Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I'm thankful that we have more than enough kids for a good Christmas production this year.

I'm thankful that they are enthusiastic about lines and songs and helping.

I'm thankful they were more controllable tonight.

I'm thankful Cathy Cutts has the reigns on this one.

I'll be very thankful when we find a final Christmas song to sing at the end.

I'm thankful to be listening to the Rockefeller lighting downstairs.  Mostly good music.

Thankful that I'm turning in my memo for reals tomorrow.

Really thankful that I'm about to print said memo in my massage chair.

Thankful that I'm in the legal field as I like arguing.

Thankful for WestLaw but I really need for it to work when I ask it to send me a case.

Thankful that the next thing I'll do is to press "publish post."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baptism: the other P word

This week, Adam Kaloostian starts on the proper administration of the sacraments, the second of the three marks of the true church.  He starts out boldly with baptism, specifically paedobaptism, and with Scriptures, we talk about how it is very Biblical and how it makes more sense if your a Calvinist.  But first we'll get to his questions.

1. What is a good working definition of a "sacrament"?  How do we know that the Bible teaches that there are only two of them?
First, Adam shows that God gave us the sacraments for a special help and through them, he's giving us grace, specifically, Christ is giving us grace.  When people limit communion to only once a quarter, they basically tell the Lord that they don't want his grace or to commune with Christ.  This is sad because the Apostles celebrated the Lord's supper every week and baptized often, too.  The church makes a huge mistake when it reduces the sacraments to mere pageantry, and our people suffer.  I'd never thought of it this way before, but Adam points out the fascination with fortune-telling, horoscopes, Tarot cards, and even science fiction (which I love sci-fi and fantasy, don't get me wrong).  People are into New Age religion because they desire this connection with something beyond this world.  It's no excuse and really New Age isn't new, but maybe if the church put more emphasis on Sacraments, a healthy and true heavenly contact, then they wouldn't seek it in escapism practices. 
But I digress, sacrament: an external sign but which the Lord seals on our consciousness his promises of good will to us in order to sustain our weak faith while we in turn testify of our piety toward him.

Again, the Lord is sealing on our consciousness his promises.  Primarily, God is doing something toward us.  We are not doing anything toward God.

So why do we have only 2 when RCs have 7 and the Salvation Army has 0?  Two reasons: 1. Sacrament by definition is something that Christ institutes to confirm his promises.  That's why we have more than 0.  Also, Jesus only instituted and partook in 2: baptism and communion.  Luther liked confession, but it's something every sinner must do and Jesus never had to do that.  2. Just because something is symbolic does not mean that it's a sacrament.  Marriage does symbolize what is supposed to be Christ's relationship to the church, but it is not a sacrament.  God doesn't convey his grace through that, although he does bless it if done right.  It's even a church service, but it's not a sacrament.  You can be a part of the church if you never marry or get ordained.  I've done neither so far, and I'm an active part of the church.

2. What are two parts to every sacrament?  What is the relationship between the two? 1. There is the sign -- the outward.  2.  There is the thing signified -- I'll call it the inward.  Baptism for example:  The outward is water that washes dirt off a body.  The inward is the blood of Christ washing sins from a soul.  The outward shows the inward that goes on in heaven.

3. What is the relationship between the time of baptism and the actual washing away of sins for those who receive it?  Does everyone who receives water baptism also receive the actual forgiveness of sins?
Titus 3:5, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
The Reformed folks do not believe that the inward always accompanies the outward.  Also, we also don't believe that faith has to come first.  God can give the inner to the sinner before, during, or after the outer.  And of course, at any age, not everyone who receives the outer, receives the inner.  They are not inextricably connected.  God is the one that washes sins, not us.

4. Who are the proper recipients of Christian baptism?
1. Those not yet baptized who have come to believe in Jesus.
2.  The children of at least one believing parents.
John MacArthur considers it a heinous, gross sin to baptize infants.  Seriously, even if you don't agree with it, why could you call it Satanic?  I on the other hand, in agreement with Adam Kaloostian, consider it a heinous, gross sin to withhold the grace of baptism from our children and infants.  They are born into sin just like we are, and they need to have Christ administer his grace on their inner sins from birth, because we need to teach them the Gospel from birth, even if we just start out singing "Jesus Loves Me."

In Acts 16, two people get baptized.  Starting in verses 14 and 15, Lydia comes to the Lord and then her whole household gets baptized.  No questions asked.  Then, the Philippian jailer came to know the Lord and his whole household was baptized.  Were any infants baptized then?  I admit, the Bible doesn't specifically say, but it says in the ESV that all the jailer's household rejoiced because the jailer believed.  And I'm an NIV chick, but the ESV follows the Greek verb which is conjugated only to the man who believed.  So basically, his household had no more ability to profess their faith than an goo-gooing infant.
One more: 1 Corinthians 1:16, Paul brags about how glad he was that he did not baptize any of those Corinthians because they could not say they were baptized under Paul except for two people, and oh yeah, Stephanas and his household.

Also, this is in line with how God dealt with his covenant people throughout history.  He had the Jewish baby boys circumcised form 8 days old.  It made them part of the community and did not mean that they were saved.  In fact, so many grew up to be idolaters.  Romans 4:11, "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them."  This is Abraham.  His faith and his circumcision were not simultaneous.  And yet God still told him to perform this surgery for the 8-day-old boys.

So, if infant children are considered part of the covenant community in the Old Covenant, why would God turn around and exclude them from the New Covenant?  Especially when that's when children come to faith.  They usually have their worldview in place by age 13.

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul is settling disputes between married couples where one had come to the Lord and the other had not.  He calls both the unbelieving spouse and their children holy simply because the believing spouse is holy.  God sees them as part of his kingdom, and an important part.  Therefore, they must be baptized and God needs to wash their sins from the earliest of ages.

5. Who should be doing the baptizing?
I don't care how many random people baptize their friends in swimming pools across the country or at the beach in Haiti or at the real Jordan River.  It is not a legitimate baptism unless it is done by an ordained minister of the Word.  Christ gave the ability of baptizing to the Apostles, and now that there are no longer Apostles, that job belongs to the ordained ministers of Christ's church.

One time, someone asked me about the passage where the people were re-baptized after they had only had John's baptism.  John's baptism was not in the name of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  All Trinitarian baptism is legitimate, and there is no need for rebaptism if your baptism was in the name of the Trinity, no matter what denomination.

6. How is Christ "preaching" to the whole church when baptism is administered?
Christ is using his sacrament as a visible word.  A metaphor.  As Christ washes the sins away from the one being baptized, whether past, present, or future, he is also preaching to us the Gospel of washing our sins away through his blood.  Also, God reaffirms is promise to those looking on who have already been baptized.  We relive our baptism when someone else is baptized.

Monday, November 28, 2011

God's Gift to Mary

I couldn't have asked for a better lesson in Children's Church yesterday, even though I very much miss the Herndons who were all visiting Megan's parents in NC.  Also, Alexis and family were gone.  :-(

I had Madison, Rebecca, and Macaria.  Debbie, the pastor's wife and basically my mother, came back with me to help with Macaria, who sat in church for the first part of the service before I call the kids back for children's church, and she was very well behaved.  It seems like once you assert that she has to obey you, she obeys quite well.  Still, I was glad for the extra hand from Debbie when we did Children's Church.

