Friday, December 18, 2009
So I found the ex-step-father on the web, who seems to be a very influential family court lawyer in Brazil, and I wrote him this email:
Re: the boy
"You've got a very important decision to make.
The boy will ultimately have wanted to exercise his right to have his natural father.
Nor does this child belong to it's grandparents.
If you desire to do the honorable thing by the boy then return the boy to his father and visit him occassionally. Not everyone would have the financial means to do that. But you do. I'm guessing that this boys father would be more than happy to accomodate your and the boy's friendship. As well as your mother-in-law.
Consider yourself fortunate if you never have a child abducted. I can tell you this with great assuredness, yet, I was fortunate enough to get mine back. May you never feel what this boy's father has felt.
Be careful, this boy needs you to do the right thing.
The Lord's peace to you.
One does what one can.
One does what one has to.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
If I'm going to start back to school in January for nursing, learn again the algebra, geometry, physics and etc. plus, alas, nursing, then why not learn how to effectively put my thoughts down in print while I'm at it. Maybe I'll find out, finally, that I have nothing to say? That would be a burden lifted.
And so I will.
Wow. I've found the neatest website that makes learning to write so easy for me to understand. It's right here. Capital Commuity College Foundation.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to my second from last blog entry and was aghast at my inability to get the grammar right - even the thoughts right - ; re-writing it and re-writing it. Running on and on, never knowing how to punctuate, arrange or defragmentize. What an opportunity this will be. By learning to write I can finally clear my mind of all this rubbish that I feel I have to put in order, knowing how better to use 'what' or 'which' or 'this' or 'that'.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We can thank Christ when He says through James: (4:7), "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Since I could not participate in 'communion' as a non-member at the church I regularly attend, I decided to go to the next 'plain' church 45 minutes away, so as not to have to sit around on communion Sunday and get bored. I'd known these 'plain' folks for about two years and we considered each other faithful brothers.
So the following Sunday, as I finishing up conversation and was getting ready to leave late in the afternoon, here came the sales pitch, and it was explained to me that I needed to submit to a church. For Jesus said that, 'if you don't eat of this body and drink of this blood you can have no part in me'. It was explained to me therefore, that, sooner or later I was going to have to submit to a brotherhood or, implicitly, I could have no part in Jesus. It was also suggested to me that I could not be a member of that church if I was not going to be there regularly. And the church I was presently attending was also not acceptable because of their gospel message fell short.
I was not acceptable for membership in the church I was already attending due to my use of musical instruments and some forms of technology such as the Internet. The two churches in question where simply not acceptable to each other. Nor was any other church, to either one of them. To them, in joining any other church than their 'own' respective church, I would be falling away from the true faith.
So what is a poor fellow to do?
So now, I can't have a part in Jesus in any other way than but through the brotherhood? I thought the Reformation had already occured and that it was already widely known that men can't place themselves between God and men?
Do you see my predicament here?
Has anybody read the book "Catch 22"?
Is this really where some men think Christ has left us?
Well of course it's not where He's left us.
I didn't come right out and charge him with trying to be the Pope. I simply saw it as a good opportunity, even a necessity, to go home and plan for the following Sunday a Lord's Supper celebration at my place. By myself. Others optional. Membership in Christ's Body is all that is required. Others are welcome, but not necessary.
The more I thought about it the more I realized I had been asleep on the issue here and that there was a vital and important spiritual exercise I had been passing up.
Oh! The new found joy that I had only before taken for granted. Christ's invitation was actually for even me!
_________________This morning is the Lord's Supper Sunday morning celebration. I dropped my ten year old daughter off at church, fed the animals and came inside.
My bread had come out of the oven about an hour ago. It smelled great and I thanked the Lord for it. A few minutes earlier, on my way in, I started to plan. My immediate inclination was to go to the Gospels for the Lord's instructions and start there. But then I remembered them very well already, and, wasn't I supposed to already know the instructions and actually go on and 'commune' with a memory here? Sure the Body and the Blood, but 'what' was that an invitation to remember?
