Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory...

All these came up in various contexts this morning.

The Kingdom. The question came up in a discussion after church this afternoon; what is the Kingdom of God? The way it was put, I thought it might have been a trick question, but basically the questioner and I agreed on our answer. The Kingdom of God is here now. It consists of all that and all those who are under the rule and reign of God. It includes all who have been born again by the Spirit of God into a new relationship with God as His children. There are two separate and contrasting kingdoms, and only two; the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of the world consists of all that is opposed to God. Jesus said that anyone who is not for him is against him.

Frankly, I take a fairly radical view of the separateness of these two kingdoms. If we are in the Kingdom of God; more accurately, if God has transferred us into His kingdom; if we have bowed the knee and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then the kingdom of the world is foreign territory to us. Therefore, I don’t, when all is said and done, put too much worry into what happens in that kingdom. Do they allow same-sex marriage in the kingdom of the world? I don’t really care. Is there sexual immorality in the world? Again, so be it. In my mind, the only concern we Christians need to have about the world is how what happens there affects or impedes people from being brought into the Kingdom of God. Yes, we are called to defend and help the sick, poor and the defenceless, but I think the ultimate goal, even in that, is to bring glory to God and people into His Kingdom. The Kingdom.

The Power. As our music team prayed before service today, we prayed, as we always do, that our music would be honouring to God and that He would be with us and use what we do to draw people to Him. But sometimes we think that it’s all up to us. As if what God determined to do depended on how skilfully we played our music; ultimately, to put it rather crassly, what kind of mood we set. Whether we played it spiritually enough. Our team leader was, as he put it, rather stressed, taking, I think in a sense, the whole burden of results on his own shoulders. One of the songs we played was Matt Redman’s, “The Heart of Worship,” and it brought to my mind the intent of that song: that it’s not about the skill or professionalism of the musicians, it’s all about Jesus. If God chooses to touch hearts and open eyes and bring people to Himself, He will do it by whatever means He chooses, whether through the reading or the preaching of His Word, through a particular word or prayer, or through, even in spite of, the music. Yes, it’s important to use the gifts He has given us to the best of our abilities, and there is no place for music played badly if it is done short of our best, but when all is said and done, the power is His and His alone. He will accomplish His will in His own timing and at His own pleasure. We have no power to change lives. Only God does, by the power of His Holy Spirit.

And the Glory. Our morning class for the last couple of weeks has studied John chapter 11, the death and raising of Lazarus. One point revolved around verse 4,
...Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Jesus deliberately delayed his response to the news of Lazarus’ illness so that God and himself could be glorified through it. (By the way, it seems pretty hard on Lazarus to be used in such a way, but it occurred to me that, if we believe that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord, the cruellest thing was not to let him die but to bring him back.) We see a similar incident in John chapter 9, where Jesus tells his disciples that a man was born blind so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Yesterday the question arose, “Why does God want us to pray to Him, if He already knows what we want, and He already knows how He will answer it? What, in other words, is the point of prayer at all?” And it occurred to me that perhaps, in light of these studies, that the ultimate purpose of all prayer is to glorify God. Answered prayer gives glory to Him. The giver gets the glory, as our pastor has said. But if He just granted all our desires without our asking for them, without our expressing them to Him in prayer, where would be the glory? And that is why we present our requests, not our demands, in prayer. Otherwise God would become our servant, not our Master. That He deigns to answer our prayers keeps things in perspective and shows us Who is in charge and who is not; Who shows mercy and who receives it, Who gives grace and who receives it. To God be the glory.

All of it.

Take Care

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I Thought I was the Only One

My daughter linked me to this video. For years, as my daughters were growing up, we would make it a game to try to get inconspicuoulsy into the background of various people's photographs. On visits to Niagara Falls, or Disneyland/World, or some other tourist hotspot we would casually stroll to a position behind the object of the photo and try to look (unlike the guy in the video) like we weren't really trying to be there. I like to claim we are in people's photo albums all over the world.
Maybe even yours.

Take Care

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Singer and Dawkins Comedy Show.

I first found this video through the Anglican Samizdat blog. I commented there, then pasted basically the same comment on the Youtube site, hoping to start some discussion. This is the Peter Singer that feels it is alright to kill handicapped children, and Dawkins agrees that this is perfectly logical. Watch the whole thing if you can do so without suffering permanent neck damage from shaking your head. It's about 3/4 of an hour long.

Here is my first comment, and those by myself and others that followed, interspersed among various other comments about vegetarianism and other things. Some of mine are slightly expanded.

Me: I watched the whole thing. How can anyone see this as anything other than a pathetic joke? They are blind men who think that reality is the fantasy they see projected on the inside of their own eyelids. They talk of logical consistency. Logical consistency based on wrong premises is one thing, but they follow false premises with leaps of head-shakingly faulty logic and pat themselves on their backs for their brilliance.

wedingo: what do you mean by "wrong premises" ?

