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Friday, January 20, 2006


This one will stretch your mind, I ASSURE YOU. tHE QUESTION: wHat's wrong with RACHEL'S KEYBoARD NOW?

tHIS DISFUNCTION IS HAppening on severAL LEVELS. tHE ONE YOU Can see AND Can, with some flexATION OF THE GRay mATTER, GUESS. tHERE are other things hAPPENING, THOUGH WHICH YOU Can't see AND i DON'T Care to expound.


hERE IT IS: gOD IS ONCE agAIN TEaching me something: paTIENCE (DUH) and humility. Holly wAS TELLING ME about this problem, AND i THOUGHT SHE Was just inADVERTantly hitting a WRONG KEY. i Had to humble myself, AFTER Taking A REDICULOUS amoung of time to write A SIMPLE EMail, AND apologiz.+e to her for disbelieving her struggle AND WRITING IT OFF as simple, unwARRanted griping.

God, thANKYOU FOR MY COMPUTER, and my husbAND and my kids (ORDER INSIGNIFICant). ThANK YOU FOR TEaching me humility in unexpected wAYS. You ARE the greAT and wonderful God.
CreATE IN ME a cleAN HEart thAT IS alwAYS GRateful, AND FROM WHICH SPILLS FORTH "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" TO yOUR GLORY.
In Jesus nAME, Amen

Monday, January 16, 2006

But What Does God Say?

While I can observe others and ponder what is going on in their minds based on what I see in their countenence and actions, I still KNOW nothing. God, on the other hand, not only sees what is on the inside, He also made them. He knows how He created the beings to be and can discern their innermost being. When we want to know about something, we should seek God's wisdom. (Thanks to Paster Bayly for pointing me back to the Bible when I would lean on my own understanding.)

I have already stated my opinion and erred my views. I thought about deleting that post, just because, well, who cares? In real life, though, you can't take back words, really. They have been said, written, posted. So they stand, and are about to be overshadowed by the Word of God. Gird up your loins, God has something to say about this:

Lets start here in Matthew 5.
Verse 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

This is very strange; it sounds as though the world will either willingly or unwillingly admire you if you faithfully shine, especially coming on the heels of what Jesus had just said:
in verses 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
and 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

It might be helpful to see verses 14 through 16 in another place in Scripture. In I Peter 2:11&12, the idea is expanded just so subtly:
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Would that be the day when...

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

From the beginning of time, there has been this relationship between the children/followers of God and the enemies of God (which you once were...). Cain, in Genesis saw that Abel's acts were righteous, and hated him. Examples like this pepper the old testament narratives, this one is easy to find though, because it is so explicit.

The Psalms are full of statements of this relationship. Some of the most obvious follow:
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.

14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.

15 My disgrace is before me all day long,
and my face is covered with shame

16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

17 All this happened to us,
though we had not forgotten you
or been false to your covenant. (Psalm 44)

6 You have made us a source of contention to our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us. (Psalm 80)

22 Remove from me scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.

23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.

24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors. (Psalm 119)

At the same time, there are the wonderfully familiar words of Psalm 23 which give us hope in God for this life and beyond:
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Then we have the words of Jesus:

21 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!" (Matthew 10)

12 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke 21)

18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'" (John 15)

Actually, we could stop there, but then we have the words of the Apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God:

11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. (I John 3)

...And the Word of God through the Prophets:

7 O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
"Terror on every side!
Report him! Let's report him!"
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
"Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him."
11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten. (Jeremiah 20)

I think that the overwhelming evidence of Scripture would indicate that any favorable vibes from the World toward Christians are either
*God's providence in the present world,
*the result of proclaiming "peace, peace" when there is no peace,
*the day has arrived when "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father."

But be comforted, brother, for
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (I John 5)

So, do they love you more than Him?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What do I think they think?

The point of this post: I don't want to just wave the flag of my own opinion to no purpose. I don't think that Christian's ought to be looking for trouble, you know, imagining persecution when there is only annoyance at their duplicity. I also don't think that Christians ought to be under the impression that unbelievers secretly admire them, unless this is true.

I also don't think that Christians who receive persecution due to the faithful proclamation of the gospel, ought to whine about that, but rather rejoice as Christ said.

It all started with the "Christmas, 1988, N Train" post below, taken from the BaylyBlog by permission. (This blog is that of Paster Tim Bayly of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Bloomington Indiana and his brother Paster David Bayly of Christ the Word Church in Toledo Ohio.) I don't read the New Yorker, and when I have seen New Yorker comics either on blogs, or whole calendars full of them, I generally don't get them. I am not a New Yorker, I guess. This post, however, I found completely fascinating and compelling.

This raises the question: What does the World think of Christians, Christianity, and God?

My reasoning: I do not think that Polycarp's accusers would actually burn him alive if they secretly admired him, and they certainly would not have filled a stadium with people anxious to see this spectical! Examples like Polycarp go on and on.

Personal experience: A discussion at work over lunch turned to Christian witness. One person present has a sister who is always bringing up church and Jesus to him. He spoke of his sister with contempt in his voice and face. This is a man whom I have never seen or heard referring to someone with contempt. This prompted another person to express hatred for people who try to convince others of the gospel (AKA: force their religion/morality on them). Again, this is a person who, at least in my presense, is generally soft-spoken and sweet. She spoke harsh words tinged with hatred.

