Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Trees mostly bereft of leaves presided over their slain children, today still without a waft of chilling air to stir their brittle stems. Dun grass furled its verdant banners, blades shriveled to hide in the dust until the birth of spring. A front might have been gusting through the reaches of heaven, but stalled in its mission, the blown dunes of cloud hung where its power left them, each its own statement on the threadbare blue sky. Light captured from tangent rays was diverted between the layers, promising the pink of dawn then the subtle gold of dusk, finally covering the whole scene in a vague grey shadow.
Not cheerful or motivating; as George MacDonald would say, not pretty, but beautiful. Afraid to release the grandeur of its parent mountains, the dwindling hills on which my house is set would rather be slowly consumed by the tedium of the plains, creeping like the slow tide towards our door. I would sit in the yard, sit and pray, undistracted by irrepressible beauty, for the day is not for walking or doing. Its lure would capture me.
What cloaks itself in a nature like this? Quest-calling by its disguise, perhaps the founded waiting is the source of its captivation: in-between-ness, as though retreating to no reality at all in complacent anticipation of crisis and glory. Perception demands I see that the courage and triumph is born of the staid prudence of these hours. Seas do not withstand tempests without concealing beneath, their unheeded depths.
JRR Tolkien penned two verses suited by this day, this mood, this verity: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken; a light from the shadows shall spring. Renewed shall be blade that was broken; the crownless again shall be king.” Perhaps a day like this speaks of an exiled king. Tolkien asked of his poem, what king? George MacDonald took a twin scene from the northwest coast of Scotland and asked, “What chief?” What epic story do the silent rocks evoke?
If I had joined the tale of the day, would I have glimpsed as the sun rose, the carven head of the fallen king coroneted by prophetic gold-flowered vines, the piercing promise of hope before a bleak pilgrimage?
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
In fact, my life has been rather lacking in following the history of my faith. Personally, my faith history is being raised in church and at home taught about how Jesus died for my sins. I was saved at age 6 by my personal, private choice, not by “walking an aisle” or making a profession. I wasn’t baptized until fifth grade, and even then didn’t completely understand. Then again, I didn’t completely understand all the theological positions to choose from when I was saved, but from my present theological perspective, God called me, by His grace I responded, and His Spirit has been indwelling me since, revealing more and more of the truth of what He did for me. This might be called sanctification, which has to start somewhere, and just like salvation, is a grace-governed process.
Sorry for the sidetrack; my testimony is important to me. Sharing it is important, too. I’m practicing.
Today is my first excursion into celebrating Reformation Day. I have been reading about the Reformation all morning, and wish to draw a comparison between the two historical interpretations of October 31.
Are Indulgences Tricks or Treats?
You may have heard on TV like I have that when a Catholic goes to confession for their sins, sometimes the priest gives them an assignment, like praying the rosary three times, or five “hail Mary’s”. This concept is apparently very old, based on the belief that to be made right with God and the congregation you have to show some proof of repentance beyond confession. Over the centuries this developed into a formal practice. A person who sinned could sometimes obtain an indulgence, which relieved him from earthly punishment (the need to perform “satisfactions” like those described above). They were usually purchased.
Johann Tetzel (1465-1519)
At the time of Martin Luther, the Pope wanted to hire Michelangelo and others to renovate St. Peter’s Church. To pay for this artistic upgrade, he decided to make a push for selling indulgences (like promoting war bonds). He chose a man, Johann Tetzel, who was a gifted and persuasive speaker, to go city to city selling indulgences. The claims Tetzel made about indulgences began to get extreme. Buy one for yourself. It will get you out of punishment for all sins past, present, and future. Buy one as a get out of purgatory free card. Or buy one for a relative to get them out of purgatory.
The indulgences were tricks played on superstitious, papacy-worshiping people. Tetzel went city to city much like children tonight will go door to door. He offered a trick and called it a merciful treat. The children will ask for a gift, be it a trick or treat.
Attractions: Tricks or Treats?
Evangelical churches across the country will provide a Halloween alternative tonight, calling it a Fall Fair, a Harvest Festival, or a safe place to trick or treat. Some will take the opportunity to share the gospel. In this way they are attracting the community to their churches. Pope Leo’s focus was similar (even if his motives were different): he wanted to make St. Peter’s beautiful so it would attract the world.
History: Trick or Treat?
When I went to look up books about the Protestant Reformation at my library, I could choose from two options: biographies of Martin Luther or a few books in the religious section of the Dewey Decimal System (anyone know who invented that and what he believed?). I would have put them in the history section, since the hundred years of heavy reformation in the Western world was a huge historical event, driving the rise and fall of kingdoms and the colonizing of America. You do not understand the history of European politics or the history of the United States, let alone our laws and culture, without understanding the Reformation.
Likewise Halloween is a little-understood historical day. Its origins are Celtic Paganism. See the Wikipedia article. This is not a cute time for children to have fun. All of it is about paganism, whether Catholic-tainted “All Souls’” or “All Saints Day” or purely pagan. The history of both of these topics is being suppressed.
The Gospel: Trick or Treat?
Finally, the Church should not have to Trick people before Treating them to the gospel. You do not need to bribe them with freedom from community-enforced punishment for their sins, or with beautiful buildings, candy and safe alternatives to Halloween. We need to be compassionately caring for the poor, loving our neighbors, etc. - but to do that as the door to share the gospel has two problems.
- It is a bait and switch. We tell the poor we want to take care of them, and then when they are captive audiences or grateful enough to politely listen, we share some version of “good news” about how Jesus loves them.
- We give the impression that the only reason we did the good deeds was to get people to listen to us, like the marketers who will give you a free trip to the mountains or a free knife if you just listen to their sales’ presentation.
Ephesians 1:3-7, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;"
The gospel is the grace of God. It is the most needed and priceless gift available. If we really believed that salvation is what Ephesians calls it, we would determine with Paul to know only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
To God be all glory.
Here is what I learned this morning:
- Martin Luther fired up the reformation. He was mainly mad about abuses in the Catholic church, especially concerning indulgences. He affirmed salvation by faith alone, and sola Scriptura. However, Luther was not anti-Catholic, and retained many of the worship forms rejected by mainstream protestantism today.
- John Calvin is remarkably human. Some present day denominations might consider this heresy, but I think I can see where he was coming from. Though I thought presbyterians were very Calvinist, the presbyterian style of church was actually begun by someone else:
- John Knox, who established the Auld Kirk, Church of Scotland. I have been in a church run essentially on his model. The impact he had on Scotland, which I have always admired for their theology and conservatism, is huge.
- Anabaptists were the 2-time baptizers not because they thought you had to be baptized twice, but because they didn't count the infant baptism almost everyone had experienced. They varied on other beliefs, but were traditionally more withdrawn from "outsiders", politics, and wars.
