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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Friday, December 25, 2009
Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ
I would say Merry Christmas, but I don't want to be ambiguous in an age when people are wishing one another a happy holiday for fear that they might offend someone by daring to use the name of Christ out loud.

Christianity believes that Adam's sin made a breach between man and God that good works cannot close. Put succinctly, we believe that everyone, regardless of how "good" they are, is going to be judged by Jesus Christ one day, and found guilty. At that point those who have rejected Christ in this life will receive the wages of their sin (death), and those who have received Christ will not; the former shall be cast alive into the lake of fire, and the latter will enter into God's rest, beginning with the marriage feast of the Lamb (Christ), followed by a new heavens and a new earth being made to replace the former - after which men who had been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, that is, those who though guilty in the judgment, were found to be in Christ by virtue of having been reconciled to God by faith - these will be placed on the new earth, and a city will descend out of heaven and onto the new Earth, a new Jerusalem wherein Christ will be, and those who believed in Christ will live with God forever.

Those who neglected, ignored, or even didn't know about Jesus in this life - these will be cast into the lake of fire.

There is an exclusivity associated with Christianity, and especially expressed by evangelicals: Unless you are a *real* Christian, you will certainly suffer the eternal wrath of God when you die. What about Jews who believed in God? If they reject Jesus as their Messiah, they will suffer God's wrath for their sin because they rejecting the only Saviour God gave to men - the only solution to the problem of their sin. What about the Muslims? They will likewise suffer the eternal wrath of God in the lake of fire when they die because they too have sinned, and having also rejected the Messiah, will have no answer for their sin on the day of judgment. What of the humanist, the philosopher, the moralist, the pagan, the aboriginal, the person who didn't even know there was a Jesus? These will be judged by God according to their sins, and having sinned they will receive the wages of their sin: death, specifically, the second death - the lake of fire.

Christianity is so exclusive, that those who are only wishy-washy in what they believe, or who reject the parts of the bible that aren't popular in a world that wants to believe that everybody "goes to heaven" when they die, those people find the idea that you "have to be a Christian" to avoid hell are just "haters". They reason that the only reason Christianity does that is in order to scare people into converting, and thereby lining the coffers of the church with gold.

When I was a Catholic, I believed that if I was good enough, I would probably go to heaven, but I couldn't know for sure if I would because only God knows for sure, and to imagine that I could know for sure seemed to me to be the single most blasphemous and arrogant affront to God imaginable. Of course, I had never actually read the bible, so (like most people), I just believed whatever I was told, and filled in the rest with my own opinions.

When I was a Buddhist in university, I didn't really care about anything, I just thought being a Buddhist would make me more popular with the ladies - I mean if tree hugging made one seem sensitive - all out 'every living thing is sacred' mumbo-jumbo is cranking it up a notch - surely I would be far more attractive to the empty headed university types who are told what smartness looks like, and then ridiculed and chastised by their peers if they should fail to dress themselves up that way. I wanted to me Mr. Sensitive, and Buddhism was the way to go.

When I was toying with Islam, it was only because the ladies seemed to like Denzel Washington at the time - and since he had just filmed "Malcom X" it seemed Islam was the new "cool" religion, and I shed my Buddhist ways, to explore Islam. I never converted though, as a part of me regarded the whole religion as far more blasphemous than Catholicism, and Buddhism had ever been.

When I finally heard the gospel to the saving of my soul, I knew immediately that Jesus Himself, and not just the "faceless idea of Jesus", had saved me from my sin - even as the scriptures promised. I knew that God had made a promise in scripture, and that salvation - my salvation - hinged on whether or not I believed, that I was condemned for my sin, and whether or not I believed that God would save me from that condemnation on the basis of Him having promised to do so for all who call on His name in this way: repenting and believing.

I know that Christianity alone says this to the sinner: You are a sinner, and because you are a sinner, you are condemned already, and even if you never sinned again for the rest of your life, you would still be condemned because God is righteous and by your sin you have proven that you are not.

That is not a message that someone who loves their sin wants to hear, but it is part of the Christian message - for the bible says that Jesus didn't come to save the righteous, but sinners. If you read the bible you will remember that it says that there are none who are righteous, so when Jesus said that He did not come to save the righteous, He was not suggesting that some were righteous, but He came to save ones that weren't - rather He was saying that it isn't being righteous that qualifies you for salvation - it is being a sinner; Jesus came to save, the scriptures say, "that which was lost" - we were lost, and Christ came to save us.

I don't really care whether or not we ever celebrate Christmas again. It is good to rejoice that our Lord came to this world personally in human flesh to provide a way for sinners to be reconciled to God - that is awesome news; but I find nothing particularly edifying about celebrating Jesus as a baby, or worse, celebrating His "Birthday" - that's just corny and wrong. No, I understand why we celebrate it; and while I prefer good Friday and resurrection Sunday to Christmas hands down - yet I am not so humbug as to withdraw myself every Christmas season into a Christmas vacuum.

But neither will I enjoy mumbling some empty platitude, or parroting some hackneyed slogan that not only lacks any meaning for most people to day, but is shunned by the liberal masses because it (gasp!) suggests that Christians actually believe the claims of Christianity are true, and if so, that the claims of other world religions are therefore false.

We dare not suggest that other religions are false, because we don't want to look like "haters" - so instead of saying Merry Christmas, we say, "Happy Holidays" or some other thing which translates roughly into, "I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I think I am right..."

Well, I do think I am right, and I think if you are not a Christian, that you're are morbidly wrong, and that you are already condemned because of your sin, and that should you die today you will certainly wake up in the judgment, be found guilty, and cast into the lake of fire, no matter how nice, good, and generous you were - no matter what religion you were, or how well and piously you pursued it. If you were deceived, or sincere in your other religion - it won't matter, for every other religion is, according to my belief, false and demonic in origin. I believe you are most horribly misled, confused, and ignorant, even if you are well educated, profoundly intelligent, and inclined to rationality. If I am right, then you are certainly going to hell if you are not saved by Jesus Christ. If I believe what I profess to believe, then failing to say these things would be an act of sadism, and not mercy or tolerance.

