H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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I Affirm This
The Nashville Statement
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.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

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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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Four weeks today!

posted by Daniel @ 1:07 PM   9 comment(s)
Monday, February 27, 2006
Ski Bunnies.

No, I am not really talking about large, albino rodents. I am talking about the people who come to ski resorts but never ski.

You know the kind - these people go every weekend, they buy all the ski clothes, hats, mitts, the more trendy and visible the better. They hang out in the resort's club and talk about skiing and snowboarding, and they are well read. They know all the right gear (they even have it), they read all the right magazines, and if you want to discuss which wax to use, they can talk for hours.

They love talking about skiing, and snowboarding, and winter sports in general, and after some time they become real experts - disdaining those who do not have as much knowledge as they themselves have. They have their heroes, and they have their own fans, but they never get out on the slopes themselves. They are in love with the skiing/snow boarding culture, and not with skiing or snowboarding itself.

There are "Christians" who are just like that. They come to church, read all the materials, and hang around with the people who actually go out and live Christian lives - yet they themselves have only an external religion. Christianity is a "form" to them, and they imagine that being a Christian means to wear a label, and if you are gung-ho enough, to even press yourself into that same form.

No profound thoughts today - just that illustration. Have a good day today people, and by good I mean get out on the slopes.

posted by Daniel @ 7:06 AM   6 comment(s)
Friday, February 24, 2006
Drawing the line...
The Caner/White debate is capturing some attention momentarily in the Christian blogsphere. Not being a southern Baptist, nor having a stomach for what really amounts to politics, I haven't been following it too closely.

It did get me to thinking however, about some of the places we as Christians draw lines.

Unity in Doctrine
There are academic theologians today who are not Christians. Not that they have heard a false gospel, or have joined the wrong church - I mean that their interest in Christianity and theology is entirely academic. They don't pretend to be saved, or even believe in God. They openly pursue theology, not as a spiritual interest, but as an intellectual one.

You might find it surprising that some of these academic theologians agree with you doctrinally, that is, no matter what your particular theological bent happens to be, you are very likely in doctrinal unity with many atheistic theologians.

My point is not to belittle your doctrine - surely yours is correct, the point is that doctrinal unity has nothing whatsoever to do with Christian unity.

That might be a hard pill to swallow if you have invested yourself in thinking to the contrary, but I stand on it. NOTHING to do with Christian unity.

Unity in Christ
While the unsaved, <insert favorite seminary> educated, doctor of theology might agree with you doctrinally, there can be no "unity in Christ" between the two of you because he (or she) is not "in Christ."

We accept that every believer is "in Christ" positionally and even forensically, yet not all Christians are "in the Spirit." It is Christianity 101 I know, but allow me to spell it out for the newbies, you are placed in Christ the moment you are saved, but you are not "in the Spirit" but "in the flesh" so long as you live with your mind set on the flesh and not the things of the Spirit. That is, if you're not living moment by moment in continuing obedience to the Spirit of life, you're in fact living in the flesh - and as long as this remains the case every Christian endeavor you pour yourself into will only produce "carnal" results (that which is born of the flesh is flesh after all).

So everyone who is a child of God will have "unity in Christ" - but this unity is forensic - that is, it is declared and true even though that declaration doesn't come with an "experience" (ie. a man who is married goes from being "single" to being "married" - it is a real change, but there is no experiential or fundamental change to the individual (he doesn't suddenly have a "married" feeling)...)

This unity therefore is foundational and positional, I have a brother, but that doesn't mean that he and I get along...

Unity in the Religion/Denomination
This is very similar to unity in doctrine in that you don't have to be born again to experience it. Islamists, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormans, and Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Presbyterians, (to name a few) experience unity in their religion or denomination- that is, for the most part they agree upon the way they will conduct themselves according to religious or denominational standards. It is a unity of "practice" if you will.

Unity in the Spirit
Where unity in Christ is forensic, unity in the Spirit is experiential. These are Christians who are living the crucified life - that is, they are not ignoring the Spirit of God within them - but obeying Him. These will have genuine unity in proportion to their obedience to God's Spirit.

Note: I have been on about this in the past week or so, so bear with me for restating myself here: I stand justified before God because Christ's righteousness has been imputed to me - and only because Christ's righteousness has been imputed to me. Some err at this point however. They think that our job is to be filled with gratitude, and in the strength of our gratitude we should obey the law - and they label this obedience as "sanctification" - that is, they imagine that sanctification is a human work empowered by a grateful heart. This paints sanctification as something you do for God rather than something God does to you.

While it is right to remember that our own righteousness counts for a hill of beans when it comes to being justified - that doesn't mean that we never acquire personal righteousness in the Christian walk. If we imagine that we never really acquire genuine righteousness we are saying there is no such thing as sanctification. The trouble is, we think of righteousness in terms of orthopraxy proper Christian conduct, rather than setting ourselves apart for God's holy purpose through continual obedience to God's Spirit. Our "righteousness" doesn't come from obeying the law, but obeying the Spirit who penciled that law. We don't become sanctified by "acting sanctified" - but by submitting ourselves to God who sanctifies us.

I hope you get that: Holiness comes from the Spirit of God, and not from actions that appear holy. When we obey God's Spirit, denying ourselves, God begins to sanctify us - He changes us from within. It isn't a mind game, it isn't an intellectual decision, it is a genuine miracle that happens - we change, our old self dies day by day, and our new self lives.

That is why there is unity in the Spirit - because there is perfect unity amongst those who have died to themselves, it is only amongst those who are still in their death throes that we find disagreements.

End of Unity Types
We could make more, or have fewer "types" of unity, the point isn't to see how many ways we can define unity, the point is to identify what constitutes genuine Christian unity. There are really only two types of unity, in Christ, and in the Spirit. The unity in Christ is familial, while the unity in the Spirit is practical.

The bottom line is that practical unity isn't doctrinal, it is spiritual. The church has no unity unless men are obedient to the Spirit of God. The answer to the question,
"If Jesus could tolerate Judas without ever giving the impression that they were doctrinally at odds, why can't -we- all get along?"
is simple - we cannot expect to behave like Jesus unless we are obedient to the same Spirit that Jesus was obedient to.

Until the church wakes from its slumber, there will be no practical "unity" - though we might experience a more pragmatic unity - denominational, religious, or doctrinal. But that isn't fellowship, it is just intellectual agreement.
posted by Daniel @ 7:03 AM   31 comment(s)
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Sony Peg-TH55

This is a Sony PEG-TH55 Palm Pilot.

Mine died about two weeks ago - after I zapped it with a static charge. I tried everything, but it was dead as a door-nail. I took it apart, I looked at this and that, wiggled some wires - nothing. I tried hard resetting it, soft resetting it, resetting it when it was on the charge, hard resetting it on the charge - you name it, I tried it all. Dead, dead, dead.

Slowly, over the course of these past days the charge in the battery dissipated.

My last hope was that once the battery was completely discharged, I might be able to recharge it once again. So last night I tried it - still dead. I put it on the charger for an hour and gave it a shot.

It worked.

You might not find that very interesting - but I have been praying that God would give me insight into living right before him. And that insight comes by way of the "spin" my understanding of scripture can put on events.

