Saturday, February 17, 2007
Butler On National TV Today Links
Again, I am forced to take the fifth.
I wanna see this with Champaigne:
Ok, no stand-off, no SWAT, I just fell asleep with the door open causing my neighbor to call the cops. Trust me, you do not want to be awoken by a cop....
Not "men" definitely not men.
There's no secret - stupidity required.
What was the film made of? And did the corn still pop?
And he still has all his teeth!
I thought the lived in the ground.
Related Tags: joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Comic Art - Movie Review Edition
The plot line is simply by the numbers. Of course, most movies are, so it takes characters of depth and absolutely great acting to make a movie standout - this movie fails on both parts.
I do; however, hope the movie does well enough to warrant a sequel, for I think the character reaches a point at the end of the film where a really great movie could be written next time. This actually appears to be a strategy with the lower budget comic book movies - put together something minimal to see if there is an audience, and then ratchet up in number two. That certainly seems the case with this summer's pending Fantastic Four pic.
All that said, there is one place where this movie absolutely shines. Despite the low budget and complimentary cgi effects, the movie is a visual feast for the eyes. Ghost Rider is a character in motion and hence can often not be compelling in print, but on the screen - man-o-man - this movie is just fun to watch. I am reminded of the disappointing Hulk film of a few years ago - worth the price of admission just to see big-green-and-ugly toss a tank across the desert.
This movie is likewise worth the price of admission provided your expectations are not too high and you are willing to take it for what it is. Watching what GR does on that flaming bike is nothing short of just cool. My favorite shot is probabaly when the old western GR and the new motorcyle GR ride through Monument Valley together, leaving a trail fo fire behind. Although, riding a motorcycle up and down the side of a building is pretty cool too.
The movie also manages to poke a bit of fun at itself, something almost mandatory for a pic like this. When it does it is great, sadly, there is not enough of it.
All and all, the movie is a couple hour diversion. Word of warning to my Christian brethren - it's all about the devil, demons and all - dark stuff that some could find unsettling. But, for a fan like myself it is worthy, if not great. This character needed to be put into motion and this movie does that admirably, at least to the eyes. Maybe next time....
Related Tags: comics, comic books, comic art, movies, Ghost Rider
Friday, February 16, 2007
Sanctifying The Ordinary
Justin's quotation of Luther addresses specifically the duties of family life. My post on the other hand addressed the "Christian workout" fad. In my post I attempted to say that the fad was trivializing of God's blessing and not a sanctifying of the ordinary. I hope when I have laid it out like this the difference in obvious.
In the situation Luther addresses, the person is encouraged to do for the other. Luther is quoted
O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will?Note the words here - "not worthy" - "serving." Now contrast that with a quote from the article I commented upon:
Ben Lerner, author of "Body by God," says his workout has staying power.No language of serivce, no language of sacrifice - it is self-centered, not God-centered.
"The bottom line is that if you're a Christian, you go to heaven," he said. "There's no weight limits, there's no height limits, nothing like that in heaven. But the bottom line is we are called to honor God with our bodies."
God indeed sanctifies the ordinary, not for us, but for Him. We gain sanctification not by self-improvement, but by self-sacrifice. I think Christ said it best (DUH!)
Luke 22:42b - ...yet not My will, but Thine be done.When will we stop trying to get God to somehow bless what we want and instead start doing what He wants?
Related Tags: sancitification, ordinary, service, sacrifice
New Comic Book Movie Friday Links
When amoral capitalism meets communistic control, you get a scam that would be funny in the west and a penalty moe reflective of paranoia than the crime.
Speaking of scams, this one is original.
Serious people tackling real problems, work, politicians creating issues have concerts.
They don't want a clean environment, they want the stone age.
And thus global warming. (Think about it)
OH, so we like biblical references when they serve our purposes?!
I refuse to comment on this. No good can come of it.
Only a lawyer would find this a satisfactory settlement. Why, you ask? Well, they got paid, even if the clients barely broke even.
How to end up hating your mother for life. Not because it happened, but because it made the papers.
As a chemist, I had access to many wonderful thngs in school which prompted some rather complicated practical jokes. That's all you'll ever know.
If I open a tip jar will you help me pay for Blogotional Blvd?
Related Tags: environment, global warming, scams, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Related Tags: Friday humor, joke, humor, video
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Handling Volunteers - Not!
