Archive for October, 2007

Gee – Ya Think?

October 30, 2007

One of my daughters recently asked me why I never let them go trick-or-treating.  I told her that I was trying to raise her up with an outward focus, to prefer others before herself, as the Lord commands us.  Going door-to-door demanding candy from strangers did not fit with that vision.  I now have another reason…

The Washington Post reports that the “hottest trend in costumes, retailers say, is sexy” and that the trend is targetting 11 year olds or younger.

The Halloween costume trend is not only leading to tense mother-daughter standoffs, but it is also part of a far larger worry that young girls are becoming sexualized.

I must admit I saw this happening when I was in high school (early 80’s) but never in 8 and 9 year olds.  The story is disturbing in general but this made me sad:

Megan Smith, 16, perused the costumes at Party City with her father, Dan. She first tried on the Prisoner, a slinky spandex number with a little button at the throat and open chest like a ’70s disco halter dress. She settled on Raggedy Ann, a blue mini dress so mini that the lacy underskirt barely dusts the bottom of the fanny.No one does scary costumes anymore, Megan said.

Blame that on the teen movie “Mean Girls,” she said, quoting a line verbatim: “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” 

Her father laughed nervously. “They’re all a little risque, and I don’t like that,” he said. “She’ll be wearing shorts underneath.”

Megan rolled her eyes

The poor girl despises her dad and herself:

Prov 15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

If Dan ever reads Proverbs 5 to his son, will he be cutting his eyes at his daughter?

 5:20Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
   and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
   and he ponders all his paths.
22The  iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
   and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
   and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Very sad,

al sends

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Enabling Grace

October 29, 2007

The only way to be saved from our sin is to come to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance. But the Bible is clear that if we do come to Christ, it is because God first came to us and empowered us to do so by His grace. This is to say that the grace that delivers us and transforms us when we come to Christ is the same grace that enables us to come to Him to begin with.

We are coming to Christ for salvation today. He calls us to come, and we must obey. We must approach Him for forgiveness of sin. He is pleased when we worship Him, and He requires our worship, so we must come.

But how shall we come? Will we find it in ourselves to come? Is it enough merely to have an appointment for worship each Sunday or to come by force of habit? No. We need grace to come to God.

I want to assure you that God gives what He commands. God’s grace enables us to come to Him so that we can fellowship with Him and give Him glory and receive the grace of covenant renewal. We are in the position of Moses, who prayed to the Lord, “If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” If I have found grace, let me find grace.

God enables by his grace you to come and worship Him so that you can receive grace. I exhort you to trust in that enablement and look to the Holy Spirit to help you do what you cannot do on your own. I exhort you to worship with your all because God is your help. God’s gracious enablement should not make you passive, but it should make you more able to sing, more emphatic in your confession, more heartfelt in your prayers, more active in your hearing of the Word.

God’s grace goes before us and helps us. Let us lean on that help as we worship the glorious God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

Lateral

October 28, 2007

Down by two… on their own 32… with two seconds left to play.  There has got to be a lateral… or two.

Trinity College (TX).

(Sorry I cannot imbed this video… click the link)

al sends

The Fool Has Said…

October 17, 2007

… in his heart that there is no God.

This actually goes well with my previous post.  George Grant’s blog does not have a link back feature so I cannot give him a proper hat tip.  But, if you wish to check out the post I am referencing then click here and go to October 10th and the post entitled The Threat of Creation.

Dr. Grant brought to my attention a European Council decision to support a resolution to urge its members to oppose all creationism.

From Dr. Grant: 

On October 4, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted 48 to 25 in support of the resolution entitled the dangers of creationism in education in which the legislative body urged its 47 constituent governments to “firmly oppose” the teaching of Creationism, arguing that such beliefs are “promoted by forms of religious extremism” seeking to “to impose religious dogma “ at the expense of children’s “education. “

The idea of a Creator is dangerous to be sure.  It means that there are laws not passed by a legislature.  It means that if those laws are ignored there will be hell to pay. 

One of the statements in the resolution points to the utilitarian objective in much of modern science:

Science provides irreplaceable training in intellectual rigour. It seeks not to explain “why things are” but to understand how they work.

When all that matters is the ‘how’ of creation, ethics goes out the window.  How do stem cells work?  Take them from embryos and let’s find out.  How does the brain translate a pin prick into pain?  Those less developed humans (see the post below) are available for testing. 

