Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Opus 2011-304, Plow and Crown: We Are Losing

We are losing the battle between the plow and the crown. 

The Magna Carta got the ball rolling.  The Declaration of Rights of 1689 gave it a big push.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were big steps forward.  The Bill of Rights seemed to seal the deal.  Things were looking good, at least here in America.  But that has changed.  In my lifetime, at least, the ball has been fumbled and we are still waiting to see who will recover.  Every day it seems like the elite nobility of our generation pushes liberty back a few more yards.

In 1789 the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guaranteed us freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  It went well for a long time.  Now the courts of the elites are killing both.  Pastors can now be charged with a hate crime for preaching what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.  Once again the crown is telling the churches what they are to teach.  In his book From Tyndale to Madison, Michael Farris outlines how the freedoms we think of as being political were really brought about by people seeking the freedom to worship as they felt they must.  Think about the first amendment.  The following items were necessary for free worship:  No government establishment or control, freedom of preach (speech), freedom of congregation (assembly), freedom of the press (Bibles), redress of grievances (criticism of the government).  If not for the spiritual battles, the political victories would not have happened.

Henry VIII was the sovereign who broke England away from the Roman Catholic Church.  He still considered himself a good Catholic but he thought the crown was above the church.  He was simply substituting himself for the Pope or local archbishop.  He went so far as to tell pastors what they could preach and what they could not preach.  If you went against his will you could be tried for heresy and burned at the stake.  It happened.  Our current culture is trying to turn the clock back to those days and shut up those who believe in the Bible. 

As people who call themselves Christian fall away from the teaching of the Word it will be easier for the new nobility to dictate to the church.  We will see things going in the opposite direction because people are adapting to the culture instead of adapting the culture.  There will be martyrs but they will be silenced by the courts, not the bishops.

The battle continues.  Which side are you on?

homo unius libri

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Opus 2011-303, On the Street: Voyeurs of the Imagination

Friday I was again sitting in a restaurant doing my morning worship and some writing.  I again did a little people watching.  I was again struck by how many people seem to have “fun house” mirrors at home.  You know those mirrors that are distorted to make you look short or fat.  I have seen mirrors that make it look like ghosts are sitting with you.  This must be what people are seeing when they get dressed in the morning.

When I was a kid I used to imagine I was Zorro or Roy Rogers.  I might have even had a few moments when I would flex in front of a mirror.  I could dream but I did not lose touch with reality.  I saw a child walking down the street the other day wearing a pair of those glasses with a nose and mustache attached.  She was a kid and it was close to Halloween.  I understood.  It would not be the same if I wore it to church on Sunday.

I am careful what I wear when I go out of the house.  It is not vanity, it is mercy.  I really don’t think people want to see what I look like in shorts and an old shirt.  I am used to it, so I can comb my hair without even noticing but flab and sag is not a pleasant sight. 

I wish others would have that consideration.  I don’t need to see the new shape that your tattoo has taken as your skin has adapted to the extra weight under it.  I don’t need to observe your experiments in how much stretch there is in a one-size-fits-all t-shirt.  I really don’t care how many rings you can hang in your nose.

How about a little consideration here.

We all need to go out once in awhile.  We need to buy food and water the lawn.  I understand.  I also have those moments.  I try to not make you want to look the other way.  Please return the favor.  Long pants are good.  Loose tops are nice.  Modesty is a plus.  I am not expecting you to lose weight or have plastic surgery.  I am not exactly a work of art myself but let’s all do the best we can with what we have.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-302, A Bit of Humor

I don't know if this is original or copied but I enjoyed reading about English.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Opus 2011-301, Plow and Crown: The Root of the Problem

When King John met the Nobles at Runnymead and was forced into signing the Magna Carta it was not the birth of our liberties as Americans but it was the beginning of a process.  This is the process where the lesser creatures of the world tried to push back the absolute power of the head honcho.  It has been a process of hope.  It has known its greatest expression where the gospel has been preached.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 KJV)  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Sure the nobles were also honchos.  The neighborhood peasant did not suddenly get the right to vote.  But it was a beginning.  As you follow the history of England you see small steps, each one moving individual liberty incrementally forward and forcing the elites to retreat. 

The American experiment was a tremendous step forward in the battle.  The concept of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” was based in the Christian concept of all being sinners and needing God’s grace.  It said that even kings are sinners.  It was the kind of revolutionary thought that would have gotten the signers executed if the king could have gotten hold of them.

As Americans we have a total lack of understanding of the inbred belief in a class system that has existed through history and still exists in much of the world.  Even the people on the bottom have had an inner belief that some people were just born superior, not because of ability but because of blood.  You see it in the caste system of Hinduism.  You see it in the ideas of nobility and royalty in Europe.  You see it in the Japanese idea that the Emperor is divine.  It is the root of racism.   But then Paul took the idea of sin and grace and penned these words.
(Colossians 3:11 KJV)  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

(Galatians 3:28 KJV)  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Even before that we have the words of Genesis putting the death to gender superiority.
(Genesis 1:27 KJV)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

(Genesis 5:2 KJV)  Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
These are revolutionary ideas that have grown out of the teachings of the Bible.  It is not about democracy or monarchy.  It is about individual standing before God.  It is about all being sinners.  It is about all needing redemption.  It is about each man and woman being created in the image of God.  It is about applying that understanding. 

Humanity has come a long way, but...

