Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Return of Me...

Okay... I am back. At least I am TRYING to be back. These blogs are hard to keep up with. I usually tend to read other people's more than write them myself. But I will try.

Two movies... Return of Superman was worthless. Once again, Hollywood attempts to recreate Christ without it being Christ. The many allusions to Christ do not make the movie better, they just make the message sadder.

Throughout the movie, we see Lois Lane recount how she thought for a while she DIDN'T need Superman, and then found that she did.

THAT is a worthwhile and pursuable notion. The movie itself, in making Superman, is claiming not to need Yeshua. But we all do.

Next movie... Jack Sparrow Returns! This one I liked. Two thumbs up for a rollicking frantic fast-paced wild pirate movie. Argghh. It is NOT a "christian" movie. But it doesn't claim to be. It isn't setting up a tertiary religion. It is just being a pirate movie.

I guess that is my point for this blog.

Intentions matter.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Constitution and the National Guard

When the present Constitution was framed, one of the fears of our fathers was a standing army that might be used by a government with ill desires. Our fathers were not "anti-government" conspiracy theorists. But they knew that power further corrupts men’s corrupt hearts.
To provide for the a defense of our Biblical-based freedoms, recently regained in the War for American Independence, each of the several States was to create Militia. These Militia were independent of Federal control, manned by contract (meaning volunteerism, not conscription,) and under the control of officers appointed by State Legislatures. These Militia were indeed developed and have evolved into our present State National Guard.
During a National Emergency, the Federal Government was entitled to ASK for the service of those Militia to serve under officers appointed by Federal Legislatures. A clear time limit was required, and such Militia that volunteered were NOT to be considered part of the US Army; but rather as supplemental forces.
During the War of 1812, on three occasions bills were suggested to create a sizable National Army, making use in varying degrees of the State Militias. All three bills included conscription and a reorganization of the State Militias into components of the National Army. These bills were hotly contested, and finally the Giles Bill, a compromise of time limits and control issues, appeared ready to be passed by a joint meeting of House and Senate.
A number of New England States had begun to meet in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss the implications of this proposed action, and eventually declared their intention to leave the Union. They (correctly, even if they were Yankees!) saw that this reorganization of Militia into the US Army was Unconstitutional.
At this time, the Judicial branch of the Federal Government had not yet usurped the power of testing constitutionality of new laws. Instead, the individual States retained that power and duty. These New England States had determined that the Federal Government’s actions were contrary to the stated and purposed intentions of the Constitution and were proceeding to nullify the unconstitutional actions of the Federal Government.
The War of 1812 ended before the New England States were forced to secede.
But today, the Hartford Convention’s bold and proper stand has been nearly forgotten; and the Constitutional arguments that the Convention pursued have been sidestepped.
Things have changed. The United States’ standing army is present, powerful and provocative on the world scene. The Army is used not merely for National Defense, but for pro-active missions that are only defensive under a rationalization based on a reversal of Knute Rockne’s football maxim about Defenses and Offenses.
And more specifically, our National Guards have been fully incorporated into that Standing Army. Recent use of our State Militias did not differ substantially from missions performed by the US Army. In fact, the National Guard of my State was merged into the command structure of the US Army. Our local Guard troops became simply soldiers in the US Army.
And why do I care? Because the purpose of the National Guard has been supplanted . . . Because I believe that man’s heart is corrupt, and restraints are necessary... Because this is another example of those restraints (the Constitution) being circumvented... Because our present situation is blatantly unconstitutional.
Because the Constitution, while not holy, was an application of the principles of God’s Word to the realm of government of the State. And I fear pragmatic abandonment of those principles. When Paul wrote that all things be done "decently and in order," (I Corinthians 14:40) he was primarily speaking about Worship. But his principle applies to all of life.
Abandoning the Constitution is not living "decently," or "in order."
Instead, it is every man doing what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Devonport's Lighthouse Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another Saturday Night

Still... I spend more time reading OTHER people's blogs than my own. But I hope to summarize Sunday Morning's message each Saturday night. So I will at least be posting once per week.

Mark 7 tomorrow. The difference between Pharisees (who tried to define INNER self by OUTER means) and Jesus, (who defined INNER self by INNER means.)

I will restrain myself from singing, "Don't wanna be a Pharisee... cause they're no fair, you see!"

We change behavior by changing (really GOD changing) our hearts. Pharisees thought we could change hearts by changing behavior.

We are like the Pharisees when we say, "He did THAT??? He COULDN'T be a Christian!"

We are also like the Pharisees when we say, "I really must be far from God, look what I DID!"

It is not, of course, that our actions (deeds) don't matter. It is simply that they are a fruit of our heart (or Spirit.) Since the old man remains in us, our actions will continue to show that.

But praise Jahweh, He continues to change our hearts so that our actions become more righteous. But we mustn't get the order mixed up.

Not an outline, I know... sort of a summarizing rambling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Walking and Running

We all know that we have to walk before we can run. I was thinking about that concept during football practice this morning.

Two kinds of kids seem to need that wisdom. First, some just are in bad shape. They've been drinking Mountain Dew and eating potato chips and watching cartoons all summer. Now they have to work HARD for three hours every morning. And some of them can't do it. They just can't run. And so they walk. Now in our third day of practice, they are starting to pick up speed. Because they are in better shape.

Others, though, don't really know HOW to run. I know, that sounds silly. But really, football running is different than cross country running. And so sometimes we need to walk through a play, or a drill, or an excersize to show them HOW to do it. They need to walk before they can run.

