Saturday, December 01, 2012


Comic Art


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Friday, November 30, 2012



Jon Acuff finally writes something that is not just silly:
The truth is, that’s what’s so frustrating to me about God. I want him to give me a to-do list. I want him to give me some action items, and he keeps refusing.

I say to him, “Give me a solution.” He says “I gave you a savior.”

I say, “Give me something that will fix me forever.” He says, “Walk with me today.”

I say, “I want a present from you that will change me.” He says, “I want you in my presence.”

I want a quick fix. I want actions. I want progress I can control and monitor. And instead, in the face of all of that, God offers me something incredibly simple.


Why? Because that is the only thing that will lead to renewal in my heart. All the plans I craft will eventually crumble. All the good intentions I might have will fall apart. All my willpower and discipline will abandon me in my greatest time of need. But one thing remains steadfast: My relationship with God.

It’s messy. It’s slower than I want. It’s not always the shape I’d like it to be because, though I know what I want, God is the only one who really knows what I need.
But the truth is, if I want my heart renewed, if I want my soul sanctified, if I want to be the new man God’s always known I could be, I have to trust in the relationship. I have to return to the relationship. I have to give all to the relationship.

Biggest problem is that we tend to turn that into a to-do list too. Are my devotionals long enough? What book of scripture do I read today? I've done 12 hours of church service this week....

That's not what God wants from us either - He wants us.

Now here is the hard part. You cannot keep up facades in a committed relationship. If you have ever been married, you know this. You cannot hide from God. He is going to make you look at those places in yourself that you do not want to look. He'll love you while you do, but you are going to have to look.

It's very, very scary stuff.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, November 29, 2012


Deep and Abiding

David Mathis @ DG:

First, seek to make your seminary studies devotional. Pray for God’s help before class and during, before studying and during
, before writing a paper, or taking a test, and during. Continually consecrate your studies to Jesus, and ask him to freshly meet you in it, keep your spiritual blood flowing, and keep you soft to his grace.


And keep in mind that having a daily “quiet time” or “devotions,” without communing with Jesus, won’t keep your soul alive. Mere reading and studying won’t do it. By itself, new information about God—glorious as it is—won’t keep our hearts soft and our souls breathing. We need the person of Jesus himself whom we find in and through the Scriptures. Our souls long for a living connection with the living God-man. We were made for this.

We can never afford to settle for anything less than the words of the Bible, but extreme as it may seem, our souls need more than words, more than facts, more than studies and new head knowledge. We need the Word himself. Our souls need Jesus to survive. And for now, the devotional imbibing of the Scriptures is an essential place to find him.

Being a Christian is a many faceted thing. It is not a matter of mastering scripture, or even prayer for that matter. It is not a "lifestyle." It is not a case of identifying with a particular group. It is not confessing a specific creed. It is not a result of a specific ecstatic experience. All of these things happen to Christians, but none of them are what defines a Christian.

So what does define a Christian? I have known a lot of people that "majored" in one of those things. It seems like the answer to my question would be in what they all held in common.

I am left with two things that define someone as a Christian - confession and fruit.

Confession - I do not mean a creedal confession, I mean a "I'm a sinner and usually wrong" confession. This means that people that claim to have an exclusive path to Christian maturity can typically be eliminated. If Christ has truly taken a hold of your life, one will come to understand how little they know, not how much.

Fruit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we are Christ's He marks us. These things just listed serve as His "brand." Of course, being sinners, we will not be all that good at them, but they will peek out of us in some way that does not seem "normal."
I grow weary of people that tell me they know the way, when the only way they know is the way that maximizes their reward.

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Illuminated Advent

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Dave Strunk writes about the selection of Al MOhler to defend "confessional Evangelicalism" and points out that Mohler may not be the right guy for the job:
In essence, Mohler's defense of confessional evangelicalism is indistinct from a more generic yet still orthodox version of evangelicalism. Mohler does an excellent job, as always, of defending evangelicalism against its foes on the left and right. What Mohler fails to do, though, is to offer a compelling apologia for the benefits found in confessional evangelicalism.
After lengthy discussion, Strunk then concludes:
So who might have been better qualified to reach back a little further and offer the appropriate defense of confessional evangelicalism? Consider Michael Horton or Timothy Keller. These are just two of the well-known figures who would have been more natural fits to defend confessional evangelicalism than Mohler. Even so, it's not my particular brand of confessional evangelicalism that makes someone a confessional evangelical. I share the same evangelical heritage and convictions that characterized 20th-century evangelicals such as Carl Henry and John Stott and Billy Graham. Indeed, I share the evangelical convictions that inspired George Whitefield and John Wesley.
It's just that I go back even further than that—to the Reformation and, further still, to the creeds from the Patristic era. In other words, confessional evangelicals seek a little more continuity with the past than what a generic evangelical might.

In the final chapter of "The Rise of Evangelicalism," Mark Noll, having recounted the history of the First Great Awakening and its major figures, notes how evangelicalism has never flourished as an intellectual movement. Noll says that one of the major reasons for this has been evangelical insistence on innovation, and a shedding of church tradition and ecclesiology. Intellectualism comes from the past, Noll asserts. But since one of the marks of evangelicalism has been personal conversion and the new birth, evangelicals will attempt all manner of things to reach the lost. The ironic byproduct of a preoccupation with the perils of the present, though, has been a detachment of the things of the past. Discontinuity with the past seems to be traceable to the evangelical origins of the First Great Awakening.