I've seen the phrase "volunteers are gold" used around the church scene before (mainly from Brad Powell at Northridge Community Church) and I believe it is one of the truest statements I've ever heard. Volunteers are the most valuable commodities in ministry. Without them, nothing would get done in our churches. But I'm sure that most of us would agree that we could do a better job at making our volunteers feel valuable..."Valuable commodities"!?!?!?!? To be made to feel "valuable"?!?!?!?!?!?!?! What a crock of elitist, patronizing CRAP! This just sucks theologically, motivationally, and humanistically.
Let's start with the humanistic aspect. Since when is any person a "commodity." I thought we fought a civil war over that? Sheesh, that kind of language can get a fella into a bunch of trouble. I am sure all those volunteers he seeks to applaud will take kindly to the notion that they are a commodity to be cared for instead of people to be , oh I don't know, loved.
Ah, and then there is the motivational aspect. Leadership 101 - people like to feel a sense of ownership over that to which they give their time and resources. This reads like only real professionals can do ministry, everyone else is just a resource; therefore, to be managed and used as convenient. How about the attitude of service, where the pros are they to aid the ministry of the body, you know, the church - all those lowly volunteers out there.
Which leads me to the theology. WE ARE ALL FREAKING MINISTERS! There are not real, paid ministers and amatuerish volunteers. My father once told me the only difference between staff and volunteer was the paycheck.
OK, calm down, finish the rant....
I think I have made the point. Again, this is a young man and as young people we all say and do very stupid things. I hope someone at this guy's church is moving alongside him and helping him develop just a tad bit of humility.
But I am also fearful that this is increasingly reflective of how us mere pewsitters are viewed by the sainted staff. Just don't view me that way, and especially not in my presence. It's likely to get really ugly, really fast.
Related Tags: ministry, professionl, volunteer, church, theology
Love Hangover Links
That is until years later when the earth farts.
Oh yeah, and while we are changing the world for a fear, 'splain this.
Give me a friggin break! NASCAR vehicles are medium speed billboards armored up like tanks. You want speed and aerodynamics? Try something with the wheels showing.
Politics drives people to watch paint dry.
I can't make fun of the story, but I can the headline. Oh come on, it made you snicker a little.
That takes a big spotlight!
Boy, I'm betting that took a lot of beer!
This makes perfect sense to me. He would have those skills, and the school would have to be locked down because if he was about, then you know a really bad guy was too.
Oh come on, what they NEED to say is, "We aim to please, you ...."
When dogs mewl.
Related Tags: gloabal warming, NASCAR, joke, wisecrack, humor, sarcasm
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Finding God In Math
Most people think it strange that we science types call equations "beautiful." I think that is because such people view math as a chore rather than a description. The world is full of ways to share what we see. Some do it with speech, others with painting, some with the camera, some in dance..., and some of us with equations. When describing what we see with equations is done well, it is, just as art is, beautiful.
A great painting can place the viewer in the location depicted, and create the sensations the artist felt there. So too can a great equation, launch a rocket, and with but a single equation, f=ma, I can tell you where that rocket will be a week from now, within fractions of an inch. Such is the descriptive power of the equation.
So, why do we see art enshrined in our houses of worship, but not equations? Why do we see the beauty of the painting celebrated in the church, but not the beauty of mathematics?
Well, comphrehendibility would be one answer. Most people can appreicate on some level the beauty of a painting, but for some reason, they cannot so appreciate mathermatics. Noted science fiction writer, and atheist, Arthur C Clarke said this:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.Because most people do not understand mathematics, science, and technology it gains the aura, if you will, of shamanism. With that aura, far too many people have capitalized to gain personal political power. Because that power has roots in apparent mystery, it battles the truly mysterious, religion, for legitimacy.
But we should not be fooled, for the true mystery of religion lies in its supernatural, and therefore genuinely incomprehendable, origins. Science, while appearing myterious, is the creation of the fully comprehendable man.
The church must embrace science, even teach it. In the teaching, in the understanding, lies the answer to the debate. Understanding destroys mystery, and without mystery, only faith lies wholly true.
Related Tags: science, religion, mystery, authority, truth
Illuminated Valentine's Day
From the Blogotionals to Our Readers
Love Day Links
Making God very grateful somebody invented Swiffers.
