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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opus 2011-342, Christian Cliches: Salt of the earth

Have you ever been called “the salt of the earth?”  It is usually a compliment unless you happen to be in the anti-salt, health food group.  The phrase comes from the Bible.
(Matthew 5:13 KJV)  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
As you can see, the term originally referred to followers of Jesus.  It tells us a lot about what it means to be a believer.

Salt is never the major ingredient.  Even in things like bacon, salt is a small percentage of the total.  Are you a believer?  Do you feel like you are a minority?  You are.  Get used to it.

Salt adds savor as it says in this verse.  That can be good or bad.  Here it is pointing out how salt is added to food to bring out the flavor.  That is good.  Christians may be a small part of the population but we exert a tremendous influence on the direction society goes.  Or at least we used to do so.  I fear that we may be losing our savor.  The prospects for the world are bad, for us they are eternal.

I guess we could also concede a point to the medical gurus.  Sometimes salt raises the blood pressure.  This is obvious when we take a stand on abortion, abstinence, homosexuality or any other moral issue.  We get people’s blood pressure up.  Of course in society that can be a healthy thing.

Salt also preserves.  It was one of the few methods that ancient times had to preserve food.  The presence of believers goes a long way toward holding back God’s wrath and the decay that comes in godless society.

So being the salt of the earth means a lot more than the popular understanding.  Properly understood it means that we change the world around us.

Be salty.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Opus 2011-341, If Mama Ain’t Happy...

Today as I was listening to Alistair Begg he reminded me that my wife would be coming back tomorrow.  He wasn’t talking about my wife.  He was talking about how if we knew Jesus was returning tomorrow we would find it easier to live right today.  The problem is when you think you have plenty of time to get your act together.  You know, “Today I will party.  There is plenty of time to repent later.”  You have heard it.  Maybe you have thought it.

When judgement is eminent, we get more serious about reform.

My wife has been out of town for about a month.  In a month I have developed my own way of doing things.  Tomorrow I have to return to the adjustments of not living alone.  I am not talking about getting the laundry done and running the dish washer.  Those are no brainers.  I am talking about all the things that I never notice when I am by myself.  It is time to get out the vacuum.  It is time to get those coffee beans out of the corners in the kitchen.  It is time to put my multiple guitars someplace besides the middle of the living room floor, along with the guitar stands, chords, song books, tuners, picks and anything else that has migrated. 

I can no longer store the groceries I bought on the counter.  Now they need to be put on the shelf.  The salad material that is comfortably spread through the refrigerator will need to be neatly packed into the bins designed for that.  The unfolded clothes that are in convenient stacks will need to find their way to drawers.

You get the picture?  Or maybe the picture is too horrible to your organized, tidy mind.  Life is about to change.  I would say go back to normal but I am not sure I remember “normal.”  I am sure I will find out. 

What my wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her.  What she doesn’t know won’t hurt me either.  With Jesus it is a little different.  He may tarry in His return but He is here all the time.  When you are dealing with God you need to realize that you can’t hide anything.  You have heard it said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Change the name and take a look at your life, “If God ain’t happy,...”

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-340, Spiritual Gifts: Evangelism

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

If you are around evangelical churches you have probably had some contact with the concept of a full time evangelist.  They are preachers who work full time in the field, going from church to church holding revivals.  Probably the best known to my generation would be Billy Graham.  Today we might look to Greg Laurie or someone else who hold regular crusades around the country.

Some of these might be demonstrating the gift of evangelism, some might just be good at persuasion and organization.  I don’t say that in judgement, just as a statement of reality.  The gift of evangelism is not limited to professionals who can sway crowds. 

The word “evangelist” is a compound word in the Greek.  The first part means “good.”  The second part is the word used for “angel” and means “message” or “messenger.”  Thus “evangelism” means “good message” or “good news.” 

One of the early evangelists was Philip. 
(Acts 21:8 KJV)  And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
The word “evangelist” is the same as the word for the gift so Philip had the gift.  He did do some traveling and was the one who spoke to the Ethiopian eunuch and led him to the faith, but notice the reference to the “seven.”  That refers to his official role in the early church.   He was one of the original seven deacons chosen by the church to supervise the food given to the widows. 

Paul brings up the gift when he is writing to Timothy.
(2 Timothy 4:5 KJV)  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Was this instruction to all pastors or just a word for Timothy to use the gift he had?  You can provide your own answer.

I think some people have a special knack for sharing the good news with others.  They have a timing and choice of words that are very effective in sharing about Jesus.  That does not relieve the rest of us though.  The role for all believers is the role of witness.  Only some have the gift of evangelist.  All have the responsibility to witness.

You may not be the champion evangelist but look for a chance to put in a good word for Jesus.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 28, 2011

Opus 2011-339, Monday Pulpit: Benefits of Age

At our church the pastor’s wife plays the piano and leads the musical portion of the worship service.  She does an excellent job.  I have begun to try to be early so that I can begin to worship during the prelude music.  I am able to tune out all the chatter and begin to focus on the things of God as she plays.

As she was going through song after song that I knew I was reminded that the young members of our congregation were getting little from this time.  Almost every song she played was one that I had been singing for years and often I knew the words.  They were saturated with meaning.  I began to think on the benefits of being older.  I think worship is easier when you are in the last quarter of your life.  You have the kind of foundation that makes things rich.

One benefit is the Familiar.  I was raised in a time when we had what is now called praise music, but we called them choruses.  We enjoyed them but did not let them set the agenda as is often done today.  I feasted on a steady diet of hymns and gospel songs that were sung often enough to cement them in my memory.  We used hymnals with four parts and I learned to sing the harmony and do a little reading of music.  When I hear something today I don’t need to try to figure it out.  It is familiar.  That is an advantage.

Another benefit is the Settled.  By this time in life I know what I believe.  I have made my choices and my commitments.  I know heresy when I hear it.  I know fluff when I see it.  I can listen for what God is saying to me without being forced to evaluate every nuance.

I know what is Important.  As an mature adult I don’t get sidetracked by every little trend that comes down the pike.  It doesn’t matter to me if the soloist has an earring in his ear.  I can roll with that but if he wants to sing nonsense, I know it for what it is.  I can bond with Calvinists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Independents, and even Catholics if they have trusted Jesus for their salvation.  I don’t bat an eye when they try to convince me I need to get the “gift” or be baptized a certain way.

