Saturday, December 09, 2006
Yes, You Have To Read On Saturday Links
I do love the idea of the church doing something about the lack of virgin marriages, but I'm not sure this is the right thing.
Better than whatever is on TV
For Americans only:
I need to learn this trick...
Where's the muscle? Why I didn't bother this year.
Tasteless perhaps, but too cute to be offensive. Listen Here
These are very funny - the worst part is I have been to that joint in Tipton. UPDATE: It appears this link has died, so here's the joint in Tipton:
Eureka! - Now I know.
Related Tags: Butler basketball, church, virginity, joke, humor, sarcasm, wisecrack
Actually, I think I can, I think the whole idea is a somewhat twisted joke by some of the team there in the bullpen. Let's think about this for a moment. Once again, the villians name is Joystick. Now given that comics are largely consumed by boys and the occassional man - and given that gender's particular predilections concerning certain portions of their anatomy -- well, I think you get the joke now.
Well, this series is about lame villians and it is a really lame joke, which pretty well explains why she's here.
Related Tags: comics, comic books, comic art, Spidey villians, lame, Joystick
Friday, December 08, 2006
Is Ministry Addictive?
On the one hand, I have a great deal of sympathy for the thousands of God-fearing, hard-working pastors out there. Born of humility, stewed in repentance, these men, and depending on your particular bent, women, are doing the hard work of the church.
On the other hand, there are so many that do what they do for all the wrong reasons. "It's easier than a real job." There's a power trip involved. For some scholasticism appeals more than productivity. For some it's the very fact that they can hide behind the pulpit and avoid the genuine spiritual development the rest of us work so hard to obtain.
I'm not sure there will be a specific point to this post, but there are two comments I want to make.
The first comment I want to make is that the very language of the Ur post makes the problem much worse. It is steeped in the language addicition and psychology when it should be drowning in the language of sin, repentance and grace. The very heart of the problem described is the expectation of a pastor, either from the congregation or self inflicted.
I, for one, long for a pastor that is not perfect, but instead models confession and repentance. A pastor that lives by the trite, but true "Please be patient, God's not finished with me yet." Isn't that, after all, really what the Christian life is all about? The perfection of re-creation is our goal, but our life is the process. The process is one of failure, confession, repentance, and gradual improvement.
The second point I want to make is that in the creation of "offices" of ministry we create these expectations when I think all scripture called us to was ministry. "Offices" must be maintained and adorned, they become the seat of credibility for the institution. I think God has a different model in mind for His church.
We are all called to ministry, and at different times, I think we are all called to different ministry. This reflects the fact that all of us will from time-to-time fail in our life with Christ. I talked a while back about how Ted Haggard did not need to be restored to ministry, that personal restoration was in fact his current ministry. When we create offices and invest people with those offices, we make it most difficult for people's ministry to change, for the office defines the ministry.
I am not sure the answer to this problem, for churches that have more mobile systems run into huge problems with power plays and so forth.
Which is the real point, I think. We are all sinners and we all sin. Pastors and pew-sitters. When that becoems the basic fact of the church, and appropriate responses are executed (confession, repentance, etc.) we'll be a lot better off. A lot better.
Related Tags: ministry, addiction, office, confession, repentance
With Great Power Comes Great Links
Dadmanly devestatingly comment on same. His comments about the youth involved are most telling. This whole thing stinks of Vietnam so bad it's ridiculous. The only war we ever lost and we want to repeat the strategy? I don't get it.
Non-biodegradable waste in the oceans is really old news. But check this
Microscopic particles of plastic could be poisoning the oceans, according to a British team of researchers. [emphasis mine]Just once, once, I'd like evidence rather than suspicion before we push the "press panic" button.
Oh Gee! You Think?!?!?! (HT: RBC)
I cannot believe that with Europe literally dying I would find an article like this on the BBC.
The Anglicans get something right.
Another reason for my distaste. (HT: BHT)
In a situation this sick, it strikes me as sicker to have the primary concern be the cats. Speaking of bad animal priorities.
Ah, the wheels of justice.
Sounds like a divorce is in order.
The priest/pimp - won't be long before some church picks up that idea.
Related Tags: ISG report, environment, pollution, prosperity gospel, joke, humor, wisecrack
Friday Humor - Blatant Rip-Off Edition
A Louisiana State trooper pulled a car over on US165 about 2 miles south of the Louisiana/Arkansas State line.