This last thing I learned so far is big. Quakers are strikingly reminiscent of the Emergent church movement today. From Idiot's Guide to the Reformation & Protestantism: "The foundational belief of the Quakers is that God gives the individual divine revelation. Each and every person may receive the word of God internally, and each should endeavor to receive that word and heed it... The Quakers rejected the formal creeds and regarded each worshiper of God as a vessel of divine revelation." Listen to a debate between, we'll say he's probably closest to a Calvinist, and an Emergent leader done by Way of the Master Radio.
I checked this book out from the library to reference for another post I will hopefully publish today. Stay tuned.
To God be all glory.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Here is where I the discernment alarms began flashing. The next several looks at this book will deal with subjects in which I was in clear opposition to the authors.
What happened to works being like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)? What about abiding in the vine? No! Good works don’t please Jesus when they’re not for Him. Motives matter. How did He reward the Pharisees, experts at good works who rejected his salvation? He rebuked them, strongly and loudly. He didn’t stand at their side and tell His disciples “These men are doing good work here; help them out.”
Matthew 3:7-8, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:"
Romans 4:4, "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt."
Galatians 3:10, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
Ephesians 2:3, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
To God be all glory.
How Great is Our God
Great Is the Lord
Lord We Want to Lift Your Name on High
are only the few that have been running through my head the past couple hours.
I had an opportunity to earn $50 for taking a survey about Christian radio. My conscience wouldn’t let me return the call because I hardly ever listen to Christian radio anymore. Ravi Zacharias is good. Occasionally I’ll hit a song with good lyrics, or that is old enough that I remember it from the 90’s when contemporary Christian music was bearable. Mostly the music is noise, screams, violence-inspiring beats, or bad theology. Then we adopt them into our churches for worship songs, but that’s another post.
A dream radio station would play thoughtful, accurately biblical songs whose lyrics I can hear, and with which after a few hearings I can sing along. There would be a focus on worship songs: not “I love you, Jesus,” but “He was wounded for our transgressions.”
- This category praises the character of God,
- Praises His intervention in the world, and
- Thanks Him for His personal provision for me.
The other types of songs I would allow is the testimony kind (just like #3 above, but addressed to people, not to God) and prayer-songs (of confession, need, desires, excitement - like the Psalms). All should be in accordance with sound doctrine.
To tell the truth I can hardly find albums like this to buy. Even the collections of hymns by today’s artists tend to be impossible to join. The artists want to present their version on the hymn, making it special. But I do own a series of CD’s that have choirs or artists just singing the hymns. My favorite is What Wondrous Love is This, featuring Joni Eareckson Tada (she’s the singer I recognize).
If you, like me, are looking for simple hymns to remind you through your day of the greatness of the God we serve, get this collection.
To God be all glory.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Responsibility is not some objective standard. I think we should view responsibility as to something or someone. In the instance of abstinence, we are responsible to God to abide by His instructions, trust His providence, embrace His gifts, and thus receive His blessings.
What makes me more angry than the confused, hormonal, and lied-to women who receive abortions are the complacent, indifferent Christians who equally devalue new life by so-called prevention. A good friend did a research paper in college on “the pill,” and was horrified to learn that the medication embraced by self-proclaimed responsible Christian wives is an abortificient. Translation: even in the birth control doses, the pill can cause abortions of not-yet implanted embryos. The should-be parents never know unless they’re under invasive medical screening. All they know is that - “what a relief” - they aren’t pregnant. What shocked my friend even more is that when she informed the Christian population, who had to be ignorant to keep using the pill, surely; she found that the friends had heard of the claim that the pill is an abortificient. To so many Christians who would love to see Roe v. Wade overturned, the facts about their chemical birth control were irrelevant.
I’m a sheltered homeschool Christian girl who doesn’t really need to decide for herself on these issues yet. First I was pro-life. Then I was anti-abortion. Then I was anti-”the pill.” Now I’m anti-birth control. I’m pro-children, would love to have lots of children, and will be serving in the church nursery tomorrow (despite the fact that I don’t believe in Church nurseries).
To God be all glory.
I was looking at the signs the pro-lifers had up. Some make no sense, strange verses that don’t have much to do with babies or life or salvation. Others are simple and obvious, like “Abortion kills.” Popular are bloody photographs of what an aborted baby looks like, how old it was, how big, etc. When the scared, confused, selfish, or arrogant girls drive in, I can’t imagine how they go through with their abortion facing the evidence in front of them. My bet is that while doctors tend to have posters and pamphlets and full-disclosure of the procedures in other fields, the Planned Parenthood walls were not postered with happy photographs of beheaded infants, though the volunteers who escort women inside cheerfully pretend there is a party inside.
Even though I see the potential impact of these signs and accompanying rhetoric, I much prefer the other signs. These are photos of live babies, in the womb or already birthed. If I had a baby, I’d bring it to the clinic to protest. The pleas accompanying these signs are, “Please, mom, don’t kill your baby! Come talk to us. Any help you need, we’ll get it for you for free. Is it a boy or a girl they’re going to kill today?”
I don’t know where the propaganda comes from, but somehow the mothers and abortionists think that we stand shivering in the cold, early Saturday mornings for greedy reasons of our own. The staff yell back at the protesters trying to intercede for helpless, innocent infants, “You hypocrites! Judge not.” We’re called idiots, stupid, and unfeeling.
But the people out there care. Almost every family I know that protests also supports crisis pregnancy centers and adoption. Most have adopted. If a baby is saved, the mother is not abandoned. She is mentored, and cared for, and given options. Some of the women protesting have experienced the life-altering impact of abortions by having one themselves. Now they know. They’ve repented. Many have experienced Jesus’ forgiveness and peace. And they want to help the girls today to find that peace, as well.
Today was the first day I went without close friends or family. When I sit there I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m emotionless. I know the facts, and they don’t add up to what I see before me, and maybe the lack of comprehension in my soul overwhelms me and shuts down my feelings. The first time I went, I was worried that I would do something rash, impulsive, drastic, physical, and illegal. But I didn’t, and still don’t have very strong urges to do so. I’m safe, then, going to meet strangers. Being there on my own moved several of the grandmotherly women to compassion for me, I guess. They gave me hugs. I don’t usually hug strangers, but I felt their love, their comaraderie.
Look. I’m rambling about my experience, and rarely conclude well. A blog is one endless conversation; shouldn’t it just transition into the next post? But I do want to say: do something. Support a crisis pregnancy center. Consider adoption. Protest. Fund protests. Write your state and federal congressmen. Get your church involved. Give a baby a hug.
To God be all glory.
1. Planned Parenthood was founded to deliver abortions to the poor and irresponsible in order to annihilate them in a few generations. Instead the availability of abortions at low cost subsidized the people groups (poor and irresponsible), increasing their numbers as all subsidies do.
2. Since Planned Parenthood sells abortions for such low costs, and is losing money on them, without making money in other areas or from donations (including government ones), they would not be able to provide abortions at those costs.
