Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hello from "Together for the Gospel"

Just to let you know, John Piper preached tonight. It was fabulous. In fact, the preaching was so wonderful and intense that I am worn out. I can't wait to collect my thoughts on the conference themes when i return home.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Off to Louisville!

My wife and I are making last minute arrangements before we leave town tomorrow, headed for the "Together for the Gospel" conference. "Last minute" means that I am basically scrambling to do things that I should have done last week but didn't. Bleh! I did change the oil in the car today. Aren't I manly?

For those who are concerned that Sojourner will be MIA for the next week or so...never fear. I plan on bringing my laptop and blogging about whatever interests me in the conference. Why do this on vacation? For one, I like to write. Secondly, I want to be like Tim Challies. Hopefully, I'll get to meet him while I'm there. If I'm lucky, some blogging genius will rub off on me...and maybe a couple hundred of his readers to boot!

For all you who thought I would certainly solve the law/gospel dilemma before I left...sorry to dissappoint. If I live, maybe I'll solve it when I return. For now, I'm signing off to go get money, mow the yard, pack some clothes, put gas in the car.....

Oh yeah, did I mention that we are driving to Louisville? We're nuts. Pray for us.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Wisdom in Keeping the Lord's Day

Up to this point in the discussion, I have stated no dogmatic position that I hold on the issue of the Lord's Day. In this short post, I will let all concerned know where I currently stand and why I am standing there. If you find me to be in error, I hope to be teachable. I am still investigating this subject.

I have come to an undeniable conclusion that the early Church held Sunday to be the Lord's Day. I believe that the evidence for that from the Scripture is too compelling to deny. That, to me, is signifcant. It becomes more clear that this is the case even upon a cursory examination of Church history. Sunday has always been a day in particular that has been set aside for worship of Christ and for the gathering of the body for worship and observing the ordinances.

For this reason, I believe that it is wise to keep this day special. I will endeavor to keep this day set aside for devotion, worship, and the ministry of the Word, and I recommend this practice to all Christians. Keep this day special for the Lord's sake. Not for some legalistic pursuit of justification, but rather as a time to relax and enjoy the bounty of God's goodness. In practice, I have always observed Sunday in this manner, though I do not know if it was previously a conscious effort on my part. I will admit now that I take great pleasure in the thought of Sunday being especially set aside by myself for special enjoyment of the things of God.

I am not, however, convinced that Sunday is the "New Sabbath." If you mean by "Sabbath" that Sunday is a one-to-one correspondance with the Old Testament ordinance. Not even the staunchest Sunday observer would believe it to be exact or else they would not meet on Sunday! Nevertheless, the Lord's Day is the Lord's Day, and it ought to be respected by all.

I find this discussion of the Lord's Day to be a bit like trying to convince a married couple that they ought to have children if God allows. Often, couples see children as burdensome, time consuming, money pits who encroach on their "freedom" to go to the movies, putt-putt, and dinner. It is hard to convince someone enamored with such things that I would trade every movie I ever saw to hear and see my son look at me again and say, "Pa-Pa" for the first time. You want to go fishing on Sunday? Fine. But I believe that you are flitting away a great delight in choosing the lesser thing. You have six days in which to fish, hunt, clean your garage, and do general labor. Why not, as a reasonable service to the Lord, complete those things so that Sunday is a day especially devoted to the Word and prayer? This is the legacy of your forefathers, no matter what denomination you belong to. The Lord's Day cuts across Arminian, Calvinistic, Baptistic, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic lines. It is as old an observation as the New Testament itself. We would do well to heed their example.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's The Principle of the Thing

In this discussion on the Sabbath day, we have flown over quite a bit of ground that merits further discussion. One of those things being the nature of God's law in the life of the believer. We know, and I am certain that we almost universally agree, that the law is holy and just and good. We also agree that no one will ever be justified by keeping the law; salvation is by grace through faith.

So how does the law function this side of Calvary for the believer? I do not agree that it no longer serves any purpose. I believe that it continues to bring us closer to Jesus Christ, not by obedience to it, but by the constant revelation that we need Christ Jesus to be our mediator. Positively, it teaches us about the wonderful, holy nature of our God.

