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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

All this hubbub about the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions touching sodomite unions has people wondering if the United States is caput. Many are also wondering what place of the church of Jesus Christ has to speak to all of this political/judicial/moral carnage.

As a Christian (read: Bible-believer), I am opposed to homosexual activity. I don’t think that a man can “marry” another man. By his Word God defines marriage, and that necessarily precludes same-sex marriages. There is A LOT more to say than that, but at least that needs to be said.

Jefe, would you say that we have a plethora of sexual perversions?

Okay, so if the church of Jesus Christ follows the written Word of God, she will be opposed to homosexual perversions (as well as the PLETHORA of other sexual perversions). What shape should that opposition take?

Like everything else, there is a lot to say about this. In the remainder of this post, I want to highlight a very helpful distinction between the church as institution and the church as organism. The institution of the church is the form the church takes in her government and liturgical ministry. The church of Jesus Christ IS an institution: it has officers (elders and deacons), formal discipline (ending in excommunication), and a formal ministry (the liturgical preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments). However, the church is also rightly conceived of as an organism, a living being. The church is a body fit together with all sorts of people, each of whom are gifted and empowered by the Spirit to live out the commandments of God in their own lives, in communion with one another, and in this world.

The concept of the church as institution is roundly hated by many, including many Christians in our day. We read silliness like, “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” The reality, of course, is that it is both of those and more. Regarding our point, the church as organism is dependent upon the church as institution. The regular function of the institutional church empowers and protects the functioning of the church as organism.

Alright, if that distinction makes sense, let’s move on to apply it to the present situation of homosexual “marriage.” How should the church as institution oppose sodomite unions? Should our elders, sessions, bishops, etc. tell us to vote for this or that candidate? Should our pastors stand in the pulpits and say, “Support proposition X” or “Oppose candidate Y”? I do not think so. That’s right. I do NOT think so. I think that the FORMAL ministry of God’s Word should be just that, a ministry of the God’s Word: Law and Gospel. The people who sit under that faithful ministry should go forth, as the organism of the church, and live according to that Word. Thus, the people of God could rightly band together in political/social groups to oppose this issue or support that one. The institution of the church, however, should not engage in that sort of political and social work directly. The institution of the church should continue heralding God’s Word in faithfulness, empowering the organism of the church to apply that Word faithfully in all areas of life.

This distinction, if kept, will allow Christians to live as Christians in EVERY age without making the institutional church the water carrier for any particular age’s political/social agenda. The distinction, if lost, will subject the institutional church to the political/social whims of every age and will rob the organism of the church of her very power house: the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

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Daveed’s Stud Pose

First off, let me mention that I’m very proud of my friend, Daveed. When I first met him, he was a Muslim and well on his way to being a radical one. Since then, by the power of the resurrected Christ, he’s become a Christian. Praise God! This whole process has given him something of a unique perspective on radical Islam, both domestic and international. You can read all about his experience in My Year Inside Radical Islam. A couple of years ago he also authored a book about how America is not winning the war on terrorism called Bin Laden’s Legacy.

Alright, enough pluggin’ his written work. How about Daveed’s recent work on CNN ? Dig this:

A discussion worth watching

As it comes to the content of that discussion, I admit that I know virtually nothing. Even so, one thing stood out to me that seems quite helpful. Daveed distinguished between “radicalization” and the willingness to engage in violence. These two things are most certainly distinct and need to be understood as such.

Let me illustrate how important this distinction is. I would be (and probably should be) viewed as a radical Christian. (more…)

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What is the relationship between spiritual maturity and knowledge of things theological and biblical? This question could be addressed by way of a similar question in a different arena. What’s the relationship between knowledge about how to have good marriage and actually having a good marriage?