And the End is in sight.  I was telling my children the other day that when they buy me books I don’t need the quality leather editions anymore unless they would like to inherit them.  I am old enough that a paperback will probably last as long as I will.  Or at least as long as my mind.  That doesn’t bother me because I am one who has the hope.  I am not packing my bags just yet.  I still have a lot to give and will do what I can for the kingdom, but I can see the finish line ahead.

Prelude music gets me in the mood to meet with the Living God in the presence of His people.  After the prelude we sing together, pray together and listen together.  What a glorious day.

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Opus 2011-338, Computers Are Stupid

The students I work with are always surprised when I tell them computers are stupid.  “How can this be?”  I point out that they are fast and have almost perfect memory but they can only do what they are told.  Maybe that will change someday, but the computers we interact with are dumber than middle school students.

A good example is the title of my last post.  As I was typing, my flying fingers kept typing “message” instead of “massage.”  My speed produced errors.  The computer’s speed simply reproduced them quickly.  Not once did the computer mark the word for being misspelled.  Why?  Because it wasn’t misspelled.  It was correct for a different word.  I knew that and corrected it through the body of the text.  I forgot to change the title.  If the computer was so smart it would have marked all of the words as wrong, including the title.  If I was so smart, I would have caught it in the title.  I also misnumbered one of my posts a few days ago. 

Publishing a blog can be so humbling.  But keep in mind that although my proofreading and spelling may be weak, my opinions are always gold.

If you don’t believe it, just ask me.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Opus 2011-337, On the Street: Foot Message

Someone dropped a business card on the ground.  I did not want to pick it up.  I don’t know where it had been, but I knew where it was.  I could read the giant print, “FOOT MASSAGE.”  That got my attention.  This is a part of life that does not cross my mind much.  So I bent over far enough to get a look at it.

All it was advertising was a foot massage for 25 dollars an hour.  It was not from a podiatrist.  If was from someone who gave foot massages (feet massage, feet massages?).  I wish this person success.  I salute their entrepreneurial spirit.  Creativity is important.  Niche markets can be successful.  I figure it is a good sign.  I thought we were in a time of recession.  It must not be as bad as I thought because in a time of economic crisis people have money for something like this.

I wonder if government subsidies are involved.  Is it covered by insurance?  Does Obamacare have a section with funds designated? 

The questions keep coming.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 25, 2011

Opus 2011-336, Basic Beliefs: Life After Death

Christians believe that life does not end when the body stops working.  We look forward to the resurrection which I have already touched on.  What happens after that?  One of the words we use is “heaven.”  It is usually a concept that is misunderstood and, frankly, wrong.

First, lets look at the average, everyday view of heaven.  It usually shows up in cartoons involving lots of clouds, white robes, wings and harps.  Sometimes it involves a guy playing Peter, God behind a desk or angels of some age.  There are often pearly gates and a big book.  Taken individually vague hints of each of these can be found in the Bible.  They don’t, however, generally come together as a description of what eternal life will be like for us.  When put together in the popular image they become totally false.

If “Heaven” in the popular culture is not a Christian concept, what does the Bible teach? 

First, we have the physical resurrection.  We will be resurrected to bodies that are superficially like the ones we have now.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples, He came in what seemed to be a normal body.  He invited them to touch the scars left by the crucifixion.  He asked for something to eat.  All of this was done to verify that He was a physical being.  Start there.

But it will be physical with a difference.  Jesus was able to move into secure rooms with locked doors.  The sci-fi concept of teleportation comes to mind.  It will be an existence with no pain.  It is safe to assume that the sex drive will be trumped by something better.  There will be no marriage.  If we live eternally there will be no need for children.  There are many indicators of a level of living we cannot understand now, but it will not be ethereal spirits floating around in an eerie void. 

The earth will be redone.  Part of the concept of the end times is the destruction of the earth.  It will be changed just as our bodies will be changed.  A New Jerusalem will be built on a new Earth.  This is where the carnivore lion will lie down with the herbivorous lamb.  We won’t need the sun because the glory of God will light everything. 

It is going to be an existence that is so wonderful and different we cannot comprehend it.  In trying to explain it to my son I pointed out that when he was two years old he could spend hours playing with his blocks.  Surfing the internet would have been beyond his comprehension.  Now he can’t remember what he found so fascinating about those blocks.  Take that difference, multiply it by infinity and you begin to approach what eternal life will be like.  Keep in mind it is being prepared by Jesus who is the creative God of the Universe.  We will not have a chance to get bored.

Compare that to what the Koran describes.  My memory has a picture of kicking back in a hammock under some palm trees with a stream of wine and lots of dates served by beautiful young women.  That might do me for an afternoon but not for an eternity.

The eastern religions have a long series of incarnations in which you strive to reach of point of goodness in which you pass into Nirvana and cease to be aware because awareness is misery.

We believe in an afterlife with our individuality intact as we surf the eternal internet with instant downloads, awesome interactions and the inventor of the whole thing cheering us on.  It will bring new meaning to intuitive.

Plan on it.  See you there?

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Opus 2011-235, Blessings on Top of Blessings

The problems with our culture and world have not gone away.  The focus is different.

Today we are reminded of the long list of blessings that permeate our lives.  I won’t bore you with my list.  I am reminded that even in the times of tremendous persecution in history, people have recognized the blessings of God.  I love to gripe.  Today God grabs my chain and shortens it.  It is kind of like He is saying, “Look at me, boy, when I talk to you.”

Focus on them today because you focus on Him.  Don’t lose the focus tomorrow.

I pray that God will give you the eyes to see what He is doing in you, for you, through you and around you.

Grace and peace.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Opus 2011-334, Plow and Crown: Another Approach

If you are interested the thinking in this series of posts you might be interested in a three part (so far) post from Mike-istan.  A key quote in the first of the series is, “It is an existential battle between those who are driven to rule over others, and those content to rule only themselves.”  His terms are different but the concern is similar.  Instead of Plow and Crown he calls it, “Concord Bridge or Fort Sumter.”  This is part one.  From there you can link to parts two and three if you find it interesting.  If not, then don’t.  In some areas I am an advocate of choice.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-333, Headlines: Republican Presidential Debate, Washington, D.C.