We did the lesson on when the angel Gabriel came to tell Mary that she'll be pregnant with the Christ.  The lesson called for the children making these gift boxes out of old Christmas cards.  I successfully did one at home and put in a picture of an embryo with a crown.  During the lessons, we used the figurines of Mary and the angel that the kids painted, and when the angel told Mary she would be pregnant, I showed him giving Mary the box with the royal baby.  This was God's gift to the world, and Mary would have the privilege of carrying him for 9 months.

Then, from squares that a cut from cards at home, we made more gift boxes, except this time, I goofed up the directions and had them tape the wrong tabs.  The box never got to close.  And they put in slips of paper that had the John 3:16 verse on them.  They were to give them to someone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lewis II: Argument by Desire

Here are my thoughts on the second lecture in the C.S. Lewis lectures by Louis Markos.  "In this second lecture, we again consider the biography of C.S. Lewis but from a radically different perspective: that of his inner spiritual journey."

Markos starts with an outline of Surprised by Joy.  "Lewis explains that throughout his childhood, he experienced brief but profound moments of longing."

The word he used to describe these strange yearnings was joy.  

Next in the lecture, Markos comments on different times where Lewis experienced this joy or yearning.  I won't name them, but I'm sitting here trying to remember if I've ever felt that longing.  I'm pretty sure I've traveled somewhere on vacation.  I definitely experienced it when I read the Narnia series, this longing for a bigger, better world.  I experience it when I eat at a fancy restaurant or dine with people who aren't family.  When I hear classical music, like Handel's Messiah or even Christmas music right now, I'll see Christmas lights and decoration and even the churches in our Christmas village, and yearn for something that I can't describe.  I remember the years I sang on Christmas Eve in this old dying Presbyterian church in Mansfield, GA, how the church building would give me this longing.  Old church buildings do that to me.  I hope that when Trinity finally builds their church that it looks like an old church building and not too modern or comfortable.

This feeling of joy leads us to what is perhaps Lewis's most original contribution to the study of apologetics: the argument by desire.
1. The fact that we experience thirst is proof that we are creatures for whom drinking water is natural.  In the same way, the fact that we desire an object that our natural world cannot supply suggests the existence of another, supernatural world.
I would not say that thirst is actually natural because if we had not sinned in the Garden of Eden, we'd always have God before us and never want anything.  But without his physical presence, our thirst will never be quenched until we reach the Living Water.

2. The desire does not guarantee that we will achieve that other world (if stranded in the desert, we will die of thirst), but it does suggest that we are creatures who are capable of achieving it and who were in some sense made to achieve it.
This is where Lewis steps into Pelagian world.  I can't argue that all people desire this joy though not all will achieve it, but the Bible is clear that we are all stranded in a desert with no map, intense desire, and no way to reach that desire.  If God does not reveal himself to us and drag us kicking and screaming out of this desert we will stay and try to find water in other places, but not in the source.  We are certainly not capable in our own volition of achieving what we desire even though God made us for it.

4. Of course, the modernists (especially the Freudians) will tell us that our spiritual longings are merely products of displaced sexual desire, that love is only a sublimination of lust, that heaven is just an illusion, a superstitious with fulfillment.
Which is proof that all people desire heaven, they just don't want God to rule over that heaven or to define for them what is and isn't our ultimate desire.  Which is why the reprobates will always be thirsting and in agony but will never be sorry that they did not surrender to Jesus.

5. But moderns only arrive at this conclusion, argues Lewis, because they accept a priori that the supernatural does not exist, that matter is all there is.
This does kind of affirm my statement that since all people are born separated from God, the will never know specifically about God, therefore, they will not seek him.  However, this contradicts Romans 1 which says all people know God exists because of creation.  This is not a saving knowledge of God.  One can't be saved unless God specifically reveals Jesus to him.  And since people now have special revelation from God about who he is and what he did for us in Jesus, there are those that still reject the truth because they were never God's sheep, like in John 10.  If people knew the true God in his glory, they would be frightened and run away like the demons.  We all know that there is a world beyond this one; God just has to kidnap our hearts before we can even want to love him.

6. Approaching reality from the bottom up, they insist that the higher must always copy the lower; they refuse to consider that the lower might be the copy.
A huge amen to that.  In the atheist's folly, he knows that there is a God, that God's way is so much better and more desirable, but since he stifles any knowledge of God, he must resort to empty, sterile substitutes like sex, money, power, fame, and most of these people are miserable, some commit suicide.  Still, they have no ability to achieve God's world and will never be sorry that they did not surrender to Jesus.

Markos moves on to discuss The Pilgrim's Regress, an allegorical autobiography by Lewis patterned after Pilgrim's Progress

A1. Whereas Christian's journey begins with a clear vision of the gospel of Christ, John's [Lewis's pilgrim} journey begins with a nameless desire, a flash of joy.
With this description, one wonders whether Lewis really came to Christ after all.  Romans 10 makes it clear that people do not come to believe in Christ unless someone preaches them the Gospel, from the Scriptures, specifically about Christ and his cross.  However, I don't want to think of a heaven without Lewis, so I will assume Lewis heard the Gospel of Christ and his cross preached from the Bible somewhere, it planted a seed in him, and then one day, it finally made sense and he experienced the fulfillment of that joyful longing.  He may not be able to explain it, but that's what he experienced whether he realizes it or not.

2. Reared in the repressive, hypocritical town of Puritania, John's only intimation of spiritual truth comes through a mystical glimpse of a distant island.
3. The sight of that island fills him with a "sweetness and a pang," and he abandons home and a family to seek the object of his desire.
Fans of the Puritans, such as myself, might cringe at this parody, but then again, I know so many people raised in legalistic religious situations that grew up to seek life and excitement that they never knew in church because they were so stifled under rules and penances.  Whether the Pentecostal that could never dance, another Pentecostal who learned "electric guitars were of the devil," to Seventh Day Adventists who still have to follow the Jewish rules that Jesus came to destroy, to people who take God's free grace on the cross when Christ took our punishment and say it's too good to be true so now ever little mistake they make, the must overwork themselves in penances and miss out on fully appreciating the blessings God's free love and mercy that was never meant to be earned.

4. Like Dante, however, he soon loses his way and is sidetracked by a number of counterfeit objects that promise to fulfill his desire.
This includes "brown girls" who John uses for sex, to music, to wine -- sex, drugs, and rock and roll -- never finding fulfillment and moving on to the next big thing.  Seriously, I know people who, if they don't abandon their church's constant rules and penances and turn to read what the Bible actually says, they will grow to resent who they think is God, but still seek this joy and turn to other religions and other fulfillments only to remain empty.  I greatly fear for these people because I've seen kids of that same church grow to be completely anti-Christian because they never knew true Christianity in the first place.

