The First Fists Open Up Friday Linkage

Three-fourths of the First Family hard at play on the Gulf Coast:

“What coast?  GULF COAST!”

The other fourth? She’s probably too busy focusing on her future presidency (a preview here) and has no time for such trivialities as putt-putt.

Here are the week’s links:


Residents of Sac-town, hide your kids, hide your wife, there are zebras on the loose… Mark Driscoll’s helpful  thoughts on Anne Rice’s departure from the shores of Christianity…  You gotta use Starbucks’ designated size names (Tall, Grande, Venti) or face getting the boot like this prof did…  Ann Coulter?  She’s complicated…  Chicharito made his Man U home debut last Monday and was greeted with “rapturous applause”… A Houston teenager is slain by a tag team consisting of a permanent resident and an undocumented alien, her uncle “would like to see what they’re doing in Arizona done here” so clearly, he must clearly be a racist…This week’s entry into the “Best Illustration of Romans 1:21-24″  sweepstakes.  A contest which unfortunately we have all submitted an entry to…

Steve Jobs Will Turn Your Life Inside Out

No, this is not a reference to the legions of Macvangelists whose lives have been transformed by Jobs’ irresistibly trendy products. I know that hiding behind the “Macs are just a better product” facade lies the sordid truth, they have given their hearts over to Jobs (below).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and PC-burdened, and I will give you rest”

No, no I’m referring to you standing over the pit of PC land if you you dare to leak anything that is in development at Apple HQ. That would be bad enough but how forfeit is the guy’s life who leaves behind (gasp!) a prototype for the next iPhone at some seedy saloon?

Well, a software engineer named Gray Powell did it, read about it here.

Given Jobs’ legendary penchant for secrecy, how is he going to react? I don’t know but for some reason Romans 1:18 comes to mind. Here it is from the Mac Version,

The wrath of Jobs will be revealed from Cupertino against all the carelessness and slovenliness of software engineers who leave prototype iPhones at bars…

I hope Powell didn’t lose his job over this (according to the Gizmodo piece he might still be there), but it’s safe to say that he might have gotten in some trouble for this fracas.

After all, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living Jobs.

On a somewhat related note, who knew Jobs had a puritanical streak?

Disputable Matters

Carrie Prejean (below), the much despised/admired former Miss California recently sat down with Christianity Today a for a Q&A.

Carrie

Truth be told, reading the interview won’t change your view of this polarizing woman. If you disliked her you’ll dislike her more after reading it. If you were shaking the Carrie pom-poms before, you’ll continue to spirit sprinkle yourself until your fingers fall off. Both camps are represented in the comments section of the article.

The interviewer lobbed more softballs than any pitcher that patrols the mounds of your local beer league. Softball guy is a post all unto himself, but I digress.

There was one question which will surely catch anyone’s attention,

You wrote that you don’t regret getting breast implants. Have you ever wondered whether it might be incompatible with your Christian faith?

Here’s Prejean’s answer:

No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting breast implants as a Christian. I think it’s a personal decision. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn’t get breast implants.

St. Paul couldn’t have possibly imagined boob jobs would be in play when he told the Romans not to “pass judgement on disputable matters”.

Begs the question: Do boob jobs fall under “disputable matters”?

What about skin-whitening creams?

Human Brain ‘Hardwired’ to Believe in God? No Way!

At least that is what the following piece from the Daily Mail reports,

Brains ‘are hardwired to believe in God and imaginary friends’

There is really not much one can add to what the story says. I suppose the backhanded compliment aimed at those who accept reality (God exists) could be pointed out.

Also, lest anyone actually accept what, denial aside, all know to be true (God exists), the story makes it clear that the researchers behind these studies “stress” that these results don’t indicate that God or gods do exist.

Of course. I know from experience that taking off the blinders is not humanly possible even under the best of circumstances.

C. S. Lewis hit the nail on the head in Mere Christianity,

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to
satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

Long before he penned those words, Augustine of Hippo said this,

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee…

Without question, the idea presented by these two is not original. One gets the feeling they were drawing from a much older source, the Apostle Paul, who inspired God’s expired Word and shared it with the world.

It is truly astonishing how much some of the things said in the Daily Mail piece give testimony to what Paul wrote to the 1st century church at Rome,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:18-22 (emphasis mine)

John Chrysostom Helps a Brother Out

This is a mosaic of Eastern church father John Chrysostom. It resides in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

John Chrysostom lived from 347-407 and from the sixth century on he was glossed Chrysostom (Gk. Golden Mouth) for he was a master preacher. What’s more, St. John has kept up with the times and even has his own website.

In Knowing God, J.I. Packer says,

John Chrysostom had [Paul's letter to the Romans] read aloud to him once a week; you and I could do a lot worse than that.

Yes I suppose Dr. Packer is right, we could do a lot worse than that. So this prompted me to mirror Chrysostom’s practice though I’m doing my own reading.

I’ve read Romans a few times, successively learning something new. I’m not sure where God will take me as I embark on this new journey through (IMHO) the best of Paul’s epistles.

Read more of this post

God Loves Sinners

Paul wrote to the church in Rome,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Humbling words to be sure, what is more, the Truth therein is one more glorious testimony of the love of God who sent His Son to die for creatures whose best efforts are, according to Isaiah, like a “filthy garment” (the Hebrew being a bit more specific).

