Archive for June, 2007

Look At That Picture… God Loves You

June 30, 2007

Heading up to Family Reunion!  I am a mixed breed… Dad is a Yankee, Newton Mass.  Mom is a Southern Bell, B-Ham Alabama.  Dad’s mom was born in Scotland.  Mom’s dad was 1/4 Indian, Native American type. 

Since I am reformed I embrace my Scots ancestry with a vengeance, hating the English and loving the Kirk.  But, I must say that I am helplessly drawn to the little town of Roanoke, Alabama every 4th of July weekend.  The call of the Folsom’s runs as strong in my blood as the Highland yell of Clan MacMillan.

Every year one of the old folks just can’t make it to Darden’s place and every year there are at least one or two wee ones enjoying their first glimpse of the wrap around porch and the two story barn.  They won’t remember it of course, but we take pictures so they will know they were part of the family even back then.  We will point at the photo and say, “see that’s you and that is your great grandfather, telling you that he loves you.”  And that is all the proof she will need.  She is a Folsom.

Isn’t that a bit like baptism?   The child does not remember his baptism, but we took pictures and we will point to the photo one day and say, “that’s you and that is Pastor Bryant, telling you that God loves you.”  And seeing that picture will be one more testimony of the faithfulness of God.  He is a child of the King.

I leave you with this video of the poetry of Robert Burns sung nicely by Andy M. Stewart.  Have a great Lord’s Day!

al sends


Cute Little Bundles of Sin

June 30, 2007

Babies really like me.  Well, most of them do anyway.  They coo, smile and generally seem to enjoy it when I hold them.  Of course it could all be a nasty trick:

Sin gotta hold on us and only Jesus Christ can break it.

Luke 18:15-17

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 

al sends

Let’s Stay Away from That Place

June 30, 2007

Church sign spotted yesterday:

Free trip to heaven. Details inside.

The best commentary on this sign came from my 7-year-old, who, after I read the sign and groaned, asked, “Don’t you have to get killed to go to heaven?”

So that’s what goes on in there, huh?

All That Exists Is a Gift from God

June 29, 2007

Modernity, which is the worldview of the Enlightenment, and postmodernity, which is the monster made in its image, are the controlling thought patterns of our Western world. Modernity can be described as the loss of the sacramental character of creation.

With man’s reason enthroned over all, modernity 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 them what they want. 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. Of course we should; who would think otherwise? 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, a dirty bathtub 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 in Christ. 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.

To quote Alexander Schmemann:

All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation.

Do You Find This Scary?

June 29, 2007

From the Telegraph-UK:

In a development that has triggered unease and excitement in equal measure, scientists in the US took the whole genetic makeup – or genome – of a bacterial cell and transplanted it into a closely related species.

Here is a good word: Hubris

Here is an excellent passage of Scripture: Prov 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I think it is a mark of great hubris to:

#1 believe that we can “create life” in the lab and control it.

#2 believe that, while it takes super-smart monkeys decades to “create life” of the simplest kind, an amorphous mass of gas and oozy stuff can self organize into super-smart monkeys who can map genomes.

The fool has said in his heart there is no God and there is no fool like a smart fool.

al sends

The Real Fall and God’s Decisive Action

June 28, 2007

The “original” sin is not primarily that man has “disobeyed” God; the sin is that he ceased to be hungry for Him and for Him alone, ceased to see his whole life depending on the whole world as a sacrament of communion with God. The sin was not that man neglected his religious duties. The sin was that he thought of God in terms of religion, i.e., opposing Him to life. The only real fall of man is his non-eucharistic life in a non-eucharistic world. The fall is not that he preferred world to God, distorted the balance between the spiritual and material, but that he made the world material, whereas he was to have transformed it into “life in God,” filled with meaning and spirit. . . .

But it is the Christian gospel that God did not leave man in his exile, in the predicament of confused longing. He had created man “after his own heart” and for Himself, and man has struggled for freedom to find the answer to the mysterious hunger in him. In this scene of radical unfulfillment God acted decisively: into the darkness where man was groping toward paradise, He sent light. . . . The light God sent was His Son . . .

from For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann

Blogging for the Truly Lazy 7-26-2007

June 26, 2007

The audio files from this year’s Providence Worldview Conference are finally online.  The sessions are all good but may I recommend Randy Booth’s Jesus Loves the Little Children?  It is a breath of fresh air.

