Moving Day

January 2, 2008 by

It’s been a good few months here at After Darkness Light blog. And the good days roll on, just not here. I hope you’ll bookmark our new blog at After the Handbasket. The world has gone to the bad place in a you-know-what, but we’re asking, with defiant and hopeful faith in the Living God, “What comes after the handbasket?”

Al and I have teamed up with our good friend Rob Hadding in a funky new blog fusion, where we will post on all things theological, cultural, political, personal, and epidemiological. OK, I doubt we’ll post on anything to do with epidemiology, but the other stuff is true.

Tell your friends and come on over to the new place.

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God Hater

January 1, 2008 by

It seems that some of the folks at Hot Air took umbrage with my use of the term God Hater in the Hukster post.  They even put the quote on their headlines page. 

The question they raise is this:  Can an atheist, who does not believe in God at all, be considered a ‘God Hater.’  I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ and while I understand the confusion, my definition in this spiritual matter must come from the Bible.  Philosophy may be the queen of all the sciences, but she still has a Lord.

If you have another God besides the Triune God of the Bible then God describes you as a God hater.

Ex 20:3-6

3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Jesus said that there are two classes of people, those who are His and those who are “of the world.”  This is the great antitheses of the bible.  Jesus said this about those who are not His (atheists would be in the group, no?):

John 15:18,19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  

Then in verses 23- of John 15 the Lord said, 

 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.  24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.  25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ 

Now, the atheist believes himself safe from judgement in all this, both from man and God, after all if they believe God does not exist how that that God hold him/her accountable.  But, let me just say that God knows their heart and He also knows that they are without excuse.

Rom 1:18-19

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Let me urge my atheist readers (are there any?) to repent of their sin and believe on Jesus Christ.  He is the way the truth and the life.  No one comes unto the Father but by him.

al sends

Chesterton at His Quotable Best

January 1, 2008 by

The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.

G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

Chesterton at His Quirkiest Best

January 1, 2008 by

It is a thousand to one that the reader is looking at something that he has never seen: that is, never realised.  He could not write an essay on such a post or wall:  he does not know what the post or wall mean. He could not even write the synopsis of an essay; as “The Bed-Post; Its Significance–Security Essential to Idea of Sleep–Night Felt as Infinite–Need of Monumental Architecture,” and so on.  He could not sketch in outline his theoretic attitude towards window-blinds, even in the form of a summary. “The Window-Blind–Its Analogy to the Curtain and Veil–Is Modesty Natural?–Worship of and Avoidance of the Sun, etc., etc.”  None of us think enough of these things on which the eye rests.  But don’t let us let the eye rest. Why should the eye be so lazy?  Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see startling facts that run across the landscape as plain as a painted fence.  Let us be ocular athletes.

G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

The Huckster…

January 1, 2008 by

… Why The “Real Christian” Running For President Makes Me Nervous.

Huckster

  • huckster:  One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product. (American Heritage Dictionary)
  • More than nervous really.  Nauseous is a better word.  That’s it, I am nauseous and not in a good way.  This is not the upset stomach that comes with endorphins; the ones that would be released into my body at the thought of a Christ follower ascending to the highest office in the US government.  No, this kind of nausea is the kind you get after opening up a bottle of Mellow Yellow on a really hot day, tipping it straight up and closing your eyes, while drinking it half down. Only to open your eyes to see long strands of some bacterial growth hanging from the bottom of the now upturned bottle.  It is that kind of nausea.

    This, from Hot Air, made me want to puke:

    Huckabee nobly cancels attack ad on Romney — then plays it for reporters

    He called a presser to unveil an attack ad on Romney, then decided at the last minute that he’s too Christian a leader to attack another candidate — and then showed the ad to reporters anyway, knowing of course that it’d be the talk of political news coverage tonight and tomorrow.

    This from the New York Times:

    Mr. Huckabee, with his wife standing silently off to the side, said that the “conventional wisdom” was that when you are attacked, you attack back. But, he said, an hour before the press conference, which was scheduled for noon, he just decided not to go that route.

    “It’s not worth it,” he said.

    Polls regularly show that Iowa voters do not reward candidates who go negative, and perhaps Mr. Huckabee saw some of those polls. “The people of Iowa deserve better,” he said.

    Asked if he wasn’t being hypocritical by showing the ad to a roomful of cameras that are likely to record it and show it — for free — around the country, Mr. Huckabee said he was showing it to reporters only because reporters were so cynical that if he didn’t show it, they would not believe that he really had made such an ad.

    Prov 11:9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
    But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

    Read the post, as Hot Air’s resident Atheist, takes The Huckster to task. 

    The thing about hypocrisy is that the God hater spots it with ease, while the hypocrite fails to see the sin.  Why is that?  I think part of the answer lies with our view of biblical reason.  We despise the clear teaching of God for some sort of “heartfelt” experience and as Jeremiah said, “the heart is deceitful above all things  and desperately wicked.”
     