No commandment of God is harsh or mean. Not even the commands not to trim the beard or wear mixed fibre clothing. The Bible teaches that every command God issues hangs on the principle of love. While some of the Old Covenant commands may seem absurd to us (I can't live without fried catfish!), they were given to us as an opportunity to love God through obedience.

It is for this reason that I disagree with Daniel on one of his statements. That is, I believe it is worse to steal a computer than to steal a pencil. Both are wrong, both make us lawbreakers, but the fact that more people are harmed in one instance than in another does actually make one sin worse. If part of the law hinges on the command to love our neighbor, the more dastardly we behave towards him, and the more neighbors that we offend, heaps guilt upon us.

It is not I who distinguishes between the severities of commandment breaking. It is a principle laid down in God's Word by God Himself. We see this even in the New Testament. Even a cursory examination of the evidence will illustrate that sexual immorality is particularly devasting in consequence to the believer. Certainly, the man who steals his neighbor's wife incurs more guilt than the one who steal his pen! Both are theives and lawbreakers, but one is exceedingly more abhorrent. However, both men are in dire need of grace and forgiveness.

I also understand that we, as Christians, are not "under the law." But I do believe that this means that it is no longer applicable in any way or valid for us. I believe that this means that we are no longer under the condemnation that lawbreaking brings. After all, the law is good and just and holy. The commandments of God are not burdensome. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments, etc. What the law does for the Christian is to remind him that he serves a holy God who punishes sin, and it reminds us of the tremendous debt we owe to Jesus Christ for bearing our punishment in our stead. We may still break God's commands, and when we do, we may rest assured that Christ suffered for it. So then, our love for Christ compels us to be obedient, faithful children.

In the end, for the Christian, the law plays a role in our justification only in the sense that it reveals to us our dependance for mercy from God. We recognize that the law is just and fair and good, and that we are lawbreakers, therefore our punishment for law-breaking is just and fair and good. Graciously, God in Christ reconciled us to Himself apart from the works of the law. The law drives us to grace to escape its deadly sting.

The question now remains to see if the law plays any role in our sanctification, and if so, how? If it does, which laws should we pay attention to? Oddly, besides the varying degrees of guilt for sins, Daniel and I basically agree up to this point I believe. The Lord's Day falls under the category of my second question here, and the principle I am pushing for is to find out if observing Sunday as a special day may somehow help in sanctification.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The London Baptist Confession of 1689 Concerning the "Lord's Day"

If you are just popping over here and haven't stopped by in awhile, you may want to scroll down and begin by reading the post entitled, "Are you a Nine Commandment Christian?" In that post, I raised the topic of Sunday being the "Christian Sabbath," and I noted that writers of the London Baptist Confession of 1689 holds that it is. I also pointed out the similar language is found in the Abstract of Principles that every professor signs when he becomes a professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary. This post is dedicated to following the LBC's line of thought to determine the veracity of the claim that Sunday is indeed the Christian Sabbath.

Among Reformed Baptists, the London Baptist Confession is held in high esteem. Some Southern Baptist Churches have adopted it as their own confession, often along with the Baptist Faith and Message. These two documents are not contradictory, indeed they are largely complimentary with one another. The LBC is arguably the better document of the two, and it is certainly more precise and detailed in content. You may peruse the document itself in its entirety at the Reformed Reader, the section specifically dedicated to the worship and the Sabbath is Chapter 22.

We will begin by examining the seventh article in Chapter 22. It states:
As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

If I understand the wording of this document correctly, and you'd have to be extremely dense not to, keeping the Christian Sabbath is not optional. It is a moral, perpetual, and binding commandment to all ages. In other words, Sabbath keeping was not abolished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not a matter of legalism to the framers of the LBC, it is a matter of morality. To not keep the Sabbath ranks with sexual immorality and idol worship.

The first Scriptural evidence given for this position is Exodus 20:8. Let's quote it for safety purposes:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

According to verses 9-10, Israel was to labor for six days, and on the seventh they were to rest. No problem. We knew that already.

Let's move on to 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 and see what light it will shed on the subject:
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

Paul, being an apostle, bound the Churches by command to take a collection on the first day of the week. That's Sunday for you who need me to be the Master of the Obvious. Was this a one-time thing? Why did Paul pick Sunday? Why didn't he simply command it to be done on the regular 7th day Sabbath? Let's move forward with the proof texts.
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight (Acts 20:7).

