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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Opus 2023-055: Cleared to Go

I had the opportunity to preach last Sunday and it was an interesting application of God’s grace.

When I accepted the invitation I had a month to prepare.  That gives a lot of time to study, pray, mediate, write, repeat.  I had just come off of a long coughing spell and felt like I was going to be in good condition.  It went well until it didn’t.  I came down with an even worse case of congestion and confusion.  Last week I chose Monday to be the day I would press ahead or call to cancel.

I had two criteria.  First, my mind needed to be clear, or as clear as could be expected.  On that I was good to go.  I no longer was sitting staring at the wall.  I was able to do some writing and could focus for periods of time.  Second, I needed to be past the infectious stage and able to talk without constant coughing.  Doctor Google told me I was past giving the gift of mucus and I was going longer without coughing so I decided to go with it.

Saturday night I went the entire night without coughing and though I was home free but eventually my lungs started clearing out.  It was seldom enough that I felt I would make it.  When I got to church I sat through Sunday School without a rumble.  When the first song came up I started coughing but a cough drop calmed it down and I was fine.  Then came the moment when I had to get up and speak.

There is an amazing process that I go through when I have to preach.  I come to the point where I have been faithful in my preparation and done all I can.  After that it is the Lord’s problem.  I can feel an almost instant peace that comes over me when I open my outline and Bible.  It is like God pats me on the head and says, “I’ve got this boy.”  I made it through the entire sermon without a cough.  I greeted people afterward with no issues.  Then when I was walking to my car the urge to purge came upon me and I stepped to the grass and started clearing out.  I would have to say it was providential.

Mind you, I am not saying the sermon was anything special.  One of the things that I think serious preachers learn early is that preaching is an exercise in arrogance and hubris.  Even the Bible calls it “the foolishness of preaching.”  And yet we are called to do it.  I think it is a good example of what it means to live by faith.

We live day by day doing the best we can to be faithful.  In times like this we wonder if it will be enough.  Living by faith means trusting the Lord to work out the details His way.  

homo unius libri

Monday, February 27, 2023

Opus 2023-054: The Principle Problem

One of the ideas that has helped us to flourish as a culture is that the Constitution gives us foundational principles on which we base everything else.

We are finding that there is a problem with foundational principles.  Even the best principles can be victims of the unprincipled.

The American Founders would have emphasized the “foundational” part of the phrase.  A foundation, properly built, gives us an unchanging starting point for everything else.

The current Progressives* focus on the “principles” part.  Principles are somewhat flexible because they need to apply to circumstances that we are not aware of yet.  Take one founding principle that is getting a lot of attention today:  Freedom of Speech.  Even with that title the courts have found some limitations.  The original intent had to do with political speech and statements that were not apporved by the authorities.  Libel and slander have always been exceptions.  The Progressives* have taken the inch of wiggle room and vibrated it into a joke.  Now the specific reason the right was proclaimed is the reason it is being handcuffed. You have heard about how now Free Speech is against Free Speech?

The really big question that keeps hitting me could be paraphrased here as, How do you deal with clever people manipulating the principles to take advantage of people who are really principled?  When my son cheated at Monopoly it was simply a matter of walking away and not playing any more.  With these tyrant wannabes it won’t be that simple.

My hope is that they will wake up to the potential of violence they are playing with.  Most of the ones on the front lines think there will be no retaliation.  The ones behind them, controlling the narrative are the true believers who accept the fact they may die but are quite willing to do so if they can drag down of liberty loving clowns in the process.  They are even more willing to sacrifice the naive sign holders.

*(Liberals, educators, the media, socialists, communists, crony capitalists, elites, Rinos, Democrats, leftists, Never Trumpers, Antifa, BLM, MSM, Deep State, etc.  Synonym for swamp dwellers)

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Opus 2023-053: Dark Thoughts: Two Roads in the Woods...

