Monday, October 31, 2011

New Era

Yesterday is the first day of the Au's coming every week.  That means we can do play and music programs outside of Sunday morning!  Yay, a new era has arrived.

So, yesterday in teen Sunday school, we talked about Jacob wrestling with God the Son.  We showed the last David Murray video on the Angel of the Lord that I will show.  There are four left and I have to find ways to show them next fall.  I started talking about Jacob preparing to meet Esau, but I forgot to finish it.  Then I showed Aubrie my Reformation Day Power Point, new and improved with Cake Wrecks pictures. 

With the kids, I thought the lesson went really well.  It's so true that kids have a faith that fades with the teen years.  I showed different pictures of kids: some playing, some in school, some going to the doctor, poor kids having fun in the rain, a sick girl with a fever.  I asked where was God in all these situations?  They all said "Everywhere" like it's obvious.

Then I split them up into partners, breaking up potential cliques.  Austin and a missionary boy named Caleb (yay, another boy) worked on Joseph interpreting the cupbearer's dream, Alexis and Autumn worked on the baker's dream, and Madison and Emily got Potiphar and his wife, which I decided to print out the text, changing "come to bed with me" to "let's make out."

I finally got all the nesting doll versions of Joseph and the four other folks in the narratives, laminated them, and each group told what they read using the dolls.  In each situation, we had to ask where was God.  They still said "everywhere."  It's like they either have that good of faith now, or are simply not thinking through this.  I'm saying, so God was there letting the baker get beheaded?  God was there when Joseph got imprisoned when he was only framed?  God was there when the cupbearer forgot about Joseph who is still waiting in jail?  Of course he was there, and the kids agreed.  I just hope they keep agreeing when they become 12 or 13 and face peer pressure, ostracism for their beliefs, or in college and their 20s when they face tragedies and growing pains.  I agree, but I needed to learn to wrestle with God like Jacob which I'm not sure I'm teaching them to do, but I want to.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Hodge-podge

I've always really liked Halloween.  It's not the best thing in the world.  It is kind of scary how commercialized it has become.  But I love Halloween.

I love church, too.  Jesus instituted the church as a means of his grace here on earth while he's in heaven preparing a place for us.

I hate how the church does Halloween.  Maybe it has pagan roots, but like Christmas, the Christians hijacked it and made it more Christian.  But it is good to remember all the people you love who have died and to thank God for the ones who were Christian and influenced you for the faith. 

And yet, when October 31 rolls around, we call Halloween satanic, yet do the same thing at our churches and just rename it.  I never realized how strongly I felt about this when someone mentioned we should do a trunk-or-treat next year.  How could they say such a thing?  Do what every church is doing and ignore that this is an important turning point in church history? 

As for Halloween tomorrow, I have class so I can't dress up and pass out candy at my door.  :-(.  However, I have a t-shirt with Charles Spurgeon's face.  I'm going to wear that and if people at CSU ask me who he is I'll pass out an excerpt from his sermons and some candy.  I hope it works.  It's the only time of the year where I can see myself passing out tracts and getting away with it.  I don't actually believe that practice works the rest of the year.

Moving on to other topics.  Our church is still growing.  I'm very thankful for that.  I'm thankful for Cathy Cutts, who teaches elementary Sunday School, Jamie Frey who along with Cathy is a CE elder, Debbie, the preacher's wife and pretty much my godmother, and my supportive church.  The new 5-year-old is going to a more multicultural church, which dismays me because now we're less so, but we still have enough kids where we might need to divide.

Huge praise, the three original kids are now able to live with their dad and step-mom all year, pending court decisions tomorrow.  We can start doing things on Wednesday nights now like skit practice.

The downside, is now we're wanting to get all the church in on what we are teaching, not buy different curricula, which adds up in costs, and the whole church can be in on one thing.  Which I thoroughly agree with and hope to bring the church to the point some day.  But as for now, I'm conflicted between Faith Alive's material versus Christian Focus.  Both are excellent.  I want to stick with CF as I'm afraid Faith Alive, a product of the CRC denom, is in danger of going liberal with their new environmental book.   

Plus, I'm not that sure that I want to teach both teens and kids the same thing, though providentially, I did this fall and Cathy happened to teach on Abraham as well in the FA material.  I think in the fall, I want to continue in my CF book with the kids as it moves on to Jesus lessons but move on to the Gospel of John with Aubrie.

Thankfully, by writing this all out, I know have formulated what I want to talk about with Debbie on Tuesday afternoon.  I'm just praying that the Spirit moves her to agree with me or moves me to better ideas.  Could use prayer on that.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thankful Friday Facts

I'm thankful that the vegetarian chili I made tasted very good and similar to the beef version.  Tasted like more beans.

I'm thankful I'm not vegetarian.  But I'm also thankful for my friend who is.

I'm thankful for seeing all my old friends again last weekend and that their sister lives near me.

I'm thankful for the Passover as it point the OT folks to Jesus so they could have a saving faith.

I'm thankful for Jesus fulfilling the Law and writing it on my heart.

I'm thankful for the leftover matzoh from our seder on Sunday as it's very filling.

I'm thankful for Melaleuca multi-vitamins.  They keep me from being more sick than I am.

I'm thankful for

I'm thankful that Mary cleaned and inspired me to clean my bathroom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


When you hugged me you cracked my back
And it was the best feeling in the world
It would only be better
If you'd consider me your girl

You paid my tab at IHOP
You talk whole time about history
You're really smart and serve our country
So glad you're home safe and not grizzly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Paper lemons? Make Laminate

I decided I finally have so many paper nesting dolls that they need to be laminated.  We have all of Jacob's children, and now we must welcome Potiphar, his wife, the baker, and the cupbearer.  Thankfully, pastor Scott has a laminating machine, so I'm going over there later.

I skipped over Potiphar's wife's scene last week in showing the Joseph movie.  The lesson this Sunday has it along with the dreams of Joseph's cell mates.  Hopefully, this will be the last sex scene that I share with the 8-year-olds.

As I said the other day, I'm not sure how the cat plans are going (cat being short for catechism).  I might have to hold off the WSC workbook for later, though I'm still going to purchase it.  It will be downloaded to my computer and printed at will.  The cat for our kitten I think will go well, if Macaria shows up again.  I sent them home with the woman who knows her mother to give to her.  I should have just saved it for last week.

I told some people outside of my church about my plans that they thought it was the pastor's duty to teach the cat.  They both are from different planets because I have no clue why it would ever be wrong for a children's pastor to teach the cat, even in churches where they did have formal confirmation classes.  Scott didn't teach it to our recent confirmands; he used a children's Bible.  Macaria needs basics, and you find those in the Cat for Kittens (Cat for Young Children), the intro to WSC.  The first three questions are about who made you? God, what else did he make? all things, why did he make them? for his own glory.

Thus leading to the first question, the only question we ever need to remember: what is man's chief end?  To glorify God and enjoy him forever.  I was asked: what if children ask if that means God has an ego?  Well, God  is the creator of life who saved us from Egypt, commanded that we worship no other, claims to be our only Savior in Isaiah 41, will share his glory with no other; they can't imagine that he created us for his glory and his alone.  Or that he's so loving that even his hatred is love.  Even hell is an extension of his love because evil must be judged.  Even choosing some for heaven and not choosing others is still good because God defines good, love, fairness, and we are made for nothing else but to worship and glorify God.  Life has no meaning apart from our worship of God.

