Friday, September 04, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Bob Dylan’s Christmas album, entitled Christmas In the Heart, is to be released on October 13th. All of Bob Dylan’s American royalties on the album, “in perpetuity”, are to go to Feeding America, a charity which provides food to the needy. All of Dylan’s international royalties, in perpetuity, are to go to similar international charities.
More details at BobDylan.com, including this:
Bob Dylan commented, “It’s a tragedy that more than 35 million people in this country alone — 12 million of those children – often go to bed hungry and wake up each morning unsure of where their next meal is coming from. I join the good people of Feeding America in the hope that our efforts can bring some food security to people in need during this holiday season.”
Christmas In The Heart will be the 47th album from Bob Dylan, and follows his worldwide chart-topping Together Through Life, released earlier this year. Songs performed by Dylan on this new album include, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.”
Of course the phrase “Christmas in the heart” can’t help but bring to mind the words of the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ famous story, when he promises, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
And another famous quotation on the subject of Christmas with mention of the heart is that of George Matthew Adams, “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”
With Christ in my heart, I remain
Sunday, August 30, 2009
In chapter 1, section 9 speaking of the marks of the church, Calvin points out that the invisible church “becomes visible to our eyes” my the following means of grace. “Where we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists (cf. Ephesians 2:20). For his promise cannot fail, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20).”
Friday, August 28, 2009
So who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:33, 34). Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly (Col. 2:15). That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14, 15).
Now in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us (Rom. 8:37). So put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. And take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:11, 17).
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
10. The elect before their call. There is no 'seed of election'
"The elect are gathered into Christ's flock by a call not immediately at birth, and not all at the same time, but according as it pleases God to dispense his grace to them. But before they are gathered unto that supreme Shepherd, they wander scattered in the wilderness common to all; and they do not differ at all from others except that they are protected by God's especial mercy from rushing headlong into the final ruin of death. If you look upon them, you will see Adam's offspring, who savor of the common corruption of the mass. The fact that they are not carried to utter and even desperate impiety is not due to any innate goodness of theirs but because the eye of God watches over their safety and his hand is outstretched to them!" - The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.24.10
Sunday, July 26, 2009
His (Jesus’) own (first) coming meant that the seventh and last day, the great day of Yahweh, had dawned, and healing was the specific Word of God that He had come to accomplish on this day ... Thus He not only did not break the sabbath with this work but genuinely sanctified and kept it. He was free also, and particularly, to do good and not evil on the sabbath, i.e., to save life and not to destroy it (Mk. 3:4). - Barth, K., Church dogmatics, Volume V: Index, with Aids for the Preacher (p. 497).
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
“For to have faith is not to waver, to vary, to be borne up and down, to hesitate, to be held in suspense, to vacillate- finally, to despair! Rather, to have faith is to strengthen the mind with constant assurance and perfect confidence, to have a place to rest and plant your foot [cf. I Cor. 2:5; II Cor. 13:4].”
J. Calvin, The Institutes of The Christian Religion (3.13.4)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
A most obstinate misconception associated with the gospel of Jesus Christ is that the gospel is welcome in this world. The conviction endemic among church folk persists that, if problems of misapprehension and misrepresentation are overcome and the gospel can be heard in its own integrity, the gospel will be found attractive by people, become popular and even be a success of some sort.
This idea is curious and ironical because it is bluntly contradicted in Scripture and in the experience of the continuing biblical witness in history from the event of Pentecost unto the present moment. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, no one in His family and not a single one of his disciples accepted Him, believed His vocation or loved the gospel He bespoke and embodies.
Since the rubrics of success, power, or gain are impertinent to the gospel, the witness of the saints looks foolish where it is most exemplary.
(”Living with Defeat,” The Witness [May 1977], pp. 13-14.)
Sunday, May 03, 2009
The whole purpose and meaning of the mission of Jesus is to bring joy (John 15:11; 17:13). According to John 16:20f. this was also the purpose of the sorrow which would come with His death … As we are told in John 8:56, Abraham had already rejoiced to see the day of Jesus and he saw it and was glad … In the first instance, however, both in the Johannine passages and in Luke. 10:21, this joy is the joy of Jesus Himself, His rejoicing in the Holy Ghost. Men neither appropriated it to themselves nor produced it of themselves, but it came to them in and with the man Jesus. It was given them in Him and by Him. In the first instance it was present for them objectively - and obviously identical with the kingdom of God, which is joy as well as righteousness and peace (Rom. 14:17). It was this objective joy which could and should be reproduced in the joy which they too were permitted and commanded. In the presence of the man Jesus it was already actual for them and could not be resisted or destroyed by anything or anyone, John 16.22.
Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics, Volume V: Index, with Aids for the Preacher. Translation of Die kirchliche Dogmatik.; Each pt. also has special t.p.; Includes indexes. (401). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In short, the only reason given in Scripture that the Son of God willed to take our flesh, and accepted this commandment from the Father, is that he would be a sacrifice to appease the Father on our behalf. "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer . . . and that repentance . . . should be preached in his name." [Luke 24:46-47.] "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life for my sheep. … This commandment he gave me." [John 10:17, 15, 18 p.] "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up." [John 3:14.] Another passage: " 'Father, save me from this hour.' … But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy Son" [John 12:27-28, conflated with v. 23]. Here he clearly indicates why he assumed flesh: that he might become a sacrifice and expiation to abolish our sins. – Calvin’s Institutes 2.12.4
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Today is the Octave Day of Easter, sometimes known as Low Sunday (and also known historically as St. Thomas Sunday and Quasimodo Sunday). Simply, it is the Sunday after Easter Sunday. Since 1970 Low Sunday has been officially known as the Second Sunday of Easter in the Catholic Church. Also, octave refers to an eight-day feast or the eighth day following that feast, sometimes referred to as the "Octave Day". And among Eastern Christians this day is known as Thomas Sunday.
The name Quasimodo came from the Latin text of the traditional Introit for this day, which begins "Quasi modo geniti infantes..." ("As newborn babes...", from the First Epistle of Peter ( 1 Peter 2:2). Literally, the Latin, quasi modo means "as recently” or "almost like". Which, of course, reminds me of the sad character in Victor Hugo’s,The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo (almost like…).
Quasimodo was born with several rather ugly physical deformities. Among the more obvious was a large wart that covered hi s left eye and a severely hunched back. He is found abandoned in Notre Dame (on the foundlings' bed, where orphans and unwanted children are left to public charity) on a Quasimodo Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, by the archdeacon Claude Frollo, who adopts the baby, names him after the day the baby was found, and brings him up to be the bell-ringer of the cathedral.
A small sculpture of Quasimodo can be found on Notre Dame, on the exterior of the north transept along the Rue de Cloître Notre Dame.
Note: The photo is of actor Charles Loughton as Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
To be Christians under the law of grace does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law, but to be engrafted in Christ, by whose grace we are free of the curse of the law, and by whose Spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts [Jeremiah 31:33]. - The Institutes of The Christian Religion (2.8.57)
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Let the ministers of churches faithfully attend to the ministry of the Word, not adulterating the teaching of salvation [cf. 2 Cor. 2:17], but delivering it pure and undefiled to God's people. And let them instruct the people not only through teaching, but also through example of life. In short, let them exercise authority as good shepherds over their sheep [cf. 1 Tim. 3:1ff; 2 Tim. 2:1ff; 2 Tim. 4:1 ff; Titus 1:6 ff.; 1 Peter 5:1ff]. Let the people in their turn receive them as messengers and apostles of God, render to them that honor of which the highest Master has deemed them worthy, and give them those things necessary for their livelihood [cf. Matt. 10:10ff.; Rom. 10:15 and 15:15ff.; 1 Cor. 9:1ff; Gal. 6:6; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17-18].
Section: 2.8.46 of “The Institutes of The Christian Religion”
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Many men do not believe. Many men hate the Cross because it means a salvation not of their own choosing or making, but rather of God’s grace and his mercy. Men hate the cross because it means a salvation which is unearned, undeserved, unmerited. Men would much prefer God to punish them than to forgive them because that would mean that God is dependent upon men and needed their obedience to be their God. Then God would be in fact no different from an idol of race, nation, family, or whatever, and a man would feel justified either by his obedience to the idol or by the punishment of his disobedience.
(”The Scandal of Palm Sunday,” Free in Obedience [Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2006], p. 33.)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On the day when nearly everyone is a little bit Irish, I was reminded of a grand work of art that Irish monks laboring in isolation on a tiny island just west of Scotland began work on around the year 750. For more than a century, monks on the island had been laboring faithfully to copy and preserve classical and biblical texts into what now is known as the Book of Kells
Perhaps the greatest illustrated version of the Gospels ever made, it only survived by an act of God. Sometime in the 9th century (after Vikings dropped by unannounced yet again), cautious monks moved the Book of Kells from its island home to the Abbey of Kells in eastern Ireland. Documents show the abbey was plundered several times before 1006, when thieves finally got their hands on the book, stripped it of its bejeweled golden cover, and flung it into a bog.
