Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Two Loves

Lewis took on four perhaps I can handle just two.  But these are not categories of loving as his were.  These are two ways of viewing the love of Jesus.  The love of Jesus portrayed in the Scripture, Old and New, is one thing.  The world’s conception of that love is another thing.  Unfortunately the average Christian on the street and the average post-Christian on the street hold much the same view.  This is not to speak well of the world.  The Church has been derilect in it’s duty to preserve the world faithfully and preach it at all costs.

The mantra of our day is “how dare you judge me”.  It is all around us in every form of media and in all of our peers. This is love number one.  This is the world’s conception of the love of Jesus.  He went around just loving every sinner and speaking acceptance, tolerance and diversity.  I’m not sure why anyone would crucify this Jesus but apparently they did.  Oh, I know, it was the bigots who had to kill him because they were so judgemental.  They were Old Testament haters.  Those religious leaders and the huge mobs of people that cried for a real criminal to be freed, just as long as Jesus was killed.  They simply couldn’t handle how much he loved them and tolerated them.  This Jesus hung out with the worst people he could find. This Jesus was warmer and fuzzier than a Thomas Kinkade painting of a mountain of teddy bears.  In fact if he could be there and hug a person as they were sinning, all the better.  He taught his disciples to tell everyone that “we are sinners too and God is love so don’t fret it man”.  They passed out doobies and smoked a bowl with anyone who would.  When the disciples encountered a hater, they were told to suddenly become political and to have those people burned at the stake.  Ah what a nice Jesus.  This is hardly more absurd than what people seriously believe.  No doubt they are hesitant to say it this way, but that does not change the beliefs they act on.

Martyrdom of St Sebastian, Paolo Veronese

Martyrdom of St Sebastian, Paolo Veronese

Of course, the love of Jesus portrayed in the Scriptures is quite different.  First I think our conception of the term sinner is a bit off.  It is almost always used in the New Testament as a bit of a joke on the religious leaders.  Christ came for the sinners, or the people who would admit their sin and fall on the mercy of Jesus.  He didn’t come for the religious leaders who didn’t consider themselves sinners.  They were the chosen  of the chosen.  The Jews of the Jews.  They had erected a system of complex but achievable rules and they followed them.  He uses the word sinners as the religious leaders would apply it.

And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners

Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, Jusepe Ribera

Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, Jusepe Ribera

He isn’t suggesting that the religious leaders were not sick, but that they didn’t think they were. Obviously they were sinners in need of God’s grace but they didn’t realize it. So on the other side these people weren’t literally sinning at this moment.  Jesus didn’t travel around in an ongoing orgy.  These were people who had recognized their sin and fallen on his mercy.  Jesus didn’t seek the worst people he could find so he could exude tolerance or embrace diversity.  They sought him out for relief from their sins. So, these are the two categories, the self-righteous and the sinner.  But they are not perpetual categories.  His ministry was to call the sinners–to good works.  He made them clean and divides them from the world, or sinners.  This is the idea in Mark 14:41 and Luke 6:32.  We are all sinners by nature, yet some have accepted the grace of Christ by faith and some have not.

Sometimes the Church can look like the world, there is no pride in this.  If you profess this faith in Christ and still act like a sinner, that is a serious thing. Paul tells us to purge that evil person from the church.  I Corinthians 5:9-13  The Church should be characterized by obeying his commandments I John 2:1-6.  This is how we treat these people with love, because it’s how God told us to treat them.

Triumph of Faith - Christian Martyrs in the Time of Nero, 65 AD, Eugene Thirion

Triumph of Faith – Christian Martyrs in the Time of Nero, 65 AD, Eugene Thirion

Of course this is a different thing from the sinner who does not claim Christ.  He is simply part of the world.  Christ had a different way of loving these people.  In John 8:48-59 the people were inquiring about who he was.  He explains it to them them and they try to stone him.  In John 10:22-39 the people ask him if he is the Christ.  He talked for a few minutes and they tried to stone him again.    Time and again the same formula occurs, a crowd follows Jesus, he talks, they pick up stones to stone him.  The way Christ loved these people was often by making them mad.  This does not sound right to us at all these days.  We have this mistaken impression that problems in the world are caused by judgemental people or lack of education.  We fancy that if only people knew enough they wouldn’t sin.  This is foolishness.  Christ was the greatest teacher every, he communicated his message effectively.  His message offends, this is the love of Christ.  That is why he warned us that if we follow him the world will treat us the same way. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

The love of Jesus is not just an easy emotion.  It is difficult and requires much wisdom and study of scripture to apply it correctly.