We see here that it was the custom of the disciples to meet, not on the 7th day, but on the 1st day of the week. Did this day just so happen to fall on Sunday by coincidence? Historically speaking, there is no doubt that the Christian church purposefully met on Sundays. It is improbable that they simply picked Sunday willy-nilly to meet on instead of Saturday. (Check out Pastor Steve Weaver's blog for a more detailed historical examination.)The most common explanation for this is that Sunday was the day of worship because Jesus rose from the grave on a Sunday, thus marking a new era. Whether or not they enjoyed Sunday as a new Sabbath remains to be seen!

Next text:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10).

Here, we have the first and only use of the term "Lord's Day." This, apparently, refers to the first day of the week. This has been the almost universal understanding of the term throughout the history of the Church. If indeed the "Lord's Day" refers to Sunday, and if indeed the other passages refer to the practice of gathering for Sunday to worship and bring offerings, then do we have enough evidence here to indicate that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath?

In this article, I have simply put the Scriptures before you that the LBC 1689 uses. We've only gotten our feet wet on the theological, historical, and linguistic issues. But I believe that their is sufficient evidence here to give us pause to consider our way, and not to dismiss the doctrine of the 1689 confession out of hand. What say you?

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Fought the Law and the Law Won

What started out as an innocent discussion about the traditional understanding of the Lord's Day has quickly devolved into a full-blown teaser about the role of the law itself. I will make a few comments about that, and then try to steer the discussion back to a discussion of the supposed "Christian Sabbath."

Here is one of the quotes from the comments that really took me aback, and it is from one that I consider a stalwart defender of truth in the blogospher. Here it is:

To magnify the law, is to belittle Christ, since His coming abolished not only the law, but fulfilled the purpose for which the law was sent.

Let's be positive first. I certainly agree that the law was and is a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ. How could I not believe that? But Daniel, to say that magnifying the law belittles Christ? That's a very strong statement. I certainly do not believe that to be the case anymore than it belittles Christ to magnify Scripture.

Do we consign David's "Ode to the Law", aka Psalm 119, to the belittling trash heap? Certainly not, and I do not believe Daniel thinks so either. Behold the words of Paul, "So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12). Phooey on Paul for magnifying the law by calling it holy, righteous, and good.

Let me play fair with this for a minute. If Daniel meant by his comment, "To magnify the law over Christ is to belittle Christ," then I totally agree. If, however, he means that any admiration for the beauty of God's law is wrong, I heartily disagree. I love God's law, and we know that the law is good as long as one uses it lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8). So in point of fact, the question is not whether or not we can use the law in regards to Christian Sabbath keeping, but rather whether it is a lawful use of the law. The burden of proof, I believe, rests on us to prove that there is no Christian Sabbath. Why does the burden lie with us, you say? Because it is we, not the writers of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, who are breaking with tradition in not holding to Sunday being the "Christian Sabbath." I will try to argue as they argued in that document that it is a day God has ordained for our rest and worship. Then we can examine their argumentation and reach a more informed conclusion. But to dismiss them as Pharisees and legalists is folly for us. We should take these men seriously.

I want to leave you with these thought about law in general. It is true that no flesh will be justified by dutiful law keeping or else Christ died in vain. However, isn't it true that the law has a sanctifying effect on the believer? Jim and Daniel have argued (and can argue well) that breaking one law makes one a total law-breaker. In the context of 1 Timothy 1:8, Paul writes that the "law" is for "the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually imooral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:9-10). I have no idea why Paul made such a long list when it would have sufficed to say that the law is for lawbreakers. But he did, and if we hold to the idea that Jim has said that we are breaking every commandment every day, then the law is indeed for us.

It for for us, the believer/sinner, to convict us of our ungodliness and bring us closer to Christ. In this, we magnify the law, just as an adult praises parental discipline in the forming of their character. This does not exalt law into the place of Christ, but rather it makes law a glorious instrument to the end of knowing Jesus Christ. That is a glorious end, and the means is good and just and holy.