3. Kansas has reason to believe Planned Parenthood often and variously breaks the law. Other states and investigative agencies have evidence of illegal activity by Planned Parenthood across the country.
4. The Constitution does not permit federal tax or tariff $ to go to any kind of health care/research/prevention. It is supposed to support the government.
5. Regardless, the US congress annually criminally allots millions of dollars to the support of this allegedly criminal institution.
6. Then the US government, which has subsidized irresponsibility and devaluation of human life and reproduction and sex, allots more money to supposedly rehabilitate the victims of their subsidies: poor, emotionally traumatized, physically traumatized, sexually abused, financially irresponsible, sexually irresponsible, STD-infected, and murderers (taught to devalue human life by the federal example).
Even without going into the moral argument, which I fully support, there is no pragmatic or legal excuse for our tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood.
To God be all glory.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Psalms 70:4-5, "Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying."
2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself."
Acts 23:11, "And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer..."
Daniel 10:8-11, "Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling."
Revelation 1:17-18, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;"
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
1 Corinthians 1:25, "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
Ezekiel 16:30, "How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD,"
Revelation 2:5, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works;"
Psalms 22:27, "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee."
Lamentations 3:22-24, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."
Isaiah 40:28-29, "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
Jeremiah 10:10, "But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king:"
Revelation 4:8, "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 19:6, "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
To God be all glory.
I had the nicest day. First thing I love about Wordpress is how easy adding del.icio.us is. I do have a column over at my shadow blog of the things I've been reading online. I may eventually get ambitious and add the list here, too.
The second thing I am just jumping up and down about is "tag surfer" where I can read recent posts with topics similar to my recent posts. The main problem is that I have been tagging my posts extensively, and using fairly common words like: media and politics which don't mean the same to every blogger as they do to me.
In fairness to Blogger, I must praise their free HTML access, which Wordpress doesn't have. The theme I selected is beautiful, but the sidebar is too narrow; a dropdown list for archives or something goes off the page. Otherwise, I'm enjoying the features.
To God be all glory.
As has become an annual event, I want at least a tenth of the items in the catalog. Those who say they want everything have got to be kidding. Every sword, doll, CD, book? Even ones they already own? Never mind. Because I don't even have the $1,000 I want to spend on the tenth.
Two exciting things to point out.
- There is a creationist viewpoint book on Egyptology. Having just purchased a membership to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which has a little mummy display, I'm fascinated. What do the hieroglyphics on the coffins say? Who were the mummies, and how can so many intelligent, important people have died without trusting in God for their salvation? What's with all the paganism? Dolls serve you in the afterlife? Come on. Not to mention the typically evolutionary timelines refuted in this book. Are you not fascinated with pyramids? We just watched the Prince of Egypt again in our house today. Isn't Egypt captivating?
- Behemoth.com I have no idea what it is, and I think Vision Forum planned it that way. You can go there, but all it says is the same as the catalog: Coming Soon.
To God be all glory.
Carolyn at SoloFemininity blogged about this, too, showing Satellite images from Monday. This is serious. People and churches need our prayers. Pray Christian outreach would impact the affected (rich or poor) with the gospel of Jesus.
Dr. Paleo has an thorough description of conditions for someone near the fires but not directly threatened.
To God be all glory.
~ Francis Schaeffer, “Walking through the Mud” No Little People
I find this to be a universal diagnosis of so many different types of destructive people. Can you think of individuals in history of whom this is true?
Is there anyone you know now who could identify with any stages of this quote: idealists, screamers, inhuman, despairing?
How can you use your answers to the above two questions to share the hope of Jesus who saves and redeems, the Bible which answers, and the God who is there with the acquaintance? Can you show them where their path is leading?
To God be all glory.
Today I’m reading No Little People, a collection of essays by Francis Schaeffer. The same thoughts are coming to mind. Earlier this week I read the essay “God’s Work God’s Way.” To me the points exactly contained evangelical Christianity. We want to do God’s work, but instead of looking for biblical directions, we take our corporation-based programs and modify them for church. Or we adopt the evolutionary view of education that is used in the public schools and implement it in our discipleship. We see what is effective for the entertainment industry and we make our “services” more attractive.
Last night I was listening to a sermon entitled, “My People Perish,” by R.C. Sproul, Jr. He argues against adopting the world’s goals. We don’t raise up children to be missionaries so the kingdom will increase. We raise up children to increase the kingdom. I think he’s saying first things first. Our goal is not to take back Harvard or Hollywood, but to serve Jesus Christ and bring Him glory.
A friend was telling me about how God is teaching her about money. She’s being sanctified a little bit at a time. At this point she’s trying to take God’s perspective that money is not the object. He embraced sacrifice, and calls us to, as well. The question is not, “Can I afford that?” or “Is it in my budget?” or even, “Have I set aside money for God first?” The question is does God’s Spirit call your members to hand over money for more clothes, for Pizza Hut pizza, for a coffee or a soda, for a cd, for that concert?
If our lives are going to be radically faith-led, shining brightly in a world of darkness, we have to be different. We can’t put a Christian icing to a worldly practice.
All this to say that this week conditioned me to pull the above applications from their respective situations. I felt the force of No Little People to be sanctification and faith (not sight) because of where I am and how I read. I’m willing to heed every word when I can. It may surprise you, but as a writer I know that most of the time the words we use are not just fillers in between bold-faced headings. We have something to say.
As evidence, I turned to the contents page of No Little People to find a note scribbled there over twenty years ago, I’d think, when my parents were in college. I think it was Mom who wrote “good – about waiting for God’s timing” next to the "God’s Work God’s Way" chapter. She had a very different perspective on the author’s intended application.
Even when interpretation is not subjective, for the force of a book to fall on someone, they have to be thoughtfully reading the words. In a way they must be interacting with the text.
This reminds me of a revelation I had this month. I watched a film production of Cyrano De Bergerac. I could imagine the actors delighting to speak the lines and play the parts. There were twice as many characters as listed in the play, because I was allowed by the staged medium to consider the fictional players in the story as well as the motivations and feelings of the actors portraying them, and how they all interacted. Later I was delighting in Wives and Daughters, Pride and Prejudice, and other films so well done that you are sure the actors are the literary heroes and heroines. But really they are not. In fact they are only able to give in their performance one interpretation of what the author was originally saying. But I can pause these movies and talk for five minutes a frame about what is being said in an expression or a gesture or a muttered comment. Do books have such depth? Imagine approaching a book so engaged that on every page you subconsciously ask the text and yourself: If I were Mr. Darcy (for example), what would I be thinking and feeling? Why did I come? Why do I speak? Why don’t I speak? What do I see?
Perhaps long ago when books were read aloud for entertainment and individuals prided themselves at their skill in doing so, the reader was forced to ask those questions, and so instantly come to a more vivid comprehension of the story.
Thus I have every intention to read a classic piece of literature in that way. I will keep you informed on how it is going.
