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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
In this case, let your left hand see it...
A Canadian member of  Parliament (MP) has introduced a bill which will make it illegal for Canadians to request an abortion based on the gender of the fetus.

Think about that for a second.

Why is it (legally) okay to end the life of a fetus?  The logic goes that the fetus is not yet a legal person.  No intellectually honest person will deny that the life of a fetus is a human life, or that this human life is alive.  What is denied is that this human life is a legal person.  Because this unborn child is not yet a legal person, the law does not concern itself with protecting him or her.

Yet there is a disconnect in this kind of shell and pea logic that stands like a stack of prismatic, neon elephants gesticulating in the corner of the room.  A disconnect that comes out when we are appalled by the notion that anyone would end the life of an unborn child, based on the gender of that unborn child. 

Think on this: In Canada we have a federal act called SARA (Species At Risk Act) which defines an individual of a species as, "...an individual of a wildlife species, whether living or dead, at any developmental stage and includes larvae, embryos, eggs, sperm, seeds, pollen, spores and asexual propagules."  Because of this definition, it is illegal, for instance, to destroy the eggs of an endangered fowl - to destroy the eggs is to destroy an individual of the species.  Thus the Canadian legal system accords the equivalent of personhood to animals, even before they are born or hatched, that it denies to children in the womb of Canadian citizens.

I mention this, not to suggest that the law for endangered species is flawed, but rather to illustrate that our nation fully recognizes with unflawed clarity the fact that to destroy the developing fetus of a Panda Bear is one and the same as destroying an "already born" Panda Bear.  We could care less of the pregnant mother bear decides that she doesn't want to be a mom half way through her pregnancy, because the life of that unborn bear is precious to civilized folk.

Yet when it comes to people, we are far less civilized, aren't we?  The same minds that fully comprehend a universal truth when it comes to animals, deny this truth for human beings?  Why?  Because we have convinced our self, contrary to our own reason, that the life of an unborn human does not represent an actual person yet.  The only reason we would invent, and then accept, such a ridiculous, irrational notion is because we want to justify something that is unthinkable: murdering our own children.

There is a reason why a pregnant mother agonizes over the decision to abort her child, and it is because the only way she can go through with it, assuming she is not a psychopath, is by convincing herself that the child is not really a child, and that ending the life of her child is not really a wicked and unthinkable thing to do.

So along comes the notion of abortion for reasons of gender, and everyone knows that ending the life of a human, based on that human's gender is abominable - so we rail against it, and attempt to bring laws into being that forbid it.  Why?  Because in spite of the Orwellian "double-think" we feed ourselves, a thing like this slips past our arguments, and into our hearts, which have not yet been convinced of what our minds have been fooled into thinking.  We know in our hearts that these unborn children are human, and the thought that the gender of this unborn child should be used to decided whether we murder them or not does not sit right with us, even if our minds are otherwise hood-winked into drinking the cultural Kool-Aid.

Don't mistake me, I regard abortion as the killing of a child on the pretense that doing so will ease the comfort of the parents to one degree or another.  In other words, I think it is an abomination - the sacrificing of our children on the altar of our own pleasures, or (worse) imagined pleasures.  It is an exaltation of our self-determination to the point of saying that it is okay to kill your own children, if you think that would make your life better.  It puts our momentary opinion about what is best for us on one scale, and the life of an unborn child on the other, and that is an unjust scale in my book.  So don't read me wrong when I say that if we allow abortions by reason of gender, what's to stop us from allowing abortions for even more trivial reasons?  I am not suggesting we ought not to allow abortions for reasons of gender on the grounds that it is a slippery slope.  We shouldn't allow abortions at all.  If however, we can avoid allowing some (or any) abortions, we ought to do so.

The fascinating thing (morbidly, mind you) in all this, to me at least, was that even though a person may be convinced that abortions are fine and dandy, that conviction is really just an intellectual persuasion intended to convince the heart that evil is good.  When something comes along for which hasn't yet been throttled into silence by some as yet invented intellectual postures, it goes straight to the heart (where it ought to), and we know that something is wrong, even if we can't put our finger on it.

Thus after a person has managed to convince himself or herself that abortion is morally and legally acceptable, that same person may stumble over the idea that it is okay to abort a child on the basis of that child's gender.  That would be wrong even the fog of their deceit wouldn't allow them to understand just why. 

If an unborn child isn't a person, it really shouldn't matter why we take that unborn child's life.  Right? The fact that it does matter to some who otherweise support abortion points to a (promising) disconnect in their thinking.  I hope the Lord uses this to unblind the mind of those whose hearts still have eyes.
posted by Daniel @ 9:25 AM   3 comment(s)
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Talking 'Bout Love...
Often the first real hurdle of faith for the new believer comes the day that they get serious about being a Christian. They begin to wonder, even as the disciples did (c.f John 6:25-29) what they must do in order to be doing godly works.