When the palm pilot was zapped, the battery was still fully charged, and I don't doubt that it was because of that static discharge that a diode (an electronic switch) inside my palm pilot went zener (diodes allow current to flow in only one direction through the circuit - if you apply a great enough voltage to the diode however, it can "open" and allow current to flow backwards - this backward flow is described as the "zener" potential. All diodes have a zener rating, and once they go zener, they stay zener till the flow stops.) My hope therefore was that rather than frying an FET (Field Effect Transmitters are notoriously easy to fry...), I was hoping that I had a zener issue. It was a long shot, but it was my last shot.

The picture therefore is that of an electronic device that is fully charged and even electronically sound - but in a zener state and utterly useless until the charge is entirely gone and a new charge given.

In my zeal however, I kept hoping that I could charge it up before it was actually discharged. So for the first couple of days, I would put it on the charger and try it again. It was still dead. In fact, had I put it on the charger every day, it would still be dead today, because the charge was the very thing that was keeping it dead.

Not unlike self effort in our Christian walk. We try and become better, deeper Christians by doing those activities that we imagine better and deeper Christians do. We pour our effort into our Christian experience just as I was pouring electricity into my palm pilot - but no matter what effort we make, it doesn't help the fact that we are dead, dead, dead. Just as charging my palm pilot arrested the possibility that my palm pilot would come back to life - so too, everything we do that isn't born of faith keeps Christ from living in us.

Just as my palm pilot could not "come back to life" until it was completely dead, so too, no Christian can claim to be alive until they have died with Christ on the cross.
posted by Daniel @ 10:42 AM   2 comment(s)
Haven't posted in a few...
Been busy - I will try and post later today.
posted by Daniel @ 9:49 AM   3 comment(s)
Monday, February 20, 2006
Winter Ride.
A couple of months ago, I put my key into my 2000 Dodge Caravan (yes, I have kids), and something odd happened. The key wouldn't turn. Not that the van wouldn't start, but that prior to actually having a chance of starting, the key itself would not turn in the ignition.

It was as if I had the wrong key. I pulled it out, tried again, and vroom! The van worked fine. I think I said, "Pffft" in my mind, and forgot about it. But a couple of days later it happened again - this time in a parking lot. I had stopped in at a staples to buy a laser printer, and when I got back in the van to go - the key wouldn't turn again. I fiddled with it for about 20 minutes pulling it out, putting it back, etc. and suddenly, and inexplicably it worked.

By that point I was concerned. This was not "right" as far as I was concerned.

Now, I like to give a lot of history so my points make more sense contextually - and that is why I mention that I typically buy Japanese vehicles: they are simply better made - they wear out, they don't break down, there is a difference. Every vehicle I have ever had from Japan has been solid, and every vehicle I have ever had from an American manufacturer has been less than solid.

I had a Dodge Dart (straight six) that would start in any weather - I don't care what you did to that car it would start. I expect you could have hauled it out from the bottom of a frozen lake, chipped the ice away just enough to turn the ignition, and it would have made the whar-whar-whar-whar-whar sound that it makes no matter what the weather is, and after a few turns it would have caught and started. Thus I am not frowning upon American vehicles (or Dodges in particular) and their ability to do what they were designed to do - that is I have no complaints about the ability of the motor to start once ignition actually takes place. My beef with American vehicles is that they break down, some three cent piece goes, and because it is buried beneath the dash or the steering column it takes $700 worth of labor to fix it, and the vehicle is useless until you do. That sort of engineering baffles me.

Not that I think it was an American Engineer who made the decision, I picture the board room meeting like this:

Engineer: Well, we could fortify that piece, but that might triple the cost from three cents to nine cents. Likewise, because of the wear and tear on that piece and the pieces connected to it, we might want to put some bracing in there to minimize the wear - and we could position it so that if we do have to change it we could minimize the labor costs in repairing it.

Manager: Listen tech-boy, we already have an after-market division, they worry about that stuff. My reputation depends on my producing this vehicle as cheaply as possible, who cares if the thing wears out - our primary goal is sales, not service - and if it should break, we cash in on the labor.

Engineer: (screaming as they drag him from the room), you can't do that to people - one day they will see what....(door slam)...

The point is I am not a great fan of how the 2000 Dodge Caravan works - it breaks down in costly little ways and this bizarre key thing is just the next straw. Before you mechanics star wondering if it isn't the immobilization chip in the key - I don't have one of those. The keys have no chips, it isn't that I wiped a key and only one key doesn't work - none of the keys work, and none have chips in them. I expect it has something to do with the locking of the steering column - it doesn't seem to lock when this happens - but that is neither here nor there. The bottom line is that my van is a cash vacuum, and I hate it with all my soul, but in a thankful, Christian, way ;-)

On Thursday last week we had a friend over for supper, and afterwards I drove him home. I parked the car and shut it off, and it has remained locked there since. I have sat there trying to turn the key - fidgeting, hammering, turning the wheel, trying to shift it, playing with the tilt - you name it, I have done it in the freezing cold.

It ain't moving.

So on Sunday morning my family stayed home from church. As a member of our leadership team, and as the primary teacher for the adult bible study (basically a 45 minute interactive sermon), I both look forward to that time, and am expected to show up. The walk to church takes about 45 minutes in good weather. By 8:30 a.m. I was still unsure on what I should teach. The service starts at 10:00 a.m. - so you can do the math. I have learned not to fret over such things. It isn't my message after all, so I don't mind going to the pulpit with nothing, God is able to give me something just as I need it, and He has done so many times. That being said, my stated preference is to go with a full study in hand, and to that end I stayed at home and prepared (that is, I prayed). By the time I was done I had a few verses, nothing special, but I have learned to trust the Lord even when I have only a little.

Glancing at the time, I knew I wasn't going to make it, and though it wasn't too late to call anyone, I had been playing with the idea of riding my bike to church. At this point it might be prudent to remind the gentle reader what Winnipeg looks like in February:

That isn't my family, that is another family altogether, whom I don't know, but the photo is right on the money. Snow, and lots of it. I should mention it is also cold.

Yet, because we are Canadian, we are used to snow, and even as it might seem odd to some to cycle in it, we are a pragmatic people, almost stupid in our pragmatism, but I digress. It is enough to say that no matter what the weather, you will find die-hards cycling in Winnipeg. I am reminded of the old movie version of the Wizard of Oz where someone riding a bicycle flies past the window during the twister - it was probably a Winnipegger.

So I rode to church and it was great. I really enjoyed it, and didn't find it all that difficult - church is only a couple of miles away, so it was no big jaunt.

This morning however, I checked the temperature - only ten below - that is practically spring up here in Manitoba. Our blood is like syrup most of the year, and ten below is practically shorts and tee-shirt weather. I knew that because of the windchill it would be colder riding - but I couldn't ask for better weather to cycle to work in.

So I made up my mind to cycle to work. I wasn't sure what to wear, surely my rain pants, long underwear and jeans, as well as my waterproof hiking boots, mitts, flannel head band, and riding helmet - but what do I wear on my torso. I don't want my neck to get too cold, nor to I want to be bundled up so tight that riding is difficult. I opted for layers. A good plaid quilted thermal shirt under a flannel pull over - and my rain jacket over these as a windbreak. I took an extra flannel jacket in my back pack, in case I needed it, and left for work.

In the summer, the 10 miles to work goes pretty quick - usually between 35 and 45 minutes depending on traffic. I anticipated it taking at least an hour, as the road conditions will be slippery, meaning I don't want to turn with any celerity or I may wipe out and get run over by some other vehicle - surely, if it is slippery enough for me to wipe out, it is too slippery to expect 2 tons of screaming metal to stop for me.

