Monday, July 16, 2007

Chapter One

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Romans 3.21-26

If you read this passage in context, I think Luther is right. He called this the "chief point, and the very central place of the epistle, and of the whole Bible." And if not right, really close.


I have no idea what the rest of the sermon was about, but once when I was little, I remember my dad saying in one of his sermons that pride was the national religion of hell. Strong picture, eh? I also recall someone saying that below every virtue lies humility and below every vice hides pride. My good and dead friend Jonathan Edwards also has good words here:
Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and of sweet communion with Christ. It was the first sin committed and lies lowest in the foundation of Satan’s whole building, and is with the greatest difficulty rooted out, and is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts, and often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself.

Romans 1-8

The power of God [dunamis gar theou] in 1.16 is evidenced in the righteousness of God [dikaiosune gar theou] in 1.17. This righteousness is one that is credited to the account of everyone who is believing in the perfect life and wrath-absorbing death of Jesus on the cross [3.21-26]. This righteousness shows the power of God because Jews and Gentiles are all sinful and accountable before a holy God [1.18-3.20]. Their impotence to righteousness means that they are powerless on their own. They need another, alien righteousness to be declared "not guilty" in the courtroom of the Just and the Justifier [3.26].

This reality of justification by faith is unfurled in the believer's life by living according to the Spirit. Paul shows the universality of sin [chs 1-3], the right-standing before God that is available [ch 4], the hope that a right-standing entails [ch 5], the problem of sin [ch 6], and the problem of the law [ch 7]. He does not discuss how to live in these truths until ch 8. In chs 1-7, he uses the word "spirit" [pneuma] 5 times. In ch 8, he uses the same word 22 times! "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh" [Gal 5.16].

Saturday, July 7, 2007

isle of my father-in-law

There is a list of various reasons why I love my father-in-law. He spit out a one-liner the other night that must be added to the list. Word for word, he said...

"I find it hard to believe that the Catholics are the only one with the magic cookie."

The context of that statement made it even more beautiful, but there's no time for that here. So, I'll just give a few more reasons why i like this guy. First, it is his birthday today. Second, he is the biggest hippie i know to ever come out of Bob Jones. Also, i feel like he respects me. I've heard this is a rare find in father-in-laws. Fourth, he and his lovely wife are moving to Florida; now my wife and I have a cheap vacation spot. Lastly, he accidentally cut an 8-inch wide and 4-inch deep hole in his leg with a circular saw and I must show you...

Monday, July 2, 2007

why did Paul write Romans?

I'm glad you asked. Rom 1.5 and 16.26 are quite significant. Both include the phrase "the obedience of faith among all nations." Obviously translations vary, but the Greek is nearly identical [eis hupakoen pisteos en pasin tois ethnesin]. This highlights the whole purpose for the epistle. Many say the reason for Romans is in 1.16-17. However, that fits under the rubric of this inclusio. Just as Psalm 8 begins and ends with the same phrase for emphasis, Paul opens and closes his magnum opus in the same manner to shed light on everything in between.

clichés ARE ONE iN A MiLLiON

My good pal Leonardo Buscemi is the man. Buy his cd and his read his nonsensical goodness below:

What is the source of creativity? Is it bad hygiene? Should an artist refuse to shower and change his clothes until he starts stinking outside the socks? Perhaps, in just such a way, the ninety-percent perspiration causes the ten-percent inspiration, but it is not likely. However, if you, like me, are always trying to breathe life into dead clichés, don't be discouraged. Just remember that some things are better left undead. I think the connection between creativity and clichés may be more profound than most people would believe. Imagine how, of the vast number of possible ideas floating around in the lake of firing synapses inside your head, there must be a raging torrent of thoughts, sentences, phrases and words that are all fighting to be the lucky one who escapes through the narrow funnel of your mouth, or pen, or keyboard, into the world of realized and communicated thought. In that torrent of sentences and phrases, clichés are the most despicable bullies of them all. Taking advantage of our intellectual laziness, they gather their strength from our habitual use of them, and effectively destroy our creativity by bullying their way into our conversations and internal monologues, thereby keeping our creative ideas from ever having a chance to be expressed. So, next time you are tempted to cop out and utter some stupid cliché that will keep you from thinking a truly creative thought, look to the fight at the end of the funnel.

anthropological and psychological Calvinism

Calvin's discourses in THE INSTITUTES on man's will and man's nature are quite good. Not only does he draw extensively from the scriptures, but traces philosophy and theology through history to see what they have to say. He quotes from Augustine, Chrysostom, Plato, Cicero, Aristotle, Seneca, Lombard, Ambrose, Jerome, Origen, Bernard, Anselm, and Eucherius. He suggests that we are often "intoxicated with a false opinion of our own discernment." But here is my favorite....

"He who is most deeply abased and alarmed by the consciousness of his disgrace, nakednes
s, want, and misery has made the greatest progress in the knowledge of himself."

What a sobering and humbling truth.

Ephesians 3.8 [spurgeon]

Spurgeon preached 600 times before he was 20. Here are some of his ponderings on Eph 3.8:

"My Master has riches beyond the count of arithmetic, the measurement of reason, the dream of imagination, or the eloquence of words. They are unsearchable! You may look, and study, and weigh, but Jesus is a greater Saviour than you think him to be when your thoughts are at the greatest. My Lord is more ready to pardon than you to sin, more able to forgive than you to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply your wants than you are to confess them. Never tolerate low thoughts of my Lord Jesus. When you put the crown on his head, you will only crown him with silver when he deserves gold."

i love sundaes

My brother and I drove to the beach together and we couldn't not stop to pose with this.

holy historical hymnody, batman

Tis preposterous to say that the church today is in the state it is in solely because of the sometimes shallow and dumb lyrics in the songs we sing. However, we are certainly helping to sustain our emaciated spirituality by them. So, here's a little John Newton to soothe the soul.

begone, unbelief
my Savior is near
and for my relief
will surely appear
by prayer let me wrestle
and He will perform
with Christ in the vessel
I smile at the storm

though dark be my way
since He is my guide
tis mine to obey
tis His to provide
though cisterns be broken
and creatures all fail
the word He has spoken
shall surely prevail

His love in times past
forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last
in trouble to sink
each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
confirms His good pleasure
to help me quite through

why should I complain
of want or distress
temptation or pain?
He told me no less
the heirs of salvation
i know from His word
through much tribulation
must follow their Lord

since all that I meet
shall work for my good
the bitter is sweet
the med'cine is food
though painful at present
twill cease before long
and then, o how pleasant
the conqueror's song!