When the trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver said he was a magician and juggler and was on his way to Monroe to do a show at the Shrine Circus. He didn't want to be late.
The trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling and asked if he driver would do a little juggling for him then he wouldn't give him a ticket.
He told the trooper he had sent his equipment ahead and didn't have anything to juggle.
The trooper said he had some flares in the trunk and asked if he could juggle them. The juggler said he could, so the Trooper got 3 flares, lit them and handed them to him.
While the man was juggling, a car pulled in behind the patrol car, a drunken good old boy from Arkansas got out, watched the performance, then went over to the patrol car, opened the rear door and got in.
The trooper observed him and went over to the patrol car, opened the door asking the drunk what he thought he was doing.
The drunk replied, "You might as well take me to jail, cause there's no way I can pass that test."
Related Tags: Friday Humor, joke, humor, wisecrack
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Rom 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.But knowing Joe, I gotta think that's on purpose.
Joe recommends a 4-step process:
1. Choose a book of the Bible.So simple, so amazing. One of the things that annoys me from time-to-time is how much analysis we give to scripture and how that analysis can rob it of its power.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all 66 books of the Bible.
Let's think about this for a minute. We are fallen creatures, and it is as easy for us to corrupt something as it is for us to extract God's designed benefit from it. Our analysis could easily go quite awry and it would completely escape our notice.
But scripture is not merely God's creation, and therefore generally revelatory - it is His direct revelation and when we analysis it we are imposing ourselves on that revelation when we should be drenching ourselves in it.
Does this mean I am against biblical scholarship - no, not at all. This simply means biblical scholarship is no substitute for reading the Bible. There is much to be learned from scholarship, much that has been learned, but it is also a filter and removes the power of God speaking directly to us. We need both. Study, yes, but sometimes we need to just read.
Joe finishes his post with seven helpful tips for making your way through the 4-step process. I'd like to add one more. MEMORIZE. It's not that hard people. It is something that I have slipped at in recent years. As technology has enabled me to have a Bible conveniently with me, word searchable, at all times - it is so easy to look it up instead of dredge it from memeory.
But it's not the same as memorization.
Deut 11:18 - You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.Looking something up does not "impress words on our hearts." I think memorization greatly enhances the transformative power that this is really about. They cease to be words and become part of the fabric of our being.
Related Tags: faith, transformation, Bible reading, memorization
70's Soul Links
Tolerance can be exercised only by those who have well-grounded convictions... Those who have no such convictions, but who espouse polite doubt, agnosticism, skepticism, or downright nihilism, can only be indifferent, not tolerant.Doubt it. Can't be verified since it dates to about 300 years to late. There is a reason reliquaries cannot be authenticated. (HT: Justin Taylor)
I wish I was important enough to have people read things like this for me and give me the gist, but alas, all I have for such purposes is talk radio. I'll get to it when I can, but in the interim I have tried to sample the comment enough to say something intelligent. If you weren't around for Vietnam, I could see where this stuff would be seductive, but I was and the ISG report is defeatist pure and simple. Are conditions in Iraq adverse - YES - but I thought we were the nation of Vince Lombardi, you know, "When the going gets tough..." If we, as individuals, lived our lives as this thing suggests we conduct our military engagements, we'd all be living in our parents basement. -- It's Pearl Harbor day, if we reacted then like this thing proposes we'd all be goose-stepping.
Think what you will...He's the best.
True motivations revealed?
Food for environmental thought.
Finally, China enforces some sort of environmental regulation.
To my preacher friends...I triple-dog-dare you. Just be sure to post it.
You know, if you decorated it for Christmas...
Proof of life on Mars? Looks like someone peed.
Why are images of "The Wizard of Oz" dancing in my mind?
What every kid needs for Christmas.
Was it really necessary to be that specific?
Pigs fly - into trouble. Me, I just want some ham and sausage, maybe a lovely pork shoulder roast.
Related Tags: tolerance, Apostle Paul, ISG report, Bob Knight, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Grace and Dominion
The point is clear: most of society's advancements have come through pagan men and women.Ths resonates well with some stuff I wrote a while back about how we are to view creation - starting here and then a later series here. Rob puts a much finer point on this than perhaps I did. The current cry about the need for "Christian environmentalism" actually lessens God. It is common of the very human focus of so much that is evangelicalism today. It presumes for us more power than God has granted us. It makes it appear that we can destroy that which God has made.