At Planned Parenthood one day, when there was a Pro-Abortion protester present, I conversed with some of my fellow protesters about this young woman's motives. These other folks held the opinion that the opposition actually, at some level, sees the wisdom or rightness of the anti-abortion cause. This young woman and others on Thursday mornings have made gestures and comments, they go by shaking their heads in digust, they laugh at the anti-abortion protesters. As one who has been indoctrinated into the American Way over the past many years, spending more time in the kingdon of this world than in the Kingdom of God, I can say with certainty that these people are not on any level, seeing the point. They laugh not out of nervousness that they realize their error, but refuse to face it. They laugh because they recognize that we are fools. They shake their heads not because they are secretly resenting their inability to turn to what they know is right, but because they know we are complete idiots, and cannot fathom someone clinging to these archaic and socially harmful principles.

It doesn't matter what I think, though. What does the Word of God say? It is amazing that God made everything, and therefore is THE expert on what is, and how things work... When He has something to say about something, He is right.

Coming up: What does God say that the World thinks about us?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Kindling Polycarp Incandescence (III)

Why do I keep taking about fire, and why did I site these martyr deaths? Put your lighter away, I am not suggesting we light the night sky with ourselves, at least not until it comes to that. I am suggesting that we need to be willing, no; proactive about making a specticle of ourselves.
For an excellent and challenging sermon on this go here and download the sermon for October 23, 2005. Tell me if it is just me, or is this a haunting challenge? (How did he know about my mother-in-law, and my boss?...eerie!)

Will we in 2006 set ourselves ablaze for Jesus? It aint no big deal!

11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:11-16)

Kindling Polycarp Incandescence (II)

Others willing to set themselves on fire for Christ:

(Kuiper, B.K.; The Church in History; copyright 1951 by The National Union of Christian Schools, Grand Rapids, MI; pp. 62, 63)

Polycarp was the last of those who had been personally taught by the apostles. He was arrested and brought into the amphitheater in Smyrna, which was filled with an immense multitude. Since there were no images of gods in the houses of worship of the Christians, the heathen rightly concluded that the Chirstians did not believe in the existence of the gods; and so they accused them of being atheists... The procunsul reminded Polycarp of his great age, and urged him to show his penitence by joining in the cry of "Away with the atheists!" Polycarp looked straight at the excited crowd, pointed his finger at them and cried, "Away with the atheists!"

Then the proconsul said, "Revile Christ, and I will release you."

But Polycarp answered, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has never done me wrong; how can I blaspheme Him, my King, who has saved me? I am a Christian."

To the crowd the proconsul then proclaimed, "Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian."

The crowds yelled, "Let him be burned!"

Wood was collected and made into a pile. Polycarp asked not to be fastened to the stake. "Leave me thus," he said. "He who strengthens me to endure the flames, will also enable me to stand firm at the stake without being fastened with nails." The wood pile was lighted. While Polycarp prayed with a loud voice, "Lord God Almighty, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I praise thee that thou hast judged me worthy of this day and of this hour to participate in the number of thy witnesses, and in the cup of thy Christ," the flames consumed him. Polycarp's martyr death took place in the year 155.

( )

He endured a multitude of tortures. Then he was condemned to be consumed by a slow and gentle fire. Throughout it all, he exhibited an undeniable proof of his sincere devotedness to God. (352)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Kindling Polycarp Incandescence (I)

From the BaylyBlog>, an example of one setting himself on fire for Jesus:

...where will you take tidings of comfort and joy this (year)?

Christmas, 1988, N Train

A young woman we know writes: It was the gilt-edged pages that gave him away. Most people who read the Bible on the subway have a small pocket edition and keep it to themselves. This young man looked as if he had come away with the family King James. Otherwise, he was ordinary-looking; gray jacket, plaid scarf, blue jeans, white sneakers, bristly brown hair; a gold wedding band. He waited until the N train had pulled out of the Queensboro Plaza station and was under the East River, and then he read aloud, "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…" A groan went out from my fellow-passengers.

Talk about a captive audience. The train was too crowded for people to switch cars. And New Yorkers will put up with all sorts of things rather than give up their seats on the subway. I couldn’t help thinking that the young man was lucky there were no maniacs aboard and no piles of stones at hand. But no matter how you feel about being force-fed the gospel under the East River it holds up better than the Times or the Post or the subway ads for Dr. Zizmor, dermatologist. Anyway, no one moved. No one said, "Oh, shut up." No one wanted to be identified as an irreligious loner at Christmastime.

I found myself criticizing the young man’s intonation. He had a good strong voice, but the words rocked up and back unvaryingly: "…to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child." When he was done, and the shepherds had rejoiced, he changed--thank goodness--his rhythm. He started singing "Joy to the World." He sang two full verses of it, again in a good, strong voice. But no one joined in. I was tempted, partly because I felt sorry for him--singing in the face of so much hostility--and also because I’m a sucker for actual human voices raised in song, as opposed to canned carols such as one hears in Doubleday (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum) and in Barnes & Noble (gloh-o-o-o-o-oh-o-o-o-o-oh-o-o-o-o-oh-ria). But I was sitting next to a man rigid with pain and fury at having his subway meditations interrupted, and I felt sorry for him, too. Especially when the young man finished singing and began to preach, reminding us that we were all God’s creatures on the N train and that for each of us He had a plan. God’s creature next to me was probably thinking that he didn’t take the subway to fall in with God’s plan--he took the subway to get to Fifty-ninth and Lexington.

(“The Talk of the Town” in The New Yorker, Dec. 26, 1988.)