Our Lord answers the question thus: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." [ESV]

I expect that some people read this answer and interpret it to mean that there was only is only one work that Christians should concern themselves with: believing on the One whom God sent (Jesus).

But that is not what Jesus is saying. rewriting the answer in a less ambiguous way, our Lord was saying that, "Believing on Christ is God's work". Paul echoes the thought in his letter to the congregation at Philippi (2:13), "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

The answer the Lord gave was that you don't do God's work; He does it Himself, in you. Now that wasn't the answer they were looking for. They wanted a checklist of things to do, but what they got was a theological truth, that they weren't doing God's work, but that God Himself was doing God's work in them.

Even as that must have seemed less than helpful to the disciples in Christ's day, I expect that seems equally less than helpful to the modern new believer, but the message is a simple one. "You" can't do God's work, only God can do God's work. If that causes your head to reel a bit, all it means is that it is wrong to think of the work of faith as something you do in order to please God, the proper mindset is to recognize that the only reason you want to please God is because God is in you through the person of the Holy Spirit.

One might ask how it was that a believer became a believer in the first place? was the crown of Christianity sitting atop a high mountain that the believer climbed by his own power, wrested from its secure place, and placed it upon his own brow? Was it the believer's mighty intellect that unlocked the gospel riddle, and the believers own great morality that saw the justice in the gospel, and by the guidance of his own intellect and superior morality he chose to believe? Not so. He was incapable of even comprehending the scriptures apart from an act of divine intervention. How did the new believer receive Christ? He received Christ when he abandoned his life long rebellion against God, and sought instead to put himself back under God's rule, by faith. Both the repentance (turning away from His rebellion against God) and his faith were gifts of God (c.f. faith - Ephesians 2:8, repentance - Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25).

We ask the question about how one becomes a believer, for this purpose, it answers the question about how one should walk as a believer, since Paul answers that question in his letter to the believers at Colosse (c.f. Colossians 2:6) when he writes, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,"

Do you get that? What am I supposed to "do" as a Christian? Do what you did when you first believed. What did you do? You surrendered yourself entirely to the work that God was doing in you. You didn't have a choice, God who cannot fail, was drawing you to Himself (c.f. John 6:44-45), and every person whom God thus draws to Himself, comes.

Yet it is clear that even as God drew you to Himself, you weren't a mindless puppet in the process. You (eventually) wanted to come to God more than you wanted to resist Him, and this was the work of God Himself. He was at work in you, providing you with the will and the means to come to Him: and so you came. Paul tells us that we should walk with God in the same way that we received Him.

That's something of a riddle even for well seasoned believers, or more accurately, even for those believers who have for years tried to Christians in some other way.

One of the greatest hurdles for believers of all stripes is learning to walk by faith. Walking by faith, or walking in the Spirit, walking in love, or putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. is not something you can "do" so much as something you surrender to. Let me explain.

When you think of love, you are probably thinking of a bond of affection. The bible has words to describe this kind of affection. Eros is an "erotic" affection where phileo describes the affection between friends. Storge, appears only once, and then as a part of a compound word, but it means the affection between family members. When the New Testament wants to describe the affection of love, it uses the word phileo. But the word agape is not as affectionate, if it can be called affectionate at all. It describes an utter commitment to someone else, a commitment whose very nature obliterates and replaces any commitment to self. We use words like "sacrifice" or (rather dully) "charity" to describe it, because this kind of love is not characterized, or motivated by, affection, it is characterized by self-sacrificing service, and if it can be said to be motivated by anything, it would be motivated by character.  I am of the opinion that since the fall of Adam, only Christ has ever loved God (and therefore others) from a flawless character.  If something truly selfless should flow from a believer, be sure that it does not flow from the character of the believer, but rather from the character of Christ who is in that believer - and this, only in a moment when the believer is genuinely surrendered to the will of God.

But many see only the notion of a greater or superior affection in this word, and are confused therefore when the scriptures explain the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God. They think the command is to have a great affection for God - a warm fuzzy feeling, that is warmer, and fuzzier than any other warm fuzzy feelings you can muster. But what the command is saying is that you are to commit yourself entirely to God, mind, soul, body and strength. It is not a feeling, it is self sacrifice on the altar of God. That is how you became a Christian (you "repented" of your self rule, and accepted entirely God's rule), if in fact you ever became a Christian.

There are all sorts of people in the pew who have never surrendered the rule of their life to God, because they didn't know that doing was necessary to become a Christian. They called upon the king of kings for salvation, while their hearts were firmly set against His rule - and so their prayer deceived them, because they imagined that by it they became Christians, when in fact all that changed was their opinion of their own eternal destination.