Yet oddly enough these advancements have furthered the dominion of God's earth, thus fulfilling His direct command. Isn't this just like God? Isn't it just like our God to give so graciously and abundantly to men the minds they have used to advance His dominion of His earth. He gives them food to eat, clothes to wear, houses to live in, and salaries to live upon. And look at how our world is blessed to have their inventions and discoveries! His common grace to them has afforded us the fruits of their labors. How gracious of God to keep on giving to men who never praise His name or acknowledge Him as the source of every detail of their labors.
He has used and continues to use pagan men to accomplish His command to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. God means to get glory for Himself through obedience to His central command for mankind...even if it means mankind doing it through their own self-righteousness.
He will glorify His justice and holiness on that day when He shows them His sovereignty over their stubborn refusal and how He used their minds despite the sin that raged within it...all in order to achieve His primary purpose for them on earth.
I did comment in that earlier work that our technological creativity was a reflection of our "imagness" of God, but as Rob here points out, that reflection brings glory to God, regardless of whether we are calling upon God or not.
The call for "Christian environmentalism" does two things very wrong. First, its denies God's ultimate sovereignty. Secondly, it relies on us, not on God.
As I have said many times, the church is not ultimately a political organ, it is a spirutal one. Increasingly, as I reflect, "Christian environmentalism" looks like just another effort to build political power instead of rely on the power of the Almighty. Not our power - but His power.
God, grant me reliance on you!
Related Tags: Christian, environment, Christian environmentalism, glory, dominion, sovereignty
Right conclusion, wrong reasoning. Violence isn't the issue - idolatry is.
Couldn't happen to a better politician. Nice guy, lousy President, worse ex-President.
You know what really bothers me about this? There is some argument for this nanny-state crap as a means of controlling health care costs, but municipalities don't bear shared health care costs much. Therefore this move is purely political grandstanding, and it is deeply troubling that this issue is upper-most in people's minds.
Do-All Plane. Interesting concept, yes the price tag is high, but the untility nearly universal Note the breadth of funding. Not since the F-4 Phantom will an aircraft have seen such broad inter-service and -national usage. You know why Southwest Airlines is cheap - mechanical uniformity, reducing maintenance costs tremendously. Something to think about while they gripe about development costs.
If you'd known Topaz, this would not be news.
Welcome to unusual hobby day here at Blogotional. Strange but useful. -- A bit obsessive -- Time to get a life.
Will wine made from grapes grown on a graveyard make zombies? Enough of any wine usually does that trick.
Been there, seen this. Pretty funny.
If it came with a utility belt it would be a dream come true for me...
Is this what happens if you do too much of this?
Imagine glasses that delivery imagery like this...
I'm gonna make a fortune!
Related Tags: PC(USA), Left Behind, violence, Jimmy Carter, nanny state, military hardware, hobbies, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Friendship, Revelation and Repentance
As of 2004, the average American had just two close friends, compared with three in 1985. Those reporting no confidants at all jumped from 10 percent to 25 percent. Even the share of Americans reporting a healthy circle of four or five friends had plunged from 33 percent to just over 15 percent.Dan then goes on to talk about the pain and cost of isolation. It reminded me of something I wrote a while ago at my first abortive, self-technologied attempt at a blog. Here's part of what I wrote that day, about intimacy:
Think about sexual intimacy for a moment. I don't have a lot of experience with that with anyone but my wife, but in this day and age it is not hard to find those that have a certain breadth of experience and it is not very hard to read about it at all. From the information I have been able to gather, the greatest reluctance in those situations is not the sex, it's the nudity. Why do you think that would be the case? Why is nudity a barrier to sex? Nudity is pretty necessary to sex; I don't know about you but the wife and I find that clothes usually get in the way.Another way to look at this is that isolation is a very real form not only of self-delusion, but of narcicism. Relations with others shape us, grind off the hard, sharp edges - force us to change, at least a little.
