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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Opus 2011-374, Discernment Watch: Is Discipling Biblical?

One of the great memes of the church for a time was the idea of discipling.  By some strange coincidence it came shortly after the culture was getting into small groups, sensitivity sessions, faith walks and all of that psychological paraphernalia. 

The idea was that we all need to be discipled.  We need to go through a period where we are trained one-on-one by someone more mature that we are.  It is not a bad concept.  It can work.  The problem is when we place too much emphasis on it or make it a litmus test.  One of the examples that is constantly referred to is Jesus and the Twelve.  Take this paragraph from a book of the era,
    “Christ Himself has set the pattern.  He spent most of His time with twelve - with eternal results.  He called the twelve that He might be with them.  He worked with them, trained them, and loved them, and He let them train each other.  There was a cross-current of the work of God’s Spirit as these disciples were together.

    “Discipling is as critical a need as there is among believers today.  Every Christian needs some older Christian he’s learning from, and some younger Christian he’s teaching.  It’s the function of the whole body to do this.”  p. 65
The issue is not “is this a good thing?”  The issue is the position that it is a requirement.

Think about it.  The disciples were personally trained by Jesus and it was the apostle Paul, who never physically met Jesus who became the great evangelist.  He learned how to be effective by studying the word, the work of the holy Spirit and a personal encounter with the living Christ.  This works against all out theories of discipling.

In fact the men who spent so much time with Jesus were pretty useless until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and got them moving.

What we as believers need is not more training, more books, more classes.  What we need is more power and more obedience.  We already know more than we are doing.  Our hearts and minds are reasonably full but our lives are not reflecting the contents.

Let’s get salty.  Let’s stand up and be counted.  Let’s speak up for truth in public meetings and private conversations.  Let’s seek our own personal Pentecosts to begin the revival that our world needs. 

Salt is used in grains, not blocks.

Ortlund, Raymond C.  Lord, Make My Life a Miracle.  Glendale:  Regal Books, 1974.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 30, 2011

Opus 2011-373, New Years Thanksgiving

My wife left this morning for therapy.  She has knee replacements in her future and pain in her present.  I took one of our cars and left it with out mechanic.  He has a hard time working because of joint pain.  If he could afford it, he might be having knees replaced.  Everywhere I go I see people in electric wheel-chairs, many of which probably need them through no fault of their own.  I went to dinner with a couple.  The wife had to stop half way through dinner to check her blood and give herself a shot.  I have a brother who died of a rare blood cancer.

These observations put the complaints I might have about life in a different context.  I have problems, yes.  Some are even real.  In the midst of that I am aware of how many blessings I have.  I am reminded today as I walked back from the mechanics shop, from one who aches to one in pain, that I was still moving freely.  I am grateful and took the opportunity to lift those up in prayer along with a lady who has an infant niece having brain surgery, a fellow blogger who has a wife going through brain surgery, and....  You get the idea.

Thanksgiving is not a day in November.  Thanksgiving is a daily awareness of the blessings that God touches us with.  It is also an opportunity to remember others who might need a special touch of grace.

Happy New Year’s Thanksgiving

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Opus 2011-372, Spiritual Gifts: Hospitality

(1 Peter 4:9 KJV)  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

I believe that hospitality (5382) is a spiritual gift.  It is not on all lists, but I think it is part of the building up of the body of Christ.  One reason I can see this as a gift is because of the verse that follows this one,
(1 Peter 4:10 KJV)  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Hospitality is an interesting word.  It is a compound word in the Greek made up of two words you would be familiar with.  The first is philios, or brotherly love.  We see it in words like filial and names like Philadelphia.  The second part is xenos which means stranger.  We use the word in xenophobia and such.

I think this word would be the direct opposite of xenophobia which is directly out of the Greek.  Xenophobia means “fear of strangers.”  philoxenos means “love of stranger.”  One is the standard of the world; the other, the church.  They are only a few letters apart.

There is a bit of confusion on this gift.  Once when teaching on spiritual gifts I had the class take a survey on spiritual gifts.  A large number of them came up with the gift of hospitality yet one of the big weaknesses of that church was that they did not reach out to new people.  Something did not add up.  Much of the incongruity came from understanding the meaning of the gift.  Hospitality is not knowing how to set a table and which fork to use.  It is more an attitude toward reaching out and caring about others.

A good example would be Mary and Martha.  The gift of hospitality is not the person who knows how to use the good china and who knows how to put a meal on time.  That was Martha.  She was concerned with the production.  Hospitality is in the hearts of people who make others comfortable in their home.  That was more Mary. 