To God be all glory.
“But a Christian is not supposed to need an escape – alcohol, drugs, constant noise and entertainment or whatever… In fact, we should want to face reality: the glory of the world God has created and the wonder of being human – yes, and even the awful reality of the Fall and the tragedy of marred men and women, even our own flawed character. We are not to be people of escape.” – Francis Schaeffer
Notice how all those escapes are lumped together. I don’t struggle with drugs or alcohol replacing my dependence on God or my focused pursuit of life in reality. But I do know the tug of “just put in a movie and forget about it,” or “Wake me when it’s all over.” Those reactions are wrong.
The mediums are not all wrong. Sleep is good. Alcohol when not abused is permissible. Movies and books can be stimulating.
Tolkien was accused of writing escapist fantasy. His cultic followers just wanted to immerse themselves in another world and forget about the problems of theirs. When I was younger, already an avid Tolkien fan as evidenced by my defensiveness, I argued to myself that life was bad, and to live at all we need to be able to escape sometimes. The argument isn’t all bad. Our chosen medium may be. Jesus exemplified a balance between escape and pursuit. He got away, but not to a theater. Not to a wineskin. Not to gluttony. When He escaped He ran to His Father. He went away and prayed. I’m always foolishly surprised when I pray at how refreshing and satisfying it is.
I still read. I even read Lord of the Rings and other fantasies. What I discovered is that even as I made my point defending escapism, my hyper-active brain was not just escaping when I read. It was drawing comparisons. In my books I find encouragement. If Frodo and Sam endured Mordor, I can endure the flu. The sisterly affection in I Will Follow makes me yearn for close relationships with my family. I think of the fire curtain in Arena every time I ponder sin and repentance and the dilemma expressed in Romans 7. Molly teaches me to love selflessly and unconditionally. Fiona to wait for m’dearie as long as it takes. God’s and Generals says to trust God fearlessly. Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Finding Neverland, and Miss Potter push me towards beauty (by the sole point that withersoever thou pausest those movies, thou hast discovered a transporting, frame-worthy depiction of the sublime).
The solution to this paradox is the verse quoted at the beginning:
1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
To God be all glory.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Choose The Right
Who would (or should) Mike Huckabee choose as his vice-presidential running mate should Huckabee be nominated? Would he pick one of the big-name Republicans? One of the so-called "lower-tier" candidates? A member of the present administration? Another trusted advisor or friend?
- Huckabee has shown executive leadership. Though this involves thinking on his feet, and the ability to make decisions (without consulting his lawyers), a Christian view of leadership understands that a king is a servant, and that leadership is a team effort uniting the strengths of many. If I were him, I would want a vice president who is a proficient military strategist.
- If Mike Huckabee is going to win the Republican vote by being a principled, genuine conservative, I argue he wouldn't gain much by joining with the "top-tier" candidates he surpasses, whose records on the social issues are their proven weak points.
- Having gained popularity among conservatives, it would not benefit this former governor to adopt one of the ultra- conservative fellow candidates who did not win the vote themselves by virtue of being inflamatory and single-issue.
- With enough groundswell support garnered by oratory and good ideas to receive the Republican nomination, he won't necessarily need a big name tied to his to win the presidency.
- If anyone is interested in my suggestions, I would like to highlight former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum or Matt Chancey. I'm consulting my more militarily-minded brothers for a savvy international affairs and defense candidate, but they are unhelpful. Do you have suggestions?
- Men with experience in defense. Maybe a former general or other military officer?
- Men with comprehensive grasp on Israel, the Middle East including Iraq,
Iran, nuclear warfare, Russia, Bible prophecy, China, North Korea, and
- Thinkers, planners, and do-ers.
- Men with money and fame. (It helps when you're campaigning to have
somewhere to start and some means to go.)
- Men who are loyal, strong conservatives.
I'm not the only one wondering, or putting forward my nominations. Edward Daley suggests names for the executive branch (including all the secretaries) like: Newt Gingrich, Elizabeth Dole, Dinesh D'Souza, and Mark Levin.
To God be all glory.
Monday, October 22, 2007
One thing I know I like is the snap-preview feature that happens when you move your mouse over a link. What do you like or dislike? Is there anything that drives you crazy about Blogger?
To God be all glory.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The key point, I believe, is when he says that social conservative issues are what bring passion to the voters, and what unites us. Think about people you know. Are they all united on the US military/foreign policy/Iraq issues? Are they all capitalists? Do any of them like welfare? College grants? Those are the economic and defense issues that the Republican powers that be what their candidates to run on, in order to attract undecided voters. Social issues like abortion and marriage are just too sensitive and divisive, they say. I argue that social issues have more passion involved, but there are probably as many who will not vote Republican because they are socialists or angry over Iraq as who would have voted against Republicans because of an anti-abortion stance.
In any case, let "we the people" decide, and stop moving the historically conservative party to the middle by choosing the candidate most like the liberals.
To God be all glory.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Since then I haven't heard from them, and I worried that they weren't going to church anywhere, and that they weren't growing in their faith. Before accusing me of pride or judgmentalism, I might as well confess sometimes I wondered the same things of myself.
Anyway, tonight I was delighted to reconnect with two of them at another college-age Bible study, and to learn that whatever we'd all been through, even though I wasn't "taking care of them," God was. That's nice to know.
In fact, it was so nice to know that I could barely keep my seat. My enthusiasm begged me to call someone, jump up and down, offer hugs, pray, and/or write smiley faces all over my journal. God is so good.
This has been my experience in reuniting with old friends. Typically they are still the same people I knew (no major personality or spirituality changes, though they may have college degrees and spouses now). Whatever God has brought to my mind to pray for them in the intervening time turns out to have been relevant. And they have usually made steps forward in their faith.
All this to say God's grace and power are so amazing. And I can't wait for the permanent reunion in Heaven. If I want to jump up and down now, how will I feel then?
To God be all glory.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Sometimes the world is too much with which to keep up, I know. If you are considering your vote for presidential elections, let me advise you to be up on world events. For example, did you know 102 people died in a terroist attack/assassination attempt in Pakistan today? Please vote for a president who will be not only willing, but also able to deal with the threats of Iran's attempts or attainment of nuclear weaponry.
And as Mr. Rosenberg himself admonishes, don't forget to pray. If these are the events in prophecy, they are associated both with divine judgment, divine protection, and divinely-instigated revival. Be ready to be a part. Share the gospel. Pray some more. Pray for our leaders to have wisdom.
To God be all glory.
The Harris Twins also have an interesting, mostly unrelated link/discussion about the Boundless series on Francis Schaeffer, whose books I am giving a first try since this summer (slow progress, heavy reading). The series is named for one of his books: A Christian Manifesto. Lest we fundamentalists be accused of focusing too much on theology and doctrine and too little on social justice and world involvement, let me point to Francis Schaeffer, who did something about the world around him.
To God be all glory.
