Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Need MORE Religion!

I'm sick and tired of hearing fellow Christians bad-mouth and bash "religion." It is an insult within Christian circles (especially the charismatic ones) to be labeled "religious." Religion is bad. Religion is the problem. Religion is what's wrong with the church. You hear this kind of thing all the time these days. I can't take it anymore. I have had my fill of popular religious leaders attacking "religious people." The modern church's attack on religion is like a drowning man attacking a life vest. The church today needs a lot more religion. We don't need to be warned about too much religion; we need to be warned about too little religion.

If you believe in God's Law, you're just being religious. Even if you just believe in ethical standards, you're just being religious. If you believe that, in worship, all things should be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40), you're just being religious. If you "do not let your good be spoken of as evil" (Rom 14:16), you're just being religious. Morals? Religious. Form? Religious. Modesty? Religious. Propriety? Religious. Suit and tie? Religious. Discernment? Religious. Church bulletin? Religious. Self-control? Religious. Everything seems to be labeled religious unless it is spontaneous, casual or carnal. Somehow, within Christian circles, "religious" has become the insult of insults similar to "intolerant" or "legalist" or "bigot."

At the risk of being labeled "religious" for doing so, I am going to use Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary to define the word "religion." I know it is not very postmodern or emergent to define terms these days but here I go anyway:


  1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.
  2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. James 1.
  3. Religion, as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law.
Being accused of having too much religion is like being accused of having too much belief in the being and perfections of God or in the revelation of his will to man or in man's obligation to obey his commands or in a state of reward and punishment or in man's accountableness to God. What's wrong with godliness? What's wrong with performing all known duties to God and our fellow men? What's wrong with religion? James said, "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless" (James 1:26). James says that to not bridle your tongue makes your religion worthless. I'm afraid that many Christians today would say bridling your tongue makes you religious.

James continues by adding, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). Performing our duties to our fellow man and keeping ourselves unstained from the world is religious, yes, but it is also good. Pure religion is the only true religion. As Noah Webster said: "the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion." False or filthy religion is not religion at all. Also, reverence, respect, ritual and rote does not quench the Spirit. When we do not allow the Spirit to be seen in our actions (pure religion), that is when we suppress or “quench” the Spirit (but that's another post). What we, the modern church, need is more religion. May the Holy Spirit grant us more religion.

Looking Back - Not Forsaken

"As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so he will not forsake you because you are low."

~ John Flavel

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bring thy lust to the gospel - John Owen

"Bring thy lust to the gospel,—not for relief, but for farther conviction of its guilt; look on Him whom thou hast pierced, and be in bitterness. Say to thy soul, "What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Ghost for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, that the blessed Spirit hath chosen to dwell in? And can I keep myself out of the dust? What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How shall I hold up my head with any boldness before him? Do I account communion with him of so little value, that for this vile lust's sake I have scarce left him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great salvation? In the meantime, what shall I say to the Lord? Love, mercy, grace, goodness, peace, joy, consolation,—I have despised them all, and esteemed them as a thing of nought, that I might harbour a lust in my heart. Have I obtained a view of God's fatherly countenance, that I might behold his face and provoke him to his face? Was my soul washed, that room might be made for new defilements? Shall I endeavour to disappoint the end of the death of Christ? Shall I daily grieve that Spirit whereby I am sealed to the day of redemption?" Entertain thy conscience daily with this treaty. See if it can stand before this aggravation of its guilt. If this make it not sink in some measure and melt, I fear thy case is dangerous."

~ John Owen, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers

Basset Hound Beat Box

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Everyone Prays Like a Calvinist

B. B. Warfield wrote this:

He who comes to God in prayer, comes not in a spirit of self-assertion, but in a spirit of trustful dependence. No one ever addressed God in prayer thus: "O God, thou knowest that I am the architect of my own fortunes and the determiner of my own destiny. Thou mayest indeed do something to help me in the securing of my purposes after I have determined upon them. But my heart is my own, and Thou canst not intrude into it; my will is my own, and Thou canst not bend it. When I wish Thy aid, I will call on Thee for it. Meanwhile, Thou must await my pleasure." Men may reason somewhat like this; but that is not the way they pray.

Food Art

Monday, May 26, 2008

Looking Back - All in All

"Christ will be all in all, or nothing at all."

~ Thomas Watson

The Children of Caesar

Looking Back - Murmuring

"The greater and more abundant the mercy that we enjoy, the greater and the viler is the sin of murmuring."

~ Jeremiah Burroughs

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kids Rock

Friday, May 23, 2008

Looking Back - Revival vs. Reformation

"I dream of a new reformation - a reformation that is not simply a renewal of life but a new vision of life: a vision that yields new forms and structures in society and culture. As long as Christians restrict their Christianity to a religion, a faith that is compartmentalized and isolated from life, they can have revival but never, ever reformation. We need to hear and do the Word of God in all of our lives."