Weren't those instructions permission to open the floodgate of rich memories about the Man who was... God, revealing Himself to us and calling us to reunite back to Him in His Kingdom? All expenses paid! For free? Not for free!; but for an immense price, which, 'He' has already paid, Himself!, for us? That such a magnificent thing is not free! But [yet], yes, it 'is' already paid for -- by Him. With His Body and His blood. Instead of ours...for us, because we can't pay it, but are allowed to eat of the sacrifice, and drink of His sacrifice, with thanksgiving, as we remember His sacrifice, and the love for us He has that caused Him to 'be' the sacrifice, and consequently be punished and put to death, instead of us. And that, while we would have stayed dead, and deservedly so, He did not, so that, through faith, we would not.
Uh-oh...that is truly difficult to comprehend. But there it was, and there it happened.
But oh...,it's true. Through the witness and subsequent testimony -- and, ohhh...the blessed memory -- of those faithful witnesses who saw it! and testified of it!, -- of God having come down to earth to walk among us -- and the indelible memory they were shown, of God Himself! testifying to us, through them, after which they could not help but to keep telling everyone, and anyone they could get to, of, it!, until their dieing day, and that!, is how we remember!
Oh yes,...I remember now.... And thank you for that reminder...it is a rich memory, and, I am going to cherish the opportunity to abide there in it now. Whew. When - do - we - - - start?
In just about every "communion" I'd ever been a part of, there was usually a sermon, after which were read Jesus' instructions, then we ate, and then drank, and that was about it. There was very little remembering -- if any. At least 'time' given to it. Not any moreso than during your average Sunday service that is. Maybe that winds up to be the difference between, "communion", and the Lord's Supper. It was promoted as 'communion', but there was not so much communing being done. And not even that much "Lord's supper" being done. Maybe it was just me. I will allow, that, it was just me. And, that those days are now over.
So... I remembered....
God..., had come to earth with great news. And this... He did not want me to forget.
My very memory of Him was meaningful to 'Him'; He wanted 'it' there. And so, if it is a meaningful thing to Him, then it is a great blessing for me, to possess... and abide in.
So I let my memory unfold itself. I remembered what He had done in my life. And in my daughter's life. And in my remembering... I was free to laugh, and cry, or to just shout out; and marvel; at will, and, in private.
And I ate...and remembered...and I ate...and I remembered.
Of course the dog had to make an appearance. "Do I throw her the crumbs, or not, I thought?" ...I thought, not.
I went to the Spirit of Christ in me and I just abode there in thought. Not asking. Not telling. Not seeking wisdom. Nor comfort. Just seeking memories from His Word, which God had left us a memory full of, of His having come to His earth; in the flesh; to reveal Himself; to His creation.
Remembering also the promise He had made when He had come. The promise that He would pour out His Spirit on us when He left. And the promise that He would return again, and that, until He came back, His Spirit would dwell here with us, inside of us, until He came back.
Remembering again what He's done in my life. And what He's done in the lives of many people I know.
Remembering what He said about things to come. And remembering what I can do in anticipation of those things.
This thing would not be complete without mentioning that someone from church then showed up. I confess, I had not invited anyone. But they were concerned about me. I was concerned that they might be concerned me... and show up. My memorial celebration came to an abrupt halt much sooner than I had planned. He came primarily because he had been hoping to wash my feet. I appreciated that. We appreciate each other. After a long discussion (unfortunately on something all we Christians can share in common -- that is, misguided denominational doctrine), and, in spite of it, we washed each others feet, broke bread and drank from the cup. I lectured him on coming not to understand the issues that divide us but to simply further his own poorly thought out opinions(to which in all fairness should be added "in my opinion"). I had him thinking anyway. Always make sure your are invited to a Lord's Supper or risk being uncerimoniously 'judged' by the host.
When he left, it was hard to get going again. And it was no longer necessary. There's no need to wallow overly long at one sitting in Christ's memorial. I had had almost an hour in it and that had been sufficient. Subsequently more important is the present and the future. There's now plenty more to do, the more of which, will make my next Lord's Supper equally as rewarding.
He said, "do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me".
I'm going to do this every three or four months.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Although, there's lot of experimenting going on here.
About 8-9 years ago I was doodling around with Christmas Carols on my guitar around Christmas time and discovered how much I liked this hymn when I slowed it way down and rounded out the 'B' part. It's a nice melodic presentation of some great words.