Why do so many scientists refuse to believe in God?  It is nothing new.  You find the same issue coming up in the Garden of Eden.  Satan throws the oldest excuse around, because it was the first,

(Gen 3:5 KJV)  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The temptation to be a god is a big one.  Modern scientists have swallowed the poison.  It is a two edged sword found in evolution.  First, they think they are the smartest product evolution has produced.  They are the acme of natural selection.  They are awesome.  In spite of the awesome factor, they can’t figure out how evolution could work.  Now for the other edge of the sword.  God could not have created the universe since they are smarter than God and they can’t figure it out.

I am probably being unfair but truth is often that way.

The reason Christians and other scientist believe in God is because of the increasing complexity and integration of everything they investigate.  They keep digging deeper and finding even more.  They know they can’t comprehend it and it is too awesome to be accidental so there must be a God.

Both paths have the same information and come to different conclusions.  We will either find out who is right or we won’t.  If God exists then we will find out on Judgement Day.  If God does not exist we will be snuffed out into the same nothingness that existed before the Big Bang.  That is sad for the God deniers because they will never even find out that we were wrong.  They won’t be able to say, “I told you so.”


homo unius libri

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Opus 2023-052: Dark Thoughts: Whom Does God Quote?

It struck me this morning that God does not need to quote anybody.

As I was in worship it occurred to me how much I had enjoyed my study time because I was able to find an extended passage on creation in a set of books on my shelf.  I then remembered why I had tried, and failed, to read through the same set of books in the last year.  They are of a style where the author feels the need to give long quotes from authorities.  It is like they are afraid to say things their own way because I won’t believe them unless they have support from an “authority.”  Since I felt the author was a reliable authority I did not need his quotes so I quickly lost interest.

Then came my question about God quoting.  I don’t think God needed one of the series of books like The Quotable Lewis or the long list that came up with similar titles.  If God ordered something from IKEA I don’t think He would need to read the directions.  As a chef He would not get out Betty Crocker.  He is God.  He is the Source.

It occurred to me there is a reason beside insecurity that people do this.  I recently stopped reading a book because I started counting the number of authors mentioned on each page.  I realized that being mentioned in a book might get you to buy the book.  You could probably make the best seller list just by mentioning enough people with an ego.  

It might do for us to be more focused on quoting the Source, who has no ego or financial issues, than a contemporary authority.

homo unius libri

Monday, February 20, 2023

Opus 2023-051: An Oppressor in Every Pot

The act of oppression is almost universal.  It isn’t even usually a desire to oppress.  It is a desire to win, to be in control, to show what great ideas you have.  It is an expression of your ego.  Oppression is just part of the chips from all the hammering.

I think of my grandchildren.  The older is always trying to tell the younger what to do.  If she is clever then everyone is happy and she is in charge.  If she gets too cocky or he is having a bad day then she will up the ante until an adult gets involved.  

We never grow out of that tendency.  

What brought this to mind was a conversation between Os Guinness and Eric Metaxas on a program called Socrates in the City.  They were talking about the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution and relating the French format to the Marxists trying to take over our country.  The Proregressives* have been at it for generations.  One of the forces keeping them at bay has been the nature of the American church.  The First Amendment makes a state church illegal and so religion has thrived with hundreds of independent churches.  None of them were able to get the government to empower them.  The founders recognized that a religious foundation was important and it could only thrive in freedom.

In Europe it was different.  Consider the corruption of the European state churches and how they colluded with the kings in oppressing the people.  Guinness said the reformation set us on the path to individual religious freedom.  Not really.  Luther wanted control as much as the pope did.  The Lutheran church became a state church.  The cycle continued.  Non-state churches were persecuted to the point of death.  Only in the American colonies and later in the Constitution did the idea of religious freedom emerge.  It has paid big dividends.

New Churches start up because the rebels want liberty.  So far so good.  Church splits can cause an increase in spiritual liberty.  After each split the cycle starts again.  One of the first things new churches do is force people to conform to their vision.  Maybe that is necessary and a good thing.  It seems to be inevitable.

