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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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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Saturday, September 30, 2006
Logic and Christianity.
In the previous post St. Lee brought reminded us that understanding of scripture ought not to offend our rational - that is, it ought to be logical. A few of us talked about that, but (as metas tend to do) the meta started to change orbit, as it were, and began to address the role/use of logic in Christianity, and I thought such a thing was worthy of its own post, and I also didn't want to piggy-back this sort of conversation in the meta of that particular post.

To that end - please carry on your logical meanderings here boys. ;-)
posted by Daniel @ 7:20 AM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Pericope ( per-i-co-py )
"Pericope" is the erudite word for "snippet." Whenever I have a hankerin' for a language spankerin' I like to pull out words like that - they make for good filler.

Yet today I present a practical yet ponderous pericopy particularly pour vous. Have you no meditation for the day? Meditate on this and see if it is true or not:

Only when I forget or do not believe that God has bridged the gap, only then will I try and bridge that gap in my own strength - and the moment I set out to do this thing - pursuing my greatest desire as though it were in my power to achieve it by effort - the moment I aspire to pursue through effort that which is already mine through faith - I have closed the only avenue by which I could receive it.

Consider again what it means to be in Christ, and what the fruit of faith looks like.
posted by Daniel @ 8:55 AM   6 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Fundamental Fontanels...
Most of us (unless we are in the medical profession, or have just written a biology exam) wouldn't know a fontenal from fentanyl. But the word describes a "soft spot" - for instance the "anterior fontanel" is that soft spot we find centered above an infant's forehead (surely you remember your mother rebuking you for actually touching a babies soft spot?).

No matter where your theology is at, there are two different types of soft spots associated with it. The first I will mention, but I won't really address in this post - and that is a theology that rests more upon a particular interpretation of a passage or various passages rather than an indisputable fact found in scripture (e.g. the Trinity is not a soft spot theologically speaking as there is no room for interpretive variance on the passages that demonstrate the Trinity - but (for example) pulling a "covenant of works" out of Genesis would be a theological soft spot because this particular interpretation rests upon the idea that when was God instructing Adam in the Garden it "amounted to" God making a "covenant" with Adam - the passage doesn't identify a covenant or even speak of one, but some make a claim that "covenantal language" was being used, and therefore they stand not upon a sure interpretation, but upon a presumption. This sort of 'indirect' spin on a passage would be (IMO) a theological soft spot, and any doctrine that touches it would be equally "soft.")

But it is the other soft spot I want to talk about, and really I am probably stretching the idea of a soft spot to wrap it around this - but I could think of no better way to describe it. The other kind of soft spot is when theology becomes an excuse for Christian dormancy.

Now I want to be clear here - It doesn't matter if you are Calvinist, Arminian, or somewhere in between - everyone stands in danger of allowing themselves to justify their own spiritual laziness because of some theological persuasion.

Consider the one who is theologically convinced that we can do no good thing apart from the grace of God. They would be correct according to my understanding of scripture - but some who have come to understand this theological truth go overboard and develop a "soft spot" in their Christian conduct. Having correctly reasoned that God is sovereign in all things - even their own salvation, and having rightly understood that they can do nothing good apart from the work of God's Spirit within them - they (wrongly) embark of a rigorous regiment of "waiting" for God to make them obey.

We know that God works in us to will and to do his good pleasure, but the verse that qualifies that tells us to "work out our own salvation" because it is God who works in us both to will and to do. The salvation spoken of there isn't salvation from God's wrath - but salvation from sinful conduct. We are workers with God, not zombies. Obedience is repentance in action, and unless we are repenting we are not going to have fellowship with God. The purpose of our obedience isn't to generate sanctification, for indeed, no amount of obedience is going to change the spots on the leopard - but obedience flows from a heart that is willing to work out with God our own salvation from sin.

Apparently however, some (many?) expect genuine spiritual service to have a certain "feeling" associated with it.