Perhaps, if the 1689 LBC writers are correct, observing Sunday as the Christian Sabbath will grow us into further Christ-likeness and not lead us into a dead-end Pharisee trap. Hopefully, we shall see. Personally, I hope that they are right and I am mistaken. I am loathe to disagree with those who I so admire.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

I cannot possibly say it any better than this. Have a blessed day, and remember that you were loved before the world began.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Legalism, Pharisees, and the Sabbath Day

Inevitably, it seems, when one begins to speak of Sunday as the "Christian Sabbath," the specter of legalism raises it ugly heads. I find this accusation to be fairly limp and wet noodlish. The fact is that if an exegetical case can be made for a perpetual Lord's Day, it is no more legalistic to insist upon its observance than it is to insist upon sexual purity and truthfulness.

Let's be crystal clear here: no one will be saved through Sabbath keeping or sexual purity. Salvation is by grace through faith alone. No one is disputing that. However, if someone claims to be a believer and then ignores the commands of the Lord, they render their testimony doubtful.

I'm not trying to pick on Jim who posted a response in the comments, but I want to examine something he said because it is a fairly typical response. First, he mentioned that he breaks every commandment of the ten commandments every day. Now, I doubt this but let's give Jim some credit. He may be breaking every commandment every day. (I am certainly glad I'm not Jim's neighbor if he is killing someone every day!) This objection to not keep the Sabbath is still a non-issue. Most Christians, and I believe Jim to be one of them, would admit that they ought not to commit adultery every day, and in so much as God allows, they endeavor not to sin against their neighbor in such a manner. The other option is simply to throw up one's hands and say, "Oh well, I'm already a lying, cheating, stealing, adulterer, I might as well be a Sabbath breaker as well."

At this point, Jim moves the conversation to James and quotes, I believe, from James 1:10. Here James writes, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." I believe that Jim understands this to mean that if you lie, then you are a murderer. I do not believe that this is exactly what James is teaching here, however, for the sake of argument, I'm am going to go with this understanding.* The reason is because this understanding does not exempt us from keeping God's commands. In fact, if Jim is correct in his interpretation of this passage, and he is keeping every other commandment except Sabbath keeping, then he is a murderer as well!

I believe, then, the tradition of the Christian Sabbath must be explored to see if it is a Biblical principle. I believe that it is clear in Scripture that God took the Sabbath as seriously as any other command that He gave. For example:

1. He included the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. Nine of which are universally and literally affirmed, this one being the only exception.

2. Violation of the Sabbath was a captial offense in the Old Testament, demonstrating the seriousness of the command (Exodus 31:14, 35:12).

3. It is called a perpetual covenant for the children of Israel (Ex. 31:16).

4. God destroyed Israel for Sabbath breaking (Jeremiah 17:27).

So for the next post, I will use the London Baptist Confession of 1689 and see if they can build a Scriptural case for the Christian Sabbath. I will heartily take up Jim's advice if the document proves that this is indeed a Biblical principle and become a Sabbath keeper.

*Note: I believe that James is simply teaching that if one breaks a law, any law, then one has become a law-breaker. Any violation of God's holy law is a violation of the principle of neighbor-love, according to James. Our own law functions in a similar way. If one man steals a car, and another man kindnaps, they have both become felons. A liar and a murderer are both law-breakers and transgressors, but that does not literally mean that a liar is a murderer in the strictest sense.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Are You a Nine Commandment Christian?

You guys have probably noticed that Charlton Heston has left the building. He's been replaced by a newer version of "The Ten Commandments" this year on ABC. Hopefully, the newer version won't be entirely blasphemous and offensive. We'll see.

I figured since we're close to the Passover, it ought to be a good time to examine what we think about the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-17. Most of them are easy, but let's run through them anyway:

1. No other gods before God.


2. No idol worshipping.


3. Do not take the LORD's name in vain.


4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.


5. Honor your father and your mother.


6. Do not murder.


7. Do not commit adultery.

Ghastly to do such!

8. Do not steal.


9. Do not bear false witness.


10. Do not covet.


It was all fun and games except for number 4, wasn't it? We really aren't required to keep the Sabbath day anymore. That was abolished through Jesus' death. He's our Sabbath rest now. That's what we have always been taught, isn't it?

