Hymnus Deo

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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Monday, February 28, 2011

Both Hodge and Podge

So while I haven't been blogging regularly, I do spend a fair bit of time on Facebook, where I make my own attempts at wit and wisdom rather frequently. Since I haven't found the space to do any serious writing recently, I thought I would post what Facebook comments I thought were worth repeating here. They're largely in reverse chronological order, going backwards to sometime last Spring. As the reader will see, there's no rhyme or reason to them otherwise. Hopefully they will prove interesting to others, and not merely an exercise of narcissism on my part.

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The recent rise of the local 24 hour news channel is an interesting phenomenon. It tells me that in spite of all the ideas of a global culture that are promoted, people have a inescapable longing for local culture. A person can't be more than one place at a time, and the longing for a place called "home" is natural and normal, even for those who try to live their lives hopping from place to place across the globe.

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Genesis 9:18-27 parallels Gen.3. In both, the partaking of fruit results in nakedness, or the realization of nakedness, which is subsequently covered. The result is the proclamation of curses upon the descendents of the parties involved, though in the case of Noah, righteous men are found, to whom are proclaimed blessings. Noah acts in imitation of God in proclaiming blessings and curses. Noah's sons act righteously in imitation of him (Gen. 6:9) just as he acts in imitation of God. When taking Gen. 6-9 as a whole, as over against Gen. 1-3, one sees that the flood and the covenant with Noah are a re-creation, a redoing (of sorts) of the original creation - a New Creation. Peter shows this to be linked to the death and resurrection of Christ, therefore also to our death and resurrection, that is, our salvation, including our baptism (1 Peter 3:18-22).

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Cross references for Hebrews 1:10-12, which quotes Ps. 102:25-27, points out the parallel with Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same...". The Book of Hebrews is bracketed on either end by the proclamation of the eternality of the Second Person of the Trinity, only He is transformed by the end of the book, having been incarnated in the hypostatic union, eternally now both God and man. Heb. 1:1-4 summarizes the Book of Hebrews, and therefore the work of Christ.

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Jesus has been the head of the Church since its founding. He then appointed the apostles, who appointed other Church leaders. The fact, therefore, is that the true Church has always been an organized body with a structured leadership, not just an invisible entity with no governing body.

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The Christian life is one of ongoing repentance. We recognize our sins, confess, and repent. This is the reality of sanctification in our lives. Where there is no ongoing repentance, there is no sanctification, which means there is no justification. And if there is no justification, the person was never born again to begin with.

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Dispelling myths: It's perfectly possible to be an Evangelical, Bible-believing Christian and not believe in a Pre-trib rapture. The notion of a Pre-trib rapture didn't appear until the early 19th century, and it has nothing to do with the Gospel.

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1 Cor. 15:23-24: There is no break in time between Christ's Second Advent/the resurrection of the dead, and the end of all things when Christ's earthly reign ends. This means that the end of the Millennium coincides with the end of the current age, and there is no Millennium yet to begin after Christ's return.

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Romans 6: If you think the Gospel means you can now live however you want, you've misunderstood the Gospel. If you live the same way you've always lived, you don't have resurrection life, but are still dead in sin. And if you are still a slave to sin, you were never enslaved to Christ to begin with.

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Psalm 39: Your time in this life is short, and therefore so is your opportunity to speak for the glory of the Lord and for the good of his people while in this life. Reflect on life's brevity, and don't waste it with silence.

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If children were included among God's people in the Old Covenant, and they are now excluded in the New Covenant, how can the New Covenant be a better covenant (Hebrews 8:6)?

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A person is saved, neither by going forward during an altar call, nor by praying the "sinner's prayer", but by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. Those who are truly saved will persevere in faith to the end, and that means a pursuit of holiness and spiritual growth are inevitable. There is such a thing as false conversions.

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The sudden interest in the latest cause celebre, opposition to bullying, is a good thing, though a few decades too late. A big problem remains, though, in that the relativists running the schools have no moral basis on which to oppose bullying. On Darwin's thesis, which still reigns in the government schools, bullying is just survival of the fittest.

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Nondenominational churches are just denominations in denial. When you have declared denominations, at least it's clear what your church believes. In nondenominationalism, one is left with a large amount of confusion and guesswork. Perhaps this is why people are so quick to latch on to heretical dogmatism from New Age gurus and televangelists.

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Adventures in language: the English word "scholar" is derived from the Greek word "schole", which means "leisure".

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Any doctrine not worth defending isn't worth believing.