The day before yesterday was the day in which I finally had a little time to get it down on the recorder. I had to do a 'voice' check. To see if my voice could 'handle' singing this one yet. Not because it was a good day to see how my voice was progressing, but, because I had the time. And in the process was pleased to find out that the voice is about half of the way there. 'There'? I guess, 'there', is wherever it happens to 'be' when it quits getting any better. Hopefully a few years away yet.
You'll notice as you listen to this recording, that I still can't sing. But it's coming. I haven't given up yet.
Someone with a voice should record this one.
I just needed to get this hymn out there and get it started. It has a long way to go. I will be updating it often -- musically and vocally -- but needed to start here. I badly need to sit down and redo the guitar track. I recorded it quickly a couple years ago. It's hard for me to get a clear product out of my recorder. Once you sit down to play this thing on the guitar it's hard to quit. Maybe a better guitar player than myself could send me one?
It works! It's still a beautiful hymn even after I've finished with it.
These words cause me to break down in joy. The melody puts me away into a rich state of thanksgiving to Christ. There's a joyous message here from the writers of this hymn. I hope I came close to delivering it here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted and in dispute among the saints, especially things of the lowest nature. Yet it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness for the word of faith, and remission of sins by the death and sufferings of Jesus. But, I say as to other things, I would let them alone, because I saw they engendered strife, and because they neither in doing nor in leaving undone did commend us to God to be His."
"Many poor men and women are illiterate and untrained, and these would find deep thought to be very heavy work. Others are so light and trifling by nature, that they could no more follow out a long process of argument and reasoning, than they could fly. They could never attain to the knowledge of any profound mystery if they expended their whole life in the effort. You need not, therefore, despair: that which is necessary to salvation is not continuous thought, but a simple reliance upon Jesus. Hold you on to this one fact—"In due time Christ died for the ungodly. " This truth will not require from you any deep research or profound reasoning, or convincing argument. There it stands: "In due time Christ died for the ungodly." Fix your mind on that, and rest there."
Thursday, November 12, 2009
But I'm going to do it next Sunday. I'm going to drop my 10 year old daughter off at church, come home, and bake some bread. Maybe I'll even use wine though I don't think I own any. I don't think I will use wine just so as to avoid any hint of drunkenness -- I don't drink much, so I will probably notice the effects a little too much. Even enjoy them, though I've never been prone to alcohol abuse. So I'll just use juice in any event, and that way nothing will get in my way.
I'll invite a few people from church, although they will all be at church and unable to come. Maybe some will surprise me. I hope not. Although it would be glorious if some did. But they just partook together last week -- after examining each other. And I could not.
I wonder if Jesus wanted us to examine each other. Judge each other. Public testimony for "confessions" and "to clear things up"! Being sure not to commit the unpardonable sin of "pride", and, "rebellion" by "going your own way" without accountability to the brotherhood. My Pastor surely did.
Did I ever let him have it.
My initial experience in seeing the Lord’s Supper at Gleason Mennonite Church was that it was well patterned after the original in scripture. Public “self-examination”, sharing of the bread and the cup in reverence to the memory of the Lord, foot washing, hymn singing and fellowship. In communion with one another according to what He had told us. It still is. But with condemnation added that neither Paul nor Jesus include. At least that kind which last week's sermon had brought in.
Let me explain what I mean.
17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Just an additional thought: he’s not saying that there “should” be heresies among them(opinions opposed to the established views), but rather that divisions and heresies are a certainty('must'), they are expected, and it is necessary('must') for them to show themselves so that the view which is approved, that view which they oppose, may be made manifest, or 'made known'.
But now on to the Lord’s Supper.
20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
He said what they are doing is not the Lord’s Supper. It’s a church meal. And not even that properly done. It’s not being done together or in common. There is partiality, sectarianism and even some drunkenness.
21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, andanother is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Jesus gave thanks, explained what it stood for and asked us to partake in it, and in doing so, for us to remember Him.
Now is an explanation by Paul:
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
In my opinion, Paul is saying the offender is guilty of eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord unworthily, or, doing so without giving it it's proper worth, or it's proper respect. Regardless of what he actually means, Paul then goes on to explain how to be free of that 'guilt'.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily,(or, other than as Jesus told him) eateth and drinketh damnation( or, judgement ) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body(as the Lord prescribed, and every believer would be familiar with).