Duck. . .Duck. . .Capon

There was a day when this time of year was punctuated with harvest festivals.  Many pagan rituals were motivated by bringing in a better harvest, tactics to invoke more rain or sunshine.  They built temples, they had feasts and prayers.  As pagans began to convert to Christianity, they modified these practices into events thanking God for his blessings.  People were closer to the land and they realized that without the fertility of the land we would starve.  A seed is placed in the earth and it brings forth an increase, a head of wheat which is a sheaf of multiple seeds.  When that increase was not sufficient, there was famine.  When it was sufficient or overly so, there was praise of God’s blessing.  The excess could be sold and other aspects of culture could be pursued.  In fact the name Joseph means ‘increase’.  The name has not been common since the Puritans one of their ministers, Increase Mather, comes to mind.  They understood the importance of increase, their lives depended on it. We think we have the luxury of forgetting.

Duck Dynasty Season 3We here in Bozeman should be familiar with agriculture.  This is still a largely agricultural community.  We have an agriculture college and it has may test field throughout the valley and the state.  Various hybrids are bred and tested for factors like disease resistance, bug resistance and yield.  Obviously the plants which prove most resistant to pests and which produce the most increase, are chosen and spread to the farmers.  Over the years this system as allowed modern farming to produce far more food with much less land.  This has enabled us to spend more time doing other things, like distributing porn on the internet.  Now lets suppose that instead of choosing the most productive plants we chose the least productive plants.  I know silly right?  But this is what sin does.  Sin is not logical, hmm I’ve heard that somewhere recently.  So let’s say we not only choose the plants that produce the least but we choose the plants that don’t reproduce at all.  Then we replant these plants.  And we develop a whole festival to these plants.  We might have parades as a part of these festivals.  We could call the new plants ‘diversity’ and all wear rainbow clothes and carry rainbow flags.  Um, I’m sorry did I say ‘could’?  This is homosexuality, the celebration of infertility.  The celebration of the eunuch, the steer, the capon.

Of course, our society has been celebrating infertility for years under a different name.  Long before the homosexualist had his way with society we began celebrating infertility as ‘birth control’.  Surprisingly the call of convenience was too hard to resist even by the Christian.  The Catholic church held firm, but the call of pro-death Nazi’s like Margaret Sanger was too strong for the Protestants. With Sanger’s narrative, of over population and fear that somehow we had better assist evolution, or 80 million years of progress might be stopped by the unfit races, they conquered.  After society got used to the idea of marriage as a means to pursuing sexual pleasure, Katy bar the door.  Marriages which no longer offer the same sexual stimulation they once had, were simply dissolved.  ”It was no one’s fault, we grew apart”.  Marriage fell apart, commitment meant noting, it became all about pleasure, tax and medical benefits.  At this point why not include the homsexualist?  They  ’love’ each other too, by this new definition.  Who are you to criticize their wanting to find love and then visit it in the hospital?  You backward bigoted hater!  And we didn’t have an answer because we lost the more fundamental argument a generation ago.

Part of the Beulah Land tradition.  ’Beulah Land’ is the married, pregnant land.  Isaiah 63:3

Oh you might say, “What about the couple that can’t have kids”.  And you would probably say it whilst sticking out your tongue or with some other such snarky expression.  Well you are onto something. This is infertility.  This has been seen as a problem, the world over.  This was the charge against the witches of old.  The witches Increase Mather gets accused of trying to burn.  But this is a case of the exception proving the rule.  This is a concept we really don’t understand these days.  The fact that your mind goes to that situation is because you know it isn’t normal.  It proves what normal is by it’s peculiarity, think ‘unusual’ not ‘creepy and weird’.  Our society wants to take every deviant or strange situation and expand the norm to accommodate it.  If some new crime is purpetrated in some new way, we want to make more laws binding everyone instead of realizing this is a unique situation that needs to be fairly judged under the law and not proof the the law has failed.  If we can find a person born with both sets of genitals, we want to redefine gender, instead of realizing this is a deformity.  A case of the world not working as it ought.  The fact that some couples can’t have children, is not proof that marriage is not about children. Just like the wheat that withers and dies before it brings forth fruit, is not the wheat that should be celebrated.  That is why we mourn with those couples at their infertility.  The fact that this couple can adopt, is no reason to remake the created order and suggest that Adam and Steve can be parents because they can adopt too. It does not suggest that they are parents the same way as Adam and Eve.