Just because I think a person is going to hell, doesn't mean I think I am better than them, morally or otherwise. Frankly there are all kinds of people who are going to go to hell who have done or will do more for others than I do or ever will do. There are some who will go to hell who will not have committed one tenth, or even one hundredth of the evil I have committed while hear on earth. There will be people in hell who were better people in their false religions, than I am in my genuine one - people who are happier in their false religion than I am in my genuine one - my religion doesn't make me a better person than you, it doesn't make me think I am better than others, or smarter than others, and it CERTAINLY doesn't make me hate other people who disagree with me or my beliefs.

All it does is make me think that sin condemns a man in a way that cannot be undone by human effort, so that every last one of us needs to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ - and that through a repentant faith in the promises that God made concerning Jesus Christ. I think that it would be incredibly evil of me to believe that and not share it with others. I don't mean for it to be an offence, but I know it will offend those who love their sin and reject the notion that they are condemned by it. I know that people who reject all religions as false will be offended because I suggest that one religion is not. I know that those who can't decide which religion is right, will imagine me to be arrogant beyond measure to have decided upon one religion over another, and to (gasp) express that opinion, since they are unwilling to do so for fear of offending, or worse - for fear of being mistaken.

So this year instead of saying, "Happy Holidays" so as not to offend, I want to say "Thank God almighty that He sent Jesus Christ to earth, just as He promised to do in the only inspired text on earth - the bible; and thank God that Jesus did come, because He, and He alone, is the only way for a sinner to be reconciled to God; Thank God that although all men are condemned to hell already for their sins, yet those who stand condemned today can turn to Christ in faith, and trust in God's promises and His character, that if they turn from sinning, and trying to reconcile themselves to God through other world religions, or through personal efforts such as doing good, and instead humble themselves and accept the only salvation God offers to mankind -they can be saved, not by praying some formulaic prayer, but by trusting that the God of the Bible - the Christian God, will honour all of His promises, not the least of which is that He has sent His Son Jesus into this world in order to save those in it from their sin, and His wrath on their sin's account. Thank God that He tells us that every other ways is false and empty - so that we can be saved from the perverse generation we find ourselves in - a generation so perverse that it doesn't hate religion, it hates Christianity - and that because it hates anyone pronouncing condemnation on them.

Christ came to save us from this condemnation - but it is a limited time offer. I have had a merry Christmas because I know whom I have trusted, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until the day of judgment. Some have had a merry Christmas because they got tipsy on wine, had a nice experience, plenty of friends, and good gifts to share and receive. What they mean is "enjoy the pleasures of the season" but what I mean is I am daily thankful for the great gift God has given to someone as undeserving as myself - the season means little more to me than that, and I thank God that it does.
posted by Daniel @ 9:55 PM   2 comment(s)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
What we've learned from Mary Mallon.
History remembers her as "Typhoid Mary", a "healthy" carrier of the Typhoid Fever. We say, healthy in the sense that while the bacteria that caused typhoid lived and thrived in her, it did so without producing symptoms.

Now, this post isn't going to be about typhoid, or Mary Mallon, but rather about Christians who acquire and pass along profound truth, without ever applying it to themselves. We might call them intellectual Christians, or Academic Christians, or Seminary Christians - what we are describing is someone who has a head knowledge of Christianity, but at the same time lacks a "heart" knowledge, if you will. They can pass along Christian truths to others, but for some reason, they themselves are practically immune to them.

It is as if Christianity were a disease and they were a carrier. They eat, sleep, drink, talk, and think "Christianity" - they expound it, they support it, they promote it, they work tirelessly to define it, both for themselves and for others around them. They do all this, but they fail to do the one thing that is most needed: they fail to live it.

When I think of the people who will be most sorry on judgment day, I think the people who themselves were never "infected" by Christianity, but were only carriers will be among them.

The one thing I fear in all my learning, is that it would evaporate without ever entering my heart. I tremble at the thought that I might believe a thing in my head, but never put it into personal practice. I dare not live out my life, as I have noticed some do, wherein I make a grand effort in defining precisely what the Christian faith is, but make no such effort in actually living out whatever it is I decide Chrsitianity is.

God help us all to be in truth what we claim to be on our lips.
posted by Daniel @ 9:51 AM   3 comment(s)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The Music Christians Make...
I don't listen to a lot of "Christian" music.

Even as I write this I am listening to an eclectic mix of non-Christian music; so eclectic in fact, I had to turn away from that old root of pride in myself that began to want to share the very eclecticity (not to be confused with electricity) of it with you; for who doesn't want to be respected and admired as a musical dilettante?

Don't get me wrong, I will be the first to stand on my roof, pitchfork and burning torch in hand, to point in learned condemnation at whole swathes of secular music and boldly and lucidly pontificate alongside the pious and shrill alike, declaring that this song or that song is not fit to ring in the ears of any who claim to bear in themselves the Spirit of Christ.

So when I say that I don't listen to a lot of Christian music, I do not mean to imply that I have tossed all discernment out the window, and that I now openly embrace, and encourage the embracing of all things carnal and secular.

Good gravy, no. I only mean that when I sing "twinkle twinkle little star" I am not denying Christ in doing so.

Did you ever admire the beauty of a thistle in flower? I have. How about a Dandelion? What of the rich smell of a field overrun by clover in flower? My fondest memories are almost all outdoors, and rich with the sights and smells that were all around me, many of which were simple weeds. I can't look at one of these without remember two things: They in their beauty declare the glory of God, even as they declare the curse that God cursed the world with on account of sin.

Even something that only exists because of sin - declares the glory of God. It has a beauty, not because sin brought it into being, but rather because all things exist to give God glory, and those who have eyes and ears to hear and see it, do.