I think the answer is straightforward. Clothing creates an illusion. We can make ourselves look better than we really do look when we are clothed. But when we get naked we find that the object of our lust may not be quite as spectacular as the wonder bra (or sock in the pants) led us to believe. Sexual intimacy requires that we reveal ourselves, including our imperfections, to our partner. Nudity puts at risk our image of perfection, and more importantly puts at risk the desire that image has created in our partner, and thus we risk rejection.
Relational intimacy is the same. The more intimate we become with someone socially, the more we risk their discovery that we are not quite all that we are cracked up to be. The reason that intimacy is in short supply today is not because technology is in the way; it is because people are no longer willing to risk the exposure that intimacy requires.
Why is that? Everybody is imperfect; we all have foibles and problems, why should it be so hard to let others see them? I think it is because when we expose those imperfections to others we expose them to ourselves. The image that is REALLY at risk in intimacy is not the image the other has of us, but the image we have of ourselves. The risk is not that they will reject us, but that we will reject ourselves, or more aptly, we will be forced to confront the issue and try to fix it.
Let me say that again -- THE RISK OF INTIMACY IS NOT THE RISK OF REJECTION BY THE OTHER, IT IS THE RISK OF US HAVING TO CONFRONT AND WORK ON OUR OWN IMPERFECTIONS. Anyone in the psychology business is probably reading this right now and going, "No, Duh!" But I really need to establish that point to get to the real point I want to make.
That confrontation of our own imperfections is what I have called brokeness. Brokeness is the self-revelation that I am a wretch. Repentance, as discussed last week is the acknowledgement of the self-revelation.
The reason there is a church is because exposure to the other leads to repentance, and improvement. And yet we find ourselves increasingly trying to find ways to do church that void those affects, that allow for the continuning self-absorption that is so obviously counter to God's natural order.
We cannot demand this change from the church unless we are willing to take the first step. Go make a firend, and reveal yourself.
Related Tags: intimacy, friendship, repentance, self-revelation, church
Liberating Links of Loveliness
Speaking of God being subject to our understanding...
The church being very silly. There is a better way people.
And speaking of silly... Folks, if God is calculationally reducable, we have a huge problem.
It must be Christmas for all this silliness to be floating in the press.
The study, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, came a day after researchers said new crops adapted to a warmer climate are needed.Do I smell a carefully orchestrated PR campaign? At a science conference? Oh Yeah!
Meanwhile, not at such a conference, evidence showing that climate change is "natural," and cyclical is uncovered, and yet, it's not presented as contrarian. When there is an established story line, keep the public confised.
It would help, too, if reporters stopped equating the pro-regulatory position with environmentalism. There are plenty of true environmentalists who do not accept the regulate-first mantra.AMEN!
I make a lot of fun of animal rights people, but not properly euthanizing an animal is very cruel and should be avoided. Go ahead and eunthanize them, just do it right.
A story only I would find interesting - and yet some schmuck wrote it?
Does this mean the salmon have parasites, or they are parasites?
It's a good thing we are not obsessed with body image in this country or little kids might get liposuction.
Now this is science!
Pithy! But then Chesterton always was....
I don;t know about free speech, but it certainly violates common sense and decency.
Perhaps the wierdest time-waster ever encountered.
HEY! - If it helps them sleep at night.
I can't comment - I'm still laughing
In a similar vein, read this headline, then see what mental image forms, then try not to laugh.
If you're still trying to decide what to get me for Christmas...
Related Tags: apologetics, environmentalism, global warming, G.K. Chesterton, joke, sarcasm, humor, wisecrack
Monday, December 04, 2006
On Relevancy - Or The Lack Thereof
I suppose what I'm getting at is the sense that Os Guiness may well be right in the thesis of his book, Prophetic Untimeliness--namely that the more culturally relevant a church seeks to become, the less relevant it actually is.Later in the post he pretty well answers himself:
So then, I believe that Guiness is right in his thesis--whether we totally sell out to a pre-1960's cultural model or the postmodern consumerist Mega-Church model, the result is the same! For the result of our buying into a human outlook and culture so deeply that we cease to have a word from somewhere else still gets us to the same place: Cultural irrelevancy and decline.Interesting language, but right on. I would state it more directly - Christ is the only relevancy, all other concerns are irrelevant.
This sent me thinking on the boom-and-bust cycle of our faith, something happening in incresingly shortening cycles. The relevancy-to-decline cycle took the Roman Church 1500 years of so. For Protestantism it is looking like about 500 years. For Evangelcalism a couple of hundred, what's next? That is indicative of how right this thesis is, as culture moves so much more rapidly than before so does this cycle.