We are entering a new era, or else we are firmly entrenched.  For a long time the oppressed could leave home and come to America.  Then they could leave home and move west.  At the present we leave home and move to Texas.  The problem is that the oppressors also don’t like the world they create and move to Texas with us.  And of course they know what is best for us and start working to establish what they ran away from.

There is no place left to run.  We need to take a stand and insist on liberty.  It needs to start on the local leve with city councils or maybe even more local with your HMO.  Get elected to the local board.  Go to meetings.  Start nipping the oppressors in the bud.  It will make them happy because they can feel sorry for themselves and make you happy because they are thwarted.

Get out and run.

homo unius libri

Opus 2023-050: I Join the Huddled Masses

It has been one of these weeks.  My wife had hip surgery scheduled and that took a lot of time and energy.  About the same time I came down with some major chest congestion.  It has been a real struggle.

I think I was sicker than I can remember because something happened that I have heard about but never experienced.  I lost my appetite.  I used to adust the saying, “Stuff a fever, starve a cold” to give me an excuse for whatever I had.  I could not understand having no interest in food but that stage went on for three days.

And my mind.  I think I know what dementia will be like.  I could sit and stare out the window.  Drift off to sleep.  Wake up and keep staring.  I could hold a conversation but didn’t really care.  My balance was off.  On the lowest night I went to the kitchen to heat up a cup of tea I had left for that possibility.  While I was waiting I became aware that I was not so aware.  I ended up crawling back to my room and taking two naps on the way.  

I remember being aware there was a blog that needed minding.  I couldn’t generate any care.

In the midst of that I was supposed to be available in case my wife fell.  Fortunately she has done much better than the first hip.

I am hoping I am back in the swing of things.  One good note is that never felt a need to put myself in the hands of the medical establishment and have a Covid Tag hung on my toe.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Opus 2023-049: Go Natural

More dead, young athletes in the news every day.  That is only part of the tragedy of Thalidomide, the Sequel.  The chemicals injected were not adequately tested and the side effects were covered up.  I accept that.  I think there was plenty of warning for people who were paying attention.  The good news is that the vaccines only kill and cripple a small percentage of those who take them, just like the virus itself.  Your chances are good for survival.

I think the lockdown will have a greater long term effect and it will all be off the radar.  I am not talking about how the kids lost a year of education.  (cue the violins)  Since they would not have learned much, what they would have learned was wrong and their parents could teach them more at home, that is not a big issue for me.

I believe the lockdown did more damage to our immune systems than our education.  One of the often bemoaned results of large numbers of children confined to a small common space is the sharing of germs.  If we could color code day care centers it would be a virtual spectrum of pathogens.  I do not say that as if it were a bad thing.  It is part of the process of growing strong bodies 12 ways without the benefits of Wonder Bread.  Exposure to attacking viruses and bacteria forces your immune system to get off the couch and start working out.  With each match the white blood cells and their allies get stronger and more finessed.  

I came to this thinking about why my granddaughter might be more healthy than the adults in the family even though she is home schooled:  Awanas, Sunday School and the neighbor kids.  They are all a wealth of infecting agents and they cause the family immune systems to be golden.

I think there is a better way to educate than schools as we have them established.  I am not a big fan of public education even though I taught middle school almost 30 years.  One invaluable contribution they make is the constant exposure to bugs.  Historically there were sources for that.  In rural America you got exposure by rolling in the dirt, trying to ride the pig and going to church pot lucks.  In urban America you live in such sterile surroundings that school assumes the role.
Contact with Europeans was devastating to the American Indians.  Compare them with the masses of Europe when it comes to disease.  Europe had paid the price of building immunity over the centuries.  The Americas had to do it all at once.  As the commercial said, “Pay me now or pay me later.”

So if you get sick get a lot of rest, drink plenty of liquids and I recommend my secret family elixir:  Lipton Noodle Soup.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Opus 2023-048: Plow and Crown: Got a Light, Buddy?

One of the characteristics of premodern housing for the masses was a lack of windows.  It may be that our overlords want to drive us back to that level.