That kind of thought can easily be appealed to by those who want to justify all manner of clear and obvious sin. They will appeal to the admiration of creation when in fact they just want to lust after naked women. They will appeal to an admiration of the human creative spirit, when in fact they just love their music more than they love God. I put forward something that is so easily twisted, it is almost folly to set it out there - and yet truth is often subtle, and we ought not to back away from it just because that is so.

The truth is, my heart melted the first time my daughter sang "twinkle twinkle" or the complete alphabet. Not because the song itself glorified God - but because I could see the glory of God in His creation through the singing of those songs. Had my children been singing their way through songs that were obviously corrupt in their language, or suggestive in their genre, I would still have admired the beauty of God's creation in that He created people who are able to express themselves in ways that are musical, and creative - but I would never suggest that just because a thing that openly or suggestively dishonours God can still bring Him glory, that it makes all things acceptable to and for the believer - because I don't believe that for a second.

I just think that a discerning Christian can listen to music that isn't labeled "Christian" and do so without sinning or even compromising.

Now all that is actually an aside.

I didn't write this post to justify my eclectic taste in music, nor to make a case for those who would follow my example. Rather as I was absently perusing the Christian music section of iTunes, and having wandered a few paces from the Keith Green section, I soon found myself sampling 30 second musical pericopes from various "Christian" bands that I can only describe (charitably) as an all out carnal assault against all things holy. Apparently angst filled young adults panting out vaguely spiritual, cow-eyed and breathy lyrics over the obligatory cacophonous drone of the moment is all you need if you want to sell music to people who purchase Christian music.

I am being intentionally sharp here. I don't think there is such a thing as "Christian music" - though I do allow that there are such things as Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs. A lot of what I find under the label "Christian Music" is not the sort of stuff I would ever want to listen to - even if the lyrics were lucid and doctrinally sound;

I get more out of an old secular tune that strikes me as inoffensive, even if it doesn't overtly give glory to God, than I do out of so called Christian music that makes me recoil from it for all its worldliness.

That isn't to say that there are not shining and wonderful exceptions - there are and those who listen to "Christian" radio probably avoid the rest and go straight to these when they are on iTunes. But I stopped listening to the radio when I moved out from home long ago (1985), so I have no pressing desire to listen to Christian radio just for the novelty of it, and early efforts to do so were more than a little disappointing.

I don't think Christian music is going to get better either. If anything it will just continue to ape the world in its music, and continue to drop increasingly weightless lyrics on top of that. Perhaps a day is coming when we may find more of God in the secular catalog than in the sacred.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:41 AM   1 comment(s)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Theological Supplement: Vocabulary. A - D
In my first year at university, I learned that the best way to hide an average intellect was to pepper your casual conversation with as many rare and archaic English words as you knew.

I am not talking about using field-specific technical jargon either, I am talking about purposely inflating what you say in order to come off as brighter than you truly are.

Ahhh... university... sigh..

It isn't that there is something wrong with having a large vocabulary, or using uncommon words in your discourse - truly, such things add color and flavor to a conversation; but it is one thing to be colorful, and another to wax eloquent for no better reason than because we want to foster in others, an inflated respect for our own intellect.

I mention all this up front, because I am now going to offer a list of words that are far less common in real life than they are in conversations where people are trying hard to sound intellectual.

I hope to eventually work my way through the whole alphabet, but here, for now, are some words (I cover A through D) that you can use to "intellectual-ify" your poasts and or comments; but try to limit your use to no more than two or three of these words in any given sentence, lest you come off as a poseur (One who affects a particular attribute, attitude, or identity to impress or influence others).

For example:
Instead of saying,
"You took my quote out of context, and instead of arguing against it, you are arguing that I am a bad person,"
you could say,
"Your acerbic ad hominem attack fails to satisfy, given your ham-fisted fumbling with the pericope in question, and the lack of coupling betwixt the former and the latter.
You see? Suddenly you are not just defending what you have said, now you're fencing like a pro in the intellectual Olympics. Clearly your command of the language coupled to your lack of restraint in flaunting it, demonstrates that you hold the intellectual high-ground.

I am too amused by my own wit to continue....

Okay... a minute or so of silent giggles later, I give you, my first efforts:

axiomatic: (axe - ee - oh - ma - tic) self evident, easily perceived without having to be explained.

abeyance: (a - bay - ance), put aside, postponed, suspended.

apposite: (a - pose - it Strikingly appropriate and relevant.

assiduous: (a - sid - you - us) diligent, as in constantly giving attention to a thing. Doing a thing persistently, or without ceasing.

abrogate: (a - broe - gate) to cancel a thing through anullment or repeal. To formally revoke.

ad hoc: (add - hawk) Latin: "for this purpose" - used in English to describe an improvised or impromptu, "task specific" effort.

ad hominem: (add - haw - mi - nem) Latin: "against the person" - used in English as a fancy, shorthand way of saying, "instead of attacking my position or argument, you are attacking my person or character".

acrimony: (a - cri - mone - ee) expressing animosity towards another through sharp and/or bitter language, behavior or temper.

aphorism: (a - fur - ism) a short and pithy expression of truth (i.e. "Time flies..")

acerbity: (a - sir - bi - tee) vitriolic, or embittered speech; sourness of taste.

affable: (a - feh - bull) showing warmth, friendliness, benevolence, or having a character that demonstrates these traits

alacrity: (a - la - cri - tee) quickness or eagerness, or a willingness that springs from the same.

albeit: (all - bee - it) nothwithstanding, even though.

apoplectic: (a - paw - pleck - tic) being inclined to seizures or methaphorically, being inclined to sudden eruptions of rage, enmity, or fury.

avarice: (a - var - iss) an over-developed desire for wealth (i.e. "greediness"); cupidity.

behest: (bee - hest) an urgent request or an authoritative command.

bromide: (bro - mide) a trite saying or platitude, often a cliché through over use (bromidic)

bellicose: (bell - i - cose) a warlike, hostile temperment.