I must confess to confusion; however. My faith drew me initially and draws me now because of its permanance, its very untimeliness, that it is an anchor when all about me is in constant motion. So much has changed in my lifetime, but so has so little.
Many years ago I wandered the streets of the ancient agora in Athens, Greece. I passed a 5000 year old "fast food" joint, then the gym. I passed a bakery where people stopped to by bread for the day. Despite the amazing antiquity, I was floored by how little life had really changed. You still basically went to work, went shiopping for your daily needs, maybe stopped off for a brew or a work-out. Oh technology has changed everything, and almost nothing - in the end its just a better way to do the same old things.
I think there is a message for us in there somewhere - if the business of life has changed so little over these 5000 years - can the needs of mankind for the God of eternity have changed much? I don't think so. The change of the ages is so superficial - and yet we chase it as if it were the most important think in the world.
I think we do so so that we can consider ourselves at only the most superficial of levels. By chasing the relevant, we avoid seeing the sin in ourselves. And yet the solution to that sin lies at our fingertips.
Related Tags: relevancy, timeliness, eternity, sin, church, cycle
I Do Mondays Links
We've looked at it before, but as a reminder, the politics are getting really ugly.
Here's some anecdotal evidence of the confusion.
Symbolism over substance, global warming as marketing tool. 13 planes only, London airports only, December only - not much impact there, save on the ground traffic control at Heathrow.
Hold on! - I thought we believed in evolution? Shouldn't the plants adapt to climate change on their own? Why do we need to "develop" new ones? Because it about squeezng money our of people and governments? Maybe??? While wondering, consider this - and not because I consider "air capture" to be a good idea.
That must have been an interesting phone call.
Conclusion: Global Warming is every lefty's dream - they can make us give up our cars and our meat.
It's a fish, it's a carbon based life form. Antibiotics are carbon based. Sounds organic to me, what's the beef here?
This is not good. Nations are founded to establish and maintain the rights of men - not animals. Don't you at least have to sentient to have political rights? By the way, forgive this incredibly sexist comment, but why are all the people pictured women?
Cool - too bad Muslims and Jews will fight over a Christian church.
IF you take your fantasy life way too seriously, have I got a map for you. Live long and prosper!
The best way yet to see London.
Time-waster, with an excellent sense of humor.
Related Tags: climate change, global warming, archeology, joke, humor, wisecrack
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Get Your Links Here!
Mark Daneils is going to blog on spirtual gifts through advent. I'm betting his Lutheran perspective is going to be uniqure and interesting in comparison to the usual charismatic/cessasionist debate.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear and waste some time.
Be afraid, be very afraid:
But there are other possibilities.
I quite frankly don;t know what's worse, the fact that someone thought of this, or that some darn fool is gonna pay for it...
I thought a review of a book about superhero physics would be fun, then I read this
One problem with thinking about this stuff for too long is that everything else starts to seem utterly insignificant in comparison.NO NO NO! Physicists study physics, energy and matter - God is the stuff of metaphysics and studied by theologians and philosphers. Physicists that try to tell you differently are jerks with agendas.
These physicists are trying to understand God, while the rest of us are muddling along, going about our daily business not far removed from those Paleolithic people or even the insects underfoot.
Give me a break
Why the real Santa uses reindeer.
Related Tags: secrets, treason, spiritual gifts, robots, weight, physics, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sermons and Lessons
WILLIAM SELBIE, Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, England; born, Chesterfield, December 24, 1862; educated, Manchester grammar school, Brasenose and Mansfield Colleges, Oxford; lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament, Mansfield, Oxford, 1889,90; minister of Highgate Congregational Church, London, 1890-1902; Emmanuel Congregational church, Cambridge, after 1902; editor of The British Congregationalist; lecturer on pastoral theology at Cheshunt College, Cambridge.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, 1 will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. - Jer. 31: 31-34
Here is the message of a new time, the message of brightest hope and of fullest regeneration in the whole of the Old Testament. This promise of hope our Lord laid hold of as He approached his hour of darkest trial. He held it before the eyes of His disciples when the dread hour of parting from him weighed like a nightmare upon their souls. He planted it at the heart of the sacrament of life and of death which he sent down the Christian ages to bear his remembrance before the eyes of men; "This cup is the new covenant in my blood."