When you are greeted by someone with the gift of hospitality, you come, you sit and you feel like you belong, not like you are an imposition.  If someone has the gift of hospitality the people eating with you don’t worry about the right fork or the quality of the food, but enjoy the fellowship that has been established along with the food.  Tuna casserole is enough when the gift of hospitality is present.  Of course the person with the gift would be sensitive to the fact that you hate tuna casserole and would not serve it, but that is another story. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Opus 2011-371, On the Street: Hypocrisy on Wheels

I few days ago I was following a pickup with a decal on the window.  At a stop sign I was able to get close enough to read it.  It said, “Gas Sucks, Ride a Bike.”  Okay, I get the message.  What I did not understand was why this decal was on a 4 wheel drive, raised frame, gas sucker. 

A bit of cognitive dissonance here?

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines, I think it is from The Princess Bride, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

homo unius libri

Monday, December 26, 2011

Opus 2011-370, Links: A Thought on Tithing

I was reading on the blog “Cross Eyed” and came across a link to another article on tithing.  The entire article was good but the author included a thought that had never occurred to me before.  I include the paragraph that struck me along with a link to “Money Matters: How Much Do I Give?” 

“So what do we do with the tithe? Does God tell us today that we need to continue giving 10%? Well, that isn’t ever expressed clearly in the New Testament. The tithe is never reaffirmed and it is never canceled. But what is clear is that all of the New Testament laws were not lowered but heightened after Christ. The Old Testament warned against adultery; Jesus warned against a lustful glance. The Old Testament warned against murder; Jesus warned against even a hate-filled thought. Those Old Testament laws were a starting point to a much greater kind of obedience. Out of obedience to Christ and because of what Christ has done, the stakes have all been raised.”
This presents a Biblical approach to an old question.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-369, Euphoric Epiphany

Christmas is a day.  Advent was a season leading up to Christmas.  Epiphany is still coming so the season is not over.  Our Orthodox brethren celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 6 which is Epiphany in the West, the coming of the Wise men.

Why is this important?  It means that you can still celebrate.  Most important, you can still play your Christmas music without being a heretic.  Actually I like to hear “Joy to the World” in June.

Remember that the first line is “Joy to the world, the Lord is come...”  It does not say “has come” or “did come.”  It is in the present tense.  In Greek we would have a way of saying it that makes it clear that it is an ongoing action.

So keep on celebrating until Lent. 

Emmanuel.  God is with us.

Euphoric Epiphany and Happy New Year.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Opus 2011-368, The Nature of a Child

If you have ever worked with children, you know some of the questions they can ask.  “Did the baby Jesus dirty his diapers?”  “Did the baby Jesus know He was God?”  Of course some of us still wonder about those things as we get older.

One of the mysteries I expect to research in the University of the New Jerusalem has to do with Jesus childhood.  On one side we have the indication that Jesus grew up as a normal child.  He lived in submission to His parents.  He was trained by Joseph to be a carpenter.  He had brothers who tried to control His behavior.

At the same time He was Almighty God.  This is what the incarnation is all about. 
(John 1:14 KJV)  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
So I wonder what Jesus was like as a child.

I know what other children are like.  I have experienced it.  I was a child.  I have dealt with it as a parent, teacher, uncle and member of society.  And I have read what the Bible has to say about children.  Like so many other great truths a child has different sides.  My first born was hideous.  He was covered with blood and a white chalky substance.  Underneath he was blue.  His face looked like a clay model that had run into a wall.  At the same time he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen:  He was my firstborn.

So on one side we have Jesus and children. 

(Matthew 19:14 KJV)  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus got along well with children.  They enjoyed being with Him.  He looked at the positive qualities of childhood and told us to grow up and become like children.

(Luke 18:17 KJV)  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

So we see that there is a side of childhood that is good.

We get a different picture if we read other places.

(Proverbs 22:15 KJV)  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Maybe part of the difference was that Solomon had children and Jesus didn’t.  Or it could be that both are true. 

We are touching on the Biblical teaching about Original Sin or Depravity.  As beautiful and wonderful as children are there is still a foundation of self-centeredness and rebellion that marks them as needing a savior.  This is one of the differences between the Biblical nature of humanity and the secular view. 

This is a vital difference.  The church is letting it go and we are paying the price.  Schools assume that children are not the problem, society is the problem.  Thus the vast majority of teachers think that all education needs is more money and slicker programs.  All we need to do is train teachers with better methods and children will turn into enlightened and benevolent adults.  Teachers are told to use methods such as cooperative learning and collaboration in order to let the wisdom of the child come out.  Much classroom time is wasted on such nonsense.

The Bible teaches that the child is a sinner.  He was born that way and remains that way until the grace of God is applied.

(Psalms 51:5 KJV)  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

You probably don’t like the idea.  The secular view is much more appealing.  Next time you are inclined to accept it, ask yourself what kind of inner goodness is being exhibited on the news when they talk about these mobs of young people running amok in malls and creating mayhem.  They have been told again and again that they are good and that society is wrong.

