Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Women Working Outside the Home

On the issue of "women working outside the home" we (the Church) seem to spend a lot of time running in the ditches on either side of the path prescribed by God's Word. We either allow/encourage our wives/moms to pursue their own careers outside and irrespective of their homes, or we insist that any-and-all womanly work outside the domicile is prohibited by God and thereby to be abhorred and avoided at all costs.

Pastor Wilson has some helpful comments for Christians who are eager to understand and apply God's Word in this very important area of Kingdom life.

Ask Doug: Women working outside the home from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Limited vs. Limited Atonement

Justin Taylor over at Between Two Worlds has an excellent discussion starter on the doctrine of limited atonement which you can (and really should) read here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Post About Two Things I've Never Understood

"The U.S. should have won against Slovenia but a referee disallowed the winning goal for no apparent reason. This referee is very lucky that we don’t care about soccer." (Jimmy Kimmel)

"Universal Studios’ 'Harry Potter' theme park opened today. At the front gate, there's a sign that says, 'You must be this nerdy to ride this ride.'" (Jimmy Fallon)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Preacher's Qualifications

"A good preacher should have these qualities and virtues: first, to teach systematically; second, he should have a ready wit; third, he should be eloquent; fourth, he should have a good voice; fifth, a good memory; sixth, he should know when to make an end; seventh, he should be sure of his doctrine; eighth, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the world; ninth, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered of everyone." (Martin Luther, Table-Talk)

This is just the sort of list that provokes us preachers to cry out with Paul, "Who is sufficient for these things!?" And remember, if your preacher lacks any, or all, of these "qualities and virtues" please pray specifically for him. For as someone once noted, "We can do more than pray. But we cannot do anything until we have prayed."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baptism III: Baptism and Testimony (cont.)

"Thou are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)

As noted already (in Baptism and Testimony II) the testimony given at Jesus' baptism was a divine testimony wherein the Father declared to His Son, "I love you and you belong to me." And it was also noted that this benediction is given to every person who receives the water of baptism. For as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, God our Father gives us "all spiritual blessings...in Christ."

But note when this benediction was given to Jesus. Before Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Before Jesus' temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane. And before every temptation in between the wilderness and the garden wherein he was "tempted in all points, even as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus, the perfect man and forerunner of our faith, was not required to prove himself before he received his Father's benediction. No, rather it was the Father's benediction faithfully received by Jesus that enabled him to stand up to the Devil in the wilderness and bow humbly before his Father in the garden.

God delights to frontload the Gospel equation with grace. Breathtakingly reckless grace. The Bible knows nothing of baptism contingent upon a "credible profession." Jesus baptized disciples in John 4 that he knew would desert him in droves a scant two chapters later in John 6. The apostles baptized individuals and entire households on the barest of professions of faith with zero time to examine the intensity, veracity or longevity of those professions.

Why? You ask. Because baptism was never intended to outwardly represent a pre-existing inward reality. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever denied the water of baptism to anyone until they could demonstrate that their conversions were genuine. Rather, they were given the water and its ever-present benediction as a potent and abiding testimony for the initializing and strengthening of their faith. As Martin Luther noted:

"The anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive baptism. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. If God can communicate the Holy Ghost to grown persons, he can, a fortiori, communicate it to young children. Faith comes of the Word of God, when this is heard; little children hear that Word when they receive baptism, and therewith they receive also faith." (Martin Luther, Table Talk CCCLIII, 1569)

So here's the good news Christian: God's dealing with you is frontloaded with grace. Long before your trials and temptations and irrespective of your performance, God's testimony to you in your baptism is this, "I love you child, and you belong to me." This testimony is not given to you as a reward for being intelligent, good or faithful; rather it is given for the inception and increase of these things. As always, you need only receive and believe what God is saying to you.

In the divine economy, godliness is never a prerequisite for grace, and intelligence is never a prerequisite for revelation. Rather grace gives rise to godliness, and revelation begets intelligence. And, as I say often, "If this is not true then I quit yesterday."

The Mystery of Election

"The famous American Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895–1960) often used an illustration to help people make sense of election. He asked them to imagine a cross like the one on which Jesus died, only so large that it had a door in it. Over the door were these words from Revelation: “Whosoever will may come.” These words represent the free and universal offer of the gospel. By God’s grace, the message of salvation is for everyone. Every man, woman, and child who will come to the cross is invited to believe in Jesus Christ and enter eternal life.

