Saturday, February 03, 2007
Colts Win The Super Bowl Weekend Links I
Key word: TRY - I saw them TRY in Athens too.
Can you say "dumb"?
No, I take it back, this is dumb.
Hi honey, I'm home. -- Tough commute though.
Yeah, but it oughta help cool the planet.
And now his head is shaped like one.
Remind me not to get my hair cut here.
For my retirement
Related Tags: strange, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
These two put me in mind of nothing so much as some of the truly lame villians that plagued Batman in the Adam West TV series, Lord Fogg who smoked a pipe that made a fog you could not see through. Just some sort of lame excuse for doing things England. I have to imagine these two were born more of a desire to see Spidey swing from Big Ben than any actual brilliant character ideas.
Knight I sort of understand, though I imagine he could be easily defeated by simply saying "Ni!" But Fogg, be real, a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and the guy is yours. By the way, what's with the two "g's"? Do you figure the guy imagined himself as stuttering fog?
In then end, given the origin, I'm thinking Wonder Twins.
Related Tags: comics, comic books, comic art, Spider-man, lame villians
Friday, February 02, 2007
Not only are these common English words, and in fact cultural concepts, but they also carry within them theological meaning. Since these words are already a reference point culturally why would we not simply explain the deeper aspect of what they mean when discussing them? I think the issue is not really about acessibility for non-Christians here though, but if a non-Christian expresses interest in reading the bible I recommend one of the four gospels, which relate the life of Jesus. That is the starting point, and indeed the central point. I think when it comes to the words discussed in this post the focus is about new Christians who may not understand terms that they read. I'd agree that not everyone will understand everything upon first reading. But I disagree that the words put forward are too theologically convoluted for people to grasp a working understanding.In the second, she talks about how it is up to us to make our meaning clear:
This whole argument that non-Christians aren't using words with correct theological understanding is a red herring in my view. They have always used words differently to the Christian meaning - but that did not prevent the inspired authors from using those very same terms as reference points. And to be honest - it seems cart before horse to be wrangling about non-Christians having all the correct theology when the gospel - the death and resurrection of Jesus, repentance and forgiveness of sins - is the theology we are given to communicate. But let's say we are talking about the new Christian. Well, there are commonly used words which he or she now reads or hears with a spiritual meaning, an illuminated meaning.Catez is right on with her thrust here, there is no need to invent new vocabulary to communicate the gospel. There are some additional points I would add to the discussion.
Firstly, we are not saved by the precision of our theology. A less than perfect understanding of the meaning of the word redemption is not something that the salvation of an individual rests upon. I am constantly struck by how often we confuse understanding with faith. We are saved by faith, and faith acts in the absence of understanding. we seem so willing to condemn those with a different understanding of words and ideas, when they are not even the source of condemnation or salvation.
Which brings me to my second point, we have to keep our internicene bickering in perspective. Debates on soteriology are interesting and fun, but we have just got to keep in mind, only God has the answers, we never will, at least not here, and we cannot let those debates distract us from our mission, nor confuse the goal. We first convert people to Christ, if we try to make them chose between Catholic/Protestant, etc. immediately we turn them into the battleground instead of the mission field.
Finally, as Catez points out, context matters. We do need to use appropriate vocabulary for appropriate settings. I would not discuss the use of photospectrographic analysis when teaching a third grade sceince class, but that does not mean "photospectrographic" is not a useful word. At an American Chemical Society meeting using that word can save me about 3 paragraphs of explanation, but with the third graders, all it will do is create a spitball fight in the class becasue I have lost the audience.
Words are good, it is how we use them that matters.
Related Tags: words, meaning, evangelism, audience
Remember When I Said I Would Kill You Last? I Linked...
Pat Paulson lives. I just wish Franken was anywhere near as funny as Paulson.
Oh come on, this is easy. The abominable snowman has been eating too much popcorn made with coconut oil.
I still like large displacement and at least eight cylinders.
Ok, I'm offically creeped out.... OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!
I prefer taxidermy.
You know you have a booze problem when...
Just smell fishy to me.
Explaining Kevin Sorebo.
I thought they glistened? But I wonder if this is related?
Talk about the hot seat.
