Serving Jesus through discipleship

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Larry’s Musings

As I was going through The Cost of Discipleship and writing the post Understanding Bonhoeffer’s Thoughts on Grace, my mind went to the five points of Calvinism. (Which I disagree with by the way.) The five points are:

  1. Total Depravity
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited atonement
  4. Irrestable grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints

After briefly reviewing the five points (which I won’t go into here), I concluded that Calvinism’s pillars aren’t really the problem concerning cheap grace, although I believe one or more contribute to the problem!

I then questioned the five solae. These are:

  1. Sola Scriptura
  2. Sola Fide
  3. Sola Gratia
  4. Solus Christus of Solo Christo
  5. Soli Deo Gloria

I definitely agree with the five solae! However I believe that often they are poorly taught and many times misunderstood. Since I am commenting on the chapter Costly Grace, in posts subsequent to this I will attempt to question the way the concept of Sola Gratia is taught and how I believe it is misunderstood.

By the way, I welcome any ideas that differ from my own!


Thinking about continuing

I’ve let this blog sit for a while now. Should I pick it up again?

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day



Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863

Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln’s son Robert, introduced this Resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The Resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The Resolution was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

A Woman’s Right

Have you ever wondered why liberals disguise their actions and motives with altruistic labels? As an example, take the American Civil Liberties Union. This organization’s name engenders visions of a good fight for freedom. The consequences of their activities are quite different. “Silent Night” can’t be sung at school; the Defense Department must stop sponsoring Boy Scout troops; a tiny Christian cross must be removed from the Los Angeles County seal; Nativity scenes on a courthouse lawn are unconstitutional. Americans’ heads are spinning, as they wonder what the next judicial outrage will be: Removing “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency? Firing all military chaplains? Expunging all references to God in America’s founding documents?

Another example is Planned Parenthood. In recent years, they have been the subject of several investigations which have resulted in the involved clinics closing. In some cases, they are violating law to peddle their services.

I want to talk about the so called “Pro Choice” movement. To most conservative thinkers, this is a euphemism for “Pro Abortion“. Let’s examine the choice.

I totally agree that a woman has the right to choose! She has the right to choose whether or not she will engage in sexual activity. As far as I know, no one is trying to take that choice away. There are Christian and other conservative groups that believe a woman should be encouraged to abstain from sex before marriage. But there is no effort afoot to make pre marital sex illegal. Every woman has the right to choose if she will have sex or not.

If the woman chooses to have sex, the logical consequences of which is pregnancy, she has to choose whether or not to become pregnant. If she chooses not to become pregnant, she again has many choices available to effect that choice. The most radical is sterilization. I can certainly understand why that would be a very undesirable choice; it is however very effective and permanent. Too permanent!

Another choice is the rhythm method of birth control. This method is not very reliable and does not allow for spontaneity. I can understand why this would not be a preferred choice as well.

Another choice is the use of condoms. Studies have shown that condom use can be 98% effective in the prevention of pregnancy. In addition, condoms can be made more effective by including the use of a spermicidal agent. They are inexpensive, readily available at drug, department and grocery stores and even some gas stations. Some brands include a spermicide. Many contain a lubricating agent. Some have features that are said to enhance pleasure of both the male and female during the sex act; they even come in colors! There are condoms that are made for women as well as for men. The condom is the only choice, other than abstinence, that will prevent sexually transmitted diseases. This sounds like a pretty good choice if pregnancy is to be avoided.

Another choice is the vaginal diaphragm. This method is slightly less effective than the condom. It relies on a perfect fit to prevent the sperm from entering the cervix. This perfect fit is very hard to achieve given the flexibility of the supporting tissue. As with a condom, its effectiveness can be increased by incorporating a spermicide.

Another choice is the Intra Uterine Device (IUD). This is more effective than most other forms of birth control. It is reported that the IUD is 99.4% effective. However, the following risks have been reported: increased menstrual bleeding, uterine perforation and expulsion. Other disadvantages are the high cost of insertion, it doesn’t prevent disease and it will need to be removed by a doctor.

Finally, there are several methods of hormonal therapies that are effective at preventing pregnancy, the most common is the birth control pill. According to Contraceptive Technology magazine, this form of birth control is 99.7% effective. The disadvantages are that it requires a prescription, can be relatively expensive and may have some side effects associated with the use of steroids.

I forgot. There is one more choice. A woman may choose to ignore the possibility that sex may lead to pregnancy and choose to not take precautions. So far, I count seven choices that a woman must make. Wait! There are more!

So Now You’re Pregnant

The choices some women make may lead to undesirable results! What now? Well, you have choices.

You may choose to carry and keep the baby. I understand that for some women, this is just not possible. They are too young and their parents would never allow it. A baby would be a terrible inconvenience. It may interrupt your career plans or even demolish them. Becoming a mother just isn’t feasible.