I have always thought historically it was because there was a lack of glass and when glass became available it was too expensive.  That is part of it.

A more important reason was the difficulty of heating a home with large glass windows.  It would be labor prohibitive, chopping wood is work, and it would be cost ineffective.  Cheap energy transformed our lives.  It makes it possible to live in a world of light and hope.  The Greens want to take that away and drive us back to caves.  I remember reading that one of the great steps forward in American culture came when Rockefeller brought down the price of kerosene so that common people could afford to stay up after the sun went down.  They could now read and discuss what they read after dark.  A simple thing that may be reversed by our modern Lord and Masters.  Kerosene will pollute and electricity will be expensive.  Back to your caves, peasants.

It is more than gas stoves and meat.  It is about the masses having the free time to pursue a quality of life that the Marxist masters don’t want us to have.

It is not about greenhouse gases, it is about political control.

homo unius libri

Opus 2023-047: Turning Back the Clock

I was reading along, minding my own business.  In Psalm 69 David is bemoaning his situation.  His general feeling is that everyone is out to get him and nothing is going right.  It is good to read the open confessions of the man who is described as a “man after God’s own heart”.  He is down in the dumps.  If you are with him keep in mind that you are in good company.

Then I read a verse that I thought must have come out of a current press release.

(Psa 69:4 NAS77) Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; Those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies, What I did not steal, I then have to restore.
Does this not describe where so many of us are today if we are believers in Jesus Christ and the values of truth and morality that go with that belief?  We are hated and the powers that be are out to destroy us.

Then comes the reparations.  Yes, reparations.  Read that last sentence again and then think about the analysis that is coming out of the recent debates in California:  A state that has never had slavery is demanding that people who never owned slaves pay a lot of money to people who were never slaves.  Go a little deeper.  Your ancestors may have died fighting to end slavery.  On the other side your ancestors may have emigrated after slavery was illegal.  The big bucks are still supposed to be transferred.  

Shades of ancient Israel.

Maybe the next step with be the scapegoat route.  When someone of the right ethnic combination is convicted of a crime maybe we need a law that says someone totally innocent of the crime but from the wrong ethnic combination should do the jail time.  

Do I hear an “Amen”?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Opus 2023-046: Humor Dumb

I have never found Barny Fife funny.  I went through my time of watching The Andy Griffith Show like the rest of you.  Barny was like Lucy or the Three Stooges to me.  He was so sad I could not get into his humor.  

I think I identify with him too much.  He replaced his insecurity with a false macho strut.  He never learned from his mistakes.  He was gullible at the wrong times.  He was totally self centered.  He never noticed that he was being patted on the head.

I wonder if that makes me a liberal.  Liberals don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor.

I hope not.

homo unius libri

Opus 2023-045: Stay out of Paris

I am wondering what it was like living in France during the French Revolution if you did not live in Paris.  Was blood flowing in the streets everywhere or just where the French Socialists were at a certain flash point or critical mass.  I have heard that the modern French seem to hold their collective noses when they talk about Paris.  It would seem that even the French have some issues with the French.

Back to the revolution.  If you lived in a village on the Swiss border did life go on as usual.  Our modern excuse for media loves to hype things up and push us into panic mode.  I don’t know how many times my wife has been ready to rewrite her will just because the weather man told us we were all going to die.  I remember reading about the violence in Portland and other Antifa vacation destinations and wondering why anyone would be driving through areas like that.  I wonder how much violence could be avoided with a little bit of common sense.

Modern communication puts everything right in our face.  We can sometimes be right on the scene as the ambulances are arriving.  It gives us the illusion that we are in danger.  Riots in Atlanta?  Go look out the window.  Are you in Atlanta?  Get out a map and calculate how far Atlanta is from your house.  Do you have a field of fire and something to do the firing with?  Maybe it isn’t something that will effect you.

How does that apply if the United States goes critical?  If things start to fall apart, will it come to your front door?  If there is some kind of event, an EMP or a massive earthquake that takes out the infrastructure of Los Angeles, will it cause any ripples in Wichita?  If a nuke went off over D.C. when Congress was in session, would it mean your electricity would go off?  Would we even notice?