I recently downloaded some of the lectures from the 2008 T4G conference and have been listening to them on the way to work.

Ligon Duncan’s treatise, Sound Doctrine, is not only riveting but much needed salve in an age where it seems that doctrine is deemed a hobby (at best) or irrelevant (at worst).

At around minute 45, Duncan hit a raw nerve. He’s explaining how doctrine is for our assurance. He exposits John 15 and settles on this part of Jesus’ words to His Apostles,

You did not choose Me but I chose you

He expounds on why Jesus thought it necessary to teach the 11 (Judas had left already) about election. Duncan’s conclusion is that because Jesus knew that every last one of them would desert Him later that night. Then Dr. Duncan ties it together with these words,

And if they’re going to have one shred of assurance left in them it is not going to be based on the fact that they have chosen Him because everything about their actions will be screaming to their hearts and consciences that they have no part of Him unless they hear the Master say, “Dear child, dear friend, I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway.”

“I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway”, those words shattered whatever self-righteousness I carried with me this morning. Shattered whatever thoughts I might have had that somehow I had been elected based on something inherently good within. Shattered the illusion that maybe, just maybe, there is some shred of good in me apart from Christ.

My eyes watered in a mix of contrition and gratitude. The former for my arrogance and the latter for the power and extent of God’s love, that even one such as I can be reconciled to Him.

Humans Playing God, Episode #412121821

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12

Just as a sword can be employed in the service of evil, Scripture can be misunderstood and twisted to advance evil purposes (history is littered with such examples).

Even Scripture itself shows the consequences of twisting God’s Word, in that case it led to “Humans Playing God Episode #1.  Lewis aptly tells us the consequences of this particular historical event,

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Some refer to the abuses of Scripture as so-called “evidence” that religion (Christianity is the popular target) is evil and thus should be banished from the public square. The words of Augustine suffice when talking to these folk,

Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.

All this to refer to the following article,
“Canadian serial murderer wanted to rid world of ‘evil ways’”

in which a man who murdered six prostitutes and as part of his justification he cited Ephesians 5:5,

In one of the letters, Pickton offers his own interpretation of Ephesians 5:5: “You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will in-herit the kingdom of God … Don’t be fooled by whose who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.”

The fact that Paul (who wrote the letter to the Ephesians) was not telling us to take matters into our own hands either escaped Pickton’s notice or not and his actions reflect the depravity inherent in mankind.

Sadly had Mr. Pickton perused Paul’s other writings, such as Romans,

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (12:18-21)

He might have realized that we are not to take matters into our own hands, even if the offenses are directed against us.

Ironically enough later on in Ephesians (6:17) Paul refers to the word of God as the “sword of the Spirit”, perhaps informing us that just as training (physical and spiritual) is required to effectively use a sword for good, the same must hold true of Scripture.

In a related note there is this story, also from Canada,
“Father killed daughter for not wearing hijab, her friends say”

Not sure where the Qur’an comes out on such matters.

Self-Righteousness: A Pillar of Unbelief

Often the charge is levied at religious people (in America it’s Christians since it is, on the surface, the prevalent faith) that they are self-righteous prigs who like nothing better than to impose their morality on everyone else and sapping the “fun” of out of everything. Sometimes the accusation is justified albeit for the wrong reasons.

It’s somewhat comical to watch religious people lob this label on one another. Among Christians much of this brotherly bickering could be curtailed with a cursory look at Romans 14, but I digress.

Currently reading Gene Edward Veith’s, “Loving God with All Your Mind” and are finding it to be a stimulating read.

In one of the chapters he talks about self-righteousness and the way he explains it shed some light on the fact that this disease is not limited to religious folk.

Veith writes,

The most dangerous illusion of them all is self-righteousness. This is the true barrier to Jesus Christ. All rejection of God’s grace takes this form. Those who refuse the free forgiveness of God through Christ do so because they do not see themselves as needing that forgiveness. They do no admit that they are sinners. They deny that they are desperately lost.

God’s Law in its purity works not only to shape society and to show us how we are to live, but also reveals our sinfulness and awakens in us our need of a Savior (Romans 7, Galatians 3).

And yet we try to convince ourselves, even in the midst of our sins, that we are basically good, in fact better than most people. We justify ourselves, and in our complacency and self-sufficient pride we shut out the grace of God.

Mike Libecki and an old RAF officer

Mike Libecki is a rock climber who according to this story, “is on a one-man quest to conquer remote lands untouched by humans.”

Caught the piece on Nightline a few minutes ago and was fascinated by the incredible footage Mr. Libecki filmed as he climbs.

From the report,

He is drawn to extreme climbing not only as a way of discovering the unknown but also for the intensity of living in the moment and being totally consumed by the wilderness around him. “I’ve explained it as living in the ultimate now,” said Libecki. “Experiencing the ultimate moment of reality, where you’re so involved, you’re so entwined in what you’re doing, it’s so exotic that you’re not thinking in the past or the future. It’s just a ride of ultimate reality.”

After hearing this quote I was reminded of the words an “old, hard-bitten officer” in the Royal Air Force whom CS Lewis encountered after giving a talk. The officer’s words Lewis recorded for posterity in his classic, Mere Christianity,

I’ve no use for all that stuff [theology]. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!

Wonder if they truly felt the presence of the God who is there? Wonder if they would concur with the words of the Apostle,

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

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