Friday, February 27, 2009

We Are Only Human

To be a husband, wife, father or mother, we must start with being human, and the only way to be truly human is to be in Christ. The second Adam begins the new humanity; a humanity that knows how to deny self, and to love God, neighbors and things. Being in Christ is to be a part of His Body—the Church—and to enter into the life of the household of God. It is here that we learn to be members of one another, and from here we are sent back to our separate families to continue as members of one another. Yes, we do occupy different roles or positions—we do have differing duties and responsibilities—but we remain members of one another. All our efforts should be to strengthen one another; providing, defending and protecting.

The word of God directs our steps; it is living and powerful. When husbands, wives, fathers and mother neglect it, trivialize it, or ignore it, then their humanity starves. “Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Without the sustaining, nourishing word of God men become less than human; like beasts, they live only for themselves. The Bible humbles us; something we must acquire before we can succeed. After the new wears off, it is the only thing that enables us to look at another human being and love, honor and cherish them. A family cannot exist for long if they habitually ignore God’s call for gracious, edifying words toward one another and instead offer rude, crude, hostile or untruthful words. Every sin breaks down the body and tears apart what God has joined together. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” — 1 Corinthians 5:17.

Robert Capon observes:

“The only available candidates for matrimony are, every last one of them, sinners. As sinners, they are in a fair way to wreck themselves and anyone else who gets within arm’s length of them. Without virtue, therefore, no marriage will make it. The first of all vocations, the ground line of the New Jerusalem is made of stuff like truthfulness, patience, love and liberality; of prudence, justice, temperance and courage; and of all their adjuncts and circumstances: manners, consideration, fair speech and the ability to keep one’s mouth shut and one’s heart open, as needed.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Legislating Freedom

"You can not legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the rich out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can not give to anybody anything the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend is about the end of any nation."

- Dr. Adrian Rogers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Expressions of Love

Poetry, touch, gifts, time and words are all important and powerful expressions of love. Our loved ones should be surrounded by these; often they will express their immediate gratitude to us for such kindness. But love is not limited to these obvious demonstrations. God loves us in many other ways—ways that we are called to remember and emulate: service, longsuffering, sharing burdens, labor, kindness, humility, respect—all of these demonstrate our love day-in-and-day-out.

The Bible teaches us that there is another important expression of love: “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” (Heb. 12:6). Moreover, to not chasten those who are under our care (when they are in need of it), is to not love them. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Pr. 13:24). The child might not perceive such discipline as an expression of love at the time, but those who have been trained by it will be grateful to those who loved them enough to keep them in the way of righteousness. In many ways, this expression of love is the most difficult because it involves the greatest sacrifice. It often goes unappreciated in the short run; it has to wait for a return. Parents and pastors must keep a long view of love. Cultivation is hard work but the harvest is sweet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Attention to Detail

“…you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7)


There are many ways to study the Bible and to learn about God: systematic theology, biblical theology, historical theology, etc. These are not only good, they are necessary. However, if we stop short of the Bible and God speaking to us personally and individually, then we have come short of the grace of God. Some aspects of theology can be abstract but the Scriptures never allow us to reduce our Bible study to an academic pursuit. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:1-3).

God speaks to us through His word. If God loves the world, but doesn’t notice you, then it will not matter much that He has loved the world. Psalm 139:1-16 declares how much the Lord knows us and cares for us:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 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.



Notice how the careful attention of the Lord is expressed toward us when we remember that He:

  • Names His Sheep: John 10:3, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
  • Numbers Our Hairs: Matthew 10:30-31, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
  • Counts Our Steps: Job 31:4, “Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?”
  • Records Our Thoughts: Malachi 3:16, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.”
  • Bottles Our Tears: Psalm 56:8, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”
  • Takes Our Hands: Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”
  • Supplies Our Needs: Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  • Relieves Our Burdens: Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
  • Eases Our Worries: 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Water in Excelsis

To raise a glass, however, is to raise a question. One honest look at any real thing—one minute's contemplation of any process on earth—leads straight into the conundrum of the relationship of God to the world. The solution is hardly ob­vious. For something that could not be at all without God, creation seems to do rather well without Him. Only miracles are simple; nature is a mystery. Autumn by autumn, He makes wine upon a thousand hills, but He does it without tipping His hand. Glucose, fructose, and Saccharomyces el­lipsoideus apparently manage very nicely on their own. So much so, that the resolving of the conflict between the sacred and the secular (or, better said, the repairing of the damage done by divorcing them) has been billed as the major problem of modern theology. Permit me, therefore, glass in hand and cooking Sherry within easy reach, the world's most interrupted discourse on the subject. In vino veritas.

Take the largest part of that truth first. God makes wine. For all its difficulties, there is no way around the doctrine of creation. But notice the tense: He makes; not made. He did not create once upon a time, only to find himself saddled now with the unavoidable and embarrassing result of that first rash decision. That is only to welsh on the idea of an unnecessary world, to make creation a self-perpetuating pool game which is contingent only at the start—which needs only the first push on the cue ball to keep it going forever. It will not do: The world is more unnecessary than that. It is unnecessary now; it cries in this moment for a cause to hold it in being. It was St. Thomas, I think, who pointed out long ago that if God wanted to get rid of the universe, He would not have to do anything; He would have to stop doing something. Wine is—the fruit of the vine stands in act, outside of nothing—because it is His very present pleasure to have it so. The creative act is contemporary, intimate, and immediate to each part, parcel and period of the world.