C. Throughout his writings, Lewis emphasizes four elements of desire.
1. First, the good and noble things (not the low, evil, petty ones) most often serve as idols, and roadblocks on our journey to true joy.
Backtracking, I must take this moment to remind folks that Lewis used the German word sehnsucht or "longing" as a synonym for joy.
2. Second, and individual can respond to sehnsucht in two wrong ways: to move restlessly (like an ultra-romantic) from one natural object to the next in search of fulfillment or to reject (like an old stoic or a modern cynic) all desire as "moonshine."
Backtracking again to the Pilgrim's Regress notes:
B5. The dryness and rigidity of this cold idolatry Lewis identifies with the northern (Apollonian) regions of his allegory; in the south, desire is no so much frozen and systematized as it is over-indulged and perverted (Dionysian).
So, two extremes:  if men don't surrender to Jesus and accept that their punishment is already over and that he took it, then they will either seek their own salvation by rules and rituals leading to an eventual resentment of what isn't God but what they think is God, or they will throw all values to the wind and indulge in orgies and wine into oblivion.  In either case, they will die and spend eternity in hell because they rejected God's gracious gift of Jesus and thought they could do it better.
3 of desire's elements. Third, when it comes to the fulfillment of our deepest, God-implanted desires, so many of us are willing to settle for a pale shadow of what God offers us.
Which isn't what God offers at all.  God gives to options: follow the rules completely, or accept the gift of Christ dying in our place because you cannot pay the full price.  God gave us the rules to show us how impossible it is to get to heaven on your own merits or that of anyone else.  Only the perfect God-man could pay your price and you must come to God "dressed in Christ's righteousness alone."  Else, you will only settle for a cold shadow of the truth and not the full, complete, glorious reality.
4. Fourth, many fear to receive and accept the very thing they desire.
'Nuff said.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go!

Oh the weather outside is lovely
And the birds sing up abovey
And since there's no chance of snow
Let me go, let me go, let me go!

I want to go do some shopping
'Cause I found some cash for dropping
The prices are way down low
Let me go, let me go, let me go!

It is clear that I'm out the door
Why are you making me sweep the floor?
I don't care about your Facebook game.
You're talking despite the door's been slammed.

The puppy will not stop crying
And my hearing's slowly dying
But my plans aren't done for tomorrow
Let me go, let me go, let me go!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Facts

I first heard the term Black Friday in 2006 when I worked at Nashville's Rainforest Cafe.  The general manager preferred to call it Green Friday.  I prefer that term, too.  I hope it catches on.

I only went shopping on Black Friday in 2003.  A friend dragged me along.  I said never again.

Even if I do go anywhere that Friday, I'm most certainly not getting up at 3 to go shopping.  No way.  I went to the Covington Verizon today and upgraded my phone, and there was no one there.  Now I'm home again.

I must have eaten to much because I can't stop going to the bathroom.  That was my only reason for not sleeping last night.

Will go out eating today.  Hope to lose weight by Christmas and then gain it all back.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.  The only problem is, no body has a list of small businesses for the Atlanta area.

Still tempted to partake in Ligonier's sale, but then again, every Friday is $5 Friday there.  Might as well wait till next week when I get my paycheck. 

I'm planning on going very cheap this year for Christmas presents.  So cheap that I may even just give away stuff from my room.

Off to browse some more blogs now.  I might even put up my laundry.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My thankful list

It's Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone is full and that we all get to normal eating on Monday.  I think David Murray provides a good template for me, so here goes:

1. God.  So thankful that he's Triune.  So thankful that he sent Jesus to take my place so that I could take his place with him still there!  So thankful that Jesus is God.  So thankful God dwells in my through the Holy Spirit.  Especially thankful for the renewed discussions about the Trinity on these blogs.

2. Family.  Dad, Andrew, Pappy, Uncle Delmous, Granny.  I'm thankful for the homes you provide and your leadership and inspiration.  Thankful for Mary moving in to care for Andrew and our house.  Thankful that water can be as thick as blood.

3. Life.  I'm still a live.  Do you know how much driving I do?  Do you know how many times I've ran red lights and been honked at this year?  Not one car has swiped me.  I only had one parking lot mishap.  I also live in dangerous neighborhoods, go to dangerous neighborhoods, and do more walking in downtown Atlanta by my lonesome.  I'm still alive.

4. Lessons.  Reliving the Patriarchs with my kids at church awakened a whole new Christology in the Old Testament that I had not thought of before.  God always planned on giving his life to save his elect.  You can see Christ so clearly in his appearances as the Angel of the Lord.  I also learned this year to not ask a young man if he has a job, to choose my battles, to hold my tongue, how to speak up without offending, how to offend without caring, but caring lest I should lose the person, how to thing on what I do believe instead of criticizing what I disagree with in others' beliefs.

5. Preaching.  I don't do it, and I don't hear it live much, but I do lead children at church and I'm always so thankful that God lives inside the words of Scripture.  I'm also glad that in addition to Piper, MacArthur, and others, I've finally found paedobaptistic talking heads such as RC Sproul, Michael Horton, Carl Trueman, and the folks at URC learning.

6. Seminary.  Erskine Seminary still sticks with the Bible's inerrancy.  I was so happy to see on Reformation 21 that one of the college profs at Erskine had a note signed by three of my favorite professors from the Seminary, Dale Johnson, RJ Gore, and Toney Parks, and another from the college I hadn't heard of.

7. HeadHeartHand Media.  I'm so thankful that I found David Murray's DVDs on the Angel of the Lord.  It fit in perfectly with my Abraham studies and Aubrie just love them.  Her dad, Shannon, even borrowed them and watched all the videos.

8. Blog.  I'm so glad I finally opened up this blog.  It's taking my anger and pressure off of facebook, made me way cooler, and I can put my thoughts into more words than a status will allow.  I found a network of Reformed bloggers, and I feel the love!

9. Church.  I don't understand people who have really good theology, yet they don't go to church.  You can't truly love God and not go to church.  Some people, you'd think they'd go out of sheer boredom.  I do pray that we get more intellectualism in our churches soon so that more men will show up.  Hopefully single men around my age.

10. Friends.  Along with Buffy from Trevecca, who I've talked to more this year (can't spell Buffy without BFF), I made friends with her friend Liza, another PCAer.  We outnumber Buffy who is Nazarene and quite Arminian, though a much better sympathizer to our theology than Buffy's husband Chris who openly debated Liza and me on Facebook.  God also let me see Hannah from Erskine again, her brother Jonathan, who I still like.  He also gave me my dear friend Caitlin my one local friend who is not busy all the time, and other friends at Clayton State like Chinee, Clayton, Adrian.

11. Bloggers.  I don't know where I'd be without Eddie, Gregg, Craig, Persis, Tim Challies, and Ligonier ministries.

12. Teaching CDs.  Another thing I love about Caitlin.  She's as Roman Catholic as I am Reformed Christian.  It's often RC v. RC.  We're always loaning books, CDs, articles to each other.  We can sit and debate each other without getting at each others' throats.  She loaned me these CS Lewis teaching CDs, which I still have and am now reading the lecture notes.  But I listened to them on the way to church every Sunday as my "sermon" and when I finished, Ligonier had sent me a sampler, and finally I ordered more CDs from RC Sproul.  I don't know where I'd be without them and am glad Caitlin started me on that habit.

13. Simon's Cat.  I love cats.  I hate dogs but live with two of them and they love me.  I just get the biggest kick out of Simon's Cat and can watch the same 17 videos all day.  Here's a new one:

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

14. Switchfoot.  I'm blogging about them regularly now, and I'll always love those guys for being on Christian labels yet making real music.  Musicians can get away with so much more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Timber Ridge: Losing Sleep over It

2 Peter 1:16-21, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
 19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

Romans 10:12-17, "for there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'
 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?' 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

Revelation 22:18-19, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life in the holy city, which are described in this book."