On the other side of the door a happy surprise awaits the one who believes and enters. From the inside, anyone glancing back can see these words from Ephesians written above the door: “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Election is best understood in hindsight, for it is only after coming to Christ that one can know whether one has been chosen in Christ. Those who make a decision for Christ find that God made a decision for them in eternity past." (Phllip Ryken, The Message of Salvation)

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Here are three random thoughts about soccer: 1) I am one of the world's worst soccer players, and I have the story to prove it. 2) One of my nephews just earned a collegiate soccer scholarship (way-to-go Kyle!). 3) Although I admire the incredible athleticism of the sport, I just don't "get it" enough to actually watch soccer on TV, or on a boat with a goat, or in a box with a fox, etc.

And from the banter of the late-night comedians, it would appear that this American is not alone. Viz:

"It’s a great day for the world, as the World Cup begins. On behalf of all Americans, I’d like to say, 'Eh.'"

"There are a lot of differences between basketball and soccer. For instance, in basketball, something happens."

"The best way to watch soccer matches is to TiVo them and watch them at double speed. That way you can see them not scoring goals much faster."

"In the U.S., soccer’s popularity ranges somewhere between Jon Gosselin and people that give out raisins on Halloween."

"The reason Americans don’t get into soccer is because the scores are too low. They should make each goal worth two points, and then maybe let the players use their hands, and then maybe add some hoops and a basketball. Americans would watch that."

Top Ten Reasons Americans Don't Like Soccer
10. Too many foreigners
9. Loud horns make it hard to nap through boring parts
8. Bench-clearing brawls not as much fun without bats or sticks
7. No theme song asking if we are ready for some soccer
6. Not enough 'roids
5. Lots of players with umlauts in their names
4. Americans too busy reading
3. Doesn't have the heart-pounding action of a 5-hour baseball game
2. No TV timeouts means fewer snack breaks to stuff our fat faces
1. Too much kicking, not enough rasslin'

P.S. For all you soccer fans that are right now struggling with "hooligan" thoughts about me, and indulging a fantasy that involves me, a blindfold and a penalty kick, I can only say with Seinfeld's uber-pathetic George Costanza, "It's not you, it's me."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Get Tired

I don’t smoke
I don’t dip, I don’t chew
I won’t even hold the hands
Of girls that do

I don’t believe “this Bud’s for me”
I’ve never tasted wine
Lips that have touched alcohol
Will never touch mine

I do my best for my religion
But being good enough
For God’s a full time job
And I get tired

The TV is verboten
‘Cept for TBN
I burned my devil music
Just to prove I’m heaven’s friend

I won’t watch a movie
Rated over PG
My mom checks all my magazines
For hints of nudity

I do my best for my religion
But being good enough
For God’s a full time job
And I get tired

I never double park
I give my blood at the school
I’m very pleasant to my neighbors
And I keep the Golden Rule

I render taxes to the IRS
I pay my debts on time
For each dollar that I earn at work
I give the church a dime

The more commands I learn
The tighter the noose on my neck feels
They say I’ve found rest in Him
But it wouldn’t seem so yet

I do door to door campaigning
To diffuse religious views
I did a “Walk-a-thon for Jesus”
In my Reebok running shoes

I’m most devoted to devotions
Never miss “My Daily Bread”
I tried to memorize my Bible
But the words fell out’ve my head

I need a rest from my religion
This being good enough
For God’s a full time job
And I get tired

Gene Helsel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baptism II: Baptism and Testimony

When you hear the words “baptism” and “testimony” what do you think of? Most modern Christians immediately think of the testimonies that people give shortly before or after they are baptized. But few think of the only testimony in all of scripture that accompanied a baptism.

Before I proceed I would like to make it clear that I am “pro-testimony.” I have often been edified by hearing the accounts of God’s grace to others, and the strange, ordinary and wonderful providences that brought those people to faith in Jesus Christ. However, having said that, I have reservations about the sort of testimonies that are given at baptisms that either obscure or replace altogether the only baptismal testimony for which there is biblical warrant/precedent. I am of course referring to the divine testimony that was given at Jesus’ baptism.