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Pop/rock music is designed to enslave the listener to the temporal. What's new is what's best. Radio stations play the same songs over and over again, causing the listener, who at first is interested in the new song, to grow sick and ready for the next new thing. The songs are short and catchy, and require little thought or depth of engagement. This is a radical contrast with the worldview of Scripture, which instructs us to seek wisdom, to love God with all our minds, to honor the past, and to think in terms of a thousand generations.

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"You live in a world in which a spontaneous worship service has to prove nothing...and in which a formal worship service has to prove that it isn't dead...I would suggest that is an unbiblical state of affairs." - Douglas Wilson. Putting on a show or stirring up emotions aren't necessarily signs of spiritual vitality. It's perfectly possible that groups of people in such settings are dead as a three day old corpse.

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Wandering around Barnes & Noble this evening, I was surprised to find they have a section of books entitled "Teen Paranormal Romance". It was a sheer accident that I ran across it, though. I was looking for the "English Gardening How-To Books Written by Guys with the Middle Name 'Jed'" section. I never found it.

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Parents: do you want your children to remain faithful to God, and to be sustained through the difficult times of life when they get older? Then teach them theologically-rich songs when they are young. It is those songs that God will use to communicate His word to them when they need it most throughout their lives.

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The influence of pop culture: growing up in Fundamentalism, I didn't hear the word "holy" used as an adjective very often (such as "Holy Scripture", "Holy Trinity", "Holy Christian Church", etc.). Consequently, when I hear those phrases now, I always am tempted to follow them with the word "Batman".

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Watching "Chariots of Fire" for the first time in a long time. Interesting to see Eric Liddell pushed to run on the Sabbath in the name of love of his country, taking precedent over his love of God. He made the right choice. Which leaves a question - are you an American first, or a Christian first? Earthly nations come and go, but the Kingdom of Christ abides forever.

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In all my years of working with elderly folks, probably the most repeated statement I've heard from them is "I'm old, so I can say anything I want." But that isn't the way of Scripture. Grey hair should be a sign of mature wisdom and godliness, not foolishness, selfishness, or a loose tongue.

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A man goes to see his doctor and the doctor tells him he's going to die if he doesn't change his lifestyle. "Doc, don't tell me I have to give up wine, women, and song," the man says. "I'm not," says the doctor. "You can sing all you want."

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"Now listen, brothers and sisters. Now listen. Now listen." But I was listening, Charles Stanley...

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Today is the anniversary of the first sustained flight by a manned aircraft, performed by brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, N. C., in 1903. The flight almost never took place, however, as Orville refused to either pass through the body scanner or to let Wilbur pat him down before boarding the plane.

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When I've spoken to defenders of Contemporary worship music and raised the complaint of copyrighted worship music, the response I've usually received has been that copyrighting protects the songwriter from someone abusing his song. And yet someone can take an old hymn, tack on three or four new lines, and make a bundle of money through CCLI, as if it were a new song. "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)". Who's going to protect the old hymns? Does a songwriter cease to matter once he's dead?

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Good theology is like a cathedral. We all enjoy its beauty, but few of us really understand the time and effort it took in building it.

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I've gotten to the point that I don't want to read any contemporary Evangelical literature, just because I'm sick of seeing the word "broken" - which I'm pretty sure, according to its current usage, doesn't really have a definition.

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It is often assumed that in order to have a genuine Christian society everyone in that society must be converted. But that isn't the case. When the Church is believing and behaving as it should, it becomes the leader in the society it's in, by virtue of the positive effects of God's Law. And then even the unregenerate begin to act like Christians, because of the fear of man and the weight of tradition.

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I consider it one of the supreme ironies in life that those who talk the most usually have the least interesting things to say.

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Jim Caviezel is my co-pilot.

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You know, if I found myself in a desert on a horse with no name, I think one of the ways I might entertain myself would be coming up with a name for that horse.

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Classic metal group Black Sabbath has announced they are planning a reunion in the near future. Commenting recently on the upcoming tour, lead singer Ozzy Osbourne said, "uhwa bluba puh buba fuba duh, uh pwa tuh fuh puhduh uhh."

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In the news: Prince William proposes to long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton - British citizens rejoice to have something to live for again

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Difficulties in life are inevitable, and are God's means of saving His people, of shaping them into what they are to be. The choice is whether one will try in vain to avoid the trouble, or accept it with gratitude as a gift from God, and allow Him to show how to rightly deal with it.

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Harry Potter. By the time these kids graduate from Hogwarts, they'll be able to draw Social Security.