Perhaps they imagine that until they get into the right "frame of mind" everything they do will be carnal and evil, and therefore they need not do it. Some go so far as to withhold themselves from "getting right with God" because they feel they need to generate some sort of spiritual fervor before hand - that until they have this fervor they can't really get right with God. The pattern is to put off doing anything spiritual until they jump through some hoop - the trouble is that jumping through whatever hoop they name for themselves doesn't work for very long - soon they feel disingenuous, and the hoop has to be raised a bit, and made smaller, until they are practically paralyzed in their faith, and miserable.

The truth is, at least in this example, that no one can come to God unless God calls them to it, but that this in no way means we are to sit around and wait. Consider why it is that we even want to get right with God? Because God put His Spirit into us, and Deep is calling to Deep. God is working in us, that is the -only- reason we even want to get right with Him. What we need to do is simply drop all our silly pretenses and trust that God is really calling us, God is really willing to meet us wherever we are at, and God is really able to change our hearts.

When one's theology gets in the way of one's practical Christianity, no matter how perfect (or far from perfect) that theology happens to be, it becomes baggage - not the theology itself, but the idea that theology has anything to do with plain and simple obedience.

Listen: having a perfect theology isn't going to make you happier or closer to God - the only thing that is going to do that is fellowship with God, and there is no fellowship as long as we hold onto even the smallest rebellion in our hearts. If there is something that is keeping you from obeying God - if your very intellect has become the justification for failing to break up your fallow ground - buddy, see that and do something about it today. Even if you can only manage the smallest step closer to our Lord - do that, and do more the next day.

Don't tell yourself that because God is sovereign you should wait around until He hits you with a wand. Yes - God is sovereign - and yes, when you eventually do obey him it will not be to your own glory, but his - but that doesn't change where the rubber meets the road one iota. You must obey, you must commit yourself to obey - DO IT.

I used this one example, but there are plenty of ways in which our theology can leave us soft spots - our job is to find those places where we are spinning our wheels and do something about it. I suggest the first thing to do is to pray, get alone with God somewhere and hash it out. Really, there is only one cure for fallow ground, and that is the plow, and you need the Lord to show you exactly where the plow has to go. Spend time, and stop just playing at it. Let there be no soft spots in you - I would that all of us were "sound" Christians, whatever our theological differences might be.
posted by Daniel @ 9:40 AM   5 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Inspirational Poster -III-
posted by Daniel @ 12:20 PM   26 comment(s)
Sunday, September 24, 2006
The Sanctuary: Modern Idol?
Is the auditorium or "sermon area" in your church a holy place in and of itself - or is it just a room that is used sometimes for holy things?
posted by Daniel @ 7:45 PM   17 comment(s)
Friday, September 22, 2006
The Good Samaritan.
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'
The parable was told in answer to the question "Who is my neighbor?" but today I want to draw our attention to Christ through this illustration.

Picture this: you are an Israelites who is living in Jerusalem, and for whatever reason you need to be in Jericho. You determine to go the next day, and are up before the dawn so that you put your foot to the road just as the sun is rising. You have walked to Jericho before, it is a pleasant walk, and if you walk briskly, you should be in Jericho when the sun is at its apex (around noon). Jericho is about 17 miles away, so you bring some water, some snacks, and because you plan to stay a few days and do business there you bring some money too.

It has been your past experience on this particular errand that in the first half hour or hour you see many people - at first you see the caravans and merchants who arrived at Jerusalem after the city gates were closed and have spent the night outside the walls, the bustle of life already buzzing through the motley camp as they prepare to enter the city. You are not alone at first, there are farmers who have spent the night in the city, and others who, for whatever reason, are also leaving the city - but by the first hour you were already entirely alone.

You have come to expect that there is a quiet time after the first hour, that typically lasts until the midway point between Jerusalem and Jericho. People leaving Jericho and coming to Jerusalem start to pass you (going in the other direction) about the midway point. Occasionally it happens, though not this time, that a caravan of merchants passes you or the odd mounted merchant hurries past on their donkey, but mostly these are your quiet hours, and you have come to enjoy them - times of solitude and reflection, and quiet prayer.

