4.28.2007

From heart to head

"Curing the heart will sooner cure the head than the curing the head will cure the heart."

(Jeremiah Burroughs, in Irenicum, pp. 148-149)

Chaos, Unity, or Trinity?

"David Letterman is a very funny polytheist. And Islamic cultures know how to discourage thieves and muggers. The Christian response to this has nothing to do with letters to CBS complaining about Letterman’s randomness, or a letter to one’s congressman asking for vigilance against the Islamic peril in the third world. The answer is for our churches to return to recitations and expositions of the Nicean creed." - Douglas Wilson

Huh?

Further explanation here.

Poem of the Day

Patience Taught By Nature
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

'O dreary life,' we cry, ' O dreary life ! '
And still the generations of the birds
Sing through our sighing, and the flocks and herds
Serenely live while we are keeping strife
With Heaven's true purpose in us, as a knife
Against which we may struggle ! Ocean girds
Unslackened the dry land, savannah-swards
Unweary sweep, hills watch unworn, and rife
Meek leaves drop yeary from the forest-trees
To show, above, the unwasted stars that pass
In their old glory: O thou God of old,
Grant me some smaller grace than comes to these !--
But so much patience as a blade of grass
Grows by, contented through the heat and cold.

4.24.2007

Scripture that makes you go hmm.... Jacob's idols

Friend: Jacob worshipped idols (or at least permitted them to be worshipped in his home) even after encountering God at Bethel and Peniel (Genesis 35:2)

Steve: Not to justify the idolatry, but Jacob was living under duress and dominance of Laban. Laban was the patriarch who set the religion for the extended family into which Jacob came. Yes, Jacob should have removed the idols when Laban's daughters became his wives. This was sin. We expect the Bible to take a few chapters condemning it explicitly, but the Word rarely does this. Instead the rebuke is indirect, as it is with polygamy and slavery. In Jacob's case, you could say he keeps his oath in Gen 28:20-21. Once he gets back safely, especially past Esau, he gets rid of other gods.

Friend: Jacob's idols were in his house long after he had left Laban's jurisdiction. I think you're right that the rebuke is indirect since the only indication we have that he possessed idols was his command to get rid of them. What puzzles me about this case is why God did not confront Jacob with this cardinal sin earlier in the time of his dream at Bethel or his wrestling match at Peniel.

Steve: Again, I would say that Jacob was either hedging his bets, or not yet sure God upheld His end of the bargain in 28:20-21. Not until after Esau welcomed him did Jacob know that God had brought him back safely. This isn't very pious, but then, that's different than righteous sometimes. Jacob was a trickster who therefore distrusted everything/one. Show me was his slogan. So when God showed him His faithfulness, Jacob put away the gods. That God puts up with this testifies to His longsuffering grace. Each one of us, as believers, has vestiges of idolatry that remain, but in Christ and in God's covenant promises we are reckoned pure. This does not justify or excuse the idolatry, but it does forgive it.

The Return

I received this in chain letter email form. I don't pass those on, usually because I'm stubborn when threatened or bribed, though a friend pointed out recently that this is also wicked. Still, the message below was thought-provoking, getting to the reality of our faith and our hope:

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when
Suddenly a sound unlike any you've ever heard fills the air.
The sound is high above you.
A trumpet?
A choir?
A choir of trumpets?
You don't know, but you want to know.

So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up. As you do, you see you aren't the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors
are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.

The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see,
has never before been seen.

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None. From whence came
The light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet
of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

North.
South.
East.
West.

Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, holy, holy.
The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver- bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, holy, holy. Between each word is a pause. With each
Word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don't know why you say the words, but you know you must.

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet.

The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is.

Jesus.

Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King.
He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud.
He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration:
I am the Alpha and the Omega.

The angels bow their heads.
The elders remove their crowns.
And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:
Nothing else matters.
Forget stock markets and school reports.
Sales meetings and football games.
Nothing is newsworthy..
All that mattered, matters no more....
For Christ has come.

4.23.2007

Q&A time

What is your stance on sexual orientation?