It may be true that Jesus' death and resurrection abolished Sabbath keeping, but that certainly is not what we have been taught. It is not the tradition handed down to us by our fathers. Our forefathers were convinced, nearly unanimously, that the "Lord's Day", Sunday, was the new Sabbath. Why do you think we go to Church on Sundays, people? Did we just pick the second day of the weekend arbitrarily?

Are you old enough to remember the "blue laws"? I am, and I'm only 31. In Alabama, virtually every business used to shut down on Sunday to honor the Lord's Day. My family scorned anyone to shame who dared to do work on Sunday. In fact, I was not even allowed to go fishing on Sunday, no matter how hard I protested that this was certainly not work. You did not wash your car on Sunday; you did not mow your yard; you did not clean your house. You were only allowed to watch football. (I guess football wasn't work, eh?)

The Southern Baptists have traditionally held that Sunday is the Lord's Sabbath. Behold these words in the Abstract of Principles signed by every professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (and probably a few of the others as well, such as Southern.) Here is Article XVII:

The Lord's day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

That was written for Southern Seminary in approximately 1859. They believed in the Lord's Day being the new Sabbath, beloved. All you Reformed Baptist types who love our heritage should also check out this quote from the London Baptist Confession of 1689. This is from Chapter 22:

As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.

The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

That is our tradition. Are you a Sabbath breaker? Or is the LBC 1689 simply mistaken at this point? Do you believe that we ought to worship on Sunday, or will any old day do just as well? You may be wondering if I am a "Lord's Day" advocate. I would say no, but I'm leaning towards yes. To this day, I can not bring myself to work on Sunday other than to do the work of ministry. I would never in a million years mow my yard on Sunday. So what say you, dear reader? Why have we so nearly unanimously become Nine Commandment Christians?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gospel Blogger Meeting!

Something scary is going to happen at the Together for the Gospel Convention, 2006. All the bloggers who are out there blogging for the Lord are going to meet. That's right, you'll have to crawl out from behind your monitor and show your pale, sun deprived face to the rest of us. I know for many blogger, introverted types that this is a horrifying thing to contemplate. You can be so eloquent on the keyboard, but face to face is a whole new ball of wax. Well, you can relax. We're all friends there.

If you are interested in finding out how nerdy I am, please go to Timmy Brister's place and let him know that you will be there. As I understand, the meeting will be held prior to the conference while registration is going on. So come on, don't be a chicken. Let's meet and hang out. We'll do lunch one day. No, I'm not necessarily paying. I may if you are a starving seminary student, but if you are a starving pastor you are on your own.

Oh yeah, and when you email Timmy, let me know that you are going. I'd like to run an FBI check on you before we get together.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Partiality, Sanctification, and Feeling Blue Like Jazz

On Sunday mornings, I am preaching through the letter of James. This week, our text was as follows:

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. SO speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:8-13)

As we know, God is not a biased judge. He does not care about our ethnic backgrounds, our beauty, our poverty, or our country of origin. Further, I believe that Christ's command to us in John 13:34-35 expands upon what James quoted. Indeed, I believe that "loving one another" as Christ has loved us is the ultimate example of neighbor love. And lest we forget, Jesus loved us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8).

This brings me to something that has been in my mind since I read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. I reviewed it here somewhere, and if you can find it you'll know more about what I said than I do. I have mostly forgotten. However, I do remember that overall, I mostly enjoyed the book. Hopefully, that doesn't mean that I lose all my street cred as a snooty, Reformed guy. Be that as it may, I enjoyed the book.

There were parts of that book that I didn't like. I try to be careful with the things that I say, all potty posts aside. Sometimes, I felt that Miller pushed the envelope. But that's fairly small compared to the thing that really bugged me about the book. The thing that has stuck with me for months now is that Donald Miller would probably like everyone but me because I am a mean fundamentalist.

While I agree that we should extend the common love and courtesy due to all men as image bearers, habitual sin irks me. It doesn't anger me so bad in people who do not claim to be Christians. I expect that. But when people who claim to be Christians seem to be pushing the envelope in the name of "Christian Freedom," I get antsy very fast.

