God is Joy

God rejoices in the creation and in people....
It is refreshing to know that joy is a divine attribute and that when the Spirit plants joy in us (Gal 5:22), we are becoming more like God.  We should not think of God, or the ideal Christian, as constantly disapproving or dour.

John Frame, Systematic Theology, pg. 253.

God's Love

John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 12

We move now from knowing God by His acts, to knowing Him by His attributes.  Scripture explicitly tells us what God is like.

We can classify attributes of God in several ways.
Defining attributes are those that would describe God if He never made the world.  Infinity, for example.
Relative attributes relate Him to the world.  Lord, for instance.

Communicable attributes are those that His creatures can share.  Holiness, e.g.
In communicable attributes we cannot share.  His simplicity (no parts or wavering passions as we have)

This is a broad category, but we usually mean moral good, like righteous.  God is good and merciful to all, Ps 145:9, even unbelievers (Matt 5:45).  No one can accuse God of unfairness.

Language - it's better to study the Bible than the Greek lexicon to understand God's love.  Turret in speaks of God's benevolence willing good to us, His beneficence doing good to us, and His complacency enjoying us.

Extent of love - John 3:16 shows that God loved the whole world, though not all are saved by Christ's coming.  We can and should appeal to all people to believe on the Lord Jesus, because God has shown us all His love.

Saving love - saving sinners by the cross of Christ.  The atonement epitomizes God's love for us.  Rom 5:8; John 15:13-14.

Love as lordship - God's love create a new heart in us, changing our desires to be for Him.  He does more than persuade, but less than coerce, us.

Means favor, a positive attitude toward a person.  When God shows favor to men, it is never based on our goodness meriting it, only on His sovereign choice.  Grace is personal and covenantal: He chooses a people to bear His name.  This results in their faith (Acts 11:23; 18:27).  The Jerusalem council clarifies that this comes apart from keeping the law or relying on our own goodness (Acts 15:10-11).  Greetings and benedictions in Paul's letters stress grace upon us.

Common grace
God restrains sin in people, restrains His own wrath, gives rain on just and unjust.  Unsaved people do good, know truth, and experience blessing by the Holy Spirit (Num 22-24; 1 Sam 10:9-11; Heb 6:4-6).  It may be better to call this goodness, rather than grace, since the Bible doesn't use the word grace in this category.  But scripture often speaks of grace without using the word (prodigal son, e.g.).

This is the Hebrew word for God's covenant keeping love.  Ps 136; 1 Chron 16:34; Deut 7:9, 12.  He made promises to Adam, Abraham, Israel, etc., and He will keep them.  David and Jonathan's loyalty to each other, and the institution of marriage are examples.  This differs from love (ahava in Hebrew) that creates covenant or initiates grace.  Hesed keeps and fulfills it, sometimes in response to our repentance or faithfulness.

An attitude, even emotion, of love and concern expressed.  Ex 34:6: Matt 9:6: 1 Pet 3:8.

Other forms of Gods goodness
Gentleness in power that serves, beauty, joy, peace, blessed, satisfied - these all describe God.

Courting in Geneva

Peter Jones, pastor in West Virginia, has done some excellent work culling historical research on courtship and marriage in Calvin's Geneva.

Geneva had a very developed system, assuming parental authority and guidance in match-making, but also forbidding setting up children against their will and other heavy handed parental practices.  Parents couldn't refuse to give their daughter a dowry if she married against dad's wishes, for instance.

One of the ugliest aspects (rare, too) of modern courtship is painting it as such a blessing when a father interviews a young man extensively without the daughter knowing it, and then presents him to his daughter with high expectations.  Her refusal of that man would be ingratitude and rebellion.  Father has provided for daughter; she's supposed to submit to them both, after all!  Calvin's Geneva would have forbidden this, if the daughter didn't want to marry him.

Sometimes we react against recent history, but find help in less recent history.

Peace at the Table

God calls us to peace with Him.  He shows us this at the Lords supper, the New Testament peace offering, where God gives us back part of the sacrificed offering for us to eat in his presence.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this sacrifice.  He made for us our peace with God, and we receive Jesus Himself in this communion.

