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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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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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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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Thursday, May 28, 2009
How Many Babies Should Christian Couples Have?
What a question! Anyone who expresses their opinion with conviction necessarily judges those who do not share their opinion. Topics like that are usually avoided because we don't want to deal with someone attacking our opinion, or worse, feeling judged by our opinion. We want people to like us, we want our opinions respected, not scrutinized and ridiculed, or challenged by those who find themselves on the receiving end of an unspoken judgment.

Let's throw caution to the wind today, and go where people don't want to, not because we are chomping at the bit for confrontation, nor because we are callous and could care less of we stomp on some toes - but rather because it is a valid question, and we shouldn't avoid such things just because in answering them we may upset some people.

First, we want to give a biblically informed answer, but in order to do that we should agree about what biblically informed means. It means that we want to give an answer that scripture supports, by applying the truths in scripture without bending them through careless proof-texting.

Let's start where the bible starts - at two different beginnings. Immediately following creation, and immediately following the flood the earth was unpopulated by mankind. God gave the same command to Adam as He gave to Noah, given their similar positions as being the only Patriarchs alive on the whole planet: be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.

There are two ways we can understand the emphasis: God was either saying [1] "I command you to have babies", or He was saying, [2] "Don't remain in one place on the earth, but populate the whole thing".

Before we consider which emphasis makes the most sense in the text, we should examine our own cultural biases.

In our culture we work to buy the biggest house and the best-est car(or cars) we can, given our financial ability, so that we may live in as much comfort as possible. A great portion of our wealth goes into financing our leisure activities, so that our lives need not be dull. It stands to reason then that more money means better houses, better cars and more leisure options. Double incomes have become the norm, because we want to have it all paid for as soon as possible - thus increasing our disposable income.

The number of children we have is obviously going to impact this program.

We dare not give up our double income, so we pay strangers to parent our children until they are old enough to pass that responsibility off to their peers in the public school system. Each child is not only a (minimum) 18 year financial commitment but a living daily expense that takes away from the bigger "financial freedom" picture.

In a nutshell our culture equates having children with lowering your quality of living - the more children you have, the worse your quality of living is going to be.

That is radically different that say in Adam or Noah's time - before there was such a thing as a plough, surplus if it came, came because there were more people working. Having children was the main means to increasing your quality of life.

So when we ask whether God is instructing Adam/Noah to have babies, or just telling them to fan out in the world - we want to understand that some are going to be coming to this verse who are righteously angry at the way our culture has sold out to the world system, and are zealous to direct Christians away from this soul sucking pursuit. Some in this camp are going to cling to this verse and say, "Aha! See! God wants you to have babies you wicked, selfish, generation! Stop pursuing your own pleasures, and do the will of the Lord!"

As well placed as such a zeal is, for surely our generation is more selfish and greedy than any culture before it, but even better at deceiving themselves about it, and when one sees his brothers and sisters sacrificing their children on the altar of their own pleasure, it will produce anger, and zeal - but let's keep it on an even keel. This isn't the verse we ought to go to to make that argument.

If we don't have a verse that commands us to make babies, then does that mean that we can pretty much have as many or as few as we want, and God doesn't care? I don't think so either.

If someone comes to me and wonders how many children God expects them to have I don't get all, "well, um, I don't know.. um, I don't want to offend you, um... Lots of people think this, and um, others think that, and um, you know, there are godly people on both sides of the issue, so ah, I am not sure, you know, there, um, isn't a verse on this one, so ah, um..." I think that is a fool or a coward might do.

Here is a good verse to start with: whatsoever you do, do unto the Lord. That includes both having babies and choosing not to have babies. Ask yourself a few pointed questions, and be willing to answer them as honestly as you are able and especially examine your answers to see if they serve some personal agenda or not.

Here are some examples of pointed questions:
[1] Can any couple (whether naturally or even in a petree dish) conceive a child without God's personal intervention? That is does God personally author each life, or does He merely (and impersonally) rubber-stamp whatever we by science or nature, conceive?

We ask this question because if God is the Author of life, then every conception is a providential work of God, and whatever role we play in bringing this conception to fruition was planned long ago by our sovereign God.

[1b] If God is the Author of life, would it be possible for a couple to produce more children than God intends for them to have?

We ask this because we live in a world where women born barren can still, through fertility drugs, and in vitro fertilization produce children. Can it be that mankind is able to actually sidestep or outright thwart God's will by artificially coercing these conception? If God is sovereign and reigns providentially, then even those who are conceived by and through these means were intended to be conceived thus by God.

[2] If God is the Author of life, is it possible for a couple to have less children than God intends for them to have?

This isn't just the opposite of the previous question. Conception happens when it happens, whether naturally or artificially - sometimes it works, some times it don't. We cannot make life happen just because we have all the building blocks - the best we can do is put them together and wait and see if life happens. But we have way more control over taking a life. In the US a couple can have three dozen children and legally kill them all, one right after the other, as long as those children haven't been fully born yet. Likewise, a couple who abstains indefinitely, can certain keep themselves from having children - and this would be a clear violation of scripture since we are commanded to make our bodies available to our spouses except for times of fastings etc.

Here then we may well disobey God, which while never his will, is nevertheless endured for our sakes. We may either kill the unborn children God gives us, or we can interfere with the "design of life" by deny it the opportunity to begin, that is, we can engage in procreative activities, but artificially inhibit the creation of life.

[3] Do you believe that God doesn't care whether you have children or not?

[4] Have you ever expected God to work in one way and been surprised when He worked in another?

[5] Has it been your experience that you have always known what's best for you, or has God wanted things for you that you rebelled against and only later realized God's way really was best?

[6] Why did God close the womb of some women in scripture?

[7] If God hasn't [a] "closed the woman's womb" in your marriage, and if God has
[b] commanded you to not withhold your bodies from one another, and if [c] no life can begin unless God ordains it to - doesn't it seem like the size of your family is supposed to be ... up to God?

End of questions

It comes down to a matter of trust and control. Many will say that they trust that God is in control, but when it comes to family planning, they feel God wants them to have as many as feels good the them. The decision is made, usually after a fair bit of superficial soul searching, but inevitably it seems God always wants people to have only as many children as will allow them to maintain some quality of life they believe themselves (and any potential new life) to be entitled to.

The fact that God the husband is presently virile by God's providential command, and the fact that the wife is fertile by the same, and that God has clearly commanded them to engage in procreational activity, and that God will not create a new life if it is not his will to do so - these never seem to factor into the decision, but more often than not I hear that after so many kids they prayed about it, and "felt" that God was okay with that number "too".