We believe God designed the world for heterosexual relationships. In most cases homosexuality is voluntarily chosen out of sinful desires related to experimentation, resentment of male figures in life, etc. We do not rule out that some may be naturally born with inherent homosexual desires, though. (This has not been proven, yet, but hasn't been ruled out, either.) Just as a heterosexual male lusts after more than one woman naturally, so a person may lust after a person of the same sex. There is that desire there, but it must be resisted and denied. Having same-sex attractions naturally does not justify them, nor make one sinful just by having them; it is entertaining those attractions, identifying oneself by them, or acting upon them that is the sin. We welcome the person with same sex desires to follow Christ in denying one's self, according to Scripture. We reject the person who clings to the sin, as we would a person who clings to any other sin. (Homosexuality is not "extra" bad). We realize the depth of denial this calls for in some, and would want to help such a one through it lovingly.

4.19.2007

Comfort in Grief

On Another's Sorrow
by William Blake.

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear --

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not year.

Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

4.18.2007

Scripture that makes you go hmmm: Esther

Friend: Esther not only married someone outside her faith & people, but likely had sex with him before marriage (Esther 2:12ff).

Me: I think the situation made the whole thing forced on Esther's part. If she refused to go along at any point she would have been executed, so she was justified in submitting to immorality. Death/suicide is not the only morally justifiable way forward in such cases. One theme of the book is that God can bring good out of messy situations where you are forced to do wrong (POWs working for the enemy, etc).

Friend: "justified" is a word that would indicate Esther's premarital sex & marriage with a non-believer to be not sinful. This seems to suggest sin is relative to the situation instead of the act itself. Moreover, is it not better to die than sin?

Me: So every prisoner in the Nazi camps was morally required to commit suicide? To continue to live would be sinful? No way. The fault lies with the oppressor, not the oppressed, for the sin enforced. And, analogously, as prisoners making ammo for the enemy would sabotage whenever possible, so Esther sabotaged Haman, when God providentially put her in such a position.

Scripture that makes you go hmm....

A fellow pastor friend asked this, and I thought I'd pass it along to you. I'll answer in subsequent posts.



I've been wrestling with some passages lately and would like your take on them:

Esther not only married someone outside her faith & people, but likely had sex with him before marriage (Esther 2:12ff)

Jacob worshipped idols (or at least permitted them to be worshipped in his home) even after encountering God at Bethel and Peniel (Genesis 35:2)

Tamar dressed up like a pagan shrine prostitute to deceive her father-in-law into having sex with her (Gen 38:13ff), and she was considered righteous by doing so (Gen 38:26)

Paul used the Greek equivalent of "bullsh-t" to emphasize the contrast between worldly gains and knowing Christ (Phil 3:8)

1 Samuel includes a quote from Saul saying their equivalent of “son of a bitch” (20:30)

Ruth, at best, put herself in a sexually compromised situation with Boaz where Boaz told her not to tell anyone about it. At worst, given the connotations of the Hebrew words, she exposed his genetalia and approached him seductively (Ruth 3:1-14); and she was heralded as a righteous woman (3:11)

Job self-mutilated and abused himself (Job 2:8)

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego studied the pagan astrology and sorcery of Babylon (Dan 1:4, 17) and had learned it much more than anyone else (1:20). Surprisingly, they did not object to this but did object to the non-kosher food.

There is an ambiguous sentence in Hebrew that could be a gloss over Ehud worshiping idols after killing Elgon (Judges 3:26)

David did many things that neither God nor the narrator put into question: He lied to the high priest Ahimelech (1Sam 21:2), as well as to King Saul (20:6) and the King of Philistia (27:10);

he took Michal from her husband just because he had been engaged to her (2 Sam 3:14f);

he massacred women & children outside of God’s command (1Sam 27:9);

he killed two-thirds of all Moabites (2 Sam 8:2) even though he had earlier trusted them (1Sam 22:3);

he danced immodestly in front of other women (2 Sam 6).

An unnamed prophet tells one of “the sons of the prophets” to strike him, and upon the refusal condemned the “son” to death. The prophet then found someone else to wound him so he could deceive King Ahab (1 Kgs 20:35-40)

The church in Corinth baptized for the dead and were not rebuked (1 Cor 15:29)

How would you explain these "ungodly" characteristics when they are not addressed or glossed over by the Bible?