The Impossible Dream. I don't have a problem with nuclear power, but I have been in former Soviet power plants and seen the work force.
Related Tags: joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
1. IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINESSIS. GOD GOT TIRED OF CREATING THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATH OFF.
2. ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE. NOAH'S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.
3. LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A BALL OF FIRE DURING THE NIGHT.
4. THE JEWS WERE A PROUD PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH UNSYMPATHETIC GENITALS.
5. SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIMSELF BE LED ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.
6. SAMSON SLAYED THE PHILISTINES WITH THE AXE OF THE APOSTLES.
7. MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS.
8, THE EGYPTIANS WERE ALL DROWNED IN THE DESSERT. AFTERWARDS, MOSES WENT UP TO MOUNT CYANIDE TO GET THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
9. THE FIRST COMMANDMENTS WAS WHEN EVE TOLD ADAM TO EAT THE APPLE.
10. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.
11. MOSES DIED BEFORE HE EVER REACHED CANADA. THEN JOSHUA LED THE HEBREWS IN THE BATTLE OF GERITOL.
12. THE GREATEST MIRICLE IN THE BIBLE IS WHEN JOSHUA TOLD HIS SON TO STAND STILL AND HE OBEYED HIM.
13. DAVID WAS A HEBREW KING WHO WAS SKILLED AT PLAYING THE LIAR. HE FOUGHT THE FINKELSTEINS, A RACE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN BIBLICAL TIMES.
14. SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND 700 PORCUPINES.
15. WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA CARTA.
16. WHEN THE THREE WISE GUYS FROM THE EAST SIDE ARRIVED THEY FOUND JESUS IN THE MANAGER.
17. JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.
18. ST. JOHN THE BLACKSMITH DUMPED WATER ON HIS HEAD.
19. JESUS ENUNCIATED THE GOLDEN RULE, WHICH SAYS TO DO UNTO OTHERS BEFORE THEY DO ONE TO YOU. HE ALSO EXPLAINED A MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY SWEAT ALONE.
20. IT WAS A MIRICLE WHEN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND MANAGED TO GET THE TOMBSTONE OFF THE ENTRANCE.
21. THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE LORD WERE CALLED THE 12 DECIBELS.
22. THE EPISTELS WERE THE WIVES OF THE APOSTLES.
23. ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS ALSO A TAXIMAN.
24. ST. PAUL CAVORTED TO CHRISTIANITY, HE PREACHED HOLY ACRIMONY WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME FOR MARRAIGE.
25. CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE. THIS IS CALLED MONOTONY.
Related Tags: humor, joke, Friday humor, Bible
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The Experience Of Grace
I am afraid that we have with good intentions developed a "Grace Culture" that is damaging to the church and God's purposes. Sadly, anyone who even suggests such a thing is automatically assumed to be traditionalists at best, and legalist at worst.I think this observation is right on, as any regular reader knows, and yet I continually find it fascinating. Fascinating because the aptly dubbed "Grace Culture" ends up giving anything but.
This "Grace Culture," either directly or not, intentionally or not, sadly teaches that:
- Because of the Cross and Grace, sin is no longer really that bad. God can tolerate it now.
- God is no longer Holy.
- Grieving over our sin and weaknesses is a sign of our lack of faith.
- Life is about blessings instead of personal growth.
- Grace lowers God?s standards.
I can't say "It's all about Grace" because the Bible doesn't pick one word or concept to sum everything up. One can just as easily argue that it is all about Love, Holiness, Righteousness, etc. but the current trend is Grace, and much good has come from it. But as usual, there is some garbage tagging along. I am not anti-grace; just trying to achieve balance.
We hear so much about the parable of the prodigal when it comes to grace, but I never hear anyone preach on why the prodigal received such grace and the good son resented it so. The answer is, of course, repentance. The prodigal had, throgh his experiences, come to know the depths of his depravity and this resulted in true repentance, "Father, I know I am not worthy...."
The eldest son on the other hand held to his pride and thus did not even know the grace which he was receiving, nor did he receive the special grace that the prodigal did. So, are we to say with the Apostle Paul:
Rom 6:1 - What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?No, but we are to come directly to terms with the sin which we already have. Grace is not the ignorance of sin, but rather its direct confrontation.