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-300, The Natural Cook

My wife cooks by the seat of her pants.  She also cooks with her emotions.  She has begun her holiday baking and already she is on a role.  She looked around the house, took inventory of what was available and came up with a new combination.  She has been perfecting the combination and passing out the experiments.  At one point there were four cakes on the counter waiting their new homes.  People rave about how good they are but I avoid telling them the secret ingredient:  prunes.

Yes, prunes.  Dried plums.  The food of the elderly who have issues.  With an orange sauce soaking into the top it comes out pretty good.  So to paraphrase the old saying, “When life gives you prunes, make cakes.”

How did she come up with this?  Part was looking to see what was available.  She had stocked up on prunes for an elderly member of the family.  (No, not me.)  They were not going as quickly as expected (sorry).  Part was knowing how to work with standard things like flour, sugar, salt and all those magic things that make the difference.  When the kids were at home and she was really creative we would have a culinary delight before us and it became a family joke to “enjoy it, because you will never have it again.”  She did not keep track of what went in so she could not guarantee how it would come out next time.

I do not find basic cooking difficult.  Give me the recipe and ingredients in clearly labeled containers and I can get the job done.  The key words are “basic” and “recipe.”  I need to keep the recipe in front of me.  I have experimented with chili and I will go back and check the recipe every couple of minutes.  I can never remember the order, amounts or times.  With enough focus, I can do the job.

I think you would rather eat what she fixes.  The product depends on the producer as much as the produce.  It makes a difference how often and how long you have been working with the ingredients.  This is true whether it is food or life.

Has life given you prunes?  If you have the background of a saint you may be able to bring a glorious pastry out of that humble basic.  If you are still feeling your way in life you need to keep the recipe in front of you.  Either way will work but don’t try to be something you are not.  If you are new to the faith, don’t try to experiment.  Read the instructions and follow them carefully.  If I tried to make a prune cake by the seat of my pants it would always come out a laxative instead of a luxury.

May your day and life bring a pleasing aroma to the living God.

homo unius libri

Friday, October 28, 2011

Opus 2011-299, Tax Dollars at Work: Busybody Traffic Control

My path to work each day is researched and thought out.  One landmark I used to work to avoid was schools.  The ego of crossing guards was beyond my ability to endure.  Buses stopping on four lane, divided highways to pick high school students and stopping traffic both ways while they slowly climbed aboard set me to screaming and pounding on my steering wheel.  Since I am now leaving home at 6:00 A.M. that is no longer a consideration.

I am now trying to think my way around the gurus of traffic flow.  There are committees of mental elves who believe they can work magic with signals and stop signs.  I make a conscious effort to avoid their conscious efforts.  I stopped using a freeway route when they put signals on the transition roads.  Did you get that?  Signals.  On the freeway.  To expedite traffic.  Really.  Is it only in California?

I have a route that has two right turns that are branches with no signal.  Cool.  I try to use intersections that don’t have left turn lights.  I had it mapped out pretty well, but the elves have spies.  This week I came to a place I turn left and someone had installed a left turn arrow.  At 6:10 A.M. this is a real waste of my time.  I am trying to figure another route but they have been very efficient in their plot.

There was more.  When I finally turned left I quickly came on one of those solar powered signs that tells you how fast you are going and flashes a strong “slow down” message.  I must confess I was traveling 38 mph in a 35 mph zone.  I slowed down to 35 thus making the children still asleep in their beds at 6:11 A.M. safer.  Of course if I were someone who would drive 50 mph on this narrow two lane road I don’t think I would pay much attention to the solar police. 

Both of these additions cost money.  I live in a state that has a critical lack of funds and cannot balance its budget.  In the midst of this they are installing left turn signals and solar traffic cops.  I think the money could be better spent on monitors to see how much time the police spend drinking coffee at an accident instead of directing traffic.  Maybe they could put timers on clerks at the DMV to see how long they shuffle papers before they say, “May I help you?”

More examples of your tax dollars at work.

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Opus 2011-298, Plow and Crown: My Idea of a Catchy Title

We have an ongoing battle between those who want liberty and those who want control.  I have tried to figure out a way to express this battle.  I have decided to use the plow to represent the common people and the crown to represent the elites. 

The plow was the most common tool for most of written history.  As late at the 19th century most people were farmers.  The plow produced food and represents the beginning of civilization as hunter gatherers began to stay in settled locations. 

The crown should be obvious.  Today it might be a clip-board or a limo but you get the idea.  Some people think they are anointed to be at the top. 

The crown can be worn at any level.  It can be the head janitor if you work in an office.  It can be the cop who stops you for “driving while black.”  It can be the clerk that takes forever to stop doing her nails and then determines that you forgot to check a box on the form. 

They are everywhere and they are smothering us.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Opus 2011-297, Plow and Crown: The Issue of Liberty

We have a lot of dichotomies laid down in philosophical discussions.  You are all philosophers even if you don’t use the term.  We all seek wisdom and truth or at least try to convince others we have it.  We tend to divide things, as in “There are two types of people, the Wise, who agree with me, and the Fools, who don’t.”  We have the Ying and Yang of the Star Wars Force.  We have the “have’s” and the “have not’s” of the socialists.  We have the old and the young.  We have the traditional and the contemporary.  We have the conservatives and liberals.  You get the picture.