And one of the best things I read on this is from C. S. Lewis, a man who claimed to not be Calvinist, but when I read his stuff, I beg to differ.  He may say he doesn't believe in total depravity, but in the "Weight of Glory," he talks of nothing else, but in different words.  He also shows that man will never be complete or satisfied until he's surrounded by God's glory and worshiping him for eternity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who is God? How do we know him?

This is the second set of questions from Adam Kaloostian's lessons on Reformed Faith.  He follows very closely Jason Lisle's apologetics in Answers in Genesis.  Lisle's usual proof is that people have moral codes.  How would they have moral codes if there was no ultimate standard for those codes?  There has to be a God who gives us commandments and follows those commandments.  No other God does that.  Allah murders and lies.  Zeus sleeps around.  Buddha's God doesn't even exist.  And to the Hindus, we're all going to be God someday, so there's really no basis for a moral code.  There is no reason for morality apart from belief in YHWH as he reveals himself in Scripture.

Moving right along, Adam's first question regards the "psychology of unbelief."  What does the Bible say about it?  Last week we pointed to theodicy as the main reason people avoid Christianity.  Theodicy, hypocrites, crazy people, despicable people, people killing in the name of Jesus, past bad experiences, lack of intellectuals; and some of these reasons I can agree with.
Ultimately, however, the Bible says that people avoid truth for one underlying reason: Romans 1:18-20.  The people suppress truth by wickedness.  They don't really care about theodicy or hypocrisy because, like we said, who cares about telling the truth, goodness and justice if we have no God to give us commandments?  These people don't want a God other than themselves, and they think their ideas are way better.  They want to sin, and that's their reason.  God through creation has made truth plain to them so they have no excuse for unbelief.  Finally, God gave them what every Arminian wants: free will, and they did everything they wanted until their hearts were so darkened that they could no longer do anything good.

Next, Adam notices that he just quoted the Bible to defend the Bible.  I can't remember if he solved that issue or not, but Jason Lisle does.  If there is no higher authority than God, and he gave us the Bible, then we have to resort to circular reasoning, using the Bible to prove the Bible.  If it is what 2 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 10:17 claim to be, then people will hear the words and either believe or not believe depending on if God has chosen them or not.  It's Scripture that awakens people to be able to accept Christ.  Nothing else.

2.   What do the Reformed Christians believe about the Bible?
The Bible is the written WOG.  (Word of God is too long sometimes.)  There, God is revealed objectively.  It's the WOG simply because he spoke it.  The church did not decide that canon, which was in place long before the Council of Nicaea.  It was determined because they could hear God's words spoken in the books. 

It is the only place to find objective truth.

3.  What is the central reason we can't compromise the marks of the church?  You know, the three marks that Calvin said describe a true church?  They are true preaching of the Word, right administering of the sacraments, and church discipline.
These are the three areas where God is obviously active in the lives of his people.  If we compromise on that, then we will miss out on the most interaction with God that we can have on this earth.  God is active in the preaching, the sacraments, and church discipline through Christ.  Christ really is present during communion and baptism, serving his blood to the people.  He is the WOG, just like the Bible, so he comes to you when the preacher preaches it.  And where two or more are gathered in his name, there Christ is in their midst.  That verse is about church discipline.  Not singing.  Not prayer.  Not Bible study.  Church discipline.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stuck in the Vending Machine

I taught the Kids' Sunday School yesterday.  The topic was the first Passover, so we had a Seder.  It went over very well.  We had a blanket and pillows for a table, and plates with Matzoh, chicken bones (to be lamb bones), celery (the bitter herbs), horseradish, apple sauce (instead of these sweet beans), salt water, grape juice, and chicken nuggets (I still don't know what that stood for but they were tasty).  We read the story of the Exodus and what this symbolizes.  If they remember nothing else, I hope they remember that they are protected from God's wrath because the Lamb's blood is covering them.  We had red paper on the door just in case.

I finally finished my paper nesting doll versions of Jacob's children.  Alexis had six, Emily had six, and I had Joseph, who for some reason had a mustache.  I included Dinah among the paper children, so we had 13 dolls.  We acted out the story of Joseph's brothers throwing him down a well.  Joseph was Jacob's favorite and he'd brag about his dreams to the extent that even Jacob had to rebuke him.  My lesson went so fast that the girls had time to play.

I'm still in the process of trying to teach catechism to my kids.  For Macaria, I chose three questions from the Catechism for Young Children with color pages and puzzles, and she didn't come!  And the two girls were sitting in the car when I remembered that I had found a workbook on the WSC on the internet that I plan on purchasing (I can just download it to the computer) and printed the first lesson for them.  I ran out there and gave it to them.  And for the teens, I e-mailed them a plan with the first WSC questions and the verses footnoted in my booklet.  But it's like my plans are still stuck in the vending machine.  I guess I'll find out real fast if it works or not.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Listening to Records: New Way to Be Human

Switchfoot's second album.  Charlie Peacock produced it, doing a much better job than Jimmy Lee Sloas, who is normally excellent.  Just ask PFR.  But Peacock's production flows so much better, and only one song seems to go on forever and not in a good way.  Many obviously Christian songs, but no mention of Jesus.  They do an excellent job making the album worshipful, but looking back, not mentioning Jesus does not help people who are lost put two and two together.  That's why general revelation is not enough to save people.

But I digress.  Here is the title song with a nifty video:

Behold all things are new.  The old has gone; the new has come.  Life in Jesus is so much better and more fulfilling than the monotonous life of chasing after love and sex and the American dream.  God changes us to where we don't care about the old life anymore, and the Holy Spirit gives us identity and security.

Another appeal to consider your present life and see whether it's everything you hoped or if something is missing.

The wikipedia page says that this song was based on Soren Kirkegaard.  Typically, I don't agree with Soren, but I do relate to him and actually like what he says sometimes.  He's the one that started existentialism and post-modernism, but I do believe he was an elect Christian.  His belief against modernist thought was that man could not reach God on his own, but he took that too far and thought he couldn't reach God at all.  He had to take a leap of faith to get to God.

Sadly, that's still trying to reach God on your own, and also feeling around in the dark when God gave us Jesus and the Bible and the Holy Spirit to lead us to the answers.  He gave us the cheat sheet, but we still want to do the process when we can never do it.  It is dismaying that the guys also quote the atheist Sartre on this thing.

Still a good song.

Another classic Switchfoot song about the futility of material possessions, the emptiness that they provide in themselves.

There's a picture of the band now, but at this time it was still the two brothers and Chad.  This is one of the first songs where I'm certain Jon Foreman was writing about each birthday that he had.  He's 22 at the recording of this song, dating the song because you're only 22 for one year of your life.  He's about 35 now.  But this a beautiful, worshipful song.

Another philosopher song, this time about Augustine.  They mispronounce his name, like the city in Florida and the majority of Americans.  Remember, the stress is on the "Gus."  Good song, but not one you want to listen to on repeat, which I did back then.  The opening and closing riffs kind of phase me.  This song makes me wish the guys would go to Erskine Seminary and take church history under Dale Johnson, the best teacher ever.  At least go somewhere that's truly Reformed Presbyterian and learn about these men.

This isn't the song that put them on the map, but it is the love theme of Walk to Remember.  This was my favorite song on the album before Mandy Moore ruined it.  The bass on the second verse makes the song vibrant, romantic, even sexy but in a clean way.  It totally magnifies God and is so much better when the men sing it.