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Bauchaum, Jr. is a simple look at disturbing trends across the board in religious communities, but particularly at evangelical Christianity. A Southern Baptist minister and itinerant speaker, the author focuses on Deuteronomy 6 as the textbook for a solution to losing our children and losing our culture. His plain common sense ideas (which are not his alone, but part of what even Voddie Baucham recognizes as a Spirit-induced revival) can sound revolutionary. Whenever asked by youth pastors or church attenders how to implement the truths on which Dr. Baucham speaks, he warns them it is a sure way to lose your job or make enemies. The status quo is ingrained, and most long-time church members will fight against change with a stubborn violence which compared to the rest of their zeal-lacking conduct, is startling.
However, the book is being written to change the world one family at a time. Despite my desire to wallpaper our church with the pages of the book (scattered favorite quotes being less scattered and more comprehensive), I do recognize that the policies are not easily forced, and that the best place to begin reform is always with myself.
Each chapter is about 20 easily readable pages long, without indulging repetition, the book is engaging in every paragraph with facts, visions, examples, and applications. Most obvious of the applications from Deuteronomy 6 is the admonition to practice regular father-led family worship (or mother if father is absent). This challenges Christian men in a way that contemporary church life has been unable to. It unites families and builds strong individual faith in children. And the practice goes hand in hand training even the youngest infants for the church model promoted in Family Driven Faith: family integrated church.
My family has always searched for a church that offered time for our entire family to worship together. We attend a church that is not family integrated, but that does allow us, with only one Sunday school hour and one service, to choose. The argument is made that young children cannot sit still, pay attention, or learn anything from “grown up” service. A look at our congregation a given Sunday will reveal this to be false. Kids who have been kept in church (maybe only half of the service at first, working into longer) and expected to pay attention are taking notes and able to engage in conversation about the theology and application of the sermon. They know the worship songs and sing along. Often found sitting next to their parents, they are not disruptive. Compare these to the youth who, having been farmed away to children’s church their whole lives, and entertained at youth group with louder, more emotionally-driven music, are unwilling to sing along during congregational praise, or to open their own Bibles and take notes during the service. Baucham recalls a time when his family accompanied him to a guest-preaching engagement at a church with three services in a row in which is 15 month old son sat obediently with his mother through the entire morning. His wife answered the astonished inquirers that her children were able to be well behaved in church because they practice at home through family worship.
Another topic to be frequently encountered in this book is the unrecognized idolatry as parents and families pursuing sports or academics (and coaching or tutoring in those areas, accompanied by time investments) over the discipleship of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When a father asked Voddie how he lost his son in college, Voddie interviewed the father and afterward pointed out that the father had been willing to work with his son to improve his baseball skills, pray to be in tournaments on Sundays (because you lose if you miss the cut on Saturday), attend all the games, etc. but not to personally invest in his son’s spiritual life. The father thought the youth pastor was taking care of that aspect of his son’s life. The hypocrisy is seen in that the father did not think the coach would take care of his son’s baseball. Priorities were modeled in the parents.
I know that the way we “do” church is broken. This blog has often been the platform on which I present what I am learning about the Bible’s vision for “living” church (see the Shaping of Things to Come and Changing Church series). Youth pastors are very often discouraged by awareness that most of what they do is futile, that kids are leaving the church after high school anyway. These leaders beg parents to be involved. The rest of the church needs to teach parents to be involved, and hold them accountable. Priorities practiced in a family-driven faith will, if consistently applied, have an impact on how a family worships with other families. Ultimately this book is not about church, though; it is a textbook for God-centered family life to which every Christian is called.
To God be all glory.
PS: I think Crystal alerted me to the existence of this book by her review.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I've found a way to know you're there and reading even when you sadly leave without commenting. Sitemeter. I've had a counter for a long time, but it barely told me how many visitors I had, because it counted every time I looked at the blog, and I don't just check my blog for vanity; it is a publishing check. Anyway, I saw Sitemeter on another blog and signed up, for free to get more detailed reports the kind Crystal always mentions when she asks us to de-lurk.
Now I know what she means, though. There are some of you in Europe, Australia, Florida, California, and Canada. And you are reading, which makes me happy. For a while I thought there was no one, and that all these posts were going unread. Please, though, if you think of anything while reading, post a comment, even if its in German. Actually, I have quite a few books on learning German within two steps of my computer, so whoever was visiting here from Germany, have no fear!
Don't forget the last few blog posts, that this blogger would love to have a dialogue with her readers. I can grandstand, but I would rather discuss.
To God be all glory.
I am very bad at in person saying to a stranger that they need to hear about Jesus, the only name under heaven by which we must be saved from sin that would without Him condemn us to eternal hell and a life without hope. An evangelist once said that to find out whether you should witness to a person, "Check and see if they're breathing." The different authorities who might disapprove should not deter me. Jesus said all authority is given to Him in Heaven and on Earth, Therefore Go.
And I think that if I loved all those lost enemies of God, I wouldn't stay silent when they pass me in the store or are sitting in my office. I would go out on purpose to preach the life-offering words to my neighbors. But apparently my heart, commanded to love, is failing its mission.
When I pray for a person on a regular basis, I have discovered that I become attached, because of the reflection and the investment, and getting a glimpse of God's heart for them. So I guess praying for the unsaved people I know and for the people groups I feel God wants me to "go" to, is not such an illogical idea.
- Pray for the unsaved.
- Start loving the unsaved.
- Meet the unsaved.
- Be bold to share the good news that Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead to offer them salvation and eternal life.
- Give God all the glory.
Sometimes I feel like Lady of Longbourn is a place where I can say anything because I never know if you're reading. Being transparent is easier when you aren't facing anyone. Then their reaction can't shock or disappoint you. The truth is, though, I don't blog to read myself write (like hear myself talk). I write because I have something to say... to you, and to anyone I can convince to listen. I blog to develop relationships of sorts, experiencing your responses to the ideas presented here.
Thank you to those who do respond, by commenting. Challenge to those who don't.
To God be all glory.
PS: I talk to myself all the time. Vaccuums and dryers drown sound really well.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
The article was in defense of his wisdom, which is not immediately apparent. First of all, referring to him as "the wise" gives he impression of a back history not very relevant to the Lord of the Rings, similar to talking about the cats of Queen Beruthiel, or something sad about a blue-stoned brooch Tom Bombadil found. Secondly, as the author of the article noted, Celeborn's wisdom was subtle and very elf-like. He would not tell the Fellowship what to do, but he still limited their choices to two by sending them out of his country on a boat "When Aragorn reveals that he has not decided which way the Fellowship will go, Celeborn buys him a little time by giving the Fellowship a few boats. The boats allow Aragorn to keep his options open. But they also speed the group on their way toward the inevitable choices they must make. Aragorn doesn't realize that, since he loses track of how fast they proceed down river."