One of the oldest divisions has been between those who rule and those who don’t.  On the one side you have people who think it is their role in life to tell other people what to do and demand submission.  Cultures always seem to have a ruling class whether it be kings with a divine right or your local IRS agent with the power of the Federal government behind him.  Americans may laugh at kings but we are afraid of city hall. 

At one end you have those who must control.  At the other end you have those who refuse to be controlled.  In between you have masses of people who just want to find the path of least resistance.  That group in between has a lot of power but they don’t want to rock the boat.  Look at the peasants of the middle ages.  Look at cultures with masses of slaves.  Look at the people of California. 

California?  How does California equate with the peasants of the middle ages?  Recently the people voted, with a strong majority, to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  It was very simple and received a strong endorsement from almost all groups.  The homosexual community, with a few exceptions, was obviously not on board.  One judge, openly homosexual himself, overturned it with a flick of his pen.  And the people of California meekly went back to their hovels and said, “Oh, well.”

The issue I want to address is the question of Liberty.  The battle has been going on since the first guy with big muscles and a big club said, “Give me your lunch.”  It is still going on as our President tells us that we need to give him our health care, our savings, our right to bear arms, our right to disagree and the list goes on.  He is not alone.  Democrats and Republicans are joined by the elites of every stripe.  They want to put us in a box.

I don’t want to go in the box.  I will be addressing that under the title of “Plow and Crown,” at least until the government also takes away my freedom of speech and/or turns off the internet.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Opus 2011-296, Tax Dollars at Work: Williams Strikes Again

I have written before about the Williams Act.  This is another judge-generated bit of legislation that is the results of a well meaning fool trying to make up for the fallen nature of mankind.  Some parents sued claiming that their children did not have books, a lack which was keeping them from getting an education.  I don’t know if a jury was involved but the results are definitely the work of a do-good, liberal judge.  Our school has signed on to take the Man’s money and so we are under the Man’s control.

Yesterday I was in the middle of a quiz and a lady walks in with a clip-board.  She identified herself as being sent to check oor compliance with the Williams Act.  She asked the students if they had been issued books.  They all had.  She asked if anyone had lost their book or had it stolen.  Two young men raised their hands.  She told them to leave the room, go to the library and get another one.  There was no reasoning about responsibility or paying for the book.  Just go and get another one since yours was lost or stolen.  You need to understand that these kids don’t want to carry their books to class so they “lose” them daily.  They consider leaving a book laying out in the quad as having it stolen.  None of this mattered.  There were to go get another.  I pointed out that they were in the middle of a quiz.  She said it needed to be done by the end of the period.

I pointed out that they would not need their books today.  I require them to bring them daily and do a book check daily but we were on a short day and we would not actually need them.  She said they needed to go and get one during this period.  I tried again.  Same answer.

So I sent them.  When they came back they had brand new, glossy books that had never been touched by human hands.  All the responsible students had battered books that were falling apart.  I as a teacher had not been able to get one that was close to clean.  These clowns were given brand new ones.

Later that period a second adult came to my room to make sure I had complied.  It was not enough to ask me, he came in and made the students show him the books.  Two adults spending the day at our school, being paid good salaries just to get irresponsible students new books.

If it were up to me I would have a room set instead of sending them home.  My homework is a series of assignments that teach research skills and lead to a term paper.  I don’t give homework out of the book.  The Williams Act requires the kids to carry their books to class every day.  We do not have lockers.  Many of the kids are small.  The books are big.  We also have screening for scoliosis. 

The librarian tells me that the kids also dump their books in the library and expect her to watch them because they do not want to carry them.  Many of the “lost” and “stolen” books were sitting there waiting to be picked up.

You wonder why education is a mess.  It is the product of a government committee full of people who want to do good.

Another day of your tax dollars at work.

homo unius libri

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Opus 2011-295, Christian Cliches: Out of the Mouth of Babes.

(Matthew 21:16 KJV)  And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Most people have heard someone mumble, “Out of the mouths of babes...”  They understand it means that children can often say things that reflect reality.  We see this in the nursery story about the King’s New Clothes.  Only the child was willing to say that the king was naked.

This comes from a conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees.  Some children were praising Jesus in the temple and the Pharisees were offended.  Part of their problem was that Jesus was looking good and doing good.  Part of their problem was that He was being praised.  Part of it was that the children were being noisy in church. 

I see this kind of thing as school all the time.  We frequently have the school officials announce something that has us looking at each other and scratching our heads.  One of the kids will point out how foolish it is.  I ask them how old they are and then ask them how someone so young could see the truth when the adults don’t.  Again they just shake their heads.

Sometimes the statements of the children are based on the ignorance of inexperience.  A few days ago we were discussing the Constitution and defining words.  We were talking about bankruptcy.  The kids gave their usual statements about just printing more money.  At one point one of the kids said, how come we just don’t give people what they need and not charge.  When I asked where the goods would come from he suggested that everyone would do what they could.  Does this sound familiar?  Let me remind you of an immortal quote which I shall address some other time, “From each according to his ability.  To each according to his need.”  My little, ignorant children came up with one of the great statements of Communism.  So much for great thinkers.

Out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom and foolishness.  It is up to the mature to decide whether this quote is a cliche or a proverb.