This fits with our life with God, too. We need to walk before we can run. Sometimes we are in bad spiritual shape. Our consciences are deadened, or unexercized. Our minds aren't used to discerning God's Will from His Word. And so we need to focus small and detailed. We need to walk with Him before we start to jog. We just can't do anything else.

Some of us really just don't know HOW to follow Him. I have a friend who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. It took him a long time to learn how to REALLY listen to God. This takes time, effort, and what we call in football, "reps."

The good news is, that even when we are walking... and even walking poorly... AND even when we are running with Him, He saves us the same way. NOT by how fast we run. But simply by grace.

He is the God of second chances. Over and over again.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Saturday Night

I've been preaching through the book of Mark. The gospel for losers. It is written by Mark, the worst missionary in Acts... with the help of Peter, the biggest blurt of a disciple. Jesus is THE savior for Losers. All it takes is realizing we ARE... and that HE is the solution...

Anyway... up to the end of chapter six. Looking at the reaction of people to Jesus.... some people say, "Jesus does whatever He can." sort of apologetically. As if some problems are beyond Him. We shrug when we say this.

Sometimes we say, 'Jesus does whatever HE can." the rest is up to us. Wrong wrong wrong. We don't save ourselves, we don't improve ourselves, we don't make ourselves "good." (Theologically, we would say it is God who Justifies, God who Sanctifies, and God who Glorifies.) The disciples sort of show this attitude in the previous adventures. They acknowledge that He did THAT miracle... but don't expect Him to do any more.

But what we NEED to say is, "Jesus does WHATEVER! HE CAN!" There is a silly (but very theologically correct) kids' chorus: My God is so big... etc... Face it. He is. He can. He does.

Okay... ready for tomorrow. G'night.

A Graven Image by any other name

Is there a difference between the first and second commandments? This is an old thing I wrote a couple of years ago... but thought I would start my blog life by putting it on my site. Don't bother responding if you think it's "yesterday."

Shakespeare teaches us that a rose is a rose... not because we call it one, but because it simply is a rose. Even if we called it a "dog," it would still be a rose.
Christian culture is in a tizzy over the movie, "The Passion." The discussion so far has centered around whether or not the film is anti-Semitic in its portrayal of the reasons for Christ’s crucifixion. Recent reviews have appealed to Evangelicals to view the movie because of producer/writer/director Mel Gibson’s purported adherence to Scripture, his good intention of making the story of the crucifixion more real to viewers, and his cleansing of the film making process via his mass-attendance and Catholicity.
But perhaps we have overlooked a more ominous and dangerous side to this film.
Imagine a Hebrew settled in Canaan just after the time of Joshua. He knows God’s revealed Word (probably having memorized the Torah) and endeavors to live according to Its principles and standards.
Nearby live some Gibeonites... unfortunately still living in Canaan. They worship a selection of gods usually described in Scripture as "Baal." And their worship is wonderfully articulate. They worship through singing, meditating, sermons (yes, sermons!) And artwork. Statues and pictures and friezes all evoking important emotional responses from all who observe them. Those Baalites have a worship that is full; it is physical, emotional, and religious.
Of course it is also completely bogus.
But across the backyard fence, our Hebrew is discussing "worship" with the Canaanite. The Canaanite claims that the Hebrew is missing out on something. If the Hebrew starting using statues, pictures, and evoking art in his worship, he would have a better understanding of his God, says the Canaanite. If the Hebrew starting picturing what his God looked like, sounded like, smelled like and felt like, he would have a better understanding of his God, says the Canaanite. If the Hebrew started having more physical signs with which to relate to his non-physical God, he would have a better understanding of his God, says the Canaanite.
And the Hebrew thinks about it... and then remembers the second commandment.
That Hebrew would be less likely than we are to break that commandment, it seems.
Jesus is a mysterious phenomenon. He is fully God and fully man. Completely divine and completely human. A mixture that is hard to comprehend. Hard to explain. Hard to relay to others.
In the 1940's and 1950's churches began displaying a blue-eyed light brown haired picture of Jesus in their sanctuaries. It was done to help us relate more to our Savior. But it was a lie.
Strong words, I know. But let me explain. Whatever Jesus looked like, he was probably not a blue eyed Anglo-Saxon. So a picture of Him in that form is inaccurate. It isn’t Him. It’s wrong.
On a more philosophical level, our society struggles to accept the dual natures of Christ. A physical picture of Jesus emphasizes the human nature of Christ, and ignores the divine. (The halo doesn’t really help, does it?) Using such a picture reinforces our culture’s view that Jesus was, "a really good man." In our attempt to help ourselves "relate" to Christ... we actually force a bigger void between who He is, and how we understand Him.
There is nothing wrong with art. Quite the opposite, in fact. But the decalogue seems to prohibit physical art from representing God. From describing the Spiritual in a purely physical form. From saying, "this is God!" When He is so much more.
God’s commandment prohibiting images of Himself was given for just that reason. It is so easy for us to pull God from His throne by using physical representations of Him.
Intentions don’t matter. The Israelites had good intentions when they made the golden calf. The Canaanites had good intentions when they convinced the Israelites to worship Baal and Asteroth.
I am glad that The Passion does not present Anti-Semitism. I am glad that Mel Gibson is faithful to his principles. I am glad that Scripture Alone can be used as a text for a movie.
But I wish that The Passion didn’t break the 2nd Commandment. Because that is a pretty good reason to stay away from it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The First Second Chance

I'm far too old to be learning new tricks... dog or no dog. But constant bombardments by silly pseudo-religious claptrap and modernistic innovations to broken mousetraps have inspired me... so I will collect my thoughts and let them dribble here. Thanks for looking. Apologies for rambling.