To make a long story shorter, it took an hour and a half, and I was quite winded for the effort. I have to qualify that a bit - I think it is lunacy to ride a bike in February on busy Winnipeg streets. It is only "risky" to do so on not so busy streets. The snow on the "not so busy streets" is not so packed down as on the busy streets, and that makes peddling through it more work than one would expect - work that is exaggerated by wearing bulky clothes and not being able to drink any water (the water bottle freezes solid in about ten minutes).

So by the time I got to work I was feeling pretty tired. I should have had breakfast, or at least drank a bit more before heading out. And no one mentioned anything about how hard a frozen bike seat is??

The trip home should be fun. I think I won't be doing this again for another couple of months.
posted by Daniel @ 10:03 AM   12 comment(s)
Friday, February 17, 2006
Mummery and Flummery
When I think of a mummer, I think of those medieval troupes of actors dressed in elaborate and motley costume. You know the ones with the horse heads, and antlers, and goatskins etc. The more pagan, motley or grotesque, the more likely it will be found in such a troupe. I picture a loud procession as such a troupe parades itself through some medieval village square, sending chickens, goats, and yapping dogs scurrying for cover. Into the cacaphony of the moment they dance and holler and whoop around - all for the purpose of drumming up some hype: hoping that this same hype will translate into a few "coppers" later on in the evening - when the townfolk come to see the show.

And when I think of flummery, I think of mummery. The two words are, in my estimation, synonymous.

There is a church in my city that I also think of when I think of flummery or mummery - and it is the church that my own parents attend. It is the standard, ultra-liberal, Trend Driven™ church.

My friend, whom I mentioned a few quotes ago (see Lottery Tickets), replied today to my published rejoinder, speaking about the sad estate of his own brother's faith. He apparently had a disagreement with his brother recently over the "prosperity gospel" that is being spoon fed to the mega-congregationalists over at his brother's mega-church (the same church as my parents.)

His brother is convinced that the "gab it and grab it" gospel is the real deal, and so he has spent the last couple of years trying to figure out why God isn't making him rich. Surely, since they also preach the "word faith" stuff there, he ought to be able to speak it into existence if God refuses to pay up.

It hasn't occurred to my friend's brother that his pastor is actually a mummer dressed up as a pastor, and frankly, that is the problem.

I think there should be a law that says if you are going to be a mummer, you should have to dress like one, so that the simple folk will see you for what you are.
posted by Daniel @ 2:12 PM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Everyone and his mother knows why the networks and the print journals haven't shown the cartoons -- they fear Muslims blowing up their buildings and stabbing their editors to death. The only people who deny this are the news media. They all claim that they won't show the cartoons because of sensitivity to Muslim feelings.
posted by Daniel @ 9:31 AM   4 comment(s)
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Are Lottery Tickets Wrong?
A few years ago a good friend of mine offered to "disciple" two other Christian gentleman in my acquaintance. Being friends with all three, I offered my basement as a meeting place - where we would meet twice a week for a bible study, prayer, and Christian conversation. This went on for about two years, and I got a lot out of it.

One of the fellows continues to attend my church, but the other approached our senior pastor seeking advice, and when he didn't receive the answer he was hoping, left the church.

That was a couple of years ago already. He has had a lot of struggle in his walk - constantly asking for advice through email, and I have enjoyed giving what advice I feel comfortable or qualified to give. In the last year he seemed to make some progress, having found a church that seemed to agree with him, and as such the nature of his emails have changed from "help help" to "what do you think about such and such."

I received a signature style email today - the subject line was "Allo" (he is French you see), and the body of the letter was a simple one word question, "are lottery tickets wrong?" - no capitals - just that.

I quickly jotted out a reply, but I thought I ought to post it as it might be of some use to someone. I replaced his name in the correspondence with [Dan's Friend] - I hope that isn't too confusing. ;-P

Hi [Dan's Friend],

This question identifies one of the basic problems with modern Christianity - did you know that?

The first question any right thinking new convert is going to ask is "How do I go about 'being' a Christian?" - they ask this because now that they are saved they may feel the sudden overwhelming weight of their own inadequacy with regards to the awesome task of never sinning again and living every moment from here on in for God's glory (two things that most people who have never read the bible automatically presume)

They typically ask -this- question of some person whom they regard to be qualified enough to comment on it. Pastors are a favorite, since the new convert typically presumes that in order to become a pastor one must be more spiritual than those who are not pastors. Sadly in today's Christianity, Pastors are typically trained academically and ordained regardless of where they are at spiritually. That means that many pastors don't have the first idea about what being a Christian looks like either. Really, it is my opinion and conviction that most Christians (and many pastors) are utterly ignorant about "how" to be a Christian.

Now you might be asking yourself, what does that have to do with my question Daniel? That is, why do you take a simple question about a lottery ticket and turn it into something I didn't even ask about?

Patience, [Dan's Friend], patience. I will get around to it. You ask a good question, and I want to give a good answer.

Assuming we have escaped the glamour churches, the fad churches, and the cult churches - and found ourselves in one of those ever so rare "bible believing" churches - the kind where they encourage you to read your bible for yourself and pray - then you are half way there! Half of the way there, I say, because the instruction you will likely have received will not be as diluted as it could have been.

I expect that in such a church you will have been told that in order to be a "good Christian" you needed to do three things: 1) Pray. 2) Read your bible daily. 3) stop sinning. This message isn't always communicated verbally either...

Well isn't that great!

If you do those things faithfully, you will grow in the knowledge of scripture while simultaneously becoming a great hypocrite in your own understanding!!

"Huh?" - you say, I wasn't expecting that Daniel. Why would you say that? Don't you always encourage me to pray and read my bible? Are you not the one who is being the hypocrite??

Actually, by now you should know full well that no matter how you read your bible and pray, you haven't stopped sinning, and what little "victory" you have had over sin is not unlike the victory of the Pharisees, in that all your victory is external, as opposed to internal. You have developed good habits that keep you from sinning outwardly. With time and patience, you have managed to change your external behavior to such a degree that everyone thinks you are quite holy - but you know that while you have chopped off all the branches - the roots are still there, and that sin is very, very much alive in you. You have gotten to a place where you are no longer dealing with the outward expressions of sin - your struggle is now internal - your thought life, your motives, your lovelessness - your deep down lifelessness. You thought that stopping yourself from committing sin would make it all better - and now having gone as far as the flesh can take you, you are as good and as righteous as any NT Pharisee - the outside of your cup is finally looking clean - but the inside is dirty. You know yourself to be a whitewashed tomb - outside you are all clean and shiny, inside you are full of death.

I expect that most Christians never get to this state, let alone move past it. Those who do come to the place where they realize that "keeping the law" doesn't change their heart anymore than it changed the hearts of a Pharisees. This truth brings a despair that either produces deliverance or indifference.

In my own walk it produced a sort of indifference. I began to care less and less about the "Christian walk" since I had seen "the wall" - I had grit my teeth in unparalleled effort, and held myself off of sin - taxing my every thought for weeks on end - by sheer will I had kept myself from every known sin - and when I collapsed beneath the effort I understood one thing - sin -utterly- owned me. I was sin's slave and my efforts hadn't changed that one bit. The best I could hope for, it seemed, was a clean "outside" - but inside I knew I would always desire to sin. The best I could hope for - or so my favorite "experts" said - was to "sin less, and feel guilty more."