I would not usually comment on this but I knew someone with tickets so I was able to attend in person.  Did you see me?  I was wearing a blue coat and a red tie.  It was an interesting experience.  The format included questions from people involved in the sponsoring organizations, Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.  The questions were well chosen.  Wolf Blitzer tried to keep the candidates on track.  He did a pretty good job of involving everyone.  Some actually tried to answer the questions but there was very little chance for meaningful exploration of differences.  Perhaps these things should be called Presidential Sound Bites instead of debates. 

It was a frustrating experience.  I support the concept of including all serious candidates but it is too big a group for meaningful dialogue.  It went for two hours but if you take the 120 minutes, deduct 12 minutes for commercial breaks and another 10 for preliminaries that leaves 98 minutes.  Even if you don’t subtract the time taken to ask the questions that comes to about 12 minutes apiece. 

I don’t know that it would be commercially viable but it might be better to have a series of 15 minute or 30 minute sessions with combinations of two or three candidates with more freedom to interact.  More people might watch shorter sessions and more substance might be addressed.  The key word here is “might.”

On this day before Thanksgiving I am grateful to live in a country that still allows a wide variety of freedoms.  Let us hope and pray that the courts, politicians and unelected agencies are thwarted in their attempts to make liberty just a word on a coin.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Opus 2011-332, Healthy Insights: Exercise Is Good for You?

I was driving to work.  Along the side of the road was a health nut riding his bike to work.  I have always wondered if these people sweat and if the people that work with them enjoy being around them all day, but that is a matter for another day.  What I noticed was that he had both knees swathed with ace bandages.  You see this kind of thing all the time.  Athletic types seem to need to wrap their joints.  This made my wonder, “If riding the bike is supposed to be healthy, why is he wrapping his knees?  Is it necessary or does he think it adds to the “cool” factor?

You may not be reading the same stuff I read but everywhere people are telling us we need more exercise or we need to do this or that to be healthy.  Okay.  Then why do they all come with the caveat to talk to our doctor before we begin the regime?  Is it healthy or not?  Most of the time when I ask doctors questions like this they puff and blow but it becomes clear that they don’t have a clue either.  I noticed this when I started asking about walking for health.  How fast should you walk?  What distance should you cover?  Does it need to be every day?  You get different answers from different doctors and even from the same doctor on different visits. 

Let’s face it, there are no definitive answers to our quest for certainly.  Often we just have to get active and see what the results are.  We are all different.  Most people are not effected by salting their french fries.  Some have their blood pressure shoot up.  Which are you?  Your doctor doesn’t know any more than you do.  Experiment and find out.  If you have the kind of health problems that would require talking to your doctor before you ride a bicycle, I would suggest that you already know it.  If you don’t already know it the doctor’s advice won’t be understood either.

Oh, and be reminded that I am not a doctor or health care professional.  My opinions are for entertainment only and are not offered as a guarantee of success.  Or something like that.

Whatever happened to common sense?

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-331, Discernment Watch: Historical Gag Orders

One of the books I am slowly working through is Pensees by Blaise Pascal.  It is something that I can read in little bites and gives me something to chew on.  It is also one of those books that is part of our cultural heritage and it doesn’t hurt to build foundations.

I came across this statement that I thought was really interesting.
“786 On the fact that neither Josephus, nor Tacitus, nor other historians have spoken of Jesus Christ.—So far is this from telling against Christianity, that on the contrary it tells for it. For it is certain that Jesus Christ has existed; that His religion has made a great talk; and that these persons were not ignorant of it. Thus it is plain that they purposely concealed it, or that, if they did speak of it, their account has been suppressed or changed.”
This gives us insights into the way the modern media works.  Reporters and talking heads know the truth.  They know much about what is going on.  The problem is that they have an agenda and an ideology that dictates what they report and how they report it.  So when President Obama says something really ignorant, it is ignored.  When he does something that deserves impeachment, no one hears about it.  When Herman Cain has an anonymous, vague accusation hinted at, they are all over it.  They are reporters in the tradition of Josephus and Tacitus.

We may not know all of the contemporary truth because so much of it is hidden from us, but we can know the eternal truths because truth will find a way to express itself and because the giants, on whose shoulders we stand, risked their lives to get the word out.  Or in the final words of the Declaration of Independence,
“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
I pray that when we are called on we will be willing to also stand for truth.

Pascal, Blaise.  Pensees.  Project Gutenberg,  Kindle Highlight Loc. 4293-96.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 21, 2011

Opus 2011-330, Healthy Insights: Toxic Potatoes

As I adjust my life to diabetes I find myself perusing the literature involving the condition.  It is like reading the political or religious blogs.  People have opinions all over the spectrum and they are all right.  One site I go back to occasionally is posted by David Mendosa.  He had a post recently that reminded me not to take all these “experts” too seriously.  It was titled “Potato Poison.”

You can check it out if you want but the brief synopsis is that the potato is part of the deadly nightshade family of plants.  It contains deadly toxins that are ruining our health.  He also points out how many potatoes everyone eats a year but doesn’t explain why the life span is extending on this toxic diet. 

I don’t think you need to worry about the toxins in potatoes.  You might need to worry about the calories.  If you are diabetic you might need to consider the carbohydrates.  I say “might” because everyone is different.  For me it seems to have been enough to get my weight under control.  You are not me. 

Use common sense.  Think.  Act on what you know.  Enjoy the discussions of people who make their living getting you to read their blogs.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-329, Plow and Crown: Liberty and Property

(Leviticus 25:10 KJV)  And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

Even in the days of Moses liberty was equated with property.  This was a deliberate step away from the Crown philosophy of Egypt.  My understanding is that in Ancient Egypt all land belonged to the Pharaoh or to the temples.  Private property was not part of the equation.  That is a pattern that we see down through history.  When people began immigrating to the New World they were coming from monarchies that kept strict control of land.  Primogeniture was the policy.  That meant that great estates were not to be broken down but were to be passed on to the heir intact.  We saw the nobility closing off the commons of villages and taking away what little land was available.  Land was liberty.

In Feudal Europe the land belonged to the king.  In granting a fief he was loaning the land to the Lord as long as he agreed to serve the king.  It is much more complicated than this and the battle between Plow and Crown was slowly breaking it down but one of the freedoms that pulled people to America was the freedom to own land.