What confessional evangelicals seek, then, is a mix of evangelical core doctrines rooted a little further in the past. As evangelicals, we share a fixed center on the person and Gospel of Jesus Christ. We agree with all those forebears who made the main things the main things. The simple reality is that we also want to recover some of the things that early evangelicals discarded. Because much of that past is still important too.

Strunk is kind here in his consideration of all points of view. He is able to do so but framing his discussion in chronology and not in better or best. I understand why he does so, but I think it is problematic.

The question that faces a Christian is not "What is Christianity today?" rather it is "What is Christianity?" History must of necessity have a great deal to say about that. By definition God is immortal and He is good. If He is good, then I can find no compelling reason to think that He would ever change. If God, does not change, then there is no reason to discard what has been said and written about Him in the past. We may build upon it as new tools give us more means of discovery, but discard, never.

In the world of physics, we still tell Newtonian mechanics despite the fact that it has been supplanted theoretically by quantum mechanics. The reason is quite simple. For the majority of real problems one encounters on a daily basis, Newtonian mechanics work better and easier than quantum mechanics does. When it comes to matters of God, the same can be said. We may have new theories and thoughts, but practically speaking, what worked then works now. Chronology is not the issue.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012



Ron Edmunson:
Worry is like a plague of our body. It attacks our mind, then our heart, and over time, it can consume our overall health. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.”
There is not a person my age that will not tell you they are astonished that we made it to this age - after all we rode bikes without helmets or knee pads. And yet, it was my generation that put their kids in helmets and knee pads when they got on their bikes! What's up with that?

It's simple, we worry. And it seems the more we have, the more we worry. My father grew up concerned about whether he would have any dinner that night. I grew up worried about WHAT was for dinner that night. In other words, I did not really have to sweat it, and yet, I worried.

It's easy to say that worry is a lack of faith, it is, but that's the easy one. I think given the escalating scale of worry we see in the world, it is more - it is an act of covetousness. We have so much and we hold it so dear that we assign it far more worth than it actually contains, and then we worry about it.

Then there is the fact that worry is a sign of sloth. Our lives are so easy compared to even my father's generation. And what do we do with all that leisure? We worry.

OK, so I have pointed out that worry is symptomatic of at least two of the seven deadlies - and I could keep going. What is my point? Simply, worry is far moe than an obsessive concern - it is sinful. Maybe if we thought about it that way, we would be less prone to it.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 26, 2012


Faith Is not Voodoo

Gene Fant:
I couldn’t help but think about that incident this week as I read two bits of news. First, in the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on California’s Proposition 8, the majority opinion ruled that the initiative failed the “rational basis standard,” meaning it was based on irrational thought, rooted, apparently, in religious irrationality in particular. Second, in a transcript of an exchange at Vanderbilt, the chief academic officer of the institution scolded students who wished to allow their religious faith to influence their decision-making:
Now let me give you another example, and this would affect all of you. I’m Catholic. What if my faith beliefs guided all of the decisions I make from day to day?[At this point, the crowd applauds the idea that people should live according to their faith.] No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! [Disagreement from crowd.] Well, I know you do, but I’m telling you that as a Catholic I am very comfortable using my best judgment as a person to make decisions. As a Catholic, if I held that life begins at conception, I’d have a very big problem with our hospital. Right? Would I not? . . . I would, but I don’t. . . . We don’t want to have personal religious views intrude on good decisionmaking on this campus. They can guide your personal conduct, but I’m not going to let my faith life intrude. We don’t want to have personal religious views intrude on good decision-making on this campus. They can guide your personal conduct, but I’m not going to let my faith life intrude.
The spirit of those views toward faith is the same spirit of my classmate, that faith and rationality are mutually exclusive terms. The gravity of the articulations of the view, however, is stunningly different. A classmate may look askance at me, but a federal appellate panel and an institution’s senior officer for intellectual pursuits have real teeth that can gobble up the rights of persons of faith (and not just Christians, I might add; such animus crosses all lines of belief). For those of us who are devotees of both history and literature, we recognize, with a shudder, this line of thinking starts with the ad hominem retort, “Oh yeah? Well, you’re crazy!” and ends by populating gulags (mental illness being a primary grounds for imprisonment by dictators) with candidates for sanity retraining (i.e., one’s conformity with the dictator’s views). Persons of faith know that the only path to true reason is that of faith, for the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and without that canon standard, we are left to our own devices to account for right and wrong. In the end, we choose whatever matches our covert desires to become tyrannical mini-gods. Without the external standard of revealed faith and knowledge, we are left to create yardsticks that are based on the various lengths of our own individual feet and such a lack of objective measurements leads to a world that is filled with chaotic and conflicting architecture.
Where did we go so wrong that people would come to view us as TOTALLY irrational? I would argue that the root of the problem lies in the fact that we treat our faith as if it is there to serve us. It's one of the qualifications we need to fit into a certain place. Or, we think is is part of the path to prosperity. Or, we think we need it to bring up our kids right. Or, we thin we'll feel good about ourselves becasue Jesus loves us. Those are the same reasons other people pursue other things - nothing in this approach to Christianity sets it or us apart from the rest of the world. The only thing we take seriously in this approach to our faith is ourselves. What if we actually took our faith more seriously than ourselves?

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