The message of Christmas is that man needs a savior.  The message of Christmas is that the Savior was born.  The message of Christmas is that He brings hope.

Pray that the message will break through.

May this year be the “fullness of time” in your life and the lives of those you love.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-367, Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.  May God’s blessing be upon you.

Now, turn off your computer and get back to your family.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Opus 2011-366, Agape/Chesed: It’s Over, and I Survived

My kids are home for the holidays.  One of the things my daughter and wife are doing is watching the videos we took when they were growing up.  I get called in for the key moments.  One clip they called me for was the kind of memory that you don’t want to have. 

My son was ten years old and having one of those moments.  Okay, it went on for years but this was a valley, not a peak.  I think the issue was cleaning out the dish washer.  I don’t know what possessed me but I had the video camera in my hand as the battle ensued and we moved toward victory.  There were times when I despaired that he would live to become an adult.  He was strong willed and intelligent.  Oh, yeah, also defiant. 

Only the grace of God got us through those years.  Intellectually I know we went through it but the video brought back the raw emotion and feelings of helplessness.  But we stuck to our guns and came through it.

I am telling you that if you have a child in that phase, victory is possible.  The rebellious hellion is still coming home and has turned into a fine young adult.

Prayer, patience and the power of the Holy Spirit will see you through.  It's what we call love, given and received.

Hang in there.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-365, Are You Ready for Christmas?

I am guessing that there is someone in your house that is running around frantically trying to put the finishing touches on Christmas.  Someone thinks that if they don’t wrap the presents perfectly then the day is ruined.  Another may think that the lack of something at dinner will destroy the effect of the whole meal.  Someone else may feel like the house is not clean enough.  It could be that the music isn’t Christmasy enough.  A dreadful reality may be that all of these thoughts are centered in one person.  I scary thought is that you are feeling them.

Relax.  Focus.  Enjoy.  The hard work has already been done.  Mary already went through labor.  By now she has probably written the thank you notes to the wise men and shepherds.  God has already managed to squeeze the fullness of the Godhead into the flesh of a man.

I know it doesn’t help but if the ham is a little over done, the truth is not changed.  Get it into your head and heart that the children came home to be with you, not because they could not buy a Honey Baked Ham themselves.  Give them the time, not the cheese balls.

Remember that Christmas is just the wake-up call.  It won’t be finished until we celebrate the resurrection.  Tomorrow is just the first act leading up to Easter. 

Merry Christmas.  Emmanuel.  God is with us.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 23, 2011

Opus 2011-364, Tax Dollars at Work: EBT

Have you seen the signs, “EBT accepted here”?  They are showing up in the most unlikely places.  On my way to work there is a liquor store that proudly announces it will accept EBT.  I have passed fast food joints that say they will take it.

EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer.  It is the new face of welfare.  It is a debit card that is given out instead of cumbersome checks.  It can be used two ways.  First, by replacing what used to called “food stamps.”  Second, it can be used for cash withdrawals under several different programs.  The money is deposited into individual accounts electronically.  It is a way of redistributing wealth without embarrassing those who are taking my tax money to buy their steak. 

For purposes of today’s point, I am going to pass on the topic of our government’s version of the Roman bread and circuses.  Let’s accept for today that we are going to make sure that no one goes hungry in America. 

That leaves open another big question.  Why are people allowed to use welfare subsidies to buy things at liquor stores, convenience stores and fast food outlets?  The first two charge much higher prices and are not good stewardship of my money.  That is what they are spending, my money.  They did not work.  They did not earn.  They did not produce.  The last purchase point is a recreational food source.  Why are the “poor” allowed to waste my resources in ways that I do not do myself.  Sure, I eat out.  Yes, I go to fast food places.  But not on other people’s money.

We need some serious adjustments on this.  With modern computer systems it would be very easy to limit where people shop with my money and what they buy.  It would be no problem to eliminate steak and pleasure foods and still allow them to get the nutrition they need.  Of course if we did that they might not vote for the same politicians.  O, wait, they aren’t citizens so they can’t vote, right?  You dreamer you.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Opus 2011-363, I Am Not a Burr Grinder

I was enjoying an Alistair Begg sermon on the way to work and then he took off on the Calvinist understanding of grace.  The first few sentences were good.  We are saved by grace, through faith.  Every believer knows the reference:
(Ephesians 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
No believer can argue that.  It is a plain, clear statement.  We cannot earn our salvation.  We can never deserve it.  No Arminian, Roman Catholic or Orthodox believer who understand their own theology would disagree with that.  The problem is using that truth as a springboard for the mantra that nothing we do makes any difference.

Let me try to illustrate my problem.