What I want to know is who is the Celeborn in America? How do our presidential candidates get reduced to two whereafter we're sped on our way toward election? Doesn't our system seem a bit broken when with all the diversity of the fifty states and their residents, when we go to cast our ballot on election day, there are two or three choices?
Celeborn in a way represents our two party system, which employs presidential primaries and nominations to patiently ensure that the country is floating in the general direction of Celeborn's choice. In case you couldn't tell, I'm a little frustrated. The primary process, which will eliminate about eight Republican candidates from the presidential race about four months from now, leaves the voters in two or three states to make the decisions. The remaining 47 states are like the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings: left with two choices and usually a pragmatic philosophy of choosing the lesser of two evils. Kansas has for 15 years recognized the ridiculousness of the situation and chosen not to waste money even holding a primary. In my circle we make a certain point by posing two questions: "Should we have prayer in public schools? Wait - should we have public schools?" In this case rather than asking me, "Are you voting Democrat or Republican," maybe you should ask, "Wait - should we have only two choices?"
Wikipedia provides the following insight into what we call ballot access: "...but until the 1880s paper ballots were not officially designed and printed by the government but were instead privately produced "tickets" that were distributed (usually by political parties) to the voter, who would take the ticket to the polling place and deposit it in the ballot box. The 1880s reform movement that led to officially designed secret ballots had some salutary effects, but it also gave the government control over who could be on the ballot. As historian Peter Argersinger has pointed out, the reform that conferred power on officials to regulate who may be on the ballot carried with it the danger that this power would be abused by officialdom and that legislatures controlled by the established political parties (specifically, the Republican and Democratic Parties), would enact restrictive ballot access laws to influence election outcomes, for partisan purposes, in order to ensure re-election of their own party's candidates." (emphasis mine)
Before you assume I'm a nut who has no understanding of world politics, let me say that I understand why the two party system is in place. Say we have ten candidates, and eight are more or less conservative. There are variances in policy or experience or eloquence, which would be preferred in a free election. Responsible, thoughtful voters could then, rather than choosing the lesser of two evils, choose the greater of eight goods (if you think this is what happens in the primary, reread the last two paragraphs). On election day the persuaded men cast well-considered votes for the best candidate...
...and one of the two liberal, socialist, weak-defense, anti-life candidates wins.
How did this happen? Quite simple, really. A majority of those who vote for liberals are weak-minded people who preferred to be told whom to vote for, who voted for the candidate who promised them the most, or who told the most lies about the other candidate. Those telling them for whom to vote liked power, so they consolidated their efforts and threw all their support behind one candidate.
(In a two party system there is a war over the middle voters, and as long as a large portion of American voters continue to be educated and use common sense, the conservative candidate has a chance. The Democrats are shocked when the vote falls in Republican favor, but all the blustering in the world won't change the facts.)
Let me ask you. In the ten-candidate scenario given above, who is being represented in the outcome? Is it the mass will of the American people? No, a few power-hungry liberal thinkers chose the winner by effectively brainwashing their constituents. In the primary-decided two party system, whose values and choices are being represented? Even if the 47 states wanted to rebel against the decisions of the first few, the candidates don't campaign here much at all, and the ones who can afford to campaign nation wide are the only ones with any name recognition. So in that case the man with the most money wins.
For me, if I did a grass roots door to door campaign for my candidate of choice (Huckabee), that still wouldn't help him get elected, because I live in Colorado, and our state isn't important in presidential primaries. The only thing a concerned citizen in my state can do is contribute money, which I don't have. At least that's the message I'm getting from conservative media. So out here in my state the reason for campaigning is for the Republicans to prevent as many conservatives as possible from following Colorado Springs' outspoken family values voice, Dr. Dobson. They try to reconcile us to the candidate already chosen by the powerful in the party.
The Federalist Papers (paper 10) discuss the party-system, and advocate a multi-party or non-partisan system (which is how the first administration was conducted). The writers of the Federalist Papers were also writers of the Constitution, so their observations inform us of the original intent of the supreme law of the land, which has very frequently been amended to its detriment or outright ignored.
What can be done?
- Change the primaries to all be on one day. This may require a constitutional amendment because according the the US Constitution individual states are allowed to select electors (delegates to the Electoral College) in whatever manner they choose. In fact, the federal constitution does not guarantee individual citizens the right to vote for the president at all. Thus the silliness over the popular vote vs. electoral college protest.
- Remove ballot access laws. They prevent free republicanism and entrench existing political parties, which tend naturally to move toward the center of popular ideas (democracy=mob rule vs. republicanism) in order to acquire votes. In this way original parties abandon the values of their constituents to stay in power, and move towards a one or dominant party system.
- Educate the public. The less stupid people, the less people can be manipulated by liberal powers and socialistic promises. Smarter voters even make for more conservative candidates across the board.
- Pray. Fundamentally our republic is collapsing because it has abandoned God. Numerous founding fathers predicted this consequence.
To God be all glory.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
As a lady in waiting, the Church and Christian literature are giving me two messages: either I should prolong the waiting to learn independence, get an education, and see the world; or I need to be using the waiting time as an active time not only of preparation for marriage, but as ministry to the Church body and the world. The latter has a biblical basis in 1 Corinthians 7: "There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."
I am not, however, surprised that I often forget to implement this principle. My life is filled with ministry: to my family, to my church, to my world, and to my future husband by way of education and preparation. But my imagination is filled with someday’s. Someday my husband and I will pray together. Someday I will teach my children first-time obedience. Someday these homeschool lesson plans will be implemented. And also: someday I’ll bake bread every week, brainstorm family activities, practice family-to-family discipleship.
Certain aspects of the future obviously have to wait. Someday buying maternity clothes is an obvious example. But God has placed me in my family right now to use my gifts and ideas and convictions in the present tense. Why not bake bread every week right now? Can we do family activities and prayer? If I want to be involved in discipleship, can’t I at least ask my parents if they’re interested in supporting me?
I see the need in our churches for the youth to be mentored. Since it is obvious some parents are not doing this, they appear to need mentors, too. Why not make it a family affair? The last thing I want to do is usurp the parents by discipling their daughters on emotional purity, preparation for relationships, modesty, and dependence on God. But I do feel God calling me to be a part. So here is the plan.
1. Talk to my parents and family about the need, the opportunities, the source of my vision, and practical applications.
2. Conditional on their support and enthusiasm, we together identify families in the church that we want to come alongside.
3. Invite the family for Sunday lunch and a (hopefully less depressing than recently) Broncos game. Talk about church and life issues – intentionally.
4. Keep up contact, via email, letters, phone calls, or getting together. Develop trust relationships and a sense of the most urgent need.
5. Present opportunities to the other family for discipleship, advice, mentoring (whatever terminology makes sense to them): maybe even a family Bible study or prayer meeting.