So the guilt is not discerning the worth of the body and blood of the Lord. A symptom of spiritual inattentiveness and weakness. An unfortunate, even insulting position before the Lord.
30 for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.(spiritual sickness)
Paul continues then with his thought from v. 29 above as to drinking judgment on ourselves by not discerning what Jesus asked us to remember about Him - His sacrifice and the covenant.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
What does he mean “judge ourselves”? He means “examine” ourselves. As in “Let a man examine himself”. Are you discerning the Lord's body? And when we do so we are not judged because we have done what was asked by Paul and implied by Jesus.
If he does not judge(examine) himself, then he will drink judgement to himself. “Eateth and drinketh damnation(judgement) to himself .
The word “damnation” here is a questionable translation of the Greek word 'judgement'. The KJV is a “thought for thought” translation, and in this case their 'thought' gives debateable meaning to the literal word in question. Even though there are places in scripture where 'judgement' is used to mean 'damnation', using the word “damnation”, in this instance, gives it a value that the Greek word does not, in that, “judgement” can mean either ‘condemnation’ or, the opposite, 'aquittal'(and anything in between).
The word "damnation" is seen only in the Syriac manuscripts which overall contain wide variations.
The word "damnation" simply does not fit. Jesus says nothing about 'damnation' in his asking us to 'remember', and Paul simply warns that we will be chastened if we disrespect the memory of the Lord's Supper, and not be 'damned' as unbelievers. "Damnation"(judgement) above simply refers to the act of 'judging' or 'being judged', not being 'damned' or 'judged unto destruction'.
We faithful will all be “judged”, at the Judgement Seat of Christ, but 'aquitted'.
Paul specifies how these violators at the Lord's Supper will be judged immediately after mentioning it.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
They’ll be chastened, or, punished unto correction; not condemned as unbelievers. Then he summarizes his thoughts telling them to do the Lord’s Supper not as divided into factions; and not as a mere meal; but rather a sacred memorial. Not presuming to eat the Lord's Supper without remembering it's meaning and intent.
And for whatever my opinion is worth, before or after a meal, as distinct from the meal, would suit it just fine. Perhaps ideally it might even be done wholly apart from a meal. But not as a meal.
As in accordance with normal Christian doctrine, the only 'ones damned' would be those who eat and drink 'without being believers', and they would have been damned before they ever arrived to eat and drink, and will continue to be, as their unbelief in 'Jesus as God on earth' continues. A believer will not slip from God's saving grace just through the careless labeling and eating of a fellowship meal.
Then Paul finally concludes with:
33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation(this is also a presumptuous translation of the Greek word “judgement”). And the rest will I set in order when I come.
And isn't Paul here summarizing the main point of the whole exchange. 'The Lord’s Supper is not a church social meal where you break off into your favorite groups'. Examine yourself to see whether you are in the spirit of hunger and revelry, or rather, in the Spirit of remembering our Lord.____________________
And, bless his heart, my pastor agreed with me.
I haven't told him yet though that next Sunday is a Lord's Supper celebration at my house.
Nor have I told him that I will not be available for his or anyone elses 'examination'. Just "not available", sorry. Just going to enjoy the Lord's invitation and, take, and eat, and drink, of Him and His memory. The memory of Him telling us about Him and the Father. What He did for us. How He is here with us now. And will take us to the Father when He is ready.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
A bad day in that respect.
Yesterday I found the chicken and lost the cat.
The chicken I wanted because it was an Aricana chicken which lays green eggs(although I need to check the spelling).
The cat I didn't want, but it showed up in my barn looking skinny and lost. I would gladly have kept the friendly cat had I not already owned two good cats. But he turned out to be my landlord's next door, and I already have his horse since it would rather live here with my horses than with his owners cows. And his cows even visited here briefly until they finished browsing in my garden. So I didn't want his cat!
Instead of a sweet little half grown cat desperately needing a safe haven, it became tainted. And I got my daughter to buy into that idea also(took a moment), and she agreed. So we agreed to take it back to his barn and if it ever comes back I will swat it with the newspaper until it goes away. Although my daughter refuses to participate there.
"Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it,"Jesus says.
That is a staggering statement for me and probably many other born again souls here on earth. Losing the visible to gain the invisible. Jesus might comfort us saying, "Yes, I know, that does seem hard to hear". But we know that for they who do it...the invisible becomes visible; the intangible becomes tangible.