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When I worked for a counseling ministry a number of years ago, a counselee I worked with ran across 2 Samuel 1:26, where David said that his love for Jonathan was greater than that of women, and the fellow mentioned the passage to me. He couldn't get past the idea that Jonathan and David must have been gay, and no amount of my trying to explain the passage in light of male friendship got through to him. He was just another victim of our society's sinful perversity. An over-sexualized society, and especially the prevalence of homosexuality in our society, destroys male friendships.

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Notice: This evening's Procrastinators Anonymous meeting has been postponed until Monday evening.

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In a day in which selfishness and self-righteousness are often confused with love and justice, much clarity could be found simply through repeated watchings of Tombstone.

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It is interesting that the two sacraments Christ gave His Church to celebrate are symbolic of death - Baptism, of burial, and the Lord's Supper, of flesh and blood given over to crucifixion.

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Fairy tales are a display of beauty, goodness, and truth, and set before us those things that, though we see them now only in glimpses, we will see fully one day in the resurrection of the dead and the eternal kingdom.

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Nine out of ten people agree that the tenth guy will always disagree with them, because he's just difficult like that.

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If Train A is heading west from Raleigh at 55 miles per hour, and Train B is heading east from Greensboro at 50 miles per hour, what flavor of ice cream is the eight year old boy in the third car back on Train A eating?

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There are three social strata of adults in American society - "Jeopardy", "Wheel of Fortune", and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader".

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Ah, teas. Just like skin color, black tea isn't black, white tea isn't white, and green tea isn't green. This was pointed out to me by a green friend of mine.

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The word "priest" is actually a Latinized, and then Anglicized, form of the Greek word "presbyteros", which is typically translated today as "elder".

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I have a feeling that future generations, looking back on our culture, will think the "f-bomb" was a real bomb.

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I've been doing a fair bit of thinking on the theology of the cross vs. the theology of glory, as per Luther, born out of study of Rev. 4 & 5. And watching the Beatification of Cardinal Newman on EWTN. As I watch, I am struck by the bittersweet nature of the traditional liturgy of the Church, though laden in beauty, and how it contrasts with the theology of glory as found in the contemporary church.

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I'm atching Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I haven't seen in a long time. What a great movie. It just struck me that there is a common theme throughout the Indiana Jones series - there is such a thing as knowledge forbidden to man, certain things that God has made off limits to us. True "success" in God's world only comes through acknowledging and honoring mystery. This can seem ironic in a movie series about finding out ancient secrets, and yet rightly understood, it is essential to finding all truth. Unless one understands one's limitations - both inherent and given by authority - one cannot become greater than he is.

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Christian cliche #3245: "Jesus Christ - 'H' isn't His middle initial." For some people, I know this is a sincere attempt to address blasphemy. But it's about as effective as the Southern Baptist Convention's boycott of Disney a few years back. Cliches like this trivialize Jesus' name, reducing it to a hollow slogan, and they merely give pagans more occasion to mock and blaspheme.

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I noticed that a local church was holding a ADHD support group, and I'm trying to imagine how that would work out. If nobody has the attention span to listen to you as you complain about your problem, and they're interrupting you the whole time, wouldn't that sort of work counter to the purpose of a support group?

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Christian cliche #3246: "God couldn't be everywhere at the same time - that's why He made grandmothers." Saw this one on a throw pillow in a neighbor's house a couple of years ago. A good example of how sentimentalism is a fertile seedbed for heresy. As a guest in their house, I didn't feel that pointing out the heresy was the most appropriate thing to do.

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Books of the Bible that we would not immediately think of as directly connected, other than the fact that they are God's Word, are often more related to each other than we might realize. The Book of Proverbs, for instance, features the contrast between the Adulterous Woman and Lady Wisdom. Likewise, the Book of Revelation contrasts two women, the Harlot Babylon and the Bride of Christ, the Church. Adultery and harlotry are regular Biblical images for idolatry. To live unwisely is to worship false gods. In contrast, to be part of Christ's Church is to live wisely and purely. All sin is idolatry, but to worship the true God and to be united to Him is to live in accordance with His Law.

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It is often regarded as impolite to discuss religion and politics in social settings. The funny thing is that Jesus went around discussing both, and he did so in social settings, where everyone could hear Him, and could be offended.

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How the word "religion" can to be regarded as a bad thing, or at least redefined such that it came to be regarded as a bad thing, is a bit baffling. But the idea that a religion is a scheme of self-salvation, or man's attempt to get to God by his own doings, and therefore contrary to Christianity, is false. Christianity is a religion, the only true religion, and is about one's relationship with God.

