Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mr. Copper

One of my favorite Doctor Who moments is in the episode with David Tennant where aliens made a replica of the Titanic in space.  It was a Christmas episode where viewers became afraid that angels would throw their halos at them and slice them.

In this episode is an "earthologist" named Mr. Copper.  He knows all kinds of facts about planet Earth, or thinks he does, and tells all the people.

"I shall be taking you to Old London town in the country of UK, ruled over by Good King Wenceslas. Now human beings worship the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws and his wife Mary. And every Christmas Eve, the people of UK go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the Turkey people for Christmas dinner, like savages!"

This famed earthologist got many things wrong when describing the UK and Christmas.  I always think of Mr. Copper when a well-meaning person writes information that exposes how much they don't really know about a subject.

I peruse a volume of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is written by many people.  Some are accurate when they describe philosophies.  When they bring up Christian topics, however, they seem lost like Mr. Copper.

In the article "American Philosophy" they say this about the Puritans:
"The Puritans agreed with many of the principles of Calvinism.  They believed that God is absolutely sovereign and that man, beset with original sin, is totally dependent upon him.  Salvation cannot be earned by virtuous works; God has foreordained who shall be elected to the "Society of Saints," although presumably the performance of good works predisposes man's soul to receive God's grace."

Up until the italicized part, I mostly agree.  Yes, the Puritans were Calvinists.  Yes, we Calvinists believe that man is completely dependent on God and contributes nothing to his salvation.  Yes, we believe God foreordained the elect.

What is this "Society of Saints"?  In seminary and in all my reading of the Gospel Coalition, Ligonier, and other blogs, that term is nowhere.  We do not have anything we call a Society of Saints.  I can see where they get the idea because we do believe in the communion of the saints that can never change throughout history.  But no, there is no Society of Saints.

"Good works predispose man's soul to receive God's grace."  No they don't.  We just established that nothing predisposes a soul to receive God's grace.  God gives people grace because he wants to based on no condition.  Romans 9 is explicit in this when Paul talks of Isaac and Ishmael and then Jacob and Esau.  God chose Jacob to have his special blessing when Jacob and Esau were still in the womb.  They were both scoundrels who did unforgivable things, but God went with Jacob because he wanted to bless Jacob with Jesus's lineage. 

Now, we do believe that a person who displays good works is saved, but good works do not predispose a person to be saved.  Without being arbitrary, salvation is completely free of conditions, but still based on God's plan.

Back to Mr. Copper:
"It has often been pointed out that the Puritans' rejection of the authority of the church and their stress on the privacy of man's relation to God manifested a certain individualism."

What?  Rejected the authority of the church?  Never.  Their theocracy proves that.  It's such a misunderstanding from the outside that Protestants reject church authority because of their split from the Roman Church.  But no, Christ established the Church and will always have the complete authority.  Protestants and puritans simply reject the leadership of the Pope and to a lesser extent, the Queen of England for the Anglican Church.

The things we reject rely on meaningless rituals, place a man or governor on Christ's throne as head of the church when Christ is the church's only head and husband.  Without saying that the Prots don't also rely on rituals, oh we do, the church we reject places salvation value only on following rituals of good works and penance rather than simply trusting Christ's permanent payment for sin alone.  But other than that, we wholeheartedly follow the church and say with the church fathers, "If the Church is not your mother, then God is not your father."

Ultimately, Mr. Copper will never quite understand unless the Holy Spirit illumines him.  At least for the episode in question, the Tenth Doctor did send him to live on earth and learn the true earthology.  It is always my hope that the Holy Spirit changes a person so that he or she can truly understand Christ's headship, exclusivity, and why the reformation is far from over until Christ returns.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

He says Yes

I still look back on my life in the past decade and still wonder at where God has led me.

2004 -- I was at Trevecca in Nashville
2007 -- I was at Erskine in Due West, SC
2008 -- Mom got diagnosed with rare adrenal cancer that was already stage 4
2009 -- Mom went home to be with the Lord.  Dad and Andrew lived at home and I had one year left at Erskine.
2010 -- I moved back to Conyers, began volunteering at Refuge Pregnancy Center, got involved with a young adult group out of Grace Community Fellowship in Snellville, and became children's minister at Trinity EPC in Loganville.
2011 -- A lady moved into our house to care for Andrew.  I started attending Clayton State University.  Dad moved five minutes away to live with his dad and brother.  I was not able to go to the GCF group anymore, but I did start attending BCM.
2012 -- I went to a BCM small group at the leader's house and sat on a couch next to Tim.
2013 -- I married the same Tim and we moved in with Dad, Pappy, and uncle Delmous.  Andrew and Mary still lived at the house I grew up in.  I worked at the LifeWay on Cleveland Avenue in Atlanta
2014 -- Mary moved to Florida, Tim and I moved into my old house with Andrew, and now I'm greatly involved at my church and my job which happen to be the same place.