Virginia shooting

The Virginia Tech shooting tragedy a few hours from our home has raised questions. One of them regards guns. I saw an article devoted solely to the purchase of the weapons used, questioning recent legislation that allowed for the higher capacity/speed of ammo used by the shooter. Then I checked my email and read this by Douglas Phillips, of Vision Forum:

"Third, the worst response to school murders that our politicians could make would be to further disarm the American citizenry. The heavy death toll may in part be attributed to past legislation making it difficult for citizens to carry side arms. If even one of the students in that university had been armed, Cho Seung-hui could have been stopped. A strong case can be made that in a violent society like our own, it is the duty of every Christian man to be armed such that he is ready, willing, and able to come to the immediate aid of his neighbor in the face of the ruthless behavior of lawless men. We have one of two futures — a police state full of regulation and controls, where only the state and criminals have access to guns, thus leaving most women and children defenseless to evildoers, or an informed and well-armed population, which is, to my mind, the surest safeguard against lawless men."

(Keep in mind this was one side paragraph in a longer - and good - letter on God's purposes and providence. I'm taking Phillips out of context a bit.)

What do you think?

4.15.2007

Devotional questions

I'm reading in Mark this afternoon and have questions. I have some answers, but am interested in yours today.

Mark 14:3 and Matthew 21:17 seem to say that Jesus was staying in Bethany with Simon the leper during the week before Passover, but Luke 21:37 says He stayed on the Mount of Olives. Which is it?

Mark 14:48-50. Have you noticed that the disciples are ready to fight, and DO fight, for Jesus until He lets them arrest Him, and after that they forsake Him and run away? Why do they leave Him when they do?

4.14.2007

Stonewall's soft side

A great little book, compiling the extant letters of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson to his wife Anna. Potter concisely summarizes the key political, military and biographical moments of his life, and then lets the letters speak for themselves. Jackson's tender and earnest love for his wife and his spiritual zeal shine through.

My favorite came near the end, actually letter by his wife, describing how Jackson dealt with his 5-month old daughter, whom he did not get to see until she was that old, due to the war. He refused to pick her up from her crib until she stopped crying, and then only put her down when she did cry, training and breaking her selfish 5-month old will. Anna said he was as much like a stone wall over that crib as he was on the battlefield.

Stonewall was very popular with his men, and especially sought out chaplains for them, and took great interest in the spiritual revival that swept the camps during the winter of 1862-3. The theologian Robert Dabney, a relation of extended family, was also a personal aide of Jackson's for a time during the war.

Jackson's life ended tragically, as he conducted reconaissance ahead of his own lines. His own edgy and confused men fired on him, thinking he was the "Yankee invader." He was hit several times, needed an arm amputated, and then died of the ensuing pneumonia, with his wife at his side. He spoke of the rest and glory that awaited him, and when General Robert E. Lee sent a letter giving him the credit for the latest military victory, Jackson said Lee should have given God the glory instead.

I'll save the Civil War discussion for another time, except to say that I still won't call it the second war for independence, as some of my southern friends do.

4.10.2007

Stripping Wallpaper

We have an UGLY blue/brown floral border in our main floor bathroom. Ugh. And the bottom inch is curling up. Ugh ugh. So I decided it must go. But I've heard horror stories about removing wallpaper, hours scraping, damaged walls, and more.

So tonight I snooped around the web for a few minutes looking for tips or tricks and dove in. In 10 minutes I had the top "ugly" layer removed. But what about that paper backing? Easy as pie! In 5 min I effortlessly removed all the paper in the shower stall (wearing my skirt!). How?

Cascade dish soap. It removes nasty stuff from your dishes. It removes nasty stuff from your walls. Mix it with HOT water, rub it on with a rag, and lightly scrape it all off with a putty knife.

(And little boys are great for picking up all the paper pieces off the floor!)

4.09.2007

Messy

Spring is messy. Sure, it's beautiful with its blooming trees and budding flowers, but messy nonetheless. I walk outside and hear the ground squish, reminding me of the little mud-caked jeans I'll wash later that day. The house gets turned upside down as part of it's annual purging of the winter blahs. The ground is ripped open by farmers and gardeners. Green weedy gore is removed and new life put in. Messy work.

Monday was messy. We sluffed our sandaled feet through the 400 year old dust and gravel at Jamestown with the DeGoffau family. Cannons fired and we commandeered ships. We sat in the shade and revelled in PBJ's, sunblock and funny looking guys in costumes. But most of all we got messy and needed baths.

Potty training is messy. Isaiah is messy. He loves it. Messes mean nothing to him, but are an expected part of life. My task is to teach him what messes to glory in and which ones to nip in the bud. The young sapling needs a lot of tending yet.