In the writings of the Founders you find frequent reference to property.  Even in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence the original three rights were “Life, Liberty and Property.”  This is why we have the protections against search and seizure in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution,
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”
And we have the concept of “just compensation” in the 5th Amendment.

Real Estate is the foundation of political power.  In the Roman Republic you could only be elected to a political office if you had enough wealth to qualify.  Only the very rich could hold positions of power.  In the England our Founding Fathers knew, you needed to have a certain amount of wealth in order to vote.  Often that was stated in terms of owning property.  When they were writing our Constitution some wanted to insert that as a requirement to hold political office but they were voted down.

In modern times we are seeing the Crown gnawing away at the sanctity of property.  It starts with simple things like zoning laws.  Who could be against that?  At least that is usually done by local elected officials who can be dealt with.  But it has gotten much more serious in my life time.  We see the War on Drugs making it possible for law enforcement to confiscate property without due process.  In a recent Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London, we see the right of imminent domain being extended to local governments who simply want to pass the land to their political supporters.  You have the laws about endangered species and wetlands making it impossible for people to build homes on land that belongs to them.  We see massive land grabs by the federal government as they declare new National Parks and National Monuments.  Just this week I was reading about the federal government trying to extend a ban on new mining around the Grand Canyon.  We see land being designated as U.N. Biozones.  The inroads into liberty are on the march. 

The Crown is on the move.  Will the Plow respond while it still has a chance?

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Opus 2011-328, Healthy Insights: Smaller Feet

I have noticed another result of losing weight.  My feet seem to have gotten smaller.

On me, smaller feet are hard to notice.  My shoes range from 15 to 18 depending on the style, when they were made, and where they were made.  I have large feet by any definition. 

But I have noticed that shoes that used to be tight now seem to be comfortable.  I never thought of having fat feet.  I guess it makes sense.  If my wedding ring doesn’t need a crow bar and grease to come off and my watch flops on my wrist, it makes sense that my toes have more room to wiggle. 

I don’t expect to be able to walk into the local shoe store and pick my style, but it is nice to know that my shoes fit better.

Count your blessings.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Opus 2011-327, Tax Dollars at Work: On the Road, One More Time

I will be traveling and staying with family for the next week.  That can mean anything from internet connections that fulfill all my dreams or a daily visit from the snailmail man.  I will try to post on a regular basis, but as much as I like you guys, blood is thicker than wifi.

One of the great things about being lined up at the public trough instead of actually producing wealth is the vacation time that is available.  I had to prepare work for the substitute filling in.  I will need to process it all when I get back.  I will have to clean up all the mess.  But, I get to go.  Seriously, thank you for all the taxes you pay.  I would point out that I pay taxes too, but I don't think that would reduce your pain.

Have a great Thanksgiving season and remember that this is another time of the year when we know the real Reason for the Season.  (Hint:  it wasn't the Indians)

Grace and peace.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Opus 2011-326, Tax Dollars at Work: Whatever Works

I recently posted some comments on a billboard with the theme “Whatever works.”  I finally got the internet address down and checked it out.  What I found was not surprising.  It is a site called "Let's Move."  It is paid for with your tax dollars.  It is pushing the agenda of Michelle Obama.  That in itself is not evil.  Most First Ladies have a theme.  We all remember the phrase that has become a part of our culture, “Just say no.”  My problem is the way in which the current first lady is willing to use the power of coercion inherent in the government to achieve her ends.  In addition to the bully pulpit she is trying to get laws passed and taxes imposed to force us to fall in line with her wisdom.

I was not aware it was her website when I criticized it in a previous post.  Honest.  But looking back I find that my concerns about “Whatever works” are consistent with the political philosophy of her and her husband.

What really hurts is that I am paying for this.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opus 2011-325, Basic Beliefs: The Resurrection

One of the clearest teachings in the Bible involves the idea of the resurrection.  It has two branches.  You must believe both to call yourself a Christian.

The first is the resurrection of Jesus.  The Gospels clearly teach that Jesus died on a cross, was buried and on the third day came back to life.  The death is clear.  The Romans, who knew death when they saw it, pushed a spear up into his side just to make sure.  The return to life is also clear.  It is emphasized that it was a physical resurrection, not just a “spiritual” resurrection.

Jesus went out of His way to reinforce this.
(John 20:27 KJV)  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And in a longer passage it becomes clear that the gospel is underlining the fact of the physical resurrection.  You see, even the disciples, who were there, had questions.  Jesus answered them two ways.
(Luke 24:39-43 KJV)  Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.  And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?  And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.  And he took it, and did eat before them.
First, He let them examine Him.  He acknowledged their concern and answered it.  And then He ate.  Ghosts don’t eat.  We have all seen the cartoons with Casper the Friendly Ghost taking a bite of cake and having it fall to the floor.

And yet people still try to deny that Jesus was physically resurrected.  They are like fish the don’t want to believe in the existence of water.

The second branch is the resurrection of the dead.  Notice I said “the dead.”  This will involve both believers and non-believers.  Everyone will be resurrected.  Non-believers will be resurrected for the judgement.  Believers will be resurrected to live eternally in the presence of God.

For our purposes I want to underscore the resurrection of believers.  Read through I Corinthians 15, if you have any doubts about it.  Paul starts off talking about the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV)  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
That seems clear.  Why do people who call themselves Christian still dispute it?  But like most heresy, it is not new.  Even Paul was dealing with this issue.
(1 Corinthians 15:12 KJV)  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
And then he makes that statement that brings me to why the resurrection of Jesus is so important:
(1 Corinthians 15:13-14 KJV)  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Everything that involves being a Christian hinges on the physical resurrection of Jesus.  If He was not raised, out faith is “vain.”  That means useless.  Read the rest of the chapter and next time someone tells you some weird story about what happened at the cross don’t even try to be polite.  You can feel free to laugh.  And have pity.  They have no hope.

I trust that you do.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opus 2011-324, Discernment Watch: Whatever Works

I didn’t catch the product but the big letters were, “Whatever works.”  The billboard showed a little girl holding a piece of watermelon in front of her face with the caption, “She thinks it is astronaut food.”  I guess the idea was that you could get kids to eat healthy if you tricked them into it.  I guess the creative type that thought this up had not heard that they were shutting down the shuttles and there isn’t much market for astronauts any more.

The bigger problem is that this philosophy is the marching music in too much of our culture:  schools, government, church.  We have become primarily pragmatists.  I image that was the logic of Hitler trying for the final solution. 