Matthew 5:17-20, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

I could go on and on, but I need to get to why I titled this Timber Ridge.  Timber Ridge was a PCUSA church.  About 8 years ago, they broke out and became EPC.  Ever since then, Greater Atlanta Presbytery has been at their throats over their property with lawsuits and appeals that went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.   Last February, our Supreme Court ruled in favor of Timber Ridge.  The whiny PCUSA appealed even that, the highest court in our state.  Finally, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Presbyqueerians and Timber Ridge will lose their property.  This time, the church is tired of fighting.  They have been there in McDonough since 1829, buried their ancestors there, married people there, and people were saved there.  They would rather lose their property and almost 200 years of legacy than stay in an apostate denomination and I applaud them.  

This is my current church's mother church.  We are no longer their plant, but we greatly grieve for them.  And this, my friends, is why we don't throw the Bible out as our ultimate authority in the church.  There are plenty of lovely people who still uphold the Bible's morals, but they threw out the Bible as God's first-hand word.  The PCUSA, or whatever it was before north and south united, made a grave error when they started to follow Karl Barth and Neo-orthodoxy.  

Now, without God's Word ruling the church as the inerrant standard by which we live, there is no reason why we should not allow openly gay people to preach in our pulpits.  

Without the WOG, why can't we abort our children?  We'll just invent this age of accountability and assume they're in heaven living better lives anyway, forgetting that even unborn children are born separated from God and in their free will they will reject God unless he intervenes.

Without the WOG, who needs Christ?  We are all basically good people who will all die someday in our sins.  We try to atone for all our wrongs, but we reject the idea that our perfect God gave his life for us because he knew we could not pay our price for our sin, which is eternal damnation.

And without the WOG, why do we even need to care for the poor, the disabled, the elderly, build homes for poor people, feed the hungry, fight against genocide, and yes, minister to post-abortion folks and the openly gay people in hopes that they will turn from their empty lives and surrender to Christ?

If it was not for the WOG, I would be stuck in my old sins with no hope beyond this wrold.  And with it, lives are changed, and back to Romans 10, unrepentant sinners can awaken to God's truth, believe in Christ, and be saved.  God has provided no other standard.  He's provided accountability, such as the Holy Spirit and our Church family, but both of those testify to the divinity of the Scriptures, the Words that created the universe and the only ones that can raise a dead sinner from the dead.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Right Preaching of the Word

I didn't listen to this lesson until an hour and a half ago.  It was so timely.  So timely, that I went down, decorated the tree and came back.  But it's more Adam Kaloostian on URC  He wraps up the right preaching of the word by talking about the right preaching of the word.

1. What are the links in the golden evangelistic chain of Romans 10:12-17?  I love this passage.  Along with Hebrews 10, Romans 10 is starting to be my answer to everything.  First, people need to be saved.  How are they saved?  They believe in Jesus.  How do they believe in Jesus?  They hear Christ's voice.  How do they hear Christ's voice?  A preacher.  Where do they get a preacher?  He has to be sent.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of Christ.

2. What are some other passages that tell us preaching is a special, Spirit-filled means of grace?  1 Timothy 4:16 -- Paul tells Timothy that preaching ensures salvation for himself and for those who hear him.  1 Peter 1:10, Peter starts with Old Testament prophets who would preach Christ.  Moving to verse 12, he talks about preachers who now know the complete Gospel.  Grace and salvation comes because preachers preach the Gospel through the Holy Spirit.

3. For this question, Adam had a quotation from Henrich Bullinger which I won't quote in full.  The first line says, "The preaching of the word of God is the word of God."  Big Amen.  Hearing comes from the Words of Christ which are our Bible.  If we don't preach from the Bible on Sunday, we are failing at our job.  So, here is Adam's question:
What are some ways in which or places where people today may be tempted to expect God or to speak aside from the God-ordained means of grace?
Self-proclaimed pastors/bishops/apostles who are untrained or self-taught, unexamined by elders to see if God really called them, and some of them even get famous.  When Jesus was with his disciples, he trained them for three years.  This is why our seminaries take three years.  This is why you need to be educated and know what the Bible actually says and know church history and God's covenant plan so that you suddenly don't start preaching dispensationalism which somehow gives Jews a different ending than us, forgetting that we were grafted into Israel.
Not only is there false teacing, people talk about their opinions, how to live your life, adding to the WOG.
The only way to know what Christ is saying is in the Bible.  So many people go about thinking they need what Christ doesn't provide.  If we needed it, Christ would provide it, and he has given us everything we need in his Scriptures and in his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead.  You need his Law, what Scripture demands, his Gospel, and the Holy Spirit's leading.  Don't let some tyrant preacher lead your life and tell you what to do in a system of legalism.  Get both the Law and the Gospel from Scripture, checking what the preacher says.  Don't accept any "truths" not revealed in the WOG.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas has started

While the Holidays started shortly before Halloween, I've finally started Christmas.  Last Wednesday with the kids, we painted the set to our play.  And then we practiced, then painted a nativity set.  Sunday we used the nativity set for a Christmas skit that was in my lessons.  We just sat and read it readers' theater.  When we needed an angel or a shepherd, we'd put them in the center of the table and sang some songs.  It was really nice. 

The Herndons were with their maternal grandparents.  I've been so used to seeing them every week.  There's always such a void without them.  I think when I'm done listening to the first RC Sproul disc that I got in the mail, I may loan it to Aubrie for personal Sunday School.  They're about Christmas and they are quite heart-warming.  RC has such a good radio voice.  It sounds like the narrator on A Christmas Story.  Just warm, joyful, a voice that feels like family.  And his Christmas messages are such a way that you feel like you're already at a Christmas Eve service.

I sang a song yesterday.  The "Covenant Song" by Caedmon's Call.  I thought it was a good culmination to our semester with the Patriarchs.  Got many compliments.  I was real proud of Madison because she was really good with the 6-year-old who is really willful.  She was such a help.

Now, I get ready for Thanksgiving and the end of my semester at Clayton.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Listening to Records: Beautiful Letdown

Disc 4 from Switchfoot.  This is the record that really switched them over to secular radio. 

I remember hearing "Meant to Live" on secular radio, on TV, on anti-drug PSAs, and they actually sold out on this record.  It's like, they weren't the two brothers and drummer, they now had Jerome Fontamillas on bass adding electricity and more heavier rock sounds, and while this album is still full of obvious Gospel references, this was when they started compromising with the world and stopped taking showers.

Even the Fish is cool enough to play this song.

I love this song.  It has a superb beat, you can dance to it, and it's true, we want to be more than fine.

Here's a classic Switchfoot song.  "We've been blowing up, we're the issue."  It's like a mix of old and new Switchfoot.

Here it is again.  I Dare You to Move.  It was on Learning to Breathe, it was on Walk to Remember, and now it gets an encore on this album but with a more grungier feel.

I wish Switchfoot could be this blatantly Christian today.  "I've got my hand in redemption's side."  This would be the album where they would lure people in with "Meant to Live" and then they'd hear this song and think of going to church.  But the problem is, they never mention Jesus by name and unless God awakens you, we Christians have to be specific about our message.  Of course, these guys were making music, not necessarily preaching, which is way more authentic than most Christian radio can boast. 

I used to skip this song when I played this album.  The title track that I used to think was slow and dragged on.  Today, I think I understand it.  Unless you rely on the Lord for your life and happiness, you're going to be beautifully let down by your friends, even the good ones, and the famous preachers and everybody because we all sin. 

This song makes me happy.  So many pop culture references and they even refer to their first album with "Life is still more than girls."