 The only dud on the whole album.  It goes on and on.  It's depressing.  I'm not real sure that it isn't about Amy Grant.  In the 80s and 90s, her music was amazing and even deeply theological, but this song came out around the time of her divorce, and by then, she'd lost her fire.  Now she's back on her feet but her stuff is sappy and sentimental and no longer deep.  That album Simple Things could have totally been on Disney Channel.  She even has a song "Better than a Hallelujah" which is boring and simply not true.  Honesty is great but it never replaces what we were made for, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

But alas, whoever this song is for, it fits Amy Grant circa 1999.

But we turn the album over for the last two songs and this is a totally fun and encouraging song.  I don't want to be in an emotional turmoil; I want to turn around life the most complete life that God intended.  I turn everything over and stop trying to try.

The last song and a great finale.  Truly good pick for a last song.  You can see Jon relaxing, gazing at the stars, and knowing that God is truly near, giving his life meaning.  Also, there's the hidden track "Bop bop bop-be-dop."  They had the lyrics to it on this video.  I never knew they were ending with Chin 105.  Makes me wonder what this Chin is up to that they dedicated the first album to.  I don't know.  We've listened to this album.  Good night.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Facets

After over a year I'm back in South Carolina for the night!!!! Yippee!

I'm staying with Hannah who is singing in the Choraleers concert and I hope to see lots of people.

She's at Wal-Mart and I'm listening to her Owl City CD b/c I haven't heard it yet.

I finally figured out what the OWS protests are all about.  I'm very dismayed and how entitled these children think that they are.  Here's the liberal description:

Here's the correct description from Ann Coulter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flea baggers

Angry teenage mob
Protesting the wrong rich guys
Forget their iPhones

Let's bring down the rich
One percent of our country
Laptops on our desks

If we equalize
We'll be just like Soviet
See how that worked out.

People rich or poor
Eliminated mid-class
There's your one percent.

I'm not ninety-nine
Why be just like everyone?
I am doing fine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go, Go, Go Joseph!

I had a nice evening at church with a load of food and Alexis watching Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  I'm so glad I previewed the Potiphar scene before I decided to skip it.  There's always a saying that you notice more PG-13 stuff when you watch a movie with your parents.  I must say it's even more true when it's one 8-year-old in your church.  I had never noticed the outfits on the girls around Pharaoh until tonight and I hope they went over her head. 

So, voila, I'm planning on attempting to teach Catechism for Young Children to Macaria.  I assume that she'll be in Sunday School with Mary in the nursery, but just the same, I picked the first three questions of CYC, and found lots of color pages and puzzles for them.  I hope that goes over.  It should.  The girl loves to color.  I also have plans to have her make a cube while we have Children's Church that have pictures of the Joseph story.  His brothers throw him into a well this week.

It'll be good to see Jacob making the same mistakes as his father in picking a favorite child.  At least this time, Joseph is an honorable guy.  He remembers God while in Egypt and saves the land.  But Jacob encourages me because he's such a scoundrel.  I believes in God when he sees the Stairway, and believes again when he wrestles God, but in between in after, it's like he remembers God but more as a supplement to his life, not the center.  God still saves Jacob because he can, and that's pretty much the only good thing about Jacob.  Even after Rachel dies from having Benjamin, he still clings to her sons as idols to the detriment of his other sons.  It's like they don't exist.  You can understand why they would work to get rid of Joseph, even though they were wrong to throw him into a well and sell him and then tell Jacob that a goat mauled him, Jacob seeing right through their lies and making their lives even worse.  I'm still floored by God's stubborn grace that does not forsake his promises.  He picks on of Leah's sons to be ancestor to Jesus while Joseph and his children do well as Ephraim's tribe, but pretty much get lost after the northern Kingdom is exiled. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Reformed? Intro

Two weeks ago, I listened to the first lesson on Reformed Theology by Adam Kaloostian here.  I'm about to listen to the next one.  Last week I had women's fellowship at Trinity and just forgot, though I've been listening to Sinners and Saints archives every day.  Here are the questions and answers from last time to the questions Adam provided.

1.  Why are you listening to this series on “What is the Reformed Faith?”? What are your thoughts on “the Reformed faith”? Are you expecting to hear anything in particular?

I seriously would like to teach this to my teens.  I would like pointers and I'll possibly need to make my own, but I think these are good questions to ask.  The Reformed faith for me gives me identity and security.  I first embraced it when I was 18.  Before, I was insecure about friends and fitting in in high school, but finding my identity in monergism caused me to really appreciate God, find confidence that he'll never leave me but only grow me into holiness, and it made me feel way cooler than the people I knew who had no life apart from their friends or what was popular, looking for love in sex and music and not finding it.  I found what I was looking for, and I didn't need to look for it.  It found me.  I really love that I have freedom from taking any credit for salvation, mine or anyone else's, and I know that God can override all my mistakes.

2. Are you a religious person? Do you fit among the typical “categories” of people mentioned?

Yes, I can say that I'm religious.  All the majority will say, "Don't be religious, embrace Jesus."  I would agree wholeheartedly, but I do follow some ritual routine, and I'm not ashamed of it.  Jesus ordained order in his church and in his followers, and if that's religion, then too bad.  I'm following what Jesus set up.  Here are Adam's categories:
Not religious at all: not me.
All religions are the same: yes, but then there's Christianity and following Jesus.  This is where it becomes something greater than religion.
Strongly convinced of the Bible/fanatic: yes, ma'am.  I'm a Jesus freak!  I carry my Bible at school and soon I'll wear my Spurgeon shirt and hand out sermon excerpts from him on Halloween since I have class and can't hand out candy at my door.  And anyway, if Jesus's answers revealed in the Bible aren't the answer, then there is none.
Fervent follower of other religions: been sympathizing with the RCs.  Need to get away from that because it's not the Gospel and not true Christianity.  I trust God to save such folk, but there is no Christianity apart from looking to Jesus alone for salvation by faith alone through grace alone.  There's also no higher authority than his word and all the glory goes to God.
Strong skeptic of Christianity: not Christianity, just Christians who publish books.  I went to Cokesbury today.  I only found one packet of catechism curricula and it was by the PCUSA.  I couldn't buy it.  I leafed through it, didn't see glaring errors, but they said nothing about the Virgin Birth, and seriously, I'm not giving them money.  To their credit, I was there an hour before I found Wrong Bell's stuff.  They even have the audacity to sell Love Wins.  There was Phyllis Tickle, "Embracing Emergent christianity" to which I say no, that's not Christianity.  And after heretic and heretic, I found two John MacArthurs and was satisfied, and even him I'm mad at for being so anti-paedobaptism.
Heart a lot and want to hear more:  I can never hear enough.  I want the true Reformed truth.

3. What are some typical obstacles to people thinking about religious questions?
Some of my obstacles are being afraid of hurting people.  So many people have known no different than legalism or shallow easy-believism.  I want to tell the truth, but I don't want to hurt people so much that I harm them and hinder the Gospel.  Adam also suggested that people have met despicable religious people.  True that.  Scary reformed people who don't believe in evangelism and are legalistic.  Past bad Christian experiences that didn't work.  It's all anti-intellectual.  Back to me, I'm also afraid of being or appearing judgmental.  Ultimately, people are just lazy.  They've grown up in a church or an ethnic focused church that teach bad theology.  It took me till last February to finally leave the PCUSA, even Smyrna. 