I have come to enjoy a good cup of coffee.  In fact I enjoy many good cups of coffee.  I don’t claim to be a coffee snob.  As I tell my kids when they ask why I drink it, “I may not know what a really good cup of coffee is but I can tell when it is really bad.”  So I experiment but don’t base my life on it.

Recently, as part of my ongoing experiment, I found a burr grinder that I could afford.  A burr grinder chews up the coffee beans between gears or grinding surfaces instead of chopping them with whirling blades.  It gives a consistency to the coffee.  The grinder I got has about twelve settings from fine to course.  It has a hopper on the top for the beans and you can set it for how many cups to grind for.  It is a fun toy.  Now for the punch line:  Calvinists think of themselves as burr grinders.

The machine can do nothing on its own.  It just sits there.  When the Great Coffee Maker decides to make coffee, He puts in a precise amount of beans and sets the dials.  He then presses the button and wala, out comes ground coffee.  The coffee grinder has nothing to say about it.  It has nothing to say about the type of beans, the coarseness of the grind or how many cups are being made. 

I could live with that.  It gives a glorious picture of God’s love and provision, but....  What about the poor coffee grinder in the next house where the owner likes tea instead.  Through no fault of the grinder it gets thrown in the trash or put in a yard sale.  That is where this idea breaks down for me.  If I assume I am one of the ground (elect) I am happy, but what if I am not and want to be?  I hate being just a wannabe.  To me the picture doesn’t fit with verses like,
(John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Notice the “whosoever.”  And it is totally opposed to,
(2 Peter 3:9 KJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Notice that God is not “willing” that anyone perish.  Yet the road is narrow and few will find it.  There has to be an understanding that gives God and glory but allows us free will.

Am I just setting up a straw man?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Opus 2011-362, Agape/Chesed: Unprovoked Love, part 2

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NASB)  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Love is not provoked.  In a recent post I explored the type and frequency of response to provocation.  This post I have another question. “Do I develop this ability to unprovoked love by training and discipline or is it totally a gift that should arrive ‘ready to use’?” 

I see the place for discipline.  We often do things because of habit and lack of thought.  I am responsible to work on those.  Habits can be changed.  Thought can be engaged.  I am working on that.  Some people in my life have a special spiritual gift for punching my buttons.  I don’t know if it is deliberate or unconscious.  It doesn’t really matter, the verse above doesn’t limit my loving response to unconscious provocations. 

When I am around certain people I engage the Love.  I know what is coming and I prepare.  I call on God, get a different perspective, thicken my skin and put on a smile.  This helps me develop different habits of response. 

What about when I am blind sided?  I must confess my responses are not always the best.  Often they are not even unjustified, just unloving.  Here is where the love needs seen as a gift from God. 
(Romans 5:5 KJV)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
This would remind us that love comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  And of course we see love as part of the fruit of the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Someone pointed out that fruit is different than a gift.  Fruit is planted as a seed and grows to maturity.  This brings the two sides of the concern together.  When the Holy Spirit is in my life, He gives me the seeds of the fruit.  They do not mature overnight.  As I grow naturally and work on my discipline they are able to reach useful levels.  So I guess this is one of those both/and situations.  Love is both the product of discipline and a gift from God.

Lord, let my love be provoked less every day.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Opus 2011-361, Crazy Like a Parent

Our children have been able to arrange their schedules to be home for Christmas.  My son and I were discussing some of the lines I use at school.  For instance, when the kids tell me I am crazy, I tell them it is required for the job.  “In fact,” I tell them, “they have a box on the application which asks, ‘Are you crazy?’  If you don’t check it ‘yes’ they won’t hire you.”

I also tell them that I have hope for them because when my son was their age I tried to take him back to the hospital for a refund and he turned out fine. 

To that my son commented, “It might have had to do with parenting skills.” 

How can you argue with that.  But not being willing to let him have the last word I said, “Yeah, we had bad cop, good cop.”

Not being willing to let me get that last word (after all, I trained him) he observed, “Actually it was bad cop, worse cop.”

I can live with that.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 19, 2011

Opus 2011-360, Agape/Chesed: Unprovoked Love, part 1

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NASB)  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Love is not be “provoked” (3947)?  What does that mean?  On the surface it is obvious and we don’t want to ignore the obvious.  Love does not allow itself to be poked and prodded into a response of anger and hostility.  I guess you could consider it a combination of patience and kindness.  It is the application of turning the other cheek.

I understand that.  What I am struggling with is the repeated, day after day provocations that seem to never stop.

One question I have is, to quote David in the Psalms, “How long, O Lord?”  Or to ask the question that Peter asked,
(Matthew 18:21 KJV)  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
And of course Jesus gives us an answer,
(Matthew 18:22 KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
So it would seem that we are to keep on taking it on the chin, getting up again, smiling and going out to get hit again.  I am not satisfied with that.