Bibliophiles’ addictions fed for just $5.00 a fix.  Gotta love John Piper… ya just gotta.

I know that some have seen this already… but you have to marvel at the goodness of God to give us a voice like this in a cell phone salesman:

 Finally, this is your cornfield:

This is your cornfield

This is your cornfield on drugs:  CLICK HERE!

Love Made Food, Food Made Worship

June 25, 2007

I have been urging you this morning to see all of creation as a gift from God that communicates His goodness to you. I have been urging you to see all food as a sacrament of God’s presence and peace and abundance because this is the good life that Jesus Christ has won for you and me. He has redeemed the whole creation and is now giving it to us as a gift for His glory.

Now I want to direct your attention to the elements on this table. And I want you to make an important observation: this bread and wine is not from the tables of angels who live out in the ether. Nor is it invisible, spiritual bread and wine. If you lift these cloths, you find plain bread not unlike the bread you might plan to have on your lunch table today, made from wheat and oil and water. This wine was at one time red grapes hanging on clusters somewhere in California on a farm owned by a man named Charles. This is real food and real wine, just like the food by which you commune with God in all the rest of your life.

God made the world, and He made it to provide food for man, and He made man to live on the food of the world and to enjoy it all as a gift for Him. Man in Adam has refused to acknowledge that it is all a gift from God. Christ Jesus took on human flesh and died in that flesh and ascended up to heaven in that flesh, and that glorified flesh is now with God. In Him God has redeemed this sin-sick world and everything in it, and He is redeeming it until the day of consummation. That means that God is completing what He originally set out to do in the Garden of Eden: creating a world full of good and pleasing gifts and then placing His image bearer, man, in that world to receive all those gifts with thanksgiving and to work in the strength that those gifts provide, thus turning food into worship and glory to God.

What we are experiencing here now in the Holy Eucharist is a sacramental meal in just this way. Here we have love made food. And when we take that food into our bodies with the blessing of Christ Jesus, it is food made worship. As we lift our thanksgiving for this gift – the body and blood of Christ who is our Food from heaven, who is the very Bread of our life – then we are being strengthened with His food, and we are communing with the Lord God who in Christ has become our life and our salvation and our peace and is so unfailingly good to us, His body.

Praise the Lord! Here we have love made food. Let’s take this food and make it worship.

Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.

Effectual Worship

June 25, 2007

A question we often ask in daily life is, Did it work? Did it get the job done? Was it effective? This morning I want you to remember that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who makes our worship effectual. When our worship is effectual, it is real worship in spirit and in truth that is received and approved of by the Living God.

It is not your great earnestness and passion that makes your worship effectual, though you should be earnest and passionate. It is not the depth of your feeling that makes your worship effectual, though your worship should resound deep into your affections. It is not the outward forms that make worship effectual, though we should be very concerned that we are worshipping biblically. It is not the excellence of our music or the eloquence of our words or the beauty of our sanctuary or the sweet spirit of our congregation that make our worship effectual, though we say amen to them all.

When our worship of the Living God is effectual, it is because the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in our midst and showing us His favor. We must never attempt to worship without His presence or His aid. When we sing, His Spirit whom He gave to us enables us to sing. When we confess and say amen, He helps us in our weakness and confesses and says amen in heaven for us and fills eternity with His certitude and strength. When we hear the Word read and preached, His Spirit ministers the Word to our hearts and lives, and causes the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly. When we pray to the Father, the Spirit of Christ takes our lisping prayers by the hand and walks them into the throne room of God on the authority of the cross of Christ.

When we worship and the hurricane of God’s wrath would burst forth and flood us and consume, we do not try to build an earthen levee with our own righteousness. We are made eternally safe only by the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives His favor to our worship so that it is truly in spirit and in truth.

So may the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ show His favor to us today and make our worship effectual, both here on earth and also in heaven.

Come, let us worship the Triune God in spirit and in truth. Let us glorify our Lord and Maker and Redeemer God

Hitting the Links 6-21-07

June 21, 2007

Frank Turk makes a good point about tricksy evangelism and no one seems to get it. Well, almost no one.

Tim brings us news of gobal cooling… Something must be done!

Marines, there is no such thing as an Ex-Marine, are tough...

Martha’s Vineyard Beach Patrol?  Not so much

 UPDATE:  Since I had to fix a spelling error on the TeamPyro link above let me add One from Tom in the Box.  Confussion Run Amok

Al sends