So I went to the sporting good store and they DID NOT have the gear I need for this trek. Bummer.
Connect the dots in the first sentence of this story. I know, I can't either.
Never accept the offer of a ride from this individual.
Student government, only for the very serious.
Pork Fat Rules!
How Iron Man Started.
Ahhh, the power of trivia.
From the school of so ugly it's cute.
Oh, you just gotta love this.
Somebody had a friend that needed some money. Even California bureacrats aren't that gullible.
Related Tags: Al Mohler, religion and science, joke, wisecrack, humor, sarcasm
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Matt rightly points out that a happiness metric is rather difficult to arrive at. I have gone even farther and argued that the world is clueless as to what constitutes genuine happiness.
What really troubles me about this however is twofold. Firstly, for a government to take responsibility for the citizenry's emotional state is laregely political rather than governmental. I mean it is likely to get you re-elected, but the link between that and good governance is pretty slim don't you think? Which leads me to my second point.
Government, even though elective, has a responsibility larger than just serving the electorate. It is responsible for maintaining the public good. Up until recent times, the electorate could be counted on to have a reasonable understanding of the public good and was thus willing to sacrifice personal pleasure for the good of the whole. As Spock says, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
But that age seems to be past us. It is time, if we are to preserve what we have built, for government to lead, not merely respond. The pulic good needs to be explained to us, illustrated for us, and upheld despite our protests.
And we need to learn to be happy regardless of circumstances. We control our happiness, not the government.
Related Tags: happiness, Britain, governance
Love Day Eve Links
Oh no, it's based on statistics and science - how can it be religion? I seem to remember something about "lies, damned lies, and ...."
If they were scared, how do you think the pet felt?
I've been tempted. Perhaps if I dress like a dog.
Not that I need it, but I want it. Like horsepower, there is no such thing as too much computing power. You know, I might want to run my own climate modelling.
Next season on Mythbusters.
And you thought beer was just for drinking.
Nah, Rocky'll calm him down. Besides, every town needs a Mr. Know-it-All.
Hey, give him a break, he was trying to find his way out of his closet.
However, there is now a neat, him-shaped hole in the planet.
If you do this, you're gonna need this - talk about a mood killer.
This is unique, but I was on a flight once where it was the reverse parallel universe equivalent.
Now this is news around which I could build a life.
Related Tags: obesity, statistics, wisecrack, sarcasm, joke, humor
Kitty Kartoons - Valentine's Edition
Monday, February 12, 2007
In his next post, Mark goes on to point out there is a role for being guided by the Holy Spirit, and he then goes through a series on how that works. The simple, straightforward conclusion from all of this is that it is possible for there to be too much of a good thing. Like alcohol, this Holy Spirit stuff must be taken in moderation. But somehow that does not seem right to me, how can we moderate the presence of God in our lives?
As with all things, I don't think this is about moderating the Holy Spirit, I think this is about moderating us. When it comes to the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives, everyone rapidly turns to Paul's great manifesto on the subject, I Corinthians 12-14, but we often overlook the mentions he makes elsewhere, like Romans. Consider:
Rom 12:3-10 - For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; [emphasis mine, as if you needed to be told]Manifestations on the Holy Spirit in our lives are not for us, they are for the other. So, for example, in Mark Roberts negative example
Over thirty years ago, for example, I found myself in Mrs. Poole's Sunday school class. She was a fine teacher, well-prepared, biblically-literate, and interesting even to a sixth-grade boy. Mrs. Poole's Bible lessons were almost always succinct and compelling. Almost always, I say, because every now and then Mrs. Poole would claim that the Holy Spirit led her to depart from her notes and launch into the stratosphere of more direct revelation. As she spoke under the impetus of the Spirit, I was struck by how had she was to follow and, frankly, how boring. If I took Mrs. Poole at her word, then I could only conclude that she was a much better a teacher than the Holy Spirit! Whereas she was succinct, the Spirit was long-winded. Whereas Mrs. Poole had a way of speaking right to the hearts of sixth-graders, the Holy Spirit could hardly keep our attention.How much do you want to bet Mrs. Poole's motivation was about attracting attention to herself more than actual Holy Spirit guidance. Mark admits she was "confused," but I think more, she wanted to speak with authority that appeared to be her own, not authortiy gained from hard work and study, even if it was inspired hard work and study.