Probably not.  That may mean I don’t vacation in San Francisco or hit the beach in Hawaii.  That may crater their economy but it won’t do much to fly over country.

Prepare.  Pray.  Use common sense.  Help your neighbors.  Most of us will come through whatever is down the road.

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Opus 2023-044: Woe! And Again I Say, Woe!

Woe is me.

Or at least woe used to be me.  In the midst of my attitude of thanksgiving I was reminded that I have not always been this way.  It is embarrassing to say that as I look back over the blessings of my life I see large patches of ignoring those blessings.  What I have to say is in the spirit of memoir rather than judgement.

I have had times of wallowing in my woe.  I think that a psychologist would say I was struggling with depression and he would be half right.  I was depressed but I was wallowing rather than struggling.  For me there was a certain self-satisfaction in feeling sorry for myself.  Do you remember when you went through the stage of losing your baby teeth?  One of the things I remember was that sensation when a tooth would be ready to come out.  It would be loose but not loose enough.  I found that if I wiggled it with my tongue there was a sensation that I would classify as “pain” but it was a pleasant pain.  So I would wiggle it again.  Eventually my mother would catch on and find a way to encourage it exiting from my mouth.  The one tooth she did not find out about came out so late that the replacement grew out crooked.

My depression was like that.  It hurt.  I enjoyed it.  I was able to blame everyone else while feeling self-righteous.  Fortunately I managed to get out of it.  How?  With the worship of praise and thanksgiving.  It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are focused on the glory of God.  It is hard to miss your blessings when He expands your vision.

I still toy with the fun of wallowing but not for long.  Each morning when I say, “Good morning, Lord” I find Him waiting for me.  If I have been wallowing I can see Him shaking His head.  Then He reminds me of my grandchildren or the people who worked to bring my morning coffee or, well, the list goes on.  Enjoying my blessings is much better than tales of woe.

So I rejoice in a world that had someone decide that a recliner was great for sitting and multiple translations of the Bible were windows to the joy of eternity.

I hope you can join me.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 3, 2023

Opus 2023-043: Bone Picking

I have a tendency to pick apart just about anything I hear or read.   I can’t help myself.  I have read more than average and I listen a lot when people talk.  Much I forget.  Some I retain.  What seems to always cause the problem is the gestalt encyclopedia buried deep in my psyche.  When something does not add up it starts turning pages and my baloney meter starts to quiver.  

Let me give you a non-threatening example.  My wife has been reading a commentary on the Old Testament written by Dennis Prager.  She shared with me that Prager, who is quite a scholar, said that according to Jewish tradition the milk and honey mentioned often in the Bible was not what Americans thought it was.  He said the milk was goats milk and the honey was really a very sweet substance obtained from the date palms of the area.  That is what she said as near as I can remember.  Don’t hold Prager to task for her version.  I had no problem with the goats milk.  I read Proverbs regularly and goats milk fits in just fine.  My issue was with the date honey.  I had to check my Bible but it seemed to me that Sampson found a bee hive with honey in the carcase of a lion he had killed.  

(Jdg 14:8 KJV)  And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
A quick search shows that the references to “mild and honey” in the Old Testament are all the same Hebrew word.  No big deal.  We are not talking earthshaking, just giving you an example.

I get criticized for that.

I think it is a good thing.  Too often the big lie is introduced by a credibility that is established by the little lies.  I get irritated by lemon drops labeled as a “fat free” food.  The statement is true but the impression of being healthy is deceptive.  They are primarily sugar, which I have no quarrel with but is not noted as being good for you.  When you take the lies of the media and Marxism and the way they are repeated you get the idea.  Who has not heard the line that “real socialism” has never been tried.

I remember the days of my youth and the constant challenge to keep my junker car running.  Let’s have a show of hands.  How many can remember setting the points?  A little bit of fudge can go a long way toward walking home.  Nuance and nit picking is the difference between a high performance engine and an assembly of metal parts.

