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Showing posts from May, 2011

memorial day 2011

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

on noticing others (fred smith)

Good post from, which sends out practical advice from that great Dallas businessman and motivator, Fred Smith (now deceased): I regularly eat in restaurants before 6am.  It is always gratifying to find someone who is cheerful at that early hour.  It may be a waitress, hostess, or customer.  Yet I am ashamed to admit how rarely I tell the person how much it means to meet a friendly individual first thing in the morning.  Doubtless this person is making a genuine effort to do this.  Lately, I have made an effort to recognize this good trait. I complimented the woman who poured my second cup of coffee at the cafeteria for doing it with great style.  As I spoke the words, she began glowing, knowing her skill had been acknowledged. Bill Mead, former CEO of Campbell Taggart, had a unique sensitivity to extraordinary, though small, abilities of others.  Consequently, he was welcomed by all.  He showed me part of relationship excellence is growing in the recognition of s

behold our God!

sunday quotes -- the chastening of God

  David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD..."  (2 Samuel 12:13-14 ESV) "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. ( 2 Samuel 7:14-15 )  The Chastening of God  (2 Samuel 12:1-14) --God’s conviction of David’s sin (1-9). --David’s confession (5, 6, 13). --The consequences that David will face (10-14). And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”    (Hebrews 12:5-6) “

malum complexum -- many sins in one

What follows is an excerpt from Thomas Watson's A Body of Divinity, (4:2:104-05), on the seriousness of the first sin by Adam.  (Slightly edited for archaic terms)... The aggravation of Adam’s sin .  Wherein did it appear to be so great? It was but the seizing of a fruit. Was it such a great matter to pluck an apple?  It was against an infinite God. It was malum complexum , a voluminous sin, there were many twisted together in it; as Cicero says of parricide, ‘He who is guilty of it, he commits many sins in one;’ so there were many sins in this one sin of Adam. It was a big-bellied sin, a chain with many links. Ten sins were in it.   (1) Unbelief. Our first parents did not believe what God had spoken was truth. God said that they shall die the death in the day they eat of that tree. They believed not that they should die; they could not be persuaded that such fair fruit had death at the door. Thus, by unbelief they made God a liar.  Worse: they believed the devil rather than Go

just asking...

is technology neutral?

Here are some excerpts from a Friday Five interview with John Dyer on this topic: and technology are not neutral because while we use them to transform the world, they transform us in turn. And they don't just transform our bodies. They also transform business and culture. I'm not so concerned with whether or not technology offers us a "net plus" as I am with helping us recognize that technology always brings a "net change." ... Focusing all our time on whether technology is "bad" or "good" tends to blind us from all of these other very significant changes that technology brings. A parallel trend [ the affect of abundance ] appears to be happening with information. We now have access to the greatest sermons, research, and Biblical tools humans have ever created, and yet we spend most of our time updating Facebook and watching funny cats on YouTube. In other words, we have trouble distinguishing between easy-to-consume inf

hawking on the afterlife

Stephen Hawking answers an interviewer's question in a recent Guardian article , where he compares heaven to a “fairy story” for “people afraid of the dark.” ...  You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death? "I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." Kevin Staley-Joyce in First Things gives a succinct and, I think, accurate response: It’s the usual critique of religion-as-wish-fulfillment, coupled with Hawking’s philosophical materialism. But, as usual, the usual arguments are well and ready for a response. Those acquainted with Ivan Karamazov will recall his apparent belief that if there is no God, an

not moderately important

"One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."   (C. S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" from God in the Dock )

why we allow women to speak at the Lord's Supper

Recently we had someone challenge us on the propriety of allowing women to share and pray aloud during the Lord's Supper remembrance.  (He was from the Plymouth Brethren background.) This is what I wrote for him... Why we allow women to share and pray during the Lord’s Supper... During our Lord’s Supper service we enjoy a special time of open sharing and prayer.  We invite all believers gathered with us, whether young or old, male or female, to share Scripture or pray or suggest a hymn to sing.  It is our desire that our worship at this time be informal, open, and led by the Spirit.  (See Joel 2:28f.) Some assemblies do not allow women to speak during this service, citing the following passage: For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husband

O, for a closer walk with God lyrics

O for a closer walk with God A calm and heavenly frame A light to shine upon the road Leading to the Lamb Where is the blessedness I knew When once I saw the Lord Where is the soul refreshing view Living in His Word A light to be my guide The Father's presence at my side In Your will my rest I find O for a closer walk with God - leading to the Lamb So shall my walk be close with God With all the hopes made new So purer light shall mark the road Leading to the Lamb Music: Keith Getty Copyright © 2001 Kingsway's Thankyou Music/MCPS

why write with a fountain pen?