bailiwick: (bay - le - wik) a person's speciality, field of study, skill, or interest.

bête noire: (bet - nwar) a person or thing that is dreaded or avoided.

besot: (beh -sot) to make dull, stupid, or numb as through alcohol or blind infatuation.

bibelot: (bi -be - low ... don't pronounce the "t"), a small trinket or a miniature book.

brouhaha: (brew- ha - ha) hullaboo, an excitement of public interest, or the center of such an attention.

comportment (com - port - ment) bearing, as in department or mein.

cognoscente: (con - yah - shen - tee) not to be confused with "cognizant". One who is highly specialized, possessing superior knowledge of a subject, field, or interest; a connoissuer.

capricious: (cah - pri - shuss) whimsical or arbitrary - doing something for no reason.

cabal: (ca - bal) pronounced sorta like "Kaboom", except the "bal" part rhymes with "pal"; a group whose inclusiveness is limited to those who share some secretive or conspiratorial agenda.

convivial: (con - vi - vee - el) merry, cheery, sociable.

contiguous (con - ti - gyu - us) adjacent or neighbouring, often connecting in such a way as to allow no space in between.

cogent: (coe - gent) (it sort of rhymes with toe jam), convincing, as in satisfyingly appealing to the intellect or sense of reasoning.

cacophony: (ca - ca - phone - ee), unpleasant noise, i.e. a loud, convoluted clamor, dissonance.

canard (ca - nard) French for "duck" (as in the water foul); used to describe a deliberate false story or presentation of something.

capitulate: (ca - pi - tyu - late) to give in to terms, to surrender a position literally or figuratively.

callow: (ca -low) immature, lacking the sophistication associated with maturity.

calumny: (ca - lum - nee) a deliberate, malicious misrepresentation intended to harm someone's reputation.

cupidity: (cyu - pi - di - tee) see avarice (an inordinate desire for wealth).

dilettante: (di - leh - tawnt) an admirer of the arts, or someone who has only a superficial interest in the same.

dyspeptic: (dis - pep - tik) one suffering from dyspeptia, but often used to describe something that is literally or figuratively indigestable.

de rigueur: (deh - ree - goor) a requirement made obligatory by fashion, trend, or social culture;

demagogue: (de - ma - gog) a leader who whose influence is fueled through passionate appeal to the emotions and prejudices of his or her subjects.

desiderata: (de - si- de - rat - a) the plural of "desideratum" - it describes things that are highly desirable or even necessary.

despot (dess - pot) A ruler who weilds absolute power, typically a tyrant or oppressive.

desultory: (de - sull - toe - ree) having no plan, haphazard, random.

didactic (dye - dak - tik) instructive, often morally so.

dude (dood) A male surfer (c.f. female: dude-ette); Used by middle age male bloggers to refer to other bloggers or commenters in a way that is supposed to imply that the speaker is younger, hipper, and cooler than he really is. Use of this word sends the same message to your culture: I am no longer part of the in crowd, but I still hang out with them.
posted by Daniel @ 8:39 AM   6 comment(s)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Because you have to?

It is usually the first indicator of backsliding - your prayer life begins to dwindle. You start to pray only when called upon to pray, or again, when expected to by others, you know the routine because you, being a Christian, are not perfect, and you fall into the same pits that every other Christian falls into. You still say grace, but it's almost a formality. You still pray over the kids, but its brief and heartless. You may even pray with your spouse, but all your cumulative daily prayer could fit into the commercial break between shows on television.

The problem with the kind of walk that could be characterized by the words "auto-pilot" is just that - you aren't invested in it, you are just doing it, and likely doing it because you feel you have to. Your prayer dwindles because you don't really want to talk to God - the only reason you talk to God is because you regard doing so as a Christian duty, and once you make peace with sin, that is, once you don't care about duty, even that starts to fade.

Praying because you have to is not what God wants from you.

Rather than give a pragmatic solution, I will just tell you the problem, and you can figure out what you ought to do about it. The problem is that you love yourself and the world more than you love God. You are filling yourself up with things that have no value - things that will be destroyed, you love the earth so much, having forgotten that in the end, when they fill your mouth with a shovel full from your own grave, you will only then see how little it was worth.

I will give you a hint - you can't save yourself from that sort of stuff, but there is Someone who can - if you are willing to talk to Him.


posted by Daniel @ 6:50 AM   3 comment(s)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The Wholeness of God's Armor
I am presently taking our adult Sunday School group through the verses on the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) using the excellent, Puritan, work, The Christian in Complete Armour (William Gurnall) as a study guide.

Today we are looking at verse eleven, as we have been for several weeks. Gurnall has already made two of the four points he intends to draw from verse eleven, and is now about to write about the third point we should consider, that being the completeness of the armour God has provided.

He makes three points concerning the completeness of the Armor:
  1. It must be complete in the sense that it covers tip to toe and leaves no openings whatsoever
  2. It must be complete in the sense that each individual piece strengthens the whole
  3. It must be complete in the sense that each individual piece ought to be everything it is supposed to be
I will briefly summarize each point below.

Our armor must be complete in the sense that it covers tip to toe and leaves no openings whatsoever
Consider the death of Ahab as recorded in 2 Chronicles 18:33-34,
A certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of the chariot, "Turn around and take me out of the fight, for I am severely wounded." The battle raged that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot in front of the Arameans until the evening; and at sunset he died. [NASB]
Gurnall wryly muses the point: Satan is a much better archer than the one who struck Ahab. The meaning is clear (or ought to be) clear: If there is a gap in your armour, that is where a rational enemy will likely direct the brunt of his attack. Do you guard what you hear, but not what your eyes see? The enemy is just as victorious if your eyes lust as he would be if you incline yourself to corruption on some other front. Sin surrounds us on all sides and will attempt to enter in through any breach we leave open, the solution is holistic - leave no openings.

