Hymnus Deo

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wisdom from Thomas Brooks

Two by the Puritan Thomas Brooks, from his work Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices:

Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditation upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee's touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian. (pg. 21-22)

It was a sweet saying of Jerome, 'Let a man grieve for his sin, and then joy for his grief.' That sorrow for sin that keeps the soul from looking towards the mercy-seat, and that keep Christ and the soul asunder, or that shall render the soul unfit for the communion of saints, is a sinful sorrow. (pgs. 25-26)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

J. I. Packer on the Puritans and Sanctification

Here's a great little video at Desiring God with J. I. Packer discussing the benefit of studying the Puritans, particularly their writings on sanctification. Dr. Packer's work, and his pointing back to the teaching of the Puritans, was especially beneficial in directing me away from myself and toward the work of Christ for not only my sanctification, but also my justification, thereby freeing me from much confusion and guilt placed in me by my Fundamentalist upbringing. If only Evangelicals were to spend time reading the Puritans, rather than wasting their time with every new, hip book to come off the presses. If this were to happen more, I am convinced that the godliness of the church in America would vastly improve. Not a reality today, but a matter for prayer, no doubt.

Friday, July 13, 2012

There's No Such Thing As "Non-Denominationalism"

A Facebook comment, that I thought summed up the issue nicely:

In reality, every little church that isn't part of a larger group is still a "denomination" of the larger church. And when they don't join with other churches formally, they're still part of the larger church. Plus, when they don't join a larger body, they just remain a denomination unto themselves. This is especially true with the big independent megachurches. You have twenty elders, eight pastors, three services, and a huge staff. You can call yourself "nondenominational", but you really aren't. You just have all your denomination worshiping in the same place every week. And beyond this, while a church may call itself "nondenominational", they'll never be able to disconnect themselves from the larger church tradition. They got their doctrine and practice from somewhere, and they had some sort of influences that led them to become what they are. Of course, most of them are Independent Baptist, though they refuse the title. But when these churches refuse the title, what's actually going on is a failure to engage in honesty in advertising. Rather than being up front in using the name of the church to let people know what doctrine they hold to, they hide it to look like just another generic "church" - though no such animal really exists, unless you are so vacuous in your beliefs that you don't really teach much at all. Why not just be up front in your name, and let people know where you stand? And if you don't teach deep enough doctrine that it merits noting your distinctives by your name, why bother being a church at all? What the heck are you doing each week?

In the School of Mediocrity

One of my most memorable moments growing up in the government indoctrination mills (also known as the public school system) came when I was in the second grade. One weekend at home, while the family was hanging around in the house, my father decided to teach me how to sign my name in cursive. The schools taught cursive in the third grade, but I was eager to learn. One wouldn't have suspected, though, that my father teaching me something would be frowned upon by the schools. Being the show-off that I was, I made the mistake of signing my next test in class in cursive, and when I got it back the next day, I found I had received points off for displaying my new-found talent. I couldn't understand. It wasn't for answering a question wrong. And I thought the schools encouraged learning. My father was furious, and made it known to the teacher at the next PTA meeting. I was too young to understand all of the conversation, but the teacher's response was clear enough to me: "we will teach him cursive when we decide he's ready." Of course, when I would be ready, according to them, would be when everybody else would be ready. Never mind the fact that I had just demonstrated readiness. After that, my father settled down on the issue. I don't know if he accepted the teacher's argument, or simply resigned himself to the fact that it was pointless to fight the system. Knowing him, I suspect the latter.

Only later in life did I come to realize that this is the nature of the Statist/Collectivist mindset, quite common in "progressive" cities like Greensboro. Mediocrity is celebrated, and excellence discouraged. No child - that is, every child - left behind. And this is true, no matter what they tell you to the contrary. You can't have independent thinkers - such people are harder to manipulate and control. And people who excel simply make the others feel bad. Are there well-meaning teachers? Absolutely. But it remains a fact that the purpose of the government school system is to control the masses, for the benefit of those in power. If this weren't the case, then the government would encourage, rather than putting obstacles in the way of, successful private Christian and home schools.

The great irony is to now hear that schools have largely stopped teaching cursive. If a child today were to do as I did, would they penalize the child for excelling? Do they discourage parents from teaching a child too young how to text? I can't help but wonder. Either way, I still know my father was in the right. And his moment of frustration continues to serve for me as an example of how to view those who would use the State to violate freedom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Worship and Generational Segregation

This is a great article on keeping children in the worship service with the adults. Here's the thing: don't adult minds wander during a sermon anyway? Do people pay perfect attention to the words of the songs as the sing them? Do they think carefully through every word of each prayer that's prayed? In each case, no. The idea that removing children will remove distraction is a myth. There will always be distractions, even from within the worshipper's own head.

One other thing that the article doesn't mention that would benefit children in worship is an ordered liturgy. It's something that most kids can participate in, or at least follow as they are learning it. And while most people think small children aren't learning anything in worship, I would greatly disagree. They are learning there, just as they are learning everywhere they are - through sight and sound and smell, even though they may not comprehend the words being said.

People will say, "you aren't a parent. You don't understand." I know that. But single people are distracted by children as well. And I say keep them in the worship service.