Are you up to the challenge?

homo unius libri

Friday, October 21, 2011

Opus 2011-294, Attitudes about Authority, Part 3

In two previous posts I discussed in general terms the sources of religious authority.  I called them Revelation, Tradition and Reason.  I touched on how this expresses itself in the different branches of Christianity.  Today I want to touch on the offshoots of Christianity.  These groups often portray themselves as Christian but they depart from the faith in at least one major way.  I would go out on a limb and say that some people in these groups are actually believers but it is because they do not understand what their official religion teaches or else they ignore it.

One of the characteristics of these pseudo-Christian groups is that they have an authority that has the power to totally trump the Bible.  It can be in any category but usually is focused on both revelation and tradition.

One group that is working hard to sell themselves as Christians is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons.  You see their advertising.  You see them on their bicycles.  They seem to be really good people.  I imagine they make great neighbors.  They are not Christian.

Entire books are written on this subject.  Many “Christians” will claim that the Mormons are Christians.  Usually the people that say that also reject some key beliefs that are part of Christianity.  I want to focus on the three points of authority.  The key issues in this case are revelation and tradition.  The Mormons have no problem with the Bible itself.  The problem is that they have books that they add that are of equal or superior value to the Bible.  If there is a disagreement, the Bible loses.  It is not a matter of interpretation, it is a matter of superceding.  The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrine and Covenants are superior to the Old and New Testaments. 

What this does is teach some real heresies.  They reject the universal view of the church about the nature of Christ.  They have an alternate understanding of salvation.  They often cover this up by using traditional words and phrases, but they know they do not mean the same thing.

Tradition is also a bit slippery.  The “church” also has absolute authority on issues of faith.  Again, this is not nuances of interpretation, it is the right to reverse and reject.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the same situation.  The titles might be different but the power of the organization is supreme.

I would also include what I call liberal “Churches” in this category.  These are the old mainline denominations that have a rich past and a lot of ritual and pageantry but are being taken over by a hierarchy that is leading people away from the Bible.  So far the rot has not effected the majority of the people in the pews.  I wish I could say the same for the leadrs.  These people are in the process of rejecting the original revelation of the Bible and superseding it with new revelation, just like the pseudo-Christians.  The Bible has very clear teachings about things like homosexuality.  They deny and edit.  The Bible teaches the uniqueness of Jesus.  They cloud and confuse. 

Reason replaces revelation.  Totally.  The latest, with-it guru is considered a higher authority than the clear words of Jesus.  They develop their own traditions and substitute them for the orthodox in the name of being creative and open.  The problem is not that they have different opinions but that they reject clear teachings.  The church has always had different opinions.  We have managed to work through them. 

Often these “new ideas” are just applications of old pagan ideas and ancient heresies.  You take Gnosticism and talk about secret knowledge and special insights for the inner circle.  Of course you don’t call it “Gnosticism.”  Someone might look it up and call “heretic.”  Instead you label those who don’t agree with you as closed minded and literalists.  You make believing in the fundamentals a dirty word.  You begin to teach that there are many roads to God and that truth is different for everyone.

Where do you fit on the scale?  Remember in the Garden of Eden the original sin was to try to make us Gods.  It was to claim that the tree of knowledge was out of our reach to keep God in control.  It was a belief that with knowledge we could put ourselves above what He had clearly stated. 

Some things never change.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Opus 2011-293, Attitudes about Authority, Part 2

In a previous post I discussed in general terms the sources of religious authority.  I called them Revelation, Tradition and Reason.  Today I want to touch on how this expresses itself in the different branches of Christianity.

All Christians give credence to each of these three, but in different order and understanding. 

The people I hang with would be considered evangelical Protestants.  We believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority.  We will argue over which translation is best and what the Greek or Hebrew actually means but we believe that there is truth and meaning in the Word.  Nothing can trump it.  Period.

We still have traditions.  We look back to historical figures such as Calvin, Luther and Wesley.  At times I feel like Calvinists put the teaching of Calvin above scripture, but that is because I disagree with Calvin.  His followers would still say the Bible is supreme.  We have denominations and local churches that have something to say about the correct understanding of the Bible.  To an outsider it would seem that they have more authority than the word itself, but that is not the way we see it.  We see the church and its traditions as a way of balancing the third leg of the stool, reason.

We believe in reason.  God gave us minds and expected us to use them.  This is why we are Protestants.  We think our personal opinion is better than our church leaders.  When we disagree we split off and form another church.  We take our cookies and walk.  This can cause all kinds of problems.  It can allow all kinds of foolishness but we believe that the Holy Spirit is still speaking to us and teaching us.  We do not believe that a church official has the final word.

At the other end you have believers who are part of the Roman Catholic tradition.  I am one of those who accept that there will be Catholics in heaven.  Sorry guys.  I asked a serious Catholic I know if he could accept Ephesians 2:8.
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
He thought a moment and said, “Yes.”  He may understand grace differently but he still believes that we are saved by the power of God and the Blood.

But, and it is a big “but,” he has been taught that the final arbitrator is the church, not the Word.  The church would say it’s doctrines are based on the word but the tradition and authority of the church is the final hammer.  When the pope speaks ex cathedra he is the official voice of God.  As Al Gore likes to say about global warming, “the discussion is over.”  But Al is not really the pope, he just thinks he is.  Unlike Al Gore, the popes usually exercise great care in speaking for God.  They do not do it every day.  They think about it and seek counsel.  But the pope still has the final word on the Word.

Reason still exists, but again the reason of the church drowns out the reason of the laity.