Me: A logical argument can be developed using false premises, but these guys don't even do that. The false premises, IMO are the denial of the existence of God and the unquestioning acceptance of Darwinian naturalism. But even given their premises, their logic continues to be faulty. Why is suffering wrong? Why, logically, is it necessary to get relatives' approval to eat human roadkill? Why is it any less moral for a human to kill a pig than a lion to hunt a gazelle? Their entire case is personal opinion upon personal opinion, subjective judgement upon subjective judgement.

richi3mass3: The point is that a lion doesn't have the capacity recognize the gazelle's suffering, therefore could not be held accountable when considering the permissibility of the action of "killing a gazelle". Most humans are able to recognize the suffering of others, therefore have a responsibility to consider the morality of their actions toward others. Logically: IF it wrong to kill humans for selfish purposes THEN it is wrong to kill animals for selfish purposes. Peace.

Me: But you need first to explain, indeed to prove, why suffering is morally wrong, assuming the premise of Darwinian evolutionary naturalism.

Keep on trollin'.

Me: Trolling? I was hoping to find some intelligent discussion, but apparently this is not the place for it.

We'll see if there are more responses and I will update.

Update April 25:
IAmTheCthulhu: suffering is morally wrong due to the premises of empathy. I wouldn't hit you, unless you hit me first. Factory farmed animals I doubt have ever hurt a human being, therefore human beings shouldn't hurt factory farmed animals. Its called empathy. Its supposedly what makes us better than all the other animals, but it really doesn't look like the case anymore. I think greed has trumped over it and now a black cloud hangs over our humanity. Isn't humane deriving from the word human?

Me: But it still begs the question, "Why is suffering wrong?" What does empathy have to do with Darwinism? Or, what, in Darwinism, declares suffering to be wrong, empathy or no? I am not questioning or trying to insult your own beliefs, but trying to find someone to explain the rationale of Singer and Dawkins in theirs.

Take Care

Sunday, 18 April 2010

the New Pharisees

Each Sunday morning, as I prepare for church, I have the TV on in the background. The program is a word of faith ministry, who I listen to just to see what they say, and with what I can disagree. Today's message was more of the usual, about how if we have enough faith we can move mountains, live in prosperity and cast out all sickness and disease. Their, "positive confession" message warns about using any words that would indicate any unfortunate reality in our lives, like debt or illness, but to confess over these things words like, "You are gone! Get out of my life!"

Even the other night in our Bible study, I mentioned that my wife and I are praying for the sale of our house (we feel called, for various reasons, back to Edmonton.) We had just finished a discussion on baptism (this being a Baptist church, I was the only one baptized as an infant) when one member said, jokingly I hope, that perhaps the house wasn't selling is because I was being disobedient in this area. I thought, but didn't say, (as usual I think of what to say afterwards), that there was enough unanswered prayer around that very table to go blaming it on disobedience. Now I agree that sometimes our sin or our disobedience can indeed separate us from God, and if we are being deliberately disobedient, why would we expect God to answer our prayers.

But I think that the word of faith movement goes to far. Because that is the very heart of their message; that our own negative words or even thoughts can prevent God from answering prayer. That if our prayers are not answered, or don't seem to be, that it is automatically becuse we don't have enough faith, or we have unconfessed sin in our lives. What a burden to put on people. Peoples' lives and trust in God have been destroyed by this callous attitude.

So why do I call them pharisees? I am reminded of this statement of Jesus to the pharisees of his own day:
They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:4)

Every time I hear their teaching this verse comes to mind.

Take Care

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Greedy and the Gullible

Interesting words of wisdom from Doug Wilson, from a book he has written;
"Any man seeking control of the engines of the state, the better to accomplish his plundering, always promises to make the great businesses pay taxes -- and the envious man cheers. But of course, no business ever paid a tax without passing it on to the consumer, and the envious man finds himself paying for the pillage he ardently supports. But don't feel sorry for him; he is an envious fool and deserves everything he gets, both good and hard. A wise man hates all forms of envy" (Joy at the End of the Tether, pp. 55-56).

Take Care

How Many Earth Hours?

Iceland volcano could have world consequences

For how many earth hours will the gullible have to dim their lights to compensate for this?

The fact is that any cutbacks all mankind could make in their contribution to so-called, "greenhouse gasses" would be infinitesimal, neglibible and insignificant in comparison. Yet we are brainwashing our schoolchildren and other innocent or gullible souls that WE, the unconquerable human race, we, the all powerful who have it within our abilities to solve any problem, can actually do something to change things. And this at potentially back-breaking economic cost to this and future generations. Now, I am not encouraging enviromental irresponsibility, but let's not have a higher opinion of ourselves than we should.

We have come to think of ourselves as equal to God. We think we have the power to get ourselves back to the garden.

Take Care