Do you see what that means? In a general way we con­cede that God made the world out of joy: He didn't need it; He just thought it was a good thing. But if you confine His activity in creation to the beginning only, you lose most of the joy in the subsequent shuffle of history. Sure, it was good back then, you say, but since then, we've been eating leftovers. How much better a world it becomes when you see Him creating at all times and at every time; when you see that the preserving of the old in being is just as much creation as the bringing of the new out of nothing. Each thing, at every moment, becomes the delight of His hand, the apple of His eye. The bloom of yeast lies upon the grapeskins year after year because He likes it; C6H12O6=2C2H5OH+2CO2 is a de­pendable process because, every September, He says, That was nice; do it again.

Let us pause and drink to that.

[Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pushing Buttons

The problem, as I see it, is that you both are extremely
adept as pushing each other’s buttons.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin is 200 Years Old Today

Darwin’s evolutionary speculation was a direct assault upon the biblical doctrine of creation and thereby challenged the existence of the personal, transcendent, sovereign God of Christianity. If man emerged from some supposed primordial slime, the eventual implication could be nothing less than the death of the Christian faith. By undermining biblical creation, the theory of evolution also changed the course of philosophy, science and culture

Charles Darwin was well aware of this fact. In one of his early notebooks he records the prophetic statement that his theory of evolution would affect the whole of metaphysics [the underlying principles of every field of study.]. About Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) Josiah Royce commented: “With the one exception of Newton’s Principia, no single book of empirical science has ever been of more importance to philosophy than this work of Darwin.”

Darwin called men away from the common presupposition of a decreed, mature creation of all things by a personal God; by replacing this presupposition with that of evolution, Darwin altered the entire direction and thrust of the next century’s thinking.

Historian Will Durant observed about Darwin,

It may well be that for posterity his name will stand as a turning point in the intellectual development of our western civilization... If he was right, men will have to date from 1859 the beginning of modern thought.

Cornelius Van Til writes,

The Bible requires men to believe that God exists apart from and above the world and that he by his plan controls whatever takes place in the world. Everything in the created universe therefore displays the fact that it is controlled by God, that it is what it is by virtue of the place it occupies in the plan of God. The objective evidence for the existence of God and of the comprehensive governance of the world by God is therefore so plain that he who runs may read. Men cannot get away from this evidence. They see it round about them. They see it within them. Their own constitution so clearly evinces the facts of God’s creation of them and control over them that there is no man who can possibly escape observing it. If he is self-conscious at all he is also God-conscious. No matter how men may try they cannot hide from themselves the fact of their own createdness. Whether men engage in inductive study with respect to the facts of nature about them or engage in analysis of their own self-consciousness they are always face to face with God their maker.

It appears, then, that two religious positions stand over against each other: the religion of humanistic autonomy and the religion of biblical Christianity. Each accuses the other of idolatry. The Christian must see the situation clearly. The choice between evolution and creation is at base religious. Nothing less is at stake than the charge of worshipping the creature rather than the Creator. An answer to origins weighs idolatry in the balance. “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish... They are vanity, a work of delusion” (Jer. 10:11, 15).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Compound Interest

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparent trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

—C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Geography Incarnate

"To be a Mother is to be the sacrament—the effective symbol—of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by a long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the ex­tended sense that she remains our center of gravity through the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered, and have our wounds bound up and our noses wiped. She is geography incarnate, with her breasts and her womb, her relative immobility, and her hands reaching up to us the fruitfulness of the earth."

Robert Capon, Bed and Board, Plain Talk About Marriage

Monday, February 2, 2009

Discontent

It is natural for people to be discontent; it is as natural to man as weeds are to the soil. Thorns and thistles don’t need sowing or cultivating. Likewise, men don’t need to be taught how to complain. However, if you want wheat, you must plow and sow. If you are to have flowers, you must have a garden and a gardener. Contentment is one of the flowers of godliness. If we are to have it, it must be cultivated.

To not be content is to question the goodness of God. The first temptation in history was the temp­tation of discontentment.God withheld only one tree from Adam and Eve to test their obedience. Satan sowed the seeds of discontentment in Eve’s heart; discontentment with her possessions; discontentment with her position. Satan tried the same strategy with Jesus in the wilderness. He sought to make Jesus discontent with His lack of food (possessions). And he sought to make Jesus discontent with His position. In fact, Satan’s fall from heaven was apparently the result of his own discontentment with his position.

Cultivating a thankful heart—the self-conscious giving of thanks to God and those around us—paves the road of contentment. You already occupy a position far greater than you deserve; you are a child of God. You also have far more possessions than you deserve; you are an heir of eternal life. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” —1 Timothy 6:6-8

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Invisible Food

“God has received us, once for all, into his family, to hold us not only as servants but as sons. Thereafter, to fulfill the duties of a most excellent Father concerned for his offspring he undertakes also to nourish us throughout the course of our life. And not content with this alone, he has willed, by giving his pledge, to assure us of this continuing liberality. To this end, therefore, he has, through the hand of his only-begotten Son, given to his church another sacrament, that is, a spiritual banquet wherein Christ attests himself to be the life-giving bread, upon which our souls feed unto true and blessed immortality. . . .the signs are bread and wine, which represent for us the invisible food we receive from the flesh and blood of Christ. . . . Now Christ is the only food of our soul, and therefore our Heavenly Father invites us to Christ, that, refreshed by partaking of him, we may repeatedly gather strength until we shall have reached heavenly immortality.”

Then Jesus said to them: “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”. . . .“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:32-35, 51).


Calvin on the Lord’s Supper, Institutes, vol. 3, XVII, Sec. 1