Ah, this life that God was giving me, was certainly more abundant... The more effort I put into keeping myself from sin - the greater my disappointment with myself, and my Christianity. How could I have rivers of life flowing out of me when my every thought was directed against the sin in my life?

As I said - when one stands at the end of oneself, you either get indifferent or you get delivered. I got indifferent.

I began to see that the "Christianity" I had been fed was really just Judaism "avec Savior" - that is, the only difference between myself and a "good Jew" was that I knew what Who the old testament sacrifices pictured. That is, the gospel that was saving me, was not saving me from sin's power, but only from sin's penalty - just as the Jew was saved from sin's penalty through the sacrificial system, so too, I was saved from sin's penalty through the sacrificial system. Christ was my sacrifice - I was justified because of Christ - but I was living without victory in my life. Every Christian around me seemed content that this was all there was. The happy handshake in church, the bible studies and prayers - it didn't matter whether you liked them or not - you should go to such things because you are a Christian, and Christians are supposed to like such things. Soon I began to feel myself a hypocrite - a religionist. I had traded Christianity for religion. If I missed a prayer meeting, I was worried what people would think. If I didn't study the bible, I was worried what people would think. I had convinced myself that this was Christianity, and worse than this: I was becoming quite good at it. Yes, I failed in my sin life (not outwardly, as I was not a smoker, drinker, didn't look at porn, kept my life spotless, etc. etc.) inside me was not a well of sweet water churning out into others - what ever sweet water was in me had to be pumped out with great effort, and was always and ever in danger of pollution from the bitter water that was ever present. Sin was still present with me - the one who wanted to do good!

Frankly, I was a carnal Christian - though for all the world and the church I looked to be the very model of a holy Christian. I began to confess my sins less and less - after all, I couldn't change the internal stuff, and having developed some good habits, the outward stuff was practically non existent. Well, there were a couple of areas that were still blatantly sinful - but I was like a man trying to keep the lid on a hundred pots - for every ten pots I might slap a lid on, one would fall off - and while I was over there putting that one on, another would fall. But because I had come to believe that there really was no cure for this - I more of less stopped trying. I would pray feeling out of fellowship, and just told myself that God heard me no matter what my feelings said. I would ask forgiveness with as much gusto as a man asks another to pass the sugar. I was empty, and getting dry.

Yet didn't scripture say that there was something the law couldn't do?

If we look at that verse we find at the end of Romans five we see that, "sin reigned in death" - I meditated on that because it isn't how we would say it in English is it? Sin reigned in death - it was like a riddle sort of. What did it look like?

I realized one day that it was actually pretty simple: Whatever affects me, such that I have no control over it, but it has control over me - this is something that reigns in my life. Sin was reigning in my life producing the same death in me that it produces in everyone. Put another, I had no control over sin in my life and it was producing death in me.

Well, that's nice. I mean, it is nice to see that my experience was lining up nicely with scripture. I could say plainly - "Uh-huh. That's me. Yup." That is how sin works - we have no choice in the matter, sin wells up from within us and controls our desires making us want to obey it - and there isn't a sweet thing in all the world we can do about that. All the commandments and deuteronomical laws, best practices, or even pious suggestions couldn't change it - the law was helpless to deliver me from this sin. My "best case scenario" was to resist the desires that continually rose up in me - resist them like a good little Jew. The law didn't get rid of "the sin" it just pointed it out.

Yet In the same verse Paul compares that with what I now see as the Christian "coup de grace!" Paul said, that wherever sin was reigning, grace was more abundant - and that "grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I had to chew on that for a long time, but it was how Paul introduced the discussion in Romans Six. Basically he was saying, that where sin used to produce desire in you and thereby control you, Christians had something new available - a "righteous desire" that would produce life in them. Not just the standard "I want to be righteous so that I don't have to feel bad about sin" desire that every faithful Jew could claim without ever having to touch Romans six - nope, this was talking (I believe) about a desire that wells up from within you to do good instead of having that wicked desire to do evil.

With this the old testament prophets agree - Ezekiel speaks of the new heart - the one that obeys. We (all of us) pretend like we have it, but our obedience is typically no better than any faithful Jew; Into the vacuum of this thought, I began to suspect that we really were kidding ourselves in a major way. We were confusing and blurring the line between the eternal gospel and the new covenant.

What Paul was saying in Romans six was that you and I were put into Christ (immersed) such that when Christ was crucified, you and I were also crucified. Not a spiritual shell and pea prestidigitation, but a forensic reality. You and I were literally placed into Jesus. When God poured out His wrath on us, we didn't experience it, rather Christ did - that is, Jesus kept us alive just as the ark kept Noah and his family alive when God poured His wrath on the earth. We were -in- Christ when God poured his wrath on that sinful part of us that was disposed to disobedience - our "old self" to use Paul's words. When Christ took that "sinful self" into Himself, He did so in order that God could slay the old man and render him utterly, and eternally powerless to rule over us. We were really there - scripture says so, Christ died in order to take that self of ours right down into the grave with Him. Wow.

There are some ramifications to that truth: If God destroyed the part of me that was enslaved to sin (that is, desired sin), then I am truly free from sin already - that is, there is nothing I personally need to accomplish to make that true, it is true whether I accept it as true or not.

"Wait!" you cry, "I am not experiencing that truth!"

That may be correct. This is a truth that is experienced only by those who 1) believe it, and who 2) truly want to experience it.

We might say, wait, I believe that is true, and I really, really, really want to experience it. But we are morbid liars after all - lying to ourselves. The harsh truth is that Christians continue to sin because they want to sin. We really like sinning, and even though Christ has set us free from it, we still prefer to follow sin than to live a holy life.

Here is where some of us make a vulgar mistake in our reasoning - we imagine that we sin because "we have no choice" but in reality we sin because we are not willing to set our sin aside - we simply love it too much. We want to rule our own life, because deep down we don't trust that doing it God's way will make us happy. Oh, we are sinful indeed!

Jeremiah asks, "Can a leopard change its spots, or an Ethiopian his skin?" - the answer of course is, no. So we also fall back to our former reasoning - how can we suddenly stop wanting to sin?? I want to "want" to be free from sin - that is the piece that I am missing. I know I shouldn't want to sin - yet the desire is in me and I cannot do a thing about it. What do I do??

Thankfully, The answer is found in the second verse of Romans 8, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Really, Romans 8:2 is (in my opinion) the answer to the ultimate Christian question (or the UCQ as I like to call it): "How do I go about being a Christian?"

You see, if we try and be a Christian by following rules (the law) - the best we can do is establish an external holiness. We become (at best) Pharisees - cleaning the outside of the cup.

Verse three of chapter eight goes on to tell us that what the law could not do (destroy the rule of sin in our life) God did by sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh (on account of sin) God condemned sin in the flesh. Following a rule book has never freed a person from sin - nor could it ever. Obeying the law (that is: "trying to be good") doesn't clean the inside of the cup, and never could - it only cleans the outside. If we are willing to be honest - we will go so far as to admit that following the law doesn't even do a great job of that either...

The second verse gives us the information we need to learn how to clean the inside of the cup- and "the way" is not found in keeping a set of rules, but in obeying the law of the Spirit of Life.

