Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remembering Gerry

Today is the 48th birthday of my brother Gerry. Gerry died almost six years ago, after succumbing to a three year battle with colon and liver  cancer.
My sister and two brothers were all born close together.  Gerry was the closest of my siblings to me in age. He was born less than 15 months after me and we grew up close. Of course, being boys close in age, he and I had our share of fist fights. I was the older and faster, but he was stockier and had more natural strength. We both had a fair amount of boxing experience by the time of our last fight.  I was seventeen and he was sixteen at the time. I started the fight, for reasons that I have long since forgotten, but I do remember being the guilty party.
This was the first and only fight between us where blood was spilt. We had several friends with us, and neither one of us wanted to look soft in front of our friends, so the fight went on longer than it would have other wise. I remember, I punched him in the face, cut his cheek and saw blood on his face. When I saw the blood, I immediately wanted to quit, but he would have none of that and we started again. After a few more punches he caught me with right to the face and I too began to bleed. He dropped his fists wanting to stop, but this time I insisted on continuing.
The fight did not last much longer; right about that time our dad drove into the drive way. We both stopped then. Dad was angry. He saw two of his sons fighting one another, both cut and bleeding. I will not go into detail about what happened, but our friends quickly left our yard, Dad sent Gerry and me inside then he came in. My dad but an end to that fight, as he had so  many others, but Gerry and I never fought again. Not too much after that I went in the Navy. When I returned four years later, Gerry was married and had a baby girl.
Gerry was always a good friend, I still miss him a great deal, but I know that we will meet again. He is with our Lord. He made his salvation sure while struggling with his cancer.
Coram Deo,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Harmless As Doves

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (II Tim 2:24-26)
In St. Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus he is instructing young men who have been ordained as pastors in Christ’s Church. The advice he gives above is advice that we should all heed, but it is advice that many of us too often ignore.
Over the years I’ve read a lot of theologians and Bible teachers. I’ve read the writings of men from the very early days of the church up until today’s theologians. I have been greatly blessed by many of them, but I have noticed that many of the teachers, in all times, have fallen short of Paul’s instruction quoted above.
Too often, Christian teachers forget that they “must not quarrel but be gentle to all” and also be “patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition.” This is not an isolated thing that Paul says only here, though once would be enough, instead we find these instruction many times.
Later in this same epistle, Paul writes Timothy and tells him “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” and Timothy will have to deal with such corrupt people with sound teaching. He will have to “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (II Tim 4:2) That is hard to do, but it is God’s Word that tells us to treat those in error (or worse) this way.
In Matthew 10 Jesus, speaking to the twelve disciples, tells them that “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Now the mission they were going on was a very particular one, but I believe this part of Christ’s instruction is valid for all of us at all times. If you are defenceless, as a sheep is to a wolf, than it is good to be very wise and we Christians should seek wisdom and act wisely. We should also be “harmless as doves.”
Jesus and Paul are both instructing disciples on how to treat unbelievers they confront with the truth of the Gospel. If we are to be gentle, patient, humble, and longsuffering when we deal with unbelievers and evil men, it stands to reason that we should treat fellow believers, with whom we disagree, with as much or more gentleness, and longsuffering, but too often Christians have been brutal to fellow believers who disagree with them on even minor points of doctrine.
There is something wrong with that. It is wrong and a very poor testimony to the unbelieving world around us when they see these nasty disputes between believers.
Reformed Christians’ seem to be particularly guilty of showing no quarter, to fellow believers, who differ with them, whether they are within or without the Reformed camp. One reason for this is Reformed Christians take theology very serious, which is a good thing, but our theology must include what Christ and His Apostles taught in Scripture on how to deal with unbelievers and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We MUST deal with our fellow Christians in love and, if there is need for correction, (which I think we all need at some point) we must correct them in love, with gentleness, humility and great patience. We should be harmless as doves when dealing with wolves; I would hope we can be harmless as doves when dealing with our fellow sheep as well.
Coram Deo,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More "Mere Christianity"