First, it is the easy way instead of the loving way.  In Philippians Paul said,
(Philippians 2:3-4 KJV)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
After consulting other translations let me offer the Pumice Pathetic Paraphrase of verse 4
(Philippians 2:4 PPP) “You have a responsibility to do what is best for the other person, even when they don’t like it.”
Love is concerned with the other person.  When they are constantly practicing anti-social behavior it is not loving to grin and bear it.  We have the Biblical mandate to rebuke, reprove and correct.

So where does this leave us?  I think it might come down to the difference between reacting and responding.  Reacting is what we are warned against.  Someone pushes, we push back.  Someone attacks, we counter-attack.  Responding is a measured and thought out response.  It is not an angry retort but a careful statement of love.  One destroys.  One edifies.

The Highway of Holiness is not for the timid or the lazy.

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Opus 2011-359, Christian Cliches: Scapegoat

Have you ever been the scapegoat?  This term has come to mean the one who is blamed for someone else’s failure.  It is a term from the Bible.

Look over Leviticus 16.  It has to do with the sacrificial system.  The first use of the term deals with the selection,
(Leviticus 16:10 KJV)  But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
This goat is not to be sacrificed.  It is to be let go, but a special ritual is to be performed first.
(Leviticus 16:21 KJV)  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
The goat is the one who receives all of the blame for the sins of Israel.  It is then taken out into the wilderness and released.  The goat did nothing.  It was chosen by lot.  It was blamed.

So when you are the scapegoat it is no reflection on you, but you will be blamed.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 16, 2011

Opus 2011-358, Tax Dollars at Work: How Many 911's to Change a Light Bulb?

Recently I was driving home from work and had an unusually long wait to get through an intersection.  When I got to the front of the line I could see what the hold up was.  Over at the side of the road a man sat on a bus stop bench.  Appearances are not everything but he had the fashion style of a homeless person.  Evidently he had been having some kind of problem.  The days of the Good Samaritan taking you to an inn are over.  Instead we had an ambulance, a team of paramedics with their truck, a fire truck, plus several police cars.  Because of the circus, a policeman was directing traffic.  His main purpose seemed to be to hold up the lane I was stuck in.  All of this for one man sitting on a bench.

He wasn’t laying on the ground.  He wasn’t writhing in agony.  He was sitting calmly answering their questions.  There did not seem to be any genuine crisis.

It is good that we live in a country that has safety nets.  The problem is that we have nets of gold.  One policeman with first aid training could have dealt with the problem.  The paramedics by themselves would have been overkill.  I realize you don’t know that when 911 is dialed but I think the fire truck was a bit much. 

You have all seen this going on around you.  It may make you feel secure.  It makes me feel sick enough that I almost want to dial 911.  Understand that nothing is free.  Each one of those highly paid professionals and those decked out vehicles must be paid for and you are doing the paying.  I have seen this at nursing homes.  All these vehicles for someone who is having a hard time getting up after a fall. 

We need some sanity.  We can take care of people without the overkill.  Keep the safety net but get rid of the gold grommets. 

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opus 2011-357, Is Life Sacred?

I am pro-life.  I believe that abortion is the killing of a human being.  Homicide can run the gamete from first degree murder to justifiable.  It depends on the situation.  The vast number of abortions are first degree murder.  A life is taken by calculation and planning for personal convenience.  At the other end you have an ever shrinking blip of cases where the physical life of the mother is honestly at risk.  With modern medicine this is rare, but it happens.  I believe one form of this is called octopic pregnancy where the egg lodges in the fallopian tubes and is guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman.  In these cases you must take one life so both don’t die.

Abortion is sin.  Abortion is evil.  Like all sin and evil it can be forgiven and grace can be applied.  The emotional scars can be worked with.  Life can go on and redemption is possible.

Why do I bring this up now?  We have the annual “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” approaching to draw attention to the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  I salute the purpose of the event.  We need to be reminded of how the Supreme Court opened the door to a blood bath and millions of babies have died for a right not mentioned in the Constitution. 

I have trouble with the title.  I do not believe that life is sacred.  That is what it means to talk of the “sanctity” of life.  To call something sacred puts it on a level that is above all else.  If life was sacred then risking your life to save someone else would be wrong.  If life is sacred then we would be free to lie, cheat and steal to protect it.  If life is sacred then all those who have laid it down in service to their country or community made a mistake.  If life is sacred then all those who gave up their lives as martyrs and witnesses sinned.  We might even go so far as to say that Jesus had no business going to the cross.

Life is precious.  Life is fragile.  Life is important.  Life is not sacred. 