I am so full of sin, and yet I find so much grace in that realization. Like the older brother, when I say "Gee, I'm pretty good" I miss the boundless and total grace that is already mine. And yet, when I examine myself, when I, like the prodigal, say "Father, I am not worthy...." Grace ceases to be an idea, a thought, a culture and it becomes instead a genuine experience. No longer do I talk about grace, I have it, I hold it, I cherish it. Not because I ignore my sin, but because I confront it.
Your life is more full of grace than you can ever realize. If you do not know that, the truth of the statement lies in the simple act of self-examination. You do not need to debauch as the prodigal did, you need only to recognize that even though you are home with the Father, you too are not worthy.
Related Tags: grace, repentance, experience
Takes a Linkin' And Keep On Ticking
Another good sports night at home - Butler has the best record in the nation. Meanwhile, returning to form IU beats #2 Wisconsin. Which, since Butler beat IU earlier this year should help Butler's RPI a lot - they may be moving form a 4 to a 3 seed come tourney time.
Offensive and stupid at the same time. Now that's a combination!
Lookng to lose friends? Use this! Besides, I've never needed a technological aid to annoy people.
Speaking of annoying.
Someone is going to blame this on "pollution." I wonder what they blamed it on before we discovered pollution?
Yeah, but can he walk?
How's this for a SciFi plot, reaching sentience, it attempts to conquer mankind by creating global warming. Now, do we go Battlestar Galactica or Terminator? No, we go Gore!
Justifying the otherwise impractical. See a lot of that, don't we?
I've always be suspicious of wrestlers. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!
Ugly duckling issues I'm thinking.
Inappropriate? Makes me laugh, but I'm weird that way.
Related Tags: science and religion, college basketball, Butler, joke, humor, sarcasm, wisecrack
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Worship Stuff That Matters
4. Does worship please God? The question's assumption is right: God is the audience of worship, not the congregation (though you wouldn't know it from many an act of worship).If we must consider an "audience" for worship, then it is God, but given the popular understanding of what an audience is, I am not sure I like that word. You see, as the word is used here, it is not who views a performances, rather God is the audience as King - we come not as performers, but as supplicants. Should we receive blessing from the occassion, it is not of our doing, but of His granting. Next proposition:
8. What should we get out of worship? Wrong question. Worship is not a utility but an offering, i.e. a sacrifice, an economy of grace that interrupts and critiques the feverish cycles of production and consumption - which is why the collection is not fund-raising but cultural critique.Those words could be unpacked and then unpacked again. As I said, anything we take from worship is kingly boon, not to be expected. But I love what this says about the collection - it is not a means of funding, but a means of sacrifice, and as such an act of worship. Do you give to "support the church," or out of obedience? Do you give out of thanksgiving or mere necessity? Finally:
10. And what about worship as evangelism, education, ethics? Of course, but as the blessings, not the motives, of worship - blessings given as worship reconditions the habits of our hearts and reshapes our disordered characters.We are vessels, not actors -- channels, not content -- puppets, not dancers. In worship we empty ourselves for Him.
Related Tags: worship, selflessness, King, glory
Seeking The Linkdom
Remember in the Godfather III when you were really creeped out at the church blessing Michael Corlione? Guess what!
You have to laugh so you won't cry.
Some global warming common sense from down under, though I remain inconvinced about the human contributon portion. (HT: John) Laer has further related thoughts
Some very important more on another warming report you'll hear about this week.
IN RE: Super Bowl (GO COLTS!)
African-Americans will naturally enough take their own quiet pride in the achievements of Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy as every other ethnic group does when its members produce extraordinary achievements. (There must, somewhere in America, be an Armenian Athletes Hall of Fame.) But won't America more truly have come of age as a tolerant and mature society when men and women of genuine accomplishment can stand apart, on their own, without being weighed down by the heavy freight of their race, religion or ethnicity? Hold the public relations; forget the ethnic pride. Let the game begin!Speaking of which - OMEN? Here's hoping.
If they were true to the Athenian heritage, they'd probably just take them back,violently. I'd be far more inclined towards supporting them if it were really about heritage and not about tourist dollars.
Cool, but it is still a mystery. Frankly, I don;t think it will be half as much fun if they figure it out.