You could choose to put the baby up for adoption. Thousands of young couples spend millions of dollars to adopt children from overseas. The reason they choose overseas babies is that there are no babies to adopt in this country. Out of about 130,000 adoptions in the US each year, 13% are foreign adoptions.

Some states provide for the parents of unwanted children to just drop off their children at a designated facility. No questions asked!

What The Pro Choice movement wants, is to encourage the expectant mother to murder her unborn or just born baby. The method used to perform this murder, in some cases, would, if performed on animals, cause some animal right groups extreme consternation. Yet, the outrage about the methods used in this murder and even about the murder itself is conspicuous in its absence.

The justification for all of this? “It’s just a blob of tissue!”   Remember a few years ago the scientific community was super excited about the possibility of life on Mars. They thought they had found a meteorite from Mars that, under an electron microscope, revealed a bacteria-like structure. This bacteria-like structure was evidence of life. However, a fully formed child in the womb with lungs, a beating heart, a brain, arms, legs, fingers and toes is not life. It’s just a blob of tissue.

“It’s my body!” is another of the feminist’s mantras. Let’s examine that claim. Take a look at the fetus’ DNA. It is definitely human. It is definitely not the mother’s DNA! Just the fact that DNA is present is evidence of life and the fact that the DNA of the child is not the DNA of the mother shows that the claim of “It’s my body” isn’t a valid argument. It is true that the developing child cannot survive outside of the mother’s body, yet. It is also true that some abortions are performed long after the point where the fetus could survive outside of the mother’s body.

As a society, we have endued women with the ability to chose the fate of our most helpless of citizens, our unborn children. When we try to proclaim that no one person should have the authority to end the life of another, we are accused of waging a war on women.

As a method of birth control, not even abortion is 100% effective. There are many stories of children being born after the mother attempted an abortion. You can read the stories of the children of these failed abortions here. We almost never hear of the psychological effects an abortion has on the mother. The feeling of guild and despondency.

I believe that the reason that the Pro Choice movement even exists is because abortion is big business. The abortion industry’s annual revenue is nearly half a billion dollars. Planned Parenthood alone accounts for about $345 million of that. Today, in the United States, over three thousand babies will be murdered at the hand of their mother and we don’t even raise an eyebrow.

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Getup Get God

Getup Get God (Photo credit: prettywar-stl)

I really can’t believe that it has been two weeks since I posted anything. I started blogging daily when I decided to record my thoughts on this blog after my morning devotions. It took a little longer to do that than I really wanted to spend but I wanted to get my thoughts down right away. So, writing for the blog became the main thing.

Is a morning quiet time supposed to be about God? Yes it is! I realized that my prayer time was really suffering because I was too busy writing. I do still identify a passage that strikes me each day, write a few short thoughts and identify a way to apply that passage of scripture to my life. My intent was to revisit that passage in the evening and then expand my thoughts. I have been remiss. I am happy to say that my time with God is more satisfying to me; and I hope, to God.

Now, again, worshipping my God is the main thing. My morning devotions are once again allowing me to focus on my creator which allows Him to work through me.

Burger King Christianity

What is happening to the Church that Jesus started nearly two thousand years ago? Would He recognize it as the institution whose members would live like He lived, bringing honor and glory to the Father who is in heaven? That same church today tells us that Jesus died for our sins; taking the punishment that we deserve, in order that God‘s perfect justice would be satisfied. What we don’t hear so much is that He also was an example to us of how to live a life that glorified God and that we are supposed to follow that example.

Three distinguishing marks of Jesus and the early church were: separation from the world, unconditional love and childlike obedience. Jesus was obedient to the Father and the early church was obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Separation From The World

“No one can serve two masters,” declared Jesus to his disciples (Matt. 6:24). However, Christians have spent the greater portion of the past two millenniums apparently trying to prove Jesus wrong. We have told ourselves that we can indeed have both-the things of God and the things of this world. Many of us live our lives no differently than do conservative non-Christians, except for the fact that we attend church regularly each week. We watch the same entertainment. We share the same concerns about the problems of this world. And we are frequently just as involved in the world’s commercial and materialistic pursuits. Often, our being “not of this world” exists in theory more than in practice.

But the church was not originally like that. The first Christians lived under a completely different set of principles and values than the rest of mankind. They rejected the world’s entertainment, honors, and riches. They were already citizens of another kingdom, and they listened to the voice of a different Master. This was as true of the second century church as it was of the first.

The Letter to Diognetus, the work of an unknown author, written in about 130, describes Christians to the Romans as follows: “They dwell in their own countries simply as sojourners…. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time, they surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned. They are put to death, but [will be] restored to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich. They possess few things; yet, they abound in all. They are dishonored, but in their very dishonor are glorified…. And those who hate them are unable to give any reason for their hatred.” The Letter to Diognetus can be found in the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

A Love Without Condition

Christian symbol: This symbol was used primari...