You were thus engaged when you saw the first travellers from Jericho coming down the road, a loud, burly bunch of younger men - they looked to be ruffians, and you can't help but feel suddenly vulnerable. You put on your brave face and ignore the possibility - surely you are just paranoid. As they draw near, you master yourself and give them your most polite greeting, and you are relived to see them stop and greet you back. The one of them, probably the eldest of their bunch inquires about your health, and the goings on in Jerusalem, and his companions seem less interested, as they seem to pass on - but it is only too late that you realize they have in fact surrounded you, and when the circle is complete, the one talking scrunches his face into a scowl and before he can strike you, another from behind hits you with something, maybe a piece of wood, on the head. You fall down, but they don't stop - they are kicking you, hitting you with things - your hands are up covering your face, but they kick you in the face none the less. You try to rise, but one last kick to the stomach causes you to feel light headed, and then you pass out.

You wake up, bloody, everything that you had with you is gone - your clothes, your money, your water, your earrings - torn out of your ears. You are a bloody pulp, and it is long past noon. You try to rise, but the pain causes you to pass out again almost immediately. You wake again, it is later in the afternoon, and with shallow breath you do your best to stay conscious - hoping that someone might come along to help you.

Your prayers seem to be answered, for coming towards you is a priest - A Priest! Surely God is merciful to you in sending you a priest. As he approaches you relax as an "all is better now" sort of wave passes over you. As he approaches he looks down at you, even catching your eye. You manage to croak out something weak - but it is so hard to produce any volume - surely more than a few ribs are broken, you can barely whisper out your thanks giving, only the man doesn't stop. Your blood has made a stick mess all over the road, and he lifts up his robes as he steps around you - not wanting to get all bloody - and though you almost pass out from the effort you manage to croak out in an almost audible voice "help me..." but he is gone, and you are left there on the road.

Your only companions over the next hour are the buzzing flies all around you, congregating over your open wounds. You manage to find a stick - perhaps it was the one you were beaten with? And try and pull it towards you, and as you are doing so you catch sight of another man - dressed like a Levite. Praise the Lord! Surely this brother will see your dilemma and come to your aid. As he comes near, unlike the priest, he seems to not notice you - though you are right in the middle of the way - yet he doesn't once look at you, and though you manage to sputter out, "water..." yet he seems to take no notice of you as he walks on.

As the sun begins to set you know the worse is yet to come - the cold will probably kill you tonight, and if not the cold, there are animals that come out at night... You hope the cold gets you first. But in the fading light a final hope - here is a man coming, you can't even tell if he is coming from Jericho or Jerusalem, the blood has dried on your face so that your eyes are crusted shut - you just hear the sound of running feet - at first you think it may be those ruffians coming back to finish the job - but suddenly a wineskin is pressed to your lips and a voice thick with warmth and an accent tells you to rest and drink. You suddenly realize how grossly dehydrated you have become. The man doesn't let you drink too much, but gives you a little, then beings to pour wine onto your open wounds - it stings - but you are thankful - you have seen infection kill - and you know what must be done.

All the while this man is speaking to you, telling you to rest now, that he will take care of you. In short order he cleans all your wounds, and even binds your ribs - a welcome gesture since it makes it much easier to breath. He manages to lift you onto his own donkey, and for the next hour you lay across his donkey - a painful, but welcome ride. The sun is down, and there is a light ahead on the road - an inn. You're not really sure where you are, but you hear the conversation between the man and the innkeeper -

"Sorry mister, we don't rent rooms to your kind - half breed"
"No no sir, you misunderstand me, not for me, but for this Jew I found on the road"
"Yes, please keep him clean and well fed, and see here, here is some money - I will come back soon and bring more money if you need it, only give him some clothes, and feed him for he is weak.
"Er, ah, okay."

