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Hey. Its been quite a while since I posted anything. So long in fact that I have began to worry that WordPress might get rid of my blog for inactivity or something. Anyhow I would hate that to happen and besides I have an idea rattling around in my head that might make a decent post. So here goes….
I think sometimes Science can, like a lot of things, be right and wrong about something at the same time. Take for instance the idea that the universe is more or less expanding and contracting. If you are not familiar with the thinking (and I myself may not even be) the theory goes like this. Since the “big bang” the universe has been, more or less, flying apart. The day will come though when gravity will catch up and everything will contract ending creation as we know it. Presumably this will be followed by another “big bang” and once again we are off to the races, ad naseum. Now as a theologian slash carpenter I am in no real position to critic the Science. I can however note that it does, in a sort of neat kind of way pick up on the way God does things. Think about this: every Lord’s day God calls His people to Himself by His Spirit for worship. In other words we (the church) sort of contract. But we dont stay contracted. No indeed for after we worship (and fellowship etc. ) we explode. We go out into the world and we seek, by His grace and good pleasure, to bring more of the “world”, not to its doom, but into His presence. The great thing is that the intended end of all this contracting and expanding is not one damn thing after another. No siree, not at all. The inteneded end is a new creation. New creation that goes on and on and on. Forever and forever. Amen!

Why it scares you..

Anyone who is at all familiar with horror movies knows that there are a quite a few of them built around the theme or concept of the demonic child. “The Orphan”, “The Good Son” and “Its Alive” all come to mind. There are of course many, many others and understandably so. For the very idea of a demonic, murdering child is indeed freakish and one well suited to the horror movie genre. So, I ask myself, what is going on here? What is it about the idea of a demon child that we find so creepy? The answer lies, at least on the surface anyway, on how we view children. Theology aside, our society like most societies tends to think of children as being innocent and pure. Therefore, the very idea of a murderous demonic child is itself a monstrosity. It is an idea that those writing horror stories or scripts find easy to build upon.
Yet I think there is perhaps a deeper reason we find the idea of a murderous child horrific. In other words, I think that when we think of what children and childhood symbolizes in biblical thinking, we can grasp the true reason we find the above so perverse. For while the bible does think of children and childhood as icons of innocence, Scripture also thinks of the redemption of man, and of mankind as being intimately connected with a child. Simply put the reason we think the idea of a demonic child a monstrosity is that it is an almost perfect perversion of the life giving Christ child. Really, demonic children scare us not so much because they murder but because they pervert the hope of Christ. A hope we all long for and hold on to. Even if only intuitively.

More Organized Religion.

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I heard an interesting statistic this morning. Apparently, 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christian though only 20% attend worship services on a regular basis. This statistic led me to consider how it is that being a Christian has become separated from the worship of God. There are many clues that point towards how this has happened. Let me give one example. You have probably heard it said, “Christianity is a relationship and not a religion”. It is an interesting proposition, one with a long and heretical (Gnostic) pedigree and it is easy to see where this leads. “Having Jesus in my heart is of primary importance, things like worship, preaching and the sacraments are secondary to that, in fact they can even be dispensed with when necessary.” “Necessity” of course being almost completely ambiguous.
Yet, can we say that as Christians we are more or less compelled by Scripture to attend corporate worship? Yes we can and we can go on to argue for “more” than “less”.
Recently, I have been reading G. K .Beale. One of my favorites is an academic work titled “We Become What We Worship, a biblical theology of idolatry”. In it, Beale traces the history and effects of idolatry on the nation of Israel and on the New Israel, the Israel of God, the Church. Beale is not alone in his observations. Other men such as Ricky Watts have made similar ones, but the important point is this: we become what we worship, and I would add everyone worships, like it or not.
This brings me back to my original question and its answer: yes, corporate worship is essential to the Christian life and to eternity for the Christian life is preeminently about becoming like Christ. Worship is central to that and while it may be true that you have Jesus in your heart, it may be the case that apart from engaging in the corporate worship of the Triune God of Scripture that may be another Jesus you have rattling around in your chest.
Yet someone will surely say to me OK, but I still do not need a church to worship. A point I will of course dispute and will dispute it based on 1 Corinthians chapters 10-11, where Paul appeals to the sacramental presence of Jesus in the Old Covenant as a warning against idolatry in the New. In other words, Paul’s warning to the Corinthians is a very good place to argue for the presence of Christ, the Spiritual presence of Christ, during the course of worship. This Spiritual presence forms the image of Christ in us. Of course, the reverse is also true. For there are a diversity of spirits, not all of which are from Christ, though all have the same power to conform.
Next Sunday then ask yourself “Whose image do I profess to bear?” and remember. Actions speak louder than words.

Loving those who “get it”.

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Americans are probably among the most competitive people in the world. You see it in all sorts of places and in a myriad of forms. Whether its keeping up with the Joneses, or cattiness in the office we love to compete, and so we do. Now I am not against competition. In fact healthy competition is good for everyone involved, which brings me to the question. Just how can we describe or think of competition in a healthy manner? In other words, what is healthy competition?
Let me start by saying what it is not. Mindsets, attitudes and actions that engage in competition for the purpose of self-aggrandizement are unhealthy and sinful. For instance, publically running down your neighbor’s yard so that you can brag about your own lawn mowing skills is an example of sinful competiveness. Boasting about what a great day you had or how wonderful your house is or how great you church fellowships is, and how it’s not like those other churches who just don’t “get it” can all be examples of what I am talking about. Simply put competition is sinful when its aim is to build me up by destroying my neighbor, or his reputation or his anything else and of course, like any sin, it offers what it can never deliver. Glory, that which is desired in all of this, can never be achieved by self-aggrandizement. For the road to glory lies through the cross. Glory comes through dying and is never the product of human achievement. So we ask ourselves, where is boasting?
Now as I am writing this I am at least vaguely aware that I too engage in sinful competition. We all do, for sinful competition is, after all, a symptom of a larger problem. For at the end of the day we are all, as John Calvin put it, “idol factories”.
Which brings me back to the quest for glory and my exhortation to all. Seek glory where it may be found, by dying. Be as Jesus Who set His glory aside for the sake of another. Seek the glory of your neighbor and not of yourself, for glory cannot come from yourself. It must be bestowed. Humble yourself before the Mighty Hand of The Lord and He will lift you up.
Glory in your neighbor’s house, and in his messy yard and in his sometimes-unruly children. Praise God that some do not get it as you do. Love the unlovely and so prove yourself a child of your heavenly Father.
Grow up.
Be like Him.

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