Considering that the volume spent a few months buried there before being rescued, it's in remarkably good shape. Today, the book is at Trinity College in Dublin, which has been its steward since 1660.
The above illustration depicts the authors of the four Gospels: Matthew as a man, Mark as a lion, Luke as an ox (or calf), and John as an eagle.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion
Diagoras of Melos
Often referred to as the "first atheist", Diagoras was a poet and sophist who openly spoke out against religion in ancient Greece and was forced to flee Athens for doing so. Unfortunately, little record of what he thought survives although we know that he publicly questioned the Eleusinian Mysteries, an elaborate series of ceremonies.
Einstein was regularly asked if he thought there was a god. In developing the theory of relativity, he realized there must have been a beginning to the universe. The question he struggled with was what came before the beginning? He concluded: "I do not believe in a personal God. If something is in me which can be called religion, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
A fearsome critic of organized religion, Twain wrote many of the sound bites atheists repeat today, such as: "If Christ were here, there is one thing he would not be: a Christian." Born in 1835, a year Halley's comet was seen, he ironically predicted "the Almighty" would take him next time the comet passed near Earth. He died in 1910, two weeks after the comet was spotted once more.
"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Psalm 53.1).
Thursday, February 26, 2009
After listening to this song you may have a strong Holy Spirit inkling that you’ll see him again over yonder! The Spirit bears witness brother Cash (Romans 8.16).
Listen to this song and watch the screen as it unfolds a powerful pictographic album of Johnny’s life!
Johnny Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 - September 12, 2003)
Friday, February 20, 2009
Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96.2, 3)
The heart and soul of the Christian gospel is a Person, not a church or a particular theology. To evangelize is to make known the good news of Jesus Christ - who He is and what He did! Jesus Christ came to this fallen world, died a sinless death, and was raised from the grave according to the Scriptures. And, as Lord of the heaven and earth, He now provides forgiveness of sins and the indwelling gift of His Holy Spirit to all who repent and believe.
Today, however, many false teachers claim that God speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Several years ago, I was invited to our local High School to defend the uniqueness of Christianity in a religiously pluralistic society. There was another pastor who presented a view that compromised the Gospel. He maintained that there are many ways to god. You know the line. I asked the class to slowly read John 14.6 and tell me what it says with reference to coming to the Father. Unanimously, they saw that the text was clear; Jesus was the only way. The point is, those who believe that there are many ways to God neither believe the Scripture nor consider a personal faith in the Person and work of Christ to be essential. They maintain that Jesus merely represents one way to god. Christians must reject such speculation as heretical! There is no other way to the Father but through Jesus Christ (John 14.6).
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Lawrence Osborne has an intriguing report from the streets of Beirut:
Three of our "scoop" brigade--Jonathan Foreman, Michael Totten and Christopher Hitchens--got involved in a street brawl with some thugs of a Syria-loving skinhead party called the SSNP after Hitchens rather gallantly insulted their swastika flag. On our way to a meeting with Minister of State Nassib Lahoud, Hitchens showed me the gashed knuckles and bruises suffered during the punch up. The attackers had apparently come out of nowhere on posh Hamra Street, where they had gone to buy shoes. "I was on the ground," Hitchens said, "and getting it in the head." It was a miracle they didn't pull Kalashnikovs.
Hitchens is author of the book "God Is Not Great." If Osborne's account is accurate, God intervened to save the hide (though presumably not the soul) of a professional atheist. The Lord does work in mysterious ways. Maybe he just figures there's no such thing as bad publicity.
WSJ: Best of the Web Today - February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The initiative against despair!
Rise let us be going (Matthew 26:46).
The disciples went to sleep when they should have kept awake, and when they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say—‘It is all up now, it is no use trying any more.’ If we imagine that this kind of despair is exceptional, we are mistaken, it is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing, then we are apt to sink in despair, and Jesus Christ comes and says—‘Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost for ever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.’ Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.
There are experiences like this in each of our lives. We are in despair, the despair that comes from actualities, and we cannot lift ourselves out of it. The disciples in this instance had done a downright unforgivable thing; they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus, but He came with a spiritual initiative against their despair and said—‘Arise and do the next thing.’ If we are inspired of God, what is the next thing? To trust Him absolutely and to pray on the ground of His Redemption.
Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.
Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (February 18). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.
…nothing takes place by chance (1.16.4).