An aside from Adam, "God has a good reason for the bad things that he caused to come to pass.  We have no right to question him.  Without God, we have no basis for bad or good."  Again, we cannot fully comprehend God.

4. What do we mean when we say that the Reformed faith is “true”?
Adam: It is the only true faith because it conforms to Biblical faith.  Any claims that compete with the Bible are false.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Welcome to the Church!

Sunday was glorious.  Three of our 8-year-olds joined the church, two being baptized as they had not yet been baptized.  It was very exciting.  We did it just like we should with a cake and reception afterwards.  I don't think I've seen our little place more packed. 

Stacie was back!  Now I had two girls in teen Sunday School.  Stacie had come with Aubrie off and on and I hadn't seen her since February or March.  It was so good to see her.  We first recapped all the names in Abe's genealogy from Terah to Rachel and Leah.  I tried to also tried to update Stacie on what God promised them while Aubrie went to get a Capri Sun.  Then I gave the lesson about Jacob dreaming about Led Zep, I mean, the Stairway to Heaven.  We talked about dreams we have had, and then noticed that Jacob dreamed but it was real, and that the Stairway has a name.  Of course, that name is Jesus and Aubrie got it. 

Then we went through the Jerry Springer story about Jacob, his two wives, and all their kids.  Oh, and Laban.  I did the same thing I did with the kids, had them say things after Rachel or Leah.  

My new 5-year-old was back.  I know how to spell her name now, Macaria.  I got my first really willful child.  Didn't want to go into Children's church without Goldfish, or because there was a boy in there.  I had her finish coloring the coats of arms from last week that didn't get finished.  I did the story of Jacob running away from Laban, his dream about wrestling the angel, and then meeting with Esau and making up with him. 

So, times are a-changing at Trinity EPC.  We know have enough kids in Children's Church that we'll have to start separating the ages.  So far, Macaria will be the lone K-1st grader while the rest will be upper elementary.  It's getting to be that way in the nursery with Mary.  We have babies other than Jacob, just what I've been praying for, but with both classes, I'll have to call volunteers to help out.

Also, I'm feeling very convicted that I want to start teaching the kids catechism.  Maybe do the catechism for young children for Macaria and start Westminster Shorter for the older kids to take home.  Maybe I'll give prizes for whoever finishes their catechism lesson.  I could send home color pages and fill-in sheets and if they do it they'll get a piece of candy or a sticker, and if Macaria does her work she can get some Goldfish. 

Which reminds me, I probably should call the pastor or his wife to tell them my plans and start working on WSC lessons.  I found one good book online, but I'm hesitant to order it b/c I simply don't like online ordering.  I also saw a color book, but I can't preview it and it looks like something out of the 50s and not challenging enough.  So, I'll have to go back to making up my own lessons unless I figure something better, or see if Lifeway has anything, or if I can take a trip to a bad neighborhood and see what Cokesbury has.

Well, I'm off.  Good night.  And welcome to the church, Autumn, Alexis, and Madison!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salvation in the Old Testament

For a while now, I've been subscribed to Wretched on YouTube.  Because of that they recommended that I subscribe to Way of the Master.  That's great because I subscribed right after the 180 release and Way of the Master has this show called On the Box.  You see Tony Miano, Ray Comfort, and other dudes talking about street ministry, street preaching, tracts, how to answer tough questions from atheists or trolls, and I do get good encouragement and tips from these folks.  I personally would never go out and preach in a street, start questioning random people at the mall, or even hand out tracts, though I do have a good plan on Halloween that I'll talk about later.  I do like their answers to questions and that they answer questions form viewers.  I personally wouldn't mind hitting abortion apologists with a two-by-four myself, though they've never done that. 

On one episode I watched yesterday, someone asked how people got saved in the Old Testament before Christ came.  One guy answered but I wasn't impressed with his answer.  Here's the episode:

 He answers about halfway through the video and I do recommend this show, but the answer isn't wrong, but it's not the best answer either.

Here's my answer to the question about salvation in the Old Testament: God still showed the people Jesus and they were saved through believing. 

Abraham is most on my mind lately because of my teaching at church.  In Genesis 22, God asks him to take Isaac to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.  Abraham does it.  He's moving to slay Isaac, and then God stops him (actually the Angel of the Lord, aka, Jesus in the OT).  He says to not slay Isaac, but he gives Abraham a lamb to sacrifice instead.  This is a play-by-play of what we deserve: death, what God did for us: substituted a lamb, aka Jesus, and we get off free.  Abraham and Isaac believed, so God credited them with righteousness (he says that in chapter 15, but it applies here.)

If God saved anyone in the OT, it by showing them the promise of Christ, and they believed.  The first people he saved were Adam and Eve themselves.  They sinned, God prophesied Christ in 3:15, threw them out of the garden, and then killed animals for them to wear as clothes.  They would not approach God without blood.  They also taught Cain and Abel the need to bring a blood sacrifice.  Abel obeyed and became the first martyr for the Lord.  Cain brought only fruit, and God would not accept it.  Cain is everyone who tries to get to God on his own merit and his own rules, which only amount to dirty rags, aka used tampons.  Cain ended up damned because he would not repent and let Jesus be his Lord.

You see this all over the Old Testament.  Noah had to enter God's provision of the Ark to escape the flood.  Moses and Israel passed through the Red Sea.  Aaron and his folks had to take sacrifices to the tabernacle both for their own sins and the people's sins.  David purchased Araunah's threshold, also on Mt. Moriah, to build the temple and stop God from killing the people.  All until Jesus came and sacrificed himself once for all time and now people could believe in him explicitly.  So in both Old and New Testament, God didn't save anyone unless he moved them to believe in Jesus's sacrifice for their sins.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fax

Read Gregg's post.  It's about porch sittin'.  Something I wish would come back.  In the old days people would sit on their porches and socialize.  Facebook had nothing on porch sittin'.  Now people only sit in their backyards so no one will bother them. 

I wish we could go back to a time when neighborhoods were friendly enough to even step outside.  In Conyers, which is really ghetto now, there have been two murders in the last month, one down the street from me in a meth lab, which is down the street from me. 

Gregg once commented on there that I need a new town.  No, I'm not going to contribute to white flight.  I'm going to stay here and be a witness.  The town my current school is in is way more dangerous than Conyers. 

I do have a patio that I sit on, with a lawn chair that keeps getting rained on and dirty.  I need to just take a towel and dust it off.  We even have a patio table now.  It's the closest I get to a porch. 

When you live on a street corner, and you have people walking on the street on two sides of your house, it's like you have no front or back yard.  Either I have three backyards or three front yards and I'm still not sure which is which.  There's the official front yard with our front door, but we don't use that door.  Then there's the driveway and garage that we do use.  Then there's the patio, whose door I use more than the front door.  And then there's the side with all the trees.  I guess that's the back-yard but it still faces the street in front of our front yard.  So a patio will do fine for a front porch and I can greet all the ghetto kids who wander through our yard like they're animals.  And that's not a racist thing, both black and white kids do it.

Speaking of race, I get more and more offended when I fill out an application or a questionnaire that asks my race.  I've been reading enough Answers in Genesis and I'm so tired of being a different race than people simply because I have less melanin.  If I can I usually skip the race question.  I'm a human.  I need no race.