If you find yourself in the place where you are questioning whether or not you surrendered to Christ, and are in fear that you perhaps have been living a lie, I counsel you today to see yourself as the unrepentant rebel you truly are, and to call out to the One whose right it is to rule you forevermore, and utterly and genuinely accept the yoke of obedience. You can't do that of course, unless God grants it to you, but the fact that your reading this, and see yourself in danger suggests that God is already working something out in you. Cry out to Him until you are able to call His name Lord, without lying about to yourself and Him. If you give up before then, you haven't lost anything, in fact you've gained an understanding about what sin looks like - it looks like a heart that even in the face of eternal damnation, refuses to accept God's rightful rule.

Oh my! You say. That is harsh! No, friend. That is love (agape). That is exactly what Christ did in coming to earth, that is exactly what Christ did in emptying Himself and becoming a servant. He was able to everyone else , because He lived utterly surrendered to God - at the expense of any concern for Himself. When Christ served others, He wasn't putting his life on hold for a while to do some religious work - He had no life to put aside, having surrendered all of it to God, or put another having "loved" (Agape) God. Listen if you could "love" God in this way, you would already be serving others with the same selflessness and utter commitment that Christ served others. But you can't do that because it isn't in you to do....

Well, that's not entirely true. If Christ is in you, then you are able to do it, or rather Christ is able to do it in and through you.

Did you see what I did there?

God is at work in the believer, to will and to do God's good pleasure. If Christ is in you, you may fellowship with Him by surrendering the rule of your life in this moment to His will. When you are thus surrendered you are "loving" God - it isn't an emotion, though you shouldn't be surprised if the certainty that you are right with God makes you feel warm and fuzzy. It isn't the feeling that is agape, it is the surrender, if some affection follows (phileo), and it always has for me, then that is great, but it isn't the goal. The goal is love, that is, surrender.

In closing, I should mention a thing or two about grace. have you seen in this post some truth you hadn't seen previously? If so it was not my explanation, nor was it your intellect that allowed you to see it. God was gracious. Period. If this is the first time you have heard these things, check the scriptures and convince yourself from them, and not from what I have written, that these things are so. If you find them to be false, then say so, perhaps I have misunderstood these things myself - I am fallible and I welcome valid correction when it is given for my benefit and not for another's pride. If you have questions, ask them in the meta, I will answer them as best as I can.

Having said this, I struggle to surrender my own life to Christ - that is, I struggle with the greatest commandment - to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. But I am not struggling with trying to muster up, as some do, a motivating affection - I am struggling with the primary Christian struggle, I, that is, my "old man" doesn't want to be ruled, it wants to rule. God's word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to my path, but I must walk that path, and it is not about what I "do" but about whom I serve, myself or God. Knowing where the struggle is, I can work out my own salvation (from rebellion/sin) with fear and trembling. I am simply inviting you to see that this is what normal Christianity should be focusing on.

I tell you the reason I am not a pastor today is because I am not there yet. How can I, in good conscience, accept a pastoral position, when it means that I haven't personally walked down the path it is my job to set others upon? How can I counsel the struggles of another, when I haven't overcome them myself? The scriptures are clear on this matter - except that a man is filled with the Spirit, he should not be an elder (pastor). One of the reasons the modern church is so impotent is because people are qualified according to their scholarship and personality rather than according to their love.

You who want to be a pastor... Do you even have a wife? If you do, are you truly setting your own life aside, having committed yourself to enriching hers at the expense of your own? How about children? Are you selflessly serving them - teaching your family the way they should go, by walking in surrender yourself? If you cannot do this for those whom you are most affectionate, how will you do this for those you have no affection for? It is good to desire the office of a pastor, but I think is a colossal mistake to enter into it while these things are still being worked out.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Consider this well known exchange:

Jesus: do you agapao me? (do you utterly sacrifice yourself to me?)
Peter: I phileo you. (I have a great affection for you)

Jesus: do you agapao me? (do you utterly sacrifice yourself to me?)
Peter: I phileo you. (I have a great affection for you)

Jesus: "do you phileo me?" (do you truly have a great affection for me?)
Peter: I phileo you. (I have a great affection for you)

Consider these passages also:
For Demas, in love (AGAPAO) with this present world (i.e. having committed himself entirely over to this present world), has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica - 2 Timothy 4:10 [ESV]

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved (AGAPAO) the darkness (i.e. having sacrificed given themselves entirely over to the darkness) rather than the light because their works were evil. - John 3:19 [ESV]

for they loved (AGAPAO) the glory that comes from man (i.e. they were utterly committed to seeking glory from man) more than the glory that comes from God. - John 12:43 [ESV]
posted by Daniel @ 10:43 AM   11 comment(s)
 
 
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