Christian symbol: This symbol was used primarily amongst Christians in early church history (1st and 2nd century A.D.) etc etc… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At no other time in the history of Christianity did love so characterize the entire church as it did in the first three centuries. And Roman society took note. Tertullian reported that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!”

Justin Martyr sketched Christian love this way: “We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”

Clement, describing the person who has come to know God, wrote, “He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.”

A Childlike Trust in God

To the early Christian, trusting God meant more than a teary-eyed testimony about “the time I came to trust the Lord.” It meant believing that even if obedience to God entailed great suffering, God was trustworthy to bring a person through it.

“A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he really does not believe God,” Clement declared. To the early Christians, to claim to trust God while refusing to obey Him was a contradiction (1 John 2:4). Their Christianity was more than verbal. As one early Christian expressed it, “We don’t speak great things—we live them!”

One distinguishing mark of the early Christians was their childlike, literal obedience to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. They didn’t feel they had to understand the reason for a commandment before they would obey it. They just trusted that God’s way was always the best way. Clement asked, “Who then is so irreverent as to disbelieve God, and to demand explanations from God as from men?”

They trusted God because they lived in awe of His majesty and wisdom. Felix, a Christian lawyer in Rome and a contemporary of Tertullian, put it this way: “God is greater than all our perceptions—He is infinite, immense. Only He truly understands His true greatness; our hearts are too limited to really understand Him. We are making a worthy estimation of Him when we say that He is beyond estimation…. Anyone who thinks he knows the magnitude of God, diminishes His greatness.”

The Church Today

Have it Your Way

Have it Your Way...

Have it Your Way… (Photo credit: Richard Elzey)

The church in America today is firmly planted in the world. Church members are only required to invest 1 to 3 hours a week “serving God”. Most church members that the work of the church should be done by the clergy and that the laity job is only to financially support that work. This attitude has become so prevalent that even the pastorate, for the most part, has bought into it.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in
common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) If this command relayed to us by the Apostle Paul would be obeyed, we would see a stronger community of faith. As it is, the children of “Christian” parents are no more sin resistant than the children of atheist parents. More than likely, these families are Christian in name only! So their children date, and eventually marry, someone that doesn’t share their faith. As a result the faith that they have ends up becoming compromised or even abandoned.

This may be the cause of the divorce rate in the church being the same as the divorce rate in the country at large. The world says that life is ‘all about me’; what makes ‘me’ happy. The world says that if you are a Christian you should tolerate sinners, including the sin. The church is believing them. The world says that we should tolerate homosexuality. In our tolerating what God says is an abomination, the world’s agenda is to encourage this abomination. It has even gotten to the point that several major mainstream denominations have ordained homosexual clergy.

Christ taught love the sinner and hate the sin. It appears to me that we have turned it around. We hate the sinner and love the sin. If we loved the sinner we would lovingly encourage him to repent of his sin and be reconciled to God. By accepting the sinner and his sin, we are allowing the person to remain at enmity with God and damning his soul to hell.

With the plethora of denominations and several churches in each community competing for the same membership, it is no wander that there seems to be no objective standard of Christian behavior. If your behavior is incompatible with the teachings of one congregation, the congregation down the street will be more than happy to accommodate. Christ meant for His church to help reconcile people to His Father. Much of the church in America today is quite happy to allow you to be damned and will help you feel good about it; therefore beware!

In the “Sermon On The Mount”, Jesus gave us a stern warning. “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Belonging to the right church will not get you into heaven! Being born in the right family will not either. There is only one way to enjoy a favorable outcome in eternity; follow Jesus!

Is this Christian Love?

This morning I was attending my father’s funeral at St. John the Baptist Catholic church. I am no longer Catholic and haven’t been for many years. I credit Catholicism for grounding me in my Christian faith. During the Mass however, I could not stop myself from remembering why I quit the Catholic church and how the ceremonies that I was watching seemed so wrong.

How unchristian of me to criticize the way another denomination chooses to worhip our God! After a few minutes of reflection, I realized how petty that was and also how utterly human.

It is only human to criticize someone whose customs are different that our own. I remember this little verse from an album that was popular wan I was a teenager. The album was a comedy album by Dave Gardner (Brother Dave Gardener). The name of the song is National Brotherhood Week. A performance of this can be fo0und on youtube. One of the verses went like this

Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
The Muslims hate the Hindus
And every one hates the Jews

You’ll need to watch the performance to hear the refrain. The point is that we have more than enough things that divide us, we need to focus on the things that we have in common and practice love for one another.

St. John The Baptist Catholic Church, Dayton, ...

St. John The Baptist Catholic Church, Dayton, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a Blessed Weekend

This morning my reading was  1 Chronicles 23 – 25. this passage did not speak to me, so this blog post is devoid of any spiritual content. Also today I am leaving for the weekend, my next blog post will most likely be Tuesday.

Have a blessed weekend!

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