Then the man with the accent, a Samaritan no less - left, and the innkeeper and his family take you, clean your bandages, set your broken bones, and put in a room by yourself to recover.

Two days later, the Samaritan is back, and true to his word, he pays your bills.

End of story.

The story not only identifies who our neighbor is (the guy who gets robbed) - it is also a picture of the love of God. Levites were set apart by God for religious service - and from amongst the Levites, the descendants of Aaron were given the priesthood. It ought to be clear, but the fact that the people who walked past the fellow both were representative of the religious caste, we take note - [1] religion didn't deliver the man from his situation.

Also we take note that the man who did help him, did so when the victim was utterly and absolutely unable to help himself - that is, [2] the victim did nothing to precipitate or assist the help he received.

I do believe that we are like that helpless traveller. Some of us think that religion can deliver us from our helplessness - but they are misguided - religion will not help us - it cannot help us.

We are left to accept that God has come to us, not because of any merit on our own part, and not because we flagged him down by our own effort - he came to ous and had mercy on us, and we did nothing of ourselves to instigate that mercy, nor can we do anything to perpetuate it. God has come to us, and had mercy on us when we are absolutely helpless to assist or precipitate such mercy. That is why it is called grace and mercy.

I believe these things, not simply because they are implied by this parable (for him who has eyes to see and ears to hear) - but because the rest of scripture echoes the teaching. When you look at that Samaritan being so kind, and selfless - I hope you see Christ in Him, and I hope see yourself as that "left for dead" Jew - it will do wonders for your understanding.
posted by Daniel @ 9:53 AM   3 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Inspirational Poster -II-
It is so much easier making these than it is to do a real post...

I absolutely love this in-your-face pulpit!!

posted by Daniel @ 2:52 PM   8 comment(s)
Monday, September 18, 2006
Inspirational Poster -I-
[sarcasm]Why live out your faith when ground chuck on a bun works?[/sarcasm]
posted by Daniel @ 12:41 PM   16 comment(s)
Thank Frank.
attack indeed!Last week I had the opportunity to guest blog at Frank Turk's blog (and his ministers a flame of fire). I did feel somewhat of a proverbial bull in the china shop - but took some solace in the comforting thought that I was not alone - and that there were capable people sharing the guest blogging privilege with me. You know how that works - you would never want to be the dude who single-handedly cut down the lovely tree in front of your church because you wanted more parking space - but if you can rally three or four leaders to make the decision as a committee - well, then you can muster an anonymity-induced hand-strengthening that gives you boldness to do all sorts of things that you wouldn't do if the spot light were on you and only you.

In that sense I took courage - at least I was one of many, and if I messed up, perhaps it would be buried quickly and no one would notice.

Anyway - it turned out for the better. There were some great posts made by the other (active) side kicks - Carla, Nate, and Matt (Gumby)- and I am sure they all had as much fun as I did. Like everyone else, I was looking forward to sneaking a peek at Frank's template - but that old fox must have known that we would head to the template first - so he limited our access to simply posting and editing only our own posts. Never the less - it was a hoot.

Best of all, well, the most fun part for me at least - was that Frank promoted me from "nobody" to official side-kick on his blog, and in so doing, may have inadvertantly propelled Kim to stalker status (Kim has met both my family and Carla's family in "real life" - and since we are both side kicks... you don't need to be a scientest to see what is going on - Kim must be stalking Frank!)

I would tell Neil about it - but he might be "in" on it, as I am sure he has also met Carla - hmmm. Come to think of it, my presumption is that it must be a whole-family stalking. I wonder if they like banjo music?

Anyway - I plan to post something of substance later today - well, not really substantial - but less frivolous.
posted by Daniel @ 11:20 AM   3 comment(s)
Friday, September 15, 2006
Even HP Lovecraft knew...
Who has been raised who hasn't first died?
That is not dead
Which can eternal lie
Yet with strange aeons
Even death may die
- HP Lovecraft.