I might try to write a poem tomorrow. I'm still not impressed with the one I wrote last week but I hope to write more like that.  I'd write more songs to place on YouTube but I'm out of tunes.  I can spin out lyrics all day, but not tunes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ray Comfort's EV style

So, the internet's down in my house and I'm writing this in a McDonald's.  Hope it works tonight.

This is more on the 180 video, which I loved and would gladly use at Refuge.  I at least might watch it again and write down the questions in the order Ray asks them.

There has been talk from Phil Johnson, Tim Challies, and the Thirsty Theologian about Ray not presenting the Gospel properly.  The Thirsty Theologian gave the biggest insult by saying Charles Finney would give a big "amen."  If I was Ray Comfort and read that, I'd seriously reconsider my tactics.

Now Charles Finney, a full-blown Pelagian, did not believe man had original sin or that Christ's death saved us.  Christ was a great moral example about how we can live for God by our own means.  So, he would use any method to emotionally trick people into accepting Christ, but years later, those commitments didn't last.  He set the bar for modern evangelism today, (evangelism is shortened to EV).  Billy Graham, though not a heretic, uses those new measures, and yes, I agree, Ray Comfort does, too.

Now Ray Comfort is a great guy, and his tactics may work for him, and I know he's a Calvinist, or at least a Spurgeon fan, but his tactics definitely lack faith in the Holy Spirit's influence.  He approaches people on Rodeo Drive and asks them questions and eventually intimidates them into accepting Christ and switching to Pro-life (I don't mind the latter part at all), but will their commitment last till next year?  Will it even last till tomorrow?  Now, if he gave them an address to a church or his e-mail where he could follow up and disciple them, it could work, but not just a drive-by-shooting method (although God can use any means to draw people to Christ). 

A true Calvinist, who believes that salvation cannot happen using human methods, will form friendships with someone.  They will get to know the person.  if they are philosophical people, usually conversations will lead to what we believe and I'll positively say what I believe and hope that they can do the math and see how it contradicts their beliefs.  At Refuge, I try to remember, but sometimes fail, to pray with the client, share a Scripture, and hopefully explain the penal substitutionary atonement.  They can't be saved unless they accept Christ's death and resurrection on their behalf.  They can't be saved without his Name.  And they can't be awakened to accept Christ unless I preach Scripture to them.  Above all, only praying to God, will he move to save them, and even my praying is God's motion to save them.  I say no words without the Holy Spirit.  But I will get nowhere if I try to approach someone at McDonald's and force them to commit before they are ready.

But still, I'm so glad for Ray's video and how viral it's gone.  That in itself is God working through silly humans and despite us.  I'm glad he does it through me or I'd never get anything done.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness

Thankful for e-mail.  I freeze every time I have to dial a phone number.  I hate texting but it is easier for me to communicate that way.  I love e-mail.  I have one e-mail pal in Seattle who I love talking to.  My Conyers friend, I can e-mail her and I feel more comfortable with that than calling her landline.  I love e-mail.  Now if I can just get them to e-mail the account that I actually check.

Thankful for BCM.  I don't know if I'll make lifelong BFFs there, but I definitely have met many people who I can relate to and that I'm comfortable around.  Many have BFF potential.  I went hiking with the BCM groups both from Clayton State and from Georgia Perimeter.  In fact, if I do this again and know that GPC is going, I'm going to just ride with them as I live a whole lot closer to them.  I had so much more fun with them than the group that I went with in August.

As you can tell, I'm thankful for Switchfoot this week.  They are on a Christian label, play for secular audiences, even run the risk of being ashamed of the Gospel, but they still make amazing music and I can still feel their Christianity in their music.  Stay tuned for more blogs.

Thankful for pictures that I can rummage through.  They are mostly from Dad's side of the family that I don't know as well.  I actually had a good conversation with Dad as I was trying to see if he could identify some of the people.  Only two pictures he couldn't tell, Pappy couldn't recognize them either, so they're in the trash.  One baby I'm pretty sure I know but I need to get her mom's address and just send it to her.  This baby I hear is 15, so she doesn't look like that now.

Thankful that I've been cleaning; not so thankful that I've been busy and it's piling up again.  I don't see myself having much time tomorrow.

Thankful for the new psychologist that I see.  He is great.  I am going to see if I can just see how I do on the upped Lexapro and the clonidine and not do any more of the new medicines he's introduced to me.  I've taken lexapro and clonidine a long time now.  I do like the extra dosage of Lexy, but these other medicines have only made me regress. 

Thankful for Mary who is still the eyes and ears of my youth ministry and always catches things that I miss or that I'm forgetting.

Thankful for busy weeks.  I hope I just find the time to do my homework correctly and plan my church lessons properly.

The Children of Israel

For Children's Church, the topic was Jacob meeting Laban, marrying his two daughters, and having children with four women.  The audience is mostly 8 years old.  We had a 5 year old, a new one.  She's brilliant and adorable, but my teaching is over her head.  I think I might have to establish a new rule that if you choose Children's Church, you should stay there.  If you choose nursery, you stay there.  We had kids running around the halls again to either go to the bathroom or get snacks.  We'll have to establish rules that way, too, like go to the bathroom between Sunday School and church, or get snacks before Children's church but no more.  I might even need to start having another adult in the room.

My lesson idea was great in the end.  I re-read the story of Genesis 29-30, had the kids say lines for each person mentioned, but when we went through all of Jacob's kids, I think they actually got bored.  That was when the 5-year-old decided to go to nursery.  However, she missed the activity: coloring coats of arms for each child of Jacob mentioned in this passage: 11 sons and Dinah.  I even had found coats of arms for all the last names of the regular kids online and drew and colored them. 

Now I just have to have a better climate control again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Listening to Records: Switchfoot

I want to listen to more records here on my blog.  I did Daniel Amos hodgepodge last time I did this.  Now, I think I'm going to do all eight of Switchfoot's albums, starting with the first: Legend of Chin.

They named this album after their friend Willis Chin.  Jimmy Lee Sloas produced it, the same one who did all of PFR's albums and even some Garth Brooks.  The album even has a cast of Matt Slocum from Sixpence None the Richer and Charlie Peacock who produced later Switchfoot albums and did a better job than Jimmy Lee. 

The band at the time was just Jon and Tim Foreman, two PK brothers, and their friend Chad on drums.  They were surfers from San Diego, just kids then, very handsome, and at age 12 I was going to marry them.  At least Tim.  I'd marry him.

You finally lit the fuse that's in my head.  I still don't know what this song means, turning off fluorescent tubes, anything.  It's a great opening.  The guys start from a bass riff to a song that explodes like a bomb into an amazing song.

Whoa, baby!  A music video.  The guys were preppy, clean cut, shiny.  When I saw them in concert I was 12, Jon was 21, Tim was 19, and I never did meet Chad.  They opened for Third Day.  I had a poster, got to talk to them.  Jon signed it saying, "Meghan is cool."  Yeah, does wonders for a girl's ego.

The song Chem 6A, again, don't know what it's about, but I can identify with not wanting to do something like be in class, working, even church sometimes because I'm feeling lazy, lethargic, depressed, tired, and even lazy.  But you still have to get up and do what you need to do.  Here they sing about not wanting to be big or famous, but now that they are, they're pretty much the biggest sell-outs with songs on commercials and shows and PSAs.