Our armor must be complete in the sense that each individual piece strengthens the whole
Each piece of armour strengthens every other piece of armour, even as every additional voice cumulatively strengthens a chorus. Consider what the Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:5-7:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. [ESV]
Do you see how the Apostle strings these together? Each link in the chain adds to the previous; Do you have faith? Add to your faith virtue (the "good work" of maintaining moral excellence). Have you virtue? Acquire knowledge. Knowledge? Add to that self control. I mean, I could reiterate the list further but I don't need to do that in order to make the point that Peter makes, that being that if you do all these things, and lack none of them, then you will not be hindered in your knowledge of Christ, failing to do all demonstrates a near blind state of spiritual nearsightedness, as we see in verses which follow that statement (verses 8,9):
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. [ESV]

What good is might of the mounted knight, if his mount is struck with an arrow so that it flees with him atop it? In a like manner, what good is maintaining a state of moral excellence if you are piggy-backing these efforts to faithlessness? Likewise, what is the purpose of knowledge if the one who has it lacks moral excellence (virtue), or faith? Consider this: In order to gain a breach, our enemy would have us focus our effort on one or two points, to the exclusion of all others, as though success could be had in the pieces aside from the whole. Gurnall spends a bit of time on this point, showing that it is near useless to patch some leak in our boat if we are so distracted by it that we fail to deal with one or more other leaks; Knowing full well that we are truly inclined in (and by) our flesh to "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel", we ought to take the advice of Paul and Peter and approach this effort in a wholesale rather than piecemeal way.

Our armor must be complete in the sense that each individual piece ought to be everything it is supposed to be
Scripture paints faith (for instance), not as a static thing, but as a thing which can wane or grow. We are expected to be growing in it, even to be resisting and fleeing from everything that could hinder our growth in it. What is true of the grace of faith is true of every grace, and using the metaphor of armour to describe those graces, we say that whatever state our armour happens to be in today, it should be in a better state tomorrow. Even as we let are to "let" patience have its perfect (mature/complete) work in us (c.f. James 1:3-4), so also should we allow every grace to have its perfect work in us.

Why should we allow grace to mature? Gurnall gives us three reasons:
  1. Because a grape begins to wither when it is removed from the vine
  2. Because Satan is perfecting his craft daily
  3. Because God designed it to work this way

The withering grape
A grape that is not being fed on the vine is a grape that is turning into a raisin. Grace that is not being perfected in us (growing in us etc.) is grace that is decaying - grace that we have set aside by neglect. In this case, the grace of (say) salvation - must not only be maintained, but improved upon. Not that we are saved again in some better way, but that our dependence upon God, our understanding of His sovereignty in having saved us, etc. etc. increases - so that we rely more on God's salvation provided to us, than we ever have in past days. We must see to it that our dependence upon God widens and deepens with respect to every grace - I only use the grace of salvation by way of illustration, since the helm of salvation is listed as part of the armour God supplies.

Satan is perfecting his craft
God doesn't change. God doesn't get better at what He is doing. God doesn't refine Himself, God doesn't learn from His mistakes because He doesn't make any.

Satan does.

Satan is a far more skilled foe today than he was yesterday. He is honing his craft daily. Your primary enemy is by no means sitting still, but learning from everything that transpires, how to perfect his efforts - and this alone is reason enough to do the same.

God designed it to work this way
That is, God designed the armour He supplies to improve with use. The more we rely on the armour God supplies, the more proficient we become in wearing it. God intended it to be this way.

Gurnall concludes with three practical uses of this teaching:

The first is that the only way to deal with that thirst for worldly things that we all experience is to pursue the thirst for spiritual things which God gives to all His (legitimate) children. It is the same lesson as "dying to self, and living to God" - the same as is meant by walking by (and in) the Spirit as opposed to by 9and in) the flesh. Gurnall is saying that we are to regard the completeness of God's armour, in all three previously mentioned senses, as furnishing and supplying that godly thirst which when slaked, quiets the carnal one.

The second is that it identifies both pride, sloth, and the false heart. Those who regard themselves as having already arrived regard these matters as icing on the cake, and having no desire to draw near to God hear and now, will not bother themselves to put the trimmings on their cake. They are satisfied with heaven apart from God, or said another way, they are more concerned with getting out of hell than they are with being reconciled to God.

The third and final use is to remember in this the character of God. It says one thing, writes Gurnall, for a prince to marry a poor damsel - but thereafter, once the deed is done and no more is required, yet to go on and to furnish this damsel in finery, and to improve her estate every day thereafter. So too God is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure; the wholeness of our amour, when put on aright, and providing for us God's intended purpose - bespeaks God's great love towards us.
posted by Daniel @ 5:34 AM   0 comment(s)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Annihilationism Part I
Annihilationism is the doctrinal label we use to describe the unorthodox teaching that those unregenerate souls whom God condemns on judgment day will be destroyed rather than sent to spend an eternity in hell.

I will say at the outset: all things being equal, this doctrine is a comfort to anyone who doesn't plan on being reconciled to God in this life.

Let's start with the atheist.
An atheist already anticipates that upon dying he or she will simply "cease to be". There is nothing for the atheist to "flee" from, according to the doctrine of annihilationism. Consider the dilemma:

Evangelist: Mr. Atheist, I know you stand unconvinced by the gospel, and for your sake I regret that, nonetheless there is one final thing you should know, if you leave this world without having been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ His son (for there is no other way), then on judgment day you will stand before God, be judged, found guilty, and sentenced to .... destroyed.

Atheist: Destoyed?

Evangelist: (with flair) Destroooooyed! (solemn nod).

Atheist: Um, yeah, about that. So what? So I live a life, do whatever I please now, reject your notion of God, and if I am right, I die and I cease to be, and if I am wrong, I die, get judged, then cease to be... It seems it doesn't really matter whether I am right or wrong, I cease to be either way.