Another Christian song that is obviously Christian to me, but since they don't necessarily mention Jesus could easily be a love song.  But I know these guys are straight and they are referring to a "He."  This is so obviously about the Holy Spirit, and I love this song.

"If we're adding to the noise, turn off this song."  This reminds me of the song by 2nd Chapter of Acts called "Room Noise" but way rockier.  I did turn of Switchfoot for a good long time because they were so weak about the relationship to the Lord.  But now, they're the only band I can relate to because they truly rock, they have honest lyrics, and they don't have any songs that the label made them play because they needed something grandma could listen to.

The best song on the album.  Very obviously Christian and probably the last truly obviously Christian song they did.  I wish Jon would get back into that, although from experience, I do know that it is hard to just crank out songs at will.  You have to feel it.  And even if you can crank out lyrics, I'm fresh out of tunes.  And I'm done for tonight.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It May Be Midnight, But It's Still Friday! Here are the Facts

As much as I appreciate Ray Comfort's show with Tony Miano, On the Box, and all the helpful evangelism tips I have picked up, Ray has got to start realizing that not everyone is called to evangelize in the same way.  I'm glad all these guys can wander Hollywood and just walk up to people and wheedle them into thinking of Jesus.  I'm glad that they admit that only the Holy Spirit can save them and that we should never give them the Sinner's Prayer or tell them to let Jesus into their hearts.  They really do present bad news so that the good news can be so much better.  But I personally am not called to that kind of tactic.

I must admit that I have been more bold lately.  I feel like I'm more gentle with the girls at Refuge, as if they were children almost. 

Even at the law office I can talk about what I do at church and even at Refuge, though I haven't got to the point where I can openly talk theology.  I don't know if I ever will there.  For now I just seek work experience and hope to be paid someday.

Should I be hesitant about meeting cute guys on the elevator in downtown Atlanta who ride down to the street level floor with me from the 19th floor?  I don't know him at all and he could well be a smoker, a pervert, a sleaze bag, or a grease monkey.  But he was cute and we did strike up a small chat about it being the weekend and how he still has more work but that I was free to go.  Oh well, we'll see.

I'm going to a birthday party for one of my Trinity kids!  Yay!  I can't wait.  We will celebrate her turning 9 on the first Sunday of Advent, but tomorrow as we'll probably not see her through Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quiz Me

Sung to the tune of "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer

Quiz me, out of the bearded barley
Nightly beside the laptop screen
Bring, bring, bring your Spanish book
I'll bring my cards and you'll bring your Nook

Oh, oh, quiz me outside the campus Starbucks
Help me inside the freezing library
Open up your book, take in a look and make the dust moths dance
Cell phone sparkling.  So quiz me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why I believe

Recently, I listened to this series on Richard Dawkins by Sinners and Saints Radio.  It starts here.  In the first episode, they mention how in some places, Dawkins is right.  Christians often do contribute to unbelief of non-believers because so many of them live as they don't believe in God anyway.  They go to church and believe without really knowing why they believe and then go off and live like the rest of the world.  Now, folks like that can be found in Georgia, the Bible Belt, and often they aren't Christians, it's just that churches don't really preach the true Gospel anymore.  So, it challenged me to try to remember why I believe in Jesus as my only Savior.

I don't really remember my conversion as I was raised in the faith.  All I know is when I was age 3, I had a baby sister that died, and for the longest time I was very depressed and afraid of death.  I was either 6 or 7 when we were watching some movie about David at church, mom mentioned something about heaven, and I was surprised that it was real!  Heaven and God are both real, so I won't be dead forever, and I'll be alive again with God.  So I believed.

I was 11.  5th grade and had just ended, 6th grade had just started, and Dad had gone to a Promise Keeper's conference.  Dad came home with Christian music, which was great because I was listening to the radio a lot and always thought that rock music sounded good but all of it was nasty and anti-Christian.  I was so happy for there to finally be Christian rock music.  I listened to folks like Jars of Clay, DC Talk, PFR, and my faith grew that summer.  Then, in 6th grade, at church, Martha Russell headed up a confirmation class for 6th graders, and we read through the Gospel of John.  We had a lock-in one night where we read the whole book, and when I got home, I kept re-reading it and started realizing that God was speaking through it.  So that further confirmed that God was real and it was that year I dedicated my whole life to Christ.  I don't remember what day it was, but I know it was that year.

8th grade, I had a best friend.  I finally had a friend who listened to Christian music and who took my side when we discussed at lunch how we know God exists, why is homosexuality wrong, why Ouija boards are wrong, etc.  For the latter two, I had to get out the Bible to show them, but then they still didn't believe, and even questioned how we know God exists.  Jennifer is the only one who took my side.

Somehow, between 8th and 9th grade, Jennifer made a friend with an atheist new ager named Katie.  Also, she joined the marching band and ended up hanging out with only them and not inviting me to stuff.  Lots of bad music was around then, like Marilyn Manson, Korn, Limp Bizkit, etc.  Pretty soon, I heard Jennifer discussing Papa Roach.  I said I don't like them.  She said, "if you don't like them, don't listen to them."  That was the moment I realized she wasn't really a Christian anymore.  I tried to stay friends with her, but then she went of to see Dinosaur and didn't invite me, and then I tried to invite her to something but she wouldn't reply and then had some lame excuse.  That was when I officially decided she wasn't my friend.  This really shook me.  I had always been a loner, and when I finally found a friend, I lost her.  Ultimately, it was because I was obsessed and God knew she was replacing him, and even know I don't think I could be the friend with her that I once was, but we have reconciled. 

College started.  I went to Trevecca Nazarene University because it had a music school, and it was Christian.  The first two years, it definitely was.  Now I look back and realize, even then it wasn't really a Christian school.  But that's neither here nor there.  I was looking forward to starting over and making new friends.  I had a roommate named Sarah.  We hung out everywhere together.  I finally found a best friend.  Then, in less than 3 months, she dropped the bomb and decided we hang out too much and that she should find another roommate.  I was devastated.  It was so depressed that even my new roommate eventually moved on because I still wanted to hang with Sarah. 

Also, Trevecca was a strict school.  I absolutely agree with separate dorms for genders.  I even agree about no purpling in the dorms.  Curfews are very necessary.  But because of that, there was a lot of passion at Trevecca.  Not only was there heterosexual passion, there was gay passion under the surface of that.  Somehow, I did not come out of that unscathed.  I still suffer same sex attraction, though I never gave into it and will never come out because I love God more.  But I am both perverted in mind and utterly adulterous even though I'm a virgin.  But honestly, I think everyone in my generation is because of the sex media that's rammed down our throats.

2006 was the best year of my life.  I finally got the hang of not being obsessed with my friends and finally made friends that I still talk to.  One of them if Buffy.  I talked to her last week and was supposed to this week but was so busy I forgot.  I also had a friend named Hunter and started going to church with him, immediately helping with the youth group.  It was the summer of 2006 when I got the call to go into youth ministry and signed up for seminary at Erskine, an ARP school in South Carolina.  It was after that calling I got my first boyfriend, Chris.  We made out for three months.  He was goth, he listened to Marilyn Manson, and NIN, and all kinds of terrible music and even got me listening to it.  I came so close to losing my virginity that at this point, the only reason I'm still a virgin is because I never took off my clothes and had sex.  God really watched out for me, and I was resolved to stick with him.  Also, my relationship with my mom had deteriorated whereas before, she was always my best friend.  I finally broke up with Chris when I came back from Christmas break and finished up the year with the kids' group at the Nazarene church awaiting my entrance back into the Presbyterian world.