“Whatever works” means that you lie if it gets you what you want.  “Whatever works” means you cheat, kill, betray, or destroy if it gives you what you want.  “Whatever works” sets aside truth, duty and honor.  “Whatever works” means that the ends justify the means.

“Whatever works” doesn’t.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Opus 2011-323, Healthy Insights: Wrinkles

So you want to lose weight?  If you are concerned because of your looks you might want to think again.  One of the results of losing weight is wrinkles. 

You see, your skin has adjusted to accommodate your mass.  You might even have some stretch marks to prove it.  When you get rid of the stuffing, all that extra skin does not go away.  Walla, wrinkles.  This is even more true when you get older.  Many people shed mass when they get older, that is why they become prune like.

I have lost weight.  I have gained wrinkles.  Many of them are in places that you don’t have to see but they are still there.

Of course, if you are losing weight for health reasons the wrinkles are secondary, or should be.  Such is the case for me.  I can deal with a few wrinkles if it means I don’t need to pop pills or give myself shots.

You need to weigh your priorities, not just you body.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 14, 2011

Opus 2011-322, Have We Turned the Corner, Part 2?

Is it over?

It is not a new question.  Western civilization was asking it in the late 1700's.  In America the answer was a revolution and a miracle.  In France there was a revolution and chaos.  In England there was a renewal.  Two of the responses were beneficial.  One was ugly.  What was the difference?  One key factor was the attitude toward the things of God. 

France rejected God.  They made no bones about turning churches into stables and mocking the creator.  Short-term, it resulted in the Reign of Terror and the justice of kangaroo courts and the guillotine.  Long term they paid for it with blood and the wars brought on by the ambition of Napoleon.   It is still demanding payment.

America had a war but it had a healing because its values were rooted in Biblical beliefs.  Were all the leaders Christians as we understand the meaning of the word?  No.  But they accepted the values and moral teachings of Christianity.  They may have rejected the theology but they embraced the idea of a God and Divine purpose.  That puts a limit on how far you can go into hatred and gives a reason to work together.  The turning point in the Constitutional Convention was the observation by Benjamin Franklin that when they met to declare independence they had started with daily prayer.  He suggested that maybe they should be calling on God again.  They did and we were given a Constitution.  People differ on where Franklin was spiritually but his words brought the leaders back to the feet of the Almighty.

England avoided war.  It was poised to go the way of France.  Enter John Wesley and what was called the Methodist revival.  They were laughed at and disparaged.  They were persecuted, beaten, thrown in jail and even killed.  They brought revival.  It was expressed in tangible ways from the end of the slave trade to the founding of the SPCA. 

Revival can happen.  Think about the picture of the valley of dry bones.  Read about Hezekiah finding the law in the ruins.  Consider Ezra and Nehemiah.  God can bring revival.  He has done it before, He can do it again.

It must start in individuals.  As individuals we must be willing to call on Him and respond in obedience.  Individuals make up groups and organizations.  Groups make up a nation.  Think of the discussion Abraham had with God about preserving Sodom and Gomorrah.  All it would have taken was ten righteous men.  Do you know nine more?

Where is your life?  Where is your country?  Where is our future?

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Opus 2011-321, Monday Pulpit: Means of Grace

Actually this should be called Thursday Pulpit because it was stirred up at the Wednesday evening service.  The pastor has been going through a series on basic beliefs.  The emphasis on this occasion was the place of scripture. 

About half way through he said something that made me want to say, “I knew that.”  True, but I had not stopped to consider it.  I don’t know if they were his words or a quote from a book he was using.  Either way it is not original to me.  He said we “should regard the study of Scripture as a means of grace like baptism or the Eucharist.”  We don’t look at the sacraments as means of grace like they do in the Catholic church but I understood what he meant.

When we study the Word it opens doors for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, minds and souls.  It becomes an avenue of grace.  This clicked in for me.  This is why my morning times of worship and study have been such a blessing to me.  It is not an empty ritual, it is a “means of grace.” 

I like that.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-320, Have We Turned the Corner, Part 1?

I was listening to a podcast and the concern was broached, “Has America turned the corner?  Are we beyond the point of recovery?  Are we in decline?”  I don’t remember the answer but the question is one that I have heard directly or indirectly many times.

At school we had just reviewed the fall of Rome.  This usually refers to the empire in the west and is said to have occurred in A.D. 476.  The date is a matter of convenience.  We want everything neat and clean.  It wasn’t quite that simple.  If you had been alive in 476 you would not have noticed any big change.  The date is picked because it was the date of the first non-Italian emperor.  From that point on the emperors were immigrants.  They dressed like Romans, spoke Latin and ate the Italian food of the day, but they were not “real” Romans.  The decline started long before 476.  Rome struggled on in the west after 476. 

In the middle of living life people don’t always recognize the significant events.  Ask yourself, “Has American fallen?  Has the acme of our culture passed?  Are we on a long downhill slide?”  Most people don’t care.  They have a party tonight and a deadline at work next week.  Don’t bother them with the status of civilization.

But some of us do care.  We obviously are in times of moral decay and aimless social priorities.  I have children.  I hope to have grandchildren.  As a reader who gets to teach history, I am aware of what a bright spot America has been in the struggles of history.  Never, nowhere, no way have so many lived so well for so long.  Is it over?

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Opus 2011-319, Pumice Proverbs: Question and Answers

This is the bit of advice on the back of my notebook at school,

Questions are answered

by the ears,

not the mouth.

The kids don't seem to be able to figure it out.   And they won't be quiet long enough for enlightenment.

Opus 2011-318, A Good Word for Loners

Why does everyone tell me I need to share my feelings more?  I don’t want to share my feelings.  I get bored when you share yours.  It is not that I don’t care.  It is just that I don’t care.  I tend to be an introvert.  I had a pastor share once that an introvert gained energy from solitude and was drained by being with others.  An extrovert would be charged up by being in a group and bored by himself.  I doubt if it was original to him but it has a good point.

Alister Begg once commented on how everyone has times when they want to share something with their father, even after he had died.  I have not had that experience.  I had a lot of love and still have great respect for my father.  He raised four boys who all walked the straight path.  But he was my father, not by buddy.  When I worked with him on a daily basis we could go all day without saying much.  It was not our style.  I have never been someone who has to call and hear someone’s voice.  I am a loner, not a pack animal.