Let us be careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  At the family table, you can find all kinds of things to fuss at others about.  But we put aside contention and selfishness.  We do the hard work, the Gospel driven work, the spirit enabling work, of abiding, remaining, staying in the presence of Christ. And in the presence of one another.

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.

Hiding from God with Mountain-Top Experience

Isaiah 1:13-14, 18
      Bring no more vain offerings; 
      incense is an abomination to me. 
                  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— 
      I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 
             Your new moons and your appointed feasts 
      my soul hates; 
                  they have become a burden to me; 
      I am weary of bearing them. 

      “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: 
                  though your sins are like scarlet, 
      they shall be as white as snow; 
                  though they are red like crimson, 
      they shall become like wool. 

This campout has an annual appointed feast for us.  We look forward to it, it’s once a year and unique.  We have fond memories of past campouts.  There is real blessing in this, and some opportunity for sin, as with every good gift from God that sinners receive.  One danger is we have another tool for self-deception.  The nostalgia and joy and sentimental feelings we have about campouts can cast a curtain over sin we aren’t dealing with.  Yes, that’s still stubbornly sitting there, but it can’t be that bad – I mean, look at the great time we’re having this weekend!  And the very thing God means for our joy and good – an annual feast – we turn into a way to hide from Him.

Let us confess the many ways we hide from God and avoid dealing with our sins against Him.

Outdoor Worship - Opening Prayer

Lord, we are considering the heavens and the work of your hands this weekend.    You do care for us, though we seem so insignificant in the vast scale of your creation.  The trees, grass, clouds, rain and sun all praise You.  In the heat and the cold, we remember we are creatures who need your care.  A few degrees up or down and we cry out for care.  Lord, we cry out to you this morning.  For physical needs, yes, but also for forgiveness and favor, mercy and strength.  Hear our cry.  Let it be one of faith, love, trusting a father who is good and kind and compassionate. 



God's Decrees

John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 11

God acts in miracles, providence and creation, all with a purpose.  That purpose can be described as His decrees - what He ordains to bring to happen.  Though the word "decree" doesn't appear in Scripture often, these words do:  plan, counsel, purpose, will, pleasure, etc.

God's decrees covering all things shows His Lordship over everything, that He intends everything for a reason.  His interpretation of the facts precedes the facts (Van Til).  In other words, everything is as it is by His design and decree.

God elects a people historical sense and in an eternal sense.
Historically, Israel was and the church is God's people.  This choice was by God's grace, not their merit (Deut 7:7-8).  But people can forsake God and be removed from this historically elect group by their unfaithfulness (Saul, Judas, excommunication, etc.).  We don't have to say they were never elect in the historical sense, as we do in the eternal sense (1 John 2:19).  Not all of this group are eternally elect.  This category is alive and well in the NT, too (Acts 5; Heb 6:4-6; Rev 2-3).  Jesus is the ultimate elect of Israel, the faithful remnant and branch (Jeremiah 23).

Eternally God forgives the sins and writes His law on the hearts of His eternally elect (Jer 31:31-34; Rom 8:29-39).  This does not depend on our ongoing faithfulness, for God keeps these faithful.

These two senses are meant to go together.  We see historical election, and so have a "limited knowledge" of eternal election.

Eternal election implies reprobation.  God choose not to save some. Romans 9 shows this, especially verse 22.  This doesn't mean we aren't responsible and guilty when we reject God ourselves. It doesn't mean we need not offer the Gospel to all men.  It doesn't take away from our assurance, which should come from looking to Christ's promises, not eternal decrees.

The order of God's decrees has prompted lots of debate.  Did God elect His people from their fallen state, or before they were created?  Supralapsarian says "before the Fall."  Infra-lapsarian says "after the Fall."  Frame says we shouldn't take sides, as Scripture doesn't let us into God's priorities and thought processes this minutely.  The infras are right that God chose us out of sin, so the Fall is in view.  The supras are right that God has a plan for His people beyond the Fall and created history.  In my view Ephesians 1:4 answers this question very decisively on the supra side, but the infra concern about the sin context should not be dismissed.