“Oh but it’s working out in Europe, neener-neener.”  Oh really?  Well, it’s working out just like the wheat.  Most of Europe is committing cultural suicide.  Their birthrates are falling to the point that their population halves every generation.  This doesn’t sound fine to me.   Celebrate unfruitfulness and you will become unfruitful.  By this we can see that the commands of God are not just about advancing in heaven or the afterlife.  They work here too.  They are for our own good, now.  We disobey them at our own peril.

Oh the stupid things we have done, trying to be different than the Catholics.

A Simple Story

The little story at the end of Mark 1, in which Christ heals a leper, is very simple.  Our suffering brings us to God, he pours out blessing, then we forsake him.  That could be the end of the post.  But, of course, our sinful hearts like to make things complicated.  I suppose we could blame the devil, he certainly doesn’t help simplify things, but we can do plenty on our own.  So evil complicating hearts often require complicated solutions.  We need to always be sorting out the new lies piled on top of old truths.  We need to refresh the stories.

A stained glass window depicting Jesus curing the leper, Church of Christ the Consoler, Skelton Cum Newby, North Yorkshire

A stained glass window depicting Jesus curing the leper, Church of Christ the Consoler, Skelton Cum Newby, North Yorkshire

This man has been brought to Jesus by his suffering.  There is no reason to assume it was not genuine.  The language is all about cleanliness and invokes our hearts to the Levitical reality that this man does not have access to the temple. So Jesus was moved and healed him.  The man runs away and forgets Jesus.  It is a timeless tale.  Repeated over and over in Scripture.  It is the story of Israel and it is our story.  It’s the story of creation, man was placed in a a perfect garden everything was available to him except for one tree.  He didn’t appreciate the blessing, he forgot God, he ate the fruit.  One of the most stark examples of this is the people of Israel in Exodus 32.  The Lord heard the cry of his people suffering in Egypt Exodus 3:7-10  So he freed them from their Egyptian oppression, by a series of miraculous plagues.  Then he led them through the sea and they watched as Pharaoh’s entire army was drowned, while they were saved.  Yet they think Moses might be taking a little too long on the mountain and decide it’s time for a new god. Then they rewrite history and attribute everything good to this golden calf that they watched Aaron make.  ”And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt’ ” vs. 4.  Seriously people?  Of course we never do anything like this.  We don’t ever attribute blessed historical events to persons other than god?  I know I’ve never heard anyone attribute our blessings to deists, or technology, or  French or Enlightenment philosophers.  No, we all get that the unprecedented blessing enjoyed by this country are all from God.  And we appreciate them every day.  Unfortunately you get the point.  We are so forgetful of our blessing we assume that they are normal.  We allow our blessing to be referred to as racial or imperial theft because we forget that this is not normal.  Poverty and despair are normal on this planet.  And why are they normal?  Because when we are freed from poverty we forget God.  Beware of taking our blessed position for granted and writing God out of our history and writing our arrogant selves in.

Codex de Predis, Turin Italy, 15th Century

Jesus healing the Leper. Codex de Predis, Turin Italy, 15th Century

Our Heavenly Father is trying to bless us and we don’t let him, we forget him and choose our own way.  We see this at the end of this episode, leading into the next episode.  The healed man incites a riot that crowds the streets of those small ancient towns to the point that the sick and injured get trampled trying to get to Jesus.  They can’t get to him.  They must be lowered through the roof.  It is an interesting literary reversal.  Lepers were cast outside the city for their uncleanness.  Jesus takes the place of the unclean and is cast outside the city.  He tells the ex-leper to go inside the city, though the priests were to come outside the city.  I doubt they could be bothered.

This is a great instance of Christ fulfilling the Law and not abolishing it.  He tells the man to go the the temple and follow the Law of Moses, so that he may be a testimony to the priests of Jesus.  This is a common theme in the New Testament.  The religious teachers think they are sons of Moses, but they prove by their misapplication of the law that they are sons of Belial.  Jesus by fulfilling the law to the letter and applying it to real life proves he is the true son of Moses.  And even this law was not about judgement or creating a social hierarchy, as our modern humanist history tell the story.  The law protected people from contagious disease.  It also protected people from being falsely excluded from society.  The priest had to make a determination after patiently waiting.  As we see the law was in harmony with Jesus’ healing, it made provision for people being cured.  The Law was grace.