The slowest news day in history.
Cool, and yet - Not my car.
Obviously his drink got warm.
Speed Dating conversation: What do you do for a living? I analyze bison poop. NEXT!
Related Tags: church scandal, Iraq, global warming, Super Bowl, Indianapolis Colts, archeaology, joke, humor, sarcasm, wisecrack
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
The Vision Thing
The Bonhoeffer quote in question is from his short but very useful book, Life Together, and it discusses problems with "visionary dreamers." David confesses to being such and lays his guilt before the blog reading public. As Bonhoeffer dicusses the problems, they are twofold
- a selfish vision
- judgemental of those that do not share and participate in the vision
I agree, with those problems, but I wonder about the wisdom of discarding the idea of vision altogether. Do you think that Christ did not have a vision (plan) for what He was doing, or the apostles for that matter? Surely they had a vision, the issues arise when we ask, "Whose vision?" and, "How do we execute it?"
God, I believe, wants to have a vision. He just wants to make sure it is His vision -- that He gives it to us. Further, He wants us to be imitators of Christ as we execute the vision, full of grace and charity. Where it gets really interesting is that given God's long history of interaction with the church, it is quite unlikely there will be much, if anything, "new" in the vision God gives us. I don't think God has developed many new ideas of late, he just wants us to get the old ones right.
I like the term "vision" because it creates a certain passion. It is, by the way, possible to be passionate, while still exhibiting the required grace and charity. When we do away with vision, we reduce the work of the church to the mundane, and we lose the energy and the passion.
Why does it seem like the "new" succeeds so much better than the old? I think it is because we get excited about the new, and that is where the rub really comes in. We should be excited about GOD! It is a fairly certain bet that if your "vision" is "new" it came not from the Lord but from your own fevered imagination, and that is where the problems arise.
I say let's build a vision, let's get excited about it, let's execute it with passion, grace, and charity. The best part is we don't need months of brainstorming sessions, consultants, and planners. We need devotion, and prayer and listening. God has the vision to give to us, we just need to grasp it. It is fresh because He is fresh.
Related Tags: vision, faithful, grace, charity, passion, Jollyblogger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Finally a bit of common sense in a water short situation. Technology to render it completely safe exists and is far more cost effective than things like desalinization.
Betcha it's incomplete somehow, somewhere. But that won't prevent the food police from using it to change OUR diet.
No fooling, but in my case it kept people from turning me over and using me for a rake.
Not for nothing our nation's symbol of power.
Here's a game that's more fun if you miss.
Yes, it's true, I've had them all -- BWAH-HA-HA-ha-ha....
Nothing this sick should be this funny, and yet...
Insert your favorite nutter here.
This timewaster is proof we are not nearly as smart as we think we are. Fascinating for hours, the intellectual challenge of watching paint dry. However, after playing, you might end up doing something like this.
Good riddance I say.
This is really cool, provided you are not on the plane:
If you buy this - you have waaaaay too much money.
Snakecicle - yum.
Flying snowman poop?
Related Tags: global warming, water shortage, food police, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Monday, January 29, 2007
EXTRA!-EXTRA! Extraordinary "Separated At Birth" Just Discovered
Mike Huckabee - Republican candidate for President from Arkansas.
Come to think of it - I've never seen them in a room together.
Related Tags: separated at birth, look alikes, Mike Huckabee, Joe Carter
OUCH - Christians Spanked, But Then We Need It
If you are not in the know, Steyn is freelance columnist, living in New Hampshire, and writing for publications in America, Canada, and Europe. He is a first class writer managing to be absolutely devastating to much of the nonsense that passes for thought in our world today while making one laugh at the very same depressing moment. His book, America Alone may be one of the more important short books written in the last decade.