It is the message of a new time for every age and for every soul. It awakens in man's soul the consciousness that he is the master and not the slave of years and centuries. To the old and weary it holds out the promise of newness. He ceases to move mechanically from day to day, allowing the custom and circumstance of the times and period to decide his action and determine his fate, it reveals to him that he is a son of eternity as well as a child of time. He stands above the flow of time, guides its course, determines its character, and gives it an ever new content of worth and meaning out of his own eternal spirit. He looks before and after, and learns that his mastery of the future has not been forfeited to the debts and bonds of the past. He finds that in repentance and forgiveness he may even recover the lordship of the past, and the future opens up before him as a broad heritage upon which he may enter and where he may reign as monarch of the morning and springtide.
How natural to every man is the longing for newness and freshness! It often appears as mere trivial curiosity or superficial love of novelty, but even these are strong intimations of the hope revealed in the new covenant. More solemn and serious are the ever-recurring new vows, new resolves, new promises, which men make in critical and crucial hours and events of their lives, and though the vows and promises I be often broken, and great resolves come to naught, so long as a spark of humanity glows in the soul, man, feeling his mastery over time, renews his hopes, his vows and his covenants. But the justification and power of every new hope, of every regeneration, lie only in the broad principles of the message of the new covenant.
The first and most important fact about the new covenant is that it is God that makes it; "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant." This is the fundamental religious idea in the Old Testament, and indeed in all religion. Behind every law and ordinance and promise of the Old Testament lies the covenant relation between Jehovah and His people. It is proclaimed with fresh emphasis and with a new wealth of gracious meaning by Jeremiah, but it was implied and often exprest in God's dealing with Adam, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with Saul and with David. It means that Jehovah of His own free will and loving kindness began a friendship with these men, that He graciously condescended to enter into a bond of mutual fellowship and faithfulness with His people. We are not to think of this covenant as a bargain or agreement between equals, but as the offering of gracious terms by the absolute Sovereign, by which, however, He bound Himself in mutual compact with the true Israelites, who received the covenant. The present colloquial usage of the term? covenant ?is apt to lead the mind into the market-place, when two parties meet, each having something which the other needs. One man has corn and the other has money, and the man who has corn needs money and the man who has money needs corn. They each make an offer, and improve their offers until they have found common terms upon which they agree, strike the bargain and make the covenant. But God's covenant with man is not of this kind; there is no market-place wherein we can stand to make terms with God, nor have we any price that He needs us to offer Him. The Hebrew figure of speech which expresses God?s covenant relation with man is derived from a different and an older custom of life?from the battlefield. The picture at the back of the figure is that of the victorious leader, after the battle. He passes over the field of conquest and finds his enemy lying at his feet, beaten, wounded, helpless, and he does not now draw the hostile sword to kill, but bends down to the stricken man, takes him by the hand, sets him on his feet, restores to him life, friendship and hope, and of his free power bestows upon him again the territory, the throne, the crown he had lost. It is so that God finds men, poor, helpless, lying in sin and ruin, and out of his free grace He sets him upon his feet, and bestows upon him the friendship of God and all the hope, joy and riches involved in that. Such is God's new covenant; it is the truth exprest in more technical terms by Paul in his doctrine of justification by faith; it is the truth exprest in language at once more intimate and universal in our Lord's doctrine of the divine fatherhood. God begins the new relation, and all it involves. In Him is the fountain of all new beginnings and out of Him proceeds the binding force of all new covenants. The making of new covenants, the formation of new characters, the acquisition of new powers and riches of life is therefore not so much a matter for us to make new resolves, new vows, new promises, as it is for us to allow God to make the terms of his covenant with our souls. And here is man's hope, the hope for every man, even the man who has often promised, often determined to reform, to rise higher, and who has failed as often. Broken resolutions, the bondage of old habit, and the despair of failure may weigh heavily on his soul; he may have said, "I have tried so often to overcome the same temptation, I have so many times vowed to renounce my besetting sin, but all the vows are broken, and I dare not try again." But there is still one way, an infallible way, the only way - to open wide the gates of the soul, to let God come in to make His own covenant with man.