~ R.C. Sproul

Atheists Are All Hypocrites

One of the favorite critiques of the church and Christianity by atheists and evolutionists is that the church is full of hypocrites. What a hypocritical critique. It is the Darwinian evolutionists, the so-called secularists, that are secretly Christian. They are the closet Christians. It is the secularists that are cheating and faking and pretending. Hypocrisy means to wear a mask like a stage player. It is the secularists who are acting like Christians.

No one really acts like an evolutionist. The secularists are cheating. No one really acts like a Darwinist. The secularists are stealing. They are stealing from the Christian worldview. They are not going around and randomly butchering or raping or eating each other. These secularists are acting as if life had meaning and significance. They are acting like they believed in morality. They are acting as if they believed in the Christian idea of right and wrong or good and evil.

You can always count on the atheist to ask the question "how could an All-Knowing and All-Loving God allow evil to happen in the world?" See what I mean? What a hypocritical question. They claim to live in a solely material world of randomness but that very question that they ask presupposes that there is such a thing as evil in the world. The have to steal from our worldview (of good and evil) in order to prove our worldview is false. What hypocrisy!

The secularist has no basis for ethics. As Cornelius Van Til put it: "All the optimistic theories of non-Christian ethics may be compared with men who think that they can leave this earth in a balloon. It is a contradiction in terms to think that one can leave this earth by earthly means and materials. Every balloon is bound to return to earth sooner or later. So every optimistic non-Christian theory of ethics is bound to return to pessimism sooner or later." Any optimism or certainty about ethics from an atheist is pure hypocrisy. Non-Christian ethics are nothing but relativity and randomness dressed in Christian clothes.

If the secularist really believes he is just a result of random chance or an accident (a toss of the cosmic dice) than why doesn't he act like it. Why does the secularist act as if there was such a thing as transcendent value and worth in the universe? I can't be an evolutionist or an atheist because they are all hypocrites. They don't really act like evolutionists. They don't go around raping and eating each other like animals. So, until they start walking the walk instead of just talking the talk; until they start living up to their own faith and beliefs I am not going to be going to their "church." They are all just a bunch of hypocritical closet-Christians.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Looking Back - Humility

“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.”

~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beware of the "Me Monster"

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt 23:12)

Poop and Fruit

Now that is probably the strangest title for a post that I've done. My students and I are reading through Luke and Acts this week. In our reading I came, again, across this text. "And he [Christ] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’" (Luke 13:6-9).

Notice the relationship between fruit and manure. No fruit means more manure. Biblically, "fruit" means doing good works or thinking good thoughts. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5)." Doing nothing means bearing no fruit. So, the parable in Luke 13 is warning us that doing nothing guarantees more stinky manure. When you lack good works (fruitlessness) you might need some manure. Manure fertilizes the soil. Good soil means more fruit. More fruit means you won't be wasting space in the vineyard or be cut down or cut off.

We all know that in life, "manure happens." Stinky stuff happens to us. What we fail to realize, many times, is that it is God who is doing it for our good. For "those who love God," Paul says, "all things work together for good" (Rom 8:29). God can take stinky, dirty manure and use it for good in our lives. He can use it to grow fruit. He uses it to make us grow and mature. You could say: "no stink, no sanctification." As Martin Luther beautifully put it: "This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not what we shall be but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified." Yes, manure happens, but when it does we should rejoice in the Lord of the vineyard because fruit happens as well.

Looking Back - Perspective

"One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak."

~ G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

The thing that my kids and me have most in common is that we both have the best mom ever. Happy mother's day mom and happy mother's day to my children's mom!

This was a letter written to Ann Landers:

  • I'm so tired of all those ignorant people who come up to my husband and ask him if his wife has a full-time job or if she's "just a house-wife." . . . Here's my job description.

    I'm a wife, mother, friend, confidant, personal advisor, lover, referee, peacemaker, housekeeper, laundress, chauffeur, interior decorator, gardener, painter, wall paperer, dog groomer, veterinarian, manicurist, barber, seamstress, appointment manager, financial planner, bookkeeper, money manager, personal secretary, teacher, disciplinarian, entertainer, psychoanalyst, nurse, diagnostician, public relations expert, dietitian and nutritionist, baker, chef, fashion coordinator and letter writer for both sides of the family.

    I am also a travel agent, speech therapist, plumber and automobile maintenance and repair expert . . .

    From the studies done, it would cost more than $75,000 a year to replace me. I took time out of my busy day to write this letter, Ann, because there are still ignorant people who believe a housewife is nothing more than a baby sitter who sits on her behind all day and looks at soap operas. (Ann Landers, May 1988, quoted in Mom, You're Incredible, by Linda Weber, Focus on the Family, 1994, pp. 23–24)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Van Til - Does Air Exist?

"Now, in fact, I feel that the whole of history and civilization would be unintelligible to me if it were not for my belief in God. So true is this, that I propose to argue that unless God is back of everything, you cannot find meaning in anything. I cannot even argue for belief in Him, without already having taken Him for granted. And similarly I contend that you cannot argue against belief in Him unless you also first take Him for granted. Arguing about God’s existence, I hold, is like arguing about air. You may affirm that air exists, and I that it does not. But as we debate the point, we are both breathing air all the time."

~ Cornelius Van Til