Anyway, in the column I link above, Steyn turns his wit onto the writing of one Canon Smart, the Director of Lay Education for the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. In the piece Steyn skewers a piece by Smart, widely circulated in Anglican publications, concerning among other things the glories of "a good poop" and speculating that Christ likely had sex with his "women admirers." Says Steyn:
I would wager Canon Smart knows as little about "guys" as he does about "anything biblical or scholarly". What does he mean by "women admirers"? That Christ was some sort of Clintonian lounge act taking advantage of the more nubile groupies? You don't have to be a religious believer of any kind to feel pity for a faith reduced to such woefully lame provocations. The Montreal Anglican would seem, very literally, to have hit bottom, though one can find less vivid examples of the phenomenon in almost any mainline Protestant ad campaign or episcopal interview, and, indeed, I cite a few in my book. Whatever the sensory pleasures Canon Smart derives from "a good poop" and shagging women admirers, God's position would seem pretty clear: He created man to be a little lower than the angels but above the beasts of the field--i.e., we are not the prisoners of our appetites, we are capable of rising above them. In his reductio of Christ to one horny crapper, Canon Smart is in effect subscribing to the redefinition of man as a vehicle for self-gratification--in other words, the kind of radical narcissistic self-absorption that has delivered Europe to the brink of the death spiral. It seems obvious that secularism--at least in its Eutopian social-democratic manifestation--is exhausted, and into that barren seam has surged Islam, grim and confident. There are those throughout the West who sense the emptiness of contemporary secularist individualism, seek something bigger, and turn to Buddhism, environmentalism and, of course, Islam. But why would such people choose a faith exemplified by the likes of the present Anglican leadership? A faith that does no more than license your appetites and provide a little pseudo-spiritual cover for modish pathologies.Steyn makes the Anglicans the target of his venom, but much of what he says could apply to most on denominational Christianity in America too. Clearly, it would seem, the reason America is able to stand alone, as Steyn's book contends, is because evangelicalism has kept genuine Christianity alive in our nation as it rots in the rest of the western world.
And yet, evenglicalism too, is frought with danger. I am reminded of a blog series a fellow Presbyterian threatened to start back in mid-December a series which at the time of this writing had not been published. titled "The Dangers of Evangelicalism" the Backwoods Presbyterian cites four:
- Lack of Pastoral Oversight
- Lack of Historical Perspective
- Lack of Eucharistic Awareness
- Lack of Creedal Association/Foundation
I think he is onto something with this points, but I want to leave them up to him, and add a fifth.
- Evangelicals need to develop a coherent, complete, and robust political philosophy
It really takes a denomination to accomplish something like that. Evangelicals within denominations, people like myself, have yet to rest control of the denomination sufficiently to accomplish such a thing. Non-denominational evangelicals, the majority of them, simply are too independently minded to do such a thing. And yet, if America is to indeed stand alone and preserve western civilization we must find a way to accomplish this.
To do otherwise will be to cede governance and societal mores to the same forces that have degraded Europe and Canada so. Over at my political blog, Article VI, I have recently written a five-part series out of a book "Evangelicals in The Public Square." That book takes a hard look at the deficiencies of evangelical political thinking and I recommend it to all interested in the topic.
To evangelicals everywhere, our personal salvation is but a starting point. If we do not figure out how to engage politics and governance in a thoughtful and deep manner. we risk losing the ability to choose that personal salvation. If you don't believe me, read Steyn's book.
Related Tags: civilization, church, denomination, evangelicalism, political philosophy, Mark Steyn, Presbyterian, Anglican
Although the air board did not endorse a substitute, the regulation would give cleaners a $10,000 incentive to buy a machine that uses a wet cleaning system, which use carbon dioxide.That's CO2 folks, the great global warming bug-a-boo. Strikes me this is against the recent global warming moves by the Guvenator. Won't this be a fine inter-governmental shouting match. Of course, there is the other alternative - heptane, you know, gasoline. Nothing like watching a dry cleaner burn to the ground. But then, this is probabaly a move by the makers of the CO2 machines. Other industries in California use perc, some as much or more than dry cleaners and they are not being regulated. One has to wonder why.
Where science and politics meet - confusion can reign. Of course, sometimes, science is just confused all by it's lonesome.
BTW, but relatedly - The Next Frontier
Understatement of the century. (HT: Prometheus)
My definition of a hate crime:
The Sum Of All Fears?
They need an excuse? Not this American of german descent.
It's 60 miles to Chicago, It's dark and we're wearing sunglasses...
Related Tags: dry cleaners, California, science policy, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sunday, January 28, 2007
When You Can Take The Link From My Hand...
I lack the words to describe how utterly repugnant this is.