So my answer to the question is barbaric to some. I say have as many children as God gives you. You can't possibly have more than you're supposed to. If that seems wrong to you ask yourself why it seems wrong. If you dig deep enough you may learn that it only seems wrong to you because deep down you will think, say, and do anything to deny God that kind of control over your life.

I know that everyone thinks of themselves as the exception. Yeah, we agree Dan, there are some people like that, but our situation is different, in our family we had this thing happen, and then this other thing? We didn't really have much say in the matter, our hands were really tied, and so we prayed about it and read the bible a lot, and slowly convinced ourselves, er, became convinced by what we saw in scripture and felt in our prayerful little hearts - and came to understand that the only reason we would ever have more children would be to make everyone else think we were holy - and boy, that's not a good reason to have kids - so we know that God wanted us to stop when we did.


Remember Joash and Elisha (2 Kings 13:18-19): Then [Elisha] said, "Take the arrows," and [Joash] took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground," and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it But now you shall strike Aram only three times."

Whenever some Christian tells me that they had so many children and felt good about it, I am reminded of Joash. He probably felt "good" about it too. Surely three was sufficient... right? I mean he *did* do the smashing - kooky as it may have seemed - didn't he? He smashed the arrows, not once, not twice, but a good solid three times. Okay, sure, his arm still had enough strength for a few more smashes, but surely God didn't expect him to do EVERYTHING with his whole heart? God probably just wanted him to, you know, smash the arrows until he felt good about it... right?

Here is how most Christians decide how many children they are going to have - they will try and have one of each, boy and girl, and are willing to go as far as having three kids to make that happen. After that they will find some way to say that God doesn't want them to have any more kids, and the guy will go get an operation. If they can pull off a boy/girl in the first two, then God wants them to stop there. If there is a very strong desire to have one of each gender and they still have three of a kind - they may go to four, and again if they went to three in order to get the pair - they may want to go for bookends - two boys and two girls - so they may go for the four just because it is clearly God's will that there be gender symmetry in the house.

Once they have what they came for, they find some way to say God is okay with that, and get offended if anyone says otherwise.

I kid you not.

Yet having said all that I did not write this to judge anyone. It may be that I am simply to immature spiritually too lacking in grace, too sure of my own opinion, and in my pride I come off as condemning, or worse, unloving. Listen - these are some of the deepest decisions that people make, and I while I write frankly, don't think that these things are as cut and dry as I have laid them out in print. We should ask ourselves these questions, but we cannot make these decisions for others. We can do our best to point people in the direction in which we thing the answer lies - but we cannot stand in the place of their judge - to their own Master they stand or fall, and He is able to make them stand. So be gentle, dear reader, even if I have been a little heavy handed here, in print.
posted by Daniel @ 11:50 AM   4 comment(s)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Was Judas Iscariot Saved?
Um, no.

Seriously. NO! ... NO! NO! NO!

He was certainly given authority to do miracles along with the other apostles, he prayed like a pro, knew the scriptures as well as any of them, was even chummy with the Lord, and had serious responsibilities amongst the apostles. The guy was certainly religious, but seriously... even though the Holy Spirit ministered to him, even though Christ ministered to him, even though Christ granted Judas authority to cast out demons and heal the sick - yet for all that Judas went out from the apostles because these things did not save Judas, he lacked one thing that the rest of the apostles had, and that is why he left them - because he was not of them.


posted by Daniel @ 9:51 AM   11 comment(s)
Monday, May 25, 2009
As Far As Music Goes, I Like Blues.
Lord, I had a woman
She was nice lovin' in ev'ry way
Lord, I had a woman
She was nice lovin' in ev'ry way
Lord, but she died an left me
I have the blues on ev'ry Decoration Day

Lord, I hated to see her leave me
Because these are the last words
My baby had to say
Lord, I hate to see her leave me
Because these are the last words
My baby had to say
She told me to bring her some flowers
On ev'ry Decoration Day

People, you havin' a good time, now?
Just like the flowers that comes in May
Peoples, you havin' a good time, now?
Just like the flowers that comes in May
Now, but Sonny Boy thinks about his baby
On ev'ry Decoration Day

Fare you well, mm
Baby, I ain't got no mo' to say
Fare you well, mm
Baby, I ain't got no mo' to say
Lord, but I'll always remember
I won't never forget, 'Decoration Day'.

- Sonny Boy Williamson
posted by Daniel @ 9:22 AM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Art Thou Not Puffethed Up?
No, this is not a post about how corny and fake it sounds to talk to God in King James English when you normally talk to the rest of us in standard, modern English. Nor is it a post complaining about the horrible abuse done to the archaic pronouns in said attempts.

No, this post is about whether it is pious or stupid to do something that seems spiritual but isn't really.

I trust the Lord to keep my family as safe as His perfect will allows, by that I mean accidents and calamity are sometimes allowed because they bring with them lessons that cannot be learned otherwise, and anyone who is serious about being God's servant, is willing to accept whatever tools are needed for the ministry God prepares each of us for. He does and has prepared good works beforehand, that we should walk in them - and some of that preparation comes in forms the world would regard as tragedy - whether pain, suffering, personal loss, calamity or what have you - the man of God trusts God in and through it all. Which isn't to say the man of God is always happy, never riled, and everything works out dandy - just as he would like it to - it doesn't; but it is to say that the man of God, at the end of the day, trusts that all things do work together for God to those who love God and are called, not according to their own purpose, but according to His.

So, I do trust the Lord to keep my family safe - as safe as His perfect will allows. I don't want them to be kept safe according to my understanding, but according to God's understanding, and that could (and often does) look very different than I would have it be. My nine year old daughter, for instance, has a skin condition that often covers her hands in open running sores. When she is crying and asking me to intercede on her behalf, that God would take it away, my heart is sorely tested, for I not only have to believe God's will is perfect, I must comfort my daughter with that truth. I must explain that God isn't our servant, that we are in fact His servants, and that God has promised to give us the tools for that service - some of which are pleasant, and some of which are not. What strengthens us is that we trust that God is truly there, that these things are truly His will, and that we be willing to pray as our Lord prayed, "Please take this cup away, nevertheless, your will (and not ours) be done." There is nothing wrong with asking, and even asking more than once, presuming we are not simply asking to satisfy our own desires. Contentment comes from knowing Immanuel (God is with us).

That is what trust looks like. It isn't me demanding that God heal my little girl right now, then clenching my teeth under the strain of a person effort to convince myself that God is going to do it. Brainwashed people can be utterly convinced of a thing, but that conviction is hardly trust - it is vacuous. Trust isn't the ability to convince yourself of something you have no right to be convinced of. Trust is knowing a thing is true because God has said so.