I see myself in 2004, and I see where God has led me.  I feel amazed, baffled, grateful, and fulfilled.

This past Sunday at CBC, the sermon was about "ask, and it shall be given to you."
Recently, I was floored by Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 1, "Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."

Every promise in God is yes.  If you ask God for something, he will give it to you.  But I agree with Brooks when he said that God has not always answered my prayers with a yes.  He said no to many boys that I liked up until I met Tim.  He said no to healing my mother from cancer in this life.  He said no to many jobs and situations that I wanted.

But he did answer my prayer and he did give me what I needed.  I wanted a husband in 2004.  I finally married him in 2013.  After breaking my heart, with guys named Chris, guys named Michael, and one really close friend at Erskine who was the last one I liked before I met Tim, he answered yes to my question by letting me meet Tim at the BCM leader's house.

He answered my prayer by taking my mother home to live with him.  But he still said yes.  We wanted her healing.  He gave her the perfect healing with no sin or any troubles.  I look forward to the new heaven and new earth that He will build when he comes again.

And I certainly have not become a famous singer in Nashville, a long-term missionary in Ukraine, or traveled the country on a book-signing tour.  But I spent one year as a missionary in South Atlanta at LifeWay, I am now in a band at church, I now teach at that church's school, and I am more involved with children's ministry.

So I look back and times when I went out of my mind wondering where God would lead me.  I still have those times.  But if God made a promise and made a will, then it will end in a yes.  It certainly will not be yessed today or possibly even in this life.  If it does, that will be great, but I look forward to the ultimate yes when Jesus comes to rule his universe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pure lips, hot coals, and first grade

I think it's been more than a month since I blogged.  First, I ran out of hours to work at LifeWay and had plenty of time to blog and write.  Then I got a job at my church's school in the afterschool program.  Then I got busy with that.  Then I hosted all my in-laws for Thanksgiving.

And now I finally find time to blog.

The first thing I learned on my second week of subbing for the afterschool program is that children love to tattle on each other.  There is no greater display of man's total depravity than a 1st grade class.  They pout when you say no.  They touch each other.  Sometimes, they get violent.  And they always tell the teacher when somebody said a bad word or won't share.

I just have to smile.  What else can I do?  But if I could teach them that they are all sinners and need to go to Jesus for forgiveness and also to forgive their friends, how would I do that?

I take the example of telling on somebody because he said the "S-word."  Is this the actual S-word, "stupid," or "shut-up"?

I don't know.  Either way, we all are aware that our mouths are not the cleanest.  I thought of one time where a man in the bible had unclean lips and then he met God.

In Isaiah 6, the king Uzziah, the king who had been king for 50 years, had just died.  This same king, who loved the Lord, made a mistake of burning incense when only the priests could do that, and then he talked back to the priests, and then God gave him leprosy for the rest of his life while his son ruled. 

Now he is gone, and Isaiah wakes up and finds himself in heaven's throne room.  A reminder, despite his flaws, Uzziah loved the Lord, and Isaiah was probably one of the more faithful people in that era.  He saw "the Lord sitting on his throne, the train of his robe filling the temple," and all his angels covering their faces from his perfect glory.  Isaiah then has a breakdown and fears his immediate doom.

He is face to face with our perfect God and creator who has every right to dispose of him for even one sin.

"And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”"

But the good thing is that although Isaiah has uttered blasphemies and profanities with his lips, Jesus shows him mercy.  He sends and angel to him with a coal from the altar to burn all the eww off of his lips.  It burns, but it feels so good.  And we know it's Jesus because his cleansing came from the altar where he was sacrificed before the world began.

Immediately, God called him to be prophet to the idolatrous nation of Judah through the reigns of king Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.  History says that Isaiah lost his life for the gospel during Manasseh's reign.

So, what do you do when your friend says the S-word or any other crude word?  You pray for him.  When a kid tells me that her friend said such-and-such, I tell her to pray for that child.  I can't clean her lips.  Her friend can't clean her lips.  She can't clean her own lips.  But Jesus can do all that.  And once they really know Jesus, they will be frightened by their own unworthiness and relieved by his mercy that they will be able to speak with purity because he's saved them.