Jesus healing a leper.  From 15th Century gradual.

Jesus healing a leper. From 15th Century gradual.

There was a huge lottery payout recently.   Huge, because lots of people donated money to the cause by buying tickets.  ”A tax for people who can’t do math.” as Doug Wilson says.  But they don’t see it that way, they see it as a chance to strike it rich with very little effort.  But what happens to people who strike it rich?  In Florida there is a counseling center for such people called The Sudden Money Institute.  Because the reality is that people who get rich quick destroy their lives.  When need is no longer a factor, immorality runs rampant, unchecked we forget God.  This is the story of the leper. This is why God allows suffering and hardship.  It is his blessing, preventing us from destroying ourselves.

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor 12/11

Having read your front page story pushing for a new city ordinance,  I was appalled. Not necessarily by the subject of the ordinance but by the abuse of the English language. Condensing a broad diverse language into two categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is alarming.  Apparently ‘discrimination’ has been put into the bad category and ‘equality’ into the good.  If every word simply becomes either an insult or a compliment where will we be?  We will have no means of expressing anything.  Discrimination refers to ones ability to determine difference between things. I think this is a handy word to have around.  Supporters of the ordinance think so too.  They discriminate between two groups; traditional morality and a minority of mental genders, type of sin practiced, or type-of-below-the-waist-surgery-had.  Which brings to mind another useful word, ‘hypocrite’. 

Currently, a person is free to protect himself and his children from behaviors that most of humanity does and has considered evil.  They call this the “suffering” of people who have suddenly decided that biology is a choice and who think temptation is an unequivocal call of nature. But, they simply want to switch the group who suffers. Since these new groups are a clear minority, this would only result in more suffering. You don’t change laws that make it difficult for the sexually perverse, into laws that make it difficult for traditional families and call it “good for family.”  Laws discriminate.   Apparently these words now have complex definitions dependent on who uses them. Their man-made ‘equality’ is better than God’s. This requires as much verbal surgery as the two women pretending to be parents or the man who thinks god gave him the wrong sex toys. 

These hypocrites should move back to where their new language is spoken or learn our language.

Humility–>Authority–>Kicking Butt

I think it’s easy for Christians to forget what the gospel is all about.  Even pastors do it, as they seek to make personal applications from the weeks passage to convict all those people sitting in the pews.  But this is not the Good News.  The Good News is that the God of the Universe remade the world so that we are no longer at odds with him.  He repaired the rift created by the fall of Adam. He relived the history of Israel, but he was successful. And as a result we are all his heirs.  We inherit the land, we inherit the earth.

It is so true that we become like that which we worship.  Our heroes or ideals, are goals, whether we notice it or not.  By forgetting the rich stories of the Old Testament the church today has made a sort of ideal out of the New Testament situation.  This was the century of the infant Church.  This was a specific time and it was not our time.  Things were changing and a new thing was beginning.  Persecution was rampant and it didn’t look good for the future of the Church.  But this was not our goal.  Jesus and his apostles acknowledged that these difficult times would come.  But the idea he put into our head was one of victory.  This was to be our goal.  We will move mountains, ever knee will bow.  He conquered Rome in such a fundamental way that no one could have conceived of, The Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, British Empire and American Empire.  Every wave of pagan tribe was converted, God’s blessings and prosperity flowed.

Kingdom of Heaven, Evelyn de Morgan, c. 1878.  Hint: You read it from bottom to top.

Kingdom of Heaven, Evelyn de Morgan, c. 1878. Hint: You read it from bottom to top.

Reading the beginning of Mark should just blow us away.  God’s prophets have been silent 400 years and then suddenly John and the Jesus burst on to the scene and start conquering.  He walks through the familiar history of the Jews.  He passes through the seavs. 9-11, but when he comes out there is no golden calf Exodus 32, he remains faithful.  He is tempted in the wilderness vs. 12,13, but he does not grumble and complain Exodus 16:2, he does not doubt that his father will provide, he is victorious.  Then he enters the land vs. 14.  There is no doubt here, there are no lukewarm victories.  Every one of his enemies is put to shame.  False teacher are left speechless.  Disease and illness are cured.  Demons are cast out.  This isn’t the story that should make you feel bad about your sins.  From what I can tell most people feel plenty bad about their sins.   We all screw up everything–a lot.  But people do commit wrongs against us that we don’t deserve.  Despite the fact that we still sin, injustices are done.  Evil people do us harm and the ‘authorities’ often look the other way, for one reason or another.  But the Gospel tells us that all this will be made right.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness–they shall be satisfied.