OK, some people have asked me about this... uh, eccentric hobby of mine, collecting and writing with fountain pens.  I saw this post over at Writers Bloc .  So, check that out. Then below I copied a few of the posted remarks made by people at the Fountain Pen Network... Fountain pen users are young and old, male and female, students and professionals, but they are usually people in professions like law, medicine, teaching, writers, artists and clergy.  Notice some of the themes listed below: "nostalgia, ergonomics, aesthetics, pleasure, dignity, quality..." "Fine pens are a sign of history. It recalls a time when quality was more impressive than quantity, when everything wasn't disposable. When you bought something to last and not be obsolete in 2 years." "Writing in a journal is just more of a pleasure with a fine pen. Both from a tactile and visual sense." "Possessing and using a fine pen says that you care about quality, and ab

appeal to authority

I first read the post "Why Do You Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead?" by John Piper in A Godward Life , entry #60, which is a bit fuller than what follows.  He wrote this previously to his church on Easter in March 1988.   What I appreciate here is the validation of an appeal to authority, if the authority is in fact reliable.  When people have asked about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead I've felt I must always begin to enumerate historical evidences, and there's certainly a place for that.   The answer, "because the Bible says so" sounds so naive, whereas a phrase like "science has shown" sounds so authoritative.  But, as Piper shows, both are appeals to authority.  Read on... The odd thing about this question [ Why do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? ] is that I usually have to sit and ponder a while to remember some answers that begin to sound compelling to non-Christian seekers. At first this seems phony: If I believe it, wh

t. s. eliot

Here are my favorite T. S. Eliot quotes: "When the Christian faith is not only felt, but thought, it has practical results which may be inconvenient." "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? It is for lack of wisdom, not lack of information, that the people perish." "Disillusion can become itself an illusion If we rest in it."   "Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen."  "It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to be the fool you are. You will find that you survive humiliation And that's an experience of incalculable value." "What is hell? Hell is oneself. Hell is alone, the other figures in it Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from And nothing to escape to. One is always alone." "Half the harm that is done in this world Is due to people who want to feel important. They don

not your little goodness or mine...

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; 'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. (Nicholaus von Zinzendorf, tr. by John Wesley) "This is Christianity: not your little goodness and mine; not what I am doing and what I am not doing.  Not how much better I am than somebody else; not how much better I am than I once was.  No, your forget it all and look to Him.  You see His perfect spotless righteousness and you know that if you believe in Him it is given to you and you are clothed with it. ... "How can men and women have peace when they are striving, only to find how unworthy they are?  It is impossible.  But the moment they believe this blessed truth of the kingdom of God and in Christ as God's way of righteousness, then everything is changed immediately. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.'  It is an end of all my futile struggles."  (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Kingdom of Go

defending Constantine

Ben Witherington on Constantine.  Fifth in a series of blogs , evaluating Peter Leithart's Defending Constantine and various responses.  Helpful distinction of building culture, rejecting culture, transforming culture...  Yoder [ an Anabaptist writer ] would have it that when Christianity loses its beleaguered underdog status it loses something essential, it loses for example its counter-cultural element.    But Christianity was never intended to be counter cultural in the full sense of that term.    Counter-cultural is simply reaction to the dominant culture.  As Andy Crouch reminds us,  Christianity at heart is about building its own positive culture,  and rightly or wrongly that is what Constantine was trying to do.    There is a difference between building culture and transforming culture and rejecting culture and to some degree Christianity was about all three of these things from the start.   It was however only the anti-Christian elements of the culture that was rejected

nice collection of FPs

Lumachrome has a nice variety of new and vintage fountain pens in his collection.  View his gallery here . 

the gospel and history

The gospel is more than a message about how I as an individual can be saved.  It is a proclamation of cosmos-changing historical events.  This article by I'Ching Thomas (associate director of training at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Singapore) summarizes this so well.  Here are some excerpts: The Christian gospel is often condensed into a story that affirms the basics of the faith: God loves us and has a wonderful plan for us.  But we have sinned and are therefore separated from Him.  Jesus Christ on the Cross is the answer to our predicament, and if we will accept him as our personal savior, we will have eternal life.  Though accurate in what it highlights, such a simplified presentation can wrongly convey the idea that the gospel is primarily about individual fulfillment and satisfaction.  On the contrary, the heart of both the Old and New Testaments is the fulfillment of God's plan.  The story of human redemption is God's complete and multifaceted movem

NDP prayer

The 2011 National Prayer by Joni Eareckson Tada, Honorary Chairman: "Almighty God, you are our Mighty Fortress, our refuge and the God in whom we place our trust.  As our nation faces great distress and uncertainty, we ask your Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon your people — convict us of sin and inflame within us a passion to pray for our land and its people.   "Grant the leaders of our country an awareness of their desperate need of wisdom and salvation in You until sin becomes a reproach to all and righteousness exalts this nation. "Protect and defend us against our enemies and may the cause of Christ always prevail in our schools, courts, homes, and churches.  Lord God, send a spirit of revival and may it begin in our own hearts.   "Remember America, we pray.  Remember the foundations on which this country was built.  Remember the prayers of our nation’s fathers and mothers, and do not forget us in our time of need.  In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ,

the living image

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."  (John 1:14 ESV) "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."  (14:9) "In the Scriptures there is a portrait of God, but in Christ there is God himself. A coin bears the image of Caesar, but Caesar's son is his own lively resemblance. Christ is the living Bible."  (Thomas Manton) 

childrens memorial

I'll never forget how moving was the Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem.  The faces, the candles mirrored like stars in the night sky, and the children's names being read one at a time.

never forget

The hall of remembrance at Yad Vashem (near Jerusalem).