If I recall, most of the homemade videos have the lyrics, so you can sing along.  This song was the debut of Jon's Kermit Voice.  He's never lost that voice.  I think it even shows up on Vice Verses.  This is their most forgettable song.  It goes on a bit long, but you can already see their emotional music about wanting to save people, losing people, caring about people who may not be able to be helped, and there is nothing more melancholy.

This is the beginning of the awesome on this album.  When this album came out, I was reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time since my mom first read them to me when I was 7.  The music fit perfectly with the books.  Especially Prince Caspian, which I was reading during this song.  I can totally see Lucy in the woods imagining the trees in their dryad state and finally running into the real Aslan.  And you are on the edge of your seat in those books.  And as these guys were college age, you never know what happens next from high school graduation and after that.  Oddly enough, they did do a song for the Prince Caspian movie.  Too bad the Narnia movies are fairly Pelagian and nothing like the books. 

Same thing.  Jon is a long way from home, a long way from his thoughts to what he'll say, a long way from paradise to where I am today.  The perfect Switchfoot longing for something so much bigger than the current world that we can see which is also a C. S. Lewis theme.

Switchfoot has long since matured and are not so tongue-in-cheek anymore.  This is my first favorite song on the album.  It's a heart-wrenching love song about unrequited love, amazing guitars, you can hear their surfer culture as they want the girl to "be there when the sea turns gray."  Then, I guess they thought "might have been her" sounded like "might have Ben Hur" and titled the song that way and dedicated it to Charleton Heston.  (I'm also still in love with him, too, but he's definitely dead now, but I really do believe he was a Christian.  He was at least big on the NRA.)

"Concrete Girl" is my favorite song on this album, and possibly in all the Switchfoot canon.  They always have some theme about people wanting to fit in with society and who lose themselves in the process.  Another song was out by Reality Check called "Plastic Friends" and being in middle school at the time, those were the only girls I knew.  Girls into make-up, boys, dirty talking, WB shows, and most of whom ended up pregnant at some point by the time we graduated or shortly after.  I couldn't fit in with these girls who didn't think or just did anything to fit in, and I was even made fun of.  Switchfoot actually shows care for these concrete girls, warning them not to get lost and turn into robots or even just generic.  The guitars on this are also heart-wrenching, and you can imagine the White Witch's stone statues and the Lion coming to breath them back into reality.  Not to mention, this is also the one song from this album that Switchfoot put on their greatest hits CD.

Another song about life's meaninglessness and how there has to be more.  Very Ecclesiastes.

The first time I heard of Switchfoot breaking into the secular music realm, I read this article about this song that was played on Dawson's Creek (early signs of them compromising with the world).  It was "You" by Switchfoot.  This was years before Walk to Remember. I still think this song is 1) actually about God, 2) kind of boring.

The best song on the album (yes the other best song).  It's specifically about their friend, they refer to it on "Gone" four albums later, and an urge to make sure you are aware that every decision you make has consequences for the rest of eternity.  "Life's more than girls."

The end of this album and this blog post for now.  "You be around and I'll be square."  More corny lyrics in an otherwise very heartfelt song.

These guys are already poignant, emotional, and adorable.  They don't really mention God at all on this album but you can tell the songs are about Him and when you see them in concert you can feel the worship experience, at least pre-Walk to Remember days, which were the only times I've seen them.  It does bother me that they are so moot on God and sometimes global like Bono, but they are believers, yea even Christians, and they reach a whole lot of people for the Lord, and their music is still amazing, so all in all, they are my favorite band.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Emma Woodhouse

I went off hiking today with a group from Clayton's BCM.  I'm very glad that I went and my legs are very mad at me right now. 

On the way back, I struck up a conversation with a girl about Jane Austin (and of course Jane Eyre), and we were discussing favorite JA novels.  Mine is still Pride and Prejudice, with Persuasion as a second.  (And of course, I'll always love Mr. Rochester but would never end up with someone like him in real life.) 

Then I sat and thought, sometimes, I really identify with Emma Woodhouse from Emma.  Both P novels had sweet girls surrounded by snooty men and women.  Emma is one of the snooty women but she has a heart of gold, always wants to help her friend Harriet Smith, but always ends up meddling.

Thinking of her now, I know am figuring out why I obsess over people so much.  I want to fix them!  I want to convert them to Presbyterianism and the GOP and at least agree with something Calvin said because it's actually what Paul said.  And then I forget that I'm not the Messiah, that I can't change their hearts, and that I can only love them as they are and try to focus on other friends and activities while not neglecting them in the process.  So instead of all the things I have in common with them, I go around and talk about what makes us different.  Celebrating diversity at its finest. 

So now I greatly have to pray that God shuts my mouth and only opens it when I have positive things to say about what I believe, not negative things about what they believe.  Maybe this could transfer over into Refuge, too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Facts

Refuge was great today.  First thing, one of my follow-up clients had her baby, so I closed her case, but then she came with her baby to get a layette and formula.  That baby was so adorable and so sweet.  He was smooshed up against her and they weren't gone before I touched his cheek.

Also, Ashlee, the young intern, had some word searches from another lady and she copied some for me.  They are from Chicken Soup for the soul.  Inspirational, sometimes I agree with it, but I have to sit and laugh a minute.

First word seek has words from Elbert Hubbard.  Say it really Southern: Ayul-bert. 

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.  No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."
I say a big amen to that, especially when I get to a self-check-out counter at Wal-Mart.  I seriously would just prefer a real person to check out my groceries.  Same with calling your student loan lenders.  Seriously, no robot, just someone who speaks English as a first language.  I have a hard enough time hearing on the phone if you have a garbly accent.  One more, I prefer real voices in singing, not auto-tune.  Especially when Christian pop groups thing they have to use it because young kids won't listen to it any other way.

"A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness."
One more reason why my Dad is a great man.  He can't remember anything anymore, and on a serious note, I really do wonder if he's getting Alzheimer's.  But he's 57, and he'll live into his 80s like his parents, and mind you his mother also had Alzheimer's and only died in December at age 83.  So, she was a great woman, too.  I'm on the road to greatness myself as I start to forget things at the ripe old age of 26.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."
Can't argue with that one, but I do prefer 2 Timothy 1:7. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline"

This last one is long and from a different author:
"Any change must begin somewhere, it is the single individual who will experience it and carry it through.  The change must indeed begin with an individual; it might be any one of us. Nobody can afford to look around and to wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself."
1. The punctuation is a nightmare.
2. Actually, Obama did not say this.  But it's so corny that all I read is O-blah-blah.
3. The punchline: Carl Jung said this.  Yes, Freud's friend and co-worker.  I mean, I do like psychology, but I'm not taking inspiration from atheists.
4. Change must begin with surrendering your life Jesus.  Nothing will happen otherwise.

