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June 2006

June 26, 2006

0310231973Richard Mouw’s inspiration for the name Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport came from the film Hardcore, directed by Paul Schrader, an ex-Calvinist. In this film, Schrader presents Jake Van Dorn, a pious Calvinist played by George C. Scott. In one scene, Jake sits in an airport in Las Vegas while trying to track down his daughter, who has gotten involved in the pornography business and is reported to be in Vegas. He has enlisted the help of Niki, a young woman who knows his daughter. As they sit, Niki challenges Jake on what she feels is an exceedingly negative outlook on life. He responds with a dry, irrelevant explanation of TULIP, the five points of Calvinism. Schrader takes this opportunity to poke fun at the tradition he grew up in and to poke fun at his memories of Calvinists.

June 26, 2006

076420243X.jpgAlready more than a year has passed since Terri Schiavo died. Though her story is well known and was the subject of near-constant media coverage, I will repeat the most important points. In 1990, Schiavo, then 26, collapsed in her home and experienced both respiratory and cardiac arrest. She was in a coma for 10 weeks and was subsequently diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Her husband Michael was determined to preserve her life and to seek therapy to increase her quality of life. But after successfully suing a doctor who had failed to properly diagnose bulimia before her collapse, he had a sudden change of heart. While he was awarded over a million dollars, most of which was for Terri’s medical care and therapy, he did very little for her. In 1998, once it became legal to do so, he petitioned a court to have Terri’s feeding tube removed. Terri’s family (the Schindlers) fought desperately to keep her alive.

June 26, 2006

Monday June 26, 2006

Politics: The Harris brothers have written about Brittany McComb, a valedictorian whose speech was cut off when she committed the egregious sin of mentioning Jesus.

Church: The Chicago Tribune reports on a church that has figured out a way of getting visitors through the doors. ” United Pentecostal Church of Harvey plans to provide the cash [$25] to the first 75 people who visit the church for the first time at each of two services, one at 10 a.m. and another at 1 p.m.”

More Church: Another paper, the Modesto Bee, is reporting that the play “Jesus Christ Superstar” is becoming increasingly popular in Christian circles. Sanctified blasphemy, perhaps?

Culture: Meanwhile, FoxNews reports that “Mannies” are all the rage. Britney Spears is leading yet another celebrity-driven fad: male nannies. Does this strike anyone else as a bad idea?

June 25, 2006

Matthew Henry once wrote regarding family worship, “Here the Reformation must begin.” If we are to experience the fullness of God’s blessings and are to be as faithful to Him as we can be, we must begin with the family, the very building block of God’s kingdom. This is something that was understood by the first and second generation Dutch-Canadian Christians among whom I grew up. Every meal was begun with prayer and every meal ended in a time of family worship. I do not recall any exceptions. This was the expectation of all families, and I am quite sure that nothing short of natural disaster would interfere with this family worship. It impacted myself and my family deeply.

Outside of those Dutch circles it seems that family worship is far less common. I find it strange that at a time when there is such a great deal of discussion about the priority and nature of worship, so little attention has been given to family worship. Don Whitney seeks to remedy that in his new booklet entitled Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home.

June 24, 2006

It’s a beautiful day in Toronto. Though it’s a little bit overcast, it is still warm and bright. It’s an almost perfect day to take in a ballgame. And, in fact, that was my plan. Once or twice a season I like to take my son down to the Rogers Center to watch the Bluejays play and today seemed ideal. The weather is great, so the roof of the stadium should be open, and yet we won’t have to worry about baking and burning in the hot summer sun. The Jays’ ace, Roy Halladay, is on the hill so the game is almost guaranteed to move along quickly and there is a very good chance that Toronto will win. The game starts at 4:00 rather than the usual 1:00, allowing us time to do our Saturday chores before we head to the game.

Just as I was going to announce this plan to my son, I suddenly remembered that there is more than baseball happening downtown this weekend. This is the weekend of Toronto’s “Pride” week, a week long celebration of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and the like. The week culminates in a “Dyke March” today and the “Pride Parade” on Sunday. Official statistics proclaim that over a million people take in these events, though those in the know seem to indicate this is greatly over-stating the truth. Regardless, the fact is that this weekend parts of the downtown core of Toronto are dedicated to celebrating homosexuality. Whole blocks have been barricaded and celebrations are happening throughout the area.

It seems to me that it would be pretty irresponsible to take my son downtown this weekend. The stadium is a few blocks from the epicenter of the Pride celebrations, but there is sure to be revelry far beyond those boundaries. Just yesterday, my friend Ian went shopping and posted this on his blog: “I was first tipped off that something was different because there was a patio set-up in front of the store for eating, making it have the appearance of a restaurant. As of yet, I have no idea why that was set-up. There were a number of people milling about, and amongst the crowd was this man in full regalia. I really couldn’t say who he thought he was, but he sure didn’t think he was of the male gender! Fish-net stockings, a bright and shiny super-hero costume, more make-up than Tammy Faye, he was easy to pick out of the crowd. In particular because he was easy 6 ft. tall with a stocky build. With him was another man, this one less super-hero, more hooker. They made quite a pair, standing amidst a crowd of people who were trying to act as if nothing abnormal were going on.”

You see, I just don’t know that I’d like my six-year old to have to see this. And what’s more, I don’t think my son should have to see this. Like Ian, I don’t react with disgust to men like this. Nor do I respond with acceptance. I pity them, though, and hope that God extends His grace to them as He has seen fit to do with me. This exhibition of depravity is but a reminder of my own depravity. But a young boy does not need such vivid reminders. Not like this.