Oh, here is simplicity brother - grasp this and never let it go - in order to be "being" a Christian, you simply obey the Spirit of life - that is, you allow yourself to be ruled by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus lived his entire life in utter obedience to the Holy Spirit. Jesus was God, the second Person of the Trinity - but when He came to earth He lived as a man. Everything that Jesus did, He did in the power of, and in obedience to - the Holy Spirit. Everything.

In Christ, God answered every promise He made regarding the new covenant - Jesus was the first man to live under that new covenant, manifesting to the world that God the Father is a promise keeping God.

One thing we must pull out of Romans six - that until Christ went into the grave, he wasn't raised up in newness of life. Likewise, until we reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin, we cannot expect newness of life. No one rises from the crypt who hasn't first gone down into it. There is no newness of life until there is a "newness of death" (if you will), that is, anyone who is not living the crucified life should not claim to be living victoriously as a Christian - there is no victory without the cross.

Paul wasn't preaching some mumbo-jumbo - he was preaching the Christian life itself and how to live it; he was prying apart (if you will) the old way from the new - dragging them out into the light to show that one was not the other. Previously Jews (and God fearing Gentiles) lived in obedience to the law (as best they could) and looked to God to forgive their sins by placing those sins on a propitiatory sacrifice. The Jew kept the law, and when the Jew failed he asked for forgiveness trusting that the blood of sacrifice (and ultimately the sacrifice that it pictured) to save him from sin's penalty. He had no recourse in the old covenant to deal with sin's power. Anyone who is doing the same is not living in the new covenant - they are a "saved" and God fearing Gentile (possessed of more light than an OT Jew) - but they are not living in the truth of the new covenant, and it would be presumptuous to call them a "Christian" - though now, we apply the terms "christian" and "born again" to people who are saved regardless of whether they are born from above and have Christ living through them nor not. I draw a hard line between the two - having understood (or so I beleive) that the gospel is not the new covenant - but this is a side issue, and I don't want to tire you with it for now.

In the new covenant, you didn't obey the law for righteousness, now you were under grace, and the righteousness that was available to you was two fold - first, Christ's own perfect righteousness was accounted to you on the cross - your sins were punished there, and you were justified once and forever. Secondly, the power of sin was broken (this was the new covenant; not to be confused with "the eternal gospel"), God saved Abraham the same way he saves you - by grace through faith, not of yourself it is a gift of God - the gospel has remained the same throughout every covenant - God only saves one way - and it ain't by works!

So Paul was saying that in this new covenant, things are different - God has dealt with the power of sin, so the "man of God" doesn't walk in "the way" of an old testament Jew - but now walks in a new way - the way described in Romans eight and verse two.

The Christian is supposed to understand that the part of him that loves to sin has been crucified with Christ -- therefore sin really has -no- power over him, because he himself has actually died and that death released him from sin's rule. He is not to go about trying to keep the law - there is no sanctification in that - rather he is to keep the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus - for it is this law that sets him free.

Okay, that means that if we understand what the law of the Spirit of life is, we have the whole Christian experience wrapped up in a nutshell yes??

Yes. That is what it means.

Okay, so what does it mean? It means that it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to make us holy - that our one and only duty is to love Christ through obeying the Holy Spirit's promptings. Obedience to the Spirit is simple - do what God's Spirit directs you to do. In doing --this-- God sanctifies you. As you turn to the Spirit for guidance, for strength; as you confess your sin and your desire to be free from sin- God begins to give you insight into sin. You begin to see it for what it is.

You see sin as an all consuming treason that is a lodestone around your neck as you plummet into the depths of the sea - it is an ugly, hateful thing that is destroying you and everything around you - it deserves no fellowship with you - and when your eyes finally start to focus on it -- you begin to truly seek freedom from it. You begin to pray in earnest - not some formula, not some divine limrick - but you pray this and mean it: "Search me, God, try me and know my heart - see if there is any wicked way in me!" - You begin to want to see sin for all its ugliness - you desire God to make you loathe in the same way that He does.

You begin to reckon with God that sin ought to be destroyed - you begin to see the cross as the place where that happened - and you begin to want to drag that sin that is in your life there yourself. God works this in your heart when you begin to really seek Him instead of the religion that we commonly pursue instead of God.

When you begin to understand the Holy Spirit's ministry in your life - to open your eyes to the things of God - to minister to you, and make you truly holy - to set you apart for God's own use. As you bring yourself again and again into submission to God's Spirit, you will begin to experience a real fellowship with God - and the sewer that brings up the hateful thoughts, the inward sin that you have never been able to conquer - that very thing will be nailed to the cross from glory to glory - it is nailed there by faith, and the faith that nails it there comes by grace. Only when you agree with God about your sin - truly agree, will you accept it on the cross - will you will begin to be free from it - forever.

THEN, you will get "victory" - not that you brought yourself to that place - but that God brought you through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in dealing with the sin that continues even now to hinder both your walk and your relationship with God (through Christ.)

I am not talking about a sinless perfection or some entire sanctification - being free from sin's power doesn't mean you won't ever sin again, or that you can't sin - all it means is that you won't have a sewer of sin welling up from within- you will certainly be tempted - but the temptations will be external only and not as they are now - welling up from within as well as from without. The fountain in you will not bubble up bitter and sweet water together anymore, but only sweet. It doesn't mean that you can't sin - but rather that you won't have an internal drive to do so. You may still sin in ignorance but the moment you realize a thing is sin, you will have no stomach for it. Likewise, victory doesn't come in an instant - and you may experience the desire for one sin removed, while another is still present - it doesn't happen all at once - but as the part of you that makes you want to sin is rightly reckoned on the cross where Christ put it - and you will begin to experience what Christ died to give you - not Judaism "take two" - but real life, and that more abundantly. As you submit to the Spirit, you will begin to see sin more clearly, and you will also begin to desire to obey.

The Holy Spirit is hindered in doing this as we obey the rule of sin in our life. By that I mean - don't expect to see too many miracles or answered prayers so long as your Christianity remains an outward obedience to "the christian form" and not an inward moment-by-moment submission to the Holy Spirit of God. It isn't for nothing - it is through this submission that God conquers our sin. If you want to be free, stop playing at being a Christian, and start being one.

Bottom line? All one must do as a Christian is obey God. This is both mind-numbingly simple and overwhelmingly profound.

So we come back to your question - are lottery tickets wrong?

My answer is, "What does God say to you?"

Huh? No, seriously; what is God saying to you?

If your answer is: "I don't know" - then you got a real problem, a problem that is much bigger than whether or not you should be buying a lottery ticket. Your problem is that you don't know how to be a Christian - and it is high time you learned. Seriously, if you don't know what God is saying, you are way, way out of fellowship, and might not even know what fellowship looks like anymore. You need to sit down and confess your greatest sin - a prolonged indifference to God's Spirit, a repetitive quenching and grieving that has left you spiritually deaf. You no longer are able to discern God's voice in your life - if ever you were able. This is, as I said, a real problem - because eventually (if you continue to ignore the voice of God) you will no longer be able to hear Him, and unless you hear and obey, you will not function as a genuine Christian is meant to function.

The only reason we ignore the Holy Spirit in our life is because our heart says, "I will not have You rule over me!" - and that can only go on for so long. Our obedience is to the Spirit of Life, not the letter of the law - and in continually ignoring and grieving that Spirit, we do ourselves real damage.

So I am not going to answer this question for you - I am going to (because I love you) tell you to ask God about it - and expect the Holy Spirit to answer you. It won't be in some audible voice - rather it will be this: you will know in your heart if it is right or wrong, if you are willing to hear it. I suspect you already know what the answer truly is.

