Christianity… A Hard Sell

I just recently finished up listening to Kevin DeYoung’s sermon series on the book of Leviticus. KDY is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and therefore an unashamed Spartan fan.

He preached through Leviticus from February to July of last year, but because the church makes all his sermons available online (for free!), one can listen to them at one’s leisure. Go here for the whole Leviticus series.

Leviticus? What’s in there but the moldy trappings of a now defunct bloody sacrificial system? Not to mention, a bunch of regulations that frankly seem irrelevant to us who don’t live in an agrarian society and outdated sexual mores that are beneath our “enlightened” 21st Century selves?

While I can devote an entire series of posts of all the things KDY uncovered in the 18-part series, I will try to sift through the largesse.

In Sermon 4 (“Sin Offerings”), he expands on sin, no, not the TV station formerly known as the Spanish International Network (currently known as Univision).

Rather to the our constantly missing the mark of God’s law. Something which all human beings (save for One) are born into, act out and puts us at enmity with God.

Sin, as KDY points out, is an “objective category”. That is, it’s not relative to our whims and fancy, as he put it, “God’s values ARE whether we value them or not”. Because we are born at enmity with God we don’t like to hear about sin, especially our sin though we all feel more comfortable pointing out the sins (real or perceived) of others.

KDY rightfully asserts that he abhor hearing about sin and because of that he says,

Christianity will always be a hard sell. Real Christianity. Because it confronts head-on our love of autonomy. ‘I want to be the reference point… I want my feelings, my desires to be affirmed… It want to be the center of the universe… I want you to exist to make me happy… God exists to make me happy… I am the moral reference point, everything else is decided right or wrong based on what it does to me and how I like it… If there is a God surely He exists to meet my needs and affirm my beliefs.’

Sin is not simply being untrue to yourself no matter how many times the Disney movies tell you that it is

Indeed…

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Repent!

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near…You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
— John the Baptist

While some may roll their eyes at the apparently outdated verbiage and tone of these words, it’s safe to say that some of these same folk will raise nary an objection to the following question:

What’s Your Biggest Eco Sin?

The whole sackcloth and ashes act over our “eco sin” is somewhat amusing to this blogger. The fruit produced from this repentance (i.e. carbon credits) is a flat out joke. What’s next self-flagellation with organic produce?

Yes, we ought to do our best to not squander resources and keep our streets and highways clear from debris. It drives me up the wall to see that people think their driveway needs watering, almost as much as smokers thoughtlessly flicking their namesakes out of their car windows.

No, I don’t think that the pavement-wetters and butt-flickers have committed some sort of “sin”. I do wonder if it has occurred to the more “eco-friendly” among us that from certain people’s perspective the most egregious “eco sin” we’ve all committed is well, being born. Have you an idea of how much of that noxious carbon dioxide one human being exhales in one lifetime?

Maybe the grossest “sin” hasn’t occurred to them because the act of repentance for that sin is not something that sane people are willing to really, really atone for.

Though that is not to say that some people whose sanity is suspect aren’t raising awareness (Click here for a most excellent write-up on “awareness” in general).

confessional

Forgive me Gaia for I have sinned

Black Pride

It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly… — CS Lewis on Pride

No, the title of this post is not in reference to any racial identity movement, but rather to what Lewis references in the above quote from his classic, Mere Christianity.

It is in reference to the sickening and soul-sucking sense of superiority one feels upon hearing the consequences that result from the poor choices of others.

Yesterday, our youth pastor (JB) came in from the bullpen and preached a stirring sermon on a familiar story, Jesus’ parable of the so-called prodigal son.

JB described the older son in the parable, who couldn’t bring himself to celebrate his younger brother’s return from the figurative dead, as the son who wanted nothing more than to please his dad, by abstaining from as many things as humanly possible. He followed the description by faux applause.

With this son, it was about externals, the easy way to perdition, as the unrepentant Pharisees Jesus scolded came to find out.

Personally, at this point in my A.D. life, I find myself more like the older son. As JB aptly observed, “maybe we have forgotten what it’s like without God.”

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The DNC: It’s not easy being Green…

Tell this guy something he doesn’t know…

Came across this Wall Street Journal piece in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle,

The Greenest Show on Earth: Democrats Gear Up for Denver

Democrats are jumping through biodegradable hoops to make, in the words of Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, their upcoming convention, “the greenest convention in the history of the planet.”