The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over creation.  He is the living Word who moved the writer of Hebrews to say: 

Heb 11:3  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

We all have our faith based religions.  The writers of this bit of drivel are full of faith.  Their faith is in an eternal materialism.  It grows our of a love of self and idolatrous reason.  May your faith be of stronger stuff… May it rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ as revealed in His word, which informs all of creation.  

By the way the resolution was drafted by French Socialists (is that redundant?).  As if you needed another reason to hate the French…

al sends

Consequences

October 17, 2007

Fury at DNA pioneer’s theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners

If evolution is fact then why the ‘fury?’  Would you not expect to find intelligence differences in differing species?  We do in dogs, right?  Man is just a dog that has a worse sense of smell and a bigger brain…  right?

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
         Marvelous are Your works,
         And that my soul knows very well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret,
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written,
         The days fashioned for me,
         When as yet there were none of them.

al sends

Education: Turning Kids Into Cogs

October 15, 2007

I wrote into my local paper and they chose not to publish this little piece on education, which is just fine.  That is why God created the blog…   

    While reading Sara Raab’s October 2nd article “Hands-on education” in the Pensacola News Journal (The article has been archived and is not available to the public.) many of her points disturbed me.  Instead of teaching children to master difficult concepts, we need to make geometry “fun,” fun being the highest good here.  High school students are learning about “square footage and area and circumference” by cutting out fabric?  That is scary.

    But, I was most struck by how far we as a country have come in our understanding of education.  Ms. Raab’s article seems to praise the development of a system that “work(s) with members of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce to plan a curriculum that matches local employers’ needs, workforce trends and higher-paying jobs.”  This is a horror of a model, which has its roots in humanism.  In fact, this is vocational training and not education at all.  True education renews the mind, creating fertile ground for the development of ideas and preparing the learner to evaluate incoming information.

    Horace Mann and John Dewey, both humanists, were two of the most influential men in our nation’s history when it comes to education, with Mann often being described as the father of American public education.  Mann endorsed the Prussian model of education (we get our word kindergarten from this system), and Dewey was greatly impacted by his trip to what was then called Soviet Russia.  Their overriding philosophy was that we need an education that is “socially useful,” and by useful they mean productive. 

   In Dewey’s book Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World, Dewey wrote, “For a leading principle of this advanced doctrine (the Soviet model of “technical education”) was that participation in productive work is the chief stimulus and guide to self-educative activity on the part of pupils, since such productive work is both in accord with the natural or psychological process of learning;  and also provides the most direct road to connecting the school with social life, because of the part played by occupations in the latter.”   

    Did you catch those phrases: “advanced doctrine,”  “productive work,”  “connecting the school with social life?”  We are training our children to be workers and fill a need in “workforce trends.”  Can you see that we are adopting a system of education that reinforces the belief that there is no lord over the state but that the “society” is all in all?  This is a system of education that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and is being abandoned around the world.  It saddens me that we think this is cutting edge and provides the best education for our children.

   Dewey wrote long, rambling sentences; but, that is typical of the intelligentsia of his day. Convoluted sentences come from convoluted thought and we ought to abandon such convoluted thinking and reevaluate what it is we want our children to learn.  I would urge those who do know there is another Lord over the state (and believe that He is truly all in all) to reevaluate where they are sending their children for their education.  And I would also urge taxpayers of all stripes to question what the next generation of children will look like.

  There are better models out there.  Seek them out.

With Apologies to Dolly Parton…

October 10, 2007

“Islands in the stream – that is what we are – no one in between…” Actually, she and Kenny Rogers may owe us an apology. OK… not my point. Focus Al, focus!

What are we doing when we come to the Lord’s Table? Are we all Dolly and Kenny types, isolated individuals looking for that one-on-one connection with Jesus? I think that is the prevalent in the Church today. This is the place where I meet Jesus. I look into my heart see if I am right(eous) and then I come to the table.

The need of the hour is communion reformation. As 1 Cor 10:17 says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Since there is one loaf on the table we are one body. We do not come to the table individually we come together.

