20 December 2012

Sixty Seconds to What?

Imitating one of my favorite blog authors, the Housewife Theologian, I'm naming my blog post after a song.  But I bet its a song that neither she, nor many others who read this blog, will remember.  It is a tension-filled piece of background music in the Clint Eastwood western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (You can play a segment of the song here.) You know the scene...where Eastwood and at least two other bad guys are standing there, looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes, waiting for the first guy to draw.

It is an appropriate song though, as it is almost midnight here.  That makes it sixty seconds to the end of the world, if the whole calender thingy is true.

But I don't think so.  An ancient native calender might be your idea of how to predict the future, but it's not Mayan.


Spam Attacks

As much as I hate to do so, I'm going to have to reinstate the dreaded captcha thing for comments:  I'm getting overloaded with spam attacks. 

Perhaps I can remove it in a few weeks if things slow down.

17 December 2012

My Heart Breaks for Families in Newtown

Some of the numbness is wearing off.  Since the events of last week, since the shootings happened, I've been pretty numb.  I think this is a psychological defense that we have; a defense I have as a parent. I'm afraid if I felt the full weight of what happened, I'd lose my mind.  Thank God for small blessings, including psychological anesthesia.

But now some of that numbness is wearing off, and I can think more about what has happened, and it is not an easy thing to do.  I have four kids.  I have pictured in my mind what it might be like to be one of the parents of a child who lost her life at school that day.  My kids are at school right now.  Are they sitting attentively in class while the teacher explains how to conjugate a verb? Are they laughing with their friends in the cafeteria? Will the school day today end like the last one, with smiling kids coming in the house to tell me about their day?

Or will it end like the day did in Connecticut last week?  I think about what that might be like...coming home to the still-unmade bed where she got up that morning; lying there and smelling the unmistakable smell of your child and knowing that it is fading and will never be back again. The sibling, looking at the Legos that he was playing with along with the sister that will not be back to finish the fort, and not able to make any sense of it. The grandparent, with the cute packages already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, with her name on the sticker, packages which won't be opened by the one for whom they were lovingly prepared.

I hurt so much for those families.

I found this statement from a pastor in Newtown, in this blog post.  It helps, a bit. But I don't know anything that can really help other than the strength that God Himself can provide an individual at a time like this.  Here's a quote from the blog-

It has to be noted that this kind of sin and horrible loss is not absent in the pages of Scripture. Job had his family murdered by the devil, and Job responded with a heart of faith: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And Job’s faith in the sovereign hand of God must remain ours now.

At the same time, we remember that Job also asked “why?” as we are prone to do. We must realize, however, that God never answered Job’s why question, nor did he permit Job to question his wisdom. Instead, God simply pointed Job back to his own glorious character, sovereignty and wisdom. And Job found a place of blessedness when he rested there. His blessing came by resting in the glorious purposes of God. I think we want answers, but God does not give us answers. Instead, he reveals his character and glory. And that is faith—leaning on the sovereign hand of God. Not knowing why, but knowing who to lean on through the loss. God does not answer our questions; he IS our answer.

I have opinions, and some strong ones, on what should be done to prevent this.  I have strong opinions on the wrong responses as well, and these are the very things that I see starting to happen within the government and in the media as well.  But right now is probably not the time to focus on how to respond to the foolishness of a secular culture and a secular government, as much as it is time to weep with those who weep, and try to find good things (God-glorifying things) to say to those who have questions they can't answer, and of course to pray for the relief from pain through which the families of those kids are now walking.  It's every parents' worst fear, and it is a pain that cannot really be imagined, I think, until it happens.  And even then, there are no words to describe it.

If it weren't for God's grace, and the assurance I have in Christ; if I lived in a world of nihilistic existence, I would not retain my sanity.  I could not maintain a grip on life itself, and the only question left, like Hume had to ask, would be when to effect my own demise. This grace and this assurance are the message we must continue to communicate to those in our (very demonstrably) lost world.

Humanistic solutions will fail.  Secular methods of comfort will remain cold and empty. Only the assurance of a reason to exist; of a loving and sovereign God, can begin to help us answer the questions we have or provide us with any comfort in life and in death.

The Problem With Works-Based Salvation, in Simple Terms

I think today's Calvin and Hobbes cartoon illustrates a great deal of what Martin Luther was trying to say in his Heidelberg Disputation, but says it in a lot simpler terms.

If you want the longer version, I highly recommend two books.  The first is the classic by Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross.  The second is Alistair McGrath's look at the same material, Luther's Theology of the Cross.

I'm planning to re-read Forde's book, as it is one that can't be absorbed fully on the first (or likely the second or third) reading.

I'm working on McGrath's book now.  Good stuff.  But Calvin (the kid, not the theologian) says it pretty well above.

05 December 2012

Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?

I really like what Doug Wilson says here.

And this is the position the American people are now in. We have thieves in Congress and in the White House because we have thievery in our hearts. Because we have larceny in our hearts, wanting to pay off 2012 debts with 2022 money, we put up with Bernake's monkeyshines at the Fed. Because we have larceny in our hearts, we hear a politician say that the rich should pay their "fair share" and we reflexively say yeah! -- in the name of justice. Thus we call rank injustice justice (Is. 5:20), and we do it because there is larceny in our little piggy hearts. Because we have larceny in our hearts, we call it greed when someone wants to keep the money he made, and we don't call it greed when we want to take it away from him. But we are the ones with sticky fingers -- and we have sticky fingers because of our sticky hearts.

Because we have larceny in our hearts, we cannot follow any economic arguments that have square shoulders, an upright posture, and an honest face. Who do they think they are anyway?

By the way, and I simply make this point in passing, it will do no good to get off this charge by appealing to our cultural memories of Robin Hood. He was not robbing the rich to give to the poor. He was robbing the tax collectors in order to get the money back to the people who had earned it in the first place. The Sherwood Forest hideout had a Gadsden flag flying over it.