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Tradition is not only inevitable, but is also necessary and good. The question is whether or not your tradition is shaped by a Biblical worldview, and whether or not you're willing to let it go when it becomes an idol.

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Everybody knows generalizations are bad.

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Christian cliche #3247: "You'll never find the perfect church." Absolutely true. But I think people have the right to expect a church that doesn't use that as an excuse for not doing what it should.

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Dispensationalism's self-fulfilled prophecy:

1.) Declare that the world is getting worse
2.) Sit back and do nothing to prevent the world from getting worse
3.) Watch as the world gets worse
4.) Point out that the world - at least within ten miles of your house - is getting worse, just like you said

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The loss of modesty has broader effects than we might initially think. The attack on modesty is in effect an attack on mystery, and therefore an attempt at supplanting God. And one outworking in our society is that we find it hard to believe that there may actually be some things that are none of our business. This is especially manifest in the celebrity gossip subculture. Holiness honors the hiddenness of God, even as it exists in His image, which is man. This is simply another example of loving the Lord your God and loving your neighbor as yourself.

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Contrary to the commonly held view today, not all sins are equal in terms of their wickedness, and some sins are actually worse than others. If that weren't the case, then there wouldn't have been varying degrees of punishment in the Mosaic Law. When Jesus said, "He who hates his brother has already committed murder in his heart," he wasn't saying that murder is equal to hate, but rather that sin is more than action, it is also attitude, from which sin acts arise.

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It was no mere coincidence that a crown of thorns was placed upon Christ's brow in his suffering. God told Adam that due to his sin, man would tend the ground by the sweat of his brow, and that the earth would brings forth thorns. Christ took Adam's curse, the curse of the ground, upon himself. Man is from the dirt, and the redemption of the earth is inseparable from the redemption of man.

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In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan the prophet comes to Jerusalem to confront King David with his sin by means of a parable. In so doing, David pronounces his own judgment upon himself. Likewise, in Matthew 21 Jesus comes to Jerusalem and confronts the chief priests and the Pharisees by means of a parable with their failure to rightly shepherd the people of Israel. Like David, they pronounce their judgment upon themselves.

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Dante's "Inferno" - was it the fourth or the fifth ring of Hell that contained telemarketers and time share salesmen?

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Genesis 2:18-25: It is interesting that God brought the animals to Adam to name them (in connection with the creation of and naming of Eve), but we find no specific statement of God directing Adam to name other parts of the creation, such as the plants. This is not to say it isn't proper to "name" plants. And yet we see from this that not all living things are equal. In other words, tree hugging isn't allowed.

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New Student Orientation: the term "orient" derives from medieval church architecture, and is to point the direction of the eastern wall in a church, where the altar is, and where Christ was believed to reside in the Sacrament. True education can only come in conjunction with a proper looking toward Christ.

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Do the earthly promises of the fifth commandment still apply in the New Covenant? Scripture seems very clearly to say so: "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit......" (1 Peter 3:8 and following for the context). This life is short, and man is but a vapor in it. And yet we are called to love life, even in its fallen state, and not just the lives of others, but our own life as well. This is a reality that transcends the unique characters of the Old and New Covenants.

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True spirituality: Just use the word "broken" alot. "Struggle", "feeble", "real", and "heart" are good ones too. And talk about falling down on your knees. The key is to make sure everyone knows you're being self-deprecating. Hey, what's that in my navel?

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One of the glories of the Westminster Divines and the catechism questions they composed is that they understood that the commandments had a broader application than what is explicitly stated in the commandment. This comes out clearly in the fifth commandment (WSC 64). The command to honor father and mother has at its heart the issue of obedience to God-ordained authority, and therefore has application in areas beyond the parent-child relationship.

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If the eternal God, He who never slumbers nor sleeps, who never grows tired such that He needs to rest, still rested on the seventh day, is it not appropriate that we, subject to the weakness of flesh and the effects of the fall, by walking after His example, should also rest on the seventh day?

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On Matthew 7:1-5: I always find it funny that those who are quick to quote verse one couldn't tell you what the other four verses say. In fact, I find such people not only ignore the fact that Jesus is passing judgment in this statement, but He does so in ...all that he says elsewhere, as do the prophets and apostles throughout Scripture, by the sanction of God. So this passage obviously doesn't mean what some people want to make it mean. In addition, those who say "judge not" usually manage to do so simply when you say something they don't like, mostly on an issue about which they are thinking more like the ungodly culture around them rather than in accordance with what Scripture says about the matter. And all of this, summed up in the fact that those who tell someone "judge not" are themselves judging, and proving themselves hypocrites. Judgment is inevitable; what God calls us to do is to make a righteous judgment.