I don't really know how the HP Lovecraft book came into our house when I was growing up. It may have been that a cousin brought it over and left it, or perhaps my older sister took it out from the library and never returned it. I am really not sure. But one thing I was sure of - I didn't much care for it. The short story collection was all about scary stuff, and as a young boy, such things were not my cup of tea.

In my late teen years and early twenties, I began to play role playing games, one of which was based on the world of HP Lovecraft's writings - the game was called call of Cthulhu, a game set in the world inspired by Lovecraft's short story of the same name. Unlike other role playing games, where you basically started off weak, and grew stronger and stronger, in this game you started off weak, and stayed weak - but the monsters became more and more powerful - and the best you could hope (for your player) was for him or her to stay alive the longest. It was twisted, and it is enough to say that I am thankful I am no longer influenced by such things. Yet when I began to play the game, I began to read HP Lovecraft - to get a feel for the "world" in which the game is played.

So as I was contemplating the study I am writing for Sunday morning's adult class, I was reminded of the above quote. "That is not dead which can eternal lie." The first time I read it I thought it was such a neat bit of poetry - and I memorized it for that reason, so I could wax eloquent amongst my university peers who were impressed by such gibberish. Yet the thought was, in its own way, indeed eloquent, even poetic. If something never ceases to be, it isn't dead.

Lovecraft was writing about ancient monsters from the stars - a pantheon of sleeping deities bent solely on destroying everything for reasons incomprehensible to man. Things which, according to Lovecraft's short stories - could be awakened by men. The pericope above (short snippit) is supposed to play on that idea - that these things are not dead, but merely dormant until awakened.

I doubt very much that Lovecraft was a believer, and I am not going to speculate, nor investigate the matter - it is enough for me that the truth he partly articulated reminded me of that fuller truth found in scripture. I mention his quote only as a way of introducing the thought.

In Romans six, Paul tells us that the Christian doesn't sin anymore because if the Christian is in Christ, then the Christian has died to sin and been raised with Christ.

Many stumble in Romans seven because they think Paul is saying that the normative Christian experience is not what he had just described in Romans six, but is in fact now a different experience whereby you sin, feel bad, and thank Christ that you won't go to hell for it - even though Paul closes the thought by thanking God that God has delivered him from this Romans seven experience in Christ - and even though we see Paul say in Romans eight that anyone who lives according to the flesh will die. Yet in spite of this, they continue to live in Romans seven, even imagining that such at thing is normative.

I could spend a month on that topic and never touch the bottom of it - but it is enough to say that on Sunday we will be discussing a miracle that neither Jesus nor the apostles ever did, nor could ever do - but a miracle that apparently is performed routinely in many churches today.

We note that while Jesus walked this earth (on more than one occasion) He raised people from the dead. Likewise the Apostles did as well. But no one, no one in all of scripture ever raised to life someone who hadn't died yet.

You see, no one is raised in Christ who hasn't died in Christ. No seed has ever sprouted that hasn't died first. No one is raised in newness of life who hasn't died on the cross with Christ. It isn't hard to comprehend - but there are hard hearted "believers" who cannot believe that. They would rather believe that you are raised to a newness of life in Christ whether you die with Christ or not. Now that's a miracle that even God can't do.

The truth is

As long as you refuse to die,...
In your sin you shall eternal lie.
posted by Daniel @ 9:45 AM   6 comment(s)
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It takes so long to slap a template together - but this one is going to have to do for a while. I haven't tried it on every single browser - but it seems to do okay on most. Let me know if it is wonky for you.
posted by Daniel @ 5:53 PM   8 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Template Grief...

