Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Second Great Embarrassment

Karl Marx was a mediocre writer, but his reference to a great philosopher has been quoted and re-quoted: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
If we could laugh off current evangelical scandals, our situation would not be so dim—but we cannot. Historians lecture on the Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) and the Second Great Awakening (1800s), but in our time we could mutter about the Great Embarrassment (1987-1991) and the Second Great Embarrassment (2006-present).
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Christian Art

or most people, Christianity and art no longer resonate as a glorious pairing. It's a sad and sorry truth that even as Christians, we've largely lost our respect and reverence for "Christian art."
Wandering through Western Christendom, in which artists are currently arting, I've sampled just about all the flavors of Christian creator and Christian consumer. The too-sugary-sweet, message-is-master types. The respect-me-at-all-costs-hard-bitten types. The ironic. The naïve. The truly talented. The posers. The Christians who can't tell a story without an altar call and the Christians who write as if all of reality fits into that one guilt-ridden moment when Cain was busy slaying Abel—giving man's sinful nature the last word. And of course, there are also those Christian artists who don't want their art to be "Christian" at all. (And the Christian consumers who feel the same way.)
Despite the vast confusion of taste in the kingdom, and the proliferation of art of varying quality, we share one profoundly common bond: Everyone is insecure about the branding of Christian art. Everyone worries about being labeled cheesy—even the cheesiest people I know. Some artists delude themselves into thinking that they aren't, and others attempt to divorce their faith from their creations with a secular firewall.
Many actually believe that they are building something that has never been built before, like they are the first to stand against the raging tide of schlock and do something worthwhile. They are in pursuit of Christian art, but, you know—good this time.
As Christian artists and Christian consumers, it is all too easy for our eyes—particularly (but not only) the eyes of the young—to look ever sideways. Is this cool? Is it cool enough? We get embarrassed by a movie celebrating life and grieving over abortion carnage and bemoan the state of Christian film. Why? Because of the camera work? Because of the acting? Maybe. But more likely because we believe a worldly lie about our own branding.
I come to you with strange news. Brace yourselves. There is a hundred times more schlock and garbage in unbelieving art than in ours. More terrible camera work. More bad acting. More mindlessness. More soul-lessness. More pitiful lyrics. More misery. not to excuse our own inadequacies (which are all too real), but we should stop fearing the snarkiness of those performing worse than we are.
Need some confidence? Take a look beyond our own pop-frothy moment.
Christian art? Are you kidding me? Christianity has produced the greatest art of all time. Get some swagger, people, because we're undefeated. Did a culture of atheism bring us Handel'sMessiahBach? What faith fed the Dutch masters? Give the cathedrals a glance and then find me better architecture. Have a listen to some American spirituals. To the blues. To gospel. Our brothers illuminated manuscripts (and don't you forget it). Narnia. Hobbits. Folk songs. Symphonies. Through the history of the Christian church there runs a wide and roaring river of artistic glory, feeding believers and unbelievers alike.
Now before you start pointing to some of the unbelieving masters, watch me cheat: all beauty is God's. All truth is God's. All goodness is God's. Even those who hate him are made in his image, and if they, by grace, craft glory, we should thank them very much for their contribution and swipe it.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meditating On Future Life - John Calvin

WHATEVER be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life.

 This life, though abounding in all kinds of wretchedness, is justly classed among divine blessings which are not to be despised. Wherefore, if we do not recognize the kindness of God in it, we are chargeable with no little ingratitude towards him. To believers, especially, it ought to be a proof of divine benevolence, since it is wholly destined to promote their salvation. Before openly exhibiting the inheritance of eternal glory, God is pleased to manifest himself to us as a Father by minor proofs, viz., the blessings which he daily bestows upon us. Therefore, while this life serves to acquaint us with the goodness of God, shall we disdain it as if it did not contain one particle of good? We ought, therefore, to feel and be affected towards it in such a manner as to place it among those gifts of the divine benignity which are by no means to be despised.

 Were there no proofs in Scripture, (they are most numerous and clear,) yet nature herself exhorts us to return thanks to God for having brought us forth into light, granted us the use of it, and bestowed upon us all the means necessary for its preservation. And there is a much higher reason when we reflect that here we are in a manner prepared for the glory of the heavenly kingdom. For the Lord hath ordained, that those who are ultimately to be crowned in heaven must maintain a previous warfare on the earth, that they may not triumph before they have overcome the difficulties of war, and obtained the victory. Another reason is, that we here begin to experience in various ways a foretaste of the divine benignity, in order that our hope and desire may be whetted for its full manifestation. When once we have concluded that our earthly life is a gift of the divine mercy, of which, agreeably to our obligation, it behoves us to have a grateful remembrance, we shall then properly descend to consider its most wretched condition, and thus escape from that excessive fondness for it, to which, as I have said, we are naturally prone.