Babies are messy. Especially crawling, runny-nosed babies. Dust bunnies stick to fleece clothes and mingle with goobers. Funny crusty things need to be chiseled off cheeks. Messy. Learning to stand leaves war wounds, but through tears and snot, bruises and blood, the warrior glories in it all. Victory comes through messes.

Bathrooms are messy. Not in the oft-used way (we do clean!), but in the leaky-toilet, spackle-dust everywhere sort of way. Little kids make messy holes in the walls. So a redecorating is in order. First make a mess, then restore beauty. Curling brown & blue wallpaper is not messy, just ugly. It will have to go. More mess. Bathrooms also are messy when men remove their beards. Clean cheeks leave messy counters. And confused children. Has Uncle Cal returned to visit??

Snow is messy. Yes, snow. Two inches or more of it, Saturday morning. Unearth the freshly washed coats and mittens and boots, stomp in the slush, stomp in the house, messy. We discovered which of our kids enjoy freezing messes and which don't. You'd be surprised at how quickly they turn "Southern." Snow is messy; I'll take it in the form of cones instead.

Good Friday was messy. Dirty feet, dirty dishes, betrayal, severed ears, denial, lies, beatings, death. Death is messy. And ugly. Some gloried in the mess, but for a while. All messes turn into beauty and life. That's how God does it. Over and over each Spring. Outside. Inside. Especially inside, in us. Gore removed and new life put in. Messy.

4.08.2007

Communion Exhortation - 4/8/07

Why, on Resurrection Sunday, when we celebrate the glorious new life of Christ, do we go back to Friday to remember His death? Why go back to the cross? Resurrection Sunday is not a time to shrug off and try to forget Gethsemane and the cross. In heavenly vision, John sees in glory, a lamb as though it had been slain. Even in the excitement and glory of new life, we must remember what makes that restoration and glorification possible. We cannot separate the events of Jesus’ life into compartments to be celebrated at different parts of the year. The incarnation we celebrate at Christmas makes the atonement of Maundy Thursday or Good Friday effective. The resurrection we celebrate today proves the atonement was effective – that it satisfied God’s wrath for our sin. And the resurrection and ascension shows us our future, and what the God-reconciled life looks like.

We see part of our future at this table: we are accepted as sons and daughters to eat and drink at His table, to live in His house forever. And this future is given to you ahead of time, that you may know that it is true now. The message of the cross, the empty tomb, and this full table, is that God loves and accepts us now, as much as He ever will. We don’t have to wait. We can know God’s love and acceptance now, as we believe that Christ died for our sins, and that in His risen life, we too shall rise and live.

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4.07.2007

I'm still knitting - here's proof!

Haven't put up many knitting-related posts lately, so I thought I'd share this photo of the Bianca's Jacket from Interweave Knits I knit for my Mom as a Christmas gift. My sister was the only one I could get to model it for the camera. This was a fast, easy, fun knitting project, although I think I would've put a weightier edging on the keep the front pieces from curling. I did lengthen the arms and body by an inch or so.


Currently I'm working on a pair of Jaywalker socks, Bayerische socks, bi-color brioche rib legwarmers, and plugging away on my Ella shawl. And I've started a scarf from "Victorian Lace Today." I've been tempted to start something else, like another large lace shawl, but decided I've got enough on the needles to occupy me for awhile! My goal was to do one pair of socks each month this year, but so far 3 months have passed and I've started 3 pairs (if you count legwarmers!) and finished ZERO! Jaywalkers will be finished this weekend. Promise.


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4.06.2007

It is Finished

It is three o'clock on Good Friday. According my sources, this was the time the Passover sacrifice was made for the Jewish nation. At the temple, a lamb was killed for the nation. And at the same moment (Mark 15:34), outside the city, God's Lamb cried out, "It is finished!"

The Shepherd had lain down His life for the sheep. I see the world around and outside go on as before, but this event changed history. And God's reconciling the world to Himself in Christ calls for a response from every living being. Will we receive Him, claim Him for our sacrifice, to take our place and take our guilt for our sins? Or will we walk on by, glancing at the crosses on the side of the road, but going about our own business, seeking to save our lives and in the process losing them?

Communion exhortation - 4/5/07

At the Old Testament feast of Passover, the family would have on their table at least, a lamb, sacrificed at the temple, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and wine. The lamb’s blood was required to hold back the Angel of death. Its body remained to be eaten. Jesus is our Lamb, and His blood on the cross removes the sting of death for our sins.