Am I nit picking?  Maybe, but words are important.  Let’s take a stand against abortion, not because life is sacred, but because taking life for personal convenience is wrong.

homo unius libri

Monday, December 12, 2011

Opus 2011-356, On the Street: Glide, Don’t Thump

I was at a stop sign three cars back.  A jogger was crossing at the intersection.  I was impressed at how he was bouncing as he ran.  He had an energy that I could only admire.  I thump when I run.  I don’t know if I could glide like he did but I know I am not serious enough about it to try.  True runners spring and bounce when they run. 

There are parallels to true worship.  Some people plod through the motions.  Others soar with eagles.  I find that I get more out of it when I put more into it.

Don’t be one of those who complain because they get nothing out of worship.  Put something into it.  Concentrate.  Engage your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Glide this Sunday, don’t thump.

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Opus 2011-355, Agape/Chesed: Key Words of the Faith

(1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Thus begins what has come to be called “The Love Chapter.”  The KJV word, “charity” (26) is the Greek word agape and is translated “love” in modern translations.  Even in the KJV it is translated “love” more than “charity” 84 to 28.

A little review.  I apologize to those who know this well.  There are at least five words in Greek that would be translated “love” in English. 

One Greek word, eros, is not used in the NT.  It refers to romantic, sexual love.  We are familiar with this is such English words at erotic.

A second Greek word referring to family love is not used alone but is combined with the next word as an adjective.
(Romans 12:10 KJV)  Be kindly affectioned (5387) one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
This is the only use of this word.

More frequent in the NT and very frequent in Greek was the word group meaning family love, philia.  This is the root of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. 

The most important word for “love” in the NT, agape, was not used much in Greek.  William Barclay believed that the early church used this word deliberately. 
“Christian thought fastened on this word agape because it was the only word capable of being filled with the content which was required.” p. 20
This is the word that is constantly being defined in the New Testament.  It is the word of I Corinthians 13.  It is the love of God that is placed in our hearts and controls who we are.  It is a word that I trying to understand so I will be coming back to it.

To me the OT Hebrew word that is the equivalent is chesed (2617).  I came to know and love this word because it is translated consistently in the NASB as “lovingkindness.”  It is used about 249 times in the OT and the NASB translates it the same way 176 times.  The next most frequent is “kindness” at 32.  The KJV uses “mercy” most frequently, 137, and “lovingkiness” only 26 times.  Either way it is a power statement about the love of God and how it moves in our lives.

Love.  Lovingkindness.  Two central themes for believers.

Barclay, William, New Testament Words.  Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1964.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Opus 2011-354, Discernment Watch: Santa Claus Is a Woman

Since I am writing about the season let me point out something that most people miss.  Santa Claus must be a woman.  How can this be? 

First of all, it helps if you live in the People’s Republik of Kaliforino.  English is almost a second language here.  It might actually be third or fourth, but who’s counting.  You pick up a bit of knowledge in this atmosphere.  One of the things you learn is that Spanish has masculine and feminine endings to words.

The masculine word for saint is “san.”  Thus we have San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Gabriel.  The feminine word is “santa.”  Thus we have Santa Barbara and Santa Ana.  Now, put two and two together.  Santa Claus uses the feminine ending, thus Santa Claus must be a woman. 

It seems to simple when you think about it.

Now who is going to tell Mrs. Claus?

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-353, Should-a-Beens: And a Frolicking FOT Day to you

Yesterday I read a post at Georges Grouse about the roots and rituals of the Christmas season.  Most people who read what I write have already read Georges but if you haven’t you might want to take a look.  Good stuff.  Consistently.  In my response I suggested different names for the day.  One of my suggestions was Fullness of Time Day, or we could call it FOT Day.  It is based on a Bible verse,
(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,
Certain facts are agreed on by reasonable men (and reasonable women).  One is that Jesus was born.  Another is that He was born of a woman.  Another is that she was a virgin.  And as it says here, the birth took place in “the fulness of time.” 

“Christmas” is a term from the Roman Catholic liturgy.  It is the mass of Christ.  All it really means is that in their attempt to cover all the theology of the church, on that particular day they taught about the Birth.  The date picked was arbitrary.  So let’s pick another one for those who have trouble with December 25 and the proximity of the Winter Solstice.  We could pick my birthday but I am sure someone would claim I was having delusions of grandeur.  So let’s pick your birthday.  It works for me.  Actually it might be more appropriate to pick April 15 since Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed.  It would make the IRS a church and get the government out of the withholding business.  Or we could celebrate once every 10 years because it was a Roman Census.  I sense another split in the Christians church here.  We could have 10th Year Adventists emerging. 

