Saturday, December 20, 2014

 

Comic Art

ICONIC COVERS
The Justice League Is Born



Friday, December 19, 2014

 

Worship Takes Us Somewhere

Mark Roberts on Psalm 95:
Where does worship lead? When we gather together as the people of God to offer praise, thanks, and worship to our Lord, where does this take us? What happens in us and to us because we worship?

If you were to ask these questions of a hundred different Christians, I expect you might hear a hundred different answers. For some, worship leads to feelings of joy, love, and peace. For others, worship may very well lead to feelings of boredom or sadness. For still others, worship may have nothing to do with feelings. It might encourage them to think more deeply or to act more faithfully.

[...]

According to Psalm 95, more accurately, according to the Lord who speaks in Psalm 95, worship should lead to listening to God's voice with open ears and ready hearts, so that we might do what God asks of us. Worship leads to attentiveness to the Lord's commands. It leads to receptive hearts and obedient lives.
If I can rephrase that just a bit, worship is not where we express ourselves about God but where He expresses Himself to us. What we do is prepare ourselves to listen - that's all.
I think of the ceremony that accompanies approaching a throne. There is much the supplicant must do in order to hear what the monarch has to say. But i the end that ceremony is not the point, it is the words of the monarch that matter.

When we fight over how we do the ceremony we are ignoring the words of the monarch. When we discuss what we need from the ceremony, we are ignoring the monarch altogether and thinking only of ourselves. We are missing the point.


 

Friday Humor


Thursday, December 18, 2014

 

The Confusion of Therapy and Theology

Talbot Davis on the Methodist debate regarding homosexual practice and related church issues:
However, when therapy turns into theology, something else entirely happens: our experience and our empathy determine our doctrine.
There is deep wisdom there. The thing we must always remember is that our experience is always, I repeat ALWAYS, tainted with sin.

Our emotional responses are warped by that sin. Our love is perverted by that sin. In the end the debate on homosexual practice is not about homosexual practice, it is about one of the basic and most core doctrines of our faith - SIN.

In the name of love and understanding we have over the years eroded what we believe to be sin - I know of no one that discusses divorce in terms of sin anymore save the Roman Catholics and they do so in America in the most hushed of tones. And this all came becasue we have long ago stopped talking about far more subtle sins like gluttony or gossip.

It is a powerful argument that homosexuals are being singled out, but our response should not and cannot be to cave on this as well. If we do, I fear the concept of sin will disappear altogether. Our response must be to restore the conversation about those things we have let slide. We need to build the crowd around homosexuality once again.

The call is not to fight homosexuality, but to rebuild the church.


 

Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

 

Public Repentance

Ed Stetzer looks at what to do when pastors fail. He starts with the usual cautions about being slow to charge a pastor with moral failings, but then gets to the heart of the matter:
Yet, some pastors want to stop there, quoting verses that say you cannot touch the "anointed." They sometimes think that disagreeing with them is the same as disagreeing with the Lord.

Such an attitude reflects an attitude that doesn't take the rest of scripture seriously. Sin matters, and when that sin happens in the life of a public spiritual leader, the great damage can be done.
His conclusion hits to the genuine issue here:
What's more, unless we pastors engage in public repentance, our "bold" preaching about sin and grace often appears to be little more than window dressing. In other words, what we believe about God, sin and grace is proven true when we treat our own sin as seriously as we say others should.
That's not really a "What's more" that's a what matters. Pastors claim anointment to guard against accusation, but if you are going to claim an uber-Christian status, you must also be uber-repentant for such is the heart of the gospel. To do less makes a lie of all that you preach.

I've been down this road a couple of times. It makes me very angry and I need to find a better way to handle it. I am not angry at the pastor so much as I am angry at how tainted these situations make the gospel. Grace is standing there holding out its hand if the party would but stand up and admit the need for it, and yet the beauty of that grace is forever hidden from the world by the party's failure to recognize their failure.

At such times I must rely on the sovereignty of God, for we fail totally to be His vessels.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

 

Finding Happy

Greg Laurie:
What is happiness? I think the world's version of it is quite different than the Bible's version. The happiness of this world depends on circumstances. If you are in good health, the bills are paid, and things are going well, then according to the world's philosophy, you are happy. But if someone cuts you off on the freeway, or if something else goes wrong, then suddenly you are unhappy. Your happiness hinges on what is happening at a given moment.

The Bible gives us a completely different view of this thing called happiness. According to Scripture, true happiness is never something that should be sought directly; it always results from seeking something else. When we are trying to be happy, when we are trying to be fulfilled, we rarely are. But when we forget about those things and get back to the very purpose for which God put us on earth, suddenly we find the wonderful byproduct of happiness popping up in our lives.
I read that and I wonder if sometimes we go ahead and pursue byproduct? It is true that if you pursue byproduct you often mess up the primary pursuit and therefore also mess up the pursuit of the byproduct, but I don't think there is anything wrong with including byproduct in your motivations for the primary pursuit.

God intends for us to be happy. Laurie is right that if we pursue happy instead of God, we have a problem. But if we pursue God and are not happy then we need to ask what we are doing wrong in our pursuit of God. Happiness may be byproduct, but it is also a marker worth watching. It is worth, from time-to-time, asking yourself if you are happy. But if you are not, ask God what to do, not circumstances.


 

Kitty Kartoons


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Monday, December 15, 2014

 

Is Lonliness A Spiritual Matter?

Tony Reinke @ DG quotes Paul Matthies on lonliness. Just one example:
“Loneliness, at its root, is a spiritual issue. We don’t need to merely hang out with more friends. We don’t need to merely learn how to speak love languages. We need help. We need a savior. We need an advocate whose name is Christ Jesus. And our heart cry should not merely be, ‘I do bad things because I’m lonely, so someone come keep me company, make me feel better.’ Our deep heart cry should be, ‘I’m lonely because I’m a sinner in a dark and fallen world. God help me.’”
I agree with this quite a bit in content, but very little in tone. The bad things/lonely cycle is real. But the problem has a lot to do with the fact that doing bad things tends to drive away the people that could be friends.

Sometimes we need to just get practical when we are talking to people. I know from my lonely years that spiritualizing loneliness can serve to increase it as it results in a lot of naval gazing. A lot of focusing on the sinfulness instead of working to overcome it. Yes, start with confession, start with a good hard look at yourself, but then get busy fixing the problems noted. Confessing them again won't help nearly so much as not doing them again.

People tend to divide their spiritual and practical lives never realizing how deeply entwined the two really are. Sometimes improving things on a spiritual leave improves the practical, but sometimes it is the other way around.

You see, the problem is not really, in the end loneliness, its intimacy. Most of us are surrounded by people, but we have few intimates. And we equate intimacy with sex, when in fact they are two very different things. (Could explain a lot in our modern society, couldn't it.) Intimacy is risky. TAke the risk.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

 

Comic Art

Artist Doug Mahnke






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