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Showing posts from June, 2019

battlefield Jesus

Joni Eareckson Tada writes about sentimental conceptions of the Lord Jesus which are not only untrue but also do not help those people who are living with chronic pain and suffering.   ... Here at our ministry we refuse to present a picture of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” a portrait that tugs at your sentiments or pulls at your  heartstrings. That’s because we deal with so many people who suffer, and when you’re hurting hard, you’re neither helped nor inspired by a  syrupy picture of the Lord, like those sugary, sentimental images many of us grew up with. You know what I mean? Jesus with His hair parted  down the middle, surrounded by cherubic children and bluebirds.  Come on. Admit it: When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, when you feel like Morton’s salt is being poured into your wounded soul, you  don’t want a thin, pale, emotional Jesus who relates only to lambs and birds and babies.  You want a warrior Jesus.  You want a battlefield Jesus. You want His rigor

this week 6/25

2016 Nike Air Mag Back-to-the Future Who can blame secular news media for highlighting such Christian (I use the term loosely) shenanigans?  On preachers and their pricey sneakers :  "Like pop idols hoisted for worship, these pastors aspire toward casual majesty and achieve prefabricated fabulousness."   Other articles of note:    "Secular government is breaking its promise of liberty, and the American church is breaking its promise of virtue."   (David French, on "Two Painful Truths" ) On the example of Augustine :  "Augustine had the wisdom to discern sound doctrine, the courage to defend it, and the pastoral love to demand it from his people."   (Brian Litfin, on "Why We Need More Pastors Like Augustine" )   Reflecting on socialism .  "When Fidel Castro and the socialists took power of Cuba in 1959, they quickly expropriated (stole) and nationalized farms, land and businesses in the name of social justice. These act

the sufficiency of scripture

"I have given them your word , and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth ; your word is truth ."  (John 17:14-17 ESV, underlining added) John 5 in Codex Sinaiticus, early 4th century Just as the Lord Jesus Christ is wholly sufficient for us (and all our needs), so also is the word he has given us.  Here's James White on the sufficiency of Scripture: I have often preached that Christ is a perfect Savior, that He possesses the power and the nature to save without fail, and that He will share His glory with no other. I have used these truths as a basis upon which to exhort believers to rejoice in Christ’s sufficiency. Look to Him for your every need! Do not allow the world to distract you, to draw you away so as to nibble at the worthle

on mysticism

Here's B. B. Warfield, Princeton professor and theologian a century ago, on the distinction between mysticism and evangelical Christianity .  It's a concise and relevant summary:   Saint Teresa Of Avila, Mary Evans Library "Evangelical Christianity interprets all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, and guides, directs, and corrects it from these Scriptures, and thus molds it into harmony with what God in His revealed Word lays down as the normal Christian life. The mystic, on the other hand, tends to substitute his religious experience for the objective revelation of God recorded in the written Word, as the source from which he derives his knowledge of God, or at least to subordinate the expressly revealed Word as the less direct and convincing source of knowledge of God to his own religious experience. The result is that the external revelation is relatively depressed in value, if not totally set asi

this week 6/19

What's the difference between empathy and compassion ?   "Empathizing without thinking is easy, like diving headlong into quicksand. Compassion with conviction requires muscle."  Samuel James explains "The Empathy Trap."    Blessings of the Holy Spirit.  "Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace, and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's gracious presence."  (Spurgeon)  Read more here.   The Handmaid's Tale , both book and series, is apparently very popular, especially among secular, anti-religious viewers.  Hanna Howard writes that it is " best a thought-provoking literary work, and at worst a straw-man argument against traditionalism and conservative values. Atwood fails to deliver an intelligent critique of conservative Christian values, and her book does not reach the caliber of Orwell’s tales."   Read her review here.    What to do when you have an attention span shorter than that of a go

digging deep or dabbling

According to a TIME magazine article in 2015 , "The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according  to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly  digitalized lifestyle on the brain."  The article goes on to cite a dubious upside to this: "On the positive side, the report says our ability to  multitask has drastically improved in the mobile age."   I fear, for myself and for others, that this also affects our study of God's word.  A brief passage, or a devotional moment (aka a "devo"), cannot replace more  prolonged meditation and application of God's word.  Psalm 1 tells us that the way to flourish and bear fruit in the Lord is to meditate on his Law "day and night", and to be rooted in the Scriptures like a tree near a life-giving stream of water. To do otherwise is to let our lives becom

more from Machen

Here are some quotes from three works by J. Gresham Machen (1881--1937)...  From The Origin of Paul's Religion (1921)... 16th cent. Russian icon of the Apostle Paul "What is really most significant in the Pauline Epistles therefore, is the complete absence of any defense of the Pauline doctrine of Christ , the complete absence, indeed, of any systematic presentation of that doctrine. The Pauline view of Christ is everywhere presupposed , but nowhere defended. The phenomenon is very strange if the modern naturalistic account of Jesus be correct. According to that account, the historical Jesus, a great and good man, came after His death to be regarded as a divine Redeemer; one conception of Jesus gave place to a very different conception." "Yet the surprising thing is that the mighty transition has left not the slightest trace in the primary sources of information. The chief witness to the transcendent conception of Jesus as divine Redeemer is quite unco

this week 6/11

“Fierce was the wild billow  Dark was the night; Oars labored heavily  Foam glimmered white; Mariners trembled  Peril was nigh;  Then said the God of God --  ‘Peace! It is I!’ “Ridge of the mountain wave,  Lower thy crest! Wail of Euroclydon,  Be thou at rest! Peril can none be –  Sorrow must fly –  Where saith the Light of Light --  ‘Peace! It is I!  “Jesus, Deliverer!  Come Thou to me: Soothe Thou my voyaging  Over life’s sea! Thou, when the storms of death  Roars, sweeping by,  Whisper, O Truth of Truth! --  ‘Peace! It is I!’” ~ Anatolius of Constantinople (d. 458),     Hymns of the Eastern Church  (J. M. Neale, trans.)   "We need our brothers and sisters down through the ages.  We need the whole church for this task of explaining God's word."   (Michael Horton) Summer reading suggestion:   Church History in Plain Language (4th. ed., 2013) by Bruce Shelley.  This is an enjoyable, and very readable, overview of the history of the Chri

this week 6/4

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."   (Matthew 28:19 ESV) "As the Father is God, so is the Son,  And as the Son is God, so is the Holy Spirit;  And the Three are likewise One God when seen together.  Each is God because they are of the same essence,  And they are One God because of the single principle of Deity. And when I see the Three together, I see only one torch,  And I cannot divide or share out the Undivided Light." ~ Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 329--390)  [Cited by Nick Needham in Daily Readings – The Early Church Fathers ] Image above: an icon of the three Cappadocians -- Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nazianzus.   Continuing this Sunday: "Highlights in Church History", a summer adult class, meeting first hour (9:45 am) in the fellowship hall.  Topics include Council of Nicaea, Chalcedon, the great Schism, a Reform