But let’s pick a Biblical name.  Georges points out that we should talk about “resurrection day” instead of “Easter.”  Good point.  So let’s celebrate FOT Day instead of Christmas.  Instead of an evergreen we could use a grape vine with branches grafted on and in the fireplace we could have a few symbolic branches that had been cut off for lack of faith.  We could still work in angels, the wise men and shepherds though because they are in the Bible. 

The possibilities are endless.  Maybe I will revisit this.

homo unius libri

Friday, December 9, 2011

Opus 2011-352, On the Street: We, the Tired

I was listening to a podcast discussing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  One of the gurus said that Americans were tired.  That the war was dragging them down.  I wonder, what are Americans tired about?  Granted, the soldiers who are pulled into repeated deployments are worn out.  But he wasn’t talking about them.  He was talking about the average American.  They are doing nothing to be tired about.  How can we be tired when we go about life the same way we would if we never heard of Afghanistan.  For that matter, most Americans could not find it on a map.   

One of the other voices had the answer.  He said, “Americans aren’t tired, only anchor men are tired.”  That about sums it up.  Americans are tired because the talking heads and chattering classes tell us we are tired.  Perhaps we would be better off if we would think for ourselves instead of listening to people who want to tell us what to think.

But then I guess I am telling you what to think.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-351, Discernment Watch: Moral, not Social

I am not sure if I have written about this before.  If I have, it bears repeating.  Often when we read or listen we hear the cultural gurus talking about the “social conservatives.”  This is another example of the talking heads redefining things to suit their desires instead of reality.  We are not social conservatives, we are moral conservatives.  We are not talking about social issues, but moral issues.

Abortion is a moral issue.  Inconsiderate use of cell phones is a social issue.  Homosexuality is a moral issue.  Tax breaks for the married is a social issue.  Drunk driving is a moral issue.  Not washing your car is a social issue.  There is a difference.  Don’t get it confused.

We need to start speaking up instead of letting people get away with watering down truth.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Opus 2011-350, Discernment Watch: Some Slippery Slopes of Synonyms

Recently our pastor was sharing a thought from a study bible that he liked.  It don’t remember what point he was focusing on.  What I noticed that the comment contained the word “humankind.”  I assume it substituted it for “mankind.”  The editors had obviously conceded the battle of gender neutrality to the feminists.  Another barrier has been breached and it happened in a Bible that was supposed to be solid and reliable.

In reality all they have done is add the letters “hu” on the front of “mankind.”  That is enough for one day but tomorrow will come.  Having won this they will need to push the line back further.  They might want to substitute “womankind” but that won’t work because the world also also includes “man”. 

I have a suggestion.  Let’s just move to "bi-genderkind” or something like that.  It will save a lot of ink and paper. 

If we are going to surrender, we might as well get it over with.

The King James Version looks better all the time.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Opus 2011-349, Tax Dollars at Work: The Lap Band

If you have not noticed the deluge of advertising for the Lap Band you probably are one of those people who still believes in hope and change.  It is everywhere; the advertising, not the hope.  At times I have seen three different bill boards at one time from the freeway.  I can get multiple junk mail pleas in one day.

My guess is that some government regulation has forced the insurance companies to cover this procedure.  If you read the fine print, you are reassured that your insurance will probably cover the procedure.  That is well and good but that probably means it is somehow being subsidized by your tax dollars.  Nothing is free.  Someone pays.  If the government is not paying through one of its many conduits of your money then you at least have the assurance of knowing that one reason your health insurance costs so much is because someone wants the doctor to help them lose weight.

Weight loss surgery.  Cosmetic surgery.  Sun glasses.  Electric wheel chairs.  The list can go on. 

And if you have a job, you are paying for the service, even if you are not using it.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Opus 2011-348, Tax Dollars at Work: Vocabulary Lessons

Monday was the principal’s day to indoctrinate our receptive minds.  Several years ago our district somehow got through a plan that added a work day every two weeks to the time we were at school.  Of course it was done with no pay and it was for the children.  The kids spend the same amount of time in class.  Four days a week are longer but they go home early on Monday.  We get to stay the full time so we can be trained to be better teachers.  Sounds good.

Monday part of the plan was a vocabulary lesson.  In a box labeled “Task #1" was the title “Three Rules at __________”  This was followed by three words, all caps:  SAFE, RESPECTFUL, RESPONSIBLE. 

I don’t mean to nit pick.  Well, yes, I do.  I am old school.  This looks like three adjectives, not three rules.  We spent a good deal of time writing things on sticky notes, walking around the room and placing our notes on butcher paper taped to the walls.  Then we had someone stand up and read the exciting things we had written.  This included revolutionary ideas like, “No running in the halls.”  I think the idea is that students don’t know they are not supposed to run in the halls.  Administrators think students have Alzheimer’s and can’t remember what they were told two minutes ago. 