This template is still not behaving. I apologize for the ugliness, but I may not get around to fixing it for a couple of days. Bear with me.

posted by Daniel @ 4:36 PM   3 comment(s)
I Will Not Blot Out Your Name.
Do you remember where in scripture God says He will not blot out someone's name? Of course you do
But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. - 2 Kings 14:27 [ESV]
I know, I know, you were thinking of:
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. - Revelation 3:5 [ESV]
What is common to both is that the text describes (in language that translates rather clumsily) the idea that something will be perpetual.

We use language like this even today sometimes - I know I do. I often will begin to explain what I am saying by explaining up front what I am -not- saying. I do not say that I am good at it, but I -do- do this often. In fact, I did it just now by saying "I do not say" - in doing so I expressed first what I was not saying, and then expressed what I -was- saying. This sort of writing technique is certainly not new, nor is it limited to English - and it is that sort of thing that we see when we reading in 2 Kings 14:27 "the Lord has not said... [blah blah blah]...so he saved Israel" That is, it wasn't like the Lord was about to (or even considering) blot out the name of Israel from under heaven - rather the writer expresses God's desire for the perpetuation of Israel by using this common writing technique.

We see it again in Revelation 3:5 - the literal rendering is "I will not blot out his name from the scroll of the life" - That is a fancy way of saying his name shall eternally be written on the scroll of "the life."

Some however tremble at Revelation 3:5 and imagine it is saying that God -will- blot out your name unless... but they are somewhat vague about what has to be done to get your name blotted out. These picture the Christian endeavor as popping in and out of salvation - and rest their greatest hope in either being struck by a car when they happen to be temporarily saved, or having time on their deathbed to make sure they have dotted all every "I" and crossed every "T."

Eternal life is a gift (c.f. Romans 6:23) - and as scripture says, the gifts of God are irrevocable (c.f. Romans 11:29). If you are saved, you are saved here and now, and you cannot lose that because it is irrevocable.

That isn't to say that everyone who fancies themselves to be in the Kingdom is actually a child of God. Many will go out from us thinking they were of us - but the fact that they could go out from us demonstrates that their claim to be one of us was invalid. Likewise many will continue with us, imagining themselves to be amongst us - but they are empty clouds without rain - lamps without oil - they are not saved, and on the last day they will realize to their horror that they never really called on the name of the Lord - and all their lip-service won't help them.

But if you are genuine - you are eternally secure.
posted by Daniel @ 12:51 PM   0 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
It's Tuesday - And I Got Nothin.
Maybe the well has run dry? I can't seem to put together enough material for even one post. But I am not going to let that stop me. Here is my post for today, since I have nothing to say, I will create a poem on the fly - you know just a stream of consciousness thing. Only this I promise - I won't go back and edit it to make it polished. What I am about to do will be done as quick as I can type it and I will have to settle for the cards falling where they may. I may take a moment or two after the fact to adjust the typeface or something... but here goes...


My God, whom I love.
The other day I wondered,
what hell would be like
without God.

The greatest curiosity - who is my Creator?
Will I never see his face?
Eternity without Him whom I should know,
Him who loved me so.

Then I began to think, of God anew,
How I long to see His face in glory,
How I long to know Him who knows me,
and loves me still.

To know that eternity shall not diminish
the awe I shall always have,
what a great God, what a glorious Maker.
To love His creation, and to give
to that creation the desire to love Him.

okay - there it is. I put it out in under a minute, so don't get too critical - I am no poet. But I do love the Lord, and sometimes it is fun to just say so without worrying about whether I have made that statement articulate or not.
posted by Daniel @ 12:16 PM   7 comment(s)
Friday, September 08, 2006
Christianity - Summarized...
The Law came through Moses, but grace through Christ...I was over on Jeremy's blog, and thought he made a great closing post on the law. I commented there what follows, and thought the summary I shared there might make a good post here - besides, it is easier than coming up with new content...

It is always difficult to articulate the relationship between the New Covenant believer and the Old Covenant Law. While the law identifies unrighteousness, it cannot produce righteousness - that is the "thing" that the "law could not do."