If you are going to take a pet, it's best to take pet food.
If, well this, you might be a redneck.
There are two sides to eery coin, now the old lady is alone.
Related Tags: college basketball, Butler, sex change, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sermons and Lessons
Francis Landley Patton, Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in Bermuda in 1843. He studied at Knox College, Toronto, and Princeton Seminary, New Jersey. From 1865 to 1871 he held many pastorates, but in the latter year his work as a controversialist and educator began. He took a prominent part in the ecclesiastical trials of Prof. David Swing and Dr. C. A. Briggs, and was elected to succeed Dr. McCosh in the presidency of Princeton in 1888, but resigned in 1902, after which he was elected president of the Princeton Seminary. He was a deep thinker and dialectician, and a vigorous speaker on the theological subjects in which he was interested.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. - John 7:24.
We all know that it was necessary for Christ to die, and that his path lay through the valley of the shadow of death. I do not take this text to illustrate this idea, but to concern myself with a line of illustration which has no reference to His death, and so will avoid the suggestion. We have here, in the first place, the enunciation of a principle which goes far toward unifying the moral and spiritual history of our world. Glorification through death is a principle that may be seen in various spheres of observation, and in the relation of the individual to the race. For instance, a man of ordinary education has a family of boys and girls. He has reached that time of life, the sure sign of middle age, perhaps a little beyond, when he ceased to raise the question that he has been raising about himself, How shall I make the best of myself? and he begins to raise the question - the only question he thinks of after that - What shall I do for them? "Well," he says, "I had but a limited education; they shall have the best the country can give or they are willing to take. I had but few opportunities; there is no lack of opportunity for them. I had many a rough encounter when I first set out in the world; they shall have the advantage of my accumulated earnings to set them up in life."
Sure enough, the boys grow up and fill positions that the father and mother did not fill, and could not fill; and by and by they all come home again, and as they look on the dead man's face they say, or rather they seem to say, "Father did well by us," and they may very well say it. His hand had wrought for them; his head had thought for them; his heart had beat for them; this is the long result - the father lies in his coffin, and the children go their several ways in life, and repeat in their own experience the story; and so "the individual withers, and the world is more and more."
And this principle of glorification through death is illustrated further in the fact that, when the lower forms of life or civilization disappear to make room for the higher, the one dominating phase of the doctrine of evolution is the seeming unity with which it invests everything; because, imagine it true, and there at once you see how moving are the poet's words:
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
This is the story not of the potential, but of the actual. And what is true of the material world is true of the spiritual world. The history of the spiritual world is a history of displacement. You may account for it by the love of glory or by the sentiment of revenge, but we know that God's glory is the final cause, and it is all explicable upon the great scale of divine providence. We all understand that there is a definite relationship between our present and the past, and that we today are the heirs of all that civilization that has gone. Our acts are the result of all that has gone before. They were the seed and we are the harvest: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." The mass of this early civilization survives in the civilization of today. Where do you go to find the origin of the great principle of civil liberty? Where do you go, but to that crowd of sturdy peoples who lived along the banks of the Rhine, and whom Tacitus describes, or to those sturdy barons at Runnymede who extorted the Magna Charta from King John? It is just as true in the sphere of science or philosophy. It is a far cry back to Thales of Miletus, and yet our own boasted century, the nineteenth, and this which may have boasts of its own, has a close relation to the civilization of the very far past. Our astronomy is different from their astrology, and our chemistry is different from their alchemy, but they are closely associated. We see further than they did sometimes, just because we are as pigmies borne on the shoulders of a giant.
This principle of glorification through death is illustrated once more in that a new and expanded form of life is the fruit of death. Take the railroad at the proper season of the year, and see the corn standing as a dazzling glory in the fertile fields of the golden West. Mark how towers herald the approach to the towns and cities, and ask what they stand there for? These are the nation's treasure-houses. These are the storehouses of the world. This is the annual coronation of nature, and simply so many illustrations of the text: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit."