So, we need to make some word searches from Reformed folks.  Anybody want to make one?  If you make one, I'll make one b/c I'm not doing a word search that I made.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Mighty Wrath of God

The people God had made would only make God mad
The thoughts within their hearts were wicked all the time
So God sent down a flood to wash them all away
There only was one door and only one life line
The Ark housed Noah and his kin through the flood
Only they survived the mighty wrath of God
God provided them a box where they could hide
It took the fatal blows, the mighty wrath of God

The people God had saved now wandered in the sun
Ungrateful they all pined for the food they ate as slaves
God saved them anyway and gave them a blueprint
For one elaborate temple, a plan for them to fit
The Ark throned Yahweh, a coffin in the crowd
They sinned but offered blood to please the wrath of God
God put up with their whining and lived within their midst
Accepted substitutes to take the mighty wrath of God

The people God had made are still lost in their sins
With idols we're in chains, but we'll stay here to save face
God drew some to his Son who came for thirty years
And sacrificed his life to take our rightful place
You are the very Ark if Christ has died for you
He sent the Holy Ghost beside you as your guide
There is no life apart from life on Jesus's side
He took our place and bore the mighty wrath of God.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Advent with Abraham

So I taught previous lessons to the teen this past Sunday and what I would have taught her I'm teaching the kids this Sunday.  While I still need to prepare the kids' lesson, today I formulated what I would like to see for Advent.

At first I had wanted to have the kids sing an Angels medley that I found while cleaning with a bunch of Christmas songs like Hark the Herald Angels Sing (which is my favorite so we have to sing it), Angels We Have Heard on High.  I showed it to Cathy who had the idea of presenting what we've been teaching this fall.  We have four guys: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, who all led to one Jesus, our only God and Savior.  So I've been typing out scripts from what I feel are key passages in each man's narrative.  I'm already excited, though I may have to shorten them and even consider our every-other-week kids.  Will they have to miss some presentations or will we schedule around them?

In other news, I'm not sure when James MacDonald announced his invitation to T. D. Jakes for the Elephant Room talks and the whole blogosphere exploded over modalism again, but I wrote my blog on the Trinity last week before I heard about that.  I am quite dismayed at his decision, but God will work it out.

Happily, I finally found Reformed commentators on the internet who aren't Baptist.  Real paedobaptists, just like Calvin.  They are on  Their sermons are usually less than 30 minutes, are either based on the Bible or some catechism or confession, actually, they are all on the Bible, but it's good to hear from catechisms, too.  And they have this show called Sinners and Saints.  This week they really got bold and are starting a series critiquing John MacArthur's last sermon on baptism.  I'm so glad they are doing this and maybe they will convert John to the true reformed position on this.  I don't think they should go as far to say that Baptists don't practice true baptism, because they do, but I do think it's a serious crime to deny baptism to the babies of Christian parents, and hopefully in future broadcasts they'll nail this down Biblically and credibly. 

And I still very much love John MacA.  He's my hero, but I'm so glad to find paedobaptists who make me feel less like a minority.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Srsly? Moments with St. Augustine

Disclaimer: this has some denominational ranting.

Slowly, I've been reading Augustine and the Pelagian Controversy by B. B. Warfield.  It's been slow because life has come at me.  Legal research assignments, youth group planning, and trying to have a life, have all bombarded me and out of 98 pages, I'm still 71% read and I downloaded it two weeks ago.  If there's one man both RCs and RCs (Reformed Christianity) love, it's Augustine.

Augustine was the first man since Paul to really refine monergistic soteriology.  Btw, I was just adding the last two words to the spellcheck dictionary.  I have to take a moment and laugh at the suggestions.  Monergism: synergism.  Yes I know, that's the opposite of monergism.  Monergism means only one person works.  Synergism, we work together.  Augustine taught monergism: only God works in our salvation.  Next, monergistic: energetic and modernistic.  Soteriology: bacteriology. 

Okay, back to business.  Augustine, to his detriment, also loved Plato.  I can't blame him.  I really like Plato, too.  I love his cave allegory where this life is like you are in a cave looking out a window that keeps getting darker, and when you die, the afterlife is the true reality outside the cave.  C. S. Lewis so took that idea and ran with it.  Plato, however, believed in the reality of the invisible world so much that he did not want to live in this world.  He said it was more spiritual to be ascetic and deny fleshly reality which is evil and just a shadow to embrace the invisible which is true reality.  This early gnosticism led to monasticism which is very much what God never intended for Christians.  He wanted us to not be of the world, but in the world making disciples of all nations and being blessings to people.  He wanted us to marry, increase, and multiply in number.  He didn't want us to die before our time.

Warfield's book is a great picture of Augustine's theology concerning Pelagius, both influencing Catholics and the Protestant reformation for years to come.  I'm still not done with the book, like I said, and when I am done, I'm going to read it again to take notes.  That's the problem with e-readers, you can't underline or write in the margins.  I am still happy that the book was free and that it's not cluttering my floor.  So with no references, I'm going to discuss what I've read so far in the book.

The British monk Pelagius believed that when Adam sin, he did not pass on his sin to his children.  All people are born with a clean slate with none of Adam's sin, and that by being perfect we can find our way back to God.  Why did we need Jesus?  He was the great moral example who only taught us the best way back to God.  (This is eerily what Wrong Bell says in Velvet Elvis).  Clearly, Pelagius did not take seriously 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive."  Actually, anybody who denies that Jesus is the only way to God or even accepts theistic evolution, seriously ignore 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Nobody rebutted Pelagian claims like Augustine.  He wrote books and treatises on everything that is wrong with Pelagianism.  Pelagius taught that our will is always free.  Augustine said our will is never free until Christ saves us.  Adam had free will but lost it when he sinned.  Pelagius's claims insult God's atonement through Christ's sacrifice.  It denies God's grace, and ultimately, you can never be certain of your salvation.

Now, I will get to two of Augustine's arguments that leave me scratching my head and that seriously influenced Catholicism until this day, the first with which I'll partly agree.

"If babies are born without original sin, then why do they need to be baptized?"  With the Catholic belief that water baptism erases sin from a child, that Lutherans still believe, I can understand why credobaptists get so mad.  Water baptism doesn't cleans a person's sin at any age, nor does it signify that the person is truly saved.  The Holy Spirit's baptism that all believers receive on becoming Christian, the invisible one, is what cleanses your sin and makes you truly Christian.  (Actually, Christ's blood cleanses you for all time, but that's applied in the HS's baptism.)  Presbyterians who practice paedobaptism do so to initiate the child into God's covenant community on earth which will always be mixed with true believers and reprobates.  Believing parents have the right to present their child for baptism, and when he grows up, they won't pressure him into making a decision because he's already been baptized.  Now, all he needs to do is learn the Christian faith, surrender his life to Jesus, and join the church.  I relive the baptism I don't remember when someone else gets baptized.  It makes more sense if you are a Calvinist.

Next, Augustine gets into this tiff with Vincentius Victor about the origin of the soul.  Does God make the soul completely holy or is it created during intercourse, making it unholy?  To answer, Augustine wrote On Marriage and Concupiscence.  Warfield is right when he says, "It is naturally tinged or rather stained with the prevalent ascetic notions of the day."  The following is a bit of plagiarism, which the spellcheck likes to substitute for Pelagianism.  Augustine: marriage is good, and God is the maker of the offspring that comes from it, although now there can be no begetting and hence no birth without sin.  Sin made concupiscence (or sexual desire, I just had to look it up), and now sexual desire perpetuates sinners.  It is to distinguish between the evil of carnal concupiscence, form which man, who is born therefrom, contracts original sin, and the good of marriage.  To Augustine, sexual desire is not a give, but conjugal chastity and continence.  If a couple copulates simply to have children, then it is alright, but if there is sexual desire, then it's bad, and that's why children are born in sin.  So he assumes that Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, allows marriage but forbids the disease of desire.  He assumes that the OT men could have many wives because they wanted more children, not more sex, but in the NT, it's not allowed because it increases lust.  "True marriage can exist without offspring, and even without cohabitation, and cohabitation is now, under the New Testament, no longer a duty as it was under the Old Testament, but the apostle praises continence above it."