It is quite "Galatian" (if you will) to turn to the law for sanctification, as though keeping the law (now that you are a Christian) will suddnely make the law do what it has never done, and can never do - sanctify you.

I used to think, though I never dared to talk about it, that sanctification was me keeping the law as best I could, and then, because I am supposed to be humble - I would have to "recognize" that whatever victory my own willpower wrought must be attributed to God, since I was (after all) "totally depraved."

The end result was that I would say that I am no longer under the law with my mouth - but my every endeavor to be pleasing to God was entirely grounded in my own self effort to be sanctified.

I was living like a Jew, trying to keep the law in order to be pleasing to God - and in doing so I had a form of godliness I suppose, but there was absolutely no power in it, except my own fear that if I didn't sanctify my self, it would demonstrate that I had somehow messed up my own salvation - or would indicate that I wasn't really saved.

How sad.

Surely the gospel teaches us that we are justified by faith, and scripture shows us that sanctification is not a human work, but a divine one.

No one can love with Christ's love who hasn't gone into the grave and died to self. We do ourselves a horrible deception to imagine that we can be raised here and now to a newness of life - to the likeness of Christ - when we haven't followed Christ into the grave. We cannot be united in the life of Christ if we haven't been united in His death. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.

But when we begin to believe the truth - that Christ took our sinful self inside Himself on the cross - that we truly were crucified in Christ in order for the body of our sin (that is the old self - the part that desires to rebel against God) might be rendered powerless, inert, unable to exert influence over us, etc. -- Then we begin to do something about this conviction that we are sinners and that something is wrong with a Christian who still loves to sin (even if they suppress that love with all their strength).

The trouble is most of us don't know what to do about that, so we turn to the law to escape the conviction - and in doing so, we fall into the error of the Jews - we treat the keeping of the law as though it were supposed to be the center of our Christian endeavor.

The purpose of our conviction is not to make us do with our hands what is right - that is like cleaning the outside of the cup - the purpose of our conviction is to show us where we refuse Christ's rule in our heart.

When we see that we truly will not have Christ rule over our heart in a matter - then we are able to turn in earnest to the Holy Spirit whom Christ gave for this purpose - to make us Holy - we must turn to Him and allow Him to make us understand that there is no way to "cure" this - that it is rebellion, and in fact enmity against God, and that it cannot -ever- be subject to God's law. When we see we cannot set ourselves free, and that even the law cannot set us free from our own unwillingness - then we will come to the place where we can actually "homologeo" that is - say the same thing about our sin as God says - not just that it is sinful - but that there is no cure for it in ourselves. To agree that keeping the law through sheer willpower won't cleanse the ugly unwillingness to obey - but that even should we keep the law perfectly through sheer will power we would still be wretches internally who neither loved God nor desired to obey him. When we can truly "confess" our sin - then we are ready to deal with it honestly.

The only honest thing to do with sin is ask God to forgive you and cleanse you - and if you do so in faith He will.

Years and years of disobedience have fashioned our hearts into hardened stone. When we get serious about sin - we being to deal with it, and God's Spirit shows us sin and expects us turn to Him for victory for every, tiny thing. Truly, the humble receive this grace, for it is a long process cleaning out the barn.

As you begin to yield to God, to surrender every part of you that refuses to obey - you will come closer and closer to ground zero - and eventually, you will get to a place where you are willing to do anything for God - and when you get there, God's spirit witnesses to you that you are there - and you receive assurance in the spirit - not the intellectual assurance we might have by regarding the scriptural promises of salvation as true - but rather, there will be no more rebellion in your heart - your heart will have been cleansed by faith, and then (and only then) God's Spirit will begin to fellowship with you unhindered by your rebellious "old self."

When that happens, you won't be popping in and out of obedience like you did when your entire obedience rested on your own willpower - no, you will be "in the Spirit" - and you will be able to love just as Christ loved, because you won't hindered by that "self love" that had consistently produced death and separation in you all the days of your life previously.

