Saturday, September 27, 2008

There is none righteous...

... no, not one! (Romans 3:10)

Is Paul's teaching of human depravity too pessimistic?

What about that nice guy down the street who always supports community causes, or that kind co-worker who has more integrity than many professing Christians we've met?

Robert Mounce gives one possible explanation...

"Paul's portrayal of the unrighteous person may seem overly pessimistic to many contemporaries. After all, do we not all know certain individuals who live rather exemplary lives apart from Christ? Certainly they do not fit the description just laid out. Although it may be true that many of our acquaintances are not as outwardly wicked as the litany would suggest, we must remember that they are also benefactors of a civilization deeply influenced by a pervasive Judeo-Christian ethic. Take away the beneficent influence of Christian social ethics and their social behavior would be considerably different." (Romans, Broadman & Holman, 1995, p. 110)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Punctuation Day, Sept 24

“My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.”

Ernest Hemingway, letter, May 15, 1925

The official website. It's about time. (Not, its about time.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The sower

I've always drawn encouragement from van Gogh's "Sower", who depicts a man working late into the evening sowing the good seed. I discovered a similar one he painted, entitled "The Sower in the Evening".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flew: Dawkins "a secularist bigot"

Antony Flew has a scathing review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion:

The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot...
This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means...

On Dawkins' treatment of Einstein, Flew says,

The fault of Dawkins as an academic ... was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form. Thus we find in his index five references to Einstein. They are to the mask of Einstein and Einstein on morality; on a personal God; on the purpose of life (the human situation and on how man is here for the sake of other men and above all for those on whose well-being our own happiness depends); and finally on Einstein’s religious views. But (I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.
I don't think Antony Flew has lost any of his sharpness! Full article here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quotes from Sunday's sermon

"I don’t know about you, but I have a romantic attachment to railroad travel; I am a sucker for railways. It probably dates back to my childhood, when travel by railroad in England meant you were going on holiday. And so the image of the law as a railroad track makes a lot of sense to me. A railroad engine is designed to travel on a railroad track. When it is on the track it does just fine, and it can enjoy life as its designer intended it to. But suppose a railroad engine says to itself 'these tracks are so confining; the scenery is so much better away from the track. I am going to jump off the tracks and enjoy my life as I want to.' What happens? Disaster!

"And the Ten Commandments are like the railroad tracks for us. God designed us so that we would be most fulfilled and most at peace with ourselves and our neighbors when we stay on the tracks by living according to the ten commandments. If we say to ourselves, as so many people do 'but they are so confining; I am going to explore life beyond these restrictions', then we risk coming to ruin and destruction.

"Now don’t misunderstand me at this point. I am not saying that obeying the ten commandments will make you a Christian; far from it. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were scrupulous in their obedience, and yet they committed the serious sin of wrongfully condemning Jesus to death. But what I am saying is that these commandments were given by God for our good, and for our protection as Christians. God made us, and He knows how we operate and how we will be happiest and most fulfilled." (David Kingston,
sermon, 9/7/08)

“Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped.” (Augustine, AD 354-430)

“Whatever a man seeks, honors, or exalts more than God, is idolatry.” (William Bernard Ullanthorne, 1806-1889)

"When I was a little girl my mother would often say to me, 'Edith, I know just who you've been playing with today.' She knew because I had become something like the other little girl, whichever one it was, enough like her that the girl could be identified by my changed accent, my mannerisms, and other telltale changes. Children often copy other children quite unconsciously. So do adults. We are affected by the people we spend time with, in one way or another. God makes clear to us that not only is it sin to bow down to idols and worship or serve them, but that there is an effect which follows very definitely. People who worship idols become like them.” (Edith Schaeffer, "The Art of Life", Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 8)

“If I live indifferently to the things of the Lord, ...if I continually give in to every suggestion of the flesh, ...if I have a love affair with materialism and acquiring things at any cost, If I chase after empty, hollow images for the rest of my life, then my children and their children will do this as well. If God does not have the proper place in my life then the repercussions will be felt from generation to generation. Basically God is reminding us that our children will COPY our sins. They will follow our example when it comes to the things we worship.” (Mark Adams, Redlands Baptist Church)

“A budget is a theological document. It indicates who or what we worship.” (James S. Hewett)

"I'm going to sit down and make myself a god.
I'll have a faith that won't make me seem odd.

I want this god available when it is convenient.

Of course his doctrines will be ever so lenient.

I'm going to create my own god you see.

Because I don't want my god embarrassing me."

“The reason we lie (or ever do any sin) is because at that moment there is something we feel that we simply must have--and so we lie. One typical reason that we lie (though it is by no means the only one) is because we are deeply fearful of losing face or someone's approval. That means, that the 'sin under the sin' of lying is the idolatry (at that moment) of human approval. If we break the commandment against false witness it is because we are breaking the first commandment against idolatry. We are looking more to human approval than to Jesus as a source of worth, meaning, and happiness. Under the sin of lying is the failure to rejoice in and believe in our acceptance in Christ. Under the sin of lying is a kind of heart-unbelief in the gospel (whatever we may tell ourselves intellectually.)

“At the root, then, of all Christian failures to live right--i.e. not give their money generously, not tell the truth, not care for the poor, not handle worry and anxiety--is the sin under all sins, the sin of unbelief, of not rejoicing deeply in God's grace in Christ, not living out of our new identity in Christ.” (Tim Keller, “On Preaching In A Post-Modern City”)

Oh for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heav'nly Frame;

A Light to shine upon the Road

That leads me to the Lamb!

The dearest Idol I have known,

Whate'er that Idol be,

Help me to tear it from Thy Throne,
And worship Only Thee.

(William Cowper, English poet and hymnwriter)

The world is run by information

"The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by little ones and zeros, little bits of data. It’s all just electrons.... There’s a war out there... and it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think, it’s all about information.... The world is run by information."

Margaret Manning, RZIM Today's Slice 9/9/08

“If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Mandy, a faithful companion to my mother for many years, died this week. What's been going through my head is that poem...

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

All the horses and dogs and farm creatures that my mom loved... they came as as gift from the Lord. It's going to be real hard for her now, since this may be her last dog. (Maybe.) Aging is a humbling process as we give up one by one all those things we enjoyed most in life. For her it was first the horses and riding, and now possibly the ability to care for a dog.