Thus there is nothing pious about me telling my children to go play in traffic because I trust that God will look after them, nor do I pretend something is wrong with some one's faith if they don't jump on the false piety band-wagon. Listen: there is nothing pious about doing something dumb because you trust God to clean up the mess afterwards.

If I find in myself an unquenchable desire to go to some country and share the gospel with people who have never heard it before; and seeking counsel from those those members in my congregation whose walk and conduct and wisdom have shown these people to be godly, and if they agree that I am gifted for such a thing, and my spouse is as desirous as I am, and I find that the trappings of this world do not bind me as they do others so that selling my house, and leaving my job are all trivial matters to me, for I trust in the word of God that such things will be provided if I look to the Kingdom of God first - and in the strength of that conviction I quit my job, sell my house, and go to some far away land with my family - that is called "stepping out in faith".

Buying a house that is more than I can afford and trusting God to make up the difference by getting me more money - that isn't stepping out in faith, it's ridiculous.

Sending my "Christian" kids to a Muslim school because I trust God to protect their faith is not stepping out in faith - it's called tempting/testing God, and it's as far from piety as smart is from stupid.

That's not to say that we can never take a risk, or do something daring, or simply trust God for certain things that are outside the standard pale. But it is to say that dumb decisions that are buttressed foolishly by the misguided notion that one is stepping out in faith ought to be avoided by sober Christians.

There is a kind of mysticism that masquerades as faith, and we ought to be on guard against it. There are few things as blinding as ignorance pretending to be piety, for just as knowledge puffeth up, so wilful ignorance puffeth up also, and it comes in all kinds of flavors.

Let us therefore examine ourselves at every opportunity (as opposed to examining others), to be sure that when we step out in faith we are not simply calling on God to do our bidding and pretending there is something holy about it. If we do see what looks to be error in someone else - let us be gentle in dealing with it - ask questions, and listen to the answers. You can't open the eyes of someone born blind, but God can in and through you if you are patient, not quarrelsome, and apt to teach.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:22 AM   9 comment(s)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Adjusting The Chain Tension Via The Eccentric Bottom Bracket Of A Giant 2009 Seek 1
First some terminology:

Crank: The front chain ring assembly including the pedals, the arms they are attached to and the big front gears. It's called the crank because that is what you crank when you are pedaling.

Bottom Bracket (abbr. "BB"): It is a cylinder that is packed with bearings and located at the bottom of the bike acting as an axle of sorts, around which the crank to turns freely on the frame.

Drop Out: the slot on the frame where the rear axle "slides" into the frame.

Horizontal Drop Out: So called because the rear axle slides in horizontal to the ground - so that one can adjust the tension on the chain by moving the rear axle toward the front of the bike (to loosen chain), or pulled away from the front (to tighten the chain). Anyone who has had a single speed or a three speed growing up remembers doing this.

Vertical Drop Out: So called because the rear axle slides into the frame perpendicular to the ground; thus one cannot adjust the chain tension by moving the axle forwards or backwards, since neither is possible. If your bike has a vertical drop out, you need either a chain tensioner to adjust the chain tension, or an Eccentric Bottom Bracket.

Chain Tensioner: It looks like a derailleur, but is (essentially) just a cog on a spring that uses the tension of the spring to keep the chain taut on a bike with a vertical drop out.

Eccentric Bottom Bracket (abbr. "EBB"): A BB that can be adjusted to move forward or backward within the hollow cylinder on the frame where the BB normally goes.

Okay, if you are still reading this, it's probably because you have a bike with an eccentric bottom bracket, whose chain is now loose, and you haven't any clue how to tighten it. This post will tell you how to do so (specifically for a 2009 Giant Seek 1 bike, but the principles work on other models as well).

First, I haven't ripped the BB out of my Seek 1 (yet), but I am told that it is a Shimano HollowTech II. Here is a list of the tools you will need:
  • 6mm hex tool
  • pin spanner (you can use needle nose pliers in a pinch)
  • a ruler or tapeline

You should start by thoroughly cleaning and oiling your chain, and getting the area you plan to work spic and span. You don't want dust, gravel or any such thing to get into the BB and grind away like sand paper when you are finished, so treat the area as though you were a surgeon, and dirt was infection.

You should also fight the urge to turn your bike upside down for this procedure. The reason being that the casing around the BB opens on the bottom side of your bike, and since things (like little tiny grains of sand etc.) tend to fall downward it is worth your while to make sure they don't fall into your work.

Now, before you begin, I need to caution you. I am not a bike mechanic, I just play one on my blog. If the directions I give you cause you to destroy your bike, and kill your dog - don't hold me responsible. I am simply telling you what "I" did to adjust "my" chain tension on "my" Seek 1.

One more word of advice. Before you begin, give your crank a turning by hand - listen carefully to it. Does the chain make a scratching sound? What does the weight feel like? When you are finished you want it to sound the same and the weight to feel the same, and if you don't pay attention beforehand, you won't have any point of reference to know if that scraping sound was always there, or was added by something you did.

I will describe the whole thing in steps, and with pics - but I want to just give a quick overview. First, relax. You don't need to take off the pedals, or pull out the BB - all you are going to do is loosen the bolts that clamp the BB casing, then using a pin spanner or some needle nose pliers, you are going to turn the EBB within the casing (by hand) which is going to tighten or loosen the chain, then you are going to measure the distance you can wiggle the chain to see if it is too loose or tight - when you are satisfied that all is well, you will again tighten the bolts that clamped down the BB casing.

So without further adieu:

STEP ONE (Clean, clean, clean!): Clean the area around the BB - make it spotless - use water and a mild detergent if you have to. Clean and oil your chain, there is no point in adjusting the chain tension if you haven't cleaned and oiled the chain. Remember: resist the urge to turn your bike upside down!

STEP TWO (Loosen the EBB casing): Using your 6mm Hex tool, loosen the bolts that are clamping down the BB casing, you can't miss them, as they are standing out at the bottom of your BB casing. Note1: Don't damage the rubber gasket, or try and pry the casing open - it only needs to be loosened. Note2: you may hear some grit or dirt fall out of the screw holes in casing. If that is the case, you may want to take the screws right out, and blow out the holes with air or even just with a straw and your own power. Note3: Take note of how tight the screws were so that when you tighten them again, you don't over tighten them or put them in too loose.

STEP THREE (Identify the pins): On the LEFT side of the crank you will note two pin holes in the EBB (see photo)

The scratch on mine was there from the shop, I didn't put that there (btw). These are just little holes, they don't have anything in them, the whole point of having them there is so that you can put something in them to twist the EBB in the casing.