The differences between these groups is not acknowledging the three legs of the spiritual stool, it is a disagreement over which one has priority.

Next I will look at the groups outside the fold of the Christian faith.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Opus 2011-292, Attitudes about Authority, Part 1

Religious belief is usually based on three categories of information.  Revelation, Tradition and Reason.

Revelation refers to scripture.  For Christians this would be the Bible.  For Jews it would be various parts of what is called the Old Testament.  For Muslims it would be the Koran.  Various offshoots of Christianity would have added books such as the Book of Mormon.  Jews would add the Talmud or the writings of different Rabbis and scholars.  Muslims would add the vast Hadith.  When you get to the pagan world there are also written and spoken sources of information which are believed to come from supernatural sources.

Tradition comes from the organizations that support the different religions.  Christians would look to the church, however they define it.  Jews have different rabbinical traditions that are believed to give insight and some would put the Talmud here instead of under revelation.  Islam seems to have no official “church” but they have a system of ideas taught by different religious leaders.  The split between Shia and Sunni would be an example of this tradition.  Buddhists have their gurus and sects.  The list could go on.

Reason means the tendency of people to think and work things out for themselves.  There are copious books on all subjects.  In our literate society we read, argue and come to conclusions.  Even people who don’t do much reading or thinking have opinions.

That is an overview.  Next I will try to look at the different ways that these three are put together by the large branches of Christianity.

homo unius libri

Friday, October 14, 2011

Opus 2011-291, Spiritual Gifts: Whistling?

I am teaching a class on spiritual gifts.  At least that is the topic when we don’t get on a tangent.  I love tangents when teaching. 

In our discussion of the gifts we come to one of the questions that are asked about gifts and by implication about the entire spiritual life.  Are the lists of spiritual gifts set in stone or are they suggestive?  On one side you have people who believe that the only spiritual gifts are the ones that are recorded in the lists in Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians and I Peter.  Some would include the reference in Exodus.  This position says there are no other gifts.  The other side of the argument says that these are just suggestive.  There are other gifts.  Don’t try to limit God.  One of the suggestions that bring this us is music.  Is it a gift of the Spirit?

This becomes a general question about Christian living.  Some people believe that the only things we are forbidden from doing are those specifically listed in the Bible.  A corollary of that is that the only things we are required to do are those listed in the Bible.  Others feel that the Christian life is more open to adapting and that we should always be watching for new potential areas for sin or obedience.  Later on that point.

Today I want to ask, is whistling a spiritual gift?  If you belong to the It-Must-Be-on-the-List crowd, you already have your answer.  But think about it.  What does it say to people when you come to work with an obvious attitude of joy?  Is it just an expression of the fruit of the spirit, joy?  I have run mental video of myself as I get out of my car and progress into the building.  Sometimes I look like I am wading through 30 weight oil on a winter day.  Other days I look like the astronauts walking on the moon.  What does that say to others?

And why the difference?  Sometimes it is purely physical.  End of case.  But more often it has to do with how I have spent my morning.  When I spend time with the Lord it makes a difference.  When I have budgeted time and been in the Word and listening to the Spirit I am different. 

I suggest you try it.  It is not a charade.  It is not faked.  Time with the Lord in the morning does something about my attitude and what I radiate.  Try it, you might like it.

Is whistling a spiritual gift?  I doubt it, but it might reflect my close contact with eternity.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-290, Pumice Proverbs: ABC...KJV

Christians need to spend less time with

And more time with
NLT and

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opus 2011-289, Headlines: RIP Steve Jobs

My wife tells me that Steve Jobs has died.  This should come as no surprise.  He has looked close to the grave for some time.  There are many different attitudes towards who he was and the kind of personality he demonstrated but few will deny that he left his imprint on our world.

My contribution is this:  Steve Jobs was a modern day Robber Baron. 

I say that in praise, not condemnation.  Keep in mind that most of what you think you know about the so-called “Robber Barons” has been proclaimed by people who are far to the left of normal.  They tend to be socialists who think that profits are evil.

Were these industrial age entrepreneurs perfect?  Of course not.  Stupid question.  They were men who worked hard and earned a lot of money.  Beyond that they have little in common.  That is enough to condemn them in modern thinking. 

How would we define this group without being PC.  A robber baron is someone who gave a few thousand people reasons to complain, justified or not, and improved the lives of millions.  Take Standard Oil and Rockefeller.  Some gripe and complain and call him evil.  They claim that he made his money by illegal maneuvers and attempts to have a monopoly on the market.  Of course the same people would praise Barak Obama for identical behavior with the health care of the nation, but that is for another day. 

There is a book you might want to read.  It is called The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton W. Folsom.  He does a lot of honest research on real facts.  He points out that Rockefeller was not even close to a monopoly when they started passing laws to try and shut him down.  He did not force other men out of business by unfair practices.  What he did what buy them out because they were so wasteful and inefficient.  One of the points made is that Rockefeller actually helped clean up the environment.  The people he bought out were taking a small part of the oil that came out of the ground and dumping the rest.  This would obviously cause problems.  Rockefeller found ways to use the “waste” and turn it into useful products.  Thus he did not dump, he sold.  This obviously helped his bottom line as well as the environment. 