In some situations something this serious is pushing it, I know. To use Wives and Daughters once again to illustrate, let me describe the relationship between Molly and Cynthia (actually this relationship was typical of Molly’s interactions with everyone). The first time I watched Wives and Daughters, I was struck because Cynthia is the kind of girl who gets on my nerves. She doesn’t take life seriously, and she leaves a wake of hurt feelings and betrayals in her path. But in the movie (and I assume in the book as well), through Molly I learned to love, if not understand, Cynthia. She was being secretive and flirtatious and inconstant to protect herself from the pain she felt at being abandoned or manipulated as a child. She began loving the art of beauty and extravagance because of the shame her mother taught her over being poor. Thus the mother who should have been directing her into mature thoughts and responsible actions was failing to do her job. As a widowed young mother, however, we can see that she needed help all along.
Help finally arrived in the form of a very intimate mentoring relationship known as marriage. Her husband undertook to at least temper her extremes. Likewise for Cynthia, he took her under his wing, praised her, indulged her, listened to her, disciplined her, and introduced her to Molly. Molly in turn decided to love Cynthia, shared her joys, her parties, her philosophizings, even her shopping trips. The heroine of the story could see her step-sister’s good side, and made an effort to draw that out, and even to praise it before their friends and family.
But we regularly see Molly challenging Cynthia to do what was right. Especially in her engagement to Roger, Molly was often encouraging her to do right by him. Molly went after Cynthia until she confessed the source of her depression as her long, loathsome engagement to Mr. Preston. As a friend who stood by her in such a time, Molly earned by her good sense, her faithfulness, and her excellent example, a position as a valued adviser. In the end, Cynthia has grown a bit. Partly this was experience. A lot of it was the dedicated love of Molly and Mr. Gibson. The once flirtatious girl who liked to be liked even if it was only for the façade she put on, who had often bent to the wishes of the stronger-willed around her, finally resolves to “only say yes” to a proposal if it’s what she really wants. Her decision is more slow and considered, seeking the advice of the more mature around her.
By similar commitment and well-placed (much prayed-over) admonishments, I would hope to raise up other families committed to God, gently instructed and helped, without feeling condemned. What impact could this have on our churches if the families who are growing in God, who are faithful to His calling to the Church, will invest in other Church families?
Ballot Box with Ballot
About a week ago Dr. Dobson and many other Christian leaders gathered to discuss the upcoming 2008 presidential election. They responded to the social moderate natures of some of the leading Republican candidates by publishing a statement that if one of those men were nominated in the primaries, the members of the group would consider a conservative third party candidate. Immediately radio talk show hosts and columnists gathered their arms and went to war to combat the rebellion against the lesser of two evils mentality. The first commentary I heard on the decision was Mike Reagan, who told the conservative Christians to take responsibility for campaigning for the candidate of their choice rather than issuing threats and ultimatums.
Since then Sean Hannity even had Dr. Dobson on his radio show in order to dissuade him. The argument is fairly obvious: if you don't vote for the Republican nominee, there is not enough support behind a third party candidate, so the conservative vote would be divided and the Democrat candidate would win the presidency, which could be disastrous for national security, taxes, spending, social policy, and the Supreme Court. The whole scenario is vaguely reminiscent of Bush, Sr.'s second presidential bid, in which Ross Perot entered the race to divide the vote and ensure the election of President Bill Clinton.
I have taken a stand against lesser of two evils, pragmatic voting. Right now I'm torn over making a long term difference for the issues about which I care and the self-preservation instinct to elect a man who will adequately defend our lives. As the conservative voices are crying, we won't have social issues about which to debate if we aren't even still on the face of the map.
But here is my issue: the inveterate Republican voices have so long decided who they want to be the nominee and now argue that anyone who votes elsewise is casting a vote for the Democrats. Isn't that what they're accusing the Christians of doing? Dr. Dobson and party are choosing the type of man they want to be the president, trying to take back the party, and why can't they then accuse anyone who votes contrary to their choice of casting a vote for the other side? I repeat, nothing is going to ever change if no one takes a stand.
When our country was founded, there wasn't a two-party system. Responsible, informed citizens voted for the man of their choice (more like the primary elections of today, except a free for all). Long story. Look up Ballot Access and Presidential Primaries on Wikipedia for more information. I'm not a little concerned.
To God be all glory.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
My sister in innocent reply, holding up the bare shrimp, exclaimed, "You're supposed to eat this?" Apparently she thought it was like the bone in a chicken leg. But this is typical of her taste.
To God be all glory.
But I'm talking about Romney here. Romney also has a law degree. In yesterday's Repbulican Presidential Debate Romney said that when faced with the decision whether to attack Iran, he would first consult his attorneys, then maybe the Congress, and maybe the world. Even Hugh Hewitt recognized the unproductive nature of such stands: "ROMNEY – The thing about calling the lawyers wasn’t his best moment."
His exact words, as far as I could find, were, "CHRIS MATTHEWS: “Governor Romney, that raises the question, if you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities?” ROMNEY: “You sit down with your attorneys and tell you want you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress...” MATTHEWS: “Did he need it?” ROMNEY: “You know, we're going to let the lawyers sort out what he needed to do and what he didn't need to do. But, certainly, what you want to do is to have the agreement of all the people — leadership of our government as well as our friends around the world where those circumstances are available.” (Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate’s Debate, Dearborn, MI, 10/9/07)
I'm not anti-lawyer, not really. I like lawyers, especially the ones who understand the Constitution and abide by it. But I don't like the manipulators, and I don't like the people who think lawyers solve everything. A lot of our founding fathers in America were lawyers, and that is why we have such a strong constitutional republic. Those men were statesmen, though. They were in government to serve the people, because they believed in causes. Most who run for office today are politicians, and such men and women usually rely more on lawyers and polls than on principle and reason. For a legislator, that is more acceptable (still not ideal). An executive has to be able to make wise decisions on his own. Lawyers and judges run this country enough as it is.
In summary, I already disliked Mitt Romney for president. Challenged recently to give many reasons why, I have been trying to put my finger on what makes me distrust him. I think I've found it. He is a politician. Thus I expect him to manipulate laws and money and people for his own ends. He might change his positions on things if the old position is found to be less expedient.
In contrast, there are a few candidates (and more commentators) who can be eloquent and consistent on the issues because rather than following a publicity-driven script, they are expressing what they really believe at the core of their being. I've even noticed that my own blog posts are more eloquent when I write about things I firmly believe.
To God be all glory.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I find that I crave the straightforward admonishments and reminders of the New Testament (Jesus' teachings and the epistles). But our teachers like to feed applications from character studies and stories in the Old (and sometimes New) Testament. In the past I've grown weary of parables. So I'm not saying one is more important than the other. We may need balance. I don't know.
Any ideas? Stories from your churches?
To God be all glory.
Our sermon this morning was on temptation. Resisting temptation is really hard. One point brought out by Genesis 39 (our text) and my pastor is that we are usually tempted more than once. We say no, and then no the next day and then, I don't think so, until we're worn down and tired and the timing is better for the tempter. Joseph, as a victorious example, said no every day.