Wait Til It's Free - Support the Project


My friends Colin and Emily Gunn are busy about another project. This time their focus is Obamacare.


Wait Till It's Free (Teaser Trailer) from Wait Till It's Free on Vimeo.

They are less than $5000 away from their goal with 8 days to go. Visit the Kick Starter Page to see how you can become a part of this important project.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

He Must Be Repentant

True repentance is the result of an accurate understanding of the significance  and gravity of sin, coupled with an overwhelming desire for the remission of that sin through the person and work of Christ and a turning from sin and dead works to faith and obedience. Jeremiah Burroughs, in his book Gospel Remission, gives us a portrait of true repentance as only a Puritan writer can. In describing the penitent believer's attitude toward his sin, Burroughs writes:

Oh, I see the angry countenance of an infinite God against me, whose eyes are a flaming fire looking with indignation upon me! I see a dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty hanging over me! I see woe, misery, and destruction,  pursuing me! I see blackness of darkness and desolation even surrounding me! I both see and feel the woeful accusations of a guilty conscience within me, condemning me, continually grating upon my soul and terrifying me with dreadful visions of eternal miseries to betide me! I see the chain of black guilt and horror on my soul, that I carry with me wherever I go! I see the bottomless gulf of eternal horror and despair with the mouth of it wide open to swallow me up!

This type of imagery is anything but familiar to those of us who are used to trafficking in the seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, best-life-now drivel of our day. Seldom do we hear about the "black dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty" anymore. However, this is how the repentant sinner thinks about sin.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Luther on Praying for Piety in Marriage

[My] dear son and daughter, you need not consider praying for a pious spouse a disgrace, For you do not consider it a disgrace to ask God to give you a sound hand or leg...Now a pious spouse is as necessary as a sound hand or leg. For if a husband or wife do not turn out well, you enjoy few good days or hours and would prefer to have a paralyzed hand or leg instead. -Martin Luther, What Luther Says

Monday, September 09, 2013

WHO WILL STAND

One of the better memories from 1941

Ladies Pre-War 1941 Columbia Cruiser Bicycle


From a time when bicycles made you feel like you were soaring.
Every time you ride this bit of nostalgia, you'll be on vacation.
$99 opening bid

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Declaring War on The Sinner's Prayer (Paul Washer)



Decisionism. The idolatry of decisionism. Men think they are going to heaven because they have judged the sincerity of their own decision. When Paul came to the church in Corinth he did not say to them, "Look, you're not living like Christians so let's go back to that one moment in your life when you prayed that prayer and see if you were sincere." Listen to the video to hear what Paul said.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Assurance And The Love Of The World

 
The ninth impediment that keeps Christians from assurance is An immoderate love of the world. Their thoughts and heart are so busied about getting the world and keeping the world, that they neither seek assurance as they should, nor prize assurance as they should, nor lament the want of assurance as they should, nor study the worth and excellency of assurance as they should; and therefore it is no wonder, that such are without assurance. As it is very hard for a rich man to enter into heaven, Mat. 19:23, 24, so it is very hard for a worldly Christian to get assurance of heaven. The "thick clay," Hab. 2:6, of this world doth so affect him, and take him, so satisfy him, and sink him, that he is not able to pursue after assurance, with that life and love, with that fervency and frequency, as those must do that will obtain it. It is said, Gen. 13.2, "That Abraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold"; according to the Hebrew, Abraham was "very heavy"; to shew, saith one, that riches are a heavy burden, and a hindrance many times to a Christian's comfort and confidence, to his happiness and assurance. Solomon got more hurt by his wealth, than he got good by his wisdom. Such a fire rose out of his worldly enjoyments, as did even consume and burn up his choicest spirits and his noblest virtues; under all his royal robes, he had but a thread-bare soul. Sicily, saith one, is so full of sweet flowers, that dogs cannot hunt there, the scent of the sweet flowers diverteth their smell. And ah! what doth all the sweet delights and contents of this world, but make men lose the scent of heaven, but divert men from hunting after assurance, and from running after Christ, in the sweetness of his ointments. - Thomas Brooks in Heaven on Earth