Perhaps bears and wolves would be a good comparison.  Bears are loners and do their own thing.  They raise their family but don’t run with others.  They don’t have a pecking order unless you want to call claiming a specific range as a pecking order. 

Wolves are pack animals.  They have a pecking order.  Maybe a growling order would be a better term.  They know who is top dog.  If they are like dogs they will sleep in a pile. 

There is another characteristic of pack animals.  In people it is sinister.  The leader of the pack tends to be a dictator.  The others are okay with that.  In humans I think that they tend to think that everyone thinks the way they do.  If they don’t they should.  As a result they are more into control and forcing conformity.  People who are loners tend to make more allowance for others having different opinions.  This idea could simply be me trying to make us loners superior, so feel free to do your own thinking and application.

Bears just want to be left alone.  They are capable of duty and responsibility.  They raise their young and are most dangerous when they are with their young (their time of being pack animals).  Then they move on.

Bears and wolves are animals.  They were not created in the image of God so we need to be careful when making comparisons.  But we can see parallels.  Both approaches are normal within reasonable bounds. 

Are you a soloist (a loner) or a member of the orchestra?  What is your style.  Don’t let others force you into their mold.  There is a place for both.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 11, 2011

Opus 2011-317, Mushroom Theology

One of the central points of the Protestant Reformation was sola scriptura.  Scripture is to be the central point of our understanding of truth.  Yet so many people don’t know much about their Bible.  I was teaching a class of young adults.  They had been raised in the church.  When I tried to get them to quote I John 1:9 I got nothing but blank stares.  I tried to give them a clue, “If we confess...?”  More blank stares. 

Why is it important to read your Bible?  A lot of people in trying to build their spiritual lives don’t build a foundation because they don’t study enough.  Actually they don’t study at all.  The parallel of picking mushroom came to mind.  I like mushrooms.  With a little butter they are good by themselves.  They add a rich savor to foods.  Yet I would not have a clue on picking edible mushrooms.  I know that most mushrooms I see are deadly toxins.  I have heard them calle “toadstools.”  They look like mushrooms and feel like mushrooms, but they are not edible.  If I tried to eat them I would die from my ignorance.

Too many people have a mushroom theology or mushroom spirituality.  They know truth exists.  They see it and have tasted it.  Yet they cannot find it themselves.  Too many go out and grab the first bit of “truth” that grows in the yard of their life.  They don’t take time to do any research.  They ignore the lessons of people they can trust.  What they get is toxic.

Avoid the mushrooms of life.  If you don’t know the difference, open your Bible and read until you learn some discernment.  This is not like wearing a shirt that doesn’t match your eyes.  This is eternity we are talking about.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Opus 2011-316, New Terms: BCE

You may not have noticed, but more and more books are giving dates in a new format.  The old way was B.C. and A.D.  This was the result of centuries of Christian influence on culture.  Everyone knows that B.C. means “before Christ.”  Most people think A.D. means “after death.”  Those people are wrong.  It really stands for the Latin phrase “Anno Domini” which means “year of the Lord.” 

You can see why this would be unpopular in our multi-cultural, anti-Christian society.  So, like they have done with so many other words and meanings the post-moderns change the playing field.  You will now see B.C.E. and C.E.  The first means “before common era” and the second means “common era.”  Gone is any reference to the central date in Western culture.  Gone is the reference to the birth of Christ. 

Gone is another reference to the central force in what used to be a Christian culture.  Eventually the changes will reach critical mass and life as we know it will just become a fond dream.

Or maybe it will really usher in the end times.  Maranatha.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Opus 2011-315, New Terms: Classical

“Classical” is not really a new term but like so many other things in our diverse, post-modern culture it has been given a new meaning. 

I was sitting in a restaurant and listening to the music in the background.  It was of a classical nature.  I am aware that all called classical is not technically Classical but might be Romantic or Baroque.  My mind jumped to the way the term classical is misused. 

People talk about “classic” rock.  How can this be.  They are talking about recordings that were made only a few years ago.  Classic means something that has stood the test of time.  It means that which has become the standard.  That does not happen in the life-span of an oil change.

We have a way of taking meaningful words and diluting them to the point of emptiness.  We can’t stop it but we can, as individuals, do the best we can to use words correctly and slow the deterioration.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Opus 2011-314, The Deception of Kettle Korn

Call me a fanatic.  Tell me I strain after gnats and swallow camels or the other way around.  That does not change the simple facts.  Kettle Korn is not real popcorn.  There ought to be some federal law that requires a disclaimer on the label to keep people from being sucked into this plot.  Is there no integrity left in the world?  You think it is deceptive to try to label Mit Romney as a conservative or Barak Obama as non-partisan?  That is mild compared to inferring Kettle Korn has any relation to “popcorn.”

Popcorn has corn kernels, salt and butter.  Anything else is toxic to the taste.  Okay, I will let you add some cheese if you want, but that is the limit.  Sugar is anathema.  Sugar if heretical.  Sugar is vulgar.  It also ruins a great snack.  The people that want to add sugar to popcorn are the same ones who have made it almost impossible to find baby dill pickles that are not kosher.  It starts with a little section of one shelf and eventually spreads through the entire pickle department.  We need to draw a line now.

There are few things that are still pure and honorable.  Popcorn is one of those. 

Please leave my popcorn alone.

homo unius libri

Monday, November 7, 2011

Opus 2011-313, Forgiveness and Repentance

(Matthew 6:12 KJV)  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Forgiveness.  Such an important part of any relationship whether it be you and your spouse or you and the traffic cop.  Where would life be without forgiveness? 

It is a basic Christian action.  It is at the root of turning the other cheek.  It is necessary for salvation.  In the Lord’s prayer our forgiveness by God is tied to our willingness to forgive others.

I have a question about forgiveness.  What is the proper response to forgiveness?  Gratitude?  Relief?  Affection?  The most significant and meaningful response is too often overlooked.  It is the same thing which often generates forgiveness:  Repentance.  Repentance in the sense of willingly changing that part of our behavior or attitudes which caused the difficulty in the first place.

When you have wronged someone it is a glorious thing for them to forgive you.  For Christians it is a mandate.  When asked how many times we must forgive, Jesus told Peter it should go to 70 times 7.  The point is that we all make mistakes and our culture can only continue if we make allowances for that.  It reminds the person doing the forgiving that retribution and vengeance are not supposed to be in our repertoire.