His contributions changed the lives of the country for the better.  Folsom points out the effects Rockefeller had on education and leisure.  Before he started cutting costs people had kerosene lamps but the cost of fuel was so high that they could not afford to use them.  His efficient business practices reduced the cost of kerosene so much that even poor people could afford to stay up reading after dark.  It improved family life and gave more options.

He makes the same case for Carnegie, Vanderbilt and others. 

Steven Jobs was a modern day Robber Baron.  I think that is a good thing.  I think that the so-called Robber Barons were a blessing because the benefits they produced made for a freer society.  You are free to disagree but if you do you might want to move back to a cultural level that does not benefit from their contributions.

Just kidding.  It’s the liberals that want to force you to conformity.  Stick around.  Maybe you will learn.  Maybe I will.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Opus 2011-288, Spiritual Gifts: Apostle

(Ephesians 4:11 KJV)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

There is some controversy over the spiritual gift of apostle.  Since it is listed, you can’t deny that it exists.  The question becomes, “What does it mean?”

To most people the Apostles were the twelve disciples that made up the inner circle of Jesus.  They were specifically chosen by him.  We see the word used that way.
(Matthew 10:2 KJV)  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Some people say that these twelve were the only real apostles and that the gift is not active any more.  This group would also tend to say that other gifts are not given any more, such as tongues and miracles.

Others believe that all the gifts are still being given by the Holy Spirit and are active today.  Since a person who now has the gift of apostle today cannot be one of the original twelve, what does the gift involve?

The word in Greek means “sent one” and goes back to the root meaning “to send.”  We think of the Twelve as being followers of Jesus.  We see how they were with Him for three years.  All true, but they ceased being The Disciples and became the Apostles at what is called the Great Commission. 
(Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
At this point they became the “sent” or “apostles.”  Beyond this we rely mainly on tradition, not history.  Tradition tells us that many of them spread out across the known and unknown world, preaching the Gospel.  Tradition says that Thomas got as far as India where a group of believers still exists that trace their roots back to the apostle.

What does that mean today?  In reality, your opinion is as good as mine.  It is probably as good as the greatest Bible scholar.  I think that the gift of apostle is given today to people who are called to be missionaries or church planters.  I think it is a special blessing of the Holy Spirit that enables some people to go into areas that are pagan, whether it be in Los Angeles or Delhi, and proclaim the truth in such a way that the church is established. 

I believe the gift is alive and well. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Opus 2011-287, Discernment Watch: Bait and Switch

It is the middle of October and already we are hearing the pagan bells of Christmas ring in the marketplace.  I am aware of the pagan roots of the date selected for the celebration.  I know about Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice.  I observe the contemporary commercial nature of the holiday.

I still love Christmas.  The celebration of the incarnation transforms the world.  The event is Biblical, don’t get distracted by the date.  The Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 6 which is the date the Catholics observe the coming of the Wise Men and most Protestants ignore.  The important fact is that God took the first step toward the cross and redemption.
(Galatians 4:4 KJV)  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
What does this have to do with discernment?  There are certain non-Christian groups that take this common error and try to make the gospel a lie. 

It works like this.  The Bible does not tell us that Jesus was born on December 25.  That means that the church has lied to us.  That means we should not celebrate Christmas.  Since the church has shown that it lies about things like this, the church probably lied about Easter also.  Notice the use of another pagan word.  Notice that they can’t even decide the date.  It keeps changing.  Therefore you should not cling to the fantasy of the resurrection and thus must discard the divinity of Christ, the atonement, salvation by grace, the trinity......  Do you see where this goes?

So lets look at truth, not attempts to use logic to deceive.  The church does not say that Jesus was born on December 25 in the year 0.  The early church in its attempt to teach doctrine, broke down the teachings of the Bible and focused on different truths at different times.  In order to leave nothing out they assigned certain days to cover each point.  Thus each year became a course in basic theology.  If you look at the name “Christmas” is clearly means “Christ’s mass.”  It was the day that the church chose to cover the Biblical teaching about the birth of Christ.  Since the Bible does not give a date, they picked what made sense to them.

To connect this with Easter is another deception of Satan.  Easter is a pagan term.  So is January, named after the pagan god, Janus.  The date changes because the resurrection occurred right after Jesus celebrated the Passover (The Last Supper) and was arrested.  The Passover is a Jewish holiday based on the Jewish calendar.  The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, not solar.  Dates are based on when the moon is full after a solstice.  I have never wanted to spend the energy to totally figure it out.  But it varies because of the uneven relationship between the time it takes the moon to go around the earth and the earth around the sun.  The date we celebrate Easter is rooted in history and the Bible. 

So when people build these sand castles and claim that the church has lied, understand that they are the ones who are stretching things.  You don’t need to celebrate Christmas.  You don’t need to celebrate Easter.  What you are commanded to do is celebrate the sacrifice represented at the Last Supper and it would seem to me it is just natural to follow that up with rejoicing at the resurrection.

Straw men do not armies make.

homo unius libri

Monday, October 10, 2011

Opus 2011-286, New Terms: Cultural Bullies

One of the major differences between true conservatives and progressives (liberals, socialists) is the matter of control.  Both groups have strong beliefs and opinions.  Both are willing to pass laws to see their dreams come to reality.  The difference is in self-image and methods.

