou?'" This is a call, first, to attention. As though God had said, Listen to Me. That is the first step in all religion. What we want first is a spirit of attention. It is the great art of our enemy to keep our thoughts off religion. That is the meaning of the overwhelming cares of life. The devil would occupy our whole time and thoughts with something which is not, and has nothing (as he persuades us) to do with God. That is the meaning of the excessive amusements of life. The cares of life are not enough to engross the attention of all men always; and therefore the enemy provides something which shall alternate with them for some men, and take the place of them for others. It is this art which God, in His mercy, in His long-suffering, in His desire that we should not perish, has to counteract by His divine sklli. He takes a man aside now and then, from time to time - blest be His name for it! - and makes him listen. He interposes by some chastisement, some sickness, some bereavement, and constrains him to hearken to what He, the Lord God, has to say concerning him and to him. This is the first point gained. Behold, he listens! better still, Behold, he prayeth! It is a call, next, to the recognition of God?s being, and of our responsibility to Him. "Where art thou?" It is as if He had said, I am, and thou art Mine. As if He has said, I have a right to know about thee, and thou canst not evade Me. As if He had said, I am about, now, to enter into judgment with thee: give an account of thy stewardship. Yes, my brethren, it is an awful moment, when a man first becomes distinctly conscious that God is, and is something to him. He may have talked of God before: he may have fancied that he knew all about Him: he may even have prayed before, and confest himself before, and asked grace and help before: but now, for the first time, he sees how much more there is in all this than he has yet dreamed of; and the only words which he can find at all to express his new feeling, are those of the patriarch of old - "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

It is a call, once more, and yet more particularly, to reflect upon our place or our position. I know not how else to express the force of the inquiry, "Where art thou?" It may be read literally - of place. May not some one of those here assembled have been, ere now, perhaps often, perhaps quite recently, in some place in which the question, "Where art thou?" would have had a startling and condemning sound? - some place where he was sinning? some place where he had gone to sin? some place where he would not for the world have been seen by any human eye, and where he gladly forgot that there was yet one eye which did see him? Oh, if God stood this night upon earth, and called aloud to the "Adam" of this generation - to the men and women who form now the sum of the living human creation; if He should call them suddenly from the east and from the west to avow exactly where they were, and to come forth from that place as they were, without an instant allowed them to cover up and disguise themselves; oh, what a revelation would it be of action and of character! Oh, who might abide the scrutiny of that question? Oh, who could stand when that inquirer appeared? But, even if the literal local question could be well answered, there would remain yet another behind applicable to all men. "Where art thou?" is an inquiry as to position no less than place. It says, "What is thy present place as a man with a soul, as an immortal being? What is thy present standing, thy present state? Art thou safe? Art thou happy? Art thou useful? Art thou doing the work I gave thee to do? Is it well with thee in the present? Is it well with thee in the future? Say not, I can not answer, I know not. I have taught thee how to judge of thyself; now therefore advise, and see what answer thou wilt return to Him that made thee."

My brethren, I propose, in the last place, that we all answer this question. it is a very serious thing to do; and it is what no man can do for his brother. Each one of us has one secret place, one sanctuary within the veil, into which, not even once a year, not even in the character of a high priest, can earthly foot ever enter. Yet in that secret place shines forth the light of. God's presence; a light never put out altogether in any man, so far at least as its disclosing and revealing character is concerned, "until sin and perverseness have done their perfect work, and the awful words are at length fulfilled." If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?!? At present, we will humbly hope, that this last ruin has not been wrought in any one who hears me. And if not, I repeat it, we can all, if we will, answer God's question, when He calls to each of us, as He does this night, and says, "Where art thou?"