It should also remind the person being forgiven not to push their luck.  Although it seems that forgiveness is unending largess, there will come a time it will not be extended. 

If forgiveness does not generate a difference in the person forgiven it will eventually become destructive.  Take advantage of this form of love in action.  Change the behavior that caused the problem.  Make it a two way street.  Why is this important?  I started off with the words of Jesus.  Let me finish with what He said a few verses later.
(Matthew 6:15 KJV)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Get the point?

homo unius libri

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Opus 2011-312, Plow and Crown: The Battle for Freedom of Movement

The struggle for liberty has some unsung heroes.  Henry Ford was one of the great pioneers of freedom.  He was responsible for producing a car that the average man could afford to own.  Another pioneer was Rockefeller.  He reduced the price of the fuel that would run those cars so that common people could afford to drive them.  Put the two together and you have a population that had the kind of mobility that previous generations could only dream of.  Unfortunately, future generations may also only be able to dream about it. 

Remember waiting to turn 16 so you could get your driver's license?  It meant freedom.  Your world now expanded beyond the range of your bicycle and sweat, limited only by your gas money and curfew.  Many young people would get jobs just so they could afford a car. 

As an adult you could work more than a few blocks away.  To put it another way, you no longer had to live close to the place you worked.  Your options were greatly increased.

Enjoy it while you can.  The modern nobility is working to take that flexibility away from you by restricting your freedom of movement.  Part of these elite masters are simply power hungry politicians who will have their own chauffeur driven, tax supported limousines.  Their allies and supporters are the greens who want to take away your cars and force you onto mass transit.  They want to put the fetters back on you.  They can’t stand your freedom.  Oh, and they want to save the planet.

If you go back to the middle ages you would find that one difference between a free peasant and a serf was freedom of movement.  A serf was not allowed to go very far from home without permission from his lord.  At school we practice the same control.  Students are not allowed out of class without a pass.  In many parts of the world you are not allowed to move around without your “papers.”  We have seen it in the movies.  The sinister Nazi says, “Let me see your papers.”  Have you tried to fly lately?  Every step of the way you are expected to produce ID.  You are controlled and photographed.  Last year when the TSA was doing their illegal search of my person their machine detected some stray chemical.  As a result my ID was copied and put into the system.  I am now flagged.  Will that come back to bite me?  Probably.  The Lord of the Manor is closing in.

homo unius libri

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Opus 2011-311, Ye Shall Be As Gods

There are people who reject God and His teachings.  Others simply try to modify what the Bible teaches to fit their own preferences.  We see this in people from Thomas Jefferson to the drunk on the corner.

Why do people have such a hard time believing in God?  I think it could be summed up in this statement:  “If there is a God, then I am not.”  People reject God because if He exists as He has revealed Himself to be then they cannot rule their own lives.  This is also why people can attend church all their lives and never really become believers.  It would require a surrender that they are not willing to give.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-310, Koran Klarifications: Lovers of Death

It has been about six months since I added to this category.  I had this title and reference in my computer all that time but I held off on it.  In that time I have read and listened to podcasts where this has come up in regard to the suicide bombers that we have seen in Islamic terrorism.  I think I am ready to post this.

Islam reflects a different view of death than is found in Christian circles.  Christians are not afraid of death.  It is not a matter of fear, but priorities and attitude toward others.  It does usher us into the presence of God and that is something to be looked forward to.  Paul said,
(Philippians 1:23-24 KJV)  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
There is a natural desire to be with Jesus, but notice that he was more concerned about others than his own personal desires.

The comments I was reading said that the suicide bombers are understandable because Islam glorifies death and the true Muslim will seek death.  That seemed a bit strong but consider this from the Koran,
“SAY: If the future dwelling place with God be specially for you, but not for the rest of mankind, then wish for death, if ye are sincere:”  Sura 2, “The Cow”, verse 94.
If you are a sincere Muslim, wish for death.

It is one verse, quoted in isolation.  I understand that.  But it fits with what I see.  Look it up.  Read the context.  Ask yourself what this says about a “religion of peace.”

All Koran quotes are from the translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell, M.A. provided by the Gutenberg Project.

homo unius libri

Friday, November 4, 2011

Opus 2011-309, On the Street: For the Children

Last Saturday the door bell rang.  I answered it.  So far, so good.  I said politely, “Yes?”  From their it want down hill.

A lady was standing in front of me with a clip board in her hand.  She told me she had come to collect for painting our house number on the curb.  Excuse me?  We already had a number on the curb.  Yes, but this is with new, improved, reflective paint.  I told her I did not want a new, improved, reflective number on my curb.  The old one was just fine. 

Evidently this group had gone around and left flyers saying that they would be coming through and painting numbers.  If we did not want the service we were supposed to let them know.  Since I never saw the flyer and did not want to ask, I don’t know what I had to do.  I said I would not pay for something I did not want.  I was polite but said I did not like to be manipulated.  I pointed out how the public school where I teach uses the technique of negative notification to keep parents out of the loop.  If they want to subject the kids to something they don't think the parents would approve, they send home a flyer in a stack of other papers and tell the parents if they don’t want it to happen to their child they must tell the school by a certain date.  This way, when the parent finds out after the fact, the school can claim that they were informed.  It works on any pet project from sex education to scoliosis screening.  I also shared how my union made me drive all the way across town if I did not want money taken out of my check for a political action committee that stood for everything I hated.  I do not like to be manipulated. 

She wasn’t listening.  Her last plea was that it was for the children, a charity.  She was even wearing a t-shirt that said it was for the children.  Don’t I care about the children?  It used to be that people said the last refuge of scoundrels was patriotism, but now it is the children.  I thought of how I paid when some enterprising young people came by one summer on a summer job and asked it I would like it done for a fee.  Fine.  Free enterprise I can support, manipulation for the children I can’t.

I kept my money.  She got to keep her clip board and t-shirt.  I have not checked to see if they actually painted the numbers or if they came by and crossed them out.  Next time they will probably just add it to my property tax.

homo unius libri

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Opus 2011-308, Discernment Watch: Big Brother, 2011

I finally broke down and registered for a Panera Card.  You may not have a Panera in your area but it is a restaurant/bakery with quiet background music and a menu based in breads and coffee.  They have this card that promises free stuff. 