Of course, no decent greening article would be complete without the reminder that indulgences are alive and kicking. To atone for their sins against Mother Gaia the DNC hired a “greening director” (not Kermit) who then hired,

…an Official Carbon Adviser, who will measure the greenhouse-gas emissions of every placard, every plane trip, every appetizer prepared and every coffee cup tossed. The Democrats hope to pay penance for those emissions by investing in renewable energy projects.

Fantastic. Greenguilt-free politicking what can beat that? Nothing, except maybe this post.

Or perhaps this from the Wall Street Journal piece,

Watching the greening frenzy from afar, Fred L. Smith Jr., president of the libertarian Washington think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, suggested the Democrats could really shrink their footprint by staging a virtual-reality convention: “Just have everyone stay at home with their laptops, sitting in their pajamas, interacting through their avatars.”

Democrats…

Child is spared from Moloch’s Altar

Our culture tends to downplay the reality of sin, if it even acknowledges it at all. Sin has been a terribly integral part of the human experience almost as long as we’ve been on this planet, but it seems that at no other time in history has the reality of it been as questioned or downplayed as the present.

For example, when one commits adultery one has an “affair”. Greed is now the pursuit of the bottom line. Exploitation of laborers is smart business practice. Murder is now about “choice” or the “termination of a pregnancy”. Homosexuality is “sexual preference”, while fornication is about “taking the car out for a test drive”. A moment of frankness will reveal that Christians will buy into this mentality though we should know better.

In this story, Baby Miraculously Survives Abortion, Expected to Live ‘Normal’ Life, a child’s life was spared from death, a death requested by his own mother.

God indeed is merciful and has spared this poor child, why He chose to spare him and not the countless other children who have died at the altar of Moloch “choice” is something which we can surely ask Him if we so choose.

But pause must be taken to reflect on the fact that He sovereignly works out everything for His infinitely wise and perfect purpose. Perhaps further meditative reflection on His response to Job is warranted.

The following excerpt from the story reveals the reality of human depravity more than we’d like to admit (emphasis mine),

“I was on the (birth control pill) when I became pregnant,” Percival, 25, said. “Deciding to terminate at eight weeks was just utterly horrible but I couldn’t cope with the anguish of losing another baby.”

A short time after the abortion, Percival felt a fluttering in her stomach. She went to the doctor for a scan and discovered she was 19 weeks pregnant.

“I couldn’t believe it,’ Percival said. “This was the baby I thought I’d terminated. At first I was angry that this was happening to us, that the procedure had failed. I wrote to the hospital, I couldn’t believe that they had let me down like this.

“They wrote back and apologized and said it was very rare,” she added.

Lastrow, Population: 666

This blog now has the distinction of having the same number of inhabitants as the town of Monson, Maine (as of the 2000 census). That the blog is populated by posts and Monson by people is but an irrelevancy.

This often misunderstood digit makes its only appearance in Scripture here,

Here is wisdom Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. – Revelation 13:18

I say misunderstood because many (myself formerly included) mistake it to be the number of Satan. The Apocalypse given to John begs to differ, it is actually the number of Satan’s man, the antichrist. Six is man’s number, it falls one short of the number of completeness, 7. Some say the triple 6 is a mockery of the Trinity, because three times it falls short of completeness, as each Person in the Trinity is totally complete.

This reflects the fallen state we are all born into (Augustine of Hippo dubbed it “original sin”) because of Adam’s rebellion in the Garden. As the oft-quoted statement reads,

We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners

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“It’s Evolution, Baby!”

So wails Pearl Jam frontman, Ed Vedder, in a track (“Do the Evolution”) from the band’s masterful 1998 release, Yield.

yield.jpg

Pre-conversion, I reveled in the song due to the fact that I idolized Mr. Vedder, graphically portrays the evolutionary process,  and especially because it criticizes religious (read: Christian) hypocrites in the lines,

I’m a thief
I’m a liar
There’s my church
I sing in the choir.

Hallelujah
Hallelujah

If the song isn’t striking enough, the video (crafted by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane) is top-notch and if I may say so, breath taking in its portrayals.

It matches the lyric perfectly and emphasizes the predations of mankind on itself as well as the planet.

Post-conversion, the video remains artistically breathtaking of course, but now I see it with a new set of eyes.

Whether the band or McFarlane wish to accept it, the video explicitly displays the ubiquitous effect of sin on the world we live in.