STEP FOUR (Rotate the EBB): Rotating the EBB one way brings the BB forward, and rotating the other way brings it backward. This of course moves the crank which tightens or loosens the chain. It shouldn't be difficult to do, especially if you have a proper spanner - but it isn't going to feel all loosie-goosie either. NOTE1: You won't have to rotate it much to get a big effect, so go slow, and go careful. NOTE2: If you don't have a spanner and are using something else - be extra careful. I did mine just as I was leaving work, and because I didn't have a spanner on my, I had to use my needle nose pliers - and in my haste they slipped out a couple of times.

I can't really remember whether it was clockwise or counter clockwise, but really, this is pretty intuitive at this point, if you turn it the wrong way, just turn it the other way. No biggie. What you are trying to do is rotate the EBB within the casing by putting something in the pin holes so that you can turn the EBB (see photo):

STEP FIVE (Measure the tension): For most bikes, you should have about a quarter of an inch play up and down on the chain when measured from the top. What you want to do is rotate the EBB until you find that sweet spot where you have only about a quarter inch chain play on the chain (see photo)

Note1: Don't get all crazy about making the measurement perfect. I mean, you should be able to eye-ball a quarter inch, especially if you put a ruler as your back drop when you measure it. But don't waste your time trying to make it "exactly" a quarter of an inch. Close enough if good enough for this measurement. Note2: The measurement is taken from the middle of the chain, as opposed to it's top or bottom. From the arrows it looks like you measure from the top of the chain, but it is supposed to be from the middle. I don't feel like doctoring another photo, so you will just have to know I mean 1/4" (6.35mm) from the centerline.

FINAL STEP (close it up!): When you got the BB where you want it, tighten the 6mm screws. Note1: Don't squish the gasket by tightening it more than it was when you started. I am sure there is some torque value you have to set it to, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere. But to keep you from destroying your bottom bracket, let me say this - don't over tighten the screws. Note2: Tighten the screws evenly - don't leave one tight, and the other loose.

Once you have done this once, you should be able to do it again with ease, so long as you have the tools on hand. As I have said, I am not a bike mechanic, but because I couldn't find any info on this myself (at least not in a timely manner - and especially for this particular bike), I opted to write this quick tutorial for other Seek owners. You can ask questions, but I can't guarantee my answers.

Here are some hard to find links that may be of service to you:
Cannondale: Chain Tension Adjustment For Eccentric Bottom Bracket
2009 Giant Seek 1 (BikePedia)
Sheldon Brown's Nexus 8 manual (Forerunner and very similar to the Alfine Hub)
The Alfine Hub (SG-S501), black

This post will probably not help very many people, but those it does help, I hope it helps very well.
posted by Daniel @ 12:01 PM   13 comment(s)
Hiding Behind Secrets...

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. - Deuteronomy 29:29 [NASB]

Has this, or anything like it, ever happened to you?

You: So you admit that God chose, from the before foundation of the world, those who would come to faith?

Some guy: That is what the scriptures say, and I have no problem with that.

You: So you believe that God chooses whom He will save?

Some guy: I do.

You: Yet you insist that Jesus actually died for no one in particular?

Some guy: That's right, I believe that God saves a person because that person chooses God.

You: But that is irrational. You cannot say on the one hand that God chooses, then on the other say that man chooses - there can only be one cause, not two.

Some guy: Well, that's just one of those secret things of God - a mystery we will never understand.

You: The secret things of God are things that God has hidden, not things God has shown but you have failed to rationally understand.

Some guy: You're so arrogant! You think you can understand the hidden things??

You: Um, no, I don't think I can understand the hidden things, rather I think you are using the notion of "the secret things of God" to justify covering your ears when your theology is shown to be irrational, and therefore wrong. A thing isn't "secret" just because your theology chokes on it - that's probably an indication that there is something wrong with one of your assumptions.

Some guy: I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

It doesn't really matter what your conversation was about, as long as it got to the place where some brother or sister was shown a gaping hole in their thinking, and they immediately pulled the "it's a secret thing of God" card on you, then considered you filled with pride and arrogance because your theology wasn't quite as "hole-y" as theirs (pun intended), and finally refused to hear any more about it since they had no intention of being taught anything new, having loved the old wine of ignorance.

This post isn't about who is right or wrong however. It is about using the secrets things of God as a theological "catch all" to insulate yourself from instruction that you don't want to hear. Being teachable is a sign of humility, and humility a sign of maturity. It is good to be convinced in what you believed, but it is arrogant to imagine that because you are genuinely sincere, you are therefore right in everything you believe.

If someone points out something irrational in your theology - don't agree to disagree, that is not how iron sharpens iron - rather humble yourself and open your ears - give that person your full and open attention, make sure that you so fully understand what they are saying that you can not only repeat it back to him and be understood without it sounding snide - but that you also understand how this fits into the rest of that person's theology. Ask questions as though you were the one who was wrong, in fact, as much as is in you - have that kind of heart when you receive instruction (that is, a contrite heart). If after fully understanding the other's position you stand convinced of your own, then explain why it is that you remain unconvinced, and ask the other to show you where your reasoning is flawed. What a blessing it will be if he or she can and does show you some flaw in your reasoning.

If you are the one who is on the receiving end of some irrational theology be firm but patient, and especially guard yourself from taking the role of teacher. Come along side, do not stand above. Don't tell yourself that you can argue someone into a better conviction - all you can do is lay the truth as you know it before their eyes, and God does the rest.

It has been my own experience, that this situation happens more often when each person presumes himself to be the other's teacher.

posted by Daniel @ 8:52 AM   7 comment(s)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Christ's Righteousness vs. Our Righteousness.
A sinless person could maintain their sinless state through perfect obedience, but a sinner who maintains a sinless state after having sinned is still a sinner.

I used the example of virginity to make the point in a previous post. Abstinence, if practiced by a virgin maintains that virginity, but abstinence practiced after having lost one's virginity does not produce "new" virginity.

It is patently obvious that obedience does not make us blameless - that is, no amount of righteousness can undo even a minuscule but previous indiscretion. Once you sin, that's it - you are no longer righteous, in the sense of being blameless. All your obedience thereafter cannot reproduce that blameless state - you are spoiled, ...unclean - and all your righteous efforts cannot clean you up - they are, for that purpose at least, about as useful for cleaning you up as filthy rags.

With the exception of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is no man who has ever walked the earth blameless before God. Given a chance, every last person eventually sins and no sinner is that kind of righteous. No sinner can or will (therefore) ever be reconciled to God by subsequent obedience.