We examine ourselves within to find the Spirit of the living God there, both empowering us unto things which if left to ourselves we could not do; and disempowering[not even a word -- but it should be} those destructive forces which we long to be extricated from.
We feel great joy.
Mt 16:25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
Today, when someone has on a piece of clothing on that is just flat hard to look at, then sometimes in a playful manner we might say, "hey, why don't you lose that cheesy looking shirt", or, "you could lose silly looking pair of shoes". That very figure of speech, to "lose" this or that, that is to "get rid of it", has entranced me, good or bad, into looking at this verse in a similar fashion.
"Whoever wishes to save his life will 'lose' it"!
Or, 'lose' that phony old life of yours -- count it as rubbish -- and put on all things new and eternal. And it's no loss at all but only gain. Not your life anymore but Christ in you.
So we 'let lose' of our lives and we find Life overflowing! A miracle. And we thank the Lord.
May our days be filled with it.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
*Nearly three years ago(2006), Alan Jacobs wrote in Books and Culture, "Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought."
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Spiritual Formation Agenda
Three priorities for the next 30 years.
"Our world today cries out for a theology of spiritual growth that has been proven to work in the midst of the harsh realities of daily life. Sadly, many have simply given up on the possibility of growth in character formation.
Vast numbers of well-intended folk have exhausted themselves in church work and discovered that this did not substantively change their lives. They found that they were just as impatient and egocentric and fearful as when they began lifting the heavy load of church work. Maybe more so.
Others have immersed themselves in multiple social-service projects. But while the glow of helping others lingered for a time, they soon realized that all their herculean efforts left little lasting imprint on the inner life. Indeed, it often made them much worse inwardly: frustrated and angry and bitter.
Still others have a practical theology that will not allow for spiritual growth. Indeed, they just might see it as a bad thing. Having been saved by grace, these people have become paralyzed by it. To attempt any progress in the spiritual life smacks of "works righteousness" to them. Their liturgies tell them they sin in word, thought, and deed daily, so they conclude that this is their fate until they die. Heaven is their only release from this world of sin and rebellion. Hence, these well-meaning folk will sit in their pews year after year without realizing any movement forward in their life with God.
Finally, a general cultural malaise touches us all to one extent or another. I am referring to how completely we have become accustomed to the normality of dysfunction. The constant media stream of scandals and broken lives and mayhem of every sort elicits from us hardly more than a yawn. We have come to expect little else, even from our religious leaders—perhaps especially from our religious leaders. This overall dysfunction is so pervasive in our culture that it is nearly impossible for us to have a clear vision of spiritual progress. Shining models of holiness are so rare today.
Yet echoing through the centuries is a great company of witnesses telling us of a life vastly richer and deeper and fuller. In all walks of life and in all human situations, they have found a life of "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). They have discovered that real, solid, substantive transformation into the likeness of Christ is possible.
They witness to a character formation that is nigh unto amazing. They have seen their egocentric passions give way to such selflessness and humility of heart, it astonishes even them. Rage and hate and malice are replaced with love and compassion and universal goodwill."
He surely puts it very well. Much to my surprise, he described a church I attended for a long time in paragraph 4.
I don't agree though with his agenda/solution in the rest of his article over at C.T. He puts too much faith in men. My advice would be to encourage people to pick a good literal word-for-word Bible translation and when you get a little stumped with something, just keep reading, and it will finally all make sense. Just keep reading, it will teach you. Find someone experienced who respects the "simplicity" of Christ's Word and ask them to share their understanding of it, if need be(maybe even as much as possible). Pick up the history books but...put down the theology books - except for a quick field trip into the more dysfunctional regions of Christianity - there is only strife and self-gratification in there. Scripture is simple, and vast, just get around people who respect the Bible's insistence on "simplicity". Christ tells us not to sit and figure out the future. God came to earth revealing His sovereignty and Truth, and then returned to heaven before our very eyes. Rejoice! And...keep it simple. And keep reading and growing in it's spiritual nourishment and practice. You'll be astonished at the peaceful and joyous fruit, and the practical understanding it will bear in your life.