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In His prophecy spoken through Jeremiah, God said that He had given the "beasts of the field" to serve King Nebuchanezzar (Jer. 27:6). This is obviously reminiscent of and a continuation of Adam's reign (Gen. 1). But it was the very "beasts of the field" that Nebuchadnezzar was driven out among when God judged him (Daniel 4:32). He lost his rule over them and became like them. Note also that Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his palace when his vanity overtook him (Daniel 4:30), just as David was walking on the roof of his palace when he saw Bathsheba bathing (2 Samuel 11:2). They were both guilty of the... same vanity and pride, that which those who are in positions of power and authority are so prone toward - that of failing to remember that their power and authority are not their own, and that they answer to a greater King.

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Jesus came as the beginning, or the genesis, of a New Creation. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the deep in the conception of the Old Creation (Genesis 1:2), so the Spirit overshadowed Mary in the conception of the New Creation (Luke 1:35). And so anyone now who is united to Christ is himself a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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Blended worship is like being a little bit pregnant.

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Mark 1:40-45. The significance of Jesus touching the leper as he healed him is easily overlooked. But the point is that in healing him by touching him, Jesus took the man's uncleanness upon himself, becoming unclean in the man's place. This is why Mark adds that Jesus was then forced to walk in desolate places (Mark 1:45, Leviticus 13:46). To be unclean is to be shut out from the Temple, thus from God, as well.

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It would be nice if the minsters of the church were to return to wearing distinctive clothes that symbolized their office, especially in worship. Everything we do, including how we dress, is a symbol, and communicates something about ourselves and how we view God and the world around us. In a unique way, how our ministers dress, especially when they are functioning in their office, points to the God they serve. This is true of all God's people, but particularly for minsters, as their vocation is uniquely to the full-time ministry.

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There is no Christian who has "no creed but Christ". It's just that some write it down on paper, while others merely hold it in their heads.

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"My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers: There was a time in my early twenties when I practically lived on every word in this book. I read it over and over again, and tried desperately to live out what it taught. I have since come to the conclusion that this book was one of the biggest sources of spiritual distress in my life. Chambers' focus in the book is on the surrend...er of all of one's life to God, as if that were possible in this life. Those who are serious about God will confess all of their sins and surrender fully to God, Chambers says. This is the Carnal Christian - Spiritual Christian doctrine, and it is a false doctrine that has probably done more damage in the church than we will ever know. There is only one kind of Christian - justified in Christ and striving toward holiness, but constantly faced with his failures as a Christian. He rests in the grace of God, knowing that forgiveness is his, in spite of the fact that he could never remember all his sins to confess them. Lutheran pastor Rod Rosenbladt once said that Oswald Chambers should have stuck with painting rather than becoming a pastor. That might be calling it a little harsh, but if this book is any example of Chambers' teaching, Rosenbladt's statement isn't far from the truth.

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When couples who appeared in eHarmony commercials go through a rough spot in their marriages, do they think to themselves, "we can't get divorced. We laughed together in slow-motion on an eHarmony commercial"?

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So if the race for the office of governor is called a gubernatorial race, is the winner the biggest guber?

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It is true that being in a church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than being in a garage makes you a car. Still, there are certain places where one expects to find cars, and the ninth hole on a sunny Sunday morning isn't one of them.

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I'm regularly struck by the fact that Evangelicals tend to be obsessed with images, sometimes using them as a substitute for the Word. And yet the images they use are from pop culture, rather than folk or high art. What a shame. If you're going to do art, at least do it right.

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I'm regularly intrigued at the things we have children participate in, that have nothing to do with preparing them for adulthood. This year, rather than sending your child to summer camp, why not stick him in a cubicle for a week?

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Dr. Jeremiah: the text says that the mark of the beast is "on" the hand or the forehead, not "in". Computer chips don't qualify.

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This morning on David Jeremiah's radio show he noted the similarities between Adam and Eve, and Job and his wife. Just as Satan used Eve to get at Adam, so Satan used Job's wife to get at Job. I had never made the connection before. Even a Dispensationalist finds some typology every once in a while, I guess.

Friday, February 25, 2011

So...

...I've reverted back to the old template for now. I hope to make more changes in the future. The circumstances of life have prevented me from doing much blogging as of late, let alone any site alterations. Hopefully that will change soon. In the meantime, thanks for visiting.