The next feature of the new covenant is that it becomes for man a covenant of inward principle as distinguished from one of outward rules; "Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt," - not like the mosaic covenant of laws and ordinances, "but this is the covenant. . . . I will put my law in their inward parts and in their hearts will I write it." For the child it is good that he should live by rules which be has neither assimilated nor understood, under commands which derive their authority from the knowledge and experience of others who have lived them, but that is not good for the man, because character, moral worth and spiritual strength are only acquired to the extent that virtue and holiness have become spontaneous forces within the soul. There may be a kind of prudence and safety in keeping within the boundaries laid down by law and custom, without knowing or feeling anything of their inner authority, but that is a weak and poor life to live, with no freshness, no growth, no springtide to it, and one easily disturbed by the fascinations of temptation and the storms of passion. But such is not the life of the people of the covenant. God works from within outward; He establishes the fortress of the soul on the foundations of His ever present love, He binds man to Himself in bonds of never-ceasing friendship and faithfulness that become for man principles of life and conduct, convictions of mind and heart that form the very fiber of the soul?s being. The life of the covenant is not a constant effort, an uncertain endeavor to observe more minutely the rules of good conduct, or to keep more faithfully the laws of acknowledged morality, but it is the free outflow in life and conduct of the work of God in the heart within; it is not the painful and regular practice of the bondage of an established law, but the practice of submission to the working of God upon the springs of conduct. Moral progress and growth of the soul are to make inward and subjective those objective ideals and realities of truth, beauty and goodness revealed in God while He impresses His covenant ever deeper upon the human spirit. The morality of the covenant is not something to be adopted and assumed each time we act, and to be neglected when we dwell in repose, but it is in us, as the breath of life in the body, even the power and spirit urging and determining our every act.
From this follows a third feature of the new covenant, that it establishes between God and man a relation of mutual possession as distinguished from mutual obligation; "and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Law enforces obligations - of man to obey God, and of God to reward or punish man according to his deserts. Such was the relation between God and man conceived under the old legal covenant, now to be superceded. But the new covenant creates a deeper relation. First, God is ours; He not merely undertakes to do this and that for us, but He binds Himself to be ours in all that He is; all His resources and powers are pledged to the service of our salvation. This is the invincible, irresistible might of the new covenant. The power and enthusiasm of Puritanism was derived from its Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and election, for whatever defects in form may have pertained to that doctrine, it meant to them at least that God had given Himself to His people so that He was irrevocably pledged to save them and make them victorious.
And then, we are God's - His own, His property. We are bound, if we accept the covenant bond, not merely to fulfill this or that duty, to keep a number of covenants, perform a number of services, but to give Him ourselves, all that we are, nay more, all that we can be. We make not merely a passive surrender, but give Him our best selves. And this is the place for man?s activity to give to God the largest possession possible of himself. By vows and covenants of his own he will not save his soul, but there are fitting responses to the covenant which God makes with us, so that when He has given Himself to us, we shall not be sparing, and shall never cease giving ourselves to Him.
And this mutual possession of one another by living spirits, as God and man are, involves one deeper and greater relation yet, the final feature of the new covenant; it is a covenant of intimate personal communion as distinguished from one of mediation. "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord: for they shall all know me." This is the climax of the new covenant; it contains and creates all that has gone before,
The old covenant of the law had been given by the mediator of men and of angels; and it was itself rather a medium of separation than a bond of union between God and man. Its institutions likewise, the priesthood and the sacrifices rather stood between man and God than brought man to God. But all this belongs to an elementary stage of revelation, fitted for the shy childhood of the race. It obscures the true attitude of God to man, conceals His grace and mercy, and represents Him as a remote avenging Deity, only to be propitiated by the acts of a priestly order which therefore will stand to man as more gracious and powerful than God Himself. But the revelation of the new covenant rends the veil, scatters the clouds, and removes out of the way all mediating agencies, for in it, God Himself comes to man in such a way that they may have personal knowledge of one another. The only mediator of the new covenant is God Himself in Jesus Christ who comes to all in form and manner so near and so intimate that man can receive Him, know Him and hold converse of spirit with Him. In this intimate friendship with God, iniquity is forgiven and sin is forgotten, so that man may know all the freshness, sweetness and joy of the new life which God makes for him and forms within him, by giving Himself unto him in the loving bonds of unfailing friendship and communion.
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