The conservative, religious or not, believes in what is theologically called Original Sin.  For those who claim to not be Christian, they have still been infected with this by cultural teaching or personal experience.  After all they say a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.  Conservatives believe that men tend to be selfish and self centered so you cannot allow them free reign over the lives of others.  That is why our Constitution has all the checks and balances.  That is why we believe in the rule of law, not fiat.  We may think we are right but we know how dangerous it is to give anyone, even ourselves power over others.  Thus you have the American Republic.

The other side, however you want to label them, believes in the Goodness of Man.  The trouble is that Goodness is not realized in the poor huddled masses.  They have not come to awareness yet.  Only the elite, superior classes have arrived and they bear, not the White Man’s Burden, but the Wise Man’s Burden.  They have the solemn duty to try to bring the less fortunate up to the level of Goodness that is inherent in them.  It is just not realized yet.  Sometimes in order to make this glorious omelet it is necessary to break a few eggs.  This is why the Stalin’s, Mao’s and Hitler’s of the world felt justified in murdering millions.  It was for the good of humanity.  This is why the Obama’s, Reid’s and Pelosi’s of the world feel they are justified in taking your money and giving it to someone else.  It is for your own good.  This is why the Gore’s, Green Peace’s and Sierra Clubber’s of the world feel it is okay to drive you out of your cars and air conditioning.  It is for the good of the planet.  You are only a part of the planet and, as a human being, the least important part. 

Public education is on a new rampage.  We have come to the conclusion that the reason Johnny can’t read is bullying.  We are investing millions in bullying curriculum.  With that in mind I would like to suggest a new term for these people who want to run our lives:  Cultural Bullies.  They are not elitists, a new aristocracy, socialists, or mob enforcers.  They are Cultural Bullies.  They think they know what is best for others and are willing to use whatever is necessary to force people into their molds. 

Education thinks the answer to bullying is to talk to a counselor.  That translates into more government control.  Since you can’t control your own life you need Big Brother to step in and make you secure.

My personal experience is that the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose.

But I guess that makes me an uncultured bully.  It also makes me right.

homo unius libri

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Opus 2011-284, Headlines: Get Off Michelle’s Back

As I was checking Drudge the other day I saw another headline about how much it cost for Michelle Obama to go on one of her trips.  I am getting tired of this cheap shot reporting and refusal to show why this is an issue.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am no fan of either Obama.  I find them arrogant elitists who consider themselves better than us common folk.  They are social snobs who think the rules are different for them.  They are socialists who would love to set up a ruling aristocracy with themselves at the helm.  Maybe later I will tell you how I really feel.

But how about focusing on the real issues.

Michelle Obama is the first lady of the United States.  Even if she were humble and thrifty, she is still the wife of the leader of the most powerful country in the world.  When she travels she represents us, even when she is on “vacation.” 

Compare apples to apples, not oranges.  We have numbers for how much it cost for her and her friends to travel to Africa.  Let’s assume for the moment that the numbers are an accurate reflection of the actual cost.  I have yet to see a comparison to the cost of other first ladies when they traveled.  I really don’t expect the president’s wife and children to fly coach on the red-eye special.  That may be the way I fly but I don’t have the world watching me.  Are the numbers just big or are they out of line?  Am I showing what a rube I am by letting my mouth hang open and saying, “Well, gaul-ly.”

Also, how much of this cost is required by law and custom?  When heads of state travel there are certain requirements in terms of communications and personal safety.  The first lady is not the head of state but she is in that bubble of leadership.  It costs a lot of money to have an airplane escorted by fighter jets and that might be required.  It is not her fault that it is necessary.

She needs to be protected.  She would be a natural target for crazies and terrorists.  Yes, I know I am being redundant.  She would be harassed by the paparazzi and every fan of her husband’s Hope and Change. 

Her children were listed as “senior advisors.”  Considering the quality of advisors, czars and cabinet members that these people have, I am not sure that is inaccurate.  In addition to that, these are bureaucrats.  They do everything by filling out forms.  It is entirely possible that when they boarded the airplane they had to fill out a form and the closest thing on the form to check was “senior advisor.”  It probably did not have a category of “adorable, wonderful children.”  She has the right to take her children.  Who wouldn’t?  And in spite of my unceasing criticism of every other idea and behavior the Obama’s demonstrate, the one area that I have appreciated from the beginning is that they seem to be good parents and a solid family. 

It is possible that the high cost is a real issue but I don’t know that from the reporting.  We conservatives complain about the bias of the media.  It exists but that is only part of the problem.  There is also the sloppy, inaccurate reporting that comes from sloth.  We should not give them a pass just because we can chuckle with glee when they nail snobs to the wall.  We are better than that, or we should be.

homo unius libri

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Opus 2011-283, Discernment Watch: Seeker Friendly Church Models

Years ago I remember someone sharing that the picture of a perfect pastor was a mid-level executive for Sears, Roebuck and Co.  It was a statement of how the church was trading the Biblical model for one generated by Madison Avenue.

I think we are doing much the same thing when it comes to our style of worship.  We hear about the church being seeker friendly.  We want the pagans to be able to come in, feel at home and be prefab Christians because the church has adjusted to what they want.  Flying in the face of this is Romans 12:1-2.  Let me point out how it is expressed in some other translations and paraphrases:
(Romans 12:2 ASV)  And be not fashioned according to this world...

(Romans 12:2 BBE)  And let not your behaviour be like that of this world,...
 (Romans 12:2 CEV)  Don't be like the people of this world,...

I thought I would quote a few translations that do not use the word “conform.”