Every time I hear a sermon or lesson on temptation I think I should really wear something to remind me, or put up a picture of the crucifixion in my room, or of a scene from Karen Hancock's arena that vividly recalls temptation.
Except this morning we were also in Ephesians. You know chapter 6 that talks about the armor of God? And the armor isn't anything about jewelry or paintings. We protect ourselves from spiritual attack by filling ourselves with the Word of God, with prayer, with salvation and saturating our thoughts with truth. Trust God. Know Him. Be prepared. Practice (pro-actively) righteousness (do-good-ing).
For someone who advocates the biblical solutions over man's innovations, I sure have been confused. So even though I believe in preaching the gospel to myself as Living the Cross-Centered Life advocated, I don't need the crucifix in my room to give me an image. What I haven't been doing when I fall prey to temptation is immersing myself in the Bible, dedicating time each day to spending with God, and going through my day with Him in prayer. Let this be a warning to me.
To God be all glory.
The drive for a building is what frustrates me about many of the groups that currently meet in schools or homes. But I can't much add to the concise analysis quoted above.
This morning in church my friend and I were discussing how each week the announcements get longer and longer. I've figured out that there is a cycle in my church: the pastors realize the time spent on announcements is getting out of hand and forbid all but the most essential statements. Then it drifts into free for all, and then degrades into rambling, vague summaries that last forever. She argued we don't need verbal announcements at all, and I countered with the observable fact that only the already informed few read their bulletins, so no one will know what is happening without being told out loud.
Then I made a revolutionary suggestion. Maybe we should get the word out by social networking, person-to-person communication. It goes along with the paid staff clause above. My friend agreed, but warned that would mean bonding. "Yeah, I mean, being the church, something biblical," I added sarcastically.
So am I part of the fix, or part of the problem?
To God be all glory.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Her family is very conservative. I once loaned them You’ve Got Mail, a highly quotable movie with its share of inappropriate content ranging from language to the way women are viewed and relationships are valued. They actually called me, having paused the movie, to get clarification: are both main characters living with people to whom they are not married?! I reluctantly recommend such movies, but the girls under the supervision of their parents seemed so eager to watch the movie, that I gave in to their request and let them borrow my copy.
I’m told my friend’s dad is no fun as a companion watching a chick-flick because he feels the need to point out every moral failure as a warning to his daughters. They’re well-versed in the Bible and Christian morality, not just by teaching, example, and influence, but also by practice. They know as well as I do that the behaviors depicted by Hollywood are wrong. Their own lives will always look quite different from those in the movies.
Another friend says her family barely even watches kissing on TV or movies, because that ought to be very private. It isn’t healthy spiritually/emotionally to be feeding yourself media that doesn’t agree with your values. We get desensitized, and participate in the desacralization of love and marriage and God’s name, etc.
I am torn. Trust me: I know that my heart and mind can only filter so much secular media before I succumb at best to the sin of discontent and bad moods. There is value in considering the worldview of the secular world, though; and to watch a movie in the critical mode, thoughtfully refuting the choices and lifestyles of the characters. If you were only going to associate with people who exactly exemplified your values, you probably wouldn’t even be hanging out with yourself.
Perhaps the best example is one of my favorite movies, Pride and Prejudice, in which the priorities promoted by Miss Austen are the sort that I harbor in my life. Please don’t misunderstand. Jane Austen writes characters, and uses even the bad ones to point to what she sees is good. I’m not valuing marriage for money or comfort or class anymore than I am arguing for elopement or promiscuity or absurdity or selfishness. Pride and Prejudice, one might anticipate by the very title, is about flaws and mistakes. Even the main characters have to overcome decisions or feelings in themselves which neither I nor Jane Austen would find upstanding. Perhaps the feeling of superiority I have in watching Elizabeth Bennett’s and Mr. Darcy’s blunders is only because I already learned the intended lesson: the product of previously watching the movie and being educated by Miss Austen in the noble understanding of friendship and love.
However, the point of this post is that I am so refreshed and delighted to find books, and especially movies (because they’re so rare) in which I never have to think, “I would never be in the situation the heroine finds herself, because I would never have made such choices.” The stories then are dear, because they are relevant, and familiar, and possible. To watch characters endure with godly patience, to love with honor, to laugh and to cry all without making major moral mistakes – which are as bad as movie discontinuity – is inspiring!
While telling my mom these things, she was giving me a look of incredulity. “How many movies have you seen like that?”
“At the moment, I can think of only one,” I laughed (realizing maybe its uniqueness and wholesomeness is what makes me want to start it over immediately after finishing the five-hour film), “… the one I’m in the middle of downstairs right now, Wives and Daughters.” While working on an apron to eventually sell, I was watching the miniseries with my thirteen year old sister, and we were both admiring the character of the various wives, daughters, husbands, brothers, fathers, and friends in the story. I can see how Molly could fall for Roger, without doing anything wrong. She treats him like a brother, but they talk. He’s kind to her, and shows that he understands and cares about her. She too, easily demonstrates her affection for his whole family by her ready service to them. Not only can she keep everyone else’s secrets; her heart guards the hardest secret to keep: her own.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
In the end Molly is no longer the naïve, obedient little girl. She has always had a mind of her own. Now she has a will, and a heart, that can match the challenges and requests of every adult around her. I’m still trying to lay my finger on how her face changes by the end from the face we see when she is first reading in her little nook overlooking the drive.
Ephesians 5:15-18, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"
Colossians 3:2, 17, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth… And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Entertainment saturates our culture, binding us to futility by addicting us to me-pleasing inactivity. If watching movies, especially long ones like Pride and Prejudice and Wives and Daughters, has no eternal or applicable value, I would not do it. These movies have had an impact on my life: my philosophy, convictions, resolve, inspiration. We all know what we read affects how we write and talk. If I’ve been watching Jane Austen, suddenly my sentences incorporate a wider vocabulary and proper grammar. Beyond that, these movies can have visible applications.
If you know me, you will probably have noticed that when I can, I wear skirts, even though I own the perfect pair of jeans. This decision was inspired not by an interpretation of the Pauline epistles, nor by all those dresses-only homeschool conservatives, but because I want to be allowed to be beautiful like Molly. Everywhere she goes: gardening or running to meet her father in the barn, she wears full beautiful skirts. Her shawls and dresses lend elegance to everyday life. I’m thinking of my hair today: old-fashioned, looking really fancy (but my coworkers have no idea this is just the tip of the iceberg. If I were wearing what I wanted to wear, I’d be dressed early Victorian!). Molly didn’t bend to fashion much, either. We can tell she’s tempted, but ultimately wants her own things, things that remind her of her mother, and she goes by her own taste whenever she can.
Fiction, music, and media have great capacity to influence the world.
“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity
“Give me the making of the songs of a nation