Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saving the Environment

So, there are people in this country who are opposed to drilling for oil or building nuclear power plants.  Man is the bad guy.  Man ruins the environment.  Man is the enemy of the animals.  Everything in nature is good ... except for man.  Man is evil.

But aren't these the same folks who don't believe in original sin? 

Friday, March 02, 2012

Prayer, and the Fall of Jerusalem

Pastor's always telling us that God never tells us to pray for something unless He promises to give it.  It sounds reasonable.  God promises to forgive our sins, and thus we pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  He promises to provide for our temporal needs, and so He bids us pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."

But sometimes I still wonder.  Really?  If God tells us to pray for something, does that really mean He's promising it too?  Always?  Or is this valid only for the Our Father?

So, anyway, we're reading along in Matthew about the warnings of the approaching fall of Jerusalem and how it's connected to the end times.  In that section where Jesus is telling His followers about escaping the destruction, there's a verse (24:20) where He says, "Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath."  Hey!  How does this fit with the rubric that God's invitation to pray for something is also a promise to provide it for us?  After all, escaping Jerusalem was merely a temporal situation.  Surely it wasn't a promise too?

Guess what?  You look up the history of the Fall of Jerusalem, and you find that the Roman siege of the city began at Passover and ended in late summer.

I shouldn't find that freakily delightful.  But I do.

I should be certain
that these petitions are pleasing
to our Father in heaven,
and are heard by Him,
for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way
and has promised to hear us.
"Amen, amen" means "yes, yes, it shall be so."

Still Getting Stuck

Shouldn't Christians overcome sin?

You'd think so.  We're not in favor of sin.  The Spirit dwells in us.  Shouldn't we just be done with it?  Maybe the problem is we're not trying hard enough.  Maybe there's another problem that we haven't figured out.  Maybe, if we could figure it out, we could take care of the problem.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.  (Psalm 25:15)

"Shall"?  That a future-tense verb.  But the person praying the psalm is already a Christian who has lifted up his/our soul to the Lord.  Somehow, it appears that my Christian feet are going to get themselves tangled in the net, in spite the Lord's instructing me.  Even though I will become snarled in the mess, still He will pluck me out of it.

And where is our focus through all of this?  On my feet?  On my efforts?  On my obedience?  No.  My eyes are ever, always, perpetually, unrelentingly, toward the Lord.

Psssst:  And when my eyes go somewhere 
else, that seems to be when I am tripped up
 and have to be rescued.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Homeschool Story

At last Saturday's graduation ceremony, Milwaukee School of Engineering gave the Very Influential Person Award to some homeschooling parents.  The award usually goes to a high school teacher.  Logan Gill, whose parents homeschool(-ed) all 17 of their kids, chose his parents for the VIP Award.  The Journal-Sentinel had a lovely story.   More pictures are at another link.  Looky there, a happy, functional family, Christians, successful at school, and they even like each other.  And it showed up in the newspaper!  Cool!

Oh, Those Dirty Dishes!

It's 9:45 pm. I wash the dishes. I wipe the counters. By 10:00 the sink is empty and clean and spiffy. And this is what I wake up to the next morning. Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Original Sin

In Psalm 58, we read about some bad guys.  Verse 3 mentions, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies."  I always thought that was just showing how very bad they were: they've been rotten their whole lives! 

From the womb?
Sinners from the time they were born?

Maybe it's not about their badness and how early they started in on being rotten dudes.  Maybe it's about the inborn sin.

They Received the Word with Joy

When we studied Acts, we observed that the apostles always went first to the synagogues.  Sometimes the people would just eat up everything the apostles preached.  Other times the people listening got all hacked off and decided that murdering the preacher was a good plan.

When Jesus sent out the seventy, He told them to go preach.  He warned them that in some towns they would not be received. 

Jesus said on several occasions that the Old Testament Scriptures were about Him.  They testified of Him.  They told what the Messiah would do.  And yet, somehow, the Jewish leaders of His day didn't want that.  They had a different concept of what the Messiah would be ... and it certainly included some pats on the back for them and their self-made holiness.

It makes me wonder if the response to the preachers might have been indicative of the faith beforehand.  Yes, I know that the preaching could and did soften hearts.  I know that the preaching of the Gospel created faith where there was no fear, love, and trust in God before.  But do we also see people in the Bible who were firmly committed to a [false] faith in how good/nice/helpful/obedient they were?  If Jesus or an apostle came and had no regard for their self-made goodness, people would be ticked.  On the other hand, Jews who already believed in the promise of the Gospel shown forth in the Old Testament, the ones who trusted that the Messiah would save them, those folks would receive the apostles' Word with joy. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thy Blood My Royal Robe Shall Be

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid. They sinned. They hid. God came. He called to them. They said they were hiding because they were naked and ashamed.

Gerhardt wrote:
Thy blood my royal robe shall be,
my joy beyond all measure.
When I appear before Thy throne,
Thy righteousness shall be my crown.
With these I need not hide me. (TLH 142:6)

Adam and Eve didn't really confess to God so much as they blamed somebody else. Nevertheless, our God, who is full of compassion, killed a lamb. Blood was shed. God made the lamb's skin into a garment, a robe, to cover their shame. And they didn't have to keep hiding.

"Drink of it all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."  "Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress." With these I need not hide me.