It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode. Jerry had a dentist who was a Roman Catholic and an amateur comedian. The RC dentist converts to Judaism and starts telling "Jewish" jokes to Jerry. Jerry is jealous, it seems, that the dentist is now able to tell both Catholic and Jewish jokes because the dentist has become "one of them." So, Jerry goes and complains to the priest. Jerry says, "Hey, this dentist is converted to Judaism just so he can tell jokes." The priest says with concern, "This offends you as a Jew?" Jerry exclaims, "No! It offends me as a comedian!"

I get the same feeling when I am around Christians who love to assert their freedom to do certain things because they are "free in Christ." Unfortunately, I lack the discernment that Jerry had. I can't figure out if I am offended as a teetotaler, a Baptist, or a Christian, or simply because I am an idiot. But the bottom line is, I do not like tatoos, pierced ears in men, and most rated "R" movies. While I'm being totally honest, I'll admit that I do not like most movies and most television.

So, does this make me a colossal jerk, a legalist, and unsanctified? Perhaps it does. I feel like clarifying, so I will. I actually do not mind tatoos and piercings of various kinds on Christians who did that sort of thing while they were living apart from Christ. It doesn't even phase me. The actual thing that bothers me is when people who say that they are Christians insist that they can do such things even if it offends the sensibilities of every member of the Church. All this in the name of freedom.

It is the same thing that irks me about anyone who pushes the envelope; they have just enough space and "freedom" to keep themselves from real rebuke. They are masters of knowing where the line is, tip toeing up to it, then backing off. And folks like me, whose duty it is to know where that line is drawn, have to be constantly irritated by such behavior. It is fantastic fun for the line walker, but none for me.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bionic Eyeballs

Okay, I need some input from my readers. I have a consultation Monday about having eyeball laser surgery. My eyesight is rather sorry, and without my contacts or glasses I am reduced to stumbling about like a drunkard. My world becomes a blurry mess without correction, but this laser-beam surgery is supposed to fix all that.

In fact, I am not even corrected to 20/20 with contacts. Well, maybe for a day, but by the time I leave the eye doctor my vision has gone south again. So, I am at last considering surgery for my eyes. My wonderful, precious eyes.

I have two reasons for considering this scary procedure. The surgery is surprisingly affordable, so I will actually save money in the long run. Contacts cost money, and after this procedure I won't need them. Another is that it would be so wonderful not to have to wear contacts or glasses ever again.

However, I have to admit that the idea of a laser beam slicing open my eyeball is not a very comforting thought. I would have less revulsion over the removal of a kidney. Indeed, I believe I am more in love with my eyes than my kidneys. You may find this silly, but I don't. I doubt I could maintain sanity if I couldn't read my cereal box in the morning, not to mention that I wouldn't be able to read Scripture.

So, what do you guys think? Have you had this surgery? Do you think I'm nuts for this? (My wife thinks I'm nuts because I haven't already done this.) What do you think? Is it too risky, or am I being a weenie?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Some New Links for Your Edification

If you are coming here to read my thoughts, and this is the only blog you stop at, then you are really missing out on some quality writing, discussion, and devotional thought. Of course, most of you are at work, so you only have time for a few stops a day. Take your time. You'll be working until you are seventy most likely. Peruse the list over there and find your favorites, and after you do, tell them I sent you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ice, Ice, Baby?

All I can say to this Can you believe that people spend time doing this sort of thing?

Monday, April 03, 2006

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Listen, you can laugh at me if you want to, but I love my dog. No, I do not love her more than my family, nor do I hold her in higher esteem than any human being, but I love this dog nevertheless. I believe that this is a noble sentiment that the Lord God greatly approves of. He Himself delights in animal life, and I can prove it. First of all, Biblical sense dictates that this must be true because He created them in the beginning and called them good. Secondly, I can find explicit truth that God delights in the creatures He has made from Scripture itself.

Psalm 104 glories in the creation that God has made, and part of that creation specifically mentioned are the animals that He made to inhabit the earth. The Psalmist says that the lions, "roar after their prey, and seek their food from God" and that He put the Leviathan in the sea "to play there." Then the Psalmist prays that God will "rejoice in His works," which I believe that God does.

This is enough for me to believe that God loves the creatures that He has made, that He daily provides for their needs is another tip off that He is concerned for their welfare. In the Garden of Eden, part of the stewardship of Adam was that he name all the animals (cf. Gen. 2:19-20). He was given the stewardship over them as well; I can only deduce that this meant he was to care for them in some way (cf. Gen. 1:30). They were not expendable, worthless creatures. They were to be cared for and provided for by God's man.