So that's the priority I would start with if I had a Spiritual Formation Agenda. To encourage my fellow Christian who may be new to this to get a real Bible translation(a word-for-word translation in your own language and the language of those you might want to share it with) and read it a lot. That is the beginning of allowing the Bible to teach itself.
Hats off to the author of the above said article for his own implementation of his agenda for Christ.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I've never felt a conflict between the basic assertions of evolution versus the Bible either. People, on the other hand, can take both and go places with them where neither let's them. What's new about that?
Dinesh D'Souza, a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, is author of What's So Great About Christianity and other books.
It was in 1859—exactly a century and a half ago—that Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species. It is perhaps the most controversial book of the past millennium, and the work that has since made Darwin the patron saint of modern atheism. According to Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
Evolution does seem to turn many Christians into unbelievers. A famous example is the distinguished Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson. Evolution gave him a profound sense of intellectual liberation from his Baptist upbringing in the South. Evolution also makes some people secular evangelists for the Darwinist cause. Michael Shermer was an evangelical Christian studying at Pepperdine University when his study of evolution convinced him to give up his faith. Shermer is now the editor of Skeptic magazine.
So does a belief in evolution automatically lead to disbelief in God? Actually, Darwin didn't think that. Darwin was not an "intellectually fulfilled atheist"; rather, he called himself an agnostic. Atheists say God does not exist, while agnostics say they don't know one way or the other. Moreover, Darwin did not boast about his unbelief; rather, he approached it with marked public caution. Shocking the mores of traditional believers may be Dawkins's thing, but it certainly wasn't Darwin's.
Here we must distinguish between Darwin the scientist and Darwin the unbeliever. Darwin, who was raised Anglican and even considered becoming a clergyman, did eventually relinquish his Christian faith. But he did not do so because of evolution.
The story is told in Adrian Desmond and James Moore's authoritative biography, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. When Darwin's daughter Annie died at age 10, Darwin came to hate the God he blamed for this. This was in 1851, eight years before Darwin released Origin of Species.
Around the time of Annie's death, Darwin also wrote that if Christianity were true, then it would follow that his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and many of his closest family friends would be in hell. Darwin found this utterly unacceptable, given that these men were wise and kind and generous. Darwin's rejection of God was less an act of unbelief than a rebellion against the kind of God posited by Christianity. A God who would allow a young girl to die and good people to go to hell was not anyone whom Darwin wanted to worship.
When Darwin published his work on evolution, the American biologist Asa Gray wrote Darwin to say that his book had shown God's ingenious way of ensuring the unity and diversity of life. From Gray's point of view, Darwin had deepened man's understanding of divine teleology. Darwin praised Gray for seeing a point that no one else had noticed. In later editions of his books, Darwin went out of his way to cite the English writer Charles Kingsley, who described evolution as compatible with religious belief. To the end of his life, Darwin insisted that one could be "an ardent theist and an evolutionist."
Some of Darwin's followers, however, were attracted to Darwin's theory precisely because they saw it as helping overthrow the Christian case for divine creation. Thomas Henry Huxley, for example, noted that evolution's "complete and irreconcilable antagonism" toward Christianity constituted "one of its greatest merits."
So why didn't Darwin correct his overenthusiastic advocate? Here is where the story gets complicated. Over time, Darwin's hostility to Christianity did play a role in his scientific views. While Darwin was originally very modest about evolution—a theory to account for transitions from one life form to another—he became increasingly insistent that evolution was an entirely naturalistic system, having no room for miracles or divine intervention at any point. When Darwin's co-discoverer of evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, wrote him to say that evolution could not account for man's moral and spiritual nature, Darwin accused him of jeopardizing the whole theory: "I hope you have not murdered too completely your own and my child." Darwin's ultimate position was that it was disastrous for evolution to, at any point, permit a divine foot in the door.
This history is important because we can embrace Darwin's account of evolution without embracing his metaphysical naturalism and unbelief. Dawkins and others like him are in a way confusing the two faces of Charles Darwin. They are under the illusion that to be an evolutionist is essentially to be an atheist. Darwin, to his credit, rejected the equation of these two stances as illogical, even if he didn't always maintain, within his own life, a clear distinction between his science and his animus toward God.