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sin: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my foot and I forgive you, you steal money from me and I forgive you. But what shall we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announces that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.  In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words imply what I can only regard as silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.
Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that he is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.
I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Temperance

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened ‘Temperance’, it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred, not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.  It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion.” C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

A Quote: C.S. Lewis

"…as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we are to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also "as wise as serpents'. He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim The fact that what you are thinking about God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He every one to use what sense they haveGod is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.” Quoted from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


If Christianity were something we were making up, of course we could make it easier, but it is not. We can not compete in simplicity with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact; of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about. C.S. Lewis

The Bible is not a simple book, and the Christian faith is, in some ways a very complicated one. Our understanding of God is more complicated than many people can abide by. We believe in one God, and yet we believe that God is a unity of being. He is one and he is three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This idea of God offends many. They insist that God must be one, a simple unity. Or, they insist that we admit that we actually believe in three gods. But the Scriptures teach God is a unity and a plurality in one God, He is a trinity. That is not a simple view of God and it is here that numerous individuals and groups have broken with the Christian faith.

We Christians believe that Jesus is wholly man and we also believe that he is wholly and fully the eternal God incarnated in human flesh. This too is a difficult teaching that offends many. They are willing to accept Jesus as a prophet or a great moral teacher. They are willing to accept that Jesus was filled with God’s spirit, but they frown at the doctrine that he can be fully God and fully man at one and the same time. This is teaching of Scripture is not simple or easy.

Christians believe that God took on human flesh and humanity by being conceived in the womb of a young virgin. This again is a teaching that many reject as preposterous nonsense. They don’t, so much, mind God appearing in human flesh, but the idea that he was born of a virgin, that a helpless infant was fully God is beyond what many can accept as reasonable. Unitarians reject the virgin birth.

The cross of Christ is also offensive to many who disbelieve the Christian faith. The God/man being punished for the sins of others is another concept that is not in all aspects a simple one. Why do we have to believe in a blood sacrifice? It is not a simple teaching and is despised by many.

The simplest statement of the Christian Faith is the Apostles Creed.

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.

The Christian Faith is a faith based on events that took place in history. The Bible is mostly a divine history of the fall man and God’s work of redeeming work in history to save man and the bring in a new heavens and a new earth.

The teaching the Bible about God and His Christ are not simple, but they are truth.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sound Advice from Saint Paul

I have to confess that I do not read the Bible as I should. I have, at times, had very long periods when I consistently read the Bible everyday. There have also been times when I did in depth studies on certain books or themes in Scripture. The opposite has also been true. At times, I've seriously neglected the Word of God and I've found such neglect has harmed my Christian walk as well as my prayer life. I am always in need of prodding to be better at reading and studying the Scriptures as I should.

With all that said, I want to say a little about a segment of the Bible that I have found most practical and useful. I believe the WHOLE of Scripture to be the Word of God. It is the medium which God has chosen to communicate to us and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16, 17)

Now back to that section of the Bible that I have found most practical in my daily life. It is found in the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the church at Philippi and it reads thus, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

These words always affect me, because they have been so important to my own life. These words are, to me, some the most wonderful, practical words of advice that I have ever received. I have, often failing, tried to live by this advice.

As a child and as a young man, I was fairly a negative person. I was a pessimistic person. My dad preached to me about being positive all the time I was growing up and I am thankful to my dad for his encouragement and persistence in this, but it is when I read these words in Scripture and began to try and practice them that things began to turn around in my outlook on  life.

My dad used to call me a “worry wart” because I was, but here Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing” and gave me advice on how to deal with my worry. He wrote.  “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” and he assured me that “and the peace of God” would overtake me.

I did not stop worrying all at once (and Lisa can tell you that I still worry from time to time) but I have worked at it and I found, over time, that I worried less and less. I also found that I had more and more peace.