Exodus 33:18-23
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

When Moses asked God to go with Israel and to show him God’s glory, God said yes to both.  Moses couldn’t look God in the face, but God did go with them, and He did show Himself to Moses.

We have this experience even more fully in the Lord Jesus.  God has shone the light of His salvation in our hearts, in the face of Jesus Christ.  He has put us in a place by Him.  We stand on solid ground.  He covers us with His hand so we are safe from the glory that could consume us.  Instead we are brought into fellowship with a gracious God.


The Old Paths

Jeremiah 6:16
"      Thus says the LORD: 
                  “Stand by the roads, and look, 
      and ask for the ancient paths, 
                  where the good way is; and walk in it, 
      and find rest for your souls. 
                  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

God calls us to stand at the crossroads and compare the paths.  Consider your options.  You could walk in the old paths, the way God designed for us from the beginning.  The way of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Or we can choose new ways the world offers: hatred, contention, lewdness, jealousy, selfishness, envy and revelry.  One of these ways offers rest for your soul; the other does not.  And yet, we often deliberately choose the way of satisfying the flesh, the eyes and the pride of life.  Let us turn back from turning our back on God.



Review: RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes

RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes
RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes by Benedict of Nursia

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Benedict (d. 547) was a monk who codified life as a community of monks in a monastery. This rule has had broad appeal in monasteries for 1500 years.

Abbot - the supreme leader in charge of all things.
Authority - the main rule is submission to the authority of the abbot and senior ranking monks. A detailed pecking order based on length of time there and virtue was determined by the abbot.
Discipline - removal of meal privileges, corporal punishment and excommunication
Rations - a pound of bread and half a bottle of wine per day for each monk, along with side dishes at the evening meal. Clothing prescribed, down to the underwear.
Outside - a dangerous place - be sure to report everything you experience to the abbot!
Property - absolutely no private property is allowed. Anything found hidden in your bed brings severe punishment.

Worship - seven times a day, the community prays and chants Scripture together. Tardiness or error in recitation means punishment. All 150 Psalms are sung every week. "Monks who in a week's time say less than the full psalter... betray extreme indolence and lack of devotion in their service. We read, after all, that our holy Father, energetic as they were, did all this in a single day."

Spiritual leadership of the abbot -
- help the monks, not yourself
- hate faults but love the brothers
- don't crush bruised reeds
- "strive to be loved rather than feared"
- "arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from."

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To Imbibe or Not?

While discussing food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8, and who the weaker brother is, we got into the discussion of alcohol usage.  Again!

Some history.
Many doubt the ancients could prevent fermentation of grapes, but I’ve seen quotes from Pliny, Plutarch and such that imply it was done.  I grant the point, and assume there was wine and "grape juice" and some variants of wine diluted with water around.

Some Bible word study.
The argument goes from the original word meanings that new wine was unfermented and the Bible means this when it speaks of blessing in regard to wine.  It talks of mixed wine (or other varieties of fermented drink) as a curse.  The facts don't bear this distinction out at all.  Some examples: Hosea 4:11 refers to new wine as dangerous, too.  Isaiah 25:6 and Psalm 104.15 describe yayin and aged wine as blessings.

Temperance folks argue that "fruit of the vine" means it could be non-alcoholic.  This is possible.  But Herodotus also refers to alcoholic wine with this phrase (Histories, I: 211-212).  When Jesus uses it at Passover to institute the Lord's Supper, some argue that the lack of leaven anywhere in the house means there wouldn't have been yeast in the wine, either.  This is not a logical inference.  There's a difference between ferment and leaven.

The argument is also made that Jesus or the apostles would not have partaken of alcohol at all, two points of biblical data argue against it:  Jesus was accused of being a winebibber in Luke 7:34, which wouldn't make sense if He didn't drink at all.  Paul warned the Corinthians against getting drunk at the Lord's Supper, which wouldn't make sense if they were bringing unfermented drink - 1 Cor. 11:21.