Dinesh D'Souza, a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, is author of What's So Great About Christianity and other books.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
My daughter is overnight at my ministers house due to my needing quiet time to heal from working when I should have been resting. They have 11 children from 6 mo. to age 16 and are challenged, and blessed by, and ready to serve her constantly. The Mennonites specialize and excel in raising godly families. Godly families merely being those that simply pattern themselves after and imitate those people and ways that the gospel asks us to. Sometimes I wonder at their large family sizes but am always left in amazement at how well they do raising them up. This minister(servant), Jonathan Martin, came from a family of 15.
Now she's more than halfway through their '4th grade' school year after deciding on her own to go there midway through last summer vacation. She hasn't looked back. She had already asked to get rid of the t.v. many times, not even knowing it was a requirement for enrollment. In fact she talked me into it even before the issue of enrollment came up. Now it's just a distant memory of ungratifying titillation, that has finally revealed itself to her as being completely empty. Even myself, looking back, now see that it occupies a large part of ones world with mostly unnecessary clutter and requires constant maintenance to remain satisfied. I wouldn't have dreamed of asking her to give it up. At that time it was as if it was an inextricable piece of life itself. Now I can't get her to quit reading to me, or alone, singing or just playing. In hindsight, the t.v. environment seems to both of us like one big marketing scheme. It had even robbed us of our precious imaginations. An imagination and freedom that you don't know until you're free from it's mindless enchantments. Oh, it's still fascinating and full of thrilling(oh and sensuous!) things that really have no bearing on reality once it is turned off...that leave their own partly debilitating imprint on ones mind; and an empty one at that that keeps on needing to be fed with...more of the same. It's amazing how you can do without it and replace it with simply more valuable things.
She's out of there. She's fled the afflicted world to a traditional Christian community of great satisfaction to her marked by people with distinguishably godly hearts. With almost no coaxing from me. Gladly never needing to watch the High School Musical 3 to give contorted and very fleeting excitement to her life. She's found the riches of Christ and a people of God who are overflowing in them. She sees Christ reflected in them. She's in love with not only God and Christ, but a people of Theirs as well.
And they know how to do it all in the way of living a life for the Lord. They've learned from earlier pioneers in biblical living that it's possible to find all of God's rich living pleasures and wisdom in the simple and plain message of scripture and be filled up to the fullest measure in life of joy and peace in the Lord. They simply revel in pleasing and honoring the living Lord and enjoy His Life presence in their own lives. And love doing it together.
I can't begin to tell you. But I surely will as time goes on.
She gets out of school a month before the public school kids. Then during the summer she'll learn gardening and canning and producing food and livestock that fills ones life with the mysteries and magnificence of creation. She has seen large happy families with beautiful hearts born of God, who want to share their lives with her, and can't wait to one day help raise one of her own.
I've told them I can't join their church because there needs to be an online Mennonite presence. My daughter has not looked back at her prior fondness of the Internet because she prefers to do those things other ways and thereby avoid the snare and temptation of wasting her valuable time online. It's easy to do. We've all been there. Many of us keep returning there and simply don't give a good account of our time spent on the Internet. Not in relation to it's and our own potential anyway. She won't be allowed by me to use the Internet unsupervised until she's an adult. That's not to say others can't chose to discipline themselves in the use of the Internet if they'd like. We are all different. The Mennonite's avoidance of the Internet serves the purpose of not wasting time and not unmanageably putting the filth of the world in front of their children. It works for them very well. The average Mennonite family's child, it seems to me, has more knowledge of the bible than the average pastor. Almost everyone in my church could be a pastor. And raising a child to that capacity takes a wise use of the family's time.
So while we are not all 'radical disciples' and not all of us consumed with living out a sort of 'practical holiness', let us hope that we have our own regimen of following after and honoring God who appeared on earth in the flesh to make Himself and His ways known to us so that we could know and serve Him. As many of us know there is no greater joy than coming to know Him - serving Him and serving each other.
Well my Shingles are calling me back into bed for the night. Peaceful and joyous abiding in the Spirit of our living and faithful God. Todd
Friday, January 09, 2009
"The gift of tongues" are prophesied of in the book of Mark chapter 16 verses 17-18:
"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
The gift of tongues were displayed by the disciples on the night of Pentecost following Jesus ascension after they were delivered by God's Holy Spirit as shown in Acts chapter 2 of the Bible. It was Xenoglossy; a phenomenon in which a person is able to speak a language that he or she could not have acquired by natural means. We know they were speaking in a manner of xenoglossy by how it is recorded in the account:
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?"