I must go on now, but I will continue this.  Suffice it to say, the only thing that kept my faith alive during those years was my confidence that God is the ultimate sovereign, very real, and that is words in the Bible are the only authority and all else must measure up to them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reformed Theology: the P Word

In the last two weeks we saw the sorrow of total depravity and the joy of the Christ's penal substitutionary atonement.  This week, we will see the glue between those two concepts: Predestination.  Again, this is from the series by Adam Kaloostian at 

1. Fill in the acronym TULIP, and notes some of the significant Bible passages that teach these truths.
Total Depravity: Ephesians 2:1, you were dead in your sin and by nature a child of wrath.  Genesis 6:6, their thoughts were only evil all the time.  Romans 8:6, the mind of the sinful man is death.
Unconditional Election: It has nothing to do with our worthiness.  Acts 13:48, and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.  Ephesians 1:11-12, in love he predestined you.
Limited Atonement.  This is the last one that I accepted.  I had so much trouble with this petal and still do, but ultimately, it is true and this is why I find so much security in Reformed faith.  But let's break this one down:

a. Christ sacrificed is life on the cross to take the punishment of his chosen.
b. Because Christ died for them, those saved by his death on the cross will never have to be punished in hell.
c. If Christ died for everyone, then there would be no one in hell.
d. We know from the Bible that people are going to go to hell.
e. It would not make sense to send someone to hell if Christ already paid their price.
f. Ergo, Christ did not die for everyone.  Only his elect will have their sins atoned.

John 10:24, you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  1 John 2:12, I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiving [note, he didn't say they need to make a decision or will lose salvation.  Their sins are forgiven now.]  Ephesians 2:8, for it is by grace you are saved, from faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God.

Irresistible grace -- if God chooses to save you, he will make your dead heart alive.  Ezekiel 36:25, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  Acts 9 -- Paul could no longer resist Jesus and keep persecuting the church.  Christ has blinded him, and now Paul surrendered completely.
Perseverance of the saints, my favorite -- He will preserve them by his grace by means of grace in the church.  John 6:35, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."  John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  John 6:44, no one comes to me unless the Father draws him.

2. Does this teaching turn people into robots, or entice those who think they are elect to sin all the more, or thwart our EV zeal?
We are not robots.  We have responsibility.  There is a mystery and paradox: all our days are ordained, yet we still make decisions.  I don't feel like I was dragged into my faith against my will.  I was nurtured and fall more in love all the time.
No to the second question.  If a person truly believes, their response will be thankful, humble obedience.
Yes to Evangelism, and no, the P word does not thwart it.  God uses that to reach elect.  We must always beg God to have mercy on those we love.  I secretly believe that God will save people based on if we loved them, although it is only by Christ's mercy either way.  We probably would not love them had God not loved them.

On last common objection: what if I praise God all my life and get to heaven but can't come in because I'm not elect?  Answer: it will never happen.  The reason you love Christ now is because God has elected you.  Those in hell will be in ultimate agony, but they will never be ashamed that they did not accept Christ as Lord.  They will never regret it and always wallow in their self-worship despite their endless pain.
But those Christ saved will come to heaven and can be secure in their salvation now. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful Time

I'm thankful for the new internship.  I won't get paid but I will get some good experience. 

I'm thankful for my church job.  I have such wonderful kids.

Although I missed the teen who was sick, I was thankful to be in adult Sunday School.  They started the Gospel of John, which is great.  That's what I'm going to teach the teen in January if not right before Christmas.

I was thankful that 20-year-old Meredith was back.  She helped tend to the 5-year-old diva while I taught children's church. 

I'm thankful that I remembered my cat-for-kittens color pages for the 5-year-old. 

I'm thankful for the understanding parents and old people in my church.  We have some really cool people in our small church.

I'm thankful that I'm saved by faith alone, through grace alone, from Christ alone.  Also thankful that if anything conflicts with the Bible, I go with the Bible.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

You sure you're Arminian?

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend gave me this series of lecture DVDs on C. S. Lewis.  They are by Louis Markos from Houston Baptist University.  Twelve lectures on 6 discs that are all a good, fair representation of Lewis.  Even in the book synoptics, it's like you don't even have to read the books, you can listen to Markos's take.

The first lecture is a mini-biography and introduction to Lewis.  Lewis fascinates me.  He is by far, my favorite Christian author.  I always jokingly call the Narnia books my second Bible.  He has brilliant apologetics and allegories, and I can't wait to meet him someday.  On the flip side, there is no one I disagree with more.  The more I learn about him, the more I realize I like his Narnia books better than I like him.  He was certainly not a Calvinist.  He was not always clear on belief in Sola Scriptura.  He also believed in Purgatory.  In fact, I can even see how his writings would influence Rob Bell though he was certainly not a universalist.  But he was still and amazing man, a prolific author, and again, I can't wait to meet him someday.  In fact, I've even seen his works on

Thankfully, Markos provided at transcript of his lectures, so I'll look at some of the points he makes and comment on them.

In the midst of a post-Christian age, Lewis dared to advocate a genial return return to orthodox Christian doctrine.
 I don't know if I would say that, but he was certainly no Karl Barth.  Barth did not believe that the Bible was the Word of God, at least not first-hand, and it led to a disastrous chain of events that led to Bultmann, Tillich, and again Rob Bell.  The Neo-Orthodox guys reacted to modernism and went so post-modern that even good ideas became bad ideas, just like it's reincarnation in the Emergent "Church."  Lewis was no Emergent.  He believed the essential doctrines of Christianity with a child-like faith coupled with brilliant reasoning.

2. He also rebelled against the Enlightenment, Darwinism, and Freudianism, which were all really cool in his day.  In fact, they still are stronger than ever in Obama's America.  The world throws out Christian faith, belief in the Biblical creation, and links everything to sex or sexual desire, and Lewis was almost prophetic in where this would all lead, do a sterile new world order that would make Christmas a crime but promote dark, monotonous, empty perversions like homosexuality.  This world will mock you for believing in 6 literal days of creation and dinosaurs who lived till the Middle ages, but will then promote atheist mythology that reduces humans to mere animals with no purpose and no hope beyond this world, leading to genocide and abortion.

4 & 6. Lewis was a true ecumenist.  He stuck to core doctrines like the Trinity, the virgin birth, the miracles, and a literal heaven and hell.  But he never argued about Baptism, Communion, purgatory, end times, and soteriology.  Markos calls the later, peripheral issues.  I beg to differ.  It makes a huge difference whether you believe in purgatory or whether you believe that Christ paid the full price for your sin for all time.  It makes a difference whether Christ died to make heaven possible or whether his death actually accomplished what he meant to do and saved specific people. Will there be people in hell even though Christ already paid their atonement?  No there won't be.  Although, I would agree that the former list is non-negotiable for being a Christian.  The latter is list is for healthy Christianity that will brings certainty and identity in God.

C. Lewis really did make it cool for adults to read fantasy.  Before that, it was childish to read about legends and magic.  Without Lewis, Comic Cons would not be possible. 

This is all I will comment on for now, but there's fodder for even better arguments, especially ones that reveal that Lewis is not as Arminian as he would say he is.  He will normally start with arguments that are clearly unbiblical but then conclude with stuff that is very Reformed and legit theology.  You will see more of that in "the Problem of Pain."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday Facts: Saturday edition

Gregg and Persis do this on Monday.  Yesterday certainly felt like a Monday and it was Friday.