This is where the gospel message is so important, since we cannot, through subsequent obedience, become blameless once blame has been found in us, we cannot be reconciled to God by our own obedience. The way of reconciliation then, is not through personal obedience, but through faith. By faith we enter into a union with Christ, and it is through this union that our sins were presented to God on Calvary, and there Christ died the first death here on earth at the hands of men, and again the second death in our stead, at the hands of God.

We make a distinction here for clarity - God doesn't punish sin, He punishes sinners because of their sin. Through the believer's union with Christ, God punished believers in Christ on Calvary, and when Christ had fully suffered God's spent wrath, He died and so too died every believer in Christ. We were died and were buried with Christ - that is what Paul writes. But because Christ was innocent, God raised Him up after spending all of His wrath. We who were in Christ, united to Him by faith, we had to be raised up with Christ when Christ was raised, for such is the defining nature of our union with Christ. God's wrath being entirely spent, it was just and right for God to raise us up in Christ. Having spent His wrath on us in Christ, God had no reason to punish us further, but He also had no reason to raise us up again to life - the death that we died, we died justly. But Christ, being united with us could not be justly held in the grave, and so for the sake of His righteousness, God had to raise Him, and since we were in Christ, and since our penalty had been received in full - there was nothing stopping God from raising Christ, and us with Him.

So when we talk about justifying righteousness, we are talking about that which obligated God to raise Christ from the dead - a blamelessness that requires our just God to undo the wrongful death of His innocent Christ. We speak of this righteousness as being imputed to us who are in Christ - for it is this same righteousness that merited Christ's resurrection.

We cannot add to this righteousness by acts of personal righteousness, nor can we take away from it by acts of personal disobedience. We are justified by a righteousness that is entirely external to ourselves - a righteousness that is received by and through trusting that God will absolutely save ever sinner who humbles himself in faith before God.

Now, I want to be certain that the nature of our salvation isn't foggy on this point, so I will examine how this wouldn't work with some other sinless sacrifice: Consider a sinless new born babe.

If we could be united by faith to a sinless new born babe, God would be obligated because of our sin, to pour His wrath out on us, and we would die the second death, along with the babe, and God would be obliged by His own righteousness to raise us up again, along with the babe into the same relationship we now stand in - MAKE SURE YOU GET THIS PART - that is, we would be raised sinless but continue in the curse of Adam because the babe, though sinless, has inherited Adam's curse - we would be just as enslaved to sin as ever before, and every last one of us would sin again - because we would be raised right back into the same pit we are presently in.

Christ wasn't just sinless, He was outside of the curse of Adam - the second Adam. What was raised in Christ was raised outside of Adam's curse - our new life is hidden in Christ, incorruptible. If we could find some other innocent sacrifice born of Adam's race, it could only suffice to raise us all back into this corruptible system. Christ, therefore, is the only path for both sinners and sinless babes to be reconciled to God. Sinners need to be reconciled to God on account of their personal sin, and need to be raised up in new life, and sinless babes, although they need no Savior from their own sin, they need to be raised in Christ to be saved from Adam's curse.

Thus even innocent, sinless babes need Christ - not for their personal sins, for they are not condemned on this account - but they need to be saved out of Adam's race - to be saved out of Adam's curse -and while scripture is very clear that we are saved from -sin- by faith, it doesn't give instruction about how we are saved from Adam's curse. Speculate as you will, but I believe innocent children are saved from Adam's curse, not by faith, since no newborn can exercise faith, but rather by grace. I base that upon the scriptures which suggest that God calls the children to Himself, ...period.

But all this sort of righteousness is what we would call imputed. You do not have it because of your obedience, nor do you lose it because of disobedience. You have it solely and only because you have been united to Christ by grace through faith.

Yet scripture speaks often of personal righteousness. Do we imagine, for a moment that well over 50 references to "the righteous" in the book of proverbs are referring to perfectly sinless people who by their own obedience have maintained a state of blamelessness from birth? No, of course not! We mean people who are practicing obedience, or said another way, we mean those who are humble and contrite before their God.

A lot of bad theology flows from an unwillingness, or an inability to make a clear distinction between the righteousness that justifies, and the righteousness that flows from personal obedience.

There are people who join themselves to the idea of Christianity, not because they see themselves as sinners, or recognize the irreconcilable position they are in or tremble under the full knowledge that their condemnation is just and that they deserve hell for their continuing rebellion - they don't see Christianity as restoring them back into a right relationship with God through the sacrificial efforts of Christ, received by faith, rather they regard God as a cosmic killjoy who is going to send them to hell if they don't join the right team - and so, because they love themselves, they join themselves to the Christian religion. The moment they consider their eternity secure, they pretty much have everything they came for, because they did not come to Christ for reconciliation - they are just jumping through hoops to try and avoid hell.

But scripture says that Christ came to save us from sin, not hell. It is certainly true that in being saved from sin, we will be saved from hell -but there is a difference between coming to Christ as a get out of hell ticket, and coming to Christ to be reconciled to God, and saved from our sin.

I mention this because the next, natural question is, if we are eternally secure by Christ's righteousness, and if our own righteous obedience cannot add to that, and if our disobedience cannot take away from that... why bother being obedient at all?

I say, this is the natural question because it is the question the natural (as opposed to the Spiritual) man would ask. Why should I obey? What's the point? Does it make any difference?

The answer is, of course it makes a HUGE difference, but first and foremost we need to understand that such a notion has many facets.

Consider the fact that the moment one is genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit begins to indwell that person. The Holy Spirit immediately begins a very real, very experiential ministry in the life of every genuine believer. They begin to repent because the Holy Spirit begins to minister in their life. Anyone who doesn't experience the promised ministry of the Holy Spirit does not have the Holy Spirit in Him, and is therefore not born again. They may think themselves to be genuine, but they aren't. It is not our place to decide who is genuine and who isn't. We cannot look into the hearts of men - even God's angels are not fit for such a discerning ministry - as scripture tells us. So don't bother. If you think some one's faith is bunk, check your own spirit - God doesn't call us to bunkify one another, He calls us excommunicate believers who fail to evidence the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives by refusing to acknowledge and repent of sin. It may be that a genuine believer needs to be cast out of fellowship and handed over to Satan in order to learn repentance - so even excommunicating a professing believer doesn't "prove" their faith is false - all it proves is that they are unfit for fellowship.

I mention this because one facet of our obedience is clearly the fact that the Holy Spirit is at work inclining our hearts to obedience.