Change the illustration and borrow one from the humbler phases of the animal world, like the caterpillar, which eats up the floor of the leaf on which it creeps, until, by and by, as it begins to realize that its life is nearly done, it sets its house in order, turns undertaker, weaves itself a silken shroud, and awaits the dawning of its resurrection day, and soars away a bright-winged butterfly - a beautiful illustration of the text: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." That is the story of our life. We are born, and we grow; we go on our way, renew our infancy with impaired faculties, and then we pass away. Life is a battle, and we win our greatest victory when we lie down on that battlefield and die. Life is a race, and the goal is at the grave. Life is a journey, and the path that we take lies straight for the valley of the shadow of death. The valley is dark, but beyond the darkness and across the river I see the lights of the celestial city; I get an echo of the angels' song, and the glimpse that I get tells me that it is worth all it costs to die.
The principle of glorification through death is illustrated in the death of Judaism. Judaism was a divinely founded institution - a theological seminary. The purpose of it was to disseminate the knowledge of the one living and true God. With the approach of the pagan world and Christianity it gathered up its energies to give birth to Jesus of Nazareth. That is what it existed for; and in the throes of the birth-struggle Judaism died. Let us not speak reproachfully of Judaism, for the glory of Christianity is the glory of Judaism with an added glory: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth fruit"
Once more (for this is our Lord's own illustration concerning Himself), the principle of glorification through death is illustrated in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We see Jesus made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor. He suffered that we might conquer. He drank the bitter cup in order that we might taste something of the sweetness of the joys of His Father's house. He has settled the question of His own place, and of our place too, in the scale of being. The question whether the finite and the infinite can ever come together has been solved in the doctrine of the incarnation. We do not want any more to sing the old song, which never amounted to very much in the way of music or poetry:
And with the angels stand,
A crown upon my forehead,
A harp within my hand.
We do not want anything of the sort. Angels never rise so high nor stand so low as man. They know nothing about sin or repentance or salvation through Jesus Christ, and are not worthy to sit with Him who judges the ten tribes of Israel.
This text not only fastens on us this principle of glorification through death, but, in the second place, it gives us a twofold vindication of death: the first being the perils of survivorship, and the second being the promise of grace. Death is one of the most philosophical things in the world; and if you put yourselves in the right attitude toward it, it is one of the kindest agencies in nature. There is such a thing as a time to die; for two reasons at least.
One is the solitude of old age - the peril of survivorship - "Except. a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone"; it abideth alone. You can imagine a person very old. His eyes have grown dim. Generations have grown old and died, but he still lives on. He is too old to take kindly to the new ideas, or to see much reason for the changes taking place. He is too old to have an interest in the present, too old to have any friends, and at last he lives, and lives, and lives, until he seems like a monumental intrusion into the present, an object that people stop to look at when they are in a reflective mood and wish to mark the flight of years. Who would not court a new-made grave rather than risk the perils of survivorship?
Then there is the promise of grace. Our blest Lord hallowed the grave by His presence, and left it upon the morning of the third day. The promise of Christ gives us a connection with His own glorious resurrection; and planted with Him in His death, we shall be with Him in His glory. And so the message comes to you and to me: Be not afraid. Do not hesitate to go down, even into the grave. Our Lord has not made it unnecessary for us to die, but He has robbed death of its terrors. He has made easy the approach; He has festooned the entrance with flowers; and we ride through its portals, singing as we go, "O grave, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" and we turn to discover that the door of death is the gate of heaven.