And so my son and I will stay home today and perhaps take in the game on television. And we’ll wait for another weekend when we can have our city back.

June 23, 2006

I believe in the Bible, that it is clear, complete, sufficient, true and without error. It says what it means. I do not demand that God speaks to me apart from it. I’m not waiting for still, small voices in my head or trying desperately to find God’s will through random circumstances. I read, He speaks, I obey. Or I try anyways.

I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe in a God who is one, yet three. I believe in a God who is loving, holy, just, kind and good. I believe in a God who knows all and has foreordained all that has come to pass or will come to pass.

I believe that God, from nothing, made the world and everything in it in six days. Not six ages or six phases or six million years, but six days. 144 hours. That’s what He said, so that’s what He did. And it was good.

I believe in sin. I believe that Eve actually did converse with a talking snake and that her act of rebellion and the sin of her husband was as simple as taking a bite of a really delightful piece of fruit. This is not metaphor or fable. This is just what happened. Because of that sin, I believe you and I are both worthy of God’s wrath. When Adam fell, we fell. And it was not good.

I believe that I am sinful. I delight in evil. I hate what is good. I am thoroughly, utterly depraved. Sin pervades every area of my life and turns me against my Creator. What is true of me is true of all men.

I believe in justice and in judgment. I believe that God, being just, demands just satisfaction for any all sinful deeds.

I believe in hell. A literal, tormentuous hell that is far worse than we can imagine. Nor should we want to imagine it. It is a place of justice. There are no devils with pitchforks and no sense of community where sinners sit around and discuss all the fun they had on earth. It is just the sinner and God, full of wrath, one-on-one forever. You don’t want to experience that and neither do I, though I believe that we both deserve to go there.

I believe in grace, the unmerited favor that God chooses to extend to all in some ways and to only some in other ways. God grants grace to all men that they may live and laugh and love and enjoy this world. I believe that God grants special grace to some so that they may love and enjoy and serve Him forever. God shows His grace in providing us with a way out of the horrifying mess we’ve made.

I believe in Jesus. Born of a virgin, the perfect, Holy Son of God. The God-man. He died, literally, was buried, literally, and rose, literally.

I believe in the atonement. Jesus died on the cross in place of His people. He suffered in place of His people. And through this act, my sin was imputed to Him and His righteousness was imputed to me. This was the greatest act of grace and kindness the world has ever known or ever will know. Nothing that can, will, or could happen is greater than this.

I believe there is no salvation outside of Jesus. God will not waive the requirements of righteousness at the final judgment. Not for anyone and not for everyone. Not for those who have never heard of Him. Not for children. Not even not for those who love Him.

I believe in the gospel, the message of the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, substitutionary death, and glorious resurrection.

I believe in repentance, for without turning away it is impossible to turn towards.

I believe that man’s chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To glorify God by enjoying Him forever. I don’t need to undergo testing, fill out inventories or take a forty day journey to discover my gifting or purpose. Our purpose is as simple and as joyful as living to bring honor and joy and glory to God. Our purpose is a privilege.

I believe in the church - the true church - which is God’s community of the elect, anxiously awaiting the sound of the trumpet, dedicating themselves to carrying out God’s purposes while they wait. The church is the total number of God’s people living when they are where they are. It is the church’s honor and responsibility to take the good news to all the world.

I believe in families that honor God. I believe in families centered around marriage, an institution created by God and for God. Men are to lead their wives. Women are to submit to their husbands. Together, through their complementary roles, they are to provide a portrait of the love of God for His people.

I believe in perseverance; that God, by His grace, will never let go of those who have been saved.

I believe in heaven. A literal, beautiful, physical heaven that is far better than we can imagine. Heaven is the community of the redeemed together with God, full of love, all together for ever. It is a place of no pain, no sorrow. I long for this place. I hope I see it soon.

I believe in glorification; that someday God will return and will bring with him a new heaven and a new earth. Those who have been saved will live together forever, new body and perfected spirit united, in the presence of God. My heart aches for this day, for on this day I will believe perfectly and fully. And so will you.

June 23, 2006

Friday June 23, 2006

Theology: The most recent issue of “Critical Issues Commentary” deals with the always-important topic of discernment, and in particular, the ability of the Christian to judge.

More Theology: John Hendryx of “Reformation Theology” (and, of course, Monergism.com) posts the always-contentious “Prayer of the Consistent Synergist.”

Politics: Canada’s Conservative government hopes to raise the age of consent. It is currently 14, but the Tories hope to increase it to sixteen (though there will be a “near-age exemption” for people who are within 5 years of each other). The law is intended to protect teens from predators. Canoe reports.

Technology: I’ve found the biggest page on the Internet. Considering its size, it is surprisingly fast-loading. You can see it here. If you decide to scroll across the page, it will take about seven times longer than the average human life span to scroll from one end to the other.

June 22, 2006

MayflowerThe decision that I would read Mayflower, a book that has made its way nearly to the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers, took only as long as was necessary for me to understand that it dealt with the Puritan pilgrims who arrived on the shores of American in 1620. Though the story of the arrival and early struggles of this group of immigrants is now the stuff of legend, I know surprisingly little about these people. Because this story has entered the realm of legend, it is difficult to know where reality ends and mere fantasy begins. Nathaniel Philbrick, who was awarded the National Book Award for his previous title, In the Heart of the Sea, believes that the oft-told tale of the first Thanksgiving, celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians, does not do justice to the history of Plymouth Colony.