But there is more to this than just new inclinations. Scripture speaks of practical righteousness as a means to contentment, fulfillment, joy, peace... to put it in a nutshell - the way of righteousness is life more abundant. In other words, even a godless man, or someone from a false religion who obeys the commandments God gives His children - even such a one as this will reap a much better physical life than the one who pursues pleasures for pleasure's sake. There are very few people on their death bed lamenting the fact that they didn't drive the fanciest cars, or have the biggest houses. In fact, people tend to get very wise as death encroaches upon them - they see clearly, many for the first time, just how empty (the "preacher" would call it "vain") so many of our carnal pursuits are. They never bring joy, they merely bring temporal pleasure or ease by which we are momentarily numbed against a persistent emptiness.

We could say that the reason we should obey is simply because God's way is the best way for us. That is, we recognize by faith that nothing we can come up with is going to be better for us that what God has come up with. We obey because we trust God's way as much as we trust God.

Again, we could say that the reason we should obey is because without personal holiness (obedience) we cannot have fellowship with God in the here and now. The Christian who disobeys God isn't going to make God hate Him or turn away from him, but in the same token the Christian who turns (momentarily) away from obeying God is going to be like the prodigal son wallowing in the pig's mire - spiritually starving and struggling, and miserable on that account. Who will ascend God's holy hill? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. Obedience serves, amongst other things, to bring us into closer fellowship with God.

Likewise our faith and maturity grows as we obey the will of God. Drawing near to God allows God to draw near to you. For those who have learned this first hand, it is sweeter than any pleasure the world has to offer.

Thus our obedience does not maintain or produce a justified state - it doesn't get us out of hell, nor can it keep us from hell. Our righteousness serves no one more than it serves ourselves. God doesn't gain anything from our righteousness - in fact He gives to us when we are righteous. God doesn't lose anything when we are disobedient, except the opportunity to bless us. If we practice righteousness, therefore, it is either because we have learned the joy of the Lord (that's the right reason) or because we are trying to merit something (that's the wrong reason).

We should be encouraging one another daily to pursue the peace, joy, and fellowship that comes through righteousness, rather than telling people to buckle up and obey because that's what Christian's do. Fear will make a man obey in the moment, but love will make a man a willing, life long slave. Pursue love.

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posted by Daniel @ 10:02 AM   0 comment(s)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Should've Checked The Weather.
As many of you who bother to read my blog know, I cycle to work during the non-winter months. My ride is a fairly long one, as far as urban commutes go - about 16 kilometers, which is about ten miles (one way). My work is in the west, and my house in the east, and a good portion of my ride is along a long, straight as an arrow, stretch. When the wind is at your back down this stretch, it is a very fun ride, but when the wind is in your face, it is a lot of work.

Well today, it was raining cats and dogs, and to make matters worse there was a very, very strong wind from the west, which means my ride in was going to be a lot of leg-burning work. I knew it was raining when I left, but I didn't know about the wind.

So the rain was flying into my face, almost horizontal from the wind, and again, I am cyling into it, or rather trying to. The rain had come down so fast, the lane I was in was one long (miles long) puddle, and even standing on my pedals I wasn't getting much faster than a few miles per hour. I knew almost immediately that I was going to get soaked to the core, and that I was going to be late.

About half way through my ride, I rode through the ten thousandth murky, clay-gray puddle, only to learn that beneath the opaque surface was a tire destroying pot hole! You see, in a moment that seemed sweeter than it should have, the wind let up - it was only for a moment - but I used that moment to try and make up time. So when I hit the pot hole, I was going fast enough that it punctured a hole through one side of the tire and out the other. Of course, I didn't know it at the time, all I knew was that my back tire was suddenly very flat.

So I stopped. I carry a well stocked bag of tools with me (complete with patches and even a replacement tube); but this was my rear tire that had blown, and frankly, changing tubes on the rear tire of a bike with an internal gear hub is not as straight forward as it is with a regular tire. I knew this day would come, ...but I didn't think it would come in a driving storm like this.

So I called my boss and let him know I would be late, and commenced attemtping to repair the flat. I say, "attempting" because at this point I wasn't sure if the tire had suddenly gone flat because pinching the tube opened the valve, or because there was a genuine flat - and I wasn't sure if my pump would work with a presta valve (car tire valves, as well as most bikes use a "shraeder" style valve, but road bikes use a thinner valve called a "presta") I had tried out the pump in my basement before, and under "labratory" conditions it seemed to work ... sort of ... I had planned to get another pump - one that would work exclusively with a presta valve, but hadn't got around to it yet. So I spent the first twenty minutes trying to determine if I had a puncture, or if the pump was working with the valve.

If you have ever pumped up a tire, and tried to listen for the tell-tale "hiss" to let you know there is a puncture - try doing that on a road side at rush hour in a driving rain. The howling of the wind, the whooshing noise made as passing cars splashed by and the sound of the downpour were more than enough to mask any hint of a barely audible hiss. I honestly considered calling my wife and having her come and pick me up. Who can change a tire in this kind of weather?

But I took a deep breath, walked the bike to a nearby bus shelter, flipped it over, and got to work. Because it has an Internal Gear Hub, the gear cable is attached in a way that makes it impossible to remove the rear tire without a special tool (which I didn't have). You can however, lift the tire and pull out the tube on the brake side (as opposed to the chain side). So I did. Even with the tube out I couldn't tell if it was losing air because of a puncture, or because of a bad valve, or a bad pump. But, I tried my replacement tire, and the pump seemed to work well enough to rule out that possibility in the flattened tire.

At this point, I decided that I didn't care to dig through my damp saddle bag and find a patch - I had a new tube in my hand and figured I may as well use it. Twenty minutes later I was up and pumping. But it wasn't holding air very well. I rode a bit further, stopped and pumped in more air.

That is how the rest of the drive would have been had I not also rode through a stretch of wet clay and having absolutely no traction, had to get off and walk the bike through it. I grew an inch taller as each step caked on more wet clay to the bottom of my riding shoes.

Did I mention that my riding shoes clip into my pedals. Well, my new clay floor saw to it that this wasn't going to happen. So I rode in, the rest of the way, on half inflated tires, spitting clay everywhere as it flew off the back and front tires, drenched to my very core.

Did I mention I have this nasty infection over one knuckle on my left hand? Yeah, its an open, festering wound about as big as your thumbnail, and puffy and red on account of my having not taken care of it as well as I should have. In fact, last night, the infection was so sore, it was shooting up my arm - which is a pretty good indication that it is time to start doing something about it. (I used to heal so well as a child, this middle aged me is not as robust...!) So, because my daughter gets skin infections often (she has quite serious eczema), we have meds in the house that I could use in a pinch - and I pinched. By the time I woke up this morning the infection was not as puffy, pink, or painful.

But that was before I decided to cold soak it for an hour in my soggy, dirty, sweaty, riding gloves. The bandage fell off almost immediately, I would have left the glove off altogether if it wasn't so cold on the hands to do so...