…it is certain that not one drop of rain falls without God's sure command (1.16.5).
…God's will is the highest and first cause of all things because nothing happens except from his command or permission (1.16.7).
…God by the bridle of his providence turns every event whatever way he wills (1.16.9).
Reading Section: 1.16.4-9 of “The Institutes of The Christian Religion”, Westminster, John Knox, McNeill / Battles translation
Technorati Tags: Calvin,Providence,Theology,Institues
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Today is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, and evolutionists are celebrating worldwide that they are nothing more than bags of meat and bone with electricity running through them. “Praise Darwin from whom all matter flows!,” their doxology goes. The religious character of Darwin is evident in the way those from the Freedom From Religion Foundation are commemorating his birth. Their billboards look like stained glass windows! Soon we’ll be seeing signs pointing us to First Church of Charles Darwin. Oh, wait, it’s the local public schools.
"The devil your enemy goes about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour; resist him, be firm in your faith" [I Peter 5:8-9 p.], and the like. Paul admits that he was not free from this sort of strife when he writes that, as a remedy to tame his pride, he was given an angel of Satan to humble him [II Cor. 12:7]. Therefore this exercise is common to all the children of God. But because that promise to crush Satan's head [Gen. 3:15] pertains to Christ and all his members in common, I deny that believers can ever be conquered or overwhelmed by him. Often, indeed, are they distressed, but not so deprived of life as not to recover; they fall under violent blows, but afterward they are raised up; they are wounded, but not fatally; in short, they so toil throughout life that at the last they obtain the victory.
God does not allow Satan to rule over the souls of believers, but gives over only the impious and unbelievers, whom he deigns not to regard as members of his own flock, to be governed by him. For the devil is said to occupy this world unchallenged until he is cast out by Christ [cf. Luke 11:21]. Likewise, he is said to blind all those who do not believe in the gospel [II Cor. 4:4]. Again, to carry out his "work in the sons of disobedience" [Eph. 2:2], and rightly, for all the impious are vessels of wrath. Hence, to whom would they be subjected but to the minister of divine vengeance? Finally, they are said to be of their father the devil [John 8:44]; for, as believers are recognized as the children of God because they bear his image, so are those rightly recognized to be the children of Satan from his image, into which they have degenerated [I John 3:8-10].
Reading Section: 1.14.18 of “The Institutes of The Christian Religion”, Westminster, John Knox, McNeill / Battles translation
PS. If you are interested in a reading schedule of the “Institutes” click on Calvin’s picture!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
“Yet, since the devil was created by God, let us remember that this malice, which we attribute to his nature, came not from his creation but from his perversion” (1.14.16).
“Therefore, lest we ourselves linger over superfluous matters, let us be content with this brief summary of the nature of devils: they were when first created angels of God, but by degeneration they ruined themselves, and became the instruments of ruin for others. Because this is profitable to know, it is plainly taught in Peter and Jude. God did not spare those angels who sinned [II Peter 2:4] and kept not their original nature, but left their abode [Jude 6]. And Paul, in speaking of the "elect angels" [I Tim. 5:21], is no doubt tacitly contrasting them with the reprobate angels” (1.14.16).
“As for the discord and strife that we say exists between Satan and God, we ought to accept as a fixed certainty the fact that he can do nothing unless God wills and assents to it” (1.14.17).
“For inasmuch as the devil is by nature wicked, he is not at all inclined to obedience to the divine will, but utterly intent upon contumacy and rebellion. From himself and his own wickedness, therefore, arises his passionate and deliberate opposition to God. By this wickedness he is urged on to attempt courses of action which he believes to be most hostile to God. But because with the bridle of his power God holds him bound and restrained, he carries out only those things which have been divinely permitted to him; and so he obeys his Creator, whether he will or not, because he is compelled to yield him service wherever God impels him” (1.14.17).
Reading Section: 1.14.14-17 of “The Institutes of The Christian Religion”, Westminster, John Knox, McNeill / Battles translation
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
Groundhog Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. Although that may sound like bad news to most, we Minnesotans are rejoicing. In this AP Photo taken by Carolyn Kaster, Ben Hughes, handler of the weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, holds Phil in the air after removing him from his stump at Gobbler's Knob on Groundhog Day, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009, in Punxsutawney, Pa.
BTW: More information on Groundhog Day can be found here.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
By MOLLY WORTHEN
The Seattle minister Mark Driscoll is out to transform American evangelicalism with his macho conception of Christ and neo-Calvinist belief in the total depravity of man.
enjoy the read,