So indulge me.  While you are at it try to keep your facts straight.  I would hate to have a bone to pick with you.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Opus 2023-042: Boggled Minds

There are certain concepts that we can express and even work with but never really understand.  I am not sure what they are called in science but in theology are often called mysteries.  Some of the concepts are common to both.

For instance take the scientific theory the Big Bang.  The moment, if you can use such a term before time began, before the explosion was made up of nothing.  There is a lot of sloppy thinking about this “nothing”.  It does not mean the vacuum of space.  Even in the expanse between stars there are atoms and molecules floating around.  The “empty” areas are full of energies and waves that are not well understood but exist.  It is not the nothing that the scientists are talking about.  They mean truly nothing.

In the same way theologians talk about God creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing.  It has a Latin phrase, creato ex nihilo.  God is outside this material universe and called it into being with His word.  Just as we have a hard time understanding the time before the Big Bang we can’t grasp what was before “in the beginning.”

I don’t know if it is considered a math or science concept but infinity is another idea that we cannot grasp in our mind.  There is no final number.  You can always add one, or even another infinity.  Yet it is useful in formulas and theories.

Christians talk about eternity and the attributes of God such as omnipresent.  This comes home to me when I think about what it will be like existing forever.  Add the that the idea that it will be just as glorious after a million years as it was the first.  That is far beyond my imagination but I can work with it.

How about the square root of minus one?  I know I have mentioned it before.  The square root of a number is a number you multiply by itself to get the first.  For example, the square root of 4 is 2.  2 times 2 equals 4, except in 1984.  The square root of 9 is 3.  Another rule of mathematics is that when you multiply a negative number by a positive number you get a negative number, thus 1 x -1=-1.  When you multiply a negative times a negative you get a positive, -1x-1=1.  A little thinking will tell you that you can’t get a square root of -1 and yet it is used in math formulas.  I have not figured out how this would apply to theology unless it has something to do with the incarnation or the trinity.

Keep in mind that the answer, “I don’t know” is nothing to fear or be ashamed of.  If you don’t know what you don’t know you will have a hard time learning new things.

Let us keep thinking.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Opus 2023-041: Headlines: Sun Rises in the East

Actually the headline said that they found no classified documents in President Biden’s beach house.  Are you surprised?  Are you shocked?  Keep in mind the search was done by the FBI which serves under an appointee of President Biden.  Yes, the same FBI that can’t find the list of people who went to Epstein’s island and didn’t know where the lap top was.

It is a sad day when you have absolutely no trust in the government agency responsible for the law or the media that reports on it.

Welcome to 21st Century America.

homo unius libri

Opus 2023-040: Starting Time

“Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”  That used to be a common sentiment.  Today I would find myself saying, “Don’t trust anyone under thirty.”  This of course speaks to the different ways that generations view things.  One of the books I read recently was Bowling Alone.  It had a lot of interesting information and a lot of boring nonsense.  One of the points the book made was that there has been a lot of parallel changes in many areas of our culture from voting to church attendance.  On the subject of voting it says,

“Very little of the net decline in voting is attributable to individual change, and virtually all of it is generational.” p. 34
There is a lot of discrimination that goes on across generations.  Some of it is warranted, some is not.  In many career paths older workers have a hard time getting a job that pays well even if they have the abilities and experience.  

I have reached the golden years of retirement.  If the government does not totally ruin our society and I don’t do something incredibly stupid, I will have enough to live on.  My health is good.  My family is awesome.  I am enjoying the time I have.  But I sometimes wonder if I should be doing more.  This hit me when I saw the following verse,
(Gen 12:4 KJV)  So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Abram was 75 when he started out on his adventure of obedience and faith.  I can’t picture that.  I am ready to rest on my laurels, Abram was starting the nation of Israel.  

Maybe I should set my goals a bit higher.  Maybe not.

Putnam, Robert D.  Bowling Alone.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2000.

homo unius libri