When one is in the Spirit thus - the law no longer convicts them, because they are in fellowship with God Himself, and God's love constrains them from offending. (not our love for God - but His selfless love poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.) Then we won't be pumping all day for a trickle of Holy Spirit - but out of our inner most being rivers of life will flow - not produced by our efforts, but rather the dam of self will no longer wall it up tight as a drum.

Truly, the man who is living in grace is no longer under the dominion of the law - that is what scripture teaches, and I believe it!

But it is a difficult thing to explain because most Christians today are not only entirely carnal - but they imagine that there is either no such thing as a carnal Christian - or they think that their "minor" and only partial rebellion elevates them above the title - or worse, they imagine that they are disobedient because they don't understand the truth clearly enough - as though a pristine doctrine could deliver them from self. It is crazy - but I am speaking of my own experience. I devoured scripture in the hope that it would deliver me from sin. I studied doctrine so that knowing the truth might set me free - but I didn't understand that it wasn't knowing the facts that set me free - but knowing the Truth (capital "T").

posted by Daniel @ 11:35 AM   8 comment(s)
Thursday, September 07, 2006
New Template!
Truly, we are less than nothing...I had planned to update my template much earlier - and was fiddling with it in fact when I must have inadvertently wiped it out. I went with a sort of "jazzy" mouseover style template - just to play around -but it wasn't well received, and I quickly grew bored (and even frustrated) with it myself.

This new template, I hope will remain for a while - I wrote it, though there is hardly anything novel about a three column template with a header and footer. Yet, for now it is going to be the standard fare. I prefer the three columns to Bloggers (ugh) default - and that is really all that matters.

I did drop the primary color lithographic images, not because I didn't like them or anything - but rather it was going to be a bit of work putting them into the new template - and frankly I was looking forward to the change.

Anyway - there is really nothing new and cool about this template - it is similar to my previous (before the "fall" as it were) template - with only a few minor differences. Never-the-less, I am open to comments both positive or negative.

posted by Daniel @ 4:45 PM   10 comment(s)
Template Change A''Comin...
I am writing a new template from scratch. It is a little time consuming, and it is going to be "nothing fancy" - but at least it will be all css with no javascript - and I can have my "stretchy" middle column back - I liked that. I may ditch some of the artwork. We will see.

I will probably put it up later today.
posted by Daniel @ 2:15 PM   8 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The Hardened Heart.
a hard, hard, heartWhen cement is wet it can be poured out into whatever mould we desire - but once it hardens it is stuck that way.

When we talk about hardened hearts, we are talking about giving up on repenting, and allowing some sin to continue unabated. That is what a hardened heart is all about. Just as the horse who refuses to answer the reigns makes his neck "stiff" regardless of how you lead him - so too hard hearts and stiff necks are one and the same. It is a determined mind set that says - I will not yield the rule of my life to God, at least on this matter here, or that matter there. God can have the external stuff - I will look the part - but he can't have such and such - I refuse to have him rule over me there.

It isn't really that we have a more or less soft heart and amiable neck - but that once in a while we dig in and sin - rather the fact that we dig in and sin shows us the true nature of our heart. We can hang all the apples we want on our tree - but if the root continues to sprout up oranges whenever we drop our guard - guess what? It ain't an apple tree.

Is your heart hard? Is your neck stiff? If we were Jews under the Mosaic covenant, I could hit you with the rules and tell you to buck up and fly straight - even though you would have no hope of doing so in your own strength. But Christ has come - and he brought with him something the law didn't bring - grace. Not grace in the sense that now you can sin and its okay, or now you can have a hardened heart and that is okay - but rather grace as the power to obey. Grace as the means by which your hardened heart can be cast out and thrown away, and replaced with a heart of flesh - that is, a heart that is willing to obey.

Sadly, even with so great a deliverance given to us - many will choose to harden their hearts against God anyway.
posted by Daniel @ 1:22 PM   1 comment(s)
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