Finally - most controversially - it isn't a good argument that the person who has had trouble with alcohol in the past will fall back into it with just a thimble sized communion cup, or even the smell of wine.  This denies personal responsibility.  I don't deny it is harder for a recovering alcoholic to resist falling back into trouble.  But he has the ability to resist (1 Cor 10:13).  This is not a modern problem that just began since we diagnosed alcoholism as a "disease."  It's been just as hard for some folks, going all the way back to Noah (Genesis 9).  That didn't stop God from inviting us to feast before Him with "strong drink" (Deut 14:26).  It's ironic that evangelicals most insistent on personal responsibility in morals and accepting salvation, also functionally deny that responsibility when it comes to this issue.

What God gives us for a blessing, we turn into a curse by our sin.  The response shouldn't be to remove the blessing, but train ourselves and hold each other accountable in proper usage of the blessing.  It's fine to choose not to drink for the taste, the expense or any number of reasons.  But to lump the substance in with a boozing mentality is a generalization Scripture doesn't allow.  I don't write this to cling to my booze, for instance, but to make sure we don't go beyond Scripture in forbidding what it doesn't forbid (1 Tim 4:1-3; Col 2:16).

I do think until people understand and accept this, it's fine for churches to offer grape juice at Communion to those unconvinced.  They are the weaker brother of 1 Cor 8 and Rom 14.  They are not thus to be despised or considered second class, but neither should the church cater completely to their position.

Paul is directly warning ME in 1 Cor 8:7-13 (Romans 14:21 is actually more relevant to this issue) to be careful not to lead a brother into sin by what I drink.  This is different than them being bothered knowing I drink alcohol.  Scripture does not demand I not drink at all because I know they are bothered by it (they think it is wrong), but to not drink if it will cause them to fall into that sin themselves.

The best book on this subject is "God Gave Wine" by Ken Gentry.

Halloween Gospel


Review: The Path of the King

The Path of the King
The Path of the King by John Buchan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well done.

I'd heard of Buchan years ago (39 Steps), but never came across a copy until recently. The author, an English nobleman, wrote this in 1929. It is a series of short vignettes tracing the descendants of a Viking king down to 1861. Forest Gump-style, each descendant has close relations to a significant historical figure or event (Joan of Arc, St Bartholomew Massacre, Abe Lincoln, etc.) You really have to know your history for it to make sense, though.

This would go well for high schoolers studying Western European history, into the New World.

The theme is really fascinating - kingly traits rise and fall in a lineage over time, sometimes falling into the gutter, other times peaking in a significant person who shapes history.

There is a strong anti-democracy point at the end - that nations and men need leadership from kings. They need leadership, not just a public servant to carry out the will of the people. The last couple chapters culminate in a historical figure I didn't expect - worth the read!

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Review: Duel in the Wilderness

Duel in the Wilderness
Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent read for kids or adults on background of George Washington's first significant enterprise that gained him notoriety.

Good writing that conveys the complicated politics and dealings between French, Indian and English with simple prose and dialogue. Also shows the brutality, diplomacy and values of each people. Well worth the read.

There's a mild swear word once or twice, and one description of brutality. Maybe best for 11-14 age range, studying French-Indian War and/or American Revolution background.

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Prayer on Beginning to Worship God

Almighty God, assist us to walk prudently and to fear You, as we assemble before You now.  Order our thoughts and hearts to give You the attention, honor and worship You are due.

We are a distracted people, flitting from one thing to the next.  
Fix our eyes on You, we pray.
We are a multi-tasking people, trying to spin 7 plates in the air at the same time.  
Give us single-hearted devotion to You.

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, so our eyes look to You, Yahweh, our God.

You are the King; command us.
You are the Savior; forgive us.
You are the Shepherd; guide us.
You are the Father; feed us.

Holy God, we draw near to You through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns with You, 1 God from age to age - Amen.