    Happy New Year… I am going to be sick.

    al sends

    Simplicity and Godly Sincerity

    December 31, 2007 by

    The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:12 mentions two traits that I would urge you to consider today as you enter into worship. He wrote, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God.”

    Simplicity and godly sincerity.

    Simplicity doesn’t mean being a simpleton. It has to do with singleness. It’s the difference between 100% cotton and a poly blend. The all-cotton blouse has the trait of simplicity because it is singular in composition. And thus we too are to be not poly blends of many competing loyalties toward many competing lords. We are to be composed of simple love and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to occupy the chief place in our minds and loyalties and affections.

    And then I also exhort you to pursue godly sincerity in your worship today. When you are part of a formal worship liturgy each week, it is easy to fall into repetition with no heart. But godly sincerity is the heart behind the repetition. It is you doing what you do as unto Jesus Christ, in a living and real relationship with Him.

    Finally, I offer you this caveat: Paul knew that these traits of simplicity and sincerity were by grace and not by human devising. They were gifts of the Spirit and not ways to manipulate something out of someone. In the entanglements of our hearts, we have to guard against seeing simplicity and sincerity as things we gin up to get God to accept us.

    Simplicity and godly sincerity are the right environment for worship, but they are gifts of grace. They are not something you put on to get something out of God. You are here today at His bidding, as His new creations, called by His irresistible grace to come and worship Him and receive from Him. You can’t manipulate anything out of Him, and it is the height of fleshly wisdom to try to put on simplicity and sincerity in order to manipulate something out of someone else.

    So I invite you all: come, in singleness and in holy authenticity that seeks Christ alone, come and worship God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Words of the Year

    December 30, 2007 by

    End-of-the-year lists are a staple this time of the year. Top news events from 2007. Celebrity breakups. Poignant sports moments. The year in pictures, ad infinitum. But I found a better list. Dictionary.com features the top words of 2007 here. There is a word or phrase for each month of the year that was prominent or new. I particularly liked the prominence of the word “nappy” in April 2007 . . . like a stroll back to my youth (where I was around people who used the word “nappy” a lot. I do not now nor have I ever had a nappy head.)

    Sacramental Living at Christmastide

    December 28, 2007 by

    This Christmas season has been a time for simple pleasures: quiet conversations over cake with family, a glass of wine, sitting on the front porch watching the children play, getting tape tangled in my fingers as I try to wrap a gift, the smell of evergreen as I walk into the house. It’s made me remember that good living is sacramental living.

    Sacramental living is seeing life as the Sovereign God intends that we see it – with everything (literally everything!) shot through with His goodness and grace. It means that all of creation with its variety and beauty and complexity is a gift of grace to us. And it means that the universe and the earth and its bounty and its creatures, and food and home and sex and labor and domestic joys and struggles and sitting and standing and kneeling in worship – all of it is a signal of the presence of God to us. It is all God’s good created order meant to bless us with life and meant for us to take and transform into life in God. That is sacramental living. It is a basic disposition toward daily life that sees God’s bounty in everything He has made and receives it as a wonderful gift from Him and a signal of His favor and love for us as His redeemed children, His new creation, His new humanity in whom he delights. God made all things good, and He is redeeming all things for our sake. We can live with the joy of knowing this is true.

    Modernism and postmodernism are telling a different story about the world. Modernism, which is the worldview of the Enlightenment, and postmodernism, which is the monster made in its image, are the controlling thought patterns of our Western world. Modernism can be described as the loss of the sacramental character of creation. With man’s reason enthroned over all, modernism sees the physical world as merely the effect of a prior cause in the material processes that began with the Big Bang and continues with celestial expansion and survival of the fittest and chemical chain reactions, of which you and I are a small but meaningless part. So we are just another part of the physical world; we are a bunch of colliding atoms living in the middle of a bunch of other colliding atoms, with nothing really special about those atoms. They are just the random collocation of physical processes fizzing and bubbling on a blue marble in an empty void. However we moderns see ourselves in relation to the physical world, we have to make it up for ourselves. We are just blobs of protoplasm on the evolutionary scale at the whim of big natural forces, so make life whatcha can.

    C.S. Lewis described modernity as “the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law.” That “ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism” is the result of the secularism that arises from the godless world out of which Enlightened man kicked God with his almighty reason. If there is no Creator, then the universe is all there is, and the universe is a pretty bleak place. We are up against scientific processes a lot bigger than us, as we have to try to make the most of it and maximize what we have. That’s pragmatism: ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism, or what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” In a world of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism, if a pregnancy keeps a woman from fulfilling her dreams, kill the baby. If the people demand cheaper products, rape the countryside to give it to them. If the world craves more and more power and more and more stuff, light the fires of industry to give the stuff to them as efficiently as possible with no regard for beauty or the good life. Whatever works best for making life as efficient and technologically advanced for man as possible is what we should do. In the modern world what matters is the free market economy creating material wealth; what matters is efficiency that makes way for consumerism and renders everything as cheap as possible; what matters is having it all. And the Christian church has been complicit in creating this world gone mad.