Do I think the Holy Spriti manifests directly in our lives? Absolutely, but I think our response to such experiences must always be initially self-examination. Before we declare God's actions to the world, we should first make sure we are not standing in the way.
Related Tags: Holy Spirit, manifestation, direct urging, Mark Roberts
I Link, Therefore I Blog
Global warming: Sensationalism in the Service of Scientism You betcha! Turn science into religion and the money comes easier.
Speaking of which - Mark Steyn chimes in as only he can.
Now, what about the waste IT produces? Trust me, there is some.
Chastity, fidelity, committment...all good things for a church to council us on for our weddings. And yet....
Only someone that doesn't live here would write something like this. The last thing Sacramento needs is more power. BTW, it is our large national unity and subsequent lack of internal boundaries that's makes us as incredibly wealthy as we are.
It's all about me. Yuck!
Cooking food, not drugs? Come on, something was involved to be that inattentive.
Perhaps the most bizarre possible Valentine's gift ever. Turn out the lights honey, let's have some fun.
Related Tags: global warming, environment, California, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Sunday Morning Coming Down Links
This makes me want to cry for sure - and it's from a country with a state-established religion!
Wisdom? Depends on who reads it.
So, what am I thinking right now? No...I'm thinking that journalists and editors that sensationalize headlines are idiots.
Between this and this, it looks like Paul Bunyan's having breakfast.
I'm inclinced to give them an "A" for resourcefulness.
How Super-cats are born.
EUGENE, Ore. - A snorkeler who was shot in the head after he was apparently mistaken for a swimming rodent was in good condition after surgery, a hospital said Saturday.1) It's very cold in Ore. this time of year.
2) The snorkler must be very, very short to look like a rodent.
Gee, do you think there were drugs involved? Maybe on both sides?
How not to impress a woman. Of course, I have no experience with such things.
You may call me 'Master,' my new padawan.
Related Tags: charity, foolishness, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sermons and Lessons
DAVID GREGG, ex-president of Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pa.; born Pittsburg Pa., March 25, 1846; at the age of twenty-three entered on an eighteen-year pastorate in the Scotch Covenanter Church, New York; pastor Park Street Congregational church, Boston, for four years; when Dr. Theodore L. Cuyler resigned the pastorate of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian church, Brooklyn, he was called to be his successor, where he remained fourteen years; president of the Western Theological Seminary four years, resigning from ill health, whereupon the trustees of the seminary made him president emeritus and lecturer extraordinary; author of "Between the Testaments" (which has been translated into Greek and published in Athens), "The Value of Literature in the Construction of the Sermon"
And when he [Jacob] saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father, revived. And Israel said, "It is enough." - Genesis 45:27.
Our text is part of the story of the patriarch Jacob. As a mere piece of history, this story of the father of the twelve tribes of Israel is a veritable gem in literature. It is full of information and thrill and fascination. But the story is more than a mere piece of history. It is a type of spiritual things. It is a prefiguration of the destiny of the good. It is one form of God's covenant with His own. It is a symbol of greater and higher realities. It is a parable illustrative of the operation of divine principles in the life of God's elect. And it is an assurance of God's overrule in the affairs of mankind. Such is the use which the New Testament teaches us to make of Old Testament biography. It teaches us to convert it into the sacramental; and to work it over into a gospel of spirit and of power.
In its inclusiveness, this story of Jacob reminds one of the famous jewel in the crown-room at Dresden. The jewel is a perfect silver egg. When the secret spring of the silver egg is prest, a golden yolk opens into view. When the spring of the yolk is prest, a beautiful bird appears. When the spring in the wings of the bird is prest, a matchless crown of precious gems falls into the hand. Each treasure includes a greater treasure. Such a multifold treasure is the story of this Old Testament saint, which opens before us on the sacred page. It is a piece of fascinating history. It is a spiritual type. It is a glorious prefiguration. It is one of faith's symbols. It is a sacramental parable full of sacramental facts and inspirations and assurances.
