Saturday, May 26, 2012

Forensic Justification

Some of us do not want to emphasize forensic justification.  "Oh, there's so much more to it than that.  That's an old-fashioned model.  Let's get beyond that."

But as we heard in Bible class last week, there's courtroom talk all through John and Paul:
paying the penalty.

That's sounds pretty forensic to me.


Fresh cilantro.  Mmmmm.  Maybe that's what heaven will smell like. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Biblical Numbers

They may be cool, but are they important? 

They must be.  Between Jesus' ascension and Pentecost, the apostles decided they needed to replace Judas.  WHY?

For some reason, these guys knew that eleven wasn't an okay number.  There were supposed to be twelve.  (Okay, so they didn't get it that there was a twelfth, and God would send Paul along in due time.  That's irrelevant for the moment.)  Regardless of who the twelfth would be, they knew that something about the twelveness was important. 

I'm betting that there are other numbers that are more important than I can understand too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This Is Serious Stuff

So, is fussiness a bad thing?  I've often noticed the particular care my pastor takes with the items on the altar after communion.  He sets the vessels in just the right place.  He makes sure the veil is neat and straight and the corners are folded just so. 

Some people might find that to be too picky.  But it sends a message (although I'm pretty sure that's not why he does it).  It sends a message that these things matter.  That this is serious stuff.  That this is not to be rushed through.  That something precious and important is happening here.

An article in Touchstone (hat tip: Rick Stuckwisch) illustrated the difference between the pastor and the soldiers at a military funeral.  The pastor was a little casual.  The soldiers were precise in executing their military rites. 

At the late service on Good Friday, the final distribution hymn ended a big fat minute or two (or three?) before Pastor was done at the altar.  Silence.  We waited.  We watched.  The silence continued.  He was taking his usual pains with making sure everything was just so.  More silence.

Earlier in the evening, we'd heard the Passion According to St John.  At the very end of the story, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus' body in linen and laid Him in the tomb.  And there was Pastor, ever-so-carefully draping the linen over the vessels where Jesus' body and blood had been minutes before. 

I was not the only one who had to brush away a tear.

Did it matter?  Would Jesus have been any less there, any less forgiving, had Pastor been hastier and more casual?  No. 

But it still matters.
The careful attention-to-detail confesses something about what's happening there, in that place, at that time, through that bread and that wine.  It confesses something about what that bread and wine IS.

And what do we confess when we hurry through and are okay with sloppiness?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

School Tour

Kids tour colleges they're considering, right?  It's not as common to tour high schools, largely because most people don't consider the options and then make a choice.  Well, Maggie and I toured our local public high school yesterday.

There are a lot of nice things about it.  Most of the classrooms have many huge windows!  I also like the block scheduling they use: instead of 8 classes per day, taken all year, kids take 4 classes per day and finish the whole course in a semester.

There is a policeman who spends his days at the school.  I have mixed feelings about that.  It's creepy that it's considered necessary.  And yet, if it is necessary, I guess it's good he's right there.

The guidance counselor has worked with homeschoolers before.  He's worked with special-needs kids before.  He's never worked with a special-needs homeschooler transferring in.  So if we do this, we're breaking new ground.  He also reminded me that Maggie could take one class at the high school if we preferred that over full-time enrollment.  That's something to consider, although the transportation would probably be a problem. 

The hallways are full of posters promoting environmentalism.  (And no, I ought not be surprised.  My logical head knew it would be that way.  But I was still surprised by how many posters!)

There's no microwave in the school cafeteria for nuking lunches.  Either buy lunch there (which doesn't look like a good plan, from what we saw on the menus) or take a cold lunch.

Classes start at 7:25.  In the morning!  The school bus picks up at 6:30.  This would mean Maggie should be hitting the hay around 8:00 if she goes to school next year.  Yikes!

The hallways and the classrooms seemed bright and cheery.  But not in the special-ed area of the school.  No windows in those classrooms.  Small rooms.  Darker rooms.  Drearier hallway.  That seems wrong.

Maggie and I are both finding ourselves in this weird Land of Unknowing.  On the one hand, we're talking about next year as if she's going to school -- what classes she'll take, what to do about lunch, how she'll figure out her locker combination, etc.  And yet we're also assuming that we'll go on with homeschooling -- looking forward to APT next fall, considering which curricula we'll use for various subjects, thinking about fieldtrips and volunteering at the library, etc.  It's strange to be expecting both mutually-exclusive things to happen.  Hopefully we'll know a lot more after next week's big meeting.

Can You Punish AND Forgive?

Somehow I always had the idea that forgiveness meant that you wouldn't be punished.  "I forgive you" meant that you wouldn't have to stay after school, or wouldn't have to pay for the broken window, or wouldn't have to go to jail.

I don't think I'm the only one with that idea.

After all, look at the judicial system.  Listen to the media.  The criminal is really really sorry for what he did.  Because he's sorry, that means he should be forgiven.  And of course, "forgiveness" means that he won't have to be incarcerated.  Right?  Wrong.

We tend to do the same thing with kids.  How often have you heard parents say, "But I can't spank him now.  He said he was sorry, and I forgave him!" 

First problem with that is that you'll raise a brat who learns to lie about Being Sorry. 

Second problem is that a kid learns that punishment means he's not forgiven.  Oooh.  Ick.  Do we want to teach that lesson?  Heck, no.  But when we [as a society or as parents or as teachers] do refrain from punishing a kid who's truly sorry, what happens to that same kid when punishments come later, at another time?  Does that mean Daddy doesn't forgive me this time? 

And worse, do we conclude that when bad stuff happens, it means that God doesn't forgive?

Monday, May 21, 2012


Luther's always talking about "certainty."  Again and again, he says that thus-and-such cannot be true, because if it were true we would have no certainty.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why "but then we would have no certainty" meant X-ing out an argument without further consideration.  Wasn't that just wishful thinking?  "Hey, I want to be certain of my salvation.  I want to be certain that I am God's child.  And if we can't hang onto our certainty, then let's just ditch that idea!  After all, we can't let it mess up my certainty."

So I finally asked.  "Where does the Bible tell us that God wants us to be certain?  I don't see a passage like that anywhere."

And the answer?  "I have called you by name; you are Mine.  Does that sound iffy to you?  I forgive you all your sins.  Is that conditional?  As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.  That sounds like God really means it, like He's certain.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Any chance there might be some condemnation for you?  No?  Well, that sounds pretty certain to me."  As the Bible verses poured forth, it became clear.

If God tells the truth, then, by-gum, we can be certain.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Murder and Lies

Jesus told the Pharisees, You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  (John 8:44)

If God's word is truth,
and if God's word gives life,

then Satan's lies about doctrine
is how he murders.

His murder "from the beginning" was what he said to Eve: "Did God really say ...?"