Beware, I am not counseling you to listen for voices, or wait for impressions - that is mystical nonsense - I am counseling you to recognize that if God's Spirit is in you, you will know deep down inside whether this is right or wrong, and if you are willing to obey that truth, you can be set free. Examine yourself before God in prayer - search for the answer if you are dull of heart, God won't leave you in ignorance if you are sincerely asking for wisdom, but you better believe He is going to answer you or you are wasting your time.

Let me know if after talking to God about it you are still in the dark.


I say - I thought it might be useful to post it - because there are many Christians out there who don't know the first thing about being a Christian - they jump right into theology and bible study - and absolutely miss the most basic tenet of their faith - obedience to God - not obedience to the law - that is Judaism, obedience to God's Spirit - the rule of life; the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
posted by Daniel @ 1:31 PM   7 comment(s)
The Newest Arrival!!
I know, I know, you are probably thinking about the new little boy that has joined our family. But I am not talking about that new arrival. The new arrival I speak of came in the mail.

A few weeks back now, the boys over at the Thirsty Theologian had a contest for joke telling, and having nothing better to do with a few moments, I told a few jokes. One of these jokes was deemed worthy (though I tied with Jonathan Moorhead for top honors - and was selected by lot as the overall winner) as the best of the bunch - and in honor of that title, David Kjos (that man of brevity, wit, and charm), send along a prize - my choice of either a mug or a ball cap with Thirsty Theologian logo on it.

I waited, and waited. And wondered, and waited some more.

Finally it came!

The box was actually quite mangled, it looked like they tried to use it as a table leg for a three ton slab of granite. I mean, it is a sturdy enough piece of cardboard, but there are some stresses that even sturdy cardboard cannot handle.

My guess is that it took so long because the U.S. postal service was embarrassed about botching the job, or perhaps when it came over the border, the Canadian postal service saw how wrecked the box was, and they had to call a meeting to find out what to do about it:
"Should we just send it like that?"
"Hmmm, maybe we could phone the guy and tell him what happened?"
"We don't really know what happened now do we?"
"We could make up a story about it being used as a table leg for a three-"
"Naw - let's just wrap it up in a plastic bag with a note on it that says we're sorry"
"Hey I like that"

So it came wrapped in a very apologetic bag:

In case you can't make it out it says:

We Apologize

Dear Customer (I like the personal touch there)

The enclosed item of mail was either received in this condition or damaged
during its processing. We sincerely regret this unfortunate accident and any
inconvenience it caused. (that is the secular way of saying, "
be warm and

We are always concerned when mail entrusted to our care is damaged and we
have made considerable improvements to reduce such accidents in our operations.
(translation: "Hey - we tried okay??")

Please be assured that we are continuing to make every effort to improve our
service (
except keeping some smaller packages from being stomped by angry

Warning: Please keep this bag away from your children (I suppose after
thrashing my mail, and doing little more than sending me an "
I am justified
in having smashed your mail, never the less I am sorry for having done so
message written on a thoughtful plastic bag - they don't want to make
the problem worse by asphyxiating my children. - it is those special touches
that really warm the heart.)

Okay - at this point, I am very grateful that I opted for the ball cap and not the mug!

I absolutely love the ball cap. It came with a nice little personal note from David - which was very cool - and I don't want to let on what a sentimental fool I am, so I will just say that while I like the cap, I like the thought behind the cap even more.

Anyway, here it is:

Try not to mind the goofball expression on my face. I had to snap the shot with the timer - and I had to get far enough away that the flash didn't wash out the logo. Plus, I wanted to look like a cross between a toy maker, a trucker, and seventies Elvis impersonator - it is a hard look to get when you are in a hurry.

I was worried that the guys over at the Thirsty -T- would think I was an ingrate or something for not having mentioned the cap - truly, I checked my mail box every day and waited like a kid waiting for Christmas. When it finally did come, I saw why they had the delay, and wanted to share that with some humour. Truly, the postal services in both our countries are above reproach most of the time, and since no harm was done to the cap in the sending of it, or in making of this post...

Thanks again guys!
posted by Daniel @ 6:07 AM   11 comment(s)
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Fred over at Hip and Thigh tagged me with this meme, and as I am in need of a few moments of recreational therapy - I will indulge...(even though I did this already) I will change it up a bit though to keep it interesting...

1. Seven things to "make" before I die
- A chain hauberk
- Storm Trooper Armor
- A Star Wars fan film
- my own model of the Jewish Temple
- my own free Greek/Hebrew Interlinear Study tool
- a service that phones a text message in to anywhere..
- a great, big, in-your-face, wooden pulpit

2. Seven common things I have never seen (in person):
- The mountains
- The ocean
- A cave
- A funnel cloud
- An NBA basketball game
- A major league baseball game
- Surfing

3. Seven smells I really like:
- Frying onions
- Fresh coffee
- the dust that fills the air when you're bailing hay
- the thaw after winter
- a newborn babe
- outdoors after a good downpour
- new mown grass

4. Seven things you don't know about me:
- I am half French, half Dutch.
- I am only 5'8" tall.
- I used to practice martial arts - a lot.
- I was once a junkie, and a theif
- I was once in "air cadets"
- I have one pierced ear
- I have blue eyes

5. Seven sweetest memories:
- The birth of each of my children
- The first time I danced with my wife
- The moment I received the Holy Spirit
- The day God utterly eradicated the bitterness I felt towards my father
- Playing hide and seek on the farm at night
- My little brother's Baptism
- The first band I was ever in

6. Seven favorite chapters in the bible:
- Romans six
- Romans eight
- Isaiah fifty-three
- Psalm one
- John fifteen
- Acts two
- Revelation twenty one

7. Seven blogs that look better than mine:
- ...and His ministers a Flame of Fire
- off the main road
- Challies.com
- reflections of the time
- teampyro
- I see daylight
- The Thirsty Theologian

Whew - alright - break time over.

posted by Daniel @ 5:02 PM   16 comment(s)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The Holy Spirit.
I was one of those people who understood intellectually that the Holy Spirit was a person, but for all intents and purposes continued to regard Him as an "it" - well, to be properly reverent I suppose, I regarded Him as the It (note the capital...)

Now, pride is funny, and I mention that at this point because the largest part of me desires to portray myself as an altogether guy - a guy who "gets it" - and like a knight going into battle, I want my armor to be pristine - that is, without holes. So my pride desires that I always present myself to the public world in the best light. If I am struggling with something spiritual, I mustn't mention it, or I will look like a "spiritual newbie" (gasp~!) and surely, whatever respect I have earned by my mighty show of spirituality will dissolve, leaving me as the fool amongst my peers.

Then, because pride is a pendulum, it swings the other way, and says, if you are going to open up, go all the way, impress and silence them with your bold humility.

Truly, pride is as controlling as it is ugly, as it is deceitful.

So I will toss caution to the wind because frankly, it is 4:30 a.m., I am awake with my thoughts, and I am having one of those all too rare times where I really don't care how I am perceived. What I have to say would only be polluted if I worried about my own image.

Scripture describes Him as our Helper and our Counselor. Because my mindset routinely and clandestinely regards Him as an It, it is my natural habit to presume the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life is passive. Now, when I say passive, I mean that I understand that while He is active, doing whatever He does - my role (in His ministry) is passive, that is, I am the recipient of His ministry - He ministers to me.