The unleavened bread had a double meaning. It was the bread of affliction and haste, since Israel did not have time to wait for their bread to rise as they were hurrying out of Egypt. The unleavened bread also showed the complete absence of the leaven of sin from the bread and from the household. When Jesus held up the unleavened bread and said, This is My body, He was saying in part, my life is free from sin like this bread. And so we use unleavened bread tonight. Jesus also speaks of leaven positively, saying the kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven that permeates and enlivens a whole batch of dough. So the imagery and the type of bread works either way. Tonight we remember the lack of leaven and sin in the body of Christ as He went to the cross for us.

We also have wine, which gladdens the heart of man, as the Psalmist says, but which also usually has a somewhat bitter taste. This is fitting for a feast remembering a death. The bitterness of wine represents the bitterness of Christ’s death on the cross, to free us from our bitter bondage to sin, which the bitter herbs at Passover also meant. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not all sugarcoated sweet spice, and we ought to remember this with our senses. If you usually take the juice, and you got the wine once by mistake, you know the surprising bitter taste. This is not necessarily a spiritually damaging experience, and can be an edifying one, as long as the bitterness does not overwhelm the joy of the feast set before us. The bitter taste reminds us: the blood of Jesus was spilled for us, and it was NOT a pretty picture. Christ’s passion was loving and gracious and kind, and it sets us at the Father’s table as His children, but Christ’s death itself was as bitter as sour wine. And He did it for you.

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Gardens, Trees, and Brides

It’s a strange thing, God created this world with a man and a woman in a garden, and He will recreate it at the end with a Groom – Jesus – and a Bride – the Church, in the garden-city of the heavenly Jerusalem. The second Bride has her beginnings right here, in another garden, with the women following Joseph of Arimathea there to see where Jesus is buried.

God’s story is much the same, at the beginning, middle and end. There is a man in a garden with a tree of life, and a woman is made for the man. At this central point of the story, Jesus Christ, the second Adam, had the right to enter the garden and take the fruit of the tree of life, and eat. But instead He goes to the tree and dies there. He is put to sleep by His Father, because – and this is the mind-boggling part - even in the glorious fellowship of the Trinity, it was not good that the Son should be alone. Something else is going on, and God’s purpose involves us. As Nicodemus and Joseph bury Jesus, they are followed by the women. They symbolize the second Eve, the bride being knit together, bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh. Our frame was not hidden from God when He was making us in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Because of the blood-stained tree, there can be a bride. The bride can be pure and accepted by the Father and suited for the Son, in spite of her past sin, all because of the tree. Col 2:13-15: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Gethsemane

The mount of Olives was called that for a reason. It was mostly Olive trees, and John’s gospel tells us they entered a garden to pray. This wasn’t a vegetable garden, but a grove of olive trees. The word Gethsemane is Hebrew for olive oil press. This is where the oil was made that would anoint a messiah for His ministry. But to make it, you had to press it out of the olives. So the olives in a barrel had huge pressure applied to them with a system of beams, pulleys and weights. And the oil would run down.

Jesus is distressed and heavily pressed down in Gethsemane, the oil press. So pressed that out of His body is squeezed drops of blood. And it is the punishment for your sin and mine that pressed Him. He was anticipating His Father’s wrath for your sin and for mine. The pressure was on. And He asked to have the pressure taken away. But only if it was His Father’s will. And the Father’s justice required that innocent blood for our sin. Just as the olive farmer went to a lot of work to press the olives to get the precious oil, so our loving Savior went through a lot of pain and torture to give up His precious blood. This is love. To shield us from the Angel of death with His own blood, pressed out of Him onto the ground and smeared on the cross on Golgotha.

One more thing about the olive press. This press was usually in a cave, underground, to achieve a cooler temperature for the olives. Passover was not the season for olive harvest and pressing, so the press, usually in a cave, would be rented out to feast goers to sleep in at night, as the city would be packed and booked to the hilt. Since Jesus’ group was going out to Olive mountain every night during the week (Luke 21:37), it seems he was probably sleeping in a cave with an olive press. Jesus was born in a cave, or maybe under a house with the animals, a short way from Jerusalem, and now finds Himself underground in a cave a short way from Jerusalem at the end of His earthly ministry. The reason He came to that first cave in Bethlehem was for these next few hours. There was no room in Bethlehem’s inn for the son of David, and now during Passover there is no room in Jerusalem for the King of the Jews. He must camp in a cave on the mountainside.