Alexander Schmemann said that the Church ought to be a society…

“Yet the experience of worship has long ago ceased to be that of a corporate liturgical act. It is an aggregation of individuals coming to church, attending worship in order to satisfy individually their individual religious needs, not in order to constitute and to fulfill the Church. The best proof of this is the complete disintegration of communion as a corporate act. “

So the question is how do we recapture this “corporate act” in our communion at The Table? Here are three, nay four, things we ought to do:

  1. The Lord’s Supper is an every week event. There is much less introspection when the table is viewed as means of grace given to the church (“This is my body GIVEN for you”) for the strengthening of the body as a whole.

  2. As opposed to the Roman Church we wait on one another to eat and drink. Even if you come forward to receive the elements the body should eat and drink as one.Keep short accounts in sin.
  3. Have a time of confession at the beginning of the service and remind the church of their forgiveness prior to taking the bread and wine.
  4. Study what it is to discern the body… Is it an intellectual exercise where we place the bread and wine (and the Savior for that matter) into easily, forgive me, digestible categories? Or is it a looking left, right, front and back; looking at my neighbor and loving them by grace through Christ? I think it is the latter.

There are others that may come up in the meta… I want to talk about children and the table next…

al sends

Unity manifested

October 7, 2007

St. Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17) When we come to the Lord’s Table, we often meditate on how we are drawn closer to Christ Jesus by partaking of His body and blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Table, we also show ourselves to be one body, one with each other. We are one body because we partake of one bread. When we celebrate the supper together as the Lord commanded, we manifest our unity.

To be the church is to be the work of the Triune God who cannot fail. The gates of hell will not prevail against His church. From the youngest to the oldest, from the newest Christian to the most mature saint, all the baptized are the body of Christ, and so in this ongoing ritual, this sacrament of covenant life, we show forth the unity that is found together in our union with Jesus Christ.

And so this is why we must always wait for one another when we eat. And this is why must we clear accounts in our relationships with each other. We must confess our sins, and we must seek forgiveness so that we come to the table truly in unity, and we must be ready to forgive when the sin gets confessed.

Everyone longs to be part of something. We join clubs and teams and fraternities and brotherhoods and unions and identify with groups. But here at the table we truly belong. Young and old, rich and poor, we are the new humanity here at this table. We are united to one another as a body in the greatest, most eternal human organism assembled. We are the body of Christ. Why? Because we all partake of the same bread, the bread of Christ.

So I invite you all to come in faith and be bound together in Him.

Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.

The Man came to life again

October 7, 2007

We have gathered here on the morning of this first day of the week because this is the day Christ Jesus rose from the dead. In a very real sense Christ rises from the dead again and again every time His body, the church, rises to worship Him on resurrection morning. So I exhort you, as you worship today, to remember the resurrection of our Lord and your new life in Him.

You know how I love to quote C.S. Lewis. He wrote in Mere Christianity:

Again and again it has been thought Christianity was dying, dying by persecutions from without or corruptions from within, by the rise of Mohammedanism, the rise of the physical sciences, by the rise of great anti-Christian revolutionary movements. But every time the world has been disappointed. Its first disappointment was over the crucifixion. The Man came to life again. In a sense – and I quite realize how frightfully unfair it must seem to them – that has been happening ever since. They keep on killing the thing that He started: and each time, just as they are patting down the earth on its grave, they suddenly hear that it is still alive and has even broken out in some new place. No wonder they hate us.

Did you hear that? The Man came to life again. Just as it was impossible for the bonds of death to keep their hold on Jesus, so it is impossible for the church to die. And so every time you gather to thunder out your confession and raise the roof with your zealous praise and sit at the feet of Jesus to receive His Word and to eat at His covenant table in peace, you are the body of Christ rising to rule just as Christ Jesus did. The worship of the church is the edge of the axe that is hacking through the deadness of the world to bring the aroma of new life in Christ Jesus. One day the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. And until that day the church will not fail. The church will not stay in the grave. The church will prevail.

So I urge you to worship your Triune God – the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit. I urge you to remember as you do so that you are the body of Christ that will not and cannot die. You have been raised to reign. So let us worship our risen Lord.

Why We Need Grace… Total Depravity Lived Out

October 3, 2007

Are they worse sinners than we?

MESA, Ariz., Oct. 3 (UPI) — The sight of an old man being hit by a truck in Arizona touched off a feeding frenzy among witnesses who allegedly stole the dying victim’s groceries.

Not only were the man’s groceries taken, but the only person who tried to help him also had his own bags taken.

Could you preach the Gospel to those who stole this man’s food?  Did I tell you the man later died?  Tough – I know.  Grace needed all around.

 al sends