    But Christians should be telling a different story, the story of Christ and the good life in Him. The good life of the Christian vision sees the whole world as having a sacramental character. Nature, food, fishing, lovemaking, wine, sunsets, shopping, art, laboring, cleaning, building, dirty bathtubs after bathing four dirty children, melted ice cream dribbling down the chin, a sweaty brow with the smell of freshly cut grass, the crisp smell and stiff spine of a new book – it all has the sacramental character of a gracious gift and a means for knowing the blessing of God and fellowship with God. Architecture, economy, government, performing art, agriculture, education, publishing – all of it is a gift from God for the beautifying of His world, for the transforming of the world into a place of communion with the Lord of life, in which everything is received as a gift from Him and everything is a means of offering worship to the Living God.

    Genesis 1 tells us that God originally made all things very good and that God in His providence has never stopped caring for and lovingly tending His creation. You can read a psalm like Psalm 104 and hear how God provides for the animals and for humans alike. Now with the entry of sin into the world, the creation changed and became corruptible, but the creation is still good. God intends to redeem His creation. God will complete what He first set out to do – which was to make the whole world a place of fellowship and worship between God and His image bearer, man. The ultimate evidence of God’s intention to redeem His entire creation is the incarnation, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The work of Christ is God’s great restoration project for all creation.

    A biologist from Calvin College named Stephen Matheson, by virtue of his training, puts it vividly. He wrote,

    The ascension [of Christ to heaven in a human body] carries the following startling implication, as articulated by theologian Gerrit Dawson: “The meaning of a continuing incarnation is revealed in all its splendour: in the person of the eternal Son, the Triune God has taken up humanity into his being for ever” (Jesus Ascended, P&R Publishing, 2004, 53). There is human flesh in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father.

    Human flesh, with protein and carbohydrate, bone and muscle, DNA and mitochondria, is in heaven, already, waiting to greet other embodied beings who will be raised with him. . . . It does not imply that the whole shebang is good, for surely there was a transformation (glorification) of Jesus’ body, and there were some things that he didn’t take with him. But it does imply that flesh, biological stuff, cells and DNA and blood and guts, are things that do not merely and universally pass away. They can last, somehow, forever.

    I’m living in the new creation and loving it this Christmastide. Hope you are too.

    This Guy Must Support Ron Paul…

    December 27, 2007 by

    … turning everything upside down.

    Christmas Joy

    December 25, 2007 by

    Luke 2:8-20

    Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

    13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

    14 “Glory to God in the highest,

    And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

    15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

    The heart of Christmas is mysterious joy. At every turn the wisdom of the world is turned upside down and confounded. Here is the treasure of God placed into an earthly vessel. Step back and wonder at the wisdom of God in this passage.

    An Angel and the host of heaven, herald the arrival of Prince of Peace and the God of Goodwill. They rend the fabric separating heaven from earth so that the glory of the Lord shone all about the place. The attention of the Omniscient, Omnipotent Triune God was focused like a laser on – shepherds?

    Like so much of the Advent of Christ this seems incongruous with what we think we know about God. For instance, He is an Infinite Spirit, filling space and time while existing outside that same space and time, yet the Holy Spirit overshadows a small girl in an insignificant village and God becomes local. The God of the universe is wrapped up in the womb of a virgin.

    Here, the angel tells the shepherds that this news was to be for all the people – kings and prophets, rulers and teachers, judges and magisterium, but the lowest class of working man is granted this greatest of favors, they were told where to find the Savior of the World. The good tidings of great joy were placed in the earthiest of earthen vessels, keepers of sheep.

    This is the message of Joy… There is a baby in Bethlehem, wrapped tight in swaddling cloths, lying in a food trough and all of that is a sign that unto you is given a Savior who is Christ, God’s anointed, the Lord of the Universe.

    That is the sign of a visit from God? A poor family – living with animals – at a public inn? How can this be the same God? The hope of all the world, past, present and future, is mysteriously cooing and feeding at the breast of teenager. Who would look for the Savior of the world in a baby?

    Ah, but there was treasure there. That earthen vessel of low reputation and common birth contained the Lord of all the universe. Look with the eyes of heaven. Look at that child with God’s eyes! Here is Jesus the Christ, Savior of man, the Son of God and of Mary Glory to God in the highest!

    That Christmas conundrum continues today. Who would look for the Savior in me and you? All of our inconstancies and frailties; our flesh marked with sin, frame a poor dwelling for the Savior who is Christ the Lord.

    1 Cor 1:26-31

    For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

    Born to you this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in Highest and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!

    al sends