Most churches today follow the Burger-King model, “Have it your way.”  They ask themselves, “What is it that people want in a church?”  They have little crowns to put on visitors so they will feel special.  The idea is that they are wonderful and we are glad to have them.  We will be glad to change anything that will make them feel at home.  This may work selling hamburgers and cars but it doesn’t work when you are trying to get people to admit to being sinners in need of grace.  These churches seem to have forgotten the words of Paul,
(1 Corinthians 1:23 KJV)  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin, not your worship team.

Traditional churches followed the McDonald’s model.  Think of your VBS program and the way you run your Sunday School.  These churches try to reach the adults by appealing to the children.  Remember when your children demanded that you stop at McDonald’s?  They wanted to get to the play area, climb on the statue of Ronald McDonald and get the toy in their happy meal.  And it works, at least when you are selling hamburgers.

Out in California, and increasingly in other states we have a home-grown chain called In-N-Out.  It was started by a Christian and last time I looked still had Bible references somewhere on the cups.  The founder used a more Biblical model.  First, he provided a solid product.  Every since I was a kid, everyone in Southern California would light up at the idea of going to In-N-Out.  They have the greatest hamburgers, the best fries, and shakes made with real ice cream. 

That brings us to the second principle.  They have a limited product line.  Their idea of variety is offering cheese on your hamburger.  They have three flavors of shake:  Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.  The big choice you have is whether you want onions or not.  If you add up the cost of the items on their combo you will find that it comes out exactly the same as ordering them individually.

They have limited advertising.  They do some but most of their growth has come from word of mouth.  When everyone knows where to get a great, reasonably priced hamburger, advertising just raises the price of the product.  If I want a steak, pizza, a taco or sushi, I don’t go to In-N-Out.  If I want a hamburger with peppercorns, jalapeno, bean sprouts or chili on top, I don’t go to In-N-Out.  If I want a great, reasonably priced burger, served quickly and cheerfully, I know my first choice.

Which points out another factor:  They treat their employees well.  They are a legend on this.  This is the gold standard of fast food employers.  You see, to paraphrase, “If the cashier ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy.”

This has made growth slow.  In-N-Out has been around longer than McDonald’s.  They are not a world wide tradition.  They are a Southern California tradition.  I know that is not a great recommendation, but in the land of fruits, nuts and tofu, it speaks of the strength of their model.

Perhaps the church could learn something from this.  We need to be more than “have it your way,” Happy Meals and fast service.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Opus 2011-282, Spiritual Gifts: Exhortation Revisited

One of the great blessings of the internet and blogs is that we can grow spiritually as well as intellectually.  The interaction provided by the comment section allows us to be rebuked and corrected.  It allows the gift of exhortation to be practiced in full voice. 

It could be that you have the spiritual gift of exhortation.  Some of you encourage.  Some rebuke.  Some correct.  These are all expressions of exhortation. 

So get out there and leave comments.  When you read something verging on heresy, let the author know that you are watching and that the Holy Spirit is telling you there are issues.  If someone takes an unpopular position that is right, let the author know you support him.  The body of Christ can extend over the internet.

Perhaps one of the modern “translations” will label the gift of exhortation as “commentator” or “blogger” or even “troll.”

homo unius libri

Monday, October 3, 2011

Opus 2011-281, Pumice Proverbs: Old Dogs

Here is my response to “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”

Old dogs

Don’t need

New Tricks

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Opus 2011-280, Onward Christian Soldiers

Most of us have seen the picture.  It is from World War II and shows Adolph Hitler walking with a group of his Nazi leaders.  They are all dressed up like soldiers.  They are sporting mirror polished jack boots, jodhpurs, peaked hats and a chest full of medals.  If you did not know better you would think you were watching a bunch of little boys playing at soldier or a group of true warriors. 

What we are really looking at is a bunch of sociopaths playing wannabe.  None of these guys had ever stood up to an enemy or done anything requiring courage.  Instead they had sent out their thugs to intimidate normal citizens and their armies to destroy neighboring civilizations.  It was all a big game to them.

This is like so many people calling themselves Christian.  They have the uniform.  They know the pass words.  They have a great self image.  But they are not really living “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”  They are not really going “onward as to war.”  It is just a big game.

I personally want to be a follower of “Christ, the Royal Master.”  The real heroes of World War II were not the generals with their swagger sticks and personal servants.  The real heroes were the privates hunkered down behind a tree with a rifle in their hands.  The real heroes were the ones who thought time to finish a candy bar was a treat.  I saw the difference in Vietnam.  I visited the air conditioned dining hall of the order-giving class.  I touched the linen table clothes and saw the senior enlisted men standing at attention with towels over their arm waiting to wait on their commanders.  I was also out in the field where the grunts thought a warm coke was a luxury.

I don’t expect to get any medals.  I don’t expect to get famous.  I don’t really want any of that.  What I want is to stand before the throne on judgment day and hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  That doesn’t come from smoke and mirrors but from substance.

homo unius libri

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Opus 2011-279, Pumice Proverbs: Sticks and Stones

I have a number of sayings I put on my notebooks at school to try and make the kids think.  Some are totally original.  Some are inspired by students.  Some are simply quotes from the Bible.  I thought I would share a few of them with you. 

Here is the first one I came up with.

Sticks and stones
May bread my bones,
But words impair my healing.

homo unius libri