April 2006

27 Apr 2006

What gets 15 feet tall, invades quickly, is hard to kill, and cause the kind of suffering that makes poison ivy seem nice by comparison? You guessed it: giant hogweed. Good grief, look at the size of this monster!

And this striking but scary alien is spreading into Ohio from Pennsylvania. There was an article in a NE Ohio paper last year about a man who found more than 100 of these things surrounding his barn, calling it “a forest of hogweed.” “I tried to kill them,” he said, “but you can’t destroy them.”

I don’t want to start a panic, but… Run for your lives!

All right, so it’s not another 1950s B movie. It’s just another oddity in God’s great big world.

24 Apr 2006

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. -Mark 9:42

At a Sam’s Club customer service desk, I was recently greeted by a stunning young woman with large breasts and a low neckline that served them up on almost full display. This, friends, was a “not good for my health” moment. These stumbling blocks are everywhere: stores, ballgames, and worst of all, church. And so what Christian man cannot say amen to this article?

Have mercy on us, ladies.

22 Apr 2006

In the essay Christ!, Muggeridge has this to say:

In my day, the Evening Standard vans carried a bill: “IS THERE AN AFTER LIFE? SEE TOMORROW’S EVENING STANDARD… Jesus Christ… is a Name Which Makes News. During his lifetime he would not, perhaps, have rated the attention of William Hickey, but his subsequent fame, and the wealth and eminence of many of those associated with it, qualified him for a place in gossip column. From [Publisher] Lord Beaverbrook’s point of view, His was essentially a success story. From humble origins (though, as the Son of God, He might be considered to have exalted connections) He achieved a position of outstanding power and influence. The Crucifixion was a setback, certainly, but the Resurrection more than compensated for it… His astonishing career, from carpenter’s son to an accepted position on God’s right hand, exemplified Lord Beaverbrook’s favorite proposition that dazzling opportunities await whoever has the shrewdness, energy, and pertinacity to see and seize them. Not even the sky was the limit. It was as a successful propagandist that Jesus Christ won Lord Beaverbrook’s particular admiration. Without the advantage of a chain of newspapers, lacking financial resources and powerful earthly connections, he still managed to put across his ideas so effectively that nearly two thousand years later they are still ringing in mankind’s ears.

Now does that not remind you of how the mainstream media covers Christ today? Never mind all that stuff about His deity, His eternal kingdom, or His claims on His own creation. Just marvel that He’s still famous after all these years.

“He made the forest whence there sprung, the tree on which His body hung,” Phil Keaggy wrote. The clay writes about the very potter who created them as if He were yet another celebrity. (And after that they’ll tell you why all the millenia of serious Scriptural study missed out on how Jesus was a feminist, or a Marxist, or some other anachronism that just so happens to match the spirit of this age… but that is for another time).

18 Apr 2006

With which of the following statements do you most agree?

“Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.”

“Away from [the church] one cannot hope for any forgiveness of sins or any salvation.”

For the average evangelical Christian, the first statement may lack some balance, but the second sounds downright Romish. If this describes your reaction, then your ecclesiology is closer to the author of the first, Lenny Bruce, than to the author of the second, John Calvin (Institutes, 4.1.4).

Here we have a very helpful article on the forgotten Reformation doctrine of sola ecclesia. It is a balm in an individualistic culture that increasingly despises “organized religion.” It shows the link between the kingdom of God and the church.

Gospel means “good news”… Popularly, people believe the good news is different things: Jesus dying for sin, grace, justification, adoption, reconciliation, and peace with God… But biblically, the good news is the good news of the kingdom of God/heaven. The things mentioned above are implications of the coming of the kingdom. Biblically, the response is to repent and believe the good news that the kingdom has come in Christ… Once we understand that the gospel is about the kingdom, we must ask ourselves, What is the kingdom of God? … At its most basic level, the kingdom is the reign and rule of God, administered through Jesus Christ. The good news is that this kingdom has been brought to bear through Christ. Seeing the unbreakable connection between gospel and kingdom, we also see how Christ’s roles as Savior and Lord are inseparable. To repent and believe the gospel is to acknowledge Christ as King, to submit one’s will to his, and to be ruled over by him in his dispensation of mercy, justice, and love. But how does Christ rule over his kingdom? How does he administer his kingship? He does so through the church, to which he has given the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19), the gifts of office (Eph. 4:8-13), his own Shepherd’s voice in the preaching of the Word (Rom. 10:14, 17), his faithful Shepherd’s care (1 Pet. 5:1-5), and the means of grace (Acts 2:42). To be outside the church is to be at odds with Christ’s rule, his protection, provision, and tender discipline.

14 Apr 2006

From “In the Hour of Trial” by James Montgomery, 1771-1854:

With forbidden pleasures
Should this vain world charm
Or its tempting treasures
Spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance
Sad Gethsemane
Or, in darker semblance,
Cross-crowned Calvary.

12 Apr 2006

PBS ran a documentary recently about the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. As usual with these kinds of shows, it focused on “clues” the voyage gives us about the origin of life. When watching nature shows, I always find it more interesting to disregard such pretentious balderdash and just ponder God’s hand in it all.

Saturn’s rings are a collection of ice particles, ranging from grains to barn-sized rocks, madly revolving around the great planet at speeds literally faster than a speeding bullet, violently colliding. Boom. Bang. God knows when each collision will occur. And all we see in pictures and our telescopes is the mysterious beauty of it all. In Lewis-speak, the rings invite us to look at the beam and along it.

08 Apr 2006

Fr. William Mouser of St. Athanasius Anglican Church in Texas posts comments on Baylyblog whose wisdom leaves one wanting more. This provocative comment, for example, screams “Book-length treatment, please!”

He has a site. Perhaps one day he’ll have a blog.

05 Apr 2006

The ephemeral bloodroot is blooming now in central Ohio. It’s springtime.


01 Apr 2006

“I would say his acceptance of the Mohicans of the time is similar to my inclusion of gay- lesbian -bisexual- transgendered people now,” Janet Edwards said.

That non sequitur is from this descendant of Jonathan Edwards… Perhaps it won’t be too surprising that she is a priestess in the Presbyterian Church USA.

Ms. Edwards receives support from another seminarian, an Edwards “scholar,” no less.

…Jonathan Edwards scholar Amy Plantiga Pauw, a doctrinal theology professor at Louisville (Ky.) Presbyterian Seminary, calls Janet Edwards’ argument persuasive. “There is a kind of parallel — Jonathan Edwards was not afraid to challenge so-called respectable Christians of his time,” Pauw said.

Banal political-speak aside, this quote reminds me of an interview with a Duke graduate with a degree in religion. Asked what he learned in his four years, he replied that it boiled down to one thing: all religions are the same.

Learned, but never learning.