Again, this text teaches one other truth. As we read it, we can not very well help being imprest with the idea that there is embodied in it the thought that there are two contrasted modes of being: a fruitless conservation and a prolific decay. The seed corn is very tenacious of life, and there is a story that grains taken from an Egyptian mummy have been planted and have germinated in English gardens. I believe that this is not so, but the tenacity of wheat in respect to life is true. It abideth; but it abideth alone. Let it reproduce itself, and by and by there will be enough of harvest to feed a nation. We must make a choice between a fruitless conservation and prolific decay. And this choice comes to us in so many ways. We see it in the sphere of prejudice. Prejudice is often, but it is not always, right. It is very often misplaced or perpetuated beyond a time when it does any good. (You never find a man cherishing a prejudice, because he says he is "standing up for a principle.") It was good enough when he started; it served its purpose at first; but it has outlived its usefulness, and is now just a prejudice. A good many years ago, at the foundation of the London Missionary Society, a speaker said, "We stand today at the funeral of bigotry." There is not a word of objection to that, except that these obsequies have been so unduly protracted. God send the day when men shall recognize the lineament of Jesus Christ in one another's face, whether they be Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or what! And this principle, this choice, whether there shall be a conservation that is fruitless, or an expenditure that is generous, meets us everywhere. It meets us in our relationship to the past. There is a sort of medievalism cherished and fostered by some people with an odor of sanctity - they love things which are old. And there is a vandalism that destroys the old, and worships the new, because it is new. My friends, they are both wrong. Let us look at our inheritance of the past in proof of this. Hold fast to that which is true, and do not hold anything that is not. Read the great formularies of worship with the critical light of modern thought, and hold on to that which is true. The Jerusalem Chamber is not holy ground, the Westminster divines were not inspired. If they said what was true, it is because of the truth of what they say that we hold on to it, not because they said it. And what is true in regard to these formulas holds true in reference to our own individual life. But there are times, I suppose, when people who live in a city as busy as this is, and where the engagements of the week run over into two weeks, and where every hour has its own employment, there are times, I suppose, even here that people have leisure to sit still while the fire burns; and in these choice stolen hours, I suppose, figures of long ago come out upon the canvas, and stand there in bold relief; and we say that they were happy days. Imagine that dear old room, and those pictures of long ago coming before us, when our imagination was all aglow. I can imagine that the doorbell might ring, and that one of those that we have not seen for fifty years was announced. I can imagine the conversation that would ensue. We would talk excitedly for twenty minutes, and then the conversation would flag, and before the hour was up we would be completely disillusioned, and would see that our paths had diverged. All that sort of thing was good in its way and time, but it is not the time for it now. Of course, we must have a foundation for the house. Still we do not live in the cellar. We live upstairs in the sunlight, and experience says we do well. These past incidents of life are just the foundation, and it is the superstructure after all that you build upon; and unless a man is willing to part with the past, he is going to make a mistake. Unless we learn to do better today the things that we did yesterday, and paint a better picture today, and write a better poem than the last, and are more proficient in our arts, we are just as good as dead. We are eternally improving and moving on. There is a conservation, steadfast and still; and there is a forgetfulness and a generous prodigality of past attainments that is prolific of vast results. There is your health. What are you going to do with it? You had better wear out than rust out any day. You can see people who make themselves obnoxious to you by their everlasting attitude of complaint. There is something better for a man to do than to take care of his health, and he will probably live longer if he does not. Is a man who has an intellect expected to have nothing better to do than to play nurse to his body that he has to summer in the North, and winter in the South, and to clothe with purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day, and give it now and then a trip to Europe - a body that is bound to die? There is your life. What are you going to do with it? There is your money. What are you going to do with it? Why, invest it, and be careful about your security, and don't be careful about the interest, and keep on investing and reinvesting, until it will take the figures of astronomy to count it. As fortunes go now, astronomy is not in it. Invest it, and then what do you do? There are so many things that some people might do and do do, that so many more people might do. They might perpetuate their names by doing something for the Church, for education, and for the world, and its moral, spiritual, and intellectual advance. God be praised for this! You, who have cast your bread of benevolence upon the waters of Christian philanthropy hope that you will receive it after many days. This world's history shows that our forests have not been cleared by the brawn of men who lived in comfortable homes. How have our liberties been secured? By the blood of men who counted no service too great. Can we do that? William of Orange might have lived a long life, but he stript himself of land and fortune, and planted himself in deadly opposition to Alva, and died a monument to the fall of Spanish tyranny. Yes, my friends, in humbler spheres it is your privilege, and mine, in the house of this tabernacle, to choose between the alternative of a conservation which is fruitless and an expenditure that is substantial, generous, and prodigal. It is a choice for us to make. Wrap yourselves in your mummy folds, and live for yourself or, in generous forgetfulness, live for God and country, and for fellow men while you live, and when the hour comes, without fear, if need be, drop into the ground and die.
Help us, O Lord, to endure as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Help us to do our duty so completely that every day we do better and become better and be with Christ. Help us that we may be ready for death, and in that last encounter may be as brave as in all the other encounters of our lives. Give us this faith to the end. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Related Tags: sermon, lesson, Francis L. Patton