Alas.  This is a shambles.  Had Augustine never read 1 Corinthians?  I can understand he might be reflecting on his sexual history, which could rival anyone in Corinth.  He had a live-in girlfriend who bore his son, and later on his mother wanted him to marry higher, so he found a richer woman but still just lived with her, and when he became a Christian, he threw the baby out with the bathwater and forsook all sex, even legal married sex, altogether.

So, here is 1 Corinthians 7: First Paul does say it's good not to marry.  Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

So basically, if you must get married, then do not deny sex from each other.  You are actually sinning if you do not have sex.  Sexual desire is not bad.  Unrestrained sexual desire is evil, but God did create sexual desire so that people would get married, have sex, and have children to be fruitful and increase the earth.  Married sex is every bit as holy if not more so than forced virginity if you should take vocations in the Catholic church, and it is a blessing.   Fulfilling sexual desire with your spouse prevents you from giving in to temptation and perversion.  Some people do have the gift to be chaste their whole lives.  I think it was Zwingli who said not many men have that gift, and he would know.  He could have counseled Augustine.

Verse 9, it is better to marry than to burn with passion.  Seriously, I can tell people who are not meant to live as virgins forever because they burn with passion.  I do.  I think everyone does these days.  If you can't find someone to marry, you must learn to restrain it and focus on Jesus and his Word.

Again, verse 36, If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

You are sinning if you deny marriage to the one you love because you feel called to serve the Lord.  In fact, in chapter 9 verse 5, Paul mentions that both Peter and many apostles had wives who traveled with them.  And don't tell me they were celibate.  God's plan is for married people to have sex both to have children and to bond with each other, so concupiscence is both a gift from God and absolutely good when in the proper context of marriage.  To deny it to your spouse is sin just as having sex outside of marriage.

That's all my ranting for today.  I hope this doesn't become a habit.

Monday, October 3, 2011


It was so good to have the Herndons back in church.  I haven't seen them in more than a month.  One weekend I was out of town.  One weekend they went to the beach.  This weekend I had my teen Sunday school, and the girl in there is actually a teen now.  So yay!  Happy Birthday a month later! 

Now the task was figuring out what lesson she did last.  Wednesday I planned on teaching about Jacob and Laban.  Sunday, she still had not heard the story of Isaac and Rebekah.  Oh man, we had to do that one.  The glorious story of where God leads Abraham's servant to the right girl to marry Isaac. 

We finished that.  So I decided to move on the Jacob v. Esau.  What took me years to figure out, Aubrie figured out immediately.  Isaac was not supposed to be blessing Esau.  Why was he being so stubborn?  And then what if Jacob and Rebekah had not cheated?  Would Jacob still have gotten his blessing?  Yes.  God would have blessed Jacob because he said he would.  He didn't need to steal the birthright or blessing because it was already his.  But he did do that, and God still blessed him because he said he would mostly just to show that he's the one that saves people and not due to any action, since that whole family was eligible for Jerry Springer. 

The Children's Church was right on schedule.  We studied Jacob running away and then being so tired that he slept on a stone and saw God's stairway.  We did that left-right game.  I had a box of brads (the British call them split pins) and when I read any name that wasn't Jacob, we passed it left.  When we read Jacob, we passed it right.  Then we read about God's promises from the stairway.  We glued them in order on the stairway on a color sheet.  Then they colored. 

Then the pastor's wife came back to tell they were starting communion.  I did it this way this time because I'm so ashamed when an elder comes back to serve communion and we are not focused.  I'm now tired of feeling like I'm profaning the Lord's Supper, so I finally told Scott and Debbie that I want someone to call us back to the sanctuary.  It worked much better this time.  Next month I might even have them stay till the end since it was awkward calling them back to the classroom.

Also, we had a new face.  Emily wasn't there, but Holly was, also a friend of Alexis.  It was really good to meet her and I hope we see her again.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Don't Miss High School

Went to my high school's homecoming game last night.  I remember when I was freshman through junior, Salem's football team never won.  However, the band was amazing and I usually only came for that.  Senior year until now, Salem is actually really good and has gone to State playoffs.  That's good. 

We played the oldest school in town last night, Rockdale, that used to always win but now is more equally matched to Salem.  Their band was amazing.  They played pre-game when people had not quite arrived yet.  They played an end of the world theme: Final Countdown, that song by REM, and last, you will not believe this, they played the Revelation Song.  Yes, that Revelation Song.  The one Kari Jobe sings.  The one Jenny Riddle wrote.  That Revelation Song that I love and that we sing in church.  I could not believe it.  It made me happy.

Also, a men's choir sang the National Anthem.  Solid, young male voices.  I was so impressed.  And jealous.  When I was in high school and sang in choir we really had a terrible teacher.  A sweet lady, but a terrible teacher.  All three choirs sang the same songs even though they were supposed to be different levels of advanced.  There was rarely any art music, not even at Christmas, especially the sophomore through senior year when we did the Disney candlelight singing.  If it was not for festival or All-State Chorus, I'd never get to sing good music.  Now, Salem's choir teacher is really good and those guys last night reflected it.

I take this moment to reflect on Salem's constituency these days.  In my days, we were a fine, suburban school with respectful students.  We had our wild ones, but it was average teenage fare.  By the time I graduated, some of Atlanta began to move into Conyers and got zoned for Salem.  Now the students are hugely ghetto.  They all amassed by the end of the second quarter.  They would not shut up.  They were loud, profane, disrespectful, and even obscene.  I could not hear the theme of Salem's band music.  I barely heard the band, which played two good songs that I didn't recognize and then ended with that Black-Eyed Peas song (another sign we've gone downhill: pop songs?  really?).  When the homecoming court came on the field, there were three names called before I realized there were girls standing on the field with their parents.  They didn't even really dress up.  One girl even wore jeans.  After half-time, Mary, Andrew, and I decided to go before we got swallowed in a mob.  I'm ashamed of my old school.

The whole time I sat there wondering if I had any Refuge clients there or if they'd recognize me.  There were certainly potentials out there.  It's a shame because from my generation down, our kids have been so sexually molested by the media, their parents don't monitor their music, and their stars aren't even subtle about their sexuality anymore.  And our girls are starved for true definitions of love, male attention, and Scripture that they rub up on all kinds of wormy looking boys who obviously see them as the campus bicycle and not a valuable girl that they will respect and honor.

And some girls get pregnant, and some girls feel cornered into having abortions, and none of them really know the truth.  And I'm so happy that this video has done so well this week.  Thank you so much Ray Comfort.  I hope you turn the tide for America and the world, and if not, I hope Christ comes back soon.

One last thing: one girl finally commented on facebook that she's tired of seeing the dead babies and it's making her feel horrible?  Seriously?  Isn't that the point?  These hellish atrocities are still going to people of all ages, and people don't see life as sacred anymore, and you just want to go into your safe bubble and do nothing about it?  And let me tell you, I've seen many anti-abortion campaigns, and the one dead baby in this video is mild compared to what I've seen.  I've seen Myspace bulletins that had me disturbed for weeks.  We need to start uniting to stop the legal murders that go on in our own backyards.