11-12, "--we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
They had been filled with the Holy Spirit and received the 'gift of speaking in tongues', that is, speaking in a language that he or she did not know until that moment and could not have acquired by any other means than through an immediate gift from God. Discovering this, even the disciples were beside themselves in amazement.
What other kinds of 'tongues' are there?
There is Glossolalia. This is the term Paul used for what the people of Corinth were doing. It was a ready made Greek word for something that had been going on in other false religions since ancient times. Unknowable utterances from men to God.
What is known about Glossolalia?
The highly respected 1972 study of John P. Kildahl (The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues) concludes that "from a linguistic point of view, religiously inspired glossolalic utterances have the same general characteristics as those that are not religiously inspired." In fact, glossolalia is a "human phenomenon, not limited to Christianity nor even to religious behavior." (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements by Spittler, P. 340).Felicitas D. Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, engaged in a study of various English - Spanish - and Mayan-speaking Pentecostal communities in the United States and Mexico. She compared tape recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan as well. She published her results in 1972 in an extensive monograph (Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia by Felecitas D. Goodman, University of Chicago Press, 1972).
Goodman concludes that "when all features of glossolalia were taken into consideration--that is, the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and its suprasegmental elements (namely, rhythm, accent, and especially overall intonation)-- she concluded that there is no distinction in glossolalia between Christians and the followers of non-Christian (pagan) religions. The "association between trance and glossolalia is now accepted by many researchers as a correct assumption," writes Goodman in the prestigious Encyclopedia of Religion (1987).
Goodman also concludes that glossolalia "is, actually, a learned behavior, learned either unawarely or, sometimes consciously." Others have previously pointed out that direct instruction is given on how to "speak in tongues," ie. how to engage in glossolalia.
In fact, it has been found that the "speaking in tongues" practiced in Christian churches and by individual Christians is identical to the chanting language of those who practice voodoo.
This is the glossolalia that the apostle Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verse 2.
2 "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries."
For the rest of the chapter, even using the Lord's own words, Paul schools us in xenoglossy - the Lord's tongues - or when, through other strange languages, by the lips of strangers, the Lord says "He" will speak to His people. Biblical 'tongues' are the Lord speaking 'to men', 'through other men'.
It's also important to note that Paul is not introducing a biblical contradiction here by showing 'tongues' as being spoken like those in 14:2, "not to men but to God", and then posting the Lord as stating in verse 21 that they are spoken "God to men". Paul is not introducing a contradiction into scripture but simply contrasting how they are being spoken in Corinth, to the way the Lord's tongues are actually prescribed by the Lord as being spoken. Paul instructs that the 'tongues to God' going on in 14:2 are, actually, supposed to be the 'tongues to the Lord's people' of 14:21, done with a corresponding edifying message in a known language.
It has been said, "tongues are a sign!". I'm sorry, "tongues to God" had been around over a thousand years before Christ, practiced by false religions, and therefore impossible to be regarded by anyone as any sign from the True God. Anyone can do them, whereas, the Lord only performs signs that no one else can do. See His words in the following verse:
John 15 15:24"If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."
Xenoglossia is a sign from God to unbelievers; glossolalia is no sign, but merely unknowable human utterances from 'men to God'.
The recorded cases of Glossolalia go back as far as 1100 B.C. If you would care to click on this link, it takes you to an article by someone named Rene Norbergen. I have not tried to confirm all the things he asserts but don't expect a problem doing so. His references are provided.
Regarding the "Gifts of the Spirit" in general. Today all believers have the "gift" of the Spirit - all have equal and impartial access to the Lord who eagerly bends His ear when we raise our prayers and supplications to Him. We as Christians have to be careful not to put ourselves in the uncertain position, when asked by unbelievers about the available healing powers of God, of pointing to individuals we claim are given special Spiritual healing powers. There were once those disciples who healed everyone that was brought to them. Those have ceased while healing and miracles still go on today through prayer and supplication according to the Lord's will. Today, we freely go to His waiting ear in faith and thanksgiving, and ask that healing be done, knowing that our prayers will be answered according to His will, for the good of those that love Him.
I'll be developing this as time permits.