Then we were given a list of sixteen innovative “management strategies” and we were to vote on the three we would all implement.  Are you ready for the three we chose?  1.  Show and repeat classroom rules and procedures.  2)  “Positive greetings at the door to establish a positive classroom atmosphere an precorrect problem behavior.”  3.  A visual posting of daily activities.  As you can tell, I can hardly wait to get back to the room to start doing the things that I have been doing for over 20 years.  I can feel the changes already.

Behind all this is a new program with the initials RTI.  Somewhere there is a federal grant behind this.  A select group were paid to go to training to lead us on the great leap forward. 

And remember, you are the one paying for this. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Opus 2011-347, Still Not a Bargain

Yesterday I went to the library.  I love public libraries.  I have cards in six local cities, Hawaii, Kansas City and I am looking at getting one where my kids live.  They open up worlds.  To give you an idea of how I feel, the only tax I can remember thinking as a possibility was one for libraries.  Fortunately I did not live in the city voting on it or I might have compromised my stand. 

They were having a used book sale.  Fifty cents for anything on the tables.  I think there were five tables and I managed to limit myself to seven books.  If my wife would give me more shelf space I am sure I could fill it quickly.

What I want to alert you to is that there were copies of President Obama’s Audacity of Hope available for only 50 cents.  I think I saw three copies.  Personally I think the price was still too high, just like the price of his presidency, but if you are on the lookout for a copy, you have your chance.  I am waiting for them to pay me to take one home.  I don’t want much, just enough to pay back tax payers all the money he has been giving to his friends.

I am not going to hold my breath.

homo unius libri

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Opus 2011-346, Do Your Toots Stink?

Can you call people on pod-casts “Talking Heads” or is there a better term?

Anyway, I was listening to the gurus this week and they were talking about how unhappy the American people are with the way the country is going.  I keep hearing this kind of thing but the same people get elected. 

While this was on my mind I was catching up on some reading on blogs I like and I came across this post by a Well Meaning Gentleman.  I like his label of “My Toots Don’t Stink.”  I could not put it better.  Check it out before you believe all the “talking heads” about how unhappy America is with what is going on.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-345, People of Hope

Advent began last Sunday.  We lit the first Advent candle on the theme of hope.  At this time of year there is a lot of concern, uncertainty and fear.  It is good to remember that we are people of hope.

I received a letter from a college that we support, Patrick Henry College.  In many ways it was a standard fund raising letter.  I know that but I also expect to read something encouraging from a college that is committed to making a Christian difference in this world.  I was not disappointed. 

The letter was signed by Michael Farris who is chancellor of the school.  He related a comment by a colleague in response to his concerns about the way the country was going.
“Look at all the good stuff that is going on around you here at PHC.  Look at what is being done now and what can be done in the future.  I don’t think that God would bless all of this preparation for the future of America, if He was finished with our nation in 12112.  We really have reasons to be encouraged about the long haul.” (Emphasis in original)
The reminder to me is that I am in this for the “long haul.”  God is the God of eternity, not just today.  As a servant, I am to be faithful, do my best and leave the long range planning in His hands.  If I can trust Him for eternity, I can trust Him for tomorrow.

Join me in hope.

homo unius libri

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Opus 2011-344, On the Street: Metrosexual?

I recently flew across the country and back.  I usually glance quickly through the magazines that the airline provides.  Sometimes I even read an article.  What caught my attention this time was how many of the men in the advertisements need a shave.  I have noticed it before.  I know it is done on purpose.  I think it is called the metrosexual look.  It is supposed to be seductive, I guess.  I find it silly.

One place it is universal is in the ads for men's smelly stuff and fashion duds.  Usually the unkempt guy is snuggled up with some babe who looks like she is in the midst of ecstasy just by being up close to his sand paper face.  That has never been the response of any women I have ever been near.

There are a lot of similarities between this and senile old men.  I say that as one who is beginning to be concerned about becoming a senile old man.  I see these guys who do not groom themselves.  They need shaves, showers, matching sox and someone to tuck their shirt in on the back side.  One of the models being praised as the latest style looked that way.  He was wearing some kind of hiking boot, blue jeans rolled up in three inch cuffs, a multi-colored long sleeve shirt that hung below the blazer he topped it all off with.  The cuffs of the shirt stuck out his sleeves like the coat was too small for him.  He needed a shave and had his hair sticking up in spikes.  If I did not know better I would think it was a parody.

All new fashions look strange at first.  Most I get used to.  I have been watching this for a few years now and it looks as ridiculous as it did the first time I saw it.

I can’t wait for the wheel to turn.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-343, Pumice Proverbs: Idle Hands

It is written,

“Idle hands

are the devil's

But I say unto you,

“Busy hands
are his
proving grounds.”

homo unius libri