On Casting Cares and Nurturing Seeds of Peace

Philippians 4:6-7
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

This is one of those commands that we make seem way too easy to follow, sometimes.  Do you really understand how challenging it is to love your enemies?  Or to be anxious for nothing?  We need to cast our cares on the Lord, which means you need to let go of it, to throw it to Him.  We have a strong urge to hang on to it.  We may pray, talk with a friend, go to church, listen close, scrunch up face during Communion, the whole nine yards.  But we haven’t yet laid down the burden in our hearts before Him.  We held it up to show Him, then clutched it close to our breast again.

Do you believe that God is really GOD?  Is your life in His hands, or in yours?  Is He good?  Or do you need a back up plan that causes you to clutch that anxiety back to your heart?  Lay it down and give it to Him.

The Table is a place where anxieties subside for a time.  While you eat, you know you’re getting something you need.  God is sowing seeds of peace in your heart, here.  Gently prying your fingers from that worry, asking you to hand it over.  He will feed You, clothe You, give you all you need.  Later today or this week, don’t grab the burden back.  It may gravitate back to you, and you may need to hand it over to him again.  Keep trusting Him, with a thousand little prayers, throwing that worry back to the Lord.  God plants peace in you here – with His Word and sacrament.  Don’t pull up the plants later.  Isaiah 26: “You will keep him in perfect peace,Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

This is reworked from Exhortations, Douglas Wilson, page 89.


I am Yahweh, Your God

The first step to repentance and faith is to know the God who made us.

So the first words God speaks from Sinai are, “I am Yahweh, your God.”  We are obligated to keep His commands because He IS.  Yahweh is the only existing thing that exists on its own.  And He made us, so He is our God.  All creation owes God worship and praise, for being made by Him.  We must keep God’s ways finally because He redeemed us.  Like Israel freed from Egypt, God set us free from the tyranny of the devil and our overpowering sin.

Let us confess our failure to love and trust our Creator and our Redeemer.


Food for Thought on Tattoos

This is pretty good.  I like how it goes beyond the simplistic moral judgment of narcissism, to other things that may be going on.

The "transition from the body as physique to the body as text."

"It may strike old-fashioned types as pedestrian narcissism and adolescent conformity, and sometimes it surely is. But in a deeper and more troubling way, it is canny and subversive artifice, spiced with a moralistic claim to personal liberation."


Correction on the Houston sermon subpoenas

UPDATE: Subpoenas to be narrowed.

Fox's reporting is misleading.  It said the Houston pastors subpoenaed were not part of the lawsuit against the city.  It turns out they ARE associated with the those party to the suit.  This makes a subpoena in the discovery phase of a hearing more understandable.  The courts want to see relevant material to the case.  It still appears to be over-reach, to require those associated pastors not even party to the suit to divulge all they've been saying about this situation.  But if you're going to support suing a city council over matter x, it doesn't make sense to then be outraged that the city court will ask to see what you've said about x.  Your obligation to the court depends on how you have supported the suit.

Apologies to my readers for sensationalizing a situation too quickly.  Context is crucial!

See here for more.

Also, the outrage doesn't fit what may be an opportunity, in a Philippians 1:12-18 kind of way.  Are we more worried about our freedom, or about advancing the message of Christ?  What if Paul refused to respond to Agrippa's subpoena in Acts 24-26?


Frame's Work on Creation

John Frame, Systematic Theology, chapter 10

God brought everything into existence that is.  "Continuous creation" isn't a very helpful concept.  It's enough to say everything depends on God for its existence every moment.  There is original creation of the world order out of nothing, and subsequent creation (like of a new person) out of already existing things.

Creation calls for worship.  Six days of labor leads to one day of rest and worship.  The Psalmist often moves from meditating on creation to praising God.  Paul's sermons often indicate the same (Rom 1:25; Acts 14:15; 17:24-25).

Creation shows God as Lord.  He owns it all.  He has only to speak and it is done (Ps 33:6, 9).  He names and evaluates it (light was good).  Against the Gnostic spiritualists, creation shows that God is present with His world.