If asked in that way, I think a significant portion of the answer is immediately apparent. Can one have a good marriage without knowledge of how to have one? No. That knowledge can be attained from experience (as opposed to reading). What’s more, a person might have that knowledge from experience and not be able to formulate and articulate it. Even so, knowledge about having a good marriage is necessary to having a good marriage, but it is not sufficient to have a good marriage. Clearly, the knowledge must be applied. (more…)

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Before we even get into it, I want to highlight a few things that are important:

A Super-Cute Newborn

I know that life situations can be very hard, sexual problems can be intensely difficult, unplanned/unwanted pregnancies will often change lives drastically, and that many people seeking abortions are hurting in big ways; they need help. I have committed my life to the service of Jesus Christ and, therefore, to the service of other people. I am quite interested in helping people, but not all “help” helps. Because I follow Jesus and try to live according to his Word, the Bible, I firmly maintain that abortion IS murder and should be illegal, punished just like any other murder. The modern/current discussions surrounding abortion are, like a freshly brewed mug of coffee, almost always too hot to hold for very long. I am not interested in the heat, but I am interested in reasoned, substantive and honest discussion. Mostly, I’m interested in ministering to and helping people in a moral, Christ-honoring (and therefore helpful) way.

Okay, let’s get into it. Any casual observer of pro-abortion polemics would think that rape and incest are two major factors leading to a goodly number abortions. In fact, if we add those two reasons to the big mama, the life/health of the mother, we have the three-legged foundation of a “reasonable” approach to keeping abortion “safe and legal.” (more…)

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The Brothers KThe Brothers K by David James Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was given this book by a non-Christian neighbor. I traded him reads. I gave him Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and he gave me this.

I have to give Mr. Duncan a hand on an energetic, well-written book. From a literary standpoint, it was a pleasure to read. It had me laughing out loud enough to irritate my wife. The characters came across as, for the most part, honest and believable. Sometimes I thought that the brothers’ star qualities seemed a little over the top, but it still read well.

The title obviously alludes to Dostoevsky’s famous book, a book that I’ve read but once, but that I loved. This tale of divergent brothers takes places within a home where the mother is a committed Adventist and the father is a committed baseball player. These varied influences bear exceedingly varied fruit in the lives of the children (four sons and younger twin girls). They all go off in different directions and mostly reap the whirlwind (similar, in this respect, to Dostoevsky’s book). (more…)

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Augustine and Calvin

This post is mostly a personal recollection about how I came to know “the doctrines of grace” or “Calvinism.” There have been a couple of instances recently that have prompted me to think about how it was that I became a Calvinist. Before I delve into some personal reflection, however, I should like to tidy up things on a terminological level. What’s meant by the terms “Calvinism,” “the doctrines of grace,” “sovereign grace,” and the like?

Typically, people use all of those words/phrases to point to John Calvin’s emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation. Calvin, however, was no innovator. The set of teachings that bears his name has very little to do with him specifically. (more…)

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Pondering deep Christian thoughts, to be sure…

Maile and I currently have four kids. Calvin is coming up on 8, Anuhea 6, Anselm 4, and Ambrose 2. Needless to say, I’m interested in education. Being a Christian, I’m interested in Christian education. Being a Christian, I’m also interested in excellence. Put it together and I’m interested in excellent Christian education. So far, so good.

We’ve been homeschooling, of course, from the beginning. However, when it came down to moving beyond simple reading and arithmetic, we found it challenging to make sure that things were getting covered. By contrast, one thing a good school has going for it is that all areas of importance have been brought together and the scope and sequence of each have been planned out. It was the whole making-sure-everything’s-covered-and-covered-well thing that seemed to Maile and me to be a bit of a bugger.

There are various ways for homeschool parents to address this issue. The way we have found has been glorious. Classical Conversations is group that is engineered to empower and help homeschool parents by forming local communities committed to classical and Christian education. Calvin and Sissy took advantage of their stellar Foundations program this past academic year. Next year, we’ll add Anselm into the mix. That ought to be interesting: yeah, he’s pretty loud.

‘Round these parts, in Columbia County, Oregon, we have a wonderful little (and growing!), committed community. Please take a look at it. It you’re interested in talking about this wonderful aid to your homeschool labors (even if you’re just curious), please contact me. The CC website is quite informative, so be sure to check it out.

CC’s been a great blessing to us this year. We’d like to see it grow, thrive and become a greater blessing to more families. Come join us.

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