Which is to say, I had an awesome ride in. One of the best so far. Praise the Lord, you know, I just narrowly escaped a serious injury yesterday on my ride to work, and this morning the only accident I had to endure didn't involve any cars running me over. I had plenty of time to think on my feet, and work under pressure, and even wonder, whimsically, if the Lord wasn't trying to instruct me through some life metaphors. Surely, this chain of calamity is no coincidence? Perhaps I am to learn something through this that cannot otherwise be learned.

I haven't figured anything out yet, so maybe it was just one of those Jobian tests, just not as severe. Either way, I certainly wasn't angry about it - though frustration did threaten to show up a few times.

All in all, it was just one ride of many, and fine fodder for a Wednesday post.
posted by Daniel @ 1:12 PM   4 comment(s)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Question: Was Jesus Born Righteous?
Was Christ our Lord born righteous, or did He, through subsequent acts of obedience, progress from a neutral starting point to "righteousness" by means of works?

We really have two choices:
[1] Christ was born righteous, and His subsequent obedience maintained that righteousness (like being born a virgin and subsequent abstinence maintains that virginity), or

[2] Christ was born neutral, and His subsequent obedience produced righteousness (like being born neutral, and becoming a virgin through subsequent abstinence)

Noah, or so we read in Genesis 6:9, was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Does this mean that Noah was justified before God on his own dime? Not if Paul has taught us anything - but it does teach us something about what righteousness means - since this is the first mention of it in scripture - it has to do with being blameless.

The man who has never received a command and therefore has never disobeyed a command, is just as blameless as the man who has received thousands of commands and obeyed all of them. The latter hasn't produced blamelessness by and through his obedience, he has only maintained the state of blamelessness he started with.

The distinction is critical, for if we say that righteousness is produced by obedience, then any act of obedience will produce a new state of righteousness (i.e. blamelessness); we can't have it both ways, either Christ was born righteous and maintained that righteousness through obedience, or Christ was born neutral, and produced "new" righteousness through obedience. If the former then what is to say that all babes are not born righteous, and if the latter, then what is to say that all who obey are not made right by the righteousness that their own effort produced?

This seems like a good and logical place to open the topic to discussion.
posted by Daniel @ 1:40 PM   30 comment(s)
Friday, May 08, 2009
Book Review: Just Do Something
I know a lot of people have already reviewed this book, in fact I purchased it because the reviews I read led me to believe it was going to be an excellent articulation of what God's word teaches us about His will. Without hesitation, I can say with joy, that this effort really delivers.

I have another book by DeYoung, (Between Two Worlds: Why We're Not Emergent), well, co-written by DeYoung, and I liked his straightforward, pastoral manner. Warm, engaging, and solid. I like the mix of honesty, candor and discernment found in this tome, which is conversationally an excellent and easy going read - but peppered satisfyingly with the sort of stuff you nod your head at emphatically, and immediately want to share with others the way in which the author articulated it.

Ten quick chapters, just over an hundred pages or so: you could read the book in an afternoon. I don't have a lot of time, so I was reading a chapter here, two there, etc., and found it easy to pick up where I left off.

Briefly, the book shows from scripture that God does not intend for us to learn his will through subjective, in-the-moment divinations, but rather through simply trusting what God has already said in His word. Basically, the whole book could be summarized by a verse in Psalm 32, "Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check" - that is, don't imagine that God is channeling moment by moment instructions to you, and that He expects you to divine what these are so that He can lead you around all day in the say way one leads a donkey with a carrot - God doesn't want you to be foolish; He wants you to understand what His will is, and tells you plainly (in scripture) what that is. The rest of it you work out with fear and trembling, and not with liver shivers and subjective impressions.

Pastor Kevin is very gentle in his manner too, recognizing that many in the church will have come under fanciful teachings in this arena, and he handles this with tact, dignity, and with a warm but firm certainty.

All in all, I give it four and a half stars out of five, and only because I don't like to give out five stars.
posted by Daniel @ 7:07 AM   7 comment(s)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Thursday Haiku Challenge...
It's Thursday, and I didn't feel like posting anything of great significance.

So I thought I would do another Haiku challenge. Today's challenge is to write an haiku that captures (as best as one can) some Christian doctrine.

Have fun.

(Haiku format: a poem that is three lines and seventeen syllables long, going five, seven, then five syllables per line).


posted by Daniel @ 1:26 PM   19 comment(s)
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
The Best Day Ever...
Today is the best day ever, barring the day that Christ rose from the grave of course.

Why you ask? It is the best day ever because no other day has ever been made by our God and king that is closer to His return than this one. We are one day closer to the return of the King, and that makes this day, one day better than yesterday - in fact it makes it the best day ever, since Christ rose from the dead.

Here then is perhaps my favorite (for the moment) SpongeBob song, following the theme; give it a listen, it'll cheer you up if you remember the King is coming.


posted by Daniel @ 9:34 AM   6 comment(s)
Monday, May 04, 2009
BUNK: I Can Forgive Others, But I Can't Forgive Myself...
The more serious you are about the Lord the more you are going to loathe the sin in your life. That's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. Sin is rebellion, and the conviction we feel when we want to sin is the ministry of the Holy Spirit who, having informed our conscience through God's word, uses our conscience to lead us away from an act of rebellion. If we obey what we know is right, then we are walking in the Spirit, and if we transgress what we know is right, we are grieving the Spirit.

As we continue to grieve the Holy Spirit in some area by transgressing our conscience, that same conscience becomes "seared". A seared conscience is one that has been trained to ignore the Holy Spirit in some area of our life.

If Christ is in us, we know full well those areas of our lives where we have learned to obey, and perhaps more sharply, those areas where we continue to transgress, and thereby grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Here is where this "I can't forgive myself" stuff comes into play. The enemy uses the guilt we feel over our consistent failures to convince us that God cannot really forgive us until we really, really, really, overcome whatever particular sin is presently at the center of our struggle.

Now, for some people this tactic is more effective than for others, and this has a lot to do with the way each person was raised.

To skip all the psychobabble, some of us were brought up in by parents who used guilt and degradation as tools to provoke obedience: If these were disobedient, they were made to understand that their disobedience demonstrated a lack of gratitude, love, and appreciation. They were, to use a Christian theme, out of fellowship with their parents, and in need of reconciliation to restore that fellowship. They were made to feel guilt in order to produce a conciliatory response of obedience, and when they obeyed they were reconciled.

The problem with that is that it places the onus of reconciliation on the offender who must purchase forgiveness through obedience - a model that is quite contrary to the way God deals with us.