Creation anticipates redemption.  God has the right to take back what is His.  Salvation is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17; 4:6), with cosmic proportions (Isa 65:17-18; Rom 8:20-22).

Creation was out of nothing, ex nihilo (Heb 11:3; Rom 4:17).  There is no visible starting point to the world for scientists to identify.  This is hard to imagine.  There was no matter, not even space nor time, from which God made the world.  Scripture does not explicitly teach this, but we can infer it: creation includes everything which had a beginning; God creates and is distinct from His creation; the world was not made from pre-existing stuff or from God Himself.

Creation was probably in six days, though we can't assert this with total certainty.  We should be willing to re-look at this in light of scientific claims, while not making naturalistic assumptions that rule out God's supernatural activity.  Literary structure in Genesis 1-2 does not mean the events described couldn't be historical and chronological.

Creation is young rather than old as modern science claims.  The first week appears to be a normal six day week as we know it now.  There may be some genealogical gaps, but not so many to allow millions of years.  God created the world with the appearance of age, which wasn't deceptive but a necessary part of creation ex nihilo.  As far as old fossils go, God may have created the earth with dead animals in it, or the flood may explain them all.

Evolutionary theory should be rejected.  God made man from dust, not another being (Gen 2:7).  He made animals according to their kinds.  We see variations within species, but "not a process that produces new species."  It is accepted by people because it's the only viable alternative to a Creator.

What Do Your Kids read?

One of my favorite childrens' authors wrote in Tabletalk recently - an excellent take on why it's important to read good stories.  A rollicking review of Hunger Games, Twilight, LOTR, etc.

If you ever wonder why I read and review so many children's books, and pretty critically too, this article should answer your questions.

Find ND Wilson's books here.

An American Government Intimidates Pastors

Would you believe that in America today, a government is requiring pastors to submit any sermons and communications to churches that discuss homosexuality or its current leader, under threat of fine, contempt of court, or imprisonment?

Believe it.

Apparently the separation of church and state they've been appealing to for years is a one-way street.

It is more and more obvious that the homosexual lobby is not about more freedom for minorities, but about coercing and silencing dissent against their positions.

Russell Moore answers nicely.  I'd only disagree with this sentence there. "The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all." Actually, sermons should be of concern to government officials. They should be heeding them and submitting to God's Word.


God's Preserving and Governing Providence

John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 9

There is more to providence than control.

God governs things, which means He steers them toward a designed purpose and goal.  Providence should lead us to consider end times.  Not focusing on the order or timing of events, but on how we ought to live in light of the end.

God preserves His creation.
He sustains it in being generally, in Christ (Col 1:17).
He spares mankind from immediate judgment (Gen 2:17; 2 Peter 3:9), though the flood shows the limit of that patience.  The flood de-created the world: the divisions of sea, earth, and sky (Gen 1:3-13) were undone (Gen 7:11-12).
He blesses His Church, working all things together for our good.  The gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church.  This has a limit, like God's patience: believers are not kept from ALL harm ever, but in the end will be kept from all harm.
He preserves believers to the end.  If He begins a work in us, He finishes it (Philippians 1:6).

Providence is a kind of revelation by His Word, showing His wisdom and removing any excuse for our sin (Rom 1:20).  We can't read God's providence into the future, though.

God uses earthly causes to bring about His will.  He determines if a golf ball will go in the hole or not, and uses the golfer's muscles, swing, wind, etc. to bring that about.  Many say this makes God the author of sin, but that charge works when you assert any form of God's sovereignty.

God is the great story teller who writes the plot, though characters in the story "cause" things to happen.



Two good articles on marijuana, as its legalization in two states causes consternation, celebration, and... whatever.

Stephen Webb at First Things considers carefully whether alcohol and pot are similar enough to call it hypocrisy to favor alcohol, but reject pot, both legally and for recreational use.  Alcohol is abused widely and we don't criminalize it, nor should we.  So why not legalize pot?  Webb answers in depth yet briefly.  (Subscription required for full article, but you should subscribe anyway!)