I am a part of the TANSTAAFL crowd.  Nothing is free.  I am on enough mailing lists, I don’t need to be on one more.  They finally convinced me I could register with just my name.  No dice.  Then they told me I could give phoney data.  That I could live with but it still took several tries.  The card worked out pretty much as I thought.  The first couple of weeks I got something free every two visits.  Then they began to be spaced out.  It has now been a week and a half since any award showed up.  Since they have no info on me in their data base, I at least got a few free items.  TANSTAAFL.  Actually, nothing is free.  They just raised the price of my coffee to cover the cost.

The purpose of these type cards is to build a data base and market to people based on that data base.  If I had given them what they wanted they would have my name, address, phone number and e-mail.  Does the phrase “identity theft” resonate in your life?

Many people have a library of these cards.  Grocery stores, office supply, hardware stores.  What people don’t seem to realize is that every time they use those cards the results go into that Great Data Base in the sky and Big Brother knows more about you.  He knows what you like to eat and wear.  He knows what days of the week you shop.  He knows if you buy on sale or impulsively.  He might even know the color of your underwear because he certainly knows what colors you like. 

This is used to tailor advertising and marketing.  You will get things mailed, snail mail and electronic, that is tailored to entice you into an action.  If you are tired of junk mail and spam, ask yourself, “How many contests have I entered?”  In this struggle we are our own worst enemy.

I don’t want laws against it.  Let the business go for the gold.  That doesn’t mean I must cooperate of be their patsy. 

I expect to get less and less from my Panera Card.  I can live with that.  I don’t have a major problem with spam because I am willing to live with that.

Enjoy your “free lunch.”  Some one is paying for it.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Opus 2011-307, The Theology of Street Signs

The other day I was riding with someone who shall remain anonymous.  We came to a stop sign.  You know the type:  Red, eight sides, says “STOP” in big letters.  We slowed down enough that my coffee did not slosh over the side when we hit the drain line but we certainly did not stop.  So of course my mind tries to look for order in the universe and reason in chaos. 

God has put up controls for our spiritual driving.  It is not the way He wants it, but we refuse to grow up.  Think about it.  How many traffic laws would we need it people would just drive with their brain turned on and their courtesy engaged?  Do you have any traffic signs in your home?

God’s ultimate goal for us is holiness.  We are to come to a spiritual place where we are walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit.  Choices are made with clean hearts and willing hands.  This is a level of life that is promised to us but few seem to achieve, mainly because they have been told it is impossible.

Holiness means no rules.  What am I talking about?  Paul makes the following statement twice in I Corinthians,
(1 Corinthians 10:23 KJV)  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
This is what people talk about when they say we are under grace, not law.  At the same time Jesus said this,
(Matthew 5:17 KJV)  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
We must put these two concepts together.  It means walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit in spiritual maturity:  Holiness.

We are very uncomfortable with that.  It means we have to think and make decisions.  We don’t like that.  At school I am teaching research skills.  One of the steps is taking notes on note cards.  I tell the kids that they must have a card with their bibliography on it.  Then I tell them they need at least 30 cards.  I get two questions.  First, “Does the bibliography card count as one of the 30?”  Second, “Do I get more points if I do more than 30 cards?”

Legalism lurks in the hearts of even seventh graders.

Legalism requires stop signs, left turn arrows, red curbs and so forth.  Most churches have documents that detail all of this stuff.  God’s directions to Moses started with 10 rules.  When the gentiles were accepted by the Jerusalem counsel they limited their requirements to three expectations.  Jesus, narrowed the essence down to two.   Why is this so complicated?

Legalism says “Stop!”  Holiness says “Yield.”  Legalism is a matter of strict, uncompromising limitations.  Holiness is a matter of living for others, giving up your own rights, allowing others to go first.  One is rules based on a carnal heart.  One is love given by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  It is a higher standard of living, thinking and cooperation.

My prayer is that more would seek this level of living and those who claim it would apply it.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Opus 2011-306, On the Street: Halloween Hypocrisy

Last night I broke down and compromised.  I hope you can forgive me.  I gave out candy on Halloween. 

My family does not celebrate this pagan holiday.  I do everything to avoid participating.  I have all lights shut down that show to the front of the house.  I stay in the back.  I do not make my home inviting to the trick or treater’s.  I can’t remember ever giving out any candy in the 20+ years I have lived here.

In spite of all that some kids rang my doorbell at 8:30 last night.  If I did not think my wife was expecting someone I might not have answered it even then.  But I opened the door.  Three little faces were looking at me expectantly.  I really don’t think they wanted to hear my lecture on the evils of satanic holidays.  For them it was obviously a fun time.  They were dressed up as princesses and such.  So I said, “We don’t usually give out candy, but let me see what I can find.”  I found some bite sized Snickers and gave them each two. 

I was disappointed to break my string but I like to pick my battles.  Maybe they will remember that some don’t celebrate Halloween and wonder why.  Maybe they won’t.

I can live with that.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-305, On the Street: You Are Not Alone

We hear a lot about the problem of loneliness.  People abound who seem to have no one to share their lives with, no one who cares. 

At the coffee house this week I saw a person who thought they were alone.  On the counter there are four giant coffee urns.  At the sides are cream, sugar, lids, stirrers and such.  As I went to refill my cup I noticed the extra care that a lady had taken to declare to the world that she was alone, or at least she thought we was the only person in the world.  She had placed a large bag containing her take out purchase to strategically block one end of the counter, keeping me from the urn I wanted to access.  She had placed her cup of coffee in such a way that I could not get to the other spout without going over it and she had placed herself, as she slowly opened a sugar bag, in such a way to deny me the other end of the counter.  It was a perfect block.  It was as if she were the only person in the world.

Yes, many people are lonely.  The reason is they act like they are the only person in the world or at least the only person of consequence.  If so many people suffer from loneliness it seems that they could be matched up by a service like E-Harmony.  Once they were matched they would not be lonely any more.  Sounds simple but most of these people are lonely because they refuse to move out of the center.

Are you lonely?  Try looking around you for someone you can help.  Get out of your little world and find someone worse off than you are.  I don’t think you will need to look far.

Meanwhile, please get out of the way so I can get some coffee.

homo unius libri