The point where we strike the story is the point where the wagons of the long-lost Joseph come to take the aged patriarch to a renewed fellowship and to a grander life, and to the beginning of a more glorious future. As we see the patriarch, he is sitting at the tent-door looking Egyptward. These sad words are still in his heart: "Joseph is not, and Simeon is not; and ye will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me." All the boys of the family are down in Egypt, for they have taken Benjamin away. The patriarch is alone. He sits at the tent-door awaiting the return of his sons. He is praying for their safety, and especially for the safety of Benjamin, Rachel's boy.
Suddenly, in the dim distance, he catches sight of a cloud of dust which rises in the air. This brings him at once to his feet, that he may peer into the distance. His heart says, "There are my sons, and God be praised." But it immediately asks, "Are they all there?" As he talks with himself, the company comes within full sight so that he can discern full outlines. Then he begins to count: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Nine! Are there only nine? Ah, then my dark foreboding has become a reality. Mischief has befallen Benjamin by the way. I should never have allowed him to go." These words no sooner fall from his lips than he sees the form of a tenth person; and his soul cries "Benjamin is safe, God be doubly praised!" Then comes the eleventh form into sight, and he cries, "They are all there! Simeon has been set free! Blest be God, who hath not turned my prayer from Him, nor His mercy from me!" What a heart relief for Jacob! It is the sun flashing in crimson and gold through the black cloud which he saw above his head, and from which he expected only the deadly storm.
But wait! Jacob sees beyond his sons an¬other cloud of dust. Another company comes into sight. What can that be? To his consternation, it is a company of Egyptians. Is it a pursuit? Does it mean that the might of Egypt is hurled against his little home? Is the return of his Sons to end in a worse sorrow? Who can tell the anxious questions that filled the heart of the patriarch, from the time he discerned the Egyptian wagons, until his sons reached him and explained all?
The first thing that gave Jacob relief was the happy faces of his returning sons. They were different men from what they were when they returned from Egypt the first time. Scarcely had he gotten relief from the sight of their happy faces, than he was subjected to a shock of joy, as his sons told him the whole story of their glad faces in this one sentence: "Joseph is yet alive, and is governor over all the land of Egypt."
Do you want a picture of sudden surprize? You have it here. Do you want to see a human heart leap from fear and grief into happy assurance and faith? You see it here. Do you want to see how the soul can paint for itself a dark present and a black future, while the real facts warrant a picture as bright as the sun? You can see that here. The absence of Joseph and Simeon and Benjamin, which was so lamented by Jacob, was working out a magnificent destiny for the household of Jacob. We can credit the narrative when it tells us that the sudden declaration of the sons of Jacob caused their father's heart to faint, for he believed them not. "Joseph is yet alive!" The very joy wrapt up in the assertion was so great that it hindered faith. "Governor over all the land of Egypt!" Methinks I hear Jacob talking with himself, and saying: "If he were alive, by what means could my shepherd lad rise to the highest seat of government in that great land? Ah, these, my sons, are too cruel in their treatment of me. If Joseph were alive, he would be here himself."
It was natural for Jacob to be incredulous at first, and to hold on to his incredulity until he received some evidence from Joseph himself. Remember what he had to argue down before he could believe. He felt that he had irresistible presumptive evidence that Joseph had been torn to pieces by wild beasts. He had to argue that down. He had in his possession the blood-stained coat; and he brought it out and held it up before his sons. He had to contradict the coat, and charge it with black falsehood. He had to turn back the whole tide and current of his feelings, from that dismal day when he accepted the account of Joseph's death as a fact. He had to give up the rest of acquiescence for the restlessness of a revived hope. He had to unsettle everything.
The incredulity of Jacob did not strike his sons as strange. They accepted it as a matter of course; hence they began to persuade him. They told him all that they had seen and all that Joseph had said. They gave him every confirming detail. They pointed to the costly changes of raiment from the palace, which Joseph had sent, and to the full provisions from Goshen, the land of plenty; and to the many rich gifts of Joseph's love. They made these material things talk and bear testimony. And then, to climax everything, they took Jacob, their father, out to look at the wagons, with their Egyptian drivers. They explained to him the purpose of the wagons and read him the invitation from Joseph, which they embodied. This was a master-stroke. For when Jacob saw the wagons his heart revived, his doubts vanished, and his faith leapt into full growth. The wagons were symbols to his faith and spake to him as nothing else could speak. When he heard the story which the wagons told, he believed all that his sons declared. He said, "It is enough."