That isn't wrong, per se, but it also isn't complete. He is certainly ministering to you and I regardless of our own input - He is (after all) our Helper, and we therefore receive His help, because God is merciful, generous, and full of grace, and like a loving Parent nutures His children, He ministers to us in the person of the Holy Spirit whether we understand it or not. In that sense, His help is passive.

But I have been neglect in praying to the Holy Spirit for counsel.

Now, I am not talking about a sort of spiritual tomfoolery that looks to God the Holy Spirit as being involved in providing mystical instruction, as though I asked a question and waited for some "impression." That sort of buffoonery is pure flummery to me, and beneath contempt. Yet I am talking about the Holy Spirit's ministry to me.

If you were asked, "What is the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life; that is, more than 'Why did Jesus (and God the Father) send the Holy Spirit to you?' but also, 'How is the Holy Spirit doing this in your life?'" what would you answer?

If you are like me, you would probably answer the standard knee-jerk verse or two that gave a nice proof-text answer to the question (such as John 14:26 or John 16:7-10). You would say something like "He helps me by teaching me things; He brings things to my remembrance, He convicts me of sin, and righteousness and judgment" - and you would say these things whether you were actually experiencing them or not, because you know that is the "right" answer. Does that make me a good Christian or a good religionist? It makes me a Pharisee - trained to parrot the right answer, whether I am living it or not.

Not that some denomination trained me to be that way, but my own pride has trained me thus - though subtly. Pride does that. By giving the textbook answer, I imply that I am receiving all that is to be received already - I am, after all, a "Christian" - ergo: I am being ministered to by the Holy Spirit in all His fullness.

But that is dishonest.

Since I came to the Lord the Holy Spirit has patiently and passively ministered to me. He has helped me whether I asked for it or not. In this sense, the Holy Spirit has been an "It" to me and not a "Him." Not that I suddenly forgot that the Holy Spirit was a person and a "Him" - my intellectual orthodoxy could never permit such a breach. I regarded the Holy Spirit as being there of course, and doing things like convicting me of sin, and righteousness etc. But really, He was quite impersonal. I didn't really know the Holy Spirit, and that is what this post is about.

You see, He is --MY-- Counselor. Jesus sent Him to me to counsel me. In ignoring that role, I abuse my own faith.

It seems to me perfect idiocy to ignore this important ministry in my life. Have I really asked the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to why I sin? Have I really asked Him to show me how ugly my sin is? To convince me in my heart that I am as wretched as God's word says that I am. Have I asked Him to show me and prove to me that I cannot please God? Oh, I know in my intellect these things are so, but I would be truly a fool to imagine that this is the same as believing them. It is the Holy Spirit's ministry to convict me of sin. Not just to convince me "that I sin," - surely, I am convinced of that. I need more than an intellectual persuasion, I need a heartfelt conviction about sin.

When I say that I am not talking about asking the Holy Spirit to help me notice when I am sinning. I am not talking about asking the Holy Spirit to help me stop sinning. What I am talking about is asking the Holy Spirit to show me why I sin. Show me that I am incurable. Show me that there is no answer to sin but the cross of Christ. Show me with judgment day clarity how wicked the self is, that I will confess with God that it belongs on the cross. I cannot accept myself on the cross until I agree with God that I belong there - and I don't care what anyone thinks about it - no one is willing to go to the cross until they believe they belong there, and no one believes it unless the Holy Spirit takes them there - and the Holy Spirit doesn't drag people there passively. You will never receive the pearl that is cast so long as you remain in the mire among the swine.

Come to the Holy Spirit in prayer and beg Him to convince you that you are really a sinner. Beg Him to prepare you for the cross, you need to understand that the you that resists God deserves to die, in fact, you must be at the place where you are willing to go to the cross. Jesus took that old self of yours there already - but this truth doesn't help you with your sin, until you are -united- in that death. Unless we go down into the grave with Christ we remain in the bondage of sin. We cannot crucify ourselves, Christ was crucified - we must reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. To some of you reading that might just sound like the verse, but it become LIFE when you truly understand it.

Many of us have traded Christianity for religion - we banter back and forth about Calvinism, Arminianism, the nature of the gospel, etc. Spinning our spiritual wheels in the mire of religion and religious and even spiritual talk. We pass little shiny trinkets of wisdom between ourselves, and admire the sunsets together. Our religion is a "dog and pony show" designed to keep us busy so that we never actually get around to taking up our cross daily.

Oh man. What a waste. What a miserable waste. People, make up your minds today to talk to God the Holy Spirit. Why Him? Because He was sent for this ministry in particular - to minister to you, help you and counsel you while you are here on Earth. Pray to Him, He is a person, ask Him to show you the truth about yourself. Ask Him to open your eyes to sin for real. Not that game we play where we want to see our sin so that we can "confess and repent" and feel like we are all squared up with God - no, I am talking about setting your mind singularly on the cross of Christ, and your pathetic need to be there. The reason your Christian life is such a failure right now is because you...are not..willing...to...die. The reason you are not willing is because contrary to whatever your intellect may accept, deep down you don't feel you deserve it. You are a rebel, dear sinner, and you are helpless - utterly helpless to change that. Only the Holy Spirit can take you there, bring you to the real end of yourself - not just some tears in your prayer place - but the willingness to give it all up - all of it.

Oh, brother, oh sister - you know in your heart the one call that has been there since you gave your life to Christ - surrender. You also know that you have never done it, and that you cannot do it no matter how hard you try. Won't you turn today? Commit yourself even now to talk to the Holy Spirit as a Person. Talk to Him as your Counselor - YOUR Counselor. Jesus sent Him to counsel you in this matter. Find out why you continue to sin. Find out why you refuse to go to the cross, let Him lead you into all truth, because it is that truth that sets you free.

posted by Daniel @ 4:17 AM   4 comment(s)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Trinity.
As Christians we confess that God is a single Being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit - "One God in Three Persons." All three are distinct and co-eternal "persons" that share a single Divine essence.

Men have tried to model this relationship ever since it was first understood, and most of us are already familiar, not only with the models, but the various weaknesses of the models.

Some use "water" as a model, because water can exist in three forms (solid, liquid, and gas) and still remains (chemically) water. That model fails to deliver however, since in order to be at once gas, liquid, and solid, an amount of water would have to be divided into three parts, and each part would not be equal to the whole (as is the case in the trinity).

Some use the "aging person" as a model, the same man being young, then mature, then old - but again, since he cannot be all three at once, this model fails.

Some use "time" - you know, past, present, future - but that is just silly, as there really is only one time (now). The past has existed, but no longer exists, and the future does not yet exist. The whole relationship just falls apart.

Some have rejected the doctrine of the Trinity because there is no "good" model in all of creation that allows for such a relationship. As believers, most of us understand that God is not bound by the laws that bind creation - as though the reality we see every day defines and limits God. We know that God exists outside of creation, and that creation is defined by God, and not vice versa. Thus we accept the Trinity even without having an earthly model that satisfies.

Not that this acceptance is a "blind faith" sort of deal, as though we were saying "We know it doesn't make sense, but we believe it anyway" - quite the opposite. We know that it does make sense, but that we lack perspective being bound (as we are) to the laws of creation. We accept that the rules which govern man, do not govern God - and in that understanding we see no contradiction in the Trinity.