That's because I started an internship with a law firm.  I'm very excited about it.  It will require a lot of traveling and finding new places around Atlanta, but it's the end of my free time or at least going to bed early.

Which is fine because I can't stay asleep the whole night anyway.

I seriously need to clean today.  I'm not going to.

I will hang out with friends tonight for a Christmas card decorating party.
Ironically, I prefer to type out Christmas newsletters and send them all over the country.  I might make Thank you cards instead for the two lawyers who are going to let me intern for them.

I really want to get a game night together but I'm terrible at planning.  None of my friends can do anything or it's just bad timing.  It doesn't matter how far in advance I plan it.  I might have to just get together with Mandie and say "you and me are just going to play Scrabble one night, okay?"  You know I might just do that once I'm done with this post.

Alright, bye.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fruit Basket Turnover

Tonight started our Wednesday night play practice for Christmas programming.  Turns out our Herndons will spend time with their maternal grandparents on two of the Sundays we had scheduled.  So, we make lemonade and practice our music and only one of the Christmas skits, which, btw, both are really good.  One is for Advent, and a Jewish family in BC Israel awaits the Messiah by recalling God's promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David.  The other one is Christmas day when the same family happens to be the innkeeper family.  They let Mary and Joseph stay in their stable, then realize the Messiah has been born and go out to see him.  I liked that twist to the Christmas story.  We're only doing the latter skit in December sometime and singing some Thanksgiving songs either before or after Thanksgiving.

This Sunday the plan is to speed the teen through Joseph's rise to Vice Pharaoh, the brothers coming for food and Joseph telling them they want to see Benjamin up until they bring Benjamin to Egypt.  For the kids, we will go through Benjamin's story, too.  I will have cups filled with something, one with Joseph's silver cup.  I don't know what yet.  I'm also going to do a Good news/ Bad news thing as I speed through 4 chapters.  I will end with Joseph's death and his saying that God planned all the bad things for his Glory and our salvation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reformation: Justification

More on the Reformation series by Adam Kaloostian.  Last week I wrote about sin, then listened to justification.  This week, I write about justification and I'll listen to whatever's next on the docket.

1. Did the terms of the covenant of works change after mankind fell in Adam?
A big fat NO.  To e blessed by God, we still have to be perfectly obedient.  2 problems arise: We can't do the works.  We all sinned in Adam and are born automatically separated from God.
Also, we can never bay off our debt for our failed works.  This is why God gave us a solution: he sent Christ.

2. What are the "active" and "passive" aspects of Christ's justifying works?
Christ passively obeyed by receiving our punishment on the cross.  He actively obeyed by doing all the good things that God requires.  He earned God's favor and we get credit for it, while we earned his wrath and He got credit for that.

3. What does "propitiation" mean?
We receive the blood he shed on our behalf.  Jesus satisfied the anger of God against our sin.  We had blood tainted with Adam's sin.  We now need clean blood to approach a holy God, and Jesus gives us this blood.

4. How is Adam a type of Jesus Christ who came?  On what basis will God reward anyone with eternal peace and happiness?

As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive.  All are condemned by one man.  Not all will receive justification, but only those who receive God's gift.  Without true faith there is no justification.  But all people who are saved are saved by one man.

5. What are the 3 "parts" of true faith?  What is the "gospel promise"?
Knowledge -- aware of facts, know that God is true
Assent -- believe that the facts are true
Trust -- Christ died for my sins perfectly and my obedience worked out in his life.  Only those who believe have that atonement.

How do I know that I have it?  1 John 1:8 -- If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  We know we have truth because we are convicted of our sin.
Verse 9 -- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
John 6:37--One who comes to me I will certainly not cast you out.

6. What role do our good works play in our justification?
No role.  We cannot be justified by our works.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Church re-cap

Church is really exciting now that we have kids all the time.  Also, Christmas is coming and that makes me happy.  I think I got my personnel differences worked out for now, but I also need prayer that people don't put worms in my ear, but that God will lead to what is right.

In teen Sunday School, we're going to speed through the Joseph story.  Yesterday we did Genesis 37, skipped 38, then did 39-40.  I did assign 38 for homework because, honestly, you can't graduate church and not know about Judah, Christ's ancestor and creation.

For warm-up, we talked about things that spoil relationships from A to Z.  Of course F stands for favoritism, which Jacob did to Joseph, forgetting that Isaac did the same thing to Esau and it also ruined that family.  Also, since Joseph kept getting into jail unfairly, I asked a series of unfair questions:
1. How do you put a giraffe in your fridge?  Easy, you open the door, put the giraffe in, and shut it.
2.  How do you put an elephant in your fridge?  Easy, open the door, take the giraffe out, put the elephant in, and shut the door.
3.  The Lion King called a meeting of all the animal kingdom.  One animal isn't there.  Which is it?  Duh, the elephant.  He's still in your fridge.
4.  The crocodiles own a river with no bridge and no boat.  You want to cross.  How do you do it?  Easy, just get in and swim because the crocs are still at the animal meeting.

Between Sunday School and church, I taped cardboard tubes to the wall.  Then in Children's Church, I quizzed them on what we talked about all fall.  If they got an answer right, they taped a leaf to the tubes, which were palm tree trunks.  Then, we did the story of Joseph rising to Pharaoh's number 2.  I'd ask a question, they'd read a paragraph of Genesis 40, then tape a picture on some steps until Joe got to Prime Minister. (I love having British curriculum.)

Macaria was back.  She somehow found my camera and started taking pictures.  I'll post them later.  I need to remember to bring my Cat for Kittens next week and keep it there, lest she come.

Communion went better this week.  Shannon the man called us into church and we partook.  Macaria sat next to me.  Normally she's seeking attention, but she was very respectful.  I emphasized that Jesus us really with us during communion and we need to be respectful.  She did better than the older kids.  May Jesus's blood revolutionize them this week.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Listening to Records: Learning to Breathe

This is the last Switchfoot album with just Jon, Tim, and Chad.  It's also probably the last time they took baths, as they lost the clean cut look after this.  This is certainly their only overtly Christian album.

Here is the song from "Learning to Breathe."  They revamped it for the next album.  This is the song.  This is the song that ended up on Walk to Remember and launched Switchfoot into secular music.  The Learning to Breathe version is cleaner, much like the boys were. 

Amazing song.  It's like these guys are still cooped up in child-world, where they live with parents and are done with college but are still trying to get jobs and live independently.  It's where I am at this point, and I am certainly learning to adjust to not being free after the college independence.  I'm learning to breathe.  More importantly, I'm learning to rely on the Lord for everything as my obsessions and worries get in my way.

Very Christian song.  A good music video where they are flying planes.  They say they are musicians and we shouldn't try it at home.  Darn. 

Either way, they live for heaven now.  God is so present to them that they are already in heaven.  It's true.  Jesus Christ is heaven and we don't need to pine for it now.  I hope they still believe that these days.

This song is amazing.  Years later, I saw so many people wearing t-shirts with "Love is the Movement" on them.  I had no idea that was referring to the Switchfoot song as the song didn't get on Walk to Remember, but it does.  I just learned tonight that it's a theme song for "To Write Love on Her Arms" that organization that works to stop teen suicide and cutting.