But why should these sons be believed on account of the wagons? Jacob once believed them when they made Joseph?s coat speak. What assurance has he that they have put the voice of truth into the wagons? There is a vast difference between the coat and the wagons. These sons could control the coat; but they could not control the wagons. The wagons belonged to royalty; and only some one in the royal palace, some one connected with the throne of Egypt, could send them. Now, who in all the world could have enough interest in this lame old shepherd to send for him, and to bestow such royal gifts upon him, except one, and that one Joseph? Joseph was in the wagons; Joseph's love, Joseph's desire; and because of this they spake to the father's heart. Their message brought a glow of joy into his faded cheek, and infused a new elasticity into his limbs, and breathed vigor and vitality into all his powers. Old and weary as he was, he at once determined to go and see his son. His new faith gave him a new life. Making use of the wagons, he went to Egypt and to his son. He saw Joseph wearing the crown of an unsullied manhood as well as the royal ring of favor; and his gray hairs, which he said would be brought with sorrow to the grave, fell in joy upon the neck of the one for whom he had mourned until grief had whitened them.
As we look at the effect which the glad message, "Joseph is yet alive," had upon Jacob, we see the wisdom of Joseph in the way he dealt with his father. One would naturally say, "Now that Joseph knows everything, why not go himself and see his father and bring him to Egypt?" If the simple words "Joseph is yet alive" caused such a shock, and set the tide of life rolling backward upon his heart until he swooned, what think ye would have been the shock had Joseph himself slept unexpectedly into his father's presence? Do you not know that joy, as well as grief, has the power to kill? The daily press tells this story: A young man left his fatherland and sailed from Germany to America. He left behind him the betrothed of his heart, with the promise that he would send for her as soon as his gains warranted. Manfully he wrought his way up the hill of fortune, and faithfully he kept his promise. His affianced landed safely in New York and sent a telegram to Chicago, announcing the time her train was due. The engine came thundering into the Union station, and the two met and spake each other?s name. It was a lover's greeting, full of romance from real life. It was a moment of grateful joy. The greeting given, the affianced husband gently sought to disengage himself from the clasped hands, which were around his broad and manly shoulders. But, as he did so, he found his betrothed in his arms, dead. She died from very joy. The method which Joseph adopted was such as would prevent the shock of joy being too great. The glad tidings were given gradually, and the meeting of great joy was gradually brought about.
As we read how the wagons of Joseph wrought conviction in Jacob and gave him strong and active and vigorous faith, we see the value of those things which we call outward evidences. The wagons were outward evidences. They were a separate and distinct testimony to the reality of what his sons declared. They confirmed the words of his sons. They were outward arguments, proving the things which the sons asked the father to believe. They so settled things, that there was no way open for Jacob to introduce or to entertain a single doubt. Faith only was the order of the day.
Has God outside arguments and external evidences to prove the reality of the religion which He has asked us to espouse? Has Christianity such testimony to offer on behalf of itself and its doctrines? Are there not sacramental wagons, laden with such irresistible proof, that in espousing the Christian religion we build our soul and rest our faith upon veritable facts?
For example, we are asked to believe in the doctrine of God's fatherly care over us. We believe that doctrine because of what God is in Himself. We reason thus: "Since God is the author of fatherhood, He must have the father-heart. We can trust the father-heart." But is there not an external argument proving His fatherly care? There is. There is a sacramental wagon, and He sends that wagon to us laden with fatherly gifts. The sun rolling in its orbit is God's wagon; and out from this wagon there is tossed upon the earth golden grain for bread, and brilliant flowers for beauty, and all manner of luscious fruit for luxury, and flashing beams which give tonic and light and life.