Directly following Jesus’ baptism a voice boomed from heaven, bearing testimony regarding Jesus’ relation to God. The essence of the Father’s testimony concerning His Son was this: “I love you and you belong to me.” Matthew and Mark have slightly differing accounts of this testimony, and the difference is both exceedingly profound and eminently helpful.

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)

And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mark 1:11)

Matthew highlights the testimony given by God to the people, “This is my beloved Son…” While Mark highlights the testimony given by God to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son…” But note that in either case, God’s (not Jesus’) testimony was the central focus and therefore indicates the central meaning/import of baptism which is simply this: God’s sacramental declaration to the recipient of the water, “I love you and you belong to me.” And note that this declaration was given for the benefit of the one being baptized and for those who bore witness to the baptism. The testimony of baptism is vitally important for the recipient and for the community of faith.

Martin Luther was once asked what benefit a baptized believer had that an un-baptized believer did not. Luther replied, “Well, his baptism.” By which Luther meant the abiding testimony of God’s love and favor objectively and irrevocably applied to the body of the believer in the water of baptism.

Baptism I: How Many Baptisms?

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (Ephesians 4:4-5)

“One baptism, This does not mean that Christian baptism is not to be administered more than once, but that one baptism is common to all; so that, by means of it, we begin to form one body and one soul.” (Calvin’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:4)

According to Paul, there is only one baptism. And as John Calvin noted, when Paul wrote this, he was not declaring that people should only be baptized once, rather he was reminding us that there is but one baptism in which all believers are joined and united.

So where do we find this “one baptism common to all”? The answer, as with every good and perfect gift, is, in Christ! As the author of Hebrews reminds us, Jesus is our “forerunner” (Hebrews 6:20), the one who in all things goes before us. In other words, every blessing that God bestows upon His children is first given to Christ. We obtain every divine blessing in Christ, and nowhere do we obtain a single blessing outside of Christ. Every blessing, including baptism, comes to us by virtue of our union with Christ. Simply put, baptism is a blessing to us, because it was first a blessing to Jesus.

This being true, to properly understand the meaning and import of Christian baptism we need to begin with the baptism of Jesus, the “one baptism” into which all who receive Christian baptism are baptized by virtue of their baptism into Christ.

“But”, some will argue, “Jesus was baptized by John, and John’s baptism signified something altogether different than Christian baptism.” On this point I agree with John Calvin that the difference between John’s baptism and our baptism was not a difference of kind, but rather of degree. Viz:

“And even by this also are we taught that the baptism of John was a token of repentance and remission of sins and that our baptism at this day doth not differ any thing from it, save only that Christ is already revealed, and in his death and resurrection our salvation is made perfect: and so baptism was brought unto his [its] effect; because out of that fountain of Christ’s death and resurrection whereof I have spoken, floweth repentance, and thither is faith referred again that it may thence fet [seek] free righteousness. In sum, Paul showeth plainly that that was the baptism of regeneration and renovation as is ours.” (Calvin’s Commentary on Acts 19:4)

Although this may not seem all that important, this understanding of our relation to Christ and his baptism actually sets the stage for glorious revelations of God’s love and mercy.

If I Stand

I woke up early this morning, and woke up singing this song by the late Rich Mullins. I love the wordplay in his poetry. Standing is usually associated with effort, but here it refers to resting on God's promises. And falling usually denotes falling away from God, but here it indicates dependence upon God's grace. How wonderful.

If I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

You can listen it here. Enjoy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Golfing at "The Rock"

Many years ago, when the boys (Josiah and Jason) were growing up, we used to golf regularly at Rock Island Golf Course. Those days on the links are some of our fondest "father and son" memories. So last Saturday Jas and I took a little stroll down memory lane. The golf was not pretty, but the weather was perfect and the memories evoked by the sweet smell of the Russian Olive trees surrounding the fairways was, as my uncle Rex used to say, "won-der-ful."

Red Hill Trail

The Red Hill trail just north of Cashmere, WA is one of the best trails in Chelan County. The track itself was not in the best shape, but the vistas were breathtaking, the ride was challenging and the fellowship was sweet. Thanks Jas, Tillys, Strahms and Lanes!