Next consider the Agnostic/"All religions are equal" people
These, having shopped around for a religion that satisfies their peculiar tastes, have either found one that satisfies, or are still looking. Consider the same Evangelist:

Evangelist: Mr. Other religion dude, after having shared the gospel with you, I respect that you have decided to hold onto your other world religion, but I must warn you, if you reject this truth, on judgment day my God will reject you.

Other relgion dude: (with some trepidation) oh, What will he do?

Evangelist: He will destroy you, you will cease to be!

Other relgion dude: Is that all? If I mess up with my god, He is going to hold me down and pour molten gold into my skull over and over again for all eternity.

Evangelical: Gah! That's disgusting! Why would you worship someone like that??

Other relgion dude: Hey, the question is, why would I offend someone like that. Seriously, If I am right, I (could) avoid an eternity of suffering, but if I am wrong, all that will happen to me is I will cease to be. Big deal, I'll take my chances.

Lastly, there is unorthodox Christian
This is someone who having read the bible, rejects the notion of eternal suffering/torment in favor of an immediate and one time snuffing out - which they regard as far more humane and fitting the character of God as they imagine Him to be found in scripture.

Today's Christians are (by and large) biblically illiterate. To be sure, the problem is so epidemic that I don't even have to provide proof for my assertion.

If Christians are biblically illiterate - what do they believe?

I will tell you, they believe whatever they're told to believe. If someone teaches them that the bible says such and such - they just believe it. It usually doesn't matter who tells them, they just believe it. Some are more discerning than others, but I am speaking to the general populace and not to the ever more rare exceptions.

Why do I bring up biblical illeteracy? Because it is the first step in the process of identifying something we need to keep in mind as we enter into a discussion on annihilationism. The first thing we must consider is who God is, and where we get our impression of who God is from.

I am talking about God's character - what is God like? What would God do, and what would God never do? Is God more like a liberal university activist (let's have a sit in!) or is God more like an angry, "molten-gold pouring" sadist? Our impression of God has to be formed from something, and if we are biblically illiterate, that impression is going to come to us from somewhere other than what God has told us of Himself (i.e. scripture).

I am saving that all for the next post though.


posted by Daniel @ 11:10 AM   0 comment(s)
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Why I Quit Facebook...
You know, it seems that whenever a notable person retires from FaceBook, they have to write an article talking about how they are so much better off now, and superior to everyone who doesn't quit FaceBook. They have to come off as lucid and eloquent, without (outwardly) insinuating any sort of superior air - and yet, it always seems to end that way. They talk about how much more time they have, how they didn't have much to say, how they did this, and that, and the other thing, but now they see it was all flim-shaw, and having finally recognized themselves to be knee-deep in the mire, they not only wrested themselves from their self-made prison, but in doing so imagined the thing to be so monumental, that it required the immediate penning of an article explaining their decision.
I quit because I am a cold-hearted introvert who couldn't care less about the moment by moment minutia that seems to have hypnotized this passing generation.
Well, rest assured, you'll get none of that from me.

I quit because I am a cold-hearted introvert who couldn't care less about the moment by moment minutia that seems to have hypnotized this passing generation. I quit because I prefer to have more control over my public life than that particular medium permits, and I quit because I couldn't take the seemingly endless stream of people who want to be my friend (did I mention that I am a cold hearted introvert?)

I am only posting this so that I can feel self important, having finally joined myself to an elite group of better-than-thous - the ex-FaceBook crowd.

You may now go back to your regular browsing.


posted by Daniel @ 5:00 PM   10 comment(s)
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I want you to spend a couple of minutes putting yourself in the mindset of an OT Jew; specifically, imagine learning that you had committed an unintentional sin - let's say that you handled something unclean and through handling it, you became ritually unclean, but didn't realize it. Later that day you engage in some spiritual activity that is only permissible if one is ritually clean. In the middle of this holy activity someone informs you that you are, in fact, unclean by virtue of previously handling something that was unclean, and you realize that you have been sinning in partaking of this activity while unclean.

It was not your intention to sin in this way, but you cannot deny that you have. Now, in the light of that knowledge comes the realizeation that God has made provision for this sort of unintentional sin, and has prescribed a special sacrifice to deal with it.

Here, your wealth will dicate the value of the sacrifice you make. Can you afford a goat, or a lamb, or maybe just a couple of birds, or maybe just some flour? If you truly can afford to sacrifice a lamb, a couple of birds won't do - you really are required to sacrifice according to your means.

Now there are really only two ways you can receive the knowledge that you must sacrifice something in order to be right with God - you can rejoice that there is a way open to you to be reconciled to God, or you can bitterly mourn the fact that this is going to cost you something.

You see, above and beyond whatever this offering is supposed to symbolize, it has this effect also - it allows you to see the state of your heart towards God. Are you happy to surrender what gain has come to you because the things of the world are nothing in comparison to being at peace with God, or do you ache to be parted from your hard earned goods, so that you give it up begrudgingly and sourly?

Do you see that the first way is the way of trust - that the first way puts on display the fact that you are righteous by faith, but the second puts on display that you are not acting in faith, but are trying to be righteous by doing the righteous thing?

There are so many applications for this observation that I would weary myself (and you) long before I exhausted explaining them all. It is suffice to say that if you give anything to God begrudingly - your time, your offerings, your worship -- anything; you ought to open your eyes and see what is going on in your heart, and repent.

Godly sorrow has no bitterness for loss in it.
posted by Daniel @ 8:29 AM   3 comment(s)
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Back in '73 a Roman Catholic nun from Australia named Sister Janet Mead recorded a surprise music hit (youtube link) with a rocked up version of the Lord's prayer, written to be the b-side of a Donovan cover. The tune made #4 in the top Billboard 100 that year, and though it is now 35+ years old, the tune still rattles around in my head from time to time.

But this post isn't about my sentimental reminiscings, nor about this nun, nor about her musical rendition of the Lord's prayer.

It is about Jesus, and a deeper look into His character on this Lord's day.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He began His instruction with a sample prayer, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name."