Tune for the poparazzi.  Last really cute Switchfoot song with references to pop culture.  Another in the theme of riches don't get you everything.  In fact, you'll be more depressed with fame and fortune.  You'll get no private moment and will have to mold to the world's expectations.  Sadly, this is exactly what happened to Switchfoot in the next years.

Innocence Again.  The effects of God's grace on someone's life.  We've ruined our lives but through Jesus's blood, God restored us to a time when we were still innocent.

Playing for Keeps.  A lovely forgettable song, therefore, I'm not linking to it.

Only the losers win.  Very catchy version of Jesus's warnings: if you gain you're life you'll lose it; if you lose you're life you'll gain it.

The Economy of Mercy.  They seriously need to sing this song again.  It's their most Christian song.  In fact, it's almost reformed.  You should listen to this twice.

Erosion, er, I mean, "eroosion," as it is pronounced in Jon's Kermit voice.  This is one of the many songs where I make fun of their pronunciations.

Living is Simple.  Very happy song with a good ending, and another you should listen to over and over.  It's the best song on the album.  Living is at least meant to be simple.  They don't seem so simple on later albums, but right now, it's just as it should be.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Facts!

Cleaning my house this week, I found the rest of my hamper!  Yay!  I don't have buy a new one.  I didn't have to buy a new one to find the old one.  I just needed to clean.

Maybe I'll find Christmas presents this way.  Find old stuff, wrap them up, and give them to people.  It's not like they'll get anything unless I mooch off  my dad even more. 

I got my old bed up here, too!  Yay!  Now I can invite friends over for sleepovers!  I'll still sleep on the daybed that I've slept since April of 2010, but I can put bed sheets on my old bed and will simply look nice. 

Sadly, now that my hamper is up, I think my bed is going to be doubling as a hamper as well.

Going to a Wycliff Bible translators banquet tomorrow night.  I would love to be a part of that.

Got an internship interview on Tuesday, but I'm still hesitant about giving up my freedom.  I'm especially hesitant about it conflicting with my volunteering at Refuge.  Alas, I'll have to give something up, though, and this is what I've been clamoring for all fall.  I need an internship, experience, and possibly insurance, so again, I don't have to keep mooching off of dad.

I'm stealing this from Persis.  It's just too adorable.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

If we only had a rep

(to "If I Only Had a Brain.")

While Georgia voted red
We're stuck with him instead
Congressman Hank Johnson
We originally had John Linder
But our state got gerrymandered
If we only had a rep

He spoke for my dad's Rotary
He's so dumb that it's scary
His own party had to apologize
He thinks weight will seek an island
State healthcare we should stop fighting
If we only had a rep

I wish that I could move
Out of the three
Blue districts left
But in ministry and college
I can't move out.
I must adjust.

We still get to trust in God
Congress approved the motto
Only nine folks object.
No surprise on the roster
Hank opposed it like a rock star.
If I only had a rep.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pharaoh Pharaoh

Another weird day where I did an hour of driving and didn't leave my town.  Part of that driving included turning around to get my cell phone.  It was right next to my brain, charging. 

I'm really excited about our new era at Trinity where we have Herndons every week for at least a year.  We'll get so much done.

For the kids' lesson, we'll have palm trunks, a quiz game, and a leave on each palm trunk for each correct answer.  Then we'll read a bit of Genesis 41, answer a question, and put a picture for that answer on some steps.  I've decided that the glue is banned for now.  The kids will have to just pass around the tape.  Then we'll have communion, in the sanctuary because it's communion Sunday, and this time stay there because I miss singing the hymns. 

For the teen, we'll speed through Genesis 37 to 40, and I'll give her chapter 38 for homework.  I want more people to know about Judah.  Despite his seedy story, he still is Christ's ancestor, and people need to notice how he rises to the forefront.  His story is more impressive than Joseph.  But it's still fun how Joseph starts out as Jacob's favorite, brags about his dreams, and I do agree that he was a spoiled brat.  Mom thought he was perfect, but I agree to the spoiled brat theory. 

It took unfair incarceration, being framed by Mrs. Potiphar, and more jail time, to make him the godly man that we remember.  Joseph had to get away from Jacob to see God while Judah got to know God through his grace alone.  It took impregnating Tamar, accusing her of whoredom, and then her accusing him back, for him to finally take responsibility for his actions, eventually offer his life for Benjamin, and become the true eldest son of Jacob, the one man God chose for Christ's lineage.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reformed Faith 3

Part 3 of Adam Kaloostian's series.  This is about preaching the Word: the first of the three signs of the true church.  He focuses on Total Depravity for now.

1. Why is it important that preaching should be clear about sin?
"You can't understand the Gospel unless you understand sin.  People are bad, very bad.  And we have to answer to God. You have cancer.  The doctor needs to offend you to give you a cure.  Without knowing sin, we won't take the proper course to treat it."
Those are all Adam's points.  My interpretation, we need to know about sin because we need to know why we need a Savior.  In fact, we need to know how serious is this sin, that even one sends you to hell forever.  We will never stand trial before a God who is a consuming fire with our flammable sin.  This is also why it is so important that we believe Genesis literally.  We need to believe that millions of years of death did NOT occur before man sinned, that death is the result of sin, and that as we all have Adam's DNA, we all have to die because sin is in our blood.

2. What is the covenant of works?  What is our spiritual relationship to our first father Adam?
God gave Adam the covenant of works: obey perfectly in thoughts, words, and actions and you will live with God's blessing.  Adam did not keep that covenant, therefore we are all separated from God.
Romans 5:12 shows that when Adam sinned, death entered into the world through that sin, cursing the ground and his children.  It spreads to all men because all sin. 
Paul also says that until there was the Law, sin was in the world.  The Law did not come until Moses, so sin was not imputed to the people because they had not heard the Law, yet they still died from Adam to Moses. 
Why was there death between those times?  We are dying because we are punished for Adam's first sin.  It is credited to us as if we had done it.  We all sinned in Adam and we all belong to the fallen, sinful race from birth.
My answer: since Adam and Eve had no children until after the fall, we were all born separated from God.  If they had children before the fall, then some would have been perfect, but since all of us are after the fall, we all are born in separation and in death.

3. What does it mean to be totally depraved?
Romans 3:9 shows how we are already charged with our crimes.  All are under sin.  No one is righteous, not one.  None seek for God.  If there are religious seekers then either the Holy Spirit is hunting them down, or they are seeking idols: the benefits of religion without the actual religion.  In our "free will" we can only sin.  Everyone and every action is only inclined to seen.  Even if we could come to our Holy God, the consuming fire, with our flammable sin, we would not want to in our own "free will."

4.  How do you come to know that you are totally depraved?
You come to that knowledge by hearing the Law, as shown in Romans 3:19.  It speaks to those under the law.  Through the law comes knowledge of sin, making us wonder if we've ever obeyed any commandment.  Have you obeyed a commandment?  Since you've broken at least one and followed none of them whole-heartedly, you realized that you are a sinner and woefully lost from God.  The Jews would always try to obey from the moment they knew until they died, but even then, penance does not erase your past sins.  You are still condemned.  A code of commandments that was supposed to produce life became our deaths because we've broken all of it.

5. What is God's fair punishment against sinners?
Death.  Eternal condemnation.  People are born into sad situations and conditions.  It is sad, but that's the way it is.

That's all for now.  We'll get to the solution next week.