Warren Cole Smith at World Magazine argues that medical uses of marijuana should be pursued, while keeping recreational use illegal.

Both of these articles say today's pot will impair you nearly immediately, while alcohol requires several drinks to do so.  I have friends who ardently deny this is the case, from their own personal experience in their school days.  The articles point out that today's pot is stronger than 10-20 years ago....

Hm.  Are we headed for normalizing pot because baby boomers had dud joints or weaker ones than today's?  Or because we don't want to be hypocrites by not going back to Prohibition? (Confuses different substances.)  Or out of a principle to not add to Scripture legalistically?  Scripture says plenty about self-control and productivity, which pot works against.  Yes, there is a time to relax, but if your judgment is impaired, you've crossed the Scriptural line.

I'm an advocate of keeping pot illegal, given all the studies which I believe about the long term bad effects on the body and almost immediate impairment.


Review: Annie Henry and the Secret Mission

Annie Henry and the Secret Mission
Annie Henry and the Secret Mission by Susan Olasky

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love Marvin Olasky, but this was pretty poor story writing: pacing was off, ending abrupt, and plot thin. It's the first in a series of five, so the story may continue, but I won't be reading the rest.

If you need something for your younger readers, it'll do.

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Rockin' Calvinism

This is a pretty decent classic rock adaptation of Heidelberg Catechism Q & A #1.


God's Providence

Chapter 8 - John Frame's Systematic Theology

Providence is God preserving and governing everything.

This is a wonder and miracle of a sort.  It is ordinary, instead of extraordinary.  But Scripture often throws them together as reasons to praise God. (Psalm 107, 136)

God's providence is efficacious.  He always accomplishes what He wants to in history.

God's providence is universal, governing the natural world, human history, and the details of individual lives, decisions, sins and our faith.
Natural world.   This is a personal world that God waters, feeds, storms, etc.  Psalm 66.
History.  He raises up Cyrus, Caesar takes a census, etc.  Psalm 33:10; Josh 21:44-45; Dan 4:35.
Individuals.  What was true of Jeremiah is true of us: God knew us before we were born.  Psalm 139:13-16.  Even accidents are from God (Ex 21:12-13).  Psalm 37:23-24.
Decisions.  God brought about the decisions of Judas, Cyrus, the crucifiers of Jesus.  God directs our steps.  Prov 21:1.  The soldiers decide not to divide Christs garment, so Sxripture would be fulfilled.  This causes some problems about how we can be responsible for our choices, yet they were somehow necessitated by Gods purpose.  But it is still true, as asserted by the Bible.
Sin.  God hardened Pharaohs heart, and Israels (Ps 105:24-25; Isaiah 63:17).  This is giving them over to more sin, when they have already been against God.  He does not turn a faithful person against Him, against their will.  More examples in 2 Sam 24; 17:14; 1 Kings 12:15; 2 Chron 25:20; John 12:40; Rom 11:7-8; Act 2:23; 4:28.
Faith.  Faith is a gift of God.  Eph 1:4-6; 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9; 2 Tim 1:9.  There is a human choice involved, but it cannot merit Gods choosing to save us, or we contradict these verses and have a cause for boasting.  God gives repentance and faith (John 15:16; 6:37, 44; Acts 11:18).  He washes us (Titus 3:4-7; Deut 30:6; Jer 31:31ff; 24:7; 2 Cor 4:6).

All things are in God's complete control.  Lam 3:37-38; Rom 8:21-28; Eph 1:11; Rom 11:36.

Christians for Lockean Liberty?

The first half of this post is really helpful in sorting out how Deists like Thomas Jefferson could help found our country on Christian principles.

Doug Wilson on liberty and property.

31 Reformation Days in October

Here's a great devotional resource to highlight the Reformation this month.


A sample of the first one, today:

Understand God’s Work through the Reformation
Sola Scriptura: The Scripture Alone is the Standard

Scripture Reading (selected verses)
Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law….

The Church during the medieval period had become corrupt on many fronts, particularly on the question of authority. ...

Practical reflection questions at the end.