For example, we are asked to believe in the Christian religion, and in the historicity of its founder, Jesus Christ. We accept the Christian religion because of what it is in itself. It is full of purity and love and heavenliness and grand and inspiring ideals. It is its own argument. Because of its very essence, it is irresistible. While this is so, still we instinctively ask: "Are there not external and historical evidences in favor of Christ and Christianity?" The human soul demands a religion that is really and truly historic. We want to know in very deed that the prophetic Christ has become the historic Christ. We want fixedness and certainty in our religion; for only when our religion is a fixed certainty can it dominate and rule us, and fill us with the rest and peace of God. God knows this; hence, He gives us external as well as internal evidences. He gives us material facts - facts that are visible and tangible and usable. He gives us effects which call for adequate causes. He gives us collateral securities. He gives us Christie verities. He gives us monumental ordinances, and holy days, and continuing institutions. He gives us historical certainties, which are acting forces and factors in the world's life. He gives us facts which are contemporaneous with the essential things which we are asked to believe; and which are forever married to these things. Now all of these things - holy days, institutions, ordinances, collateral securities, contemporaneous facts, effects which call for adequate causes, visible certainties - all these external evidences deal with the very roots of our religion. They talk, they suggest, they argue, they prove, they give testimony, they confirm and establish the essentialities of our faith. They leave us no logical resting-place, save a willing and loving and final surrender to Jesus Christ. These things are the glory of the world. They are historical certainties, which come directly from the historic Christ and which lead directly to the historic Christ. They are sacramental wagons from our New Testament Joseph; and they speak incontrovertibly relative to Him, and His life, and His rule, and His saving purposes.
Let me name these! They are the great outstanding and active forces of our Christianity. They are, the Lord's Day, the Christian Church, the New Testament and the Lord's Supper. These are all sacramental wagons laden with spiritual gifts. They are living voices talking for Christ. They are all of them facts before our eyes, and they challenge an explanation. Where did they originate? What do they mean? What continues them? To what do they testify? My fellow men, answer these questions truthfully and you will have a complete vindication of Christ and Christianity. They bear the same relation to Christianity that Independence Day bears to the American republic; and they are just as worthy of credence. They all proclaim Christ, and they all proclaim the gospel of Christ. They are the external evidences of our religion. Certainly each of these externals gives us a fearless challenge.
You hear the challenge of the Lord's Day! It says: "O man, harken unto me. I, the first day of the week, am now the Sabbath of the Lord. I own your conscience. I call you to rest and to worship. I have not always been the Sabbath. For thousands of years the seventh day of the week was the Sabbath of the Lord. Tell me what great revolution dethroned that day, and enthroned me." It must have been a splendid fact that did this! Cause and effect, and effect and cause, must match. Now what was that fact? It was the splendid fact for which I stand, and which I herald to mankind, viz., on the first day of the week Jesus Christ rose from the dead. "Joseph is yet alive!" I, the great Christ-day of Christendom, am a contemporaneous fact with the fact of the Master's resurrection. If this be not my origin, disprove it. For twenty centuries I have done my duty and borne my testimony relative to the empty tomb. Fifty-two times a year I have uttered the cry, "The Lord is risen!" Five thousand two hundred times each century I have repeated it. In the twenty centuries of the Christian Era, I have set forth the risen Savior no less than one hundred and four thousand times. Now, you have my challenge on your hands, and I leave it with you. My fellow men, if each Lord's Day be a sacramental wagon, we have had during the Christian dispensation no less than one hundred and four thousand sacramental wagons from our New Testament Joseph, freighted with the hope of life and immortality.
You hear the challenge of the Christian Church! It says: "I owe myself and my all to Jesus Christ, my head. I came from Him. There was a time when He only existed. Then came John the Baptist; and from that day I began to take on my growth. This is my story in epitome: First there were one; then two; then five; then twelve; then seventy; then one hundred and twenty; then five hundred; then three thousand; then fellowships of believers sprang up everywhere in the Holy Land; then the gospel boldly marched into all nations, until now, I count as my own four hundred million souls. I have come down the centuries through the apostolic succession, i.e., the succession of the Godly. I have come down through the creeds of Christendom; I have come down through the catacombs of Rome, and by means of the blood of martyrs, and the zeal of the missionary of the cross. I have come down the ages through architecture and painting and sculpture and music. I am a triumphant fact calling for faith. Explain me, 0 man, if you can, apart from the historic Christ!"
You know the challenge of the New Testament! It is the greatest small book in the libraries of earth. It is an easy thing to take into one's hand the New Testament and turn its pages; but do you estimate the New Testament aright? It is colossally sublime. It has no parallel in human language. It is the power of God among men. It is the critic of our thoughts. And it is all this because it enshrines the Christ. It exists to perpetuate the Master. The pens that wrote it were pens in the hands of men who either associated with Christ or with His disciples. Have you not often remarked this fact that contemporary literature takes no notice of the Master? The great writers of Greece and Rome who have the ear of the world ignore His existence. But He suffered not from this. His own wrote Him up with inspired pens and gave Him a literature that threw all other literatures into eclipse. My fellow men, Jesus Christ can for all time safely commit Himself to the New Testament. This is the challenge of the New Testament: "O man, match the divine Christ who walks my pages as the inspirational personage of all time." We do not wish to take up the challenge, and we do not wish to take it up because we are completely and absolutely satisfied with the New Testament Christ. He carries in Him the most glorious destiny possible to man.