But He waits patiently outside the city for His hour to come. At His birth, God spares Him from Herod seeking to kill Him. Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt. But this time, Jesus does not flee. The same priests and scholars who collaborated with Herod and told Him where to find the baby, maybe even the same high priest, Annas, the same priests and scholars now find out from Judas where the man is, and deliver Him up to Pilate.

4.04.2007

The Right Right


My gadget that tells you what I'm reading appears to be down, but I just finished this novel by William F Buckley, Jr., and enjoyed it, though it appears to be a rather self-serving work. Let me explain.

The novel claims to be a historical look at the conservative movement in the early 1960s. I say claims, not so much because I doubt it, but because I know so little about it. Buckley portrays 3 branches of conservatism vying for influence: 1) the vigorously anti-Communists, to the point of conspiracy, where most political events are assumed to be manipulated by the commies to make us look bad. 2) the objectivists, headed up by novelist Ayn Rand. She was an atheist who taught that self-interest was the only way for capitalism to work, that altruism messes that market up, and that God and morality do the same. 3) the National Review writers and the Young Americans for Freedom group, which is painted as mainstream and sane.

Most of the book is about the meltdown of the first two groups, with National Review documenting and interpreting it. The conspiracy people lost credibility when they ranted against JFK soon after he was shot, and when they simultaneously assumed Communist plots caused it. Ayn Rand's megalomania did her in, as she consorted with her objectivist, and very married, lieutenant. When the latter called it off, she exiled him from the group.

The Young Americans for Freedom are depicted as an enthusiastic, orderly and parliamentary group at its beginnings at the Buckley home. I don't know much about them, but typically agree with Buckley's views.

The punchline of the book was when the main character, who was shot by the Communists at the beginning of the book and then joined the anti-Communist conspiracy theorists, finally resigned from them after being accused by them of aiding the commies, got married, and signed up to go to fight the Communists in Vietnam. I took from this the wholesome message that ideological rhetoric and membership in political groups isn't nearly as important as front line involvement against true evil.

Good light reading between theological tomes. The picture apparently refers to Ayn Rand's chain smoking habit, perhaps with an "up in smoke" sort of message.

Communion exhortation - 4/1/07

Today is Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and cleansed His temple of moneychangers and robbers. According to Exodus 12:3, it is also likely the day – this day or the next one – when each Jew was to choose a Lamb for Passover. Four days before the Passover. And so Jesus rides into the city, clears a path in the temple to choose the proper sacrifice and not get fleeced, and He offers Himself as the Lamb of God who makes possible the redemption and Exodus of God’s people from the house of bondage.

Choose your lamb today. Choose your table and your temple. Where will you look for resolution to your problems? Where do you look to solve political issues? To whom do you look to protect you from God’s wrath against your sins? Choose your lamb today. Identify with Jesus, God’s Messiah. Leave behind false pretenders, who claim to have the answers you want. Jesus is what you need.

Take Him with you for the next 4 days, until His Last Supper, when He offers Himself for us. Come sit with Him again Thursday night, and worship your suffering Savior. Remain with Him. Abide in Him, and you will bear fruit and hold fast to the last day, when He will save you.

You are invited now to come up to the heavenlies for a glimpse into that last day, when the wedding feast is given, when we sit down with our Savior, Redeemer, Lord, groom and friend.

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A U2 Maundy Thursday

I listened to this song today, while preparing for our Maundy Thursday service, and found it appropriate. It is written from Judas' perspective.


Until The End Of The World
U2

Haven't seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold, just passing time.
Last time we met it was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom.
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time except you.
You were talking about the end of the world.

I took the money, I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think.
You led me on with those innocent eyes
And you know I love the element of surprise.
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart.
You, you were acting like it was the end of the world.


In my dream, I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they'd learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy.
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy.
You, you said you'd wait till the end of the world.




And then there was this line from another song (Running to Stand Still), as I wrote of the bitterness of Christ's death on the cross:

Sweet the sin, bitter the taste in my mouth.
I see seven towers, but I only see one way out.


The bitterness here refers to the aftertaste of sin, though.
Not sure what the 7 towers means, but the one way out is Jesus.