I think Christians have almost become comfortable wallowing in their sins.  It seems humble and it is about the only thing the world will let us do these days.  If we lift our heads up, even a little, they are quick to silence us with the wag of their fingers.  ”You wouldn’t want us to call you judgemental, would you?  Hmmm?”  ”No mas’a. Please I’ll be a good little slave.”  But we have the Gospel people!  While we should serve our fellow man, we don’t take our orders from him.  The world does not get to set the parameters for our faith. Neither should this idol of the 1st Century.  Just because our situation does not meet the exact situation seen in the New Testament does not mean something is wrong.  God put his people in all sorts of situations all throughout the Old Testament and he showed them, he showed us, how to behave.

“He taught as one with authority.”  Paul tells us in Philippians 2 where he got his authority:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

He was exalted by his humility, King over all.  But it’s not a wallowing defeatist humility it’s a real throne that really conquered.  And not just conquering, but ruling.  The connotation of authority in scripture is often one of the righteous judge.  He sits before his people like Solomon and decides cases.  He judges right from wrong, punishing the wrong and rewarding he who has been wronged.  So Jesus clearly has the authority.  But do we?  I think so, we are the children of the king.  We are his inheritance, and we shall inherit the earth, we shall judge the angels.  In the early part of Mark the ability of Jesus to cast out demons is a sign of his authority.  But Jesus rebukes his disciples for their inability to cast out demons Matthew 17:14-21.  They should have had the authority but their faith was week. Verse 21 seems to indicate that the only way to remedy this lack of faith, was for them to fast and pray more.  Christ had authority and he used it he judged rightly. Do we?  Or do we sit by lazily and wait for things to fall apart so our situation will look more like the 1st Century?  Things will fall apart if the Church does not judge rightly I Corinthians 6:1-11, but that is not the plan.

Further Painting Info Here

New Saint Andrews Letter Here

 

 

Apartheid

I am just not convinced that the popular story of apartheid is right. I mean it is coming from people who get every other story wrong. People who’s overall view of the world over time is wrong. I wasn’t around for it, and it will take some digging to get to the pre-civil rights BS version of history.

But I have a thought; What is so bad about segregation?  There have been numerous studies that show people are more comfortable living with people who are like them.  Diversity for it’s own sake generally doesn’t work.  But, I think of all the group projects I was forced to participate in throughout my schooling. There were always weak links in those groups that were frustrating. Sometimes I would just do my best and we would carry them. But often it was so annoying and pointless and I would just do nothing so everyone would get a bad grade. Yeah it is the same problem with all collectivism. I think separation is good. The weak can’t hide behind the strong and they are forced to push themselves. And the strong are more free to enjoy the fruits of their labor and therefore be more productive.  The inevitable result is the trickle down of this fruit from the top, as well as many direct benefit by sale, example or gifts.

So think of segregation in this country. You separate the rich from the poor. So you keep the poor from using the busses of the rich. Why don’t the poor have busses? The common line is that the rich exploited the poor to make the busses so they are really their busses. But this is a lie. The fact is if you trace it back it is the story of two cultures. Western Christendom took the land they were given and they made everything you see here. Then they went to other places where that was not the case. They fostered the same systems there. Since the colonialism story is a fog of secular lies, think modern day oil. Middle Eastern nations had the oil, but no use for it or means of extracting it. Well occasionally they might burn a Christian when some floated to the surface, but I digress. Then the west comes along and made use of the oil and lots of them rich. But there again, many of those people are still poor. Did we create those poor by making use of that oil? Did we exploit them? This is the income gap the President and all his communist buddies are always talking about. I submit that those people are what they are because of the god they follow. They follow a backwards, sexual deviant, blood thirsty, warlord,w bent on taking over the world via war, named Muhammed. I suppose we follow the son of God who told us to take over the world with the Gospel.

I think separation is the story of creation. “God separated” is repeated over and over in the creation account. He separated so that those things could come back together and have a relationship. He separated the man into man and woman so they could relate to one another. I suppose man should blame all his problems on woman stealing from him and exploiting him. The fact is that separation is freedom, it’s an opportunity to exercise your will over yourself and circumstances. If you manage it poorly you can’t blame those who managed it well for excluding you. Basically that is just an admission that you can’t manage yourself and that you want to be a slave.