In recent posts I have discussed the humanity of Christ, if you haven't read those posts, this post may not have enough context for you to grasp what I am about to say fully, but I will proceed anyway. For the sake of this post, then, forget that Jesus was God - forget it altogether if you can, and pretend, if you will, that Jesus was just a man who was different from other men in that He was not cursed by Adam's curse. By that I mean, that you and I cannot perceive God except through revelation, either in creation itself, or through the word. Jesus however, like Adam prior to the fall, was able to perceive God experientially and naturally. Where God hides his face from us, His face was not hidden from Christ.

Thinking of Jesus as "just" a man might seem blasphemous to some, so I want to be clear, this is just an exercise to help us appreciate at a deeper level, the instruction Christ gave to His disciples. If we are wooden in our thinking and say to ourselves as many do, "this is God telling us how to pray" - we will only understand the Lord's prayer as an outline for prayer. We will look at the order and say, "this is the right and proper order", we will look at the content and say, "this is what we should be praying for" and we will do these things because, "God set them out this way in the Lord's prayer" and we will regard this as just another divine ordinance.

Now, it is a divine ordinance, don't get me wrong, but the problem with us is that while we recognize this prayer as instructional and all that - yet we tend to think of it in terms of a shopping list. Do this in this order if you want to pray right. We seldom consider the personality of Christ, and as such, we miss an opportunity to "know" our Lord, and miss an opportunity to "know" the glory of God through the majesty of our Lord's prayer.

I am not talking about poetry, or how nice the Lord's prayer sounds when we sing/pray it. I am talking about our Lord's affections - when the opening petition of our Lord's prayer is that God's name be Hallowed, do we stop and consider that this was the prayer of a Person (note the capital "P") whose incarnate human experience was intimately familiar with the presence of God the Father? I don't know about you, but when I think about Jesus praying this prayer, I don't think He is purposely (artificially) ordering things in His prayer so that the most important items in show up first in order. That is, I don't think Jesus is being a clinical Teacher here; I don't think He is standing aloof from His own affections here, and reciting a well thought out recipe - rather I think that His heart is speaking from the well of it's desire, and it's greatest desire is that the God whom Christ as a man knew, desired above every other desire, to see the name of that God hallowed.

A lot of us make so much of Christ's divinity, that we forget He lived as a man - and as a man He worshipped God the Father. We could make that clinical too - we could say, "Well, yeah, I mean, He had to worship God the Father because if He failed to do so, it would have been sin, so on the one hand He 'had' to, but being God, He didn't have to worship Himself, because He was God..." But that kind of "over-godifying" isn't very productive. Jesus was 100% God, but He was also 100% man during the incarnation. We take nothing away from His divinity when we (rightly) recall the reality of His humanity.

Jesus worshipped God the Father while He walked about on earth, but it was real, heart felt worship. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. There was no hesitation in Him. When our Lord prayed that God's name be Hallowed, we are not simply seeing the first bullet point in Christ's cold and aloof "how to pray" manual. What we are seeing is Christ's affection.

I don't know if I can really make this visible enough. Jesus prayed "Hallowed by Thy Name", not as a formula, but as the natural first affection of a right heart. Do you see how Jesus loved the Father?

I believe you do.

But that isn't where we stop this train. What I want you to ask yourself, and what the point of this post is all about - is if Jesus loved the Father that way, Jesus who perceived God freely, even as Adam had done in the Garden before the fall - Jesus who knew God, not simply and woodenly because "He was God Himself," but through the incarnation and in the grip and scope of His own humanity knew God - and through that knowledge truly desired that God's name be Hallowed - it says something profound about God the Father doesn't it??

I mean, Jesus' love for God the Father isn't pouring out solely from His own divinity - since, though Christ was God, He did not exercise His divinity on earth, thus this affection, this profound desire to see God's name hallowed is not coming from the chalkboard of His divinity, but from the desires of a heart that, like Adam before the fall - knew in His flesh, the personality of God the Father.

Do you ever wonder what you're missing out on, not being able to perceive God as Christ and Adam did? I mean, think of the magnificent splendour of God, the transcendent glory, the beauty of His perfection - all these were known to Christ in the flesh, so that when our Lord prayed, "Hallowed by Thy name" - the greatest instruction was not simply and only, "do as I am about to do" but more deeply: see Whom and how I love, and learn from my affections.

I am not trying to undo any of the teachings you may have heard about the Lord's prayer. Surely it is good to study this prayer, and to glean from it a right hierarchy of affections, etc. But what I want you to glean today is only the fact that our Lord Jesus worshipped and loved the Father - someone whom He, in His own flesh, knew - it was not a love that sprang out of duty, but rather a love that sprang out of being able to see God as He is.

Strive then, to trust that God is truly worthy of honour, praise and glory. Trust that when our Lord held God's name in His highest affection, that it was because He knew God, and knowing God He desired first that God's name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven.


posted by Daniel @ 5:30 AM   7 comment(s)
Friday, December 04, 2009
There are two types of Christians: those who think about their sanctification all the time, and those who never give sanctification a second thought.

If a Christian isn't focused in some way, moment by moment, on holiness (being set apart for God's purposes), he or she may not even be a genuine Christian; for if the Holy Spirit is in a person, He does not sit idle, but presses that person constantly into a holier walk with God. It does happen that genuine believers so grieve and so quench the Spirit that they refuse to respond to this pressure - either because they don't understand the proper way to respond to it, or because they are trying to hold onto some sinful thing or things, but God chastens these - either goading them back into a right walk with Him, or drawing them out of their error - or in some cases, as we see in scripture, taking them out of the world entirely (rescinding their breathing privileges).

Which is to say that every healthy Christian is aware (daily) of their sinful flesh; they do not make peace with their estate, but they war against that which sullies God's glory, and that which causes such grief to the Holy Spirit, a grief which the same Spirit dutifuly transmits to us, motivating us to persevere in this endeavor.