One of us, perhaps, answers, if he speaks truly. I am wandering. I have left my Father's home; I took my portion of His goods, and carried them away into a far country. Yes, He was very generous to me; He grudged me nothing; life and health, food and clothing, even success in the world, even human friendship and human love, He gave me all these, and upbraided not: He warned me that I should be sorry one day if I left Him; He cautioned me against the perils of my way; He told me that I should not find happiness; He bade me, if I wished for that, to stay; He bade me, if I should ever be sorry that I had gone, to arise instantly and return. My heart was young then, and I thought I knew best; I left Him, with little feeling, with much expectation; His last look was one of regretful love that I left Him and I am a wanderer still. Sometimes I have arisen to go to my Father, but I went not: I was ashamed, I was afraid, I thought I was too sinful, I felt myself unstable, I feared that I might relapse, I dreaded reproach, I dreaded ridicule, I dreaded, above all, the sight of that face and thus stayed where I was, in the far country? I am a wanderer, an outcast still. Arid another answers, like him to whom the question in the text was first put, I am hiding. I have sinned and I have not repented. I have eaten of the tree of which God said to me, "Thou shalt not eat of it, neither shalt thou touch it, lest thou die." I believed the creature more than the Creator?the tempter more than the Savior. I went to the edge of temptation; I desired forbidden knowledge first, and then I could not rest until I knew by experience also; and now my heart is deified, my conscience is deified, my life is defiled; I have lost all right to the beatific vision, for I am no longer pure in heart; now, when I hear the voice of the Lord God, I hide myself, because I know myself sinful, and because I know that He is of purer eyes than to look upon or tolerate iniquity. And another answers, I am resting. Earth is very pleasant to me; I have toiled and I have reaped; I have gathered myself a competence; I have found the happiness of lawful love; I have built myself a nest here, I have fenced it against the blasts of fortune, I am warm and tranquil within: let me alone a little while; it is not long that I can enjoy it; soon calamity may come, loss, sickness, death, into my peaceful home; then I will turn and seek Thee - not yet, 0 not just yet! And another says, I am working. Am I not doing Thy work? Am I not discharging the duties of my station? Am I not setting an example of diligence and sobriety? Am I not availing myself of the faculties which Thou has given to make myself respectable, and useful, and exemplary in my generation? How can I do all this, and yet be religious? How can I "find time for both worlds at once?" But yet, indeed, am I not providing for that other world in making a proper use of this? Let me alone a little while; when I have a convenient season, I will call for Thee. And another says, honestly, I am trifling. The world is so gay, so amusing, so exciting: hast Thou not made it so for our enjoyment? Oh, grudge me not my brief time of mirth and forgetfulness; I shall be serious enough one day. And another says, I am coming. Yes, I am on my way. This is no world, I see it, of rest for me. There is no peace but in God: I sought it once elsewhere, and found it not: now I know my error; yes, I am coming, I am coming, I am on my way: but give me time: so great a change cannot be wrought all at once: heaven cannot be. won in a day: give me time, and I will reach Thee. I am now using the means: I pray, I read the Bible, I go to Thy House, I partake in Christ's supper: surely this is the way to Thee!

Yes, my brother, but why this delay? Why this postponement of the desired result? Wilt thou be any fitter tomorrow than today for that step across the barrier which now seems so premature, so presumptuous? The word is very nigh thee: it is in thy mouth, it is in thy heart - thou knowest it well, even the word of faith ? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," at once, "and thou shalt be saved. Come unto me" - not tomorrow, but to you "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Are there any here present - God grant that they be many! - who have yet one other answer to return to the question on which we have dwelt? Thou sayest to me, 0 Lord, "Where art thou?" Lord, I am a sinner in a world of danger; and, I have learned that danger in myself; for. I have fallen, and I have sinned against Thee, times without number; yet by Thy grace I have risen, and I have returned to Thee, and Thou hast accepted me in Thy Son, and hast endued me, according to my need, with Thy Holy Spirit. And now, Lord, my life is hid with Christ in Thee: He is my trust, He is my life, He is my hope, and the life that I now live upon earth, I live by faith in Him. Under Thy care, doing Thy work, thankful for Thy mercies, trusting in Thy strength, even now I am Thine, and hereafter I shall see Thee. Guide Thou my steps, make Thy way plain before me, in the days that remain to me, and at last receive me to Thyself, disciplined, humbled, sanctified, that I may rest in Thee forever, and forever see Thy glory!

My brethren, the work of God in each of us would be almost accomplished if this one call were heard within. Once let us know that God is speaking to us, and that He waits an answer; once let us feel that He is, and that He will have us to be saved, and all the rest will follow. May it be so now! May some wanderer this night return to his Father; some hiding soul this night come forth from its lurking place; some builder upon the sand lay this night his foundations upon the rock; some trifler be made serious; some worldly man turned heavenward - so that all may have cause to bless God for His word here spoken, and ascribe to Him, through eternal ages, thanksgiving, and blessing, and praise!

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