I believe that this is why I have the fondness for animals that I have, especially those animals that are most loving of man. My dog has an undoubted fondness for me as well. She even knows when I'm in a bad mood. She's a good dog.

I further believe, because I am a literalist, that there will be animals in heaven. Behold the Revelation, all ye Left Behind lovers!

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war...And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses (Revelation 19:11, 14).

Here we have Jesus Christ coming out of heaven sitting on a white horse. Not only is Jesus riding on a white horse, but so is everyone in the heavenly army. If there are no animals in heaven, then where did the Lord get all those horses? And if the elect are a part of that host, then I may deduce that I have a horse to ride as well. And if horses are there, then why not dogs? They are noble creatures as well.

Perhaps you will blanche at such a literal interpretation of an apocolyptic text. Well, get over it. Jesus Christ is coming on a war horse and the hosts of heaven will ride with Him in one final, glorious charge against the forces of darkness. Charge of the Light Brigade indeed!

I had a dog when I was a boy named "Tramper." As to her breeding, she was an American dog. That means we had no idea of her ancestory, and as for love of a genetic "class" my family has historically been no respecter of breeds. This dog followed me to school, played with me at home, gave birth to multiple litters of puppies, and was generally one of the greatest dogs to grace the planet. Tramper died at a ripe old age doing what she loved best: chasing cars. She finally caught one, much to my dismay and grief, but much to her delight I suppose.

So here it is then, will Tramper be in heaven? I honestly couldn't tell you if that exact dog will be there, but I believe, sincerely, that there will be animals in heaven. I believe that they will be glorious ones who will exemplify the greatest aspects of our pets here on earth. They will be loyal, loving, and gracious, and they will enjoy our affections for them. If this is the case, then I will most certainly see Tramper, only I will see her magnified a thousandfold in all of her most outstanding attributes. Heaven is, of course, magnificent because Christ Jesus is there. The golden streets, the Father's house, the walls of the New Jerusalem, blooming fruit trees, the rivers, and yes, even the animals that I believe will be there will make heaven that much more heavenly. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

P.S. And whoever ran who over her without stopping, a pox upon you and your house!! That such a noble dog should have to lie in the street like a common animal is repulsive. She should have had her dignified burial immediately.

Church Rolls and AWOL Members

Since everyone seemed pretty pro-discipline in the last post, I thought we would talk about a little discipline project we're doing down at the local church. Ashamedly, dear reader, our membership roll is grossly bloated. If you look up FBC Plaquemine on the website, you will find that we boast over 400 members. Unfortunately for us, a good Sunday's attendance is only around 135. So where in the world are the other 265 people?

Some of those are on the "non-resident" roll. That means that they are members who now live out of town. I believe that this list was originally created for men in the service who went overseas on duty. Now, I am afraid it is simply a "catch all" list for AWOL members. That said, there are a little over 270 souls on the "resident" membership roll. It is those that I am most concerned over.

It is probably that church discipline has not been practiced at FBC Plaquemine in a good 40 years. In fact, I am not certain that it has ever been practiced, though it may have been. I hope to correct that. We have checked the resident membership list, we have highlighted all AWOL members, and we are going to be contacting them in the near future. The bottom line of this contact is to find out where they have been, why they aren't attending, if they are followers of Jesus Christ, and to let them know that if they do not begin participating, their names will be removed from the membership roll.

Some of the faithful readers of this blog are thinking, "Wow, what a great idea." Other, more seasoned readers are thinking, "Dude, you're gonna get fired." Actually, both may be true. But I take the words of Scriptures literally and seriously, and so I feel that I am constrained to act in this manner. Thus saith the Lord, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account" (Hebrews 13:17). I will give an account for how I shepherded this people. If I am rejected for keeping watch, then I will be shed of that burden. No eternal loss for me there. If the people accept their covenant responsibility because of this action, then our church will actually grow while it shrinks numerically. Pray for us while we continue in this process. We wish to act wisely. The deacons have already given unanimous support for this move. We'll be making those visits and sending those letters very soon.