Jesus Christ is our reconciliation. We are reconciled, not by obedience, but by and through faith - and it happens at the moment we are saved, and we don't get any more reconciled after that. We can't increase our reconciliation by being righteous after we are saved, nor can we diminish it by sinning after we are saved. We are reconciled to God in Christ, and if we feel we cannot forgive ourselves it is because we are endeavoring to do what only Christ could do, and what Christ has already done - and we are doing it because we believe that once we have sinned, we need to make it right again by performing some penitent act whereby we are once again welcomed into God's grace.

Here is where the bunk comes in.

The person who is not willing to forgive himself is really not willing trust God. He simply refuses to believe that his relationship with God is brokered by and through the life of Jesus Christ. He wants to be his own mediator between himself and God - and until he can broker a deal, he is unwilling to accept the forgiveness that is already there.

Just as our upbringing can promote this effect, so too our theology can as well.

Sin does not break our fellowship with God. How could God (in the person of the Holy Spirit) ever convict us of sin if God abandoned us the moment we sinned? How could Christ mediate for us at the right hand of God if the moment we sinned we were suddenly shunned? Listen: Either God is for us, or He is against us, he is not flipping and flopping on account of our sin, especially given that it is He, and not us, Who is saving us from our sin.

Let's be clear here: God cannot look upon evil with favor (c.f. Habakkuk 1:13), but it is wrong to apply that so that idea if it makes God schizophrenic. Yes, God will not favor evil, but that doesn't mean that the moment the Christian commits sin, that God throws up his hands and abandons the Christian until such time as they can (in their own strength no less!) return to Him by and through obedience. Look, you cannot obey unless God is with you, and you certainly cannot restore yourself to God in your own strength if somehow you were separated from him. Your sin is evil, God takes no pleasure in it - but your relationship with God is through Christ and not through your own efforts - and that means that even your failures big or small cannot undo what Christ, by the giving of His life, has done.

The whole idea of not being able to forgive yourself is founded upon bad an exalting of self over the doctrines of scripture. If you can't forgive yourself, it isn't because you are holy, holy, holy - it is because you are ignorant and unbelieving; you refuse to accept the magnitude of God's work, either because you are blind, or because you are mistaken, but the solution is the same: Read the bible and learn that God is for you, not against you. You unwillingness to forgive yourself is an act of rebellion and pride, casting the work of Christ into the mud, and replacing it with self righteousness. Get over yourself sinner, and accept Christ fully.


posted by Daniel @ 9:07 AM   3 comment(s)
Friday, May 01, 2009
BUNK: I can't love others till I can love myself.
I thought I would start a new label today... the "BUNK" label. It will be a sort of folder into which I file my polemic opinions against common secular wisdom.

We'll start in Ephesians 5:29 where we read: "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church," (ESV)

Do you eat regularly? Do you seek out shelter from the elements? Do you make sure you are dressed each day? You do? Why do you do that? You do that because you cherish your flesh. If you have a rock in your shoe, you immediately bend down and get it out, because you want your flesh to be as comfortable in every situation as humanly possible.

Many people who believe that they cannot love others until they love themselves are in fact deceived by their narcissism. Narcissism? Isn't that when you love yourself to the exclusion of others? Why yes, it is.

Instilling a high self esteem in students is still a primary goal of many educational institutions. The idea is that children will be more successful if they feel better about themselves is probably what is driving this program. What we are seeing however is a generation of people who have been programmed by the system to believe they deserve the life of the rich and famous, whether or not they got what it takes to earn it.

What happens when you think you deserve wealth, success, and all that goes with it? Well, let me tell you. No matter how educated, perfect, and "self-esteemed" your culture gets, you are still going to have rich people and poor people, famous people, and common people. You will not have a society where every person is rich, every person is famous, and every person is esteemed highly by everyone else.

There is a difference between training a child to be content with the way that God has made him or her, and quite another to train a child to believe that he or she deserves all that the world has to offer. How many young people are going out and mortgaging their lives in the first five years of their adulthood - so that they can have immediately what it took their parents a lifetime to acquire? Hasn't the economy shown us that it is folly to accommodate such a system?

I digress.

Listen, if you make sure that you eat every day, the bible holds that up as proof that contrary to anything you might say - you love yourself plenty. If you deny this saying, "That's different! I want to live, so I sustain myself, but I still don't like who I am - I wish I was someone else!", then you are blind also, because the only reason you want to be someone else is because you have an exaggerated opinion of what you deserve. You are not content because contentment is a lesson no one has ever taught you. Can I let you in on a secret? You cannot be hungry for something else and content at the same time, and being hungry for something else doesn't go away when you get it.

Take the man who wants to make $50,000 a year. He muses to himself, "I am not happy now, but I will be content when I make $50,0000 a year". In a short time he lands a job that makes the magic number, but finds he is not content. Now he says, I will be happy when I make $75,000 a year. But when that salary comes he realizes that he needs $125,000 a year for true happiness. The problem isn't that he doesn't have enough money to be content - the problem is that he hasn't learned to be content with what he has.

Do you think Jesus was content? How much did he have? Paul? I mean, the list could be quite long, as none of the apostles were wealthy. Now, what we say about money, we can say about anything - respect, friends, possessions, fame. If we are not content with what we have, our problem isn't that we do not have enough, it is that we do not understand where contentment comes from.

I have yet to meet anyone who is unable to love themselves. In fact, usually when I meet someone who thinks they are unable to love themselves I am actually meeting someone who loves them self with a fierce and exclusive love, but one that lacks contentment because it isn't willing to be spent on anything else besides self.

Do you see where I am going here?

The reason you can't love others isn't because you don't yet love yourself. The reason you can't love others is because discontentment is a bottomless pit that you are trying to fill with "things" - and since that pit is bottomless, no matter how much to pamper yourself, you will never be full - and like a rat on a wheel, all your running will get you nowhere - you will never love others because you are too busy running on the endless treadmill of loving yourself.

You don't need to love yourself in order to love others, you need to stop loving yourself so much! Invest yourself in others instead of yourself. Just stop trying to make your own existence better, and invest yourself in others instead. You will never make yourself happy by trying to make yourself happy. Joy will come when you make others happy, and it won't be a fleeting joy either - but one that remains.

For the Christian, we do this in Christ. We are contented -not like the Buddhist suppresses his selfish desires until he learns to be content with new acetic ones, but rather we satisfy our self that God made us to be who we are, and that his love for us is more than we deserve, and more than enough for our needs and wants. We are content because we belong to the King.

NEXT BUNK: I can forgive others, but I can't forgive myself...


posted by Daniel @ 6:32 AM   6 comment(s)
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