That being said, I distain every physical model I have ever seen. God cannot be modeled physically! Even this morning as I was thinking about a "mathematical" model (involving the value "infinity"):

∞ + ∞ + ∞ = ∞

Yet even this model doesn't do much to explain the nature of the Trinity; yes, it shows (to those in possession of some mathematical savvy) that three infinite amounts are equally infinite, and that when combined they are no more infinite than any of the infinite amounts that went into the equation; but really, all it does is demonstrate a quantitative relationship. It deals with "quantity" rather than substance (that is, it shows that three values can be equal even if combined), but under genuine scrutiny we must admit even this does not make one infinity the same substance as the other infinities - all it does is show that the values represented are quantitatively equal - the purist might even argue that much.

What we are left with is this - God is Holy, Holy, Holy. Anything that is not God is by definition, creation; Should we be surprized then, that there is no model in creation that satifies our understanding of the Trinity? Of course not! The very fact that the Trinity defies any model lends profound credibility to it.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the silly models we have heard in our past. What do you think?
posted by Daniel @ 10:23 AM   14 comment(s)
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Opinions, opinions...
Matt posted something the other day. The link didn't work, but you can read what he is referring to here. I thought it was pretty sad sounding, but it only got worse as I examined Bryan's post "The Sproul Jr. Saga" here.

If you are already familiar with the details, perhaps you would care to share your opinion?

I had a poll here, but in order to view it, you had to be exposed to inappropriate -text- ads. (Thanks Dave for the heads up)

So what do you think? Should paedo baptists allow paedo communion as well. That is, if you think it is okay to baptize the unregenerate - what's wrong with giving the unregenerate communion as well?

posted by Daniel @ 11:14 AM   11 comment(s)
What? It's not like I'm addicted...

Seriously, I am not addicted...

posted by Daniel @ 9:36 AM   6 comment(s)
Busy week coming...
Greetings my fellow blogosphere denizens.

I have a nigh-impossible deadline to meet at work this week - and even more responsibilities around the house. That means you won't be seeing much from me for the next little while.

Check in from time to time, I may put a nugget up as time permits.

Also - if you pray (and I know some of you do) pray for my wife. She came down with a fever last night, and it is with her this morning - also she is experiencing pain in her stomach - which could be an indication of puerperal fever (childbed fever). She was feeling stiff this morning.

posted by Daniel @ 7:44 AM   4 comment(s)
Monday, February 06, 2006
Okay, so I'm a Pepper.

Yet even as a Dr. Pepper fan, I find this particular concoction a little over the top. How many flavor modifications can a drink endure before it loses its identity?

As I type this, I am enjoying a Cherry, Vanilla, Diet Dr. Pepper.

To be sure, the diet part doesn't change the taste much - you do get that awful aspartame after taste that says, "you are drinking an unnatural chemical and your body doesn't know what to do with it" - but beyond that, when you buy a Diet Dr. Pepper, you still get (mostly) a pronounced Dr. Pepper-ness.

And were one to add cherry, or licorice, or peanut butter, or whatever to the original recipe (calories and all) - you would likely modify the taste a bit - peanut butter Dr. Pepper might be interesting, or licorice Dr. Pepper, but whatever you ended up with would have a Dr. Pepper-ness about it. There is, I believe, a diminishing return to this.

Perhaps it is just my penchant for maths, but adding an additional element to the original recipe is sort of like polluting the recipe by 50% Adding another element, would further reduce the mix to say 50% x 50% = 25% of the original mix. A third element would be (according to my reasoning) 50% x 50% x 50% = 12.5% "pure"

At some point (say at 25% or lower) it seems a more honest approach to stop calling the beverage "Dr. Pepper" and rather just affix a warning label (like they do with some candy bars) such as, "May contain Dr. Pepper flavor"

To be sure, I am drinking a Cherry, Vanilla, Diet Dr. Pepper even as I type this (my second for the day!) - and the after taste is vaguely reminiscent of Dr. Pepper. yet notwithstanding, I find the variety of flavors competing for supremacy in my mouth.

Some flavours are complementary (peanut butter and jelly, fried onions and anything, etc.), they act in you mouth like a rowing team - working in harmony with one another to produce a greater effect than any of the individual parts. Yet there is the "oil and water" variety of solutions. Here two or more flavors face each other on the field of honor - they perform a tug of war - momentarily confusing your palate until one flavor gains the upper hand. This is not unlike a union of garlic pickles with whipping cream - you may like both, but they don't belong in your mouth at the same time.

So it is with cherry, vanilla, aspartame, and Dr. Pepper. You suck it back and swallow, then leave your taste buds to try and sort out what just went on.

I feel old as I write this. Surely, I am just cantankerous -
Why, back in my day, we drank pop without all your fancy twists and whatnot. Some of the most flamboyant prigs amongst us might have put a slice of lemon or lime in their soda - but they were fancy boys, and it was right that we made fun of them. Men drank mono-flavoured pop only because they couldn't find dirt water or black coffee. Even putting ice-cream in your cola was a something you only did in the privacy of your home with the drapes closed.

Anyway, no meat today. Just posting to keep up appearances.. ;-D

posted by Daniel @ 1:05 PM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Praise the Lord!
posted by Daniel @ 6:12 PM   14 comment(s)
It is a BOY!

Yesterday morning my wife's water broke, but she wasn't feeling any contractions. To be sure, she went in to see our family physician - the internal exam showed that she was two centimeters dilated, and our doctor said that labor would likely start tonight, and if it did not, my wife would have to be induced.

She called me at work and told me this - which explains my previous post - and I came home an hour early. She was in bed trying to nap, but too "busy in her brain" as she puts it, to fall asleep. I ended up making us some supper - figuring she would need her strength up.

She had felt a few labor pains earlier, about fifteen minutes apart - but then there was nothing for a while. So we tried to get some more sleep - but ended up just sort of laying there relaxing. Within half an hour, her labor pains began in earnest - and quickly went from 12 minutes apart to 6 minutes, to sporadic.

Our doctor had planned to meet us at the hospital where we would be delivering the baby. She is a great doctor - insisting on staying with her patient (if at all possible) for the duration of the labor, as well as the delivery.

So we called the Doctor, and agreed to meet at the hospital.

We got to the hospital about nine or so, and because our doctor was meeting us there, we got to skip triage (it is where they examine you to see if you are actually in labor or not) - and were whisked into a nice, private room.

I won't bother with all the details, but shortly after our doctor showed up, my wife gave birth to a healthy 7 lb 2 oz baby boy!

The baby has a mess of blonde hair - and looks simply wonderful!

Thank you everyone who prayed for us, the whole labor lasted about two and a half hours, and the actual delivery was quite quick, less than five minutes. We were all quite happy with it!

Mother is doing well - and the baby had no trouble at all nursing. What a blessing that was.

Anyway, I am beat, and need to get to sleep so I can rush out of here and go back to the hospital as soon as I wake up.

Grace and Peace everyone!
posted by Daniel @ 2:52 AM   11 comment(s)
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Two Centimeters of Dilation
I got a phone call this morning - my wife informed me that even though her "due date" for our current pregnancy is not until February 12, and even though she has never, ever been early with our other three children - that she thought her water might be breaking.

She went into the doctors, and our doctor confirmed it - she is two centimeters dilated. The doctor told her to go home and sleep - and to call her later when things began to progress.

I know where I will be tonight - Lord willing - pray for us if you are inclined thus.
posted by Daniel @ 3:15 PM   7 comment(s)
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