But not everyone understands how the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. I think this is evident especially in the way some pray: "Lord, please help me to..."

Here is the thing, when I ask for help, I am tacitly admitting that I am the one doing something. That is a problem because, I am not the one who sanctifies myself - God is.

Yes, I am to work out my own salvation (from sin) with fear and trembling because it is God who works in me, both to will and to do His good pleasure, but if I ask God to simply help me in my own failing efforts to do what only God can do it shows a profound misunderstanding of how this is all supposed to work! When it inevitably fails, or when all of sanctification seems to be a pathetic exercise in carnal effort and cyclical backsliding; that is, when we grow frustrated and weary and it seems as if our enemies are leaning forward in anxious anticipation of our fall - that is when asking for help is most natural, and simultaneously most impotent.

Sanctification is entirely God's work. It isn't something God assists me in. Sanctification does not spring from my efforts to be righteous, but from simple trust. Hearts, we read in scripture, are cleansed by faith, no where do read that we are sanctified by "good" works.

That doesn't mean that we abandon doing good, and try instead a 'new' way to pry sanctification out of God's hands and into our lives. Rather it means that we cannot live the Christian life apart from moment by moment trusting in God for all things.

Sanctification doesn't happen because we do good, but sanctification is being worked into us as we do good works, providing we are doing them in the Spirit - that is, unless we are cognative of, and actively (rather than passively) trusting that God is performing in us exactly what He has promised as we do a thing, nothing will happen. There is no sanctification apart from moment by moment fellowship with God.

Don't get me wrong - the outside of your cup can polish up real nice without fellowship and active trust - but we aren't talking about looking the part are we?

I know that some who read this know fully the heartache of frustration in trying to be holy. They know the grief that rises from always seeming stalled in their efforts to be more sanctified. They know even if the world thinks they are super Christians, they no better - they aren't driven by, or even moved by worldly accolades; they just want the inside of the cup to be clean. I write to all, but I expect that it is these who actually desire holiness who will benefit from this post the soonest (assuming this post offers some benefit).

Walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (c.f. Gal 5:16). That verse describes sanctification in a nutshell. It's simple and practical. It speaks of what stands in opposition (the desires of the flesh), and it speaks of what conquers that (walking "by" the Spirit).

The trouble is most of us think walking in the Spirit means more than it actually does.

Try this on for size: walk trusting that the work that is being done in you by the indwelling Holy Spirit will suceed and not fail.

Whatsoever you do, trust that God will be in it, and purposely and agressively divest yourself of every other hope in regards to your sanctification. You cannot sanctify yourself, nor can you "help" God in sanctifying you - and God certainly isn't helping you to sanctify yourself, no matter how many times you ask Him to. God is doing it all - your part in all this is simply to believe not only that He is doing it, but that He is succeeding in what He is doing.

What must you do to do the works of God? Believe in Him whom God has sent - Jesus. Believe/trust that Christ's death did more than save you from sin's penalty - it saved you from sin's power, so that you are no longer sin's slave, or said another way you are (by trusting in Christ) set free from the flesh's bondage to sin.

I know, I know, it all sounds like biblical gobbledygook - but only until God opens your eyes to it, then you will see that Christ is your very life, a life that is apprehended by moment to moment trust, and not supplicating God to help you do it without (and instead of) Him.

Modern evangelism places such emphasis on "gospel justification" that it forgets to carry through with "gospel sanctification". As you received the Lord Jesus, we are told - so you must walk in Him (i.e. by trusting). I think many are so tuned to the 'one-timer' of justification - that they think that the purpose of faith is to get us in the door of heaven, and once we are in, the gospel doesn't serve any more purpose - and they are as far from the truth in that presumption as east is from west. The gospel - the message that both righteousness and salvation comes by faith, matters to God, which is why you feel frustrated in your sanctification today if you are not allowing (by faith) God to work in you in this matter.

So trust God. Trust that He is in charge of it. Trust His pace and timing - a feat that will be impossible if you believe (wrongly, but secretly) that God is against you because of your failures (read: abundant, willful, rebellion). You will always find it unproductive to trust in a warped image of God an image that is more than or different from (however subtly) the one found in scripture. If you think God hates His children because of their sin, you are slandering God whether in ignorance or in unbelief.

When I say to trust God, I mean trust the God you find in the bible, and not the warped image of God you may be harbouring in your heart.

Also, you must determine to no longer live your life aloof from God.

If you're His son or daughter, live like it. Don't come to God for building materials with which to build your own house - live in His. Don't be like the prodigal son who demanded an inheritance so that he could live apart from His father. Don't live your life moment by moment ignoring God and wonder why you're not being sanctified. Your life is hid in Christ; your house is God's house - that is where you are supposed to live, that is where you are to be. Don't try and build your own place - I am speaking metaphorically - don't try and sanctify yourself, or ask God to help you do that, you will never be sanctified apart from fellowship with God so stop avoiding Him in your daily life.

Don't try to get holy in order to come to God either. That's as dumb as a beggar trying to get rich in order to beg.

Simply life by bringing every moment to, and living every moment with , God; that is, live each momenht trusting that God is with you, working in you. Don't look to your own understanding, but lean on Him.

Seriously, you want joy? We are most assured when we are most trusting - we are most sanctified when we are most assured. We are most joyful when we are most sanctified.

Grace and peace.
posted by Daniel @ 7:47 AM   6 comment(s)
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Sunday Messages...
I have been preaching (Sunday school) my way through Gurnall's, "The Christian In Complete Armor". If you want to listen in, the messages can be downloaded from Here...

If you want to listen to my pastor preach, he is on the site too, and hey, if you ever want to complain about me to my pastor, you can reach him through that site as well.

If you do give any of the lessons a listen, I am always happy to receive criticism on them, or answer questions.

I haven't listened to them myself, but my presumption is that the audio quality isn't all that good.


posted by Daniel @ 12:11 PM   5 comment(s)
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