Through the Apostle Paul, the Lord tells us how to think about things, again by very practical advice. He says think about “true, noble and just” things. This is good because if your thinking about items like these than you are not thinking about pessimistic things. This is not magic it takes practice and work on our part, but is doable

Paul is not done yet. He continues and says that we are to think about “whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report.” How can you be a pessimist and think about what is pure, lovely and of good report? You can’t do it. Thinking about these types of things warms the heart and brings joy to the soul.

Still St. Paul knew that not all things were such, so he now he goes a little further and says, “if” because some times good things are not the first thing you see. He writes, “if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” Even in the direst of circumstances there will be something of virtue in the situation that you can dwell on and push out those non-virtues thoughts. It is clear in his advice, the praiseworthy may not be immediately obvious but we are to seek it out and then meditate on those things that are virtues and praiseworthy.

I know this advice is sound. It has made me to be a far better and happier man than I ever could have been without it. The Bible is full of very sound, practical advice like what we find in Philippians 4: 4-8.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day: 6 June 1944

Operation OVERLORD was the name for the greatest invasion by sea in human history. 65 years ago today thousands upon thousands of Americans, Brits, Canadians, and Free French troops parachuted, glided or made an amphibious landing onto the beaches of Normandy France.

Today we remember those brave men who did their duty and fought for an allied toe hold in Nazi occupied France. In the West, this day markes the beginning of the end of the most horrific, brutal, destructive war in human history.

The total numbers of people to be killed in WWII is estimated to be close to 80 million people. The great majority of those killed were civilians caught in the crossfire. 

God save us from another such war.

Coram Deo,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Murder of a Lawful Killer

No person has the authority to take the law into his own hands, becoming judge, jury and executioner. That is what the Scott Roeder did, when he killed Dr. Tiller. What Roeder did was kill another human being. It was a lawless act that he had no authority to do.
I have no sympathy for Dr. Tiller. He was a mass killer of viable, innocent, unborn children. He was a man soaked with the blood of innocence.  

Tiller is now in the hands of God and, very likely, in hell. After the judgement on the last day, if he is in hell now, he will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Still, as evil as Tiiler's work was, God did not give you or me the authority to execute anyone doing something that the state has declared lawful.

In the case of abortion, the 1973 Supreme Court declared evil to be good, and  good to be evil, by making killing unborn children lawful throughout our land. It is a horrible evil that is sanctioned and protected by the United States government, and we know from Romans 13 that those raised to authority in our land are there because God has ordained them to rule over us. "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God." (Rom. 13:1)

When St. Paul wrote these words, Nero Caesar was the chief magistrate (dictator) of the Roman Empire. He was a very evil man. It was Nero who had St. Paul and St. Peter put to death. He had countless Christians murdered by the Roman State. Yet, Paul said that a beast like Nero was "ordained of God."

Abortion and infanticide were common in Roman Empire. The Earlier Church Fathers spoke out against the evil of baby killing, and Christians in the ancient church worked to stop the evil in godly ways. They did good. They did not stoop to murder.  

In the Old Testament, the worshippers of Moloch sacrificed children to this blood thirsty, pagan god. The Prophets of Israel prophesied against their evil acts, but they did not hint that people could take the law in their own hands and kill the worshippers or priests of Moloch.

God does not give His people permission to do evil in the fight against evil. Who ever decides to be judge, jury and executioner, as in this case or in the case when defrocked, pastor Paul Hill murdered Dr. John Britton in Pensacola (1994), he or she declare by their actions, that they do not believe God or his Word. They think they know or can do better than God.

When government supports and defends evil, as ours does with abortion, we are not given authority from God to take the law into our own hands. To do so, shows that we deny God's sovereign rule over His creation. God will judge the evil in His time. Rome, promoted the persecution and murder of Christians for more that 200 years. Christians did not rebel or take up arms against Rome. They had no authority from the Lord to do so.

We are to face evil by doing good. God will take care of the Moloch worshippers, the Neros and the Tillers of this world in His own time. Men like Roeder and Paul Hill have done evil and the state has the authority to punish them for their crimes (Paul Hill was executed for murder in 2003).

Coram Deo,