You know the challenge of the Lord's Supper! Its challenge is perhaps the boldest and most satisfactory of all the challenges. It is perhaps the most heavily laden with good things of all the sacramental wagons which come to us from the palace of the king. We know that it carries in it the cross, and the communion of the saints. It is a glorious fellowship. It brings us the faith of scores of generations of believers, and the hosannahs of tens and tens of thousands of the saints. The Master says of it: "It is the New Testament in my blood." It is very bold in its self-assertion. In its challenge it names dates and places; a most dangerous thing to do, unless one is absolutely certain of his facts. It says: "I was instituted in Jerusalem, and in the upper room, and on the night in which the Master was betrayed." If it were not instituted then and there, it would be self-confuting. In view of this its challenge is the climax of boldness and honesty. It is all that any incredulous Jacob can ask. "It is enough."
Satisfied that the Lord's Supper is all that it claims to be, let us ascertain briefly just what it means to us; and what its sacred symbols utter to us on behalf of our New Testament Joseph, who is on the throne of heaven! And here we may be helped by the wagons which Joseph sent to Jacob.
The wagons declare to Jacob that there is somebody in Egypt who knows him and is thinking of him. The sacramental symbols declare to us that there is somebody in heaven who knows us and is thinking of us.
The wagons were expressly for Jacob. Joseph could not have spoken more distinctly or recognizably to Jacob, if he had spoken to him through the telephone of the twentieth century. The wagons annihilated distance. In them Joseph thought aloud and audibly; and his father heard his thoughts. As he listened to the story of the wagons, his heart said to him, "I am known in Egypt; and there is one exalted mind there who is thinking of me. He individualizes me." Are not these the very thoughts which communicants have as they receive the sacramental elements? "This is my body broken for you." What are these words but a personal address individualizing each disciple upon the part of the Master? Child of God, whoever you are, you are known in heaven, and in the sacrament of the Church. God sends you a personal assurance of your salvation through the cross of Christ.
The wagons declare to Jacob that there is somebody in Egypt who is planning for his comfort and making rich provision for him. The sacramental symbols declare to us that there is somebody in heaven planning for our comfort and making a rich provision for us.
Joseph?s wagons and gifts were earnests of the future, and as such they gave Jacob confidence and satisfaction. The wagons were prophecies and promises. Because of them Jacob knew that Goshen, the choice valley of Egypt, was sure. Is not the Lord?s Supper an earnest to us? Is it not the Master saying "Blessed are they who are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb?" It is a foretaste of the fellowship of heaven. Men and women of God, overlook not the provision which God has made for His own. He has wagons for every spiritual Jacob. No Jacob need go foot-sore and weary through life. Every Jacob who walks and plods does so because he persistently refuses to ride. The wagons of God are running along every highway over which God calls us to travel. They are the golden-wheeled chariots of the promises; and they run hither and thither all through human life. Does God call you to run along the pathway of orphanage?. There is a golden-wheeled chariot running that way: "I will be a father to the fatherless." Does God call you to run along the way of widowhood? There is a golden-wheeled chariot running that way: 'I will be the husband of the widow.' Does God call you to travel the via dolorosa? There is a golden-wheeled chariot running that way: 'I will be with thee in six troubles, and in seven troubles I will deliver thee.'
The wagons declare to Jacob that there is somebody in Egypt who loves him and can not be satisfied without his presence. The sacramental symbols declare to us there is somebody in heaven who loves us, and who can not be satisfied without our presence.
Joseph lived in the palace, and had the run of the kingdom; but there was a place in his life which his father only could fill, and that is why he sent the wagons. What do the sacramental symbols tell us but this: Though heaven be full of glories, it will never satisfy God if His people be absent. It is a great thought, and it is full of comfort, viz., heaven will not be perfect to God until every wagon is in, and every saved soul has been brought home.
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